Archive for September, 2012

Bionic Reviews: Cyborg #3 – High Crystal by Martin Caidin (1974)

Posted in Bionic Man, books, pop culture, Six Million Dollar Man, TV shows with tags , , , , , , , on September 27, 2012 by Paxton

Bionic Review

SMDM Book

The third book in Martin Caidin’s Cyborg series starring Steve Austin is Cyborg #3: High Crystal. It was published in hardback in 1974.

High Crystal hardback High Crystal US pb

The story for this book has it’s origins in another popular book from the early 70s called Chariots of the Gods, which I read many years ago. Essentially, Chariots involves an investigation of ancient civilizations that display a certain “technology” they had no way of obtaining.  And the theory of how these early civilizations got that technology was…aliens.  Yes, that book is a little ridiculous.  The situations it investigates are very real, but the theories used to explain the situations are “out there”.  But High Crystal takes the ancient civilization and their access to “high technology” and uses it to form an interesting mystery.  Honestly, based on the fact that this book had it’s roots in Chariots of the Gods and revolved around what seemed to be a “magic energy crystal”, I was not looking forward to reading this book.  It sounded straight up 70s and Bohemian.  Not exactly what I was looking for in a Six Million Dollar Man book.  But due to my current obsession with all things bionic, I read the book anyway.

High Crystal UK pb

The story begins with a spy plane being downed in the mountains of Peru. The one surviving member of the crew discovers a man-made roadway traveling through the mountains where no civilization currently exists, or any civilization has existed in thousands of years.  So, when he returns to his superiors, they are obviously interested in what’s going on.  Steve joins a group of scientists and soldiers on a mission to discover the road and find out where it came from and where it leads.  Along the way they discover that a criminal organization will do anything to keep the discovery to themselves.

I was surprised how much better this book is than Operation Nuke.  There are still some problems with Caidin’s overly descriptive writing, which is odd considering his books are usually sub-200 pages.  But the feel of this book was fun and much more energetic than the last book.  This book’s events had the historical roadtrip feel of something like Matthew Reilly’s 7 Deadly Wonders or even Raiders of the Lost Ark.  And there is lots of bionic action by Steve Austin.  Since they are trudging through the Peruvian jungles, there are plenty of places for Steve to methodically chop through underbrush or stare down a cougar (yes, that actually happened).  And it helped that Steve and his group were being chased by the criminal organization throughout their trip which gives you the “ticking clock” suspense that was lacking in the second book.  Once they discover what is at the end of the road, it isn’t disappointing.  And the group seems to barely escape whatever happens to them.  The book even leaves a sort of “not quite finished” ending you expect from a story like this.  So this was a MUCH better read than the last book and it felt like it could have been a later season episode of the series.  However, unfortunately, this book was not adapted into an episode of the TV series.  There were some elements like the ancient civilizations that made it into the third Six Million Dollar Man TV movie, Solid Gold Kidnapping, but it was just one small element and none of the rest of the story made it.  It’s a shame, this would have been a good episode (or TV movie).

There’s only one more book left in the original Caidin Cyborg novels, Cyborg IV.  I look forward to reading it.  It sounds like it could be amazing.

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Nerd Lunch Episode 54: Give it a Chance 2: Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris

Posted in books, monsters, podcast, TV shows, vampires with tags , , , , , , on September 25, 2012 by Paxton

Nerd Lunch Podcast

We have arrived at Episode 54 of the podcast. This week we return to a previous topic called Give It A Chance. We first did this topic back in Episode 24 in which we gave anime a chance and we had Shawn Robare as our guide.  This week Jen Usellis (Episode 11) returns to the fourth chair to guide the three of us geeky guys through the world of Sookie Stackhouse.  That’s right, the three of us read Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris, the first Southern Vampire Mystery and the genesis of the TV show True Blood.

Dead Until Dark Sookie Stackhouse

Jen guides us through the gothic horror romance genre and teaches us all a thing or two about why this series is so popular.  We mostly discuss the book, but there is a part at the end in which we discuss the first few episodes of the TV show starring Anna Paquin as Sookie Stackhouse.

We learn this week that two of the three of us have watched the show and that two of the three of us hate the vampire called “Bubba” in the novel.  We also learn that vampire Bill has a stupid name and is a “black hole of charisma”.

Lots to learn, lots to hear in this episode.  Download it from iTunes or listen to it on Feedburner.

Or, listen to it within your browser here.

Review of Oz Book 8: Tik-Tok of Oz (1914)

Posted in books, pop culture, reviews, Wizard of Oz with tags , , , , , on September 18, 2012 by Paxton

Following the Yellow Brick Road

Baum wrote the 8th Oz book, Tik-Tok of Oz, in 1914, one year after The Patchwork Girl of Oz.

This book is titled after Tik-Tok, the mechanical man.  The character of Tik-Tok first appeared in the third book, Ozma of Oz, but has also appeared in each subsequent book. Tik-Tok may be more familiar to people based on his appearance in the 1984 movie, Return to Oz.

Tik Tok in Return to Oz

A year before this book, in 1913, Baum attempted to stage a play based on a story that was heavily adapted from the third Oz book, Ozma of Oz.  He called it The Tik-Tok Man of Oz.  It was this play that would serve as the basis of this eighth book in the Oz series.  However, despite being named in the title, this book isn’t really about Tik-Tok, it’s more about the Shaggy Man and his quest to find his brother.

The story starts off with Queen Anne of Oogaboo forming an army to conquer the Emerald City. However, Glinda mixes up the roads between Oogaboo and the Emerald City forcing the army to March around Oz aimlessly. The group meets up with Betsy Bobbin and her mule Hank. Queen Anne wants to have them arrested but Shaggy Man comes along and convinces her not to. Shaggy Man explains that he’s out looking for his brother who has become a prisoner of the Nome King (last seen in The Emerald City of Oz). When Queen Anne learns of the Nome King’s riches, she instead decides to conquer him instead of Ozma and the Emerald City.  The group then travels to the Nome King’s domain to get Shaggy Man’s brother back and they have several adventures along the way.

Continue reading

Nerd Lunch Episode 53: Drilldown on the Christopher Nolan Batman Trilogy

Posted in Batman, movies, podcast, pop culture with tags , , , , , on September 18, 2012 by Paxton

Nerd Lunch Podcast

Welcome to episode 53. This week we are joined by Christian from the Atomic Geeks podcast.  Christian is here to discuss the Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy now that it is all done and finished.

Nolan Batman
(Via itno.co.uk)

Since we are discussing this trilogy, Jeeg had to bow out since he has not seen the last movie.  And believe me, that was a wise decision because we spoil the HELL out of this trilogy.  So if you haven’t seen any of these movies, don’t listen because we don’t hold back.  And Christian makes sure to say SPOILER ALERT after he says his spoiler.  So, caveat emptor.

Download this episode from iTunes or Feedburner.

Or, listen to the show from within your browser here.

Nerd Lunch Episode 52: Strategic Plan for the future of DC Comics’ movie franchises

Posted in Batman, comic books, movies, podcast, Superman, The Flash with tags , , , , , , , on September 12, 2012 by Paxton

Nerd Lunch Podcast

This week on the podcast we are joined by William Bruce West, a fellow pop culture blogger.  Our discussion? We finally talk about DC Comics and the current situation they are in with their movies.

DC/Warner Bros movies
(Via The Playlist)

We talk about what they’ve done right and what they’ve done wrong. We talk about why we think nearly every one of DC’s major comic character movies suck (besides Batman). We discuss weaknesses and opportunities. We discuss what we want to see out of them moving forward. Essentially we’ve come up with a strategic plan for Warner Bros/DC for moving forward with movie adaptations their comic book franchises. I think we pretty much figured it out.

See how by downloading this episode from iTunes or on Feedburner.

Or just listen to the show from within your browser by clicking here.

9 days left to support Strange Kids Comix Magazine #3

Posted in magazine, nostalgia, pop culture with tags , , , , , on September 7, 2012 by Paxton

Issue #3 of the Strange Kids Club Comix Magazine has 9 days left on Kickstarter and less than $200 left to be fully funded.

There is a lot of content packed into this issue of the anthology by a lot of really awesome contributors.

Here again is the amazing cover by Jason Edmiston:

SKC Comix #3

Also packed into this issue are creators like Brent Engstrom, Jon David Guerra and John Rozum. There is also written content by such blogging luminaries as Brian Adams (Cool and Collected), Shawn Robare (Branded in the 80s) and myself (here).

You will not want to miss this.  Plus, each level of contribution has tons of extra swag you can grab.  But those contribution levels are slowly becoming sold out.  So get over there while you can.

Now head over to this issue’s Kickstarter page, show your support for this most awesome collection of art and content.  You will not be disappointed.

5 school supplies from back in the day that I couldn’t go to school without

Posted in nostalgia, personal, pop culture with tags , , , on September 4, 2012 by Paxton

LEB

New assignment from The League.  The assignment says simply, “Back to School”.

Back to School
(Via UKnowKids.com)

I had a ton of fun during the summers of my youth. I practically lived at the community pool and one week each summer my family would go to Myrtle Beach with my cousins. It was awesome. But, then comes the last few weeks in August. The city swimming leagues have finished up their seasons, the pools are closing and the stores have put up their “back to school” displays.  I loved this time.  As much as I enjoyed the summer, the idea of going to K-Mart or Green Valley Drug Store for “school supplies” elicited no end of excited fist pumps from my elementary school self.

So, thinking about back to school, I wanted to take a look at how a young me would “gear up” for the school year.  So, here are 5 things I couldn’t start my school year without back in the day.

Trapper Keeper front Trapper Keeper inside
1. Trapper Keeper – Thanks to Shawn for the pics.  I had several Trapper Keepers during my schoolyard  life.  I usually gravitated towards the solid color Keeper (blue, red, green, etc).  However, the “Designer Series” was always very eye-catching.  I loved the side pockets in the folders.  Amazing design decision.  And the clipboard in the back was awesome as well.  I loved the zipper pocket you could hook into the 3 ring binder and the plastic slider used to open said 3 ring was whisper silent.  This is probably the greatest achievement in school supplies since the erasable pen.  Speaking of…

Bic Erasable pens
2. Bic Erasable pens – I loved these things and couldn’t begin a school year without at least 1 new package.  It has been my Holy Grail for the longest time to find a Bic Erasable pen from the 80s. It was my pen of choice throughout elementary school and high school. They came in solid body colors (red, blue, yellow, green, etc), wrote in blue ink and didn’t clump.  Check out a commercial for them here.  Scripto also made an erasable pen but in my eyes it was inferior.  The ink globbed  up into a mess everytime you started to write.  Go Bic Erasable or go home, ladies.

college ruled paper
3. College-rule loose leaf paper – All of my friends were in love with college rule.  In our eyes, wide rule was for kindergarteners.    I think I liked it because when we’d have to write out vocabulary words or a report, it just looked neater and more professional on college rule as opposed to wide rule.  For instance, two book reports are identical in content but one is written on wide rule and one is written on college rule.  In my 9-10 year old head if the wide rule got a B, then the report on the college rule would get an A+.  And a Ferrari.  And maybe marry the hot chemistry teacher.

Mead 5 subject notebook
4. 5 subject notebook – They were like the Franklin day planners for elementary school kids.  FIVE subjects in one notebook?  It almost blew your mind to think about it.  And the manila dividers with pockets were just gravy, baby.  I lived and breathed these things.  No school year was complete without a few of these.

Sinister Scarecrow Shark Reef Skeleton Island
5. The Three Investigators books – Not a “school supply” per se, but these were essential reading for my friends and me in elementary school. During library time, we would literally fight and push each other down in the mad free for all that would ensue if we found a new book sitting on the shelf.  And if you were the first to read said book, you loudly spoiled the mystery ending as often as possible for everyone to hear in order to suck all the enjoyment out of anyone else reading it.  It was cutthroat and not for the faint of heart. But, to the victor go the spoils…

Other Back to School activities from around the League:
1. Green Plastic Squirt Gun gives an awesome timeline of the metal lunchboxes they carried throughout elementary school.
2. Good Will Hunting 4 Geeks gives us a lineup of his dream pop culture teachers from movies/TV. And yes, he includes Good Will Hunting.
3. Shez Crafti talks about an obscure song from the second Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles live action movie.
4. Rediscover the 80s talks about the thin line between school supply and toy.