Category Archives: Various and Sundry

It’s Time to Rank Muppets

Many of you, knowing my project management tendencies, know I make lists — and by this time, it’s quite clear I’m a fan of ranking, so how could I say no to a ranking of Muppets recently conducted by NPR?

Do I agree with all the rankings? Of course not. That doesn’t make the list any less wonderful.

Mind you, the article does reference the Chaos/Order Theory of Muppets first proposed by Dahlia Lithwick in a 2012 article for Slate. So you should read it first if you haven’t beforehand.

Not only is this theory potentially one of the best contributions by Gen X to modern philosophical thought, reading this article is integral to understanding how the Muppets were ranked. Because you, right now are either an Order Muppet or a Chaos Muppet. You will read the ranking from that point of view.

(I say this for the benefit of my fellow Order Muppets out there that would prefer to be Chaos Muppets and resent the heck out of the fact that we can only be zany in the narrowest of occasions).

So now I leave it to my Order Muppet patronus Kermit to say, “On with the show!”

AIM Calls for Aid!

As one filmmaking colleague I know has mentioned, “Money isn’t an issue, it’s the issue.”

And many creative endeavors rely on crowdfunding these days. Hence my previous post about the audio drama Apollyon (which I should mention I and the other cast & crew really do want to get funded to continue the story).

As many of you may know, the audio theater troupe I run, Jabberwocky Audio Theater, has its shows start on broadcast radio, WERA-LP 96.7 FM in Arlington, Virginia to be precise.

WERA is community radio, as in the program literally comes from the community. And it gives back, with news, coverage of local events, and some of the best value in media training around (which includes TV as well, since WERA is part of Arlington Independent Media).

But it also depends on the community for financial support in the best of times, so this past year has hit them hard, and Arlington Independent Media is looking to keep on going through their 39th year and beyond. They’ve been integral to our getting Jabberwocky Audio Theater off the ground again in 2018 and we’d love to see them continue.

Besides straight-up donating to them, they also have an auction going on as well as a special virtual concert fundraiser this weekend. Spread the word!

The Little Prince: Worth a Watch (or Rewatch)

This is one of my rare time-sensitive posts, so bottom-line up front: if you want to watch The Little Prince on Netflix — and my premise is you should — it’s leaving on May 4th, so do it now!

Those of you who have read last year’s installment of my Favorite Films list already know I hold this film in high esteem, but I believe the 2015 film version of The Little Prince is one of the best animated films released in the past 10 years. And there have been some good animated films in the past decade.

And here’s the thing, due to a distribution kerfuffle, people here in the United States almost missed an opportunity to see it until Netflix stepped up — and we’re all better for it.

Many people may not realized just how many different adaptations of The Little Prince that have been made. It’s a story that touches all of us (assuming we’re not too much of the wrong kind of grown-up). And while some people of my generation may remember Stanley Donen’s musical version from the 70s (aka the one with Bob Fosse as the funkiest yet disturbing snake you ever saw), the story of The Little Prince is not, to my mind, a feature film length tale. Much like Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, it’s better as a compact and moving half-hour special — though look how thoroughly Hollywood has ignored that assessment.

So what I love is that the 2015 film version tells the original story, but wraps it in another story of The Aviator passing the story along to a little girl. The girl herself is being raised by a single mother who, while loving, has clearly been buffeted by events offscreen in ways far too many of us can imagine. And so she wants her daughter to be serious and “essential” to better survive this crazy thing called life.

What I love, and why I would urge all of you to give it a rewatch on Netflix, is how many lovely little notes are adding into this as the story unfolds. There’s great truth and depth beyond the dialogue that hearkens to Terry Gilliam’s ‘Trilogy of Imagination’ (Time Bandits, Brazil, The Adventures of the Baron Munchhausen). In this way, I find the film to be great family viewing, because adults can get references and moments understandable only by experience, but it doesn’t make the tale too scary or dull for kids.

And for those of you who haven’t seen it yet, you will be treated to great voice work by Jeff Bridges, Rachel McAdams, Paul Rudd, Paul Giamatti, and more (the French version is similarly impressive from what I’m told for you French speakers). The score from Hans Zimmer and Richard Harvey is exhilarating, and the mixture of computer animation and stop-motion animation just feels right.

At the end, you’ll find you’ve seen a film that clearly tackles themes of imagination and the human spirit, but softly meditates on how we face life and face death. And that’s no small feat to introduce to a child, or remember as a grown-up.

So I hope some of you make the time to watch it before it leaves Netflix and, yes, I am aware of DVD/Blu-Ray technology and already have my copy in preparation for its departure. But for those of you on the fence, you’re more likely to click over to Netflix than order a disc. So go ahead. Treat yourself to a little movie magic.

Wait! That Wasn’t the Last Starfighter After All

I’m pretty sure every film-loving kid grows up watches a series of thoroughly-enjoyable-yet-not-mind-blowing movies from their era that may not make all the “classics” lists, but age okay and hold onto that “that was solidly entertaining” air.

Some of this premise comes from watching many a film that my dad enjoyed growing up. And of course he treated us to the unequivocal classics of cinema both foreign and domestic, but he also made time to expose us to some other lesser known ones that, when he was our age, thought was a darn fine film.

Last month, I got to rewatch one of those films of my generation. I’m sure I’m not the only one who enjoyed The Last Starfighter when we first saw it in theaters, even if it wasn’t going to edge out the Star Wars trilogy or Star Trek II in our sci-fi ardor (note to younger folks: yes, there was only one Star Wars trilogy at the time).

Rewatching it reminded me both of the fun performances by veteran actors Robert Preston and Dan O’Herlihy, Lance Guest diving into two roles as our hero and Beta, and –waitaminute, blink and you’ll miss Gul Dukat! Plus, there’s an overall fun sense of adventure with the film… and they clearly wanted a sequel.

Do we get to see multiple Gunstars in action this time?

So imagine my surprise that, not a few days after I watched it, there’s word that they’re working on doing a sequel. Not a reboot, but a follow-up.

While I’m sad we won’t have Centauri (at least his original human face), I’m up for it So go ahead Hollywood Recyclotron: give us some video game infused nostalgia.

Send in the Drones: Mars Edition

I’m bumping the post I planned for today because yesterday, we had some cool goings-on with space exploration, a topic some readers will know I follow (not the least because I enjoy science fiction and write science fiction — and who doesn’t like science fiction rooted in at least some science fact?).

Fly my pretty! Fly!

NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter has made the first powered flight on another planet, more than 117 years after the Wright brothers’ historic flight on this planet.

NASA itself gave a lowdown about this flight last month, which included a cool animation.

There has been much excitement on the Interwebs, as you might expect, from NASA fans to Science Geeks, and –perhaps one of my favorites– Arnold Schwarzenegger.

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.