Thursday, January 31, 2013

Something missing in my Journey to the Centre of the Earth

Was I crazy to think Journey to the Centre of the Earth would have dinosaurs? My wife read it a few months ago, and I asked her while I was nearing the end of the book ... Hey? I don't think there are going to be dinosaurs in this.

She answered, uncertainly, "No, I think they're in there.... It was so long ago, but I think they were?"

I just knocked Jules Verne's Journey to the Centre of the Earth, off my reading list and .... it was fine, but I think there's a major revision in the first sentence that needs to be made.
On the 24th of May, 1863, a Sunday, my uncle, Professor Lindenbrock, came rushing back to his little house, No. 19 in the Konigstrasse, one of the oldest streets in the oldest part of the city of Hamburg.              - Verne
How it should begin.
There are no dinosaurs in this book. On the 24th of May, 1863, a Sunday, my uncle, Professor Lindenbrock, came rushing back to his little house, No. 19 in the Konigstrasse, one of the oldest streets in the oldest part of the city of Hamburg.
Notice the important difference? I had no idea that there weren't going to be dinosaurs. Was it unreasonable to think there would be? In 2008's adaptation in 3D, dinosaurs were fairly prominent in the marketing of the film.

This Tyrannosaurus is easily 1,000 ft. long, and 20 times larger than necessary.
In fact, in almost every adaptation of the text into film/television has featured dinosaurs. Heck, even Wikipedia has the novel (that has no dinosaurs in it) categorized under "Novels about dinosaurs". NOT the films, the television shows, etc, but the science fiction novel itself.

But, the 3D flick from a few years ago can't simply be the only reason this misunderstanding is so prominent, is it?

In the 1959 film of the same name, had a Dimetrodon and a "giant chameleon" in it, the classic types, which were just lizards with horns glued onto them.Those weren't in the book, but begin to illustrate when "dinosaurs" began to seep their way into the retelling of this story.

In a 1967 animated version of the text adapted for television has a griffon, a three-headed helldog, and an army of Roman soldiers, though I can't find much about dinosaurs in it. I think there was an episode called "Fossils Revenge" or something, which probably had dinosaurs in it?

A 1978 version of the film had dinosaurs in it.

By 1999, this tv series is using dinosaurs as a dominant selling feature:

Here is a "Wal*Mart" version of the classic appears to have a dinosaur right on the cover of the book:
There were plesiosaurs in the book, this COULD just
be a beached plesiosaur attacking Lindenbrock?
Here's some cartoon featuring Lindenbrock running from a tyrannosaurus as well.

In any case, if dinosaurs had been as prominent in the 1860s as they are now (they'd only first been discovered in the 1820s or something like that) I'm sure Verne woulda loaded up his prehistoric realm with the animals, but ... he just didn't.

So, beware, it's a neat book with a fun journey, but ... no dinosaurs.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Tomb of the Undead | Suffered for the Faith 2

I've just finished the latest scene for Tomb of the Undead. Check it out!

Dr. Escutcheon elaborates on a new painful chapter of Lazarus's journey in Suffered for the Faith 2.
I hope you like it. Thanks.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

7 Steps to Smuggling Dinosaurs

Ever wanted to smuggle a dinosaur from wherever they're found to where you are, and then make a whopping profit by selling them at auction? Follow these simple steps!

Step One:
Connect with Widescale Transcontinental Black Market in Dinosaur Fossils Originating from Mongolia

Step Two:
Ask for the Shipping Labels to be Deliberately Vague and Misleading to Avoid Bringing Attention to the Shipments

Step Three:
Illegally Import Multiple Containers of Dinosaurs from Vast Central Asian Countries via the UK

Step Four:
Spend a Year Restoring the Fossils, Mount What was Once a Loose Collection of Bones to Recreate a Skeleton

Step Five:
Find an Auction House to Sell the Fossils at a Major Profit

Step Six:
Use Flair and Panache to Describe the Newly Mounted Fossils

Very subtle. "Superb" and "wonderful" really keep this fossil on the down low.

Step Seven:
The Tricky Part – list the fossils with as much flair and intrigue as you can, yet beware because you never know if the Mongolian President is scanning Texas auction house listings, and if he is, he’s likely to get rightly pissed if he spots his fossils on the market.

This is where Eric Prokopi, 38, from Gainesville, FL starts to feel some serious pressure. He followed steps 1 through 7 fairly well, but blew it in the end.

He described the Tarbosaurus remains he was auctioning off as:
“The quality of the preservation is superb, with wonderful bone texture and delightfully mottled grayish bone color. In striking contrast are those deadly teeth, long and frightfully robust, in a warm woody brown color, the fearsome, bristling mouth and monstrous jaws leaving one in no doubt as to how the creature came to rule its food chain.”
Very discreet.

Well, that caught the eye of Mongolian officials, who got on the phone to get their bones back. Advisor to Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj, Oyungerel Tsedevdamba said, “the dinosaur has the color of the Gobi sand,” adding “such color is very particular and familiar to us and belongs to this country.”

Mongolians get a bad rep. They just don't want grave robbers stealing all their national artifacts.
Since 1924, Mongolia has banned the export of fossils, which it considers to be national property, and Prokopi shouldn't have had Mongolian state property.

The auction was halted in May 2012, transforming “just a guy from Gainesville, Florida trying to support (his) family” into an international bone smuggler, by reputation, anyhow.

He’s facing up to 17 years in prison, a $250,000 fine due to charges of conspiring to smuggle illegal goods, transporting goods taken by fraud, and using false statements to import goods.

US Customs officials, lawyers, a Texas judge, federal prosecutors and the Mongolian president, are now all gunning for Prokopi, who’s become regarded as the Jason Borne of commercial paleontology.

The legendary Scotland Yard has become involved, too, as its art and antiques unit is answering questions of the US Department of Justice to crack down on widescale transcontinental black market in dinosaur fossils originating from Mongolia.

His cache of goods is pretty wicked, though.

The figurehead of this investigation is a 70-million-year-old Mongolian monster - a “nearly complete” Tarbosaurus baatar – which remains at large in an unspecified British location, cutely named “Ty,” according to some reports.
Bad ass!

The Tarbosaurus was a bad-ass Tyrannosaur from a specific location in the Gobi Desert known as the Nemegt Basin. It was 12 metres long with 64 teeth living in the late cretaceous, about 70 million years ago.

The Tarbosaurus is one of six sets of dinosaur fossils Prokopi has forfeited back to Mongolia.

He had a Chinese flying dinosaur (no name given), two oviraptors and a Saurolophus. One of the Saurolophus skeletons (now seized) was sold at auction for $75,000!

Now nowhere is safe from this investigation.

That’s right, they’re chasing down all the fossils involved, including a skull seized by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations who, I’m sure with a special ops team and helicopters, repelled into a Cheyenne, Wyoming home to confiscate more black-market bones.

Pretty bad ass!

Voice of Russia, the Daily News, BBC,0,4159988.story

Monday, January 21, 2013

King St. Capers | photogenic

The parade of bad haircuts has given him an idea!
Looks like Beard-o is looking to make an investment.
I've got good news - I'll have new Capers up each Monday for the foreseeable future, which is great! Stay tuned and keep coming back.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

65 million and 12 years in the making

Jurassic Park IV was announced by Universal Studios when they publicized the release date of June 13, 2014 – which incidentally marks the 21st anniversary of the first time I ever watched Jurassic Park (which is being re-released in 3D this April).

Cryolophosaurus chasin' down Malcolm would make an interesting scene - I think "smaller" carnivores can be scarier, they're more agile, they can squeeze into the same spaces as a man, and might actually leave someone fending them off with hand-to-hand combat, which would be absolutely terrifying!

While the first film was “65 million years in the making,” in today’s age of immediacy, waiting 12 years for confirmation that this will in fact be released is like waiting an eon. Spielberg announced plans to film the project back in 2002, yet it’ll be mid-2014 before we can all watch dinosaurs kick ass some more.

My hope for another sequel was squelched when I heard reports from Kathleen Kennedy (one of the executive producers) that when Michael Chricton passed away in 2008, that perhaps his passing marked the terminus of the franchise’s momentum – but … uh, nature found a way.

So what can we expect? 
Kids – there will no doubt be some genius kids in the film, a staple Spielberg ingredient whenever he’s creating a fun adventure story. They usually make the picture a bit more family friendly than if it were just a bunch of mercenaries blasting dinosaurs away.

More feathers and cool new animals. Austroraptors were weird and wonderful, and might be a better fit - they're naturally as large as a man, rather than the suped-up Velociraptors that were designed for the film.

I can’t imagine we’ll see dinosaurs getting murdered by people, either. Whether dinosaurs are stomping, stampeding, licking, chasing, or attacking people all over the damned island, in the kitchen or throughout San Diego, it still seems the only weapons anyone’s able to hit a dinosaur with is the tranquilizer dart.

I'm certain the tyrannosaurus and velociraptors will return as big villains, but there is so much more that can be achieved. With12 more years of technology and special effects at the hands of the producers, the visuals and animals should be thrilling.

Perhaps triceratops can get a bit more time in the starlight? The sauropods haven’t done anything except step out of a pond to eat and sneeze (though some dude drove a stunt bike between one's legs while it was walking around!). There are so many strange, wonderful animals to consider adding that it really makes the imagination swirl.

Who should come back and be in this film? 
Laura Dern needs to get into her short shorts and get back on the island. She can join Vince Vaughn, Julianne Moore and hopefully Sam Neil and Jeff Goldbloom. Perhaps Lex and Tim can come back?

We need to introduce some weird and wacky animals to the the fauna, too - the Ouranosaurus might be the Mesozoic's version of a platypus, part Spinosaur, part Hadrosaur and part Iguanadon.

As far as I know, none of the surviving characters from the franchise have died in real life, which is good – though Michael Jeter (who played the mercenary Udesky in JP3) passed away in 2003. But the raptors assassinated him after using him as bait in one of their traps (similar to a ploy used in Full Metal Jacket), so his character wasn't really available anyhow.

For the record: no more of the Kirby’s. Great actors, worthless characters. The whole bunch of them can stay home and file for chapter 11 together in their paint and tile business. 

Spielberg decided this would be a priority 
For whatever reasons, it just seemed like this was Jurassic Park's time to return. Spielberg was apparently working on a Robopocalypse film that's been postponed, and he had a choice between producing a major epic film about Moses, or Jurassic Park 4.

I don't know what Spielberg was thinking, but somehow this action-adventure/ film was a better idea than honouring his religious heritage. And that's fine with me!

I would be in absolute love with Jurassic Park putting a therizinosaurus in action.

And with my tongue planted firmly in my cheek, I wonder if perhaps Spielberg feels he owes something to the dinosaurs, after half-assing his work on Jurassic Park 2, to work on Schindler's List?

Apparently, I've read, Spielberg has confessed that The Lost World didn't have his complete attention while wrapping it up - as he was basically moonlighting the film's final steps while working on Schindler's List.

In any case,  I must trust that after this announcement, the movie is definitely going to be delivered. There's no more time left for teasing or delaying, or postponing it any longer. June 13, 2014 - do it!

What do you want to see in the new film?

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Silent Pirate Fan Art

I had a blast catching up with a quiet little webcomic called Silent Pirate, and was inspired in the last panel to create some fan art - and this would be the first time I'd ever have a chance to actually share the work with the creator, which is cool. (All my Jurassic Park stuff never had a chance to go to Stan Winston, though his website and school of character arts might mean it's possible to meet him?)

Without further ado, Dr. Ignacio as MacGyver:

How's it stand up to the original from the opening sequence?

I've also got a snippit to include from my "sketchbook" of material.

Nothing fancy, but here's a dinosaur on a globe I drew while at work a few months ago, while humouring the boss's son. Luckily we were both more interested in doodling than whatever else we were supposed to be doing. We therefore had a competition to draw a globe the best, and I drew a dinosaur on mine as well, claiming the title as the undisputed champion of the exercise.

See for yourself!

Monday, January 14, 2013

2012 Reading List

Here's the reading list from 2012 - another neat example of identifying other life memories that go along with reading the novels. It's very interesting to remember where you were and what was important to you while you were reading the books.

For more references, here's 2010's list and 2011's list.

Gremlins 2: The New Batch, by David Bischoff

grabbed this one from the cottage, found a few little differences from the movie. it was fun!

Y: The Last Man, by Brian K. Vaughan

The Manticore, by Robertson Davies
i remember Sullivan was born while i was reading this one, and read much of it out loud to him in the New Life Centre. Level of awkwardness while reading to a newborn: moderate.

Life of Pi, Yann Martel 

cool book, and a fantastic adaption for the screen. we just watched the movie in early January.

Haunted, Chuck Palahnuik
a busy, complicated and jam-packed novel with a tonne of material. Level of awkwardness while reading to a newborn: very high. BUT this book did help me identify my new preferred "porn name," lol.

The Shipping News, Annie Proulx

wonderful book that genuinely captures the maritime feel of the Canadian east coast. Level of awkwardness while reading to a newborn: moderate.

Congo, Michael Crichton

was at the cottage, reading in the sun on the porch. good times.

The Twitter Book, Tim O’Reilly and Sarah Milstein 

reading on the porch at the cottage, too, but not nearly as much fun as reading Michael Crichton.

As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner 

started this at the cottage, had to resume it in the backyard at home - still remember sitting out in the sun. great exploration in Faulkner's use of the southern dialect.

X Files: Goblins, Charles Grant 

a fun return to some old characters that were childhood favourites. Found this book at the cottage, but it took a while to get to it.

rereading this one, i realized that a lot of this book as stuck with me since grade 9. Like, a remarkable amount of this book sticks with me today, and i didn't realize it until i read it again.

Middle Passage, Charles Johnson 

remarkably funny, poignant, philosophical and colourful book. a reread from when i had to read it in school, but nonetheless a great, great book.

Ultimate Dinosaurs: Giants from Gondwana, David C. Evans & Matthew J. Vavrek

dinosaurs are awesome! my sister bought me this corresponding book to go with the ROM's exhibit, and it's just as jammed with information as the exhibit is!

i recommend reading at bed time when you're most unguarded. you'll tear up with laughter.

World of Wonders, Robertson Davies  

finally finished the trilogy! good times. Davies' narrative and story-telling technique is wise and enthralling.