Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Top 5 Robots of All Time

Well it's been a while since my last post and a while since my last top 5 list, so I decided to grace you, my valuable readers, with my picks for the best robots ever created from any medium. In order from great to amazingly awesome.

5. KITT from Knight Rider
So he's not your traditional robot, but he is an artificial intelligence inside a mobile metallic structure, so that's close enough for me. (Besides, every top 5 list should have one unorthodox choice in it.) The suave voice coupled with the sleek black exterior make for one very cool cat. And it doesn't hurt that he could also turbo jump over just about anything.

4. Gir from Invader Zim
He is wonderfully inept, and the best part of the show. Not only is he immensely quotable ("I need them or my head will explode. It does that some times.") he also serves to keep the show from getting too dark and twisted (though it does come pretty close when he's not around).

3. Marvin the Paranoid Android from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Eternally depressed and pessimistic, Marvin brings a laugh to every page he's featured on. You would think someone with a brain the size of a planet would find something to be happy about or find something more useful to do than park spaceships, but I guess that wouldn't be nearly as funny.

2. R2-D2 from Star Wars
The guy is a walking (well, rolling) Swiss army knife. Add to that his ability to communicate a wide range of emotions through beeps and squeals and you have the most endearing character in the Star Wars saga. And if you haven't, check out the real story behind his rise to fame in R2-D2: Beneath the Dome.

1. Tom Servo from Mystery Science Theater 3000
He is wonderfully expressive despite having inarticulate arms and no eyes. He has a fine singing voice. He looks good in a dress. He can plug hull breaches just by sitting on them. And most importantly of all, he makes fun of really bad movies. He's so awesome, it's no wonder that he is the one that gets to be carried into the theater while that other one has to walk in on his own.

Of course the list wouldn't be complete without a couple honorable mentions, so here they are:
The Robot from Metropolis - One of the first robots captured on film, and a wonderfully creepy one at that.
The Transformers - I can't pick one over all the others, but it's hard to deny the coolness of something that is both a robot and a car.
G2-9T from Star Tours - Listening to this guy while standing in line is almost better than the ride itself. Almost.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Sherida Made Me Do It

I got tagged by Sherida when she did this silly survey thingy, so I think that means I have to fill it out as well. But it doesn't mean I have to cooperate.

A - Available/Single? Well I am single, but to say I'm available is to imply I'm actively searching with a "this space for rent" sign hanging under my arm which is not the message I wish to convey at this current moment in time.

B - Best Friend? His first name is Josh, I just haven't decided what his last name is yet.

C - Cake or Pie? I'm rather fond of pi. Whenever dumb surveys ask me to pick a number, I always go with pi. It's also a pretty good movie.

D - Drink of Choice? Milk.

E - Essential Item You Use Everyday? Oxygen.

F - Favorite Color? Navy blue.

G - Gummy Bears or Worms? Well, Gummy Bears was a fun TV show, but I think I would find it silly now that I'm older. On the flipside, Worms is a very fun game, and it's hard not to like a game with weapons such as the super sheep, old woman, priceless Ming vase, and of course, the holy hand grenade. I'm going with Worms.

H - Hometown? Lincoln, IL, Kokomo, IN, Madang, PNG, Duncanville, TX. Take your pick.

I - Indulgence? I don't believe in indulgences. You cannot buy grace.

J - January or February? It's always bugged me the way February is spelled, so I'll go with January.

K - Kids & Their Names? I don't have any goats.

L - Life Is Incomplete Without? Death and Taxes.

M - Marriage Date? November 31.

N - Number Of Siblings? 2.

O - Oranges or Apples? You want me to compare colors to computers? Why don't I just get an orange Apple computer and have the best of both worlds?

P - Phobias/Fears? Phobophobia.

Q - Favorite Quote? You can pick your friends and you can pick your nose, but please don't pick your friend's nose.

R - Reason to Smile? A smile is an emotional response. Reason has nothing to do with it.

S - Season? Pepper or cinnamon.

T - Tag Three People? Abraham Lincoln, Steven Spielberg, Karl Gambolputty de von Ausfernschpledenschlittercrasscrenbonfriediggerdingledangledongledunglebursteinvonknackerthrasherapplebangerhorowitzticolensicgranderknottyspelltinklegrandlichgrumblemeyerspelterwasserkurstlichhimbleeisenbahnwagengutenabendbitteeinnurnburgerbratwustlegerspurtenmitzweimacheluberhundsfutgumberaberschonendankerkalbsfleischmittleraucher von Hautkopft of Ulm

U - Unknown Fact About Me? If I tell you, it won't be unknown now will it?

V - Vegetables You Don't Like? Jr. Asparagus. His voice is annoyingly high, and he's way too sensitive when it is suggested he is wearing cheese on his head.

W - Worst Habit? Misinterpreting questions.

X - X-rays You've Had? The dentist told me he took x-rays of my teeth, but I have to take his word for it.

Y - Your Favorite Food? Pure, unadulterated dark chocolate

Z - Zodiac Sign? Watch for falling rocks.

There we go. I have discharged my duties to the worst of my abilities.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Nietschze Saturday

I was trying to come up with an appropriate post for Nietschze Saturday, and nothing seemed appropriate. So let me just say that even though you may not be seeking Zarathustra, it doesn't mean Zarathustra is not seeking you. So have a contemplative Nietschze Saturday.

Monday, April 2, 2007

5 Films to Avoid

In conjunction with my post from yesterday, I would like to submit to you, my benevolent readers, five films from the 50s and 60s that you should avoid at all costs. They are in order from horrible to unimaginable slop.

The Starfighters (1964)
I think there's a story floating around in here, but most of the film consists of stock footage of Air Force maneuvers intercut with unbelievably dull scenes of people talking. I'm not sure if it's supposed to be a film made by the Air Force for propaganda purposes, or if someone just came across a vault full of Air Force stock footage and decided to make a movie around it. Oh, and there is an endless succession of shots of planes refueling in midair (in fact it might even be the same footage Kubrick used for the opening of Dr. Strangelove).

Santa Claus (1959)
This film is incredibly painful to watch. I don't know what the writers were smoking when they thought this one up, but the Santa Claus featured in this movie bears no resemblance to the Santa Claus that I keep hearing stories about. The fact that he has child labor from all over the world is disturbing, and his toy wind-up reindeer are frightening enough to give even me nightmares, let alone unsuspecting children. And who thought it would be a good idea to cast Satan as Santa Claus' nemesis?

The Robot vs. the Aztec Mummy (1958)
This is classic B-movie fare. The Aztec Mummy doesn't look scary in the slightest, and the Robot from the title doesn't show up until the end. It's a good thing too, the costume was so laughable that I would have been damaged for life with more prolonged exposure to it. There is a plot (I think) but it mostly consists of an archaeologist or something reviewing what already happened to a room full of people that were all there when it all happened the first time around. It's as if the director had all these scenes, but had no way to tie them all together, so he had his main character expound to his compatriots to fill in the gaps. I think there's a bad guy in it as well. Of course what I find the most astounding is that it still occasionally screens at the Egyptian Theater (how is that for a double bill with Lawrence of Arabia?).

Red Zone Cuba (1966)
If you are able to overlook the bad acting, the bad screenplay, the poor casting, the repetitious editing, the lousy characters, the cheesy sets, the awful Fidel Castro impersonator, the theme song sung by John Carradine, and the fact that you have no idea WHAT is going on, it is still a bad movie. Written, directed, and produced by Colman Francis, it is part of the unholy trinity of Colman Francis films which also include Skydivers (1963) and The Beast of Yucca Flats (1961), which lost its soundtrack in post, so has a stupid narrator telling the audience all about what is going on.

"Manos," the Hands of Fate (1966)
This is the worst movie ever made, and so painful to watch, I will never forget the pain that it caused me. It is 100% likable character free, and the "shocking" ending is just dumb. It is supposed to be incredibly frightening, but the only things that frightened me with this movie were Torgo's knees (you know what I'm talking about if you've seen it) and the fact that I may make something as bad as this, and not recognize its horrendousness before it is unleashed on an unwitting public. Three of the actors committed suicide shortly after the movie ended shooting. Coincidence? I think not. I guess this is what should be expected from a manure salesman.

If you feel the need to visit any of these films, please do yourself a favor and watch it with three of the following: Joel Robinson, Mike Nelson, Tom Servo, or Crow T. Robot.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Five Overlooked Films

In the interest of educating you, my beloved readers, I have provided five films of note for your consideration from the 50s and 60s that while not often counted among the ranks of the great films of their era, have enough merit within them to warrant consideration of inclusion within the pantheon of great films. (In order from fifth to first best.)

The Starfighters (1964)
This is the heart wrenching story of a young Air Force fighter pilot who has to prove himself to his father who is both a congressman and a decorated Air Force pilot in his own right. This in and of itself would make for a wonderful film, but we are also treated to a glimpse into the daily lives of Air Force pilots and the rigorous training they have to endure to become the best of the best. As a added bonus, the footage of the pilots doing their maneuvers features actual Air Force jets in the performance of their duties; to the best of my knowledge no trickery with models is used.

Santa Claus (1959)
This whimsical tale from Mexico is a reimagining of the classic tales of Santa Claus. All the contraptions in Santa's headquarters (it's much too spacious and elaborate simply to be called a "workshop") look like giant toys. It also works as a morality tale as we follow the trials of little Lupita, who must struggle against the temptations of evil to make the right decisions. Add to that cleverly worked in characters from mythology, and what results is a delightful film to be enjoyed by the whole family.

La Momia azteca contra el robot humano (1958)
Another film from Mexico, this supernatural thriller examines the nature of memory and how our memories can be used against us, as well as the nature of humanity in general. It's also told out of linear fashion, which keeps the audience on its toes.

Night Train to Mundo Fine (1966)
Writer-director Coleman Francis stars as an escaped convict who tries his best to become a respectable citizen, but whose past refuses to give him up. This tragic antihero tries to gain respectability by joining the ill-fated Bay of Pigs invasion, and when that fails, tries to be a miner. But even though his intentions are good, he is forced to continually break the law, just to keep himself alive, culminating in a tragic conclusion. Also of note are Coleman Francis' other two films: Fiend from Half Moon Bay (1963) and Girl Madness (1961) which feature similar themes of an outsider's inability to fit in with mainstream society.

The Lodge of Sins (1966)
This film is a cautionary tale, examining what happens when one family comes too close to the flame of evil and gets burned. What makes the film even more terrifying is that not even the young daughter or her small dog are immune to the influences of evil, and are pulled in just as deeply as her parents are. Special note must be made to writer-director Harold P. Warren, who refuses to cut away from the horrors on screen, but lets the camera linger, forcing the audience to take in the full impact the horrors present. And at the conclusion of the film, when the cycle starts all over again, it is both shocking and yet the pitch-perfect end to the film. Sadly, the film was not well received on its initial run, which deprived the world of any further gems from Warren.