prog: (Muybridge)
Recently posted to Neil Gaiman's contact form, by Y.T.:

Howdy, Neil:

I have a short and hopefully amusing story for you.

A couple of years ago, the subway system here in Boston experimented with a new kind of advertising. It affixed a long sequence of images to a certain stretch of tunnel wall, and shone a strobe light on it. Commuters thus saw a charmingly atavistic moving-picture display as the train trundled past.

The experiment ended after a few months, and the subway stopped installing new advertisements. The last ad for it was for the film "Coraline", put into place 18 months or more ago. The MBTA apparently decided that it was cheaper to just leave the installation in-place rather than tear it down.

And so, Coraline and her friends have been peeping into the Red Line between Harvard and Central squares all this time, ending with the message "In theaters February 2009". The ad has grown increasingly dim with all the accumulated subway-dust, but it remains quite visible, and even attention-grabbing.

A friend [[ profile] radiotelescope] suggested that Neil Gaiman might enjoy knowledge that the Boston Underground is haunted by a girl-ghost, dim and flickering but still animated and lively, to whom he is related. So, there you have it.


Feb. 14th, 2010 01:59 pm
prog: ("The Sixth Finger" guy)
This is my first year since 2002 when the lead-up to noon on President's Day Eve does not see me establishing my nest in the theater, waiting for the 24-hour Boston SF Film Festival to start. The Thon is exercise in endurance unbearable without friends, and while I have friends in attendance, this year all my past Starship Thon berthmates are otherwise occupied.

I am OK with this! I have a lot on my own plate as well, and honestly? I can't say I feel much regret in breaking tradition this year. I find that I don't even have to console myself with the guarantee that this way I won't be stuck sitting behind Constant Screen Talkback, Laughing At His Own Lame Joke, Then Looking Around To See If Anyone Else Is Laughing Guy. So, best wishes to all who are attending. Even that guy.

Next post: what the hell I've been up to, lately.
prog: (khan)
This is nice:

Interesting pattern develops here, if this is a viral for the next J.J. Abrams Trek film (which it almost surely is, since it looks too polished, and its credit roll is too absent, to be a fan video). It follows the same precedent for superhero-story reboots set by the Nolans' Batman films: in the first installment, pit the hero against a canonical but somewhat lame villain. This keeps the focus on how you've revitalized the hero - or, in Trek's case, the heroic ensemble. If that goes over well, then you can sustain fan-glee by rolling out the arch-nemesis for part two.

[ profile] rikchik points out to me that the latter-day Dr. Who TV series follows this pattern as well. The first Eccleson episode had him shining as he dealt with the obscure-but-canonical Autons, and they waited a few episodes before the ol' Daleks showed up to steal his spotlight away.

Edit Oh, the glyphs at the end are totally a URL passed through a simple latin1-to-klingon-character cipher. I am too lazy to figure it out though.

Edit 2 OK, fine: it goes here. (Ripped from an IO9 comment. whee...)
prog: (Wario)
Needing a break, I opened my phone's Kindle app to see what it recommended for me. Unsurprisingly, there was more Stross: The Android's Dream. OK, it's been a couple of months since my last thing by Charlie, so noting a "Try a Sample" button, I tapped it, and settled down to enjoy the novel's first chapter.

It was entirely about butts and farts. It was clearly butts and farts as written by one of my favorite contemporary SF authors, mind you, but I couldn't help but wonder if Amazon was now in the habit of editing books' sample chapters so that they centered on topics known to be of interest to the sampling customer, perhaps based on their own blogging history or something.

Anyway: sold.

Edit: [ profile] cnoocy correctly points out that the novel is by Scalzi, not Stross. He happens to be another one of my favorite modern SF writers, and while both mix a lot of humor into their stories, I'm now embarrassed to not be able to tell one from another after a whole chapter of text.

I bought the book while very sleepy (still am), but this is definitely an error that could only happen with online book buying. Interesting. Kinda.
prog: (Bizarro Kirk)

Was talking to the late [ profile] doctor_atomic just now about the new movie, and asked for her thoughts about the miniskirts. Unlike me, she noticed them right away, and found herself hoping that they were going to show unisex minis as an official Star Fleet uniform option for everyone. Apparently, these existed for the first few episodes of TNG, which depicted several pants-free male Enterprise crewmembers.

I have no memory of this, but apparently 'tis so. This cosplay dood is the only evidence I could dig up through Google Images. I could go unearth my Season 1 DVDs, I suppose, but I'll just take their word for it.

(Needless to say, the movie didn't take this tack.)
prog: ("The Sixth Finger" guy)
I saw Star Trek and enjoyed it very much. If you like cool shit, you'll probably like this movie. Lilek's thoughts on it jibe with mine, more or less.

I had [ profile] cortezopossum's summary of "they managed to screw up everything, and yet it worked" in mind as I watched, but I don't think any apologies for canon-drift are really necessary. The producers made room for it in-story by not only explicitly making Picard age backwards ), but also letting Richard Hatch reprise his role as 'Nomad' from the original series. )

I also went in with [ profile] surrealestate's perception that the movie was cringingly sexist. There is sexism-by-omission, but I want to beg off that charge by the fact that, short of BSG-style gender-flips, the producers didn't have much to work with given the source material. (Now, as [ profile] dougo sez, they totally could have made at least one of the crew a lady, and made it work. Aw, I am now envisioning a girlie-girl Chekov. So cute. Oh well.) I can grok the negative reading of Uhura, but it's not the one that seemed natural to me as I watched the film. So, the movie didn't really trip my personal feminist barf-o-meter, for whatever that's worth... though I wouldn't have objected to more effort.

(I preƫmptively dismiss the claim that any adaptation of Trek has to be sexist in order to stay true to its roots. As commenters to Ms. Estate's post note, the 1960s TV series did a lot to test social boundaries of the day, even though much of it seems pretty backwards to us now.)

BONUS REVIEW! Terminator: Salvation trailer: Boy, when the androids come for real, robophobic shit like this is gonna be unbearably igry. Just saying.
prog: (olmos)
Some followup thoughts on the BSG finale, weeks later...

Blar blar blar )
prog: (olmos)
This sounds too awesome (as in dude, that's) for reality, but it's clearly too weird to be parody. From an EW article about a BSG retrospective at the UN:
When one of the UN's representatives talked about how part of their mandate was to safeguard the human rights of everyone, regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, and station, Olmos got a little heated. "You never should've invited me here," he said, before blasting the UN for continuing to use race as a term of separation, of division among peoples. His voice rose, steadily, as if years of social activism was coming to a head on this night. Then, directing his attention to the high schoolers: "Adults will never be able to stop using the word 'race' as a cultural determinant....There is only one race: the human race. SO SAY WE ALL!"

I swear to you, everyone in that chamber shouted it right back at him. Because the Admiral asked us to.

And Mary McDonnell leaned over and gently wiped a tear from Olmos' cheek.
(Thx to [ profile] classicaljunkie for linkage.)
prog: (olmos)
After choosing to avoid direct exposure to RaceFail2009, I enjoyed this summary, by Mary Ann Mohanraj, of some of the key points that have bubbled up.

Much of this sounds rather familiar to me, and I recognize that this is directly due to some of y'all. I've been quietly reading your writing over the last year or three on, for example, what "white privilege" means, and what it doesn't mean, despite what people tend to infer from the term alone. If I've been tacitly absorbing all this, you can assume that many others are, too. So feel free to feel good about that!

(Oh, and please consider comments-reading on the linked post to be more optional than usual. Because: racefail.)
prog: (khan)
I had a great time. Thanks to [ profile] xartofnothingx, [ profile] daerr and [ profile] kyroraz for joining me this year, as well as the N hundred of you other crazy people.

Recap: I watch 13 movies in 24 hours, surrounded by SF film geeks, and tell you about it. )


Feb. 14th, 2009 05:01 pm
prog: ("The Sixth Finger" guy)
The plan is to be in line with [ profile] xartofnothingx at 10am.

Who-all else is-a gonna be there?

I'm super-psyched. I just hope I don't sit behind one of the people who sits by himself, making inane non-jokes and then laughing at them while looking around to see if anyone else is laughing. Like, once every two minutes. I have been stuck with two different instances of this class the past two years... bah. Maybe if I write about it here it won't happen...
prog: (khan)
Only two more weeks n change before the 2009 Boston Sci-Fi movie marathon, prezint's day weekend. This year's theme is Aliens Attack! The lineup's been announced, and [ profile] derspatchel has written up a fine summary of it. (When's the last time they've announced the full line-up in January?)

Who-all's interested in joining me this time around? This'll be my eighth time in a row attending... whee!
prog: (Muybridge)
[ profile] classicaljunkie and I celebrated our two-year anniversary last night by watching the first two Godfather films at the Brattle. (We watched The Departed at the Somerville on our official first date.)

I had not seen either film before, if you can believe it. (The junkie has seen both many times, and this outing was at her suggestion.) The experience reminded me of studying Romeo & Juliet for the first time in high school, and being so amazed as how much content was in it, beyond the balcony scene and everybody-dies ending that every resident of Western popular culture knows about. What a pleasure it was to discover what the first movie held, beyond the horse-head scene and the one line everyone can quote. (I'm willing to bet that most people who have not seen The Godfather think that Marlin Brando's is the main character. I certainly did, before yesterday.)

Also, the opening measures of the theme song... for my whole life, hearing this has meant "You are about to watch a parody of some bit of The Godfather, maybe with Bill Clinton instead of Don Corleone or something". So hearing that in a dark theater and trying to convince myself no really it's the real thing this time was interesting.

It also brought to mind Brust's Vlad Taltos novels. I started reading these only last year, and they may be the first book-length gangster stories I've read, odd as that seems. (Trying to think back to see if I'm wrong... I liked Robert Aspirin's "Myth" series when I was a kid, and they have gangstery themes, but they're also very silly.) Anyway, the first books, written less than ten years after The Godfather completely redefined the crime-drama subgenre, clearly borrowed liberally from the films to build the structure of its underworld, never mind that it has elves instead of Italians. (Actually, I guess it would have humans instead of Italians. But anyway.) I learned all my (movie-)gangster lingo from reading these novels, so it was fun to watch them reappear in their original context.

As for Part II, I liked it OK, but it couldn't avoid feeling like a mere epilogue to the neat, perfect story told by the first. As such, the fact that it was significantly longer than the original work just made it feel uncomfortably unbalanced. It reminded me of how I felt after reading "Dune Messiah", except that that's not a very long book.


Nov. 25th, 2008 10:59 am
prog: (Default)
It's interesting to think that there are high school kids today who watch syndicated ST:TNG after school, and they have the same relationship with it that I did when I watched ST:TOS every weekday afternoon, 20 years ago.

Is TOS still in reruns anywhere, I wonder?
prog: (galaxians)
Bored-surfing the wiki, I read this on the page about Star Trek's Uhura:
Nichelle Nichols planned to leave Star Trek in 1967, after its first season, but Martin Luther King, Jr. persuaded her to stay, stating that she was a role model for the black community. [cite]
One of the United States' federal-holiday namesakes, and therefore a semi-mythical figure AFAIC, played a direct role in shaping popular science fiction as we know it today. Learning this was a spark-throwing info-collision for me! How about that.
prog: (Default)
I borrowed Charlie Stross's Halting State from [ profile] radiotelescope a few weeks ago, but am still only halfway through it. A police procedural about the game industry, even a lightly SFnal one (set in a newly independent Scotland circa 201X), is not really what I wanna read right now. Deciding that I was more in the mood for a totally whack fantasy, and recalling that [ profile] ahkond brought up Jack Vance's Dying Earth series in recent conversation, I sought that out. The Harvard Bookstore had a new paperback collection of all four novels for $20 - sold.

So far, I love them. The metagame hook for a modern fantasy fan is how they define a great deal of what would decades later become much of D&D's basic ruleset and milieu, particularly the notion of spells that vanish from your mind after you cast them, and sorcerors capable of holding more, and more difficult, spells in their brains as they gain wizardly experience. My enjoyment of the stories goes beyond this novelty (though I do get a kick out of it). They're smooth reading and, for half-century-old stuff, hardly dated.

So where am I with Brust? I have read through the first two Taltos collections (which cover Jhereg through Phoenix) and also picked up Dragon separately. I don't feel like reading the most recent two novels, both readily obtainable as new paperbacks, until go back to I fill in the holes.
prog: (doggie)
The fruit-picking mission got an extra kick by the fact that my iPhone's GPS + Google-mappiness proved quite useful in getting us there. At one point Nate-the-driver wasn't sure where we were, so I launched the phone's Maps and asked it to draw a line between our destination and wherever the heck we were. (I was able to specify our destination by launching Safari, googling the name of the orchard, then returning to Maps and hand-poking in the revealed street address.) We followed that line, and a little blue blip representing our current position obligingly poked down its length. It was accurate enough that I'd say "OK, we'll cross 495 in a second", a second before the foliage parted to reveal the overpass.

This shit still kind of astounds me. I'd say it was ST:TNG-type technology that's found its way into the real world, except that tricorders actually seem less flexible than modern smartphones do.

During their visit, my parents were very good about not mentioning politics of any sort. At one point I accidentally gave my dad a really juicy opening to pounce on, and I cringed, but he gingerly stepped around it instead. I was impressed. (Not that I said so.)

I can't tell if my mom is getting wackier or if I just notice it more for not seeing her very often. Retrospective analysis suggests that she's been a total fruitcake, god love her, for my whole life, but I'd be willing to believe that old age is simply giving her natural battiness a richer flavor. Anyway, in the few hours she visited, she confirmed that her fashion sense drifts ever further into Bozo-the-clown territory, revealed that she keeps a naked steak knife in her purse now (it's useful for going out to eat, see), and showed my girlfriend baby pictures, making sure to identify the ones where I had a load in my pants. OK, I had to laugh a little at that last one, but still.

Glass Vader

Aug. 9th, 2008 09:52 pm
prog: (khan)
I love this story of a Stained Glass Darth Vader window designed by a 7-year-old in 1977 (and crafted by a grown-up friend). They've been proudly displaying it ever since.

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