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Topic Archive: Hodgepodge
All new: An Emergency Relief Fund for the Secret Laboratory

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Keep the Robots of Retropolis Running On Time!

Ah, just when things were going so well.

As we land in the worst shipping week of the year, the ten-year old computer that powers things here in the Secret Laboratory has finally sputtered and died. It was a faithful companion: I’m going to miss it. Especially because at the moment I’m typing on the creaky old laptop that I use downstairs.

That laptop really can’t handle most of the work I do. So I’m forced to build a new outboard brain.

I’ve been hoping to do that for a long time; but as important as my computer is to me, it can’t compete with things like groceries.

So this would be an excellent time to help me out, if that’s your inclination. You can always do that by purchasing merchandise from Retropolis or The Celtic Art Works; but in an extremity like this I’ll also mention that you can contribute directly through Paypal.

I’ve already ordered the things I need; I have to complete the fulfillment of my Kickstarter rewards and finish the promotion for Patently Absurd, and those tasks won’t wait. But anything you can do to help sponsor the Secret Laboratory’s new computer would be very, very welcome.

After brief airport detention, grizzy bear promises not to eat schoolchildren

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After brief airport detention, grizzy bear promises not to eat schoolchildren
By request, the recipe for Mrs. Judkins’ Czechoslovakian Sour Cream Cake

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I got this recipe from my mother-in-law that was, and its origins are shrouded in mystery and intrigue. For example, it probably doesn’t have a lot to do with Mrs. Judkins, and it may not have come from Czechoslovakia, which doesn’t even exist any more. The whole thing was probably a plot of 1950’s spies, if you ask me. But it’s a really great cake. So, by request:

Mrs. Judkins’ Czechoslovakian Sour Cream Cake

  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups sifted cake flour


  • 1/2 cup finely chopped nuts
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinammon
  • (I recommend a handful of raisins, too.)

Preheat your cold war era oven to 350 degrees.

Do yourself a favor by making the topping first. It’s easy: just chop the nuts and mix all the ingredients together. I always make more topping than this; you may find that you will, too.

Cream the butter, sugar, and eggs. Add the baking powder and salt; cream it for a few more strokes.

Fold in the sour cream and vanilla very carefully. (Why so carefully? Here’s where the spies must have been adding their explosives. But just follow the instructions because who knows what might happen.)

Add flour, folding in carefully too. (ibid)

Spoon half the batter into a greased and floured bundt pan, about 10″ in size. Cover with half the topping. Add the rest of the batter, then the rest of the topping.

Bake at 350 for 50 to 55 minutes. This cake is deceptive, as you’d expect from the product of espionage; because of the sour cream it will not seem to be baked through when you poke it with a toothpick. Some experimentation is required (and recommended).

Cool the cake almost completely before removing it from the pan. Then sift powdered sugar on top. It’s all over but the eating.

“Winged Victory” raygun now for sale at Resinator Lab

Filed under Found on the Web, Hodgepodge

Winged Victory Raygun

Hey, remember that gorgeous Winged Victory raygun I posted about late last year? Well, it’s for sale at Resinator Lab.

Winged Victory Raygun from Resinator Lab

I know you’re all excited and everything, but when you sit down and think for a moment you’ll realize that there’s really just one person who ought to have it. So do the right thing. Some kind of holiday is probably coming up; my mailing address is available. Just saying.

But in case you’re not that selfless, you can always pick it up for yourself. I’ll forgive you. Eventually. Added to which, you’ll now have a disintegrator gun… and I’m not completely stupid.

Seriously, though, how can this thing not have sold immediately? It’s fantastic.

Frederik Pohl: 91 years young, today

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Frederik PohlAnd speaking of Captain Future… or, more accurately, speaking of the Futurians and the Golden Age… why don’t you go wish Frederik Pohl a happy 91st birthday?

Labor Day Sale on Celtic Art & Retro-Futuristic Design

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Labor Day Sale!I’ll be celebrating Labor Day by laboring, which is just how I roll. But in the meantime I’ve got a pretty sweet 20% sale on much of the merchandise in my online shops – at the both Celtic Art and Retro Future sites. Through midnight on September 6 you can get the 20% discount by checking out with the coupon code LBRSALE.

Here’s where you can use the sale code:

Celtic Art & Retro-Futuristic Design
Retropolis (just the Celtic/Retro departments)
Celtic Art Books
the Retrovert

The Non-Conformists Union, Local 404

An awful lot of my merchandise is included in the sale, from my posters, blank books, and my Celtic knotwork book, to the mugs, greeting cards, gift boxes and who knows what all that you’ll find on those pages.

[tags]sale, celtic art, celtic design, retro future, retropolis, vintage, retro, posters, mugs, books, labor day, sci fi, science fiction, fantasy[/tags]

More on the San Francisco Installation of the Raygun Gothic Rocketship

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Alan Rorie of Almost Scientific dropped by to comment on my post from June about the San Francisco installation of the Raygun Gothic Rocketship – which post, I know, was a pretty hurried and incomplete one. Alan’s one of the Big Brains behind the Rocketship and as you might expect he has a terrific collection of photos. You can see some of those below, and many more at his blog.

Among the many things I didn’t know is that the Rocketship was also briefly installed at the NASA Ames Center as part if their Yuri’s Night celebration (in case you don’t know, that’s NASA’s very sportsmanlike recognition of Yuri Gagarin). Alan’s blog has a video of the ship’s raising there.

And as we see in these photos the San Francisco installation has added a "Rocket Stop" kiosk so that travelers can tap their toes waiting for the next rocket ship to take off. That’s a nice addition since liability issues are sadly keeping the ship’s doors closed for the duration of its stay.

If you get tired of waiting for the rocketship to take off, it should be a short walk up to the Maxfield Parrish mural in the Pied Piper Bar of the old Sheraton Palace Hotel. That’s at Third and Market… if we can trust my memory.

Two Returns of The Rocketeer – one real, one imagined

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The Rocketeer (Alex Ross)In its Comic-Con 2010 coverage Comic Book Resources relates even more Rocketeer news from IDW Publishing.

IDW has recently released both a recolored anthology of the Rocketeer stories and the line art “Artist’s Edition” of Dave Stevens’ original inks.

I had my doubts about the former – which, it turns out, has been well received – but I think that the latter sounds like a great insight into the original work.

This latest news is that IDW will be publishing a limited series of new, short Rocketeer stories by a wide range of Pretty Big Names:

Dunbier said “The Rocketeer” will be a standard-sized comic with three stories per issue plus pin-ups. “We’re going to start out with a four issue miniseries and then see where we go from there. There’s some pretty decent people who are lending their talents to it so far.” Those “decent people” include Mike Allred, Kurt Busiek, John Cassaday, Darwyn Cooke, Michael Golden, Gene Ha, Michael Kaluta, Garry Leach, Bruce Timm, Bill Willingham, and more. “Mike Allred is writing and drawing his, Kurt Busiek is writing a story for Michael Kaluta, John Cassaday and Darwyn Cooke are both writing and drawing their stories,” Dunbier said. “There will be some pin-ups by Geoff Darrow, Art Adams, Jeff Campbell, Mike Mignola, a bunch of different guys.”

(Scott Dunbier, Editor, via Comic Book Resources)

I have so much affection for Stevens’ work that any announcement like this makes me squirm a little. But I also know that the names in that list probably have at least as much affection for The Rocketeer as I do – particularly Kaluta, who had a hand in some of the original stories. So I feel a bit optimistic about the announcement.

I’ll be interested to see if they continue the direction Stevens took – in which our hero Cliff Secord runs into pulp heroes without knowing who they are (Doc Savage, The Shadow).

But the main ingredient that made The Rocketeer iconic, and prevented us from ever seeing more of the stories, was Dave Stevens himself. His high standards for the work made it excellent, on the one hand, and impossible, on the other. By making it more possible, will we lose the excellence? Time will tell.

A “substantial portion” of profits from the series will be donated to Hairy Cell Leukemia research. That’s the form of Leukemia that Stevens fought for several years and which eventually led to his early death in 2008.

This is one of those Comic-Con days that’s full of news releases that often have nothing to do with comics, but have emanated anyhow from the singularity that is San Diego. Among the news is a little bit about Jon Favreau’s filmed take on the “Cowboys and Aliens” books with Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig. What I really like about this one is that Favreau is again relying heavily on practical effects with just a bit of digitality to enhance them. I say “again” because before he shot to everyone’s notice with Iron Man he directed Zathura – a film I think ought to have done much better – and Zathura made brilliant use of practical effects and miniatures. I’ve sort of expected his blockbusters might have changed things and I’m really glad to see him do another film with that same old school approach.

And that led me to think about Hollywood’s endless remakes, and the fact that although I have a soft spot for Disney’s Rocketeer movie…. it wasn’t actually that good a movie and it certainly wasn’t the movie that the Rocketeer deserved. So as of today, I’ve decided that what I would really like to see would be a Jon Favreau Rocketeer film – heavy on practical effects with just a digital gloss. Like everything imaginary, it would be awesome.

I meant it about Zathura. Go watch it.

Memory Lane: Lots of Robots

Filed under Computer Graphics, Hodgepodge

My friend Glenn Price just showed me something he’s working on, and that reminded me of Andy Murdock‘s Lots of Robots. I hadn’t watched it in awhile, and before I knew it, well, that’s what I did. Now you should too.

Andy’s been pretty busy recently with his work for the National Geographic Channel but I hope he gets back to this one day.

Sadly it looks like you can’t buy the DVDs at the moment. You can’t have mine.

In Which My Arithmetic Astounds All Who See It

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Math is hard in the retro futureI’m complimented on my math so seldom that whenever it happens, I link to the place. In fact it’s happened only once. This is it.

Johanna Draper Carlson of Comics Worth Reading had her doubts about Kickstarter as a way to fund projects outside the traditional models of publication, and she expressed those doubts here; conversation ensued; and somehow my math skills came into play.

Normally that means that I count out the wrong change while a lot of people are standing in line behind me. This time, it was different.

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