Archive for the ‘Pop Culture’ Category

2020 Oscar noms

January 13, 2020

2020 Oscar noms

Oscar nominations are being announced at 5:18 AM Pacific time on Monday, 13 January.

Last year, geeky movies didn’t have the strength in noms that they had the previous year. 2020 does look like there will be a Best Actor nom (for Joaquin Phoenix in Joker), but beyond that? There are some possibilities, but my feeling is that it’s going to be muggle-heavy. When we get to wins, I could see special effects going to The Irishman (as I write this, we don’t even know the nominees) and make-up going to Bombshell…not that those awards always go to geeky movies, but “de-aging” in dramas certainly gives the Academy the opportunity to award muggle movies in potentially geeky categories.

This years, I’m going to list what I think are possible geeky noms ahead of time. I’ll do that in italics. Then, I’ll try to update this live during the announcement, moving those that actually get noms up.

As always this year, I plan to do my BOPMadness (Bufo’s Oscar Prediction Madness), where anyone can predict the nominees. In the aggregate, we’ve done pretty well during the decades of playing. I did use Gold Derby¬†to help me see what had “buzz”. I’m grouping them based on what I consider likely, mostly to make it easier for me to move ones which do get nominated (if I’m right, of course).

A couple notes on what I qualified as geeky:

* I debated Once Upon a Time in Hollywood…I generally consider alternative history to be geeky, but I decided not to include this, that it wasn’t the intent
* I did count A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood is a fantasy show, and for noms, I count biographies of geeky figures (and documentaries on makers of geeky works)

My guess? Joker gets some Big Six noms. Us get recognized, and could in the Big Six (as well as original screenplay). Cats could get nommed, which would get pushback. Best Animated Feature may not have the big studios, which would get noted. Otherwise? We’ll know soon. ūüėČ

UPDATE: 1st reactions…well, I probably shouldn’t have cut and pasted some of my nominees, because I did okay picking possible ones. Joker did very well, even better than I might have thought. Us was shut-out. JoJo Rabbit surprised me with how well it did (6 noms) and Parasite also got 6 noms. A Marvel star got two (!) noms: Scarlett Johansson got supporting for JoJo Rabbit and lead for Marriage Story. Margot Robbie got supporting for Bombshell. Maleficent: Mistress of Evil getting nommed may surprise people. Oh, 1917 got 10 noms and may “take away” some wins from possible geeky pictures. Frozen II was perhaps underrepresented.

Best Picture





The Lion King
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywaler
Toy Story 4

Best Director

Todd Phillips (Joker)


Todd Phillips (Joker)

Best Actress


Lupita Nyong’o (Us)

Best Actor

Joaquin Phoenix (Joker)


Joaquin Phoenix (Joker)

Brad Pitt (Ad Astra)
Ewan McGregor (Doctor Sleep)

Best Supporting Actress

Best Supporting Actor

Tom Hanks (A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood)

Best Adapted Screenplay






Best Original Screenplay




Best Cinematography



Ad Astra
The Lion King

Best Costume Design



Best Film Editing




Best Makeup and Hairstyling


Maleficent: Mistress of Evil


Best Production Design



Ad Astra

Best Score

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
Frozen II

Best Song

I Can’t Let You Throw Yourself Away (Toy Story 4)

Into the Unknown (Frozen II)


Into the Unknown (Frozen II)
Spirit (The Lion King)
Never Too Late (The Lion King)
Speechless (Aladdin)
I Can’t Let You Throw Yourself Away (Toy Story 4)
Catchy Song: The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part

Best Sound Editing

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
Ad Astra
The Lion King
Frozen II
Toy Story 4
Captain Marvel
Doctor Sleep
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
Gemini Man

Best Sound Mixing

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
Ad Astra
The Lion King
Frozen II
Toy Story 4
Captain Marvel
Doctor Sleep
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
Gemini Man

Best Visual Effects


The Lion King

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker


The Lion King
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
Alita:Battle Angel
Gemini Man
Captain Marvel
Terminator: Dark Fate

Best Animated Feature

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World

I Lost My Body


Missing Lin

Toy Story 4


Toy Story 4
Missing Link
Frozen II
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
The Addams Family
I Lost My Body
Bunuel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles
Secret Life of Pets 2
The Swallows of Kabul
Spies in Disguise
Marona’s Fantastic Tale
This Magnificent Cake!

Best Animated Short

Best Doc Feature

Best Doc Short

Best International Film

Best Live Action Short

Complete list of nominees from the Academy website: (note: at time of writing they hadn’t updated it yet with the 2020 noms)

Stay tuned for our annual BOPMadness (Bufo’s Oscar Prediction Madness) if you want to predict the winners!

Note: at time of writing, Slashfilm had gotten at least most (if not all) of the nominations up:

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The 2020s: the decade our tech learns to understand us

January 13, 2020

The 2020s: the decade our tech learns to understand us

I do an annual prediction post on my I Love My Kindle blog (The Year Ahead ), and honestly, I have a decent track record (I hit all 3 of my big predictions for 2019, for example).

I started to think about how tech in general might change in this decade, the 2020s.

Obviously, there will be a lot of change in a lot of areas, and I’m sure some of it will surprise me.

However, I do feel confident about one change that we’ll all wonder how we didn’t have it earlier…and that people who grow up with it will hardly notice.

Our tech will begin to understand us much better.

I don’t mean the literal meaning of our conversation, but that will come, too.

I mean that it will know how we feel and guess our intent.

That may sound like science fiction, but it’s already happening.

I have a free app from Microsoft

Seeing AI

intended for people with visual challenges. I can point my phone at someone, and it will give me a broad sense of how they are feeling: “35-year old female with glasses looking angry.”

There are apps to help people on the autism spectrum, who sometimes have a hard time interpreting other people’s feelings, determine just that.

It’s not that hard. Oh, it’s possible to get it wrong, but looking at a person and determining if they are happy or sad is usually pretty simple for humans to do and will be for our tech to do by the end of the decade.

I recently got the

Anki Vector robot (at AmazonSmile*)

as a gift.

It’s easy to tell “how it is feeling”…and its entire face is just two eyes. It does have other body language (it can get sort of “hopping mad”, for example), but even without eyebrows, which help to communicate, you can tell.

This ability for tech to understand how we feel isn’t artificial intelligence (which will improve a lot also): it’s called “artificial empathy”.

It will use artificial intelligence to achieve it, and there are similarities. There are three main elements:

  • What can they sense?
  • How can they process it?
  • What can they do with that conclusion?

Vision sensors are part of the first one: that will give them facial recognition, but also things like gestures. Gestures are less universal, though. When they get precise enough to tell things like dilating pupils, they’ll be able to get past more cultural habits.

Another major sense will be hearing. We can tell on an audio phone call if someone is happy or angry, and we can hear it in radio dramas and podcasts. That’s going to help and that tech undoubtedly exists, although not necessarily in the general market (I’d be very surprised if law enforcement and the military don’t both have something which does that with, oh, 75% accuracy).

People talk about “smelling fear”. Tech is less far along with scent then with vision or hearing…I’m not sure that will be effective in the next ten years.

Those are all senses we have.

Tech will have some that we really can’t utilize. For example, it might be able to monitor blood flow at a distance, or cortisol levels (to detect stress).

That all has to do with detecting our emotions, and that’s one part of what I expect.

The other big part is context.

Our tech will begin to understand what the situation is, and what types of information we want in it (and what actions we may want it to take).

I just ran into a situation like that today.

I was writing about the debutday of the Adam West Batman series in 1966. I could have done the math in my head as to how long ago it was, but decided to use the calculator on my computer so I wasn’t trusting to my (usually reliable) math skills.

Well, I didn’t notice that I had accidentally typed 2010-1966 instead of 2020. So, I tweeted out 44 years instead of 54 years.

I fully expect that within ten years, it would have known I was probably trying to do a year calculation, and asked me if that’s what I meant.

Context will include things like:

  • Are you in the car?
  • Are you at work?
  • What time of day is it?
  • What day of the week is it?
  • Are you on vacation?
  • To whom are you speaking? Your Significant Other? Your child? Your boss? Your coworker?

The combination of these two things, being able to understand what we are likely to want in a given situation, and to tell in the moment how we are feeling, will eliminate a lot of the frustration we have now with tech. Our digital assistants will know when to respond with a joke or a true apology. They’ll play music which makes us, as individuals, feel better…or that gets us energized for a challenge. It may suggest that we talk to someone we haven’t in a while…and let it go if we don’t like that idea.

Yes, I think that will be the most significant change in tech in the next ten years…bigger than augmented reality, bigger than autonomous vehicles, at least in how it affects us personally. It doesn’t matter what the tech is: this will change our relationship and interactions with it.

What do you think? Am I overestimating what our tech will be able to do? How important it will be for us? Is there some other tech change you think will be more important? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

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Ends in 0: geeky anniversaries in 2020

December 31, 2019

Ends in 0: geeky anniversaries in 2020

Hey, little Ten Toes! Humans (at least those using the decimal system) like to observe anniversaries by the decade. This is a brief list of some of the geeky anniversaries happening this year. It is in no way comprehensive, and we certainly may add to it (and invite you to make suggestions by commenting on the post).

We arrange them by the day of the year, rather by the length of the anniversary. While I like pointing out the number of geek-friendly movie favorites released in 1960, for example, I think it will be easier for people to be aware of an anniversary based on the day of the year. I’ll try to highlight the big ones. Let me know if you like it this way better…

Oh, and after internal debate in 2018, I decided not to list the birthdates of living celebrities. Some of them may not like having their ages highlighted in this way.

I’ll call out a few I think could get media coverage, then give you a fuller list:

  • The word “robot” in the play R.U.R.: 100 years
  • Star Trek: Voyager TV series debut: 25 years
  • The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari opens: 100 years
  • Sliders TV series debut: 25 years
  • Adventure Time TV series debut: 10 years
  • Daredevil TV series debut: 5 years
  • Dune published: 55 years
  • Inception: 10 years
  • X-Men opens: 20 years
  • Comic-Con 1st held 50 years
  • Ray Bradbury born: 100 years
  • Supergirl TV series debut: 5 years
  • Toy Story opens: 25 years
  • The Walking Dead TV series debut: 10 years

Day of the year not known:

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz published (1900: 120 years)

R.U.R. published by Karel Capek (introducing the word “robot”) (1920: 100 years)

Bill, the Galactic Hero published (1965: 55 years)

Ender’s Game published (1985: 35 years)

January: Astounding Stories of Super-Science #1 published (1930: 90 years)

6 January: Agent Carter TV series debut (2015: 5 years)

11 January: Rod Taylor (The Time Machine) born (1930: 90 years)

15 January: The Man in the High Castle TV series debut (2015: 5 years)

16 January: Star Trek: Voyager TV series debut (1995: 25 years)

1 February: Samurai Pizza Cats series debut (1990: 30 years)

4 February: George A. Romero (Night of the Living Dead) born (1940: 80 years)

12 February: Lorne Greene (Battestar Galactica) born (1915: 105 years)

19 February: Fred Freiberger (Star Trek) born (1915: 105 years)

20 February: Robot Chicken TV series debut (2005: 15 years)

27 February: The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari opens (1920: 100 years)

3 March: Mutiny in Outer Space opens (1965: 55 years)

15 March: 2000 Plus radio show debuts (1950: 70 years)

16 March: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (John Barrymore) opens (1920: 100 years)

22 March: Sliders TV series debut (1995: 25 years)

26 March: Hot Tub Time Machine opens (2010: 10 years)

30 March: John Astin (The Addams Family) born (1930: 90 years)

31 March: Tank Girl opens (1995: 25 years)

5 April: Adventure Time TV series debut (2010: 10 years)

8 April: Colossus: The Forbin Project premieres in New York (1970: 50 years)

10 April: Daredevil TV series debut (2015: 5 years)

15 April: Buck Rogers TV series debuts (1950: 70 years)

16 April: Charlie Jade series debut in Canada (2005: 15 years)

27 April: Flash Gordon radio series debuts (1935: 85 years)

1 May: Avengers: Age of Ultron opens (2015: 5 years)

6 May: Freaky Friday (Shelley Long) debuts (1995: 25 years)

9 May: Friday the 13th opens (1975: 45 years)

13 May: Werewolf of London opens (1935: 85 years)

15 May: Mad Max: Fury Road opens (2015: 5 years)

26 May: Beneath the Planet of the Apes opens (1970: 50 years)

June: Dune published (1965: 55 years)

1 June: Blue Bolt 1st comic appearance (1940: 80 years)

1 June: Total Recall opens (1990: 30 years)

7 June: The Adventures of Topper radio series debut (1945: 75 years)

12 June: Jurassic World opens (2015: 5 years)

15 June: The Beast with 1,000,000 Eyes opens (1955: 65 years)

15 June: Batman Begins opens (2005: 15 years)

22 June: The Lost World opens (1925: 95 years)

22 June: Paul Frees (Boris Badenov) born (1920: 100 years)

July: The Circus of Dr. Lao published (1935: 85 years)

July: Out of this World Adventures comic debuts (1950: 70 years)

3 July: Back to the Future (1985: 35 years) (2005: 15 years)

6 July: How It Should Have Ended debuts (2005: 15 years)

8 July: Fantastic Four opens (2005: 15 years)

14 July: X-Men opens (2000: 20 years)

15 July: Gremlins 2 opens (1990: 30 years)

16 July: Inception opens (2010: 10 years)

28 July: Waterworld opens (1995: 25 years)

1 August: San Diego’s Golden State Comic-con (later San Diego Comic-Con) first held (1970: 50 years)

2 August: Weird Science opens (1985: 35 years)

4 August: Virtuosity opens (1995: 25 years)

5 August: Last Women on Earth opens (1960: 60 years)

14 August: The Rocky Horror Picture Show opens in the UK (1975: 45 years)

16 August: Robert Culp (The Greatest American Hero) born (1930: 90 years)

17 August: Animal Farm by George Orwell published (1945: 75 years)

17 August: The Time Machine opens (1960: 60 years)

20 August: H.P. Lovecraft born (1890: 130 years)

22 August: Black Scorpion opens (1995: 25 years)

22 August: Ray Bradbury born (1920: 100 years)

23 August: Fear the Walking Dead TV series debut (2015: 5 years)

24 August: James Tiptree Jr. born (1915: 105 years)

24 August: Darkman opens (1990: 30 years)

27 August: The Last Exorcism opens (2010: 10 years)

September: Challenge of the Unknown comic debut (1950: 70 years)

1 September: Edgar Rice Burroughs born (1875: 145 years)

5 September: Batman radio show is broadcast (1950: 70 years)

7 September: Dario Argento (Suspiria) born (1940: 80 years)

13 September: Supernatural TV series debuts (2005: 15 years)

23 September: Ghost Whisperer opens (2005: 15 years)

1 October: The Five Children and It published (1905: 115 years)

2 October: Tom Corbett Space Cadet debuts (1950: 70 years)

3 October: Dark Angel series debut (2000: 20 years)

4 October: Thundarr the Barbarian debuts (1980: 40 years)

4 October: One Punch Man TV series debut in Japan (2015: 5 years)

11 October: The Bugs Bunny Show debuts (1960: 60 years)

14 October: The Fog (remake) opens (2005: 15 years)

24 October: Trog opens (1970: 50 years)

26 October: Supergirl TV series debut (2015: 5 years)

27 October: Planet of the Vampires opens in the USA (1965: 55 years)

29 October: The Golem premieres (1920: 100 years)

30 October: A Midsummer Night’s Dream opens (1935: 85 years)

31 October: The Walking Dead TV series debut (2010: 10 years)

November: The Beyond comic debuts (1950: 70 years)

November: Strange Worlds comic debuts (1950: 70 years)

1 November: A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1600: 420 years)

4 November: The Wizard of the Nile Operetta opens on Broadway (1895: 125 years)

4 November: Chicken Little opens (2005: 15 years)

9 November: Child’s Play 2 opens (1990: 30 years)

14 November: Shadowchasers series debut (1985: 35 years)

15 November: Once Bitten opens (1985: 35 years)

22 November: Toy Story opens (1995: 25 years)

22 November: Unbreakable opens (2000: 20 years)

23 November: The Expanse series debut (2015: 5 years)

26 November: Young Justice series debut (2010: 10 years)

5 December: Flash Gordon remake opens (1980: 40 years)

13 December: Mysterious Doctor Satan serial 1st chapter opens (1940: 80 years)

15 December: Dude, Where’s My Car? opens (2000: 20 years)

17 December: TRON: Legacy opens (2010: 10 years)

18 December: Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens (2015: 5 years)

22 December: Dracula 2000 opens (2000: 20 years)

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Bufo’s Alexa Skills

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2019 In Memoriam

December 26, 2019

2019 In Memoriam

We regularly report the passing of people who have contributed to geek pop culture. In this year’s

2019 Geeky Good-Byes

we have recognized the work of well over 150 people at time of writing.

Those listings are necessarily short, basically just a listing of what brings them into the family of geek-friendly creators.

In this post, I want to do more of a narrative, to tell the stories of some. This isn’t to judge them as more important than the others: a hallmark of geeky fandom is that we recognize everyone. In this, it may simply be people for whom I can best tell the tale.

For the others, and for more detail on these, see that 2019 Geeky Good-Byes page.

These are presented in their reported chronological order.

William Morgan Sheppard had a rich and diverse career, with nearly 200 screen credits. He appeared both onscreen and as a voice. Not many actors appeared in the Star Trek universe, Star Wars, the Transformers, DC (in Young Justice), Marvel (as Dum Dum Dugan in the 1994 Iron Man series), Doctor Who, Max Headroom (Blank Reg), Babylon 5, Disney (Gargoyles), Biker Mice from Mars (Lawrence Limburger), and menacing Elvira. He was the epitome of a character actor, reliably enhancing every scene he was in.

Carol Channing was certainly better known for muggle roles, especially in Hello, Dolly! (Tony Award) and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. However, her unique voice, both raspy and welcoming, led to geeky voicework. She voiced Grandmama Addams on the 1992 The Addams Family Cartoon and Fanny in The Brave Little Toaster Goes to Mars.

While¬†James Frawley had been an actor in The Twilight Zone, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, and My Favorite Martian, it was as a director that he had his biggest impact. When I watched The Monkees, which did have geeky episodes, I’d perk up when I saw his name. I could count on the episode being a bit more out there. For example, he directed Monstrous Monkee Mash, where in a certain Transylvanian count, the Frankenstein monster, and a wolfman all make appearances. Other GF shows he directed include Ghost Whisperer, Smallville, and Earth 2. On the muggle side, he directed Scarecrow and Mrs. King episodes, Cagney & Lacey, Columbo, and many more.¬†Peter Tork of The Monkees also died this year.

Directors clearly liked working with Dick Miller and audience liked him seeing him! Roger Corman directed him more than 15 times (including the role that probably comes first to my mind, Walter Paisley in A Bucket of Blood), as did Joe Dante. He never played the “big man” in the movies, but was never small in his parts. A documentary about him, That Guy Dick Miller, was released in 2014.

While¬†Julie Adams¬†did appear in other geek-friendly roles, it’s her iconic performance as scientist Julie Adams in Creature from the Black Lagoon for which she will be forever remembered.

Albert Finney‘s five Oscar nominations in four decades were all for muggle roles, but he played Scrooge (one of the fantasies that is considered classic literature), appeared in Wolfen & Looker, played Kilgore Trout, and Daddy Warbucks (there is minor magic in the version in which he appeared).

The average person probably can’t name Carmen Argenziano, but might recognize the character actor from decades of appearances. Gaters definitely can put a name to the face, even if that name might be Selmak rather than Carmen.

Jan-Michael Vincent¬†had success early on as “Link” Simmons on The Banana Splits Adventure Hour. He starred in The World’s Greatest Athlete & parried with George Peppard in Damnation Alley (based on a Roger Zelazny book). He was best known to geeks as Stringfellow Hawke in over 50 episodes of the supertech series, Airwolf.

Beverley Owen was the original Marilyn Munster, the “normal” appearing niece of Lily Munster.

Hollywood musicals can certainly feel like fantasies, and director¬†Stanley Donen made some of the best…On the Town, Singin’ in the Rain, Seven Brides for Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, and more. One of them, Damn Yankees, clearly fits our criteria, featuring the inimitable Ray Walston as the devil (Mr. Applegate). Speaking of the Devil, Donen directed my favorite portrayal, 1967’s original Bedazzled. He also did The Little Prince, and stepped in to direct Saturn 3.

One of the most intense guest stars on Star Trek: The Original Series was Morgan Woodward…and not just once, but twice: Dr. Sam van Gelder in the Dagger of the Mind, and Captain Tracey in The Omega Glory. He appeared in 3 episodes of the Logan’s Run TV series, and made many guest appearances (including The X-Files and The Incredible Hulk).

Soap’s¬†Katherine Helmond might be best-known for comedy TV, but had an unforgettable role in Terry Gilliam’s Brazil. She also appeared on both The Six Million Dollar Man & The Bionic Woman, worked with Elvira, got into the DC universe as Aunt Minerva on Batman: TAS…and voiced Lizzie in the Cars movies for Disney.

Lisa Sheridan was a 21st Century geek-friendly TV star. From Chloe Tanner on FreakyLinks to Larkin on Invasion and Dr. Sanchez on Journeyman, she was a familiar sight.

No question,¬†Luke Perry will be best remembered for playing Dylan McKay on Beverly Hills, 90210. He will also be associated with Riverdale, having played Archie’s dad, Fred. Additionally, he starred in the post-Apocalyptic Jeremiah series, and did a fair amount of voicework: Napoleon Brie on Biker Mice from Mars; Sub-Zero on Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm; and Marvel’s Rick Jones on The Incredible Hulk.

Larry Cohen¬†had a truly unique artistic vision. He was a writer, director, and producer on cult favorites, suffused with humor and twisted body images. The killer baby trilogy that began with It’s Alive might be the most memorable, but for me, I think of God Told Me To, Q, and the consumerist satire The Stuff. He directed the Stephen King inspired A Return to Salem’s Lot.

Thunderbirds are go!¬†Shane Rimmer¬†voiced Scott Tracy on the Andersons’ Supermarionation show, and worked with on other shows as well. He appeared, often in small roles, in many geek-friendly productions: Live and Let Die, Rollerball, The People That Time Forgot, the Christopher Reeve Superman movies, Batman Begins, and Louis on The Amazing World of Gumball.

I shook hands with Peter Mayhew at an event. His smile was charming, although he must have done the same thing thousands of times before with other Star Wars fans. He clearly risked a lot to come back as the best co-pilot ever, and did it partly for us.

I think of Billy Drago first for Nitti the Enforcer in the Kevin Costner version of The Untouchables, but he was one of those actors who was always recognizable, even in more than 100 roles. He appeared in seven episodes of the original Charmed series as Barbas, and was John Bly on The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr..

Sure, Arte Johnson was great on Laugh-In, but he also played Renfield in the George Hamilton Dracula spoof, Love at First Bite. He guested on Bewitched and Lost in Space. While his physicality was often part of his roles, by the 1970s he was doing regular voicework (Tyrone on Baggy Pants & the Nitwits, Weerd on The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo, Devil Smurf, Top Cat on Yo Yogi, and he got into the DC Universe as Virman Vundabar on Justice League Unlimited).

Cameron Boyce was a current and rising star, in part because of plaing Cruella de Vil’s son, Carlos, in The Descendants. He voiced Jake in Jake and the Never Land Pirates, and voiced Shocker on Spider-Man.

In nearly 60 years on screen,¬†Freddie Francis¬†was a looming presence in Hammer movies (Professor Richter in Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed, Professor Keeley in The Satanic Rites of Dracula…) and in the 1980s, was in Krull, Firestarter, and played Thufir Hawat in Dune.

30 years after playing Nathan Bryce in The Man Who Fell to Earth,¬†Rip Torn played Agent Zed in Men in Black (he’d repeat the role). It seemed particularly appropriate when he voiced Zeus in Disney’s Hercules: he often played the authority figure who could be exasperated with his underlings.

As a child, Denise Nickerson¬†had done more than 70 episodes of Dark Shadows, but she’ll be remembered forever as Violet Beuregarde in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.

David Hedison always had a special earnestness on screen, whether it was in the original version of The Fly, as Ed Malone in The Lost World, or in over 100 episodes of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea as Captain Lee Crane. He played James Bond’s CIA contact, Felix Leiter in a couple of movies, including one of the geekiest, Live and Let Die.

If you think about moving scenes from geeky movies,¬†Rutger Hauer‘s rain speech from Blade Runner has to be up there. He followed that up with Ladyhawke, and then simmered for more than thirty years. Smallville, Salem’s Lot, Batman Begins, Dracula 3D: he became part of so many of our universes.

Yes, Peter Fonda was best known for Easy Rider, but he played Chuck Browning in the Westworld sequel, Futureworld, Mephistopheles in Ghost Rider, and others.

Many people have contributed to Doctor Who’s success and longevity, but¬†Terrance Dicks would make anyone’s short list. As screenwriter, Script Editor, and author of books, he was involved with fleshing out the Time Lords, what the TARDIS can do, the term regeneration (and more than 1 doctor appearing at the same time), and Sarah Jane Smith.

Aron Eisenberg appeared in several Star Trek works, but his most memorable role is probably Nog on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

Ah,¬†Sid Haig!¬† He often played menacing parts, and his work stretched from Batman ’66 and the original Star Trek to repeated appearances as “Captain Spaulding” and beyond.

Rip Taylor will always be thought of as the confetti throwing comedian, yet he had extensive geek-friendly performances. He was Sheldon the Sea Genie on Sigmund and the Sea Monsters (and actually played genies multiple times), the voice of Uncle Fester on the 1992 animated The Addams Family, The Royal Recordkeeper/The Royal Judge on Disney’s The Emperor’s New Groove series, and others in more than 40 years of work.

You could count on Robert Forster to bring the gravitas. I probably first think of him as Arthur Petrelli on Heroes, but for many, his Sheriff Truman on Twin Peaks is likely to be their first association.

Virginia Leith¬†had more than 25 screen credits, but she’s best known as lead character Jan Crampton (“Jan in the Pan”) in The Brain That Wouldn’t Die.

Probably more famous outside of the USA, Maria Perego created Topo Gigio, who mischievously caused trouble for Ed Sullivan in his appearances on that show.

A staple in UK telly (Father MacAnally on Ballykissangel for one), Niall Toibin had some geek-friendly roles, including Reverend Coot in Rawhead Rex.

He was British Eddy on James Cameron’s Dark Angel, appeared in The Dead Zone, Battlestar Galactica, Stargate SG-1, and was¬†John Mann did six episodes of Haunted as Simon.

Michael J. Pollard¬†often played characters with a mischievous half-smile, which served him well as Superboy’s impish enemy, Mr. Mxyzptlk. That’s not to suggest that he wasn’t an actor capable of range: he got an Supporting Oscar nomination for Bonnie and Clyde. He appeared on Lost in Space, and on Star Trek: The Original Series as Jahn in Miri. In the 90’s, he voiced Psycho on Troma’s Toxic Crusaders.

Nobody drew bizarre comics like¬†Gahan Wilson.¬†He often needed just one panel to show off his macabre humor…Playboy was one of the magazines that featured his work.

Joan Staley played Okie Annie in an Adam West Batman two-parter.

Japanese live-action sci-fi is really unique, and Nobuo Yajima brought his special effects flair to several series, including johnny Sokko, Spectreman, and Kamen Rider Black.

It was a difficult year for Star Trek fans, especially in December. D.C. Fontana was absolutely crucial to the development of the Star Trek universe as we know it. She wrote 11 episodes of Star Trek: The Original Series, including introducing Spock’s family. She wrote for other Star Trek series, but wasn’t limited to just the Trekverse. She wrote for The Six Million Dollar Man, Buck Rogers, and He-Man, among others.

Robert Walker Jr. won praise for the title role in the muggle Ensign Pulver, but was unforgettable as Charlie X on Star Trek: The Original Series.

It’s especially hard to write about¬†Rene Auberjonois‘ passing. He just always seemed like someone you would want to know, and that’s how castmates have responded. He could go easily from muggle to geek-friendly: for us, he did 173 episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine as Odo.

Big Bird never lost his naivete on Sesame Street, that charming innocence. Muppeteer Carrol Spinney brought him into our lives for decades. Spinney wasn’t all sweetness and light, though: he also played a lot of kids’ favorite grouch, Oscar.

We celebrate each and every one of them and thank them for their contributions to our entertainment. That also goes for those not listed here, but at 2019 Geeky Good-Byes and the ones we will unfortunately inevitably miss. Thank you also to all those who knew them and enabled them to share their creativity with us.

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Recasting the Avengers with Classic Film Stars #ClassicFilmAvengers

November 27, 2019

Recasting the Avengers with Classic Film Stars #ClassicFilmAvengers

I’ve been having fun with this one on Twitter!

I saw an image of Vincent Price as Dr. Strange in a tweet, and that inspired me to think…what if we recast the Avengers with Classic Film stars? So, I tweeted it!

link to tweet

I set it up this way:

“let’s say you were casting the Avengers with classic hollywood stars…who else would you pick? You can pick them at any of their ages, they don’t have to align chronologically.”

I’m going to put my current version (with understudies in parentheses) at the top, then you can read how I got there. It may shift often, as I think of (or am convinced of) other roles and castings.

CURRENT (retro) CAST | IN PROGRESS (taking me a while to transfer the suggestions into the right spots)

The Avengers (and other Marvel characters)

Dr. Strange: Vincent Price
Iron Man: young Orson Welles
Black Widow: Lauren Bacall
Captain America: Buster Crabbe (Troy Donahue, Gary Cooper, Burt Lancaster)
Hawkeye: Jimmy Cagney
Bruce Banner: Jimmy Stewart
Hulk: Lon Chaney Jr. (Ernest Borgnine, Rondo Hatton)
Thor: Kirk Douglas (Burt Lancaster, Johnny Weissmuller)
Ant-Man: Donald O’Connor (Mickey Rooney)
The Wasp: Hedy Lamarr (Myrna Loy)
Scarlet Witch: Judy Garland (Janice Rule)
Quicksilver: Mickey Rooney
Black Panther: Paul Robeson
Shuri: Rita Rio
Ramonda:Lena Horne
Klaw: Barton Maclaine
Everett K. Ross: Roddy McDowall
Nick Fury: Humphrey Bogart (John Wayne)
Professor X: Fred MacMurray
Magneto: Basil Rathbone
Spider-Man: Jackie Cooper (Harold Lloyd, Fred Astaire)
J. Jonah Jameson: Edward G. Robinson
Doc Ock: Peter Lorre
Doctor Doom: Bela Lugosi
Thanos: Boris Karloff
Ben Grimm, The Thing: Ernest Borgnine
The Green Goblin: Joseph Cotten (Danny Kaye, Donald O’Connor)
Red Skull: Erich Von Stroheim (Otto Preminger)
Arnim Zola: Donald Pleasance
Maria Hill: Rosalind Russell
Reed Richards:(Robert Ryan)


Superman: (Rock Hudson)
Green Lantern: (George Segal)
Supergirl: Lee Remick

This was my first set (it was all that fit in a tweet, really):

Dr. Strange: Vincent Price
Iron Man: young Orson Welles
Black Widow: Ginger Rogers
Captain America: Buster Crabbe
Hawkeye: Jimmy Cagney
Bruce Banner: Jimmy Stewart
Ant-Man: Mickey Rooney
Black Panther: Paul Robeson
Nick Fury: Humphrey Bogart

I asked people to respond…and they did! They probably will continue to do so over the next few days. They suggested alternative actors for the above, and added new roles, even going beyond Marvel. I’ll add the others below. I’ll put who suggested it in [brackets]

Spider-Man:Harold Lloyd [John Whatley @jbw4926]
Superman: Rock Hudson [John Whatley @jbw4926]
The Green Goblin : Joseph Cotten (resemblance to Norman Osborn maybe not coincidental). [John Whatley @jbw4926]
Green Lantern: George Segal [John Whatley @jbw4926]
Supergirl: Lee Remick [John Whatley @jbw4926]
Captain America: Troy Donahue [John Whatley @jbw4926]
Scarlet Witch: Janice Rule [John Whatley @jbw4926]
Reed Richards: Robert Ryan [John Whatley @jbw4926]
Hulk: Ernest Borgnine [John Whatley @jbw4926]
Nick Fury: John Wayne [Snowy Dave @quigonusa] (I’d still go with Bogey on this one)
Loki: Danny Kaye (I did this one @bufocalvin…he would certainly bring the God of Mischief part of it.)
Magneto: Basil Rathbone (me…I considered Professor X, but this is better!)
Captain America: Gary Cooper [Jeffs Comics @jeffs_comics] (he also praised Buster Crabbe…I’m staying with Crabbe)
Black Widow: Lauren Bacall [@jeffs_comics] (On reflection, this seems like a better choice. I’d switch. I was looking for someone with movement skills and confidence, but you can just see Bacall playing this)
Captain America: John Wayne or Burt Lancaster [Donovan.morgan @bigdwloz] (I still prefer Buster Crabbe, although I can see Lancaster more than Wayne)
Thor: Burt Lancaster (me, because he could be funny, but you know who would be better? Kirk Douglas! He could really be funny when appropriate, but operatically intense as well. Not as muscled, but they could work with that)
J. Jonah Jameson: Edward G. Robinson [Donovan.morgan @bigdwloz] (I like this one!)
Spider-Man: Fred Astaire (because he’d seen him dance on walls…a good reason ūüėČ ) [Donovan.morgan @bigdwloz]
Doc Ock: Peter Lorre [Donovan.morgan @bigdwloz] (again, I think this is a good choice)
Doctor Doom: Boris Karloff [Donovan.morgan @bigdwloz]
The Green Goblin: Danny Kaye [@jeffs_comics]
The Green Goblin: Donald O’Connor [@jeffs_comics]
Mysterio: Fred MacMurray [@jeffs_comics]
The Sandman: Ernest Borgnine
Electro (Gabby Hayes)
Doctor Doom (Bela Lugosi)
Thanos (Boris Karloff)
The Wasp: Myrna Loy [ComicsintheGoldenAge @ComicsInTheGA] (I’ve since noticed someone in another thread suggested the same thing. However, I like Hedy Lamarr for the Wasp: why not have an actual genius inventor in the part?)

I’ll keep adding, and I’m posting this before I got them all in there. You can add more on Twitter (please use #ClassicFilmAvengers), or by commenting on this post.

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Disney+ on Fire TV: 1st impressions

November 12, 2019

Disney+ on Fire TV: 1st impressions

It’s here!

I’ve been so excited about Disney+, and got to be even more so when Amazon and Disney worked out the deal to put it on the

Fire TV family (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

I’m watching it this morning on our

Fire TV Cube (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

I normally watch the news for a while first thing in the morning, but wanted to give my readers my first impressions. I’ve talked before about the content

Disney+: a deeper dive

and even though a lot has been added since then, this post will focus more on the experience of using it. I’ll go with simple bullet points: if you have specific questions, you can ask me by commenting.

Note: for the readers of my most popular blog,

I Love My Kindle

where I’ve been writing about e-books, EBRs (E-Book Readers), and Amazon generally for over 10 years, I’ll link to this post. I have some other catching up to do there (I intend to do one of my round-up posts today) and while this is about watching content on an Amazon device, I didn’t want this to dominate that blog today.

  • I subscribed yesterday by going to Disney+ on the web. Honestly, that was a bit clunky. It kept taking me to a place to enter a redemption code for a limited tie offer, but I didn’t get one. I suspect that might be because I did the year subscription instead of month to month. It also didn’t link me in any way to our long time Hulu account, at least as far as I could see. Again, maybe the yearly subscription makes it better than the bundle, but it would have been nice for them to tell me. They are supposed to link them through our e-mail addresses, based on stories I’ve read
  • There was no link on the Fire TV home screen that I saw. I searched for Disney+ (it came up as Disney Plus) while I was typing. Amazon may not have had time to put something together, but I hope they fully embrace Disney+: this is a symbiotic relationship, and I don’t think they’ll lose much Prime Video membership over it…viewership initially, perhaps, but I’m sure the vast majority of people watch PV as part of their Prime Memberships and don’t pay extra for it. Update: it timed out while I was writing this, and then there was a splash in the slideshoeat the top of the FTV home screen
  • There were zero reviews! I was seeing it at about 2:00 Pacific (my local time)
  • It took about a minute to download and install: nice!
  • Excitingly, it suggest that the app could automatically log me into it when I had the Disney+ app open on my phone (saving me, presumably, from entering my password, which can be tedious with a remote), if I was on the same network. However, after I downloaded the app, got the confirmation code, entered that on my phone…nothing. Maybe I had to be logged into the account on the phone when I opened Disney+ on the streamer…I’ll try that later today on another FTV
  • There was a collage character portraits of Maui from Moana, Elastigirl from The Incredibles, Captain America, Rey from Star Wars, and Jeff Goldblum from…well, it’s never been quite clear where he’s from, but we’re always glad to visit his world. ūüėČ He has a new show on D+, part of the National Geographic brand. They didn’t label or brand these
  • They did brand at the bottom: Disney/Pixar/Marvel/Star Wars/NatGeo
  • Further in, there were different character portraits, and with the brands in a different order: Iron Man, Darth Vader, hello again Elastigirl, Moana from Moana…and Jeff Goldblum
  • Once I was logged into the app, they had a slideshow. They promoted: The Mandalorian, Avengers: Endgame, Lady and the Tramp (the new “live” version), High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, The Simpsons, Avatar, Encore!, Captain Marvel, The World According to Jeff Goldblum, the Dumbo live action remake. So, that’s five D+Os (Disney+ Originals), two Marvel theatrical hits…Dumbo is an interesting choice, given that it wasn’t their biggest box office hit
    • What I’m not seeing so far promoted at all is Disney backlist (that’s what I most want to see…movies/TV more than, oh, I’ll go with more than thirty years old). Mickey Mouse hasn’t shown up at all yet, for example. That’s interesting to me: this should be a great service for movie/TV buffs and older fans, but I’d say it’s pretty clearly marketed at parents of kids and younger fans
  • Navigation:
    • 5 clickable tiles for Disney-Pixar-Marvel-Star Wars-National Geographic. One sort of cool thing is that when you scroll to one of those, you get an animated thumbnail, just for that one
    • Below that (I’ll start top to bottom):
      • Originals
      • Recommended for You (hmm…they don’t know me yet, presumably, so this must be a generic “me” at first): Avengers Endgame, The Simpsons, Dumbo, Captain Marvel, Free Solo, Lady and the Tramp, Expanding the Universe (Marvel), The Mandalorian, HSM:TM:TS (High School Musical…I’m not going to keep typing out that long title!), Marvel Hero Project, Frozen, Encore!, a Toy Story tile…but I’ll admit, I can’t read it from here (there may be a way to increase the size of the images, haven’t checked yet…something about money), that Jeff Goldblum series, The Imagineering Story, Avatar, Pixar in Real Life, Float, The Force Awakens, Noelle, The Sound of Music (part of the Fox acquisition: yay!), Cars, Clone Wars, The Family something, Moana,
      • Hit Movies: Avatar, Frozen, Toy Story 3, Avengers Endgame, The Force Awakens, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, Finding Dory, The Avengers, Rogue One, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Finding Nemo, The Avengers Age of Ultron, The Phantom Menace, Alice in Wonderland (Johnny Depp version), Inside Out…I’m going to stop listing individual titles or this will take too long!
      • Trending (The Simpsons is #1, if they are in order)
      • Out of the Vault: they do go beyond The 90s wave, including The Jungle Book, Cinderella, Snow White…
      • Inspired by True Stories
      • Ultra HD and HDR
      • Disney Channel Favorites
      • Musicals
      • Throwbacks: Hannah Montana, Boy Meets World, That’s So Raven, Darkwing Duck, Gargoyles, The Sandlot, Hocus Pocus, 10 Things I Hate About You…
      • Beasts and Monsters
      • Nostalgic Movies: here we go! Tron, the original The Parent Trap, The Rocketeer, the original The Love Bug, Return to Oz (if you haven’t seen it, be prepared to be creeped out!)…
      • Disney Junior Series
      • Feel Good Sports Movies
      • MIckey Mouse Through the Years (Hi, Mickey!)
      • Documentaries
      • Shorts
      • Fun Mysteries: Zootopia, The Great Mouse Detective, Sister Act…
      • Action and Adventure
      • Animal and Nature
    • Sidebar navigation
      • Profiles (Hi again, Mickey)…when I went to edit, I found that a bit difficult–just getting to the right places. Lots of icon choices, though, including Featured, Disney, Marvel, Star Wars, Nat Geo, Mickey Mouse and Friends, Disney Classics, a separate category for Disney Princess (why no plural?), Villains, Disney Channel | Autoplay | Background Video (on or off) } App Language (English UK, English US, Espanol (Latinoamericano), Francais (Candien), and Nederlands)
      • Search: title, character, or genre (no actor search? When I tried to search for Kurt Russell, it showed me appropriate choices when I typed Kurt, but by the time I added the R, it found nothing). Search also had “Collections”, like Through the Decades, Star Wars, and Spider-Man
      • Home
      • Watchlist
      • Original
      • Movies
      • Series
      • Settings: Account, Help, Legal, Log Out…I don’t see any accessibility settings (I checked under Account) to make it bigger, for example
  • UPDATE: Oh, oh, here’s a problem! I stopped watching a movie in the middle. When I went back into Disney+ it showed at first…that’s fine. When I deliberately went to home after that, I can’t find where it went! I figured they would add a navigation for incomplete viewings, but I don’t see anything. I checked under watchlist. I’ve scrolled through Home. I reselected my profile…nothing. They need an incomplete and/or recent part to the navigation
  • UPDATE: JustWatch, my favorite app/website to search streaming offerings, is already listing Disney+

That’s enough to get you started! I may add more to this later, but that’s a good introduction.

Overall? The interface looks cool, but could use some smoothing. For example, why do I have to delete the word “profile” to enter a name for a profile? Why, when there is an arrow pointing to my right, does the arrow on my remote not work (you have to click select instead)? Discovery seems okay, but will get better, I’m sure.

Enjoy! If you have questions, feel free to comment…but I might not respond right away! I’m off to Medfield College (a fictional Disney location used in quite a few of their movies).

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Disney+: a deeper dive

October 15, 2019

Disney+: a deeper dive

I honestly find it hard to find a reason why anyone who already subscribes to a streaming video service wouldn’t subscribe to


The price is right, the service is well designed (you can download the videos), but of course, it’s the content.

The Disney entertainment empire has the biggest names extant: Disney, Marvel, Pixar, Star Wars, National Geographic, a large chunk of Fox…

For a lot of people, signing up will be about those big flashy brands that Disney acquired: just to take Star Wars as an example, here’s the list of what will be available at launch (which includes both first trilogies & The Force Awakens) on what will be available at launch

Another attraction will be original material, shows and movies produced specifically for Disney+, and again, there are a lot of those!

I also suspect many people will sign up for the first time for a streaming service because of this: I can certainly picture gift subscriptions being a thing this holiday season (hopefully, they’ll have an easy way set up to do that).

What I thought I’d do in the post is highlight some of the “long tail” (in this case, maybe a long mouse tail?): the backlist titles you might not have seen (or not seen for a long time). That’s what will probably keep me the busiest, even if I’ve seen everything I’ll list here.

Oh, and two things worth noting before I list:

First, I haven’t pre-subscribed yet, although I fully intend to subscribe. Why? While we watch Amazon Prime and Netflix, my Significant Other and I watch Hulu the most when we watch together. Disney is the driving owner of Hulu, and they are going to use it for R-rated material and such, in addition to what it does now.

We pay a bit extra to have the current shows be commercial free, which is so worth it! Disney hasn’t announced the bundle with Hulu (and hopefully, without ESPN…we just never watch that) at the no-add tier. It’s sounding like we might not know what that is until the launch date of November 12th.

The other thing is that at this point, Disney and Amazon haven’t worked out a deal for Disney+ to be on¬† the

Fire TV family (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

I’m pretty confident they will: the advantages are too high for both of them. However, even if they don’t, I assume I’ll be able to mirror my phone to my TV, or perhaps use a browser on the Fire TV.

Okay, let’s take a look at some of the offerings (and more may yet be added) that might not be in the front of your mind, but are worth noting:

  • The Swiss Family Robinson (1960):: this is a live action adaptation of the novel and the cast includes James MacArthur, Tommy Kirk, and Kevin Corcoran. It’s a fun adventure: I’m guessing if most people know anything about it now, it’s because of the treehouse attraction at the Disney parks
  • Miracle on 34th Street (1947): here’s a benefit of the Fox acquisition! What a great movie about a department store Santa Claus who may be the real thing. Edmund Gwenn is Kris Kringle, but another real attraction is Natalie Wood…about nine years old at the time
  • The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men (1952) features Peter Finch as the Sheriff
  • The Living Desert and other nature documentaries: while there has been some controversy about them, these are thrilling and intriguing films (which may have influenced later nature shows)
  • Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959): another Fox film, this is the version I think of first…James Mason, Pat Boone, Arlene Dahl
  • 1961’s original The Absent-Minded Professor is just goofy fun, with good effects for the time
  • Also from 1961: Greyfriar’s Bobby, a dog story based on reality
  • That Darn Cat! (the 1965 original): that was a thing for Disney in the 1960s: live action comedies featuring animals
  • The Love Bug (1968) and the sequels…Herbie, one of the original self-driving cars!
  • The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes (1969): when asked about Kurt Russell movies, the Medfield College (also the school for The Absent-Minded Professor and others) Dexter Riley comedies are still some of the first that come to mind for me
  • Escape to Witch Mountain (1975): one of the most solid of the 1970s Disney live-action movies, Kim Richards and Ike Eisenmann are exceptional kids (a sequel and remake followed), and Eddie Albert, Ray Milland, and Donald Pleasance also appear
  • The Cat From Outer Space (1978): I’m not going to tell you it’s a great movie, but come on…a cat…from outer space!
  • Unidentified Flying Oddball (AKA A Spaceman in King Arthur’s Court) (1979): Jim Dale, Kenneth More, and Ron Moody are in this Mark Twain update
  • Think you’ve seen everything Marvel? Joan Van Ark’s Jessica Drew Spider-Woman TV series (1979) will be on Disney+ at launch
  • The Black Hole (1979) was Disney getting in on the Star Wars science fiction wave…it has its fandom
  • Return to Oz (1985): People will tell you that seeing this as a child scarred them for life, but hey, my Significant Other still can’t watch 1939’s The Wizard of Oz because of the flying monkeys…
  • The Black Cauldron (1985): Disney Feature Animation took a big bold step with this adaptation of the Lloyd Alexander Prydain books…and nearly broke its head falling down the stairs! Many firsts, including Disney’s 1st PG animated feature and the use of computer animation. It’s failure at the box office has made it one of Disney’s least seen animated features
  • The Great Mouse Detective (1986): Disney clearly doesn’t consider it an A feature (there’s no ride based on it, for example), but Vincent Price steals the show for some as an animated rat mastermind opposing a Sherlock Holmes analog (who is a mouse)

Well, I could do this for hours, but I have to wrap up this article at some point! I’ll just list some more, without summarizing them. This is only a small selection of the more than 600 titles which will be available…IO9 has put together a good list

  • Flight of the Navigator
  • Ducktales
  • Willow
  • Who Framed Roger Rabbit
  • Honey, I Shrunk the Kids
  • Turner & Hooch
  • The Rocketeer (this will be one of my first revisits)
  • Darkwing Duck
  • Newsies
  • X-Men: The Animated Series
  • Muppet movies
  • Hocus Pocus
  • Boy Meets World
  • Gargoyles
  • James and the Giant Peach
  • Smart Guy
  • Meet the Deedles (Robert Englund & Dennis Hopper)
  • Mighty Joe Young
  • Inspector Gadget
  • Annie
  • Even Stevens
  • Kim Possible
  • That’s So Raven
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Flicka
  • Lab Rats
  • Gravity Falls
  • Elena of Avalor
  • More than one Freaky Friday movie

Whew! I hope the search interface and recommendation engines are up to the task!

Feel free to point out others that caught your eye in comments for me and my readers. Hope this helps you get the most out of Disney+!

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Fans rage against proposed Wizard of Oz remake

August 25, 2019

Fans rage against proposed Wizard of Oz remake

A major studio wants to take Oz fans on another trip down the yellow brick road, but they’d just as soon stay in Kansas.

“I don’t know why Hollywood can’t come up with more original ideas! All they do is the same old thing, and they are never as good as the original,” said one irate member of the large and vocal Oz fan community.

The casting seems to be a particular concern.

“There was one obvious choice for Dorothy and they couldn’t get her. What, are they on the third choice? Pinkie something? And all the comedians! The Wizard, Glinda…and Mr. Gnong-gnong-gnong? Ridiculous!”

The production has been troubled. Injuries have been rampant, including a major actor’s hospitalization (and he was eventually replaced in the part). 14 writers and 5 directors have worked on the movie. It has reportedly run significantly over budget. Maybe the Wicked Witch has placed a curse on it…or perhaps its the collective thoughts of the vast Oz fandom.

We managed to find a producer of the movie who would speak on condition of anonymity.

“We just feel like new technology is giving us a new approach to the story. We’re really experimenting here, and I think it’s going to look nothing like the old version. If the fans will give it a chance, I think they’ll like it.”

Well, in case you haven’t guessed by now, I’ve been describing the version you probably think of as¬†the Wizard of Oz: the 1939 musical version with Judy Garland. Various versions of Oz had appeared on screen before. This, though, was the first sound version, and it was going to take advantage of new color processes.

That color brought major changes: the Wicked Witch wasn’t green in the books, and Dorothy has silver slippers, not ruby ones.

The name “Pinkie” I used? Judy Garland had played “Pinkie” Wingate in Listen, Darling the previous year. There were a lot of comedians: they tried to get W.C. Fields for the Wizard, and Billie Burke was known for comedy before playing Glinda.

One of the fans’ biggest concerns was Bert Lahr, who was a well-known comedian…that gnong-gnong-gnong was basically his catchphrase. Oz fandom really was big, and the Cowardly Lion was supposed to be big, too…the mightiest of the beasts in Oz, and one of Ozma’s main bodyguards (even with the fear factor). Fans were afraid Bert Lahr would largely just do his schtick…New York accent and all, and that’s not far off.

The movie was not a blockbuster in 1939, although it was not a major loser. It only became the beloved American classic we know today after repeated television showings.

I wanted to write this after I saw reaction online to someone floating the idea of Wizard of Oz remake, and how just about every respondent thought it was a terrible idea. I’m sure many of them would have reacted to the idea of the 1939 movie the same way. ūüôā

I generally like to find the good in things, and I wrote this back in 2010:

Hooray for remakes!

I need to update it and add in some more…and I think I may have been a bit harsh on some that I cited as reasons not to like remakes.

My main point, I suppose, is that there have been good remakes…and just rejecting the whole idea out of hand is easy, but if there weren’t ever any remakes, we wouldn’t have some real classics.

Feel free to tell me what you think by commenting on this post.

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Easily remove objects from photos with my favorite new app, Touch/Retouch

July 28, 2019

Easily remove objects from photos with my favorite new app, Touch/Retouch

I take a lot of pictures of our dogs…they even have their own free Flipboard magazine:

Butterscotch Chaos and Friends

I usually upload a picture a day, which I take with my Galaxy S10.

Phone camera tech is amazing nowadays! The autofocus is much faster than it was even two years ago. Most often, the pictures look great.

On the weekends, some of the pictures I take are at a dog park in our area…we’re fortunate enough to live within driving distance of one of the best dog parks in the world.

However, my issue had been that sometimes, other people (or dogs) are in the pictures. You develop little social groups, or “packs” as our dogs might call them. ūüėČ Our dogs are also very friendly, and will walk right up to strangers to be petted.

I’m not comfortable putting identifiable people on the internet without their permission.

So, I looked for a way or an app which might be able to remove those other people.

After reading up, I decided to buy (yes, pay for)

ADVA Soft TouchRetouch

I paid $2.99 for it…and it has far exceeded my expectations!

First, a little level setting.

Part of what I do for a living, a big part, is training people on software. I’ve been doing that for a long time. However, that has never been photo editing software. I’ve done some things with images in PowerPoint and such, and I used to edit Super 8mm film, but it’s all been pretty simple.

So, I can understand well how to use the app, but I don’t have any special photo editing experience.

With very little learning curve, I’ve often been able to remove objects from my photographs…and in under a minute.

Here’s an example of that:

If you take a look, I didn’t only remove the pen: I cleaned smudges off of the white cable in the back, and did some other minor retouching.

Now, it doesn’t always work that well. If there’s a complicated background behind the subject, it sometimes can’t figure out what it should use to fill in the gap.

There are, though, more tools than just the object remover. With that one, I just run my finger over what I want removed, then tell it to “Go”.

There is also an eraser…if my “smudge” gets on to something I don’t want removed, I can erase that part of the smudge first.

Undoing is also easy if I don’t like the result.

What about those other tools?

  • Quick Repair: Quick Brush: this one removes things without me tapping Go first. It can work well, but it doesn’t give you the chance to use that eraser
  • Quick Repair: Blemish Remover: it takes off spots and such. It really is a retouching tool
  • Line Removal: this one is terrific! You trace along a line…let’s say the cord for a device. You don’t have to be careful: it detects it, and then it can remove the whole thing
  • Clone Stamp: this one is tricky, and I’m not always happy with the result, although sometimes it is exactly what I need. You put a reference marker over something in the image, and then as you draw with your finger, it copies it. The issues I have with it are primarily: it’s too easy to move off where you intend (your reference location moves with your cloning finger), so something else comes into the cloned area…as a suggested improvement, I would love to be able to anchor the reference spot so it didn’t move; the image appears to be very flat, all the same, whereas when TouchRetouch removes an object, the image replacement is nicely textured

Here’s another example: again, I did this in under a minute for this article.

Of course, I mentioned sharing, and that’s important. Fortunately, TouchRetouch has good sharing options!

I don’t have to save the image first, or at all. What choices you have will vary based on what’s on your phone, but everything I want is there.

Everybody should have the choice to “Save as Copy” or “Modify Original”…I often save it as a copy.

You can choose format (JPEG, PNG, TIFF), size, and JPEG Quality.

I can send it to social media, save it directly to Flipboard, tweet it, and so on.

In terms of sources, I do wish it would show me my albums within my apps, or give me search, but I can get to my phone’s gallery, Amazon Photos, Google Photos, Downloads, OneDrive, Google Drive…that’s robust.

Bottom line? Well worth the $2.99! When it works right away, which is most of the time, it’s like magic. If it needs some human intervention, it’s still reasonably easy.

Do you have any TouchRetouch tips you’d like to share? Is there another photo editing app you feel is a must have? Would you just simply never pay for an app? ūüôā Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

Bufo’s Alexa Skills

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

What, me publish? Mad Magazine to cease publication

July 4, 2019

What, me publish? Mad Magazine to cease publication

According to this

CBS news story

and many other sources, the venerable illustrated humor magazine, Mad (originally Tales Calculated to Drive You Mad), is scheduled to stop publishing new material (old material may be reprinted with new covers).

It was highly influential , bringing broad parodies (at first, of other comics), but eventually covering a wide range of topics.

I read it regularly. I would do that both with the magazine (where you could do a special tri-fold of the back cover which would create a new picture and text) and in paperback books

I particularly remember a satire of Tarzan (where he faces the “tsuris”…a Yiddish word, which was the case with a lot of Mad’s jokes), and a Star Trek parody. In the latter, as I recall, they use the “transputter” a joke on the “transporter” and their body parts get misaligned. As I remember, when Kirk is asked how he is doing, he says, “I have the strangest feeling my face wants to sit down.”

It has continued to exist since 1952, eventually inspiring a TV series.

There were many regular features, from Spy vs. Spy to Dave Berg’s “The Lighter Side of…” to Don Martin’s work.

More than one celebrity has indicated that they really felt like they had arrived when they were parodied in the magazine.

I want to thank everyone who worked on Mad, especially in its heyday! I got a lot of pleasure out of its clever writing and inspired visuals.

What about you? What are your Mad Magazine memories? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

Bufo’s Alexa Skills

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

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