Web Media Archive

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Podcasting After Dark at Ad Astra

That’s right, another Ad Astra is upon us, and once again yours truly has conned his way into being a panelist. Even though I’ll be speaking on four panels this year, there’s only one that I really want to shamelessly self-promote: Podcasting After Dark.

Podcasting After Dark is exactly what it sounds like. At 11pm on Friday night, in the Richmond Room of the Sheraton Parkway Toronto North Hotel (600 Hwy 7 Richmond Hill, ON), I will be co-hosting a podcast that will be more exciting than the World Series, World Cup, and World War Two combined.*

Joining me for this once-in-a-lifetime** live podcasting experience will be:

Madeline Ashby, science fiction writer and author of vN and iD.

Candice LePage, co-host of the Limited Release Podcast.

Matt Moore, horror writer and author of Touch the Sky, Embrace the Dark.

Sufficed to say, it’s some heavy-weight talent, and unlike last year when Nick Montgomery – the other half of the Limited Release Podcast – and I hosted Podcasting After Dark***, I wanted to go into this podcast with an actual plan. Otherwise, the four of us would probably spend the hour talking about Community.

My first plan involved finding talking points common to each of my co-hosts. That approach got a little esoteric and weird. How weird, you ask?  I briefly entertained a talking point on a hypothetical web series written in the style of Stephen King on the subject of robots having sex with humans.

Instead, I’ve decided to take a page from Inside the Actor’s Studio and leave things to fate. I will be going into the podcast with a stack of index cards, upon which will be a single question or talking point.

Some of these topics will be thoughtful: genre television that passes the Bechdel Test

Others, less so: T’Pol VS Seven of Nine – Strong female role models or teenage stroke material… or both?

A few will be downright bizarre: Nicholas Cage: Good, Bad, or Pacific Rim?

And a few more will be whatever I feel like stealing from @midnight this week.

Here’s where you, good reader, come in. From now until 10:59:59pm on Friday, I’ll be taking any and all suggestions**** and including them in the question bank. And depending on the size of the crowd (and their level of inebriation) that comes out for Podcasting After Dark, we might solicit the audience for a few ideas.

So there you have it. Podcasting After Dark, this Friday, at 11pm, at Ad Astra.

On the off chance you’re interested in hearing me talk about other things, I’ll also be doing the following panels.

How To Be A Lovable Critic – Saturday 2pm, Newmarket Room

Can the Author Become the Critic? – Saturday 6pm, Newmarket Room

Sci-Fi Classics: Fact or Fallacy – Sunday, 2pm, Newmarket Room

*I have no evidence to support this claim.

**We did this last year, and given half a chance I’ll probably do it again next year.

***Last year’s Podcasting After Dark happened at 11am on a Sunday.

****”Any and all suggestions” is not an invitation to be an ignorant asshat.


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What is Noobcamp and Why Does it Want Your Money?

The creators of Noobcamp have taken an interesting tack in presenting their web series’ kickstarter campaign. Therein, they acknowledge the novelty of web television as an emerging concept. At the same time, they pull no punches in suggesting that the web series, as a whole, is trying to find its way as a vehicle for telling an effective story.

…many web shows just follow actors around with cameras while the actors discuss their backstory.

It is in this fashion that the Mayview production team declared their goal of crafting a web series that takes full advantage of established cinematic techniques in conveying a narrative. An outside observer might be tempted to suggest that the production is inviting a special kind of hubris with their generalizations about the state of web media. I certainly don’t think any of the web series I’ve reviewed are burdened by an abundance of world building. Then again, it is a big internet out there. To borrow a phrase from Roy Batty, perhaps they’ve seen things I wouldn’t believe.

This aside, the six minute pitch video, the one minute trailer – which incidentally does a fantastic job of showing rather than telling – and a mission statement citing games and film as life affirming experiences, were enough to pique my interest in this project. Using David Mamet’s quote about illiterates inventing “backstory” may have also helped seal the deal.

So rather than summarizing, I’ll let the series speak for itself.

Noobcamp is a story about an ex-professional gamer who is forced to teach a video game camp for kids. Johnny7, as he was once known, was among the top pro gamers in the world and made millions in endorsements. The show picks up several years after his downfall. Johnny, now mid-20s, reckless and jaded from his fame and fortune, is probably the worst person for the job, but he may be exactly what they need.

Even if Noobcamp doesn’t revolutionize the medium, which would be rather challenging to do without going into art house territory, it does seem like something I would gladly watch. In fact, I may kick in four dollars if only for the executive producer credit.

As of the time of this post, Noobcamp is about 81% of the way to its $25,000 goal with 52 hours remaining on the campaign. Would you like to know more? Click here to head over to their kickstarter page for all the details.


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Star Drunk: A Short Film that Delivers on What It Promises

Sometimes the internet presents something so utterly bizarre that it is impossible to ignore. Thus do I tip my hat to Beverly Bambury for linking me to Star Drunk: Space Alien V.

This short film purports to be both written by drunk people and also performed, without revisions to the booze soaked script, by actors in a similar state of inebriation. The production itself was sponsored by New Deal Distillery, a Portland based producer of craft vodka, gin, and liqueurs. PS to New Deal Distillery, call me if you ever want to sponsor a drunk podcast.

Star Drunk’s acting and writing certainly do seem inspired by a fair measure of liquid creativity. There’s an expected amount of slurring, stammering, and utterly nonsensical dialogue. The best comedic moments occur when stopping to ponder on if an actor botched a line, or if a writer intentionally got it wrong. As much as these instances are quite chuckle worthy, I think they’re somewhat dwarfed by the movie’s amazing post-production work.

There is a blink-and-miss-it battle sequence which matches anything seen in Battlestar Galactica. As well, and for want of a better adjective, there’s a distinct “cool” factor in the main starships’ design. The bow looks like two Star Wars Dreadnaughts fused together with the aft section of the Battlestar Pegasus. Quite honestly, I think the special effects might steal the show from the hammered cast.

Star Drunk also has me wondering if drunken comedy is becoming more of a touchstone within the pop culture spectrum. The obvious point of comparison here is Comedy Central’s Drunk History. Though the one thing that Drunk History brings to the table that’s missing from Star Drunk, and perhaps the essential selling point of “drunk” comedy, is having the sober straight man.

If everybody in a room is drunk, as is the case in Star Drunk, then, then there’s no chance for outsider/pariah driven comedy. In those situations the booze hound can be seen to say what the sober people are thinking but unwilling to speak aloud. Alternatively, the drunkard can demonstrate a comedic (in)ability to function because of their intoxication. Or if neither of those two options fit the scene, there’s always an appeal to schadenfreude; I would direct you to the landmark case of Kenny v. Spenny’s season two episode “Who can drink the most beer?

Is the trope slapsticky and juvenile? Perhaps. Does it glorify alcohol abuse to the point that some buzz kill will inevitably feel the need to talk about how alcohol addiction ruins lives and destroys families? Quite likely. Would I watch a whole web series of Star Drunk? Almost certainly, and I don’t think I would feel bad about it, either. So to the cast and crew of Space Drunk I say good on you for putting it out there. Now let’s have another round.

Star Drunk: Space Alien V

Directed by Chris R Wilson and Zach Persson

Written by Chris R Wilson, Zach Persson, Jacqueline Gault, Tim Feeney, Roman Battan, and Josh Persson

Starring: Greg James, Adam Elliot Davis, Kyle Smith, Britt Harris. Alexander Fraser, Bethany Jacobs


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The Indie Project Grab Bag

One of the benefits of writing this blog is the opportunity to engage with some profoundly talented people working in the creative arts. Over the last month three projects have landed on my radar, all coming from creators who I have previously reviewed. In support of their future endeavours, I decided to dedicate today’s post to promoting their upcoming works.

Up first is Strange Bedfellows. Strange Bedfellows is/will be an anthology of political science fiction, edited by Hayden Trenholm. Last year I had the pleasure of reviewing Mr. Trenholm’s environmentally themed anthology, Blood and Water. Powerful and evocative, the collection left with the same sense of looming dread that penetrated my soul upon finishing Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. Needless to say, I’m eager for any anthology which puts Mr. Trenholm in the editor’s chair.

Strange Bedfellows is also notable in that it successfully mobilized crowd sourcing as a means of augmenting the pay scale for its writers. This from Strange Bedfellows’ indiegogo campaign,

Our goal of $2800 will let us increase our rates from 1.5 cents a word to 5 cents a word.  Additional funds will be used first, to increase the length of the book to a maximum of 90,000 words, and, second, further increase the rate of pay to the writers.

As of this post, Strange Bedfellows had passed the $3000 mark in its fundraising with a little less than two days of fundraising to go.

Kudos to Mr. Trenholm and Bundoran Press for supporting writers and the Canadian science fiction community at large.

Next on the docket is Job Hunters, a web series which created its own sub-genre as a dystopian roommate comedy.

I honestly had no idea what to expect going into the first season of Job Hunters. Never did I suspect it would turn out to be a particularly clever commentary on unemployment and post-college disillusionment. This sharp writing combined with outstanding cinematography, skillful directing, and first rate post-production to deliver an experience that demonstrated the power of the web series as a medium.

Why support season two? Because the first season ended on a huge cliff-hanger and I need to know what happens next. There’s also the fact that the series mobilized some amazing talent who pulled something out of almost nothing in terms of production budget.

We created our first season with about $14,000 and a crew entirely made of volunteers. We want to bring a more rigorous schedule to Season Two and we need the funds to deliver you bigger, better stories from the characters you love.

As of this post Job Hunters’ second season is a little more than 20% funded. Head over to their season 2 kickstarter page to learn more.

Finally, I want to talk about a project that is a little outside my usual realm of critical discussion, and by a little I mean almost the exact opposite of my usual oeuvre. I’m talking about contemporary dance.

Dance by Day is a web series concept currently under development by Jonathan Robbins and Jason Leaver. Readers may know Robbins and Leaver as the creators of Clutch and Out With Dad, respectively. So why am I supporting a web series about a struggling dance troupe?

The easy answer is that Robbins and Leaver are tremendous as writers and directors. Clutch was recently nominated for a Streamy award in the “best action series” category and Out with Dad was nominated for “best original series for digital media”  at the Canadian Screen Awards. Collaboration between these two highly talented individuals is sure to result in web series gold (no pressure there, Jonathan and Jason).

More importantly, Dance by Day seems perfectly positioned to be a reflection on the perpetual downward march of government funding for the arts within the Canadian cultural landscape. Such discussions are all too often marginalized or flat out ignored in the face of realpolitick, especially amid a bad economy. Creating a web series on this topic could potentially mobilize a new base of support for the arts in a union of new media and old-guard capital-A “Art.”

Dance by Day is currently seeking funding from the Independent Production Fund. The best way to support its bid is to watch the proof of concept video, share it with others, and comment on youtube.

 

And there you have it. Three projects which I look forward to seeing in the near future. I think I may have to make something like this a bit more of a regular feature.


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First Impressions of Out of Time

One week ago the director of Out of Time, Rodney V. Smith, offered me an insider’s glance at his upcoming web series. An experienced hand at online production, Smith’s past work includes the detective noir web series Dominion. Where Dominion explored a world of supernatural beings coexisting with humanity, Out of Time presents itself a story that marries contemporary corporate intrigue with time travel.

The series is also embarking upon a unique approach to funding its ten episode debut season. Anybody who backs Out of Time’s indiegogo campaign will gain immediate early access to the thirty minute prologue to the first season, The Accidental Time Traveller.

Considering the average runtime of a web series, thirty minutes dedicated to a pilot represents a substantial investment of time and labour. For comparison, the entirety of Felica Day’s Dragon Age web series ran approximately one hour in duration. This ambition is similarly reflected in the series’ plan to deliver individual episodes at a length of fifteen minutes. By the time the first season is done, Mr. Smith is going to have a feature length film on his hands.

Ambitious is similarly the word I would use to describe the scope of The Accidental Time Traveller. To watch this pilot is to see a self-contained short film which revels in asynchronous story telling. Therein, series protagonist Chris Allman (Steve Kasan) finds himself trapped within his own causality loop as he struggles to save the life of his murdered girlfriend Sara (Julia MacPherson). It is the sort of storytelling which makes Steven Moffat’s attempts to play the timey-wimey game on Doctor Who appear similar to a toddler splashing about in a wading pool. The sheer complexity of the time travel within The Accidental Time Traveler is best compared to 2004’s indie darling Primer.

The impressive visual effects within the pilot episode also merit some discussion. One thing of particular note is a scene when an actor walks through a digitally rendered computer readout. This may not sound impressive, but I expect the production of such a deceptively simple illusion required no shortage of work from the effects department. Moreover, it’s the sort of effect which makes me wonder what this series might be capable of producing once it secures greater funding.

Filming on location in Toronto over the spring of this year, the series is expected to release in March of 2014. For those interested in contributing to the production, there is an extensive breakdown of the project’s budget and production schedule on their Indiegogo page.

My thanks to Mr. Smith for offering me a preview of the series. Best of luck to the cast and crew in meeting their fundraising goal.

Find out more about the project at Out of Time’s webpage. Or head over to their indiegogo campaign to make a contribution.


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Podcast Episode 25: Q&A with Jonathan Robbins, creator of the web series Clutch

Two new podcast releases in the same month? Wow, I must really feel guilty for the long months of silence in between episode twenty-three and twenty-four.

Topics under discussion include:

-   What is Clutch?

-   Clutch’s nature as a Hard-R rated web series.

-   A couple degrees of Craig Ferguson.

-   The relationship between art and violence.

-   Jonathan on directing.

-   The challenges of producing Clutch.

-   Web series and their awards.

-   The state and future of digital mediums.

Once again, congratulations to Jonathan and the entire cast and crew of Clutch on their Streamy nomination.

Head over to clutchtheseries.com to check out the entire first season and the first half of season two.

Feature track: Nerevar Rising as arranged by Blake Robinson from the album Video Game Orchestrations Volume 1.

Cold Intro Music: The Lady of Vastness by Dan-O at DanoSongs.com

Theme music:  Bionic Commando stage 4 (Dale vs Wray mix) (NecroPolo) / CC BY-NC-SA 3.0


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Monster Roll Releases the Kraken upon Un-suspecting Sushi Chefs

Written and directed by Dan Blank, Monster Roll is a six minute proof of concept short, channeling  the best conceptual elements of classic Japanese monster movies and the fantastic gusto of 80s screen gems like Ghostbusters. But where something like Godzilla worked with 1950s nuclear anxiety, Monster Roll resonates with the very real twenty-first century problem of over-fishing and resource scarcity.

The film’s opening narration frames the central conflict as nature’s reaction to a broken promise on the part of humanity. Therein, a Japanese legend speaks of a bond between man and the sea. For our part, man promised to only kill what he would eat, and eat all that he killed. The movie then opens on a quintessential North American douche bag stuffing himself with sushi, utterly disrespecting the chef’s efforts as well as the traditional accoutrement of the meal.

For that scene alone, Monster Roll seems to be as much a cultural commentary on the worst sort of sushi restaurant patrons, which perhaps reflects on the Western appropriation of an Eastern culinary practice, as much as it is the hook for a monster movie. All of this happens before a giant tentacle emerges from the restaurant’s sink and starts strangling the sushi chef.

During its short run time Monster Roll establishes a conflict, creates a sense of empathy for the sushi chefs turned last line of defense against sea monsters, and scores some very well placed laughs amid the chaos. Moreover, the computer generated monsters are quite convincing in their ability to interact with flesh and blood actors.

Even though the short looks to be set in California, I’ll admit that I’m quite pleased to see Asian actors speaking Japanese within the movie. If Ben Kingsley being cast as The Mandarin in Iron Man 3 teaches us anything, it’s that some elements within mainstream Hollywood do not really understand race. It’s the same phenomenon which brought us an almost entirely white principal cast in The Last Airbender – though race was the least of that movie’s problems. Granted it’s a sad state of affairs when sub-titles threaten to hurt a movie’s appeal, but I’m glad to see this film demonstrating the courage to keep a culturally appropriate cast and language track.

So let’s review:

A classic man versus nature story as told through giant sea monsters.

Unlikely heroes rising from their humble origins to do great things.

Adept injections of comedy as a means of bringing the audience into the story without imposing too much on their suspension of disbelief.

Also, approbation from the likes of Moon and Source Code director Duncan Jones.

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s hoping that Dan Blank and team can quickly secure funding to shoot the feature length version of this film.

Head over to www.monsterroll.com for behind the scenes features and additional details about the project.


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Doctor Horrible’s TV Debut: Interesting, but not a Game Changer.

Last week Joss Whedon’s Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog made its television debut on the CW Network. As I did indeed sing along to Captain Hammer’s (Nathan Fillion) character defining song A Man’s Gotta Do, musing on just how much money I’d spent on Horrible merch since 2008 (A Hammer shirt, an iTunes purchase of the series and soundtrack, and the DVD – you do the math) I began to wonder about the point of airing a quintessential web series on conventional television. I’ve since come to the conclusion that televising the unrequited love story of Billy (Neil Patrick Harris) and Penny (Felica Day) was in fact Joss Whedon blowing a raspberry in the face of the establishment.

Well, it’s either a raspberry or a way to get his name back on television as a warm-up to his upcoming S.H.I.E.L.D TV show. But if that’s the case then this blog post sort of falls apart. So for the moment, let us assume Dr. Horrible + TV = a very quiet middle finger to a dying medium.

As a cultural phenomenon, Dr. Horrible is old news. Unless you’re very new to the internet and its distinct culture (cat videos, Wil Wheaton, vlogs, memes, XKCD comics, web series, et cetera) the chances are good you already know the Hammer is not Nathan Fillion’s fists. This reality likely produced two sorts of people watching Dr. Horrible on TV: those who knew what the hammer is, and everybody else who was learning for the first time.

To the second group, the message is obvious; this is what you’ve been missing by not watching internet television. For the vast majority who were watching Horrible because they love it/because it was there/because Joss Whedon is their nerd lord and sovereign the message was different. To this particular in crowd, the subtext was more along the lines of “look how awful the viewing experience is on conventional television.”

And wow was it painful.

The roughly thirty minute runtime of Dr. Horrible was stretched out to fill a one hour block. Though I expected commercials at the end of each of the series’ three acts, the mid-act commercial breaks were jarring and unnatural. Remember, this is a series written for the internet. In-act scene transitions do not lend themselves to the act break commercial structure that goes with 42 to 44 minutes of narrative television.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, the CW treated the Doc just like they would any other piece of programming. Every couple of minutes there was a dancing “VD” for Vampire Dairies in the bottom right corner of the screen (notice me staying classy here and not going for the obvious joke about venereal disease). Sometimes the CW network watermark would get shot with an arrow as a promotion for Smallville redux Arrow. Where the internet empowers viewers with the option to close annoying crap like that, TV trapped me with its now flagrant in-program advertising.

But the worst crime was the CW’s decision to reformat Doctor Horrible out of 16:9 into a conventional 4:3 aspect ratio. I make a lot of concessions to the ancien regime of media when I turn on the television, but catering Dr. Horrible toward people who own old CRT tube sets crosses the line.

Everything about watching Dr. Horrible on TV made me long for the low budget honesty of the web series. A world where a viewer can watch something in whatever format they want, at whichever resolution their net connection can support, and where commercials may intro and extro a video, but they don’t interrupt the flow of the story. Nowhere was I more acutely aware that I was watching television than when I was watching something not meant for television. And through it all I could hear Whedon blowing his raspberry, not at me, but at the network itself. For he had insinuated something meant for one medium into another and in doing so proved just how unsuited conventional media is for assimilating new media into its pantheon.

Therefore, our take away from having Dr. Horrible on the CW should not be a thesis on Whedon as the king of transmedia. When we stop to think about the limitations of television’s fixed narrative structure, Doctor Horrible has no business being on the air. So kudos to Whedon for sneaking one past The Man. Bravo for showcasing how the main stream can embody the indie spirit; Dr. Horrible was a product of the 2007 writer’s strike. But nobody should presume Dr. Horrible’s TV debut is indicative of a two-way street between web media and television.


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Web Comic Review: The Outer Light

Some weeks ago I was having a twitter discussion about the best all time episode of any Star Trek franchise; because why else was the internet created other than as a means of facilitating these sorts of talks among like minded nerds? Without the benefit of a bracket and a few hours to sort through the various candidates, my knee jerk reaction was to pick a certain DS9 episode that I will discuss in a future post. Many of the others who were in on the discussion were staunch in their support for the Hugo award winning TNG episode “The Inner Light.”

For those who don’t recall “The Inner Light” is the episode where an alien probe inceptions Captain Picard. In less than half an hour, the probe allows Picard to live out thirty years during the final days of the planet Kataan. Therein Picard had a wife, children, grand children, and was able to craft a life that was otherwise incompatible with his career as a Starfleet officer. But what happened to Picard after he woke up from that dream? The Outer Light, a web comic drawn by Don Ellis Aguillo and written by Andre Duza and Morgan Gendel, the very same Morgan Gendel who penned “The Inner Light”, answers that question.

Where TNG only gave us rare glimpses into the inner workings of Picard’s psyche, The Outer Light explores Picard as a broken man. He’s still functional as a captain, but left to his own thoughts he longs for a life that never was. Where the TV series used the flute from Picard’s time as Kamin as an object of thoughtful nostalgia, this story shows it as a sort of self-flagellation. The flute is not a connection to the past, but an embodiment of a dream Picard will never have again. To put it another way, if you ever wondered what would happen if you mixed a bit of Battlestar Galactica’s character depth into TNG’s cast then you should waste no time before reading this comic.

Despite this particular take on Picard, which feels totally on point when we consider his mental breakdown after the battle of Wolf 359, The Outer Light is still a strong Trek story. The plot forces Picard to reconcile his past life issues while presenting a conflict that easily fits into established TNG canon circa season five.

The Trek aesthetic as crafted by Don Ellis Aguillo takes some liberties with how a reader might remember the series in the early 90s. Yet these subtle nuances prove quite pleasing to the eyes. There are hints of the Enterprise-E in Aguillo’s design of the Enterprise-D. His depiction of Starfleet uniforms borrow more from the jacket and pants model of late series DS9 than the form fitting pyjamas of TNG. Even the characters look somewhat distinct from the actors who played them on television. While I suspect this creative distance has something to do with avoiding lawsuits from Sir Patrick et al, it also allows Aguillo’s art to capture the essence of the characters without anchoring them to real world people. Case in point, a certain frame does not depict Patrick Stewart as Captain Picard smashing his quarters in a most undignified fashion. Rather the art lends itself to a range of character development that is independent of the preconceptions which come with the actor/character dichotomy.

The only real problem in this web comic’s presentation is the distinct lack of ‘next page’ and ‘previous page’ buttons in the design interface. Even though each episode is only five or six pages in length, the ability to turn the page without having to be cognisant of what page I am on would not go amiss.

As the “unofficial sequel to The Inner Light” this comic is absolutely first rate. The story is compelling. The art is distinct yet still very Trek, which is a testament not only to the artist’s obvious talent but the longevity of TNG’s overall look and feel. I don’t know that non-Trek fans will get much out of the story. It is very much dependent on a knowledge of “The Inner Light,” and the utterly stoic nature of Captain Jean-Luc Picard. For fans of the series, however, this is absolutely essential reading.

The first nine parts of The Outer Light are available for your viewing pleasure at Morgan’s Blog.


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Curiosity is My Apollo 11 Moment

The view from Gale Crater

Late Sunday night, or in the wee hours of Monday morning depending on where you are in the world, NASA’s JPL rover “Curiosity” did what Arnie told us to do back in 1990, it got its ass to Mars.

Huzzah for another triumph of humanity over near space.

At 10:32PDT, under the gaze of the internet, the Mars Odyssey Orbiter, the finest faux hawk in the history of space exploration, and a Dr. Carson Beckett body double, a rover that weighs as much as a small car gracefully landed in Mars’ Gale Crater. During Curiosity’s eight month voyage to Mars it covered a distance of roughly 352 million miles. And unlike NASA’s previous two rovers which fell to Mars cushioned in giant airbags, Curiosity employed a controlled descent via detachable rocket pack and sky crane. Landing at a velocity of about two miles per hour, Curiosity touched down on the red planet with more finesse than most of us employ in getting out of bed.

A lot of thoughts passed through my mind while watching NASA’s live web feed. Foremost among them was what the hell is going to happen to NASA if this two and a half billion dollar space buggy crashes and burns? I quickly pushed such thoughts away, instead letting myself reflect on how I would remember this moment if it happened. In a flash it occurred to me that baring something truly extraordinary occurring in the near future, Curiosity would be my generation’s Apollo 11 moment. And damn if we haven’t needed one.

In my thirty years I’ve seen two space shuttle missions end in tragedy, landers crash into Mars because astrophysicists and engineers couldn’t tell metric from imperial measurements, and the over-budget and underwhelming construction of an orbiting space station which is nothing close to the gateway to the moon that we were promised in the late 90s. Where are my generation’s Neil Armstrongs and Yuri Gagarins? What name is more familiar to the public, Chris Hatfield or Lisa Nowak? Where is the BIG THING that in fifty years will let me preface conversations with “I remember when…” My generation’s relationship with space flight has been one of tragedy, budget cuts, and outsourcing to the private sector.

Like everybody else, I made a few jokes on twitter while I sat and waited. When NASA cut to a video that showed how the orbital paths of Curiosity and Odyssey lined up, I cracked wise about Missile Command. For gamers who remember the 90s, I alluded to a nuclear powered rover being a cover for an XCOM Avenger intent on attacking Cydonia. There may have also been a tweet or two about finding Prothean ruins in Gale Crater. But when Curoisty made its final descent into Mars’ atmosphere, I hoped.

I hoped for more than a safe landing. I hoped Curiosity might be the sort of thing people rally behind. I hoped the collective anticipation and enthusiasm of everybody who was flooding my twitter feed might inspire others to remember that optimism and ambition are good things. And I hoped in the fullness of time Curiosity might find evidence of something that will make this world seem like a smaller place. I also got confused about the time delay between Earth and Mars, but that’s neither here nor there at this point. When the seven minutes of terror ended and the words “touchdown” came through the feed, I cheered. Then I broke out my bottle of special fifteen year old “victory” scotch and had a toast to the collective awesome that is the human race.

The shouts from NASA’s live feed, as well as my own, woke my girlfriend. I told her the good news, she smiled and went to check the non-internet news for coverage.

CBC Televsion was revelling in banalities with re-runs of Dragon’s Den.

CBC News was airing a re-run of a picayune documentary on lottery winners.

CTV 1 and CTV Newsnet were showing repeats of Olympic coverage from the day before.

Canada’s national broadcaster and Bell Media’s flagship stations couldn’t be bothered to interrupt reruns and old news to dedicate five minutes to a story that forced us to redraw the frontiers of human experience. How embarrassing for them. How sad for them to have a moment of live news befitting the likes of Walter Cronkite scooped by Wil Wheaton, Felicia Day, John Scalzi, David Hewlett, and us common folk who are so paternally labeled as “citizen journalists”. How utterly tragic for “legitimate” media to perfectly prove its disconnection from the reality of our digital culture, despite pretensions otherwise via flatscreens, ipads, and title cards that include twitter handles. While the CBC and CTV slept, we were there.

And those of us who were there, through the benefit of NASA’s brilliantly executed live feed, were part of something fantastic. Who can say right now what that something might turn into, but we were there for the start of it. Generation X and beyond finally has an Apollo 11 moment. And for the benefit of those among that demographic who look at space exploration with all the cynicism this world can muster, those of us who were there will continue to hope.