About Me

Rob Pincombe is a prolific television writer, recovering comedian and sometime comic artist/storyboard artist who just wasn't satisfied with a single blog. He writes about sci-fi and fandom at rebelalert.com, Canadian comics at comicanuck.com, and shares thoughts and insights on writing at starkravingadventure.com

Monday, July 20, 2009

Summer BBQ Meal Planning: Darth Chop and Roast Ewok

Welcome to the rebellion.

Thanks to rebel leader Simon Evans at HardcoreNerdity.com, we have finally completed our menu for the Rebel BBQ at our base on Yavin 4 this weekend.

We'll round it out with the Empire's new Darth Chop!

The comments on the post are even more hilarious than the picture if you can believe it. Jonathan Lyre scores my two favourites with "I'm afraid I'm altering the meal. Pray I don't alter it any further..." and "I find your lack of applesauce disturbing...".

Andreas Heim brought two packages of muttonchops to his Denmark home for a BBQ and was stunned at their resemblance to to everyone's favourite Star Wars bad boy. He quickly posted photos of the meat on Twitter then marinated them in organic olive oil, lemon, chili and lemon thyme.

Heim is dedicated, even grilling his chops in the rain. Now that's the kind of rebel we need on our team.

There's grilling...

...And there's grilling.

We've also hired renowned bounty hunter and Chef Boba Fett to take time off from his reality holo-series, Fett's Radiactive Kitchen, to prepare our feast. And he's sharing one his recipes with us today!


Any holiday or festive occasion can bring out the adventurous side in all of us. And what better way to celebrate than to hunt, kill and eat your holiday meal with friends and family. Some warriors believe that eating a beast transfers it's soul into you. That would explain the contented joy one feels after consuming a fresh, well-barbecued Ewok. Trapping these curious, friendly beasts is ridiculously easy. Just stroll through the magnificent forests of Endor holding something shiny in your hand, and several of the inquisitive little rascals will soon show up to investigate. Avoiding the use of explosives in their capture is a must. You don't want to damage the skin - it needs to be intact to hold in all the juices as it bakes. A medium electric charge set for a twelve-foot dispersal ought to be enough to shut down the electrical activity to their brain and provide you with the fixings for your banquet.

Select a Ewok weighing 65 to 75 pounds. Weight may vary so adjust the recipe accordingly. First, you will need to score the skin by scraping away all the fur with a laser torch. If you do not have access to a lightsabre taken from the cold, dead hand of a Jedi opponent, scoop out the innards with a spoon and boil them. When combined with the Ewok's own rich drippings, this will provide you with a a base for gravy and a hearty stew tomorrow. To avoid collapsing of the Ewok while cooking, stuff the abdominal cavity. Rub the cavity with butter and firmly insert a dressing such as bread crumbs, apples and chopped celery, seasoned with salt, pepper and ground sage. Sew up the cavity opening or use a Jedi Cook ™ brand light-skewer (only twelve bars of utanium from Walmart. Boba Fett approved!). Place a meat thermometer in the Ewok's anus, being careful not to hit the bone, which would reflect an incorrect reading. Oh, that reminds me... flush out the Ewok's colon before cooking.

Second, temperature can range from 250 to 350 degrees F at around 25 minutes per lb. Therefore a 70lb Ewok will slow-roast in approx. 1755 minutes, or 1 1/2 Endorian days. You can speed up the process simply by increasing the heat. To roast in half a day add more plutonium briquettes and set the heat to 700 degrees. To roast in 53 minutes set the heat to 11200 degrees. To flash roast in 7.2 seconds use an atomic kiln set at 106 degrees Kelvin, or drag the Ewok through the outer corona of a red sun.

"Mmmm, Wicket smells delicious!"

Place a small wooden stick/block in the Ewok's mouth and, after cooking, replace with a suitable fruit. An apple is traditional, but a pineapple adds a tropical flair. You will need to cover the ears, snout and tail with foil or cheese cloth at some point to avoid burning. These caps should be removed about l/2 hour before the barbecue is completed to obtain a uniform baking color. To make a drip pan, use 3 sheets of heavy aluminum foil molded slightly larger than the Ewok to collect the rich drippings. All cooking is done by reflected heat, not by direct flame. About l/2 hour before the suckling Ewok is done (about 5.7 seconds if flash-roasting), baste generously with the basting sauce and its own considerable drippings.

General Organa plans out the menu and

three-legged race with military precision.

The roast is done when the temperature in the thickest part of the Ewok (the delicious rump) registers 160 degrees. You musn't oversmoke or overcook, but you may want to overeat!

To serve the barbecued Ewok, slice the skin from the base of the tail to the back of the neck and peel the skin down the sides. Carve the ass first, slice the rib sections next, and carve the front shoulders and jowl last.


3 cups honey 4 ounces soy sauce
3 cups orange concentrate
2 cups fresh, ground pineapple
1 package Boba Fett's Ass-terburner Hot Spice ™ (optional)

Mix together and cook the above ingredients for 5 minutes. Liberal usage on partially cooked suckling Ewok enhances the finished entree.

Mmmm! Those cute little suckers make good eating! And you can use the discarded fur to wipe the juices and grease off your satisfied face when you're full.

Please arrive at the rebel BBQ early as we expect long line-ups for potato salad and will likely have only a scant thirty minutes before our small moon comes within firing range of the Death Star.


Saturday, July 18, 2009

Footprints Fading : On 40th anniversary of Apollo 11, NASA discovers tapes erased!

"I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth." - President John F. Kennedy in a speech before a joint session of Congress on May 25, 1961.

"It's too bad, but the way American people are, now that they have all this capability, instead of taking advantage of it, they'll probably just piss it all away." - President L.B. Johnson on the end of the Apollo Space program.

Welcome to the rebellion.

With all of the wonders of the future now in our hands (Light speed travel to distant galaxies, the ability to travel in time and enter the body of various people to help them fix their hash of a life), it can be easy to forget the monumental achievement that the Apollo 11 landing was for man and womankind.

Geese, that was like the stone age then and yet they hit the friggin' moon and came back on the third try! Seriously, with like, rubber bands and hope they walked on the moon. And yes, Canadians had a small role in it according to Canadian Press.

Our Canadarm contribution to the Space Shuttle program, er, sorry, the Shuttle Remote Manipulator System (SRMS), was not our first behind the scenes space assist. The first feet to step on the Moon were not Neil Armstrong's, but rather the Canadian-made legs of the lunar module. Apparently, busy Canadian beavers that we are, we started at the bottom with NASA and worked our way up from the feet to the arms.

But think about this whole, walking on the moon thing.

Let's see, July 16, 1969... Americans and Canadians back then were passing out cigarettes to babies, still thought Vietnam could be won with tanks, were sure oil was a magically, endlessly renewable resource and were treating our lakes and oceans like our own personal toilet (Well, that last one hasn't changed so much). And yet, those NASA badasses and their government worked together to aspire to something greater; to explore space and the moon so that Ron Reagan could later try to make it into his personal, Space Invaders game.

Both the Washington Post's commemorative edition headline and
The Onion's fake headline from their book "Our Dumb Century"
capture the achievement and the moment.

A number of cool things are happening to mark the 4oth anniversary of Apollo 11.

NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) has photographed the area and has identified not just the descent stage but also astronauts footprints and instruments left behind. NASA plans a return to the moon if only to find the keys to Aldrin's old locker at Cape Canaveral. The moon is the only place he hasn't looked for them and his locker is really starting to stink up the place.

Apollo 11 crew: Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and
What's His Name (Command Module pilot Michael Collins).

You can also check the amazing website, WeChosetheMoon.org, which is replaying the mission timeline in real time, so you can wait with baited for each update and follow it along. And wait and wait. It can also be an add-on to your desktop so you can follow mission events as they occur. A very clever way to show a generation hooked on instant news and Twitter what it was to be in suspense as the mission went on. Brilliant.

Buzz Aldrin remains a passionate emissary for the space program and proved he's willing to do just about anything to get the message out. And I do mean anything.

See what I mean? And you have to love the man for it because NASA itself its dropping the ball.

An article in today's
Toronto Sun says the tapes of the original Apollo 11 lunar landing have been lost and likely taped over by subsequent missions. If I taped over my wedding video, my wife would send me to the moon on a one-way trip. But tape over the most historic landing since the early-developing Etta Grandling of my public school dove out of her bathing suit in swim class? That's nuts. (Etta Grandling? You'd think I'd come up with a better name than that for a gag.)

"Take a picture Neil, it'll last longer. Or will it?"

No word yet on whether the season finale of Big Bang Theory was funny enough to warrant using this particular tape.

The really funny part is that Hollywood is coming to the rescue to "restore" images from four copies sitting around across the globe to a pristine image better than anything that existed. The same technicians restored Casablanca and they did a fantastic job (although I still don't buy that Greedo tried to shoot Rick and Ilsa first).

Was it live or was it Memorex?

So, after much has been made by conspiracy theorists about whether or not the Apollo 11 mission was faked, we can now never be sure how much we're seeing is real or movie magic.

The mind boggles.


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Plot Robot! - Wycliffe A. Hill's plot robot begat modern writing bots McKee, Field and Truby

Welcome to the rebellion.

When the work piles up, deadlines loom and second act woes howl at the door, I long for those long-promised future days where we all fly to work in saucers, learn from glowing boxes and eat out of squeeze tubes and pills (okay we're already in some of that future).

But what I really need is my robotic screenwriter.

I'm not talking about plot software. I'm talking about "Shakespeare's Ghost", the honest-to-God, rivet-covered, robotic writing machine promised by the February, 1931 issue of Popular Mechanics:

A mechanical robot that turns out plots for brain-fagged authors is the invention of Wycliffe A. Hill, Los Angeles scenario writer. Christened “Shakespeare’s ghost, “ this device is said to produce a complete outline of a fiction story in twenty minutes, to an accompaniment of whirring gears. It selects background, characters and dramatic situations from a series tapes.

Heh heh... brain-fagged. That's definitely my new favourite term for the fog that descends after several hours of straight work past the point where your brain has checked out but you're still typing away.

SG (whom I would dub "Sir Tippy Tappy" or "Shakesy G"), could take meetings with my producers and networks and record exactly what they want (within pre-programmed parameters) and he'd be a lot cooler about changes or cuts made with no thought to plot or character. Those times when he did lose his cool all that exasperated heat could be piped out through his metal, stovepipe, chimney head.

The astounding story is detailed by Paul Collins over at Slate Magazine's Summer Movies Special issues.

Most excellent by Design Crux's John
Soellner shows off his retrofuturistic touch.

SG was one of many variations on Hill's sales pitch for ease of scriptwriting. If only he had used it for his own career, which apparently stopped pretty much dead by the 1920's. But the "profoundly obscure" writer of silent cinema, along with French critic Georges Polti, laid the groundwork for an entire industry built on the promise to reveal the secret formulas of dramatic writing. Formulas that would allow every journeyman, hack , and desperate wannabe scribes to create stories that would touch the widest audience possible.

Yup. We have Wycliffe A. Hill to thank for Syd Field, Robert McKee, John Truby and even Linda Seger. Let us hope that their lives don't follow the same destructive path Hill's did. Though his formulas, delivered in the form of books, board games and good ole' SG sold, none of his later screenplays did. He grew so desperate he got involved in trying to locate a San Quentin convict's hidden stash of stolen loot and attempted to sue the man for breach of contract when he couldn't find it.

I'm sure I'd find Hill's robot writer charming for awhile but soon I'd be all chuffed up to create my own work again. Inspiration, creativity and a grudging work ethic will do that to a screenwriter. I'd place SG in a closet and cover hm carefully with a cloth, wondering if I have the time to organize a yard sale someday soon to give him a new home. And then I'd get down to work.

Oh darn, my office door is open and the television in the next room is distracting me.

If only I had a door-closing robot to help me with that.

Thank you, my dear Dr. Dippy Door.


This is a mirror post from my writing blog, www.starkravingadventure.com.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Summer Reading : Leiningen versus the Ants and The Most Dangerous Game

Welcome to the rebellion.

In keeping with the last post about a giant colony spanning the globe, we suggest taking a little time to enjoy one of the greatest, short, action stories ever written, Leiningen versus the Ants by Carl Stephenson.

Just under 9000 words of pure adrenaline first published in the December, 1938 issue of Esquire magazine.

Most of Stephenson's books were non-fiction works on Mediaeval Europe and according to his author bio, his literary agent suggested that Leiningen was be the only story he "would allow to be published in his lifetime."

Then again, the story is perfect and any other attempts to craft another would likely pale in comparison so it's hard to blame the intense German for stopping there.

The crackling tale was made into The Naked Jungle with Charlton Heston and Eleanor Parker in 1954. In 1954, the great Steve Ditko provided his own variation of the tale for Charlton Comics' Strange Suspense Stories #20. But the lead character in "Von Mohl vs the Ants" suffers a somewaht less heroic fate than Stephenson's lead.

And while you're at it, check out my latest www.comicanuck post, which recommends one of the most famous short stories of all-time, Richard Cornell's The Most Dangerous Game, also known as The Hounds of Zaroff. The tale is rightly famous for its own tension-packed prose but even more so for spawning a cottage industry of endless remakes of its plot!

The first film officially based on the story (The Most Dangerous Game) was shot in 1932 at the same time as King Kong, and utilized the same sets as a cost-saving measure. It starred Joel McCrea and Faye Wray did double scream duty on both films.

Do these tree bridges look familiar?

Since then, we've seen endless versions of that tale, in which a hunter stalks the world's most dangerous game, man! (Cue tense, thriller music)

Cornell was one of America's most noted short story authors but was also a successful journalist and screenwriter, including Tropic of Capricorn and Meet John Doe.

The best solution I've heard for dealing with an ant attack was to pour chocolate over them and feast! Bwa-hahaha!!



Thursday, July 2, 2009

Giant Ant Colonies Take the World - Mad Scientists the World Over Say, "We told you so!"

Welcome to the rebellion.

Thanks to our friends at the newly revamped Hardcore Nerdity, we've learned that the BBC has at last confirmed what paranoid sci-fi fans the world over have suspected for years.

Giant Ants colonies are taking over the Earth!

According to the BBC online a single mega-colony has inhabited much of the world and mankind is responsible.

Argentine ants living in vast numbers across Europe, the US and Japan belong to the same inter-related colony, and will refuse to fight one another.

The colony may be the largest of its type ever known for any insect species, and could rival humans in the scale of its world domination.

What's more, people are unwittingly helping the mega-colony stick together.

Argentine ants (Linepithema humile) were once native to South America. But people have unintentionally introduced the ants to all continents except Antarctica.

These introduced Argentine ants are renowned for forming large colonies, and for becoming a significant pest, attacking native animals and crops.

In Europe, one vast colony of Argentine ants is thought to stretch for 6,000km (3,700 miles) along the Mediterranean coast, while another in the US, known as the "Californian large", extends over 900km (560 miles) along the coast of California. A third huge colony exists on the west coast of Japan.

Eiriki Sunamura of the University of Tokyo led a team of scientists on Japan and Spain in testing ants "from the main European super-colony, from another smaller one called the Catalonian super-colony which lives on the Iberian coast, the Californian super-colony and from the super-colony in west Japan, as well as another in Kobe, Japan."

When rival ants from smaller colonies were brought together they behaved in the expected territorial manner, fighting where they couldn't simply avoid one another. However, when ants from the supercolonies in Japan, Europe and the ginormous colony in California came together, they displayed none of those aggressive tendencies, rubbing antennas like kissing cousins.

In short, they acted as if they all belonged to the same colony, despite living on different continents separated by vast oceans.

The most plausible explanation is that ants from these three super-colonies are indeed family, and are all genetically related, say the researchers. When they come into contact, they recognise each other by the chemical composition of their cuticles.

"The enormous extent of this population is paralleled only by human society," the researchers write in the journal Insect Sociaux, in which they report their findings.

However, the irony is that it is us who likely created the ant mega-colony by initially transporting the insects around the world, and by continually introducing ants from the three continents to each other, ensuring the mega-colony continues to mingle.

"Humans created this great non-aggressive ant population," the researchers write.

It's kind of like finding out you went to the same Frat House with a stranger. Suddenly, you're friends for life.

Personally, I'm looking forward to a world ruled by our formicidae overlords. I suspect our cities will be run far more efficiently with a lot less waste. Toronto is currently in the midst of summer strike by city workers, and the garbage is piling up. Ant rulers would have that that trash recycled and moved out in no time, and negotiators from both sides would have been eaten or reassigned new duties.

It seems those fifties sci-fi grow more and more prophetic every year. From the "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" pod people we meet at our high school reunions to the "Village of the Damned" experience I had at every niece and nephew's birthday party in the last fifteen years, you can't take a step without without realizing how right paranoid 50's Hollywood was.

And in the case of "Tarantula" and "Them!", two movies based on large, multi-legged creatures growing to gigantic proportions and running amok, Hollywood only got one thing wrong. It was the colony that grew gigantic, not the ants themselves... yet.

But as the colonies grow and take over, so too will the ants. After eating themselves on four fifths of humanity they will put us to work in the sugar cane fields, maple syrup smoke houses and Sweet N' Low refineries while they gain incredible bulk from gorging themselves on the remaining stock left behind in every fast food restaurant in the world. They may grow so rotund they won't even be able to march to power. We'll have to carry them there in great dung and leaf litters.

Unfortunately, none of this is likely to come to pass. Timing is everything in the ant eat ant world of global domination. And I'm afraid our insect foes, the Linepithema humile formerly known as Iridomyrmex humilis, may have waited too long to make their threat known. You see...

The jellyfish beat them to it.

Last year National Geographic's Explorer, which gets more hyperbolic with each passing season,informed the world that the Jellyfish Invasion has begun! According to Explorer, the Attack of the Killer Bees and the Monster Fish of the Congo were just the start. The Jellyfish have already begun their assaults, striking around the world in overwhelming, icky, globby force.

A brave Scottish Navy Seal engages in one on one combat

with an elite jellyfish warrior. Who will survive? Photo: Paul Sutherland

The National Science Foundation in Arlington, Virginia confirms the danger in a report entitled "Jellyfish Gone Wild". Again, most of the causes for the rise in the jellyfish population are man made: overfishing, pollution, climate change and the decline of their main predator, the sea turtle. The jellies not only are one of the only creatures able to survive and thrive in the 400 unoxygenated dead-zones in our oceans but they also attack fish mankind needs to feed their sushi habit.

This "Beware of Jellyfish Invasion" sign in Australia ain't gonna cut it.

We need a plan people! Photo by Jamie Seymour, James Cook

University, via www.nsf.gov.

According to Oceana.org has also written about the wave of jellies and describe a 1999 incident in the Philippines where the jellies clogged the intake pipes of a power plant and caused a massive blackout. Obviously, their plan of attack is to sow fear and terror and then float on to victory.

Reports have been coming in form across the globe. Attacks have occurred in Hawaii, Boston, Spain, and Ireland. The unprecedented Irish assault wiped out 100, 000 farm salmon in a jellyfish massacre involving "billions of jellyfish drifting in a 10 square-mile swarm". The attack has Scotland's salmon producers on high alert waiting for an attack on their own fish farms.

Leave it to those hearty kiwis in New Zealand to be blasé about the whole thing, insisting their Queensland beaches are as safe as ever. But the rest of the world? Not so much. If only we could summon Gamara, the 75-foot flyin', fightin', frisbee-like, Japanese, tusked, sea turtle and friend to all children. He could halt this deadly invasion with week's worth of brunching on the gelatinous beasts.

These Japanese fishermen long for the simpler days

when all they had to worry about was Godzilla capsizing their trawler.

So sorry to break it to you ants. Your patient takeover was brilliant ans subtle but the Jellyfish beat you to it with chutzpah and sheer strength of numbers. Let the battle for supremacy over land and sea begin!