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Archive for October, 2016


Expedition 49 official crew portrait with 47S crew (Anatoli Ivanishin, Kate Rubins, Takuya Onishi) and 48S crew (Shane Kimbrough, Andrei Borisenko, Sergei Ryzhikov). Photo Date: January 13, 2016. Location: Building 8, Room 183 - Photo Studio. Photographer: Robert Markowitz

American NASA astronaut Kate Rubins, Russian cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin of Roscosmos, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Takuya Onishi safely landed their Soyuz MS-01 spacecraft in Kazakhstan at about 1 p.m. CDT on Saturday.  The Expedition 48/49 trio completed hundreds of scientific research experiments throughout 115 days in space aboard the International Space Station, working with three other ISS crewmembers who remain on the station.  The world class space lab, bypassing international politics and cultural conflicts, continues to demonstrate how humans, when they set their minds to it, can rise above any barrier to work for the betterment of all people and life on Earth.

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The ISS has been continuously occupied for 15 years and 363 days since the arrival of Expedition 1 on November 2, 2000–the longest continuous human presence in low Earth orbit, surpassing space station Mir’s previous record of 9 years and 357 days.

expedition-49

Expedition 49/50’s Shane Kimbrough of NASA, and Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko of Roscosmos, will operate the station for three weeks until the arrival of three new crew members from Expedition 50/51, Peggy Whitson of NASA, French spationaut Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency, and Oleg Novitskiy of Roscosmos.  The new crew is scheduled to launch November 17, 2016, from Baikonur, Kazakhstan.

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jaylah-make-up

Tomorrow is the big day–Halloween 2016!  If you have one of those transient Halloween shops nearby or even if you don’t, here’s a quick idea for you or someone for a current sci-fi character when you haven’t done much planning.

First off, one of the more fun of all the classic Star Trek books about the television series and movies is Michael Westmore and Alan Sims’ Star Trek: Aliens & Artifacts, available here at Amazon.com.  It won’t help you this Halloween if you don’t already have a copy, but if you do you’ll find three amateur make-up suggestions at the back of the book.  Along with great information on Star Trek make-up designs from make-up supervisor Michael Westmore and a brief review of props from property master Alan Sims, you’ll find rudimentary instructions on making up yourself as Seven of Nine, Lt. Commander Data, a Klingon, a Ferengi, a Romulan, and a Vulcan.  Note that this isn’t detailed, production quality work, but something for kids or quick Halloween party projects.

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As almost a follow-up to Aliens & Artifacts, Paramount Studios has released a Halloween how-to make-up video to create the face of Sofia Boutella’s beautiful alien Jaylah, the guest star of this summer’s most recent Star Trek movie, Star Trek Beyond.  Make-up designer Joel Harlow and lead make-up artist Richie Alonzo walk you through the quick version of make-up applications using readily available make-up materials.

Check out the video here:

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comicfest-2016-banner

The fifth annual Halloween ComicFest arrives today in comic book stores across the U.S.  The public is invited to participate in the special Halloween events by going to their local comic shop to receive free comics and enter “The Greatest Halloween Costume Contest” on Saturday, October 29, 2016.  During ComicFest, adults and children alike can go to local participating comic shops to receive free Halloween and horror-theme comics and mini-comics published specifically for Halloween ComicFest.  This year, 32 titles are available—19 full-sized comics and 13 mini-comics—including select titles from Marvel Comics (Darth Vader: Doctor Aphra #1, Spidey #1, Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: You Choose the Story #1, and The Haunted Mansion #1), DC Comics (DC Superhero Girls #1 and Scooby Apocalypse/Hanna-Barbera Sampler), Dark Horse Comics (Harrow County #1), and IDW Publishing (My Little Pony: The Haunted Dungeon).

Comic book stores will also have Mini-Comic Polypacks of 25 comics available to purchase and pass out on Halloween to trick-or-treaters as an alternative to Halloween candy for trick-or-treaters.

archie-2016     haunted-2016

Designed to celebrate comic shops like Elite Comics in Overland Park, KS, as unique community businesses and reach new customers, Halloween ComicFest helps retailers and the entire comics industry springboard into the end of the year holiday selling season.  Check out www.halloweencomicfest.com for more information.  Here are the books most stores will have in stock:

  • Action Lab Presents (Action Lab Entertainment)
  • Adventures of the Aspen Universe (Aspen)
  • Afterlife With Archie Season Two (Archie Comics)
  • Black Eyed Kids #1 (Aftershock Comics)
  • Darth Vader Doctor Aphra #1 (Marvel Comics)
  • DC Super Hero Girls #1 (DC Comics)
  • Evil Dead 2 #1 (Of 3) Beyond Dead By Dawn #1 (Space Goat)

scoob-2016     haunted-2016

  • Harrow County #1 (Dark Horse Comics)
  • Haunted Mansion #1 (Marvel)
  • Junji Ito Tomie (Viz Media)
  • Kitaro Strange Fun For Everyone (Drawn and Quarterly)

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great-pumpkin

On Halloween night the Great Pumpkin rises out of his pumpkin patch and flies through the air with his bag of toys for all the children. 

Sally was Lucy.  Kathy was Sally.  Chris was Charlie.  Peter was Linus.  And Bill was Snoopy.

For fifty years Charles M. Schulz’s Linus Van Pelt has been trying to convince us all to believe in The Great Pumpkin in The Peanuts holiday special It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!  Following on the success of the Peanuts Christmas special, Schulz was tapped to pick a holiday and subject and went with Halloween over Thanksgiving and the Great Pumpkin was destined for the small screen in October 1966.

It’s the one time Charlie Brown wasn’t the only ostracized kid in the neighborhood (although he’s the one who gets rocks every year and we never learn why).  Remember when all the little kids dressed up in the same costumes?  Here the costumes of choice were ghosts and witches.  And a World War I flying ace–Snoopy took his first flight on the screen in his Sopwith Camel in The Great Pumpkin.  

Chris Shea voiced Linus, Kathy Steinberg voiced Sally, Peter Robbins was Charlie Brown, and Lucy was voiced by Sally Dryer.  And Bill Melendez was the voice of Snoopy.

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Who knew Sally was such a little lawyer?  You don’t remember that?  Watch it again and see.  And who saves the day?  Big sister Lucy.

If you missed the annual television viewing of It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!, don’t fret, you can watch the entire show here:

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murray

Tomorrow night Public Television stations will broadcast Sunday’s Kennedy Center ceremony honoring Bill Murray for his unique blend of comedy and social commentary.  The Mark Twain Prize, first given to Richard Pryor in 1998, is the nation’s top honor for comedians.  Everything’s coming up roses for Murray this week as his favorite team the Chicago Cubs gained their first win of this year’s World Series, and Murray was a trending topic for a photo he took in Scotland in 2012 wailing with a toddler–a photo mistaken for Tom Hanks by many.

The 2016 awards event features Steve Martin, Sigourney Weaver, and David Letterman, among several other celebrities mildly roasting the actor/comedian/golfer/celebrity and saluting his work.  In the show Murray gives his own salute to one of his five brothers, the well-known character actor Brian Doyle-Murray.  Two other brothers, Joel and John, are also actors.

So what’s Murray’s best work?  Is it his classic comedy skits or Weekend Update work on Saturday Night Live?  Or his assistant groundskeeper from Caddyshack?  What about his Dr. Peter Venkman from Ghostbusters?  You can’t forget his Army soldier John Winger in Stripes.  Or how about his weatherman in Groundhog Day?

caddyshack

Murray is known for continuing to surprise us.  Like when he earned an Academy Award nomination for his drama Lost in Translation, when he played Dustin Hoffman’s friend in the Oscar winning Tootsie, and when he gave us his own take on Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol in Scrooged, portraying FDR in Hyde Park on Hudson, and a war hero in Monuments Men.

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chris-pratt-moneyball

It’s that time of year again.  The 2016 World Series is now in full swing with the first game a sweep by the Cleveland Indians.  How will the Chicago Cubs fare in Game 2 tonight?  If you’re not in the baseball frame of mind yet, we have five of the all-time best baseball movies you can stream right now for free or for less than four dollars on Amazon Prime’s streaming service.  Most of these can also be rented on Netflix.  And let’s face it–everyone should own our fifth movie on the list.

Have you seen them already?  Then you know these great films can be watched over and over again.

Let’s start with a classic:  Gary Cooper as Lou Gehrig in Pride of the Yankees from 1942.  The movie recounts the then-recent personal triumph and tragedy of what baseball as an American pastime has created over and over for more than a century: baseball players as American icons.  Pride of the Yankees shows the personal side of being a famous baseball player, and features real-life legends Babe Ruth, Bob Meusel, Mark Koenig, and Bill Dickey, all playing themselves on-screen.  Academy Award winners Teresa Wright and Walter Brennan co-star.  If you want to see classic baseball from a contemporary view, this is your movie.  Although the story is certainly bittersweet and a tear-jerker, it reflects baseball as more than just a game.

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The most recent movie on our list is Moneyball, from 2011, a modern classic we’ve already watched over and over.  Moneyball reveals the game as a modern business.  The conflict between playing the game as classically envisioned and the game as seen from an analytical angle is wrestled with from the real life mostly true story of the Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane as he turned the team around in its 2002 season.
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midnight-special-cast

Close Encounters of the Third Kind.  E.T., The Extra-Terrestrial.  The Green Mile. Escape to Witch Mountain.  Watcher in the Woods.  Maggie.  Super 8.  The Omen.  D.A.R.Y.L.  A Perfect World.  Starman.  Michael.  Tomorrowland.  The Day the Earth Stood Still.  The Blues Brothers.  The Twilight Zone Movie.  What could these all possibly have in common?  Somehow they are all conjured up together into this year’s release, Midnight Special.

Let’s get the only problem with Midnight Special out of the way first.  It had an inexplicable limited release this past March.  And its theatrical and television trailer was creepy cool, but too cryptic to draw in the masses.  If you don’t tell people what your movie is about, they won’t always take the time to learn more and decide to see it.  And what a loss!  Midnight Special is not only one of the year’s best films, it’s one of the best films of the decade.

You will think about The Twilight Zone episode “It’s a Good Life,” but it’s nothing like it.  You will think about Haven and Grimm, but it’s not like that either.  And you may even accuse Stranger Things of being a knockoff of this film.  But it’s very, very different.

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A father and his old friend kidnap his son from a religious cult, with the government in hot pursuit for very different reasons, drawn in by the son’s mysterious abilities.  Is some messianic end looming ahead?  Why is the government justified in tracking the father down for treason?  Replace the enchantment and wonder you’d find in Spielberg’s Close Encounters and E.T. with a combination of mystery, curiosity, and heart-pounding dread.  Gripping, personal, riveting–Midnight Special will keep you guessing until the end.  What happened to this kid?  Why does he have these powers?  What ends will his father and his friend go to protect him from what seems like the entire world crashing down on them? 

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A Curse Dark as Gold cover Elizabeth C Bunce

The trees are turning red and orange and it couldn’t be setting up for a more perfect autumn, and Halloween is only a week away.  If you’re looking for a ghost story to get you into the mood of the season, check out borg.com writer Elizabeth C. Bunce’s novel A Curse Dark as Gold, available in hardcover, paperback, audio, and E-book editions from Amazon.com and other booksellers, first reviewed here back in 2011.

A Curse Dark as Gold is set in the Gold Valley in that far away land where fairy tales reside.  Charlotte Miller is a girl in her late teens whose father dies and leaves her the town of Shearings’s woolen mill, which serves as workplace for most of her community, along with the care of Charlotte’s younger sister Rosie.  Unwanted responsibilities fall into the lap of this young woman from page one.  From a framework standpoint A Curse Dark as Gold is a spin on Rumpelstiltskin-type helper tales of the past, but this story takes on its own life.  Shearing is at once lovely and pastoral, yet dark and creepy doings begin to permeate the corners of the town.  A mysterious uncle arrives and begins to interject himself into the girls’ lives, pecking away at their sanity.  As if sick itself, the mill begins to respond to the death of Charlotte’s father, with boards crashing down, textile machines failing, and the fabric of Shearing seeming to unravel.

A Curse Dark as Gold audio Elizabeth C Bunce told by Charlotte Parry

The story is set at the dawn of an Industrial Revolution.  Water wheels are about to be replaced with steam power and the smoke-filled cities that come along with that new technology.  Charlotte quickly finds she has inherited her father’s acumen as a savvy businessperson, yet real life pressures including competition from big city wool firms, and unfair attempts to squeeze Shearing’s mill out of the marketplace, cause the mill to lose its workers.  The economic issues are only the beginning of Charlotte’s problems.  A strange neighbor lady is a follower of old world ways, superstitions and magic, and Rosie attempts to fix things by dabbling in this world.  Charlotte, a non-believer, weighs her options and soon a helper appears with an impractical but decisive solution.  Charlotte makes a bargain with this man and Shearing is safe for a time, but as more problems hit the town and the stakes are raised, Charlotte is left to make further bargains, and one, last unthinkable deal that could prove to be her undoing.  Charlotte is steadfast and stubborn, relying only upon her own intuition she turns away from everyone near her, including sister Rosie and her new husband.

The rustle of the wind, the creaks of the mill building, the thump of the belts on the mill wheel, all come alive.  Thoroughly creepy images of the mysterious stranger manipulating Charlotte’s uncle will stick with you long after you’re done reading.  And at the heart of the novel is a dark ghost story, that will force you to decide whether Charlotte’s mill really is cursed.  Elizabeth’s exquisite prose, and the determined and believable voice of narrator Charlotte, will leave you believing you didn’t pull a work from 2008 off the bookshelf, but a classic work written in the 1800s. You will be hard-pressed to find another book that will better get you in the mood for the coming holiday and its hauntings.  The audio book as read by British actress Charlotte Parry, known for her roles in Tony Award winning Broadway plays, is a great way to immerse yourself in this ghost story.

A Curse Dark as Gold has won several national awards, including being listed on the Smithsonian Institution list of notable books, Oprah Winfrey’s recommendation list for YA, the American Library Association recommended reading lists including best fiction, listed on the Amelia Bloomer Booklist (honoring strong female roles), and winner of the first William Morris Award (honoring first time authors).  It was also included along with The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and In Cold Blood on the Kansas sesquicentennial 150 Books/150 Years list.

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

athomewithdeltoro-cover

One of the most fascinating tidbits about fantasy/horror director Guillermo del Toro in the new hardcover book Guillermo del Toro: At Home With Monsters is that del Toro grew up in a collecting home.  His father had won the lottery.  The details aren’t discussed, but after reading this book, which focuses on one of del Toro’s homes where he displays a collection of fantasy and horror memorabilia, any read would ask where would someone get the money to buy all these things.  The closest comparison would be Michael Jackson’s purchase of oddities like Joseph Merrick’s bones.  Jackson had billions, but del Toro, whose career has only taken off since the 1990s, has amassed a collection that doesn’t reflect that extreme level of purchasing yet.  But he’s on his way.

Guillermo del Toro is known for his visions of fantasy horror as seen in his Hellboy, Pan’s Labyrinth, Mimic, Crimson Peak, and even the beginnings of The Hobbit trilogy. Many are unaware of his creepy home full of fantasy and horror relics that he calls Bleak House.  Think of the beginning of an episode of The Ray Bradbury Theater or Friday the 13th TV series or that shop where an old man found a Mogwai for his son in Gremlins and you’ll have an idea of the oddities to be found.

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No, that’s not the actual Ray Harryhausen with del Toro (we hope), but you have to wonder if Vincent Price had something to do with getting this frozen fellow into del Toro’s collection.

Some of the purchases on display are unique, some rare, but most appear to be mass market items, books, toys, statues, action figures.  They cram the rooms of his house much like many people you know who have an obsession with collecting.  Sure, del Toro’s house may be creepier than most–custom mannequins of horror greats like H.P. Lovecraft, Ray Harryhausen and Edgar Allen Poe appear to be living in this lair–but Bleak House does not look like anyone actually lives there.  A retreat for storing research materials seems more likely.  Could anyone, even a fan of all these monsters, wake up everyday to a gigantic head of Boris Karloff as Frankenstein’s monster?

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twin-peaks-behind-the-scenes-image-2017

Showtime released two teasers this month for next year’s Twin Peaks sequel, hoped for by fans of the show for 25 years.  The first shows several actors, including series star Kyle MacLachlan looking like he hasn’t changed a bit, including a behind the scenes image sporting his FBI suit with director David Lynch.  The second teaser shows composer Angelo Badalamenti back again working on the new score for the series.

Coming back for the series is Kyle MacLachlan (FBI Agent Dale Cooper), Sheryl Lee (Laura Palmer/Maddie Ferguson), Sherilyn Fenn (Audrey Horne), Mädchen Amick (Shelley Johnson), David Duchovny (Dennis/Denise Bryson), Michael Horse (Deputy Hawk Hill), Dana Ashbrook (Bobby Briggs), Miguel Ferrer (Albert Rosenfield), Ray Wise (Leland Palmer), Grace Zabriskie (Sarah Palmer), Alicia Witt (Gersten Hayward), Kimmy Robertson (Lucy Moran), Peggy Lipton (Norma Jennings), Catherine Coulson (The Log Lady), Everett McGill (Ed Hurley), Phoebe Augustine (Ronette Pulaski), Harry Goaz (Deputy Andy Brennan), Julee Cruise (Roadhouse Singer and soundtrack singer), Warren Frost (Doctor Hayward), Jan D’Arcy (Sylvia Horne), and Gary Hershberger (Mike Nelson).

Also returning is Andrea Hayes (Heidi), David Patrick Kelley (Jerry Horne), Bellina Logan (Louie), Walter Olkewicz (Jacques Renault), Richard Beymer (Ben Horne), Carel Struyken (the giant), Wendy Robie (Nadine Hurley), Al Strobel (one-armed man), Charlotte Stewart (Betty Briggs), Marv Rosand (diner cook), Jerry Marshall (James Hurley), Russ Tamblyn (Dr. Jacoby), Carlton Russell (jumping man), Harry Dean Stanton (Carl), and David Lynch (Gordon Cole).

Cooper and Audrey Twin Peaks

So no Michael Ontkean, Lara Flynn Boyle, Joan Chen, Piper Laurie, Heather Graham, Billy Zane, Brenda Strong, Michael J. Anderson, or David Warner. Key players Jack Nance and Don S. Davis have passed away since the original series aired as has most recently Catherine Coulson, who was able to film some scenes for the series.

Check out the new Showtime teasers plus everything you want to know from past borg.com updates on the series, after the break:

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