Archive for the ‘Sci-Fi TV Shows’ Category

Many Happy Returns of the Day   Leave a comment

rocket-happy-birthday

A birthday cake of dubious function and flavor

Tomorrow is my birthday. Amazing how they creep up on you. It’s not like I wasn’t prepared or anything; February 16 seems to come every year, at least once. And sure, I’d like a cake like the one pictured above, although I think I’d stand a fair distance from it, should the attractive brunette choose to light it.

I’ve heard the expression, “Many happy returns of the day” said to me on my birthday. It sounds really nice, if you ask me. But what exactly is getting or being returned here? I did a little investigation, and here’s what I came up with:

  1. The Earth has gone around one time and arrived at approximately the same place as it did a year ago, so made a return.
  2. It’s the name of numerous television show episodes, films and songs.
  3. One’s birthday will be full of happiness and joy, necessitating a wonderful return on the “investment” of a birthday.
  4. As found in Wikipedia’s entry for the phrase:

    …by Lady Newdigate in a letter written in 1789 (and published in Newdigate-Newdegate Cheverels in 1898)[1]

    “Many happy returns of þe day to us my Dr Love”

    The letter was written in London on the 31st of May 1789 by Hester Margaretta, Lady Newdigate to her husband, Sir Roger Newdigate, 5th Baronet, and refers to a wish for their wedding day.

  5. Winnie-the-Pooh preferred using this greeting as he wished his friends a happy birthday.

Now, I’m not one of those who gets all teary-eyed when I’ve gained an extra year or two. I mean, I can’t help it, nor can anyone. I get more upset with circumstances surrounding my life than the actual years marking its passage.

But there is something I can do, and that’s celebrate. It’s an abbreviated vacation from all the woes, sufferings and stupidity that seem to fill my life these days, and it’s an excellent excuse to eat all of the things I shouldn’t be eating (except on Christmas, Thanksgiving, Halloween, National Potato Day, etc.). Plus, I get to hang with my friends and complain about things in general, all while overindulging.

So what will I do on my birthday? Get up, go to the gym, continue working on my second novel, eat, get dressed, go out, eat, have some fun, eat cake, drink and otherwise be merry.

Life is rough. Why make it any harder by not celebrating a birthday?

 

A Ticket To Heartbreak and Heaven   Leave a comment

2016 NY ComicCon

I got excited when the yearly reminder to sign up for October’s NY Comic Con appeared in my inbox. For years, I swore I’d love to attend but life always interfered somehow: had to work and couldn’t get off, or something was up with the kid, or after all the bills got paid, the till’s empty and so were my pockets.

This year, however, was different. The stars aligned in my favor. For once.

Upon receiving the notice I needed to fill in my fan verification form, a method of preregistration, I counted the days until the site opened. As one can imagine, in years past, tickets to this event were hotter than asphalt in Florida on an August afternoon, and acquiring them often required a Ferengi’s ability to pilfer, smuggle and trade. So who can blame the folks at NYCC to try a new method of ticket selling so that anyone who wanted to attend actually could…legitimately?

Once the Fan Verification site went live, I filled in my name, my husband’s name and my son’s. It asked for email addresses. Since I was treating the family for tickets, I put my own email in all three. I’ve purchased tickets for various and sundry trade shows in the same manner, so why should this be any different?

Several days later, I received a notice that tickets were now open for sale for verified fans. After waiting in an electronic queue for well over an hour (lucky I hit the button right as it came live!), I purchased three tickets and was instructed that I’d need to go to another site to complete the sale. I got excited. Not only was my family going, I planned to surprise my son with his ticket, since the event takes place right before his birthday.

As I opened the site’s page to complete the sale, I noticed my email address went in on my designated field, but not on my husband’s or son’s. Strange, I thought, and went to read up on what I might be doing wrong. As it turned out, each person needs his or her own email address. What? Aren’t I buying the tickets? How come? From NYCC’s twitter feed, I quickly learned that many boyfriends, girlfriends, uncles, aunts and cosplay girls and boys believed as I did.

Suddenly, we were all shut out of living our dream. No 2016 NY ComicCon for us.

I called. The helpful and polite person on the other end verified what in my heart I realized was true: every ticket needs its own email address. If not, we’re very sorry, but we have to refund your money.

First, I wanted to cry.

Then scream.

Then kick myself for not following directions the way I should.

Enthusiasm and past Javitz Center purchasing experiences clouded my decision-making for this event. I hated myself for not following the directions carefully, but then again, why shouldn’t one person be able to buy a couple of tickets? It comes down to a factor more than just hoping to surprise someone with a nice treat: fraud. This convention is so rife with people elbowing out the legit crowd with overpriced scalped tickets, the powers that be decided to try another way.

Unfortunately, there were an awful lot of people like me, and all of us, including me, let NY ComicCon folks know how devastated we all were. All we wanted was a good time, fanning it up with our ilk, grabbing autographs and a pile of merch to take home and savor.

Yet, inside of me, a gut feeling told me to hang on. Just wait, it said, there’s going to be good new yet…

And there was.

Out of the blue, I received a nice, polite email from NY ComicCon. Apparently, they heard us. Chose to do the right thing. Gave us a second chance.

We had a brief window to verify the fans we wanted to purchase tickets for, only 24 hours, but that was more than enough time. I scrambled online and fan verified both my husband and kid. Twenty-four hours after that, I purchased tickets for all three of us.

My heartbreak turned out to be a ticket to heaven. Now we’re all going!

Hope to see you there.

Women and Science Fiction   Leave a comment

Astronaut Female

See, when I think of women in science fiction stories, the above picture represents how I’d portray a character. She’s perhaps a little idealized, but still, she’s clearly an astronaut representing America. She’s brave. Tough. Not gonna take it. And she’s about to figure it all out, get behind the situation and blow it to pieces.

But mostly, I see an awful lot of images that fall in line with this:

Planet Stories

Or this:

Women

Credit: Concept Central

Either they’re helpless, scantily clad women or bitches with cleavage or melons for breasts. Sure, these space women are tough, gonna fight you, gonna kill you dead, if some guy doesn’t bring ’em down first and/or tame ’em into submission.

Okay, okay, I know what you’re thinking. The vast majority of sci-fi lovers are males. Aren’t these the kids who yank on those joysticks and bang into VR mode so they can get a piece of action where there’s no real hope for any?

Well, I’d hate to be the bearer of bad news, but just as many ladies are latching onto the genre and things are pretty much evening out. Both sexes are totally into gaming now, with females catching up to males. Any visit to ComicCon will show you that, too, although lots of the female attendees still dress up in Princess Leia costumes from “Return of the Jedi”, and similar.

I belong to this club:

Geek Girls

This is actually a calendar cover from 2013 (sorry, I couldn’t find an active link!)

We women are just a bunch of shameless, crazy geeks, not really beholden to any perfect idea except the one that says we have to be totally weird and strange. We might not be able to carry off the latest fashions with aplomb, but we can certainly tell you about SpaceX and Goddard and JPL. Why? Because that’s something that actually matters.

Though we might not agree with the sexist and doomed portrayal of women in Game of Thrones, we follow the story religiously. Anything from Star Trek (every series) to Star Wars (every episode, plus spinoffs), too.

And so on.

Here’s something most people either didn’t realize or forget: a woman invented science fiction. Do you know who that might be? Take a guess:

mshelley

Can’t figure it out? She created one of the most enduring stories and characters of all time:

frankenstein

The Monster

That’s right – Mary Shelley and “Frankenstein.” Published in 1818, the story of a doctor bent on creating life from death has been told in countless ways. Its most notorious character, The Monster, has become synonymous with the title of the book and Dr. Frankenstein.

How many of you saw this movie and felt your heart race nonstop? Or…read the book?

the-children-of-men

Raise your hand if you knew the author’s name…aka Phyllis Dorothy James, Baroness James of Holland Park, OBE, FRSA, FRSL – from the British House of Lords, a Peer. Yup!

I could continue on and talk about J.K. Rowling, Suzanne Collins, Margaret Atwood…but you get the idea.

So…if you’re looking for a great read by a female sci-fi writer, or a writer of any sex, please visit Best Sci-fi Books. It’s a great website to find a great read.

Unconventional Mothers   2 comments

alien-bursting-from-stomach

Surprise!

What mother doesn’t enjoy a wonderful surprise on Mother’s Day? And with today’s fluid definition of genders, mothers come in all shapes and sizes. So here’s my brief tribute to what motherhood might mean, in modernspeak.

 

trouble-with-tribbles

 

While our friend Captain James T. Kirk certainly wasn’t what I’d consider a motherly figure, he sure knew his way around reproduction, given the amount of female alien types he seemed to pick up and hit on. So it’s completely fitting that he’s burdened with a whole piles of lovable, adorable tribbles, who seemed to have taken a real shine to him. They kind of popped up all over the place in the space ship, giving rabbits a run for the money. Since Kirk was in charge of the ship, he fostered an environment for motherhood, since these things were determined to have been born pregnant.

 

 

Enemy Mine Baby

How about Lou Gosset, Jr. playing a reptilian Jeriba, of the Drac people, an asexual race. Jerboa gave birth and then died, leaving an alien (to Jeriba, at least) Willis Davidge (a.k.a Dennis Quaid) to raise him. It’s not the best way to parent a child, but that’s why Dennis/Willis showed up, so at least the kid had a role model of sorts.

 

body_snatchers

 

Here’s the completely parent-less delivery method called Body Snatching. It’s important to remember that these aren’t zombies, or the undead, or whatever. These life forms are a likeness, a substation, a stand in, much like margarine stands in for butter on occasion. Sure, it tastes all right, but it’s not butter, but it does what it’s supposed to do, so what difference does it make? And while anyone who’s fallen victim to the body snatchers can’t distinguish the difference between their original selves and the new-and-improved version, why should you, as a child, complain? After all, these new bodies just might believe all those half-baked lies you deliver when you want to stay out with your friends way past your bedtime on a Saturday night?

So folks, I surely hope you treated your moms right, bought flowers, dinner, cards, called, paid tribute, genuflected, thanked from the bottom of your heart and pledged to be the perfect child from today on forward. One day, Mom won’t be around to tell you what to do, and believe me, as one who knows, you’ll miss her like you can’t image.

Here’s to Mom…in whatever shape or form, on Mother’s Day.

 

 

Of Hitchhikers and Stardust   Leave a comment

Alan Marvin

Marvin has joined…

 

 

Astro David

Major Tom in space (credit: Tom Colbie)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I thought it ironic that two iconic British souls left this world for the one yet to be explored last week. Neither was a stranger to space and its oddities and both made significant contributions to the world of sci-fi and fantasy. I’d thought I’d compose a few words about both. It’s a given their talents are unique and rare, so I’ll just stick to the anecdote sides of things and save the lauding for others to trumpet.

David Bowie’s music played in the background of my youth and influenced my tastes. He seemed to be a bit left of whatever else anyone had to offer. One afternoon, my parents took me to Philadelphia (I grew up between NYC and Philly, so we visited both cities often) and “Diamond Dogs” just hit the airwaves. A truck towing a Mack truck-sized album cover of “DD” caught my attention. David Bowie, his head intact but his body transformed into a muscular dog, seemed oddly interesting to me. Those sort of things didn’t roll past our house, especially that huge, so I kept watching the truck jockeying for space in the Center City traffic. A few days later, I’d seen the album cover in the window of a record shop. I didn’t have enough money to buy it, but I heard the title song on WMMR, the progressive radio station out of Philadelphia. Somehow the music, in my mind at least, didn’t match up to the picture I’d seen traveling through town. It didn’t matter, though. I loved it.

My friend Anthony adored Bowie and remains an ardent fan to this day. On one occasion, either my birthday or just because, he handed me a poster that I still own.  It’s a depiction of his Berlin era, walking through the streets with Bowie walking past posted bills of him on a decrepit wooden fence. I have it tucked away someplace safe and now might be a good time to find it a suitable frame.

Another friend, Ken (quite an excellent artist) painted a portrait of Bowie. I still have that, too. It was on the occasion of my 22nd birthday and it rivals any other artwork anyone else could have painted of him. This portrait shows Bowie emerging from a dark background, a thoughtful gaze on his face. Makes you wonder what thoughts Ken might have channelled from Bowie as the brush stroked the canvas.

Not all that long ago, my husband Andrew and I watched “The Man Who Fell to Earth.” I’m sure I’m not the first one who considered the film strange. I’m in total agreement that he’s the only person who could have played the alien.

And speaking of aliens, Alan Rickman and David Bowie intersect professionally. Ironically, Rickman played the part of Dr. Lazarus in “Galaxy Quest,” while David Bowie’s theatrical work, “Lazarus” plays at the New York Theatre Workshop. In the song, “Lazarus,” Bowie hints at death while Rickman’s Dr. Lazarus tries not to die. Okay, I know this is a stretch but I thought it’s just one of those strange peculiarities worth noting.

Years ago, Andrew and I saw Alan Rickman on Broadway in “Private Lives.” Playing the male lead as Elyot Chase, he starred opposite Lindsey Duncan in the part of Amanda Prynne, Chase’s ex-wife. During the first act, Rickman was as stiff as a board, but must have had a drink or something during intermission, as he perked up considerably. During the second act, the Alan Rickman we all love appeared and any missteps he might have experienced during the first act were instantly forgotten. The play was in previews at that point, so he might have been stumbling with the lines. Who knows?

Yes, everyone knows that he played Snape and who can possibly forget his Hans Gruber in “Die Hard.” As Dr. Lazarus, though, he was a riot. Underneath his deadpan exterior lie a chicken-ish man who really feared dying on a spaceship that was supposed to be part of a television series set. That’s what I loved about Rickman’s film roles – he understated his roles with dry wit and a hint of terror, leaving the audience member never quite sure what his intentions might be. That’s really good acting, and Rickman had that talent in spades.

Now regrettably, both have left our planet for distant shores, hitchhiking along the universe, leaving a trail in the stardust for us to remember them by. Perhaps by some mystical force, both Rickman and Bowie will rise again, as the biblical Lazarus did.

 

 

 

 

MST3K Is Back! Yay!   Leave a comment

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know, I know this news hardly pales in comparison to the other big release occurring at the end of this week. But hey, those who can really claim to be sci-fi geeks and connoisseurs of wit know where the good stuff is.

Who doesn’t remember the iconic show from the latter part of the last century? I used to catch it on Comedy Central, and later on, the former Sci-Fi Channel (now SyFy).  It was just so silly, part film commentary, part comedy sketch. I latched on to each episode just to watch a kidnapped janitor and his ‘bot buds watch absolutely horrible films (a goodly portion I had already seen) and wisecrack nonstop.

MST3K’s story reads like a movie plot too. Begun in Minneapolis, MN in 1988 on KTMA, it later moved to Comedy Central and ran for six years until it was cancelled in 1997. A fierce letter campaign to bring it back revived the brilliant show until 1997 on Sci-Fi, when it met its cable demise in 1999. Recipient of the Peabody award in 1993 and named by Time Magazine in 2007 as one of the best television shows of all time (in the top 100), it leaves you wondering why this show was cancelled in the first place. Chalk that up to network execs usual interference with what they want vs. what the creatives envision, and the result is a battle that never ends well, at least for someone.

After the airing of “Danger: Diabolik” on August 8, 1999, MST3K went out of business, although it did go into syndication and if you were lucky, you could pick it up again here and there.

But, like anything worth remembering and savoring, this show had life in it yet. By the modern miracle of crowd funding, the show’s originator/creator, Joel Hodgson, raised $5,764,229 in a month. Add $425,000 raised outside of Kickstarter et voila! We’ll be seeing  14 new episodes in the near future. What’s telling about all of this is show never really went away, it only drifted out to space. Facing a fierce gravitational pull by its devoted fans both old and new, money flowed the instant the Kickstarted campaign started and in the process, broke all crowd funding records.

It still hasn’t been announced when the new episodes will air, but they’ll feature the likes of Patton Oswalt and even Jerry Seinfeld might to do a cameo. So stay tuned! Whether you’d like to revisit old episodes or keep in touch with MST3K happenings, an official channel lives on YouTube.  If you’d like to contribute, here’s their dot-com site. It has all the latest information, merch for sale and all the FAQs you’d ever want answered.

Happy viewing!

 

The Versatility of Black Holes   Leave a comment

Black Hole Toy

There’s been a lot of talk about black holes lately and it seems our fascination with them never quits.  Even the term ‘black hole’ joined our lexicon long ago (“Can’t figure out what I did with my keys; it’s like they fell into a black hole or something” – c’mon, admit it, you’ve generated versions of this phrase, haven’t you?).

So, strolling around the web, I’d thought I’d make an informal list of things Black Hole:

1.  Wired Magazine’s blog entry by Geek Dad, Black Hole Fun – Wired’s Guide to What Sucks – “10 Sci-Fi Movies we’d like to throw in a Black Hole.”  The list starts with Disney’s “The Black Hole” movie and goes down from there.  I don’t necessarily agree with his choice of the Matrix sequels (true, they were’t as strong as the original, but they had moments) or “Star Trek V” (although it isn’t the best entry in the field, it’s not that bad.), but I completely agree with his assessment of the others.  I happened to watch “Lost in Space” movie the other night, mainly because there wasn’t anything else on and I didn’t feel like doing anything else, and MAN, I gotta tell ya, it sucked.  I mean, who can honestly grasp the concept/irony of Matt Le Blanc playing a space jockey?

2.  Here’s a University in Colorado’s list, current to 2006, of a lot of Black Hole fiction in paper and film.  It’s really good.  Students get 2% extra credit for finding more sources to add to the list.

3.  Just in case you were curious, here’s Disney’s “The Black Hole” film.

4. Noisey – Music by VICE – blogged about Weezer’s lost science fiction rock opera, “Songs from the Black Hole.”  I used to be a huge fan of Weezer, until they stopped putting out good music a while ago.  Shame.

5.  You can get a 2006 forgettable version of “The Black Hole” on Amazon for $1.31.  US currency, that is.  Apparently, it seems there’s one available for a penny, but it’s a used version.

2006 The Black Hole

6.  Here’s Wendy Merrill’s advice on the black hole of bad follow up.

7.  Apple music contract will punch a black hole in the music industry.

8.  A 9.28.14 article from The Daily Beast declares black holes exist, and so does bad science.  The article discusses a paper that two physicists wrote that claim black holes can’t exist.

9.  I want this in my backyard…NOW!

10.  And, of course, no list would be complete without UFOs and black holes.  Here’s an article from the website Open Minds that discusses an Oregon witness says a UFO emitted a black hole sort of energy.

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