Loren Coleman needs our help

November 24, 2016

Loren Coleman needs our help

It isn’t easy to ask for help.

It can especially be hard when you are known as someone who helps others.

Loren Coleman, the world’s leading cryptozoologist, founder of the

International Cryptozoology Museum

did not contact me personally about his current medical expenses.

He could have: we’ve never met, but we’ve had some correspondence over the years. I always remember decades ago when I started using the term “Weird World”, and Loren contacted me to let me know he had already used it…and to magnanimously tell me I was free to use it. There wasn’t any real public awareness of me at the time; there wasn’t any need for this well-known author and investigator to simply clear that issue for me. It was done out of generosity. I have always used the term “Bufo’s Weird World” since to separate it, but I have always been grateful.

I’m by no means the only person that Loren Coleman has touched in that way.

It’s common to see pictures of visitors to the museum or at other events in smiling pictures with Loren Coleman.

That’s happened during the past few years, despite medical issues.

This is an author and his fans…and a significant author. While I first read Loren Coleman in the paperback editions of The Unidentified and Creatures of the Outer Edge in the mid 1970s (40 years ago), he has continued to be very active to this day, posting on social media, appearing on television documentaries, writing, and running the museum. You can get Loren’s books through Amazon here:

Loren Coleman’s Amazon Author Central page (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping* (the International Cryptozoology Museum is my current beneficiary))

It might surprise you, then, to know that Loren has had to ask for help with medical expenses. You can donate here:

Loren’s Medical Fund

If you can’t give anything, you can promote the campaign from there as well.

This is the man who coined the term “The Dover Demon”, who wrote about “Creepy Clowns” a generation before the current interest, intrigued us with “Phantom Kangaroo” reports and the Fortean “Name Game”, who is an expert on “The Copycat Effect” and suicide clusters, and who is preserving cryptozoological exhibits with a non-profit public museum.

Thank you, Loren, for all that you have done, and I wish you and your family the best in the future.

Note: I give permission for this specific post (Loren Coleman needs out help) to be reproduced freely without prior permission or compensation, in an effort to inform the widest possible group about this situation.

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

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project! Join the TMCGTT Timeblazers!

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! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

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.

2016 Critics’ Choice Television Awards nominees: recognizing geek-friendly acting

November 15, 2016

2016 Critics’ Choice Television Awards nominees: recognizing geek-friendly acting

Acting in geek-friendly roles has generally not been recognized for awards because, you know, it’s so much easy acting in something which isn’t only outside of your actual experience, but anybody’s actual experience.😉

It’s not that it never happens: Leonard Nimoy was nominated three times for a Primetime Emmy for playing Spock on the original Star Trek, Peter Dinklage has twice that (with two wins) for Game of Thrones, and Tatiana Maslany has been nominated twice and won once for a Primetime Emmy for Orphan Black (batting 500).

The latter two have also been nominated for The Critics’ Choice Television Awards (which weren’t around when ST:TOS was on). Those nominations are out for this year, and there are quite a few geek-friendly acting noms:

http://www.criticschoice.com/critics-choice-awards

It feels like a real move in the direction of the continued mainstreaming of geekery. Not only are geek-friendly actors being nominated in the drama category (often seen as the most prestigious, although that’s a debatable impression), but this time, there is actually more than one nominee in some categories…making a non-win not only probable, but virtually inevitable (outside of ties).😉

Before we look at those nominees, it’s worth noting a couple of factors which may be influencing the choices.

First, there is the rise of non-broadcast television in nominations…HBO leads this year, Netflix tied with ABC for second, and FX was fourth. Subscription television is regulated differently, and isn’t dependent on mainstream advertisers in the same way.

Second, this year there has been a split in the critics in the pool, because it has aligned with Entertainment Weekly. That reminded me a bit of special effects artists bowing out of the Academy Awards when the 1976 was nominated.

That might not have directly impacted these nominations, but it shows an evolution that might have changed the direction a bit.

Okay, geek-friendly noms!

  • Best Actor in a Comedy Series: Will Forte in The Last Man on Earth
  • Best Guest Performer in a Comedy Series: Christine Baranski in The Big Bang Theory
  • Best Animated Series: Archer | BoJack Horseman | Son of Zorn | South Park | The Simpsons
  • Best Structured Reality Series:  Penn & Teller: Fool Us
  • Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series: Peter Dinklage, Kit Harington in Game of Thrones | Christian Slater in Mr. Robot
  • Best Actress in a Drama Series: Emilia Clarke, Lena Headey in Game of Thrones | Thandie Newton in Westworld
  • Best Actor in a Drama Series: Sam Heughan in Outlander | Rami Malek in Mr. Robot
  • Best Actress in a Drama Series: Caitriona Balfe in Outlander | Tatiana Maslany in Orphan Black | Evan Rachel Wood in Westworld
  • Best Drama Series: Game of Thrones | Mr. Robot | Stranger Things | Westworld
  • Best Guest Performer in a Drama Series: Jeffrey Dean Morgan in The Walking Dead
  • Best Actor in a Movie made for Television or a Limited Series: Benedict Cumberbatch in Sherlock: The Abominable Bride

Congratulations to first-timers Westworld (which did quite well in noms), and Stranger Things (where some might have expected more noms)!

I would say that many of these acting nominees have been featured in Entertainment Weekly, although, of course, many actors featured in EW weren’t nominated.

Winners will be announced on Sunday, December 11th with T.J. Miller (Deadpool) hosting.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project! Do you have what it takes to be a Timeblazer?

* 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! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

 

Amazon Echo’s 2nd birthday: almost $40 off, and the Alexa Skills store at Amazon.com

November 8, 2016

Amazon Echo’s 2nd birthday: almost $40 off, and the Alexa Skills store at Amazon.com

Today is the Echo’s second birthday, and Amazon is offering the main Echo for $140.39 instead of $179.99 ($39.60 off)

Amazon Echo (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

That’s likely to just be today (it says it is for a limited time only).

I use an Echo every day (and an All-New Echo Dot (2nd Generation) – White (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) and an Amazon Tap (at AmazonSmile*) on weekdays, but you know…).😉

It turns my lights out on and off, place music, gives me the weather, tells me what’s on my calendar, and more.

When I say more, there is a lot more!

Amazon has now put the

Alexa Skills store on Amazon.com (at AmazonSmile*)

on Amazon.com, making it much easier to search the close to 5,000 skills!

For example, right now, I’m trying the

Earplay skill (at AmazonSmile*)

I’m a fan of Old Time Radio, and I have to say, the demo was fun. It is sort of like Choose Your Adventure, in that you are given choices of things to say and the story continues based on what you say. It does feel like OTR, although not quite as surreal as most of it.

Here are some of the stats:

Alexa Skills
Business & Finance (67)
Communication (20)
Connected Car (8)
Education & Reference (899)
Food & Drink (144)
Games, Trivia & Accessories (1,187)
Health & Fitness (132)
Lifestyle (390)
Local (97)
Movies & TV (82)
Music & Audio (48)
News (701)
Novelty & Humor (319)
Productivity (136)
Shopping (14)
Smart Home (114)
Social (51)
Sports (122)
Travel & Transportation (94)
Utilities (76)
Weather (462)
Avg. Customer Review
  • 4 Stars & Up (690)
  • 3 Stars & Up (1,086)
  • 2 Stars & Up (1,439)
  • 1 Star & Up (1,727)

Now, that’s a lot of one star reviews! It’s the most popular selection.

That may change in the future. It seems clear to me looking at this that they are going to enable paid Skills (as opposed to everything being free). I think that would be a good thing. Right now, there are two main types of content producers…hobbyists or people who are generally content creators and hope to use this to promote their other works, and companies using it as advertising/access (Uber, Domino’s Pizza, and so on).

Paid Skills would change that, with people being able to expect a return on their investment specifically from the Skill. Think of it like paid apps in the appstore…some of them are worth the payment.

Overall, these are good developments and a good sale!

Happy birthday, Alexa!

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project! Do you have what it takes to be a Timeblazer?

* 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! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

Happy Halloween from Batman and Ruffin, the Caped Cursaders!

October 31, 2016

Happy Halloween from Batman and Ruffin, the Caped Cursaders!

 

"To the Barkmobile!"

“To the Barkmobile!”

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

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project! Join the TMCGTT Timeblazers!

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! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

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.

Alan Tudyk: the unknown movie star

October 22, 2016

Alan Tudyk: the unknown movie star

Is 2016 the year that

Alan Tudyk

becomes a household name?

It’s a bit of a surprise that he isn’t already.

After all, he has appeared on our Most Valuable Players list multiple times:

He is on 815 (!) reader created lists at IMDb.

Still, despite having significant roles in some of the most popular movies of the year, I think most people couldn’t name him.

Oh, it’s different for geeks…we know him from Serenity and Dollhouse, just to name two.

Why might this year be different?

Star Wars.

Star Wars is the crossover geekshow of all time (although there are others, certainly). I think most people have heard of, well, just about everybody in a Star Wars movie.

Voicing the lead droid character, K-2SO ought to do it.🙂

He will also easily make the MVP list this year, with Rogue One: A Star Wars Story , Moana, and Zootopia. It’s possible his movies will make a combined dogro (domestic gross) of over one billion dollars this year, a rare feat (only achieved by five MVPs in 2015).

For more information on Alan Tudyk, see his birthdate of March 16, 1971 at

The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip

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

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project! Join the TMCGTT Timeblazers!

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! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

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.

Is My Favorite Martian’s “Uncle Martin” a Jedi?

September 22, 2016

Is My Favorite Martian’s “Uncle Martin” a Jedi?

My Favorite Martian was a popular “mermaid out of water”* sitcom which aired from 1963 to 1966. I’ve recently been re-watching it on Hulu, and it got me thinking.

“Uncle Martin”, the Martian (whose real name is Exigius) has a number of “unearthly abilities”. They are fairly well established in the first season (although they arguably expand in the third season).

Some of them seemed a bit familiar to me, and then it struck me: they reminded me of the Jedi abilities in Star Wars.

Now, let me be very clear: I’m not suggesting that George Lucas copied My Favorite Martian! Certainly, it seems likely that he saw the series (he was 19 when it debuted), but was undoubtedly familiar with the themes through other science fiction. Nothing here originated with the John L. Greene/Jack Chertok’s sitcom.

It’s more the idea for me that “Uncle Martin” may be a Jedi…even though Star Wars takes place in a galaxy far, far away, a long time ago (perhaps the Martian Jedi philosophy was a survivor from an ancient time).

Let’s take a look at what Uncle Martin can do, and compare it to Jedi.

Telekinesis

This is one of the most obvious parallels. Uncle Martin uses his “levitation finger” to move things with his mind. It may look sillier (this is a comedy, after all) when he wiggles his finger, but it’s actually less effort than when a Jedi makes full arm swings. Darth Vader comes close when he chokes someone. There are certainly limitations…Uncle Martin can’t influence things which are very far away, and neither can Jedi. If they could, they’d be able to take fighter spacecraft out of the sky with a gesture. Martin, who is quite a techie, did create a levitation machine with an extended range…something we don’t see in Star Wars.

Acrobatics

One of the things that defines Jedi for me is the acrobatics. The Martian does do very Jedi moves in one episode, The Disastro-Nauts. He is applying to be an astronaut on an Earth rocket to Mars, and despite appearing to be a meek, older human, shows up all of the young military types. That includes demonstrating extraordinary strength. We don’t usually see this, but he is a quiet type most of the time (not unlike the Jedi).

Telempathy/reading minds

Martin can sense emotions from somewhat far away…a “disturbance in the Force”, so to speak. However, again, Martin would win in a contest…he can read actual thoughts. If Lord Vader could do that, they would have a much simpler time fighting the rebellion. It’s not easy: he needs to be close, and generally, the other person has to concentrate (as does Martin). Martin sometimes tricks people into thinking about a topic (by asking questions) so he can get the details of it as he reads their minds.

Talking to animals

Interestingly, the Martian can speak with non-human animals…perhaps not surprising, since his telepathy already crosses species with humans. The animals appear to be cognitively much more advanced than would generally be accepted, but their motivations and perspectives are generally reasonably appropriate. A cat may be motivated by food, but hides an object to affect future events and understands what that object is and its importance. Can Jedi speak with animals? There are a lot of species involved in Star Wars, in addition to artificially intelligent droids. I can’t say that I’ve seen Jedi have the kind of communication Martin has with dogs and cats…they don’t appear to ask Tauntauns for specific information, for instance.

Jedi mind tricks

As is the case with Jedi, Uncle Martin can’t possess someone and control their actions. He can push them physically around with telekinesis, of course. However, he is also able to confuse them…we see a scene quite a bit like the “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for” scene. Martin is speeding (to help Tim), and two police officers chase him. He slows them down, and after they catch up, they can’t figure out why they were after him.

Invisibility

Uncle Martin can actually become invisible at will (unless something like a lightning storm messes it up). That’s an ability that Jedi don’t have (they do a lot of sneaking around in the movies which they wouldn’t have to do if they could just go transparent). That appears to be an inherent Martian ability, though…Martin needs his (metallic appearing, but apparently biological) retractable antennae to work for that. They may be implants of some kind, and the invisibility might be technological, but it’s clear that Martians generally have them. Martin is clearly not a Homo sapiens (for one thing, he is about 450 years old…and those are Martian years, not Earth years), but neither is Yoda.

Those are really Uncle Martin’s signature abilities. Now, Martin doesn’t have a light saber and isn’t a warrior (he’s a professor of anthropology), but do you have to have that to be a Jedi? If a Jedi loses their light saber, does that make them not a Jedi any more? It might make it hard for them to be a Jedi knight, but isn’t it possible there are Jedi who aren’t knights? If not, why add the term “knight” at all?

There are other parallels with Uncle Martin and Yoda: they are both relatively long-lived; they both dispense advise (Uncle Martin advised many famous humans over the centuries, on return trips to Earth…as far as we know, he just hasn’t been stranded on Earth before)…although Uncle Martin probably physically resembles Ben Kenobi more.

Could the Jedi philosophy have survived on Mars a long time later? By the way, Martin makes so many references to the actual planet Mars (trying to hideaway on an Earth probe there, for one thing) that it is hard to argue that he really isn’t from Mars…unless he has some form of transportation there that gets him to the actually more life-friendly location he describes.

What do you think? Is Uncle Martin a Jedi? Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post.

 * “Mermaid out of water” is a term I use for a situation that is like the classic “fish out of water”, but the outsider is magical, from another time, from another planet, or something otherwise outside of the human norm

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

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project! Join the TMCGTT Timeblazers!

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! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

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.

Star Trek: its 50 year mission…to boldly keep on going

September 8, 2016

Star Trek: its 50 year mission…to boldly keep on going

September 8, 1966: the first episode of Star Trek debuted.

It’s now fifty years later…and the Trek universe is still a major part of pop culture, with a movie this year and a new series in the works.

I thought I’d share my own perspective…I go back a long ways on this.🙂

I actually remember watching part of one episode when it was first aired. I was on my parents’ bed, and the TV was sort of stuck in a closet, where you opened the doors to be able to watch it. I don’t remember which episode it was, but I must have been being allowed to stay up late to watch it.

The series was almost canceled, but Bjo Trimble and her husband launched a fan campaign to keep it on the air. They used the tech available…encouraging a letter mailing campaign, not just to the studio and the network, but importantly, to the sponsors.

Star Trek got that third season.

Now, fans (or “fen”, if you want to use the fannish plural) generally consider the third season to be the worst…”third season” has even been a dismissive assessment of something. “How was that movie?” “It was so third season.”

Without that third season, though, there wouldn’t have been enough episodes for the show to be syndicated…and that could have been the end of the story.

This was all pre-home video…

While most syndicated shows had more episodes, it didn’t hurt that maybe we were seeing them a tad more often. The show would run five days a week…and if possible, we’d watch every one. Once we would get into the third season, I remember calculating how long it would be before it would start over. That’s not to say that the third season is entirely without its charms, but the early shows were better for me.

It was during this time that I, and many of my age, became deeply immersed in Gene Roddenberry’s vision. It was when, as a bumper sticker of the day had it, that I learned to “grok Spock”. Spock would become one of my fictional heroes (along with Doc Savage and Kwai Chang Caine). All three of these had things in common: other people saw them as “super”, but they all personally thought they were failures. They all valued emotional control. They all wanted to help others, but were always perceived as outsiders.

Spock, especially, exemplified this internal inferiority/external extraordinariness concept. Spock was, objectively, better than his crewmates in many ways. He was physically stronger, intellectually advanced…but felt himself to be weak, flawed, and unable to meet his father’s expectations.

Spock, though wasn’t as good as Spock plus Kirk…and McCoy was essential as the third point in the triangle.

We embraced all the characters (even “bad guys”, like Harry Mudd), and the tech, and the settings. We had Star Trek “tracer guns”, which fired small plastic discs. We read the Mad Magazine “Star Blecch” parody in 1967 (which was reprinted).

In 1970, Spock Must Die! by James Blish was published…and started a phenomenon of original Star Trek novels (not adaptations of episodes) which is still happening today.

By 1972, the first Star Trek convention was held. There had been fan conventions for decades, but this one was dedicated to this one series.

The success of syndication brought us the first follow on series: Star Trek: The Animated Series, starting in 1973.

It was great to hear almost all of the bridge crew back voicing their roles (only Walter Koenig didn’t make it as Chekov…although he would write a script for the series).

Quite a few of the elements of the original series returned…includes tribbles and yes, Harry Mudd.

It didn’t have the same feel for me, though. I particularly remember the music being intrusive.

Fan culture was big…there were fanzines, in particular, and fan clubs.

1977’s Star Wars suddenly made science fiction mainstream in a whole new way. Naturally, Star Trek, which already had a thriving fandom, made sense for a big screen adaptation.

Once again, the original bridge crew was reassambled…but the movie was, for many of us, disappointing. Some of it was so slow! In my area, rumor had it that Paramount allowed a local film student to re-cut it…for one thing, reducing the amount of time that we just were supposed to stare in awe as the Enterprise was onscreen. It retrospect, that almost certainly wasn’t true, but it was a widespread belief.

Fortunately, in 1982, Nicholas Meyer saved us (and the future of the series), with Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Sure, it was almost operatic…but Ricardo Montalban was so good reprising a one-time role from the series! It had great moments, and many of us still reference the Kobayashi Maru. Okay, so Saavik never really became a fan favorite, but it was still a great movie.

Star Trek III simply wasn’t as good. Star Trek IV, though, the one with the whales, was fun! This created the mythology that every other Star Trek movie was going to be good.🙂

1987 brought a new phase, with first live action follow on TV series, and it didn’t focus on the original characters…Star Trek: The Next Generation.

I wasn’t a big fan of the first season. I remember thinking that the way they solved things was by researching what the original crew did.

It grew on me. Picard and Data are iconic, and Q and the Borg were excellent additions to the universe.

From there on, we got more series and more movies. I’d say a standout for me was Kate Mulgrew’s Captain Janeway (I was already familiar with Mulgrew), although Voyager wasn’t my favorite series.

When Star Trek was rebooted…I was pleased. I think Zachary Quinto is a charismatic and intelligent actor, and Chris Pine is always fun. It seems to me to be much more about action than thought, though, which takes it away from the core strength of The Original Series.

In particular, there seems to no moral ambiguity. The Federation was certainly imperfect, and so were the main characters. Kirk and Spock in TOS could be in the wrong…and could realize it.’

The 2016 Spock seems way too confident…he would not have become my hero in the way that the 1966 Spock did.

That doesn’t diminish my relationship to the Star Trek universe. For decades, it has been important to me and to the geekiverse…and society as a whole.

Thank you to Gene Roddenberry and to every single person involved in making Star Trek what it has been and what it will be.

Live long and prosper.

For links to many Star Trek resources, including searching for streaming options and public libraries, see the entry at The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip for September 8, 1966.

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

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project! Join the TMCGTT Timeblazers!

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! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

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.

Why we love Gene Wilder

August 30, 2016

Why we love Gene Wilder

Gene Wilder has reportedly died.

A brilliant actor, who was also a writer and director, Wilder was a study in contradictions, with eyes that were both twinkling and pools of sadness, optimistic and pessimistic, a believer in magic and doubter of the ordinary.

From One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest on stage to two Oscar nominations (for acting in The Producers and screenwriting with long-time collaborator Mel Brooks for Young Frankenstein), there is no question that Gene Wilder was respected.

He was, though, also beloved, especially by geeks like me. We have a special place in our hearts for Gene Wilder.

Why is that?

Three of his best-known roles reveal a theme that helps explain it.

Willy Wonka, the Waco Kid, and Dr. Frederick Frankenstein have some significant similarities (although Wilder’s talent and skill clearly make them distinct characters).

In all three cases, they are superior individuals. Willy Wonka has created an unparalleled business, and appears to have almost magical powers. The Waco Kid may be the greatest gunslinger ever. Dr. Frankenstein literally brings the dead to life again.

They have also all rejected society. If they “played the game”, they could be the toast of the town, the top of their respective fields. Willy Wonka has actually withdrawn from the world. The Waco Kid has crawled into a bottle and  taken a nap there. Dr. Frankenstein has tried to fit in, but once at the castle, casts all that aside to continue his grandfather’s work.

None of that would make them especially endearing.

However, each of them also champions someone rejected by that same society which they have rejected. Willy Wonka does not minimize Charlie, who is poor and not the social equal of the other kids. The Waco Kid recognizes Sheriff Bart for his intrinsic value, unlike many others who at the least discount him out of prejudice. Dr. Frankenstein believes “The Monster” is as much a human being as anyone else.

That’s a clear appeal for geeks and for anyone who has considered themselves the underdog. The powerful person who doesn’t use that power to exclude, but to reach out to those on the fringes.

None of them are perfect. They can all be angry, and cynicism isn’t pretty. That helps, though…we see characters overcoming personality flaws (flaws which they know are there) to help someone who has been denied acceptance.

Again, that’s not to say that Gene Wilde replayed the same character. Those three each have distinct personalities…which wouldn’t have liked each other. In other performances, we don’t always see these three elements…and while the actor could be equally good in those roles, he wasn’t as beloved.

As Willy Wonka, Gene Wilder said, “We are the dreamers of dreams.” “We”…not “I”. There is a kinship offered. “I am like you, and we are not like most people.”

The dreams will live on.

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

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project! Join the TMCGTT Timeblazers!

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! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

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.

Stupid pitch: Ozpocalypse (Oz Squad #1)

August 19, 2016

Stupid pitch: Ozpocalypse (Oz Squad #1)tent

This may be the first in a series of humor pieces where I propose what I really think are stupid ideas for movies, TV  shows,  and so on. The purpose is to shine a light on something serious with humor.

Studio executive: “Okay, whaddaya got?”

Moviemaker: “It’s got everything you like. It’s perfect for the summer!”

Studio executive: “Blah, blah. Why is it safe and how will it make me money?”

Moviemaker: “It’s a reboot of a well-known property with a built-in fanbase. Yet, it’s been modernized to swim with the blockbuster tentpoles.”

Studio executive: “Three minutes.”

Moviemaker:  “What’s the most beloved movie property of all time?”

Studio executive: “Porn?”

Moviemaker: “The Wizard of Oz. We–“

Studio executive: “We’re done here. Disney just did it. it wasn’t a big hit, and they claim infringement when somebody makes Mickey Mouse pancakes for their kid. Disappointing box office and Disney lawyers? I’m out.”

Moviemaker: “I can see where you are coming from, but the source material is public domain…nobody owns it. That also means no author to pay. Ours isn’t like theirs at all. It’s a mismatched group of heroes fighting a big CGI baddy who uses magic…The Avengers meets Harry Potter!”

Studio executive:  “I’m listening again. Two minutes and thirty five seconds.”

Moviemaker: “Dorothy Gale is a tween in Kansas. She’s using an augmented reality program like Pokémon Go, where she follows an avatar of a little black dog. It’s called TotoGo. She gets caught up in a weird virus thing called Twister, and finds that her social media history has been deleted. A mysterious figure says she should go for help to a government official, The Wizard.

Along the way, she connects with a legendary hacker who uses multiple identities and only appears wearing a mask, like Anonymous…called The Strawman. Despite that name, we want to cast a woman in the part…maybe Jenna Ushkowitz, Aubrey Plaza, or Michelle  Rodriguez.

The Strawman brings along an artificially intelligent war robot which failed to follow instructions, not going into dangerous situations when its existence was threatened. It’s a quadruped, and they call it the Neurologically Enhanced Remote Vehicle Experiment: NERVE. We’ll use Google’s Big Dog robot, and we’re thinking Kevin Hart for the voice.

They also connect with a former Special Forces soldier who favors an axe in battle. Code name: Heartless. His catchphrase: “I couldn’t do this if I cared.” We want Dwayne Johnson. Hart and Johnson already have a hit together.

When they get to The Wizard, he sends them on a suicide mission against the cyberterrorist believed to actually be behind Twister: the Wicked Wicked Witch…Triple Dub, like the World Wide Web.

Turns out Triple Dub is actually possessed by an ancient demon. There’s a huge battle…we’re thinking at least 45 minutes of CGI action. Triple Dub sends flying  monkeys against the four…lots of scenes of Heartless chopping monkeys out of the air. Strawman overcomes NERVE’s programming resistance temporarily, and the robot is fearless and also splashes the screen with monkey guts, which should look great in 3D.

During the battle, we destroy the Yellow Brick Road and knock down large parts of the Emerald City.

The monkeys dismember Strawman. Heartless rides on NERVE to fight a Big Bad Henchman…a flying gorilla, like King Kong size.

That lets Dorothy get to Triple Dub, and the Kansas Kid dumps a sulfuric acid tank on her…we see that death scene in detail.

Heartless, NERVE, and Dorothy are celebrating. Strawman is dying, but manages to croak out, “This is wrong. No computers…no Twister.”

Dorothy realizes that The Wizard must really be responsible:  why would a demon use software?

Dorothy, Heartless, and NERVE head back to expose The Wizard.”

Studio executive: “What about that mystery figure who sent her to The Wizard in the first place?”

Moviemaker: “Good ear! We get shots of her in a monitoring center following Dorothy’s adventures, but she only calls her the ‘asset’. She uses the Magic Picture and the Great Book of Records to track her.”

Studio executive: “Is that going to make the fanboys mad?”

Moviemaker: “That’s one of the best things…Glinda actually does just that in the original books. She has a magic picture which shows her anything she thinks about, and a book that records everything that happens in the world. She really is a magical NSA.”

Studio executive: “Twenty seconds.”

Moviemaker: “Totogo helps Dorothy find The Wizard. They reveal him as a fraud, and he gets kicked out of power and sent to prison. Glinda mysteriously helps Dorothy restore everything (“There’s no page like homepage”) and we set up future Oz Squad movies. Oh, and Strawman survived and is now outfitted with prosthetic limbs.”

Studio executive: “Sequels? Prequels?”

Moviemaker: “Tons. We’ve got a major trans character, a feminist overthrow of a city…diversity and action.”

Studio executive: “Give me one trailer: trailers are key.

Moviemaker: “I’ll give you two. The ‘Carnage’ trailer uses the Tim Curry version of “Anyone Who Had a Heart” as a soundtrack, and shows quick cuts of Heartless fighting, and the melting, but we don’t show who that is. The ‘Conspiracy’ trailer plays up the mystery and the tech…maybe Domo Arregato, Mr. Robot, but we include dialogue. Not too much, of course.”

Studio executive: “Done. You get $125 million, and I want it in theatres in May.”

Moviemaker: “2020?”

Studio executive: “2018. We have an opening.”

Moviemaker: “That’s…um…not enough time to do it right.”

Studio executive: “Who cares about right? Just make it make money.”

Moviemaker: “Are you sure that’s worth the risk? What about those sequels? I’m just thinking about your future profits.”

Studio executive: “Bull. You want to make art. It ain’t about art…there’s a reason it’s called show BUSINESS, not show art. Get down with that, or get out.”

Moviemaker: “You’ll get your movie.”

Studio executive: “You bet I will…and your little avatar, too.”

The Measured Circle thinks this is a bad idea for a movie…and of course, only good ideas are ever made into movies…

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

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project! Join the TMCGTT Timeblazers!

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! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

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.

Going to Loren Coleman’s International Cryptozoology Museum? See my Jenny Haniver

August 7, 2016

Going to Loren Coleman’s International Cryptozoology Museum? See my Jenny Haniver

image1 (1)

I was very pleased recently to donate something I bought in my travels from a street fair and have had for decades. It’s a “Jenny Haniver”, which is a ray or a skate (both are a type of flat fish) which has been altered to look like a humanoid. My understanding is that they are dried, carved, and coated in varnish.

For many years, I have had it sealed in a box with “DO NOT CRUSH” written boldly on the side.

Well, I wanted to support

Loren Coleman‘s

International Cryptozoology Museum

which is moving into a new location.

Not only have I been interested in cryptozoology since I was a kid and borrowed Gardner Soule’s The Maybe Monsters from my school library as I described here:

A book that changed my life: The Maybe Monsters

but Loren has been kind and generous in the few interactions we’ve had. We’ve never met, but we have had some correspondence. I started something called “Weird World” and it turned out Loren had previously used that name. He graciously said that I could use it (I wasn’t a known writer at the time), but I did change it to “Bufo’s Weird World” to avoid confusion.

It’s better that other people get to see the Jenny Haniver, and I trusted that the museum would take reasonable care of it.

So, after asking Loren if they wanted it and getting an affirmative, I took it down to my local UPS store to have it sent to the museum at Thompson’s Point in Portland, Maine.

They needed to see what they were shipping (not an unreasonable request), and I had quite a conversation with the clerk. I proudly described it as a “museum specimen”, and explained the origin and destination.

They packed it up securely and it arrived safely.

You can see it in the picture at the top of this post, which I presume was taken by Loren, and he granted me permission to share it with you.

The one which I donated is the upper Jenny, fully lit.

I was pleased with the “neighbors”: a Jackalope, a fur-bearing trout, and a poster for Albert Koch’s Hydrarchos. None of those are really cryptozoology, the way that I would use the term, but that’s an important mission of the museum: to educate the public. That’s not only about cryptozoology, but about the popular culture impact of it.

What is cryptozoology to me?

It requires that there first be reports (which includes local knowledge) of an animal apparently unknown to science, which is then investigated.

For me, the discovery of a previously unreported species (and there are many of those each year) is not cryptozoology…but it has a bearing on it by showing that there are undiscovered species (which you would think would be common sense, but…some people think we already know everything. As  far back as 1812, Baron Cuvier thought there were no large animals left to be discovered).

Similarly, “creative taxidermy” has a bearing (fur-bearing, in the case of the trout)😉 on the topic.

Here’s an enlargement of the picture above:

Jenny Hanniver

As you can see, it looks like it has two legs, a tail, and wings. Even though the “face” is clear, the anatomical features are not what they appear to be. I’m impressed with the art of making it, even though I would not want to encourage the production of them.

If  you do get to the museum, say, “Hi!” to Jenny for me.😉

You may not have a specimen to donate, but you may want to support the ICM in other ways. Information is available on their site, and you could set them as your non-profit (the museum is a recognized as a 501(c)3 non-profit by the IRS, so donations are generally tax deductible, although you always want to confirm that for your specific situation) at https://smile.amazon.com/ (Amazon is making the donation in that case and gets the write-off). When you do that, Amazon donates half a percent of eligible purchases, at no cost to you.

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

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project! Join the TMCGTT Timeblazers!

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! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

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.


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