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May 20, 2024 26 mins

Once more, it's time for a weekly dose of Stuff to Blow Your Mind and Weirdhouse Cinema listener mail...

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Speaker 1 (00:03):
Welcome to Stuff to Blow Your Mind, a production of iHeartRadio.

Speaker 2 (00:10):
Hey, welcome to Stuff to Blow your Mind Listener mail.

Speaker 3 (00:13):
This is Robert Lamb and this is Joe McCormick. And
it's Monday, the day of each week that we read
back messages from the Stuff to Blow Your Mind email address.
If you are a fan of Stuff to Blow your Mind,
Weird House Cinema, all the episodes we do on this feed,
and you have never gotten in touch before, why not
write in? You can reach us at contact at stuff

to Blow your Mind dot com. We appreciate all different
kinds of messages, but especially if you have something interesting
to add to a topic we've recently talked about. Uh,
let's see Rob. If you don't mind, I'm going to
kick things off with a response to our series on Dust.

Speaker 2 (00:50):
Let's have it.

Speaker 3 (00:51):
Okay. This comes to us from Stephanie. Stephanie says, Hello, Robert,
Joe and JJ. Longtime listener, first time writing. It's springtime
in the Northern Hemisphere and that is why I could
not believe that zero mention was made of pollen during

the Dust series. Did I just miss it? I listened
to Stuff to Blow Your Mind at bedtime, maybe I
snoozed right through it. In my native German language, pollen
is called blutenstalb, which literally translates as flower dust. I
looked this up and the translation I got was blossom dust,
which I think means the same thing, but sounds to

me even more elegant in English. So thank you for
sharing that, Stephanie. We did briefly mention pollen as a
major constituent of dust, I think, in part one of
the series, but we certainly did not go into great
detail on it anyway. After this, Stephanie goes on to
say some very nice things about the show. I'm not
going to read all of them because it would be
somewhat embarrassing, but I will say among these nice things,

she mentions that she enjoys Weird House Cinema episode even
though she has seen almost none of the movies we cover,
and I assume from the message also means that she
does not plan to see them, and she likes that
Weird House Cinema episodes tend to be long. We will
certainly take that. We you know, like, for whatever reason

you want to listen to them. That's great.

Speaker 2 (02:19):

Speaker 3 (02:19):
I got curious about this because we actually hear this
a lot from listeners, don't we rob from people who
say they're not really interested in watching the movies themselves,
but they still enjoy listening to the Weird House episodes.

Speaker 2 (02:32):
Yeah, we do hear this from time to time. I've
not conducted account but enough that it is a trend.
It's at least a subset of Weird House listeners.

Speaker 3 (02:40):
I'm curious to learn more from fans like this, like specifically,
what is appealing to you about Weird House cinema if
you're not really very interested in weird movies or in
movies at all.

Speaker 2 (02:51):
I mean, maybe part of it is, like we watch
them so they don't have to. I don't know. Yeah,
maybe it's our witty banter. Maybe it's our bits of
film trivia. I don't know.

Speaker 3 (03:02):
Yeah, hard to say, but yeah, let us know if
you want to share your thoughts. Also, Stephanie mentions that
she likes how core episodes of the show combined things
like poetry and other sort of cultural things with the
scientific topics we talk about. And I appreciate hearing this
from Stephanie because I think this is in fact a

primary value that our show provides. There are a lot
of great science shows out there, hosted by many of
them hosted by scientists, by people with direct subject matter expertise,
which frankly, we don't have. We are not scientists, and
it took me a while to realize that. I think
one of the main distinctions of our show is that
we are not scientists. We're sort of humanities people and

arts people who love science and are very interested in it.
So we work hard and try our best to understand
the subject matter and get the technical details right. But
we approach the scientific content with a lot of you know,
with arts and humanity brains, and a lot of the
connections we make are specifically across that divide to the

arts and to literature and so forth.

Speaker 2 (04:07):
Yeah. Yeah, a lot of times, I mean, we're sharing
our research journey with you, our creative journey with you.
We become interested in these topics, and the shows kind
of about us sharing our interests. But also, yeah, we're
journalists to a flaw. We may go off on a
related tangent in a given episode, and you know, I
think hopefully that's part of the appeal of the show

as well.

Speaker 3 (04:28):
Anyway, at the end, Stephanie says, be well, and she
adds a ps saying, your editorial meetings would be fun
to listen in on. How do you decide what to
take up as a topic on the show? What is
your guiding principle, Stephanie, I think this might not be
the most riveting answer, but I think this is the truth.
Most of the time. It's literally as simple as one

of us gets interested in a subject or a question,
and we make a judgment that it would be good
subject matter for the show. So it's like two criteria,
like number one, is this interesting to us? And number
two do we think it would potentially be interesting to listeners?
And that's about.

Speaker 2 (05:05):
It, Yeah, pretty much. I mean we just kind of
go back and forth, you know, and who's sort of
taking the lead on a selection. And also I think
there's a you know a great deal of trust where
if one of us says, all right, next episode, we're
doing it on I don't know, frog feed, you know,
to the other one, we might we might initially wonder

is there really an episode in frog Feed? There might
not be, this doesn't sound all that interesting, but we
tend to trust that the other person is interested because
they have found some ankle or they have figured out
how it's interesting, and I mean it always that always
ends up being the case. Yeah, And in general we
always find that, you know, you follow any topic, you

dive into any topic, you'll find the interesting things about it.

Speaker 3 (05:48):
I'm trying to think what criteria actually end up with
us most often ruling outer a topic. I would say
the most common reason we decide not to do a
topic is that we can't actually find very reliable sources
on it.

Speaker 2 (06:01):
Yeah, that can be it, I mean, and we should
have the caveat that. There are different factors involved in
weird house cinema versus core, but just talking about core
science here.

Speaker 3 (06:10):
I was thinking about core.

Speaker 2 (06:11):
Yeah, I guess across the board core and weird House,
if we realize that a topic starts maybe becoming a
little bit too much of a bummer, that might deter
us from pushing on. But not always. I mean sometimes
it's I mean, they're necessary bummers in life. You can't
avoid all of them. But I know there have been

times where I'm like, get interested in a topic, but
then I get down to it, I was like, do
I really want to talk about this? And so that
can definitely be a factor. Also, I guess We tend
to avoid super noozy things in part because those aren't
very evergreen. They're often still developing, and if you sort
of get in line to cover it, then you kind

of you're agreeing that you're going to keep covering it.
And sometimes that's fun. Sometimes that's the case for us,
but generally we don't do those sorts of episodes.

Speaker 3 (07:01):
Yeah, it's the newsiest to most recent topics we cover.
That are the ones that I find we need to
end up coming back and like doing corrections or updates
on because like something we said in the episode isn't
really lasting. I like it better when we can give
give a topic some time to sort of get some
second and third order commentary and analysis that we can

digest altogether before we try to cover it.

Speaker 2 (07:24):
Yeah. Absolutely, so there you have it. Partial answer, right, Yeah,
all right, Well, thanks for writing in great points, great questions.

Speaker 3 (07:32):
Totally thank you, Stephanie.

Speaker 2 (07:33):
All Right, This next one comes to us from Jenny.
Jenny writes it and says it's Hi, guys. I want
to say I love the show. I've been listening for
many years. I especially look forward to Weird House Cinema
every Friday. Your recent series on dust was really interesting,
but the last episode on dust storms reminded me of
one of the weirdest days of my life. My husband

and I were living in Manly, Australia in two thousand
and eight. One morning we awoke on what appeared to
be Mars. The sky was red and everywhere there was
sunlight it was red and at first I thought maybe
it was wildfires that were too close to the house,
but there was no smell or sight of smoke. What
actually happened was a giant storm of red dust from

Western Australia was covering Sydney and surrounding areas. The dust
was high in the atmosphere and blocking the sunlight, but
was not low enough to cause is shoes on the ground.
The dust could be seen as far away as the
coast of New Zealand. It took about two days for
it to move west over the ocean. If you google
pictures of it, it's mine bending. In the Wikipedia article,
the director of Blade Runner said he was inspired by

it when making the sequel. I hope you check it out.
My other comment today is on weird House Cinema. My
background is in clothing and textiles. When you go over
all the cast and crew. It would be nice if
you would include the costume designers. Sometimes you mention the
way that the costumes play a large part in the
field of the movies, and it would be great to
know who's behind it all the best, Jenny.

Speaker 3 (08:57):
Thank you, Jenny Well, first of all, yeah, about you
mentioning the two thousand and nine dust storms in Australia.
These really are crazy to look up. So if you've
never seen images of it before, yeah, definitely give them
a peek. And I can see exactly the comparison to
specifically a certain scene or sequence in Danevilleneuve's Blade Runner sequel.

There's like, oh, is it when he's going to try
to find Decord somewhere that there's like this red environment
with just like the sky is opaque and orange, and uh,
I think.

Speaker 2 (09:31):
So, yeah, I've only seen that one once and it
was it was visually stunning.

Speaker 3 (09:39):
Also, Jenny, Yes, I agree that the costume designers play
a huge part in the look and feel of a
lot of great and weird movies. And we don't have
time in our Weird House episodes to mention everybody who
contributed to a film. There are a lot of people
who make great contributions. But I agree that in tons
of cases, especially of genre cinema, you know, fantasy and

sci fi and horror, the kinds of things we cover
more often, costume design place an especially important and underappreciated role.

Speaker 2 (10:07):
I know sometimes we do single it out, we have
done it before, but yeah, it's not like part of
the regular template. However, I will say that one of
the two possible movies that we're going to cover next week,
if all goes to plan, will definitely include a call
out to the costume people on that one. Whichever one it.

Speaker 3 (10:28):
Is, all right, But yeah, in any case where we
failed to mention a really notable costume designer in the past,
sorry for the oversight. It's going to happen a lot
because you know, films are huge projects with a lot
of people making very important contributions, and they're all coming together,
and so we do miss mentioning a lot of names
and stuff. But generally, hats off to costume departments worldwide.

They do great work.

Speaker 2 (10:51):
Absolutely, all right, what else do we have?

Speaker 3 (10:54):
Let's see? This next message is in response to our
series about meteoric iron being used to make objects make artifacts.
This is from Angelo and Angelo says, Hi, Robin Joe,
I just listened to your first two episodes on meteoric iron.
The idea of iron from meteorites being used to make
weapons reminds me of the old Conan The Adventurer animated

series from the nineteen nineties. In that series, the main
bad guy is an interdimensional wizard along with his hinchmen
from a race of shape shifting serpent men disguising themselves
as regular people. Their goal is to allow their master,
a giant snake being, to enter our dimension. The only
thing that can stop them is Conan and his sword,

which is made of star metal, forged by his father
from a piece of metal that fell from the sky.
When star medal is put in close proximity, it reveals
the true appearance of the serpent Men. Of course, when
Conan strikes them or holds the star metal sword long
enough in front of them, the serpent Men are sent
back into the other dimension from film. Throughout the series,

Conan makes friends and gets helped by other warriors who
use a variety of star metal weapons like bolas and
ninja stars. Interestingly, some of the episodes were actually pretty
close to the Robert E. Howard Stories. I wasn't sure
if you were if you were aware of that show,
but I thought it might be interesting to you. Here's
a link to the show's intro. Keep up the great work,
and I look forward to part three of the series.

Thanks Angelo, Well Angelo. I did look up the main
theme to the Conan the Adventurer cartoon, which is very talky, Rob.
Did you listen to the theme music?

Speaker 2 (12:37):
Yeah, I checked out part of the clip you sent.
This show was completely off my radar. I this was
not syndicated in my childhood.

Speaker 3 (12:44):
I genuinely can't remember if I had consciousness of this
or not. It's kind of similar to like he Man
and stuff, So I don't know if if I remember
this specifically. But the opening theme has like a lot
of narration. It's got like a guy talking who explains
the premise of the story. And I gotta say, maybe
we can feature a little clip of this opening theme

music as well. It sounds like a parody of a
nineties cartoon Theme's question.

Speaker 2 (13:15):
This sounds pretty good. I did look into it a
little bit. I noticed that the main baddie here is
like a snake wizard and in the show he's called
wrath Ammon, and I was like, oh, that sounds familiar.
So there is a thoth Amon in the original Roberty
Howard Conan stories. And then there's, of course, is Thulsa

Doom that we also see depicted in Conan the Barbarian.
This character would seem to be a combination of both
those characters. I think in the original stories Thulsa Doom
doesn't have anything to do with snakes either, but thoth
Amon does. And therefore, even the Thulsa Doom that we
have in Coden the Barbarian is also kind of a
mix and match of different elements.

Speaker 3 (14:00):
That would make sense.

Speaker 2 (14:02):
But I'm not an expert on Roberty Howard. I've only
read a handful of Roberty Howard stories.

Speaker 3 (14:07):
So I noticed something funny about the snake wizard guy
in this cartoon, which is okay, so you know, these
are all snake They're like reptile people who were disguised
as regular humans, and Conan's sword reveals their disguise and
reveals the fact that they're actually reptiles underneath their human skin.

But the leader of them is like riding around in
reptile themed attire. He's got like a reptile hood on
and a reptile sort of snake armor set, so it's
like he's giving it away. I don't know why he's
bothering to pretending to be a mammal.

Speaker 2 (14:44):
I mean, maybe they wore snake armor and then you know,
magical curse they become snake men. But they can't just
get rid of the snake armor, so they're stuck with it.
I don't know.

Speaker 3 (14:54):
I already had this fitted. This is tailor can't get
mammal armor. Now.

Speaker 2 (14:59):
It's like gives the football team the Atlanta Falcons if
they were turned into like human falcon hybrids by a
vengeful witch, Like, are they going to abandon the mascot
and get new uniforms? Like no, No, They're just going
to magically disguise themselves as humans and keep wearing Falcons gear.
That's gotta be right, all right, Well, thanks for writing
in about this. I'm always delighted to learn about. In

this case, you animated series that I had never heard of.
But this is fascinating. All right, this is a fun one.
This one comes to us from Jeff. Jeff writes and
it says, greeting science humans. I think we've heard from

Jeff before I seem to remember that that opening, Jeff says,
I actually saw Highlander two on a date. Oh it
did not go well. I was making grumbling noises throughout
as they showed the earthly named MacLeod and Ramires on
another planet. Ramires space alien, familiar with spaceship and teleportation technology,

but confused by trucks, etc. And was in physical pain
by the end of the movie. I had been talking
it up beforehand, the same actors and director awesome part one,
this is going to be great. When it was over,
I was outraged and demoralized. But my date didn't see
the problem. She thought it was no worse than any
other testosterone sci fi action movie and couldn't figure what
all my sulking was about. That she couldn't see how

bad it was drove me crazy. The fact that I
considered highland Er two to be an appropriate date movie
in the first place speaks volumes about who was truly
at fault here, but that's another matter entirely. In the
early days of the IMDb, back when the wounds were
still fresh, Highlander two and Plan nine from Outer Space
would swap places for worst reviewed movie in the entire database.

I used to say that it was the most powerful
movie I had ever seen. It had the power to
warp time and alter history, souring the first film through
simple association. I generally appreciate a revisionist take on famously
bad movies, but this one hits too close to home.
I still enjoyed your episode, though, to this day. When
I see candles lit for loved ones in a Catholic church,

particularly in the case if the candles have been replaced
with flickering light bulbs and I can smack the top
of them, I'll channel my inner Clancy Brown and quietly
laugh as I pretend to snuff them out with my
open palm when no one else is around.

Speaker 3 (17:23):
Of course, Yeah, come on, now, don't be disrespectful in
a church, even if you're celebrating your fandom of Highlander.

Speaker 2 (17:30):
Yeah, come on, it's holy ground, holy grind. It continues
at any rate, given that you spent two episodes on
that soul crushing sequel, I am slightly less embarrassed about
nominating perhaps my favorite crap best of all time, nineteen
eighty two's Tron for the weird House treatment. I'm not
even sure I want you guys to dissect this personal
treasure and somehow it actually feels too wholesome for the show.

But allow me to make the case. All right, now,
I got it. We got a list of pros and
cons here. It's pretty long, but I'm going to it. Pros.
It's another film from the peculiar era where the Disney
Corporation had burned through all of Walt's ideas and was
desperately trying to remain innovative and relevant, taking big chances
with varying results. Black Hole returned to oz et cet

all right, Jeff Bridges, Jeff Bridges, and David Warner. Spectacular
sound design sample included wonderful orchestral analog electronic score by
Wendy Carlos, perplexing ludicrous costumes in an echo of the
what are You crazy? No adult is going to sit
still for a ninety minute cartoon snow white naysayer story.

This was a huge bet on CGI in the era
where the very idea was laughable. Let's see okay more
pros A bizarre and never replicated style created by blending
actual CGI with classic animation, lighting, set design, practical and
film effects, all aimed at visualizing a world most people
had no interest in seeing in the first place. Cons
it's a terrible film.

Speaker 3 (18:54):
I've got some thoughts about this, but let's continue with
Jeff's first.

Speaker 2 (18:57):
Okay, the making of documentary included on the DVD is
maybe more interesting in the movie itself. Their tools were
so primitive they could scribble XYZ coordinates and pencil on
graph paper facts the documents across the country, and then
they had to wait days or weeks until they saw
the result printed on film. They didn't even have video
monitors for the computers. The live action scenes were augmented

manually on a frame by frame basis. Mistakes caused by
unconventional use of film created aberrant images, which they leaned
into within universe explanations, adding to the beauty and weirdness.
When this movie came out, it was rare for anyone
to own a computer or even use when at work,
and most people were not familiar with even the simplest terminology.
As a kid, I thought this film speaks to me.

It helped that most adults, including some of the cast,
found it incomprehensible. It is somewhat embarrassing to admit how
much it shaped my life. And career. I have watched
it dozens of times and know most of the dialogue
by heart, or at least did at some point. But still,
it's a really bad movie. I'm pretty sure I knew
it even then. It was never a movie you could
show to a regular person and expect them to enjoy it.

But it is a fascinating, attempted moonshot of a film,
filled with naive energy, both enthusiasm and skepticism for near
future tech, and a lot of really bad dialogue and
really bad acting by anyone not named Jeff Bridges or
David Warner. And I would argue that while it might
give it a run for its money, it's not worse
than Highlander two. Probably. Okay, that's my pitch. Thanks for

your time, Jeff.

Speaker 3 (20:26):
Well, Jeff, I don't know if I agree that Tron
is a very bad movie. I certainly I do think
there are some things about the script that don't really
work as intended. Some parts of the movie are more
exciting than others, but I agree with your list of pros,
and I think they carry it a long way. Of course,
I love the main hero and villain. David Warner and

Jeff Bridges are fantastic. I also love the computerized villain
of the Master Control program and the way he manipulates
his underlings. There's particularly a scene that is burned into
my memory where the Master Control system is taunting David
Warner his hinchman and says something like He's like, you know,

what if I were to slow down some of your
compute cycles? And David Warner says, no, I need that,
And so it's just great. I love the music, you know,
The Wendy Carlos score is fantastic. I have aired many
complaints on this show before about movies that are too
reliant on CGI, but that's mostly aimed at modern CGI

that is attempting to look realistic. I think tronon actually much.
I agree with your comments actually about the visual style
of Tron. It embraces the limitations of early CGI in
a way that makes for a very unique and stylish
visual flare of its own. So I like the way
CGI is used and incorporated along with the traditional animation

and live action in Tron. So I agree there are
a lot a lot of the weaknesses I think are
kind of things in the script that that could have
been tightened up and made to work better. But but overall,
I think Tron is a success, and and I really
like a lot about the you know, just the aesthetics
of it.

Speaker 2 (22:14):
Well, I have I have not seen the original Tron
in a very long time. I have, I've seen the
sequel far more recently. I've played discs of Tron far
more recently than I have seen the original Tron. So
I don't know i'd be up for giving it another look,
for sure. I think I had the story book with
the audio casset as a kid, and that's probably the

main thing I remember about Tron. But the sequel is
really cool to look at. So I think I can
definitely feel you on this idea of early CGI. Yes,
but creating, not attempting to create the real world, creating
this artificial world, and therefore there's something okay about it. Now.
I don't know how you would feel about applying these

same thoughts to either film and the lawnmower Man franchise,
but I imagine you could make a similar case.

Speaker 3 (23:04):
Okay, I think that's genuinely different, lawndwer Man. You would
have to you would be finding the diamonds in the
rough there that actually is bad. But I would defend
the core quality of tron It's fairly high.

Speaker 2 (23:17):
All right, all right, I'm buying it. I'm down for
some tron at some point if we want to do that.

Speaker 3 (23:22):
Just want to say another thing that the Jeff mentions
about the movie that is good, and I totally agrees
that it has good sound design, just like the sound
effects for say, the light cycle races are very cool.
Like we can maybe get a little sample here if

you've never seen. At the premise of Tron is humans
get sucked into a video game world where they must
compete within these video games that people are playing in
like an arcade, and they don't even realize that there
are like little sentient beings down there inside the you know,
planes and cars they're piloting around on the screen and stuff.

And so the light Cycles is like a puzzle action
game where these motorcycles are racing around and they draw
a line behind them as they drive, which turns into
a wall and you can crash into the wall.

Speaker 2 (24:14):
Yeah, it has some really cool vehicles and stuff in it,
for sure. I remember the solar sale type vehicle being
pretty cool. I guess it's not quite a solar sale.
It's more of a laser sale vehicle, and I don't
remember what it was doing or why it was doing it.

Speaker 3 (24:28):
I think they're using it to try to escape the
computer at the end. Okay, Yeah, this is Tron. He
fights for the users.

Speaker 2 (24:37):
Well, they have another one on the way. There's a
twenty twenty five tron Aries coming out, so get excited.
It's got Jeff Bridges in it, and also Gillian Anderson
and also Jared Leto, so let's do it.

Speaker 3 (24:54):

Speaker 2 (24:55):
Also, as for the high Lander feedback, that's exactly what
we asked for. It was great to get a little
more a little more insight into where people were when
Highlander two came out and hit theaters. You know, the
excitement mixed with the surprise and the confusion and indeed
perhaps the anger. So yeah, thanks for writing in about that.

Speaker 3 (25:14):
I mean it taught you a valuable lesson about not
building movies up too much before you see them.

Speaker 2 (25:19):
Yes, And I think it's always important to realize that
a good movie is something special by whatever standard you're
using to measure it, you know, and even just just
dealing with your own personal like, you know, if a
movie is feels special to you, that's great. But don't expect,
don't count on a sequel occurring at all. And then
if a sequel does happen, you know, if it's as

good or better like, that's amazing. It doesn't happen all
that often.

Speaker 3 (25:47):
Really, Okay, should we wrap it up there?

Speaker 2 (25:49):
Yeah, let's go and wrap it up. We're going to
close the mail bag for today, but keep them coming.
We'd love to hear from you here in the Stuff
to Blow Your Mind podcast feed Listener mails occur on Monday,
Core episodes on Tuesdays and Thursdays, Artifact, Monster fact or
an Ammalius Dependium on Wednesdays and on Fridays. We set
aside most series concerns, just talk about a weird film
on Weird House Cinema. If you want to support the show,

the number one thing you can do is subscribe and
make sure you're getting downloads. Wherever you get those downloads,
wherever you make those subscriptions, such as Apple or any
other place helps us out, helps us, helps keep the
show's lights on.

Speaker 3 (26:22):
Huge thanks as always to our excellent audio producer JJ Posway.
If you would like to get in touch with us
with feedback on this episode or any other to suggest
a topic for the future, or just to say hello.
You can email us at contact at stuff to Blow
your Mind dot com.

Speaker 1 (26:43):
Stuff to Blow Your Mind is production of iHeartRadio. For
more podcasts from my heart Radio, visit the iHeartRadio app,
Apple Podcasts, or wherever you listen to your favorite shows.

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