Tag Archives: film

Lesson #17: How to tell if you’re becoming a werewolf.

I was asked to write this one, and it’s taken a little research. The first question you should ask yourself, and yes,  this may be the biggest question, is, “Have you been scratched or bitten by a large creature recently?” If not, there’s almost no chance you’re becoming a frightening puppy.

If you answered “yes” to the first question, inquire as to your habits around the full moon. Ask others, since you may have blacked out during that time.  If your brother saw you turn into a gangly wolf and eat someone, then yes, you are a werewolf.  If not, ask if you have a pattern of disappearing around the full moon  or getting uncharacteristically irate.

This leads to the third issue. In both Twilight and Being Human, is feeling a little “wolfie.” Is it harder to control your temper? Are you more inclined to follow your baser instincts? You could just be going through puberty or need anger management classes, but don’t forget to add “becoming a werewolf” to the possibilities.


This is Josh from the U.S. Being Human. He’s feeling a little wolfie.

 If you follow Twilight, one key seems to be body temperature. Do people keep telling you that you have a fever? Has anyone been burned by your touch recently? Both should signal concern.

The fifth alarm bell in werewolfery is appetite.  Have you been a vegetarian for years, but suddenly need a bloody steak?  Maybe you’re just low on iron, maybe not.

If you do find you’re a werewolf, get help, seriously.

This is my assessment, dear readers. Come on, let me know what I’ve missed. I am humble in my limited knowledge.


Lesson 14: He’s your brother.

Opps. Luke and Leia are a little too close here.

Are things going really well? Are you getting really into someone as lover or friend? Is there someone around you who you really hate? Were you tempted to shove him down the stairs? Be careful, because no matter what, he’s your brother. It may be a woman, but he’s still your brother.  Come on, you sensed that Luke was Leia’s brother.  Let Star Wars be the eternal cautionary tale about incest. Even The Killing stresses that you shouldn’t have sex with your boyfriend if you think he may be your brother.  Everyone wanted to kill the crazy, rapey, inmate who was loose in the space prison in Lockout. But, sure enough, he was kept alive since he was secretly the leader inmate’s brother.  Be suspicious that everyone out there may be your brother, and take necessary precautions.

So what did I miss? I’m sure there are a million more secret brother or sister stories out there. Comment people, comment!

Lesson #12: Disabled people have amazing abilities.

I’ve recently been encouraged to get this blog going again, so here it is. I was reading my new favorite blog, Space Crip, and it got me thinking about how great it is to be disabled in sci-fi.  In most cases, it comes with awesome power and few disadvantages.  Touch has solidified the fact that autistic people are clearly superheroes. Now, Kiefer Sutherland is the father of the autistic child in question on Touch. We all know Kiefer Sutherland is a superhero, so maybe it just rubbed off on his child. The kid understands the entire universe, but his kryptonite is human communication. Even someone who is higher functioning on the autistic spectrum, like Sheldon from Big Bang Theory,  is the brightest mind physics has to offer. However, Sheldon doesn’t really understand the entire universe. Higher functioning means he’s not quite as smart as Kiefer Sutherland’s kid.

Rygel from Farscape on Thronesled

Even wheelchairs come with benefits, like Professor X’s ability to read minds. People can make any disability into a superpower, even being bitten by a radioactive spider. Did Peter Parker wither away with self-doubt after he learned he could spin webs? Did he undergo spider chemo? Of course not!  He was never a monster, but a superhero.  Man, don’t disabilities look like fun . . .

Lesson #11: How to tell if someone is a vampire.

Living in New Orleans, zombies and vampires are both serious threats.  And its very easy for zombies and vampires to blend in to the insanity here, looking just like everyone else.  This lesson helps prevent any problems with vampires before they start.  First, assess any possible signs of vampirism, like pale skin or pointy teeth.  In the case of Muppet vampires, look for pinkish/purple-ish skin and pointy ears. Muppet vampires actually come from the planet Vulcan.  Also check if the person seems awfully interested in blood.  Dexter on Dexter would be a strong candidate for vampirism, despite his golden tan.

The big test, however, occurs in the doorway to your house.  If someone knocks on your door, and you think the person may be a vampire, just leave the door open and walk into your kitchen.  If the person follows, he or she is just rude, but not a vampire.  If the person just stands at the door, waiting for you to invite her or him in, the person may be a vampire.  In order to prevent vampire violence, it is best to never invite anyone in, not even Muppets.

Count Von Count, a flexible vampire

Count Von Count, a flexible vampire

Lesson #10: In space, no one can hear your explosions.

This is not a lesson by me, but another one I found on the web.  I thought Sci-Fi Lessons readers might love this comic.  Enjoy!

Lesson #9: Most aliens are bipedal.

The Breen from Star Trek

The Breen from Star Trek

Along with speaking English, most intelligent aliens look a remarkable amount like humans.  It is amazing that creatures developed so similarly, even though we lived in different planets and different galaxies.  Even the Breen, a species in Star Trek whose bodies are never seen except completely encased in suits, are bipedal.  The Breen are mysterious, with only guesses regarding why they were the suits and what they look like underneath.  They seem so foreign, yet at the same time, so similar in their two-legged-ness.  Not only are they bipedal, but like humans, they also have two arms and one head.  I know that the Alien Actors Guild (AAG!) only allows bipedal aliens to join, making it extremely difficult for film or television to employ non-bipedal creatures.  However, producers could make more effort towards equal representation of the non-bipedal variety.

Jabba the Hut from Star Wars

Jabba the Hut from Star Wars

Most of the time, creatures with more or less than two legs have only served as peripheral characters in film and television, barely seen at all. When they are present, they are often evil villains, like Jabba the Hut in Star Wars. Jabba was very resistant to taking the role at all, but claimed that even a negative presence in the media was better than no visibility for his species.  Jabba has not only had to overcome earthlings’ bias towards the non-legged, but also bias towards his glandular disorder and weight issues.

Pilot from Farscape

Pilot from Farscape

Farscape does the best job so far on Earth at including aliens with multiple extremities in major and positive roles.  Pilot is one of the few non-bipedal aliens to serve as a main character.  Moya, the spaceship, is also without legs, although with great propulsion, and is a major element in the show.  Indeed, the series could not exist without some form of Moya.  I hope she asked for a raise.   Although Rygel XVI isn’t exactly without two legs, the fact that the deposed Hynerian leader flies around on his Thronesled most of the time, rarely walking or showing his legs, makes him appear non-bipedal at times.

Shows are making progress towards the inclusion of more or less legs.  However, it will be a long time before the leggy or leggless creatures feel accepted in the hearts of earthlings.

Lesson #8: Zombies come in two speeds: slow and fast.

I never feared an imminent zombie attack until I moved to New Orleans.  With an above ground cemetary only blocks away, the zombies can simply walk out of their graves rather than making the effort to dig out of many feet of dirt.  However, I’m in luck, because the zombies that come out of graves only come in “slow.”  It would be far worse if there were a viral outbreak, which tends to produce the “fast” zombies.

A slow zombie from Night of the Living Dead

A slow zombie from Night of the Living Dead

Slow zombies don’t seem too scary.  They are unending in their persistence and desire for human brains, but nonetheless, they’re slow.  Avoid wearing anything that could make you trip, and you should be okay.  Of course, the streets and sidewalks in New Orleans are so messed up that I might not be able to make it very far.  The only frightening part of slow zombies is their numbers and relentless pursuit.  Even a lone hand, cut off from its owner, could pose a threat.  If slow zombies come at you from all angles and there are enough of them, you had better be armed with a shotgun.  Fire and explosives are also an option.  If you fear zombies entering your house, you may want to keep these items under your bed.

Fast zombies have a less refined palate and will eat any part of the human, not just the brains.  Perhaps their enhanced speed comes from their more varied diet.  Fast zombies often are a horror made by humans and thus punishing us for our scientific arrogance.  They generally come from some sort of scientific advancement gone wrong, like a vaccine in I Am Legend or the T-virus i Resident Evil.

Of course, the two speeds of zombies are not this simple.  There are fast zombies with a particular taste for brains. There are slow zombies formed by viruses.  But there is one constant in dealing with zombies: Aim for the head.