Tag: Science Fiction

Going There

Over at the Gray Lady, columnist Jamelle Bouie manages to invoke the writings H.P. Lovecraft to describe Donald Trump.

This is not something that I expected to see in the New York Times, but I approve:

Much of the work of H.P. Lovecraft, an American horror and science fiction writer who worked during the first decades of the 20th century, is defined by individual encounters with the incomprehensible, with sights, sounds and ideas that undermine and disturb reality as his characters understand it. Faced with things too monstrous to be real, but which exist nonetheless, Lovecraftian protagonists either reject their senses or descend into madness, unable to live with what they’ve learned.

It feels, at times, that when it comes to Donald Trump, our political class is this Lovecraftian protagonist, struggling to understand an incomprehensibly abnormal president. The reality of Donald Trump — an amoral narcissist with no capacity for reflection or personal growth — is evident from his decades in public life. But rather than face this, too many people have rejected the facts in front of them, choosing an illusion instead of the disturbing truth.


I think most observers know this. But the implications are terrifying. They suggest a much more dangerous world than the one we already believe we live in, where in a fit of pique, a single action taken by a single man could have catastrophic consequences for millions of people. This isn’t a new observation. When he was still a rival — and not one of Trump’s most reliable allies — Senator Marco Rubio of Florida warned Republicans that they shouldn’t give “the nuclear codes of the United States” to an “erratic individual.” Hillary Clinton said Trump was “temperamentally unfit to hold an office that requires knowledge, stability and immense responsibility” and that “a man you can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons.”

 One is an incomprehensible evil without the even smallest portion of humanity, the other is Cthulhu.

According to the Customs of My People

Today, we engaged in a Jewish tradition from time immemorial, we had Chinese food, and went to a movie.

Actually, we saw 2 movies.

What follows is a spoiler free, and hence vague, review.

Last night, we watched Star Wars: The Force Awakens (TFA) on pay-per-view, (we also had Chinese food), and tonite, we saw Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (RoS) in a movie theater.   (also Chinese food)

They were both decent movies, but I much preferred TFA to RoS.

I could consider TFA to be the 3rd best of the Star War movies, though I was never able to sit through the first two of the prequels.

TFA was self-aware, actually commenting the Star Wars mythology and conventions, and it was true to the characters, and the plot, while possessing some holes, was relatively coherent.

Also, there was what is arguably the least subtle anti-fascist message of any of the films in the series.  (Anti-fascism is IMHO a common throughout the series)

Rose (Kelly Marie Tran), who was introduced in TFA, was firmly relegated to the background in RoS, probably as a result of the Twitter sh%$-storm from alt-right fanboi after TFA.

Also, as befits J.J. Abrams, he directed the RoS but not TFA there was a big Chekhov’s gun* violation.

In both movies, the performances of Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, and Oscar Isaac, and Adam Driver’s performance was better, though I think, particularly in RoS that it served to highlight some of the shortcomings of the script.

Mark Hamill’s performance in TFA, largely playing the role of sensei from many Japanese Samurai movies, is arguably his best performance in a Star Wars movie.

Carrie Fisher’s performance in TFA was good, but that might be colored by her death following filming, and in RoS, her performance was a combination of archival footage and possibly CGI.

Of the supporting characters, the best performance was probably that of Kerri Russell in RoS, who did so either fully or partially masked, and the always entertaining Benicio Del Toro in TFA.

*Chekhov’s gun (Russian: Чеховское ружьё) is a dramatic principle that states that every element in a story must be necessary, and irrelevant elements should be removed; elements should not appear to make “false promises” by never coming into play.


Dorothy “D.C.” Fontana has died at age 80.

She, and Gene L. Coon were major formative figures in Star Trek who never got the credit that they deserved:

D.C. Fontana, the famed TV writer best known for Star Trek: The Original Series and who blazed a trail for storytelling and women in science fiction, died Monday after a brief illness. She was 80.

The American Film Institute announced today the news of Fontana’s passing.

Fontana, whose full name was Dorothy Catherine, wrote several episodes of Star Trek (some under the pseudonym Michael Richards) and was most noted for creating Spock’s backstory and expanding Vulcan culture. In the episode “Journey to Babel,” she established the characters of Spock’s father Sarek and mother Amanda. In the “Yesteryear” episode of Star Trek: The Animated Series, for which Fontana served as story editor and associate producer, she created Spock’s childhood history.


She is survived by her husband, Oscar-winning visual effects cinematographer Dennis Skotak. In lieu of flowers, her family asks that donations be made to the Humane Society, Best Friends Animal Society, or the American Film Institute in her memory.

We have lost a giant.

Well, Performance Issues, It’s Not Uncommon. One out of Five Daleks………

One thing I won’t ever do again is build a snow dalek. I did that when we lived at our old house as the kids were into Dr Who. I learnt that when snowdaleks start to melt they upset the neighbours #snowman #snowdalek #drwho pic.twitter.com/YrK8vJqAJr

— Oeufelia (@oeufelia) February 1, 2019

Someone made a snow Dalek, but they neglected to consider what would happen when it warmed up.

According to the Customs of My People, Chinese and a Movie on Christmas

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Shameik Moore … Miles Morales (voice)
Jake Johnson … Peter B. Parker (voice)
Hailee Steinfeld … Gwen Stacy (voice)
Mahershala Ali … Uncle Aaron (voice)
Brian Tyree Henry … Jefferson Davis (voice)
Lily Tomlin … Aunt May (voice)
Luna Lauren Velez … Rio Morales (voice)
Zoë Kravitz … Mary Jane (voice)
John Mulaney … Spider-Ham (voice)
Kimiko Glenn … Peni Parker (voice)
Nicolas Cage … Spider-Man Noir (voice)
Kathryn Hahn … Doc Ock (voice)
Liev Schreiber … Wilson Fisk (voice)
Chris Pine … Peter Parker (voice)
Natalie Morales … Miss Calleros (voice)
Edwin H. Bravo … Brooklyn Visions Security Guard (voice)
Oscar Isaac … Interesting Person #1 (voice)
Greta Lee … Interesting Person #2 (voice)
Stan Lee … Stan (voice)
Jorma Taccone … Green Goblin / Last Dude (voice)
Joaquín Cosio … Scorpion (voice)
Marvin “Krondon” Jones III … Tombstone (voice) (as Marvin Jones III)

Directors: Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman
Writers: Phil Lord, Rodney Rothman

Yes, it’s better than the trailer

This is a spoiler free review, of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, and I will not go into the minutae of the plot beyond what you can see in the (attached) trailer.

Charlie and I saw this, while Sharon* and Nat saw Mary Queen of Scotts, because Sharon* was not interested in seeing an animated superhero movie, and I have always had a visceral loathing of Mary I of Scotland, so I did not want to see the movie.

Natalie was up for both, but went, and enjoyed, Mary Queen of Scotts, which was probably best for her.

The basic plot is that Wilson Fisk (The Kingpin) is engaging in dimension spanning experiments to further his nefarious (but understandable) aims.

This threatens the very fabric of existence, and brings other Spider beings into Miles Morales’ universe.

Miles Morales must learn how to use his powers and work with other Spider folks in order to do this.

It’s a rather ordinary Spider-Man plot with a multiverse thrown in, but really, you don’t go to this movie for the plot, you go to the movie for the characters and the art direction.

The characterization, and dialogue, are very good.

“How good?”, you ask?

So good that I did not find Nicholas Cage, who voiced Spider-Man Noir, annoying.

The performances are all top flight, with Kathryn Hahn’s performance as Doc Ock, and Hailee Steinfeld’s performance as Gwen Stacy being the strongest.

As to the art direction, it was magnificent.

First, they had a clear vision, and a reason to use animation as a result.

Second, their vision recreated the medium of the printed comic book to a degree I have never seen.

In addition to using the classic boxes for internal dialogue, they treated the background in a way that evoked the occasionally problematic color registration issues present in comic books, along with the occasional captioned sound effects.

One health note here:  If you have an issue with flashing lights,  migraines or a seizure disorder, it might be triggering.

Nat was having a mild migraine yesterday, which is why it was good that she saw Mary Queen of Scotts instead. You probably want to make sure that you are ready for what is a very vibrant style on that day.

One final note, it has what will be one of  Stan Lee’s final cameos, with him telling Milo that about his Spider-Man costume, “It always fits — eventually,”  pulls at the heart strings.

There is also a blink-and-you-miss-it call out to Steve Ditko.

Finally, (do I need to say this for a Marvel Studios Film?) SIT THROUGH THE WHOLE CREDITS.  Seriously.

Overall rating: 9 of 10.

As to the Chinese food, we had dinner after seeing the movies, and I shared Peking Duck with Sharon* at David Chu’s, a local kosher Chinese eatery, which I highly recommend.

That duck is why I did not write the review last night. It’s delicious, but it is perhaps the best sleeping aid that I have ever encountered.

I was sleeping like a baby at 8:30 pm.

*Love of my life, light of the  cosmos, she  who must be obeyed, my wife.

Tardis, Meet Turdis

The residents of Biggin Hill, which is perhaps the the most English place name in the UK, are upset because the local transit agency has installed a massive outside rest room for its bus drivers:

Residents on a quiet residential road have complained after transport planners installed an 11-ft lavatory block for bus drivers outside their homes.

On Tuesday Transport for London (TfL) installed the lavatory block – dubbed the “Turdis” by angry residents – on a street in Biggin Hill, on the border of South London and Kent, amid claims that homeowners on the road were not consulted.

Local councillor Julian Bennington said that furious residents smashed its windows within hours of its installation earlier this week and that its lock is already broken.

He said: “People are very angry – it’s literally outside their houses.

“It’s a monstrosity dumped here – the size of it and everything else – in the middle of what is a residential area.

“We knew nothing about it as local councillors and the council didn’t either. Residents have now been asking about why they weren’t consulted.”

I don’t want to make fun of this situation, but a, “Turdis in Biggin Hill,” is simply too much to ignore.

A Public Apology 27½ Years Overdue

I just wanted to make a note:  I founded Arisia over 25 years ago, filed the original paperwork, and the 501(c)3 application, and chaired the first two conventions in 1990 and 1991.

While it has been a while since I have done anything involved with Arisia (2005, because I decided that it was bad for me on a purely personal (as in in obsessive/addictive behavior) issues.)

However, I am aware that I made numerous errors during my tenure running the con, particularly in the last 6 months as chairman:  I was a legendary asshole during that time, and I believe that some of the organizational issues that Arisia appears to have to this day likely flow from this.

To the degree that Arisia has cultural and organizational issues, and I have been away for 13 years, so I honestly do not know anything about the current organizational culture, I was in at the beginning, and contributed to that.

I am profoundly sorry, and I wish that I had the common sense to realize in mid-1990 that my behavior was destructive and harmful, and do better by the convention and my then staff.

I sincerely apologize to people that I directly or indirectly hurt in the process.

Reader(s) of my blog will know that I have made only one substantive post regarding Arisia, two if you count my obit for Mary Robison,  in the 10+ years that I have been blogging, though I have made a few references indicating my experience in non-profits to rail against the evils that are televangelists, political front groups, and pineapple on pizza.

The New Doctor

I saw the premier of the latest season of Dr. Who, with a new Doctor.

I was not immediately impressed, but typically, the first show with a new doctor tends to be a bit weak, because both the writers, and the actor, are trying to find the character.

This is further complicated because they are also adding a whole new batch of companions.

That being said, I rather like that she has a northern (Yorkshire) accent rather than the received pronunciation (BBC), and I like that this actually Jodi Whittaker’s native accent.

I do kind of wish that there wasn’t so much hype over this, but I do understand why this is the case.

Breaking My Embargo of Job Talk

Generally, my rule of thumb is not do discuss my job. To do otherwise is an invitation for termination

But this one is too good.

I was talking to James, our welder, and he complained that frequently when we are half way through the project, the goals change.

I replied with the following:

Sad life.

Probably sad death.

At least there is symmetry.

Made my fucking day, it did.

The Doctor’s Daughter Played the Doctor’s Daughter on the Doctor’s Daughter, and Then Married the Doctor, and Had a Daughter

BBC America has been running a Dr. Who marathon.

I just saw the episode The Doctor’s Daughter, which had Georgia Moffett starring as Jenny the daughter (clone) of the Doctor.

Ms. Moffet is the daughter of the 5th Doctor, Peter Davison. (Davison is his stage name, his birth name is Moffatt)

She co-starred with David Tennant, who played the 10th Doctor.

Tennant and Moffett later had a daughter (2 actually, as well as 2 sons).

This is profoundly weird.

Seriously, Get Your Head Out of Your Ass

The New York Times just published an Op/Ed titled, :‘Make It So’: ‘Star Trek’ and Its Debt to Revolutionary Socialism,” that should never have made past the editors.

It conflates the original series and later incarnations over things like the existence of money, see the mention of prices in credits in The Trouble with Tribbles, and the statement that there is no money in the Federation in TNG & DS9.

Furthermore, the original was if anything a manifestation of John F. Kennedy’s decidedly capitalistic “New Frontier.”

The basic theory espoused in the article, that SF is frequently social commentary with socialist overtones, is so obvious as to be banal, but the execution, cloaked in layers of academic jargon, is incoherent and inaccurate.


Good News from the Borg*

Lucasfilm has announced that there will not be a CGI version of Princess/General Leia in any future Star Wars films:

In the wake of actor and writer Carrie Fisher’s tragic passing in December, reports about the current Star Wars trilogy have been full of questions and guesses. What exactly should we expect from the popular character of Princess Leia in the remaining two episodes, and how will the film’s producers deal with her original actor not being able to complete Leia’s plot arc?

Lucasfilm took the unusual step of confirming one major detail about the series’ future on Friday, announcing that the company does not intend to recreate the actor’s persona using digital means.

Telling fans that “we don’t normally respond to fan or press speculation,” Lucasfilm published a statement at the StarWars.com blog confirming that the Disney-owned company “has no plans to digitally recreate Carrie Fisher’s performance as Princess or General Leia Organa.”

The statement, which also paid tribute to the actor (“[we] will always strive to honor everything [Fisher] gave to Star Wars”), doesn’t specify which projects Lucasfilm’s producers may be referring to. Multiple outlets have reported that Fisher had completed her work acting in the upcoming, untitled eighth episode, and many of those outlets published follow-up reports claiming that the character of Leia Organa had been set to play a major role in Episode IX. Without going into specifics, Lucasfilm’s statement clearly isn’t a retroactive one in terms of claiming that the company would never produce a CGI version of Fisher.

Of course, this is NOT a categoral statement, and this IS Disney, and the mouse has been seduced by the Dark Side and delights in violating the Prime Directive, at least since the Eisner days, but it appears that for the immediate future at least, we won’t see a CGI Carrie Fisher.

Still, we need to keep a close eye on Disney, and J.J. Abrams, and if anyone on the inside gets wind of this, they need to go public, and go all, “Danger, Will Robinson!”, on Disney.

*Yes, I know that I am mixing Star Wars and Star Trek, likely pissing off both groups. This is intentional. I have no life, and I live to screw with all of you.
I did say that I was going to f$#@ with all of you, didn’t I?
Seriously, I said that I would be f%$#ing with all of you. How much more do I have to do before I become an object of scorn and derision? Seriously, isn’t this enough to win me the medals of damnation? Must I put half a dozen children on a spit, and toast them at the flame that comes out of my mouth?
Apologies to Christopher Fry, playwright of The Lady’s Not for Burning, but whenever I have the opportunity to use that speech, I will.

Doctor Who – “The Ballad of Russell and Julie” Wrap Party Special – YouTube

You may recall the image of David Tennant, Doctor number 10, smoking many cigarettes simultaneously.

Frequently, it is a GIF, with a caption of “I can’t do it!”

It turns out that it was a part of a video, a musical number, done with Catherine Tate (Donna Nobel) and John Barrowman (Captain Jack Harkness) as an appreciation to Russell T. Davies and Julie Gardner when they left the series,

And here is the video: