Archive for May, 2009


Jeff Goldblum on “Law and Order: Criminal Intent”

May 31, 2009
Goldblum as New Jersey in "Buckaroo Banzai"

Goldblum as New Jersey in "Buckaroo Banzai"

I was really happy when I heard last fall that Jeff Goldblum would be starring on Law and Order: Criminal Intent, replacing Chris Noth. Unfortunately, even his patented quirky character can’t save this show. He’s supposed to be a cop with a world-reknowned psychiatrist father (estranged, of course) who uses his own psychologial savvy in solving crimes. Unfortunately, his character 90% of the time could be anybody. Vincent D’Onofrio’s character, a tormented creature through most of the show’s run, is still interesting as he mentally deteriorates and (mostly) pulls himself back together. Even giving him the same kind of writing would be better. He’s just written too bland, and his deadpan delivery can’t – and shouldn’t – hype it up.

I hope the writers hit a stride with this, and soon. I loved Goldblum’s last show, “Raines,” where he played a cop who saw the dead victims and talked to them. Was he mentally ill? Maybe, but it worked, because he was able to use it to solve the case. It was odd, and maybe it didn’t attract enough of an audience, but the writing on that show was far better suited to Goldblum’s personality and delivery.

I like Jeff Goldblum a lot and I would love to see this succeed. I just don’t know if it’s going to make it.


So pretty soon all our questions will be answered. What do we do then?

May 30, 2009

univac_550x438The folks at WolframAlpha (Wolfram gave us Mathematica) have developed a “computational knowledge engine.” It’s pretty spiffy, and apparently it will only get better and better. I asked it “What is the meaning of life?” and got back the appropriate Douglas Adams answer, “42.” I asked it “Why is there air?” and got back not only a scientific answer but a mention of the Bill Cosby comedy album, which was what I was hoping for. It’s not Google, it makes connections. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. You heard it here, though: this thing is gonna be huge.


“Chuck” is renewed…sort of…

May 17, 2009

chuck small According to this guy at Entertainment Weekly, Chuck will be renewed for 13 episodes, but with fewer writers and at least one of the cast being cut. Granted, there’s a pretty large supporting cast, but that’s what give the show depth. Without Chuck’s family and the Buy More crew, the show would degenerate into a one-joke format. Here’s hoping they can continue to negotiate and keep things going. I’ve found the show to be great fun!


That Air Force One gets around…

May 11, 2009
Fixed $ 300,000 version

Fixed $ 300,000 version

This photo is apparently the $ 357,000 one that was taken on the day when Air Force One was scaring New Yorkers. The original version needed work, so the folks at the American Digest spent two minutes with PhotoShop Elements and fixed it.

The New York Daily News wanted to get some better ones, so it asked folks to send in PhotoShopped AF1 images. They got a lot of great ones – over 700 in all. You can see them here.

I don’t want to steal their thunder, but this one is my favorite:

Those damn dirty apes!

Those damn dirty apes!


After seeing the new Star Trek movie two more times…

May 10, 2009

star_trek_imax_poster_2a Besides seeing the film a week before the premiere, we went back to see it Thursday night and then Saturday in the IMAX version.

I’ve decided I do like the design of the new Enterprise. I wasn’t sure about the curves on the nacelles, but it ‘s sort of grown on me. One nice thing about state-of-the-art CGI is that you can really make the thing fly – and it has the proportions to do so without looking unbalanced. The 1701-D in Next Generation always looked a little nose-heavy to me.

There are plot holes. Some are resolved if you read “Countdown,” the four-issue comic that is available in one book at Amazon. It’s a prequel to the film, which takes place in the future. Well, it’s Star Trek, so you know what I mean.


The big question is where Nero was for 25 years, from the attack on the USS Kelvin to the events at Vulcan. It’s OK, though, in the scheme of things in the film. After you come home it nags at you a bit.

I’ve read that some people considered the young-Kirk Corvette scene superfluous. I think it helps to show what he was like when he was a kid, with the devil-may-care attitude that needed to be channelled safely and correctly by joining Starfleet. Besides, there are a number of things in the movie that are in the category of “just damn cool,” and that’s one of them.

I find the industrial-building-looking engine room of the Enterprise an odd design choice, even after three viewings. And Bogus asked why the intelligence-gathering people were working in a brewery…the set design there was pretty odd. I think they were trying to save money. Maybe in the next film there will be a refit of the engine room spaces! The bridge, however, is in the “just damn cool” category. But what are those things that look like big joysticks? The HUD viewscreen on the window – a window! – was brilliant!


The loss of Vulcan changes the dynamic of the races in the Federation dramatically. Vulcans had a profound influence on the direction of the Federation, and if there are only 10,000 Vulcans left, their influence will be much reduced. They are now a displaced race, like many have been in our world throughout history. The most obvious are the Jews or the Palestinians, of course. Since there will be a sequel – it’s already been greenlighted – I hope they explore this dynamic.

We’ve not seen the Klingons yet, nor the Andorians. Or those guys with the pig noses, whatever they were called. I seems to recall in TOS that the Romulans weren’t seen in the flesh for some time. In this timeline that’s obviously not true. The interaction of races will be substantially different.

Anyway, I think it’s a good beginning. I hope Abrams, Kurztman and Orci plan a number of sequels!


Happy Mother’s Day!

May 10, 2009

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures


ISS Assembly Sequence in Flash; New “What If” Novel

May 5, 2009

iss_sunrise My friend, composer Stephen Melillo, sent me this link that shows a flash video of the assembly sequence of the International Space Station. While I would rather have a giant rotating wheel in space like every red-blooded American boy, it turns out that’s harder to do than we thought and a little bit more expensive…so we get the collection of beer cans in space instead. At least we have something.

And I recently finished reading a book called “Children of Apollo” that I found in the Kindle store on Amazon. You won’t find it under science fiction – I found it under alternate history instead. That’s what it is, but the two are pretty intertwined. The branching of reality occurs just after Apollo 11 with a major policy shift in the Nixon Administration: build up the space program to force the Russians to follow, thereby diverting funds they would have been using to build up their military. The book could have used a stronger editor to smooth out the rough spots, but it’s an interesting read. The author, Mark R. Whittington, has a blog you can read here. I recommend the book. I’ve read other alternate universe stories that were much less believable, and Whittington seems to have a bit of  right-leaning bent to him. (And the idea of filming part of Close Encounters on Skylab was brilliant!)


Ok, J.J. Abrams, I am now a True Believer…

May 1, 2009

enterprise-star-trek-2009 I got to see the advance screening of the new J.J. Abrams “Star Trek” last night in Chicago. Many thanks to Capone and the rest of the folks at Ain’t It Cool News, Paramount Pictures, and especially my son, Bogus, for making it possible. It was a very cool experience to see this movie with a theater completely packed with fans!

First, I’m 54 years old. I remember when the original Star Trek series premiered. It was about the same time as “Lost In Space” and I remember liking the pilot for that show better. However, LIS went downhill fast from there, while ST got better and better, through the second season. The third and final season had some well-done character development, but frankly the writing generally sucked.

I’m not going to review the Trek history here. I’m just mentioning because of the obvious comparisons that will be made with this new Kirk & Company. I’ll try to avoid spoilers as well.

First, if you have an iPhone you can get the graphic novel, “Countdown,” as four iPhone apps. It’s a prequel that sets up the new movie. It’s also available as a printed book.)

Basically, this is a standard Star Trek premise: everybody else in Starfleet is otherwise occupied, a major threat to Life As We Know It appears, and it’s up to Kirk and the Enterprise crew to save us. And, of course, they do. But in this case, Kirk is just out of the Academy, as is most of the rest of the crew, and he’s not even supposed to be on the ship!

Standouts in the cast: Chris Pine is fine a a rebellious, hell-raising Jim Kirk. Zachary Quinto brings his own personality to a younger Spock, and does well with it. He doesn’t have the voice Nimoy had when he was young, but he has a quirky personality that rings true.

Karl Urban as Dr. Leonard McCoy is a frakkin’ genius. He sounds just like De Kelly, voice, inflection, drawl, everything. And Kurtzman and Orci give him the classic lines, which he delivers magnificently. He’s often the comic relief when it’s needed most.

I also liked Anton Yelchin as a very young (age 17) Pavel Chekov. He has the bright-eyed innocence down pat, and his accent is just broad enough to be funny when it needs to be without going over the top.

Simon Peg as Scotty and Bruce Greenwood as Captain Pike also do great jobs in their roles. Eric Bana as Nero, the villian, is just OK with me…not Romulan enough, I think. Zoe Saldana as Uhura also does a nice job, but doesn’t have the sultry sexiness-just-under- control that Nichelle Nichols had when she was young. (Come to think of it, she still does. Dang!)

John Cho lacks George Takei’s commanding voice as Sulu, but then so does just about everybody…one of the best voices ever, and he’s still got it, too. Ben Cross as  Sarek had the toughest job. Mark Lenard might have been the best actor ever to play a memorable ST character, and he just got better in the movies. Cross is good enough, but lacks the gravitas that Dick Cheney and Mark Lenard possessed!

ILM’s effects work is notably excellent, the bridge is awesome – but no seat belts yet – and the Enterprise handles like a sports car on screen. I found the industrial, factory-like quality of the the engine room and such in the Enterprise and in the USS Kelvin jarring , though…no money for a cool engine room?

Excellent plot with fewer holes and suspensions of disbelief than most Trek episodes or movies; good to outstanding cast; gorgeous look to the whole production, and enough action and great lines for any two hours…you’ll say “I can’t wait for the sequel.” I did! Go see it…more than once!