Even if you've never tried on a VR headset or dabbled in augmented reality, fans of Ernie Cline's Ready Player One will be familiar with some of the concepts around what it might be like to live, work, and play in a digital landscape. Michael Krasny hosted an interesting discussion on NPR's Forum today with senior WIRED editor Peter Rubin and various developers and CEOs from the industry. From NPR: "Holograms you can touch. Cameras that recognize what they see. Clothing you can try on virtually. These are just some of the things tech companies say augmented reality will make possible. But how far off are touchable holograms? And will people actually want to use them? In this hour of Forum we discuss the future of AR, its potential applications and the ethics of mixing computer-generated images with the real world." I found the discussion really interesting, especially when they got into issues around ethics, safe use in society (don't AR and drive!), and our connection and responsibility to the real world. Listen here on NPR.
Thursday, June 1, 2017
Sunday, May 28, 2017
New release: The complete Transformers Japanese Collection will see its first US release on June 13th via Shout! Factory. From the press release: "In 1984 the world was introduced to a unique line of transforming toys designed by Japanese toymaker Takara. Originally created as independent action figures, the characters were repackaged as The Transformers by American toy powerhouse Hasbro, who created a comprehensive backstory of valiant Autobots and treacherous Decepticons. The franchise was an instant success, launching popular comic books and a daily animated series that spanned four stunning seasons and a theatrical motion picture. Original toy creators Takara teamed up with Toei Animation, took the events of the show’s first three seasons and launched their own series, steering the heroic adventures of the Autobots — known as Cybertrons in Japan — in a completely new and surprising direction. Finally, for the very first time in North America, those three Japanese creations — Headmasters, Super-God Masterforce and Victory — can be seen in one deluxe DVD box set!" 13 discs with bonus art galleries. More info at Shout! Factory and Amazon.
Saturday, May 20, 2017
Shout! Factory is hosting a Super Sentai event this weekend! Tune in to their streaming channel to see classic Japanese sci-fi/monster action on their website, complete with commentary and round table discussions with tokusatsu experts. This is a great way to find out how the whole Power Rangers phenomenon began in Japan. There is also a flash sale on all tokusatsu DVD box sets and fans can save up to 50%! More info at Shout! Factory.
Thursday, May 18, 2017
Author Ernie Cline (Ready Player One) will be a special guest at Classic Game Fest this summer! The festival will be held the Palmer Events Center in Austin July 29-30. "Classic Game Fest is excited to welcome acclaimed author and screenwriter, Ernest Cline, back to Classic Game Fest! Cline will be signing autographs and a meet and greet on Saturday, July 30th from 12-2pm ONLY! You’ll have an opportunity to purchase a book or bring your own copy to have signed." More info here. See my Ernie Cline image archive on Pinterst.
Saturday, May 13, 2017
David Bowie's wonderful soundtrack to Labyrinth (1986) has finally been reissued! After years of seeing the original pressing fetch high prices on the collector's market, fans can now pick up the 2017 remastered edition for around $24. Also includes Trevor Jones' instrumental tracks. Great songs to a great movie! Can't go wrong with Jim Henson, David Bowie, Terry Jones, Frank Oz, Dave Goelz, Kenny Baker, Brian Henson, George Lucas, and Gates McFadden! Find the LP at Amazon and local music stores. The film also had a 4k restoration and Blu-ray release recently, though I must say I prefer the original Blu-ray edition- looks more film-like and natural to my eyes. Enjoy!
Saturday, May 6, 2017
I was raised on old records by Blues greats such as Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, and John Lee Hooker, so I never really got into Led Zeppelin. At the time it all sounded like too much borrowing and noodling on the guitar. But I explored the band as an adult and came to enjoy how they expanded the form. I was especially intrigued by Led Zep's commitment to interaction between the voice and guitar. My ears were finally ready for their brand of electric experimentation. It's been some years now since I listened to them, so I revisited The Song Remains the Same film last night. Sure, lots of swagger there, but I did enjoy this Theremin sequence from Whole Lotta Love. I admit, I even enjoyed seeing Plant's fantasy bits filmed in Wales. I've become a regular Wales traveler in the past couple of years, so just soaked in the landscape and didn't mind the sword-quest story too much. If anyone saw the recent doc It Might Get Loud, you'll get that I kept thinking of an elderly Page over his Theremin- still grinning like a kid. Here's Plant and Page working the Theremin-voice improv in the 70s. Enjoy!
Sunday, April 30, 2017
Curiosity is such is funny thing. I never know where it will lead me. I got a bit nostalgic recently about the blue Duncan Imperial Yo-Yo I had as a kid. I really enjoyed it, although I was never that into complex tricks. I just loved the motion of it, which I found kind of meditative. My local Toys R Us has a Yo-Yo section, so I went over one night about a month ago and picked up a new blue Imperial. I guess Yo-Yos are kind of like riding a bike, and it was a blast to rediscover. I even picked up a 1950s-style wood model on-line and a modern one that's great for some tricks. I then checked out current Yo-Yo competition videos on Youtube. Man, those people are really serious about it these days! In contrast, it's pretty charming to go back to this 1978 doc about the history and science of Yo-Yos. I've also included a video about the world's most incredible Yo-Yo collection- totally awesome! If you are interested in Yo-Yos, I suggest these websites: Yo-Yo tricks, Yo-Yo Play. Enjoy!
Saturday, April 29, 2017
I recently ran into an artist at a local convention who has found his muse- in vintage game hardware. Inspired by old systems, Randy Gallegos has created a cool portfolio of paintings that pay tribute to the designs of Atari, Nintendo, Macintosh, and others. You can see his work and order prints via HeartsForHardware. Gallegos also works as an artist/illustrator for commercial clients and publishing companies. Check out his website. Enjoy!
Thursday, April 6, 2017
I was a huge Spider-Man fan when I was a kid. I was the kind of boy who walked around humming the cartoon theme song and swung my Mego doll around on a thread until his arm fell off. I collected old Silver Age comics at tag sales and flea markets and regularly checked the local pharmacy magazine rack for current issues. Peter Parker's life as a nephew, photographer, and superhero had me in constant suspense. Collecting was super fun, but also something I took seriously. So when my hero appeared on the Electric Company TV show and in tie-in books, I dismissed it all as too "kiddie". After all, I was reading the "real" Spider-Man! But these vintage covers caught my eye recently. They hold a certain charm. The people in the scenes look like the people I knew back then. And the whole project now seems like a loving tribute to Spider-Man as a universal -and relatable- hero. I can finally embrace this iteration of Spidey for what it was: honest, inclusive, and fun! Here is a sampling of covers and ads for the Spidey Super Stories comic (1974-1982). Enjoy!
Sunday, April 2, 2017
Bandai and S.H. Figures celebrated the 50th anniversary of Japan's iconic hero, Ultraman, in a really cool set of detailed toys. Not only did they pay close attention to costuming and articulation, but they even added miniature buildings so fans could stage their own kaiju battles. Cue stop-motion enthusiasts! Here is a badass animation spotlighting the set. Enjoy! More toy info at Amazon.