The strange Stooge story behind the gorilla with a gun GIF

December 16, 2018

The strange Stooge story behind the gorilla with a gun GIF

There is a popular GIF (in this usage, a short, repeating movie) of a gorilla maniacally firing a machine gun.

link to GIF at Giphy

It can be used to express different things, but I think I’ve seen it most as unbridled joy and enthusiasm…for example, because it’s Friday. ūüėČ

I got it recently in one of my Twitter feeds, the one for

The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip

posted by “Retro Horror” (@el_zombo).

There was some curiosity as to what the origin of the clip was…and I was happy to answer!

That’s from a 3 Stooges short,

A Bird in the Head (watch at YouTube)

In this case, the “third stooge” is Curly…and that’s important, and surprisingly, may have a good deal to do with why this video exists.

While many people think of Curly as the original third stooge, who was replaced by his brother Shemp, that’s not exactly how it happened.

The Stooges were part of an act, and they didn’t get top billing…it was Ted Healy and His Stooges. Healy was the front man, the lead comedian, and the Stooges (originally Moe, then his brother Shemp joined, and later friend Larry Fine) would interrupt him, leading to slapstick abuse.

Shemp left the act, and the third brother, Curly (then nicknamed “Babe”) joined it…the version I like the best is that Curly (then with long curly hair and a mustache) auditioned, and Healy (who reportedly had alcohol issues) didn’t like him. Moe (who was the leader in real life, as he was in the eventual shorts), took him out, shaved his head, told Healy he was a different brother, and Healy fell for it.

With the Moe/Larry/Curly team, the Stooges made a number of now legendary comic shorts (after parting ways with Healy and changing studios).

Shemp was off as a successful solo act (including appearing with Abbott and Costello), supposedly with the promotional line, “The Ugliest Man in Hollywood” (and this is while Rondo Hatton was working…Hatton had a medical condition which gave him unusual looks which led to him being cast in horror movies).

Shemp rejoined the act after Curly had a major stroke in 1946…reportedly reluctantly, but realizing that Moe and Larry would be in trouble without a third stooge.

Prior to that stroke in May, Curly already was being impacted by medical issues…what has been described as a series of “mini-strokes”.

On the set of A Bird in the Head, Curly’s performance was impacted. If you watch the short, he appears to be okay, even doing some physical comedy. However, the director, Edward Bernds (this was his first film as director) realized that Curly wasn’t at full capacity.

He decided (he was also the screenwriter) to expand the roles of the mad doctor Professor Panzer, and his gorilla, Igor (played by Art Miles). The Professor is looking for a human brain small enough to transplant into Igor…and Curly’s would fit (there is also a bit of animation in this short, unusual for the Stooges, showing an animated cuckoo clock inside Curly’s head instead of a brain).

So, the forced inventiveness of accommodating a Stooge’s medical condition in 1946 led to a popular GIF of a gorilla firing a machine gun in 2018!

Do you have other pop culture (especially) geeky questions you’d liked answered? Feel free to ask…and check my series of

#1TweetExpert tweets

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This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog.

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Prime Geek (video) Thanksgiving week 2018

November 17, 2018

Prime Geek (video) Thanksgiving week 2018

You already have

Amazon Prime (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

right?

You’re a geek, right?

You’re a geek who watches TV, right?

If those three things are true, you are in luck!

There are thousands of hours geek-friendly TV included in your Prime membership at no additional cost.

There are so many, in fact, that as is often the case with content nowadays, the challenge is discovery, not availability. Well, The Measured Circle hopes to help you out with some recommendations…


It’s Thanksgiving week (in the USA)! While that certainly can mean time with the family, it also can mean travel time. Whether your on a plane, a train, or a passenger in a car, video can be a good way to pass the time. Personally I’m an omnivorous media consumer:¬† I usually have video, books, magazines, old time radio shows…just for one trip. ūüėČ

Of course, you may also have “downtime” at your location, especially if you are in a different time zone (you might wake up earlier than the household…or stay up later). If you aren’t traveling, you could still have time, maybe while waiting in line on Black Friday. ūüėČ

Note that some of the videos may not be downloadable:: you may need to be connected to wi-fi or through cellular. That has gotten to be increasingly easy, even on airplanes.

Also, titles could hypothetically leave Prime after you read this, but you’ll be able to tell if it’s included at no extra cost.

I’ll feature a few movies (Amazon has, in my opinion, recently gotten a much better geeky selection), then list a bunch, then feature a few bingeable TV shows, and then list more of those. ūüôā

Westworld (the original movie)

  • 1973, 1 hour 28 minutes, downloadable
  • Key geek names: Michael Crichton (a known author at this point, he wrote and directed this movie); Majel Rodenberry (Nurse Chapel/Number One on Star Trek: The Original Series)
  • Legacy: HBO series inspired by it, sequel, TV series
  • Premise: luxury resort with human-like androids where guests can live out their fantasies
  • at TMCGTT

I consider this one essential to a quality geek education. ūüėČ It’s rather different from the HBO series…don’t go into it expecting that. This is from the point of view of the guests, not the robots. There is implied (but not shown) sexual activity, violence but not gore…and quite a bit of humor. It was influential: seeing the point of view of a robot (with a different visual system), and an “unstoppable” are elements that have occurred in later movies/TV. Yul Brynner is great playing a gunslinger robot which is (unofficially) modeled on his The Magnificent Seven character.

Galaxy Quest

  • 1999, 1 hr 42 mins, downloadable
  • Key geek names: Sigourney Weaver (Ghostbusters, Alien, Avatar), Tim Allen (Toy Story, The Santa Clause), Alan Rickman (Harry Potter)
  • Premise: years after a Star Trek like show has gone off the air, aliens arrive believing it was all real

Fun comedy (with some heart) with a quotable script, special effects, and a strong cast…not just in the principles, but also from the always reliable Sam Rockwell, Tony Shalhoub, and Missi Pyle.

Carrie

  • 1976, 1 hr 28 mins, downloadable
  • Key geek names: Stephen King (It, The Dead Zone…well, lots of stuff), Brian De Palma (Phantom of the Paradise, The Fury), William Katt (Greatest American Hero)
  • Premise: bullied sheltered teen is telekinetic
  • at TMCGTT

First Stephen King adaptation (from his first novel), has a stand-out performance from Sissy Spacek, for which she was nominated for an Oscar. Great horror movie, which has had a sequel and a remake. As visually stylish as any De Palma movie, it also features John Travolta, Amy Irving, and Piper Laurie.

The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension

  • 1984, 1 hr 42 mins, downloadable
  • Key geek names: W.D. Richter (Big Trouble in Little China), Peter Weller (RoboCop, Star Trek Into Darkness), Jeff Goldblum (The Fly, Thor: Ragnarok), John Lithgow (3rd Rock from the Sun)
  • Premise: Multi-hyphenate (a la Doc Savage) Buckaroo Banzai and his friends face aliens from another dimension

I loved the premise of this movie, and there was some really clever writing…but many people found it, well, confusing. I’m still a fan, and I’m not alone.

  • Hot Tub Time Machine: raunchy comedy
  • Lifeforce: Tobe Hooper directed, with lots of nudity
  • Night of the Comet: very 1980s apocalyptic comedy
  • Donnie Darko: cult weirdness
  • Star Trek: the first of the reboot series with Chris Pine
  • Transformers: The Last Knight (2017)
  • Logan’s Run: turning 30 is fatal…stars Michael York and Jenny Agutter. Pair this with The Island of Dr. Moreau (also starring Michael York)
  • Robot & Frank: critically-acclaimed comedy with Frank Langella
  • Soylent Green: great 70s social sci-fi which still gets quoted, with Charlton Heston. Pair this with The Omega Man with Heston (a version of I Am Legend). They also have my favorite adaptation of I Am Legend: The Last Man on Earth with Vincent Price. I recommend that one!
  • Saturn 3: Stanley Donen directs Kirk Douglas, Harvey Keitel, and Farah Fawcett…like a cop thriller in space
  • Mad Max (the first of the movies…The Road Warrior is a lot more accessible, this one more thoughtful)
  • ¬†A Clockwork Orange: Stanley Kubrick with a star-making performance by Malcolm McDowell
  • Child’s Play (and 2&3…have a Chuckython!)
  • THX 1138: George Lucas’ first
  • Arrival: lots of significant Oscar noms. Not to be confused with The Arrival (1996) with Charlie Sheen…which you can also watch with Prime
  • Attack of the Crab Monsters: like a lot of other Roger Corman movies, cleverer than you might think from the title
  • Demon Seed: oh, I’ve been hoping they would get this! It’s a great warning about Smart Homes…from 1977! Tacky, goofy, sure, but I’ll watch it again to see if it is relevant as I remember
  • 4D Man: 1959 low-budget but worth seeing movie from Jack H. Harris with Robert Lansing and Lee Meriwether
  • Horror Express: Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee and…um…a caveman on a train. It’s much more atmospheric than that suggests
  • Plan 9 from Outer Space: considered by many to be the worst movie of all time…I could suggest others, but it’s certainly sincere. Pair this with popular parody of 1950s low-budget sci-fi, The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra
  • Kick-Ass: 2010 superhero movie with a remarkable performance by then 12-13 year old¬†Chlo√ę Grace Moretz
  • Things to Come: serious science fiction, based on H.G. Wells, from William Cameron Menzies
  • Liquid Sky: cult trippy 1980s movie
  • Get Out: Oscar-recognized…pair this with The Stepford Wives
  • Dreamscape, The Cell, Devil (character-based horror), Let Me In, Dog Soldiers, The Fog
  • The Wasp Woman, The Giant Gila Monster, Varan the Unbelievable,
  • Paranormal Activity
  • The Girl with All the Gifts (Glenn Close in a zombie movie…really)
  • Flatliners
  • Candyman
  • Tales from the Crypt
  • Vampire’s Kiss: Nic Cage
  • The Hunger: David Bowie
  • Q: The Winged Serpent…don’t be misled by the title, this is much more sophisticated than it sounds
  • Ghoulies
  • The Raven
  • The Fall of the House of Usher
  • Nosferatu
  • Blacula (blaxploitation, but a solid performance from William Marshall)
  • Dracula A.D. 1972
  • The Fearless Vampire Killers, Vampire Circus
  • Frogs
  • Squirm
  • Dr. Phibes Rises Again (wish they had the original…I don’t like to watch things out of order)
  • 5ive: low budget but all about the script and acting
  • Night of the Living Dead: pair this with The Crazies, also by George Romero
  • The Blair Witch Project
  • House on Haunted Hill: Vincent Price
  • Attack of the Giant Leeches
  • Countess Dracula
  • Phantom from Space
  • The Monster Club
  • Carnival of Souls
  • Turbo Kid: really fun 1980s homage. Laurence Leboeuf is terrific, and so nice to see Michael Ironside in a significant role
  • The Toxic Avenger
  • The Phantom of the Opera (Lon Chaney)
  • Little Shop of Horror (the original, restored in black and white)
  • Piranha
  • Trilogy of Terror: I saw it again in the past few years, and I was even more creeped out!
  • Dementia 13
  • The Nun
  • The Beast of Yucca Flats
  • The Ghoul: rediscovered lost Karloff movie
  • Caltiki: The Immortal Monster
  • Legend: Tim Curry, Tom Cruise, directed by Ridley Scott
  • Weird Science
  • Highlander
  • Angry Red Planet

Well, really! I could keep going, but I’ve given you plenty on movies for now!

I’ll switch to TV shows, but I’ll have to make it another seed catalogue, like the bottom section of the above:

I might add to this, but feel free to add your own Prime Video suggesstions in the comments!

Have a great holiday!

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All aboard our The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project! Join the TMCGTT Timeblazers!

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog.

I was a DC fan…but I loved Stan Lee

November 13, 2018

I was a DC fan…but I loved Stan Lee

In the 1960s, there was a lot of very serious social division in the United States.

However, as there often is, there were also more frivolous pop culture schisms: The Addams Family vs. The Munsters, The Beatles vs. The Rolling Stones, Star Trek vs. Lost in Space…while fandom is, by its nature, inclusive, you were “supposed” to take sides. People weren’t expected to be agnostic about which ones they liked.

One of the clearest divides was DC vs. Marvel.

The “Silver Age of Comics” was begun in the mid-1950s by DC (with the introduction of what we would now call a “rebooted” version of the Golden Age superhero The Flash), but by the 1960s, Marvel was a worthy competitor.

The feel was very different between the two. DC had the legacy, and was old-fashioned (which could be seen as both a good and bad thing). They had Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and the reboots (the aforementioned The Flash, Green Lantern). They had the Justice League of America (itself a reboot of the Justice Society of America). Their heroes were, well, heroic. They didn’t all act the same, but the heroes were heroic and the villains were villainous.

Marvel was the counter-culture company of the pair, but interestingly, by being more like the readers. Clearly led by the writing of Stan Lee, new characters including Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk, and The Fantastic Four lived in the real world (Spider-Man was in fully contemporary New York; Superman was still in fictional parallel Metropolis). They had real emotions, and “day job” problems. Bruce Wayne was a millionaire philanthropist; Peter Parker was a high school student science geek.

While it may seem natural that people would prefer characters which were more like them, I used to jokingly (and somewhat derisively) say that I didn’t want my superheroes to have acne. One of the things I liked about superheroes was the lack of realism, the fantasy, the escapism. That extended to their personalities: I wanted the simplicity and aspiration of always being noble.

Sounds silly, right? Well, it was part of why I liked superheroes better than regular detective stories. I was never a fan of fictional violence, but it’s very different when Superman throws a giant space-whale than when Mike Hammer punches someone and they vomit.

People still could have read comics from both companies, right? I would guess just about everybody crossed over some, but one challenge was that the comics from a single company were interrelated…like what we now call an “extended universe”. What happened in Batman might affect what happened in Superman; Spider-Man interacted with The Avengers. It would have cost a lot of money and time to invest fully in both.

In my

Yikkee-YaG (YKYAG: You Know You’re a Geek…) #1

post, I said

“You know you‚Äôre a geek‚Ķwhen people say you don‚Äôt know how to dress appropriately***, but you would never wear a DC shirt to a Marvel movie.”

Still, I read some Marvel comics. I knew who Stan Lee was…I didn’t think I qualified as one of his “True Believers” (which felt to me in part like a Marvel vs. DC thing), but I knew what he meant by “Excelsior!” I recognized his intelligence, his creativity, and his enthusiasm for comics. I read some of his Stan’s Soapbox columns…text, not comics, which sometimes took on larger issues (like racism).

Over the years, I greatly enjoyed some of his visual media efforts. I watched “Who Wants to Be a Superhero?”, a reality competition show. I thought Stan Lee’s Superhumans, in which he and contortionist Daniel Browning Smith looked for and tested people with truly extraordinary abilities, was fascinating. I thrilled to every cameo in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (which, with its lighter tone, felt to me more like the 1960s DC universe than the dark DC movies led by Batman Begins and including The Dark Knight…the latter being a wonderful movie but definitely not the bright heroism of the 1960s. I said at the time I didn’t want a ten-year old to watch The Dark Knight because I didn’t want them to be afraid of Batman for the rest of their lives).

Stan Lee was one of the most influential American writers…and I don’t mean just comic book writers. Our pop cultural world would look very different if he hadn’t been in it. Movies, TV…even other comics (I don’t think the social commentary of the Green Arrow/Green Lantern crossover in the 1970s would have been what it was without Stan Lee’s trailblazing) followed the path that he blazed. He always respected the fans…and the non-fans. He lifted the younger generations of artists, he didn’t exclude them or hoard success…he shared it.

I’m not saying he was perfect or that his life was perfect…he wasn’t a 1960s DC superhero, he brought his challenges to the panels of the 1960s Marvel superheroes.

Thank you, Stan Lee, for all you have done for the world, and for geeks like me.

Excelsior forever!

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This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog.

Today, October 31st, is Halloween…but some people want to change that

October 31, 2018

Today, October 31st, is Halloween…but some people want to change that

Happy Halloween!

Ever since I can remember, I’ve looked forward to October 31st…Halloween!

My first real job was working in a store which sold masks and makeup (and, er, whoopie cushions) at Halloween, helping people with their costume choices.

Yes, I’d say Halloween is my favorite holiday!

However, there are some people who want to move the holiday…to the last Saturday in October.

My initial, knee-jerk reaction was…what?! I’m not normally a big traditionalist, but there is a reason why Halloween falls on October 31st…it most likely has to do with the Celtic holiday of Samhain, and the date marks a weakening of the “barrier between the living and the dead”, when ghosts walk the Earth. As with some other things, it also became connected to a Christian holiday…All Hallows’ Day is November 1st (a “hallowed person” or hallow is a Saint), and the word “Halloween” is a contraction of All Hallows’ Eve(ning), the night before.

On reflection (hmm…what do vampires call it after they’ve thought about something? ūüėČ ), there is a good argument for it.

It’s not just that kids may have residual effects from the sugar bolus the night before and do poorly in school.

Adults could better support the kids. If you work until 5, trick or treating with your children can be complicated. Of course, adults also celebrate…intuitively, this might reduce accidents the morning after, if people could sleep in.

At the time of writing, over 38,500 people have signed this

online petition

Among those supporting?

Horror host Elvira, the Mistress of the Night, as evidenced in this

tweet

Hard to argue with the Queen of Halloween (although a spirited debate would be fun!)…

It’s worth noting that this petition was started by an organization:

the Halloween & Costume Association

It is an advocatory industry group (it’s also known as the Halloween Industry Association), but it is a non-profit…a 501(c)(6).

I can’t say I’m quite ready to sign…I’m still miffed that they took away Lincoln’s birthday to combine it into Presidents’ Day. Well, okay, that is my birthday, too, and I missed having my birthday off from school. ūüėČ

What do you think? Should Halloween be moved to the last Saturday of October? Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post.

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This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog.

To the person who didn’t want to rain on my parade…

October 28, 2018

To the person who didn’t want to rain on my parade…

Thank you.

I appreciate the concern, I really do.

I don’t think of my writing as a parade, though. A parade is something designed to show off what already exists. Certainly, rain can ruin that exhibition. It can keep people from showing up, from lining the street, staying motionless while the putative wonders flow by.

I think of my writing as more of a farmers’ market. I have an Idea Farm. Not all the seeds I plant grow, and I can’t always predict how they’ll turn out, despite my careful attention. Others I abandon or ignore, and they wither or lay dormant.

One thing that all plants and ideas need to develop to where someone else will want to partake of them: rain.

For plants, that is literally water. For ideas, it is challenges to them. An uncriticized idea doesn’t grow, isn’t tested, won’t incorporate anything to make it bigger and stronger.

Of course, plants and ideas also need sun. Ideas need encouragement: non-stop rain can wash them away.

So, thank you: both for your empathy and for giving my idea respect by taking it for a mental spin through the future, pointing out where you see potential threats…and letting me know. You didn’t see it as unworthy of exploration, or me as incapable of change or learning from other’s wisdom.

Bring on the rain and the sun…ideas need both to grow.

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All aboard our The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project! Join the TMCGTT Timeblazers!

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog.

 

Manifest: 5 other weird TV flights you’d be better off missing

September 26, 2018

Manifest: 5 other weird TV flights you’d be better off missing

Fly the freaky skies

Manifest debuted this week on NBC, to good ratings. The basic premise puts it solidly into the geeky TV realm, as passengers on a flight land years after it takes off, with a different sense of time passing.

While there was a time when even the concept of heavier-than-air flight was considered by many to be science fiction, air travelers in the TVerse face greater risks than simply losing your luggage.

Here are five pre-Manifest examples of when it would have been better to miss the flight altogether:

Lost (2004-2010)

Oceanic Airlines Flight 815 crash-landed…and that was just the beginning of a series that riveted audiences for years. A strong cast of characters, bizarre happenings, and a heavily-debated finale guarantees its gate space in the Fantastic Terminal.

The Friendly Skies episode of Miracles (2003)

The second episode of the short-lived series (which had a notable fan base) brings the paranormal investigation team into the case of an airplane that disappeared…and then reappeared. The episode clearly established the personal stakes of the weirdness, that people’s lives were affected emotionally by what Alva, Paul, and Evelyn would encounter throughout the series.

The Odyssey of Flight 33 episode of The Twilight Zone (1961)

Sure, we could have gone with¬†Nightmare at 20,000 Feet,¬†the William Shatner starring-episode with the gremlin on the wing, but that one doesn’t affect the entire passenger list the way that the others in this post do. This commercial flight accidentally time travels, putting everyone at risk.

Land of the Giants (1968-1970)

This Irwin Allen series was set in the then future year of 1983. Like the rest of these, it involves a flight for which anyone could have bought a ticket…yes, the Spindrift isn’t like a regular airplane, but it is a suborbital flight (not a flight to another planet). Encountering a mysterious phenomenon, they are stranded on a world where humans (and everything else) are more than ten times the size that they are on Earth.

Phantom Traveler episode of Supernatural (2005)

Sam and Dean investigate a mysterious plane crash (TransNational flight 2485), and end up eventually confronting an evil entity…mid-flight.

Those are just some examples of what we see on the departures board at LaGeekya Airport: there’s the Incredible Hulk on 747, The Thunderbirds in their very first mission to rescue the passengers of the nuclear-powered Fireflash (which has been sabotaged by The Hood), Laura Perkins going One Step Beyond with her premonition of a plane crash (and that’s not to mention the movies and other media)…supernatural Air Traffic Control is going to be busy!

Do you have a geeky plane flight episode/series you want to add to this list? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.


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This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

The Oscars new unpopular popular film category

September 3, 2018

The Oscars new unpopular popular film category

Oh, my.

It’s rare that an organization makes a decision and I just have an immediate, visceral reaction that it’s wrong.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced in a

tweet

tweet post recently that it is going to give out a new award for “achievement in popular film”.

Creating a new category is rare for the Oscars…people have argued for new categories for years, such as one for stunts, but the last major addition was Best Animated Feature, first awarded in 2001.

With any carefully considered change (especially an institutional one), it is reasonable to ask this question: why?

The first obvious requirement is that the new category is comprised of something different from the old category (unless it contains entirely novel items, which is not the case here). After all, imagine this conversation:

You: “What’s in category A?”
Them: “Polka dots.”
You: “What in category B?”
Them: “Polka dots.”
You: “What are the differences between them?”
Them: “There aren’t any.”

At that point, you’d no doubt be left wondering why there were two categories.

So, what makes a popular movie different enough from other movies that it needs a separate category?

We can assume by “popular” they mean that more people went to see it in the theatres, and the easiest measurement of that is box office (probably specifically domestic box office, what I call “dogro” for domestic gross). We have a category on this blog for that

Box Office

and keep quite a close eye on it.

Let’s just arbitrarily set the dividing line at $100 million dogro. That or above and the movie falls into the “popular” category, below, and it stays in the main categories (unless they are going to create an “unpopular” category, which seems unlikely). ūüėČ

If we look at last year’s Best Picture nominees and their dogros, we can perhaps discern a pattern:

  • The Shape of Water | $68.0m
  • Call Me by Your Name | $18.1m
  • Darkest Hour | $56.5m
  • Dunkirk | $188.0m
  • Get Out | $176.0m
  • Lady Bird | $49.0m
  • Phantom Thread | $21.1m
  • The Post | $81.9m
  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri | $54.5m

It’s obvious that the vast majority (80%) of the Best Picture nominees made under $100m, and some have suggested that has something to do with declining viewership of the Oscars telecast. Wouldn’t more people watch the Oscars if they were familiar with the movies in the category that gets the most coverage? They might want to see if one of their favorites wins…and it’s hard to have a personal favorite amongst movies you most likely haven’t seen.

That 80% figure…how does that compare to the movies which were released?

According to

Box Office Mojo

33 movies released in 2017 dogroed more than $100m, out of 740 movies.

That’s about 4.5% meaning that $100m+ movies are disproportionately more often nominated for Best Picture…something like five times as much as would be expected.

However, that assumes that all movies released are intrinsically equally good…and that seems unlikely. Is it possible that movies which are equally as good as those which do get nominated do not get nominated because of a prejudice against popular movies?

For this, we’ll use the critical review scores from the

Movie Review Query Engine

We’ll look at the ten nominees, then the ten highest dogroing features:

  • The Shape of Water | 79
  • Call Me by Your Name | 85
  • Darkest Hour | 75
  • Dunkirk | 85
  • Get Out | 80
  • Lady Bird | 83
  • Phantom Thread | 79
  • The Post | 80
  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri | 86

Average: 81.3

Highest dogro (may have been released in 2016, but was on this table for 2017):

  • Star Wars: the Last Jedi | 82
  • Beauty and the Beast | 68
  • Wonder Woman | 74
  • Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle | 64
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 | 70
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming | 72
  • It | 66
  • Thor: Ragnar | 71
  • Despicable Me 3 | 55
  • Justice League | 54

Average: 68

The average doesn’t suggest an anti-blockbuster bias. However, The Last Jedi does average out high enough to be a nominee…but there are obviously more factors than just what the critics think.

If such a prejudice did exist, that might be a reason to create a separate category. Arguably, that was the purpose of introducing the Best Animated Feature category…an animated movie might not be nominated for Best Picture, because of reluctance to recognize “a cartoon”. Only one (Beauty and the Beast) had been nominated prior to the introduction of the category (although there had been other special recognition).

Some people have suggested that the purpose of creating the Best Animated Feature category was to make it less likely that they would be nominated for Best Picture…and the same argument is being made for a possible “Popular Film” category.

It may be worth noting that two animated features (Up and Toy Story 3) have been nominated for Best Picture since the introduction of the Animated Feature category…twice as many. Certainly, arguments can be made that some others “should” have been nominated (notably WALL-E, which has an 88 at MRQE), but contrary to my initial gut feeling, I’m not seeing clear evidence of prejudice in my admittedly small sample.

I don’t think the pushback I’ve seen would all have come about because the category simply wasn’t needed, though.

There is also this:

It smacks of elitism, with the idea that the general populace doesn’t like the best movies…perhaps because they prefer less challenging movies?

That one is harder to analyze, but it seems like that would be flawed logic on the Academy’s part. Great movies can never be box office hits? The King’s Speech won a lot of Oscars, and eventually dogroed close to $140m. The two categories of “Best Picture” and blockbuster don’t appear to be self-exclusive.

I do think the point of creating a category like this would be more about increasing viewership (and other public acceptance) than genuinely recognizing value. It’s not like blockbusters are particularly unrewarded. I mean, gee, if there was only some way we could reward movies based on how many people see them. You know, like have each person who goes to see a movie could indicate that somehow…maybe by paying some money? I don’t know what we might call that, but that seems like that’s “the ticket”. ūüėČ

Is there some advantage to the Academy in appearing to be the elite? Perhaps, yes…there are other awards more based on popularity, so it might remove some of the Oscars’ uniqueness if there was also a popular film Oscar.

The Oscars already expanded the possible number of Best Picture nominees from five to ten, starting with the awards given in 2009, again, presumably to increase viewership by providing more diversity in the titles.

Personally? I don’t think an “achievement in popular film” Oscar is a good idea…I also didn’t like the expansion of the number of nominees. It does seem to dilute¬†the value of the award.

I would like to see some changes. I’d like to go back to five nominees for Best Picture. I’d like to see that Stunt category happen, which certainly might interest the general populace.

I’d like to see the elimination of gender separation in the acting categories (which MTV has done). It doesn’t really make sense to me. Is the argument that Gal Gadot’s lauded (but not nominated) performance as Wonder Woman is more comparable to, say, Katharine Hepburn in On Golden Pond because they have a similar chromosome structure than it is to Chris Evans’ performance as Captain America, another principled, fish out of water superhero? If the thought there is that prejudice (again) would keep women from being nominated for Best Actor, why aren’t there separate acting categories for other protected employment groups? People would definitely not be happy if those were introduced! That’s a topic for another time, though…

What do you think? Would it be a good thing for the Academy to recognize achievement in popular films? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.


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This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Prime Geek (TV): August 5 2018

August 5, 2018

Prime Geek (TV): August 5 2018

You already have

Amazon Prime (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

right?

You’re a geek, right?

You’re a geek who watches TV, right?

If those three things are true, you are in luck!

There are thousands of hours geek-friendly TV included in your Prime membership at no additional cost.

There are so many, in fact, that as is often the case with content nowadays, the challenge is discovery, not availability. Well, The Measured Circle hopes to help you out with some recommendations…

Prime Original Series

  • The Man in the High Castle (2 ten episode seasons with teasers for #3, 2015-): alternative history loosely based on Philip K. Dick
  • Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams (1 ten episode season, 2018): because you can never have too much PKD
  • Lore (1 season, 6 episodes, 2017)
  • The Tick (1 season, 12 episodes, 2017): 3rd series based on the comics (also available: the Patrick Warburton version)

Exclusive to Prime (they say…they are clearly only counting streaming on demand, for one thing)

  • Doctor Who (parts are exclusive to Prime…at time (and relative dimensions in space), Eccleston-Capaldi): may I recommend The Girl Who Waited, season 601, episode 10? One of my favorites
  • Orphan Black (season 1-5)
  • Batman: The Animated Series: did you think Christopher Nolan revived Batman? Tim Burton? Try this…
  • SpongeBob SquarePants (season 1-11)
  • Humans (3 seasons)
  • Grimm (6 seasons)
  • Under the Dome (3 seasons: recent adaptation of Stephen King, a lot of buzz when it started)
  • Defiance (3 seasons)
  • Just Add Magic (season 1, 201, 202)
  • Teen Wolf (originally MTV: season 101-602)
  • Wallace & Gromit (also available: Shaun the Sheep)
  • True Blood
  • Annedroids
  • Carnivale

Catch Up

  • American Horror Story (seasons 1-7)

Remember When?

  • Monsters (3 seasons, starting in 1988)
  • Tales of the Unexpected (8 seasons, starting in 1979)
  • The Veil (1 season starting in 1958)
  • The Hunger (hosted by David Bowie) (2 seasons, starting in 1998)
  • 3rd Rock from the Sun (6 seasons)
  • Medium (7 seasons)
  • Flash Gordon (2007 series)
  • Robin Cook’s Invasion (1997)
  • PSI Factor: Chronicles of the Paranormal (1998)

Superheroes (although not always that super or that heroic)

  • Todd McFarlane’s Spawn (3 seasons, animated)
  • Sapphire and Steel (not superheroes? I’m open to arguments for and against)

Remakes, Reboots, Sequel Series

  • 13 Nights of Elvira (1 season with the horror host)
  • Hammer House of Horror (2014)

Oh, the Fandomity!

  • Eureka (5 seasons)
  • Babylon 5 (5 seasons)
  • The Expanse (3 seasons)
  • Andromeda (from Gene Roddenberry, starring Kevin Sorbo…and you’ll see Rey’s hairstyle before the Star Wars’ revivals, pretty much)
  • Gene Roddenberry’s Earth: Final Conflict
  • Star Trek (the original series, The Animated Series, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Enterprise,
  • Twilight Zone (the original series…5 seasons)
  • Battlestar Galactica (2004)…4 seasons
  • The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (the 1981 version)
  • Torchwood (a Doctor Who spinoff…and one of my favorite series) (also available: Class, The Sarah Jane Adventures)
  • The Prisoner (Patrick McGoohan’s can’t miss series)
  • Dark Shadows (various parts of it…it was on a lot!)
  • Primeval
  • Charlie Jade
  • Captain Scarlett (also available: Space Precinct 2040)
  • Jeremiah

Some more…

  • Tin Man
  • Space Debris
  • Teddy Go!

That’s just a sampling…if you have other suggestions, let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

 

Join thousands of readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard !

All aboard our The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project! Join the TMCGTT Timeblazers!

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Prime Geek (movies): August 5 2018

August 5, 2018

Prime Geek (movies): August 5 2018

You already have

Amazon Prime (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

right?

You’re a geek, right?

You’re a geek who watches movies, right?

If those three things are true, you are in luck!

There are thousands of geek-friendly movies included in your Prime membership at no additional cost.

There are so many, in fact, that as is often the case with content nowadays, the challenge is discovery, not availability. Well, The Measured Circle hopes to help you out with some recommendations…

Playing catchup (theatrical releases from the last two years)

  • Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature (2017) (also available: The Nut Job…so you can watch from the beginning)
  • Nine Lives (Kevin Spacey becomes a cat)
  • Transformers: The Last Knight (2017)
  • Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017)
  • The Witch (2016)
  • Star Trek Beyond (2016)
  • Equals (2016): Kristen Stewart and Nicholas Hoult resist in a repressed future
  • Tear Me Apart (2016)
  • Muse (2016)
  • Vamps (2016)
  • The Girl With All The Gifts (2017) (Glenn Close…and sort of zombies. BAFTA-nominated)

Mid-terms (not in the past two years, but in the past two decades)

  • Zathura (sequel to Jumanji)
  • Star Trek (the first of the Chris Pine movies) (2009)
  • Beastly (2011)
  • Twilight (2008): the first of the blockbuster series (also available: New Moon, Eclipse)
  • Paranormal Activity (2009)
  • The Woman in Black (2012): Daniel Radcliffe
  • Them (2006): not the giant ant movie
  • Watchmen (2002): The Ultimate Cut (24 extra minutes)

Genre-busters/Award Nominees (popular with non-geeks, too)

  • The Wizard of Oz (1939…the Judy Garland movie)
  • Hugo (2011)
  • Arrival (2016)
  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)
  • Jaws (1975) (also available: Jaws 2, Jaws 3, Jaws the Revenge))

Nostalgeek (remember when?)

  • The Care Bears Movie (1985)
  • Devil Girl from Mars (1954)
  • Galaxy of Terror (1981)
  • Carrie (1976) (also available: The Rage – Carrie 2)
  • The Crow (1994)
  • Highlander (1986) (“There can be only one”) (also available: Highlander II: The Quickening)
  • Leprechaun (1993) (also available: Leprechaun 2; Leprechaun 3; Leprechaun 4: In Space; Leprechaun 5 AKA Leprechaun in the Hood)
  • Barbarian Queen (1985)
  • Prancer (1989)
  • Trilogy of Terror (1975): I recently re-watched this…even more disturbing than I remembered. If you remember anything about it, it’s likely to be Karen Black (who plays three parts in this) being chased around by a small exotic “doll”
  • Nosferatu (1922): unauthorized silent adaptation of Dracula in 1922, Bram Stoker’s widow one a case and all the prints were supposed to be destroyed…an undead movie in more than one way
  • House on Haunted Hill (1958) colorized
  • Stargate (1994)
  • Piranha (1978)
  • Vampire in Brooklyn (1995): Eddie Murphy
  • Spaceballs (1987)
  • The Final Countdown (1980): More than the memorable theme song, this was time travel with a heavy dose of admiration for the military
  • The Running Man (1987): Arnold Schwarzenegger stars in a Stephen King (writing as Richard Bachman) adaptation. Falsely accused and put on a suicide mission Death Race 2000-esque game show, when Arnold says, “I’ll be back” it’s an existential threat to Richard Dawson’s game show character…and the status quo
  • Universal Soldier (1992): Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren (also available: Cyborg with JVD)
  • Humanoids from the Deep (1980): gory, exploitative monster movie from Roger Corman (uncredited EP), starring Doug McClure
  • The Last Man on Earth (1964): my favorite version of I Am Legend (although this version is colorized…that may not be an improvement over the original black and white)
  • Invaders from Mars (1953): deliberately dream-like, many of us are still haunted by the image of what happens in the sand (also available: the 1986 Karen Black remake)
  • Missile to the Moon (1958) (colorized)
  • Mazes and Monsters (1982) (Tom Hanks)
  • Galaxina (1980)
  • Little Shop of Horrors (1960) the original, not the musical…colorized
  • The Monster Club (1981)
  • Battle Beyond the Stars (1980)
  • Behemoth The Sea Monster (1958)
  • The Angry Red Planet (1959)
  • The Addams Family (1991) (the first of the big-screen reboot series)
  • A Boy and His Dog (1976) (based on a Harlan Ellison story…not surprisingly, Ellison wasn’t satisfied with the adaptation)
  • The Last Unicorn (1982)
  • The Company of Wolves (1985): David Warner, Angela Lansbury, directed by Neil Jordan
  • Attack of the Mushroom People (1963)
  • Cool World (1992)
  • The Day of the Triffids (1962): “And I really got hot, when I watched Janette Scott…”
  • Chapping Mall (1986)
  • Invasion U.S.A (1952): Eddie G. Robinson…and two TV Lois Lanes
  • Giant from the Unknown (1958)
  • The Hideous Sun Demon (1959)

Fauxstalgia (movies made to look as though they were from a previous era)

  • The Late Night Double Feature (2014): faking the Fifties

Remakes, Revivals, and Reboots

  • Top Cat Begins (2017)
  • The Invisible Man (2018)
  • SpaceDisco One (2007)…a crossover for 1984 and Logan’s Run

Theme: Dorsal fins!

  • Jaws through Jaws: The Revenge
  • Ice Sharks
  • 2 Headed Shark Attack
  • 5 Headed Shark Attack
  • Empire of the Sharks
  • SharkMan
  • Mega Shark vs Mecha Shark

Thinkers

  • Coherence (2014): $50,000 budget dogroed close to $70m…
  • The Frame (2014): From Jamin Winans…
  • (Jerome Bixby’s) The Man from Earth (2007)
  • The Penitent Man (2013)
  • Shuffle (2011)

You Might Not Have Seen…

  • Evolution: Ivan Reitman-directed 2001 comedy with David Duchovny, Orlando Jones, Julianne Moore, Seann William Scott…some really interesting aliens. $80m budget, dogro (domestic gross) under $40m
  • Event Horizon (1997): Lawrence Fishburne and Sam Neill for director Paul W.S. Anderson: $60m budget, under $30m dogro
  • Radio Free Albemuth (2014): a Philip K. Dick adaptation
  • Princess of Mars (2009): definitely not the recent Disney John Carter movie, this one has Traci Lords and Antonio Sabato Jr.

Need I Say More?

  • 5-Headed Shark Attack (2017)
  • The Last Lovecraft: The Relic of Cthulhu (2011)
  • Mega Shark vs. Crocosaurus (2010)
  • Zombeavers (2015)

That’s just a sampling…if you have other suggestions, let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.


 

Join thousands of readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard !

All aboard our The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project! Join the TMCGTT Timeblazers!

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

The best binge? Amazon Prime Video has Patrick McGoohan’s The Prisoner

August 4, 2018

The best binge? Amazon Prime Video has Patrick McGoohan’s The Prisoner

While I recently started pointing out geeky movies available to Prime Members

Prime Geek (movies): July 1 2018

and I do intend to update that, I planned to do one for Prime geeky TV series this weekend (I hope to eventually to do books, too).

In doing so, I was very pleased to see that they now have 1967’s

The Prisoner (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

available!

While it never pays to oversell anything, I’ll say that I’m a fan of the series…one of our dogs is actually named after it. ūüėČ I have a boxed set. One time, when our now adult kid had another adult friend visiting our home from across the country, we ended up spending a day just watching it (what would now be called “binge watching”). It’s over forty years old and British, but I can safely that it works for an American born decades after it first aired.

I don’t want to say too much about it; I think it’s best to go into it largely unprepared if you’ve never seen it before. It’s not a spoiler to say that a major theme of it is remaining an individual in the face of overwhelming conformity.

Was it a success at the time?

In England, it was like Lost: people were really wrapped up in the mystery of it. The series finale (it is only one season) was highly controversial…which was intentional.

It was different in the USA: it did play on CBS, but really became much more of a geek touchstone later.

Since there are only 17 one-hour episodes, you can watch it in a day.

One note: the best order in which to watch it is highly debated. Part of that has to do with the fact that it was originally conceived as a much shorter series, but was expanded for marketing reasons. There is also a US and a UK order, and clues internal to the episodes suggest yet more possibilities. I think this article covers that issue nicely:

Home Theater Forum

It’s probably simplest to just let Prime autoplay the next episode in the order they have, but up to you.

I’m going to give you one outside-the-universe bit of information which British viewers would have known before watching it. I’ll give it a Spoiler Alert, in case you don’t want that context, but it has nothing to do with surprise plot elements of the series.

SPOILER ALERT

Prior to The Prisoner, McGoohan was already well-known. He had been considered for the role of James Bond for Dr. No and for The Saint, but had been doing a successful TV series called Danger Man (or Secret Agent in the USA…the Johnny Rivers version of the theme song, Secret Agent Man, was popular), when he decided to quit. That, in a way, parallels what happens with The Prisoner’s main character…and there are reasons to think that The Prisoner’s main character is the main character from Danger Man).¬†

END SPOILER ALERT

If you’ve never seen it before, I think you’ll find it interesting.

If you have…be seeing you. ūüėČ


Join thousands of readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard !

All aboard our The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project! Join the TMCGTT Timeblazers!

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.


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