Big Ten!

Some people will remember him from American Top 40. Others will remember him as the voice of Shaggy. My formative memory of this legendary voiceman will always be fixated to a slightly more obscure character.

And starring the voice of Casey Kasem as...

Keep your feet on the ground, keep reaching for the stars… and transmute.

At the mountains of little plastic madness

This morning, my attention was drawn to a Kickstarter campaign to fund a short-run, homebrew toy company making a new line of Star Wars action figures based on the stories of H.P. Lovecraft. The donation/invstment thresholds at which you got Neat Stuff – including a full set of all four figures, a print of the packaging artwork free of text and logos, and other goodies – were really reasonable. I was in love! With the 3 3/4-inch spawn of Cthulhu!

(Before going any further, those interested can find the Kickstarter here.) And at the same time, I realized that this has got to stop. The boutique, niche-interest toymakers of the world have got to stop tempting me with things specifically engineered to appeal to multiple flavors of retro nostalgia at once. Read More

Everybody’s geekin’ for the weekend, part three: Space (the final frontier)

An enterprising visitHaving gone to Arkadia Retrocade on Friday night in Fayetteville, followed by a Saturday morning visit to the Stafford Air & Space Museum in Weatherford, Oklahoma, we headed homeward, but with one more stop planned in Oklahoma City itself (40 minutes east of Weatherford) before returning to Fort Smith.

The second leg of the central Oklahoma space pilgrimage took us to Oklahoma City proper, in a part of town that we might not have visited otherwise but for the presence of a starship. In a rented space next to a roofing repair company in Oklahoma City is one of the only two 360-degree classic Star Trek bridge sets in the United States, replicating – if not improving on – the Enterprise set from the original ’60s series.

Starbase Studios was holding one of its rare open house events. They’re rare because the bridge is a working film set, and exposing it to the public puts it at increased risk of suffering accidental damage. Keeping the entire set fully lit (rather than the usual practice of only lighting those sections needed for a particular spot), and running fans to make the already-warm studio space tolerable for visitors, runs up a considerable electric bill, even for a single day.

We joked en route that the directions to the nondescript studio building sounded like a ransom note – in between lines of the directions I had printed out from the studio’s web site, I was riffing helpful additions like “place the money in an unmarked paper sack inside the newspaper vending machine on the corner; do not look around you, you are being watched.

The verdict? Totally. worth. it. Read More

A challenging emulation situation

O'Brien forecasts the weatherI recently had to put an insane amount of time and research into setting up a new emulator for an extinct computer system whose output I once relied upon to a great degree. I’ve set up complicated emulators before, all the way back to the earliest versions of MAME where there wasn’t much of a community yet and you really were on your own figuring it all out. And even that was simple compared to this.

Is it an emulator for a game system, or so I can play a game? No. It’s an emualtor that makes one of my computers generate a display like the Weather Channel’s local forecasts from the early 1990s. Read More

Clear direction: ten of Cliff Bole’s best

As if losing Harold Ramis on Monday wasn’t enough, genre fans get another kick in the teeth, though perhaps not as high-profile as Ramis. Frequent-flyer Star Trek director Cliff Bole left us on February 15th, though word only leaked out to fandom today. With its very fixed lighting grid and the extremely limited setups afforded by sets that were not built “wild” (i.e. chunks of the set could be wheeled out of place to offer a perspective that would be impossible with a solidly-built three-or-four-wall set), Star Trek: The Next Generation was, perhaps, not the best showcase for a director. You had a week to prep, you had an ensemble cast who would undoubtedly tell you – though kindly – that they didn’t really need direction as such, and you had a monolithic, unmovable central set with bright, even lighting. Now what? Cliff Bole was one of a handful of Trek directors who managed to stand out without blowing out the budget or honking off the cast (two things that would likely prevent any director from becoming the recurring fixture that Bole was).

Directed by Cliff Bole

Here are my recommendations for ten of his best that aren’t The Best Of Both Worlds: episodes that he managed to rock despite limited resources and the show’s admittedly limited playbook. Read More

Exit Egon: R.I.P. Harold Ramis

Writer, actor and director Harold Ramis died today at the age of 69. In all of the Ghostbusters-centric remembrance, it’s easy to forget that Ramis is also credited with co-writing that movie, along with National Lampoon’s Vacation, Stripes, Animal House, and many others, as well as writing and directing such movies as Caddyshack and Groundhog Day.

Egon Spengler

And yet all of the memorializing hews to the magnetic pull of Ghostbusters, as if that was the only movie with which Ramis had ever been associated. But there’s a reason for that: Egon Spengler was a geek hero of the highest order. Read More

It’s a great pity…

…that local TV station KHBS (my former employers, so it’s not as if they don’t know a thing about me!) couldn’t think of a way to localize this story by contacting, oh, I don’t know, a local author who’s written a giant book on the subject.

Doctor Who on Channel 40!?

The above Twitter link led to this story, which was almost certainly relayed straight from the wire service.

Still, I’m highly amused at the thought of channel 40, or even their Twitter account, running a story about Doctor Who. 😆

Now, about all this Doctor Who business… Read More