Archive for the ‘sci-fi’ Tag

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.

 

 

 

 

Many Happy Returns of the Day   Leave a comment

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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?

 

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?

The Surreal Life   Leave a comment

sleep

I’ve been asleep at the wheel lately. Dali’s picture best describes how I’ve been feeling as of late: melted, propped up, in a barren landscape far from any civilization save for a remote outpost of questionable value.

Life isn’t always fair. It splays out an awful lot of unwanted changes, blitzkrieg-style. For the past year, I’ve been caught in that proverbial rock-in-a-hard-place spot that makes it hard to go forward. Seems like I’m forever exhausted. Depressed. Unmotivated and uninspired.

Last autumn, I shared these sentiments with a fellow writer friend. He’d been thrown a horrible loss – his father was killed – and said that writing was the best therapy to work through his grief.

Took me a long while to sink in, but yes, he’s right. Absolutely right. I have to force myself to lose myself in dreams, not to sleep, but to write.

It’s been so long that I’ve created anything meaningful that I nearly lost faith in my abilities. What if my words amount to drivel? Shapeless streams of verbiage? Worse, an over reliance of adverbs?

I sat down with my second manuscript, still uncompleted, and gave it a good, hard look. It’d been months since I added anything to it, plus I have about two-thirds more to write before it’s finished. Sure, there’s a lot of changes I need to make, stuff needs to be tightened up and fleshed out. But you know what? It’s not bad. It’s not even a real first draft yet.

As I read through it, I gathered the plot’s flow in my brain. The characters arose from their long rest and seemed refreshed to resume their roles in my imagination. They even gave me a few clues as to how they’d like to beef up their storylines and get that action rolling once more. After going through it a few times, misty sketches became solid outlines. And here’s something positive: once I got that manuscript back inside me, the holes in the plot that dogged me so much are now filling in. No more potholes, but real patches to sketchy patches that vexed me.

My sister Gwen’s been egging me on, too. Said I need to get on with it. Claim my talent back from the dead and stop crying zombie. Get on with it already. Of course, she’s right.

Perhaps the best words of wisdom I found was from a friend on Facebook, yet another writer. He posted this link from Cracked.com – “How To Be a Better Person.” It’s REALLY hard to admit to the truths in it, but the short of it is that if you want to be a success, you’re going to have to work your ass off, accept failure as a learning opportunity, and expect to keep working until you either give up or shrug off frustration, obstacles, naysayers, pests, pessimists, and your own laziness and limitations in order to succeed. See, the longer you work at something – and it doesn’t have to be writing – the better you become. That, and all the losers quit, therefore opening your field a little wider. And that, my friends, is where an opportunity might show up.

Now, I need to take my own advice. I’ve been out of the writing loop so long that it’s a little scary sticking my feet back in the icy pool. It’s going to take a few dips before I get used to the numbness, but after a while I’ll get used to it again. And I’ll swim.

Here’s to 2017. My year of literary triumph, and yours too.

 

 

Happy Independence Day!   Leave a comment

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Scene from the movie, “Independence Day” 

Hooray for America!  Tomorrow is Independence Day, otherwise known as The Fourth of July.  It’s a big deal in this part of the world, mainly because we get the day off, drink beer, eat BBQ and shoot off fireworks in the hope that the cops won’t show up and have you arrested for setting fire to the neighbor’s roof.

July 4th has always been about fireworks of a sort, especially when the aliens come and visit.  You never know what they have up their sleeve, those sneaky gits.  Take, for example, the well-regarded film, “Independence Day.”  As pictured above, the aliens had plans about freeing Americans from the slinky tethers of the White House, because they knew to arrive there and blow it up.  Out of all the grand buildings dotted across the USA, the aliens carefully researched the most appealing targets and thoughtfully removed them from the map.  Intentionally, aliens freed ordinary Americans from the drudgery of law, order and the relative stability of a democratically-elected government…or made a statement about the Tea Party and the Koch brothers.

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“Independence Day” Alien

Aliens, on occasion, are sticky.  I could name a whole bunch of films that depict our off-world colleagues as drippy, goo-piles that slurp and ooze.  It’s never explained why, but I’m certain if a human should, on the brink of death at the alien’s hand, mentioned that their acceptability rate would skyrocket if they only dried off a bit, then the inevitable all-Earth obliteration would be so much more palatable.  So here’s our friend that I’ll name Indy, dripping.  It could be that the crack in his skull is releasing vital body fluids, or it secretes when harmed/threatened.  Either way, it’s gross.  Stop it, already, before your cred plummets even further!

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Bill Pullman as President Thomas J. Whitmore, in “Independence Day” 

Often, American presidents are played by grey-haired but dignified old(er) men.  Who wasn’t impressed with prime-of-his-life, hunky Bill Pullman as the ex-Air Force pilot tackling those nasty aliens?  Instead of sitting on his buttocks complaining about the state of things, he went out and did the job himself, just like Obama does when he gets sick of all that congressional shilly-shallying.  And yes, he didn’t quite get rid of the problem (that was left to Randy Quaid, possessor of a problematic off-camera life), but gee, doesn’t he look hot just for trying?

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Brent Spiner as Dr. Brackish Okun in “Independence Day”

What sci-fi film would be complete without data…or Data?  Playing against type, Brent moved away from his android role in ST: TNG to this guy.  Here’s something a few of you might not have known: around the same time (or at least the same decade), he appeared on Broadway in the play, “1776,” which is also about American independence.  I went.  Even took my parents.  And damn, he was good.  The man can sing!

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Swaggering heroes Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum

Because this is an American film using an American holiday as its title, America is entitled, so to speak, to claim the victory.  While three-quarters of the planet’s wiped out, Americans came in and saved the day!  Woo hoo!

So what are you going to do tomorrow?  My suggestion: watch completely predictable, over-the-top, stereotyped-rife Independence Day.  What better way to celebrate?

And you don’t even need to be an American to do so.

 

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