Batman: Gotham By Gaslight

At the end of January “Batman: Gotham by Gaslight” was released direct to video. It’s an animated feature based on the stand alone comic of the same name. I never read the comic, so when I learned the movie was out on DVD I picked it up, and well, I have feelings to share.

Let’s start with the film’s description from the back of the case:

It’s the Bat against the Butcher!
Gotham City, at the turn of the century, is experiencing a golden era of discovery and industry as showcased by affluent businessman Bruce Wayne’s World Fair. Down in the darkest alleys, however, there is a killer on the loose. Preying on the city’s women, this killer is precise as he is cruel. As Commissioner James Gordon tries to calm the fears of Gotham’s citizens over the butcher named Jack the Ripper, masked vigilante Batman does some detective work of his own, with the help of the sultry and surefooted Selina Kyle. Witness a world in flames as the killer’s controlled savagery meets the calculated stealth of the Dark Knight!

That relays the gist of the film quite nicely. Seriously, who can resist a dark, Victorian era version of Batman? Not this gal. However there is the weird feeling that they couldn’t convey the era without beating you over the head with it. For comic book folks, it’s generally believed that Gotham is a stand in for New York City (and Superman’s Metropolis is Chicago). Yet not only did they drop Chicago’s World Fair, complete with ferris wheel into NYC, but Batman is pursuing Jack the Ripper who we all know was a British problem. I get that this is a whole alternative universe thing, but it did feel kind of wonky.

Now let’s discuss the star of the show, Selina Kyle. This a fantastic version of the character. A shrewd business woman, a badass brawler, and a sexy show girl. Way cooler than Bruce Wayne or Batman. In the film she invents the Bat Signal and alternate universe or not, I’ve decided it is canon and that’s that.

The story, which I assume at least this part matches the comic, takes a surprise twist at the end, which I found pretty daring and well done. I won’t say more for fear of spoiling it.

The film is rated R for violence, but compared to many Jack the Ripper stories, the violence if fairly tame and never feels gratuitous.

Yes I had some petty gripes, but the good definitely outweighs the bad. If you dig Batman and the whole Victorian Era Steampunk thing, “Gotham by Gaslight” is worth checking out.

Spidey Saves the Day!

By Bob Batchelor

All lean muscles and tautness, a new superhero bursts from the page. Swinging right into the reader’s lap, the hero is masked, only alien-like curved eyes reveal human features, no mouth or nose is visible. His power is alarming: casually holding a ghoulish-looking criminal in one hand, while simultaneously swinging from a hair-thin cord high above the city streets. In the background, tiny figures stand on rooftops, looking on and pointing in what can only be considered outright astonishment.

The superhero is off-center, frozen in a moment, as if a panicked photographer snapped a series of frames. The image captures the speed, almost like flight, with the wind at his back. The hero’s deltoid ripples and leg muscles flex. Some mysterious webbing extends from his elbow to waist. Is this a man or creature from another world?

The answer is actually neither. Looking at the bright yellow dialogue boxes running down the left side of the page, the reader learns the shocking truth. This isn’t a grown man, older and hardened, like Batman or Superman, one an existential nightmare and the other a do-gooder alien. No, this hero is just a self-professed “timid teenager” named Peter Parker. The world, he exclaims, mocks the teen under the mask, but will “marvel” at his newfound “awesome might.”

It is August 1962. Spider-Man is born.

Spider-Man’s debut in a dying comic book called Amazing Fantasy happened because Stan Lee took a calculated risk. He trusted his instincts. Rolling the dice on a new character meant potentially wasting precious hours writing, penciling, and inking a title that might not sell. The business side of the industry constantly clashed with the creative, forcing fast scripting and artwork to go hand-in-hand.

In more than two decades toiling as a writer and editor, Lee watched genres spring to life, and then almost as quickly, readers would turn to something else. War stories gave way to romance titles, which might then ride a wave until monster comics became popular. In an era when a small group of publishers controlled the industry, they kept close watch over each other’s products in hopes of mimicking sales of hot titles or genres.

Lee calls Marvel’s publisher Martin Goodman, “One of the great imitators of all time.” Goodman dictated what Lee wrote after ferreting out tips and leads from golf matches and long lunches with other publishers. If he heard that westerns were selling for a competitor, Goodman would visit Lee, bellowing, “Stan, come up with some Westerns.” This versatility had been Lee’s strength, swiftly writing and plotting many different titles. He often used gimmicks and wordplay, like recycling the gunslinger Rawhide Kid in 1960 and making him into an outlaw or using alliteration, as in Millie the Model.

A conservative executive, Goodman rarely wanted change, which irked Lee. The writer bristled at his boss’s belittling beliefs, explaining, “He felt comics were really only read by very, very young children or stupid adults,” which meant “he didn’t want me to use words of more than two syllables if I could help it…Don’t play up characterization, don’t have too much dialogue, just have a lot of action.” Given the precarious state of publishing companies, which frequently went belly-up, and his long history with Goodman, Lee admits, “It was a job; I had to do what he told me.”

Despite being distant relatives and longtime coworkers, the publisher and editor maintained a cool relationship. From Lee’s perspective, “Martin was good at what he did and made a lot of money, but he wasn’t ambitious. He wanted things to stay the way they were.”

Riding the wave of critical success and extraordinary sales of The Fantastic Four, Goodman gave Lee a simple directive: “Come up with some other superheroes.” The Fantastic Four, however, subtly shifted the relationship. Lee wielded greater authority. He used some of the profit to pay writers and editors more money, which then offloaded some of the pressure.

Launching Spider-Man, however, Lee did more than divert the energy of his staff. He actually defied Goodman.

For months, Lee grappled with the idea of a new superhero with realistic challenges that someone with superpowers would face living in the modern world. The new character would be “a teenager, with all the problems, hang-ups, and angst of any teenager.” Lee came up with the colorful “Spider-Man” name and envisioned a “hard-luck kid” both blessed and cursed by acquiring superhuman strength and the ability to cling to walls, just like a real-life spider.

Lee recalls pitching Goodman, embellishing the story of Spider-Man’s origin by claiming that he got the idea “watching a fly on the wall while I had been typing.” He laid the character out in full: teen, orphan, angst, poor, intelligent, and other traits. Lee thought Spider-Man was a no-brainer, but to his surprise, Goodman hated it and forbade him from offering it as a standalone book.

The publisher had three complaints: “people hate spiders, so you can’t call a hero ‘Spider-Man’”; no teenager could be a hero “but only be a sidekick”; and a hero had to be heroic, not a pimply, unpopular kid. Irritated, Goodman asked Lee, “Didn’t [he] realize that people hate spiders?” Given the litany of criticisms, Lee recalled, “Martin just wouldn’t let me do the book.”

Realizing that he could not completely circumvent his boss, Lee made the executive decision to put Spider-Man on the cover of a series that had previously bombed, called Amazing Fantasy. Readers didn’t like AF, which featured thriller/fantasy stories by Lee and surreal art by Steve Ditko, Marvel’s go-to artist for styling the macabre, surreal, or Dali-esque. It seemed as if there were already two strikes against the teen wonder.

Despite these odds and his boss’s directive, Lee says that he couldn’t let the nerdy superhero go: “I couldn’t get Spider-Man out of my mind.” He worked up a Spider-Man plot and handed it over to Marvel’s top artist, Jack Kirby. Lee figured that no one would care (or maybe even notice) a new character in the last issue of a series that would soon be discontinued.

With Spider-Man, however, Kirby missed the mark. His early sketches turned the teen bookworm into a mini-Superman with all-American good looks, like a budding astronaut or football star. Lee put Ditko on the title. His style was more suited for drawing an offbeat hero.

Ditko nailed Spider-Man, but not the cover art, forcing Lee to commission Kirby for the task, with Ditko inking. Lee could not have been happier with Ditko. He explained: “Steve did a totally brilliant job of bringing my new little arachnid hero to life.” They finished the two-part story and ran it as the lead in AS #15. Revealing both the busy, all-hands state of the company and their low expectations, Lee recalled, “Then, we more or less forgot about him.” As happy as Lee and Ditko were with the collaboration and outcome, there is no way they could have imagined that they were about to spin the comic book world onto a different axis.

The fateful day sales figures finally arrived. Goodman stormed into Lee’s office, as always awash in art boards, drawings, mockups, yellow legal pads, and memos littering the desk.

Goodman beamed, “Stan, remember that Spider-Man idea of yours that I liked so much? Why don’t we turn it into a series?”

If that wasn’t enough to knock Lee off-kilter, then came the real kicker: Spider-Man was not just a hit, the issue was in fact the fastest-selling comic book of the year, and maybe that decade. Lee recalls that AF skyrocketed to number one.

The new character would be the keystone of Marvel’s superhero-based lineup. More importantly, the Fantastic Four and Spider-Man transformed Marvel from a company run by imitating trends into a hot commodity. In March 1963, The Amazing Spider-Man #1 burst onto newsstands.

Fans could not get enough of the teen hero, so Lee and Marvel pushed the limits. Spider-Man appeared in Strange Tales Annual #2 (September 1963), a 72-page crossover between him and the Human Torch. And in Tales to Astonish, which had moved from odd, macabre stories to superheroes, Spidey guest-starred in #57 (July 1964), which focused on Giant-Man and Wasp. When The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1 appeared in 1964, with Lee dubbing himself and Ditko “the most talked about team in comics today,” it featured appearances by every Marvel hero, including Thor, Dr. Strange, Captain America, and the X-Men.

Spider-Man now stood at the center of a comic book empire. Stan Lee could not have written a better outcome, even if given the chance.

All this from a risky run in a dying comic book!

About Bob Batchelor:Batchelor, who teaches at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, is the author of more than 25 books, including “Stan Lee: The Man Behind Marvel” (Rowman & Littlefield, September 2017, adult trade, retail $22.95). Amazon: http://amzn.to/2q4lNYe

A lifelong comic book fan and noted media resource, he has been an editorial consultant for numerous outlets and been quoted in or on BBC Radio World Service, Today.com, Columbus Dispatch, msnbc.com, The Miami Herald, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Dallas Morning News, Taiwan News, Associated Press, The Guardian, and The Washington Post.

Batchelor is the author of “Mad Men: A Cultural History”, “John Updike: A Critical Biography”, and “Gatsby: The Cultural History of the Great American Novel”, among others. He is a noted popular culture commentator and editor.

Geek Month in Review: September 2015

By JB Sanders

You know, Fall’s coming…

A Record Player, with Lasers
Stop making Dr. Evil gestures! It’s a real record player, vinyl disks of grooves, only instead of crude needle jolting through the channels, it uses lasers. No damage to the original at all. Plus if the record is already dinged up, it’ll compensate.

Lost Tunnels of Liverpool
So, there are these tunnels underneath the city of Liverpool — which is not exactly odd, except that no one knows who made them, or why. They’re over 200 years old, too, so it’s a mystery with some dust on it.

Archaeologists Reconstruct Doggerland
Remember that island off the east coast of England? No? It so totally used to be there, about 8000 years ago. Then the sea levels rose.

Recover Sound from Silent Video — and More!
This is some straight-up science fiction, here, only now it’s science fact.

Prosthetic Hand That Can Feel
DARPA researchers have created a prosthetic hand that can actually send a sense of touch to the wearer’s brain.

That’s Not Slow Motion, This is Slow Motion
Scientists have developed a camera that takes a trillion pictures a second. Yeah, you read that right. A trillion, with a “t”. It slows things down so much, they can observe light moving across an object.

Touch Screen That Grows Buttons
Those crafty folks at MIT are working on a screen that creates real buttons when you need them, right on the screen.

Blindsight and Human Consciousness
There’s more to human perception, and to human consciousness, then … er … meets the eye. It starts with a guy who is blind in one eye, but in repeated tests can still somehow perceive out of it. It gets stranger from there.

About John:
John’s a geek from way back. He’s been floating between various computer-related jobs for years, until he settled into doing tech support in higher ed. Now he rules the Macs on campus with an iron hand (really, it’s on his desk).

Geek Credentials:
RPG: Blue box D&D, lead minis, been to GenCon in Milwaukee.
Computer: TRS-80 Color Computer, Amiga 1000, UNIX system w/reel-to-reel backup tape
Card games: bought Magic cards at GenCon in 1993
Science: Met Phil Plait, got time on a mainframe for astronomy project in 1983

Geek Month in Review: August 2015

By JB Sanders

Not as hot as expected August…

Roomba Makers Exploring Autonomous Lawn Mower
Yup, robotic lawn mowers, just trimming away on their own. What could go wrong?

HyperLoop Actually Happening
Remember that crazy scifi pneumatic tube train that Elon Musk (super villain in training) was talking about a while ago? Sounded like a crazy, looney-tunes idea, right? Super-high-speed trains, running in tubes with little or no air, and getting places in an hour that normally require six. Yeah, that. They’re starting construction in 2016. Really.

Oldest Message-in-a-Bottle Found
At over 100 years old, this bottle has been floating around for a long, long time.

Real Locked Room Puzzle
Apparently, there’s a craze spreading around where people build real locked-room puzzles. Remember those things in video games where you find yourself locked in a room, and have to solve a variety of mechanical (or magical!) puzzles to unlock the door. Well, now people are doing that in real life.

Integrated Space Plan
Originally conceived by scientist Ron Jones, the “wildly detailed” plan to map how humans will expand into space has recently been updated. It sets out milestones and technology we’ll need to do things like permanently settle Mars, create a self-sustaining Moon base, and other fun items. Plus it comes in a handy poster form!

About John:
John’s a geek from way back. He’s been floating between various computer-related jobs for years, until he settled into doing tech support in higher ed. Now he rules the Macs on campus with an iron hand (really, it’s on his desk).

Geek Credentials:
RPG: Blue box D&D, lead minis, been to GenCon in Milwaukee.
Computer: TRS-80 Color Computer, Amiga 1000, UNIX system w/reel-to-reel backup tape
Card games: bought Magic cards at GenCon in 1993
Science: Met Phil Plait, got time on a mainframe for astronomy project in 1983
His Blog:http://www.glenandtyler.com/

Talk Like a Pirate Day 2015

As you know, tomorrow is a one of Rebecca’s high holy days. You know what it is of course. It’s International Talk Like a Pirate Day! It’s a day when you act silly and talk like a cartoony pirate, but more importantly, it’s when we can all partake in the most stereotypical of all pirate activities, rum drinking! Now if you’re not like me and don’t have this date marked on your calendar it is certainly not too late to come up with some ideas for how to celebrate.

First, and most importantly, to truly celebrate you just need to talk like a pirate. So let loose with the salty pirate speech mateys, for the occasion calls for it. If you do that, you have celebrated the day. However, if you’re looking for a little more powder in your keg, might I direct your attention to The Original Talk Like a Pirate Day website?

This site has EVERYTHING! How to talk like a pirate, pirate quizzes, pirate name generators, pirate party kit page (includes invitations, website banners, e-cards, drink recipes, and more!), and then a crazy links page. There are links to every kind of pirate related thing you could imagine: historical pirates, pirate comics, pirate themed restaurants, pirate books for adults, teens, and kids, pirate apps, the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, pirate themed musical acts, pirate alcohol, and many more!

No matter how you choose to celebrate, just do so responsibly with those that you love.

And don’t call me Sunday morning.

Geek Month in Review: July 2015

By JB Sanders

Fireworks!

Touching Holograms
Remember that scene in Iron Man or Avengers where someone moves holograms around like they’re real, physical objects? Yeah, we’re not that far away from having that.

Star Trek Bluetooth Communicator
So sure, it’s nothing more than a bluetooth headset in a weird form, but it does look freakin’ cool. How odd is it (for those of us above a certain age) to see something like this and think “that’s retro-future nostalgia tech”.

TWA Terminal in Time Capsule
It’s a view back to the Jet Age, when the wealthy travelled by jet airliner and smoked in their designer finery. It’s like a posh version of the Jetsons.

Super Camper Van
Planning an expedition to the arctic? Or that trackless wilderness that hides a pyramid? Then this “camper van” is your ideal companion. It’s something the company in the movie “Congo” would have bought. It has everything.

Blade Runner Prop Photos
See the miniatures created for all the effects in Blade Runner. You know, because there was a time before CGI.

Underground Drone Video
Not just for high-level aerial footage anymore — now drones are flying around the tunnels under London.

LEGO Queen Mary
Yup, an ocean liner model made entirely of LEGOs. It’s 25-feet long, has over 250,000 bricks, and weighs 600 pounds.

Giant Arrows from a Bi-plane Age
Obsolete infrastructure can be found all over the place — just look out the train window in the Easter US and see the telegraph cabling. There used to be arrows all over the US guiding early flyers to the nearest airport.

Healing With Ultrasound
Scientists are working to heal wounds with ultrasound, sci-fi style. Not instantly, mind you, but the technique appears to work on chronic wounds which won’t otherwise heal normally.

Plastic Roads
Like giant LEGO(tm) bricks, Plastic Roads are being developed in the Netherlands, and are designed to be modular.

The Tree That Bears 40 Different Fruits
Yeah, really. It’s not some weird genetic hybrid that might have tentacles if someone slipped a digit somewhere, this is straight-up ancient-as-hell hybridization. Or more specifically, grafting. Some joker grafted 40 different varieties of fruit-bearing tree limbs onto one tree, and then repeated the idea in several dozen locations. The article has a link to a map, if you want to see these trees in person.

World’s Largest Vertical Farm
Kickin’ it scifi-style in New Jersey with the indoor, sunlight-free, aeroponic farm. The facility will be capable of producing 2 million pounds of produce a year when it’s finished, and it doesn’t use nearly the resources of regular farming.

EM Drive May Actually Work
When it was originally announced, the EM space drive got a lot of scorn. Thrust from “nothing” (no reaction mass)? Yeah, lots of doubt. However, several independent scientists have now tentatively confirmed that there is something going on there. Space travel, ahoy!

Quietest Rooms in the World
Soundproofed, shielded from electromagnetic noise, and isolated from pretty much any odd earth movement, these rooms in Switzerland are great places to mess with particle physics.

Lamp Runs on Sea Water and Metal
Two Phillipine geniuses (genii?) have invented a lamp that can run on salt water and electrodes that only need to be replaced once or twice a year. It even has a port to charge cell phones.

http://www.upworthy.com/a-brother-and-sister-in-the-philippines-invented-a-lamp-that-runs-entirely-on-metal-and-salt-water?c=bl3

About John:
John’s a geek from way back. He’s been floating between various computer-related jobs for years, until he settled into doing tech support in higher ed. Now he rules the Macs on campus with an iron hand (really, it’s on his desk).

Geek Credentials:
RPG: Blue box D&D, lead minis, been to GenCon in Milwaukee.
Computer: TRS-80 Color Computer, Amiga 1000, UNIX system w/reel-to-reel backup tape
Card games: bought Magic cards at GenCon in 1993
Science: Met Phil Plait, got time on a mainframe for astronomy project in 1983
His Blog:http://www.glenandtyler.com/

Geek Month in Review: June 2015

By JB Sanders

Summer!

The 20-year-old Cleaning Up the Oceans
That’s not hyperbole, either. Boyan Slat has two major projects underway right now to do just that. The first one starting in August will collect more data in three weeks on the plastic floating in our oceans “than anyone has in 40 years”. In 2016, he’s deploying a device to collect plastic out of the ocean which will be the longest floating structure around (2,000 meters). I think he’s giving Elon Musk a run for his money. The guy’s only 20!

Flying Tricycle in Prototype
Technically, it’s a “coaxial, Y6-layout tricopter”, but if that confounds you — no worries. If you’ve seen Return of the Jedi, you’ve seen a flying motorcycle much like this. Yes, there’s video.

James Bond Cars Through the Years
Cool website that shows all the James Bond cars. Nice effects and cool art. Plus hot cars.

Magic, Light, and Quadracopters
Art and science meet, produce a wonderful dance. Done only with lights, lampshades, and some well-programmed quadracopters.

3D Printed Bridge
These crazy Dutch engineers/programmers/scientists have created prototype robots that are going to 3D print a bridge in place and kind of mid-air. Scifi in Action folks!

Gustav Eiffel’s Secret Tower Apartment
Built into the 3rd level of the Eiffel Tower is a secret apartment that the builder had put in over 100 years ago. See pictures of (more or less) how it looked back in the day.

Lexus Makes a Hoverboard — For Real!
It is 2015 after all, the year Marty McFly DeLoren’s to in Back to the Future. It had to happen sometime. Even if the hoverboard in question requires a metal surface to work.

3D Color Images of 1850’s Japan
No, it’s not the result of time travel, it’s stereoscopic photography during the time it was invented. It’s been converted for your convenience into animated GIFs.

Tactile Tablet
It’s like an iPad, only it creates a raised surface for braille, contour maps, or whatever.

Creepy Writing Doll
What is even creepier is that the doll in question is over 240 years old. Nothing quite like 18th century clockwork automatons.

About John:
John’s a geek from way back. He’s been floating between various computer-related jobs for years, until he settled into doing tech support in higher ed. Now he rules the Macs on campus with an iron hand (really, it’s on his desk).

Geek Credentials:
RPG: Blue box D&D, lead minis, been to GenCon in Milwaukee.
Computer: TRS-80 Color Computer, Amiga 1000, UNIX system w/reel-to-reel backup tape
Card games: bought Magic cards at GenCon in 1993
Science: Met Phil Plait, got time on a mainframe for astronomy project in 1983
His Blog:http://www.glenandtyler.com/

Geek Month in Review: May 2015

By JB Sanders

May flowers!

We Are Truly in the Future
Let Pancake Bot draw whatever shape you want your pancakes in, then cook them for you.

What Do Tree Rings Sounds Like?
Oddly ethereal. See scientists take tree rings and treat them like they’re special long-playing vinyl.

The Forgotten Pyramids of Meroe
Along the Nile, in the Sudan, there are some 200 pyramids left — not by the Egyptians — but by the Meroitic Kingdom. They’re not as big but they are very cool looking. In fact, I suspect some of the artists drawing tombs in various fantasy games over the years saw these.

Cube inside a Cube inside a Cube
Which is not not the remarkable part — no, because any idiot with a 3D printer and the right file can make one of those. This guy did it with a block of aluminum, some hot glue, and a lathe. Not a CNC reduction machine. No! An honest-to-Pete lathe — spinning in circles, crank-controlled, and computer-free.

Artificial Lava
Want to experiment with lava flows, but live in upstate New York? Melt some basalt and make your own!

The Quiet Zone
Imagine a place with no cell phones, no radio broadcasts, not even any microwave ovens (unless they’re in a Faraday cage). That place is the Quiet Zone, an area of 13,000 square miles that is forbidden by law from having any radio interference.

3D Interactive Map of the Universe
Yup, time to break out your holoprojectors. It’s a full 3D map of the known universe and you can monkey around with the view.

Hyperloop Test Track in the Works
The Hyperloop is a train, set in a near-vacuum tube, which — if the theory proves correct — could travel faster than an airplane. Yes, Elon Musk, super-villain in training (or a hero using the villain playbook, which one is unclear) is making another of his wacky ideas a reality. Giant pneumatic tubes could some day criss-cross the country, or even under the oceans. If you’re wondering why anyone would want to use or build something like that, let’s lay down the travel times: Los Angeles to San Francisco in 30 minutes. Yeah. Anyway, they’re actually building a test track now.

How to Make Stackable Edible LEGOs
Want to build amazing structures or spaceships (spaceships!)? LEGOs. Want to be able to eat them after the inevitable fiery comet of doom? Look no farther.

Micro-Living Pod
It’s a super-tiny house that can accommodate up to 2 people, runs off wind and solar, and even collects its own rain water in a cistern below the living space. Looks like a futuristic egg, but the interior is actually kinda cool. Coming in 2016.

Wait, the thing has its own website:

About John:
John’s a geek from way back. He’s been floating between various computer-related jobs for years, until he settled into doing tech support in higher ed. Now he rules the Macs on campus with an iron hand (really, it’s on his desk).

Geek Credentials:
RPG: Blue box D&D, lead minis, been to GenCon in Milwaukee.
Computer: TRS-80 Color Computer, Amiga 1000, UNIX system w/reel-to-reel backup tape
Card games: bought Magic cards at GenCon in 1993
Science: Met Phil Plait, got time on a mainframe for astronomy project in 1983
His Blog:http://www.glenandtyler.com/

Geek Month in Review: April 2015

by JB Sanders

Spring flowers!

World’s Largest Airship Nearly Ready for the Skies
The airship is set to return to the skies (with helium!), now in an industrial capacity.

Fiction to Invention: Timeline
Great infographic on the time it took for something that appeared in science fiction to turn into fact.

All the Best Supervillains Have Them
Elon Musk made a twitter post that seems especially appropriate.

Chinese Farmer Builds Transformer Figures
Doesn’t sound all that exciting, does it? Did I mention that these “figures” are life-sized (as in 20-feet tall)? And made out of car parts? They look pretty awesome.

I Think There’s a Movie In This
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management is looking to find people to live in an abandoned mining town that has a reputation for being haunted. You should totally do it! All the cool kids are. And I’m certain that nothing would ever go wrong with living in a haunted ghost town. Definitely.

Wanna Buy a Village?
Speaking of abandoned properties, there’s a little village in Connecticut — all 64 acres of it — that is up for sale again. It was a mill town, then the mill burned, then it was a Victorian recreation village, and then it was planned to be a created community.

The Invisible Infrastructure
Really fascinating visualization of all the airplanes going into and out of the UK airspace in the course of a day.

Ancient Computer Festival
Marvel at the vacuum tubes! Wonder at the giant cabinets! See the original iMac doorstop. All this and more at the Vintage Computer Festival East.

Chernobyl Fox Makes Sandwich
Yup, we got us some mutants. No doubt.
Note: auto-playing vide

GM Futureliner — the Car of the Future, In the 1950’s
They just don’t make ‘em like that anymore — because they NEVER made them like this. A vehicle both huge and odd-looking, it does have the whiff of a 1950’s future. They were put together by General Motors as traveling exhibits to showcase GM tech. And they are monstrously big: 33 feet long, 8 feet wide, and 11’ 2” high.

The Internet of Cows
Researchers in San Francisco are attaching special pedometers to cows. They’ll track all sorts of data about them to help dairy farmers with their herds.

About John:
John’s a geek from way back. He’s been floating between various computer-related jobs for years, until he settled into doing tech support in higher ed. Now he rules the Macs on campus with an iron hand (really, it’s on his desk).

Geek Credentials:
RPG: Blue box D&D, lead minis, been to GenCon in Milwaukee.
Computer: TRS-80 Color Computer, Amiga 1000, UNIX system w/reel-to-reel backup tape
Card games: bought Magic cards at GenCon in 1993
Science: Met Phil Plait, got time on a mainframe for astronomy project in 1983
His Blog:http://www.glenandtyler.com/

Geek Month in Review: March 2015

by JB Sanders

Snow, snow go away…

Jurassic Park Computer System
So, there’s this website out there that simulates the computer control system in the original Jurassic Park movie. Give it a whirl.

Low-Tech Old-School Secret Drawers
Lovely antique small writing desk, with a TON of secret drawers and hidden compartments.

Oldest Surviving Movie Footage of New York City, Annotated
Great video showing what appears to be the oldest movie footage of New York City, from May of 1896. Annotations show a map of the current NYC on the left. Pop-up highlights over the video call out landmarks and other points of interest. There’s movie footage from 1896 to 1906, going backwards in time from newest to oldest. Fascinating stuff.

Geek Makes Secret Door Into His Home Theater
But that’s not the best part — the awesome thing is that it’s a secret door, modeled on the secret back entrance in Moria. Yes, that Moria — as in, Mines of Moria, Tolkien, Lord of the Rings, etc. It even — oh, but I won’t spoil it. Suffice to say it has features.

That’s Not a Table! It’s a Machine!
Watch this crazy complex table go from a small size to a larger size simply by turning. It’s based on an 1835 patent.

Easily Build a Hidden Safe
Ok, it hasn’t got a TON of room, but it’s got the nice benefit of being difficult to spot. Plus who doesn’t like hidden drawer-type-things that you can do yourself for $3?

Zombie Infection Simulation
Watch as zombies spread out from the point of infection, in hour-by-hour time, until they engulf the US. You can even slider-bar the parameters to make zombies faster or slower, and more or less infectious. Science!

Comic Book Cartography
Some 4-color plates of famous geography from yesteryear. Browse the contents of the Bat Cave, or the hidden secrets of the Baxter Building.

About John:
John’s a geek from way back. He’s been floating between various computer-related jobs for years, until he settled into doing tech support in higher ed. Now he rules the Macs on campus with an iron hand (really, it’s on his desk).

Geek Credentials:
RPG: Blue box D&D, lead minis, been to GenCon in Milwaukee.
Computer: TRS-80 Color Computer, Amiga 1000, UNIX system w/reel-to-reel backup tape
Card games: bought Magic cards at GenCon in 1993
Science: Met Phil Plait, got time on a mainframe for astronomy project in 1983
His Blog:http://www.glenandtyler.com/