88 Days

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Now into double digits, the end is within arm's reach. Too bad I don't have a time travelin' Delorean where I can drive 88 mph and skip ahead to the end. I am looking forward to breaking out my Back to the Future Blu-rays again and watching this phenomenal trilogy all over again.

The Marvels and the DCs, part 4

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ATOMIC EDITION!


A few weeks ago, I offered to send post cards to readers of this blog. All I asked in return was that you would send me back a picture with you and your card. Today, I feature three more who have done just that. Today's post features two of the four Atomic Geeks and another fine fellow I've met because of the Geeks.


Christian sent in two pictures. I debated trying to just run the one with his daughter and cropping him out but decided against that. Christian can be briefly heard on the tenth episode of the Nerd Lunch Podcast.


Michael "DiGio" DiGiovanni has professed to be a huge fan of Green Lantern on the podcast so a GL card was a must for him. DiGio can be heard on...oh wait...that hasn't happened yet...


Chris Lockhart is a fellow fan of the Atomic Geeks and has also been listening to the Nerd Lunch podcast quite a bit as well. He's a huge Star Trek fan as well. He's had the opportunity to meet a couple of my favorite Trek actors and you can read more about him and his encounters with those celebrities here.

Nerd Lunch Podcast 21: Comic Book Scenarios

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While Jeeg is off jet setting overseas, Pax and CT take advantage and welcome Vanessa and Erika from Girls Gone Geek to discuss "comic book scenarios." The podcasting crew discuss super powers, sidekicks, and which characters should be killed and stay dead. Plus, one member's "Nerd To-Do" reveals a desire to finally do some Black Canary cosplay. No...it's not CT's to-do, but just saying that paints a picture you'll never get rid of. You're welcome, Internet.

Countdown to Avengers: Before the Avengers Initiative

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Most nerds would agree that in the current state of comic book movies, Marvel is outshining DC. Since Blade in 1998, a surprisingly decent film, Marvel has slowly but surely overtaken and far surpassed DC in terms of overall quality and scope with their properties on the silver screen. This is all culminating in one of the largest, most grandiose film experiments ever--The Avengers.

But before 1998, Marvel was a laughing stock. Especially because every other month, Stan Lee was bragging about how some character was going to be appearing in a movie soon. These announcements were hard to believe because they rarely happened. And when they did happen, they were less than stellar. Many of the characters that we have slowly met again for the first time during the last five years appeared in live action form before.

Captain America Serial (1944)

I have to admit that I have not seen this in its entirety. While I like old serials, this one is not high on my list to check out due to the changes it made from the comic series. Cap is not Steve Rogers, a soldier but rather Grant Gardner, a DA, who fights mob crime instead of Nazis. The costume is moderately faithful to the comic, but he does not use his shield. There is a sequence in 2011's Captain America film that is a throwback to old serials, but beyond that scene, this 1944 production cannot have inspired much of what is being produced today.

Incredible Hulk TV Series (1978)
Kenneth Johnson was fairly irreverent when it came to the comic books and producing this show. He admitted to wanting to change the color of the Hulk in the show to red, he changed the name of the main character to David (from Bruce), and dropped the idea of having the Hulk ever talk. These departures from the comic worked in the context of the show, but it is ironic is that the 2008 (Ed Norton) and 2012 (Mark Ruffalo) versions of the character both admit to using Bill Bixby's interpretation as an inspiration. In fact, Ruffalo has even said that the show was a huge inspiration to himself and director Joss Whedon with Banner being more of a hero and focusing less on the cure. The show's theme shows up in 2008's Incredible Hulk. There are also little homages to the show such as seeing a Bill Bixby show on a television, a Lou Ferrigno cameo, and a letter addressed to "David B." intended for Bruce Banner. It is clear that this show makes up the DNA of the modern-day Avengers movie.

Captain America (1979) and Captain America II: Death Too Soon (1979)
Oh boy. Of everything on the list, this may be some of the most unwatchable material ever produced. Starring the second worst actor in the history of Hollywood, Reb Brown, this movie was yet again a departure from the comics. Steve Rogers was a soldier, but he was done fighting and wanted to travel the country painting pictures of nature. Then he gets involved with a scientist friend of his late father who revealed that Steve had a unique body chemistry that could benefit from a super steroid. Steve rejects it until he has an accident and it saves his life. The reluctant hero, Steve dons a Captain America costume and has to stop terrorists with a bomb. This had some of the worst dialogue and acting ever. Cap's first outfit in the movies was a departure from his comic outfit but he eventually changed to one that was closer. He did have his shield, but it was large, clunky, and obviously plastic. Hopefully the Avengers folks stayed away from this one in their research.

The Incredible Hulk Returns (1988)
Of all on this list, this is the closest we come to a live action Avengers in that it is the only time we have two Avengers team up in live action form before 2012. In a made-for-TV reunion movie of the original series, David Banner is found by Donald Blake who was a medical doctor on a Norse expedition. He found Thor's hammer and is able yell "ODIN" and Thor appears. Thor and Hulk team up to fight bad guys and save David's girlfriend. There are a couple of nice bits in the movie, but it mostly plays as mediocre episode of the TV series combined with being a pilot for a proposed Thor TV series. In a setting that was largely intended on not being "comic bookish," this was a bit of a stretch. Thor was little like his comic counterpart although there are a few moments from the 2011 Thor movie that I felt like were throwbacks to this. Both have scenes in bars, and in both, Thor is a bit of a destructive fish out of water. I doubt they did those things on purpose, but it is worth noting.

Death of the Incredible Hulk (1990)
The final reunion movie for the Bill Bixby Hulk series did not feature a comic book team up like the previous two (Daredevil in the second one), but did feature a Russian spy that many have thought was derivative of Black Widow. She does have some similarities, but I don't buy it. I only bring this movie up due to those comparisons and her character's appearance in the upcoming Avengers movie.

Captain America (1990)
Maybe the third time's a charm? Nah... This movie was only released in the theater internationally and went direct-to-video in the US. It gets closer to being comic book accurate, but still misses many of the details. Cap is Steve Rogers, is a weak guy who is chosen to receive the super soldier serum, and just after receiving those abilities a spy kills the scientists involved meaning it can never be replicated. There is an added bit that the scientist responsible for Cap was also responsible for the Red Skull which was a piece used in the 2011 film. The origin is knocked out in 20 minutes but much of the movie takes place after he wakes up in 1990 rather than in WWII. He hardly spends any of the movie in his native time at all. There are a couple of okay bits, but again, this is a miss.

Nick Fury: Agent of Shield (1998)
It has been a while since I watched this so my recollection of it is hazy. The important points worth mentioning are that David Hasselhoff plays Nick Fury (this is before the Ultimate Universe made Nick a black guy that looks like Sam Jackson) and Hydra is the main opponent. A reasonable attempt at telling a Nick Fury story. The Hoff does a surprisingly decent job in the role, though he's still the Hoff playing Nick Fury. There are a lot of pieces that are faithful to the comic, but it's just a big spy/action story. Not a whole lot to use as inspiration here for the modern-day Nick Fury character who has, thus far, been less hands on.

The Hulk (2003)
An odd movie, this Hulk film is more artistic in nature and has a narrative that is all over the place. More faithful to the comics than the TV show, this movie brings in Betty Ross, Thunderbolt Ross, and gives us a "Hulk versus the Army" chase scene that is quite epic in scale. Ultimately, Eric Bana's portrayal of Banner lacks heroism and isn't as a sympathetic character as he is maybe intended to be. The worst part of the movie is the weird final fight in which Hulk fights his dad who is now essentially the Absorbing Man. There is a giant gamma cloud thing and then the Hulk disappears only to reappear in another part of the world. In 2008, many thought it was too soon for a reboot, but I welcomed it as this movie was a mess. I did like the supporting cast, but William Hurt and Liv Tyler did fine jobs in their roles as the replacements.

With this, we begin a blog crossover with To the Escape Hatch that is counting down to the Avengers film in May. Over the next few months, we'll revisit the five films leading up to the Avengers, look at some extra stuff, speculate about where it is all going, and eventually end with a giant review of the film.

Nerd Lunch Podcast 20: Movie Sequels

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The Nerd Lunch crew is back together with Robert Zerbe for a bigger, louder, and uncut episode. After hearing about the latest happenings at To The Escape Hatch, we dive into movie sequels. We discuss what makes a good sequel, debate the differences between movie series and sequels, give our favorites and least favorites, and propose our own sequels for movies that don’t yet have any. In this week’s Nerd To-Do List, we offer a heaping helping of British TV and Pax provides an update on the Star Trek/Quantum Leap fanfic story mentioned in episode 18.

A couple of notes about Burger King…

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Last fall, we got a pretty decent coupon for Burger King. For one cent less than $10, we got:
  • 1 Whopper
  • 1 Whopper, Jr.
  • 10 piece chicken tenders
  • 3 small fries
  • 3 small drinks
  • 2 pies

Pretty good deal that fed our family quite nicely. After the coupon expired, they brought it back as a regular promotion but changed a few of the items. They dropped the chicken, pies, one of the fries, and one of the drinks and replaced them with a kid's meal. Not horrible bad trade. That would have still worked for us although we might have had to supplement a little bit. And by not getting pies, it would have meant no one fought about pies.

I don't think this promotion is going on right now, but let me belatedly applaud BK for this promotion. Jeeg mentioned on the podcast a few weeks ago about the dwindling fast food deals like this. I like the idea of buying a big sack of food and feeding my entire family for around $10. It's why we go to Taco Bell so often.

The only downside is the fries. While I like Whoppers and their inexplicably good chicken sandwich, I've not ever been a big fan of their fries. BK has changed out their fries recently for a thicker cut. I was hoping this would translate to a new flavor, but it's just a thicker version of the same-tastin' fries. If you're stuck paying full price for a side at BK, I still recommend going with the onion rings.

Perhaps next time I post about Burger King, I will be reviewing what I think of their delivery service.

Green Walrus

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I think it was around 1990 when I remember reading news of a Green Lantern movie that was in production. Being that he has long been one of my favorite comic book characters, I was excited for such a project. Needless to say, that movie either had a long development time or that exact project failed to happen. It would be 21 years before I would see Green Lantern realized in big-screen live action form. Never would I have thought that a movie about Thor would eclipse a movie about Green Lantern, but it did. Although it was probably better than the film I would have gotten had they made a Green Lantern movie in 1990, this is not the film I have waited 21 years to see.

Story:
The basic origin story was fairly faithful to the comic book but did take some slight deviations. Also, with DC it's hard to know what is "faithful" to the comic anymore. Green Lantern has probably had three major tellings of his origins over the 50 or so years he's been around. This was probably pretty faithful to the most recent one. That aside, the story suffered from forcing the themes down the viewers throats rather than letting them see them displayed through the actions of the characters.

It also read as DC's attempt to make a Marvel movie. That's an understandable thing right now given that Marvel movies are rocking the super hero movie world right now. But DC and Marvel characters are different from each other. Marvel origins are very much about redemption and humanity. The characters in Marvel start at a low point and must take on their heroism to redeem themselves. This is not the template for a DC character. Most DC characters are naturally good people who are granted powers for who they are already rather than what they can become. I found it very hard to believe that the ring chose this guy out of the 7 billion people in the world.

I did find Sinestro to be an interesting character and wished there had been more interaction between him and Hal Jordan. This was a prominent part of one of the recent DC Universe animated movies and makes the eventual turn of Sinestro mean so much more. It would be akin to not giving Batman much time with Harvey Dent before his turn to Two-Face.

Presentation:
The biggest issue with this movie was casting. I don't mind Ryan Reynolds, but Hal Jordan he is not. I could see him as a wise-cracking Wally West or he was okay as Deadpool, but something about him seemed off as Hal Jordan. He was too aloof and really a big jerk. He's not the only casting problem. Blake Lively really doesn't live up to her name with her cardboard acting and lack of chemistry with the lead. I didn't buy her as an aspiring entrepreneur nor as a friend of Hal Jordan's.

The effects weren't bad, but I do question the need to change the classic costume from the comic book version. The Gil Kane-designed outfit is one of the greatest costumes in comics. It's a shame that we still have not seen it truly realized on screen.

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Nerd Lunch Podcast 19: Drill Down on Soda

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Podcast regular Shawn Robare occupies the fourth chair for a discussion of sodas, pops, fizzy drinks, cokes, or whatever you might call them. We kick around our favorite and most hated carbonated beverages, wade into the cola wars, and talk about ill conceived soda disasters. Crystal Pepsi, anyone? Plus in the Nerd To-Do List, we finally get an Earthworm Jim reference and CT's review of the Green Lantern movie. (Full-length blog review of the Green Lantern movie coming tomorrow!)

(Nerd) Lunch Special: Cheerwine

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Usually on Tuesdays we are announcing a new episode of our podcast, but this week's episode will be delayed by one day. We will be doing another Drill Down and this time we will be talking about sodas. It's a good one and I'm looking forward to sharing it with our Nerd Lunchketeers.

In the meantime, I wanted to bring up a soda that I neglected to mention on tomorrow's episode. This is a "new to me" soda called Cheerwine. Cheerwine has been around for 95 years, but hasn't been widely distributed until recently. It is finally available in Tallahassee and signs like the one above can be seen around town announcing it. I guess it's a legend, but it has been completely off my radar until this past Fall.

To see what was so legendary, I picked up a two liter and gave it a try. In essence, this is Dr. Pepper turned up to 11 and then turned up some more. It has a strong cherry flavor. Some might argue that it's a cherry-infused cola, but I would argue that it's a cola-infused cherry soda. I didn't hate it, but it's so strong that I can't see picking this up again.

What about you? Have you had this legendary drink? What were your thoughts?

The Marvels and the DCs, part 3

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A few weeks ago, I offered to send post cards to readers of this blog. All I asked in return was that you would send me back a picture with you and your card. Today, I feature three more who have done just that.

[Note: I do have some remaining cards. Email me if you are interested in one. No guarantee that you'll get the company that you want at this point.]


Jack is one of our favorite readers of this blog and stumbled upon us a little over a year ago. Since then, he's been one of our biggest commenters and always offers insights and encouragement to us. Being that he served in the Navy, I sent him a Sub-mariner card. You can find Jack over at Jack's Hideout.


I met MonkeyJedi through Twitter. He runs a blog/review site over at http://geekhash.blogspot.com. Definitely worth checking out. Lots of great tips for things to check out and even ways of landing some of those things on the cheap.




What is there to say about Rob? Absolutely nothing. But I'll try anyway. I found Rob through Twitter via Marvel's Senior Art Director Jeff Suter. We were both listed in a "Follow Friday" one day and I decided to see what this @Spidey004 guy was all about. And I have never regretted an action in my life more. In all seriousness, he's hilarious and it is my secret hope to have him on our podcast some day.

Nerd Lunch Podcast 18: Fan Fiction Reviews

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Jay from The Sexy Armpit returns to our guest chair to kick off a new year of the podcast. Jay joins Pax, Jeeg, and CT in an exploration of the terrifying majesty that is FanFiction.net. After coming to grips with the site, each of us selects a fan fiction story for a favorite property, does our best to actually read it, and offers up a review. If you ever wanted to know who wears the pants in Hordak's Horde family or were curious about Amy Allen's dating life, this is the episode for you.

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