Archive for the ‘Vintage Sci-Fi’ Category

Sci-Fi’s Biggest Stars   Leave a comment

King Kong

You hit on something big, you keep it going forever. That seems to be a cardinal rule when it comes to films, at least. So how many times is King Kong going to rampage over the world? As seen above, he was rightly pissed because he’d been forced off of his home, imprisoned within the bowels of a ship, thrown on stage in front of hundreds of gawking theatergoers, chased down by planes and for what? Only to die.

Yeah, sure, it was claimed that beauty killed the beast. He climbed up to the top of the Empire State Building to protect Ann Darrow. But wait a minute – wasn’t she offered as some kind of sacrifice to him on Skull Island? So that begs the question: why bother to rescue her now, if her only function was to use her as bait?

And here we are, back on Skull Island, in 2017, slinging it out with King Kong, his island mates and the interlopers. This time, it’s tough broad Mason Weaver, a pen-carrying, pistol-slinging journalist getting the scoop on the giants that rule this turf. About the only thing missing from this particular picture is…

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…Godzilla, another creature who refuses to give up. He’s actually a great example of endurance, capable of destroying anything in his path, and just when you think he’s gone to the big lizard heaven in the sky, he shows up once more, wreaking havoc on society. There’s always a retinue of scientists battling it out with the military, each trying to figure out what’s best for the creature. Generally, it ends in someone’s demise, and quite often and a bit unfairly, it’s Godzilla.

That’s not to say he’s not resurrectable for even more mayhem and destruction. These two icons of animal magnetism slung it out in 1962.

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“King Kong v. Gojira (Godzilla)” engaged in some ridiculous, improbable plot line (aren’t they all?) to wreak havoc, all for the sake of a pharmaceutical company’s gimmick.

But hold onto your hats…and if you can wait until 2020, there’s going to be a revisited rematch of these behemoths. Get ready, folks, for a match unknown, unseen and untested since 1962, this’ll be one for the books. Meanwhile, I invite you to watch this dubbed clip of the final fight from the 1962 edition.

 

 

 

 

Driving the Geek Bus   Leave a comment

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Scenes from this year’s New York ComicCon, October 2016, at the Jacob Javitz Center in NYC

With all this talk of division these days, it’s important to consider what unites us. Brings us together. Makes us feel like we belong to something bigger. Accepts us for what we are, or who we might like to become. You know, all that feel good stuff.

That world not only exists, it’s growing stronger by leaps and bounds. I ought to know. I’m part of it.

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That world, my friends, is the world of geeks. These people unabashedly embrace who they are and not only that, want you to join them in their quest to conquer evil wherever it lurks. To triumph in the face of disaster. Build worlds and foster development within them. Laugh in the face of adversity, while secretly plotting to overcome the dark forces, regardless of risk, expense, resources, plausibility, practicality…never mind the rogues or plot twists that stand in the way.  Who cares what you look like or where you come from? Of course, that depends on what part of the universe one hails from, but no one will truly hold it against you.

 

It’s no wonder sci-fi and the geeks that create it/live it/love it is growing more popular with each breathing minute. It’s the ultimate unifier. Who cares if you’re 6 or 92? Bald or pencil-necked? CEO or clerk? Azerbaijani or Upper Volta (actually, that’d be pretty cool). It’s all about the costume, the twist, the particular world inhabited outside of the damned mainstream, the brutal reality we’re all forced to live in.  Geeks regularly meet up on the sci-fi bus and drive it out of ridiculousness and into the beyond.

It takes a lot of guts to put on a costume and convince the world you’re a superhero or fictional character of unknown origin. But once these cosplay characters meet up, man, it’s golden. We all get along, just fine, thanks, and sure, there’s jealousy and maybe a bit of resentment that your competition snagged an actual James T. Kirk standard-issue uniform from the November 8, 1968 Season 3 Star Trek, Episode 8:  For the World Is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky. That only means at some point you’re going to have to dig a little deeper in your pocket and eBay yourself one.

Couples meet up because they engage in cosplay. I work with a guy whose alter ego is Superman and his girlfriend is Supergirl. Perfect pairing, if you ask me.

Most of all, science fiction shows us what’s possible, to anyone. In its best form, it reaches beyond the limits of the people we are and directs to to consider the impossible.

Maybe it is time for the geeks to drive the bus. After all, we’re out to conquer evil, wherever it lurks. Come with?

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.

Unconventional Mothers   2 comments

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

 

Let’s Do The Time Warp…Again!   Leave a comment

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Oh God, what’s it been…nearly three weeks? That’s what happens when you’re surrounded by utter turmoil. No, nothing horrible happened. Just a lot of stuff going on and on and on. Adding to that, I’ve VERY DETERMINED to finish my fifth rewrite of my book so that my agent can go out and sell it already. Yeesh! I get so caught up in trying to snip a bit here, swap out a word there, punch up this bit and calm that bit down that next thing you know, all this time has passed. The good news is that I’m getting there and hope to really end the rewrites SOON.

But in the meantime, I’ve taken a break here and there to clear my head and bleary eyes. Last Saturday night was one of those opportunities. I felt like watching a movie but as we flipped through our various overpaid channels, the only things worth watching was “Star Trek – The Search for Spock” and “Rocky Horror Picture Show.” Okay, so we can pretty much quote all the lines in each movie. And hey, we could have downloaded something. Yeah, yeah, but that would’ve taken effort. In the end, we went with “RHPC.”

After all, it’s Science Fiction, right?

Who doesn’t have a story to tell about this film? Was it your first midnight show? Did you remember to carry all the accessories and toss/hurl/light at the right moments? Someone prompt you on the right times to say the right lines?

My first experience with this film was in some theatre in Manhattan…I have no idea which one. I’d like to say it was the Waverley, but I’m probably wrong. All I remember is my friends and I carried in a whole bunch of stuff, didn’t know what to do with it, fiddled around and wound up tossing things everywhere and squirting the water gun in the wrong direction at people who weren’t happy we did. Next time, I got it straight. Got everything cued up and made sure I was on the ball. After about the ninth or tenth time, I was a pro. And no, I didn’t go every Saturday night – just when it seemed like the right thing to do. See, you could go by yourself to one of these shows and no one’d notice or care. That’s the beauty of Manhattan – you do what you want and it’s cool, man.

I got to admit, Tim Curry looked really splendid in his getup as a Transylvanian Transvestite. The role suited him. And you know what? Barry Bostwick and Susan Sarandon did too. They’re all forever locked into their own time warp, playing one of their early roles over and over again, never aging, never breaking out in other roles, doomed to live in the same crazy environment until…until…it’s time to do the time warp again.

Once, I had the opportunity to see “The Rocky Horror Show,” the play upon which the film is based. My friend Carl just happened to get tickets for a midnight showing of it. See, twice a year, Broadway theaters put on performances for just their own – usually at or after midnight. Once all the theaters go dark, one stays open and puts on a performance for those who work the shows – cast, crew, house staff. Often the money raised at the door is given to a particular charity. Carl took me to one of these performances. We had fantastic seats (he knew someone, of course) and the narrator, the iconic Dick Cavett – stood about four inches away from us, reading his part. As we entered the theater, we received a bag of all the proper accessories to make the performance complete. Carl HAD NEVER SEEN THE MOVIE and so I had to go through the bag and let him in on when one uses the contents.

Oh God, what a great evening that was. I have to say it’s much better than watching the usual live performers who act out the movie in front of it…although there’s a lot to be said for them, too. As I hopped out of my cab at 3:00 am, I was awful glad I took the next day off from work (it was a Friday, anyway) and it seemed like I was in on something. A secret club, maybe.

Now, there’s a tribute to the 40th anniversary of the movie.  YouTube had this posted from NBC’s “Today Show”:

It gives you the rundown of the 40 glorious years this movie’s been on screens throughout the world.

But perhaps the most important thing from the film is this: its underlying message. It’s a good one to carry around with you, no matter where you go or what you do.

So remember:

Don’t dream it. Be it.

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.

Vintage Future   Leave a comment

One thing that always fascinates me is how the past foresaw (or foreseed?) the future.  You know, way back in the day, say, around 1935 or so, the year 2000 seemed as remote as jetpacks (also a futuristic object we’re still waiting on).

Bored, putting off my writing for the day, I chose to do a bit of research.  You know, the kind that kind of involves what you’re working on but not really (just because it’s science fiction doesn’t mean it’s my particular brand of it, but it’s sci-fi nonetheless).

Traveling around YouTube, I found a bit of what I wasn’t looking for: fashion.

Women’s clothing seems pretty cool, if not entirely practical.  Men’s?  Hmm.  Overall, I wonder what made these designers think that clothes would progress this way, especially a dress made out of aluminum.  I mean, how you gonna sit without scratching the hell out of your body?  And what was the reasoning behind metal as fabric?  Then there’s the net dress that’s pretty va-va-hoochy-koochie-voom.  It’s kind of modest by today’s standards.  The bridal dress isn’t out of line with what people’d consider high fashion today.  At the end of the video, there’s really no rationale for the male outfit; none that I could find, anyway.

This one has some of the above in it, but what I find funny is that when this video shows the future, it has exactly the same airplanes with a few tweaks, buildings pretty much look the same too and there’s no real innovations, just…bigger things.  Why?  Could no one figure out how things progressed logically?

Okay, now this one’s not really a prediction, nor is it science fiction in the truest sense, but when you look at it, you’ll know what I mean, and you’ll smile:

Ah, nostalgia!

Right around when this video was made, I was sitting at my desk when our computer guy, Jim, came in with a box and some wires in his hands.  “I’m hooking you up to the internet,” he said.

Really?” I said.  “Wow!”

We tinkered about for a moment.  Each of us in my department had to keep a little logbook of how long we were on the internet, and why, and that included email.  See, they paid by the hour and even then they didn’t want us goofing off on it.  So you can imagine how excited I was when I heard that distinctive modem tune that told me I was engaged to the world!  Oo!

Five seconds later, it all froze.  Log out, unplug, log in, repeat.

Eventually, I did get to this page called Webcraller.  It had a search field, plus this “Surprise” button.  You pressed it and it kind of gave you a tour of the internet in all of its innocent youth.  Why, I saw helpful plans for a plumbing schematic, recipes for pie, horoscopes, bits of news from around the world, pictures of people doing things, and the like.  I was hooked!  And felt special, too. Right there in my tiny office, on the top of my steel-and-formica desk, the entire world waited for me to log on and discover all its wonders.

Now, why couldn’t they see that in 1920?

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