chronovore: (Default)
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou: I've started watching this movie twice, and haven't been able to finish it yet. The first time, I started the movie quite late and its peaceful, surreal, melancholy world proved too much a soporific. The second time, it had that effect on my wife, though I was enjoying it and wide awake. She just could not parse the humor. My explanation of "Well, to Americans... some Americans, this is quite funny" did not hold water, so to speak. Next time I'll try to watch it alone, possibly with some Portuguese beer and wearing a red toque. "ESTEBAN! ESTEBAN!"

A Beautiful Mind: I watched this on a plane twice and was really impressed. Ron Howard can not make a bad film to save his life; I've been a fan since Coccoon, and I even liked How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Acting is top notch, understated and believable throughout the entire film, without an excess of emotionally manipulative schmaltz. Ed Harris is perfectly cast, and it is always amazing to see the actress Jennifer Connelly became despite her atrocious beginning in Labyrinth. What was she, 14 at that time? I'd be pissed if people judged my art based on what I could churn out at 14, so I should cut her some slack. More than anything else, I'm entranced by the film's ability to induce empathy for a sufferer of schizophrenia. What it comes down to is that we're all broken in some way, and it's just part of what we are, and how we do what we do. In John Nash's case, he's both more broken and more gifted.

And the film does a lot better on a nice TV than watching on a 5" screen with minimal contrast and color depth.

Also watched through ep. 7 of Burn Notice season 2 (still fun), and the first 4 episodes of Warehouse 13 which I'm hoping picks up, because the setting and gadgets are really fun. It's X-Files meets Indiana Jones, or at least the OSS guys from the end of Raiders. The producers should be hiring Ken Hite (
[livejournal.com profile] princeofcairo ) to spruce up their doo-dads and science hokum. Then again, I think Ken Hite should be hired to spiff up the Tomb Raider storyline as well, which I've got top men working on right now. Top. Men.

Saturday

Aug. 24th, 2008 11:56 am
chronovore: (OMFG)
Yesterday was interesting:
Had lunch with The Wife's nursing students, as a kind of English conversation salon. It was fun; we have a local teppanyaki wine bar that's really a nice, relaxing place for hanging out. It went well but the aircon was hard-pressed to deal with the body heat and teppan heat while prepping food for 18 people. Never seen my son look quite so overwhelmed; he was acting really shy at first, because he probably couldn't decide who to try and charm first; a couple of the ladiez were incredibly pretty. Like, "if these two show up in a nursing outfit, I'd be expecting a porn bass-riff to start immediately." Va-va-voom. The boy eventually got over his reticence and dragged one of them out for a walk, little Casanova.

While we ate, we got to see the crowd headed for Daicon 7 at Namikili Hall. The restaurant's on the main drag between the train station and the hall. Lots of arrested development geeks, surprising me how much the geeks/nerds/SF dorks in the USA have in common with the ones in Japan.

After lunch we split up; my friend Jeremy from NZ and I went to check out the Con, and were suprised to find out it cost 13,000 yen to get in! We opted for a coffee at Starbucks and I checked the local movie times. Star Wars: The Clone Wars CG movie is playing, and I was determined to see it on the big screen. I went back and checked to make sure the pricing thing was correct, and lo and behond, it was actually FREE to get into the dealer's room and the 2nd floor galleries.

We checked the dealer room, which was tiny and pretty sad, like... really sadly lacking in anything. If I had been a fan of the fanfic manga, limited release DVD or CG-manga scene, I might have been excited to meet some heavy players in that scene, but it just isn't my thing. Then at one corner I saw some stuff from FEWTURE MODELS, with work by Yasushi Nirasawa, one of my HEROES.

On closer inspection, it turned out there was a book signing by him at 14:30, less than 7 minutes from that moment! I bought a book voucher and a t-shirt and headed up to the signing. I was the only foreigner there, and pretty much stood out readily. He greeted me in rough English, and I talked about how his stuff has been an inspiration. He looked stunned that he has had a foreigner fan for more than 10 years, since I got in with CREATURE CORE some 13 years ago. I asked him to push for a reprint, since I left my copy with Jeff Wilcox as a present prior to coming to Japan (thinking I'd be easily able to replace it). He also came up with a neat way of signing my T-shirt and book, and thanked me for the support. Daicon went from being a zip-bupkiss experience to being EPIC!

I'll post separately about Star Wars.
chronovore: (mouthy)
Charlie's Diary: Bechdel's Law:
Alison Bechdel, cartoonist and author of Dykes to Watch Out For, has an interesting observation on movies — a little test she applies to them. It's a very short checklist, viz:

1. Does it have at least two women in it,

2. Who [at some point] talk to each other,

3. About something besides a man.

I bring this up as a point of interest, because of what it says about the blind spots of popular entertainment. Most Hollywood movies fail this test; if you extend #3 only slightly, to read "About something besides men or marriage or babies", you can strike out about 50% of the small proportion of mass-entertainment movies that do otherwise seem to pass the test.
chronovore: (OMFG)
It appears that DaiCon 7, an international science fiction convention, will be held at Namikili Hall near my home in Kishiwada, Osaka over Saturday and Sunday (Aug. 23~24).

If any of y'all are planning on attending, drop me a line here or in email.
chronovore: (OMFG)
Tor.com / Science fiction and fantasy / Blog posts / Freebies Bonanza: a bunch of full books in various non-DRM'd formats, and bunches of wonderful fantasy art desktops are available for a limited time at Tor. Wow. Thanks [livejournal.com profile] theothermichael!
chronovore: (Default)
Dear Lazyweb,

I recently heard about an SF novel where humans and aliens come into contact; at first it appears that the aliens are intelligent / sentient, but it becomes apparent that they are not. Apparently the point is that intelligence is not necessarily a prerequisite for survival or evolutionary superiority.

Can anyone tell me what this book is? I want to read it.
chronovore: (Default)
I've watched the premiere and Ep. 2, and am about 15 minutes into Ep. 3. There are hints of greatness - I see the outline of the "what does it mean to be human?" philosophical question, and plenty of riffs on "we are what we make ourselves to be" as well as "you might not choose your situation, but you can choose to react to it well or poorly." But in the first two episodes, it has been just hints.

I want it to continue, but it feels like it's going to be canceled. They need to maintain a little more consistency, and maybe edit it so it doesn't feel like it's jumping. There are a couple things in each episode which are just announced, and it feels like there is a scene missing in those cases. And as much as the younger sister is rocking the Katie-Holmes-before-she-drank-the-Cruise-juice look, the show might be a lot better if they just WHACKED her out of nowhere and gave Jaime a big shove toward questioning her life's stance.
chronovore: (Default)
Other People's Money @ Forbes.com:
He went for the fish first. Its scales were individual slices from the skins of old Nokia phones–back when it was just Nokia, not Marvel Comics Mobile–each articulated on its own little sprig of memory wire. The gills were scuffed iPod backings, the logos just recognizable under the fog of scratches. The eyes bore HP and PlayStation logos, respectively, and the lips were made from inner-tube strips that bore the smallest recognizable logomarks. As he lifted it, it settled into his hand, arching back to find his thumb and palm, nestling in there.

“It’ll work like an old-time phone,” she said. “It’ll even do a little lookup from old-style exchange numbers to different identity registers and try to get you a voice-call with someone.”

“Do people really do that?”

“Some do. Most just want it for the object-ness of it. It’s got a lot of emotion.” The scuffs, that’s what did it. They were like stories, those scratches, each one a memento mori for some long-dead instant in some stranger’s life.
[Cory Doctorow]
chronovore: (OMFG)
Via the 1UP newsletter: Pretty damned neat. I like the effects - I wonder how they're matching their CG effects shakycam with their actual real-life shakycam. Are the home-tools for that stuff this advanced and easy to come by now? Probably easier to come by than the explosives they used...
chronovore: (mouthy)
Travelers Tales, makers of the Star Wars Lego games is currently working on Lego Indiana Jones. Though those games were quite fun, I found myself playing largely to complete the game, not just for the joy of it. In the end, I was unable to convince myself to play through each level enough times to get all of the Xbox Live Achievements.

In the end, it turns out to have been a fairly simple miss - in trying to make a game which plays identically on any of its many platforms, they failed to take advantage of the features which are specific and beneficial on particular platforms. The Load Game dialog is suspiciously similar to the Playstation 2's process, which fails then to account for the possibility -no, probability- that a consistent data storage unit will be present and tied to the logged in user's account. Every boot-up, instead of referring to the User Account's save data instead makes you locate the storage unit, then select the Save Data file, then confirm that you really want that Save Data... Does anyone really accidentally load the wrong Save Data file? The Achievements in the game are really lazily implemented - instead of tying in to a number of different stats that are already tracked in the game, it instead tracks whether or not you've died during completion of a level; a fact which is entirely de-emphasized in regular play, and nearly impossible unless you've got the reflexes of a 12-year-old who's hopped up on a brick of Hershey's and mainlining NoDoz through a nasal tap.

The other measure for Achievements is a base check on percentage-completion of the game, which is tied into several variables, but also affected by purchase of unlocked characters, some of which cost over a million Lego bits. So it's a short game which ends up overcompensating by requiring obscene amounts of repeated play, which manage to rob the all the fun of the initial play-through in the name of completion. And all of it could have been avoided if they'd just tied Achievements in to the tasks which award Gold Bricks and Power Bricks.

So, yeah; I started off loving the game, ended up getting kind of sick of it, and if an Achievement Junkie like me won't jump through those hoops WHILE PLAYING WITH LEGO AND STAR WARS FIGURES, they've screwed the pooch.

In retrospect, this post is mainly about how happy I am that the implication is that there will be Indiana Jones themed Lego - though I suspect they'll replace the more generically pulp-themed Adventure! sets, and that's a little sad. But it may mean we get Nazi Lego - and that will just be... weird.
chronovore: (Default)
Shave your head in the shower with a wet razor, first with the grain and then against the grain.

I'm in this business for the monsters. My single favourite monsters are the beastmen in The Island of Doctor Moreau. I love the octopoid creatures and the giant swine spirit in William Hope Hodgson. I have a lot of time for pig monsters. I've always liked being terrified of monsters from underwater coming up, like the Creature from the Black Lagoon. There's a picture of Beatrix Potter's Jeremy Fisher with the trout about to bite his foot and he hasn't seen it yet. Completely terrifying.
This much I know: China Miéville
China writes about his'self and the genre at The Guardian UK (thanks, [livejournal.com profile] rev_e )
chronovore: (Default)
Amazon.com Bookstore's Blog: interview with William Gibson on his upcoming Spook Country
Amazon.com: Did you feel obligated to change it?

Gibson: In some cases. The Vancouver stuff is less one-on-one than the Manhattan stuff, for instance. The places, the restaurants are in different neighborhoods, things like that. The New York stuff I somehow stuck closer to the real thing. The New York stuff is more googleable.

Amazon.com: Yeah, everybody knows New York, every inch of it.

Gibson
: You can google it at a higher resolution.
chronovore: (OMFG)
yukihime.com » this was supposed to be the future: [livejournal.com profile] avestal 's actual blog:
Media scholar Henry Jenkins recently published an article about residual media–outmoded views of the future from a point in the past. Think of the ceramic spires of the 1939 World’s Fair, or the relentless utopias of 1950’s pulp SF. These futures are now generally viewed as overly silly or optimistic, given our wildly divergent present.
(...)
This recent, growing interest in the paleofuture is hardly surprising. As our unimagined future compresses to a single point, the weight of our memories grows ever more dominant. It’s so hard to create new dreams; how much nicer to relive the warmth of old ones! Subgenres like steampunk and alternative history play to this sense of inverted sensibilities; instead of optimism about what will be, we’re now nostalgic about what wasn’t; with a future devoid of promise, we take refuge in the past.
Brilliant.

I'm tempted to crosspost this to [livejournal.com profile] gameblather because it relates to not just SF in books/TV/film, but how we roleplay in it as well.
chronovore: (mouthy)
SciFi Channel is starting a TV series based on The Dresden Files? I had heard a mess of good stuff about the books, so I just picked up the first of them. I had no idea that they were getting their own show... The role of Harry is played by Paul Blackthorne, who did not particularly impress me as the main villain of season 3 of "24" - but that might have been the material, not his ability as an actor.

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