At least two things happened in the world of science and fiction last week, and one was cool and the other was crap.
Coolest alcohol-tinged recruitment effort that involved science fiction, antiracism, and M&Ms: Last night at Madison's Wiscon science fiction convention, the Carl Brandon Society threw a party and recruited new members by harnessing the power of scifi author Claire Light behind the bar. The Carl Brandon society offers scholarships and prizes for science fiction writers of color, and membership is only $25. A price everyone gladly paid after Claire (pictured) kept handing out C52s — tiny drinks featuring three layers: Grand Marnier, Bailey's, and coffee liqueur (with an M&M in the bottom, so the C is for "chocolate"). You have to drink it in one gulp, or the Bailey's curdles. After a few gulps, some shit-talking about Martian colonies, and a dissection of the imperialist politics in vampire novels, I joined the society. And so did everybody else. Who says good causes don't have to be fun? Click through for the crap award (yes there will be some spoilers).
Crappiest effort to pay homage to a once-great franchise, while also failing to pay homage to 1950s science fiction and misapplying CGI ant swarms:
Sure, I said Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was a fun afternoon diversion, but that doesn't mean it wasn't total crap. I love Indy, and I loved the "alien skull" premise of this film, and yet the more I thought about it, the less I liked it. The ending felt like bad TV. And no, it's not cool or neato that Indy was able to survive a nuclear bomb blast by hiding inside a refrigerator. I can believe that he might escape a giant zooming rock by the skin of his teeth, but a nuclear bomb? That stretches the bounds of credibility so far that I'm not having fun anymore. I'm just feeling condescended to. Plus, as many io9 commenters already noted, the CGI ants were crap. Swarm of ants = good. Swarm of ants so fake they look like a batch of angry M&Ms (and not the good kind you can drink with the Carl Brandon Society) = crap.
Plus, why did putting the crystal skull inside a burlap sack prevent it from being magnetic? Oh I know: probably the same forces that made gold and gunpowder ferromagnetic in the movie. The force of crap.