Age of Innocence

June 24, 2008

I must admit I have a morbid fascination with Amazon’s “Listmania!”.  I love to see all the lists people make and I even have one or two of these stupid lists myself.

I recently ran across a list that started me think about (you guessed it!) my childhood.  The list contained someone’s idea of the Top 30 Classic Sci-Fi Movies (1950-1960):

http://www.amazon.com/Top-nbsp-30-nbsp-Classic-nbsp-Sci-Fi-nbsp-Movies-nbsp-1950-nbsp-nbsp-1960/lm/3C1LIYKP0D7UK/ref=cm_srch_res_rpli_alt_1

Late Friday night we would watch “Creature Feature” on some local station and invariably they would show a number of these movies.  This is where I first saw, and fell in love with, “The Day the Earth Stood Still” and “Creature from the Black Lagoon”.

As an adult living in the age of digital enlightenment (after all we DO have the internet and mobile phones) I look back at these movies with a nostalgic eye that overlooks a lot of the cheese factor in these movies.  They were from a time of everything nuclear (or nucular if you are named George) where there was hope for humanity and a limitless future.

At times the acting was poor, the special effects laughable, and the monsters/aliens rubbery; but they formed a kinda comfort blanket that covered a part of my youth.

Over the years I have seen all of the top 30 on this list and although my numbering would be different you can’t go wrong by pulling one from the top 5 and watching it with an eye toward pure innocent entertainment.

I while ago I noticed a book lying around the house called “Dragonriders of Pern”. The picture on the cover looked interesting (My usual criteria for choosing any book….If someone put an interesting cover on the “Pediatrician’s Guide to Childhood Nasties” and put it on display at Borders I would buy it) so I picked it up and started reading it.

Here is a short story background:
The setting is a very low-tech feudal society in which an elite ‘knighthood’ are chosen to become the “Dragonriders”. The riders form mental bonds with giant telepathic dragons whose mission is to protect the planet from a radioactive-like ecological menace called ‘thread’ that periodically falls from the sky when the Red Star passes too closely to Pern

I was blown away. This book had a magical power to it unlike any other book I have ever read. It was so mind numbingly stupid and empty of any substance, I found that I could do several things while still reading. I am not one for special super-hero powers, but this book brought me close. For example:

1 – I could watch TV and read at the same time (not even the Flash can do this!). I found that after the last chords to the CSI theme song (the original of course, not some of the knock-offs on nights other than Thursday) had sounded I had read 5 pages AND knew the plot to CSI AND had laughed at Grisom’s one liner. Match that Batman!

2 – I could run 2 miles (treadmill miles so you do the conversion), watch highlights on ESPN AND read whole chapters

Now, I live in a place that has passed a law where mobile phone usage while operating a motorized vehicle is considered capital punishment, so I never tried reading while in the car, but my guess is I could read a good 10 pages EACH direction of my commute, in heavy traffic, and get to work safely.

In my opinion, this power is unmatched by any other book!!

If I had to choose a Scifi reality to live in, I think it would be Battlestar Galactica. I want to show up to work looking like crap. Seriously. Those guys over in Star Trek, Babylon 5, and even the supposedly rough-and-tumble Firefly look pretty darn good each time they show up on the bridge or in command and control. But not on the Galactica. Let’s take a look at everyone’s favorite character, Colonel Tigh:

 No, not that one, the other one…

Man, he looks like he’s been to hell and back, but he’s still there in command and control answering those bulky phones, “Galactica Actual”, and spinning up the FTL drive for 10 minutes at a time. Now, I work for a hi-tech company, so by the end of the week, I pretty much look like Saul. When I get to the scraggly beard stage, I want it Tigh style, not Riker style, you know? The Galactica is where I want to be. In the real world, there is one place, however, where I can go looking like utter crap and no one even bats an eye. It’s a place where guys can go and dream of being as devil-may-care as Saul Tigh. Thank the Lords of Kobol there is such a place because it seems I end up there almost every Saturday in my perpetual battle of home ownership: Home Depot. Maybe one day, I’ll even see the Colonel there.

Just another quick note on this (see #5 on the previous entry). Can you imagine the time it must take to send that over one of their modems? They’ve got to be just as high-tech as their phones. In fact, here’s a picture of one for you now:

But no need to worry, that thing is a full 300 bit/s! They could send a whole 180kb in the 10 minutes it takes them to spin up their FTL drive. Now that’s impressive.

My Own Revelations

June 15, 2008

So watching last weeks episode of BSG I had some revelations of my own

1 – There will be no Lee Adama to rescue us from being held hostage by the Sci-Fi network. How long are they going to drag this out… Perhaps each episode could be 10 minutes long and they could just turn the last episodes into another season.

2 – Boxy never made it to Earth

3 – With all the advertising $$$ they must be rakin’ in on this series you would think the CGI would be better. The scene with the ships flying toward Earth was something lifted directly from Flash Gordon. Not the 1970s variety but the 1940s cliff hanger variety. I submit as evidence (start at time index 4:00).

4 – Taylor: Oh my God. I’m back. I’m home. All the time, it was… We finally really did it.
Taylor: You Maniacs! You blew it up! Ah, damn you! God damn you all to hell!

5 – Finally, I caught a fleeting glimpse of the Matrix programming for BSG. I have reproduced here what I can remember of the program:

Battlestar Galactica (“alt_Title=BSG”, “Genre=Overproduced21stCenturySciFi”) extends Human_Self_Destructive_Nature {{
        Machine_Cleansing();
        Human_Escape(“Rule=Military”,”Mission=Find Earth”);
        All_is_not_as_it_seems{
            They_walk_among_us();
        }
        Find_Fake_Sanctuary{
            Allowed_to_feel_comfortable();
            Bring_into_subjection();
            Escape();
        }
        Place_hope(“Savior_figures=Final 5, Christ Figure, higher power”,”Emotions=”Love”,”Greed”,”Loyalty”);
        Sleep(“duration=12 Months”);
        Join_forces(Human,Machine,”Situation=Mistrust”);
        Find_Earth(“Scenario=Blown_to_hell”);
        Sleep(“duration=unknown);

}}

As I’ve admitted to in earlier posts, I’ve been watching Lost via www.abc.com streaming. For those of you in the know, you’ll know there’s two episodes called The Man Behind the Curtain and The Beginning of the End where a man suddenly appears for a brief moment sitting in a seemingly empty rocking chair that was rocking on its own. Watch the clips to get the full impact:

Creepy. And it made me remember. Back in the 70s as a kid, I loved to watch Night Gallery on Friday nights. I only recall one episode actually because it was so freaking scary that it was burned into my memory forever. Green Fingers. It was about an old Lady who loved to garden and claimed she could grow anything. A land developer comes to buy her out, but she won’t sell, so he sends someone to kill her. She outsmarts them, though, and before they kill her, she cuts off her own thumb and plants it. At the end of the episode, there she is, alive and sitting in her rocking chair laughing. Covered in roots, she says, “…everything I plant grows, even me…” It scared the crap out of me! Watch about the first 1:25 of this clip:

OK, I admit it is pretty cheesy watching the video, and the music actually creeps me out more now than the actual scene does, but I swear it was way scarier than that back in the 70s. Forget about those wimpy movies that are considered scary these days, like the Ring and whatever else. This was Way scarier. Way scarier.

So, last night, I get into bed and roll over on my side facing the wall. There between me and the wall is one of our family heirlooms, something that I grew up with and inherited from my mom when she passed away – the ROCKING CHAIR. I literally jumped and scooted as close as I could to my wife. She got a good laugh out of it. Way scarier I tell you.

Star Wars: Clone Wars

June 12, 2008

OK… So I am sure I will have my gold tier membership in the Star Wars fan club either reduced to just member or perhaps revoked all together for this posting but here goes anyway…..

I saw the theatrical trailer for Star Wars: Clown Wars on the big screen over the weekend and I gotta tell ya I wasn’t that impressed. Don’t know if it will be worth my $10 admission and $1M worth of crap I have to buy at the concession stand.

As I watched the trailer The story line semed OK and the animation of the backgrounds and ships seemed OK but the animation of the people (am including Yoda and Jabba in this even though they aren’t people in the strictest sense of the word) seemed like they decided to animate clay figures.

Now it may just be me (has happened many times before) but I think they could have spent a weee bit more time on the character animation. I mean I watch [adult swim] on a regular basis and love a lot of the Japanese anime out there. Even the most mediocre anime is better than what I saw in that trailer.

For comparison look at a scene from Star Wars: Clown Wars and a 5 year old Ghost in the Shell

You tell me which is better……

Anyway my 2 cents, perhaps I am due some change

I realized that an earlier entry on this topic missed the wonderful fashion sense of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. How can you go wrong with white spandex pants? Especially if you are a member of the Earth Defense Directorate.

What made me realize that Buck was missing? Well, a couple of days ago there I am with my wife and daughter picking up a pizza, when this guy jogs past our car. No one had to say anything because all three of us burst into instant laughter. The guy had stolen Buck’s pants! For him, the future has obviously arrived.

I keep reading that J.J. Abrams’ reboot of Star Trek is going to respect the original spirit of the classic show’s action and adventure. I have to tell you that I’m a little leery of this. Without the real Jim Kirk, is there really a chance that we’ll be treated to such wonderful childhood memories again? After all, let me ask you, what did Jim Kirk teach us all about being bullied? How to fight back! There was no need to spend large sums of money on Karate classes when you could get a weekly (or daily syndicated) dose of Jim Kirk Kata. Let’s examine some of the finer moves of this grand master. You can watch these videos with the sound on, but I suggest you turn it off not to get distracted. Trust me, it is much more of a Zen experience this way.

Off the Wall

The Roll

The Projectile

The Kirk Chop

OK that was Bones, but you know where he learned it.

The Shirt Rip (turn the sound on for this one. The music is too good to pass up)

OK not a move per se, but always good if the ladies are watching.

And last, but not least, the Flying Double Chest Kick. The video is long, and a good watch if you have the time to study and learn all those awesome moves, but you’ll want to skip to time index 220, 505, and 620 to see the master of all Kirk Kata moves.

Now, let’s watch the mother of all Jim Kirk fights. If you have the time to learn just a few moves, this is the video to watch. Learning these few moves will get you out of any situation where your life may be threatened by slow moving lizards and flying boulders. Essential stuff. If you’ve watched the other videos with the sound on, you MUST turn it off now to properly enjoy.

J.J. Abrams and Chris Pine, if you really want to recapture the childhood magic of such action and adventure, I think you know what you need to do.   

Cylon Cannibal Humor

June 6, 2008

WOW! 3 posts in one day…..

Why is Six afraid of Seven? Because Seven Eight Nine

HAHAHA!!