Saturday, January 25, 2014

Star Trek Continues

Star Trek: The Re-Reboot

Who needs big budget reboots when you've got fans? While J.J. Abrams' 2009 reboot of the original Star Trek breathed new life into this venerable 60s television property, fan remakes, created with arguably more authenticity and unquestionably more love, have have been circulating the internet for years now. For hardcore Trekkers and casual fans alike, these independent remakes, such as Starship Exeter and Star Trek: New Voyages (later renamed Star Trek: Phase II), have provided new windows into creator Gene Roddenberry's futuristic world, which franchise-owner, Paramount Studios, would never consider producing due to their potentially limited appeal. The more successful of these fan-made series nearly always hark back to the original 1960s incarnation of the show, closely mimicking its style by employing more subtle special effects and exploring social, political and philosophical themes.

The latest entry into this sci-fi sub-genre is titled Star Trek Continues, an off-Hollywood but fairly professional attempt to continue the original five-year mission of the starship Enterprise and her loyal crew. Featuring one of James Doohan's own sons, Christopher, reprising his father's role as Scotty, the ship's hard-drinking, fist-throwing engineer, Star Trek Continues does an admirable job of emulating the Crayola-color lighting, the oddball camera angles and the quirky TV dialogue of those late-1960s Desilu productions and even manages to make you forget you're watching a fan-flick, most of the time. Although I'd say the casting could use some tweaking, and some of the acting is, well, bad, the impressive attention to detail and the bonus inclusion of original series guest star, Michael Forest, who played Apollo in the episode Who Mourns for Adonais?, makes the whole affair a worthy homage to an American science fiction classic. Check the video below for a look at the very first episode, Pilgrim of Eternity -- and to you mega-geeks out there, make sure to watch (and listen) for some quick but notable cameos by some space-opera royalty including Marina Sirtis from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Go ahead, watch it. What else you doing on a cold-ass Saturday afternoon?


Star Trek Continues E01 "Pilgrim of Eternity" from Star Trek Continues on Vimeo.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Happy Birthday Mac!

It's the Mac's 30th birthday today and in true Apple style, I'm celebrating minimalistically. Now watch this video from 1986's Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, which features my favorite on-screen appearance by today's birthday-box, second only to that scene from Zoolander where Wilson throws the iMac over the balcony. Here's to another 30 years.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

1984 Revisited

Not as confusing as Prometheus
On January 22nd, 1984, Apple Computer ran, what was at the time, the most expensive 1-minute television commercial ever produced, titled "1984." The $900,000 ad, directed by Ridley Scott, was shown only once during the third quarter of Super Bowl XVIII and it was immediately recognized as something special and unique, winning several awards and helping to kickstart the tradition of producing elaborate, over-the-top commercials for the Super Bowl. Apple's purpose behind the ad was to whip up enthusiasm for the company's next big product at the time, the Macintosh. As you may or may not know, the Macintosh computer introduced the concepts of the mouse and icon-driven computing environments in 1984 to a market who had been, up until then, operating their computers by typing in cryptic codes and commands via keyboard. After shaking up the advertising world with its innovative commercial, Apple successfully shook up the computer world with the introduction of its radical new machine two days later on January 24th, 1984.

Do you prefer brand X over brand Y?

Yesterday was the 30th anniversary of the commercial's original public broadcast and tomorrow will be the 30th anniversary of the introduction of Macintosh itself. When you get a chance, take a minute or two to watch Apple's little micro-epic and consider how much our world has changed in the years between 1984 and 2014. Thirty years may seem like a long time, but as the great philosopher, Ferris Bueller once said: life moves pretty fast, if you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Abbey Road: Live!

Huh, I guess Paul IS dead.
Hey kids, what could be more retro than the legendary Beatles? Well for the purposes of today's post, nothing! For those of you who don't already know, the Beatles were a very popular rock band back in the 60s who pioneered, among other things, writing their own songs, playing in sports stadiums, and creating concept albums. The band officially broke up in 1970 shortly after the release of their final album, Abbey Road, which was named after the studio in which it was recorded, which itself was named after the street on which it was located. The cover of the LP featured the four members of the group, walking across Abbey Road on a sunny London day. So iconic was this classic rock and roll image that it's now been parodied and homaged dozens if not hundreds of times by the likes of the Simpsons, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and even former Beatles bass-player, Paul McCartney himself. Now, thanks to the magic of the information superhighway, we can pay a visit to this legendary locale any time we like, day or night. Fancy a peek at what those crazy Britons are doing right now on ol' Abbey Road? Click the link below to check it out for yourself via the Abbey Road Crossing Cam, courtesy of Abbey Road Studios. Be warned, you'll need Flash to view the page. Flash, that's almost retro, right?


Saturday, January 18, 2014

Future Retrospect

Thomas Watson of IBM: Not as visionary as one might think.

Technology. You're soaking in it.

It wasn't that long ago that you had to sit down at a computer desk to access the internet, or actually go to the phone to get a pizza delivered. Well flash forward a few years later and here we are, posting video rants on YouTube and ordering sandwiches from Jimmy Johns all while dropping a deuce in the bathroom. Thank you smartphone!

Yes, we modernaires rarely get blindsided by new technology anymore; in fact we pretty much expect that everything new and cool that was invented this year will be completely obsolete by the next.  But humanity wasn't always so forward-thinking and people actually used to possess an arguably healthy skepticism regarding new-fangled devices and concepts. This, hilariously, led to even our best and brightest minds making wildly inaccurate predictions about the future which now seem completely ridiculous. As they say, hindsight is something something so let's take a peek at a few of these short-sighted quotes regarding the future of modern technology.

On Computers:

"Where a calculator on the ENIAC is equipped with 18,000 vacuum tubes and weighs 30 tons, computers in the future may have only 1,000 vacuum tubes and weigh only 1.5 tons." -- Popular Mechanics, 1949

"But it good for?" -- Engineer at the Advanced Computing Systems Division of IBM, 1968, commenting on the microchip.

"I think there is a world market for maybe five computers." -- Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943.

"There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home." -- Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977.

On Phones, Radio, Television and Film:

"This 'telephone' has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us." -- Western Union internal memo, 1876.

"The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular?" -- David Sarnoff's associates in response to his urgings for investment in the radio in the 1920s

"While theoretically and technically television may be feasible, commercially and financially it is an impossibility." -- Lee DeForest, inventor.

"Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?" -- H. M. Warner, Warner Brothers, 1927.

"Radio has no future. Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible. X-rays will prove to be a hoax." -- William Thomson, Lord Kelvin, British scientist, 1899.

On the Rest:

"Drill for oil? You mean drill into the ground to try and find oil? You're crazy." -- Workers whom Edwin L. Drake tried to enlist to his project to drill for oil in 1859.

"We don't like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out." -- Decca Recording Co. rejecting the Beatles, 1962.

"Airplanes are interesting toys but of no military value." -- Marechal Ferdinand Foch, Professor of Strategy, Ecole Superieure de Guerre.

"There is not the slightest indication that nuclear energy will ever be obtainable. It would mean that the atom would have to be shattered at will." -- Albert Einstein, 1932.

Quotes courtesy of

Friday, January 17, 2014

Lost: The Sitcom

Believe it or not, this year (2014) will mark the 10th anniversary of the hugely influential and often divisive supernatural television drama, Lost. Yup, it's been a decade since viewers first witnessed all those pretty young people crash their Boeing 747 onto the beautiful beaches of Hawaii, um,  I mean a strange and mysterious island somewhere in the South Pacific. But what if that island hadn't been so strange and mysterious? What if our beloved Losties were able to just kick back and enjoy an extended vacation in that sun-drenched paradise without the threat of polar bears or magical smoke monsters? Well, it may have looked something like this:

Monday, January 13, 2014

Cassettes Come Back

Courtesy of stealing from the internet.

You gotta love hipsters if only because they do nothing without being ironic. They drink the worst beer on the planet, they wear t-shirts from bands they don't listen to, they love dorky outdated glasses that no one in their right mind should find appealing (even after drinking several of those crappy beers) -- and now these hipper-than-thous have somehow managed to bring back…wait for it...the compact audio cassette, known the world over for having the lowest fidelity and reliability of just about any audio format invented since the 1960s. Yikes. Actual real-life bands have even started releasing their albums on this completely outdated format. Granted, the appreciation of any sort of retro technology makes me smile inside, but I could do without the irony. Check out this video for a look at this recent phenomenon. God help us if those hipsters discover VHS, God help us all.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Stalking E.T.

Do not attempt this at home.
By the early 1980s, Steven Spielberg was already becoming a household name with movies like Jaws, Close Encounters and Raiders of the Lost Ark firmly tucked under his director's belt. But 1982 would turn out to be the year ol' Steve would finally earn his place amongst the most successful movie makers of the 20th century with the release of E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, a sci-fi-esque tale about a boy and his xenobiological buddy from outer space. While Spielberg's pal, George Lucas (of Star Wars fame) had already taught Hollywood how to make tons of cash by filming plastic models, blue screens and puppets, the box office earnings of Steven's E.T. proved that in the end, all they really needed was the puppets. Even without the fantastic space battles and over-the-top effects, E.T. managed to capture the imaginations of 80s moviegoers by expertly pulling their heart-strings in a totally non-stupid way and in doing so introduced them to the then-budding genre of the "feel-good-movie," something that pretty much only Disney had dabbled with up to that point.

Unlike Star Wars, the story of E.T. is not set in a galaxy far, far away and in fact takes place entirely on our own planet, which may help explain the film's more universal appeal. Instead of trying to digest a menagerie of alien peoples and bizarre locales, viewers quickly embraced the story of a single, out-of-place alien set against the backdrop of a comfortably familiar suburban America. The realistic accessibility of the film's settings, coupled with the emotional artillery of Spielberg's vision, is why, I believe, so many stalkers fans have sought these locations out, in hopes of reconnecting with their childhood memories and feelings, basically the same reason I write this blog.

Well if you were one of those kids whose favorite candy suddenly became Reese's Pieces because of this adorable little puppet invader alien, then check out this video by amateur filmmaker, Herve Attia. In it, he nicely dovetails contemporary photos of the various E.T. filming locations into original scenes from the film and surprisingly, many of the areas he visited haven't changed much in the last 30 years. The video is very well done and worth a look, especially if you're a fan. But if you're not, then go visit or something and read about bacon, which in fact, is not really that geeky no matter what they claim.