Sorry, Elmo

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I grew up watching Sesame Street. In fact, I probably watched it longer than I should have. I don't remember when I first started watching it, but I'm sure it was very early in my life. By the point I came along, Sesame Street would have been around for about seven years. Even though Oscar was no longer orange and Big Bird's head was a lot more fluffy, it was still in its nascent, rather unpolished form.

Despite it's criticisms, the concept of the show was pretty genius. Take education, package it up in commercial-sized chunks and sell learning to kids with it's entertaining songs and characters. Maybe it's responsible for destroying a couple generation's worth of attention spans, but I learned my letters and numbers watching that show. And it's comedy makes up a good portion of my nerd DNA.

Somewhere along the way, Sesame Street got "ruined." And I pin it all on Elmo. Almost out of nowhere, this red monster character who had been in the background shows up and begins dominating the show. I really wasn't aware of how pervasive he was until I had kids and started watching the show again with them. I see Sesame Street has having two major eras, BE and AE (Before Elmo and After Elmo). And I have to admit that I have had a bit of a contempt for Elmo as the symbol of what I see as the dissolution of "my Sesame Street."

That's probably why I resisted watching Being Elmo for so long. The documentary is about Kevin Clash who is the performer of Elmo. It goes into his history, the journey from local puppeteer to eventually getting the Elmo puppet thrown at him to try and make work. And did he ever make it work. It is a wonderful look at puppeteering and behind the scenes of the Muppet offices and sets.

In a big way, watching this was very therapeutic. In my past, I have wished for a high level of success like this. I remember wanting to be a Muppeteer and doing the kinds of things that Kevin Clash has been able to do. That would be amazing, but this documentary shows the great cost of success like that. Being a Muppeteer is not worth a divorce and incredible distance from my children (not to say that all Muppeteers go through that, but Clash did and it has to be tough for all of them).

In spite of the fact that I have never been an Elmo fan, I came out the other side with a huge respect for Clash and a better appreciation for Elmo and what he means to children. I'm too old to have any nostalgic feeling for the character, but I can see better now why kids love him so much. I also recommend replacing CAPTCHA codes on website forms with clips of Elmo interacting with the Make-a-Wish child. Unless you're a robot, you can't get through that scene without welling up at least a little bit.

So Elmo, you have my apologies. Even if I don't connect with you, I know there are those who do. Thanks for being what you are and inspiring the next generation with your love and fun.

Nerd Lunch Podcast 54: Give It A Chance - Dead Until Dark

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Maybe Legos make it better?

We dive neckfirst into the realm of southern vampires this week as Jen Usellis Mackay returns to the show to guide us through the first Sookie Stackhouse book, Dead Until Dark. Will we declare it a D-U-D (see what I did there?) or be won over to the supernatural romance genre by Sookie’s moxie, Eric’s debonair ways, and Bill’s “Billness”?  In our Nerd To-Dos, we tackle some Jason Bourne, Halloween prep, World of Warcraft, and 24.

The Marvels and the DCs, part 6

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Last Fall, 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. It's been a while since I've featured some of those pictures. Here are four more who participated:

Elliott Serrano

William Bruce West

crawler

My Name Is Bruce

Nerd Lunch Podcast 53: Drill Down - The Dark Knight Trilogy

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TDKR Dent

The Atomic Geeks’ very own Cosmic Viking, Christian Nielsen, joins CT and Pax for a blockbuster sized discussion of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. We cover all the bases from plot to casting to Batman’s throaty voice to “giant, black phallic symbols”.  Listen to find out what we liked, what bones we have to pick, and what Nolan could have learned from the Rocky movies.  This week’s Nerd To-Dos feature the yin and yang of the Morning Glories comic book and The Six Million Dollar Man TV show.

10 Things About "Expendables 2"

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1.  Dolph really steps up in this one, as we learn that Gunner shares much of Dolph's own ridiculous-but-true backstory (chemical engineering at MIT?  Seriously, He-Man?) and Gunner settles into the role of a more violent H.M. Murdock.  Nicely played.

2.   Jet Li's abbreviated role was a bit odd, but I can't say I missed him too much.  Wasn't quite sure from the first movie where he fit in the group dynamic, but I enjoyed the little moment with Dolph.  "Who will I pick on now?"  "You'll find some other minority."

3.  Sly at 65 is still a credible action hero, and I appreciate that they occasionally make reference to the fact that he's slowing down.

Nerd Lunch Podcast 52: DC Movies Strategic Plan

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Photo by quicheisinsane

William Bruce West settles into the fourth chair this week as we attempt to formulate a strategic plan for DC Comics' movie franchises. We delve into DC's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities for success, and threats to putting together a successful run. We debate how much DC should crib from Marvel, the much rumored JLA movie, crossing over onto TV, and whether there should be a shared DC movie universe at all. In our Nerd To-Dos, we hear about one nerd unloading part of his comic book collection, learn of a foray into True Blood, and discuss the impossible logistics of 24.

Star Trek Movies Appetizer

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Recently a few people that I know who have no real history with Star Trek have started either dabbling in Trek or voicing an interest in it. Brian from CoolandCollected.com was just on our podcast and talked about his experience with the Star Trek movies. Aaron from MovieHodgePodge.com also recently did a review for each of the original movies.

If you're new to Trek and looking to get into it, the movies might seem like an attractive place to start, although it may not be the best place. On our podcast, Jeeg recommended jumping into Next Generation or DS9 first. I would concur, but probably favor NextGen as a starting point. The problem with the movies as both Brian and Aaron cited is that they seem to gloss over explaining things for new fans. Not only are things as basic as the relationships between the characters glossed over, but also the minutia like what's the scoop with cloaking technology and why can't the Federation use it? While I like that those things are not hammered home again and again in the movies for fans like myself who already know that stuff, I can see where there is a disconnect for new viewers.

I also think that the movies can seem a little confusing from a thematic perspective. The stories run the gamut from cerebral sci-fi to tense naval showdown to wacky time travel adventure to political thriller. And there's Star Trek V in there, too which is its own extreme. So I thought I'd make a list of six episodes (one for each of the movies) of the original series that a new viewer could watch that not only cover some of the small details, but also expose the difference in tone that the original series could convey. Presented in episode order...

Nerd Lunch Podcast 51: More Does It Live Up to the Hype?

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Kirk_screaming_brian

We welcome Brian Adams from CoolAndCollected.com to our fourth chair this week for another session of Does It Live Up to the Hype. Each of us catches up on a hyped item that we somehow missed. On the docket this time around are the original Star Trek movies, Pulp Fiction, Breaking Bad, and Chick-fil-A. Our Nerd To-Dos include some Edgar Rice Burroughs, some C. S. Lewis, some L. Frank Baum, and something called bulletproof coffee.

(Nerd) Lunch Special: Gyros Eggs Benedict

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I’m not sure how many times we’ve mentioned gyros over the years, but it’s no secret how much the Nerd Lunch crew loves that Greek delicacy.  We haven’t discussed breakfast food nearly as much, but I love it too.  I could eat breakfast food anytime and regularly tee up eggs or pancakes for lunch or dinner.  When I found out that a local breakfast/lunch spot called Caboose did a gyros Eggs Benedict, I had to jump on it.

 

IMG_0085Going in I had guarded expectations. I have tried gyro omelets multiple times at various places and have always been disappointed. Gyro omelets are quite often just some eggs with gyro meat and onions, though usually missing tomato and almost never including the all important tzatziki sauce. All apologies to the breakfast cooks of middle America, but it’s impossible to capture the true flavor of a gyro without the essentials of gyro meat, onion, tomato, AND tzatziki sauce. 

 

Fortunately, the version at Caboose packs all of the essentials into the gyros Eggs Benedict along with feta cheese. It all comes together into a heap of deliciousness. A poached egg makes almost everything better and gyro meat is no exception. What did surprise me was how well the sharpness of the feta and tzatziki melded with the Hollandaise sauce. The plate delivers notes of both dishes and something new, which is exactly what I hope for in combinations like this. 

 

I probably shouldn’t be eating gyros Eggs Benedict too often, and most cardiologists would agree, but I definitely will be back to Caboose for another go.

One More Thing about the SHIELD TV Series

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Summer Glau as Jessica Drew, codename Spider-Woman.  She's been enhanced with spider DNA, raised by HYDRA, and trained by the Taskmaster, and in the pilot, she turns and starts working for SHIELD with Dum-Dum as her handler.  A little Alias, a little Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.  Summer has the looks and the action chops, the nerdfolk love her, and Joss has her number and takes care of his people.

Of course, once you cast one Whedon regular, you start thinking about others who could use the work.  Any ideas, true believers?  To get you started . . . Ron Glass as Gabe Jones, although I don't know whether he's better played as the same Gabe from Cap's WWII team (either age suppressed or appropriately made-up to add 25 years), or as Gabe Jr.  I wouldn't turn down Morena Baccarin as Valeria de Fontaine.
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