Just watched the PBS Hamilton musical documentary, and it made me cry all over again to witness the genius that went into making this brilliant show. I got to relive in some small way that once-in-a-lifetime experience. And I realized - this right here is the parallel experience with those lucky few who got to see Shakespeare’s plays live, the first time, with him on stage if he actually did that, at least sometimes.
 
I can confidently say this show is one of the greatest works of art I have ever witnessed, perhaps the greatest work of art of our time, because it represents such a vast array of genius concentrated in a single work, which is accessible to every type of audience from first time fan to most educated scholar. On top of that, it’s so perfectly relevant for this moment in history, when it’s most needed.
 
AND I GOT TO SEE IT IN PERSON, in its Broadway premier run, with the original cast, from the perspective of the best seats in the house, right behind the most excited people in the world because they’d just won the lottery to see this historic event from the front row - and beside me was my partner who was so happy and excited to be here, too! OMG.
 
Perfect in every way.
 
Oh! How delightfully our popular media has changed! I love so much of today’s popular art. When I want to feel happy, I can put on Bob’s Burgers or Brooklyn Nine Nine, or Jupiter Ascending, or read something by John Scalzi or Iain M Banks, or go to so many others, and just like that I find joy and truth. There’s always a movie in the theater I look forward to seeing some time in the near future. There’s always a book I want to read, or graphic novel, or YouTube short, or Tumblr post, or song, or piece of art from other disciplines. There’s always some science or technology I want to learn more about. Photos of distant worlds or microscopic realms. Potential better futures abound - they’re all around us, if only we’re willing to partake of them. And every one of us is invited to be a part of it - not only in the consumption of it, but also the creation.
 
Now feels like the cusp of the most democratic moment in art and scientific pursuit and progressive justice and positive progress the human species has ever seen. Sure, we have a long way to go, but the zeitgeist is moving firmly away from the haters (which is why they’re getting so afraid and vocal) and toward the positive. Art always leads the way. It shows us who we are and guides us toward better possible futures (and warns us away from the bad ones).
 
We no longer need to trade our sense of justice, or fairness, or truth, or intellect, to fully enjoy today’s best art. We no longer need to only fear the changes that are coming ever faster. We can have it all!
 
When has this ever been true before? We’re living in the transition moment into a Golden Age! And it’s one where people are finally beginning to understand the interdisciplinary nature of creative and scientific work.
 
All this got me thinking… what’s so appealing about the idea of a new Magnificent 7? I mean, what’s the point of making a new cowboy movie now, or a remake of this story all over again, at all? And why all the other reboots we’re getting? 
 
And why is science fiction quickly becoming perhaps the most popular and relevant art-form of our time - and becoming more so every day?
 
Because, I would argue, for the same reasons that so many people love the new Star Wars movie, and Hamilton, and the new Mad Max, and the new Ghostbusters, and Agent Carter, and the idea of the upcoming Wonder Woman movie, and so much more:
 
These narratives help us perceive essential truths about human nature that have long been ignored, or undiscovered, or rejected, or hidden away by the mainstream. Because we now understand you can’t separate science from art - or art from science - any longer without causing violence to both… as well as to the truth. These contemporary expressions show us how great humans can become - better than ever! - if we face our past and potential futures honestly, and understand ourselves and others better, so we can reenvision the past and ourselves honestly while being able to imagine better futures and help bring them about.
 
What a time to be alive right now! This is so important, and so incredibly inspiring, both as a creative person and teacher, and human being as well.
 
And I was in the room where it happened. THE ROOM WHERE IT HAPPENED!
 
You who are striving to create a better, wiser future, or to overtly express it to others in whatever way you do best, I salute you. Thank you. I love you all! 
I went to see the movie a few days ago, and loved it. Like many people, I, too, harbored qualms about supporting a project that might profit a hate-mongering, sexist homophobe, but I loved the story (and book), and the previews looked good. So I went, and was really pleased I did. Though I admit to having used a free pass to the theater that I'd been saving, on ethical grounds, I'd not feel bad if I had paid actual cash money.

Ender's Game (book or movie) is not Orson Scott Card; in many ways, it feels strange thinking that such a foul person could have written such a beautiful and painful story (which was brilliantly acted by young people in the movie). But he wrote it some two decades ago, when he was (presumably) not such an ass-hat as he comes across lately.

Do you have a problem with the movie? Consider Sturgeon's Law: "90% of everything is crud." I know a lot of people who would say the same thing about other human beings, that 90% of them aren't people you'd want to befriend. But if you deny yourself enjoying the 10% of stuff that's worthy of your attention because 90% of that was written by someone you find despicable (what's that leave, 1% or something?), you're in for a desolate life.

For more fantastic discussion about this, check out Tessa Gratton's powerfully personal post about this here. Also Bart Calendar's commentary on the issue of artist vs. art here.
Man, now I want to see this movie again:



Loved it. Must own the blu-ray... which, it appears, comes on on October 15. I know what I'm ordering that morning.

Chris
The new Riddick: Rule the Dark! (exclamation mark added for emphasis; why doesn't it come with an exclamation mark? All Riddick movies should come with exclamation marks) comes on in just over a week!

As if I needed any more reasons to see this movie, this'll do it: Riddick saves a space-puppy!


Click the image to see the short clip.

I love Vin Diesel for many reasons, but here's another one:



Yes:


Click the image to see the Penny Arcade page.

In other news, I'm heading to LoneStarCon3 on Friday morning (meaning I miss the James Gunn Guest-of-Honor reception on Thursday evening, which I helped organize... stupid first day of only-once-a-week class). Here's my WorldCon schedule (with a couple items I helped organize but can't attend):

Thursday
6:00pm - 8:00pm: Reception for students and close associates of Guest of Honor James Gunn

If you want to be part of this but haven't yet gotten an invite, let me know ASAP and I'll try to get you on the invite list! I'm sad that I can't attend, but I get to see Jim every week. Still, what's up with WorldCon starting on the Thursday of the first week of classes? ARGH.

Friday
5:00pm: "When is Hard SF Too Hard"
008A (Convention Center)
Nancy Kress, Michael J. Martinez, Christopher McKitterick, Jack Skillingstead.
Our panelists discuss the delicate balance between punching a button to go into hyperspace, and reaching for your calculator to figure out if you really could.

Saturday
4:00pm: "Cartography of Genre: Roman Epic Space Opera and the Academic Legacy of Jim Gunn"
008A (Convention Center)
Christopher McKitterick (Mod), Donald M. Hassler, Bob Cape
This includes a couple of papers: "Space Opera and the Greco-Roman Epic" Bob Cape, Austin College; "A Key Cartographer of the Genre: Jim Gunn" Donald M. "Mack" Hassler, Kent State University.

5:00pm: James Gunn Tribute
103B (Convention Center)
Michael Page, Gary K. Wolfe, Kij Johnson, Christopher McKitterick, John Kessel, and hopefully others!
A tribute by our panelists to LoneStarCon 3 Guest of Honor, James Gunn.

Sunday
5:30pm - 6:00pm: Reading: Christopher McKitterick
This one is uncertain, as at first I had thought I wasn't going to still be at the con on Sunday evening, so maybe and maybe not. *sigh*

Monday
Do you know a teacher, parent, librarian or anyone else interested in getting SF into the hands of young folks? The Center's two new AboutSF Volunteer Coordinator student-employees will present a "Teaching Science Fiction: A Workshop for Teachers, Librarians, and Parents" for much of the day on Monday. In their trial-run at ConQuest this year, they gave a fantastic presentation, and have been working hard at this longer version. I can't participate, as I'm on the plane during this time, but they'll do a great job, I'm sure. Check 'em out!

Okay, back to 1) writing and 2) work!

Best,
Chris
Now for some fun, especially for those who've watched HBO's "Game of Thrones" show.



And they've also posted Episode 2:



For some reason, this reminds me of the movie "Heathers," which [profile] chernobylred and I just watched for the first time last night. HOW DID I MISS THIS ONE? Check out this freaky trailer:



Last night, I kept asking aloud how I've never seen Heathers before. Here's what I came up with, which is both telling and ironic, considering what the movie is about:

I think it's because it came out in 1988, when I was in college and not dating anyone, and boys then saw it as a "girl's movie." That's right: Boys didn't allow themselves to see "girl's movies," and might still keep themselves from enjoying such. Not that Heathers is either a boy's or girl's movie, but it was perceived as such, partly because the lead is a girl (Winona Ryder). I never had that issue, but I've also never liked going to movies alone, so I missed out. BECAUSE OF THE DAMNED PATRIARCHY. I stopped myself from enjoying a film that would have blown me away at the time, because of cultural normativism. I'm a white guy in the US, yet I've been harmed by the retro-patriarchy. Just goes to show that we're ALL harmed by outmoded cultural norms.

Chris
Who knew? Next summer's blockbuster will be World War Z, based on Max Barry's novel. Looks like they've combined the various storylines into a single character played by Brad Pitt, which changes everything. Also, the zombies are runners rather than walkers, and the movie takes place starting with Z Day instead of afterward. But let's forget that for a moment and watch the excitement:

So let's think of this as just another cool zombie movie, and save the "But it's not World War Z!" ranting for afterward. This going to be awesome.

PS: Go see the new Bond movie if you haven't yet. I LOVED IT ALL. If you're a Bond fan, you'll be pleased, too.

Now I'm back to work.

Chris
Tags:
... or didn't grasp what in toothy hell Ridley Scott was trying to do?

Well, suffer no more! Here's an excellent blog post that examines all the symbolisms.

I stand by my prior declaration that Prometheus rocks.

Best,
Chris
Tags:
Okay, calling it quits on the writing for the day: Almost up to 15,000 words! I hope to hit 30,000 in the next week or two so I can send it (and the complete Empire Ship) off to an agent before all my time is consumed by the SF Writing Workshop, Campbell Conference, and SF Teaching Institute.
Adventures of Jack and Stella progress:


PS: Saw Prometheus today, and it was THE GREATEST MOVIE I HAVE SEEN IN MANY YEARS. Haven't seen it yet? GET OUT THERE. I loved the original Alien movie so much - heck, it was my favorite movie for at least a decade, and it's still in my top five, but this one is even more satisfying without screwing up the original story for Alien fans. It has it all: Gorgeous space and planetary vistas, cool tech, fantastic aliens, truly horrifying cosmological terror, and great SFnal ideas. Oh, and super acting and writing all around. The only things I could complain about are nitpicks. LOVE IT.

After you go, check out the amazing Weyland Industries website. That right there is serious coolness. Speaking of which, here's my employee ID. Looks like I'll be wearing a red shirt on my first mission....

Best,
Chris
Great stuff:

Fate, it teases me with inability to sleep when all evening I was barely able to stay awake. On the plus side, the near-perigee super-sized Moon is awesome!

Chris
Just WOW. Think you're a fan of the original Star Wars? The time and creativity invested by hundreds of fans on this project is immense. Wonderful!



Chris
1) Asimov's Science Fiction magazine editor Sheila Williams writes a lovely editorial about KU and the Center for the Study of Science Fiction, including happy memories of riding on the back of my scooter ;-)

2) Excellent article examining the Occupy and T-Party movements - how they're really just two halves of the same thing:


Click the image to read the piece.

3) I had hoped to show a pic of my fully repaired electric bicycle:

Unfortunately, I can't get the hub all apart to strip the torn wires. Backstory: Last year, I got a flat on the rear, where the motor resides in the hub. The lazy SOBs who assembled the bike in the first place had installed a nut on the axle in such a way that stripped the bolt, so when I removed said bolt, it rotated the axle in such a way that tore the wires loose *sigh* Last week, I got the wheel back from a local machine shop - axle's all fixed - and hoped to solder the wires this week. Not so much. Can't get the nut off the other side in order to get inside and work on the wires. Hmph. Later.


4) Pumpkin carving at my house over the weekend!




5) The KU Science Fiction Film Club also watched (John Carpenter's) The Thing after carving pumpkins. We'd intended to see the new prequel afterward in the classic movie-marathon tradition, but the motivation just wasn't there. I think everyone was concerned that it wouldn't live up to the original. I still plan to see it, but maybe on Blu-Ray....

Chris

CSSF Writers Workshop

Just one month left to apply for the Center for the Study of Science Fiction's summer Science Fiction Writers Workshop!

This summer, the fine author and fellow Young Gunn (that is, former Gunn student) Brad Denton joins us for Week Two of the Workshop, and James Gunn joins us for lunch, some workshopping (he's stepping back a bit), and random chats, and Kij Johnson will be there running her SF/F/H Novel Writer's Workshop during the same time. Days are filled with workshopping, nights with writing and dinner out in beautiful downtown Lawrence and movies and discussions late into the night. For ten years, this was my summer vacation, when I fell in love with this town and the Center, and when Jim became my SFnal Dad. Oh, and we'll workshop stories, discuss what works and doesn't in writing, analyze how to make it in today's publishing world, and talk about being human in the future. Don't miss it!

When: June 26 - July 8
Where: Lawrence, Kansas
Final deadline to apply: June 1
Cost: $500
Housing: Templin Hall, conveniently the same dorm where we meet



Campbell Conference

Right after both workshops and before the Intensive Institute on the Teaching of Science Fiction (available for credit or not) is the Campbell Conference and Awards Ceremony, honoring our Campbell Award and Sturgeon Award winners plus SF in general. It's a fabulous event and a great wrap for the Workshops (and kickoff for the Institute). We're firming up plans now, and we'll soon add a few more special guests. If you'll be in the area - or not! - plan to be here!

Buddy Holly Is Alive and Well on Ganymede Movie

Speaking of Brad and his awesomeness, the new indie movie based on his Campbell Award-winning novel, Buddy Holly Is Alive and Well on Ganymede is now in production! If you'd like to read this book but don't have the cash for a rare, out-of-print copy, Brad also offers it for free download on his site. Here's the teaser trailer:



KaCSFFS Writers Workshop

If you don't have two weeks but want to talk spec-fic writing with Robin Wayne Bailey, Rob Chilson, and me, come on over to the KaCSFFS Writers Workshop at the at The Writers Place.

When: Saturday, May 21, at 6:00pm
Where: 3607 Pennsylvania Avenue, Kansas City, Missouri
What's included: Finger foods, tea, and coffee
Cost: Free to dues-paid KaCSFFS members, $30 to the public - everyone is welcome!

Questions?

Lemme know! Hope to see you at one of these events.

Chris
mckitterick: Yes, this is one of my actual scooter helmets. RESPECT THE EMPIRE. (computer monkey)
( Nov. 10th, 2010 12:52 pm)
Okay, my last post of the day, I promise:



I'll give you a moment to clean up. There, now wasn't that nice?

TRON IS COMING!


(Please don't suck, please don't suck...)

Chris
mckitterick: Yes, this is one of my actual scooter helmets. RESPECT THE EMPIRE. (John Crichton)
( Jul. 1st, 2010 02:46 pm)
Wow, this is a really cool little flick! It's a 30-minute short that I couldn't stop watching (unlike some of the actual Batman films). If you're a fan of the Dark Knight, you'd better watch soon, because I'm sure the IP owners will take it down soon....

Chris
mckitterick: Yes, this is one of my actual scooter helmets. RESPECT THE EMPIRE. (EngineDiagram)
( Jun. 17th, 2009 01:33 am)
Have you seen Will Smith's recent movie, Hancock? Also starring Charlize Theron and Jason Bateman.

Just finished watching it and the special features, and I have to say it was fantastic! I have no idea why it didn't do well in the theater or why I haven't been able to talk any of my friends into watching it with me. It made me laugh out loud long enough that I had to rewind, cry and smile and think and feel in so many ways. A fantastic movie, can't recommend it enough - though I suspect you need to care about superheroes and humans and superhumans enough to understand the themes.

Go see (rather, rent or buy) Hancock!

One of these days, when I have the car up and running perhaps, I'll make another progress post on the Newport. Worked on it all day and will do the same tomorrow. Suffice to say that I've been documenting the build and will have a few tutorials on my website for others who are rebuilding their Mopar big-blocks. Tomorrow, I install the heads. Getting exciting!

Chris
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