Archive for the ‘Film’ Category

The iPhone with the untraceable manufacturer

January 20th, 2013

“The tech inside is military grade, I can’t even trace the manufacturer.”
— Arrow season 1 episode 10

Come on, your average Best Buy employee could “trace the manufacturer” of an iPhone 4. I’m starting to think this town only needs Archer McRockabs because of their incompetent police force.

Arrow hooks you with action and drama, but you’ll stay for the facepalm-worthy moments.

White iPhone spotted in 1987 film RoboCop

September 22nd, 2012

In a previous post, I pointed out what appears to be a white iPhone 4 or 4S model in a 1993 Star Trek episode.

Turns out the white iPhone design dates back even earlier.

Here’s a frame of the 1987 film RoboCop, approximately 30 minutes in to the film.

It’s described as a handheld mapping device. While it may not look much like an iPhone at first glance, notice the dimensions and how it’s held with a portrait orientation.

But there’s more to it than that. Much more:

In the above frame, approximately 1:08 into the film, we see Dick Jones (played by Ronny Cox) holding a different version of the RoboCop tracking device.

Immediately after, we see a POV shot of this second model:

Notice anything iPhone-like about this?

No, not the crappy iOS 6 maps. I meant the rectangular portrait shape and rounded corners.

Thankfully, Apple’s patent on physical shapes was invalidated, ensuring the future of Omni Consumer Product’s line of cyborg police officers won’t involve patent infringement.

New iPhone 5 “Lightning” connector predicted in 1999

September 15th, 2012

If you follow tech news at all, you know that Apple is replacing their large iPod connector with a new smaller connector for the iPhone 5 called “Lightning.”

Most folks who follow Apple would assume that the name Lightning is a reference to Apple’s new Mac connector port called “Thunderbolt.” But is it?

The above screenshot is from the 1999 film Fight Club, which depicts the Apple logo in a store window next to the word “Lightning.” Coincidence? Sure, it probably is. But still, it’s odd to see the connection in a thirteen year old film.

White iPhone spotted in 1993

September 5th, 2012

Oh and speaking of Star Trek: TNG, here’s something you might not have noticed from Season 6 episode “The Chase” when it first aired in 1993. I want to stress that the following image is not photoshopped or altered in any way:

Through a modern lens it’s hard not to look back and see anything but a white iPhone 4/4S model in Data’s hand. The rounded corners, the size, the color, the metal edges, and the way he’s using the device all seem indicative of an iPhone.

I hope he has a good Data plan!

…sorry, couldn’t help myself.

Of course it wasn’t really an iPhone, and we only see a few shots of the device, always partially obscured by the hands of actor Brent Spiner. But if we’re willing to look at the episode with the benefit of hindsight it leads to some intriguing questions:

  • Could this count as “prior art” in the Apple vs. Samsung case?
  • Did Apple’s designers get inspiration from this episode, consciously or subconsciously?
  • Is cell phone service better in the mid 2300’s?

We could also ponder which alien races use which mobile operating systems (the Vulcans clearly run Android and the Klingons must run some frustrating shit like Symbian) but let’s not go there. I don’t want to start an intergalactic flame war.

UPDATE: It also appears they have iPads. Here’s Picard with one, with a speech bubble for illustrative purposes.

UPDATE 2: Looks like RoboCop had iPhones before Star Trek.

Did Captain Picard have sex with Q?

September 4th, 2012

There’s a funny scene in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Tapestry” where Captain Picard wakes up in bed next to Q.

The characters have the following dialog (copied from here):

			Good morning, darling.

	Picard jerks back in shock. Q smiles as Picard grabs
	his uniform and begins to dress.

			A little jumpy this morning, are
			we? Feeling guilty perhaps?

			I don't have anything to feel
			guilty about, Q.

			"We were friends, Q. Nothing

			You're the one who gave me the
			opportunity to change things...

			So what happens next?

	Picard thinks for a beat.

			I don't know. But I do know that
			things will be different.

	Q looks at him for a beat.

			I'm sure.

What’s important to understand here is the context of the scene. It’s implied that Picard just had sex with Marta, a female friend he’d fallen out of touch with years ago.

Or did they really have sex? It’s not clear any of what’s happening here is entirely real.

The backstory is that Picard died, and while on the operating table he wakes up in an all-white room. Who should be standing there but Q, an annoying man who has god-like powers but spends his time tormenting people.

Q gives Picard a choice: stay here and you’ll probably die, or I’ll take you back in time so that you can change the past to avoid death.

Picard’s choice is obvious, despite the fact that he doesn’t believe anything Q has to say; after finding Q standing over him in the afterlife, Picard quips that Q can’t be here because “The universe is not that badly designed.”

In spite of his initial misgivings Picard relives his past and makes new choices to allegedly prevent his death. One of those choices is having a relationship with Marta.

But is Picard’s initial instinct correct? Is Q messing with him?

A.V. Club’s Zack Handlen points out three ways to interpret Q’s offer:

[1] Q insists to Picard that what we’re seeing is the actual past, instead of a construct […]
[2] [T]he easiest being that nothing that happens here is really “real” at all, that all of it is created by Q to teach Picard to accept that the man he was is responsible for the man he is,
[3] or else it’s just Picard having a death-bed hallucination.

Handlen finds the second option most likely. While the setup is reminiscent of the Dickens classic “A Christmas Carol,” throwing Q into the mix complicates the scenario. I agree with Handlen’s reasoning — rather than pure Dickens-style fantasy, this seems to be all Q’s doing. It’s entirely in character for Q to mess with Picard’s mind by creating meaningless choices like this, and the episode seems to bear this theory out.

So if Picard had a sexual encounter in Q’s recreation of the past then who did Picard have sex with? Marta couldn’t have been there, so did he have sex with some kind of recreation of her? Or did Picard essentially have sex with Q?

Now look, I’m not saying Picard is gay. And as far as I can tell Q is asexual (though he gets off on tormenting people.) But that doesn’t mean Q can’t summon sex partners from his own mind. Presumably Q would have to animate the people he creates in some way. In the context of Q replacing his facsimile of Marta with himself when Picard woke up, Q’s dialog (as above) seems intentionally flirtatious. The question is then of whether Q was the one behind Marta’s mask or whether it was Picard’s vision of her that brought her to life.

If we go with the theory that Picard fell into Q’s trap, then what does that say about Q’s actions? Did Q rape Picard physically (rather than mentally) this time? Or by finally buying into Q’s world, did Picard effectively submit to Q’s advances?

As with any fiction the story’s questions are ultimately up to the audience. A show like TNG gives the audience plenty of questions, but few seem so directly targeted at those writing slash fiction.

Does SF Chronicle’s Peter Hartlaub write enough about old movie theaters?

November 27th, 2011

(Original CC licensed photo by Thomanication)

You may have noticed today’s SF Chronicle re-established the struggling paper’s dominance with not one, but two features about old movie theaters written by pop culture writer Peter Hartlaub.

Yes, two articles about old-timey movie theaters in one day is a fair amount. Ideally the Chron should shoot for four, maybe five on a given day; but if time permits for a mere two pieces reminiscing about yesterday’s cinema houses, I would understand.

Here’s the sad news: until today Mr. Hartlaub hadn’t written a word about old movie theaters for a whopping SIXTEEN DAYS! How did we survive this torrid dry spell? How were we able to sleep without nightmares of dusty velvet seats of yesteryear facing an magnificent but unlit screen?

Prior to that dry spell, it had been a nearly unmanageable three days without coverage of pre-movie organ performances at the Castro, the once glamorous art deco facade of the Parkside, or the fight to preserve the building which once housed the Harding. Alas, the article was but a tease as it was a repeat of what he’d posted the day before.

How are we to live out each day without this breaking coverage of a time when movies cost less than 50 cents? And who else but Hartlaub would be willing to painstakingly illustrate these articles by looking through his employer’s photo archive?

Peter Hartlaub, I implore you: we need more coverage of yesterday’s cinema houses. And we need it on an hourly basis.

Thank you.

Palace of Fine Arts 2011 version

January 16th, 2011

The Palace of Fine Arts has been restored… again! Perhaps the third time’s the charm? Or is this the fourth? Hey who’s counting.

IMG_1768_1 IMG_1762_1 IMG_1764_1 IMG_1763_1 IMG_1754_1 IMG_1755_1 IMG_1761_1 IMG_1767_1 IMG_1759_1

The restoration took a mere seven years. Contrast this to the similarly historic Acropolis in Greece, which has been under a restoration project since the 70’s. Get back to work, Greeks.

Some notes on the 2011 version of the Palace:

  • No more sand! Instead they added a ground surface that looks like a granola bar.
  • The ugly black nets under the dome are gone, as the concrete fixtures are now firmly super-glued in place for your safety.
  • The “stairs” have been converted to planter boxes, much to the dismay of mild-mannered daredevils everywhere.
  • Lots more trees, plants, etc. But still plenty of mud.

Did you know? The current Palace of Fine Arts was not built in 1915 for the World’s Fair; it’s a concrete replica of the original built in the 60’s.