4/30/2010



Turns out the Star Trek Enterprise is running "Windows Vista."
[Pic of the week from starwrecked.com]

This week's geek news features the beginning and end of 3-D, the end of the dreadful Spider-Man musical and more...

4/28/2010

"Heretic's Fork" was a mixed bag of startling revelations and blown expectations.

Summary: Erica, Father Jack and Hobbes realize the Vs know the names of the Fifth Column members; Ryan makes a revelation to Val; Chad begins the process to have his aneurysm removed. 

4/26/2010

Stephen Hawking, one of the world's smartest human beings, has contemplated the structure and fabric of space, time, and the Universe itself. In a new documentary, he turns his staggering intelligence to the concept of extraterrestrial life and humanity's interaction with it. His keen analytical mind has resulted in the following conclusions:
“We only have to look at ourselves to see how intelligent life might develop into something we wouldn’t want to meet. I imagine they might exist in massive ships, having used up all the resources from their home planet. Such advanced aliens would perhaps become nomads, looking to conquer and colonise whatever planets they can reach. If aliens ever visit us, I think the outcome would be much as when Christopher Columbus first landed in America, which didn’t turn out very well for the Native Americans.”

Sound familiar? In other words, we're looking at Independence Day. I don't know if Hawking just thought that was a good movie or if he came up with the premise on his own. Either way, it casts that movie in a new light. We all laughed at the ridiculous and cheesy plot of Independence Day, but it turns out that it was actually a scientifically accurate depiction of our future. Next, Hawking will be saying that the best way to defeat attacking aliens will be to hack into their computer systems with a Macintosh. Apple's stock would skyrocket. And if an alien spaceship crashes in front of us, the best way to deal with it is to punch it in the face and say, "Welcome to Earth."

Is Stephen Hawking right? Is Independence Day really the future of human-alien contact?
The armored superhero movie Iron Man 2 comes out May 7th, 2010 (check out the helpful counter in the sidebar), and with every big movie there are movie promotional tie-ins. Some are good, some are great and some are downright awesome. Here are three of the super ones.


1. Iron Man 2 "Glowing Repulsor" T-Shirt
One of the coolest things about Iron Man is the glowing circle on his chest representing his arc reactor power supply. You can always make your own or you can get the same effect with a t-shirt. Kind of like those tuxedo shirts you wore to the prom.
You can buy them for $19.95 at the Marvel store.

4/23/2010



This week's pic has been getting a lot of buzz around the Net. It's a seemingly innocuous photo taken at the re-opening of a bridge in 1940. The only reason it's gotten any attention is because of the guy on the middle right, wearing sunglasses. Once you notice him, he sticks out like a sore thumb. Some people have claimed that his outfit didn't exist in the 1940's - a logo shirt, portable camera, and sunglasses? He must be a time traveler!

Well, as cool an idea as that is, it's not quite accurate. forgetomori.com has a good breakdown of why the outfit Hipster Time Guy is wearing could certainly exist in 1940. Let's review the highlights:
  • First and foremost, we have to remember that this is 1940, not the 1800's. Portable cameras, sunglasses, and shirts with logos on them did exist.
  • The "sunglasses" are not actually sunglasses at all. Note the way they wrap around the head. That's because they were needed for protection. The "sunglasses" look like safety glasses used in welding. Very common at the time, especially for an area under construction.
  • The "logo T-shirt" is not actually a T-shirt at all, but most likely a sweater with the logo for the Montreal Maroons, a hockey team that folded in 1938. That's just two years before this picture was taken, so it's reasonable that someone might be wearing it in 1940.
  • The portable camera that couldn't possibly have existed in 1940? It resembles a Kodak Brownie camera, first released in 1900. To the right, we have a pic of the model used in 1940. Look familiar?
  • Even with all this, there's still the possibility that the photo is doctored. But image analysis seems to dispute this.







What do you think? Is this a real time traveler or is it another Net meme?

4/21/2010

Last week's season five premiere of Doctor Who broke every record in the history of BBC America. Totaling 1.2 million viewers, “The Eleventh Hour”was the network's most watched telecast ever. The long-running British science-fiction television show about a time-traveling adventurer also set a network record in the adults 25-54 demographic. Since it drew a 0.9 rating, it became number two in its time slot among ad-supported cable networks. Plus, the episode is number one on iTunes.

Are you surprised that Doctor Who is breaking records?
[Image from dailypop.wordpress.com]

4/19/2010

The armored superhero movie Iron Man 2 comes out May 7th, 2010 (check out the helpful counter in the sidebar), and with every big movie there are movie promotional tie-ins. Some are good, some are bad and some are downright moronic. Here are three of the moronic ones.


1. Diesel "Only The Brave" Iron Man Cologne
Timed for the release of Iron Man 2, Diesel is selling a limited edition re-branding of their cologne "Only the Brave" with a red and gold fist. The aroma is described as lemon blossom, coriander leaves, and lavender. Oddly enough, I always imagined the odor of "Iron Man" being machine oil, hot steel and generous amounts of flop sweat.
The 2.5-ounce size bottle sells for $67.50 in mid-April.
With the DVD of the TV movie Virtuality now out, it's time to review what could have been.

First of all, let's make something perfectly clear: Virtuality is not a TV movie. It's a pilot produced by FOX. This is an important point, because Virtuality fails miserably as a movie. It ends without tying up any of the loose ends, and leaves a big unspoken "to be continued" that (judging from the low ratings of the movie) we'll probably never get the answer to. So what's the point of watching the movie at all? It actually is a very good story, and it's interesting to imagine what the TV series might have been.

At its core, Virtuality is about a group of astronauts on a ten-year mission to reach a habitable planet outside the solar system. This would be a fairly interesting story in itself, but there are a couple of twists. One is that the mission is partly funded by a corporation that has turned the journey into a reality TV show. Another conflict is that, in order to combat the claustrophobia and isolation, each crew member has their own virtual reality headset that allows them to escape into fantasy worlds. The virtual reality is the real core of the story, hence the title. Each crew member has their own favorite virtual fantasy that they live in; the captain plays soldier in a Civil War simulation, two crew members are having a virtual affair in a romantic getaway, etc.

The conflict begins when a mysterious stranger begins appearing in people's VR scenarios. The stranger seems to know all about them and begins interfering with them in strange ways. There are a lot of threads that could have led to interesting story lines. The show's producer (who happens to have a major conflict of interest by also serving as the ship's psychiatrist) is constantly trying to manipulate the crew to increase the ratings, sometimes to the detriment of the mission. The crew is having second thoughts about going on the mission at all. The crew members are fighting amongst themselves.

I could also see how the series would explore some pretty complex issues. In a disturbing moment, one of the characters is beaten and raped inside a virtual world. When she returns to reality traumatized, she finds herself a center of an argument between the other crew members. One argues that she should just get over it because it wasn't a "real" rape. Another, who was raped at one time in the real world, argues that it was real in her mind. The argument becomes an interesting debate about the difference between reality and fantasy.

In the end, there's a major plot twist that one longs to see get resolved. Maybe one day there'll be a Virtuality II that ties up or continues the story. Even if there isn't, I think the movie itself is worth watching. It's an impressive work in a small package. We can only hope the creators of Virtuality (Ronald D. Moore and Michael Taylor) can create another pilot just as good that they actually can continue next time.

What do you think of Virtuality? Let us know in the comments

4/16/2010

[Pic of the Week from nba.com]
What's so great about this picture is not just that it has beautiful girls dressed as Star Wars' Slave Leia. It's beautiful cheerleaders dressed as Slave Leia, combining two male fantasies in one. In case you're wondering, this came from when the Phoenix Suns had a Star Wars: The Clone Wars night. Yes, I am a Phoenix Suns fans...at least, I am now. But I have to nitpick a little bit...why do they have Darth Vader and Slave Leia on Clone Wars night, when neither character is in the Clone Wars TV series? And what's the point of putting a Darth Vader costume on a guy who's already wearing a gorilla costume?
ODDMAKERS: What are the odds that attendance would go up if the NBA had "Jabba the Hutt" Cheerleaders?
  • A guy turned a mail truck into a life-size replica of a Battlestar Galactica Colonial Viper spaceship. The notes say it's street legal, but I find it hard to believe. I know Geico wouldn't insure it for 15 percent or less. If anyone finds a picture of this car rear-ending a Cylon Raider car I'll gladly pay $1 million for it.
  • Several cities are going to extreme lengths to be the home for Google's proposed ultra high-speed broadband experiment. Topeka, Kansas, renamed itself “Google, Kansas” for a month. Mayors of Duluth, Minnesota jumped into an icy lake. Not to be outdone, Mayors of Sarasota, Florida jumped into a shark-infested tank. One city even started selling Google Fiber flavored ice cream.The stakes are high, since one municipality will be chosen to be able to buy the high-speed Internet connection they claim will reach speeds of one gigabyte per second. That's one hundred times faster than current speeds, and would allow someone to download a full movie in less than five minutes. If they want to get Google's attention name every child born for the next month to Google Fiber. That way, everyone wins.
  • It's sad that there are 573 extinct languages in the world and millions of people learning Star Trek's alien Klingon language, but, at least they can get together at Star Trek conventions. Why would people bother to learn the Avatar Na'vi language if .00034% percent of the population would understand them? It would be hilarious if they got together with the Live Avatar Role Playing guys.
  • "Happy" Anniversary - This week, April 11 - 17, 1970, the Apollo 13 accident occurred stranding three astronauts in space. Three days after the lunar mission began, an explosion crippled the craft and forced them to use their lunar capsule as a lifeboat to return safely to Earth. This accident prompted the now famous phrase "Houston, we have a problem," which is actually a misquote from commander James A. Lovell's radio transmission "Houston, we've had a problem."
What do you think of this week's news and the Slave Leia Cheerleaders?

4/14/2010



We'd like to welcome two new additions to the Blog Roll:

Comic Book Listing!
http://comicbooklistings.blogspot.com/
Description: "The Comic Book Listings Blog features both 'User and Hand-Picked' Classified Comic Book Listings, Movies, Memorabilia, and News articles."
Why: It's like browsing your favorite comic book shop online. He manages to find some really funky and cool items like a life-sized Yoda statue and a Superman neon beer bar sign.
Favorite Post: Superman Vs. Muhammad Ali Statue

Cybermage
http://www.cybermage.se/
Description: "Books Are Like Really Good Friends, They are always there when you need them."
Why: My brother and I both love to read good science-fiction novels and Cybermage is a voracious reader. He does a great job reviewing books and then giving concise and well-written reviews. I run to the bookstore everytime he does a review.
Favorite Post: The Best of My New Books 2009

Check 'em out today!
[Image from ThinkGeek]
Let's get ready to rummmmmmmble!
This week's Wednesday Television post focuses on the television show V.
V resumed this month and my wife and I recently watched the original 1983 miniseries it's based on. While we enjoyed it, we had to ask the question: Which was better? So, we breakdown the similarities of the two series and you decide who survives!

4/12/2010

Many were shocked by Avatar's failure to win Best Picture at the 2010 Academy Awards, but keen observers would have known it wouldn't win. Science-fiction has never gotten respect in the film community. Here's a brief list of other science-fiction films that are considered some of the greatest sci-fi movies (and in some cases, greatest movies, period) that also got snubbed by the Academy.

NOTE: Longtime readers, you're not having deja vu. This list first appeared the day after Avatar lost, but we decided it should be expanded into a full fledged post.

10. Metropolis (1927) - The oldest movie on this list, Metropolis was a silent film that portrayed a future where the rich live in skyscrapers and the poor toil in mechanized factories underground. It captured all that's best in science-fiction, using the future to shine a light on the present. Visually, it also featured a sweeping expressionistic vision. As far as a Best Picture nod, Metropolis had a couple of strikes against it. First of all, Metropolis was a German film, and non-English films are rarely nominated for anything other than Best Foreign Language Film in the US-run Academy Awards. Secondly, in 1927, the Academy Award for Best Picture didn't exist. At the time, the closest equivalent was Most Outstanding Production. Metropolis wasn't even nominated for that, though. In 1928, Wings won Most Outstanding Production.

9. Blade Runner (1982) - Blade Runner's special effects and unique visual style have been copied in everything from movies to video games. Its dystopian vision of America influenced science-fiction authors like William Gibson in creating the cyberpunk genre. The American Film Institute ranked it 97 in its list of the 100 Greatest American Films, and 6 on its list of the Top 10 Science Fiction Films. However, when the film was first released, it flopped at the box office. Its only Academy Award nominations were for Best Art Direction and Best Visual Effects, and it didn't even win those. Gandhi was the winner for Best Picture in 1983.

8. The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) - Considered a triumph of science-fiction as well as a commentary on the Communist paranoia of its time, The Day the Earth Stood Still imagined a peaceful alien arriving on Earth to find fear dominating humanity. Its legacy has grown over time, and Day consistently ranks on lists of great films, including lists by the American Film Institute and The New York Times. But the film's political message made it controversial in its day, and it was only moderately successful at the box office. Perhaps that's why it wasn't nominated for any Academy Awards in its time at all. The Greatest Show on Earth won Best Picture in 1952, instead.

7. Planet of the Apes (1968) - Planet of the Apes was more than a movie - it was the start of a franchise that includes five sequels, a live-action and animated series, comic book series, and an eventual re-imagining of the original movie. But in all the media, the original film about a human on a world of sentient apes still remains an impressive tale exploring humanity and hubris. As far as the Academy Awards, the film won an Honorary Award for Outstanding Makeup Achievement. It was nominated for Best Costume Design, and Best Score, but (amazingly) didn't win either. And no Best Picture. Midnight Cowboy won Best Picture in 1969.

6. Forbidden Planet (1956) - An epic science-fiction film, Forbidden Planet inspired generations of sci-fi authors including Gene Roddenberry (Star Trek), J. Michael Straczynski (Babylon 5), and J.G. Ballard. At the time, science-fiction was thought to be a genre for children, but Forbidden Planet was clearly aiming at adults with its themes of the subconscious and repression. Its special effects were groundbreaking at the time, and earned an Academy Award nomination. But it lost out to The Ten Commandments. It wasn't even nominated for Best Picture. Around the World in Eighty Days won Best Picture in 1957.

5. War of the Worlds (1953) - Based on the popular H.G. Wells novel, War of the Worlds was a powerful film that portrayed the long-feared alien invasion with humans pathetically incapable of fending them off. It also perfectly reflected the Cold War fears of foreigners invading the US. The special effects and terrifying aliens made it a popular film with both audiences and critics. The movie won Best Effects, but wasn't nominated for Best Picture. In 1954, On the Waterfront won Best Picture.

4. Star Wars (1977) - Star Wars is one of the rare movies that is popular with both science-fiction fans and the general public alike. Its story of a young man leading a rebellion against a seemingly unstoppable empire resonated on a deeper level, even as it dazzled with its groundbreaking special effects. It introduced the blockbuster movie, spawned a massive marketing franchise that's still going strong, and made its portrayal of the future an indelible part of pop culture. It remains one of the highest-grossing movies of all time. In many ways, both good and bad, Star Wars is the standard by which all other science-fiction movies are judged. Despite all this, the movie didn't win Best Picture. It was actually nominated for Best Picture in 1978, but lost out to The Deer Hunter.

3. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) - 2001 was a landmark picture that introduced a more realistic approach to space travel in films, as well as taking on deeper and more adult themes in science-fiction. It consistently ranks in top 100 lists for movies, including the American Film Institute's Top 100 Movies, and Roger Ebert's Top Ten list in 1968. Even the Vatican honored it in its top 45 movie list. The film was nominated for and won four Academy Awards - Best Visual Effects, Best Art Direction, Best Director, and Original Screenplay. However, it wasn't even nominated for Best Picture on its release. Oliver! won Best Picture in 1969.

2. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) - On its release, this dreamy, frightening, and mysterious vision of a man's determination to meet with an alien race made it a huge financial success. It also won the hearts of critics and sci-fi fans, including Ray Bradbury who has called it the greatest sci-fi film ever made. It was nominated for a slew of awards, including Best Director, Best Effects, Best Art Direction, Best Music, and Best Cinematography, but only won for Best Cinematography. Released the same year as Star Wars, it endured the same fate in terms of Best Picture. Unlike Star Wars, though, Close Encounters wasn't even nominated for Best Picture. The Best Picture win in 1978 was The Deer Hunter.

1. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) - One of the most popular science-fiction films of all time, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial crossed the boundary from science-fiction to popular fiction. The story of a boy who befriends an alien captured the hearts of critics as well as audiences at its release, and has only grown more popular over time. It was named the number one sci-fi film of all time in a poll at Rotten Tomatoes. It was nominated for nine Oscars at the following Academy Awards, winning Best Sound, Best Sound Effects Editing, Best Original Music Score, and Best Visual Effects, and one of the few on this list that was nominated for Best Picture. Unfortunately, E.T. lost to Gandhi, but even Gandhi's director Richard Attenborough said that E.T. should have won.

Is it surprising that these movies didn't win Best Picture in their time? Can you think of any other sci-fi movies that should have gotten Best Picture? Leave a comment.

4/11/2010

A ten-minute behind-the-scenes documentary for Star Trek: The Motion Picture has surfaced and its pretty interesting. What's hilarious is the irony of guys in outdated mod hairstyles and bellbottoms working on a vision of the future. One highlight is watching actress Persis Khambatta break down in tears as she had her head shaved for the role of the hairless "Deltan" Lt. Ilia. Check it out...


What do you think about the documentary? Can you dig it?

4/10/2010

It was X-Men that started the craze, but Heroes continued it. What we're talking about is the idea that evolution can lead to superpowers. It makes sense on some level; if you have a normal human being, and a human being who can shoot fire out of his hands, most people would agree that the fire-shooting human has a advantage in combat. Therefore, one would argue that the fire-shooting man is superior on an evolutionary level.

The problem is that evolution isn't supposed to work that way. According to the theory of evolution, small changes over time are adopted by successive generations, gradually turning into larger adaptations. Creatures aren't just born with completely new and fully-developed abilities, according to evolution. That would be like a horse giving birth to a horse with fully-developed wings. If squirrels at Central Park started being born with super-speed, teleportation, and invisibility, people would start looking for elevated radiation levels in the water supply.

Speaking of which, one would think that evolution would start by giving humans abilities already found in Nature. To have a human born with wings or claws or night vision kind of makes sense. But laser beams shooting out of the eyes? Or the ability to stretch into different shapes? Or magnetism? These came out of nowhere. They also require some pretty major changes to the body, which would require some engineering problems to solve. So I think we can safely say that evolution wouldn't lead to the superpowers we see on Heroes and X-Men. Which leaves the question, if not evolution, what? The answer to that would probably end up sending the comic in uncomfortable directions, unless it appeared in the Christian comic book stores.

Does evolution work as an origin for superheroes? What about intelligent design? Sound off in the comments.

4/09/2010

The world of homemade fan costumes range from the breathtakingly cool, to the pathetically lazy.
I'm not sure which is sadder: that they subjected a poor dog to this cardboard monstrosity of the Star Trek Enterprise, or that they used Bud Light beer can for the warp nacelles. [Boreme]


We can attack this guy for his lame attempt at a Star Wars Death Star costume out of paper-mache. We can admire him for having the foresight to make space for him to use his hands. We can, however, fault him for not bothering to wear clean pants and shoes. So, what happens if he has to go the bathroom? [HolyTaco]

Which of these has the more pathetic costume?

4/08/2010

Yesterday, we posted about a commercial airing on the Los Angeles CW affiliate showing how much Chloe and Allison's work have meant to Smallville fans. Smallville follows the exploits of young Clark Kent (Tom Welling) in his days before becoming Superman. Today we have an exclusive interview with Maggie Bridger, one of the producers of the ad, about "Legendary."

4/07/2010

On Monday, we got a press release from a erstwhile devoted fan of Smallville, with unprecedented news. The press release, in its entirety, follows:

4/05/2010

The Clash of the Titans remake is a controversial movie, not for the subject matter or the plot or even for the relevance of remaking the movie in the first place. The most controversial part of the movie was the 3D effect. The movie wasn't originally planned to be released in 3D until the success of Avatar and Alice in Wonderland changed the studio's mind. By then, the movie had already finished filming, so Warner Bros. rushed to convert it in post-production with only ten weeks to do it. Many people, including the evangelist of 3D himself James Cameron, were outraged by the post-production conversion. Their perspective is that true 3D can only be achieved during production using the actual cameras while the movie is being filmed. Cameron called the quickie process "2.8D." He and others worry that movies like Clash of the Titans being rushed into 3D will cheapen the effect, and turn off audiences from the 3D process just as it's getting started.

It seems their fears were both confirmed and unfounded. Clash of the Titans was number one at the box office, which seems to indicate that audiences didn't mind the effect. At the same time, the movie didn't reach the $70 million that the studio hoped to reach. It was also a highly anticipated movie to begin with, even without the 3D. Many critics actually complained about the 3D effect, which they felt was more of a distraction than a benefit to the film. Reviewers complained that the effect looked more like a cardboard cut-out version of the movie than three-dimensional. The LA Times called Clash of the Titans the "first film to actually be made worse by being in 3D." Only time will tell if 2.8D will water down 3D.

Once again, I find myself questioning the whole point of 3D to begin with. The motivation behind the studios' rush to 3D isn't really about audiences clamoring for the effect. While Avatar in 3D was a box office hit, the recently released How To Train Your Dragon in 3D hasn't even reached the popularity of Monsters vs Aliens. For the studios, it's about financial considerations like trying to discourage bootleggers and charging more for a ticket. Without the viewers behind it, I think that the whole 3D effect may end up being a fad, regardless of how it's done.

Have you seen Clash of the Titans? What do you think of the 3D craze? Let us know in the comments.

4/02/2010

The very definition of determination, Paul Yperman spent two years and 30,000 LEGO blocks to make a Star Wars: Episode I Trade Federation Droid Control Ship

It started when he found a Star Wars cross-section book with a picture of the ship and felt a deep and compelling urge to create it in Lego blocks. This happens to me all the time by the way. The ship is so complex that he had to use custom software to design the donuthole in the center. He gives a shout-out to Thomas Benedikt as inspirational for this creation. He posted his pics and details on his LEGO brick creation, called a "MOC", and the rest is history.

It would be perfect if only he'd made a little animated Anikin Skywalker that yells "Yippee!" as it crashes into the docking station.
Do you feel this was time well spent?

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