Saturday, January 31, 2015

Saturday Night Yahtzee

In the end I wound up losing the first game but winning the second with a triple Yahtzee. 

Friday, January 30, 2015

Dad's Birthday, 2015

Today is Dad's birthday. Happy Birthday, Dad! Here we are sometime back in the early 1970s. I still remember the feel of the plastic bricks that made up the faux-Lego building I'm holding. Those pajamas and the chair scream 70s, don't they? 

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Bucket List

1. Yellow, plastic, two litres
2. Green, plastic, ten litres
3. Wooden, five litres
4. Pink, child's beach toy size, with accompanying mini-shovel
5. Steel, used in Three Stooges pratfall
6. Odo's, used for regeneration

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Revisiting Buck Rogers

Over the last couple of weeks I've been making my way through the Buck Rogers in the 25th Century DVD set that I picked up 11 years ago. 11 YEARS AGO? And I thought my book backlog was bad.

In any event, revisiting a show that I first watched as a 10-to-12-year old has been entertaining. Even as a kid I knew the show was, on some level, derivative, unpolished and badly written, but I still enjoyed it because, hey...spaceships, aliens, scantily-clad space princesses, Erin Gray as Wilma Deering. Whatever the show's faults, the producer knew their audience: young boys (and hopefully a few girls inspired by Erin Gray's steely performance of the first season).

Like Battlestar Galactica, Buck Rogers presents a potentially interesting central conceit marred by lacklustre writing. The setup is simple but poignant: frozen in time for 500 years, astronaut Buck Rogers wakes up in the late 25th century to an Earth still recovering from a nuclear holocaust (one that happened, as it turned out, just after Buck left earth).

The pilot and a handful of episodes touch on Buck's sense of loss; unique in the world, this is a man who has truly lost everything in a way no one else ever could: not just a loved one, but all his loved ones; not just a country and a culture, but an entire civilization and all its complexity. (In a second season episode we discover that the Pyramids, Chichen Itza and Mount Rushmore are the only human artifacts to have survived to the 25th century.) Aside from a handful of scenes, though, the dramatic potential of Buck's displacement is virtually ignored in favour of pretty standard space villainy.

Were I to reinvent the series, I'd spend a lot more time exploring what a post-nuclear holocaust world would look like after 500 years of healing, and how Buck adapts. I'd probably ignore outer space entirely, relying instead on experts to come up with the sorts of real-world challenges such a society might face. I imagine everything would change, from manufacturing to agriculture to relationship customs to art. The art would be fascinating, one would think. You could even borrow an idea from the second season of Buck Rogers, in which the format changes to a more Star Trek-like exploration show; just keep the setting on Earth and have Buck and Wilma take on an HMS Beagle-style scouting expedition, roaming the world to catalogue mutant life and castoff pockets of survivors, not to mention any remaining valuable resources.

(As a kid I stopped watching Buck Rogers early in the second season, right after the Mark-Lenard-removes-his-head episode. Aside from the sarcastic new robot Chricton, season two really doesn't have much to recommend it.)

With Twin Peaks and The X-Files coming back to TV, it's not too far-fetched to imagine Buck Rogers might come back. It might even be good this time around. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Doubleplusungood Art

As I've written before...some experiments just don't turn out the way you wanted. 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Bye, Raj

It's easy to forget it now, but once upon a time Dr. Raj Sherman was perhaps the best-known politician in Alberta, back when he was a rabble-rousing backbencher in Premier Ed Stelmach's Progressive Conservative caucus. Raj defended public health care with great passion and sincerity, and he paid a heavy political price for it.

Raj was the third and last of the three doctors I worked for who led the Alberta Liberal Caucus, once Alberta's Official Opposition, now, it has to be said, a small rump third party. (The first two were Drs. Taft and Swann.) I didn't work with Raj as long as I had with either Kevin or David, but I got to know him well enough to say that his heart was in the right place and he really cared about Albertans, particularly the vulnerable. In a province that vilifies Liberals, Raj took on the challenge of the hardest, most thankless job in Canadian politics, and for that alone I think he deserves thanks.

I shot the photo above on February 1, 2012, a few months before leaving politics behind. It was a pretty nice day for February in Alberta, and Raj was patient and pleasant as I fought with the light; I'm an amateur photographer, not a professional, and I appreciated his forbearance.

Today Raj resigned as Leader of the Alberta Liberals. Whatever he does next, I hope Dr. Sherman finds happiness and fulfillment. He tried to build a better Alberta, and I think that's pretty noble. 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

What Memories Real?

A few days ago Jeff commented on the opening montage of the film version of the Buck Rogers in the 25th Century pilot, surmising that not only did Buck spend 500 years dreaming about scantily clad space women, but that the events of the series itself are merely a continuation of that dream. I dismissed the notion out of hand, but then I started to think about the idea more seriously, particularly after watching "The Guardians," a second-season episode in which Buck has a vision of being back on Earth before his ill-fated trip on Ranger 3.

In the vision, Buck awakens at his mother's home back in 1987. He's at the end of a two-week furlough, and Ranger 3 launches the next day. At first he's shocked to find himself back on Earth in his own time, but within a few seconds admits to his mother that his life in the 25th century must have been just a dream. The Ranger 3 mission goes forward...and ends in exactly the same way, with Buck in suspended animation.

During the course of the episode other cast members have visions of their own, and by the end the series' status quo is comfortably reached. And yet now I can't get the notion out of my mind, because the pilot movie explicitly says Buck dreams for centuries, and when he "wakes up," at least two of the women in his dreams - Wilma Deering and Princess Ardala - become, respectively, a leading figure and a recurring figure in the show. This of course suggests the events of the series are merely a continuation of his erotic dreams.

Note, too, the lyrics to "Suspension," the song that plays atop the film's opening credits. Here are a couple of lines:

What thoughts are fantasies, what memories real? 

Is it my life or just something I dreamed? 

All of a sudden the dream scenario almost seems deliberate. The only drawback to this theory is that the show itself isn't particularly dreamlike, aside from its conventional SF trappings. The storytelling, direction, visual effects and costuming are all pretty straightforward for the genre. Plus it's a pretty unhappy ending for Buck...it implies he never wakes up, and that his new relationships and adventures in the 25th century are just fantasies. In fact, you could even surmise that Buck never enters suspended animation at all, that he's simply flash-frozen and dies in a few seconds. And in dreams, instants can seem to take centuries...all two seasons of the show could simply be the last synaptic jerks in the mind of a dying man. 

Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Day I Lost the Pillow Fight at Lister Hall

I retired with a record of 1 win, 1 loss. This would have been an event for "King Louis," the annual...I'm not sure what you'd call it. It was a sort of contest of champions between floors at the residence. We competed in offbeat games like the one above. 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The DVD Savant on Invaders From Mars

Several years ago Glenn Erickson, AKA The DVD Savant, wrote a beautiful analysis of one of my favourite SF films, William Cameron Menzies' surreal Invaders From Mars. Earlier this month Erickson expanded and updated his already excellent essay, and it's worth a read if you're at all interested in film history, science fiction or cult movies.

Part One

Part Two

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Tonight's Episode

70s SF television takes a lot of flak for being cheesy, but Gil Gerard deserves a lot of credit for his subtle but emotionally tortured performance in "A Dream of Jennifer," in which Buck Rogers must confront the loss of the woman he left behind in the 20th century. For all the accolades granted more prestigious fare, there are many more artists whose good work goes unrecognized. Maybe it's 35 years too late, but good job, Gil.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Classic Car-Fuffle

Over the weekend Alberta Premier Jim Prentice found himself a sweet ride at a car auction down in Arizona. In the face of sub-$50 oil and warnings of public service cuts, some progressive folks are arguing that this sends the wrong message to Albertans, that it shows Prentice is just another member of the privileged 1 percent and that his wealth insulates him from the sacrifices he may very shortly ask public sector workers to make.

I don't disagree. As a pretty left wing guy, it seems wrong that some can afford to pay tens of thousands of dollars for fancy toys while others struggle to make ends meet.

But I also understand that I'm as guilty as Prentice, in a sense. After a couple of decades of hard work I'm not poor anymore (I never really was, compared to many), and over the years I, too have spent thousands of dollars on fancy toys - movies, books, Lego, computer games, board games. (On the other hand, I'm not in a position to impoverish others with drastic public spending cuts.)

My point is this: while progressives are free to criticize Prentice for spoiling himself while mulling over actions that could harm tens of thousands, that criticism is more likely to harm the progressive cause than help it. Because deep down, most people want to believe that they, too, might be in a position one day to spoil themselves. Even if you're not a fan of classic cars, nearly everyone has their own share of materialistic desires - the nice house, the rare postage stamp, the around-the-world vacation. Most of us have been programmed to sympathize with Prentice. I know for a fact that I have several family members who would have loved to buy the car Prentice purchased. They're not feeling envy - they're feeling "Good for him. He works hard, he can buy what he wants with his own money."

The amount of money counts, too. Given the exchange rate and taxes and fees, Prentice's purchase will probably only cost him around $75,000 dollars. That's only three times the amount Sylvia and I spent on our last new vehicle. It's a figure that's only just out of reach to a lot of folks in rich (yes, we're still rich) Alberta. Buying a car like this doesn't distance Prentice from ordinary Albertans, because a lot of ordinary Albertans are very well off.

When progressives chide Prentice for spending a few tens of thousands of dollars, we're the ones who seem out of touch. If we ever want to change the government in Alberta, we can't afford to appear petty or jealous. We're better off fighting to protect public institutions and holding the Conservatives accountable for their many years of mismanagement. 

Monday, January 19, 2015

O'Seanigan

New on The EW - Sean Woods stars as O'Seanigan. Justice, like lightning, strikes twice - or wherever it's needed on the grizzled streets of Paradise Cove, or as its residents call it, Slum City. Can O'Seanigan - former cop, former bounty hunter, former cleaner - mete out his own brand of rough justice while avoiding the corrupt authorities of Slum City? Find out on O'Seanigan, Mondays at 7 on The EW. 

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Etsell Well

I shot this back in 2009 when Sean and I drove to the Etsell farm for the dedication of Salt Lake. This is the pump that brought up water from the well for the farm. As far as I know, it's still there. 

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Battlestar Galactica in the 25th Century

After watching a few episodes of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century this week, it struck me that the show shared a lot of commonalities with the contemporaneous Battlestar Galactica: creators, behind-the scenes personnel, ship models, sound effects. Buck Rogers outlasted Battlestar by a few months, but Glen A. Larson must have seen that Buck Rogers would soon follow suit. I wonder if he ever considered a fun series finale for Buck and a belated farewell for Battlestar Galactica; he could have had the Galactica finally reach Earth in the last episode of Buck Rogers. How cool would that have been, to see Gil Gerard and Lorne Greene team up to beat the Cylons back from post-holocaust, 25th-century Earth?


Friday, January 16, 2015

Sean Survives

Survive is a fun little game in which you must help people escape the sinking island of Atlantis. Sean managed to rescue 25 souls to my meager 18. 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Mom's Starships


A few nights ago I dreamed that Mom and a guy from work were collaborating on Earth's first faster-than-light starships. These are a couple of the ships they came up with, rendered as best I could on a post-it-note. The ships don't actually say "Grey" and "Gold" on their sides; that's just to indicate what colour they're supposed to be. There was a striking crimson one, too. 

Monday, January 12, 2015

Back When the Future Was Innocent

I had a pretty stressful day at work today, so to wind down I decided to lose myself in pop culture. Not quite at random, I picked up my Buck Rogers in the 25th Century DVD set and watched a two-part episode from the show's first season: "The Plot to Kill a City."

It turned out to be a fortuitous choice. While no one would ever mistake Buck Rogers for high art, it was clearly produced with care and affection. These are simple stories of high adventure, entertainment aimed at children and young teens, heaps of fun for the young and the young at heart.

While the costumes, sets and special effects might seem primitive by today's standards, the creators did a remarkable job of building a believable future society within the limits of their time and budget. Yes, the show can be embarrassingly cheesy at moments - but it's also very earnest. I have a weakness for stories in which people of good character work together to solve problems, and this is exactly that sort of show. Despite taking place in a post-apocalyptic future, the series is optimistic, cheerful, and there's not a trace of cynicism to be found. It's the sort of approach that's rarely found in series television today, save, perhaps, New Girl.

So thank you, Glen A. Larson and the writers, actors and technicians who gave us two seasons of science fiction silliness and derring-do. It was definitely what I needed tonight. 

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Shadows of Lego

I thought the shadow cast on my office wall by this Lego model was pretty interesting, so I took a photo of it. 

Friday, January 09, 2015

90s Bowling

1990 might be the last year I owned a pair of white pants. I wonder if Disco Bowling was ever a thing. Could it be a thing? Is it too late? 

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Peace, the Final Frontier

Next to Star Trek itself, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is my favourite of the Trek shows, and indeed one of my favourite television shows ever. But good as it was, I felt it lacked one thing: its principal narrating the show's purpose and vision, or in other words, a variation of Kirk's and Picard's "Space, the final frontier" speech. From the very first episode I wondered what Sisko might have said given the chance to speak over his show's opening credits. 22 years later, here's what he could have said:

"Peace, the final frontier.
These are the stories of Federation starbase Deep Space Nine.
Its ongoing mission: to explore strange new worlds and their people,
to discover common cause and restore a civilization...
to boldly stand our ground like none before."

Well, something along those lines, anyway. 

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Cannonball Run III

Down the middle, a steam locomotive pulling a passenger train. On the right, a Corvette Stingray driven alternately by a male and a female actor of the 70s in their prime. On the left, a T-800 paddling a kayak. Overhead, a gorilla piloting an ultralight.

The stakes: a cheap plastic trophy. Expect interference from cyborg cowboy bandits, the Sasquatch and law enforcement. 

Monday, January 05, 2015

I Read I Married a Dead Man

My first book of the year is I Married a Dead Man by Cornell Woolrich. Published in 1948, I Married a Dead Man is a compelling, suspenseful and ultimately tragic tale of mistaken identity and murder by a writer better known as the man who wrote the stories that inspired Hitchcock's Rear Window and Truffaut's The Bride Wore Black.

Woolrich paints a world where most people are kind and good, but within which one bad apple can turn joy to heartbreak. Throughout the novel I was rooting for the gentle protagonist, a young woman who desires nothing more than love and security and a place to raise her infant son. Abandoned by the man she thought loved her, she finds herself alone, penniless and without hope...until she's caught in a train crash, and in the aftermath she's mistaken for another woman, a newlywed whose husband also perished on the train. Recast as a widow, she finds acceptance with her faux in-laws, and for a while it seems like things might turn out all right...but then, murder.

Without spoiling the plot, the tragedy turns not on the murder itself, but on the suspicion and guilt that arise from it. It's a story where slightly different choices or unhappy accidents of random chance could have resulted in a happy ending. Instead, the characters and the audience are left lamenting what may have been.

I Married a Dead Man would have to be considerably altered to work in a modern context, turning as it does on mistaken identity. Communications and surveillance technologies of the 21st century make Woolrich's plot nearly impossible to believe today, whereas in the text as it stands we can accept the author's premise as written. So aside from a tragic love story, Woolrich offers a snapshot of an era long past, one of passenger trains and handwritten letters and land lines - another country to which there can be no passports issued, save those of the imagination. 

Sunday, January 04, 2015

States Earl Has Visited

I almost shouldn't count North Dakota, since my parents took me there when I was an infant and I don't recall anything about it.

Sometime reasonably soon I'd like to visit Texas to see the Jet Propulsion Laboratory; Florida, to see Cape Canaveral; Washington, DC, for any number of monuments and museums; New York, for the same reason; Louisiana, for New Orleans; Massachusetts, for Boston; Maine, to see Stephen King's house; Illinois, for Chicago; and Wyoming, for Yellowstone. Oh, and South Dakota for Mount Rushmore. 

Saturday, January 03, 2015

My Favourite (and least favourite) of the Films I Watched in 2014

A couple of days ago I listed the films I watched in 2014, but I didn't comment on my reaction to them. Here are a few thoughts on the highlights of my year in film:

The Disappointments
Shaolin Dolemite (1999): sloppy martial arts film redubbed after the fact to insert some stale commentary by Rudy Ray Moore. A late sequel to the much more enjoyable early Dolemite films.

Every Jack Ryan movie after The Hunt for Red October: You know, these just aren't very good, not even the Chris Pine/Kenneth Branagh reboot. By-the-numbers, jingoistic espionage tomfoolery.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013): The visuals are splendid and the film has its heart in the right place, but the ending is too plainly telegraphed and hero Ben Stiller, who I usually enjoy, is a little offputting here.

The Underworld films: Nothing to recommend them save the presence of the lovely Kate Beckinsale.

Hugo (2013): Beautiful art direction and there's an interesting story here, but for whatever reason this Scorcese Best Picture nominee fell flat in my eyes.

Ghosts of Mars (2001), Body Bags (1993) and The Ward (2010): Proof that John Carpenter's best years are long behind him, sadly.

Doctor Dolittle (1967): One of those Best Picture nominees that turns out to be interminable fluff. Dreadful.

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014): Marvel's worst film, and I'll never understand the critical acclaim levelled at it.

The Good Stuff
Deathtrap (1982): This movie doesn't have a great critical reputation, but I found it engaging enough, mostly thanks to the charisma of Christopher Reeve and Michael Caine.

The Creation of the Humanoids (1962): Obscure SF with primitive special effects but interesting social commentary - worth seeking out.

Her (2013): Fantastic movie about AI and transcendence and loneliness. Moving and smart.

Raging Bull (1980): I can't believe I waited so long to see this masterpiece. Absolutely phenomenal in every respect, and probably Scorcese's best film.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014): Marvel's best movie yet, with top-notch action sequences, interesting characters, and the courage to ask some important questions about an increasingly militaristic and surveillance-obsessed USA.

The Room (2003): This legendarily bad film is every bit as entertaining as I could have hoped.

Pacific Rim (2013): Big, dumb fun that makes you feel like a kid again. Giant robots versus giant monsters!

The Lego Movie (2014): An inventive, funny, and fun film with a great message about the importance of creativity and the dangers of conformity.

Enter the Ninja (1981): One of those great bad movies of the 80s that you can't help but love just because it doesn't take itself too seriously, but just seriously enough that the loopy nonsense makes you laugh at all the very best inappropriate moments.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014): I know it won't get nominated, but I really feel this deserves a Best Picture nod from the Academy. A very moving fable about how hard it is for compassion and empathy to win over selfishness and fear, a very troubling and revealing look at our civilization's problems. 

Friday, January 02, 2015

Earl's Television Checklist, Revised

As a student of popular culture and mostly-failed aspiring writer, I'm a little obsessive about absorbing as much pop culture as possible, from comics to film to novels to television. Some months ago I decided that since I've been keeping track of the films and books I watch and read, I should try to capture the television I've seen. In the case of television, though, I'm tracking not merely my annual consumption, but the viewing habits of a lifetime. So far as I've been able to recollect, here are the shows I've watched in their entirety, along with a supplement of shows I'm currently following or backfilling. These lists do not include shows I can't definitively say I've finished. For example, while I've watched a lot of Magnum P.I., Simon & Simon, Quantum Leap, The Dukes of Hazzard, Buck Rogers, The Rockford Files and so on, I can't be sure that I haven't missed an episode here or there, not having re-watched them yet on DVD or Blu-Ray. 

Earl’s Television Checklist

Shows I've Finished 

The Outer Limits (two seasons, science fiction anthology, 1963-65)
Gilligan's Island (three seasons, comedy, 1964-67)
Star Trek (three seasons, science fiction, 1966-69)
The Prisoner (one season, science fiction, 1967-68)
The Invaders (two seasons, science fiction, 1967-68)
UFO (one season, science fiction, 1970-71)
Star Trek (one season, animated science fiction, 1973-74)
Space: 1999 (two seasons, science fiction, 1975-77)
The Six Million Dollar Man (five seasons, science fiction, 1974-78)
The Bionic Woman (three seasons, science fiction, 1976-78)
Battlestar Galactica (one season, science fiction, 1978-79)
Galactica 1980 (one season, science fiction, 1980)
Police Squad! (one season, comedy, 1982) 
V (one season, science fiction, 1984-85)
Max Headroom (two seasons, science fiction, 1987-88)
Star Trek: The Next Generation (seven seasons, science fiction, 1987-94)
The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. (one season, western, 1993-94)
Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman (four seasons, superhero, 1993-97) 
Babylon 5 (five seasons, science fiction, 1993-98)
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (seven seasons, science fiction, 1993-99)
Due South (four seasons, comedy, 1994-99)
Crusade (one season, science fiction, 1999)
Superman (four seasons, animated superhero, 1996-2000)
ReBoot (four seasons, animated science fiction, 1994-2001)
The Lone Gunmen (one season, science fiction, 2001)
Firefly (one season, science fiction, 2002)
Buffy the Vampire Slayer (seven seasons, supernatural drama, 1997-2003) 
Frasier (one half of eleven seasons, comedy, 1993-2004)
Friends (three of ten seasons, comedy, 1994-2004)
Angel (five seasons, supernatural drama, 1999-2004)
Enterprise/Star Trek Enterprise (four seasons, science fiction, 2001-05)
Carnivale (two seasons, fantasy, 2003-05)
Justice League/Justice League Unlimited (five seasons, superhero animated, 2001-06) 
Journeyman (one season, science fiction, 2007)
Masters of Science Fiction (one season, science fiction anthology, 2007) 
The Wire (five seasons, drama, 2002-08)
The Shield (seven seasons, drama, 2002-08)
Battlestar Galactica (four seasons, science fiction, 2004-09)
My Name is Earl (four seasons, comedy, 2005-09)
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (two seasons, science fiction, 2008-09)
FlashForward (one season, science fiction, 2009)
Lost (six seasons, science fiction, 2004-10) 
Heroes (four seasons, superhero, 2006-10) 
Dollhouse (two seasons, science fiction, 2009-10)
Rubicon (one season, drama, 2010)
Smallville (ten seasons, superhero, 2001-11) 
V (two seasons, science fiction, 2009-11)
No Ordinary Family (one season, superhero, 2010-11)
Human Target (two seasons, adventure, 2010-2011)
Alcatraz (one season, science fiction, 2012)
The Office (nine seasons, comedy, 2005-13)
Breaking Bad (drama, 2008-13)
Last Resort (one season, military drama, 2012-13)
24 (nine seasons, thriller, 2001-2014) 
The Tomorrow People (one season, science fiction, 2013-14)
Utopia (two seasons, drama, 2013-14)

Shows I'm Still Working On
(including shows still in production) 

Adventures of Superman 
(one of six seasons, superhero, 1952-58)
The Twilight Zone 
(four of five seasons, science fiction anthology, 1959-64)
The Man from U.N.C.L.E. 
(one of four seasons, spy, 1964-68)
Wonder Woman 
(one of three seasons, superhero, 1975-79)
Hawaii Five-O (seven and a half of twelve seasons, police procedural, 1968-80)
The Rockford Files (pilot of six seasons, 1974-80)
M*A*S*H (one of eleven seasons, comedy, 1972-83 )
Happy Days (two of eleven seasons, comedy, 1974-84)
Moonlighting (three of five seasons, comedy, 1985-89)
Mission: Impossible 
(eight of nine seasons, adventure, 1966-90)
The Flash 
(half of one season, superhero, 1990-91)
Superboy/The Adventures of Superboy (one of four seasons, superhero, 1988-92)
Homicide: Life on the Street 
(missed a few episodes, seven seasons, drama, 1993-99)
Star Trek: Voyager 
(all but two episodes of seven seasons, science fiction, 1995-2001)
The X-Files (six of nine seasons and parts of the final three seasons, 1993-2002)
Farscape (pilot of four seasons, science fiction, 1999-2003)
The West Wing 
(five of seven seasons, drama, 1999-2006)
Stargate SG-1
(half a season of ten seasons, science fiction, 1997-2007)
The 4400 
(one of four seasons, science fiction, 2004-07)
Life on Mars 
(one of two seasons, drama, 2006-07)
Dexter 
(two and a half of seven seasons, drama, 2006-present) 
Law & Order (one of twenty seasons, police procedural/legal drama, 1990-2010)
Caprica (half of one season, science fiction, 2010)
Chuck (one of five seasons, comedy, 2007-12)
Futurama (five of eight seasons, 1999-2013)
Arrested Development (three of four seasons, comedy, 2003-13)
Dexter (two of eight seasons, drama, 2006-13)
Fringe (one and a half of five seasons, science fiction, 2008-2013) 
Nikita (half a season of four seasons, adventure, 2010-13)

The Simpsons (five of twenty-five seasons, animated comedy, 1989-present) 
Twin Peaks (two of three seasons, supernatural mystery, 1990-present) 
Curb Your Enthusiasm (eight seasons, comedy, 2000-present) 
Dr. Who (one of eight seasons, 2005-present)
The Walking Dead (three of five seasons, horror, 2010-present) 
New Girl (three of four seasons, comedy, 2011-present)
Person of Interest (four seasons, drama, 2011-present)
Veep (one of three seasons, comedy, 2012-present)
Arrow (three seasons, superhero, 2012-present)
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (two seasons, superhero, 2013-present)
Gotham (one season, superhero, 2014-present)
The Flash (one season, superhero, 2014-present)
Constantine (one season, superhero, 2014-present)
The Affair (one season, drama, 2014-present)

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Movies I Watched in 2014

As in previous years, I've kept track of the movies I've watched. This year I screened 121 movies, indulging in a lot of Hitchcock, Ford, Cronenberg, Anderson and Carpenter. I've now seen all of Wes Anderson's movies, about 60 percent of Hitchcock's, all of Carpenter's but The Fog, and most of Cronenberg's. I knocked 23 Best Picture nominees off the list. 

January: 12
Shaolin Dynamite (Robert Tai, 1999)
Deathtrap (Sidney Lumet, 1982)
Europa Report (Sebastián Cordero, 2013)
Ikarie XB-1 (Jindřich Polák, 1963)
Message from Space (Kinji Fukasaku, 1978)
A Soldier’s Story (Norman Jewison, 1984)
Places in the Heart (Robert Benton, 1984)
Five (Arch Oboler, 1951)
The Creation of the Humanoids (Wesley Barry, 1962)
Countdown (Robert Altman, 1968)
Sleeper (Woody Allen, 1973)
Marooned (John Sturges, 1969)

February: 18
Testament (Lynne Littman, 1983)
Beware! The Blob (Larry Hagman, 1972)
The Werewolf (Fred F. Sears, 1956)
Zombies of Mora Tau (Edward Cahn, 1957)
Dallas Buyers Club (Jean-Marc Valee, 2013)
Captain Phillips (Paul Greengrass, 2013)
The Wolf of Wall Street (Martin Scorsese, 2013)
The Hunt for Red October (John McTiernan, 1990)
Patriot Games (Phillip Noyce, 1992)
Clear and Present Danger (Phillip Noyce, 1994)
The Sum of All Fears (Phil Alden Robinson, 2002)
The Thief of Bagdad (Raoul Walsh, 1924)
Brick (Rian Johnson, 2005)
Philomena (Stephen Frears, 2013)
Nebraska (Alexander Payne, 2013)
Her (Spike Jonze, 2013)
American Hustle (David O. Russell, 2013)
Miami Connection (Richard Park and Y.K. Kim, 1988)

March: 7
12 Years a Slave (Steve McQueen, 2013)
The Room (Tommy Wiseau, 2003)
Raging Bull (Martin Scorsese, 1980)
Stagecoach (John Ford, 1939)
Bucking Broadway (John Ford, 1917)
The Long Voyage Home (John Ford, 1940)
Funny Girl (William Wyler, 1968)

April: 5
Captain America: The Winter Soldier (Anthony and Joe Russo, 2014)
The Wings of Eagles (John Ford, 1957)
 3 Godfathers (John Ford, 1948)
Rubber (Quentin Dupieux, 2010)
They Were Expendable (John Ford, 1945)

May: 5
Pacific Rim (Guillermo del Toro, 2013)
Man on Wire (James Marsh, 2008)
Godzilla (Gareth Edwards, 2014)
X-Men: Days of Future Past (Bryan Singer, 2014)
Black Dynamite (Scott Sanders, 2009)

June: 3
The Lego Movie (Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, 2014)
Secrets & Lies (Mike Leigh, 1996)
Computer Chess (Andrew Bujalski, 2013)

July: 8
Chariots of Fire (Hugh Hudson, 1981)
The Adventures of Tintin (Steven Spielberg, 2011)
They Live (John Carpenter, 1988)
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (Ben Stiller, 2013)
Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of the War of the Worlds Alive on Stage! The New Generation (Nick Morris, 2013)
G.I. Joe: Retaliation (John M. Chu, 2013)
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (Kenneth Branagh, 2014)
Head (Bob Rafelson, 1968)

August: 17
Fort Apache (John Ford, 1948)
She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (John Ford, 1949)
Guardians of the Galaxy (James Gunn, 2014)
Marty (Delbert Mann, 1955)
Mr. & Mrs. Smith (Alfred Hitchcock, 1941)
Suspicion (Alfred Hitchcock, 1941)
Stage Fright (Alfred Hitchcock, 1950)
The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog (Alfred Hitchcock, 1927)
I Confess (Alfred Hitchcock, 1953)
The Wrong Man (Alfred Hitchcock, 1956)
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (Marc Webb, 2014)
Jamaica Inn (Alfred Hitchcock, 1939)
The Paradine Case (Alfred Hitchcock, 1947)
The Great Train Robbery (Edwin S. Porter, 1903)
Number Seventeen (Alfred Hitchcock, 1932)
Sabotage (Alfred Hitchcock, 1936)
Under Capricorn (Alfred Hitchcock, 1949)

September: 13
Rio Grande (John Ford, 1950)
Batman: Assault on Arkham (Jay Oliva and Ethan Spaulding, 2014)
Coherence (James Ward Byrkit, 2013)
Underworld (Len Wiseman, 2003)
Underworld Evolution (Len Wiseman, 2006)
Underworld: Rise of the Lycans (Patrick Tatopoulos, 2009)
Underworld Awakening (Måns Mårlind and Björn Stein, 2012)
The Game (David Fincher, 1997)
Under the Skin (Jonathan Glazer, 2013)
Doctor Dolittle (Richard Fleischer, 1967)
The Questor Tapes (Richard Colla, 1974)
Enter the Ninja (Menahem Golan, 1981)
Trouble Man (Ivan Dixon, 1972)

October: 10
The X from Outer Space (Kazui Nihonmatsu, 1967)
Goke, Body Snatcher from Hell (Hajime Sato, 1968)
The Living Skeleton (Hiroshi Matsuno, 1968)
Genocide (Kazui Nihonmatsu, 1968)
The Naked Spur (Anthony Mann, 1953)
The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (Gordon Hessler, 1973)
An Andalusian Dog (Luis Bunuel, 1929)
Crimes of the Future (David Cronenberg, 1970)
Fast Company (David Cronenberg, 1979)
The Brood (David Cronenberg, 1979)

November: 12
Ghosts of Mars (John Carpenter, 2001)
Eastern Promises (David Cronenberg, 2007)
A Dangerous Method (David Cronenberg, 2011)
Body Bags (John Carpenter and Tobe Hooper, 1993)
The Ward (John Carpenter, 2010)
G Men (William Keighley, 1935)
Bottle Rocket (Wes Anderson, 1996)
The Darjeeling Limited (Wes Anderson, 2007)
Fantastic Mr. Fox (Wes Anderson, 2009)
Interstellar (Christoper Nolan, 2014)
Moonrise Kingdom (Wes Anderson, 2012)
The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson, 2014)

December: 11
Dragonfly Squadron (Lesley Selander, 1954)
Cosmopolis (David Cronenberg, 2012)
Kelly’s Heroes (Brian G. Hutton, 1970)
The Beguiled (Don Siegel, 1971)
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (Matt Reeves, 2014)
Cinerama Holiday (Robert L. Bendick and Phillipe De Lacy, 1955)
Raise the Titanic (Jerry Jameson, 1980)
The Magnificent Ambersons (Orson Welles, 1942)
Shine (Scott Hicks, 1996)
The Prince of Tides (Barbra Streisand, 1991)
Hugo (Martin Scorcese, 2011)

Films by Genre
Best Picture nominees: 23
Science Fiction: 21
Fantasy: 4
Western: 8
Horror: 9
Drama: 26
Documentary: 2
Crime: 1
Musical: 3
Action: 8
Thriller: 9
Comedy: 11
Superhero: 5
War: 9
Film Noir: 1
Animation: 4

Top Directors
Alfred Hitchcock: 11
John Ford: 9
David Cronenberg: 6
Wes Anderson: 5
John Carpenter: 3
Martin Scorsese: 3
Kazui Nihonmatsu: 2
Phillip Noyce: 2
Len Wiseman: 2


Films by Decade
1900s: 1
1910s: 1
1920s: 3
1930s: 5
1940s: 10
1950s: 12
1960s: 11
1970s: 11
1980s: 10
1990s: 10
2000s: 12

2010s: 35