John Carter sequel…?

No, its not going to happen (Disney simply lost waaay too much money on the first film to even think about doing a second), but Taylor Kitsch, the star of the mega-bomb offered a couple of brief and interesting comments about the film, and how the script to the sequel was, in his opinion, very good:

I have to admit to being curious about the continued interest people (myself included!) have in John Carter, now two years removed from its infamous release and flop.

I’m fascinated by the creative personalities involved, the money spent, and the sense of doom that permeated the entire project seemingly at every stage of its creation.  Having seen it after its release, I stand by the closing lines of my (mildly belated) review of the film:

(John Carter) is a pleasant enough time killer with some good humor and some impressive set pieces but, and its a very BIG “but”, given the film’s costs, it could and should have been so much more.

While John Carter may well have been a film that didn’t deserve the incredible negativity it received prior to -and during- its release, in the end the movie was little more than slightly above average.  Yes, it was a very handsome looking action film and yes, the effects were quite impressive.  But on the negative side, the two leads shared very little onscreen chemistry (sexual or otherwise) and the villains and their motivations were never all that well defined.

Yes, author Edgar Rice Burroughs essentially created many of what are now sci-fi adventure tropes with his Mars series and it is sad when people look at some of the goings on in John Carter and complain the movie “ripped off” elements from other, more popular, movies (when the reality is quite the opposite!), but the reality remains what I said above.

And yet…if the film hadn’t been such a bust, I have to admit being curious to see a potential sequel.  For all its faults, John Carter was probably as close to Burrough’s vision as you’re likely to find.

Ah well, what could have been.

More self-driving cars…

Found this article today about Google’s new driverless prototype car, a tiny little thing capable of seating two and intended to be used as a constant motion “taxi”:

For those too lazy to click the link, here’s a little video (a perhaps too sugary one) of the new prototype:

I’ve been increasingly curious about Google’s work in the field of driverless cars, and have come to the conclusion that they’re about to create something that will indeed revolutionize the world…at least the moment this technology is given the OK and is put into (ahem) motion.

Imagine: Thanks to this particular technology, there may come a time people no longer will you have to actually own a car.

If you live in the city, you initiate an app on your smartphone/tablet/whathaveyou and it will signal your driverless vehicle to come pick you up wherever you are.  You get into said vehicle (there could be hundreds of them buzzing around a city at any time), indicate where you want to go, then charge the ride on another app and sit back and read/watch/listen to whatever you have while the vehicle takes you to your destination.

True, you can do this with a taxi today, but this can be quite expensive.  With these light, probably very fuel efficient mini-vehicles which have no driver to pay, I’m guessing the ride will wind up being quite cheap.  If it costs in the neighborhood of the price of riding a bus, only you will get right to your destination and you don’t have to share your ride with anyone you don’t want to, then what’s not to love?

Once you reach your destination and get out of the vehicle, it will find the next closest “client” and continue its unending trip, person to person and place to place.


And scary.

Think about this, too: This technology will clearly impact the taxi and public transportation business.  Taxis as we know them may go the way of the blacksmith.  And, as this technology is more refined, what happens to other professional drivers?  Could this technology not be used on transport trucks?  Will there be a time the big rigs we see out there are driven by…no one?  What of the auto insurance industry?  If there comes a time when driverless cars are the norm and fewer and fewer people actually own their own car and instead use these mini-cars, what becomes of all the people in that particular business?  Should we care?

Computer technology has had a staggering effect on society and the economy.  We no longer have record stores and it looks like book stores may be a thing of the past as well.  In fact, we buy more and more merchandise online each day.  Now, with the very real possibility that driverless car technology is in our very near future, other changes are inevitable.

Stay tuned.

Corrosive Knights, the 5/23/14 update

Seventeen days ago, on 5/6/14, I had my latest Corrosive Knights update (you can read the whole thing here) and figured it was time to offer another update.

To begin, in the last update I noted a couple of things which, sadly, will not come to be.  I was hopeful I could finally give out the book’s title in this update, but given some of which follows, I’m going to hold back on that.  There are, however, at least two of you out there who already know the novel’s title.

Secondly, I was hopeful that I could wrap the novel up in roughly a month or so and release it in early June.  That looks increasingly like it won’t happen, at least not then.

Why?  Because shortly after writing my 5/6 update I caught what I thought was a cold but which turned out to be more serious.  Soon, I was seeing a Doctor and was on anti-biotics and damn near bed ridden.  The time I would have had to fix the novel obviously took a hit and, after I was feeling better, I lost a little more time dealing with my daughter’s graduation.  That I wouldn’t have that any other way! 😉 .

In spite of the time crunching obstacles, there is some good news:  As of only minutes ago I finished the eighth draft read through and am happy to say the novel is really close to being done.

In my last update, I hoped the eight draft would be the final one.  In part, it is.  I couldn’t be happier with the first three quarters of the book and don’t feel they need to be reviewed after this.  The final roughly 1/4ths of the novel, including its climax, still needs a little work and I plan to give that part -and not the entire piece- one more go around before releasing it.  This, obviously, reviewing only a quarter of the book will take far less time than going over the entire work.

Unfortunately, looming in the very near future are some pressing things I need to do which will once again delay the time I have to work on this book.  There is no way around this.

It would therefore appear this novel, the fifth in the Corrosive Knights series and the one that finally brings the series all together, will be ready no earlier than late June or early July.  If I can satisfy myself and get it ready earlier, I will do so.  But until then, this is my best guesstimate.

Thanks for your patience and thanks to everyone taking advantage of the free Kindle download (expires on 5/25!) of the second book in the series, The Last Flight of the Argus.  To all those new readers, I hope you like what you see and give the rest of the books in the series a shot.

The next one will be out soon!

Corrosive MACN & Coming Soon

Pat Sajak and the world of conservative game show hosts…

Interesting, though brief, article by Daniel D’Addario for regarding Pat Sajak, host of the still popular Wheel of Fortune, who recently made some rather …provocative… twitter posts regarding -of all things!- Global Warming and his apparent lack of concern regarding the same:

I wasn’t too surprised to see Mr. Sajak’s comments, though they were so over the top I can’t help but wonder if he maybe regrets them now.  I was aware that he was a hard right conservative, though I don’t recall where I first read that.  I was a little more surprised to read that several other game show hosts are also very conservative in their ideology.

A strange coincidence?

Not according to Mr. D’Addario, who examines Mr. Sajak’s twitter posts and notes how several other popular (and not quite as popular) game show hosts also share a right leaning.

A number of years ago, probably going on twenty or more, The Wheel of Fortune was in town and somehow I obtained a pair of tickets to see the filming.  I was never, ever, a fan of the show but I was curious to see the process.  So, my wife to be and I headed out to the studio and, along with a large-ish crowd took our seats and watched the “magic”.

The “magic”, it turned out, was rather dull, if only because the crew really had the show, and all it involved with it, so completely nailed down.  In some ways, you couldn’t help but admire the cold efficiency of the routine.  Nonetheless, I missed the lack of any spontaneous reactions from anyone but the show’s winners.  Every word uttered by Pat Sajak appeared scripted, every smile and movement well rehearsed.  As much money as he is/was surely making off the show, I wondered if I could work on something that stripped me down to, basically, a marionette.

The staff, crew, and contestants filmed several episodes in a row, stopping in real time for “commercial breaks” -and using that time to relax or unwind- and at the “end” of the episodes everyone on the stage disappeared, only to reappear a few minutes later when filming was about to resume with a change of clothing obviously designed to give the appearance, when the shows were eventually aired, that an actual day had passed between episodes when it obviously hadn’t.

I don’t know how many episodes were filmed in a row as we were so bored with the proceedings that we left after the “second” episode was finished, but it would not surprise me in the least if at the end of that day and after perhaps not much more than three or four hours of taping they had a week’s worth of episodes.

Hollywood magic.

Gotta love it.

In an ’80’s music kinda mood?

Check this link out, from, featuring 80 great ’80’s “one-hit” wonders:

After seeing the list, I know what some of you may be thinking as it certainly entered my mind: Some of the mentioned bands/artists were hardly “one-hit” wonders.  While it is true some of them charted perhaps one “big” hit within the US, they may have had great success outside our country.  So, bear in mind this list is rather US-centric.

Having said that, its an interesting list and features some really good (and some I’d rather forget! 😉 )1980’s tunes.

Naturally, it makes me want to add a few of my own.

I won’t adhere to the “one-hit” wonder notion, rather mention bands/artists that to me were mostly about one really great song, even if they charted with others.

Let’s begin with Red Rider’s Lunatic Fringe.  The band had other songs that charted both in the US and outside and singer Tom Cochrane had a big solo hit with Life is a Highway, but this song, to me, was their best, most famous work:

Next up, Aldo Nova’s Fantasy.  Cheesy, cheesy, CHEESY video, but I always liked the song.  Once again, Aldo Nova had a few other songs that charted, but it is Fantasy that I remember him best for.

I lived in Canada briefly in the mid-1980’s and I really enjoyed Parachute Club’s Feet of the Moon.  Parachute Club’s success was almost entirely limited to their home country and they charted a little higher there with the song Rise Up, but to me, this was their most memorable song:

Golden Earring has been around forever (they first formed in 1961!!!!) and are best known in the US for the excellent 1973 mega-hit Radar Love, but nearly a decade later in 1982 they had a second memorably big US hit with the moody, thrilling Twilight Zone

Man, I could go on, but the hour is getting late and I’ve got work to do.  Perhaps I’ll revisit this list and provide a few more (not quite) one-hit wonders of the 1980’s!

Different strokes…

As the saying goes, not everyone loves the literary classics.  Some may downright hate them.

Here then is a list of 16 Hilarious Negative Amazon Reviews for Classic Books:

The first entry is the one I found the most amusing, a review of William Shakespeare’s Othello, which I present below in its entirety:

Me doth not thinkift I understandifth this tale 
★ ★ 
Shakespeare was a real cool person for his time. Unfortunately, his plays are not a real cool thing to read for my time. It is English and I speak English. I just don’t happen to speak Old English. Which is really ironic because I am old and speaking English. If you read slowly and put your thinking cap on, you will get the gist of what the story is about. Or! You can just purchase Cliff notes, etc. This story is exciting and full of action………..I Think? 

“Which is ironic because I am old and speaking English”?!?!

If that had you laughing, then by all means check out the other 15 entries.  Guaranteed to at least give you a smile! 😉

2014 cancelled TV shows…

…a handy-dandy list, complete with pictures!

It’s a sad annual event for many, the death of TV shows.  Sad, of course, for the performers/creators/writers/directors, as their source of employment -and therefore livelihood- is lost, and sad for those who may have found something to like in one or more of the listed shows, and hoped for their continuation.

Of the later, alas, there were unfortunately too few.

Looking over this year’s list, there were very few shows I actively watched and plenty I saw one or two episodes (or less).  Trophy Wife intrigued me as I’ve always enjoyed actress Malin Ackerman, but what little I saw of the show didn’t do all that much for me.  Hostages and Crisis both looked intriguing, but it appears I’m still a little burnt out by 24 type shows (I’ve skipped the new mini-series) and wound up giving those shows a pass.  Surviving Jack, the one episode I saw of it, was hilarious and featured some truly memorable lines.  At one point in the episode I saw Chris Meloni, the star of the show, said something along the lines of “children are parasites that nature has conditioned us to love” and just I about fell on the floor laughing.  Having said that, it was somewhat difficult seeing Mr. Meloni in a comedic role.  Perhaps I’ve gotten too accustomed to seeing him in Law and Order.

There were two prominent sci-fi shows, Intelligence and Almost Human, that I watched and was not terribly surprised to see on the list of cancellations.  Intelligence began reasonably well, an updating, to my mind, of The Six Million Dollar Man, minus the superhuman strength.  The problem with the show was that it was so damn bland and never was all that gripping.  After seeing three or four episodes, I gave up on it.

Almost Human, on the other hand, was intriguing enough for me to watch every episode of its abbreviated run.  Having said that, the show had its share of problems.  Michael Ealy’s robotic Dorian was at times more annoying than interesting and as much as I’m a fan of Karl Urban (and I’m a REALLY big fan of his work), I felt his character on the show slipped into the cliched “grumpy old partner” mode a little too much for my taste.  Still, there was enough there to make this the one show I will if not miss, at least regret not seeing more of.

Finally, perhaps the one cancelled show that will have its fans the most upset is Community.  Unlike many of the other shows in the list, this one lasted five seasons.  I’ve watched several episodes of the show during its run and will be the first to admit it had some very, very clever writing…but despite that, Community never drew me in enough to follow on a regular basis.  Different strokes and all.

And so we wind up another TV season.  What gems (and misses) can we expect in the next?!

Stay tuned!

Natalie Merchant

Growing up, the music of 10,000 Maniacs never appealed to me all that much.  I was aware of their songs, even liked several of them, but never enough to go out and buy their albums.   Nonetheless, in and around 1995 I somehow heard, and became intrigued, with Natalie Merchant, by then an ex-member of 10,000 Maniacs, and her solo debut album Tigerlily.  Specifically, I absolutely loved the song Carnival.

I’ve followed Ms. Merchant ever since, buying each solo album she’s released.  Incredibly, she just released a new album, the self-titled Natalie Mercant, which features her first new songs in 14 years (how time flies!), and I’m looking forward to buying it.  I then noted the following interview with her in Salon…

…and after reading it, was surprised by some of the vitriol found in the comments section afterwards.

A couple of examples: “Get over yourself” and “What a self involved, pretentious mommie-whiner”

An admission:  More often than not I love reading comments to articles.  Whether news, gossip, opinion, the comments sections can often be as entertaining, if not more so, than the articles that inspired them.  And often the more vulgar the comments are, especially if the vulgarity is creative, the funnier I find them.

In this case, however, I found some of these negative posts rather…depressing.

I can completely understand someone not liking Natalie Merchant’s music.  I’ve often noted how big a fan of David Bowie’s music I am yet my kids barely tolerate his works (they’re especially bewildered of my love for The Smashing Pumpkins.  They feel Billy Corgan’s voice is the absolute worst voice in music ever!).

Still, my kids’ reaction is to the music, not the person behind it.

The interview with Ms. Merchant, I felt, was interesting and illuminating.  She is asked questions and offers her opinions, which –surprise!– is what interviews do.

Why the personally directed vitriol?

To be fair, this wasn’t everyone’s reaction.  Some people fell into fawning territory, which in some ways can be just as extreme.

Ah well, I suppose it is what it is.  If you enjoy Natalie Merchant’s music, give the interview a read.  It is, at least to me, interesting -and short!- enough to give it a whirl.

Spione (1928) a (ridiculously) belated review

One of my all time favorite films is the Fritz Lang directed, Thea Von Harbou written 1927 sci-fi film Metropolis.  This film was incredibly influential in so many ways, including serving as a visual inspiration to designs in Star Wars and Blade Runner.

Incredibly, director Lang and von Harbou would follow that very influential film with a film that is THE great-grand daddy of all spy films, Spione (aka Spies).  If you want to see what is essentially a James Bond film made over thirty years before the release of Dr. No, look no further, for Spione features such by now familiar spy tropes as…a dashing, handsome hero known by his number rather than name (in this case, 326 versus 007), a villainous head of a vast criminal enterprise confined to a wheelchair, seductive femme fatales -one of which falls for our hero!-, world peril, secret documents, hidden listening devices, disappearing ink, globe trotting (to a degree) adventure, an extended chase scene, and, of course, danger danger danger!

Having said that, those looking forward to a proto-James Bond film should also realize this is a very old film and there will be things about it modern audiences will no doubt have trouble understanding and/or appreciating.  The acting, for example, is at times quite overwrought.  This is not an uncommon element in silent films, as emotions had to be conveyed without actual dialogue.

The story itself features a McGuffin at the central of its plot, and this McGuffin, unfortunately, winds up being not as well thought out as it could have been.  Basically, the Japanese and the Germans are working on some kind of treaty and the movie’s villain wants to get his hands on the signed paper before it leaves Germany, thus provoking war…or something.  The movie gives the impression there is only one copy of this treaty heading out, and for a treaty the movie conveys as being so important, that seems rather absurd.  You would think multiple copies of this treaty would exist and the fellows signing it would keep in touch with their respective superiors via some other form of communication instead of relying on getting that one copy of the treaty to their homeland safely.

Still, if you can look past these elements and appreciate the film as the time capsule it is, you will have plenty to admire.  Again, the most astounding things present in this film are the James Bondian elements.  One comes away from this wondering just how familiar author and creator of James Bond Ian Fleming and the makers of the Bond films were with Spione.

But they weren’t the only ones!

Remember this scene, from Blade Runner?

Starting from roughly the 1:38 mark, where Sebastian “finds” Pris, this scene is strikingly similar to one in Spione, where during a rainstorm the sympathetic Japanese agent Masimoto (who is in charge of the treaty our villain wants to get his hands on) “finds” a soaking woman at a doorway who he feels sympathy for and, like Sebastian, takes in…only to be betrayed by her later on.

So, if you’re in the mood for a prototypical James Bond film, give Spione a whirl.  While parts of it may be dated and the story may be a little absurd, you will nonetheless be astonished by how many elements of this film found their way to modern spy features.

Highly recommended.