Archive for May 2014

It’s the Future – Were You There?   2 comments

For the heck of it, I took a random episode of Space: 1999  and watched it again; I’ve included the link above.  That’s what I love about YouTube; it’s such a marvelous way to visit the past’s recollections about the future.  All sorts of great offerings are posted there and I’ve spent many an hour lingering over its pages.

As it turns out, the Dorcons are digging around in Maya’s brain.  She has what they don’t.  Or, rather, she has the last of what those pesky Dorcons need.  See?  Here we are with the brain again.  As I had mentioned in a previous post, those mind matters sure come up often, because people desperately need to control what they can’t have.  I’m figuring they couldn’t come up with their own supply of artificial intelligence, provided from their own biological source that they grew in some distant lab, harvesting other’s brains to reconstruct and contort for their own wicked purposes.  If a society has to rely on one person to keep them ticking, when that person dies (which was inevitable), what next?

So here I sit, in 2014, looking back at the future in 1999.  Odd.  I find myself wondering if this is what I have to look forward to?  I ask that question every time I check out the future.  Not mine, of course, that’s kind of nebulous at the moment (whose isn’t?).  There’s just so many options.

Take, for instance, a simple object like computers.  I love the computer in Cloud Atlas.  How about District 9?  Even Iron Man.  Notice how fluid and oddly shaped the displays are, how one can pluck from the air directives and commands, or plain information?

I’m kind of a fan of the computer in Max Headroom (the TV show) when floppy disks were those 3.25″ and that was considered the cat’s pajamas.  Well, that was kind of a deconstructionist future, so I think it’s kind of valid today as back in the 1980s when it first broadcast.  Brilliant show.

If you happen to watch the above episode of Space: 1999, you’ll see a more practical, button-pushing kind of keyboard/monitor setup.  Similar TV shows also relied on the same technology, and if you dare to watch early episodes of Star Trek, you’ll see the most crude of crude.  Still, those systems got them where they wanted to go, so they couldn’t have been all that bad.

Once in a while, there is some crossover.  If one compares the hand mechanics to operate the computer/typing in Michael Palin’s office from the Terry Gilliam masterpiece Brazil  to the hand mechanics in the scene in Children of Men where Clive Owen sees his nephew play a computer came as he asks his brother for a favor, they’re pretty similar.

Anyway, it’s fun to see what’s going on out there in the future.  Gives us something all to remember.



Summer Camp Sci-Fi, or Making a iPad Blockbuster   Leave a comment

Each summer at the museum where I work, I teach kids how to make a movie.  Part of the museum’s mission is early films, since D.W. Griffith shot 17 films in the area, so I take advantage of that and work in modern-day approaches to that medium.

With the use of an iPad or iPhone and the simple iMovie app, I’ve taught kids how to build a world of their own creation.  Starting with simple concepts, I lead future DWGs through the process of creating a plot, characters, script, storyboard and then the final product.

My first shot at this was a few summers ago.  I only had three kids sign up for it, but man, I couldn’t have asked for three better kids.  Two boys, one girl, all aged 11.  All shy at first, later on they became best buddies and at the end, total hams.

“So, what’s a good idea for a story?” I ask.

All three exchange looks but no plot lines.

“C’mon.  Someone’s got to have something floating around,” I say.  “Toss out anything that comes to mind.”

“Cops…and doughnuts, ” said one.

“Oh, yeah, and murder,” said another.

“Good, good…how can we bring that together?” I ask.

After a thoughtful pause, the third camper blurts, “I know!  There’s this cop, see, and he’s dead, holding a doughnut and these two other cops find him floating in a river.  When they use their cell phone to call for help, they turn into aliens.  They need doughnuts to stay alive!”

BINGO!  The plot falls into place easily.  Pretty soon, I can’t stop any of them from reckless creation.  The pages of the scrip fly out of the printer, the scenes are all crafted on the storyboards and before you can say “Oscar!” the shooting begins.

Now, we don’t have a back lot at the museum but we do have a lot of room.  The kids used all of it to hash out one of the most surrealistic films I’ve ever seen.  I prefer to consider it in the Deconstructionist genre…or Deconstructionist Sci-Fi, to be specific.

Some of the sound fades in and out (the kids were laughing too much holding the iPad and covered the mike or just didn’t pay attention to sound levels), I think there’s a finger over the lens at one point and there’s some real broad humor in it, but for a first effort, it was a blast.  The kids and I never had so much fun doing anything.  I couldn’t wait to get to work every day, and when camp was finished, I was totally sad.

Regrettably, I’ve not seen them since, but I can visit them anytime on YouTube.

Want to see what we did?

Here’s a trailer they made too, but it has little to do with the film

I gotta warn ya, this is pretty scary stuff…well, kind of…maybe…

I can’t wait for this August and the next summer camp I teach.  I wonder what those kids are going to dream up this time…





Posted May 15, 2014 by seleneymoon in Aliens, Sci-Fi Movies, science fiction

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Steampunk Scorcher   Leave a comment


Do yourselves all a favor: click on the link below to read the utterly gripping tale of Californian adventures of long ago, complete with colorful characters and thrills to spare.  Honest.

Okay, maybe this isn’t a true scorcher, but it’s a pretty big one, folks!  This nickel thriller dates from August 1893 and, I got to tell ya, it kept me on the edge of my seat.  Out of curiosity?  Out of wonder?  Out of ideas?

Nah, nothing like that.

Well, I can’t take complete credit for this find.  I was trolling around io9 one afternoon reading some of the blogs posted there and I came across this.  Some thoughtful contributor added it to an already existing post in the comments section – forgive me if I can’t remember who – and posted just the picture.  Unable to rest upon sight of this wondrous creature, I Google-imaged matched it and came up with the story behind the picture.

I mean, who wouldn’t want to read a story about a gentleman named “Electric Bob”?  That moniker brings to mind the sort of guy who came with all the drugs to the party in the 1960s and got people all charged up.  Their acid hallucinations resulted in a giant shooting ostrich.

If nothing else, this certainly is creative.  What must have passed through the author Robert T. Toombs to come up with such an idea?  Perhaps it was the allure of electricity, still a fairly new phenomena in the home and elsewhere, yet exotic enough to warrant the attention of readers.  “Electric Bob” sounds as if he’s harnessed the shocking truth behind the power, and he’s enlisted the help of a turn of the 19th Century Trojan horse to off the bad guys.  Obviously there’s murder and mayhem.  The story’s only about 14 pages long, though it’s tiny print.  Still, I promise you’ll get a kick out of it.  I did.



Mind Matters   Leave a comment

A great deal of what occurs in the world of science fiction involves the mind and/or brain.  Strange forces, and not necessarily alien, want to control others thoughts, expressions, decision making capabilities, functions and more.

Why is that?

Well, for starters, the brain/mind is who we are.  What we see.  What we do.  It governs our perception of the world and how those react towards us.  It goes without saying that a brain controlled is a person conquered.

Mind control is like getting the keys to the kingdom.  Figure out how to rob one’s senses and you have the entire population cornered.

Take, for instance, Invasion of the Body Snatchers or its modern update, The Invasion.  A pod of sorts lodged itself to a human form and, long story short, assumed that person’s entire being except for its soul.  Seemingly, the soul was destroyed in the process and everyone was pretty much like the women in The Stepford Wives.  In that film, the women were duplicated via robot/android.  Then it’s assumed everyone was bumped off and buried anonymously in a hidden grave deep in the Connecticut woods.

In A Clockwork Orange, our hero Malcolm McDowell has a rather questionable attitude when it comes to women, violence and society in general.  It’s a pretty simple fix when he’s subjected to the Ludivico Technique.  After that, the urge to vomit pretty much takes over when he’s starting to explore those negative tendencies.  If that were me, the idea of having my eyelids pinned open would be enough to gross me out and get me to never do anything evil again.

Oh, let’s not forget the classic Jedi Mind Trick, either.  It’s one way Luke Skywalker invites himself in for a visit our revolting friend Jabba the Hut.  Come to think of it, just by simple virtue of being a Jedi all that is familiar to your being is a mind trick.

The mind is a mystery.  We all have one, but who knows what’s in it?  How many times have you said, “What are you thinking?” Haven’t you ever taken your fist and rapped it on your brain, or that idiot friend of yours and said, “Dude, are you nuts?  What happened to your brain?”  Yet, we still wonder what occurs during the thought process, what makes us arrive at the decisions we so nimbly or slowly do.  Our influences, our impressions, our decision to eat yet another piece of food that will stuff us silly all comes from that thick grey matter residing in our skull.  Is it a machine?  Is it will?  Is it hope and dreams?

It’s a thought worth thinking about.

Aliens, Mad as Hell   Leave a comment


I’ve come to notice that one thing many aliens have in common:  they’re angry.


Now, I’m not talking all sci-fi films or TV series.  In fact, some are really quite friendly and helpful.  Paul, Alf and E.T. made good friends and lifelong connections with their earthling counterparts.  And a quick look at Star Trek/Wars/Gate will tell you that there’s a bounty of otherworldly types just itching to make nice with us inferiors.

But then again, how many baddies have you come to enjoy over the years?

Let’s take, for example, the Borg.  They’re a pretty economical lot.  If you ask me, they become part of a collective, kind of like communism in its most evil form twinned with just plain communes.  They readily adapt to any situation, yet they clearly enjoy being together.  One could argue it’s the system making them relate to each other so well, but they’re so anxious to turn complete strangers into buddies that they readily adapt the most innocent of bystanders, hook them up to machine-like apparatus and get them angry enough to kill anyone the collective doesn’t like.


Now, here’s what I’m talking about:  Mars Attacks!

These guys made no pretensions, minced no Ack! Ack! to their sworn enemies on Earth.  All they knew is that they looked humble and willing for about twenty seconds, let us earthlings make fools of ourselves and then wreaked utter destruction.  Heck, they even brought down Jack Nicholson!  Yet it was a simple yodel that brought them to their knees and made their gooey green brains blow up like bubble gum in a microwave.  Don’t tell me you didn’t get the parallel between that and germs in War of the Worlds.

Yet, for all the seeming variety out there, we keep coming back to this stereotype:


Now, this guy’s pretty cool and the star of his own film, Paul.  But really, he is indicative of the stereotype.  If anyone says they’ve seen someone that didn’t look like they belonged here on Earth, went finger-pointing up a section of the anatomy not commonly known for engaging positive thoughts, and generally dug around in someone’s insides uninvited, it would be similar to the person/thing above.

I’m asking: where did this image come from?  Where did it originate?  Is this the one imprinted in our brains that makes us react when we think we’ve seen something that doesn’t quite belong to our planet?  Is this vision of an alien comforting to us, as in if we see something just like this, we’ll know to run (if we can)?

Will it angry with us?

Will be have the courage to ask why?

Will it accept a box of chocolates and a bouquet of flowers to kiss and make up?

But first, I’d like to know what it is that we did in the first place…



Star Wars!   Leave a comment



So.  You knew it had to happen.  Disney steps into the picture et voila! Yet another film squeezed from the franchise.  It’s all over the internet, all over the place in the media and if people still gathered around water coolers, the talk would be rife with what’s going on in that faraway galaxy a long time ago.

“Star Wars” is more than just a movie.  It’s a way of life.

Its lingo has insinuated itself into our vocabulary.  Its characters are our buddies.  And come on, who hasn’t wanted to be Darth Vader?  Who hasn’t sounded like him during cold season?  There are people who get into fistfights over what made more of an impact in our culture:  “Star Wars” or “Star Trek” (My answer?  Both have).

I’m a purist when it comes to my “Star Wars.”  I prefer the unadulterated version, the one I went nuts over in high school.  Twenty-something years later when I sat down in the movies to watch the “updated” version, my friends and I, all dedicated “SW” fans, were at first fascinated, then puzzled at the unnecessary add-ons meant to enhance the film.  They didn’t.

Especially outrageous was adding to the very end the new and improved Anakin Skywalker, the non-actor Hayden Christensen.   Not that the other guy really brought a lot to the role (we just see his cauliflower head at the end), but he pretty much matched the person you saw.  HC bears absolutely no resemblance to Darth as he aged.  I mean, they didn’t change how Yoda looked, did they?

It is indeed interesting that the original trio of superstars are going to have an actual role.  How could they not be included?  While no one expects Carrie Fisher to roam around in a skimpy Jabba-Jawdropper skirt and bra, I sure hope they give her a position of importance.  That goes for Han Solo, too.  Does anyone think they got married?  Had kids?  Pay a mortgage or deal with unruly teenagers with a drug habit?  Or maybe neither of their kids turned out to be a Jedi, inheriting Solo’s traits.  Sure, he redeemed himself in the end, but he started off as a ne’er do well in compromising circumstances.

However, I’m hoping everyone cheers for the real hero in this drama, Mark Hamill.  He paid a big price to be Luke.  He’s every bit of a good actor as the rest of the crew, yet drew the short stick.  Forever stereotyped, he developed the Richard Thomas syndrome, forever being attached to a role that everyone loved and no one forgot (RT was John Boy Walton, remember?).  Carrie Fisher had a bunch of good roles and went on to become a very respected script doctor.  Harrison Ford played yet another franchise character and despite that, still took on many roles, some sci-fi based, others not.  Why did Mark get left out in the cold?  Did he suffer from Darth’s curse?

Still, I know I’ll be one of those ticket holders standing patiently in line, waiting my turn to see just exactly what “Star Wars VII” has to offer.  No, I won’t camp out and swap war stories with the rest of the geeks in line.  I will, however, cheer my head off watching the iconic logo flash on the screen to the familiar theme, and scan the storyline roll, while in the back of my head I’ll wonder: what ever happened to Billy Dee Williams?

Posted May 1, 2014 by seleneymoon in science fiction, Star Wars

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