There are now 468 items (and counting) in my saved newsreader links. Clearly something must be done to remedy this. While I work on sorting that out, here’s a random assortment of items I’ve been holding on to:
- I have incredibly fond memories of the Small World ride at Disneyworld. I’m not sure if my parents, who I dragged on it countless times when I was a child, could say the same. But I loved it. Yes, even the song, which even now sort makes me happy as I sing along to it in my head. So I was a little upset to hear of the unnecessary “improvements” that Disney has in store for the ride.
- The son of Walter Koenig (Chekhov from Star Trek) was recently arrested for his part in an anti-China protest at this year’s Rose Parade. The younger Koenig is probably best known for playing Richard “Boner” Stabone from the ’80s sitcom Growing Pains. What you maybe didn’t know, however, is that he was also partly the inspiration for Harlan Ellison’s short story “Jeffty is Five“. (Ellison and Walter Koenig are old friends.) You have to love weird connections like that.
- You may have read that Gary Gygax, who co-created the original Dungeons & Dragons game, died recently. I never actually played the game, but some of the tributes to him have been nice. I think this one is my favorite.
- Of course, not everybody is in love with Gygax’s contribution to the field. Over at Slate (via Gwenda Bond), Eric Sofge writes:
For decades, gamers have argued that since D&D came first, its lame, morally repulsive experience system can be forgiven. But the damage is still being done: New generations of players are introduced to RPGs as little more than a collective fantasy of massacre and greed. If the multiplayer online game World of Warcraft is the direct descendant of D&D, then what, exactly, has Gygax bequeathed to us unwashed, nerdy masses? The notion that emotionally complex story lines are window dressing for an endless series of hack-and-slash encounters? There’s a reason so many players are turned off after a brush with D&D. It promises something greatâ€”a lively (if dorky) bit of performance artâ€”but delivers a small-minded and ignorant fantasy of rage, distilled to a bunch of arcane charts and die rolls. Dungeons & Dragons strips the “role-playing” out of RPGs; it’s a videogame without the graphics, and a pretty boring one, at that.
- “Heist pictures are all about process, technique, mechanics; the blind accidents are what keep them human.” – Terrence Rafferty
- Will Ferrel on why he turned down doing an Elf sequel:
I don’t know what the sequel is. It’s like a fish-out-of-water story, and he’s now in the water.
- Sam Rockwell:
I can’t stay in [character] all day, it’s too exhausting. I can’t. Maybe other actors can do that. I don’t think any actor…I mean, even Daniel Day Lewis has to have a cup of tea, have a piece of toast, and turn on The Flintstones, right?
- Robots Can’t Act — well they can’t. Via Gerry Canavan.
- Seriously, this is our new five-dollar bill?
- & Teller — everbody’s favorite silent stage magician just trying to survive the zombie apocalypse. Via Cynical-C.
- Speaking of zombies (and when is one really not?), Glen has some thoughts on why modern zombie films aren’t scary. His main concern: speed:
A slow, shambling zombie, however, is uniquely scary because of what it means if it actually catches you. If one of the new breed of movie zombies – fast, strong, and eerily intelligent – grabs hold of you, itâ€™s not a big deal. Theyâ€™re faster than you. Theyâ€™re stronger than you. For some reason, theyâ€™re just better than you. Being caught by a slow zombie, however, means one of two things. Either you have been caught in a situation in which defeat is inevitable or – more likely – you seriously screwed up.
I’d maintain, as I did in my comment there, that movies like 28 Days Later really aren’t zombie movies at all. When they’re good — and I think the first one is, for the most part — they’re frightening for very different reasons. Rather than zombies, they’re basically vampire Terminators; they’re evil killing machines, all but unstoppable — and, worse, they can turn you into one them pretty easily. Ultimately, though, what makes any of these movies really scary is what they have to say about us, the living, rather than about the dead or undead.
- Speaking of Glen, you could do a lot worse than to vote for him for political pundit in the Project Breakout contest.
- Ever wonder what The Wonder Years would have been like without narration? Wonder no more.
- Book thieves stealing from libraries, libraries “stealing” from Netflix. What’s the world coming to? Via Gerry Canavan and Hacking Netflix.
- Abigail Nussbaum has been posting some excellent thoughts on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. I rewatched the series myself a few years back, and I have to agree it’s probably the strongest and best of the Trek series.
- Superfriends meets Friends. Via TV Squad.
- Doctor Who: Revolutionary or Tool Of The Man? Via Edd Vick. I’d say the jury is probably still out on that question; but the Doctor, as a character, is obviously a product of the times he’s in and the people writing for him. It would be tough to have the Doctor undo modern society in some truly fundamental way without also upsetting that sometimes fragile balancing act that is suspension of disbelief. It’s easier to believe, I think, in a world where people don’t notice the Doctor because he exists on the fringes than in one where they don’t notice even when those fringes start appearing everywhere. Does that make any sense? It’s something I saw at work in Buffy the Vampire Slayer (and to a lesser degree Angel) in later seasons. They went from being characters who ostensibly existed in our world, and simply fought monsters in the shadows, to characters who existed in worlds entirely comprised of shadows, where everyone of course knew that vampires and demons existed. Then again, maybe this isn’t such a terrible thing — it just upsets and alters the dynamic. I think what bothered me most, in Buffy especially, was when they tried to have it both ways; it’s tough to have demons stand as metaphors for real-world problems when the real-world problems are, y’know, demons.
- And finally, Metafilter offers a handy primer on the history of British television comedy. Lots of information, great video link examples. Via the Sound of Young America