31 May 2012

Now That Is A Great Big Pile Of Meat

The news has been dryer then the Gobi in a heat wave lately, so here is a picture of a sandwich. It weighs 28 pounds, 25.5lbs of which are 35 different kinds of meat. Really? 35 kinds of meat? There has to be some doubling up in there.

I have a very strict "don't eat anything bigger then your mouth" policy, so this monstrosity from chef Tristan Welch, made to celebrate Food Network UK's new show Man v. Food, is not my cup of tea.

At the very least it gives me an excuse to post this clip.

Via Geekologie, where you can get the 'recipe'.

Leonard Nimoy Talks About... Damned Near Everything

I'd listen to Leonard Nimoy list the ingredients of a candy bar. So, to listen to his talk for 15 minutes on all aspects of his career - not just Star Trek - is just gold. Some of the more interesting points are the often forgotten topic of how Star Wars' success is pretty much the reason Star Trek exists past the original series. He also touches on type casting (he's in favour of it), and how the original series was sometimes better at great moments, rather then greatness as a whole. Which, I think is true of the entire franchise.

And, yes, he does do a William Shatner impersonation. And it is terrible.

But I love the line "He went through cycles. Including death and resurrection, that's a pretty good cycle."

Via the Mary Sue.

The Dark Knight Rises Might Suck? Wait, What?

An inflammatory title, I know, but for the first time, I think I'm worried about The Dark Knight Rises. Why? Watch this new TV spot, and then we'll talk.

He's retired? Really.

I love the Nolan Batman films. They are as close to perfect representations of the character as we've ever got from a non animated source. But what fundamental misunderstanding of the character did Nolan tap into when he decided that Batman would retire. I get that Bruce was tested by the events of the Dark Knight. That he had to sacrifice everything: his love, his morality (even if it was a lie), his very idea of what Batman is. But he came out on top. He refused to play the Joker's game, and he took the action that only Batman could, because, and if you missed this then you obviously weren't paying attention, Batman is an idea. He can't be hurt, or bargained with. He has no ego to bruise.

So, assuming that the police think Batman killed a bunch of cops, and Harvey Dent. Assuming that they are hunting him, that every officer in the city has spent the last eight years using every resource to try to find him and bring him to justice, you know what Batman would do? He wouldn't run away, lock himself in his manor and hope for the best. He's put on that suit every damned night, and he be out there, on every roof top and in every shadow. Because:

Batman doesn't stop because people are looking to hurt him, he puts a florescent yellow oval on his chest and makes himself a target. Batman doesn't rest because he's tired or sad, he channels that into making certain that every criminal in Gotham wets himself at the thought of committing a crime, and still goes out there just in case. Even if the Dent Law made Gotham into some strange utopia, where no crime is committed, ever, Batman wouldn't lie down. He'd still be out there, just to make sure, just in case there was that one dumb guy to decided Gotham was ripe for the picking. He fought his way through time. This is a man who honed his body and mind, for years, sacrificing his own youth and well being into becoming a living weapon capable of destroying anything that might harm Gotham, not so that he could be happy, because that's never going to happen. He does it so that no one else has to. So that no other little boy has to see his parents gunned down in front of him. Bruce Wayne is Batman so that no one else has to be.

And if he gives up on Batman, then he's failed. I really hope Nolan hasn't missed the mark on this, because that would be tragic.

After the jump I've placed another new TV spot, wherein Alfred says Batman isn't Batman anymore. Which makes my heart hurt.

In Which Flavour Do You Prefer Your Creature?

As I previously reported, the National Theatre is bringing Danny Boyle's Olivier Award winning production of Frankenstein to a movie theatre near you. They're calling it an encore performance, because apparently it already aired in March, but I never heard hide or hair of it, so I'm excited.

The main draw is the cast of Sherlock/The Hobbit star Benedict Cumberbatch and Dark Shadows survivor Jonny Lee Miller alternating the roles of Victor and the Creature, a pair of roles they now share an Olivier Award for. The encore will broadcast throughout North America and the United Kingdom under the following schedule:
Benedict Cumberbatch as the Creature on Thursday June 14th, and Saturday June 16th.
Jonny Lee Miller as the Creature on Thursday June 21st and Saturday June 23rd.
I've got my tickets, for both shows. I suggest you check your local listings, and get yours.

Via Cineplex.

30 May 2012

Giving A Voice To The Clown Prince Of Crime, And The Dark Knight

I've spoken of my deep admiration of voice actors before. I think, to be in control of only a character's voice, you're responsible for imbuing that character with so much more authenticity then if you also had to contribute a physical performance. Adam Baldwin, during his appearance at the Ottawa Comiccon, made it very clear that he's of the opinion that voice actors are the most professional, talented people you can work with.

Which is why I love behind the scenes stuff like this, seeing how the actors craft their performance. It doesn't hurt that it's Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill performing their character defining interpretations of Batman and Joker. And it's real shiny that the footage splits screens, showing them perform while also showing the finished product. It also made my heart happy to see that they performed the roles together, rather then cold-recording.

Via The Mary Sue.

In The Game Of Thrones, You Win Or You Take 10 Minutes Longer To die

Courtesy of HBO
The final episode of Game of Thrones season two, Valar Morghulis, will be 70 minutes long, adding an extra 10 minutes on to the standard run time, to give all the story lines a chance to resolve themselves, or at least get to a point where they can hang off a cliff side until next April. And they've got to get through a lot of stuff next week, none of which I'll mention here because of spoilers. So much, though, that I expect some stuff to be left untouched until next year. For better or worse.

The final numbers aren't in yet from Sunday's broadcast of Blackwater, but it's been receiving almost unanimous fan fare. The Cast of Kings podcast on /Film described it as an episode you could show to anyone, regardless of having seen the rest of the series, or even a fan of the genre, and it would be a triumphant stand alone episode of television.

As the show's creators tells it, they nearly had to skip the battle, setting the entire episode in the Keep and the various war camps throughout the land, having the battle being reported on via crow. They went to HBO, hat in hand, and asked for the money Oliver Twist style, and got it. Considering the final product, HBO might be more inclined to give them some extra cash each season in exchange for something equally impressive.

Which I would be against, for two reasons. As I said in my review, Game of Thrones isn't an action movie, it's a character study. They don't need big set pieces and explosions, because those are distractions from the actual purpose for the show's existence: to tell interesting stories involving complex character. If it were being produced by Michael Bay, things might be different. But this show is made by smart people. Luckily, except for the Battle of Castle Black, and the events of Daznak's Pit (if you haven't read the books, don't search for those, because of spoilers), nothing coming up in the books is as grand and expensive to make as the Battle of Blackwater. The rest of the major events tend towards the intimate, and therefore no more complex then anything else the show does on a weekley basis.

Secondly, and more cautiously, the budget must remain manageable. The reported cost of the entirety of season one was $60 million. A drop in the bucket for The Avengers or John Carter, but that makes it the most expensive television series on TV today. Understand, if GoT was on NBC, there would be six characters in the cast, everything would be set in King's Landing, and their armour would be made out of duct tape.

HBO cancelled Deadwood after three years, which cost about the same as GoT, because it was too expensive. HBO cancelled Rome after two seasons, which cost about twice as much as GoT. They cancelled Carnivale after two seasons, and it only cost a third of GoT. Certainly, GoT is far more popular then any of those series ever were, but money is money, and too much makes people nervous. Would you rather the show remain consistent, but lack grandeur, or be more like Sunday night, ride high for a while, then either have to scale back as the budget gets cut, or worse yet, get cancelled without resolving the story lines. To film the remaining three books that exist, it'll take another three, maybe four seasons. And there are two books yet to come. The path they are on now, the show looks to run eight to ten seasons, at least. That's a long time for viewership to remain as high as it is, for the writing to remain quality, and for HBO to keep giving them the better part of $100 million a year. Frankly, it is a lot to ask.

Via Den of Geek and EW.

The Long Deep Tea-Time Claims Dirk Gently

Courtesy of the BBC.

The BBC has officially cancelled Dirk Gently.

I have to say, I'm not surprised. Setting aside truly undeserved comparisons with Steven Moffat's Sherlock, the show was something of a creative failure. Of the four episodes, the pilot included, only the pilot and the second episodes were enjoyable. Perhaps because of three separate writers writing stand alone episodes, the show seemed to default back to a status quo at the end of every episode, remaining disjointed and unconnected, foregoing every bit of characterisation, growth, and likablity that it manged to create from episode to episode. That, and only the pilot and episode two made any sort of internal sense.

I'm disappointed that this wasn't a better series, and therefore, a bigger success. I feel that Dirk is a character that could work in a visual medium, but this clearly wasn't his time. I'm somewhat glad to see it gone, and hope for greener pastures for Dirk.

You can read my reviews of Episodes One, Two and Three at those links.

Via Den of Geek.

Eagles Are Turning People Into Horses

There was no new episode of Eureka this week, and thus, there is no review, though I can take a stab at it if you want: something bad happens, probably Fargo's fault, Carter doesn't understand, but bravely risks his own life to stop it. Hilarity ensues. That's probably pretty close.

Anyway, because I've got nothing else, I'm just going to post this short film by the guys who Joss Whedon taught how to poop, wherein eagles are turning people into horses.

Full disclosure: every time I watch this thing, I laugh so hard my legs hurt. Every damn time.

29 May 2012

Two Stories I Don't Care About

 Two news stories hit the web late last week that I haven't mentioned, and had no intention of doing so. And yet, here we are. One concerns GI Joe, and the other concerns The Walking Dead.

First, G.I. Joe: Retaliation was pushed back a full year for 3-D conversion. Two things: A) bullshit. 3-D conversion takes two weeks, tops. Many other films have done the 3-D conversion in far less time. Sure, it sucks, but 3-D always sucks. There hasn't been a single example of it that has made anyone, anywhere, go "yes, that was completely necessary. This film would have been unwatchable if I hadn't had to watch it though plastic glasses over my actual glasses, and a minor headache" Every review I've read over the past three years has ended thusly: "And don't bother to see it in 3-D, it adds nothing to the experience." Or there abouts. My money, the movie really sucks, and the studio doesn't want to completely embarrass itself in the middle of summer, so it pushes it to the dead zone of next March, where it can arrive and disappear without incident. 

And B) I don't care. I never watched the cartoon, never collected the figures, and thought the first movie was terrible. So, I'm not going to waste money seeing a sequel to a film I didn't like, starring a pile of actors I don't care for, in a story I have no emotional investment in. Congratulations Hasbro. Between this, Transformers, and Battleship, you've ruined the movie experience for another generation. 

Secondly, last week someone released the first picture of Michonne from the third season of The Walking Dead. She is, apparently, a character with a sword. I'm not going to post that picture here, you can find it yourself. You know why? Because The Walking Dead has thus far been an unencumbered mess that doesn't deserve to be considered good television. I've said so before. Now that everyone worth watching on the show has left to be in Frank Darabont's LA Noir (except Laurie Holden, who I expect to die in the first episode back and scoot on over to HBO), I'll be watching that show instead of this dreck.

Via Topless Robot.

Pacific Rim Sounds Completely Insane

Pacific Rim will be director Guillermo del Toro's first film in 5 years, after Hellboy 2, and after the depressive episodes that were the failures of The Hobbit and At The Mountains of Madness. The creative process is a delicate thing, and I can only imagine that having those projects ripped out from under him would be like watching a child die. So it's a good thing that one of his projects actually got a budget, and was allowed to film, though based on this description, I'm assuming that del Toro just flat out lied to the studio when they asked him what he was making. Like, it he said it was about a teenage girl dying of cancer, or something. Because I honestly don't know how, if they turned down Lovecraft, he ever got them to make this:
When legions of monstrous creatures, known as Kaiju, started rising from the sea, a war began that would take millions of lives and consume humanity’s resources for years on end. To combat the giant Kaiju, a special type of weapon was devised: massive robots, called Jaegers, which are controlled simultaneously by two pilots whose minds are locked in a neural bridge. But even the Jaegers are proving nearly defenseless in the face of the relentless Kaiju. On the verge of defeat, the forces defending mankind have no choice but to turn to two unlikely heroes—a washed-up former pilot (Charlie Hunnam) and an untested trainee (Rinko Kikuchi)—who are teamed to drive a legendary but seemingly obsolete Jaeger from the past. Together, they stand as mankind’s last hope against the mounting apocalypse.
I'm a fan of the original Godzilla films, and MST3K's take on the Gamera series is gold. But I have no idea what to expect from this film. It's del Toro, so I can expect awesomeness, but still. This stands to be next summer's biggest anomaly. And, if it makes enough money to get him some traction again, it could get del Toro's other dream projects off the ground. And I'm all for that.

Via Pajiba.

Natalie Portman To Head West In New Film

I'm a big fan of westerns. They're my favourite genre. Science fiction might be more pervasive in the modern culture, and might be more flexible in terms of telling metaphoric stories, but I feel the western is the best genre for character study, especially the more modern, deconstructed western, like Unforgiven, 3:10 to Yuma, and the series Deadwood. I keep an ear out for any news of new westerns being made. A couple years ago, I was in my glory when 3:10, The Assassination of Jesse James, Appaloosa, Seraphim Falls, and No Country for Old Men were all released on top of one another, despite that half of those are utter crap.

So, I was excited to hear that Jane Got A Gun, which is kind of a crap title, will be getting made. It was one of the 2011 Blacklist, usually a solid source for unproduced scripts. And, it will be starring (and produced by) Natalie Portman, who I usually enjoy when she's appearing in something I can actually sit through. She has an Erdős–Bacon number of 6, so I'll let the fact that she's a vegan slide. Here's the description:
“A woman whose outlaw husband returns home barely alive and riddled with bullet wounds. She is forced to reach out to an ex-lover and ask if he will help defend her farm when her husband’s gang eventually tracks him down to finish the job.”
You might wonder why, if I like Westerns so much, why haven't I mentioned Quentin Tarentino's Django Unchained before now. Well, that is because, unlike many, I'm not that big a fan of Tarentino's. His movies are super laxative ego trips, overwhelming good ideas with cinephilic in-jokes and vanity shots. And he's directly responsible for an entire generation of independent film makers that believe filling your movie with mindless pop culture trivia and Cole Notes-style philosophy, that it constitutes being smart. That being said, Jackie Brown is still the fifth best adaptation of an Elmore Leonard book.

Via /Film.

[Review] - Game of Thrones, Season 2 Episode 9, "Blackwater"

Courtesy of HBO

A common enough complaint levied against Game of Thrones is that they hardly ever show the action. The dragons are rarely seen, and the battles are only ever discussed, never witnessed. The sort of person who makes these complaints is also the sort of person who was apt to dislike Transformers 3 because it was too intellectual. The simply answer is, of course, the cost. Special effects cost money, and a show only has so much. But that really is the most pedestrian of excuses. The battles aren't important, you see. Battles are hard, vicious things, that have no message in and of themself. But the effects of battles, the emotions they inspire, and the tides they turn, are what is important. People make war, yes. But people survive war too, and those are the interesting ones.

Because Game of Thrones isn't an action movie. For all the trappings, the swords and shields and dragons and such, it makes like an action movie, but isn't. Which might have been Peter Jackson's biggest misstep in the Lord of the Rings, especially in the last movie. It's an intelligent, honest, human drama. It deals in characters, their motivations, their strengths and their weaknesses. Certainly, a horse might get cleaved in two from time to time, but what makes a man do such a thing? That is the more interesting question, and what Game of Thrones is far more likely to spend time on then just what might be able to die next.

So, when the show does decide that a battle is worth showing, you'd better believe it's for a reason other then to gut some nameless henchmen. Battles, on this show, are punctuation. They are the exclamation marks of drama. And that, by showing it, it will define characters, that it will upend the status quo, and change the course of this world. And you'd better bet they'll do it, "in fire and blood."

Hit the jump for the spoiler rife review.

28 May 2012

Dark Knight Rises To Avenger's Level, Begins Releaseing Footage, Images, Creepy 7/11 Drink Displays

I think it's a testament not only to the character, but to Nolan's version of the character, that the final theatrical trailer for The Dark Knight Rises featured very little Batman footage at all. That being said, I'm very happy that these two new TV spots, which are mostly just footage from that trailer, contains more Batman per minute, then the trailer did. That, and jokes. Oh, jokes are fantastic, aren't they? The Dark Knight series has always had a strange sense of humour, and usually it falls on Michael Caine of Morgan Freeman, but I'm not going to bitch.

Hit the jump for the second TV spot, four new banners, and the saddest Batman in the world.

Iron Man 3 Gets More Of What It Needs; Agent Coulson Open To Returning

Warning: this post contains spoilers about The Avengers. Which, considering it has made all of the money at this point, it's unlikely you haven't seen it. And really, shame on you if you haven't. But consider yourself warned.

We'll start with the non-spoilery stuff. As mentioned above, The Avengers has succeed in making all of the money over the past month. It came in second this weekend at the box office, for the first time since it's release, with nearly $37 million, barely $20 million less the MiB3.

And Marvel is banking on all that good will towards the franchise staying with people until next summer, because they've announced that they've upped Iron Man 3's budget from $140 million to an even $200m. Which means that the third in that trilogy will cost roughly the same as the Avengers. Which, I have to wonder, isn't a little short sighted of Disney. Iron Man 2 only brought in $312m in it's total run. Granted it had bad word of mouth after it's first week. A similar take for IM3 would make the profit margin comparable to John Carter, and people have gotten fired over that film. Hell, Disney ground their version of Snow White to a dead stop because of a profit margin like that. And John Carter proved that throwing money at something to make it visually appealing won't make it better. For that you need a decent script, an interested but removed studio, and a director that cares, three things that IM2 did not have. Maybe Shane Black is really impressing them at Marvel, we'll have to wait and see if he's worth the investment, or if Marvel might be starting to get a little big in the ego. And maybe Disney is putting all of their eggs into Marvel's basket a bit too quickly.

Or maybe they needed the extra cash to pay the actors, because they have announced yet more additions to the IM3 cast. Despite rumours to the contrary, former franchise director Jon Favreau will be returning to the screen in the minor role of Tony Stark's body guard, Happy Hogan, a small Hitchcock-ian vanity role in the first film, and had a couple solid comedic moments in the sequel. One has to wonder if, without behind the camera responsibilities distracting him, the role will be expanded in the third film, or if it will be more of a 'pass the torch', Kirk in Star Trek Generations sort of thing.

They've also announced Ashley Hamilton, who is a man best known for marrying Shannon Doherty, will be playing Jack Taggart AKA Firepower, a military Iron Man suit designed specifically to stop Stark. I assume this angle will be part-and-parcel with recently announced Eric Savin, and Project: Ultra-Tech-esque elements finding their way into the film. I think what this means is, despite what people said about not wanting to see a bunch of 'robots' fighting in IM2, we're going to end up with a whole crap load of 'robots' fighting, either for or against Stark, in IM3.

Hit the jump for the spoilery bits.

The Doctor Sets The TARDIS To Adventure Setting

Last time Blue Peter, the long running BBC kids program, with a just as long history of pairing up with Doctor Who, ran a contest it was to design a TARDIS control console. The winner got a trip to the set in Cardiff, and their console made it into the show - Eleven and Sexy flew it in The Doctor's Wife.

This time around, children were asked to write a script that was both Doctor Who, and Olympic themed (for the forth coming summer games in London). The winners were three children from the Ashdene School in Cheshire, who got to visit the set, and most importantly, see their script filmed as a short episode which aired last week.

I can't imagine that this is canon, otherwise why wouldn't the Doctor have soniced an Angel before. But it is good fun, and it's always interesting to see what Matt Smith's hair can do next.
As a last note: The Intrepid Universe Traveller's Handbook is exactly two steps up and one step slightly to the left of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

Via Topless Robot.

[Review] - How To Archer: The Ultimate Guide to Espoonage And Style And Woman And Also Cocktails Ever Written

[Authors Note: The usual Monday Morning Movie Review will not appear today, as the only thing in theatres this weekend worth spending money on is The Avengers, and I've already seen it twice. So you know what I did? I read a book... then saw The Avengers again. It's still good.]

Courtesy of HarperCollins
Ever wanted to know how many pounds per square inch of preasure it takes to break a child's collar bone? Ever wanted to successfully impersonate Steve Miller? How to win in a casino (it involves lots of Asians)? What the plural of editrix is? If you answered 'no' to any of these questions, what is wrong with you? Do you lack curiosity and joy in your life? Do you sit alone at night, watching reruns of America's Most Wanted, eating Ramen noodles and tap water, wondering when your next electricity bill will arrive? If you answered 'yes' to any of those original questions, then How To Archer is the book for you.

There is a worry with books like this, by which I mean books based on successful TV shows, but not continuations of the show, that they'll just be a recycling of the jokes that worked in the context of the show. Very rarely do the same jokes work in the context of a silent book, often because jokes rely on timing and delivery, and the quality of the funny person saying them. Also, they are usually gags or tie-ins that loose their funny after a dozen pages or so, and just become monotonous.

Happily, Sterling Archer's How To guide manages to avoid most of that. Yes, there are some recycled jokes from the show (it is ostensibly an expansion of the first season episode Training Day), and many more from his twitter account, which I swear is the only twitter account worth reading. But, because the book is written from the first person, with Archer talking directly to you, you forgive it because who doesn't repeat themselves from time to time. Though, this also proves to be the book's largest weakness, as it really does make the assumption that you are a fan of the FX series, and familiar with Archer's voice and rhythms.

You are, aren't you. A fan, I mean, how can you not be? Amorous cartoon spies, whats not to like? You know what, if you've never seen it, go and buy it off Amazon, watch it and come back.

Back? Funny, right? OK. Hit the jump for the rest of the review.

25 May 2012

[Graphic] - Fits and Starts #1

Hit the jump for some musings.

Stephen Colbert: Sexy Woman, Or Sexiest Woman

Currently, Stephen Colbert's children's book, "I Am A Pole, and So Can You," is topping the bestseller charts. His Peabody Award winning coverage of Super PACs in the US is being credited with the creation of up to 1000 PACs created by college students. And now, he is the 68th Sexiest Woman of the Year.

Now, Colbert doesn't see gender. People tell him he's a man, and he believes them, because he has a penis. And while, in 2011, he was deemed one of the sexiest men alive by People, for the first time, Maxim, a publication (they still have those) which hasn't been relevant since AOL started mailing out those free discs, has awarded a place in their yearly list grading woman based on their physical appearance, to a man.

And it should be no surprise. This was the first year voting was opened to the public, and Colbert has a history not only of winning things by popular vote, he destroys them. He came in 68th, which is pretty good for a short haired, flat chested, 48 year old nerd. He beat Poppy Montgomery, and she has a Latex Batgirl suit.

Thank god he doesn't have an ego, or this would go straight to his head.

Via The Mary Sue.

If The Doctor Were A Dinosaur, Would We Still Wait For Him?

Yes, that is the Second Doctor as rendered as a dinosaur, I believe an Apatosaurus, though it's hard to tell. He is rather generic. And right now, he's the only thing keeping me from my head exploding off the top of my neck. Because Stephen Moffat was talking to someone again, and he said this:
The more Doctor Who becomes a perennial, the faster it starts to die. You’ve got to shake it up, you’ve got to keep people on edge and wondering when it will come back. Sherlock is the prime example, as far as that goes. Sherlock almost exists on starving its audience. By the time it came back this year, Sherlock was like a rock star re-entering the building! So keeping Doctor Who as an event, and never making people feel, ‘Oh, it’s lovely, reliable old Doctor Who – it’ll be on about this time, at that time of year’. Once you start to do that, just slowly, it becomes like any much-loved ornament in your house – ultimately invisible. And I don’t want that to ever be the case.
I'll start by clarifying that it was not Moffat who decided when Doctor Who would air, it was the BBC. So this could all be down to Moff trying to come to his own terms, and justify the wait in his own mind. But, he said it, and he has to live with it. I've disagreed with things Moffat has said before. And I disagree once again. I feel that what he's saying here, that expecting something to happen makes it less exciting when it does, in fundamentally false, and that goes double for the Doctor.

Has your birthday, Mr. Moffat, never been exciting to look forward to? How about Christmas? Smaller, how about the bloody weekend, after a long week at work? How passive do you get sir? Would the weekend be more exciting if you never knew when it was going to come? Would Christmas? I believe that a regular schedule is important, in all aspects of life, including entertainment. People have date nights, new movies open on Fridays, TV shows in the US begin in September, and end in May (mostly). Regularity does not breed apathy, it nurtures reliability. I, for one, would much prefer the Doctor fresh and new every spring, or summer, or fall, so long as it happened every year at the same time. Something I could circle on my calendar, that I could look at and say "only two more months, only two more weeks, only two more days."

Of course people are going to break the door down when a break is prolonged, Doctor Who saw this itself when it returned in 2005. But that's because it was like taking the smack away from a junkie: too long can be too long. And too long can breed descent and insurrection. Risk it at your own peril.

Hit the jump for some more Doctor Dinos, and the link to see them all.

24 May 2012

8 Years Of Saturn

This video was put together by Nahum Chazarra, using eight years of photos sent back to us by the Cassini spacecraft, which has produced some extraordinary pictures of the very prettiest thing he have floating around our celestial back yards. I've lost count of how many Cassini shots have become my desktop backgrounds. At least two at the moment.

What I like most about this video is that it uses only still shots, played together like a flip book. The resulting effect reminds me of historical footage from the turn of the last century, when cameras were new and silent, and rough and joggy. It looks old and frontierish, and it is amazing. Do yourself a favour: watch all five minutes of it, and feel inspired for the rest of the day.
Via The Bad Astronomer.

The Mary Sue Interviews Planetary Resources Advisor Sara Seager

Photo from MIT Department of Physics

The Mary Sue has posted an interview with Sara Seager, a Professor of Planetary Science at MIA, whose chief research is in exoplanets, and is an adviser with Planetary Resources, the company who plans on mining asteroids, possibly within the next ten years.

Because The Mary Sue has a feminist focus, most of the interview is questions about what it's like to be a woman in her field. Eventually, it gets around to the science, discussing Prof. Seager's work with exoplanets, and detection of exo-atmospheres. When they move on to Planetary Resources, she says the following [author's note: emphasis mine]:
While NASA succeeds with big, complex space science missions ... most of space science would benefit tremendously from cheaper, more frequent launch capability for smaller, more specialised space science missions. A sustainable commercial spaceflight business – one that is not supported by NASA contracts – is required to reduce the costs and increase the launch opportunities. I support any efforts for a self-sustaining spaceflight business.
This is exactly true. And considering the success (so far) of SpaceX's Dragon capsule launch, we're moving in the right direction. Actually, Tuesday's launch is an important moment for Planetary Resources as well, as it is commercial rockets that would be taking PR's equipment into space, and to asteroids, to begin with.

I highly recommend you take the time to read the article.

Via The Mary Sue.

SpaceX Successfully Launches Dragon Into Space. Watch Out For The Hulk

Early Tuesday morning, SpaceX became the first commercial organisation to send a spacecraft bound for the International Space Station.

The successful launch of the Falcon 9 rocket, which in ten minutes had propelled the Dragon capsule into Earth orbit, marks what could be the first stage of a new era of manned space exploration. One that does not rely on national governments to fully fund, build and operate the systems. One that does not operate purely on political motivations, but on commercial and ideological ones.

The launch was only the beginning for the Dragon. Once in space, it had to successfully deploy it's solar panels, which it did. Dragon runs on solar charged battery cells, so deployment of the panels was critical to Dragon continuing on, or dropping back to Earth, dead. Nearly three hours after launch, the capsule would also have to open it's guidance, navigation and control bay doors, which it did to great relief. The first day consisted mostly of testing the Draco thrusters, making certain operators on the ground can control the unmanned capsule as it prepares to dock with the ISS sometime today, or early tomorrow. Approaching the station is extremely dangerous for the crew members on board, therefore it is of the utmost importance that the Dragon can position itself and control it's speed so that the station's Canadarm can grab hold of it, at a distance of only about ten metres.

Dragon is carrying 1000 pounds of cargo, including supplies for the station-bound crew, experiments, and the ashes of 308 space enthusiasts, including astronaut Gordon Cooper and actor James Doohan, to be released into the void. After a couple weeks, it will be loaded with nearly double that weight in return cargo and garbage, and return to Earth in early to mid June, where it will splash down and be retrieved by SpaceX to be reused in a future mission.

This mission is an important one for the company. It's more then a test of equipment, it's a demonstration that their equipment is worth investing in, and worth NASA contracting with SpaceX to handle future cargo deliveries, thus freeing up NASA's time and budget for other, larger projects. One cannot disregard NASA's involvement in all this. They built the systems in the sixties that made this sort of thing possible. Former NASA scientists are part of the design and launch crews of SpaceX and nearly all commercial space companies. They launched the Falcon 9 from Cape Canaveral, a government facility. And NASA is still the only astronaut training facility in the US, and an owning partner in ISS, and have a need to get supplies to the astronauts they have up there. 

As it stands, the future of SpaceX remains in cargo delivery. Only Russia, in the entire world, maintains space craft capable of delivering humans to space. But, without these first steps, they can never hope to have the technical knowledge, and the physical ability to move towards that next stage.
Via Wired.

[Review] - House Takes His Reichenbach Fall

Last Christmas, I thought it was remarkable that we had, in the final episode of the Sherlock Series 2, and Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows, two concurrent adaptions of the same story (The Final Problem), to contrast and compare, and analyse. For someone like me, who loves digging into the minutia of performance and writing, it was Christmas (literally and figuratively). But I was wrong. Because Monday night, about twenty four hours after PBS aired Sherlock's finale for American audiences, we got a third version in the House series finale, Everybody Dies. The Final Problem would have probably been a better fit for a title, but would have given away the ending for anyone in the know.

This post contains spoilers for the series finale of House, the season finale of Sherlock, the ending of Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows, and a short story written 119 years ago. You have been warned, now hit the jump.

23 May 2012

Small Child Hates The Kardashians. He Should Ally Himself With Captain Sisko

I don't hate the Kardashians, because they aren't worth the energy it takes to hate them. In the same way that it doesn't matter what colour your socks are in the morning, or if they match your trousers, the Kardashians are inconsequential. Certainly, they've part of the degradation of our modern western culture, but really they're more a symptom then a cause. Enough antibiotics should clear it right up.

A small child disagrees, and apparently believes the best way to deal with them is to send in the Hulk to take them out, Loki style. And I'm OK with that. Put that on TV, and I'd watch it. Just don't take this as an invitation to have them cameo in the next Avengers movie. Do you here Marvel, that would not be cool.

Via Warming Glow.

Neil Gaiman Makes Good Art

I like quite a few artists working in television, film, and print. It's a sizable list. I'm very fond of less then that. I'm in awe of fewer still. The list of persons I honestly and completely respect is the shortest list indeed. Neil Gaiman is on that list.

He recently gave the Commencement Address to the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, and it is marvellous. It's one of those documents, like Elmore Leonard's Ten Rules for Writing, that is indispensable to a budding, or even a seasoned writer, because it is advice that it never hurts hearing, but it means more because it's coming from someone who really knows what's they're on about. These are people who don't need to be bashful about their accomplishments. These are masters.

"I learned to write by writing," he says, and I've always believed this to be true. You can learn grammar, and structure, and technically what is right, but you can't learn style, and you can't learn depth and grace without putting pen to paper and letting the words out.

He champions taking chances, to make mistakes, and enjoy successes. He defends quality, personality, and reliability, though not all at the same time. "Your work doesn't have to be good if it's always on time, and it's always a pleasure to hear from you."

He warns about the changing world of artistic deliverance, with the internet and technology changing the game in a way that hasn't bee seen for over a century, to the point where not even those in the know know what's going to happen. "Because no one has done it before, no one has made up rules to stop anyone from doing that thing again."

Most importantly, he advocates perseverance. He talks of lying to get jobs, and then going back and getting the jobs he lied about. He talks about making a list, when he was young, of things he wanted to do, like write a novel (check), a comic book (check check), and an episode of Doctor Who (hello sexy).

And his last words were the best words. There is a difference between knowledge and wisdom. Knowledge is technical, is trivial. Knowledge helps you out of a spot. Wisdom is grander, all encompassing. It's ethereal and beguiling. He says, "be wise, because the world needs more wisdom. And if you cannot be wise, pretend to be someone who is wise, and behave as they would."

I did find it hilarious that they keep cutting to the one girl with a steam punk mortarboard and blue hair, because obviously, that is who best represents Mr. Gaiman's work. (Bit of sarcasm there).

Via The Mary Sue.

James Bond Doesn't Like The Sounds Of Skyfall

On the heels of the teaser poster for the new James Bond film, not being released during the 50 anniversary year, but rather this year, rather briskly, comes the teaser trailer. I'm always game for a new Bond film, but there isn't anything in this trailer that really gets me excited. You know, really gets the blood pumping. It all just looks... standard.

Oh well.

[Review] - Eureka, Season 5 Episode 6, "Worst Case Scenario"

Courtesy of NBCUniversal
 Disasters are part and parcel in Eureka; everything causes them. I'm sure a lab of adorable bunnies would find a way to become terrifying in this town. So why would you tempt fast by holding a large scale disaster simulation. They have to realise by now, that's only going to end badly. If nothing else, this show has proven that despite these characters being geniuses, they aren't actually all that smart.

Elsewhere, the Euretrix continues to plague the B-plots, a character returns from the dead, and more manufactured drama and movie references fill in the gaps. Pretty standard, really.

Hit the jump for the spolierist review.

22 May 2012

Blade Runner Sequel Will Star A Lady-Person

Ridley Scott likes him some powerful women. Ellen Ripley, Clarice Starling, Thelma & Lousie. So, maybe it's not that surprising that, when asked about the future of the Blade Runner series, Scott responded thusly:
“Funny enough, I started my first meetings on the Blade Runner sequel last week. We have a very good take on it. And we’ll definitely be featuring a female protagonist.”
I'm not opposed to a sequel to Blade Runner, in the same way that I wasn't opposed to an Alien prequel. And I feel that not bringing back Harrison Ford is the smart move. In fact, the more distance they can put between the original movie and the new one, the better. I'd say, follow Prometheus' lead. Set the movie in the same universe, perhaps tenuasly connected to the original film, but seperate. Maybe something to do with the future of the Tyrell Corporation, we know that Scott also enjoys corporate intrigue. Or have the protagonists be a Nexus-7 or 8 model; better, stronger, faster then the old replicants. Tell the story from the replicant's side rather then the Blade Runner. Like Bourne in a crappy dystopia.

You know who would probably love a role like this? Charlize Theron. I bet it'd be right up her ally.

Via The Mary Sue.

I Wonder What Abed's Opinion On Bowties Is?

Anyone who watched the final three episodes of Community last week knows that the show was very close to cancellation, and thus ended with a very series finale-type vibe. It was renewed for a fourth season, so there is more to come, though without creator Dan Harmon. Whether this is a good or bad thing depends entirely on what you think of Dan Harmon. Anyone who didn't watch the final three episodes of Community last week needs to leave. Right now.

OK. This is a video of all 102 instances of Abed saying the word 'cool' over the course of the three years of the show. It actually only goes up to episode 16, Virtual Systems Analysis, so it needs to be updated. Though, once they get to Digital Estate Planning, an episode in my opinion, better then both paint ball episodes, it might break the internet, what with all the little Abeds running around.

Did anyone else feel like, despite being the last produced and airing in the middle of an arc, it was meant to have appeared earlier in the season, and was held back for sweeps because of it's superior quality?

Either way, the show remains streets ahead.

Avengers Role Call: She-Hulk, Jessica Jones, And The Marvel Cinematic Timeline

Over the weekend, The Avengers brought in double the next nearest competitor. In it's third week. This Friday it has Men in Black 3 to contend with, which I don't see taking the 1st place spot away from Whedon. Not with a gulf that huge. Battleship may have been terrible, but MiB is a decade old franchise whose last entry most people don't remember. I don't think Avengers has anything to worry about until Prometheus, and as much as I'm looking forward to that, I still don't see it being a challenge. I think what will eventually unseat Avengers is theaters removing it from the screens.

To celebrate, here is a collection of Avengers related news that hit the web last week.

1) Angie Harmon really wants to play She-Hulk. Really really. Here is a photo she posted of herself to Twitter, and was retouched by one of her followers (gods, that sounds cultish).

When I did my list of future Marvel casting suggestions, I put forward Gina Carino as She-Hulk because she matched her physically. She-Hulk doesn't transform like Bruce Banner, she's just permanently green and buff. I did note that Carino isn't the best actor. Harmon is. And, I never would have considered her, but seeing that pic, and reading how passionately she wants the role, I'm sold. Marvel, there you go. She's certainly tall enough, and get her pumping some iron, and you've got an actress who would more than hold her own with Mark Ruffalo. Which, after the Avengers, is what's important.

2) ABC has passed on the pilot for AKA Jessica Jones, which would have followed a former superhero attempting to hold down a normal life in a world populated by the Avengers and the like. This is big news, for the MCU anyway, because it means that characters like Jessica Jones (Power Woman), Luke Cage (Power Man), Carol Danvers (Ms. Marvel) and Squirrel Girl (Squirrel Girl) are back in the cards in terms of movie appearances.  What isn't such good news is that ABC still wants to make a Hulk series, which might have been fine if the Avengers hadn't totally redeemed and redefined that character. Unrelated to the movies, we'd have two Hulks in pop culture competing for our love, and that might confuse some people. Plus, if the series sucks, that naturally detracts from the movie character (don't believe me. See how hung up everyone involved with any of the Hulk movies are with the old series. They barely mention the comics). I'd rather see Ruffalo in an HBO style mini-series that either charts his journey between Incredible Hulk and Avengers, or charts his journey after Avengers into what ever he'll appear in next. But that won't happen, so I'd rather nothing happen.

3) Having trouble keeping track of the MCU series of events? Don't know which order you should watch the movies in? For the record, my preferred order is Cap, IM, IM2, Thor, Hulk. Well, the book Art of the Avengers has provided the first official record of how things went down between the Asgard protection of Earth to the day Loki arrived. It's pretty cool, and here it is.

You're probably going to need to enlarge this.
Via The Mary Sue, ComicsAlliance and /Film.

[Review] - Game of Thrones Season 2, Episode 8, "The Prince of Winterfell"

Courtesy of HBO

Gather round children, it's story time in Westeros, and everyone has a tale to tell, and each is more bloody then the last. Plot takes a backseat this week to character development, especially for some of the new or minor characters that we need too know better. Old relationships fall apart, and new ones emerge. Old battles are left behind and new ones approach on the horizon, and all the while the snark level increases dramatically.

And we're given a very clear illustration of why the invention of zippers is necessary for civilisation to progress.

Hit the jump for the spoileriferous review.

21 May 2012

Man Has His Priorities Straight

I've never been a 'gamer'. The last video game system I got really excited over was the Super NES. I own a PS2, but haven't partaken of anything from the current generation. My trend has been to skip generations.

But that does not stop me from giving this gentleman a slow clap for the incredible set up he's got for his EVERY GAME SYSTEM. I also approve of his ready-to-go game selection, which is you look closely on the right, his Ninetendo systems have Mario Bros 3, Mario World, and Mario 64 locked and loaded, no blowing in the cartridge for him.

Hit the jump for a 15 minute video tour of his gamestation.

Bond Approaches In New Poster

I'm confused. I thought Skyfall was set for a November release date, which is insane considering that they are still filming the thing. Even with minimal special effects, turning over a film inside six months is crazy talk. Why are they forcing this? Hold off, release it next spring, kick off the summer season of 2013. I mean, what else will we have next summer. Man of Steel? We're doomed. That's the 50th anniversary of Bond, so don't rush things. Rushing only makes things worse.

Either way, I'm torn about this poster. Bond posters (by benefit of there being so many) have ranged from creative to benign, and I look at the Skyfall teaser and I think, how much more boring can you get? None of the Craig posters have been great, mostly him walking away from things, which I guess this continues the trend. I get that the gun barrel is an iconic image, as is the gun silhouette, but I just can help but think it's lazy. Like it's been rushed. Wait, wasn't I just saying something about being rushed?

Via Den of Geek.

Iron Man 3 Casts An Actual Marvel Villain

Reportedly, James Badge Dale has been cast as Lieutenant Colonel Eric Savin in the ready to film Iron Man 3. In the comics, Savin was in charge of  Project: Ultra-Tech until he stepped on a land mind and was rebuilt using his own technology, Bionic Man-style, into the totally non inflammatory 'Coldblood', afterwards becoming what wikipedia describes as "an urban soldier cyborg, operating as a freelance mercenary."

What's important to note about this announcement is that Coldblood is the first new character cast in Iron Man 3 that does not come directly from the Iron Man: Extremis story arc that the film is pulling it's main plot from. My guess, they'll have Savin be the military liaison for the nano-tech project Guy Pierce is running, much like Rhodes (Don Cheadle) was for Tony Stark in the first film. That gives them a military connection to Rhodes, and maybe then he'll be the first victim of the nano virus that starts turning people into machines.

Or, more likely, I'm wrong. Maybe they'll really go off the grid and actually have him be an urban soldier cyborg, operating as a freelance mercenary, which is basically a mid-nineties wet dream.

Part of me is still wondering when or if Roxxon, a shady company on par with Oscorp in the books and usually going up against Iron Man, will start playing a part in the MCU. We know they have the rights to use them, Roxxon's logo was in both of the Iron Man movies, and on the gas pump in one of the Agent Coulson shorts. I'm still surprised they didn't go with Roxxon and someone like Ghost as the main antagonists for IM3. Something from Armor Wars, which would have been the natural progression of Iron Man 2. Oh well.

Via Collider.

[Review] - Dark Shadows

I consider myself a Tim Burton fan, despite the fact I haven't actually enjoyed a film of his since Big Fish. Which was, purely by coincidence I'm sure, the last film he made that didn't star Johnny Depp. I also consider myself a Johnny Depp fan, though with two exceptions (Rango and Finding Neverland) I enjoy his pre-Pirates work more than his post.

So, it was with extreme hesitation and trepidation that I went into Dark Shadows, purportedly a passion project for both director and actor, the seed which inspired their respective obsessions with the macabre and whimsical. And was entirely justified by my feelings, as I can add yet another Burton film to the list that has disappointed and disillusioned me. Has Burton completely lost that Burtonseque edge that even The Planet of the Apes excelled in? Or, has it simply been watered down to nothing but a thin, translucent vineer, barely covering the trappings of a disjointed, directionless, over indulgent mess?

Hit the jump for the spoiler filled review.

18 May 2012

Karen Gillan Is A Fan Of Community. That Is All

Full disclosure: when they first introduced Inspector Spacetime on Community, I didn't like it. Sometimes, it's hard to tell if Community likes a show, or hates it (Cougar Town. I'm still not sure). Like, the difference between Shaun of the Dead style parody, and Scary Movie parody, where one is a deconstruction of the conventions and elements that persist in a genre, and the other is just mocking direct scenes from examples of the genre (the former is clever, the latter is not). Spacetime definitely felt like the latter; the Doctor Who parody was too on the nose, and yet too cartoony. I'm warming to it, but I'm certainly not losing my mind over the Inspector like the rest of the internet.

What I would lose my mind over would be a role for Karen Gillan in the fourth season, now that Community has one of those. Who knows, it might drive their rating up a notch. Certainly would be a draw for the season premier in... whenever NBC decides to air it. Community has avoided the stunt casting binges that 30 Rock and Office go on, mostly because of it's lack of success, and hasn't resorted to shameless appearances to drive their numbers up (except Jack Black/Owen Wilson in season one, which remains the oddest thing the show has done). Mostly, it's just former Daily Show correspondents. When someone does guest, it serves an actual purpose (hello, John Goodman).

So I would be fine with Gillan appearing, so long as it wasn't just in Spacetime. Make her a friend new friend of Abed's whose an even bigger Spacetime fan then him, to the point where even he thinks it's weird. That'd be fun.

Via The Mary Sue.

Prometheus Looks Like A Fun Place to Be

I've avoided watching/posting any of the newer trailers and promo materials for Prometheus, as I've heard it gets a little spoilery, and I don't want a second of this thing to be ruined before I see it. However, a slew of new press, behind the scenes, and set pictures have hit the web courtesy of Entertainment Weekly that are spoiler free. I'm only going to post two, and you can go here to check out the rest. The two I'm posting, I have thoughts on.

First, the shot above. No matter how dour the film may be, at least it looks like they had fun making it. Has it been well established that Charlize Theron is a massive nerd? Why else would someone repeatedly take roles in movies like Æon Flux and Hancock, if they weren't either Cuba Gooding Jr-level desperate, or 'one of us'. She's got two movies coming out this year, both are genre pieces. She obviously has a good sense of humour, considering her appearances Between Two Ferns and Arrested Development, but for all her dramatic roles, she does seem to love the sci-fi/fantasy. And I'm OK with that. If Marvel opted to go with the Ultimate interpretation of Carol Danvers, Theron would have been my choice. For a more conventional version, I went another way.

I'm really digging these space suits. They've got a futuristic, almost Tron vibe to them, but the giant bubble helmets are a real call back to fifties style pulp sci-fi. It's funny, the old magazines and movies always had space suits as flimsy, tight things. Then, the Apollo missions had real, big and bulky and slow to move in suits, and thus followed the movie designs. And now, we're coming back around to the flimsy suits, because that's what the future may actually be. Science is awesome.
Via /Film.

Revolution: The Newest High Concept Show To Eventually Be Cancelled Without Revealing Anything

I am so sick of NBC right now. Their fall schedule sucks. They're forsaking scripted drama for singing and dancing shows (to be fair, so is everyone else), they moved Community to Fridays behind Whitney (though, this may prove a good thing since it's away from Big Bang Theory). Really, the only good thing they've done in the past week is given Parks and Recreation a full season pick up, compared to the half seasons everything else got.

And now we've got the trailer for the newest J.J. Abrams produced mystery-based sci-fi series, Revolution. Much is being made of Jon Favreau directing the pilot, but little is being made of Eric Kripke, the guy who created the surprisingly enjoyable Supernatural, is leading the writing team. And that's about where the good news ends, because this show looks terrible. It's every post-apocalypse scenario we've seen a dozen times that doesn't involve zombies, plague victims, or robots. The trailer is equal parts The Book of Eli, Terra Nova, 9, Life After People, and standard crappy network drama. what about sci-fi do networks feel needs to have operatic over acting? Terra Nova was terrible for that, and even Mr. Fring himself doesn't seem immune here.

The worst thing, though, is the MacGuffin. The teasers for this series were laughably bad. "A future where all energy has disappeared." Really? All energy? So, entropy is at a maximum, heat death has occurred, all interaction, to the atomic scale, has ceased and the universe is inert? Or, did you mean 'electricty', but were trying to sound cool. The trailer makes it clear they meant electricity, but realised that sounded dumb.

But it's not, actually. This is a very real danger, to us, in the real world. It's a possible side effect of a direct hit from a solar flare. Hell, the news was freaking out about it back in March. A direct hit from a high level solar flare would fry electronics, overload the grid and burn the insulated wires in the lines. And most cities don't keep replacements, certainly not on the scale that they would be required, and with the power off, we wouldn't be able to manufacture more.

Do we really need to keep trying to replicate LOST? Get over it, it was lighting in a bottle. Nothing will be able to do what it did, to so many, again. The solar flare thing is a real threat, why not make an interesting series about what happens after that. It's real science. Not a magic USB key and a LOST style computer from the eighties.

The one thing I did like about this trailer. It uses a screen shot from the short film Ruin, which I posted a long while back. Apparently, J.J. was a fan of Wes Ball's film, and asked to use the image of the over grown bridge. Go back and watch Ruin, I can almost certainly promise you you'll have a better time then when this series drops in the fall.

That final image, of the title over the Earth, conjures bad memories of Heroes, and makes me think of revolutions of the planet. Which isn't what they were going for at all.

Via Topless Robot and /Film.

[Graphic] - The Whedonian Archetypes

After watching the Avengers, as I mentioned in my review, I was aware of several parallels to Serenity (the man does love to crash aircraft in his third acts, doesn't he?). This chart started as I began to recognise similar character types between the two films, which draw natural comparisons to one another, considering that, to date, they are Whedon's only directed films, and that they both involve a cast of ten complex characters (if you think of Banner and Hulk as separate characters, which I do, and if, like Whedon, you consider Serenity a character in her own right). Once I had written these down, my mind drew connections to characters from Buffy and Angel, which were originally going to be grouped together. Once I really got into it, I noticed most, if not all, character type could be filled by both series. This is the benefit of producing products with so many characters.

I should point out that this is not evidence that Whedon is untalented. Very much the opposite, actaully. These archetypes are the sames ones that Jung pointed out, that appear in Shakespeare, and myth. These are the facets of humanity that any writer must become familiar with, and that Whedon has become very good at representing. The chart highlights his particular flavours.

Hit the jump to see the full chart, which includes eleven major archetypes, over Joss Whedon's seven major projects: The Avengers, Buffy, Angel, Dollhouse, Cabin in the Woods, Dr. Horrible, and Firefly/Serenity.

17 May 2012

The Newsroom Still Looks Pretty Content Sitting And Talking

I really wish that all of Aaron Sorkin's shows existed within the same shared universe. That way, we could ahve concievably had a scene where in Robert Guillaume, Jane Fonda and Ed Asner all sat around, bitching about owning TV networks.

I still hold out a hope that Newsrom exists in the West Wing universe, for all the potential cameos from West Wing alum.
Via /Film.

Disaster Assessment Firm Declares Cost Of Avengers Invasion Damage. Not In This Economy

Kinetic Analysis Corp., is a disaster-cost prediction and assessment firm. Basically, they tally up the cost of physical damage, estimated losses of services, and cleanup after a major disaster. For example:
Kinetic's report said the financial costs of the 9/11 attacks came to $83 billion, the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami came to $122 Billion, and Hurricane Katrina came to over $90 Billion.
The Hollywood Reporter asked them to do a mock up of damage done to New York during the invasion at the end of the Avengers. The complete report, which can be read here, is a hoot, real tongue-in-cheek, and name checks Godzilla and Gozer as similar past events. Total assessment though, was $160 billion. For a small area of Manhattan (Cap demanded they contain them, remember). Poor New York. Makes you wonder how much it set the city back when Hulk "broke Harlem", or when Whiplash attacked Queens. If feel that in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, cleanup and reconstruction have replaced manufacturing as the backbone of the economy. There is at least one company making money off of it. Except in the breadbasket. No one attacks wheat.

My favourite bit though, was this:
"Most insurance policies have special provisions for acts of war, civil unrest, or terrorism. Given the involvement of individuals considered deities in some cultures (Thor, Loki), there is even the potential to classify the event as an 'Act of God,' although that designation would be subject to strenuous theological and legal debate."
You know that the insurance company would argue to their last that it was an 'Act of God(s)' if it meant they wouldn't have to pay.

Via ComicsAlliance.

M'colleague Returns?

I don't tweet. In every day small talk, I tend towards the terse, but when I'm actually expressing opinions, and developing ideas, I've always subscribed to "anyone who uses one word when they could have used ten just isn't trying hard enough." 140 characters would result in my cup runningith over. So, I wouldn't have caught this tweet from Stephen Fry. Which, considering the amount Fry tweets, actually wouldn't have been difficult.

One of the great disappointments of House was that Fry never guested as a patient. I always believed that he would have made for a great one-off character in the clinic, pestering House throughout the episode with hypochondriatic ramblings. Smart as he may be, no one plays flustered better then Fry.

They've got one episode left, maybe they'll surprise me.

Via Pajiba.

World Not To End. Also, Sky To Remain Blue, Baby Animals To Remain Cute, Leafs Continue To Suck

I'm a big fan of sense and reason. Evidence, understanding, analysis: the three tenets of an educated life. The scientific method works just as well as a life philosophy, in my book. Understandably, pure stupidity irks me a great deal. People who believe that the moon landing was faked, or that vaccines cause autism, or that computers would fail at the Y2K, or that the world will end because the Mayan calendar 'runs out'.

All of these 'beliefs' are the product of not just being dangerously misinformed or dramatically undereducated, but also the unwillingness to deviate from a held position. It doesn't matter to these people how much proof you show them, no matter how logical and simplified the rebuttal is explained, they will call you the crazy one and hold on to their belief like a member of the NRA holds onto their gun.

Really, you just have to ignore them. If you have to fight this dug-down-deep kind of crazy, the only way to go is with more crazy, which is a stop-gap if anything, because you still end up with more crazy. Example: the recent "discovery" of a 1,200-year-old Mayan mural which includes benches and tables, complete with calculations of the Mayan calendar. And surprise, the maths say we've got thousands of years left!

Except, that was never in doubt. The calender that people are worried about 'running out', the b’ak’tun, was a cyclical calendar. It ran out plenty of times. Guess what happened when it did? They started it over again. You know who else uses a cyclical calendar? I'll give you a hint: it's you. Pretty good hint, yeah? Have you ever thought the world was going to end when December ran out? The b’ak’tun lasts about 394 years, then starts over. They also have the pictun, which is 7880 years long (kind of like centuries and millennia), and the alautun, which was 63 million years (so, an epoch, I guess). How many end-of-the-world-ers do you think know any of that? How many do you think care?

Sadly, the only way to convince any of them that December isn't the end is to point to yet more nonsense about a special cave of maths that say we've got a while yet. And even still, that won't do it. Some will say the cave doesn't matter, and that people really ought to be buying more canned goods.

I'm not a fan of the Mary Sue article I've linked below. I don't know what tone they intended to take, but as written, it comes off taking this far too seriously (a different kind of serious then I am, or Phil Plait does in the other link). Phrases they use like "contrary to popular belief" are misleading. This isn't a popular belief. It's a belief held by a minority, sometimes a very vocal one, but a segment of society that doesn't know what it's talking about, and doesn't care to be corrected. Sadly, on a variety of subjects, this is becoming the norm. We don't have debates anyone, we fortify our positions and lob insults at one another. It's true. Count the number of times I've called people stupid or crazy in this article. I know I'm doing it, but that doesn't make it right.

Education is important, not just for children and youths, but throughout life. Adults don't know everything, and need to learn something new from time to time. Over simplifications are dangerous, and without investigating claims, erroneous conclusions will be drawn.

Really though, that cave of mine in Wales is looking better all the time.

Via The Mary Sue and The Bad Astronomer.

16 May 2012

Goose Attacks Man. Now With More Lightsaber

On the surface, this is a video of a man being attacked by a goose, and the man fending said goose off. And someone has added lightsabers to it.

But dig deeper, and this is a microcosm of the modern digital environment. A group of anonymous office dwellers laughing at the misfortunes of an individual, while exploiting him for their own entertainment and personal satisfaction. With no concern or lasting consideration given to the poor man who has to explain to his loved ones that he was bested by a goose (which are, to be fair, evil creatures).

Be proud of yourself, internet. And may the foot path of your life be goose free.
Via The Mary Sue.

So Long As It's Not Cthulhu, I'm Fine With It

It's been said that we know about the length and breadth of the universe, and the inner workings at the core of an atom then we do about the depth of our own seas. Why is that? We've been sailing on them for three, maybe four thousand years. They helped build empires and fight wars. Is it because, after the technological revolution at the beginning of the twentieth century, the best military application for under the oceans had already been developed, with the submarine? That space offered a greater return on investment?

It's certainly not true that space offers more marvels and wonders, but is it because in space, they are on display every time the lights dim, where as, under the ocean, we must go searching? Or is it a cultural memory, the idea that we've already tamed the oceans with our ships, and that there is no adventure left there, and space is the only frontier we have left. Which is obviously false, because every time we send something down there, we come back with a video like this, or something equally amazing and unbelievable.

Or is it that, in all our years of looking upward, no matter what our science fiction might theorise and how much our imaginations might dream, we still haven't found anything frightening. And yet, every time we dive down deep, we come back with pictures of something beyond our understanding, usually with tentacles. Does the ocean offend our sensibilities? If so, I hate to tell you, life out in the universe has a great chance of looking like that thing up above then us.

And I for one welcome our new squidly, amorphous overlords.
Via Geekologie.

Craig Ferguson Goes To Scotland The Only Way One Should

Craig Ferguson is the only late night chat show host worth watching, I don't care what Team CoCo says (Daily Show and Colbert are news/satire, and don't count). He's fiercely intelligent, and incredibly geeky. And from time to time, the TARDIS shows up.

All this week his show is "live" from Scotland, and the above video was what kicked the whole thing off Monday night. Stick with it to the two minute mark, it's worth it. Well worth it. And I think qualifies Craig for official 'companion' status.

[Review] - Eureka Season 5, Episode 5 "Jack Of All Trades"

Courtesy of NBCUniversal
Eureka is at it's best when it's having fun. When it tries too hard to dial up the drama, it ends up falling apart, with ham fisted moments of contrived plot developments, or falling into opera territory. When it goes for the laugh, though, the show also finds it's heart, and some of the most successful episodes are those that contain a moment of humanity, wrapped in the gooey milk chocolate of comedy. The departure of Nathan Stark springs to mind, on the back of a Groundhog Day plot. Add to the list Jack of All Trades, which sees the cast having fun with one another, and then pays off the last five years right at the end.

Hit the jump for a spoiler-rich review.

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