Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Idiosyncrasies of Isaac Asimov

I'm busy reading Asimov's authobiography (In Memory Yet Green and In Joy Still Felt), in preparation for an article I'm writing about Asimov.

But I must say Asimov amuses me more often than not. For example, he learned how to type when he was about 13 or so... and he says, "I could type 50 words a minute" and "I could type 90 words a minute." He would always clarify it - he didn't bother to correct his speed for errors, of which he made a lot. And if you correct for errors, he probably only typed about 60 words a minute.

A minor thing, but it's just amusing.

It was after reading Asimov's autobiography that I grew to like him personally (though some of his idiosyncrasies were amusing) - at this point I liked his non-fiction but really didn't care for his fiction writing, the prose was just too old -fashioned.

But when I read his I, Asimov, which I believe was published posthumously, but in which he revealed that he actually had cheated on his first wife at conventions -several times - and various other things, I grew to dislike him again.

Still...that shouldn't and doesn't impact his excellent non-fiction writing, and I think it's too bad that most libraries are de-accessioning his books. Sure, all of his sceience essays are now 40 years old, but they're prescient for all of that!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Pagemaster suffers on the small screen

I'm watching Pagemaster (1994) on the Encore Channel. This animated movie features the voice talents of McCauley Culkin, Patrick Stewart, Whoopi Goldberg, Frank Welker, Leonard Nimoy and Christopher Lloyd.

I don't think I saw this in the theaters, but my nephew had a DVD of it which I quite enjoyed. The opening, live scenes were a bit... uh...McCauley Culkin seemed a bit too old to be such a wimp ...but the animated story was wonderful, I thought.

Patrick Stewart plays Adventure, Frank Welker plays Horror, and Whoopi Goldberg pays Fantasy. Culkin plays Richard Tyler, a timid boy who doesn't have the courage to ride his bike off a ramp (hey, maybe he's just got common sense, instead!) All the neighborhood kids laugh at him. Then, a storm hits, which forces him into a library. Soon, he finds himself transported into a variety of fictional worlds by the Pagemaster.

He has all kinds of adventures, aided by Horror, Adventure and Fantasy (thank god no love story! - although Adventure and Fantasy get a little something going.) (Adventure: How would you like to curl up with a good book?
[Fantasy wallops him]
Adventure: Ow, me binding!
Fantasy: In your dreams! )

and when he leaves the library it's to have the courage to take on that bike ramp.

It's a paeon to get kids reading, of course. Of letting them know of the joy to be found in books. Whether it actually resulted in a kid sitting down to read a book, I do not know.

The problem is that the version ENcore is showing is terribly blurry and faded...not something you'd expect of a movie that's only 14 years old. YOu'd think they'd have been able to pull a DVD off the shelf and play that! This version will unfortunately not gain the movie any fans, I dont' think.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

PR: Eban Schletter's Cosmic Christmas: A Yuletide Odyssey

I have received this CD for review, and hope to do it within this week.

However, since time may be of the essence for those who want to attend showings at the Glendale Planetarium on December 6 and 13, I'll share the press release that came along with the CD, so that you can mark your calendars and call up the planetarium to make reservations, should they be needed.

Eban Schletter's Cosmic Christmas: A Yuletide Odyssey

(Los Angeles) -- Because Christmas is a time of traditin, it is only fitting that this year's crop of of holiday music offers a look at "Christmas Past." However, one artist has his eyes set on "Christmas future", and outer space.

Eban Schletter creates a sonic vision of yuletide spirit adrift far into the galaxy in his new album, Cosmic Christmas, available from Oglio Records.

Not content to simply record Theremin versions of Christmas songs, Schletter has created a concept album which takes the listener on a journey through a strange and poetic tale worthy of The Twilight Zone.

The mise-en-scene: a military satellite finds itself in the midst of a musical "transmission" which forcesit to rethink it's primary directive. Original songs, like "What Will Become of Christmas" (sung eloquently by Grant-Lee Phillips) melodiously underscore the evolution of this artificial intelligence.

In December, the Glendale, CA planetarium will feature the debut of Cosmic Christmas, and Eban will be performing live on the theramin, accompanied by vibraphonist Alexander Burke. There will be a dazzling display of real-time animation performed by J. Walt, creator of Spontaneous Fantasia.

Cosmic Christmas was relased on November 17. The Planetarium shows will be on December 6th and 13th, with showtimes at 5 pm and 7 pm.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Twilight Zone's Spur of the Moment

Many of the episodes of The Twilight Zone have little life lessons embedded in them. One of these is "Spur of the Moment" which stars Diana Hyland and Roger Davis.

(Spoiler below)

The plot summary at is incorrect. It says:

An engaged heiress is terrorized by a middle-aged woman on a horse pleading with her not to go through with her impending marriage

The actual plot is, "An engaged heiress is rerrorized by a middle-aged woman on a horse, while she tries to decide which of two suitors she should marry.

It opens with the woman riding a horse down a road. Then, a female figure on a horse, wearing a black cape that flaps in the wind and makes her look like a witch, arrives at the top of a cliff and screams at her, and then charges down the mountain toward her. To no one's surprise, the woman flees, and arrives home in tears.

Okay - here's the "twist". The middle-aged woman in the flapping cape is an older version of the young girl, desperately trying to get her to not marry the man she marries (who is not the man she is originally engaged to.) He - Roger Davis, turns out to be an alcoholic who spends all her money, makes her miserable, and apparently turns her into a harridan.

Now, obviously, the woman on the horse with flapping cape is a great visual, which is why they did it that way, but in real life, is that any way to approach someone whom you need to warn them about not doing something? By appearing so dramatically and chasing her younger self, all she succeeds in doing is scaring the woman away!

So the lesson here is, if you need to talk to someone,don't be all dramatic and threatening. Approach slowly, talk gently, and make sense!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Eddie Izzard in Legos: Darth Vader Cantina Scene

This is really, really funny.

This is another funny one.

Eddie Izzard as Sean Connery as James Bond in Legos

and just because it's really funny:

He looks like Tim Curry in this, and his Mutley is fantastic. Wish I had the nerve to laugh like that!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

What is this fascination with vampires?

I've never cared for horror movies.

At least...not the modern day ones. The classics from the 1930s - Bela Lugosi's Dracula, The Wolfman starring Claude Rains and Lon Chaney JR., and best of all the Mummy movies...yes, I love those.

But horror movies from the 1070s onward...nothing more than "torture porn" as one critic calls them.

Oh - and I also love the original Dark Shadows and had such a crush on Barnabas Collins aka Jonathan Frid.

But right now, interest in vampires has really taken off...I suppose it can date frm Anne Rice's Interview with the there's all kinds of books featuring Vampire detectives for the mystery lover, vampire societies, vampire men and women for the romance lover, and these Twilight Movies featuring the pouty-lipped main characters. And why is there all this fascination? Well, it's because vampires as portrayed today have so much power over people's bite and a woman is putty in their hands. Or, alternately, a woman bites a man and he's putty in her hands.

I think it all hearkens back to men's and women's insecurities. These days, it seems like no marriage or relationship is safe. Doesn't matter how handsome or beautiful you are...your significant other is going to cheat on you. But if you've got the power of a vampire...they're subservient to you and can't can trust them implicitly because they are in your power....

And of course for the young people, so insecure to begin with and afraid to approach someone of the opposite sex (do people like that exist any more, or are they so anxious to lose their virginity that they'll have sex with the first person who asks them regardless of whether they are attracted tothem or not?) But anyway, all that anxiety is removed if you're a vampire and have the power to make this or that person love you...

And unfortunatley, these days peer pressure is such that both boys and girls find it imperative to lose their virginity as fast as possible...if they don't they're dorks or dweebs and teased unmercifully by their peers...and of course if a teenage girl gets pregnant she's sooo proud that a boy's found her attractive enough to have sex with...little recking that he didn't care what she looked like, she'd have sex with him and that was all he cared about... and the fact that he probably doesn't even know her name, and she doesn't know his --- that little factoid doesn't seem to put a dent in the girl's pride....

On an even more distressing note...the Indianapolis Colt defense is being shredded by the Patriots...I sense a blowout in the offing! Damn!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Star Trek fans in Chicago in for a treat at Gurnee Blockbuster Video

Received this press release:


Monday, Nov. 16 Event to Feature DVD Screening, Prizes, Trivia Contests and Appearances by Members of Chicago Area Star Trek Club

AND NOTE Through Nov. 16, customers can pre-purchase “Star Trek” at any participating BLOCKBUSTER store and will receive two free movie rentals.

WHAT: Trekkies are invited to boldly go where no fan has
gone before – to a first-ever “Star Trek” celebration at the BLOCKBUSTER store at 6409 W. Grand Ave. in Gurnee. The store is hosting a midnight DVD release party on Monday, Nov. 16 for the box office hit “Star Trek” starring Chris Pine, giving Trekkies of all ages the chance to be among the first to rent or purchase the movie on DVD or Blu-ray.

Activities at the event include:

+ A 10 p.m. screening of “Star Trek”
+ The chance to win official copies of the latest “Star Trek” movie as well as “Star Trek” memorabilia, including theatrical posters, collectible comic books, Delta pins and more
+ Star Trek trivia contest, special appearances by LOOP Rock Girl Leah and the LOOP 97.9 radio street team and costumed members of USS Chicago NCC-75011 Star Trek Flagship.

WHEN: Monday, Nov. 16

+ 10 pm: Event begins with pre-release screening of “Star Trek”
+ Midnight: “Star Trek” DVD and Blu-ray available forrent or purchase while supplies last.

WHERE: BLOCKBUSTER, 6409 W. Grand Ave., Gurnee

HOW: Admission is free and open to the public.

OFFERING: “Star Trek” will be available for rent or purchase while supplies last at participating BLOCKBUSTER stores and online at on the movie’s nationwide release date of Tuesday, Nov. 17. In addition to the single-disc DVD ($19.99), BLOCKBUSTER will be offering two special editions: a two-disc DVD version ($24.99) and a three-disc Blu-ray version ($29.99), both of which include digital copies of the movie, added special features and free trial games.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Sideshow Toy Is Such A Rip Off!

Several months ago, I bought the Iron Man movie when it came out, complete with bust and $50 gift card, which was supposed to be able to be used at Sideshow Collectibles.

So I go to their website, and the only thing I could find that you could buy for $50, was these Little Big Heads of the Pirates of the Caribbean characters. So I choose the complete set, try to use my gift card, and find out that only 2 of the 5 characters can be purchased using the gift card. And the others were $9 a piece.

So I cancelled that order.

Now, I find a Captain Hook bust that I want, and its $75, and I apply my gift card, and instead of reducing the bill by $50, it reduces it by $37. Seems I lost out on $13 worth, because when you cancel an order (as I had done with those Little Big Heads), you don't get the money put back on your gift card! So it is, basically, stolen!

So the whole thing was a rip off from beginning to end.

I then found a book that was for sale for $29.99 and gift card eligible. So I figure, well, I've got $37 on the card, so that will pay for postage, too, and I'll be able to use up most of the card, and who cares about a couple of dollars?

But, not so. The gift card doesn't apply to postage and handling. So I can use $29.99 of my $37, pay $7, and have $7 unusuable still left on the gift card.

This really, really annoys me.

The thing with gift cards also is that you can only use them on a limited number of things. Which was one reason why I thought it would be great to get that Captain Hook for only $25, plus shipping and handling. But to have to pay $ just really ticks me off.

I'd sell the gift card on ebay if I could...unfortunately it's already registered in my name so that's not going to work.... unless someone wants to email me at and have me buy something for them that is gift card eligible, and will send me the entire funds before I actually make the purchase....I'll "sell" it for $20, so you'll save $17 on the deal....

The card expires December 31, 2009.

Monday, November 09, 2009

The Only Christmas Carol You Ever Need to See

I just got back from Jim Carrey's A Christmas Carol, and I was disappointed with it. Oh, the animation was fantastic, except the hyper-realism of the characters was a bit unpleasant - perhaps because they were so close to the actors they were based on but not good enough. Colin Firth as Scrooge's nephew was particularly creepy looking, and I have to admit I thought he did a poor job reading his lines.

1970's Scrooge, a musical starring Albert Finney, is my favorite version of A Christmas Carol. It's got everything. The backstory of Scrooge being a money lender (with the I Hate People song), a sense of humor, a real British actor (not that Carrey's English accent(s) were bad, but since I knew he wasn't British...

ANd I Like Life, by Kenneth More. Another great song!

Friday, November 06, 2009

Law and Order Really Irritates Me Sometimes...

The episode is Doped. It's a "ripped from the headlines" story. A few months ago some poor woman drove the wrong way down a highway, drove headlong into another car, killed herself, and the people in the other car. Supposedly she was drunk, although family and friends said she never touched alcohol. And of course if it isn't bad enought that the husband has lost his wife and I think one or more of their kids, the family of the people who died in the other car filed a lawsuit against him, trying to gouge him and his insurance company for all he's worth. (Apparently, if TV commercials are to be believed, people can be sued for more money than they are covered for in their insurance, and if the person has wealthy parents, their stuff can be taken away, too. )

In any event, of course in the Law and Order version, the woman was deliberately doped, to cause the crash, to kill her. Heck, it may have been that way in real life, too. But in any event, kind of a sick thing to make into a TV episode.

Of course, Law and Order quite frequently does these ripped from the headlines stories. They did one about the woman who ran over a homeless person, who was impaled through her windshield, and lived in her garage for two days until he died. Then she and a few friends dumped his body...but they were caught and she's now doing time. In real life, this was a Hispanic woman, in the TV episode, of course it was a white woman. And the "twist" of course was that in the episode, the guy was actually dying of a beating, the woman hadn't killed him even though he'd been in her car windshield without her trying to help him, so she gets off with a warning for "concealing evidence."

(Not that white folk aren't capable of committing heinous crimes...but whenever Law and Order does these types of episodes, typically the race in the ep is always white, regardless of what the real race of the person in real life was. Little bit of political correctness there.)