matrix

Looking Ahead at Season Three of Chuck

chuck-1Zachary Levi sat down for an interview about season three of Chuck.  Some of the answers were most amusing and others were quite revealing about what we can expect in season three.

  • The 13 episode arc is tightly written and wont be changed
  • The 6 additional episodes will be a mini arc in it’s own.  Informed by the previous arc but not part of a bigger arc.
  • There will be some international travel in season 3.
  • Chuck will be more a part of the action like a Neo from the Matrix but he is a flawed superhero.  He will kick butt at times but the intersect can fritz out when Chuck’s emotions get the better of him.
  • They will play more with who Chuck is.  I love the tension between Chuck the good guy and the spy who has to lie and do darker things.

One of the cool things in the writing is that it’s noted that Chuck is becoming better and better at lying, which is good and bad. He’s losing himself in this world of espionage a little too well sometimes. Much to the chagrin of Sarah, who really likes Chuck for Chuck and doesn’t want him to lose who he is. I don’t think Chuck wants to lose who he is either, although he does want this spy life because it’s something that gives his life meaning and purpose outside of fixing people’s computers.

(via Slice of SciFi)

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Brian's Top 10 Movies

It's very hard to pick only 10 movies so I went with the top 10 but at the moment that I would pick:

  1. star-wars-yoda-lightsaberStar Wars all of them:  Big fan of the setting, story, and myth.
  2. The Matrix Collection: The great way this series gets one to give a second look at the systems that they exist in, how to bend the rules and evolve.
  3. Transformers: (80's animated and the live action one)  Giant Robots Fun
  4. Harry Potter films:  what a wonderful story arc, the books are better
  5. Star Trek in particular Star Trek 2 The Wrath of Khan
  6. The Day the Earth Stood Still
  7. Serenity
  8. V for Vendetta:  the political exploration and the exploration of the power of symbolism and symbols.
  9. Planet of the Apes: the 1968 version it's a great social exploration.
  10. Frank Herbert's Dune: kind of a fudge because it aired on TV but I watch all of them as a long movie

What are your top 10 movies at this moment?

See John The Rogue Demon Hunter’s top 10 picks here

Aliens in the Attic UK trailer

This is going to be a goofy movie and possibly overly kidsy, but this trailer made me laugh hard.

Aliens in the Attic was written by a writer from Madagascar and another from Wallace and Gromit.  It looks like an homage comedy hearkening back to CHUD with aliens that look like the cute, minor, monster aliens from Galaxy Quest.

You have to watch this trailer for one thing:

Doris Roberts in a remote controlled Matrix-style fight to Eye of the Tiger!

The Fan Spectrum

February last year, I posted for the first time about the Three Types of SF Fans.  Reactions were mixed.  I have thought about it a lot, and I have realized that their are not really three types of SF fans, these are actually parts of a spectrum.

Fans of the Spectacle

Fans who are interested in action and special effects, typically of Space Opera, Disaster/Monster/Action Movies, usually watches movies, some series, rarely reads the books.

These fans are on the coldest end of the spectrum.  They are only interested in being entertained, and simply do not think too much about what they are watching.  Think about your friends who thought the Matrix was just a great action movie with cool special effects.  You know the ones who didn't see all the questions about the nature of reality and how we perceive it.  They are fans of spectacle.

The studios have geared their films more towards this type of fan because there are more of them and they are easier to please.

Admit it though, we all started here.  We may have been young, but each and every one of us first got into Speculative Fiction be we enjoyed the spectacle.  For me, it was dragons and vampires.

This is the first stage of development of every fan.  Our job is to move more people into the second and third phase.

Fans of the Specifics

Tom Cruise as Lestat in the 1994 film Intervie...
Image via Wikipedia

Fans who are interested in the nitty-gritty details and their accuracy or consistency.Typically of Hard Scifi, Military Scifi, and High Fantasy, usually reads the books, watches the series, and nit-picks the movies

For many Scifi fans, this shift happened with Star Trek or Star Wars.  For Fantasy Fans, it is usually Lord of the Rings, and for Horror Fans it was either The Vampire Chronicles or Mayfair Witches by Anne Rice or Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Many fan bases stagnate here and die off.  The Studios have started blaming continuity and consistency for their financial short comings, thus the spate of remakes, reboots, and the dread re-imaginings that crop up every year.

Yes, it is easier to write a story when you don't have to worry about consistency or continuity, but they are not better stories.  They are just different.

To move a fan from Spectacle to Specifics, find something in a setting or character they like, and talk to them about it.  Encourage them to grow in their fascination, and soon they will delve into the setting more fully, and the spectral shift will happen.

Fans of the Story

Fans who are interested in the story, the characters, and Typically Soft Scifi and Sociological Fantasy, usually reads or watches the series, and watches the movies.

For Fans of the Specifics, the changes George Lucas made to the original Star Wars Trilogy and the prequels went too far.  Fans of the Story were able to see how these changes improved and tightened the narrative.

Fans of the Story are few in numbers, but they are the heart blood of fandom.  They write/perform the filk, the fan fiction, and fanfilms.  They make the fan art, run the conventions, and strive to keep SF on the straight and narrow.

It isn't easy to move from being a fan of Specifics to a fan of Story.  For this shift to happen, the fan has to see the complete series as a seamless whole.  They have to learn how to see past the trees to the forest.  There is no easy way to happen or to bring this about.

When it does happen, it is like magic.  Most of us have had this shift happen for at least one franchise.  Think about the one series that is closest to your heart.  The one you seek out every little tidbit of information about.  For that story, you are a fan of the Story.

Spectral Shift

It is not easy to ask people to make these shifts, or to help other move through the spectrum, but it is vital if fan culture has any chance of surviving.  So for the next thirty days:

  • Introduce your friends to filk.
  • Have a movie night at your house and show a fanfilm.
  • Start a role playing group and uses your favorite setting.
  • Start having friends over to watch your favorite shows.
  • Help just one person find a new series, book, or movie that they will fall head or heels in love with.

If we all do our part, fandom has a long and beautifyl future.

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JMS on Forbidden Planet, World War Z, Lensmen and Last Words

J.
Image via Wikipedia

J. Michael Straczynski has given us a bunch of updates:

Forbidden Planet

I'm on draft two of Forbidden Planet, and the process is going well, very exciting stuff, and I hope I can talk about some of that in more detail soonish (JMSNews).

While I am not a big fan of remakes, if anyone could make this movie right, it's Joe.  Rumors persist that the new Forbidden Planet will be a trilogy explaining what happened to the Krell.  I cannot wait to learn more.

World War Z

About to make the final touches to World War Z, then with any luck we can get this thing into pre-productoin also soonish (JMSNews).

I am a little tired of Zombie movies.  The book was good and the audiobook was better.  I am curious how they are going to do the film.

Lensmen

Draft One of Lensman is in, now working on draft two (JMSNews).

The Lensmen is E. E. Smith's Space Opera masterpiece which defined an entire genre.  The very notion of the creator of Babylon 5 working on what will hopefully be to first film in the series makes me as giddy as a kid on Christmas Eve.  Note to Hollywood: Green light this film!

Ninja Assassin

There have been a couple of previews for Ninja Assassin, and the audience scores have been just terrific. I have a suspicion that this is going to do very well (JMSNews) .

This is the next film from the Wachowski brothers who made The Matrix, V for Vendetta, and Speed Racer.  Need I say any more?

Last Words

The pilot script for Last Words has gone in to Dreamworks, and they're very very pleased with the script. So we'll see where this goes (JMSNews).

Wait a minute... Joe + Dreanworks + pilot = awesome series I need to see.

Other News

Interestingly, due to all the writing work, I've lately begun to be offered directing gigs, most of it in the SF genre (natch). Nothing has grabbed me enough yet to want to tackle it, but we'll see what the future holds. A couple of studios have extended the offer for me to write and direct my own stuff, which is pretty cool.

My agent has forbidden me to take on any other screenplay assignments until March/April, but some projects have begun to circle Casa Straczynski of late, looking for an open place to land when an opening comes. Some very cool stuff on the horizon (JMSNews).

Anything I get from Joe, I am ready to go.  Great news all around.

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Project: Shadow Manifesto

Project: Shadow Logo To mark the 10 year anniversary of the Project: Shadow Manifesto, we thought it was time to overhaul it again, but this time to open up the project to all of the like-minded fans out there who are tired of the status quo, and who are hungry for something new. Brian and I drafted the original Project: Shadow Manifesto in 1999 as an outline we saw in professional publishing.  The original draft was heavy on problems, light on vision, and even lighter on solutions.  We took years investigating the limited options available at the time, built the original Project: Shadow, and I started writing.

In 2004, we revised the manifesto, and re-launched Project: Shadow.  The new draft focused on the solutions possible through new technologies.  The world/culture presented us with newer challenges.


We are fans.

We love our music, stories, characters, and settings. We know about what we love. We participate in what we love. We support what we love. What we love supports us.

At heart, a fan is not someone who enjoys a movie, a song, a band, a book, or a show.  A fan feels an intense connection with the object of their love.  Fans decorate their homes, offices, and desktops with items that announce their allegiance with their favorite bands, movies, shows, and books.

The problem with our popular culture is that it doesn’t blink at a sports fan wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with their favorite team, or even a replica jersey, but wear a Star Wars shirt or dress like a goth and they think they have the right to mock you.

What is the difference between a fan wearing a jersey to a game or fan bringing a light saber to a movie?  Or for that matter, what is the difference between a sports fan painting themselves up to go tailgating or a fan dressing as their favorite character at a convention?

Perception.  Pop Culture has classified sports fans as acceptable and speculative fiction fans as geeky.  I have to say, it is just as geeky to now all of the stats for everyone who has ever played for a particular sports franchise as it is to know the stats for every creature in the Monster Manual.  The only real difference is one fan accepts they are a geek, and the other pretends their geekiness is proof they are a jock.

The disapproval is the least of the problems facing today’s fan.

From Storytellers to Copyright

Problem: People are natural storytellers.  We hear a story, embellish it, and pass it on.

Solution: We tell each other stories, sing songs, write books, make videos, and create art to share these stories with each other.

Every story we tell is not original.  We like to tell the same stories over and over.  We borrow stories from any where and retell them in our own vernacular.  It is intrinsic to who and what we are to share stories with each other.

Problem: The only constant in the world is change.

Solution: We ask ourselves the question, "What if," and share the answer with each other.

Problem: Artists and Writers need to make a living singing their songs, writing their books, making their videos, and creating their art.

Solution: We establish systems of Copyright.

The Cultural Cycle

Before the era of Copyright, stories, heroes, melodies, and lyrics belonged to the people.  Stories were told, and retold.  Numerous visions of each story competed against each other.  The best were remembered, collected, retold, embellished, and built upon.  The rest were forgotten.

Who told the first story about Hercules? Or Jason? or Troy?  Who started the legends of King Arthur? or Beowulf?  The first tales and their countless reiterations have been lost, but the best, most iconic stories survived.

Of all of Shakespeare’s plays, only a few comedies have no obvious sources, and even they rely upon well established patterns and archetypes.

This is the Cultural Cycle that keeps important stories alive.  Each generation must retell the tales of the preceding generations in their own context to keep them relevant.  This cycle has been broken.

  • Problem: Companies lobby to prevent Intellectual Property from reentering the commons of the culture.
  • Problem: Companies control the instruments of culture, making it harder to engage culture creatively.
  • Solution: Fans retell these stories as not for profit tales, films, and  songs.
  • Solution: Fans organize themselves into clubs and conventions.

These solutions are are not enough.  Fanfiction and film relies on the good will of the copyright holders and the fact that the fans do not make money from their works to slip through the thinnest of loop hole in copyright.  As a result, pop culture is unaware of the cultural developments and retelling of these new stories.  The subculture may be enriched by them, but the culture as a whole is not.

The Creative Commons and the Cult of the Dollar

Problem: Publishers and producers focus more on the commercial and popular value of a work, and the creative energy of the work suffers.  Readers/viewers will not become fans, and fans will not continue to accept passionless works of Speculative Fiction.

Solution: Placing honesty over consumerism, we fans must stake out our own home to create and share the works we love.  We must stand between the darkness and the light:  This is the purpose of Project: Shadow.

Problem: The Companies and Rights holders lashed out against the fair use of their properties.

Problem: Some Rights Holders have lulled fandom into a false sense of security by not suing and even encouraging those who produce fanworks

Creative Commons is one of many proposed solutions to this problem.  Others have lobbied for copyright reform.  Neither of these is a solution to the problems.

Copyright reform is a doomed enterprise while corporate lobbyists have the power they do over the congress.  While it is a goal to work for, it is just not realistic in the short term.

Creative Commons is closer to a solution, but the adoption rate has not been sufficient to even start chipping away at the problem.

The reason Creative Commons is an uphill battle is that it is a major evolution in the way rights holders handle permissions to use their work, and exists without an intermediary form.  Existing rights holders have not adopted it because they are unwilling to give up all the rights entailed under Creative Commons.

I approached the Creative Commons Foundation with a proposal for a Fan Works License:

Some of the rights holders I have talked to are reluctant to use the CC because they are concerned they are giving up too many rights to their works.  A Fan Works License would allow rights holders to clearly state what they will allow others to do with their characters, content, and settings.

It would be a bit more complicated than a standard CC, stating whether others may make original text, video, music, or art projects based on their works.  It would also allow them to set the content rating they would allow fan works to have.  This could be aligned with the MPAA ratings or the ESRB ratings system or an original system.  The reason for this is so a young adult novelist could set a max rating of PG-13, allowing others to know what standards they would apply to determine whether a fan work is legitimate or not.

The other terms would be the same as in the standard CC.

You may not think something like this is necessary, but the current state of fan works is hazy.  While few have been sued in the last couple years, at any time, rights holders could decide to start suing again.  By creating a license that covers works with the same characters and settings rather than a particular book or movie, I believe we could get more rights holders to use the license to allow for the creation of fan works, which is a step on the road to open up works to the commons.

They responded with a simple, “CC probably isn't going to be expanding the license offerings, and in fact, over the past few years CC has been reducing the number of licenses.”

I do not believe that a fanwork or Creative Commons license is the ultimate solution, but as a possible stepping stone toward an open culture.

Progressive Speculative Fiction

  • Problem: Modern and Post-modern fiction is antithetical to hope, imagination, and community
  • Problem: Success is easier through snark, hate, and discrimination.
  • Solution: We will promote, support and create Progressive Speculative Fiction.

What is Progressive Speculative Fiction?

Progressive Speculative Fiction is a story told in any medium which has a "What if" at its core and is filled with hope for the future and promotes a sense of community.

How can disaster fiction be progressive?

Watch a Godzilla movie or either The Day the Earth Stood Stills.  If there is nothing worth saving, then there is no tragedy.  The heroes must at least try to save someone or something worth saving.

How can horror be progressive?

Watch nearly any horror film made prior to 1990 or for the best example read The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker or anything by Anne Rice.  If life is not worth living or there is nothing worth defending, where is the horror.  If life is worthless, then death is merely a release from a nightmare.  There is nothing scary about it.  If there is no free will, nothing is lost by imprisonment or possession.  If sanity is not worth preserving, why bother.

What works are Progressive Speculative Fiction?

There are too many to mention all of them, but to offer a spectrum:

Just to name a few.

Mythos

  • Problem: The word "Myth" has become a marketing term.

Homogenized works are released more often by the industry every year.  Focus groups and market analysis have replaced quality work, but since the cultural cycle is broken, industry has no alternative.  It is safer to release works like the ones that sold last year than it is to seek out new talent/ideas that would be more of a risk.

They know what the fans want.  We want myths, stories that speak to us on a deep level while entertaining us.  Myths are hard to make.  It is easy to add in a wizard or a starship and call it mythology.  Fans see through it, but the masses are looking for little more than sex, violence, and humor.  Speculative Fiction has been watered down to little more than:

  • imitation space opera
  • knock-off cyberpunk
  • repackaging of the rings
  • martial arts boom-boom
  • torture porn

They, then, wrap it in a shiny box, slap the word myth, saga, legend, or reboot on it, and wait for the masses to spend their money on it... and they usually do.

We do not need another company driven by profit margins, or another author whose self-important propaganda obscures the art.

We need writers and artists that love what they are doing.

We need fans who are not afraid to speak their minds.

We need places in our towns/cities and online where we can meet and share the few gems that we find from the industry and from the independent artist, writers, and filmmakers who are still following their bliss rather than the dollar.

That is why we are here.  Project:  Shadow and dashPunk will provide a platform for writers, artists, filmmakers and fans to “follow their bliss.”  We are dedicated to finding and promoting the best Speculative Fiction out there: the little/well known writers, filmmakers, artists and works, fostering their talents, and helping them to not only follow their hearts, but to share that vision with others.

But we cannot do it alone!

Fandom Strikes Back

  • Solution:  We must seek out and support the writers, artists, and producers that encourage and support fan works.
  • Solution:  We must get writers, artists, and producers on the record about their position regarding fan works.
  • Solution: We must live according to our values of hope, imagination, and community.
  • Solution: We must build a community around hope, imagination, and community, and reject the rote cynicism that defines the faux-fandom that loves to tear things down rather than build things up.
  • Solution: We must spread the stories, videos, songs, and art that speak to us.

Together, We can make dashPunk and Project: Shadow more than an idea or a website, but a vibrant community of fans who share the things we love with each other.

Together, we can make it easier to find and share the things we love and find new things to love.

Together, we can build a community of fans who support and engage one another for our mutual benefit.

Alone, none of us can stand up to the corporate powers who control the music, video, text, and art that we love, but together, our voice will be heard.

Fandom is a vibrant culture with its own music (filk), events (conventions), games, and myths.  Until now, we have gathered periodically, or in disparate groups. 

Now is the time to bring the great multitude of fan bases together.

Now is your time!  Copy this Manifesto.  Print it, post it, email it, share it!  Tell a friend, and most importantly Make your voice heard.

Download

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Creative Commons License Project: Shadow Manifesto by Project: Shadow is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License. Based on a work at dashpunk.com. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://dashpunk.com/about/.

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Speculative Fiction BOX Sets Limited Time Deals

OMG I love Christmas, and Amazon made it even easier to give this year.  They have put out some excellent must own SF box sets at prices that are practically a give away.  The only catch is that the deals are limited time only so if you are thinking on doing this don’t procrastinate!

  • get your copy of sg-1 Stargate SG-1 - The Complete Series Collection $99.99:  This show rules!  I have the first three seasons but had to get this one when I saw the deal imagine paying less than $2 per DVD full of Stargate goodness!.  Stargate SG-1 Season 1, Season 2,  Season 3, Season 4, Season 5, Season 6, Season 7, Season 8, Season 9, Season 10,  Disc 51 includes: Ark of Truth Promo, Continuum Promo, "Stargate SG-1: The Lowdown (SG-1 Season 7)", From Stargate to Atlantis: The Lowdown (SG-1 Season 8 & Atlantis Season 1), Behind the Stargate: Secrets Revealed (SG-1 Season 8 & Atlantis Season 1), Disc 52 includes: "Sci Fi Inside: Stargate SG-1's 200th Episode (SG-1 Season 10)", "Behind the Mythology of Stargate SG-1 (SG-1 Seasons 1-10)", Stargate SG-1: True Science, Disc 53 includes: **Season Three, Timeline to the Future, Part 1: Legacy of the Gate, Part II: Secrets of the Gate, Part III: Beyond the Gate, **Season Four, SG-1 Video Diary: Teryl Rothery, "Stargate SG-1 Season 5: Gateway to Adventure ", Stargate SG-1: The 100th Episode, **Season Five: SG-1 Video Diary: Don S. Davis, **Season Six: SG-1 Directors Series: Smoke and Mirrors", SG-1 Directors Series: The Changeling, SG-1 Directors Series: Memento, SG-1 Directors Series: Prophecy, SG-1 Video Diary: Richard Dean Anderson Paradise Lost", Disc 54: **Season Seven: SG-1 Directors Series: Revisions, SG-1 Directors Series: Heroes, SG-1 Directors Series: Resurrection, "Behind the Scenes: Journey Inside Lost City", The Storyboard Process, "Bra'tac vs. Ronan: Designing the Fight", Stargate Magic: Inside the Lab, Richard Dean Anderson: "My Life as a Mime", **Season Eight: Beyond the Gate: A Convention Experience with Amanda Tapping" "Beyond the Gate: A Convention Experience with Michael Shanks" SG-1 Directors Series: Threads, Profile On: Joseph Mallozzi and Paul Mullie, The Last Day of Teal'C, SG-1 Directors Series: Moebius, “Stargate SG-1 Alliance: The Making of The Video Game"
  • Battlestar Galactica Franchise Collection: $99.99 (Season One | Season 2.0 | Season 2.5 | Season 3.0 | BSG Razor)
  • The Ultimate Matrix Collection$24.49 (The Matrix/ The Matrix Reloaded/ The Matrix Revolutions/ The Animatrix)
  • The Mel Brooks Collection: $38.99 (Blazing Saddles / Young Frankenstein / Silent Movie / Robin Hood: Men in Tights / To Be or Not to Be / History of the World, Part 1 / The Twelve Chairs / High Anxiety)
  • Planet of the Apes - The Legacy Collection$26.99 (Planet of the Apes [1968] / Beneath the / Escape from the / Conquest of the / Battle for the)
  • The Nightmare on Elm Street Collection$22.99 8 Disc Collection
  • Alien Quadrilogy$32.99 (Alien/ Aliens /Alien 3 /Alien Resurrection)
  • Jim Henson's Fantasy Film Collection$20.49 (Labyrinth / MirrorMask / The Dark Crystal)
  • Godzilla DVD Collection 7-Pack$64.99 (Godzilla (1998) / Godzilla 2000 / vs. King Ghidora / and Mothra The Battle for Earth / vs. Destoroyah / vs. Space Godzilla / vs. Mechagodzilla / Giant Monsters All Out Attack / vs. Megaguirus)

What Costume Will You Wear For Halloween?

Neo With Halloween fast approaching are you still looking for that knock out costume?  Rotten Tomatoes would like to help.  They put together a great costume guide on 16 different movie characters.  Each character or set of characters is set on their own page but they put a nice thumbnail navigation at the bottom of each page making this a pleasant experience.  The 16 characters to choose from are Jay & Silent Bob, Indiana Jones, Juno MacGuff, The Fox, Carrie, John Rambo, Marty Mcfly, Zohan, Nurse Joker, Neo, The Dude, Goo Yubari & the Crazy 88, Margot, & Richie Tenenbaum, The Grady Twins, and Toshio and Kayako. The guides are great and include a nice picture of the character, a huge plus when trying to get the costume right.  A list of things that you will need for the costume which is a helpful reference.  For instance if you want to dress up like Jay you would need long blonde hair.  A list of movies they appear in so if you really want to get into the character you can watch them in action and pick up their nuances taking that cosplay to the next level.  They also include a classic line which can be used to better act out the character, a nice feature but too short for best cosplay.  For instance on the Jay and Silent Bob page they include the line “Snoochie Boochies” a classic Jay line but for Bob they should have included Bob’s classic line which would be “______ *shrug*.”

Joker_Dark_Knight

Now all I have to do is decide which one to go as