Nerd Lunch Podcast 63: 80s Sitcoms

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Finally, Mark Linn-Baker has come to Nerd Lunch

We’re joined this week by Claymation Werewolf for a very special episode on 80s sitcoms. Rather than going straight for the Kate & Allie drilldown, we go around the horn reminiscing about the shows we watched regularly, our favorite series, memorable episodes, and more. The usual suspects like Cheers, Family Ties, and The Golden Girls are mentioned, but we get to Mama’s Family, A Different World, and Major Dad a lot faster than anybody would expect. Our Nerd To-Dos feature real life screenwriting, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, an upcoming gathering of the nerds, and Black Friday shopping plans.

CT and the Hulk...again

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A few years ago, I posted about the number of times I encountered a giant Hulk and had my picture taken next to it. Well, it happened again this past weekend. While in Orlando visiting friends for Thanksgiving, my family made an afternoon jaunt over to Downtown Disney. In the giant Lego store, there was a big Hulk made out of a million Legos (give or take a dozen). Once again, I had my picture taken next to the Hulk and this time, my son joined the photo. Perhaps I've passed the gamma-irradiated baton to him.

Nerd Lunch Podcast 62: More Fan Fiction Reviews

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Kirk/Spock

Kristin Rielly, formerly of Geek Girls Network, returns to the show to help us review more stories from fanfiction.net. This time we focus on movie based stories with more vampires, dragons, imaginary friends, and super scientists than you can shake an iPod at. And fear not listeners, we do accidentally run into some slash fic. Yeah, accidentally. Our Nerd To-Dos this go around include some more Bond (will it ever stop?), a different flavor of Red Rock soda, Kingdom Hearts, and holiday move planning.

Super Spokesheroes

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So it looks like Hostess is closing down their doors. Probably one of my fondest memories of Hostess is when they would run one-page stories featuring super heroes eating their pies. Seanbaby.com features a rundown of the history of those ads. However, super heroes were not exclusive to Hostess. They've long been pitching products to you.

Here's a run down of as many as I could find (only the first three videos are embedded to save on load time)...

Superman Peanut Butter

Marvel Hardees


DC Post Cereal


Batman Zellers

Batman Diet Coke

Batman McDonald's

X-Men Chef Boyardee

Hawkman Baby Ruth
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qtpGlW_t46c
(Also made up for the commercial character, The Human Blur had a commercial.)

Batman OnStar

Nerd Lunch Podcast 61: Super Fight Dome Takeover

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double_impact

While housesitting at The Atomic Geeks Network HQ, we decide to put the Super Fight Dome to good use with our own twist on a Versus episode. CT acts as matchmaker while Pax, Jeeg, and Jeremy from Geek Chunks bring their chosen combatants to battle. It’s a fight card for the ages featuring celebrity chefs, sitcom dads, Jean-Claude Van Damme characters, and more. Our Nerd To-Dos this time around include Christmas planning (already), a run through The X-Files series, and a bunch of Bond including planned outings to see Skyfall.

00Walrus #23: Skyfall

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. . . . . SPOILERS AHEAD FOR SKYFALL. . . . .








SKYFALL
Bond: Daniel Craig - 2 tusks
This was Craigs best performance as Bond yet. He wasn't as brooding and was a little bit more fun. We see a range of emotions. His character has certainly matured since we last saw him building upon what we see him become at the end of Quantum. This is the Bond that everyone has been waiting for and he doesn't disappoint.

Girl: Dame Judi Dench as M - 2 tusks
It's hard to decide who is this movie's Bond girl. Is it Bérénice Marlohe as Sévérine, Naomi Harris as Eve, or even Tonia Sotiropoulou? I think that the "main" Bond girl of any Bond film is the girl who is with Bond in the final action sequence. So by that token, M is the clear winner. She is the clear motivation for Bond's actions both his return to action near the beginning of the film and his continuing determination to protect her throughout the rest of it.

And you know what? Why not declare her this film's Bond girl? She deserves it. After seven (good and bad) films, she has always been solid and enjoyable. Here, she was even more spectacular standing up to the bureaucracy with class and panache. And of course, this is her last Bond film. What a way for her to go.

Gadgets: radio and gun, the Aston Martin from Goldfinger - 2 tusks
Light on gadgets once again and that point even gets called out. I will say that while I love a movie with few gadgets, I wasn't a huge fan of the new Q. It was an interesting idea to go younger with him and with the M and Kincade characters already in this movie, Bond probably didn't need another older character to put him in his place like the Q of old would do.

Opening Theme: "Skyfall" performed by Adele - 2 tusks
I like it. It definitely sounds like a Bond song and evokes a more classic Bond feel than some of the other more recent songs. The graphics were strong once again.

Villain: Javier Bardem as Silva - 2 tusks
Bardem is getting a lot praise for this performance. It's the performance that bumps this up to two tusks because otherwise, this seems a lot like a rehash of Sean Bean's character from GoldenEye with a little of Nolan's Joker thrown into the mix. Of course, by the 23 film, any villain at this point is going to seem derivative so that's not really a fair criticism. Making the villain's goal to get to M was nice and this is really the movie that The World Is Not Enough should have been.

Pre-title Opening Sequence - 2 tusks
Pretty exciting chase scene that really got me into the movie. It sets the stage for what is to come, introduces an important character and ends by seemingly killing off Bond which was pretty surprising. I mean, I knew he wouldn't stay dead but how they would get out of it piqued my curiosity.

Story:
Finally a Bond film that lets viewers take a breath and get to explore the characters. Casino Royale did that to a certain degree, but it still felt very much like a movie that used those scenes just to transition to the next action sequence. One of the big themes in this movie is Bond's age and how that ties with the changing world. The changing world has been touched upon in movies since Brosnan became Bond, but not so well as it was here.

This is also the most we've learned, in a movie, about Bond's past. We receive confirmation that Craig's version of Bond was in the Navy when M writes his obituary. And in the final action sequence we visit Bond's childhood home, Skyfall Lodge. A few tiny insights are given about him as a child and we also learn his parent's names. This also gives confirmation that "James Bond" is indeed his real name and not an MI-6 assigned pseudonym as many have speculated before.

Finally, there were several clever callbacks to previous movies. I'm sure I didn't catch them all. With this being the 50th year of James Bond, they felt the need to pepper in some references to previous films, old and new. The biggest was the Aston Martin from Goldfinger playing a prominent role in the conclusion. These were done well and not as heavy-handed as when they did the same in Die Another Day for the 20th movie. My only concern is that this becomes something they continue to do as two movies from now will be the 25th film.

This is the first of these reviews that I have done only having watched the film once. This is a film that I am looking forward to adding to my collection and viewing once again to really digest it. It's hard for me to rank it right now, but I would put it in my top tier of Bond films though it doesn't rocket to the very top as others have stated during opening weekend.

I guess this is it until Bond 24 comes out. Although I'm sure there will be more in the way of Bond content to come from Nerd Lunch before then.

00Walrus #22: Quantum of Solace

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QUANTUM OF SOLACE
Bond: Daniel Craig - 2 tusks
No huge change from Casino Royale. He's a bit more brooding at the beginning of the movie and it takes the entirety of the film for him to get past the events of the previous film and finally show some levity. He has some great moments though including a couple of really good character building scenes.

Girl: Olga Kurylenko as Camille - 1 tusk
Camille is a carbon copy of previous Bond girls and offers nothing exceptionally new here. I think she was supposed to mirror Bond's quest for revenge, but the lessons she learns don't really translate to him in anyway. She wasn't horrible though, just nothing to write home about.

I did like Gemma Arterton as the "other Bond girl," Strawberry Fields. She had a good dynamic with Bond and it was too bad that she had to go.

Gadgets: Few, if any - 2 tusks
I can't think of any gadgets in this movie. And a gadgetless Bond film is always welcome in my book.

Opening Theme: "Another Way to Die" performed by Jack White and Alicia Keys - 2 tusks
The song itself is off a bit. I hated it when I first heard it, but in tandem with the amazing graphics of the opening, I don't mind it. It's a bit of an acquired taste and winds up being fitting for this movie. Ultimately, the graphics not only save this, but make up for any deficiencies the song may have.

Villain: Mathieu Amalric as Dominic Greene - 1 tusk
Not the worst villain in the franchise, but certainly not the strongest. He is the weakest part of the film (along with his henchman) and the overall film suffers some because of that. He has a weasely charisma that would make him a fine villain in a Die Hard film, but not a Bond film. I also didn't like how he had such insights into Bond's personality.

Henchman: Anatole Taubman as Elvis - 0 tusks
This guy reminded me of Gareth from the UK version of The Office. Except Gareth might make a better henchman. This guy wasn't fleshed out and I barely even want to give him credit for anything.

Pre-title Opening Sequence - 1 tusk
I love a good car chase, but this one was very hard to follow due to quick cuts and super-close shots. Very reminiscent of some of the Bourne movies. This is a problem throughout the movie. Although as it progressed, I rather liked the clever and "artsy" ways that the director dealt with action sequences.

Story:
A lot of people were let down by this film after Casino Royale. I don't think it as great as its predecessor, but I do enjoy it. It's a nice coda of sorts to the previous film and refreshing to see what happens next after a Bond film. These films so often stand alone that the first 20 films only sometimes feel they are a part of the same universe. With this film picking up minutes after Casino Royale ends, we already know we're in for a treat.

The downside here is that the villain is lackluster and that isn't made up for in a strong henchman. In fact, the henchman is even worse. What we see in Casino Royale is Bond settling on what he must become. In Quantum, we see him actually become that. There are two key scenes in this movie. The first is the death of Mathis. With the two of them forgiving each other, Bond is free of the weight of his wrong decision in Casino. Second, the scene at the end where Bond finds Vesper's boyfriend and does not kill him. Bond has moved past doing this for any emotional reason.

As of right now, I don't know what Skyfall has in store for us, but I think it will be stronger because of what we see in Quantum. Bond needed to get past what happened to him in Casino.


00Walrus #21: Casino Royale

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Back in 2008, I watched the first 20 Bond films in one year and gave reviews as I did so. I have not yet done this for the Daniel Craig films and am now rectifying that as we approach the U.S. release of Skyfall.

CASINO ROYALE
Bond: Daniel Craig - 2 tusks
A return to the darker, gruffer Bond after a run by Brosnan. He's very raw in this film and we haven't seen Bond this raw since Dr. No. I like the slow transition of seeing him become a little more sophisticated as the movie goes on. He has the swagger needed for the role. He also commands the torture sequence in spite of his position in that scene.

Girl: Eva Green as Vesper Lynd - 2 tusks
When an element of the plot is Bond wanting to quit and sail the world with the girl, the girl needs to be pretty fantastic. Vesper is one of the most complicated Bond girls we've seen in quite some time. And Eva Green pulls off the complexity brilliantly.

Gadgets: Variety - 2 tusks
This is a back to basics Bond movie and the gadgets in this film are very "real." No laser watches or exploding cufflinks. As a guy who doesn't like the far-fetched gadgets, I loved this.

Opening Theme: "You Know My Name" performed by Chris Cornell - 2 tusks
One of the best theme songs and great opening graphics that played on the playing card motif.

Villain: Le Chiffre - 2 tusks
Upon my recent viewing of this movie, I realized that I really do like Le Chiffre in spite of the fact that he doesn't really do anything. He mostly plays cards and gives odd smirks. We don't see him fight. He carries himself well, but it's hard to really point to a moment and say, "this...this is why I like this guy." Again, the torture scene may be it. But then, why did he let it get to that point? Still, even if I can't explain it, I really liked him so he gets the full score.

Henchman: None
While there was no stand out henchman in the tradition of Odd Job or Jaws, there are a variety of underlings who give Bond some trouble. Sebastien Foucan as Mollaka is probably the one who stands out the most due to the incredible parkour sequence near the beginning of the film. Claudio Santamaria was also a fun opponent during the airport chase scene.

Pre-title Opening Sequence - 2 tusks
I loved that this was black and white for no apparent reason. I liked the non-linear approach to telling this little tale of how Bond got his first two kills and the way it ends with the visual homage to how the past several movies have begun was neat.

Story:
Every horrible Bond movie is followed by a film that snaps the franchise back into place. Casino Royale is that film after the horrid Die Another Day. This is a nice, soft reboot of the storyline (keeping Judi Dench does seem to confuse this point, but I like Dench so I'm glad they kept her). The movie is chock full of action and mystery. We see Bond using his brain to solve mysteries and do spy work. That complements his running through walls and pummeling guys nicely.

It's a little dry in some spots where they are playing cards. But they do a good job keeping the plot moving in spite of that. This does a great job of setting things up for a new direction. I like the introduction of a mysterious organization pulling the strings and the way this movie ends with Bond firmly in control promises great things to come.

Nerd Lunch Podcast 60: Nerd Government

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Downhill from here

It’s a special time of the year in America when campaign ads flood radio and TV, signs fill front yards, and three nerds take to the Internet to draft fictional governments made up of characters from pop culture. We couldn’t do worse with Starfleet captains, Robocop, the Dukes of Hazzard, or characters from Teen Wolf. Or could we? Find out by casting your vote for Nerd Lunch today! In this week’s Nerd To-Dos, we discuss The Last Castle, Stephen King’s 11/23/63, and Freaks and Geeks.

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