The Conspiracy Theory Flowchart

The Conspiracy Theory Flowchart by Crispian Jago.

It is a ‘must have’ for Those Who Know!

It’s also a handy guide to The Hopelessly Uninformed.

Crispian's Conspiracy Flowchart(Click on image, then click again to get the full-blown tangle of theories!) 

The Truth is Out There! I Want to Believe.

Hats off to the amazing Crispian Jago. He’s my new hero!

aa-tribalfang______________________________________________________________

Personal sidenote: I was recently invited to the home of some very dear friends. I love going there. Their generosity and hospitality to me over the years is truly overwhelming. During the evening, I had the rare opportunity (i.e. profound misfortune) of running into someone I’d met there once or twice before. This person holds a black belt in Conspiracy Theories. This person is convinced of their intellectual and moral superiority. This person is also an insufferable Know-It-All. This person is, in short, an colossal bore. I smiled. I nodded. I tried not to stick a fork into the person’s neck.

SOOOO… imagine by delight when I came across Crispian Jago’s invaluable chart this morning! I hope, my little geeks and nerdlings, that you have as much fun with it as I did!

Advertisements

Prometheus (Movie Review)

I finally got to watch the movie Prometheus the other night! [1]

I gotta tell you, my little geeks and nerdlings, I was at first very enthusiastic about seeing Prometheus, a kind of ‘prequel’ (but not really [2]) to the Alien franchise of science fiction movies.

(Promethus DVD cover)

And then I started hearing all this loose talk about how Prometheus was a huge disappointment and how, as a result, scores of science fiction geeks and Ridley Scott fans were self-immolating at Comic-Con. OK, on that last part I may be just a bit confused.

But the point is, it dampened my enthusiasm.

So, it was with a bit of trepidation that I slapped the DVD into the old coal-burning computer with the water-cooled monitor to see if my most recent movie purchase was a big waste of money.

(Noomi Rapace as archaeologist Elizabeth Shaw)

OK, here’s the deal (as per the Gospel According to Wikipedia)… In 2089, archaeologists Elizabeth Shaw and Charlie Holloway discover a star map in Scotland that matches others from several unconnected ancient cultures. They interpret this as an invitation from humanity’s forerunners, the “Engineers”. Peter Weyland, the elderly CEO of Weyland Corporation, funds the creation of the scientific vessel Prometheus to follow the map to the distant moon LV-223. The ship’s crew travels in stasis while the android David monitors their voyage. Arriving in 2093, they are informed of their mission to find the Engineers. Mission director Meredith Vickers orders the crew to avoid making contact without her permission.

Needless to say, the crew makes contact without her permission, bringing the ‘Alien’ life form back to the ship.

Mayhem ensues when… various crew members become infected with the Alien life form. Shaw, for example, is pregnant with an alien offspring. Fearing the worst, she uses an automated surgery table to extract and subdue the squid-like fetus.

My two cents… I wouldn’t call Prometheus disappointing but I would call it confusing. There are many important questions in this movie.  Who are the Engineers… the tall humanoid creatures who, presumably, created us in their image and, apparently, invited us to come find them? Their ultimate weapon of mass destruction, the Alien life forms, seems to have been intended for use on us. Why would the Engineers, our ‘creators’, want our destruction? Were we failures? Disappointments? Did they, like G-d in the story of Noah, regret creating us and plan our extermination? None of these questions are answered in the movie. This was a bit annoying for me because the whole point of the Prometheus mission is to find answers… and at the end we have, if anything, more questions.

(Charlize Theron as Prometheus’ mission director Meredith Vickers) 

We also have scientists acting in very silly and unscientific ways. Apparently, when scientists go on a mission to find new life forms, their reaction to finding said life forms is to run away, screaming like little girls. Also, and this is common right across movie genres, when running away from an unstoppable force moving or falling in a straight yet narrow line (a runaway vehicle, a collapsing structure or, in this case, a rolling croissant of a space station), the runners never think of moving to the side and letting the object zip past them. No… they always try to outrun the thing in the very direction in which it is headed. Luckily, Shaw (the runner) falls and realizes that if she only rolls away a few feet to the side, death by enormous intergalactic french pastry is no longer a problem.

Visually, the movie is stunning. The effects are elegant and of the highest quality. It is both spectacular and mesmerizing. The entire visual design is, sorry kids, out of this world.

(Hint: When trying to outrun an enormous rolling space vehicle, get out of its path!)

As for the performances, I liked them a lot. Noomi Rapace as the religious archaeologist turned Alien warrior is both innocent and tough. Michael Fassbender as David, an android that acts as the ship’s butler and maintenance man, is brilliant in his almost Spock-like robotic efficiency. As for Charlize Theron’s performance as Vickers, the Weyland Corporation employee who is sent to monitor the expedition, Theron plays her as such a ‘corporate bad guy’, such a bloodless, emotionless agenda in a suit, I suspect the character is quite literally an android… perhaps a more advanced model than David.

Bottom line… I liked this movie a lot. But… there damn well better be a ‘prequel sequel’ to Prometheus in order to clear up all the stuff raised by this movie!

One and three-quarters android thumbs up!

aa-tribalfang

_____________________________________________________________

[1] Prometheus Movie Blurb (as per official site): A team of explorers discover a clue to the origins of mankind on Earth, leading them on a thrilling journey to the darkest corners of the universe. There, they must fight a terrifying battle to save the future of the human race.

[2] Prometheus, a 2012 science fiction film directed by Ridley Scott, was originally conceived as a prequel to Alien. Development of the film began in the early 2000s as a fifth installment in the Alien franchise. Scott and director James Cameron developed ideas for a story that would serve as a prequel to Alien. By 2003, the development of Alien vs. Predator took precedence, and the prequel project remained dormant until 2009 when Scott again showed interest. Jon Spaihts wrote a script for an Alien prequel, but Scott opted for a different direction. In late 2010, Damon Lindelof joined the project to rewrite Spaihts’s script, and he and Scott developed a story that precedes the events of Alien but is not directly connected to that franchise. According to Scott, although the film shares “strands of Alien‘s DNA, so to speak”, and takes place in the same universe, Prometheus explores its own mythology and ideas.

Super 8: Movie Review

Last week, as I was making my way through the Zombie Serengeti (aka The Walmarts) in search of Big DVD Game, I managed to bag a copy of J.J. Abram’s and Steven Spielberg’s movie Super 8.

I can’t believe I actually didn’t get around to seeing it until last night!

(Super 8 movie poster)

I just want to say right off the top that Super 8 was AMAZING!! It was like stepping into a time machine and travelling back to the early 80’s. Back to before blockbuster movie trilogies were all filmed at the same time.  Heck, back to before there even was such a thing as blockbuster movie trilogies. Back to when you waited years for the next Steven Spielberg or George Lucas movie to hit the big screen.

OK… OK… take a breath. Focus. Oy, I am SO pumped after watching this movie, you’ve no idea!

OK, here’s the deal, (as per the Super 8 official site)…

In the summer of 1979, a group of friends in a small Ohio town witness a catastrophic train crash [1] while making a super 8 movie and soon suspect that it was not an accident. Shortly after, unusual disappearances and inexplicable events begin to take place in town, and the local Deputy tries to uncover the truth – something more terrifying than any of them could have imagined.

Mayhem ensues when the ‘something more terrifying’ turns out to be a space alien, and a seriously nasty one, that was being transported as part of the train cargo. It makes its escape after the crash, the military tries to cover it up and, bit by bit, the kids figure out what is what. Think of those American suburban kids in E.T… only the initials for the space alien stand for Extra-Terrifying. By the way… the four young boys do a heck of a job, screaming like little girls and running around trying not to get killed! Only kids can be so scared so loudly! It’s a riot.

(Joel Courtney and Elle Fanning)

Super 8 is cast largely with never seen before actors. [2]  Most of the movie’s real magic (outside of the CGI special effects) comes from the films two young stars, Joel Courtney (Joe) and Elle Fanning (Alice). It is such a joy to watch the two of them interact. Simply wonderful.  In the words of one critic, “Abrams remembers the simple rule that a majority of his contemporaries have forgotten: action and mayhem have meaning only when an audience cares about the people trapped within the maelstrom.” And you do genuinely care about these kids and their budding relationship.

As for the space alien, for most of the first half of the movie, you just get blurred images of it in the background or reflections of it. Watching it tear open a bus as if it was a Xmas present, you get to see more and more of it, especially the fact that has many arms (legs?) and a singularly unattractive face with large nasty teeth. Oh, and another thing… it is unbelievably ticked off! I think I’ll just leave it at that, for now.

(Super 8 DVD cover)

My two cents… This movie, to my mind, is classic late-70’s early-80’s Spielberg… vintage ‘ET – Jaws – Close Encounters – Goonies – Raiders of the Lost Ark’ Spielberg all rolled into one. One critic called it, “the most authentic Spielberg film Spielberg never directed!”

For older people, you can relive the times when great classic movies forged your love for science fiction and good storytelling. For younger people, I have a feeling that in 25 years, you’ll want to show your kids this movie!

The bottom line… If you loved films from the days before blockbuster meant cookie-cutter franchise movies, treat yourself and watch Super 8. It will transport you back to the not-too-distant past when film giants like Steven Spielberg and George Lucas cared about making extraordinary movies for ordinary people!

Two classic 80’s middle-school kids’ thumbs WAY up!

____________________________________________________________

[1] Oh, and by the way… In this case, ‘catastrophic train crash’ is actually an understatement. Less than 20 minutes into Super 8, you witness what is perhaps the most incredible, unbelievable, eye-popping, jaw-dropping, heart-stopping train wreck in movie history. That 90-second scene alone is worth the price!

[2] The only one I really recognized was Jessica Tuck (who played the Nan Flanagan character in True Blood) as the mom of Charles the movie-maker kid. Joe’s dad Jackson, the Deputy (played by Kyle Chandler), also looked very familiar but I couldn’t place him without resorting to the IMDb site.

Star Whores Episode IV: A Forlorn Hope

Nothing brings people together like a good space alien invasion or zombie apocalypse.

But as I hypothesized not long ago in Whoremaggedon: Rise of the Floombies, even the most routine of apocalyptic scenarios can have a seamy side.

Now, while today’s concept of The Upcoming Zombie Apocalypse only goes back to 1968 and George Romero’s seminal classic Night of the Living Dead, the idea of Earth being conquered by space aliens is much older going back at least as far as the 1898 H.G Wells novel The War of the Worlds.

Unlike in zombie lore, space alien contact and even invasions often have a sexual aspect. Whether they want us as instruments of reproduction or for scientific experimentation… or even mates a la Mars Needs Women or Men in Black… it is not uncommon for space aliens and humans to have a close encounter of an altogether different kind. Human-space alien prostitution, for example, figures in such films as Alien Nation and the more recent District 9.

But if it’s OK with you, let’s not talk about Flesh Gordon. It still makes me want to wash my eyeballs. And even I didn’t bother seeing Flesh Gordon and the Cosmic CheerleadersWhile I am loath to call them ‘standards’, I am not without my limits.

I would expect there are more than a few boys and young men who daydream about making it with sexy space alien women in skin-tight mylar outfits. And I confine my remarks to males for the simple reason that I have never even once heard girls or women so much as speculate on sexual relations with off-world studs from a distant solar system. OK, maybe those big blue hunky guys from Avatar, but that’s it. Granted, I may have led a sheltered life but there you have it.

So, intergalactic-interspecies sex, eh?

As someone who’s recently been told that I need an intervention for my zombie fascination, I still feel the need to speak out on this subject.

I mean really. I’m sorry, but you’ve forced me to put on my serious hat.

OK, guys (and the occasional girl)… nerd to nerd…

Firstly, humans do not even communicate in any real significant way with the other Earth life forms with which we have DNA in common! You may be able, after many months, to train a brilliant chimp genius… a chimpanzee Einstein with whom we share about 99% of our DNA… to do some form of rudimentary sign language. Human toddlers can do that instinctively. And that’s with only a 1% difference between us and our closest relative on the planet. So, how much of a gap would there be between us and another life form that’s only 1% different from us in the direction that we are different from the chimps? What are we to them? Do you think they will want to have a conversation with us? And if they wanted to, would we even be able to understand each other let alone want to have hot steamy Flesh Gordon sex? And again, this is between life forms that are only 1% different. Would space aliens have evolved on some distant planet under conditions dissimilar to Earth… and yet they share 99% of our DNA? [1]

Seriously, people. Give the old head a shake, ok? Please? Space alien blonde bombshells in tinfoil bras and panties aren’t going to show up anytime soon. And ladies… neither are big blue stud muffins.

Despite the fervent prayers of many a nerd and geek everywhere, the chances of lusty intergalactic hotties travelling hundreds of light years to have sex with everyone at Comic-Con are slim, at best.

I’m sorry. I hate being the bearer of bad news.

If it makes you feel any better, I can get you some popcorn and a copy of Cat-Women of the Moon.

There! Now I can take off my serious hat and we can get on with the urgent business of preparing for The Upcoming Zombie Apocalypse, the way the Almighty had intended.

_____________________________________________________________

[1]  An out of this world event, Cosmic Quandaries, was held at The Palladium, St. Petersburg College (Florida) at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, March 26, 2008. Audience members had the opportunity to ask Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson a question on any and all galactic wonders they may have. This paragraph is modeled closely after a small part of that seminar. The entire 90-minute event can be seen here.

Battle Los Angeles

The other day, I picked up the DVD of Battle Los Angeles.

I thought it was going to be about a space alien invasion, like Independence Day. I found out fairly early into the movie that it was actually about a U.S. Marine unit stationed near Los Angeles at the time of a global space alien invasion.

In other words, it’s a war movie with space aliens as the ‘invading army’.

I don’t normally watch war movies. I generally find them stupid and icky. There have been exceptions. Platoon, Apocalypse Now, GloryDie Brücke (The Bridge) [1]… to name some off the top of my head. This one, however, kinda got me hooked.

It’s not that it’s a fantastic movie. It’s probably not. But for some reason, I couldn’t take my eyes off it. The way the Marines (and one woman [Air Force]) try to fight and ‘win’ their little piece of the battle had me mesmerized. I couldn’t imagine myself in that situation. I’d probably hide under a desk, frozen with fear, screaming my head off.

I’ve never been in a war. I’ve never had my town occupied by another country’s army. My parents and grandparents went through it. They had to watch, powerless and defenceless, as Nazis took over their village. They had to hide in the fields and bushes while Allied bombers were blasting the hell out of everything, while the German army was pulling out and blasting the hell out of everything, and while partisans, fascists, socialists, communists and Lord knows who else were fighting each other and blasting the hell out of everything.

And then I thought of the girls I know who have boyfriends fighting in Afghanistan. What must they be going through? How do they function day-to-day? Going to bed every night, waking up every morning, not knowing if their boys are OK, if they’re hurt… if they’re dead. And what about the moms?? Those are their babies out there. Their toddlers. Their kindergarten graduates. Their first graders with the goofy smiles and the front tooth missing in school pictures.

War is stupid and icky. And yeah, I know… you gotta do it sometimes. That’s just the way it goes.  But it is so much stupider and ickier for the people who have to fight.

What’s the old saying? Nothing is impossible for the person who doesn’t actually have to go out and do it himself.

These Marines and that one Air Force woman went out and did it. Because it is what they signed up for. It is what their country demanded of them and what they demanded of themselves.

Battle Los Angeles made me want to kick Dick Cheney in the nuts.

aa-tribalfang

_____________________________________________________________

[1] AMAZING movie. Saw it when I was a little kid. FANTASTIC!!