Reading Rainbow: Going Twice as High

readingrainbowReading Rainbow is an award-winning educational show which ran for 23 years on PBS. The show was designed to educate children on the magic of reading, rather than just the technical aspects of it. By that I mean the ability to build your own world via a great work of fiction, rather than simply reading and comprehending the words. That aspect of reading was sorely missing in public education when I grew up, it’s still missing today, but presenting that on television to an era which became more and more addicted to television was a stroke of genius.

The series was canceled in 2006 with reruns airing until 2009. Though the series could no longer be seen on television, classrooms continued to show video tapes when they could, and many public libraries had episodes available. In 2012, the rights to the show were purchased by host LeVar Burton and his business partner, Mark Wolfe. The classic episodes were then released on iTunes and Amazon Instant Video followed by an interactive reading app for iPad and Kindle Fire.

Today, 1 in 4 children in the US cannot read at grade-level by 4th grade, increasing the likelihood that they will fall behind or simply drop out. In response, Burton and Wolfe have launched a Kickstarter Campaign to bring Reading Rainbow to every child they can by expanding the app to more platforms (game consoles, more mobile devices, streaming TV boxes, etc) and providing it all for free to as many schools as possible. The 35-day campaign set a new record by exceeding its goal in just 11 hours, but further donations continue to flow in, and they are forming even grander plans than they started out with.

I vividly remember watching Reading Rainbow on television and checking out the videos from our public library. It’s safe to say that it changed the way I think about books for the better. Books are amazing, because you can create your own world, cast your own actors, write your own music, and more. A book is just words on paper, but you are the one who makes that world a reality. That’s what Reading Rainbow taught us, and I hope it continues to teach more children just the same.

Please donate to Reading Rainbow’s Kickstarter campaign to bring it and its message of reading enjoyment and reading proficiency to children around the world!

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Batman 75th Anniversary (Part 2)

Following the first animated short from Batman’s 75th Anniversary, the second animated short features a much older Bruce Wayne and his younger protégé Terry McGinnis (from the Batman Beyond series) as they face off against a surprisingly nostalgic cast. Can you identify all of their assailants?

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Batman 75th Anniversary

Unlike my earlier post, where I was late for Superman’s 75th Anniversary, we are just in time for Batman’s 75th Anniversary. To celebrate, DC Entertainment produced Batman: Strange Days, an animated short featuring Bob Kane’s original Batman design.

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Superman 75th Anniversary (a bit late)

I know that I’m a bit late in posting this animated short for Superman’s 75th anniversary, but it’s an amazing bit of nostalgia that I simply couldn’t pass up.

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Valentine’s Day with Batman and Catwoman

Before you settle down to celebrate Valentine’s Day by binge-watching the second season of House of Cards, here’s a true love story featuring Batman and Catwoman with music by Lolita Ritmanis.

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Wholock: Sherlock meets The Doctor

If you’re a fan of Doctor Who and Sherlock, you truly must see Wholock, a fan-made mashup in which the two fan-favorite characters finally meet. If that blew your mind, don’t miss the short behind the scenes video.

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Pac-Man Fan Film

I never thought I’d see the day when Pac-Man would be given a live action fan film treatment, but it turns out I was wrong. A feature length film is in development, and the original short film is embedded below.

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A Very Creative Star Wars Mashup

Here’s a very creative mashup from James Farr of Star Wars, Mario, Legend of Zelda, Donkey Kong, Star Fox, and many other tiny Nintendo references.

The Shadow on Spotify

I’m a fan of The Shadow. I listen to the radio shows, I saw both the 1994 film and older films, I read the current comics, and I even have a nicely detailed figure on my desk (who sometimes battles other figures, but you know how that is). I have recently become a fan of Spotify, so imagine my delight when I found an album of 20 episodes from the old The Shadow radio show on Spotify!

Spotify is a great free music streaming service if you don’t mind a few ads between your tracks, but I found Spotify Premium to be a much more cost-effective solution for myself, as I often buy far more than $10 worth of music each month. One of the other advantages to Spotify Premium is that you can download tracks on your phone (or compatible mobile device) for offline listening, so I happily flew to and from Portland last week listening to some classic episodes of The Shadow. I’m sure the folks around me either thought I was weird or a genius, not that I cared too much, as I had a murder mystery to solve (or rather listen to other people solve).

Anyway, enough raving about Spotify. If you don’t know what The Shadow is, you’re missing out, and you might as well start by listening to a few episodes on Spotify. It’s 100% free if you don’t mind a few modern-day radio ads mixed in with the classic Blue Coal ads. If you’re not a fan of Spotify, you can still purchase the album from iTunes and Amazon. You can also find some episodes not included in the aforementioned album at Old Time Radio.

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Mega Man X Fanimation

As you may have noticed, I’m a fan of the Mega Man X series of games. I love the gameplay, the overall concept, the level design, the story, the art, and they just seemed to arrive at the right point in my childhood.

Mega Man had his 25th anniversary last year, which Capcom rightfully made a big deal of, considering it’s one of their most profitable properties. What we got was rather underwhelming. Yes, we got Street Fighter X Mega Man, and the poor bot doesn’t even get top billing. Sure, it’s a clever game, but all Capcom’s hype left us with was a crossover game. No Mega Man X games in almost 8 years and no original series Mega Man games in almost 3 years, but hey, we’ve got a crossover with Street Fighter.

Fortunately, the entire Mega Man Franchise represents one of Capcom’s largest fan bases, second only to Street Fighter of course. Many fans stepped up to essentially fill in the cracks left by Capcom’s rather poor showing for the Blue Bomber’s 25th anniversary, my favorite being the following fanimation from Shane Newville, one of the animators behind Red vs. Blue. I can only hope there will be more of these in the future.