A brief service interruption...

I'm going to be going back into the hospital on the 4th for a bit of fine tuning, ideally for a week at most. Since the hospital is sort of pissy about having a laptop in the room because it could be stolen and since I don't have an easily hideable iPad (Santa missed a bet here), I'll be limited to the Nexus One I was given when I was laid off. This means I'll be able to follow posts, but can't really reply beyond a line or so using the onscreen keyboard, so y'all try to be boring for a week or so after the 4th, O.K.? Thanks!

A SF/Fantasy clothing question.

Are there any uniforms in SF/Fantasy as dorky as those in Space Battleship Yamato/Starblazers? (I'm provisionally excluding the Dirty Pair uniforms for now because I've seen an explanation somewhere (one of the books?) that the monatomic transparent bullet/zapgun proof shielding that covers the whole rig didn't work over a lot of cloth.) Because I've seen several trailers for the live action movie that's coming out, and the large arrows that were only odd in the animated series now scream "Shoot me here!" when a real person is wearing them. (And the Hello Kitty necklace versions with blue or red arrows on Kitty's little uniform just creep me out something fierce.) I'll concede that Kirby did something stranger at some point or other, but I sure can't find it...
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    amused amused

A brief follow-up.

Sorry about the brevity of this, but I'm sick with a hellish head cold. Anyway, I watched the other two Derren Brown specials. One, "The System," is an interesting lesson in probability: Brown is sending tips to a woman as part of a documentary that shows he has an unbeatable system to pick racehorses to win. No problems with that one.

The fourth special, "The Heist," is a bit of a problem. Brown invites a group of people to a motivational seminar which is actually a cover for inducing four members to perform armed robbery. The process is interesting, but as part of the screening system he recreates the Millgram experiment on camera. All I can say is that the shrink he works with had better be damned good if they're going to help someone that's been through that one: there are reasons that researchers don't replicate that experiment. This could be a problem if you're watching it cold.
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    lethargic lethargic

And now for something brilliantly done.

There is a well known European mentalist who has done several series for television in the U.K. (I'm told that SyFy/SciFi channel carried one) named Derren Brown. I was tempted to get the series but as far as I know Amazon does not support it for the Mac. Then I realized that you could get some of his material on DVD from the UK at reasonable rates if you had access to a region-free player, so I got the collection called "Derren Brown The Specials" which is four specials that were done a few years ago. Since I've been interested in mental magic since my SAM days I ordered it, and have watched the first two specials.

They're wonderful.

The first one, "Russian Roulette," is a brilliant example of how to stretch a short trick for the length of an entire show. The closest comparison I can make is to Penn & Teller's version of the bullet catch, but as impressive as theirs is we're only talking about 20-30 minutes tops. Brown stretches a Russian Roulette presentation the length of the episode in a brilliant example of selling the sizzle, not the steak and I'd recommend it to anyone--just remember that he's still alive and well, thank you.

The second, "Seance," is based on traditional 19th century seances with a little bit of updating. It's explained that the subjects he's been working with were "screened for susceptibility" and I'd bet on it: this is a magician that with the assistance of a television network once "pre-loaded" a trip to his office in such a way that the designers chosen for a fictional ad campaign matched a sealed prediction of the campaign he'd prepared beforehand. There's at least that level of work going on behind the scenes before the filming starts based on what we see, and some well designed forces (where you think you have a choice but the magician makes certain you do not) and subject priming on camera that is beautifully done. I've seen some of this stuff done in the real world to a crowd and the difference in art between someone milking a group of attendees at a social function and what's done on the show is like the difference between night and day.

I'll make sure to mention how "The Heist" and "The System" come off, but I'm extremely happy with my purchase and I recommend the set to anyone.
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    ecstatic ecstatic

A question for the Dr. Who fans out there.

Up front, I have to admit I never saw more than ten minutes of the earlier incarnations of the show: every time I turned the local PBS affiliate on to watch one it rapidly ended up in the British Gravel Pit version of Bronson's Canyon. So, I have to ask questions based on the current version and on the Fox TV movie version--please bear with me.

My main question involves The Master, who clearly has never been to the universe of The Incredibles (No Monologging!). I gather he's A Big Evil Timelord who specializes in arcane plots to menace the cosmos in general and The Doctor and wherever and whoever he's with in particular. What I want to know is this: is it just the episodes I've seen or does he use plans rejected by Wile E. Coyote, Super Genius? Because what I've seen so far is so silly they would have been defeated by Mrs. Peel before the champaign started to get warm, let alone a Time Lord...
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    confused confused

Sometimes you just miss the bus. Or elephant. Or auction.

When the snack Screaming Yellow Zonkers came out in the late 60's-early 70's there were a lot of comments that what was on the boxes were better than what was inside. The high point of the original box, for me, was the add on the back at the bottom: "Win a Continent! Now Zonkers offers you the chance to win the continent of your choice. And all you have to do is correctly identify this mystery voice, 'Hello, what is my name?' The winner will be judged strictly on the basis of originality, and correctness of the answer. No entries will be accepted after August 21, 1947." That ad has always been to me the epitome of missing out on a contest because you didn't know about it.

I bring this up because I was doing a web search on another matter and hit a web page about a charity auction to save the house in Cleveland where Jerry Siegel first created Superman. Looking over the description of auction items I saw the following:

"Judd Winick

Title: A Personalized comic page featuring Winick’s fan-favorite creation, Barry Wean, and YOU!

Description: The high bidder will receive an original Barry Ween 1-page story starring Barry and the high bidder. Hate your boss? Hate your neighbor? Bid here and watch Barry unleash on whoever you want in the strip (limit one person unless the gag calls for two). A truly one-of-a-kind item."

It was like running water in the sink and getting that tickle that means you need to replace the wiring for the disposal RIGHT NOW! Barry Ween, Boy Genius? (Good spelling job, auction page.) The brilliant (350 I.Q), sarcastic, profane (think Hunter S. Thompson on a good day), hysterically funny (with the occasional serious note) comic that Judd Winick did and then left to sit in favor of developing television projects and writing at DC? A whole page of original art with me in it? SELL THE CAR AND GET IN A BID!

And then I looked at the auction date. Sept. 2 - Sept. 30, 2008.

""Win a Continent! Now Zonkers offers you..."

Listen, if Jim Bricker, who did the wonderful set-in-San-Francisco relationship comic Open Season ever did the same thing PLEASE don't tell me about it, O.K.? I still get grumpy I couldn't afford to go to California to see the stage play and finding out about a similar art offer would just about kill me.

And don't bring up the CBLDF Barry Ween shirt either. I've been told that if it graces my closet it will rapidly visit Goodwill. Mmph.
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    jealous jealous

Weekends are wonderful!

Last night someone smashed in the front driver's side and passenger's side windows of the car. They pulled a TrafficGauge unit off the windshield (breaking the mount but not the windshield), but left everything else in the car. Insurer will send a glass repair outfit out soon, but traveling in the car is out of the question for right now. I am seriously annoyed.
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    annoyed annoyed

Telephonic adventures

The old Nokia telephone was knocked into a sink yesterday, so I found the unused Palm Treo 650 and am trying it out. Since at some point I loaded a LJ client on it I'm giving it a whirl as well. So far the built-in keyboard is better suited to Twitter (don't have the BT keyboard with me), but I can't find a stable Twitter client for the 650. Such is life...