Jul 8, 2008
So a group of people in the office is talking about young kids and their hazards and trying to freak out the recently married people. We're talking about the sleeping habits of our kids. So I say:
Babies must sleep. Babies must rest. Wise is the one who does not waken them.
. . . and get a lot of blank, uncomfortable looks.
Please note I had the good judgment not to complete the quote.
Jul 2, 2008
Geeks — including gaming geeks in particular — are not any more or less dysfunctional, on average, than the general populace.
However, as with any group, there is a core subset of uber-geeks who take games very very seriously and get very upset about sequels to their cherished games — sequels which cannot possibly live up to the image of the game said geeks have constructed in their head. Hence when a company like Blizzard announces that it's producing Diablo III, latest in an insanely popular clickfest crpg-lite, many Diablo fans react roughly the way Al-Qaeda would if you published a cartoon in which Muhammad wins a hot dog eating contest.
Hence a furious and interminable argument about the art direction and visual style of the newest Diablo, culminating in a hilariously entitled and irritable online petition to Blizzard complaining that the new game will be just too fucking pretty.
It has a list of demands headed What we want. It also has a list of complaints:
Outside scenarios with vivid colors, beautiful forests with colorful vegetation, shinny and beautiful waterfalls where even rainbows take place.
Oh, won't someone think of the imps?
Jun 23, 2008
Via i09, I see that HBO has a new drama series in production: True Blood, about a world in which vampires are real and reveal themselves to society. It appears questionable, but given HBO's track record with drama series, I'm willing to give it a look.
The writers shrewdly realize that this sort of thing would generate vampire wannabees — or the Poseferatu, as I would call them. I suspect that the Poseferatu would outnumber real vampires by about 20 to 1. I mean there's no hint of real vampires now and we've already got scads of orally fixated goths schlepping about holding Anne Rice readings. Imagine what would happen if they got wind that the real thing is lurking about. At the very least, there would be an exponential increase in shitty poetry.
Jun 15, 2008
Via Prof. Bainbridge, I see that George R.R. Martin has posted an update on the development of the HBO adaption of the Song of Ice and Fire series, and specifically A Game of Thrones.
So far, the reports are good, and HBO seems to like what they're seeing… but no, there's no greenlight yet, A GAME OF THRONES remains a script in development, not a series in production.
The one hard bit of news is that HBO has reached agreement with the BBC for them to come in as a partner on the series… IF it goes ahead. That's very cool news, and I'm excited and pleased to have the BBC involved… but even so, we're still in the crossed fingers stage here, not the shooting-off-fireworks stage.
The BBC has done some of the greatest miniseries adaptations of books ever (I, Claudius being a notable example, the House of Cards trilogy is another), and I think it could make a fantastic partner for HBO. HBO, on the other hand, has made some real strides in series with complex characters and story arcs, and is comfortable with stories drenched with gore and sex, as SOIAF most certainly is. HBO is one of the few networks I could see running SOIAF without inserting Hollywood endings that would spoil the entire point of the series.
Sooner or later I'm going to have to do an epic "Cast the SOIAF series" post. Latest thought: James Caviezel as Ned.
No new updates on "A Dance With Dragons."
Jun 11, 2008
My seven-year-old is totally into Star Wars stuff. He's possibly even more into it than I was in 1977, though that would be difficult.
So it's really for him that I need to buy and play with a Force FX Lightsaber and play with it in a dark room.
It's for the children. Oh, won't somebody think of the children?
Jun 6, 2008
. . . they probably dream about people punching aliens.
Though with a better soundtrack, I hope. Maybe The Blue Danube?
May 16, 2008
Waste your Friday afternoon by exploring what our friends across the pond did to investigate whether aliens were visiting England. Recently released documents from the UK national archives document various military inquiries and reports over the decades. The British, ever ones for proper procedure, eventually handled the matter very decorously in the House of Lords:
The last time the Government made a full public statement on its policy was in January 1979 when UFOs were the subject of a lengthy debate in the House of Lords. This was initiated by Lord Clancarty (Brinsley le Poer Trench), a ufologist who had written several books on the subject. Clancarty believed the MoD were covering up the truth about UFOs and he tabled a motion that called on the UK Government to set up an inquiry and for the Defence Minister to make a televised statement on UFOs. In the Lords, the Government's response was delivered by a retired Royal Navy officer and Labour peer, Lord Strabolgi (David Kenworthy). His closing remarks were: ‘…as for telling the public the truth about UFOs, the truth is simple. There really are many strange phenomena in the sky, and these are invariably reported by rational people. But there is a wide range of natural explanations to account for such phenomena. There is nothing to suggest to Her Majesty’s Government that such phenomena are alien spacecraft’.
To me, the documents are not fascinating because they deal with flying saucers — they are fascinating sources of social history. Enjoy.
May 15, 2008
Hmm. Work is underway on a show called Fringe, a filmed-in-Canada drama about an FBI unit that investigates weird shit. But wait! No David Duchovny sightings yet. i09 reports that it's supposed to be more in the style of Heroes than X-Files.
It would be interesting to see what they could do with this premise nowadays. It's far more common for primetime dramas to have story arcs that even span over seasons. Maybe they've gotten better at it — I always thought the long-term arcs were the weak point of X-Files.
Meanwhile, there's always Shadow Unit.
May 7, 2008
Since I'm talking about books a lot today, I wanted to mention something I saw over at John Scalzi's blog. Scalzi talks about writing the introduction to Project Moonbase and Others, a book of scripts that Robert A. Heinlein wrote for a 1950s television show that never sought the light of day. Scalzi's introduction makes the book sound interesting not just for the stories (it's not every day you find unpublished Heinlein any more), but for Heinlein's script notes about presenting the stories for television:
What’s different in this book–and what makes it worth reading aside from the stories themselves–is that thanks to the script notes that accompany nearly all of the teleplays here, you get commentary from Heinlein himself about how one goes about imagining a future, based on what you have in front of you at the time.
. . . .
Heinlein writes these script notes because in them he’s talking to set designers, art directors, prop handlers and other key production folks who may not be familiar with science fiction and thus need an explanation not only for what Heinlein is doing here but why. In today’s science fiction-laden Hollywood, set designers and art directors probably wouldn’t need this sort of annotation, but in 1953, when the only science fiction film that took science seriously was Heinlein’s own Destination Moon in 1951, it was still useful.
These days I prefer that era of Heinlein — before the not-Ayn-Rand-but-heading-in-her-direction preaching or the somewhat queasy sex focus. Looks worth a read.
May 6, 2008
I started to love science fiction in the 1970s, which was pretty much the high-water mark for sci-fi campiness. We had the original Battlestar Galactica, the Buck Rodgers series, and innumerable imitators. They featured slapstick, Hooters-girl outfits, and variety-show sensibilities. By contrast, I think most modern sci-fi is characterized by a more noir sensibility. Certainly the modern Battlestar Galactica is dark and gritty in a way that makes the old series look entirely frivolous.
But the price of decent scifi is vigilance. In that spirit, enjoy i09's 21 Ways To Eradicate Campiness From Science Fiction. I agree with all of it. I'd add this, which is related to their observations about costume — both modern, good sci-fi and campy sci-fi address sex, like most adult genres. But campy sci-fi has a pronounced adolescent approach to sex — it's all hyuck-hyuck and nervous and leering. Modern noirish sci-fi is much more matter-of-fact.
May 5, 2008
The Department of Commerce has a nifty little website, here, which allows one to create, in graphic format, tables illustrating the United States' balance of trade in all sorts of products. Curious about where America's sword, cutlass, and bayonet industry stands in the world, I was able to create this:
It seems reddish nations, such as Canada, Australia, and oddly enough Japan, just can't get enough American steel, while yellowish nations, such as India and China, are flooding our markets with cheap wallhangers, flimsy replica bayonets and the like.
Via Alien Corn, who has produced important work of his own documenting the state of the buggywhip industry.
May 2, 2008
This is worthy of geekgasm on so many levels.
The Cyberdyne Corporation is set to begin manufacture of powered robotic exoskeletons. Allegedly for industrial purposes, and prosthetic assistance to the disabled.
May 1, 2008
io9 has a list of 20 scientific books that they think science fiction fans should read:
What are the science books you should be reading now if you want your brain turned inside-out by weird new ideas that might just change the world for real? We've got 20 brilliant, and brilliantly-written, science books that have already influenced science fiction — or are about to.
For the record, I've read only four of these, though I've been meaning to borrow the Feynman from my father, who is a fan. Note that they are definitely not all "hard science." I may look into a few more. And the robot one looks like just prudent reading.
Apr 30, 2008
Not over the newly released Grand Theft Auto IV, I'll add. That's romper room stuff compared to the controversy sure to be generated by the just-announced Stalin Versus Martians.
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