Is it swarm in here? The Navy announces autonomous swarm boats

October 15, 2014

Is it swarm in here? The Navy announces autonomous swarm boats

“You sunk my battleship!”

Well, technically, you didn’t sink it…robotic ships you unleashed surrounded it and sank it.

In this

media release by David Smalley

the U.S. Navy’s Office of Naval Research, proudly says, “The Future Is Now”.

We geeks know that isn’t always a good thing. ;)

In this case, the Navy can retrofit boats with CARACaS (Control Architecture for Robotic Agent Command and Sensing), enabling them to (on their own) coordinate a “swarming attack” on an enemy vessel. They can surround it and just hold it there, or (under human direction), destroy it. The Navy says they can “…deter or destroy attacking adversaries. Any weapons fire from the USVs would need to be initiated by a Sailor supervising the mission.”

There is a video linked on that page, and somehow, it reminded me of the M-5 drill from the original Star Trek’s The Ultimate Computer episode*.

This was kind of a mirror universe version. In the Trek episode, a robotically controlled Enterprise is swarmed by human-controlled starships in a war game.

In this case, a human-controlled vessel was swarmed by robotically-controlled vessels in a war game.

Generally, robots in war are designed to reduce unintended collateral damage. A gun doesn’t have to be “smart” to kill people: it’s made smart so it knows who not to kill.  A smart land mine would choose whether or not to explode, as opposed to current land mines, which maim  indiscriminately.

Even as an advocate of robot rights, we at the Measured Circle have to admit feeling a bit…weirded out by this one.

It certainly seems as though military vessels could be sailing along with this fleet of fast boats zooming along side, like dolphins following a fishing boat. The USVs (Unmanned Surface Vessels) detect that a kayaker has entered the area, and immediately surround it…at their own discretion. They won’t shoot unless told to do so…if everything goes according to plan (and it always does, right?). ;)

Okay, feeling fine with that? What if we throw drones into the mix? Yep, the media release (which shows this is forward thinking…it isn’t a “press release”) specifically mentions that this system could be expanded to include UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles). It suggests it could also be used for tanks and such.

There is just something about the way they’ve written the press release and done the video that makes it sound like one of those weapons demonstrations we see in the movies…just before everything goes wrong.

On the other hand, maybe it’s the demo from Short Circuit…one of these vessels gets hit by lightning, becomes self aware, and sets off on a wacky but peaceful boat trip with Zach Galifinakis and Zooey Deschanel on a madcap comedy, while being pursued by Colonel Nick Offerman as it seeks its designer, Jim Parsons.

If that’s the case, carry on…

* I rewatched that episode in preparation for this post, and it is worth noting that there is a “self-driving” spaceship in it…and it seems to be accepted as routine that an ore freighter would be driving itself around. Yet another case where Star Trek preceded reality…

Join thousands of readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the  The Measured Circle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them

 

Today is to the Beatles as the Beatles are to…

October 3, 2014

Today is to the Beatles as the Beatles are to…

As I’ve pointed out before

You’re showing your age when you say, “You’re showing your age”

It’s very different in the modern era, when pop culture of the past is alive and well. If you want to listen to music from the 1960s, or see movies from the 1920s, you can do it with no problem.

In the past, though, that wasn’t the case. Something that was old seemed, well, distant.

Let me illustrate.

The Beatles really became international superstars in 1964…fifty years ago. Today, a kid can listen to the “fab four” (although they probably don’t call them that), and still be thought of as cool.

Imagine that you were a teenager in 1964…no internet, and really, not much credence given to pop culture of the past. Sure, the Universal horror movies might be on TV, and the “monster kids” were into them…but not so much for the mainstream, popular clique.

What would a leap back fifty years look like for a kid in 1964?

It was World War I…and nothing was burning up the airwaves, because there really wasn’t radio for music.

Who was popular in music?

Irving Berlin’s first stage musical, Watch Your Step, included Play a Simple Melody.

So, today is to the Beatles as the Beatles are to World War I.

How about another?

The Judy Garland Wizard of Oz was released in 1939. It really became popular when it was shown on television in the 1950s, but we can fairly use its original theatrical release year.

1939 was 75 years ago.

Jump back another 75 years from then…and it is 1864: the Civil War was coming to a close.

Today is to the Judy Garland Wizard of Oz as the Judy Garland Wizard of Oz is to the Civil War.

Back too far for you?

The TV series Friends debuted in 1994…twenty years ago.

Twenty years earlier than that is 1974…the year Little House on the Prairie debuted.

Today is to Friends as Friends is to Little House on the Prairie.

How about toys and games?

The Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) was released in America in 1985, twenty-nine years ago.

1956 was twenty-nine years before that.

A nifty, “high tech” gadget for kids in 1956 was a portable Mickey Mouse club record player. It ran off batteries! You didn’t even need to plug it in…I guess we could say it was an early wireless gadget. ;)

If you tried to show off that record player in 1985, it probably wouldn’t go well for you socially. A kid with an NES in 2014? Retro, but awesome.

Today is to the NES as the NES is to the Mickey Mouse Club record player.

In 2014, the past is nearby…in a way that it wasn’t not so long ago.

Join thousands of readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the  The Measured Circle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them

The new TV season in geek

September 21, 2014

The new TV season in geek

We know…you don’t watch TV shows when they are first on anyway. ;)

However, we’ve been seeing a renaissance in geek shows on the networks.

They start new shows in September (and October), and there are quite a few offerings this year that might be worth watching live…or recorded..or streamed “week of”.

Let’s take a look on a day of the week basis. Note that these are just highlights, focusing on shows debuting/returning during this period, and scheduled for prime time. There are other geek-friendly shows which will be on during this timeframe, but they may already be running their current seasons. Dates and times are, of course, subject to change without notice.

Mondays

8:00 PM

  • The Big Bang Theory season 8 on CBS (returning September 22)
  • Gotham (new…Gotham City pre-Batman) on Fox (September 22)
  • The Originals season 2 on the CW (returning October 6)

9:00 PM

  • Scorpion (new…team of geniuses) on CBS (September 22)
  • Sleepy Hollow season 2 on Fox (returning September 22)
  • Ascension (new…Earth ship on a colony mission) on Syfy (November 24)

10:00 PM

  • Castle season 7 on ABC (returning September 29)

Tuesdays

8:00 PM

  • Selfie (new…Karen Gillan) on ABC (September 30)
  • The Flash (new…Arrow spin-off) on the CW (October 7)

9:00 PM

  • Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 2 on ABC (returning September 23)
  • Supernatural season 10 (!) on the CW (returning October 7)

10:00 PM

  • Forever (new…immortal medical examiner) on ABC (September 23)
  • Person of Interest season 4 on CBS (returning September 23)

10:30 PM

  • Brickleberry season 3 on Comedy Central (returned September 16)
  • Town of the Living Dead (new…reality about a town trying to make a zombie movie) (October 7)

Wednesdays

8:00 PM

  • Arrow season 3 on the CW (returning October 8)
  • Lucha Underground on El Rey (new…Mexican wrestling drama (?) series) (October 8)

9:00 PM

  • The 100 season 2 on the CW (returning October 22)
  • Ghost Hunters season 10 (!) on Syfy (returning October 8)

10:00 PM

  • South Park season 18 (!) on Comedy Central (returning September 24)
  • Key & Peele season 4 on Comedy Central (returning September 24)
  • American Horror Story: Freak Show on FX (returning October 8)

Thursdays

8:00 PM

  • The Big Bang Theory season 8 on CBS (returning October 30)
  • Bones season 10 (!) on Fox (returning September 25)
  • The Vampire Diaries season 6 on the CW (returning October 2)

10:00 PM

  • Elementary season 3 on CBS (returning October 30)

Fridays

9:00 PM

  • Grimm season 4 on NBC (October 24)
  • Gotham reruns on Fox (starts September 26th, rerunning Monday’s ep)
  • Alaska Monsters (new…cryptid reality show) on Destination America (started September 12)
  • Dog with a Blog season 2 on the Disney channel

10:00 PM

  • Constantine (new…based on DC Comics H*llblazer) on NBC (October 24)
  • Z Nation (new…zombies) on Syfy (started September 12)

Sundays

8:00 PM

  • Once Upon a Time season 4 on ABC (returning September 28)
  • The Simpsons season 26 on Fox (returning September 28)

9:00 PM

  • Resurrection season 2 on ABC (returning September 28)
  • The Walking Dead season 5 on AMC (returning October 12)
  • Halloween Wars season 4 on The Food Network (returning October 5)

Join more than a thousand readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the  The Measured Circle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

 

Richard Kiel reported dead

September 13, 2014

Richard Kiel reported dead

Richard Kiel was an actor.

That might not be the first thing that came to mind when people saw him. At 7′ 2″ (almost 2.2 meters), his height might have overwhelmed everything else in person.

Not on the screen, though.

It wasn’t just about being big. Richard Kiel was funny, and could be…I think sweet is the best word.

Even in his most famous part, as the “villain” Jaws in The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker, he wasn’t just a towering hulk. He was perhaps the best thing in Moonraker.

That wasn’t just a fluke. If you saw him in Gilligan’s Island (Ghost-a-Go-Go), you might have had no idea just how big he was. It’s not like it was Shakespeare, however, he was simply cast because he was going to be good as a Russian agent.

Kiel had many geek-friendly roles, but I think Eegah (as the title character in a teen caveman comedy) and the Twilight Zone (as the Kanamit in the classic To Serve Man episode) stand out.

Other geek-friendly roles include:

  • Boris Karloff’s Thriller
  • The Phantom Planet as the Solarite
  • The Phantom (TV movie with Lon Chaney, Jr.)
  • House of the Damned (as The Giant)
  • The Nutty Professor (the original)
  • The Nasty Rabbit
  • Two on a Guillotine
  • The Human Duplicators
  • The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
  • Brainstorm (1965 movie with Jeffrey Hunter, Dana Andrews, and Anne Francis)
  • I Dream of Jeannie
  • Honey West
  • My Mother the Car
  • The Monkees
  • I Spy
  • The Wild Wild West (three appearances as Voltaire, and another appearance)
  • On a Clear Day You Can See Forever
  • Kolchak: The Night Stalker
  • Barbary Coast (recurring role as Moose Moran on this William Shatner series)
  • Land of the Lost as Malak
  • The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries
  • The Incredible Hulk tv series (one scene as the Hulk, uncredited)
  • The Humanoid
  • Hysterical
  • Phoenix
  • Pale Rider
  • Out of This World TV series
  • Superboy
  • The Princess and the Dwarf
  • The Giant of Thunder Mountain
  • Inspector Gadget (the live action version with Matthew Broderick…Kiel basically played Jawsl)
  • James Bond 007: Everything or Nothing (voice as Jaws)
  • Tangled (the Disney animated movie, as Vlad)
  • Bloodhound, Inc. TV series

Good-bye, Richard Kiel…in more ways than one, the world is smaller without you.

Join more than a thousand readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the  The Measured Circle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Who is really winning the box office?

September 4, 2014

Who is really winning the box office?

You have probably seen all those stories touting Guardians of the Galaxy as the biggest money making movie of the year so far.

You may even have thought to yourself, “I wish I’d had a piece of that!”

Well, while a profit (production budget versus domestic gross) of $111 million is certainly impressive (and there is more to come), it only puts it fifth so far on our list of most profitable movies of 2014:

http://www.imdb.com/list/ls059776125/?

Yes, it’s beaten by the following:

  1. The Lego Movie ($198 million profit)
  2. 22 Jump Street ($141m profit)
  3. Neighbors ($132m profit)
  4. The Fault in Our Stars ($113m profit)

It is likely to pass $300 million dogro. Last year, there were four movies that did…and three of them went over $400m.

If we go back to the idea of investing, though, even these numbers don’t show you the whole picture.

Let’s pretend that you had a million dollars to invest in the production of a movie.

It’s just going to be the production budget: the studio will take care of marketing (and will get any merchandising money).

This is strictly an American deal…domestic box office only.

For your one million, you’ll split a share of the profit.

If a movie costs $100 million to make (so there were 100 one million dollar shares out there), and it dogroed (had a domestic gross of) $200 million, you’d get $1 million back for your investment.

Looking at it that way, Guardians is way down on the list…it cost so much to make!

You would have made a lot more money investing in Tammy, for example, which I’ve seen described elsewhere inexplicably as having “tanked”.

Tammy cost $20 million to make, and has dogroed to date $83.8 million…you would have gotten $3.19 million back for your investment of $1 million.

How much would you get back from Guardians so far?

$650,000.

Tammy would have been nearly five times as profitable for you.

Looking at movies that dogroed at least $40 million, here are the ones that would have made a profit for you, with what your return would have been:

  1. God’s Not Dead $29.4 million
  2. The Fault in Our Stars $9.42 million
  3. Neighbors $7.33 million
  4. The Purge: Anarchy $6.90 million
  5. Heaven Is for Real $6.62 million
  6. Ride Along $4.36 million
  7. The Lego Movie $3.3 million
  8. Tammy $3.19 million
  9. About Last Night $2.88 million
  10. 22 Jump Street $2.82 million
  11. Let’s Be Cops $2.5 million
  12. Lucy $1.98 million
  13. Think Like a Man Too $1.72 million
  14. The Other Woman $1.1 million
  15. The Hundred-Foot Journey $880,000
  16. Non-Stop $830,000
  17. Divergent $776,000
  18. Guardians of the Galaxy $650,000
  19. The Nut Job $530,000
  20. Captain America: The Winter Soldier $530,000
  21. Maleficent $330,000
  22. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles $330,000
  23. Rio 2 $280,000
  24. Godzilla $250,000
  25. Transformers: Age of Extinction $220,000
  26. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes $210,000
  27. How to Train Your Dragon 2 $200,000
  28. X-Men: Days of Future Past $170,000
  29. Jersey Boys $170,000
  30. Planes: Fire & Rescue: $160,000
  31. Blended $160,000
  32. The Monuments Men $110,000
  33. A Million Ways to Die in the West $70,000
  34. Muppets Most Wanted $20,000

Let’s also say that they take your $1 million as an investment…but don’t make you responsible for any more than that. In other words, if a movie isn’t at break even, you don’t have to make up the difference.

The following movies that dogroed at least $40 million have not made up their production budgets yet:

  • 300: Rise of an Empire 96%
  • Into the Storm 85.4%
  • Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit 84%
  • Noah 81%
  • Mr. Peabody & Sherman 77%
  • Hercules 71%
  • Need for Speed 66%
  • Robocop 59%
  • Edge of Tomorrow 56%

For this last group that made it on our list by having a dogro of at least $40 million, we don’t have reported budgets.

  • The Amazing Spider-Man 2 dogro=$203 million
  • Son of God $59.7 million
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel $59.1 million

Clearly, some of these are going to still make significant money, and there are big money makers yet to come in the year.

Looking at this list, though, the message is clear: the biggest budget movies would not always be the best return on your investment…even if they also make the most money.

Join more than a thousand readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the  The Measured Circle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Robin Williams has reportedly died

August 11, 2014

Robin Williams has reportedly died

We will update this later with more information but it is with great sadness that we report that Robin Williams has reportedly died.

Not only did he have many geek friendly roles himself, including Mork from Ork and the Genie from Aladdin, he promoted Jonathan Winters, one of the great absurdist comedians.

Update…

There was nobody like Robin Williams

Robin Williams, on the other hand, was like everybody…even you…at least for a few seconds.

That was part of the genius of Robin Williams…the ability to bounce from personality to personality, at lightning speed.

In fact, the improv artist was so fast that a sibling of mine accidentally played

Reality…What a Concept (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

on the wrong speed for a few minutes without realizing it.

Williams shot to fame with a guest spot on Happy Days as the alien, Mork from Ork. The wacky Mork was such a hit that Williams was given the series Mork & Mindy (and also played the character on Out of the Blue, and voiced a cartoon version).

Recognition as a serious actor would come later, with an Oscar for Good Will Hunting and three other lead nominations (Good Morning, Vietnam; Dead Poets Society; and The Fisher King), but we geeks can proudly count Robin Williams as one of our own.

I was also impressed with how he took steps to further the career of one of his idols, the equally unique Jonathan Winters.

Geek friendly roles include:

  • Popeye (in Robert Altman’s live action movie)
  • Faerie Tale Theatre (as the frog prince)
  • Terry Gilliam’s The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (as the King of the Moon)
  • Dead Again (directed and starring Kenneth Branagh)
  • Shakes the Clown (a Bobcat Goldthwait vehicle)
  • Hook (as Peter Pan, opposite Dustin Hoffman’s Captain Hook and Julia Roberts as Tinkerbell)
  • Ferngully: The Last Rainforest
  • Toys
  • Being Human
  • In Search of Dr. Seuss
  • Jumanji
  • Jack
  • Flubber
  • Bicentennial Man
  • A.I. Artificial Intelligence
  • Insomnia
  • Robots
  • Happy Feet (and sequel)
  • Night at the Museum (playing Teddy Roosevelt…Williams would return to the role in sequels)
  • Wilfred

Post production work on Absolutely Anything, directed and co-written by Terry Jones, and starring Kate Beckinsale, Simon Pegg,  Joanna Lumley, Rob Riggle, Eddie Izzard, and the Monty Python (Gilliam, Cleese, Idle, Palin, and Jones) is in process.

Good-bye, Robin Williams…the world is less frenetic (and less creative) without you.

Join more than a thousand readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the  The Measured Circle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Shootin’ simians: are guns new to the Planet of the Apes?

July 31, 2014

Shootin’ simians: are guns new to the Planet of the Apes?

Note: this post is going to reveal things about the original five Planet of the Apes movies, and that will include plot details. If you have not yet seen them and prefer to have that pure feeling of discovery that comes from approaching a work of entertainment with no foreknowledge (which I understand), I’d skip this one until you have seen them.

As a long-time Planet of the Apes fan, it’s been amusing to me to see media coverage of the newest movie, Rise of the Planet of the Apes. I’ve seen a number of articles suggesting that the author thinks it is an evolution (so to speak) from the original five movies. Not only in special effects, but, gosh, it has social relevance! Why, they are implying things about gun control and our modern world! How times have changed!

Times may have changed, but the movies have always been socially relevant…and in them, apes have always used guns.

In fact, I’d say the earlier movies are much more daring and blatantly obvious in their social criticism.

There are really three time periods in the first five movies.

The first two, Planet of the Apes and Beneath the Planet of the Apes, take place (and again, in case you missed the italics, SPOILER ALERT) about two thousand years in the future (and follow one right after the other). Status quo: apes rule and have an organized civilization. They speak, have a city, scientists, warriors…and  bureaucracy. Most of the humans appear to be hunter/gatherers, and do not speak. There is a remnant population of mutated humans underground who generally do not speak…but it is because they are telepathic. They are able to verbalize, but essentially find it distasteful.

The next two movies, Escape and Conquest, take place in relatively modern times for the audience (somewhat in the future, but not wildly so). Time does pass between the two movies, but they can be placed in the same context. Status quo: humans rule, and live in cities which resemble our modern cities. Apes do not speak, as a rule…unless they are time travelers from the future, or of that genetic line. They are servants to humans.

The fifth movie, Battle, takes place in-between those two timeframes, although the series makes the repeated point that there might be parallel time streams (they won’t necessarily end up where the first movie started). Status quo: both humans and apes speak, and they live together…but not in perfect harmony. Humans are in an inferior social position, and are actively distrusted by some apes. There is also a remnant human population in the ruins, at first unaware of the ape/human group.

 We encounter shootin’ simians in the very first movie, and it continues on through the fifth.

The

Internet Movie Firearms Database

which I ran across while researching this question, identifies the rifle wielded by the gorillas as a modified M1 Carbine. In this society, gorillas are typically warriors, chimpanzees are scientists and intellectuals, and orangutans are bureaucrats and represent religion (although they can also be scientists).

While the gorillas are the most skilled with firearms, Lucius, Zira’s rebellious teenaged (chimpanzee) nephew, is also capable.

When Taylor asks Cornelius if they have any weapons, the relatively pacifistic ape replies that they have the best (guns).

It would be hard to argue that this movie favors gun control, but featuring gun use by apes? Absolutely.

In Beneath, the apes not only have the rifles from the first movie, but at least one submachine gun and pistols.

An interesting point in terms of relevance for the series: youth anti-war protesters, carrying signs, are confronted by soldiers in the street. The Kent State shootings occurred on May 4th of 1970…Beneath the Planet of the Apes was released on May 26th of that year. Obviously, the producers were unaware that the Ohio National Guard would shoot youthful anti-war protesters when they were filming the scene, but it does show an awareness of and commentary on current happenings.

Escape is the one of the movies where the apes are the least violent: only Zira and Cornelius, who have time traveled back, are around, and neither one of them is in favor of the use of force (although not completely opposed). Cornelius does use a handgun.

In Conquest, Zira and Cornelius’ son has been raised by a human, and seems to have much more human sensibilities, having been deprived of chimpanzee culture. That includes the use of firearms, which he does quite dramatically. When they are plotting revolution, Caesar manipulates an order which a non-speaking ape is to carry out for its owner to include ammunition for a gun…you don’t need more bullets if you don’t intend to fire.

Finally, in Battle, there is a clear reference to gun control. The apes have an armory, but even the leader, Caesar, has to ask permission (and provide justification) for using them. Mandemus, an orangutan, is “the conscience of Caesar”, and judges requests.

At one point in the movie, there is one of the largest exchanges of gunfire I’ve ever seen in a movie. The apes (led by Caesar, who certainly is using a firearm) shoot it out with humans from the city. This scene seems to go on for some time, with more bullets flying than I’ve seen in any World War II movie.

So guns, and gun control are not new to the Planet of the Apes series, which tackled such topics as animal rights’ groups, abortion, women’s rights, youthful rebellion, and what we would now consider to be the religious right.

Since that’s the case, why do so many writers seem to think that it was all silly fun and games?

Perhaps they were influenced by watching the live action TV series or the animated series…they may not even remember that, but they were both less provocative than the first five movies.

While the Lawgiver may have said that apes shall never kill apes, he never said that apes shall never shoot guns…

For more information on the Planet of the Apes series, see

http://planetoftheapes.wikia.com/wiki/Planet_of_the_Apes_Wiki

At the time of writing, all five movies can also be seen as part of Amazon’s Prime movies, meaning that eligible Prime members can watch them at no additional cost.

Search for Planet of the Apes movies at Amazon (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Note: that search will have results which are not includes in Prime, incluing the Tim Burton/Mark Wahlberg version.

Join more than a thousand readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the  The Measured Circle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

James Garner reported dead

July 20, 2014

James Garner reported dead

James “Jim” Garner‘s characters were often laid back, non-conforming without being confrontational. If it wasn’t right, they didn’t do it…but “right” and “proper” weren’t the same things.

Certainly (and appropriately) best known for Bret Maverick and Jim Rockford, Garner’s career also includes more geek-friendly roles:

  • Space (1984 TV miniseries based on Michener’s fictionalized account of the American space program)
  • Fire in the Sky, based on the Travis Walton UFO abduction case…Garner’s Lt. Frank Watters is investigating the claims
  • Space Cowboys (directed by and co-starring Clint Eastwood)
  • Disney’s Atlantis: The Lost Empire (as Commander Rourke)
  • God, the Devil, and Bob TV series (as the voice of God…Alan Cumming was the Devil)
  • The Land Before Time X: The Great Longneck Migration
  • Battle for Terra
  • Garner also voiced the pivotal character Shazam (who gave Captain Marvel powers) in DC Showcase: Superman/Shazam!: The Return of Black Adam

Audiences had a special affection for Jim Garner: it seemed like it was never about his characters being better or smarter than everybody else…just more stubborn about sticking to the big principles.

Good-bye, Jim Garner: the world might be neater without you, but it isn’t better.

Join more than a thousand readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the  The Measured Circle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

My take on…Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

July 13, 2014

My take on…Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Hail, Caesar!

I’m a big time Planet of the Apes fan, as I explained in

My take on Rise of the Planet of the Apes

I even have a Planet of the Apes category on this blog.

In general, this latest movie was not a disappointment. Andy Serkis deserved (and got) top billing for the actor’s mocap (motion capture) performance as Caesar, the leader of the apes.

The effects are good (they clearly paid attention to hair moving…that’s a little thing, but it matters), even if the faces sometimes seem too brightly lit compared to the rest of the scene.

The script moved nicely, and had some clever twists to it.

It’s a big-time spectacle with an emotional center, which is just what you want in a summer blockbuster.

However…

It was perhaps the most sexist movie I’ve seen in years.

I’m careful not to spoil things, so I’m going to give you a mild

SPOILER ALERT

I’m not going to reveal any key plot points, but I am going to mention a few things.

This movie not only failed

The Bechdel Test

it’s one named (human) female character was relegated to the kind of nurturing support you might expect in a 1950s mainstream movie (1950s science fiction was more advanced than this in how women are treated).

First, a quick note on the Bechdel Test.

There are a lot of ways to say it (for more information, see the link above), but to pass the test, a movie (or TV episode, or book, or other work of fiction) has to have three elements:

  1. There must be two or more named female characters in it
  2. Two female characters must have a meaningful conversation and
  3. The conversation has to be about something other than a man

You might be surprised with how many works fail this test.

Even when people define it more loosely than I did on the second point (some people say any conversation counts, including: “Where’s the printer?” “Over there.”), it’s still a disappointingly small percentage.

In the case of DotPotA, Ellie (played by Keri Russell), seems particularly stereotyped.

What does the character do?

  • When an important male character is working hard on an issue, she observers that he needs to eat, and offers him soup…much as June Cleaver might have done with Ward
  • When there is a dangerous situation happening, she stays back…and sends a character off like a soldier going to battle
  • Yes, she is important to the plot because of her medical skills…I don’t recall it ever being said that she is a doctor. Being a nurse can be equally important, but it is a stereotypically female role (that has changed a great deal in the real world, but I would say that many people with a diminishing opinion of women would still see it as a female role)
  • Her “maternal nature” (that term isn’t used in the movie, I’m just defining the observed behavior) is important in relationships between the humans and the apes
  • Does she come up with any ideas that affect the course of things? Does she lead? I don’t really recall either of those happening

There are stronger female characters among the apes, although they still don’t lead.

The only other human females I recall seeing are in crowd scenes.

I was honestly surprised to see that one of the three credited screenwriters was apparently a woman (Amanda Silver), but that may be my own expectations getting in the way…I wouldn’t expect a woman to write a script like this, but of course, there’s no reason that couldn’t happen.

Hopefully, the already announced third movie in this series will do better in this area.

END SPOILER ALERT

The bottom line is that Andy Serkis’ performance is great (again) and Nick Thurston as Blue Eyes was another stand-out, the effects are good, the plot moves along…but the treatment (and lack of treatment) of female characters mars what would otherwise have been a very good movie. I can still recommend it, but with that reservation.

Join more than a thousand readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the  The Measured Circle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

 

Emmy noms: another Orphan Blackout

July 11, 2014

Emmy noms: another Orphan Blackout

How many people do you have to be to get an Emmy nomination around here? ;)

The 66th annual Prime Time Emmy nominations were announced today…and a lot of people really thought they would recognize Tatiana Maslany for her performances (yes, plural) on Orphan Black…but once again, the clone stands alone.

In fact, the series didn’t get nominated at all…not for writing, directing, costumes, hair…nada.

Looking at the

full list of 2013-2014 Emmy nominations

it really isn’t very geek friendly, although there were acting noms for American Horror Story and Game of Thrones. In fact, Game of Thrones got nominated for…well, pretty much everything.

Some call-outs, before we get into the big listing:

  • The Cosmos reboot received 12 Emmy nominations in its first year: the original Cosmos got a total of 5 Emmy nominations (and won 3)
  • Respect! Nominated series include The Originals, Sleepy Hollow, The 100, and Children’s Hospital
  • Diana Rigg was nominated for the second year in a row as a guest on Game of Thrones. Rigg has won one Emmy before…and not for Mrs. Peel (although she was nominated for that role)
  • Mayim Bialik was nominated for the third year in a row for playing Amy Farrah Fowler on The Big Bang Theory (Fowler had not been nominated for Blossom)
  • Speaking of tBBT, Jim Parsons was nominated for the fifth time for playing Sheldon Cooper. Parsons has won as Cooper three times. The actor was also recognized this year for The Normal Heart
  • Steven Moffatt was nominated for a fourth time…all of them have been for writing Sherlock
  • Anna Nicole was nominated for prosthetic make-up…nothing on the CW or Syfy was
  • Nothing was nominated from MTV (couldn’t Teen Wolf have been nominated in the prosthetic make-up category) or Syfy

Here are geek-friendly nominations:

Outstanding Character Voice-Over Performance (an inherently geeky category)

  • Chris Diamantapolous as Mickey Mouse: Disney Mickey Mouse
  • Stephen Full as Stan: Dog with a Blog
  • Seth MacFarlane as Peter Griffin, Stewie Griffin,
    Glenn Quagmire: Family Guy
  • Maurice LaMarche as Calculon and Morbo: Futurama
  • Seth Green as various characters: Robot Chicken DC Comics Special II: Villains in Paradise
  • Harry Shearer as Kent Brockman, Mr. Burns,
    Younger Burns, Smithers: The Simpsons

Outstanding Animated Program

  • Archer
  • Bob’s Burgers
  • Futurama
  • South Park
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Manhattan Project

Outstanding Short-Format Animated
Program

  • Adventure Time: Be More
  • Disney Mickey Mouse: O Sole Minnie
  • Phineas and Ferb: Thanks But No
  • Thanks
  • Regular Show: The Last Laserdisc Player
  • Robot Chicken: Born Again Virgin Christmas
  • Special

Outstanding Art Direction For A Contemporary Or Fantasy Series
(Single-Camera)

  • Game Of Thrones: The Laws Of Gods And Men; The Mountain And The Viper
  • True Blood: At Last;  F**k The Pain Away; In The Evening

Outstanding Art Direction For A Period Series, Miniseries Or A Movie
(Single-Camera)

  • American Horror Story: Coven

Outstanding Art Direction For A Contemporary Program (Half-Hour
Or Less)

  • The Big Bang Theory: The Hofstadter Insufficiency; The Locomotive Manipulation; The Proton Transmogrification
  • Silicon Valley: Articles Of Incorporation; Signaling Risk; Optimal Tip-To-Tip Efficiency

Outstanding Art Direction For Variety, Nonfiction, Reality or
Reality-Competition Program

  • COSMOS: A SpaceTime Odyssey: Hiding In The Light • The Lost Worlds Of Planet Earth; Unafraid Of The Dark

Outstanding Casting for a Drama Series

  • Game of Thrones

Outstanding Casting For A Miniseries, Movie Or A Special

  • American Horror Story: Coven
  • Sherlock: His Last Vow

Outstanding Cinematography For A Single-Camera Series

  • Game of Thrones: Two Swords; The Lion and the Rose

Outstanding Cinematography For A Miniseries Or Movie

  • Fleming: The Man Who Would Be Bond
  • Sherlock: His Last Vow

Outstanding Cinematography For Nonfiction Programming

  • Cosmos: Standing Up in the Milky Way

Outstanding Costumes for a Series

  • Game of Thrones: The Lion and the Rose
  • Once Upon a Time: A Curious Thing

Outstanding Costumes For A Miniseries, Movie Or A Special

  • American Horror Story: Coven
  • Sherlock: His Last Vow

Outstanding Directing For A Comedy Series

  • Silicon Valley: Minimum Viable Product

Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series
Game Of Thrones: The Watchers On The Wall

Outstanding Directing For A Miniseries, Movie Or A Dramatic
Special

  • American Horror Story: Coven
  • Sherlock: His Last Vow

Outstanding Directing For Nonfiction Programming

  • COSMOS: A SpaceTime Odyssey: Standing Up In The Milky Way

Outstanding Multi-Camera Picture Editing For A Comedy Series

  • The Big Bang Theory: The Cooper Extraction

Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing For A Miniseries Or A Movie

  • Sherlock: His Last Vow

Outstanding Picture Editing For Short-Form Segments And Variety
Specials

  • AFI Life Achievement Award: A Tribute To Mel Brooks

Outstanding Picture Editing For Nonfiction Programming

  • COSMOS: A SpaceTime Odyssey: Standing Up In The Milky Way

Outstanding Hairstyling For A Single-Camera Series

  • Game Of Thrones: The Lion and the Rose
  • The Originals: Dance Back From The Grave

Outstanding Hairstyling For A Miniseries Or A Movie

  • American Horror Story: Coven

Outstanding Interactive Program

  • Game of Thrones Premiere – Facebook Live and Instagram

Outstanding Main Title Design

  • Black Sails
  • COSMOS: A SpaceTime Odyssey
  • Silicon Valley

Outstanding Makeup For A Single-Camera Series (Non-Prosthetic)

  • Game of Thrones: Oathkeeper

Outstanding Makeup For A Miniseries Or A Movie (Non-Prosthetic)

  • American Horror Story: Coven

Outstanding Prosthetic Makeup For A Series, Miniseries, Movie Or A Special

  • American Horror Story: Coven
  • Game Of Thrones: The Children

Outstanding Music Composition For A Series (Original Dramatic Score)

  • COSMOS: A SpaceTime Odyssey: Standing Up In The Milky Way
  • Game Of Thrones: The Mountain and the Viper

Outstanding Music Composition For A Miniseries, Movie Or A Special
(Original Dramatic Score)

  • American Horror Story: Coven
  • Sherlock: His Last Vow

Outstanding Original Music And Lyrics

  • A Christmas Carol

Outstanding Original Main Title Theme Music

  • Black Sails
  • COSMOS: A SpaceTime Odyssey
  • Sleepy Hollow

Outstanding Lead Actor In A Comedy
Series

  • Jim Parsons as Sheldon Cooper: The Big Bang Theory

Outstanding Lead Actor In A Miniseries Or A Movie

  • Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes: Sherlock: His Last Vow

Outstanding Lead Actress In A Miniseries Or A Movie

  • Jessica Lange as Fiona Goode: American Horror Story: Coven
  • Sarah Paulson as Cordelia Goode Foxx: American Horror Story: Coven

Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Drama Series

  • Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister: Game of Thrones

Outstanding Supporting Actor In A: Miniseries Or A Movie

  • Martin Freeman as John Watson: Sherlock: His Last Vow

Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Comedy Series

  • Mayim Bialik as Amy Farrah Fowler” The Big Bang Theory

Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Drama Series

  • Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister: Game of Thrones

Outstanding Supporting Actress Miniseries Or A Movie

  • Frances Conroy as Myrtle Snow: American Horror Story: Coven
  • Kathy Bates as Madame Delphine LaLaurie: American Horror Story: Coven
  • Angela Bassett as Marie Laveau: American Horror Story: Coven
  • Ellen Burstyn as Olivia: Flowers In The Attic

Outstanding Guest Actor In A Comedy Series

  • Bob Newhart as Arthur: The Big Bang Theory

Outstanding Guest Actress In A Drama Series

  • Diana Rigg as Lady Olenna Tyrell: Game Of Thrones

Outstanding Comedy Series

  • The Big Bang Theory
  • Silicon Valley

Outstanding Drama Series

  • Game of Thrones

Outstanding Miniseries

  • American Horror Story: Coven

Outstanding Television Movie

  • Sherlock: His Last Vow

Outstanding Short-Format Live-Action Entertainment Program

  • Childrens Hospital

Outstanding Short-Format Nonfiction Program

  • COSMOS: A National Geographic Deeper Dive

Outstanding Children’s Program

  • Dog with a Blog

Outstanding Documentary Or Nonfiction Series

  • COSMOS: A SpaceTime Odyssey

Outstanding Informational Series Or Special

  • Through The Wormhole With Morgan Freeman

Outstanding Structured Reality Program

  • Mythbusters

Outstanding Sound Editing For A Series

  • Black Sails
  • Game of Thrones
  • The Walking Dead

Outstanding Sound Editing For A Miniseries, Movie Or A Special

  • American Horror Story: Coven: Fearful Pranks Ensue
  • Sherlock: His Last Vow

Outstanding Sound Editing For Nonfiction Programming (Single Or
Multi-Camera)

  • COSMOS: A SpaceTime Odyssey: Standing Up In The Milky Way

Outstanding Sound Mixing For A Comedy Or Drama Series (One Hour)

  • Game Of Thrones: The Watchers On The Wall

Outstanding Sound Mixing For A Miniseries Or A Movie

  • American Horror Story: Coven: Fearful Pranks Ensue
  • Sherlock: His Last Vow

Outstanding Sound Mixing For A Comedy Or Drama Series (Half-Hour) And Animation

  • The Simpsons • Married To The Blob

Outstanding Sound Mixing For Nonfiction Programming

  • COSMOS: A SpaceTime Odyssey

Outstanding Special And Visual Effects

  • Almost Human: Pilot
  • COSMOS: A SpaceTime Odyssey
  • Game Of Thrones: The Children
  • The 100: We Are Grounders, Part 2
  • Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: T.A.H.I.T.I.

Outstanding Special And Visual Effects In A Supporting Role

  • Black Sails: I.
  • Da Vinci’s Demons: The Sins of Daedalus
  • The Walking Dead: 30 Days Without An Accident

Outstanding Stunt Coordination For A Drama Series, Miniseries Or Movie

  • Game of Thrones
  • Grimm
  • Revolution
  • True Blood

Outstanding Technical Direction, Camerawork, Video Control For A
Series

  • The Big Bang Theory

Outstanding Writing For A Comedy Series

  • Silicon Valley • Optimal Tip-To-Tip Efficiency

Outstanding Writing For A Drama Series

  • Game of Thrones: The Children

Outstanding Writing For A Miniseries, Movie Or A Dramatic Special

  • American Horror Story: Coven
  • Sherlock: His Last Vow

Outstanding Writing For Nonfiction Programming

  • COSMOS: A SpaceTime Odyssey: Standing Up In The Milky Way

Join more than a thousand readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the  The Measured Circle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 345 other followers

%d bloggers like this: