Thursday, July 31, 2008

New Harry Potter fairy tales

I would love this for the look of the book alone. Available exclusively, so it says, thru Amazon.

The Standard Edition features all five fairy tales from the original The Tales of Beedle the Bard , a new introduction by J.K. Rowling, illustrations reproduced from the original handcrafted book, and commentary on each of the tales by Professor Albus Dumbledore.

Amazon is also thrilled to offer a luxuriously packaged Collector's Edition (available exclusively at Amazon) designed to evoke the spirit of the handcrafted original. It is housed in its own case (made to resemble a wizarding textbook found in the Hogwarts library). The Collector's Edition includes a reproduction of J.K. Rowling's handwritten introduction, as well as 10 additional illustrations not found in the Standard Edition. Opening the cover of the case reveals a velvet bag embroidered with J.K. Rowling's signature, in which sits the piece de resistance: your very own copy of The Tales of Beedle the Bard , complete with metal skull, corners, and clasp; replica gemstones; and emerald ribbon.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Fellowship of the Ring

At an absolutely unprecedeted fast pace for me, I started The Fellowship of the Ring on Friday and just finished today. I've never read 500 pages so fast.

I was just in the right mood. I wanted a quest. I wanted an adventure story. I didn't want to relearn a universe or look stuff up. I just wanted to read. And since I've read it twice before, once way the hell back in high school, and am very familiar with the movies, this was nice and easy.

I must say, it is also a pleasure to read. The language is engrossing. You can just tell how much Tolkien loved language.

I am going to dive right into The Two Towers today. I've only read that once before--I never picked it up in high school after Fellowship. To be honest, I was not ready for this trilogy in high school. This honestly gets better with age.

Stuff Consumed Lately

I have not been just watching Star Trek. I have been reading like a fiend. I also manage to get in a movie or two. I read comics to supplement in between stuff. Sometimes I like "changing the channel." That's why I read two, three, four books at once most of the time. Since I grew up on comics, I am used to my storylines, the plotlines, being divided up for those month breaks. When I read a comic, and it said "To be continued," I would have to wait a month for the next installment so I read other things in between. I have been reading books that way most of my life. I will read a real novel, then mix it with a sci-fi novel. I have also found that this gives me time to "process" the novels that I am reading--makes me think about them.

Also note, I am still reading Moby Dick, quite diligently. I am also keeping track of my Moby Dick reading on another blog that some people have even seen and read. I also have some exclusive words from author Jane Yolen there on why she considers it the most important novel she's ever read.

This was actually quite good. It's a sardonic graphic novel called Dungeon Monstres. Very dry tongue-in-cheek humor for the D&D medium that is quite good.

Yep, this Stone Fox by John Reynolds Gardiner is a kid's book but it was quite good. I tell you, I did not see that cool switch at the end. Made me sit up and go, "Oh, no!" Any book that can deliver that kind of line out of an English major has to be worthwhile reading (plus, it only took me less than half an hour to read the whole thing).

God Emperor of Dune by Frank Herbert is the fourth installment of the massive Dune saga. I'm still perplexed by this one. I will say that Herbert is a master at creating a truly believable world for his saga. Although, my one problem, and I admit this is my fault as a reader, is that I don't fully understand why the God Emperor Leto II is a tyrant. I am discussing online at to try to find some answers. I want a few answers before I try to attempt the fifth book. Amy just read the entire prequel trilogy, the "House" books, by his son Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson. She really liked the first two but found #3 a bit tiresome. I have read previously House Atreides and maybe I will read the next two "House" books first before diving into the fifth regular Dune book.

For a book that calls itself Zombie! there is hardly any zombie! It's an okay little pulp fiction paperback that I found at Goodwill or somewhere like that. The married couple vacations on a Caribbean island and finds a voodoo cult. Hey, I read it. Would make a decent SciFi Channel movie, instead of some of that unwatchable crap they make.

This documentary on Muhammad Ali, When We Were Kings, was very interesting. Such a piece of time is documented. If I hadn't already known that Muhammad Ali was a great man, this would have solidified it. A bit slow in spots but it makes up for it in the brilliant climax of the "Rumble in the Jungle." Well worth watching.

Why do we remember this flipping movie? The Blob from 1958. Is it only because it is the first Steve McQueen movie? That's gotta be it because this movie does not deliver. And the ending with just parachuting the blob in a box and leaving it in the Arctic...Maybe I have to remember that this movie is now 50 years old, and that might put some perspective on it.

So they tried to remake The Blob in 1988, thirty years later. Other than showcasing some new effects, which make the 1958 movie look even worse, but make it seem extremely dated for 1988, the plot does not get any better at all. In fact, gone is the plotline of nobody believing Steve McQueen and the kids--it's replaced by a plotline of the blob being a U.S. virus-in-space experiment that went wrong. It is almost laughable when that actress Shawnee Smith is shooting her machine gun at the blob.

SIDEBAR: Will Terminator 2 one day be "dated" by its special effects? The answer seems to be YES with what they are doing nowadays, but it isn't. Terminator 2, which brought us that liquid technology will not be dated because it stands as a great movie first. That's the key. Effects do not a movie make. A good movie uses effects to tell the story, not the other way around.

Zulu, the first movie to introduce us to Michael Caine, is still a great action epic. This movie is fantastic and still holds up to today's standards if you ask me. There is character development for the most part, all that you really need, and great action, to the point that you lose track of the fact that this movie is well over two hours long. Great flick.

A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Miserable Mill and The Austere Academy by Lemony Snicket. I like these books for the fast read that they provide and the fact of how dark it really is for the protagonists. These are just fun to read. I think I have about seven more in the series to go.

Battletech: Highlander Gambit by Blaine Lee Pardoe. This is one of the better Battletech books that I have read. Slow in some parts but you simply have to find out if the guy is going to fulfill his mission of betraying his homeland--or how he will get away with it if he doesn't. Kind of long, but worth it. Better than that other one I read not too long ago.

Conan the Swordsman, mostly by L. Sprague de Camp. A bunch of short stories for Conan, kind of fill-in-the-gaps behind his longer adventures. Great stuff. Quick and easy Conan.

Conan the Liberator mostly by L. Sprague de Camp. Conan leads an army to liberate Aquilonia from a despot king and a dark sorceror. It's okay. I have read better Conan. The climactic military battle promised is completely dismissed as Conan plays a raid on the palace, now defenseless, and battles the king and the wizard. No where near as good as the Robert Jordan Conan novels.

Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis. I have always wanted to read this, ever since The Lord of the Rings when I found that Lewis was part of the circle of writers with Tolkien. This is part one of Lewis' sci-fi trilogy and it is in the classic sci-fi tradition, with life on Mars, and pink trees and other strange colored things. Interesting from the protagonist's philology point of view, with understanding the language and tradition of the things living on Mars. I read it quickly--less than 24 hours which is great for me. I have to find the next two at the library.

The Professor's Daughter, a graphic novel. Ehhhh, it was okay. There were some internal logic things about it that I couldn't stand. So-so. Drawing was quite good but the story lacked, if you ask me.

Always cool to find out the back stories in these Star Trek novels. Star Trek III: The Search for Spock had a few. I didn't know that David Marcus, Kirk's son, was involved with Saavik. Saavik origin stuff is here that never gets elucidated anywhere else. As Spock would say, "Fascinating" but truly only for a Trekkie.

I like J. M. Dillard's Star Trek novels. He writes them well. His adaptation of Star Trek V: The Final Frontier is no exception. See, I secretly like Star Trek V.

I just cannot get into Legion of Super-Heroes. Maybe it is the fact that I have no idea who these eight million characters are. There is no depth to any of the characters. They have really stupid names too, like Invisible Kid and Lightning Lass. I just can't get into the series and I have tried. I just don't like 'em. I find myself having no clue what is going on. Powers just seem to be thrown around.

Weird, but it is definitely a slice of life.
Poignant and stylish, this graphic novel proves some of the power of the medium that is comics. Ordinary Victories by Manu Larcenet is really good. This would make a mediocre novel or biography if it were in prose. With the comic medium, the pictures that are able to tell a ton without words, it moves along faster and with much more power. Top notch.
Unfortunately, this was the third installment of a trilogy so I may have lost much. It's okay...The art is good, but the story pacing seems slow.
I had never seen Deliverance before. I knew something about it from references in popular culture--who doesn't know what happens to Ned Beatty in this? But I have to admit that this was a much better movie than I expected. I really like the way it was filmed. They just threw their characters into the action--you know all you need to know. There aren't a lot of words where there doesn't need to be. They walk into a terrifying situation with what I think is exactly what you would expect of these characters, even though they rise to the challenge. Jon Voigt is superb in it. I could see the fear and the determination in his face. I really enjoyed this flick.

Finally got around to watching Live Free or Die Hard, sitting on my shelf from Netflix for at least a month. Very good movie. Still isn't as great as the perfect The Bourne Ultimatum but still very good. Just a damn good action movie. I mean, they don't even let a story get in the way. There is action almost immediately. The characterization is there, but happens during the events of the movie, which is a really cool way of doing it. The storyline may seem farfetched but was based on an article called "A Farewell to Arms" by John Carlin, located on Wired. First rate flick well worthy of the DIE HARD name; however, Die Hard still reigns supreme.

I have also read the following short stories:

By Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes in "The Adventure of the Copper Beeches"--yet another one where Holmes doesn't really do anything. Watson could solve some of these crimes.

Then I read Sherlock Holmes in "The Adventure of Silver Blaze" and was impressed. Holmes actually solved something! And the switch was really neat.

Two H.P. Lovecraft tales, really good ones: "Pickman's Model" and "The Outsider." The latter is absolutely first rate and really short.

Comics also read lately:

From the Reign of the Supermen storyline: The Adventures of Superman #501, 502, 503, 504, Superman #78, 79, 80, 81, Superman: The Man of Steel #23, 24, 25, Action Comics #688, 689, 690

The Superman Gallery #1 (1993)

Strikeforce: Morituri #1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

Conan the Barbarian #214 (1989)

Conan the Adventurer #5 (1994)

Conan the Barbarian #99 (1979) Alone against the Man-Crabs of the Dark Cliffs!

The Clockwork Girl #1 (Arcana Comics, 2007)

Secrets of Haunted House #7 (DC, 1977)

Super Powers (DC, Volume 2, 1985-6) #3, 4, 5, 6

Warlord #8 (DC, 1977)

The Incredible Hulk Annual #16 (1990) by Peter David and a She-Hulk filler story by Bill Mumy (you know, the kid from the Lost in Space TV show)

Superman #674 (2008)

Superman #0 (1994, part of DC's ZERO HOUR storyline)

Robotech #1 (Wildstorm DC, 2003)

Superman: The Man of Steel #116 (2001, part of Our Worlds at War)

DC Comics Presents #7 (1979)

Underworld Unleashed: Apokolips--Dark Uprising #1 (DC, 1995)

Tarzan #239 (DC, 1975)

Thor #262 (Marvel, 1977)

NGuard #1 (Markosia Comics, 2008)

Robotech: The Macross Saga #22 (Comico, 1987)I want more action! More Veritech fighters!

Superman: The Man of Tomorrow #1 (1995) Lex Luthor returns to his body again! Hasn't he used at least two bodies in the updated DC universe since 1986?

Detective Comics #467 (1977) a completely forgettable Batman adventure--boy, was he used horribly a lot of the time in the 70s.

DC Giant Presents Strange Flying Saucers Adventures #27 (Summer 1976) with stories by Gardner Fox and Otto Binder.

McCain and Obama figures--WHO YA GONNA VOTE FOR?

Cast your vote with action figures!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Amy passed the 24!

After cramming, and I mean cramming every waking minute, Amy passed her Series 24 test today for another financial license!

Woo hoo!

I am so proud of her--she gave up a lot of after-work time for this. Way to go!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Sixth man on the moon reveals that aliens exist

Dr. Edgar Mitchell, of the Apollo 14 and the sixth man on the moon, has revealed in an interview that aliens are real.

Roswell is real.

The government has been covering all this up for 60 years.

He is supposedly one of the privileged few to have been briefed on the subject.

It will all come out soon. The world will know. He said, "This is really starting to open up. I think we're headed for real disclosure and some serious organisations are moving in that direction."

The truth is out there at,23739,24069892-952,00.html.

Hey, just listen for a minute--wouldn't it be cool? Wouldn't your whole world just be turned on its head? For a guy like me who really really wants to know, it would just be cool.

I will go on record saying that the guy is nuttier than a fruitcake. I do not think, in the slightest, that the government could cover up something this big for sixty years.

But it would be cool, wouldn't it?

(Picture taken from at 07/25/08)


You simply must read the New York Times Op-Ed piece today by David Brooks entitled "Playing Innocent Abroad."

"When I first heard this sort of radically optimistic speech in Iowa, I have to
confess my American soul was stirred. It seemed like the overture for a new yet
quintessentially American campaign.
But now it is more than half a year on,
and the post-partisanship of Iowa has given way to the post-nationalism of
Berlin, and it turns out that the vague overture is the entire symphony. The
golden rhetoric impresses less, the evasion of hard choices strikes one more. "

I, too, think I fell for some of this rhetoric. One night a few months ago, after some primary win, Amy and I were watching CNN coverage and Obama gave a speech. We both sat there mesmerized, thinking that this guy was going to win it all. He is a powerful speaker, especially in times when there are very few powerful political speakers. Then we started listening to the actual substance and were opposed to quite a few of his programs.

When he spoke in Berlin yesterday, it was all fluff. Vast ideals with no way of actually doing them.

"But substantively, optimism without reality
isn’t eloquence. It’s just Disney."

Still even more pointless commentary on Star Trek

"Metamorphosis" Season 2, episode 9. In a shuttlecraft, cut short of their mission, Commissioner Headford is sick. She yells at McCoy about "the inefficiency of the medical branch of Starfleet." The funny part is that she is quite right in being pissed off because she didn't get an inoculation for a disease McCoy says is so rare that contracting it is "billions to one." How can you not be inoculated? What, were they trying to save a few bucks? Then they are accosted by some "thing" again, some kind of ionized cloud that takes them off course and makes them land on an asteroid with a breathable atmosphere. Isn't it amazing how many bad things happen from "ionized" clouds or storms? On the surface of the asteroid they find none other than Zephram Cochran, discoverer of the space warp. He knew Spock was a Vulcan, making that sync with Star Trek: First Contact. The Companion, the ionized cloud, saved his life and rejuvenated him. Now it keeps him as a pet of sorts, or a lover. Bones says it is more like love. Kirk says that Cochran is from Alpha Centauri, so that is weird. Cochran wonders, "What's it like out there?" Kirk responds, "We're on a thousand planets and spreading out. It's estimated that there are millions of planets with intelligent life and we haven't begun to map them. Interested?" (On a side note, it is a thing like this that makes me sad for living in this technological infancy of the early 21st century.) Cochran plays like Rip Van Winkle, "How'd you like to go to sleep for 150 years and wake up in a new world?" Cool concept.

I truly like the theme of some of these episodes of being imprisoned against the will even if that imprisoned life seems perfect and well cared for. Compare this to the episode "This Side of Paradise."

Cochran gets pissed when they talk of him and the Companion being lovers; he is just about revolted. Somehow though, when the Companion takes over the body of the Commissioner, well, that's just hunky-dory then! Still the Companion but now in a human body--plus, what about the ramifications of the Companion "taking" the Commissioner's body--isn't that like killing? How does Kirk write that off in his log? Did she die or not? If she did, it was McCoy's fault for not inoculating. There was a novel, Federation, that took on Cochran's life after this, actually in the time of The Next Generation.
"The Squire of Gothos" Season 1, episode 17. The first Q. Trelane, our antagonist, is even treated as a Q in one of the Star Trek novels, I remember. The ultimate in all of Star Trek's omnipotent antagonists. It's interesting that as he is watching Earth, he forgets about the time dilation effect and is watching Earth of 900 years ago, that's why he dresses like that, although, I don't see it as fully accurate because at one point they are using guns like those that "slew Alexander Hamilton." That would put the year at 2700, which is not when Star Trek is set. Trelane holds a "trial" just like the Q of The Next Generation, albeit not the kangaroo court of that series. Actually a cool episode, even with fighting another omnipotent antagonist. Wish he had come back. There is a great switch at the end with Trelane being a naughty little boy. Also, this is the third episode with crewman DeSalle that I know of. Also, there is yet another new pretty yeoman for Kirk--how the hell is this supposed to be a five-year mission if Kirk keeps getting pretty new yeomans? One dilemma: they never tried to enlist the aid of these super-entities when they were faced with dire circumstances, like the Borg in TNG.

"Mirror, Mirror" Season 2, episode 4. Great. Another ion magnetic storm. They pop up all over and they don't know a thing about them! A masterpiece episode--this is one of the ones you show a friend who has never seen Star Trek before to make them into a Trekkie. This is a perfect episode that has a strange transporter accident make a landing party switch places with their counterparts from a parallel universe. Even though Kirk does come up with the implausible answer a little quickly, that is simply a way to move the story along. And, the odds of the same four landing party members in both universes transporting at the same exact time in the same exact orbit of the same planet is extra-astronomical, it is still fun. Although, you do wonder what exactly happened with the talk about mining those dilithium crystals from the Halkans on that planet--that is never resolved. Also, the Tantalus Device is super-interesting, a device that can wink enemies out of existence.

"Space Seed" Season 1, episode 22. Khan. The prequel to Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Obviously, someone always wondered what the heck happened with Khan's exile after watching this episode. Khan and his followers are found in suspended animation after 200 years, fleeing from the Eugenics Wars of the 1990s and World War III on Earth (Gotta love that alternate history after the decade has really passed). The crewman Marla McGivers goes over to Khan's side rather easily--I wish she had more of a story. It's a little too easy for Khan to take over the ship. Shouldn't Kirk and Spock's command override everything, especially takeover when it doesn't come from the bridge? Doesn't Kirk's voice command have ultimate authority? And then the whole idea of not punishing Khan and McGivers with jail--rather, they put them on Ceti Alpha V to start a new world. How did that fly? No wonder somebody always wondered what happened to Khan because that has to be the strangest punishment in Trek history.

"Tomorrow is Yesterday" Season 1, episode 19. Weirdest start to a Trek episode as it starts with a 20th century USAF jet plane. Makes you wonder if you have the right show or not. Then you see the Enterprise and all is right. They are on their way to Starbase 9 when a "black star with high gravitational attraction" causes them to be trapped. Thy break away like a rubber band, they say, and the whole Enterprise wind up back in the late 1960s. Then the fun begins, as it was like they were filming this episode as they went without writing a script. They beam the poor jet pilot aboard, Captain Christopher, then they talk about paradoxes with returning or not returning Christopher. I'm sorry, Kirk messed up by beaming that pilot aboard. Spock should have shouted that possibility at the very least. He never should have put the jet into the tractor beam in the first place. The Enterprise crew then decide they have to destroy the records of Captain Christopher--and they make it worse by beaming up a security guard! The Slingshot Effect that is used at the end to send the Enterprise home is used again in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. The thing about this whole episode I don't get is that the Enterprise crew beams the two 1960s Earthmen over their previous selves to fix the problems. The 1960s Earthmen forget everything. This is an odd episode that had me scratching my head.

"Spock's Brain" Season 3, episode 1. You know, for an episode cheesily entitled "Spock's Brain" it is a really good one. Aliens steal Spock's brain! Yet they leave his body...that's an oddity. Scotty talks about the ion propulsion of the alien ship being advanced. "They could teach us a thing or two." The alien, an unassuming beautiful woman, transports to the Enterprise and with the touch of a couple buttons on a device on her wrist, she completely incapacitates the entire crew, even those on other decks. More super-advanced technology that gets forgotten about in Trek-time. Then she steals Spock's brain! Kirk hunts down the aliens and finds an advanced civilization that apparently needs a strong brain to run the city. The inhabitants know nothing. The Builders of the place and their medical knowledge--who are they? Where did they come from? go? It's another one of those themes of whether or not paradise is having someone or something else do it all for you. McCoy then gets some super-knowledge and puts Spock's brain back in his head. The Federation could study and learn from that world--do they? I sometimes wonder what happens "after the episode."

"The Ultimate Computer" Season 2, episode 24. This is a really great episode that has Dr. Daystrom's M-5 computer being tested on the Enterprise. It has been designed to basically run a starship. Commodore Wesley tells Kirk he can "sit back and let the machine do the work." Prophetic words, indeed. Can a computer do everything a man can do? Kirk laments the fact that computers may make even him unessential, quoting that Masefield poem, "All I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by," and Trekkies remember Kirk quoting that in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier with Spock correcting Bones on who the quote comes from--McCoy misattributes it to Melville. The M-5 goes crazy, destroys a robotic ore freighter and even vaporizes one of Kirk's red-shirted ensigns as they start trying to turn it off. The M-5 then proceeds into the scheduled wargames but takes them seriously, attacking the four Federation ships. At one of Wesley's reports there are 53 dead on the Lexington and 12 dead on the Excalibur. The Excalibur's captain and first officer are reported dead. According to the biography of Daystrom, "nearly 500 Starfleet personnel were killed." They still end up naming a research institute after him for all his previous achievements. Kirk "kills" the M-5 by a logic trap about murder and the death penalty for murder. It is mentioned twice that murder is contrary to the laws of God and man. Great episode, especially as you see Daystrom was really only wanting mankind to be better.

"The Enterprise Incident" Season 3, episode 2. Kirk takes the ship straight into Romulan territory, without authority. Bones says he has been acting loopy. The Enterprise is captured. Kirk is charged with espionage on the basis of Spock's testimony.

SIDEBAR: I have to say, for the record, that if you are holding a gun on someone, you do no need to be within Kirk's kicking range!

Spock says he has been a Starfleet officer for 18 years. When Kirk lunges at Spock, Spock says, "I instinctively used the Vulcan Death Grip." McCoy responds, "You're instincts are still good. The Captain is dead!" But we find out it was all subterfuge under direct Federation orders to obtain a cloaking device. Quite brilliant. The Vulcan Death Grip does not exist; he used a "nerve pinch to simulate death." Then Kirk gets made up to look like a Romulan, ears and all. Spock woos the female Romulan commander, although she is practically throwing herself at him the entire episode. She's a smart commander even though she let her emotions for Spock get in the way. A couple of minor plot situations to discuss: if the ships were all at battle-ready, wouldn't the shields have prevented the beaming of Captain Kirk in Romulan disguise aboard the Romulan ship? I guess they could have been down during negotiations but somehow I doubt it. Secondly, wouldnt a Romulan crew know all its own personnel? Especially know a Centurion leader that Kirk disguises himself as? I know everyone in my high school, especially people in charge. On a Romulan ship there are substantially less people than aboard a Federation ship. The Enterprise then speeds away when she was once "surrounded." How did she get away? Another thing, Spock contacts Kirk on the Romulan ship with a communicator and the Romulans pick up the signal, giving them away. Didn't they know that their signal would be picked up? If they did, they took a completely unnecessary risk. Also, the Romulans could have shot Spock at once instead of letting him filibuster away until he is beamed away--again through shields? The Romulan ships could have shot the Enterprise before the cloaking device was hooked in. For a great episode, it sure is filled with Star Trek internal logic holes.

One more thing--what did they do with the two Romulan prisoners in the brig?

"The Alternative Factor" Season 1, episode 27. Existence and non-existence. Matter and anti-matter. Spock reports, "The entire magnetic field of this solar system simply blinked." Non-existence, a cosmic winking out. It occurs within every quadrant of the galaxy, it is said. Kirk and Spock beam down and meet some dude named Lazarus who explains that he is "chasing the devil's own spawn" that wiped out his entire universe. There is lots of fighting in a fuzzy blue screen, apparently to symbolize the alternate plane. When Lazarus is taken aboard the Enterprise they sure give the guy a lot of leeway for not knowing who he really is and Spock saying he is the center of all the disturbances. He has complete run of the ship, even a second time after assaulting two crewmen. To solve the issue, Kirk gets transported to the blue plane and crosses over into the anti-matter universe. He finds out it is the anti-Lazarus. Lazarus then gets stranded in the bridge between the universes, fighting the anti-Lazarus until the end of time.

"The Immuity Syndrome" Season 2, episode 18. The Enterprise battles a giant space amoeba! Spock "felt" the death of the 400 Vulcans on the Intrepid just like Obi-Wan Kenobi felt the deaths on the planet Alderaan. How often do they come across "something I've never seen." Answer: every episode. They have no idea what it is but they go in anyway, even knowing that the Intrepid was destroyed by it. They figure out a way to destroy it. Just another "Thing-in-space-we-have-to-destroy" episode.

SIDEBAR: "Probe will hit in 7.3 seconds." It takes longer to say the "point 3" then the "point 3" lasts, doesn't it? Then it is said again: "contact in 18.3 seconds." I know they are trying to be anally scientific like when Spock computes ETA at something like 5.2 hours. But that's okay because "point 2" hours is appreciable time. "Point 3" seconds is not. You can't even see the "point 3" as it rolls on by the chrometer.

SIDEBAR 2: Mr. Kyle was a helmsman in Sulu's place--how many episodes was Kyle in? I looked him up at and it says later on "Twenty years later he was a commander and communications officer on the U.S.S. Reliant."

Introducing the The GOP Toolbar!

Support the Republican Party.

Your friend Matthew Butcher has invited you to check out the The GOP Toolbar! It's a great way to get involved and contribute to an excellent cause at no cost to you.

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Introducing the The GOP Toolbar!

Support the Republican Party.

Your friend Matthew Butcher has invited you to check out the The GOP Toolbar! It's a great way to get involved and contribute to an excellent cause at no cost to you.

Please click here for more information.


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

I'm not the only one, by the way

Yes, I bitch and complain about Star Wars a lot, making me an uber-geek with a whiny attitude--much like Mark Hammil in the first Star Wars.

But I ain't the only one:

Maybe I’ll put it like this. To be a Star Wars fan, one must possess the ability
to see a million different failures and downfalls, and then somehow assemble
them into a greater picture of perfection. Every true Star Wars fan is a Luke
Skywalker, looking at his twisted, evil father, and somehow seeing good.

This is from a MUST-READ article entitled "The Complex and Terrifying Reality of Star Wars Fandom" by Andrey Summers.

A new Star Wars movie

They've finally gone and done it. They are now making the movie without any real people to get in the way.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

Since at least three-quarters of the prequels were computer-generated anyway, just go ahead and make the whole movie a cartoon. Albeit, a good-looking one.

I am ambivalent towards the endeavor right now. Lots of pent-up frustration over the prequel trilogy yet lots of anticipation for what could be a cool Star Wars tale.

Don't get me wrong--I really do like the Star Wars universe. I have read comic books and novels with other adventures that aren't part of the "canon" and still enjoyed them.

My only real question here is: Why do a Star Wars Episode 2.5?

It takes place between Episode 2 and 3, before Anakin becomes Darth Vader. According to, George Lucas is credited with the story and not the screenplay (although I honestly wonder if this is not an honorary credit).

Here's my dilemma--George Lucas AGAIN tinkers with his ultimate plan for the Star Wars movies. Is this a necessary tale to tell? Will it give us any enlightenment and if so, why weren't elements of it put into the prequel trilogy? Is this now a four-movie trilogy (wow, Douglas Adams would be laughing right now--remember his five-book trilogy Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy?)

Also, it is known that this movie will pave the way for a fall cartoon television series on The Cartoon Network and TNT. How will that work? More stories set during the prequel trilogy?

Hey, Mr. Lucas! Get on with the rest of the story! We all knew as kids that there were supposed to be nine installments. Could you please start on Episode 7? Please!

(Picture swiped from Lucasfilm by way of USAToday, 7-23-08.)

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Big Trip

As I write this, Morgan is in the Anchorage Ted Stevens Airport. She will take off for Nome within the hour to spend three weeks with her best friends and the family.

Boy, what a long weekend. We left yesterday, Saturday, to eat dinner at my mom's so we could stay the night and be closer to O'Hare. We had to wake up before 4 am to get her to her 8 am flight to Seattle. That construction on Route 88, especially near Route 83, is one hell of a mess.

She should have a great trip. I still count time by my 1984 vacation to my grandparents in California, during the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. I saw a torch runner in Paso Robles! That trip meant everything to me, one of the best times of my life. Morgan will think that about this adventure.

I asked her and hopefully she'll remember--she is supposed to email me a daily trip summary of what she did. I hope to share it.

Monday, July 14, 2008

China is as Orwellian as ever, even on a global scale

China even wants to extend its Orwellian practices on a global scale.

A newspaper called THE AGE reports in an article titled "Beijing's pledge of media freedom sounding distinctly Orwellian" that media coverage will probably edit out any bad things that might happen.

Chinese authorities have ordered a 10-second delay for Games broadcasts to avoid
"undesirable" incidents — such as protests or anti-Chinese slogans — being
viewed by the domestic masses, according to Hong Kong's Ming Pao daily

My God. In order to prevent the outside world from seeing anything related to a protest, they will delay and then remove any bad things.

Last night, we were watching a bit of Lou Dobbs on CNN and I said to my daughter Morgan, "Just remember how free you are right now, that this guy can call Bush and his administration all these names, and he is allowed to do it and you are allowed to watch it." I went on to explain and talk about these basic freedoms, how in some countries you would be shot or put away for life. I could see some unbelief in her eyes but I know she knows it's true.

This is another reason I teach the novel 1984.

Have I mentioned how I hate the Star Wars reissues?

It's like Big Brother in the novel 1984 rewriting history to make it fit in with current events.

All us real Star Wars fanatics know all about the end of Return of the Jedi, when they replaced the actor Sebastian Shaw as the spirit of Anakin Skywalker with Hayden Christiansen.

Here's the original, the one that we fan relish:

Here's the rerelease with Christiansen:

It irritates Star Wars fans, especially as I have written before why I think the spirit would be the old guy and not the bad young one.

This next one is one I have meant to capture for a while but with the help of YouTube, I actually can.

Right in the middle of The Empire Strikes Back, when Darth Vader contacts the Emperor during the famous asteroid field chase, Lucas felt the need to switch this one too.

Here are the two versions:

Why remove Luke's first name? Why bother with redoing it with the actor. You have to admit that the voice is better in the original. Now, admittedly, only someone like me, who has seen these movies dozens of times, can possibly spot this.

It just bugs me. Why does Lucas mess with a movie that many fans consider his best ever, if not one of the best movies ever? And in such slight ways.

Star Wars deleted scene

I was looking for something on YouTube and came across this. A "deleted" scene from Star Wars.

Absolutely hilarious.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Itty Bitty Nitpicking Complaint

On a historical note, the term nitpicking comes from the middle ages when people not washing their clothes would have to pick the little nits (bugs) from their clothes. So that's what I am doing here: picking a little nit.

I was watching Burn Notice on the until they took it off the bloody online feature yesterday, three episodes short of me finishing the first season in preparation for the second season premiere yesterday. Amy watched most of the first season but I never had, for some reason. I got into it, hopefully another show for us to get into together. I was three episodes short of catching up--I had been watching for about a week.

Then something dawned on me.

Burn Notice season one was only twelve episodes. I know, from watching online and the little counter in the play box, that each episode is roughly 41:53 long. The last episode of Star Trek I watched online was 50:23. And there were well over 24 episodes in each Star Trek season. I've also been watching, don't ask me why, the classic Battlestar Galactica online at The last episode of that I saw was 48:46.

Are we losing show? Do you notice that an hour's programming now contains 18 minutes of commercials?

That's one good thing about watching these things online.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Yet more pointless commentary on the original episodes of Star Trek

"The Corbomite Maneuver" Season 1, episode 10. This is a great early episode. Something is chasing the Enterprise to keep it from going about its mission. Amazingly Kirk wants to go around it and leave it alone until he can't. Mr. Bailey, a navigator before we ever encounter Chekhov, was a back-talking, yelling, scaredy-cat. And he is never seen again in Star Trek. Bones says Kirk must have "seen something in him" akin to Kirk eleven years ago, which is reminiscent of several characters in Trek episodes that Kirk likes to prod along. You just know that Bailey is going to blow up later in the episode, and you're right. Kirk's solution to the problem at hand is one of the best moves in all of Star Trek (and I think he has said it once before in a previously commented-upon episode, but for the life of me I can't remember which one now). Balok the alien says, "It was a pleasure testing you." Yet another super-entity with awesome technology that you wonder whatever happens to. Bailey ends up staying with Balok.

"Catspaw" Season 2, episode 7. What is up with Chekhov's hair in this one?? Was that the style when this was made? My God. In this episode, some guy named Jackson dies within the first minute after being beamed up from the surface of the planet. Some Mr. DeSalle is commanding officer--a guy seen once before in "This Side of Paradise." The cat becomes a woman and does her voodoo on the Enterprise, dangling an Enterprise pendant over a candle and causing the temperature to rise in it. Then, the bad aliens encase the ship in a force field block with a snap of the fingers. What power! And Kirk simply destroys the device. Some of these super-entities with limitless power get kind of boring.
"The Changeling" Season 2, episode 3. An attack out of nowhere and we find out it comes from NOMAD, a probe said to be launched in the early 2000s. (I love references to space time that never come to be--Lost in Space's Jupiter II was launched in 1997, Buck Rogers was frozen in the 1990s, Khan was ruler in the late 1990s after World War III [I find it remarkable that Roddenberry deemed World War III inevitable], in 2001 we are taking shuttles to the moon, etc.--But I digress.) "You are the Kirk, the Creator," NOMAD says, in a remarkable coincidence of the plotline of Star Trek: The Motion Picture with V'Ger (Voyager). NOMAD's prime purpose has been mixed with an alien probe, just like the movie. Bones gets to say, "He's dead, Jim" over Scotty's body. NOMAD easily "repairs" Scotty. Two guards get killed by NOMAD and then two more. All four are vaporized so they can't be miraculously repaired--why wasn't Scotty vaporized?
"This Side of Paradise" Season 1, episode 24. They travel to Omicron Seti III, an agricultural colony that is supposed to be dead from something called Berthold rays. Then this episode becomes a space version of that segment in The Odyssey entitled "The Lotus-Eaters." The colony is staying alive and drugged by plant spores. Spock knows one of the colonists, a girl named Layla, apparently a previous love interest. Spock is overtaken by emotion after ingesting the spores of the flower. Everyone becomes infected, all 430 of the ship's complement. Kirk is the only one immune, and if he had become infected, it would have been all over. Fascinating debate on whether ot take paradise or struggle. Kirk says,"Man stagnates if he has no ambition, no desire to be more than he is." Sandoval of the colony says, "We have what we need." Kirk replies, "Except the challenge!" Is it better to live in oblivious bliss if all your needs are met or struggle with independence? That DeSalle character is there.
"For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky" Season 3, episode 8. The Enterprise encounters a spaceship made into the center of an asteroid. It's on a collision course in a year and a half with a Federation planet. When Chekhov gives the heading of the asteroid, in numbers, Spock immediately, without consulting the computer, calculates that it will hit the planet in 300+ days (he gives the exact number but I forget). I didn't know Spock had all of the orbits of every planet in relation to the ship memorized, even in his Vulcan brain. It's like they didn't want to take the extra seconds to show Spock consulting a computer. They beam down and are, of course!, captured by the inhabitants, who are oblivious to the fact that it is in fact a spaceship. McCoy diagnoses himself with some rare illness without a cure, giving himself a year to live. Kirk then pimps out Bones to make moves on the High Priestess of Yonada, whom he marries in this episode, so Kirk and Spock can scout the asteroid. We find the asteroid comes from the planet of the Fabrini, whose sun went supernova 10,000 years ago and destroyed the solar system. What I don't understand is how Spock is so well versed on a people, a written language, and a solar system of a world that was destroyed 10 millenia ago. Sometimes Spock is just way too much of a walking encyclopedia. And why has this asteroid been flying for 10,000 years and still not reache its destination? That would put this Fabrini way out of Federation territory, especially in Kirk's time. And another miracle, Spock finds the cure for McCoy's uncurable disease in the Fabrini medical banks. McCoy and the High Priestess go their separate ways, however, Kirk says they can rendezvous in 390 days when the asteroid comes to the end of its journey. What happens to this woman?
"The Galileo Seven" Season 1, episode 16. This is one of those "Spock character" episodes. There is a Commissioner Ferris trying to get the Enterprise to rendezvous with another ship to get medicine for a plague to some colony. The rendezvous if five days away and it only takes three days to get there, so Kirk, in all his infinite wisdom, decides to play for a couple of days and send a scientific crew of seven to investigate a quasar. And, of course!, they get lost in space. There is, of course!, some kind of ion storm (a phrase that writers use to say, "OK, we need a plot complication that nobody can define! How about an ion storm!") that makes all the sensors on the Enterprise useless. So the shuttle crashes on type-M planet no less, and Spock is in command. You just love watching this one to see Kirk squirm, knowing he made a really stupid mistake. Mr. Boma, who we never see again in Star Trek, yells at Spock for his lack of emotion, driving home the Spock characterization of this episode. Mr. Latimer gets speared to death by the giant caveman-like indigenous inhabitants of the planet and Mr. Gaetano gets his phaser knocked from his hand by a thrown rock and then gets killed by the creature. (Yet it is amazing that all the other "thrown" spears look like they were thrown by wusses and wouldn't stick to the side of a barn.) Because of the lack of scanners on the Enterprise, Kirk launches another shuttlecraft, the Columbus, to investigate the planet. I guess he's not worried about losing another shuttle. At one point, Scotty says that in order to achieve orbit (he is with Spock on the planet in the downed shuttle), they'd have to lighten the load by 500 pounds. Spock says, "The weight of three grown men." Boma yells, "Who is to choose?" And I am sitting here wondering why they couldn't come back for a few men, but this was before the creatures were out there killing indiscriminately. Yet I am also wondering how ill-equipped a shuttlecraft must be. Wouldn't there be emergency supplies, phasers, force field generators, in case of accident? Another ensign of a search party, O'Neil, whom we do not ever see, is reported speared to death. How does a Starfeet landing party fall to cave-people with spears? Yet, surprisingly, this is an entertaining episode.
"Shore Leave" Season 1, episode 15. A strange episode, simply for the ramifications unto the Star Trek universe. An idyllic shore leave situation on a strange new world turns into a nightmare. Bones mentions Alice in Wonderland and then sees the rabbit and Alice in a rather goofy scene, even for Star Trek. We Trekkies can take badly costumed aliens, but throw in a white rabbit with a waistcoat and pocket watch shouting, "I'm late!" and we cringe. Kirk thinks about and then sees two people from his past, Finnegan and some girl named Ruth. (Another aside: How does Kirk manage to get another beautiful yeoman every other week? Why couldn't they stick around? Does Kirk engage in hanky-panky and the girls quit? Is that what happened to Yeoman Rand?) No matter how strange this episode, because as I sat there, I just couldn't help thinking of what would have happened if someone started thinking about naughty things, like when Bones is snuggling up to Yeoman Barrows. Bones ends up getting lanced to death by a knight ("I'm dead, Jim!"--Ha ha!). Kirk shoots the knight. A crewman named Angela gets shot by a warplane--do we ever find out her fate?--but Bones comes back as we find out this is an amusement planet, like a Star Trek Fantasy Island, where what you imagine comes true. That was at the end and it threw me--a planet that can make any fantasy come true? There would be wars fought over this planet! Better than a holodeck!

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Two things I never knew

This last weekend at my folks' house, I learned two trivial tidbits that I never knew.

1. Steak sauce has raisin paste or raisin juice in it.
2. Bobby Darin's "Mack the Knife" is a rather scary song.

More on "Mack the Knife":
We were doing karaoke through the cable TV briefly, just for a laugh, and Morgan was told to put it on "Mack"
--We realized that it was about a serial killer. Somehow that never became ingrained in me before
--I thought it always had said "Scarlet Pillows"
--I swear I had never heard "Oozin' life" before
--I thought to myself that I had just never seen the lyrics or understood it at all.

The Lyrics:
Oh, the shark, babe, has such teeth, dear
And it shows them pearly white
Just a jackknife has old MacHeath, babe
And he keeps it … ah … out of sight.
Ya know when that shark bites, with his teeth, babe
Scarlet billows start to spread
Fancy gloves, though, wears old MacHeath, babe
So there’s nevah, nevah a trace of red.
Now on the sidewalk … uuh, huh … whoo … sunny mornin’ … uuh, huh
Lies a body just oozin' life … eeek!
And someone’s sneakin' ‘round the corner
Could that someone be Mack the Knife?
A-there's a tugboat … huh, huh, huh … down by the river don’tcha know
Where a cement bag’s just a'droopin' on down
Oh, that cement is just, it's there for the weight, dear
Five'll get ya ten old Macky’s back in town.
Now, d'ja hear ‘bout Louie Miller?
He disappeared, babe
After drawin' out all his hard-earned cash
And now MacHeath spends just like a sailor
Could it be our boy's done somethin' rash?
Now … Jenny Diver … ho, ho … yeah … Sukey Tawdry
Ooh … Miss Lotte Lenya and old Lucy Brown
Oh, the line forms on the right, babe
Now that Macky’s back in town.
Aah … I said Jenny Diver … whoa … Sukey Tawdry
Look out to Miss Lotte Lenya and old Lucy Brown
Yes, that line forms on the right, babe
Now that Macky’s back in town …
Look out … old Macky is back!!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Secrets of the Quarter Bin

The Quarter Bin is one of the true joys of a comic book aficionado. As I told my daughter, a true comic collector reads his comics, and he tries to get as many as he can as cheaply as he can.

When I go to those itty-bitty comic conventions at hotel conference rooms, there are no parading costumed freaks like at Comic-Con. There are no panels or symposiums or secrets about upcoming projects revealed. There are no exclusive action figures or exclusive variant covers to hoard. No, there are only comic books and only a bit of comic related merchandise. Simple coolness.

I always head for the cheapo bins. The Quarter Bins. Lately, those bins are getting hit by rising prices too, just like everything else. I now have to pay 3 for $1 (insert sarcastic shock here) or my favorite area: 50 comics for 20 bucks.

I love this bin because they literally throw everything in it. Remember, unless a comic book is in near mint condition (especially now with those CGC indicators like 9.4 or something), they are not worth anything. Really. A comic that you think today is worth $100 ain't worth nothing ten years from now. Don't believe me? When I was younger, one of the hottest issues to get but you probably missed was NEW MUTANTS #87, the first appearance of a really bad new hero called CABLE. In a few months, you could not buy it for less than $85. I just searched online and found it for $35. Comics are only worth what somebody wants to pay for it. Only truly historic issues are worth anything, and now you have to pay to get them CGC graded to insure and add value. But then you can never open it again.

So the Quarter Bin is where we stalwarts go who actually read comics. I picked up that NEW MUTANTS #87 second printing, just to see what all the fuss was about. Only a mediocre comic, if you ask me. Only worth a quarter, except if you are a Cable fan. You can get anything in the Quarter Bin.

But there are certain rules I have come to follow when browsing the Quarter Bin, otherwise it can be more of a headache than buying the quarter comics.

  1. Do not buy parts of a limited series. Unless you can pick up the entire series, don't bother. You will only find yourself hunting down other issues, taking more time and money than you saved on the quarter comic. Especially follow this rule if the comic comes from an independent publisher--the print run is too small and you will never find a back issue without paying an arm and a leg. I once found some issues of a CSI mini-series, a series I never would have bought full-price, but without the issue in between, I was lost. The issue I wanted was now $5 at Mile High. Now it isn't worth it.
  2. Don't buy any comic that says "TO BE CONTINUED" on the last page. Trust me, you'll regret it because you will be searching again. That 1970s Superman, with that great cover, was really cool, but now you are trying to find the part two, and you don't want to spend $4 or more. I did this once on, for some reason, Korak, Son of Tarzan, which unbeknowst to me at the time was part one of a two-parter. I had to hunt down the resolution of the story, which wasn't all that good in the first place.
  3. Buy any and all ANNUAL comics (unless part of a limited series, you know how some annuals do that too). Annuals are bigger than average comics and have reading value tons more than a quarter. This is also a great way for checking out new titles.
  4. Concentrate on buying any single contained stories. Great titles are like those great DC horror comics from the 1970s. Also, any Marvel Team-Up and DC Comics Presents or Brave and the Bold are single stories (I believe).
  5. Buy any thick trade paperback or reprint collection if you can find one. I just got a reprint collection of The Many Deaths of the Batman which reprints Batman #433-435. That's now three comics for a quarter. Also got Wolverine: Inner Fury which originally sold for $5.95. Crappy condition with a price sticker on the front cover that won't come off but any Wolverine trade paperback, with Sienkiewicz no less, that was originally $5.95 is worth a quarter.
  6. Buy what you are currently collecting. Like right now, I am collecting Marvel NEW UNIVERSE titles. I usually go in order, five or ten issues at a time, through Mile High Comics. However, if I see one that I don't have, even if it is out of order, I will jump on it. Also, Conan. Or Kull.
  7. Buy any comic book that boasts 64 pages (or more like some of those 100 page comics like Batman Family). Even if there is a "To Be Continued" it is worth it.
  8. Try not to buy a title you don't collect just to "try it." For instance, if you buy one of those Grant Morrison Animal Man because you heard so much about it, it will leave you more bewildered than before you picked it up. Trust me, it isn't worth it. You'll never get the rest of the issues and there will be these oddballs in your collection that you don't know what to do with. Go buy the trade instead--collected in one neat volume.
  9. Pick up any first issue that strikes your fancy. I found Grimjack #1 from First Comics. Always wanted it. Now if I like it and want to start collecting, I have the best point from which to start.
  10. Buy anything that strikes your fancy. You can buy a cool cover for the cover alone. If it is something you don't ever think you'll see again, like those Comico Robotech comics from the 80s, you can snatch those up.

Remember, comics are only worth reading. That's why I collect. And that's why I linger in the Quarter Bins.

Monday, July 07, 2008

The Prisoner Puzzle

The Prisoner Puzzle

Admittedly, you have to be seriously into The Prisoner to find this fascinating, but I do. It's like literary criticism on the show, from the creator's point of view.

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four

Information about the end of the series:

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Uncle Cthulhu

Uncle Cthulhu wants you to read more Lovecraft horror.

Search online and you can find a ton of Lovecraft.

Saturday, July 05, 2008


After the Robert Jordan books, I am hooked on Conan the Barbarian.

The comics. The books. The Robert E. Howard originals I can get on the 'net.

Conan is super-cool.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Don't Call Me Chief, Hembeck

That's Aquaman picking up a sandwich with his "power" saying, "My favorite--tuna fish!" Scanned from DC Comics Presents #7, March 1979.
Krypto, not Eartho, scanned from Detective Comics #495, October 1980.

What a bad pun, scanned out of Flash # 278 from 1979.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Evel Knievel toy ad

This one sure brings back the 1970s. Evel Knievel toys! I vaguely remember some kid down the street having one, and the figure on the bike flopping all over the place. We thought it was pretty cool.

Some other 1970s comic book ads

Sea-Monkeys! That says it all. Remember being disappointed when they didn't look like this picture? Yet only $1.25 plus postage.
This Hostess ad series ran for quite a bit throughout all comics, Marvel and DC. Various heroes were featured. I just love this one because Cheetah, the villain, says, "MMMMM, what a smart puss."
Superman PSA about family life and corporal punishment. I simply love the audacity of the guy having absolutely no fear of Superman by saying, "I'm his father! I have a right to hit him!" I guess he never heard the Jim Croce song about tugging on Superman's cape. And then Superman solves it all by saying, "Let's go to counseling!"
Then this ad for Sea World just for pure WTF gaping. Sea World. Waterskiing. Superheroes. Let's waterski with superhero costumes on! That'll attract people. (Why would Superman be waterskiing?--I bet that was asked by many a young kid at the time.)
This ad perplexes me. I know that daytime TV has plenty of ads for finishing school and alternative colleges and whatnot. If you're home, you might not be at work or at school. This one is geared toward WOMEN, mothers especially. I at first started wondering what mothers were reading DC comic books in the 1970s, admittedly a mostly male medium then even more so than today. Then I realized that maybe the mother must be reading to her kids. Which may be a catch-22--does a woman who never finished high school read to her kids? Hopefully even more so, trying to give her kids a better life. I just love near the bottom it says, "So if you're 17 or over, mail this coupon below for our free booklet." (I hope there were no 16 year old mothers going, "Shoot, I'm not old enough.") I am sure they looked into the advertising demographics for this, but just realizing who their target audience is is sort of depressing.

Old 1970s Superman ads

I was reading some old 1970s DC comic books and it was just a stroll down Memory Lane seeing some of these ads.
Imagine this cool teaser poster of the first Superman movie. "You'll believe a man can fly." And DC was revving up for it. With Marlon Brando in it, I bet that put some serious credibility into it. Remember, he got top billing.

Imagine celebrating for the movie and the 40th anniversary of Superman, especially as this year, 2008, marks the 70th anniversary of the first appearance of Superman. I would love to get my hands on that Collector's Album.

DC also ran a contest where you could win a role in the upcoming Superman movie. I wonder who had the luck to win that! DC made you collect these "tokens" in their mags to spell out various names of Superman, then you could send those in for a chance to win. Clipping the old comics!

This ad has some toys of the Superman family I wish I could lay my mitts on. There was Superman, Lex Luthor, Jor-El, and General Zod and they were $10.95 each at the time of 40-cent comic books! Those must have been some amazing figures for the time. Also, the Batman Utility Belt looks cool. I would order that Wonder Woman set for Madison now if I could. The Kryptonite is probably the greatest gag--I bet it was a painted rock.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

The Chembot

I saw an intriguing video clip on channel G4's Attack of the Show this evening (I was watching it after Ninja Warrior and after the G4 Comic-Con '08 Preview).

They're going to make a liquid robot which they likened unto the T-1000 of Terminator 2. Remember that liquid Terminator that changed form and shape?

The article also briefly mentioned robot fish for the military.

Note to self: Look up current advances in nanobot and robotic technology.

Are we closer to the robots taking over? All the science fiction predicts it.

Prisoner remake!!

ITV has confirmed the remake!

He will play the part of Number Two alongside the US actor Jim Caviezel, who has
been chosen to reprise the role of Number Six.
The iconic role was played in the original ITV series by Patrick McGoohan, who may make a cameo appearance in the new series.

It is exciting! The possibilities in a new political world and a new decade. Two top notch actors already signed on. McGoohan making a cameo as being essential to the success, especially as a nod to fans of the original series.

Remember, the British have been successful lately with relaunches, most notably Doctor Who.

Oh, I hope this takes off.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Just shy of 40 mill

New record for 3D Pinball Space Cadet! 39,765,750! I was upset for about half a second for not hitting 40 million, but I just busted my old top score by almost 19 million points.

Latest Star Trek episodes and more pop culture

"Balance of Terror" pictures. Still one of the best episodes. The Romulan Star Empire is pictured on the map for the first time, and the first mention of the Romulan Neutral Zone. Ever wonder how they make a two-dimensional map of space? Makes me always remember that great line from Star Trek II when Spock says, "His pattern indicates...two-dimensional thinking." Kirk responds with, "Z minus ten thousand meters," referring to the Z-axis.

"Wolf in the Fold" Season 2, episode 15. Space belly dancers! This is the one with Jack the Ripper as the malevolent space entity. Scotty has "fallen under suspicion" for three murders, even though the direct evidence of him being the only one hovering over the three dead bodies with the knife or blood in his hand. Direct correlation with the The Next Generation episode from season one called "Justice" where Wesley has to be saved from the planet in direct violation of the Prime Directive. Kirk says, "If they want to arrest him, try to, even convict him, I have to let them." The only really bad thing about this episode is the Psycho-tricorder that gives a detailed account of everything in a person's conscious or subconscious mind for the last 24 hours. This device, thank goodness, was never used again. Scotty "kills" Lt. Karen Tracy as one of the three victims, although Kirk couldn't know.

"Obsession" Season 2, episode 13. A vampire space-cloud! This episode is kind of like a role-reversal of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Kirk is obsessed with hunting down this strange cloud from his past that decimated the crew of his first deep space assignment, the USS Farragut. He will even withhold important medicines from a colony in order to hunt it down. Neat episode about guilt and recriminations. It opens with no less than three red-shirted crewmen, just waiting to die on the planet's surface. Two die immediately by the strange cloud that sucks red corpuscles from bodies, and another, Rizzo, will die later in sickbay. (One interesting note is that McCoy uses cordrazine, that intense drug that makes him crazy in the classic episode City on the Edge of Forever.) One Deus ex machina is that the new security officer is Ensign Garrivick, the son of the Captain of the Farragut, prompting Kirk even more guilt on this specific mission. They go down to the planet again, with four more obvious cannon fodder red-shirted crewmen. One more dies and one more placed in critical condition (his status is never updated). Later, when they chase the cloud through space, one more crewman dies and another is put into critical condition (again, no status update). So, if those critical conditions stabilized, I place the deathcount of red-shirted crewmen in this episode at 5. Good episode though.

"A Piece of the Action" Season 2, episode 17. One of the great episodes if you go into it with that tongue-in-cheek attitude. The Enterprise visits a world that was previously visited by the USS Horizon from a time before the Prime Directive. They inadvertantly left a book on Chicago gangs of the 1920s, published in 1992. Kirk must retain control. One of these reasons to slip into this episode in the right mindset is the amount of times Kirk and his men get captured. Starfleet, phasers and all, getting overtaken by bad mobsters with tommy guns. It's like they forget that their phasers can stun. I would love to see the obvious sequel to this, because McCoy forgets his communicator. The planet because of their susceptibility to imitation, would then become like Starfleet. That could be a fun revisitation of a concept.

"The Deadly Years" Season 2, episode 12. The crew comes down with some kind of accelerated aging sickness after visiting a planet. This is one of those episodes that seem to just go through the motions, almost like they just come up with a concept and write up what would happen. This week it's getting old, one week it was getting a virus that made them too happy to do their work, next week it could be getting young or reverse aging. It's almost like you don't have to watch. But they have to do these episodes. One woman does die from the excessive aging. And, just to add a touch of stress and danger, Commodore Stocker assumes command and takes them into the Romulan Neutral Zone. But everything is cured in the nick of time.

"The Doomsday Machine" Season 2, episode 6. We meet Matt Decker, captain of the Constellation, the father of Will Decker from Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Kirk is stuck on the Constellation and there is a pretty good pulling-rank battle with Spock and Decker. The "battle" with Decker makes Kirk's handling of Will Decker in The Motion Picture completely sensical now, as Kirk was always giving breaks to sons, other crew, like the kid in "Obsession" that reminded him of himself. Spock says, "Severe casualties on decks 3 and 4" with that unemotional air, but it was completely not Kirk's fault as Decker chased the machine. At one point, it is funny that a thing that can eat whole planets, whole solar systems, is troubled by an explosion of a shuttlecraft, and further extinguished by the 97-megaton explosion of the USS Constellation. So if this thing managed to get to the colony on Rigel, and there were any ships in orbit or on the surface (or a power plant), would the machine have died? And then, why does Kirk rig a thirty-second delay for detonation? Why not three minutes, or whatever? This is a great episode but when you subject it to the nitpicking geek logic, it gets screwy.

"Miri" Season 1, episode 8. Another Earth with the same continents and everything is discovered. The one rotten thing is that the story never explains why the planet was a duplicate of Earth, or even why the story called for that. It was like they wanted to do a time travel story of the future of Earth, but then switched it to another planet. This one, a really good episode actually, brought up a couple stupid geek questions. 1: How are three punches to the face better than being stunned by a phaser? The opponent died immediately thereafter. Whether he was attacking or not, how are physical punches to the face less damage than the phaser stun? 2: Kirk and the party contract the disease. This brings about the most obvious science fiction question asking if we have learned anything from H.G. Wells' The War of the Worlds, or learning from the Aztecs being decimated by disease from the New World. Let's just beam down anywhere and hope we don't contract anything. In the end, Kirk punches one opponent to death and "stuns" another one to death (only because of the sickness and being on the verge of death anyway), so I guess that kind of answers the question of stunning or punching, although I would still think stunning would be better. This is the precedent for the novel The Cry of the Onlies, which I am going to have to find and read now.

"A Taste of Armageddon" Season 1, episode 23. (Off topic, it is funny that the commercial on the website for this one was for Benefiber, the clear "tasteless" fiber supplement--is it a coincidence?) This Star Trek installment has a strange but interesting logic about it. That's what makes a great episode, where you can honestly see the point on the other side of the argument, whether you agree with it or not. The planet had made war "neat and painless," as Kirk says. You can kind of see the strange logic if your culture was somehow stronger than individual lives. This is another episode where a code word would be efficient, and they have a voice-analyzer in this episode--where that one goes in subsequent episodes, I don't know. Spock manages to do some kind of Vulcan mind-touch thing through a wall! Compare this episode to The Next Generation episode "Justice."

"Amok Time" Season 2, episode 1. The Spock mating ceremony installment. It's that Ponfar we see again in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. You know, for a Vulcan who is known to be stoic in his demeanor, there are quite a few episodes that show his full range of emotions. This one has Spock racing to Vulcan in order to mate with his betrothed. Bones says, "He'll die, Jim," if you don't get him to mate! It's amazing that the medical corps in Starfleet would not have 100% medical data on a race, one of whom is "the best first officer in the fleet." Spock does say it is for no offworlder to know about, but it's still funny--what if it happened during a real mission, or too far from Vulcan? Spock's betrothed, T'Pring, is also mentioned again later in that really good novel I read this year, The Lost Years by J.M. Dillard. Kirk must fight Spock with weapons that look like sharpened shovels with weights at the end. Bones gets to say "He's dead" over Kirk's body, amazingly having a neuroparalyzer, to simulate death, just on his person when he is supposed to be going to a wedding. The one cool element is how T'Pring plays Spock--she is one cold and calculating Vulcan bitch, that's for sure.

"Who Mourns for Adonais?" Season 2, episode 2. They meet the Greek god Apollo! That "What If?" aspect to this episode is cool, the possiblity of an advanced alien race coming to ancient Earth and being seen as gods is extremely intriguing. In a monotheistic aspect, showing the relation of religion to Star Trek in one sentence, Kirk says to Apollo, "Man has no need of gods--we find the one quite adequate." On another note, I was thinking during this episode that it would be kind of cool to have some Star Trek omnipotence battle. The Organians, Q, Trelane, the Talosians, these Greek gods, could all vie for power or something. The Enterprise could prevent it all. Might be worth a revisit in a Star Trek novel.

"The Menagerie-Part 1" and "The Menagerie-Part 2" Season 1, episodes 11 and 12 (and for some reason, here the internal episode numbering doesn't work, as there was another episode 12 of season 1 on another page; however, "The Menagerie" being the only two-parter of the entire series could throw off the numbering system.) This one was written by Gene Roddenberry, apparently trying to incorporate all that footage from the original pilot episode called "The Cage," the one that was deemed "too cerebral" for television. Spock gets away with quite a lot of shit sometimes--hijacking the Enterprise to take previous captain Pike to Talos IV, faking orders and Kirk's voice, and assaulting Starbase personnel. We find that to visit Talos IV is the only death penalty left on the books. They basically just sit around and watch "The Cage" for the bulk of the story, during Spock's court-martial. Then all is hunky-dory as we find that due to Pike's "historic" importance, the ban is lifted this one time by Starfleet Command. Spock's disobedience is also negated. One thing bugs me: how did Spock get in touch with the Talosians and what did they really want with Pike? The Talosians appear to have no range barrier, so they could pop up again at any time.

Comics read lately:

From the Funeral for a Friend and Reign of the Supermen storyline: Superman: The Man of Steel #20, 21, 22, Action Comics #685, 686, 687, Superman #76, 77, 78, The Adventures of Superman #498, 499, 500 and Justice League America #70

Star Trek #5, 6, 7, 8 (1990) more Peter David goodness.

Batman #433, 434, 435 "The Many Deaths of the Batman" storyline by John Byrne and Jim Aparo that was very influential to me getting into the DC Universe after the 1989 Batman movie.

Super Powers (Volume 2, 1985) #1, 2 with the magic of Jack Kirby actually drawing the issues, not just plotting them. It's like classic Justice League of America from the 60s.

Mister Miracle #1, 2, 3, 4 (1989)

Action Comics Annual #11 (2007) written with Richard Donner of the Superman movie featuring Zod and Zod's son.

Conan and the Midnight God #1-5 (Dark Horse, 2006-2007) absolutely awesome Conan. Writer Joshua Dysart really knows his Conan. I loved it.

The Megas #1 (Virgin, 2008) what if America was a monarchy?

Superman #675

DC Comics Presents #46 (1982) Superman and the Global Guardians. The hero Green Fury will soon become Fire in one of my favorite titles of all time, the late 80s Justice League by Giffen and DeMatteis and Maguire.

Deathstroke the Terminator #5--it's amazing the more I read his solo exploits that Deathstroke is not the super-intelligent, cold, calculating villain that DC and Identity Crisis portray him to be sometimes. So far in this solo series, he really gets his ass kicked a lot.

London Horror Comic #1 (2007, print form from Only the last story is any good at all--in fact it is one of the best horror stories I've ever read.


Romeo Must Die with Jet Li. I liked this one but didn't like it. The action sequences were great, the story was really good, the twist at the end was cool. Somehow, the slow bits really slow it down.

Pathfinder. Very good, especially the beauty of how the movie looks. I liked the first half much better than the last bit, especially a little disconcerted when they got captured. But it was really good.

Bill Engvall: 15 Degrees Off Cool. I was in the right frame of mind when I watched this because I really laughed. He is a downright funny storyteller and I actually think he is getting better. It really helps in that I am a family man in really understanding his astute look at his, and what appears to be my, life.

Delta Farce. I actually got a kick out of this one. If you go into it knowing you are watching a Larry the Cable Guy and Bill Engvall movie, you'll laugh. I mean, these idiots invade Mexico thinking it was Iraq--what's not to laugh at!

Aeon Flux. This movie was much better than I expected and much better than any of the previews indicated. For some reason those previews concentrated on her acrobatic abilities when it was really about taking down a dystopian society. If I had known that from the previews, I probably would have watched it a lot earlier. I really enjoyed it, enough to make me now seek out the anime Aeon Flux that it was based on.

Jumper. I was astonished over how much I liked this one. I never felt slighted--the characters all did what I expected them to do. I now have to go find the 1992 novel that it was based on, and there are sequels too! See, if I want to dive further into it, yet another universe for me to explore, I must have really liked it.

Cadfael: The Raven in the Foregate. I love watching Derek Jacobi act. I am entranced by his craft.

Battlestar Galactica: Razor. Some kind of extra movie from the regular season episodes and I love this universe.


Battletech: Storms of Fate By Loren Coleman. I didn't like this one in the Battletech series at all. I almost put it down. Only the interspersed battletech action sequences kept me reading.

The Crazy Horse Electric Game by Chris Crutcher. This is one of the books for my freshmen literature circles and I really liked it. Liked the second half better than the first half. This is not your watered down young adult fare. This book doesn't lie and doesn't pull punches. End was very good because it does not become an after-school special. I will easily be ably to highly recommend this to my students.

Conan the Defender. Conan the Unconquered. Robert Jordan has made me a real Conan freak lately.

Also read two Sherlock Holmes stories, "The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor" and "The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet." The latter uses the famous phrase: It is an old maxim of mine that when you have excluded the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.