31 March 2008

Shape of Things to Come

I have been a fan of science fiction since I was a kid. Not just "Oh, I'm a kid and I love science fiction." No; rather: I want to learn what the world of science fiction has to offer the world of today. What are the great creative minds thinking about the way things are and they way they could be?

Will things be fun and interesting like "2001: A Space Odyssey"? Will they be oppressive like "Things to Come" (pictured)? Will they be boring and routine then, the way life is boring and routine now?

While I stopped reading science fiction a long time ago, I still watch as much science fiction as I can -- especially the good stuff. The original "Star Trek"? I grew up with it. "Space: 1999"? Not good, but interesting. (How wrong can you go with Barbara Bain?) "UFO"? Campy, but, again, interesting. "Doctor Who"? Could never get into it. "Torchwood"? Not really science fiction, per se, but it has some intriguing ideas, and an endless parade of cute guys. How bad can that be?

This brings me to a link featuring
The 10 Most Prophetic Sci-Fi Movies Ever. It purports to list the films that best guessed what the future would be like. Well, okay; but I never looked at science fiction as trying to guess what the future would be like; rather, I always thought of it as the launching pad for way out ideas becoming real.

In other words, a science fiction novel featuring video telephones does not "prophesize" a future with video telephones, it provides an idea for someone to say: "Hey, wait: We have technology that could combine a telephone with a video monitor and create the same thing this science fiction novel is describing. Let's make one of those!"

All of these ray guns, robots and wall-sized televisions have become real because someone read about it or saw it in a movie and had the skill to make it real. It wasn't a guess, it was an inspiration.

Giant animated billboards covering the entire sides of buildings? We can do that. Cars that levitate? We can do that (I think). Food made out of people? We could do that, but let's not.

27 March 2008

Phoenix Going Global!

Hey! Remember last week when I wrote about the really keen Earth Hour? Well, today I found out that Phoenix is one of the flagship cities! How cool is that?

We are planning on turning off our lights Saturday night at 8:00 p.m. -- inside and out. We will also turn off every electric thing we can, and play Scrabble by candlelight. Doesn't that sound great?

23 March 2008

The Death of Credits

Like YouTube before it, now Matt has gotten me hooked on Hulu -- the new television show and movie site operated by NBC, News Corp and Twentieth Century-Fox.

Both of these sites have given me the opportunity to revisit some of the great television programs of my youth (the 1960s and 1970s). Back then, these programs seemed quirky; but now, when compared to the crap coming from Hollywood, they are like Kandinsky paintings hung among the art of third graders.

While looking through Hulu today, I started noticing just how much different television programs were then. Aside from the obvious that they were so much better written, the title sequences actually have theme music, credits, and show you something about the program.

I was surprised by how many of these title sequences were animated -- like the examples shown (click to enlarge). Wow! There was some real talent involved in their creation. Whatever happened to that?

I realize the average intelligence level of viewers has plummeted (boy, was Edward R. Murrow right), and that television is all about money, with no regard to art (can you say "reality shows"?); but it is most sad that opening credits last only about four seconds and say nothing about the cast or the show. Other than the name, most are interchangeable, which is pretty sad.

[All four of these photographs belong to shows I watched in my childhood. Can you name them? Three of them can be found on Hulu.]

18 March 2008

One Hour

Here's a great idea: show your support for the planet by turning off your lights for an hour.

That's the plan behind
Earth Hour -- a global event planned for 29 March to, as the website says, "take a stand against the greatest threat our planet has ever faced ... global warming."

I think that's pretty cool.

15 March 2008

We're Going to the Zoo!

We love animals. We love zoos. We especially love our Phoenix Zoo.

Here's a picture of me petting a goat today in the Petting Zoo section. Aren't animals neat?

Find out more about our neat Phoenix Zoo here.

14 March 2008

06 March 2008

Water, Helen: Water!

The New England Historic Genealogical Society recently released this photograph from 1888. It is believed to be the earliest photograph of Helen Keller and her teacher Annie Sullivan.

The thing I find most incredible is a comment from Thaxter Spencer, the photograph's original owner. Regarding the possible importance of the photograph, Spencer said "I never thought much about it. It just seemed like something no one would find very interesting."

When will people ever come to realize the importance of paper ephemera -- especially something like this?

You can read more about the amazing discovery here.

02 March 2008

March of the Flowers

Our backyard is awash in flowers. That seems to happen whenever we get a "normal" amount of rainfall from October through February. That doesn't always happen; but it did this year.

We normally have tons of California Poppies and Bachelor's Buttons. This year, we have few of those for some reason, but we do have tons of African Daisies. Those are great.

We also have an assortment of flowers that we cannot identify. Most are small, like the one in the photograph (click to enlarge). I have no idea what this is, but we get them every wet year. For the first time I noticed the tiny flower -- about half an inch tall. It looks like a little orchid! Do you know what kind of flower this is? I would love to know.