© 2017 by Kathy Schulders. Proudly created with Wix.com  

  • Grey Twitter Icon

The Dark Side

Weird TV

For those of us who remember I Dream of Jeannie and Perry Mason television has become distinctly weirder. Here are a few TV series which, to my mind, classifies as simply weird.

 

Umbrella Academy - (the series main characters are pictured) adapted from a series of graphic novels. An eccentric billionaire adopts seven children our of 43 born on the same day to women who previously had shown no signs of pregnancy before they gave birth, and trains them to be the superheros that they (mostly) are.. the story starts when the children are all adults and come back to the creepy house in which they grew up when the billionaire, whom they call dad, dies. The butler/servant is an elderly, talking monkey complete with cane, glasses and butler's suit. The mother is an android. One of the step-siblings spent several years on the moon at the direction of billionaire dad. What he did on the moon and how he got there, or got back, is not specified. At one point he was in an accident which required dad to replace his body with that of an ape. Human head, ape body. Then there is the sibling who, after vanishing many years previously, turns up again as the 14 year old schoolboy he had been when he vanished, although he has had many adventures since including being a time travelling assassin in a post-apocalyptic world. He is determined to prevent the apocalypse - his one clue is an artificial eye - but he does not bother to change out of his schoolboy clothes (blazer, shorts, long socks) to do so. His girlfriend is a window clothes dummy he has taken from a ruined apartment store. He has conversations with this dummy. 

Doom Patrol - this is a group of five individuals with odd characteristic. There is a film star of the 1950s who mostly retains her original form but when stressed dissolves into a gelatinous blob many times her original mass, or so it seems, and oozes around frightening people. This is another take on the comic book character Elastigirl, or so Wikipedia tells me. Another is a women with 64 distinct personalities ranging from flirty through to abusive and then to highly dangerous with special powers. Then there is a robot man as in a former racing car driver whose body was destroyed in a crash, so the doctor in charge put his brain into a robot which also looks as if it could have been taken from a 1950s film set. The doctor, incidentally, is portrayed by Timothy Dalton, the James Bond of the 1980s. These shows are proving a boon for old stars. Anyway, a former enemy of the doctor turns up and creates a vortex which sucks in the doctor as well as the entire town close to the residence where all these characters have been living for decades, leaving behind a donkey as a portal. Flatulence from the donkey spells out a message. Then the story starts to get strange.

 

Hemlock Grove - this is about warewolves at a country high school, with the stand out character being the eight foot tall sister of the rich warewolf kid who hides the deformity on one side of her fact by wearing her hair long. She cannot speak, has bandages on her arms and thunders around school - literally, you can hear her coming - without anyone seeming to comment or even notice much. Instead they want to pick on the poor warewolf kid who flirts with the gigantic sister of the rich warewolf. They think he's a warewolf and they want to mess with him? One of the girls at the school is pregnant but says that its an immaculate conception, the result of an angel visiting here. Say, what? Jokes about that excuse already being used aside, this is an odd plot development especially as it turns out she is serious. One of the main characters in played by Famke Janssen, a former Bond girl and X-Men star. As I said these series are keeping the stars of yesteryear in work. 

Legacies (Foxtel as is Doom Patrol, Hemlock Grove is Netflix) - this is a Hogwarts/Vampire Academy style school somewhere in America which teaches different types of magical creatures, mainly vampires, warewolves and witches. The vampires, incidentally, get around in the sun no problems, which is only right. They are a misunderstood minority who should be allowed to walk around in the sun. Social justice for vampires I say.. As a taste of the general weirdness In one episode twin witches encounter their biological mother who was killed on her wedding day which was not long after they were conceived. The witch relatives then had them gestated in another, volunteer relative.  Of course, I should have seen that at once.

Bring back the X Files I say, now that was TV..

Bring back the astronauts in the film 2001

Who remembers the crew of the fictional spaceship Discovery One in the Stanley Kubrick's classic 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey? Those astronauts did their job, as would be expected, in deep space, without hysterical questioning of orders or regular declarations of no-confidence in their leader. Not so the astronauts in the TV series Another Life. The crew of the fictional The Salvare (Italian - save or rescue) on a mission to find the origins of a strange structure that has  appeared on earth, seem to regard hysteria and mutiny as normal operating procedures when given orders with which they disagree, even before they had been infected by an Alien virus. Infection made them more hysterical. Of course, much of this is to keep the action rolling, or otherwise all we'd see is people doing their jobs, but still I can't help feeling sorry for the captain Niko Breckenridge (pictured - actress Katee Sackhoff). They could always have sent an unmanned mission, but even the computer hologram projection of the ship AI seems to get emotional. Quite a journey.

Trans Gender?

I can remember when it was fashionable for films and TV series to have gay individuals as heros, pushing the theme that gays are people too and so on. I did not care very much at the time. Okay, the guy/women is gay, other characters learn the lesson that gays are okay, let's get on the with action and never mind the social message. Now trans gender individuals are being celebrated in series such as Supergirl and the Chilling Adventure of Sabrina the Teenage Witch (I know, my tastes in entertainment leave a lot to be desired). The problem is that although over a long career in journalism I knew quite a few gays, I can recall meeting only one trans gender individual and that was back in the 1970s. I did not care, one way or another, about that individual being trans gender and still don't. I just don't see why I have to be hit over the head with such social messages in the midst of otherwise ridiculous entertainments. Hollywood must be running out of social themes. Maybe we will soon get transsexual zombies? Pictured is the main character in the Sabrina series, the actress Kiernan Shipka. Her character is definitely not trans sexual; nor is the main character in Supergirl, played by Melissa Benoist. There is that to be thankful for at least.  

Upset Australian election win is because PM looks like me

Relatives have told me I look like the Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison (pictured on left) but in fact it is the PM who looks like me and that is the reason for his upset win. Never mind the ephemera of issues like unions, taxes or franking credits. People voted for him because they thought he was me. Over the years misguided people have tried to tell me that not everything is all about me, but I can't see it. Who else would everything be about? 

Climare Hysteria

New book on climate skepticism written by yours truly has been launched. This is a light read intended more to poke fun at global warming theory and its many super-serious "we're all doomed" acolytes claiming that its all about the science. Repent of ye emitting sins. After many years of warnings about climate tipping points, we're reached a tipping point in climate hysteria. 

Zombie TV - a guide

There are five TV series of the Zombie apocalypse. This list does not count films, just TV series..

 

The Walking Dead - nine seasons with the tenth and last to come plus three follow up films. I reached series overload at the beginning of season three.

 

Fear the Walking Dead - set in the same universe and developed by the same people as The Walking Dead. Renewed for a fifth season. I watched the first three episodes.

A third show in the walking dead franchise is in development. Couldn't see a name.

 

Z Nation - ended after five seasons. This is supposed to be a lighter version of The Walking Dead. It didn't seem so light to me, but I've only seen half an episode.

 

Black Summer - set in the same universe as Z Nation, so we have rival TV zombie apocalypse universes. Maybe they will eat one another.

 

Van Helsing - not to be confused with the film of a few years back and, despite the name, is contemporary rather than historical. It is also more a vampiric than a zombie apocalypse. Okay, the zombies talk and suck blood but they still seem to attack mindlessly. That's Zombie enough for me. Seen several episodes. Not bad. Renewed for a second series.

 

Add ons

 

iZombie - this is not a zombie apocalypse series so much as a zombies amongst us series. About a crime fighting zombie who gains insights into crimes by eating the brains of victims. Main character is New Zealand actress Rose McIver. Recently renewed for a fifth and last season. Saw most of first series and found it quite amusing, but I stopped when the main character's zombie lover was killed by the zombie bad guy of the series. All too intense.

 

12-episode anime adaption of a manga series Highschool of the Dead. 'nough said.

Still say it all beats reruns of Gilligan's Island.

Claire Takes On The Galaxy

My ebook has been released, in chapter form, on the women's fiction site Dreame.

 

Fleeing the wedding day from hell and her mother Claire Williams enlists in the Stellar Marine Corps, and finds herself fighting for the freedom of the Federated Earth colony of Devil's Pit with the help of an exiled bank robber and his adopted daughter. Exiled criminal James, for his part, has to win the heart of the marine, as well as uncover a deadly conspiracy among the marine officers.  

Darth Vader - The Good Guy Who Lost and other essays

Time to end the decades of Vader's name being blackened solely to make the alleged heroes of the Star Wars films Luke Skywalker, Hans Solo and Princess Leila look good. In fact Darth Vader is a Richard III-like character. He was a decent administrator doing his best in trying to hold the empire together, despite the efforts of unsavory characters on the fringes of the Imperium to grab power in their sectors, but had the misfortune to lose. Just as Shakespeare added deformities and bad personal attitudes to Richard III to make him a more menacing character, writers under the watchful eye of Skywalker's secret police gave him a black mask, helmet, cape and even big boots to stomp around. He may well have wiped out the Jedis but he had a good reason to do so. The books has been released for free download on Smashwords. Click on the link. 

Trash and treasure in SF viewing

Brief reviews of stuff I have watched in the past few weeks.

 

The Outpost - saw a part of the first episode on Foxtel. A bunch of fantasy clichés on a low budget. About the only thing going for it is Tasmanian Jessica Green as the star, and I'm not talking about her acting abilities. Seeking revenge against a group of mercenaries that wiped out her tribe she ends up in an outpost of the kingdom-whatever hating a handsome army officer. One comment I saw said that it was a Game of Throne wanna-be with the budget of Jon Snow's hair products. Cruel but fair.

 

Extinction - a film on Netflix . This is an alien invasion story but with a distinct twist. The two survivor children spent so much time sniveling and doing the wrong thing that it became annoying. Kids, deal with it! However, all told it wasn't bad. I watched it right through which is rare for me for a film these days.

Tau - saw this on Netflix. Girl gets trapped in the house of an Elon Musk-like mad billionaire, where the house is run by an AI called Tau. Almost worth the effort of watching.

 

Marvel's The Defenders - this is a collection of relatively obscure Marvel superheros - Jessica Jones, Daredevil and a couple of others I'd not previously heard of - who end up in the same series battling a common menace, a sinister conspiracy headed by no less than Sigourney Weaver (not making major films any more, I guess). I'm into this stuff so I don't mind it, but those who haven't seen at least a couple of the superheros in their individual series may be puzzled.

 

 The DC rivals to Marvel, incidentally, had Legends of Tomorrow, which threw together a few minor characters mainly from the Arrow series (I got up to the end of series three in Arrow) and sent them off through time. This is now up to series four but I couldn't get beyond episode three.  

 

Jessica Green in Outpost character is pictured 

Renewables becalmed

As Australia’s electricity grids strain to cope with demand and government efforts to foist yet more renewable energy on them, consumers can at least be thankful that down under weather patterns are different from those of Europe where the wind does not blow for days.

In mid-June, Bloomberg reported that virtually no power had been generated by the UK’s wind farms for about nine days, with calm conditions expected for another two weeks.

A Planet for Emily

My ebook, A Planet for Emily, has been listed for free download on the site Smashwords where, after two weeks, it has been downloaded 365 times. That makes almost 4,000 direct downloads plus another few thousand  downloads from Paradise Publishers, who run the other main site I use, free-ebooks.net. There is also an audiobook  version which should be available for free.

 

Blurb: Looking for her missing sister who was a member of an expedition lost while looking for a livable planet - a planet which the human race sorely needs after being driven from homeland Earth - Suzanne takes a job as a cruise director on an old star ship with a mysterious captain. Along the way she meet baby Emily and family who desperately want a decent place for Emily to grow up. The hunt for that livable planet has become serious.

Avoid mind rot - do not play They are Billions

Starting playing the game They Are Billions by Polish developer Numantian Games. A mistake. This is a steampunk strategy game about building a colony on a post apocalyptic world while fending off hordes of Zombies. It is compulsive. How do I stop? I've become a game zombie. Help! I have to be deprogrammed.

The unacceptable cost of renewables

Parts of Europe may be tearing themselves apart politically over the vast costs of adopting renewable energy, but Australian voters are being asked to believe that doing the same thing down under won’t cost very much at all.

Tesla is this century's wierdest story

By any normal criteria, electric car manufacturing company Tesla should be in full crisis mode. The company recently announced that it lost $US670 million for the September quarter (what?), trying to ramp up production of its affordable Tesla 3.  Tesla founder Elon Musk  forecast that the company would produce 1,500 Tesla 3s in the  quarter, but only 260 were produced. Investors were not concerned about the previously announced production shortfall, as they were used to Musk over-promising. But the announcement of the loss caused a sharp drop in the share price, from around $US321 to about $US294. The share price has since recovered to $US306 or so. This still puts the car maker's market capitalisation in the same league as that of General Motors, despite producing a tiny fraction of the cars GM makes. This is not just ridiculous it is absurd. At the present rate of loss Tesla will survive perhaps another 18 months to two years, without raising additional capital.   

Climate excuses

Tony Abbott may have annoyed the climate change mob with his speech in London (see Diary), but a far more serious problem for that industry is an admission that global temperatures have not been following climate models.

Besides the two papers making that admission, including one in Nature Geoscience, that massive industry also faces the problem of a possible La Niña this year, which will pull global temperatures down. Selling disaster stories about rising temperatures, the main way the industry justifies itself, is harder if temperatures are falling rather than rising.

In space, no one can hear you screaming for cash

Such is the mystique of Elon Musk that he is able to make the absurd declarations that he will launch the first manned missions to Mars by 2025 as a commercial proposition, and still be taken almost seriously.

Never mind that none of his many undoubtedly ground-breaking companies have yet to make a profit, despite billions in government subsidies, Musk says he has a way around the problem of funding the first manned mission to Mars as a private venture.

Becoming an Evil Mastermind

I want to become an evil genius/mastermind, of the type that James Bond is continually defeating, but I'm not sure how to go about it. I think I'm supposed to have a difficult childhood, but that may be only for naturally occurring masterminds. I want to make myself one. I'm pretty sure I'm already evil - I'm a climate skeptic, I'm bored by all politically correct causes and I think recycling plastic bottles is strange. Greenie heaven will not be for me. That leaves becoming a mastermind, finding minions and devising a plan for world domination. I know that if I meet James Bond I should kill him on the spot, not explain my plans to him then devise some convoluted way to kill the man which I will not supervise. Maybe there is a mastermind course on offer somewhere?      

Hype is a renewable resource

The announcement of a $650 million solar power plant near the South Australian town of Port Augusta brought forth the usual statements that such a plant would produce reliable or dispatchable power.

But anyone with experience of renewable plants would have looked in vain in the announcements for usable information on the plant’s performance, including an estimate of the plant’s capacity factor, or for an explanation of why the South Australian government of Jay Weatherill is getting power apparently so cheaply from an expensive and still largely unproven way to generate electricity.

Batteries fail to spark

Elon Musk is such a good salesman that, despite formidable and blindingly obvious problems, he has managed to convince everyone that batteries and electric vehicles will fix all our energy and supposed pollution problems.

A man who runs an electric car manufacturing company with a share price bid up so high by investors that, at the time of writing, its market capitalisation is comparable to that of General Motors, despite having less than one per cent of the production volume, has to be a good salesman. But Musk’s stand out skill is in extracting largesse from governments around the world.

Finkel fiddles

Lead article in Australian Spectator of June 24

 

While the Liberal party tears itself apart over whether a Clean Energy Target as proposed by the Finkel report delivered in mid-June should allow modern coal plants, anyone looking at the report would be alarmed by this statement in chapter three.

‘If new dispatchable capacity is not brought forward soon, the reliability of the NEM (National Energy Market) will be compromised. Without a market response, AEMO (Australian Energy Market Operator) forecasts a breach in the reliability standard by FY2018 in South Australia and in Victoria.”

by Mark Lawson

More disagreement with academics

As someone retrenched about a year ago from Fairfax, one of the two largest media groups in Australia - the other is News Corp - the strangest response I have observed to the upheaval in the media industry is that of academics. As far as they are concerned nothing has changed. In articles in The Conversation here and here and here again, senior Australian media academics have defended restrictions on mergers and acquisitions in the Australian media dating from the 1980s. Why? Because they hate Murdoch it seems. Newspapers are obviously dying (Fairfax has since announced another round of redundancies), audiences are fragmenting and every man and his dog has an opinion blog, including me, and they are still worried about Murdoch's hold on the media.  After careers spent attacking Murdoch and Fairfax it must be too uncomfortable to change.

What has neoliberalism ever done for us, asks the Australian Guardian

Who remembers the comedy sequence in Monty Python's classic 1979 film Life of Brian where the leader of a radical group intent on overthrowing the Roman Empire in Judea/Jerusalem asks a meeting of fellow radicals what have the Romans done for us? As its a Monty Python sketch the others go through the list, including a water supply, sanitation, law and order, irrigation, hospitals and so on. I recalled this sketch to mind when reading the comment piece on the Guardian Australia web site Flogging the dead horse of neoliberalism isn't going to improve the economy by Greg Jericho, a former public servant. Jericho was commenting on an address to the Australian press club by new secretary of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, Sally McManus. If we could overlook a record breaking period of economic growth, the economy sailing relatively unscathed through the Global Financial Crisis, and that a once a century mining boom did not cause severe dislocation due to the floating of the dollar and the partial deregulation of the Labor market, then sure, whatever has Neoliberalism done for us?

How to really stuff up an economy

This week's shout-out must go to the Venezuelan government which has shown us all how not to do things. When prices were high, the government wasted vast sums from the sale of the country's oil on populist social policies to buy support. Much of the rest went on corruption, which is high even by South American standards. Now oil prices are low, there is no money for subsidies and everything is in short supply, including food. The government of President Nicolas Maduro has responded with degrees that have made things worse, accusing the bakery managers of subverting government regulations by refusing make cheap bread and so on. According to a property rights index compiled by the US based The Heritage Foundation, incidentally, Venezuela has the lowest score of all the South American countries.  Confiscation of property without compensation is common. No wonder there is no economy outside oil. 

One more crisis has gone, but don't tell the academics

Have climate scientists been ranting at you that global food production is threatened by climate change and pollution, and various factors they have been spending research grants to study? Point them in the direction of the UN's Food and Agricultural Organisation food price index, which has been falling for years. While the monthly index moved up last year, the annual average was still below that of 2015. The peak was around 2010. Now prices in real terms are back where they were in the 1980s. So much for warnings of mass starvation. 

Disgraced in all of Koala Bay

Just up from the country and scratching for a job in journalist Miles Black winds up on the Northern Sydney suburban weekly the Koala Bay Bugle.  Jobs in journalism are what you make of them but the office manage hates him, his fellow report detests him and the editor in chief cannot be bothered with the reporters in his charge.  All that would be fine by Miles if only the beauteous Anne would notice a dirt-poor reporter from the bush.

Academics who are so completely wrong its interesting.

Academics with nutty beliefs which they cling to in the face of overwhelming evidence that they are wrong, such as those convinced that the neo-liberal capitalist  system is about to collapse, are nothing new. The all time champion trophy for academic lunacy must go to Sydney and Beatrice Webb and their 1935 two volume study of the Soviet Union entitled Soviet Communism: a new civilisation?  As readers will note from the date, this book was produced at the height of the terror, when NKVD firing squads were working overtime, and even ordinary citizens faced the appalling prospect of denouncing someone or themselves being denounced. The Webbs, not strictly academics but with a history of academic achievement including founding the London School of Economics, managed to concluded that Stalin was not a dictator but a good manager.  A notorious incident where Stalin organised mass starvation in the Ukraine was dismissed as being invented by capitalists.  They later responded to increasing evidence that they had totally misjudged the communist system by taking the question mark out of their book. They are pictured left while in Russia in 1932.  

Academics need to watch the TV series Silicon Valley

Further on the post below, by searching on the same site for neoliberal I found an academic at Boston college who, in my opinion, outdoes both me and the academic cited in that post for sheer nuttiness. The article talks about capitalism's complete failure. (Because growth has been slow in recent years? Because Europe's idiotic venture into a single currency has had such appalling problems?) Like all the other comments of this type the article carefully avoids saying what the author would replace capitalism with, only saying basically that various academics are consulting on the matter.  Good Luck with that.

         As part of the consulting process they should watch the TV series Silicon Valley. Sure capitalism is a messy, dog-eat-dog business, but the people who matter - the workers - want to get rich, and they would vote for it every time. Clink on the link for my commentary on the series.

 

Me, disagree with academics?

Why is it that I'm always questioning the wisdom of academics? Perhaps it is because some of them, in my considered opinion, hold nutty, fringe beliefs. A case in point is this guy from Melbourne University in Australia who says the neo-liberal capitalist system is tottering on the edge of an abyss. It is? The article has to be read to be believed. The Berlin Wall never fell, and those on the Eastern side of it are still happy to be there. And people count me as eccentric for wanting to clear Darth Vader's name.

 

So that raises an interesting question was Vader a neo-liberal?

Good guys who lost

Darth Vader, the Resources Development Administration (the bad company in the 2002 film Avatar), Scrooge (converted rather than lost), Sauron and Blofeld (James Bond's nemesis) to name a few of those unfairly maligned. A list connecting to a few articles is on the site. A free e-book exploring the likely real story of Darth Vader will be released soon.

Good guys who are bad

James Bond repeatedly breaks the law, He murders people without even the sanction of his own employers, although the murders would be completely illegal no matter what MI6 thought should happen. Indiana Jones repeatedly wrecks priceless ancient monuments all in the name of saving himself from evil people, and removes artifacts from sites for sale. Luke Skywalker was a rebel who damaged Imperial property and murdered Imperial personnel. Something should be done. 

Things to hate

Young people, travel, fashion and lots more to come. Stay posted. 

Please reload

The truth is out there
Sympathy for the villain

This web site showcases an alternate view of fiction, where the black-hearted villains - the one that the James Bonds and Luke Skywalkers of fiction regularly defeat and kill -  may have their own side to tell. Vader was just trying to hold the empire together, Blofield was simply a businessman and James Bond breaks the law constantly. And what was so wrong with Dicken's Ebenezer Scrooge that required such drastic spiritual intervention?

As part of my attempts to earn infamy and hatred by sticking up for the villains, I've added some non-PC political commentary. Read on. 

The brave can always try contacting me directly through the 'about' section. If you take that drastic step, remember that madness takes many forms - Mark L.

I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!

Please reload