Quotulatiousness

September 22, 2017

Fifteen years later

Filed under: Media — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Craig Tomashoff talks to several of the cast and crew of Firefly:

In the Beginning

Minear: I knew this show felt special and important, but I didn’t realize what it was going to be at that early stage. It really wasn’t until we were into the making of it that it hit me. Once the show was cast and the spaceship (Serenity) was built, then it was a different story. It has been a very complicated process up to that point because Fox didn’t like the pilot. They made Joss go back and add some humor. He did what he could without damaging the pilot, but they never really understood what Firefly was and never loved it. This was all happening right before the 2002 upfronts, and the network was trying to decide if it was going to go for another season of their sci-fi show Dark Angel or pick up this Joss Whedon space show. They couldn’t see in their head what an hour of this show would look like and told us they weren’t sure we’d get a pickup. Joss and I said we’d write a first episode over that weekend before the announcements and they said OK. Then we asked ourselves, “Are we crazy? Can we do this in two days?” But we spent two days at Joss’ Mutant Enemy office, where we broke the story and each wrote half of the episode. And by Monday morning, we had written the “Train Job” episode [which was written as the show’s second episode but aired as the pilot Sept. 20, 2002] and the network liked it. And we got picked up.

Berman: Firefly had an incredibly good pilot script, very ahead of its time. I remember it generating a lot of excitement inside the company and we were hopeful it was going to be a brand-new franchise for us. And when it came to casting, Joss was also very forward thinking as he always was. He put together a remarkably intelligent and diverse group.

Getting to Know You

Gina Torres (Zoe Washburne): I was given an outline, but no script, when I auditioned. It was a detailed outline from Joss, and it ran through the big strokes and pieces of scenes that would potentially be in the actual script. I remember thinking, at the very end of reading the outline, though this was a sci-fi show, there were no aliens and no mutants. It was an intriguing take, a sci-fi Western. So I said, “OK, I’ll meet.” Buffy and Angel weren’t a part of my world, but I knew that the guy who created them had had great success. When Joss called me in to read, he said I was just coming in to see producers. Right from the beginning, this show was unlike anything I had experienced. There was no script and one guy auditioning me.

Sean Maher (Simon Tam): The material I was given was the scene from the pilot where Simon explains to the crew what had happened to his sister — the “I am very smart” speech. Given that there wasn’t a script, my first question when I met Joss to audition was, “Can you tell me about the show?” He proceeded to paint this extraordinary picture of this wonderfully unique world he had created. I was sold.

Alan Tudyk (Hoban Washburne): I was doing a play in New York when my agent sent me a description of the pilot. I had a friend who’d done a Buffy episode, and when I asked about Joss and if I should go in for a show of his, the answer was the most emphatic “yes” you could get. I did a test on DVD but then forgot about it. Then, I ended up out in Los Angeles for another audition and was about to come home when my agent said they wanted to test me for this show Firefly. I’d forgotten what it even was at that point, figuring that if my audition DVD wasn’t in the trash it was at least trash adjacent. But a week after I went in, I got the part.

Adam Baldwin (Jayne Cobb): I knew nothing about the show until I auditioned. I loved Westerns and shoot-’em-ups when I was little. I would watch them with my dad, so that was great. I put on a grumbly voice in my audition, kind of like in those old movies, and they let me just go with it in the show.

March 14, 2017

The Real Reason Why Firefly Was Canceled

Filed under: Business, Media — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Published on 8 Aug 2016

Joss Whedon’s Firefly was poised to be the next huge sci-fi series to change television. Unfortunately, those hopes were dashed after one incomplete season. Let’s look back at the reasons why Firefly‘s lights went out…

A small, loyal fan base | 0:15
Marriage trouble | 0:35
Friday night fright | 0:59
The episodes aired out of order | 1:21
The promos didn’t capture the spirit of the show | 1:45
Low ratings | 2:11
An executive defense | 2:32

December 2, 2015

The two Enlightenments

Filed under: Europe, History, Politics — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

Nigel Davies pops up for one of his very occasional blog posts, and in this one he explains that there are actually two different Enlightenments, not just the one we tend to casually refer to:

There is the English style Liberal Enlightenment (sometimes called the ‘moderate’ enlightenment according to sceptics like Jonathan Israel), accepts that people are people, so we can only do the best we can do to get them to all agree and play happily together.

Then there is the European style Radical Enlightenment, which believes that the only way to make people play well together is to change them, by moulding them into better people. Into people who are designed, built, trained, and FORCED, to fit the correct mould.

If you are a victim of the superficial attractions of the fuzzy idealism of the Radical Enlightenment, you probably believe that the state, and its education and punishment systems, are there to make people fit into a ‘socially desirable’ mould.

[…]

If you are such a person, you usually call yourself by benign titles like ‘socialist’, or a ‘multi-culturalist’; or perhaps by titles that have gone out of fashion but mean exactly the same sort of state intervention in people’s lives like ‘Eugenicist’ or ‘White Man’s Burden’ worker; or perhaps you even still hang grimly on to the ultimate idealism of sickening movements like Communism or Fascism. (See any recent European news for samples of both.)

No matter which of these fantasies you are attached to, you become a dangerous fundamentalist the second you believe that ‘the world would be a better place if everyone thought the same way’.

Or, as the great social commentator of the modern media — Joss Whedon — put it, in the immortal words of Captain Reynolds (in the movie Serenity)…

    “Sure as I know anything, I know this. They will try again… a year from now, ten, they will swing back to the belief that they can Make People Better…”

No matter how many times they fail, or how appalling the results, ‘they’ keep believing that their idealistic fantasy just needs a bit of ‘perfecting’. It is simply beyond their comprehension that you cannot build a stable, or indeed sane, system on Radical Enlightenment beliefs.

The Liberal Enlightenment gave birth to the dozens of Constitutional Monarchies of the older parts of the British Commonwealth, or of the Protestant parts of Northern Europe — Scandinavia and Benelux etc. Countries that, despite their whacky, cobbled together and often unwritten constitutions, have generally had between two and five centuries of internal peace and economic development. (Unless attacked or invaded by their Radical Enlightenment neighbours.)

The Radical Enlightenment gave birth to the — literally — hundreds of ‘Republics’ that tend to break down into political chaos, dictatorship, civil war, mass murder or genocide of their own people, or just violent attacks on all their neighbours. Usually within twenty years of being founded.

From the French Terror to the Napoleonic wars; from the Weimar Republic to the Nazi state; from the Soviet Socialist Republics of XXX, to the Muslim Republics of XXX, to almost any post WWII African or Asian republic you care to name — including most ‘new Commonwealth’ ones; or indeed the interwar Western European or postwar Eastern European ones.

The four, FOUR, successful republics out of the hundreds of failures — that have not been just tiny city states like Singapore — are: Switzerland, Finland, Israel, and Botswana. Three that held together mainly because they were monocultures under constant threat from invaders for most of their existence, and the third an effective tribal monarchy even if it is not called one.

(The United States is the standout weirdo of the modern world… enough English Liberal Enlightenment in its legal structure to keep it to only a single Civil War — and only 600,000 dead — despite the unstable French Radical Enlightenment elements in its constitution. But if you watch the US Congress — Liberal Enlightenment — and President — Radical Enlightenment — systems in conflict recently it constantly amazes that it works at all…)

You cannot build a state purely on Radical Enlightenment ideals, which is why all such states run in to trouble sooner or later. Usually much sooner. Which just reinforces why the US hybrid state and other Radical Enlightenment states (even functional Constitutional Monarchy states like Australia that should know better) trying to force illiterate tribal cultures in Central America and Asia and Africa and — more recently — the Middle East: to become ‘democratic republics’ has been so woefully unsuccessful. (And which has also dropped the average survival of modern ‘republics’ to even lower levels, because the ‘imposed’ idealistic republics are even less successful than the ‘revolutionary’ idealistic ones.)

August 6, 2015

QotD: The chain of command

Filed under: Humour, Media, Quotations — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 01:00

Jayne: You know what the chain of command is? It’s the chain I go get and beat you with ’til ya understand who’s in ruttin’ command here. Now we’re finishing this deal,

[breathing becomes a little more labored]

Jayne: and then maybe, *maybe* we’ll come back for those morons who got themselves caught. You can’t change that by getting all… bendy.

Wash: All what?

Jayne: [starts swaying] You’ve got the — the light from the console… keep you, lift you up. They shine like…

[starts grabbing at the air like he’s trying to catch something]

Jayne: little angels…

[Jayne falls flat on his face]

Wash: Did he just go crazy and fall asleep?

Simon: I told him to sit down.

“The Train Job”, Firefly at IMBb

February 3, 2015

A biography of Joss Whedon

Filed under: Media — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 05:00

In City Journal, Benjamin Plotinsky talks about a new biography of the creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, Serenity, and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.:

Buffy the Vampire Slayer premiered in March 1997. The show’s name suggested either camp or children’s programming, which was probably why the network had wanted to call it simply Slayer. But Whedon insisted on the full name, Pascale writes. “As he explained, each word was crucial to understanding the show: ‘One of them is funny, one is scary, one of them is action.’” It wasn’t the last time that Whedon would make a questionable marketing decision. To this day, plenty of people who correctly point to The Sopranos and The Wire as high points of turn-of-the-century television don’t realize that Buffy, despite its name, was one of the most impressive products of that impressive period, which is to say, one of the best TV shows ever made.

The show wasn’t simply about a superpowered high schooler whose calling was to fight demons and periodically save the world. It was an allegory for American adolescence. The monsters and apocalypses represented — seldom so obviously as to induce cringes — many of the problems that teenagers routinely confront, and they forced the heroine to face problems that the rest of us must face sometimes, too: unpopularity, abandonment, fear, misery, loneliness, helplessness. Sometimes Buffy prevailed through simple self-reliance; more often, through the help of her friends, a group of smart misfits who distinguished themselves from others in their high school — and simultaneously endeared themselves to viewers everywhere — by speaking a clever, grammar-mangling patois that fans soon dubbed Buffyspeak. (“Punishing yourself like this is pointless,” Buffy’s mentor tells her early in the show’s second season. “It’s entirely pointy,” she retorts.) The wit of the dialogue balanced the pain of the plots, as Whedon put his characters through the emotional wringer with a perceptiveness seldom matched on the small screen — or the big.

Buffy ended in 2003, but Whedon was already running other projects and would continue to pilot more, most of them in science fiction or fantasy. They included a number of TV shows (Angel, Dollhouse, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) and movies (Serenity, The Cabin in the Woods, Much Ado About Nothing), as well as an innovative, self-produced miniseries, Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, distributed online. Deserving special mention is Firefly, a hugely promising TV series that mixed country-Western and sci-fi plots while showcasing Whedon’s trademarks: clever dialogue, perceptive psychology, and a motley crew of outsiders. The Fox network canceled Firefly after just 14 episodes, citing low viewership, which Pascale blames chiefly on Fox’s poor advertising for the show. Whedon may have deserved some of the blame, too. Firefly opened with a contemplative, almost dismal theme song, composed by Whedon himself, that captured the series’ spirit nicely but almost certainly put off many first-time viewers. Perhaps Whedon was once again insisting on artistic integrity at the price of practical success.

Until 2012, it seemed likely that Whedon’s name would be permanently associated with Buffy. That year, however, the best of the recent crop of comic-book flicks — The Avengers, written and directed by Whedon — became the third-highest-grossing movie of all time. Who better to helm a movie about a team of smart, squabbling mavericks who ultimately unite to save the world than the creator of Buffy and Firefly? The movie was classic Whedon: well paced, clever, and laced with dialogue at once witty and psychologically revealing. He’s currently working on a sequel, which will hit theaters this May.

Pascale’s book is carefully researched and documented, and it gives the reader a good idea of Whedon’s personality, thought process, and creative approach — no small feat for a narrative that, for the most part, must introduce its topics in chronological order. Pascale quotes Whedon often, and his insight about his own work makes the book a pleasure to read. After a conversation with composer Stephen Sondheim — who tells him, “I will always write about yearning” — Whedon starts wondering what his own chief motivation is. “Helplessness was what I realized was sort of the basic thing,” Whedon says. He varies the idea slightly in another context: “We, all of us, are alone in our own minds. … Loneliness and aloneness — which are different things — are very much, I would say, [among the] main things I focus on in my work.” Even The Avengers, Whedon says, is “a film about lonely people, because I’m making it, and my pony only does one trick.”

July 25, 2014

A glimpse of Firefly Online

Filed under: Gaming, Media — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 12:59

Published on 24 Jul 2014

Firefly Online (FFO) is an online strategic roleplaying game set in the universe of Joss Whedon’s cult classic TV show – Firefly.

Players take on the role of a ship captain as they hire a crew and lead missions, while trading with and competing against millions of other players like themselves. Much like the crew of Serenity, the Firefly-class transport ship featured in the original show, players must do whatever it takes to survive in the Verse: find a crew, find a job and keep flying.

Currently in development for PC, Mac, iOS and Android. For more info or to register go to www.keepflying.com.

May 7, 2014

QotD: Firefly‘s Kaylee

Filed under: Humour, Media — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 00:01

When I first auditioned for Firefly, I read the breakdown of the characters and the one that caught my eye was River. I read it and I thought, “Oh that sounds meaty, I like that.” There was a lot of crying and hysteria and every actor wants to do that. But then I read Kaylee, and they said, “Well actually Joss wants to see you for Kaylee,” and I thought “Oh,” because it said “chubby” on the breakdown, and I’m not chubby, and I didn’t know if they meant ‘Hollywood chubby’ or what. So I put myself on tape and kind of forgot about it, and then a few weeks later I got the call and I flew down to meet Joss, and he told me flat out. He said, “You know I need this character to be full of life, and by full of life I mean she has to look like she enjoys life. She has to look like she eats a burger now and then, and drinks a few beers once in a while.” He didn’t want her to be a typical size zero actress, which I understand. I’m naturally this way. I was a little taken aback because I’m really into yoga, and I like to stay healthy. But I loved the role so much it wasn’t like I was going to say no. So I just stuffed my face for about three weeks, and got to eat lots of mayonnaise. I got to eat doughnuts every morning and I felt so sick because I was so full all the time, but I had to keep eating like that to keep the weight on. It was interesting. My husband loved it — guys apparently like a little weight on women! It was awesome.

Jewel Staite, speaking onstage at the “Fusion” convention, 2004.

April 21, 2014

English borrowings from Chinese

Filed under: China — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 08:20

The Wall Street Journal‘s China Real Time section wonders why we haven’t seen much linguistic small change from China filtering into everyday English:

As languages go, English is a notoriously promiscuous one, borrowing caricatures from Italian, chutzpah from Yiddish and faux pas from French.

And yet despite the English-speaking world’s deep and wide confluences with Chinese culture, for some reason, few Chinese words have lately entered the English-speaking world’s vocabulary.

China’s state media is hoping that could change: Last week, it cited several Chinese entries that have recently appeared [at] UrbanDictionary.com. “English speakers may soon be saying ‘you can you up, no can no bb’ in response to criticism,” the official Xinhua news agency said, referring to a Chinese phrase that means if you can do it, do it, and if you can’t, don’t criticize others. (The original Chinese is你行你上,不行别BB. In Beijing dialect, “BB” means to nag or complain.)

[…]

On the English side, resistance to Chinese words doesn’t seem to be a simple difficulty of pronunciation: though Mandarin’s different tones may be daunting, the basic syllables are easy enough, and the trickiness of French or Japanese pronunciation (coup d’etat, karaoke) hasn’t stopped English from embracing words from either language.

And there are plenty of words that would seem ripe to jump the Pacific: Here at China Real Time, one particularly accessible term, mafan — meaning a hassle, or difficulty — could be easily adopted by English speakers (and in fact already has been by many on staff). And who could resist the roll-off-the-tongue ease of mamahuhu, a term that means “so-so”? (The literal translation is “horse horse tiger tiger.”) Maybe, as some theorize, it’s just a matter of time, as China’s reach grows, and exchanges continue to deepen.

Oddly, some of the most colourful terms listed here haven’t yet become common:

15) Stupid Inbred Stack of Meat
笨天生的一堆肉。・ BUN tyen-shung duh ee-DWAY-RO
On a visit to one of Mal’s old Army buddies, Monty, on an uninhabited moon, Mal and crew encounter “Saffron”, the beautiful con-artist who once tricked Mal into marriage, and nearly stole his ship (played by the absolutely magnificent Christina Hendricks); this time, she’s taken the name “Bridget” and married Monty. A short tussle ensues between her and Mal (lucky bastard) which Monty breaks up as Mal explains the details of their shared history. When Saffron, who had been denying everything, lets it slip that she knows Mal’s name, Monty abandons her on the barren lunar surface. She screams this bit of Mandarin to the heavens as his ship departs. This phrase is also noteworthy for its use on the back cover of Serenity: The Official Visual Companion, where Chinese characters inform prospective buyers: “If you don’t buy this book, your friends will think you’re a stupid inbred stack of meat.”

[…]

6) Filthy Fornicators of Livestock
喝畜生雜交的髒貨 ・ Huh choo-shung tza-jiao duh tzang-huo
As a clergyman, Shepherd Book is usually denied the use of the kind of innovative vulgarity the rest of the crew enjoys. Sometimes, however, a particular sight inspires even a man of the cloth to throw down with the best obscenity slingers. Book offers this exclamation in response to crime boss Adelai Niska’s reprehensible act of sending the Serenity‘s crew their kidnapped Captain’s severed ear. Fun fact: the Firefly-Serenity Pinyinary offers translations of not only the entire phrase, but of the component words. We mention this in case anyone might be wondering if this translation is simply a more polite way of saying “Dirty Cow Fuckers”. It isn’t. Foreign languages are fun, huh?

5) Motherless Goats of All Motherless Goats
羔羊中的孤羊 ・ Gao yang jong duh goo yang
Another slice of pure Mandarin what-the-fuckery, this time from Wash, who has the honor of delivering some of the most outrageous Chinese dialogue this side of a Beijing mental hospital. Wash mutters this under his breath when he learns that Magistrate Higgins has put a landlock on the ship — his consternation doesn’t last long, for only a moment after noticing the lock, it was removed. Only Inara knows why (she was hired to deflower the Magistrate’s son, and accomplished making a man of him a bit too well for the senior Higgins’ liking).

4) Holy Mother of God and All Her Wacky Nephews
我的媽和她的瘋狂的外甥都 ・ Wuh duh ma huh tah duh fong kwong duh wai shung
This may be the most awesome phrase we’ve ever heard in any language; only its lack of vulgarity kept it from breaking the Top Three. Once again, it issues forth from the mouth of Wash. In “Our Mrs. Reynolds,” we first encounter the deliciously devious ginger con-babe, Saffron. After leading Mal to the “Special Hell”, she proceeds to the cockpit where she puts the moves on poor Wash. Only his devotion to Zoe keeps him from succumbing to Saffron’s charms — devotion that earns him a roundhouse kick to the head. This marvelous line is his singular response to Saffron’s advances.

August 13, 2013

The Gamers: Lodge’s Firefly Rant

Filed under: Media — Tags: — Nicholas @ 10:56

BONUS SCENE: Lodge tells Leo exactly how he feels about his favorite shows and the networks that cancelled them. Visit http://www.watchthegamers.com to watch all of The Gamers: Hands of Fate, beginning August 15th!

July 20, 2013

“A man walks down the street in that hat, people know he’s not afraid of anything” – except copyright lawyers

Filed under: Law, Media — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 08:41

At TechHive, Leah Yamshon talks about the fuzzy edge of law in the fan community:

Undying devotion to your favorite TV show can lead to much worse than a sedentary life parked on the couch. For Stephanie Lucas, it threw her right in the middle of an intellectual-property lawsuit: In March she was hit with a cease-and-desist order from 20th Century Fox Television.

Her actionable offense? She was selling a knitted hat inspired by a Fox TV show on Etsy.

Lucas is a member of the Firefly fan community, a group dedicated to Joss Whedon’s short-lived “space western” series that originally aired on Fox. “I’m absolutely in love with this show and its characters,” Lucas says. And thus her shop features one special item dedicated to her fellow Browncoats (a nickname for the Independence fighters in Firefly, and now for the fans themselves).

[…]

The Etsy market is full of unofficial, handmade hats.

The Etsy market is full of unofficial, handmade hats.

Fans who had been knitting these hats for years were now screwed, thanks to Fox’s claim that they broke the law after the official version debuted. But which law?

“Merchandising rights is a monster that has grown without any proper legal backing,” says Madhavi Sunder, a professor of law currently at University of California, Berkeley, with a specialty in intellectual property and culture. “Under traditional copyright law, the exclusive right to make these goods is not there,” she says. The U.S. Supreme Court has made no rulings in regard to merchandising rights, so intellectual-property violations have to be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Intellectual property is protected under both trademark and copyright, but the two concepts are different: Trademark protects names, terms, and symbols used to identify an original work or brand, and copyright protects the creative work itself. According to U.S. copyright law, the only groups with the right to distribute works based on an original creation are copyright holders. So, technically, only the original story creators are allowed to make pieces featuring images and concepts for which they hold the copyright.

July 18, 2013

Firefly Online game announcement

Filed under: Gaming, Media — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 09:59

Firefly Online (FFO) is a multi-user, social online role-playing game that will initially be available for smartphones and tablets, including those based on iOS and Android operating systems.

Check out updates and pre-register at www.keepflying.com

From the official site:

Firefly Online is a social role playing game (RPG) based on Firefly, Joss Whedon’s cult-hit television series. Firefly Online (FFO) is currently in development for iOS and Android, and may expand to include additional platforms.

In Firefly Online, players assume the role of a ship captain as they hire a crew and seek out adventures, all the while trading with and competing against the millions of other players to try to survive in the Verse: find a crew, find a job, keep flying.

FFO provides a variety of gameplay activities and systems so that players can fully experience life in the Verse.

  • Assume the role of a ship captain — create a crew and customize a ship
  • Aim to misbehave in space and planet-side adventures
  • Cross-platform player experience across devices (pick-up and play from anywhere)
  • Unique social features connecting Firefly fans
  • Create a shiny ship and explore the Verse

June 1, 2013

You can never have too much Firefly

Filed under: Humour, Liberty, Media — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 00:01

November 3, 2012

Firefly references on Castle

Filed under: Humour, Media — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 09:29

July 12, 2012

Firefly 10th anniversary TV special to air in November

Filed under: Media — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 00:03

James Hibberd has the details:

To celebrate the cult-favorite sci-fi drama’s 10th anniversary, Science Channel is shooting a new one-hour special chronicling the Firefly cast reunion at Comic-Con this week.

The special — titled Browncoats Unite — will include footage from Friday’s reunion panel, featuring several members of the original team including star Nathan Fillion and creator Joss Whedon. Plus, the cast is shooting an in-depth behind-the-scenes roundtable interview that will dive deeper into burning fan questions about the beloved series. Both the panel and the roundtable will be moderated by Entertainment Weekly‘s own Jeff Jensen.

January 5, 2012

Firefly MMO may rise from the dead

Filed under: Gaming, Media, Technology — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 08:53

There’s still hope, Browncoat gamers:

While Multiverse, the development platform that was supposed to be the driving force for possible Buffy and Firefly MMOs, suffered a studio shutdown, the source code lives — and has been snatched up by the newly formed Multiverse Foundation. Fortunately for those who were holding out hope for an online version of Joss Whedon’s scifi western, it looks as though this new company wants to pick up where the previous team left off.

Don’t let your hopes soar too high: this is still very far from being a complete product (and the organization’s website is still in deep lorem ipsum marination). It is, however, a sign that there’s still enough life in the fan community for the Joss Whedon properties that it appears viable for someone to take this on.

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