Thursday, April 6, 2017

Ghost In The Shell - The Quest

I suppose it's time I weigh in on the remake of the anime classic "Ghost In The Shell".

My knee-jerk reaction to remakes is always negative, but this time was a little different - let's just say I'm... apprehensive.

I didn't learn about this remake until only a few weeks shy of its release, and at first became a bit excited because our CGI technology has advanced since this animation was first released over 25 years ago. Even when I heard Scarlett Johansson would play the lead, I still held out hope. But as the story line played out in the trailer, my heart sank a little.

From what I can tell, this live-action movie is going to focus more on "solving the mystery of her origin" and only touch upon the philosophical question of whether self-consciousness equals life. And while there are scenes that mirror the original, it looks like there are plenty of new ones due to this plot change and addition of a few characters. This at least has the basis to be a really good reboot, we'll just have to wait and see.

What I found really sad was that a young movie reviewer on the Fox News channel made the moronic statement that this film reminded him of "The Matrix" and believes this was inspired by the Wachowski Brothers film. If that guy had taken two seconds on Google he would have realized it's the other way around. The original 1995 anime inspired "The Matrix." Just goes to show that the "experts" aren't always experts.

Without actually having watched the film, I'm not going to say much more - this post isn't meant as a movie review, but I do want to view this remake/reboot with an open mind.

Do I believe I'll like it? There is a decent chance I will.

Will I own it? If I like it half as much as the original 1995 movie, yes.

Will I like it more than the original? Highly unlikely. The original will always have that nostalgia for me - that certain mystique I felt at that age of an exciting, action-packed technological future where artificial intelligence and humans team together. 

Until Next Time...
Here's the IMDB page of the new Ghost in the Shell for more info.

Futuristically Yours,

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Never Meet Your Heroes...

... or in this case, follow them on Twitter.

You may have heard the adage before - "Never meet your heroes." The reason for that is because you learn how human they are and you witness their strengths as well as foibles  first hand, and sometimes that can be quite disheartening.

Such is the case with Stephen King. 

I wouldn't call him my hero, but I've enjoyed his fiction since I was a teenager, and have always thought it'd be nice to meet him someday. So when I signed up for Twitter, I began following his account.

I've now decided I have to stop. I can't stand to listen to him whine anymore.

I understand that he didn't support Trump. He's even said more than a few times that because of the Watergate scandal he refuses to vote Republican ever again. Hey, I'm cool with that. The man has his personal political beliefs, and whether I agree with his beliefs or not, those beliefs don't keep me from enjoying his work.

But in the lead up to the November 2016 election and in these months following, his Twitter posts have been predominately political, wholly anti-Trump, and have lacked any sort of intelligent thought.

Don't get me wrong. I follow plenty of anti-Trump people, and probably the same number of pro-Trump people. Unlike many of my "open-minded" friends who immediately block anyone who doesn't believe exactly like they do, I read both sides of any issue/debate.

Unfortunately, though, King constantly posts whiny little quips that completely lack any sort of depth, wit, or thought. I honestly expected him to...well, be a better writer. His tweets are simplistic rehashes of items we've all seen on the news multiple times. If he only posted them once in a while, that'd be fine. But he posts multiple times per day - I sometimes wonder if he's even writing fiction any more, seems like all his time is spent on Twitter now like a teenage girl who can't stop giving updates while at the shopping mall.

My plan is simple. I'll mute his feed for a while, give him a few months to emotionally recover, and then check back in. If he's still going on and on, then I'll stop following him. I'll continue to read his fiction, and I'm sure that King being King, like in the past, he'll get in a political jab or two. But that's okay, I have faith he'll temper his comments for the sake of his fiction.

I still like the guy, just can't follow him on Twitter.

I'm just one guy among his thousands of followers and loyal re-tweeters, I doubt he'll even notice I'm gone.

Until Next Time....
Tweetly Yours,

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Okay, So It Was't Exactly a Banner Year...

Well, usually these types of posts are written during the last week of a year. But me... Hey, I got busy, so I'm a little late on this topic. Plus, my Year In Reading isn't much to brag about this year.

I fell way short of my short story goal, even let my subscription to the Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction expire for a while in an effort to get out from under the rising stack of issues I haven't read yet. The number of novels I finished this year is nothing to boast about, although I did manage to read more classic novels than modern novels, including a reread of Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein," one of my favorites of all time, and squeezed in my annual reread of Dicken's "A Christmas Carol."

I did read a number of Information Technology books, articles, and essays in an effort to keep up with the industry that pays my bills. Then on a personal level, I kept my head buried in a lot of cookbooks and woodworking books. I lived through a total top-to-bottom bathroom remodel, and adopted an Olde English Bulldog (named Zeus by the previous owner, which sort of brought to my attention that the past three out of four animals I've owned have been named after mythological figures, and five out of the last five pets have been named from fictional characters -- I'm sensing a theme here).

The blogs continue on, not regularly, but enough to let folks know I'm still alive. I tweet at least once per day from at least one of my accounts, but for all purposes have practically sworn off Facebook completely - the last time I logged on to that bit social media was pre-November election, I just couldn't stand the bitterness and hatred BOTH sides were throwing at each other. All I learned from that was how hypocritical both sides can be - each thinking of themselves as "open minded" when in fact, neither of them are.

Other than those little tidbits of news, life for me has remained pretty normal - the novel continues, the poetry continues, and I've brought my book hoarding pretty much under control.

So that's it -- the Year 2016 in Review.

Until Next Time...
If you have a bit of scrap wood around you're wanting to find a project for, I've linked in two videos on how to build your own Tardis. (If you have to ask what the Tardis is, you're reading the wrong blog). The first one is more instructional by a by a man in Oakland, and the second one is by a nerdy English woman who enjoys poking fun at herself.

Annually Yours,

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Just How Many Humbugs Are There

I'm finishing up my yearly reread of Dickens's "A Christmas Carol." I could post a little something about it and its staying power in our culture, but thousands of people before me have done it and said it better than I can.

Instead, I thought I'd do what I do best - Make an Irrelevant List.

Since I love the book so much and many of the adaptations, I thought I'd give a stab at listing all the movie and television movie versions with the actor or actress who played the part of Scrooge. I won't list the many television cartoon or sitcom recreations because that'd make this list too long.

So here, in chronological order, is a list of "A Christmas Carol" adaptations:

Scrooge (1901) -cast list unknown
A Christmas Carol (1908) - Thomas Ricketts
A Christmas Carol (1910) - Marc McDermott
Scrooge (1913) - Sir Seymour Hicks and retitled Old Scrooge for its U.S. release in 1926.
A Christmas Carol (1914) - Charles Rock
The Right to Be Happy (1916) - Rupert Julian
A Christmas Carol (1923) Russell Thorndike
Old Scrooge (1926) - Sir Seymour Hicks
Scrooge (1928) - Bransby Williams
Scrooge (1935) - Sir Seymour Hicks
A Christmas Carol (1938) - Reginald Owen
Scrooge: A Christmas Carol (1951) - Alastair Sim
Scrooge (1970) - Albert Finney
Mickey's Christmas Carol (1983) - Scrooge McDuck
The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992) - Michael Caine
A Christmas Carol (1997) - Tim Curry
A Christmas Carol (1999) - Patrick Stewart
Christmas Carol: The Movie (2001) -voice: Simon Callow
A Christmas Carol (2009) - computer animated with Jim Carrey

Again, this list doesn't encompass the dozens of random cartoon versions that exist, and doesn't include the hundreds of foreign language versions of the book.

Whenever discussing movie version of this classic tale, the question always comes up: Who is the best Scrooge?

The Boss and I only slightly disagree. To her, Alister Sim is the best, closely followed by Michael Caine, and nearly all movie critics agree with her. Personally, I switch the two, Caine followed by Sim. If you haven't watched Caine in the Muppet version, you should give it a try. Honestly, Caine does a wonderful job as Scrooge, but doesn't get the full credit he deserves because it's a Muppet version. The good movie critics, thankfully, give him his due.

So since this is the end of this entry, log off your computer, snuggle in, and either read the book or watch the movie. Slow down, enjoy the Season, and keep Christmas in your heart the whole year long.

Until Next Time...
If I need to convince you, then maybe this movie trailer will help. 
Spiritly Yours,

Monday, November 21, 2016

A Must-Read for Science Fiction and Horror Fans

I've been reading some more non-fiction lately than usual - a lot of technical stuff for work, and a lot of food stuff for my foodblog. I did manage to squeeze in a Star Trek novel, and I do manage to hammer out a little more on the fantasy novel everyday, but since March or so, my brain and time have been occupied with things other than keeping you folks on the edge of your seat.

My last published entry dealt with Moby Dick (1851), an American classic. This entry, though, will deal with a European classic that straddled the shifting literary trend from Gothic fiction to the slowly building age of Romantic literature. You know it as "Frankenstein" by Mary Shelley. Technically, it's "Frankenstein; or The Modern Prometheus," but that's usually something only us real geeks know.

It's a brilliant novel which explores themes of the general nature of mankind, morality, compassion, vengeance, and revenge. It's nothing like the Universal monster movies that everyone knows; it lacks the iconic character of Igor, who was created strictly for the movies, and Victor Frankenstein is not a doctor. In addition, there is even an entire section where the unnamed "monster" tells his side of the story.  

At first, Shelley published it anonymously in 1818 to only fair reviews. A few years later, the reprints included her name, which caused a small handful of critics to argue whether a woman could have written it, and another small handful of critics who said the novel's few flaws were directly because a woman wrote it.

With time, as we all know, it has become a classics novel in its own right, and can be credited with being one of the earliest science fiction as horror stories. The story is compelling, enough so that it's difficult to put down at times, and the language is quite beautiful throughout despite the novel's themes and mood. As an example, I thought I might include a few of the more thoughtful quotes below:
When Victor Frankenstein realizes that he's become obsessed with creating life from inanimate flesh:
"If the study to which you apply yourself has a tendency to weaken your affections and to destroy your taste for those simple pleasures in which no alloy can possibly mix, then that study is certainly unlawful, that is to say, not befitting the human mind." 

The point in the narrative when the unnamed creation decides to turn to evil to punish mankind for its sins:
"For the first time the feelings of revenge and hatred filled my bosom, and I did not strive to control them, but allowing myself to be borne away by the stream I bent my mind towards injury and death."

And another line spoken by the unnamed creation:
"Of what a strange nature is knowledge! It clings to the mind when it has once seized on it like a lichen on the rock."  

Finally, I've decided to include this last quote as well, solely because the Mel Brooks comedy "Young Frankenstein" included it when Frederick Frankenstein read from his grandfather's private library, and I'm a geek who is always on the look out for little bits of trivia like this:
"After days and nights of incredible labour and fatigue, I succeeded in discovering the cause of generation and life; nay, more, I became myself capable of bestowing animation upon lifeless matter."

 Overall, it's a short novel per se, and one that's well worth reading, especially if you've only ever seen movie versions. I've read it multiple times now and I'm always discovering and rediscovering numerous wonderful parts. If you take the time to give it a spin, I'm sure you'll enjoy it.

Until Next Time...
Victorly Yours,