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Month: August 2002


I have very fond memories of The Westing Game. Today, I stumbled across a link to an Ellen Raskin page of rare quality. Turns out she was a graphic designer and an illustrator as well.

The page includes scans of her original manuscript for The Westing Game and a pretty extensive discussion of her typesetting directions. Good reading. There’s also, of course, a bibliography and biography.

Dreaming in pixels

Simone is a pretty good science fiction comedy, and I’d recommend seeing it before it leaves the theaters. I’d been looking forward to it for a while; Andrew Niccol directed Gattaca, which was one of the better SF movies of the 1990s. Since then, he wrote The Truman Show, confirming my belief that he has an understanding of deep SF themes.

One big difference between Simone and Gattaca is that Simone’s a comedy. Niccol had trouble getting into the rhythm of comedy early on, but fortunately he had Al Pacino (as Viktor Taransky) and Catherine Keener (as Elaine Christian) to smooth over those rough bits. The pair of them carry the movie over the early awkwardness, and the core themes of the movie take us the rest of the way.

Evan Rachel Wood, as Taransky’s daughter Lainey Christian, was not so good. I could have sworn she was in her twenties after seeing the movie, although she turns out to be just fifteen — but she plays the role very collected, very calm, and not really very much like a teenager. Come to think of it, several of the performances could be best described as “detached.”

That might perhaps be Niccol’s direction. Gattaca was very stylized and detached, and of course in some ways The Truman Show was a movie about detachment, so I’m willing to suspect that he brought that tendency to Simone. Again, though, Pacino and Keener humanize the movie, giving it the connection to the audience that a good comedy needs.

The ideas at the core of the movie are sound. Don’t expect accuracy of technology — even if we had the ability to do what’s depicted in Simone, the technology wouldn’t propagate in the same way. It’s a metaphor of a movie, not to be taken totally literally. (Which doesn’t make it not SF. See also The Space Merchants, for example.)

What’s the metaphor about? Identity, of course. The question at hand is not “will people be fooled by Simone,” but “what is Simone in relationship to Viktor Taransky?” It’s probably no surprise that I was fascinated.

I hope Andrew Niccol decides to make more comedies, and I hope he learned from watching his actors — his themes are always fascinating, and working in the comic genre gentles the sharp angles which his scripts all seem to have. But either way, I’m going to continue looking forward to everything he does.

A professor speaks

Jeff Cooper is an actual law professor, and so much more qualified than I to discuss the legalities of declaring war on Iraq sans Congressional approval. He read the Security Council resolutions I referenced earlier and reports that their goals have been achieved. So there you go.

Parenthetically, and I mention this because it’s been brought up from time to time, Clinton also used the 1991 Security Council resolutions as justification for military action against Iraq. So it’s not as if Bush doesn’t have some precedent. Clinton’s stance was that enforcing the no-fly zones was a means of preventing further Iraqi aggression against neighboring states, which was in fact mandated by the UN. Although the UN didn’t approve the no-fly zones. Muddy waters.

Minature grassroots

Won’t you join me in my quest to convince WizKids Games to release a Grant Morrison miniature for HeroClix DC? Grant’s a legitimate character (with superpowers) in the current DC continuity, having appeared briefly in Suicide Squad Volume 1, issue 58. Thus, he’s appropriate fodder for a HeroClix minature.

I encourage you to write politely registering your interest in such a figure. It’s probably good to mention that Morrison exists in continuity, as per my geekish notes above.

I got back a nice response to my email:

Dear Bryant,

Thanks for your email. I’m glad you are enjoying HeroClix. We do appreciate hearing from our fans about what they would like to see in future expansions, even if we can’t always accommodate the request. I have no idea what characters will be included in any future expansions. Game Design likes to keep the figures a secret until they are announced.

Best Regards,


So there you have it. You’ll be appreciated. How often do you get the chance to be appreciated just for writing an email?