Archive for June, 2014

Tech wars…1913 style

June 21, 2014

Tech wars…1913 style

http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83030214/1913-06-01/ed-1/seq-22/#date1=1836&index=3&rows=20&words=calculating+machin+machine&searchType=basic&sequence=0&state=&date2=1922&proxtext=calculating+machine&y=0&x=0&dateFilterType=yearRange&page=1

New-York tribune., June 01, 1913, Image 22

Image from the Library of Congress.

Comptometer

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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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Here’s what DC should do with all those superheroes

June 20, 2014

Here’s what DC should do with all those superheroes

I can’t be the only person getting a little concerned about all of the superheroes that they are putting into

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

At this point, were expecting:

  • Superman
  • Batman
  • Wonder Woman
  • Aquaman
  • Cyborg

Those actually show up as credited…there may be a lot of cameos and references as well (I’d love to see Ralph and Sue Dibny get a little shout-out…maybe just that somebody heard something from a Detective Dibny).

Remember, this is not the Justice League movie…that’s coming later.

I get that Marvel does this, and that’s a success it would make sense to want to emulate…but the Avengers wasn’t the first screen appearance of these versions of Iron Man or Thor. Audiences got to know them first, and then the studio brought them together.

I also understand that it’s very expensive to do a feature movie…especially a superhero one.

Still, DC has so many great quirky characters! There are many I’d like to see…and I’ll admit it, a comic like The Hawk and The Dove might not sustain a “tentpole” feature.

Tentpole…that’s what Hollywood calls a blockbuster that opens up the audience to seeing additional things.

What I’d like to suggest here, sticking to a circus metaphor, is “sideshow superheroes”.

These characters don’t need a whole movie: they need a ten-minute short, just like we had in the old days at the movies.

I do think these should be shown in the movie theatres. Marvel has been adding shorts to DVD releases, but that’s not really the same thing.

I’m looking for high concept characters that we can understand quickly. They should have some nostalgia value, but get people talking about them.

If they can expand to a feature later, sure, but don’t plan on that.

Don’t do an origin story: just jump us into the middle of the developed character…leave us wanting more. Make us buy the comics or tie-in novels to get it.

The effects don’t have to be top-notch: just good enough.

Here are some possibilities:

  • Metamorpho
  • Zatanna
  • The Creeper
  • Metal Men
  • Dial H for Hero

I know I’m heavy on the 1960s there, but you get the idea…all of those are high concept, and would be visual in a short piece.

It would be difficult for them to assign creative teams to all of these, so here’s my other idea.

Do it as a contest for amateurs.

Creators submit videos to DC. DC reviews them and makes pre-selections before they get posted to a website. The winner is selected through social media, and that short is shown alongside a tentpole in movie theatres. Other finalists are packaged together, but not shown on the big screen.

DC retains all rights to all of the videos.

I think this would be a great way for them to utilize their backlist, at relatively little expense, while retaining their intellectual property rights.

What do you think? What superheroes would you like to see get the “sideshow” treatment?

Try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard

My new free Flipboard magazine, The Weird Old Days features vintage articles on ghosts, sea serpents, psychic phenomena, and more http://flip.it/ZtmYw

* 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! :) 

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.

 

 

The Weird Old Days: my new Flipboard magazine

June 17, 2014

The Weird Old Days: my new Flipboard magazine

Has the world always been weird?

Well, yes, of course. 🙂

Over the decades, though, the way in which we look at those strange phenomena changes.

I had originally planned to do a book of old (public domain…no longer under copyright) newspaper stories, and provide context for the articles.

Then, the people at the

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

released an update which makes it easy to create your own “magazines” and to “flip” articles from the web into it.

In the same way that Twitter is really a different medium, this is something new.

If you already have the Flipboard app (and I read it every morning…it sort of holds the same place for me that a daily newspaper used to have), it’s easy to add a user-created Flipboard magazine. Getting the app is easy enough that, if you are interested in something, it’s a good way to get the information.

Here’s a place to get to The Weird Old Days:

 http://flip.it/ZtmYw

Why do a Flipboard magazine instead of a book?

After all, I don’t get any royalties from Flipboard: no direct compensation at all.

The main thing for me is the flexibility to keep adding to it.

With a book, you reach a point where you decide to publish it. You can certainly update it later, but that can be quite confusing for readers. People who buy it before the update don’t automatically get the new version (that’s true at the Kindle store, which is where I would have published it…and certainly true in brick-and-mortar stores ((I’m a former manager)) for paperbooks).

If you are going to update it every day (that’s been about right for The Weird Old Days, which has over 100 articles at time of writing, it’s pretty clunky to do a book.

I think it’s a fun way to go: for all of my Flipboard magazines, I have over 450 readers…that seems like a lot to me in a fairly short time.

It doesn’t cost anything, and you can unsubscribe easily at any time.

So, what is in The Weird Old Days?

I search through the Library of Congress’ Chronicling America collection of digitized newspapers (from 1836 through 1922). I certainly may use other resources at some point, but I feel confident in the copyright status of these.

As far as which search terms to use, well, that’s part of where you are getting my expertise.

For example, you can’t search for “UFOs” or “flying saucers”, since the terms weren’t in use back then (“flying saucers” came into the national vocabulary in 1947). There were, however, “airships” reported (especially in 1896 and 1909).

However, that doesn’t mean I’ll just include every airship story…because there were airships at the time. Even in 1896, before the Wright brothers, there were lighter-than-airships.

Another thing that complicates matters is that newspapers ran a lot of fiction back then. Especially following War of the Worlds (first serialized in 1897), there were quite a few tales of martians and airships…and while I assume the readers commonly knew they were intended as fiction, they were rarely labeled clearly as such. My guess is that people knew by the position in the newspaper, or by the name of a feature (which might include rotating stories).

“Lake monster” has gotten me many results…but “Loch Ness monster” yields nothing, despite common claims for history going back centuries. Those stories will be there in different places, but the term “Loch Ness monster” really becomes popular with the 1933 sightings.

The “Abominable Snowman” term does work (dating from 1921).

Many of the terms for “psychic phenomena” were around…so I can search for telekinesis or telepathy and get results.

Of course, they also did stories about things way before their time…Nostradamus, for example.

It particularly interests me when there were things which were popular then, and not so much covered now. Giant human skeletons in the USA, for example.

Oh, and one thing that amused me! I tried searching for “vampire”, thinking I might get some reports of existing ones, and there were many articles. However, those articles were mostly about the Theda Bara type of “vampire” (a…forward, or let’s call it “romantically assertive”, female).

Update: I forgot to mention that I know you may have some trouble reading an article on your device, due to the way they are formatted by the Library of Congress. They have an option on the page to display it as a PDF (you’ll see a link), so if you have a decent PDF reader, that can be a good way to go.

This is going to be fun to explore! I’ve already found some interesting pieces…

New! Try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard

* 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! :) 

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.

 

Gilligan’s Drone

June 7, 2014

Gilligan’s Drone

“Sooner than you think” is a series of posts on The Measured Circle where we find that things we think are modern have actually been around a bit longer than that…

While you may not think of Gilligan’s Island as a geeky TV series, there were certainly elements of fantasy and sometimes science fiction in it.

In

Gilligan’s Living Doll (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

a second season episode by Bob Stevens (originally broadcast on February 10, 1966), a robot is accidentally dropped on the island.

The castaways try to use it to get off the island (of course).

What you might find surprising is how we are told the robot got on the island in the first place:

“…and the drone plane which accidentally ejected the robot XR-1000 landed at Vanderburg Air Field. Since the airplane was operated by remote control, the officials have no way of knowing where the robot was ejected.”

That’s right: in 1966, a fictional aerial craft with no humans aboard was referred to as a drone.

Sooner than you think…

New! Try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard

* 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! :) 

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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