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movies in space.

Wow, sometimes even I can’t believe the extent to which I’m a huge nerd. Why do I enjoy doing these ‘Another Day, Another Movie’ things so much? I don’t have the answer. I just have a great time.

I’ve added another marathon to the queue, ‘Movies in Space.’ Pretty straightforward. They have to be movies that take place in space, or on another planet.

With the exception of Moon, Sunshine, Empire Strikes Back and 2001, etc., which are favorites I’m going to watch again, many of these are the space movies I haven’t seen from Total Sci-Fi’s list of “100 Greatest Sci-Fi Movies.” Some I’ve been wanting to watch for a long time, some I’ve never heard of before. I’m thinking about turning this one into a month-long thing.

Here’s what I have so far:
1. Flash Gordon (1980)
2. Solaris (1972) (maybe watch the George Clooney one, too?)
3. Dune
4. Outland
5. Barbarella
6. Dark Star
7. Moon
8. Silent Running
9. 2001: A Space Odyssey
10. The Fantastic Planet
11. Silent Running
12. Sunshine
13. Event Horizon (Brian and I make fun of this movie all the time, but it’s on Total Sci-Fi’s list, so I’m going to watch it. I’m nothing if not open-minded.)
14. Forbidden Planet
15. Serenity (there is always a reason to watch this movie, this ADAM is another one.)
16. The Empire Strikes Back (my favorite Star Wars movie. Or, as Lucille Bluth might say, my favorite Star War.)

So, again, I turn to you for help. What other space movies should I add? Or, if we are going to be honest and this is going to go the way it normally does: Jesse, can you give me some suggestions for more movies to add?


day two: on the beach. [another day, another movie – post-apocalypse.]

On the Beach is a sober look at the threat of total nuclear war. An American submarine surfaces after a nuclear holocaust, arriving in Australia to engage one of the few remaining population centers. Yet, even in Australia, deadly radiation carried on the winds is only months away from snuffing out the rest of humanity.

It certainly had its moments of power and gravity, but these were often bogged down by the film’s overly long runtime and plenty of segments that could have been much stronger if they’d been cleaner and more concise. The film would have been pretty great if the whole thing had been more like the last 25 minutes, which were much clearer and affecting.

I also couldn’t tell if Anthony Perkins’ performance was just really bad, or if perhaps something was lost in translation across the eras.

The music was pretty baffling too. It rarely seemed to have anything to do with total annihilation of all life on earth.

I’m not saying I hated it, but I won’t be watching it again.


day one: nausicaa of the valley of the wind. [another day, another movie – post-apocalypse.]

We certainly kicked things off in style. Hayao Miyazaki is an absolute genius, peerless in his powers of imagination, and this just may be his greatest achievement.  It’s breathtaking, the way he creates a world of fantastic beauty, which is still believable as our distant post-apocalyptic future.

He sees humanity with clarity, yet still offers genuine hopefulness, which is the most amazing artistic gift I think one can possess. He uses metaphors to paint this tale of peace and environmental harmony, metaphors subtly rooted in eastern religion and philosophy. The result is a story of great depth. I’m sure on my fifth viewing of this film I will still be noticing bits of beauty I hadn’t seen before.

Nausicaa is also one of the few films which has been successfully dubbed into English. Normally, even in animated fare, the result is laughable. Yet, with the tremendous respect for Miyazaki in Hollywood, combined with all the resources of Disney (the English language distributor for all of Miyazaki’s films), the film found a superb voice cast for the English version (redubbed in 2005, 21 years after the film’s original release in Japan). Alison Lohman, Uma Thurman, Patrick Stewart, Edward James Olmos, Shia LeBeouf, and more round out the cast; which also includes the hilarious, dickishly villainous performance of Chris Sarandon.

This film was already towards the top of my queue, so I would have watched it soon anyway. Still, if all the rest of the post-apocalypse films are total garbage, this one makes the whole thing worth it.

Thank God for Hayao Miyazaki!


melo finally comes home.

The Knicks had no chance of competing in the playoffs this year anyway, so I’ve come to terms with gutting the team to bring in Melo. The second piece is in place. The rebuilding continues. Regardless of how the CBA plays out, if in 2012 the Knicks can convince Amare and Melo to restructure a bit to bring in Chris Paul, who unlike Anthony can actually play defense, the Knicks are going to make things pretty interesting in the East.

The resurrection continues. Amen.


american gods.

There is quite simply no one else like Gaiman. His work is so remarkably full and deep. He is second to none in his ability to write dark fantasy that slips in through the cracks of the post-modern soul.

During a year in which I have read so many wonderful books, this is my favorite so far. Set in modern day America, where all of the many immigrant cultures (dating all the way back to the original immigrants who came across the land bridge from Eurasia) have brought their gods with them.

In this world, in some mysterious way, a certain type of belief in a thing makes it so, and worship gives it power. The imaginations of countless races and peoples have thus been vehicles for the movement of various deities and monsters to the great melting pot. However, America is not a very sacred place. It is not a good place for gods. The old gods are being replaced by the newer gods of cars, and markets, and television, and computer technology, each with their own personifications. A storm is coming.

Here is where Shadow, the stoic protagonist’s story begins. I’ll let you read the book for yourself if you want to know more than that, because that’s all I knew heading in and I liked it that way.

I’m continually amazed by Neil Gaiman in so many ways. His vast grasp of mythology and historical fantasy stories gives his writing such a remarkable richness. It results in the reader always knowing that he or she is only seeing the tip of the iceberg for so many of the characters and events, allowing the imagination to run wild in so many directions. There were plenty of gods I knew enough about to see what was going on beneath the surface, with plenty more I researched a bit to get an even deeper understanding of their role in the story.

I loved this book.


another day, another post-apocalyptic wasteland.

So, I finalized the ‘Another Day, Another Movie’ list for post-apocalypse films. I shortened it from what I previously had down. This genre is one I’m curious about, as opposed to excited about diving into. Thus, I didn’t want to spend a whole month in it. So, it’ll be two weeks. Here is the final list.

Seattleites, let me know if there is one on the list you really want to watch with us, and I’ll try to make that happen.

1. Children of Men
2. Mad Max
3. The Road Warrior
4. Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome
5. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind
6. Escape from New York
7. Logan’s Run
8. The Road
9. Time of the Wolf
10. La Jetée
11. A Boy and His Dog
12. On the Beach
13. I Am Legend
14. The Omega Man


this doctor goes to eleven.

I should have written about this already, as soon as I finished the fifth season. The season was fantastic. If you’ve never watched Doctor Who, you could just start with this season, since it’s a semi-reboot of the reboot. It’s also the most accessible the show has been to a non-scifi audience. It’s still scifi, but Matt Smith’s brand of humor hits a broader audience, and the production value is outstanding. The series also teaches an important life lesson, that bow ties are cool.

Again, I love Season 5; or Series 5 as I suppose it should be more accurately called, being a BBC show; or Series 31, to be most accurate. It was probably the best demonstration of telling a unified narrative that stretched out in a serial, scifi medium. Shows like Doctor Who, in which each episode is its own adventure, often make it difficult to have a single story play out during a whole season. Doctor Who writers always tried, but often the meta-narrative felt tacked on. The emotional journey of Doctor Who was always believable and engaging, but that was as far as it went; all that Bad Wolf stuff felt forced. Not so with the fifth season. They definitely started with the larger narrative, and then built the individual adventures off of that. Wonderful!

Also, the Van Gogh episode was the most nuanced and accurate engagement of depression I’ve ever seen on tv. Not in the broad strokes, but in subtle little moments that everyone else probably missed, but that meant something to me. There was an honoring or a solidarity of sorts. It was appreciated.

Just as importantly, maybe some of you remember when I mentioned that if the Doctor starts taking male companions around on a more regular basis I’d be taking my talents to the TARDIS. Well, say your goodbyes, bitches, because next season Rory is a permanent cast member for the whole season. It marks the first time a male companion has rounded the team out at three since 1975.

The bad news, they are splitting season six into two parts, so while more Doctor Who action gets underway in March, we have a big break coming up in the middle of the season. Booooo.

And as the trailer illustrates, the Ood are back this season. The Ood are one of my favorite recurring species.


the civil wars.

**Update** I forgot to mention that the album is available to download for $8 at Amazon. Totally worth it!**

Many of you may be at the party already, but I just got here and I’m excited. My dear friend, Abby, shared this band with me, right before it seemed like everyone and their mom started mentioning them today on the internets. They were featured by Paste as “The Best of What’s Next.”

I am really digging them. Although, I’m depressed because they just played here in Ballard in December but I’d never heard of them at the time.

Side note, Joy Williams is crazy sexy.

They also do several awesome Michael Jackson covers, which is, well, awesome.