Archives for posts with tag: Futurama

​Not letting critics put me off a movie was a good thing when I watched Passengers. I really loved it, except for the early part staying too long on just one character. Apparently a lot of people complained about that, so it’s not just me.  Otherwise, it’s one of my favorite movies I’ve seen this year. It’s sweet and romantic, yet still actiony that’s at times terrifying, all the sf colonization stuff is so, so cool, the ship is so awesome that I want to travel on it, and the ethical question at the movie’s center is fascinating. Chris Pratt is moving as Jim, especially while agonizing over whether to remain alone, then still wrestling with a combination of guilt and pure joy for much of the movie. Jennifer Lawrence displays a gamut of emotions, as Aurora endures different but equally brutal decisions. Michael Sheen’s robotic bartender adds enjoyable comic relief, with an accompanying touch of pathos. Lawrence Fishburn? What more need I say? He’s Lawrence Fishburn! As the movie unspooled, it reminded me of the final Futurama finale, which is a real compliment from me. Cautiously watching Passengers turned out to be an unexpected delight…the kind I can only wish happened more often.

Passengers Official Trailer

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I had originally planned to do a straightforward post about what I loved and didn’t about my Kindle Fire HD 6. I got it in the spring, and have been getting to know it for a few months. My experience so far has been awesome…and awful.

As far as the device itself goes, it’s a love love relationship. As my first tablet, it far outpaces any smartphone I’ve had in the slick, sharp, fun, and cool departments. It’s an absolute joy to use. Unlike most people I need/want smaller screens. My weird eyes need less darting about, which kept me away from tablets, until I saw a random add for a new 6″ Fire on Amazon. I was always looking for a way to paperless proofread. This Fire solved that problem for me, as I explained in this post . While that and reading with a lighted screen were the main reasons I loved it, I quickly discovered so much more.

First, it’s really nice to look at. The screen is bright and sharp. That’s saying a lot, considering how low I like to keep the brightness of my screens. The sound is good on headphones. All this formed  background for my great discovery: Amazon Instant Video. I loved that I could buy music or download what I already owned from the cloud, with the nice big cover art display and some albums coming with scrolling lyrics, but being able to watch video was an awesome extra. Even being careful with usage of my data on the Fire’s WiFi connection, I soon had the Despicable Me 2 Mini Minions Movie Collection, one of my favorite Futuramas (the one where Lord Nibbler kidnaps Fry and takes him to Eternium, where he finds out he’s needed to save the universe…with the eventual aid of Scootie-Puff Sr.), and a free extra featurette from The King’s Speech. These kept me occupied for some time.

Then it all started going south when I was browsing, and accidentally bought a Bugs Bunny season. Oops! What the heck, though. I like Bugs and friends, and it would be cool to download it to my computer to watch whenever I want. Right? Oh, so wrong. I couldn’t find a way to download it to my computer.

I had to be me missing some little something. So I went online and started digging through Help stuff. That led me to the extremely frustrating and disappointing news that the videos can not be downloaded to computers! What the–? Turns out there had been software available from Amazon that did just that…until they discontinued it shortly before I needed it! Leaving the videos only downloadable onto Amazon devices.  Streaming only on other devices.

One of those anvil to the head
moments.

It gets worse. Due to a dearth of choices, I use a limited data WiFi hotspot as my internet service. So streaming is so out. I thought downloading a few Bugs Bunny 2 episode chunks a month would be an extremely annoying solution. But no.

It gets worse again.

When I looked into the downloading options, there’s a recommendation to download the entire season immediately, because even though it’s all supposed to stay in the cloud something could happen and you’d lose access. Oookay.

Now I know that if I download it all at once it will burn through my data, and if I don’t I may lose it. The. Video. Content. I. Have. Bought. I can’t stream, due to the limited nature of my data allowance. Okay, so let’s say I decide the lesser of evils would be to just download as much as I can, as often as I can, and try to enjoy my videos I’m starting to resent.

Well, that’s a great idea! Not!

So, the more you dig into all this detaily stuff, the more you feel the quicksand start to undermine the solid ground you thought you stood on. For when you order the Fire you can get 8GB or the more expensive 16GB. I chose the former, thinking that would be plenty of space for my music, video, app, and book needs on that particular device. I still think that. Only when I was doing my Help digging did I discover that my 8GB of storage is actually a lot less than that in available storage. Now, I know quite a bit about computer stuff, but it never occurred to me that there would be that big a difference between actual storage and available storage.

Some little annoying things, like having no ability to have cool wallpaper on the lockscreen and having to actually pay extra to keep from getting ads as your lock screen image were minor annoyances, especially when I got such a great Kindle/tablet combo for such a great price. This business of needing to download a whole season of something to ensure I can keep the videos I own, yet having so little actual storage that it would crowd or firestorm what I had left after getting so many awesome free App of the Day downloads…well, frustrating is putting it lightly.

I’ve downloaded my favorites of Bugs, and may do the rest a little at a time, watch, delete, then leave them to fend for themselves in the cloud and hope they’re still there if Amazon ever decides to give us back the ability to download them to a computer. Streaming is huge now and those of us who can’t do it are going to face being left out of the, well, stream. As things stand I’m going to have to give up buying video for my Fire, when I run out of room to store it there. I’ve looked into Google Play, but they don’t allow download to computers either. I guess if I want a series on my laptop enough
I’ll have to buy it on DVD with a digital copy, and download it a little at a time. At least the only worry I’d have about the physical copy disappearing is if I lost the DVD.

I really do love my Fire HD 6″. It does a lot, beautifully, and makes my tech loving side happy. That something as “simple” as wanting to enjoy videos on it is so complicated and frustrating is more trouble than it’s worth. Almost. That gorgeous screen….

I don’t watch anywhere near as much TV as I used to. Over recent years I’ve whittled it down to a few favorites that go on for season after season, and tend to try one or two new shows a year. This time the new ones are The Crazy Ones and Almost Human, both of which I really enjoy.

The ones I’ve watched the longest from day one are Criminal Minds, the NCIS twins, Once Upon a Time, and The Big Bang Theory. Newer finds are Haven, Warehouse 13, Falling Skies, The Game of Thrones, and The Walking Dead. And I have to throw in occasional bouts of Spongebob, because that’s the perfect show to chase away minor annoyances with its goofy yellow giggles.

Futurama deserves its own special difficultified category, because I love it so much. This year brought an awesome season that they insist really was the last one. At last. I add a whispered maybe, because it’s returned from the dead before. More than once…

Um…turns out I still watch quite a lot of TV. I guess I used to watch so much that the pruned back current version seems positively sparse. It seems like less since the seasons tend to be shorter and some series are summer only or split into two separate parts of a single season.

There’s usually an episode or two of all that I watch that take an emotional toll. This year has had so many that it’s been gutwrenching.

The worst one that comes to most minds is probably The Game of Thrones’ Red Wedding. That was absolutely a shocker, though I’m not as deeply involved as most fans. I’ve never read the books and only started watching the series because Sean Bean was in it. We all know how that ended after one season. I now refer to his character as Dead Ned’s Head. I didn’t watch the most recent season for quite a long time after it aired, so I’d picked up the general drift from frenzied wailing and gnashing of teeth that blew up Twitter. Then when I watched it, I’d thought it was one episode later than it was, and blindsided myself with watching it unexpectedly. It was painful, gory, and perhaps Michelle Fairley’s finest GoT moment. If a character has to go, it’s nice when their swan song is a tour de
force.

Whether he’s Rumple or his Storybrook counterpart Mr. Gold, the baddie we’ve loved to hate has had a rough Once Upon a Time season. His journey has had enough twists and turns to make even The Dark One queasy. His reunion with Pan led to the kind of twist/reveal fest that makes TV shine, and the road that led him down made me tumble into a rabbit hole lined with alternating layers of admiration and disappointment, until he redeemed himself grandly. The final fatal twist left me horrified, though if next season’s preview was to be believed you can’t keep a great bad guy down…or doomed…for long.

NCIS did it to me twice. I was sad to see Ziva leave, but devastated when near the end of the previous season they killed off her father. I’m a huge Michael Nouri fan and always looked forward to his appearances as the complicated, sometimes difficult, always riveting Eli David. Blindsided, horrified, jawdroppingly disappointed. I kept waiting for it to turn out to be a ploy…still waiting…not really waiting anymore. Sigh.

And then there’s The Walking Dead. I didn’t start watching that until they were at the farm. Just had a chance to figure out pretty much who everyone was…in time for Sophia to go into the barn. Daryl is my favorite character there. I was impressed with Norman Reedus all the way back to Dark Harbor, and that drastically increased from watching him on The Walking Dead. It’s probably easy to see this next part coming. My second favorite character? Why Hershel, of course. By the time the fall season finale was through with me, I was left wondering if I want to continue watching a show that can hurt me so much. Ridiculous, isn’t it? To feel so devastated by the fate of a fictional character. There it is, though. Hershel put the human and the humane in what was left of humankind, as the zombie apocalypse wore on year after year. The walkers walked on and the infected living fought to live. It’s one thing to fight against herds of unknowing undead, another entirely another to go up against a broken, depraved, vulnerable, psychopath like the Governor. First the can’t look away little girl in the flashflood walker trap and then the didn’t look away fast enough brutal, grisly (senseless?) use of Hershel as a way for the Governor to discharge at least the raw, initial explosion of grief and rage over losing a second little girl to the new normal. That sequence seemed to go on and on, leaving little room for satisfaction in what came after. I’ll probably keep watching the show. It’s got a rare finger on the pulse of the place where bloody horror meets humanity at its worse…and finest. But I’ll be wary from now on, watching for the defining moments that gut me where I sit.

So it was a difficult TV year. I’ll hold out at least a little hope that 2014 will bring a little glee for Daryl and Michonne shippers, a fun and adventurous reboot for transplanted Storybrookers, and for Joffrey to fall face first into a dung heap…full of flies…with his entire kingdom watching…at the very least. However, at the same time I’ll be bracing for a not so charming ever after, for the rest of the Starks to fall into new ruin, and a new big bad that makes the Governor look like Gandhi. At least one of those shows will still manage to blindside me anyway.

I hope.

Futurama. Sigh. I have adored that animated mashup of histories past, present, and future from the moment Fry froze himself a one way trip to the far future. It makes me smile, laugh out loud, and on occasion even think.

In its odd everyman out way, Futurama provides stepping stones of pop culture and what iffy technology across the great divides separating generations. It can range from silly to poignant, with moments of intellectual sophistication. One moment it can make a viewer nostalgic for The Breakfast Club, the next wishing for a walkthrough virtual Internet, and always slightly befuddled at the way Professor Farnsworth is the young goofball Fry’s many generations worth of nephew. All while our collective Futurama loving brain carefully backs away from the pretzel twist that is Fry being his own grandpa, and thus the most important person in the universe. Impressive accomplishments for a delivery boy who eats Bachelor Chow for breakfast and lives in his bending unit bestie’s closet.

I was wary of the series finale (Is it? Is it, really?!). Sometimes the final moments of a beloved series are wonderful. Equally sometimes they are mediocre, at best. At the worst of times they make you wish you’d never started watching Los–…er, something you loved till it ruined itself for you in its final gasps, in the first place.

So, as I watched the end of Futurama, I kept second guessing it. Oh, NO! They’re actually going to kill–wait, it’s all good. Nooo! Surely they’re not going to–wait, it’s all good again. And it was. All good. Right on through the sweet and wonderful final line. And I love that it was followed by the very first episode.

Futurama–going out with style, indeed.

Until maybe, someday, possibly, perhaps we hear our beloved not quite right genius Professor announce:

Good news everyone…we’re back!

Again.

In the meantime we’ll always have Omicron Persei 8….

Sky One Futurama Promo 1999

Futurama has been, for me, one of those weird things that happens sometimes. I wasn’t crazy about it at first. Stranger yet, I did not like Bender. At all. I thought he was a little too bizarre and I didn’t like his voice. Well, now the announcement that it’s been canceled–again–is sinking in and I am not happy. Not happy at all. It didn’t take long for it to become a must see…and Bender my favorite sometimes rusty curmudgeon.

So here are some of the things I love most about it and why I’m gearing up to start to miss it while it’s still here.

1. The aforementioned sometimes rusty curmudgeon, with a well hidden heart of gold. Why, don’t you know? Bender Bending Rodriguez is fill-in-the-number % any metal that leads to a wellworn punchline. His heart may actually be gold…nah, he’d have hocked it by now. Besides…robots don’t have hearts. Or do they?

2. All things Nibbler. From the moment he ate the entire contents of the would be Ark in the guise of Planet Express Ship, then burped somewhat apologetically, he was one of my Futurama things to look forward to. Cuddly, adorable, poops space ship fuel…what’s not to love? His big eventual reveal as a highly intelligent space commander was as exciting as finding out who would end up as keeper of the Island on Lost. Too bad there wasn’t a crossover. I can just see Hurley careening through the rain forest on Scooty Puff Sr..

3. Zoidberg. The sad sack crustacean medic, with the iffy credentials, relative of Harold Zoid, forgotten silent moviestar. One of the best parody eps they did was when Zoidberg’s intended took a shine to Fry and they engaged in a sight gag riddled fight to the death a la Original Star Trek’s classic Amok Time. Zoidberg is so altogether ookie he could fit right in between Uncle Fester and Cousin It at an Adams Family dinner, but he can still make you want to give him a hug. As long as you don’t startle him. Ink is so hard to get out of clothes.

4. All those in jokes on pop culture. My favorites: The actual Star Trek episode, with all the original characters including most of the real actor’s voices, and the addition of…”Welshie!” Plus the robot asylum, with Nurse Ratchett in charge, and robot Mad Hatter screaming “Change places!” constantly and making poor, misdiagnosed not a robot Fry spill his oil-for-lunch. Priceless!

5. They took on serious social issues sometimes too. Things like prejudice against cyclops Leela and her sewer dwelling parents, and greedy land development when Amy’s dad wanted to decimate a planet for a golf course.

6. My singlemost favorite thing about Futurama has been the clever oneliners. Like the old lady land lady “You young whatchacallit…idiot!”. Fry’s adamant “Oh, no, I won’t’nt!”. Even the Professor’s befuddled “Wha–?” makes me smile. And the brain twisters that can make me laugh long after I first hear them. The best one ever was the game title “World of World War II 3”.

7. Tinny Tim, the robot street urchin straight out of a Dickens Christmas…if Dickens had envisioned a robot London. Complete with crutch and pitiful, starving sigh.

7. The very concept of Robot Santa just slays me. Pun intended. A jolly old metal elf run amuck, weapons blazing…with a missle launcher that fires toys in projectile form at terrified children. Hmm. Wonder if Tinny Tim’s leg injury was from a well aimed bicycle launch.

8. Calculon and All My Circuits.

9. The Robot Mafia. Clamps!

10. Kiff and Amy.

And much, much more.

I hope they do a proper series finale, if it’s really canceled this time. Will Bender come down with roberculosis for real? Will Zoidy get a life? Can Fry get, and keep, the cyclops of his dreams? Or will they all hold in place, waiting like I will be for it to get uncancelled again?

Will I ever not miss new episodes of Futurama? Oh, no. I won’t’nt!

Articles like this are a word-filled goldmine for me. Immediately following that bold statement comes my confession that in no way do I understand a large portion of it. I start reading, and soon detect imminent brain implosion.

While I am endlessly fascinated by science, I have no delusions of being a scientist. That’s why what I love to read and write is called science fiction. Science fiction is born out of real life scientific discoveries, prototypes, and ideas extrapolated into future permutation– The reality is that it’s a way fun game of what if, triggered by whatever may be a budding reality or mere gleam in the minds of people with great big brains.

Nobody ever told me how to do it. Somewhere along the way my brain started thinking extrapolation was what it wants most to do. Honestly, I think it comes easiest to worriers. Let’s face it. Worrying is the ultimate, inherent game of what if. Chicken Little taught it to us as children. What if the sky falls? What if that impertinent asteroid decides to hit us in February? What if we have a secret colony of monkey astronauts on the moon poised to shoot it off its expected orbit with bananas gnawed into delicious pointy salvation missles? Anything is possible with enough imagination and a goofy sense of humor.

So I read stuff and watch stuff and absorb stuff. If I don’t understand every nuance of the science, I get the gist. Several things in this article leapt out at my particular imagination, my sense of humor, and the rubbery, expandable corner of my mind where worry lives.

–The first was the term “propellantless propulsion”. I understand what it means, but it made me laugh. It sounds like something Professor Farnsworth would say on Futurama. One of those nonsensical terms he tosses out like a too skinny Robot Santa from an Xmas parade float.

–The idea of solar sails is fascinating. I first encountered it in an episode of Star Trek: Deep Space 9, involving a father and son journey powered by solar sail. The conceptualization was beautiful, as was the bonding experience. There is no reason ships that sail the depths of space cannot be things of beauty. Just as there’s no reason mere concepts cannot be realized, given enough time, imagination, and technological advancement.

–Continuing the Star Trek theme, I am intrigued by the idea that this solar sail launch would carry some of the cremated remains of The Great Bird of the Galaxy himself, Gene Roddenberry, and his wife Majel Roddenberry. As a long time admirer of their work, I think it’s incredibly touching that technology has advanced to a point that it can actually take them boldly into space. Not many of us can follow our dreams quite so literally.

–And the idea that solar sails may someday be able to help warn us of dangerous near earth objects is reassuring. Just because scientists are certain the upcoming encounter will be but a near miss does not mean they all will be. It seems to me that events like the one depicted in the movie Deep Impact are inevitable, over the long course of earth’s history. I feel better knowing that technological advances are constantly finding ways to keep the sky from literally falling another day.

So from this one article I got an unintended laugh, a bit of relief from the minor worry that distant objects we don’t even know exist may have us in their sights, information about new and improved upon scientific discoveries and advancements that may find its way into my fiction and my dreams, and a reminder that reaching for the stars is never foolish. Even death can’t keep the boldest dreamers tethered to the earth at their feet.

Like most other people I knew little about Nikola Tesla for a long time. Then I discovered The History Channel, and watched it obsessively until it all but stopped running documentaries in favor of the current fascination with pawn shops, alligators, and swamp dwellers, though it does still occasionally obsess on chocolate like the rest of us.

Once I stumbled across a doc about Tesla partway through and kept catching reruns until I’d seen it all. What a fascinating man. He was good looking too. In a wild brained mad scientist kind of way.

Some of his more out there ideas at first made my eyes go round with a sort of skeptical awe, but then I realized he just might have been on to something. More than once.

The prospect of electricity flying through the air instead of wires  back in his day could have been a huge innovation. Just think of all those new fangled mod cons like the radio, refrigerator, and that shining example of fancy show offiness…the light bulb…performing their technological magic (gasp!) wirelessly! It would have been awesome.

I’m not sure what it would have been in the iPod generation. We use so much electricity now, I’m afraid Mr. Tesla’s grand plan would have given us all unwanted Einstein hair, or toasted our bread while it was still in the wrapper. Considering Tesla’s genius, it could have worked flawlessly into the 21st century, for all I know. Unfortunately, we’ll never actually know.

The death ray that would share story with his electricity-shooting towers in a planned awesome sounding movie is a little more worrying. Due to the words DEATH RAY!

This article covers that as well as efforts to save Wardenclyff, the site of much of his work.

I mean, how cool could it be to have electricity, without the pesky wires, if you have to worry that the man responsible for making your life so great could also be responsible for the possibility it could all be taken away? There would always be some kook, or multiples of kooks, out there hearing a gravelly voice sounding suspiciously like Bender, Futurama’s lovable robot with the unlovable desire to “kill all humans”, telling them to do just that.

I can’t think of any situation where even potential access to a death ray wouldn’t turn Mister Spock three shades of greener green. A nightmare of a good of the many vs the few or the one scenario decision, waiting to happen.

But, yeah, all that could make for a great movie in the right hands. Beyond that, though, I hope the old Tesla lair is preserved and used to educate the masses about science and the man whose genius labored in quiet, desperate obscurity to change the world.