Saturday, April 01, 2006
The plot's pretty simple. The English government has become oppressive. The people have sacrificed freedom for security. The man known only as V wants to take the government down, so he sets about doing it. He's a terrorist, a revolutionary, or a freedom fighter, I guess, depending on your point of view. Or maybe he's an anarchist. Mainly, though, he just wants revenge (you'll have to see the movie to find out why; I'm not telling). He doesn't have any plans to replace the current government with something better. I can't remember the exact line from the movie, but when he's asked about that he says something like, "There are no certainties, only opportunities."
Hugo Weaving is V, and he plays the entire movie behind an immobile mask of Guy Fawkes. I thought he did an amazing job of conveying the character's thoughts and feelings with his voice and body language. In fact, I found him so convincing that a couple of times I almost thought the mask changed expression.
Natalie Portman plays a woman named Evey, who goes from conforming to the norm to informing on V even though he's rescued her, to helping him. I'd say she redeems herself for the various Star Wars prequels here.
The whole cast is good, and so is the script, which is more literate and less action-oriented than you might have been led to believe by the trailers. Check it out.
A Conversation with PETER RABE, by George Tuttle.: "A TOO BRIEF CONVERSATION WITH PETER RABE
by George Tuttle
I first contacted Peter Rabe in the fall of 1989. In that letter, I told him about how I’d admired his fiction and asked if he’d be willing to let me interview him for Paperback Parade. He wrote back, agreeing to the interview, and said he was very flattered. We set up a time, and I called. We talked for about fifty minutes. "
Thursday, March 30, 2006
THE BRAZOSPORT NEWS: Alvin students march to Pearland, realize they have no idea what they're doing, then catch the bus home:
Hilton to record rap album for music debut - Music - Entertainment - smh.com.au: "US Academy Award-winning rappers Three 6 Mafia say they are producing and recording tracks with Paris Hilton for her music debut.
'We ran into her at a William Morris agency party and she said she liked our song Stay Fly and asked could we work with her,' said Jordan 'Juicy J' Houston, one-third of the Memphis hip-hop group."
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
The plot of the movie, such as it is, concerns the search for “The Mother of Voices,” a giant bell made of solid gold. I love the opening scenes where the story of the bell is told. Both the telling and the shots used are just about perfect. And speaking of the shots, this is a beautiful movie, filmed in Technicolor and something called Technirama. But I digress. Poitier believes that Widmark knows the whereabouts of the bell, and this leads to complications, including The Mare of Steel, which is a giant curved blade in the shape of a horse’s head. Riding The Mare of Steel is, of course, fatal, not to mention painful. I mean, look at the way you’d land on it.
The funniest scene in the movie occurs when the Viking crew breaks into Poitier’s harem. Pure slapstick. The battle scenes are also good, with none of the quick cutting that ruins that kind of scene in current movies. Sure, we see the same thing two or three times from different angles and aren’t supposed to notice. Who cares?
One of the screenwriters was Berkely Mather. When you have time, you might enjoy reading his novel The Gold of Malabar. I did, long ago.
But what I really enjoyed was the novel The Long Ships by Frans Bengtsson. You’ll be shocked to hear that it’s hardly anything at all like the movie. But it’s wonderful. I read it over 40 years ago, and I can still remember the last line. Not that it’s all that great, but it was affecting to me because of all that had gone before. Check it out.
Chron.com | At 50, Forbidden Planet a benchmark in film: "On its 50th anniversary, Forbidden Planet is considered a benchmark film that launched a thousand spaceships
By LOUIS B. PARKS
Copyright 2006 Houston Chronicle
March 1956. Dwight Eisenhower was president. Psychoanalysis was topical. New technology meant fancy kitchen appliances or the Bomb. Space travel was science fiction. And most science-fiction films were cheap monster movies.
But not all. A half-century after its debut, Forbidden Planet is still a beloved science-fiction movie. It has a monster, of sorts, but this widescreen, big-budget production is into the excitement of exploration, humanity's self-destructive tendencies and wowing audiences with mind-expanding special effects."
Click on the link for the whole article. And on the right-hand side is the writer's list of the top 25 SF movies.
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
Thanks to The Little Professor for the link.
A four-foot-long gator apparently spent the night in a man's garage in North Fort Myers. The 82-year-old man says he tried to shoo it with a broom -- then sprayed it with a garden hose.
It didn't leave until three other people prodded it, and it moved on to a lake.
Just a few days ago, another alligator was found at the front door of a Bonita Springs home."
Monday, March 27, 2006
When I heard that the paperback of Victor Gischler's Suicide Squeeze was out, I figured it was about time to get busy and read the hardback that's been sitting on my shelves almost since it was brand new. I'm glad I did.
The book's main character, Conner Samson, is down on his luck. Perpetually. He doesn't have the dough to pay for a beer because he never wins his bets on baseball games. The woman he loves, Tryanny Jones is married to someone else and is a sex addict. About the only man she doesn't want to have sex with is Conner.
Conner's life is about to change, but his luck isn't going to improve. What happens to him involves a boat he's supposed to repossess, Japanese gangsters, a former secret agent who's as dangerous as the gangsters, a huge collector named Otis, whose boss is Rocky Big, comic book nerds, and an assortment of other things, in a plot that's impossible for me to describe. Let's just say that everybody is out to double-cross everybody else, and kill anyone that gets in the way, to gain possession of a baseball card.
Being a baseball card collector myself, I have to love a book in which the mcguffin is a one-of-a-kind card signed by Joe Dimaggio, Billy Wilder, and Marilyn Monroe. It's worth whatever some sucker will pay for it, maybe a million bucks, and it comes with a signed personal letter written by Monroe. The people Gischler writes about will do just about anything to get it.
There's lots of funny stuff in the novel, but the climactic shoot-out is one of the bloodiest I've read in years. It's not funny at all. Well, not unless you're thinking that Gischler is messing with you when he says, "The weapon sang, a Wagnerian shotgun opera, the sound track to hell." Because Gischler's next novel, coming out in April, is, you guessed it Shotgun Opera. I plan to read that one, too.
When I started going to AggieCon, I loved going to the panels and hearing writers like Theodore Sturgeon, Jack Williamson, Roger Zelazny, Poul Anderson, L. Sprague de Camp, C. J. Cherryh, and lots of others talk about their work. I never dreamed that one day I’d be the guy up at the front of the room doing the talking. I thought about that a lot this past weekend, though. I’ve been going to AggieCon since before most of this year’s organizers were born. I used to go hear the writers. Now I’m one of the writers people come to hear. Time changes everything.
Another thing time has changed is the dealers’ room. It used to be wall-to-wall with book dealers, and they all had old paperbacks that I loved to go through. I found many of the paperbacks that line my office walls there. Not anymore. This year there were exactly two dealers with any real stock of books. I bought three or four. A far cry from the old days, and kind of sad. I guess most people who attend SF cons just aren’t interested in books now. They’re into gaming, anime, jewelry, costumes, weapons. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. It’s just different.
As always, I had a great time in College Station. Joe Lansdale didn’t show up (he’s in Italy, basking in the glow of his international fame), but I saw lots of great folks: Willie Siros, Scott Cupp (it was Scott’s 33rd consecutive AggieCon), Jayme Blaschke, Rick Klaw, Mark Finn, Tom Knowles, David Carren, and Theresa Patterson, just to name a few. I’m ready to go back next year.
The Washington Post
Updated: 1:36 p.m. ET March 26, 2006
HOUSTON - For the first time since 1972, the United States is planning to fly to the moon, but instead of a quick, Apollo-like visit, astronauts intend to build a permanent base and live there while they prepare what may be the most ambitious undertaking in history — putting human beings on Mars."
Sunday, March 26, 2006
The 30 minute pilot is about an astronaut (played by Jack Black) with a medical secret who is on the run from the evil Ron Silver and the rest of NASA, with the help of a talking motorcycle called Heat Vision (voiced by Owen Wilson)."
Cindy Walker, prolific country songwriter, dies at 87
Texan wrote 500 songs, including 'You Don't Know Me' and 'Bubbles in My Beer'By Michael Corcoran
Friday, March 24, 2006
She had never stepped inside a honky-tonk before writing "Bubbles In My Beer," one of the greatest country and western drinking songs ever, for Bob Wills. Her material ranged from the smooth ballad "Anne Marie" for country crooner Jim Reeves to the pop of "Dream Baby" for Roy Orbison to the wacky "Barstool Cowboy From Old Barstow" for Spike Jones and the City Slickers.
"Cindy Walker never wrote a bad song in her life," Nashville producer Fred Foster said two years ago when the prolific first lady of country songwriting was feted with a tribute concert at the Paramount Theatre. The spritely, gregarious Walker, whose best-known composition, "You Don't Know Me," was recorded by everyone from Eddy Arnold and Ray Charles to Elvis Presley and Michael Bolton, got up and danced a jig in the aisles a few times during the Paramount show. It seemed like she would live forever.
"You Don't Know Me"
XL Feature (includes audio)A Pioneer Songstress
But Walker, the subject of a new tribute album by Willie Nelson, died Thursday evening soon after being checked into a hospital in her native Mexia, about 40 miles east of Waco, with respiratory problems. She was 87.
"She affected me and everyone else who came along after her," Nelson said in a statement announcing the release of "You Don't Know Me: The Songs of Cindy Walker," which hit stores March 14. "We had to have heard her music before we could do ours."
The first woman inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1970, Walker said in a 2004 interview with the American-Statesman that in a career that spanned seven decades, with nearly 500 songwriting credits, she never experienced discrimination or thought of herself as a rarity in a male-dominated field.
"The one thing that everybody in the music business is always looking for is a good song," she said. "If you could write some, it didn't matter if you were male, female or orangutan."
The last time I went out of town for a regional SF convention, we lost Don Knotts and Darren McGavin. This time it was Cindy Walker, the pride of my hometown of Mexia, Texas, and Buck Owens. I may stay at home from now on.