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So just to be clear, I haven’t seen it yet, and I probably won’t. But that’s not to say because I think it looks bad or I have issues with an all women cast, because I don’t. I just don’t go to movies in theaters, I wait for things to come out on Blu-ray. When it is released on Blu-ray, however, I will definitely rent it, and who knows, maybe even buy it. Despite all the uproar before the movie was released, I hear it’s getting pretty reviews and even making more money then most thought it would. And I’m glad to see that. The thing is I have never seen a movie so heavily criticized before it’s release than this one. And shamefully, the Geeks and Nerds out there, which I am apart, seemed to be leading this charge. Moreover, their criticism was, well…drivel. I mean, what was being said made absolutely no sense. Usually the nerds of the world have a knack about sharing the same opinion about a new movie, or book, and that gives them a sense that they are speaking in one, unified voice. But not in this case. Some said they didn’t pay enough tribute to the old Ghostbusters, while others said they paid to much. Some said the visual effects were to bright or, in a general sense, just to well put together. To make a long story short, I thought to myself after reading all these reviews, Give me a break! Maybe these was an agenda to criticize the film before it came because it was an all female cast, I don’t know? What I do know is that we need to give the film a chance. It hadn’t even been released when the shit hit the fan. In fact, it was months from being released. Watch the movie first before you criticize it, I’m going to.
As a side note, I went to see the new Star Wars in the theaters last year and will probably go and see Rogue One this year – there are exceptions to even my own rules – but that’s because it’s Star Wars.
Looking back at just the previous year in space exploration and news, it is amazing how far we have come. In the past year we have landed a probe on a comet and now we are about to get the first look at Pluto, a planet that everybody knows exists but has thus far been nothing more than a distant planet with unknown features and geology (and I don’t care who disagrees with me, Pluto is still a planet in my mind). But having said that, it baffles me how far we could have been but aren’t. Forty-six year ago we landed a man on the Moon, and while I was still almost a decade away from being born at that point, I think many felt that it was only a matter of time before he had Moon bases, and/or permanent humans settles on either the Moon or in space, and, who knows, maybe even a man expedition to Mars. Looking back, almost half a century later, almost none of that has happened. So really, should we be amazed by how far we have come, or should we be amazed by far we could have been if we applied ourselves properly? Or maybe we should be amazed by how far we still have yet to go?
I almost wrote this entry several weeks ago, but life happened…you know how it goes. But what I wanted to address was Game of Thrones and more specifically, the Unbowed, unbent, and unbroken episode. Most already know, that this was the episode where Sansa Stark marries and is later raped by Ramsey Bolton. Now, it shouldn’t have to be said, but for the sake of argument I will say it here: rape is never a good thing. Luckily for us, Game of Throne is a fictitious show and not real. Kind of sad, but I shouldn’t have to point that out either, and yet here I am doing exactly that. And yet, after the episode aired many took to social media claiming that they were never watching the show again and how Sansa‘s rape in no way added to the plot of the character nor the storyline. As for me, I love the show and will continue to watch as I saw nothing wrong with the episode in question or any other episodes. You see, people often forget that television is not only about entertainment, it is also about exploring and bringing to light aspects of our society that we feel need to be addressed, talked about, explored and in general, torn apart in order to gain a better understanding of it. I’m not saying that is what happened here, but rape has been a buzz word in the media lately – especially in the last election – so it is not out of the realm of possibility that this is what was going on. Secondly, we don’t know that this horrible act didn’t add anything to the character, that will be determined later on down the line as the show continues and the character grows. And lastly, the books, in George R. R. Martins own words, “[R]eflect a patriarchal society based on the Middle Ages. The Middle Ages were not a time of sexual egalitarianism. It was very classist, dividing people into three classes. And they had strong ideas about the roles of women.” In his books Martin has made several of the main characters women, giving them a tremendous amount of influence power in the goings-on of the story. That’s saying a lot since many women in history had tremendous sway and power in their day – the Mistress Diane De Poitiers of Henry II, comes to mind – but many of them only had that power behind the scenes and through a man, they rarely had the opportunity to get up and speak their mind. So in that sense, while Martin, I believe, is trying to mesh together a little history in his fiction, the role of women in his books aren’t historically accurate. They have power, they’re outspoken, and they openly challenge the men that get in their way. Lastly, for the second time, there is plenty of violence against men in this show as well. Jamie gets his hand cut off; Joffrey is poisoned; many other men were burned to death at the hands of Stannis, and yet I have said nothing about that. Why? Because it’s fiction. Now if the producers of the show had created a scene where Sansa was raped and they tried to make the scene lighthearted or comical, I might have had a problem with that, but everything in that one scene shouted this is bad, even the music was somber.
As for me, I have continued to watch the show and love it as much today as I did when I started watching it. And, I plan on buying this latest season on blu-ray when it comes out.
Even for a generation-x’er such as myself, I grew up and idolized Arthur C. Clarke, especially the 2001 series of books, which is why I was somewhat intrigued when I read that the Syfy channel was not only making a mini-series out of 3001, but also making a movie(?) out of Childhood’s End. I say intrigued because the Syfy channel has been batting a thousand lately in putting out crap in terms of both movies and television shows. So it remains to be seen if either of these projects will see the light of day, especially since the Syfy channel has pledged to put out more science fiction related content but has yet to really act on that promise.
More than two years ago now, the Syfy channel canceled one of the best shows, I feel, on TV at the time, Stargate: Universe. Since then, the Syfy channel has partaken in nothing but meaningless drivel in regards to their programming (i.e. Sharknado). Also since that time, Cable television has gone a long way to save the art and quality of the TV age. To see this look no further than The Game of Thrones, Black Sails, The Walking Dead, Vikings, Breaking Bad, and Dexter, just to name a few. However, even with all these shows and the various cable networks that have produced them, the Syfy channel has been left out and produced nothing, or at the very least, very little, in the way of quality programming (in my opinion, anyways). Looking at cables counterpart, Hollywood, we see an endless stream of crap in the form of Superhero movies and, well, more Superhero movies. Again, just my opinion.
I bring this up because this morning I’m reading that the Syfy channel has put in an order for 13 episodes of a zombie show called Z Nation. From the description is sounds pretty good. This is disturbing for me because I love Zombie and post-Apocalyptic themed movies, books and television shows. With the Syfy channel coming out with this new show it has a fifty-fifty chance of being half way decent, but also almost a 100% of the Syfy canceling the show just as it’s getting good, because that’s what they do. Which leaves me with a delima: do I watch or don’t I? Because, more than likely, in the end I’m probably going to be disappointed one way or the other. All I ask from the Syfy channel is that they give this show at least a chance of being successful. Don’t move around the night and time when the show is on, like they did with Stargate: Universe, that is a show killer! Don’t make it stupid! I’m sorry but Sharknado is stupid! Sure everybody was talking about it and a sequel is even being made, but my God man, talk about brainless television. And lastly, when producing this show, don’t behave like the Syfy channel, because, like I have already said, you have a propensity of producing crap or killing shows altogether when they are good, and simply making bad decisions.
Okay, I’m done ranting.
I’m really not one for New Years Resolutions, but I am for goal, especially when it come to reading and using my brain. And, unfortunately in the past few years, my reading goals have been falling far short of where I would like them to be, especially last year. This, however, hasn’t deterred me, even though I did, for a brief moment, consider not even making any reading goals, contemplating the idea of simply letting the moment take we where it willed. Then I thought better of it and realized that with so many books in my library it’s hard to keep track of them all, and even harder to come to a consensus of which I want to reach next.
So here it goes, the list, in no particular order.
- Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins. The movie is obviously coming out this year, and one things I always enjoyed about reading in my younger years was reading the book before the movie came out. This was true with Jurassic Park, Event Horizon, Star Wars: Episode I, etc. Besides, the first installment of The Hunger Games was far better than I thought it would be, so I have no problem continuing on with the trilogy.
- The Sword of Shannara and The Elfstone of Shannara by Terry Brooks. The truth is that I have owned these books since I was in my teens and have yet to read them. I pick one of both of them up every now and then and just read the back cover, and every time I think to myself: when are you going to finally read these? Well, God willing, hopefully this year.
- New Spring and The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan. Again, this is a series that I have always wanted to read and while I was feeling ambitious about this years reading I added them to the list. As we all know these books are monstrous in size, so we’ll see.
- Hereos: The Legend of Huma by Richard A. Knaak. Again, this is a series that I have had for a long time and never got around to reading. Back in my high school days I did read the Chronicles trilogy and thought highly of them, so I figured it was about time I get back to reading the Drogonlance books that I have had forever.
- Ringworld, Ringworld Engineers and Ringworld Throne by Larry Niven. Some science fiction is needed to balance everything out, right? The truth is I have already read Ringworld, years ago, but I don’t remember if I read Ringworld Enginneers or not, and I certainly haven’t read Ringworld Throne. So I figured it was best to start from the beginning and re-read the at least the first one again, something I have always wanted to do anyway.
- Ender’s Game, The Speaker for the Dead, and Xenocide by Orson Scott Card. Again, I read Ender’s Game years ago, but in this case I know for a fact that I stopped right there and never continued on, even though I wanted to. Life just happened, I guess, like it always does. In any event, I plan to start from the beginning and read one right after the other.
- If I have time, I would like to sneak in a Stephen King book or two. The two that I would like to read the most are The Dark Half and It. Again, these are monstrous books, so we’ll see how much time I have, if any, to read them.
For most of the day, CNN and other news websites have been focusing on the Steve Jobs resignation. Now, usually, I wouldn’t even mention anything about that here – I try to keep this blog as focused on science fiction as possible – but I feel something must be said about Apple and my personal experiences which has led to my not-so-popular opinions.
The short form of my opinion is that I’m an Apple hater. Yep, I said it, hater. Apple products for the most part – and again, in my opinion – are cheep and over priced and under perform. Why would I say this? Well, my first iPod I bought back in 2006 for $497. It lasted a year. Thank God I had a warranty and it was replaced without question. My replacement iPod lasted another year. In the end, what did I get for my $497? A portable device that allowed me to carry around my entire music library – which is pretty cool – but only allowed me to do so for a short period of time. To put this in perspective, if that iPod was, say, a $30K car or truck, that chunk of change would have bought me a vehicle that would have come with a warranty covering me up to 1,500 miles. The point, it wasn’t worth it, not even close for the money paid.
And don’t even get me started on why I should or should not buy an Apple computer at twice the price of a personal computer. Why indeed?
But I’m talking about Apple when my rant should be about Steve Jobs, like I said when I started this. The truth is that the two are inseparable. Jobs brought the company back from ruin when the computer giant almost died a horrible death when it was handedly defeated by Microsoft when Microsoft brought it’s operating system to every personal computer in the land, and all because Apple and Jobs refused to port their os to other computer manufactures. As a result, the company almost went under.
Fast forward twenty years, and Apple jumps back into the mix with the iPod and iPhone. You would think they would have learned their lesson, but alas they haven’t. Instead of Microsoft as their arch rival, Google is now on the attack and taking Apple on head-to-head in the smallphone and tablet arena, and by all account losing badly, and all because Google gets their Android os out to as many customers using as many smartphones and tablets as possible. Sure Apple is making money, hand-over-fist, however by all appearances that well is about to dry up.
The moral of the story here folks? Learn from the past in order to not repeat your mistakes in the future. It’s a good thing that Apple has such a vast amount of money at their disposal, because unless they learn from their mistakes I’m afraid they are doomed to repeat them.
I was late getting into the game of movie streaming and on-demand movie watching, but last Christmas when I got a new Blu-ray player that offered Netflix streaming capability via a wi-fi connection, I thought to myself why not? And why not indeed, Netflix costs just $10.70 a month. What a deal! Cable at a minimum costs $99 a month or more. So I signed up.
Since then I can’t say I was always pleased with Netflix, I mean, they have lost a couple of movies in the mail and some of their streaming videos sometimes cause my DVD player to go on the fritz, not to mention the issues with streaming my movies which sometimes means long loading times, or re-loading right in the middle of the movie, sometimes several times, sometimes several, several times. But at $10.70 a month it is hard to complain, the service was worth it even if there were a few minor hiccups.
But that all changed on Tuesday when Nexflix announced that there were increasing their monthly rates. If I wanted to keep my current service as it was, unlimited streaming and one-at-time DVD mailers, I am going to be charged $16 a month, a 60% increase.
So I thought about it. And what I came up with is that Netflix thinks more of their service then I do, and I was a fan, albeit, not a big fan, but certainly no hater. That is why the decision was simply. Even if it is only $6 more a month and still considerably cheaper than cable, I just can’t justify the price hike. So Nexflix, you’re fired.
The real problem is, leaving aside all the little things that, honestly, I found kind of annoying; Netflix‘s streaming catalog left a lot to be desired – a lot! Sure there are lots of shows on there that I like and was happy to watch, but there selection of new movies and shows, not to mention the quantity of titles, is. just. not. there. Not enough, anyways, for them to think I will gladly pay $6 more a month.
If Netflix had said, we’re raising our prices, but were giving you something in return, such as a larger selection of on-demand movies and shows, and also more of everything old and new, i.e. shows, movies, documentaries; then maybe — maybe — I would pay more.
But they didn’t.
Basically what Netflix said was plain and simple – we want more money. I would be remiss if I didn’t quote RZA of the Wu-Tang Clan here when he said — and correct me if I get this quote wrong — You want this money, bitch? You have to earn this money. And Netflix, you have not earned this money.
So, as I have already said, I’m out, I’m done, and Netflix you’re fired.
P.S. One more thing that should be pointed out is that Netflix is up for contract renewal later this year with Starz, whom they have had an agreement with for much of their streaming content. Three years ago, when the deal was struck, Netflix was able to get their streaming content from Starz for cheap because there was no other players in the game, and now there are many.
Why do I bring this up? Well, because when their contract is up, instead of one bidder for that content there are going to be several, thus they are going to have to pay more or pay someone else more for that content. So my guess is that the loyal Netflix costumers that are still around after the September 1 mass-exodus will see another price increase late this year or early next year. But that’s just my theory.
The truly sad part is that Netflix is the largest company out there in terms of entertainment providers. They have more customers than Comcast, or Dish. I imagine that will all change starting September 1.
But again I could be wrong. There are still those out there that pay the ever-increasing cable monthly subscription fees, even though, in my opinion, it is the biggest rip-off in the history of mankind.