Nerd Alert

Like many bloggers out there, I will be taking Monday off, but will be back here with new content next Thursday! In the meantime, here is this week’s “Nerd Alert” and the links that have been making me smile this week. I hope they amuse you too, and if you are here in the United States, have a great long weekend! 

1. Since its creation in 1975, George Lucas’s Industrial Light and Magic (ILM) has been the go-to company for movie special effects. Over the course of 40 years, it has worked on 317 movies – most of them blockbusters that we all know and love (Star Wars, Terminator 2, Jurassic Park, Transformers, The Avengers… just to name a few). To mark this anniversary, Wired magazine’s Alex French and Howie Khan interviewed 43 people who have worked at or with ILM over the years, from directors and producers to the company’s founders, president, and special effects designers. The result is a long-form read that tells the fascinating tale of “A Titan That Forever Changed Film.”

2. Like any television show or movie that is “based on” a well-known book, there are some major differences between HBO’s Game of Thrones series and George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Fire. While I have been able to pick out the major changes thus far, I haven’t read Book 5: A Dance With Dragons (Book 4: A Feast of Crows was a long slog for me and I still haven’t gotten over it), and know that pretty soon, I won’t be able to tell what is true to the books and what isn’t. Luckily for me, a guy named “Joeltronics” created this handy chart that plots which episode came from which book chapter. As you can see, this season seems to be veering away from the books quite sharply, but at least that means we’re all in this together now and that there aren’t too many other “Red Wedding” moments coming up. (As a book reader, it was really hard to not tell other people about that scene before it aired!)

3. If you’ve been following my “Nerd Alert” for a little while, you’ll know that I absolutely love it when people take an easily recognizable song – say, Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train” – and play it in a completely unique way – like on xylophones. This time around, the song is Europe’s “The Final Countdown” and the method of play is by banjo. The hair-metal classic was the latest song to be covered in the A.V. Club’s “Undercover” series and it was played by banjo greats Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn. Apparently, it is so good that the married duo has even started using it on their tour! Check out this video for the face-melting finger-picking action!

4. So, it sounds like the 300 Spartans Flash Mob that took over the London Underground last week was all part of an advertising campaign, but still, these pictures show that it was just about the coolest thing ever!!

5. While Mad Max: Fury Road can be enjoyed without having seen every other Mad Max film, it is part of a franchise, so it makes perfect sense that there would be some references to the movies that came before. Having only seen snippets of Mad Max (or was it The Road Warrior?) and Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, I am certainly not qualified to tell you what those homages are, but the guy behind “Mr. Sunday Movies” has put just such a video montage together. Enjoy!

6. Speaking of Easter eggs, it should come as no surprise that Brad Bird’s latest film, Tomorrowland, would include homages to the company that produced it (Disney) and the theme park that shares it’s name. Thanks to Slate’s Laura Bradley, we have a spoiler-free list of the other references that make their way into the film. Though I haven’t seen Tomorrowland yet, I have a sneaking suspicion this list isn’t entirely complete and look forward to seeing if there are any other nods that Bradley may have missed!

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