Monday, January 28, 2008

Monty Python and the Holy Grail in Lego

The only Monty Python movie I've ever liked.

Jan 28, 2007 was apparently some kind of anniversary for legos...or something... Google created their logo out of them. They have been in existence since 1934.

Legos are very popular, there's several theme parks in Europe, and last year I saw the touring exhibition of marine creatures made out of Legos that I enjoyed very much.

Here's some clips:

Indiana Jones in Lego

and of course Darth Vader in Lego, conducting the Star Wars theme

and the Star Wars Trilogy in Legos... this is hilarious

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Mookie and Sam: Sam Goes to Texas

Okay, I've got to share this.

Two cute dogs, very believable as Sam (male) tells Mookie about his visit to a Texas dude ranch.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

When is anonymity not anonymity?

There was a TV show...I can't remember what it was...perhaps Saturday Night Live? ... where a guy in shadow is supposed to be giving evidence about his criminal cohorts, and his face is supposed to be in shadow so that no one will recognize him... except his face isn't in shadow... and of course much hilarity ensues.

Imagine my amusement, not to mention concern, to read this article today.

Satellite is weeks away from hitting Earth

Read these first several paragraphs. The bold highlights are mine...

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A large U.S. spy satellite has lost power and propulsion and could hit the Earth in late February or March, government officials said Saturday.

A senior government official says lawmakers and other nations are being kept apprised of the situation.

The satellite, which no longer can be controlled, could contain hazardous materials, and it is unknown where on the planet it might come down, they said.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the information is classified as secret.

[and yet]

"Appropriate government agencies are monitoring the situation," said Gordon Johndroe, a spokesman for the National Security Council.

So it's Gordon Johndroe who is speaking on condition of anonymity???????

Thursday, January 24, 2008

A Statement on the Human Condition, using Bettas

This is a video about bettas. I couldn't decide which direction to take it in, so I did it on two subjects, and hopefully that won't scotch my viewership.

1) How to create a patriotic betta aquarium, for use at July 4 parties, or during political meetings.

2) How to use a betta bowl to comment on the human condition. Bettas are very territorial and will fight to the death (in small aquariums where the loser has nowhere to flee) because they're animals with teeny tiny brains. Humans exhibit the same behavior, and yet we have brains, the ability to think and see the consequences of our actions, emotions such as empathy and compassion...and yet it doesn't seem to do many of us any good (because we also have emotions of hate and antipathy)....

Also a visual joke on the recent Edwards/Clinton/Obama debate where Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama were going at it, while colorless John Edwards was pretty much forgotten....

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

1984 Won't Be like 1984...

I was actually watching the Superbowl and saw this commercial...the computer for the first Apple Macintosh.

I actually used one of the first internal hard drive, you had to use external there were two slots for those....teeny tiny screen with black and white print - which I loved...

Sure wish I knew who played the female hammer thrower...

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Heath Ledger dead

I got a bit of a shock today when I read the headlines that Heath Ledger was dead at age 28, from a possible drug overdose.

Obviously, one shouldn't jump to conclusions before one has all the facts - as we frequently learn - but for a 28 year old actor to die so abruptly, a drug overdose does seem to be a plausible reason.

And it's so frustrating. Here's a guy with everything. Looks, money, fans - and he can find nothing better to do with his time than to take drugs? Jeez...start skydiving or parasailing if you want a rush - get it naturally. That way, if you survive to old age, you'll probably be able to remember all the good times you had, whereas if you're stoned out of your mind for most of your wont' be able to remember anything when you're old. Does the fate of Jan-Michael Vincent...not to mention River Phoenix...teach nobody anything????

Other than that, I must admit Heath Ledger is just a name to me. Never went to see Brokeback Mountain, although apparently he was very good in it... and had absolutely no intention of going to see his version of The Joker in the new Batman. There's something wrong with the creators of an iconic movie franchise like The Batman, that they'd give the posters over to glorifying a psychotic criminal such as the Joker.

There are plenty of photos of Ledger as the Joker on the internet...I'm not going to share one here.

For the man, RIP. Let's hope that those people among his legions of fans who do drugs, think to themselves..."gee...if it could happen to him, it could happen to me. I'd better give up drugs."

Sunday, January 20, 2008

I Am Legend and Cloverfield reviewed at The Thunder Child

I've added a few new reviewers in the last week, and one, Adam Durrant, has already provided me with two new movie reviews.

I Am Legend

And another, Sarah Benson, has provided a book review for The Stolen Child, by Keith Donahue:

The Stolen Child

Currently, as I type as a matter of fact, I'm listening to the soundtrack for Futureworld, (1976), Peter Fonda as Chuck Browning, Blythe Danner as Tracy Ballard, Arthur Hill as Dr. Duffy and Yul Brynner as the Gunslinger, and enjoying it quite a bit.

Unfortunately, I have no knowledge about music except knowing what I like. I've got a knowledgeable music reviewer in Steve Vertlieb, who will shortly be sending me reviews of The Return of the King, and the new Monstrous Movie Music release, The Blob.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Photo fakery

Photographers manipulating the images they've taken is not a new thing. In fact, it's probably been going on since the invention of photography.

Most recently, however - for the last few years, anyway - I've been particularly aware of this egregious practice.

For example way back when OJ Simpson was first arrested on suspicion of murdering his wife, Newsweek and Time ran a photo that had deliberately been darkened to make him look more menacing.

All you have to do is look at gossip magazines to see how photogs have wiped away all the lines and wrinkles from the face of their subjects to make them look younger - and unhuman!

In the case of movies, I believe the breasts of the actress in Herbie Reloaded were digitally shrunk, since it was a kid's movie and they didn't want big breasts dancing around.

On the other hand, I think Angelina Jolie's breasts in the two Lara Croft movies were enhanced just by wearing padded bras... probably a cheaper way to do it...

Anyway, now politicians are getting into the act.

Politicians head on slimmer body

The politician's head has been placed on the body of a "much slimmer man" - because the politician was too busy to pose for photo shoots himself. Yes, this sounds totally believable. Dean Hrbacek is the politician involved.

Of course, quite innocent trickery has been used in the past, where an old politician continues to use a headshot of his younger self so voters don't know how old he really is.

And those ridiculous magazines like Star and National Enquirer....

There is an inherent problem in this of journalistic integrity. It goes beyond politicians, to magazines, newspapers, etc. It's quite easy to manipulate photos these days to make anyone appear to be doing anything (for example the commerical of Fred Astaire dancing with a vacuum cleaner, etc.) and I think there should be clearly labeled warnings on the bottoms of such computers and such photos - this stuff digitally altered.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Tom Cruise on Scientology video

After only 15 hours at Youtube, this video where Tom Cruise discusses scientology already has over 15,000 hits.

I'm not in to scientology myself, let alone Tom Cruise, but it is science fictional (read about its beliefs at Wikipedia), so I thought I'd share it here.

EDITED: The very next day, and the two videos are no longer at You Tube.

Funny, you'd think the Scientology big wigs would want people to be able to see it, and see his/their views, and have them expressed to a vast audience.

Oh well.

Click on the arrow twice to view it.

The above iss 4 minutes long, this one starts out the same but is 8 minutes long...

Friday, January 11, 2008

Sci fi on BBC Radio 7 next week

From their newsletter:

7th Dimension
Another chance to hear this 3 part sci-fi thriller, originally commissioned for BBC 7. In a futuristic totalitarian world where music has been banned, a government scientist uncovers some uncomfortable facts. Written by Martin Kiszko and starring Clare Corbett and Christian Rodska the director was Mark Smalley.
Saturday at 6pm and midnight

John Wyndham's sci-fi horror story is another special commission for BBC 7. The instinct for survival is tested when a group of space travellers are trapped on board a shuttle to Mars. Read in two parts by Nicholas Boulton.
Sunday at 6.30pm and 12.30am

Project Raphael
A first broadcast for this new BBC 7 commission. A dangerous enemy agent of British Intelligence has died, taking his secrets to the grave. The only hope of retrieving them is to send someone after him. Raphael volunteers to become a 'revenant', a dead agent. However, once he is dead no one can contact him, and so a ghost-hunter is recruited. Written in 3 parts by Jenny Stephens and starring Deborah McAndrew (pictured), Aneirin Hughes, Dan Hagley and Emily Chennery it was directed from Birmngham by Peter Leslie Wild.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Golden Compass

I went to see The Golden Compass today, starring Nicole Kidman as Marisa Coulter, Daniel Craig as Lord Asriel, Dakota Blue Richards as Lyra Belacqua (the heroine), Ian McKellen as Iorek Byrnison (voice), Tom Courtenay as Farder Coram and Sam Elliott as Lee Scoresby.

I saw it at 3:30 pm, and there were about 10 people in the theater, 2 singles (me and some guy) and 4 couples. No kids.

Well, it's not a kid's movie. I found the look of the movie's "steampunk" - everything runs with clockwork. The narrator at the beginning explains that people's souls in this universe live outside their body, as animals - and this is an important, key point as the movie continues.

The actors are good, especially Nicole Kidman as the villainous Mrs. Coulter, the scenery good, the dialog good for the most part, the special effects are good, the only problem is it starts out very slowly. In today's rapid-fire world, I wonder if teens have the patience to sit through all the opening exposition? But then...the story did have to be "set up" and I don't see how else they couldn've done it.

Well...there is another problem - Sam Elliott as Lee Scoresby. Oh, he does an excellent job, but his role is just too similar to his role in Ghost Rider, the older "mentor" type character with the Western accent. (I really have to read the book to see if the character is that way in the book!). At leat in this movie, Elliot's character gets in on the fight at the end, instead of in Ghost Rider, where he rides all the way to the final battlefield with Nicolas Cage...and then just rides on! Stupid!

The controversy about The Golden Compass is that, in the books at least, the villain is the Catholic Church. The religion that didn't acknowledge until just 20 or 30 years ago I think that the Earth revolved around the sun. In the movie, all mention of the Church has been exorcised and the Magisterium is just the government, that likes to control people to within an inch of their lives.

Well, I'm an atheist, so I have no problem with a movie that "promotes atheism" and thinking for yourself. I will say this for the Catholic Church that has banned the movie and urged librarians to confiscate all copies of the books... at least they aren't burning the movie theaters where the movie is being shown, or putting "fatwahs" on the author or any of the actors that dared be in it. There's that difference between Christianity (now, at any rate - not 200 years ago!) and a certain other religion that I won't name.)

Secular government is the only government that will keep all people safe, safeguard the rights of all people, etc. Every time I see these religious fundamentalists banning books or forbidding movies, I just shake my head. (Although, yes, certain movies that degrade women I think should be banned, but consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds...)

Oh, and one thing I forgot...

At the end of the film a few "Russianesque" soldiers block our heroine's way out of a certain location. The one character says several words in Russian, including the word "Nazad!" And I understood what that meant! I've been listeing on BBC Radio 7 to serials featuring Inspector Lionheart (Nicholas Courtney, Brig Gen Lethbridge-Stewart in Doctor Who) and Professor Edward Dunning, author of horror novels, comedy/mystery/horror programs.

In the first, The Nazad Conspiracy, the victims are the Russian individuals who killed Rasputin, so they're all talking Russian, and we learn that "Nazad!" means "back" or "return" in Russian. So I thought that was a bit of amusing serendipity.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Women pilots video magazine

A sister site to The Thunder Child is Winged Victory: Women in Aviation (aka You Fly, Girl) and I've added the following to it:

is the URL for a new feature at Winged Victory. There are several videos at YouTube featuring women pilots - from footage of Amelia Earhart to documentaries on the WASP of WWII, to today's acrobatic pilots, to astronauts such as Shannon Lucid, Eileen Collins and Sally Ride, and I've created a "video magazine" to showcase those videos.

Check it out today!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

On BBC 7

Still chance today to listen to

Wednesday, 26 December
The Sorcerer's Apprentice
Peter is young, eager to please and impatient. When he is left alone with a book of spells, it all goes a bit wrong.

Science fiction
Dan Dare - Pilot of the Future
The Mekon: On Venus, Dan has fallen to his apparent death; the others of his crew are prisoners of the Treens. Episode 3 of 4.

Thursday, 27 December
Fairy Tales
Jack the Giant Killer: The stories behind the pantos. Jack sets off on a murderous mission without a beanstalk in sight. Read by Stephen Mangan.

Science fiction:
Dan Dare - Pilot of the Future
Battle Stations: Dan has come face to face with the blue Atlanteens. The Treens are preparing to attack the gentle Therons. Episode 4 of 4.

Friday, December 28
Fairy Tales
Little Snow White: The stories behind the pantos. Driven by jealousy, Snow White's mother plots to destroy her daughter. Read by Keeley Hawes.

Science fiction
The Ghost Galaxies
A sci-fi adventure by cult writer Piers Anthony. What happens to a galaxy when it dies? Episode 1 of 2.

Saturday, December 29

Science fiction
Blake's 7
Traitor: Can Blake and his rebel crew make a stand against the power of the Liberator? Only Avon has the answer, but whose side is he on? Episode 2 of 3.

Monday, December 31

Science fiction
The Ghost Galaxies
Piers Anthony's sci-fi adventure continues. An uncertain future faces the Meg II as it hurtles towards the rim of the universe. Episode 2 of 2.

Tuesday, January 1

Terry Pratchett's tale of Death's new apprentice with Anton Lesser. Mort tries to alter the course of history. Episode 1 of 4.