Sunday, November 30, 2003

Just Don't Charge His Batteries After Midnight.

Stan Winston, the Hollywood monster-maker whose designs include the Terminator, has teamed up with Professor Cynthia Breazeal of MIT, whose field is artificial intelligence, to produce Leonardo, a robot with "robot emotions." The fact that it looks like a cross between an Ewok and a Mogwai of Gremlins is purely coincidental. [This paragraph has been corrected post-publication.]

And speaking of toy tech, Vanity Fair takes a look at McFarlane Toys and declares this "a golden age of action figures." Private sources agree. Me, I wonder.

It's certainly an exciting time to be an action figure manufacturer. I mean, you can market figures of librarians, samurai and famous sinners. Granted, Eve appears to be a transvestite in green lacquer paint. But if he or she can make it, anybody can!

I dunno. I'm not knocking the craft that McFarlane and others have brought to what was a criminally underrated industry, ten years back. Nor am I a Toy Story II fan who believes that toys only exist to be played with, and the current toy-as-art market has no validity. (When toys become ONLY art-- when action figures stop being made for children-- THEN the industry has a problem, but only then.)

But it seems to me like the craft of action figures has itself become a kind of plaything. You see it in headlines like (deep breath): "BARBIE® DOLL AND KEN® DOLL CAPTURE THE MAGIC AND MAJESTY OF ARWEN AND ARAGORN OF THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING." How many movies are going to get this treatment before even the most avid collectors have had enough to last 'em a while?

I don'y know why this should bother me, really. It is a great time for action figures. Maybe it's just being told that it's a "golden age." The problem with golden ages is that they end.

Correction: Orgasmatrons were not featured by name in Barbarella as previously reported, but in Woody Allen's Sleeper. The sex device in Barbarella was called an Excessive Machine. Special thanks to Lawrence King.


Saturday, November 29, 2003

Foreplay Now Obsolete?

Woody Allen's Sleeper featured a pleasure-inducer called the "Orgasmatron." Well, guess what. (No, it's not just a better vibrator, it's the latest "innovation in the sex-toy industry." And yes, they do go on to say this won't really make foreplay obsolete, but what makes them so SURE?) [This paragraph has been corrected post-publication.]

The "Nevambleda" digression led to this thread. Yeah, it's true that Bush shoulda pronounced it the way native Nevadans generally do, but the episode STILL feels like a Dan Quayle story from Bizarro World.

A realtor's catalog of cinematic haunted houses.

Fox declares commitment to Tru Calling. I suppose anything that's doing even halfway decently against NBC Thursdays deserves a chance. Eliza Dushku could play Britney Spears and make the role sensual and sympathetic, but I hope they start tweaking the series concept a bit or the show's going to get really predictable really fast...


Janaki Spickard-Keeler points out that Wiscon is NOT the only feminist SF convention. There's also Conbust.

From Comixpedia: The "Unh" Project snarks about comics onomatopoeia.

Also from Comixpedia: What I'm Reading.

And finally, Blobfest.


Friday, November 28, 2003

Megadeath Goths ALWAYS Get Along Well!

Spawn meets Marilyn Manson. Rumor has it they fight, then team up.

Not really SF-related, but too much fun to ignore. Seems the Associated Press thought Bush had "mispronunced" the word "Nevada," when in fact he was using a very common regional "pronounciation" of the word. Even better, the AP helpfully added that "to properly pronounce Nevada, the middle syllable should rhyme with 'gamble.'" So pronounciate it "Nevambleda," you l00zurz!!!!1!!!!

You know, maybe I'm just cynical, but I have a hard time believing this is an authentic fan site for Haunted Mansion the ride, and not Disney's private design. Maybe it's the e-mail addys, maybe it's the completely over-the-top design from an alleged graphic designer, maybe it's Disney's tendency to sue the pants off anyone who uses its property... something feels "off."

Sean P. Means pretty much sums up Timeline, based on the first book which actually put me to sleep since Goodnight Moon.

And finally, you webcomics fans checked out the Modern Tales newsletter? I'm on there! I almost don't mind that they put a period in my name again!


Thursday, November 27, 2003

Pie Turned Out Great. In Other News...

Once again, a quick holiday round-up:

Tom Cruise defends Scientology. I think I've made my own feelings on L. Ron Hubbard's *cough* "religion" pretty clear, and I'm not sure the version that they give famous people is the same as the version they give ordinary suckers. But *grmbl* I want to be a little fair here, at least. Click the link for a differing view.

Matthew Shepherd is a little unsettled by the fan reaction to Jonathan Brandis' suicide.

The 50 Greatest Film Villains of All Time. Well, I'd argue for the addition of Agent Smith and perhaps General Zod, but it's still a pretty nice survey. Who would you put on there?

Kirk Wooster claims to have turned the original HAL-9000 prop into a working HAL-9000. That's both cool and disturbing.

And finally, Pong: The Movie. (Link edited for adware.)


Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Happy Turkey Day! Meaning, "Enjoy Your Turkey Day," Not "A Day of Happy Turkeys."

Quickie roundup tonight, because I've got to bake a chocolate mousse pie for the family and I'm off on a mad hunt for ingredients.

A Douglas Adams book (Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency) expressed the opinion that Cambridge professors live longer than the rest of us. Well, guess what.

So which requires a greater force of belief, Mr. Dreyfuss, the idea that aliens could make us sculpt mashed potatoes, or the possibility of peace in the Middle East?

The latest deep reading of Harry Potter. Don't be fooled by its utterly terrible and misleading headline: this is real and sensible literary criticism.

Yes, The Cat in the Hat is *that bad.* In fact, it's even less funny than the critics who use doggerel in their reviews of it and think they're being clever. Let's just. Not. TALK about it.

Aspiring SF writers: The Odyssey Workshop is now taking applications.

Happy Thanksgiving to one and all!

If you don't live in the U.S. or are Native American or are a turkey rights activist, please view the above with bemused tolerance.


Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Fallen Idol

Jonathan Brandis didn't get no respect, not even in death, from anyone but his few loyal fans. As this blogger reports in detail, the media were slow to pick up the story of his suicide. Sad to say, that probably isn't a slam on Brandis so much as a testament to how many actors end up like this.

Depending on who you talk to, Brandis was a minor teen idol or "the Wesley Crusher of Seaquest DSV." The character he played, Lucas Wolenczak, had some unlikable traits best lampooned in this set of "blackboard quotes" (a la The Simpsons).

But the fans who over-identify Wolcenczak with Brandis are being unfair, as nobody knows better than Wil Wheaton. His perspective on the suicide is probably worth reading. It's typical of Wheaton-- quiet, modest, spare and thoughtful-- and makes me wonder what Brandis would have been like to the people who REALLY knew him.

On a lighter note or five...

For techies and graphics guys: Kodak has bought out Applied Science Fiction, a company dedicated to imaging tech. ASF has already produced three Photoshop plugins which basically make you look like a way better photographer than you are. I'm not a big buyout booster, but this looks like a smart move from Kodak.

You know what I hate? Those little neck tags at conventions which actually seem designed to flip over and make it impossible for people to see your name or whether you're a day-tripper trying to sneak in. If we can put a man on the moon...

Faces of Mankind claims to be the first-ever MMORPG/FPS with a player-generated mission system. I dunno exactly how the system will handle players who want missions that are too easy or too difficult for the rest of the group, but gaming technology takes another half-step forward.

Wiscon claims to be "the World's Only Feminist Science Fiction Convention." I have no reason to doubt this. I eagerly await the World's First Disgustingly Chauvinist Science Fiction Convention.

Finally, C.S. Lewis: essayist, Christian, science-fiction and fantasy writer.


Monday, November 24, 2003

Convention Report.

At Anime USA, we got on another webcomics-centric panel with Rob Balder and Jeremy Kayes. Rob recently did a guest week of Sluggy Freelance, and Jer has a yen for performance art and a webcomics search engine that, unlike all the others, actually might not end up sucking. As I write this, Jer has a description of his Anime USA experience on his front page. Nice con... as long as we don't look at our sales figures. At this point, I think our old material has reached market saturation in Virginia. However, if all goes well, we'll have something new to offer in 2004. Stay tuned.

Everybody's trying to find "the next Harry Potter," as if HarryPotterality were some rare genetic trait, like albinism or gigantism. And... um... as if gene-splicing hadn't been invented yet. (Boy, these metaphors go out of date quickly these days...)

Speaking of gene-splicing, GloFish, the first genetically modified pets, will be available next year.

The British Fantasy Awards announced. The biggest winner is PS Publishing, an imprint to watch in the years to come.

Thanks to Scott McCloud and Journalista! for this link to The Picture of Everything. George Pérez must be so proud. Pop culture fans, gorge yourselves on THIS!



I'm poopered. The convention had its ups and downs, but was enjoyable on the whole. More about it tomorrow. Meantime, make sure you ask some good questions.

Pilotless planes, or UAVs. Why didn't anybody mention these babies in Top Gun? Think we'll see some in the Robot Hall of Fame someday?

Space Elevator. Spaaaaaaaaace Elevator.

And why shouldn't she read science fiction? The very fact that her heart is still beating is science fiction. It wasn't supposed to happen.


Thursday, November 20, 2003


First the bad news: I'll be out with Greg at Anime USA this weekend, so blogging will be off till Monday. PLUS, as announced in a previous blog entry, next week won't feature Fans strips.

Instead, I'll be restoring old features from years past, redesigning a bit, and adding a new set of texty treats. Be more specific, you say? Vote on what you want to see most here.

This link will not work until late Friday evening, but when it does, you can all see and hear a presentation on webcomics that I've cooked up for Mensa's perusal. Yeah, Mensa. No pressure.

Thanks to Gwalla for finding Seven Flights of Fancy That Fizzled, just in time for the 220nd anniversary of manned flight. By the way, Gwalla, your current icon reminds me to wish Mickey Mouse a happy 75th birthday, and simultaneously scares the hell out of me.

If only there were a concise guide to running science fiction conventions smoothly. I've looked and looked, and I can't find any. Maybe it's just too much to ask, like a concise guide to winning the Vietnam War. The closest I've come, though, are the old Conrunner archives from the Secret Masters of Fandom (SMOF). If you're involved with planning a con, you may want to browse these.

It doesn't make any more architectural sense than an M.C. Escher print, but the Googlehouse is still a fun tech toy.

Vrooom. Vroom. Screee. Googlerace.


See, This Is Me When I Try To Be Long-Winded.

Promised you guys a long blog today, so let's get to it!

Fan activists everywhere rejoice as Farscape is saved... well... kinda-sorta. It's coming out as a four-episode miniseries. Which is GREAT and all, but the way some people are cheering, you'd think the Sci Fi Channel had committed to 14 more full seasons and renamed itself "The Farscape Network." Then again, I remember how I felt when DC Comics resurrected Captain Carrot for three glorious issues. Hope springs eternal.

People you didn't know were Scientologists. Bart Simpson?

Robotech Remastered.

The Real Middle Earth. If you're the kind of person who gets distracted by Lord of the Rings' lush scenery, then you might like to check out Tolkien's Trail.

The Boston Science Fiction Festival, aka "The Sci-Fi Marathon," has to move. The reasons why have to do with changes in the theater business that affect all film festivals everywhere. Though I wish it were otherwise, I think this is the twilight of the film festival in large-scale theaters... it's too easy to do private film festivals these days, and distributors are just gettin' too cash-hungry.

Andy Ihnatko collects Tigras, and has a few words about The Collector's Mentality.

Old friends: Maritza Campos' father is recovering. Meanwhile, David Willis is running one of his funniest storylines.

New friends: readers of the current storyline in Narbonic, "Dave Davenport Has Come Unstuck In Time," may enjoy a similar conceit in The Time Traveler's Wife. Or vice versa.

Finally, TV. Spike-vs.-Angel was way more enjoyable than I expected. I didn't even care that the previews on Enterprise lied through their teeth, since it actually came up with a challenging, provocative plotline about the ethics of cloning and the nature of identity. Smallville still has a few flaws (like henchmen who crumble WAY too easily and the way Clark doesn't even TRY ALL THAT HARD to protect his secret) but tonight featured a show-stopping performance by Michael Rosenbaum and a cliffhanger I won't dare spoil. Jake 2.0 was the weakest performer of the four and still pretty strong: Jake looks a bit dumber than usual (I thought he was starting to figure things OUT with Diane), but we get some great new villains: the NSA bureaucrats... among whom, I think it's fair to say, Mist would fit right in.

See you tomorrow...


Wednesday, November 19, 2003

'Scuse The Quiet.

I'm hard, hard, hard at work on a project for a local nonprofit. Check back Thursday (or late Wednesday, depending on your time zone) for double the blog entry, double the fun.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

"If You Don't Find A Rabbit Wearin' Lipstick Funny..."

I'm going to have to start paying more attention to Locus Magazine's movie reviews. I read a passel of reviews for Looney Toons: Back in Action, but the critics didn't have anything deeper to offer than "it's funny!" or "it's not funny!" Locus' Gary Westfahl actually understands that movies can be funny to some people and not others, and he discusses who might like this one and who might not. I'm not sure I buy his link between technology and corporate greed (I don't think the one necessitates the other), but in general I'll take his thoughtfulness over shallowness any day.

Back in Action also features a less threatening version of the Unconscious Collective from Fans. I'm sure the royalty check is in the mail.

I remember being that age. A nicely balanced article about teenage anime fandom. Nothing that a fan doesn't already know, but it's nice to see the paper get everything right... except, of course, how to spell "anime."

Look at it this way, Lieutenant Commander William Swears: after what you've been through, you've got to have a great SECOND SF book in you now. *I'd* pick it up.

Well... we are spoiled!


Monday, November 17, 2003

Here There Be A Dragoness.

Nice article about Kim Graham, 3D winner of the Chesley Awards. These awards, given out by the Association of Science Fiction & Fantasy Artists, are the Oscars of science fiction art, or if you prefer, the Hugos of art. I know little about ASFA politics and how the awards are judged, but I like what I see here: there's a lot of innovation, but nearly all the pieces are easy to understand: almost nothing seems to have gotten in because it impressed the rubes who "just didn't get it." (Yeah, there are one or two exceptions, but I'm too nice to pick on them.)

Designer bioweapons. Brrrr.

Time Magazine argues against "literature." It's an old argument, but a good one.

Next week, the FANS strip is going to have to take a quick break to keep Jason and Bill on track... but we'll be providing some filler material that'll answer a lot of requests. Stay tuned.


Saturday, November 15, 2003


Fans in Swedish, courtesy of an arrangement with The Herring Can. PDF downloads here and here.

Lord knows I'm not the biggest fan of J.Lo, but I'm in her corner on this one. If Maureen Marder feels Paramount has violated her contract, she can sue Paramount... I'm sorry she's going through hard times... but suing Jennifer for "illegally depicting her life?" Works of fiction are often drawn from the lives of others... several Fans stories come to mind, as does Citizen Kane. Jen isn't even drawing directly from that source... she's drawing from a movie based upon that source, and it seems like it's the movie that screwed Maureen over, if anyone did.

Want to be a Word?

Did you know Austin, Texas was a small hotbed of literary science fiction? Yeah, me neither.


It Just Doesn't Quite Burn. So To Speak.

A lot of fans I know can't stand the very existence of Joan of Arcadia. I want to like it. I do. I'm a big believer in putting religious questions into SF (see, like, the last year's worth of Fans strips) and the series has brains and guts when it comes to the secular world... but what I've seen lacks the metaphysical punch of a story like Joan of Arc or the Passion of Christ or Prince of Egypt. Slate knows what I'm talkin' about.

My favorite new word is geekgasm.

The breathtaking art of Vincent di Fate. You'd think comics artists looking for new approaches to old SF concepts would put down the Kirby and start paying more attention to this guy. I love how his paintings are suffused with the harsh light of a naked sun: it looks rawer, more textured than your usual airbrushes.

Some guy named Heinlein is just about to come out with his first novel. Okay, seriously, this is a major find for a student of SF... it turns out that Heinlein's ideas in this book were RADICALLY different than those for which he is known.

Lena Olin turns down Alias, Season Three. Bad news for Alias, but worse for Olin. Her character, Irina Derevko, was rivalling Lionel Luthor as the most nefarious parent on television, and while she's landed a few film roles, I have trouble seeing this as a real step forward for her. You know, I sort of envision her in a bar with Denise Crosby three years from now, both of them chorusing "What were we THINKING?" The difference being that when Crosby left, HER series wasn't a hit.


Thursday, November 13, 2003

Leaving It To The Pro Amateurs

Is there anyone who still feels as much pride as they used to in their Amateur Press Association? For those not in the know, these groups consist of a small number of people, each of whom is assigned to contribute a certain amount to a certain publication (generally nonprofit and often published at a loss). APAs occupy a kind of no-man's-land between pro and amateur... on the one hand they're by definition highly exclusive, yet on the other, they provide a forum for budding, otherwise unpublished writers, some of whom have gone on to greatness.

But in the last thirty years, this no-man's-land has been developed by carpetbagger media better equipped to exploit it. Today, the Web offers so many advantages over APAs for amateur writers-- no publishing costs, no distribution costs, no lag between typing and delivery, graphics, instant feedback, links and a thrilling sense of community-buiding that APAs' closed memberships just can't match. It's hard to imagine a college student wanting anything to do with the format. Oh, such a student surely exists, but he or she must have the romantic streak required of John Henry as he faced the steel-driving machine.

The remaining APAs are graying fast, and their online presence is negligible. A search for FAPA, the oldest SF APA in existence, instead turns up a Taiwanese rights group. The term "APA" itself more frequently refers to the American Psychological Association than to any Amateur Press/Publishing Association.

That's what makes REHUPA such a treasure. Robert E. Howard, author of the Conan series, doesn't qualify as one of SF's scholarly giants, but the Robert E. Howard United Press Association does. REHUPA has done APAs two great services: providing a brief history of APAs, and showing off the best of a dying art form on their website. At their best, APAs like this have managed to harness fan enthusiasm and yoke it to the conventions of disciplined academia. I hope we'll be able to look back on the blogosphere in ten years and say the same.


Time Is No Barrier To Him. Nor Is Cancellation.

Doctor Who is back! Back in webcasts, that is. Coming back to TV screens in 2005.


TV roundup: I had a good time this Wednesday night.

Yes, the Western thing has been done before on Star Trek, and it was never entirely explained why the neocowpokes' technology and culture hadn't evolved much in 300 years, but, well... it was just FUN to see Trip and T'Pol trying to ride a horse.

Oh, and according to the previews, Trip's going to have some future relationship with T'Pol... you know, like the one Archer had last episode? Now, at first I thought this was a lack of imagination on the part of the writers, and it still might be, but... if Archer wants T'Pol, Trip wants T'Pol, Archer and Trip are old-time best buddies AND they all work in the same office while under enormous pressure to save the human race... supremely twisty story possibilities await.

Jake 2.0 continues to play really fast and loose with actual military and agency procedure, but that's kind of the point: as an unprecedented form of life, Jake causes the bending of all kinds of rules and allows us to enjoy a blend of escapism and the occasional cool fact.

No, I'm not particularly anxious for Clark and Lana to get together on Smallville, but at least this time we got to see a villain go through a moral decline instead of just turn stone evil at the drop of a meteor. Speaking of moral declines, it looks like Lex doesn't completely trust his manipulative lying bastard father's word-- go figure, huh? And the Luthors' compulsive watchability seems to be rubbing off on Chloe, who is finally, FINALLY, coming off as the sharp-witted character she was sold as, back in the pilot. Lastly, I'm glad Lex is getting more screen time with members of the supporting cast other than Clark. Lex goes well with EVERYTHING.

And then, Angel. Though the characters still aren't as likable or compelling as Buffy's cast, there's an energy and promise here. Spike's speeches are short and witty again, Wesley is once more sympathetic, and the script was packed with twists. Keep it up, guys.


Tuesday, November 11, 2003

"What Do You Mean It'll Go Well With Your Walking, Talking Oscar, You Bucket of Bolts?"
It's official. R2-D2 and HAL have joined the Robot Hall of Fame. R2-D2 was no surprise, but it's kind of "interesting" that HAL got in, since his primary qualifications appear to be lip-reading, logical error and mass murder. Also included were Unimate, the first industrial robot, and the Mars Pathfinder, a guest star on the credits of Enterprise.

What if doctors could check up on you with breathalyzers?

Twenty-one years later, Blade Runner still scares Californians. It should... and not because Arnold looks like a replicant, either.

Beware the SETI hacker?

One more Revolutions review. Funny... except for the digression about Harry Knowles, whom it's about time somebody MiSTed.


Monday, November 10, 2003

Og Draw Gud. Og Post. Og Roxxor!
Comixpedia has my Guide to the Stone Age of Webcomics up.

My thanks to Amy L. Swift, the Retrospectre and Rod for throwing some well-constructed slashfic in my direction. I don't think I'll ever love this genre, but I'm prepared to admit some respect. Still, my favorite of their submissions was this hilarious anti-slashfic.

Speaking of fanfiction, there's just something about Harry.

The Matrix: Revolutions didn't do outstanding box office in general, but Imax is happy.

Reason has an extremely insightful article about Revolutions and how it may end not merely the Matrix saga, but movie science fiction's preoccupation with artificial worlds.


Sunday, November 09, 2003

We had a great webcomics panel at the booth today, featuring every webcartoonist I mentioned in earlier posts, even as Slashdot reported that attention to webcomics has reached the Australian mainstream.

Today was also my little brother's birthday. Got him the Finding Nemo DVD and A Midsummer Night's Dream as re-interpreted by Neil Gaiman's Sandman. He hasn't seen the movie and acted in the Shakesperean play, and boy, was it great to see him smile when he opened them. Have a happy, Graham.

Okay, I've seen it. BOY, does Larry Wachowski like leather.

I'm Neo, who are you? Except that knowing I'm Neo makes me feel egotistical, like Agent Smith. But thinking I might be egotistical makes me feel contemplative, like Morpheus, and all these mental calisthenics make me feel confused, like the average Matrix viewer.

Matrix hairstyles?? Who would want any part of that sartorial horrorshow of crewcuts and dreds and porcupine quills and... oh. Never mind.


Any Good Slashfic Out There?

Having just attended a fanfiction summit at Nekocon, I'll repeat my earlier request-- anybody know of any actually GOOD slashfic out there? I want to give the genre a fair shake if I can, but I'd rather not have to wade through the current state of Fanfiction.Net to do it.

Speaking of fanfiction, meet one of its youngest, most prolific authors.

Speaking of Harry Potter, remember when the last thing we were worried about the Russians stealing was a concept for a children's book series?

The NY Times has an intriguing piece on Steven Spielberg as the place where art meets commerce.

It's probably all over but the jungle yellin' for Tarzan's production, though three episodes have yet to air. Actually, there ISN'T any jungle yellin' in Tarzan, because apparently somebody took a look at the character and said, "I'm thinking URBAN fantasy." This seems rather like insisting that Robinson Crusoe run a coffee shop in Seattle.


Saturday, November 08, 2003


I always forget what an overwhelming experience conventions are. And I *really* forgot just how sexy Nekocon is. Meow.

The FANS/CONSCREW panel discussion was not my finest work... I was already pretty tired when it got started... apologies to anybody who felt I rambled.

Good stuff, though: I got to see Kara Dennison again, and Thor Thorvaldson, Jr. (see right). I also got to meet the cartoonists behind
Ctrl+Alt+Del and Dominic Deegan: Tim Buckley and Mookie Terraccino, respectively. So strange to meet someone who joined Keenspot after I left (which was only two months ago). I feel old.

Remember George Lucas In Love and how many people thought it was a wonderful blending of Star Wars with Kenneth Branagh? This film tries to do the same thing with Star Wars and Faust. It's a cute idea, but it seems like it would have been funnier as a four-panel comic than as a 25-minute film. Let me know what you think.

The forumites are designing Fans videogames. That's just so cool.


Friday, November 07, 2003

Start The Revolutions Without Me.

Still haven't seen Revolutions. What with the convention, I probably won't get to it until Sunday.

Apologies to Selena Ulrich and other slashficcers. I admit I just haven't encountered much good slashfic myself, but that doesn't mean it can't exist. I'll take a FEW recommendations, if you want to e-mail 'em.

Webcomics News: Mobile phones are hosting both old-time comic strips and new strips designed for phone format. Nothing on's collection really looks like a magnum opus, but it took a few years for the Web to get really impressive content on it, too.

Webcomics News II: Microsoft's developing a program called "Sparkle" which some analysts are calling a Flash-killer. No, it's not an improved super-villain, though that wouldn't be out of character; it's an improved animation program, which may determine the format of tomorrow's limited-animation webcomics. It's early yet, but artists will want to keep an eye on this.

Finding Nemo has the biggest DVD opening of all time.

Love or hate Revolutions, you gotta admit Larry Wachowski is getting just a wee bit strange.

Thursday, November 06, 2003

The Big Hum.

Talk about disappointing. This is what the Big Bang really would have sounded like, if there were any ears to hear it. John Cramer re-created it, which is nice applied science, and it makes a good startup sound for your desktop, but, y'know, some of us want a real BOOM.

Thanks to Kate Sith for helping fix our "conventions" announcement from yesterday. Anime USA is in Tyson's Corner, Virginia, not Richmond as I'd previously misremembered. (Boy, THAT would have been embarrassing if we hadn't caught it before the con.)

The Clone Wars are coming! Set your VCR/DVD/TiVo.

Critics are being less than kind to The Matrix Revolutions. But I don't really know yet what the SF connoisseurs think... the ones who propelled this series to mass acceptance in the first place.

Last night on TV:

  • Enterprise went all Memento, resulting in an Archer-T'Pol relationship that actually didn't feel written by slashficcers, while Smallville posited a relationship for Jor-El which totally does feel written by slashficcers. (No offense intended to the writers of GOOD slashfic out there-- either one of you.)
  • The Enterprise ep also hit a bit close to home, unfortunately, as my roommate Jeneen learned today that her new cousin has Down syndrome.
  • I'm still trying to figure two things out about Enterprise: if the parasites were eliminated from the past as well as the present, howcum the crew remembers them well enough to know that they're gone?
  • And... Archer's time limit is given as a few hours, yet in the present, he seems to go through an entire day without forgetting a thing. I know, they could have re-explained things to him off-camera, but it would have been nice to see T'Pol putting up with his condition in the present, instead of just in flashbacks.
  • At least Smallville offered up another entertaining wrinkle in Luthor family history... it's really looking like Papa Luthor, that Magnificent Bastard, went and offed his OWN PARENTS back in the day, but Lex can still muster the trust to look him in the eye and say "We'll get to the bottom of this together." Can we just call this show The Luthors, already?
  • And finally, was I the only one who found last night's Angel vaguely offensive? Unless I'm misreading something here, Wesley feels that in order to be a hero, Angel needs to stop being altruistic and start hoping to get rewarded because of some ambiguously written prophecy (as if there were any other kind). Huh? I mean... STOP being altruistic? Huh? Seriously... HUH???
  • Wednesday, November 05, 2003

    Conventions! Conventions!

    At almost the last moment of the eleventh hour, Greg and I have been confirmed to appear at Nekocon this weekend. Don't bother trying to find us on the guest list or the programming of the website... it's a bit out of date... but trust me, we're there.

    And three weekends from now, we show up at Anime USA in Tysons Corner. Because, you know, we do webcomics... and that's kinda like anime... if you keep pausing the DVD every .34 seconds.

    The Waltrips are highly likely to attend January's MarsCon in Williamsburg. Jason even illustrated their website this year... check it out!

    Greg and I are also on the guest list-- tentatively, in my case-- for SheVaCon in February. Though it's about as out-of-the-way as conventions get, this is a great refuge for those who still want some literature in their science fiction. Hal Clement attended during his last years, so you know they're doing something right.

    More detailed convention information will follow early next year... and if you don't live near these outlets, we'll see what we can do about getting to YOUR neck of the woods.

    Tuesday, November 04, 2003

    Happy Happy!

    Today is Maritza Campos' birthday. Tell a friend. Spread the madness.

    Comixpedia measures the audience of webcomics. Please note that this project is in beta and its rankings shouldn't be taken as gospel. But it's still vital information for lovers of the photo-panels.

    Where James Cameron gets his ideas.

    Hey, Thai science fiction writers! Here's your chance! If you can imagine ways in which Bangkok can get even WEIRDER in the next fifty years, you've got a shot at this nationwide literary contest.

    Reading can hurt your brain. Straight from Science Fiction Weekly:
    A Washington doctor has warned that he has seen three children complain of headaches caused by the physical stress of relentlessly plowing through the 870 pages of the fifth Harry Potter novel, Reuters reported. Howard Bennett of George Washington University Medical Center wrote in a letter to this week's New England Journal of Medicine that the three children, ages 8 to 10, experienced a dull headache for two or three days, the news service reported.

    Each had spent many hours reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. After ruling out other potential causes, Bennett told his patients to give their eyes a rest, which the children declined. "If this escalation continues as Rowling concludes the saga, there may be an epidemic of Hogwarts headaches in the years to come," Bennett told Reuters.

    Damn you, J.K. Rowling! Your diabolical scheme has doomed us all! Won't someone please think of the children??

    Oh, and some movie's coming out tomorrow.

    Monday, November 03, 2003

    The Crash Bandit.

    J.G. Ballard is okay with it if you don't like him. Ballard's best known for the movies Crash and Empire of the Sun, but he's also written a good deal of science fiction, most of it full of psychopathology and a sense of yawning infinity.

    It's Monday, so it must be time for another survey declaring science fiction is a men's market. While generally useful, these studies tend to be used to justify stereotypes.

    In other startling news, Scientologists are often underhanded. Gosh, Tom Cruise sure has a nice smile for a brainwashed loon.

    The first movie to depict an LSD trip. Rent it for the historical value, watch it for the cheesiness.

    Reviews are in on Brother Bear. An earlier link noticed that Disney was shifting from line-drawn to computer animation... let's just say this critical response is likely to encourage that shift.

    Sunday, November 02, 2003

    Facing Fonts.

    Why you should care about comics lettering. Did you guys know that Marvel booted Comicraft, the lettering firm whose fonts Fans has used through its history?

    Graphic Smash makes tarts thankful.

    Belated congratulations to the winner of the "movie quote contest" from a few days back.

    Astronomer Ian Griffin recommends theme music from the 1964 SF series Stingray. It's got a beat you can do a rain dance to.

    A religion columnist has a few thoughts on The Matrix that Rikk Oberf would appreciate.

    Saturday, November 01, 2003

    I'll Be Dead November 7, Apparently.

    Some little girl actually trick-or-treated our house this year dressed as Samara Morgan from The Ring. She even whispered "seven days" as I handed her a treat. That was scary on *many* levels.

    The E-Bomb. Remember the last book of The Dark Knight Returns, when all the power goes out due to an EM pulse?

    The lawsuit waiting to happen that is Scare Tactics is probably almost done waiting.

    Comics readers who admire Y: The Last Man may want to sample Tricia Sullivan's Maul.

    Listen to the late Charles Schulz, creator of Peanuts.