Wednesday, June 30, 2010

My Favourite Characters: Avuncular Astromech

Here's Pete Williams' affable minion Mump (from the too-soon-ended Undergrads)sporting his own tribute to the combination sparkplug and Swiss army knife that is one of my all-time favorite characters.

R2-D2 was imagined by George Lucas, Ralph McQuarrie and whoever built the Silent Running robots. He was portrayed by Kenny Baker and voiced by Ben Burtt (same voice as favorite character Wall-E. Coincidence? No). The adorable physicality is coupled with an adorable voice, and it's perfection in one package.

I can't remember a time when I didn't know Artoo. It's not even fair- he's in my DNA, like a conditioned response. I know he's brave, and smart, and loyal. I know he was built by Industrial Automaton. I know that his gadget arsenal includes a ronto prod, a lariat, and an inflatable raft.

I demand your attention with a blog like this, but, to be fair, you already love R2 or you're dead inside.

He's beloved by about a billion children and man-children worldwide.

He's the star of six movies, 4 cartoons, and an embarrassing Christmas special.

He's a shampoo.
He's a soy sauce.
From Arty Deco to BeepBoopBeep, from T-Bob to the MacBook, cuddly robot sidekicks everywhere owe it to the great uncle of cute robots, R2-D2.

There is no stopping him.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Hugos: Way Station by Clifford Simak

In 1964, the Hugo award went to a quiet and thoughtful but surprising and thrilling 'pastoral' novel of realistic science fiction by a dude called Cliff, in which a long-lived shut-in is actually the minder of a way station for alien visitors.

I have a beloved uncle called Cliff who lives a similar existence to the main character, Enoch Wallace: rarely leaving his isolated house. Coincidence?


My uncle enjoys his sci-fi, but is not the first contact point of an extra-terrestrial civilization debating the fate of self-destructive and primitive humanity. So far as I know.

I was quite fond of Way Station, giving it a respectable three stars out of four, though except for digging on the pacifist philosophy I don't recall a lot of details.
I remember that, thanks to alien tech, Enoch's house is impervious to the passage of time. I wish that was true of our house. As, to be frank, I wish my body was also immune. Specifically, I think I'd kill for unrottable teeth. Though, thankfully, I don't have the option, and I hope I never do.

Keep your magic teeth, universe, and let me keep my pacifism.

Enoch is given a choice in this story: to allow humanity the free will to nuke itself, or to let the aliens 'dumb us down' so we don't have the wherewithal to kack ourselves.
That's a tough one, and it presupposes that smart people = sad people.

Which might be true: I'm feeling generally happy and I can barely make a blog work properly- why are those pictures and hyperlinks just jibberish today instead of thumbnails?

Maybe this already happened. After all, I'm not nuked, but thanks to Joel McHale and the Soup I keep getting a glimpse of a very stupid world outside my little sphere.
Beg with all your psychic energy to Space Ulysees that Heidi and Spencer are not the human norm!

Beg, I say!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Yet More Justice Beards: ST:McCoy, Frontier Doctor

Yesterday, I bought a comic I've been looking forward to for months. Of course, all the while I was waiting it was ALREADY on sale and I just never saw the thing. So issues 1 and 2 sold out while I was waiting. Oh, why, oh why didn't I ask Happy Harbor to hold it for me? Still. It comes out in trade by October. Probably.

Get this, I love every word of this:
IDW Comics.
'Star Trek: Leonard McCoy, Frontier Doctor'.
Written and Illustrated by John Byrne.

Byrne is very probably my all-time favorite comic illustrator. His previous Star Trek stuff for IDW (Assignment Earth, Star Trek Romulans, Star Trek Crew) has been just great. I bought the latter two in trade format and am still seeking the first. This fails to mention a lifetime of achievement in sci-fi and superhero drawin'. He's got more talent than me in every hair of his triple-blessed beard.

Also, McCoy is my utter favorite original Trek character. Sarcastic, slightly pervy, a bleeding heart cynic who wants to help everyone everywhere. This story must be set in 2270 or so, as the doc is sporting his 'ST: The Motion Picture' petulant early retirement beard.

Now, stay with me, in this joke cover McCoy's treating a Puppeteer (!), a beloved two-headed alien from the unutterably groovy Known Space Universe novels of Larry Niven. (seen here)

Both Niven and the puppeteer are sporting beards!
Yes, yes it is.

Don't care. Can't give a proper review for this one, since I want to read it in sequence.

But, frankly, I cannot see any way on God's Grey Earth that I won't love this comic.

So, enjoy your weekends, stroke your beards, and be excellent to each other.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Something atypical for my 111th post.

I've never, NOT EVER enjoyed watching them.

As my pal Ron could tell you, soccer is obviously very big right now.

When I was in Grade One, I enjoyed PLAYING soccer. I still like playing (albeit without skill) bowling, badminton, darts, pool, curling, and suchlike. Well, for the Wii.

But watching them. Huh. I can barely recall being, probably, I dunno, young (six?) and eating some unpleasant cookie (a fig newton?) and trying to care about a hockey game my divorced father was watching on his TV. For his sake.

I also recall, with greater clarity, being hit painfully in the shoulder blade with a puck at one of my step-brother's hockey games. I was IN THE STANDS!

Clearly, I have issues. And I'm still every inch the swotty geek with his nose in a book.

Even my favorite sports movie barely has sports. It's 'Off The Mark' (or 'Crazylegs' as it is known in my homeland. Make that mostly UNknown.). It is a reprehensible and awesome little piece of 1987 comedy bordering on soft-core ostensibly set during a triathalon. Like 'Airplane II' only with sports. Also, 'Necessary Roughness' had Dr. Sam Beckett in it.

I can't even really hold my attention to the Olympics.

All I can think during soccer is... is it female topless soccer? Is it some deadly cross between lacross and discus fought by computer programs in the domain of the malevolent MCP? Or female topless TRON-discus? No?

Then I'm sorry to say it doesn't warm the cock...les of my heart.

Although, sports clearly make other people happy and I hate feeling left out...


(That's for my father-in-law.)

Monday, June 21, 2010

My Reviews: Star Wars- The Clone Wars

Greetings! It is I, G-PRIME. I have hacked this lacklustre blogger's review to proclaim to the world the wonder that is Star Wars: The Clone Wars!
I imagine many of you, with your tiny, uninitiated minds thinking: "...the hell? Isn't that just for socially maladapted little boys? Isn't that from George 'Peaked in the Seventies' Lucas? Weren't those prequels disappointing?"

Well, in short, you're WRONG. Lucas has never made a mistake. Ever. Star Wars is perfection! Stop crapping on the stuff I love, idiots!

Why is everyone so distracted by inconsequenials like girls, work, girlfriends, wives... GIRLS! Girls are our enemies! Unless they're Jedi, I suppose. Girl Jedi are acceptable.

There's nothing in the universe I, Gimpy, like more than spending an evening alone in my room at Tekerson Tech, my minion Mump fetching me sugary beverages, with the shades drawn and the newly purchased DVD of this, the finest cartoon on Earth, the pinnacle of human achievement in television, the very dew distilled from heaven: Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

Unless possibly I was watching it with Agent Scully of the X-Files. I expect her clinically logical mind would appreciate it as I do, and that she would patiently leave her questions to the end.

That's 8 hours of sheer bliss! Also, a doctor-recommended replacement for sleep.

Mump! My beverages!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Man, I Love Science!

I was recently accused of being pro-scientist, when clearly and especially after seeing Splice I definitely AM pro-scientist!
For example:

J. Craig Ventor (pictured here) of the humbly-named J. Craig Ventor Institute in Maryland led a team which last month completed a life-form grown in a lab. They used a computer and four chemical bases to create a cell with no biological ancestor.


Mykoplasma Labratorium (Myke for short) is a self-replicating, 'watermarked' version of the naturally occuring single-celled critter mycoplasma mycoides. (I'm so gratified they named it after me!)

Sidebar: the watermarks include the code table for the English alphabet and punctuation, the names of the 46 scientists on Ventor's team, 3 quotations of philosophy, and the cell's web address (for those hoping to ask the cell on a date).

Next up, they hope to define the minimal set of instructions needed to create such life, streamlining and refining the process, making it cheaper and the like. Then they'll begin to design cells with commercial potential, such as biofuels, medicine, environmental applications, or my personal favorite: eating lead and crapping gold.

Ventor and company hope quote: "to ensure that the technology is used for positive purposes and that society understands the science and the issues."

Scientists: without them we'd be freezing in the dark at the mall!

While they're playing god, they very rarely make vicious freaky-deaky creatures like Splice's Dren.

So there.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

My Favourite Characters: A Little Like a Turkey, But Not Much

This year he's 40 years old, and he's one of the first of his kind I ever looked up to (so to speak).

Gonzo The Great, formerly Cigar Box Frackle, (performed with nothing short of genius by Dave Goelz), star of The Muppet Show on stage and screens large and small, appearing in comics, cartoons, theme parks and lunchboxes, this anything muppet is not so much a favorite character as he is one of my very first personal heroes.

Without shame, I assure you, I love Gonzo.

While I have never pursued his interests (I don't even endure roller coasters well, so I won't be catching cannonballs any time soon) and I never dated outside my species (I'd never knock Camilla the Chicken, it seems to work for them), I certainly admire Gonzo's unquenchable enthusiasm.

I hope never to live in a bus station locker or cement mixer, but I'm glad someone can, does, and loves it.

I can't twist my nose completely upside down (oh, not for lack of trying, thanks for the memories, six-year old Mike), but I want to never be afraid to try new things.

Obscure of origin, snazzy of suits, and with the finest of friends, he's known as a weirdo or a whatever.

In one of my favorite exchanges in Boom! Studios The Muppet Show Comic Book by the splendid Roger Langridge, Scooter, pressing for information on Gonzo's species for the insurance forms, approaches him in hospital following a mad, daredevil stunt with a good question:

Weirdo. Artist. Whatever.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Movie Review: Despicable Me

I saw an advance screening of an upcoming movie this past Saturday with my lovely wife, my close friend, and his daughter.

It was Universal Pictures' latest, a CGI comedy churned out by the hard-working animators of France and American vocal talent.

And I must respectfully disagree with Bookmonkey's post regarding the awesomeness of 'Despicable Me'.

While Jason Segel's character Vector is undoubtedly a force to be reckoned with, the true star of the picture and the source of the lion's share of the awesomeness to be had is in the personage of Gru (pictured below).

Gru (voiced by Steve Carell) is a stone-cold old-school super-villain. Greedy, grasping Gru with his underground lair and his deformed minions and his schemes for wealth & power cannot be ignored. Because it's the CLASSICS, the tried and true, that really stand for something.

Like the heavy, steel, jet-propelled car; great for parallel parking.

Or a creepy old mansion, ideal for cooking up cunning plans.

And nobody will argue for long with a traditional freeze ray.

So, with my hat off to Bookmonkey, he is completely in the wrong: 'Despicable Me' is a gorgeously rendered, cleverly written, devilishly funny film treat, but it all comes down to Mr. Gru.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

My Favourite Characters: Surly Space Simian

What's on his mind?

Gaze into stop-motion monkey eyes and ask yourself that very question, gentle blog-o-phile.

My favourite character this week is from my favourite cartoon of the year: Titan Maximum. From the twisted geniuses what brung us Robot Chicken, nine short episodes to date is simply not enough. When it comes out on DVD this August, I strongly encourage it be purchased, watched, and passed on to others. Especially me. Especially because of... monkey.

His name is Leon, 'voiced' by Dan Milano, although he seems entirely non-verbal. In the selfish, bizarre future human culture on the moon of Titan, this monkey is hard at work on the jobs too dull or dangerous for humans.

One of the great, strong silent types, pilot of the left leg of the giant robot mecha Titan Maximum, grudging token monkey in the human crew Titan Force Five, Leon is adorable, stalwart, competant, and makes the foul-mouthed human douchebags he's surrounded by seem all the more ludicrous.

When you can't say something nice...