Monday, August 26, 2013

Bye Bye Ballmer

Signing off from Seattle
Steve Ballmer, current CEO of Microsoft, has recently announced his retirement and will be winding down his tenure this year. When this finally happens sometime in the next twelve months, the holy trinity of Seattle's tech-lords will witness the loss of its last remaining member and the end of a hugely important geek-era. While the company was co-founded by computer dorks Bill Gates and Paul Allen in 1975, fellow Harvardian and apparent arithmetic genius Steve Ballmer (he scored 800 on the math portion of his SAT and beat Gates's score on an exam given by the Mathematical Association of America) joined his old collegiate buddies at the company in 1980 where his business acumen and wacky, non-tech attitude helped rocket the company to its now legendary status and, of course, its mountains and mountains of riches. Allen left Microsoft back in 2000 and Gates later in 2008, leaving the door open for Ballmer to step in as CEO of the company. However almost since the day he took over, industry pundits have been regularly casting doubts on his ability to lead the company into a new world and new generation that's more interested in tablets and set-top boxes than notebooks and desktop boxes. While the rumors are currently running rampant about whether or not Steve's announcement was voluntary or if he was ousted by the board, one thing's for sure, there's never been a tech-industry magnate quite like him before, and I doubt that there ever will be again.

A rare shot of the uber-nerd triumvirate (from left): Steve Ballmer, Bill Gates and Paul Allen


Saturday, August 17, 2013

Mystery Science Theater Forever!

From left: Gypsy, Crow, Joel and Tom
Cable! Huh! Yeah! What's it good for? Absolutely nothing! Considering the rapidly rising costs associated with cable and satellite TV and the fact that high-speed internet is now a staple service in most American homes, it's no wonder people all across this great nation are cutting the cord, so to speak. The web's got the networks beat in terms of accessibility, cost and sheer amount of video content, and now there's one more reason to unhook that cable box once and for all. I present to you Club-MST3K, the site that let's you watch just about every single episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 ever made, even the original KTMA local cable channel episodes! If you're a fan, you already know the story. If not, here's a quick lesson: dude and his robots are stranded in space and are forced by mad scientists to watch old B-movies and make fun of them. If you want a history lesson, go HERE. If you just want to jump right into the videos and relive those wacky moments with Joel/Mike and the bots, click the big bold link.



Friday, August 16, 2013

Woz Speaks at KansasFest 2013

Mt.Dew! (photo courtesy of nicholsphotography)

For you geeks that don't already know, KansasFest is an annual get-together for Apple II enthusiasts held at Rockhurst University in Kansas City, Missouri, and from what I understand, it's a bit like Comicon or GenCon albeit with a slightly (but not much) different fan base. Having been founded way back in 1989 the conference has played host to various notable tech-industry guest-speakers ranging from original Apple employees to early 8-bit software developers to magazine publishers. Well this year the attendees (of which I was not one - booo!) got an extra-special super-treat in the form of actual real-life inventor of the Apple II, Mr. Steve "Fucking" Wozniak, better known as Woz. Woz, along with that other Steve, co-founded Apple Computer in 1976, made a crap-ton of cash and then went on to become a legend in the history of personal computing and technology. You want to know more? Google it. Graciously, the folks at OpenApple have posted both the entire interview with Woz in audio format, and a 10-minute video excerpt on YouTube for the enjoyment of the world's masses. So go masses, go enjoy!!




Friday, August 9, 2013

G-Force! Transmute!

The original Science Ninja Team Gatchaman
1972 was an epic year. Pink Floyd was in the middle of recording their magnum opus, Dark Side of the Moon,  Nixon began U.S. diplomatic relations with China and signed the ABMT just two years before his infamous ousting, and man would set foot on the moon for the last time in history. Plus I was born, so, you know, pretty epic.

At the same time, however, far off in the exotic and mysterious land of Japan, a self-taught manga artist named Tatsuo Yoshida, who had already experienced success with his auto racing series, Mach Go Go Go (a.k.a. Speed Racer), was busy creating a new animated science fiction show called Science Ninja Team Gatchaman. The premise of this series was that an ancient, super-advanced alien race from another world was hell-bent on harvesting the Earth for its natural resources and, of course, only a specially-trained team of five teenaged science-ninjas dressed as space-birds could protect the planet from the evil menace known as Galactor. If that wasn't weird enough, the series' main antagonist, and ever-present pain in the ninja-team's ass, was a shape-shifting mutant hermaphrodite named Berg Katse, who could change genders at will in order to fool his/her/its enemies. Each member of the five-man ninja-team had a unique hero-identity, weapon, costume and skills and could join together with the others to further increase their super-powers. For the inevitable giant mecha battles that would end almost every episode, the youngsters had at their disposal a huge space/air/water ship, called the Phoenix, which not only boasted an impressive arsenal of weaponry, but also housed each team member's personal transport as well. The space-bird show was a huge success in Japan, spawning two sequels and effectively setting the template for future Japanese action series like Voltron and Super Sentai (a.k.a. the Power Rangers). But that was just the beginning.

In 1978, American producer Sandy Frank, who fans of MST3000 may recognize as the importer of many Japanese B-films, saw the potential of re-marketing the science fiction series to a U.S. audience in the wake of the massive Star Wars space-renaissance happening at the time. After stripping the show of whatever violence, profanity and sexual references would have been deemed inappropriate in the States, Frank's production company re-edited and re-dubbed the show to be more kid-friendly eventually creating what every American boy born between 1968 and 1974 would come to know as Battle of the Planets, which became a veritable primer on Japanese anime style for an entire generation of geeks-to-be. Frank's concept of re-editing Science Ninja Team Gatchaman into a wholly new show was so successful, that it was repeated two more times resulting in G-Force: Guardians of Space in 1986 and Eagle Riders in 1996.

Each of these adaptations had their merits, but none of them held true to Tatsuo Yoshida's original vision, and eventually, the American grown-ups who had cut their teeth on the watered-down children's versions were clamoring for a return to the classic tale that had spawned the "five-man superhero team" genre so many years ago.  Eventually, the entire uncut series (of 105 episodes) was released on DVD while a moderately successful Japanese-produced 3-episode animated reboot of the series went direct-to-video in 1994. The fans ate all of this up, and the buzz for more Gatchaman kept building while the first rumors of a live action version began to surface. Several years (and at least one unsuccessful attempt) later, I am ecstatic to announce that the first trailers for the first live-action Gatchaman film have arrived. The movie is to be released in Japan on August 24th, but we will have to wait and see what its availability will be outside of the country. For now, you can at least watch the trailer here on RetroGeeker and/or check out the official site by clicking the link below. Enjoy!

Gatchaman 2013



Monday, August 5, 2013

12th Doctor Who Announced

Peter Capaldi will be taking over for fan-favorite, Matt Smith, as the 12th incarnation of Doctor Who

After weeks of speculation as to who would be taking over the role of the Doctor on BBC's long-running scifi series, it was announced that veteran Scottish actor, Peter Capaldi, will be handed the keys to the TARDIS. The reveal was made with much fanfare on August 4, 2013 and there's a great clip on YouTube of Mr. Capaldi's first introduction to the world as the titular character, however due to the sticky web of international copyright laws, I am not allowed to embed it here, so you'll just have to hit the jump to see the video. Sorry.

One interesting side note, I noticed while doing research on Capaldi that he is featured in the new zombie flick, World War Z, as a doctor for the World Health Organization. His character is listed as "W.H.O. Doctor." Coincidence?

Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Roxbury Geeks

Officially sanctioned display of levity and whimsy.
Remember those endlessly-recurring "Roxbury Brothers" sketches that used to plague that once great showbiz behemoth called Saturday Night Live?  The now infamous sketches were created by super-duper-movie-star Will Ferrell and creepy-as-shit comedian Chris Kattan and were passably funny at first, and then they got less funny, and then they got way, way less funny and kind of predictable, at which point they thought it would be a good idea to make a movie. Well, here's a short Microsoft spoof from that era featuring none other than top dogs Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer standing in for the regular SNL duo. Apparently this is what Microsoftees did to let off steam and express their wacky and creative sides at conferences back in the late 90s. Sadly, due to a total lack of YouTube, little retro video gems like this one never really got a chance to go viral back when they first appeared. However thanks to some bitchin' software technologies like RealVideo, they did manage to cause a bit of a rash and some light itching. Enjoy!


Roxbury guys (What is Love?) [HQ] from Viktoras Štanga on Vimeo.