Archive for November, 2018

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. 😉

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. 😉

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. 🙂

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. 😉 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 Chloë 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:

  • Stargate SG-1 (and Atlantis)
  • The Prisoner (The best binge? Amazon Prime Video has Patrick McGoohan’s The Prisoner)
  • True Blood
  • Doctor Who
  • Eureka
  • The Expanse
  • 3rd Rock from the Sun
  • Battlestar Galactica (the beloved reboot)
  • Medium
  • Carnivale
  • Kung Fu
  • My Favorite Martian (Is My Favorite Martian’s “Uncle Martin” a Jedi?)
  • Charlie Jade
  • Under the Dome
  • Star Trek (a bunch of series)
  • Humans
  • Defiance
  • Babylon 5
  • The Tick (the Patrick Warburton version)
  • The Twilight Zone (the original)
  • Dark Shadows
  • The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (1981 version)
  • Torchwood: Miracle Day
  • Lexx
  • Tin Man
  • PSI factor
  • Sapphire and Steel
  • The Man in the High Castle
  • The Prisoner
  • Teen Wolf

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

Have a great holiday!

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.

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’re a geek…when people say you don’t 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!

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.


%d bloggers like this: