Friday, April 28, 2017

Lawn Chair Paradise

Manitoba winters suck, but Manitoba summers are lovely. This shot was taken on the Etsell farm sometime in the early 1970s. 

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Four Plus One More from Tor

How long before these need to be classified as alternate history instead of science fiction? 

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Anodyne and Apotheosis

Your adamantine spirit
Bruised by calumny
A cicerone chasmophile
Torn between
Anodyne and apotheosis
Or are you really just
A rodent on a post?

Friday, April 21, 2017

Huckleberry Hound Shirt

Back in the early 1970s, one of the things I enjoyed about travelling south to visit Grandma and Granddad was the fact that they had one extra television station (three compared to our two, if memory serves), and on that station they received Huckleberry Hound cartoons. I don't remember why I liked that show in particular; perhaps I simply liked cartoons indiscriminately at that age. Anyway, I had a Huckleberry Hound shirt at one point, and here I am wearing it just a couple of days after my little brother was born in April 1976. 

Thursday, April 20, 2017

A Dark D7

This Klingon D7-class cruiser is one of a handful of metal miniatures I painted for use in the FASA starship combat simulator back in the late 1980s. As you can see, my painting skills were limited to simply slathering the model in black, but hey, it kind of works for the Klingons, right? 

Saturday, April 15, 2017

The Lighter Side of the Moon: MST3K's Triumphant Return

In the not too distant past, Stephen Fitzpatrick introduced me to Mystery Science Theater 3000, a television show unlike anything I'd ever seen before. The concept was deceptively simple: in the near future, a mad scientist kidnaps a blue-collar worker and forces him to watch the worst movies ever made, monitoring his mind to see how the movies impact the man's sanity. Joel, the victim, builds some robot friends to help him endure the agony. We, the audience, watch as Joel and the robots screen the films, making fun of them with "riffs:" well-timed bon mots and sometimes quite obscure literary and cultural references. Stephen secured episodes via a friend who had satellite television - a rare luxury back in the late 80s - and Stephen dutifully "circulated the tapes," as the show itself exhorted, with his circle of friends. Those get-togethers remain a fond memory.

Throughout the late 80s and early 90s, I watched the show infrequently on VHS tapes, mostly borrowed from Stephen; I don't think I ever watched the show live, not having the requisite cable TV channels. Later in the 90s, I picked up episodes on DVD, and since then I've probably seen about a third of the show's near-200 episode run. To this day, I quote riffs from Joel, his successor host Mike, and the robots whenever it seems appropriate.

Yesterday, a new batch of episodes appeared on Netflix, made possible by original creator Joel Hodgson and a massively successful crowdfunding effort. I watched two of the new episodes ("Reptilicus" and "Cry Wilderness") yesterday, and I'm happy to report that, if the rest of the 14 new episodes are true to form, the rebooted MST3K is a wondrous success. The cast may be new (led by Felicia Day, Patton Oswalt and new host/victim Jonah Ray), but they've done an incredible job of capturing the goofy je ne sais quoi that made the show so special. Most importantly, the riffs are as sharp and funny as ever, transitioning seamlessly into the 21st century as if the show had never gone off the air back in 1999.

I look forward to watching the rest of the revival episodes over the course of the next couple of weeks. Maybe even today and tomorrow, AKA "Next Sunday, A.D...."



Thursday, April 13, 2017

An X-ceptional X-perience

Logan transcends genre by embracing it and respecting - no, fulfilling -  its potential. Expertly paced and scripted, with standout performances from Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart - who have never been better - Logan is the rare film without a single false note. Gorgeous in its epic tragedy, this is unquestionably the finest film of its type, and a great film in its own right. Its choices are courageous, its climax perfectly inevitable, its themes vital, its near-future setting utterly believable.

Most importantly of all, Logan is profoundly moving, and each incredible moment is earned.

Precious few films accomplish their goals as flawlessly as this. Logan reveals the inherent ugliness of humanity and civilization, while somehow managing to capture our fleeting moments of compassion and greatness, righteously exalting - x-alting - them. It is the perfect synthesis of hope and despair, failure and victory, love and hate - the forces that both curse and empower our troubled species.

If the universe made any sense at all, this would be the last X-Men film, the perfect capstone on an uneven but more-satisfying-than-not extended narrative.

X-uberant. 

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Bouncing Off the Wastebasket Rim

I the ungreat washed
Over the falls
Barrelling through rapidly
Careening toward the penultimate zenith
Careering down my list of labours
Smashing to smithereens
On unsmiling Charybdis

Friday, April 07, 2017

Crosstalk

I've just started Connie Willis' new book, Crosstalk, and already I'm completely charmed. Willis is remarkably deft at combining the sense of wonder so important to speculative fiction with likable characters and great wit and whimsy. In Crosstalk, a new technology gives people the ability to make empathic connections wirelessly; though hailed as a revolutionary step in human relations, complications ensue...

While I've only just started the book, I'm already reminded why I love Willis' work so much. She remains one of the best SF authors of the modern era. 

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Sunday, April 02, 2017

Unhappier Accidents

Here's another collection of photos that went wrong. Poor lighting, bad focus, bad composition, underexposed, overexposed...how many photographic sins can you spot?