One of the most intriguing items in the British Library Persian manuscripts collection is a small unexceptional looking volume which contains a personal record, written in his own hand, of 37 dreams of Tipu Sultan, Sultan of Mysore (r. 1782-1799). [Complete translation.]A figure of continuing interest, Tipu Sultan's depiction in a 2014 parade float was the subject of a minor controversy, revisited expansively this year in a TV news report. A video history lesson for children offers a brief portrait of the ruler, sometimes remembered for his use of rockets against the British and his anti-British mechanical pipe organ (examined carefully here, but here used to play two tunes, including "Rule, Britannia!"). [more inside]
Earth, 2147. The legacy of the Metal Wars, where man fought machines—and machines won. Bio-Dreads — monstrous creations that hunt down human survivors... and digitize them!In 1987, before he created Babylon 5, J. Michael Straczynski was a writer for Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future, a live-action sci-fi show for kids. 24 episodes were produced. Straczynski wrote or co-wrote 14 of them, including multi-episode plot arcs. A line of interactive toys brought the battle into kids’ living rooms, and Captain Power was also one of the very first shows on television to feature computer animation in every episode. But in an attempt to appeal to both children and the adults who watched with them, the campy show included some concepts and scenes critics deemed too violent for children and lasted only a single season in syndication. The full run of the show has now been uploaded to Youtube. [more inside]
I'm Remembering has pics of things that people aged 30-40 will remember from their childhood and adolescence. Who could forget Tiger Handheld games, Hypercolor shirts, Paint With Water books, Surge soda, Scholastic Book Club, Slice cola, Madballs, Ring Pops, and, last but not least, Zack Morris's cellphone?
Just over sixty years ago the Reverend W. V. Awdry told his sick son a series of stories based on real life incidents with trains, which he later wrote up as the Railway Series. Now Thomas the Tank Engine and the other engines of the Isle of Sodor (somewhere between Barrow-in-Furness and the Isle of Man) are a global phenomena, with toys, books and of course the TV series - filmed using model trains on more than 70 1:32 scale 16-by-20-foot sets, and voiced by the likes of Ringo Starr and Alec Baldwin. 2008 has been a rough year for Thomas: George Carlin, who voiced the series in the US up until 1998, passed away (previously), as did David Mitton, who had written and directed over 180 episodes (and who has previously worked on the special effects for Thunderbirds). There's changes ahead for Thomas as well - this year saw the faces of the engines, which had previously been cast in silicone and attached with double sided tape, replaced by CGI faces, and from 2009 onwards Nitrogen studios in Canada will be taking over production with an entirely CGI Thomas. Meanwhile a group of British students continues the tradition of model engine-based storytelling with their YouTube based British Railway Series.
Skeletor and Gang: What is it about the combination of stop-motion animation, He-Man action figures, and sped-up heavy metal that makes me laugh until I hurt? "Skeletor, Mantenna and Grizzlor are having a party! Oh no! Moss-Man attacks! Defend us Squeeze!"