Video: Firefly Reunion Panel at SDCC ’12

Do I need to say more than that?

Here ’tis…

Oh how I miss this show. And I’m looking forward to the announced reunion show this November!

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Book Review: 2012: The Secret of the Crystal Skull by Chris Morton and Ceri Louise Thomas

Hi there!

The Mayan calendar poses an interesting challenge to thinkers in the modern age. On one hand, it is one of the most complex and accurate astronomically-based calendars that we have found in mankind’s historical record. And on the other, it predicts, according to some anthropologists and archaeologists, the end of time on December 21, 2012.

As always, humankind has very different responses to this date. Some claim it signals an apocalypse or armageddon. Others say that it will bring a sea change to human consciousness. Still others say it will be just another day on Earth. I have to admit that I fall into the last category, though I’ll be interested to see what happens in three years.

It was obvious that authors Chris Morton and Ceri Morton Thomas put a ton of hard work and research into their book 2012: The Secret of the Crystal Skull. And it provides yet another point of view on the subject. Their protagonist, Dr. Laura Shepherd, is an archaeologist with a specialty in Mayan hieroglyphics. When a colleague dies mysteriously in the possession of a strange crystal skull, Shepherd is put in charge of determining where it came from and what its significance may be.

Never has writing a report for a superior provided more of a winding path. Laura’s path takes her to a hidden Mayan temple and into one of the most technologically advanced labs in the United States, not to mention her journey to what may be a parallel universe… But I won’t spoil that spiritual quest for you.

Evidently this novel began as a screenplay that may have inspired Roland Emmerich to create his latest big budget disaster film2012. And the authors’ previous best-seller (The Mystery of the Crystal Skulls) may have inspired the last Indiana Jones movie – Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Cystal Skull. So they seem to have a knack for getting Hollywood’s attention.

It reads like a screenplay a good portion of the time with a ton of visual detail. And though I enjoyed the second half of the book and found the last 200 pages to go extremely quickly, the first half was tough sledding and took a long time to get rolling.

At one point, Dr. Shepherd spends a few chapters reading a journal written in the 1930s by the daughter of the archaeologist who actually discovered the crystal skull on an expedition. I felt that section could have been written to summarize the journal entries rather than including several long, detailed entries in the text of the book. I was reminded of Mary Shelley‘s classic Frankenstein, which is written as a series of journal entries that I have never finished after multiple attempts. So this may be more my failing than that of the authors.

In another part of the book, Dr. Shepherd remembers how her daughter died in a choking accident involving a piece of candy. As a parent, the scene was almost too detailed and graphic to read without thinking about how I would react if faced with the same situation. It was one of the stronger scenes, yet somehow fit awkwardly into the grander scheme of things. Again, I feel it might have been edited a bit to smooth out this rough patch.

However, from the point where Laura enters the jungle in search of the Mayan temple where the crystal skull had been found 80 years ago, I felt more connected to the story. It was at that point that the author’s knowledge of Mayan history and architecture really shined through and the adventure kicked into high gear. From there to the end, it’s a great thrill ride reminiscent of something you’d see in an Indiana Jones adventure.

Ultimately I enjoyed 2012: The Secret of the Crystal Skull by Morton and Thomas, but I wish it got going a bit faster than it did. If you’re fascinated by the Mayan calendar, the impending date of December 21, 2012, and the mystery of the crystal skulls, be sure to check it out at your local bookstore.

–Fitz

p.s. Pick up this book and other 2012-themed media at Amazon!

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DVD Review: 2012: Science or Superstition

Hey all…

On December 21, 2012, the Mayan calendar ends, according to anthropologists and archaeologists. A new cycle will begin at that point. And, whether you’re a skeptic or believer, scientist or historian, there are some interesting facts in the new documentary – 2012: Science or Superstition.

Several authors and scientists discuss the many aspects of the end of the Mayan calendar. Astronomers discuss the rise in frequency of sunspot activity. Anthropologists discuss the techniques the ancients used to predict star patterns across lifetimes and how they traveled various planes of consciousness. And the viewer is exposed to multiple points of view, facts, and conjecture.

Ultimately it’s up to the viewer to decide what they believe. I find myself squarely in the skeptics camp for this one.

It’s interesting to go to the bookstore and see all the titles published around the topic of 2012. Doing a quick search of the term “2012” on Amazon brought up 50 different books and DVDs from a variety of authors and sources, including a Complete Idiot’s Guide to 2012 published in October 2008.

Hollywood has jumped on the bandwagon as well. There’s an upcoming movie based on Whitley Strieber’s latest novel – 2012: The War for Souls is rumored to be in the works with Michael Bay involved as producer or director. And Roland Emmerich has a movie called 2012 slated to come out in November 2009 starring John Cusack as a researcher trying to counteract the events foretold by the end of the Mayan calendar.

Disinformation, the company producing the documentary, attempted to highlight multiple views of the subject matter and interview experts from a variety of disciplines – often conflicting ones – to provide as balanced a view as possible about what 2012 means. The documentary discusses a number of possibilities for what may occur, but doesn’t come out and say that they will happen. The fact that the producers came at the topic from a multitude of viewpoints and scientific pursuits is very helpful to the viewer who becomes hooked by the idea. The documentary provides a jumping off place for viewers to do their own research and come up with their own conclusions.

Some of the people interviewed for the documentary have very interesting backgrounds as well.

Dr. Anthony F. Aveni is a professor of astronomy and anthropology at Colgate University. He helped create the field of archaeoastronomy, and is one of the founders of Mesoamerican Archaeoastronomy. In particular, his research focuses on the astronomical history of the Maya Indians.

Robert Bauval is the author of a number of books discussing the relationship of the stars and ancient cultures, especially in ancient Egypt. His first book, The Orion Mystery, proposed that the layout of the three Giza Pyramids was intended to mirror the layout of three stars in Orion’s Belt. Other books by Bauval include The Message of the Sphinx, Secret Chamber, and The Egypt Code.

Walter Cruttenden is the Director of the Binary Research Institute and proposed an alternate view of history where the sun is one of two stars affecting the orbit of our solar system. This binary orbit theory may in fact be the reason for the repeating cycles of Golden and Dark Ages in mankind’s long history.

Many others were interviewed, including:

  • Archaeologist Benito Venegas Duran, working to preserve and research the historical and anthropological heritage of Mexico.
  • Graham Hancock, another author of such bestsellers as The Sign and The Seal, Fingerprints of the Gods, and other books.
  • John Major Jenkins, a researcher dedicated to reconstructing Mayan cosmology and philosophy.
  • Lawrence E. Joseph, a physicist and writer who has written many books and magazine articles.
  • Jim Marrs, a conspiracy author of such bestsellers as Alien Agenda, Rule by Secrecy, and Crossfire: the Plot that Killed Kennedy. Crossfire was used as the basis for Oliver Stone’s movie JFK.
  • And many others
I found 2012: Science or Superstition to be interesting and engaging, but I’m still a skeptic. In 2012, I’ll be 42 years old — as Douglas Adams said, 42 is the ultimate answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything. Perhaps the Mayans knew something we don’t? Perhaps we’ll find out on December 21, 2012.
If you’re interested in the Mayan calendar and the phenomenon of 2012, I’d recommend you take a look at 2012: Science or Superstition. It’s good to get information from a number of sources before Hollywood gets a hold of it!
Check out 2012DVD.com for additional information about the documentary and a trailer.

–Fitz

p.s. Check out some of the books on 2012 at Amazon!

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