Month: May 2008

Tonight’s Viewing: The Muppet Movie

Seeing this movie again for the first time in years tonight.

Post-viewing UPDATE: Even better than I remembered! I never realized when I was a kid how many cameos there are in The Muppet Movie.

One part made me re-think everything I know about all things Muppet.

The above image is from the scene of Kermit and Piggy’s first date with a cameo by Steve Martin as a pantless and annoyed waiter. Check out the moon. Is it sky blue with white clouds? On the DVD, you can even make out earth-toned colors. I swear, it’s Earth.

Do you realize what this means?

The Muppet Universe takes place in an alternate reality very similar to our own but with one significant difference – life exists on the moon and the Earth is a deserted planet!

Who knew Jim Henson was into sci-fi and speculative fiction? It sure explains Pigs In Space.

Microscopic ramen bowl MIGHT be smallest… CNN still checking

CNN reports that Japanese scientists have invented a microscopic bowl of ramen noodle soup.

Well done Professor Masayuki Nakao! This will really kick start the cure for AIDS!

What’s that you say? It won’t help in the fight against AIDS?

Oh. Well surely cancer! How about cancer?

No?

The flu? Baldness? Foot odor?

Huh. Apparently the “project was aimed at developing nanotube-processing technology”. Why we need nanotubes (pretending for a moment I even know what they are) and how processing them can help the world is not explained. It probably doesn’t mean anything. They probably just made those words up.

Why can’t they just be honest about it? Either Prof. Nakao got caught up in a bet, or his students tricked him into making it a school project. They probably thought it would be funny to spend their entire semester making a microscopic ramen bowl.

But it isn’t funny. There are a lot of starving people in the world, and turning their food microscopic is just rude.

What really amused me about this article, though, is CNN’s headline. “Microscopic ramen bowl believed to be world’s smallest”. “Believed“?

Are there lots of uselessly small ramen bowls being made?

Happy Birthday Batman

On May 27, 1939, the Bat-Man made his first appearance with the release of Detective Comics #27. I’m not convinced that’s the exact date the comic hit newsstands, but Wikipedia seems to think so, and lordie knows they would know.

Anyway, Bruce Wayne quickly ditched the hyphen for his costumed identity but not too much else has changed.

That’s right, 69 (tee-hee) years of trying to stop evil-doers to please his dead parents. Man, that’s a lot of guilt. Or an obsession. I mean, maybe it’s time to get over it. In the standard course of things, most people eventually lose their parents. Some have even lost them in a very violent and unfortunate way. Doesn’t mean they go all psycho about it, and run through the streets in some weird costume. Of course, he’s mega-rich, so I guess he gets to be eccentric. Man, the rich get to do everything cool.

Has anyone considered that maybe all the guy needs is a hug?

Come on, Batman. Hug?

Happy Memorial Day

In my junior or senior year of high school, I was aggressively pursued by a military recruiter. Looking back, a laughable notion. I was extremely skinny and had no interest in sports or excessive physical activity or conflict of almost any kind. But, I hadn’t fully decided what I was going to do after graduation, and GI Joe was cool, so I humored the notion for a bit.

Needless to say, I went to college instead. Now look at me. Still too skinny with no interest in sports or excessive physical activity or conflict of almost any kind. But hey, my country is still (mostly) free, so not a total loss.

Thank you to those who have served and are serving. You’re more brave than I.

Will NASA get it right?

Tonight NASA will attempt to land on Mars using the Phoenix Mars Lander to explore the red planet’s arctic plains. Only 5 out of 11 attempts to land a spacecraft on the surface of Mars have ever succeeded. Not great odds.

When will NASA figure it out? The reason they have so much trouble sending unmanned crafts to Mars is because of the invisible Martians! I mean, duh.

Martians obviously exist on a different visual wavelength than us, which prevents us from seeing them in the thousands of pictures taken of Mars. But that doesn’t mean they’re not there. How else do you explain the countless problems we’ve had getting to Mars?

The fact that we’ve been able to land there at all is proof of a developed society. No doubt a more welcoming government body was in power during the Mars Global Surveyor‘s 10-year mission. But then, almost 10 years to the day, we lost contact with the MGS. One can only assume that a less-tolerant regime is now in control, and I suspect they won’t allow yet another strange hunk of metal to invade their lands.

And so, I send out this warning to NASA and all other space explorers. Leave Mars alone. Every attempt is only angering them more.

Do you really think we stand a chance against an invisible alien army?

Watch the landing attempt live on NASA TV later today starting at 6:30 EDT/3:30 PDT. And don’t say I didn’t warn you.

End of day UPDATE: Good news – Phoenix landed safely and has already begun transmitting pictures full of invisible Martians.

RIP Dick Martin of “Laugh-In”

As you may have heard, Dick Martin died today at the age of 86 from respiratory complications. Comic partners Dan Rowan and Martin hosted the ’60s variety show “Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In”.

I remember watching re-runs of the show when I was a wee-lad. While the rest of the cast looked intrinsically attached to the 1960s, whether it be the flower-powered Goldie Hawn and Lily Tomlin, or the straight-laced Rowan and Gary Owens, there was something about Martin that made him pop out from the time capsule. He was fearlessly convinced of his own silliness and cluelessness. He volleyed back responses that bounced from classic Abbott & Costello-style vaudeville to oblique tangents boardering on non sequiturs. Sometimes it seemed like Rowan was either struggling to keep up or struggling to keep a straight face. He frequently failed in the latter, but that made the duo all the more charming.

The show itself was something of a mini-revolution, shattering the expected variety show format. I very much doubt that sketch comedy shows like “Saturday Night Live” and “MadTV” could have existed without “Laugh-In”.

Here’s a clip from the show that features Rowan & Martin that I dug up from YouTube. Enjoy.

Liked Iron Man? Be a Hero and Help Out

So, how ’bout that Iron Man movie? Pretty cool, huh? You bet it was!

It’s, like, totally over 90% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. It MUST be awesome.

It is so totally the best superhero movie ever in the history of ever since ever first started.

Way.

Yeah, it was tons of fun. You know what’s not fun? Liver failure.

Sorry, I know. Bummer seque.

Sadly, one of the comic book artists that made Iron Man so memorable for hundreds of thousands is suffering. His name is Gene Colan.

Yes, yes. Funny last name. Go on, get it out of your system. I’ll wait.

(*snicker*)

Yes, okay, where were we? That’s right, Gene Colan.

In late 1965, Gene Colan took over drawing the Iron Man stories in an anthology comic called Tales of Suspense. He replaced Iron Man co-creator and artist Don Heck, who is credited in the Iron Man movie along with fellow Iron Man creators Stan Lee, Larry Lieber (Stan Lee’s younger brother) and Jack Kirby. Gene Colan’s time with the character proved so popular, that in 1968 the character graduated to starring in his own comic book series, The Invincible Iron Man.

Gene Colan also had a significant run of drawing Daredevil in the mid-1960s to early-1970s, but most people don’t really have fond memories of the Ben Affleck movie, so we’ll just gloss over that part. He also made his mark on Howard the Duck, which was an even worse movie, but the comics were great satire.

Anyway, on May 10th, writer Clifford Meth announced that Gene Colan was sick and because people in comics back in the 1960s and 1970s didn’t get health insurance or 401K plans or anything else beyond a simple flat rate per page, Gene and his wife are facing immense medical bills. As the Iron Man movie rakes in over $200 million worldwide, it seems a shame that some of that financial gratitude can’t be passed on to one of the first artists to portray the character. Without his hard work and talent, it’s possible the character never would’ve lasted long enough to make it to the big screen. So, if you would like to help out in some small way, there are a few ways you can help:

  1. Donate to The Hero Initiative – This not-for-profit organization exists for the sole purpose of helping establish a safety net for comic creators like Gene Colan who did not financially benefit from the success of the comics and characters they worked on. And there are many. Make a donation and ask that your contribution be directed to help out Gene Colan.
  2. Bid on a fundraising auction item – Writer Clifford Meth has begun an auction to help raise money for Gene Colan. The auction started today and includes (or will include) lots of fun stuff by Stan Lee, Harlon Ellison, Neil Gaiman, Gene Colan himself, and lots of others.
  3. Buy cool Gene Colan stuff – Marvel Comics and The Hero Initiative have teamed up to help raise money for Gene Colan. If you’re going to any comic book conventions this summer (I’ll be at Comic-Con in San Diego), be sure to look for limited edition art prints. Additional Gene Colan-themed items will be released by Marvel in August and September.

Okay, that’s my spiel. And if you haven’t seen Iron Man yet, go see it!