Thursday, July 29, 2010

Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome

There is a possibility that the Syfy channel will be creating a new Battlestar Galactica web series called Blood & Chrome which follows the military career of young William Adama.  If this happens it sounds like we'll have around ten episodes each with a 10 minute duration. These would be heavily influenced by military films like The Hurt Locker.
One thing that might make this less than amazing is that it would be 100% shot with blue or green screen digital background. There are countless examples of how this does not work well. More and more examples are showing us that its a do-able technique (AVATAR). We shall see....

Exclusive: 'Battlestar Galactica' sets up a Young Adama spinoff

--Posted by Maureen Ryan
Those who've been hoping for a new chapter of the "Battlestar Galactica" story may get their wish.
An online series called "Blood & Chrome" is in the works, one that would follow the experiences of a young William "Husker" Adama in the first Cylon War.
According to Mark Stern, Syfy's executive vice president of original programming and the co-head of original content for Universal Cable Productions, "Battlestar Galactica" and "Caprica" co-executive producer Michael Taylor will write the the script for the new venture.
battlestar galactica "Blood & Chrome" is "about a young man's initiation into war: both the realities of war as fought by soldiers on the ground (and in Battlestars and Vipers), and the somewhat less real version portrayed in the media," according to Taylor.

"Blood & Chrome" would consist of nine or 10 episodes of nine or 10 minutes each, and it would make use of cutting-edge digital technology and special effects to depict the Cylon War. If it is greenlit to production, it will be filmed using green screens and virtual sets, not unlike Syfy's "Sanctuary" or James Cameron's "Avatar." Before "Battlestar Galactica" ended, high-tech scans were made of all the show's sets, so that the special-effects team will be able to re-create them (possibly even in 3D).
"I've seen the virtual, 3D version of CIC ['Battlestar's' Combat Information Center] and it's pretty damn cool," Taylor said. "And yet the movie isn't confined to Galactica. Far from it. It's a story that will take us to new corners of the 'Battlestar' world (or worlds), and yet it aims to be a very contemporary war movie in a lot of ways. I would say I'm thinking as much of Afghanistan and Iraq--the reality of 'Hurt Locker,' Sebastian Junger's 'Restrepo,' and similar movies--as I am about about the largely implied past of 'Battlestar.'"
Though Taylor said he'll strive for the kind of emotional engagement that was the hallmark of "Battlestar," which ended in 2009, expect lots of of cliffhangers and visceral suspense as well. "We're not going to be shying away from R-rated blood and guts and sex," Taylor noted. "Because this is initially meant to air online, we pretty much have no restrictions in that department."
It's not known yet if "Blood & Chrome" would star Nico Cortez, the actor cast as young Adama in "Razor," a previous "Battlestar Galactica" movie. There may be one other character from "Razor" in the new online series, but it would feature a mostly new cast.
If "Blood & Chrome" is successful, it could be the first a series of similar projects, and if it's judged very successful, it could even act as a backdoor pilot for a TV show set in that war-torn "BSG" era.
Speaking of the Cylon War, "Caprica," a Syfy drama that depicts events leading up to that conflagration, visited Comic-Con over the weekend. Audio of the panel and a brief panel report are below.

Caprica Comic-Con panel

Judging by the Season 1.5 clip shown at the start of the show's panel, when "Caprica" returns in January, it will have a lot more action, narrative tension and drive. The show, which was disappointingly uneven in its first set of episodes despite its strong cast, certainly needed all those things.
Now that "Caprica's" world and characters have been established, the show's challenge is to "create situations and dramatic milieu as intense and riveting as what we did on 'Battlestar,'" executive producer David Eick said at the Comic-Con panel. That's the goal for the second half of the first season and for the second season, if the show gets one.

In Season 1.5, James Marsters will return as terrorist Barnabus Greeley, Scott Porter will be back as polygamist Nestor Willow and John Pyper-Ferguson will return as Tomas Vergis, a business rival of tech titan Daniel Graystone.

Barnabus is "looking out on a society that's eating itself alive as far as he's concerned. …. He's disgusted," said Marsters, who was on the panel (and who, by the way, confirmed that he'll reprise his role as Brainiac in the 200th episode of "Smallville").

"Caprica" will also return to New Cap City, a virtual game that was effectively showcased in Season 1's most compelling episode, "There Is Another Sky." That hour found Tamara, a character who was dead in the real world, trapped in a videogame in which she found she had special powers.
Virtual worlds like New Cap City will be important as the show moves forward, as will the robots that Daniel Graystone created in the wake of his family's personal trauma. Creating a slave class of robots will have serious consequences for Caprical going forward.
And in the second half of the season, viewers will see many more iterations of Zoe, the young woman who was instrumental in the creation of the Cylons. When it comes to what Zoe does in the second half of the season, "I don't think you're expecting what's going to happen," actress Alessandra Torresani said at the panel. 
Will "Caprica" get a second season? Ronald D. Moore, "Caprica" co-creator and executive producer, said on the panel that he "firmly believes" it will. That decision will be made in coming weeks by Syfy executives.
One last tidbit related to the "Battlestar" world: Taylor is also developing a potential Syfy pilot for Scott Stuber's Stuber Productions. It's tentatively called "The Watchers," and it deals in the kind of contemporary social and political issues that "Battlestar" frequently explored.
It's set in the world of corporate espionage, and the characters at the center of the drama worry about the power they've been given to spy on the lives of ordinary citizens -- yet having such power also allows them to do good as well.


Monday, July 26, 2010


Sherlock was great!

The story is told from a typical television perspective, the audience switching and following whoever. It primarily started out following Dr. John Watson which is familiar with the novels. But the 'camera' left John and showed scenes of the police public release with the media and also sometimes followed Sherlock. These Sherlock scenes were interesting using text on screen to follow his logic. A nice way to portray how something so minute appears so obvious to Sherlock like literally reading the pages of a book. It very nicely done. This technique was also used to show the audience what text messages the characters where receiving said (which happens quite a lot in this episode).

The bait and switch 'villain' that paid Watson a visit caught my wife and me and was fantastic as well as quite humorous.

So far I found Sherlock character to be more rude than the novel representation, but this might be evident because of the era. The novelized Holmes may just come off as more polite because of the Victorian era. Had that version of Sherlock been in modern times, this very well could be what he'd be like. I guess I just didn't like him shouting at Ms. Hudson like that.

This first episode, A Study in Pink, went off the tracks in several points from its origin, A Study in Scarlet. Scarlet was the first novel featuring Holmes and Watson and this episode was very faithful to the events that led the two to meet. It was another interesting twist to flip-flop the case's Rache clue like that (in the book it was one of the investigators that assumed the word was the first part of the name Rachel where Holmes figured it to be the German translation for revenge. Here the respective roles were reversed with Holmes correct about it again). Of course the book's villain, Jefferson Hope, was better and even very likable. There was very little appealing about Pink's version of the villain. Sponsored serial killers are an interesting concept, however.

Gary's Gold Mine

Sunday afternoon on our way home from church my wife spotted a garage sale sign that listed comics among other things. Later she granted me leave to go check it out. What I found was Gary's Gold Mine!

Here is his Craigs List ad.This ad is expired, but Gary said depending on the weather he hosts this sale from his garage around twice a month all summer long.

Several titles from my back-issues list were marked as found from his $0.25 bins (which I find almost therapeutical to thumb through) and I spied many more I'd like to come back and pick up at a later date. There were more than a dozen long boxes full of comics. There was also a whole lot more than just comics, too. The walls were covered with all sorts of comic related merchandise- figures, toy cars, model kits! Unbelievable what is available.

I caught him in the last hour of the weekend's sale and we hit it off pretty well. Very nice fellow. Very willing to negotiate. He showed off many of his rare and rather interesting items including a very impressive collection of Golden Age titles in amazing condition.

I found it a very nice experience and I'm sure I'll be returning throughout the summer.

You can reach Gary by email at if you have any questions about the next sale or available titles.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


The more I read about it, the more I get excited about it...

Sunday evening BBC will air the premiere episode of the Sherlock mini-series. Steve Moffat is currently the guy behind the amazing Doctor Who series. He has teamed up with Mark Gatiss updating Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's adventures for this modern era.

I suspect there will be many Sherlock Holmes fans who will automatically dismiss the show with complaints about the characters in the 21st century, but I think the essence of the stories will survive the transition and we'll be in for some very entertaining television.

Preview: Shades of Doctor Who in new BBC drama Sherlock

By Tim Glanfield       July 21, 2010 
Sherlock – A Study in Pink
BBC One, Sunday July 25th, 9pm
The preview disc from the BBC that dropped through my door today carried a polite request:
“Sherlock ep1 – So as to not spoil the enjoyment of the drama, please do not reveal (insert name)’s character or the part that (insert name) plays.”
As much as I understand Auntie’s reasons for saying this – it did initially frustrate me for two reasons:
One, it made me feel like I couldn’t be trusted to review a crime drama without giving the whole plot away …
and two, it has made my job much more difficult, because it’s prevented me from just telling you what happens and giving the whole plot away.
Anyway, I’ve just got over the shock of having to use my brain, so I will begin.
Sherlock is set in the modern day, a rather disturbing modernity in fact – a 21st Century where apparent serial suicides take place in London, and even more worryingly, no one has heard of Arthur Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes is, well, I’ll leave it to him to explain:
“I’m a consulting detective, the only one in the world … I invented the job … it means when the police are out of their depth, which is always, they consult me.”
Before we meet Holmes, we’re first introduced to Afghanistan war veteran Dr John Watson (Martin Freeman) who’s got a psychosomatic leg ailment and a lot of bad memories.
His therapist, in an attempt to help conquer his recurring nightmares tells him:
“John, you’re a soldier, it’s going to take you a while to adjust to civilian life, and writing a blog about everything that happens to you will honestly help you.”
Watson replies, “Nothing happens to me.” … but all that is about to change.
When a mutual friend introduces Watson to Sherlock Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch), not only is Watson bamboozled by the amount of personal information Holmes can glean from such apparently insignificant clues (an excellent exposition device for the writer), but immediately he finds a new lodgings in central London … you know where, yep, at 221b Baker Street.
And so it begins – Holmes, a detective genius with a website takes Watson under his wing, and although Watson is warned against an association with the “psychopathic” Holmes by both the police and a mysterious man (of whom we cannot speak), he cannot resist being drawn into Sherlock’s London, an exciting and dangerous place to live.

Written by Doctor Who show-runner Steven Moffat, there are definite shades of Whovian drama, intrigue and humour interwoven into this glossy crime adventure.
Beautiful direction at every turn draws you into a dark world. The cameras glide around the characters picking up flares, effortlessly catching reactions, clues and expression.  Scenes melt into one another with delightful eases as the viewer is gently pushed along, never too fast, but without having time to think about becoming bored.
The use of on-screen text to represent both Sherlock’s clues as he finds them and mobile phone messages as they appear is at first a little off-putting, but even this, after an hour an a half (yes, that’s how long episode one is) seem to blend into the overall ‘feel’ of the show.
Cumberbatch plays Holmes with passion and vigour. He’s a petulant child, a mysterious stranger and an adrenalin junkie all rolled into one. His nervous energy explodes onto the screen helping you buy into his  ‘tortured genius’ persona, but never fully convincing the viewer that he may not be hiding more sinister motives beneath his crooked veil.
At times, you can almost see Matt Smith appear from nowhere as Moffat gives him a line that he can’t resist but ‘Who-up’: “We’ve got ourselves a serial killer, love those, there’s always something to look forward to …” he excitedly shouts as he runs down the stairs like the ghost of The Doctor, much to the dismay of the ever-worrying (and rather inept) Detective Inspector Lestrade (played by Rupert Graves).
Martin Freeman is the ying to Cumberbatch’s yang – happy in his dead-pan role as the jaded former-soldier, he is the conscience of the operation, asking questions, not getting answers but continuing to bumble along – you get the feeling he has nothing else to live for.
Freeman does not light up the screen with his character, but he is very much the supporting role here. He is strong and steady and does what is required to temper the insanity of Holmes whilst retaining his own and continuing to bridge the gap between Sherlock’s world and the real world in which they live.
This show will undoubtedly be a success, and deservedly so. Moffat has run with classic characters and dumped them in the 21st Century – but what he hasn’t done is lose the magic of the original idea. There will be the critics that say it’s too far from Conan Doyle’s stories – well balls to them – this isn’t about recreating books word for word on the screen, it’s about entertaining people …

It seems to happen to me often. I'll find an object of obsession, and from somewhere else an aspect of said obsession returns or gets released. This is just the latest example. I need to name this personal phenomenon and track it when ever it occurs.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Avatar: The Legend of Korra

There is a sequel series to Avatar: The Last Airbender coming set to air next year. Here's what we know so far:

It is called Avatar: The Legend of Korra (tentatively). It takes place 70 years after the events of the first series. Korra is the next Avatar.

Here are two versions of press releases....

Nickelodeon greenlights new series

'Legend of Korra' to continue "Last Airbender" saga

By Georg Szalai

July 21, 2010, 10:55 AM ET
NEW YORK -- Nickelodeon has greenlit a new series from Michael DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko that is a continuation of their animated hit show "Avatar: The Last Airbender."

Tentatively titled "The Legend of Korra," the animated series will premiere in 2011 and focus on the next Avatar, a young female called Korra. Korra is Aang's granddaughter.

"Mike and Bryan have imagined a compelling new story inspired by the Airbender mythology that they so brilliantly crafted when the TV series began," said Brown Johnson, president, animation, Nickelodeon and MTVN Kids and Family Group. "This new avatar is not only a girl, but also hot-headed, independent and ready to take on the world."

"Korra" is set 70 years after the events of "Airbender" and sees Korra moving to Republic City to master her final element - air. With the guidance of the previous avatar Aang's son Tenzin, she has to fight crime and face a growing anti-bending movement that threatens to rip the metropolis apart.

The new show will be produced at Nickelodeon Animation Studios in Burbank.


Jul 21st, 2010

Nickelodeon announced this morning that it has given the green light to "The Legend of Korra," from "Avatar: The Last Airbender" series creators Michael DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko:

Nickelodeon, the number one producer of television animation in the world, has greenlit a new series from the creators of the hit animated TV show Avatar: The Last Airbender, it was announced today by Brown Johnson, President, Animation, Nickelodeon and MTVN Kids and Family Group.  The new series The Legend of Korra (working title), from creators Michael DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, will premiere on Nickelodeon in 2011, continuing the evolution of the animated franchise and its mythology.  The original series was the inspiration for the Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies live-action epic adventure, The Last Airbender, which has already grossed more than $115 million at the box office to date.

"Mike and Bryan have imagined a compelling new story inspired by the Airbender mythology that they so brilliantly crafted when the TV series began," Johnson said.  "This new avatar is not only a girl, but also hot-headed, independent and ready to take on the world."

The Legend of Korra takes place 70 years after the events of Avatar: The Last Airbender and follows the adventures of the Avatar after Aang – a passionate, rebellious, and fearless teenaged girl from the Southern Water Tribe named Korra.  With three of the four elements under her belt (Earth, Water, and Fire), Korra seeks to master the final element, Air.  Her quest leads her to the epicenter of the modern "Avatar" world, Republic City – a metropolis that is fueled by steampunk technology.  It is a virtual melting pot where benders and non-benders from all nations live and thrive.  However, Korra discovers that Republic City is plagued by crime as well as a growing anti-bending revolution that threatens to rip it apart.   Under the tutelage of Aang's son, Tenzin, Korra begins her airbending training while dealing with the dangers at large.

Launched in February 2005, Avatar aired for three seasons on Nickelodeon and was ranked among the top five animated properties on television among boys, 2-11 and 6-11 (2005/2006).  During this time, the series reached a total of 21.7 million total viewers (persons 2+), including 8.8 million kids 2-11 and 6.3 million kids 6-11*.  Currently, Avatar: The Last Airbender is the number one program on Nicktoons among tweens.  (Source: *Nielsen Cume Data - July 2008, Live + 7 day, 6 min. qualifier.)

Avatar: The Last Airbender was created and executive produced by Michael DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko.

An award-winning filmmaker, DiMartino was a director at Film Roman for six years, working on the prime-time animated series King of the Hill, Family Guy and Mission Hill.  During his tenure there, DiMartino animated and directed the short animated film Atomic Love, which has gone on to screen at festivals across the country including Sundance and the Los Angeles Film Festival.  It also aired as part of the Nicktoons Network Animation Festival.

Konietzko began his career in animation as a character designer at Film Roman for Fox's prime-time series, Family Guy.  He soon moved to the post of assistant director for two more Film Roman shows, Mission Hill and King of the Hill, working beside animation director DiMartino.  Konietzko then became a storyboard artist and later an art director for the Nickelodeon animated series Invader Zim.

The new Avatar series will be produced at the Nickelodeon Animation Studios in Burbank, Calif., and is co-executive produced by Joaquim Dos Santos.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Sherlock Holmes

One of the purposes of this blog is to vent the obsessions that grab me. Sherlock Holmes has become the latest one.

It started with the Willis Spring Vacation trip down to St. Louis, MO. We were all packing up taking the van and it was up to me to check out some family friendly audio books. I found some young adult stories and some classics like Jules Verne's Around the World in 80 Days and H.G. Well's The Time Machine. The hit, both down to Missouri and back was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. This production features a nice list of short stories giving us a wide variety of mysterious cases. We all thoroughly enjoyed the book/CDs. This was my very first real introduction to the famous character.

When we returned to the cities I listened to the other audio books I had checked out. What a discovery! My commutes to and from work were full of adventurous entertainment. To this day I still listen to people reading books on my commutes and I look forward to every one of them. Inevitably, I would return to Arthur Conan Doyle's works remembering how much I enjoyed the first exposure.

At the time of writing this post I'm finishing A Study in Scarlet which is the first appearance of Holmes and tells how he and Watson became flat-mates and friends. In geek terms- the Origin Story. I've also recently finished The Sign of the Four which I believe is the 2nd story in the canon order.

With an attempt to share my interest with my family, I've found an animated adventure series that tells light stories of Holmes and Dr. Watson. The twist here is every human character is portrayed as a dog in Sherlock Hound. The great thing about Sherlock Hound is that it was made (in the '80s) by Hayao Miyazaki! That means quality a higher level of quality always found with Miyazaki (this is pre-Ghibli productions) and Sherlock Hound is no exception.

The funny part of all this is I passed on the recent Hollywood Sherlock Holmes adventure. I originally assumed the production was an attempt to build a franchise, making it an action adventure and completely stomping on the original vision. This might be true.  While I did view the movie as something I'd consider, I never did venture out and see it. I very much look forward to seeing in the near future. I've read many accounts that it is closer to the literary origin than most of the previous screen adaptations were.

Another funny thing about the timing of my obsession is BBC is about to air a miniseries, updated telling of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson.

I do say this looks pretty good. It ought to be good. After all, it's from the guy who's giving us the latest series of Doctor Who, Steven Moffat!

One more thing that deserves mention for cementing this latest obsession... I've had my face in a recent gaming purchase. GURPS Mysteries has been a fantastic read and a perfect supplement to this fancy of mine. Has my mind churning for possible stories to subject my family members to, the ones willing to roll dice with me.

So there it is. Welcome to my latest obsession.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Battlestar Galactica

I've come to the conclusion that the re-imaged version of Battlestar Galactica is the best sci-fi television series ever made. I didn't have any emotional connection to the original which allowed me full freedom to immerse myself in the re-imaged version. The creators always gave the original it's respect. A few times my ear caught the original's theme song intertwined with the score.

We finished the series several evenings ago. I've taken some time to let it simmer and collect my thoughts on the show.

This will contain spoilers. Most people who were watching this show have already finished it or know how it ends. We were the late comers.

Unlike many sci-fi shows and movies before, BSG had a real natural feel with spaceship combat. The detail with centrifugal forces made the dog-fight scenes a joy to watch. I am always left wanting more. The first time I recall seeing this kind of detail to physics in a sci-fi show was in BSG's older brother, Firefly. One fault to this was that the Colonial Vipers and the Cylon Raiders did emit sound out in space. The silence was a detail that Firefly remains superior with. Their space was truly silent.

Another thing I liked about the series was a relatively low tech level. In spite of space travel and FTL, there were no lasers or beam weapons. Everything was still ballistic. This is quite easy for audiences to understand as it is no more advanced than our own technology. Their greatest weapons were nukes, as is ours.

At times it was more difficult to pop in the DVDs and watch BSG than it was to watch something like Firefly, because the drama was so heavy. BSG is not an uplifting show. Often quite a downer. This may be part of why I feel it is better. Something about that pain or effort making the trip worth the time.

Another very interesting thing about BSG was the UN appearance. I don't believe any other show has this honor:

BSG At the UN: Wow! That Actually Worked!
 By Matt Blum lMarch 19, 2009 | 8:00:00 AMCategories: Television 
We mentioned the then-impending appearance of the producers and primary stars of Battlestar Galactica at the United Nations a few days ago. Well, the panel discussion took place Tuesday night, and, while unfortunately nobody from GeekDad was invited, I've seen enough of the video and read enough accounts of it to have formed an opinion: It rocked!

While it was an undeniably weird idea, it nonetheless worked out remarkably well. While I still would like to know where the idea came from, it does make sense when you really consider it: Most of the best science fiction on television has worked precisely because it has been based on ideas and conflicts that exist in today's world, and BSG is a prime example. So why shouldn't people who've been working on addressing the issues of the present in a fictional setting have a reasonable chance of providing insight on how to address the issues in reality?

They showed clips from the show and talked about some of the more controversial plot turns the show has taken, from the outlawing of abortion aboard Galactica to Tigh's speech about why suicide bombings were useful and necessary in the resistance on New Caprica. When you think about it, the show has really covered an awful lot of tough, tough issues.

The best accounts of the evening that I've found came from io9 and Entertainment Weekly. You can also download a video (in RealPlayer format, alas) of the entire summit here. I wish I could've been there if only for the part described thusly by EW:
When one of the UN's representatives talked about how part of their mandate was to safeguard the human rights of everyone, regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, and station, Olmos got a little heated. "You never should've invited me here," he said, before blasting the UN for continuing to use race as a term of separation, of division among peoples. His voice rose, steadily, as if years of social activism was coming to a head on this night. Then, directing his attention to the high schoolers: "Adults will never be able to stop using the word 'race' as a cultural determinant....There is only one race: the human race. SO SAY WE ALL!"

I swear to you, everyone in that chamber shouted it right back at him. Because the Admiral asked us to.

And Mary McDonnell leaned over and gently wiped a tear from Olmos' cheek.

link to article
link to BSG at UN video

I really admired that the people behind the show saw an ending and took the show too it's conclusion. No matter if the finale was good or bad, this is a very good aspect of any show. Especially with one that contains so much scrutinized continuity. The story was more important that trying to wring out as much profit as possible. That always leads to jumping the shark. I felt BSG succeeded in ending before that point.

The series' conclusion is far more complete and satisfying than LOST (compared only that the two shows were quite popular at around the same time and ended nearly the same time, too). The ending was nice and tied ALMOST everything up.  The ending wasn't totally surprising, but it was a satisfactory twist.

I was disappointed with the Opera House dream that Roslin, Caprica 6 and Sharon shared revealed as the Galactica's CIC bridge room was quite anti-climactic. I'm not sure how else to conclude that thread, though.

The very end of the series has a scene of the Messengers, (or Head Baltar and Head Six as the fanbase called them), in the modern day Earth as we know it. This heavily suggesting that they were angels or something similar, hence the title Messenger. Throughout the show, these characters appeared to Gaius Baltar and Caprica Six and only to them. Their appearance at the end in this manner suddenly gave the show a very real super natural quality. There always was a quality just on the edge of super natural throughout, but here it was nothing less than divine.

As for the colonists becoming the origin of the human race, there are some complaints about this aspect in many of the reviews I've read. This sat fine with me.  One argument was that English language could not likely survive 150,000 years into the future relatively unaltered. It's unreasonable to try to argue this point, I don't believe the English language was supposed to be taken literally, but rather just simply the most convenient language to make the show for it's viewing audience. I'd say the languages of the colonies were probably resembling nothing we'd recognize.

There are enough open ended threads that could lead to more adventure (Baseship of Centurions sailing the vastness of space).

However, What the hell is Kara Thrace?

Friday, July 16, 2010

Ice Cream Maker Guy

Allow me to present a case to argue that perhaps the Extended Star Wars Universe has jumped the shark.

"Attention. This is Lando Calrissian, attention. The Empire has taken control of city, I advise everyone to leave before more Imperial troops arrive."
Lando Calrissian warns the residents of Cloud City[src]
Willrow Hood was a Human male miner who lived and worked on Cloud City, a floating station located above the gas giant Bespin. He worked for A'roFilter, a mining company sympathetic to the Alliance to Restore the Republic, as the head of the department responsible for dealing with the Rebel Alliance, supplying discounted Tibanna gas. Eventually, though, the Galactic Empire invaded and conquered the planet; in order to protect the Rebellion contacts Hood was responsible for, the miner took A'roFilter's main computer's memory core, as it contained the encrypted information on Rebel contacts. After finding the nearest disposal unit, Hood dumped the entire core, rather than risk it falling into the wrong hands; thus, Willrow Hood was able to save the Alliance's interests. Hood remained on Cloud City throughout the Imperial occupation, suffering imprisonment and torture but revealing nothing.
Eventually, he joined together with Tian Chyler, a former Imperial Security Bureau agent disenfranchised with the Empire who had defected, transmitting information on Cloud City's Imperial-run defense systems. Utilizing this information, the Alliance was able to liberate the planet from the Empire's control. After the Rebels' victory, Hood decided to take it easy.
From the Star Wars Wiki - Wookieepedia

Really? This can't be real...

Yes. It can.

2140 fans signed a petition to have Hasbro make a figure for this fellow. It appears as though they got their man.

I don't even remember that scene.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Speed Racer died

Ever since I discovered that the entire collection of Speed Racer episodes are available for free on Youtube, Jack and I have been watching them. Today it's reported that the voice of Speed Racer died.

Speed Racer Voice Actor Peter Fernandez Passes Away

posted on 2010-07-15 13:42 EDT
Prolific actor, director worked on Lupin IIIAstro BoyGigantorMarine BoyStar Blazers

William Winckler has informed ANN that Peter Fernandez, the actor and voice director best known as the title character in the animated Speed Racer series, passed away this morning due to lung cancer. He was 83.
Fernandez not only voiced Speed himself, but also his brother Racer X and several other characters in the English-dubbed adaptation of Tatsunoko's Mach Go Go Goanime series. He also directed the voice cast and even wrote the lyrics to the signature theme song. He later played Lupin III, Daisuke Jigen, and President Jimmy Carter in the JAL dubbing of the Lupin III: The Secret of Mamo film. His voice can be heard in such dubbed anime titles as Astro BoyGigantor,Marine BoyStar Blazers: The Bolar Wars, and Superbook. He made a cameo appearance as an announcer in the 2008 live-action Speed Racer film.
Corinne Orr, the actress who played Speed Racer's romantic interest Trixie and younger brother Sprittle Racer, spoke with Fernandez as recently as last week. The two had worked together on 200 productions, and she noted that he was a big star on radio and Broadway and had starred in the 1949 film City Across the River "where Tony Curtis only had a bit part." Orr is the last surviving member ofSpeed Racer's main cast. Orr told ANN, "His great joy was doing all these conventions and receiving the acknowledgement and accolades from all his fans at the end of his life."
Winckler said that he was glad that, in the renewed interest that accompanied the Speed Racer film, Fernandez "finally got the attention and respect he deserved from the general public and mainstream press." He added, "Anime and Japanese live-action fantasy will never be the same without him. Peter's contribution to anime and Japanese live-action will live forever."
Fernandez's family is planning a private service, but there are plans for a public celebration of his life in September in Pomona, California.


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Sci-Fi/Fantasy Appreciation and Faith

Got a cool discussion brewing over at the Safe House message boards.  Anyone is welcome to come join in.... 

Here's a peak...

Elko: I know there are a lot of ways it works, but I'm interested in (conflict) where your appreciation for sci-fi and faith meet. What does one do for the other?

For one thing, I really like it when I find a sci-fi setting that can fit or mesh into our real life and history. I also like it when the 'magic' or parts of the story that require suspension of disbelief fit with the supernatural found in scripture. However you interpret scripture, be it literally or illustrative, you really need to apply your imagination to get any kind of meaning. Jesus essentially had super powers.

If you boil all of the detail away, most stories are echoes or reflections of the gospel. Good conquering evil.

The whole saga of the Holy Bible requires a lot of suspension of disbelief. Should we say suspension of disbelief = faith? You practice that a lot and you get good at it, I suppose. So, guess one could say that when you read sci-fi and fantasy literature and imagine it as possible you are training your mind to more readily accept the account of miracles in scripture.

I consider most role-playing games closely related to sci-fi and fantasy literature (and in some cases there is no difference at all). The method in which most of these games are [performed?] portrayed requires a great deal of imagination. Recently, our church took us through a study series that examined the use of imagination in prayer (this was called the Animate series. More info here). I was amazed at how easy this was for me having somewhat regularly practiced this with my gaming hobby. Some of the methods of prayer in the series were EXACTLY the same as were used in gaming. Using the same proverbial muscles, if you will.

I'd say sci-fi and fantasy flex one's imagination. It seems to me one's imagination is quite useful, if not required when reading and really meaningfully comprehending many aspects of the Bible. The Bible, after all, looks a lot like sci-fi or fantasy.

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Friday, July 9, 2010


I've read... er, listened to two audio books by Lois McMaster Bujold from her Vorkosigan series.  It actually started with Steve Jackson Game's GURPS RPG, I saw the campaign setting book and assumed it was a new Traveller book (with the red and black with white text). I finally paged through the sourcebook and discovered a whole new sci-fi setting. So far I've 'read' The Vor Game and Diplomatic Immunity. These were simply the first two or only two I could find on CD in the Ramsey County Library system immediately available when I needed them. Not a very logical or fortunate order to start the series as the Vor Game is seventh or eighth book in the sequential order and Diplomatic Immunity was the 2nd to last book in the series! There's obviously a lot that I've missed in between, but it wasn't either important enough to spoil the two or they're written with skillfully in the way that the reader finds the missing details just as enjoyable. It has been interesting to find a rather high level of love for the series and for some time now. I'm surprised it's just now appearing on my radar.

The Vorkosigan saga is everything I was looking for when I tried reading Dave Weber's Honor Harrington series, but it has so much more life than Weber's books. There were many many times in the Vorkosigan where I found myself laughing out loud and the dialog and Mile's inner dialog. These stories are simply delightful. The protagonist, Miles Vorkosigan, is easily compared to Tyrion Lannister (from the Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin) in stature and status. Beyond that the two are very different. Miles Vorkosigan is a thoughtful and loving man who has mastered his use of his God given cleverness and power with words.

Some of what I enjoyed in particular was the relationships Miles enjoys. In The Vor Game there is a scene in which Miles and his father are united after only about six months to a year. Upon seeing his son, Count Aral Vorkosigan tears up and receives his son into his arms. I'm a softy. I love it.
In Diplomatic Immunity, the relationship he has with his wife is simply adorable (like all men, he married up). In another scene he is reunited with a friend and undercover special agent on the payroll of the agency Miles works for. While in public they speak diplomatically, they sit down and enjoy a good hard laugh once in privacy.

It has been said that Bujold's very first Vorkosigan story started as a Star Trek fanfic that she later filed off the serial numbers and made her own wonderful universe to express the story in.
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