Archive for October, 2012

“If my behavior seems different…”

October 31, 2012

“If my behavior seems different, perhaps it is because it serves a higher purpose than to find acceptance in this dull and useless world.”
Count Dracula (disguised as Belak Gordal) (played by Francis Lederer)
The Return of Dracula
screenplay by Pat Fielder
category:movies
decade:1950s

For more quotations, please see my book, The Mind Boggles: A Unique Book of Quotations.

If you are interested purchasing the original sources for the quotations, we have The Mind Boggles Shopping Guide.

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

George Lucas sells Star Wars to Disney for over $4B…that’s a lot of t-shirts

October 31, 2012

George Lucas sells Star Wars to Disney for over $4B…that’s a lot of t-shirts

Following the success of American Graffiti, George Lucas was negotiating the deal on Star Wars. It wasn’t at all clear the movie would be a success. The studio, 20th Century Fox, was legendarily fine with Lucas getting the merchandising rights and other creative control of future related works. As I recall it, Lucas figured that might mean selling silk-screened t-shirts at a convention in a few years.

Needless to say, Star Wars became a huge hit, and the merchandising rights were even more impressive.

In this

YouTube video

George Lucas and Robert Iger (CEO of Disney) explain the deal that Lucas literally signs in the video, selling LucasFilm, ILM, and more to Disney.

Honestly, this makes sense. Lucas gets $4 billion, and the ability to go off and do much less commercial things, like philanthropy and more artsy projects. He’s also been working with Disney for a long time, and honestly, who protects their characters more than Disney?

Disney gets Star Wars, and that’s just the beginning.

They also explain that we’ll get Star Episode VII in 2015 in the theatres. The first movie was episode four, which means this next movie will chronologically come after Return of the Jedi.

There are already tons of Star Wars novels, including many deal with the offspring of characters in the original trilogy. They may or may not go for continuity with these.

Is this a good thing for fans?

My guess is that it will be. Disney’s done okay by Marvel and Pixar (they also own those). ..some might argue that they’ve done at least as well as George Lucas has with his own Star Wars prequel trilogy. Kathleen Kennedy steering Star Wars (she has worked with George Lucas for decades) was part of the deal.

And hey, here’s a chance for a reboot of Howard the Duck 😉

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

Halloween TV 2012…including MYOM

October 28, 2012

Halloween TV 2012…including MYOM

In our third annual Halloween on TV post, we’re going to hit some highlights, and then give you some ideas for MYOM (Make Your Own Marathon…a new acronym for us). While people increasingly watch TV on their own terms, the content produced is still dominated by major studios.

New this year Halloween episodes (times may vary in your area: not all syndicated shows are marked as such)

  • Monster High, 8:00 AM, Sunday
  • Good Luck Charlie, 10:00 AM, Sunday
  • Fashion Police, 12:30 PM, Sunday (Kris Jenner)
  • iCarly, 1:00 PM, Sunday
  • Nadia G’s B*tchin’ Halloween Special, 2:00 PM, Sunday
  • Chopped: A Very Piggy Halloween, 2:00 PM, Sunday
  • The Amazing World of Gumball, 2:15 PM, Sunday
  • Dear Dracula, 2:30 PM, Sunday (voices include Emilio Estevez, Ray Liotta, Marion Ross
  • The Crush with Lee and Tiffany, 4:30 PM, Sunday
  • Mega Dens, Sunday, 5:00 PM (recreating haunted New Orleans)
  • Halloween Crazier, 5:00 PM, Sunday
  • America’s Funniest Home Videos, 7:00 PM, Sunday
  • Halloween Wars, 7:00 PM, Sunday
  • Making Monsters, 7:00 PM, Sunday
  • Halloween Wars, finale of season 2, 9:00 PM, Sunday
  • Sweet Genius, 10:00 PM, Sunday
  • 666 Park Avenue, 10:01 PM, Sunday
  • The Venture Brothers, 11:30 PM, Sunday
  • South Park, 12:00 AM, Monday
  • Access Hollywood Live, 12:00 PM, Monday
  • Attack of the Show, 4:00 PM, Monday
  • Regular Show, 6:00 PM, Monday
  • Access Hollywood, 7:00 PM, Monday
  • Wheel of Fortune, syndicated, Monday
  • Dateline on OWN, 10:00 PM, Monday
  • Today, 7:00 AM, Tuesday
  • Live ! With Kelly and Michael, 9:00 AM, Tuesday
  • The Chew, 12:00 PM, Tuesday
  • Access Hollywood Live, syndicated Tuesday
  • The Doctors, 3:00 PM, Tuesday
  • Steve Harvey, 3:00 PM, Tuesday
  • Austin & Ally, 7:00 PM, Tuesday
  • Wheel of Fortune, syndicated Tuesday
  • tBen & Kate, 8:30 PM, Tuesday
  • New Girl, 9:00 PM, Tuesday
  • Face Off, 9:00 PM, Tuesday (season finale)
  • The Mindy Project, 9:30 PM, Tuesday
  • Don’t Trust the B— in Apartment 23, 9:31 PM, Tuesday
  • Tosh.0, 10:00 PM, Tuesday
  • Ink Master, 10:00 PM, Tuesday
  • The New Normal, 10:31 PM, Tuesday
  • Good Morning America, 7:00 AM, Wednesday
  • Today, 7:00 AM, Wednesday
  • How to Rock, 8:00 AM, Wednesday
  • Live! With Kelly and Michael, 9:00 AM, Wednesday
  • Rachel Ray, 9:00 AM, Wednesday
  • The Wendy Williams Show, 1:00 PM, Wednesday
  • The View, 10:00 AM, Wednesday
  • The Price is Right, 10:00 AM, Wednesday
  • Home & Family, 10:00 AM, Wednesday (includes Elvira)
  • Anderson Live, 11:00 AM, Wednesday (includes Kristin Chenoweth)
  • Access Hollywood Live, syndicated, Wednesday
  • Crash & Bernstein, 12:00 PM, Wednesday
  • Marie, 12:00 PM, Wednesday (includes Jamie Lee Curtis)
  • Halloween Tricked Out, 12:00 PM, Wednesday
  • General Hospital, 1:00 PM, Wednesday
  • The Talk, 1:00 PM, Wednesday
  • Inside Edition, 2:30 PM, Wednesday
  • Steve Harvey, 3:00 PM, Wednesday
  • Untold Stories of the E.R., 3:00 PM, Wednesday
  • Hoops & Yoyo’s Haunted Halloween, 3:00 PM, Wednesday
  • The Ricki Lake Show, 4:00 PM, Wednesday
  • Attack of the Show!, 4:00 PM, Wednesday
  • The Ellen DeGeneres Show, 4:00 PM, Wednesday (includes Jane Lynch)
  • Wheel of Fortune, syndicated, Wednesday
  • Jeff Dunham: Minding the Monsters, 7:59 PM, Wednesday
  • Jessie, 8:30 PM, Wednesday
  • Criminal Minds, 9:00 PM, Wednesday
  • Cajun Pawn Stars, 10:00 PM, Wednesday
  • Key & Peele, 10:30 PM, Wednesday
  • Late Show with David Letterman, 11:35 PM, Wednesday

Rebroadcasts

  • Roseanne: TVLand gives us a mini-marathon of Halloween episodes of Roseanne, starting on Sunday morning
  • The Inside Story: Halloween on Bio, Sunday 10:00 AM (two hours about John Carpenter’s movie)
  • Truth or Scare: The True Story of Halloween, 12:30 PM, Sunday
  • Hocus Pocus, 5:30 PM, Sunday (Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kathy Najimy)
  • Friends, The One with the Halloween Party, 8:30 PM, Sunday
  • The Real Story of Halloween, 11:02 PM, Sunday (History Channel)
  • Hone Improvement, 4:05 AM, Monday
  • Home Improvement, 8:00 AM, Monday
  • 8 Simple Rules, 1:00 PM, Monday
  • Home Improvement, 4:00 AM, Tuesday
  • Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, 7:00 AM, Tuesday (multiple episodes)
  • That ’70s Show, syndicated, Tuesday
  • M*A*S*H, 7:00 PM, Tuesday
  • That ’70s Show, 1:24 AM (TVLand)
  • It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, 8:00 PM, Wednesday

MYOM (Make Your Own Marathon)

In a MYOM, you stream the movies/episodes from an online source or perhaps download them ahead of time. I’m going to make some suggestions for marathons you might want put together.

Classic Halloween: Universal Horror

While arguably starting with the silent 1923 version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame (with Lon Chaney), the Universal Horror cycle was clearly established with the 1931 adaptations of Dracula (with Bela Lugosi), and Frankenstein (with Boris Karloff). Sequels to these would continue into 1948, when Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein put them to rest (although like all good/bad monsters, they would be back).

Here’s a suggested order. I am by no means including all of the movies, but hitting what I consider the highlights. I’m also going to cheat and include one movie from 1954. The odds are good that you’ll see some of these costumes on Halloween:

  • Dracula (1931)
  • Frankenstein (1931)
  • The Mummy (1932)
  • The Invisible Man (1933)
  • Bride of Frankenstein (1935)…don’t miss this one, it’s a great sequel
  • The Wolf Man (1941)
  • Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)
  • Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)

This will take you through a day of watching, and give you the real classics. I jumped ahead for Creature from the Black Lagoon, but I am ending it with Abbott & Costello, so you can have some laughs at the end of the marathon. These are scary, but could be watched by older children.

Supernatural: The Series

Yes, this is a current TV series, but there have been more than 150 episodes. If you start at the beginning, you’ll definitely get some scares: the mythology doesn’t really develop  so much in the series until later. Stick with it, and you may become hooked. I’ve watched it one episode after the other, and I will say you may find it formulaic in the first season. This series can be quite scary (although it’s also funny)…I wouldn’t go below pre-teens.

Hammer Horror

Towards the end of the 1950s, Hammer in England revived the classic horror monsters…but with more sex and violence. That doesn’t mean they aren’t also atmospheric, and perceived as, well, cool.

  • The Curse of Frankenstein (1957): this really started the cycle. It’s in colour, and stars Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee, and was a big hit
  • Horror of Dracula (1958)
  • The Revenge of Frankenstein (1958)
  • The Mummy (1959)
  • The Curse of the Werewolf (1961)
  • The Reptile (1966)
  • Dracula has Risen from the Grave (1968)
  • Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde (1971)
  • Captain Kronos – Vampire Hunter (1974)

Be prepared on these…not for kids. There are so many more options from Hammer, but this is a pretty good sampling.

The Addams Family: The Original Series

Definitely Halloween, certainly okay for kids, well-written….and arguably the most loving parents on TV ever. I’d start right at the beginning, and just keep rolling.

The Uniques

These movies stand-alone, and may be edgy. You won’t forget them…and may wish you could “un-see” them. 🙂 Some are also in the public domain: check Archive.org

  • The Asphyx:.. I’ll start you out with an easy one
  • Spider Baby
  • Night of the Living Dead
  • The Killer Shrews
  • Horror Express
  • Freaks
  • Plan 9 from Outer Space
  • The Island of Lost Souls
  • Fiend without a Face
  • Carnival of Souls

After that list, I hope you can sleep that night!

Wow, I could do this all day. 🙂 I feel bad for not including some things, but feel free to make your own suggestions.

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

Spike TV offers $10 million for proof of Bigfoot

October 25, 2012

Spike TV offers $10 million for proof of Bigfoot

Spike TV announces in this

press release

that they are doing a reality series in which different teams will attempt to prove that Bigfoot exists. If a team succeeds, they will be awarded $10 million (that’s where Lloyd’s of London comes into the deal).

This “largest cash prize in television history” is probably a pretty good bet on Spike’s part. If a team does succeed, you could work a whole more than $10 million out of it.

This is the show website:

http://www.spike.com/shows/bigfoot-bounty/

My impression here is that it may still be possible for you to become involved. They’ve ordered eight episodes (presumably, if the first team succeeds, that one would be broadcast last). 🙂

The show is produced by Charlie Corwin’s Original Media:

http://www.originalmedia.com/television

which has some solid credentials (Miami Ink, Comic Book Men, Swamp People).  I would contact them:

New York
175 Varick Street, 7th Floor
New York, NY 10014
212 683 3086

Los Angeles
933 N. La Brea Ave, Ste 400
Los Angeles, CA 90038
323 850 7809

Jon Kroll of The Amazing Race is also an Executive Producer. You could try contacting him:

jonkroll@popsiclepictures.com

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

My take on…Argo

October 14, 2012

My take on…Argo

Argo is a true story about a false story.

It’s about a little-known historical fact that happened in the midst of some of the most intense media coverage ever.

In 1979, the American embassy in Iran was seized, and the employees were held hostage.

I should say, starting in 1979…they were held for more than a year.

During the incursion, six embassy employees fled, and were protected in hiding at the Canadian ambassador’s house.

That much was broadly known.

What wasn’t declassified until years later was that a CIA “exfiltration” expert took them out of the country to safety.

When you hear “CIA”, you may think sophisticated gadgetry, or slinking from shadow to shadow.

Instead, these highly-sought Americans went to the airport, in plain view, and boarded a commercial flight.

I don’t really consider that a spoiler: I think pretty much everyone who goes to the movie will have heard that much.

It is a testament to Ben Affleck’s skill as a director that, although we know the story, Argo is suspenseful and involving.

In only his third feature as a director, Affleck shows an incredibly deft hand.

All of the elements come together: the pacing; the performances; the costuming; in short, the entire look and feel of the movie.

It is one of the best movies of the year. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was nominated as such at the Oscars.

Interestingly, though, I don’t know that we’ll see many acting nominations out of it. While I thought both John Goodman and Alan Arkin were great, my Significant Other (who also really liked the movie) thought that they were turning in their usual (albeit fine) performances.

I think part of that may be the nature of the movie: there isn’t much flashy going on here, which makes it more realistic, and is a strength.

I did think a stand-out performance was Sheila Vand as Sahar. It was simultaneously simple and complex, and deserves recognition. I suspect, though, the screen time is going to be too short for an Oscar nod.

While this isn’t, by definition, a geeky movie, there were a lot of things of interest to geeks. Not the least was that John Goodman was playing John Chambers, one of the truly influential make-up artists (Planet of the  Apes, Spock’s ears). Chambers was also famously thought by some to have done make-up for the Patterson-Gimlin Bigfoot film (you’ve seen it many times, where “Patty” looks back over her shoulder at the camera), something which Chambers denied.

The cover story involves a Star Wars inspired movie, and you’ll see a fairly impressive toy collection. 🙂

The one nitpick was a scene that took both of us out of the movie. It’s a brief shirtless scene of Ben Affleck. We immediately thought it was Affleck pleasing the fans, and his abs just didn’t seem in character to me. 🙂 Affleck’s character struck me as a regular guy…smart, but normal. Affleck’s washboard looks like a person who works out in the gym a lot. Again, though, that’s a tiny point: it’s certainly possible that the real Tony Mendez was in that sort of shape at that time. 🙂

Overall, it was a great movie, and it was good to see one where the story was front and center, and the execution superior.

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

My new book: The Mind Boggles

October 13, 2012

My new book: The Mind Boggles

As regular readers know, I’ve been featuring quotations in this blog in a category called The Mind Boggles. The intro mentions that I’d been working on a book of quotations from time to time…and that’s been decades.

Well, I’ve finally published it!

The Mind Boggles: A Unique Book of Quotations

It’s available for ninety-nine cents in the Kindle store, and if you are an eligible Prime member with a hardware Kindle, you can borrow it from Amazon’s Kindle Owners’ Lending Library.

I’m also going to give away ten copies to the first people who comment on this post requesting it. Please don’t include your contact information in your comment…I see your e-mail address when you post, and that information is not published. I will not use your e-mail address except to send you the gift copy.

Even if you don’t have a Kindle, you can download a free Kindle reading app to be able to read it.

I think you’ll enjoy it. I’ve collected a couple of hundred quotations from books I’ve read, movies I’ve seen, and so on. I think you’ll find some of them insightful, and they won’t be the usual quotations you see in other books.

I’ve also added a page here with links to the original sources, in case you want to own any yourself:

Shopping Guide for The Mind Boggles

Feel free to let me know what you think about it, and if you’d like a copy, just be one of the first ten to comment and ask. 🙂

Oh, and if you are quoted in the book, I’d love to gift you a copy. 🙂

Update: The Mind Boggles is the number one bestselling book of quotations in the Kindle store! I would have thought that was pretty narrow, but there are 897 titles in that group! Thanks, everybody!

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

On the Robot Beat #2: more human than us, California driving

October 5, 2012

On the Robot Beat #2: more human than us, California driving

robot is something created by humans (directly or indirectly) that performs tasks (autonomously or not) done by humans (or, more broadly, by other animals…a robot dog, for example, would perform work done by living dogs, including providing companionship). 

The word may conjure up an image of a mechanical man, perhaps clunky and made of metal. The way we use the term at The Measured Circle, it would include software performing human tasks, and non-anthropomorphic devices like an answering machine or a calculator.

On the Robot Beat presents news about our creations that are, even in small ways, replacing us.

California takes the next step towards robot cars

“L.A. is a great big freeway
You can watch a robot drive a car”

In an important move, California’s Governor Jerry Brown has signed

Senate Bill 1298

This specifically spells out a process for testing and certifying autonomous vehicles in the State.

While it still requires that a human driver be behind the wheel (or, at least, able to take control quickly), we are moving towards a future of driverless (well, human-driverless) cars.

This has huge potential advantages.

First, there is the obvious plus of being able to do other things while your car drives you to work.

Second, the cars are far better drivers than we are, and that will only increase. With proper avoidance systems, they can drive much closer together and much faster. Cars driving 100 miles an hour in residential areas safely is a possibility. Road fatalities and other accidents could be greatly reduced.

Third, imagine how it would change urban driving if your car could take you to work…and then you could tell it to go home and get you later? San Francisco talks, from time to time, about banning cars downtown. That whole situation changes if you don’t need parking lots near where people work.

Fourth, and this may be the most important, people could have access to cars who don’t have them now. Blind people, children, those with mental challenges, could all be safely driven by cars. As has been suggested by a Google exec, this also could eventually end drunk driving (as long as the impaired person can’t take over the car, of course).

I’ve been on the road with Google cars near where I live…I think we’ll see this as a significant part of our lives within ten years.

More human than humans

How long will it be before AI (Artificial Intelligence) robots are as human as we are?

Too late…they are already more human. 😉

I just have not been able to get non-geeks excited about this, despite bringing it up several times.

The basic idea is that a couple of AI bots participated in a videogame, Unreal Tournament. When a human player encountered another player they thought was human, they tagged it as human.

The two bots got an average humanness score of 52%.

The average actual human got 40%.

This is a fascinating development. AI systems can learn, but the hard part here as far as I am concerned, would be to figure out what would get them tagged as human. We’ve been arguing for centuries about what is human. Is it tool using? Well, some animals do that. Is it language? Some animals have been able to do that.

The basic thing would be to let the bots know that being tagged as human was the good thing…not, by the way, killing as many bad guys as possible (that’s not human).

These characters interacted with players…and again, they were more likely to be perceived as human than the players who were Homo sapiens.

Eventually, this will mean AI bots answering your e-mail for you…and perhaps, people not believing it’s really you when you actually answer it. 😉

Wired.Co.UK article

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


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