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Archive for March, 2018


Review by C.J. Bunce

One of the least discussed areas of television is local television–those productions going back to the beginning of television and still a fixture even of small markets around the United States.  Even big city networks and cable channels sprouted out of the success of local personalities or shows, as found in places like Chicago’s WGN, Kansas City 41, and Atlanta’s TBS.  For parts of four decades, if you lived or visited Iowa or the greater reach of its local NBC affiliate, you would have been introduced to The Floppy Show.  The Floppy Show was a creation of World War II veteran Duane Ellett, a young Drake University graduate who bridged a career as a voice over the air and then a familiar face in black and white in the late 1950s as television became widespread.   At the center of the show was Floppy, a wooden puppet with a red sweater with holding his trusty bone, who would come to be known by multiple generations of fans.  Floppy and Ellett are the subject of a new book by professor, broadcaster, and historian Jeff Stein, titled The Floppy Show.

Since Ellett’s death in the 1980s, Floppy, the famous dog in the box, was displayed at the State Historical Museum in Des Moines for 20 years, followed by a brief stint at the Iowa State Fairgrounds.  It’s a testament to Ellett and his creation that their beloved fans never wavered–these exhibits became hallowed ground, the kind of quiet spot to revisit one’s youth for a mix of reflection and nostalgia.  Of course The Floppy Show was only one of hundreds of similar shows that came and went across America over the decades, but author Stein showcases the history of an important area of television in this singular show.  Working with WHO-TV and the archives of Ellett’s family, Stein researched videotapes, film, marketing materials, and photographs and pulled out more than 180 images that reveal a changing America from 1957 to 1987.

At the same time Jim Henson and his Muppets were first introduced on a local Washington, DC show, Ellett was asked to create a puppet for the show Pet Corner, a local TV program hosted by the Animal Rescue League where viewers would meet local stray dogs and cats, and hopefully adopt them.  Floppy was created to help teach kids how to care for animals, in the vein of shows like the contemporary national programs Captain Kangaroo and Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood Floppy’s popularity took off and he soon had his own show at WHO-TV.  For most of its memorable years the show featured Floppy and Ellett introducing cartoon segments like Popeye and Looney Tunes, and the big deal for kids was the live studio segment where kids (including your humble editor minus 40 years or so) appeared on-air, beeping Floppy’s nose, telling jokes, and getting a sack with a bottle of Mountain Dew, a bag of Hyland potato chips, and a photo of Floppy.  My joke?  “What’s the biggest can in the world?”  Answer: “I forget.” Quietly prompted by the kindly moustached fellow in the leisure suit, I blurted out “Canada!”  Guest stars on the show visiting the local NBC affiliate included Adam West in full Batman garb.

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It’s been fifty years since talking apes first took over theater screens across the world.  Planet of the Apes first screened for U.S. audiences in the spring of 1968, ushering in the dawn of a new age in sci-fi and dystopian film and the rise in a level of movie make-up on a scale not seen before.  In the battle for your movie-going dollars, the conquest was won many times over by each additional entry in the franchise.  All told nine times the story would gain new light on the big screen–so far–it would return with four sequels, two television series, numerous graphic novel adaptations, a remake, and a modern film saga.  Fortunately for fans the war will never end.  Beneath it all was Pierre Boulle’s original novel published only five years before, La Planète des singes, still in print and available here.  All these years later you still cannot escape the iconic imagery, first and foremost that way-too-far-past the spoiler alert image of the upper half of a destroyed Statue of Liberty perched on the beach.  And we eagerly await each new way to title a sequel that the next creators taking over can come up with.

How many kids sat up at the end of the film asking how the Statue of Liberty got all the way to the ape planet?  Somehow even the young ones got it, and we’d get our early taste of movie tie-ins in the form of trading cards and model kits (my own prize for weathering a hernia surgery at 4 years of age was the great Dr. Zaius model from Addar Plastics Co.).  As part of the observance of 50 years of the original film, Entertainment Earth has just begun accepting pre-orders for its first-ever line of Kenner-style vintage action figures (click on each of the six images below to learn more and/or order).   General Ursus looks great!  (Toymaker Mego had its own line of larger figures back in 1974).  The 50th anniversary is also celebrated with a Monopoly tie-in, 1960s style (available here) and a great retrospective look from Abrams Books at the vintage trading card series (reviewed here).  No single box set assembles all the films, although you can get a recent release of the original five films here and the recent trilogy here, all at Amazon.

   

When we speak in terms of genre landmark franchises we usually begin with the 50-year mark of longevity with the big or small screen, including James Bond, Doctor Who, Superman, Batman, and most recently Star Trek.  Planet of the Apes took its first step into that rare class with the novel’s anniversary in 2013, but it is now forever cemented with legendary status.  Here is a vintage TV trailer that played on your wood-grained Zenith console 50 years ago this week (although most of the U.S. watched this in black and white, as the new-fangled color TV was too expensive for the average household):

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Tonight the intrepid Winchester brothers take a bold step into one of the few paranormal realms they haven’t yet visited:  the animated world of the original Scooby Gang and their Mystery Machine, as Supernatural enters its strangest crossover yet Will some villainous ogre be unmasked by film’s end and say that famous phrase, “I would have gotten away with it, too, if it hadn’t been for you meddling kids!”?  Who wouldn’t want to see Sam and Dean join forces to sleuth out a mystery with Shaggy, Scoob, Daphne, Velma, and Fred?

Zoinks!

Probably no other long-surviving television series has delivered for its fans as much as Supernatural, so witnessing the monster-hunting brothers add a wacky animated mystery to their singular version of the X-Files is not all that unusual.  And every time the show delivers one of those one-off, strange, meta episodes, stars Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles seem to be really good sports about it.  This time, long-time angel pal Castiel (Misha Collins) gets to come along for the ride.

Jinkies!

Hanna-Barbera’s Scooby Doo: Where Are You?, which originally aired for two seasons in 1969-1970 and featured the voice of American Top 40 host Casey Kasem as Shaggy, is almost at its 50th anniversary.  Over the years in its several incarnations the Scooby Gang featured its own crazy assemblage of guest stars, everyone from Sandy Duncan, The Addams Family, Cass Elliot of The Mamas and the Papas, to the Harlem Globetrotters, Josie and the Pussycats, to Speed Buggy, Phyllis Diller, Don Knotts, from The Three Stooges to Batman and Robin.  In a bit of a backward twist, Scooby and the gang get to be the guest stars tonight.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

For a niche area of publishing, you might be surprised how diverse the range of coverage you can find in art books delving behind the scenes of the latest movies.  In Titan Books latest artbook Tomb Raider: The Art and Making of the Film, two key elements stand out compared to prior examinations of film.  First, the cast and crew were deeply passionate about the film, reflected in their great contributions to the book.  Second, audiences have probably not seen production sets and stunt sequences that created realism in the adventure genre as much as Tomb Raider since the Raiders of the Lost Ark series, although it’s no secret that Raiders of the Lost Ark was the principal inspiration for many key sequences.  In the theater it’s easy to get into the story and not hone in on the background details, but thanks to this latest entry in the artbook realm fans of the film will see how it became a mix of James Bond-level stunt work built on a classic adventure style full of exciting special effects.

As with Guillermo del Toro’s significant contributions to The Shape of Water artbook, Tomb Raider director Roar Uthaug contributes insight into his vision in nearly every segment of the book.  He references his love for Raiders of the Lost Ark when creating his film for its mix of action, humor, archaeology, mystery, and great characters.  He also looked back to Ripley and Sarah Connor in Alien and Terminator 2 as he carved out the lead role for Alicia Vikander as Lara Croft.  Other executives and crew members explain significant aspects of the creation of the film: producer Graham King was perhaps the earliest advocate for a reboot film in the series, production designer Gary Freeman (Maleficent, Everest) knew exactly how he wanted to create the major environments for the adventure, cinematographer George Richmond (Kingsman 1 and 2) discusses challenges filming the visual effects sequences, costume designer Colleen Atwood (Arrow, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them) provides particular insight into her creation of the look of each character and how she sourced materials, and stunt coordinator Frank Henson (Never Let Me Go, Sherlock Holmes) had a greater responsibility in this stunt-heavy film than a stunt coordinator in most movies with its variety of action scenes.  Star Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina, The Man from U.N.C.L.E.) recounts the experience of playing the popular character as a sort of prequel or origin story for the character.  Vikander contributes heavily to the behind the scenes detail of the book, in addition to the other key players in the film, including co-stars Daniel Wu and Walton Goggins.

The film all centered around leaving the past films in the past and honing in on the 2013 video game reboot of Tomb Raider.  It is not likely any prior adaptation of a video game has come as close to its source as the new film, which included many storyboarded scenes from the 2013 game sequences.  From the London training facility where Lara trains in MMA fighting, to the planning and execution of the exciting fox-and-hound bicycle race on the back streets of London (one of the few scenes where Vikander didn’t do her own stunts was the crash), to the very Indy Jones-esque crypt under Croft Manor, to the chase scene at a full-scale mock-up of Hong Kong’s Aberdine Harbor, to building the cargo ship from the game–the weathered vessel Endurance–on a giant hydraulic gimble (set dresser Raffaella Giovannetti used real materials from similar ships to give it the realistic appearance), to Vikander’s twelve days submerged under water in a tank–the book is filled with production how-to knowledge for any aspiring filmmaker, movie aficionado, or anyone who is just a fan of Lara Croft.  Roughly half of the volume covers the scenes that take place on the island.  Author Sharon Gosling points out Vikander was filmed in the raging rapids sequence in the facility where the 2012 Olympics were held, and the parachute drop scene came straight from the game.

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For fans of Jean-Luc Picard, Data, Worf, Riker, Troi, Crusher, and LaForge, few efforts have come as close to original episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation since the series finale aired 24 years ago as IDW Publishing’s continuing adventures of the crew in the pages of the comic books.  Last year artist J.K. Woodward painted a brilliant new story of the Star Trek: The Next Generation era with writers David Tipton and Scott Tipton in IDW Publishing’s nostalgic Mirror Broken series.  Known already for his beautiful illustrations in the Star Trek/Doctor Who crossover miniseries Assimilation², the IDW adaptation of Star Trek: The City on the Edge of Forever, also with the Tipton brothers, and the covers of the Star Trek/Green Lantern crossover miniseries, Woodward brought his jaw-dropping photo-real paintings to Mirror Broken–providing poster-worthy interior artwork for every page of the series.  Woodward not only gave fans their first look at the ships and places in the Mirror universe of the TNG years, he created the never-before-seen look of each character for the franchise.  Beginning today you can get all five issues of the series plus the lead-in story from last year’s Free Comic Day one-shot in the trade paperback edition.  You can order it today through your local comic book store and via Amazon here.

But Picard and his crew don’t stop with Mirror Broken.  Coming this May, the Brothers Tipton are back to continue the Enterprise-D adventures in the Mirror universe with Star Trek: The Next Generation: Through the Mirror Chris Johnson (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) will take the lead with the main story arc artwork and Woodward will provide back-up stories in each issue.   The crew is looking for new worlds to conquer, and they’re crossing over to the Prime Star Trek universe to find them.  Readers will learn how the Mirror universe crossover began, and fans will see an old friend again as Emperor Spock enters the picture.  Read the individual issues of the series or pre-order the trade edition here at Amazon.

J.K. Woodward homage to the NextGen crew, Mirror style, based on the 10th anniversary Continuing Mission photo.

But that’s not all that will be arriving at comic book stores this year.  Just when you thought it was safe to return to the Prime universe, a member of the crew is not what he seems to be in the IDW series Star Trek: The Next Generation: Terra Incognita.  Again David and Scott Tipton take on the writing duties, but this time fan-favorite Star Trek artist Tony Shasteen (Star Trek, Star Trek: Boldly Go, Star Trek: Discovery: Light of Kahless) takes over as illustrator of the series.  Star Trek: The Next Generation: Terra Incognita will feature six episodic issues reflecting the style of the and feel of the classic series over six issues.

Take a look at twelve covers released in advance by IDW of the two new series and the Mirror Broken trade edition:

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Astronaut Scott Kelly, who spent 340 days aboard the International Space Station in 2015, has been in the news this month as scientists learn more about his health after such an extended stay in space.  NASA admitted Scott and his identical twin brother Mark into its elite astronaut program in 1996, and after many years the brothers’ back and forth missions resulted in Scott accepting a Russian mission to test human reaction to extended space travel, in part contemplating a trip to Mars one day.  At the end of his 2015 mission not only did his body change, but he encountered what travelers to Mars will encounter: living in weightlessness, relying on the tools, food, and oxygen processing technology, and experiencing work stress for a similar period of time as a voyage to Mars.  Although readers of his recently published memoir will learn the selection of the brothers into NASA and the selection of Scott for his record-breaking ISS mission initially did not contemplate use of the twin brothers as comparative test subjects, NASA soon realized the knowledge they could gain from such an endeavor.  Although scientists have since backed off on early claims that Mark and Scott now have different DNA, their analysis continues, and Scott said he and his brother will continue to be tested and observed as part of the study for the rest of their lives.

In his book Endurance: A Year in Space, A Lifetime of Discovery, Scott Kelly recounts his life story and the details of his four trips into outer space: via the space shuttles Discovery (STS-103) in 1999 and Endeavour (STS-118) in 2007 and later via Soyuz TMA-19 in Expeditions 25/26 in 2010 and Soyuz TMA-18M in Expeditions 43/44/45/46 in 2015 with a record-breaking mission The Endurance in the title reflects both the ship captained by Sir Ernest Shackleton in the 1901 expedition to Antarctica (and Shackleton’s book Kelly took on his journey into space for inspiration and reflection) as well as the mettle and resolve required to push his mind and body to the limits to survive his many journeys off-planet.  Readers learn through his experiences the detail, perfection, and self-discipline that makes up “the right stuff” for the military fighter pilot turned test pilot, Navy captain, and astronaut commander are the same things that seem to make him so focused that he was perceived as less communicative and responsive to those closest to him.  Endurance: A Year in Space, A Lifetime of Discovery is very much another chapter in a continuing history of books by astronauts recounting their circuitous and unlikely paths to NASA, yet Kelly’s account reveals less of a superman and more of a flawed but committed adventurer, and his flaws will no doubt engage any reader and fan of real-life adventure stories.  The personal details, openness to discuss his own reservations, concerns, and mistakes, make this unlike any other of the more famous accounts of human travels in space.  Kelly is most likeable when he’d seem unlikeable to us back on Earth–when he shows his frustrations, when at the end of a year in space little comments from his peers simply annoy him.  He seems preoccupied with the ISS toilets and carbon dioxide levels throughout his year on the ISS, both of which he knows could mean the end of any Mars mission if they can’t become more reliable.  And it’s these kinds of details he hopes will drive NASA to improve these components of space travel to hope to make a mission around the moon, around an asteroid, and ultimately a mission to Mars, a reality one day for mankind.

That’s Commander Scott Kelly (bottom right) in the crew photo sporting Jedi robes for Expedition 45.

Kelly credits another book, Tom Wolfe’s The Right Stuff, as his inspiration for taking on a career as jet pilot and astronaut–he even called Wolfe from space to thank him at the end of his ISS mission.  Kelly’s descriptions of several of his experiences, especially his three harrowing spacewalks while aboard the ISS, provide for a riveting read, and readers shouldn’t be surprised if they find themselves breathless as they follow along with him as he floats 254 miles above Earth orbiting at 17,000 miles per hour.  Some sections of Endurance: A Year in Space, A Lifetime of Discovery are as nailbiting as Jon Krakauer’s extraordinary account of his ill-fated Mt. Everest climb, Into Thin Air.  Some of Kelly’s more minor details are the most startling, like his description of hand rails outside the station that are riddled with bullet-sized holes, caused by space debris.  Any new arriving piece of debris could poke a hole in him, too, as he floated in space.  In one mission he encounters the same tile problem that caused the destruction of the space shuttle Columbia.  A chunk of an old satellite careening in the vicinity of the ISS provides another dangerous condition for the crew that illustrates another theme of life on the ISS–international relations.  Kelly speaks nothing but admiration for Russia, its space program and its cosmonauts, but their processes and procedures sometimes vary widely.  When the satellite approached, the Russians kept on working just as he and his team hunkered down.  The Russians figured any collision likely would kill them all instantly, so why worry about it?  Readers will learn a lot about those less exciting parts of being a 21st century astronaut, especially about the required extended stays required these days in Russia, the departure point for American astronauts in the post-Space Shuttle world.  In between flights, Kelly served as NASA’s Director of Operations in the legendary town of Star City, Russia, and we learn much about his many encounters with other astronauts and ground crew.

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Sometimes writers find the right obscure but fascinating event of the past to tap for the next fictionalized tale.  The Terror, a new series beginning tomorrow on AMC, has the potential of being the next clever idea in the historical horror category.  By all accounts it looks like a secret prequel to John Carpenter’s The Thing (just as the movie Split was a secret film in M. Night Shyamalan’s Unbreakable saga).  That’s not really the case for this suspense-thriller, supernatural-horror series despite its similarly chilling, desolate, Arctic setting, blood and gore horrors, and lurking menace.  It’s a fictionalized account of actual events from 1845-1848, written by author Dan Simmons in his 2007 novel of the same name.  But it couldn’t look more like a John Carpenter creation.  It begins tomorrow night on AMC.

The novel is such prime fodder for a novel it’s incredible it hadn’t been adapted before in this way.  In the real world the British Captain John Franklin was leading an Arctic exploration for the Northwest Passage with two ships, the HMS Terror (The Terror!  Yes, really!), and the HMS Erebus (in Greek mythology Erebus was a primordial deity representing the personification of deep darkness, shadow, and chaos).  It is no secret that the expedition is noted in history books as a famous lost expedition.  The British character names sound like you’d expect in a fictional seafaring crew penned by the likes of C.S. Forester, Patrick O’Brian, or Robert Louis Stevenson: Commander James Fitzjames, Dr Harry D.S. Goodsir, Cornelius Hickey, Seaman Magnus Manson.  Playing Captain Franklin is Ciarán Hinds, the brilliant character actor we’ve loved in everything from Mary Reilly and Jane Eyre to The Sum of All Fears, Road to Perdition, The Phantom of the Opera, Munich, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, The Woman in Black, John Carter, and Shetland (and he was the voice of Steppenwolf in Justice League and starring now in Red Sparrow).  The captain of the Terror is played by Sherlock Holmes film star Jared Harris (Far and Away, Last of the Mohicans, Lady in the Water, The Riches, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Fringe, The Man from U.N.C.L.E.). Fitzjames is played by Tobias Menzies (Star Wars: Rebels, Outalnder, Casino Royale, Law & Order: UK, Black Mirror, Doctor Who, Game of Thrones).  Alistair Petrie (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Victor Frankenstein, Hellboy) plays Dr. Stanley.  And Greta Scacchi (Emma, The Player, Presumed Innocent) plays Lady Franklin.

The production for The Terror looks gorgeously historic, the ships and costumes as intricately crafted as those in the A&E Horatio Hornblower series and Master and Commander.  The show’s production design is by Jonathan McKinstry (known for the original Total Recall, Band of Brothers, Penny Dreadful, The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, The Borgias, and Sphere), with supervising art director Matthew Hywel-Davies (Doctor Who, Torchwood), and set decorator Kevin Downey (Mary Shelley, King Arthur, Penny Dreadful, Little Women).  Costumes were created by Annie Symons, who designed the wardrobes for King Arthur, The Woman in Black 2, and TV shows The Hollow Crown, Doctor Zhivago, Sweeney Todd, Dracula, and Great Expectations.  Showrunners are David Kajganich (In the Clouds, A Bigger Splash) and Soo Hugh (The Killing, Under the Dome, The Whispers).  The fact that Ridley Scott (Alien, Blade Runner, Alien: Covenant, Coma) is executive producer has been heavily marketed.

Here is a preview for tomorrow’s first episode of The Terror:

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We knew from early trailers and buzz going back literally years now that Syfy’s new series Krypton was going to cover Superman’s family’s distant past.  Even back here at borg.com in 2014 we previewed the first plans for Syfy’s series, wondering how close the DC writers would stick to the known backstory from the comic book pages, asking “Will they keep the character’s original name Seyg-El?”  Answer: Yes, with a slight change in spelling to “Seg”.  And “Will they bring in an Eddie Haskell neighbor as a young Zod?”  Answer:  Not quite, but the Zod family is going to be well represented in the series, which premiered this week with a pilot that should far surpass fan expectations.  In fact Krypton’s production values, writing, and actors are so well put together the show has the potential to equal the DC Comics adaptations on the CW network, and ten minutes into the pilot it already seemed more grounded in the comic books than any of the DC movie adaptations going back to Superman II.

The previews for Krypton failed to convey the actual scope and solid space fantasy framework the series is built on (and the epic scope that goes beyond Superman lore, but more on that below).  It looked like it was going to be like Marvel’s Inhumans–another odd, fringe fantasy show.  So don’t let the trailers mislead you.  The acting ranks are excellently cast–the show’s lead, British actor Cameron Cuffe, plays Seg-El.  The actor is a bright, knowledgeable fan of Superman in his own right, as conveyed as the host of the after-show.  Seg-El’s family grounds the series instantly with genre gravitas: first, Sherlock’s Rupert Graves plays his father, then Paula Malcomson–who portrayed moms in both The Hunger Games and Caprica–plays Seg’s mother, and General Dodonna himself, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Horatio Hornblower, and Game of Thrones actor Ian McElhinney, plays Seg’s own grandfather.  From the beginning the women take on a fierce role in the show, with the house of Zod represented in warrior Lyta Zod, played by show co-star Georgina Campbell (Black Mirror, Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams, Broadchurch).  Ann Ogbomo, who portrayed an Amazon warrior in the big screen’s Wonder Woman and Justice League plays her mother, Jayna Zod.  While fans are still on a fantasy superhero high from this year’s Black Panther movie, the military guild with the fierce Amazon-inspired Zod warrior-in-charge is well-timed.

The surprise from the pilot is how much Krypton seems to have the potential to be the next big Syfy series, like Battlestar Galactica came out of nowhere to reinvigorate science fiction television 15 years ago in 2003.  The show pulls from several science fiction and space fantasy realms, but the space fantasy potential is most interesting, with Stargate, John Carter, Valerian, Riddick and more as possible inspiration.  Pinar Toprak’s musical score, with appropriate John Williams Superman movie theme cues, has a pulsating Daft Punk Tron: Legacy vibe, with brightly neon-lit ships also borrowing some of that film’s more familiar visual elements.  Add in the visuals you can find late artist Michael Turner’s Krypton and great costume styles from designers Varvara Avdyushko (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) and Bojana Nikitovic (Underworld: Blood Wars, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance).  Story elements can be found in Logan’s Run, Flash Gordon, THX-1138.  Even parallels to scenes from Batman’s backstory come into play.  The story in the first episode plays like one of the better episodes of Star Trek’s Enterprise series, the J.J. Abrams Star Trek reboot, incorporating the beginnings of political tangles like those in The Dead Zone.  Krypton is also cool and cocky in its sets, style, writing, and acting, much like one of Syfy’s best recent series, Killjoys.  As fulfilling as the CW Network’s worldview of the DC Universe has become with the Arrowverse, Krypton is different, with none of the pop culture reference-heavy chatter, or that soap opera vibe of Smallville.  It’s a promising pilot–this looks like a most welcome Syfy channel space show.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

YouTube attempts to crack down on misinformation and conspiracy

Facebook officer reportedly leaving over misinformation dispute

The headlines this week speak for themselves–the time seems right for a new understanding of misinformation.  The subject has been written about before and from different angles, and author and journalist Rex Sorgatz includes dozens of references to those previous books that inspired his new treatise.  Part An Incomplete Education, part In Search Of…, part Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader, a new book coming from Abrams Image is also a useful Guide to Living in the Modern World.  It’s The Encyclopedia of Misinformation: A Compendium of Imitations, Spoofs, Delusions, Simulations, Counterfeits, Impostors, Illusions, Confabulations, Skullduggery, Frauds, Pseudoscience, Propaganda, Hoaxes, Flimflam, Pranks, Hornswoggle, Conspiracies & Miscellaneous Fakery.  It’s a smart, compelling mix of information you would find in updates and appendices to college textbooks on advertising, public relations, psychology, criminology, politics, journalism, futurism, and current affairs, with a dose of pseudoscience and other quackery.

For most, The Encyclopedia of Misinformation will get readers caught up on what everyone else has been talking about, or in some places, defining a thing you already know with a succinct word or phrase.  The author puts his own spin on nearly 300 concepts–some terms may be familiar, some newer ideas may be defined with more recent turns of phrase.  Sorgatz discusses many more concepts than the core defined terms as he fleshes out each alphabetized key word.  Happily for any reader, this book does not read like an actual encyclopedia.  Instead Sorgatz interconnects concepts with a series of visual hotlinks that aren’t really links (it’s a printed book, after all), including citations to words not specifically defined in the book.  But it’s very clear that were a reader to read the book cover to cover and actually look up all the linked terms he/she doesn’t know already, that reader would be pretty caught up with current affairs.  Although the author suggests bouncing around and reading whatever seems interesting, The Encyclopedia of Misinformation is one of those indispensable, unputdownable non-fiction books that easily can be read straight through in two or three sittings.

So this book’s for you if you don’t know alien space bats, that an auto-tune has nothing to do with the radio, that canned heat isn’t hot, the difference between modern catfish and Chilean sea bass, who was or still is Tony Clifton, if you can’t tell a cryptid from capgras, what’s a deep state and how you doublethink, that false flags and foreign branding are not the stuff of international relations, the difference between a honeypot and a honey trap, that lorem ipsem is not Latin, if you don’t know the Mandela effect and are concerned you haven’t visited the moirologist lately, what’s a noddy and what’s a nonce, what the heck is pareidolia, plandids, and retconning, sampuru and simulism, or why you should know Zardulu.  Do you want to know how a fake band beat Dylan, Aretha, Elvis, Jagger, Bowie, Iggy, Janis, McCartney, and Lennon for the biggest hit of 1969?  How can the author explain the inclusion of cyborgs and cosplay as misinformation terms?

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Following the success of last year’s Studio Ghibli Fest, animated film distributor GKIDS and Fathom Events are bringing back to U.S. theaters nine critically acclaimed films throughout the year for Studio Ghibli Fest 2018.  Starting this weekend the series will feature both dubbed and subtitled versions of Studio Ghibli classics, beginning with a 10th anniversary screening of the fan-favorite family adventure Ponyo (2008) on March 25 (dubbed), 26 (subtitled), and 28 (dubbed), with original actors Tomoko Yamaguchi, Kazushige Nagashima, and Yuria Nara in the subtitled version and Cate Blanchett, Cloris Leachman, Liam Neeson, and Matt Damon in the dubbed version. In a spin-off of the Hayao Miyazaki story Whisper of the Heart, the character Baron re-emerges in The Cat Returns (2002), back in theaters April 22 (dubbed), 23 (subtitled), and 25 (dubbed), with stars Chizuru Ikewaki, Yoshihiko Hakamada, and Aki Maeda in the subtitled version, and Anne Hathaway, Cary Elwes, and Tim Curry in the dubbed version.  Miyazaki directs his tale of a pigman pilot bounty hunter in Porco Rosso (1992), back in theaters May 20 (dubbed), 21 (subtitled), and 23 (dubbed), with original stars Shûichirô Moriyama, Tokiko Katô, and Bunshi Katsura Vi in the subtitled version, and Michael Keaton and David Ogden Stiers in the dubbed version.

Studio Ghibli’s village of magical raccoon dogs fight back in Pom Poko (1994), in theaters June 17 (dubbed), 18 (subtitled), and 20 (dubbed), starring Shinchô Kokontei, Makoto Nonomura, and Yuriko Ishida in the subtitled version, and Clancy Brown and J.K. Simmons in the dubbed version.  One of Miyazaki’s most thrilling films, the legendary Princess Mononoke (1997) is back July 22 (dubbed), 23 (subtitled), and 25 (dubbed), starring Yôji Matsuda, Yuriko Ishida, and Yûko Tanaka in the subtitled version, and Minnie Driver, Clare Danes, and Gillian Anderson in the dubbed version.  Director Isao Takahata offers one of the finest World War II stories in all of cinema in his gut-wrenching Grave of the Fireflies (1988), back in theaters August 12 (dubbed), 13 (subtitled), and 15 (dubbed), starring Tsutomu Tatsumi, Ayano Shiraishi, and Akemi Yamaguchi in the subtitled version, and Adam Gibbs and Emily Neves in the dubbed version.

Everyone’s favorite gentle giant cat is back September 30 (dubbed), October 1 (subtitled), and October 3 (dubbed), when My Neighbor Totoro (1988) returns, starring Hitoshi Takagi, Noriko Hidaka, and Chika Sakamoto in the subtitled version, and Dakota Fanning, Elle Fanning, and Tim Daly in the dubbed version.  Perhaps Miyazaki’s most acclaimed film, the fantastical, spiritual, riveting epic Spirited Away (2001) is in theaters October 28 (dubbed), 29 (subtitled), and 30 (dubbed), starring Rumi Hiiragi, Miyu Irino, and Mari Natsuki in the subtitled version, and Suzanne Pleshette, David Ogden Stiers, and James Marsden in the dubbed version.  And finally, a boy and girl search for a floating castle in Miyazaki’s Castle in the Sky (1986), in theaters November 18 (dubbed), 29 (subtitled), and 20 (dubbed), starring Keiko Yokozawa, Mayumi Tanaka, and Kotoe Hatsui in the subtitled version, and Anna Paquin, Mark Hamill, James Van Der Beek, Cloris Leachman, and Mandy Patinkin in the dubbed version.

Here is a quick preview of Studio Ghibli Fest 2018:

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