Category Archives: geek culture

Flashback: Wild world of the Internet!

IBM 1994 internet warning

I’m not sure if this is real, but I saw it surface this weekend and thought it was too amusing to pass up.

It’s supposedly some kind of disclaimer/warning/head’s up/whatever issued in 1994 by IBM for people about to get online for the first time.

Complete with a warning about language or pictures – even some of an adult nature!

Yikes! Ma, hand me the modem!

MMMS: I was a member

MMMS house ad

Remember the Merry Marvel Marching Society?

In the 1960s, it wasn’t enough that Marvel’s comics were the coolest to read. Marvel made sure you felt like you were part of the Marvel comics scene with the Merry Marvel Marching Society.

Created by editor Stan Lee and publisher Martin Goodman in 1964, the MMMS was a fan club for Marvel comics, basically.

For your dollar, you received a membership card, a scratch pad, sticker, a large pinback button and a 33-and-a-third record of the MMMS song sung by (allegedly) Marvel bullpen types.

I wonder how many of us joined? And how many still have their MMMS gear? (I still have my button. Somewhere.)

Welcome to the low-rent universe

war-of-the-colossal-beast

It’s news to no one that shared universes are the big thing in movies right now

Marvel began building its shared cinematic universe in 2008 with “Iron Man” and has announced plans to continue it through at least 2020. Not to mention Marvel’s TV entries in that shared universe, like “Agents of SHIELD,” “Agent Carter” and “Daredevil,” the latter debuting on Netflix in April as the first in a series of “street-level” hero shows that will culminate in a “Defenders” series.

Of course, DC/Warner Bros. are trying to get their superhero universe going; Sony wants a “Spider-Man” universe but I’ll believe it when I see it.

And Universal has announced a shared universe of remakes of its 1930s and 1940s monster films featuring Frankenstein, Dracula and other creatures. I’m still pondering that one for another entry here.

So the other day, a movie company that I’ve never heard of, Cinedigm, announced plans to create, of all things, a shared movie universe. But using what classic cinematic tales?

The 1950s and 1960s exploitation movies of American International Pictures.

Specifically, 10 films: “Girls in Prison,” “Viking Women and The Sea Serpent,” “The Brain Eaters,” “She-Creature,” “Teenage Caveman,” “Reform School Girl,” “The Undead,” “War of the Colossal Beast,” “The Cool and the Crazy” and “The Day the World Ended.”

Strangely enough, I like this idea.

Marvel has this kind of thing perfected, down to an art and a science. I’m not sure DC’s superheroes will ever really come together on the big screen because of, I believe, a wrong-headed approach that seems more like Warner Bros. is ashamed of comic books.

But the AIP films, some of which were originally directed by low-budget auteur Roger Corman?

That’s genius.

Not because the company says it intends to shoot all 10 movies back-to-back from recently-completed scripts. Not because remaking these old AIP classics for cable TV a while back worked so well.

Because these dimly-remembered movies are perfect fodder for the remake machine.

Somebody once said that if you were going to remake a movie, don’t remake a classic. How could a remake of “Psycho” possibly work? (It didn’t.)

But with the AIP flicks, most people won’t be comparing them and, unless the remakes are horrible, they won’t be comparing them unfavorably.

And the idea of a universe shared by the monstrous, mutated “Colossal Beast” and the juvenile delinquents of “The Cool and the Crazy?” How can that possibly work?

The producers say the movies will share “a recurring cast of antiheroes, monsters and bad girls.” I can’t say that’s a bad idea and I base that on what Marvel has done with its movies.

Really, consider how improbable it might have looked, 10 years ago, to propose a shared universe that would include a bone-crunching political thriller, a good-natured space opera, a Nordic fantasy world and a rampaging monster movie. Yet “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” “Guardians of the Galaxy,” the “Thor” movies and the Hulk’s appearances all worked.

Who’s to say those juvenile delinquents won’t end up fighting alien invaders to big box-office returns?

Stranger things have happened.

Classic TV: ‘Community: Advanced Dungeons and Dragons’

abed community dungeons dragons

Further proof the geeks have inherited the Earth: “Advanced Dungeons and Dragons,” a typically wonderful second-season episode of “Community,” which originally aired in 2011.

Other than a few melodramatic references in old TV movies, I’m not sure the role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons has ever had the broad awareness it has now, with references – sometimes uncomplimentary – on a variety of shows on the air in recent years.

There was almost certainly no D&D story on TV as great, as true-to-life and as funny as this “Community” episode, though.

community advanced dungeons dragons

In “Advanced Dungeons and Dragons,” the Greendale study group plays D&D to befriend Neil, a fellow student with the less-than-charitable nickname “Fat Neil.” The study group, with a very shaky sense of the game, begins to play only to be interrupted by Pierce (Chevy Chase), the usually-unlikable group member. Pierce is outraged that he’s been excluded and forces his way into the game.

What the gang doesn’t suspect, however, is that Pierce has a plan.

The episode has genuine heart, but it’s also one of the funniest entries in the show. From Abed’s strict adherence to his role of Dungeon Master to Annie’s mimed performance as Hector the Well-Endowed to the relish of Pierce’s revenge … oh my gosh, so much goodness.

chang community dungeons dragons

Shirley’s reaction to Chang’s “dark elf” makeup: “So we’re just going to ignore this hate crime?” Priceless.

Aww! Spidey just wants to play with the Avengers

Mauricio-Abril-Spidey-avengers

Love this.

Artist Mauricio Abril imagines just how much Spider-Man wants to play with his colleagues the Avengers.

Alas, Marvel sold the rights to Sony and Spidey is in his own playground.

Maybe someday.

In the meantime, check out Abril’s wonderful art.