Lazy afternoon

 photo Lazy_zps2a0fzk8e.jpg

I noticed this one, semi-dozing in a neighbor's tree.

Don't often catch 'em looking so relaxed.
  • Current Music
    "Sunny Afternoon" - the Kinks
Der Schneider

The Truck Test

 photo TruckTest_zpsgoaheidu.jpg

One of my favorite tools, when judging works of fiction (be they prose, or plays, or films, or whatever) is "The Truck Test": if any of these characters gets run over by a truck during the next scene, will I care at all? If the writer has failed to engage my sympathies even that much, the whole work is probably a dud.

For once, I get to apply this test literally, to an episode of Ultra Seven: "Asu o sagase!" ("Find Tomorrow")

Premise: Funny old mystic guy makes catastrophic predictions, and feels persecuted by a mysterious truck trying to run him down. The Ultra Guard take Yasui seriously at first, then tire of his dire (and unverifiable) forecasts.

The episode passed my "Truck Test": I hoped the truck would not run over Yasui the mystic.

These days, LOTS of teleplays fail my Truck Test.
  • Current Music
    Ultra Seven theme

Oh, why do I like Ultra Seven so much?

I can't recall why I have become interested in Japanese monster/SF/fantasy movies recently; for whatever reason, I have recently watched most of the readily-available qualifyiing theatrical films that were released between 1954 and 1974, plus selected television episodes. I am now about halfway through the run of the 1967 television series Ultra Seven, which I find entertaining and frustrating, in equal measure.

 photo UltraSeven1_zpszv1pqvaa.jpg

This is a live-action science fiction series, set sometime (unspecified) in the future when the Earth's population is aware of the need to protect itself against space aliens, and has appointed expert teams to locate and dissuade them from interfering with us. The six members of Ultra Force seen above, are the focal characters in these half-hour dramas. During the final act of each episode, they are joined by a seventh member of the team (actually one of the six teammates) in the form of a giant red-and-silver alien known as UltraSeven.

In nearly every episode, UltraSeven must battle a giant monster. Sometimes the space-born enemy is a monstrous giant; sometimes the monster is just a fellow traveller with the aliens. Either way, expect a monster fight at the conclusion of every episode.

 photo UltraSeven2_zpsfjza1c5t.jpg

In "Reika 140-do no taiketsu" (which translates as "Showdown at 140 Degrees Below Zero" according to wikipedia) UltraSeven fights a big critter during a raging snowstorm, but he first receives telepathic messegase from these guys:

 photo UltraSeven3_zpsvfxmqdbo.jpg

Now, obviously, I am bound to love these guys, even if they didn't sound sort of like Speedy Gonzales and look like escapees from an early film by The Residents. And I do, for all these reasons. I just wish that so many of the episodes did not work so hard to provoke my "This Really Is Plain Stupid" response. It TRIPS me up sometimes. Wouldn't be so disruptive (hey, I think it's clear I enjoy a LOT of stupid things!) except the first act of each episode is often based on a workable science fiction premise; in this episode, catastrophic weather conditions shut down the nuclear reactor at the core of Terrestrial Defense Force headquarters, and the backup generators won't start. Disturbingly plausible, eh? Well, it gets silly, pretty quick...don't worry about seeing anything that's actually disturbing.

I'm amused by the fact I am so entertained by this series, even though I find myself frustrated at the more clever and workable ideas. Good ideas or not, you can count on everything devolving into a punching match with some big monster, eventually.
  • Current Music
    Art Attacks - Neutron Bomb

Another Facebook test

The way I set it up, LiveJournal is supposed to cross-post my updates to FaceBook. Looks like that's not happening.

This is the second part of a test, to see if I can discover the problem.

Facebook test

The way I set it up, LiveJournal is supposed to cross-post my updates to FaceBook. Looks like that's not happening.

This is the first part of a test, to see if I can discover the problem.

What it means when I dream I'm riding a bus, talking with Samuel L. Jackson

I've been blessed with interesting dreams, in recent days. This is probably an artifact of changes in weather which affect me while I sleep.

Last night I dreamt that I had parked my car somewhere in a New Jersey town, walked around looking for a certain store (which I never found) and then climbed aboard a bus in order to look for where I left my car. I realized that the bus might not stay in town, but might be headed to some other town entirely, and that I did not know the name of the town I parked the car in. I discussed this with Samuel L. Jackson, who was in the same predicament (no idea why I'm friends with Samuel L. Jackson in my dreams, but that was the detail which amuses me most, upon remembering) and we worked out a strategy for catching a return bus which would carry us back to our starting point.

I awoke briefly and thought: why am I dreaming I'm on the bus? I never dream of being on a bus. I realized the temperature in the bedroom was pretty cool, and that I might have some sinus congestion which could cause a sensation of motion (if it's on one side of my head, I sometimes wake up with vertigo, and sometimes I dream that I have shifted my car into reverse and the brakes fail to work)...and went right back to sleep.

Now, hours later, I am sitting here typing and also clearing my throat a lot (which supports my middle-of-the-night dream interpretation.) It just strikes me funny that I'd be having this elaborate dream about New Jersey (and I'm sparing you acres of useless detail which I recall, even after returning to sleep) and upon half-waking, explain it all away with the thought, "I must be congested."

I wonder what Samuel L. Jackson would say about it.
  • Current Mood
    amused amused

Raise hands: Who liked "Ex Machina"...?

Yesterday I had a day off, so I went to the movies. I saw glowing reviews for "Ex Machina" on Rotten Tomatoes website, so I went to see that film.

I did not find the experience satisfying, and yet (considering the vast majority of viewers and critics regard it more highly than I did) I realize the problem is probably with me, and not with the movie.

If you liked "Ex Machina" would you please share with me why it worked for you? I thought the performances were fine; I think the writer/Director got exactly the performance he wanted, from each of them. There's something else I must have missed.

MoCCA 2015 Arts Festival

I had a lot of fun yesterday at the MoCCA 2015 Arts Festival! The new venue, at 548 Center, West 22nd Street, provides a lot of space on three floors; it would be even better if the stairs were not so steep.

 photo Mocca201502_zpsefqye09v.jpg

The event was well-attended. Perhaps I will have additional photos today, after the festival closes. Seems the Narrative clip camera is having a bit of trouble with focus indoors. I'm unsure if this is caused by lighting, or what's the issue. Perhaps things will photograph more clearly today.

 photo Mocca201501_zpshjrttm8w.jpg

Went to a Blue Öyster Cult concert in NYC

Hey Joe, whattaya know?

I just got back from Blue Öyster Cult's show!

They played a nice long set in NYC, Friday night, and for the last two songs, they were joined onstage by original member Albert Bouchard.

Here they are, performing "Unknown Tongues." That's Eric Bloom, Jules Radino, Albert Bouchard, Buck Dharma and Kasim Sulton (Richie Castellano all the way off the frame, to the left, playing keyboard.)

 photo Unknown Tongues1_zpseprt1hgi.jpg

And for the finale, he played the drums and sang their anthem, "Cities on Flame with Rick and Roll."

 photo Cities01_zpsije9oob1.jpg

More photos tomorrow, most likely.

(If you're too young to quite remember who Blue Öyster Cult are, you might've seen a Saturday Night Live skit with Christopher Walken, producing a record and shouting "More cowbell!" That's a Blue Öyster Cult song, in the skit.)
  • Current Music
    Blue Öyster Cult - "Unknown Tongues"