Friday, March 31, 2006

Shave My Yeti

Friday, March 31, 2006 1
Shave My Yeti.  I really don't have anything else to say about this.

bad show!

Sandy and I watched an episode of unan1mous last night.  I think it was the second episode.  This is a New Fox Reality Show and this should tell you everything you need to know.  Honestly, the concept isn’t bad.  They take 9 people who don’t know what they are getting in for and lock them in a “bunker”.  They need to unanimously vote for one person to win 1.5 million dollars or they have to stay.  If someone leaves the prize money is split in half.  The rule is that you cannot vote for yourself, but everyone else would have to vote for you to win the money. 

 

Well, after the first vote (on the first episode) it wasn’t unanimous (shocking!) and three secrets were revealed and they all had to vote on a secret to eliminate a person from having the chance to win the money. 

 

This show is just needlessly complicated and it feels forces and a little scripted.  Sandy thinks one of the guys is an actor (and a bad one, at that).  There is just needless drama being tossed.  The new deal on this second episode is that every second a decision isn’t made a dollar will be subtracted from the total and it works like a countdown clock...except that it is money. 

 

Aaaand I’ve just lost all interest in writing about the show.  The bottom line is that the show is really dumb.  It’s an interesting concept, but the producers are trying to do way too much with it. 

 

 

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Cylon God

Tuesday, March 28, 2006 0

Something that I’ve been wondering about since I started watching Battlestar Galactica is why some of the Cylons talk about God.  It is clear that this is a universe far removed from the Christian God, so that isn’t the God they are talking about.  The humans refer to the Lords of Kobol as their gods (Gods?) and midway through Season 1 we see Starbuck with a couple of little statues/icons that she prays to.  The humans are of the 12 Colonies of Kobol with the 13th lost Colony being Earth.  I think I have that right.  So any spiritualism or religion from the humans makes sense to me. 

 

But the Cylons?  These are machines.  Sure, there are the different models of Cylons which look like humans and are virtually indistinct from humans, but isn’t a human modeled Cylon still a machine?  We see the red lights go up their back in a couple of more intimate scenes, so they are machine...and in my mind a machine is essentially logic based.  I get that these may be advanced machines with synapses and nerves and maybe neurons and whatever goes on upstairs in a human, but they are also programmable machines. 

 

So...why is Number 6 essentially a preacher?  She may be a bad example because she’s in Baltar’s head somehow and could, in theory, but part of his subconcious, but when we see different versions of the Number 6 there is still religious discussion.  And other Cylons have talked about their God.  But...why does a logic based machine need a God?  If Cylons were first made by man and later made by other Cylons, where is God?  They know their creator.  It’s not divine. 

 

It makes no sense and I’m not sure there will be a grand payoff with this...ever. 

Book 23 - Finding Serenity

In my quest to not let go of Joss Whedon’s Firefly I took the time to read Finding Serenity: Anti-Heroes, Lost Shepherds, and Space Hookers in Joss Whedon’s Firefly by Jane Espenson.  Epsenson has written for Buffy and Firefly, among other programs.  Finding Serenity is a collection of essays dealing with various aspects of Firefly and the essays were written after the end of Firefly, but before Serenity.  Some essays talk about why Firefly went off the air, there is a comparison of Firefly and The Tick, and another with Star Trek.  Other essays deal with the women on the show, the relationship between Wash and Zoe, and other things that would find their way into a critical essay.  My favorite in the book is written by Jewel Staite.  Staite played Kaylee on Firefly and she writes about her five favorite moments from each episode.  It is fun to see how much of a fan Jewel Staite is of the show, and what stands out for her. 

 

There did come a point where I skipped ahead on some essays because the critical comparisons got a bit tiresome, but overall this was one last gasp of Firefly and shows a range of Firefly’s fans.  For me this was worth reading because of Jewel Staite’s essay because I was very curious what one of the actors thought of the show.  She gushes a little. 

Monday, March 27, 2006

Did Not Complete - Viriconium

Monday, March 27, 2006 1

I am sad to report that I will not be completing M. John Harrison’s Viriconium.  I made it some 60 pages into the first book The Pastel City, but the book just could not hold my interest.  I started this book way back before The Reality Dysfunction, Claw of the Conciliator, Finding Serenity, and Hyperion.  I have finished three of those books and I’m now farther into Hyperion than I was into Viriconium.  I know it’s a collection of three short novels and some short stories, but if I can’t make it through one short novel because I don’t care what happens, it isn’t worth the time spent reading.  Maybe there is something really special later on in the book, but I just won’t be finding out. 

 

This way I’ll be able to get through what I have at home: Hyperion, A Knight of the Word, and Legacies.  When that is done, I think I’ll be bringing home Memories of Ice from the library and get back into this Malazan world.  Now I wonder if the library has more of Erikson’s novellas (I do believe The Healthy Dead is next since I’ve read Blood Follows). 

Narnia review coming!

Woo hoo!  Buena Vista Home Entertainment is sending me a free review DVD of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.  I’m excited!  They are actually sending me something I really want to see and just didn’t get around to seeing it in the theatre!  And to be honest, does Narnia need help to sell copies? 

 

That said, as I told my wife, BVHE is probably buttering me up because they’ll send me a review copy of Aquamarine in a couple of months.  You just wait.  I’ve called it here.  If they’ll send me Ice Princess, they’ll send me Aquamarine

Friday, March 24, 2006

Book 22 - The Claw of the Conciliator

Friday, March 24, 2006 3

Disappointed.  I was rather impressed with Gene Wolfe’s The Shadow of the Torturer and looked forward to the next volume in his Book of the New Sun.  I had the typical moments of trying to figure out where exactly Wolfe had left off and who a couple of characters were, but I settled in fairly well.  So I start reading and working my way through the book and I’m confused.  What’s going on here.  There was a little bit of this in book 1, but in The Claw of the Conciliator it seemed like Severain wasn’t even trying to get to where he was going.  Our torturer was just floating along on the wind sort of moving in a northerly direction but perfectly happy to do something else that he didn’t believe in, either. 

 

My biggest problem is that I couldn’t see how any of what happened in the nearly 300 pages had any impact on the overall plot of storyline that might be building.  It felt like an entire book of filler material and the ending was filler. I’m quite sure that some important things happened, but I just couldn’t say what they were and why they couldn’t be compressed to 50 pages.  I’ll read The Sword of the Lictor, but my anticipation is much less than it was before this book.  Just disappointing. 

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Book 21 - The Reality Dysfunction: Emergence

Thursday, March 23, 2006 0
The Reality Dysfunction: Emergence is the first half of the first book of Peter F Hamilton's Night's Dawn Trilogy.  Originally published as three very large volumes, each volume of the trilogy has been split in half.  I have just finished reading 1/6 of the story.  To say that there is a lot going on here might be the understatement of the year.  Where do we start?  Let's start with the Ly Cliph, some sort of alien race from an incredibly inhospitable planet who in their deaths have found a way to transcend life and scour the universe seeking knowledge.  The first human planet one views is Lalonde, which will come into play later in the novel.  Then we have the Voidhawks and the Edenists.  Edenists are these genetically modified humans (split off from the Adamists who feel that is wrong), and Voidhawks, grown spaceships with a consciousness.  And then we have Joshua Calvert, a scavenger turned pilot with "luck" which may be psychic ability.  Then we have colonists on Lalonde, a newly colonized world so it is still tough and backwater.  And then we have Ivets, prisoners for whatever reason on Lalonde.  And then we have...
 
There are several other things that are likely to be major, but there is just a whole lot going on and some stuff may have a hundred or more pages in between having viewpoint chapters.  And this is only half of the book.  It's big science fiction.  It's also quite readable.  There are some science details that I just gloss over, but it isn't overwhelming.  The size, if anything, would be the overwhelming thing.  And the immense amount of story going on makes it difficult to see what the actual story is of The Reality Dysfunction.  Perhaps after I finish the second part of the novel I'll have a better grip on it, but I can see why some people would not enjoy this or would get discouraged.  I'm very interested and I really enjoyed this book.  I just hope the pay off is worth it. 

Battlestar Mini

It is interesting watching the mini-series of Battlestar Galactica for the first time after you have seen the second half of Season 2 and only the second half of Season 2.  I really did jump into the show at a strange time.  I held off at the beginning of the season until I just had to test it out, and then I loved the show.  So, there are certain things that I know the results of.  Obviously, I know that Sharon Valerii is actually a Cylon (something not revealed until the final shot of the mini), I know how President Roslin’s cancer turns out, I know that I wish Boomer left Baltar on Caprica because Baltar jacked stuff up after the election. 

 

The mini on DVD worked like a 3 hour movie, and I really liked it.  It made a lot of sense of how they went from pre-war to being nearly wiped out.  I can’t wait to start Season 1!

Man on Fire

I have to say that I am surprised to admit it, but I rather enjoyed Tony Scott’s Man on Fire.  The title isn’t entirely accurate as it should have been Man on Slow Burn, but that isn’t nearly as good of a title.  Here’s what we know going into the movie: Denzel Washington is a bodyguard to Dakota Fanning.  Dakota Fanning gets kidnapped on his watch and Denzel goes for revenge.  That’s the whole premise of the movie and I knew part of the timeline a couple years ago, but I forgot that it isn’t until 50 some minutes into the flick that Fanning gets taken.  The first 50 minutes are build.  Build of some tension, build of the relationship between Fanning and Denzel, build of why exactly Denzel would go after the kidnappers.  It’s not bad.  Fanning does a good job, which somehow surprises me every time she does so and shouldn’t by this point, and Denzel is...Denzel.  An excellent actor. 

 

Christopher Walken says of Denzel’s character that some men are artists in painting or music, but Denzel is an artist of death and this is to be his masterpiece.  And, in a way, he’s right.  Denzel is brutal and inventive in how he works up the ladder of folks involved in the kidnapping and it’s impressive.  You believe that Denzel can do this stuff and you believe that he will do everything he says he will...mostly because he then follows through.  It’s a hero doing very bad things.  And we cheer.  Maybe that says something else about the viewer. 

 

My only gripe is the ending, and I can’t discuss it in detail because that would just be a full blown spoiler and I try not to do those.  I felt let down in two ways.  I felt that the ultimate end cheapened some of what came before, though in another sense it fit.  The only thing I’ll say about that is to pay attention to Denzel talking to the nun earlier in the movie.  There is a theme that plays through the entire movie. 

 

I think Man on Fire was panned by quite a few critics when it came out, though there were those who really admired and enjoyed the movie.  I think Man on Fire is somewhat underrated because it is a pretty decent movie.  Nothing special, but good performances and a good simple story.  Tony Scott is a bit jumpy in allowing some camera work that was about to make me car sick and that wasn’t necessary, but most of the film plays straightfoward without the camera trying to give you epilepsy. 

21 Up

In 1963 director Michael Apted made a film called 7 Up.  It had nothing to do with the soft drink.  Apted takes 14 kids from England and has the plan that every seven years, starting at age 7, he will film them and see how they have grown and who they are.  There is a quote that runs through the series (so far) that says “Give me a child at age seven and I will give you the man”, and this is what Apted is investigating.  Is there anything in these children at age 7 that we can see specifically shaped them into who they will turn out to be.  After 7 Up came Seven Plus 7, and now 2121, or 21 Up, is the third film in the Up Series and as may be guessed features these original 14 children at age 21. It is interesting to me to see these same kids from 7 to 21 and now that they speak clearly I no longer wish the film was subtitled.  But it is difficult to see how interesting these men and women are.  In most cases when they talk about their lives, I just don’t care.  There is one boy in particular who seems to be having a rough life now and is dealing with some form of depression that was just a struggle to watch.  The upper crust boys are interesting because a particular group of three friends are very different now.  One is very stiff British and more than a bit of a snob, one is much more laid back and understands the oddity and pure luck of being born to a wealthy family, and the third is in the middle somewhere. 

 

I am far more interested in seeing what changes have occured in their lives than I am in the films themselves.  Interesting as an experiment and I understand there is an American series now doing the same thing which started in the early 90’s, but there is nothing here that says “Wow!  What a great movie!”  Apted has to spend enough time showing us who the kids were that I suspect with each passing film there will be less and less new content. 

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Junebug

Sunday, March 19, 2006 0

Amy Adams was fantastic in this movie. She takes a character who could easily have been irritating and unintelligent and instead gives her such heart and likeability. It’s easy to see why her performance has been so loved.

The movie itself, however, was not so good. What was up with those lingering shots on empty rooms and scenery? As the director isn’t Terrance Malick, they seemed quite unnecessary and could have turned a 100 minute movie into a pretty decent 80 minute movie.

Alas. It wasn’t to be.

But we love Amy Adams.

Friday, March 17, 2006

ANTM-Jade

Friday, March 17, 2006 0

Not a lot to say about this week’s episode of Top Model, but I think that Jade is a real bee-yotch and I really hope she gets booted in the next round.  I think she was in the bottom two to prove a point.  She’s not that good of a model and really needs a good humbling.  That’s all. 

 

And they really need Janice Dickinson back as a judge in place of Twiggy.  I can imagine Janice just ripping into Jade and the other girls. 

Thursday, March 16, 2006

understanding the claw

Thursday, March 16, 2006 1

I’m midway through Gene Wolfe’s The Claw of the Conciliator and I’m wondering what happened to my excitement.  It’s been a good couple of months since I finished The Shadow of the Torturer and I remember really being impressed by that book.  It wasn’t love at first sight, but I liked what Wolfe was doing and I liked where he was going.  And that whole thing of knowing a certain reality about the world that the characters didn’t really know yet, though some do...that helped.  But 107 pages into the original hardcover version of Claw and I’m kind of missing the point.  Severain, our exiled torturer, is on his journey northwards to city in which he is supposed to work and has done some itinerent work in the meanwhile, and it just seems that there are these pointless sidetracks just to throw in some action.  This is supposed to be a classic of science fiction and fantasy (because to be honest I’m not sure which genre it will ultimately belong), and so I have to trust Gene Wolfe on this journey, but I’m in a big ol’ “huh?” stage right now.

 

Nick, I tried answering your question as a comment but I think it got lost.  I started out really enjoying the first Book of the New Sun volume.  I’m quite a bit less sold on book 2.  I have every intention of finishing the four volumes and eventually moving on to some Wizard Knight, but I’m kind of at a loss right now.  I’m enjoying The Reality Dysfunction: Emergence a whole lot more and if I wasn’t reading the Wolfe over my lunch break at work I probably wouldn’t have a chance to finish it by the time I have to return this interlibrary loan. 

 

And I’m still having some formatting issues with the posts through e-mail.  We’ll see how this one turns out. 

God Bless Orson Scott Card

On Orson Scott Card's official website he writes a column where "Uncle Orson Reviews Everything". If he reads it or watches it and uses it or sees something, he writes about it, once or twice a week. Or so. This entry, was mainly about the Oscars. As always, I don’t agree with everything he says or sometimes even much of what he says, but he has a section later on where he talks about the collective pick of his friends and himself at his Oscar party.

But we were not content with the Oscar nominees this year. Admittedly, it wasn't the best year in film, but there were some wonderful movies that were completely ignored by the Academy, primarily because they weren't "brave" or "edgy" or extravagantly arty; it's the kiss of death these days for a movie to affirm old-fashioned values like a marriage that triumphs over adversity (Cinderella Man) or simply to be entertaining -- heroic or romantic or funny.

So at our Oscar party, we passed out not only our usual ballot, where we predict the outcomes (our winners this year tied with ten right guesses each), but also a ballot containing a list of the top 200-grossing films of 2005 (courtesy of the Box Office Mojo website, which had the most usable listing).

People could bestow one, two, or three points on any film, leaving blank the ones they didn't see or didn't like.

Of course, nobody saw everything (though some people saw an astonishing percentage of the year's films!); but when we see promos and hype on the upcoming movies and make a decision about whether to attend, that's a kind of vote. If a film doesn't look interesting enough to you to be worth the time and money to see it in the theater -- or even to see it later on DVD -- then chances are pretty good that you wouldn't like it if you did see it.

Still, it biases our selection heavily toward box office hits. Most of the people in our group had seen at least seven of the top ten box office hits, and since these tended to be entertaining, they were likely to end up on the final ballot.

After all, these films were the box office leaders for a reason -- they pleased a lot of people. And our voters consisted entirely of people, so it was a good fit.


He then writes about some of the other categories, but the reason I'm posting about this at all is the Best Picture winner from these ballots.

In the Best Picture category, we couldn't stop with only five nominees -- there was a tie in fifth place. And the next two films were only one point behind, followed by a wide gap. So we ended up with eight nominated films:

Batman Begins
The Chronicles of Narnia: the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
King Kong
March of the Penguins
Pride and Prejudice
Serenity
Walk the Line

Frankly, I think our anti-Oscar nominee list includes films that are more likely to last -- more likely to still be finding viewers ten years from now -- than any on the actual Oscar list.

From the nominations, I expected Narnia to win in a landslide -- it got more votes than anything else on the list. But, as with the Animated Film category, it's one thing to say what you liked and quite another thing to say what was best.
Thus Narnia and King Kong ended up tying -- for second place.

And the winner of the Anti-Oscar for Best Picture of 2005 was: Serenity.

That's right. The 99th highest grossing film of 2005, with box office of only $25.5 million, got slightly more votes than the third and fifth highest-grossing films of the year, which tied for second in our voting.

But keep in mind that when you have five or more nominees, the likelihood of the winner being the choice of a majority is quite slight. And there were enough of us in the room who loved Serenity with a passion that it skewed the results.
Except ... wait a minute. Isn't it about voting for films you love?

No apologies then. At my house, Serenity won as Best Picture of 2005, with Narnia and King Kong right behind.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

100 in 2006

Wednesday, March 15, 2006 1

I've set a goal on 43 Things to read 100 books in 2006.  It's something that I've done a few times before (read a hundred books in a year), but I'm keeping track of things differently and also I have a little bit less time to read these days, so I want to see if I'll still hit a hundred books. 

 

And that's where the goal comes in.  I realized I might as well post each book and number them like "Book 20: The Nomad of Time" or something like that. 

 

But, since I've already gone through the first 20 books, here's what I've done so far this year:

 

1. His Family - Ernest Poole

2. Tributes II - Dave Meltzer

3. Stone of Farewell - Tad Williams

4. The Best American Short Stories 2005

5. Shadow of the Torturer - Gene Wolfe

6. The Complete Peanuts 1957-1958 - Charles M Schulz

7. The Three Incestuous Sisters - Audrey Niffenegger

8. I, Jedi - Michael Stackpole

9. The Astonishing X-Men: Gifted - Joss Whedon

10. Mad Ship - Robin Hobb

11. Kafka Americana - Jonathan Lethem

12. The Best American Sports Writing 2005

13. Starfighters of Adumar - Aaron Allston

14. A Feast for Crows - George R. R. Martin

15. Flight of the Nighthawks - Raymond E Feist

16. The Astonishing X-Men: Dangerous - Joss Whedon

17. Wicked - Gregory Maguire

18. Children of the Jedi - Barbara Hambly

19. The Kitchen Boy - Robert Alexander

20. The Nomad of Time - Michael Moorcock

Dr. Who?

I’ve known about this for a little while now, but the Sci-Fi Channel is starting up a Dr. Who series on Friday nights.  I think it is on Fridays.  Doesn’t matter.  They have done very well with Battlestar Galactica (and have I mentioned how much I like that show?), but am I interested enough that I care what happens?

 

I’m not sure I am.  I don’t know squat about Dr. Who, but I didn’t know anything about Galactica.  Something about time travel and saving the world.  Yadda yadda yadda. 

 

If the show turns out to be something special I would hate to have missed it, but, ugh, it’s another time investment.  And my library is just kicking out the entire first season (plus mini) of Galactica to me this week. 

 

Dr. Who is probably a skip, but if anyone sees it and thinks Dr. Who is the jelly missing from my peanut butter, let me know.  I could always use some more jelly. 

playing the stock market

Just on a whim I checked my Hollywood Stock Exchange account.  It’s been quite a while since I was able to log in because it was filtered at work as “Gambling”.  Trust me, it isn’t gambling.  This website treats films and actors as stock and bonds and funds and you can “invest” in an actor or a movie or a fund made up of multiple films.  You sign up for free and you are given two million dollars to invest.  There are people on there who have been playing for years and have a billion dollar portfolio.

 

Me?  13 million.  I think I was between 4 and 6 million when I last played.  I had invested in a few funds before I was cut off and they must have closed at full price and earned me some $$.  On the other hand I didn’t get squat out of Jodie Foster.  The thing about playin an actor is that you need to estimate what the earnings of the last 5 movies are, what the current value is, and what the expected earnings will be when you drop the oldest movie and add in the newest.  It makes sense, but it takes some work.  And you have to move before the entire community does and there is no longer profit to be made...and then you need to sell before the entire community does and there is no longer profit to be made. 

 

So I invested in some more funds at a low cost, and then invested in some random movies at very low cost.  Hopefully they get made, released, and make a whole bunch of money.  I think that’s the way to get your portfolio to shoot up.  Invest in a movie bond at .50 a share, buy the max 50,000 shares, and then wait.  It’s a slow process in many cases, but the long term is that there is a good deal of money to be made.  Imagine if a film I invested 50k shares in at $1 a share actually became a huge blockbuster and closed at the maximum $250k a share?  That’s more than $12 million in profit on the one transaction.  How do folks get to a billion?  They make really good decisions and spend a lot of time on it.  I’m just going to make my investments and check back in a month or two and see how I’m doing and if I think I should sell.  Maybe invest in some more funds.

 

Now, there is a way to join groups of friends and compete against each other.  So, I’d be more than happy to join a group and have a friendly little non-competitive contest going. 

220 pages of reality

Had a good reading night last night with some Reality Dysfunction.  I was able to knock off another hundred pages or so and some things are becoming to crystallize.  That and I read the back cover of the book.  There is this young man who has been scavenging the thousands year old wreckage of a destroyed civilization.  He has been quite successful and has now found enough to earn him the five million dollars he needed to rebuild his father’s ship.  One of the artifacts he found is something with a lot of data, perhaps the largest information haul in history for the Laymil. 

 

This young man, and I already can’t remember his name, meets a young woman who is the hereditary ruler of Tranquility (I’d need several paragraphs to explain this one) and she and her company/nation/planet is the organization which purchased the artifact for scientific research.  She feels this is the most important thing that she can do and it furthers the vision of a grandfather who founded/created Tranquility.  It is her opinion that the Laymil were either destroyed or committed suicide as a race and that the reason for this has to be some external threat.  As the Laymil are not native to the region, Ione reasons that this great threat came from somewhere else in the universe and that it must still be out there.  And if it is still out there and that humanity is nearly as technologically advanced as the Laymil were, this threat may well be a treat to humanity. 

 

And that is what I think is really going on with this novel/trilogy. But I don’t know how anything connects or how that threat will be physically introduced or if I’m correct. 

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

new clancy novel

Tuesday, March 14, 2006 0
Tom Clancy has a new novel coming out this year.  That's all I know.  With any luck it'll be set in the Ryanverse and he'll be continuing the story.  Then again, he wrote Red Storm Rising as having nothing to do with the Ryanverse and it is probably one of his more gripping novels. 

Half of me hopes that it'll be an all new story and half of me hopes that it'll be Ryanverse.  Half of the half (so a quarter) that's going with the Ryanverse wants to see where he goes with Jack Ryan, Jr.  The last quarter wants Jack Ryan himself, the former president, to take action.  And somewhere in all of that I want more John Clark/Ding Chavez/Rainbow. 

105 Pages of Reality

What in the world is The Reality Dysfunction actually about?  Last night I finished chapter five or six and ended up somewhere around page 105.  I think I started the next chapter before going to sleep.  Now Peter Hamilton has introduced a chapter regarding the colonization of this new planet and has only just starting writing about the voidhawks again.  Somewhere in that first hundred pages Hamilton decided to advance the chronology a good 20-25 years.  Even that has some conflicting information, though.  Syrinx, the pilot of a voidhawk mentions something about “teenaged”, but she also mentions that the Edenist man she is with is 125 years old, a hundred years older than she is, so I’m a little fuzzy on the timeline.  But to confuse things even more just two chapters previous we saw the birth of the voidhawk and pilot. 

 

Do I like the book so far?  Yeah.  The Reality Dysfunction: Emergence is interesting.  I don’t quite know what’s going on, but it’s interesting. 

Monday, March 13, 2006

Serenity

Monday, March 13, 2006 3
Take my love, take my land
Take me where I cannot stand
I don't care, I'm still free
You can't take the sky from me
Take me out to the black
Tell them I ain't comin' back
Burn the land and boil the sea
You can't take the sky from me
There's no place I can be
Since I found Serenity
But you can't take the sky from me...


I was listening for the theme all through Serenity. I really love that theme song from Firefly. It actually makes me sad now that I've finished the movie. The Firefly Universe is done, there's nothing more. But you can't take the sky from me.

There is no way for me to give an honest unbiased appraisal of Serenity. I love the show too much and I can't separate the show from the movie. That's why, I think, that Serenity is one of the top three 2005 films I've seen so far and will likely make my Top 10 list for the year...at least when I can make the list up in a couple years.

The timeline is sometime after Firefly ended. I thought it was two years, but then in film I hear that River and Simon have been on the ship for 8 months...so is this 8 months after River is rescued? I imagine so. That's my guess. Somewhere, somehow River is captured by the Alliance, tested on, and Simon rescues her. That's my call right now. Maybe this is all stuff that happened before the television show, but I'm going with not.

So the Alliance is seriously after River (Summer Glau). No surprise. They send The Operative (Chiwetel Ejiofor in a fantastic performance) to reclaim her. He is deadly. He is without passion. He is good at what he does. Mal Reynolds (Nathan Fillion) and creware just trying to do their jobs, stay alive, and figure out what to do with River. But there is more to River than it seems because when she snaps in a bar it seems she isn't just the damaged girl, but also a Weapon.

So that promo poster with River in a fighting stance was accurate. It didn't fit what we knew but it is accurate.

*Sigh* Cracking wise and with a space western, Joss Whedon has created one hell of a science fiction movie...one which questions the nature of Empire, the consequences of forcing peace on others, and why the outcasts are perhaps not the bad guys even when they don't fit into society. But even the Alliance itself isn't such the Evil Empire, though it is, because the Alliance is made up of people who are trying to do right but got it so very wrong.

And so on and so forth.

Here's what I know and can express in words that don't confuse me. I loved Serenity. I do not think I can fairly evaluate the movie, but I can say that I would rather watch two hours of Serenity than perhaps any other movie released this past year and the two hours of Serenity brought me more pleasure than most other movies.

And that, ladies and gentleman, is why I go to the movies.

Or watch them at home.



By the way Nathan Fillion was in Saving Private Ryan. He's the Ryan from Minnesota. Just some random trivia.

And now, onto reading Finding Serenity and getting to the essay by Jewel Staite (Kaylee) and her thoughts on the episodes.

the second half of season two

Wow. I finished off the second half of Battlestar Galactica: Season 2. It was clear that once they went in the direction of the election that Baltar had to win. It wouldn't make sense and the show was stagnate if President Roslin won. And that meant that Baltar would make a huge mistake in colonizing New Caprica. And I knew that meant the Cylons would find the fleet...

But I didn't expect Galactica and Pegasus to jump. They had to, it makes sense, but wow. Roslin, Starbuck, the lead mechanic, the baby, Tigh, are all planetside when the Cylons landed and Baltar surrended. It may have been the only decision he could make, though the whole thing was his fault...but he's a pretty miserable excuse for a human.

I like what Starbuck said at the end "We do what we always do. Fight until we can't." Damn right.

I am already looking forward to Season Three. I just have to wait until October. *sigh* Too long.

Hopefully the library will send me Season 1 (including the mini) and Season 2.0 so I can catch up with my new favorite series.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

April 18?

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What? I have to wait until April 18 to get a new episode of Commander in Chief? Are you kidding me? This is a show that was doing quite well in its debut season and now we have a months long break midseason? What is this? Fox?

Chicken Little

Chicken Little is a cute movie for the little kids. We know the back story. Chicken Little cries that the sky is falling, the sky is falling and it turns out that the sky wasn't actually falling. So what happened after the story ended? Well, what if I told you that the sky really was falling? Chicken Little was just not able to prove to the town that the sky did fall, they all thought it was an acorn that fell onto his head. The movie is about everything that comes after, with a baseball game, silly friends, a falling sky, aliens, and redemption, of course.

Like I said, this is a cute movie for the little kids. The target audience will love this. The animation is cute and quite pretty, and there is plenty of silly fun. My wife called me midway through the movie and asked what I thought. My response was that it was "cute, but I really don't care at all." There isn't much of a storyline to speak of and that won't matter to the little ones. Unfortunately this isn't a movie that will appeal to all ages, but it is perfectly safe for the kids. As the kids are the target audience, it was a well done job by Disney. It wasn't a good enough job to rank with the classic Disney films, but it is also far better than something like Kronk's New Groove.


God...I feel bored just writing this. If I didn't owe Buena Vista Home Entertainment an Amazon.com review in exchange for accepting the DVD I would have quit after 35 minutes...tops. Let your little sister watch the movie, but read a book instead.

Natalie Portman's Gangsta Rap

What you want Natalie?
To drink and fight!

Thanks to the good folks at Gone Elsewhere for linking this SNL short. I must have turned off SNL before this aired originally last week. In the short Natalie is being interviewed by Chris Parnell and when he asks what a day in the life of Natalie Portman is like we get a video clip of Natalie rapping about her life.

This is up there with that Narnia rap for being brilliant SNL. Some of the best stuff in years.

Here it is.

Are we to believe that you condone driving while intoxicated?
I never said I was a role model.

Friday, March 10, 2006

too...much...detail...

Friday, March 10, 2006 0

Now that is some heavy science fiction!  I started reading Peter F. Hamilton's The Reality Dysfunction: Emergence last night.  I was able to knock through 40 pages, so that's a decent accomplishment.  I don't read much science fiction but I have heard that this is a masterwork trilogy (or six books since each book has also been split depending on the edition).  I don't know that this is heavier than usual sci-fi, but it's pretty thick.  I only understood about 60% of what Hamilton was laying down, but I understood the plotting.  So that's good.  I understand the characters and the story, but if I focused on the science details too much my head would likely collapse in on itself before exploding outwards. 

 

What I’ve gleaned so far is that there was this...pirate or rebel ship transporting some sort of anti-matter weapon on a mission to destroy the sun of some other group’s home world, but they were attacked by voidhawk ships and blackhawks.  Changing gravity fields is a very bad thing.  And this other group, after leaving the transport ship 7 light years from any other colonized planet and with no hyperdrive (or whatever Hamilton is calling it), they are essentially stranded.  Meanwhile this other group has destroyed and sterilized the homeworld of the transport ship.  Then we find out that these voidhawk ships are actually sentient in a strange sort of way and that their pilots are born inside the ship to provide the link between pilot and ship.  There might have been one more thing, but that pretty well covers the first forty pages. 

 

In other news I think I figured out the font issue I had going on in my last two posts.  Since I have lost the ability to actually post at work I set up Blogger to post via e-mail.  But apparently Blogger will post in whatever font I write the e-mail in, so I had to find out what font Blogger posts normally in, and change the e-mail font.  So, my blog is Verdana 9.5 sized font.  This e-mail is in 10pt, so we’ll see if there is a significant difference. 

Thursday, March 09, 2006

title changes

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It appears as if the title of the new Terry Brooks novel has changed again.  It started out as Gypsy Morph and changed to the rather wretched title Born of Wild Magic.  Apparently it is now Armageddon’s Children.  That’s a much better title. 

 

This is the Pre-Shannara novel that Brooks has been planning for a while and it ties the Word and the Void trilogy to Shannara.  I’m quite interested in this one.  I have read the first Word/Void novel and thought it was one of the best novels Brooks has written, I have the second W/V novel at home from the library (as part of my library overload) and will read the third after.  I’ve been a long time fan of his Shannara series.  So, this is good. 

 

The title sounds more like a W/V novel than Shannara, and that’s a good thing.  Based on Terry’s publishing schedule, we should expect to see it around September. 

Holy Blood, Holy Grail VS The Da Vinci Code

It occurred to me this morning just how stupid that lawsuit against Dan Brown really is.  There is an article on CNN.com (which I didn't bother to link) about an aspect of the case and now I have an inkling what this is really about.  Two of the three authors of Holy Blood, Holy Grail are pressing suit against Dan Brown for plagiarism or copyright infringement.  Or just for flat out ripping them off.  That's a big no no.  I get that.  I have a degree in English and a minor in History so I know all about giving credit for your sources and not to pass off someone else's ideas as your own.  I know all about that. 

 

But what gets me about this whole lawsuit and the rips on Dan Brown is that the source material that he is being accused of ripping off is non-fiction.  Dan Brown writes fiction.  If suddenly an author can't take some idea that he read about or heard about or discovered in research as something he wants to make a major framing device for a novel...fiction would dry up.  It's not ripping off a non-fiction book if you take ideas from it, even major themes or ideas and turning it into fiction. 

 

At least...I don't think it is.  Perhaps I am wrong about that. 

 

The article on CNN.com has a portion of the trial with the authors who brought suit (this is all in England) admitting that there are major details that Brown uses that contradict what is in their book. 

 

I would say that I’m going to keep an eye on this, but I really don’t care that much.  I just found it fairly interesting upon reading that article. 

 

Please proceed with your regularly scheduled day. 

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

liking that Michael Moorcock

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So I'm working my way through Michael Moorcock's The Nomad of Time. I know, on the right it says A Nomad of the Time Streams, but this is the earlier omnibus edition from the mid 80's. Time Streams contains the same novels, just collected later by White Wolf Press. Suppodedly there are some minor edits.

Anyway, we have another Eternal Champion collection, this one taking a Oswald Bastable from our 1902 and ending up with some time travel and alternate Earths where certain changes change everything about the future history...except that in some cases the same scientific discoveries occur. I'm midway through the second volume and this may be my favorite of the first four omnibuses (a John Dakar, Von Bek, and Hawkmoon were the other three).

Good stuff, that Moorcock.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Library Overload

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Dare I say that I actually have library overload right now? I put
several books on reserve via interlibrary loan. Normally this means
that there may be a delay of a couple of months before they arrive and
there will be time between each book. No problem. So, I had a few
books out from the library (Hyperion among them). Then, a book that I
had on reserve came in (Viriconium). The library just purchased the
book and there is no telling when the new books will be available. Then
one interlibrary loan came in (The Nomad of Time, by Michael Moorcock).
Okay. That's no problem. Then the other two came in (The Reality
Dysfunction: Emergence and Claw of the Concilator). Now I was given a
fairly generous due date for the Moorcock book. The Dan Simmons and M.
John Harrison are able to be renewed. I'll be picking up the Peter
Hamilton and the Gene Wolfe this afternoon. The Moorcock reads easily,
I'm a good third of the way through that. The first book in Gene
Wolfe's New Sun series was a moderately quick read, but I think The
Reality Dysfunction will be much slower. Hopefully I'll have a good due
date for that one as well.

Oh! And I checked my account online this morning and along with a DVD
of Serenity, also comes the book of essays about Joss Whedon's Firefly
series called Finding Serenity. And this one has just enough people
reserving it that I won't be able to renew it and will need to read it
before the due date.

It's not a bad problem, but it's just a lot all at once. This explains
why I have "suspended" a couple of holds I have: namely Memories of Ice,
1776, and the Best American Nonrequired Reading 2005. A suspended hold
is like putting a hold on the hold. I'll still move up the hold queue,
but I won't have the book shipped to my library until I remove the
suspension.

And I see that Junebug is in transit as another DVD.

24: S2

Attention: Spoilers for a major event in Season 2 of 24. You have been
warned.

I know this is years after 24 was actually airing season 2 in first run
episodes, but I'm only just now catching up. But am I the only one who
hoped that the nuclear bomb actually went off in Los Angeles rather than
in the desert? I'm sick. I understand. But exploding the nuke in a
major population center would have been a fascinating story point.
Maybe it's one better suited for a novel or a feature length movie (one
thing that Tom Clancy did very well in The Sum of All Fears was having
the bomb go off in Denver. Oof!). As it stands with a small handful of
episodes left for me to watch in the season, the new crisis is to avert
a war that may be caused by the bomb going off on American soil. Very
good show, nice twists (bombing of CTU? Inspired), but freak that I
am...I kind of wanted some wanton destruction. Maybe that's why I like
to watch really bad disaster movies. Wanton destruction.

Speaking of Tom Clancy, anyone know when he's going to write the next
Jack Ryan novel? I know, before Red Rabbit he said there were two more
Ryanverse novels: Red Rabbit, and The Teeth of the Tiger. So, he's
done. Right? I don't know. The Teeth of the Tiger seemed to pretty
well set up Clancy taking the series in a new direction with Jack Ryan,
Jr as the major player. It could end up regurgitating the early Ryan
novels, but when Clancy was on...he was writing some interesting novels.
When he wasn't...bad stuff. At the very least the man should have
another Rainbow novel left in him. If Clancy doesn't draw out the
political background stuff (like what was up with that Mountain Men
scenario in Executive Orders...or was it The Bear and the Dragon? That
was a waste of 200 pages), he is certainly able to write a fast paced
Rainbow novel.

Monday, March 06, 2006

The Wicked Exorcism of Bad Kitchen Boys

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Sometimes I think I should really try to keep stuff up to date so I don’t feel the need to do catch up posts (or a three a day like today). In no particular order:

Wicked: This novel is Gregory Maguire’s telling of the Wizard of Oz story from the perspective of the Wicked Witch of the West. The difference is that we see Elphaba (that’s her name) from birth through death. There is an opening prologue where Elphaba overhears Dorothy, Tin Man, Lion, and Scarecrow having a discussion where they wonder about what exactly the Witch is and why her skin is green. To put it simply: This scene never, ever made it into the movie as there are questions about whether the Witch is really a man or has male anatomy. But then we follow Elphaba as a child and into her schooling days where she meets Glinda (the good witch) and we learn more about the Wicked Witch of the East, Elphaba’s sister. The reader will gain much sympathy for Elphaba as she isn’t a clear villain anymore. I was impressed. The book isn’t going to make my “Best Reads” list, but I’m glad I read it.

The Kitchen Boy: A novel by Robert Alexander dealing with the last days of the Russian Tsar before the Russian Revolution where the Communists took over. The first 2/3 of the novel bored me. I think I was just waiting for death and mayhem. Not really fair, but there it is. I enjoyed the ending, and the twist at the end. Worth Consuming? Nah.

The Bad News Bears: I finally watched the original all the way through. Very good movie. Lots of stuff would never have made the remake with Billy Bob. Can you believe one of the kids described the team as being full of “Jews, spics, wops, and a nigger”? And this was rated PG?!?! I know PG-13 wasn’t around until the mid 80’s and this was made in 1976, but no way this film gets PG. Probably not PG-13 (Matthau gives the kids Beer at the end!). Good stuff. Almost makes me want to go watch the sequels. Tatum O’Neal did good work here.

The Exorcism of Emily Rose: Along with Serenity, this was one of my most anticipated movies of last year. Creepy spiritual stuff and for a change the skeptics come off well. We know what happens to Emily because the film opens with her already dead, so anything about her is all flashback. It’s as much the trial of Father Moore as it is the Exorcism of Emily Rose. And that’s okay. Well done all around, and I was watching this on a rainy afternoon with my dog walking into the room with a squeak toy. I still was creeped. I’m glad that the movie didn’t veer into Exorcist territory ( you know which crucifix scene I’m talking about!). Still not top tier for 2005, though. Close, but not there yet.

Gone Elsewhere

Now this is interesting. Several forum members from the Hollywood Elsewhere message board have split off from the website and formed their own shared blog to post about movie related stuff and whatever else comes across the collective Overmind. Why is this interesting? Well, these individuals are pretty much the entire forum content. I posted some early on but kind of died off (mostly) as my workload increased and my employers strengthened their IT policy. Shoot, my posting at RF declined quite a bit.

And this new blog seems to be giving a wider viewpoint than Jeff Wells ever did (and while I've been reading Wells for 7 years or so now, his Red State vs Blue State rants are tiresome).

As much as one gets excited for a blog, I'm excited for this one. Should be interesting.

What is it called? Gone Elsewhere. Note the play on the H.E. title (or should that have gone without saying?)

The only question is: Should I ask if I might be allowed to come in and play in their sandbox? I don't always keep this one up as much as I perhaps would like to, and to really contribute to Gone Elsewhere I would either have to figure out how to post via e-mail or write up the blog posts at work and e-mail them here where I can take a momemt to post in the evening. That's really what I need to figure out: can I give the blog as much time and content as it deserves.

Post Oscars 2005 Edition

Oh, I am so glad that "Crash" won Best Picture last night. "Brokeback Mountain" was so very overrated and I'm not convinced it should even have been nominated for the award, let alone a serious contender. But that's okay. A superior picture won. Is "Crash" as good as "Capote", "Munich", or "Good Night, and Good Luck"? I have no idea. I haven't seen those three movies, so maybe in a few months I'll come back to Oscar talk here screaming that "Capote" was robbed...though I doubt it. The only one of the three that I think has the chance to really move me is George Clooney's "Good Night, and Good Luck".

The only other major award surprise was Rachel Weisz winning Best Supporting Actress for her work in "The Constant Gardener". Even that wasn't terribly surprising but from everything that I have heard this was the one category that was truly wide open. Michelle Williams was a strong nominee for "Brokeback Mountain" and the strong dark horse with a real chance was Amy Adams for "Junebug". Even without seeing the movie I wanted Adams to win. It's that whole Chanhassen thing.

Director: Ang Lee. Best Actor: Philip Seymour Hoffman (yay!). Best Actress: Reese Witherspoon. Best Supporting Actor: George Clooney. Nothing really shocking here. It's all been predicted for months by critics and even when discussion began about "Crash" possibly winning Best Picture there was nothing about Ang Lee not winning.
 
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