Sunday, December 30, 2007
In the Larry Niven/Jerry Pournelle novel "The Mote in God's Eye", faster-than-light travel is also perfected in 2008. And according to Futurama, suicide booths are invented then, too.
The 1972 sci-fi film Silent Running takes place in 2008. By then all plant life on Earth has died out, and Bruce Dern is committed to growing and preserving plants in geodesic domes orbiting Saturn so that eventually the Earth can be reforested (the movie also demonstrates why we should never put Bruce Dern in charge of anything).
So...some good and some bad things to look forward to next year...
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Saturday, December 8, 2007
I have to say this is one of those kinds of dreams that defies analysis. Though I suppose if I were to choose an 80's sitcom star to wound me it would be Tony Danza...I imagine he'd be very apologetic about it afterwards, say "Whoa" a lot, and probably get into some crazy mixed-up shenanigans while trying to take me to the hospital.
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Went to see Beowulf tonight. I was apprehensive about it, mainly because of the photo-realistic digital nature of the film. It's not my thing, really...I prefer a healthy degree of abstraction in animation. But I'd read what the writers (Roger Avary and Neil Gaiman) had done with the story and thought it sounded neat-o.
Anyways, it is neat-o. While the technology isn't quite there yet (human faces still don't translate as fully believable in digital), the story was enough for me. I'd been worried that I would wind up sitting through another 300 (no offense meant to anyone who liked 300, I just found it to be mostly empty testosterone), but there's one scene in particular--a scene with King Beowulf and a man at a shoreline near a battle--that elevated the whole movie in the sense that, if nothing else, this film was, to me, justified because of it.
Back to the effects, however: I'm not sure it was a good idea to base most of the characters so closely on the actors who performed them. I mean, if you can create whatever you want within that digital world, why have Hrothgar look like Anthony Hopkins? I suppose they felt it lent a level of reality that the audience could grasp onto, but I think in a way it's actually more distancing, since Anthony Hopkins felt more like "the digital version of Anthony Hopkins". We know what he's supposed to look like, so when he feels 'off' somehow it's that much more noticeable.
However, how can you deny Crispin Glover as Grendel? Speaking in Olde English, even.
I've always liked the Beowulf tale...it's the ripping off Grendel's arm bit that tends to grab you as a young boy, I suppose.
By the way, here's an image of that scene by Lynd Ward (and I wish to God I could find his illustrated Beowulf book at an affordable price):
Anyways, while I liked the new Beowulf movie, my favorite off-shoot of the original poem remains John Gardner's novel 'Grendel', told from the point of view of the monster itself. One of my favorite books.
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Friday, October 12, 2007
Monday, October 1, 2007
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Here's something you didn't know about me:
Sometimes when I'm looking at myself in a mirror I start to wonder what would happen if I opened my mouth and could only speak in a foreign language.
And what would that language be?
Would my face require German, or maybe Polish?
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Joe Zawinul passed away this Tuesday. He was seventy-five.
Zawinul co-founded the fusion band Weather Report (with Wayne Shorter) and their album "Heavy Weather" is one of my favorite jazz albums of all time.
He was one of the first to include synthesizers in jazz recording, and worked with Cannonball Adderley and Miles Davis, among others.
His most famous song is "Birdland", which amazingly was a radio hit when it came out (people in the 70's knew some stuff, it seems).
Saturday, September 1, 2007
Like "Look Away!", this story will be based partly on a bad dream I had. It's also got a couple moments lifted from real life (well, hallucinations in real life). I'm still fuzzy on parts of it, though--gotta wade around in the thing and figure it out. Like most of my stuff, it'll be more focused on simulating a particular feeling than achieving a straight narrative structure.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Saturday, August 18, 2007
Anyways, here I go again. I've been reading two books concurrently, the book by Daniel Ellsberg about his experience in Vietnam and with the Pentagon Papers (mentioned here way back when), and a great collection of interviews with Harry S. Truman that I try to re-read every year, Plain Speaking.
Merle Miller, who conducted the Truman interviews, once called Truman "the last human being to occupy the White House". So he's not exactly an unbiased guy...however, since most of the book is straight from Truman's mouth, you don't really have to worry about Miller distorting reality because of his natural bias towards Truman. For instance, I once read a biography of Eisenhower where the author was so obviously enraptured by Ike that I couldn't really read the book as serious nonfiction.
Speaking of Eisenhower...boy, Truman really disliked the guy. "The fella that followed me" gets a lot of attention from Truman, from Ike's swearing to Truman point-blank that he didn't have any political ambitions (Truman couldn't suffer liars) to Eisenhower's not walking up the White House steps to greet the outgoing President on Inaugural Day (the only other times that has occured were with John Adams and Thomas Jefferson--Adams had already left the White House by the time Jefferson arrived--and FDR and Herbert Hoover--FDR couldn't physically walk up the steps).
See, one thing that comes across in the book is the feeling that Truman just plain doesn't lie, which is stunning for a politician. He's very candid (Nixon gets called "a son of a bitch" more than once) without sounding cranky. He's also incredibly well read...he goes through a list of presidential history at one point, from William Henry Harrison to James Buchanan, with the factual certainty of a scholar. He also brilliantly sums up Chester A. Arthur in one sentence ("the man with the side whiskers and striped pants").
Of course, I'm just as biased towards Truman as Miller is...he's maybe my favorite president, despite a few things that started in his administration that I think were huge mistakes in retrospect (most presidents seem to have a few of those).
I'm not finished with Ellsberg's book, Secrets, but I came to a pretty stunning excerpt in the book yesterday. While talking to Bobby Kennedy about the Vietnam War (this was a year before Bobby was killed), Ellsberg asked him what he thought JFK's handling of the war would've been like if he had lived. Bobby point-blank says that JFK always privately said that he would never send U.S. ground troops into Vietnam--he would settle the issue the same way he did with Laos if it came down to it (meaning: diplomatically). Kennedy, showing surprising foresight at the time, thought that any war the U.S. undertook in the region would end up just as it did for the French.
So far Ellsberg's book has crystalized in my mind just how similar in many respects Vietnam is to our current situation in Iraq, especially in how the administrations of those respective times chose to handle said situations. And how they chose to ignore lessons of history.
Here's a sketch of Ellsberg, derived from a somewhat recent photograph of him that's printed inside the book.
Saturday, August 11, 2007
Saturday, August 4, 2007
Saturday, July 28, 2007
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Monday, July 9, 2007
Federer's won 11 Grand Slam championships, and is now just three away from tying Pete Sampras' record (Federer's 26 years old--which is 'middle age' in pro tennis years--but, barring injury, will certainly overtake Sampras).
Consider this: Federer has won 10 of his 11 majors in the last four years. That means he's won 10 of the last 15 majors total. Which is insane.
Wednesday, July 4, 2007
"The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more."
--John Adams, in a letter to his wife, Abigail, on July 3rd, 1776
Adams was off by two days, of course. But the actual vote for independence from Great Britain was held on the 2nd...the vote for adoption and release of the Declaration of Independence was held on the 4th (near midnight). The 4th is celebrated mainly because that's the date on the Declaration.
Fun Fact #1: Vicksburg, Mississippi didn't celebrate the 4th of July for 78 years (1863--1941) because the Siege of Vicksburg ended in a Union victory on July 4th, 1863.
Fun Fact #2: Calvin Coolidge is the only U.S. President to be born on July 4th (John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both famously died on July 4th, 1826; James Monroe died on July 4th, 1831).
Monday, June 25, 2007
In the meantime, here's a little Yoda sketch of mine to keep us company:
Friday, June 22, 2007
"Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master."
Next week the CIA will be declassifying what is unofficially known as "the family jewels"--records of much of the agency's worst abuses, from assassination attempts to drug tests on unaware U.S. civilians. More information can be found at this link:
I'll be interested to see what kind of news coverage this receives.
Sunday, June 17, 2007
Stuff I've been reading lately:
Houdini, The Handcuff King, by Jason Lutes & Nick Bertozzi. Nice little book about a particular day in the life of Houdini. Lutes remains one of the very best layout men in modern comics, and Bertozzi adds an energetic, loose quality to the work. I like the historical notes at the end.
--Jack Kirby's Fourth World Omnibus Vol. 1. You may have gotten the impression from my previous post that I love this book. Let me add to that: I really, reeeaaaallly love this book. I've been waiting/hoping for a quality collection of Kirby's Fourth World comics for a long time, and this is just about perfect. The paper stock, reproduction, and color quality are all top-notch. In fact, the only blemish in the whole thing are all those unfortunate Al Plastino/Murphy Anderson Superman heads (DC had artists redraw all of Kirby's Clark Kent/Superman/Jimmy Olsen heads--as well as some figure work--because they wanted Superman and Jimmy to retain a certain established in-house look).
But a giant green Jimmy Olsen clone and a guest appearance by Don Rickles goes a long way to make up for all those heads.