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Archive for the category “science fiction”

Benson, Arizona

Dan O’Bannon passed away on Thursday.  To be honest  I only saw one and only one movie of his  – Dark Star .  The vague memory I have of him and the movie are pleasant and fun and remind me of a time when film making was a little more honest, rough around the edges and not based solely on CGI technology (are you listening Mr. Cameron?).  If you know what I’m talking about, acquaint yourself with the man, his work, and Dark Star, the theme song of which catapulted Benson, Arizona into cinematic history:

I’ve been vulcanized!

This is it!  Now I too can be a Vulcan … perhaps a slightly manly Vulcan, but a Vulcan just the same (I couldn’t find a female Vulcan).

(I had the jpeg here but it was even creeping me out – so I took it down.)

Its enough to make my geeky heart giddy.  I kind of like the hairstyle – it takes about 20 years off my age doncha think?   Or maybe its the ears that do it…. You can vulcanize yourself too – just follow the link below for the full clip (with audio) and then vulcanize yourself and send me a copy!


Bob May, Robot and other ramblings…

Bob May passed away this week.  Who was Bob May?  Well, to those of my generation, he was “Robot.”  Robot was young Will’s faithful companion.  Robot kept a watchful eye over Dr. Smith’s machinations.  And Robot’s frenzied arm waving warned of “Danger, danger Will Robinson!”  Robot was one of my favorites – I have a photograph of myself and Robot from one of Mr. Ackerman’s sci-fi conventions which I treasure and I have a little toy model of Robot that waves his arms around and warns “Danger, danger Will Robinson.”  My brother has one too –  Robot made an impression on both our lives.  While the voice of Robot was played by Dick Tufeld, Bob May was the man in the suit who waved the arms around and extended his bubble head and rolled dutifully behind Will and Dr. Smith. I think Mr. May and Mr. Tufeld were equally responsible for giving Robot his unique charm.  Here’s a link to an article about Bob May: Lost in Space.

I looked and looked for a suitable clip of Robot from Lost in Space and could find nothing that I liked or that featured Robot properly.  So if you’re interested in strolling down memory lane here is a link where you can watch a full episode:  Lost in Space  

Warning!  Warning! – I found it difficult to watch the whole episode of Lost in Space.  This may be something best left to memory.  Although it does stand up better than Abbott and Costello’s Jack and the Beanstalk – I had such great memories of that movie as a child and when I watched as an adult, blech, it was horrible.  Please note I am not besmirching Abbott and Costello – they produced some very, very funny films that will still make me laugh but uh… not Jack and the Beanstalk…..  Edmundo, Susana, my brother and myself used to sit and laugh ourselves silly with watching Abbot and Costello.  Hmm, I wonder where Edmundo and Susana are now… Ooops…  Sorry I seemed to have rambled myself away from the subject matter at hand… I’m going to just go away now mumbling to myself before I start reminiscing about how great the Three Stooges were …. nyuk, nyuk, nyuk …. (walks quietly away into the sunset with arm around Robot….)

The Night I Held Hands with Uncle Forry

Okay, technically I think it was mid to late afternoon but yes, he held my hand for a little bit while we sat in the back of a meeting room in a Baltimore hotel watching “The Body Snatchers.”   (I think it was a Fanex – but I’m a bit hazy as to the year – probably around 1996?) That same hand that held mine briefly had shaken the hand of Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi and Ray Bradbury and Isaac Asimov.  I joked with a friend that I should have taken the opportunity to kiss his hand and a la Curly, from the Three Stooges and gnaw off his Scarab Ring (an original prop from Karloff’s The Mummy).  It was an honor to sit next to Forrest J. Ackerman.

 I also had the privilege of touring the Ackermansion many years ago when his collection was intact – I cannot begin to describe the amount of literary and cinematic history he had squirrelled away in every corner of his house.  Amazing.

I found out today that he had passed away.  If you don’t know who Forrest J. Ackerman was – please read this article:  Forrest Ackerman

He is the reason that “fandom” in its many forms from Dr. Who to Harry Potter to Firefly exists today.  Uncle Forry is the reason Steven Spielberg and Joe Dante and Stephen King are who they are.  We all owe him a deep debt of gratitude.  Thank goodness that  Amazing Stories popped off the news stand and told him “Take me home little boy.” 

We all will miss you Mr. Ackerman.

Nerd alert: Star Wars Personality Test

Well, I took the Star Wars Personality test… apparently, I’m no Princess Leia (altho’ only by one point) and thank god I’m not that annoying C3P0 but I am deeply disturbed by the fact that Jar-Jar even showed up at all (see below).  All in all I’m pretty happy with the results – R2-D2 was fun, got to fly with Luke and really saved the day on more than one occasion.  This quote is from the Wookipediea (yes that’s right, the Wookipedia):

When asked in an interview, “Is there a character you are going to miss?” George Lucas replied, “Well, R2-D2, because he’s the hero of the whole thing. He’s the one that always comes through and saves everybody. I’d like to have a pal like that that would come and save me once in a while.”

To quote a certain caterpillar* in Alice in Wonderland…”Whooooo are youuuuuuu?”  Take the test – link is at the bottom and let me know (unless you come up Darth Vader – then I’d really prefer not to know)

Your results:
You are R2-D2

Princess Leia
Obi-Wan Kenobi
Luke Skywalker
Qui-Gon Jinn
Han Solo
Jar Jar Binks
What you lack in height
and communication skills,
you make up for in industriousness,
technical know-how and being there
when others need you most.    

(This list displays the top 10 results out of a possible 21 characters)

Click here to take the Star Wars Personality Test


*The IMDB has Alan Rickman signed on to portray the caterpillar in Tim Burton’s version of Alice in Wonderland… here take a look: Alice.

Watch the skies…. please?

From a CNN story

On Monday night, an asteroid that may be the size of a car will likely burn up in the atmosphere over northeastern Africa, according to the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. But the planet is not in peril. The asteroid, spotted by an Arizona observatory only Monday afternoon, will burn up in the upper atmosphere at about 10:46 p.m. ET (2:46 a.m. GMT).

…. We want to stress that this object is not a threat,” said Dr. Timothy Spahr, director of the International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center. “We’re excited since this is the first time we have issued a prediction that an object will enter Earth’s atmosphere.”

There are a few things I don’t like in this story:

1.  I don’t like how many times words such as “likely,” “maybe,” “could” and “may” appear – it gives me the impression they’re just guessing.  I understand these kind of predictions aren’t exact but it gives me an uneasy feeling about their abilities to calculate just how innocuous this asteroid will be.

2.  I don’t like the fact that an asteroid the size of car was only spotted hours before it was due to make its entry into our atmosphere.  Kudos to our Arizona observatory for spotting it but shouldn’t someone have seen it before?  Are we keeping an eye out for stray objects?  How will we have time to build our huge rocketship so we can leave the planet before the asteroid hits?  Dang – I can see the movie in my mind but I can’t remember what it is – its an old one, black and white, possible early fifties, maybe even late forties.  Earth is about to be destroyed and they’re building a rocketship – its a classic and has a great looking rocketship but I can’t remember the name of the movie. I’ll update if I remember or some one would be so kind to leave a comment as to what the movie is.

3.  Yes.  I understand — the planet is not in peril and you’re excited because this will be the FIRST TIME you have issued a prediction that an object will enter the atmosphere.  First time!!  I wished they hadn’t mentioned that.

Anyway, I’d like a little bit more watching the skies for large objects hurtling at us and less playing around with particle colliders from you scientist types out there.

What next – a remake of Citizen Kane starring Will Ferrell?

Sacrilege! I just saw a preview for the remake of “The Day the Earth Stood Still.”  I know I should reserve judgment until I  see the film but I’ve already formed an unfavorable opinion.  As far as I can tell, the original concept of The Day the Earth Stood Still (I’m going to abbreviate it to TDTESS just cause that’s a lot to keep typing and I’m lazy) has been bastardized.  The original movie was about peace, nonviolence and creating change without violence.  In the preview I saw, Keanu Reeves hurt more people than Michael Rennie did in all of the original TDTESS.  There was destruction when the saucer landed, destruction around Keanu, destruction of buildings, fire walls, trucks disintegrating, people scrambling, collapsing, etc.  Why are they calling it The Day the Earth Stood Still – it should have been called The Day We Used As Many Special Effects as We Could Get Our Hands On to Make As Much Money as We Could.  The point of the original was a quiet threat, a show of force that was awe-inspiring but hurt now one – the potential for destruction was there but it was restrained and Earth ultimately had to make the choice (I’m trying to be vague just in case there is someone who has not seen the movie in which case please see the original first).  And why choose Keanu Reeves to play the lead?  Peter Weller would have been such a better choice – he has that quietness with intelligence that is necessary for the role (not that I’m saying Mr. Reeves is not intelligent but he can come across as rather vacant-looking).  I shudder to think what they’ve done to Gort!  I know, I know – I’m jumping to conclusions without having seen the film but I’m not sure I’m going to be able to bring myself to see the film.  Poor Robert Wise must be spinning wherever he may be.

Is this what happened to the Krell?

Valerio Mezzanotti for The New York Times

I assume everyone has heard about the experiment that was started up today in Switzerland — they’re trying to recreate the Big Bang in miniature form.   Its been on all the news programs and smiley faced anchors laugh it up about how this may be the end for all of us.  The switch was thrown on Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world’s largest particle accelerator in an effort to find/create Higgs boson, sometimes dubbed the “God particle” (that in and of itself sounds like the plot of a bad sci-fi movie).  Check this link out where the particles are explained Higgs Boson and this link that explains the Large Hadron Collider experiment –LHC.  According to the Wikipedia article one of the many questions they hope to find answers to with this experiment is  — Are there extra dimensions, as predicted by various models inspired by string theory, and can we “see” them.   WHAT?  What!!!  I’m having flashbacks to The Adventures of Buckaroo Bonzai Across the 8th Dimension.  Maybe Dr. Lizardo wasn’t wrong, monkey boy! (This is another movie you – whoever you maybe – should check out if you’ve never had the pleasure of seeing it.)

Well, as it turns out, there really is the hypothetical potential of creating mini black holes that could consume the earth from the inside out.  From what I’ve read it is just a very few physicists who say a tiny potential is there to destroy our planet and all of us along with it.  Uhm, EXCUSE ME, shouldn’t we have been consulted about this?  “We” being the people of the earth?   Now granted, it is a very small, tiny, wee, infintisimal possibility that an itsy-bitsy black hole will be created and suck us all into non-existence but, still in the future, I’d like to be consulted on things like this.  

I particularly like this quote from an article from March, 2008, by Dennis Overbye in the New York Times,

Dr. Arkani-Hamedsaidconcerning worries about the death of the Earth or universe, “Neither has any merit.” He pointed out that because of the dice-throwing nature of quantum physics, there was some probability of almost anything happening. There is some minuscule probability, he said, “the Large Hadron Collider might make dragons that might eat us up.” 

Its nice to know scientists have a sense of whimsy about these things.

By the way, the title is yet another reference to Forbidden Planet, just in case you were wondering…  I just wish I could get that darn R.E.M. song out of my head…

Monsters from the id?

Hello – I guess either the clue was too obscure or really I have insufficient traffic to support a quiz on the blog (see previous post).  “Monsters from the id” was the reference and it is from the classic sci-fi movie Forbidden Planet starring Leslie Nielsen.  It is the movie that made Robbie the Robot the star he is today.  You know Robbie….and everyone should be familiar with Forbidden Planet!  

It was based on Shakespeare’s The Tempest.  I highly recommend you buy it or rent – watch the movie.  Forbidden Planet is an excellent example of 1950’s sci-fi films.  The story is excellent, the art work is superb and it is second only, in my humble opinion, to The Day the Earth Stood Still.  (They are making a remake of this classic with Keanu that is supposed to come out some time this year – the idea of remaking this classic with Keanu is the equivalent of remaking Citizen Kane starring Jack Black – an atrocity).  Anyway, that was the reference.  I’ll try one of these quizzee things again in the future if there’s any interest.

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