Review: Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris

Charlaine Harris is famous for her Sookie Stackhouse series of books that has become so popular, it has taken over HBO with its hit show True Blood. As much as I admire her work and the characters she's created, it pains me to say that the latest book, Dead Reckoning, was a huge disappointment. With no plots or reason to write the book, I felt that she was more pressed to get a book out as fast as she could to appease her eagerly awaiting fans then with trying to create a story worth reading. I have read many fan reviews, both positive and negative, and seen numerous four-star ratings, but I feel that people are just giving these ratings because it’s Charlaine Harris. I wonder if they read the same book I did?

I didn’t feel the hype or excitement I usually get with Charlaine's books, or that feeling of wanting to know more about how things are going to turn out.

Cue Spoilers Here.

All we got from the book is to be Eric married to the Queen of Oklahoma and that the marriage between Eric and Sookie will no longer be valid. Eric kills Victor. Pam falls in love with a woman who dies from leukemia. Sandra Pelt finally gets killed in an anti-climactic way, her dead body thrown into a fairy portal. And Sookie breaks the blood bond with Eric. All of this sounds exciting, right?

It wasn’t. It left me feeling empty with no care for the will happen in the next book or imagination as to how she is going to write. The only time I felt any sort of excitement was at the end of chapter twelve, and that excitement was gone almost as quickly as it arrived! It seems as if Charlaine wants you to not anticipate the next installment to this fascinating series and, as a fan since the beginning, this just makes me sad.

Does this mean that I will not read her next book or watch the show anymore? Of course not. The story of Eric and Bill will keep me on my tippy toes, but at what point do you just stop and look at where the story is going? Are fans to blame for being so impatient with wanting to know what happens next or who Sookie will end up with? I’m not exactly sure but I felt Dead Reckoning was just written fast to get a book on the shelves. I hope the next one makes up for it, spending better time on the characters and their relationships, or I may no longer be reading this series.


Advice For The Duggars

Sweet Christ, what are they thinking?
So, the other evening I was watching that 19 Kids And Counting show (no, not by choice). While I certainly feel that the Duggar parents suffer from some sort of severe mental disability, I'd like to offer them some help. Well, not them but their oldest son and his wife.

Josh and Anna have just begun their own family and now have two children of their own, Mackynzie and Michael. Given those two names, I assumed they are working on the same naming platform as the Duggars, choosing the letter M as their OCD focal point. After a while, it will become difficult to come up with names starting with M, so I've decided to compile a list.

1) Matthew
2) Maxwell
Number 15 seems to
work for him.
3) McKenna
4) Madelyn
5) Marc
6) Magnolia
7) Mumford
8) Moesha
9) Macadamia
10) Methuselah
11) Mozzarella
12) & 13) Menarch & Maxipad (for twin girls)
14) Merkin
15) Mitchell Musso
16) Maynard
17) Muggle
18) McGuffin
19) Mumm-Ra
20) MILF

I'm aware that having so many children is an undertaking, and it's my hope that with this list, the task of name the children can at least be easier. To Josh and Anna perusing the above baby names, there's no need to thank me. Just knowing that I'm able to make your difficult parenthood even slightly less stressful is thanks enough for me.


Word Up, Daniel Craig

I really love it when celebrities talk truthfully about other celebrities. Most of the time, a star will gush over someone else, stating “Oh, I love them, they’re so lovely” and we rarely hear anything negative about anyone in Hollywood. How can an entire industry be filled with fantastic people?

But not so with Daniel Craig, who spoke plainly about the Kardashians in a recent interview. And rightly so. As the topic of privacy came up, an ideal that Craig holds dearly, Daniel Craig described the Kardashians as “fucking idiots”.

"Look at the Kardashians, they're worth millions," he continued. "I don't think they were that badly off to begin with but now look at them. You see that and you think 'what, you mean all I have to do is behave like a fucking idiot on television and then you'll pay me millions?'“

Daniel Craig couldn’t be speaking more truthfully. The Kardashians have become famous for…what exactly? Being related to Robert Kardashian, who represented OJ Simpson in his murder case and was able to get the football star acquitted? No. No one paid any attention to the man during that time, up until his death in 2003. Meanwhile, his ex-wife and kids have a reality television show on E!, and selling wedding photos to the tabloids for millions of dollars.

Honestly, good for them. They’re able to make money by just living their lives. However, they need to realize that there’s no going back from that. Everyone has already seen you at home, in your living room, in your bedroom. We’ve witnessed you getting arrested for a DUI on your way home from the club. We’ve seen you sex tape. Kourtney Kardashian is even going so far as to start a ‘Mommy Blog’ (because I'd take child-rearing tips from a Kardashian since they did such a bang-up job). And the longer you go on with this desire to be in the public eye, the harder it will be for you to withdraw.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not defending the Kardashians. I want them to go away. I even signed the petition to get E! to cancel Keeping Up With the Kardashians and the legions of other shows it’s spawned. While I’m completely aware that it would be completely useless and they will remain on the air for as long as those shows make money, but it still felt good to do it.

While Daniel Craig did point out the Kardashians in his interview, it’s clear that these aren’t the only people he’s annoyed with. Craig knows that his comments won’t be well accepted, and makes a clear reference to the Jersey Shore and Real Housewives of New Jersey when he says “I'm probably going to get visited by people from New Jersey”.

Don’t worry, Dan. Not everyone from New Jersey is an attention whore. We got your back.


SyFy To Make Booster Gold... What Could Go Wrong?

Show your
Booster Gold pride!
Last week, comic book fans were treated to the news that SyFy, the cable channel that used to be SciFi which stood for Science Fiction and made sense at some point, has ordered a pilot for a series based on the DC Comics hero, Booster Gold. I'm mostly torn on this news. While it's a good thing that comic characters are getting more exposure, it's still SyFy.

While SyFy (God, how I hate typing that) do have a real respect for their material, they don't always get things right. They have a few hit shows, like Ghost Hunters, which has rapidly declined in years, Alphas, an otiginal show about super-humans which has just been renewed for a second season, and a remake of the BBC show, Being Human, but most of what they air is trite and nonsensical.

Let's be honest though. SyFy is the channel that tried to ride the wave of popularity of the History Channel show, Ice Road Truckers, by developing a movie called Ice Road Terror. Pair this with Sharktopus, Monster Ark, and Alien Apocalypse (whose only saving grace is Bruce Campbell) and it's clear they have a terrible track record for original programming.

Now I'm willing to concede that their serial programming is far more tolerable than their films. Maybe this has something to do with the costs of producing long-standing shows versus one-off movies. It's easy to drop $200,000 and shit out a 2-hour movie that can make $75,000 on advertising in one showing. But they might be a little more cautious in producing a 13-episode serial drama. Or, at least, I'm hoping they are.
But SyFy's involvement not-with-standing, costumed superhero movies just may not be en vouge. Look at David E. Kelley's Wonder Woman pilot from a few months back. First, you have Kelley, who has a great track recors in television, with The Practice and Ally McBeal. Wonder Woman is a well-known superhero with a built-in fan base, yet NBC passed on the pilot. Why?

Theories maintain Lynda
Carter hexed Palicki before
Well, all reports said the Wonder Woman pilot was just balls-out terrible. Not having seen it, I can't comment. But with big-name stars like Adrianne Palicki, Elizabeth Hurley and Cary Elwes, I have to point my finger at Kelley's writing. Most often, writers feel that they "get" the character, take control, and place them into scenes or situations that they feel relate best to superheroes. They lose sight that these superheroes work best when they're not super at all, but when they're most vulnerable.

Which brings me to my main point. If the writers SyFy hires for Booster Gold are any good, then the show could be real fun. Booster Gold is an arrogant dick, but he's got a good heart. A character like that can make a real fun show, provided he's placed in the right situations. If all we get is a superhero show just for the sake of cashing in on superheroes, then it will surely tank at the outset.

Not only would the writers have to understand the character but the actor as well. Like I said, Booster is extremely arrogant, so the smugness would be the key. I'd hate to say it, but someone like Charlie Sheen would be perfect. It's just a shame Sheen is too old and crack-emaciated to fit the look.

In the right hands, Booster Gold could be a good show. While I don't think the fanbase is there right off, a well written, well produced, well acted serial dramedy could grow it's own fanbase, and hopefully its audience would eventually seek out the source material, which would be a major boon to the comics industry. My biggest fear, though, and what is most likely to happen, is SyFy will hire a few amateur writers who'll read a couple issues of 52 and think they have what it takes to write the ultimate Booster Gold pilot. Something in me believes that Booster Gold will make Wonder Woman look like Citizen Kane in comparison.


Stop Black Friday?

Madness. (Image courtesy SheFinds.com)
So my old boss, who ironically is a manager in a retail store, sent me the link to Stop Black Friday. While I haven't spent too much time on the site, I took a quick look at it and I'm just flabbergasted at people's ignorance of the way big businesses operate.

Exactly like my feelings about the Occupy Wall Street Movement, I completely understand people's desire to boycott the big box stores. And for the most part, their logic behind the movement is sound. However, they are waging war without understanding the enemy well enough.

Yes, boycotting a store during the time they will make the most sales and pull in the most money will affect their bottom line. If the public can prevent a company from coming out of the red, that company will stand up and take notice. However, they will also fight back. See, what most people don't realize is that these corporations run by the 1% do not run businesses the way the government runs the public sector. The private sector will not maintain a losing status quo.

Scratch that. The private sector will not maintain a status quo that's even perceived as possibly losing. If there is even a hint that a business model will lose money, then the corporation will react. So if the public decides to boycott Walmart or Target or any of the others, who do you think will really suffer?

Their employees.

If Black Friday does not prove to be profitable, the lay-offs begin. People will start losing their jobs. And if that doesn't help to recoup the lost revenue from a shitty holiday season, then the corporation will look for other ways to cut costs. Like freeze cost-of-living wage increases, so employees won't even be getting their meager 15¢ per hour raise. Then they will pull whatever other benefits the employees get, like a retirement fund or a 401K match. Yes, some retail establishments do offer these perks. Or at least they did up until the economic downturn of a few years ago. And those that still do will stop.

I've been through all of this. I've worked for a company that took away raises and benefits. I went through it all, even getting laid off. What's more, a year after I lost my job, the company closed down the location I worked in, putting everyone in the store out of work.

You want to organize your boycotts of big business, go ahead. I won't stop you; I'm not even mad at you. However, when your plans don't go the way you want, and people you know begin losing their jobs, then you really can't blame the big businesses. They're only doing what you are doing; trying to survive.

Is it right? Not at all. Do I have any better ideas? No. But I do know that attacking the people that control so many jobs is not the best way to go. My recommendation would be to reduce the number of taxes these corporate and industrial entities pay, and to provide incentives to bring jobs back to America. I know that I'll be flamed for the idea that these businesses should pay less taxes, but I realize that one of the few ways to turn around our economic instability is to inflate the job market. We won't get that if we chase these companies away.

Face it. The Waltons can close down every single Walmart store worldwide, cease production of all goods and services, and still live like kings off of what they've already made. But where does that leave the millions of people they employ? In the lurch, fighting for the minute number of jobs that are available.

Should we still Stop Black Friday?


Happy Thanksgiving!

Image of deliciousness courtesy
Here at Caution: Idiot At Play, we love our holidays. It's a chance to take a break from our busy lives and spend some time with our families. Plus, we get to celebrate with a day away from our soul-sucking day-jobs. My plan today was to put together a Thanksgiving-themed post, but after wracking my brain, I couldn't come up with the right topic.

If you are a frequent visitor, you'll know about our Halloween posts, showcasing some amazing Jack-O-Lantern art. That's a pretty easy idea right there. But what can I do about Thanksgiving?

I could rehash the history of Thanksgiving, about the Pilgrims and the Native Americans and the way they put their differences aside and came together in harmony for a huge feast. But since the next day, the Pilgrims spread their smallpox to the Natives and stole their land once they were nearly decimated, I decided to pass on that idea.

Then I figured I could do something concerning the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, showing off the balloons that have taken part throughout the years. In all honesty, though I didn't have the time to research that, so maybe I'll put that in my back pocket for the future.

I had the idea to compile some delicious recipes, maybe even show a few videos of the Food Network chefs making delicious Thanksgiving dishes. But that just seemed kind of trite.

Since I just couldn't seem to narrow down what I want to do in this post, I figure I'll just do all three.

So, here's the History of Thanksgiving, courtesy of the History Channel...

...the Spider-Man balloon, floating through Manhattan...

...and Alton Brown fries a turkey, in three parts.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!


Is The Occupy Movement Over Yet?

Because it needs to be. This crap has been going on since September and will continue, yet it won't accomplish anything.

Look, I get that people are mad. The widening difference between the upper and lower classes and the erasure of the middle class is cause for alarm. This country certainly needs business and tax reform. But that's never going to come around from camping out in parks for months on end. What sort of dialogue has come out of Occupy Wall Street?

"The rich are too rich!"
"We need change!"
"What do you propose we do?"
"... The rich are too rich!"

Has there been any conversations besides that?

Some would say that the Occupy movement has been able to get people talking about business reform. I couldn't disagree more. The Occupy movement is self-perpetuating; no one is talking about reform. They're talking about the protests. I had a short debate on Twitter recently with someone who supports the Occupy movement. We clearly differed in opinions, and I asked her what propositions are being put forth the change the system as all I've been hearing are the whinings of a spoiled public. She provided me with two links to ideas that were conceived over a year ago. This crisis has been staring us in the face for years. The ideals that the Occupy movement are cowing about were predicted and written about by Donald Trump and Robert Kiyosaki more than 5 years ago.  No one listened then, including the protesters of the Occupy movement.

Yes, Big Business is greedy and are taking advantage of the people. Yes, government officials are no longer working in the best interests of the people who've put them in office because Big Business contributes to their campaign funds. Can this change? Yes, it can. Will it? Not by taking the track the Occupy movement have been.

The Occupy movement will have you believe that they are working hard to change things. I don't see hard work. If they want to affect change, they should be taking the battle to the politicians. Get inside the system and change it from the inside. Did we not just pass an election? Has anything changed? Not in New Jersey it hasn't, as most of the incumbents were reelected. Where's the change?

It reminds me of that Breckin Meyer movie, Blue State. Meyer's character moves to Canada because Bush wins the presidency, realizes he made a ridiculously rash decision, so moves back to America to become a politician himself, and actually work to the change he wanted. These protestors aren't working.

I know that Frank Miller is now the most hated man in the comic book industry because of his reaction to the Occupy movement, but he has a point, albeit a poorly worded, unnecessarily austere point. It's hard to take a group of people in designer clothes using expensive consumer tech as they bray on about income inequality. You gonna post a video to YouTube from the rally from your $500 iPhone? Yeah, you're needy.

I would like to see income equality as much as any one of these people. I'm scared to death that I won't be able to buy a house, raise a family, and retire comfortably. Going by my current status, that won't happen. But what I do realize is that standing around a park yelling at a bunch of tall buildings won't change that.
 Stop hiding behind your freedom of speech. Yes, Bill Of Rights. You can say what you want. But how about doing something instead? You want to affect real change? Get into the political game and change it from the inside!


Fifty Two...

What does the number "52" mean to me? That's the number of books I read in 2011!

Earlier in the year, I noticed that Goodreads was promoting a Reading Challenge, where Goodreads members stating the number of books they will read during the year. Some people pledged to read a ridiculously low amount of books, (like 5, who can't read 5 books in a year?) while others went with an overblown number (150? Impossible).

I decided on the number 52, to average one book a week. In the beginning of the year, I was blowing through books, two to three a week. It got to the point that I really needed to slow down because my brain couldn't take anymore.

But I'm proud to say that as of yesterday, November 13, my goal has been hit. With A Game of Thrones: A Song Of Ice and Fire, I have completed my 52 books for 2011. And I'm probably done with reading for the year.

Will I be doing this again next year? Probably not. Most of the books I read I didn't get the chance to enjoy because I wanted to get through them as a +1. I think come 2012, I'll scale myself back so that I can enjoy reading again. That's not to say I'm not proud of my accomplishment; just that I won't be marathon-reading again any time soon. (Is there a way to raise money for charity through reading? If so, I'd probably do that.)

In case you're interested, below is the list of the 52 books I read, with links to Amazon if you're interested in reading any of them.

A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1) - George R.R. Martin
Seizure - Kathy Reichs
No Dominion (Joe Pitt, #2) - Charlie Huston
Sweets: A New Orleans Crime Story - Kody Chamberlain
Alias Vol. 1 - Brian Michael Bendis
Why We Want You to be Rich: Two Men - One Message - Donald J. Trump & Robert Kiyosaki
Guilty Pleasures (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, #1) - Laurell K. Hamilton
The Fire Inside (Sidekicks, #1) - Raymond Rose
A Princess of Mars - Edgar Rice Burroughs
Badass: The Birth of a Legend: Spine-Crushing Tales of the Most Merciless Gods, Monsters, Heroes, Villains, and Mythical Creatures Ever Envisioned - Ben Thompson
Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex - Mary Roach
Mercury Rises - Robert Kroese
Vs. Reality - Blake Northcott
Dollars & Sense: The Definitive Guide to Self-publishing Success - Carolyn McCray
Plot & Structure - Write Great Fiction - James Scott Bell
Essential Moon Knight, Vol. 1 - Doug Moench
The DC Comics Guide to Writing Comics - Dennis O'Neil
Fight Club - Chuck Palahniuk
Casino Royale - Ian Fleming
Dexter in the Dark (Dexter, #3) - Jeff Lindsay
Simple Simon - Ryne Douglas Pearson
Already Dead (Joe Pitt, #1) - Charlie Huston
Write Good or Die - Scott Nicholson
Young Junius - Seth Harwood
Dearly Devoted Dexter (Dexter, #2) - Jeff Lindsay
The Graveyard Book - Neil Gaiman
The Mephisto Club (Jane Rizzoli & Maura Isles, #6) - Tess Gerritsen
American Psycho - Bret Easton Ellis
PLUTO 001 - Naoki Urasawa
Anansi Boys - Neil Gaiman
Carved in Bone (Body Farm, #1) - Jefferson Bass
Novelist's Boot Camp: 101 Ways to Take Your Book From Boring to Bestseller - Todd A. Stone
Achewood: The Great Outdoor Fight - Chris Onstad
Thank You for Smoking - Christopher Buckley
The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
The Inner Circle - Brad Meltzer
Go-Go Girls of the Apocalypse - Victor Gischler
Self-Publish Your Novel: Lessons from an Indie Publishing Success Story - Robert Kroese
Vanish (Jane Rizzoli & Maura Isles, #5) - Tess Gerritsen
World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War - Max Brooks
Body Double (Jane Rizzoli & Maura Isles, #4) - Tess Gerritsen
The Sinner (Jane Rizzoli & Maura Isles, #3) - Tess Gerritsen
Anybody Can Write: A Playful Approach - Jean Bryant
I am Number Four (Lorien Legacies, #1) - Pittacus Lore
Anathem - Neal Stephenson
Boomsday - Christopher Buckley
Grimspace (Sirantha Jax, #1) - Ann Aguirre
Start Late, Finish Rich: A No-Fail Plan for Achieving Financial Freedom at Any Age - David Bach
Rich Dad's Advisors®: The ABC's of Getting Out of Debt: Turn Bad Debt into Good Debt and Bad Credit into Good Credit - Garrett Sutton
The Millionaire Next Door - Thomas J. Stanley
The Black Dahlia (L.A. Quartet #1) - James Ellroy
Bottomfeeder: A Novel - Bob Fingerman


Green Lantern: The Animated Series

In Brightest Day, In Crappiest 3D Animation...
Admittedly, I wasn't very impressed with the commercials for the new Green Lantern: The Animated Series on Cartoon Network. Over the years, DC Comics and Warner Brothers have given us plenty of animated shows with more attractive animation styles, like the dark seriousness of Batman: The Animated Series, the quirky J-Pop style of Teen Titans, and the realistic yet playful Young Justice. What use do we need with a Green Lantern cartoon done up in a 3D rendered style? Not much if you asked me.

Putting my prejudices aside, I tuned in to the one-hour premiere earlier tonight (mostly by chance as I managed to catch it just in time) and I have to say I'm happy I did.

It's really no surprise that Green Lantern would get his own show, given the recent release of the movie. Though the movie wasn't received all that well by fans of the comic, it did make a buttload of money, and no doubt WB wants to ride that wave of popularity for whatever it can. Not to mention the relaunch of the DC Universe included 4 main Lantern themed books, as well as Hal Jordan showing up in other titles. Green Lantern is doing well, so Cartoon Network is happy to fan the flames.

I was willing to give the show a chance because I had high hopes for the writing. I'm glad to say I wasn’t disappointed on that front. At the beginning of the episode, Hal is already a Green Lantern, and well-versed in the use of his abilities, which I liked because it meant that they didn't have to rehash the same old origin story. (It probably helps to sell some DVDs as well, since the series seems to fit in nicely with the movie.)

I like that the Red Lanterns are the villains, though
they now vomit "energy" instead of blood.
The choice of villains is strange to me. Having the Green Lanterns square off against the Red Lanterns is a pretty ballsy move on WBs part. Seeing as how the Red Lanterns are the embodiment of rage, intent on killing, they would have to tone down their bloodlust quite a bit to make them more family-friendly, which they did well enough. But I was a little shocked that they held dear to the Red Lantern's core ideals and actually killed a couple of Green Lanterns. And there's no question about that. Though there was no on-screen, blood-filled death, the characters definitely died. Kudos to that.

I'm still not sold on Hal Jordan's new personality. Clearly DC is trying to make him more jocular and light-hearted, as opposed to the staunch heroics of the Hal Jordan of old. Ryan Reynolds epitomized the nu-Jordan in the movie, and even Geoff Johns gave Gal this new personality in the JLA reboot. But to do this, they've had to take Hal Jordan's confidence, and mix in Kyle Rayner's levity, while adding a pinch of the Guy Gardner arrogance. It works in a lot of ways, but it's not what I'm used to. I'm still willing to over look this as, so far, Hal has been a fairly strong character.

I still don't like the animation. It seemed like they are trying to emulate the style of Star Wars: The Clone Wars. But GL doesn't have the same texture or detail that Clone Wars has so it just comes off looking clunky and dated, like the old Reboot show from the 90s.

Overall, I'm happy with Green Lantern: The Animated Series. The writing is on par with what I expected, maybe even a little better. I really wish the producers had put a little more effort into the animation, but it was fluid enough to at least be shrugged off and accepted. I'll certainly be tuning in for at least another couple of episodes. I'm definitely willing to stick around for more on Atrocitus and the Red Lanterns. Hopefully there'll be an appearance by Dex-Starr in the future. It'll be worth it for that alone.


...In Which I Discuss A Strange Fascination With The Power Rangers

One day back in 1993, I stayed home sick from school. That day just so happened to be the day Mighty Morphin Power Rangers premiered on Fox 5. Having nothing better to do that lay in bed and drink ginger ale, I tuned in, despite having turned my nose up at the show throughout the endless promotions I had to endure while watching my other favorite cartoons. From the beginning, I became infatuated with the show, rarely missing an episode.

The Megazord protects my
TV from would-be thieves
“Infatuation” is probably a good way to describe it. I watched the show endlessly, going so far as to record them and create my own little box sets of story-arcs, complete with box art and all. I played the video games, the SNES game much more fun than one would expect. I had the toys. Hell, I still have the Megazord, standing stalwartly next to my television.

So when I heard that Mighty Morphin Power Rangers were coming to Netflix a few months back, I was stoked. It was quite irritating that the premier season of the Power Rangers was never released on DVD. I would have bought that shit with the quickness. But to have it available instantly streaming on Netflix was an acceptable second prize.

I spent hours upon hours watching the show, powering my way through 3 seasons and over a hundred episodes in the span of two weeks. There were so many episodes that even I thought I’d be fed up with it, hearing all of the corny one-liners and bad dialogue. But no. I needed more. So I moved on to Power Rangers Zeo. By the end of that I moved on to Power Rangers Turbo. This is when my resolve started to falter, especially with the inclusion of a 12 year old kid in the show. (Seriously, what high schoolers would hang out with a 12-year-old? That’s just fucking weird.)

After Turbo, the series is just bad. But for some reason I continue to watch. I think I’ve just gotten to the point where if I make it to the end, I can use it as some sort of bragging right. (Though who would brag about that…)

Without a doubt the most
badass Ranger ever
I’m currently stuck in the middle of Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue, which is slightly more watchable than Power Rangers Lost Galaxy. Although, based on what I’ve read on Wikipedia, I’m kinda looking forward to Dino Thunder, and the return of Jason David Frank.

Also, with this news coming out of Korea, Mystic Force may be cool. I mean, it was inspirational enough for a video game developer to produce an MMO based on the season, so it must have some intrinsic value.

Eh, who am I kidding? Power Rangers has absolutely no intrinsic value. But I’ve never been someone to apologize for enjoying things. I have fun watching Power Rangers (well, had fun) so I think I’ll continue to do so.

Also, it is interesting to note this peculiar relationship. It would seem that the concept that works in Power Rangers was developed during the Japanese live-action Spider-Man show. I don't know how... I don't care how. But awesome.


ThunderCats... HOOO!

Anyone who knows me knows how much I like ThunderCats. Having watched the show growing up in the 80s, ThunderCats has to be one of my favorite animated shows, right up there with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the 90s X-Men cartoon. So when I heard about the new cartoon showing on Cartoon Network, I was all over it.

OK. I understand that the new ThunderCats is old news by now, having been on the air for a couple of months right now. But honestly, I can’t get over how good it is. This past Friday, the show featured the Berbils, the robot-bear race of creatures from the ThunderCats, and the episode was fantastic. Though it did nothing to add to the characterization of the main cast, and probably only marginally added to the overall plot of the story (though I wouldn’t put it past the writers to make the Berbils a major plot-point in the resolution of the season) the episode was just downright fun to watch.

It also gets to me every time I walk into a Toys R Us, or saunter down the toy aisle at Wal-Mart. I already had a Lion-O, but I was lucky enough to snag a Panthro and Cheetara for my collection wall, being completely shocked to see more than Lion-O, Mumm-Ra, and Tygra on the pegs. (They also had Wilykit and Wilykat, but I didn’t have enough cash on hand to pick them up. Hopefully, I’ll see them again eventually so that I don’t wind up regretting not getting them when I have the chance.)

What I really want, though, is the Sword of Omens. Being comprised on multiple gimmicks popularized by a variety of toys, the Sword of Omens features a telescoping blade, a la the Star Wars lightsabers, to recreate the blade enhancing feature of the cartoon. The sword and has flip-up blades on the side and a light-up feature in the center jewel, mimicking Lion-O’s “sight beyond sight”. Add to the mix sword-clashing sound effects and you got the makings of a great child’s toy (shut up, don’t judge me).

I’m really hoping that Bandai doesn’t miss the boat and not make a Snarf plush toy. Having been the worst part of the ThunderCats from the 80s, Snarf’s updated personality as a cognizant pet makes the character much more enjoyable. He tends to do some adorable things in the show, so a plush toy would certainly be a draw. I don’t personally know if I’d buy a plushie, but I’ve no doubt that it would be a cash-cow for Bandai. (I did search for one online before typing this up, but this was all I could find. At $150, I doubt it’s officially licensed, though.) I mean, come on. You can’t look at this Snarf plush and tell me a new one wouldn’t be a good idea.

As I was looking for information concerning a plush Snarf (to guarantee I wasn’t hoping for something that wasn’t already a reality. I did find this, but at $150, I doubt it's officially licensed.), I came across these awesome character spec sheets. These images show the ThunderCats in a variety of poses and are used by the animators to work out different details of the characters. While these have probably been posted all over the place already, they’re still pretty cool.
Image source - IGN; ThunderCats © Warner Bros

Image source - IGN; ThunderCats © Warner Bros
Image source - IGN; ThunderCats © Warner Bros

Image source - IGN; ThunderCats © Warner Bros

Image source - IGN; ThunderCats © Warner Bros

Image source - IGN; ThunderCats © Warner Bros

Image source - IGN; ThunderCats © Warner Bros

Image source - IGN; ThunderCats © Warner Bros

Image source - IGN; ThunderCats © Warner Bros


Happy Halloween!

It's Halloween again, and what better way to celebrate than with the original 1984 trailer for Ghostbusters?

(It's a good thing trailer-making has come a long way since then.)

Or how about the trailer for Ghostbusters II?

Or, just for shits and giggles, a video from the Halloween Special episode of the Real Ghostbusters, featuring a Halloween song-and-dance?



Halloween Treats!

What's Halloween without Jack O'Lanterns? If you've visited this blog before, you've probably noticed that we showcase the best carved pumpkins we can find. But more than just showing off other people's pumpkins, Lauren and I like to carve our own. This year, our pumpkins came out so good that we are excited to show them off to you.

First up, Lauren made this cute little Adipose pumpkin. Adipose is a thing from Doctor Who, which Lauren is infatuated with as of late. She thinks her pumpkin looks bad, but I disagree. I think she did a good job, especially compared to mine.

Lauren's Adipose pumpkin

I carve out Jack Skellington's face. The main character from The Nightmare Before Christmas, Jack's face was fairly easy to do, with the mouth being the most time consuming. Though it was pretty easy, I'm still proud of it.

Michael's Jack Skellington pumpkin

Lauren also spent some time making this awesome graveyard brownie cake for her job's Halloween party. The brownie was an easy, out-of-the-box brownie mix, but she decorated it awesomely. The gravestones are made from mini-Hershey bars, and the piled-up dirt is crushed Oreo cookies. Lauren rounded out the design with little pretzel sticks for a fence and little pumpkin candies.

Delicious graveyard brownie... At least it looks delicious.

So, how did it taste, you ask? I have no idea. I didn't get any. Which is good, because it means that Lauren's creation was a major hit at the Halloween party. I just hope she makes another one soon so I can try it.


The Fire Inside - A Book Review

An exemplary superhero story
I’m a sucker for superhero stories. So when I heard about The Fire Inside by Raymond M. Rose, I was excited to read it.

The first book in Rose’s Sidekicks series, The Fire Inside focuses on Jack King, an ex-superhero who is happy with his retirement from saving the world from a host of super villains. That is, until his best friend and ex-partner is killed mysteriously and Jack gets pulled back into the game. Rose does a nice job of establishing his characters identities, both as superheroes and civilians. The world has changed in the ten years since the event that caused most of the superheroes to hang up their tights, but Rose manages to keep it exciting by flashing back and forth between then and now. Little by little, characters are revealed as they become integral to the plot, which prevents the book from being weighed down by to many names and faces from the start.

The overall plot of the novel is unexpected. For a story based on superheroes, Rose chose to not concentrate on some over-blown plan to take over/destroy/enslave the world. Though there is evil for evil’s sake, Rose gives his villains a purpose, taking  the idea of super-powered beings and placing them into a well-thought-out drama of political espionage. The story retains what I enjoy about superhero stories, like the awesome powers, colorful characters, and tongue-in-cheek repartee, but becomes believable.

Unfortunately, The Fire Inside is not perfect. Quite a bit of the dialogue is overly cheesy, the kind of thing that would make Adam West roll his eyes. The most distracting part of the book is the number of typos. As a self-published novel, one would expect a few misspellings or incorrect tense usage to slip into the finished product. However, The Fire Inside has more than just a few. But every writer learns from their mistake, and it's certain that Rose will be more cognizant of his mistakes in future novels.

Despite the novel’s setbacks, I would totally recommend The Fire Inside to anyone who enjoys a good superhero story. As the first part of a ten-book series (as Rose has stated his Sidekicks series is planned to be), there is a lot of room for improvement. If Rose is able to make his cast of characters this exciting in the very beginning, I can’t wait to see what he has in store as they begin to evolve.



Oh. No, wait. It was just the annual Zombie Walk at Asbury Park this past weekend. With blood on the streets, screams in the air, skin peeling off faces, rolling eyes, occasional drooling, and slow walks, who wouldn’t want to be a part of this awesome experience. And should you have missed it or were too scared to join us, let me help to recap some of the highlights that I thought were pretty cool.

To start off, I want to say Thank You to all of the locals who welcomed us with signs around the area and discounted deals in their stores. You guys rock!

The Welcoming Demon
Now back to the walk. The day was pretty chilly, especially by the water on the boardwalk, but that didn’t stop the diehard zombie fans from wearing whatever they wanted. Dedication would be one of the words that I would use to describe some of the ripped, dirty and rundown costumes that I saw. To give you an idea, I snapped a few shots of the ones that I categorized as being creepy, creative, adorable and gooey, which you can see labeled below.

Before the walk even started, they had a Thriller dance that was done by zombie volunteers who actually took lessons starting in September. If you’re interested in joining them, I would recommend checking them out for next year. Inside the Paramount Theater was a set-up of the Undead Festival, where you could meet with famous zombie writers and artists, professional make-up artists that could do a zombie look for you for a small fee, and lots of vendors.

The walk started at 5 PM, with mobs of people on both sides trying to snap pictures, the walking dead crew filming some action shots and professional photographers galore. It seriously did look like the dead had awakened and were walking through town. At this point my feet weren’t hurting too bad. It was the walk back when my feet were killing me! Yes, my feet hurt but what can a girl do? When it goes with the outfit, it goes with the outfit.

'Gimme gimme gimme!'
Once we completed the walk, we gathered around a small stage where the organizers were giving away books, gift cards, coupons, The Walking Dead action figures, shirts, “prescription” sugar pills, and recyclable bags. I was lucky enough to get a free book and a gift card to Sideshow Collectibles. I want to thank the G.I. Joe zombie girl who pushed her way to get to the front and got nothing. Just an FYI…saying “I’m sorry” after every time you push someone doesn’t mean it’s OK to continue to do it!

Bagpipe zombie family
After all the free stuff was gone, they had one more Thriller dance and the show was over. Some zombies stayed around the area while others headed home. We went back to the boardwalk and had dinner at a place called Metro, which I would recommend as a place to eat should you visit Asbury Park.

So will I go back for another year of the gore, screams, and my feet crying out in pain? The answer is…YES! Not every day can your scream out BRAINS and not get looked at like you’re crazy.

Brains… brains… BRAINS!
How NOT to be a
Creepy-ass Clown zombie

Damn shame what they did to that dog

Awesome zombie-job
Cute little Dorothy zombie

TWO creative zombie costumes

Melty face zombie
Scarecrow zombie

Gooey zombie stew

Me outside Paranormal NJ, a cool
occult book store in Asbury Park, NJ


The Sexy Armpit Halloween Special 2011

A couple of weeks back, Jay from The Sexy Armpit asked me to be a part of his new project; a series of web videos. After a week and a half of strenuous filming and hardcore special effects work (not really), the Halloween Special is complete. And, for your viewing pleasure, here it is!

Creating this video with Jay was a blast! Not only did we have a lot of fun making up, with his killer edits the final product came out great. I also got the chance to visit a really cool store down in Asbury Park, NJ. Paranormal NJ has a ton of great books, supplies, and other shit related to the occult. There's also a Paranormal museum in the back of the store, though I didn't get the chance to go through it. If you're in the area, check it out.

And be sure to keep your eyes peeled for future videos from Jay and me. We're aiming to make about one a month, so we should have a new one fairly soon.

Thanks for watching!


Why Batman Shouldn't Be In A JLA Movie

Jay from The Sexy Armpit and I were discussing the new Avengers trailer the other day, wondering why DC and Warner Brothers didn't take the same route as Marvel, using individual character movies to introduce a full-fledged JLA movie. Jay stated that DC was always weird when it came to Batman, not wanting to pair him with another hero and having him share the spotlight. Thinking about this for a moment, I feel DC and Warner are right to not include Batman in a JLA film.
Art by Brad Green

Batman is the kind of character that needs to be in control. The loss of his parents at a young age would have caused such a deep seated psychological trauma, proving to himself that he has no control over life. The young, scarred Bruce Wayne would go out of his way to prove this belief incorrect by immersing himself into as many different things as possible and pushing his body and his mind to their limits. Most of his career was spent as a solitary soldier against evil, with only some behind-the-curtain assistance from Alfred, his family's oldest and most trusted employee. He didn't enter into a more public partnership until he met Dick Grayson, whom he molded into his partner, Robin.

That's the main point here. Batman did not form a partnership until he was able to control their learning.

Every sidekick Batman has ever had has been taught closely by Batman himself. He knows how they think, showing them how to react to situations. In a battle, Batman is confident that they have the skills necessary to provide support. But, in a team setting like the JLA, Batman doesn't have those guarantees.

Granted, the JLA is comprised of DC's most powerful and talented heroes. They have so many different skills and knowledge-bases to take on whatever they need to. I'm sure Batman trusts their abilities, but does he trust them to make the right decisions?

For someone like Batman, I wouldn't think so. Batman would know the way his teammates thinking, putting in the time to study their past actions. But his teammates wouldn't be so studious and wary of the other JLA members. Batman would understand their psyches, but they wouldn't understand him. This would prevent him from joining a team like the JLA.

I'm well aware that Batman has been a member of almost every JLA team in the DC Universe. However, this is mostly a ploy to sell the series. Would the JLA be interesting without Batman? Absolutely. Would it sell as well? Probably not. Despite the fact that Batman is a full-fledged member of the JLA, judging by his psychosis and trust issues, were he real, his being a member of a team is completely unbelievable. Sure, Batman can be a team player, when he's in control. With the JLA, Batman needs to relinquish much of that control, which I doubt he would be comfortable with.
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