Tuesday, September 13, 2016

How Ya Been?

Been busy and the absence was pretty fun I gotta admit, but I'm baaack.  I don't know how regular though, off and on, perhaps.   It's not like I get paid to do this junk, you know?  Anyway, I'm up sort of early for me as I need to get outside and mow the yard before it turns into a sweat box as East Texas is prone to do.  We are winding it down though into fall (at least we got out of the 100+ heat zone), and I can dig that.  Summers here, well are uncomfortable, but it's my opinion no matter where you live in the great country there's always something to contend with, so you might as well enjoy the better parts of it, and just deal with the others.  Overall though Texas isn't too bad.  I actually joined a gym this past summer as I just wasn't getting outside to walk or get any exercise because of the heat.  And I'm glad I did.  So much better walking in an air conditioned place with fifteen screens of TV to look at and listen too thru some earbuds, and all sort of cool workout equipment. 

Anyhow, here are how two critics rank Woody Allens 47 films.  That's a lot.  I know Woody has his detractors for one reason or the other.  You can hardly be popular in the public eye without detractors no matter who you are.  Odd times.  Here's the list.

Let's see, been watching a bunch of Vlogs and stuff still on Youtube.  What a great resource of fun and if you're a collector of media or things like books, comics, music, vinyl, and anything like that you can probably find like-minded people on it.   I've been listening to some of the Book videos.  I haven't found one that totally suits my every need, but that's why I watch more than one, for the differences of opinions. 

Here's one by a Steve Donoghue, and I like him as, for one, he's older and more articulate than the average tuber.   He already has many videos, so I've got an ample supply of things to watch, yay me!
You can start to watch his videos anywhere you like, just click on his hyperlink name which will link you to his other videos, but here's a starter where he rates the book site, Good Reads.

So what's out there for the armchair Sci Fi fan you ask?  Well, I've been wondering that myself, and I can't say I've totally found one that bowls me over yet, although I think I may have found a sweet one.  I was perusing i09 for some of my Sci Fi interest, but I don't care for their smarmy attitude, nor that they can hardly post anything with someone lobbing the F bomb or some other silly shenanigans.
Are you familiar with writer, Connie Willis?  Well, I ran across this podcast with her on it.  I started reading or became familiar with her via Writer's Digest where she had a little column.  I've never read anything by her, but it's on the back burner list of my mind, hum, I wonder if that's like the windmills of my mind?  Well, never mind that,  check it out the Coode Street Podcast.  

 If Coode Street Podcast doesn't float your boat, you might check out, Tor.com  or sffworld.com.  Those are pretty good resources as well.   Also Omni has a pretty good site too.  For stories there's also 365tomorrows.com too. 

Anyway if you have a fave, post it in the comments.  I gotta mow.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Miyazaki Influenced Music

Man, time escapes me.  It seems I spent the better part of last week trying to get a Weed Eater working again, and buying parts, etc.  I've also been looking for a replacement, but nothing really strikes me yet.  I might end up buying a electric edger or something like that.  I still may try and get the current edger/ weed eater running, and I've even toyed with the idea of getting it fixed.  Decisions, decisions.  The thing is for probably what someone would charge me to work on the Weed Eater, I could probably buy a new one.  So I might just do that.

The above album artwork is to a new album, Ears, by a new synthesizer musician, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith.  I think it is quite lovely, and really depicts the music that she has created.  It's preformed all on synthesizer and you'd expect perhaps it to be cold and sterile, but actually it's quite lush.  She does a little singing on it as well, but again, not what one would normally expect.  It's closer to maybe a phonetic style of singing and less lyrics oriented.   She states about the album, "Gestures echo the musical tropes used by early minimalist composers, the world she creates on EARS is uniquely hypnotic and full of life, not unlike Miyzaki's film Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, which she cites as an inspiration."   I can hear some of that.   Whenever I hear the music I also am reminded of some of those comic characters like Prince Namor, the Sub Mariner or Aquaman that had under the sea adventures and kingdoms.   It's a pleasant surprise.

 I've also been a Tangerine Dream fan for many years.  I think the first album I picked up by them was Phaedra, and then Rubycon.  Those are still favorites, among many of their others.  But lately I've been listening to Zeit.  It's a dark, space album that starts out the album with four celloist.  It's not something you'd expect from a synthesizer band.  I remember the first time I listened to it after I'd already bought Phaedra and Rubycon, and it totally took me by surprise.   I didn't know what to make of it, no less that first track takes up a whole entire side.  It's rather brooding and dark, and the synth doesn't really become predominate until the second disc (on vinyl, it's a two-disc set).   But now in hindsight, it's a very avant-garde thing to do.  That cover, by the way, depicts a solar eclipse.  It's a classic.

Movie-wise, I watched an odd, creepy documentary last night called, Cropsey.  It was about some children that were murdered and missing up in the Long Island area back in the mid-80s.  I don't recall that incident on the news, although it may have been, I just don't recall it.  It's a rather dark, documentary, but sort of interesting on some level.  It also talks about the mental hospital in that area, and raises the speculation about one of the workers and how he may have committed the murders.  He certainly looked the part, but looks alone should not convict a person of a crime.   The subject matter of the film probably won't be to everyone's taste, but I tend to like documentaries anyway.
I also recently watched the older anime, The Dagger of Kamui (1985), and enjoyed it pretty much.  I've heard it described as a treasure hunt, but I think it's more than that.  I think someone described the plot as a treasure hunt because the main character, Kamui, goes on a journey to find out who murdered his foster mother and sister.  At the same time, it's also about the growth of the main character from boyhood or teen into manhood, and his discovering that the world is not always as it seems.  Even though it's an older anime, the art in it was very well done and eye-catching.  The colors sometimes bathe the flashback sequences in a hallucinatory, dreamlike way.  His journey finally takes him to Russia and then America, along the way meeting many people.  It's quite an emotional story in parts, and worth a watch.

A couple of other films I caught recently are:  Cobra--a Sly Stallone action flick. If you haven't watched it before it's okay and worth a watch once.  It's not a great movie when compared to some of his other more well known movies, like Rocky, Rambo, and others, but for a B-movie, it's watchable if a little silly.

I used to watch the Dark Shadows series when they were showing them on the SciFi  Channel, sometime back in the 90s (you know back when they were good), and started re-watching them again via Netflix. There's something about the Gothic atmosphere I really enjoy, although I'm not sure what modern audiences and teens would think of them now.   For me though I can still enjoy them.  It has a great cast that works well together.  It was a soap opera, so the story plots move pretty slowly.  What can I say, I like them. 

Also I've been watching the Game of Thrones series five episodes. This series just keeps staying interesting for me, and you never know where it's going, which I love.  That's probably why so many fans of the show enjoy it as well.  It's an adult take on fantasy, and sometimes I think they may go a bit overboard with the sexual situations or violent depictions.  But it's not a program for kids though, and overall I've enjoyed it a great deal.

Fantastic Planet--the Czech/French animation. Hadn't seen it in a while, but it is still amazing  cerebral for an animation.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

10 Must Read 50s SF Books

I'll admit I've been a lazy toady lately.  I blame the heat.  But also I've spent the past week doing a few domestic things as well that I won't bore you with, plus I still need to continue weeding my flower beds which is totally out of control.   We really need a good rain, but the forecast isn't predicting any.  I noticed some brown spots in my yard, and turned on the auto sprinkler system, but it didn't seem to be working properly, so had to look into that.  I finally, finally figured out what was wrong with it by Googling (thank you Google, computers are awesome) the brand I have with is a Hunter Pro C.   Somehow it was programmed for an interval run, and I don't even know what that is, but it was.  So I changed it to regular run and reprogrammed it all over again.  It works now, huzzah!  Yay me!
I was in Walmart the other day and noticed they came out with a new 50th Anniversary edition of  Star Trek: TOS remastered and in spiffy new packaging.  They had all three seasons, but I only needed Season 2 for my collection.  They were around $15. a pop, which I thought was reasonable so picked it up.  Season 2 comes with all 26 remastered episodes, and Billy Blackburn's Treasure Chest:  Rare home movies and Special Memories Part 2, the More Tribbles, More Trouble episode from the Trek Animated series, and Trials and Tribble-ations from the Deep Space Nine episode.  So I splurged.  It would be nice to have the other Trek: TOS series like this too, but I'm okay with what I've got.  The First Season I have is just like it was broadcast, without the remastering, but I'm old enough to watch and remember the older show and effects.

Aside from that I've been binge-watching the Game of Thrones Season 5 from Netflix, which is still an amazing series.  I bought one of those Roku stick devices as a friend told me about the Pluto Channel (which actually you can watch on the web, but I prefer to streamed it on my TV).  The Pluto Channel has various programming for a geek like me.  It has retro SF movies, cartoons, a MST3K streaming channel and other things.  I caught the movies Godzilla Revenge aka Attack All Monsters last weekend off of it, and watched a bit of G. I. Blues with Elvis Presley last night among a few other things.

I also have been binge watching Dark Shadows.   I was not the kid that ran home from school to watch the program, if so I might have been a marathon runner as my house was pretty far from the high school I went to.  Aside from that during '66 I got a paper route.  A kid in the neighborhood told me he was quitting and asked me if I wanted to do it.  I asked my parents and they agreed, so I became an entrepreneur.  My first job aside from mowing lawns.  My parents never gave us an allowance, but they'd let us go see movies, and provided us adequately with clothes, an education and the necessities of life.  I had great parents.  But for the other stuff like music and the additional clothes and the whatevers of life that I wanted, I bought them by working.  So I didn't watch Dark Shadows in the afternoons, I was out delivering newspapers, and by and large I enjoyed that.

I didn't discover Dark Shadows until the SciFi Channel started showing them on TV around the 90s (you know, back when they were a good channel).   It was cool.  They showed old Tom Baker,  Dr. Who episodes, The Prisoner, Time Tunnel, anime I never heard of or seen before, and other SF programming that I'd long forgotten about or never knew of.  WTF happened!!?  Now they are a horrible channel with lousy movies and series.  Sharkcraboctopuss, fuhgeddaboutit!

Anyway for a while in the 90s they showed Dark Shadows, and although they only showed maybe a half year's season or so, it drew me in the Gothic soap opera and characters.  I can see how others got hooked.  When I started re-watching them again, I got hooked all over again.  I'm sure I'll save watching many episodes of this series for the fall and winter and for around Halloween.

Anyway ran across this list of the 10 Must Read Science Fiction Books From the 1950s.  They had Tiger Tiger on it, or better known as The Stars My Destination from Alfred Bester, which I loved reading.  It's a SF revenge tale about a guy left for dead stranded in space.  The main character, Gully Foyle, makes it back to earth and then it's time for whoop ass.  Pretty good novel.  Some of the books on that list I have not read, but might have to add them to my "must read" ever growing list.  Sigh.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Best Animated & SF Films

I ran across this today and thought I'd share.  I can pretty much agree with it, though I might rank the animated films a bit differently if at all.  In fact I'd have a hard time ranking them due to my mood for which ever day I might view them.  What I will say is that it's a good list, and I haven't seen everything on it yet either.  I do like #5 and #7 a lot.  I like Kung Fu Panda a lot too and How To Train Your Dragon.  I probably would have Big Hero 6 on my personal list along with Howl's Moving Castle, and probably Shrek.   I think they were going  more diversification, and that's cool.    Here's the list.  
The same is true for their SF list.  I haven't seen them all, but I've seen a great many of them.  Most of them I agree with, some aren't my cup of tea, but that's par normal.  I've seen the movie Monsters, and it's low budget, I guess they did it fairly, but it was a bit forgettable as are a few others.   That's the way that most list go, however, I commend them for making both list, and generally agree with them.  Here's the SF list. 

Friday, July 15, 2016

Raumschiff Orion

I don't know much at all about this obscure German SF series other than it was made in 1966 and lasted only 7 episodes and are around an hour in length.  I've not watched it yet either as I just ran across it today on the web.  From what I gather, it is Germany's classic Space Opera series and launched just before Star Trek: TOS and has a similar cult status (at least in the European countries).  Produced in a serious tone with the famous German actor, Dietmar Schonherr, and then discontinued after only the one short season due to it being too costly to produce.  I've also read that today it's dated as one might surmise though for diehard SF fans cheesiness never deterred any true fan. 

IMDb says:   Commander McLane and the crew of the fast space cruiser Orion patrol Earth's outposts and colonies in space and defend humanity from the alien 'Frogs'.

The poster, Raumpilot Rudy,  who was gracious enough to post some of the episodes on Youtube  further states:  Raumpatrouille -- Die phantastischen Abenteuer des Raumschiffes Orion (literal translation: Space Patrol -- The Fantastic Adventures of the Spaceship Orion), also known as Raumpatrouille Orion, and Space Patrol Orion in English, was the first German science fiction television series. Its seven episodes were broadcast by ARD beginning 17 September 1966, six years before Star Trek first aired in West Germany (in 1972).

In the series nations no longer exist and Earth is united. Flying saucers, such as spaceship Orion, are flown by humans, whilst the aliens fly fighter jet-like contraptions. The titular ship of the series title, "Spaceship Orion", (German: "Raumschiff Orion") is portrayed as being a fast space cruiser (German: Schneller Raumkreuzer), the newest starship in mankind's fleet and the fastest spacecraft ever created by humans.

In an entertaining and ironic way the show tells the story of the American Commander Cliff Allister McLane (Dietmar Schönherr), an Earth starship captain and his loyal crew. He is Orion's commander in the developing war against an alien race called the Frogs. He is notoriously defiant towards his superiors.

 What sounds like a fairy tale today, may be tomorrow's reality. Here's a fairy tale from the day after tomorrow. There are no more nations. Only humanity and its colonies in space. Distant stars have been settled. The ocean beds are inhabited. Space ships cross the galaxy at unimaginable speeds. One such ship is the Orion. A small link in a great chain of defense against threats from space. Let's join Orion and her crew on patrol at the edges of infinity...

There are six episodes up over at Youtube.  Here's the first one, and you can find the others over there as well.  

Thursday, July 14, 2016


The photos above were taken by me.  I've turned to photography to open up a little bit more creativity in my mind.  It seems to help though I don't know completely where I'm going with it.  Still I enjoy getting out and taking photos.  The bottom photo of a doorway was altered via a Paint/Photoshop type program.  I just got two photos that were accepted into the downtown gallery here.  I'm honored to have been chosen, but I'd like to find a way to get my art outside our small town here.  I figure the more exposure the better.  I'm in the process of searching that info down on the net. 

Anyway check out the video below by a James Kalm.  I love his videos on YT.  He goes around NYC shooting his videos sort of in a gorilla-style,  commenting on technique, and whatever he might know about the artist, and so forth.  I'm surprised a bit as I didn't think galleries would allow such things, but some do apparently. 

Below is a poem I wrote:

She Waits in Colors

Picasso's daughter sits waiting
in cubist thoughts

wondering when her father will
arrive, again to fill

the staccato moments
with smells of oil and turpentine

blending the air with his laughter
and colorful tales

of bullfights dabbed red and myths
of sailors casting out their dark nets
or lost at sea.

They'll eat fruit from the wooden bowl
positioned still life on the table.

He'll kiss her forehead
and she'll go out to play. 

Picking up his brush
he'll start his new day.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Maschinen Krieger

[From Wikipedia]

Maschinen Krieger (Ma.K ZBV3000) is a science universe created by Japanese artist and sculptor Kow Yokoyama in the 1980s.

The franchise originally began as the science fiction series SF3D which ran as monthly installments in the Japanese hobby magazine Hobby Japan from 1982 to 1985. To develop the storyline, Kow Yokoyama collaborated with Hiroshi Ichimura as story editor and Kunitaka Imai as graphic designer. The three creators drew visual inspiration from their combined interest in World War I and World War II armor and aircraft, the American space program and films such as Star Wars, Blade Runner and The Road Warrior. Inspired by the ILM model builders who worked on Star Wars, Yokoyama built the original models from numerous kits including armor, aircraft, and automobiles. He mostly concentrated on powered armor suits, but later included bipedal walking tanks and aircraft with anti-gravity systems.

In 1986, there was a dispute with Hobby Japan over the copyright of the series. The magazine dropped SF3D from its line-up of articles and Nitto ceased production of various kits of the series. The matter was tied up in the courts for years until Yokoyama was awarded the full copyright to the series in the 1990s. Yokoyama and Hobby Japan eventually reconciled and restarted their working relationship, ditching the old SF3D name in favor of Maschinen Krieger ZbV3000, otherwise known as Ma.K.

 Much confusion surrounds the details of the franchise's background story, partly because the original Japanese source material has never been officially or skillfully translated.
A nuclear World War IV in 2807 kills most of Earth's population and renders the planet uninhabitable. Fifty-two years after the war, a research team from an interstellar union called the Galactic Federation is sent to Earth and discovers that the planet's natural environment has restored itself. The Federation decides to repopulate the planet and sends over colonists to the surface. Cities and towns are eventually reformed over the next 20 years, but this growth attracts the attention of criminals, military deserters, and other lawless elements who wanted to hide on Earth--away from the authorities. A few militias protect the colonists, but the new interlopers often defeat them.
Fearing civil unrest and the colonists forming their own government, the Federation gives the Strahl Democratic Republic (SDR) the right to govern the planet in the late 2870s. The SDR sends three police battalions and three Foreign Legion corps to Earth and uses heavy-handed tactics such as travel restrictions and hard labor camps to restore order, which creates resentment amongst the colonists. In response, the colonists create the Earth Independent Provisional Government and declare independence from the SDR. The SDR immediately establishes a puppet government and attempts to quell the uprising. The wealthy colonists hire mercenaries who are descendants of WWIV veterans to form the Independent Mercenary Army (IMA), which is bolstered by the presence of SDR Foreign Legion defectors. They attack the SDR forces and the battle to control Earth begins in 2882.
Over the next four years, the SDR and IMA fight each other at several locations worldwide while developing new technology along the way. The war turns up a notch in June 2883 when the IMA deploys a new weapon - the Armored Fighting Suit powered armor - to devastating effect. The SDR eventually builds their own AFS units.

In the last SF3D installment published in the December 1986 issue of Hobby Japan, the IMA successfully defeats the new SDR Königs Kröte unmanned command-and-control mecha using a computer virus that also creates a new artificial intelligence system on the moon.

Model kits:  Fan interest from the installments in Hobby Japan resulted in a small Japanese model company, Nitto, securing the license and quickly released 21 injection molded kits from the series during its entire run in the magazine. Most of the Nitto model kits are in 1:20 scale, while others were made in 1:76 and 1:6 scale. Production of the kits stopped with the end of the Hobby Japan features in 1986, but Nitto reissued many of the original kits under the Maschinen Krieger name, albeit with new decals and box art. Some of the original Nitto kits such as the Krachenvogel are highly sought after by collectors. The Nitto models were also the basis for similar offerings from Japanese model companies Wave and ModelKasten. Wave, in particular, is currently producing original-tooled kits of various subjects in the franchise, such as the Armored Fighting Suits powered armor. Smaller companies such as Brick Works and Love Love Garden have made limited resin pilot figures to go with these model kits.

The Film: 
Yokoyama collaborated with Tsuburaya Productions to create a live-action SF3D film using miniatures in 1985. Directed by Shinichi Ohoka from a script penned by co-producer Hisao Ichikura, the 25-minute SF3D Original Video opens with wreckage left from a battle in the Australian desert on Christmas Day 2884 before focusing on a badly damaged IMA SAFS unit. The pilot, Cpl Robert Bush (Tristan Hickey), who is still alive, seeks to get his armored suit back and running and leave the battle area, which is under heavy jamming. Seeing two of the SDR's new Nutrocker (Nutcracker) robot hovertanks arrive nearby, Bush tries to hide, but bodily functions give him away. One Nutcracker gives chase and the SAFS AI points out to Bush how to defeat it. He eventually clambers on to the tank, which passes through the rubble of a town and randomly shoots at high places to bring down objects that could snag him. With the SAFS' right arm sheared off by the Nutcracker's laser blasts and snow settling in, Bush is knocked unconscious all night long from the fall while the tank breaks down under the cold. The next day, the SAFS AI wakes up Bush because the Nutcracker is active again and is preparing to kill him. Bush gets up and faces the tank as it charges towards him. However, the Nutcracker gets too close to a cliff that buckles under its weight and Bush fires his laser into the tank's underbelly. The tank plunges into a ravine and explodes. Bush walks away and reestablishes radio contact with his base. It is revealed that the battle was a field test of the SAFS, Bush's machine being the only survivor out of four deployed that day.

After the end credits roll, two other Nutcrackers arrive at the scene of the battle.

I couldn't find the video to paste it here, but if interested in watching the video, go here. 

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Our World Grows Smaller

Our world grows a little smaller each day, but as the comedian, Stephen Wright, has said, "It's a small world, but I wouldn't want to paint it."  I bought a cheap Kindle Fire the other day at Amazon, for $50.  I didn't want to get anything expensive as I didn't really know what all they did, and didn't know if I'd use it much, so that was about the right price point for me.  I've checked out many of its features though, and it's a pretty neat device.  You can listen to music, play games, watch movies, access the web through the Silk Browser, shoot photos with the built-in camera, read, and it's pretty handy for all that.

If you are reading in bed or dim lighting it lights up so it makes it easier to read, and automatically bookmarks pages for you, so you can pick right up where you left off, there's a function that will allow audio reading, and another function that will train you to read faster if that's one of your goals.  All in all it's a pretty diverse and handy device, and it's one of those devices that as time goes on, I suspect will upgrade itself and get better and better.  That would be great as well.   One of the small cons right now is the battery life, which if you do much on it the battery only last about a day and needs recharging, but like I said, give it a few more years, and they'll probably find ways to extend that as well.

One of the other advantages to an eReader is that you can find a lot of books for free, granted not everything, but there's plenty.  Plus Amazon has a lot of cheap deals as well for a buck or not much money.  Also many libraries will allow you to read their ebooks if you are a member.  I wish there was a web library for things of that nature.  I don't know why there isn't one.  Why would I have to be a member of a specific local library, when they give you two or three weeks to read an ebook, and then you can re-check it out, or it disappears off the device?  Doesn't make a lot of sense to me.  I don't know how that type thing works, but my guess is the local library doesn't physically do anything to make the books appear or vanish.  So I don't know.

Anyway even if you don't have an ebook, you can read a lot of stuff online with just a computer connection.  Openculture.com has a lot of free books, movies, and other things.  Here's a link to one of them that has free art books.   And here's another one that has some classic literature.
They also got some audio books here.  Some of those links on those sites may turn up dead or don't work, but if you search about a bit you can probably find what you're looking for.

If music is more your thing, like it is mine, here's a couple of my favorite web radio stations:

If you like jazz, check out AccuRadio.com. 

If you like progressive rock, check out AuralMoon.com 

If you like a mixture of different type thing, but particularly electronic, space music, New Age, jazz, and that type thing, check out SomaFM.com.    

If none of that appeals to you there's always Spotify, Pandora, etc.

The other night I watched Michael Moore's new documentary, Where to Invade Next.  I know Moore's a rather polarizing figure, particularly if you lean to the right end of politics.  But I think this might be one of  his more moderate, politically leaning film.  It was not what I expected.

I expected it to be some sort of criticism on how the US always seems to be stirring up the pot by waging war all the time, but it was not.  Rather what Moore does here is visit or invade other countries to see what he considers good ideas or ways of life that might be brought back to America and considered.  He's not saying we can or should do everything that he at or America sucks or even whether or not that they would work, as he says in the film, "I'm picking flowers here, not weeds."

One of the first places he visits is Italy.  He investigates how their people get way more time off than Americans, unbelievably more.  Also how their companies don't mind sharing more of their profits to the workers because let's face it, they would not be in the position they are in without them.  He goes to France, Germany, Sweden, and a few other places, and within each little segment he reveals a little eye opener, at least for me.  I think a lot of people see Moore as a gadfly or left wing commie, but I enjoy his films because at least they make you think, and he sides with the middle class.  Perhaps there are better ways to do things than the status quo, and if you can change things to benefit everyone's lives, why  not do it?  Does that mean that change will create  nirvana, no not likely.  Life will always have its ups and downs.  Does it mean with change, you might have to sacrifice something else somewhere else, probably...  more than likely.  But if you change something, and it doesn't work out that doesn't mean you can't change it back or change it another way to improve it.

I also liked that he included a bit more humor in this film, which seemed to go back to his first film, Roger & Me.  All in all it was good documentary, one of his better ones, and offered food for thought. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

King and George R R Martin

I really don't think any introductions are needed for these next two gentlemen.  I thought I'd post it because a few others might be fans of either or both Stephen King and George R R Martin.  As for me I enjoy them both, although I've not read any of Martin's books.  However, I have his first Game of Thrones book, and I'm a huge fan of the show.  I've got Season 5 ready to queue up on my Netflix and I've avoided all the spoilers as much as possible.  So I'll be diving into that later on this week.

I've not seen either of the videos I'm putting up as they are fairly new, so whether they are great to watch or a rehash of something else, I'm as just as in the dark as anyone.  But I'm going to put them both up in case you're as interested as I am.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Dr. Who Saturday

Last night I watched a Doctor Who episode, Revenge of the Cybermen.  I had seen it before, but had forgotten some of the story because it's a pretty convoluted episode so it's worth seeing more than once.  Actually many of the Doctor Who episodes are that way for various reasons.

It has Tom Baker playing the doctor in it along with Sarah Jane Smith (Elizabeth Sladen) as his companion and Lieutenant Harry Sullivan (Ian Marter).  It was one of those episodes that was recorded back-to-back with the previous episode, The Ark in Space, and  uses some of the same sets for both episodes.  However, with Revenge of the Cybermen they also use a pretty interesting cave-like setting that is supposed to be the inside of an asteroid called Voga.  (The scenes were actually filmed at a place in the UK known as Wookey Hole.  Gotta love that name.)
It concerns a plague or so the crew members think that has infected their space station called Nerva, and it has killed off nearly all their crew.  They are quarantined from most of the station.  The doctor and crew have materialized there awaiting the return of the TARDIS by the way of a wrist band gizmo. 

One of the crew members aboard the  station is a traitor, which you learn pretty early on, and he is seeking the gold inside the asteroid along with parts of an alien race that have mined Voga which he has teamed up with known as the Guardians.  Both have forged a secret alliance for their own gains.  The Cybermen want the asteroid destroyed as gold it contains mucks up their breathing apparatus and kills them.  So essentially the Cybermen want to destroy it. 

Eventually the crew members aboard the Nerva station find out the traitor, and find out that the doctor and crew are really the good guys, however, of course, the crew gets separated and part of the  story deals with that, part deal with thwarting the Cybermen, part of it is dealing with the Guardians, also part is trying to prevent them from blowing up Voga, and so on.  It was a fun episode.

Oh, and while on the subject of Doctor Who I found a Doctor Who Podcast Alliance, which collects podcast on the series for those interested in that.  Check it out here.  

Before the Doctor Who episode, however, our PBS station out of Dallas has started broadcasting the BBC series, Life On Mars.  A few years ago I caught the sequel series to this, Ashes to Ashes, partly because it had certain time travel tropes in it, and partly because the main actress playing one of the main leads was so attractive and the cast seemed to mesh so well together that it hooked me.  I was curious about the original series, but never got around to watching it.

Both take place around 1973, and in both iirc, the two leads get sent back to the past by way of a coma/concussion.  I know it sounds odd, but it works.  It is really a detective series with some speculative time travel things thrown into it, but it makes for a compelling series to watch.   The series deals with the main character feeling like a fish out of water, and wanting someone to get him a cell phone, and of course the people around him go "Huh?"  because it has not been invented yet, and neither has the more modern forensic sciences, or computers, and what-have-you.  Along with the character trying to adjust to this new world and wondering if it's a dream or he's gone crazy, you (as a viewer) also remember (if you were alive then) all the things that were hip or in vogue at that time during the 70s like record shops, the clothing, the culture, and the like.  Plus another interesting bonus is the soundtrack to the series as they play music from that era as well, which for me is a lot of fun.

At any rate, this double feature back to back showing of Life On Mars and Doctor Who with Tom Baker has a rather winning SF Saturday lineup.  Plus before all that Star Trek: TOS shows just before they start.  So if you're a couch potato on Saturdays like me, it's all good.

Today while trolling the web I ran into some little videos on YT called Bad Days.  They are similar to something like the animation on Robot Chicken, but maybe not quite as cutting edge.  The one below is about Doctor Who, but they have them on other pop culture like Planet of the Apes, super heroes,  TV shows, and the like.