Archive for December, 2012

Nerd Lunch Extra Helping: The Ref (1994)

Posted in movies, podcast with tags , , , on December 27, 2012 by Paxton

Nerd Lunch Podcast

While I’m off overseeing the birth of my daughter, CT and Jeeg convene for a quick discussion about the little remembered Denis Leary movie, The Ref, from 1994.

The Ref

The fellas discuss their love for Mr Leary and JK Simmons  as well as the hatred that CT has for the Christmas candle hats the family wears.  It’s a fun roundtable about a hidden Christmas gem that you may or may not like depending on your tolerance level of Denis Leary.  So fire up your iTunes and download this directly into your ear holes.

Download this episode from iTunes or listen to it on Feedburner.

Or listen to it on our online player here.

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Review of Oz Book 10: Rinkitink in Oz (1916)

Posted in books, Classic literature, pop culture, Wizard of Oz with tags , , , , , on December 26, 2012 by Paxton

Following the Yellow Brick Road

The tenth book of Oz was released in 1916. It was called Rinkitink in Oz.

Rinkitink in Oz

This book is an interesting entry in the series which makes for interesting reading. The bulk of this book was written 11 years prior to publication in 1905.  It was intended as a separate fantasy story not a part of the main Oz books.  This is clearly evident as you begin reading the book.  I wasn’t aware of this fact, so when I started reading I kept checking to make sure I was reading the correct book.  I had downloaded the eBook from Project Gutenberg and thought that maybe I had downloaded a book other than the one I intended.  Nope, it was clearly Rinkitink in Oz.

The story begins on the island of Pingaree.  Many years prior to this story, the King of Pingaree repelled an invasion with the help of three magical pearls given to him by the Mermaids.  Presently, the King passed down the secret of the pearls to his son, Inga.  Just after, the island is again invaded by the two neighboring islands that had attacked before and this time they catch the King off guard and he can’t get to the pearls in time to save his people.  The island is sacked and the people all become slaves.  The only ones not taken into slavery are the prince, Inga, the visiting King Rinkitink of Gilgad and his surly goat, Bilbil.  Inga retrieves the pearls from the wreckage of the castle, hides two of them in the toes of his shoes and places the third around his neck on a necklace.  The motley group lead by Inga then heads off to the invading islands to free his parents and his people.

What follows is a very entertaining story involving Inga and Rinkitink using the pearls to outwit and defeat the notorious armies of Regos and Coregos.  After the first page or so mentioning where these lands are in relation to Oz, there is literally no mention of Oz again until the very end of the book.  Inga discovers his parents have been put under the care of the newest Nome King, Kaliko, so he travels to the Nome King’s lands in Oz to retrieve them.  After this a few other familiar faces show up and, even though I really liked the story, I thought it wrapped up a little too “neatly”.  It’s like Baum had no ending and just shoe horned in some of his Oz characters as a deus ex machina.

Overall, though, like I said this was a very entertaining story that went to several very fun places and incorporated some cool magic and fantasy elements.  I’ll be interested to see if King Rinkitink, Inga or any of the Pingaree royal family show up again in the Baum Oz books, of which I now only have 4 left to read.  Odds are, though, I’m guessing they won’t.

Below is my checklist of Oz books.  I’ve crossed off the ones I’ve currently read.  Next up, The Lost Princess of Oz. Oz books checklist

6 Vintage holiday newspaper ads for non-holiday movies

Posted in Back to the Future, Christmas, holiday, movies, Star Wars with tags , , , , , , , on December 24, 2012 by Paxton

Cavalcade Gazette

Merry Christmas Eve!  Tomorrow is Christmas, let’s celebrate by looking at some awesomely vintage Christmas movie advertisements.

I’ve spoken before of my love of the newspaper movie section. One of the coolest things about this long lost section of the ever fading newspaper is that the ads would be spruced up for whatever holiday was current. But most especially for Christmas and New Years.

So, let’s take advantage of the fact that it’s Christmas Day and look at some vintage Christmas newspaper advertisements for movies that aren’t actually Christmas movies.

Holiday Hits 1 Holiday Hits 2
Showcase Cinemas Holiday Hits (Dec 16, 1983) – Welcome to “Christmastime at the Movies” in 1983.  A full page of movie ads for Showcase Cinemas featuring their “Holiday Hits of 1983”. Not one of which is a Christmas movie.  And the majority of which aren’t even remotely family movies.  Christine? Scarface? Sudden Impact? DC Cab?  Ok, well, who doesn’t love DC Cab, especially during the holidays?  But Christine and Gorky Park are filled with murder.  Sudden Impact?  Rape and murder.  Scarface? Cocaine and murder.  Yentl?  Barbara Streisand.  Not one of these movies would I take a child  or a family member to.

BTTF2 ad
Back to the Future Part II – From Dec 16, 1989, this ad is a particularly fun variation on the second of the famous Back to the Future posters. They’ve added Santa. I don’t know if this modification exists outside of this ad, but I hope and wish that it does.

Star Wars holiday ad
Star Wars – For the 1977 Christmas season the newspaper ad for Star Wars was modified to include “in character” holiday greetings. I love the sh*t out of this.

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Bionic Review: The Six Million Dollar Man TV movie (1973)

Posted in pop culture, Six Million Dollar Man, TV shows with tags , , , , , , on December 21, 2012 by Paxton

Bionic Review

SMDM Book

Steve Austin first appeared on TV in the made-for-television movie The Six Million Dollar Man which was broadcast in March 1973.  It appeared as the ABC Wednesday Movie of the Week. Here’s an item from the TV section of a 1973 newspaper announcing the airing of the movie. SMDM newspaper ad You can see Lee Majors’ picture in the upper left and the mention of the movie is in the upper right. Majors is sporting a pretty hardcore 70s mustache in that picture which he does NOT have in the movie.

Unlike the other bionic TV movies (and TV show), there really is no “title sequence” per se in this special. This particular movie starts with a computer screen telling the viewer the definition of the word cyborg and then cuts directly to a desert airfield and the movie title over Lee Majors walking towards camera.smdm_pilot1 The very first scene is the airplane crash that will create the future bionic man.  We then get all the setup with the OSO, or Office of Special Operations (changed to OSI, Office of Scientific Investigation, in the subsequent movies and TV show).  A man named Oliver Spencer, Oscar Goldman won’t appear until the second movie, is petitioning for money to create a “cyborg” for use in special ops.  Oliver Spencer is played very cold and calculating by Darren McGavin who would famously play the Old Man in A Christmas Story.  Spencer approaches Dr Rudy Wells, played by Martin Balsam, to convince Steve to volunteer to become their cyborg.

Most of the TV movie follows the original book, Cyborg, fairly closely. The movie focuses on Steve coming to grips with his bionic limbs and being trained to go out on missions. Majors plays Austin as very reluctant to accept the limbs and even when he does accept them, he still has a lot of problems understanding why they would want to do that to him and what is eventually going to be the cost to him. After all of the psychological drama, Spencer sends Austin on his first mission and we find out that it’s essentially a suicide mission.  One that Spencer wants to see if Austin can complete.  He remarks to Rudy that they can always build another bionic man.  Totally cold and hardcore, that Spencer.

This was a pretty good beginning.  It wasn’t great, but it was good.  A little slow in parts, but overall, I enjoyed it.  It should be noted that the bionic sound effect most identified with the show is not present here.  It had yet to become a staple in these early adventures.  It’s honestly weird to see Austin perform bionic feats and not have the bionic sound.  It just doesn’t sound “right”.  Other than that, I like Lee in this role and I look forward to the two other TV movies.

It’s interesting to note, though, that years later this TV movie was subsequently re-edited for syndication as a two-part episode called The Moon and the Desert.  This newer edit puts a later season intro on the episodes which is confusing considering the episodes’ content.  Also, Martin Balsam returned to do some voice over work to help bridge some of the disjointed scenes.  That in and of itself is off putting since Balsam never played Rudy Wells on the TV show, it was Allen Oppenheimer.  Also, since this syndicated cut was created after the show had gone off the air, there were several other scenes that were added from later season Six Million Dollar Man and even Bionic Woman episodes.  It’s a pretty crazy and baffling amalgamation of footage.  Surprisingly, the syndicated “Moon and Desert” episodes are included as a bonus feature on the complete series box set.  However, they are really only good to watch as a curiosity and not very entertaining.

Cult Film Club Episode 2 Part 1: What is a cult movie?

Posted in movies, nostalgia, podcast with tags , , , on December 20, 2012 by Paxton

Cult Film Club

We’ve made it to episode 2. In this second meeting of the Cult Film Club Jaime, Shawn and I discuss what the word “cult” means to us.

What is Cult?

We try to talk generally about the term and use examples, but the discussion gets involved so we had to split the episode into two parts. You can listen to Part 1 today in which we talk about the definition of cult films, the nature of cult films and we list our own personal examples of cult movies.

You can download Episode 2 Part 1 from iTunes or listen to it online here.

In Part 2, which should post in January, we discuss our own personal experiences with cult films.

My pitch for a new Rankin-Bass Christmas special

Posted in Christmas, holiday, pop culture, Rankin/Bass, Santa Claus, TV shows with tags , , , , on December 19, 2012 by Paxton

Last week I talked about the Rankin-Bass Santa Claus Trilogy and how those specials are probably my favorite of all the Christmas specials. On Tuesday, the Nerd Lunch podcast cobbled together ideas to create our own Christmas special. However, in preparing for that podcast and picking the characters and plot points I sort of created my own pitch/idea for a fourth Rankin-Bass Santa Claus special to act as a semi-sequel to the Santa Claus Trilogy.

So check out that Santa Claus Trilogy article for a refresher on the first three specials and sit back and let me tell you about my proposed fourth Rankin-Bass Santa Claus special.

It’s many years after the events of A Miser Brothers Christmas.  The elves are working in Santa’s workshop at the North Pole late in the night.  Tinsel, Santa’s head inventor/technician, is working on some advancements to the workshop’s magical systems.  All of a sudden, there’s an explosion in the Workshop and a terrifying man-beast appears in a magical swirl of smoke and sparks.  He roars, “I’M FREE!” and vanishes out of the ruins of the workshop leaving Tinsel staring at the empty spot wondering what just happened.

santa_and_mrs_claus

Tinsel immediately reports what happened to Santa who is equally as baffled as the elf.  Santa consults Winter the wizard about the strange events and Winter’s face falls and he whispers one word.  “Krampus.”

krampus1

Santa asks Winter, “What is a Krampus?”  Winter explains to Santa and the elf that Krampus is a malevolent being that thrives on making people feel sad and miserable.  “He hates Christmas.”, Winter explains, “And he hates you, Santa.”

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Nerd Lunch Episode 66: Creating the ultimate Christmas special

Posted in Christmas, holiday, podcast, pop culture, Rankin/Bass, Santa Claus with tags , , , , , , on December 18, 2012 by Paxton

Nerd Lunch Podcast

Episode 66 of the Nerd Lunch Podcast has stuffed itself down your chimney and is sitting in your stocking. Waiting.

This week we are joined by Mr Michael Digiovanni from The Atomic Geeks for a discussion about Christimas Specials.  Except we aren’t going to actually discuss the specials themselves, we are going to take our favorite characters from our favorite specials and start creating our own Nerd Lunch Christmas special.

Rankin Bass characters
Via RankinBass.com

We each pick a hero, a villain, some henchman, a narrator and a specific plot device (MacGuffin). Then we all talk about and pick the ones we like best and “Frankenstein” those ideas up into our very own Christmas special.  And it turns out pretty f**king awesome.  Give it a listen and see if you don’t agree.

Download this episode from iTunes or listen to it on Feedburner.