May 30, 2008

Disney Admits Mistake in Prince Caspian Release

Really? You think?

Disney is admitting that maybe releasing Prince Caspian the week after Iron Man and the week before Indiana Jones might not have been a good idea.

I think Iron Man surprised everyone, I guess. Indy, with name recognition and the hype machine, was going to do as well as it did, though. And releasing Caspian less than a week before Indy was NOT a good idea.

~ Ben

May 28, 2008

TimeFlyz . . . CHEAP! And also SPANISH EDITIONS!!!

For a limited time on you can get TimeFlyz at a discount:

TimeFlyz 5: Power Play for $5.49!!! (To be released this summer)

Also available, TimeFlyz in Spanish! Before the first books were even finished, I had been told that TimeFlyz was going to be translated into Spanish. And here it is . . .


Coming August 1 . . . available from Amazon:

Book 1: Peligro en la piramide

Book 2: El caso tortuga

Expect more on the TimeFlyz front in the near future. There's some exciting things happening . . .

~ Ben

May 24, 2008

Indiana Jones and the Capitalist Pig Propaganda Machine

This . . .

Or this . . .

You decide . . .

Seems the Communists are none-too-happy about their portrayal in the latest Indiana Jones movie.

Best quote of the story: "It's rubbish ... In 1957 the communists did not run with crystal skulls throughout the U.S. Why should we agree to that sort of lie and let the West trick our youth?"

Oh. They didn't? Darn it all, I was tricked!

My question: does the Russian Communist party REALLY think their youth are THAT gullible?

And the Russian Communist party is calling Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Lost Skull propaganda.

Uh, hello, pot? The kettle called. He's upset that you're calling him black.


~ Ben

* The Communist Propaganda poster says, "It's hard to feed so many mouths."

May 22, 2008

Nano Film Review #12 -- Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Lost Skull



So I went to the midnight show. For Narnia, I felt old. I did not go to the MIDNIGHT show, I went to the NOON show. Weak!

This time I powered through. I'd never seen Indy on the big screen. This was my chance.

My thoughts on the film? It was good. It was a good Indiana Jones movie. Lots of action. Funny one liners. A few references to George Lucas movies (American Graffiti and Star Wars both come to mind -- watch for a classic Harrison Ford line). Absurd getaways. Classic cliffhanger serial style. Fun. It was by the numbers. If I were to rate all the Indiana Jones movies (like a good geek does), this would come third.

Shia Lebeouf wasn't bad. His character actually had some genuine emotional moments, and while he wasn't a buffoon he was impulsive and caused problems. That worked for me. It was fun to see Karen Allen return as Indy's old flame from the first movie, and it seemed like she had more to do in this one. Marcus Brody gets in a good shot at stopping the bad guys without even really being in the film. And Harrison Ford, well, I've never not liked him in a movie.

But overall, the movie felt flat. And I can't place my finger on why. I don't think it was the climax (for those haters of the climax, remember that a 500 year old knight showed up at the end of the third movie). It might have been the exposition that was horribly spelled out at the end (really, that was the best you could do to explain things to the audience that they'd mostly figured out already?). It just felt like they were going through the motions.

So . . . overall, a fun movie. But little more than that.

Ah, but . . . the denouement got me worried for a moment. It was a nice moment, and then something happened that you just about cringe for, but in true Indiana Jones fashion, at the last second Indy swoops in and saves the day. Or moment. Or whatever.

~ Ben

SPOILER (although if you know anything about the movie, you already know about this):

Indiana Jones and Han Solo are now part of the same universe. My theory about the movie linking the two was correct.

Kingdom of the lost Skull features aliens who look like the aliens in Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind was followed by a "sort of" sequel in E.T. (To me, E.T. was the sequel to Close Encounters, if not literally than "spiritually".)

E.T.-like creatures were in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.

And Han Solo is in the Star Wars universe.

A stretch? Heck yeah! But a little fun, if lame.

May 16, 2008

Nano Film Review #11 -- Prince Caspian

I'm just going to cut to the chase:

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian was amazing.

It was more intense than the first film, and younger children may be disturbed by that. Violence has series consequences in this movie. So do mistakes. And our four heroes make some serious mistakes.

But the movie itself is beautiful. And the themes and messages in the movie, well, they're there if you're looking for them.

I was a little worried about this movie, though. The first one was, to me, really well done. All the things I like about the first movie were in this one, only better. (I am hoping for an extended edition, though.)

So, Speed Racer is going to be kicked to the curb by Narnia. Too bad, I liked Speed Racer. It'll be interesting to see how Iron Man holds up this weekend. People are predicting Narnia to knock it out of the top slot. Next weekend sees the new Indiana Jones movie. How will the Narnians fare against the man with the whip?

~ Ben

May 13, 2008

Are We Alone?

Interestingly, just yesterday (I think -- may have been this morning) I heard a kindly yet authoritative voice on the radio saying that, essentially, there can be no life on any planet other than earth because the Bible says God created life on earth and earth only.


Just cut off a bunch of science fiction at the knees, there, guys . . .

Yes, the Bible does not mention alien life from other planets. And that's supposed to mean it doesn't exist? I mean, the Bible also doesn't mention that Jesus smiled, so does that mean he never did? (Actually . . . some people have said this.)

I know, I know . . . they aren't just coming from the words on the page, they are also saying that earth is created to be a unique place in our universe -- the home of humanity and, therefore, the home of Christ: God in flesh.

And I do believe that God created earth to be unique. And it is a special place. 

But to say, definitively and authoritatively that he created this ginormous universe and did not create any other life at all in it is, well, a little like putting God in a box.

Ironically, today I found this article from the Associated Press, which states that the Vatican has said that it's okay to believe in aliens and that you can believe in God and aliens.

Now, I don't know what's true or not. I don't know how many aliens can dance on a pinhead.

But I do know that God has created an amazing universe. A beautiful universe. A universe with more secrets than we will ever know. A universe he wants us to learn about and explore and observe. A universe populated with fleshy beings and spiritual beings and fleshy spiritual beings (to put in a nutshell the classifications of the Classical thinkers).

And there just might be some little green men out there who are worshipping God in their own, strange way, discussing the possibility (or impossibility) of life on other planets.

~ Ben

Nano Film Review #9 and 10 -- Iron Man and Speed Racer

Summer's off to a great start. I saw Iron Man on tis opening day and caught Speed Racer last night. Here' my thoughts:

Iron Man -- Everything that was promised in the trailer was given and then some. Robert Downey, Jr.'s Tony Stark was a likable jerk, a flawed man who has everything he wants except a reason for being. His character changes over the course of the film, but never becomes perfect. It's a fast moving film that follows a natural course. It's got flare and attitude and spectacle and awesome performances all around. The effects were seamless and the CGI blended nicely with real life. There were only a few times that the effects were slightly off, and the only reason I noticed was because the rest of the time it was flawless. Awesome movie.

Speed Racer -- The Speed Racer movie is actually a trilogy. Take the time to analyze it -- you'll see three separate storylines, three separate calls to action, three separate rising actions, three separate resolutions. Three separate and complete story arcs and character arcs for Speed. It's like they decided to do the trilogy in one movie . . . just in case they didn't get a chance to do the trilogy. This movie is the opposite of Iron Man -- the effects are very noticeable -- purposely so. But it's fun, full of energy, and has a message. Unlike the complicated and heavy Matrix movies (from the same directors), Speed Racer is a simple movie with a simple message . . . but it lays it out simply, in the simple plot, making it much more effective. Awesome movie. I loved it. And I've only seen one Speed Racer episode in my whole life . . . on Sunday, so I could at least have some background.

It's looking to be a great summer. Next up: Prince Caspian. Indiana Jones and Hulk and Clone Wars and Hellboy and . . . whoa.

~ Ben

May 9, 2008

Round Up

Some cool things from the web:

By my friend Josh. I would have LOVED to have that guy in my classroom on the days I was gone.

And awesome. My friend Time Baron is one of the most out there artists I know. Just wild!

Wow, does this movie look awesome. I liked the first one. But this one looks good, too.

Seriously? You mean, on the same website where you can watch the entire series of both the original Battlestar Galactica and Galactica: 1980 (except the first three episodes which were the only three episodes worth watching of that series . . . well, except for the episode about the final fate of Starbuck) online? And new episodes of the new series? And the episode of Buck Rogers that guest starred Gary Coleman? Yes. The same. Free and legal, you too can watch the wonder than is Hulu.

I don't have cable, but around noon the day after it airs, they post the new episode of the new Battlestar Galactica series. 

~ Ben

Comics Worth Reading -- Metal Men

DC's Metal Men mini-series just wrapped up. And I really enjoyed it.

For those not familiar with the Metal Men, here you can find the "secret origin" of the group

The biggest reasons I picked it up in the first place were: 1. It was a limited series, 2. I like the Metal Men characters from some really old back issues I accidentally accumulated, and 3. It looked interesting.

This "re-invention" of the team was written by Duncan Rouleau (who I've never heard of), based on ideas by Grant Morrison (who I have heard of . . . and am leery of), it's a wonderful eight issue mess of time travel paradoxes and existential pop quantum physics (or something -- but what do you expect when it's based on ideas by Grant Morrison). And it's good.

This is real science fiction, here. It takes ideas from science and weaves them into a speculative story that's both sprawling an epic (spanning eons) and personal (following Dr. Magnus' personal trials as he creates the Metal Men and then must deal with the consequences).

The story itself jumps from the current action to flashback and back again constantly, and can be a bit confusing. But I'll say it again: I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed the characters, I enjoyed the bad chemical puns, I enjoyed the over the top bad guy, I enjoyed the audacious and old school tag ending, I enjoyed the clever ways the metal men used the powers of their elements.

I enjoyed it.

Now, if I could just find issue one so I could re-read the series. 

~ Ben

May 6, 2008

Comics Worth Reading -- glamourpuss


Not much else to say.

Last night, before bed, I read Dave Sim's new comic book, glamourpuss.

Dave Sim, to the uninitiated, is the creator/writer/artist of a 300 issue/26 year long run on a comic book series called Cerebus, a critically acclaimed series of monumental proportions.

glamourpuss is his follow up.

And, after reading it, I can't figure out if glamourpuss is a monumental mess or a work of genius. It is either the most absurd or the most ingenious comic ever made.

Essentially, the comic is Dave Sim musing about what this comic will be. Graphically, he starts out drawing photo-realistic black and white drawings of fashion models and ruminating on how he could do a comic about those images, since in a fashion magazine he really only gets a small amount of reference images for the same person. He shifts gears into talking about Alex Raymond and Al Williamson and their art styles, and he begins copying panels from their non-science fiction work (mostly, panels that seem to look like fashion models) and uses the speech balloons to continue his ruminating. It shifts gears once more, this time to present a story about glamourpuss, using a half dozen fashion magazine photo references to draw teh character, and then shifts back into musing and ruminating and ruminating and musing about art, the glamourpuss series, and life.

Think of it like this: if David Lynch and the editors of seventeen magazine got in a room to create a comic book, this is what it would be.

And it works. The traces and wisps of the story of glamourpuss and her twin sister, SKANKO (yes, i thought twice before typing it), are wound together with Dave Sim's own ideas about art and copying the masters, which is bookended by satire about fashion magazines.

I do not recommend this for everyone. I'm not sure if I recommend it to myself. But I will be buying issue #2.

For those wondering how Dave Sim's "seeming" "misogyny" play out in a comic book about women, I didn't see it. I did see some very biting satire of the fashion industry, which is mostly women. And there was the whole through line of, when asked what he was going to do after Cerebus his answer always was, "cute teenage girls in my besst Al Williamson photo-realism style", which he is essentially doing here. This book has a LOT images of beautiful women. But honestly, this book seems to be more commentary about his art and his reference material.

~ Ben

May 2, 2008

Tips for Managing the Current Economy

I found this video, which had some pretty practical advice about making it today's world.

It's a little bit crazy, but you know? It just might work: