Archive for the 'Sci-Fi' Category




I was down south recently to view the total solar eclipse (or not view it, depending on how semantic you want to get) .  Tennessee was along the path of totality, and a good friend of mine in Atlanta invited me to come down for the festivities (he was planning to drive to his friend’s place in Tennessee).

Of course, when you’re a BBQ nut, just thinking about the deep south makes your mouth water.  The Bible Belt is the birthplace of pulled pork and ribs and I’m pretty sure they refer to it as a “belt” since it has to regularly be loosened to accommodate all that delicious BBQ!

Basically, I let my stomach do the decision making when I have an offer to visit the south.  In this case, the eclipse provided an excellent excuse (although, if it means good BBQ, an invitation to view an empty parking lot would have been just as tempting).

We decided to take the long way during our drive from Atlanta to Tennessee, specifically so we could pass through Alabama and visit Unclaimed Baggage, the most unique and amazing second-hand store in the country (but that’s a story for another post).

Three hours and a car full of bargains later, it was time for lunch!  And when you’re hungry in Madison, Alabama, you visit Greengier BBQ.


Not that there’s a lot of other choices.  The location borders on the surreal and for miles in every direction, there is nothing but dirt roads, farmland and abandoned gas stations. There’s so little competition that the restaurant itself doesn’t seem to care that you can’t even read their sign anymore – everyone “just knows” where it is (thankfully it’s named after the street it’s on.  Or is that the other way around?).


Also, as if this place wasn’t hard enough to find, it’s been painted with a rolling, green landscape – essentially camouflage, given its surroundings:


However, upon walking inside, I was reminded of the 14th Commandment: thou shall not judge a book by its cover.  When new BBQ restaurants aim for authenticity and the right atmosphere, they pretty much borrow the DNA from this place.  The staff doesn’t try to project Southern Hospitality because they embody it.  The family that runs the place is as sweet as the tea, from (literally) Grandma behind the register to the third grade bus boy.

The food came out on a plate larger than the place mat and consisted of carbs, meat, carbs, meat and carbs (I can’t remember the last time a baked potato was included as a standard side dish).  As we enjoyed another round of the free hush puppy refils, I could hear the faint sound of my left ventricle slamming shut.


The food wasn’t the best I’ve had but, in this part of the country, I think quantity sometimes wins out over quality.  We all laughed when the waitress asked us if we wanted dessert but when she told us soft serve ice cream cones were just 25 cents, it was GAME ON.  I don’t care if you’re full and/or disgusted by your own weight – you just don’t walk away from a 25 cent ice cream cone.

Sweet home Alabama!

So, stuffed as a Thanksgiving turkey, we waddled towards the parking lot and squeezed back into the car.  From here, it’s a two hour drive to Nashville and our friend’s house.

Where, I’ve just been told, there will be fresh BBQ waiting for us!



AU REVOIR, old friend


This week brought us the sad news that Babylon 5 co-star and noted political commentator Jerry Doyle passed away.

As most of you probably know, I worked on the series for four years yet only had a handful of encounters with Jerry (our visual effects studio was on the other side of town from where the show was shot). We spent more time hanging out at conventions than on set, but something I can say with certainty is that anyone who knew Jerry for even a few hours probably had the same impression – he was a smart, kind, charismatic guy, quick with a joke and always the life of the party.

Here are a few of the personal moments I remember about the erstwhile Mr. Doyle:

– He was thrilled to be the only human character to survive all five years of the series!
– After hours at conventions, he could always be found at a booth in the bar, nursing a stogie and holding court with as many women that could cram into the seats around him.
– We sat together once at a bar and discussed the fairer sex, clinking glasses every time we agreed.
– Jerry, myself and a small entourage ventured into downtown after the con (which city I don’t remember) to hit up a popular club. It was filled to capacity and the surly looking bouncer wasn’t letting anyone else in. Not one to be refused entrance to a good party, he got us all in by shaking hands with the gatekeeper in a suspicious manner and asking “how about making an exception for Mr. Franklin and his pals?”
– He once ran for local office in Los Angeles and listed one of his qualifications as being “the only candidate with his own action figure.”

If you’re laughing & smiling now, good – that’s the way he would have wanted it.  Jerry had a rare energy that uplifted everyone he met and the world will be a lesser place without him.

Whomever he’s with now, they sure are lucky.



Here’s a great interview with Jerry from 2002:



reposting a classic: STMP “Pon Far” Edition

This was taken off of it’s original link on YouTube, but here it is on a new link (I had some requests for it):

The story behind it:

While we were working on STMP: The Director’s Cut, we were fast forwarding through a cut of the original film and examining the visual FX shots.  Well, while you are zipping through it, you really get a sense of just how much time was devoted to people staring at the viewscreen with incredulous looks on their faces. “It looks like they’re watching a porno movie,” I observed.

And the idea was born.

It may seem like a simple edit, but it was more complex than it looks.  First and foremost, I had to choose a scene from a movie that had no obscene dialog – I wanted the short to be suggestive but not outright perverse; good luck finding THAT in an X-rated movie (I had to do a lot of, um, research).

Next, I needed a scene with enough random audio cues (like moans and other, shall we say “interesting” sounds). Also, it also couldn’t have any music in the background, since I knew I would be editing the scene down from 15 minutes to about 4, and interruptions in music are far more noticeable than in dialog (or whatever you want to call it).

Once I had the right audio track, the rest was easy – I just cut in great reaction shots of the crew to match the audio (my favorite is Ilia’s look during an especially loud female moan). The final touch was a bit of cheesy boom-chicka-boom-boom porn music in the background and voila!  After about two days of work in my free time, a classic was born.

And it was convention safe!




(Without the beam that someone added in the new “best of” book).

Interesting fact: this is based on a scene that was cut from the one and only Ron Moore “Voyager” script, a moment where Borg cubes were supposed to be hovering over a forest, searching for renegades.

The image of trees is an actual photo of a forest that had been decimated by acid rain. Although the credit for the image was given to Steve Burg (an extremely talented man), it was actually conceived and rendered by MOJO.

Steve’s primary involvement was helping me with the near-impossible task of compositing the cubes behind the trees… without his Photoshop help I never would have finished the shot! I remember the late night as his place… We played around with various Photoshop tools until it finally worked :-)

Why was the shot cut? I have no idea. They routinely cut VFX shots from Voyager as being “too expensive” before ever even asking the crew that would be doing the work. It just took a long time for them to finally shake the “motion control & miniatures” mind set – but they finally got on board with what CGI could do for them with the amazing two-part epic “Scorpion.”

I have plenty of stories about the FX for that episode…




Not too long ago it was Pie Day here in the states. That means it was March 14, otherwise known as 3.14. People all over get together, bake pies and share the sugary goodness. I was lucky enough to be invited to such a gathering by my long-time good buddy Chairman, yet I didn’t feel my pie making ability was up to snuff (read: I have never made a pie). So what do you bring to a party of delicious desserts when you don’t bake pie?

Root beer floats!

That’s right, friends: I dug up the old ingredients for the Mojo Float (Bulldog root beer and Haagen Daz Dulce de Leche) and brought them to the party. My secret plan: to steal the pie show with root beer floats!

As I began making the floats and started passing them to the crowd, I was greeted by the same reaction from everyone: WTF? Why are you giving me a root beer float? Who cares? “Just take a sip…” I would suggest. A few seconds later, I pretty much got the same reaction from everyone:


People liked them. I won. Case closed. TRY IT.


iphone + sound machine = blade runner

Pictured above, Deckard swipes his iPhone and orders some Chinese.  Now you can use your precious iDevice to immerse yourself in the world of Blade Runner with an app called Sleep Machine, a neat little program meant to help you sleep by generating ambient sounds like wind, rain, surf and crickets.  Now that’s great if you want to pretend you live out in the middle of nowhere, but can it relax the futuristic city dweller, looking to close his eyes and get lost in the soothing sounds of a dark, yet shimmering urban landscape?

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Happy Birthday Battlestar Galactica!

Thirty Two years ago today, ABC rocked the house with the first-ever airing of Battlestar Galactica.  Killer robots, thrusting spaceships and Lorne Green’s toupe would forever change my world.  It also marked the official start of the 25 year countdown to Ron Moore’s epic re-imagining of the series, which breathed new life into the Galactica franchise and showed the world that you can take science fiction seriously. So, on this fine Friday evening, why not grab a friend (Cylon or otherwise) and tip a glass of Ambrosia in honor of Glen Larson’s little wagon train to the stars that could.


Voting extended!


It seems like yesterday’s post has “inspired” a lot of you, as the voting has gone topsy turvy.  I find this most interesting.  I think I’ll let you guys run with this over the weekend – the voting will end Sunday night/Monday morning at midnight.  You have until then to “be creative.”  The image posted above is Daren’s idea of how to win this contest – just combine the most popular images!  Well, at least they were the most popular until today.  We’ll have the winner and an in-depth analysis of the voting come Monday.  Have a great weekend!



contest cheaters exposed!


One of the cool things about WordPress is they provide you with all kinds of useful data about your blog; not only do you get an accurate count of how many people are visiting and what they’re reading, but it also lets you know where they are coming from.  With one click, I can see which sites are linking to me and how many people visited Darth Mojo as a result of those links.  Naturally, if I see an unfamiliar site suddenly pointing hundreds of people my way, I click over to them to see what all the fuss is about (usually it’s someone telling his or her readers to check out a post).  Today I noticed a few dozen people had been referred to my blog from a discussion group I’d never heard of, so I clicked the link to investigate.  And that’s when I discovered the cheaters.

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halloween star trek mystery


Friday I was assembling a few odds and ends for my last minute costume when I encountered the above abomination at the Halloween store. Generally speaking, they choose a model for the packaging that at least bears some vague physical similarity to the person or character they’re trying to market – but in this case, WTF?!  Obviously they weren’t even trying to go for a Chris Pine lookalike, and he’s fatter than Shatner ever was, so, all I can come up with is they wanted a model that made men say “hell, I’d be a better looking Captain Kirk than this guy!”  Unless the costume is supposed to be bloated Kirk after McCoy injected him with the comedy virus. What was my costume, you ask?

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you know you’re a nerd when…


… you stare at a urinal puck and you see the primary hull of the USS Enterprise.



secret easter egg hiding in “the plan”


Today is the big day, ladies and gentlemen!  Battlestar Galactica: The Plan  hits the shelves on DVD and Blu-ray, and with it so ends the final chapter of the new BSG.  I’m just as sad to see the show come to and end as the rest of you, but don’t get too misty-eyed on me, your old uncle Mojo has a little ‘going away’ present in store!  Of course, each and every one of you should pick up “The Plan” simply because it’s an intriguing film and features a juicy performance by the best bad guy in years, Dean “Cavil” Stockwell – but just in case you were looking for further motivation to add this DVD to your collection, it’s also hiding a very special easter egg…

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phillips, mccreary wow crowd, eat cake


Saturday night in San Pedro, California was heaven on Earth for the nearly one thousand nerds who packed the historic Warner Grand theater to listen to an evening of music from Battlestar Galactica and other sci-fi favorites as part of a big ol’ birthday bash for legendary composer Stu Phillips.  Special guest Bear McCreary (seen above sharing a hug with Mr. Phillips after the final encore) also took the stage and shook the theater to its very foundation with his new BSG composition, proving once and for all that both versions of the series can not only peacefully coexist, but can actually rock the house together! 

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report from concert rehearsal – holy frak!


Tuesday night was the rehearsal for this Saturday’s upcoming sci-fi music concert paying special tribute to composer Stu Phillips.  All I can say is wow.  Hearing a live orchestra belt out those first few notes of “Exploration” from the Battlestar Galactica soundtrack sent a shockwave through me!  I’ve listened to that music gods know how many times but last night it really pounded through my soul – in a good way.  It was also a treat to watch Stu conduct and give direction to the musicians – he may have written this music three decades ago but the passion, energy and dedication on display last night were that of a proud father making sure his newborn child is in good hands.  The guy may be 80 but he demonstrated more gusto that anyone in the house!  In addition to getting a preview of Stu’s set, we heard the suite from Star Trek: First Contact and a piece from composer John Ottmans’s upcoming Astro Boy, but it was Bear McCreary who provided total shock and awe with his newest composition…

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omg! stu phillips plays the galactica theme just for us! (with video)


I recently had the privilege of visiting Mr. Stu Phillips at his home in Studio City where we went over last-minute particulars for his upcoming concert (i’m helping out with a few behind the scenes details).  Regular readers of this blog – and any fan worth his salt – should recall that Phillips is the maestro behind the music from the original Battlestar Galactica, as well as Buck Rogers, Knight Rider and countless other hours of entertainment that has undoubtedly made the world a better place.  As we wrapped things up, I headed for the door and walked past a piano… the very piano that was used to compose the theme music that defined my childhood; the theme that I’ve probably listened to more than any other piece of music in my life (yes, even the theme from Star Wars).  I couldn’t help myself.  “Stu,” I nervously asked.  “Would you be willing to give a fan the ultimate thrill and personally play the theme to Galactica on this piano?”  With his trademark humility and humor, he suggested that I should have higher standards for thrills – but he kindly obliged – and let me make a video of the impromptu performance to share with all of you…

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coolest CGI shot of all time (with video)


A few months back we showed you how we created a brand-new CGI Viper from the original 1979 Battlestar Galactica.  Using a model built by the talented Derek Smith, I painstakingly recreated the lighting and studio look of the TV classic just to see how close a match we could get to the original.  But what about the Galactica herself?  Not too long ago, FX veteran Lee Stringer enlisted a few cohorts and spent quite a bit of personal time building an exact replica of the original filming miniature (as seen above – yes, he did this on his own time) so I thought I’d take a crack at creating a brand new shot of the girl and see how close I could get it to looking like a scene from the original series…

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more lightsaber madness (plus photo contest)!


How do visual effects artists spend their New Year’s Eve?  Lightsaber dueling, of course!  After the international success of yesterday’s lightsaber post, I spent a little time digging through the Mojoplex archives and unearthed these gems from a 2006 New Year’s Eve party – where we offer proof that you’re never too old to not grow up (on the other hand, if you’re easily embarassed, the alternate lesson learned here is that booze and lightsabers don’t mix if you’ve got a digital camera laying around and a friend with a blog). Click through for more pics and the identities of the revelers!

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March 2023