31 Oct 2013

Don't Call Him Teddy

Doris Kearns Goodwin is a presidential biographer of some repute, as well as running sexual innuendo joke on the Colbert Report. She can also make centuries old political confrontations really engaging. The film Lincoln was based in part on her book Team Of Rivals, and Dreamworks is hoping that lightning will strike twice by optioning her new book, The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism, which is released Nov 5th. The book concerns the "decades-long and complicated friendship of Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft... [It] captures an epic moment in history, when in 1912, Roosevelt and Taft engage in a brutal fight for the presidency - a fight that destroys both their political futures, while seriously weakening the progressive wing of the Republican Party."

Setting aside the fact that Theodore Roosevelt is arguably the best man to ever serve as President of the United States (and narrowly edges out Andrew Jackson as the craziest bit of kick ass), everything about that sounds excellent. Even if a film never happens, they've at least convinced me to go buy the book. But should a movie happen, I think the casting choices are obvious. Nick Offerman as Roosevelt and John Goodman as Taft. Both men are equally adept at comedy as they are drama, they are both men of quality, and really who else could you imagine in those roles? Offerman loses points for being just a hair too young to play a President Roosevelt (better suited for the Rough Riders era), but they can do amazing things with makeup. This isn't, I should point out, the first time I've championed Offerman for the role, and will continue to do so at every opportunity.

Via Film Drunk.

What Ever Happened To "Give Peace A Chance?"

For all the complaining I did when they removed Superman's underoos for Man of Steel, that was nothing compared to the fiasco that has been Wonder Woman the past three years. At least Superman's uniform still looked like Superman. Blue, red cape, big frigger S on his chest. But in the past half decade, poor Wondie has underwent a dozen different and completely unnecessary uniform changes, starting with those pants, and just getting progressively worse from there. Culminating in her new, terrible outfit in the newest DC Animated film, Justice League: War.

I get the feeling that DC editorial and Wonder Woman's relationship is a lot like a really nervous 12 year old at his first dance, palms all sweaty and wanting to ask a girl to dance. They want to get to know Wonder Woman so badly, but just get frustrated and give up, opting to sit in the corner with the broody guy with a cool gadget. Only Azzarello has the self assurance to walk up, grab her hand, and dance like no body's watching. I'm not certain if my metaphor held together there, so I'll move on.

I usually look forward to these DC Animated films, but I think I'm going to give War a pass. The voice work in this trailer doesn't sound great (what little you could hear over that obnoxious soundtrack), and looking at the cast doesn't make it any better. Alan Tudyk and George Newbern are both talented men, but they've got their strengths and they've got their weaknesses, and their roles as Superman and Steve Trevor respectively probably should have been reversed. The rest of the cast too, which includes Jason O'Mara and Michelle Monaghan, are talented just ill suited to the roles they've been given.

The film adapts the first storyline from the New 52 rebooted Justice League book, Origins, and really the only reasons that story is being graced with an adaptation is because Geoff Johns wrote it (much like the previous release, Flashpoint). The book hasn't been out long enough to be considered worthy of adaptation, which it really wasn't. But the boss said this is what is happening, and thus is happens. Also, since these animated films are fewer and farther between than the books, I would think that the focus should be on adapting those storylines that have merit, meaning and a large fan base, or parish the thought, make some original works (like Dwayne McDuffie's pair of Justice League films). Now it seems like they are just adapting the most recent "event" story line from the books. And that's just boring.

Besides, they already did a "Fourth World attacks" film, in Batman/Superman: Apocalypse. Do we really need another one? Are better ideas so few?

Via Gamma Squad.

There's A Time Lord Coming

That is one of two (the other is after the jump) original posters released by the BBC to promote Mark Gatiss' docudrama An Adventure In Space And Time, airing on BBC2 at some point near the 23rd of November. According to Gatiss, the focus of the special will be "the story of how Doctor Who was created, so we concentrate on the very beginnings and the first few episodes. There are lots of treats for the fans but it's also the story of William Hartnell, the first Doctor and how the part transformed his life."

 Gatiss is also quick to warn, or rather, remind people that while his special is based on fact, it cannot be taken as honest truth, saying, "This is a drama, not a documentary, and though it's extremely painful to have to leave out some people who played a huge part, it makes dramatic sense. You simply can't do everyone justice in ninety minutes."

After the jump you can see the second poster, as well as some pictures of the cast looking really rather spectacular as their historic counterpoints.

30 Oct 2013

It's Been That Kind Of Day

The kind of day that needs to end with 30 seconds of Calvin and Hobbes dancing to jazz music. And thanks to Adam Brown, who is wise enough to keep these characters silent, we can do just that.

Via Uproxx.

Dammit Veronica, Just Pick One Already

Full admission, I tended to side with the Veronica/Logan shippers back when Veronica Mars was originally on. Her only other options were Duncan or Piz, and frankly they were both cold blankets. Logan, his tendency towards self destruction aside, was at least interesting.

But this trailer for the upcoming film, which fills in a bit more of the plot, might push me into the Piz camp. I mean, he's still Piz. But if it's ten years later and Veronica as been able to maintain a steady relationship with him over all that time, then there might just be something to them as a couple. And since it's Veronica, I assume she'll find a way to screw it up in spectacular fashion.

Meanwhile, I can stop noticing how not at all the cast has aged since the series ended.

SHIELD Adds One To The Team

Since ABC decided not to play a new episode of SHIELD this week, we must do with the news that Saffron Burrows can reportedly been cast in the role of Agent Victoria Hand. Now, this is just this side of a rumour, and normally I wouldn't report such a thing, except this is coming from Latino Review, which has a fairly solid track record of breaking Marvel-related stories.

Hand was one of the new SHIELD characters created by Brian Michael Bendis when he started his run on Avengers. Another character he created in the same era? Maria Hill, who was a bit of a black horse choice for Whedon to include in his film, but is now a fan favourite. Might Hand prove to be the same sort of magic for the series? Traditionally, Hand has been an antagonist, critical of Nick Fury's leadership and policies. While I doubt the series would involve Fury too much (what with his own SHIELD movie on the horizon), perhaps Hand's MCU counterpart will focus her ire on Coulson's leadership?

It is also important to note that Hand is a prominent lesbian character in the Marvel universe, and that is an area the MCU has not yet broached, though to be fair, we know nothing about any of the originally created SHIELD teammates. Maybe Hand's appearence will allow the show to explore more of the personal side to the characters. As for Burrows, I've got nothing but good things to say about her, having been a fan of since Boston Legal. If it turns out to be true, then it's only good news for the series.

 But ABC really shouldn't have taken a week off. Not with ratings they way they are.

Via the Mary Sue.

29 Oct 2013

A Different Path. A Darker Path

It has been a long time since I looked forward to an X-Men movie. And all credit to Bryan Singer, he's doing a very good job of getting me excited for his X-Men mash up, Days of Futures Past. First Class was only 70% of a good film, so I'll admit to being a little trepidatious about those elements. But it is amazing how many preconceived notions you can overcome with a liberal application of Stewart and McKellen. It helps that the trailer clearly shows the entire gang back together (save for poor stupid Cyclops), and explains pretty simply the mechanics of the time travel involved in the film.

Also, a mustachioed Peter Dinkalge never hurts.

Peabody Here, And This Is His Boy, Sherman

Back when Mr. Peabody and Sherman was first announced, Robert Downey Jr. was set to voice the time travelling dog. Other things got in his way.So, what we're getting in an adaptation of the Rocky and Bullwinkle short Peabody’s Improbable History, a show that this film's target demographic has probably never heard of (unless they've got some stellar parents), with Peabody being voiced by Ty Burrell, in a way that sounds nothing like Peabody. Dammit, burrell, you could ahve at least tried! It's not enough you have to sully the Muppets, now you're pestering with my Bullwinkle!

Anyway, the trailers looks like exactly what you would expect from Sony, in that it seems that everything that was fun and original about the, um, original has been extracted and replaced with overly flashy and meaningless CG faffing about. The presence of a single pun in the trailer is a good sign, but it is only a single pun. Considering that the entire foundation of the original shorts (to the point that many were written backwards from the pun) was puns, I expect many many more in the final product. Also, I understand they had to come up with a story to get the idea to feature length, but using the time travel itself as a plot point seems obvious, and completely misses the point of the original shorts, which was a parody of educational shorts.

In short, this film gives me paws. I'll see myself out.

[Review] - Atlantis, Series 1 Episode 5, "White Lies"

Courtesy of the BBC

The big news this week in the world of Atlantis is the confirmation of a second series by the BBC. The decision was backed by strong ratings in a family friendly time slot. However, the question remains, does the series deserve a second series? Five episodes in, and the results have been spotty at best. It's a spoon full of sugar that the news comes on a week when the show was at a high, as White Lies, by series creator Howard Overman, much like his previous A Boy of No Consequence, is a better episode for extending itself beyond the confines of the series mandate. Just as, and I hate constantly comparing this series to Merlin, but just as Merlin often felt the most weighted down when forcing elements of the Arthurian mythos into the series, so too does Atlantis. It's when Atlantis shrugs off the established Greek mythology, and plays with the characters and environment in it's own way, that the series shows the most potential.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that have been gambled for you.

28 Oct 2013

Caution: Suspects May Be Weird

It is entirely a coincidence that the day I review the new biography of Jim Henson, Disney releases the new poster for Muppets Most Wanted (whose first full trailer I'll assume will be attached to Frozen next month). But it is a nice bit of coincidence.

Sadly, it's not a nice looking poster. My problems with it are thus:

1) The humans. Once again, the humans are given top billing, despite being secondary characters. It was different back when Michael Caine was Scrooge, because the Muppets were the supporting characters in that one film. But if Kermit is the main star of the movie, there isn't a reason in the world why the credits shouldn't list him first. Additionally, it bothers me that Ty Burrell appears to be the only one in character on this poster. Rick Gervais only ever plays himself anyway, so I'll let that slide (but only just), but what the hell is going on with Tina Fey? She's playing a Russian Gulag officer, yet here she's reacting like Tracey and Jenna just got up to some hijinks. That, and all three of them are terribly over photo shopped.

2) If the thing that the evil Kermit is doing with his finger in the corner of his mouth is meant to be a Dr. Evil reference, than that is a reference that is 15 years too late.

3) The entire poster in general. It's way too in keeping with the template of the previous film, in being a character spread. It exudes no humour, no style, and tells us nothing about the film other than it has Muppets in it, and they are watching you. If you look at the various posters the Muppets have used over the years, by comparison, this one is just bland (I had the same feelings about the last film's posters). I mean, even the Muppets don't look enthusiastic about it.

Here's hoping the film is better than these posters (and the last one was, so I have a hope. Unfortunately, Gervais and Burrell's presence does not fill me with confidence).

Via Den of Geek.

Marcia Wallace Has Died

Marcia Wallace, known best to multiple generations as the voice of Edna Krabappel, has died at the age of 70 due to complications from breast cancer.

First coming to prominence on The Bob Newhart Show, as receptionist Carol Kester, she would become a standard panelist on the celebrity-based game shows of the era (I'll remember her best from her appearances on Match Game). She first appeared in the second ever episode of The Simpsons, voicing her one and only character, Mrs. Krabappel, a role she would win an Emmy for, for 1992's superb episode Bart the Lover. As has been the tradition, the character will be retired from the show, leaving a monstrous hole in fabric of Springfield.

First diagnosed with breast cancer in 1985, she had spent the last 28  years as an outspoken advocate for early detection. As is common, the disease recurred, with Wallace combating the illness for some time before her death.

Via The National Post.

[Review] - Jim Henson, By Brian Jay Jones

There are very few people in history that I would consider a personal hero, whose life and works are both an inspiration and directly influence my own. Nikola Tesla is one, Douglas Adams another. And Jim Henson. A man who changed the tone and nature of children's entertainment, pioneered experimental (and now ubiquitous) technologies, and died unexpectedly, leaving a hole in the world when he left. A determined, if at times obsessive, genius whose enthusiasm and love of the morbid and the heartfelt did nothing less then dominate the world for a time.

Brian Jay Jones, gifted with unprecedented access to the Henson family, the Henson Company archives, and to Jim's own personal journals, has crafted the most complete picture of Jim's life to date. You might think that, 23 years after his death, there wouldn't be any surprises left, and yet Jones' biography if full of small revelations that cast Henson in a different light then we're accustomed, but never diminished his memory.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that find it quite easy to be green.

25 Oct 2013

A Moustache Is A Power Weapon, Wield It Wisely

We began the week with Nick Offerman, so it is only fitting that we end the week with Nick Offerman. And as with last year, Offerman and his fine facial foliage are the official spokesperson for Movember, the annual drive to increase men's health awareness, and to grow thick, luscious lip mittens (lip mittens would be a great name for a band). This year, Offerman takes us on a journey through the hallowed halls of moustache history, highlighting those soup strainers that changed the world.

And what is abundantly clear is that, whichever screenwriter out there is adapting Edmund Morris' epic three part biography of Teddy Roosevelt needs to send that script to Offerman post haste. It is the third role he was born to play. And he would be marvellous in it.

Via Uproxx.

This Is So Toy

Have you read Fray? You really should. Written during season six and seven of Buffy, it was Joss Whedon's first foyer into comics, and the first canonal continuation of the Buffyverse in another medium. No doubt the memory of writing Fray played a part in Whedon's decision years later to continue Buffy proper in comic form. The story is of the first slayer called in hundreds of years, after all magic and nearly all demons had been banished from the world by an unnamed yet obviously referenced slayer in our modern day.

The book is important for another reason: it marks the first time you can see a real cinematic shift in Whedon's writing. Despite being a serialised book, the tone, pacing and development of the story are much more in keeping with the structure of a film than a TV series. I know when I read it for the first time (after, I should say, it was collected, saving me the massive gap between the first half being published, and the second half), I immediately thought of how good a movie it would make. And Whedon obviously thought so too, because it shares more than a couple similarities with the Avengers, in terms of arc and pretty much the entire climax. Dragons weaving through the streets of New York, who'd have thought that's be popular?

Vincent Valentin shares this opinion, as he's got a Kickstarter project going now until Nov 20th, attempting to raise funds to produce an original short film called Lurk, set in Fray's end of the Buffyverse. The project video above lays things out pretty well, and I have to say Stefanie Woodburn looks pretty good as an older version of the comic character. The crew are obviously enthusiastic, and I'd be excited to see this one get made (and implore Dark Horse not to get all cease-and-desisty on them). Fray remains one of my favourite things about the Buffyverse, and any developments in her direction, Whedon involved or not, peaks my interest.

Via The Mary Sue.

[Analysis] - Do Marvel And Robert Downey Jr. Need Each Other?

Courtesy of Marvel
After watching the first trailer for The Winter Soldier yesterday, it put a bug in my brain. Here is a movie being fronted by Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson and Samuel L. Jackson, three stars of pretty prominent fame, who are guaranteed a steady income if they spend the rest of their careers playing these characters. Granted few actors want that kind of repetition, and would ultimately find no challenge in playing the same character over and over again (unless we're talking about Johnny Depp, obviously). But if all other movie roles dried up, they'd at least be set in the roles of Cap, Widow and Fury. I don't know why this thought kept picking at my mind, but during my commute home, it set up show front and centre of my skull.

Marvel is notoriously cheap too, picking lesser known, lower profile or straight up freshman actors to fill roles that are anticipated to have some longevity, because they aren't stars yet, and can be signed to multi-film contracts knowing that the Marvel films will raise their profiles. Chris Hemsworth was a fresh face, Chris Evans' biggest role had been as the Human Torch in the Fantastic Four films (and remained a supporting actor, rather than a lead). The supporting casts are generally television actors, like Thor's Jaimie Alexander, Idris Elba and Kat Dennings. It's only in the case of high profile, smaller roles, like Anthony Hopkins as Odin, or Jackson as Fury, or Johansson as Widow initially, that actual bankable names were hired. Except Iron Man.

Iron Man was the first out of the gate, and Marvel wanted to make a splash, so they stacked their film with the biggest names they could get. Terrence Howard was coming off the critical successes of Crash and Hustle & Flow, Jeff Bridges was Jeff Bridges, and Gwyneth Paltrow was still considered A-list despite not having a major success since The Royal Tenenbaums. And anchoring it all was former bad boy turned reformed charisma bomb, Robert Downey Jr., who was the biggest risk the studio took. Iron Man catapulted Downey back into the upper echelons of the Hollywood caste system, and as he recently concluded his Iron Man trilogy, time had come to renegotiate his contract. Downey was demanding big bucks, but was also claiming that he was a major draw. Joss Whedon conceded that when work began on Avengers, Downey believed that he would be the star. Kevin Feige has long maintained that the characters are larger than any one actor, using James Bond as his exemplar. And yet, contracts were signed, and Downey's role in Age of Ultron was secured. But it got me to thinking, who needs whom more, Marvel or Downey? 

After the jump, I'll look at the numbers, and see if anything might be discerned.

24 Oct 2013

Winter Soldier Is The SHIELD Movie We Deserve

Marvel has settled into a perfect release schedule with their films, with a new one arriving every six months, and bringing with it a preview of the next film. While I'm looking forward to Thor: the Dark World, and am hotly anticipating Guardians of the Galaxy, I never thought I'd be this geared up to see a Captain America film. And the truth is, I'm still not. Because from the looks of this trailer (and everything we've known about the film to this point), this isn't a Cap film, it's the SHIELD film that was teased back around the release of Iron Man 2. Cap is only an element in the machinery. Which might not be the best news for Agents of SHIELD, because this films looks to be all the things that the series can never be.

But let's talk about this trailer. It looks amazing. Yes, it's only two minutes edited specifically to attract attention, but I think Marvel has earned the assumption that the film will be as good as it looks. And visually, it looks stunning. Thematically, it looks compelling (has Cap begun to let a little nihilism seep into his life?). I like all the touches; the slightly more Dark Knight influenced redesign of the Cap suit, the more modern hair styles on everyone, the strong Le Carre vibe running through the whole thing (Robert Redford helps add that layer of gravitas). And the one-two punch of seeing a fleet of helicarriers, and that they apparently won't last very long. While Hayley Atwell doesn't show up for a glimpse of her flashback (this is an action heavy trailer, we can assume the next one will touch on the emotions), we do get a glimpse of Anthony Mackie's Falcon suit.

I'm very excited about this film now.

Night Of The Riffing Dead

She should really just relax.

I can say, without pause, that the most fun I've had in a long time was when I saw the RiffTrax Starship Troopers live show in August. And at the end of that show, they announced that their next live show would be the return of one of their most popular targets, George A. Romeo's original Night of the Living Dead, just in time for Halloween.

And it's tonight! So you've still got time to clear your schedule, grab a couple tickets from your local cinetorium and have the most thoroughly enjoyable evening you can. I cannot think of anything I would recommend more then watching Michael J. Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett mock the absurdities of film. Participating theatre information for the US can be found here, while Canadian location can be found here. Go, you won't regret it. Though you might pee yourself, so skip the big gulp at the concession stand.

Via RiffTrax.

[Review] - Agents Of SHIELD, Season 1 Epsiode 5, "Girl in the Flower Dress"

Courtesy of Marvel Television Productions.
Did SHIELD just introduce mutants to the MCU? Scorch, a name held by multiple characters in the comics, has always traditionally been a mutant, and his abilities here are never given a definitive origin, beyond being a natural gift. And one that the team seems completely unfazed by. Despite Coulson's insistence that the list of powered individuals is a short list, those shown thus far have been distinctively man made. With the looming issue of explaining Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch in Age of Ultron, the choice had to be made whether to introduce the mutant concept, which to this point had been exclusively the purview of the X-Men films, or look for another explanation. And it looks like they've sided with the mutants.

That's a huge deal. It is the first element original to SHIELD that will have ramifications across the entire MCU, and opens up previously inaccessible characters and storylines, especially SHIELD, which as a series will burn through a lot more plots then the films ever will. It's a shame then that the episode that introduced this concept is as unimpressive as it is. Last week continues to be the high water mark of this first batch of episodes, but at least the writers are taking the series in new directions as they gear up for the long haul towards May.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that were a lot more trusting before they were stabbed too.

23 Oct 2013

Sherlock Series 3 Broadcast Date Announced In The US. Bully For Them

The BBC has yet to announce an air date for the highly anticipated third series of Sherlock, but the Americans aren't just sitting around. PBS has announced that Sherlock will air in their Masterpiece series from January 19th to February 2nd. This gives the rest of us a pretty good picture as to when we can expect the modernised detective back on the Beeb. PBS rarely simulcasts their imported materials, so it's a fair bet that Sherlock will air in it's native land anytime between Christmas and the American premiere.

In fact, the length of time between Christmas and the American premiere is exactly three weeks, so I'd say it's a good bet that's when it will return.Which will mean that in the space of the month the world will see Cumberbatch in 12 Years A Slave, The Hobbit (with Freeman), August: Osage County, and Sherlock. So the question now becomes, how much Cumberbatch is too much Cumberbatch?

Via /Film.

WWII Will Take Longer To Finish

The Christmas movie season is always flush with film trying to win awards, making December one of the better months for cinephiles (which is nice considering that January is the worst month for cinephiles). This year, one of the films I was most looking forward to was George Clooney's The Monuments Men. Starring Matt Damon, Cate Blanchett, Hugh Bonneville, John Goodman, Bob Balaban, and Bill Murray, it's the true story of a squad of historians and art experts who are sent into Nazi occupied Europe in an attempt to save items of artistic importance from the German blight. The trailer struck a very light tone, with some calling it Ocean's Eight, but to me it looked like a lot of fun.

And we'll have to wait a while longer to find out. Originally scheduled for a Dec 18th release, Clooney has pushed the release back to early 2014 (depending on the studio's schedule, I'm going to guess late April or early March). His reasoning? “We just didn’t have enough time … If any of the effects looked cheesy, the whole movie would look cheesy.  We simply don’t have enough people to work enough hours to finish it.” To which I immediately respond, how many special effects are in the film? If it's a character centric period piece, what needs to be CG? Clearly this is endemic of the problem with Hollywood's over reliance on computer imagery to fill in the gaps where actual filmmaking used to take place. Or, maybe the studio insisted that Clooney add in a Nazi dragon, used to guard the plundered loot. I don't know.

A spring release will actually be better for the film, as it won't have to compete against the Goliath that is the Hobbit at the box office, or awards bait films like American Hustle and Saving Mr. Banks. At worst it'll be going up against whatever cartoon franchise sludge Sony has to put out.

Via Collider.

Allow The Great Communicator To Explain The Significance Of Our Insignificance

There are few better ways to start a day then with the dulcet tones of Carl Sagan. Reid Gower has put together a new edit of the famous Pale Blue Dot speech for his Sagan Series, "http://www.facebook.com/the...
Twitter - http://twitter.com/reidgower
G+ - http://bit.ly/VpHzQh

The Sagan Series is an educational project working in the hopes of promoting scientific literacy in the general population. Created by @ReidGower http://twitter.com/reidgower

Please note, this is an UNOFFICIAL NASA ad.

Copyright Disclaimer Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for "fair use" for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favor of fair use. All copyrighted materials contained herein belong to their respective copyright holders, I do not claim ownership over any of these materials. I realize no profit, monetary or otherwise, from the exhibition of these videos.

FULL CREDIT goes to Michael Marantz for his brilliant original:

Click below to purchase Michael Marantz's original piano composition.
AND OF COURSE to Carl Sagan. I made an entire page of credits and forgot to cite The Pale Blue Dot.
NASA - http://www.youtube.com/user...
BBC The Great Rift - http://www.imdb.com/title/t...
Home - http://www.imdb.com/title/t...
BBC Planet Earth - http://www.imdb.com/title/t...
Baraka - http://www.imdb.com/title/t...
"G20 Protest the Battle of Toronto" http://youtu.be/nOjGdvju-po
BBC Life - http://www.imdb.com/title/t...
"NYC - Mindrelic Timelapse" http://vimeo.com/18554749
"Eye Macro" http://vimeo.com/14199249
"Gulf Oil Spill Effects On Wildlife" http://youtu.be/8Uax5FRWnvs
"Biggest Full Moon HD Video" http://youtu.be/JBOA1uK9cNM
"Gemini Observatory" http://youtu.be/7H3EQGfY9KY
Used with permission wherever possible.

If you like media that celebrates the beauty and wonder of science, go check it out The Skeptics Guide to the Universe and listen to their podcast. Winner of best educational podcast of the year AND best science podcast of the year!
http://www.theskepticsguide...">an educational project working in the hopes of promoting scientific literacy in the general population" using social media. I'd say with works like this, he's on the right track.

Via The Chive.

22 Oct 2013

I No Longer Like NBC

It helps that I wasn't particularly taken with them to begin with, but this really caps me in the slidesock. As everyone should be aware, NBC is leading the pack with tanking in the ratings. If it is scripted and on NBC, chances are no one is watching it. It helps (or, doesn't help, I've muddled my intentions) that the vast majority of the scripted stuff on NBC is absolute bilge froth. The isolated islands of quality remain Parks and Rec, Hannibal (which is largely autonomous) and the James Spader specific moments of Blacklist. The only thing that could qualify as a success on NBC is the Voice.

So NBC have taken the bold step in reinventing the network, bringing in all new creative teams and investing in the idea that they can rebrand themselves as the cable-quality network equivalent. No, I'm just joking. They're doubling down on the Voice because Americans will watch anything where people both cry and win. And NBC is willing to sacrifice what little good they do have to make certain as many Americans are watching as still watch broadcast TV (read: very few).

Effective immediately, Parks and Rec is on a hiatus. Next week it will be replaced by The Voice, and a week after that a Saturday Night Live Halloween special will air, because this is 1979 and SNL is still relevant. After that another week of the Voice, followed by two weeks of hour long Parks and Rec burn offs (including their Halloween and Election episodes, just in time for American Thanksgiving). It'll then be replaced with more reality TV nonsense until Jan 9th, when it will move to 8:30 to make room for the recently announced return of Community (which, a year ago, I would have been looking forward to, and this year I'm more cautious).

So, in summery, no Parks until Nov 14th, then no Parks until Jan 9th. If no one is watching when the show is keeping to a regular schedule, how the hell do they think people will watch it if it's only on bi-monthly?

NBC, if you could meet me after the jump, I'd like to tell you something personally.

In Soviet Russian, Meteors Come From Underground

I know, I'm sorry for the headline, but this is cool and I couldn't help myself. Russian divers have found the largest piece of the meteorite that exploded over Chelyabinsk in February. Yes, divers. The meter long chunk of the originally 17 meter long rock was discovered at the bottom of Lake Chebarkul, 70 km from the blast site. The lake was frozen on impact, and researchers had to wait until it was thawed before they could go searching for it. This 570 kilogram piece represents the largest piece of debris from the impact found to date, and is unlikely to be bested.

The Chelyabinsk explosion was seen by millions around the world thanks to Russian drivers almost uniformally having dash mounted cameras, providing us with one of the best archives of footage of this kind of mid-atmosphere explosion. These sorts of impacts can be more dangerous than actual ground-fall impacts, as the shock wave carries farther, the debris field can be wider and the explosive force can rain fire down from the sky. This is believed to be the same kind of impact as happened in Tunguska in 1908, which flattened 2000 square kilometres. The Chelyabinsk explosion was significantly smaller, but still caused hundreds of injuries and millions of dollars in damage to a moderately populated area. And we didn't see it coming.

I'm only terrified of three things: Alzheimer's, the immediate future, and meteors. We can't do much about the first one, the second is pretty much a lost cause, but with the right funding and equipment, meteors are the only natural disaster that we can prevent. Which is important, because they are the only natural disaster to have repeatedly destroyed all life on the planet. Repeatedly. And we're over due. It's easy to lackadaisically talk about the K-T boundary (which, did you know is now called the K–Pg boundary?) or the Great Dying, but we weren't around for either of those. And the dinosaurs didn't have the ability to detect, intercept and deter these things. And neither do we. But we could, very quickly, if people took the threat seriously, which they never will if such things are culturally associated with Bruce Willis and Aerosmith. Chelyabinsk, and this meter long remnant of that event, should be paraded as a warning that one day the sky will start falling, and we can stop it, but only if we prepare now.

This article took on a real alarmist vibe. Next post will be lesson fear mongery, I promise.

Via the Bad Astronomer.

[Review] - Atlantis, Series 1 Episode 4, "Twist of Fate"

Courtesy of the BBC
Well, this was a bit of a dog. For the second week in a row, Atlantis skips the direct mythical adaptation, but the resulting story could only be considered original, funny or clever if this were 1987 and Steve Guttenberg were involved. And while the episode had the potential to dig into Bronze Age politics, it chose instead to focus on fart jokes and being utterly, relentlessly dull.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that

21 Oct 2013

The BBC Just Remembered Doctor Who Is Turning 50

So, here we have what is being called the first trailer for The Day of the Doctor, the 50th anniversary special. It isn't. Don't believe the hype. What it is, is a very well made piece of advertising for the fact that the series is turning 50 years old. It is a delightful (if slightly iffy in the CG department, much as those final scenes in the latest episode was) trek down memory lane (and wasn't it just heartbreakingly beautiful to see Sarah Jane in there?). It's nice to see all the nostalgia backing up, but it isn't what we wanted or what we need.

If this is a trailer for The Day, then it should have been released months ago, back when they announced the title. That's what this is: a title announcement trailer. And it's about two months too late. We've around a month to go until this thing drops, and we haven't seen moment one of it. At this point, we should have had this, an actual footage trailer, and maybe even a tease for a web exclusive prequel.

I can't help but feel that Moffat and the BBC, for all the arrangements they are making to commemorate that the show has been on for 50 years, have forgotten that above all else, the most important thing is that the show is still on, and parties and retrospectives are nice, but it's the show that matters and frankly after the last couple series we're all a bit worried that it might not be good. So show us something that will impress us.

Ottawa Doubles Down On Geek Obession

From C Stuckless
Can anyone, in the comments or somewhere, explain to me the difference between a "comic-con" and a "fan expo." On the surface one might assume that a "comic-con" is when comics convene, and a "fan expo" is where fan are exposed. Though I think we can all agree that fans should expose themselves as rarely as possible.

The obvious answer is creative marketing, because as far as I can tell there is nothing to differentiate between a con and an expo. But, I guess I'll find out because the folks who created the Ottawa Comiccon (and, in only two years, have made it a success) are introducing the first Ottawa Pop Expo, and I don't understand how it's different from it's spring-time cousin, other than the fact it'll be held Dec 7th and 8th, at the Ernst & Young Centre.

It's still early days, but the guest list is filling in nicely. On the comics side of things, guests will include Tony Moore, Larry Hama, Geof Isherwood and Howard Chaykin. On the acting side of things, Harry Potter's Tom Felton, The Boondock Saints' Sean Patrick Flanery and David Della Rocco, The Walking Dead's Sarah Wayne Callies and Norman Reedus (who I've heard is a hoot at conventions), Stargate: Atlantis' and Game of Thrones' Jason Momoa, and the Seventh Doctor himself Sylvester McCoy. Additional guests include former WWF stars The Honky Tonk Man and Bret "Hitman" Hart, as well as "cosplayeuses" Monika Lee and Jessica Nigri (which, apparently paying people to come to your conventions to dress up is a thing now).

As for everything else, it looks identical to the set up they've used the last couple May's, so as long as they improve the wireless situation for the credit card machines, everything should be similar, if more low key. I will be attending, so if you see a behatted individual of the disgruntled variety roaming the convention floor, it might be me. Or it might be another behatted and disgruntled soul. There are more of us than you might expect.

Via Ottawa Pop Expo.

[Review] - Paddle Your Own Canoe, By Nick Offerman

As Uproxx recently reminded us all, Nick Offerman was not the only one to audition for the role of Ron Swanson. Mike O’Malley, Thomas Lennon, and Matt Walsh were all up for the role, and would have all been fine in the antagonistic season one version of Ron. However, once you go beyond that point, the writers and the actor inhabiting Ron took control and the idea of any actor playing Ron Swanson other than Nick Offerman becomes unimaginable (Offerman, as he informs us in his memoir, originally auditioned for an abandoned character named Josh, essentially as an excuse by Greg Daniels and Mike Schur to get Offerman in front of NBC execs). Quite a lot of Offerman has found its way into Ron Swanson, but the public must remember that the opposite is not true.

There is very little of Ron Swanson in Nick Offerman, so if you pick up Paddle Your Own Canoe expecting Ron Swanson's guide to life, prepare to be disappointed. I suggest looking here for all you need in that department. What Canoe is, is a biography of a passionate, fully formed and expressive individual, who was lucky enough and talented enough to play one of the best fictional characters of the television era. But Ron Swanson he is not. Offerman is an artist, a romantic, a former Born Again Christan (he was in it for the sex), a recreational drug user and in one instance (almost unforgivably) a proponent of eating kale. He wears his heart very much on his sleeve, and despite a propensity for woodworking, comes off as much more of a sensitive everyman than the character he has become famous for playing.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that end in Ron Swanson.

18 Oct 2013

Batman Makes Some Soild Points About How A Superman Team Up Would Be Stupid

Is it weird that until now it hadn't occurred to me that the plot of Batman/Superman: Dead By Dawn would be the government sending Superman to arrest Batman? Even though it's part of the Dark Knight Returns, and a completely obvious plot for the film to take, considering that the Man of Steel Superman is kind of the US military's errand boy.

Anyway, that doesn't matter because Pete Holmes recurring College Humor "Badman" sketches have now made Zack Snyder's Twelve Bats of the Superidor completely redundant. In the newest sketch, Superman proposes a team up, and Batman sets him remarkably straight. Even if the sketch does steal a joke from The Tick (start watchng at 10:03), it's a solid place to end the week.

Via Uproxx.

These People Are Looking A Little Too Sexy For My Liking

It was July of last year that we were treated to an "instalment banner" like this for The Hobbit. This year we had to wait til October, I think someone at Warner Bros. is slipping.

 I have issues with this year's model. First off, there is no evidence of a dragon. For a film whose primary antagonist is a dragon, is named after said dragon, and whose trailers are dragon plentiful, the lack of dragon is muchly disappointing. Second, I liked that last year's told the story of the film in images. This one is just a collection of desktop backgrounds without context.

And finally, there is way too much of a focus on the sexy. Setting aside that Orlando Bloom has as much right being a promotional focus for this film as a steak dinner has a PETA rally, that the only dwarves featured of the baker's dozen are the sexy, smouldering ones is insulting. I had no problem with the depiction of Fili and Kili in the actual film, but the way the promo depart has been flouting Aidan Turner like he's an Abercrombie and Fitch model is just plain wrong.

So, to summarise, more dragon, less sexy. Or, more dragon, because dragon=sexy.

I've provided the large, long, unbroken original after the jump.

[Opinion] - Welcome To The Future, It's Terrible

We have a problem: the future is going to suck. And I'm not talking about five hundred, two thousand or deep time and a half from now, I mean the next thirty years. Because thanks to a period of technological advancement not seen since the industrial revolution, we are now a completely digital society. Our books are digital, our televisions are digital, seven hells even our eye glasses are digital. There are apps for everything, and the word "phone" is the least indicative name, a relic of a bygone era, for what the majority of the population carries around in their pockets. They are thinking machine super computers, scaled down and discounted for market competition. The thing people are swiping their fingers over while they're meant to be driving are more powerful than the first four computers I owned, combined.

And therein lies the problem. Because we have a generation of youths for whom technology is completely ubiquitous, and because of that have no learned skills when it comes to maintaining, up keeping or a third thing that means the same as "fixing" these machines. They have only basic skills, little more than the ability to turn it off and turn it back on again. And, thanks to a complete lack of deductive reasoning, an entire generation is without the ability to recognise a problem, understand the steps necessary to fix the problem, and than do so. Because in their lives, usually a computer does it for them.

Buckle up, because the future is now, and the future has terrible customer service. Hit the jump for more.

17 Oct 2013

It's A Bird! It's A Plane! It's A 75 Year Old Reference!

Bruce Timm has done more good will for DC Comics than any other single person over the last twenty years. Between creating the definitive versions of the catalogue of characters for the DCAU, and his continued work in the animated film department, fans who can stand (or can't understand) the company's ineptitude when it comes to live action, and incompetence when it comes to producing readable books, can find salvation in Timm's work. The last bit if grace we can salvage from this mess is in his cartoons.

Zack Synder is not along is being one of the many responsible for dropping his britches and relieving himself all over the expectations fans have of how these characters can be treated on screen, in large part due to Timm's animations. So, the two of them coming together to celebrate Superman's 75 anniversary is like those few instances when Superman and Lex have to work on the same side, against Brainiac or Darkseid. It could go wrong, either way it'll be over quick, and hopefully the stronger influence (in this case, Timm) will prevail. And prevail it has, because this 2 minute animation is lovely in the way is quickly and wordlessly details the character's evolution over the years, from book to radio to TV and film, through the Golden, Silver, Dark and New ages.

A good reminder of how inspirational the character can be. When he's not snapping his enemy's neck.

Via Den of Geek.

Here's Hoping This Will Be A Good Day

Courtesy of the BBC

Despite a name, and a poster, and now some new promo images, the BBC has yet to release a trailer for The Day of the Doctor, despite the fact we're just over a month away from the 50th anniversary. And as interesting as these pictures are, they aren't moving. And either they are burying the lead with all the multi-Doctor stuff, or the monsters aren't going to play as large a role as we might have thought, but there hasn't been a single mention of the Zygons since the 50th was announced.

Anyway, hit the jump for the rest of the pictures, and a brief discussion about what they could mean.

[Review] - Agents Of SHIELD, Season 1 Episode 4, "Eye-Spy"

Courtesy of Marvel Television Productions.
I have nothing against Maurissa Tancharoen and Jed Whedon, but they have no experience as showrunners. They've written on many different series over the years, and obviously have the trust of their brother. But if they weren't relatives of the House of Joss, they probably wouldn't have gotten the job running the biggest experiment in the highest grossing franchise ever. Even with Joss operating as an omniscient force, they are new at this. 

Jeffrey Bell is not. He cut his teeth on the X-Files before running Angel and V. He knows how to write ensemble casts, and he knows how to seed threats and build tension. So it shouldn't be that much of a surprise that his first lone credit episode of SHIELD has been the series' best thus far. It also shouldn't be a surprise that the show is improving more and more with each episode. It is still very early days, and finding it's footing. This episode can be seen as firmly solid ground.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that never learned the difference between girl parts and boy parts.

16 Oct 2013

At Medieval Land Fun-Time World, You Win Or You Get Half Off Your Next Admission

I've said it before and I'll say it again, the folks over at Bad Lip Reading are geniuses. And while I thought it would be impossible for them to top their Twilight video, they have done so in a big way. Recutting the Game of Thrones into a Meatballs-style comedy about Sean Bean running a Medieval Times themed amusement park is their opus. I'm actually depressed that this movie doesn't exist, but then I tell myself not to worry. The funniest parts are always in the trailer.

Hit the jump for the "trailer", plus the "outtakes." Trust me, this is the best thing you could do with your day.

The BBC Gets Strange... And Norrell

This past March, when the BBC announced their summer line up, one item attracted a lot of attention in the right circles: an adaptation of Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, a weighty tome concerning magicians in early 1800's Britain that, in hardcover, special care should be made that it doesn't fall on any household pets. The sheer volume of material could only be adapted as a series, and at the time I wondered if they intended to adapt the entire novel in the one series, and if so, how much they would have to omit to do so. While their intentions in that regard are as of yet unknown, the casting process has begun, and they've started in the right place: at the cover.

Playing the elder, set-in-his-ways master magician Gilbert Norrell will be Eddie Marsan, most recently seen in Edgar Wright's The World's End. Marsan is considerably younger than the literary Norrell, but has the appropriate amount of stern gravitas to make the role his own. And playing his apprentice, Jonathan Strange, will be Bertie Carvel, most recently seen as Bamatabois in Les Misérables (and made an appearence in a Tenth Doctor episode of Doctor Who) whose casting I have no complaints about at all. He is exactly as I imagined Strange to be when I read the book.

The BBC's Strange and Norrell stands to be the event of next year, combining the Beeb's greatest strength (period drama) with the current in high television fashion (mystical fantasy). I expect big things from this series. And they appear to be getting off on the right foot.

Via The Mary Sue.

[Review] - Atlantis, Series 1 Episode 3, "A Boy Of No Consequence"

Courtesy of the BBC
Third episode in, and the series takes a break from the myth plundering, for an episode more focused on characters and a touch of cultural archaeology. While it's a welcome change, without the glitz of some CG beastie, the faults of the program show through all the more. And while most of these are balanced by something done well, balance does not make for good television, it makes for passable television. And worst of all, the biggest fault is looking to be the hero himself.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that share a bond that transcends the physical.

15 Oct 2013

My Favourite Batgirl Returns To DC Comics

Art by Dustin Nguyen
Dustin Nguyen
Dustin Nguyen

I say that, but I've been burned before. After being unceremoniously wiped from existence during the New 52, Stephanie Brown is set to make a return to DC Comics properly (she was intended to be the Robin in the Smallville continuation book, before being replaced with Barbara Gordon). Scott Snyder, writer of Batman (one of only two books worth reading over at DC right now), and mastermind behind next year's weekly Batman: Eternals title, announced this past weekend in New York that fan favourite Buffy-of-the-Bat-family Brown would be returning during the run on Eternals. Credit goes to co-writer James Tynion IV, and to the DC editorial staff for getting their thumbs out of their asses, at least until a week before publication when they do a 180 and insist that the character be renamed Marcia Goodenheim, and have green hair.

Synder didn't elaborate on what Brown's role in the New 52 would be, consider that they already have a Batgirl, it's doubtful she'll be putting on her blacks-and-purples (and, can anyone explain to me why Bab's is wearing a white Batgirl suit on the cover of the most recent solicitations? Because I'm digging the look, if not the book).

Via ComicsAlliance.

Marvel Looks To Grow In The Future [Updated]

I don't usually like to report casting assumptions, because they more often than not turn out to be either 1) false or b) irrelevant when someone unexpected pulls a Kansas City Shuffle and gets the part. But I'm still catching up on the weekend's news, and this is fun.

Reports are that the two front runners for Edgar Wright's Ant-Man film are Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Paul Rudd. Ant-Man is the film of focus for Marvel now, since they've got cameras rolling in front of Guardians, and Avengers is coming along nicely to start filming in the late winter. Variety reports that "both [actors] are poised to meet with Marvel execs and Wright one more time before a final decision is made." Variety is also reporting that the actors are auditioning for the role of Hank Pym, which might be a mistake or might be a sign of things having changed by way of the script. When first we heard about Ant-Man way way back in the heady days of the post-Iron Man Phase 1, Wright's take was going to be multigenerational, with Pym the original Ant-Man of the sixties, and Scott Lang would be the modern Ant-Man (my suggestion for the elder Pym was Steve Martin). This has either changed, or Variety got their Ant-Men mixed up. Or, it could be that Rudd and Levitt are competing for the role of the younger, sixties-centred Pym.

See, this is why I hate reporting this stuff: there is just too much that is hearsay. Wright is apparently looking for an everyman looking actor, to contrast the large ball of man-pretty that is the Avengers (so, more in the realm of Mark Ruffalo's Banner). I wouldn't necessarily class Levitt as an everyman, not after his turns of late. But I can see either of them working well with Wright. I feel that Levitt would have the edge, being able to match the comedy with the action, while Rudd would be more of a slacker hero (actually, in a perfect world, Rudd would be a better Plastic Man over at DC).

Update: Joseph Gordon-Levitt has clarified that this rumour, for his part, is "nothing but lies." Which is why I don't usually publish this stuff. Dammit to hell, reality. Stop proving my preconceptions valid!

Marvel meanwhile, off the successful full season pick up of Agents of SHIELD at ABC, the company is reportedly shopping "a content package of four drama series and a miniseries that totals 60 episodes" to non-traditional broadcasters like Netflix and Amazon. There is no indication as to what the content might be, whether it might be the proposed Peggy Carter series, or something entirely new. As I've pointed out in the past, there are more than enough potential ideas for serialised stories on TV or reasonable TV substitutes.

What's important to remember is that absolutely none of the above is actual news, just rumor. 

Via Collider, twice.

[Review] - In A World...

Courtesy of Team G
I suppose that it's both a symptom of the problems with the system, and a good sign of things to come, that the movies I've been most impressed with this year have been those smaller features from first time directors. It helps that the last two, Joseph Gordon-Levitt's Don Jon, and Lake Bell's In A World..., were both made by folks how aren't new to the game. They've both been around, seen other people do the job well, and poorly, and took their time with their product. Bell's film lacks the focus of intent that Levitt's did, but make up for a somewhat meandering sight line and lack of substantial plot by being incredibly endearing.

And she had help from some talented friends. Which is never a bad thing.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that never want Ken Marino to suck on their nose.

14 Oct 2013

No Posts Today

To all Canadians, be you in Canada or in any other part of the world, as you sit down today to eat your turkey (or reasonable localised turkey substitute) and remember the true meaning of the day: that there isn't anything the Americans can do that we can do one month earlier and with far less enthusiasm.

11 Oct 2013

No Posts Today

10 Oct 2013

Fight Movie To Get A "Raze" Out Of You

Apparently this has been around for a while, but I'm only learning about it now. Raze is directed by Josh C. Waller, written by Robert Beaucage, and stars stunt woman extraordinaire Zoe Bell as one of "50 women that are kidnapped and held captive and forced to fight to the death. They all have a loved one that’s being held ransom so if we don't fight, our loved one dies. If we lose, our loved one dies, so basically literally forced to fight to the death."

The film also stars genre star Doug Jones and Continuum's Rachel Nichols, and this trailer looks equal parts brutal and fun. There is a distinct grindhouse feel to it, despite the more modern trappings and camera work, which I think could be an interesting direction to take it in, so long as the tone remains consistent throughout. It will be released in January.

Lana. Lana! LANA!

Danger zone.

Via Uproxx.

[Review] - Agents Of SHIELD, Season 1 Episode 3, "The Asset"

Courtesy of Marvel Television Productions.
May I remind people, before they get too jumpy about SHIELD not being the most amazing thing ever straight off the bat, that very few shows are. Look at Buffy: the first six episodes featured a body switching witch-mom, giant virgin eating bugs and hyena-possession. Are any of those episodes considered classics of the series? A foundation sure, but it wasn't until the second half of the season that the show began to hit it's stride, to fill in the mythology and develop it's own identity. This is down to Whedon's stance that the first six episodes are the true pilot, the opportunity to introduce new and late viewers to the broad strokes of the series before getting down to the nitty gritty.

So, I'm expecting big things from the show come November sweeps. Until then, inconsistency is to be expected (though, I won't stop pointing to it and saying what needs to be fixed), and the broader range of the series should not be expected to reveal itself just yet. Though, my hope is that we got a glimpse of what the series as a whole could be in this episode, the sort of episode everyone else was hoping for from day one. An episode that felt, for the first time, to be set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Beyond that, actually. This episode felt like it was ripped from the pages of a Marvel comic itself.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that will only be successful with the aid of a brave little monkey.

9 Oct 2013

Pixar Spinoff Cancelled

Courtesy of Pixar

A sensational headline, and I apologise for that. Three and a half years after opening, Pixar Canada has been shut by the Disney-owned animation company. Pixar announced that, effective immediately, the satellite studio would cease operations, putting 100 employees out of work. According to Disney, "A decision was made to refocus operations and  resources under the one roof."

Pixar Canada had been set up with the mission statement to make to shorts based around existing Pixar characters, including many Car Toons, and the Partysuarus Rex Toy Story short. All Pixar operations will now operate out of the home office in Emeryville, California.

Via /Film.

Do Dogs Have Brains: An In-depth Examination

Occasionally, on the internet, someone will do or say something so monumentally stupid that everyone else affords themselves a couple minutes to sit and watch and reflect on the concepts of natural selection. Sometimes it's someone jumping from a great height onto a startlingly solid object. Sometimes it's a colossal failure of a popular dance routine. Or, sometimes it's like poor Trish here, who for reasons she's making very obvious to viewers has rarely been told "no," it's just good old fashioned ignorance.

Instead of just pointing at Trish and laughing, I decided to give her the benefit of the doubt. After the jump I've included a transcript of my thought process as I was watching her, let's call it an opinion.

[Review] - Don Jon

Courtesy of HitRecord Films
Obviously, the hook here is porn. But, as Joseph Gordon-Levitt has made clear in interviews, his directorial debut is meant more to be a cultural examination of the unrealistic expectations generated by the media, for both genders. Body image, gender roles and sexual repression are all satirically under the microscope in a solid piece of film making, from the script up. It's not perfect, but it exudes a confidence that first time filmmakers rarely are capable of. There is a certainly of intent, a very obvious and specific vision that Levitt had when putting the film together. Many filmmakers take years to find a voice and style of their own, but Levitt, perhaps by benefit of having been a child actor, and grown up around the industry, has his style down. Like his Don, he knows what's good at, plays to his strengths, and works through his flaws as best he can.

And, there is porn.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that are sorry for these and all the sins of their past life.

8 Oct 2013

Crowd Funding Solves An Exotic Problem

The Middleman is one of those unique pieces of cultural analysis, wrapped in a cosy cotton layer of satire that is seemingly inevitably doomed to short, brilliant bursts of life, only to fade away shortly afterwards. The original three volumes by writer Javier Grillo-Marxauch and artist Les McClaine, and the 12 episode TV series that followed are shape, very aware of what they are and what they are doing, and just utterly fantastic to read/watch. Puns, words play, references that don't feel the need to wink at you every time. Gosh darn it Dubbie, they were sheer elegance in their complexity.

And now, thanks to the internet, they will return. A recently launched Indiegogo campaign made it's goal of $37,000 in less than a week, and has more than a month left to go. The original point of the campaign? To publish The Middleman: The Pan-Universal Parental Reconciliation!, a continuation of the original unfinished novel run, and an opportunity to bridge the comics universe with the universe created in the TV series. On top of that, the series cast will reunite at a fan event next May to live read the continuation, and feature Buffy star Amber Benson as the comic version of Wendy (her TV counterpart was played by Natalie Morales).

If the campaign raises a total of $60,000 (as of this writing, they are three quarters of the way there, with plenty of time), the original and now largely out of print volumes, including the conclusion to the cancelled TV series, The Doomsday Armageddon Apocalypse, will be reprinted and for the first time in colour! If you wish to contribute to the campaign, you have until Nov 10th.

Via ComicsAlliance.

Under His Tutelage, You Too Can Grow From A Husband Into A Father, And From A Father Into A Swanson

How to properly parent*:

Step 1: Sire progeny, preferably with the cooperation of your special lady friend.

Step 2: Construct your infant child a crib out of old growth mahogany, or if you don't want to look like some kind of city dwelling communist, carve a crib out of a single red wood stump.

Step 3: Trap, kill and stuff a woodland creature. Present it to your offspring as a play thing. Acceptable names include "Fluffy" and "Tim."

Step 4: Print and mount the Swanson Pyramid of Greatness in direct eye line of the infant's sleeping quarters. Teacher them to read from it, so that the lessons may seep into their being from the earliest instance. Remember, preparedness against skim milk can never begin too soon.

Step 5: Teach them to skate. This will prepare them for much.

Step 6: Expose them to as much of nature as possible, not only for the physical and mental strengthening it will give them, but also because getting mud in the nose and all manner of insect bite it will result in fewer fashionable allergies, like wheat-grass and dairy.

Step 7: Encourage them to be independent, free spirited persons, whose whims are not controlled by media influence or herd mentalities. However, stomp out any signs of vegetarianism at their earliest moments. That stuff is just nonsense.

Step 8: DO NOT BUY THEM A PHONE. Buy them a hatchet, and explain that they must earn the axe.

*Please note, the author has not successfully implemented these techniques on any human children. All things being equal, that's probably for the best.

[Review] - Atlantis, Series 1 Episode 2, "A Girl By Any Other Name"

Courtesy of Urban Myth Films
Second episode in, and the heroes of Atlantis have settled into a new role as heroes for hire. It also appears that the show has settled into the way the week to week is going to work. Hercules will bumble something, Jason will be called upon to be valiant, and Pythagoras will be the straight man between them. All the while, mythology will be twisted in new and interesting ways. And now they've got a girl! And she'll eventually be a horrible demon thing!

This second episode was an improvement over the first, having found a better pace and a more organic way to lead into the storyline. There are still elements that aren't working, or haven't been integrated in a cohesive way, and there is at least one character that hasn't proven their purpose yet, but it is still early days. Hopefully, these things will even out in the next couple weeks.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that thought Crete was looking more like Cumbria than the Mediterranean.

7 Oct 2013

I, Frankenstein Looks Like Something I, Can Miss

There is a scene in the second series of Episodes where the TV executive complains that his network doesn't have a "vampire show," but insists that it can't be the standard vampires and werewolves stuff. His team immediately begins to shout out every unusual fantasy creature they can think of, like trolls, and Gypsies.

I can't help but wonder if it wasn't exactly this sort of conversation that led to I, Frankenstein getting a green light. Underworld had vampire and werewolves, so the next movie has to be fantasy horror somethings vs. somethings. And low and behold, the comic on which this film is based is noticed, and here we are with a Frankenstein vs. gargoyles film. That looks bad. I mean, Underworld wasn't good, but the original had it's charms. But I, Frankenstein looks worse than your usual January release bad, this looks Van Helsing bad. This looks Asylum direct-to-video bad.

And I had no idea that Bill Nighy had such crippling gambling debts, as that is clearly the only reason for his involvement here.

Poop Technologies Take A Bold Step Forward

Do you have a favourite medical procedure? Because I do. The technical name for the procedure is fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT), which can otherwise be described as a "poop transplant." It is the most effective treatment against C. difficile and other bowel disorders, like IBS. The science behind the procedure is that healthy bacterial fecal flora from a donor is introduced to the system of the patient, to replenish or help spur the development of such bacteria in the inflicted person.

Now, when I say this is my favourite medical procedure, I don't mean that I like having it done, as like a weekend hobby. I like the science behind it, and I love the reactions this procedure gets from people the first time they hear about it. I reacted this way, as has everyone. First, there is disbelief. Then, there is amazement. Then a tiny bit of disgust. Then more amazement. Then the need to tell absolutely everyone you encounter in a day about poop transplants. And the crazy thing is, everyone find out about it in their own time. It isn't one of those things that hits the net and everyone knows about it by the end of the week. I found out about it six years ago when a coworker of mine was diagnosed with C. diff. Stephen Colbert found out about it two years ago. Kelly Ripa learnt about it last Friday.

And there is exciting news on this front. Dr. Tom Louie, an infectious diseases expert at the University of Calgary, has been using the FMT method for years to great results. However, the nature of the procedure (a colonoscopy is involved, and that's not fun for anyone) has lead him to create a pill that can deliver the same bacterial load to the patient without the invasive procedure. He has tested his home made pills on nearly thirty of his patients, all with positive results. According to Dr. Louie, these pills are easier for the patient, but are not yet  viable on any kind of scale, saying, "I think the thing is that if you're going to take poop and process it into capsules, you need to have a specific lab that is geared up to do that."

Dr. Louie's procedures involves taking the harvested... sorry, donated fecal matter, and diluting and separating out the bacteria needed. For every 200 grams of fecal matter, he was able to produce a couple teaspoons of concentrated material, which are then sealed in three layers of gelatin capsules, to survive the trip through the stomach and into the intestines. Despite the time and effort it takes to create each pill for each patient, it is a significant improvement over the previous alternative to the "direct injection," a nasogastric tube inserted in a nostril, and lead through the stomach into the intestines. Dr. Louie is continue his research, and working with colleagues in Britain to fine tune the specific bacteria needed to counter the effects of the C. diff, hopefully making it easier to obtain and produce on a larger scale.

Via the CBC.
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