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Monday, March 30, 2009

Long Beach State.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT... Why can't Steven Spielberg donate money to CSULB's film department the same way George Lucas donated $75 million (or is that $175 million?) to USC's film school? For those of you who don't know, USC is Lucas' alma mater, and Spielberg graduated from Long Beach State in 2002 (while I graduated from there in 2004). I should know... I attended Spielberg's commencement ceremony.

Oh, and Lucas once donated money ($100,000) to CSULB's film department as well. Darn you, Spielberg.

Steven Spielberg graduates from Cal State Long Beach on May 31, 2002.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

After completing mission STS-119, space shuttle DISCOVERY lands at Kennedy Space Center in Florida on March 28, 2009.
NASA / Kim Shiflett

BACK ON EARTH... I was gonna post a lengthy entry about how the International Space Station (ISS) now resembles artists’ renderings of the outpost when it was first conceived in 1984 (as Space Station Freedom), but I don’t wanna. Instead, here’s a pic of Discovery touching down at Kennedy Space Center in Florida today...and another of the ISS in all its (81% completed) glory...

The International Space Station, as of March 28, 2009.
NASA

UPDATE (March 29): This photo is now my desktop wallpaper...

The International Space Station, with orbital sunset behind it.
NASA

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

I’M ON YOUTUBE! Just thought I’d post up this video (thanks to one of my friends who gave me a heads-up about it) that was taken at the Anaheim Hot Import Nights more than a week ago. I show up at the 4:47 mark...getting a, um, ‘dance’ by Jasmine M. Seeing as how a gripload of people in the crowd were videotaping us when this show was being put on, I wonder just how many other HIN-related clips I’m in on the Web? Woohoo— Internet fame. Haha.


Sunday, March 22, 2009

Eric Cartman as 'The Coon' in SOUTH PARK.

SOUTH PARK... Check out this preview clip to a new episode of South Park...which started its 13th season a few weeks ago. It’s pretty funny...spoofing recent comic book flicks such as The Dark Knight, Watchmen and The Spirit (though the references lean more towards The Dark Knight side, lol). The question remains: Just who IS Mysterion? (Most likely it’s Stan, haha.)

Friday, March 20, 2009

Dean and Sam Winchester confront evil in SUPERNATURAL.

SUPERNATURAL... Just thought I’d comment on how awesome this latest season (Season 4) has been so far. But first, let me do a RECAP on past seasons: In Season 1, Sam and Dean Winchester are out to look for their missing dad, as well as the Yellow-Eyed Demon who killed their mother when they were young. In Season 2, Dean vanquishes the Yellow-Eyed Demon but makes a deal with the Crossroads Demon to resurrect Sam after he is "killed" towards the end of the second season. Their dad, John Winchester, died at the beginning of Season 2 as part of a deal he made with the Yellow-Eyed Demon to spare John’s sons from further harm. In Season 3, Sam tries his best to save Dean after he made that deal with the Crossroads Demon in Season 2. The deal: Dean would only have one more year to live if he wanted Sam brought back from the dead. Unfortunately, Sam fails in saving his brother...and Dean ultimately meets his fate at the hands (or claws) of 'hellhounds', and is brought to Hell.

Sam, Dean and the demon named Ruby confront Anna, a fallen angel.

This brings us to Season 4. At the beginning of the first episode, Dean wakes up and finds himself inside a coffin lying in the middle of a grass field. He emerges from the coffin, and is bewildered to discover that he is alive. We don’t know why Dean was brought back...until we are introduced to Castiel (Misha Collins), an 'Angel of the Lord'. Turns out, it was Castiel who rescued Dean from Hell, the reason being that Castiel needs Dean to help him and the rest of the forces of Heaven to wage war against the demons. Under Lilith (who escaped from Hell at the end of Season 2 and was responsible for Dean’s death at the conclusion of Season 3), the demons are out to break 66 Seals that will unleash Lucifer and the apocalypse onto the world. At the same time this is happening, Sam—who it is eventually revealed had demon blood given to him when he was an infant (by the Yellow-Eyed Demon)—is perfecting the telekinetic powers that allow him to exorcise and kill demons.

The angel known as Castiel.

I’ll end the recap above, haha. As you can see, what makes Supernatural such a kick-ass show is the fact that like other TV serial dramas such as 24 and Prison Break (I don't watch Lost or Heroes), we see continual progression with Sam and Dean’s characters. Sam is increasingly changing (for the worse?) ever since he discovered he had psychic abilities in Season 1, and Dean is discovering that he has a large role in the battle between Heaven and Hell. Castiel himself is such an awesome character. Imagine having him as a guardian angel watching over you. That sounds kinda cheesy, but you wouldn’t have to worry about the boogeyman hiding in your closet at nights, hahaha. Castiel would kick his ass. Seriously though, Misha Collins does a great job portraying the angel. The concept of Sam having a demon as a girlfriend (Ruby) is also interesting. I can't wait to see what the writers have in store for Sam during the rest of Season 4, as well as future seasons. Hopefully it’ll be epic. We’re talking about the apocalypse here!

The demon known as Alastair prepares to vanquish two reapers.

One more thing: What also makes Supernatural awesome is the fact that there is at least one hot chick per episode. There has to be. Otherwise, this wouldn’t be a true CW show, haha.

Sam confronts the Crossroads Demon in season 3 of SUPERNATURAL.

All images courtesy of the CW Television Network

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

THANKS to a last-second heads-up by one of my friends yesterday, I was able to spot the International Space Station (ISS) and space shuttle Discovery as they passed over Southern California at different times last night. The ISS appeared first...passing around 225 miles (in a southwest-to-east direction) above SoCal between 7:18 and 7:21 PM, and Discovery orbiting around 150 miles overhead (in a southwest-to-northeast direction) between 7:37 and 7:41 PM (all times Pacific). Discovery is set to dock with the ISS today at 2:13 PM, PDT.

In my enthusiasm, I decided to post two pics I took of the ISS...despite the fact these will probably be the crappiest space-related images you'll ever see. I used a 7.3 megapixel digital camera, without a telescope to attach it to, if you must know.


(The sky was already too dark for me to get a shot of Discovery once it flew overhead.)

Two photos I took of the International Space Station when it flew over Southern California on March 16, 2009.

If you want to know when the ISS and shuttle will pass over your area, click here to look up the next sighting opportunity.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Angel Stadium of Anaheim.

2009 HOT IMPORT NIGHTS... Last Saturday, I went to the car show at Angel Stadium in Anaheim. It was originally suppose to be at Dodgers Stadium in Los Angeles, but Dodgers coach Joe Torre must’ve gotten word of it, and told the people who manage the stadium that he doesn’t like a bunch of ghetto, teeny-bop car lovers to be anywhere near his team’s home field. Just kidding. Seriously though, the HIN organizers had to change venues because officials didn’t want a hip hop-themed event at Dodgers stadium (I guess the terms ‘ghetto’ and ‘teeny-bop’ do apply here, after all). Oh well. I didn’t want to drive down to LA, anyway.

Me and Jasmine M.

Wow, this must be the tenth import show I’ve been to since I started going to these events back in ’99, haha (and no, I didn't include model expos that I also attended, like Glamourcon and the Asian Sirens Expo). For pics from past shows I went to, go to the Gallery 2 section of my website.

Me and Lany F.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Space shuttle DISCOVERY is launched from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on March 15, 2009.
NASA / Tony Gray, Tom Farrar

DISCOVERY LAUNCHES... At 4:43 PM, Pacific Time today, space shuttle Discovery took off on a 13-day mission to continue assembly on the International Space Station (ISS). By next Sunday, the ISS will finally have the appearance that artists and engineers envisioned since the space station was first proposed during the Reagan era more than 20 years ago (below). The reason for this: Astronauts will install and deploy the final set of solar wings that will bring the outpost to full electrical power once it is attached during a series of spacewalks this week. On a side note, with today’s flawless launch since the original attempt was scrubbed last Wednesday, nice to know that NASA proved me wrong.


An artist's concept of the International Space Station.
NASA

On a personal note, it’s pretty cool that the vehicle I saw in person last month is finally up in space. With all the delays that STS-119 dealt with over the past month or so, I grew used to seeing the photos I took of Discovery as it stood at Launch Complex 39A with that protective gantry (a.k.a. the Rotating Service Structure) concealing it. Will I go back to Kennedy Space Center to actually witness a shuttle launch before it’s retired next year? As I said above, with the amount of delays a launch can unexpectedly face when you think all is going well, plus the fact I almost spent a grand going on that 4-day Florida trip last month, plus the 2010 shuttle deadline, probably not. Would I go to a launch once the Ares rockets come online (hopefully) late next decade? What do you think?

LINK: Photos I took at Kennedy Space Center

Posing with space shuttle Discovery behind me, on February 8, 2009.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Soundwave in TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN.

REVENGE OF THE FALLEN Update... Last Tuesday, Michael Bay stated on his message board that he was gonna ask Frank Welker to do the dialogue for Soundwave in Transformers 2. In case you don’t know who Welker is, he’s a well-known voice actor who’s worked on numerous animated TV shows throughout the years, ranging from the original Transformers cartoon (where he voiced Megatron and Soundwave) in the 1980’s to more recent fare like Futurama and The Simpsons.

Michael Bay is trying to get Frank Welker to do the voice of Soundwave in TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN.

The reason why this is big news is because of the fact a lot of die-hard Transformers fans (especially those who are huge supporters of "Generation 1", or G1, which consisted of classic characters like Optimus Prime, Megatron, Bumblebee, Soundwave and Ironhide) have been critical of the way Bay has recently been approaching the films. With the exception of Prime (and Peter Cullen reprising his voice role for the character in the 2007 film and Revenge of the Fallen), a lot of folks have been critical of the way Megatron has been designed for the movies (plus the fact The Matrix’s Hugo Weaving did his voice and not Welker), characters from more recent Transformers series (such as The Fallen) being introduced...despite the fact the mythology behind the Decepticons and Autobots haven’t been fully explained on-screen yet (which it should be, presumably, in Transformers 2...according to articles I’ve read online), and the fact Michael Bay’s certain sense of humor is fueling a sense or worry in terms of two new robots that will be introduced in Transformers 2: Skids and Mudflap.

Two new Autobot characters, Skids and Mudflap, will appear in TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN.

I’m not a G1 purist, so with the exception of the way Skids and Mudflap are designed (on the Web, die-hard fans decry them as "retardbots"), I don’t care about these other criticisms of the film. I thought that Megatron was awesome in the 2007 flick, and I think he’ll kick ass in Revenge of the Fallen as well. Having Welker do the voice of Soundwave is a nice nod to the hard-core fans...and shows that Bay actually cares ‘bout what they think. In non-Transformers news, there are rumors that Megan Fox is reportedly dating Twilight star Robert Pattinson.

...

Hm, I don’t know whether this will make me watch the Twilight films (a sequel is being made; I’ve never seen the first one) as a way to give Pattinson props for getting with BAG’s (Brian Austin Green) ex-fiancĂ©e, or to despise Twilight even more. Whatever.

Megan Fox is dating the main dude from TWILIGHT?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

BETTER LUCK ON SUNDAY... Or should I say, April 7? If space shuttle Discovery doesn’t get off the ground by this Tuesday (March 17), then it will have to wait till the first week of April for another launch attempt. The reason for this is because Russia is planning to launch a Soyuz spacecraft carrying a new crew (Expedition 19) to the International Space Station on March 26. Here’s hoping that NASA is able to resolve what caused today’s launch scrub (a hydrogen gas leak during the fueling of the shuttle’s external tank) and have a successful lift-off this weekend.

Of course, knowing NASA’s luck since the STS-114 "Return To Flight" mission in 2005 [Shuttle launches have been delayed due to problems with foam still coming off of external tanks, issues with the tanks’ engine cut-off (ECO) fuel sensors, a freak hailstorm, the threat of an incoming hurricane, equipment failure onboard the Hubble Space Telescope and concerns over damaged 'flow control valves'. PLEASE don’t make me link to the individual shuttle missions these incidents refer to], that will most likely not be the case. But hey— Prove me wrong NASA. Prove me wrong.

A full moon shines above space shuttle DISCOVERY at Launch Complex 39A, during the early morning hours of March 11, 2009.
NASA / Bill Ingalls

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

24 logo.

DAY 7... A heroic act got the silent clock last night. Rest in peace, Bill. You da man. And so is Jonas Hodges (Jon Voight). Evil bastard.

Bill Buchanan (James Morrison) bites the dust, in heroic fashion, in last night's episode of 24.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Rorschach.

WATCHMEN... I saw the film in IMAX on Saturday night, and it was pretty interesting. One of my friends filled me in on the story of the graphic novel last year, so I kinda knew what to expect from the movie before I watched it. Seeing as how director Zach Snyder was trying to give Watchmen a realistic feel a la The Dark Knight, it’s understandable that he didn't include the giant alien squid in the ending. Haha.

Nite Owl II.

Anyways, my favorite character in the movie is Rorschach. Not only does he look bad-ass, but his actions and dialogue are, too. Case in point: The scene where he confronts that child killer in the apartment. I don’t watch horror films, but is there one that actually shows someone getting their head repeatedly hacked to pieces by a meat cleaver? I’m pretty sure there is. But this scene was craaazy. In terms of dialogue, the best line came when Rorschach (a.k.a. Walter Kovacs) was in prison. A fellow inmate tried to intimidate him in the cafeteria, and Kovacs ended up flinging a pot of hot oil at the prisoner’s face. Just as Kovacs is taken away by security guards, he shouts, "I’m not locked in here with you... You’re locked in here with ME!" Nice.

The Comedian.

Overlooking Rorschach’s badassery, the rest of Watchmen was all right. Silk Spectre II (Malin Akerman) had a decent share of nude scenes...which off-set seeing Dr. Manhattan’s wang so many times in the film (what, he only puts that loin cloth on when he’s in the mood?). The Comedian was cool... Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who played the sadistic superhero with an affinity for happy-face pins, kicked-ass in the role...much as how he kicked ass as the demon-hunting dad, John Winchester, in the popular TV show Supernatural. All-in-all, I give Watchmen 8 out of 10 stars. Later.

Silk Spectre II and Dr. Manhattan.

Friday, March 06, 2009

The KEPLER spacecraft is launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on March 6, 2009.
NASA / Jack Pfaller

Off To Find E.T.’s Home... Around 7:30 PM, Pacific Time tonight, a Delta II rocket carrying NASA’s Kepler spacecraft launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. After successfully separating from its third stage motor more than an hour later, Kepler is set to begin a revolutionary 3.5 to 6-year mission that involves searching for Earth-like planets at other solar systems in our galaxy. Kepler will continuously be surveying 100,000 or so stars in a patch of sky near the constellations Cygnus and Lyra. This is in the hopes that the orbiting telescope will find hundreds of new planets—whether they’re the size of Jupiter or our own world—to add to the list of 300-plus ‘exoplanets’ that were discovered beyond our solar system since the mid 1990’s.

A computer-generated image of the Kepler telescope in space.
NASA

From a personal standpoint, a major reason why I’m excited about the Kepler mission is the fact that, like Dawn, Phoenix, Kaguya and Deep Impact before it, my name is onboard the spacecraft. From May to November of last year, the public had the opportunity to submit their names via the Web so that they would be included on a DVD that was attached to Kepler (below). Last I checked, ‘only’ 58,000 names were submitted for inclusion on the spacecraft when the Name In Space campaign on the Kepler website ended after last Thanksgiving. But these 58,000 names will be part of a project that, in around 3.5 years, will hopefully revolutionize astronomy...and even more importantly, our view of ourselves and the question of whether or not we’re alone in the universe.

A Ball Aerospace technician prepares to attach the 'Name In Space' DVD onto the Kepler spacecraft.
Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp.

By December of 2012, scientists should be announcing their final results after Kepler completes its primary mission. We’ll either find out that there are other Earths orbiting stars 600 to 3,000 light years from us, or if we’re truly, completely, alone in the cosmos. Here’s hoping it’s the former. Us humans are the best that Mother Nature can conjure up? Haha... I know, that sounded weird.
My 'Name In Space' certificate.
1 HOUR TILL LAUNCH... Godspeed, Kepler.

The Delta II rocket carrying the Kepler spacecraft stands ready for launch at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida (3/6/09).
NASA / Jack Pfaller
At Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, technicians prepare to install the Delta II rocket's payload fairing around the KEPLER spacecraft (2/26/09).
NASA / Jack Pfaller

IT'S LAUNCH DAY...

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Five Things About the Kepler Mission (Press Release)

Some quick facts about the Kepler mission, scheduled to launch from Florida tonight:

- Kepler is the world's first mission with the ability to find true Earth analogs -- planets that orbit stars like our sun in the "habitable zone." The habitable zone is the region around a star where the temperature is just right for water -- an essential ingredient for life as we know it -- to pool on a planet's surface.

- By the end of Kepler's three-and-one-half-year mission, it will give us a good idea of how common or rare other Earths are in our Milky Way galaxy. This will be an important step in answering the age-old question: Are we alone?

- Kepler detects planets by looking for periodic dips in the brightness of stars. Some planets pass in front of their stars as seen from our point of view on Earth; when they do, they cause their stars to dim slightly, an event Kepler can see.

- Kepler has the largest camera ever launched into space, a 95-megapixel array of charge-coupled devices, or CCDs, like those in everyday digital cameras.

- Kepler's telescope is so powerful that, from its view up in space, it could detect one person in a small town turning off a porch light at night.

Source: Jet Propulsion Laboratory

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An artist's concept of the Kepler telescope in space.
NASA

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

A T-800 cyborg in TERMINATOR SALVATION.

TERMINATOR SALVATION... The newest trailer for the upcoming film was released yesterday, and I must say, I’m quite impressed. Of course, the Nine Inch Nails song playing in the background might be one of the major reasons why I think this preview kicks ass. I’ve never seen any of the Charlie’s Angels films or We Are Marshall [but I do watch the popular TV show (Supernatural) that’s executively produced by him on the CW network], so I don’t know just how well a job McG did in directing this fourth installment in the classic war-against-Skynet movie franchise. Here you go...



Unfortunately, the new trailer has not been released on Quicktime yet (at least in non-High Def formats... I don't have an HD monitor), so the screenshots below aren’t as sharp as what I’ve posted for The Dark Knight or even G.I. Joe. Oh well. Terminator Salvation comes out in theaters on May 21. If you live in the United States.

TERMINATOR SALVATION.
TERMINATOR SALVATION.
TERMINATOR SALVATION.
All images courtesy of Warner Bros.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

The WATCHMEN Logo.

WATCHMEN... The much-anticipated Zack Snyder film based on the popular graphic novel by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons gets released in theaters this Friday. I’m planning to watch it in IMAX on Saturday night, though. It’s all good... The one film I’m definitely planning to watch on opening day (Midnight screening? We’ll see) is, you guessed it (if you've been reading my Blog for at least the past year or so), Transformers 2. Which comes out on Wednesday, June 24.

The Watchmen in WATCHMEN.

Back to Watchmen, Malin Akerman and Carla Gugino are hot...especially in Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle and Sin City, respectively. Yup.

Malin Akerman as Silk Spectre II in WATCHMEN.