Saturday, January 24, 2009

Mary Poppins - 45th year anniversary

I'm quite fond of Mary Poppins, but not so fond that, if I'd purchased the 40th Anniversary edition 5 years ago, I'd now shell out a third as much money to get the 45th anniversary edition. (At least I don't have to buy the Gold Edition.)

However, since I don't have that 40th anniversary edition, I'm thinking I will get this one. It's a 2-disc set, with a ton of extras (but, of course, missing a couple of extras from the 40th edition):

Backstage Disney

* Disney on Broadway (All New to DVD)

- "Mary Poppins from Page to Stage": The story of Mary Poppins from book to Broadway as the creative team and cast prepare to take the long running show on tour. A very well-done documentary on the stage production of "Mary Poppins," detailing almost every aspect of the production that began in London. Especially interesting is how P.L. Travers did not want any "Americans" involved in the stage production, as she was truly not happy with what Disney did with her books. This feature takes you all over the globe: interviews with the 2 leads are held in NYC at Sardi's restaurant; an interview with one of the Sherman Brothers is filmed in Beverly Hills; interviews with the stage productions composers George Stiles & Anthony Drewe are held in England (they did a fantastic job of blending their compositions seamlessly with the Sherman Brothers' songs from the film). You'll also hear from Bob Crowley, the scenic and costume designer, detailing how he came up with the sets (inspired by the book's illustrations) and changes he made for the touring production.

- "Step in Time": The Broadway cast of Mary Poppins performs the number "Step in Time" from the show. This is a nice glimpse into the stage production. Although it doesn't quite have the pizzazz of the filmed number (what a tough act to follow), the choreography, sets, and costumes work together to create a fantastic production. Especially effective is the use of costumes and make-up to create the illusion of the chimney sweeps are in black and white, making Mary Poppins in her red dress stand out even more.

- Step in Time - Downloadable MP3 featuring the Broadway cast of Mary Poppins singing "Step in Time," featuring Ashley Brown as Mary Poppins and Gavin Lee as Bert.

- Video Intro By Scenic & Costume Designer, Bob Crowley

- Bob Crowley's Design Galleries: Concept art, costume designs, set designs and set models for the Broadway musical

* Audio Commentary: with stars Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke, Karen Dotrice and songwriter Richard Sherman. There are a few archival comments included from Walt Disney and others. Fantastic track that really adds to the enjoyment of the film. Especially interesting is the "Feed the Birds" number, where Sherman talks about Mary Poppins instilling social responsibility into the children by planting the idea of feeding the birds with tuppence, thus setting off the important string of events at the end of the film.

* Poppins Pop-Up Fun Facts: View fun-filled facts about the creation of the movie during viewing. Mirrors some of the information from the commentary track, but still enjoyable to learn some of the behind-the-scenes info as you are watching the movie.

* "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious: The Making of Mary Poppins": The definitive behind-the- scenes look at how this unique and beloved film came into being.

* Movie Magic: A look at the special effect techniques used to bring the magical world of Mary Poppins to life.

* The Gala World Premiere: Footage from the Red Carpet. What a feast this is; a few different rolls of film (mixing bw and color) have been edited together to recreate as much as possible of this magical evening. See Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke, Mary Tyler Moore, Ed Wynn, Cesar Romero, and so many more classic stars. Even Walt & his wife are on hand (it even appears that Walt is gently chastising the costumed Mickey character at one point).

* Dick Van Dyke Make-Up Test for his role of the elder Mr. Dawes. On the commentary track, Karen Dotrice (Jane Banks) admits that during filming, she was not told that Dick Van Dyke was playing the elder Mr. Dawes. She thought it was just some old smelly man who was close to death!

* Trailers, Ads and More from the Original Release and Reissue of the Film

* Mary Poppins Still Art Galleries

Music & More

* Disney's Song Selection: Sing along to "A Spoonful of Sugar," "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" and any of the film's other memorable songs as the lyrics pop up on screen. Each song can be selected separately or while watching the film.

* Magical Musical Reunion: Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke and songwriter Richard Sherman reminisce about making Mary Poppins and the music that makes it so special.

* A Musical Journey with Richard Sherman: A delightful magical journey through some of the film's locations with co-composer Richard Sherman, who reveals surprising secrets about the music of Mary Poppins along the way.

* Bonus Short: "The Cat That Looked at a King": Live action and animation based on a chapter from P.L. Travers' sequel "Mary Poppins Opens the Door." Julie Andrews hosts this short done in the style of the whimsical chalk drawings from the movie "Mary Poppins." Vocal talents of Sarah Ferguson, Tracey Ullman, and David Ogden Stiers.

* Deleted Song: "Chimpanzoo": A reconstruction of a song that did not appear in the movie using original storyboard and concept art, accompanied by a new rendition of the song performed by co- composer Richard Sherman.

Specs: Video is original aspect ration of 1:66:1, and audio is 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround Sound with French & Spanish language tracks & subtitles.

Nevertheless, it is annoying. I know that companies have to make money, and the only way to do that is to have a catalog full of offerings that someone will buy, but to re-issue a movie every 5 years? Seems kind of greedy! (I wonder what they'll do for the 50th anniversary edition?)

I've also heard, from someone who should know about these things, that many companies today deliberately play down the quality of the transfers they put out on DVD, because they want the BlueRay editions to look that much better - which I also think is dirty pool!

Anyway, if you haven't yet gotten your copy of Mary Poppins, choose one of the trio below. (Well, you can choose more if you certainly like...)

Friday, January 23, 2009

Tom Corbett Space Cadet newspaper comic strip

<<<< September 2, 1951

If you follow the link above, you'll be able to see some of the comic strips.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


(With Cyd Charisse)

Actor Ricardo Montalban - who played Kahn on the original Star Trek episode Space Seed, and in the second Star Trek movie - the one that saved the movie franchise, as far as I'm concerned, after the debacle of the first movie - The Wrath of Kahn, died today also.

He was 88.

He starred as Mr. Rourke in Fantasy Island, the TV series, as well as the movies Escape From The Planet Of The Apes, and Conquest Of The Planet Of The Apes, in SF and fantasy roles, in addition to a long and illustrious career in dramatic roles.

And thanks to YouTube:

Patrick McGoohan has died

"I am not a number! I am a free man!"

Patrick McGoohan interviewed about The Prisonerin 1977, by Warner Troyer.

From the

"Patrick McGoohan, the Emmy award-winning actor who created and starred in 1960s TV show The Prisoner, has died at the age of 80.

The actor's son-in-law, film producer Cleve Landsberg, said today that McGoohan had died yesterday in Los Angeles after a short illness.

McGoohan was best known as the title character Number Six in surreal drama The Prisoner, which aired on ITV in the UK. He played a former spy who is held captive in a small village and constantly tries to escape.

He also won two Emmys for detective drama Columbo, playing different characters, with the first coming in 1974 and the other 16 years later.

More recently, McGoohan appeared as King Edward Longshanks in the 1995 Mel Gibson film Braveheart.

McGoohan, who was born in New York but raised in England and Ireland, came to screen prominence in ITV's early 1960s drama series Danger Man, in which he played a secret agent.

He was also considered for the lead role in the first James Bond movie, Dr No, before Sean Connery was cast.

However, it was The Prisoner, which aired originally on ITV between 1967 and 1968, with which he was chiefly associated, writing some of the episodes himself under a different name.

His character, Number Six, spent the entire time attempting to escape from a prison - which was disguised as a holiday camp - and trying to find out the identity of his captor, the elusive Number One. He repeatedly declared: "I am not a number - I am a free man!"

In 2000, McGoohan reprised his most famous role in an episode of The Simpsons. His last acting job came in 2002, voicing a character in animation Treasure Planet.

ITV is currently remaking The Prisoner in conjunction with American cable channel AMC.It is due to air later this year.

McGoohan's other film acting credits include Ice Station Zebra, Escape from Alcatraz, Scanners and A Time to Kill".

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Don't lie to me...

There's a new TV series coming down the pike soon, called "Lie to Me."

It's premise is, apparently, that the geniuses concerned (a British actor in the lead, the obligatory woman, and a couple of other guys) can tell if somebody's lying.

What a weak premise to base a show on!

But everyone's trying to copy the success of these "gimmick" shows, like Numbers and Crimal Minds. I see that Christian Slater's show, My Own Worst Enemy, seems to have already disappeared...

Sunday, January 04, 2009

World of Warcraft Leveling Guides

It's been a while since I've played online games, but I'd been hearing so much about World of Warcraft that I decided to give it a try.

And... it is fun!

Unfortunately it is also time consuming... and time isn't what I've got!

Nevertheless, I've decided to get involved in it as far as to be able to recommend various guides and items to others.

So, this is the first item I'll be talking about: Zygor In-Game Alliance & Horde World Of Warcraft 1-80 Leveling Guides.

This is what they promise - and deliver - according to people I've talked to:

-The Exact Alliance And Horde Leveling Paths Other People, Just Like You, Have Used -To Level Their Characters To Level 80 In Under 7 Days /Played Time
-How To Quickly Level Any Character Class Easily And Efficiently Using These In-Game Guides
-The ONLY Extremely Detailed In-Game Leveling Guides ... No Other Guide Even Comes Close To Matching This Level Of Detail
-The Key To Unlocking Your Full WoW Leveling Potential So You Can Blaze Through Levels. It's Like You Have a Leveling Guru Sitting Next To You At All Times!
-How To Subtract DAYS Off Of Your Level 80 /Played Time So You Can Spend Your Time Doing Other Fun Activies, Such As Raids, Instances, or PvP

The author of these guides is John Cook - who'se been playing the game since the beta stage, so you know he knows what he's talking about.

What makes it different from others - there's an Alliance Leveling Guide and a Horde Leveling Guide.

$50 for the entire package - less expensive than the other guides (Joana, Team iDemise, Brian Kopp) but delivers more.

(The site where you purchase these guides also has a members area (well, they all do, don't they) where you can go and talk to fellow players, get tips and just hang out.)

So check it out. The URL again is:
Zygor In-Game Alliance & Horde World Of Warcraft 1-80 Leveling Guides.

For those of you who don't know what World of Warcraft is, I borrow the first two paragraphs from Wikipedia:

a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG). It is Blizzard Entertainment's fourth released game set in the fantasy Warcraft universe, which was first introduced by Warcraft: Orcs & Humans in 1994. World of Warcraft takes place within the world of Azeroth, four years after the events at the conclusion of Blizzard's previous release, Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne. Blizzard Entertainment announced World of Warcraft on September 2, 2001. The game was released on November 23, 2004, celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Warcraft franchise.

The first expansion set of the game, The Burning Crusade, was released on January 16, 2007. The second expansion set, Wrath of the Lich King, was released on November 13, 2008.

With more than 11.5 million monthly subscribers, World of Warcraft is currently the world's largest MMORPG in those terms, and holds the Guinness World Record for the most popular MMORPG.[10] In April 2008, World of Warcraft was estimated to hold 62% of the massively multiplayer online game (MMOG) market.

Generate your own electricity.... free!

I don't really buy into man-made global warming...

Oh, I believe mankind is polluting the planet to an incredible degree, but I also beleive there's no way to stop it. While the US is being forced to cut back on everything it does... it's not like developing countries are going to stop developing - they *want* to be where we are - and if that means cutting down rainforests, driving animals to extinction, and so on, they're going to do it!

But, I am interested in saving money, so I've been scoping out various ways to save on home heating and cooling bills, and have found one here that looks pretty interesting: Earth 4 Energy.

It's an ebook, and videos (a great help) that shows you how to build your own solar and windpowered systems for your home - and if you generate "too much" energy - you can even sell the excess to the power companies. Now I like the sound of that.

$49.97 for the whole thing, and it cost $200 to build the system.... not bad to save that much in energy costs in a year.

Now if only that guy with the water-powered car engine can get that thing going!

So if this sounds interesting to ya...check it out!

Dinosaurs Walk Into New York City

"Walk With Dinosaurs" - a stage show - made its debut in New York City in July, 2008. It looks pretty cool!

Walking With Dinosaurs - the Live Show

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Dwarf legs don't move!

I've spent the last couple of weeks and a hundred bucks or so accumulating some Lego stuff- dwarfs, trolls, knights, blocks - to make some sets to animate a scene from my script of the Terry Pratchett book Thud! I call it The Summoning Dark and it'll make a great movie, if I do say so myself.

Well, the legs of the trolls move, and the legs of the knights (who I'd be using as Watchmen) move, but the legs of the Dwarfs dont' move - so how the heck am I supposed to animate them walking? Can't be done!

So I'm pretty annoyed right now, and have put that project on hold.

I'm debating whether to do a different scene, which could just be dwarfs sitting around talking - but it's a static scene, not the kind of thing to generate as much interest as the original scene I'd wanted to do. It's a scene where if you haven't read the book, or seen the rest of the movie, you wouldn't grasp the importance and power of it.

Well, I'll see if my mood improves in a week or two - I might do it...

IN any event, my 13 year old nephew will be getting a huge package of legos for Christmas next year!

Friday, January 02, 2009

Terry Farrell returns to acting

Terry Farrell - Jadzia Dax on Deep Space Nine - is returning to acting after a several year hiatus to start a family (with her husband, Brian Baker, aka The Sprint Guy).

Read about it here, and keep the second and third weeks of February free, if you're anywhere near Hershey, Pennsylvania.

Friday, January 2, 2008

Well, what can SF fans listen to today on BBC Radio 7?

The Voice of God, pt 4 of 5
Southern Australia has been devastated by an earthquake, and now Sam and Joshua have discovered that there is a spy on the base.

Pattern Recognition, pt 4 of 5
In search of more clues to the footage, Cayce tracks down the menacing Baranov.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

The Last Flight

In another couple of hours, as I write this, the Science Ficton channel is going to be showing The Last Flight, in their Twilight Zone marathon. It's one of my favorite episodes, not the least because it stars Kenneth Haigh.

Haigh, a British actor, came over to the States for a couple of years, in 1959/1960, to try his hand at American TV. (He had come over the pond to star in the American debut of Look Back in Anger, the play, on Broadway.)

Anyway, I love this episode. He also starred in an episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, called Banquo's Chair. A rather small part in that one, he plays a young man who murdered his Aunt. John Williams plays a lawyer who has hired an old woman to play the ghost of the murdered Aunt, in an effort to get Haigh's character to confess. And Haigh's character does indeed get freaked out and confesses. After he's led away, there's a knock on the door and an old woman shows up - the actress who'd been hired to play the ghost. She'd gotten lost on the way and just arrived... fade out on John William's reaction...
Kenneth Haigh today