Category Archives: Film

Searching For Sugar Man


Well, you are probably hearing about this film, this person, this story, and this music. The film is wonderful, the man is fascinating, the story is inspiring, and the music is great. See this film! (Thx to G-man for gifting this one to me.)

Here is the artist and subject of the film, Sixto Rodriguez, on Letterman.

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Filed under Film, Life, Music

Roadside Picnic

Roadside Picnic

Just finished this very good Russian science-fiction novel by brothers Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, first published in 1972.  I had only recently learned of the book via io9’s piece updated upon the November 2012 death of Boris at age 79 (Arkady died in 1991).

The plot follows the life of a ‘stalker’ who keeps entering a very dangerous and mysterious Zone.  The Zone is the area surrounding the spot where an alien ship had landed on Earth and long-since departed, leaving behind artifacts and dangerous conditions.  Stalkers head in to retrieve the artifacts; not that many of them come out again.  This is a wonderfully-written book, very effectively setting the mood for the effects that the Visit and the Zone conditions have put on the adjacent town.  Some good philosophical considerations/discussions in the book, as well, including a discussion of Science itself.

Add to your list.

PS – I will have to track down the 1979 Andrei Tarkovsky film “Stalker” which is based on “Roadside Picnic” (with the Strugatsky brothers writing the screenplay).  I quite enjoyed Tarkovsky’s “Solaris”.


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Filed under Books, Film, Sci-Fi Web-Cred

Plea to JJ Abrams (the naming of ships)

This was originally posted to The Campblog on January 9, 2003, as a plea to Rick Berman.  Time to update!

I’ve noticed that, unlike the United States Navy, the producers of Star Trek have not included Winston S. Churchill among those for whom ships were named. Over the years, out of hundreds of named starships, the shows have had Star Fleet ships named for many important figures in recent human history, i.e. U.S.S.: Armstrong; Biko; Bradley; Bradbury; Cortez; Crazy Horse; Curry; Drake; Farragut; Fleming; Gandhi; Grissom; LaFayette; LaSalle; Livingston; Magellan; Nimitz; Pasteur; Rabin; Revere; Roosevelt; Shepard; Sherman; Thomas Paine; Tolstoy; Truman; Wellington; Yeager; and, Zhukov – to name a few.

Many worthy names, but one is definitely missing. Who did more to secure the ‘broad, sunlit uplands’ of humanity’s Star Trekian future than Winston S. Churchill??

… Rebooted or not.

The time is now, Mr. Abrams.  The time is now.

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Filed under Churchill, Film, Sci-Fi Web-Cred

Fort Apache

I remember listening to Phil Ochs, 60s protest singer, talk about the John Ford/John Wayne films.  Although he saw them as reactionary, etc., he still recognized that there was beauty and poetry in them.  Ochs’ song “Pleasures of the Harbour” may be subtitled “My life as John Wayne” and was inspired by “The Long Voyage Home”.

Well, the 1948 film “Fort Apache” certainly stands as one of the greats of the Ford/Wayne productions.  The first of the “cavalry trilogy”, this one was loosely based on the Custer battle.

As this blog notes, this is a morally complex film and ahead of its time in terms of racial politics and a realistic telling of the history of the American southwest.  The Apache are played by Native American actors.  There’s jingoism to be found, but not after the US Army gets its butt kicked, and the cavalry commander (Henry Fonda) leads his troopers to their doom.  It’s pretty clear that he never learns that he should have paid more attention to the veterans under his command (particularly Wayne) who were pursuing a path of peace with the Apache.  No ‘cavalry coming over the hill’ ending here, but the film does end with Wayne leading the renewed cavalry and upholding the army tradition.

Glad I watched this one.  The scenery is stunning, of course.

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Filed under Film, History