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Thursday, January 31, 2008

50 YEARS AGO TODAY, the United States launched its very first satellite, Explorer 1, into Earth orbit. It was in response to the Soviet Union launching its Sputnik 1 satellite three months earlier, thus touching off the Space Race. Just thought I’d give you a bit of history as we are now living in the fifth decade of the Space Age. Awesome.

A model of Explorer 1, held by NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory Director William Pickering, scientist James Van Allen and rocket pioneer Wernher von Braun in 1958.
NASA JPL

Below is an image of the planet Mercury taken by NASA’S MESSENGER spacecraft, which this month became the first spacecraft in more than 30 years to visit our solar system’s innermost planet. The first spacecraft to do so was Mariner 10, when it flew past Mercury three times in 1974 and ’75. Like Mariner 10, MESSENGER will fly past Mercury two more times before it finally settles into orbit around that world on March 18, 2011. The second flyby will take place on October 6 of this year, and the third and final rendezvous before orbit insertion will be September 29 of next year. That’s all.

An image of Mercury taken by NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft, which flew past the innermost planet on January 14 of this year.
NASA / JHUAPL / CIW / The Planetary Society / Eric Landrenau

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

A Terminator advances upon its prey in the pilot episode of TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES.

TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES... Last night, FOX re-aired the series premiere of the show (a new episode couldn't be shown since George Dubya gave the annual Presidential Blow-Smoke-Up-The-People’s-Ass speech—a.k.a. the State of the Union address—yesterday), and I have one observation to make after re-watching the episode: Wouldn’t John Connor be a little more grossed out that he saw his mom completely nude after they jumped through that time portal to 2007? Or was the cringe factor for him reduced by the fact he also got to see Cameron naked as well (even though she's a cyborg)?

Not a production still from THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES, but Summer Glau sure is gorgeous.

The plotline about Cromartie is getting pretty interesting. I think it’s a nice touch that last week's episode ("The Turk") showed how the Terminators get encased in their human disguises. None of the three current Terminator films [yes, there will be a fourth installment, Terminator Salvation: The Future Begins (aimed for a 2009 release)...with Batman's Christian Bale rumored to portray John Connor in his adult, rebel leader years] even bothered to offer any noteworthy explanation about how robots could get placed inside real human flesh. But the question remains: Will Cromartie re-appear like his old self (played by David Kilde), or will he take on a new look? We’ll see.

Cromartie, before and after he is sent through time by the portal activated by the Cameron Terminator.

Monday, January 28, 2008

The crew of mission STS-51L.

22 YEARS AGO TODAY... This week marks the anniversaries of three of the lowest points in our nation's manned space program. Rest in peace to the Challenger crew...as well as the Columbia and Apollo 1 astronauts. This Friday marks the 5-year anniversary since the second space shuttle disaster took place. When the shuttle Atlantis launches again on February 7 (hopefully), let's hope it begins a safe and successful round of missions (six in all) to the Hubble Space Telescope and International Space Station this year, so space station assembly can be finished by 2010. After that, we can now focus on heading back to the Moon, and eventually onto Mars...

The crew of mission STS-107.

The crew of Apollo 1.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

My autographed 8x10 photo by Cindy Crawford.

EARLIER TODAY, I went to Rancho Cucamonga to meet and get an autograph by supermodel Cindy Crawford. She is totally hot in person. And the signing (at least to the point in line I was standing at) went smooth. Unlike the countless of Lakers signings I went to over the years, as well as the autograph sessions held at L.A.’s Shrine Auditorium about two weeks ago, the folks at, um, Wickes Furniture (where Crawford appeared so she could promote her new line of furniture. No— I didn’t buy any, haha), were clever enough to hand out Post-It notes to everyone in line to jot down what they wanted Mrs. Crawford (I don’t think she goes by Gerber, the last name of her husband, Rande) to write on their autographs before they went up to her table. It helped expedite the process; making the line move quicker, obviously. Also, there were show organizers on-hand to take photos for us as we sat right next to Cindy while she signed the autograph. If you showed up alone to this event—no problem—one of the Wickes folks took a picture for you with your own camera (duh). Yea, it was awesome. Below are the photos:

Photos of me and Cindy Crawford.

Here are some ‘nature’ shots that I took before the signing as well. Rancho Cucamonga is in San Bernardino County, California. Right next to Mt. Baldy. Ignore the fact the photos I took of some mountain peak are larger than the pics I took of one of America’s hottest supermodels, ever. Anyways... *Waits for the day I get to see the Himalayas—or at least the Rockies—in person, haha.*

Pictures I took of Mt. Baldy in California.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

SpaceShipTwo unveiled... Do you think traveling 60 miles into space will one day cost as much as doing a tandem skydive (usually around $300), or at least a HALO tandem dive (around $3,000)? $200,000—the current asking price by Virgin Galactic, which owns SpaceShipTwo—is a bit out of my price range...for now.


Artist concepts showing SpaceShipTwo and White Knight II in action.

SpaceShipTwo and White Knight II undergoing construction at the Scaled Composites facility:

SpaceShipTwo and White Knight II undergoing construction at the Scaled Composites facility.

All images courtesy of Virgin Galactic / Scaled Composites

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Heath Ledger

HEATH LEDGER: 1979-2008... I'm completely stunned. Not to sound tactless or anything, but if this is anything like Brandon Lee's death increasing interest in The Crow in 1994, then you can expect some major publicity for The Dark Knight when it gets released in July.

RIP, Heath. Your portrayal of The Joker looks badass.

Heath Ledger as The Joker in THE DARK KNIGHT.
Daniel Day-Lewis in THERE WILL BE BLOOD.

80th ANNUAL ACADEMY AWARD NOMINATIONS... As expected, There Will Be Blood, No Country for Old Men and the so-called "Titanic for this generation" (minus James Cameron, Kate Winslet's knockers, the $600 million domestic box office gross and eye-popping visual effects), Atonement, got Best Picture nominations. However, Ridley Scott's American Gangster was surprisingly snubbed from the major categories...except for Best Supporting Actress (Ruby Dee) and a technical nom for Art Direction. Oh well.

Bumblebee in the city.

Also as expected (woohoo), Transformers got nominated not only for Best Visual Effects, but for Sound Editing and Sound Mixing as well. Winning all three will probably be a longshot, but Visual FX should be a lock. Never saw The Golden Compass, but I’m pretty sure the effects aren’t anything that we haven’t already seen in other fantasy flicks like The Chronicles of Narnia or Harry Potter. The effects work in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End was awesome, but again, it’s nothing that we haven’t already seen in the first two POTC films.

Bonecrusher obliterates a bus on a freeway as he pursues the Autobots in TRANSFORMERS.

It would’ve also been cool if Steve Jablonsky got a Best Original Score nod for his music in Transformers. It’s gonna be a while till I stop listening to it on my car’s CD player while driving. You heard me. I listen to orchestral music instead of rap or punk rock while cruisin’ down the 60 Freeway. But that's only if I don't have passengers in my car.


Optimus Prime in TRANSFORMERS.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The New York Giants' Lawrence Tyne celebrates after kicking the winning field goal that allowed the Giants to win the National Football Conference championship...and pitting NY against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII (on February 3 in Glendale, Arizona).
AP / David J. Phillip

GIANTS: 23, PACKERS: 20... That’s what I call redemption. New York Giants placekicker Lawrence Tyne missed 2 consecutive field goals in the second half of tonight’s game against the Green Bay Packers...the last of which would have given New York a victory in regulation, and sparing it of having to go through overtime to meet its inevitable fate against the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII. But hey, Tyne followed through on his last field goal (a 47-yarder, which ironically was farther than the 43 and 36-yard attempts he missed in the fourth quarter)—which allowed him to breathe a sign of relief, and avoid getting himself tied to a field goal post in Green Bay’s minus-4 degree weather if New York lost. Just kidding. But God, I’d hate to live in the Northeast...unless it was the Big Apple. *Resists the urge to mention the Cloverfield monster here as a lame joke.* Back on topic, we’ll see if Eli Manning becomes the second Manning in two years to win the NFL championship. Probably not likely against Tom Brady, Randy Moss and Company... Not to state the obvious or anything.

By the way, I'm well aware that there were so many run-on sentences in the paragraph above. Oh well.

The logo for Super Bowl XLII.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Statue of Liberty lies headless in the cold New York night.

CLOVERFIELD... I saw the film tonight, and thought it was pretty good. However, many in the audience two of my friends and I watched it with made negative comments right after the ending (cause it was abrupt), but those people are ignoramuses. C’mon now— You must have a far more severe mental issue than ADD to not realize that the flick was treated as a ‘documentary’ from the very start... What makes you think it wasn’t gonna have that documentary feel at the end as well? What, did these folks expect some dramatic music (courtesy of Steve Jablonsky or John Williams) to accompany the final scenes in Cloverfield? Or the camera conveniently capturing footage on its own of the military folks who found the device inside the rubble (not to spoil the ending for y’all who haven’t seen the movie yet)? Wouldn’t that have been nice...

A crowd gathers around the severed head of the Statue of Liberty...after it was flung onto the Manhattan street by the monster.

No, the movie was treated as if it was actually raw footage that was pieced together so government officials could view it and find out what happened (for those folks reading this who have ADD). Trust me— A movie that has more of a "WTF??" ending to it is something like 28 Weeks Later...or Rob Zombie’s recent take on Halloween. Basically, the more standard horror fare. I’m definitely gonna buy Cloverfield once it gets released on DVD.

Rob, Marlena and Lily stare up at the unseen monster wreaking havoc on New York City.

What actually peeves me more than the local audience's reaction to J.J. Abrams' thriller is the fact Hollywood is making too many movies like Bring It On. You have Bring It On’s straight-to-DVD sequels, Stomp the Yard, Honey (but that one has Jessica Alba in it, so all is forgiven), Rize, You Got Served, the upcoming How She Move, and Step It Up’s sequel, Step Up 2 The Streets...whose preview was shown in front of Cloverfield (I had to do research online to find all the recent dance flicks, FYI). Um, just how many of these films do we need to see of a bunch of (insert any derogatory name for urban kids here) krumping and doing all that crap? Of course, that's Tinseltown. Gladiator was a hit in 2000, so, gotta make more sword-and-sandal epics that can also become huge successes...like Lord of the Rings, or major flops like Uwe Boll's recent In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale. Saw was a huge hit too, so, gotta make more torture porn like Hostel...and more additional Saw sequels (Saw 5 comes out this October...Good God). But I’m just going off on a rant here.

Rob and Beth videotape their last moment together before the military obliterates New York City in an attempt to kill the monster.

Basically, Cloverfield was good. And for those of you who read my last Blog on the film, the monster looked NOTHING like the image I posted. It looked more like something from the XBox video game Gears of War (which I also wrote a Blog on) or the creatures in The Mist (film review here) than it did a giant whale. And the pic below? Nope— Not a Monster Louse. But a really gruesome ending for one of the movie’s main human characters. Not to spoil the flick for ya. That is all.

A silhouette of Marlena as she gets ready to explode after getting bit by a Monster Louse inside a subway tunnel.

UPDATE (January 21): A screenshot of the monster...

A screenshot of the monster...

All images courtesy of Paramount Pictures / Bad Robot Productions

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) search for the truth in THE X-FILES 2.
Twentieth Century Fox

THE X-FILES 2... ComingSoon.net has posted up four new images from the upcoming film, which gets released in theaters on July 25. Unlike the first X-Files motion picture (which came out in 1998), this installment will not delve into the aliens-among-us "mythology" that formed the backbone of the hit FOX TV series (which aired from 1993 to 2002) and the ’98 movie. The sequel will be a stand-alone film that deals with the supernatural. The actual storyline is closely being kept under wraps by X-Files creator and director Chris Carter.

The X-Files 2 reunites David Duchovny as FBI agent/conspiracy theorist Fox Mulder and Gillian Anderson as FBI agent/skeptic Dana Scully. Also in this movie will be Amanda Peet and, um, rapper Xzibit. Wow.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

AS STATED in this previous entry, I was able to meet and take photos with actresses Leelee Sobieski and Kristanna Loken at the Los Angeles Shrine Auditorium on Sunday. For more pics that I took of them, go here. To view the 8x10’s that they signed, check out my Autographs section. Later.

Posing with actresses Leelee Sobieski and Kristanna Loken.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES Poster.
Twentieth Century Fox

TONIGHT is the series premiere of FOX's new TV show, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (at 8:00 PM... It airs at its regular 9 PM slot, right after Prison Break, tomorrow night). Can't wait. 9 episodes have been completed prior to the WGA strike, though there should've been the standard 13 for this season. Oh well. Below are a couple of photos I took today at a, um, comic book convention held at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. As you can see, Summer Glau (Cameron Phillips/the good Terminator), Thomas Dekker (John Connor), Richard T. Jones (FBI agent James Ellison) and executive producer James Middleton were on-hand to answer the fans' questions.

I also took photos of Kristanna Loken (Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines) and Leelee Sobieski (Joan of Arc and the 1998 film Deep Impact), who were at the convention to promote the newly-released (and soon-to-be-pulled-from-theaters if you saw its opening weekend box office results) In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale. Sorry Kristanna and Leelee... You ladies sure are hot, though. I'll post the pics I took with-and-of them in a later Blog.

UPDATE (January 14): The Sarah Connor Chronicles whupped the Golden Globes and every other TV show's ass in the ratings last night. Click here for more details.

Summer Glau and  Co. at the Shrine Auditorum in Los Angeles.
Summer Glau signing and playing with TERMINATOR memorabilia.

My autographed 8x10 photo by Ms. Glau:

My autographed 8x10 photo by Summer Glau.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

CLOVERFIELD Poster.

The CLOVERFIELD Monster? The image below has been all over the Web since last September, but whatever. Someone made this cool artwork depicting what he thinks the creature in J.J. Abrams’ upcoming film will look like. Don’t know how close this sketch looks to the real (so-to-speak) thing, but the "Monster Louse" looks pretty similar to what we see in one of the Cloverfield TV spots. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, there’s a scene in the commercial where a group of people hiding inside an Army tent see the silhouette of a creature attacking someone outside. The shape of that creature, from what I recall, definitely looks like the artwork below. Anyways, can’t wait for the film to come out in theaters on January 18.

...

I hope this film doesn’t let me down like Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin’s take on Godzilla did in 1998. *Crosses fingers*


Concept art depicting the CLOVERFIELD creature and its tick-like 'Monster Louse'.
Courtesy of HorrorMovies.ca

UPDATE: A screencapture of the scene mentioned above:

TV commercial screencapture showing a Monster Louse attacking a human.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

The February 2008 cover of VANITY FAIR magazine.
Annie Leibovitz

INDIANA JONES IV... The February 2008 issue of Vanity Fair focuses on this May’s release of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Below are photos from the magazine:

Harrison Ford chatting with executive producer George Lucas and director Steven Spielberg on the Indy film set in Los Angeles.
Annie Leibovitz

Harrison Ford chatting with executive producer George Lucas and director Steven Spielberg on the Indy film set in Los Angeles.

Shia LaBeouf and Karen Allen (reprising her role as Marion Ravenwood...last seen in 1981's Raiders of the Lost Ark) on set in Downey, California.
Annie Leibovitz

Shia LaBeouf and Karen Allen (reprising her role as Marion Ravenwood...last seen in 1981’s Raiders of the Lost Ark) on set in Downey, California.

Cate Blanchett as Russian spy, Agent Spalko.  Kingdom of the Crystal Skull takes place in 1957—in the midst of the Cold War—as Soviet agents pursue Indy as he goes about looking for the mysterious crystal skulls.
Annie Leibovitz

Cate Blanchett as Russian spy, Agent Spalko. Kingdom of the Crystal Skull takes place in 1957—in the midst of the Cold War—as Soviet agents pursue Indy as he goes about looking for the mysterious crystal skulls.

And of course, here’s the poster that is currently displayed at movie theaters everywhere. It is created by artist Drew Struzan, who did the posters for the first three Indiana Jones films and all 6 movies in the Star Wars saga.

The theatrical movie poster for INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL.
Paramount Pictures / Lucasfilm Ltd. / Drew Struzan

Thursday, January 03, 2008

An artist's concept depicting the SPIRIT Mars Exploration Rover.
NASA JPL

FOUR YEARS AGO TODAY, the first of the two Mars rovers, Spirit, successfully touched down on the Red Planet's surface. It, along with its twin sister Opportunity, are still up and running after lasting beyond their then-projected 90-day life spans. Cool.

An overhead image that SPIRIT took of itself.  Today, its solar panels are almost completely covered by martian dust.
NASA JPL

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Shia LaBeouf, Steven Spielberg, Ray Winstone, Karen Allen and Harrison Ford pose on the set of this May's INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL.

HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYONE!!! Time for that annual journal entry where I bring up dates to events that pretty much only interest me. And maybe some of you guys, haha. Keep in mind that a lot of the events mentioned below may not take place on the dates I listed. For example, the release dates for movies mentioned may move up or be pushed back unexpectedly. That, and this year’s batch of space shuttle missions may be delayed...which will most likely be the case since Atlantis will not launch on January 9 as listed at the top of this page, because of crappy issues pertaining to its external fuel tank. Anyways, that’s all. Go Trojans! Defeat the Fighting Illini today...

The logo for the 2008 BCS National Championship Game in New Orleans, Louisiana.

January 2008
-Rose Bowl: USC vs. Illinois (Jan 1)
-BCS National Championship Game in New Orleans, Louisiana: Ohio State vs. LSU (Jan 7)
-65th Annual Golden Globe Awards (Jan 13)
-Series premiere of FOX show Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (Jan 13, 14)
-FOX show Prison Break returns after a 2-month hiatus (Jan 14)
-Season 7 premiere of American Idol (Jan 15, 16)
-Cloverfield (Jan 18)
-Rambo (Jan 25)
-Asteroid 2007 WD5 predicted to collide with the planet Mars (Jan 30)

The logo for Super Bowl XLII in Glendale, Arizona.

February 2008
-Super Bowl XLII in Arizona (Feb 3)
-50th Annual Grammy Awards (Feb 10)
-Jumper (Feb 14)
-Mission STS-123... Space Shuttle Endeavour (Targeted for Feb 14)
-2008 NBA All-Star Game in New Orleans, Louisiana (Feb 17)
-50th annual Daytona 500 in Florida (Feb 17)
-Total lunar eclipse over North and South America, Europe, Africa and Western Asia (Feb 21)
-Maiden flight of Europe’s first Automated Transfer Vehicle, Jules Verne, to the International Space Station (Feb 22)
-80th Academy Awards (Feb 24)

A screenshot from the film 10,000 BC.

March 2008
-Russian presidential election (Mar 2)
-10,000 BC (Mar 7)
-2008 NCAA March Madness basketball tournament begins around the United States (Mar 20)
-Conclusion of the March Madness tournament prior to the 2008 Final Four games in Texas (Mar 30)

John Cho and Kal Penn return in HAROLD & KUMAR ESCAPE FROM GUANTANAMO BAY.

April 2008
-2008 NCAA Final Four basketball tournament in San Antonio, Texas (Apr 5)
-NCAA Final Four Championship Game in San Antonio, Texas (Apr 7)
-Mission STS-124... Space Shuttle Discovery (Targeted for Apr 14)
-Harold and Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay (Apr 25)
-NFL Draft (Apr 26, 27)

An artist's rendition depicting the Phoenix spacecraft as it lies on the Martian surface...with the Sun setting below the horizon.

May 2008
-Iron Man (May 2)
-Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (May 22)
-Start of the 2008 French Open tennis tournament (May 25)
-NASA’s Phoenix Mars lander arrives at the Red Planet (May 25)
-92nd Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (May 28)
-Forgetting Sarah Marshall (May 30)

Steve Carell and Anne Hathaway in the movie remake of GET SMART.

June 2008
-You Don’t Mess with the Zohan (Jun 6)
-Conclusion of the 2008 French Open (Jun 8)
-The Incredible Hulk (Jun 13)
-Get Smart (Jun 20)

Heath Ledger as The Joker in THE DARK KNIGHT.

July 2008
-Start of the 2008 Tour de France (Jul 5)
-Hellboy II: The Golden Army (Jul 11)
-The Dark Knight (Jul 18)
-X-Files 2 (Jul 25)
-Conclusion of the Tour De France (Jul 27)

The logo for the XXIX Olympic Summer Games in Beijing, China.

August 2008
-The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (Aug 1)
-Mission STS-125... Space Shuttle Atlantis (Targeted for Aug 7)
-Opening Ceremony – XXIX Olympic Summer Games of Beijing (Aug 8)
-The Pineapple Express (Aug 8)
-Dragonball (Aug 15)
-Closing Ceremony – Olympic Summer Games (Aug 24)

The International Space Station.

September 2008
-10th annual Reach the Beach Relay (Sep 12, 13)
-Mission STS-126... Space Shuttle Endeavour (Targeted for Sep 18)

An artist's rendition depicting NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter surveying the Moon.

October 2008
-Saw V (Oct 24)
-Start of the 2008 Rugby World Cup in Australia (Oct 25)
-Launch of NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter to the Moon (Oct 28)
-Scary Movie 5 (Oct 31)

Old Glory.

November 2008
-United States presidential election (Nov 4)
-James Bond 22 (Nov 7)
-Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Nov 21)
-Conclusion of the Rugby World Cup in Australia (Nov 22)

The logo for STAR TREK XI.

December 2008
-The Day the Earth Stood Still (Dec 12)
-Revolutionary Road (Dec 19)
-Star Trek XI (Dec 25)
-Burj Khalifa skyscraper in Dubai expected to be completed. It will be the tallest building in the world (Dec 30)