Archive for August, 2011

“I have noted that the healthy release…”

August 24, 2011

“…I have noted that the healthy release of emotion is frequently very unhealthy for those closest to you.”
–Spock (played by Leonard Nimoy)
Plato’s Stephchildren
episode of the original Star Trek
screenplay by Meyer Dolinsky

I’ve been working, from time to time, on a book of quotations for many years.  I call it, “The Mind Boggles”, from one of my favorite quotations.  I do source quotations a bit differently from a lot of people.  In the case of a work of a fiction, I consider that the character said the line…not the author.  As a bit of an author myself (in a minor way), I can tell you…my characters definitely say things that I would never say.  These are all quotations that I’ve collected myself: I’ve read the book, seen the TV episode, and so on.

Hope you enjoy them!

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

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My take on…Ninja Warrior

August 23, 2011

My take on…Ninja Warrior

I’ve been watching Ninja Warrior (or Sasuke, as it’s called in Japan…well, at least that’s the English version of the Japanese name…pronounced roughly “Sauce-Kay”, as opposed to a Spanish-ised “Sah-SOOH-kee”) for several seasons now on G4.

It’s basically a really hard obstacle course…almost impossibly hard.

Tonight, NBC is going to show one episode of “American Ninja Warrior”. That’s a reality show that qualifies Americans to go compete on the Japanese course.

However, the American version and the Japanese version, in my opinion, really show some differences in cultural tastes.

In the Japanese version, almost nobody wins (defeats the entire course). I’m not really exaggerating…three people have done it out of thousands and over more than a decade.

In the American version, somebody got kicked off every week trying to make the American team.

In other words, there were winners and losers.

That’s sort of my philosophical question: would Americans watch a competition show with no winners and losers?

What if no one became America’s Next Top Model? Nobody from the Glee Project made it to the show? Nobody won the Super Bowl?

Of course, there is something very similar to an American version of Ninja Warrior: Wipeout. That’s the two I’d compare. Ninja Warrior has a funny voiceover…but you’ll notice, they don’t make fun of the contestants the same way. There’s a winner every week on Wipeout. Ninja Warrior mixes (in the initial phases) celebrities, and sincere people who are going to be eliminated on the first obstacle with world-class athletes, including Olympic gymnasts, like the Hamm brothers.

I’ll be interested to see the ratings on the NBC showing. I’ve enjoyed it on G4…and I’m not really a sports person. It’s about the striving: every victory is a victory, and every failure is an attempt. I want somebody to go all the way, but I’m okay when they don’t. for the elite, it’s amazing stuff to watch: like parkour or Bruce Lee. However, they probably still aren’t going to win…and that’s okay with me.

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

Foreign Policy Magazine: “Post-Conflict Potter”

August 18, 2011

Foreign Policy Magazine: “Post-Conflict Potter”

When fantasies take place in the real world, they often ignore the likely consequences of the dramatic wonders they portray.

That wasn’t true in Son of Kong, the sequel to King Kong. It picks up weeks after the events in the iconic first movie…with the man who brought Kong to New York subject to crushing lawsuits.

Law and the Multiverse is a great blog that has lawyers looking at the legal issue of what superheroes and supervillains do, subjecting them to real interpretations and citing the law to back up their opinions. (Caution: here be spoilers)

What about Harry Potter?

After all, a lot of the mayhem takes place in the Muggle world…was anybody ever in danger not of going to Azkaban, but under the control of Her Majesty’s Prison Service?

Now, Foreign Policy Magazine approaches the post-conflict world of Harry Potter:

Foreign Policy Magazine: Post-Conflict Potter

The four-decade old magazine presents this piece as thought they are part of the wizarding world. They use it to talk about some real world issues. I recommend you read it…I think it’s going to be a remembered article for some time.

I don’t want to take much away from it. I will say that the point about Hogwarts and the rest of the magical world needing media diversification made a lot of sense. 🙂

They do get a little too political for my tastes, naming actual politicians. I think that detracts from what would otherwise be a thoughtful, context-neutral exploration.

Regardless, I found it well worth reading, and I think many (but not all) of you will as well.

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

UCSD: “Spoiler Alert: Stories Are Not Spoiled by ‘Spoilers'”

August 14, 2011

UCSD: “Spoiler Alert: Stories Are Not Spoiled by ‘Spoilers'”

If you want to skip to the end of this article to see how it turns out, you’ll like it better, according to Nicholas Christenfeld and Jonathan Leavitt of  UC San Diego’s psychology department.

They’ve done a study that suggests that when people know the surprises in a story before experiencing the story, they have a higher level of enjoyment.

UCSD News article

I’m a big fan of science, but I just can’t buy this one, at least for me.

My favorite thing in entertainment is to be surprised. It’s hard to do: my mind keeps running through all the possibilities, even though I don’t want to do that. There is a very good chance I’ve “seen” the end of the movie I’m watching before it gets there. That doesn’t mean I’ve figured it out intellectually and concluded that there is only one possible conclusion. That does happen sometimes: I knew the ending of The Sixth Sense right away, for example. Generally, though, I’ve imagined lots of possibilities, and one of them is the right one.

I do what I reasonably can to avoid spoilers. My emotional belief is that I won’t enjoy a movie/book/TV show as much if I know what is going to happen before the appropriate moment of discovery.

I haven’t tracked that scientifically…I’m quite sure it’s true in terms of reality TV shows. If I know who is “voted off”, I don’t enjoy the episode anywhere near as much.

This study indicates the opposite should be true.

They had people read stories (not ones designed for the study…famous stories) and for some people they spoiled things ahead of time, for others they didn’t. They also inserted the spoiler into the story for another test.

The group that had the story spoiled first liked it better than the group that didn’t.

I may want to read that study (the full version isn’t available yet). I want to see if, as I suspect, there might have been a minority of participants for whom having the story spoiled was bad….but that the statistics said the group liked spoiling better.

That makes some sense to me. I know some people find it comfortable to be able to predict what will happen next.

The article makes that reasonable point about being able to see favorite movies over and over. However, when I see a movie again that surprised me, i enjoy that scene…but in a very different way.

I know I’m probably irrationally upset about people and sources who spoil. I stopped buying the San Francisco Examiner forever when they spoiled something above the fold (where you couldn’t avoid it when it was in a news rack…these were the old days, when we had newspapers). 😉

I’ve only “ignored” one person ever in an online forum (which blocks me from seeing that person’s posts) after a deliberate spoiling. I liked the writer’s posts before that…but I didn’t want to take the chance. One of my favorite magazines just had an article where someone cavalierly spoiled a show which I haven’t seen yet. I won’t read articles by that writer again. Talk of the Nation on NPR just spoiled a movie…I knew that spoiler, but I won’t listen to that show again.

I’m honestly a bit afraid to write this, that someone will spoil things on purpose for me, just because I’ve pointed this out.  That’s probably paranoid, though…at least, that’s my hope.

For me, deliberately spoiling something feels like you are acting superior. You have the experience already: you were smarter, faster, richer (in the case of, say, a premium TV channel), and that gives you the right to take away the experience of discovery from someone who wasn’t as good as you…wasn’t up to your level.

I know that’s not intentional, but that’s how it feels to me.

Now, I love literary (or cinematic) analysis. However, that should be clearly identified as what it is, so someone can avoid it if they want.

There is no statute of limitations on spoilering, for me. A ten-year old reading The Wizard of Oz for the first time in 2011 deserves the same experience as a ten-year reading it in 1900 had.

Again, that’s probably just me, though. It bucks the science…although the study will need to be replicated, of course.

So, enjoy reading the end of the mystery first…I’m just going to ask you not to tell me whodunnit. 🙂

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

Chronology of the Planet of the Apes

August 9, 2011

Chronology of the Planet of the Apes

This weekend, I saw Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

My involvement with the franchise goes back considerably before that, though. I thought it might be interesting to show some of the chronology*, which began close to fifty years ago.

1963: La Planète des Singes by Pierre Boulle is first published in French in Paris by Juillard. There are significant differences between this and the first movie, but significant elements are preserved (including some character names)

June 1963: An American hardback is published by Vanguard Press, with a translation by Xan Fielding. This version is entitled Planet of the Apes

As early as 1963, Rod Serling begins adapting the book as a screenplay

January 1964: A British hardback (using Fielding’s translation) is published under the title Monkey Planet by Secker & Warburg. Apparently, the word “singes” in French is like “non-human primate” in English…it doesn’t specify apes or monkeys

November 1964: Signet publishes a US paperback copy for fifty cents

1965: Serling submits his script. It will be two years before the funding is raised. Michael Wilson, another screenwriter, also works on the script

1966: Penguin publishes a paperback version (still called Monkey Planet) in England

Up until this point, it doesn’t seem to have made a mainstream impact in the US.  There were a couple of reviews in the 1960s before the movie.

May 1967: Filming begins

February 8, 1968: The movie debuts in New York

April 3, 1968: The movie opens wide in the US. It becomes the third biggest US grossing movie of the year, behind 2001: A Space Odyssey and Romeo and Juliet

1969: John Chambers receives an honorary Oscar for his make-up work on the Planet of the Apes movie

1970: Gold Key releases a one-shot comic book of Beneath the Planet of the Apes

May 26, 1970: The second movie, Beneath the Planet of the Apes, opens wide in the US. It isn’t anywhere near as successful as the first movie in the US, but that doesn’t stop the sequels

July 1970: a novelization of Beneath the Planet of the Apes by Michael Avallone is released

May 21, 1971: Escape from the Planet of the Apes is released, with Roddy McDowell returning to the series

June 30, 1972: Conquest of the Planet of the Apes is released

June 15, 1973: Battle for the Planet of the Apes, the last of the original series is released in the US. It’s profitable, since it reportedly cost under $2 million to produce (it made about $9 million in the USA…at the time, that’s a good showing)

1973: The “Go Ape” movie marathons show all five movies in movie theatres

1974: Milton Bradley introduces a Planet of the Apes board game

January 1974: A novelization of Escape from the Planet of the Apes by well-known science fiction author Jerry Pournelle is released in paperback by Award

February 1974: A novelization of Conquest of the Planet of the Apes by John Jakes (North and South) is released in paperback by Award

Summer 1974: Mego introduces its line of Planet of the Apes toys

August 1974: Marvel begins a comic book series with original stories…it runs 29 issues, ending in February 1977

September 13, 1974: The live-action TV series, called just Planet of the Apes, debuts. It will last until December of 1974, with some episodes re-cut into TV movies

September 6, 1975: The animated series debuts…it will last until November 29, 1975

October 1975: Marvel begins a comic book adaptation of the first two  movies.  It runs for 11 issues, ending in December 1976′

September 6, 1998: American Movie Classics celebrates the 30th anniversary of the first movie, and shows a new documentary, Behind the Planet of the Apes

July 27, 2001: The Tim Burton version is released in the USA: it grosses over $180 million in that country, and over $360 million worldwide, on a budget of about $100 million. Rick Baker leads the make-up team…and doesn’t get an Oscar nomination

September 19, 2001: Ubi Soft introduces a Planet of the Apes videogame for PC

November 21, 2001: Ubi Soft introduces a Planet of the Apes videogame for GameBoy

September 2001: Dark Horse comics begins a new comic book series

August 5, 2011: Rise of the Planet of the Apes opens in the US, using motion capture rather than makeup. It is the number one movie of the weekend and gets good reviews

There you go! I couldn’t find a year that Don Post introduced their Planet of the Apes masks (I had one), but it was in the 1970s. I was a bit surprised not to find an official Planet of the Apes role-playing game…that seems like a natural, with different character types and abilities. I found quite a bit of discussion of the idea, though. I haven’t listed many reprints of the novel: you can get more detailed information in the links below. Do you have a nostalgic memory of PotA? Feel free to let me know.

References

RodSerling.com

Internet Speculative Fiction Database (ISFDB) on PotA

http://planetoftheapes.wikia.com/wiki/La_Plan%C3%A8te_des_singes

Big Comic Book Database listing for PotA

Hunter’s Planet of the Apes Archives

Planet of the Apes Wiki at Wikia

The 6 Best (and 6 Most Ridiculous) Pieces of Planet of the Apes Merchandise

PotA Wikia on Ubi Soft PC game

Board Game Geek

Mego Museum

Planet of the Apes Wikia on the Ubi Soft GameBoy game

 

* Note: for a chronology of the events within the Planet of the Apes stories (caution: here be spoilers!), see http://pota.goatley.com/prophecy/timeline.htm

 

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

My take on Rise of the Planet of the Apes

August 7, 2011

My take on Rise of the Planet of the Apes

My Significant Other (SO)  and I saw Rise of the Planet of the Apes today.

We approach this very differently.

I’m a fan of the original movies. How much of a fan? I once saw all five movies in a theatre…in one day…in an ape suit. I’ve watched the live-action TV series, and the animated TV series. I even started to write an episode for the live-action series.

My SO? Never seen one of the movies…not even the first one.

Here’s the good thing about the new movie, Rise of the Planet of the Apes: we both liked it. 🙂

If you are a fan like I am, you’ll notice a lot of nods to the old movies…but amazingly, they didn’t stand out to my SO. When someone says a classic line (in a possibly different context), it still belongs in the scene.

I’m very careful about spoilers, but I can mention a thing or two that doesn’t hurt. For example, an orangutan is called Maurice. That’s a reference to Maurice Evans, who played Dr. Zaius (an orangutan) in the original movie. Another ape is named “Cornelia”, but someone first calls her “Cornelius”…a reference to the character played by Roddy McDowell in the first movie (and he returned to the role later).

So, you don’t have to be a fan or a non-fan to enjoy Rise of the Planet o the Apes.

The acting is solid. I didn’t think James Franco (who I often think is amazing) brought anything special to this. Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter movies) really impressed me. His American accent was impeccable,  and my SO didn’t even recognize him. David Hewlett from Stargate SG-1 has a nice character part, and Brian Cox brings his typical strength.

Andy Serkis (Gollum in the Lord of the Ring movies) has a great performance as Caesar, who is arguably the main character. We do see his performance…there is a lot of misunderstanding about motion capture. I’ve heard Andy Serkis interviewed on NPR, and the interviewer asked Serkis about motion capture performances being nominated for Oscars. His response was good, and reasonable. The director cuts the movie with the actor’s performance: just like the director would do with any performance. The effects that transform the character are added afterwards.

We never see an actor’s performance the way it was done…there is always editing, for example. Why should motion capture be any different?

The movie was moving and exciting. It was the best geeky movie we’ve seen this summer: better than Thor, Pirates, Green Lantern, and Captain America. My SO said Bridesmaids is still up there. 🙂

I think this is going to be a big weekend. RotPotA (great initialism!) should do quite well, The Change-Up will do okay, Harry Potter, Smurfs, and Captain America will keep doing business.

Have you seen Rise? Without spoilers, what did you think?

SPOILER ALERT

I did want to mention that this movie, while outside of the storyline of the original movies, has a reasonable way for the apes to have become more intelligent. That was always a weakness to me in the first movie…there wasn’t enough time for that type of evolution. In this movie, it’s due to human experimentation, and that makes more sense. In a significant plot point, one o the experimental chimps is pregnant…and the staff doesn’t know. That seems unlikely to me, although possible. One would also assume the ape would have been necropsied…and the recent delivery would have been apparent then, if not recognized for its significance. Not a big deal, though.

Some references to the original movies:

  • Caesar is the self-chosen name of the chimp leader of the rebellion in the third, fourth, and fifth movies
  • In Rise, we hear news stories about the loss of the Icarus probe. While that isn’t the official name in the first movie, it’s become an accepted reference to the space craft that brings Charlton Heston’s character to the Planet of the Apes
  • Tom Felton’s character says the classic lines, “Take your hands off me, you damned dirty ape” and “It’s a madhouse!”
  • As mentioned above, Maurice is used as the name of an orangutan, in reference to Maurice Evans. The orangutan signs that it is from a circus: a circus is key in the original chronology
  • The first scene in Rise is similar to a scene in the original movie…with the roles of apes and humans reversed
  • The use of firehoses and a “cattle-prod” like device occur in both the original movies and Rise
  • A gorilla wants to be violent towards a human and a chimp disagrees: that matches the original movies, where the gorillas were warriors, the chimps were scientists, and the orangutans were administrators
  • Caesar’s mother in Rise is called “Bright Eyes”…as was Charlton Heston’s character in the original movie
  • The action takes place in the San Francisco Bay Area in Rise…which is also the case in the last of the original Planet of the Apes movies
END SPOILER
I’m sure there were other references as well. Oh, I do remember an ape raising a weapon in defiance in this movie, and how it reminded me of something in the first movies.
All in all, I think it is worth seeing, and may spawn a sequel (if not four). I suspect it will do pretty well, certainly breaking 100 million (I’d think 150 is a comfortable guess, and 200 is possible).
For more information on the original Planet of the Apes (including the movies, TV series, books, and more), see my later post, Chronology of the Planet of the Apes

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


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