The Write Channel

Giant leaf fell on a boy. Mayor ate too much and got sick. Kid bites dog. Grammar gets mangled. The Write Channel chronicled the not-so-gonzo journalism career of insect reporter R.B. Bug, spitting out the facts on a 70s local newscast under the watchful eye of editor/anchor Red Green.  No, not that Red Green. R.B. covered surreal events around town in a basic, straight-laced manner, suitable for illiterates and the E.S.L. classroom.  That’d be where I encountered this fine bit of educational programming.  Though I was already sawing my way through Isaac Asimov, in 4th grade they sat our narrow asses down in rows to watch our weekly installment of a stop-motion bug talking with all the speed and juicy detail of a Midwesterner with a concussion. (Yeah I went there, Minneapolis.) Still, credit is due for the end bit (the ominously named The Club) that goads viewers to fiction, […]

Wonderworks Presents: Konrad

Spacey Earth mother type receives someone else’s mail.  Surprisingly, mail is not a half kilo of uncut yayo but a barrel containing a dessicated lab-grown boy and a packet of nutrient gel.  Mom’s bad with instructions, the Factory gets steamed that this mistaken delivery is quirking out their prized specimen, Ned Beatty is somehow involved.  Hilarity ensues. This would be another bit of children’s programming most commonly remembered through the haze of a fever dream, the sort of thing that was always playing on PBS at 2 PM on the day you stayed home sick from school.  It bears the Wonderworks stamp, placing it in the company of other book to TV adaptations as the original Chronicles of Narnia and the Hoboken Chicken Emergency.  I’m pretty sure this is the first movie I ever snobbishly asserted was better as a book than as a movie.  Still, where else are you […]

Winter of the Witch

Was anyone else subjected to this 16mm reel of insanity? My elementary school was a frequent abuser of the mass control tactic of dropping all the kids in a room with a janitor or reading aide and putting on a movie while the teachers had a meeting or snuck out to the bar or whatever.  If it was a school-wide thing, they’d drop us all in the cafeteria and put on Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory or Beethoven’s 2nd, reasoning that there were lessons to be learned from watching creepy Machiavellian Gene Wilder kill off annoying children or just gazing deeply into Charles Grodin’s baseball mitt-like face.  This sort of impromptu movie day was also a pretty solid signal that a teacher had died and they were figuring out how to spring the news on us. Beethoven says “Say it with Puppies!” At any rate, the above masterwork, Winter […]

Tomes & Talisman: A Library WTF Venture

Produced by Mississippi ETV in 1986, Tomes & Talisman presented library and research concepts with a scifi drama. Ms. Bookhart, a librarian from the world of 2123 compiles with her compatriots a library of all human knowledge– which incidentally is in book form and about the size of an average high school library. Humans were forced off Earth by a race called “The Wipers” who have drunken frat boy at a Midwestern tailgating party level technology: as in yell and throw things. So naturally faced up against the hooligans humans have to evacuate. Bookhart’s library is missing one book, so she sets out in the bookmobile hours before the last evacuation to find it. Bookhart then meets a deus ex machina generic cloaked spirt guy with magic powers who puts her to sleep for 100 years called “The Universal Being.” Oh, then there are these Nordic Anglo Saxon looking aliens […]

Only NanoBot STDs Can Save the Whales!

Whale penises are big these days.  (Pun!) Perhaps the greatest metric of humankind’s power is that not only have we trashed fat tracts of the 30% of the Earth that we run around on but we’ve somehow managed to screw up the 70% we can’t even live in.  Yes friend, the ocean’s got problems.  Human impact has crashed populations of sea life, leaving us in a situation where once common fish on the menu may be extinct within our lifetimes.  Meanwhile, sushi is more popular than ever, especially among the well-informed and well-meaning types most likely to cry while watching The Cove. While river dolphins are undeniably fucked, ocean dolphins are plentiful enough to use as jet ski ramps, if that’s your cup of tea, without danger of wiping them out.  The most compelling reason not to eat dolphin is that they are a high-end predator and thus accumulate dangerous […]

From the Archives: Crichton Latitudes

Crichton wasn’t as steeped in maritime history as, say, Patrick O’Brian, author of “Master and Commander” and the other Aubrey-Maturin novels, but he acquits himself well enough in describing how slower-burning fuses can be made from opossum guts, how to survive a hurricane at sea and how to sabotage Danish cannons. The precision of the historical detail helps conceal the thinness of the characterizations, as everyone in the book, from Hunter on down, is a type, not a three-dimensional individual. -Michael Berry’s review of Pirate Latitudes As you may know, this website’s content was originally intended to be fairly Michael Crichton-centric. In honor of the posthumous publication of the Crichton pirate novel Pirate Latitudes, I thought I’d dredge up some chum from the lies cellar of the good ship TITLE‘s alternate reality Wikipedia: Cryptic Crichton Statements: Immediately subsequent to the Sept. 11 attacks and for three months afterward, Crichton faxed […]

Moving Paper

The above video is presently blowing up on Twitter, sending me off looking for more stop-motion/psuedo stop-motion papercraft.  Oddly, I spent a good chunk of last night tearing up sheets of paper and moving them millimeters.  If there’s a more introverted activity than stop-motion animation, I’d like to hear of it. Mercifully, here’s a jump, with more on the other side for those with time on their hands.

First Impressions of My Second Life

It could be said I have a hard-on for obsolescence.  Maybe it’s in gratitude for the wrecked and decrepit giving us the gift of seeing enduring efficiency by contrast.  Maybe it’s a desperate grasping for something to be nostalgic about as things are birthed and flame out over and over through life’s journey.  Maybe I’m just petty and like to laugh at failure.  All these are good reasons to take a trip into Second Life. Second Life is the past’s vision of the internet’s future, back the internet was always capitalized and sometimes likened to a highway made of Al Gore’s divine gleaming seed.  Go thumb through the bits of Snow Crash that talk about the Metaverse and see if it sounds familiar.  Yeah, that was 1992.  Second Life is the fulfillment of the cyberpunk dream of ditching the flesh and having an avatar functional enough to really live a […]

1,600 Terrorists a Day

The Washington Post reported today that the U.S. intelligence community adds 1,600 names a day to its terrorist watch list, according to the FBI.  Now a number like that is irresistible to a man with a calculator and twelve years of public programming that says math is important. So how long would it take to get everyone in the U.S. on that list?  Well, the U.S. population is presently estimated at 307,845,181 (damn, just went up by 42… 13 of them are Screamin’ Jay Hawkins‘… somehow) and let’s do it in years just to round it off nicely…  307,845,181 at 1600 a day, divided by 365 and you’ve got about 193 years until we’ve got every American on the terrorist watch list. Of course, this is some godawful math that means very, very little.  There’s already a million entries on the list, 400,000 of them estimated to be unique individuals.  […]

Colossi on the Brain

For whatever reason, I’ve been stuck thinking about massive statues of the human form lately.  I think a great deal of the enduring appeal of colossal humanoid statues is some kind of innate human tendency toward idolatry.   Somewhere in these crazy primate brains there’s a fixation on the idea of directly building a god. Is this how termites feel about building their mounds?  Do honeybees approach their hives with the same fascination we feel when catching a glimpse of the 305 ft Statue of Liberty?  Maybe if it was a functional structure… One of the most compelling visions of colossi as infrastructural elements would be the nearly unwatchable 1997 movie Batman & Robin.  Waiting for the next scene to feature a sixteen story colossus holding up a winding highway overpass was all that kept me from walking out of that one. Odd that supervising art director Richard Holland doesn’t appear […]