Guest Blog by author A.D. Bloom…. Why I watched Dune, the year 2000 TV production.

dune2000

The entire 265 minute production is up in two parts right now on Youtube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ueYYVRTWmjY) and looks great on my phone. But that’s not why I watched it now after avoiding it for a long time.

It’s because I watched the Jodorowsky’s Dune documentary and now, I can’t help but see Dune like another production of Macbeth. I wouldn’t balk at a Macbeth that changed everything. I don’t cringe watching the Lynch and DeLaurentiis Dune. I like it. It’s not Herbert’s Dune. It’s another Dune. So was Jodorowsky’s. They should all exist. You can’t tell a story as great as Dune and do it right without making what amounts to a new version.

prick

Why? The manner in which a thing is made will transfer to the work itself and to make a thing that bears the kind of animate spark we love in so many works (like Herbert’s beloved Dune) requires a working process that creates that spark in the people involved. That process must be full of thrill and discovery and risk and require courage for lack of a better word because these are the things of which inspired art is made. The only way to get that from people is to challenge them to do something they don’t already know how to do – in this case, to make a new Dune, a Dune that is an expression of themselves and their time. (Like that film version of Macbeth I enjoy so much with Patrick Stewart and machine guns.)

stillsuit

The 2000 TV production of Dune looks visually spartan now, but the production has an air of craftiness and a grim commitment to tell an epic story despite the sizable challenges. This is a lean, thirsty production that has a gravitas to it like its Fremen.

witch

This spare Dune doesn’t have the opulence of the DeLaurentiis production or Jodorowsky and his band’s imaginings. The 2000 production is less seductive to the eye. It’s a lean telling of the tale. Note for those who have issues with visual effects from 14 years ago – if you watch on a small screen like your phone at the 360p resolution of that youtube version, then much will be left up to your imagination (in the best of ways). There’s something to the pace of the whole thing that’s surprisingly immersive.

barron

Ian McNeice’s performance added to the Baron Harkonnen that forever floats in my head. Indeed, this production added something new to the whole, crazy, colonial, messianic Dune myth that is, for me, an amalgam of all these different productions along with the original book. And, of course, that amalgam includes all the different Dunes all of us imagine when we read it.

My next challenge will be getting over the fact that Tom Baker isn’t The Doctor anymore.

*****

A.D. Bloom wrote The War of Alien Aggression (2014) He’s a habitual killer of his darlings and eagerly counts the hours until the day when he may be lucky enough to witness the brilliant butchery and rebirth of his own stories as television and film productions.

51MwfBWtdiL._UY250_

Advertisements

The Starlost… Quite possibly my favorite Science Fiction television series.

Back in 1973, Harlan Ellison was approached by studio executives to come up with a new science fiction show to be produced in Canada.  It was doomed from the beginning…

The_Starlost_-_intro

 Through a series of unfortunate events, which included a writer’s strike, a new revolutionary special effects system that ended up being a complete turd and getting scrapped, and Mr. Ellison becoming so disenfranchised with the whole thing that he insisted his screen credit be shown as “Cordwainer Bird” (his alternate registered pen name).  Even Ben Bova was brought onboard as an advsisor and became so disgruntled in the project that he later wrote a novel entitled “The Starcrossed” about a scientist taken on as a science adviser for a terrible science fiction series.  Wow, this thing didn’t have a chance.

images

In any case, sixteen episodes were made, but the show was not to be picked up for more.  An all-star cast including Keir Dullea, Barry Morse, John Colicos, and even Walter Koenig couldn’t even raise this to a decent viewership.  It was poorly received by both viewers and the science fiction community.  It’s been touted as among the worst science fiction shows of all time.  Poor special effects, horrible acting (hell, most of the little known actors did a better job than the big names).  One particular scene, Keir appears to forget his name (Devon) and there are long pauses as though the actors are “looking behind us now, into history-back”, trying to remember the next line.

discovery3

Starlost02

oro3

So why do I absolutely love this show?  I really can’t pin it down to one specific reason.  For one, I find the story fascinating.  According to the ship’s central information computer (which goes by the name of Mu-Lambda 165)…

In the year A.D. 2285, a catastrophe of galactic proportions threatened all Earth life with extinction (we are not able to find out what this catastrophe was as the information cylinder containing that information is missing).

News of the catastrophe caused panic, riots. So the committee of scientists and philosophers set about selecting preservable elements of Earth life to seed other planets.  In order to do this, the committee between the Earth and the moon had to build Earthship  Ark.  The most monumental construction ever taken by humans.  An organic cluster of environmental domes called “biospheres”.  Linked to each other through tubular corridors for life support, power, and communication.  Into the biospheres went representative segments of the earth’s population.  Three million souls in all.  Whole separate ecologies, sealed from each other.  Isolated to preserve their characteristics.  Thus, Earthship Ark was launched on a long journey into deep space.  It’s programmed destination – to seek out and find the solar system of a Class G star.

Earthship  Ark traveled for a hundred years before any indication of a difficulty.  Then, there was an accident.  Accident record year, A.D. 2385.  Earthship  Ark is currently locked on collision course with Class G solar star, an unidentified sun.  Present Earth year, A.D. 2790.

Most of the episodes take place in a new biosphere.  There are a couple episodes that revolve around visitors from elsewhere – whether human or alien.  Some biospheres have devolved into savagery and others are quite technologically advanced.  Each episode is a new adventure.  The main character, Devin, lives in a biosphere that is essentially a farming community.  One can almost see it as an Amish type community.  He’s an adventurous sort and this eventually leads him into being exiled along with two of his friends, Rachel and Garth – thanks pal…

starlost13

I really find the show very quaint.  I dig the old-school  special effects (the lighting must have been brutal as the characters sweat rather profusely).  Even the music seems to fit rather well.  Yes, the acting could be better, the effects better, but there is simply an unknown “something” that appeals to me on a certain level.  The real star of the show is the ship’s computer, played by Jim Barron.  His voice is just fabulous and watching him trying to act “computery” is wonderful!

starlost2

So yeah, I seriously dig this show and have it running in my portable DVD player whenever I’m tinkering in my “cave”.  It’s available on Amazon and comes down to around $10.00 every so often.  I may need to get another copy because there’s a good chance I’ll wear this one out…

TheStarlost

 

For an excellent online resource for the series, I’d recommend heading over to http://www.snowcrest.net/fox/star.html.

Maturing is often a painful process…

We’ve all probably seen it.  The youtube video of MMA fighter’s Alexander Vladimirovich Emelianenko and James Thompson.  The video went viral.  Two men, one a muscle-bound hulk staring so hard his head was shaking and the other, a slightly overweight, unassuming Russian who looked like he could have cared less.

The fight was over in 11 seconds.  Reason of it going viral was that it went completely the opposite direction that was expected…

Now, here’s what most people didn’t see.  Some time later, James Thompson talked about this fight and gave some explanation as to what happened.  This is a fantastic display of maturity.

I’m not a big fan of MMA fighting (it simply doesn’t hold an interest for me, but I do have a measured respect for those that can do it), but what does fascinate me is the human condition of watching someone mature as a human being.  It is a beautiful thing…

The Rock – Images of a wall of thanks, separated by 23 years…

The base I was stationed at in Germany was lovingly referred to as The Rock.  1st Squadron, 2d Armored Cavalry Regiment.  Near Bindlach, Germany, it was a lonely outpost in the middle of the German countryside.  Absolutely beautiful.  I seem to remember virtually every day.
I remember when we got back from Desert Storm, the bus filled with bona-fide combat veterans – my God, we were just kids – driving through that front gate and seeing The Wall.  The wives, families, and those soldiers tasked to stay behind, painted the wall that led onto base.  This image is what it looked like in 1991…
10448780_992310897461231_6142776393798120217_n
I’m feeling very strange right now.  I don’t know how to describe it.  Like leaving the home you grew up in and coming back 20 years later to see how it has aged and changed.   I came across some pictures of that wall that were apparently taken just today.  You can see that these are the same portions of the wall, but some 20-odd years later…
10292497_992309550794699_8192790799988489827_n 10426198_10205586424806341_5904579927401208518_n
10173589_992309970794657_1679815972465801454_n 10846082_10205586424166325_5778319705466967904_n
64382_992310530794601_253500870587476986_n 524093_358161247554959_895696679_n
It was a nostalgia overload.  I have pictures of those families actually painting that wall.  I used to road march and run past that wall every single day.
Our morning PT runs… you could smell the alcohol sweating out of us.  We had just gotten back to base a few hours earlier and were still a little drunk.
The cigarette smoke from Top as he’d lap us – he was twice as old as we were and he was running around us with a smoke hangin’ outta his mouth.  Screaming cadence about Mary Jane Rottencrotch and how she was spreadin’ ’em for all the boys back home.
A yellow bird…
With a yellow bill…
Was sittin’ on….
My window sill…
I lured him in…
With a piece of bread…
And then I smashed…
His fuckin’ head!
I remember the bus letting us off in the parking lot at our barracks.  We made our way to our rooms and sitting on the floor in front of each door was a case of beer.  Real German beer.  Shit you drank warm, sweet as sweet tea.  The closest thing we’d had in the past seven months was some fake stuff our Chaplain surprised us with on Christmas Eve.
And then we were back.  Sleeping in a real bed.  Eating real food.  Shitting in a real toilet with real toilet paper.  Taking a real shower…
And running past that wall again, every single day.

The War of Alien Aggression… new military science fiction series from A.D. Bloom

Some of the most realistic dialogue and situations I’ve come across in military scifi…” – Evan Carter From the author of the fantastic dark-future series, STITCH, as well as popular short stories, The 10-Foot-Tall Marine, Hunting Mr. Old Sack Bones, and Tokyo Newsreel, comes The War of Alien Aggression.  A new military science fiction series that has been at the top of Amazon’s Best Seller list for Science Fiction Anthologies. Follow Admiral Cozen, Ram Devlin, and the pilots and crew of the privateer carrier Hardway as they are first to fight in the conflict that quickly escalates from a bloody first contact to a full-scale, interstellar war.

51MwfBWtdiL._UY250_

My favorite Post-Apocalypse movies of the 1950’s…

The Atom Bomb…  Radiation…  Mutation…

These were big buzzwords in the 1950’s and gave rise to a breed of film that exploited them to the fullest.  The 50’s was really the full dawn of the post-apocalypse film.  I’d like the take the opportunity to present some of my favorites from that time.  These are not works of art.  They are not high-cinema.  What they are, are warnings that The Bomb could fall at any moment, people would either become shadows on a wall or some sort of mutant, hell bent on killing everyone they came across.  Good times!

Oh, you can click on the image to view a trailer or scene on youtube.

Starting off with the Day the World Ended.  Enter an old man and his daughter holed up in the mountains and the strangers that make their way to this little slice of heaven.  I don’t know if I’ve ever seen another movie in which there were characters I would like to take out back behind the woodshed and literally beat them to within an inch of their life.  This one is an exercise in patience…

day_world_ended_poster_02


Next up, On the Beach.  This one actually hints at being fairly realistic.  Based on the wonderful book by Nevil Shute, it is a suspenseful drama, rather than an effects-laden romp with mutants.  Nuclear fallout has killed everything in the northern hemisphere.  A Naval submarine is stationed off the coast of Australia and receives a signal from San Francisco.  They decide to set sail and investigate.  This one is a heart wrencher and best watched with a loved one – just make sure there aren’t any cyanide pills around and stay out of the garage…

MV5BMTMyNTIzMDEyMV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwODQwOTc2NA@@._V1_SX214_AL_


Robot Monster.  What can I say?  Filmed in only four days, it’s the most wonderful worst film you’ll ever watch in your life.  There was rumor that the director, Phil Tucker, had attempted to commit suicide because it was so bad.  Reality is that he did actually attempt it (and failed) because of depression and a dispute with the film’s distributor.  Needless to say, you may feel the urge to throw a towel over the curtain rod after watching this one…

robotmonster


When Worlds Collide.  A classic.  Well filmed and a great story.  Mankind learns of a rogue star that is on a direct collision course with Earth.  An “ark” is built and trained for the planet that orbits Bellus (the star that is about to make everyone’s day really bad in about 8 months).  I highly recommend this one as well as reading the books When World’s Collide and the sequel After World’s Collide, both written by Philip Wylie and Edwin Balmer…

13847


And finally, World Without End.  Starring Rod Taylor in one of his earliest roles.  It tells the tale of four astronauts returning to Earth after a trip ’round Mars.  Time distortion, ending up hundreds of years in the future, mutants (in this case “mutates”) roving the surface, while down below – you guessed it – a virtual utopia.  Sound familiar?  Yeah, me too.  But this is one of the better movies that uses the same exact recipe as a myriad of others…

httpswww.movieposter.compostersarchivemain173MPW-86993