Wait, Roll Back to 1906…

Ok, ok, so I said there was no sci-fi movie to speak of in 1906.  I was very wrong, and have in fact come across two of such!  The choice between them was reasonably clear, essentially due to the fact that one of them was not made by Georges Méliès, and therefore  worth watching simply as the first look at somebody else’s visions of things that we’ve seen so far.

I will note, however, that the decision to discard the Méliès this time was by no means an easy one, and I’ll explain why; it’s called Le dirigeable fantastique, which you’d expect translated to The Fantastic Airship or something similar in English.  No.  What seems to be the accepted standard English title for that film is Inventor Crazybrains and his Wonderful Airship.  That is a film that absolutely has to be worth a butchers at some point.  It seems the French have a linguistic concept known as the “silent Inventor Crazybrains”.

But, as I said; there is finally a film available for me to watch that wasn’t made by an eccentric French illusionist.  Oh, wait, it seems to have been made by a different eccentric French illusionist…  Well, his dad was a magician, at least.  I’m talking about a guy called Gaston Velle.

Possibly even more of a dude than Georges?

Now, Gaston Velle is much harder to find out about than Georges was.  For example, the English Wikipedia has no entry on him whatsoever, and this is something that terrified me to discover.  However, being the intrepid soul I am, I ventured to the murky depths of the French Wikipedia, where there’s a very small biography of the man.

As I said, he was the son of a French magician called Joseph Velle.  He lived a good long life from 1868 to 1953, and over the course of a good career worked at both Pathé and Cines Italian, apparently causing a bit of a bitter row about plagiarism (he was, after all, very important creatively at both within a very short period of time…).

Anyway, let’s get on to the film.  It’s a black and white silent job, as all were at that time.  It  is also very interesting to watch, for a good reason which I’ll explain in a moment.  First, let me announce our 1906 sci-fi movie;

Voyage autour d’une étoile (Voyage Around a Star)

This may sound very familiar to you.  After all, the first of this series of films, only four years previously in 1902, was Méliès’s Journey to the Moon.  And it is a very similar film, in some ways.  The plot; intrepid/frustrated astronomer finds himself gazing wistfully at the heavens through his telescope and announces a plan to get himself there.  So far so similar.  His motivation for getting there?  Pretty ladies.  Again, following in Georges’s footsteps.

But the differences are there, and in a roughly eight minute long silent film with a very similar plot, that’s no mean feat.  We open with a pretty standard shot of our astronomer (Bert) looking through his telescope at the night sky.  He has a gander at a couple of different heavenly bodies, and he likes what he sees, on the whole.  Let me explain;

So, that’s a 2:1 pretty girl/angry man ratio out in space.  He should publish that; cracking result.  The above transitions are achieved with a bit of clean stop-motion, using the astronomer’s window as a nice big frame to switch background screens.  On the whole, I think you’ll agree, the shots are much more clearly and simply laid out than those of Georges.  Somehow the quality of the images seems to be better too, although this is probably just an artefact of how the films have been stored over the years.

Bert finds himself thinking, “I need me some of that space-tail.  How, oh how, can I get myself up there?!”.  He calls in his sidekick/assistant, and they set to thinking.  Eventually, this new fellow comes up with a belter of an idea; we use bubbles.  “You know how when you stir up a soapy bowl, little bubbles come out and float up?  That’s literally all of the theory behind my idea.”

At first, the people are sceptical.

Eventually though, they get a working version of the bubble-flyer going.  It turns out it wasn’t really too hard; get one large bucket of soapy water, stir it up.  Job done; Bert gets into resultant huge bubble and off he floats.

Notice the faces in the stars with a sort of “what the fu-?” look on them.  I have to assume that these were actually girls looking through star-shaped holes cut into the set, as opposed to any clever super-impositions.

Cut to the stars, and the lovely star-lady from earlier on.  Seems she’s some kind of Queen amongst the other star ladies from the shot above; they all convene to discuss the recent sighting of a man floating up towards them in a giant bubble.

It is decided that they’ll welcome him.  Our lucky old astronomer enjoys gleeful dancing with nubile young star-ladies in their great hall (it’s inside the star; the middle opens up like a hatch and everyone climbs inside).  But only for a painfully short while.  Just as he’s really getting into the swing of all this attention, the grumpy old guy from Saturn shows up to ruin the party.  He shouts something like “we’ll have no trouble here!” and banishes poor Bert off the star into deep space.  Where, if Méliès has taught us anything, we know that you can easily and safely float back down to Earth using nothing more than your umbrella.

And that’s it!  Short, simple and decidedly a bit less surreal than somebody else’s voyage into space.  Still very much obviously of the same time, though; and at that point sci-fi was really just looking at the stage of “hey, look, wouldn’t it be cool if we could go into space?  I wonder what the bloody hell’s up there?”.  Developing, though, and very exciting!

Overall, I rate it at;

Seven floating bubble-astronomers out of ten!

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Tentacle Monsters, Mermaids and Impossible Bucket Physics

Ok, so first things first; I’ve been pretty much unable (with what I can assure you was literally A BIT of effort) to find a movie for 1906.  We’ll chalk that one up, once again, to sci-fi being in its early years still.

However, for 1907 we have a film called Vingt mille lieues sous les mers (Vingt mille means ‘20000’ in French, for all you Francophoné-pas) (which in turn almost certainly doesn’t mean ‘French speakers’ in French), which is a film adaptation of one Jules Verne’s science fiction novel of the same name.  In English, we know this story as 20000 Leagues Under the Sea.

Oh, so yeah.  Guess who made it.  I dare you.

I'm starting to find it very difficult to find even semi sensible pictures of that man. And I have had to find THREE.

That’s right, it’s everyone’s favourite film-making child of 1861, Georges Méliès!  He didn’t half have a bit of a monopoly on things at this stage of the development of film…

I think we can assume that, even though based on somebody else’s story, what I’m about to watch is outrageously surreal/silly/both.  Let’s find out!

As you can see, Georges has wasted even less time than usual with this one in cutting to the chase.  This still was taken 14 seconds into the film, and we’re already at the launching ceremony for the submarine you see in the background.  As is becoming almost formulaic by now, there’s a gaggle of gentle-women up on the balcony, and a small regiment of (I THINK) female members of the Navy there to give the submariner an entirely proper send-off.

Before you know it, we’re joined by the pilot of the vessel (I’ma call him Eddy) who’s a solemn, sensible sort of chap.  Except he’s not, he’s completely class; he does a kind of slapstick dance, packs three of the Navy girls into the submarine, stops to ask the other guy for directions off a map, then climbs in himself and we’re ready to roll.  All of this took only two minutes.

There’s a clever piece of trademark trickery here; you see the submarine with its hatch open in the background?  I’m pretty sure that hatch is much less mobile than it looks; everyone packs in close enough around the craft as to completely hide it, there’s a stop-motion kind of flicker and when everyone moves away there’s a sealed up submarine.  This allowed Méliès to then have it sink off screen (whatever the crew climbed into earlier has presumably been replaced by a static piece of wood with a submarine drawn on it).  Cunning, Georges.

Anyway, before you can say “what the HELL are those two men doing 20000 leagues under the sea?! Are they painting the set?!”, the craft’s seen cruising the ocean floor.

Submarine just minding its own business...

After that, we cut abruptly to a good two minutes of I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT.  One minute, there’s a couple of clever little shots of the submarine making its way through the depths, and then we cut to the following;

Now, it’s very possible that there’s either some piece of early-1900’s politics/history that I’m missing here, or even (having never read it myself) some plot element of Verne’s novel that would explain this huge five-pointed underwater star.  If you know what it is, please explain it to me.  Because I’m at a complete loss.

But it gets better!  The female/male cast ratio of this one by far outdoes any of the previous Méliès films; so far there’s only been two men on screen, and now we’re treated to an entire troupe of ladies dancing for a good minute or two in front of the star!

On a side note, if you have trouble understanding these stills, I feel for you.  These films are hard enough to work out when you can see everything moving; the moment you freeze the motion you’re stuck with trying to work out what different regions of either black or white relate to.  The above is essentially the same set as the picture of the star before, only now the star’s covered in seaweed and there’s roughly 20 dancers all helpfully dressed in the exact same white clothing in the foreground.  Yeah, difficult; sorry -__-

On a side-side note, I tend to watch these silent ones with my own playlist of music in the background.  I was watching these dancers while listening to a Knife Party dubstep remix, so there was, like, 96.5% more wub wub.

Immediately glossing over the hardcore rave scene (which I think may have been intended as a kind of transition method, much like the ultra-modern star wipe.  Except this one took up at least a good fifth of the movie), we see the submarine touch down on the ocean floor, and Eddy climbs out in search of more underwater babes.  But lo, there are dangers down here under the sea, and the most terrifying fake fish in the WORLD attacks!


This bit truly made me laugh out loud; the fish itself, as you can see, is pretty hilarious.  But the way it entered the shot was inspired; it just kind of glides clunkily in from the left of the screen, almost as if it’s being pushed on wheels.  Then the lower part of its mouth opens and shuts a few times like some kind of weird puppet and it wheels off to the left again, seemingly bored by events.  Cue massive crab; same story, right hand side.  All very trying for poor Eddy.

It’s worth noting that he now buggers off away from the submarine to a new set, and nothing is seen of the three Navy girls he took with him back up on the surface.  I don’t like to think what kind of nefarious purposes he brought them for, but certainly none of them left that ship…

At this point the actor has a bit of a romp around the set; he valiantly fights off a huge and presumably too expensive off-screen monster with his shirt, remembers that he’s supposed to be walking around like he’s 20,000 leagues under the sea (that is, with your arms out as if you’re sort of half swimming), gets his arm caught inside a clam, sniffs the clam (YES I know that’s rude, but it’s literally the only way to describe a moment in a film when somebody sniffs a clam.  Also rude is funny :D) and finds the smell not to his liking.

Not yet bored of being caught in things, he sticks his head into a piece of coral which proceeds to grab it.  What a nonce.  Seemingly unable to decide whether he’s actually submerged in water or just in a slightly wet cave, Eddy swim-walks his way over to a spot where he scoops up some water off the floor for a drink.

Long story short, he gets a bit grumpy at how everything under the sea seems to want to attack him/grab various of his body parts.  At that moment, everything under the sea turns up to attack him, including a giant octopus.

Tentacly octopus is tentacly

Last things last, we’re hit with a real Méliès gem; the mermaids (who I now realise were the dancing girls from earlier) show up to save Eddy.  They do this by pushing him to the floor and covering him with a white sheet.  Yeah…  The screen flashes and suddenly we’re up on land again, looking at a bucket.  A small bucket, with a man’s legs sticking out of the top.  Helpful by-standers rush to help the poor man, and what do you know; it’s Eddy!  Safe and sound back on solid ground.

No mention of those three girls in the submarine, by the way.  I’m just saying.

So that’s that; Eddy has a celebration which I feel was cut cruelly short at around 2 seconds, and the film ends.  There’s the smallest hint that the guys who helped him don’t really believe his tale of underwater monsters and mermaids…  Poor guy.

Overall, that one was possibly LESS crazy than the first two…  ish.  Less deliberately surreal, at least.  It had at least two occasions that really pleasantly surprised me and made me laugh, and for that I think I’m going to hit it up with a grand total of;

7 Freaky Tentacle Monsters out of 10!

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Super Interesting Things!

Hello all!  Allow me to bring to you, as the name gave away, some super interesting things from the last few days!  This really is all the exposure you need to give yourself to current affairs; think of it as a ‘learn everything about the world that was worth knowing in five minutes’ session.  Only you really get literally tiny fractions of useful news.  And also most of it isn’t current.


Kicking off!  We have Casey Neistat.  He’s a film maker living in New York.  He cycles a lot, and is a little bit cheesed off about how basically everyone else in New York seems to have a different hobby; stealing bikes.  He decided to do a couple of experiments (one a while ago, one much more recently) which he’s made into short films.

The set-up is that Casey rides his bike along to a nice and conspicuous location, locks it up, walks away for a bit then comes back and steals it.  He tries to do this in the most obvious ways possible so that people can’t help noticing.  He’s out to have his faith in humanity re-affirmed; essentially waiting to be challenged by any good pedestrians or, more importantly to him, police officers.

You can catch his antics in this video;


I particularly like his friend and glamourous assistant.  Whatever your views on whether random bystanders can really be expected to step in and hold up a thief in defence of an unknown person’s material possession or not, it’s interesting to see that whatever anyone’s views, absolutely everybody thinks not when actually confronted with the chance to decide.

Check out Casey’s YouTube channel here too ^^


Next up is ScreenTeamShow, a YouTube channel run by the lovely Chad and Angie, an American couple.  Their videos are pretty much exclusively about gaming/general geekery.  Angie’s really sweet and, let’s not skirt around this, has big boobs.  Chad’s very funny, likes to fool around; he’s a little bit the Jack Black of the relationship.  Together they make some videos I really enjoy watching; a weekly feature called Screen Team Sunday in which they basically just answer user questions from the week before, and ask one right back, and the occasional video game spoof music video.

These are really great; their costumes are usually pretty funny and the re-writings of the songs are good too; I recommend you check out this Gears of War medley they made a while ago;

They don’t flood your YouTube subscription with countless videos, and the ones they do make are just nice and entertaining.  What more do we really want out of YouTube?

Game’s On It’s Last Legs

Alas, the time seems to be fast approaching that possibly my most beloved childhood shops are no more.  Game Group (essentially GAME) have revealed that suppliers are essentially not supplying them with games anymore.  This is only a week or two after they were forced to accept that they wouldn’t be stocking Mass Effect 3, and the news is a bit of a killer.  We have a game shop that soon won’t be able to get games to sell…  The announcement caused their shares to drop in value by an absolutely vast 64%.

I know, FemShep. I know...

But wait!  All is not necessarily lost!  A private equity firm, OpCapita, have stepped up and shown at least a little interest in buying out Game’s debt.  Even the hint of this sent the shares up again by 80-odd%, so really the market seems to think that this would be a viable way for them to hold on to life, if it were to go ahead.

On a side note; Wikipedia-ing Game led me to remember the shop-that-was Electronics Boutique – remember that?  How times fly :)


Chess boobs!  :D

This years European Women’s Chess Championships are going to be the first in which the new ECU dress code regulations apply.  This means, essentially, that loadsa cleavage or loadsa leg is a no go.  The rules say of décolletés (cleavage);

… the second from the top button may be opened.

Skirts may be no higher than 10cm above the knees either.  It’s like being back in school!  Let’s face it, in your standard mixed-gender chess matches, there’s probably something to be said for protecting against mass nerd nose bleeds.  There’s not really much scope for the males being so provocatively dressed as to be a distraction…  Unless Magnus Carlsen’s involved.  ‘Cus you know; he’s a model.  Yeah!  Although, I don’t know…  I never really saw the attraction myself;

Mr Carlsen - Norwegian, Grandmaster, REALLY GRUMPY MODEL

I hope you enjoyed my little wrap-up of completely random events and people!  I’m looking to watch my next Sci-Fi in the next few days (hopefully tomorrow) so instead of this incoherent content from the pile of shambles that are my day-to-day interests, we’ll be back to something resembling what I believe those in the blog-bizz call a feature.

Blizz? Blogsiness? Hmm.

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ZOMG this Star Wars Art is Cool

This gallery contains 6 photos.

You might’ve heard about Star Wars Identities; it’s an exhibition coming to two venues in Canada from April to September this year.  They’ve released a couple of promo images of some of the most identifiable visages of the series, and … Continue reading

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If You’re a Developer, Get Yourself on GitHub!

I’d like to introduce the next cool online app; GitHub!

GitHub’s an online social area for developers.  It utilises the Git version control system (originally developed by Linus Torvalds to help with work on the Linux kernel;  the story behind the name is that Linus said “I’m an egotistical bastard, and I name all my projects after myself” – ie he’s a complete git :D) to track and manage development projects and allow multiple developers to work on them.

Git is a piece of software which allows you to create ‘repositories’, which essentially are a structure which monitors the state of a group of directories and files for changes.  Once you’ve changed these files in any way (removing, adding, modifying) you can ‘commit’ your changes to the Git repository (repo).  You supply your name and email address along with a commit comment each time you do this, allowing Git to keep track of a complete documented revision history of the project.

Another feature of Git is the ability to push/pull your local repo (along with any commits that’ve been made) to/from a network or online source.  This is where GitHub comes in; if you link your local repo to one online on GitHub, then pushing to it updates the online project.  It’s all very handy and productive!

One of the powerful things about the Git system is that you can ‘fork’ the repo at a given point, creating multiple ‘branches’.  Development in one branch does not affect others, so you can experiment with new code, or have multiple developers working simultaneously.  At any point, one can request that a branch be ‘pulled’ into the master branch by the project maintainer.  Issues can be raised and comments made if needed.

Cool story, brah; the entire GitHub project itself is an open source project hosted on GitHub – if you’re into web development you can feel free to take a fork off the project and help out with the process!  Head here to take a look at their repos, whether you want to contribute or’ve just always wanted to see what the code of an actual fully functioning webapp like this looks like. The GitHub help site is this repo, for example ^^.

For some, this will seem like a VeryBoringPost™, but for any developers/amateur programmers who haven’t come across it yet, you should really get onto this – it’s a great way to share code, collaborate on projects and showcase your own skills to potential employers!

If you want a taste of what this can all look like, and at the same time to see what I’m personally working on at the moment, head to github.com/unwitting/Rush (unwitting’s kind of my name for when I go full nerd and program etc… :D You know, like in the Matrix when they all have aliases when they’re inside… Sort of.) (God damn you, Cipher!)

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Oh, a Fancy Assassin’s Creed Reveal Trailer! Colour me Surprised!

I should follow up quickly on my post of the other day – the mysterious Assassin’s Creed 3 countdown page was heading towards the following big reveal trailer!  In which they don’t really reveal very much we hadn’t already found out :)

Overall, I’m pretty excited about this game, but this trailer’s not really done much for me…  Not too impressed by the quality of some of the CG, and there wasn’t enough awesome in that assassin.  Not enough awesome by half.  I mean (and I really will take any excuse to post this video), compare that computerised assassin fun to THIS computerised assassin fun;

I just can’t help feeling that so far this new game seems to be lacking that sense of incredible flair that they managed to build up in Ezio.  He’s gonna be hard to move on from.

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Best Voice Actor? Maybe. That’s All I’m Saying.

Video game answers!  Well, answer…

Best Voice Acting?

I’m gonna put forward my answer here in the knowledge that he may well not be the best voice actor of all time in games, but gorram it he’s rocked my socks off with the sheer diversity of his work, and features in many of my favourite games.  What’s really interesting about this guy is just the absolutely crazy range of characters he’s played – he’s almost guaranteed to have been at least one voice that anyone can bring to mind easily and fondly.  So before I get into showcasing his talents, let me present; John DiMaggio!

Ok, I’m kidding.  Well, I’m not kidding; that is John DiMaggio.  But it’s really just a hilarious young photo I found of him online :) here he is as he appeared at ComiCon 2010;

Incredible moustache. Hints of powerful things to come.

So, what’s he done?  Well, I’ll hit you with the first two things I realised he did, in an attempt to show you just how class he is.  I’ll give you samples via the magic of YouTube.  First up, DiMaggio provided (and still provides) the voice for Marcus Fenix, the inhumanly gruff/bulky/indestructible protagonist of the Gears of War series.  No spoilers here really, just a character introduction at the beginning of Gears 2.

Marcus is the first one to speak in this video.  The huge guy who’s so manly he’s shunned a traditional helmet for a piece of thin cloth.  You can almost imagine that voice coming from John DiMaggio, to the extent that you can imagine it coming from a real human…

And now for the second piece of character acting of DiMaggio’s; Wakka.  Wakka’s a pretty major character in Final Fantasy X and X-2 and frankly, he literally couldn’t be more different to Marcus Fenix.  He comes from Jamaica-en-Spira aka Besaid island.  Again, no real spoilers here; this video’s from very early in the game.  Feel entirely free to ignore the whiny little bitch that is Tidus.

:O So, yeah – they’re both the guy above.  I think that’s enough to get him onto this answer frankly, but if you need more convincing, read on.  DiMaggio’s had some other pretty class voice roles over the years, and probably the one he’s recorded the most time for is Bender, what’s in Futurama!  Yep, that’s him too.

Oh, he’s also basically every Brute in the Halo games.  Well, he acted as ‘Brute Chieftain’ in Halo 3 and ‘Brute’ in ODST, so I’m gonna take that as every Brute in the series.  I love the Brutes, they have some of the best voices and dialogue in those games :D  Add to this the fact that he’s basically a ton of background NPCs in any Final Fantasy game after X-2, has appeared in almost any cartoon worth mentioning and even popped up in the English dub of Princess Mononoke, and you’ve got yourself one cracking voice actor :)

Oh, also he’s Kimahri.  Also in FFX.  Kimahri doesn’t speak for a pretty significant portion of the time, and when he does it’s essentially Marcus Fenix crammed into a huge blue beast-man with half a unicorn horn.

As a parting gift, for those of you who really enjoy nightmares;

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