Speculative Fiction Saturday: The Hollow Man

Hollow ManThe only reason I saw The Hollow Man was simply because I could see it for free. I think I saw it on Crackle a while ago, and recently re-watched it because I could see it for free and wondered if it would make a good film for Speculative Fiction Saturday. Clearly the existence of this post answers that question with a “yes”.

The Hollow Man has things working for and against it that are pluses and minuses at the same time. First, it is directed by Paul Verhoeven. If you aren’t familiar with him, think the original Robocop and Starship Troopers. He directed both of them, and if I were to write about those films, which I might, I would say that they are full of violence, but done in a satirical way. Verhoeven tends to show so much violence that I feel that he is making a sort of ironic statement with it, and honestly, I think it kind of works.

Now, this is where the argument for “is there too much violence in cinema” begins, and I really don’t want to write about that. I honestly think that Verhoeven does go overboard with his violence, but I don’t feel that it is overdone with The Hollow Man. In all honesty, there are some scenes in it that could have been a lot worse, but I will get to that.

From what I can tell, The Hollow Man looks to be some retelling of H.G. Wells science-fiction novel, The Invisible Man, and the only experience I had with that was a radio play that I read in grade school. I remember that story was about a man named Griffin, who obtains invisibility and because a psycho with it. The Hollow Man is about a man who also becomes invisible and follows the same path.

One of the things that I like about The Hollow Man is that it attempts to show the psychology of someone who has turned invisible. Now, before Sebastian Caine, played by Kevin Bacon, gets a hold of this serum, he kind of already has this God complex, so I can’t say whether or not the invisibility drove him to be a jerk. In a lot of super-hero stories, the villain starts off as a jerk, but a scientific accident make him a real jerk (think Dr. Doom or the Green Goblin). In Caine’s defense, the idea of being stuck invisible is somewhat frightening, and could drive a stable man into instability with time. Then there is subtle things like how it is difficult to go to sleep when one can see through one’s eyelids.

The Hollow Man could have been a very powerful character-driven science fiction story, but it sacrifices the psychology for special effects and horror-movie action. For some reason, the invisibility makes ones internal organs become visible, which is an effect never really seen in any film except The Mummy. The effect is impressive, and if Caine’s descent into madness was made a more prominent part in the story, The Hollow Man would score high marks in all areas.

As I said before, it could have been worse. There is a scene where Caine rapes a woman who just steps out of the shower, and this could have done in a most gratuitous way. In my opinion, rape is one of those things that never looks good on film, even in a scene that is supposed to be terrifying. The issue with The Hollow Man is that I believe that someone who could turn invisible and ruled without morals would try this.

But what is the whole point of this story? Is it that we should fear having the power of invisibility? That some things we just aren’t meant to have? Or is the story of The Hollow Man about alienation? Perhaps someone can write a really good invisible man story.

Cygnett, Part 3: The Node and Paradox Texture of the iPad Air

Cygnett NodeOkay, it is time for two more products for Cygnett, just what you need for Black Friday! In this case, both of these products are for the iPad Air.

The first is the node, which is a basic folio case, which means that it can be stood up. It has a sort of flap in back to hold the top flap in place, and this good for watching vids or other activities.

Clearly, the Node is not leather, but it is a hard wearing woven material. I am not certain how to describe it, but it reminds me of old hardback books. Yeah, that is about the best I can come up with, but you want to check it out, it can be purchased on the Cygnett site for about $39.99.

Cygnett Blue ParadoxIf it is a different kind of folio case that you are looking for, I would like to suggest the Paradox Texture. This particular case has a soft textured finish, not like the Node.

The Paradox Texture has its own unique style as you can see with its folding flap. I tried it out, and it is very interesting how it folds up, and the flap locks into place with a magnet. I really can’t help but like this design, and think it is downright sexy. In fact, I love to see what else this interesting origami will reveal.

If you want to see this for yourself, go over to the Cygnett site and pay about $39.99.

Solace Au iPhone 5/5S case comes in gold!

Solace Element CaseYes, what you are seeing here is a case for the iPhone 5/5S. This Solace Au (like the element abbreviation for gold) is from Element Case, makers of the Atom and Eclipse cases for the Galaxy S4.

Now, how in the world can I talk about a golden iPhone 5/5S case? Let’s just say that if you are Goldfinger or some other over-the-top rich James Bond villain or Richie Rich, this would be your case. It has “top and bottom crowns”, and I can’t tell if this is the same gold crowns that my dentist use. All right, that was a somewhat interesting thing to say about it.

I mean, it is a gold iPhone case! Headline made! Okay, it has a durable polycarbonate chassis with a soft touch finish. Even the aforementioned crowns are precision CNC machined from T6061 aircraft grade aluminum. It also has a terrific grip and a Quick Draw Pouch. Not bad, not bad at all.

Now, I don’t think this is like solid gold iPhone 5/5S case, or it would be worth more, right? As it is, it costs about $99.95. You can get it on the Element Case site for about $99.95.

Cygnett, Part 2: Alec Wallet for iPhone 5/5S, Workmate Utility for iPhone 5/5S, and Lavish Wallet for the Galaxy S4

Cygnett AlecWell, we are back with some more Cygnett products, and this time, I have three for smartphones. One for the Galaxy S4, and two for iPhone 5/5S.

I’ll go ahead and start with the Alec, presumably named after Alec Baldwin, as it would be perfect for his 30 Rock character. After all, it is made of genuine leather, and considering all of the vinyl products I have seen that look like leather but aren’t, it is refreshing to see the real thing on the Alec.

The Alec has two big features going for it. First, it has that flip design for holding credit cards and cash, which I have seen so often that I am beginning to think it is a standard feature for most cases. Also included is a very hard snap-on chassis, as well as a screen protector.

So not only is the Alec classy, but it also offers some good protection as well. You can get it on the Cygnett site for about $49.99.

Cygnett Workmate UtilityOkay, so let’s talk about the Workmate Utility. While the Alec is big on class with its Genuine Leather, the Workmate Utility is very big on protection. It reminds me of the Otterbox or Lifeproof cases, but it doesn’t seem to be made to survive underwater. This is not to say that it can take the hits or bad conditions that those brand cases are able to do.

However, it has dust and weather sealed ports, and the covered buttons make it a case for not-so-ideal situations. Considering it was designed with “off-road conditions and urban design in mind”, its 360 protective systems is made with quad-material for resisting shock and other damage. If you are interested in it, you can get it on the Cygnett site for about $39.99.

Cygnett Lavish ExecutiveThis leads to the final product for the Galaxy S4 with the Lavish Executive. Now, I am told that this has a “leather-feel” material, so I am guessing it doesn’t have the genuine leather of the Alec.

The Lavish Executive does look pretty classy, and it is lined with microfibres. I am not certain what that is, but I believe it provides more protection. Another bonus is that the user is able to mount this thing in landscape mode, which is good for watching videos and such.

So, if you are looking for some class on the GS4, head over and to the Cygnett site and pay for about $39.99. Okay, that is about three cool products from Cygnett, and wait until we get to Part 3!

It’s a Merry Speck-mas: HandyShell for iPad Mini, CandyShell Grip case for iPhone 5C, and the CandyShell + FACEPLATE for iPhone 5/5S

Speck iPad MiniOkay, this has to be one of the longest titles for a post that I have ever used, but Speck sent me some stuff, and I will be darned if I don’t review it. I will start with the HandyShell for the iPad Mini.

The HandyShell for the iPad Mini is pretty much your everyday case for the iPad Mini. As someone who has some experience with Speck products, you have to like the raised edges that protect the iPad Mini up to the screen. This means that you can lay it down on a table.

Here is what really makes that HandyShell stand out, and stand up. It is that looped handle thing that is made as a stand in portrait and landscape mode. It can also be used for hanging it on something, or a good holding grip. You can get the HandyShell on the Speck site for $49.95.

candyshell iPhone 5CThen there are the CandyShell cases, and I will start with the CandyShell Grip Case for the iPhone 5C. This is a case made for big texters, as it has plastic and rubber grips that will keep it in text-crazy hands.

It also has come tactical thumb bumps, which are ridges that keep thumbs aligned with touchscreen buttons. There are two layers of protection, and raised bezel to keep the screen safe. If you like it, you can get it on the Speck site for $34.95.

Now the last is the CandyShell + FACEPLATE, which I can’t find on the Speck site, so I can’t give you a price. It is a CandyShell case with patented protection, and a cushioned interior. The FACEPLATE keeps the screen protected from nicks and scratches, and just about anything else. The FACEPLATE uses TrueTap technology, also trademarked, for a “superior touch response”.

Well, that is a good merry Speck-mas to you. All these are available, or probably will be available on the links listed above.

Cygnett, Part 1: Soundcheck Headphones

Cygnett SoundcheckWell, you know that when I start a headline with a Part 1, this means that there just has to be a Part 2, yes? This is the case with all the Cygnett stuff that has been sent to me, which includes this here pair of SoundCheck headphones.

Believe it or not, it is actually hard for me to review headphones because I always have to say some sort of variation of “they sound good”. These particular ones have some “dynamic sound” and “powerful bass”, and yes, I am just quoting from the company website.

So here is what I know from my experience. I am trying them out right now, and the bass is really making the YouTube video that I am watching really stand out. They also block out the background noise, so use with some caution if you want to enter a new world of sound.

These SoundCheck Headphones are designed for mobile devices, but I’m okay with them on my laptop. Anyway, if you want to get in on these headphones, it costs about $49.99 on the Cygnett site.

The GeekChurch Tip for Surviving Black Friday: Think Zombie Apocalypse

Black FridayDo I need to describe what Black Friday is? I have no idea when Black Friday starts, as it seems to be starting on Thanksgiving these days. Personally, why do we call it “Black Friday”? Are African-Americans offended by this term? I suppose that all the terrifying stories of people rushing to buy cheap deals on the day after Thanksgiving just love to get more and more press each each. We at The Geek Church would like to give some advice on surviving this day.

It can be summarized as follows: Zombie Apocalypse. If The Walking Dead ever actually occurred, you would survive World War Z with these techniques I will give you for surviving Black Friday, but you’ll have to dial it down a bit.

First, headshots are out of the question when dealing with other Black Friday shoppers. In all honesty, I don’t know why a headshot kills a creature whose heart ventricles are leaking out, but hey, we have to assume there is logic in not shooting other living people in the head. My advice is just to shoot Black Friday shoppers in the leg. Once the hostile shopper stumbles, they will be trampled by other shoppers, and you will not technically be guilty of killing them. Also, lego-shots will in turn stop the other shoppers so you can grab what items that you need. So just remember: zombies get headshots and shoppers get legshots. It’s simple.

Second, use everything around you. You know how in zombie films characters just grab stuff right off the shelf and use it to stop the undead? Well, on Black Friday, you have to pay for your improvised weapons. My advice is to grab the items near the door and quickly scan them at the counter before you use them. Now, you will have to arrive early and peak at the window to see just what you can use. I would advise you to find the door nearest the chainsaws. Then run in, grab, scan, and use. Make certain that you can pay for what you weaponize, or it could really choke up the checkout line.

Third, grab only what you need. You know the guy in the zombie film that gets distracted and soon gets swarmed? Don’t let that be you. Just because something is 50 percent off doesn’t mean you just have to buy it. My advise is just what can fit on the cart, and nothing more. Travel light on that cart, too. Don’t over pack that thing, or you will never be able to make turns.

So, that is my Black Friday survival tips. Have a great holiday season, everyone. Hit the jump in case you actually assume that I am serious and cannot discern the difference between actual sincere advice and satire.

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Foldio Foldable Studio made for the smartphone

FoldioI’ve written a few books where I had to take several pictures of something very close-up, and I wish I had the Foldio for it.

Many of the pictures that we see of small items in a catalog are done with painstaking precision. They are a product of getting a background of a solid color, and perfect lighting. All this to create an illusion that this item exists in some alternate dimension, unless you can set it free with your purchase. Okay, that’s a little waxing philosophical, but you see what I mean.

The Foldio is essentially a portable fold-up photo studio, made to be used with the cameras on cellular phones. You can see at my Source a video that shows someone trying to sell a watch on eBay, and this Foldio is definitely the way to go to get that picture you need.

This is a Kickstarter project, and I checked and saw that it has made its $10,000 goal with 400 percent to spare. All in all, I like it, and hope that this will be made for the average Joe to buy.


Paper airplanes get a smartphone treatment with PowerUp 3.0

paper airplaneI don’t know about you, but I always liked paper airplanes. I got pretty bored with them, because as good as a paper airplane is, it will never be like a real airplane.

Now here comes the PowerUp 3.0. It has a device with a Smart Module, which has a small propeller and rudder that you can put on your plane for some extra oomph in your flight. Now I don’t know whether or not this can make a paper airplane fly like a toy model airplane, but it certainly sounds better than a good throwing arm, my Source does say that the plane can keep going for about 10 minutes, provided the Smart Module is fully charged.

The Smart Module works via Bluetooth, and you can control the paper airplane via iOS app. According to my Source, there is all kinds of cool controls like those of a real airplane like “a thrust indicator, range indicator, magnetic compass, artificial horizon, and a lever for ascending and descending. Tilting your iOS device to the right or left controls the steering”.

This PowerUp 3.0 was apparently a crowdfunded project that recently met its $50,000 funding goal. It is now available for about $40.


Digital Treasures The Soldier: A Battery to survive anything

Soldier-Main-Image-StripI have reported about products like Lifeproof which are designed to protect the iPhone or other smartphones from water, dust, and the elements, but what about the mobile battery? Yes, I am talking about products like the Magic Juice and others. Oftentimes, these mobile batteries, which are needed by smartphone users on a daily basis, need as much protection as our smartphones.

This is where the Soldier by Digital Treasures comes in. The Soldier is a mobile charging station that is good for 7800 mAh, and it is good against water, dust, and other rough terrain. The Soldier is designed with an IP67 rating, and I took that from the Press Release. In all truth, I don’t know what makes an IP67 different from an IP66, or even what an IP1 is. The Soldier can withstand water submersion up to 3 feet for 30 minutes.

In case you are wondering, the microUSB and USB ports are sealed against the water. I’ve heard that there are LED indicators on the top to see how much juice is in the Soldier, and I wonder if there is the usual four that I see on these mobile battery devices. By the way, I heard that the Soldier has a flashlight on it, which I have seen on many products like these.

You can get the Soldier for about $89.95 on the Digital Treasures site, and I would imagine it would be a good gift for outdoors types like hunters, fisherman, or…soldiers.