Friday, December 24, 2010

Ten Nerd Things Before Christmas

•I don't know what you're getting for Christmas, but thanks to Bretigne Shaffer, I am now the proud owner of a foam space alien head from the actual set of X-Files: Fight the Future.  (It's sitting on a shelf above my refrigerator, next to a plaster head of Laocoon, the guy in Greek mythology who was killed, along with his sons, by snakes.) 

•At the risk of sounding insufficiently geeky, I would bet that we will never encounter any actual extraterrestrial life during my lifetime, but at least NASA found some microbes on Earth who like arsenic recently, so that'll have to do, I guess. 

•I will not be traveling to other planets between today and New Year's but will be in New England -- in part to attend the American Philosophical Association convention -- so bear with me if I'm out of touch during that time, though I expect to see e-mail occasionally.

•I was saddened during my blog's hibernation to hear of the passing of Irving Kirshner, director of what many regard as the best Star Wars movie, The Empire Strikes Back.  I used to share their view, but I have belatedly come to think A New Hope is obviously the best, since it alone forms a perfect, self-contained fairy tale with a nice story arc one need not be an obsessive geek to care about -- and ends with the Death Star trench sequence, perhaps the best sequence in film history.  Boba Fett is wonderful but can't compare.  (And, though it barely needs restating, if we had all simply died after the Jabba sequence in Return of the Jedi, in retrospect we would have been spared decades of pain.)

•A film that strikes me as looking less child-friendly -- indeed, that looks like it may be the most child-traumatizing film since Silent Night, Deadly Night -- is Rare Exports, about the monstrous "real" Santa Claus being discovered and horror ensuing.  Nice.

•Not technically written by children -- but sounding almost as if it were -- is the recent Marvel Comics miniseries World War Hulks, at least if the unintentionally hilarious Wikipedia description of it is any indication.  Just in case the Plot Summary section gets edited, here's the first sentence of the entry as it was when I saw it: "While in a fantasy world where Bruce killed the Hulk and the smart heroes joined the smart villians [sic] in a machine to help the world and where General Thunderbolt Ross is still alive, Bruce is visited by Doctor Doom who gives him a robot arm."  Of course.  Of course.

•I kid Hulk because I love (and I recognize that he has accomplished a great deal for someone with his mental handicaps) -- and I note that the 28th will be the eighty-eighth birthday of Stan Lee.  Excelsior. 

•In other comics news (not that I collect them any more, you understand), I am alarmed to hear that Superman has now been referred to as a defender of "truth, justice, and all" not only in the most recent film but in the comics themselves -- and on Smallville has been referred to as a defender of "truth, justice, and the universal way."  Universal way??  Isn't that almost a contradiction in terms?  Why not just change his Kryptonian name to What-Ev while we're at it? 

•For a more concrete and local conception of justice -- street justice, baby -- I highly recommend the recent blaxploitation-parodying film Black Dynamite, pointed out to me by former DC Comics staffer Ivan Cohen.  A line about attacking the bad guys' HQ from one of the deleted scenes on the DVD: "Chart a course, brothers.  We gonna turn an island that's not supposed to be there but is into an island that's supposed to be there but isn't...anymore.  Yeah."

•I wonder if that Spanish woman who raises vexing property issues by claiming to own the sun would consider giving it away for Christmas?  Wasn't this a Simpsons episode almost?  Ever since they crawled out of the caves, Spanish women have been dreaming of owning the sun.

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