Monday, December 27, 2010

The Usual Suspects – Jan-Feb, 2011

The Usual Suspects are a group of movie buffs that meet weekly for the newest (or as close as they can get when you have a double release) genre film. Join them at the Aksarben Cinema every Saturday for the last matinee showing of the day. It will be a great time and a wonderful chance to talk about the film you have just seen and others you may or may not have enjoyed. Below is their January and February schedule for 2011:

January 1, 20011 - Black Swan (Psychological Thriller)

Director: Darren Aronofsky
Screenwriter: Mark Heyman, John McLaughlin
Starring: Natalie Portman, Vincent Cassel, Mila Kunis, Barbara Hershey, Winona Ryder


 

Nina, a ballerina in a New York City ballet company whose life, like all those in her profession, is completely consumed with dance. She lives with her retired ballerina mother Erica who zealously supports her daughter's professional ambition. When artistic director Thomas Leroy decides to replace prima ballerina Beth MacIntyre for the opening production of their new season, Swan Lake, Nina is his first choice. But Nina has competition: a new dancer, Lily, who impresses Leroy as well. Swan Lake requires a dancer who can play both the White Swan with innocence and grace, and the Black Swan, who represents guile and sensuality. Nina fits the White Swan role perfectly but Lily is the personification of the Black Swan. As the two young dancers expand their rivalry into a twisted friendship, Nina begins to get more in touch with her dark side with a recklessness that threatens to destroy her.


 

January 8, 2011 – Season of the Witch (Adventure, Drama, Fantasy)

Director: Dominic Sena
Writer: Bragi F. Schut
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Ron Perlman and Claire Foy

14th-century knights transport a suspected witch to a monastery, where monks deduce her powers could be the source of the Black Plague.


 

January 15, 2011 – The Green Hornet (Action, Crime, Thriller)

Director: Michel Gondry
Writer: Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, George W. Trendle
Starring: Seth Rogen, Jay Chou and Christoph Waltz

By night, debonair newspaper publisher Britt Reid fights crime as a masked superhero known as The Green Hornet. At his side is martial arts expert Kato.


 

January 22, 2011 - The Way Back

Director: Peter Weir
Writer: Keith R. Clarke, Peter Weir, Slavomir Rawicz
Starring: Jim Sturgess, Ed Harris, and Colin Farrell

A fact-based story centered on soldiers who escaped from a Siberian gulag in 1940.


 

January 29, 2011 – The Mechanic (Action, Drama, Thriller)

Director: Simon West
Writer: Richard Wenk and Lewis John Carlino

Starring: Jason Statham, Ben Foster and Donald Sutherland

An elite hit man as he teaches his trade to an apprentice who has a connection to one of his previous victims.

February 5, 2011 – Sanctum (Action, Adventure, Drama)

Director:
Alister Grierson
Writer: John Garvin, Andrew Wight
Starring: Rhys Wakefield, Allison Cratchley and Christopher Baker

An underwater cave diving team experiences a life-threatening crisis during an expedition to the unexplored and least accessible cave system in the world.

February 12, 2011 – The Eagle (Drama)

Director:
Kevin Macdonald
Writer: Jeremy Brock
Starring: Channing Tatum, Jamie Bell and Donald Sutherland

In Roman-ruled Britain, a young Roman soldier endeavors to honor his father's memory by finding his lost legion's golden emblem.

February 19, 2011 – I Am Number Four (Action, Sci Fi)

Director:
D.J. Caruso
Writer: Alfred Gough Miles Millar and Marti Noxon
Starring: Alex Pettyfer, Timothy Olyphant and Dianna Agron

John is an extraordinary teen, masking his true identity and passing as a typical high school student to elude a deadly enemy seeking to destroy him. Three like him have already been killed ... he is Number Four.

February 25, 2011 – Drive Angry (Action, Thriller)

Director:
Patrick Lussier
Writer: Todd Farmer, Patrick Lussier
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Amber Heard and William Fichtner

A vengeful father chases after the men who killed his daughter.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The 2011 OSFES Book Discussion Group Reading List

In case you haven't heard, OSFES is sponsoring a book discussion meeting once a month at the Borders on 72nd & Dodge. We have a table set up on the second floor and we meet at 6PM the third Tuesday of each month. Reminders of this event are available on the Omaha_Sci-Fi_Fantasy_Discussions Yahoo group, I encourage you to join this group.

January 18th:

Primary - The Last World War, by Dayton Ward

Alternate - Star Trek: Troublesome Minds, by Dave Galanter

February 15th:

Primary - Grave Sight by Charlaine Harris

Alternate - The Good Fairies of New York by Martin Millar

March 15th:

Your choice - any Science Fiction title

April 19th:

Primary - Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey

Alternate - The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

May 17th:

Your choice - any title to an OSFest guest, past or present

June 21st:

Primary - On Basilisk Station by David Weber

Alternate - Off Armageddon Reef by David Weber

July:

Off for OSFest 4.0 System Upgrade

August 16th:

Primary - The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury

Alternate - Gone by Michael Grant

September 20th:

Primary - Storm Front by Jim Butcher

Alternate - The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

October 18th:

Your choice - Any horror or "scary" title (meaning, whatever scares you, your

choice!)

November 15th:

Primary - The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse by Robert Rankin

Alternate - The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

December:

Off for the Holidays


Friday, December 17, 2010

R.I.P.: Stargate Universe

Below are a series of 5 tweets from the Syfy channel about the cancellation of Stargate Universe:

  • Announcement today: Syfy will end its original action-adventure series Stargate Universe when the show returns with the final ...
  • 10 episodes of its second season in the Spring of 2011. The Stargate franchise -- consisting of Stargate SG-1, Stargate Atlantis...
  • and Stargate Universe -- has aired on Syfy since 2002. Syfy has a slate of new scripted projects lined up for 2011 including ...
  • the series premiere of Being Human on January 17, the recently green lit one-hour drama series Alphas and the much anticipated...
  • Battlestar prequel pilot movie, Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome. Warehouse 13, Eureka & Haven will also return w/new seasons next year

Another take on this situation can be found on John Scali's blog: Whatever. Having worked with the show he knows a little about what is going on. And I have to agree with his reasoning for why this happened.

At one time Friday night was the death knell for a television series, look at how many Fox series were sent there to die. Then the SciFi Channel worked hard to build that time block into something SF fans would come to and watch. Now the Syfy Channel has turned it into Friday night wrestling and sent the shows they premiered there off to the four corners of the week. I know I find it hard to adapt to an ever changing schedule, missing a lot of the shows I used to watch when they moved to Tuesday (the night PBS airs NOVA). Because of this, I find myself more and more waiting for the DVD collection to come out and watch it then (without commercials and bottom of the screen nonsense), which of course, as John pointed out, doesn't help a show's ratings. So how can we let the corporate suits making the decisions know what we want to watch, if we don't want to use their calendar by using DVRs, Hulu, and DVD releases?

Another option is to do what anime series do. You get 13 or 26 episodes to tell your story arc and you need to wrap it up on your last episode. If your story needs longer, you negotiate that before you start production. Maybe then we will have fewer series end on a cliffhanger that never gets resolved.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Two More Great Film Icons Gone

By now you have heard that Leslie Nielsen and Irvin Kirshner have died.

Today Leslie Nielsen is best known for portraying the bumbling detective; Frank Drebin in the Police Files TV series and Naked Gun movies. But he first came to fame as Commander Adams, Captain of the United Planets Space Cruiser C57D in the 1956 SF film Forbidden Planet. This is a must see movie for SF fans. Not only was it a prelude to Star Trek but many of the props and sets, like Robbie the Robot, were later used in such productions as The Twilight Zone. January 2, 2011 Turner Classic Movies will be airing this film at 5PM. Pull up a chair, set you DVRs, grab some popcorn and enjoy this wonderful collaboration between MGM and Disney Studios.

Irvin Kirshner was able to give us sequels that were as good as or better than the movies that preceded them. Not an easy task at a time when sequels were considered low-budget ways to make more money on a popular film. The Fly (1958 and not an Irvin Kirshner film but here as an example of what Hollywood though of sequels) was shot in color, its two sequels were both black & white knock-offs. Mr. Kirshner took the successful Star Wars franchise forward with the 1980 film The Empire Strikes Back (which many consider the best film of the franchise). Then in 1983; Never Say Never Again gave us a new look at an aging James Bond (even if the story was a recycled Thunderball). Finally in 1990 he takes Paul Verhoeven's RoboCop on another mission for OCP. While he made many films and TV episodes throughout his career, he is important for letting us know that a sequel doesn't have to be bad.

Surely, we will miss these guys.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Support a Small Press Publisher on Cyber Monday

As you will find on the OSFES website, there are several small press publishers producing material from a variety of creative minds. They do not have the advantage to being picked up and sold in the major bookstore chains throughout the country. Even small bookstores find it difficult to stock their merchandise. That leaves few avenues to get their works into your hands; one is at conventions and another is the Internet. Cyber Monday, this year November 29th, is the day for people to shop for Christmas on the Internet. So click on one of the small press publishers we have listed at: http://www.osfes.org/SmallPress.htm and find something new to read or a gem to exchange.

Some of those publishers will be offering discounts on the 29th. I have received word on one from Yard Dog Press. Here is a direct link to their Cyber Monday page. And once you have read your new book, come to the 72nd & Dodge Borders the third Tuesday of each month (except December) and talk about it with other like minds.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

I would like to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. Eat well but judiciously.

If you are looking for a movie this Saturday (Nov. 27th), Turner Classic Movies will be showing the film that won Tom Baker the role of Dr. Who; THE GOLDEN VOYAGE OF SINBAD (1974) at 2 PM. This is the second of the three Sinbad films made by Ray Harryhausen and stars John Philip Law as Sinbad with Tom Baker as the evil magician, Koura. Here, enjoy the trailer:

It was his smile, the BBC couldn't resist it.

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Brief Look at Some of December’s Movies.

by Jason Burns

As always in December all the last minute Oscar contenders are in limited release and we will most likely not see any of them in Omaha till February or March. Out of all them the one that I would like to see is Black Swan. It is directed by Darren Aronofsky and stars Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Barbara Hershey and Winona Ryder. Black Swan has Ryder plays a ballerina who is being replaced for the lead in Swan Lake with
Portman and Kunis who are two dancers that are both trying for the part. I have yet to be disappointed by Darren Aronofsky as a director and Black Swan has a good cast of leading ladies so I'm hoping for good things from this film.

Also in December we have two big sequels The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader and TRON: Legacy. Dawn Treader is the third in the Narnia series and the first one made after Disney dropped the series. I'm not that big of a fan of the Narnia series but I'll be watching this to see if this can top the Disney films. TRON: Legacy is a sequel that comes 28 years after the first one and one of the more interesting effects this film will have is that Jeff Bridges is playing two parts Flynn as he is now and Flynn from 28 years ago.

Then there are other two book adaptations True Grit and Gulliver's Travels. I'll start by saying that I'm a Coen Brothers fan and will give anything they produce a try. There have been a lot of complaints about this film being remade but let us look at what we got. There is the Coen Brothers they share 4 Oscars, 2 for screen writing and 1 for directing, and 6 nods and their three leading men have been nominated for best actor Oscars. Last year Jeff Bridges won best actor, Josh Brolin was the lead in No Country for Old Men which won best picture in 2009 and Matt Damon stared in two of the last decade's biggest trilogies, The Bourne and Ocean's Trilogies. If I told someone that a movie is coming out star Jeff Bridges, Josh Brolin and Matt Damon directed by the Coen Brothers many would jump at the chance to see it. But when I say it's True Grit and they grab the pitch forks and torches.

Gulliver's Travels is one of three movies for December I'm calling out as avoid at all cost, the other two are Yogi Bear and Little Fockers. All three movies are poor excuses for comedy, where True Grit is trying to be faithful Gulliver's Travels says what would happen if Gulliver was a fat lazy slacker, what is passing for comedy in Yogi Bear you will never find in the cartoon, and the third movie is called Little Fockers, enough said there.

On December 10 a new movie theater will open in Omaha, the Aksarben Cinema and with the new Narnia the Usual Suspect's Saturday Movie will been seen there. We go to the last matinee on the Saturday of the opening weekend of the film if possible. The December movies are:

December 4: Faster @ the Rave 14

December 11: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader @ Aksarben Cinema

December 18: TRON: Legacy @ Aksarben Cinema

December 25: Christmas no movie

January 1: True Grit @ Aksarben Cinema


Thursday, November 18, 2010

What Do You Want To Do At OSFest 4.0?

A little known secret is that those 'balding, white-haired men in back rooms deciding what is fun for fans' really do want your ideas. A case in point is AnimeNebrasKon. A good deal of their program items are discussed and refined on their forum. Panel ideas are suggested and talked about, improved or pruned. OSFES has had a forum since its earliest days, but not enough people to make it an active community. Now we are giving that forum a stronger commitment in the hopes that it will make OSFest an even better fan event. So drop by the forum at www.osfes.com, sign up, and give us your input. If you don't like the setup, let us know. It is a wise man who is willing to learn from his mistakes.

What do you want to do at OSFest 4.0? Under the OSFest Forum there is a Programming Ideas Forum that is just waiting for people to send us the things they would like to do. Float your trial balloon here and see what others think – you might just end up as a Program Participant next July. The Omaha Science Fiction and Fantasy Festival is your convention, it is all about the genre and activities you enjoy exploring. So I ask you again; what do you want to do at OSFest 4.0? Let's upgrade the system together.

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Risk Taking Filmmaker has Died

Dino De Laurentiis died on November 11 at the age of 91. 70 of those years were spent producing movies you may or may not have attributed to him. After World War 2 he produced a string of Italian pictures until the failure of his Dinocitta studio project. He then moved to the U.S. in the 1960's and where he eventually created DEG Studios in North Carolina, which also ended in failure.

Dino De Laurentiis took chances in making films and when his big spectacular pictures failed they were still a spectacularly. Consider King Kong and Dune, granted I don't think we had the special effects techniques he wanted to pull off a remake of the big ape and he ran into studio politics, where several studios recuts that proved "He who can destroy a thing, controls a thing". Frank Herbert did not live to see the final, theatrical cut of Dune but it has been written that he had said he liked the rushes that were available to him.

You can't work in filmmaking for 70 years just making commercial failures. He did have an impressive string of hits. Conan the Barbarian (if you can find the extended version – see it. The ending works better there than the shortened theatrical release.) Flash Gordon, Ragtime, Three Days of the Condor, even Army of Darkness. Click here for a full list of his films.

It's too bad that Hollywood doesn't have men like De Laurentiis today. They need more people willing to take chances and not bring us the same old homogenized films guaranteed to return a profit on every investment. We need to get away from predictable plots that are safe for the filmmakers' bottom line.


Or maybe that will be left to tomorrow's independent filmmakers? OSFest 4.0: System Upgrade will host an Independent Film Festival for science fiction, fantasy, or horror productions. As soon as we have a list of films to be run I will bring you that list. If you are an independent filmmaker, looking for a place to screen your SF/Fantasy/Horror film, drop us a line at films@osfes.org.

Friday, November 12, 2010

ICON 35, one of the many Midwest pop culture experiences

Last weekend at the Marriott Hotel in Cedar Rapids, IA, I attended the thirty-fifth rendition of the convention that Joe built: ICON (This year: ICON 35 – A Steam Powered Convention of the Future). It was originally organized by the Science Fiction League of Iowa Students (yes, that is SFLIS – ask me about it some time. Or better yet ask Joe Haldeman). Later The Mindbridge Foundation was founded to run it and AnimeIowa. ICON, like Archon, ConQuest, Constellation, Contraception, Demicon, OSFest, Valleycon, Visioncon, and Willycon, has been a mainstay in the Midwest Science Fiction scene. AnimeNebrasKon, AnimeIowa, Nakacon, Sogen Con, and OtakuOmaha have featured the Anime side of Science Fiction. MageCon and Nuke-Con have brought great gaming to the Midwest. There is a major comic book convention in Kansas City; Planet Comicon. And in St. Louis a horror convention got its start this year: Contamination. So don't let others fool you. Science Fiction/Fantasy/Anime/Gaming/Horror conventions have been around in our area continuously since the early 1980s. They have not been missing! If you would like to see who has been doing them in Nebraska for the last thirty years, check out the OSFES history project at www.osfes.org/History.htm. Oh and if you have anything to add to it, please let me know. Remember to support your local fan run convention because without you they can never happen.

ICON 35: A Steam Powered Convention of the Future was themed for its Fan Guest of Honor, Susan Leabhart. There were several panels on Steampunk, many great costumes in the subgenre, and even a time-traveling airship (sequestered in a hotel room of course). She took us through what is Steampunk, its costuming, and what works (a steam powered computer?).

With a writer GOH like Cory Doctorow we had to get some serious discussions into the genre we love. Cory is a big blogger and he did a two-part panel on that subject, along with one looking at new media and how it affects our entertainment, he and Hugo winner Bill Johnson examined the economics of Star Trek and other future universes and finally looked at the "Black Box" phenomenon creeping into today technology.

Of course that's not to say that Dr. Who, bad (really bad) poetry, and Zombie panels didn't make an appearance, because they did. And while the number of room parties on Saturday night seemed down for this event, it was only because they had been moved to Friday night.

So overall, ICON was again a fun experience. But I am really glad they are moving their dates back a week so that I don't have to choose between ICON and AnimeNebrasKon next year like I did this year. ICON 36 will be October 28-30, 2001 and AnimeNebrasKon will be November 4-6, 2011 (but give them time to recover from their respective conventions before you demand an update of their pages). Back to back fun next year but you don't have to wait until then, OSFest 4.0 System Upgrade is July 22-24, 2011. Pre-registration prices keep your overall convention experience costs down.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Restored Version of Metropolis

In the 1920s, during the German expressionist period, classic cinema like The Cabinet of Dr, Caligari, Nosferatu, The Golem, and M brought a new usage of set design enhance the mood each film needed to tell its tale. The most famous of the films of this period was Fritz Lang's Metropolis.

Metropolis is a love story set against the backdrop of a man vs. machine and man vs. man story. Two classes exist in the post-modern world of Metropolis; the pampered ruling class and the toiling working class. The two classes must never meet! Maria, a girl from the underground working class finds her way into the Eternal Gardens of the ruling class and is noticed by Freder, a young member of the ruling class, before she can be spirited away. Freder becomes infatuated with Maria and follows her to the underbelly of his society and witnesses a tragedy kills many of the workers and no one cares about them only the machine they service. He becomes so distraught by this that he takes action to improve the workers conditions. This doesn't sit to kindly with his father, who has a robot built looking exactly like Maria to distract and discredit his son.

Metropolis is a 1927 film directed by Fritz Lang. It was produced in Germany during a stable period of the Weimar Republic (before Adolf Hitler's ascension to power), Metropolis is set in a futuristic urban dystopia and makes use of this context to explore the social crisis between workers and owners in a capitalist society. The film was produced in the Babelsberg Studios by Universum Film A.G. (UFA) and was the most expensive silent film ever made.

Metropolis was cut after it German premiere and many times after that, with much of the footage being presumed lost. After many attempts to restore the film to its original vision, a print was found in Argentina that contained 30 minutes of footage not seen in decades. The original running time was 153 minutes when it was released in 1927. The newly discovered version was announced to be missing only a few scenes but it was in deplorable condition. It currently has a running time of 149 minutes, very close to its original length, especially when you consider the hand cranking system used in the 1920s.

This newly restored version of Metropolis will be shown on Turner Classic Movies Sunday Novermber 7th at 7PM. This is probably a great way to wind down from either of the conventions that were held that weekend; AnimeNebrasKon or Icon.

OSFest is working on an independent film festival this year. I have details as soon as they are sured up.

Friday, October 29, 2010

A Wake-up Call

Right now members of the Klingon Assault Group (KAG) are locked in a desperate fight with an unseen enemy. The prize for this contest is what song will be used for the wake-up call on STS-133, the last trip to space for the Space Shuttle Discovery. The wakeup song has been a tradition of the space program since the days of the Apollo missions. Now NASA is giving us two chances to be a part of this history! NASA wants input as to what wakeup songs to use during the final missions of the Space Shuttle Program! Listen to the suggested tunes and cast your vote here.

Members of KAG have joined in a struggle to make the Star Trek Theme Song that song. This is not a single vote system; as Nichelle Nichols says "Someone said "Vote Early & Often" wasn't fair. 2 late 2 vote early & voting mult times is fine - just like Amer Idol. Using bots - not fair." (Forgive the shortened words, this came from a Tweet by her on the subject of multiple voting.) So the struggle is to get as many votes cast for the Star Trek Theme Song before Discovery's launch as possible. Klingons of KAG had opened the lead for the song about a week ago to a comfortable 100,000 vote margin. Then out of the blue came a push for Blue Sky (

a song written by the group Big Head Todd for an earlier shuttle flight). It is the relentless, inhuman voting pattern for this song that has lead some to question whether bots were being used to cast votes for it. But whatever the reason (at the time of this writing) Blue Sky has a comfortable 40,000 vote lead over The Star Trek Theme Song. with only a few days to go.

So Star Trek fans pass the word. Mobilize support and come to the aid of the Klingon Empire (who has been waging the battle up to now) and vote for the song you would like the Discovery astronauts be woken up to. I hope that you will make that the Star Trek Theme song (remember that the first Space Shuttle was named Enterprise), but even if it is not do vote. And do so as often as you are able!

Qapla'

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

KIM HARRISON'S 4TH ANNUAL HALLOWEEN COSTUME CONTEST

From author Kim Harrison:

Can you believe it's that time year again already? I'm hosting my 4th annual on-line Halloween costume contest. If you've entered before, the submission guidelines will be familiar with just a couple minor changes, so, please take a moment to check them out so I won't have to try to track you down to find out little details like how you want to be identified, and as always, don't send me a picture unless everyone in the shot agrees that I can post it online with an identifying name. You can send me pictures from previous Halloweens, but not if you've entered them in previous years.


THIS YEAR'S CATEGORIES ARE:
Pets & Babies: If your child can't say Trick-or-Treat, please enter them here. Winner for this category will be picked at random.
Kids:
If you knock on doors, say "trick-or-treat" and don't have a driver's license then, enter your picture here.
Over-The-Top:
This is for the really elaborate ones that are good enough to find on a Hollywood set.
Make-Me-Laugh:
I'll give you a hint- Men in fuzzy outfits seem to win a lot.
Gruesome:
Blood, missing parts, you get the idea.
Group Shot:
Three or more. Be sure EVERYONE agrees to have the picture posted.
Hollows Shot:
For those Rachels, Ivys, Jenks, Rynn Cormells and Nicks out there. I'll take group shots here, to, BUT- you must ALL be Hollows characters in the picture.
E2 (Everything Else):
If it doesn't fit in the categories above, place it here.
Best Carved Pumpkin:
Fairly self explanatory. Show me your best carving.

What You Could Win:

Category winners will receive a signed ARC of-Pale Demon



Please make sure your email is valid through November.



Legalish Mumbo - Jumbo:

There is no cash value for these prizes, and there's no need to purchase anything to enter. Odds of winning depend upon the number of entries received, and I pick the category winners depending upon my mood and the orientation of the moon. Submission indicates permission to put your picture up on the Internet. If you don't tell me how you want to be identified, I will use the name associated with your e-mail. (first name only)

How To Submit:

Cropping your picture to within 400 X 400 pixels and a file size of near 50 KB will get you a virtual hug from me. Then, send the pictures to "Guy" at his email address located in the "Submission Guidelines". Click the Submissions Guidelines link at the top of this newsletter.

2009 WINNERS

There it is, guys. Have fun!
--
Kim

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Virgin Galactic to begin Suborbital Flights

Virgin Galactic, the spaceflight arm of Sir Richard Branson's empire, announced Friday that it would be the anchor tenant for the $198 million dollar space port building built 45 mile north of Las Cruses, New Mexico. Named Spaceport America, it will stretch across the flat dusty plain of the desert with a nearly two-mile-long runway designed to support almost every type of aircraft on Earth (or at least her skies). It will also provide support of day-to-day space tourism endeavors and payload launch operations.

Unlike today's space tourism ventures that require the tourist to plunk down $20 million dollars, ride up to the International Space Station and sit around in the Russian habit for two weeks. Virgin Galactic has commissioned Burt Rutan's Scaled Composites, the winner of the Ansri X-Prize, to design and build WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo. The first of Virgin Galactic's five ships will be named Enterprise and will carry 6 passengers and 2 pilots on a 2.5 hour suborbital flight where they will experience 5 minutes of weightlessness (the seats will retract to give the passengers the full use of the cabin for that 5 minutes) before returning to the New Mexican desert.


SpaceShipTwo, once it has been released from its lifting body WhiteKnightTwo at an altitude of around 9 miles, will reach a speed of roughly 2500 mph using a single hybrid rocket engine. Unlike the Space Shuttle that descends at 160,000 mph and needs a sophisticated heat dissipation system (the shuttle heat tiles), SpaceShipTwo will re-enter at speeds low enough to us a feathered re-retry system.

A ticket for one of these suborbital flights will be $200,000 and the company already has 380 individuals who have put down more that $50 million in deposits for a ride. Though Sir Branson says he and his family will be one of the first passengers to go.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Star Wars Celebration V Part 4

The same person, who accused me of not knowing what a modern convention was all about, also said that he did not go to conventions to meet other fans. So attending both Celebration V and Megacon this year had me worried that each would be attended by an inhospitable crowd. That is not the case! Large professionally run conventions are still about fans meeting other fans. Everyone I had already known before the convention was finding online friends they had to link back up with. Everyone attending was easily approachable to talk about our joint interest and the things we do for it. Everyone there was there to have fun, make new friends and share what they do.

While I didn't pursue the topic but all of the fan displays present at the experiences were non-commercial. The fans responsible for them did not charge any fees for photographs and they weren't selling anything. Those that were selling related products were like Hasbro and had licensed their displays. A lot of booths were giving away related items, like the two photos I got of myself; one as Han Solo frozen in carbonite and another as Starkiller from The Force Unleashed II. They had a fan building area for the Hoth battle scene from The Empire Strikes Back (it was the 30th anniversary of the film), afterwards people were able to take the sections they built home as souvenirs of the experience.

The 501st organized a "Droid Hunt" the third day of the event, as a way to get not costumed attendees to play in the Star Wars environment. It was great fun. I understand a local member of the 501st is trying to bring Droid hunting to all the conventions in Omaha. Make it work, Ben, it's sure to be a hit.

Since the area of the convention was so big you never really got an idea of how many people were in each of the recognized fan groups until they did their photo shoots in the main entrance or their parade around the facility. I don't think I got everyone in any of the photos I shot those days. These are people from around the world coming together to meet other people sharing their interest.

It really doesn't matter what part of fandom you are in. It is all about coming together and sharing our experiences with people who care about those experiences. Try describing what TARDIS means to someone at a NU football game. It is one thing to be a fan, but a much more encompassing experience to be part of fandom. Support your local conventions, like OSFest, and become part of our family.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

October 23rd Fan Activities

This Saturday there will be a couple of fannish happenings going on in our area.

The Strategic Air & Space Museum in Ashland, NE will be hosting a Halloween event. Around 10 AM they will have trick-or-treating around the aircraft, followed by a Costume Contest at 11 AM in their ConAgra Theatre. The contest is open to all ages. Everyone will have a chance to parade across the stage and showcase his or her costume for fun and a chance to win prizes. (Please remember that this is a family friendly event and they ask that you keep the costumes fun and appropriate.) Prizes include: Grand Prize $100.00 Store Gift card; First Prize $75.00 Store Gift card; Second Prize $50.00 Store Gift card; and Third Prize $25.00 Store Gift card. Members of the 501st Legion Star Wars Stormtroopers will also be on site throughout the morning for photographs and fun. But I also understand that Klingons for IKV Sun's Glory may also make an appearance.

For something more down to earth, Benson will again host the Omaha Zombie Walk. While the walk actually begins at 6PM, things will begin happening around 4PM. You can either come dressed as a zombie or they will have experts onsite to create a zombie persona for you (a $3.00 charge will apply to cover their costs). Around 5:45 PM the rules of the walk will be announced, with the walk commencing at 6PM. For a map of the route, just click here. After you return, there is a Zombie Hop in The Waiting Room until 2AM. Yes, there will be a costume contest for the best Female Zombie, Male Zombie, and 50's Themed Zombie. And DrSanGuinery.org is holding a Zombikini contest also as a fundraiser of the Muscular Dystrophy Association. They have the rules on their website and will have a booth at the event for last minute signup.

Next weekend is Halloween with its associated activities. Me, I plan to curl up in front of Turner Classic Movies for their weekend of great old horror flicks. Then we follow that with two conventions in our area. Icon is in Cedar Rapids and AnimeNebrasKon will be at the Holiday Inn Central the weekend of Nov. 5-7. So over the next few weekends, get out there and have fun. You have been warned!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Suborbital Flights Coming to a Caribbean Island Near You

In their press release dated October 5th, 2010 Space Experience Curacao (SXC) and XCOR Aerospace, Inc. announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding for the wet lease of the Lynx suborbital spacecraft. What exactly is a wet lease? A wet lease is a leasing arrangement whereby one airline (the lessor) provides the aircraft, the complete crew, all maintenance, and necessary insurance (ACMI) to another airline (the lessee), which pays by hours operated. So providing they can get the necessary U.S. Governmental approvals to station the Lynx on the island of Curacao, SXC plans to begin space tourism flight from Space Port Curacao by January 2014.

In a statement as to why XCOR was chosen, SXC Co-founder and Managing Partner Ben Droste said "SXC has chosen the Lynx due to its innovative but straightforward and robust design, as well as its enormous commercial potential and competitive viability. The combination of the Lynx experience with the beautiful and highly suitable location of the Caribbean Island of Curacao is a winning experience in our book. Spaceflight participants will not only have the incredible experience of flying in XCOR's Lynx spacecraft beyond Earth's atmosphere, they will have the added benefit of taking off from and returning to one of the world's best vacation destinations."

It may be time to start saving up for a real adventurous vacation.

XCOR Aerospace is a California corporation based in Mojave, CA. The company is in the business of developing and producing safe, reliable and reusable rocket powered vehicles, propulsion systems, advanced non-flammable composites and other enabling technologies. This is the company that OSFest 3's Science Guest of Honor; Art Bozlee is a part of and offering us looks into what they have been doing at the last two conventions.


Space Experience Curacao (SXC) was founded in 2008 to lead the world changing trend in providing commercial space launch facilities and suborbital flight services from the Caribbean island of Curacao in the Netherlands Antilles, and soon to be an independent governing entity as part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. SXC intends to offer suborbital space tourism flights and scientific research missions out of Space Port Curacao.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Five Million Years to Earth

It was a long and pleasant night last Friday. I hope those of you who are interested in old horror movies, not the slasher films of today but the classic monster movies, were able to catch the entire collection of Hammer Films mummy movies.

This Friday, Turner Classic Movies is showing a different breed of Hammer films. They have more of a science fiction edge to them than the traditional Hammer films of this period. The 8:30 PM (CT) movie is an adaption of the third BBC serial in the Quatermass series; Quatermass and the Pit. It is the first of the Quatermass adaptions that was filmed in color and released in America in 1967 as Five Million Years to Earth. The film was directed by Roy Ward Baker from a script by Nigel Kneale (the man who created Professor Bernard Quatermass for the BBC) and finally replaced the American actor Brian Donlevy in the title role with Scottish actor Andrew Keir. Watch for a very young Julian Glover (General Veers from THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK and Walter Donovan from Indy 3) as Col. Breen.

Professor Bernard Quatermass is the head of the British Experimental Rocket Group in the 1950's and 60's. So while digging a new subway line under London an object suspected to be an unexploded bomb from World War 2 is discovered to have very unusual properties, Professor Quatermass is called in for consultation. Of course he believes it is a rocket though not a German one. So where did it come from and why?

The movie version of this story had a much larger special effects budget than the serial and it sets out to show us the answer to this question with disastrous results until Quatermass and his colleagues combine science and superstition to save London. Click here for the trailer.

There were four serials made, three for the BBC and one with Thames Television. THE QUATERMASS EXPERIMENT and QUATERMASS II have both been lost and the only versions of them available are the Hammer Films versions; THE QUATERMASS XPERMENT and QUATERMASS 2. Both were filmed in black and white ATARRING American actor Brian Donlevy. They are both characteristic genre films of that period. QUARTERMASS AND THE PIT still exists as a serial and movie, FIVE MILLION YEARS TO EARTH. The final entry in the Quatermass collection was a television serial simply named QUARTERMASS starring John Mills that was later released as a film by Euston Films as THE QUATERMASS CONCLUSION. If you follow Doctor Who really close, this is the character referred to in Remembrance of the Daleks (Sylvester McCoy) and Planet of the Dead (David Tennant).

As a kid, this movie gave me a great scare. Today it still holds its own as a well crafted tale. If you have the time on Friday night I believe you will enjoy a voyage that was Five Million Miles to Earth.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Star Wars Celebration V Analysis Part 3

This was a very big convention, with a lot of fans in attendance. That means the security staff had a lot of headaches controlling crowds for special events. Yet the absolutely worst line that I was in the whole time there was the line just to get into the convention area each morning.

Staffers had set aside an entire hall of the Orange County Convention Center just to house that line. First this seems to me, as a convention organizer, a waste of resources. Why rent an entire room whose sole function is to run a line of people arriving at the facility, and only first thing in the morning. Okay, they were expecting, and I understand they got, a tremendously long line for fans wanting to attend the "Main Event". This was the interview of George Lucas by John Stewart. Since my wife and I could not stand in a line overnight to get into the live auditorium, we arrived at the usual opening time for the convention and were able to get into one of the several simulcast rooms. Yes it was a good interview, yes I would have loved to attend in person instead of watching on a theatre style screen, but as was pointed out to us in a panel the first day: would it have been worth the single hour's entertainment to lose the rest of that day to exhaustion from trying to stay in the overnight line. There was too much to do to lose a day like that.


So why did security have to run everyone arriving before 10:30 AM through a line every morning. Your first thought would be badge check. At Megacon (which was held in the same wing of the Orange County Convention Center) in March, they were using a wristband system to control who should be in the convention areas and so ran everyone through a narrow check point to view those wristbands. But Celebration V had a large, colorful badge that you were required to wear that had different Star Wars characters on them for the types of badges they were (Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, 4-Day, etc.). This made them very easy to spot and interpret. I didn't notice security checking badges as the line filed in each morning and after the first arrivals had all entered the area, that room was not used again the rest of the day. After that I only noticed security checking badges when people entered the exhibits area. That is not to say they weren't checking them elsewhere, as the best security goes unnoticed.


Finally on this front was the closing of the back entrance to the convention center. The parking lots are behind the center and have an entrance with walkway (they have to go over the loading areas to get the front of the building and the exhibit halls). My wife and I used this entrance extensively at Megacon. She had limited mobility and the elevators and escalators helped her get to the walkway. We arrived the first day assuming that we would have no trouble using this method to get to the center's West Wing, where the convention was held, paid for parking, parked and found we were not allowed to enter this way. In fact we were routed around the entire center. Not a very handicapped friendly greeting for fans. Subsequent days there was a bus to shuttle people from the parking lot to the front, but even then the buses were not allowed to drop people off at the convention entrance. Fortunately, I was able to drop my wife off at the door, then park and take the shuttle myself, as I have not had to have one of my knees replaced. At the end of the day we were able to use the walkway and not have to walk again around the building. But it made for some tension to start off each day.


So what can we learn from this? Imagine yourself handicapped and limited in your mobility as you look at the facilities. Decide how you can overcome the limitations it imposes and don't add security procedures that aggravates those conditions for your attendees.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Usual Suspects - Nov - Dec. Movie Schedule

The Usual Suspects, a group of movie buffs that meet weekly for the newest (or as close as they can get when you have a double release) genre film. Join them at the Westroads Rave Theatre every Saturday for the last matinee showing of the day. It will be a great time and a wonderful chance to talk about the film you have just seen and others you may or may not have enjoyed. Below is their November and December schedule:

November 6, 2010 – Megamind (Animation, Comedy, Family)
Director: Tom McGrath
Screenwriter: Alan Schoolcraft, Brent Simons
Starring: Will Ferrell, Brad Pitt, Tina Fey, Jonah Hill, Ben Stiller
When super villain Megamind defeats his archrival Metro Man , the world should be his oyster. But instead, Megamind falls into total despair. It turns out that life without a rival is life without a point for him. So, he creates a new superhero rival, Titan. Unfortunately, the new hero wants to be a super villain, too.

November 13, 2010 – Unstoppable (Action, Drama, Thriller)
Director: Tony Scott
Screenwriter: Mark Bomback
Starring: Denzel Washington, Chris Pine, Rosario Dawson, Kevin Chapman
Unstoppable, a 20th Century Fox drama about a runaway train carrying a cargo of toxic chemicals. Pits an engineer and his conductor in a race against time. They're chasing the runaway train in a separate locomotive and need to bring it under control before it derails on a curve and causes a toxic spill that will decimate a town.

November 20, 2010 – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 (Adventure, Fantasy)
Director: David Yates
Screenwriter: Steve Kloves
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Ralph Fiennes, Helena Bonham Carter, Robbie Coltrane, Jason Isaacs, Alan Rickman, Maggie Smith, Brendan Gleeson, David Thewlis, Julie Walters, Tom Felton, Bonnie Wright, Jamie Campbell Bower, Richard Griffiths, Matthew Lewis, Evanna Lynch, Fiona Shaw, Helen McCrory, David O'Hara, Natalia Tena
The final chapter of the "Harry Potter" film series begins as Harry, Ron and Hermione leave Hogwarts behind and set out to find and destroy the Horcruxes--the secret to Voldemort's power and immortality.

November 27, 2010 – Faster (Action, Drama) (Note: This movie goes into wide release on the 19th)
Director: George Tillman Jr.
Screenwriter: Joe Gayton, Tony Gayton
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Billy Bob Thornton
An ex-con is bent on avenging the death of his brother murdered 10 years earlier when double-crossed during a heist.

December 4, 2010 – Open

December 11, 2010 – The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (Adventure, Fantasy)
Director: Michael Apted
Screenwriter: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely, Richard LaGravenese, Michael Petroni
Starring: Georgie Henley, Skandar Keynes, Ben Barnes, Will Poulter, Gary Sweet, Bruce Spence, Arthur Angel, Shane Rangi, Liam Neeson
This time around – Edmund and Lucy Pevensie, along with their pesky cousin Eustace Scrubb – find themselves swallowed into a painting and on to a fantastic Narnian ship headed for the very edges of the world. Joining forces once again with their royal friend Prince Caspian and the warrior mouse Reepicheep, they are whisked away on a mysterious mission to the Lone Islands, and beyond. On this bewitching voyage that will test their hearts and spirits, the trio will face magical Dufflepuds, sinister slave traders, roaring dragons and enchanted merfolk. Only an entirely uncharted journey to Aslan's Country – a voyage of destiny and transformation for each of those aboard the Dawn Treader – can save Narnia, and all the astonishing creatures in it, from an unfathomable fate.

December 18, 2010 – Tron Legacy (Adventure, Sci-Fi)
Director: Joseph Kosinski
Screenwriter: Eddy Kitsis, Adam Horowitz
Starring: Jeff Bridges, Garrett Hedlund, Olivia Wilde, Bruce Boxleitner, James Frain, Beau Garrett, Michael Sheen
"Tron Legacy" is a 3D high-tech adventure set in a digital world that's unlike anything ever captured on the big screen. Sam Flynn, the tech-savvy 27-year-old son of Kevin Flynn, looks into his father's disappearance and finds himself pulled into the same world of fierce programs and gladiatorial games where his father has been living for 25 years. Along with Kevin's loyal confidant, father and son embark on a life-and-death journey across a visually-stunning cyber universe that has become far more advanced and exceedingly dangerous.

December 26, 2010 – True Grit (Drama, Western)
Director: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Screenwriter: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Starring: Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Josh Brolin, Hailee Steinfeld, Barry Pepper, Paul Rae
Charles Portis' novel is about a 14-year-old girl who, along with an aging U.S. marshal and another lawman, tracks her father's killer in hostile Indian territory. While the original film was a showcase for John Wayne, the Coens' version will tell the tale from the girl's point of view.

Friday, October 15, 2010

NERDTRON DANCE PARTY: MONSTERS VS ROBOTS

They're at it again. Those overly energetic DJs from Nerdtron are sponsoring another Rave/dance this Saturday at the Comfort Inn & Suites on 72nd & Grover. On October 16th the living dead, the blood sucking, fire breathing, tomb crushing Monsters will go heads up against the Transforming, laser blasting, binary coding, combining, mighty morphing robots.

Since they have the facility all day they are planning a variety of activities. From 1-9 PM you are invited to come and hang out with the Nerdtron family (free of charge) for DJ meet up & open decks, hula-hoop, break dancing & poi (the art of spinning glow sticks) instruction/exhibitions, along with tabletop, board, & card gaming in the hotels common area.

There will an official photo shoot from 8 PM until Midnight with roving still and video cameras later.

The main event, for which there is a $5 charge, is from 10 PM until 2 AM in the Main Ballroom of the Comfort Inn. The Nerdtron DJs; Kid Dynamite and 2600, will be launching a full on robotic assault, giant robots and all, as they go heads on against: the Monsters of Re-animated, The Knights of Slam-A-Lot (from Kansas City), The Kandi Kid Assassin, and Willis Voodoo. (Sounds like one of the movies TCM is running over Halloween weekend – see my earlier blog.) All this and free glow sticks – remember the poi lessons?

This event is a benefit for the Omaha Science Fiction and Fantasy Festival, so come out and have a good time knowing that you are helping to keep a great SF convention in Omaha.





Thursday, October 14, 2010

Hammer Films Festival

I can go for months monitoring the schedule of Turner Classic Movies and not find anything I would like at a reasonable time of day. Earlier this year they ran a retrospective of Akira Kurosawa films and the ones I really wanted to see were on well past my ability to stay awake for. Then I let my eye wonder from the schedule and something like the Hammer Films Festival comes to the channel. So I missed the first two Fridays worth of movies but I (and you) still have three left.

Friday, October 15th, they will be running the entire Mummy series of Hammer Films beginning at 7PM Central Time. THE MUMMY, the first in the series reunites Peter Cushing (as John Banning) and Christopher Lee (as the Mummy, Kharis) with direction by Terence Fisher (a name to watch for when viewing Hammer Films). It will be followed by THE CURSE OF THE MUMMY'S TOMB, THE MUMMY'S SHROUD, and BLOOD FROM THE MUMMY'S TOMB which is the order they were released in. If you can keep going, TCM is following those up with the 1984 film REPO MAN. This is a classic film well worth watching right up to the ending when they find out what is in the trunk of the car they have repossessed. With the SyFy Channel going to wrestling on Friday nights – this is a great alternative.

Friday, October 22nd, we get four of the lesser known Hammer entries. X THE UNKNOWN, FIVE MILLION YEARS TO EARTH (a film adaption of the BBC miniseries Quatermass and the Pit. It scared the pants off me when I was a kid), THESE ARE THE DAMNED, and THE STRANGLERS OF BOMBAY. While Hammer films actually adapted the first three Quartermass miniseries into movies, which at that time was the only way American audiences could get to see them, FIVE MILLION YEARS TO EARTH was the best known and the only one filmed in color. It was directed by another directorial name to watch for Roy Ward Baker. It was written by Nigel Kneale, who wrote the script for both the movie and the TV miniseries. Have fun, be scared, but think nice thoughts about your neighbors – even if they are Martians.

Finally on Friday, October 29th, after a full day of classic monster movies, TCM will be showing about half of the Frankenstein movies Hammer created. THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN, THE REVENGE OF FRANKENSTEIN, FRANKENSTEIN CREATED WOMAN, and FRANKENSTEIN MUST BE DESTROYED all star Peter Cushing as the good doctor as he prefects his reanimating techniques through 19th century Europe. Terence Fisher is again the director of all these films. And the classic horror movies don't stop there. Right up through Halloween night TCM will keep the chills going with the horror movies we all grew up with. It's going to be a tough weekend to get through but it will be great fun.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Comp bra ti tion


[komp-brah-tish-uhn]
noun~ the act or process of competing to make the most fabulous, awe-inspiring, funniest, or fanciest bra to raise money & awareness for the American Cancer Society.


 

Hello Everyone,

I think the majority of you who receive this email know me. My name is Chris Edmunds and I am a local costumer, seamstress, sci-fi fan and a cancer survivor. I am putting out a challenge to anyone who would like to participate, to help decorate bras for the local (Omaha) American Cancer Society. Locally some ladies have been decorating bras for a number of years and selling them at the Relay for Life every June. Now that I have become involved, I am hoping you all can help me get them more (and crazier) bras that they can either sell or auction at next year's event. The Relay for Life will be the second Saturday of June (11TH) in 2011 at the new Elkhorn High School (Elkhorn South). The Relay starts at 5pm and goes all night (why? Because cancer never sleeps so the relay teams walk all night).

Since I am also new to this I asked a few questions and here are the answers:

  1. We have found that padded bras are the easiest to paint/draw on.  Most people that buy them at the event usually want them for souvenirs.  But a whole bunch of people buy them and wear them over their clothes most of the night.  It's really, really funny.  Guys buy them and wear them too.  (Everybody has fun with that).
  2. We usually get the bigger bras (36-40 and C cup) but we are not picky.   We hot glue anything and everything on them and when we paint we usually just use fabric paints

  3. Nothing vulgar. This is a family friendly event and the bras must be the same way. But that doesn't mean you can't have fun with this.


 

I have attached some photos of what the local ladies have done in the past plus some ideas from other events across the country. I want to thank everyone who is willing to help donate and/or decorate these bras. Please email me if you are interested in helping with this project and I will keep you up to date on how this challenge is going.

My love to you all and here's hoping that cancer never touches your life.


 

Chris Edmunds

cedmunds@cox.net


 

HISTORY OF THE RELAY FOR LIFE

The American Cancer Society Relay For Life is a life-changing event that gives everyone in communities across the globe a chance to celebrate the lives of people who have battled cancer, remember loved ones lost, and fight back against the disease. At Relay, teams of people camp out at a local high school, park, or fairground and take turns walking or running around a track or path. Each team is asked to have a representative on the track at all times during the event. Because cancer never sleeps, Relays are overnight events up to 24 hours in length.

Relay began in 1985 when Dr. Gordy Klatt, a colorectal surgeon in Tacoma, Washington, ran and walked around a track for 24 hours to raise money for the American Cancer Society. Since then, Relay has grown from a single man's passion to fight cancer into the world's largest movement to end the disease. Each year, more than 3.5 million people in 5,000 communities in the United States, along with additional communities in 19 other countries, gather to take part in this global phenomenon and raise much-needed funds and awareness to save lives from cancer. Thanks to Relay participants, we are creating a world with more birthdays, a world where cancer can't claim another year of anyone's life.


 


 


 


 

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Change in Regime

by Trudy V. Myers

"The King is dead! Long live the King!"

I heard that line in movies, read it in books, and it left me confused for much of the early phase of my life. Until I figured out that they meant, "The old King is dead! Long live the new King!" It was both a recognition of the way things had been, and an expression of hope for the way things would be.

OSFest is experiencing a similar type of change of regime.

History and The Plan – OSFest 1 had one chairman, John Shoberg. The second year (OSFest 2) had two co-chairs, collectively known as 'John2' (John Shoberg and John Pershing). The Plan was that they would take on another co-chair for OSFest 3, and then for OSFest 4, Shoberg would step down while another person became the third co-chair. Spread the work around, train some new blood, all that sort of thing.

Well, you know what they say about the best-laid plans of mice and men. For whatever reason, John2 did not select a helper for OSFest 3.

I think they learned their lesson, because after the 2010 convention concluded, they started looking around for a new co-chair. Maybe they could get back to The Plan, if they could find someone to become a new chairperson.

They found two.

The co-chairs for OSFest 4 are John Pershing, April Lindloff and Trudy Myers. John Shoberg has stepped down and while he won't exactly be sitting on his duff, his duties will be (somewhat) less than in the past. He remains a valuable resource for us newbie chairpersons to learn from.

This actually fits in rather well with the theme for next year's convention, which is OSFest 4.0 – System Upgrade. We not only have new co-chairs, we also have a new hotel, with more function rooms, bigger function rooms. So, if you thought OSFest 3 had plenty to do … you ain't seen nothing yet.

It doesn't have the same ring to it, but, "Co-chair 1 is stepped down! Long live the Co-chairs!" Nope, not the same ring at all. But what do you expect? We're busy putting a convention together!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Usual Suspects - Sept & Oct. Schedule

The Usual Suspects are a group of movie buffs that meet weekly for the newest (or as close as they can get when you have a double release) genre film. Join them at the Great Escape Omaha Stadium 16 every Saturday for the last matinee showing of the day. It will be a great time and a wonderful chance to talk about the film you have just seen and others you may or may not have enjoyed. Below is their September and October schedule:

September 4, 2010 – The American (Suspense Thriller)
Director: Anton Corbijn
Screenwriter: Rowan Joffe
Starring: George Clooney, Bruce Altman, Thekla Reuten, Violante Placido
Alone among assassins, Jack is a master craftsman. When a job in Sweden ends more harshly than expected for this American abroad, he vows to his contact Larry that his next assignment will be his last. Jack reports to the Italian countryside, where he holes up in a small town and relishes being away from death for a spell. The assignment, as specified by a Belgian woman, Mathilde, is in the offing as a weapon is constructed. Surprising himself, Jack seeks out the friendship of local priest Father Benedetto and pursues romance with local woman Clara. But by stepping out of the shadows, Jack may be tempting fate.

September 11, 2010 – The Town (Crime, Drama)
Director: Ben Affleck
Screenwriter: Peter Craig, Ben Affleck, Aaron Stockard
Starring: Ben Affleck, Rebecca Hall, Jon Hamm, Jeremy Renner, Blake Lively, Pete Postlethwaite
Doug MacRay is an unrepentant criminal, the de facto leader of a group of ruthless bank robbers who pride themselves in stealing what they want and getting out clean. With no real attachments, Doug never has to fear losing anyone close to him. But that all changed on the gang's latest job, when they briefly took a hostage--bank manager, Claire Keesey. Though they let her go unharmed, Claire is nervously aware that the robbers know her name...and where she lives. But she lets her guard down when she meets an unassuming and rather charming man named Doug...not realizing that he is the same man who only days earlier had terrorized her. The instant attraction between them gradually turns into a passionate romance that threatens to take them both down a dangerous, and potentially deadly, path.

September 18, 2010 – Open

September 25, 2010 – Guardians of Ga’Hoole (Adventure, Fantasy)
Director: Zack Snyder
Screenwriter: Emil Stern, John Orloff
Starring: Emily Barclay, Abbie Cornish, Emilie de Ravin, Ryan Kwanten, Jay Laga'aia, Miriam Margolyes, Helen Mirren, Sam Neill, Richard Roxburgh, Geoffrey Rush, Jim Sturgess, Hugo Weaving
Soren, a young owl enthralled by his father's epic stories of the Guardians of Ga'Hoole, a mythic band of winged warriors who had fought a great battle to save all of owlkind from the evil Pure Ones. While Soren dreams of someday joining his heroes, his older brother, Kludd, scoffs at the notion, and yearns to hunt, fly and steal his father's favor from his younger sibling. But Kludd's jealousy has terrible consequences--causing both owlets to fall from their treetop home and right into the talons of the Pure Ones. Now it is up to Soren to make a daring escape with the help of other brave young owls. Together they soar across the sea and through the mist to find the Great Tree, home of the legendary Guardians of Ga'Hoole--Soren's only hope of defeating the Pure Ones and saving the owl kingdoms.

October 2, 2010 – Alpha and Omega (Animation, Adventure, Comedy, Family)
Director: Ben Gluck
Screenwriter: Chris Denk
Starring: Justin Long, Hayden Panettiere, Christina Ricci, Danny Glover, Dennis Hopper, Larry Miller, Eric Price, Chris Carmack, Vicki Lewis, Brian Donovan, Kevin Sussman
Kate and Humphrey are two wolves who are nothing alike. Kate's an alpha wolf – to her, discipline, duty and responsibility are everything. On the other hand, Humphrey is an omega wolf -- fun, friends and frivolity are what are important to him. In the world of wolves, alphas and omegas don't mix, mingle or mate – such is pack law. But when the two young wolves are captured by park rangers and taken far away, they bond despite their differences.

October 9, 2010 – Open

October 16, 2010 – Faster (Action, Drama)
Director: George Tillman Jr.
Screenwriter: Joe Gayton, Tony Gayton
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Billy Bob Thornton
An ex-con is bent on avenging the death of his brother murdered 10 years earlier when double-crossed during a heist.

October 23, 2010 – Red (Action, Thriller)
Director: Robert Schwentke
Screenwriter: Erich Hoeber, Jon Hoeber
Starring: Bruce Willis, Mary-Louise Parker, Helen Mirren, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, Karl Urban, Brian Cox, Richard Dreyfuss, Ernest Borgnine, Felicia Day
"Red" is the story of Frank Moses, a former black-ops CIA agent, who is now living a quiet life. That is, until the day a hi-tech assassin shows up intent on killing him. With his identity compromised and the life of the woman he cares for, Sarah, endangered, Frank reassembles his old team in a last ditch effort to survive. "Red" is based on the DC Comics graphic novel of the same name by Warren Ellis.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Celebration V Analysis Part 2

For a convention based on a single story line, Star Wars Celebration V managed to have considerable programming items but they no way made up the bulk of the experience happening those 4 days.

Buying stuff in their dealer’s/exhibitor’s area made up a small piece. Most of the stuff being offered were collectibles so anyone in finding something to add to their private collections had a field day.
What really made up the bulk of the Celebration V experience had to be the fan interactions. The R2-Builders came together internationally for Celebration V and outfitted a very large room with all the wonderful droids its members had created over the years. As well as several facades that complemented their mechanical men. The 501st legion had a similar sized room that allowed them to show off the costuming work their members have done along with appropriate set pieces to go with them. Fan built props were in abundance. The Rebel Alliance had a substantial area on the exhibition room floor and they too had fan-made costumes, props, and displays. All with members of their particular groups ready and able to answer questions about what they do, why they do it, and how someone new can get involved. Different chapters of the various groups had display areas in the exhibition hall; from a T.I.E. fighter and Millennium Falcon interior brought over by the Belgian 501st chapter, to life sized models of Jabba the Hut for Slave Leias to hang out on. Even Disney brought in some of their Star Wars props from Hollywood Studios and had them available for photo opportunities.

What can Omaha conventions take from this? We need to provide more toys for local fans to play with. Unfortunately no one convention can build all the props and displays that could be used over the course of a convention weekend. We have to rely on the local fan groups to help us with them. OSFest has had major contributions in this respect from both the R2-Central Builders and Brad Edmonds & K.I.T.T. While we built a TARDIS front fa├žade, I am made to understand that the other three walls may be added by next year. Thanks Moose!
But there are other fan groups throughout the Omaha area. What would you like to see added to the convention scene in Omaha? What can you build and bring to conventions or parades? What would you like help getting started with? OSFES should have the resources to at least point you in the right direction and offer you a place to exhibit your creation. Fan feedback can be great, give it a try!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Celebration V Analysis Part 1

A few years back I was accused of not knowing what a 'modern' SF convention was all about. And maybe that person was right; maybe I focused too much on the types of conventions I had grown comfortable with. So I made a decision to experience as many other types of SF conventions as I could afford to attend. To that end, I have been to a few Anime and Comic conventions over the last couple of years. Since it had been over twenty years since I attended a Media convention, I set my sights on the biggest one to happen this year: LucasFilms' Star Wars Celebration V. Thus I begin noting my thoughts on it: What they did differently, what they did well and what they got wrong.

Every few years, LucasFilms has a really big party for his fans; this year it was in Orlando, FL. As I own some time-shares in the Orlando area and needed to use them, I purchased a 4-day membership for my wife and myself, then headed down for a 2-week vacation. Before anyone asks; it is usually cooler over the summer in Orlando than in Omaha, so going down is a no-brainer (especially if you have annual passes to all the theme parks in the area). The Orange County Convention Center (OCCC) has three massive wings. The west wing, where Celebration V was held, alone is an order of magnitude larger than our Qwest Center and they used all of it. Effectively? Let's save that for later.

Programming: A convention is not a convention without appropriate programming. And you might have thought it would be tough to find multi-tracks of programming at a convention devoted to a single story line, yet they did it. Once you split the Star Wars universe into smaller chunks, you have topics for people to talk about and discuss. Collectors had a Collectors' Stage for them, fan groups had a Celebration Fan Stage for them, the Star Wars Classroom & Lecture Hall offered seminars by major authors and artists, and, of course, the celebrities had a special venue for their talks. All of this leads to the observation that the programming department arranged to keep all their tracks separated and within a designated room. If you were interested in a single track, you could stay in that room all day. For example, the Fan Stage had Droid building, 501st indoctrination, Rebel recruitment, Mandalorian Merc training; one right after the other. This is a great idea for fans with limited mobility in a tremendously large convention facility like OCCC.

I liked the fact that they had a panel on How to Enjoy Your Convention Experience. It put a couple of program items in perspective and kept me from spending an overnight in a queue line, when I had other options to see that particular panel. It was also nice that a lot of the fan experience programming feed right into continuous showcases that those groups had elsewhere in the facility, and you could go to that showcase for more in-depth answers to any remaining questions you had.

The panels that I attended, and so are the only ones I can speak for, seemed well run, with time available for audience questions and feedback. And given the constraints of sticking to a single universe, they had a wide variety to panels to interest everyone.

What can OSFest take from this? OSFest 3 kept most of its costuming panels in the same room but not the other tracks. Would people like to see us try to keep our tracks within the single room or spread them around the hotel? Let me know how you want us to schedule your convention.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Upcoming Steampunk Activities

By Joe Carver

The Steampunk Society of Nebraska (SSoN) is a group for greater Nebraska steampunks. The society, a growing group of steampunks with more than a hundred online members, gathers to meet other steampunks and share ideas. We host an easy to find Facebook group.

Steampunk brings together two themes: the romanticized era of Victorian England and the freedom of the punk movement. Gears and goggles, bustles and top hats permeate the fashion. Think Jules Vern's 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, H.G. Wells' Time Machine, or The Wild, Wild West.

Costume Crafting Day: 19 Sept, 12pm - 5pm
Steampunk Photo Day: 3 Oct, TBD
Costume Crafting Day: 24 Oct, 12pm - 5pm
Anime Nebraskon, Omaha NE: 5-7 Nov (Steampunk Costume Day)
Emerald City SP Expo, Wichita KS: 12-14 Nov

Costume Crafting Days are at the home of Joe Carver, located in Bellevue NE. The address will be sent to those who accept the event on Facebook or who contact Joe at his email address: joe_carver_2000@yahoo.com. These events are for working in a social atmosphere or getting help planning/crafting costumes. All costume work is welcome and Steampunk costuming, in particular, is encouraged. Please bring materials and tools needed for your costume.

Steampunk Photo Days are group photography opportunities. Costumed members gather at locations with a steampunk/historical atmosphere to show off their outfits and, if the opportunity presents itself, to recruit interested bystanders. If someone is interested in photography they are welcome to come along but use of images is protected by Creative Commons Attribution + Noncommercial (by-nc) license.

Many members of SSoN are plan to attend the Anime Nebraskon convention, 5-7 Nov. SSoN encourages all members to don their Steampunk costumes for the con and declares Saturday, November 6th as the group's official Steampunk Costume Day. If you are going to wear steampunk only one day then that should be the day.

Wichita, KS hosts the first Emerald City Steampunk Expo. The expo will be taking place at The Hyatt Hotel on the River with portions being held at the Victorian Village in Cowtown. Omaha was the origin of Professor Marvel, the Great and Powerful Oz, so it is only fitting we have a presence. The Steampunk Society of Nebraska will be in attendance. Come attend the closest all-steampunk convention to date.