The Underground — Issue #86
Everything you need to know about in this weekly series: A beautiful video of lightning, a look at a possible future 100 years from now, the film adaptation of an unfilmable graphic novel, and a book by the author of Ready Player One that you must read ASAP.
At Social Underground we go beyond the mainstream stuff and see what’s underneath the surface. What should we get into, listen to, read, eat or watch? If there is something in our culture that needs attention that’s our job: Show you the underground things that you need to know about: Books, music, television, movies, comedians, art, and whatever else we can find to get you into something you never knew about. That’s The Underground.
1. 2 and a half minutes of a beautiful lightning storm. One of the best parts about living in Michigan is the storms. Rain is lame, but when you get a thunderstorm, looking out of the window is a real treat. I used to live in a how with a huge overhang on the porch. We’d sit out and watch thunderstorms as if they were a sporting event. We’d look at the color of the sky before the storm, constantly check the radar on TV, take pictures, and really take in the event that was happening. Storms are something to embrace (unless there is flooding, tornadoes, damages… pretty much the bad stuff).
This amazing video of lightning was taken by photographer Ron Risman in Kansas. Like I said, I love me some storms, but I would probably want to seek shelter if I as in that field. It looks as if it was taken from a sci-fi movie or something. Not Twister. That movie was a pile of garbage that was topped with Helen Hunt. Why was the cow flying by the truck yet the truck was completely unmoved? Whatever.
Check out this wonderful video of nature showing you the real fireworks.
2. A look to the future 100 years from now. When we were little, all we heard was what the future will bring us. It’s 2016! We live in the future, but it’s a little hard to notice since the technology increases day by day. Thing about it: you probably have a smartphone, laptop, super video games, a car that can travel hundreds of miles, medical care that can save you from harm, and more. That’s the future. We live in it, but in 100 years, who knows what will be available? Samsung and Futurism.com does, and they created a nifty little infographic that will make you want to jump in a time machine.
A lot of it looks amazing, but the man/machine mixing is a bit concerning. Then again, we’re already doing that. At what point does a person label themselves as no longer human. There are people now that have implants, robotic limbs, and other stuff that isn’t a part of them when they were born. We’re becoming the Borg from Star Trek. Just kidding, we’re still human. I just hope we get our space travel game together by then. This not going past the moon stuff is lame.
Have a look at a possible future:
3. A look at the development of the unfilmable graphic novel Watchmen. I actually liked the movie adaptation when I finally got the ultimate cut of the film. The opening scene is a beautiful opening that even the biggest hater will acknowledge as good. The problem is that the comic was so radically different that it was labeled “unfilmable” because unless you match the colors, scenes and dialogue perfectly, it won’t work.
Zack Snyder can film a movie to make it look pretty, but the changes in the film make some elements pointless. Ozymandias has a pen lion thing that is directly related to the end of the comic. Once the end comes and the ending is different, I just sat there wondering what the hell the point of keeping his pet is. It’s no longer part of the plot if the ending isn’t the same.
The acting was great minus Malin Ackerman. She’s not a good actress in this movie, but she does look better than in the comic. In the comic, she looks like a dated superhero that wears an embarrassing costume. In this she wears something that fits the tone of this movie. Dr. Manhattan (naked blue guy) is played to perfection by Billy Crudup. I don’t know why Crudup is not winning awards left and right. He kills it in everything he’s in. If you don’t feel like looking him up, he’s the guitarist in Almost Famous that yells, “I’m a golden God!”
This is bordering on a review, so check out this look back at this film. Also, go buy the graphic novel. It one of the best books I have ever read.
4. Armada is a book you need to read if you love Ready Player One.
Years ago I read poetry by Ernest Cline. It was hilarious and full of talent. Then I saw that he wrote a movie called Fanboys. The movie was based around a group of guys trying to break into George Lucas’ house so they can see The Phantom Menace. They try this because one of the kids has cancer and won’t live to see it. It’s the only instance where The Phantom Menace brings up good feelings. It was a solid movie (also Kristen Bell is in a Leia bikini at one point).
Premise: Zack Lightman has spent his life dreaming. Dreaming that the real world could be a little more like the countless science-fiction books, movies, and video games he’s spent his life consuming. Dreaming that one day, some fantastic, world-altering event will shatter the monotony of his humdrum existence and whisk him off on some grand space-faring adventure.
But hey, there’s nothing wrong with a little escapism, right? After all, Zack tells himself, he knows the difference between fantasy and reality. He knows that here in the real world, aimless teenage gamers with anger issues don’t get chosen to save the universe.
And then he sees the flying saucer.
Even stranger, the alien ship he’s staring at is straight out of the video game he plays every night, a hugely popular online flight simulator called Armada—in which gamers just happen to be protecting the earth from alien invaders.
No, Zack hasn’t lost his mind. As impossible as it seems, what he’s seeing is all too real. And his skills—as well as those of millions of gamers across the world—are going to be needed to save the earth from what’s about to befall it.
It’s Zack’s chance, at last, to play the hero. But even through the terror and exhilaration, he can’t help thinking back to all those science-fiction stories he grew up with, and wondering: Doesn’t something about this scenario seem a little…familiar?
At once gleefully embracing and brilliantly subverting science-fiction conventions as only Ernest Cline could, Armada is a rollicking, surprising thriller, a classic coming of age adventure, and an alien invasion tale like nothing you’ve ever read before—one whose every page is infused with the pop-culture savvy that has helped make Ready Player One a phenomenon.
Sound great? It is. That’s why the rights to the book was purchased for seven figures. His writing is so good that Spielberg is directing Ready Player One. Are his books these heavy, depressing works like Cormac McCarthy? No, but they were works that someone who loves gaming and popular culture can appreciate. He basically writes stuff that he would want to read. Armada is a fun novel that can be adapted into a fun movie. You can head to Amazon and buy it now.
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Jeff Sorensen is an author, writer and occasional comedian living in Detroit, Michigan. You can look for more of his work on The Huffington Post, UPROXX, BGR and by just looking up his name.