GalacticMu

Press your spaceface close to mine

GalacticMu favorite Peter Watts, Canadian citizen and all-around pleasant guy, was physically assaulted, pepper sprayed, left without belongings or even a jacket in a winter storm (I realize this sounds fabricated, but it is true) and then charged with felony assault on a federal officer this last Tuesday, and he needs our help.

There’s the usual disgusting troll-saturated crap going down at Boing Boing right now (after more than a year of not reading Boing Boing, reading this one post was a stomach-churning reminder of my convictions) if you’d like to read the details, but it doesn’t really matter.  Watts’ life will be ruined if he is successfully prosecuted for felony assault on a US federal officer (witnesses say he did no such thing, as if I have to clarify that) and even if he defends himself he is still going to be in serious debt and will have problems entering the US for the rest of his life.

If you can spare even $10, we beg you to donate to Watts’ legal defense.  Even if on a purely selfish level: every hour Watts is forced to deal with this fucking bullshit is an hour he’s not spending writing.

Please go donate at his website, Rifters. There is a PayPal donation button on the page for “The Niblet Memorial Kibble Fund,” which was originally a place where friends could help Watts take in stray cats.  Until a more appropriate link is arranged, it is where you can donate to his legal fund – just be sure to clarify what the donation is for.

With horror,

The GalacticMu Crew
Sunday “Subspace” Williams, Captain
Leesa “BattleGate” Leva, Ship Engineer
Mike “Halcyon” Peterson, Psych Officer

1 Posted in Daily Space

ODST Live Action Trailer Deluxe’ded

Posted by Sunday on Sep 10, 2009 at 2:13 pm

As the distance between this ship and you gets greater, the transmissions will take longer to reach you.  Just know that we think about you daily, and that as long as photons move predictably through space and time, we will keep transmitting.

Yesterday we saw the new Halo ODST trailer and were temporarily stumped.  Is this a movie trailer?  Afterwards, when Quagmire was too amped up about needling some grunts to talk, I remained more impressed that Microsoft agreed to pay for three minute,  live-action1, dialogue-free trailer.

Psych Officer Halcyon helpfully supplied this voice-over for those that aren’t ready for a lack of dialogue (read aloud in that famous trailer voice – you know the one):

In a world.   Where the world can only be saved by one man.  And his buddies.  This is a story about those buddies.

1Don’t accidentally Google “love action trailer” like I did.  Just a friendly piece of advice.

3 Posted in Games

Check Off Life List: Meet Buzz Aldrin

Posted by Sunday on Jun 28, 2009 at 12:46 pm

Every great once and a while, I expect something amazing to happen.  I imagine I feel it coming from a long way off, the preliminary tremors of a large quake, a vibration felt in the earth a long while before the air carries sound.  Yesterday was one of those days, when I went to meet Buzz Aldrin.

Now, I’ve got a real soft spot for Buzz.  Second on the moon, that whole underdog thing.  It faltered a little when I learned he’d received Communion on the moon (how can you look upon the endless black and think that anything simply granted it all as such?) but he kept it to himself and in fact said the words that we should all “(…) give thanks in his or her own way.”  Because foremost, Buzz is simply pro-exploration.  Get off planet, any way, any how, and get it going.  Get to Mars, get new propulsion systems, just get.

And he punched a moon-landing hoax theorist in the face!  That is honestly my happy place.

Unfortunately, I’ll cut to the punchline early: it was a less than stellar day.  In fact, it was pretty disappointing, made worse by the issue that none of it was Buzz’s doing.

I had originally intended to go to a signing at the Westwood Borders Books & Music, but that was Thursday night, right around the time the world learned that Michael Jackson had died.  And for those that don’t know: Westwood is where the UCLA hospital is.  And the bookstore itself is two blocks away.  Which meant that the news kept cutting to scenes of the whole neighborhood cordoned off, traffic reduced to a crawl, reroutes in place to ensure only the passage of ambulances and other needed personnell and most importantly, no me.  I don’t even know if Aldrin’s signing was cancelled, I never made it there.

And here a second chance!  But at the dreaded Grove, a monstrosity of a local mall known for mid-high end retail stores and shoulder-to-shoulder weekend crowds hoping to spot the occasional attention-grubbing celebrity (trust: if a celeb is spotted at The Grove it is because they want to be spotted).  No matter: it was Buzz Aldrin and I’d be there.

I’m not even sure where to begin.  Scratch that, I’ll just print the letter I emailed to Barnes & Noble corporate:

“As much as I am weirded out by writing complaint letters (I prefer to handle these things in person) it would seem it is required as my complaint is about an entire store.

I was at the Buzz Aldrin book-signing on Saturday the 27th at the Hollywood, CA Barnes & Noble (The Grove).

So many unpleasantries happened that it’d sound nuts for me to list them all, so I’ll summarize it: the store was chaos. Not the customers, but the staff. Each staff member was a varying degree of rude, a varying degree of confused and all were totally apathetic.

I suppose what I would suggest to improve the awful experience I had would be to have a tighter system for book signings (I honestly am most shocked at this part – this store hosts celebrity signings every week but it felt like they’d never done it before!) and ensure the staff are all on the same page with the facts. Otherwise, I don’t know what to say. That kind of ill behavior is difficult to intentionally coordinate; I’m not sure how you pulled it off.”

Except I’ll go ahead and sound nuts here on my own website:  the staff?  Were total douchebags.  Each and every one of them.  The scene was a tremendous clusterfuck all the way around, made worse by a hot day.  To give you an idea of what we were dealing with:

  • You had to get a number from the registers in order to get your book signed.
  • In order to get a number, you had to present a book with proof of purchase.  They tried to tell me this meant I needed to buy a book in the store from them right at that moment, which was not true (and seemed intentionally dishonest), and I badgered them until they gave me a number.
  • I was then told that my companion would also need to buy a book in order to simply stand in line with me.  Also not true.
  • The number I was given was 189.
  • Upstairs, people were queuing at a first-come-first-serve basis.  Why were we given numbers?  No one knew why.
  • People with low-digit numbers were pissed off.
  • People queuing behind me were told they needed to queue on a lower floor due to “safety issues.”  These safety reasons were not elaborated upon.
  • Non-queuing rubberneckers stood around, somehow safe from the “safety issues.”
  • All the while, staff were totally apathetic.  A manager-looking type in a tweedy suit was short and rude with everyone.
  • The queue was arranged so that no one could see Mr. Aldrin speaking.

DSC_1128

My view for the talk.

  • The volume of the microphone that Mr. Aldrin spoke into was so low that people called out “louder!” and were hushed.
  • Babies were screaming.
  • It was very hot.
  • Someone called for people with numbers 1-30 who were then seated at the front while Mr. Aldrin let them ask questions.  Neither their questions or his answers were heard by the crowd.

DSC_1132

This photo had to be achieved by holding the camera fully extended over one’s head.

  • The numbers were totally useless, as it turns out, and they allowed the first-come-first-serve queue to continue while he signed books.
  • Mr. Aldrin did not personalize books, nor did he look at or speak to his fans.

Okay, that last bit was a bitter jab, but true.  I’m inclined to let that part pass because the man is 79 years old for fuck’s sake and was basically assaulted by weirdos for hours (seriously: men with bowl-cuts) but it was kinda sad.  I had expected to get teary because I MET A HUMAN WHO HAD BEEN ON THE MOON! but mostly I was overheated and exhausted and disappointed.  Still.

DSC_1141

GO SPACE!

Sigh.  I don’t know.  I certainly won’t be going to another Barnes & Noble event any time in the next 5 years (after which I’ll forget that anything happened).

DSC_1144

Still, I’m glad I went and it’s kind of intense.  After Buzz and his cohorts are gone, will there be more humans to meet that have been to the moon?

Happy Father’s Day, Dad

Posted by Sunday on Jun 21, 2009 at 8:11 pm

To demonstrate both the science of genetics and what I have to endure in the category of “emails from my dad,” here’s one I received just this hour, in total context, unedited:

Waching on Scifi channel:
Beowulf (1999) starring Christopher Lambert (man-crush time!).
Weapons Master of medieval Castle in unnamed realm gets killed by evil trans-dimensional gooey-skinned monster.
Funeral scene (cremation, bonus points for no stupid burial):
Sliding body into fires of Eternity, much chanting.
One last look at nice old guy’s face … then …
ZIP UP PLASTIC BODY BAG!
WTFF?

* Extra bonus points: most of music track is awesome techno shit! Fuckin’ nice touch!

quag reviews.heh

2 Posted in Daily Space

As usual, apologies about the long gulf between transmissions.  I’ve got a lot on my plate right now.  However, I am not gone, merely distracted.  Don’t go pruning your RSS feeds yet.

In typically girlish fashion, the thing that is going to make me break my silence are these:

wrap-boot-2

I came across a website today where commenters complained that these TOMS Wrap Boots were “too Luke Skywalker.”  Um.  Can I have them in black and grey, please?

4 Posted in Daily Space

Snoreright

Posted by Sunday on May 7, 2009 at 7:35 pm

When I was about 11 years old I started transitioning from fantasy books to science fiction.  As I’ve mentioned before, this was perhaps hilariously the fault of Piers Anthony who himself flipped back and forth between fantasy and scifi at a moments notice.  But I was young and impressionable and for some reason the Elf Quest wasn’t cutting it anymore.

Late one night, long past when I should have been up, I began watching a movie on the local access network.  I never caught the name of the movie and 20 years later can hardly remember the plot, save for one aspect: the main character is a woman in a dystopian future who fights the man.  There is pregnancy involved.  Fin.

And despite perhaps the bulk of the film going over my head, I believe that was the first major turning point for my current tastes in scifi.  I like it dark, I like it grim, and I like it depicting a world on the brink of failing altogether.

Which is all to bring me to a somewhat unbelievable point:  the movie?  Appeared on Hulu today.

Equally surprising is how it made me feel while watching it; after the initial thrilled deja-vu I realized it wasn’t a good movie.

It is okay for what was likely a microscopic budget, but the acting is evenly poor (every minor security guard character over-acts with the passion of a person who believes that someone in Hollywood might see this movie and think, “Jonathan Livingston Seagull!  What a fantastic actor Security Guard #5 is!”) and the motivation of humanity is totally non-existent.  Compare and contrast with films like THX-1138 and Twelve Monkeys, where the powerlessness of individuals is all for that classic irony of a better world, and Birthright emerges as a particularly unsatisfying and unclear snapshot into what could easily just be an Eastern European country circa now.

Mostly disturbing to me was the flip of what made The Handmaid’s Tale (R.I.P., Natasha Richardson) a nicely complex little moral briar of post-modern feminism.  Where Handmaid’s Offred is still a sexual being haunted by memories of her missing (and presumed dead) husband and her stolen daughter, Birthright’s Sarah is infantile and aimless, seeking only to become a mother despite repeated warnings that it is no longer “allowed” and “even if it were, it is no longer necessary.”

It is not just that she wants to have a child to raise, it is that Sarah wants to be impregnated with her own child and then raise it.  Early in Birthright Sarah is offered the care of a 6 year-old child that has already been “educated and socialized” (I think we are to read: indoctrinated) by the comically evil Dr. Steiner.  Sarah refuses it. Afterwards she is sent back to the giant laundry-factory¹ where she is scolded for “failing to meet the quota” because yes!  Quotas and failing to meet them, that sounds dystopian!

In fact, as the movie progresses one wonders what Sarah would truly want if she were just allowed to breed – anything at all?  I suppose that wanting to bear and raise a child is representative of wanting a freedom over one’s own body, but this greater analogy doesn’t pass along to Sarah at all; her single-minded desire to become pregnant takes on a cretinous quality that began to disgust me.  Again, not because she wants a child, but because for her there is no bigger picture.  There is no indignation, no subversive individuality, just the same pedantic bleating of “I want my own child!” over and over again.

Birthright‘s writer and director, Lynn Wegenka, makes a small effort to ameliorate Sarah’s infuriating passivity by having two older, more vocal women in her life, though neither of whom do much more than encourage Sarah’s desire.  I mean, yes, it’s horrible that she can’t have children if she wants to, but maybe we can also discuss that everyone is living in what appears to be an abandoned, underground sanatorium where everyone has to dress the same and sleep on rusty cots and deviation results in death?

The strangest part is that of the few scenes I remember from my youth, one of them isn’t in the film.  Unless I just completely missed it while watching it and spacing out — which is possible — but I remember a scene where Sarah sees a birthing center where fertile women are rendered brain-dead so they can produce babies without argument or interference.  I can clearly envision it, women lined up on tables, bulging fecund abdomens draped in white sheets.  Could it be that I completely imagined what would be the best scene of the movie?  Or am I super-imposing a scene from another movie?  The brain, it is a mystery.

Of note: since Birthright, Wegenka has been sadly relegated to be second assistant director for something like two-dozen made-for-TV movies.  On the list of accolades I saw Better Off Dead and squawked — turns out it is the 1993 made-for-TV-movie Better Off Dead about a dramatic lawsuit.  Yeah.  I know.

¹I guess the dystopian part of the future is that it becomes the Hell of Female Stereotypes?

2 Posted in Apocalypse, Movies

Tiny Coffin Nails

Posted by Sunday on Apr 22, 2009 at 12:01 pm

Oh, this is going to be sticky.  Sit tight.

Look, I’m sure that John Brownlee is a very nice fellow, but he can get my hackles up faster than any other scifi blogger (fan writer?  what do we call ourselves these days?), and I am almost certain the blame for this  falls on the format of his “Daily Scan” over at AMC’s SciFi Scanner.  As the Twitterocalpyse has shown, keeping opinions to under 200 characters is a recipe for the most potent snark the planet has ever seen.

Everyone once and a while, though, Brownlee slaps off a comment a bit too pat, and today was a doozy of an example.  Last year on GalacticMu we wrote about astronaut Edgar Mitchell who, in a radio interview, openly came out as an eye-witness to NASA’s extraterrestrial shenanigans.  Since we wrote that, he’s begun to speak at conferences and gatherings, talking — in that humorless way that only old men who saw wartime can — about what he knows.

A recent CNN article prompted Mr. Brownlee to say this about Dr. Mitchell:

“A former NASA astronaut claims the US government has proof that man is not alone in the universe. Frankly, it sounds like someone in the Army pulled a bit of a practical joke on him.”

My gut reaction is pretty strong.  I want to say some things that aren’t nice to Mr. Brownlee, but since I respect him and enjoy his work, I’m going to try and focus on Mitchell.

Dr. Mitchell is a peaceful fellow with a penchant for the mystical, a point of fact that most people will attempt to use to discredit him.  However, one might ask if this isn’t the kind of epic personality-reconfiguring a person might go through after learning the irrefutable proof that humanity is not the universe’s only self-aware intelligence.  And while a practical joke might be responsible for a single event, Dr. Mitchell can describe many events where he discussed, at length, the existence of extraterrestrial life with a person of gravitas.

ed_mitchell

I mean, when an ornithologist in the bayou believed he saw the thought-to-be-extinct Ivory-billed Woodpecker?  People listened.  But somehow a man who was a test pilot, a pilot instructor, a Freemason and has a doctorate from MIT sees something and he’s dismissed as the victim of a practical joke?  I’m completely serious here — as a science groupie, yes, but a serious one — but Mitchell’s talk is good data.  In the natural (earthly) world when a figure of experience believes something to be true, it behooves us to listen to them.  There might not be empirical proof, but we don’t always have time for empirical proof.  Sometimes we have to go on a gritty combination of gut instinct and flawless herd-following skills.

So in summary: according to Mr. Brownlee’s most recent Daily Scan: on one hand we have a man who can intellectually outperform us and who has been into space saying THERE IS LIFE OUT THERE, FOLKS, WHICH MEANS WE NEED TO GET OUR SHIT TOGETHER FOR REALS , and on the other hand we have J.J. Abrams hyping his Star Trek movie, and guess which one Mr. Brownlee makes fun of?

1 Posted in Daily Space

We Now Interrupt Your Scifi Pleasure

Posted by Sunday on Apr 19, 2009 at 1:05 pm

For some time now I have struggled, as your captain, to refrain from polluting our untidy but clean ship interior with my personal problems.  It occurred to me (admittedly late in the game) that I could just start a side gig, a holodeck of sorts.  So I did!

anger-burger-launch1

At your leisure, should your interest in my personal eating and voiding habits draw you, come on over to Anger Burger, where I will talk by and large about food, having Crohn’s disease and how grouchy I can get.

2 Posted in Daily Space

Great, Like I Needed a Bigger Crush on Sam Rockwell

Posted by Sunday on Apr 19, 2009 at 12:23 am

In accordance with what is clearly shaping up to be my total failure as a science fiction fan, I’m about five or six months late hearing about the Sam Rockwell psychological sci-fi thriller Moon:

The way things are going with me lately I wouldn’t have heard of Moon at all. Luckily my cousin Tina loves me and feels sorry for me and sends me emails about stuff.

1 Posted in Movies

Happy Birthday Indeed

Posted by Sunday on Apr 17, 2009 at 12:59 am

This is already making the ‘net rounds, but pal to GalacticMu Dan Coulter just passed along the 3rd place image to me with the inscription “Happy Birthday”.

chriscrane

For the record, it’s the best birthday present I’ve ever received.  Of course, my birthday isn’t until August, but I’ve never turned down an early present.

2 Posted in Visual