Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Sci-Fi Tech That Will Kill Us All (2)

Meet Heart Robot, the creepiest new addition to the ever growing race of robots that will one day overthrow our society and enslave us.

The Age has the full article, but here's their quick description of the little tyke:

Heart Robot has a beating heart, a breathing stomach and sensors that respond to movement, noise and touch. Cuddle him and he seems to soak up the affection. His limbs become limp, his eyelids lower, his breathing relaxes and his heartbeat slows. But if given a violent shake or shouted at, he gets upset. He flinches, his fists clench, his breathing and heart rate speed up and his eyes widen.
And if given a command by his robotic overlords, he will throttle you in your sleep. Seriously, who looks at this thing and thinks, "Just what I've always wanted, the needy skeleton of an infant"? But if you've always wanted to cuddle a character from The Nightmare Before Christmas, this is for you. Just picture this: an army of these little guys, silently marching down your street. Less cute now, huh?

Robots. The only thing worse than Zombies.

Universal nabs "Basterds"

According to Variety, Universal Pictures will team with The Weinstein Co. to co-finance Quentin Tarantino's next film, the WWII epic Inglorious Basterds.

This is quite the coup, as the script is rumoured to be brilliant, if unconventional. Tarantino was shopping the script at five major studios, and seems to have settled on Universal. The writer/director has been talking about the script since the mid 90's, and it's been set to be his "next" project since Jackie Brown. How long does it take to strip-mine exploitation flicks and foreign films for plot and style elements anyway?

This time out, even the title comes from another film. Now in re-release is 1978's Inglorious Bastards, starring a bunch of actors that Tarantino would probably cast in an ironic "comeback" capacity.

All kidding aside, even if Tarantino does mine other sources for his films, the result is always totally unique and refreshing, so I'm excited to see this flick in a couple of years. Will he land Brad Pitt for the lead?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Seacrest, DSV

This just in: Ryan Seacrest has been attacked by a shark.

He was swimming in Mexico when a shark bit him, and then swam away. Here's the story.

Wow, proof even sharks can't stomach Ryan Seacrest.

Coming Soon : Sports Night DVD set

So, on September 30, 2008, Sports Night will be re-released on DVD!

I have a man-crush on Aaron Sorkin that borders on the unreasonable. The West Wing is one of the best television shows ever. Ever. Do not argue with me. It's literally the only show that I can watch in its entirety once every year. I'm talking all 7 seasons, my peeps.

Sports Night was a show Sorkin created just before Wing. In fact, it actually ran concurrently with it. Where Wing was feted and an immediate smash, Sports Night struggled along, and despite being critically beloved and possessing a strong fan following, it was cancelled.

That being said, it is still awesome, with a brilliant cast, superb writing and all the talking while walking down corridors that you could ask for. It was released in a depressingly bare bones edition before (which I managed to obtain before it went out of print), but now for its tenth anniversary it's getting a deluxe version from the good folks at Shout! Factory.

Here's a link to some product details, while here's some of my favourite quotes from the show:

Casey: [Reading a party invitation] “October eighth, nineteen-hundred and ninety-eight A.D.” A.D. They’re worried I might accidentally show up 2000 years before the birth of Christ.

Isaac: Danny, I need to talk to you.
Dan: Good, 'cause I need to talk to you too. Who should go first?
Isaac: Since I don't really care what you have to say, I think it should be me.

Isaac: Dana, the things that I say in my office stay in my office.
Dana: Natalie's my second-in-command, she's the only one I told.
Natalie: Jeremy's my boyfriend, he's the only one I told.
Jeremy: I told many, many people.

Casey: Ugh... How can I be cool again? I'm a newly divorced man, I'm young, I used to be cool, I need to be cool again. Help me... be cool again.
Dan: (pause) Well, first I would have to disabuse you of the notion that you were ever cool before.

The Dark Knight continues to rake it in...

It's only been in theatres for 10 days, but The Dark Knight's domestic box office total now stands at $300 million, the fastest a movie has ever reached that total.


Yep, it's safe to say that this will be the movie business story of the year. What's most interesting to me is that an almost opressively dark and uncompromising film connected this much with audiences. Looking at it on its face, it would seem to be a tough sell to an audience from a studio's point of view.

First, it's long. At 152 minutes it's quite a bit longer that studios like. Shorter run times means more showings per day, yes, but studios also point to market research that says that audiences don't like long movies.

Second, it's grim. The story line takes itself and its chracters very seriously. It's clear that Nolan wanted to tell this story with as real stakes as possible, namely; if a guy in costume was working as a vigilante in your city, and a psychotic criminal with no scruples whatsoever became fixated on said vigilante, very bad things would happen and it would be a good idea to move. Not cartoony things, but actual bad things. The film doesn't shy away from this in any way. The Joker may be entertaining, but he's also honestly terrifying. Part of it is certainly the performance, but a lot is in the writing. You actually have no idea what he's about to do next.

Finally, its complex. It has a deliberate commentary to make on escalation of force, on the cost of an orderly society, on terrorism and the world we live in.

God, it makes Iron Man (which I enjoyed a lot) look like a kid's cartoon.

So, why has it clicked? Well, because of two reasons, IMO. First, contrary to the beliefs of the studios, audiences aren't dumb. They know quality when they see it. If a movies' good, they'll accept 152 minutes of grim, complex stuff. Second, Nolan and company didn't completely go art-house here. There are still some great action sequences throughout that are customary for a big summer blockbuster, and these sequences are exceptional.

Will The Dark Knight change the way blockbusters are done? Probably not. The main ingredient to its success has been its quality. The buzz, fanboys, and Ledger's death may have gotten people in the door, but it's massive success is due to its quality. That's much harder to replicate.
(and on a lighter note: I believe the poster above is a fake. So much for trusting my veracity)

Friday, July 25, 2008

Image Search: "Homemade Superhero Costumes"

This is an idea for an ongoing feature that I wish was originally mine. Nope, I swiped it from Erin Bradley's fantastic blog I Need This Like a Third Armpit , which is an awesome blog that people should check out.

Anyway, credit has been given, so here goes:

I don't know what's sadder: the expression on this gentleman's face, the fact that I know it's a Count Nefaria costume, or the fact that someone would actually make a Count Nefaria costume.

I have no idea who this character is or is supposed to be. What makes me most uncomfortable is the fact that he appears to be standing in my rec room circa 1979. It should also be noted that the maker of this costume is the same fellow who made the Count Nefaria suit above. This time, he wisely chose to hide his junk a little better.

Ah, Harley Quinn. Perhaps this costume is the one you will see most often at conventions, although most of the wearers will not be wearing this look of abject shame on their face. It's clear that she was forced to wear this after her boyfriend insisted she help him complete his Joker fetish.


Awwwwwww! To the cute-mobile!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Wolf Parade....

So, the new Wolf Parade album is out. It's called At Mount Zoomer, and it is five stacks of awesome with maple kick-ass poured over it.

For those of you who don't know Wold Parade, they are a great band from Montreal, where incredible Canadian bands go to make it big, apparently. The odd thing is that pretty much every member is originally from BC.

Anyway, their 2005 album Apologies to the Queen Mary has been on my playlist since it came out. I think it (along with Arcade Fire's Neon Bible and Metric's two albums) is one of the best Canadian rock albums of the last decade or so. So pick up either of Wolf Parade's albums and give a listen. They are great.

DC Universe allows you to beat on the Riddler...

So, at the San Diego Comic Con, DC has debuted their new MMO game, known as DC Universe.

As far as I can make out, you will create your own character, and then you can interact with the famous characters in the DCU.

Many online gamers are about to lose all contact with the outside world, I think. I tried to play City of Heroes, which is similar, but found that I'm too unfamiliar with the lingo and qualities of online gaming to interact with other gamers to the level they're accustomed to.

So, maybe I'll give it a shot. Sounds cool, though. Here's a link to the site.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Comics Milestone: Uncanny X-Men #500

Today, Uncanny X-Men, the comic published by Marvel since 1963, hits issue #500.

I've been a fan of comics for a long time. Pretty much since I could read. I started off reading mostly DC; Superman, Batman, the Flash, Green Lantern. Eventually some Spiderman crept in there along with some Captain America.

But I really started to become obsessed with comics when I read Uncanny X-Men #211, which had the kick-ass John Romita Jr. cover shown below.

How could you not like that cover? I read it and didn't really know what was going on, but it was dark, complex and brutal, totally unlike the happier DC comics I was familiar with. It hooked me. For a long time, Uncanny X-Men, as written by Chris Claremont, was my favourite series. When he left the series, so did I, and although I would come back every now and then, it never captivated me in the same way.

But with issue # 500, I'm thinking of jumping back in. Ed Brubaker is Marvel's best writer right now, and Matt Fraction works well with him (they co-wrote the excellent Iron Fist relaunch). Here's hoping that the magic is back.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

"Watchmen" Trailer is purty

The Watchmen trailer debuted on Friday, appearing online and ahead of showings of The Dark Knight.

Watchmen has long been one of my favourite pieces of literature, and I'm pretty excited to see it translated to the big screen.

While I really hope it's faithful to the spirit of the book, I have no illusions that every little nuance and plot point is going to make it in. This is one of the things that really irritates me about fandom in general. When something gets adapted from one medium to another, some fans always insist on an unreasonable level of faithfulness to the source.

Take Lord of the Rings. Fans were uspet that Tom Bombadil got cut. Apologies to anyone who loves Tom,, fuck that, Tom Bombadil sucks. I must have tried to read that book eight times, and every time I got stuck, it was at that part. You got all excited about the quest they're going on, there's a great sense of urgency, and then the story stops as they spend an interminable amount of time with a borderline moron who sings about trees. I finally finished the trilogy after resolving to skip over Tom Bombadil.

Back on point, the trailer looks gorgeous, with scenes that appear to be lifted right from the book. That being said, anyone who has never read it would be completely mystified as to what the hell is going on. Still, I'm excited.

You can view the trailer in all its HD glory here.

"The Dark Knight" comes out, sets record, for, well, everything...

The Dark Knight opened last Friday, and not only was almost universally praised as a great film, but also took the top spot at the box office, earning $158 million, making it the largest opening for a film ever. It is also believed that it may cure cancer, but let's wait until all the facts are in.

I saw it Friday night, and even though some of my more jaded friends told me it was overrated, I believe it to be the best film I've seen this year. Heath Ledger's performance is truly amazing. Seriously. It's a jaw-droppingly good job. It's the kind of performance, that were he still alive, would have totally redefined his career and instantly would have kicked him into the top five actors of his generation. I'm not exagerating. He steals the show, your seat, your popcorn, and perhaps your car in the theatre parking lot. I always thought he was a fine actor, certainly gifted, but this is so beyond that.

In related news, Christian Bale was arrested by Scotland Yard today for alledgedly assualting both his mother and his sister. Apparently, the assault took place at London's Dorset Hotel. The police released Bale on bail (ha ha!) as he was not a flight risk. You can read an article here.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Sci-Fi Tech That Will Kill Us All (1)

Here's the first in a series of blogs where I'll look for real-life technology that previously lay in the domain of science fiction. Technology that will eventually be used by sentient machines to either enslave or eradicate us.


It'll happen people. Stop looking at me like that.

First up - "The Rods from God"

This is from an article in Popular Science:

This technology is very far out—in miles and years. A pair of satellites orbiting several hundred miles above the Earth would serve as a weapons system. One functions as the targeting and communications platform while the other carries numerous tungsten rods—up to 20 feet in length and a foot in diameter—that it can drop on targets with less than 15 minutes’ notice. When instructed from the ground, the targeting satellite commands its partner to drop one of its darts. The guided rods enter the atmosphere, protected by a thermal coating, traveling at 36,000 feet per second—comparable to the speed of a meteor. The result: complete devastation of the target, even if it’s buried deep underground. (The two-platform configuration permits the weapon to be “reloaded” by just launching a new set of rods, rather than replacing the entire system.)

Here's a link the article itself for more terrifying info.

So, if I've got this straight, we are close to building a weapons system with the power of nuclear weapons, but none of that annoying fallout and radiation?

When Skynet becomes sentient, these are the weapons it will use.

Hey, Emmy's, Are You Kidding Me?

Okay, so the Emmy Nominations came out today.

Now, I am aware that the nominating committee for the Emmy's are roughly analogous to the Oscar folks; namely old as the hills. But still, you think they could pull their collective heads out of their collective rectums and get with the program just once.

The Wire is not nominated for best drama series.

Okay, okay, it's not everyone's cup of tea, I get it, but how many "best of" lists does a TV show have to be on before the body responsible for recognizing excellence in TV gets their shit together and recognizes some gee-dee excellence?

The nominees in this category are:

Boston Legal
Mad Men

All good, worthy choices. But wait; Boston Legal? Boston Legal? No one I know watches that show. You know why? Because if you've seen any other David Kelly show from Picket Fences forward, you've seen that exact show over and over.

Now, I'm not saying The Wire has to win. But over five seasons, it has been acclaimed as an absolute masterpiece. It's a complex, rich, satisfying, mesmerizing drama that superbly examines urban life in America like no other show ever has. This is not just my opinion. It's been on countless top ten lists over its five year run.

So, maybe a shout out, one time, would be nice. If we don't recognize and reward challenging, quality shows, why should anyone make them?

Don't even get me started on Battlestar Galactica.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Dork Knight

So, on Friday, The Dark Knight opens.

It opens at midnight, and while I haven't been this excited about a movie for at least six weeks, I will not be attending the midnight show.

First of all, I'm a new dad. Midnight is no longer a romantic time for me, but rather a witching hour filled with screaming, dirty diapers and breast milk. Hmmm, maybe that is a romantic time for some. Anyway, midnight holds no allure for me.

Secondly, I've only gone to see one movie on the midnight it opened. It was a little flick called Attack of the Clones. After exiting the theatre, I realized that I was going to be exhausted all day at work because of a movie that sucked ay-ass. If I'm going to be disappointed, at least let me get a good night's sleep afterwards.
Sorry, I just flashed back to my single days, there.

So, I'll be going this Friday, with a friend that will make many more appearances in this blog. I'm going to call him Scofe. We're excited, but we're comic book guys. We were excited when Daredevil was coming out. Not so much after seeing it, but still....

What amazed me was that I was at a pub the other day, eating lunch and reading that week's new comics. At this pub, the waitresses are all hot. Seriously. They all dress like they're five seconds away from auditioning for "America's Next Top Model" and they're all stunning. So, I'm reading Batman and my waitress says to me, "Is that the latest Batman?"

I look up and say, "Yeah," ready to grin sheepishly and turn on my best attempt at geek-nullifying boyish cuteness (getting harder in my 30s.)

She peers at the comic and says, "Grant Morrison's writing this, right? I love his stuff, it's so weird."

I'm stunned and manage to sputter, "Yeah."

She nods and smiles and says, "Cool."

Two things hit me after this exchange. One, it's a miracle I ever managed to string together enough wit to ensnare my wife, and two, the nerd revolution continues.

My Opening Salvo

So, yeah, I'm a nerd.

Not in a Revenge of the Nerds, pocket-protector, socially maladjusted, virginal sense. That kind of viewpoint is so 20th century.

Nope, I'm pleased to report that in the 21st century, nerds are no longer consigned to the basements of their parents or the "computer labs" at school, where they toil away transcribing Monty Python routines and writing slash fiction where Seven of Nine goes down on Dax. Which Dax? doesn't matter, my friends, doesn't matter.

Now, nerds seem to be in charge of all the stuff formerly run by "cool" people. We have our rock stars (Thom York from Radiohead, Ben Gibbard from Death Cab), TV producers (the entire production team behind Lost), actors (Michael Cera, Elijah Wood, Ellen Page are all kindy geeky), billionaires (uhhh, pretty much every billionaire in the tech industry).

In short, be prepared, all you assholes who used to lock me in my own locker in high school, I have seen the future and it is us.

So, from here on out, I'll be blogging all sorts of things related to the geeky and nerd-like, from new technology to cool music and film and TV. Hopefully I'll be entertaining while doing so.

I'm not doing action figures, though. Seriously, gotta draw a line somewhere.