Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Everything I Consume: The Insect

This was an episode of a radio show called 2000 Plus. The stories were about life after the the year 2000. This episode was first broadcast on May 17, 1950. The story is about a scientist who has invented a growth ray and is using it on insects. He's made a spider as big as "my fist", a housefly as big as a "pack of cigarettes" and a wasp "no bigger than a golf ball". His wife objects but the scientist says not to worry, "they're not giants". Anyway, the scientist goes to a meeting at the university to talk about his invention. Curiously, he brings none of his insects. The wife is left alone and when the grocery delivery boy wants a look at the insects they get accidentally locked inside the lab. While they are there they are confronted by a moth (who I'm guessing is the size of a bag of pretzels) and it terrorizes them until the delivery boy tries to escape. He thinks the moth is trying to kill him. We know this because he yells out, "He's trying to kill me!" before he knocks himself out. Well, it all ends well and everyone is rescued when the scientist comes back home. But the best part is that no one, not the wife, delivery boy, dean of the university or any of the professors or the delivery boys' boss who never comes looking for him ever asks the scientist why the hell he is making giant insects and what possible benefit cigarette pack sized houseflies could be.

Monday, November 26, 2007

What the Hell Happened to Star Trek?

So, I'm forcing my family to watch Space Seed last night and I noticed that all the special effects have been redone. All the shots of the Enterprise and the Botany Bay look like CGI. It's very disconcerting since I grew up thinking spaceships were grainy and you could see the boxes around their mattes. What the hell happened? I could Google it but since I haven't gotten any comments in ages I'm counting on you, the fans.

By the way, Star Trek needs to be released on DVD with a commentary by Gwendolyn. Who wouldn't want to watch a show with this in the background:

"Daddy, which ones are the good guys? Is he a good guy? Where are they going? Now, where are they going? Which ship are they on? Which one is the bad guy? Who's he? Is everyone in a red shirt shirt a bad guy? Is he the leader? Why did he hit him? Is she a bad guy?"

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Everything I Consume: Aurora 7

It's 1962 day here in the Fuselage…

About fifteen years ago I worked for Bettmann, a large stock photo agency that has since become part of a very large company called Corbis. We had a lot of free time (no web or blogs back then) and every week I would read Entertainment Weekly. Entertainment Weekly loved this book. It got a great review (an "A" I'm sure) and they would recommend it almost every week, for weeks, in their book column. Oddly, I never heard about it anywhere else. The premise sounded interesting: one day, specifically May 24, 1962, in the life of an 11-year old contrasted with Scott Carpenter orbiting around the Earth in his Aurora 7 capsule. Other people pop in and out of the book with several of them meeting (or not) at the climax. I'm sick of all that baby-boomer crap and everyone-is-connected plots now but it was still kind of interesting in 1992. Back then I loved thirtysomething and JFK and I'm sure I would have thought Syriana was amazing.

Over the years I looked for it but I'd forget who the author was or changed my mind about buying it or decided I'd rather get something else but I never forgot Aurora 7. I don't know why. Maybe it reminded me of being 25 and believing it was important to read new fiction. Maybe I like a quest. I spent over five years hunting down Horace McCoy novels before I found one. Maybe I felt it would complete me somehow. Anyway, I finally broke down and ordered it on paperbackswap.com.

It's a good book, even if not worth a fifteen year wait. It has this self-referential way of writing that I find addictive:

He remembered the first time he was the 23rd street subway station. It was for a seventh grade party and thinks about how much the world has changed. The Home Depot and Bank of America, a plasma tv in the diner. Because he doesn't drive he doesn't think about how different the cars look and because he takes it for granted, he doesn't think about the computer and software he works on to create advertising for a credit card that didn't exist then.
Really, it's not that hard to do when you've been doing it all week.

One thing I found ironic about the book was that it uses a voice of God narrator who freely goes back and forth in time showing the future fates of many of the characters. At one point the book mentions Gus Grissom's Liberty Bell 7 space capsule as being "lost forever" but it was recovered in 1999, after this book was written. I guess you can use the voice of God but you can't be God.

Everything I Consume: The Intruder

The Intruder is a 1962 film directed by Roger Corman starring William Shatner as a racist mystery man sent to stir trouble in a southern town that is about to integrate its high school. It was re-released at one time under the title "I Hate Your Guts."

If you don't want to see it after that description I don't know what to tell you.

This was an entertaining little movie and quite out of the ordinary. It was a bit jarring to see so much use of the N-word, especially in a movie from the early sixties. The film was shot on location in Missouri and that's the best part of the movie, seeing the hotel lobbies, drug stores, downtowns and shanty towns of the era.

Roger Corman claims this is the only film of the over 300 he's produced to lose money. So, it's worth seeing if only for that.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Everything I Borrow: I Shall Destroy All the Civilized Planets: The Comics of Fletcher Hanks

This doesn't count as an Everything I Consume since I borrowed this from my friend Mike.

I'd been introduced to the work of Fletcher Hanks on Mister Kitty's Stupid Comics Page. His comics represent everything that was great about comic's Golden Age: crazy art, insane plots, bloodthirsty villains, battles for world domination as well as the less great sadism and racism. Hanks' greatest creation is the hero, Stardust, whose power is basically, omnipotence. A common theme of the Stardust stories is an army of hundred or thousands of villains attacking America with weapons like tanks or poison gas. In anther story, three bad guys try to send everyone on Earth off into space so they can have it for themselves. The stories have names like, "Presidential Assassination", "Org's Giant Spiders", "Lions Loose in New York"and "Wolf Eye's Vacuum Tubes".

What happens to these villains? Stardust turns them into rats or icicles. Some are stranded on a planet of enormous wealth where they will be unable to lift the gold and diamonds and will live forever in "vitamin-rich air" in a "black night that will last for centuries". How long did it take Stardust to find a place like that?

Fletcher Hanks

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Books Piled Up

I've written previously about my obsessions over my to-be-read pile. Sometimes I think it is like a mania. I know The Wife does. Right now my to-be-read pile consists of 41 books. I like to think I would have made some serious headway if not for Ghost Wars, probably could have gotten it down to 35-38 books. I say this not to impress you but to state that I may have a bit of a problem. At a book a week I'll finish all these books on August 23, 2008. Of course, between Hannukah, Christmas and my birthday and my own buying this pile will grow even if I read them at a steady pace.
Where did these books come from? It turns out I've spent virtually no money on them.

  • 17 are from paperbackswap.com. I've received 46 books and sent out 40 since I joined in December 2005. And the thing is, as I read these books I just exchange them for even more books.
  • 6 are books The Wife has read.
  • 4 were picked up on the street. People are constantly leaving books out on the street in Brooklyn and few things scare The Wife more than seeing a pile of discarded books while taking a weekend family stroll.
  • 3 were bought when I was a member of the Hard Case Crime Club. These are the only books I paid retail for with my own money and weren't first read by somebody else. (I sound like a White House press secretary with all these qualifiers.)
  • 3 were bought used.
  • 3 are hand-me-downs from my father-in-law. He gives me lots of books but these are the few I actually want to read. Mostly, they sit unwanted on paperbackswap.com.
  • 3 were gifts.
  • 2 were bought on a gift card I got for my birthday in January. I picked these books out of all the ones at Barnes & Noble and still they've been sitting around for more than six months.
I'll check in on this later to see if I've made any progress.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

NFL TV Distribution Maps

I love this website. It tells what NFL games are being telecast all over the country. I like it not just to find out what games are being shown in New York (Washington at Jets at 1 PM and the big Patriot-Colt game at 4. Since the Jets are at home there's no Fox game at 1 even though the Giants are off. The NFL won't show a game against a home game which sucks if you live in New York where we have two teams. This rule is particularly annoying since a)The home teams always sell out and b)I never go to football games. I should mention I will be at a christening on Sunday and couldn't watch the game anyway.) but these maps are highly entertaining in their own right.

This week there's no non-HD game but it's always fun to see what will be the one none-HD CBS game. Sadly, it's The Wife's beloved Cleveland Browns almost every week. Is there any excuse for not having every game in HD? I bought my HDTV for sports and I can't even watch non-HD sports at this point. Spend the money for the equipment, CBS!

I like finding oddball scheduling to show hometown heroes. Austin will get the Carolina/Tennessee game to see Vince Young even though most of the rest of Texas sees Green Bay vs. Kansas City and southern Mississippi gets to see local boy Brett Favre.

Why is Miami seeing Green Bay/Kansas City instead of the Tampa Bay game? Kansas City isn't even a divisional rival of the Dolphins. Are they that alienated from northern Florida?

Next week's Patriot/Colt game will be shown nationally except in Houston (playing at Oakland) and Cleveland which is hosting Seattle on Fox. Sorry, guys. Thanks to the handy chart at the bottom we can see northern California came to their senses and will get the big game instead of the Raiders game which is expected to be blacked out. You could really piss some people off in the Bay Area by buying the remaining tickets and forcing them to show the local game!