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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Sci-Fi Worth Checking Out

***From Guest Blogger James Kirk***


JAMES KIRK RECOMMENDS

Science Fiction Classics Worth Checking Out


BLADE RUNNER: THE FINAL CUT (2007) 5 STARS OUT OF 5
Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, M. Emmett Walsh, Daryl Hannah, Joanna Cassidy; from the novel by Phillip K. Dick; directed by Ridley Scott.
How many versions of Blade Runner are there? Seven or so, maybe more, depending on how you’re counting and who you’re reading.
It was released theatrically in 1982, and afterward rumor had it that the studio had taken final cut away from director Ridley Scott and made changes. By the late 1980s there was what was then called a “director’s cut” of the film floating around, now known as the “workprint version,” which I managed to see screened back in college. It was different from the theatrical version. It contained no titles, lacked the Harrison Ford voice over, and it there was no Vangelis soundtrack. Instead, this cut of the film had a mish-mash of sampled which was presumably added by the director to set the mood and tone of his cut of the film. I seem to recall numerous differences in how many of the scenes were cut, but it’s been 20 years.
I do recall that the “workprint” version I saw in the early 1990’s was a little different than the version I saw in the 1980’s.
At that time, rumor also held that there was a version of the film which contained the fabled unicorn dream sequence, suggesting that Deckard was a replicant.

Fast-forward to the 90s, when the officially labeled “Director’s Cut” was released. It was similar to the workprint cut I had seen years before, but with the addition of the Vangelis score and the unicorn. But this “Director’s Cut” was not definitive enough. Ridley Scott, the director of Blade Runner, did not actually cut the “Director’s Cut,” but was merely consulted.
Released in theaters in 2007 was an incarnation called the “The Final Cut,” which is now out on DVD and Blue-Ray. This is the only “Ridley Scott Approved” version of the film. I saw this at Seattle’s Cinerama and was stunned by the crispness of the print, the boldness of the sound, and the impressed with the overall presentation of the film on the giant Cinerama screen.
However, “The Final Cut” adds very little to “The Director’s Cut,” though footage that had been previously trimmed from numerous scenes has been reedited here. A few of the effects shots have been tweaked, though not to the extent that Lucas revisited the effects in Star Wars. One of the most important changes, though small, is that the unicorn dream sequence has been recut a little differently, presumably to give it more weight than it had in “The Director’s Cut.”
Perhaps the biggest change is Zhora’s “retirement,” which was reshot for this version of Blade Runner, with Joanna Cassidy reprising her role. It’s a better sequence.

So if you’re checking out Blade Runner for the first time, or again for the first time in a long time, “The Final Cut” is the way to go.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Be excellent to one another


Today I depart from gendre drawing on my experience as a mixologist as I post on life in general. Having served as a bartender for over twenty five years gives one an honorary doctorate in psychology producing expertise in psychovampirism (see my earlier post on the subject).

There are people who have the ability to light up a room with there sunny disposition. These folks can brighten a depressed mood just by walking in. We all know these individuals and find ourselves enjoying their company, especially when the trials of our cruel world have us in a dark funk. As a bartender I found these type of people invaluable to a successful night of fun and frivolity.

Unfortunately, as is the nature of the universe, there is always a Ying to the Yang. There are those who seem to suck the positive energy instantly from the room (once again see my earlier psychovampire post). They feed off happiness through insulting intelligence and beliefs trying to break down and belittle. You know them...these folks have always had it worse than you, and have always done it better than you. No matter what the subject at hand.

Because of this positive pulverizing theme there is an unspoken creed around world watering holes . I know most know it. NEVER talk religion, race or politics around the bar. No matter who is present someone will be offended and participating in these discussions will taint happiness within a night of lightheartedness with misery.

In closing I would give this advice to all. In the immortal words of Rufus of Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure , "simply, be excellent to one another." Be aware of ones beliefs for they are the core foundation that helps them deal with life on planet Earth. You have yours, be respectful of theirs. Handle political affiliation with the same kid gloves. Political beliefs don't change whether an individual is a good or bad person. Core beliefs determine that (see above). Race, same thing. Whether black, white, yellow or brown we need to look past all stereotypes and see the good rather than bad. For when it comes down to it the bad is the only thing that makes good press coining the phrase "no news is good news".

Focus instead on subjects that uplift and make life worth living. We all have a rough road because we are all born into this world, we have enough stimuli to bring us down. In the end the choice is ours... what kind of person do you want to be? We have the simple choice to be happy, or miserable. The way we effect others will follow suit.

In the end this remains the humble opinion of this citizen of planet Earth. Share the planet...one world is enough for all of us.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Technological Evolution

I am spending the afternoon writing so today is a revisit to a thread originally posted on April 12th, 2013.


There comes a revolution of knowledge. We see the evidence with each new technological invention's heightened capacity to store and send information. New technologies are on the horizon that will render all we know now obsolete.

Our current ability to send information via satellite by microwaves is about to be dwarfed by laser technology. This new innovation will allow us to send and process information one hundred times faster than we do today. Imagine the technological evolution our society will experience as a result within the next fifty years.

To the generation I grew up in we measured our computer's memory storage and processing capabilities in Kilobytes, then later in Megabytes. Today's generation measures in Gigabytes. Once Laser technology is implemented humanity will be transferring data in Terabytes and possibly Petabytes.

The technological revolution is here and the future holds exciting possibilities. The information highway is about to become more assessable than ever before, and the people who stay in step with technology will possess the power of unfathomable information retrievable in a matter of seconds.

How will those in power utilize this ability? For good, or for personal gain? We must be wary for there are several scenarios that could possibly play out in the near future, some wondrous, some not so.

Let us hope the powers that be decide to use new technological advances that are spawned from this revolution for the good of humanity as a whole, and not for the advancement under a banner of national pride or arrogance. If we are not vigilant we could see this current age of technology give birth to power hungry evilness bent on world domination.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Through the Glass

Today's topic is a repost from April 30th, 2013

Has anyone seen the new invention GOOGLE GLASS? It is the first step in the evolution of an invention I have envisioned in our future within my Science Fiction Trilogy The Morian Trilogy. I call this device an INPUT Individual Personal Uplink Transmitter. It’s a small device implanted inside the human skull behind the left eyeball upon birth. This apparatus emits a signal that communicates with the brain waves of the user allowing utilization to a planetary database, which, in this future time has developed its own persona. Our planet’s database, known as MOTHER EARTH, has a nurturing and tranquil personality.

In this distant future (300 years hence) we have established a colony on Mars within a large sprawling metropolis known as NEW SARDONIA. On the Red Planet the database is known as BROTHER MARS. Being developed by the original tenants of the colony, miners, it’s personality is very brash and gritty (curses like a sailor). The unique result is that these databases become characters on their own, being intrical to the story.

The INPUT, being in sync with the possessor’s brain frequency, projects a screen before the user’s eyes providing an interface to control information type and volume accessed from the database. Because the device is tuned in to a unique frequency the screen’s images are only visible to the user. The result being, everything humanity does, communicating with one another, reading a book, accessing the news, is all done through this device. No TV, no phones not a movie theater to be found.

Sounds kind of cool, right? Hold the phone (if there were any in the future). If this great invention transmits, can it not also receive? The question of privacy immediately comes into question. Who is to say that the controlling element cannot access information from the client using the same system in reverse? This is the dilemma encountered by the future governmental entity (known as The United States of North America).  Their solution is a security filter built into the INPUT programming…working like a firewall of sorts. Anyone who has been hacked (recently I had a run in with the FBI virus) knows that these security devices do not always work.

What is not known within this paradigm is that the INPUT is not a human invention at all, but was developed by aliens that have existed on this planet for tens of thousands of years. These off-worlders invented the apparatus for the sole purpose of using it to control humanity for their own diabolical needs steering our social progression for centuries.

Am I insinuating that GOOGLE GLASS is developed by aliens? Of course not. But, does not anyone else see the potential future problems this product may hold in its eventual evolution? Is the GOOGLE GLASS user (unknowing to us) taking pictures and spying on us for some malevolent purpose? Or, maybe I know something you don’t and these are the aliens of my Science Fiction Series and this is just the beginning of their attempt to take our world from us.

What do you think?

 

Friday, July 5, 2013

The Great Game


One boring weekend I convinced my fiancée we should try out the HBO series Game of Thrones. I had previously caught some of the show when I resided with my brother a couple of years before, but I did not have the chance to view the entire first season. Her and I are Soprano fans so we shrugged our shoulders and decided to take a leap of faith renting episode one. We were instantly hooked.

Having grown up reading JRR Tolkien, the Dragonlance series and logging hours upon hours playing Dungeons and Dragons, this show spoke to my inner geek. It melded the two elements of my boyhood passions brilliantly. Throw into the mix a slight dash of medieval porn and my inner pre-adolescent teenage American male was mesmerized.

Conversely, the rich characters and intriguing cerebral storylines delighted my better half. She instantly related to the strong female characters and became enchanted with Khaleesi's exotic story line, having being conjugated (betroved) to the Horse King Khal Drogo in a desert land across the sea. I will refrain from penning any spoilers for those who have not seen the series.

From evil plotting kings and princes to heroic knights and commoners, this show is a Peyton Place of middle kingdom life as our protagonists and antagonists endure a brutal time in Earth (but is it?) history. The show romanticizes a medieval world wrought with dangers both physical and supernatural, including the zombie-like White Walkers, dwarves and even dragons (which my fiancée adores wanting one as a pet)!


If you enjoyed Gladiator, Braveheart, Lord of the Rings, Excalibur or liked series like Rome or Spartacus, you will enjoy this gritty and ground breaking fantasy show. As I await Season Three, I give the first two seasons of the series my highest mark of five stars and highly recommend it to all.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Ahead of the Curve

Original Post date 5/1/2013.

Growing up the son of a bar owner I had a very interesting young adult life as I became employed as a bartender at my Dad’s club, Merlin’s. I had a unique perspective on the entertainment aspect of the business because my father, Mr. Merlin Jones, was the lead singer of the house band. Because of my relation to the owner I got to do a lot of singing myself (luckily, saving much embarrassment, I had inherited some of my dad’s talent).


As my time with Merlins matured the elder Mr. Jones decided to take a break from the stage and began bringing in different bands. Over the next decade my ear experienced some of the best (and worst) musicians the Midlands of South Carolina had to offer. I became quite adept at judging whether a band was good or bad within the first song of a first set.

In the mid-ninties I supplemented my nighttime income taking a job as a graphic artist at Tees Me Screen Printing in Columbia, SC. One summer’s day an amiable Afro-American gentleman with dreadlocks walked into my office bringing me a layout for his band’s newest T-Shirt for their album "No Bones About It".

“This is Walter Hemingway,” my boss introduced him. “He’s lead singer of The Root Doctors.”

I had grown up in the capitol city of South Carolina, spending only my High School years in upstate New York. Every born and bred South Carolinian knew who the exceptional party band The Root Doctors was. They had actually captured the attention of MTV in 1996 after the network taped a frenzied crowd enthusiastically writhing to their music in a concert at Finlay Park. The group was as big a name in the local music scene as Columbia’s own Hootie andthe Blowfish. Shortly after they found themselves playing in front of thousands at a time as they opened up for established acts such as the B52’s, Morris Day and the Time, KC and the Sunshine Band and Flock of Seagulls. Their sound was as diverse as the bands they opened up for.

“Nice to meet you Sir Walter,” I responded shaking his hand.

Don’t know why I added the “Sir” but it did prompt a warm smile from Mr. Hemingway. Maybe it was because I felt I was within the presence of a local celebrity, my thoughts of that day have been lost to time. What hasn’t faded is the moniker. I still hear people refer to the singer as Sir Walter to this day.

The musician had a very congenial air and I found myself instantly taking a liking him. He was untainted by the bands recent famed exposure and I felt as if I was talking to a long time and down to earth friend. On that day back in 1995 I became a huge fan. To this very day he remains very accessible and I am honored to be counted as one of his friends.

These days Sir Walter, in addition to his tenure as lead VOX for The Root Doctors, has put together a new venture. This new band, known by the name Curve, has brought together a plethora of styles and genres performing them with smooth jazzy sophistication and a clean tight sound. From current hits like “Moves Likes Jagger” by Maroon 5 to the classic jazz standard “Summertime,” these musicians play with a precision seldom heard from such freshman efforts. I have seldom heard a band with this abundance of personality nor have I rarely seen this level of energy upon stage. It is as if they have been playing together for decades molding each number into their own unique style and owning it. Anyone who attends a Curve gig will definitely hear something to their liking and become, like me, an instant fan.

Donnie Sowell (Bass Guitar, vox) and Sir Walter S. Hemingway (Lead Vox, Percussion) come from the long-standing Columbia, SC party band, The Root Doctors. Alon Segal (keyboards, vox) is a jazz influenced musician from Israel. James Meredith (lead and rhythm guitars) brings a great jazz tone to rhythm and eclectic styles to his lead improv. Younger members include Rod Johnson(drums) who has a church background and has an extremely musical style. Also introducing diva/songstress Kanika “Kay Kay” Moore. Kay Kay brings a youthful vocal style with flavors steeped in old-school sensuality.

I feel this band has a bright future and is destined to earn a huge following in the Columbia Music Scene in the years to come.