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WarGames (1983)
A movie of its time, mandatory viewing for hackers
31 January 2008
One important piece of reality in this movie is when David Lightman looks for the computer game company, and stumbles across WOPR, by using a program that automatically calls every number in an area looking for a carrier. Such a program was called, after this movie came out, a "Wargames dialer" or a "Wardialer". And today, as well as old fashioned wardialing, we have wardriving, warstrolling, warchalking... war everything else, because of this movie. And have you heard of the annual hacker convention, held in Las Vegas, called.... Defcon? There are, of course, factual problems with this movie, some of which one just accepts as necessary to the ploy. When David plugs the speech synthesizer into his computer, he explains that the computer isn't really speaking, just interpreting the text that's coming in. We can't have an entire movie just looking at a video screen, so we accept that. But then at the end, Joshua speaks the climactic lines of the movie in the same voice, which makes no sense at all. The way that Joshua could find one character at a time of the password never did wash. And the paper clip method could only make a local call.

The nuclear freeze movement was certainly quite strong in the '80s, more so than many today realize. I hope you understand what "freeze" means, because it's not the same as disarmament. It means: lets just stop throwing money down this black hole by stopping the nuclear arms race where it is. Who cares if they can reduce us fine powder and we can only reduce them to sand. Ronald Reagan outmaneuvered the freeze movement with all that SDI nonsense, which was just another excuse to waste money and extend the arms race into space. With Reagan, it's hard to tell, of course: maybe he really thought it was a "purely defensive" system, that could "make nuclear weapons obsolete". When the Soviet Union finally collapsed, there was talk of a "peace dividend", in which the obscene amount of money previously spent on the arms race could actually help people at home. There ain't too much talk about that now, with the "War on Terror", which is a war about as much as the War on Drugs or the War on Poverty, and just about as successful.
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Allow me to set you guys straight
21 February 2007
This is something I happen to know a little bit about. I saw the alleged coke sniffing episode, it is called "The Littlest Tramp". I was fortunate enough to record it off the air. It was actually shown twice before they got in trouble, and then edited in further showings (quite different from "never being seen again"). There is a British video cassette collection of New Mighty Mouse available only in PAL format; I have seen it and the alleged sniffing has been editing out. If you watch the cartoon, wait for him to say these words: "I know someone else like that". You should immediately see the pink powder fly up his nose. If you see Mighty staring at a fire or something else, the scene is missing. I saw John K at an appearance at the Seattle Art Museum. He said that he was the director, Bakshi was the producer. Both of those guys can say that it was a symbolic flower all that they like, that's their perogative. I say that if someone sniffs powder up their nose, it is a drug reference. It also seems to me that the show went on for quite some time after this happened.
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Skateboard (1978)
If you're into skating then you gotta see this
7 January 2006
This movie is worth watching when there's skating on screen; too bad there's isn't more of it. Most of the screen time is taken up with the stupid, predictable plot, and I, too, found myself thinking that the stupid dialouge must have been improvised, plus I can't figure out how they managed to make 35mm film look so bad. Manny reminds me of the park owner from Kiss meets the Phantom, a fat loser frantically running around trying to figure out what's cool and then cash in on it. Perhaps more beer or bad behavior from the kids would improve this movie, too.

It's worth watching this just to spot Tony Alva (I can't believe he's in this turkey) and to see what skaters looked like in 1977. This movie was already a curiosity when I taped it off TV in the 80s.
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The Star Wars Holiday Special is beautiful!
24 May 2005
Apparently I am in the minority here, but I loved the Holiday Special when I was 10 years old and I love it now. I am somewhat shocked to hear so many folks say that they even hated it as a kid. I was in TV heaven for two hours and it only increased my Star Wars mania. Obviously that was the whole idea: we had all seen Star Wars and we were eagerly anticipating more. This two hour long commercial delivered enough to keep me going. When the imperials ripped the head off Lumpy's Bamtha, I was livid!

There are certainly things about the show that bother me now, things that I did not see as a child. Han Solo's confrontation with the Stormtrooper is ridiculous.... apparently they didn't even have the budget for laser blasts! And when Han says "Just our luck to materialize in a fleet of tie fighters", and there they are, that is just lazy writing, or maybe they didn't have any other footage?

If George Lucas doesn't like me having this show then he can lump it. Does he want all my Star Wars toys back too? Buying this tape at a convention was like rediscovering a toy I thought was lost. There is nothing about the Holiday Special that precludes it from being part of Star Wars continuity. As far as I'm concerned the events in the special happened. (The singing is a bit difficult to explain though.) You can't just make a two hour movie and then take it all back.

See, the movies are all "tightly edited", we sure don't see much every day life. I think we're all in agreement that the Holiday Special is much the reverse! We see Chewbacca's family sitting around waiting for him and playing with a bunch of toys. We see the other characters going about normal activities. We see them all relax. We even see an erotic virtual reality experience long before such an idea became commonplace.

The commercials that came with my copy are, of course, worth the price of admission alone. Toys like the trail tracker van and t.o.b.o.r. Women sticking their butts out for "Sheer Indulgence", panty hose with panties built in? A promo for "Flying High", a sleazy show about airline stewardesses, jokes that one of the characters "has a great layover". LAYover, get it? The CBS Newsbreak is full of fear mongering about the Soviet Union. An ad for the local news keeps saying "Fight the frizzies, at 11", until finally, the sound on the clip is botched at the beginning, so it just says "...Frizzies, at 11." That's what passed for news back then folks!

It sure does seem like they just didn't take the Star Wars Holiday Special very seriously when they made it. That's what the viewer has to do; relax and have fun with it. You must admit it's a lot of fun. Watch it at Christmastime, hell, make it a tradition.

So is Mark Hamill wearing a ton of makeup because he's already had his motorcycle accident? I was under the impression that it hadn't happened yet. Also, I am looking for a better copy of the the Holiday Special, maybe one with different commercials.
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