Few people have heard of it, yet many consider John Blankenbaker's KENBAK-1 to be the first commercial personal computer.

Koss introduced these headphones over 40 years ago, and they remain affordable favorites to this day.

MST3K Is Back (Sort Of...)

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It's hard to believe that it's been 17 years since I saw my first episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000.  I was in film school, it was a beat-up tape multi-generation dub at the lowest quality, and I felt like it was made just for me.  For those of you who might not remember, MST3K showed old monster movies along with 50's era educational shorts (provided by film archivist Rick Prelinger, no less...).  In the corner of the screen you could see the silhouettes of Joel (or Mike) and his robot pals making fun of the movie out loud.

Newmanoutstanding2At first I was resistant to their riffing.  I thought that in some cases their belittling every movie messed with the charm of many low-budget schlockfests.  As a lifelong "riffer" myself, I thought that the country was crumbling around my ears when the youth of America couldn't be bothered to come up with their own sarcastic barbs for bad movies. 

Boy, was I ever wrong.  Their comedy writing was so clever, so multi-layered - in some ways reminiscent of the brilliant work of The Firesign Theater.  More importantly, in their ten years on cable TV they marched out dozens of retro monster movies that I never would have even heard of otherwise.  MST3K's unique formula put them on the list of the best 100 TV shows ever in TV Guide, and the show's rabid fans have waited for years to see what's next.

Joel Hodgson and much of the original cast have gotten back together to create Cinematic Titanic.  They're being a bit mysterious about the specifics, but they promise that December will see the premiere of a new movie riffing "delivery system" with a lot of MST3K's best brains (that's a bit of a joke there...) behind it.  You can sign up for their mailing list and read more about it at their site.

Rifftraxlogo Mike Nelson, head writer and host of the show for its last five years, has a riffing project of his own.  Along with other MST3K cast they've created RiffTrax, a download service that lets you buy MP3's to play along while you watch a movie.  It's a novel idea, since it lets them riff on current major studio movies they would never be able to secure the rights to.

Nelson Hopefully this flurry of activity in the movie riffing field will see lots of creative new barbs at the movies that really need it.  It'll be especially interesting to see how they handle current films - there are a lot of stinkburgers out there.  RiffTrax has already covered the odious Star Wars prequels, and hopefully Cinematic Titanic will put their pedigree to similar good use.

Joel Hodgson & friends at Cinematic Titanic
Mike Nelson's RiffTrax

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