Time machine: ‘Alice in Wonderland’ (1903)

The first film version of “Alice in Wonderland” was done in Britain in 1903. Originally 12 minutes long, only one damaged print was recovered, and only eight minutes, restored by the BFI National Archive, have survived.

One quibble. Isn’t Alice supposed to be like 8 years old? That’s what bothered me about Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland” a few years ago. That Alice was 21 and a babe.

Considering movies were in their infancy 110 years ago, it’s impressive to see how film makers managed special effects. It’s an inventive use of the medium, manipulating a fantasy using real characters and objects. Today, it’s all CGI. That’s not a criticism. People want to be taken to another place when they go to the movies. An audience in 1903 probably thought this was the greatest thing they’d ever seen in their lives. An audience today expects something much grander. And 100 years from now, Blu-ray, 3-D and IMAX technology will be seen as a primitive form of entertainment.

That marks a passage of time. And that’s why movies are the closest we’re ever going to get to a time machine.


The sky is falling!

Well, that was a confusing space odyssey Friday.

Everyone was told days ago that an asteroid was headed toward the Earth, but (Not to worry!) it was going to miss us by thousands of miles and wouldn’t even show up on the radar. For some reason, I woke up about 3 or 4 a.m. Friday morning and looked at my iPad, and there was a news alert that said a meteor had hit Russia and hurt hundreds of people. And soon afterward, every news site in the world was showing things like this:

So the asteroid DID hit us, right?


This was a meteor. The asteroid is still out there. Still not a danger. In fact, by Friday afternoon, it had passed by unnoticed and was on its merry way. This was something else, and we didn’t know it was coming.

Gee, that’s reassuring, because I’m thinking of the movie “Armageddon” and how Paris didn’t see the closing credits:

So the meteor was a sliver of the asteroid that broke off, right?

No. The Washington Post says:

It was a day when the Earth was caught in a cosmic crossfire. The big rock came from the south, the smaller one from the east. They were unrelated objects, with different orbits, one the size of an apartment building, the other slimmer but with better aim.

The larger asteroid missed by 17,000 miles, as expected, but the Russian meteor stole the show Friday, fireballing across the Ural Mountains in spectacular fashion and exploding into fragments, creating a powerful shock wave that blew out windows, collapsed roofs and injured 1,200 people, mostly from broken glass.

Here’s an illustration of how the meteor came down when it hit Russia.


It was traveling at 40,000 miles an hour. It was about 50 feet wide and weighed about 7,700 tons. It exploded high in the atmosphere with the force of 20 to 30 Hiroshima-size atomic bombs.

Gee, that’s reassuring.

Do you remember the 1950s science-fiction “Uh oh! Here comes the killer asteroid” movies, where a group of scientists have built ONE SPACESHIP to take a couple of hundred people to another planet — that just happens to support human life — so the species will survive.

Thing is, unless we’ve missed the announcement, there’s nowhere to go. If there was a planet in range that would assure our survival, we’d be sending probes there already.

NASA launched the two Voyager spacecraft more than 35 years ago. They are literally at the edge of the solar system. Other satellites have examined the giant planets past Mars. We’ve got robots on Mars for now going on 10 years looking for minuscule signs of life.

What they’ve found so far? Maybe there’s water on a moon of Saturn.

And even with that, we’ve never met anyone with one of those Willie Wonka golden tickets that are good for one seat of the survival rockets. Which don’t exist, unless there’s some top secret project in China like there was in the movie “2012.”

Then you’ve got to think if something really big is falling out of the sky, one of those “planet killers,” why tell us anything? We can’t go anywhere. If it’s big enough, we’re going to see it days before it hits. And unless there’s a global “shoot the rock out of the sky with nukes” game plan, there isn’t much to look forward to. Maybe this:

Or this:

Given the choice, I’d prefer to listen to Pink Floyd over Richard Wagner. (In case you’re looking for the MP3, the Wagner is the Prelude from “Tristan und Isolde.” The Pink Floyd is “The Great Gig in the Sky” from “Dark Side of the Moon.”)

Tea baggers love bestiality

There’s not much more to say once you see the top of this Mother Jones article:

An internal investigation of FreedomWorks—the prominent conservative advocacy group and super-PAC—has focused on president Matt Kibbe’s management of the organization, his use of its resources, and a controversial book deal he signed, according to former FreedomWorks officials who have met with the private lawyers conducting the probe. One potential topic for the inquiry is a promotional video produced last year under the supervision of Adam Brandon, executive vice president of the group and a Kibbe loyalist. The video included a scene in which a female intern wearing a panda suit simulates performing oral sex on Hillary Clinton. [Author’s note: The previous sentence contains no typos.]

First: How do you even think up something as nuts as this?

Second: Why would you film it?

Third: Did the intern really want to do this? I don’t think it was in the job description.


Oscar nominated animated shorts

I was surprised to see this on YouTube, because “Adam and Dog” is a nominee for this year’s Academy Award for Best Animated Short. I saw it in a theater a week ago with the other nominees in this category as well as the nominees for Best Live Action Short.

But then I took a look and saw that the person who posted this is the person who made it.

To be honest, I thought this was the second best animated short. The one I liked the most was called “Head Over Heels” a stop-action short about a husband and wife, who have their ups and downs, literally. And that’s on YouTube, too:

Hey, wait a minute, here’s the Oscar-nominated “Fresh Guacamole” (Did I pay for a movie I could have seen free on YouTube?):

I didn’t like this one that much. It was too short.

And here’s the Disney entry “Paperman”:

Cute, but predictable, right?

The other nominee features Maggie Simpson. And since Fox has control of that, it looks like Rupert said not to put it up on YouTube. So, in honor of Rupert, I won’t give the name of the short.

Anyway, enjoy “Adam and Dog,” “Head Over Heels,” “Fresh Guacamole” and “Paperman”

(I have to see if the live action nominees are free to check out.)