Wednesday, May 30, 2012

All Is Lost

Well, this is a gobsmacker.

Wisconsin had the absolute worst job record of all 50 states for the past 12 months; but according to a poll of voters in that state, they're supporting Republican Gov. Scott Walker because they think he's the better job creator. He's got a 7-point advantage over Democrat Tom Barrett (up from 6 points a few days ago).

Considering the $30 million in recall campaign funds Gov. Walker has pulled in (especially from well-heeled out-of-state friends), this makes me think as goes Wisconsin, so goes America.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Fake Magazines of Blade Runner

Over at The Atlantic, Alexis Madrigal tracks down and displays some of the fake magazines used in Ridley Scott's great film Blade Runner. Worth a look.

Along that same line of thinking, has a look at some fake covers of real magazines that were used in non-science-fiction films through the years.

And if that amuses you, but you don't have InDesign and Photoshop on your computer, check out this Fake Magazine Cover Creator (they even have Future magazine, how sweet). Such as the bit of fun I had creating my own Fangoria cover (at right).

Fake is fun.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Shatner Revival: The Starlog Project, Starlog 199, February 1994

William Shatner never really went away, of course. Before Star Trek, he had a long and varied career that included Shakespeare and more; after Trek, he acted in other movies (Trek and non-) and even starred in another prime time television show in the 1980s called T.J. Hooker. But in the mid-1990s, Shatner came back in a way that established himself as an immortal, or at least someone who clearly was going to be around a long time.

When he launched his Tekwar books, they were always likely multimedia candidates, and this issue Starlog highlights the Greg Evigan-starring television movies (it had already been translated into comics). Before the Tek wave had gone, it would also spawn a short-lived TV series and a video game.

There are lots of actors and other creative folks who have late-career resurgences; their rediscovery by the general public generally lasts a cycle and then recedes. But Shatner’s is still going strong in 2012, having conquered TV, social media (he’s got more than 1.4 million followers on Google+), dot-com success (Priceline), and yet more books, TV series (winning two Emmys for his Denny Crane portrayal), and videos.

But, as I noted, Shatner never really left. Even during that time that I tend to think of as his wandering through the desert phase – the 1970s – he was busy with stage shows, films, animated television, game shows, and commercials. Yet for all of that, it is fair to consider his Tek success as the birth of Shatner as multimedia entrepreneur, a role that he continues to play with much success today.

Starlog #199
84 pages (including covers)
Cover price: $4.95

This month, Starlog publishes its official statement of ownership, management and circulation. The total paid circulation for the issue closest to the statement's filing deadline is listed as 265,192 (a giant increase over the previous year's 164,886), including the number of paid subscriptions of 9,350 (little changed from 9,675 in the last year). Why did Starlog’s circulation take off like that? Part of it might have been a distribution strategy by the publisher; the total copies printed was a whopping 610,000 (more than twice what it was in previous years), which means there were way more than 330,000 returns unsold from the newsstand. As wasteful as that seems, it was possibly driven by the new newsstand competition Starlog was preparing to face from upstarts Cinescape, Sci Fi Universe, and Sci Fi Channel magazine (later renamed Sci Fi Entertainment), all of which would debut later in 1994. Control of the newsstands was something Starlog Group was experienced in.

Random classified ad under the “Miscellaneous” banner: “HOLLYWOOD WILL BE KILLING OFF STAR TREK – BUT! Hollywood has read our ‘strong support’ petition letter and – Hollywood says yes! This particular letter would definitely ‘force’ them to reconsider – if they are flooded with them! Please sign this letter and mail it back now! Or Star Trek is dead. To receive yours, enclose a S.A.S.E. within an envelope to …” It does make you think Starlog should have raised its classified ad pricing for each additional exclamation point used.

The rundown: This month, the magazine breaks with its usual photographic cover treatments and runs the illustrated image from the Shatner epic Tekwar; meanwhile Nana Visitor in Bajoran garb takes over the contents page. In his Medialog column, David McDonnell reports that “There will be another Star Trek TV spinoff, also following the adventures of a spaceship, one with a smaller crew complement than the Enterprise (and including a Vulcan, a Klingon, and possibly some Next Generation characters.” Which reminds me of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode featuring Laserblast, in which Mike saves the SOL by taking on Captain Janeway’s persona (and clothing) and saying at one point, “I’m responsible for the lives of 148 crewmembers aboard this ship, 144 of which we never see.”

Michael McAvennie reviews MechWarrior, Traveller, Magic: The Gathering, and more in his Gamelog column. The Communications letters from readers include a super-long letter defending Star Trek: The Next Generation, among other letters, plus Mike Fisher’s Creature Profile featuring the Mummy. Books reviewed in Booklog include Star Wars: The Truce at Bakura, The Far Kingdoms, Majyk by Accident, Growing Up Weightless, Turning Point, The Longing Ring, The Callahan Touch, ViraVax, When True Night Falls, Harm’s Way, The Chronicles of Pern: First Fall, Down Among the Dead Men, Out of Time, Crashcourse, Shroud of Shadow, The Cygnet and the Firebird, Catfantastic III (yes, a collection of short stories featuring “tales … of magical, mutant and mundane cats" – it’s what people did before LOL cats websites), Into the Green, and The Well-Favored Man: The Tale of the Sorcerer’s Nephew. In Videolog, David Hutchison reports the latest video releases, including Highlander, Robinson Crusoe on Mars, and a Twilight Zone boxed set. And in Fan Network, there’s the usual listing of conventions and directory of Trek fan clubs and publications (including Star Fetch: The Fun Fan Magazine, published in my home state of Wisconsin).

Ian Spelling, Starlog’s go-to guy for Star Trek reporting, interviews Nana Visitor, one of the stars of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Her role of a Bajoran officer aboard the space station was originally going to go to Michelle Forbes, who portrayed Ensign Ro on Next Generation, but Forbes reportedly wanted a movie career rather than being tied to a series. So Visitor stepped in. Craig W. Chrissinger talks with Ashley McConnell, a novelizer of Quantum Leap stories. She gives some interesting insight into the how-tos of writing licensed novels, such as negotiating her contract almost by accident, or how much freedom the writer has to write the stories (a lot, in her case). And Bill Warren profiles actor John D’Aquino, who portrays Lt. Ben Krieg on seaQuest DSV. (My favorite pullquote from the issue is in the D’Aquino article: “I was such a boring kid that I would memorize TV Guide.”)

Veteran film scorer John Barry tells writer Tom Soter about his work on James Bond films, The Black Hole, Howard the Duck, and more. Soter writes:
[Barry] remembers 1986’s Howard the Duck with a shudder and a chuckle. “I had just finished Out of Africa with the same company, which wound up a hugely successful movie; it won all the Academy Awards. I got this mad phone call [from the film company, Universal Pictures] and they said, ‘It’s George Lucas’ movie,’ and I thought, ‘Well, a cartoon death wizard, a ridiculous thing, it just might be fantastic.’ So I said, ‘OK,’” Barry scored sequences without seeing the special FX, recalling that “I went blindly, with confidence, and I thought that [Lucas] was going to be taking care of all that. That never worked out. I still don’t know what happened. It was such an unbelievable disaster. And I never met George Lucas.” 
Peter Bloch-Hansen previews the TekWar telefilm. John Vester interviews the seemingly tireless Star Wars novelist Kevin J. Anderson. Joe Nazzaro takes a look at Sylvester McCoy, who recalls his work as Doctor Who. Pat Jankiewicz continues Starlog’s eternal quest to interview every person ever involved with the Trek franchise, this time talking to actor Jan Shutan, who guest starred as Scotty’s girlfriend in “The Lights of Zetar.” Tom Weaver profiles Billy Benedict, co-star of the Adventures of Captain Marvel serials in 1941. In his From the Bridge column, Kerry O’Quinn highlights Mario, a friend who explains his inspirations for pursuing a film career. Mark Phillips interviews Robert Hamner, who discusses his writing credits in Star Trek (original), Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, and others. And in his Liner Notes, editor David McDonnell lays down the law about what Starlog’s staff can and can not do for you (hint: Don’t send them your fiction stories and don’t ask them to forward a letter to your favorite actor).
“I think, for sure, all the women who came before us made a difference in how our roles were destined. I’ve been in relaionships where you’ve tried to get a man to marry you, but he’s resisting the relationship. You figure he is just not the marrying kind and you leave him. Two months later, you find out he got married to the next woman he met. That seems to be a common pattern. He needed to be comfortable with [marriage], so he could finally do it in a fresh environment. I think, maybe, in a sense, that’s what happened with Star Trek. Marina [Sirtis] and all the other women had an effect on what Terry [Farrell] and I get to do on Deep Space Nine. And I’m very grateful to them.”
–Nana Visitor, actor, interviewed by Ian Spelling, “Major Player” 
For more, click on Starlog Internet Archive Project below or visit the Starlog Project's permanent site.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Drunk Yoda

Drunk Yoda says: "I'm not as drunk as you think I am."

I expect an internet meme out of this, folks ...

Saturday, May 19, 2012

I'm Shrinking

A couple years ago, I complained on this blog about periodicals that published miniature versions of their magazines even while they continued to publish the normal-sized versions of their magazines. It seems to be a thing that fashion magazines are doing, for no reason I can figure out.

And yet, here I am today, to show off the new miniature version of my print-on-demand digital magazine Galaxis. A little background: I use, an online digital publications platform. On Issuu, people can publish, distribute, and read digital magazines, all displayed wonderfully in high-quality formats that even replicate the visual appeal of a physical magazine. At the same time, I use MagCloud, an online print-on-demand digital publications platform created by HP, to distribute my magazines to anyone who might wish to purchase a hard copy. Print and digital: friends, not enemies.

But upon logging into my Issuu account recently, I noticed a new option, one only available for me to use on my own publications: I could order a print-on-demand hard copy. Among the options were to have the publication perfect-bound (with a square, glued spine instead of staples), color or converted to grayscale black-and-white, and even to shrink the publication and print it in a smaller format. I chose the latter, with color covers but converting the full-color interior of the second issue of Galaxis to black-and-white.

The mini-Galaxis arrived a few weeks later, sent from Europe, where Issuu is based. (See photo above.) It looks fantastic. It is still a ridiculous extravagance to have a mini version of a full-sized magazine, but since my digital magazines are largely a self-indulgent extravagance anyway, I'm pleased to have it.

I continue to believe that these digital platforms are great steps along the way to reinventing and saving magazines (in both printed hard copy form and digital form), but for now, the per-page cost is simply too high for someone to launch a commercial magazine through the print-on-demand options. And launching a commercially successful magazine (in print and digital) is my goal. MagCloud charges about 20 cents per page, which adds  up pretty quickly to eye-popping prices; Issuu's print-on-demand service is even more expensive.

I still think that the long-term resolution will involve greatly evolved print-at-home capabilities, but for most people, that would be science fiction. Hence, I love it.


Friday, May 18, 2012

Facebook and Orly Taitz and Chicago? Take the W2W News Quiz

Take my Week to Week news quiz over at Huffington Post San Francisco to see how much you know about the big events in the news.

This was a week in which Iran announced a social media strategy, of a sort; an entire political movement admitted defeat; boxers fought outside the ring and demonstrated why we don't ask them about anything other than boxing; and Chicago-style politics erupted in its usual sharp-elbowed, humorously nutty way.

Find out how much you know about things, and see if you can improve upon your score from last week.

Take the quiz

Thursday, May 17, 2012

We're No. 2

According to the IMF and the CIA, in 2011 the GDP of the European Union was about $17.5 trillion and the GDP of the United States was about $15.1 trillion.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Digital Nomad

Anastasia Ashman Writer, Producer, Author
(Tales of the Expat Harem), Co-Creator of
Global Niche (photo: Steven Fromtling)
Website gremlins prevented me from posting this link to a profile I wrote in the April 2012 edition of Marina Times. It's a look at Anastasia Ashman, an old friend and former colleague from my Internet World magazine days. She has turned her interests into a successful "global niche" of creative souls:
Digital Nomad
Anastasia Ashman merges social media and global citizenship
By John Zipperer 
Some people lose themselves in the world. Anastasia Ashman turned herself into a tour guide to help people find themselves. A Berkeley native, Ashman’s life has taken her around the world, from the development hell of Hollywood to the ruling circles of Malaysia to the ancient streets of Istanbul. Now she’s back in the Bay Area, recently taken up residence with her husband in Russian Hill, and she’s able to say, “We didn’t come here knowing that much about what’s going on in San Francisco. We came here with the intention of finding out and treating it like a foreign country.”  
Foreign country? To a woman who grew up across the Bay?  
It’s a disconnect between location and identity that is intentional on her part ...

Start Making Sense

The first panelists for Week to Week (from left):
Larry Gerston, Debra J. Saunders and Michael Fox
Photo: Steven Fromtling
Some website problems prevented me from posting this column last month, but you can now read my Marina Times Zippy column from the April 2012 issue:
Start making sense
By John Zipperer 
Blame or credit Dorothy Crain. 
I was a teenage political junkie and Dorothy Crain – a longtime family friend – fed my habit by directing me out of the schoolyard-level discussions and arguments toward adult discussions of current events. While I was still in junior high school, she gave me a subscription to The New Republic, which became my political bible throughout the 1980s. When I visited the magazine’s offices in 1991, it was a tiny bit like touring Rome or Jerusalem. 
Nerd, I know.

The Living Bridge

The Golden Gate Bridge from the south side. Photo: Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District.
A feature events guide article of mine from the current edition of Marina Times:
The Living Bridge
Anniversary Events
May is full of things to do, see, and hear to celebrate the Golden Gate Bridge’s 75th anniversary By John Zipperer
Three quarters of a century can change a lot, but they can also hide a lot, adding a gloss of fame and affection for what was a very controversial project. That’s the case for the Golden Gate Bridge, the iconic link between Marin and San Francisco that is the most famous visual shorthand for illustrating the city by the bay. Today, it ranks with the Statue of Liberty, Washington Monument, Sears Tower, and the St. Louis Arch as beloved symbols of specific cities and even representatives of the spirit of the country at large.  
Considering its modern fame, how many people know that the 1920s saw a vigorous debate within the Bay Area over whether the bridge should be built at all?

Blond Roots

My latest column in the Marina Times:

Blond roots
The Marina doesn’t deserve its rep
By John Zipperer 
Can you judge a neighborhood by its enemies? If you read what some people are saying online about the Marina, you can be forgiven for expecting the Marina to be a Beverly Hills-wannabe neighborhood filled with Stepford Wives. The mildest might be SFGate, which says that the Marina District’s “apartment buildings, shops and restaurants seem to be bursting at their seams with beautiful, young and fit 20- and 30-somethings.” Hardly sounds like hell on earth. But apparently it does sound like that to other reviewers ...

Friday, May 11, 2012

Putin! Gay Marriage! Romney! Take My Latest News Quiz

It's been quite a week. Putin is playing hard to get; Obama's making the most of a Biden announcement; Mitt Romney's dealing with more men-behaving-badly behavior in his past. It's been that kind of a week.

See how up-to-date you are: Take my latest Week to Week news quiz on Huffington Post San Francisco.

Friday, May 4, 2012

4,000 and counting: Galaxis Science Fiction and Science

This morning I woke up to a milestone – no, that's not something a doctor needs to remove. It's a marker of achievement. This morning's milestone was 4,000, the number of people who have read or sampled my all-digital magazine Galaxis.

Yes, 4,000 people is a small group compared to the tens of thousands or millions of big magazines. But for a magazine entirely written, designed, produced, and marketed by one person – me, with the exception of the cover painting – I think 4,000 is a good number for now.

"For now" because that number keeps growing. Have you read Galaxis? If you're into science and science fiction, you might want to take a look. (And if you're really into paper editions, you can purchase a print-on-demand copy from MagCloud.) Except for the print-on-demand edition, Galaxis is free to read online or even download to your computer/smartphone/tablet/whatever. Just look for the download link or icon.