Category Archives: Various and Sundry

The Cicadas are Coming! The Cicadas are Coming!

I mentioned last month that Brood X, the prodigious cohort of cicadas that emerge every 17 years to mate and be quite loud about it, are coming this year — possibly near you!

For those of you who want more of the science behind it all, here’s Mike Raupp, the “Bug Guy” and avowed cicada fan to give you all the details you didn’t know you needed.

First Contact Day, T-Minus 42 Years

Still from Star Trek: First Contact, released 25 years ago

Since I did a post this past September about the “Star Trek Day” panels last September, I figured I’d post it here — and for those of you who can, perhaps you’d like to see some of them live.

I’m not sure if CBS/Paramount plan to make this a regular thing or if this was done, in part, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the film Star Trek: First Contact. The action begins at 12 noon Pacific.


Although one of the big news items was that Q will be in season two of Picard, I have to confess, I felt it’d be surprising if he wasn’t in the series eventually. Don’t get me wrong, I was pleased to hear it — and since Guinan should be in the season as well, perhaps we finally learn more about their mutual animus for one another.

Perhaps because it was First Contact Day, I found the panel about First Contact to be quite illuminating, including a great story of how Alice Krige auditioned for the part of the now iconic Borg Queen and how Jonathan “Two Takes” Frakes got that nickname.

I also found the panel that explored Nichelle Nichols’ impact on screen and behind-the-scenes to be illuminating. I knew about Dr. King’s role in encouraging Nichols to stay in the role of Uhura, but I didn’t know about her work with NASA — and of course there’s some additional personal connections these actors mention.

Finally, while not the only other panel (you can check out the full list they’ve posted on YouTube), I enjoyed the one about Star Trek and comedy.

What will the House of Mouse do when the Mouse isn’t entirely in the House?

I will occasionally post about topics involving intellectual property and the public domain, most notably with new works coming into the public domain in the United States every January 1st.

That means, in relatively short order, Mickey Mouse will come into the public domain, since his first appearance was in 1928’s “Steamboat Willie.”

Still from “Steamboat Willie”

But whenever Disney and lawyers are involved, you know that no simple answer will suffice.

Enter Quincy Stanford over at the Disney Food Blog, who does a deep dive into the various ramifications “Steamboat Willie” coming into the public domain may have for Disney the company.

And lest you wonder how much a site called the Disney Food Blog has to say about Disney’s intellectual property rights, I would submit it’s as much or potentially more than a site named for some guy with a Scandinavian name.

Your Next Favorite SFF Sitcom?

With the release of WandaVision, we got to see a new genre mashup from the Marvel Cinematic Universe: superheros and sitcoms.

Certainly this isn’t the first time there’s been a mashup of superheroes and outright silliness (The Tick is the one that pops in my mind most concretely as it has had several TV incarnations). And the sitcom backdrops in WandaVision actually lay a foundation for some distinct non-comic plotlines (that’s the limit to how much I’ll spoil things).

However, it did get me thinking about other science fiction and fantasy treatments of sitcoms — and Leah Schnelbach over at Tor.com takes that same thinking and has a bunch of suggestions. I’m partial to Steam and SpaceNewsSpaceRadio myself, but what do you think?

(Personally, I’d also love to see an Ambush Bug animated series).

“Every [film] has to come to an end, sometime.”

I think L. Frank Baum (the source of the amended quotation above) would understand. Like books, songs, and many other an enjoyable thing: all things come to an end.

Thanks to one of my siblings, I have a glorious poster of assorted iconic film endings hanging in my house.

The sharp-eyed among you will note the cunningly-placed “author watermark.”

Who doesn’t love a really solid ending to a film? Whether it’s funny, poignant, thought-provoking, or applause-inducing, a satisfying ending is what so often makes a good movie great.

So I had to give Vulture’s recent roundup of “The 101 Greatest Endings in Movies History.”

Do I agree with them all? No more than many of you probably agree with my 50 Favorite Films. But just as I take that exercise seriously (well, as seriously as one should), the team over at Vulture has clearly put a lot of thought into the piece — and their love of film from all over the globe and from all decades is on display.

It should go without saying that this list is chock full of spoilers. At least 101 of them and possibly more depending on your familiarity of the films on this list. And here’s the thing: there will be films on this list that you have not seen. I have seen literally over 10,000 films in my lifetime and there are films on this list that I have never checked out. Odds are you’re in the same boat.

If that’s the case, heed the words of Roy Scheider: “We’re gonna need a bigger boat.” Go forth and enjoy some films with great endings.

Prepare for Brood X!

Denizens of the Washington metropolitan region share some experiences, like watching Hollywood films where they never get the geography right, there’s some problem on the Beltway, and also… Brood X.

And yeah, based on the map above, we’re not alone in dealing with the sudden and noisy appearance of billions of formidably-sized bugs all ready to fly right into your face.

Seriously, it’s clear from talking with many of my fellow Americans, they have not experienced this little Biblical reenactment and have a hard time imagining it. This will be my third installment.

Keith Matheny and Georgea Kovanis of the Detroit Free Press have a good rundown of the whys and wherefores of this torrent of red-eyed insect exuberance (that’s also the article where the map comes from).

But in the meantime, bear in mind that these Mirror Universe grape leaves do not back down from the appearance of a flyswatter like a fruit fly might. Heck, they don’t even get phased if you whack ’em with it. Not that you should. They’re just here to mate and go back into the soil, doing their part to contribute to the nutrients in the ecosystem.

But if you plan to record some audio, you probably want to do it before May.

International Legal Frameworks… IN SPAAACE!

Star Trek has influenced a lot of scientists and futurists, but recently, NASA namechecked the veteran sci-fi franchise when they talked about the Artemis Accords, a series of principles that they hope all spacefaring nations agree to, as covered by Ryan Britt for Inverse.

Good stuff.

(By the way, I was rather gratified to know that I already had the tag ‘Space Law‘ and also that there’s a novel called Space Lawyer, which I shall have to track down on principle).

Friday Movie Night: Cult Edition

What with my biennial Favorite Films sort, I have a soft spot for many an internet film list, especially when it’s clearly crafted with passion (as opposed to, say, the need to fill electronic print space on deadline).

So I was totally down with this list from the gang over at The Ringer detailing the top 50 cult films of all time.

Still from the wonderfully quirky UHF (Orion Pictures/Cinematographer: David Lewis)

Now, I would venture that the appear of cult films is often why they are not broadly popular: said films by definition have an unusual perspective. If they were foods, you’d take a bite and wonder what the heck you just tasted. And for some of these films, it’s a flavor profile and mouthfeel you just don’t like.

So don’t expect to love all the films in this list. I certainly don’t. But if this gives you something new to check out this weekend, well, that counts as a win.

Not Always Solemn with Possible Swearing: Inaugural Trivia

I don’t want ye olde blog to go without updates for too long, but I also gotta take care of some other stuff offline. I confess some of the delay in getting to those offline things has been checking out the many fun articles about all sorts of odd inaugural trivia. Enjoy! (there will be a test Thursday).

I’ve known some of the people involved with set-up and can confirm a bipartisan attention to detail. (Gerald Herbert/AP)

2020, but still Boldy Going

As will surprise no one who’s read my exhaustive ranking of all the Star Trek series, I’ve been watching all the new stuff. And it’s not just because those are going into the sort soon enough. A lot of it has been darn enjoyable in a 4th season Enterprise kind of way. They’re making connections and widening the Star Trek universe into quite the multiverse.

(via CBS)

Ryan Britt over on SyFy Wire details some of the things that we say last year.