Saturday, March 29, 2008

New cult TV shows coming soon

Possibly. About the cult bit.

I wouldn't normally post about something as trivial as new TV shows. But when Joss Whedon makes a new TV show, I must pay some attention. For those who dont know, Joss created Buffy, Angel, and Firefly. With both Buffy and Firely making Empireonlines new list of the 50 best TV shows ever

I am a HUGE Buffy and Firefly fan. Whedon has a way of lifting what should be slight pop-culture TV and giving it heart and soul where you wouldn't expect. Can't say I'm incredibly impressed with the premise, but hey! Joss Whedons creating it. And it has Faith as the lead!


So what is the concept, exactly? Explains Whedon: "Dollhouse is a suspense drama about a girl who can have any personality except her own." So it's part Alias and part Quantum Leap, "because Echo is literally changing who she is," he continues. "She gets into people's lives a little bit." Even Dushku's. "I relate so much to this character," she marvels. "Echo is essentially the story of my life. I've lived a crazy life the past 16 years, traveling around the world and then tripping and falling into this business. Everyone wants you to transform and be a different person every week."


Beyond Dushku's character, the show will also revolve around the people who run the mysterious "dollhouse" and two other "dolls," a man and woman who are friendly with Echo. Then there's the federal agent who has heard an urban myth about the dolls, and is trying to investigate their existence.


Great chemistry and intriguing premise notwithstanding, you'd think that after Fox snuffed Whedon's Firefly and hung up on Dushku's Tru Calling, one or both of them would have been more than a little hesitant to get back into bed with the network. "Honestly? Walking back into that building was pretty damn strange," Whedon admits. But "I always had a good relationship with [Twentieth Century Fox], and on the network end, it's a completely new bunch of people, and from what I’ve seen, a fairly impressive bunch." Dushku seconds that emotion. "I really get the sense that they're committed to [this show]… It feels right." Besides, as Whedon notes, "I told them I was interested in writing a pilot, and they gave me seven episodes. They’ve already shown more support for it than I have." Now it's your turn to show the comeback kids some love. And, like Dushku, I don't think you'll let them down. "We have the best fans in the business [in the] the Buffy and Whedon universe," she says. "It’s going to be pandemonium when this [news] hits." And it's only just begun

The next show I am very interested about is an adaptation of Children of Men by Galactica co-creator David Eick.

Bionic Woman executive producer David Eick told SCI FI Wire that he's working on a pilot script for a proposed TV series based on Children of Men, P.D. James' SF novel, which also inspired Alfonso Cuaron's 2006 film of the same name.

"It's really taking root more in the origins of the novels in that it will focus on the cultural movement in which young people become the society's utter focus," Eick (Battlestar Galactica) said in an interview at SCI FI Channel's upfront presentation to advertisers in New York on March 18. "Much like our culture, whenever Lindsay Lohan does something [and] it becomes the headline of every news show, it's about how, when you don't have a responsibility to the next generation and you're free to do whatever you want, where do you draw the line?"

Eick added that Children of Men will question how society defines responsibility, freedom and a sense of values when it doesn't necessarily believe humans will survive as a species. "So it's a very compelling, I think, human question that science fiction has always explored extremely provocatively," he said. "It's not really a war show like the movie was. It's more an exploration of that issue."

Eick is writing Children of Men now, even as he closes out SCI FI Channel's original series Battlestar Galactica and prepares for production on SCI FI's recently green-lighted prequel series Caprica. Eick's Bionic, meanwhile, has been canceled by NBC. (NBC is owned by NBC Universal, which also owns SCI FI Channel and SCIFI.COM.)

Both shows have an excellent pedigree, in my opinion. I shall look forward to seeing what Whedon and Eick pull out of the bag.


Its one of the big gas giants, but we never hear much about it, apart from the favourite schoolboy joke about it. A joke even JK Rowling used, to perfection I might add, in one of the Harry Potter book. Notice I've refrained from making any jokes myself about Uranus. I shall leave it up to my readerships foul and twisted minds to do that for me.

But we have some stunning photos now about the Uranian system. Voyager and Hubble have both capture some beauties, both in real light and a mix of infrared and spectrograph.

So here's some photos of the Uranian system. Enjoy.

PS. I love the fact that the moons are named from A Midsummers Nights Dream, and other Shakespeare characters.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

They fly, they fall

BARNAUL, Russia (Reuters) - A shepherd is suing Russia's space agency for compensation after he said a 3-metre-long chunk of metal from a space rocket fell into his yard, just missing his outdoor toilet.

Boris Urmatov, who is asking for 1 million roubles ($42,000) from the Roskosmos agency, lives in a small village that lies underneath the flight path of rockets taking off from the Baikonur launchpad Russia leases in nearby Kazakhstan.

"Something woke him up in the night, like something exploded. Since he's visually handicapped he didn't notice the fallen rocket parts," Urmatov's sister Marina told Reuters from the village of Kyrlyk, in Russia's Altai region.

"But in the morning in front of the shepherd hut he saw this enormous metal casing, as smooth as an egg," she said by telephone from the village, which is 3,500 km east of Moscow. "It nearly crushed the outhouse."

She said her brother was seeking damages to compensate him for the stress he suffered.

Residents in the neighbouring village of Ust-Kan said rocket pieces regularly rain down on their area. Parts of the surrounding countryside are designated special zones where people may not go during the launches.

"Sometimes it's smooth metal casings, sometimes it's bolts. I remember something like an engine fell once," said Anatoly Kazakov, an Ust-Kan resident.

Roskosmos said it regularly warns residents when a launch is scheduled, and in a history stretching back over 50 years and 400 rockets, only a few space-bound rocket parts have fallen outside designated areas.

"Technologically speaking, these parts are supposed to fall off during a launch. They fly, they fall, they fly, they fall. It's how they work," said Roskosmos spokesman Alexander Vorobyov.

He said Roskosmos regularly sends out an investigation team to check on reports of damage from rocket parts, but it could only pay compensation if a court rules for damages.

"If a court determines that, yes, those are rocket parts, they fell on his land, then for sure he will be compensated. No question about it. We live in a civilised, law-abiding country," Vorobyov said.

Izvestia newspaper said Roskosmos had only once paid out compensation over rocket debris to a private individual -- 10,000 roubles in 2001 -- when a piece fell on his yard as he was outside chopping wood.

"What is abnormal is when somebody gets greedy, and it turns out the parts did not fall on his land, but that they were dragged there. Those moments are not good," Vorobyov said.

"But those are individual instances. We in no way refuse to pay out compensation. It just has to go through the court system."

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Carry on regardless

I need to share this video with the world. Its a Swedish TV presenter carrying on regardless. :)

Friday, March 21, 2008

How to destroy the Earth, parts 8 & 9

8. Meticulously and systematically deconstructed

You will need: a mass driver. A mass driver is a sort of oversized electromagnetic railgun, which was once proposed as a way of getting mined materials back from the Moon to Earth - basically, you just load it into the driver and fire it upwards in roughly the right direction. Your design should be powerful enough to hit escape velocity of 11 kilometres per second.

At a million tonnes of mass driven out of the Earth's gravity well per second, this would take 189,000,000 years. One mass driver would suffice, but ideally, lots (i.e. trillions) would be employed simultaneously. Alternatively you could use space elevators or conventional rockets.

Method: Basically, what we're going to do here is dig up the Earth, a big chunk at a time, and boost the whole lot of it into orbit. Yes. All six sextillion tonnes of it.

We will ignore atmospheric considerations. Compared with the extra energy needed to overcome air friction, it would be a relatively trivial step to completely burn away the Earth's atmosphere before beginning the process. Even with this done, however, this method would require a - let me emphasize this - titanic quantity of energy to carry out. Building a Dyson sphere ain't gonna cut it here. (Note: Actually, it would. But if you have the technology to build a Dyson sphere, why are you reading this?)

Earth's final resting place: Many tiny pieces, some dropped into the Sun, the remainder scattered across the rest of the Solar System.

Feasibility rating: 6/10. If we wanted to and were willing to devote resources to it, we could start this process RIGHT NOW. Indeed, what with all the gunk left in orbit, on the Moon and heading out into space, we already have done.

Source: this method arose when Joe Baldwin and I knocked our heads together by accident.

9. Pulverized by impact with blunt instrument

You will need: a big heavy rock, something with a bit of a swing to it... perhaps Mars.

Method: Essentially, anything can be destroyed if you hit it hard enough. ANYTHING. The concept is simple: find a really, really big asteroid or planet, accelerate it up to some dazzling speed, and smash it into Earth, preferably head-on but whatever you can manage. The result: an absolutely spectacular collision, resulting hopefully in Earth (and, most likely, our "cue ball" too) being pulverized out of existence - smashed into any number of large pieces which if the collision is hard enough should have enough energy to overcome their mutual gravity and drift away forever, never to coagulate back into a planet again.

A brief analysis of the size of the object required can be found here. Falling at the minimal impact velocity of 11 kilometres per second and assuming zero energy loss to heat and other energy forms, the cue ball would have to have roughly 60% of the mass of the Earth. Mars, the next planet out, "weighs" in at about 11% of Earth's mass, while Venus, the next planet in and also the nearest to Earth, has about 81%. Assuming that we would fire our cue ball into Earth at much greater than 11km/s (I'm thinking more like 50km/s), either of these would make great possibilities.

Obviously a smaller rock would do the job, you just need to fire it faster. Taking mass dilation into account, a 5,000,000,000,000-tonne asteroid at 90% of light speed would do just as well. See the Guide to moving Earth for useful information on manoeuvring big hunks of rock across interplanetary distances. For smaller chunks, there are more options - a Bussard Ramjet (scoop up interstellar hydrogen at the front and fire it out the back as propellant) is one of the most technically feasible as of right now. Of course, a run-up would be needed...

Earth's final resting place: a variety of roughly Moon-sized chunks of rock, scattered haphazardly across the greater Solar System.

Feasibility rating: 7/10. Pretty plausible.

Source: This method suggested by Andy Kirkpatrick

Comments: Earth is believed to have been hit by an object the size of Mars at some point in the distant past before its surface cooled. This titanic collision resulted in... the Moon.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Business cards

The fantastic people at run a monthly crew network meeting in Leeds, and I was able to attend for the first time - now that I have some actual experience and production credits to my name.

Business cards seem to be the currency in this work, so I had my own made up. One trip to the train station to use that machine they have, and viola! I am a now a professional! lol

As you can see I picked many up myself, and dished out a few off my own. I met some great people who all have a variety of projects in development. Hopefully I can work with some of them.

And finally, I may have a interview in London for a producers job in the next couple of weeks too. :)

Eyes, toes, and fingers crossed! lol Wish me luck!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Incredible Hulk and WALL*E

Oooo, looks tasty. And Tim Roth as the Abomination!! Cant wait.

And Pixar have finally shown a proper trailer for its new CG flick WALL*E.

It look phenomenal! And possibly might even make me tear up a little lol

Monthly moon round-up - Titan

Titan is doing its best to become my favourite moon, although my heart will always belong to Europa ;)

Since the marvelous Huygens probe was dropped onto the surface last year, the main Cassini space craft is orbiting the Saturn system and has been taking un precidented pictures of the surface using radiowaves. Titans atmosphere normally makes surface pictures impossible, but the new equipment on Cassini gives a window on the surface we've never had before.

And there they are!! Lakes and rivers of Methane!! With drainage channels and other features associated with a free-flowing liquid. Cool as!

Ah Titan :)

Saturday, March 15, 2008


I came across this video. It could be called borderline homoerotic lol, but hey, Im ok with that :D Just a shame someone painted them gold!

Now, just how strong must these guys be?



Tuesday, March 11, 2008

A Martian avalanche!!

What caused this sudden cloud of dust on Mars? An avalanche! The first avalanche imaged in progress on another planet was recorded last month on Mars by NASA's robotic Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Visible in the above picture, digitally rescaled, are several layers of white ice thawing over red rock, with darker colors toward the right indicated Martian soil that mixed with lesser amounts of ice. As the cliff of over 700 meters high was thawing, falling ice crashed down raising plumes of ice and dust so thick they cast visible shadows. The scarp has slopes with grades greater than 60 degrees. The entire scene is illuminated from the upper right by the Sun. A thaw occurs each spring in the Northern Hemisphere of Mars, as the warming climate causes solid carbon dioxide ice to sublimate directly to vapor.

Now how cool is that?!?! :)

A cunning plan

MAPLEWOOD, Minn. - All the world's a stage at some of Minnesota's bars.

A new state ban on smoking in restaurants and other nightspots contains an exception for performers in theatrical productions. So some bars are getting around the ban by printing up playbills, encouraging customers to come in costume, and pronouncing them "actors."

The customers are playing right along, merrily puffing away and sometimes speaking in funny accents and doing a little improvisation, too.

The state Health Department is threatening to bring the curtain down on these sham productions. But for now, it's on with the show.

At The Rock, a hard-rock and heavy-metal bar in suburban St. Paul, the "actors" during "theatre night" do little more than sit around, drink, smoke and listen to the earsplitting music.

"They're playing themselves before Oct. 1. You know, before there was a smoking ban," owner Brian Bauman explained. Shaping the words in the air with his hands, like a producer envisioning the marquee, he said: "We call the production, 'Before the Ban!' "

The smoking ban, passed by the Legislature last year, allows actors to light up in character during theatrical performances as long as patrons are notified in advance.

About 30 bars in Minnesota have been exploiting the loophole by staging the faux theatre productions and pronouncing cigarettes props, according to an anti-smoking group.

"It's too bad they didn't put as much effort into protecting their employees from smoking," grumbled Jeanne Weigum, executive director of the Association for Nonsmokers.

The Health Department this week vowed to begin cracking down on theatre nights with fines of as much as $10,000.

"The law was enacted to protect Minnesotans from the serious health effects of secondhand smoke," Minnesota Health Commissioner Sanne Magnan said. "It is time for the curtain to fall on these theatrics."

At The Rock earlier this week, a black stage curtain covered part of the entrance, and a sign next to it with an arrow read, "Stage Entrance." Along the opposite wall, below a sign saying "Props Dept.," was a stack of the only props needed: black ashtrays.

At the door was a printed playbill for that night's program, with a list of names of the people portraying bartenders and security guards. Playing the owner: "Brian."

Courtney Conk paid $1 for a button that said "Act Now" and pinned it to her shirt. That made her an actor for the night, entitling her to smoke. She turned in an understated, minimalist performance, sitting with cigarette in hand and talking to a bass player with the band.

"I thought it was funny that they found a loophole," Conk said. "I'm more of an activist-actor tonight, you could say. I think it's kind of this way of saying what we think about the ban."

While The Rock asks nothing of its actors by way of creativity, a few other bars have been a little more theatrical.

At Barnacles Resort and Campground along Lake Mille Lacs, a "travelling tobacco troupe" dressed in medieval costume on the first theatre night. Mark Benjamin, a lawyer who pushed bars to exploit the loophole, wore tights, a feathered cap and black boots.

"Hey, I'm a child of the '60s. I can do a little improv," he said. His improv amounted to speaking in medieval character to other patrons.

In Hill City, Mike's Uptown owner Lisa Anderson has been offering theatre night once a week. The bar had a Mardi Gras theme last Saturday, attracting about 30 patrons, most of them in costume.

"I was dressed in a Victorian dress with the old fluffy thing that weighs 500 pounds," she said. "We had some fairies and some pirates and a group of girls - I'm not sure what they were, but they had big boas and flashy makeup."

Though there were no skits, Anderson said some people "start talking with different accents." She added: "It's turned into the funnest thing I can imagine."

One bar on northern Minnesota's Iron Range, the Queen City Sports Place, calls its nightly smokefest "The Tobacco Monologues."

Proving anew there's no business like show business, Anderson said her theatre-night receipts have averaged $2,000 - up from $500 right after the ban kicked in. Similarly, Bauman said revenue at The Rock dropped off 30 per cent after the ban took effect, then shot back up to normal once the bar began allowing smoking again.

He and other bar owners said they plan to continue putting on theatre nights.

"There's no question we were struggling," he said. "And we are extremely nervous that this is going to go away, and we will be back to the way it was."

Friday, March 07, 2008

Metropolis - Sweet 15

I was out and about with a film crew again today. Peter has been commissioned to do a short documentary for Dutch TV. If they like the one he's shooting they will commission another 15 from him under a title called Metropolis.

Peters subject was a young girl he met from his shoot in Goole last year on the Goole Silent Movie Project This young lass doesnt have a TV in her home, and only got internet 2 weeks ago (she's 15 poor girl!) - but she does go to the cinema loads, and now wants to be a film maker. So is the subject.

So we were around Goole docks today, and Cineworld in Castleford filming cut-aways and external shots. All a bit of a laugh. But the best thing is, I get to call myself a TV researcher now lol, and TV production assistant. All the more entries on my CV :)

And the funny thing is, is Peter does the get the commission, then he intends to do one of the docs on me and my poker playing!! From the angle that I play in 3 different formats. I play online, and sometimes 5 tables at once; I play down a proper poker club in a live game; and every week I play in a home game. Peter has ideas of filming me in each of the places I play poker. The Thursday Night Poker Crew are on stand-by to maybe have to behave themselves for once lol.

We'll see! lol And check out another of my cameos, as Feet Walking Up Stairs In Cinema :D

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Spring is coming

What are these strange shapes on Mars? Defrosting sand dunes. As spring now dawns on the Northern Hemisphere of Mars, dunes of sand near the pole, as pictured above, are beginning to thaw. The carbon dioxide and water ice actually sublime in the thin atmosphere directly to gas. Thinner regions of ice typically defrost first revealing sand whose darkness soaks in sunlight and accelerates the thaw. The process might even involve sandy jets exploding through the thinning ice. By summer, spots will expand to encompass the entire dunes. The Martian North Pole is ringed by many similar fields of barchan sand dunes, whose strange, smooth arcs are shaped by persistent Martian winds.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

How to destroy the Earth, part 7

7. Sucked into a giant black hole

You will need: a black hole, extremely powerful rocket engines, and, optionally, a large rocky planetary body. The nearest black hole to our planet is 1600 light years from Earth in the direction of Sagittarius, orbiting V4641.

Method: after locating your black hole, you need get it and the Earth together. This is likely to be the most time-consuming part of this plan. There are two methods, moving Earth or moving the black hole, though for best results you'd most likely move both at once. See the Guide to moving Earth for details on how to move the Earth. Several of the methods listed can be applied to the black hole too, though obviously not all of them, since it is impossible to physically touch the black hole, let along build rockets on it.

Earth's final resting place: part of the mass of the black hole.

Feasibility rating: 6/10. Very difficult, but definitely possible.

Sources: The Hitch Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy, by Douglas Adams;

Comments: It's clear that dropping the Earth into a singularity is massive overkill. A reasonably strong gravitational field, such as might be associated with any body between Jupiter and a neutron star, would be sufficient to rip the Earth apart via tidal forces. These possibilities are dealt with further down.