August 29, 2013, 7:01 AM — While the leaves haven't yet started to fall yet, we're approaching the end of summer as Labor Day, first-day-of-school and football season quickly approach us.
Still, there's plenty of geek-related activity going on this weekend - Phil Johnson and I discuss some potential entertainments for you:
"Martin and Claudia are lawyers - and ex-lovers - who find themselves put at risk after they join the defense team for an international terrorist's trial.
Keith: At first glance this movie doesn't seem like a geeky thing, unless you really enjoy political thrillers and lawyer action. But a part of the plot involves the use of closed-circuit surveillance cameras, and a discussion of how many cameras are installed all over London (in last year's James Bond film "Skyfall", this was used as a plot point as well). With recent news about the NSA spying on us and a general unease about surveillance cameras (although cameras were helpful in Boston in tracking down the two people accused of placing the bombs at the Boston Marathon finish line), this movie might interest people concerned about the security/privacy issues.
Phil: While this movie does look pretty good, I might recommend that people overly obsessed with the government spying on us stay away. Being reminded that closed circuit cameras are everywhere might help push a few overly zealous anti-government types over the line and cause them to take up permanent residence in the hills or in their panic rooms. No need to feed that kind of paranoia, I say. However, if you can keep in mind this is just a movie, and you find Julia Stiles, Rebecca Hall, or Eric Bana (or, heck, even Jim Broadbent) easy on the eyes, then you may want to check it out.
One Direction: This is Us
Description: "A captivating and intimate all-access look at life on the road for the global music phenomenon. Weaved with stunning live concert footage, this inspiring feature film tells the remarkable story of Niall, Zayn, Liam, Harry and Louis' meteoric rise to fame, from their humble hometown beginnings and competing on the X-Factor, to conquering the world and performing at London's famed O2 Arena."
Keith: The screaming you'll likely hear will not be from the geeks trying to get away from this suggestion (or at the theaters), but we are including this for a couple of reasons. First, both Phil and I have daughters, although they are different ages. My oldest has heard of One Direction, and can sing two of their songs, but she's not yet old enough to be in that tween timeframe where she gets obsessed with boy bands like One Direction. She's on the cusp, though - in a few more years, I have to prepare myself for whatever boy band sensation hits the world. Also, concert films never tend to do well at the box office - but might be worth a look on a DVD or streaming release down the road. Phil, what about your daughters - are they too old now for something like this or do you need to purchase some earplugs to alleviate the screaming?
Phil:My daughters (ages 11 and 13) definitely like these guys, though, I don't know if it's just because they find them or cute or they actually like their music (whenever they play their music I tend to curl into the fetal position and desperately try to tune it out). If they want to see this movie, though, (and they haven't said so yet, thankfully) mom will be taking them. I couldn't take it. They seem like nice enough young gents, but no thanks. I'll stay home and watch one of my Rolling Stones DVDs instead. BTW, this movie is directed by Morgan Spurlock, who's done some really great docs, like Super Size Me and Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan's Hope. Frankly, I'm disappointed he did this movie. The world would be better off if he did a Super Size Me sequel where he eats at the Olive Garden three times a day for a month, IMHO.
In the world of video games, Madden 25 has hit the market. Marking 25 years of video game football, Madden 25 arrives just in time for the NFL season to begin (it kicks off on Sept. 5).
Keith:If you enjoy football and video games, chances are you've played at least some Madden football in your life. Most young gamers probably don't even realize that John Madden was a famous football coach (or in those classic Miller LIte commercials in the '70s) - they only know him from the video game. I've played several versions of this game and have a love/hate relationship with it. On the one hand, it's always fun to see how the games update their graphics, player movements and getting the chance to bring your favorite team to the Super Bowl. The rise of fantasy football gaming lets you create a video game version of your own fantasy team, to see how they would perform against other teams as well. On the other hand, getting really good at this game means more dedication than I can devote to these days, at least beyond the game's "easy" mode.
Phil: As you know, I'm not a gamer, so I've never actually played Madden Football. I am, however, a big football fan and I used to love hearing John Madden as a color analyst on NFL telecasts for many years. Some people found him annoying, but I liked it when he was paired with the late, great Pat Summerall. The sound of their two voices, to me, meant a big game was on. Anyways, even for someone who hasn't played Madden Football, I realize the significance of this big anniversary. In honor of this milestone, then, I will now rewatch as many of his old Miller Lite commercials as I can find on YouTube, like this classic:
In the following "Geekend Debate" segment, Phil and I discuss whether sports fans can be considered geeks:
Keith: While this isn't necessarily a weekend suggestion per se, with many kids going back to school we're seeing a rise in the amount of parents taking photos of their kids and putting them on Facebook or other social media. I'm guilty of this as well, although I don't go to the extremes as some friends are doing - I've seen photos that not only include the kids' pictures, but the kids are holding signs with a quick statement about what they want to be when they grow up (one friend she saw this suggestion on Pinterest). It is amusing to see the kids' expressions change as they get older - the kindergarten, first- and second-grade faces are all happy, smiling and energetic - those parents of middle-schoolers and high-schoolers who participate in this ritual often get more sullen photos. I think this is a reality now for most of us - without sounding too much like a cranky old man, I remember when I was a kid - the first day of school bus stop ritual had no parents, no photos, no video cameras, and definitely no social media. Progress or not?
Phil: Now, see, when I was growing up, we definitely had the first-day-of-school-photo-ritual. So, I always enjoy making the girls line up so I can get some pics before the run off on that first day, partly because it feels like a geeky connection with my own dad. Unfortunately, he's no longer with us, but I know he would approve (as would his dad, the king of the Polaroids) of the geeky scene that unfolds every first day of school at our house. I also like that people post these back-to-school photos on Facebook, so I can see how all these goofballs are growing up. All in all, I'm favor of this increasingly geeky ritual.
Keith's Netflix suggestion: The X-Files
Keith: It's hard to believe that The X-Files debuted 20 years ago, and more than likely that you've seen a lot of these episodes. But it's worth checking them out again (at least the first four seasons) to see the beginnings of the TV movement where you can have story arcs that go beyond single episodes, and all sorts of supernatural beings and such. My favorite episodes were the ones that took a lighter approach to the whole aliens-government conspiracy angle (although those were fantastic), especially "Jose Chung's 'From Outer Space'" and "Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose". If you're feeling that you can "Trust No One", fire up Netflix and stream some of your favorite episodes.
Phil's Netflix suggestion: Back to School
Phil: Given our discussion about back-to-school rituals, this Rodney Dangerfield classic from 1986 seems appropriate. Rodney plays self-made millionaire Thornton Melon, who decides to enroll at his son's college. His son Jason is a kind of nerdy kid and has a hard time fitting in or making time with the girl of his dreams. His one friend is played by Iron Man himself, Robert Downey, Jr., who's a tour de force playing the campus anarchist Derek Lutz. Geeks should enjoy it for the flashes of classic mid-1980's computer technology and also because dorky Jason (SPOILER ALERT) eventually gets the girl and triumphs over the jocks. The movie is probably most famous, though, for the great scene featuring Sam Kinison as an overly enthusiastic history teacher:
Keith Shaw rounds up the best in geek video in his ITworld.tv blog. Follow Keith on Twitter at @shawkeith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.