Monthly Archives: July 2008

"Scotty! I Need More Power!"

Good news, everyone!  Two physicists out of Baylor University have figured out a way to make a ship fly faster than the speed of light without breaking any known laws of physics.  You can read all about their proposed warp drive here.  Armchair theoretical physicist that I am, it all seems to make sense.

So, with the price of gas what it is, I say “Screw that noise, I’m building a warp core.”

Now all I need is a Scotsman and some anti-matter.

Man of Bronze Coming (Back) to Silver Screen?

I made a brief stop at Comic Con in San Diego on Thursday–there is no word in the English language to explain how totally insane that place is…there may be a word in Mayan, Bantu, or Swedish, but not in English–and decided to sit in on a panel celebrating the 75th anniversary of pulp icon Doc Savage.

For those of you who are not familiar with Dr. Clark Savage, Jr. and his faithful companions, he’s pretty much the first superhero. Well, technically The Shadow is the first by about two years, but Doc is a close second. Both the Shadow and the Man of Bronze (as Savage was known) heavily influenced comic book superheroes like Superman, Batman, and the Fantastic Four.

Anyways, the panel–moderated by Anthony Tollin (one of the men behind the Nostalia Ventures Doc Savage and Shadow reprints) and Michael Uslan (producer of Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, The Spirit, and Billy Batson and the Legend of Shazam)–was pretty cool. Tollin and Uslan talked about how the old pulp heroes influenced comic books, and how the pulps were effectively killed off by the growing popularity of the cheaper-to-produce comics. Tollin announced the upcoming release of Avenger reprints. Both Tollin and Uslan led the crowd in giving Savage creator/writer Lester Dent a posthumous ovation (something he never received in life because, like all pulp authors, Dent wrote the Doc Savage stories using a house name).

Then, Uslan “accidentally” let slip that a Doc Savage movie is in the works. According to Uslan, like Batman Begins, the new Savage flick will be closer to the source material than the campy 1975 movie Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze. The new Savage movie is little more than a glimmer in Uslan’s eye, but with all of these comic book movies coming out, it’ll be nice to see their pulp forefathers getting a little recognition (Sam Raimi is currently working on a new Shadow movie).

For a rabid pulp fan like me, this is pretty cool news.

Four on the Floor #15: TV's Best Theme Songs

The Situation: We’re doing TV theme songs. The catchier, the better. Simple.

The Criteria: These might be the most arbitrary criteria I’ve ever cooked up for a Four on the Floor list. I’m looking at “theme songs” , that means music and lyrics. Sure, that means that I’ll have to ignore instrumental gems like MacGuyver, Magnum PI, and Simon and Simon; I’ll also be ignoring themes that only include narration–sorry Babylon 5, A-Team, Twilight Zone, and Star Trek (well, Enterprise had a theme song…but, really?). I’m also going to stick with non-animated shows. I could probably pick about ten really kick-ass cartoon theme songs ( “Ten on the Table” anyone?). Finally, I’m disqualifying certain “classic” theme songs, like Gilligan’s Island and The Addams Family. Saying you like the theme to Gilligan’s Island is like saying you like Bugs Bunny…duh!

1. The Greatest American Hero

A theme song so hip, so edgy that Jerry Seinfeld–the Nineties poster child for hip and edgy–stole it.

2. Jack of All Trades

If you don’t love the theme song to this show starring Bruce Campbell as a Jeffersonian secret agent, then you hate Jeffersonian America…and the French win.

3. Firefly

Hey look! A Joss Whedon show. I wonder whose blog this is….

4. Psych

What? Don’t you judge me! This song is as catchy, up-beat and harmlessly infectious as the show it introduces. You knew I was going to say that, didn’t you?

All Whedon, All the Time

The good folks over at whedonesque.com have posted a transcript of an interview with The Master himself regarding his new series Dollhouse (although I suspect the entire thing was written by Joss).

Read it, it’s hy-larious.

Writers That Thrill (And, Possibly, Inspire)

You know how it is at the beginning of a relationship, when you’re all goony and moon-eyed, and everything you see, hear, smell, whatever reminds you of that other person? I think the same thing can be said for writers (and most artists, really) at the beginning of the creative process. I’ve been working on something for the last few days and, I’ll be honest, I’m completely smitten. I love the idea. I love the main characters. I can’t wait until I can spare a few hours and get my sorry ass to the library and do some hardcore research (until then, thank you Wikipedia!).

At times like this, I can’t help but think about some of my favorite authors. I have a lot, I’ll be honest. I love Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, and Jane Austen. I’ve repeatedly devoured the works of H.G. Wells and Jules Verne. Harry, Ron, and Hermione coexist quite nicely on my bookshelf next to Frodo, Sam, and Aragorn. And, I don’t think there’s a detective around who can hold a candle to Sherlock Holmes, Nero Wolfe, or Philip Marlowe. But you just don’t get the same giddy anticipatory nerd-gasms from these folks that you get when a contemporary author you love comes out with another book.

So, just because I can, I’m going to share some of my favorite contemporary authors with you. Maybe you’ll be inspired to pick one of their books up and enjoy them as much as I do. At the very least, you’ll kill a few minutes of your day reading this post.

1. Jim Butcher

I’ve mentioned Jim Butcher before. Several times. He’s just that good! Remember a while back, when I said there isn’t a detective around who could hold a candle to Holmes, Wolfe, and Marlowe? Well, that’s not entirely true. Butcher’s Harry Dresden can. Actually, forget the candle, Dresden could light them all on fire, if he wanted to. Harry’s a wizard and a private detective working in Chicago. He’s pretty hardboiled (in the “I get the stuffing beat out of me by the bad guys for about 250 pages” kind of way), but he’s also the king of the pop culture reference. I confess that I don’t really get the whole Urban Fantasy thing, but I get Dresden. Plus, I’ve met Jim Butcher and he’s a hell of a guy.

2. Steve Berry

Poor Steve. I think he got overshadowed by the colossus that was The Da Vinci Code. I get why. A lot of his books deal with the Catholic Church (and religion, in general). They usually involve decoding various riddles and puzzles handed down through history. But, Berry is a much better writer than Dan Brown (and I like Dan Brown, so I’m not being a dismissive jerk). Plus, it’s easier for me to believe that Berry’s Cotton Malone can run around and dodge bullets and fight crazed zealots because, unlike Brown’s Robert Langdon, Cotton used to work for the U.S. government. He also owns a used book store in Copenhagen and has a photographic memory. How cool is that?

3. Neil Gaiman

I’m going to take for granted that most, if not all, of you at least know who Neil Gaiman is, even if you’ve never read anything he’s written. For my money, Neverwhere is one of the best books ever written. And, if you ever want to see how to portray pagan deities in a modern setting, read American Gods or Anansi Boys. Then there’s Good Omens (which Gaiman co-wrote with Terry Pratchett)–think the Book of Revelations as written by Monty Python.

4. James Rollins

I’ve only read Rollins’s Sigma Force novels, but they’re pretty awesome.  The basic premise behind them is that there’s a top secret government agency staffed by “soldier scientists”–members of the military who were sent to earn advanced degrees in chemistry, biology, physics, what-have-you.  They mission is to protect America’s technological superiority.  Frequently that involves investigating things like ancient batteries or anti-matter.  Rollins stated that some of his favorite books growing up were Tarzan, Baum’s Oz books, and the works of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells…and it shows.  His Sigma Force books are the literary equivalent of a big summer blockbuster: pure, unadulterated fun.

5. Michael Crichton

In 1992, during Christmas break, I read a little book called Jurassic Park (maybe you’ve heard of it?  I think there was a movie or something based on it).  That summer, I read pretty much every novel Crichton wrote up until that point–except The Great Train Robbery and Terminal Man, but I’ll get around to them, too.  Lucky for me, the nation was caught up in Crichton Fever–which could almost be a plot from one of his books–so his older novels were everywhere (I got mine at the local Pathmark).  I credit Crichton for introducing me to the “techno-thriller”, a friendship that continues to this day, much like I credit Caleb Carr’s The Alienist for introducing me to the historical novel.  Sure, there have been a few bumps along the way (I’m looking at you, Disclosure), but I’ll still pick up every new novel that has Crichton’s name on it.

6. Stephen King

Thank the gods Uncle Stevie decided to continue publishing books (remember when he said that after he finished up Dark Tower, he’s stop publishing?), otherwise I couldn’t include him on this list.  He’s the Master.  No doubt about it.  He put the “pro” in prolific–I guess he could have put the “fic” in it, too…I’m not sure.  Sure, some of his books end a tad abruptly, but I for one always enjoy the journey.  Here is a man who loves what he does, and I think it shows.  Besides, IT is still the creepiest, most disturbing book I’ve ever read.

You…Yeah, You!

What are you doing reading this?  What you should be doing is watching Act 1 of Doctor Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog.  You should be checking out the first installment of Joss Whedon’s new web-musical.  Go on.  Watch Neil Patrick Harris kill it.  Watch Nathan Fillion radiate the kind of narcissistic swagger I haven’t seen since Steve Martin in Little Shop of Horrors.  Watch Felicia Day…well, do you really need a reason?

Go, show My Master the love he deserves.

No, I’m serious.  Go.  Now.  I’ll be here when you get back.

Bill Nye Vs. Ed Begley, Jr.

I have no idea why, but Yahoo has posted a bunch of photographs of neighbors Nye and Begley trying to out-do each other in the eco-friendly, green-ification of their homes.  You can see all of the photos on Yahoo, but here’s a peek:

I don’t know about you…but I do love that Science Guy!