Reclaim Roadshow

The Reclaim Roadshow logo! Using this as an example for the Workshop session.

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Scramble Project Update: Fixed Chassis, New PCB, and Cabinet Painting has Begun

Now that I got my epic “Return to Reclaim Arcade” post out of the way, I can get back to some kind of normal blog rhythm. The long ones are harder and harder to write cause I am getting on in blog years. Alas, I can’t go on, I’ll go on…

The Scramble project has been nothing short of therapy for me these last few weeks. When I was back in Fredericksburg I attended to a few details around this project so that I could be done with it once I returned to Italy. This included having the Arcade Buffett do a cap kit on the Wells Gardner K4600 chassis that was the inspiration to strip the whole thing and totally redo the cabinet.

Video and synch boards for Wells Gardner K4600

Wells Gardner K4600 Neck Board

Anode and Flyback for Wells Gardner K4600

Anode and Flyback for Wells Gardner K4600

The other bit was getting an extra PCB for the cabinet, which I bought before I even had this cabinet last year. I also had a high score save (HSS) kit added to it, so now I have two working Scramble PCBs, although the one I brought back has the HSS kit.

Scramble PCB with High Score Save Kit

Finally, I picked up a side art stencil set from This Old Game so that once I got back to Italy I could start re-painting the cabinet and then replacing the generic STERN side art with the original Scramble astronaut side art.

Scramble Stencil Art From IAD to MXP!

Here is what it should look like:

I also picked up an extra power supply and wiring harness for Scramble given I was going overboard, but I left that in Virginia for now given I was already bringing back way too much stuff.

Wells Gardner K4600 mounting plate soaking in white vinegar

After returning to Italy and unpacking everything—had a scare I lost the stencil at Malpensa Airport—I was thrilled to see nothing broke. But soon after that I realized I didn’t have the metal mounting plate for the chassis that attaches it to the monitor—bummer. It’s a simple piece, but without it I would not be able to get the monitor working correctly. So, I reached out to Arcade Buffett who had an old one hanging around and sent it to Italy, which was awesome. Thanks Buffett! I’m currently soaking it in white vinegar and gonna scrub it before painting it in preparation to remount the chassis on the monitor harness.

STERN side art

Second coat of primer all but erases STERN

Speaking of painting, I finally stripped every last piece of the cabinet, which included the coin door and speaker grill, and started priming the sides to make sure there were no relics of the original STERN side art given yellow shows everything. I then took the back door to a local paint store and got the color matched. I decided to roll rather than spray in order to keep things neat.

After the second coat of yellow the cabinet really started to look amazing.

I went overboard (it’s a theme with me) and did a third on the sides and front. I also calked any joint gaps in the cabinet so the overall effect is pretty damn tight.

I am pretty thrilled with how it is looking so far, and I am about to start the stenciling this morning, which should take me a few days. But if all goes well I could have the game back together and playable in a week or so which is pretty damn exciting!

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Return to Reclaim Arcade

“Every passion borders on the chaotic, but the collector’s passion borders on the chaos of memories.”
— Walter Benjamin

In mid-May I took a trip back to Fredericksburg, which included a quick jaunt to Long Island to see family and collect a gorgeous Pole Position in New Jersey and a Pleiades cocktail my brother was storing for me. This was my first trip back in which Reclaim Arcade was in full swing. I guess the theme of this trip was continuing to map the transition from dream to fun project to viable business. We’ve been collecting games for almost 3 years now, and I consider that the dream phase. With every new acquisition the dream of what’s possible becomes realer and realer—this is a fun process given you don’t yet have to worry about managing things: you just need the time and cash to find and purchase games.

Reclaim Arcade

After that comes the fun project part. And while it is not always fun and games building out the arcade (especially when you throw in food and beverage), I think it’s fair to say Tim and I did have some fun this fall and early winter actually getting the space up and running. I wrote a bit about the trip back in October/November talking about how the space was nothing short of art, and after that Tim installed a bitching video wall. Come January we actually got this fun project successfully launched and opened at the height of the pandemic in the US against quite a few odds. Tim and I reflected on the process of opening in the moment in a Reclaim Today episode, which captures the excitement we were both feeling.

I would characterize this most recent trip back to the arcade as another shift in which we focused on ensuring Reclaim Arcade remains a viable business. This is something Tim and I are familiar with after running Reclaim Hosting for 8 years, but with that said, the arcade is an entirely different beast. While we successfully opened during a pandemic with a scaled down, targeted model, we knew that model would need to change once the restrictions were eased and things started opening back up. During the pandemic we were able to offer the entire space to private parties or public access with significantly reduced occupancy within a 2 hour block. As the restrictions began to ease in April and May Tim and I started brainstorming how to transition to a new model. In fact, it’s almost like re-opening the business all over again, which can be a bit taxing physically and psychically.

Tim documents the conversion of the TV Studio to the Arcade Party Room

Conversion complete: Reclaim Arcade Party Room

Conversion complete: Reclaim Arcade Party Room

Parties really floated us the first several months we were open, so we needed to keep those going which was part of the inspiration for my going back to help get a party room online as soon as possible. But Tim hates waiting, so he basically did most of it before I even landed. He did save the cove base for me, which reminds me of all the side jobs I did with my brother while trying to afford to live in NYC while doing a Ph.D. 🙂

Do or DIY!

Tim also painted the Reclaim Arcade logo on one of the walls that is not pictured here, and we got 4 sets of tables and chairs, some LED lighting and moved a few games in the party room hall, and that was that. In just a couple of weeks the party room was ready to be booked, if you will it it is no dream!

Spy Hunter project

Mousetrap back online after an Arcade Buffett fix

The other projects I started as soon as I got back on the ground was the long game of machine maintenance. Tim does this all the time, so when I’m back I try and do double time to ensure the video games are locked-in so Tim has less to do when I’m not there. This usually entails monitor work, PCB board repair, and various other bits like high score save kits, testing boards, cleaning games, etc. As soon as I got off the plane I picked up a Spy Hunter project machine in Northern Virginia that may come online in the next month or two. At the same time the Arcade Buffett (arcade repair extraordinaire) was at Reclaim Arcade working on a few games that need some TLC. The first night back was a doozy given I was 6 hours ahead on European time and did not get to bed until 4:30 Am Eastern US, but I like to get as much done early on during these trips because I begin to fade towards the end.

Arcade Buffett worked on the monitors for Mortal Kombat, Mouse Trap, Star Wars (although there is an ongoing issue there cause the PCB repair also resulted in no love), Killer Instinct, swapped the monitor on Phoenix, rejuvenated the Gyruss cocktail, as well dismantling the bavacade Galaxian and Defender monitors for chassis repair. He also took a gander at the Venture project, which has a dead power supply and needs some extra love. In other words, no shortage of work at Reclaim Arcade. He took 4 K4600 chassis to repair (one for my Scramble back in Italy, one for Venture, one for the Defender, and one for Galaxian) as well as a G07 that was having issues. It was a long night, but I was already feeling accomplished less than 24 hours into the trip.

This is a Defender PCB that has multiple boards, which is what I mean when I say PCBs

The next morning had me taking close to 15 PCBs down to Mike of East Coast Arcade Repairs in Petersburg to get a bunch of boards working. I brought the following:

  • Make Trax (spare board)
  • Defender (PCB from bavacade Defender)
  • Star Wars PCB
  • Super Cobra PCB (back-up PCB)
  • Scramble PCB with HSS kit to be installed (bavacade) –was working
  • Bootleg Scramble PCB –was working
  • Tutenkham PCB (backup)
  • Mortal Kombat Sound Card (backup)
  • Zaxxon (backup)
  • Missile Command (backup)
  • Crossbow PCB (backup for my Cheyenne—although learning the Exidy 440 has issues swapping boards 🙁  )
  • Galaxian PCB (backup -> Sprites are off color)
  • Pengo –was working

There may be one or two I am forgetting, but this was most of them. Three were already working so no work needed, but the rest needed to be repaired, and that ensures most of our games have PCB boards we can quickly swap out—a practice that often keeps a game online. The Star Wars repair did not fix the problem, so that is still a mystery. Also, the HSS on the Super Cobra may have been a mistake, so that PCB still needs to be looked at.

You can see the graphical glitch in the high score on Super Cobra

The Defender PCB is jumpy after getting it back, so will test it against the second PCB set we are getting repaired. The machine this one came out of is Reclaim Arcade’s Defender, and I put the bavacade Defender out on the floor running a JROK. I also took the board set out of the bavacade Defender and sent that in for repair, so we will see if that has the same issues.

The second haul of PCBs later in the trip was smaller:

  • The second Defender board set (as confusedly mentioned above)
  • The actual Mortal Kombat II board so Mike could work on the sound board (dooh!)
  • the Spy Hunter PCB set
  • the Gyruss PCB from the cocktail

A lot of work to be done, and we got lucky enough for Mike to come to Reclaim Arcade and check it out (he was a particular fan of Reclaim Video), and he took a look at the Venture and Spy Hunter machines as well. Confirming the Arcade Buffett, a rebuild of the Venture power supply may be possible, and I think Spy Hunter may be closer than we think to operational—but not sure if there is a power supply issue there as well as the PCB, but that brings us up to date on the Reclaim Arcade repairs, but that’s a never ending story.

VHS Stack as we get them in the system

With both the party room and the games well in-hand by the end of week one, I could turn to some of the other projects I needed to take care of, including organizing the laserdisc and VHS collections, moving all my personal stuff (books, DVDs, papers, etc.) into storage, all in service of getting the space ready for the next phase of work at Reclaim Arcade which includes a kitchen!

VHS Stack as we get them in the system

Getting the hundreds of VHS tapes I have bought and folks have donated into our database has been long overdue, so I worked with Sophia to get that under control and she made short work of it. I had boxes and tubs of VHS that were just waiting to be inventoried, so I put a kinda of moratorium on acquiring new tapes, but that is now lifted as my recent adventures on Ebay attest to 🙂

I should talk a bit about my recent acquisitions in a separate post, but I am starting to really fill in the gaps of the the collection, and that feels good. Reclaim Video continues to hold a special place in my heart, and I have seen more than a few folks take joy in it, not to mention the amazing moment wherein one of the extras from Nuke ‘Em High was at the arcade and asked Tony and I if we had the movie on VHS…..of course we do! Two copies in fact! He was even kind enough to reprise his role for us on the fly:

Another highlight of the trip was seeing the living room get used in some of the ways we imagined. For example, a group of teenagers who had attended a birthday party stayed around and watched Gremlins.

Teenagers watching Gremlins in Reclaim Arcade’s Living Room

That is everything to me! And Tim noted that with the new model of folks not being limited to two hour blocks we will see more of this, and I really do love the idea of the space being full and lived in!

Reclaim Arcade’s Grant Potter Action Figure

But the greatest joy for me during this trip back was seeing folks in the space and working alongside Shane, Sophia, and Tony. We got really lucky with these three, and they are an absolute blast to be around. Tony reminded us that The Empire Strikes Back turned 41 years old, and even had it playing on Reclaim Video’s VHS/TV setup, that is #4life!

There is a lot that goes into making Reclaim Arcade operational and even successful, and Sophia, Tony, and Shane are a huge part of that right now. I’m filled with awe seeing how responsible, cool, and into the Reclaim Arcade vision these three are, and it fills me with hope that it will be more than business as usual everyday at Reclaim Arcade, it will be an experience to remember! The chaos of memories can be the most generative kind of entertainment, and the possibility of creating new ones is the ultimate goal of all of this.

Posted in Reclaim Arcade, Reclaim Video, ReclaimVideo | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Vinylcast #49: Sinéad O’Connor’s I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got

Got back on the #ds106radio train this morning with a vinylcast of Sinéad O’Connor‘s 1990 album I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got, it ages well. I woke up singing “Three Babies,” thinking it was Black Boys on Mopeds, but that was my problem. I think I had Sinéad on my mind since reading about her new memoir Rememberings. Going to have to listen to that one.

It’s always fun to have folks along, and it was nice to use this #vinylcast as a way to break my post-travel blogging slump. I also chatted a bit about my arcade project as well as my recent VHS and laserdisc purchases, so all-in-all par for the course for some bavaradio, hope you enjoy!

Vinylcast of Sinéad O’Connor’s I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got on #ds106radio
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Reclaim Roadshow: This Time It’s Virtual!

Lee Skallerup Bessette reached out soon after OERxDomains21 to ask if we would be doing a workshop on Domains anytime soon given she would be taking a more active role in the project, and I imagine her recent promotion might be part of that—congrats!

So, we reached out to see if there was broader interest, and I am pretty stoked that we got such a resounding “yes.” It’s been a hard year on so many of us, but between the shot in the arm that was OERxDomains21 and the heartening realization so many good people are doubling-down on the open web. It gets me all fired up!

So, we will be running a two-day virtual workshop around Domain of One’s Own to train current administrators, give some insight to this whole Reclaim Cloud thing, talk SPLOTs, and most importantly connect folks at different schools to share the work happening across various campuses. We’ll be bringing in panelists and speakers, so you just might get the call in the coming week or two 🙂  The dates are June 22nd and 23rd, and the days will be from 11 AM – 4 PM Eastern. You can register here: https://roadshow.reclaimhosting.com/virtual/

 

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A Domains21 Two for CUNY Tuesday: Manifold & OER as Open Infrastructure

This pairing is not only because I forgot to post an OERxDomains21 session yesterday, but also because I think Domains21 was secretly the CUNY IT conference I wanted to attend. I went back to the well of awesome that is CUNY’s instructional technology infrastructure more than a few times during the conference and the discussion of their work developing Manifold with Cast Iron Coding dovetails beautifully with the broader push for open infrastructure at the largest urban college system in the US. So, enjoy this double feature from Domains21 that highlights some of the most thoughtful, elegant, and politically charged edtech anywhere.

In this session Matthew K. Gold (CUNY Graduate Center) and Zach Davis (Cast Iron Coding) discuss the origins and various iterations of the next-generation, open source publishing tool Manifold (https://manifoldapp.org/). Born out of an experiment with the University of Minnesota Press, the origins of Manifold as an elegant publishing solution for scholarly monographs morphed into a dynamic tool for reading collaboratively around a series of resources often centered, but not limited to, the text. The focus on design and the simplicity with which texts can be ingested highlights the importance user experience when developing edtech tools.

In fact, Manifold speaks to the larger movement at CUNY in which open source infrastructure has become the bedrock upon which their OER initiative is built. It is a longer history of ensuring the tools that undergird public discourse and teaching and learning are not ceded entirely to the market.

As the pandemic hit higher ed across the globe the responses were often were grounded in reaction and panic, but at the City University of New York a long tradition of investing in local talent building open source solutions for creating online communities highlights the power of an alternative vision of educational technology. Both New York State and New York City’s investment in open education has not revolved around textbooks and things at CUNY as much as it has around creating and maintaining localized educational platforms where teaching and learning can and should happen online.

This conversation explores the ways in which the City University of New York has built out an open source infrastructure using tools like WordPress and Manifold, underscoring the larger questions around “why open technologies?” this a razor sharp attention to the broader struggle in higher education around funding the mission while acknowledging the long legacy of economic austerity and students and staff alike.

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Moving Mac House: What Applications are Must-Install Furniture?

When writing about my video streaming setup a few posts back I mentioned I needed to remedy how my Intel-based Macbook Pro laptop fan goes into overdrive making all kinds of noise that kills the sound quality of a live stream. Granted it’s a beast of a machine spec-wise (32 Gb of RAM, 2.4 GHz 8-core i9), but it is hard to enjoy any major performance boost over my OG 15″ Macbook Pro circa 2015—best computer ever—when the fan sounds like a jet engine. Not sure what happened with the latest Macbook Pro design, but I must say it’s been a pretty awful experience from the beginning. And I have been feeling it doubly over the last year given how much video conferencing and recording we all have been doing this year.

More specifically on this computer, whenever two external USB-C monitors are running (even with the laptop lid closed) the computer starts heating up and the fan starts going crazy. If I add a video call, or god forbid streaming through OBS, to the mix I might as well be on the tarmac. I tried the application Turbo Boost Switcher to  disable the Intel Turbo Boost that is responsible for the overheating, and it works pretty well for everything save OBS streaming, which sucks for me.

So, all that to say I had my eyes. on a Mac Mini M1 8 GB computer (so literally a quarter of the memory) after seeing it demoed and realized it will be able to handle my setup without any issue. So, I picked one up a couple of months ago before OERxDomains21 with the idea I would make the switch in time for the recordings and everything else, but time got away from me. It was not until this weekend that I finally sat down to build my streaming audio and video setup around the Mac Mini and use the laptop as the periphery computer I take on trips, trail around the house, work in the garden with, etc. The fact that the Macbook Pro is no longer my primary work machine says it all, what a bust. I’m hoping to find a way to integrate it into my setup more seamlessly, but for now it’s in a kind of limbo.

On the other hand after playing with the Mac Mini this weekend I am pretty blown away by how fast the new M1 chip is. I streamed to ds106radio with Audio Hijack and ds106.tv with OBS simultaneously and nary a sound. Amazing, and given how bad the latest Macbook Pro intel-based chip is, how did that ever get to market? Pretty scammy. So, I’m happy, and I wrote all that to say this: so when you are starting from scratch with a new computer what apps do you install?

I wanted to avoid doing a clean copy over given I will still be using the Macbook Pro, and I have most of my files and apps managed in the cloud anyway. So, what did I need to install, you ask? Well, I made a list of everything I installed below, and I think it is pretty telling of where I am heading:

  • 1Password: Useless without it, it’s by far the most important application for managing my day-to-day for both work and personal stuff
  • DropBox App: I am not a huge fan of Dropbox, and part of this is probably cause I don’t use it all that well, but I use it enough to make transferring a bunch of files between machines easy, so it was an immediate install
  • Slack Desktop App: Basically my remote office, it’s where I do all my Reclaim Hosting work, so a must
  • Discord: I am not a huge Discord person just yet, but I have had more than a few good experiences with it this year, so I downloaded it and got it up and running post haste.
  • Audio Hijack: ds106radio #4life – installing this app reminded me why I increasingly hate Apple’s attempt to control everything I do on the machine
  • Loopback: Virtual audio device is crucial for both ds106radio and OBS streaming
  • OBS: Like and subscribe! My favorite new software for streaming
  • VLC: some old gold open source media player action, still the best
  • Elgato Control Center: This is the application for controlling the desktop ring lights
  • Handbrake (not compatible): I tried installing this OG app too because I still regularly rip DVDs, but not compatible with the M1 chip just yet, so may need to explore the edge release on Github, che paura!
  • Transmit: Still do a lot of FTP work when playing with Reclaim Hosting and Reclaim Cloud, and I like transferring large files 🙂
  • BBEdit: this local text editor is pretty much where I keep all my notes
  • Elgato Video Capture: Software for digitalizing VHS tapes, need to test it and see how it works with the M1 chip
  • Stream Deck: Software to program my Stream Deck that allows me to pre-program OBS scenes and select them seamlessly using the small switcher box

So, those are my 14 “must-install” applications, and I feel like I won’t need too many more. I am pushing into the whole video/streaming arena which is a lot of fun for me, and I should be bringing some more equipment back from the US here soon, so that will be even more incentive to keep playing.

The other thing I needed to do to make this machine fully operational for work was setting up private keys and my .bash_profile so that I have shortcuts to all the various servers we manage when in terminal. The same was true of exporting and importing the various servers I have setup using Transmit. And with everything set on the Mac Mini I’ll be reporting for work tomorrow with my new rig.

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Scramble Project: Cut the base!

…or is it hold the bass?

Nothing is more horrific than some arcade cabinet water damage

One of the bummers of the much coveted Scramble cabinet I finally secured after searching for years, is that the bottom of the cabinet’s side panels are severely water damaged. That can be a deal breaker for many given the time and attention to detail it takes to get a cabinet back to its original glory.

My eyes!

Say it ain’t so!

But let’s face it, I’m so deep into this hobby that if I can’t do the job right, I’m gonna find someone who can—and boy did I ever. Alberto is the magician behind replacing the base of this cabinet, and I’m in awe. I reached out on the KLOV forums for some advice offering the above pictures for reference, and my assumption was confirmed: the only way forward is prosthetic surgery. Given the skillset required to do it right (the detailed, thoughtful response from another KLOV member scared me straight), I decided to bring in the professionals.

Scramble Cabinet Project: Cutting Out the Water Damage

Alberto has been sharing images of his progress, and I am getting increasingly excited with every new update. The first step was cutting out the damaged area, and as you can see from the image below, the cabinet is rock solid right above that 4″ or 5″ stain of water damage. It must have been sitting in the water for quite a while because as you can see in the images above the plywood was literally peeling like a banana. And as you may be able to decipher the sides of the cabinet are about 5″ off the ground, effectively protecting the power supply that is screwed to the elevated floor of the cabinet—just out of harm’s way.

Scramble Cabinet Project: Che Gamba!

I’m thrilled with the attention to detail paid in this project, right down to keeping the original contours of the cabinet, as well as routing a line for the T-molding. What’s more the legs are screwed into the 3/4″ plywood floor to ensure they can take the 200+ pounds load of a full cabinet.

Scramble Cabinet Project: Repair In Process

You can really see the progress in the next two shots wherein any signs of surgery are all but gone, and the following shot highlights the original angle at the back of the cabinet base which enables you to tilt it up and wheel it around. Also, you get a good look at how tight the seam will be.

Scramble Cabinet Project: It's All in the Angle

I think it’s safe to say “Operation Base Replacement” for the Scramble project is looking amazing. Near-on seamless, and we (royal we, given Alberto is the magician here) will be painting the repaired area black, and then priming the entire cabinet in preparation for a complete re-stenciling of this classic to its original design glory.

Scramble Cabinet Project: Like New!

I think the bavacade is off to an auspicious start. I figure you bring in the artisans and set the bar ridiculously high from the start and things can only get even better.

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Domains21: Using WordPress Multisite During a Pandemic

Keeping the OERxDomains21 post parade going, here is a good Friday panel on one of my favorite platforms, WordPress Multisite!

This discussion featuring Laurie Miles (UNC Asheville), Shanon Hauser (UMW) and Colin Madland (TWU) focuses on how various campuses experienced the impact of the pandemic through the various tools and platforms they supported on campus.  In particular, this panel starts by focusing on WordPress Multisite but gives way to be a compelling conversation about the challenges of shifting not only online, but from synchronous to asynchronous ways of imagining teaching and learning.

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Diabolik: a Cultural Revolution Comic on Film

I already blogged a bit about using OBS to produce and stream a class visit Paul Bond and I did for Antonio Vantaggiato‘s Italian Cinema course last week. I wanted to use this post to talk briefly about the clips I chose from Danger: Diabolik and why, as well as how I used my PeerTube instance bava.tv to upload and share them post facto. In fact, I used my YouTube clone to create a playlist of clips I discussed in order to make re-using and discovering them simple, not to mention the ability to embed them here and strategically avoid any takedowns by hosting them on my own space.

Before class Antonio usually starts off with music from the film to set the mood and start the chat, a brilliant approach. So we played some songs from the brilliant Ennio Morricone film score for Danger: Diabolik, and Paul and I were heading bopping our way into the course.

After that Paul and I took a kind of “share a clip and chat about why we think it is important” approach to our reading of the film. A big part of the discussion was focused around demonstrating how Mario Bava’s visual and special effects acumen allowed him to great a truly unique film-rendering of the comic book genre, that was by extension an exploration of the contemporaneous cultural revolution happening in the late 1960s. And to make this point I started with a 40 second excerpt from the 20 minute documentary Diabolik: From Fumetti to Film wherein comic artist Stephen R. Bissette discusses the cultural context of the European super villains as heroic figures, a kind of anti-hero.

This set the stage to discuss specific scenes for their formal elements, such as the comic imagery of the opening shot that has a band of motorcycle police dressed in black leather (reminiscent of European fascism) against the backdrop of the national bank with the imposing “Hall of Justice”-like edifice:

From there Paul talks about the power of Bava’s re-rendering the pan shot to take on the formal qualities of a wide panel in a comic that slows down both the action and time. Paul’s deep knowledge of comic books made this introductory doubly fun because he is a wealth of insight into the numerous levels Bava operates on:

From there we both shared comments on the music, and the way Morricone/Bava use distortion to introduce the “hero” rather than some anthemic pronouncement. It’s almost like Neil Young was taking a page from Ennio Morricone’s score when doing the Soundtrack for Jim Jarmusch’s Dead Man (1995).

And then we both talked about the magic of Mario Bava’s special effects, and the way his visual mastery translates quite well to the comic genre. In this movie it’s literally all smoke and mirrors, and the quality of Bava’s effects still hold up, and he did the film on about 20% of the $3 million dollar budget he had: fast, cheap, and out of control!

Paul also talked about masks and the expressiveness of the eyes, not to mention super hero’s masks usually hide the eyes but let you see the face, whereas Diabolik is the opposite:

And from there we talked about the amazing set design and fashion that this film highlights, really identifying the film working on numerous levels across various domains: architecture/design, fashion, and music, and the shot of Diabolik and Eva entering the underground lair and highlighting how impressive the work Bava creates is on a shoe-strong budget was a regular refrain:

The question of the influence of the film between the Bond franchise of the early 60s and the Batman Movie from 1966 came up for discussion, and the press conference scene wherein Diabolik uses the well-labeled “Exhilaration Gas”  not only suggests a link to the contemporaneous camp of the Batman series, but also departs from that series by challenging the law and order dictates of the commissioner, something Batman would never do:

And from there we started thinking through the visual effects alongside Bava’s visualization and interpretation of the hippie/youth movement of the 1960s, stereotyped by drugs, flower children, and an impressive colorized light show providing a psychedelic romp through a fantastical Italian night club.

One of the most beautiful sequences of the film featuring the Identikit is a direct homage to the Pop Art movement, and quotes figures like Barbarella and European fashion models such as Twiggy. It really associates the film with a broader cultural revolution in aesthetic values and tastes, in many ways framing the comic at the forefront of high art—and the ways in which the characters are framed by the empty book shelves in these scenes makes the “bookcase” better than anything else in that regard. Bava is recognizing the impact of the revolution at the heart of the art world with figures like Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol.

And the next clips highlights the shift in the means of this revolution, returning to the broader theme of the anti-hero as terrorist, which is hard to argue when we learn Diabolik has blown up the financial administration buildings of the Italian government as punishment for their putting a million dollar bounty on his head. It’s hard not to see more contemporary links to 9/11 for most Americans, but I also wonder if the political unrest and violent terrorism of the 1970s in Italy might be a more direct link to the other side of the anti-hero fantasy.

There was another clip wherein Paul discussed the formal elements of comics and the sense of panels and framing when we learn Diabolik has comes back from the dead:

There was another piece before we started the film wherein Paul went through a series of screenshots highlights the various comic book elements of shots, and it was a machine gun presentation that really brought the point home.

And after that we took questions, of which there were quite a few, and then played the entire film through Zoom in HD thanks to OBS. A pretty seamless ordeal:

One of the things this got me thinking about was not only the value of something like PeerTube to share the stream post facto, but also to share all the individual clips that were discussed during the stream for folks to re-watch, study, etc. One of the questions it inevitably leads me to is how are schools managing all the various videos and video clips they both create, share, and contextualize for their community, and how are schools framing this experience? I mean an open source application like PeerTube goes a long way towards approximating the YouTube elements without all the stringent algorithmic pre-emptive takedowns, which would be anathema to the idea of fair use for educational purposes, no? And beyond copyright, where and how are all the recorded videos worth sharing presented for the broader campus community?

If the pandemic has taught us anything it’s that video streaming and their subsequent value as course/institutional resources has arrived, and I am wondering how folks are managing these resources so that they can be  more seamlessly shared not only within an institution, but ideally beyond.

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