Among the many manifestations of mental illness, psychological and developmental deficits and behavioral disorders regularly portrayed on television and film, conspicuously missing is Asperger’s Syndrome, a developmental Autism-spectrum disorder. ScriptPhD.com eagerly took in a private screening of Fox Searchlight’s thoughtful new film Adam, a sensitive love story with a groundbreaking portrayal of Asperger’s in a leading character. In addition to simply reviewing the film, we wanted to provide a background primer on the basics of Asperger’s diagnosis and treatment, as well as an ensuing discussion of accuracy in portrayal and plot by the filmmakers. To do so, ScriptPhD.com enlisted the help of two leading international Asperger’s experts, Timothy P. Kowalski and Dr. Tony Attwood. Please click “continue reading” for our full story. Continue reading From the Annals of Psychology: ‘A’ is for Adam (and Asperger’s)→
Well, faithful readers, our press room interviews have been transcribed, our complete pictures have been edited and labeled and sleep has still not been had. Someday. To make it easier to enjoy all the Comic-Con goodness from start to finish, we have condensed our four days of coverage in one place. Enjoy and thanks so much for following the journey with us!
Day 1: Includes pictures and scoop from the Warner Motion Comics, Battlestar Galactica Retrospective and Mad Science: The Fiction of Science Fiction panels, and press room transcripts of Psych and Burn Notice.
Day 2: Includes pictures and transcripts from the Farscape 10th Anniversary Reunion and FlashForward panels along with full transcripts from press room interviews with Bones and Big Bang Theory
Day 3: Includes exclusive pictures and videos of the enormous Lost panel/arena rock event and the Futurama! and True Blood panels, as well as press room interview transcripts with talent from Fringe and MythBusters
Day 4: Includes exclusive pictures and transcripts of two final Sunday panels: Supernatural and the long-awaited Comic-Con appearance of David Tennant with the Dr. Who panel.
All four days of coverage include the ScriptPhD.com Costume of the Day, chosen from an array of pictures that you can browse through on our Facebook fan page and extra side interviews and scoop from all the wonderful actors and writers we ran into.
But wait! There’s more! I’ve saved two special surprises for our last post. The first is our ScriptPhD.com one-on-one sit-down with 24 writer/executive producer David Fury. We go in-depth behind the show’s themes of terrorism, torture, national security and how they extend to the real-world law enforcement reaction to the show. We also have a free fan giveaway of three copies of the Comic-Con 2009 40th Anniversary souvenir books handed out only onsite.
Well, the 2009 Comic-Con marathon has come to an end. Sundays at Comic-Con tend to feel like a blissful hangover after a three-day non-stop party. Youre not entirely sure of what just transpired, but you loved it, and have it in you for just a little bit more. And our four-day coverage ends with transcripts and pictures from two fantastic and much-anticipated panels: Dr. Who, the longest running sci-fi show in the history of television, and Supernatural. We also have our final ScriptPhD.com Costume of the Day. Come back to ScriptPhD.com on Wednesday, when we post all the inside scoop and behind-the-scenes action at our press rooms. We will conglomerate our four days of coverage, pictures, interviews and impressions into one post to make it easy for you to get all your Comic-Con goodness in one place. Click continue reading for our final installment. Continue reading Comic-Con 2009: DAY 4 Coverage→
Are you guys still staying strong and ready for more Comic-Con highlights? Good, I thought so. Saturday is always an action-packed highlight day for the Con, with the best of science and entertainment panels saved for last. And this year did not disappoint. We got an up close and personal view of the very last Lost panel ever as we watched right from the stage and bring you great pictures and highlights from the panel. Thanks to two great friends from the production crew, we were able to enjoy the controversial Futurama! panel from backstage, where we caught up with the writers and producers. Along with a full transcript of the highly anticipated True Blood panel, we had two more great press rooms with Fringe and MythBusters. To be a part of the Comic-Con action, please click continue reading. Continue reading Comic-Con 2009: DAY 3 Coverage→
Greetings! Day 2 of Comic-Con was a very scaryspecial occasion: Official Star Wars Day. Yes, the personal hygiene was questionable and the light sabers were many, but the ScriptPhD soldiered on to bring you our coverage of as much science entertainment content as you can pack in one website. Today we start by putting the science in science fiction with the special 10th Anniversary Farscape reunion panel, including information about their new DVD box set release and upcoming projects. ABCs electrifying new science-fiction serial thriller FlashForward provided a world premiere sneak peek of the first 15 minutes of the pilot and a special guest surprised the audience. Our press room coverage from Day 2 includes some phabulous physics with CBSs Emmy-nominated Big Bang Theory, including a one-on-one interview with Emmy nominee Jim Parsons, who talked to ScriptPhD.com about his journey into science and preparation to play a science geek, and Bones, including interviews with star Emily Deschanel and showrunner Hart Hanson. We also have our daily Comic-Con Costume of the Day and the Light Saber Count Tally. Stay along for the ride with ScriptPhD.com. Click continue reading for more! Continue reading Comic-Con 2009: DAY 2 Coverage→
Greetings from sunny San Diego, California! The geekiest of the geeky have gathered at this oceanside oasis for a non-stop four day celebration of comics, television, film and gaming. As Comic-Con gets underway, we here at ScriptPhD.com hope that our comprehensive coverage gives you a slice of the action (especially pertaining to our forte, science and technology in entertainment) and that through our words and pictures, you feel as though you achieved Nerdvana right here with us. Today’s coverage kicks off with Warner’s highly anticipated motion comics panel, where they debuted world premieres of several motion comics and rounded up top talent in graphic novels to atlk about the direction of modern comics. From there, we will segue to some Battlestar Galactica nostalgia, courtesy of Richard Hatch’s popular yearly panel. This year was devoted solely to fan questions! Our press room coverage of popular shows Psych and Burn Notice will quell your burning curiosities about what’s in store for those shows, and we end the day with Discovery Magazine’s panel Mad Science: The Science of Science Fiction (co-sponsored with the Science and Entertainment Exchange), including writers from Fringe, Eureka and much, much more. We also have our first ScriptPhD.com Comic-Con Costume of the Day, a complete pictorial roundup on our Facebook page and insider interviews gallore from your favorite writers and actors! To read Day 1 coverage, please click “continue reading”. Continue reading Comic-Con 2009: DAY 1 Coverage→
Remember earlier this summer when ScriptPhD.com covered the Battlestar Galactica cast and crew’s appearance at the Paley Television Festival and promised you a very special look at the science of Battlestar in commemoration of the DVD box set release July 28th? Well, when we promise something, we deliver. ScriptPhD.com was proud and extraordinarily fortunate to sit down with Dr. Kevin Grazier, the man who made the FTL drive and Galactica’s space endeavors possible. In a candid, thorough interview, we talk about the physics of BSG, the inside secrets behind some of your favorite moments from the show, answer burning fan questions and address some of the controversy surrounding the series finale. Honest, witty, and informative, this is an interview you don’t want to miss! To read it, click “Continue Reading”. Continue reading The Brains Behind Battlestar’s Science: A Conversation With NASA’s Kevin Grazier→
What is it with Hollywood releasing movies that coincide with NASA missions to outer space? Remember when Star Trek came out during the Hubble Telescope repair mission [read ScriptPhD coverage]? Moon, a thoughtful new science fiction indie feature from Liberty Films and Sony Pictures, featuring a near-solo bravura performance by Sam Rockwell, comes on the auspicious heels of NASA’s Lunar Reconnaisance Orbiter mission to remap and fortify our knowledge of Earth’s Moon and surrounding solar system that got off to a spectacular start on June 18th. ScriptPhD.com reviews Moon and discusses the LRO mission, along with some of the first days-old high-resolution topographical beamed moon images and their implications for further lunar missions. To read the article, click “continue reading”. Continue reading Review: To the Moon, Alice! To the Moon!→
House meets The Sopranos—there’s your Hollywood pitch line for the debut novel of talented newcomer Josh Bazell. But it’s so much more than that: part medical mystery, part action-adventure thriller, part character study, Beat the Reaper deftly explores the scope of revenge, loyalty and one’s capacity for redemption. We are introduced to the novel’s protagonist, a New York City doctor, as he’s getting mugged on his way to work. But rather than acquiescing, he expertly dislocates the mugger’s arm, smashes his nose in and takes his gun. Peter Brown is clearly no ordinary doctor. Left to fend for himself at the age of 14 after the vicious murder of his grandparents, Pietro Brnwa takes up karate and a fateful friendship with David Locano, aka Skinflick, whose father was a lawyer by day, a mobster by night. Initially attracted to the mafia for personal retribution, Brnwa descends deeper into the Locano family and their ties, and finds that he is disturbingly good at his job. A perfectly orchestrated series of events leads Pietro into murder, a test of his friendship with Skinflick and the threat of jail. Instead, he ends up at dingy, dilapidated Manhattan Catholic Hospital as Dr. Peter Brown, a member of WITSEC, the U.S. Marshal’s Service Witness Security Program. Peter’s anonymity comes to a crashing halt when he treats a blast from the past, in the form of terminally ill patient Eddy Squillante, who recognizes him as the erstwhile “Bearclaw” Brnwa. As long as he can keep Squillante alive, he staves off some angry mobsters looking to get reacquainted. To do so, he must navigate through a sea of other patients, a shady surgeon assigned to Squillante’s case, and external forces looking to ensure that he fails. Oh and by the way, he has eight hours. (Why is Peter known to the mobsters as Bearclaw? You’ll have to read the book and find out… it’s downright incriminating!)
Pietro Brnwa is a unique, memorable character in the best tradition of detective fiction heroes. Not one you’d call warm and fuzzy, he ascribes himself as “God’s original asshole” and his sycophantic medical students as “two cups of human misery in short white coats”. He has a short temper, a snarky aside for most everything and everyone that crosses his path, and generally looks at the glass as half empty. But Pietro also has a defined moral code of ethics. His very reason for joining the Mafia—to avenge his grandparents’ senseless death—is practical, not glamorous. He won’t kill women or children, as evidenced by his refusal to kill the sister of the man that sold his grandparents to Auschwitz. And he manages to show a tender side with the only woman he’s ever loved, and who plays a tragic role in the final showdown between his past and present. More importantly, Brnwa, as Peter Brown, is an excellent doctor. Sure he has plenty of insults for fellow physicians, no patience for patients, and crunches on Moxfane tables to stay awake enough for rounds. But he also cares enough to make time for a frightened cancer patient awaiting surgery, to retrieve a lost well-meaning elderly patient with dementia and to perform an impossible surgery on the dying Mob messenger that’s been sent to warn him. Okay, that last one was a necessity.
On top of the intricate action, mind-bending medicine and humor, the book’s style is immensely enjoyable—sexy, sleek, fast-paced, and a little too cool for old school. Bazell unfolds the plot cleverly with side-by-side storylines. Peter Brown’s impending peril is told compactly over the course of the eight hours that interweaves his reunion with old friends with an interesting medical mystery and a rather unfortunate incident with an Assman and a needle. All in a day’s work. Concomitantly, Pietro Brnwa’s story transpires over a more protracted period of time, and the reader absorbs the tragedies that befell Pietro from his early days in the mob through to the deal that lands him in witness protection, learning what makes him tick along the way. The past merges seamlessly with the present to culminate in an ending so shocking and imaginative, you will want to have an anatomy textbook, not to mention a strong stomach, to piece it all together. Interspersed throughout are little factoids and medical footnotes that add a rich third dimension to the novel’s flow and to our protagonist’s hilariously sarcastic wit. Did you know that scrub suits are reversible, that some of the most prosperous pharmaceutical companies had a shameful history of slave labor at Auschwitz, that you can’t run DNA tests from urine, that surgeons will use some pretty superfluous silly vocabulary to avoid saying “head up” or “head down” in surgery, or the real reason that Tony Soprano’s cover as a garbage consultant is ironic? Neither did I. Rarely does a thriller afford you the opportunity to pick up some knowledge while you’re being entertained, and for that, Beat the Reaper gets the ScriptPhD.com seal of approval!
As if all of this isn’t enough to get you excited, the book is currently being adapted for film by the same team of screenwriters that brought you Ocean’s Thirteen. There are even rumblings of Leonardo DiCaprio playing Peter Brown/Pietro Brnwa/Bearclaw. So go out and please support a local bookstore in picking up a copy today!
A compelling, socially and scientifically significant new film is buzzing its way into the 2009 Los Angeles Film Festival. From director Jeremy Simmons, The Last Beekeeper is a stirring new documentary that explores the ramifications of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), the mysterious HIV-like pandemic killing bees en masse, on beekeepers, the pollination industry, and our ecosystem. The filmmakers follow the lives of three beekeepers over the course of a year, as they prepare and transport their bees to California’s massive annual almond pollination, an event that requires the assembly of nearly all American bees. In depicting their struggles, triumphs, and personal pain, the film delves into the scientific mystery behind CCD, the personal relationship that bonds an apiarist to their bees, and the lengths of devotion three human beings take to save themselves and an insect in crisis.
Nicole Ulibarri might have had a very different calling in life. Described by her family as smart and ambitious, Nicole got a college education and became a Seattle career woman. But she also comes from several generations of beekeepers, and the calling, along with anguish over a painful family loss, led her heart back to Montana, where she became a beekeeper. Eric Mills is probably the most interesting Southern-to-the-core gay beekeeper you’ll ever meet. Meticulous, obsessed, at times arrogant, and profoundly gifted at his profession, Eric sums up his philosophy: “If you take care of the bees, they will take care of you.” Matt Hutchins is the archetype of many blue-collar, self-made small business owners in America. His struggling rural Washington business has been decimated by dying bees, but Matt’s perseverance, sense of obligation, and love of his craft drives his desire to keep going. In 1996, the almond industry got a huge boost when California led research efforts on the health effects of almonds, leading to a doubling of almond consumption worldwide. California is the industry leader in almond production, growing 80% of the world’s supply. The caveat is that almonds are almost completely reliant on bee populations for pollination. As such, the yearly California crop acts as a sort of beekeeper’s “Yukon gold rush”. 75% of all American beekeepers head out to California yearly to pollinate almonds, and rely on this event to earn most of their income (approximately $150 for a full hive). Among them are Nicole, Eric and Matt. Would their hives survive the stressful voyage to California? Could they beat the unbelievable odds against them to make a year’s worth of work pay off?
What is Colony Collapse Disorder? Beginning in October 2006, some beekeepers began reporting losses of 30-90 percent of their hives. In 2007, 20 billion bees disappeared. This phenomenon, for which scientists have not been able to elucidate a cause, has been termed “Colony Collapse Disorder”. The main symptom of CCD is simply no or a low number of adult honey bees present but with a live queen and no dead honey bees in the hive. In a 2007 report prepared for Congress by the National Academy of Sciences National Research Council’s (NRC) “Status of Pollinators Committee”, several factors were isolated as contributing to CCD, including invasive parasitic varroa mites, introduction of Africanized honeybees to replace dying European colonies, resistance to antibiotics treating American foulbrood, the major bacterial disease affecting honey bees, poor nutrition, the small hive beetle, the use of insecticides in crop protection and the stress inflicted on dwindling US hives in almond pollination. In response to this crisis, the Agricultural Research Service arm of the US Department of Agriculture has released an action plan to mitigate honeybee losses from CCD. Heavily featured in The Last Beekeeper, Professor Dennis vanEngelsdorp and his group at the University of Pennsylvania are attempting to figure out the exact reasons bees are dying in droves. After conducting autopsies on thousands of dead bees, the sick bees were found to be bigger, darker, with alarming multi-disease abnormalities, indicating a systemic immunity collapse akin to HIV infection. Incidentally, for one of the best explanations of CCD and celebrations of beekeepers, check out this video TED Talk entitled “Where Have All The Bees Gone?” presented by Professor vanEngelsdorp, in which he delves into the gentle, misunderstood creature’s important place in nature and the mystery behind its alarming disappearance:
Beekeeping is an essential component of modern agriculture, providing pollination services for over 90 commercial crops grown in the United States. The honey bee adds $15 billion in value to agricultural crops each year, and the demand for honey bees is growing. The California almond crop alone uses 1.3 million colonies of bees for pollination, approximately one half of all honey bees in the United States.
Several important running themes are explored throughout this movie, with disappearing bees as the background context. Loss and devotion at all costs. Through all three stories told runs a profound sense of loss (whether Nicole’s personal tragedy or Matt’s hive devastation) and the cost of being a modern beekeeper. Matt’s decisions cause tremendous strife within his family, while Eric, whose partner quit his job to assist him with the business, sees himself as fungible compared to the bees. Bees as humanlike creatures. Through some very adroit camera work, Simmons is able to provide a rare emotional purview into the world of bees helping one another, working together, dying together. Above all else is the love of the bees. The beekeepers portrayed in this film make tremendous sacrifices, professionally and personally, but are motivated and driven because of a core love for the bees. At times gut wrenching, The Last Beekeeper effectively communicates the frustration and helplessness these caretakers feel.
If the current situation does not improve, the future for beekeepers looks pretty grim. As it stands, there are less than 1,600 beekeepers in all of the United States. (In 1950, there were 500,000.) At the rate they are dying, bees will cease to exist in North America by 2035. It is up to scientists, environmental activists, and ordinary citizens to take action, get informed, and prevent these assiduous, necessary, beautiful creatures from disappearing from our planet. At the end of the movie, sitting in his nearly devastated, ghostly apiary, beekeeper Jim Robertson sadly muses how much honeybees serve by nature. They make enough honey for themselves and everyone else, but we are constantly trying to get more out of them than they can give us. “It’s foolishness,” he remarks quietly. Foolishness, indeed.
The Last Beekeeper is a World of Wonder film, directed by Jeremy Simmons and produced by Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato. It premiered at the SXSW Film Festival on March 14th, 2009. It is an official selection of the 2009 Los Angeles Film Festival, and has two screenings: Saturday, June 20, at 2:30PM at the Regent Theater (already passed), and on Thursday, June 25, at 4:45PM at the Landmark 4.
ScriptPhD.com had the opportunity to talk with Jeremy Simmons and Fenton Bailey and get their in-depth thoughts on the film and the beekeepers. For a transcript of our interview, please click “continue reading”. Continue reading MOVIE REVIEW: The Last Beekeeper→