Fill-in Atomic Geek Mark Dury is a man who inspires self-loathing in me. I have an on-again/off-again relationship with video production, so seeing what Mr. Dury does just makes me want to abandon it all.

He posted a funny little video this morning that's a re-edit of the end of Star Wars. It's very impressive how a bit of restructuring can drastically affect the outcome. I appreciate both the nerdy funniness of this and the video production aspect of this.

And Mark would appreciate some Diggs. If you have a Digg account, click this link and "Digg it."

I probably do hate mountains, though my geologic preferences really aren’t important. What is important is that everyone’s favorite zombie killing biker, Francis from Left 4 Dead, hates mountains just like everything else. Unfortunately for Francis, he and the other survivors find themselves in zombie infested mountains and woods in a new fan created campaign.

I Hate Mountains PosterI Hate Mountains comes from the same team that created the popular Portal mod, Portal: Prelude. The team’s objective was to create an add-on that lived up to the original game content by Valve and they succeeded. In fact, I Hate Mountains easily matches the four campaigns included in Left 4 Dead 1 and surpasses the official Crash Course DLC campaign from Valve. The gameplay is challenging, the crescendo events are fresh, the atmosphere is right in line with the original game, and there are Chicago Ted references a plenty. Gamers who enjoyed Left 4 Dead on the PC (sorry, Xbox 360 fans) owe it to themselves to grab a copy.

In my post about the Howling Commandos, I noted one of the quirks of the comic book "sliding timescale" (as implemented by Marvel and DC Comics) is that there's a large batch of characters who are assumed to have been active in the "Golden Age" era of WWII; a larger batch of "modern age" characters who are assumed to have been active for the past 10-15 years; and an ever-widening gap between the two.

Now hardcore nerds, we worry about this stuff. Some years ago, CT and I both suffered through "Marvel: The Lost Generation," a Roger Stern / John Byrne attempt to fill that gap with a huge cast of ill-conceived, underdeveloped characters who were forgotten the minute the series ended and have basically gone unmentioned ever since. Good idea, lousy execution.

Now DC Comics has it a bit easier, because they have acquired the rights to a variety of characters from other companies (like the Charleton heroes and the Mighty Crusaders) and they have a variety of properties which just scream "Silver Age" like Challengers of the Unknown, Doom Patrol, Metal Men, etc.

So if I were running things at DC, I'd take all this Silver Age stuff and sort of leave it in the Silver Age. For continuity purposes, assume that these adventures took place sometime between the end of the WWII Golden Age and the beginning of the modern age.

I'm actually a big enough geek that I'd even put the second generation of the Justice Society somewhere in this period --- around the time of their late 70s revival and early 80s incarnation as Infinity, Inc.

Because I worry about this kind of thing.
Just got back from seeing The A-Team. Wow.

I'm going to diverge from the usual story/presentation approach that Jeeg and I use when we review movies. For me, this movie is more than just that. A movie can have a strong story and presentation, yet completely betray what it is supposed to be. Especially when the source material isn't something that is traditionally taken seriously by most. I've seen several TV shows translated to film and found them lacking the spirit or respect they deserve. Charlie's Angels and Starsky and Hutch were jokes. Mission: Impossible turns the main character from the series into a villain. The Avengers and Wild Wild West were awful. Except The Fugitive, there aren't that many creative successes, so imagine my trepidation about a property that I hold near and dear.

For as long as I've known about The A-Team, I've loved it. I had an A-Team lunch box and at one time owned the old action figures. There are a lot of things that I have looked back at from my childhood days with my grown up eyes and been disappointed to find they didn't hold up. But The A-Team has been a delight to rewatch. While it has its faults, it's good fun with great characters who have an awesome dynamic with each other. But there's some subtle depth to it that I believe is intentional on the part of the creators of the show. That depth is found in classic tales of old that inspired The A-Team and it carries over to the show. These three men, plus Murdock and occasionally a reporter, were on the run from the law and were always hoping there would be a way to clear their name. What they didn't realize (although I suspect that Hannibal did) was that they were more free on the run then they ever would have been had they been able to get on with their lives without looking over their shoulder.

The A-Team never got bound by the trappings of society. And because of that and their good nature and strong sense of justice, they were modern-day Robin Hoods that could accomplish what no one else could. There was no legal tape to cut through or hold them back. There was no family at home to worry about. There was no fear about not being able to get that promotion because of something they did. They were completely free to do whatever they wanted. Thankfully, they were on our side...the side of the common man.

They were only able to pull this off for two reasons. First, they were dedicated to sticking together no matter what. Face explained it best when he talked about how separately, they are social misfits, but together, they are something amazing. But it takes that second thing to make them amazing and that is the mind of Hannibal Smith. Hannibal always has a plan, never loses his cool, and walks that line between crazy and genius. He is absolutely in my top five fictional characters list. And ultimately, my opinion of the movie was 100% contingent on the director/writers/actor getting him right.

So, let me say that they got me. Five minutes into the movie and I was sold on Hannibal. There were still little things I would have preferred they did differently with him. For example, he gets angry more than he should. But most of the time, that was directed at Face and Hannibal sees in him a responsibility to take over this unit someday. That's a theme that was played with during the series as well. Peppard's Hannibal at times seemed to have a much more external appearance of apathy when in reality, he was completely in control and three or more steps ahead of everyone else. Even after working together for years in Vietnam and for several years since escaping into the Los Angeles underground, his insight into situations still impressed his teammates.

Bradley Cooper's Faceman was dead on accurate. Again, there were subtle nods to the TV series with Face using his charm to acquire things that should be otherwise impossible to acquire. If I can be somewhat sacri-ateam-ligious, Rampage Jackson's BA was an improvement over Mr. T's by bringing more depth to the character and slightly more acting ability than T ever could. He doesn't quite have the fire that T did, but he still brings it. And Sharlto Copley's Murdock was likely the most surprising and most faithful casting choice of the four. His performance peppered in tons of fun bits that were very reminiscent of Dwight Schultz's version on the series.

The spirit of the movie completely rang true throughout. This is best displayed when they break Murdock out of the VA hospital in the middle of the movie. Not only are there incredibly awesome Easter eggs during the build up of the breakout (watch the credits of the movie that's playing), but driving a car through a building during a 3-D movie is just perfectly Hannibal.

If I had to make complaints, I'd say that some of the fight scenes were dark and in too close. That's the style of fight scenes thse days. I look forward to movies making a shift back to editing that allows me to see what's going on. I also found the score somewhat lacking. I would liked for the heavy guitar riffs to have stayed a part of the score just as it did in the original series. It was rather bland otherwise. I would have also liked to have seen the great Stephen J. Cannell at the end of the movie with his typewriter.

With this one done and the origin story told, a sequel or two or three would be very welcome. In the meantime, I'll be coming up with adventures for them of my own.

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My plan is to finally see The A-Team movie tomorrow morning. While I'm looking forward to seeing the movie, there is some sadness that going to see it brings as well. Long-time readers of the blog know that I've been working on an A-Team movie in my head for a long time now. I've "cast" the movie, come up with directors and such, and am just generally more passionate about this property than I should be.

I'm not delusional. I knew that I would never get to actually make MY A-Team movie, but whenever someone says to me "go to your happy place," that's where I go. I go to MY A-Team movie.

I have a feeling that seeing the new movie will ultimately cause me to no longer be able to visit that happy place untainted. No longer will I be able to envision the movie as I see it without little bits of the real movie finding their way into it. It's like listening to a song and coming up with your own visuals for it, but then seeing the music video and losing your own vision.

So tonight, when I lay in bed ready to go to sleep, I'll visit MY A-Team movie one last time and then it will be time to let go and try to enjoy the new movie for what it is. If that doesn't work, I'll always have my complete series on DVD.
I've always been fond of the Howling Commandos, Stan and Jack's mid-60s creation that gave us a WWII "ethnic diversity squad" in the Mighty Marvel Manner. The Howlers have been confirmed to appear in the upcoming Captain America movie.

Now one way this gets interesting is that while the original Howlers used the traditional white guy Nick Fury, the movie will (presumably) use the Sam Jackson version. The classic Howlers were already notable in having an anachronistically integrated squad --- thanks to Private Gabe Jones (plus an Irish Catholic, a Jew, an Italian, a Kentuckian, a German, and a gay British guy). But having a black non-com in charge of a mostly white squad of Rangers? Even more anachronistic . . . but interesting.

In the comics, Stan and Jack eventually did a "modern" version of Nick Fury, a superspy Colonel 20 years post-war. Lee and Kirby were both WWII vets, and they were never shy about making middle-aged guys their leading men (Reed Richards, Ben Grimm, Dr. Strange).

But like most characters linked to WWII, Nick and the Howlers were gradually hit by the sliding timeline, the convention that comic book characters don't age in real time, but rather have all of their adventures squeezed into a 10 to 15 year period. For Richards and Grimm, this meant that by the late 70s, references to their service in WWII were dropped, and they were both stuck in somewhere in their early to mid 40s. For Nick Fury, it was either time to say he was a Vietnam vet or mention that he's been taking youth serum for several decades. Marvel went with the youth serum.

But unless I've missed it (and I don't miss this kind of thing), there has never been an explanation about the other Howlers --- several of whom appeared fairly regularly as SHIELD agents. In the late 70s, this just meant that they were a bit over the hill. I have a couple of "Captain America" comics from the early 80s in which they have one last adventure, most of them looking like very fit 60ish guys. But time marches on for these old soldiers as the war fades into history, so now, not only do we have Dum Dum Dugan still out there kicking ass at approximately 95 years old, but all of Dugan's adventures as a SHIELD agent happened sometime after his 80th birthday.
Toy Story 3 is due out this weekend which means there will soon be more than ten Pixar movies. In honor of the upcoming release, the three Nerds here offer up their rankings of the Pixar movies.

The Incredibles
Toy Story
Toy Story 2
Finding Nemo

(Haven't seen Monster's Inc. or A Bug's Life, though both have to be better than Cars or Finding Nemo.)

Toy Story 2
Toy Story
Monster's Inc.
Finding Nemo
Bug's Life

Toy Story 2
Monsters, Inc.
Toy Story
A Bug's Life
Finding Nemo

Comparing these lists brings no real consensus. The closest we come is that the original Toy Story is in the top half of all three lists and Cars finds its way near or at the bottom of all three lists.

Incredibles and Up both make it high on Jeeg's and Plee's lists where they fall lower on mine. Although, Jeeg and I both have Wall-E high and Plee has it down lower. I also think it's interesting that Plee and I both have Toy Story 2 higher than the first where Jeeg has that switched.

These rankings also don't give a sense of scale. Jeeg clearly doesn't like Cars or Finding Nemo, but just because Ratatouille falls at the bottom of my list, doesn't mean I don't enjoy it.

It will be interesting to see where Toy Story 3 falls. I have to admit that I have some trepidation about it. I hope it's good.

Word on the street is that "Captain America: The First Avenger" will have a big role for Cap's WWII allies, the Invaders.

In the 1970s, Marvel writer and Golden Age fanboy supreme Roy Thomas decided to pull a major retcon and say that Cap, Namor, and the android Human Torch (along with various sidekicks and later additions) had been a team in WWII. But if you're reading Nerd Lunch, you probably knew that.

But you just can't use the classic Invaders. Bucky is fine, and even necessary, and is a confirmed cast member. But the Torch? Aside from the fact that Chris Evans already played a different Torch in a couple of movies, Torch is problematic because he requires some explaining. We've been following Cap up until this point in the movie --- regular guy, super-solider serum, etc. --- and then all of a sudden there's an android, so perfect he can pass for human, and he can fly and shoot fireballs?

And Namor is even tougher. He's flying underwater Spock in a green swimsuit, with wings on his feet. You can't just drop this guy into the middle of this movie without radically shifting the tone of the piece.

So I figure, let's use characters that fit in better, that make the cast more international (gotta sell this movie overseas), and/or that open the way to spinoffs. Union Jack (the Brit Cap), his sister Spitfire (speedster, but more like 70 MPH than the Flash), the Mighty Destroyer (sort of a behind-enemy-lines proto-Punisher) . . . and Batroc the Leaper, master of savate. In the comics, he's a contemporary character, and a baddie, but having a savate guy running around kicking Nazis in the head needs to happen.
I love The A-Team. I love action figures. So, it's no surprise to you to learn that I broke down and bought the new "Classic A-Team Van" by Jazwares.

The figures seem cool enough, but until I see the movie, I don't want to make an investment into action figures based on those actors. I'm sure they'll do fine, but I just want to see it first. But the van...the van...I had to get it.

It's pricey for what you get. This set me back $25 at Target. There are reports that Toys R Us has it for $20, but the Toys R Us in my area didn't have it at all.

Perhaps I'll get the figures eventually, or even better, perhaps they'll make figures based on the classic versions of the characters and I'll get those. But in the meantime, the coolest thing about this van is that accommodates most 3 3/4" action figures. So, my G.I. Joe action figures have a new van to play with.

I put the call out on Twitter and two of my friends on Twitter made suggestions for a makeshift A-Team using Joe characters. @GeekInsight suggested Sgt. Slaughter who I unfortunately don't have yet. @dcod3r suggested Roadblock, Duke, Flint and Cutter. I don't have Cutter, but then Dusty was suggested instead.

  • Looks like the classic van
  • Fits the 3 3/4" scale
  • Good detail
  • Decent paint job

  • Could be sturdier
  • Back doors could open for weapon storage
  • Pricey for the lack of features

There's a sound effect special feature that I could do without.

There is an even more thorough review of the BA figure and the van over on where they have a video showing off the sound effects. I'm not going to waste batteries for that. Also, the fine folks at tell me there will be a review of this forthcoming, likely this weekend. I'll update this when that review is posted.

Still, if you love the A-Team, I recommend picking this up. It might be worth trying to wait a while and seeing if it goes down in price any. Sometimes these movie lines flop and wind up getting clearanced or move over to Big Lots.

I took some more pictures and have posted the complete gallery on our Facebook page.

It probably isn’t surprising that someone who writes on a blog called Nerd Lunch is on the Think Geek mailing list. Some of their stuff is even too nerdy for me, but I usually get a chuckle out of a few things in every catalog. This time around my eye gravitated towards this:

Tactical Bacon

Tac Bac: Tactical Bacon in a Can

A little over a half pound of fully cooked bacon sealed into a can with a 10 year shelf life. Brought to you by the fine folks at CMMG, showing that they’re more than just assault rifles and ammunition.

At $15 plus shipping, it’s a pricey bit of cured meat. Though our buddy Dirty Dave should have it and a Batter Blaster on hand for that final breakfast during the zombie apocalypse.