Saturday, May 10, 2014

Geek TV: The 4400!

Concept: Four thousand, four hundred people, who'd vanished mysteriously over a period of years, all suddenly reappear near Mount Rainier, Washington, not having aged at all. As time goes on, many of these people (referred to as “The 4400”) start displaying special powers and abilities. Some people fear them, others revere them and want to be like them.

Total Episodes: 44

Original Air Dates: July 11, 2004 – September 16, 2007

Original Network: USA


Tom Baldwin (Joel Gretsch): A former FBI agent, Baldwin is currently an NTAC (National Threat Assessment Command) agent, which is in charge of dealing with the return of the 4400. His partner is Diana Skouris. He has a son, Kyle Baldwin, and his nephew is Shawn Farrell, one of the 4400. Tom is the first who discovers his nephew's ability to heal. At the beginning of the series, his son has been in a coma (which he'd gone into at the same time Shawn disappeared; they were together when Shawn was abducted), which Shawn helps bring him out of. Tom is very protective of his son, which causes him to difficulties as an NTAC agent. This is contrasted by the problems being an NTAC agent cause him, often forcing him to violate his own personal principles. He discovers that the 4400 weren't kidnapped by aliens, but by Earth's own future, to avert a great catastrophe, and Tom is supposed to help them. In the second season, he becomes involved with one of the 4400, Alana Mareva, whose own ability was used to give them the experience of a multi-year relationship and marriage in the space of a few seconds (harder to explain in a short sentence than it is to see in the episode, I know!). In the third season of the show, a terrorist 4400 faction called the Nova Group target Tom, impersonating him to kill a captured Nova member. This same season sees Maia Skouris (Diana's adopted daughter) re-abducted, with Diana sliding slowly towards death. Tom uses an attempted suicide to get the future people's attention, which cause them to remove him from the timestream before his death. He negotiates the return of the other 4400 children who were re-abducted, but in return, he is supposed to destroy a “great evil,” but when the time comes, he can't do it. And this is only the beginning of his story in the series!

Book and Record Set: Gremlins: The Gift of the Mogwai

There were five Gremlins book and record sets, and we'll be running through them the next month or so!

Friday, May 09, 2014

Geek Memories: Computers and Me, Part One!

I've had a long association with computers... and as with anything I've had a long association with, sometimes it's nice to look back and see where it all began... and how that led me on a path to today!

The first computer I used was Radio Shack's TRS-80. I had two friends who had one... Mark Grochowicz and Warren Wheeler. Mark was a buddy of mine I met through the science fiction club I've talked about here and there, the same age as me, while Warren was a year younger than me who I met in school. I met Mark in 1978, when I was a sophomore in high school, and Warren the following year. I only got together with Mark on the weekends to play role playing games with as well as computer games, while I could get together with Warren after school.

I started learning BASIC with Warren on his computer, usually entering in programs manually into his TRS-80 from computer magazines. Sometimes we'd go onto a BBS to get stuff downloaded, such as a Mr. Spock poster that was printed out on a dot matrix printer (all using letters, numbers and punctuation to make the image, which you'd have to step away from to really see). The early modems were extremely slow, so downloads of the simplest of items took forever.

One program that we had on Warren's computer was a music program, and we used it to imput the melody of the Cantina Band song from Star Wars... it took quite a bit of work to get it input given the limited length allowed in the program, setting up repeats that weren't in the original sheet music.

With Mark, one of the games we played most often with our other gaming friends was M.U.L.E., a multiplayer game that was saved on cassette tape. It would take close to an hour to load into the computer, and once it was running, we all picked alien races to develop a new colony on the planet Irata (Atari spelled backwards), picking plots to develop. We played this game a lot, to the point that I still had fond memories of it to this day, and when I learned a new version had been created for the iPad, I gladly purchased it, and have played it quite a bit. Now that I think of it, this game may have been played on a Commodore 64, and not a TRS-80... so that was what Mark would've had.

Fandom Library: K-A #11!


Thursday, May 08, 2014

The Fleischer Popeyes #16: The Two-Alarm Fire"

popeye16-1This Popeye cartoon opens, as you might expect, at the Volunteer Fire Department (of Sweethaven? Popeye's town is never mentioned in these cartoons, but I think that's his home in the comic strips), which is divided into Company C and Company D. Company C is Bluto, who sings his praises as a fire-fighter. Company D, on the other hand, is Popeye, who responds in like manner. Down the road, Olive's house catches fire, and as Olive cries for help out of each window, the fire pursues her! Finally, she's trapped on the roof, and then one bit of flame runs out of the house and pulls the fire alarm on the street!

popeye16-2The alarm alerts Popeye and Bluto, and they grab their fire wagons and start running to the scene, Popeye in his distinctive manner. At Olive's house, one flame licks Olive's behind, causing the other flames to shake hands! Popeye and Bluto arrive and start pulling out their firehoses. Bluto is first, and he pulls a hydrant out of the ground to attach his hose to it. Popeye, on the other hand, has to use a hydrant across the street, which he attaches to by flipping the hose toward it. Bluto's hose starts spraying the house down first, but Popeye soon follows, although his hose doesn't have as much pressure. A line of flames at the top of the house move across like shooting gallery ducks, so Popeye grabs the hose with one hand to shoot each one! Bluto doesn't like this, and starts spraying Popeye with his hose, and Popeye turns his own hose on Bluto, the two streams meeting in the middle, and then Popeye's stream overpowers Bluto's.

popeye16-3Bluto  isn't happy about this, and Popeye laughs until he hears Olive's cry for help. Popeye grabs a ladder and shoots it to the house and starts climbing the ladder, but Bluto sprays him off with a stream of water. This happens twice before Popeye decides Bluto's done this "Accidently on purpose," and he starts after his rival, but Bluto sends him into the air with a steady stream of water before dropping him on the ground, then sending him spinning before hitting him on the head with the nozzle. Olive's still in danger, so Bluto starts climbing up Popeye's ladder, unaware that the fire is burning the ladder up behind him! Bluto gets Olive, but then realizes he's trapped himself!

popeye16-4Popeye takes this opportunity to take out his spinach and eat it! Popeye then starts climbing up the side of the house and pushes the curtain of flame aside to rescue Bluto and Olive, dropping through the house and then bringing them outside. He revives Olive first, followed by Bluto, who takes longer to recover. Popeye asks Bluto if he's all right, and when Bluto says he is, Popeye knocks him out!

Olive reminds Popeye the house is still burning, so Popeye inhales deeply and blows out the flames, but Olive's house is a charred ruin! Despite this, Popeye sings his song and we iris out.

This one felt like a very short cartoon, although it's just as long as the others... perhaps it's because the gags took longer than in most Popeye cartoons. Still, it was a fun one, and the gags were inventive. We didn't get any transformation punches, and I missed that (not that I can think of where one might've fit in this one)!

Comics They Never Made!

Time once again for a group of faked-up comic book covers for licensed comics that never existed, for one reason or another!
Eight is Enough was such a popular show that I'm still amazed that Gold Key never considered getting the license to produce a comic based on it... I suppose the size of the cast, and needing an artist that was good enough to make the daughters distinct enough, were likely the two biggest factors here!

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Government Comics!

Yes, it's another installment of Government Comics, as well as another installment of the Navy History and Tradition book!

Comics Ads: Popsicle Ads from Fawcett Comics!

As ubiquitous as Popsicle seems to be these days, it's kind of hard to think of a time when they had to advertise... but advertise they did, and in the pages of Fawcett Comics, to boot! As with other advertisers, they liked to use a comics format for their ads, or at least the top half of their ads. Here's some ads featuring the relatively short-lived mascot Popsicle Pete!
As you can see, the bottom half of the ads were used to promote mail-in offers.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

My Latest Pitch: The Monster Channel!

OK, this may seem odd... it kind of seems odd that I'd be pitching this idea, given that we cancelled our cable TV over a year ago... but I'd like to see someone put out a cable channel that's just focused on monsters... or perhaps more specifically, monster movies.

There have got to be enough monster movies out there to fill a cable channel 24/7/365 without repeating things too often. All the Universal monster films, the Hammer stuff, Toho giant monsters, all that stuff... all on one channel.

I dunno, maybe it's too old school to work, but I'd love to see the attempt made.

There could be special marathon events, naturally... perhaps films in a series, or films all by the same director. This could be a weekend deal, or maybe one weekend a month.

It wouldn't have to just be monster movies, either... any monster-themed TV shows could work here as well... Filmation's Ghost Busters and Groovie Goolies would be a natural fit, as well as later monster-themed shows.

Ideally, this channel could be run like American Movie Classics used to be, with a host introducing each movie, providing historical context and offering up trivia. Perhaps, if the movies had to be interrupted by commercials, the hosts could also provide a lead-in to the commercial telling about what's coming up next, as well as things to look for.

I'd also like to see this channel run episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000, even episodes without cheesy monster movies!

It's something that probably won't ever happen, given that all this stuff is available on DVD these days, but I think it would be cool as hell.

Four Color #340 - King of the Royal Mounted!


Monday, May 05, 2014

Fandom Library: Star Trek Book and Record - Passage to Moauv!


Character Collectible Spotlight: Shazzan!

Yes, I'm still looking at Hanna-Barbera character collectibles, and this time around, the focus falls on Shazzan! Shazzan was one of my favorite shows as a kid, and I've long wished that it had lasted longer, because there's just not enough episodes! Obviously, the show itself wasn't all that particularly suspenseful... I mean, once Chuck and Nancy could get their rings together and summon the genie Shazzan, things were pretty much over -- but Shazzan himself had style, man! He clearly loved being a genie, and took great joy in using his powers to deal with Chuck and Nancy's enemies. So here's some collectibles, the vast majority of which I've never laid eyes on personally, featuring Shazzan!
First up, here's a Japanese Shazzan notebook/coloring book, probably the rarest of the items here!

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Old Time Radio Spotlight: The Great Gildersleeve!

As much as I love Fibber McGee and Molly, sometimes I wonder if I love The Great Gildersleeve even more.

As I noted last time around, The Great Gildersleeve was a spin-off from that show, with Fibber McGee's next-door neighbor, Throckmorton P. Gildersleeve, leaving the town of Wistful Vista and moving to Summerfield. There, he found himself as the guardian of his niece, Marjorie Forester, and his nephew, Leroy, who had been orphaned. Gildersleeve (or "Gildy," as he was often nicknamed) also administrated the estate for the children.

The show debuted on NBC in August of 1941, and ran until 1954, for a total of 552 episodes.

Harold Peary continued to play Gildersleeve, although his character softened a little bit in the new show. While he still owned the Gildersleeve Girdle Company at the beginning of the show, he obviously could not continue running it while living in Summerfield. Later, he served as the water commissioner for Summerfield, while continuing to maintain the estate (a lot of the estate was tied up in real estate).

Puzzle Time!

With this installment, we move on to Fun and Games Magazine #5. As always, solutions come after the jump!