Sunday, August 30, 2009

Cut and Paste - Tool of a Lazy Blogger

Actually, I'm more hung over as opposed to lazy. I read this article and thought I'd post it since I'm a bit of a Science Fiction geek. Most of these I've read but I will definitely pick up the others.


Some science fiction novels can't be translated into films, but others are perfect for big screen enjoyment. Here are our nominations for the next big scifi movies, ripped from the pages of your favorite books.

Unfortunately, there are a number of adaptations that don't meet or really fail expectations. Alan Moore's comic books come to mind. But the news that Roland Emmerich might be directing Isaac Asimov's Foundation Trilogy, and that Scott Derrickson is set to direct an adaptation of Hyperion isn't exactly promising either. So here's our antidote: A short list of books that would likely make good films (and television series) that would succeed in theaters, and be fun to watch.

Mars, Ben Bova
Ben Bova is a solid name in the SF genre, and Mars is a book that can easily be translated to the big screen. The premise is fairly simple and straightforward: 25 astronauts from Earth go to Mars, land, and begin exploring. There's the usual drama and excitement present here, but what this book really conveys is the sheer beauty and majesty of the Red Planet, something that really hasn't been done with films such as Red Planet and Mission to Mars, to name a couple recent ones.

Kindred, Octavia Butler
This is a time travel story by the late Octavia Butler, one that would be a good candidate for adaptation. The story revolves around an African-American woman in 1976 Los Angeles who is pulled back in time by her white ancestor, and has to reconcile the two eras, while working to ensure her own survival. Fast-paced and topical, this is the type of book that could do extremely well as a smart action-adventure movie.

Soon, I Will Be Invincible, Austin Grossman
This book has been optioned for a film, and reading through it in a day, I can see why: It's exciting, it's easy to get into and read and it's got a neat and tidy plot. There are archetypal villains, superhero teams with plenty of back story material for tie-ins and years of comics and a fun storyline. But there is also a realistic approach to the world of superheroes, something that Hancock proved was marketable. I suspect that whoever holds the movie rights to this book will be watching Watchmen's performance at the box office.

Probability Moon, Nancy Kress
This book is essentially what Stargate SG-1 should have been. The novel is set amidst an interplanetary war between humanity and the Fallers, an aggressive alien race. The main action occurs on World, where a human team discovers an artificial moon made from an ancient alien tech (which also allows for interplanetary travel) that might hold the key to humanity's survival. The plot is nothing new as far as movies go, but it is straightforward, interesting and a solid read. Visually, this could be stunning, with exploration on a planet and in space. There are also two sequels, Probability Sun and Probability Space, which could become sequels if the first movie does well.

Altered Carbon, Richard K. Morgan
Richard Morgan's first book is one that would be difficult to translate to the screen, but if done right, it would be a fantastic film. Set five hundred years into the future, the story revolves around Takeshi Kovacs, a former soldier, in a world where people can download their consciousness into other bodies. Kovacs is set to investigate a wealthy man's supposed suicide, and he uncovers a conspiracy that has wide-ranging impact. It's a hardboiled cyberpunk-ish crime noir novel with enough action and violence to keep viewers excited. The book has been optioned as a film with James McTeigue attached as director - if this happens it's good news because he worked on Attack of the Clones, The Matrix trilogy, Dark City and directed V for Vendetta.

Ringworld, Larry Niven
Ringworld, the tale of a dying halo world around a distant sun, is an absolute classic in the SF genre. The story is one of epic proportions, of exploration, romance, destiny and space opera – all good elements for a science fiction film. There is a lot of potential here, and a lot of possibilities for tone and content, with a direct and exciting storyline that covers high tech space travel to abandoned cities, feudal tribes, fantastic aliens, but also bigger themes of one's place in the world and similar notions. Plus, there would be some of the best visuals that you're likely to ever see on the big screen. Rumors of a film have existed since it was announced by the Niven in 2001, with the SciFi Channel announcing in 2004 that there would be a miniseries based on the book, but there has been little news since then.

City of Pearl, Karen Traviss
Karen Traviss burst onto the SF scene with her first novel, City of Pearl, which takes place in the near future with an expedition to Cavanagh's Star to reconnect with a colony for political and economic purposes. While there, the main characters are launched into a situation that involves first contact, interplanetary warfare and scientific discovery. This first book in the series is the most standalone, and could easily be made into a film, with the possibility of sequels. There is action, potentially cool CGI scenes and intelligent storytelling here that could work well on the screen, visually and story wise.

Coyote, Allen M. Steele
Coyote is a book that could take up several films without breaking a sweat. Steele tells a sweeping tale of political intrigue, planetary science and the building of a new society over the course of several sections, each a fairly self-contained entry in a larger story. The first section sees a future America (The United Republic of America), a pseudo-Fascist society that has sunk a good part of the economy into a mission that would colonize another world - Coyote. This first section alone could make a fantastic film, as could the next several stories as the new colonists take control of the ship and mission and build a new world. Not all of the stories could really be adapted, but there are enough there to make a very good franchise of films. Steele has already jumped the gun by posting a short ‘trailer' for a movie on his website.

The Icarus Hunt, Timothy Zahn
Timothy Zahn is arguably best known for his Heir to the Empire trilogy that essentially started off the Star Wars expanded universe (which would easily make for the next trilogy of Star Wars films that would no doubt top the prequel trilogy), but his non-SW books are also good reads. His standalone novel, The Icarus Hunt, follows the crew of a ship hired to transport a secret cargo across the galaxy, while a large corporation is set on eliminating them, hoping to force them out of business. Corporate crimes in space? We want to see this movie.

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Susanna Clarke
Where some books are fairly simple and easy to adapt, this book just isn't. It's complicated, daunting and deliberate, but it contains one of the most fantastic stories that I have had yet to read. It would take quite a bit of work to really get the essence of the book, but it could be edited creatively to capture some of the major plots - or made into a BBC miniseries. Set in an alternative 19th century England during the Napoleonic wars, this book features magicians fighting for their country, sorcerers who feud in drawing rooms, and the return of magic to England. The Lord of the Rings proved that what was thought to be an unfilmable tome could be turned into a fantastic set of films, while The Prestige has shown that late 19th century tales of magic can be both melancholy and fantastical. In 2004, the book was optioned, but the project seems to have fallen by the wayside.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Woman Buys $2500 Luis Vuitton Bag.... For Her Dog

Is this you? If so, please go kill yourself. Now. Pills, noose, gun, whatever - just fucking end it. How many homeless people did you step over and ignore on your way to get little Cutie McSweetie her canine couture? The terrorists don't hate our freedoms, they hate our capitalist oligarchy of excess and indulgence that we built on the backs of the poor and marginalized. They hate you ma'am. Because you are a vapid, ignorant bitch with oodles and oodles of cash and zero compassion, empathy or awareness of the world around you.

"But there's a market for it so why not sell it". Spurious argument and false logic. There's a market for kiddie porn, land mines and crystal meth as well. Not that a $36,000 dog house (its a real thing - ) is responsible for global death and destruction but until all of us can afford this type of extravagance I'd hope people would spend there money on less frivolous shit.

And besides, your dog doesn't care if he has a collar made out of Italian leather studded with diamonds or with hemp rope and the bones of Filipino virgins. All it wants to do is eat, sleep, sniff crotches and play. In fact, your dog is probably pissed that you carry it around everywhere in your purse and force it wear ridiculous clothes.

And what about the husbands? There's no fucking way they enjoy being seen in public with their wife's emaciated chihuahua with its pink fur coat and Prada booties. Are you that much of a pathetic cuckold that you can't put a stop to this madness? Or..... maybe its a diabolical smoke screen? Keep your retarded wife occupied with her fucking queer dog while you go out and bang ladies who don't think sex is "icky". I get it now. Well played sir, well played indeed.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Movie Review #2 - District 9

It looks like Afrikaners (white South Africans) are coming to terms with their ugly legacy of oppression and bigotry. What's that have to do with a Sci-Fi thriller you ask? Well good Science Fiction always has a cleverly woven undercurrent of social commentary and District 9 did not disappoint here.

Set in Johannesburg (which itself is refreshing. Hollywood would let you believe that Aliens only invade NYC or Washington), District 9 is the story of Aliens who have shipwrecked - sort of - in South Africa 20 years ago and the survivors were housed in refugee camps which quickly became shanty town ghettos. Not unlike those in many South African city's where the blacks (or Bantu's as they were called) where banished after they finished working for their white employers during Apartheid. Not surprisingly, crime became an epidemic and rioting was commonplace.

This could easily have been the story of the ANC's fight for black freedom but instead of Africans we have Aliens, called "Prawns" because of their resemblance to said creatures and the derogatory connotation that the are bottom feeders (Blacks were referred to as "Kaffirs" which basically means "uneducated heathen"). And instead of Mandela or Biko we have "Christopher Johnson", a Prawn, who along with the help of a reluctantly sympathetic human (Donald Woods analogy?) fight to free his people and return them to their home planet.

Rife with cool gadgets and weaponry and shot in a documentary style, District 9 is a well crafted Science Fiction thriller that should please even the most ardent genre geek. Its gory as fuck too!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Don't Drink and Blog

Ugh.... sorry about that.

"It's true! I'm a rageaholic! I can't live without rageahol!"

I'll try to keep this short - but honestly, why am I so pissed off all the time? I have the worlds best wife and a child on the way. I'm super good looking and I've grown myself a totally badass beard. I made a Mormon cry recently (more on that later) and the Dolphin's are defending AFC East Champs. What more could I want?

Well Fuck me sideways with sprinkles, I'll tell you: First and foremost I hate ignorance. This is a word that has a such a wide scope but my personal interpretation involves the following: those who offer opinions without a fucking clue... about anything..., racists, homophobes, intellectual retards (no, not actual retards you hyper-sensitive fucks). I realize Euthanasia and Sterilization are illegal but c'mon, there has to be exceptions. Do we really need Glen Beck breeding:?

I can't top Colbert so just sit back and watch this repartee... its timeless:

Since when is the lowest common denominator a demographic that needs to be catered to? If GI Joe: Rise of Serpentor is your idea of great military drama then perhaps you should learn the art of "pulling out" because I have no interest in paying for your welfare checks.

Which is funny because I'm a proponent of the modern welfare state. However, both my wife and i come from poor working class families which affords me a unique perspective. Poverty is an addictive state of mind because achievement is so much more difficult than failure. Why bother working hard for $30K a year (starting salary) when you can collect welfare AND extra income from drug dealing (further destroying your neighborhood) or an otherwise illegal activity?

Fuck... I'm meandering again.

Anyways, my puppy needs to piss. So I'll leave you with this.... do you smoke weed? you probably do. I have no issues with that. However, if you are one of those concerned with thing like "carbon footprints", "fair trade", and "blood diamonds" I'd like you to know something: More fuel has spent, laws broken, families destroyed and people killed getting you your weed than any diamond you've ever purchased. My wife loves her single diamond on her wedding ring. We don't smoke weed though. How many dime bags have you bought in the last 5 years? Fucking Hypocrite Murderer!!!

In other words - if you don't know (and refuse to learn) then shut the fuck up.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Ahhh. When stupid meets Barney Frank:

Don't ever ask Barney Frank ( ) a question if you don't want to know exactly how he feels about something. From Larry King Live, Frank is asked by a woman waving an Obama as Hitler picture at a town hall meeting why he is supporting his "Nazi policy" on health care. Frank didn't mince any words in responding.

Frank: When you ask me that question I'm going to revert to my ethnic heritage and answer your question with a question. On what planet do you spend most of your time?
You want me to answer the question? Yes. As you stand there with a picture of the President defaced to look like Hitler and compare the effort to increase health care to the Nazis, my answer to you is as I said before, it is a tribute to the First Amendment that this kind of vile, contemptible nonsense is so freely propagated. Ma'am, trying to have a conversation with you would be like trying to argue with a dining room table. I have no interest in doing it.

Movie Review #1

I'm going to start doing these at random intervals. If all I post are rage fueled diatribes I may begin to appear unstable. Not that I care what you think. Go fuck yourself.

So, I watched "Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist" the other night. It seemed like a decent way to waste time in between NFL Total Access and TMN Porn on 303 (you digital owners know what I'm talking about). However, it actually turned out to be a decent film. I think not having any real expectations aside from "this might not completely suck" helped foster a positive opinion.

First, I like Michael Cera. I loved Arrested Development and although I haven't seen Juno yet I thought Cera was great in Superbad. He didn't disappoint here either. He has a quirky nerdiness that's oddly likable and helps make it realistic that he bags hot chicks in his movies. Speaking of which, I actually find Kat Dennings hot (Cera's love interest in the film). I think I just have a thing for Jewish chicks because I'd nail Sarah Silverman in heartbeat. Moving on...

Cera portrays Nick, a heartbroken high school senior (ex girlfriend is played by the disgustingly anorexic Alexis Dziena) who, along with his very gay band mates - an odd dynamic that actually works in the film - is about to make his debut at a NYC rock club. There he meets Nora (Kat Dennings) who is aware of Nick only by virtue of the mix CD's that he has given his ex girlfriend (that she throws out, only to be salvaged by Nora who loves them). Anyways; madness ensues, two kids fall in love, roll credits.

What made this film enjoyable was the total lack of typical teenage pandering and cliches. It didn't insult its audience with moronic dialogue or cartoonish characters. Including the queers - very accurate and devoid of silly Will and Grace-esque antics. And the soundtrack! If you have any appreciation for the melodic goth of the 80's - Cure, Smiths, Siouxsie etc - then you should love the music. No Jonas Brothers or Miley Cyrus, thank Christ. And at a succinct 90 minutes I didn't miss any of College Gang Bang #37. Rad.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Celebrating Mediocrity

Not a fan of that heading by the way. A bit heavy handed but I'm also a bit drunk so I'll just edit this later. Maybe.

I was reading an article recently about the LHC - Large Hadron Collider - on the NYTimes website. What struck me was the negative tone that was so obvious, and out of place, for a non editorial report. First, for those unclear, a very brief outline of the LHC and its purpose (straight off their website):

The LHC is an international research project based at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland, where scientists, engineers and support staff from 111 nations are combining state-of-the-art science and engineering in one of the largest scientific experiments ever conducted. The LHC is the latest and most powerful in a series of particle accelerators that, over the last 70 years, have allowed us to penetrate deeper and deeper into the heart of matter and further and further back in time. The next steps in the journey will bring new knowledge about the beginning of our Universe and how it works, as the LHC recreates, on a microscale, conditions that existed billionths of a second after the birth of our Universe.

In a nut shell, atomic particles will be fired directly at each other at near light speed. Immediately after their collision it is anticipated that the Higgs Boson (or "God") particle will be discovered. Basically, the key to understanding the birth of the Universe and creation of all matter from the Sun to a single celled amoeba. Not since the Moon landing has humanity endeavored anything as ambitious as this.

Anyways, back to the article:

The crux was that CERN was experiencing delays due to some electrical issues and that an already expensive program ($8 Billion) was destined for cost over runs and was it really worth it?

Are you fucking serious? Your government has spent over 1 TRILLION DOLLARS on an illegal occupation of Iraq and spearheaded the biggest financial collapse in close to a century and you're pissed about about the few extra Million it might take to discover God? And this is a multinational endeavor so what's your contribution? $20? Fuck Off.

Which brings me to my point: In today's society, smart people are marginalized as nerds, heathens and elitists. Why does an obvious agnostic like Obama all of a sudden wear his "faith" on his sleeve? Political expediency. Johnny Six-Pack and Joe the Plumber are held up as ideals when in reality they are the yoke that halts progress and keeps us in the Middle Ages with Blackberry's.

In university I had - what I thought - was a pretty cool poster of Einstein on my wall (sandwiched between a poster of Bob Marley smoking pot and a still from Swingers, but I digress). On several occasions I had dorm mates come in to my room and ask who the old guy on my wall was. I kid you not. The smartest human being to walk this earth and he went un-recognized not more that 50 years after his death. Now, if I had a poster of Copernicus on my wall I'd allow for some confusion but Albert Fucking Einstein? My only thought was that these idiots are allowed to breed.

Why is mediocrity encouraged? Why do our political leaders always strive to be the "common man"? Personally, I don't want any of my drinking buddies to be Prime Minister. I want a highly educated and world traveled handsome man to lead my nation. In other words, I want someone better than I am. Governing a nation of millions is not like managing a McDonald's because the customers (electorate) don't have a fucking clue how to read the menu and when you attempt to explain it to them the only response you'll get is a blank stare and, if you're lucky, a fart. And you know what? Its not their fault.

Popular culture and the media have systematically killed the intellectual. Instead of Bob Dillon and John Lennon we have Britney Spears and Nicklelback. Instead of JD Salinger and Pierre Burton we have Tom Clancy and Dan Brown. Instead of Walter Cronkite and Ed Murrow we have Pat O'Brien and Sean Hannity. Leaders have been replaced with Sycophants and hyperbole spewing Demagogues.

Quick, name a Nobel Prize winner in Physics: I thought so. None other than Stephen Hawking said that the results of the LHD experiment are immaterial compared to the fact that we were even able to attempt it because either way our understanding of the Universe will have been greatly expanded. I don't have a fucking clue what that crippled genius is talking about, but since he's considerably smarter than 99.9% of us I'll just take it "on faith" that he knows what he's talking about. And for the doubters - chew on this: Americans elected a C- student to be their president..... twice. How well did that work out? My money's on the cripple.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Random Acts of Douchbaggery

Hey, you in the Hummer with the popped collar (pictured right): Stop honking your horn and whistling at every pair of tits walking down the street. She's not impressed, you look like an overcompensating douchebag and you're scaring my dog. You're late for your spray tan appointment. Piss off.

I didn't write this... but I easily could have... honest.

The hatred the American right has shown the NHS in recent days is just one more reason why I'll never understand our cousins across the Atlantic.

By Ian Dunt

I took an American cousin of mine to Paris once and as we walked around I asked if she thought Britain, where she'd stayed for most of her trip, was more like America or France. 'France,' she replied instantly. It was a far cry from when I had traveled around Latin America, and had French students tell me how they found Brits and Americans interchangeable.

It's one of the effects of Britain's weird, charming relationship with the world. We're a third European, a third American and third something else – something unique to ourselves. But every so often you take a look at what one of your American or French cousins are doing and think: what the hell?

If you've been paying any attention to the debate on President Obama's healthcare reform on the other side of the Atlantic, you'll know what I mean. Personally, it only came across my radar once American right wingers started mocking the NHS.

The charismatic, but extraordinarily foolish Tory MEP Daniel Hannan has been on US television saying he wouldn't "wish the NHS on anyone". Presumably that doesn't include sick, poor people. Or even sick people with some money stashed away. Adverts have been prominently shown making the NHS out to be some sort of death factory, casually condemning people if they fail to meet certain age criteria. Sarah Palin, whose idiocy is so vast she needs no introduction, has branded the NHS "evil". And town hall meeting after town hall meeting – all free to watch on the internet – have seen irate American right-wingers harangue speakers as they describe any move (and Obama's moves are very tentative) to universal healthcare as a Communist coup against the republic.

Watching these debates is like reading National Geographic. It's just impossible, from a European perspective, to understand what these people are on about. Their political views seem as backwards and removed from the world we live in as a shaman casting magic spells.

The angry opponents of Obama's reforms would do well to actually have a debate, rather than spew out foolish lies. The death panel accusation is not politics. It is just a lie. That's all it is. It has no place in political discourse. It's not even worthy of childhood discourse. It should be considered outside of acceptable debate, like racism or physical violence. That right-wing pundits and insurance companies are free to promote this nonsense is a damning indictment on the entire system. Personally, I'd be fairly indifferent, and wouldn't deign to comment on another country's way of doing things, were it not for the fact that they're now telling lies about the NHS, and that is intolerable.

Upsettingly, I have some sympathy for the philosophical origin of many of the argument used by Obama's opponents, in that they originate from a suspicion of government. Government and the state (which are not as distinct in reality as academics will tell you) are together the most dangerous organization in the world. The American mentality lies in a never-ending attempt to limit government to the smallest possible size. Quite right too. Unfortunately, I'm equally suspicious of the private sector, which, by definition, does not allow for democratic control of power. It's my suspicion of the state and the private sector which ensures, by the way, that I have no political allegiances whatsoever.

But the philosophical argument for limiting government is based on freedom – freedom from state intrusion into our lives. To apply this to universal healthcare is very sloppy thinking.

Freedom applies to all, not just the rich. The freedom of a rich man to pay less tax does not overrule the freedom of the poor to live. This is such an obvious point that no civilized human being should ever need to have it explained to them. It appears they do.

Besides, basic human decency makes a debate over 'socialised healthcare', as the American right calls it, utterly irrelevant. If healthcare isn't a right - rather than a privilege – then I don't know what is. Healthcare isn't a Turkish delight chocolate bar, or a Jacuzzi. Healthcare is life.

Britons are a grumpy and irritable lot. I'm just the same. Whenever I sit in a diner in America, I end up visibly shuddering in the wake of the meaningless, friendly noises churning endlessly from the person serving me. But we should occasionally take a little look around and realise the things that are great about our country. The NHS is one of those things. It is the cornerstone of Britain. It is the beating, human heart of this country.

The American right is correct. It is socialist. Nothing could be more socialist. It suits Marx's moral maxim perfectly: from each according to his ability, to each according to his need. In this case, the ability is the ability to pay, and the need is the need of care. It is not, in actual fact, the state or the government which is responsible for the NHS. It is us. We pay for it. We use it. The state is merely a prism through which the money and the care must pass. The NHS is us taking care of each other.

We live in a mixed economy. We aim to have enough free market to control the state, and provide the things we want. But we also need enough socialism to ensure we do not live like savages, the weakest amongst us starving to death on the street while a rich woman buys a Gucci handbag. Socialism without capitalism turns to tyranny. Capitalism without socialism turns to barbarism.

The sooner Americans realise the truth of a mixed economy, the better their world will become. In the meantime, their right-wing pundits should learn from the NHS, not mock it.

Monday, August 10, 2009

9 Month Layoff?

Sorry readers, a lot has happened the past 3/4 year that I won't bore you with.

Lets see, what have we missed? America gets a new president (a slight disappointment so far but more on that later... maybe) while we here in Canada are stuck with the same old douchebag embarrassment we've had the previous 3 years. But alas, a silver lining! Michael Ignatieff, the progeny of both Canadian Nationalists and Russian Royalty has taken over leadership of the Liberal Party after a year of ineptitude from the overmatched but likable Stephane Dion. We may finally get another forward thinking world travelled intellectual in Sussex Drive instead of the yawn enducing librarians and accountants we've had the past 3 decades. Ignatieff has a doctorate in History and has held prestigious positions at UofT, Harvard, Oxford and Cambridge. He's also an award winning writer, documentarian and journalist. Stephen Harper has a collection of great sweater vests. Touche.

Give me a day or two to organize my thoughts better on a variety of topics and I'll start posting again.

In conclusion: Fuck You Stephen Harper.