Archive for March, 2011

Archer renewed for a third season

March 30, 2011

Archer renewed for a third season

Look, I know Archer isn’t for everybody.  I mean if cartoon nudity and cluelessly insensitive characters don’t cause you to reject it, there was that breast cancer storyline this year…played partially for laughs.

However, for some people, this is the best show on television.

The writing is clever, the voice acting is great.  The characters are consistent…and hilarious. 

SPOILER ALERT

I particularly found that it rang true when Lana mercilessly criticized Archer when he went on a “rampage” while he was undergoing chemo for his breast cancer.  For example, she warned him not to throw up in her car.  Is she that heartless?  No, but it seemed completely believable to me that she would act that heartlessly to shield herself from emotional involvement in a potentially tragic circumstance.

END SPOILER

Pretty deep for a two-dimensional character, hm?  😉

Especially one who is subject to on-going jabs about how big her hands are…and who will get this post hits because “Lana” and nudity both appear in it.  😉

She’s just one of a true ensemble of great characters…think of it as the Mary Tyler Moore Show…if Mary sometimes shot Ted in the foot to keep him in line, and we saw Sue Ann have sex, instead of just talking about it.

Yep, it’s an edgy workplace comedy…it’s just that the workplace happens to be full of secret agents…and a cartoon.

Hollywood Reporter article

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle. 

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Elizabeth Taylor reported dead

March 23, 2011

Elizabeth Taylor reported dead

Elizabeth Taylor.

You don’t really need to say more…everyone knew who she was.

Who that is may have changed some over time…from a child star in National Velvet and two Lassie movies, to the glamorous, oft-married Hollywood star, to Michael Jackson’s friend, to perfume designer, to her work with AIDS.

She didn’t do a lot of genre work: she’ll be known more for Giant, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, and Cleopatra.

She did do some, though…Doctor Faustus (with twice-husband Richard Burton), The Blue Bird, voices on Captain Planet and The Simpsons (and God, the Devil, and Bob), and the live action version of The Flintstones.

This is going to hit a lot of people as the end of an era, however, there are other stars from 1940s and 1950s (and certainly the 1960s, arguably her heyday) still with us.

But there are no more Elizabeth Taylors.

Good-bye, La Liz…as those famed violet eyes will meet ours no more, know that you will always be an eye-opener…not only for your talent, but for being who you are.

Elizabeth Taylor at IMDb 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle. 

My take on Paul

March 20, 2011

My take on Paul

I was pretty surprised when my non-geek Significant Other suggested we go see Paul, the latest Pegg/Frost genre send-up.  We do like going to the movies, and go fairly often…but this just didn’t seem like the choice that would be made.

First, let me set my Pegg/Frost (I want to call them “Frosty Pegg”, but that doesn’t seem right) cred.  I thought Shaun of the Dead was a really good movie, and I’ve watched all of Spaced (which I recommend…to the right people).

However, the trailer for this seemed iffy to me…it just didn’t seem that clever.

Seeing the movie, my reaction, as my offspring would say, was “meh”.  It was okay, and had some funny points.  However, while it was supposed to be deeply geeky, it seemed like they’d gone for the low-hanging fruit.  I don’t want to be spoilery, but the jokes seemed like somebody who spent a few hours researching geeks on the internet would do.  Slave Leia outfit?  They did that on Friends…

The character Paul is interesting, but like the rest of the characters, seems too cartoony for us to really care about him.  That was one of the strengths of Shaun and Spaced: there was real heart there.  This struck me as nods to geeks, but didn’t get any deeper, really, than Alien and E.T and Back to the Future….and that’s not very deep.

Of course, a true geekfest (like Spaced) has somewhat limited appeal.

I don’t want you to think it was a waste of time, it wasn’t.  I had some fun…although the best parts were probably in the trailer.

For example, I liked how Frost’s character is almost always introduced by Pegg’s character as “the writer Clive Goslings”…not just Clive.  That rang true to me.

Seth Rogen, voicing Paul, is unusually restrained in the part, and that works.  Another actor might have gone a lot bigger.

John Carrol Lynch (Drew’s transvestite brother on the Drew Carey Show) was virtually unrecognizable (and that’s a tribute to his acting).

Jane Lynch (I believe they are unrelated), Glee’s Sue Sylvester, has a small part set in the Little A’Le’Inn, a real alien-themed restaurant near Area 51.

What I would say is…don’t avoid it.  If some non-geek wants to take you to a geeky movie, accept the gesture and go to Paul.  Seeing it, though, I think I felt a little like serious artificial intelligence researchers feel about Watson the IBM creation that competed on Jeopardy.  It’s a little irritating that people will think that’s the real thing, but it’s nice to see the interest.  😉

Oh, one odd thing, and I’d appreciate any insight.  They made a real point about referring to a character named Keith Nash.  It seemed like they expected us to recognize the name, but I didn’t.  Maybe it’s an in-joke, but if anybody knows a geek reference to “Keith Nash” I d appreciate hearing it  🙂

Update (April 9 2016): I might have found out who “Keith Nash” is! There is a series of children’s books in by the British author Michael Hardcastle (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*). It’s about a kids’ football (soccer) team…and let’s just say that might be appropriate. 😉 One of the kid’s is named Keith Nash. They were being published when Pegg and Frost were children…

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle. 

Michael Gough reported dead

March 18, 2011

Michael Gough reported dead

While Tim Burton had three actors playing Batman (Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, George Clooney) in four movies, there was only one Alfred…Michael Gough.

That’s as it should be.  Alfred was always the source of constancy in Batman’s life…the rock. 

By the time Gough appeared in Burton’s reboot, he had already been on screen for more than forty years.

It wasn’t his first time with “reimaginings”.  He was part of Hammer’s House of Horror when he appeared in Horror of Dracula (starring Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, directed by Terence Fisher, and written by Jimmy Sangster).  He starred in AIP’s Hypnovision release, Horrors of the Black Museum.

Before Batman, though, I probably most associated him with Konga.

He was in classic British telly sci-fi, from The Avengers to Blake’s 7 to Doctor Who.

He also appeared in respected mainstream works.

His last role was as the voice of The Dodo in Burton’s Alice in Wonderland with Johnny Depp.

Thank you for being there for us, for your grace, and gravitas…even in movies like Trog and Venom.  🙂

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog.

Gilbert Gottfried fired as Aflac duck after tsunami tweets

March 14, 2011

Gilbert Gottfried fired as Aflac duck after tsunami tweets

I need to start out with this: I have not read Gilbert Gottfried’s tweets about the recent Japanese earthquake and tsunami.  They may certainly have been insensitive and offensive: I don’t really know.

Aflac, the insurance company, apparently thought Gottfried crossed the line…they have reportedly fired him as the voice of the Aflac duck:

Entertainment Weekly article 

Gottfried has a…um…distinctive voice.  I’ve even imitated him in classes, and always got a laugh.  I was explaining how the WBTs (Web Based Trainings) we have always have the most low key voiceovers.  They sound like they are in a soundproof booth, describing the action at a golf tournament.  😉  I joke that people would pay more attention if Gilbert Gottfried was the voice artist.

Stephen King has cited Gottfried’s Shoedini commercial as the “Most Obnoxious TV Commercial Ever”.

You may also know him as the parrot Iago in Aladdin, or on Hollywood Squares.

I have to say, though, firing Gilbert Gottfried for making an insensitve joke shows you sort of didn’t do the research in the first place.   I mean, he’s frequently been on Howard Stern, and was criticized for doing a 9/11 joke “too soon”…and he has told the famously filthy joke, The Aristocrats.

I’m not saying that Aflac wasn’t justified…actually, now that I think about it, the 9/11 thing would have been after they hired him.

Still, it brings up that classic question…do you judge the art by the artist?  And yes, I think the Aflac duck is art.

Do you think you can do a better voice for the duck?  Aflac is going to conduct a talent search for the duck:

Aflac Press Release 

If you get it, let me know.  🙂

My sympathies are with everyone affected by the earthquake, tsunami, and aftermath.  You can contribute to the Red Cross for relief at this special

Amazon page

 and Google has resources

here

UPDATE: AOL is conducting a video search for the next voice of the AFLAC duck…you can submit a recording:

AOL AFLAC duck search

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog.

Claim: alien life found in meteorite

March 7, 2011

Claim: alien life found in meteorite

In a paper by Richard B. Hoover, who you are going to see called a “NASA scientist”, it is claimed that fossils of microscopic alien life forms have been identified inside a meteorite

Fossils of Cyanobacteria in CI1 Carbonaceous Meteorites:
Implications to Life on Comets, Europa, and Enceladus

The work was published in the online publication The Journal of Cosmology.

This is already getting a lot of publicity.

There are a few questions to consider here:

1. If the claim is true, is it new information?

There is a hypothesis that life arrived on Earth from outside, and/or that it continues to arrive in meteors and such.  The general idea of life traveling through space in this way is referred to as “panspermia”.  Among the proponents of the idea have been Sir Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe.   Evidence has been claimed a few times in the past, but has not been generally scientifically accepted.

2. Is this a legitimate scientist?  Is this a legitimate journal?

Papers submitted are anonymously reviewed by at least two referees, although those referees may work for the journal.  The staff appear to have legitimate qualifications in the field. 

3. If this is not evidence of alien life, what would be the alternative explanations?

There are two main responses to this. 

The first issue is eliminating contamination: did these cyanobacteria get into the meteorite after it arrived on Earth?  That’s clearly one of the more complicated issues to resolve.

The second issue has to do with defining “life”.  That’s also not always as clear as a layperson might presume.

4. What are the implications if the claim is accepted?

You are going to hear this connected to anthropomorphic aliens and UFOs.  Proof of microscopic alien life doesn’t immediately imply the existence of more complex alien life.  However, it would provide evidence of something widely-assumed by scientists, that life exists outside the Earth. 

We’ll hear more about this in the coming weeks.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog.

The Week Ahead: March 7 – March 13 2010

March 7, 2011

The Week Ahead: March 7 – March 13 2010

For more information on upcoming (and historical) movies, TV shows, books, conventions, paranormal happenings, and pretty much anything that interests me, see the ever-growing Measured Circle Pop Culture Timeline.

Movies

Battle: Los Angeles

Big budget, big bangs.  I think a lot of people will be in the mood for something adrenalin-driven and easy to watch…and that doesn’t star Nic Cage.  😉  Seriously, this one seems like it will be accessible and not particularly controversial.  My guess is that it will translate well abroad, which will help.  Aaron Eckhart may be a good fit here, and Bridget Moynahan, Michelle Rodriguez, and Ne-Yo are also going to drive up the audience.  The director and writer don’t have much of a history, though.  I don’t think this is an Independence Day size hit, but bigger than last year’s Skyline.  🙂  However, Skyline doubled its ten million dollar budget…I don’t think this one can do the same with its reported one hundred million budget.  I’d say it has a couple of weeks before Sucker Punch may draw some of its audience…although that’s not going to be a straight ahead movie like this one.  I’m worried I may be overestimating on this one, but I’ll go with my $100m to $199m dogro (domestic gross) slot.  That means it has to beat the A-Team and just about tie The Expendables.

Red Riding Hood

I’m torn a bit on this one…and unlike some people in the movie, it’s not limb from limb.  😉  Hollywood just seems to have presumed there is a huge market for live-action modern takes on fairy tales.  I don’t see that as a proven box office guarantee.  Amanda Seyfried didn’t make Jennifer’s Body a hit, but Dear John did well (80m).  The director has Twilight on her resume, but the writer doesn’t have much.  Gary Oldman’s a draw but won’t make a picture on his own.  The trailer has some interesting shots, and despite the violence, it’s PG-13.  I’m going to say…in the 40m to 79m slot, although I could see it disappearing altogether. 

Mars Needs Moms

This was is in a good position to take the baton from Gnomeo and Juliet.  Rango was probably too adult to pull the same audience, but this is just going to be fun for kids.  I’m assuming the “Mom in peril” plot isn’t too much.  The director, Simon Wells (great-grandson of H.G.), had a track record: Balto, The Prince of Egypt).  Seth Green and Joan Cusack are solid voice talent.  It’s got a clear path until Hop on April 1st (and that may be too meta for kids).  I’m going to go…between 80 and 100m dogro for this one.

New TV

  • Adventure Time at 8:00 PM on Cartoon Network (Monday)
  • The Event (two hours) at 8:00 PM on NBC (Monday)
  • House at 8:00 PM on Fox (Monday)
  • Mad (The Buzz Identity/Two and a Half-Man) at 8:15 PM on Cartoon Network (Monday)
  • Regular Show at 8:30 PM on Cartoon Network (Monday)
  • Being Human at 9:00 PM on Syfy (Monday)
  • Cake Boss at 9:00 PM on TLC (Monday)
  • Shatner’s Raw Nerve (Ed Asner) at 10:00 PM on Bio (Monday)
  • Glee at 8:00 PM on Fox (Tuesday)
  • V at 9:00 PM on ABC (Tuesday)
  • Tosh.0 at 10:00 PM on Comedy Central (Tuesday)
  • American Idol at 8:00 PM on Fox (Wednesday)
  • Survivor at 8:00 PM on CBS (Wednesday)
  • Ghost Hunters at 9:00 PM on Syfy (Wednesday)
  • Face Off at 10:00 PM on Syfy (Wednesday)
  • Being Erica at 11:00 PM on Soapnet (Wednesday)
  • American Idol (first viewer-based elimination) at 8:00 PM on Fox (Thursday)
  • Big Bang Theory at 8:00 PM on CBS (Thursday)
  • Bones at 9:00 PM on Fox (Thursday)
  • Archer at 10:00 PM on FX (Thursday)
  • The Mentalist at 10:00 PM on CBS (Thursday)
  • Eaglehart at 11:59 PM on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim (Thursday)
  • Young Justice at 7:00 PM on Cartoon Network (Friday)
  • Ben 10 at 7:30 PM on Cartoon Network (Friday)
  • Generator Rex at 8:00 PM on Cartoon Network (Friday)
  • Wizards of Waverly Place at 8:00 PM on the Disney Channel (Friday)
  • Fish Hooks at 8:30 PM on the Disney Channel (Friday)
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars at 8:30 PM on Cartoon Network (Friday)
  • Beast Hunter (Swamp Monster of the Congo) at 9:00 PM on NatGeo (Friday)
  • Phineas and Ferb at 9:00 PM on the Disney Channel (Friday)
  • Fringe at 9:00 PM on Fox (Friday)
  • Merlin at 10:00 PM on Syfy (Friday)
  • Battle of Los Angeles (this is a TV movie, but sounds very similar to the theatrical release with a similar name…this one stars Kel Mitchell of Kenan and Kel and Nia Peeples) at 9:00 PM on Syfy (Saturday)
  • Being Human (the original British show) at 9:00 PM on BBC America (Saturday)
  • The Amazing Race at 8:00 PM on CBS (Sunday)
  • The Simpsons at 8:00 PM on Fox (Sunday)
  • Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2 (TV sequel to the theatrical movie) at 9:00 PM on ABC Family (Sunday)

Cons

Cons are short for “conventions”, when people who rarely leave the house get together…just kidding, of course, they can be great fun.  For details, I recommend Fanboy’s Convention List.

  • CoastCon, Sci-fi and Gaming (guests include Gary Graham and Mike Resnick), Biloxi, Mississsippi
  • Creation’s Twilight Con, Nashville, Tennessee
  • Creation’s Star Trek Con (guests include Leonard Nimoy, Nichelle Nichols, Connor Trineer, Grace Lee Whitney, Rene Auberjonois, more), San Francisco, California
  • Monster-Mania, (guests include Nick Castle, Ace Frehley, Dina Meyer, Fred Williamson, David Hedison, Lee Meriwether, Robert Colbert, Roy Thinnes, more)

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog.

BOPMadness 2011 Results

March 6, 2011

BOPMadness 2011 Results

Interesting!  Just like last year, we got five out of the Big Six correct.   This year, we went with Geoffrey Rush as Supporting Actor for The King’s Speech…but just barely.  We got an 85% score on The Big Six…not bad.

On The Incredibly Difficult Maven Section, we got the following correct:

  • Adapted Screenplay: The Social Network 
  • Original Screenplay: The King’s Speech
  • Sound Mixing (we get half on that…Inception, the winner, and The King’s Speech were in a tie in our polling)
  • Sound Editing: Inception
  • Song: Toy Story 3 (We Belong Together)
  • Costume (half: we had Alice in Wonderland, the winner, tied with The King’s Speech)
  • Makeup: (half…we had The Way Back tied with The Wolfman, which won)
  • Live Action Short (one third…we had Na Wewe and Wish 143 tied with God of Love, the winner)
  • Animated Feature: Toy Story 3

We missed on:

  • Foreign Language Film (we picked Incendies instead of In a Better World…we were really wrong on that one)
  • Art Direction (we picked The King’s Speech over Alice in Wonderland)
  • Cinematography (we picked Black Swan over Inception)
  • Score (we picked The King’s Speech over The Social Network)
  • Documentary Feature (we picked Restrepo over Inside Job)
  • Documentary Short (we picked The Warriors of Quigang over Strangers No More)
  • Editing (we picked The King’s Speech over The Social Network)
  • Animated Short (we picked The Gruffalo over The Lost Thing)
  • Visual Effects (we had a tie between Alice and Harry Potter over Inception…just barely)

We got 85% on the Big Six, 70% on The Incredibly Difficult Maven Section, and 75% overall…not too bad.

Thanks to everyone who played!

As for me personally: I missed two out of The Big Six, and that’s somewhat unusual for me.  The ones that won were my second choices, so I end up with 33 out of a possible 35: 94%.

I got a 62 on The Incredibly Difficult Maven Section.  There were some I got really wrong.  That’s out of 85: 73%.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog

Rango, The Adjustment Bureau, and Beastly

March 4, 2011

Rango, The Adjustment Bureau, and Beastly

I normally predict movie grosses in my The Week Ahead post

I didn’t do it this week (I had a bit of a cold), so I thought I’d take a separate post for it.

First, this is the biggest geek movie weekend of the year so far…and that makes it a tougher call.  It’s quite a range: Rango should appeal kids and parents, The Adjustment Bureau is for adults, and Beastly is for tweens and young teens.  It may make for the first really successful weekend of the year, and you’ll hear about that.

Rango

See what people think at MRQE.com

Gore Verbinski and Johnny Depp have combined for box office dynamite.  The three Pirates movies are huuuuuge.  Verbinski also directed The Weather Man (with Nic Cage), The Ring, The Mexican, and Mousehunt.  That’s a couple of sixty millioners, a blockbuster 100 plus…and a Nic Cage movie.  😉  That’s a very solid record.  Depp, of course, is a great box office draw…laugh at The Tourist, if you want, but it has dogroed (domestic grossed) more than $60 mill.  Will that translate to a cartoon starring non-cute reptiles, amphibians, and rodents?  I think so.  Johnny Depp has gotten his face out there in connection with this movie.  One of last year’s top ten movies, How to Train Your Dragon, was a March Animation release…with scaly stars.  I’m not going to say it’s going to be that kind of blockbuster.  The real question there is the emotional connection with the audience.  Toy Story 3, Dragon, Despicable Me…they all have a lot of heart.  Still, I’m going to put this between 1 and 200 mill dogro.  It does face another animated challenger, Mars Needs Moms on March 11th…but I don’t think that’s going to head this picture off at the pass, pardnuh. 

The Adjustment Bureau

See what people think at MRQE.com

If everybody who watches Fringe goes to see this, it will be a huge hit…but I don’t think that’s happening.  I’m concerned about this one.  Matt Damon has absolutely had huge hits (he was in True Grit last year…but also Hereafter and Green Zone), but I’m worried about the accessibility of the story.  Philip K. Dick wrote the source story, and he’s not always the easier person with whom to connect (nor would he want to be).  The marketing has been unfocused: is it a love story, an action movie, or The Twilight Zone?  I think this is going to have some real fans, but be more of a secondary market (streaming video, DVD) kind of movie.  I’m not sure it will even get to $40m, and Rango may trounce it this weekend.  I’m going to go with between $40 and $79.

Beastly

See what people think at MRQE.com

I think this one may be in trouble, despite the presence of Neil Patrick Harris.  Again, there will be people for who it is their “favoritest movie ever”, but I don’t think it is going to draw most adults.  I think you are mostly looking at a tween female audience.  While that demo can help a movie to big success (see Twilight), it takes both a huge commitment from that group and others to really drive a picture.  I overestimated that audience with I Am Number Four…which also starred Alex Pettyfer.  That movie has dogroed $22m so far, and seems like much more of a big screen experience (more special effectsy and big movements on the screen).  I think this one is better suited to watching at home.  Arguably, it loses some of its audience to Red Riding Hood in its second week  Sorry, NPH, but I’m afraid I’m going with this one not dogroing $40m. 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog.

Britain releases a gig of UFO files

March 3, 2011

Britain releases a gig of UFO files

The British government has made more than a gig (that’s a lot) of UFO files, currently available for free download at

UFOs.NationalArchives.gov.uk 

In addition to the files themselves, there are additional documents to help you navigate them.

I may be listening to some of these read to me by my Kindle in the car.   🙂

I’m sure there are some interesting things in these documents…not “disclosure” but the reports, investigations, and debates may be fascinating.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog.


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