Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Stuff You Should Know About

One of the things I love the most about the blogoshpere is all the free stuff I seem to be able to find. Mostly I've gotten free books (which is wonderful) an occasionally free DVD's or T'shirts. But a printer? There's this blog that I go to. It's called Confessions of a Pioneer Woman. It's not a sci-fi/fantasy blog at all. What it is is one of the best blogs on the net. Ree, the author (or the Pioneer Woman-- P'Dub) writes and takes pictures about her life in the country (....one calf-nut at a time). Her pictures are wonderful and she regularly runs contests that have some unusually fantastic prizes. She has given away as much $500 on Amazon before-- it doesn't get any better than that. Today, she has a Give that photo a name contest and the prize package is "*Prize package will include HP C8180 All-in-One Printer, ink cartridges, 2 packages of 8.5 x 11″ glossy photo paper, 2 packages of 4 x 6 glossy photo paper, and a package of heavy card stock, because the photos actually print nicely on it, too." I thought it was too good not to mention. But you gotta enter before 7pm today! In other, not as exciting (or expensive) news, I have a book giveaway on my book review blog, so you can Check that out. The Fantasy Book Critic, as always, has some great giveaways going on, including Aurelia's Colors, a set of Kitty Norville books and Debatable Space. SciFi Signal is giving away two Gail Martin books. And Pat's Fantasy Hotlist has told us to be on the lookout for tons of giveaways (Snow Crash by Neil Stephenson is available now). He says he has more coming up than he has ever had before, so be sure to check his blog often.

Monday, January 28, 2008

They Had Me at Daniel Craig

From the Associated Press. New Bond Film: Quantum of Solace IVER HEATH, England (AP) — Bond is back — and he wants revenge. Producers have revealed some of the secrets about the latest James Bond film, due for release later this year, including the inner turmoil that drives its suave superagent hero and its title: "Quantum of Solace." As titles go, it's not as mellifluous as "From Russia With Love" or "Goldfinger." But Daniel Craig, returning as Bond after 2006's "Casino Royale," says he likes it. "It has grown on me," Craig told reporters on the film's set at Pinewood Studios near London on Thursday. "It doesn't trip off the tongue. But why should it?" Producer Michael G. Wilson said the title, chosen only a few days ago, was taken from a story by Bond creator Ian Fleming that appears in the collection "For Your Eyes Only." Craig said Fleming defined a quantum of solace — it means, roughly, a measure of comfort — as "that spark of niceness in a relationship that if you don't have, you might as well give up." Filming began earlier this month at Pinewood, the franchise's home since the 1960s. It's a direct sequel to 2006's "Casino Royale," beginning an hour after that film ends, with Bond devastated by his betrayal by true love Vesper Lynd. "He had his heart broken at the end of the last movie and that certainly is a spur for him in this one," Craig said. "I'd be lying if I said there wasn't revenge in his heart. But it's more than that. That spurs him on, but that's not what the movie is. It's not a revenge movie. It's about him figuring a few things out." Producer Barbara Broccoli said the film, directed by Marc Forster ("Monster's Ball," "The Kite Runner"), mixes Bond's "inner turmoil" with action — and of course gadgets — as he tries to stop a shadowy cabal trying to bring down the world economy. Craig's second Bond adventure continues in the gritty vein of "Casino Royale," in which a rough-edged 007, newly granted his "license to kill," bled, sweat and felt real emotion. But Wilson promised it also has "twice as much action" as its predecessor. "It's pretty jam-packed," he said. Filming began at Pinewood three weeks ago. Location shooting will take place in Italy, Austria, Panama, Chile and Peru. Mathieu Amalric is a new addition as villain Dominic Greene. But the French actor, star of the Oscar-nominated "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly," won't be sporting a trademark tic like many of his predecessors. He and Forster decided his villainy should come from within. "That's maybe what is horrible about today," Amalric said. "We can't guess who the villains are. The villains are invisible." Amalric said he modeled his character to some extent on former Prime Minister Tony Blair and French President Nicolas Sarkozy. "I've been taking details, the smile of Tony Blair, the craziness of Sarkozy, he's the worst villain we've ever had," he said. Bond may find solace — producers are coy — in the arms of two Bond Girls — Ukrainian Olga Kurylenko as a feisty Bolivian named Camille and Gemma Arterton as an MI6 agent named Fields. "In the movie, he is obviously still attached to his past," said Kurylenko. "The appearance of this new girl might divert him. Or, it might not." Craig, who overcame public skepticism — a blond Bond? — to win rave reviews for "Casino Royale," said he still felt nervous about the role. "All the fear I felt before is still there," he said. "This is a $200 million movie, and it's James Bond. We have to make it great. The smile of Tony Blair? Oooooh, creepy. ;)

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Books That Make You Dumb

I saw this over at SciFi Signal (who picked up the list at Books that make you dumb) and had to post it. Notice where The Bible fits in. I'm just sayin'..... (click on the link to "books that make you dumb" for a clearer look at the whole chart) I also don't get how "Atlas Shrugged" scored so high in the rankings. Gag. And "Eragon" ranks ahead of "Fahrenheit 451"???? But hey, sci-fi and fantasy seems to do okay overall. Here's how they came up with the list: Get a friend of yours to download, using Facebook, the ten most popular books at every college (manually -- as not to violate Facebook's ToS). These ten books are indicative of the overall intellectual milieu of that college. Download the average SAT/ACT score for students attending every college. Presto! We have a correlation between books and dumbitude (smartitude too)! Books <=> Colleges <=> Average SAT Scores Plot the average SAT of each book, discarding books with too few samples to have a reliable average. Post the results on your website, pondering what the Internet will think of it.Yes, I'm aware correlation ≠ causation. The results are awesome regardless of direction of causality. You can stop sending me email about this distinction. Thanks. Legions of Literature majors harangued about Lolita's categorization as "Erotica" instead of "Classics". Fine. I've already updated the entry and rankings. Tomorrow I'll make a new version of the images with Lolita in "Classics". You all lack any sense of humor. Average SAT (with margin of error) for the 100 most popular books on facebook. The vertical axis doesn't mean anything.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Old KITT vs. New KITT

Until the Knight Rider movie airs in February, there's no way of knowing if the it will be worth watching. What we do know is that Pontiac is not currently producing the Trans Am and so the producers of the movie have elected to use the soon-to-be-released Mustang Shelby GT500KR. Here's a look at the Shelby in action. And Popular Mechanics gives us the breakdown of the old vs. the new. Knight Industries Two Thousand: 1982 Pontiac Trans Am Vehicle Type: Front engine, rear-wheel drive, two-door coupe Engine Type: Knight Industries turbojet with modified afterburners Transmission: Eight-speed microprocessor turbodrive with autopilot Price New: $11,400,000 (est.) Acceleration: 0 to 60 mph: 0.2 seconds with power boosters. Standing quarter mile: 4.286 seconds Braking (70 to 0 mph): 14 ft. Fuel Economy: Classified, but thought to be 200 mpg Knight Industries Three Thousand: 2008 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500KR Vehicle Type: Front engine, on-demand all-wheel drive, two-door coupe Engine Type: Aluminum block/titanium heads 5.4-liter V8 internal combustion with Whipple supercharger and Knight Industries liquid air cycle auxiliary turbine engine. 540 hp in Hero mode. Power output can’t be measured in Attack mode. Transmission: Continuously variable transmission with infinite power band Price New: $45.6 million, as tested Acceleration: 0 to 60 mph: 1.77 seconds. Standing quarter mile: 3.87 seconds Braking (300 to 0 mph): 12 ft. Fuel Economy: Not testable Get a load of the price tag on the Mustang! (Not that the Trans Am was cheap) I don't know if this show will be silly or not. But I'll give it a chance.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Sad Sad Sad

How friggin' weird. Heath Ledger was found dead today. Hollywood actor Heath Ledger has been found dead at a residence in downtown Manhattan. "He was found unconscious at the apartment and pronounced dead," the New York Police Department said, adding that pills were found near the body. Police are reportedly investigating if the Australian actor, who earned an Oscar nomination for Brokeback Mountain, died of a drug overdose. You can read the full article HERE. I really liked Ledger as an actor and have been literally beside myself with excitement over the upcoming "Dark Knight" movie in which Ledger played The Joker. I'm not one of those people who think that, just because I've seen them in an interview, I know a celebrity. Their private lives generally bear little resemblance to the one they show in public and certainly have little to do with the roles they play. But it is still a little jarring when a celebrity dies, especially one that is so young. It just kind of bums me out a little.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Some Upcoming Sci-fi/Fantasy Movie Releases for 2008

I'm sure I don't have to tell you how excited I am for some of 2008's scheduled movie releases, but I was surprised at how many sci-fi oriented films are coming out this year. I can't claim to be totally optimistic after some of the flops of last year (name your sequel-- "Spiderman," "Pirates of the Caribbean," "Fantastic Four") but I think this year has some pretty solid contenders. The top of my to-see list this year has to be the sequel to "Batman Begins" : The Dark Knight. If you haven't seen the pirated trailer yet, watch it here. If the whole movie is as good as this six minutes, it ought to be fantastic. Release date: July 18. Indian Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is another absolute must see this year. Karen Allen is back as Marion and rumor has it that Shia LeBeouf's character (Mutt) might be Indy and Marion's son. We'll see.... Release date: May 22 I was totally taken by surpise by the fact that Hellboy 2 was being released this year. Heck, I didn't even know it was being made. How did I miss that? This is one of the most truly original comic book series to make it to the big screen and I can't wait to see Ron Perlman back in action. Release date: July 11. One of the most hyped movies of the year is an early release-- tomorrow in fact. J. J. Abrams' Cloverfield has had all kinds of attention and speculation and now we'll finally know what all the fuss is about. I have to admit though, I probably won't view this one in the theatre. The trailer footage makes it look as if the movie is filmed "Blair Witch" style and I don't know if I can sit through that again. If anyone else happens to watch it though, let me know what you think. Jumper, one of several YA fiction books that has made it to the big screen debuts on Valentines Day. I hadn't heard of this one but it could be interesting. Hayden Christensen stars as a young man who discovers he has the ability to teleport. I guess now we'll find out if he can blame his bland performance in "Star Wars" on George Lucas or not. Just the day after "Jumper" hits theatres, The Spiderwick Chronicles will make its screen debut. My daughter loves these books so I'm hoping the movie is good since there is a very good chance I will have to sit through it. Another comic book hero making an appearance this year is Iron Man. I don't really know what to think of this yet; there are too many unknowns. Like, can Robert Downey Jr. play a superhero? And can Jon Favreau direct a movie like this? I will probably wait for the review before I decide whether or not to see this one. Release date: May 2. Another movie I'm a bit unsure of is Speed Racer. I've seen the trailer and frankly, it just looks strange. But I'm not a big fan of cartoonish looking live-action films. But who knows, it could be good. Release date: May 9. One movie that is probably going to be a sure-fire hit this year is The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. I hate to admit it, but I haven't sat all the way through the first one. You know how it is when you're not in the mood... But I heard it was good. Release date: May 16. There are several more movies to add to this list, but I'm going to make this post a two-parter. Gotta get up early tomorrow and all that. :) But I'd love to hear what everyone is looking forward to this year, and if there are any movies I haven't yet mentioned that need to be on the to-see list for this year.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Guest Review: Rogue Angel: Teller of Tales

Last week I put up a post about the new Rogue Angel graphic novel, "Teller of Tales" to see if anyone wanted to take a look at some PDF files I got as a preview. Fortunately (for me-- since I know little about graphic novels) Arrakis was interested in taking a look.

Here's what he had to say:

First of all, the cover. Rebecca Wrigley presents a very good cover with a different style from those of the novels that tend to more simple and elegant. Of course, Wrigley's style is more appropriate for a graphic novel. Renae de Liz does a good job by giving the series her unique style. But what is really the strong point is the story itself. Barbara Kesel presents an excellent plot that involves Mark Twain and a conspiracy. The first 22 pages achieves the goal of capture the reader's attention, making the story line the very soul of this project.

Oh, I noticed something interesting about the cover. It's about the cowboy in the right side. Check the image. Is that a coincidence?

Oooooh, nice catch on the Wyatt Earp picture. I would never have noticed that. ~SQT

Monday, January 14, 2008

I Think it Didn't Suck

Man, it's getting sad. I didn't think I'd care too much about the writer's strike, but it's getting in the way of my uninterrupted entertainment. Is it too much to ask for a new episode of "Reaper?" I mean, the new "American Gladiator" and "Celebrity Rehab" just aren't doing it for me-- though the rehab show is fully stocked with enough real-time train wrecks to satisfy the schadenfreude in all of us. So I was looking forward to last nights premier of "The Sarah Connor Chronicles" more than I would have ordinarily and though it didn't blow me away right off, it shows some promise. It picks up about two years after "T2" ended. As far as John and Sarah know, the Apocalypse may never come and they have let down their guard long enough for Sarah to fall in love and become engaged. But domestic bliss freaks Sarah out enough to jolt her into moving and this actually alerts the robots her whereabouts and the hunt begins again. Sarah and John end up in a small Arizona town where both the hunter-robot and protector-robot find them very quickly and the public shoot-outs begin. The show definitely follows the pattern set by the movies and in that way is a bit predictable; only this time we get a teenage girl as the protector instead of Arnold Swarzenneger. Summer Glau (River from "Firefly") is the young cyborg and she is probably the best thing about the show so far. Lena Headly ("300") does her best to have the edge that Linda Hamilton brought to the character of Sarah Connor in "T2" but seems more domesticated than Hamilton ever did. And, thankfully, this John Connor (Thomas Dekker) is a less obnoxious version than we've seen in the past. (I can't claim to have been a big fan of Edward Furlong) In general I thought the show showed some promise but it could fall flat quick if it gets too repetitive. I will hold out hope though, if "Prison Break" can manage to keep fresh content coming within a fairly restricted storyline, then it's possible to keep this one afloat with decent writing. Oh wait, that might be a problem....

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Please Don't Suck, Please Don't Suck...

The Sarah Connor Chronicles premiers tonight and People magazine kind of gave it a "meh" review. Damn. They don't like sci-fi at People anyway, do they? I'm sick of repeats and I want this show to be good darn it. However, I am soooooo excited that Christian Bale has signed on to play John Connor in the 4th installment of the Terminator series. I'd be screaming on the inside but McG (the director who did the gawdawful Charlies Angel movies) is supposed to direct. I don't know what to think.

Friday, January 11, 2008

BSG Final Season Clues

Entertainment Weekly posted a Last Supper type picture of the Battlestar Galactica cast to give us clues to the final season. (This is a bad picture-- but I've had issues with the better resolution picture messing up my blog. Click on the link to see it full sized) Is it hokey? Maybe a little. But I love trying to figure out what it means.

Here's the text of the clues they've given on the poster (as given by Executive Producer Ron Moore)

1. President Laura Roslin: Of the cancer afflicted Roslin, Moore will just say this: "

2.Natalie (Tricia Helfer): A new version of Cylon Number Six will emerge this season. Explains Moore: "She assumes a leadership position for a group of Cylons [that have] a separate agenda from the rest of them."

3. Saul Tigh: For the XO who has just realized he's a Cylon, says Moore: "You might literally take the composition in terms of Tigh turning a blind eye."

4. Lee Adama: The brooding (Judas like?) former pilot is still in his civilian suit. "He does not return to flight status" says Moore.

5. Gaius Baltar & Number Six: Even though Baltar seemed to be on the savior track, "that's not really what the story is about" explains Moore. "Baltar's Six has proclaimed that she is delivering the gospel of the (Cylon's) one true god, so it seemed natural to place her at the center of the photo."

6. Kara (Starbuck) Thrace & Samuel Anders: The presumed dead Starbuck returned at the same time her husband, Anders, discovered he's a Cylon. So that complicates their relationship, no? "It does," says Moore, "but [note] that the only one embracing Starbuck is Anders."

7. Galen (The Chief) Tyrol: "The Chief does not have a pleasant time of it this season," says Moore of how Tyrol deals with his discovery that he too is a frakkin' toaster. His child with fellow grunt Cally would seem to be the second human-Cylon hybrid, and, hints Moore, "one should consider the knife in his hand in that context."

8. Sharon (Athena) Valerii & Karl (Helo) Agathon: The unholy human-Cylon couple is looking warily at someone across the table, but Moore won't say whom: "The person they're looking at is definitely reacting."

9. William Adama: Though the Admiral and the President are as far apart as possible, says Moore, "they're also turned toward each other."

10. The Missing Figure: Someone is indeed absent from the table, admits Moore: "We have not revealed the final [unknown] Cylon." Does that the mean the people already at the table aren't the final Cylon? Moore laughs, "you ferreted that out pretty slyly. I didn't want to give that away."

Hmmm, any ideas anyone?

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

On Death...

I don't know about everyone else, but when my life is full of stress I like my entertainment to be as mindless as possible--entertainment that doesn't force me to think. Conversely, when my life is cruising along smoothly I always end up drifting back to books and movies with darker content. I like stuff that explores the darker side of the human psyche but I need to be in my happy place to handle the extra baggage. Fortunately for me, life has been good to me lately and I've been going back and reading some great dark fiction-- serial killers, monsters, children-in-peril; all that upbeat stuff. Other than fantasy, my favorite type of fiction is in the mystery-thriller genre. I've mentioned before that I love John Sandford, Dennis Lehane and pretty much any other author that can pump up the suspense while exploring twisted human motivations. I read a book last week called "Heart Sick" that has the unusual element of a female serial killer--almost in the Hannibal Lecter vein; good stuff. But what it really got me thinking about is how different genres handle death. I love looking at different themes in entertainment and how they're handled. When I read suspense fiction--without any fantasy/sci-fi elements-- death is finite and very very scary. But fantasy and science fiction offers both the author and the reader/viewer certain loopholes where death is concerned. I mentioned before in my post about Christ figures in sci-fi and how resurrection is a common out when a hero is killed. And even beyond resurrection you have so many types of fantasy/sci-fi characters that never seem to die. It seems like every book that features mages or elves gives those particular personas eternal, or very long life. Paranormal fiction is all the rage right now and vampires--in all their eternal life--seem to be leaping out of every book. Death can also be a literal character in fantasy. Christoper Moore features death as a job in a comedic interpretation in A Dirty Job and Piers Anthony put his stamp on the subject in his book On a Pale Horse. I've always loved books like this; that try to put death and the afterlife into some kind of context. Which is also very likely why I was so enthralled with Greek Myth when I was younger. And I think that's whats so great about fantasy and sci-fi. There always seems to be this yearning toward understanding the mysteries we live with every day. I will, probably until I die, believe that religion comes from a simple desire to know what faces us after death. If we can put a face on it, it is much less scary. That doesn't mean any religion or faith is wrong, it simply means that we won't know the answers until we pass beyond the veil ourselves. Until then, I will continue to enjoy the stories that others tell to try to make sense of probably life's greatest mystery.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Rogue Angel Goes Graphic--Anyone Wan't to Check it Out?

I don't know how many people who check out this blog like to read graphic novels, but I've gotten some cool emails from IDW Publishing about the Rogue Angel series and its new graphic novel interpretation.

San Diego, CA (December 7, 2007)—Starting in February, explosive pulp adventure takes on a whole new meaning when IDW Publishing and Gold Eagle Books (www.readgoldeagle.blogspot.com/) release the first issue of their newly formed publishing partnership—Rogue Angel: Teller of Tall Tales, an original comic book tale featuring Gold Eagle’s bestselling prose heroine, Annja Creed, the daring archeologist and modern heir to Joan of Arc’s mystical sword. And the action and adventure will pick up even more steam in April with the release of Don Pendleton’s The Executioner: The Devil’s Tools #1, featuring the immensely popular and long-running action hero, Mack Bolan.
Read the rest of the article HERE.

I haven't read any of the books yet, so they're going to send me a couple. But in the meantime, they have sent me some PDF files of the graphic novels.

I'm intrigued but I wouldn't mind some extra feedback. If anyone is interested in checking out the Rogue Angel graphic novels, let me know and I'll forward the files to you. I'd especially like it if someone who really likes graphic novels would look at them at maybe give an advanced review of the book. I don't know for sure, but I could probably get myself a hard copy of it as soon as it's released and pass it on to whomever does the advanced review for me.

Let me know if you're interested.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

The Making of a Bad Blogger

We went and bought "Guitar Hero" yesterday. My hands are so cramped I can barely type this. Seriously. I've never played a video game before and I am addicted to this thing, and I'm still on the "easy" level. What have I gotten myself into?

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Does This Have the Makings of a Controversy?

For the first time, I've seen a story about J.J. Abrams new movie, Cloverfield 1-18-08 on television. But rather than talk about the incredibly successful viral marketing campaign that has been all over the web, they chose to focus on this movie poster instead. Interesting. Apparently, according to a somber faced Neil Cavuto, the image is far too reminiscent of 9/11 to be accidental and must be a deliberate attempt on the part of the movie makers to grab our attention and cash in on the imagery. They even went so far as to bring in a 9/11 widow to weigh in on the topic. (I tried to find some links to the newscast but haven't been able to). I admit, I'm tempted to see the side of things that says the background of the poster looks a little bit like the Twin Towers burning but I still don't think this is grounds for a whole lot of controversy. Clearly, we're supposed to assume a gigantic monster of some kind has just devastated the Statue of Liberty before swimming over to Manhattan to continue its rampage. Last time I checked there weren't any monsters currently in the employ of terrorists. Maybe I'm making light of this. After all, I didn't lose anyone in the 9/11 attacks and there is a scene in the trailer that is eerily reminiscent of a video taken on 9/11 that shows a massive debris cloud moving outside a store. But sometimes the PC police and the media drive me a bit nuts. I'd wager most people have either been in, or lost someone to, a traffic accident. But you don't see people losing their minds whenever a traffic accident is shown on T.V. Okay, maybe that's too common to be a good analogy. But I think you get the point. For some reason New York seems to be a popular setting for disaster movies and frankly any damage done is probably going to involve smoke and flames from tall buildings. So does this mean that no disaster movies should be set in New York to spare the delicate sensibilities of anyone who remembers 9/11? Or am I just being unsympathetic? After all, despite any resemblances, intended or otherwise, it is a monster movie. Perhaps there is an intention to shock us with the images of destruction that look like 9/11. Or maybe they're simply simulating real-life footage to more accurately show what a catastrophe on that scale would look like. Or maybe we're just really, really over thinking this.