Archive for January, 2012

Reading and reviewing the original Wizard of Oz books

Posted in books, movies, Wizard of Oz with tags , , , , on January 31, 2012 by Paxton

Following the Yellow Brick Road

So, I’m a huge fan of The Wizard of Oz.  I’ve been watching the movie since I was a kid. I’ve seen it countless times and I even own the soundtrack release from 1995 which included extended versions of many of the songs as well as a missing song (The Jitterbug) recorded but not included in the movie.

Wizard of Oz book

Around 2001 I checked out from the library the original Oz novel (above) by L Frank Baum and read it. And loved it. I even watched Dreamer of Oz, the TV movie starring John Ritter as L Frank Baum. Then, sometime around 2005-2006 I received the annotated edition of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (see below).  It’s a gorgeous hardbound book with all the original illustrations as well as a 100 page biography of L Frank Baum as well as very meticulous notations throughout the text of the story bringing into focus the impact this book had on society.

Wizard of Oz

A year later I made the resolution that I was going to read all of the original Baum Oz novels. There are 14 of them. I even acquired the first three books from in a bundled collection by Books of Wonder (also in the photo above).  However, that goal was somewhat forgotten and I haven’t done anything about it.  Until now.

I mentioned on the Nerd Lunch podcast recently (twice already) that in 2012, I’m picking this resolution back up and I’m going to finish the Oz novels.  And to keep myself accountable, I’m going to blog about it.  So a new feature is being created called Following the Yellow Brick Road which will chart my progress with each book.  I’ll do reviews of each book as well as any ancillary material appropriate to that book.  For instance, for the first three books there are Marvel comic adaptations as well as the original 1939 movie and the 1985 sequel, Return to Oz (which is an amalgam of books 2 and 3).  I may throw in quick mini-reviews of that stuff as well.

So, in 2012, join the Cavalcade of Awesome through the Kansas twister into the enchanted land of Oz.  I’m thoroughly looking forward to it.


The Cavalcade review of the 2011 Oscar Nominees

Posted in Academy Awards, movies, Oscars with tags , , , on January 26, 2012 by Paxton

Oscars Wild!

Well, the academy released the Oscar nominations for this year’s Academy Awards.  Again, some surprises, some not so surprising.  I usually like to take a look at the most popular categories and give you some of my thoughts on the decisions.  Looking back, I see I’ve done this recap since 2007 (for the 2006 movie year).  Here are those articles:


Normally, by now, I’ve posted my Movie Board articles telling you guys what my favorite/least favorite movies of the year are.  However, I’m still catching up on Oscar eligible movies, so I’ll have those up in a few weeks.  I have my preliminary list, but there are some good ones I need to see just to be sure.

Anyway, back to the Oscar nominees for this year.  You can find the full list of nominees at  Now, let’s take a look at the “money” categories and judge how the Academy did this year.

Tinker Tailer Soldier Spy
Actor in a Leading Role
Demián Bichir in “A Better Life” – What?  Who?
George Clooney in “The Descendants” – Man, Clooney no longer does the “one for you, one for me” formula.  He pretty much just does whatever the hell he wants to do.  How else do you explain The American or Men Who Stare At Goats?  I miss the Clooney from Ocean’s 11, Goodnight and Good Luck and Intolerable Cruelty.  I’m not having as much fun with the current version.
Jean Dujardin in “The Artist” – This movie actually doesn’t sound that bad, but I have yet to see it.
Gary Oldman in “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” – Looks amazing.  Really want to see this movie.  Oldman is great in pretty much everything.
Brad Pitt in “Moneyball” – Again, I really want to see this but have not yet had the opportunity.

Actor in a Supporting Role
Kenneth Branagh in “My Week with Marilyn” – This movie doesn’t look great.
Jonah Hill in “Moneyball” – Props to Jonah for dipping his toes into the dramatic pool.
Nick Nolte in “Warrior” – I hear this movie is great, but I can’t support a Nolte nomination.  For anything.
Christopher Plummer in “Beginners” – Meh.
Max von Sydow in “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” – This movie looks amazing.  But I’m reluctant to see it because as a new dad, I feel the heavy father-son relationship at the center of this plot will completely undo the macho-man hold on my emotions and cause me to bawl like my wife at cheesy cell phone commercials.

Dragon Tattoo
Actress in a Leading Role
Glenn Close in “Albert Nobbs” – Close may be fantastic in this, but it just “feels” tailor made for the Oscars.  Like they were trying to get Close a nomination.  Julie Andrews did gender bending first in Victor/Victoria.  Close’s makeup in this just looks like posturing for an Oscar. See also Nicole Kidman’s makeup in The Hours and Charlize Theron’s in Monster.
Viola Davis in “The Help” – Better movie than I expected and Viola was great in it.
Rooney Mara in “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” – Really, really good movie.  Hard to watch, but very good.  Rooney Mara is also great in it.
Meryl Streep in “The Iron Lady” – I imagine this is good.  I want to see it.
Michelle Williams in “My Week with Marilyn” – Not a fan of Michelle Williams.

Continue reading

Nerd Lunch Episode 21: Comic Book Scenarios

Posted in comic books, podcast with tags , , , , , on January 25, 2012 by Paxton

Nerd Lunch Podcast

Episode 21 has gone LIVE, my friends. This week we are down a man as Jeeg has flown off to Europe to find himself. In the meantime, we invited Vanessa and Erika from Girls Gone Geek to join us for a lively discussion about comic books.

Phantom Eagle

Specifically we are talking about comic book scenarios. What sidekick would we like to have? What would we do if we ever got super powers? What character would we kill and make sure stays dead? These are the nerdy questions we ask ourselves and sometimes answer with very little geeky rambling.  Well, some rambling.

Download this episode from iTunes or listen to it on Feedburner. And yes, we are still on the Zune Marketplace.

Nerd Lunch Episode 20: Movie Sequels

Posted in movies, podcast, sequels with tags , , , , on January 19, 2012 by Paxton

Nerd Lunch Podcast

Episode 20 is now available to the legions of Nerd Lunchketeers. This week we are joined again by a fellow Jacksonvillian Robert Zerbe of To The Escape Hatch.  This week we discuss the always relevant topic of movie sequels.

War Games 2

I’ve discussed the subject of movie sequels before, but this is a more in depth investigation.  A drill down, if you will.

We talk about sequels we feel work, sequels we feel don’t work, sequels we wish had never existed and we even discuss movies that never got sequels but we wish had.  It’s a lively discussion that I think you’ll enjoy.  So join us, won’t you?

Download this episode from iTunes or listen to it on Feedburner. And yes, we are still on the Zune Marketplace.

Running the Jacksonville Bank Marathon as Darth Vader

Posted in exercise, life, running with tags , , on January 18, 2012 by Paxton

In Dec 2010 I ran my first marathon. It was the Jacksonville Bank Marathon. I wanted to do something special so I ran it as The Flash.  Well, I wore the Flash insignia on my shirt.  My friend Mike ran it as Superman.  Take a look.

So when I decided to run the marathon again in 2011, I wanted to again do something different. I decided to run as Darth Vader.  I’ve talked about this decision several times on the Nerd Lunch Podcast, so I thought I’d share with you guys how we made the Vader costume and also made it “run friendly”.

First step, I bought a Darth Vader costume shirt.  You can pretty much pick them up anywhere.  This is an easy way to get the majority of the costume in one fell swoop.  Plus, this is easier than attaching a bunch of crap to a black shirt.  Especially when you will be running 26+ miles in said shirt + crap.

Vader costume shirt

I then asked my wife who is an incredible seamstress to make me a mini-cape.  My inspiration for this mini-cape came from a Superman costume shirt on

So, to begin, Steph got a yard of black matte fabric.
cape 1

She then cut it into two rectangles with her rotary cutter.  Next she sliced off the edges to make it taper outwards at the bottom.
cape 2

Steph ironed down the edges to make it easier to hem.
cape 3

Then she actually hemmed down the edges.
cape 4

Continue reading