Archive for April, 2012

“Failure is what keeps…”

April 24, 2012

“Failure is what keeps us geniuses from becoming too vain.”
–Dr. Paul Holliston (played by Rock Hudson)
Embryo
screenplay by Anita Doohan, Jack W. Thomas

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.

My take on…the Farrelly Brothers’ Three Stooges

April 23, 2012

My take on…the Farrelly Brothers’ Three Stooges

The Three Stooges

I tried to set my expectations low enough, I really did.

Let’s get this out of the way first: I am a Three Stooges fan.

I would guess I’ve seen every one of the shorts more than once, and the features (yes, they made features).

I would have thought I might be the target audience for this movie, or at least one of them.

Let me say something good first: Sean Hayes was great as Larry! I’d been worried about the casting of Larry since the beginning: that’s the most difficult part.

When it looked like it would be Sean Penn, I thought that was an interesting choice. I wouldn’t have thought of Sean Hayes, but clearly, the star (who has previously played Jerry Lewis) worked hard on this and hit the porcupine on the head, so to speak.

The other two Stooges were reasonably evocative of the originals: Will Sasso as Curly and Chris Diamantopoulos as Moe.

In fact, the whole movie was clearly made by fans of the originals. We had a little singing (Stooge fans sing along: “Curly’s a dope!”), a lot of slapstick, and even updated punning wordplay that fit in with the original style…a pun about poodles comes to mind in particular.

The problem was, for me, the movie just wasn’t funny.

I think the issue was that the Farrellys were trying to make the Stooges the undeniable stars…and that they were trying to put them into our world.

They cast some hilarious people, but then seemed to tell them to largely play it straight. Jane Lynch’s Mother Superior was actually beatific. Sofia Vergara could have been really vampy, but didn’t play it that way.

Then there were non-comedians: what was Jennifer Hudson doing there? If she wanted to stretch and show a flair for comedy…um, it was played very seriously.

Having the Stooges interact with real (or at least, reality) people was a mistake. Having a murder for hire plot was simply over the line.

The Stooges didn’t exist in our world in the shorts. The other characters were extreme, too. Emil Sitka was great at extreme responses, and the rich folks were clearly parodies.

Yes, I’d say that was the biggest problem..they just didn’t go for the fun. The Stooges feel out of place if you could bump into them at Starbucks or see them interviewed on Entertainment Tonight.

Now, I do need to say: there were people laughing in the audience. They were enjoying the slapstick. My guess is that they generally weren’t fans of the Stooges. Before we assume that’s the only reason I wasn’t bowl(cut)ed over, I should mention that my Significant Other is nothing close to a Stooge fan…and didn’t like it either.

I do commend the Farrellys (and co-screenwriter Mike Cerrone) for wanting to be respectful to the original…I just wished they’d also relaxed and cut loose with the other characters more.

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

Jonathan Frid reported dead

April 19, 2012

Jonathan Frid reported dead

Barnabas Collins was terrifying to viewers of the original Dark Shadows series not merely because of what he was, but because of what he did, felt, and thought.

We could be scared just watching him look out of a window.

It wasn’t the rare fangs or the admittedly ludicrous-looking bat that appeared from time to time.

It was the subtlety of classically-trained Jonathan Frid’s performance.

We knew the menace that tight-lipped smile might mean…the hypocrisy in offers to help.

Frid’s career was largely on the stage, outside of more than five hundred Dark Shadows episodes.

For some time, I’ve been going back through the Dark Shadows episodes on Netflix. Putting aside the production values and the obvious speed of making the episodes, I can still feel uneasy with Barnabas’ ruthlessness and calculating nature. There is no security in taking his side…and less in opposing him.

Frid continued to support the fan community, appearing at conventions in the last years of his life. He returned to the part of Barnabas in an audio only performance that included other original DS actors

Dark Shadows: The Night Whispers

Jonathan Frid also cameos in the Tim Burton Dark Shadows movie opening in less than a month.

Good-bye, Jonathan Frid…for geeks everywhere, you are truly deathless.

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

Dick Clark reported dead

April 19, 2012

Dick Clark reported dead

Some people are famous because of who they are.

That doesn’t mean they don’t work hard at entertaining us. Dick Clark had literally hundreds of credits, but we loved “the world’s oldest teenager” just for being Dick Clark.

Of course, there was American Bandstand, and Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve. I played along with Pyramid and loved TV’s Bloopers & Practical Jokes.

Clark did have some geek credits…maybe more than you think.

Batman and Robin encountered Clark in one of the famous window cameos in the Adam West series.

He did a voice role as himself on 1994’s Fantastic Four series. He also appeared as himself on Pinky & the Brain, Futurama, the X-Files, the Simpsons, and Sabrina, the Teenage Witch. He appeared in the George Clooney directed adaptation of George Barris’ really strange book Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (starring Sam Rockwell).

He had acting roles in Angry Beavers (voice), Honey West, and Spy Kids (not to mention Wild in the Streets).

Among the works he brought us as a producer were:

  • Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins (and a pilot for a TV series)
  • The Werewolf of Woodstock (I remember it well)
  • The Dark (Cathy Lee Crosby and William Devane…and an alien!)
  • The Man in the Santa Claus Suit (with Fred Astaire)
  • The Demon Murder Case (with Andy Griffith, Cloris Leachman, Eddie Albert, and one degree of Kevin Bacon)
  • The Power (evil Aztec doll)
  • Mutant (AKA Night Shadows) (Wings Hauser, Bo Hopkins, Lee Montgomery)
  • Death Dreams (Marg Helgenberger, Christopher Reeve)
  • Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction (Jonathan Frakes)
  • The Weird Al Show
Good-bye, Dick Clark…America salutes you (back).

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

All five Star Trek captains on stage at one con…for the first time

April 17, 2012

All five Star Trek captains on stage at one con…for the first time

Destination Star Trek London:

http://www.startreklondon.com/

is going to have all five starring Star Trek captains from the TV series together on the same stage:

  • William Shatner (James T. Kirk) from the original series and the animated series
  • Patrick Stewart (Jean-Luc Picard) from Star Trek: The Next Generation
  • Avery Brooks (Benjamin Sisko) from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
  • Kate Mulgrew (Kathryn Janeway) from Star Trek: Voyager
  • Scott Bakula (Jonathan Archer) from Star Trek: Enterprise

I believe this is the first time this has happened…and honestly, it may get more difficult to achieve over time.

The convention is 19 October to 21 October this year, but I wouldn’t wait to book tickets (general tickets go on sale 30 April). Looking for an ultimate geek gift? I’d think about this…it should feel futuristic and nostalgic at the same time. 🙂

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

Stooges, Lockout, in the Woods…a geeky trifecta movie weekend!

April 14, 2012

Stooges, Lockout, in the Woods…a geeky trifecta movie weekend!

When there is a superbig movie opening, everybody else gets out of the way. They might counter-program a small market movie, but you don’t want your potential $100m dogro (domestic gross) movie to open against another potential $100m movie.  A $40m movie may be able to recover from a slow opening, but that’s a lot harder for a blockbuster.

That’s why its interesting to me that we have three potentially buzzy geeky movies opening this weekend.

The highest profile movie of the three is the Farrelly Brothers’ The Three Stooges. The biggest question for me in terms of box office is whether audiences perceive it as an R-rated Farrelly Brothers comedy, or as a family movie like the Chipmunks. It is rated PG, and if the latter is the case, people may be surprised by how long it plays…children’s movies tend to have better legs. I have mixed feelings about going out to see it…as a big Stooges fan, I’m afraid of being disappointed by it.

The Geek Core is up for The Cabin in the Woods, co-written by Joss Whedon. This movie isn’t looking to appeal to everybody, and I think it’s likely to have a cult following (well, or at least to be absorbed into the cult of Whedon), but I don’t know how well it’s really going to play to the masses.

Likely to get lost in the weekend, but to have a decent secondary market life (and will play well overseas) is Lockout. This sounds of sort of like Escape from New York…in spaaaaaaaaaace! 😉 Guy Pearce goes in to rescue Maggie Grace, in  exchange for redemption…but we don’t have to call him Snake. 😉

My guess for the winner for weekend? The Hunger Games. 🙂 That should lead to headlines like, “Katniss Gives Curly a Poke in the Eye” and “Tributes Trump Stooges”.  For the newbies, I think it’s Stooges, then Cabin, then Lockout…although I could see Cabin surprising. The next weekend, though, I’d expect the Stooges to hold more of the audience.

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

My take on…Aliens in America by William J. Birnes

April 8, 2012

My take on…Aliens in America by William J. Birnes

Aliens in America: A UFO Hunter’s Guide to Extraterrestrial Hotpspots Across the U.S.
A UFO Hunter’s Guide to Extraterrestrial Hotspots Across the U.S.
by William J. Birnes
published by Adams Media
original publication: 2010
size: 712KB (256 pages)
categories: nonfiction; UFOs
lending: enabled
simultaneous device licenses: 6
part of the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library: yes
text-to-speech: yes

“From Roswell, New Mexico, to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, the United States is dotted with UFO hotspots dating back to the 1940s.”
–William J. Birnes
writing in Aliens in America

Bill Birnes is the right person to take you on a guided tour of America’s UFO sight-seeing destinations. As the publisher of UFO Magazine and the host of The History Channel’s UFO Hunters, this is no armchair theorist. Birnes has been there and done that: the field investigations, the recreations, and interviewing witnesses.

In a way different from other similar field guides, Birnes gives you practical travel advice: hotels, restaurants, and local attractions.

The main focus for most people reading the book will be the UFO reports.

Birnes covers

  • Portsmouth, New Hampshire (the Betty and Barney Hill case)
  • Pine Bush, New York
  • Hudson Valley, New York
  • Bucks County, Pennsylvania (and Mercer and Hunterdon Counties, New Jersey)
  • Kecksburg, Pennsylvania
  • High Bridge, New Jersey
  • Washington, DC
  • Braxton County, West Virginia (the Flatwoods Monster)
  • Gulf Breeze, Florida
  • Stephenville Texas
  • Rachel, Nevada (Area 51)
  • Pascagoula, Mississippi
  • Kokomo, Indiana
  • Roswell, New Mexico
  • Dayton, Ohio (Wright Field)
  • Phoenix, Arizona
  • Landers, California (the Integratron)
  • Maury Island, Washington
  • McMinnville, Oregon
  • Holland, Michigan

If you are a UFO buff, you probably already know why all of these were chosen. If you aren’t, Birnes gives you a nice summary of the incident(s) that put them on the map.

For the most part, Birnes doesn’t do a lot of speculating. If you were a family with an interested child and you happened to be vacationing in one of these areas, you don’t generally have to be worried about the book trying to convert anybody to a point of view.

However, there were a couple of statements that pulled me up a bit short:

“…if it were able to warp time, Die Glocke might have been able to win the war for Germany by traveling backwards in time to alter the timeline itself. It could plant weapons to destroy the enemy even before the war began, restructuring history. Indeed, this Wunderwaffe could win the war even in the final minutes. But all of this might be mere speculation: no one knows for sure what the purpose of the device was.”

“…One of the UFOs brought down by fire from our jets in September 1952, crashed in remote Braxton County. One of the ship’s weapons, a humanoid machine, began a search-and-destroy mission in the area to protect the craft until its navigators could be rescued. That humanoid creature, whether an actual life form or an android, has gone into local legend as the “Flatwoods Monster.””

Even if you’ve read about the Flatwoods Monster before, I’m not sure you thought of it as on a “search-and-destroy mission. If it was, well, it wasn’t very successful, since the most damage it is reported to have done is make people sick. One might think that something that Birnes suggests arrived in a craft superior to human technology that wanted to “destroy” things would be armed with something more effective than pepper spray.

On the other end, I was very surprised to see Birnes refer to John A. Keel’s classic book, The Mothman Prophecies, as a novel. Even though some may have doubted Keel’s sincerity, I’ve always only seen it presented as non-fiction.

I read this book on my Kindle Fire.  In terms of the production value of the book, there were a few minor typos, but not enough to really distract me. Even though apparently converted form a paper copy (the cover image shows tears in it, which I don’t think are there for effect), it has an Active Table of Contents (meaning that you can click on a chapter to jump there), a definite plus. Unfortunately, there appear to be paragraphs that were in some sort of sidebar or call-out which now appear simply in the middle of other text.

For example, the section about the New Jersey Balloon Festival below (which I’ve italicized to identify it) interrupts the narrative:

“Then the boy convulsed and a light started to shine above his head. THE NEW JERSEY BALLOON FESTIVAL Nearby Readington and White House Station, New Jersey, boast the New Jersey Balloon Festival at the Solberg Airport. Every July, families can ride balloons, see an air show, and enjoy outdoor concerts, and participate in fun and games for the kids. The witness described how the light…”

My guess is that the paper version has the Balloon Festival information in a box of some kind, or otherwise separated. It took me a bit of reading to realize that’s what was happening. I think that’s something that could be fixed in subsequent editions. I will try to send my observations to the publisher.

The e-book edition could also have benefited from live hyperlinks to the hotels and other resources mentioned. Again, I presume that’s because it was converted from a paper edition.

Overall, I enjoyed the book and thought it was informative. If you live in one of the above areas, or plan a visit there, I’d recommend it.

Disclosure: while I don’t know Bill Birnes well, we have served on the Board of a non-profit organization together.  The organization is OPUS, and I served as the Education Director. It was my goal there for the group to present non-advocatory (neither for nor against)  information about the controversial subjects which concern it.

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

Win a $1000 ThinkGeek shopping spree…and a ST:TNG tricorder

April 2, 2012

Win a $1000 ThinkGeek shopping spree…and a ST:TNG tricorder

ThinkGeek.com is one of the most unique and fun shopping sites on the web. Not only do they carry a wide arrange of geek-pleasing products (and non-geeks may find something to like as well), they also create their own. I own their personal sound effects t-shirt, for example.

Well, they are giving away a $1,000 shopping spree and an original tricorder from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Oh, and second place gets a 16GB Samsung Note 4G cellphone!

Here’s the kicker: you need to enter by 11:59 PM on Monday, April 2, 2012. You can enter on the

official contest page

If you win, let me know. 🙂

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

The Hunger Games sued by descendants of Roman consul

April 1, 2012

The Hunger Games sued by descendants of Roman consul

Descendants of the ruling consul of ancient Rome who first offered state-sponsored “barbarian” games in 105 BCE have filed suit against Suzanne Collins, author of the popular Hunger Games books, and Lionsgate, the studio behind the successful movie adaptation.

The suit alleges that the work, which features a televised fight to the death by “tributes” from outer Districts, infringes on their intellectual property.

The group, Vere Stulte, seeks an injunction against the movie opening on May 1st in Italy and unspecified damages.

“Panem is an obvious reference to  panem et circensesthe phrase that Juvenal used to describe the games designed by our ancestors,” said the group’s attorney, citing the name of the capitol city in both the movie and the books.

The strategy has been successful before, when this group filed a similar claim against Roger Corman’s Death Race 2000 when that film opened in Italy (where the group claims a copyright in perpetuity under grant of the Roman emperor) in 1975.

Lionsgate and Collins declined to comment for this article. Director and co-screenwriter Gary Ross said…

April Fool!

😉

Just kidding…happy April Fools’ Day!

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


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