Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Comics for 8.30.11

Got some new comics today and they were pretty damn good.

JLA#1: The first issue released from the 52 issue reboot of continuity by DC Comics. It was good. Definitely an opening issue to get people on board with the forming of the league, and it mostly centers on Batman and Green Lantern meeting for the first time. Well drawn and well written, my only complaint would be that I already know they know each other in the other continuity so I just want to see them go kick ass. It's a set-up issue but worth your time if you want to check out an iteration of the league that features the big guns.

ASM #668: Spider-Island continues, with the infestation brawl from last issue concluding thanks to your friendly, neighborhood...Peter Parker? Good issue. I love the chaos that's spawning from a bunch of NY citizens getting spider powers. Great appearances from other heroes and there an ongoing mystery I must have missed in previous issues concerning the identity of one of the researchers at Horizon Labs, where Peter works. The character is hidden and we only get vague references to their identity. Wonder who it is?

Angel & Faith #1: Spoilers, if you haven't been reading Buffy and pick this up just for the title characters like I did, you will have parts of that series ruined for you. I didn't really care as I dropped off that series about halfway through. This is a fun little issue, following the legacy of a character and how Angel and Faith are going to make things right. I love both characters so having an series with them in it is rather fun. I believe it's a mini, but I'll probably get it all now.

Goon #35: Pick this issue up. Seriously. It's hilarious. Guest writer Evan Dorkin spins a tale of the Goon and Frankie and a mysterious carnival. Fantastic stuff. It seems like every panel has a gem of a quote in it and I couldn't stop laughing at it. The art, as always, is beautiful and by Eric Powell. One of my favorite series and I'm so glad it's back off of hiatus. Everyone needs to be reading this series. For crying out loud, I did a spit take during this issue, though to be honest, I tend to do one with every issue of the Goon. It's just that good and I should really know by now not to be drinking anything when I start perusing the pages of a new installment. Cheap whiskey went everywhere.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Doctor Who: The Monsters Inside

Doctor Who: The Monsters InsideDoctor Who: The Monsters Inside by Stephen Cole

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


A decent little read that finds the Doctor taking Rose to her first alien planet. Unfortunately, this gets them locked up in the local prison system and now they have to get out before an old enemy takes them out for good. Not my favorite monster of the Doctor's but one that is put to good use in the setting and I love reading more of Christopher Eccleston's Doctor and his adventures. A pleasant way to pass a warm summer evening.



View all my reviews

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Hurricane Irene

Jeez. In a week where we already had an earthquake, we get hit with a Category 1 hurricane named Irene. Granted, the earthquake was just a little wobbling, this was a much bigger deal, especially when you're near the shore and there's a possibility of flooding and downed trees and the like since that was the zone it was likely to hit. I'll admit I was nervous. Not to a crazy degree like some people who went mad buying supplies, but I made sure my ducks were in order, that is for sure with crank radios and cell phone chargers and water and the like. And it was my first hurricane in the new house, so understandable I was a little shaky hoping my home would stand up to it.

How was it?

Well, it wasn't as bad as I expected, but it was still a little scary. The winds around 9pm on were terrifyingly strong and blasting the house with rain, of which we got a ton. And it went on forever, it seemed. Eventually there was a tornado warning and we vacated to the basement of the house where it was much quieter and I actually fell asleep down there on an inflatable mattress. Still some residual stuff to pass through right now and then hopefully we'll be done by, I dunno, tomorrow? I had been through hurricanes before but I think that was the slowest one and Saturday seemed to go on forever waiting for it.

I hope those others out there who went through it got out alright and everything is ok with your and yours.

Also, we cleaned up the yard but left a straggler out there in the hurricane. Fortunately, he survived and didn't budge an inch.



Go VT gnome!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Earthquake!

Really odd day today. It was a normal day at work and I was done with lunch and getting back to work when I noticed I was wobbling in my chair a bit. I thought someone was fucking with me but when I turned around, nobody was there moving the chair and it was moving me of its own accord. Then I noticed that other things in the room were moving and when I stood up, the wibbly-wobblyness continued.

After going out into the hall and conferring with other bewildered co-workers, we figured it was an earthquake and then it was pretty much over. Turns out that there was a 5.9 magnitude quake in central Virginia and we felt the shocks all the way up in NJ. Hell, they even reached as far as Toronto.

No damage and I checked to make sure my family in VA was ok. They were. Odd experience. I mean, nobody really expects an earthquake so having one hit you is a rather unusual feeling. I'm glad everyone is ok.

Now after this, we have to worry about the fucking hurricane that's heading our way. Joy.

Monday, August 22, 2011

New Novel Word Count: 8.22.11


44197 / 80000 words. 55% done and climbing. I need to take a day off and write. All of this stopping and starting just kills me. Though honestly, I'd probably just end up playing MW2 so this lunchtime writing is good for now.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Monster X Strikes Back/Attack the G8 Summit

I decided on some lighter fare this time around on Friday Night Frights, so I popped in the copy of Monster X Strikes Back from Netflix. This film, a not-serious sequel to The X from Outer Space, is mainly a comedy and parody of giant monster flicks. The plot revolves around the G8 Summit, where leaders have gathered to discuss the state of the world. They're rudely interrupted when Guilala, the X from space, decides to crash land on Earth and wreak havoc. Now, the leaders are faced with a true crisis that they seem to be unable to handle. Meanwhile, two reporters have stumbled upon a remote village where they might have the scoop of a lifetime when the village god, Take-Majin, decides to answer their prayers and get involved in the fray.

This god is played by and meant to represent Takeshi Kitano. That is awesome. The rest of the movie is decent as well. I think it can be enjoyed by all, but a knowledge of monster movies will help you get the most of it, as there are references to several Godzilla films, Daimaijin and more that you might miss otherwise. The score even resembles that of some of Akira Ifukube's more popular themes and music from the Godzilla movies. Most of the tropes involved should be familiar enough to even passing fans though so I don't see anything being lost.

The acting by the Japanese members of the cast is good. The English speaking cast members? Not so much. That might be part of the humor too, as they're regularly terrible in Japanese monster films, though there are exceptions. It's a comedy though so I'm not looking for much, though I guess hammy acting would have been better than the cheese we got. I did get a kick out of the UK representative of the summit, who had no accent whatsoever. Could have tried a little bit, I think. Ah well.

It's not the best monster movie, or even the best monster movie comedy, but it's a decent effort and the nuttiness and charm win you over rather easily, especially after a beer or two.

Check it out.

Hobo With a Shotgun

It was a tale of two movies last night, though ultimately I only watched one all the way through. We had started off with Sucker Punch, as I didn't think I could go wrong with girls fighting ridiculous creatures with guns and swords. I found out that indeed, I could. I was bored to tears, even during the fight scenes and abandoned the movie after about 25 minutes, which is unusual. I mean, I sat through freaking Octaman. Anyhow, after that dismal choice of a film, I booted up Netflix and convinced the wife to watch Hobo with a Shotgun instead.

Now THAT was a fun flick.

Done in the style of the 70s/80s thriller exploitation flicks, Hobo with a Shotgun stars Rutger Hauer as the titular character who comes to Scumtown, where the Drake family rules with a deliriously crazy fist and murder people in the streets. Well, the Hobo has enough of that early on and due to some events that leave him beaten and scarred, decides to clean up the town with, well, a shotgun. And clean it up he does, as heads are blown off, chests are exploded and limbs are amputated with pump action fury.

And it has Stanley Tweedle in it. You know, the janitor/captain from Lexx? No? Well, go hunt that down if you want some additional lunacy. He turns in a great turn as Drake, who stages most of the murders in the town with the help of his sons, who are also maniacs. Hauer is fantastic as the Hobo, gruff, yet compassionate and also full of some righteous, rail-riding anger.

There's blood, guns, guts, boobs and more and it comes together well in this gleefully violent romp. I'd say out of the two movies I watched, this one actually delivers to the audience and keeps you wanting more. It might take a bit before the Hobo starts shotgunning people, but you're actually interested in his plight. Wish I could say the same for Babydoll and friends in Suckerpunch.

As I said on twitter, I should start up a Saturday Night Splatter tag, though I have enough trouble rocking out the movies on Friday, that to take the tv from my wife for two days in a row might get me in trouble.

Check it out.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Ghost Story

Ghost Story (The Dresden Files,  #13)Ghost Story by Jim Butcher

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


WARNING: Spoilers for Changes, the previous books, within. Though they are on the book cover so it might not be necessary.

Jim Butcher knocks it out of the park again with the latest in his Dresden Files series. Ghost Story picks up where Changes (and by extent Side Jobs) left off with wizard Harry Dresden dead but not out of the picture, as his ghost has returned to earth. What's he doing there? He figures it's to help out a few of his friends and maybe help stop Chicago from going to hell without him.

It's a fun tale, even if the main character is dead, and we adapt to his new situation as he does. It's interesting to see Dresden, who is a rather gung-ho character, have to stop and think this time around instead of brute forcing his way through everything. After tearing through the previous novels last summer, I've been waiting for this novel for awhile and it doesn't disappoint, hitting all the notes that are expected in a Dresden novel, answering some questions and setting up others for future novels. And after the way this one ends, I can't wait for the next one either.

Check it out.



View all my reviews

Friday, August 19, 2011

New Novel 8.19.11


43493 / 80000 words. 54% done!

More words. Not a big jump today. I was fixing up some previous entries so there wasn't much new stuff put down on the paper.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

New Novel Word Count


42922 / 80000 words. 54% done!

Because, why not? I don't really know if 80k words is going to be the end/limit of this novel, but it seems like a good number to me. I'm about halfway there and it feels like it, story-wise. I've been writing for awhile but haven't thought to put a meter up. I like it and it helps keep me motivated and now I can share with everyone.

The name of the novel? The Secret Life of Astro-Girl. It's a superhero novel and should be some fun.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

MTG Playmat

Finally finished a custom MTG playmat that I had begun awhile ago. I ordered the playmat months ago and had the art created in Photoshop and printed onto iron-on transfers but I lacked one important thing. An iron. I also didn't have some paint that I wanted to use to color in the top and the bottom of the playmat and doing that with the iron-ons might have been difficult in terms of lining them up. It also made it a little less plain as the images on the white mat might not have been enough to bring it all together. Then last night I got an iron and finally had some time to do it today. I think it came out well for a first attempt.

I was working on the art for two mats concurrently, though I'm not sure if I'll use that for the next one. This one, obviously, is of a few Green Lanterns. Namely, my favorite, Kyle Rayner and the two loves of his life, Soranik Natu and Jade. Though Jade's costume is more Savage Land in the art I found than GL. And I put in Power Girl too. And green Dalek that appears to be startled by Power Girl's crotch. I'm a pervert though so that's probably the reasoning behind it. That and I like Power Girl and Daleks and it seemed like a good way to fit them in.

The next playmat I had art for would actually be all Power Girl. I might try something a little less benign for play in the store though as I don't want to weird people out. Though maybe that could be an advantage for me if they're distracted while they play.

The ironing method of playmat creation seems to work pretty well so far, though I haven't tried any durability test or anything on it. It looks nice though there are a few spots where it burned a bit during the overlapping transfer paper. Note to self--don't do that. Also, getting the backings off of them was difficult as I cut them around the art and that makes it tricky around arms and legs and smaller parts of the art. Next time I might just make some rectangles or squares to put on instead. Might look nicer and give me a cleaner border.

It's cheaper than getting a custom one printed via a few of the online venues and better looking I think than some of said online ones where it's not a playmat but some other thing like a doormat or bar mat that you're basically re-purposing. I might try one of the online ones later on but at 30-50 bucks a pop. This came out way cheaper at around 20 for the mat and the paper, maybe a little less.

I'll report more on it as I get some use out of it.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Octaman

From the depths of, um, a river, comes a horrific horror the likes of which nobody has ever seen before. Behold, the eight armed maven of massacre, the OCTAMAN! That sentence right there, kids? That's more excitement than you'll find in the movie, and I just made that up. Still, tonight's Friday Night Fright was entertaining in its own, charming way.

The plot of the movie follows a scientist studying the pollution levels around an area in Mexico and wondering if the radiation will have any effect on the wildlife. He needn't have wondered, as these conditions have already spawned a horrific creature that is part octopus and part man and all nutty. Though honestly, I'm not sure the radiation/pollution angle was responsible for the monster as apparently he attacked some dude's relatives in a flashback, which makes it seem like the creature has been wandering around for awhile.

And wander he does. While the scientist captures the Octaman's children and stuffs them scientifically into buckets, the monster wastes no time in moseying on down to the RV that the people are using as a base and freeing them, usually with some hot tentacle slapping action and possibly a strangulation or two. For a creature seven feet tall and covered with suckers, he sure manages to sneak up on people quite a bit. I can't imagine that he has ninja-like abilities, but apparently, he can pop in and out faster than the Majini zombies in last week's RE: Afterlife. Also, he can turn around and blend in with the terrain, if you think that the back of a rubber suit matches said terrain, that is.

The acting is wooden and the plot lifts a bit from Gorgo, but the creature costume is where the movie really shines. The design is interesting, albeit executed not as well as it could be, with some shots of it really making it look horrific and covered in slime and imposing, whereas others (most of the film) look like it just rolled out of storage for a quick take.

And they don't skimp on the monster action. In too many of these films, they hide the design and the action scenes are few and far between. It might not be for the best, but Octaman shows off the creature during the opening credits and its rare for the movie to go more than ten minutes without him popping up in either an impromptu attack or just to leer at the lady in the film, who sadly, remains clothed. Or maybe gladly, as it didn't seem like she had assets that would improve the film.

If you're a fan of men in rubber suits for your monsters, I would check this one out, simply for some nostalgia of when they tried to make some good monster flicks for TV. This may not be one of them, but as a kid watching horror host shows on Saturday afternoons, this would have been a gem.

Check it out.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Hercules

I have to hand it to the Italians. Just as I was entering a funk over my vacation ending, I find a film that turns it all around with its insanity. That gem is Hercules, as recommended to me by The Vicar of VHS and his numerous tweets celebrating the insanity of the film and persuading me to watch it.

I'm glad I did, for the movie is a veritable smorgasbord of bizarreness and hysterical production choices. As you guess from the poster, the film is a very science-fiction inspired version of Hercules, replete with flashing lights and cyborg creatures and of course, SCIENCE! In what could be one of my favorite opening sequences ever, we're treated to a retelling of the origin of the universe that involves a computerized Pandoras's Box breaking open and ample explosions and lens flares. And it goes on for about five minutes, where we're finally treated to the idea of Hercules as he is fashioned by Zeus up on the moon and sent to Earth as a ball of light that invades a baby and takes him over.

It only gets better from there.

After being saved from the murders that claim his real parents, Hercules lives the life of a farmer with his family until his father is killed by a bear, which our hero promptly tosses into space and his mother I believe is killed by what proves to be the first of many robots. I was rather inebriated by the film though so I might be misremembering. After that, he torches the family home and heads out for adventure where he meets Cassiopea and her kingly father and then becomes embroiled in a battle to save the world from King Minos and his fabled science and robots. And Sybil Danning. In the process he befriends a sorceress named Circe and performs many feats of derring-do.

What kind of feats? Cleaning stables, fighting a clockwork hydra, throwing beams into space. The usual.

This movie is a fantastic cure for the summertime blues. It's played straight and that makes it all the more fun as Hercules fights ridiculous foes and situations with a serious face and sometimes dodgy effects. The stop motion is actually rather good in this movie and one of the highlights whenever it shows up. There are a lot of lens flares and other extraneous effects but they just make it more over the top and fun. The only complaint I might make is that there was a severe lack of nudity, but that might just be because I expect it in my sword and sorcery flicks.

As with most Cozzi films I've seen, this one rips off quite a few others, like the Beastmaster (bear killing the father). It's all in good fun and spotting the possible influences just adds to the experience.

Check. It. Out.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Captain America: The First Avenger

I don't get out to the movies often as of late, but somehow I managed to go see Green Lantern and now Captain America this summer. Cap was my first 3D movie too, unless you count Nightmare Before Christmas when that was released in 3D awhile back. They were both done in post, so I'll allow it. I have to say, I'm not really sold on the technology. It annoys me to wear glasses over glasses and I don't really need to see scenes of Steve Rogers doing push ups in 3D. I'd rather they did what some of the Harry Potters did in IMAX and just have you put them on for certain scenes. Might be easier on the eyes too.

But I digress.

I thought Captain America was well done. It really captured the feel of the comic and also the look of the old serials, which isn't a surprise and Joe Johnston, the director, was also responsible for The Rocketeer, which also captured the 40s well. If you're not familiar with the story, it's basically about how a young man who isn't a prime physical specimen but has a good heart becomes a super soldier after scientific experiments. As far as origins go, it's simple, but they draw it out rather long and while it is done well, I think it detracts from what could have been more action later on.

The cast is great. I think Evans is a fair Captain America. He does well with the material and I'm a fan, but I think his look is a little off and someone like John Barrowman might have a more Captain America-ish look. Tommy Lee Jones is great as his commanding officer and the love interest in the movie, whose name I can't be arsed to look up, is pretty and charming and kicks some tail. I think the real scene stealer is Hugo Weaving as the Red Skull. He takes what could have been someone who just stands around laughing maniacally and gives him some real depth and determination in his quest to conquer the world.

It's a fun flick, though I'd see it in 2D instead, unless you're a fan of 3D, in which case do whatever you like. Personally, I hate paying more for it and then they ask me to recycle my glasses afterward. Fuck that noise. I paid for them. They be mine and are coming home with me.

Anyhow, for a fun popcorn movie this summer with superheroes, check out Green Lantern. If you can't find that, Captain America will do you just fine.

Resident Evil: Afterlife

It took awhile, but I finally saw Resident Evil: Afterlife, the latest and greatest RE movie. I was going to watch it awhile ago on Netflix, but Sony wigged out and had their shit removed while they hammered out a contract that I still don't know if they finished. So I taped it off of Starz. Works for me. Unfortunately, the film didn't.

Honestly, it was boring.

And that's a cardinal sin for an action horror film. I can't say that the third movie was fantastic, but it at least kept me interested and the first two films I think are great fun. The movie did look pretty and had some interesting set design and zombie choices, in particular the majini zombies and the executioner, who is my nemesis from RE5. The characters were interesting enough for the film too, but they just don't get much to do. Alice spends quite a bit of time flying around talking to the camera, eventually finding Claire and then flying around and talking to the camera. Which is a letdown after watching Alice multihandedly take down an Umbrella base in the beginning.

The deaths were few and uninspiring. A lot of the cast gets taken quickly and without a lot of gore by the majinis, who are like ninjas, apparently. The others don't die in an interesting manner. The effects, when used, were well done, however.

It was nice to see more of the human side of Alice, since we're used to her being an unstoppable killing machine and you get some fan favorite characters making their appearance in the series, or reappearance, if you count Wesker having more to do. He doesn't get used well though. You see him in the beginning and I'll spoiler nothing really in saying he's the bad guy at the end, who doesn't show up until the movie is almost done. I think that's the big problem with the plot. You basically have several situations to deal with. Alice is looking for a place called Arcadia and can't find it. Then she goes to a prison and they have to get out before they're overrun. Then you deal with the villian. It seems like the two points could have been saved for separate movies, with finding Arcadia being one and maybe the prison being another. As it is, you don't spend enough time to care about them.

A lackluster entry in a fun series, but there's not much excitement or a body count in a series that has killed off the entire earth. They might have jumped the gun there and if they had drawn it out and maybe only infected some countries.

If they make another using the villain they have set up, I'll be very happy though. Just saying.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Drive Angry

No, it's not what I do on the GSP. Ok, it's not just what I do on the GSP, it's also a movie starring Nicholas Cage and it is fantastic. Cage stars as a man who is hunting down a charismatic cult leader before said leader can sacrifice a baby to the Devil. Cage, named John Milton, has a few secrets of his own, having escaped from what he refers to as "prison" and everyone he meets seems to think he was dead. He is joined on his quest by a waitress, played by Amber Heard, and stalked relentlessly by a man who calls himself The Accountant (William Fichtner). Oh, and Milton has one hell of a special shotgun in a wooden case in the back of his car, along with his trusty pump action shotgun, which he uses to great effect.

I loved this movie. I had heard almost nothing on it, save for a few blurbs in Fangoria that said it was fucking awesome and to check it out as nobody did in theaters. I'm glad I did. It's an action-horror film, complete with gore, cultists and some supernatural elements. And really sweet cars. It seems like almost every scene is a car chase or a gunfight in the cars, when they're not having gun fights out of the cars. It's fun and doesn't take itself too seriously and I think even works as a companion piece to the Ghost Rider films, though this one is clearly a little more on the violent side of vengeance.

A fun ride from start to finish with some solid performances from the actors involved and well worth checking out. Too bad I didn't see this on Friday, as it could have been part of Friday Night Frights. Maybe I can do Monday Night Maniacs too? We shall see.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Balthor EDH

Finally got a card order last week so I could finish off my build of a Balthor, the Defiled EDH deck. I went with a zombie tribal theme, so much so that all of my creatures are zombies in one form or another. I know a lot of others use utility cards and other creatures to support them but I chose not to do that. It could work against me, but I have my hopes. I am also lacking a lot of the standard acceleration items for it and other staples. Not because I don't have them physically, but more because I don't think they necessarily fit the theme I had going. I can always throw them in later, but I want to see how it fares first. I am very creature heavy though so I might end up cutting some in favor of some equipment or more spells. It was hard finding spells that fit what I wanted to do and were cheap, too. I wouldn't mind blowing a fat wad of cash if I had lots of expendable income, but I don't, so even something like 10 bucks a card is a little pricey for me.

I'll have a full list posted sometime soon. No time now. Then I'll ask for some suggestions. I'm happy with it and can't wait to test it out. My bro is coming up this week so maybe we can try some EDH games, though I'm not looking forward to trying to shuffle 100 sleeved cards. Yikes.