Sci Fi is dead. Long live Syfy!

syfy_logo1So the Sci Fi channel is apparently changing its name to SyFy.  When I first saw the story here, I have to admit I thought, “Is it April Fool’s already?”

But then, after I read the article, it actually started to make sense to me.  Of course, it broadens their scope without losing those who already have loyalty to their brand!  Clearly, I’ve sat through far too many branding discussion meetings for this to make sense to me.

I especially like the part about how, sadly, they can’t own “Sci Fi” since it is after all an entire genre (but they can own Syfy!).  It reminds me of a story I heard once that a certain gay American institution hoped to lay proprietary claim to the word “out.”  No, actually,  you cannot own “out.”  Even gay people as a community don’t have exclusive ownership of “coming out” anymore.  You can’t turn on the TV or radio without hearing someone talking about “coming out as a Jesuit” or confessing that they’re a “closet Stephenie Meyer fan,” etc.  Gay people should be getting royalties for giving the world this apparently incredibly useful metaphor.

Okay, this has officially been your rambling blog post for the day.

BSG is blowing my mind

OMG, these past few new episodes of Battlestar Galactica have been amazing.  I love the direction the series is taking in the final episodes.  One of the best things about the series has always been the moral ambiguity, and now they are taking that to the upteenth degree.  (Fold inserted here for the sake of spoiler etiquette)

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Zombies Take Over Prom

danceofthedead

A couple weeks ago, Hassan and I were at Blockbuster, on the neverending quest for a good movie to rent, and we stumbled across the recently released “independent zombie comedy” Dance of the Dead.  I know there are some zombie-lovers out there, and I thought you might be into a movie where zombies invade a typical American high school prom, making quick work of all the cool kids, leaving only the geeks and outcasts to save the day.

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Shiny New Masthead

The default wordpress image, while nice and vaguely science-fictional, had grown tiresome. This shiny new masthead is from a photo of a work of art made by my friend Skylar Fein, a rising star in the New Orleans art world. 

A few years ago, Skylar and I went to New Orleans together for a couple months for an informal creative retreat. I came back to the East Coast, but Skylar stayed.  A few months later, Katrina hit, and Skylar and his partner evacuated from a home they’d only just moved into. They came back to a decimated house and a city in the midst of a reconstruction.  As they tried to rebuild their lives, Skylar started making art out of wreckage he found around the city.  Like the piece above, the stuff Skylar made had a pop culture feel, but also had a political edge – several of his early pieces were profiles of U.S. presidents made out of the debris from Katrina’s wake. Some of his stuff is also fascinatingly surreal – e.g., historical tributes to gay bars of New Orleans’ past that may or may not have existed.

You can check out more of Skylar’s awesome work here.

Twilight: Questions and Concerns

Okay, so last weekend, Hassan and I went to see Twilight.  We’d already seen High School Mtwilight-picusical 3, so we didn’t really have any choice.

Wait, no, I need to start earlier.  This past summer at the life-changing, high-altitude Taos Toolbox writing workshop, Kelly Link (amazing writer and mindblowing instructor) provided a fascinating, detailed description of the “sparkly vampire” genre. And it made me think, “OMG, I have got to go check out this sparkly vampire stuff!” So I went out and read Twilight.

In retrospect, I should have realized that Kelly Link’s description of a thing is very likely to be far more interesting than said thing itself.

For those of you unfamiliar with the plot (of both movie and book), the short version is below the fold.  Spoilers abound, if such a thing is possible.

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JJ Abrams & Star Trek: New Hope or Disaster Movie?

The new Star Trek trailer came out last week. This version has a different ending, with a cameo by Leonard Nimoy as old Spock:

On first viewing, the trailer got me excited.  Going back to a younger Kirk and Spock seems promising, especially after several lackluster movies that felt like they were covering well-trodden territory (or, let’s be honest, territory that should never have been trod at all).  And when the bad-ass little kid answers that his name is “James Tiberius Kirk,” I can’t help but notice the shiver running up my arms.  Yes, I think to myself as I watch, that is exactly what Kirk was like as a kid.

But … but but but…. I can’t shake the feeling that it’s a cool trailer for a bad movie.  You know, those bad movies where they take the only ten good lines in the movie and splice them together to make an amazing trailer.  Doesn’t this seem like this could be one of those? 

Then there’s the fact that JJ Abrams – of Alias, Lost, and Cloverfield fame – is the director.  I’m a big Alias fan – or at least I was for the first two seasons.  And Cloverfield was a very cool, original take on the classic monster movie plot.  But I’ve never been able to watch more than two minutes of Lost and its on-the-nose dialogue without changing the channel. And JJ Abrams is yet another of those creators who seems way too compelled to keep announcing he’s not a trekkie.  I mean, really.  It’s like a straight guy in gay bar who keeps telling all the other guys he’s not gay.  It only makes you wonder what’s really going on.

Now, I’m all in favor of making a movie that’s not mired in the details of Federation history and that’s accessible to a wider audience.  All of the best Trek movies were like that (and for me the best were indisputably the three-series run of II, III, and IV.) And I’m not one of those fanboys who gets annoyed at minor continuity glitches.  (Okay, I admit I’m slightly annoyed that it seems like the Romulans are the villains and we all know that the Romulans were never seen by anyone from the Federation until the original series episode “Balance of Terror,” but I’m willing to overlook those sorts of things if the story makes it worth it.) 

But what really concerns me is when new creators come in and get the characters all wrong.  My friend Corey, who hates Lost, thinks that’s what’s going to happen with this one – he thinks Abrams will make a slick action movie that has no respect for the characters or the essential themes of Star Trek. This quote from JJ Abrams doesn’t exactly help rebut that: “I didn’t love Kirk and Spock when I began this journey — but I love them now.”  I don’t want to entrust these characters to some guy who had to go through the process of making a multimillion-dollar movie to realize who cool they are! 

But some of the other stuff JJ Abrams has said seems much more promising.  He seems to get the essential optimism of Star Trek.  And the two guys who wrote the script are avowed Trekkies who seem like they get it, too.  And both the casting and set design seem visually right-on – paying homage to the old series, a bit retro, but without deteriorating into silliness or imitation. 

My partner Hassan, all-around wise person and big-time Trekkie (I would never have relations outside the genre) says that it doesn’t matter what the actual movie is like.  We should just enjoy the anticipation and excitement, the idea of all the great things the movie could be. 

I guess I’ll go with that approach for now….  

For Abba Fans Only

Have you ever been listening to “Waterloo” and wished there were just one more Abba tune to lip sync ?  Seek no further… experience the wonder that is The A-Teens…. 

The bassline!  The synchronized dance routine! The vacuous beauty!  They have it all!

And then there’s this gem, which manages to masterfully marry the classic Abba song with the plot of The Breakfast Club, complete with cameo appearance by actor Paul Gleason (you’ll see what I mean):

A bit of historical background, in case you’re new to the A-Teens: they were, indeed, a young Swedish pop music group modeled deliberately after Abba.  As the wisdom of Wikipedia tells us: 

In 1998, Marie, Amit, Dhani, and Sara were musically united as the ABBA Teens. However, upon the request of Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson of ABBA, the group’s name was changed to the A*Teens to avoid confusion.[3] This choice allowed the band more freedom in creating their own style of music and not be solely based around ABBA.

3. ^ Douglas Wolk (200005-08). “How Swede It Is“. Boston Phoenix. Retrieved on 200710-14.

Of course, there may be some of you reading who are not Abba fans and find this all quite disturbing.  In that case, leave my blog.  I mean it. Go.