2016 via Your Media Viewer of Choice…

io9 had a very excellent preview listing a lot of the upcoming SciFi/Fantasy shows coming in 2016. A lot of them I’d never even heard about, some of them I am very excited about, some of them I could care less about, and some of them I downright loooooathe (looking at you, Teen Wolf!). Out of their extensive list, here’s my thoughts on the ones that actually evoked a response (either positive or negative):

The Shannara Chronicles – didn’t like the books, and the it’s being done by MTV. Need I say more?

Colony – liked the premier.

X-files – do you have to ask?

The Magicians – HATED the book, but SyFy has been KILLING it lately with their shows, so…maybe?

You, Me and the Apocalypse – only saw one preview trailer, loved the look of it.

The Venture Bros. – you’re goddamned straight.

Daredevil – of course

12 Monkeys – is anyone watching this? Is it any good?

Game of Thrones – HELLS. YES.

The Walking Dead – meh. First half of season six sucked.

Containment – interesting premise. Maybe?

Hunters – again, doesn’t sound that great, but SyFy’s had some great shows lately.

Legion – sounds dumb.

Luke Cage – OMG YES (please can he have a chain belt just for a little?!?)

Outcast – Hrm. Teaser kinda sucked, so I don’t know.

Preacher – Oh please oh please oh please don’t suck!!!

Westworld – High hopes. Big, huge, HIIIIIIGH MOTHER-F’IN HOPES!!!!

So what did they miss? What are YOU excited about? What on this list sounds dumb to you?

11 Jan 2016

My Dear Fellow Americans: Your Hypocrisy is Showing

Odds of dying in a terrorist attack for an American: 1 in 20 million. Odds of death by accidental discharge of a firearm: 1 in 514,000 (or 1 in 25,000 for deliberate firearm assault, if you’d like). And really, we need to protect you from your furniture – you stand the same odds as dying from your TV falling on you as you do from terrorism. Yet all these people worried about themselves/loved ones being killed by terrorists masquerading as refugees are also the same people that refuse ANY steps toward gun control. Which is fine – I hold no illusions about the US ever having gun control (unless Obama gets moving on his plan to take our guns), but don’t pretend you want to refuse refugees to “protect the children.” Even worse, if you profess to be a Christian and turn your back on people in need, how can you live with yourself?

Yes, there are some refugees that are going to be assholes. But what class/religion/race/nationality is exempt from that rule? If you only want to accept people that believe like you, look like you, speak like you, share your background – why not just stop pretending and admit your own cowardly selfishness? I can at least respect your honesty.

And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick.” – Matthew 14:14, King James Version

And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick. Except those that might have been terrorists or came from countries were other terrorists might have come from, because screw those guys.” – Matthew 14:14, New American Version

17 Nov 2015

Even Dream Borgs Think My Dream Self Sucks

So in the never-ending world of amusement that is my dreaming world, last night I had a dream that our client at work came in to negotiate a new contract (with my team, not the owner of the company as is normal). But because it was a dream, of course it had to be a *little* off – in this case, the “negotiator” for the client was Patrick Stewart. And not Captain Picard Patrick Stewart, but rather Locutus of Borg.

Locutus of BorgWorking with a large international company, imagining them as Borg isn’t really anything that unusual. And of course, if you’re negotiating with the Borg, who else are they going to send, Hugh?

Anyway, so the client (Borg) sit down with us to negotiate the new contract. And proceed to tell me that my skillset is outdated, and I’m going to be down-sized.


For those of you non-Trekkies, the joke/shame here is that the Borg assimilate EVERYBODY. They’re basically like me at a Ben & Jerry’s buffet – EVERYTHING can be used for something. Except, apparently, old developers still working in Classic ASP/SQL.

I’m sure Freud would have a field day with this one. Because he would definitely be a Trekkie.

30 Sep 2015

Maybe Minas Tirith *is* possible?

Recently there’s been a lot of guffawing and fanboi-ing over the idea of building a “real” Minas Tirith – but with a price tag of 2.9 BILLION dollars, a lot of people have been guffawing at the outrageous price.

And then today I read that Thoth Technology of Pembroke, Ont., is developing a 20-kilometer-high free-standing space elevator (or at least they’ve applied for a patent on their plans for building one). The price tag on this endeavor? Between $5-billion and U.S. $10-billion dollars.

So hey, maybe those Tolkienites just need a corporate sponsor to foot the bill? I’m sure there’s plenty of profit to be made in a giant LARP city…

18 Aug 2015

It’s No Fun, Being an (Illegal) Alien Outpost…


You can tell he’s a serious soldier because he talks in a guttural voice and never wears his helmet.

In a rare moment of not having any pressing duties this weekend, I sat down and watched Alien Outpost. I don’t know what possessed me, other than free space in my Netflix queue. I mean – what a stupid title, right? Why they changed it from Outpost 37 I’ll never know (although maybe the total ten seconds you get to see of the aliens wasn’t enough to clue most movie-goers into what the film was about).

And the characters, right off the bat, were all ridiculously cheesy stereotypes. Gruff-speaking commander with short temper who loves his men and willing to buck orders? Check! Strong black guy with cool nickname? Check! Buff dudes who wear flak jackets over bare nipples like they’ve never heard of chafing? CHECK AND CHECK!

I could probably write about 20 pages about the silly flaws, lack of logic and over-the-top acting. Hell, the visual effects were straight out of a 1980s made-for-tv-not-even-good-enough-for-SyFy-channel-special. I mean, look at the trailer. Cheese city, right? And then you’ve got the oddly sometimes-a-documentary, sometimes-an-invisible-cameraman cinematography going on. There’s the dreaded confession cams that are filmed in a nice, dark room with soft lighting that would make MTV’s Real World directors weep. And somehow, 20 years in the future, they still can’t email important documents and have to drive 20 miles to hand-deliver them.


We are an alien civilization bent on dominating you puny humans with our superior technology and advanced alloys that your puny bullets can’t penetrate! What? Helmet? Who needs a helmet?

But… as a fan of Restrepo, I was interested in the premise: an alien invasion takes place, but we manage to drive them off-planet except for pockets of their “heavies” – tough, armored giants that are held up in remote areas. The USDF (United Space Defense Force)” established a number of outposts to guard against these heavies, but they also seem to come under attack from the locals (ungrateful shits that they are).

The soldiers at these outposts are straight out of every war movie ever, with bare-chested (but flak-jacket wearing), “man the 50!” heroics, who sit around playing cards and playing jokes on each other when not being shot at (which is probably the most true-to-life acting to come across in the whole script).

Listen, we're going to detonate a MASSIVE explosion while under heavy enemy fire. But make sure you leave those back doors wide open so we can all get a good view!

Listen, we’re going to detonate a MASSIVE explosion while under heavy enemy fire. But make sure you leave those back doors wide open so we can all get a good view!

And then for some reason this group of soldiers from all over the world gets angry when a German soldier is sent as a replacement for one of their wounded members… because even though there’s this alien threat, screw Nazis, AmIRight?

So it’s this weird blend of Platoon, Dirty Dozen, the aforementioned Restrepo, and maybe the Battle: Los Angeles silliness, only with less of a budget, so let’s move the whole set to the backwoods of Afghanistan, because we can film the whole thing in a valley of South Africa and call it even!

Now that we have all the ingredients for a TERRIBLE SyFy movie, let’s fire up the funeral pyre and toast this mother!

Only… I actually liked this movie. I’m not nominating it for an Oscar by any means. But I think the idea was pretty clever, and it makes me think of those Gord-awful shit shows that now-famous directors cut their teeth on. Only this movie made me think that Jabbar Raisani, the film’s writer and director, really does have talent and a promising future. I would definitely like to see what he could do with a big budget and production values.

Raisani has some great experience in the visual effects field, having done Fx work on Game of Thrones – including some of the most bad-ass scenes in the entire show, during the attack on Hardhome.

So no, this isn’t a great movie. But it’s pretty enjoyable, and you can definitely get a whiff of some great talent in there. It’s worth watching both for the merging of solid premises with new flavors, and also so that when Raisani has his (soon to be) big break, you can get all hipster and say, “Yeah, but I loved his work since Alien Outpost…”


13 Jul 2015

A Couple of Easy DIY Geek Projects

So there are two projects I would love to have the time, budget, skills and motivation to tackle. The first, someone already did – make an INCREDIBLE Steel Battalion gaming pod.

Big Steel Battalion Box

Look at this thing. Of COURSE you want it.

The next thing I haven’t seen anyone do (yet), and it would probably be because nobody is this big of a Buck Rogers nerd. I want to take this solar-powered, Bluetooth-ready, smartphone-charging speaker from Eton

Eton Rugged Rukus

and build a new housing for it that is basically Dr. Theopolis from Buck Rogers:

Dr Theopolis from Buck Rogers

Dr Theopolis from Buck Rogers

Put the solar panels on the back, use the existing battery, and conceal the speakers behind the face. Then incorporate a speaker/mic so it would be fully functional to handle phone calls (maybe even fish lens for video calls?). And of course, add in some sound-sensitive LEDs so it blinks in time with the music/person talking.

There, I’ve done all the hard work of coming up with the idea, who’s ready to do the minor, easy job of manufacturing?

03 Apr 2015

The Matrix makes a great babysitter

Matrix baby

So here’s a news flash: if your kids spend a lot of time in the “digital realm,” there’s a new study that seems to show children lose some social skills. Personally, I think that depends on what you qualify as “skills” – because if you include the ability to swear colorfully (and why wouldn’t you), I’d argue that children gain quite a bit of skill in that particular area.

Of course this is going to be reported and I doubt will surprise many people. It’s a pretty small study group (100 kids) and not very well controlled, but what it does demonstrate is that in just five days the children in the group that were without electronic devices showed a marked improvement in recognizing other people’s emotions in photos and videos. To me, that just shows that if there is indeed a loss from spending too much time in front of a screen, it’s one that can easily and quickly be recovered. But hey, I’m not a psychologist – and, more importantly, I’m actually excited by the prospect of children growing up heavily integrated into a digital lifestyle. I can’t help but wonder what life will be like not for children of this generation, but for their children and even grandchildren.

I don’t picture a world where people don’t know how to interact – instead, I’m picturing a world were data flows at an incredible rate, where fact-checking can happen instantly, where the whole of human knowledge is at your fingertips 24/7, without having to do the tiresome chore of speaking into your phone. A lot of people panic at the thought of children raised in the “new” information age, but what about the idea that this will be a generation that interacts with people all over the world in a very personal – albeit digital – way, being able to immerse themselves in distant lands, languages and cultures far more thoroughly and cheaper than any of us can imagine.

Perhaps a digital Tower of Babel will rise again and we’ll all be able to communicate a little clearer and gain a better understanding of each other – even if we can’t see each others’ faces (although I think that’s already being developed).

02 Oct 2014

If I had a million drones…

A northern white rhino

From Wikipedia: One of four northern white rhinos translocated to Ol Pejeta now living in a semi-wild state.

While watching a PBS clip on elephant poaching and the rangers that try and protect them, I was really struck by the need/practicality of drones in that area. Here’s a perfect example of a situation that would HUGELY benefit from a fleet of drones: a massive area that is difficult to cover on vehicle/foot that could easily be monitored with a small fleet of unmanned drones. Obviously I’m not the first to think of this – the Ol Pejeta Conservancy not only thought of this, they launched a very successful Indiegogo campaign in 2013 to raise $35,000 towards an unmanned drone that would help them catch poachers. The perfect blend of cutting-edge technology in some of the wildest country in the world. Their campaign did great and raised almost $46,000 there and another $20,000 from other donation sites, allowing the purchase and deployment of the drone as well as numerous RFID tagging equipment.

So now poachers are being stopped and the rhinos are safe and everyone is impressed at this technology, right? Wrong, of course.

Kenya did a mass-ban of drones in the private sector. Because of course they did. They’re a “security threat.”

Yet another perfectly good solution brought down by paranoia and ignorance of technology.

30 Sep 2014

2014 MS MuckFest – Team Bubby Titches!

Here are the pics from our team at the 2014 MS MuckFest in Newtown Square (Philly), PA. It was such a fun event – we weren’t there to seriously compete, we were just there to raise money for a good cause and have a great time. Both of which we accomplished! We had so many laughs on the course (and – according to my memories, at least – provided many to our fellow Muckers)! It was a blast, and already we’re talking about what we’re doing for the 2015 MuckFest (tshirts!).

Here's the winning team, right here. We've already started warming up by shoving children out of our way in the lines for the porta-john.
The Spinner
The best part of the post-race was sitting, drinking beer, and watching people fall off of this.
Spider Web
First time through you go under it, where a bunch of ropes are "webbed" together. Next time through, you go over it, where a fat man rolls across the top while yelling "parkour!"
Up n Over
Climb up, climb down. Or hover at the top trying to throw your chubby leg over the lip until everyone behind you gets sick of you taking so long and shoves you over...
Swing Set
This is where I'll be trying to kill myself later.
Warming Up
The pre-run beer is the most important beer.
Gravy was following behind me, watching for signs of stroke.
Wrong way, tubby!
And here I'm wandering off the trail into the bushes. To vomit. Again.
Tumble, fat ass!
This was my favorite part - tumbling into the net 20 feet off the ground. Because F Acrophobia!
Over the top!
I think it took Chris about five seconds to climb over this entire thing. Parkour!
Hurry up, fat boy!
Gravy was kind enough to wait at the bottom of the cargo net to make sure I didn't plummet to my death. Or to witness it.
Safe at home plate!
While Chris executes a perfect slide out of the tube, I come tumbling out like... like something that doesn't tumble very well.
It only LOOKS like Gravy's holding on with both hands. And feet. Chris is actually taking a nap.
One-Handed Swing
Yup. Gravy rode that rope around using just one hand.
Gravy Splashdown!
Gravy executed a perfect cannonball, but lacked the distance. Obviously I needed to show him how it was done!
Showing Gravy How It's Done
So this is (one of) the part where I almost died. In my efforts to show Gravy how to properly launch off of the swing, I forgot that the swing actually - you know, swings. As I pushed off, it swung back, and I went face-first into the muck. HILARITY!
Proper Splash
Here I show Gravy how to make a PROPER splash - by falling face-first into the water.
A Nice Swim
Did the water just get warmer?
Pull, fatty!
At this point I wasn't sure who I was playing tug of war with, but I was pretty sure I was losing.
The Face of Exhaustion
Right at the end. I'm ready to collapse for a beer.
Walk of Mud
Gravy, showing off the goods.
You can't tell from this pic, but my back was barely touching the mud, I was going so fast!
Handsome Devils
And this was us when we started...
It's hard to reach your back - Gravy actually had a nice lady step forward to hose him off... if you know what I'm saying...
Feels good!
Gotta get all that mud tucked away.
Chips n' Gravy
Nuff said.
Just Desserts!
This might have been the most delicious beer I've ever had in my entire life.
Mud Show
Yeah, I did great at cleaning myself off. Just like every other shower I take...

03 Jun 2014

Cameras, William Gibson, X-Files, and a Visionary Make-Up Artist

The year was 1998. William Gibson, the father of Cyberpunk, was a hot commodity. X-Files, the edgy I-Want-To-Believe sci fi show was champion of the airwaves.

Together, these should have made an incredible pairing.  Instead, it was rather dumb. The episode, Kill Switch, dealt with some typical cyberpunk ideas – artificial intelligence, transferring consciousness into the internet, and TV-ridiculous hacking. None of it was particularly visionary – mostly it was pretty silly, really. Uploading consciousness to the internet pre-broadband? Ludicrous!

However, a project I stumbled across recently brought back memories of the episode, albeit for a fairly odd reason: eye makeup. (more…)

05 Nov 2013