Archive for January 20, 2008

Blog Notes: Don’t Even Try, Spammers

January 20, 2008


Since I’ve opened Comments, I’ve had some people trying to sneak in by leaving generic Thank You posts.

Turns out when I click on the link associated with the ID, it leads to one of those rotten spamblogs.

I therefore delete the Comment before it can appear.

So just give it up right now, OK?

Macbook Air Vs Everex Cloudbook Vs Sony Reader

January 20, 2008

I’m always interested in comparing the sizes of things.

MacBook Air: 12.8″ x 8.94″ x 0.16-0.76″ – 3 lbs

Everex Cloudbook: 9.06″ x 6.73″ x 1.16″ – 2 lbs

Sony Reader: 6.9″ x 4.8″ x 0.3″ – 9 oz (without soft cover)

Sorry that it’s not a nice new chart. I don’t have that capability with the free WordPress service (and I’m not conversant enough with HTML to code that).

Raumpatrouille Orion: German TV’s Space Patrol

January 20, 2008

I’d seen this listed when I’ve searched for the Arthur Provis/Roberta Leigh Space Patrol (aka Planet Patrol in the U.S.) TV series, but only today did I decide to give it a look.

It’s Raumpatrouille – Die phantastischen Abenteuer des Raumschiffs Orion, aka Raumpatrouille Orion, aka Space Patrol Orion in English.

I shouldn’t have waited so long! This stuff is excitingly great — and impressive for 1966!

Let’s begin with this hilarious British promo trailer (which is a camp romp — but the series itself was not intentional camp!):

This is the theme intro and a wee bit of episode two:

Did you listen to the music in that clip? No? Play it again and listen!

Now look at this poorly-colorized version of the theme intro:

I think even Derek Meddings would have been impressed by the effect they achieved here:

I love the name of that weapon: Overkill!

And this clip is just stunning in its art direction and scale of sets:

This is very interesting:

Orion 7 lifts off through a funnel of water — similar to what the Hawkwing did in Terrahawks (this link is to a fan CGI still recreation since the YouTube clip that was once available is gone).

An intriguing exchange of dialog:

I wouldn’t hear lines like these in TV SF until Blake’s 7 and Star Cops ran in the US in the 1980s. And then not for another ten-plus years until Firefly debuted. (American TV SF, which is generally rotten with real-life dialog, had to wait for Joss Whedon to appear in order to catch up with Germany and England!)

Let’s close with this fantastic music video someone did, incorporating a remix of the theme and a ton of clips from the series:

Gerry Anderson Supermarionation TV Ad

January 20, 2008

I quote the YouTube description:

Produced and Directed by Gerry Anderson

This was made as an advert for Swinton Insurance. It starred the original puppet model of Parker (piloting Thunderbird 2!) and featured some innovative driving by Lady Penelope in FAB1, both of which were rebuilt specially for the story.

A nice little bit of work it is:

I also think it reinforces my assertion here that any remake of Thunderbirds must be done with marionettes and not CGI.

Brian Clemens: Thriller

January 20, 2008

Update May 26, 2011: Unfortunately, the user removed all the YouTube videos. And I didn’t save them locally. A tragedy!

Back in the 1970s, Brian Clemens — perhaps best known for the classic British TV series The Avengers — wrote most of the scripts for an ultra-low-budget British TV anthology series called Thriller. I recall an interview with him in which he claimed he wrote those scripts in about as much time as it would take to watch them. In other words, about 65-70 pages of script written in just 65-70 minutes!

I saw several episodes of this series when it aired on late-night ABC-TV in NYC. I have to admit I wasn’t keen on many of them. The entire production — exteriors on 16mm film, interiors on harsh videotape — had a cheap and rushed feel that distracted me from concentrating on the stories. The pacing was also slower than I would have liked.

Nonetheless, some madman has uploaded to YouTube the teasers to many of the Thriller episodes and some of them are worth a look.

This one is Brian Clemens at his most brilliant:

Does that make you want the rest of it? Damned right it does!

Here’s an intro where they actually tried to do something other than stage-playing-like shooting:

Ah, Darlene Carr! She was very nice to look at — on TV.

A bit more Clemens teasing the hell out of us:

Notice the ultra-low-budget stage-play-like shooting. Lazy use of zoom. Hardly any cutting (and boy, did it need it!). Two cameras (unless they were really cheap and pulled that off with just one, which is likely). This clip brings up a bit of a mystery too: this teaser is drastically different than the one found in a transcription here.

This is a very nice piece of work. The director could do something because it was all outdoors and he could use film instead of those nasty studio-floor videotape cameras:

I love that typical Clemens title too! This teaser also has one:

(I had to use that. It features the lovely Carol Lynley!)

This is a Clemens specialty:

No dialog! Clemens and his other English TV writer counterparts were an education in the rule of shutting up and letting the action speak for itself. (And yet, this teaser is a mystery too; it is quite different than this description.)

Here’s another wordless one:

Clemens liked to write about women in distress.

It’s only fitting to end this with a knock-out punch of a teaser:

That one was probably talked about by caregivers the next day all across the country!


Brian Clemens’ Thriller site

Thriller site (which has a Brian Clemens interview!)

1960s TV: The Champions

January 20, 2008

Oh this is so exciting! A clip reuniting the stars of the classic British TV series The Champions!

I have no idea what this is from and I really want to see the rest of it. I especially want to see the bits with one of England’s greatest TV writers, Brian Clemens!

Ben Mezrich Knows How To Tell A Story

January 20, 2008


The end of chapter 12 of Ugly Americans: The True Story of the Ivy League Cowboys Who Raided the Asian Markets for Millions:

What Malcolm didn’t know was that at that very moment smiling, amiable, relaxed Nick Leeson was sitting on more than one billion dollars of losses. Enough to shake the entire financial world and bring Barings, the oldest, most venerable bank in England, crashing to the ground.

Joost: Stand By For Action!

January 20, 2008


Joost is one of those Internet video-on-demand services that’s popped up recently. It had a high profile because it was from the guys who founded KaZaa and Skype.

Despite all the press coverage it got pre- and post-launch, there are two posts on the net that seriously discuss its death and dissolution: Is Joost headed for the deadpool? and Buzz Doesn’t Pay. Is Joost Dying?

So, if you’re a fan of Gerry Anderson and Supermarionation, my advice is to get to Joost now!

It’s your only chance of seeing a documentary that recently aired in the UK about Gerry Anderson, called Stand By For Action.


To use Joost, you must download the client software (Windows and Mac), have the latest version of Flash installed, and have a fast connection. With my cable TV broadband connection, the streaming video was just about TV-quality. I had to watch it again for this post. Both times I was impressed by the smoothness of the video.

Two points:

1) It will be interrupted by ads; not many, but an in-corner popup they’ve recently added is very annoying.

2) The video can’t be downloaded to keep. Although Joost actually does download the video in the background while it plays, I’ve found it impossible to access that file with other desktop video players even after changing the file extensions. I suspect the file is encrypted. (Of course there are ways to get around this, but I don’t have a DVD-burner, OK?)

Here are the direct links:

Stand By For Action Part One

Stand By For Action Part Two

Update: As of October 12, when I checked, the program was no longer available on Joost. That’s why I do posts with lots of screensnaps!

It’s a damned good documentary filled with behind-the-scenes material, interviews with several classic Anderson production members, and very rare footage.

Of course, I’ve taken a ton of screensnaps to preserve it against the time it disappears from the net.

Stand by for over eighty snaps after the click!