Nerd Alert! Happy anniversary, Empire and Pac-Man; Animal Logic headed here

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      Welcome to Nerd Alert!, your weekly round-up of news from the world of science fiction, fantasy, comic books, and all things nerdy.

      THIS IS A BIG WEEK for 35th anniversaries. Turns out May was a pretty eventful month in 1980! Monday was the anniversary of both Joy Division singer Ian Curtis's death and the eruption of Mount St. Helens. And it was on this day in 1980 that The Empire Strikes Back first hit theatres. From what I understand, it made a little bit of money. Enjoy the original trailer, which was first shown at the San Diego Comic-Con in 1979 (and which may or may not feature a voice-over by Harrison Ford, who, based on this performance, had no business doing movie-trailer voice-overs) below:

      It's a good thing the Internet didn't exist back then, because if it did, Empire's big shocker wouldn't have been quite so shocking at all. You see, David Prowse, who provided Darth Vader with his imposing physical presence (but thankfully not his voice), nearly ruined the whole damn thing at a promotional event in Berkeley, California, in 1978. According to the newspaper clipping below (carefully preserved by Retroist), Prowse told the assembled Star Wars fans of a "possible plot", although he suggested the revelation would take place in "the second sequel". According to the article, the scene would play out as follows (MAJOR SPOILER ALERT!): "Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker...are hooked up in a do-or-die light saber duel when Luke learns that Darth is, in fact, his long-lost father." In 2010, George Lucas banned that scruffy-looking nerf herder Prowse from attending official Star Wars fan conventions. You've got to wonder what took him so long! 

      FRIDAY WILL MARK the 35th anniversary of Pac-Man's introduction to arcades in Japan. (You thought I was finished with the whole 35th-anniversary theme, didn't you? You underestimate the power of the dark side, er, I mean the depth of my obsessive nerdery!) Pac-Man came to North America in October of that year and resulted in many, many squandered hours and wasted quarters. Trivia time: the game was originally called "Puck Man" (see the graphic below), but this was changed to Pac-Man prior to its North American release to avoid the inevitable vandalism, although come to think of it, "Fuck Man" might have made for a pretty interesting arcade experience as well.

      The success of the original Pac-Man arcade game led to the creation of more than 30 licensed game spin-off, a plethora of branded products, and a couple of animated TV series. The game's addictive quality also inspired this song by Buckner and Garcia, which was a Top 10 hit in the U.S. and Canada, proving that people on both sides of the 49th parallel are united by their terrible, terrible taste in music.

      ANIMAL LOGIC, the Australian visual-effects and animation house that brought The Lego Movie to life, will be opening a studio in Vancouver. Everything is awesome about that, including the fact that, in partnership with Warner Bros., the first production headed our way will be The Lego Movie Sequel. Vancouver already has a thriving visual-effects industry, and when Animal Logic opens its local facility in September, it is expected to create 300 jobs. The Sydney-based Animal Logic, which also has a facility in Burbank, is currently in production on two other Lego-related movies, based on Lego Batman and Ninjago.

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