Saturday, December 15, 2012

Not What it Sounds Like


Earlier today I realized there are a number of things I can truthfully say about myself, but don't really mean what they imply.  Here are a few of them:

I went to classes at the University of Toledo when I was nine years old
(... with my mom, who took night classes there.) 

I went to Harvard
(... on a walking tour when I was visiting the Boston area) 

I attended classes at MIT
(... while visiting friend who was actually enrolled there.)  

I was in the Geology department of Cal Tech
(... while visiting another friend.) 

I was employed by the Treasury Department of a foreign government
(... as a database consultant in Canada.) 

I worked at the Canadian Space Administration
(... for a week, writing more database code.) 

I have cooked for royalty
(... in a historical re-creation group)

I've spent time in Purgatory
(... which is a small town near Durango, Colorado)


That's what I can come up with so far.  The next time I visit New York though, I plan on playing at Carnegie Hall, fighting at Madison Square Garden, trading on Wall Street, singing at the Met, getting my artwork into the Guggenheim, and jumping off the Empire State building,

Thursday, November 1, 2012

National Novel Writing Month

As a writer with a novel in progress, you'd think I'd be all over National Novel Writing Month like a donkey on a waffle.  Somehow though the concept has never sat well with me, and with each November my level of uneasiness over the whole thing has slowly increased.




What bugs me about NaNoWriMo (other than it being a strong candidate for the worst acronym ever) is that, while it's theoretically possible to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days (roughly 1700 words per day), it's not all that probable.

Let's look at a hypothetical NaNoWriMo participant.  They've never been published, but they decide that this year is the year.  They've got an idea for a story and throughout the month they write every day.  By the end of the month they have cranked out a 50,000 word manuscript.  Now what?

The majority probably don't do anything with their work.  They let all those words sit on their computer, unread.  A small fraction of them will run spell-check on their manuscript and send it off to a publisher, where it will sit in the slush pile and never see the light of day.  Why?  Because it's probably not very good.

Don't get me wrong.  Their story ideas can be great and their writing can be acceptable, but writing is an art that takes practice and time.  Imagine the results of a National Marble Statue Carving Month where amateurs take up hammer and chisel on ten-ton marble blocks.

If the goal is to write something that will only be read by sympathetic friends and family then this is no problem, but if the goal is to write something that can be published then there's a lot more work to be done.

If we're going to have November be a month for writing, then we really should have October be National Novel Plotting Month.  Participants can take the time to plot out their story, building in the appropriate twists and subplots, and making sure the whole thing will hang together.

December would then be National Novel Critiquing Month, when writers get their novel read and marked up by an editor, and then actually consider the feedback.  They would then cut scenes and characters, restructure the plot, identify the holes, and figure out in general how their novel can be improved.  Note that this is, by far, my least favorite part of the writing process, but it's also the part that is of the most value.  Constructive criticism (if you listen to it) is where you learn the most about how to write something that others will want to read.

Then we can make January be National Novel Re-Writing Month.  The writers then spend 31 days fixing the problems they found in December.  They add new scenes, correct old ones, read their manuscript several times to check the flow, and fill in all the cracks with transition putty.

February 1 would be National Deadline Day, which would usually be ignored.

Of course February would be National Proofread and Submit Month, which leaves a month to recover and then six more months for a second novel writing cycle while you're waiting to hear back from the publisher.

All of the above being said, I won't be participating in NaNoWriMo.  I've got plenty of writing to do this month, including work on a novel, a cookbook, at least one short story, some blog posts, a medieval cookbook to transcribe, and some worldbuilding.  I'll try to remember to post updates on how these things are going.  Then there's also my day job, which takes up way too much time, but does help to actually pay bills.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Future History


A friend posted the above photo to Facebook.  Here's my response:

I'd holed up in an abandoned shoe factory and was getting a good night's sleep for the first time in months; that's when the squids and their flunkies bagged me. I was burning mad as I tried to fight them off. Somehow stayed mad all the way through the brainwipe. Maybe that's the secret, or maybe I was just lucky. Either way, I slowly recovered my memory over the next couple of weeks. I can still see the squids as they cruise around town in their hovercars. That's how I know the brainwipe is still working for other people - they all tell me the squids' cars are ice cream trucks.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

My Third Post on Time Travel

I went to see Looper this past weekend.  While I found it to be a fun film with good dialog and an interesting premise, it ended up having many of the same problems as the majority of time-travel stories.  There were inconsistencies and paradoxes, and plot holes, but the core issue is a very basic one:  "Make it didn't happen" is a very unsatisfying story.

The basic plot of this kind of story is that a time traveler wants to go back into the past to change something that he didn't like.  Right off the bat we have a paradox; if he succeeds then there's no reason for him to go back in time, and therefore he doesn't, and therefore he fails, and ... yuck.

Much worse though is when the protagonist of the story succeeds and therefore doesn't remember all of the horrible things he had to go through to succeed.  This completely nullifies any character development in the story.  Everything at the end is exactly as it was in the beginning. Really, this sort of story is no better than the ones that end with "... and it was all a dream."

If the past does get changed and yet, through some sort of literary hand-wave, characters remember the past that no longer happened, why don't others remember that same past?  Is there a limit on the number of prevented pasts that can be remembered?  How does this differ from being a stark raving lunatic?


Can a time travel story be written that doesn't lead to a paradox?  Yes, though it takes some careful plotting.

The time traveler can be from the future, possibly with limited knowledge of the present, and be tasked with ensuring that history plays out like it was meant to (e.g. Terminator).  He isn't trying to change anything and his actions in the story, no matter what, are already incorporated into the time line.

It also works if the time traveler is sent back into the past to retrieve objects or information rather than to change history (e.g. The Flight of the Horse by Larry Niven).

Alternately, having history "heal" is an interesting option.  The time traveler can succeed in preventing a past event, but have something else happen that leads to the same eventual outcome (e.g. The Time Machine - 2002 version).  In logical terms, this is the equivalent to having the time traveler's actions be already a part of history, but they're unaware of the exact role they played.

All of the above being said, I did enjoy Looper, though there are a lot of other time travel movies that had a much bigger impact on me.

Friday, October 5, 2012

The Movie List


(1727 titles as of September 7, 2017)

I like movies. It probably has something to do with vicariously living multiple lives or escapism or some deep-seated mental illness. Anyways, I realized a while back that I've watched a lot of movies, and I decided (because of some deep-seated mental illness) to list as many as I could remember. So ... here they are:

10 (1979)
10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)
10 Things I Hate About You (1999)
10,000 B.C. (2008)
12 Angry Men (1957)
1408 (2007)
16 Blocks (2006)
1984 (1984)
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
2010 (1984)
21 (2008)
3:10 to Yuma (2007)
4:44: Last Day on Earth (2011)
48 Hrs. (1982)
4D Man (1959)
50 First Dates (2004)
84 Charing Cross Road (1987)
Above the Law (1988)
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012)
Absent-Minded Professor, The (1961)
Absolute Power (1997)
Abyss, The (1989)
Accidental Tourist, The (1988)
Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994)
Across the Universe (2007)
Adaptation (2002)
Addams Family Values (1993)
Addams Family, The (1991)
Adjustment Bureau, The (2011)
Adventures in Babysitting (1987)
Adventures of Baron Munchausen, The (1988)
Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, The (1984)
Adventures of Pluto Nash, The (2002)
Adventures of Robin Hood, The (1938)
Aeon Flux (2005)
African Doctor, The (2016)
African Queen, The (1951)
After (2012)
After the Sunset (2004)
Age of Adaline, The (2015)
Age of Innocence, The (1993)
Air Force One (1997)
Airplane II: The Sequel (1982)
Airplane! (1980)
Airport (1970)
Airport 1975 (1974)
Aladdin (1992)
Alien (1979)
Alien Nation (1988)
Aliens (1986)
All of Me (1984)
Altered States (1980)
Always (1989)
Amadeus (1984)
Amazing Grace (2006)
Amazing Spider-Man 2, The (2014)
Amazing Spider-Man, The (2012)
Amazon Women on the Moon (1987)
Amelie (2001)
American President, The (1995)
American Werewolf in London, An (1981)
American, The (2012)
Amistad (1997)
Analyze This (1999)
And Then There Were None (1945)
Andromeda Strain, The (1971)
Angels & Demons (2009)
Angry Red Planet, The (1959)
Anna and the King (1999)
Another 48 Hrs. (1990)
Ant-Man (2015)
Antz (1998)
Apartment, The (1960)
Apocalypto (2006)
Apollo 13 (1995)
Apollo 18 (2011)
Apple Dumpling Gang, The (1975)
Arbitrage (2012)
Argo (2012)
Aristocats, The (1970)
Arlington Road (1999)
Armageddon (1998)
Around the World in 80 Days (1956)
Around the World in 80 Days (2004)
ARQ (2016)
Arranged (2007)
Arrival (2016)
Art of the Steal, The (2013)
Arthur (1981)
Arthur 2: On the Rocks (1988)
Arthur Newman (2012)
Artificial Intelligence: AI (2001)
Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, The (2007)
Astronaut Farmer, The (2006)
At First Sight (1999)
Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001)
Atomic Café, The (1982)
Automata (2014)
Avatar (2009)
Avengers, The (1998)
Avengers, The (2012)
Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
Aviator, The (2004)
Awakening, The (2011)
Awakenings (1990)
Babe (1995)
Back to School (1986)
Back to the Future (1985)
Back to the Future Part II (1989)
Back to the Future Part III (1990)
Backbeat (1994)
Bad Company (2002)
Bad News Bears (2005)
Bandits (2001)
Bank Job, The (2008)
Barb Wire (1996)
Barefoot Executive, The (1971)
Barefoot in the Park (1967)
Barry Lyndon (1975)
Batman (1989)
Batman & Robin (1997)
Batman Begins (2005)
Batman Forever (1995)
Batman Returns (1992)
Batman: The Movie (1966)
Batteries Not Included (1987)
Battle Beyond the Stars (1980)
Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973)
Beastmaster, The (1982)
Beautiful Mind, A (2001)
Beauty and the Beast (1991)
Becket (1964)
Bedazzled (1967)
Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971)
Beetlejuice (1988)
Before I Go to Sleep (2014)
Begin Again (2014)
Being George Clooney (2016)
Being Human (1993)
Being John Malkovich (1999)
Being There (1979)
Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970)
Benny and Joon (1993)
Beowulf (2007)
Best Defense (1984)
Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, The (2011)
Betsy, The (1978)
Betsy's Wedding (1990)
Beverly Hills Cop (1984)
Beverly Hills Cop II (1987)
Beverly Hills Cop III (1994)
Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (2009)
Beyond the Time Barrier (1960)
Bicentennial Man (1999)
Big (1988)
Big Chill, The (1983)
Big Fish (2003)
Big Hero 6 (2014)
Big Lebowski, The (1998)
Big Short, The (2015)
Big Trouble in Little China (1986)
Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey (1991)
Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure (1989)
Billy Bathgate (1991)
Bird on a Wire (1990)
Birdcage, The (1996)
Black Death (2010)
Black Hole, The (1979)
Black Moon Rising (1986)
Black Rain (1989)
Black Robe (1991)
Black Stallion, The (1979)
Black Sunday (1977)
Blade Runner (1982)
Blair Witch Project, The (1999)
Blast from the Past (1999)
Blazing Saddles (1974)
Blind Date (1987)
Bloom (2003)
Blown Away (1994)
Blue Lagoon, The (1980)
Blue Thunder (1983)
Blue Velvet (1986)
Blues Brothers, The (1980)
Body of Lies (2008)
Book of Eli, The (2010)
Boondock Saints, The (1999)
Bottle Shock (2008)
Bourne Identity, The (2002)
Bourne Legacy, The (2012)
Bourne Supremecy, The (2004)
Bourne Ultimatum, The (2007)
Boys from Brazil, The (1978)
Brainstorm (1983)
Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992)
Braveheart (1995)
Brazil (1985)
Breach (2007)
Breaker Morant (1980)
Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961)
Breakfast Club, The (1985)
Breaking Away (1979)
Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
Bride, The (1985)
Bridge of San Luis Rey, The (2004)
Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (2004)
Bridget Jones's Diary (2001)
Brighton Beach Memoirs (1986)
Bringing Out the Dead (1999)
Broadcast News (1987)
Broken Arrow (1996)
Broken, The (2008)
Bronco Billy (1980)
Brothers Grimm, The (2005)
Brubaker (1980)
Bruce Almighty (2003)
Bubba Ho-Tep (2003)
Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992)
Bug's Life, A (1998)
Bull Durham (1988)
burbs, The (1989)
Burglar (1987)
Burn After Reading (2008)
Burnt (2015)
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
Butcher's Wife, The
Butterfly Effect, The (2004)
Cabin in the Woods, The (2011)
Cable Guy, The (1996)
Caddyshack (1980)
Caddyshack II (1988)
California Suite (1978)
Caligula (1979)
Call of Cthulhu, The (2005)
Camelot (1967)
Cannonball Run, The (1981)
Capricorn One (1978)
Captain America: Civil War (2016)
Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
Captain Blood (1935)
Captain Fantastic (2016)
Captain Phillips (2013)
Car, The (1977)
Carrie (1976)
Cars (2006)
Casanova (2005)
Cashback (2006)
Casino Royale (2006)
Cast Away (2000)
Cat from Outer Space, The (1978)
Cat People (1982)
Cat's Eye (1985)
Catch Me If You Can (2002)
Catch-22 (1970)
Caveman (1981)
Caveman's Valentine, The (2001)
Celestine Prophecy, The (2006)
Chain Reaction (1996)
Changing Lanes (2002)
Chaos Theory (2007)
Charade (1963)
Chariots of Fire (1981)
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)
Charlie Brown Christmas, A (1965)
Cheaper by the Dozen (1950)
Chef (2014)
Chef, Le (2012)
Cherry 2000 (1987)
Chicago (2002)
Children of a Lesser God (1986)
Children of Men (2006)
Children of the Corn (1984)
China Syndrome, The (1979)
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968)
Christine (1983)
Christmas Story, A (1983)
Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, The (2008)
Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, The (2005)
Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (2010)
Cinderella (1950)
Cinderella (2015)
Circle of Iron (1978)
Citizen Kane (1941)
City of Angels (1998)
City of Ember (2008)
Cleaner (2007)
Clear and Present Danger (1994)
Cleopatra (1963)
Client, The (1994)
Cloak & Dagger (1984)
Clockwork Orange, A (1971)
Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
Cloverfield (2008)
Clue (1985)
Clueless (1995)
Cocoon (1985)
Cocoon: The Return (1988)
Code 46 (2004)
Colossus: The Forbin Project (1970)
Coma (1978)
Come and Find Me (2016)
Come Blow Your Horn (1963)
Coming to America (1988)
Commitments,The (1991)
Computer Wore Tennis Shoes, The (1969)
Conan the Barbarian (1982)
Conan the Destroyer (1984)
Congo (1995)
Conspiracy Theory (1997)
Constantine (2005)
Contact (1992)
Contract, The (2006)
Conversation, The (1974)
Cool World (1992)
Cooler, The (2003)
Cop Out (2010)
Coraline (2009)
Coriolanus (2011)
Corn Is Green, The (1945)
Corpse Bride (2005)
Count of Monte Cristo, The (2002)
Courage Under Fire (1996)
Court Jester, The (1956)
Cowboy Way, The (1994)
Cowboys & Aliens (2011)
Crack in the World (1965)
Crazy People (1990)
Creator (1985)
Creature Wasn't Nice, The (1983)
Crimson Peak (2015)
Crimson Tide (1995)
Crocodile Dundee (1986)
Crocodile Dundee II (1988)
Croods, The (2013)
Crossed Swords (1977)
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)
Croupier (1998)
Crow, The (1994)
Crow: City of Angels, The (1996)
Cube (1997)
Cujo (1983)
Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The (2008)
Curious George (2006)
Curly Sue (1991)
Cutthroat Island (1995)
Cypher (2002)
D.O.A. (1950)
D.O.A. (1988)
Dangerous Liaisons (1988)
Daredevil (2003)
Dark City (1998)
Dark Crystal, The (1982)
Dark Knight Rises, The (2012)
Dark Knight, The (2008)
Dark Shadows (2012)
Dark Star (1974)
Darkest Hour, The (2011)
Darkman (1990)
Date With an Angel (1987)
Dave (1993)
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)
Day at the Races, A (1937)
Day of the Falcon (2011)
Day the Earth Stood Still, The (1951)
Day the Earth Stood Still, The (2008)
Daybreakers (2009)
Dead Again (1991)
Dead Heat (1988)
Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid (1982)
Dead Poets Society (1989)
Dead Pool, The (1988)
Dead Zone, The (1983)
Deal of the Century (1983)
Dean Spanley (2008)
Death Becomes Her (1992)
Death Race 2000 (1975)
Death Wish (1974)
Deathtrap (1982)
Deep Impact (1998)
Deep Rising (1998)
Defending Your Life (1991)
Déjà Vu (2006)
Delhi 6 (2009)
Demolition Man (1993)
Desk Set (1957)
Despicable Me (2010)
Despicable Me 2 (2013)
Destination Moon (1950)
Devil's Advocate, The (1997)
Dial M for Murder (1954)
Diamonds Are Forever (1971)
Dick Tracy (1990)
Die Another Day (2002)
Die Hard (1988)
Die Hard 2 (1990)
Die Hard: With a Vengeance (1995)
Dirty Dancing (1987)
Dirty Harry (1971)
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988)
Discovery, The (2017)
District 9 (2009)
Divergent (2014)
Doc Hollywood (1991)
Doctor Dolittle (1967)
Doctor Strange (2016)
Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
Dogma (1999)
Don Juan DeMarco (1994)
Donnie Brasco (1997)
Donnie Darko (2001)
Dorian Gray (2009)
Double, The (2011)
Doubt (2008)
Dough (2015)
Dr. No (1962)
Dr. Seuss's The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T (1953)
Dr. Strangelove (1964)
Dracula (1979)
Dracula (1992)
Dragnet (1987)
Dragon Hunters (2008)
Dragonheart (1996)
Dragonslayer (1981)
Dreamscape (1984)
Dredd (2012)
Driving Miss Daisy (1989)
Drop Dead Fred (1991)
Duchess and the Dirtwater Fox, The (1976)
Duchess, The (2008)
Duck Soup (1933)
Dumbo (1941)
Dune (1984)
Duplicity (2009)
Dwarvenaut, The (2016)
E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
Eagle Eye (2008)
Eagle, The (2011)
Eat Drink Man Woman (1994)
Eat Pray Love (2010)
Echelon Conspiracy (2009)
Ed Wood (1994)
Edge of Tomorrow (2014)
Edge, The (1997)
Edward Scissorhands (1990)
Efficiency Expert, The (1992)
Elephant Man, The (1980)
Elf (2003)
Elizabeth (1998)
Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007)
Elizabethtown (2005)
Elysiumn (2013)
Emma (1996)
Emperor's New Clothes, The (2001)
Encino Man (1992)
End of Days (1999)
Ender's Game (2013)
Enemy Mine (1985)
Enemy of the State (1998)
Englishman Who Went Up a Hill but Came Down a Mountain, The (1995)
Entrapment (1999)
Erased (2012)
Eraser (1996)
Erasing David (2009)
Escape from Alcatraz (1979)
Escape from L.A. (1996)
Escape from New York (1981)
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
Europa Report (2013)
European Vacation (1985)
Eve of Destruction (1991)
Ever After (1998)
Evita (1996)
Evolution (2001)
Ex Machina (2015)
Exam (2008)
Excalibur (1981)
Executive Decision (1996)
Eye of the Needle (1981)
Eye See You (2002)
Eyes Wide Shut (1999)
F/X (1986)
Fabulous Baker Boys, The (1989)
Face/Off (1997)
Fahrenheit 451 (1966)
Failure to Launch (2006)
Falling Down (1993)
Family Man, The (2000)
Fantasia (1940)
Fantasia 2000 (1999)
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016)
Fantastic Four (2005)
Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007)
Fantastic Voyage (1966)
Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)
Fatal Beauty (1987)
Father of the Bride (1991)
Father of the Bride Part II (1995)
Faults (2014)
Fearless (1993)
Femme Nikita, La (1990)
Fermat's Room (2007)
Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986)
Few Good Men, A (1992)
Ffolkes (1980)
Fifth Element, The (1997)
Fifth Musketeer, The (1979)
Fight Club (1999)
Final Countdown, The (1980)
Final Cut, The (2004)
Finding Altamira (2016)
Finding Dory (2016)
Finding Fanny (2014)
Finding Nemo (2003)
Finding Neverland (2004)
Fire Down Below (1997)
Firefox (1982)
Firestarter (1984)
Firewall (2006)
Firm, The (1993)
First Men in the Moon (1964)
First Power, The (1990)
Fish Called Wanda, A (1988)
Fisher King, The (1991)
Flash Gordon (1980)
Flashback (1990)
Flatliners (1990)
Flawless (2007)
Fletch (1985)
Fletch Lives (1989)
Flight (2012)
Flight of the Navigator (1986)
Flubber (1997)
Fly II, The (1989)
Fly, The (1958)
Fly, The (1986)
Flypaper (2011)
Footloose (1984)
For Love or Money (1993)
For Your Eyes Only (1981)
Forbidden Kingdom, The (2008)
Forbidden Planet (1956)
Forces of Nature (1999)
Forever Young (1992)
Forget Paris (1995)
Forgotten, The (2004)
Formula 51 (2002)
Forrest Gump (1994)
Fort Apache, the Bronx (1981)
Foul Play (1978)
Founder, The (2016)
Fountain, The (2006)
Four Feathers, The (2002)
Four Musketeers, The (1974)
Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994)
Fourth Protocol, The (1987)
Fracture (2007)
Frankenstein (1931)
Frankenstein (1994)
Frankenweenie (1984)
Franklyn (2008)
Frantic (1988)
Freaky Friday (1976)
Freejack (1992)
French Connection, The (1971)
Frequencies (2013)
Frequency (2000)
Freshman, The (1990)
Frida (2002)
Fright Night (1985)
Fright Night (2011)
Frighteners, The (1996)
From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)
From Hell (2001)
From Russia with Love (1963)
Frozen (2013)
Fugitive, The (1993)
Full Monty, The (1997)
Funny Farm (1988)
Funny Girl (1968)
Futureworld (1976)
G.I. Jane (1997)
Galaxy Quest (1999)
Gambit (1966)
Game of Death (1978)
Game, The (1997)
Gandhi (1982)
Gangs of New York (2002)
Gate, The (1987)
Gattaca (1997)
Get Smart (2008)
Ghost (1990)
Ghost and the Darkness, The (1996)
Ghost Rider (2007)
Ghost Town (2008)
Ghost Writer, The (2010)
Ghostbusters (1984)
Ghostbusters II (1989)
Girl with a Pearl Earring (2003)
Girl, Interrupted (1999)
Gladiator (2000)
Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)
Glenn Miller Story,The (1954)
Glimmer Man (1996)
God of Cookery (1996)
Gods Must Be Crazy, The (1980)
Godzilla (1998)
Godzilla (2014)
Going in Style (1979)
Golden Child, The (1986)
Golden Compass, The (2007)
Golden Voyage of Sinbad, The (1974)
GoldenEye (1995)
Goldfinger (1964)
Gone Girl (2014)
Gone in Sixty Seconds (2000)
Good Morning, Vietnam (1987)
Good Shepherd, The (2006)
Good Will Hunting (1997)
Good Year, A (2006)
Goonies,The (1985)
Gorillas in the Mist: The Story of Dian Fossey (1988)
Gosford Park (2001)
Gotcha! (1985)
Grand Budapest Hotel, The (2014)
Great Balls of Fire! (1989)
Great Escape, The (1963)
Great Expectations (2012)
Great Muppet Caper, The (1981)
Green Hornet, The (2011)
Green Lantern (2011)
Green Mile, The (1999)
Gremlins (1984)
Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes (1984)
Grifters, The (1990)
Grosse Pointe Blank (1997)
Groundhog Day (1993)
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)
Guarding Tess (1994)
Gumball Rally, The (1976)
Gung Ho (1986)
Hackers (1995)
Hamlet (1996)
Hamlet (2000)
Hancock (2008)
Handmaid's Tale, The (1990)
Hangover, The (2009)
Hanna (2011)
Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013)
Happening, The (2008)
Happy Accidents (2000)
Happy Feet (2006)
Hard Day's Night, A (1964)
Hard to Kill (1990)
Harold and Maude (1971)
Harry and Walter Go to New York (1976)
Harry Brown (2009)
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002)
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I (2010)
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II (2011)
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007)
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001)
Harvey (1950)
Haunted Mansion, The (2003)
Haunting, The (1999)
Haute Cuisine (2013)
Hawk the Slayer (1980)
He Said, She Said (1991)
Hearts in Atlantis (2001)
Heat (1995)
Heathers (1988)
Heaven Can Wait (1978)
Heist (2001)
Hellboy (2004)
Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008)
Help! (1965)
Henry V (1989)
Her (2013)
Hero at Large (1980)
Hidalgo (2004)
Hiding Out (1987)
High Fidelity (2000)
High Noon (1952)
Highlander (1986)
Highlander II: The Quickening (1991)
Highlander III: The Sorcerer (1994)
Hindenburg, The (1975)
History of the World: Part 1 (1981)
Hitch (2005)
Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, The (2005)
Hoax, The (2006)
Hobbit, The: An Unexpected Journey (2012)
Hobbit, The: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014)
Hobbit, The: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)
Holiday (1938)
Holiday, The (2006)
Hologram for the King, A (2016)
Home (2015)
Home Alone (1990)
Honey, I Blew Up the Kid (1992)
Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989)
Hook (1991)
Horsefeathers (1928)
Host, The (2013)
Hot Fuzz (2007)      
Houdini (1953)
House (1986)
House II: The Second Story (1987)
House of Games (1987)
House of Sand and Fog (2003)
House of Wax (1954)
HouseSitter (1992)
How to Steal a Million (1966)
How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (1967)
How to Train Your Dragon (2010)
Howard the Duck (1986)
Howards End (1992)
Hudson Hawk (1991)
Hugo (2011)
Hunchback of Notre Dame, The (1939)
Hunger Games, The (2012)
Hunt for Red October, The (1990)
Hysteria (2011)
I Am Legend (2007)
I, Robot (2004)
I.Q. (1994)
I.T. (2016)
Ice Age (2002)
Ice Age: The Meltdown (2006)
Iceman (1984)
Identity (2003)
Ides of March, The (2011)
Illusionist, The (2006)
Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, The (2009)
Imitation Game, The (2014)
Impostor (2001)
In Bruges (2008)
In Like Flint (1967)
In the Line of Fire (1993)
In Time (2011)
In-Laws, The (1979)
In-Laws, The (2003)
Inception (2010)
Incredible Mr. Limpet, The (1964)
Incredibles, The (2004)
Independence Day (1996)
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)
Inherit the Wind (1960)
Innerspace (1987)
Inside Man (2006)
Insomnia (2002)
Interpreter, The (2005)
Interstellar (2014)
Interview with the Vampire (1994)
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
Invisible Invaders (1959)
Invisible Man, The (1933)
Iron Eagle (1986)
Iron Giant, The (1999)
Iron Man (2008)
Iron Man 2 (2010)
Iron Man 3 (2013)
Ironclad (2011)
Ishtar (1987)
Island of Dr. Moreau, The (1996)
Island, The (2005)
It Happened One Night (1934)
It! The Terror from Beyond Space (1958)
It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
Italian Job, The (1969)
Italian Job, The (2003)
J. Edgar (2011)
Jabberwocky (1977)
Jack Reacher (2012)
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014)
Jacket, The (2005)
Jacob's Ladder (1990)
James and the Giant Peach (1996)
January Man, The (1989)
Jason and the Argonauts (1963)
Jaws (1975)
Jeremiah Johnson (1972)
Jerk, The (1979)
Jerry Maguire (1996)
Jersey Boys (2014)
Jewel of the Nile, The (1985)
Jiro Dreams of Sushi (2011)
Jobs (2013)
Joe Versus the Volcano (1990)
John Carter (2012)
Johnny Dangerously (1984)
Johnny Mnemonic (1995)
Journey to the Center of the Earth (2008)
Journey to the Seventh Planet (1962)
Judge Dredd (1995)
Juggernaut (1974)
Julie & Julia (2009)
Jumper (2008)
Jumpin' Jack Flash (1986)
Jungle 2 Jungle (1997)
Juno (2007)
Jupiter Ascending (2015)
Jurassic Park (1993)
Jurassic Park III (2001)
Jurassic World (2015)
K-19: The Widowmaker (2002)
K-9 (1989)
K-PAX (2001)
Karate Kid Part II, The (1986)
Karate Kid Part III, The (1989)
Karate Kid, The (1984)
Karate Kid, The (2010)
Keep (1983)
Kick-Ass (2010)
Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988)
Kindergarten Cop (1990)
King Kong (1933)
King Kong (1976)
King Kong (2005)
King Solomon's Mines (1985)
King's Speech, The (2010)
Kingdom of Heaven (2005)
Kinky Boots (2005)
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)
Kitchen Stories (2004)
Knight's Tale, A (2001)
Knowing (2009)
Kong: Skull Island (2017)
Koyaanisqatsi (1983)
Kramer vs. Kramer (1979)
Krull (1983)
Kubo and the Two Strings (2016)
Kuffs (1992)
L.A. Story (1991)
La Bamba (1987)
La Femme Nikita (1990)
La Jetée (1961)
Labyrinth (1986)
Ladies in Lavender (2004)
Lady and the Tramp (1955)
Lady in the Water, The (2006)
Lady Jane (1986)
Ladyhawke (1985)
Lake House, The (2006)
Land Before Time, The (1988)
Langoliers, The (1995)
Larry Crowne (2011)
Lars and the Real Girl (2007)
Last Action Hero (1993)
Last Boy Scout, The (1991)
Last Emperor, The (1987)
Last Love (2013)
Last Man on Earth, The (1964)
Last Man Standing (1996)
Last of the Mohicans, The (1992)
Last Starfighter, The (1984)
Last Temptation of Christ, The (1988)
Lawnmower Man, The (1992)
Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
Lazarus Effect, The (2015)
Lazarus Project, The (2008)
League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, The (2003)
League of Their Own, A (1992)
Leap of Faith (1992)
Lee Daniels' The Butler (2013)
Legend of 1900, The (1998)
Legend of Bagger Vance, The (2000)
Legend of Zorro, The (2005)
Legends of the Fall (1994)
Legion (2010)
Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004)
Léon: The Professional (1994)
Leonard Part 6 (1987)
Les misérables (1998)
Lethal Weapon (1987)
Lethal Weapon 2 (1989)
Leviathan (1989)
Liar Liar (1997)
Liberal Arts (2012)
Libertine, The (2004)
Librarian: Curse of the Judas Chalice, The (2008)
Librarian: Quest for the Spear, The (2004)
Librarian: Return to King Solomon's Mines, The (2006)
Licence to Kill (1989)
Lies & Illusions (2009)
Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, The (2004)
Life as a House (2001)
Life of Brian (1979)
Life of Crime (2013)
Life of David Gale, The (2003)
Lifeforce (1985)
Lilo & Stitch (2002)
Limitless (2011)
Lion King, The (1994)
Little Mermaid, The (1989)
Little Miss Marker (1980)
Little Prince, The (2015)
Little Shop of Horrors (1986)
Little Shop of Horrors, The (1960)
Live and Let Die (1973)
Live Free or Die Hard (2007)
Living Daylights, The (1987)
Lockout (2012)
Lodger, The (2009)
Loft, The (2014)
Logan's Run (1976)
Lone Ranger, The (2013)
Long Riders, The (1980)
Long Way Down, A (2014)
Longest Yard, The (1974)
Longest Yard, The (2005)
Look Who's Talking (1989)
Looper (2012)
Lord of the Rings, The (1978)
Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)
Lord of War (2005)
Lost Boys, The (1987)
Lost in Space (1998)
Lost in Translation (2003)
Lost Skeleton of Cadavra, The (2004)
Lost World: Jurassic Park, The (1997)
Love & Mercy (2015)
Love Actually (2003)
Love Affair (1994)
Love in the Time of Cholera (2007)
Love Potion No. 9 (1992)
Love's Kitchen (2010)
Lucky Number Slevin
Lunopolis (2009)
Luther (2003)
Machinist, The (2004)
Mad Max (1979)
Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981)
Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985)
Madagascar (2005)
Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa (2008)
Magnificent Seven, The (1960)
Majestic, The (2001)
Maleficent (2014)
Man for All Seasons, A (1966)
Man from Planet X, The (1951)
Man from U.N.C.L.E., The (2015)
Man in the Iron Mask, The (1998)
Man of Steel (2013)
Man on Fire (2004)
Man Up (2015)
Man Who Fell to Earth, The (1976)
Man with One Red Shoe, The (1985)
Man with the Golden Gun, The (1974)
Man with Two Brains, The (1983)
Management (2008)
Manchurian Candidate, The (1962)
Manchurian Candidate, The (2004)
Mannequin (1987)
Manos: The Hands of Fate (1966)
Mansfield Park (1999)
Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, The (1977)
Margin Call (2011)
Mark of Zorro, The (1940)
Mars Attacks! (1996)
Martian, The (2015)
Mary Poppins (1964)
Mary Reilly (1996)
MASH (1970)
Mask of Zorro, The (1998)
Mask, The (1994)
Master and Commander (2003)
Master of the World (1961)
Match Point (2005)
Matchstick Men (2003)
Matrix, The (1999)
Maverick (1994)
Maximum Overdrive (1986)
Meaning of Life, The (1983)
Meatballs (1979)
Mechanic, The (1972)
Medicine Man (1992)
Meet Joe Black (1998)
Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)
Meet the Parents (2000)
Meet the Patels (2014)
Megamind (2010)
Memento (2000)
Memoirs of a Geisha (2005)
Memoirs of an Invisible Man (1992)
Men in Black (1997)
Men in Black 3 (2012)
Men in Black II (2002)
Men Who Stare at Goats, The (2009)
Mercury Rising (1998)
Mermaids (1990)
Messenger, The (1999)
Meteor Man, The (1993)
Metro (1997)
Metropolis (1927)
Michael Clayton (2007)
Michael Collins (1996)
Micki and Maude (1984)
Midnight in Paris (2011)
Midsummer Night's Dream, A (1999)
Mighty Quinn, The (1989)
Millennium (1989)
Minions (2015)
Minority Report (2002)
Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
Mirror Crack'd, The (1980)
MirrorMask (2005)
Misery (1990)
Miss Congeniality (2000)
Missing, The (2003)
Mission, The (1986)
Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol (2011)
Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation (2015)
Mission: Impossible (1996)
Mission: Impossible II (2000)
Mister Frost (1990)
Moana (2016)
Modern Problems (1981)
Mole Men vs. the Son of Hercules (1961)
Moll Flanders (1996)
Mona Lisa Smile (2003)
Money Pit, The (1986)
Moneyball (2011)
Monster Club, The (1980)
Monsters University (2013)
Monsters vs Aliens (2009)
Monsters, Inc. (2001)
Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)
Monuments Men, The (2014)
Moon (2009)
Moonraker (1979)
Moonrise Kingdom (2012)
Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, The (2013)
Moscow on the Hudson (1984)
Moscow Zero (2006)
Mosquito Coast, The (1986)
Mostly Martha (2002)
Mother (1996)
Mothman Prophecies, The (2002)
Moulin Rouge! (2001)
Mr. Church (2016)
Mr. Deeds (2002)
Mr. Holmes (2015)
Mr. Mom (1983)
Mr. North (1988)
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)
Mrs. Brown (1997)
Mrs. Doubtfire (1993)
Mrs. Henderson Presents (2005)
Much Ado About Nothing (1993)
Much Ado About Nothing (2012)
Multiplicity (1996)
Mummy Returns, The (2001)
Mummy, The (1999)
Mummy, The: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008)
Muppet Christmas Carol, The (1992)
Muppet Movie, The (1979)
Muppets Take Manhattan, The (1984)
Murder by Death (1976)
Murder By Numbers (2002)
My Cousin Vinny (1992)
My Fair Lady (1964)
My Favorite Year (1982)
My Own Private Idaho (1991)
Mysterious Island (1961)
Mystery Men (1999)
Naked Gun, The (1988)
Naked Lunch (1991)
Name of the Rose, The (1986)
Namesake, The (2006)
Nanook of the North (1922)
National Lampoon's Animal House (1978)
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989)
National Lampoon's European Vacation (1985)
National Lampoon's Vacation (1983)
National Treasure (2004)
National Treasure: Book of Secrets (2007)
Natural, The (1984)
Navy Seals (1990)
Nell (1994)
Net, The (1995)
Never Say Never Again (1983)
Neverending Story, The (1984)
New Moon (2009)
Next (2007)
Next of Kin (1989)
Next Three Days, The (2010)
Nick of Time (1995)
Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian (2009)
Night at the Opera, A (1935)
Night of the Comet (1984)
Night of the Living Dead (1968)
Nighthawks (1981)
Nightmare Before Christmas, The (1993)
Nine to Five (1980)
Ninth Gate, The (1999)
No Reservations (2007)
Noah (2014)
Nomads (1986)
Norma Rae (1979)
Notebook, The (2004)
Notting Hill (1999)
November Man, The (2014)
Now You See Him, Now You Don't (1972)
Now You See Me (2013)
Nude Bomb, The (1980)
Number 23, The (2007)
Numbers Station, The (2013)
Nuts (1987)
Nutty Professor, The (1996)
Oblivion (2013)
Ocean's Eleven (2001)
Ocean's Thirteen (2007)
Ocean's Twelve (2004)
Octagon, The (1980)
Octopussy (1983)
Odd Couple, The (1968)
Odd Thomas (2013)
Odessa File, The (1974)
Office Space (1999)
Officer and a Gentleman, An (1982)
Oh God! You Devil! (1984)
Oh, God! (1977)
Oh, God! Book II (1980)
Omega Man, The (1971)
On Golden Pond (1981)
On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969)
Ondine (2009)
One Fine Day (1996)
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)
One for the Money (2012)
One Hour Photo (2002)
One Million Years B.C. (1966)
Operator (2016)
Order, The (2003)
Ordinary People (1980)
Othello (1995)
Other Boleyn Girl, The (2008)
Other People's Money (1991)
Others, The (2001)
Our Idiot Brother (2011)
Our Man Flint (1966)
Out of Africa (1985)
Out of Sight (1998)
Out of Time (2003)
Out of Towners, The (1970)
Out of Towners, The (1999)
Outbreak (1995)
Outland (1981)
Outlaw Josey Wales, The (1976)
Outsiders, The (1983)
Outsourced (2006)
Overboard (1987)
Oxford Murders, The (2008)
Oz The Great and Powerful (2013)
Pacific Rim (2013)
Painted Veil, The (2006)
Pale Rider (1985)
Pan's Labyrinth (2006)
Pandorum (2009)
Panic Room (2002)
Paper Chase, The (1973)
Paper Moon (1973)
Papillon (1973)
Parallels (2015)
Paranoia (2013)
Parenthood (1989)
Paris, Je T'aime (2006)
Passenger 57 (1992)
Patch Adams (1998)
Patriot Games (1992)
Patriot, The (2000)
Payback (1999)
Paycheck (2003)
Peacemaker, The (1997)
Pelican Brief, The (1993)
Penitent Man, The (2010)
Percy Jackson & the Olympians (2010)
Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters (2013)
Perfect Host, The (2010)
Perfect Murder, A (1998)
Perfect Stranger (2007)
Pet Sematary (1989)
Peter Pan (1953)
Peter Pan (2003)
Phantom, The (1996)
Phase IV (1974)
Phenomenon (1996)
Philomena (2013)
Phone Booth (2002)
Pi (1998)
Pieces of April (2003)
Pink Panther Strikes Again, The (1976)
Pink Panther, The (1963)
Pink Panther, The (2006)
Pinocchio (1940)
Pirate Movie, The (1982)
Pirate Radio (2009)
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (2007)
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (2006)
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011)
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)
Plan 9 from Outer Space (1958)
Planet 51 (2009)
Planet of the Apes (1968)
Planet of the Apes (2001)
Pleasantville (1998)
Point of No Return (1993)
Point, The (1971)
Police Academy (1984)
Poltergeist (1982)
Poltergeist II (1986)
Popeye (1980)
Poseidon Adventure, The (1972)
Practical Magic (1998)
Predator (1987)
Predator 2 (1990)
Presidio, The (1988)
Prestige, The (2006)
Presumed Innocent (1990)
Priest (2011)
Primal Fear (1996)
Primer (2004)
Prince of Darkness (1987)
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010)
Prince, The (2014)
Princess Bride, The (1987)
Principal, The (1987)
Private Benjamin (1980)
Project X (1987)
Prometheus (2012)
Promised Land (2012)
Proof (2005)
Propaganda Game, The (2015)
Prophecy 2, The (1998)
Prophecy, The (1995)
Prospero's Books (1991)
Protocol (1984)
Public Enemies (2009)
Pulp Fiction (1994)
Punchline (1988)
Quantum of Solace (2008)
Quartet (2012)
Queen to Play (2009)
Quest for Fire (1981)
Quick and the Dead, The (1995)
Quiet American, The (2002)
Quiet Earth, The (1985)
Quintet (1979)
Quiz Show (1994)
Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi (2008)
Rabbit-Proof Fence (2002)
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
Railway Man, The (2013)
Rain Man (1988)
Raising Arizona (1987)
Rambo (2008)
Ramen Girl, The (2008)
Ransom (1996)
Ratatouille (2007)
Raven, The (2012)
Ray (2004)
Real Genius (1985)
Real McCoy, The (1993)
Real Men (1987)
Real Steel (2011)
Rear Window (1954)
Rear Window (1998)
Rebel Without a Cause (1955)
Recruit, The (2003)
Red (2010)
Red Dawn (1984)
Red Dawn (2012)
Red Heat (1988)
Red Violin, The (1998)
Regarding Henry (1991)
Reign of Fire (2002)
Reluctant Astronaut, The (1967)
Remains of the Day, The (1993)
Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins (1985)
Renaissance Man (1994)
Rescuers, The (1977)
Restoration (1995)
Return of the Pink Panther, The (1975)
Revenge of the Nerds (1984)
Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise (1987)
Revenge of the Pink Panther (1978)
Rhinestone (1984)
Richard III (1995)
Right Stuff, The (1983)
Ripley's Game (2003)
Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)
Rising Sun (1993)
Risky Business (1983)
Rite, The (2011)
Road House (1989)
Road to Perdition (2002)
Rob Roy (1995)
Robin Hood (2010)
Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993)
Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991)
Robinson Crusoe on Mars (1964)
RoboCop (1987)
RoboCop (2014)
RoboCop 2 (1990)
Robot & Frank (2012)
Robot Monster (1953)
Robots (2005)
Rock the Kasbah (2015)
Rock, The (1996)
Rocketeer, The (1991)
Rocky (1976)
Rocky Horror Picture Show, The (1975)
Rogue One (2016)
Rollerball (1975)
Roman Holiday (1953)
Romancing the Stone (1984)
Romantic Comedy (1983)
Romantics Anonymous (2010)
Romeo & Juliet (1968)
Romeo + Juliet (1996)
Room with a View, A (1986)
Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead (1990)
Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Undead (2009)
Roxanne (1987)
Ruling Class, The (1972)
Rumble in the Bronx (1995)
Runaway (1984)
Running Man, The (1987)
Running Scared (1986)
Rush Hour (1998)
Rush Hour 2 (2001)
Russia House, The (1990)
Russian Ark (2002)
Sabrina (1954)
Sabrina (1995)
Safe (2012)
Safe House (2012)
Safety Not Guaranteed (2012)
Sahara (2005)
Saint, The (1997)
Salem's Lot (1979)
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (2011)
Salt (2010)
Sands of Iwo Jima (1949)
Santa Claus (1985)
Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964)
Sapphires, The (2012)
Saturday Night Fever (1977)
Saving Mr. Banks (2013)
Say Anything... (1989)
Scanner Darkly, A (2006)
Scapegoat, The (2012)
Scoop (2006)
Scorpion King, The (2002)
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (2010)
Scrooged (1988)
Se7en (1995)
Seabiscuit (2003)
Search for General Tso, The (2014)
Season of the Witch (2011)
Secret Life of Walter Mitty, The (2013)
Secret of My Succe$s, The (1987)
Secret of NIMH, The (1982)
Secret of the Incas (1954)
Secret Window (2004)
Secretary (2002)
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (2012)
Seems Like Old Times (1980)
Sense and Sensibility (1995)
Sentinel, The (1977)
Sentinel, The (2006)
Seraphim Falls (2006)
Serendipity (2001)
Serenity (2005)
Serpico (1973)
Seven Pounds (2008)
Seven Samurai (1954)
Seven Years in Tibet (1997)
Seventh Seal, The (1957)
Seventh Sign, The (1988)
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1978)
Shackleton (2002)
Shadow of the Vampire (2000)
Shadow, The (1994)
Shadowlands (1993)
Shakespeare in Love (1998)
Shanghai Noon (2000)
Shawshank Redemption, The (1994)
She (1935)
She's Having a Baby (1988)
Sherlock Holmes (2009)
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011)
Shining, The (1980)
Shipping News, The (2001)
Shootist, The (1976)
Shopgirl (2005)
Short Circuit (1986)
Showtime (2002)
Shrek (2001)
Shrek 2 (2004)
Shrek the Third (2007)
Shutter Island (2010)
Signs (2002)
Silence of the Lambs, The (1991)
Silent Running (1971)
Silkwood (1983)
Silver Bullet (1985)
Silver Streak (1976)
Silverado (1985)
Simone (2002)
Simpsons Movie, The (2007)
Sin City (2005)
Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger (1977)
Singin' in the Rain (1952)
Single White Female (1992)
Singles (1992)
Sister Act (1992)
Six Days Seven Nights (1998)
Six Degrees of Separation (1993)
Six Weeks (1982)
Sixteen Candles (1984)
Sixth Sense, The (1999)
Skeptic, The (2009)
Skulls, The (2000)
Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004)
Skyfall (2012)
Skyline (2010)
Sleeper (1973)
Sleeping Beauty (1959)
Sleepless in Seattle (1993)
Sleepy Hollow (1999)
Sleuth (1972)
Sleuth (2007)
Sliding Doors (1998)
Slipstream (1989)
Smokey and the Bandit (1977)
Sneakers (1992)
Snow White and the Huntsman (2012)
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
Snowpiercer (2013)
Solaris (2002)
Solomon Kane (2009)
Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983)
Somewhere in Time (1980)
Son of Flubber (1963)
Son of Godzilla (1967)
Sorcerer's Apprentice, The (2010)
Sound of Music, The (1965)
Sound of Thunder, A (2004)
Sour Grapes (2016)
Source Code (2011)
Soylent Green (1973)
Spaceballs (1987)
Spanish Prisoner, The (1997)
Spectre (2015)
Speed (1994)
Sphere (1998)
Spider-Man (2002)
Spider-Man 2 (2004)
Spider-Man 3 (2007)
Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
Spiderwick Chronicles, The (2008)
Spies Like Us (1985)
Splash (1984)
Spy Game (2001)
Spy Who Loved Me, The (1977)
Sssssss (1973)
Stalag 17 (1953)
Stand and Deliver (1988)
Star Chamber, The (1983)
Star Trek (2009)
Star Trek Beyond (2016)
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)
Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984)
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986)
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989)
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991)
Star Trek: First Contact (1996)
Star Trek: Generations (1994)
Star Trek: Insurrection (1998)
Star Trek: Into Darkness (2013)
Star Trek: Nemesis (2002)
Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)
Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999)
Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (2002)
Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005)
Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977)
Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983)
Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens (2015)
Starcrash (1979)
Stardust (2007)
Stargate (1994)
Starman (1984)
Starship Troopers (1997)
State of Play (2009)
Station Agent, The (2003)
Stepford Wives, The (1975)
Stepford Wives, The (2004)
Sting, The (1973)
Stolen (2012)
Stonehearst Asylum (2014)
Strange Brew (1983)
Stranger Than Fiction (2006)
Stripes (1981)
Striptease (1996)
Suicide Kings (1997)
Sum of All Fears, The (2002)
Summer School (1987)
Sunshine Cleaning (2008)
Super 8 (2011)
Supergirl (1984)
Superman (1978)
Superman II (1980)
Superman III (1983)
Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987)
Superman Returns (2006)
Surrogates (2009)
Survivor (2015)
Swimming with Sharks (1994)
Sword in the Stone, The (1963)
Taffin (1988)
Tailor of Panama, The (2001)
Talented Mr. Ripley, The (1999)
Tall Guy, The (1989)
Tango & Cash (1989)
Tarzan, the Ape Man (1981)
Teachers (1984)
Tears of the Sun (2003)
Teen Wolf (1985)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990)
Tempest (1982)
Ten Commandments, The (1956)
Terminal, The (2004)
Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
Terminator, The (1984)
Thank You for Smoking (2005)
That Thing You Do! (1996)
The Jungle Book (1967)
Theater of Blood (1973)
Theory of Everything, The (2014)
Thing, The (1982)
Thirteenth Warrior, The (1999)
This Island Earth (1955)
Thomas Crown Affair, The (1968)
Thomas Crown Affair, The (1999)
Thor (2011)
Thor: The Dark World (2013)
Three Amigos (1986)
Three Days of the Condor (1975)
Three Kings (1999)
Three Musketeers, The (1973)
Three Musketeers, The (1993)
Three Musketeers, The (2011)
Thunderball (1965)
Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (1974)
Thunderheart (1992)
THX 1138 (1971)
Tigger Movie, The (2000)
Time After Time (1979)
Time Bandits (1981)
Time Lapse (2014)
Time Machine, The (1960)
Time Machine, The (2002)
Timecop (1994)
Timeline (2003)
TiMER (2009)
Timerider: The Adventure of Lyle Swann (1982)
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (2011)
Titanic (1997)
Titus (1999)
To Catch a Thief (1955)
To Sir, with Love (1967)
Today's Special (2009)
Tombstone (1993)
Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)
Tomorrowland (2015)
Tootsie (1982)
Top Gun (1986)
Top Secret! (1984)
Total Recall (1990)
Total Recall (2012)
Tourist, The (2010)
Tower Heist (2011)
Towering Inferno, The (1974)
Town, The (2010)
Toys (1992)
Trading Places (1983)
Trancers (1985)
Transatlantic Tunnel (1935)
Transcendence (2014)
Transylvania 6-5000 (1985)
Treasure of Matecumbe (1976)
Treasure of the Sierra Madre, The (1948)
Trip to the Moon, A (1902)
Trip, The (2010)
Tristram Shandy (2005)
TRON (1982)
TRON: Legacy (2010)
Troy (2004)
True Crime (1999)
True Lies (1994)
Truman Show, The (1998)
Tucker: The Man and His Dream (1988)
Tunnel Vision (1976)
Tuxedo, The (2002)
Twelve Monkeys (1995)
Twilight (1998)
Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983)
Twilight: Eclipse (2010)
Twilight: New Moon (2009)
Twins (1988)
Twister (1996)
Twixt (2011)
Two Faces of January, The (2014)
Two Weeks Notice (2002)
U.S. Marshals (1998)
UHF (1989)
Unbreakable (2000)
Under Siege (1992)
Under the Tuscan Sun (2003)
Unforgiven (1992)
Unknown (2011)
Untouchables, The (1987)
Up (2009)
Up in the Air (2009)
Upside Down (2012)
Urbanized (2011)
Usual Suspects, The (1995)
V for Vendetta (2005)
Valkyrie (2008)
Vampire in Brooklyn (1995)
Van Helsing (2004)
Vanilla Sky (2001)
Vanishing on 7th Street, The (2010)
Vanity Fair (2004)
Vantage Point (2008)
Vatel (2000)
Verdict, The (1982)
Vibes (1988)
View to a Kill, A (1985)
Village, The (2004)
Viva Knievel! (1977)
Waffle Street (2015)
Wait Until Dark (1967)
Waiting for Guffman (1996)
Waking Ned Devine (1998)
Walk, Don't Run (1966)
Wall Street (1987)
WALL-E (2008)
Wall, The (2012)
War for the Planet of the Apes (2017)
War of the Worlds (1953)
War of the Worlds (2005)
War, Inc. (2008)
WarGames (1983)
Warlock (1989)
Warm Bodies (2013)
Warriors, The (1979)
Water's Edge (2003)
Watership Down (1978)
Way Back, The (2010)
Weekend at Bernie's (1989)
Weird Science (1985)
Westworld (1973)
What Dreams May Come (1998)
What Lies Beneath (2000)
What's Up, Doc? (1972)
When Harry Met Sally... (1989)
When Worlds Collide (1951)
Where the Wild Things Are (2009)
While You Were Sleeping (1995)
Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)
Whole Nine Yards, The (2000)
Whole Ten Yards, The (2004)
Wild Target (2010)
Wild Wild West (1999)
Willard (1971)
Willow (1988)
Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971)
Windtalkers (2002)
Wings of the Dove, The (1997)
Winter's Tale (2014)
Witches of Eastwick, The (1987)
Witness (1985)
Wiz, The (1978)
Wizard of Oz, The (1939)
Wizards (1977)
Wolf of Wall Street, The (2013)
Wolfman, The (2010)
Wolverine, The (2013)
Wonder Woman (2017)
Working Girl (1988)
World According to Garp, The (1982)
World Is Not Enough, The (1999)
World War Z (2013)
World's End, The (2013)
Wyatt Earp (1994)
X-Men (2000)
X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)
X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)
X-Men: First Class (2011)
X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)
X2: X-Men United (2003)
Xanadu (1980)
Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)
Yellow Submarine (1968)
Yes Man (2008)
You Only Live Twice (1967)
You've Got Mail (1998)
Young Einstein (1988)
Young Frankenstein (1974)
Young Guns (1988)
Young Sherlock Holmes (1985)
Young Victoria, The (2009)
Zapped! (1982)
Zero Effect (1998)



Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Stocking Up for the Zombie Apocalypse

I recently read an article about the Best Foods to Stockpile for an Emergency, and was somewhat baffled by their recommendations - a lot of what they suggested seemed downright pointless.  Then I realized something that made it all make sense:  I have a very different definition of "emergency" than they do.

Having the power go out for a day or two isn't an emergency.  It's an inconvenience.

Similarly, having your house destroyed by a meteor is also an inconvenience, albeit at a much more significant level.

Having all population centers within a 500 mile radius suddenly contaminated with radioactive dust, that's an emergency.

That stuff gets into everything!


Here's some of the foods they suggest to stockpile, and what I think is the problem with them.

Peanut butter - This is reasonable at first thought, but peanut butter is sticky and hard to eat on the run.  You'd be better off with jars of dry roasted nuts.  Hey, since peanut butter is mostly fat and protein, just like the human brain. Would zombies be drawn to it?

Crackers - I can cope with this one, but they put an emphasis on whole wheat and suggest vacuum packing them. Don't be picky, and focus instead on the shelf life.

Cereal - These are only good if you like eating them without milk. They also take up a lot of space ("packaged by weight, not volume - some settling may have occurred during shipping").

Canned foods - While these have an excellent shelf life and durability, they are also very heavy if you've got to carry a week's supply on your back at a dead run.

Bottled water - It won't hurt to stock up on water. That being said, most statements about the amount of water a person should drink in a day are greatly overestimated.  Again, the water is heavy and carrying a week's worth (seven gallons according to the article) along with your food and ammunition is going to be a challenge when fleeing the flock of raptors. Get a couple of really good stainless steel canteens learn the many ways to purify water.

Sports drinks - This stuff is absolute crap. It's basically just sugar water, and gigantic ants love sugar water.

Powdered milk - This must be for the cereal. Since you need water to turn it into milk, and since you don't need milk to survive, skip it.

Sugar, salt, and pepper - While nice to have, these are luxuries and are especially pointless considering how much salt and sugar are already in most of the foods already on the list.

Multivitamins - If you manage to live long enough to somehow become deficient in any vitamins then you're very lucky.

The article goes on to list foods to buy right before an emergency - and that list is almost entirely composed of perishable fruits and vegetables.  I have two major problems with this part.  First, if you have enough time to go grocery shopping before whatever it is hits then it's not an emergency.

"An emergency is a situation that poses an /immediate/ risk to health, life, property or environment." [Wikipedia]

Second, if you're going to stock up on foods that spoil quickly, damage easily, and may need to be cooked then you deserve to be eaten by space aliens (and they can use the perishables as a garnish).

What food do I think you need to pack for an emergency?  Assuming you can't get one of those emergency food kits that Luke Skywalker had in "The Empire Strikes Back", here's my short list:

Just what was he eating, anyways?

Dried meat
Rolled oats
Crackers
Nuts
Canteen of water

That's the food that you can own (and by "own" here, I mean "carry with you at a dead run in the middle of the night").  It's boring, but then the emergency should be supplying enough excitement already.  Maybe I'd include a bottle of vodka, the kind of hard sausage that requires no refrigeration, and cheap granola bars, but they'd also add weight and bulk that could slow you down.

Now if you had a secure place to hide from the spider-bats then you could go out (in the daylight hours) and forage for canned goods and such to make things more pleasant.  Just remember one thing; a machine gun is great, but sooner or later you'll run out of bullets and then you'll be glad you have a case of machetes.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Pandoracon 2012 Summation

On the whole, Pandoracon 2012 was a lot of fun. It's been many years since I'd been to a small convention and in some ways I'd forgotten what they were like.

The high points for me were hearing Jason Carter speak, and talking for several hours with Muffy Morrigan.

Jason Carter, of Babylon 5 fame, is an absolute pleasure to hear.  He deftly manages to be friendly, eccentric, charming, hilarious, and maybe even a bit shy all at once - the perfect showman.  If you ever have a chance to meet him, jump at it.

Muffy Morrigan is one of those people who I seem to click with, even though we have very different backgrounds.  We both had seminars where no one showed up and ended up in those long, rambling conversations that hit all sorts of subjects (e.g. medieval medicine, old science fiction, stuffed animals, etc.).

My own seminars were a mixed success.  The first one on medieval cooking had a large audience and was well received.  Two of the others ("World Building - Food" and "World Building - Language") were the no-shows, and the remaining one ("World Building - Geography") had three people (but was fun anyways).  On the whole, that's pretty good considering the schedule wasn't published until the day before the convention, and it didn't include any description of the seminars.

It looks like there will be a Pandoracon 2013.  If so, then I'll happily attend.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Why Personalized Movie Recommendations Suck

Amazon seems to think I'll like "What To Expect When You're Expecting", Netflix suggests I watch "The X Files", but neither is likely to appeal to me. In spite of letting Amazon know what movies I own, and in spite of having rated over 1300 movies on Netflix, both of their recommendation engines have a miserable success rate.

They're not alone. Every time I hear about a new movie recommendation website I go and try it out, and invariably I'm presented with a list of movies that suits me no better than a random selection.

I'm Anti-Social

The problem with Amazon and Netflix is that their recommendations are based on what other people like. If I liked "Gosford Park" then they assume I'll like every other movie favored by other people who liked "Gosford Park". That's just plain silly. My wife likes a lot of the same movies I do, but there are a significant number of them we disagree on - sometimes strongly. Statistical analysis of the preferences of huge numbers of people can help a bit, but then you only get presented with the popular movies - and if your tastes don't tend towards what the majority likes, you're screwed.

Other Tactics

There are a couple of recommendation engines out there that try to improve on this by evaluating movies based on objective criteria, and then match those criteria to the individual based on a survey and rated movies - Jinni is a good example of this sort. It was released with much fanfare and sounded like the movie equivalent to Pandora. I tried it out, spending a couple of hours rating movies only to have it routinely recommend movies I've seen and hated.

What went wrong?

While I do tend to prefer certain kinds of films (action, sci-fi, fantasy) over others (horror, romance), the genre (along with the other objective criteria that Jinni uses) aren't good predictors for whether I'll like a movie. There are a lot of movies that would seem to be a match for me that I absolutely despise, and an equal number (or more) which don't match that I love.

The Guy

The odd thing is that many years back, when I was still renting movies from a video store, I routinely got recommendations with a phenomenal hit rate. These suggestions came from an unlikely source - one of the video store employees, now fondly remembered as "The Guy".

In some ways, The Guy was kind of scary. He'd seen almost every single movie in the store and remembered them all. That's not the scary part. He also remembered the major and minor actors and actresses in each film and the kind of roles they played in the story. That's not the scary part either. The scary part is that he also remembered the director, producer and cinematographer, and could come up with a list of other films that any of them had ever worked on, sorted into phases that each of them seemed to be going through in that stage of their life's work. The Guy seemed to have all of the IMDB inside his head cross indexed with every movie critic ever.

If you were standing and staring at the shelves long enough, The Guy would walk up and ask you what sort of film you were interested in. You'd answer with a genre or a movie you liked and he'd instantaneously dissect it into component parts and then recommend something based upon these parts.

He never recommended a movie to me that I didn't like.

Trivial

Later I realized that this feat that is so incredible in a human being would actually be quite easy for a computer program. All that's needed is a reasonably complete database of movies - and, what do you know, there is one. IMDB has all sorts of data on movies. I thought about the algorithm a bit and then wrote a simple program to try it out.

The program takes as its input a movie the user likes. It then gets a list of every single person who worked on the film - I ignored jobs like gaffer and dolly grip, and stuck to those like actor, director, and writer. Since the user likes the movie, all of those people get a +1.

The program then got a list of every film each of these people worked on, and gave those films in turn a +1. Note that if the film had two people in common with the liked film, it would receive the bonus from each of them.

When any of these films is rated, all the people involved have their rating changed accordingly, +1 for liked and -1 for disliked. The list of films is recalculated and re-presented.

The result is a list of recommendations that actually seems to fit reality. Actors, directors, and writers don't restrict themselves to a single genre or movie style, but they're likely to work on projects that suit their own particular preferences. This means that if I like a Nicholas Cage film I'm liable to like another one of his films, even if it's not in a genre I usually watch.

Just Do It

The program worked incredibly well. IMDB has all the data right there. If I can cobble together a passable version of this system using php then they could have a full-blown user friendly version in a heartbeat (with an iPhone app and all). They could license the engine to Amazon and Netflix too.

I could do it, but that would require working out a deal for access to the data, and developing APIs and the like, and I'm just not that type of programmer.

Though if I did develop it I'd put a nice, simple pseudo-AI interface on it and call it "The Guy".

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Pandoracon 2012 Schedule

Pandoracon 2012 – September 28-30

Pandoracon is a new convention and it's local to me, so when I heard they were looking for programming I figured it was worth a try. I'm currently signed up to run the following panels, though I may end up being involved in more.

I usually enjoy smaller conventions more - everything is more relaxed and there's much more chance of actually being able to talk with the guests of honor.
Medieval Food
Fantasy games and novels are commonly set in a society based on medieval Europe. Learn how medieval English and French cuisine worked as a system. Topics will include medieval ingredients and preparation methods, the structure of medieval feasts, finding medieval recipes (or making them up), and common myths about medieval foods
09/29/2012, 5:00 PM
World Design - Food
Realistic food can add depth to a story, and can also reveal aspects about the climate and culture of a people. Learn how to create food and foodways that are exotic but still believable.
09/29/2012, 10:00 PM
World Design - Language
Panelists will discuss methods that authors and game designers use for creating believable fictional languages.
09/30/2012, 12:00 PM
World Design - Geography
The physical world influences a society’s development. Learn how to let the environment shape your fictional culture.
09/30/2012, 2:00 PM
That's a lot in just two days, though I'm really looking forward to it. We'll see how it goes.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Countdown to Gen Con 2012

It’s now just a week until Gen Con and as usual I’m starting to panic. My notes for the seminars are pretty well finished, and if even a fraction of those signed up actually show up there will still be a lot of people in the audience.  Unfortunately those numbers make actual handouts impractical, so I’ll be making them freely available on the Blackspoon Press website during and after the convention.

Here are the ticket counts:

SEM1229781 – Medieval Travelling Food (Thursday, 8 p.m.):  87 / 200

SEM1229783 – Build Your Own Language (Friday, 8 p.m.):  98 / 200

SEM1229782 – How to Cook Like a Dwarf (Saturday, 3 p.m.):  72 / 150

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Soundtrack for Firefly

Every now and then a song would make me think of Firefly (I know, I’m such a geek).  I’m not sure why, maybe something in the tone of the music, or the sound mixing, or the instruments.  So I skimmed through the contents of my iPod and picked out all the songs that just seem to fit the show.  Here they are, in no particular order.

Note that the first one was written with Firefly in mind, so maybe it’s a bit of a cheat.

2. “Clouds”, Bruce Kaphan
3. “My Lagen Love”, Kim Deschamps & Tim Clement
5. “Hymn For Jaco”, Adrian Legg
7. “High Desert”, Bruce Kaphan
8. “Ocean of Storms”, Charles O’Connor
9. “Alton Air”, Darrell Scott
12. “Heal Over”, KT Tunstall
13. “Cattails”, Kevin MacLeod

Monday, July 9, 2012

I Want a Game

The problem is that it isn’t one specific game I want. All the pieces of the game are out there, but no one has put them together yet. Let me try to describe it.

It starts with a solar system. There are several programs that can generate a solar system in a semi-random way. In fact they’ve been around for decades. The game will use a key (that it saves) to create a star, planets, moons, asteroids, etc. It doesn’t actually have to create the detail just yet – not until you go and look at them.

The solar system can be explored with a program like Celestia (an awesome program – and it’s free). Already at this point there could be spaceship battles and the like – that’s not the point of the whole thing, just a bonus.

When the player chooses to get close to a planet and examine it, the surface is generated in detail (using the same key) with a program like LunarCell. It uses various fractal algorithms to create a realistic geography. If the planet looks inviting, the player can choose to land and explore it.

The planet may have inhabitants and a fully developed culture. This is also algorithmically generated using the same key. There are several games already out there which have aspects of what I’m thinking of here (Doom, SecondLife, PlaneShift, Spore, Warcraft), but none have the variability or scope I have in mind. Imagine having an entire planet to explore – all of it – complete with people and places.

Here the player has a choice: either they and their spaceship can change form to blend in with the environment, or they can retain their normal (user customized) form. Of course if their normal form is too alien to the inhabitants, then the reaction may be unpleasant.

While on the planet, the player may fight monsters, solve puzzles, fulfill quests, etc. I’ve already made up a very simple plot generator for silly, one-off RPGs, so I know something bigger and more complex is possible.

The whole thing could be opened up to multi-players as well. You could send a friend the key you used, and you could connect over the internet and play in the same world. It could also be played like a tabletop RPG with several friends, maybe using something like the funky surface interface that the team over at Carnegie Mellon University.

If the key includes a timestamp, then the whole thing could be continuously enhanced with new textures and algorithms, while still allowing the player to keep previously explored worlds like they were. The worlds would only be updated if the player wanted them to be.

If the game were developed as open-source, then it all could be free. Small companies and developers though could make money by creating and selling extensions to enhance the look and feel of the worlds. They could also provide servers where in-progress games are stored up in “the cloud”. In fact, the whole thing could be kept there, with at most a thin client on the player’s computer.

Of course, someone may have already come up with such a game and I’ve just missed it. If so, let me know and I’ll spend all my free time immersed.

[this post was taken from a note I put up on Facebook some time back]

Update - 09/09/2014:  Hello Games has announced their upcoming title, "No Man's Sky", and it looks at least in part to be what I was looking for.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Update on the Conventions

Only a few days to go until Origins. I think I’m ready, though I still need to get some bookmarks printed up and maybe get a haircut. As a bonus, Patrick Rothfuss has said he’ll be there (as a participant rather than as a guest). Got to make sure he gets a copy of the cookbook.

On the Gen Con side of things, registration went online last weekend. I’ve got 48 who have already signed up for Medieval Travelling Food and 43 for the Build Your Own Language workshop. Those are pretty decent numbers, though it can be hard to match them to actual attendance. Some years I’ve had way more people show up than register and other years it’s been the same or less. It all depends on what else is scheduled on Thursday and Friday evening.

The surprise is the 24 people who have signed up for How to Cook Like a Dwarf. I wasn’t sure how this one would fare seeing as it’s scheduled in the middle of the day on Saturday, and it’s in a hotel rather than the convention center. Looks good so far.

I keep feeling like there’s stuff I’ve forgotten to do.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Thoughts on Zombies

I suspect that I spend far more time thinking about zombies than the average American … at least, I hope I do.

I’ve started watching “The Walking Dead”, and so far it strikes me as fairly standard zombie apocalypse stuff. Of course I’m looking at things rather critically, so really it says a lot about the series (or at least the first two episodes) that I don’t already have a long list of plot holes, contradictions, and the like.

It did get me musing about zombies in general. My first thought was that an old-fashioned prison would be a good place to hole up and fend off the flesh-eating hordes. That assumes the prison isn’t already occupied – cleaning one out might be a challenge.

Then I got to musing about the best defenses against the traditional, stupid, shambling undead. It occurred to me that what would really work well would be land mines with trip wires. The zombies would just shuffle right into them and take themselves out, giving a loud alert to their presence in the process. The mines could even be clearly marked to allow the living to step right over them. A few perimeters of such mines could keep a small town nice and zombie free.
“Yeah, but sooner or later you’re going to run out of bullets for the machine gun, and then you’d be glad to have the case of machetes.” comment by unknown speaker in an overheard conversation about zombies at a Pennsylvania campground ]
The real zombie paradigm shift (bet you never thought you’d see those four words together) hit me as I started musing over the zombie-as-disease issue. I’ve chatted with friends and relatives about this in the past and I just haven’t been able to make the concept work realistically. The problem, simply put, is that I any disease capable of making a corpse walk about wouldn’t really care if the creature’s head gets blown off. It’s not like the lump of spoiled brain mush could be cranking out enough power to achieve anything anyway.

What I realized though is that the whole problem is resolved (and all sorts of new areas of conflict are created) with one simple change: zombies are not dead.

Let’s consider the hypothetical zombie disease. It’s a virus like CJD or Kuru that cause the physical symptoms associated with a degenerative neurological disorder. This would account for the shuffling gait and the inability to speak.

Now add aspects of Frontotemporal dementia, which would affect planning, organization, and other cognitive functions. Throw in a dash of the symptoms of Schizophrenia caused by Temporal and Limbic damage, as well as the kind of peripheral nerve damage that leads to an inability to feel pain like that caused by Leprosy (which is bacterial, but I figure a virus could easily do it too).
So what we end up with is a disease that turns the victim into a unthinking, unfeeling, stumbling thing that will ignore non-fatal injuries. Assuming the disease encourages transmission by making the victim prone to biting others, that pretty much completes the package.
“More fun! More people killed! Blood and brains upon the ground, and me without a spoon!” [ my grandmother ]
Here’s the interesting part (for writers). A disease like the hypothetical one above could have all sorts of aspects that are perfect for use in a horror novel.

The first that comes to mind is that the victims are still alive. Is it right to kill them off indiscriminately? Are they curable? Having characters wrestle with these issues makes the story much more than an infestation of big, rabid animals.

Another important aspect is that a lot of viruses like these have potentially long latency periods – some up to 20 years – in which the victim could be contagious. The healthy characters could end up obsessive about disease and cleanliness, constantly watching their fellow survivors for telltale early symptoms.

The method of transmission is also full of potential. Yes, it’s typically through zombie bites, but there are all sorts of interesting possibilities. Airborne or waterborne would add additional challenges for the characters to overcome. It might be sexually transmitted as well (though I don’t think I want to read that book).

Then there’s the issue of where the disease came from. A terrorist’s biological weapon or an accident from a secret research facility are the obvious choices, though it could be something that springs up spontaneously from the edges of the wild, like Ebola. It could also be a chance fusion of multiple viruses from someone who was very very sick.

All of this means that the zombie-as-disease concept now works pretty well in my head, and therefore will probably find its way onto a written page.

I’m going to go wash my hands now, and then maybe go watch something that is all sunshine and butterflies.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Origins Game Fair – 2012

I’m pleased to announce that I’ll be at Origins Game Fair this year as part of their new program for writers, The Library.

May 30-June 3, 2012
Greater Columbus Convention Center
Columbus, Ohio, 43215, USA

I’ll be taking part on a number of panels, and will have a table with the other authors where I can sell copies of the books. In the remaining time I’ll be gaming, schmoozing, and stalking Wil Wheaton and Felicia Day.

Here’s the schedule for the seminars I’m participating in:

Thursday

Speak Up! (1:00 p.m.)
Sheeeoot! How ya gonna git yer folks ta talk so’s readers kin understand ‘em ‘n cobble onto jest wut they’s sposed ta sound like? Dialogs, dialects, slang, and more add color and round-out your characters, settings, and stories. Learn how to use them to best effect without making your readers scratch their heads or toss your book across the room in frustration.
What’s in Your Basement? (2:00 p.m.)
From creepy caverns to haunted subways, the underground is a terrific playground for your fiction. What makes the belly of the world ripe for fantasy and horror tales? Why is Hell always below? What monsters lurk in your basement? Panelists discuss their favorite underground settings and how to use caves, tunnels, and more to best effect.

Friday

What’s in Your Literary Kitchen? (Noon)
Origins is proud to host author and medieval chef Daniel Myers. He’ll teach you how to properly feed your characters . . . which in turn will fatten your manuscript into something rich and believable. Characters have to eat, don’t they? What you feed them tells a lot about your fictional society. James Bond liked his martinis shaken, not stirred. Kojak had his lollipops. Tolkien’s hobbits had . . . well anything they could stuff in their mouths. You get the idea.
The Art of the Short Story (1:00 p.m.)
There’s a big difference between writing a short story and a novel . . . and we’re not talking word count. It’s in the approach, the pacing, and character development—or lack thereof. A good short story is a work of art. Our panelists discuss the elements of short fiction and the markets.

Saturday

Setting Your Stage (Noon)
The landscape for your fiction has a personality. It’s a compelling stage for your characters to dance on. It doesn’t matter whether you pepper it with ruins, castles, caves, or soaring cities, you have to choose what details to put in and what to leave out. Our panelists, expert world-builders all, discuss the elements of crafting vibrant settings.
Well-Read Undead (1:00 p.m.)
Vampires are still hot, zombies, too. What is the fascination with corpses-as-characters? How can you pull off a good “dead” tale that isn’t a retread of what’s already out there? Our panelists discuss how to handle undead heroes and villains and where to market your “dead end” fiction.
I expect the whole thing to be a total blast.

Gen Con 2012 Schedule

Gen Con Indy 2012 – August 16-19

Gen Con is about three months away and I’m trying to get things ready. Unfortunately I’m not part of the Writer’s Symposium panels this year, but I’m sure I’ll find plenty to keep me busy. As in past years, I’m giving a two hour talk on Thursday evening.
SEM1229781 – Medieval Travelling Food: The Theory and Practice of Hard Rations
Learn about what medieval soldiers and travelers ate when they were in the wilds, and see what you can do as a game master or writer to make things just that much more believable.
08/16/2012, 8:00 PM, ICC : Rm 243
Additionally, I’ve scheduled two events for Blackspoon Press.
SEM1229782 – How to Cook Like a Dwarf
How do you write a cookbook for a culture that never existed but everyone knows? The authors of The Dwarven Cookbook talk about the origins of the recipes in their cookbooks.
08/18/2012, 3:00 PM, Crowne Plaza : Victoria Stn A/B
SEM1229783 – Build Your Own Language
This workshop will guide you in creating your own language. With minimal materials and two hours of time, you will have the core a language suitable for adding color to a game or novel background.
08/17/2012, 8:00 PM, ICC : Rm 243
This last one is the most challenging for me to prepare. I want the participants to walk away with something usable and unique, but I don’t want to delve too deeply into linguistics (after all, this isn’t a college course). What’s more, it’s a free seminar (as are the others) so any handouts I provide will be paid for out of my own pocket. We’ll see how many sign up during early registration.
On the whole, I expect this year to be a lot of fun.