2018 Oscar noms

January 23, 2018

2018 Oscar noms

This is preliminary, almost live-blogging…I’ll refine it soon this morning.

Some thoughts:

  • Wow! After the Screen Actors Guild went full Muggle with the winners, I was feeling a tad less confident that this would be the big year for geeky movies at the Oscars I had anticipated…but I was wrong. Complete embrace of geeky and hip movies…the Oscars have never looked as young as they do at 90
  • Love how they are presenting the noms! They are doing short movies with well-known people to illustrate the concept of the category. It also shows the non-traditionalality ūüėČ of the Oscars, to have them presented by Andy Serkis (best known as the mocap king ((motion capture))) and Tiffany Haddish, who is an up and comer in an edgy movie (in particular)
  • Blade Runner 2049 got a lot of recognition, as did Get Out and especially The Shape of Water
  • The buzz as a snub? Wonder Woman…that’s part of why I’m doing this without having put everything together carefully. It’s going to be a big flap online this morning
  • I had tried to anticipate what some of the nominees might be…I’ll get those into their proper nominations shortly…sorry, woke up with a cold this morning ūüôā
  • Beauty and the Beast also got a lot of noms
  • If you want to see the big name movies online, you can shell out for HBO and watch them on Now or Go (or, if you have AT&T for internet, you get it on DirecTV…although I have to say, I find that app particularly difficult to use). For the roughly $10 a month club, it’s definitely Netflix, at least for geeky titles

I’m going to call out the geeky nominees, and I’ll make some comments.

Best Original Song

  • Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Robert Lopez, Remember Me from Coco
  • Benj Pasek, Justin Paul, This is Me from The Greatest Showman

SFX (Special Effects)

  • Blade Runner 2049
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
  • Kong: Skull Island
  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi
  • War for the Planet of the Apes

Doc Short

Documentary Feature

Editing

  • Sidney Wolinsky, The Shape of Water

Sound Mixing

  • Christian T. Cooke, Glen Gauthier, Brad Zoern, The Shape of Water
  • Ron Bartlett, Doug Hemphill, Mac Ruth, Blade Runner 2049
  • Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi (original title)
    Michael Semanick, David Parker, Stuart Wilson, Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Sound Editing

  • Nathan Robitaille, The Shape of Water
  • Mark A. Mangini, Blade Runner 2049
  • Matthew Wood, Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Production Design

  • Beauty and the Beast
  • Blade Runner 2049
  • The Shape of Water

Live Action Short

Animated Short

  • Revolting Rhymes Part One
  • may be others…

Best Animated Feature

  • Coco
  • Ferdinand
  • The Boss Baby

 Supporting Actor

  • Richard Jenkins, Shape of Water

Supporting Actress

  • Octavia Spencer, Shape of Water

Makeup and Hairstyling

No geeky nominees in this category

Costume

  • Jacqueline Durran, Beauty and the Beast
  • Luis Sequeira, The Shape of Water

Cinematography

  • Roger Deakins, Bladerunner 2049
  • Dan Laustsen, The Shape of Water

Original Screenplay

  • Jordan Peele, Get Out
  • Guillermo del Toro, Vanessa Taylor, The Shape of Water

Adapted Screenplay

  • Scott Frank, James Mangold, Michael Green, Logan

Original Score

  • The Shape of Water
  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Foreign Language

Directing

  • Guillermo Del Toro, The Shape of Water
  • Jordan Peele, Get Out

Other geeky movies which had buzz in this category:

  • Patty Jenkins, Wonder Woman

Lead Actress

  • Sally Hawkins in The Shape of Water

Lead Actor

  • Daniel Kaluuya in Get Out

Best Picture

  • Get Out
  • The Shape of Water

Other geeky movies which had buzz in this category:

  • Wonder Woman
  • Blade Runner 2049
  • Coco
  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi
  • Logan
  • Beauty and the Beast
  • Downsizing
  • War for the Planet of the Apes
  • Goodbye Christopher Robin
  • Okja

A special Oscar is being awarded to Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu for Carne y Arena, a virtual reality work.

Where can you legally stream any of these Oscar nominees without paying additional money (subscriptions required)?

Amazon Prime:

Hulu:

Netflix:

  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
  • The Boss Baby
  • Beauty and the Beast

HBO Now/HBO Go

Kong: Skull Island
Get Out
Logan

How about streaming if you are willing to piece pay to rent or buy? All links are to JustWatch:

Complete list of nominees from the Academy website:

http://oscar.go.com/nominees

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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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Geek-friendly, blockbuster…and critically acclaimed

January 19, 2018

Geek-friendly, blockbuster…and critically acclaimed

“You know, Tommy…you’re really a freak. I don’t mean that unkindly. I like freaks. That’s why I like you.”
–Mary-Lou (played by Candy Clark) to Thomas Jerome Newton (played by David Bowie)
The Man Who Fell to Earth
screenplay by Paul Mayersberg
based on the novel by Walter Tevis
collected in
The Mind Boggles: A Unique Book of Quotations (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) by Bufo Calvin

Now that the geeks have inherited the Earth, what do we want to do with it? ūüėČ

I remember back in the olden days ūüėČ when consuming geek-friendly media was something that only a few of us did…and pretty much everybody else looked down on us for doing it. Robert Heinlein was in the kids’ section. You could make just about anything into a “sci-fi” movie for the summer drive-ins, because the market was small enough that we literally could see every single geeky movie released in the USA…and some of us did.

While there had always been some geeky hits, the seventies saw the real start of the change: The Exorcist (horror) (1973); Jaws (monster movies) (1975); and Star Wars (science fiction, although loosely defined) (1977) were giant blockbusters, dominating the box office.

If you look at the top-grossing movies of all time in the USA (not adjusted for inflation), and remove the anomaly of Titanic (even though it’s full of special effects and directed by a geek-friendly director), the top thirty are all geek-friendly, and they dominate on down the line for the top 100.

When we look at critical acclaim, though, that’s been a tougher path.

Not this year.

Again, if we look backwards (and I’m talking about movies here), there have been geek-friendly critically-acclaimed performances and movies. Fredric March won the Best Actor Oscar for portraying the title roles in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Julie Andrews won for the title role in Mary Poppins.

However, there is an important distinction in all the buzz around The Shape of Water and Get Out (which may each get multiple Oscar noms, announced on January 23, including Big Six awards…Best Picture/Director/acting awards).

They are originals, written for the screen. They are also both written by their directors, and are unambiguously geek-friendly.

Being based on a book gives geek-friendly movies a certain cachet. Even though the books themselves may have been considered “lowbrow” or for kids, that still counts, even in a sort of retroactive respect.

This year, critics are recognizing geek-friendly works that are born and raised in the geek-friendly world.

The Shape of Water, according to IMDb, has already won 67 awards and had 190 nominations.

Get Out has 84 wins and 142 nominations.

Note that that doesn’t mean they lost in those other cases…some of them have not been decided yet, like this weekend’s SAG awards.

When we look at the Oscar odds at

Gold Derby

nominations seem very likely, and wins are possible.

I don’t think we geeks need to worry that we are going to be like everybody else (that’s a negative, right?).¬† ūüėČ There will always be eddies which keep us out of the mainstream. Still, I think the time has arrived that we can say, “All your base are belong to us”… ūüėČ


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* 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 I Love My Kindle 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 Geeky Golden Globes 2018: the results

January 8, 2018

The Geeky Golden Globes 2018: the results

While most of the media focus was on other topics, it’s worth noting how the geek-friendly nominees did at the Golden Globes last night.

There has been a sense that GF movies (and TV, but especially movies) have been gaining more respect in recent years. Certainly, box office and ratings haven’t been a question, but what about awards?

In the movies, the big news there was Guillermo del Toro’s win for Best Director. Unlike Best Picture, that one is not divided: The Shape of Water was competing on an even playing field. This does suggest that del Toro may be nominated for the same award at the Oscars. While GF works have been nominated for Best Director before (Stanley Kubrick was nominated for both 2001: A Space Odyssey and A Clockwork Orange, for example), and Peter Jackson won for The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (and there were a couple of others), it is a rarity indeed.

For TV, The Handmaid’s Tale (based on Margaret Atwood’s novel) won the prestigious Best Drama award.

Now, let’s back up a bit…

  • Get Out had two nominations, including Best Actor and Best Picture (in the Musical or Comedy category), it didn’t win either. Still, it is really true that it is an honor just to be nominated. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Get Out nominated for a Best Picture Oscar (where there are more possibilities), and I could see it getting Best Director, Best Screenplay, and Best Actor nods (possibly other categories as well). I’m not suggesting that it would win those categories, but nominations? My guess is that the Academy voters will recognize it
  • The Shape of Water was also won for Best Original Score for Alexandre Desplat, and was nominated for Best Picture (Drama), as were Sally Hawkins (Best Actress), Richard Jenkins (Best Supporting Actor), Octavia Spencer (Best Supporting Actress). Some of these could repeat in nominations at the Oscars
  • Coco won for Best Animated Feature: that’s a likely repeat nomination, and could win. It also had a nomination for Best Original Song for “Remember Me”: that’s likely to be a tough category, but is possible
  • Ferdinand was also nominated for Best Original Song for “Home”
  • Stranger Things and Game of Thrones were also nominated for TV
  • Caitrona Balfe was nominated for Best Actress, Drama for Outlander…the winner was Elisabeth Moss for Handmaid’s Tale
  • Kyle MacLachlan was nominated for Best Actor in a Limited Series or TV Movie for Twin Peaks; Ewan McGregor won for Fargo
  • David Harbour was nominated for¬†Best Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or TV Movie for Stranger Things (Golden Globe categories are weird); the winner was¬†Alexander Skarsg√•rd, Big Little Lies
  • Ann Dowd was nominated for Supporting Actress for The Handmaid’s Tale with the winner being Laura Dern for Big Little Lies (A billion dollar movie with The Last Jedi and a Golden Globe? Good couple of months for Dern…)

It’s possible I’ll update this when I’ve had more time, but it may be that this will be the geekiest Oscars ever. There have been geeky Oscar nominations and wins before, as I noted, but there may be a higher percentage of nominees in the “Big Six” categories than we’ve seen (acting, picture, and directing…as well as screenplays).


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* 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 I Love My Kindle 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.

 

In Memoriam 2017: we’ve said well over 100 Geeky Good-byes this year; here are five of them

January 4, 2018

In Memoriam 2017: we’ve said well over 100 Geeky Good-byes this year; here are five of them

“I happen to be a gentle person. I prefer life to death, peace to war, tranquility, order, plants that blossom, small beings that produce pleasant sounds, the feeling wind gives, all such things.”
–Peot, the Guardian
Bloodhype
written by Alan Dean Foster

Our

2017 Geeky Good-byes

lists over 130 people at the time of writing, and unfortunately, will undoubtedly go over 150 when all have been entered.

We have that page to recognize the contributions of all of them to geek culture.

In this post, I’m going to highlight five of the geek celebrities who died in 2017. That’s not to diminish any of the others, but these may be perhaps better known or especially deserving of recognition for their contributions. In particular order:

Adam West

The 1960s Batman TV show was such a hit that it was referenced in pop culture (for example, Allan Sherman sang that, “They even took Batman off the TV screen to show The Rebel!”). That was due in no small part to Adam West’s performance. While that was far from his only geeky role, he didn’t turn his back on the Bat-fans.

June Foray

Hokey smoke, June Foray was not only one of the greatest voice artists ever, but championed animation throughout an amazing career.

George A. Romero

Even now, Night of the Living Dead is very unnerving to watch. George Romero upended horror movie narrative tradition, not just creating the modern zombie, but creating lasting art through his screenwriting (with John A. Russo) and direction. I particularly liked Martin, a lesser-known Romero movie. George also helped nurture later generations of filmmakers.

Brian Aldiss

The author Frankenstein Unbound was not only one of the Science Fiction Writers of America’s Grand Master, he was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

John Hurt

Twice-nominated for an acting Oscar, winner of a Golden Globe and BAFTA, John Hurt also had a varied geek-friendly career. From Alien to 1984 to Watership Down to the Hellboy movies, Hurt was a highly-respected actor who had no reluctance to take geek roles.

We thank them for what they gave of themselves, and their supportive friends, family, and co-workers.

For more information, and for other geeky-goodbyes for 2017, see 2017 Geeky Good-byes.


You can be part of my next book, Because of the Kindle!


Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* 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 I Love My Kindle 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.

 

Amazon Charts: 2017 This Year in Books

December 14, 2017

Amazon Charts: 2017 This Year in Books

This is another great example of something which has happened “Because of the Kindle” (I’m writing a book by that name…you can still share your opinions for possible inclusion): Amazon has much better analysis of what readers are actually, you know, reading. ūüėČ

While undeniably, some people find this creepy, your Kindle can save how far you are in a book. By looking at that in the aggregate (not how much did so-and-so read how quickly, but the whole group of people), Amazon can give us an accurate sense of what people read as opposed to what they buy (“bestsellers”).

There are a number of reasons why that information is interesting. It doesn’t just have to do with people buying books they never read: I would say more importantly is what people re-read.

Many people re-read books…a lot. It may also be current events (both in their lives and more globally) that make them want to re-visit a book.

We can see that in this new “article” from Amazon:

Amazon Charts: 2017 This Year in Books (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

The top ten most read books are really dominated by the “backlist”, not recently published…some are decades old. #1 is The Handmaid’s Tale and #2 is Stephen King’s It (both driven by media adaptations). “A Game of Thrones” (that’s the title on the cover) is on the top ten…as are four Harry Potter books. Origin by Dan Brown is a recent title…at #9.

I’m guessing that the Harry Potter books and It are being heavily re-read, as opposed to first time readers.

They also give us a breakdown by area of the United States (states/territories). There are some fascinating data there, although it’s a little unclear to me as to when they are measuring reading and when they are measuring sales. I’ll point out that Utah was one of the Top 10 Reading Spots (Kindle reads per capita, it looks like)…but was one of only four where The Handmaid’s Tale wasn’t the top seller (Brandon Sanderson’s Oathbringer ((at AmazonSmile*)) beat it out there…but Sanderson does have a Utah connection. The book was also a NYT bestseller, and one of the fastest read, according to another section of this article). Two of the other locations where Margaret Atw0od’s book doesn’t top the list are Guam and Puerto Rico. I think what I available through Hulu is different in those territories (not individual programs, but types of services), so that might affect adoption of the app there.

There is a lot more information on that page! I may expand this later…it’s definitely worth checking out!

Let me and my readers know what stands out to you by commenting on this post!

Thanks, Amazon!


 

You can be part of my next book, Because of the Kindle!


Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* 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 I Love My Kindle 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.

That time Captain Kirk was accused of sexual harassment

December 9, 2017

That time Captain Kirk was accused of sexual harassment

While Star Trek: The Original Series’ view of the future was a positive one (see:¬†The fundamental difference between Star Trek and Star¬†Wars), there are still some things which seem to have underestimated where we would be.

An obvious one is computers: while the Enterprise is way ahead of us in transportation (warp drive and the transporter), the computers are practically primitive. When Captain Kirk asks a question, we can actually hear relays closing! There are advanced artificial intelligences, but not standard issue for Federation vessels.

In this post, though, I’m more concerned with a social issue, which is very much in the news right now: sexual harassment.

While it isn’t the focal point of the episode, we can learn something from how the situation is handled (since Star Trek is typically thoughtful).

Before I go further, I’ll give you a

SPOILER ALERT

The episode is the fifth episode of the first season, The Enemy Within, written by Richard Matheson.

A transporter malfunction has split Captain Kirk into two people…one with the “baser emotions”, and one…well, with the softer ones.

The more assertive one is drinking Saurian brandy, and “visits” Captain Kirk’s Yeoman, Janice Rand.

This is clearly a situation like some of those getting coverage lately: it’s an imbalance of power. Kirk is Rand’s superior officer…basically, her boss. He physically forces himself on her, claiming that she is too much of a woman to resist, and that they have been hiding their feelings for each other.

She fights with him, but it’s really the fortunate accident that the proximity sensor doors open, and there is another crewperson in the hallway…a male one.

The interesting scene, in this context, is when Kirk, Spock, and McCoy interview Rand about it. That’s the “good” Kirk, by the way, who doesn’t know the sexual assault (and that’s undeniably what it is) has happened.

They don’t believe her…it’s not that they necessarily disbelieve her (outside of Kirk), but they question her account.

She says, in part:

“Then he kissed me and he said that we…that he was the Captain, and he could order me. I didn’t know what to do. <snip> I can understand. I don’t want to get you into trouble. I wouldn’t have even mentioned it…”

Three male officers: all ranked superior to her, one the person she is accusing, the other two his best friends. There is no counselor present (there are mental health professionals in the first series, but we don’t get a regular ship counselor as a main character until the Next Generation). Certainly, there is an urgency in the situation, but Spock has heard good reasons to think Kirk could have done it: Kirk’s story is at odds with those of Dr. McCoy (about Kirk’s behavior and whereabouts), and there is physical evidence to support McCoy (the brandy bottle was in Rand’s room).

It certainly appears that she is eventually believed not just because a corroborating witness shows up…but a male witness, who also forcefully accuses Kirk.

Rand is distraught, but still tells her story. Not surprisingly, she doesn’t get everything right, based on the episode itself. She says that Kirk asserts that he is the Captain, and that he could order her…but we see the whole confrontation, and he doesn’t. I don’t think we are supposed to think she is wrong: most likely, there were versions of the script where he did say that, and the scenes were perhaps filmed out of order, so they didn’t realize at the time (those production details are out there, but I don’t remember offhand).

I think it’s reasonable to say that we aren’t seeing a couple of centuries (the timeline is imprecise in the first series…purposefully. It’s why Roddenberry had them use stardates, reportedly) worth of progress in dealing with sexual harassment.

However, the series does show the assault, and does let Rand speak out about it…unusual for the time. We have to remember that the first pilot for Star Trek featured a strong female lead…although women were sometimes objectified in the version that got on the air (and this wasn’t the only time Yeoman Rand would be touched inappropriately on the show). Still, she does speak out, and she is shown as capable. It is Captain Kirk who commits the act…but we are clearly told that it is the “evil” version (and part) of Kirk that takes advantage like that…

Update: I’d forgotten the final part of the episode until I finished the rewatch! A leering Spock suggests to Yeoman Rand that there were certain attractive qualities to the lustful duplicate. While the end of a Star Trek: The Original Series episode is often a joke, this seems wholly inappropriate, seeming to imply that she might enjoy having him force himself on her. She doesn’t find it amusing, and it doesn’t seem really in character for Spock, who likely had some sense of how she should feel in the situation.


You can be part of my next book, Because of the Kindle!


Join thousands of readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard

All aboard The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

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 I Love My Kindle 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 th

 

Gift ideas for geeks 2017

November 24, 2017

Gift ideas for geeks 2017

It’s Black Friday…or, um, Cyber Monday Eve Eve Eve! ūüėČ

While things have certainly changed in the past few decades with the mainstreaming of geek culture, it can still be be a bit of a mystery. Certainly, specialty sites are having sales today, like

and many more (feel free to suggest others by commenting on this post).

However, mainstreamers may never visit those sites…and may feels their heads spinning if they do. ūüėČ

In this post, I thought I’d give you 42 items you can buy from Amazon…where just about every mainstreamer shops. ūüôā While explaining stuff is one of my favorite things (I used to do a comedy TV bit where they would pretty much just give me a topic and I’d explain it), I won’t try to explain specifically why each of these would appeal. In at least some cases, though, I’ll give you an idea of the type of geek to whom it will especially appeal. We aren’t all the same…arguably, none of us are the same, and while geeks are famously inclusive, there are some…rivalries (Star Wars vs. Star Trek, Marvel vs. D.C., The Addams Family vs. The Munsters…). It can help to have some context.

A few other notes:

I may add to this (I already wish I had more time to list more before heading out on a family tradition) but I wanted to get it out for today’s shopping…enjoy!

If you have other things you think should be added, feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post. If you directly benefit from it, such as being the author or working for the studio, please mention that and write it in your own words, rather than as an ad. ūüôā


You can be part of my next book, Because of the Kindle!


Join thousands of readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard

All aboard The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* 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 I Love My Kindle 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.

 

 

 

Facebook may not be doing “heardu” ads…but it sure seems like something is!

November 4, 2017

Facebook may not be doing “heardu” ads…but it sure seems like something is!

While Facebook has repeatedly denied using your phone’s microphone to “eavesdrop” on your casual conversations and target ads to you based on that, I’ve had a couple of experiences recently where something on my phone doing that seems the most likely explanation.

It certainly doesn’t have to be Facebook, and I would think in my case, that would be unlikely. I don’t use Facebook much at all, and I didn’t see the ads on Facebook. In one case, it was an ad at the top of my e-mail feed.

Now, let me be clear: I’m not saying that my experiences prove that my phone is listening to me to target ads…it’s just that it seems like the most likely explanation.

What are the other explanations?

One would be that the ad is just random, and it just happened to come right after I talked about a relevant subject. Part of it would be that I noticed the ad because I had been talking about it. Let’s say the ad was for…pineapples. Let’s also say I get an ad for pineapples once a week. I might not ever notice that I get those pineapple ads (that happens with a lot of ads…it’s part of why they show the same ones to you over and over) until it was relevant, because I had been talking and thinking about it.

Another possibility would be that the ad was targeted to me…but not based on the conversation. We’ll go back to the pineapple example.  While I may have been talking about pineapples, I might also have searched for information about them in a search engine, or belonged to a group of pineapple lovers…or that I had other interests which statistically made it seem likely that I was interested in pineapples. That’s one of the things that can make it seem mysterious…it could be that the majority of people who watch, say, My Favorite Martian reruns also like pineapples.

Both of those things are probably mistaken for heardu ads (I just made up that term, by the way) from time to time.

I’ll give you my two recent scenarios, and you can decide if it seems likely or not. If you have another idea which you think is more likely, I’d be happy to hear it. ūüôā

In the first case, my Significant Other and I were staying in a hotel to attend my sibling’s wedding. There were a couple of other attendees joining us in our suite a couple of days later.

I realized that, because of the clothing we’d all need to have for various events, that we’d need more hangers than we had. I suggested we stop by the Front Desk on the way out to ask for some more.

After that conversation (and note that we had not searched for hangers on our devices, or asked our devices about hangers), an ad showed up on my SO’s device…for wooden hangers.

That seems like a really odd thing to be randomly advertised. Yes, we probably had done things on our phones which had to do with formal wear…and I suppose it could have read our itineraries and known we were going to a wedding, and even that we were staying in a hotel. However, guessing that we needed hangers at that exact time seems less believable to me than something we know is technologically possible. I know my phone listens to me…I can say, “OK, Google” and it will interact with me. If it wasn’t listening to me, it wouldn’t know when I said, “OK, Google”.

The other one was that I was recently teaching a class to surgeons. One example we were using was a surgery where the referring condition was a hernia.

I did not need to research anything online about hernias.

After I’d been teaching the class for a couple of hours, we took a break…and I had a banner ad at the top of my e-mail feed related to hernia mesh!

That one seems especially unlikely to me to have happened in another way. I’m not particularly in a risk group for hernias. I don’t belong to any hernia special interest groups. I suppose it could be based on my profession…if it was reading PDFs on my device, then perhaps.

At this point, it simply seems most likely to me that it heard my conversation and targeted the ad.

Quite a few apps have microphone access on my phone…I know I could turn it off, but I do use it often…and I really don’t mind getting targeted ads. If I’m going to get ads anyway, they might as well be more relevant.

That’s what I think: feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.


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* 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‚Äôll 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)‚Ķand the good feeling you‚Äôll get. :) Shop ‚Äôtil you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle 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.

Spend Halloween with The Dick Van Dyke Show

October 31, 2017

Spend Halloween with The Dick Van Dyke Show

There are soooooo many choices for things to watch on Halloween! Whether you want something really scary (like The Exorcist) or family fun (It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown), it’s all available to stream. However, some of it may also be a bit…familiar.

Now, as a proud geek, familiar is fine. We can watch the same TV episode twenty times, and enjoy it every time. I always say that’s one of the hallmarks of a geek: low threshold of entertainment. ūüėČ

I thought I’d go a bit farther afield, though, and suggest a few episodes of a real TV classic, but one that isn’t usually considered geek-friendly: The Dick Van Dyke Show.

That is one of my favorite shows, and does have my favorite TV moment (although it’s somewhat subtle).

It’s a show that was an interesting mix of workplace sitcom, song and dance, mime, and social commentary (with a great episode taking on racial perceptions, and a rare for the time openly Jewish role).

There are three episodes I’d recommend for Halloween viewing, including a really stand-out episode for any television show. These are both kid and adult friendly: a bit creepy but not really scary (more Scooby Doo level than Twilight Zone), and jokes that work for adults.

All are available on both Netflix and Hulu at the time of writing.

Uhny Uftz (Season 5, episode 3)

This is a flying saucer episode (many shows had them in the 1950s and 1960s), but it is also a spooky one. Rob is working late and hears an odd noise, and he and Buddy eventually investigate.

The Ghost of A. Chantz (Season 4, episode 2)

Rob, Laura, Buddy, Sally , and even Mel and Alan go to a cabin for a working weekend…and it appears that the cabin is haunted!

It May Look Like a Walnut (Season 2, episode 20)
Event listing at The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip

Laura and Rob watch a scary science fiction movie on TV, and it has an Invasion of the Body Snatchers element. The next morning, Rob begins to encounter those events in real life…with a script by series creator Carl Reiner, and directed by Jerry Paris. If you only watch one of these (but I do think the three, which all together would be under an hour and a half, would be good for Halloween), this is the one…even after Halloween.

Enjoy, and happy Halloween!


You can be part of my next book, Because of the Kindle!


Join thousands of readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard

All aboard The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* 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 I Love My Kindle 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.

Patty looks back: 50 years of the Patterson-Gimlin Bigfoot footage

October 20, 2017

Patty looks back: 50 years of the Patterson-Gimlin Bigfoot footage

You’ve seen it, or you’ve seen parodies or images based on it. Look at Bigfoot t-shirts or novelty “Bigfoot Crossing” signs, and you are likely to have a pose with swinging arms, mid-stride, looking back over its shoulder at you.

All of that comes from the “PGF” (Patterson-Gimlin Film): shot by Roger Patterson (with Bob Gimlin there as well), and it shows a hairy biped striding away from the camera.

It was reportedly shot on October 20th, 1967, near Bluff Creek, in Northern California.

What does it show?

There are really only two likely possibilities.

  1. It shows a “Bigfoot”, an unscientifically recognized bipedal mammal
  2. It’s a hoax

Beyond that, you have to get more exotic, such as a “tulpa” (a materialized thought form), an alien, and so on.

There has been a lot of analysis and claims about it, both positive and negative. I’ve read reasons why it physically can not be a human being in a suit (based on shoulder to height ratio, arm length, and gait) and I’ve seen claims of finding the zipper in the film. There have been books and DVDs focused on it:

search for “Patterson Bigfoot” at Amazon (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

and among many websites of varying perspectives and depth there is at least one focused on it:

PattersonFilm.com

As a Fortean, I don’t make a “one or the other” judgment about it…the Fortean¬† “philosophy” doesn’t make binary choices, not even “real” and “not real”. Well, even that statement is too binary. ūüėČ

You might simply believe its an obvious hoax, or you might equally simply believe it is “real”. You may have read a lot of the analysis and lean one way or the other.

What I thought I would do in this post is show some of the angles to the story…it may be different from what you think, and personally, I always like it when somebody gets me to think about what I think. ūüôā

  • The claim was not that this was an accidental, serendipitous event…somebody just trekking through the woods with no ideas about Bigfoot. Patterson was there making a Bigfoot documentary, and had previously written a book on Bigfoot. Patterson wasn’t just a random hiker
  • The movie was not taken without collaborating context of Bigfoot in the area. There were also tracks in the area outside of this event, and not just reported by Patterson and Gimlin
  • Ivan T. Sanderson, a popular naturalist (think someone like Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter), who also wrote about Fortean topics, really popularized the movie with a cover article in the February 1968 issue of Argosy magazine. The cover promised “EXCLUSIVE! First Photos! CALIFORNIA’S ABOMINABLE SNOWMAN”, and showed that arm-swinging lookback. That’s when many people first became aware of it
  • It’s worth noting that Argosy didn’t use the term “Bigfoot” on the cover…although that term, in the modern usage, really had been popularized about ten years earlier
  • In modern parlance, we can say that the movie “went viral”. Patterson and the film appeared on a number of shows, including Johnny Carson’s Show, and it was mentioned in Reader’s Digest
  • An analysis by Dimitri Donskoy in Russia, who had credentials to do a biomechanical analysis, concluded that it was likely not to have been a “MiS” (Man-in-Suit…Donskoy didn’t use that term). That had to do with the apparent naturalness of what is not a natural movement pattern for a homo sapiens…Patty “glides”, not bobbing up and down as much as a homo sapiens does, for example
  • One of the arguments is about whether or not it would be possible for it to be an MiS. If you could say it was possible, that keeps open the hoax; if you could say it wasn’t, then you can’t (or so the traditional logic goes). No serious analysis claims it was a “cheap gorilla suit”: it would have to be fairly sophisticated. Indeed, legendary Hollywood makeup artist John Chambers (portrayed by John Goodman in Argo) has been rumored to have made the “suit” for the PGF. That was never confirmed, but we can say it would have been expensive to make, especially in 1967. It would be hard to prove an impossibility: if you could figure out that the figure was over 2.5m tall (8′ 2″), that wouldn’t rule out a homo sapiens…Robert Wadlow was reportedly about 2.7m (8′ 11″) tall. If you had a circus contortionist with enough training time, it might be possible to create the gait. With enough money and resources, it might have been possible to duplicate the appearance in a suit. However, it’s worth thinking about whether all of those factors would have been combined in the same place and by the people we know were involved…and why that would have happened. Regardless, it’s always going to be very difficult for photographic evidence to prove the existence of something
  • The PGF is not the only evidence for Bigfoot, and the “case” doesn’t depend on it. There could have been Bigfoot hoaxes (that seems very, very likely) and the PGF could be real. The PGF could be a hoax and Bigfoot could be “real”…it isn’t the be all and end all
  • There is an argument that Patty shows both male and female characteristics, which makes it anatomically unlikely. The obvious female characteristic? The breasts (which often don’t appear in toys and images based on it). The male characteristic? The apparent “sagittal crest”which is a ridge of bone on top of the skull which helps with chewing hard objects (as I understand it). You can see that it’s there on male gorillas and not female gorillas. Patty isn’t claimed to be a gorilla: while sagittal crests do appear more in males than in females in some other species also, it would seem unscientific to declare that an unknown primate species could not have a female with a conical skull…or a male with obvious breasts
  • In 1975, a documentary called Mysterious Monsters, with Peter Graves of Mission:Impossible, was another time many people saw the PGF

These are just a few threads from the past half-century…what will the next half-century bring?

I’m interested in what you think…feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.


You can be part of my next book, Because of the Kindle!


My current Amazon giveaway:

Beyond Curie: Four women in physics and their remarkable discoveries 1903 to 1963 (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Giveaway:

https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/b139e577ee333624

  • Winner:Randomly selected after Giveaway has ended, up to 1 winners.
    Requirements for participation:
  • Resident of the 50 United States or the District of Columbia
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  • Follow Scott Calvin on Amazon

Start:Sep 25, 2017 5:46 AM PDT

End:Oct 25, 2017 11:59 PM PDT


Join thousands of readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard

All aboard The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* 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 I Love My Kindle 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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