Books for Soldiers

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December 29, 2005


Shhh... don't tell anyone. You can view the Fenslerfilms GI Joe PSAs on Google!

Keep it under your hat.

G.I. Joe PSA - Google Video

Posted by sferrell at 4:11 PM

"Pass the Chronic-What?!-cles of Narnia!"

Instant Notoriety for a Rap Video From Saturday Night Live - New York Times

Check out the "Lazy Sunday" video here.

Posted by sferrell at 11:18 AM

December 19, 2005

If I were on Evangelion... who would I be?

Which Evangelion Child Are You?

Posted by sferrell at 10:41 AM

December 16, 2005

First, the good news... no, wait, the bad news... no, the good... wait... huh?

Enterprisemirror.jpgI don't know how I feel about this. A STAR TREK movie based in the Mirror Universe starring three of the captains (Kirk, Picard and Archer)? Why weren't Janeway and Sisko available? Perhaps they saw the handwriting on the wall, or they had to babysit.

Let me just say this: You have to look really hard to find a bigger Trek fan than me. Now let me say this: This movie could be one of the worst ideas I've ever heard. Now... let me finish with this: but it could also work.

I was thrown at the end of the ST: Enterprise run that they did episodes set in the Mirror Universe which sat by themselves, no connection at all to the main mythology, almost like an alternate series (I did enjoy them, especially the recreation of the show's opening titles to reflect the dictatorial/imperialistic attitude of the Mirror Universe's show). More than anything, those episodes, and this rumor of a Mirror Universe film (if true) reveal the reality that the STAR TREK universe has become very stale as a result of such a long history. So much of the reality has been thoroughly developed that there is not much wiggle room. One of the things that allows shows like Law and Order or ER to continue for as long as they have is that they are procedural, not necessarily character driven or dependent upon actual plot (there will always be killers, "Who did it?"; there will always be car accidents, "Will she survive?") Star Trek relies on character development, transformation of humanity into a better society, and the linkages of different cultures into a peaceful environment. In short, Law and Order and ER can continue because they don't have to evolve--STAR TREK, by its very nature, must evolve or reveal a hypocrisy. The fact that the creators may take it into the Mirror Universe exposes this, and shows that without a large number of years between Enterprise and any other possible series, we simply won't have any good stories to tell. The only possible TREK series I could even think of right now would effectively be "Firefly", a show set after the demise of the Federation. And I can't imagine they would undermine 30 years of programming (after all, the death of the Federation would be tantamount to admitting the failure of the entire culture of openness and trust) just to get another four or five years of shows out of the label "Star Trek."

‘Star Trek’ Captains to Team Up? ::

Posted by sferrell at 12:47 PM

December 9, 2005

Cartman... er... Knoxville should be funny in this.

Did you hear about the story of the guy who pretends to be handicapped so that he can get into the Special Olympics and kick ass? Now I know that South Park did it first, but when you have a chance to see someone act like an ass in real life, don't you want it to be Johnny Knoxville? Yeah, I do to.

I just hope that he has a moment where someone asks his name and he says, "Daaar... KNOXVILLE!!!" - Farrelly brothers take on Special Olympics - Dec 9, 2005

Posted by sferrell at 4:03 PM

book review: "The Man Who Japed" by Philip K. Dick

japed.jpg The Man Who Japed (Vintage): Books: Philip K. Dick
Philip K. Dick has always amazed me. Not just for his imagination, which, if you take a certain point of view, was somewhat limited, but for his prescience and philosophy. Let me explain.

To a certain degree many of PKD's books are the same: disenfranchised man comes across something which trips up his understanding of reality and while he unravels the mystery of a simple "whodunit" discovers that there's an even greater "Whodunit" involving higher powers. There's nothing wrong with these boilerplate plotlines--he was, after all, a pulp writer and had to churn out stories by the truck load if he wanted to pay the electric bill. However, what this does do is raise the question, if he's got such a standard plot outline in so many of his books, why does he continue to have such a following? "The Man Who Japed" is one book which helps answer this question.

As I said, it's primarily his prescience and his philosophy that draw readers in and keep them. Like so many of his protagonists, PKD was looking behind the curtain to find out what made reality reality (or in some cases, what made unreality reality). In so doing he shaped worlds which sometimes reflected his own, sometimes were comically different, and sometimes were darkly, sadly, accurately satiric. The Man Who Japed offers us this last vision. In this book Earth has been ravaged by war, is left with a population which stoically refuses to leave despite better options on other planets, and sits as the centerpiece of a human colonization program which looks back on Earth as a moral compass despite the fact that it offers much less in the way of lifestyle and freedom than any of its colonies. Politics is not so much underlying choices in fundamental connections to reality as it is the surface message and presentation, and morality is controlled through language and media. In short, it's a metaphor for the United States. This is PKD's prescience. Despite this book's age (it was written in 1956) it stands alongside our (the reader's) era, no matter what era it is. I was struck as I was reading by the homage to our current political environment, the use of media to control thought, the un-1984-ishness of this "Big Brother" in looking over your shoulder with a smile on his face. PKD presents a morality which is McCarthy, Nixon, Reagan, or Bush. It's the exporting of our ideals, which leaves us with nothing but empty husks.

This ability to paint a picture which reflects and comments on every age isn't his only ability; PKD also melds his philosophy to his writing in a clear and human way: subversion breeds freedom. PKD's heros all have one thing in common. They swim upstream. Sometimes they swim upstream only to find it was actually downstream. Sometimes it's the opposite. Whichever way they try to go, PKD invariably pulls the rug out from under them (here its the main character "Purcell" creating an alias when he goes to a shrink, only to wake up one day to find that he's in reality the alias) and us. He challenges his characters, and thereby us, to question what is real. To have a reader ask what is "really happening" while their nose is in a book is the mark of a skilled writer. What's "really happening" is that I was on a subway train reading words... or is it? Asking so much of his readers, trusting that they may "get" the message, or they may simply enjoy the adventure, makes him a favorite of many.

Thankfully, it's kept him in print. For us, and for the next generation, who will probably find that he's still, sadly, commenting on their reality.

Posted by sferrell at 10:07 AM

December 6, 2005

What's that smell?

Oh, it must be the future, demanding to be let in now. This is, of course, the future where you watch TV on your own time, a la carte, for roughly $2 a show. It's the future where you don't really need to get cable (once the quality goes up to TV quality downloads) because you only really want to watch this or that show. It's the future where cable steps back into the shadows, free transmitted television begins to dry up or become like the free daily papers you see handed out for free on New York City Streets everymorning (all ads, with tiny tiny little news stories like "Prez. Bush Did Something Today"). It's the future where you purchase what you want, not what they think you want. It's the future where experimentation is gone. It's the future where viral marketing will be how pilots are used, and only the most popular will be picked up for production. It's the future where people will begin to create their own television series in their basements and use "self-publishing" formats on TV.

It's the future, and it will be televised.

NBC offers shows for download on iTunes - Tech News & Reviews -

Posted by sferrell at 3:46 PM