Monday, July 30, 2007

Comic-Con: Indiana Jones Cast

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How I survived Comic-Con 2007

I may be getting too old for Comic-Con. My friend Steve, too. But we had the time of our lives the past five days, shuffling the length of the San Diego Convention Center over and over with tens of thousands of other geeks at a pace somewhat slower than Spidey’s Aunt May crawling over broken glass. I saw Stan Lee promote his SciFi Channel series. I saw F. Paul Wilson, David Morrell, Cory Doctorow, Vernor Vinge, and George Romero. I saw Clive Owens market his new movie Shoot ’Em Up, which may feature the greatest gunplay sequences ever. Extra special treats were seeing J. Michael Straczynski, Bruce Boxleitner, Tracy Scoggins, and Peter Woodward from Babylon 5 discuss their direct-to-DVD Lost Tales project; watching a wonderful panel made up of folks from CBS’s resurrected Jericho, who were understandably very appreciative of their fans; seeing the great Jeffrey Combs, who will forever be Herbert West to me; and sitting in on the world premieres of two upcoming direct-to-DVD animated movies, Bruce Timm’s Superman Doomsday, from Warner Bros. Home Video, and Doctor Strange, from Lionsgate and Marvel Studios. Big thanks to Lynn for introducing us to Peter Mayhew (you know, Chewbacca) and getting us VIP passes to see the Saturday night masquerade.

Steve and I both came home with treasures won in drawings. Steve won a fabulous, limited edition, 19-inch, 12-pound, collectible figure of Star Wars bounty hunter Boba Fett, which retails (when it’s available) for $325. Pretty damn cool. I, on the other hand, won a pair of men’s white cotton briefs with the Balls of Fury movie logo stenciled on the front, worth, oh, maybe three bucks.

More to come in the week ahead.

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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

South Park Wally: off to Comic-Con 2007

As Cartman would say, the resemblance is friggin' uncanny. Create your own South Park image here. Hat tip to Brad Spangler.

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Saturday, July 21, 2007

To the moon, Alice!

On his blog, sci-fi author John Scalzi (Old Man’s War, The Last Colony) reminds us that yesterday marked the 38th anniversary of the first moon landing. Writes Scalzi:

38 damn years, people. There ought to be a Starbucks up on the moon by now, and a bunch of tourists experiencing the challenge of sipping a vente latte in one sixth G.”

And there would be, John, if government didn’t have a monopoly on space exploration.

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Friday, July 20, 2007

Strange tales from a savage era

I couldn’t help it. I jumped on the Hunter S. Thompson bandwagon back in high school, when Jann Wenner was serializing Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas in Rolling Stone. And I’ve read almost every damn word the Doctor of Gonzo Journalism penned in more than four angst-ridden decades. So when I spotted this new memoir by illustrator Ralph Steadman about his difficult 35-year partnership with Thompson, I just couldn’t resist. I bought it Monday and gobbled it all up by Wednesday.

For HST fans — even those, like me, who don’t think he wrote anything of value after 1983’s Curse of Lono and, in fact, think books like Songs of the Doomed and Better Than Sex were, well, execrable — this book is essential reading. The Joke’s Over is really quite wonderful, and very frank, very honest. From their first assignment for Scanlan’s in 1970 to Thompson’s suicide two years ago, Steadman seems to hold nothing back, including the bitterness he often felt over his one-sided friendship with Dr. Gonzo. The book only irritates when Steadman periodically tries to imitate, poorly, the Thompson writing style in telling his version of the notorious escapade at the Kentucky Derby, for example, or the days in Hollywood during the filming of the unfortunate Where the Buffalo Roam. But I can forgive Steadman for that; hell, after reading Las Vegas for the first time, most of my student writings were punctuated for months by gonzo-inspired jargon.

It’s quite possible, I think, that Hunter Thompson would never have climbed to the literary heights he did without the accompaniment of Ralph Steadman’s drawings. Certainly, it was the unforgettable work of Steadman that drew me to that notorious issue of Rolling Stone in which the first installment of Fear and Loathing appeared in November 1971. So who better to tell the savage, excruciating tale than Steadman himself? No one.

I highly recommend The Joke's Over.

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

For students of LeGuin

A nice study guide for Ursula K. LeGuin's 1974 classic anarchist sci-fi novel The Dispossessed is now available online right here. I may have to launch an anarcho-fiction reading club one of these days.

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Cooper and Neal: catch the fever!

While I’m on the subject of Ayn Rand, which I was yesterday, I should mention that I found the recent DVD release of 1948’s The Fountainhead, starring Patricia Neal and Gary Cooper, at Costco for just ten bucks. I’ve always had a fondness for that movie, so I couldn’t pass it up. The film transfer is very good, and the movie is great fun to watch. The disc is pretty barebones, though, its only extras being the old trailer and a short making-of documentary prepared, it seems, under the auspices of Leonard Peikoff. Not a bad documentary, really, but I’d rather hear the Rand vs. King Vidor story told without Peikoff looking over my shoulder.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Why Objectivists support the war in Iraq

I’ve been listening to an audio edition of Ayn Rand’s The Virtue of Selfishness during some of my drive time, and I came across the following this afternoon. It’s as succinct an example of Randian foreign policy as one could hope to find. And it’s certainly one of the reasons I’ve never considered myself an Objectivist.

“Dictatorship nations are outlaws. Any free nation had the right to invade Nazi Germany and, today, has the right to invade Soviet Russia, Cuba or any other slave-pen. Whether a free nation chooses to do so or not is a matter of its own self-interest, not of respect for the non-existent ‘rights’ of gang-rulers. It is not a free nation’s duty to liberate other nations at the price of self-sacrifice, but a free nation has a right to do it, when and if it so chooses.”

— “Collectivized ‘Rights’,” Objectivist Newsletter, June 1963

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Popular mechanics

I caught up with Transformers last night, and I recommend it for three very big reasons. First, of course, it has lots of very cool, freakin' giant robots. Second, it features a young woman named Megan Fox, who steals every scene she's in, for all the obvious reasons. And finally, the movie has a fantastic sense of humor. All the government bureaucrats and "secret operatives" are, as you'd expect, bumbling and ridiculous, right down (or up) to the Dubya voice impersonator. But my biggest laugh-out-loud moment came when the camera zoomed in on an evil Transformer that was posing as a police car. Written along its fender were the words "To Punish and Enslave."

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Friday, July 13, 2007

Re: evil clowns

Regarding my fear and hatred of clowns, Roderick T. Long has reminded me of this poignant fact...


Bring in the clowns...

Two more reasons clowns scare the pants off me.

Tim Curry from the It TV miniseries

John Leguizamo from the Spawn movie


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

I really hate clowns

Our home is going through a semi-major remodel. By “semi-major,” I mean that we’re not tearing down or “popping out” walls or adding rooms, but every room in the house is being touched in one way or another, a couple getting full overhauls. The whole job, we’re told, will take 3-4 months. We’re just a month into the process. And we’re trying to live here somewhat comfortably (with one oversized dog) while all the remodeling is going on. Crazy times.

So here’s what’s been happening: Debbie and I are frantically working ahead of the contractors, cleaning out rooms, packing stuff up for sale or charity, and shuffling furniture about. And we’ve come across some interesting items that I didn’t even know I had.

Yesterday afternoon, Deb opened a box and found two paintings of clowns that hung on my bedroom wall, oh, 45 years ago, when I was a widdle kid.

Clowns scare the shit outta me. Always have. A dear friend of mine unthinkingly hired a clown named Kerplunk for my 40th birthday a few years back. It took them an hour to tear me off the wall, drunk as I was.

I wish I could reproduce those paintings here, but the damn things don’t fit on my scanner. So I’ve done the next best thing — found a couple of freakin’ clown paintings online that I feel are approximately as hideous and terrifying as the clowns we discovered in that box yesterday.

Stop laughing, you sadistic bastards. This isn’t funny.

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Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Ringing the bell for Liberty


Monday, July 02, 2007

Yes, it's elementary!

[Cross-posted at The Sudden Curve]

For more than 20 years, I’ve had this vintage, full-page, 1946 magazine advertisement for Chesterfield Cigarettes framed and hanging on a wall in my home office. Since I’m a hardcore Sherlockian, my original motive in buying it at an antique show was, well, it’s friggin’ Basil Rathbone fer crissakes, and the ad even refers to Universal Pictures’ then-new Sherlock Holmes movie, Dressed to Kill. But as the years have passed, and smoking becomes more and more “forbidden,” the advertisement’s taken on a special glamour that really appeals to me. I love it. And no, it’s not for sale.

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Happy Independence Day!

America’s independence was declared by the Continental Congress on this day 231 years ago. In a letter written to his wife Abigail on July 3, 1776, John Adams wrote that “the Second of July, 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. I am apt to believe it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival.”

You missed it by two days, John. July 4, the day the Declaration of Independence was officially adopted, was destined of course to become the national holiday. So the document announcing independence has taken the limelight away the event itself. And considering what a monumental, radical document it still is, maybe that’s not such a bad thing.


Sunday, July 01, 2007

If I ran my own private postal service...

I'd offer cool stamps like these.

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