Monday, December 31, 2007

Actor's Master Class: How to steal a scene, by James Whitmore

I've completed my final video for a while (it's time consuming!), a video article for The Thunder Child called How to Steal a Scene, featuring clips of James Whitmore from the movie, Them!

Whitmore steals scenes from practically everyone in the film, from James Arness to Joan Weldon to Edmund Gwenn.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Science Fiction in The Avengers video article



Well, after a week of work with my movie making software, I'm now an old pro. I've done three videos, of which the latest is above, and I've gotten all the skills I need - movie making wise. (Unfortunately I have no original art or music making talent, all I can do is compile the work of others... but oh well.)

So please take a look at my Science Fiction in Avengers video. The beginning is a bit awkward, but there's a reason for that. There are so many photos strung together that it takes forever to "compile" it all, so I'm not going into fix that beginning (there really should be a change of title card at the gunshot in the opening music), because I don't have the time it would take to do it all!

I figured out how to use the story board and timeline features, which would enable me to go in to the Peter Wyngarde video, and fix that so the music better matches the action on screen...but there again, I got rid of those photos once I'd finished the video so it would be too much of a pain to reload them to do the fixing...

Ditto my Let Joy and Innocent Prevail video.

There's a lesson in that, of course. If I'd explored all the features when I'd first started, instead of exploring just a little bit during the making of each video, I'd be a happier camper today. And indeed, I lost a whole day on my Avengers video because I somehow saved a blank movie over three days worth of movie work for it. Still dont know how that happened...

My problem is I can't just do a little bit at a time. I'd intended to do the Avengers video over a couple of weeks...but I started getting more and more into it such that I spent the entire day on it, day after day...not accomplishing anything else in the meantime, which isn't good.

So I can't putz around with more videos, because...I can't putz. If I start a project it will overtake me all day long again, and that's time I can't afford to waste right now.

Perhaps when the New Year starts and I'm caught up with all the reviews I have to do...

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Golden Compass

I haven't seen this yet, but will probably go within the next week.

I'm sorry to see it isn't doing well. (Oh, people are going to see it...but it cost sooooooooo much to make that if it isn't a smash hit, it will lose tons of money)

Whether people are staying away because the heroine is a young girl (and guys of any age don't go to see adventure stories starring young girls), or because the Catholic Church has condemned it as being anti-religious, we'll probably never know. Perhaps a bit of both?

If it's the case that the young male demographic isn't going because they're not interested in female heroines, I'm sorry to hear that. (Equally, that apparently the young female demographic isn't interested either!) It's just like that old truism... girls will read books intended for boys (adventure books, naturally), but boys will not read books intended for girls (even adventure books, presumably.) And I must say that a lot of books for girls are, in my opinion, crap - romance and how to get a boyfriend and what to do if your boyfriend dumps you ya da ya da ya da!!!

But when an adventure film with a strong female lead comes along...it should show young girls that there's so much more in the world, and in themselves...than wondering whether or not some cute boy will ever call them for a date...

On a side note, Benazir Bhutto has been murdered in Pakistan. I was shocked to read that this morning. Of course, a suicide bomber on a motorcycle blew himself, and 25 other people, up, nearby, but apparently Bhutto was shot by an assassin from a nearby building. This is just madness. No one is safe. As the old saying goes: Anybody's safety is dependent uppon the fact that no one wants to kill them.

But when these loons get their people into power, the other side will just start killing them off....

Frightening world. No solution in sight.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Peter Wyngarde duels Roger Moore

Well, I think I'm finally Peter-ed out.

Yesterday I decided to try to learn how to use the movie making software that came with my computer that I got a few years ago, and discovered it's pretty easy.

Pretty easy to do a movie - not so easy to make it look good, I hasten to add.

I uploaded Let Joy and Innocence Prevail, today I did Peter Wyngarde vs Roger Moore in an excellent sword fighting duel from The Saint, and set it to the music O Fortuna.

Unfortanately, the only way to control how long a photo stays before moving to another photo, is via a slide control. Worse than that, although you're supposed to be able to work in second increments, my last 30 or so photos are all stuck at 2 seconds. I can't get them to go shorter.

This is annoying because it's hard to time it to the music properly...

Nevertheless, for a second effort it's not too bad.

However, this will be my last effort for a while, as I've spent 7 hours on this! And I've got so many more important and urgent things to be doing...

So:

Monday, December 24, 2007

Blake's Seven at BBC 7

Blake's 7 has a new production on British radio, and you can hear a 3-part version of the introduction of Roj Blake and his crew right now on BBC 7, every Saturday.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbc7/listenagain/saturday/

Blake's 7
Rebel: Exiled to the notorious prison planet of Cygnus Alpha, the Federation thinks it has seen the last of Roj Blake. Episode 1 of 3.


Here's a video of Grace Jones singing Let Joy and Innocence Prevail, from the Toys soundtrack. I love this song. Very powerful.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

New Website: Guide to You Tube Videos

About a month ago I posted a You Tube video about how to destroy an evil baby clone, and since that time that particular entry has gotten more looks than any other entry I've ever posted here. (Actually, that's kind of depressing. ; ) )

However, it gave me the idea to start a website called Caroline Miniscule's Guide to Her Favorite You Tube videos, where I share what I've found in my many searches there - great music, animal, kid, political commentary, sports and other videos.

The You Tube Guide - I search You Tube, so you won't have to...

http://thethunderchild.com/YouTubeGuide/

is the URL.

IT's got everything from Rush Limbaugh to Trans-berian Orchestra to Vincent Price.

(Please note that You Tube provides the code for embedding these videos, and since the lawsuit of last year everything on You Tube has to be copyright free or put there with the permission of the copyright owners, who grant this additional use. (If they don't, "embedding" is disabled, but I still provide links to the YouTube page that has the video. If you're looking to hear the Big Pig/Sherine Abetrayne video Breakaway, for example, it's back at You Tube and you can listen to it by following the link on my site.)

The Lucy Show

Pursuing my quest for the work of Peter Wyngarde, I had ordered a DVD of The Lucy Show: Lucy Goes to London. Fortunately it only cost $6.00 (I bought it used) because it is a piece of garbage.

It's a 20 minute episode and after the first half of it, Lucy is still on a plane...to New York. Peter Wyngarde is supposed to be in this, Wilfred Hyde White, James Robertson Justice. If they are in it, they've got about 30 seconds of screen time each.

I can remember watching the Lucy Show when I was a kid - both the one in B&W where she startred with Desi, and then the one in color where instead of a housewife she works in a bank, despite the fact that she's petty incompetent.

And I'm watching it now for the first time and I'm just cringing.

Did I actually like this stuff when I was a kid? I know slapstick is supposed to be her schtick, and it's supposed to be funny...but she's just so incompetent.

On the other hand, I think to myself...I saw this crap as a kid, I must have liked this crap as a kid...but it didn't change my opinion of myself as a woman who wanted to get out and do things. So while Lucy would have been a lousy role model, perhaps she didn't "hold girls down," as I would have thought.

And on a side note...the episode has just ended and Lucy never made it to London. No Peter Wyngarde, no Wilfred Hyde White, no James Robertson Justice. Maybe it was a 2 parter and they didnt' bother to include the second part in this Goodtimes DVD. So I sat through it for nothing.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

My Christmas favorites from Charlie Brown

From She's a Good Skate, Charlie Brown - my favorite scene in the entire Brown ouvre:

Double click arrow twice to view:



And this great Christmas song: Snoopy Vs the Red Baron

Oh Fortuna

My goodness Youtube is wonderful.

If you've ever wondered what the words are in Oh, Fortuna from Carmina Burana (most famous from the movie Excalibur) (a great piece of music, but I've never been able to distinguish the words...)

Double click arrow twice to view:



And then there's this version...showing the seductive power of violence...



Trans-Siberian Orchestra Plays Christmas Canon

Last few times I've watched Monday Night Football, they played some cool music from Trans-Siberian Orchestra. So I checked YouTube to see if they had videos, and there are several.

Double click arrow twice to view:



They have several CDs out:


Wizards of Winter - someone timed their outdoor Christmas lights to this - it's very cool!




This one is pretty cool as well, although it takes a while for the music to get started. (Song put to an anime shot). A music video tribute to Haku from NARUTO, song by Trans Siberian Orchestra, "Carol of the Bells"


Thursday, December 13, 2007

Jim Dale Reads The Deathly Hallows

When Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows came out in July, there were parties at bookstores all over America, lasting until midnight when the books were available for purchase.

In New York, Jim Dale, who has read all of the American Potter books on tape, was at a gigantic Barnes and Noble party, and read excerpts.

Here is part 1 of 5 parts of his readings.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The health of Terry Pratchett

I was shocked today to read that Terry Pratchett, only 60 years old, has been diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimers.

Here's the news from his website:
http://www.paulkidby.com/news/index.html
11th December 2007

AN EMBUGGERANCE

Folks,

I would have liked to keep this one quiet for a little while, but because of upcoming conventions and of course the need to keep my publishers informed, it seems to me unfair to withhold the news. I have been diagnosed with a very rare form of early onset Alzheimer's, which lay behind this year's phantom "stroke".

We are taking it fairly philosophically down here and possibly with a mild optimism. For now work is continuing on the completion of Nation and the basic notes are already being laid down for Unseen Academicals. All other things being equal, Iexpect to meet most current and, as far as possible, future commitments but will discuss things with the various organisers. Frankly, I would prefer it if people kept things cheerful, because I think there's time for at least a few more books yet :o)

PS I would just like to draw attention to everyone reading the above that this should be interpreted as 'I am not dead'. I will, of course, be dead at some future point, as will everybody else. For me, this maybe further off than you think - it's too soon to tell. I know it's a very human thing to say "Is there anything I can do", but in this case Iwould only entertain offers from very high-end experts in brain chemistry.


If anyone's looking for any charitable giving to do this year, may I suggest donating to a reputable firm that is researching this horrible, horrible disease.

Terry Pratchett's work holds an important part in my life - for many reasons I won't go in to.

Let's all send positive vibes and good thoughts to him.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Peter Wyngarde photo pages


I've watched my favorite Peter Wyngarde episodes: The Man Who Liked Lions from The Saint, and Epic and A Touch of Brimstone from The Avengers, and put together some photo pages.

Hellfire Hall

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Time keeps on slipping into the future...


I am far behind on entries to all my blogs (Daily Space, Space and Marine Exploration, Dated Death Movies, Movie Education Undone, You Fly Girl), and even further behind on my websites, The Thunder Child, Ghost Guns Virginia, The Solitary Cyclist, and Winged Victory (aka You Fly, Girl).

So today, for the first time in a while, I am pleased to report new stuff at The Thunder Child.

http://thethunderchild.com

Michael Sinclair sent me a program book from the latest WorldCon, Nippon 2007. I've written up some coverage of it and it is now there, as is more of Michael's reminiscences about fandom during the 70s and 80s - "Say Da to Moscow" and "Hotel Horrors."

I've been watching a TV show called Jason King, from 1970-1972. Features an actor I like - Peter Wyngarde. The shows are ... bizarre...as is a CD I bought called "When Sex Rears Its Inquisitive Head" - also by Wyndgarde. There's a spoken "song" on there called "Rape" which is just the weirdest thing I've ever heard...Wyngade doing all sorts of accents as he talks about rape in poetry form...I just held my head in my hands and laughed in astonishment...but the rest of its interesting...bizarre.... kind of like those records by William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy...although I have to say I liked Nimoy's album and loved the Bilbo Baggins song!

Anyway...there's much of interest in the Peter Wyngarde saga...so much so that I think it'd be worthy of a book...except I dont' have the time or the contacts to write one. Simply put, he was a major star in England up until 1973, until he got caught in a public toilet with another guy. And this ended his career there and then. Oh, he'd show up intermittently as a guest star on a tv show once every 3 or 4 years...but that's it.

And I can't help but wonder why. I know the same thing happened to John Gielgud in the 1930s...but that was the 1930s...and his career had hardly a blip. Homosexuality was illegal in England until 1967 so why should Wyngarde, in 1973, have suffered more than Gielgud? Except that Wyngarde was regarded by much of the public as a straight sex symbol, and to discover that he was gay...

(Whereas, in private life, all the actors knew. Apparently he had a relationship with Alan Bates for quite some time...)

Why couldn't Wyngarde's career get back on track? Was he so disliked by all his acting peers that no one would help him? (The story about Bates and Wyngarde implied Wyngarde was very controlling and "bad" for Bates - but it doesn't go into details.)

Anyway, the series is interesting. Most of the episodes don't "work" - the endings are anticlimactic - but probably more "true to life" than other adventure shows - King often calls in the cops and it is they who simply arrest the crooks in the final scene, instead of having a knock-down, drag-out. And he is sooooo self-absorbed...

Ah, well, I've got to stop watching this show and start reading the stack of books I've got to review...

Friday, November 30, 2007

Kill Jason King!


I've been assembling a collection of my favorite TV shows from the 70s..now that they're gradually becoming available as used DVDs... (I'm too cheap to pay full price for them).

So today is Jason King day.

And I've go to say they're a bit of a disappointment. Mainly because I really can't stand "big hair" on a guy, let alone a Fu Manchu moustache, and that's what Peter Wyngarde has in this. In two Avengers episodes and a Saint, he was clean shaven and drop dead sexy, but in this...he just doesn't do it for me ... (Yes, he's gay, but a guy can still ooze sex appeal to a straight woman for all that.)

I don't think I ever saw Jason King, lo these many years ago... actually what I saw was a show called Department S, in which he's one of three secret agents. In Jason King, he's a writer, who keeps getting involved in international crimes and such, much like Roger Moore's Simon Templar.

But the scripts, the camera angles, I don't like them that much...

Some are amusing...but overall...



Peter Wyngarde in Two Gentleman of Verona - a two-tape abridged edition:


And for those of you who can play Non-USA-playable DVDs:

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Giant Claw (1957)

Jeff Morrow. Mara Corday.

You have to see it to believe it.

Friday, November 16, 2007

My headline rant of the month

Each time today that I've gone to Yahoo to check my mail, I keep seeing the following headline:

Arrest warrant tossed for Donda West surgeon


Now, Donda West is the mother of a rapper, named Kanye West. She recently died after complications from her plastic surgery, and she and her son have been much in the news as a result.

Just looking at that headline, doesn't it make you think that the arrest warrant is for Donda West's surgeon because of what happened to Donda West?

And doesn't the term "tossed" imply that the arrest warrant was proper, but legal finagling got it dismmissed? Much in the way that an earlier headline used the word "quashed" instead of "tossed," but which implies the same thing.

It is only if you actually read the article that you find out that the arrest warrant is for a civil case, completely unrelated to the Donda West death (such that if this guy hadn't had a high-profile patient die on him, this arrest warrant stuff wouldn't even be news).

In addition, the warrant was not "quashed" or "tossed." The guy missed the first court date, resulting in the warrant, but then he went to court and got the misunderstanding about his non-appearance sorted out, and so the warrant was simply "dropped" or rendered unnecessary.

I wonder, how many people now think that Donda West's surgeon (anyone even know his name?) is facing, or should face, criminal charges over Donda West's death?

I'm not saying that that won't come - I haven't kept track of any of the articles about this tragedy, frankly, and only read this one because I wanted to see if an arrest warrant was really "quashed" or "tossed" (you see, they know how to get people to read their articles...even when they're bogus), but it hasn't come yet and that headline is irresponsible.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

More money than sense....

I haven't been able to work on The Thunder Child for the last week or so, as my real world job got in the way...

I finished that yesterday and have been decompressing ever since. Also my new betta died last night, and I'm a bit depressed about that, and then there's all the stuff going on in the world today, and looking at the US politicians, and their records over the course of 200 years, not to mention the records of politicians around the world...I think the world is doomed...

Yes, I'm depressed.

Then, I read this article about a NYC eatery called Serendipity 3, closed down after it failed its second health inspection in a month:

People stand in line for hours outside the Manhattan restaurant, known for its extravagant and expensive desserts. Its $25,000 Frrrozen Haute Chocolate features top-grade cocoa, edible gold and shavings of a luxury truffle and was declared the most expensive dessert in the world by Guinness World Records. The eatery also offers a $1,000 sundae named Golden Opulence requiring 48-hour advance notice.


So loons pay $25,000 for a Frrozen Haute Chocolate, and $1,000 for a sundae named Golden Opulence...and the owners of this place can't keep out cockroaches and mice???? What is wrong with this picture????

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Manhunt 2/ Bee Movie

Manhunt 2 should have a Sick rating attached to it. Sick in the formerly accepted sense of that word:
There's a game out now called Manhunt 2, in which the character playing the game gets to torture other people. There was a big brouhaha over what rating it should get, Mature or X, and Mature won. Well, all I can say is the people who could even think of creating this game are sick, the people who want to play the game are sick, and it is to be hoped that parents will show some discipline and prevent their kids from playing the game...and if they do see someone playing the game, it would be best to make a note of that and not let them near any guns or sharp objects in real life.

Will it then be hypocritical of me to say that freedom of speech is being attacked again in the cause of author Anne Enright? [I don't think so. One is trying to prevent a psychotic game from being unleashed on the public, much like the n-word is trying to be prevented from being unleashed ever again, the other is a woman expressing her *dislike* of a couple of people!]

Anne Enright Dislikes the McCanns
Anne Enright received an award for one of her books, and is now threatened with losing her job because she dared to say in an essay that she disliked the McCanns (whose 3 year old daughter Madeleine has disappeared.)

The article's in the New York Times. The author of the piece said:
The essay was about Madeleine McCann, who was 3 years old when she disappeared this spring in Portugal. In the essay Ms. Enright tried to work through a cacophony of complicated emotions toward the girl’s parents, including reluctant voyeurism, distaste and pity. But newspapers here and in Britain picked out a sentence in which Ms. Enright said that she “disliked the McCanns earlier than most people” and ignored what she wrote afterward: that she was ashamed of the impulse and, in the end, rejected it.

The people calling for her head are saying: Her publishers should have put a large brown bag over her head immediately,” Janet Street-Porter wrote in The Independent on Sunday, in a typical comment. “I urge you not to buy Enright’s book until she apologizes for this slur.”


What "slur?" She dislikes the people, that's her opinion, she's entitled to it and to say it. It's not like she called them by the N-word, or the F-word, or the B-word. She simply said she disliked them. And it was an essay, not a factual report on the events, so there again, this is ridiculous.


Congratulations on the Book Award, and Welcome to the Scrutiny

And, of course, instead of standing up for herself, Enright is hurriedly apologizing that she didn't mean to hurt anyone's feelings, and she's sorry if she did so. I do so wish people who've done nothing wrong would stop letting themselves be put on the defensive like this, and stand up for themselves. But, of course, unlike game companies, she doesn't have millions of dollars to use in her defense should some judge allow the McCann's to sue her for defamation of character...despite the fact that, again, all she said was she didn't like them! Lots of people don't!




I went to see Bee Movie yesterday, starring Jerry Seinfeld. I don't mind admitting that the only things I knew about bees before yesterday were that there was a queen bee, they made honey, if they stung you they'd die, and that honey bees in the US are dying out for some reason - and if they do...life as we know it is over because they're the ones who pollinate the flowers and cause things to grow!

So, Bee Movie was okay...sort of a take off on frivolous law suits, kinda boring, with some funny jokes. When Barry the Bee was given his flight jacket at the end of the movie, I found myself hoping that they would market that jacket, as it looked really cool, all black and yellow...

But then I went home, spent five minutes with a children's book on bees, and discovered that Seinfeld and his other writers had missed the boat big time.

In the movie, the bee society is a male dominated one, and it runs perfectly. The only female bee we see who has a speaking role is Seinfeld's mother. Jerry's character Barry doesn't want to work for the rest of his life in one job, he wants to be a "pollen jock" - a bee that goes out into the big wide world and gets the pollen and nectar to bring back to the hive.

And these pollen jocks are real macho, male bees with the flying jackets, helmets and goggles of fighter pilots from WWII. Cool.

Except...

In reality, a beehive is ruled by one queen bee. There are thousands of worker bees, who are FEMALE. It is the female bees who are the pollen jockettes, flying out into the world. They're also the ones who stay at home and clean up the hive, feed the Queen, etc.

And what do the MALES do? (Of which there only hundreds, not thousands.) Nothing. Their job is to service the queen so she can lay eggs, nothing more. Otherwise they just hang around doing nothing.

Now, imagine what Seinfeld's movie should have been like, if he and his writers hadn't been concerned with presenting what they considered to be the perfect society - one run by men.

Barry graduates from bee school...but this time he has no exciting job waiting for him, because he's just a male. He gets to spend the rest of his life hoping the queen will pick him to do the um...you know. (I'm sure Seinfeld could have come up with a joke to make that clear to the adults without letting the young kids know exactly what's being talked about.)

So he's hanging around, stuck in the kitchen as it were, while all the females get to do the fun jobs - cleaning, making honey, going out of the hive to pollenate plants and bring back plants and nectar, and he envies them their freedom.

So one day he decides to go out with these pollen jockettes, who allow him to do so...

And the rest of the movie can go on from there with little changes, except of course a female actress would be the one voicing the pollen jockette's leader, and the three characters who sort of take Barry under their wing to start with are voiced by women instead of men...and at the very end when the pollen jockettes save the day by holding up the plane, it's the females who are doing it...

That's the way it should have been, if any slight attempt at accuracy was to have been made. But much like the male cows with udders in last year's ridiculous Barnyard, film creators see the world their way, the patriarchal way, and that's the way they're going to present it.

But I think my version would have been better...

Well, well, well, three rants in one post. Pretty good.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

US Judicial System Needs an Overhaul

Roy Pearson, the judge who aroused the ridicule of most of the nation for suing a drycleaning firm for $54 million because they'd ostensibly lost a $100 pair of pants (he only makes $100,000 a year, please remember) has lost his job, as reported in the Washington Post.

Post article

They give many reasons, and based on those reasons one wonders why he didn't lose his job a long time ago.

But, to go back to the crux of this entry, which is that Pearson's suit cost the dry-cleaners a heckuva lot of money, so much so that they had to close one store and needed donations to pay their legal bills.

And my question is.... why did the legal system allow this suit to begin with? A business loses a $100 pair of pants, they give you $100, and it's done. If they refuse to pay, you take them to small claims court. How did this suit go as long and far as it did, and cost as much money as it did - money given to lawyers who charge probably $300 an hour if not more, for a measly $100 pair of pants?

It's because the US judicial system allowed it.

That is what is most ridiculous about that whole case.

Frivolous lawsuits are the bane of the judiciary system, yet lawyers make their living off them.

Sad, and of course, scary.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

What you can do with Legos and a little imagination.

Darth Vader conducts the Star Wars theme.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Correction to "American Apartheid" entry

On 9/26, I spoke about Boston Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, who is the first player of Navajo descent in the major leagues. I also made a comment about reservations:

The average Native American, of any tribe, seems to be set up for failure from the get go... which is *not* the same as the blacks and latinos in ghettos and the barrios, because there the children grow up integrated into American society - and should they get a good education and a good job they could get out of those poor areas and into better ones with no "culture shock" except the one we all go through when we can live a life of luxury! But Indians are raised differently on reservations... they can't get out.

Okay, that's an observation from just a couple of days quick research, but that seems to be the case.


Natalie, from the Warm Springs reservation, emailed me privately to take issue with those comments (which just goes to show that one shouldn't be making comments after only "a couple of days quick research.")

I asked Natalie if I could share them here, and she said yes:

What? Only Indians who live off the rez do good? I'm 100% "Native" and I live here on my "rez" and I think I'm doing just great...so are a lot of people here! Because we are not in the spotlight does not mean we are living in poverty! Far, far from it, as a matter of fact. And Jacoby's mom works on our Rez here in Warm Springs where she has been for a very long time as the speech therapist at The Early Childhood Education Center.


Natalie also pointed out:

I think the majority of America still have the stereotypical thought when it comes to Natives. We're uneducated, drunk and living off the Government. [But] We all know FICA and pay taxes like everyone else, and just for the record we don't get free housing or free education or free medical...I wish that were true so my insurance wouldn't be so high for dental bills!!!


So...a lesson for me to do a bit more research before talking in generalities.

And, by the way, check out the Museum at Warm Springs: "A stunning display of innovation. ... The largest collection of Indian artifacts still in Indian hands."

How to destroy an evil clone

I don't usually pay attention to "Suggested videos" on my google desktop, but for some reason I clicked on this one, and as it has a science fiction theme I thought I'd share it here. A little baby girl accidently creates an evil clone - who goes about destroying all her toys!

The video is entitled Ready Set Bumbo III, and the guy who did it has three on offer, although it's the last two that I find hilarious, and show below.

Basically, this is what you can do if you have a cute baby, a Bumbo child seat (now recalled, by the way), and an imagination!

[Note: click on arrow twice to play]



And this one, made before the one above, is even funnier. The dog in his bed goes after the baby in her bumbo, and there's lots of lasers shots and stuff. It's great!



I've also started a new website to highlight videos like these, so check out

http://thethunderchild.com/YouTubeGuide/

Oct 28: Wonder Woman Day against domestic violence

2nd annual event, taking place in Portland, Oregon and Flemington, NJ

Wonder Woman Day

"A celebration and benefit for domestic violence shelters"

Lots of Wonder Woman art on display to bid for in a silent auction, and more info on the event. (Scroll alllll the way down to see the artwork).

And check out the rest of the pages at the

Wonder Woman Musueum website.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Terry Pratchett at YouTube

Terry Pratchett is one of my favorite authors, and it's a joy to listen to him speak (although as an American I had to get used to his accent).

If anyone hasn't heard of him, he's the creator of the Discworld series, with various leading characters such as Rincewind the Wizard (the one character I don't like), Sam Vimes of the City Watch, and the witches Nanny Ogg, Granny Weatherwax and Magrat to name a few.

Convention goers have uploaded various talks and such at YouTube, I provide only a couple here:

Pratchett on Writing, at a convention in Germany:


Also from Germany, a somewhat risque joke:



Pratchett in Russia (bad sound)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Sarah Connor Chronicles

For someone who publishes a webzine devoted to science fiction in all media, I've been remiss in watching the science fiction programs of past years...I simply haven't had the time.

But I'm looking forward to Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.

What a joy to see a strong woman character as the lead in a TV show! Hopefully she'll be the one kicking butt!

It's set after the events of Terminator 2: Set after the events in 'Terminator 2' Sarah Connor and her son John, trying to stay under-the-radar from the government as they plot to destroy the computer network Skynet in hopes of preventing Armageddon.

12 episodes are completed.

Summer Glau .... Cameron / ... (12 episodes, 2008)

Lena Headey .... Sarah Connor (12 episodes, 2008)

Thomas Dekker .... John Connor (12 episodes, 2008)

Richard T. Jones .... James Ellison (12 episodes, 2008)

Monday, October 22, 2007

Harry Potter fans will want to watch this

The latest Harry Potter film had actress Imelda Staunton as the evil Dolores Umbrage, and was scored by Patrick Doyle.

Alan Titchmarch, an interview in the UK, interviews them both, and below, from Youtube, are the interviews.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Welcome to 1984

Never heard of The Republican-American, but here's the link to the article:

Woman arrested for potty mouth

A woman's toilet was stopped up - inside her own home, so she was swearing at it - inside her own home.

Her next door neighbor, a retired police officer, didn't appreciate her language and "asked her to keep it down." When she didn't, he called the police, who cited her for disorderly conduct.

Now of course there are a few unanswered questions in this report. Did she continue to swear up until the time when the real police got there? Or did she stop swearing as soon as her toilet was unstuck? What time of day or night was it?

Frankly, this is a very scary report if she only let fly with "a few choice words" and then stopped.

What people do in their own homes should be their own business. Whether it's smoking, drinking (as long as they don't come outside afterwards and try to drive) having consensual sex with an adult - if its within someone's own home, it's nobody else's business!

Of course there's always caveats. If someone is drinking and partying in their own home at midnight, with all their neighbors unable to sleep because of the noise, then sure, it would qualify as rudeness, and disorderly conduct.

But swearing a couple of times at a backed up toilet?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Doomwatch



Doomwatch was a British TV series in 1970, starring Simon Oates and Robert Powell. All about scientists trying to stop the destruction of the environment.

In 1972, it was made into a movie. And, let me say that the Brits have nothing on the Americans when it comes to taking source material and twisting it around until it is unrecognizable.

The movie made a new character, played by actor Ian Bannen the star, and the Doomwatch crew of the TV series, in particular my particular fave Simon Oates (whom American audiences will know better from a couple of villainous roles in The Avengers), were relegated to walk-on roles.


Simon Oates second from right

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Earth Vs The Giant Spider

No closeups today, but instead a shot of the Disney movie Lilo and Stitch. Stitch, Experiment 626, is an indestructible alien destruction machine, sentenced to prison on an abandoned asteroid. He escapes to Earth, where he meets Lilo, an orphaned Hawaiian girl being raised by her sister. While Lilo and her sister Nani are talking on a street corner, Stitch sees a movie taking place on a TV screen in a TV store.

The movie is Earth Vs the Giant Spider, 1958, written and directed by Bert I. Gordon, a classic 50s B movie SF director.

Peggy Whitson

Making History

RIGHT HERE SHOULD BE A PHOTO OF WHITSON, BUT BLOGGER IS ACTING UP. WILL INLCUDE WHEN ITS SOLVED.

Attired in Russian Sokol launch and entry suits, NASA astronaut Peggy A. Whitson, Expedition 16 commander; cosmonaut Yuri I. Malenchenko (center), Soyuz commander and flight engineer representing Russia's Federal Space Agency; and Malaysian spaceflight participant Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor walk from the RSC Energia Assembly and Testing Facility to report their readiness to the Head of the State Commission.

The crew launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at sunset on Oct. 10, 2007, in their Soyuz TMA-11 spacecraft and docked at to the International Space Station on Oct. 12. Whitson and Malenchenko will spend six months on the station, while Shukor will return to Earth on Oct. 21 with two of the Expedition 15 crewmembers currently on the complex.

Photo Credit: NASA/Victor Zelentsov (Copyright free)

Sunday, October 14, 2007

It Came From Beneath the Sea (1955) Closeups

My second entry in the Oct 12-21, 2007 Close-Up Blogathon, sponsored by The House Next Door.

It Came From Beneath the Sea (1955) with special effects by Ray Harryhausen, features a gigantic octopus heading from the ocean towards San Francisco, and its eventual destruction.

Spoilers below.



The titles and list of credits rise up from beneath the sea.



Like many 1950s science fiction films, It Came From Beneath the Sea opens up in documentary fashion. A "newsreel" type voice tells us about the United States' mosst powerful weapon, the atomic submarine. First we get a closeup of the blueprints, then we see the sub itself in drydock. The voice details everything done to make it the best sub ever.

"The mind of man had thought of everything, except that which was beyond his comprehension."




Within the submarine, this closeup shows how cramped it is within a sub. Note the pipe blocking part of the view.

While on a shakedown cruise, the sub comes into contact with .... something. Something...radioactive. Bits of it are caught in the dive planes, and once the sub gets home, the stuff is brought to the greatest scientific minds in the land.



All new locations are identified by the close up of a sign of some kind.



Most 1950s science fiction films will have one female scientist, amonst the cast of at least two men (love triangle), and the rest of the military, also of course all male. Here - our first look at the female scientist in this film, played by Faith Domergue.




Female scientist emerges after changing out of her radioactive suit, but...wait for it...



Quick cut to a close up of her face. Yes, I am beautiful, aren't I?





Whenever a female scientist is in a 1950s movie, she's generally in a room with a bunch of military men, and its her task to convince the military minds that she knows what she's talking about and that they'd better listen to her about the monster/alien/etc.



What is the creature going around terrorizing the neighborhood? That's the question asked in a great many SF films. There's usually the clue of a footprint or similar... In Them! (1954) it was a single ant print, in ..Beneath the Sea, it's a single tentacle sucker....




One of two subjective closeups in the film, as the Admiral of the atomic sub and Faith Domergue's character watch from within the car as they head towards Golden Gate Bridge.




The octopus reaches the Golden Gate Bridge. One of its tentacles rises up over the bridge. We're shown it in closeup as it rises...and rises...and rises...giving an impression of how large it is, before the camera draws back and we see it in its entirety (except for the two tentacles it persists in keeping beneath the waves).

[Harryhausen had a limited budget and couldn't afford to animate all 8 tentacles. So he only did 6.]


The other "subjective" closeup shots in the film. Two helicopter pilots see the gigantic tentacle of the octopus before it destroys them. This is the final shot of the scene, we don't see a long shot of the copter actually in the tentacle's grasp.



In the finale, the giant octopus has the sub in its grasp. The Admiral (Kenneth Tobey) has gone out in scuba gear to place an explosive charge on the beast. He's knocked unconsious, so the second man of the love triange with Faith Domergue, also goes out in scuba gear and recovers him. But within the sub, the First Officer doesn't know if they're alive or dead. He must issue the order to detonate the explosive charge, but note the distress on his face...

Fortunately, our two heroes managed to surface in time, and are rescued. The octopus is blown to bits, and alls well that ends well.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Close Up Blog-A-Thon: Them! Them! Them!

Them!, (1954) starring James Whitmore, James Arness, Edmond Gwenn and Joan Weldon, was among the first of the "Radiation Theater" films of classic 1950s science fiction movies.

In this, my first entry in the Oct 12-21, 2007 Close-Up Blogathon, sponsored by The House Next Door, I present three photos of "the little Ellison girl."



Found wandering through the Joshua trees in a near-catatonic state.






The audience hears the weird sound of chittering. Within the ambulance, the little Ellison girl sits up...then lays back down as the noise ceases.





Formic acid (the aroma of ants) has been waved under her nose, and the little Ellison girl breaks out of her catatonic state. She lunges towards the stationary camera, screaming "Them! Them! Them!"

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Tales of Sci Fi Conventions Past

My own convention activity during the 1980s consisted of going to see a couple of Doctor Who conventions in Chicago, but I love to read stories of the early days, from the first convention in 1939 onward, of all the fans and what they did and how they arranged the cons.

To that end, Michael Sinclair, very active in fandom in the south (Chattanooga, Nashville, Bowling Green, et al) during the 1970s and 1980s, is very kindly writing up reminiscences of those times, and also contributing photos of convention badges, programs, etc. which I've put on Collection pages.

It's a wonderful trip back into the land of Nostalgia.

Check it out at The Commodore's Ramblings.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Boycott Warner Brothers!

If this story is to be believed, Warner Brothers will no longer make a movie with a female lead.

Deafline Hollywood Daily

I think it's sad that women don't come out and support the movies with women in the lead (although having said that, I have no interest in "chick flicks" and no interest in The Brave One...

But give me adaptions of Honor Harrington's On Basilisk Station, bring back Witchblade, do a decent Modesty Blaise or Lara Croft, and I'm so there...

Friday, October 05, 2007

Terry Pratchett's Nome Trilogy - Truckers

The Nome Trilogy (or the Bromeliad Trilogy, as it is sometimes called) is ostensibly a trio of books for children, but frankly, it can be read with great enjoyment by adults as well. As with the best of animated films, the bits for the adults and the bits for the kids are interweaved so successfully that it's difficult to think how they could have been un-interweaved.

The three books are Truckers, Diggers, and Wings.

Truckers introduces the readers to Masklin and Grimma, two young nomes, and a few older nomes, who have spent all their lives out "in the open" where the 4 inch high human-looking creatures struggle to survive against foxes that eat them, food that won't grow, and so on.

The Nomes live in a faster time than the humans do... the humans are slow moving, unintelligible, but probably intelligent.

Masklin arranges for his small band of nomes to hide away on a truck, which brings them to.... the Store. Arnold Brothers, established 1905. There are nomes there...nomes who have lived there all their lives and regard the Store as their entire world, with various gods (Bargains Galore, a godlike figure just below Arnold Bros (1905) and a devilish figure also known as Prices Slashed) and their own religious caste (the Stationeri).

The Outside nomes have brought with them the Thing, a small box which comes to life when it is held near electricity, and turns out to be the small computer from a crashed spaceship. The nomes's ancestors came from outer space, their scout ship had crashed on earth over a hundred years ago ago...and the mother ship remains in orbit waiting for the nomes to return so it can take them home.

But the Store nomes don't believe this of course. Still less do they believe the Thing's news (it can communicate with the computers in the store) that the Store is closing and will be demolished.

It's up to Masklin to save the day, and the 2,000 nomes in the Store - in a hilarious and thought provoking tale that all will enjoy.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

When an adaption is better than the book

This happens verrrrrrrrrrrrrrry rarely - indeed I can count on one hand the times when the movie or other production has been as good as the material it was adapted from....(and that includes Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings debacle - why the heck did he dismiss Lee's Saruman so stupidly?????)

But one such adaption is The AMazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents. The BBC adapted it to radio in 2003, and BBC 7, which I listen to, broadcast it in June 2007, which is when I recorded it... but I didn't have time to listen to it until a few days ago.

And I love it. The voices fit the cast perfectly, including David Tennant as Dangerous Beans (Tennant is the new Doctor Who) and Shaun Prendergast as Darktan, and frankly I like the adaption much better than the book - which I read for the first time today.

Maurice is a cat who lived around the garbage heap behind Unseen University - a place where wizards lived. Some of their magic escaped and gave Maurice intelligence...and it also gave intelligence to a lot of rats - now called The Clan.

The Clan wants to find an island where they can live as civilized beings, away from humans. Their leader is Hamnpork, an old rat who isn't in tune with new ways, their spiritual leader is Dangerous Beans, who has read a book called Mr Bunnsy Has An Adventure - about humans and rats interacting, which he regards as true, and therefore, as his Bible, and various others.

Maurice has recruited Keith - the "stupid looking kid", and in order to get the money to buy their island, they go from town to town running the "Plague of Rats" caper. The rats invade, Keith comes in with his pipe and for a fee, plays music that causes the rats to follow him out of town.

Then they come to Bad Blintz. Where things are really, really bad.

The adaption leaves out much (it's only 90 minutes long) and adds a little. My favorite scene, in which Darktan dismantles a trap while new-to-the-trap-squad Nourishing looks on, is great on the radio, not so great in the book.

The only flaw in the radio adaption is a slignt one - the voice of Death, at the end. Death is one of my favorite characters in the Discworld series of Terry Pratchett (indeed, I prefer to think of that Death as Death in the real world, too, very comforting), but in the adaption, in his few lines, he comes across as way too.... avuncular and smarmy...at the very least the voice should have been put into an echo chamber of some kind so you'd know it was Death talking...

BBC Radio 7 repeats things all the time, so make sure you check back periodically for The Amazing Maurice and his educated Rodents, although I'll also let you know when it's being repeated again, here.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Comic Book: Retro Rocket

I visited my local comic book shop today... something I do about once a month just to see how much comics have increased in that time (I stopped buying them in the early 1990s when they started charging 75 cents, now you can't get them for less than $2.99 and more likely $3.99)

I bught issues 1 and 2 of Retro Rocket, Retro Rocket is a soldier in a battle suit. I've yet to read them, but browing through them... I'm not surprised that they came out in 2006 and apparently issue 2 was the last issue. Nevertheless I'll read them later on tonight and review them here in the next week or so.

I browsed through the covers, and came across a She Hulk cover that irritated me. I bought the first She Hulk comic way back in the 1990s, and indeed I think I had the first 20 issues before I divested myself of my collection in the early 2000s (much to my regret buy ya gotta do what ya gotta do.)

The She Hulk is supposed to be a super hero, but on this cover she's just standing there, looking bemused, while a pre-teen girl is "all up in her face," about something. Why this girl isn't splattered across the cover by one blow of the She Hulk's hand I do not understand.... I didn't bother to look inside to see if the cover contents was explained in the story... but it reminded me of those 1940s comics of Superman and Batman where, after the war, these characters were ridiculed and set up for comedy stories by a country tired of the rigor of war.

Perhaps understandable then... but today you don't see those in any other super hero comic books... but here we get the She Hulk..

As long as I'm on a feminist rant... I forgot to track down the Archie comics... I used to like those as a kid... not the regular Archie in which Betty and Veronica were always your stereotypical girls.... not doing anything interesting, just shopping for clothes, dissing each other, and trying to attract Archie's attention.

But Archie At Riverdale Heights was a fave, as it seemed aimed at a higher age group and the girls got to do interesting stuff, I used to have the first 20 issues of those as well...

But last time I was at a comic store I looked at an Archie comic and saw the same old stereotypical female stuff and I just wanted to rip the thing to shreds!

Well..end of rant for today.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Time keeps on slipping into the future...

I've been extremely busy the last 3 days, trying to catch up on everything I missed when I was out sick...not even nearly caught up now but hopefully by tomorrow...

If you visit BBC Radio 7 there's lots of Doctor Who to listen to, starring Paul McGann as the Doctor...

and if you live near Manhattan be sure to see The Last Starfighter musical...

Saturday, September 29, 2007

What's the Point?

Today... with the Brain From Planet X having *1* more performance, there's an article in the New York Times that mentions it. (Says the first half is funny, second half too long.)

New York Times article on the festival.


Indeed, I think all the plays the author mentions in this article only have 1 performance left... while plays that are coming up... such as The Last Starfighter, aren't mentioned at all. (Well, of course they can't be as they hadn't been seen, but still...mention that they're about to open or something!)

Apparently there was much drama at the opening night of the Last Starfighter, doubtless of a technical basis behind the scenes, but the guy wasn't explicit...members of the audience seemed to like it, according to posts I've seen...

Friday, September 28, 2007

Last Starfighter/Brain From Planet X

I'll be putting up a page in the Theatre section of The Thunder Child, providing links to all the press that these two shows received, in their appearances not only at the New York Theater Festival but also in other venues where they were produced. (Both shows have been produced before, and indeed, have cast albums available from www.kritzerland.com )

But, since I don't have time to assemble everything today, I'll just start out with the latest Playbill article for The Last Starfighter.

Playbill: The Last Starfighter

If you're in New York and are a fan of SF, go see these shows!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Women and Saudi Arabia

In Saudi Arabia, Debate on Women’s Right to Drive

This is a must-read article for people living in the USA. Any woman living in a Muslim country - whether that country is secular or ruled by their priests - is in danger of having her freedoms stripped away, her identity as a human being as equal as the next human being stripped away...on the whim of the ruling class...

Don't let it happen here...and let's help the women there. Don't know how to do that yet, but I'll be researching NOW and other women's rights organizations to see what is being done.

The Last Starfighter musical now in New York

The Last Starfighter - info on the show, dates and times: Sept 28 - Oct 7

The Brain From Planet X - info on the show - dates and times. Only two days left, Sept 28 and Sept 30

Is science fiction musical theater dead? If we're to go by the reception of the New York Musical Theater Festival production, The Brain From Planet X, it might be. But there's one more sci fi musical to be seen, The Last Starfighter, which starts tomorrow.

There are 30 productions being put on during this three week Festival, only two of them with a science fiction theme. If I were in New York I'd go see both of them - although I don't care for the type of humor apparently on display in Brain and I didn't particularly like the movie version of The Last Starfighter!

I've been keeping track of the evolution of The Brain From Planet X, because its producer/director/co-writer/lyricist has a blog where he's been detailing this every step of the way, from gathering the money to put the show on, to casting it, to rehearsing, to actually doing the show. It's a fascinating insight into how these things are done, and i must say the level of ineptitude displayed - NOT by the Brain people but by the Festival people, is really shocking. I could think this guy was exaggerating, except I've been reading reviews of the other shows and they comment on show start timess delayed because of sound problems, and mikes not working during preformances - which is what happened to the Brain... and I just don't understand it. I know quality is going down in practically every profession...but the theatre too? [Well, better the theatre than the construction industry, but the quality of work in the construction industry is in the toilet, too. But that's a rant for another day.]

Anyway, the Brain had its opening night, and apparently a critic from the New York Times was there. But, I've yet to see a review from the Times. I have seen some other reviews, which praise the actors but criticize the book and music. [So I found it kind of amusing that when the guy referenced above tried to "shill" his show [his words] on a site called TalkinBroadway, he referenced that the show had gotten mediocre reviews, but that was when the kinks were still being worked out, and now they were solved. Ignoring the fact that the reviews had praised the actors and had not mentioned the technical problems...only criticizing the things that the technical difficulties had had nothing to do with - the book and the music!]

So, I'm surfing the web trying to find comments from audience members who actually saw the show. There are threads for the Festival on TalkinBroadway and at Broadway World...and no one at TalkinBroadway mentions the show at all, but they do mention other Festival shows, and it took the longest time for somebody on BroadwayWorld to talk about the show - and they referenced the humor that I know I wouldn't like...

Upshot of all the above is...The Brain From Planet X does not appear to even be a blip on the radar at the Festival. It had first been staged in Los Angeles, with different actors, and had been "invited" to do the Festival (but they still had to pay to put it on, the Festival just provides the space.)

Anyway, an education into the world of the theatre.

I wish the guy doing The Last Starfighter would have a blog as well, but he doesn't. But I'm sure he's having the same kind of technical problems as the Brain guy. Apparently they rehearse in one location, and only get to see the theater they'll actually be performing in... on the day that that is to occur! No wonder sound problems are a given. Again, the Festival people are to blame for that, not the show itself.

So...the tickets are only $20, as compared to $50 or more for regular productions...and at only $20, why not go out and see these shows?

I hope to have better news to report on the reception of The Last Starfighter. It'll be interesting to see if it gets any reviews!

Adverising?
The theme of this entry is to wonder whether an SF musical is viable in New York. However, it must be remembered that the Festival allows these shows NO advertising budget... so if people aren't a fan of theatre/musical theatre to begin with..chances are they will never even learn about these shows...

If advertising were available...who knows?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Women's college basketball discussed on PTI!

Discussion of women's sports is not a thing you normally see on any major sports station, be it radio or TV, so I was pleased to see this:

Pardon the interuption link


The PTI folks discssing Pat Summitt's cancellation of The Game. The rivalry game between UConn and Tenn that had been going on for 9 years at least.

I'm a fan of Pat Summitt's, but I was a bigger fan before she did this. Not so much because she cancelled The Game... but because she won't say why! Thus leaving it out there for people to gossip and spread rumors....Oh, he must have done something terrible, when more than likely it's just because she "hates Geno's guts" (he is sarcastic) and doesn't want to play him any more.

If that's the case, just say so. But to leave everyone hanging, and free to gossip and speculate... not good.

American Apartheid?

Now that my Seattle Mariners are out of the race, I've begun to look at the other teams, whom I hope will kick Yankees butt!

And I've settled on the Red Sox.

The Red Sox have a rookie outfielder named Jacoby Ellsbury, who played during September when Manny Ramirez was out with an injury. Since I've got MLB.TV and watch the games on my computer, I've been able to see those games.

The first game with Ellsbury that I saw, just a week or so ago, the announcers of course mentioned his Navajo heritage, and that he was the first Indian of Navajo descent in the major leagues. So, without even knowing anything else about him, I automatically wanted him to do well.

Then I actually saw him play - the way he covers the field with abaondon, is willing to sacrifice his body (i.e. running over a few chairs) in order to catch a ball, etc. and I became a fan of his as a baseball player, as well.

And put together a biography and a newstracker page. You can find the biography here.

Jacoby Ellsbury bio

But in doing this research I found some troubling and depressing things.

Now, I'm from Minnesota which has a couple of Indian reservations, and money pours into those reservations from casinos... and apparently the only money-making thing that Indians can do on the worthless land that makes up these reservations is casinos. [why else were they moved to them in the 1800s, eh? You think if the land was good for anything they'd've been allowed to have it?] As the old joke was, "White folk took away the land, and now the Indians are getting it back a nickel at a time."

But I digress.

The point is Jacoby, who is only half Navajo - his mother married a white man - was brought up IN American society, not segregated away in a reservation. And that's why he's succeeding.

According to one article I read, Billy Mills calls reservations American apartheid - and indeed there is a book out, published in 1997, with that title ...about the white man's practice of segregating the Indian away from the whites. [Now there's issues there that I can think of...but I haven't read the book and I expect it's too depressing for me to want to read, but...]

But , for whatever reason the Indians were sent to reservations then, it's still going on today, and that's what's troubling. The Indian Nations are sovereign countries, and I'd have not word one to say about them if these reservations were prosperous [and the top people are, thanks to that casino money], their people well-educated and well-employed, with school drop-outs and alcoholism not a major problem.

But the opposite, unfortunately, seems to be the case. The average Native American, of any tribe, seems to be set up for failure from the get go... which is *not* the same as the blacks and latinos in ghettos and the barrios, because there the children grow up integrated into American society - and should they get a good education and a good job they could get out of those poor areas and into better ones with no "culture shock" except the one we all go through when we can live a life of luxury! But Indians are raised differently on reservations... they can't get out.

Okay, that's an observation from just a couple of days quick research, but that seems to be the case. Whether the fault lies within the Tribal Leadership, or the American government's propensity to turn thriving, active people into welfare recipients and then make sure they stay that way, I'm not sure.

But I hope Jacoby Ellsbury can be a standard bearer for all Native Americans - get an education, get a job you like and be happy, and be proud of your roots. And, while it's not necessary to "get off the reservation,".... lose the reservation mentality. Whatever the tragedies of the past, it's now the 21st century and time to move into the future and integrate with the rest of the country.

And moreso than that, he must be a standard bearer to Majority America - that when people are not held down by prejudice, either overt or covert, they can all reach the heights.

That's a lot to put on one man's shoulders. I hope he can do it. I hope they can do it.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Why I disliked Stardust (2007) - the wrong story told


I went to see Stardust yesterday. My reviewer had seen it a few weeks ago, and indeed, her favorable review appears here:

Stardust review by Kristie Groves

I'd also read about the movie on a feminism in science fictin blog, which took issue with the typical stereotypes - the men in the story are going after a kingdom, the women - i.e. Michelle Pfeiffer - just want to be young again... [I had intended to share the link of that blog here as something well worth reading at anytime, but I can't find the link though I thought it had it bookmarked and I don't have time to search for it right now!]

Anyway, for me, the movie was spoiled from the get-go, for a reason that I haven't seen anyone else complain about (not that I've read more than two pieces on it, but still...)

The opening of the movie is a prologue of something that had occurred 18 years before. A young man sneaks through "the Wall" into a magic kingdom, where he meets a woman who is enslaved to a witch. He tries to free her by cutting the silver chain that binds her to the witch's caravan (the witch being absent), but it reforms. The woman will be free only when the witch is dead.

But, she draws the young man into the caravan, they have sex, and nine months later, a baby is delivered through the wall to the young man -- who has returned to his own world -- who raises it. And it is that baby grown to manhood, who is the hero of the story.

And I'm thinking to myself...what the hell? Why was the young woman left a slave to the witch? Why didn't the man do a leetle bit more to try to rescue her - like killing the witch, etc. Why is she left a slave for 18 more years???

Of course she has to be, because it's the boy's desire to see his mother which helps draw him into that world... but still...I was just enraged from the beginning and I never did un-enraged.

As a whole the movie is... all right. An annoying love story, with the hero taught a lesson. I love the Lightning Catching balloon and the Robert DeNiro interlude, Michelle Pfeiffer was certainly having fun and made a good and powerful villainess... but yes, the stereotypes about women were in full force.

And yet... my young reviewer saw nothing of that.... only us middle-aged women do... scary, that!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Women Behind the Men

Another article of interest:

The Women Behind the Men
Daisy Bates had to march with the wives.
GAIL COLLINS

When the nation observes the 50th anniversary of the Little Rock school desegregation on Monday, there will undoubtedly be a great deal said about Bates, who was head of the city’s N.A.A.C.P. chapter. She helped recruit nine black teenagers and escorted them through irate mobs of white adults and into their first classes. As a result, she and her husband, Lucius, lost their business. She was jailed, threatened and the Ku Klux Klan burned an 8-foot cross on her lawn.

Bates was invited, of course, to the famous March on Washington in 1963, when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream” speech. Rosa Parks was invited, too, and Pauli Murray, the lawyer and feminist who had staged the first sit-in at a Washington restaurant during World War II.

When they got there, they were all assigned to walk with the wives of the male civil rights leaders, far away from the cameras. “Not a single woman was invited to make one of the major speeches or be part of the delegation of leaders who went to the White House. The omission was deliberate,” Murray said later.

See link for complete article

Gerda Taro - first female war photographer

Okay, not SF, but I find it interesting.

A Wartime Photographer in Her Own Light
Sometime in the spring of 1936, the lovers and photographers André Friedmann and Gerta Pohorylle changed their names and, in the process, the history of photography. To distinguish themselves from other Jewish émigrés in Paris at the time, Mr. Friedmann, a Hungarian Jew, took the name Robert Capa; Ms. Pohorylle, also Jewish and born in Poland, became Gerda Taro. Working at times as “Capa,” an imaginary American photographer, they began documenting the Spanish Civil War, capturing the ruined towns and devastated civilians and soldiers on the Republican side.

Gerda Taro Mr. Capa went on to become one of the world’s greatest war photographers. But Ms. Taro, seen by many as the first woman known to photograph a battle from the front lines and to die covering a war, survived in the public eye mostly for her romance with Mr. Capa.
SEE LINK FOR COMPLETE ARTICLE

Friday, September 21, 2007

Books, Books, Books everywhere

Here are the books that *I* am personally trying to read and review. I don't count the many books that my two reviewers have outstanding...

Hispanic-American Scientists, by Walter Olesky. Not a new book, 1998 copyright. But I do retro-reviews and there's a chapter in this book on astronaut Ellen Ochoa, as well as Adriana Ocamo - planetary geologist, snd physicist Luis Alvarez among others.

Directed by Steven Spielberg, by Warren Buckland. New book on Spielberg. Academic rather than "popular" writing.

Storms of Vengeance, Book 1 of the Lorrada Stone, by John Beachem.

Hal Spacejock, by Simon Haynes. A book from Austrakia that Simon was good enough to send me for review. "Better thn Red Dwarf" is the blurb on the cover.

The Electric Church, by Jeff Somers.

Swords and Sorcery: How to Draw Fantastic Fantasy Adventure Comics, by Bryan Buagh.

Fast, Cheap and Under Control, by John Gaspard. A book about independent movies and how they're made. Only a couple of mentions of science fiction movies, but I think it's worth reviewing.

Musical Science Fiction Theater in New York right now

Here's the link to a Broadway page that has a clip of an interview with the creator of The Last Starfighter musical, now playing on Broadway as part of the New York Theater Festival. Only has a run of a couple of weeks.

http://www.broadwayworld.com/videoplay.cfm?colid=21527

There's also a musical called The Brain From Planet X, which opened yesterday and will also run for a couple of weeks.

Tickets to the festival only cost $20, for good seats in a small theater, rather than Broadway's traditional $50 for nosebleed seats at the back of the auditorium.

So check 'em out!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Journalistic ethics

On my desktop newsfeed today, from CNN, was this headline:

Bush: MoveOn's Petraeus 'disgusting'

This headline puzzled me, as I thought Petraeus was on Bush's side, and did not "belong" to MoveOn...and why would Bush think Petraeus was disgusting...had Petraeus "betrayed" Bush and gone over to MoveOn???

So I clicked on the link, and was brought to CNN's article, where the headline said: Bush: MoveOn.org ad on Petraeus 'disgusting'

That little word, that key little word, "ad" had been left out of the desktop headline - the headline that everyone would see - not just those who took the time to look further.

Now, somebody with not a lot of time, looks at that headline but doesn't bother to read it, is only going to see that "Bush thinks Petraeus is disgusting" and that's going to prejudice their minds against either Petraeus, Bush or both.

Now, was this a legitimate oversight on somebody's part, or was it done deliberately?

I must say that I am pretty much in despair about the political climate in the good ol' US, anyway. I've always maintained that all politicians - Republican or Democrat - are crooks, and that's pretty much being proved day after day. From the Republicans who say they stand for family values and then turn around and have gay sex with people in bathroom stalls...to Democrats who take campaign contributions from felons... they're all the same.

(And as an aside, I have no problem with gays getting married, for example, - there's so much hatred in this world that if two people want to commit to each other formally, more power to them! And I'd hope that their marriage is more successful than the majority of straight marriages.)

If you study the history of journalism, it's really rather sad, as the myth about journalistic ethics, journalistic fairness is pretty much stripped away from the get go. And it's only getting worse... you can't really trust any newspaper - paper or online... to tell you the truth about anything. Each one has its own agenda, it's own political party it supports, and its reporting style is biased in that direction.

And I don't think people realize this. Otherwise it wouldn't still be going on, surely! Surely people, if they'd cared, would have revolted before now and said, "Hey, stop with the biased reporting already. Fair and balanced, that's what we want."

Another example, something that always gets my knickers in a twist, is when the news media reports poll results. "A majority of Americans say they want to impeach So and So." or "Americans think So and So is the sexist person on earth." Then you go to the small print at the very bottom of the article, and this "majority" or these "Americans" turn out to be a grand total of 1,000 people that the media talked to.

What the media will tell you is that the opinions of one person can be extrapolated to be the opinions of 1,000, but that's not really the case. I think it's more accurate to say that 1,000 people read that "A majority of Americans think that So and So should be impeached," and believe the headline and decide that that's what they'll think, too. Subtle difference.

Anyway, end of rant. I've got to go read some books.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Doctor Who: Sword of Orion

Another Paul McGann Doctor Who serial, also 2 episodes aired every day:

Doctor Who: Sword of Orion
Sword of Orion: The Doctor and Charley set off to the Garazone System bazaar, but instead discover a deadly enemy on a derelict star destroyer. Episode 1 of 4.

Doctor Who: Sword of Orion
Sword of Orion: To prove that he and Charley are innocent of murder and get the TARDIS back, the Doctor must face the deadly Cybermen. Episode 2 of 4.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Paul McGann's Doctor Who returns to BBC 7

Thursday - 2 episodes of Storm Warning
Friday - final 2 episodes of Storm Warning


The actor who played Roj Blake in Blake's 7, Gareth Thomas, has a guest-starring role.

Doctor Who: Storm Warning
It's 1930, and the airship R101's first flight. Who is the odd passenger in cabin 43? And why is a sixties police box on board? Episode 1 of 4.

Doctor Who: Storm Warning
The R101 is under attack, the storm is breaking, and the passenger in cabin 43 needs to see the Doctor. Episode 2 of 4.

Doctor Who: Storm Warning
While the Doctor makes a journey into the spaceship interior, Rathbone prepares to carry out his mission. Paul McGann stars. Episode 3 of 4.

Doctor Who: Storm Warning
The Doctor and Charley help the R101 crew escape from the aliens, only to run into more problems closer to home. Episode 4 of 4.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Looney Tunes Golden Collection

Disc 1 photo essay continued



Looney Tunes Golden Collection Vol 1




Disc 1 Photo Essay: Bugs Bunny cartoons




Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Shada on BBC Radio 7

Shada is the famous Tom Baker Doctor Who serial that went unfinished because of a BBC strike. It has been redone for radio. Lalla Ward reprises her role as Romana, and Paul McGann does the Doctor. It's quite good, although of course I longed to hear Tom Baker in the role.

Anyway, first time I heard it, last year, it was 30 minutes once a day. This time around, they're playing two episodes a day, so you can hear the whole thing in just 3 days.

Also on offer, on Tuesday, is:

The Cabaret of Dr Caligari
The Homeless Who Ate London: London is in crisis as a people-eating Blob is let loose on the rampage. With Sylvester McCoy and John Woodvine.

The Cabaret of Dr. Caligari is an actual horror anthology...so even though this might be interesting, I ain't gonna listen to it. (And of course Sylvester McCoy played a Doctor, but that's not enough to make me want to listen...I can take tongue-in-cheek horror, but I kind of think this is serious...)

My rant of the day

If there's one thing that annoys me more than anything else, when it comes to reading non-fiction...it is books that don't have indexes. How can a non-fiction book not have an index??? It is an affront before god and man, if I may paraphrase William Daniel's John Adams.

I've got a handful of non-fiction books in front of me, most of which I do not have time to read. I'm trying to do research on specific topics -- All I'm interested in is certain portions of the books, therefore. They may or may not even talk about the period of time/people I'm interested in... but since they don't have indexes I can't find out in a mere 30 seconds, I'm forced to read each book.

Annoys me no end.

Some time ago I started putting together indexes of non-fiction books, for my own use. I'm going to revive that practice and put these indexes on my website (Ghost Guns Virginia) for everyone's use. So at least future researchers won't have to go through this!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Tough days...

I was sick all day yesterday, and am not feeling too well today, so I'm behind on my reading and reviewing.

In addition to several fiction books I've got, I'm expecting reviews from my reviewers, and I today got Into the Unknoown, the fantastic life of Nigel Kneale (creator of Quatermass).

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Is there nothing original on TV these days??

I've been watching football most of the day...and I keep seeing ads for a show called Journeyman..in which a guy (why is it women never get to be the heroines of these kinds of tv shows?) travels back in time to fix other people's problems.

My that sounds kind of familiar. Kind of like Quantum Leap, eh? Except instead of being in someone else's body he just knows what's going to happen and saves the day. Kind of a combination of Quantum Leap and... was it called Front Page, where a newspaper delivered every day tells a guy what he has to do to fix other people's problems.

I wouldn't mind it so much if they'd give a woman a chance to do these heroic things - but the closest we ever got to that was Touched By an Angel - a copy of Michael Landon's show...

A show called Chuck...Saving the World at $11 An Hour might be kind of cute. From the ads it looks like we've got a karate chopping female secret agent, and a male geek with the brains and, I think, a photographic memory, who saves the day for her on a regular basis.

I don't have a lot of time to watch TV these days...indeed I cringe to think how much time I've wasted watching football today, and will undoubtedly waste on subsequent Sundays...but hey, it's football.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Madeleine L'Engle (88) has died.

Author Madeleine L'Engle dies at 88
By CARA RUBINSKY, Associated Press Writer

HARTFORD, Conn. - Author Madeleine L'Engle, whose novel "A Wrinkle in Time" has been enjoyed by generations of schoolchildren and adults since the 1960s, has died, her publicist said Friday. She was 88.

L'Engle died Thursday at a nursing home in Litchfield of natural causes, according to Jennifer Doerr, publicity manager for publisher Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

FULL ARTICLE AT LINK ABOVE

She was the author of A Wrinkle in Time, one of my favorite books as a child, and indeed I still read it occasionally today. I didn't really like the rest of her books..although it's been a long time since I tried to read them... but
A Wrinkle in Time is a classic. And you need to read this and NOT mess with the bad TV adaption they did a few years ago. Why do the nimnuls who do TV and movie adaptions always try to "improve" what doesnt' need to be improved????