Pop Culture Link Round Up 3.12.15

Neill Blomkamp’s next film will be part of the Alien franchise and while Sigourney Weaver will reprise her role as Ellen Ripley, it looks like Blomkamp will be taking a leaf out of Brian Singer’s Superman Returns playbook:  

“Chappie” director Neill Blomkamp suggests his hotly anticipated “Alien” film may gloss over the events of “Alien 3″ and “Alien: Resurrection,” if not ignore them entirely.

“I want this film to feel like it is literally the genetic sibling of ‘Aliens,’” he told Sky Movies while promoting “Chappie.” “So it’s ‘Alien,’ ‘Aliens’ and then this movie.”

Franchise star Sigourney Weaver, who will reprise her iconic role as Ellen Ripley, endorsed the plan, saying, “I would love to take Ripley out of orbiting around in space and give a proper finish to what was such an excellent story.”

and this:

Fans of both movies may be disappointed, but they can rest assured that their memories and their dvd’s (or blu-rays; possibly even their VHS tapes) will not retroactively disappear. You’ll still be able to enjoy both movies. Heck, you can even pretend Blomkamp’s movie doesn’t exist in continuity if you want to.

* * * *

Anyone up for some theatrical horror?

I’ve only seen a few plays in my life, and I’ve had little desire (and really, little opportunity) to see any others. THIS one, though? I’d see it in a New York minute:

Throughout the National Theatre of Scotland’s Let the Right One Inadapted from John Ajvide Lindqvist’s novel and Tomas Alfredson‘s film, audiences are subjected to a parade of lyrically gruesome images: a man tied upside-down to a tree, his throat perfunctorily slit and drained into a bucket; another man literally self-effacing with acid; a diminutive teenage girl in a candy-pink sweater whose mouth brims with vomit when she actually tries to eat candy, and whose face cascades with blood every time she enters a home uninvited. All of this stirs a reverent, rapt silence in the audience. This is not the type of play where spectators listlessly turn to their programs mid-show, pretending that looking up the catering credits will somehow enhance their experience.

No, such special effects, though often attempted, aren’t often performed with ease or elegance onstage, and for that reason, audiences are rigidly captivated. But despite their remarkability, none of these macabre flashes induces fear as universally as a girl merely popping out of a box. Late in the play, we see the vampire protagonist/antagonist hybrid, played by Rebecca Benson, enter a box. We see another man enter the room in which the box lurks. An immense sound claps, the lights wax blinding, and suddenly Benson has abandoned the box, and we, the audience, are physically altered: hearts palpitate, couples’ hands clasp, and deep breaths vacuum the room.

It turns out the spectacle of the breakability of the human body here carries less weight than a theatrical game of peek-a-boo, because this shocking occurrence, this moment tailored purely to startle, is so rarely attempted in theater. Unanimous, physical panic is a novel sensation for theater audiences. In Shakespeare, bloody-handed kings will see ghosts. In Sarah Kane, characters will suck out one another’s eyeballs. In Sweeney Todd, civilians’ innards are spiced, serenaded, and crushed into pies. But if theater history were broken into video-store categories, “horror” would not appear; unlike with film, there is not a genre of plays whose fundamental aim is to induce palpable dread in its audiences.

This notion seems in some ways counterintuitive: theater by definition necessitates a captive audience, so wouldn’t the promise of real-time, live horrors make the stage the ideal vessel for the genre? Let the Right One In, which runs through March 8 at Brooklyn’s St. Ann’s Warehouse, with its provenance in and transcendence of horror tropes, sheds light both on the relative nonexistence of theatrical horror and its potential for growth into a relevant stage genre.

In his New York Times review, Ben Brantley used a flattering superlative to describe this achievement, comparing the play not to the film on which it’s based, but to another horror film entirely: “A production of the National Theater of Scotland, Right One offers the most gut-twisting presentation of the middle teens as a supernatural horror story since Brian De Palma’s movie cameras invaded the girls’ locker room in Carrie.” In resorting to film analogies to pay his compliments, Brantley underlines both the dearth of theatrical horror and this production’s potential to set precedents.

 * * * *

Excited about the April 10 debut of all 13 episodes of Netflix and Marvel’s Daredevil series?

To whet your appetite, here’s a trailer:

* * * *

A release date for Star Wars: Episode VIII; plus details on a spin-off movie

Disney and Lucasfilm have announced details of the upcoming “Stars Wars” films at its annual shareholders meeting in San Francisco.

Rian Johnson has also been confirmed to write and direct “Star Wars: Episode VIII,” which will hit theaters May 26, 2017.

Gareth Edwards’ upcoming standalone film, starring Felicity Jones, will be called “Rogue One.” The movie starts filming in London this summer and opens Dec. 16, 2016.

“Rogue One,” based on an idea by Oscar-winning vfx supervisor John Knoll, was written by “Cinderella” scribe Chris Weitz.

Kathleen Kennedy will produce the standalone film alongside Knoll, Tony To and John Schwartz.

Plot details of “Rogue One” are unknown.

* * * *

Remember this movie?

It’s getting a sequel.

Given that the movie made more than a billion dollars worldwide, this isn’t much of a surprise.

Pop Culture Link Round Up 3.12.15

Pop Culture Link Round Up 12.31.14

Ever have the thought, while waiting in line to board a plane, that the process could be revamped to make it more efficient?  Vox has the answer:  the outside-in method.

Having everyone with window seats board first, regardless of row, then all people with middle seats, then all people with aisle seats is much faster.

United Airlines switched to this method in June 2013 (although they make an exception for families, allowing them to board together).

This method cuts down on the total amount of congestionbecause each time a passenger sits down, no one is already sitting in their row, so they don’t have to wait for someone to get up to allow them in. Because everyone isn’t trying to get in the same few rows at the same time, many different passengers can access the overhead bins and enter their seats simultaneously.

The small downside is that people who are sitting together can’t board together, a problem for families with children and couples who inexplicably require continuous physical contact.

* * * *

Those wacky xenomorphs are celebrating their 35th anniversary and here are some commemorative posters

Of the 11 posters, here are my favorites:

* * * *

‘Lord of the Rings’ litter box and ‘Eye of Sauron’ scratching post

* * * *

Every Christmas, photographer turns his dog into different animals

Bristol-based photographer Peter Thorpe has a great little tradition that he started 20 years ago. For his annual holiday card, he transforms Raggle, his dog, into various animals. He started this tradition with Paddy, and now continues with Raggle.

Other photographers would often turn to Photoshop, but Peter uses real props instead. When the photos are finished, he sends these cards to his family, friends and clients.

Sadly, this awesome tradition is coming to an end as Raggle is growing older and weaker every day. This year’s card is going to be the last one before her retirement.


2007 is my favorite.  Click the link to see other years.

* * * *

Move over Angry Birds, here comes Drunken Birds


Humans are not the only animals to get drunk, and the symptoms can be remarkably similar in other species. The latest example is that zebra finches, after hitting the bottle too hard, can’t stick to their melody any more than the karaoke enthusiast who had a few too many waiting their turn for the mike.

“Speech impairment is one of the most intriguing and least understood effects of alcohol on cognitive function, largely due to the lack of data on alcohol effects on vocalizations in the context of an appropriate experimental model organism,” write a team led by Dr Claudio Mello of Oregon Health and Science University in PloS ONE. The authors decided to see if zebra finches could fill the gap. While not capable human sounds lile parrots, or lyrebird level mimicry, male zebra finches are enthusiastic singers

Finches keep the same song from adulthood, often with similarities to those they heard growing up. This, along with their easiness to breed, have made them a popular animal forstudying speech acquisition.

Being native to the central Australian deserts, zebra finches like a drink and the researchers found that this applies to alcohol as much as water. Once drunk, their song takes on an “altered acoustic structure.” The authors note, “The most pronounced effects were decreased amplitude and increased entropy, the latter likely reflecting a disruption in the birds’ ability to maintain the spectral structure of song under alcohol.” So while the notes became more random, they also became softer – something many of us might have wished for when the neighbors got into Bohemian Rhapsody towards the end of a well lubricated party.

Mello and colleagues add, ”Furthermore, specific syllables, which have distinct acoustic structures, were differentially influenced by alcohol, likely reflecting a diversity in the neural mechanisms required for their production.” Yep shlurring those esshes ish not jusht for humansh.

Pop Culture Link Round Up 12.31.14

Pop Culture News

Who wants a Legend of Korra game?

The Legend of Korra’s specific brand of action has made its way to the realm of video games. As revealed in a behind-the-scenes video posted on the show’s Facebook page, the “epic adventure” will allow players to utilize all four elements in strategic combinations as they play their way through this beat-’em-up-style game from PlatinumGames and Activision

The game, fittingly titled The Legend of Korra, is set between books two and three of the series and deals with the fallout of the Avatar’s decision to merge the spirit world with the real world. The video, which contains interviews with Activision producer Robert Conkey and producer Atsushi Kurooka, shows off the game’s visuals, including intense combo demonstrations. Mako, Bolin and Naga are all name-dropped in the video and appear in the game as well.

The Legend of Korra video game is out now for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4. It drops Wednesday for Xbox 360 and Xbox One.

Video game based on awesome animated tv series with a bad ass female lead character?  Sign me up. I can haz game now?

* * * *


You’re going to be Cyborg, buddy. You’ll be the second African-American DC Comics hero with their own film (after Shaq’s STEEL movie; the less said about that, the better). I hope you get a good script and a good director.

* * * *

First Look:  Terminator Genisys

FIRST OFF, I’d like to say I think it’s stupid that they’re spelling ‘genesis’ that way. Secondly…WHY Hollywood? Why?  I know you’re big on remakes and reboots and retellings and shit, but damn, Terminator and Terminator 2 are both really good movies that don’t need to be remade. There’s an entire Terminator universe to explore, and you guys want to go retell the first two movies?  Take a leaf out of the Star Trek tv franchise. Explore other aspects of the Terminator world. Tell stories of other people. Show other battles. You don’t need every installment to be “main characters fight to prevent the end of the world”. Anyways, here’s a peek at the characters:

I see that this effort to ” save a billion-dollar franchise” doesn’t involve anything other than white faces, but that’s a subject for another time.

The beginning of Terminator: Genisys, the first of three planned films that Paramount hopes will relaunch the beloved sci-fi franchise, is set in 2029, when the Future War is raging and a group of human rebels has the evil artificial-intelligence system Skynet on the ropes. John Connor (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ Jason Clarke) is the leader of the resistance, and Kyle Reese (Divergent‘s Jai Courtney) is his loyal soldier, raised in the ruins of post apocalyptic California. As in the original film, Connor sends Reese back to 1984 to save Connor’s mother, Sarah (Game of Thrones‘ Emilia Clarke), from a Terminator programmed to kill her so that she won’t ever give birth to John. But what Reese finds on the other side is nothing like he expected.

There’s a twist of course. Because they didn’t want to make the remake exactly like the original. They had to change Sarah Conner (and they just had to have Arnold):

Twist No. 1? Sarah Connor isn’t the innocent she was when Linda Hamilton first sported feathered hair and acid-washed jeans in the role. Nor is she Hamilton’s steely zero body-fat warrior in 1991’s T2. Rather, the mother of humanity’s messiah was orphaned by a Terminator at age 9. Since then, she’s been raised by (brace yourself) Schwarzenegger’s Terminator—an older T-800 she calls “Pops”—who is programmed to guard rather than to kill. As a result, Sarah is a highly trained antisocial recluse who’s great with a sniper rifle but not so skilled at the nuances of human emotion.

Doesn’t ‘Twist No. 1’ imply there are more twists?  Why you jerk me around like that EW? Dat not nice!

* * * *

‘League of Pan’, a Peter Pan series, is being developed by FOX

I wonder how long it will last ( there is a perception that FOX cancels shows too quickly).

FOX has agreed to a script commitment for the mystery drama League of Pan, a gritty mystery spin on the classic Peter Pan story.

Deadline reports that League of Pan will follow the Lost Boys fifteen years after they’ve left Neverland and moved to Los Angeles. They’ve grown up and grown apart, but they’re forced back together when someone begins targeting them for murder.

The script is being handled by Andrew Miller, who developed CW’s The Secret Circle. He’ll also be serving as executive producer, along with Imagine Television’s Brian Grazer and Francie Calfo. Miller will be writing a new script, rather than using the one from Brian McCauley when 20th TV attempted this idea two years ago.

* * * *

 The cronut croissant donut comes to Dunkin’ Donuts

“Are we copying a specific bakery in New York? The answer is no,” John Costello, president of global marketing and innovation for the company, told the Associated Press.

Costello says bakers all over the country have been experimenting with the croissant donut mixture for the past two decades and that Dunkin’ is constantly tracking these trends. Right. And Dunkin’ apparently already has a hybrid version in South Korea called the New York Pie Donut.

At any rate, the cronut-like pastry will be available for $2.49 in Dunkin’s roughly 8,000 locations for a limited time. Oh, and it’ll be topped with the same sugary goo that’s used for the shop’s glazed donut, but don’t expect any creme filling. At least, not yet.

Pop Culture News

Pop Culture Link Round Up 10.18.14

Warner Brothers has given the green light to a big screen adaptation of the novel Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by J.K. Rowling (h/t The Mary Sue).  In the same press release that revealed the Wonder Woman solo film, we learn:

The Studio will release three pictures, in 2016, 2018 and 2020, based on best-selling author J.K. Rowling’s original story and screenwriting debut, “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.” Set in an extension of her familiar wizarding world, featuring magical creatures and characters inspired by Harry Potter’s Hogwarts textbook and its fictitious author, Newt Scamander, “Fantastic Beasts” will be directed by David Yates, who directed the last four Harry Potter movies, and reunite the filmmaking team of David Heyman, J.K. Rowling, Steve Kloves and Lionel Wigram.

For those unfamiliar with Rowlings’ novel (people like meeeeeeeeeeeee):

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a 2001 book written by British author J. K. Rowling about the magical creatures in theHarry Potter universe. It purports to be Harry Potter’s copy of the textbook of the same name mentioned in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (published as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in the US), the first novel of the Harry Potter series.

In a 2001 interview with publisher Scholastic, Rowling stated that she chose the subject ofmagical creatures because it was a fun topic for which she had already developed a lot of information in earlier books. Rowling’s name does not appear on the cover of the book, the work being credited under the pseudonym “Newt Scamander”.

* * * *

What is Kratom?

According to SageWisdom.org, kratom leaves can be chewed fresh or dry, powdered, or brewed into a tea. It is not usually smoked, because the “amount of leaf that constitutes a typical dose is too much to be smoked easily.” It’s most commonly sold in powdered form in packets, both online, in head shops and in kava bars, alcohol-free bars where people can consume tea made from the legal Polynesian kava root. An ounce costs between $20 and $30, which is enough kratom for one very strong dose*, or several more mild doses.

The fact that kratom can mitigate the painful effects of opiate withdrawl is significant, given that heroin use has reached staggering rates in the U.S. A report by the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy estimated 1.5 million chronic heroin users in the US, which doesn’t account for users who use heroin fewer than four days a month.

While it is regularly used to curb opiate addiction by reducing the withdrawal symptoms, kratom itself can be addictive. One mother in South Florida told the local CBS news the story of her 17-year-old son’s spiral into kratom addiction after he tried the plant at a kava bar with friends. She blames the addiction for her son’s eventual suicide, saying he was “not the same person,” after using kratom.

While it remains popular in underground circles, kratom has been illegal in Thailand since 1943 (it’s also banned in Malaysia, Burma and Australia). However, as Fox News reported, “Thai officials are considering reversing the 70-year-old ban on kratom, due to the plant’s value in weaning addicts off of opiates.”

Despite the potential for addiction, people have used kratom as a stimulant and a medicine for thousands of years. As Fox News reported, “The plant also enjoys a legendary use for extending the duration of sexual intercourse,” and “it mostly enjoys a long history of safe use.”

* * * *

 Awesome photos of space from SPACE.com

Photographer Chris Bakley captured this stunning view of the Milky Way over the shore of Cape May, New Jersey in late August and sent it in to Space.com. It appeared as a photo story on Oct. 7.
The night sky a place of wonder and awe that photos like this amazing view from astrophotographer James L. Jenkins, Jr. The photo shows the Milky Way over Bodie Light at Hatteras National Seashore in North Carolina.

* * * *

Sincerity Machine: The Comic Sans Typewriter

* * * *

Pascal Blanche is building a stunning sci-fi universe

Unsurprisingly, the work of Foss, McQuarrie, and their ilk helped inspire Blanche to get into art in the first place. While Star Wars was the jumping off point, Blanche rattles off a list of some of the biggest names in science fiction and fantasy as his influences: Frank Frazetta, Mœbius, and books like Dune and pretty much everything by Isaac Asimov. “All of the classics,” he says. His personal site even includes a large list of his inspirations.

His initial goal was to work in animation, but when he discovered computers, and their potential to “help me create whatever I wanted,” he decided video games might be a better place for his talents. Prior to working at Ubisoft he freelanced for the likes of Magic the Gathering creator Wizards of the Coast, but video games let him “create more living worlds,” he explains.

Outside of his day job, Blanche is currently working on a personal project called “Stardust.” He calls it something he “had in the back of my mind” for ages, but what it is isn’t exactly clear. Right now “Stardust” is a Tumblr filled with beautiful art: colorful illustrations of ships flying through a hazy space, and towering, Death Star-like structures floating among the stars. Though there’s no descriptions for the different pieces, they all feel connected through color and style. It’s clear they’re part of the same universe — hopefully one we’ll be seeing more of in the future.

Here is some of that nice Tumblr art:


Pop Culture Link Round Up 10.18.14

Pop Culture Link Round Up 10.14.14

Ben Affleck and Matt Damon Developing Thriller for Syfy Network

The long-time friends and frequent collaborators are working with cable network Syfy to develop Incorporated, a spy thriller about a man trying to stand up to a futuristic world where big corporations rule, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Um, perhaps someone should tell Affleck and Damon that this isn’t really a sci-fi idea bc the world we live in is already run by corporations.

* * * *

Nintendo & Disney Mashups by Michael Villamejor

Mickey + Mario
Peter Pan + Link
Minnie Mouse & Pluto + Mega Man

Go check out more of his mashup!

* * * *

If you’re a Social Justice Warrior, then odds are you’ve encountered people who fling the term around with disdain, as if it’s an insult.  Silly, I know.  The idea that advocating for improving the lives others is an insult is just about the dumbest thing ever. Still, it happens.  Now, one enterprising person has come up with a snarky solution:

Make Your Computer Auto-Convert Any Mention Of “SJW” To “Skeleton” For Maximum Spoopiness

Created by Alex Hong, the Chrome Extension is available for free right here.Certain tweets suggest that the idea began in the GooberGrape subreddit, which we can’t confirm that because why would we ever go to there ever? But if that is the case, there’s something kind of satisfying about knowing that both sides of this debacle think that everything is better when you stop having to read “SJW” everywhere.

* * * *

The “vampire grave” was discovered in southern Bulgaria by Professor Nikolay Ovcharov, an archeologist described by various news outlets as “the Bulgarian Indiana Jones.” (That is entirely too little information for my taste!) Ovcharov found the 13th-century remains while excavating the ruins of Perperikon, an ancient city rediscovered only twenty years ago and thought to be the site of The Temple of Dionysus. In addition to a citadel and fortress, archaeologists now believe Perperikon to contain a series of vampire graves. Ovcharov says of his most recent find,

We have no doubts that once again we’re seeing an anti-vampire ritual being carried out […] Often they were applied to people who had died in unusual circumstances – such as suicide. […] The ploughshare weighs almost two pounds and is dug into the body into a broken shoulder bone. You can clearly see how the collarbone has literally popped out.


“Vampire graves” have been uncovered at nearby sites as well–two similar skeletons discovered 200 miles east of Perperikon have been nicknamed “the twin vampires of Sozopol.”  In addition to the “vampire” remains, Bulgarian Indy also uncovered the skeletons of a mother and her baby buried in the image of the Virgin Mary and her child; a practice thought to ward off plague. Yep, if you weren’t suicidal or disposing of a vampire in the 13th century, it’s probably because you were busy succumbing to a horrible disease. Scrap all time machines, team! We’d be dead before you can say “bubonic.

* * * *

Gillian Anderson wants to be in the all-female Ghostbusters

Who ya gonna call?
Dana Scully!

* * * *

I normally only do 5 links bc, well…there’s no reason. It’s just traditions dammit. Everyone knows how important tradition is. Just ask theists.  Oh, wait…

Ok, I’m breaking tradition then.  I’m a rebel I tells ya!

So my first act as a rebel is to ask the question no one else is asking: What the hell is up with pumpkin spiced everything this year? Did I just fall asleep last October? Did god send pumpkin spices down for the first time this year instead of resurrecting his only begotten son?  I mean seriously, there are:

Pumpkin Spice Pringles

Pumpkin Spice Oreos

Pumpkin Burgers from Burger King Japan

Pumpkin Spice Lasagna

Pumpkin Spice Soy Milk

(I was going to include the Pumpkin Spice Tampons, but those are apparently a hoax)



Pop Culture Link Round Up 10.14.14