Archive for February, 2012

Nerd Lunch Episode 26: Talking memories of Retro Technology with The Retroist

Posted in podcast, technology with tags , , , , on February 28, 2012 by Paxton

Nerd Lunch Podcast

And we are BACK after our 25th episode spectacular. This week we have a very special guest. The guys and I are a big fan of him and I know you are too. This week we are joined by The Retroist, the brains behind the Retroist site and the awesome Retroist podcast.

The Retroist

This week, we take the opportunity of having an expert in “retro-ology” to look back at our memories of retro technology. We talk about things like cameras, Fox Photo, VCRs and the Atari 2600. It’s a lively discussion that will have you skipping down memory lane. And for you youngsters, you can hear what it was like “back in our day”.

Download this episode from iTunes or listen to it on Feedburner. And, of course, Zune Marketplace.

Jeeg tried to find a way to fax the episode to you, but the solution involved an RCA to coax converter and copious amounts of black magic.  It seemed like a lot of work.

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I ponder a modern day WarGames sequel with the original cast

Posted in 80s, movies, pop culture, War Games with tags , , , , on February 24, 2012 by Paxton

LEB logo

We have a new assignment for The League this week. The League of Extraordinary Bloggers, that is.  This week, Brian asks what 80s kid/teen movie would we want to see a sequel to today, including the original cast members. And what do we envision those characters to be doing now?

Great question Brian, and I really had to think about this one. I’ve talked about my views on movie sequels here. I also talked about them for Episode 20 of the Nerd Lunch podcast.  Essentially, I like sequels.  If I enjoy the characters then I want to see those characters again.  However, Hollywood has totally perverted the idea of a sequel and it makes it hard for good legitimate sequels to get a break.

Anyway, for this week’s assignment, I briefly thought about sequels to Ferris Bueller and The Goonies. But if there were sequels to those, I would have wanted them to be in the 80s or early 90s. Not now.  Shawn over at Branded in the 80s pondered a third Teen Wolf movie starring Michael J Fox and Jason Bateman which quite literally blew my mind.  How did I not think of that?  However, I agree with him, the time for that sequel would have been around 1991 when Fox was still up for it.  Doc Hollywood Fox would have been awesome in a Teen Wolf Three.  But I digress.

So, I thought about it and I think I would really like to see a modern day sequel to the 1983 hit, War Games starring Matthew Broderick, Dabney Coleman and Ally Sheedy.

War Games

War Games is one of my favorite movies from the 80s. Broderick is so great as the goofy, funny, computer dork David Lightman. Ally Sheedy was amazingly cute as Jennifer Mack, Lightman’s crush and eventual love interest. I highly identified with Lightman in this movie. I was into computers and a bit of an introvert.  Especially many years later in high school. I even got in trouble a few times for saying snarky remarks in the middle of class. However, I did not have the incredible computer setup that Lightman has in his room. That collection of hardware is amazing. For those that don’t know, it was a sort of “kit-bashed” IMSAI 8080 computer.  A-mazing.

Also, another reason I love this movie is that the director, John Badham, was raised in my hometown of Birmingham, AL (even though he was born in the UK).  There is a scene in the movie in which a tour group at NORAD is identified as being from Birmingham, AL.  This is an homage to Badham’s hometown.

So, in my modern day sequel, what are the characters from the movie doing today?


Dr John McKittrick – After the events of the original movie, Dr McKittrick kept in touch with David throughout college. He even supplied him with recommendations to MIT. McKittrick would help David get a job with NORAD after graduation.  McKittrick would mentor David for many years within NORAD until he is appointed the director of the National Security Agency (NSA). As Director, McKittrick would bring David over from NORAD as a high level code breaker. At the time of the sequel, McKittrick is only a year or two from retiring as Director.


David Lightman – After high school, David is accepted into MIT with a full ride (obviously helped by some highly placed government recommendations).  David graduates with honors and begins working for NORAD as Dr McKittrick’s protege. David would work with McKittrick for many years afterward.  After McKittrick is appointed the Director of the NSA, David would accept a high level job with his mentor.  He would eventually gain the coveted title of Head Cryptographer.  As the HC, David oversees the NSA’s version of WOPR called DECODR. It’s a code breaking super computer used to crack highly encrypted data.  Late one evening, the DECODR comes across an encryption it can’t break and David receives an email stating that this “unbreakable code” will be auctioned off to the highest bidder in 24 hours.  Lightman calls in McKittrick and they must figure out who wrote the encryption and how they can solve it before the encryption code is released into the wild.

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Looking at various Wonderful Wizard of Oz adaptations

Posted in books, movies, pop culture, Wizard of Oz with tags , , , , , on February 24, 2012 by Paxton

Following the Yellow Brick Road

Earlier this week I posted my review of Baum’s first and most famous Oz novel, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.  Now let’s take a look at some of the adaptations/re-interpretations of that original Oz book.

There were several Broadway and stage plays of the Wizard of Oz especially in the nearly 40 years between the release of the novel and the production of the MGM movie.  Baum originally had no intention of writing an Oz sequel but he did produce a stage play of the novel.  The popularity of one of these stage plays directly led to Baum writing the first Oz sequel.

Wizard of Oz
The Wizard of Oz (1939) – The original MGM musical. At this point, this movie is probably more well known than the books.  I watched it on Blu-Ray right after I finished the book.  I love this movie so much.  It’s just amazing.  Every time I watch it I love it more.  I think I’ve mentioned that I own the soundtrack and you should know I’ve been listening to it all week.

Journey Back to Oz
Journey Back to Oz (1974) – Animated movie that is the “official” sequel to the 1939 MGM movie. Not really based on any of the other Oz books. The producers really went all out. Dorothy is voiced by Judy Garland’s daughter, Liza Minelli. Margaret Hamilton who played the Wicked Witch in the 1939 movie voiced Aunt Em in this sequel. The audio track for this movie was recorded in 1964. It took 10 years for the producers to raise enough money to complete the animation which was done in 1974.  This is the first time I remember seeing the character Jack Pumpkinhead who actually shows up in Baum’s later books.

Marvelous Wizard of Oz comic
MGM’s Marvelous Wizard of Oz (1975) – The first comic collaboration between Marvel and DC. Written by Roy Thomas and drawn by John Buscema and Tony DeZuniga. It’s a straight adaptation of the MGM movie.  Nothing more, nothing less.  Great art, though.  Marvel continued this series with one more issue which you’ll see in my next installment.

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Review of Oz Book 1: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L Frank Baum (1900)

Posted in books, movies, pop culture, Wizard of Oz with tags , , , , , , on February 22, 2012 by Paxton

Following the Yellow Brick Road

Earlier this year I vowed that I was going to read all of the original 14 Oz books this year. And to hold myself accountable, I’m going to blog reviews of the books as I read them.

And so the journey begins.

Wonderful Wizard of Oz cover 1

I began my reading with my Books of Wonder copy of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. I’ve read this two or three times now, but it’s such a quick and easy read I had no problem jumping right in.

It’s hard not to compare this book to the 1939 movie with Judy Garland and company. That movie is so iconic it’s tough not to picture it when you are reading.  However, I did my best.  Denslow’s illustrations really help, though.  Plus, the basics of the plot in this book are woven all through the movie.  But the differences between this book and the movie make the book that much more endearing.

Wizard of Oz 1st edition
Wizard of Oz 1st edition

Like I said, the basics are the same.  Young Dorothy and her dog Toto are whisked away to the land of Oz by a cyclone leaving behind Aunt Em and Uncle Henry.  There she travels to the City of Emeralds to see Oz, the great and powerful, in hopes that he can return her to Kansas.  Along the way she meets the Scarecrow, Tin Woodsman and the Cowardly Lion.  While these basics are the same, the journey these characters make is different and much more dangerous than the MGM movie.

Some of the differences in the book include Dorothy meeting the Good Witch of the North in Munchkinland instead of Glinda, the Good Witch of the South (who she meets in the movie).  Glinda doesn’t show up until the very end of the book.  Also, and I think many people know this now, the magical shoes are silver in the book instead of ruby.  We also don’t meet the Wicked Witch of the West face to face (they talk a lot about her) until the last third of the book.  And those are just some of the differences to the movie.

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Nerd Lunch Episode 25: Celebrating 25 Episodes by Redoing Smallville

Posted in comic books, Superman, TV shows with tags , , , on February 21, 2012 by Paxton

Nerd Lunch Podcast

This is it. We have reached our 25th episode. Thanks to all of the fans that listen who made this happen. So, how do we celebrate our 25th episode? We invited one of the members of the Atomic Geeks, our sister podcast, to join us. In the fourth chair for this rodeo is Michael Digiovanni.  And our topic this week?  We steal a franchise topic from the Geeks.  Yes, this week, we do a Redo.

Smallville

And we are redoing the WB/CW show Smallville. It’s an interesting discussion because three of us are comic book guys and one of us isn’t. Plus, for the most part, we are all divided on how we feel about the show as a whole.  So listen to us take apart this show and examine what was done right, what was done wrong and how the four of us would have fixed it and made it better.

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

TV Guide Star Wars Episode I collector covers from 1999

Posted in movies, pop culture, Star Wars with tags , , on February 17, 2012 by Paxton

This week I’ve been taking a look at some of the promotional items that were released in 1999 to celebrate the first new Star Wars movie since Return of the Jedi in 1983. I’ve looked at the current 3D movie promotions as well as the Pepsi Episode I collector soda cans as well as soda bottles. Continuing my look at the promotional extravaganza that was the Star Wars Episode I marketing machine, today I’m going to look at two separate TV Guide promotional cover spreads for Episode I.

The first group of covers was from May 15 – 21, 1999. There were four collector covers featuring various Star Wars characters.  When you laid them all side by side they combined to form one giant painting.

TV Guide covers 1-1TV Guide covers 1-2

You can click the images to see them bigger on Flickr. I love these images and the artwork is great.

The second set of covers was a month later on Jun 12 – 18, 1999. It was also four collector covers featuring Star Wars characters that combined to form one giant image. This group focused more on the CGI characters of Episode I.

TV Guide covers 2-1TV Guide covers 2-2

You can click the images to see them bigger on Flickr.

Not surprisingly, Episode I made the cover of Time Magazine.

Star Wars Ep 1 Time Magazine

This issue was a month before the release on Apr 26, 1999.

Here’s some other random Pepsi promotional material I recently found.

Pepsi sticker 1

Pepsi sticker 2

This is a group of four Pepsi stickers promoting Episode I. I think I got these at the first Star Wars Celebration in Denver.

Pepsi school poster
Here’s a Pepsi promo poster to “Collect All 24 Cans”. It was used in supermarket displays and schools.  Notice it uses the image of one of the stickers in the previous post.  I like that they have all the cans displayed around the poster’s border.  I’m not sure if there were other posters featuring the images in the above stickers.

Pepsi promo

Here’s a corner sticker promotion. It was normally stuck in the corner of fridge case doors in gas stations.  It also compels you to collect all 24 Pepsi cans.  I like the prominent image of Darth Maul in this one.

Pepsi’s 1999 Star Wars Episode I collector bottles

Posted in Mountain Dew, movies, Pepsi, pop culture, soda, Star Wars with tags , , , , , on February 16, 2012 by Paxton

Sodapalooza

Star Wars Pepsi display

The other day, I took a look at the 1999 Pepsi Star Wars Episode I collector cans. At the same time as the collector cans, Pepsi also put Star Wars characters on their bottles.  They were the same characters that are on the cans, but the bottles included soda flavors not involved in the can promotion.  And only one character per flavor.

Here are the main Pepsi Star Wars character bottles.

Pepsi and Pepsi One

This is the regular Pepsi and Pepsi One bottle labels. Anakin was on all the Pepsi bottles as he was the #1 character can. C3PO was the only one on Pepsi One bottles and he was also on the Pepsi One cans.

Diet Pepsi and Mtn Dew

These are the Diet Pepsi and Mountain Dew bottles featuring Queen Amidala and Darth Maul.  They both were also on those respective cans.

Diet Mt Dew and Wild Cherry Pepsi

Diet Mt Dew and Wild Cherry Pepsi were not a part of the collector can promotion.  Padme was originally on Diet Pepsi cans and Capt Panaka was on Mountain Dew cans.

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