Random Film of the Week Quickie: The Beast of Yucca Flats (1961)


It’s too hot for meatballs, but it’s going to get hotter, Tor.

yucca_MPI first saw this really awful and brilliantly bad sci-fi flick very late at night some years ago and again recently after overhearing someone in a diner hilariously recast the Avengers movies as period pieces set in the early 60’s. Yes, Tor Johnson was The Hulk in that person’s version. While you roll that around in your noggin, be warned that The Beast of Yucca Flats is a pretty horrible movie with only three redeeming factors:

1. It’s only 54 minutes or so long. Okay, it’s a long 54 minutes, so there’s that.

2. If you’re in a foul mood, you very likely won’t be in 54 minutes or so*.

3. It almost makes Plan 9 from Outer Space or Robot Monster look like Star Wars movies (which ones are up to you).

(Thanks, Alistair Knight!)

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Random Film of the Week: Doctor X (DVD)

Doctor X_02

For all that trouble setting their private and expensive game show up, no one could guess what was behind Curtain #1.

Dr. XLet’s just say that as a kid of, oh, seven or eight years old back in the 70’s, I had no idea (not a clue!) what I was watching when the local public TV station ran Doctor X so very many years ago. I do recall not knowing what was going on for a bit and some parts were wacky, but yes indeed, I did perk up when the “Synthetic Flesh” scene kicked in. Hell, I was a Frankenstein fan by then, even if my exposure was courtesy Universal Pictures and James Whale and not Mary Shelley until I read the book years later.

When I revisited the good Dr. Jerry Xavier (Lionel Atwill), and the film as I got older into my teens, elements started to click and it was all “Oh, that’s what that means!” on more elements I didn’t understand previouslyWhich of course means that as a grumpier and older old man these days, I’m all over this freak-fest like I’ve run into an old friend I haven’t seen in a while. This one’s pretty funny, pretty grim and completely bonkers. Oh, by the way, Doctor X sounds better and scarier than Doctor Jerry. That and if it were called Dr. J, there’s that slim chance a slimmer handful of folks might get fooled into thinking it’s a sports biopic (heh).

Doctor X_01

Jacket jealousy here, as Fay’s got the stripes. but Tracy’s got the tweed and they both win the fashion lottery.

It’s also a great pre-code film, what with its discussion of a few hot topics those who think “well, those old movies were DULL!” might find they’re a bit incorrect about if they ever get off that dead horse they always jump on and see a few of these films. Now a little murder? Hey, that’s fine and dandy in a film about a mysterious killer. Toss in elements like that mysterious killer who happens to cannibalize corpses, a bit of prostitution and rape as story elements, plus a few old guys sitting around talking about their fetishes (hey, that may be the most creepy thing about this to some!), and more atmosphere that you can shake a few sticks at, and you get a true classic.

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Pranking Robots Go Both Ways: Prizes + Doom Assured for All


Given that we’re merrily spinning into the abyss thanks to too many tech innovations getting out of hand once the wrong people get their paws on assorted digital keys to the kingdom, the robot apocalypse is rushing ahead full steam and right on schedule with the assistance of some humans who should know better. Still, it’s nice when one is rewarded for one’s curiosity about our future metal and plastic overlords.

Video call service Oovoo dropped off a few interesting robots around NYC a little while back as a test to see if people would react to them correctly and as you an see, only a few nailed the proper responses and were rewarded handsomely for their bravery. Nice. Be kind to that not so immobile human-shaped mechanical being and you get some nifty prizes. I kind of wish I was around Manhattan when this happened as I know the robot playbook to a T at this point and would have won something fun while realizing we’re one step closer to that technical takeover.



On the other hand, Boston Dynamics? You’re starting to scare me more than ever. BigDog was bad enough, but your new and improved Atlas robot is speeding up the nightmares of many on a few fronts. As you can see from this video, it can walk across uneven terrain with little trouble other than looking like a drunken sailor on leave which will fool and lure some fat cop right up to it in time for a disarming surprise. I bet it’s somewhat bullet resistant and has an unhealthy craving for a phased plasma rifle in the 40-watt range.

I’m also betting it remembers stuff like some jerk knocking it around with a freakin’ hockey stick while it’s just trying to do the job of a soon to be out of work American (who’ll no doubt mistakenly blame Mexico for all this job-stealing technology hen they should blame who they work for for saving money by ending those jobs over the border). I’m also betting that jerk with the hockey stick sleeps in a home with quintuple locks on the doors and a laser fence around his property. You know how that abusing your workers stuff ends up, right?

Ah, Robots… you just kill me sometimes. Um, wait – that came out wrong. Eeep.

Marvel Comics Fans: Uncle Milton (Stark?) Needs Your Aid

Uncle Milton - Avengers Tesseract 20Q - Product Image (7) 

If you’re a Marvel Comics fan, your Uncle Milton needs your assistance with a new project, stat! “Who’s your Uncle, now?” NO, not that Uncle Milton. The other one who’s still around that makes all those cool science-themed gadgets and gizmos that sometimes pop up as usefully educational gifts from time to time. That’s who! Anyway, Uncle Milton is going to be introducing the Marvel Avengers Tesseract 20Q game this coming fall and they want Marvel fans from anywhere on the planet to go HERE and help out with the artificial intelligence by playing a few games that will help the 20Q become a smarter product. Your heroic efforts will not go unrewarded, as smarter toys and games is something that makes for endless reply value.

Now, you KNOW you can trust your Uncle Milton, right? Sure, the Tesseract 20Q may seem as if it’s somewhat *sinister*, but that’s actually part of its appeal. Hey, if it does happen to have cosmic powers after all, the worst thing that could happen is you beat it once and get a free trip to Asgard. Well, provided that Tesseract hasn’t been *borrowed* (again!) and is in the hands of some nefarious would-be world eating alien presence. Which would most likely mean you may want the Avengers HQ phone number in your speed dial. Just in case.

Anyway, go test out that 20Q and make sure to follow Uncle Milton at the links below:

Uncle Milton Social Media Channels:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/unclemilton

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/unclemiltontoys

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Toy Fair 2015: (Happily) Blinded By Science!

TMSB Weather Lab Kit 

One of the best things about Toy Fair can be those moments between appointments when you hit the show floor and stumble into a story idea (or when someone stumbles into me and gives me a story idea). What usually occurs is either someone swings a product sample out that stops me in my tracks (“Whap!” Ouch. – it’s happened!), or I happen to slow down because I see something that makes me want to stop and chat with the person or people running the booth. In the case of The Young Scientists Club, it was the latter and thanks to a non-active volcano in the middle of a board game… Continue reading

SCIENCE! Nintendo Helps Learn You a Lesson To-day…

Nintendo World Water 004 (Large) And now, a tiny little science lesson for all you boys and girls out there. Now, now. Don’t run away! This is an easy lesson. Those pics above are the results of me storing a couple of water bottles from the Nintendo World Store grand opening at room temperature for nine years. *Boo!*  But also *yay!*  Oh, why am I so conflicted, ladies and gents? Because it’s SCIENCE in action, folks! Okay, well… I would have stored them in the fridge here, but let’s see now… I had a few more of those bottles and DID store them in the fridge here only to find out a bit more about how people work.

Nintendo World Water 001 (Large) Nintendo World Water 002 (Large)

You see, boys and girls, some people tend to come by to visit for a spell, look in your fridge and take stuff out to drink if you let them do so. For some of these people, small and unimportant looking bottles of water seem to be a magnet. I’d gather that some of those people didn’t want to seem greedy or imposing, so they went for the smallest thing they saw. An odd thing indeed, as I’m a pretty damn generous guy who doesn’t care what you take out of the fridge. Well, provided it’s not a bottle of water that’s hard to replace.

So, yeah… that wasn’t the best idea I’ve ever had in terms of a storage solution and Plan B didn’t work out so well either. Oh well. science is fun, though, isn’t it?

Stupid Weather Makes Me Not So Smart At Continuity…

Ugh. So, a few days ago we got a nice snowfall and today we got temperatures up a bit and a nasty rain for a good part of the day. Of course, it wasn’t enough to melt the snow and it was slippery and gray and suicidal walking weather the rest of the day. Looking outside now, the sky is an awful yellowy gray and the forecast has temperatures dropping way past freezing (as in close to zero or so in some areas). Which means ALL that yucky gray slush will turn to super slippery and super lumpy ice to skate and dance on badly by Tuesday. Wonderful. If I don’t break my head or bust my ass on the way to the library this week, I may post some fun stuff.

The ONLY good thing is I don’t have to worry about freezing my behind or other parts off because I know THE secret to not being cold when it’s very cold out. NO it’s not booze. Booze makes you drunk and colder and dead if you’re tipsy and slipsy on the icy pavement and fallsy on your head or slidesy under a moving bus skidding towards the bus stop sideways on the bumpy, lumpy ice that was slush and a few days before that, snow… Continue reading

Happy Perihelion! Go Out And Get Some Sun Today (It’s A Lot Closer!)…

(Thanks, ClassicMovieTrailers!) 

Okay, so it’s not actually THAT hot out today, but yes, today is that day where the sun and earth are closest, which may not be any comfort at all to those of us who dislike the freezing weather and wish that closer hit star would do some rapid melting of what’s on the ground while super-heating the air around so it’s… well, just like that silly film clip above. Hey, silly – actual science doesn’t work that way and besides, things are already disrupted here enough (hotter, stranger summers and colder, stranger winters have been a thing for a while now). Oh, I know Perihelion isn’t a “day” to be celebrated like a traditional holiday – it’s just a term at the end of the day. So don’t go zipping into that big box party store looking for decorations any time soon.

You can however, get a fine start on next year’s Perihelion by going out and getting a few dozen boxes of glow in the dark stars of assorted sizes and a current map of the solar system and make a heroic attempt to recreate what’s on that map on your walls and ceilings. Er,I hope you live in a REALLY big house and don’t mind guests wondering who decorated your entire place like it was a planetarium gift shop. Or you could just do what everyone else here in the US does and wait until Aphelion (which is around July 4th) and get a free fireworks show as a backdrop for that non-holiday. One of those is a lot less maddening to accomplish (in most cases)…

Fake Time Travel Takes a Big Step Backwards, But Nice Try, Flyonix!

Not Bigger on the InsideWell, I figured SOMEONE would try and make a life sized TARDIS that actually flew one of these days, but the guys at Flyonix did so and made a trio of really fun and funny professional quality videos documenting their process and the initial (and unfortunately first and only) flight of their blue boxy bird. As you can see, things didn’t exactly turn out as well as some of you would like. Well, at least they weren’t crazy enough to put a person inside, right? Of course, you Who purists might be a bit miffed that this version of the TARDIS wasn’t bigger on the inside and all that, but hey – you can only go SO far with actual reality, you know….

Of course, this probably won’t stop them from making a new attempt and yep, I want them to at LEAST get one up, flying and landing safely just so I can like to see an actual TARDIS ride pop up in an amusement park somewhere in the world. Heck, you’d think it would have happened already, but I guess since Disney or Universal hasn’t bought Doctor Who yet (and we certainly don’t want to see THAT happening, correct?) and slapped a themed section into one of their parks, it won’t be a “thing” to experience outside of some fan fiction (eek) or inventors with too much time on their hands and plenty of moxie. Wait… did I just use “moxie” in an sentence in the 21st century? Yes, I did. Time travel DOES exist!

STL Ocarina Reminds You That Tauriel Is a LOT Cooler Than Zamfir Will EVER Be…

So, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug opens in theaters today and yes indeed, STL Ocarina wants to get you in the mood for the film with a lovely little tune played by an actual elf. Okay, so it’s NOT an elf, actually… but hey, that video and tune make you BELIEVE there are and that’s all that counts, correct? And yes, you can still snap up that 6 Hole Lord of the Rings Ocarina you’ve been eyeballing. Did you know that people who play any type of musical instrument over time tend to be sharper when it comes to picking up on mistakes? Well, there’s a University of St. Andrews study that says it’s all due to learning how to play an instrument and sticking with it. Who says you can’t learn anything new these days? Now go get yourself or someone else a nice playable gift this year!