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May 28, 2009

TOS Rewind #?: "Star Trek"

I have a bonus podcast up where we talk about the new Star Trek feature film.

I got Eric, Rob, and Lee in on the action.

Download the podcast here.

As always, if you have any questions/comments, leave a note and maybe we'll respond on our next session.

"Scientifically engineered and all that crap."

I'm really falling down on the job this week, but I was out in SD with the "Knowles Family Band, " so there! :-)

This stuff's been out a few days already, but let's take a look at it anyway.

Click here for the lot.

Children of Men (2006) New on BD.

The Closer: Season 4

Designing Women: Season 1

Falling Down: Deluxe Edition Also on BD.

Gunsmoke: Season 3: Vol. 2

Land of the Lost: Complete Series Complete with lunch box...

New in Town (2009) Also on BD.

May 18, 2009

"Flaming Death is a huge hit!"

Here's the bunch for this week. As usual, clicking here will get you the whole list (even the ones I didn't find worthy of mentioning) with prices.

3 Days of the Condor (1975) New to BD this week. DVD Savant has a review here.

8 Simple Rules: Season 2

24: Season 7 Also on BD. I keep wondering whether or not to give this show a try. It sounds potentially good, but the whole glorification of torture thing gives me pause...

A Bug's Life (1998) New to BD.

Driven to Kill (2009) Also on BD.

Friday Night Lights: Season 3

The Guild The web sitcom gets a DVD release through Amazon; seasons 1 and 2.

Man Hunt (1941)

Paul Blart: Mall Cop (2009) Also on BD.

Peyton Place: Season 1: Part 1 (TV Series, 1964, not about a Great Dane!)

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (Skynet Edition) Hard to believe (or maybe not), this is already the second time this movie has been released on BD.

Valkyrie (2008) Also on BD. It sounds like everyone in this film was pretty good, except its star...

May 11, 2009

"Down with General Grant! Hurrah for General... What's his name? Lee!"

Wow, I can't believe the Summer movie season is already underway. The new Star Trek film, which I liked quite a bit, made over $70 million over the weekend. It's been a long time since something with the name Star Trek was considered a blockbuster. I'll have some thoughts on the movie itself sometime soon and Eric, Rob, and I will be doing an epic podcast on the new movie. I'm sure you won't want to miss it....right? :-)

So, let's get into this week's new releases:

B.T.K. (2008)

The Dana Carvey Show: Season 1

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966) New on BD.

Passengers (2008) Also on BD.

Penn & Teller: Bullshit!: Season 6

Personal Effects (2009)

Plague Town (2008) Also on BD.

Star Trek: Original Motion Picture Collection The first six Trek films come to BD in this box set. Besides being the first time any of the films has appeared on HD disc, this set will be the first time that Star Trek VI has appeared on any video format in its original theatrical version. The first film is also being released in its theatrical version. Previously, the only way to see it in widescreen was on LD. The film was touched up with CG and re-edited in 2001. This version was only rendered in standard definition, so until Paramount funds more work on the "Directors Version," it'll be MIA on BD. It sounds like they did a lot of work on the second film, which is appropriate. If you don't want to own all six films, they also have a "trilogy" set containing "Khan" through "Voyage Home." I'll probably buy the whole thing since I want the first and sixth films. I can always hide the disc for V.

Taken (2008) Also on BD.

Two and a Half Men: Season 5 Uh, yeah...

Wise Blood (1979)

May 10, 2009

TOS Rewind #27: "Operation -- Annihilate!"

We reach the end of Season 1 with Operation -- Annihilate! (04/13/1967)

I was enjoying a cold Sam Adams (Bawston Laaaaager!) while we watched this one.

We did a podcast, a much shorter one than last time. Download the podcast here.

When I saw that this was the Season 1 finale, I thought it was a bit odd. Not so much. True, Trek was never produced with modern TV sensibilities like season openers and such and many current fans saw them out of order in syndication or on video. The episode does work all right though as it has a relatively positive outcome after the two previous ones which were pretty bleak.

We always jokingly referred to this one as "The Flying Pancake Episode." I should probably now call it "The Flying Bloody Omelet Episode." Go watch it and tell me if I'm off here!

We had a really good chat about this one on the podcast. The big thing that bothered Eric was the bogus science surrounding the way they kill the creatures. I'm sure he'll mention this, but it's pretty silly. However, to paraphrase my friend Andy, it may seem odd to go after this and not be bothered much by the other tech stuff like warp drive and transporters. I guess you have to pick and choose when to suspend your disbelief here. It does seem like they could have worked out this particular tech issue a bit better since they work conventional radiation/light into the plot. Writer laziness perhaps.

OK, so maybe the science is laughable and the creatures not nearly as creepy as when I saw it growing up, but it does have good Kirk/Spock/McCoy character goodness. The scenes after Spock is blinded are great. The bit where Spock tries to seize the bridge is classic: "Must take the ship!" This line has amusing, if relevant meaning as a phrase I use to get off my ass and do something. Maybe a clever T-shirt is in order...

Other stuff of note:

We meet Kirk's brother, who's dead by the time we see him, plus his wife/kid. I realize they did this to drive home the menace of the alien creatures, but it seems like a waste of a potential character to off him so casually. These last two episodes were pretty bad for our Dear Captain. Last time he's forced to let his true love get hit by a truck and now his brother is offed by some plastic bloody omelets. Sucky.

Nimoy does a credible job playing Spock being subjected to extreme pain; the inner struggle seems on the level. This is really a Spock showcase episode.

The plot of this one has obvious roots in earlier sci fi, which Eric will certainly go into. It also has a fun cold war Body Snatchers-esque paranoia, even if it's a bit undeveloped.

The locations they use for the planetside scenes remind me of 1960s college campus architecture: lots of tall skinny buildings with narrow windows. Fill all the open areas with concrete and you're there. But hey, what were they going to do?

They finally get Transporter Room security down in this one. You may recall that in the last two episodes, the pot-smoking red dudes manning the controls were easily overcome by Lazarus and McCoy. Well not this time! Now the dude is augmented by Scotty who remembers to pack heat, thus preventing Spock's escape. Sure, maybe he was there to get a hit from Mr. Leslie, but he was ready for action. I can just imaging Scotty pointing the phaser at Spock while saying, "This aggression will not stand, Laddie."

So all in all, a pretty good one with shaky science and some fun character interaction. The episode is very well paced, with appropriate suspense in the right parts. A solid, if unspectacular first season ender.


And Sir Eric's take:

As I write this, I am about five hours from going to see the new Star Trek movie, which gives me a delicious sense of excitement and anticipation that I rarely feel these days. Everything I’ve heard and read makes it sound like J.J. Abrams has done the impossible—he has successfully reinvented and relaunched Star Trek. This is especially apropos, since the premiere of the “reboot” movie very nearly coincides with the fortieth anniversary of the end of the original Star Trek series. And with this review, we’ve also reached the end of the first season of classic Trek.

To be honest, Roddenberry should’ve ended the first season with “City on the Edge of Forever” instead of “Operation Annihilate.” We discuss this, along with many other issues, in our podcast, so I won’t rehash my entire rant here. In short, “Operation Annihilate” isn’t a bad episode, but the glaring errors in the science make it very hard for me to watch. What’s worse is that the errors are so basic that even a barely competent science advisor would have caught them immediately—ultraviolet radiation CANNOT pass through most solid materials, most notably glass, wood, steel, or concrete!

My other gripe is that this episode plagiarizes both Robert A. Heinlein’s 1951 novel “The Puppet Masters” and the 1956 film “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.” Admittedly, it is Star Trek’s take on the Cold War paranoia themes presented there, but Roddenberry shouldn’t have “borrowed” so heavily and blatantly.

I don’t, however, want to end my reviews of the first season episodes on a sour note, so I will add that there are some really nice character moments in this episode, particularly between Kirk, Spock, and McCoy. It demonstrates how far the series progressed in the first season—the cast and crew have have hit their stride, and it presages a great second season.

Next time: “Amok time”

May 7, 2009

Andy does a great website for Dave Stafford, Architect Extraordinaire!

This is just a supplemental post for my buddy Andy who did a nice job on Dave Stafford's new website. It's simple, has some good samples of his work, and looks classy. It also delivers the essential information easily, which is something I can't say for some business sites. You can check out Dave's website here.

From the photos, it appears that Dave did the very cool bandshell design at Rapid City's Memorial Park.

Dave has recently started a new business, based in Rapid City, SD. As you'd expect, he does the architecture thing, but also works in sustainable design. Anyone know what the heck adaptive reuse really means? I'll have to ask him sometime. Dave also does design/build, which I am a bit familiar with here at the U. Sir Stafford apparently does work in historic preservation. It'd be interesting to hear his opinion on some of the unrestored buildings here on campus, no doubt. Project management is also apparently something he does in his new gig. I wish Dave all the best of luck in his new venture. He had some very good advice when we installed the door on the side of our garage (the dog yard access portal) which was helpful. If I ever have any real questions, I'm sure he'd be the guy to ask. Who knows, maybe I'll win the lottery and be able to hire Dave Stafford's services for a sweet Black Hills Summer home. Yeah, right! Again, the website, davestaffordarchitecture.com , is pretty sweet.

May 4, 2009

"We're carnivores. When the pilgrims landed, first thing they did was eat a few Indians."

For better or worse, I'm going to try and catch the new Star Trek film this weekend. Definitely looking forward to it, good or bad. AND, another TOS entry is coming soon, complete with shorter podcast!

But for now, we have some new releases to sort out.

Boston Legal: Season 5

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button Also on BD.

Gene Roddenberry's Earth: Final Conflict: Season 1

Incendiary Also on BD.

Last Chance Harvey (2008) Also on BD.

Lipstick Jungle: Season 2

Roxanne (1987) I remember liking this one--nearly twenty years ago when I last saw it. I wonder how it holds up...this is the first BD release for this one.

Smother (2008)


Stacie's getting a Dell. Yes, soon the great and powerful Dell Dude will be bringing a shiny new PC to our house, much like a silicon Santa dropping a large lead box down our chimney.

Shocked? I wouldn't be surprised. I've been a Mac evangelist for a long time, often convincing family/friends to buy Macs. I still do. Keep in mind that I still own Macs and am even fortunate enough to use one at work. However, they don't really make a Mac that's a reasonable proposition for Stacie.

So what's her problem, anyway? iMacs and Macbooks are good enough for many folks, what's the deal? Stacie, as you probably know, is an avid World of Warcraft player. True, this game doesn't tax a PC like many 3d games do, but it certainly performs better with a modern system with a discreet graphics card. Her current iMac has such a configuration. Now, it overheats under the strain of running the game at full tilt plus en extra display. Clearly she needs to do something before the logic board melts. Today, if you want a graphics card on an iMac, you have to buy to more expensive ($1700 and up) 24" to even get that as an option. Her old one had this as an option on the more middle of the road 20" mac. So it's either a near-$2k iMac or a Mac Pro workstation/tower (what I use). Um, not really in the cards right now. The lower end iMacs and Mac Mini just don't cut it for most games. Clearly, Stacie would be an ideal customer for the mythical midrange Mac Tower. Probably something in between a Mac Pro and an iMac. Apple doesn't seem all that interested in offering such a thing, so that left us in PCville. Plus, I've grown accustomed to having a system that doesn't require the replacement of the display every time I want to upgrade the CPU.

We were able to get a Dell desktop with the newer/fast Intel Core i7 processor, 6 gb of RAM, and the same video card that's in the $2k iMac. All for about a grand. And it'll be faster, plus she can add a faster video card later if she wants something better. The obvious downside is that she'll be running Windows. This isn't as big a deal for her. On her home computer, she mainly plays WoW, surfs the web, and does Office stuff. Seems like Windows will do the job for her, though she'd still rather be on the Mac OS. I, on the other hand, play WoW, use the Web, and do audio/video editing, along with some photo stuff. The Mac software serves me very well there and I'm still quite happy with my giant Mac tower. Sure, it's more Mac than I need, but until Apple decides to cater to people like me, I'm either buying one of these or leaving the Mac fold.

The Dell hasn't arrived yet, but it'll be interesting to see how it goes. I'll report back and let y'all know how Stacie's liking it.