Monday, May 23, 2016

Random Thought

Despite it's very questionable politics I am still a fan of Robert Heinlein's "Starship Troopers". Why? Because it involves killing arachnids!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016


On May 1 Madeleine LeBeau, the last living cast member of the film Casablanca, died at the age of 92.

Casablanca is, in my opinion, the greatest movie ever made.  Most Anglophone film buffs put it in the top three along with The Godfather and Citizen Kane.  There are many elements to why it is a great film including Michael Curtiz's direction, the script with it's snappy, witty dialog, and of course the stellar performances by Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman.  And I'm pretty much a sucker for anything that has Claude Rains in it.

But what really made the film for me were the performances by the supporting actors like Madeleine LeBeau.  In Casablanca she plays Yvonne, Rick's embittered ex-girlfriend who takes up with a German officer.  It's a small role but one that has great emotional punch because during the famous Marseillaise scene she cries out "Vive le France! Vive la democracie!"

She provides that extra oomph that makes an already emotional scene even better.  And it is more believable coming from her than possibly some other actress because LeBeau was a wartime refugee.

Casablanca is a story of men and women trying to cope during the horrors of World War 2.  Many of the supporting actors in it like LeBeau and her then husband Marcel Dalio, who played Emil the croupier, had fled Nazi occupied Europe for the safety of the United States.  It is the verisimilitude of these and other genuine refugees in the small parts of this film that provided it with that little extra something that more than made up for the occasional plot hole.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Buckaroo Banzai versus the Television Executives

The big news today in the geek-o-sphere are the reports that Kevin Smith is in the process of creating an Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai television series.

I meet this news with no small amount of trepidation.  I am a very old school fan of Buckaroo Banzai.  I was a fan of Buckaroo Banzai before the movie came out.  Not many people remember that Earl Mac Rauch's novelization of his script actually hit the bookstores about six months before the film did.  And I got a copy and read it several times before the film debuted.  Needless to say, it helped make sense of the movie too.

So the thought of a BB television series fills me with both dread and excitement.  On one hand it looks like it's going to be written and produced by Kevin Smith and he is the ubergeek's ubergeek.  If anyone will treat the original material in a way that fans will appreciate it is him.  On the other hand a lot of it is going to depend on which network or cable channel pics it up.  Heaven forfend the Fox Network gets their dirty little paws on it.  The subject matter is so bizarre they will no doubt treat it in such a manner that Firefly winds up looking like Gunsmoke.  And while things have been improving over at SyFy, I still don't trust them to treat original material well  I guess time will tell.

I do like Smith's idea of essentially remaking the film so that it is the story arc of the first season.  When you read the book there are a lot of ideas and subplots that didn't make it into the film that could easily fill out a whole season.  Though I am sad for whoever they cast as Rawhide.  Talk about doomed by canon.  Also the fact that Smith himself wants to play John BigbootĂ© (Bigboot-TAY!) is a bit worrisome.

And I really like his idea of doing the non-existent Against The World Crime League sequel for season two, if they get that far.  Again Rauch's novelization goes into a fair amount of detail about the WCL and it's leader Hanoi Xan that were not necessary for the film but are a great source of ideas for television episodes.

I think in the end I am cautiously optimistic.  Kevin Smith is a fan and he knows how to appeal to fans.  Buckaroo Banzai is a franchise with an already built in fan base.  The TV series could probably be made on a relatively constrained budget for genre TV since the original film was done on a shoe string and the fans won't expect the most cutting edge special effects.  In fact the cheesiness is part of the charm.

So I'm going to keep my fingers crossed and wait for an explanation of why that watermelon is there.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Why yes, I do still exist.

You may have noticed that I haven't posted in six months.  Or more likely you haven't noticed because it's not like I had a lot of followers before things tailed off.

At any rate, I'm back.  I hope.

I had a bad case of depression over the winter but I think I've finally kicked it.  I won't go into too much detail save that I was always tired and there never seemed anything worth writing about.

Also when I started this blog my original intent was to try and write at least one post a day even though I knew that I was tempermentally unsuited to that goal and I quickly found myself running out of things to write about.  From now on while I will try and post more often, I am not going to hold myself to any sort of artificial goal.  If I have something on my mind I want to post about, great.  If not, that's fine too.

So what am I up to now that I've crawled out of my cave?  Well I am getting active in science fiction fandom again.  The mess that was the latest Hugo nominations list was part of it.  (A fuller rant on that subject will be forthcoming.)  I'm going to be at BayCon in San Mateo at the end of May if anyone wants to meet up.

I've been getting back into painting historical miniatures again.  This time World War One naval minis in the 1:2400 scale.  I'm starting off with the British and German ships that fought the Battle of Dogger Bank in 1915.

Here is the HMS Lion.  I'm not entirely happy with it as I think I painted the yellow teak deck too gold of a shade but for a first try in a very long time, it's not bad.  The nickel is there for a size comparison.

I'm doing a fair amount of board and role-playing gaming.  I'm sure this will provide plenty of subjects for posts going forward.

And with the US presidential campaign entering the general election phase you can expect a fair amount of politics from me.  You've been warned.

That's if for now.  Until I return, please enjoy the Anonymous Orange (tm) that I received in the mail earlier this week.