Sunday, November 29, 2009

Trade Post: Justice Vol. 1-3

I remember back when Justice was announced. I think it was my first week or so at Wizard. I can't remember if I was actually there when they printed the news or if I read about it in the issue that had just come out, but they announced Alex Ross's Justice League comic at the same time as the All Star line that would go on to include (and possibly end with) the fantastic All Star Superman and the ridiculously over the top, but still lots of fun All Star Batman and Robin. I stood outside one of the side doors of the old building while talking with someone about it. We were trying to figure out if it was just an Ultimate rip-off, but decided no, it would be interesting. Might as well make some books that don't require 20 years of continuity knowledge for people to check out.

It's funny how things worked out. By the time Justice finally started coming out I had forgotten that it was originally mentioned along with the All Star books and also that it was out of continuity. I remember being really confused after a few issues, especially when retro Supergirl and grown up Dick Grayson as Robin and kid of gave up on the series. I was done with Alex Ross' obsession with the Super Friends and comics from the 70s that I haven't read. But over time I acquired all three Justice trades and just read them all in two days and I really liked the series.

Maybe it's that the Justice League books have been pretty lackluster for, well years now. Ever since Infinite Crisis and probably a little before that, the team hasn't really had a sense of gravitas or stability that it deserves (and I'd rather give up the gravitas for stability, like with the JLI era). Maybe it's that I'm sick of seeing the greatest superhero team on earths standing around, looking at pictures around a table and being forced to look at their symbols. Maybe it's that lame events that no one cares about keep upsetting potentially interesting stories. Maybe it's that I keep being shown HOW the team came together instead of why they exist. But Justice doesn't seem to suffer from any of those problems.

Yes, it is steeped in Satellite-era Justice League sentimentality, but not necessarily continuity. Like I said, I've only read a handful of comics from that era, but I didn't have trouble following any of the beats. Of course, I've been reading about these characters pretty consistently since that time, so I don't know if this would be a great book to pass to a newbie, but it might be worth a shot. Anyway, the story follows the League's reaction to a group of supervillains (mostly members of the Legion of Doom, not surprisingly) seemingly turning over a new leaf and helping people. It's of course a big ruse by Brainiac, Lex Luthor and Gorilla Grodd, but it does feel like an epic story. And since it is an alternate universe or whatever you want to call it, you really don't know what will happen to the characters.

I'll be honest, I'm surprised with how much I liked the book. Like I said, I'm getting sick of the Super Friends nostalgia, but Ross and co-writter and penciller Jim Krueger used it is a spring board instead of a crutch. And really, that's all on the surface. Yes it's an old JLA team that you're maybe not familiar with and yes, the villains are the Legion of Doom, but it's not a goofy story by any means. Our writers also take time throughout the 12 issues series to give almost all of the big heroes their cool little moments. I really liked their take on Martian Manhunter's society and them making Aquaman seem cool (something Peter David did a while ago, but, like I said, that was a while ago). They don't do that thing where characters talk about how awesome a character is, instead, they show you why you should care. I think this is the one comic that really showed me why Barry Allen and Hal Jordan are cool.

Plus, you can't talk about an Alex Ross comic without commenting on the art. While I've been finding a lot of his covers (especially the JSoA stuff) too rich in pastels, Justice feels like his classic 90s work. Unfortunately, there don't seem to be as many Easter Eggs as their were in Marvels or Kingdom Come, but the figures all look very solid and impressive, which is exactly what you want in a comic filled with larger than life superheroes. We even get spreads featuring the Green Lantern Corps and the Legion of Super-Heroes, which were my wallpaper at various times when I worked at Wizard.

I also have to complement DC on putting these trades together. They probably could have been more economically put together in 6-issue arcs (or even one big 12-issue volume) as opposed to the three, but the story does seem to have been broken up into a three act structure that benefits from the breaks in the trades (though, again, economically it sucks, but if you're not worried about economics, check out the Absolute edition on its way out, if it's not already out). What DC should get credit for is including Batman's "files" in the back of the trades with sketches and art by Ross. I know most/all of this stuff was included in the comics themselves, but it's nice to see that material make it into the trades, especially if you didn't buy the issues. If nothing else, I learned that Giganta was actually a gorilla who could grow. The silver age was weirdsville you guys.

So, if you missed out on Justice when it was first coming out, gave up on it early like I did or avoided it completely because you thought it was too retro, I'd recommend giving it another shot. It's a great big, epic superhero story that offers up a complex story filled with twists and turns that all makes sense in the end. Oh, and the art sure is perty.

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Oh, DO go on.

Thanksgiving Scene: Night Of The Demons (1988)

Like last year, I intended to watch a good deal of horror movies on my inlaws' FearNet, but without my wingman, I wasn't able to keep myself up long enough to get through anything other than Night Of The Demons on Thanksgiving night. NOTD focuses on a bunch of kids who decide to have a Halloween party in an old mausoleum. As you would expect, there's a demon in the house who starts inhabiting the teens. It's not a great movie and probably one better watched with a group of people as it has plenty of hilarious lines and tons of bad acting. I will say that the directing and special effects are pretty solid though. So, maybe with a better cast, this would be a better movies. Oh well, hit the jump for the live blog.

*Pretty sure I haven't seen this one before. Checking it out on the inlaws' FearNet, I didn't even know it was still around. Too bad they don't have wireless here.

*This is ANOTHER movie with a kid hiding in his sister's closet while she changes only to scare her. THAT'S NOT OKAY!!!

*The meathead boyfriend is pretty hilarious. As is his interaction with Judy's brother.

*Woah, that is definitely a nice ass bending over in the convenience store while her friends steals shit. Like, TONS of shit. I think there's also a girl showing her boyfriend exactly which kinds of pads she likes to buy. Hilarious.

*Damn, that ass's face isn't too hot.

*It's fun watching a horror movie actually set on Halloween. I can think of the Halloween flicks and Trick r Treat. Maybe I just haven't seen a lot.

*"Are you dating her for her personality? Because she has big cha-chas." - Judy's little brother. Are all little brothers obsessed with their sister's boobs? Damn, this kid is annoying. I'm hoping for a graphic evisceration.

*I'm also hoping for some pretty terrible stuff to happen to the ass in the pig nose.

*This feels a lot like The Funhouse actually. I think that's the movie with the kid hiding in his sister's closet. You've also got the set-up with two couples meeting up to go somewhere. I know that's not a lot in common, but it's still there.

*Haha, I know it's lame, but the car with what I assume our heroes in it pulling up to the stranded pig-man car (his name is apparently Stooge, ugh) and asking "Need a hand?" and then clapping had me chuckling.

*Wow, this is one of the worst bits of exposition explaining the crematorium they're using "Biggest one in four counties." What a weird bit of information to know. Are there stats? Also "I can't believe we're partying here."

*"A brick wall on top of an underground stream? That's a feat of engineering genius." "Ghosts can't move over running water." They're really mainlining you information.

*Though I like that it's set on Halloween night, it doesn't really feel like Halloween. Though, to be fair, the Halloween presented in ET seemed completely foreign to me too. I had no clue people trick or treated in the day. We only ever went at night.

*Wow, these guys are NOT good actors.

*Oh man, I should see if Rob wants a "best/worst parties in horror movies" list for TR. In this one, they party to a song about computer dating.

*I just noticed that, like TrT, most of the girls in this are dressed like fairy tale characters: Alice in Wonder Land, Peter Pan (?), the Wicked Witch (?) and whatever the girl in the pink is supposed to be.


*I actually kicked around the idea of having a similar party in run down building near where we went to college, but after walking through it on a highway cleanup and realizing there weren't any floors, decided it would be a bad idea. Also, we would have been caught in a second as, like I mentioned, it was on the highway.

*Something weird happened when Stooge chased the black guy into the other room. I'm guessing bad touching.

*GAH, why does FearNet run commercials? Especially for Ninja Assassin? That hardly makes sense, but I do want to see this movie. That was a pretty long commercial.

*Now they're doing something called a "past life seance."

*Woah, the demon thing in the mirror was pretty creepy. Why are they angry at the chick who noticed the mirror was falling. That was the slowest mirror fall I've ever seen.

*Shooting the scene through the broken pieces of mirror on the floor with the cast all lined up in just the right spots was pretty rad.

*Uh oh, there's a giant vault in the basement. I'm guessing they'll foolishly open that and then die. Nope, the demon opened it himself.

*Oh, cool. The demon's invisible, but they can hear something and spell something. Now it's in pinkie.

*Stooge just called his mom his old lady, but that's supposed to be your chick. Old man is your dad. took me a while to get that straight in my head.

*Goth girl is trying SO HARD to deliver her lines about the house being possessed and what the difference between possessed and haunted is, but it's just not working.

*Hey kids, here's a tip, when someone at your party in a possessed house has a sudden change in voice, it's probably a good idea to bounce.

*Sorry Canadian Tuxedo dude, but demon possessed pink chick would rather do Stooge. It's probably for the better. Oh wait, she seemingly possessed Goth Girl, so you should be good while the two couples go off and explore.

*Haha, now one of the kids is talking about how this place has been haunted since the early settlers were around.

*I kind of want to punch the obvious Final Girl (Judy) in the face. She's awful.

*Uh oh, the black guy and the Goddess chick are trapped in. She thinks they've all died and are in hell. He's looking for the gate. Ah, her name is Helen and now she's disappeared.

*Aw, Jay left Judy in a room after she shot him down.

*Yeesh, Pinkie (Suzanne) looks pretty terrible all possessed and what not. Sorry Stooge, you might be getting fucked, but it's not in the good way.

*Anyone that ever says something like "I've never had sex in a casket before" and doesn't finish it with "and I never ever want to" can't be friends with me. Sorry.

*Suzanne pushing the lipstick into her nipple is pretty crazy.

*The Suzanne demon's voice sounds like Dr. Claw. The effect of her squeezing Don Johnson kid's eyes out was pretty cool.

*Feels like the shit is finally hitting the fan. Pretty much everyone is either dead, a demon or knows there are demons. Cool.

*I like this concept of the demons not having a full run of the house. Since they have physical bodies, they can't just float through walls. Though, that doesn't really explain how the gate disappeared or how seriously locked the door is (though, really, it could just be locked from the outside).

*Judy's mini freak out after getting attacked by the severed arm in the room with the dead versions of the people boning in the coffin is hilarious because she's a terrible actress and so are the people popping out of the coffin and awkwardly moaning and sorta kinda grabbing after her.

*This movies seems pretty well directed and written, but the acting is just craptastic.

*Canadian Tuxedo went out like a champ man. Gah, just let Judy fall black guy and save yourself.

*Hey, Sal's last name is Romero, creative. Since the grave popped up they seemingly can alter reality. I'm surprised his last name wasn't Raimi with all the steady cam shots and pancake makeup ghosts. If we're going to reference our references, lets at least be honest about it.

*Uh oh, Judy wants to open the big giant vault door that the demon phased through. This could be really good or really effing bad. Oh God, it's the crematorium.

*Why do the demons have vampire teeth? Wait, why can't the demons just ghost through the door and possess them?

*Haha, how come Halloween ends at dawn and not midnight? Also, this feels very much like April Fool's Day with the whole "AFD ends at noon on April 2nd thing or whatever.

*Haha, I love how instead of warning Judy, Roger just bolts anytime bad stuff happens around them.

*Looks like everyone's a zombie demon thing now.

*Haha, this time Roger just leaps through a window. Gotta love this guy.

*Yeesh, thy've got to climb up barbed wire to get up the wall.

*Roger, maybe it's time to cut your losses and make a break for it. Aw, good for him, he came back for her even though she's being pawed at.

*How the hell do you explain this to your friends' parents who are now missing children?

*Also, hey, the black guy made it through a movie!

*Haha, what?! What a weird ending. We go back to the old guy who said the kids were going to hell earlier (I think it was to Judy who was actually trying to help him with something). Anyway, his wife cooks an apple pie that he had put razor blades in, then, as his throat rips open she says "Happy Halloween." Hun wha???? It was a great effect though.

Oh, DO go on.

500th Post

Hey gang, sorry for the lack of posts this week, but the missus and I traveled to New Hampshire for the holidays. Hopefully you all got the perfect amount of pumpkin pie over the holiday, I had to settle for this tiny one I picked up at Building 19, but on the plus side, I did read through a bunch of trades of which I will have reviews up soon and even live blogged a movie called Night of the Demons, which will be going up right after this (I brought my laptop, but her folks don't have wireless, and their computer chair isn't the most comfortable, so forget it).

Anyway, to celebrate this 500th post, which I'm sure no one but me really cares about I wanted to share my brief blogging history with you. UnitedMonkee was launched back in March of this year with a post called Why Hello There, but it wasn't my first foray into the world of blogging. In fact, a good chunk of the posts on this blog were actually copied over from a blog I had while working at Wizard called Kickin' It Old School (you can read all the KIOS posts under the label of the same name to the left). I was actually walking with former Wizard internet czar Jim Gibbons. We were walking towards the New York Comic Con and I asked if I could do a blog for the Wizard site. He said sure, but asked me what it would be about, so I told him I'd think about it. A little while later I came at him with the idea of a blog that looks at older material as opposed to the up-to-date stuff most of the other blogs zeroed in on. The scope would of course open up, but that was the original idea. That first post went up May 9th, 2008.

For the longest time I was actually very anti-blog. Who cares what I have to say about anything? Well, not too many people at the moment, about 50-100 each day, but that's a whole hell of a lot more people who would listen to me ranting in my house every day. It really grew on me and I've become a huge fan of the medium. As you can maybe see if you go through the older posts (from either KIOS or UM), I've gone back and forth trying to figure out the best way to actually write something and present it. I'm basically learning as I go and I hope you guys are enjoying it.

So, what does the future of UnitedMonkee hold? I've got a crack design team (Rickey) working a new logo that combines the awesomeness of monkeys, beer and his art. I'm also slowly working on a sight redesign through WordPress, but it's slow going as my patience is running low. Any designers out there want to give a hand? Drop me a line. Also, like my October-wide Halloween Scene posts, I want to do the same with Christmas this year. I'm sure that won't bring in as many younger readers, but I'm hoping my reviews of White Christmas and Holiday Inn might bring in that ever-present elderly readership I'm trying to nail down.

Well, that about sums it up, hopefully this was interesting to a few of you. If not, give it a second and the Night of the Demons live blog will be up. Followed soon after by my review of the Justice books. I'm just waiting to see if the Steelers break my heart or not tonight. I'm thinking they might, but hoping the rag tag group of scrubs they've got in there can pull it off. Dixon just ran it in for a touchdown!!! They're up! Okay, gotta finish watching this, have a good one!

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Oh, DO go on.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Turkey Day

Hey everyone, hope you had a good Thanksgiving, ate plenty of mashed potatoes and stuffing and enjoyed watching some pretty one-sided football games (I hate the Lions for sucking so bad, damn them for making me root for them with my eyes closed so tight). If you get the reference, bonus points for you. Posts will probably be pretty few and far between this weekend, though I do feel a creeping urge to write a bit about my history with Black Friday shopping (or as we used to call it, Day After Thanksgiving shopping). Maybe tomorrow after getting up early for breakfast and then coming back while the ladies go shopping. Also, that'll be my 500th post! Crazy, right?

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Oh, DO go on.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

NYC & LA Movie Marathon: 7 Movies From Both Cities

I watch a LOT of movies. More so than usual since I'm unemployed/work from home. Netflix really has become my closest friend which is both sad and technologically impressive. Anyway, I like to watch movies or shows while I work on freelance, which means I'm not always giving them 100% of my attention, but enough to do a series of mini-reviews. I've been trying to figure out some thematic similarities between the movies I've been watching (like the otherwise unrelated Dr. Horrible and Angel of Death from the other day). It wasn't until I was watching Last Action Hero today which takes place in both New York City and Los Angeles that I realized that a big chunk of the movies I've watched recently are set in one or the other. So, what the hell? Even though they're mostly unrelated, here's a look at seven movies I've watched in the last few weeks set in these places. Hit the jump for the incredibly entertaining reviews.

First up, New York, both because it's a place I'm semi-familiar with and it contains the movie I watched first.

F/X (1986)
As long time United Monkees know, I watched F/X 2 a little over a year ago and had a great time with it. It was a fun little action movie that didn't seem to take itself too seriously and had fun with the concept. The original is a bit more straightforward and intense that I was expecting, with Cocktail's Bryan Brown taking on an assignment from the government to make it look like a mobster (Jerry Orbach) gets killed so he can testify. Turns out he gets double crossed and things go downhill from there. Brian Dennehy still stars as the one guy trying to help Brown's character and the two team-up to take out the bad guys and win the day, using plenty of Brown's special effects tricks. It's a cool movie, but definitely not as fun as the sequel.

Not only do Righteous Kill and F/X share a common setting in the form of NYC, but they also share something in the form of awesome actor Brian Dennehy. In this case he plays lieutenant to Robert De Niro and Al Pacino. This review absolutely contains SPOILERS, so if you don't want the movie ruined, skip to The Muppets Take Manhattan. Anyway, the whole plot of this movie revolves around De Niro's seeming confession to being this killer of guys who fall through the cracks of the criminal justice system. We even have video footage of him confessing. But, it turns out that the video is Pacino making him read his (Pacino's) diary. See, throughout the movie, they're only referred to by their nicknames, so when De Niro reads a real name, we don't actually know who it is. I found the twist to be a fairly interesting one that would probably make sense on further viewings (less High Tension and more Usual Suspects). Personally I liked watching these two veterans working together in a fairly tight script that brings in the talents of 50 Cent, Dennehy, John Leguizamo, Donnie Wahlberg and Carla Gugino. Definitely worth the NetBox watch in my opinion.

I must admit, I'm not a huge Muppets fan. That's not to say I don't like them, I just don't have the history with them that a lot of people my age seem to. My only childhood memory of them is from Muppet Babies. After that? The video they did with Weezer. So, it was kind of on a whim that I watched The Muppets Take Manhattan on NetBox and I had a great time with it. The story follows Kermit and the Muppet gang who are fresh out of college (seems like that would make a great movie premise itself) and taking their show to New York to get it on Broadway. After several failed attempts to get the show made, Kermit kind of blows up at his friends who all decide he would be better off if they told him they got other jobs and moved away. This leaves Kermit in NYC, working in a diner and still trying to get the show made. He, of course, succeeds eventually, only to get in an accident that leaves him with amnesia and taking a job as an ad exec, Mad Men-style. I had a ridiculous amount of fun watching this flick and trying to figure out if I'd ever been to the parts of the city Kermit was walking around (I'm guessing so, though the place has changed quite a bit in 25 years). I also really enjoyed the flashback that spawned Muppet Babies. It made a lot of things make sense. Now, I've got to check out the rest of the movies.

Holy crap, I loved this movie. I just watched it today (well, yesterday at this point in the early morning) and had so much fun with it. See, it's a fictionalized history of Def Jam records back in the 80s, but starring a ton of their artists like Run-DMC, the Fat Boys, LL Cool J, Kurtis Blow, Rick Rubin, Sheila E., the Beastie Boys and New Edition among others. I only really started exploring hip hop within the last five or six years, but that exploration has heavily included Run-DMC and the Beasties. I also had a couple Fat Boys tapes back when I was a kid (I'm guessing around the time they got huge, musically speaking, because I vaguely recognized a track or two in the movie from those tapes). That combined with my fairly recent viewing of VH1's 2009 Hip Hop Honors which focused on Def Jam really made this movie interesting for me. There's a lot going on in a fairly limited amount of time, but I feel like the director did a good job of balancing the main storyline of Run-DMC thinking of jumping form the Krush Groove label and the B-story of the Fat Boys trying to make it big. If you're interested in early hip hop at all, this is a must-watch flick. I was also surprised to find out that director Michael Shultz also directed past UM reviewed movie Car Wash and a few movies I didn't get around to reviewing like the epic Last Dragon (SO awesome) and Cooley High (surprisingly depressing).

New York To LA and Back

The movie that inspired this entire entry starts off with a kid in NYC who loves Arnold Schwarzenegger movies getting sucked into movie-LA and eventually bringing the fictional Jack Slater back into the real world. I don't want to sound like a broken record, but I really loved this movie. I remember watching it with my grandparents back around the time it came out on video and thinking it was kind of dumb. But, see, now I've seen most of the movies it tries to spoof and had a much better time with it (I'm guessing my grandparents also thought it was dumb, but I bet they never said anything). The kid calls out all kinds of late-80s, early-90s action movie cliches, trying to convince Slater that he's living in a movie. What I like is that all aspects of the story are interesting and I guess the credit for that goes to world renowned scriptwriter William Goldman (whose book of scripts including Butch & Sundance, Misery, Marathon Man & The Princess Bride is sitting mostly unread on my shelf) who came in and did a rewrite after Arnold insisted on it. Credit should also be given to Die Hard and Predator director John McTiernan who did a great job of mixing the comic and action elements. Sure, the kid's acting can be a bit thin at times and maybe over-the-top, but I think it works, especially (maybe only) if you're a fan of these kinds of movies. Oh, it also features a cartoon cat voiced by Danny Devito, how can you go wrong?!

Now On To LA

After watching several movies about cops getting new partners (Dragnet, The Rookie, Lethal Weapon (the latter two soon to be reviewed on their own), it's funny how similar they end up. This one has dandy Dolph Lundgren and Brandon Lee teaming up to take down crime in LA's Little Tokyo. Soon enough, something minor leads them to something huge and our heroes have to put a stop to it. I'll be honest, I wasn't paying a lot of attention to this one, but I still enjoyed the weird aesthetic of it. See, Lundgren loves Asian culture, while Lee only knows martial arts because his mom made him take lessons and otherwise doesn't care. When I was a kid I always got this one confused with Big Trouble In Little China. That doesn't really mean anything, I guess. On another note, Wayne's World's Tia Carrere also stars in this movie. On another nother note, the director Mark L. Lester also directed the more-fun Class of 1999 and Commando.

Hey, guess what? I've had a surprising amount of luck watching movies lately. Case in point? Alien Nation. I added a few sci-fi movies including this one a while ago and decided to give this one a shot. I remember seeing the TV series randomly syndicated when I was a kid watching late-night TV but had never seen the movie, which stars James Caan and Chicago Hope's Mandy Patinkin. Kind of like V, Alien Nation is based around an alien race that is welcomed to earth and begins to be integrated into society, though basic stereotypes still exist. These aliens were bread to be slaves though. Like with Showdown, this movies focuses on cop Caan being saddled with Newcomer (that's what they call the aliens) Patinkin. As the two learn about each other, they find out about a much bigger plot to addict the Newcomers to drugs and have to put a stop to it. I really liked James Caan in this flick. I guess I haven't seen him in too many things, but I liked his every man approach. I haven't seen a ton of his movies, but this made me want to do so. It also made me add the TV series to my Netflix queue, though I was it was on instant watch. I don't have incredibly high hopes because it got canceled after one season, but it did spawn a number of TV movies. Anyone familiar with them?

So, that ends my cinematic tour of NYC and LA, though I'm sure I'll see another movie or two set in one of those places before the end of the week. I've enjoyed my brief stay and wish I would have taken more pictures, but what are you gonna do?

Oh, DO go on.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Star Wars Musical Instruments From England

Okay, so the Eigenharp Alpha isn't actually from Star Wars, but you can definitely see the similarities between it and an instrument or two from Figrin D'an and the Modal Nodes. I stumbled across the video below of three dudes playing these things on YouTube and think I've found a brand new musical obsession. According to the EigenLabs website, the version on the left here is called the Eigenharp Alpha and has, well, I'll just copy their own description:
"Available in a variety of finishes, it has 120 highly sensitive keys, 12 percussion keys, 2 strip controllers, a breath pipe and numerous pedal inputs. This gives almost endless possibilities for flexible keyboard layouts, fast instrument switching and expressive musical control. The comprehensive software system provides a wealth of musical performance features, including playback of its own native instruments, many common software plugins, soundfonts or midi instruments."

Pretty cool, no? I've been fascinated by electronic music ever since I heard the crazy mixes of Fatboy Slim back in the day. Since then I've been wanting to pick up a drum machine and some kind of turntables (I've recently been looking for MP3 versions, but more for funsies than as a serious buyer). This thing looks like it would be the perfect instrument for someone trying to get their feet wet. I also like how, since it's so brand new, there probably aren't as many rules you're supposed to follow when it comes to playing it.

The only problem so far is that it runs over $6,000. Compared to a really nice guitar, that's not too bad, but I bet a lot of people might shy away from that because it's a brand new instrument.

In the good news department, there is a smaller version called the Eigenharp Pico which boasts "18 playing keys and 4 mode keys, a strip controller and breath pipe, the smaller Pico has the majority of the playing features of the Eigenharp Alpha." This one translates to a little under $600 by my calculations (and by mine, I mean Google's).

Of course, considering the fact that I'm mostly unemployed and trying my hand at this freelance writer thing, I won't be purchasing an Eigenharp for myself, but if you faithful readers wanted to band together and order me one for Christmans (or if Eigenharp wants a review) I'd be more than happy to accept this generous gift. Oh and perform at your parties. I'm sure I'll pick it up pretty quickly.

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Oh, DO go on.

Monday, November 23, 2009

I Kind Of, Sort Of Liked The G.I. Joe Movie

In an interesting twist of fate, I had just found out I was getting the DVD for G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra (2009) from Netflix the very same day we recorded the podcast for War Rocket Ajax. Those of you who have listening to it might remember the long conversation that some of the guys, including my buddy and Topless Robot honcho Rob went back and forth about the ridiculousness of the movie. And yeah, it was ridiculous. Like Rob said, this is the world's greatest fighting force and they send only a handful of guys to defend Paris. But, like I said, I kind of liked it.

Now, please understand, this isn't a great movie. I'm not even sure it's good, but I had a good enough time watching it. When I was a kid I loved G.I. Joe. I remember watching the cartoon, but that's not where my memories come from. Those would be from the toys. I had a pretty good number of action figures, vehicles and playsets all of which I would spread across my living room floor and play with for hours. We also had a fireplace made up of individual rocks, so that was the perfect place for some epic battles as well. Anyway, seeing as how all the toys (or guys as I used to call them) were tossed into a shoe box, I didn't really know what their names were and I played with them long past when the cartoon was done, so they were just "the Cobra Viper who's painted orange and blue" and "the guy with the beret." I would also play with my older cousin's Joes when I would visit my Grandma in Cleveland (as well as his Transformers), so there were even more characters I played with but didn't really know.

All of this is a roundabout way to say that I don't really have a connection to the Joes as characters. In fact, the three most recent incarnations I've encountered were the animated movie (SO weird), the Devil's Due comic World War III (fantastic) and the first trade of the Marvel comics (boring). So, even now, my experience with the characters is pretty much "Cobra Commander is an ass," "Destro makes weapons," and "Snake-Eyes doesn't talk, also likes guns and swords." That's a way of saying that I didn't care that the characters probably didn't line up with their animated and comic counterparts. That doesn't mean that I liked the idea of all the characters being inexplicably linked to each other in complicated ways. Duke used to date Baroness. The eventual Cobra Commander is Baroness' brother. Storm Shadow and Snake-Eyes knew each other as kids (that's in the comics though, right?). I remember there also being talk of there being a romantic relationship between Scarlet and Snake-Eyes, but I didn't really notice it in the movie. Oh and of course Ripcord had a thing for Scarlett (though who wouldn't?).

The action scenes were fun and over the top. That's the kind of craziness I like. Heck, I even dug the accelerator suit chase scenes. Maybe it's because I went into this movie expecting absolutely nothing and knew I wasn't going to get insulted like some nerds do, but for the most part I liked it. Having watched it about a week or two back, I can honestly say that it has mellowed better than Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen. I liked Transformers 2 while watching it, I've had a lot more questions and concerns after watching it, but G.I. Joe still feels about the same.

Oh, one thing that did bug me about the story was the whole turn of character with the Baroness. It's too bad they wouldn't let her just be an awesome villain. Take out the nonsense linking her to Duke and Cobra Commander and you're fine, because you don't have to explain anything away (why she turned bad). She should have just been bad the whole time. So, not only did we get robbed of the potential awesomeness of Cobra Commander as a villain throughout the whole film, but we also get the Baroness taken away from us as a rad villainess. It's really too bad. Hopefully, screenwriters will start treating these propoerties like the rich source material they really are and make big action movies that are both fun and good. We shall see.

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Oh, DO go on.

Live Blogging The Big Bang Theory

I first learned that Battlestar Galactica star Katee Sackhoff was going to be on this episode of BBT while writing the Big Bang Theory Geek Translator I did for (by the way, my latest TV column for them went up today, just saying). It was a good episode, but not an excellent one. I had fun with the prank on Sheldon and his retaliation, plus his interplay with Leonard and Raj, but the Howard story felt a little off. Would he really tell her he doesn't want to commit? Bernadette is crazy hot. Ah well, everyone stumbles sometimes. Hit the jump for the live bloggy goodness.

*This nerdy girl is super cute.

*Ooh, Howard, you should been a little quicker with your answer about wanting a relationship. You could be hitting that on a regular basis at least for a short time.

*It's hilarious that these nerds don't know the three date rule.

*"Are we talking 'date' the social convention, or 'date' the dried fruit?" - Sheldon.

*Cool, Sheldon's gonna be on NPR. Haha, and it's pledge week.

*It IS much catchier in Hindi Raj.

*I wonder if Howard will ever punch Sheldon.

*"You, Raj, talk to me." - Penny. Good one Penny.

*Makes sense that Howard thinks he'd end up with Megan Fox and Katee Sackhoff.

*"You'd have better luck with the three breasted hooker from Total Recall." - Leonard. Haha, they WOULD be saggy by now Howard.

*Aw, poor Leonard. They're being so mean and he's right there.

*Ah Kripke, pumping Helium into Sheldon's office is pretty cold. But damn, that's hilarious. I can only assume Sheldon's revenge will be even better. Or it'll accidentally cure is speech impediment.

*"Always nice to be part of your masturbatory fantasies." - Dream Katee Sackhoff.

*I never watched Battlestar Galactica and don't get the deal with her.

*"I hope that's all you're doing, we share that tub." - Howard's mom.

*Oh Raj, your Lollipop Guild joke was awesome, but way too soon.

*Seeing Sheldon defeated is pretty depressing.

*"I didn't come to help, I came to mock." - Raj

*First he wants to poison Kripke, then use a Whoopie cushion. Find something in the middle dude.

*Haha, Penny says Howard just missed Wonder Woman and Scarlett Johansson.

*Wow Howard. That's desperate even for you. I can't believe he proposed!

*I want to make foamy vengeance!

*I knew it, Sheldon's revenge is fantastic, assuming it's Kripke who enters. Oops, there's other people there.

*Oh Sheldon, you never admit to pranking someone. I hope this doesn't come back to get them all fired.

Oh, DO go on.

An Interesitng Trend In Reality Shows

A few months back, I wrote a post I never published about how I think the term "reality show" is thrown around a little bit too liberally. Most of the shows we watch that are dubbed as such are really just game shows. Amazing Race? Game show. Survivor? Same thing. Real World's a reality sow. So is anything Dr. Drew does. Anyway, that's not really the point of this post, but it is related. This whole trend of voting people off of shows and sending them home has been bothersome to me since Survivor hit so many years back and Road Rules felt the need to adopt a similar concept.

I understand that you need to get rid of people in competitions for money and even for dating shows, but any shows that purport to help people grow or learn should keep people around for long enough to "fix" them (yeah, I know that the odds of someone getting real help on a reality show probably isn't the best, and also that these competitions also usually involve some kind of financial prize. I'm not saying that people shouldn't be removed from such shows, but I don't think it should necessarily be a requirement. If Ray J likes all the girls on his show equally, let him keep them all. If all of the Next Iron Chefs really kill it, keep them around and see how they do next time. People will screw up. Sometimes several at a time. Just watch any Real World/Road Rules Challenge for the proof (the last episode of The Ruins saw four people head home, two who broke the rules, two who lost challenges).

So, I was happy to see three different reality shows that recently launched, all with the mission statement of helping people out in various ways, which are not falling prey to the same old boring format that every other reality show seems to subscribe to. First up, Bravo's Chef Academy. The whole idea of this show is for people to learn how to cook with this big time chef. They're not necessarily trying to be big time chefs, just to learn how to cook. Each week they're given a lesson and a test on that lesson and they either pass or fail. If you fail three times, you're out of the school. This format feels a lot more organic than the same-old, tacked on one you're used to whether you watch cooking competition shows or not. Plus, I like the main chef guy, he's fun and dude LOVES Columbo.

I also checked out a VH1 show called Tough Love. It's the show's second season and features a matchmaker taking a bunch of lonely women in and teaching them how to find a man. I'm sure the actual show synopsis is more concise and less offensive, but you get the idea. Anyway, since the point is to teach these women how to break out of their shells and learn how to attract the opposite sex, it would seem counter-intuitive to dump them once a week throughout the season. So far, they haven't said anything about eliminations and I didn't watch the previous season, so I'm not sure what the deal is. I could see him kicking out some of these broads who are clearly stuck in their ways and not listening to his advice (ladies, calling yourself by an alias and forgetting your dates name are surprisingly not-good when dating).

The third and most obvious non-elimination show is Dr. Drew's Sex Rehab on VH1. As you might expect, this shows features several people who may or may not be celebrities who are dealing with sexual addictions. While in the program, they must abstain while also going through the therapeutic process. But, if they don't, it's not like they're going to get kicked out, even though I'm sure I'm not the only one who wants to punch a few of them in the face.

So, I'm hoping that this branching-off from the formula that's been brainlessly pounded into every reality/game show of the past 10 years. People give the genre a lot of crap and a lot of it is deserved, but hopefully we'll see some imagination put into this things that doesn't involve making people eat strange things.

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Web-Based Shows On DVD: Dr. Horrible & Angel of Death

In an odd twist of fate, I watched two DVDs made up of material that was originally intended for the internet. First up, Em and I watched Joss Whedon's Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. I remember when it was coming out online, but I wasn't really high on Whedon at that point because I didn't love Astonishing X-Men and I hadn't yet watched Firefly, so I didn't mind skipping it. But, after watching through Buffy all the way through again and really enjoying the Firefly/Serenity world, I put the DVD on our queue. Of course, after the slew of horror movies I watched in October, it got pushed back. Anyway, we finally watched it and both really liked it.

But really, this thing was designed for us to like it. It's written by Whedon and stars two guys from shows we both love: Neil Patrick Harris from How I Met Your Mother and Nathan Fillion from Castle and Firefly. Plus, there's singing, which Em loves. And superheroes which we're both fans of. So, yeah, you couldn't get much more inside our wheelhouse. I'm sure everyone's already seen it and I'm the last person on the planet to check it out, but I will say that the ending really surprised me. Here you think you're watching this fun, light goofy movie and then kablammo. I guess I should have expected it from Whedon (this is the guy who now has me looking at every horror scene and trying to figure out what the twist will be - the GIRL is the vampire, not the guy!). But still, wow. I didn't see that ending coming.

The other web-based movie I watched was Angel of Death and this one was completely random. I added the movie to my queue solely because Zoe Bell is in it and I find her incredibly attractive and she's an ass-kicker, so I figured it would be a good action movie, even though I wasn't familiar with it. And yeah, even though I didn't like Death Proof and I'm still not sure if I like her acting (I can't tell if her delivery is off just a tad or if it's just her accent), I was still excited. Then I popped the DVD in and it said "Ed Brubaker's Angel of Death" and I freaked out a little bit. I can't believe I haven't written more about Brubaker on this site, but his Captain America is one of the greatest long-term comic book series' of all time. You're doing yourself a disservice by not reading that comic.

So, I did a little searching online and remembered when this thing was coming out. I guess it was webisodes or whatever. But, watching it all together on the DVD, it really did feel like a movie instead of a serial. Plot-wise, you've got Bell playing a hitwoman who gets stabbed in the head and starts feeling bad about accidentally killing a little girl, so now she goes on a revenge kick killing the bad guys. I can't say I was paying 100% attention, but I didn't really have to. Aside from Bell, Doug Jones and Lucy Lawless were in it. Ted Raimi's also in it, but I honestly didn't see him. I really should pay more attention.

Anyway, I'm torn about the movie. It's nothing spectacular, though it LOOKS fantastic. Like I said, it doesn't feel like a web-based series (though neither does the Totally Rad Show podcast, so take that for what it's worth), but it also doesn't feel like the high caliber of story I'm used to from Brubaker. Maybe that's because his comics deal in genres that aren't as popular in comics as they are in movies. The noir thing is pretty common in films, but not comics. So, Bru writing a noir/70s-ish movie doesn't seem as groundbreaking as his comics. To be fair, though, I probably should give the disc another watch (I'm not going to now though).

I also watched a few of the special features on the DVD (there are a good number) which were kind of interesting. There's a whole feature about Bru which is cool, though listening to Bell call him a geek is both funny and a little cringeworthy. I also had a much more curmudgeonly view of Bru from my days at Wizard, though he was incredibly nice the time I talked to him for a big Captain American retrospective Wizard did about three years back. I guess you just assume he's grim and gritty because he does that so well, but in the doc he comes off as a dude whose dream is coming true by being able to jump from comics to movies and I certainly can't blame him. As a hopeful comic writer myself (I've finally getting some outlines together for submissions) he's absolutely one of my heroes and I can only hope for a career (if it happens) even remotely similar to his. Well done Ed!

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Oh, DO go on.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Jimmy Fallon Twilight Hilarity

Aside from what I said over here, I don't really have an opinion on Twilight. I do however find many of the spoofs about it funny. This post was originally going to be about those awesome Burger King Twilight commercials, but the haven't been posted on the BK website yet, so I'll take a minute to talk about Jimmy Fallon's continuing Robert Pattinson Is Bothered series and his interview with Twilight werewolf Taylor Lautner from last night's episode. I think I've seen most of the Robert Pattinson Is Bothered segments, but last night's was pretty great, with Fallon and Pattinson spending most of his time complaining about werewolves. Heck, it has its own website even.

Fallon went on to interview Lautner and it seemed like both of them had a pretty good time. I only stuck around to watch the first segment because I wanted to play a little Gears of War, but these other clips are pretty fun too, especially the mini-bike race.

If it wasn't for the intense allure of shooting the Locust in the face, I would have stuck around because Fallon had me laughing my fool head off last night. I had to stiffle myself so as not to wake the missus. It's nice to see him getting more comfortable in his roll as host.

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Oh, DO go on.

Season Finale: Project Runway

Now that I've admitted I watch Project Runway (with my wife, yeah, that makes it better), I figure I might as well throw a few words about last night's season finale. I thought it was pretty funny how the commercials made a big deal about Tim Gunn "losing it" when it fact he only seemed to get "pretty annoyed" when the models weren't quite ready on time. Also, by showing all this in the commercial they pretty much neutered any dramatic tension it would have had otherwise. Ah well.

So my personal favorite and fellow Ohioan Althea didn't pull out the W, so I was kind of bummed out about that. Even worse though is that all around annoying broad Irina won. Ugh. Not a fan. Especially with her constant claims that Althea was stealing ideas from her. Uncool.

Also, I had something confirmed for me while watching all three finalists' models walk down the aisle that I was pretty sure was the truth: I don't understand fashion. All their stuff looked okay, some of it looked stupid, but the things I thought looked ridiculous were praised by the judges. Go figure. I'm sure I'll be just as confused in January when the next season starts. That seems kind of quick right?

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Ad It Up: The New Titans

I'm pretty sure this ad was my first introduction to Arsenal/Speedy/Roy Harper. Back when I started reading comics, with The Death Of Superman, he was pretty much a non-entity, at least in the books I was reading at the time. He might have been all over the place in Titans, I wasn't reading (I'm sure Teen Titans aficionado Ben will be able to fill in the blanks). This ad came from 1994's L.E.G.I.O.N. Annual #5 (one of my beloved Elseworlds compilations). I'm not sure if it's supposed to advertise New Titans #114 or #0. #114 seems to start things changing while #0 puts the new team together. Said team includes Arsenal, Impulse, Mirage, Damage, Terra and Changeling. I vaguely remember these changes going on, but they didn't really affect anything I was reading until a little while later when Donna Troy, Supergirl and Kyle Rayner all joined and even then it was only for an issue or two. Anyone like this stuff?

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10 Awesome Rube Goldberg Devices

After checking out that Hema website earlier today it got me thinking about how much I used to love Rube Goldberg contraptions. I can't remember exactly where my history with them started, but I feel like Nickelodeon or one of the other channels with kids programming used to animated some of his designs. I also remember checking a book of said designs out from the library. It's been a while since I've even thought about them, but once I did I started scoping YouTube out for videos and came across these 10 awesome ones. Oh and for the record, I tried finding the one from Back To The Future, but it wasn't on YouTube or DailyMotion, so don't give me any trouble for missing it you damn kids! Anyway, hit the jump for the list of videos.

Sure it's a cartoon and you only need to watch the first half of it, but it's a fun watch and just might be the first place I experienced Goldberg's highly complicated ways of solving simple problems.

This one doesn't quite work, but I like the idea of using one of these contraptions for both turning an amp on and strumming a guitar.

Those trick shot competitions are pretty entertaining, but this guy uses a series of dominoes and pool balls to sink three tables' worth of balls. Just the idea of setting something like this up hurts my head.

This guy walks you through the whole process ahead of time before doing the actual run at around the 2:10 mark. You've got to admire the dedication it takes to building something like this throughout your house.

As I've mentioned before, I'm a big fan of the movie Waiting and saw this at the end of the credits (or is it a DVD special feature?). Anyway, it's a quick one, but fun plus it is another highly complicated way to pour a beer.

I haven no idea what the writing in these means, but they sure are cool. I especially like that one where the parts move from one place to another to help solve the circuit. Very cool.

This one makes the list solely because it involved fire and lots of it. I can't say I understand the point of it (I think it gets cut off at the end), but, like, it has a TON of fire.

I skipped over most of the digital versions I saw out there, but this one features more nods to original NES games than a Mario bobblehead.

The Mythbusters put this one together for the fans using a few myths they proved like the Mentos and Diet Coke one plus a ton of other stuff they had lying around the lab. Great stuff.

I'm not sure if I agree with the name bestowed this one, but it is amazing how huge it is. It doesn't really serve a purpose other than opening a curtain and hyping the guys that made it, but it still puts a lot of the other ones I found to shame. Well done fellas.

Oh, DO go on.

Check Out This Dutch Website RIGHT NOW

No, it's not porn. It's the website for a Dutch department store. Just let it load and don't touch anything. This isn't one of those "turn your volume up all the way" kind of thing from 2001, it's actually a very clever Rube Goldberg-like web design. Just click the link and enjoy!

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A Few Thursday Links To My Stuff

So, a while ago, I alluded to a new, top secret project I was working on that I later said fell through. Well, said project was a new geek site called GammaSquad for the Uproxx network of sites. Well, it fell through for reasons beyond my control and understanding, but it looks like the site is finally up. And, if you go back far enough you can find the week's worth of stuff I wrote for it. As you can tell, I took the idea of live blogging Big Bang Theory and used it for my own site. I did have a lot of fun getting up and acting like a "real (ie paid) blogger" for a week and am proud of the work I did, especially a few of these stories:

Ricky Gervais Gives Elmo Shit

17 Slutty Geek Costumes From Secret Wishes

The Black Eyed Peas Get Geeky With It

The Top 10 Action Figures DC Direct Should Redo

5 Marvel Comic Characters Who Need Their Own Video Games

Hopefully you enjoyed them too. Don't feel too bad for me though, I've always got irons in the fire and will be sure to let you know when my next projects start happening.

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A Few Thoughts On Glee

I've talked about Glee a few times, after the very first episode and then after the next first episode. I'm happy to say that many of my concerns have been taken care of for the most part: the songs sound more "live" than they used to and the non-glee club students don't seem as assholeish (but that's just because they're not featured as prominently, they're still assholes, we just don't see it as much). But, I do still have a few problems with the show. I only even mention these problems because I really like the show and want it to be better.

See, I feel like the writers relied on sensational plots and characters early on and are now stuck with them. Mr. Schue's wife is just awful. The whole fake pregnancy thing just feels like a huge weight around the neck of the whole show. That's the kind of plot device you throw in, thinking that you need to hook viewers with out-there plot points and now you get stuck with them. Both Em and I hate the wife and want her out of the picture. And that's not just because we want her to hook up with the ridiculously cute Emma. She's just a terrible character. One that could only be redeemed by television trickery and nothing that would take place in real life. The sooner the truth comes out about her the better.

Before tonight's episode, I was feeling the same way about Quinn's pregnancy, but I feel like it's more of a real point of drama and conflict now as opposed to something they threw against the wall to see what stuck. I like the drama it's causing with Quinn, Fynn and Puck, but I still feel like the "I told Fynn it was semen in the hot tub, but Puck's really the father because we boned, but I'm going to keep lying about it" plot on Quinn's end is a bit much. The sooner that's dealt with the better.

Here's my long term problem with the show, though. Aside from the fact that I feel like Quinn's baby will be written off with the greatest of ease (please prove me wrong writers), it seems like the show as a whole has a ticking clock hovering above it. And it's all because these kids are relatively old. In high school terms. I'm guessing most of them are juniors, if not seniors. Now, having been a member of the musicals since my sophomore year in high school I know all too well that you've always got an outgoing class and an incoming one, which is a path that Glee could logically take in the coming seasons. Sure it would be hard to get rid of leads, but it would be more realistic (what are the odds that everyone in a particular club is in the same grade?)). Now, they could take the That 70s Show road in which each season consisted of half an actual year (so the eight seasons only spanned four in "real time"). I could buy that. This is more of a "future problem," though, something that may or may not be a problem. But it's something I think about because I do really like the show.

I do appreciate how the show is expanding its world. Sue Sylvester has shown a bit of humanity with last week's episode, though I worry she will be a one trick pony for 99% of the show, we shall see. I also liked seeing Kurt's dad last episode, Fynn's mom on tonight's and Quinn's even though they were total jerkwads.

And, of course, the music is great. I even called that Fynn would sing "Having My Baby" to Quinn's parents. Go me. And I was thinking they'd sing "Lean On Me" to Quinn and Fynn at the end, but I called it some other ridiculous name that I can't quite recall right now. Anyway, the point is that Glee has a lot going for it, a huge following and the support of the music industry right now, so I hope the writers can get themselves out of the corners they've painted themselves into in order to make the story as good as the songs and choreography.
Oh, DO go on.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Ruins Rundown

Wow you guys. Just wow. What a crazy episode. The first episode had more craziness and people getting sent home for breaking the rules than the last two episodes combined! That was followed by a pretty terrifying, but one-sided challenge and then a surprisingly quick deliberation process only to be left with figurative blue balls thanks to a "To Be Continued" ending. Anyway, here's my live blog of the situation. As you can see, it was pretty intense. Hit the jump for all the goodness.

*Interesting, Dunbar doesn't want to drink. Good for him.

*Darrell would have a pretty big target on him if the Challengers could actually win.

*Woah, Susie just got KellyAnne naked. And now she's hugging Susie...and Darrell.

*"It looks like the best looking guys are are going to get rich." - Evan. That made me laugh HARD.

*Haha, I love when a drunk people try to tell other drunk people they need to relax and talk about things when they're sober. Well done Brad.

*Woah, KellyAnne is an UGLY crier.

*I'm hoping that the fight between Brad and Darrell that they showed in the preview takes place before the challenge, because it might mean that Darrell gets sent home, which would really throw things for a loop.

*Now Brad is getting upset and arguing with someone who is drunk while he's drunk which is what he was trying to stop in the first place.

*"It's not my birthday anymore." - KellyAnne. She said it really sad and dramatic-like.

*Oh god, Brad, stop just butting in on peoples' conversations.

*It's not a good sign when Johnny Bananas thinks you're being an ass.

*Woah, Brad is losing his shit. He pushed Derrick away, then kicked him, then a piece of junk on the floor.

*There it is, Darrell has had enough, knocks Brad down and punches him in the face. Will this be the end of him for the game? That would mean that Kenny, Evan or Derrick would have to go in, though that's what they said would be the case anyway.

*Woah, he laid into him like crazy. Darrell's gotta be gone now. I wonder where his money goes.

*Shit, he's bleeding a lot. Now he's breaking shit.

*Wow, they both got sent home.

*WOAH, his eye looks crazy. Darrell really messed him up. I can't even look at the TV.


*I wonder what would happen if Dunbar got sent home. What would they do without boys?

*Huh, a team of all girls would be interesting.

*Haha "You were the one playing 'just the tip with me.'" - Dunbar.

*Are we finally going to see Dunbar flip his gourde again? That might be too much for one episode. We haven't gotten to the challenge yet!

*Susie's right, she should be able to choose who she goes in against. I like that she's threatening to throw the last mission, but it's kind of backwards. She threatens to throw things ahead of time might blow up in her face.

*Haha, Dunbar's angels. I'd buy a T-shirt with that on it.

*Uh-oh, they're letting them out of the house. We haven't even gotten to the challenge yet and it's 10:31.

*Haha, Sarah likes Kenny. She deserves him, the pair a weirdos.

*Kenny just said "I don't want to kiss no girl! What is this, seventh grade?" Interesting...

*Interesting, Brad and Darrell's money goes into the final pot.

*Oh snap, now that the numbers are so low, they have to deliberate on which player is exempt from the ruins. This time it's Evan (because Johnny might still play some shady stuff) and Sarah because she just went in.

*This challenge is pretty scary. Trying to knock someone off a fence hanging really high off of a building. Kind of reminds me of that pulley challenge a few years back when Julie almost killed...Veronica? Or someone?

*Kenny was actually nice and didn't shake it against Kim.

*Johnny's like a monkey climbing across that thing.

*It would make sense to knock the other person off because that adds a lot more time to the clock.

*Evan beats Dunbar.

*Derrick's shaking that stuff like crazy. I'm guessing it's just because Evan told him to jump and Derrick's their monkey.

*GAH, they keep playing that damn Gap holiday commercial!!!

*Hey, at least Sarah didn't fall. Good for her.

*Peace out Casey.

*But will Susie try and throw it? Doesn't look like it. Hell, she doesn't really need to throw it because Casey's time is probably longer than 15 minutes.

*Casey singing "I've Been Working On The Railroad" is really sad. At least she did it though.

*Man, the Challengers SUCK. They didn't beat a single Champions member in the race and then complain about Casey sucking.

*"Susie, god bless her amish looks." - Evan, haha.

*They should let Susie go against Casey this time, then figure out what happens in the next game. I guess it's kind of sort of nice that they let her go against Kim. But what about if she wins?

*Oh man, I want Kenny to go in SO BAD!!!

*Haha, Kenny should be on this Jersey Shore show. Em knows someone who knows him from hanging out on the Shore. Yech.

*I don't think they're going to get to the Ruins tonight. It's 10:52 right now. Are we even going to find out who's going in from the guys on this episode?

*"He's a grade A douchebag." - Susie regarding Johnny.

*Derrick wants Johnny to go in, so he does it. I hope he loses. Then one of the three muskadouches will have to go in.

*I just thought of something. They should come in and tell the wrong person they're going into the Ruins, just to throw them off their game. Can they do that?

*Haha, Susie's trying to get Kim to quit. Not gonna happen chickie.

*Oh snap it's raining! That will make for an awesome week.

*Ragdoll is the Ruins game. You've got to pull the rope out of the other player's hand. It should be even more interesting in the rain. I love rain games!

*Ahhh, even though I knew you were coming "To Be Continued" screen, I still hate you.

Oh, DO go on.

RIP Ken Ober 1957-2009

While watching tonight's episode of The Ruins, I saw a commercial from MTV informing me that Ken Ober, the host of Remote Control, passed away. Usually these things don't hit me hard, but this was like getting a punch in the gut. I loved watching Remote Control as a kid. This was before my parents didn't want me watching videos of guys disrespecting women (which was probably happening back then anyway, but who knows). I even bought the NES game in college because I liked it so much. Tonight, I'm drinking an extra gin and sour mix for you Ken.

Here's a clip from the first episode.

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Beer Review: Michelob's Winter's Bourbon Cask Ale

I know I spent a good deal of time in my review of the documentary Beer Wars talking about how much I like Coors Light, but that doesn't mean I don't like branching out and trying new things. I find I go in waves, especially liking cheap, light beer in the summer. But, now that it's getting colder out and my parents came in for a visit, it's time to start getting something a little nicer.

I first had Winter's Bourbon Cask Ale last holiday season when my folks came out for a pre-Christmas visit. We went to one of the area beer stores, so it on the shelf and thought it looked pretty festive so we gave it a shot and both liked it. And my dad really liked it, so much that I got some for him for Christmas because he couldn't find it back home in Toledo (I didn't realize it was made by Michelob, but I found out they don't necessarily distribute their specialty beer everywhere, which is a bummer).

I was surprised my dad liked it because he generally likes more bitter beers and this is definitely more sweet. There is a hint of bitterness or thickness-on-the-tongue in the beer, but the vanilla and caramel in there really come out. It's a very heavy beer, so it's not something I'd be able to drink a lot of, but I did enjoy having one while watching TV this week. It reminded me of something you could drink while sitting in front of a fire. I don't really know what that indicates about me, but it's something that just popped into my head.

I should note that I don't really know what I'm talking about when it comes to beer on a technical level. I just like what I like and I'm still exploring whatever I can because I only started drinking beer when I came out to New York for my internship and it become much more cost effective to drink beer as opposed to vodka, rum and whiskey drinks, which I preferred. I have found that I prefer sweeter beers with less hops, which is something I've discovered thanks to Michelob's fairly new policy of putting such information on their boxes as you can see in the pic below.

So, all in all, I recommend Winter's Bourbon Cask Ale as a nice, heavy winter beer with tons of sweet flavor. I actually was trying to figure out ways to make a beer milkshake with it, but that didn't get past the idea stage. Maybe next time.

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New Marvel What The?! Rags On Twilight, Makes Me Laugh

My buddies who work on the Marvel Super Heroes What The--?! banged out another hit today over on with this Twilight parody using the Marvel Legends Monsters box set from a few years back. Well done sirs! If you don't laugh at Dracula's line "These kids today with their emo vampires and too-tight trousers" you're out of your mind.

I can't say I have a personal problem with Twilight because it hasn't affected me in any kind of personal way. I can only say that the chaste vampire craze is a bit weird, that's not how Sita, the star of Christopher Pike's book series The Last Vampire rolled.

Just saying.

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Casting Internets

This metal cover of the castle theme to Super Mario Bros. is RAD! (via /Gamer)

Also rad is the news that Agents of Atlas will be throwing down with the Avengers. AoA is one of the best comics out there and I'm just happy to see it continue on in any form, whether it be back-ups, mini-series or online comics. Keep that Jeff Parker goodness going Marvel!

In TV news, two actors from two of my favorite movies from high school have gotten new roles. First up, Jason Lee (Mallrats, Chasing Amy) apparently has two new gigs. The first is a live-action Adult Swim show about skateboarding and the second is a live action TNT show called Delta Blues where he'll be playing a character who's a cop by day and an Elvis impersonator by night. I loved My Name Is Earl and can't wait to check him out in this show. (via THR)

The other actor getting a new gig is Ethan Embry (Empire Records, Can't Hardly Wait) on a USA show called Facing Kate. The show description doesn't sound all that interesting to me (check it out on THR), but I'll check it out in passing or in reruns most likely.

And finally, I'm psyched to read Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon's upcoming Vertigo book called Daytripping. My buddy Steve Sunu interviewed the hell outta those dudes over on CBR.

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Vincent Price On The Dating Game

I found this clip on YouTube while trying to find a clip of Judd Apatow on The Dating Game which he mentioned on his episode of Inside The Actor's Studio. It was a great episode that I recommend for any fan of his. Anyway, I read the description of this video of my favorite horror actor and fellow brother of Alpha Sigma Phi Vincent Price on The Dating Game. Now, Mr. Price wasn't trying to get a date for himself, but was acting in the steed of Ms. X (who turned out to be actress Janit Baldwin), which meant that he was tasked with asking three suitors several bawdy questions. I'm guess it's from 1972 because he's constantly talking about Dr. Phibes Rises Again. I'm particularly fond of the question where Price asks how one contestant would kill the others to get to the girl. The clip might be a bit long, especially if you don't skip through the prizes at the beginning, but there were enough giggles to keep me going. The prize? A Halloween date with Ms. Baldwin at the Magic Castle, the renowned magician club in Hollywood. I want to go to there.

Oh, DO go on.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Music To Read To: Man Or Astro-man? & Zot!

I don't normally listen to music while I read. Mostly because I have trouble concentrating. So, when I do, it's usually something without words like jazz or instrumental rock and roll (Joe Satriani's Surfing With The Alien, John Paul Jones' Zooma, that kind of thing). Back when I was working at Wizard I got my hands on a copy of Scott McCloud's Zot! The Complete Black And White Collection 1987-1991 from Harper Collins. It had been sitting in the to read long boxes in my closet since then and I recently picked it up to see how it is. And it's great. I'm only 336 into the 576 page book, but I feel like I'm enjoying it along with the commentary that McCloud gives after each story arc.

The real point of this post though, is to talk about music accentuating the reading material. I was sitting in bed one night, reading this volume when it popped into my head that the brightness and sci-fi leanings of Zot's earth would go really well with my favorite modern surf rock band Man Or Astro-man? (for what it's worth, my all time favorite surf rock group is The Ventures). I went out into the living room, popped a reading light on, turned my iPod to the correct Artist and read for quite a while.

And I gotta say, it was a near perfect fit. It was kind of eerie actually. When the story slowed down, the record did so too. Kind of like discovering that Wizard Of Oz and Darkside Of The Moon fit together, but of course, dependent on the speed with which the reader can read. I first listened to EEVIAC Operational Index and Reference Guide, Including Other Modern Computational Devices (1999) and then Project Infinity (1995) because that's the order they're in on my iPod. The mix of surf rock and old sci-fi movies was like whatever kind of wine goes with whatever kind of steak, it just happened to work.

My experience with Man or Astro-man? goes back a while. I happened to see the following video for "Theme From Eeviac" along with the video for "Denise" by Fountains of Wayne on 120 Minutes and I was sold (on both bands). I would go on to purchase both Project Infinity and A Spectrum Of Infinite Scale (2000) at my beloved Boogie Records (used and new respectively). Soon after they broke up, which is a bummer, but I've still got a few other albums to check out if I ever get the urge. Anyway, here's the first video I ever saw, along with a few others I found on YouTube that show off their goodness and weirdness.

I highly recommend checking them out if you have even a remote inkling that you might like surf rock or are a big fan of old sci-fi movies or if you just like to read a lot of sci-fi. I used to actually turn Man or Astro-man? on when I played video games. This was back in the PS1 days, before games scores and dialogue were important. Do yourself a favor and check them out!

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Oh, DO go on.