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Monday, January 30, 2006

Fridge Full of Dynamite

Last weekend Sylvia told me that our refridgerator was making more noise than it should. I remain oblivious to any difference in freezer volume, but I trust her judgement, so at some point in the near future I'll investigate the process of finding a repairman.

But to make the task more entertaining, I proposed to Sylvia that we fill the fridge with dynamite, so that when the repairman shows up to inspect the appliance, he'll open the door and find a fridge full of dynamite. Then he'll say,

"I think I've found the problem. Your fridge is full of dynamite."

And I'll say, "Is that not an appropriate place to store dynamite?"

"How about the washing machine?"

"The dryer?"

"The oven?"

Anyway, I asked dad about the plan on the weekend and he told me that you have to have a licence to purchase dynamite. Like I'm going to do anything dangerous with it! :-( Guess I should have voted for the Conservative Reform Alliance Party after all. They're social Darwinist types, I'll bet they would have repealed this dynamite licence thing if they'd gotten enough seats for a majority.

Sean's Blog is Funnier Than Mine for the Moment

Wow, an average of two weeks between posts here at the Bleak House of Blahgs. That's sad. My brother is sure picking up the slack, though, with many laugh-out-loud stories throughout January. Also, there's a picture of Sean's head being sucked into a black hole, and a cow attack. So follow the link to Sean's blog for your Woods-related amusement while I struggle to think of something worthy of posting.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Finger Puppet Star Trek: The Motion Picture

One evening in mid 1992, members of the University of Alberta Star Trek Club, riding high on the success of their 1991 film, Finger Puppet Casablanca, decided to create their magnum opus: Finger Puppet Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

Submitted for your approval: actual video captures of scenes from the original Paramount film, and their Paranoid Productions counterparts.

First, the players:

Ron Briscoe as Mr. Spock

Jeff Shyluk as Dr. McCoy, Mr. Sulu, Mr. Chekov, and Scotty

Susan Neumann as Lt. Uhura

Carrie Humphrey as Admiral James T. Kirk

Earl J. Woods as the voice of Admiral James T. Kirk

As the film opens, Klingon citizens respond to a threat on their frontier: a gigantic space cloud of immense energy. Here's the scene as realized by legendary director Robert Wise:

Mark Lenard as the Klingon captain

And here's the scene as realized by "nearly famous" director Earl J. Woods:

The finger of Jeff Shyluk as the Klingon captain.

Incoming energy bolt!
The Klingons are destroyed by the cloud. Meanwhile, on planet Vulcan, Spock, retired from Starfleet, feels the cloud's presence, even from light years away. He feels the touch of raw, vast emotion, and realizes that he can never reach the final level of the Vulcan ritual of Kohlinahr: the ultimate purging of all emotion, and the attainment of perfect logic.

Spock feels the touch of...V'ger.

Ron Briscoe as Mr. Spock, pondering his failure to achieve Kohlinahr.

On Earth, the Federation becomes aware that the space cloud is heading for Earth. Robert Wise treats us to a spectacular vision of the San Fransisco of the future:

Starfleet Command
Not having Robert Wise's budget, we had to settle for a static shot of a calendar page that happened to sport a photo of the Golden Gate bridge.

Eat Your Heart Out, Douglas Trumbull

Admiral Kirk learns about the threat, and he is determined to take the Enterprise out to meet the cloud. He informs Commander Sonak, his Vulcan science officer, of his intentions.

Sonak and Kirk

Finger Puppet Sonak and Kirk
Sonak dies in a transporter accident, a scene we neglected to film (we also forgot to mention - or film - two very important characters, Commander Will Decker and Lieutenant Ilia).

Undeterred by tragedy - and the lack of a science officer - Captain Kirk pushes his crew and his ship hard, triggering an imbalance in the matter-antimatter flow of the engines and sending the ship into a wormhole!


Finger Puppet Wormhole!

Scotty frets over his wee poor bairns.

They canna take much more 'o this!
Lucky for Kirk (and his crew, and planet Earth, and all that is wholesome and good in the universe), Mister Spock turns up to help out. He'll fix those engines!

Spock returns!

Finger Puppet Spock Returns!

The crew reacts!

Finger Puppet Crew Reacts!

Spock fixes the engines, and the Enterprise cautiously intercepts the cloud. Kirk and McCoy see that Spock has changed, both by his experiences on Vulcan and his communication with the cloud. They wonder if Spock can be trusted...

Kirk and McCoy wonder if Spock is off his rocker.

Kirk and McCoy hope Spock hasn't gone off the deep end.

Attempts at communication yield mixed results; they learn that the cloud is a living entity called V'ger. Mister Spock, eager to know more, enters V'ger's inner chambers in a spacesuit.

Deeper into V'ger

Finger Puppet Spock Walk.
Spock returns from his walk, and informs Admiral Kirk that V'ger is an awesome intelligence...but one whose soul is somehow hollow. V'ger informs Kirk that he will destroy Earth, unless "the creator" answers his calls for communication. Kirk figures out that as a representative of humanity, he might be able to respond. V'ger extends a "space drawbridge" and an oxygen-gravity envelope, so that Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Decker and the "Ilia probe" (an android replacement of an Enterprise crewmember created by V'ger) may commune directly with the space cloud.

Understanding V'ger.

Low-budget climax.
Kirk discovers that V'ger is, in fact, the evolutionary product of an old Earth space probe: Voyager 6. V'ger, in a desperate quest for its creator, demands communion with humanity, and Commander Decker agrees to merge with V'ger, in the person of the Ilia probe.

Decker and Ilia/V'ger merge

Kirk, McCoy, and Spock watch as Decker makes the ultimate sacrifice.
After Decker and V'ger merge, the Enterprise soars free of the cloud, which vanishes in a spectacular shower of light, moving to a higher plane of existence - beyond logic, beyond emotion, beyond humanity. The crew ponders what they have just witnessed...

After the delivery.

Birth of a new life form.

Unique production still of Ron Briscoe and Carrie Humphrey getting into character.

Our finger puppet epic was created with a few important resources: the voice talents of the cast, the dexterity of their fingers, Jeff Shyluk's peerless drawing ability, and Jeff and Susan's ability to create all the sets out of construction paper, Saran wrap, a box of tissue paper, and various household odds and ends. Video effects were created by pointing the video camera at its monitor, which caused visual feedback that simulated Douglas Trumbull's groundbreaking vistas of V'ger.

As usual, my cast (often rounded up against their better judgement) had to put up with physical and emotional discomfort. In order to cram all the characters into a very tiny set, the actors had to crowd together on the floor and thrust their fingers through the set bottoms. This led to some pretty excruciating gymnastics, and the source video is punctuated with cries of "MY LEG!" "I CAN'T BREATHE!" "WHAT'S MY LINE?" "WAIT, THAT'S CHEKOV, NOT SULU!"

Nine more Star Trek movies to finger puppetize...who's in?

Saturday, January 07, 2006

William Shatner's Next Project

I think William Shatner, the 21st century's King of Irony, should consider this. Bill, for your next project, I'd like you to cover Right Said Fred's hit single, "I'm Too Sexy."

I've heard you sing it many times in my head since I came up with idea last week, and I can't wait to hear if your interpretation is as spellbinding as it sounds within the echoing depths of my fevered brain.

Please, Bill - do it for me, and for the people of our bewildered Earth.

I'm too sexy for the Shat - how sexy is that?

Monday, January 02, 2006

How I Spent My Solstice Vacation

In a couple days I start my new job, so it seems appropriate to report on some of my activities since leaving Hole's back in October.

Caught in the act of housekeeping.

Naturally, I spent some time catching up on a few unfamiliar activities, including helping Sylvia with the laundry.

Jeff, Colin and Pete prepare for another round of violent role-playing.

I had plenty of free time for social activities, participating in a number of healthy roleplaying sessions. (During this particular adventure, we had to slaughter several astronauts who were possessed by evil alien beings.)

After seeing King Kong.

Sylvia and I took in a few movies, both at home and at the theatre. I really enjoyed King Kong, particularly the New York sequences and the magnificently staged climax, while Sylvia found the extensive CGI distracting.

Sylvia and the goat.

On Christmas Eve, our friends Colin and Julie were kind enough to invite us over to their acreage for snacks and companionship. There, Sylvia was introduced to this charming baby goat.

Too much cuteness can cause acute nausea., we are not getting a goat.

Sylvia rips open her presents.

Later that evening, we travelled to Sylvia's parents' place to open some Christmas presents.

Beware falling wrapping paper.

The following morning, we repeated the task at my parents' abode.

Earl prepares for the New Year's Eve gathering.

Sylvia and I decided that we should try to host some sort of event this year, which gave me a reason to vacuum.

Woods Bros. Representin', Yo!

Sean came over to help.

Battle of the Seans!

Sean was beside himself before the event.

Sylvia looks on in horror as Sean gulps down a whole bottle of champagne!

But a little liquid courage went a long way.

Earl and Sylvia pose (photo by Sean Woods).

Sylvia and I were looking forward to a better year. 2005 was a little rough, from Lois' passing to family health problems to my own career changes.

Sean catches a bubble (photo by Mike Totman).

With the right attitude, however, such challenges can be overcome.

More tomfoolery in 2006!

Our friends Carl and Suzanne, Mike, and Jim and Marcia joined Sean and Sylvia and I for the passing of one year to the next, and while the gathering was small, I think everyone had a good time. I know I certainly did!

Sylvia and I have resolved to have more fun in 2006, and to respond more effectively to crises. I thought perhaps we might use our place to host Cranium tournaments, so watch this space for dates and times!