Category Archives: Technology

Ready Player One — First Trailer

Ok, now about that other key trailer from Comic-Con: The trailer for Ready Player One.

Ernest Cline’s science-fiction novel, Ready Player One was the fanboy must-read book of 2011. It’s set in the unhappy and decaying United States of 2044, when a decades-long recession, a trashed environment, and the general collapse of civil society have driven many people to spend much of their time hooked into a virtual reality universe called the OASIS. When there’s a two-year waiting list for jobs at Burger King, escapism is a logical choice.

As our hero and narrator, Wade Watts, known in the OASIS as “Parzival,” points out:

“Now that I was eighteen, I could vote, in both the OASIS elections and the elections for U.S. government officials. I didn’t bother with the latter, because I didn’t see the point. The once-great country into which I’d been born now resembled its former self in name only. It didn’t matter who was in charge. Those people were rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic and everyone knew it. Besides, now that everyone could vote from home, via the OASIS, the only people who could get elected were movie stars, reality TV personalities, or radical televangelists.”

[Keep repeating, “It’s only a movie. It’s only a movie. It’s only a movie.”]

Anyhow, the now-dead creator of the OASIS was a man named James Halliday who, not unlike many of the readers of this book, was a 1980s obsessive. You know, the kind of person who goes nuts over spotting the 80s allusions in Stranger Things….

OASIS made Halliday very, very rich. When his will was read, it revealed that he’d hidden three “keys” in OASIS, and that the first person to find them, and solve the puzzles linked to them, would be the sole inheritor of OASIS and of Halliday’s massive fortune. All that would be required to solve the puzzles was an encyclopedic knowledge of the movies, music, video games, and TV shows of the 1980s.

Enter Parzival.

I liked the book, but didn’t love it. It’s a fast, easy, enjoyable read, full of Easter eggs for those of us who have, well, “an encyclopedic knowledge of the movies, music, video games, and TV shows of the 1980s,” but it was definitely light reading, without much depth or meaning. It’s a book that’s the perfect source for a big spring/summer movie.

Steven Spielberg (who else?) is directing. The film is scheduled to be released on 30 March 2018.

More Images from the Bosch, Brueghel, and Arcimboldo Experience

I’ve found more images from this year’s Carrières de Lumières program, which features the works of Bosch, Brueghel, and Arcimboldo.

Even these still photographs are awesome. Seeing them in motion, with a soundtrack that ranges from Carl Orff to Vivaldi to Led Zeppelin, must be amazing. There’s a brief video at the above link that will give you a hint of what visitors to the site will experience.

(All photos found on the Net.)

“The Fantastic and Wonderful World of Bosch, Brueghel, and Arcimboldo” is open now, and will run through 7 January 2018.

“The Fantastic and Wonderful World of Bosch, Brueghel, and Arcimboldo”

This year’s Carrières de Lumières program looks like a stunner. It’s called “The Fantastic and Wonderful World of Bosch, Brueghel, and Arcimboldo”, and it runs from 4 March 2017 to 7 January 2018.

Here’s a peek:

Carrières de Lumières is an immersive art and music installation which is staged in what used to be a quarry, in the French village Les Baux de Provence. The massive rock walls of the quarry form the backdrop for a son et lumière program that changes each year.

I’ve posted items about the 2014 Klimt and Vienna and the 2015 Chagall: Midsummer Night’s Dreams programs, and about how much I’d like to work for Culturespaces, the European company that designs and manages events like this for 13 monuments and museums, most of them in France. The only things that are standing in my way are my total lack of artistic talent and my residence on the wrong continent.

Complementing the son et lumière this summer are four monumental sculptures by Philip Haas, which will be on display in the Château des Baux-de-Provence from 23 May through 30 September. The sculptures of the giant heads are inspired by Giuseppe Arcimboldo’s “The Four Seasons” paintings.

“Oh, to be in Provence, Now that Summer’s there”
—Close, but not quite by Robert Browning

Proof: Time Travel Exists! And the Wrong People Are Using It.

A few weeks ago, I posted an item about Il Paradiso, the huge painting that hangs in the Chamber of the Great Council in Venice. That’s it in the picture above, which, btw, you should definitely enbiggen, because it’s a stunning work of art. It was painted by Tintoretto and the members of his workshop, and I’ve been entranced by it for more than a decade. It was the one great cultural achievement that I had to see in Venice.

But now it’s all been tainted. I noticed something for the first time, and I’ll never be able to un-see it.

Look at the picture again. Look at the center of the painting. Do you see it now?


There, directly behind Jesus, some time-travelling tourist with a selfie stick is ruining the Ascension of the Just into Heaven because he wants a souvenir photo of himself at the great event.


That’s it.

And I’m left with the sad knowledge that I’m doomed to spend the rest of my life missing the grandeur of great art, because I’ll be too distracted by looking for depictions of IPads in the paintings of Rubens, and images of smartphones in the works of Burne-Jones.

Star Wars Meet(s) the Beatles

The iconic 60s rock album meets the iconic 70s movie, in the mash-up you never knew you needed.

The album, titled Princess Leia’s Stolen Death Star Plans, comes from Palette-Swap Ninja, which is a collaboration between keyboard player and digital drummer Jude Kelley and singer/guitarist Dan Amrich. They describe it as a “geek-culture parody project”.

They’re releasing it just in time to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the release of Star Wars, on 25 May 2017, and the 50th anniversary of the release of the Beatles’ album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, on 1 June 2017.

Download the full album, free at Palette-Swap Ninja.

Very Early Early Man Teaser Trailer

This one’s a long way off—it won’t be released until 2018.

But Early Man is from Aardman, the people responsible for Chicken Run and the adventures of Wallace and Gromit, and the voice actors include Eddie Redmayne, Tom Hiddleston, Maisie Williams, and Richard Ayoade, so here it is.

It’s good to have something with grace and charm to look forward to during the current unpleasantness.

Planet Earth II — Extended Trailer

Planet Earth II, the sequel to Planet Earth, Sir David Attenborough’s 2006 BBC nature documentary series, is finally making it to the US. The series ran last fall in the UK, where it was a huge popular and critical success. The Independent called it “undoubtedly the greatest TV nature documentary to date”, and The Guardian named it “The Best TV Series of the Year”.

The photography in Planet Earth II nothing short of amazing.

Each of the six episodes focuses on a different environment. Last November, I posted an item about a scene from “Islands”, the first episode, that showed a baby iguana attempting to escape from….

Well. just watch it, preferably full screen. It’s the most exciting thing you’ll see all day.

The first episode was scheduled to run in the States last month, but it’s been moved to Saturday, 18 February 2017. It will be simulcast across BBC America, AMC, and that sad little remnant of the once-great Sundance channel, which will interrupt its non-stop Law and Order SUX marathon for the show. That’s how good it is.