Thursday, March 25, 2010

Actor Robert Culp Dies

There's word out of Hollywood that actor Robert Culp has died. The 79-year-old reportedly collapsed and hit his head outside of his home today.

While others may talk about his roles in I Spy and The Man from UNCLE, I'll remember Culp for playing the FBI handler of a bumbling superhero in The Greatest American Hero.

I don't know of any other actor who could have delivered the phrase "the magic jammies" as part of his dialogue as often as Culp did with as perfect a mix of sarcasm and seriousness.

Indigo Launches E-Reader - Who Cares?

The CBC's reporting that Canadian big box bookstore chain Indigo is launching its own e-book reader, the Kobo. The $149 device is reportedly intended to take a swipe at Amazon's Kindle.

So what?

Watching the raft of e-reader announcements over the past couple of years, I haven't been able to shake the feeling that this is a dead-end technology. Like the PDA fad of the 90's (which I bought into), I think the e-book devices are destined to fall prey to the ubiquitous cell phone.

After all, Apple's iPhone has apps that can download and read e-books, and since every other cell phone manufacturer seems to be falling all over themselves to imitate the iPhone's form and function, it's a pretty good guess that other phones can do this too. If that's the case, legions of people already own (and will own, as they gradually upgrade from older format phones to iPhones and their clones) phones that are capable of reading e-books and are much more portable than the e-book readers. Why would they bother spending more money on another gadget? I'm a book addict, and I wouldn't! Now, you may argue that some people will be seduced by the larger screen the e-readers offer. But come on, if it's a larger reading surface you're looking for, why not just download and read off of a netbook? In this neck of the woods, netbooks are almost as standard under every arm and in every briefcase, backpack and purse as cellphones are, so again, no need to go out and spend more on an e-reader.

Then of course, there's the good, old-fashioned, paper book. No batteries or waiting on charging times or jacking up your electric bill required to make them work. And real books look, feel and smell nice too. Some things are made to last forever.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Indulging in some Geeky Gushing

In the past week or so there have been a couple of items of SF (passed along by the good folks over at SF Signal) that rate high enough on the awesome-o-meter to warrant a bit of fanboy fanfare.

Most recently, there's the release of the new, nearly two-and-a-half minute trailer for Tron Legacy (formerly known as Tron 2, formerly - and stupidly - known as Tr2n). If the teaser that came out a few months ago grabbed you like it did me, you'll love this montage. The original Tron ranks up there as one of my favourite SF films, and while I've been trying to curb my enthusiasm out of fear of disappointment, the more hints I see of the sequel, the more optimistic and excited I'm feeling. And here's a mini-spoiler: the shot of the recognizer, and the scene with the lightcycles rocked!

And looking back a few days, news came out that HBO has given the go-ahead for the production of the TV adaptation of George RR Martin's A Game of Thrones. The pilot and nine episodes have been ordered and the series is set to debut in spring 2011. If the series lasts, each book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series would get its own season. Woohoo! Uh, but, wait... I don't have HBO Canada as part of my cable package! Dammit! Well, I guess I've got a year to come up with some good reasons that might convince my wife to approve an increase in our cable bill.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Bad Taste: Vancouver Restaurateur Claims "Avatar" Copied from His Work

The Province newspaper reports that a Vancouver restaurateur is planning to sue James Cameron and others behind the movie Avatar, claiming it was copied from a work he wrote in 1997. Emil Malak alleges about 60% of the blockbuster's story is the same as the script for his tale, Terra Incognita. Malak says he'd tried unsuccessfully to shop the script around to a number of Hollywood studios, including Cameron's company, back in 2002.

I know one method the judge could use to tell right away whether or not these allegations are true: go see the movie, then read this guy's script. If Terra Incognita is actually a good story, then there's no way Cameron ripped it off for Avatar.