A Special Christmas Review: “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas”

Original Air Date: December 8, 1974

Wikipedia Page

Synopsis: A sentient teenaged mouse named Albert sends an insulting letter to Santa Claus, causing Santa to spurn the entire town of Junctionville (sentient mice and humans alike). A clockmaker named Joshua Trundel concocts a scheme to build a big clock tower that will play a treacly Christmas song on Christmas Eve to placate St. Nick. The mayor not only signs on to this huge construction project but (presumably) spends a fortune in taxpayer money to get it built within weeks. Albert then breaks the damned clock, but fixes it in time for Santa’s arrival. Santa, pleased by this idolatry, rewards the townspeople with consumer goods they could have bought themselves for about 1% of the cost of building the clock tower. (more…)

Rapture: The Series

While I thought the premise of Caprica was a little boring, I think a TV series about the development of Rapture prior to the events of Bioshock would be riveting. Pun intended.

Visually, dramatically, and even philosophically there’s a lot to be mined from the Rapture concept. The ambition of Andrew Ryan, his power struggle with the growing criminal empire of Fontaine, the development of ADAM and splicing and the ethical quandaries of the various scientists involved, the advent of the Little Sisters and Big Daddies…ever since the first moments of playing Bioshock, I thought the game developers had created something that could be fleshed out into an entirely new sf franchise, spreading to books, comics, movies, and even TV shows. So far, all we’ve had are two games, an art book, a soundtrack and a novel that may never come. That’s a crime.

Man or Saruman?

While they still seem like a long ways off, Guillermo Del Toro is hard at work on a pair of films based on The Hobbit. They haven’t officially cast anyone for the films yet, though Ian McKellen is very clearly on board. But what about that other wizard, Saruman? (more…)

On “On Stranger Tides”


Author Tim Powers has confirmed that Disney optioned his novel On Stranger Tides and is planning to use elements from it for the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean movie.

I find this really interesting, because right after I saw the first Pirates movie I went looking for some ghostly pirate fiction to quench my newfound thirst for ghostly pirate fiction, and the only thing I found (somewhat to my surprise) was Powers’ book. It’s a great novel, like most of Powers’ work (if you’re an H.P. Lovecraft fan, I recommend Declare–which would also make a great movie).

If I remember the story correctly, On Stranger Tides also offers a perfect chance to replace Orlando Bloom’s character with another straight man–preferably one who can be more evidently the straight man and not the ostensible hero (Norrington notwithstanding, Jake), but I suspect his character will simply be replaced by Jack Sparrow.

Still, it’s great that Powers is getting some notice. I highly recommend you pick one up–try On Stranger Tides (which, incidentally, was long out-of-print when I went looking for it), Declare or The Anubis Gates.

The Lost Swayze Movie: “Road Dawn”


What, me Curry?

Karen and I went to a dinner party Friday night, where we played a game–it was some sort of variant of Twenty Questions. It was introduced to us by our friends Andy and Ruth, who are a mathematician and an astronomer, respectively, so you know it had to be a little more complicated than that. Explaining the game would take a while, so suffice to say part of it was that you had to choose a person and then say what their last name started with.

When it came to my turn, I racked my brain for a good celebrity. We’d had Indian food for dinner, so while looking at the table I came up with Tim Curry. I figured the game would be over fairly quickly–Karen and other people who knew me well were in attendance–but my round took the longest by far.* It got to the point where they knew my person was male, an actor, British, appeared in comedies, and had something to do with a Stephen King movie.

What amazed me was how many British actors with a last name starting with “C” they got through before Karen finally got Tim Curry: Sean Connery, Michael Caine, and Daniel Craig. But ultimately I just felt a little sad for Tim Curry, who’s apparently more obscure than I realized, despite his memorable performances in Rocky Horror Picture Show, Clue, IT, Legend, and of course his tour-de-force in The Worst Witch.

*If Kate had been there, though, she would have totally gotten it as soon as she heard “British actor.”

Review > District 9


From an aesthetic and conceptual standpoint, I liked a lot of things about District 9. Director Neil Blomkamp has already proven to be a master of the use of adding special effects (such as aliens) to documentary-style footage to heighten their realism–the grainy, shaky camera work hides a multitude of CGI sins while anchoring the viewer in a familiar, real-world context (well, as “real” as your average news show is these days).

Then there’s the concept. District 9‘s set-up is simple: in the early 1980s, a giant alien mothership appears in Earth airspace. Rather than nuking New York–or even London, or Paris, or Tokyo–it settles over Johannesburg, South Africa, where it proceeds to hover for three months until the local government decides to take action. Drilling into the ship, they discover a million malnourished, sickly insect-like aliens. They take the aliens out of the ship and set up a temporary refugee camp below the vessel, which eventually turns into a permanent residence and, finally, a slum. (more…)

Passionate intensity on climate change

Here’s something that’s been bugging me lately.

One issue that concerns me is man-made climate change. I have my own thoughts on its existence, but I’m not here to debate that right now.

Rather, what I’m curious about is why, exactly, those who aren’t convinced man-made climate change is happening are so goddamned ginned up about it? I can read any article about global warming on any news website and be assured, without even looking, that there will be swarms of the MMCC-unconvinced going on and on in the comments, to the point where it soon crosses the “protests to much, methinks” line.

The only equivalent hot button issue I can think of is abortion (the current astroturfed health care stuff aside). Now, I get where the vehemence comes from on abortion. The passion on both sides makes sense to me. But in my experience on the climate change issue, I’ve seen a lot more vehemence from those who refute man-made climate change than those who are convinced it’s happening.

Anyway, my question is this: what exactly is at stake here? What happens if we take steps to reduce emissions and so forth, even if–for the sake of argument–they’re not responsible for global warming? (more…)

No Comment, Part II

The mainstream media is starting to catch on.

“Got a comment? Keep it to yourself” | The Boston Globe

My favorite passage:

I feel sorry for today’s reporters and columnists, who work hard gathering information dutifully trying to raise the debate on issues or inform the public on a burning topic only to have some agenda-driven bonehead who doesn’t have the courage – or need – to identify himself or herself and isn?t bound by the same ethics or policies tear down the work product the moment it appears.

Well said.

5 reasons I can’t wait to live in a house

1.) More space. Karen and I have been in this two-bedroom apartment for almost four years, and our stuff is stacked to the ceiling now.

2.) Having a yard. On a nice day, my options are staying inside or going for a walk into downtown Brighton. Or driving somewhere nice. I’d love to be able just to go out and sit on a porch or a deck and read.

3.) Getting a dog. No dogs allowed in our apartment.

4.) Packages will actually be delivered, rather than slips being left in our tiny mailbox forcing me to try and fit in a trip to the post office in that single hour before or after work when the PO is open. I don’t know how many times I’ve gotten home around 4:30 (I work 8am-4pm), grabbed the package slip and ran down to the post office only to learn that the carrier hadn’t even brought the package back yet (and of course the post office closes at 5). And don’t even get me started on UPS or Fedex. I had to drive 45 minutes last month to pick up a Fedex package in Wilmington.

5.) Having a washer and dryer that don’t cost $4 per load. After four years, we’ve paid about $2,000 in weekly laundry.

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