Monday, April 30, 2012

Fighting Fantasy Books Turn 30

Back in the day when I was a wee lad, video games were a rarity. Toys and books and creativity were all the rage, and Choose Your Own Adventure books were the coolest thing ever to check out of your library. There were a lot of competition in the CYOA racket, but one particular champion rose to the top. Steve Jackson (UK) and Ian Livingston (co-creaters of Games Workshop) had taken the CYOA model and combined it with the unique character/adventurer commonly found in RPGs like Dungeons and Dragons and created Fighting Fantasy books. Now you the reader could play the character within the book and uniquely develop them to your liking. Collecting different items and rolling dice to determine the outcome. 59 of these books were written

30 years later, they are back in the form of iOS apps for your iPhone and iPads (well, 5 of them anyway). In celebration of them turning 30, Big Blue Bubble is selling them via iTunes for .99 cents each! So go buy them and tell us all about them!

Evil is Back. Also, Make Sure to Take May 15th off.

And if you can't take it off, make certain to call in sick.

Fuck. Yeah.

Kickstart the Week: Ace of Spies by Sprocket Games

Who doesn't love a good spy game?

Ace of Spies is a card game of set collecting and sneakiness that comes from the minds of two first time designers, Michael Fox and Mark Rivera with playtesting and development by industry legend Richard Borg. Players take on the roles of spymasters, tasked with taking on missions and gathering the resources needed to complete them. The more complex a mission, the more specific your required resources will be – but it’ll also be so much more valuable!
What's interesting about Ace of Spies is that in theme of game, the Kickstarter video says very little about the actual game, and the very fun twitter feed (!/Ace_of_Spies) is also eeking out information of the game in little tiny secret tidbits at a time. It's the complete opposite of the suggested approach to give everyone the information they need, and not to make people search for it.. but Ace of Spies seems to be doing just well. They're at 29% of their $40,000 goal, with 42 days to go.

I did some of my own spy work and uncovered a gameplay demo video:

More interesting facts about the game: Ace of Spies was co-designed by Michael Fox, host of the brilliant gaming podcast, The Little Metal Dog Show. Also, Sprocket Games is offering free shipping worldwide (crazy!), and you can get a copy of the game with artwork of yourself on both an Agent card and the box top (insane!). Both of these are very costly, but wonderful gestures.

Check out Ace of Spies on Kickstarter:

Penn Jillette Responds to his Ridiculous Firing on the Celebrity Apprentice. IN SONG!

If you're one of the chosen few that reads my Celebrity Apprentice recaps then you'll already be aware of my seething, pissing disdain that man-mountain Penn Jillette (my personal favourite to win) was unjustly fired by an increasingly random and detached Donald Trump. This outrage is not to be taken lightly, so imagine how thrilled I was to discover that Penn has made an official statement about America's latest pre-emptive strike on intelligence. Although not quite how you may initially expect...

You see Penn is SINGING about his ludicrous dismissal in this brand new music video. At least I think that's what he's doing. The lyrics are generally hard to make out - in fact the whole experience is like having an angry Dr. Teeth from the Muppets yell at you.

But I think Penn is screaming about how some people bust their humps working in very difficult real life circumstances that pale in comparison to the farcical celebrity circus he has just been involved with. Or I've got the whole thing wrong and he's merely choking on something. Either way, I adore Penn so check him out!


Doctor Who Meets Metal (And More)

What is better than the theme songs to Doctor Who, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Back to the Future, and Game of Thrones? When they are done in METAL

Watch the rest after the jump

Hotel Transylvania

Here's a new 3d "cartoony" animated film from Sony Pictures, "Hotel Transylvania"

Sony pictures was also responsible for the cartoony "Cloudy with a chance of Meatballs". I loved that film it felt like a wonderful break from the Pixar/Dreamworks 3d styles (that I dig but you know too much cake..) and more like a cartoon network cartoon. Bendy limbs, large expressions, cartoon logic and an underling goal to make you laugh and have fun.

Another ace this film has is bringing on Mr Dexters Labotory, Samurai Jack Genndy Tartakovsky!!!

He began working on this film after his wonderful series "Sym-bionic Titan" was cancelled by aholes. That was really heartbreaking to lose such a clever, unique, beautiful and exciting show over the belief that they couldnt sell toys  with it. So I've been waiting for this film to come out since the demise of Sym-Bionic Titan.

Adam Sandler on this film seems to be the criticism everyone is finding with the film but I really want this film to go well so Sony Pictures and Genndy will keep making different fantastic films

I put a collection of Genndy Tartakovsky videos after the jump

Sunday, April 29, 2012

World of Warcraft Mists of Pandaria Beta Part 2: Level 85 and Beyond!

Back in Part One I tried out the Pandaren starting area and bemoaned the fact that the Mists of Pandaria beta wouldn't allow me to import a level 85 character into the world to test the larger level 85-90 content. Well all that has changed since the last time I logged in! I was able to choose a pre-made level 85 Pandaren monk and begin questing in the brand new continent of Pandaria. (Which, to be fair, is still not very misty).

If none of that made sense, then I've probably already lost you. But, if you're picking up what I'm putting down, then join me after the jump for my next bouncy panda foray into the wider world of Warcraft!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Playmobil Figures Series 2 and 3: Randomization and Customization

The Playmobil Figures (actually called Fi?ures) series 2 is out in stores now. I managed to pick up a few packages at my local Five Below for about $3.00 each. 

These continue with a similar feel of iconic character types as the Lego mini figure series does, but at the same time they really branch out on their own... into some seriously bizarre territory.

Click through the jump for a deeper look at what Playmobil is up to. I have images of the figures I received, the other crazy/awesome/strange Series 2 figures, the upcoming Series 3 figures, and some ups and downs of Playmobil customization. 


Springtime brings about of my favorite hobbies: going to yard sales.  My town’s annual yard sale was this weekend, and I was able to get some pretty weird and interesting stuff.

This boxing nun was for free, because the guy knew me from bar trivia, and because I couldn't find change smaller than for a five. I think I'll have her fight Lady Elaine Fairchilde.

Lego Exclusive Minifigure Promos! and official Lego stores are running some very tempting promotions in May.

First on May the 4th (Star Wars Day) and the 5th, you can get a free minifigure of TC-14, the silver-plated C3-P0 dopplegänger from The Phantom Menace. It's not really free though. You need to spend $75 US on Lego Star Wars sets. This is tough considering there aren't any new sets for a few months... but I want that damn silver droid!

May 4th-5th: Free TC-14 minifigure with $75 (US) Star Wars set purchase (in-store & on-line)
Then from May 16th-30th, you can get a cheaper (but still not free) standard sized Hulk minifigure with any Lego purchase of $50. Forget the massive Hulk figure that comes in the Superhero sets... this tiny figure, with hair bigger than his muscles, is the one that I need! Although I prefer TC-14, I think this purchase will be much easier to justify. I'm behind on a ton of sets, so it could be a good chance to pick up some of the Superhero sets, or even some of those cool Dinosaurs.

May 16th-30th: Free Hulk minifigure with $50 (US) Lego purchase (in-store & on-line)

Avengers Assemble! Hot Toys Captain America Pre-Order.

Although I ragged on his on-screen costume in my Avengers review, this upcoming 6th scale Captain America from Hot Toys looks pretty incredible. All jazz ballet jibes aside I have to concede that this is an amazingly crafted figure, and anyone managing to actually collect all of the team members is going to have a very impressive (and expensive) display on their hands. I have the Hot Toys Batman Begins Bruce Wayne/Batman and can attest to the quality, detail and uncanny shrunken likenesses. Admittedly I won't be rushing out to get Cap, but I think I'll be very tempted to grab Black Widow when her pre-order is up for grabs shortly.

I imagine that these will be popular (especially once the movie opens in the US) so if you're going to take the plunge then you probably should  check out more images and pre-order him at Sideshow Collectibles:
Hot Toys Movie Masterpiece Series Captain America Sixth Scale Figure - The Avengers

They also have limited stock of the First Avenger World War II version as well:
Hot Toys Movie Masterpiece Series Captain America 12-inch Figure - Captain America: The First Avenger

Join me after the jump if you need a reminder of what the equally amazing Hawkeye and Nick Fury pieces will look like.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Mr Foley

A man tries to escape his soundtrack

ThreeA Toys Showcase Portal Robots and More!

I'm consistently entranced by the work of ThreeA toys, spearheaded by phenomenal artist Ashley Wood (who hails from right here in Perth!). ThreeA are now in the midst of their Re-Venture toy and art show and there's some simply stunning future product images spilling onto the web. One of particular note is their incredibly detailed figures of Atlas and P-Body from Portal 2:

For more on ThreeA and their releases and where to find them, join me after the jump!

Review: Mass Effect 3 Action Figures Wave 1 and 2.

You know what I love? Bioware’s epic space trilogy Mass Effect and collecting things that I don’t really need. So when I saw that Big Fish Toys were releasing their second wave of action figures - this time based on Mass Effect 3 - I faced the inevitable realisation that I would have to have them all. For some reason. Then I could lie on the living room floor and use them to re-enact all my favourite Mass Effect moments and awkward, inter-species sexual relations.
Well last week the first eight figures arrived. What do they look like? Are they any good? Which characters are present and who is still missing? Find out all this and maybe some more... after the (mass effect relay) jump!

Thank GIF it's Friday

I would love to know the origin of this.

Tarantino's Django Unchained Looks Finger Lickin' Good.

Not every highly-anticipated film this year involves spandex-clad muscle-men saving the world by punching each other in the face. Let's not forget that Sir Quentin Tarantino also has a new movie releasing in 2012: Django Unchained, his riff on classic westerns.

Those gadabouts at Entertainment Weekly seem to somehow have beaten us to the scoop by scoring the first official shots of the three main characters in costume. Check out Jamie Foxx as the titular character Django at the link, as well as Christoph Waltz as some kind of wild west hairy galoot. But the image that really surprised me was to learn that dreamy Leonardo DiCaprio appears to be playing the young Colonel Sanders:
I'm a big fan of your chicken.
I can only assume that this film is largely about the young Colonel's quest to gather 11 secret herbs and spices with the aid of his trusty hammer. It's exhausting work and it also results in the invention of the refresher towelette. Which basically changed the way we view the world today. I'm a huge fan of designer facial hair in films - especially on villains - and this appears to be some fine work from Leo. I may cosplay as him in the future.

If Tarantino manages to entertainment even half as much as Inglorious Bastards then this will be one to look out for. Assuming modern audiences are still capable of sitting through a film which doesn't contain a Hulk.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Pokemon Battle Royale: 151 Pokemon, Illustrated By 151 Different Artists

If I could get to Minneapolis, MN before May 11th, I would TOTALLY have to see the Pokemon Battle Royale exhibit in person. Just the name alone sounds awesome, POKEMON BATTLE ROYALE.

#2 - Ivysaur by Andrew Kolb

Light Grey Art Lab commissioned 151 artists to design/paint/illustrate an 8x8 image of the first 151 Pokemon characters (a/k/a the best 151 Pokemon characters). The art styles vary so much, and it's such a joy to look at these images, and find your favorite Pokemon.

Many of them are available as prints for just $40! I can't decide which one I need the most... so I'll probably just have to get them all. Did I mention that I'm a huge Pokemon fan? My Dewgong deck will destroy you.

Visit the complete gallery online at

...and you can buy prints at

Click through the jump for a selection of favorites!

Shadowrun Returns - Kickstarter Campaign Final Hours

Back in the day, Shadowrun was (and still is) one of the coolest tabletop RPGs out there. A fusion of a modern day D&D and cyberpunk set in a future version of America, the game was streets ahead for its time (early 90s) where you could play Street Samurai, Riggers, Mages, and Deckers. During that time, several video games were made based on Shadowrun, the best among them being for the Super Nintendo and the Sega Genesis, both with their own unique storylines and characters. Since its origins, its seen 4 editions of the tabletop RPG, and some less than stellar video games, but that is all about to change.

 Jordan Weisman, the original designer of the original Shadowrun game/concept, has licensed back the game and is about to embark on a recreation of his original work in another video game aptly named Shadowrun Returns, and will be released for the Mac, PC and Linux (for the true Deckers out there). They asked for $400,000 to make it, and with just under 60 hours left in the campaign they are currently over $1.5 million.


You can pledge your $15 here for whats likely to be a fantastic game, or more for some awesome swag.

Don't know much about Shadowrun? Oh son, read on and learn

Robot Chicken DC Comics Special!

Too bad it'll have to wait for fall but look what was announced today!

Get all the information here at!!  Sweet!

The Readthrough of Time: The Dragon Reborn

The Readthrough of Time continues this week with The Dragon Reborn, the third volume in Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series. As with the previous books thus far, I won't be doing a traditional review, although it is worth noting that this is the first book I've encountered that mirrors a lot of the complaints that I've heard over the years about the series. We'll dive into that and more beyond the jump.

Hot Problems: "Party with My Friends" A Star Wars Sing-Along

If you can get Ackbar to sing your song, then you know you've made it.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Avengers '78

Of late it seems like we've been Avengers HQ, so in continuation of this trend, here's an oldie but a goodie - Avengers '78. In which the Avengers meet for the first time, fight Loki and KISS and are generally bad ass. 

This may or may not be real.

Tom Hiddleston defends superhero movies and is smarter than you

Tom Hiddleston (i.e. my latest dishy Englishman, also Loki In Thor and The Avengers) flexes his Cambridge muscles in an article posted in the Guardian about the appeal of Superhero movies. I'm rather gratified that my instinctual belief that he was one smart bastard has been proved true. Totally impressive and profound piece by a dude who knows his shit. Respect.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

What's Out? 25th of April 2012

If you're in Australia it's a public holiday and you'll just have to make do with watching The Avengers movie until tomorrow. For everybody else, here's what you can get:

Review: The Avengers.

There are so many smug one-liners in the first half of Joss Whedon's The Avengers that you could seamlessly add a continual sitcom laugh-track, complete with "Wooooos!" and cheers every time somebody enters a room. Sure, Tony Stark is jokey, but now everyone is jokey and quirky. Thor drops one-liners. Coulson is crazy quirky. The random guy working on the computer in the background on the hellicarrier is quirky and jokey (I'm not exaggerating here - you'll see for yourself what he's doing). At times it's like watching an episode of Friends set at a cosplay convention. I guarantee that at some point in the future someone WILL cut it together with a laugh track and we'll all laugh again but for a different reason.

Is that a criticism? Well, yes and no. Because it also makes the movie a lot of fun. It jets along at a solid pace, always thrusting new characters and conflicts into our face (literally if you're watching it in 3D - more weapons break out of the screen than any modern 3D movie I've seen prior to this) and the script is generally quite funny. The jokes don't always work, but there's enough of them flying around for many of them to stick. 

And that's a perfect example of the mixed feelings that I have about The Avengers, a film that I was desperately excited to see, and am still kind of buzzed about in its wake. It's story is messy bordering on non-existent, the tone is uneven, many things happen purely because the advancement of the plot demands it or - even worse - because it services a punchline. And yet this movie is incredibly entertaining. There's no question that it's a must-see on a scale that dwarfs its predecessors, and with an action-packed second half that will be sure to appease anybody with a pulse. The midnight crowd I saw it with were certainly appreciative and I would guess that most adored it. 

If you can relax, switch off and have fun then it's a perfect popcorn adventure. But we're going to try to go a little deeper than that. Because remember Michael Bay? He makes movies with paper thin, jumbled stories; quirky, jokey characters, and huge action scenes, but we don't give him a free pass, right? We pull it all apart and talk about what does and doesn't work. Whedon is certainly no Bay but this movie perhaps skirts that arena a little more than you might think. Nobody pulls down their pants or humps anybody's leg though. We can still love Whedon for his wit.

Both spoiler-free and spoiler-filled reactions after the jump.

Celebrity Apprentice Recaps: Episode Ten. Bullshit.

It’s another infuriating episode of the Celebrity Apprentice this week, with an outcome that will make your eyes roll so far backwards that you’ll be able to wink at your brain. 

Seriously, if the reasons for firing contestants were any more random, Donald Trump would just close his eyes, spin around, and point somewhere across the table. The show once again proves that it’s not about business, it’s not about ability, it’s not even really about personality... it’s just a jumbled farce where an old rich guy pokes randomly at celebrities, trying to elicit some sort of reaction or drama, like a raccoon rummaging through the trash. (A reverse raccoon, of course, because Donald is completely tanned except for around his eyes).

To find out what made my blood boil and buttocks clench, join me after the jump!

Moebius x Cindy Crawford x Japanese soft drink

These are pretty great. Two old Japanese adds featuring designs by the late great Moebius and staring a young Cindy Crawford for a drink called "Pocari Sweat".

Now my translation of things Japanese isn't great but I'm sure this drink is made of magical supermodel sweat. MMMM... salty

Stryder's Favourite Comics - 4/18/2012 Part 2

As promised yesterday, here's the rest of my favourite comics!  Check out Part 1 if you haven't yet and enjoy!

All set?  Ok let's get right into the official begging of "Night of the Owls"!!

Batman #8 "We're in the HEART of your house, Bruce!  The House of Wayne!  And of BATMAN!"

"Night of the Owls" officially kicks off with a bang!  A heart-to-heart between an injured and subdued Bruce Wayne and the ever-faithful Alfred is interrupted when an ARMY of Talons invades the mansion!!  Bruce has been nearly killed several times in the last bunch of issues by a SINGLE Talon.  Now we have a multitude!!  This is not good...

Luckily, while Bruce may not be at his best physically, his brain is still working.  He leads the Talons on a chase through mansion and Bat-Cave, giving both himself and Alfred some space to move, and then he quickly suggests a tactical retreat into what may be the most useful room around...the Bat-Cave Armoury!

The thing about this book, and the Talons and the Court of Owls...the thing about it is, it's so creepy and urgent and threatening and familiar all at the same's just unsettling.  I don't remember when I've been this interested or this creeped out by a comic book story, EVER.  Maybe Neil Gaiman's Sandman back in the day...Great Work DC!

We are also treated to a back-up story this issue that will continue and follow Alfred if the rumours are true.  For this issue it continues directly off the main story.   In part one here, Alfred manages to decode a list of targets from one of the Talons and call all of the Bat-Family in for back-up!  I don't know if they'll be in time to save him though.  Oh, this story is titled "The Call" but the overall story ark is called "Fall of the House of Wayne"!  Like I said above...Unsettling!

Of course it doesn't stop there!  More Owls after the JUMP!

Nerd History: Emmy Noether

I'm not really much of a math guy - it's a wonder I can balance my checkbook. So if someone asked me to name even one famous mathematician, I'd probably be lost for words. With that said, so many unrelated people shared this story from the New York Times about Emmy Noether that I would be lax in sharing it here.

I am not one to be able to speak of her accomplishments, as I don't really understand them. What I can tell you is that Albert Einstein considered her one of the most significant mathematicians, and her work is at the root of various mathematical and scientific theories ranging from Einstein's theory of relativity to the current search for the Higgs-Boson. Given that her heyday was back in the early 1900s, it's impressive enough that she was able to come up with so much advanced theory, never mind being a woman at that time in history - heck, the women and math stereotype still persists in 2012, and Noether was busting that up 100 years ago.

Noether's someone more of us should know. Share this with the people in your life, because it really is a pretty inspiring story.

F**k Yeah Game of Thrones! Episode Four: Garden of Bones

ZOMGWTF Game of Thrones!!! Any misgivings about the expository/introductory nature of the first few episodes are quickly dashed as we are bludgeoned by what might be the most messed up episode of Game of Thrones episode ever. And for more reasons than one! Holy crap! I can think of at least three reasons to cower during this one!

Pew! Pew! Pew!
To find out more about the dark depravity that lies before you, join me after the jump where we will shiver and squeal like tiny girls. (And, as always, remember that I have never read the books and all of this is new to me!).

The Book Was Better Podcast: Episode 16: Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom!

Did you know that Jessica McLeod and I have a podcast where we discuss, debate and mock movie novelisations!? Well we do! And this one is about my favourite adventurer: Indiana Jones! It is guaranteed to give you all Indiana Jonesers boners!

Here's what Jess had to say:
"Much like Indiana Jones and his paramour Willie Scott, Luke and Jessica yell at each other a lot in this one. But you, the listener, are their beloved Short Round, and by the end of the episode they will get married and take you back to America with them. Or Jessica will stab Luke with his own Indie action figure. Listen and find out!"
Ha ha, it's true! She nearly murders me during the recording of this one.

You can grab it on itunes or download it now from the official site!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Avengers Trailer (sweded)

Avengers is out this week time to get amped by watching the trailer again

...those budget cuts are starting to show.

Stryder's Favourite Comics - 4/18/2012 Part 1

My big week for comics this week and so once again I split this thing into 2 parts!  No one wants to read about 8 comics all at once right?  Even if 5 of them at least MENTION "Night of the Owls"?  There's a topic that's mostly going to show up tomorrow...for now, let's see who (besides me) thinks Green Arrow's a little silly?

Justice League #8 - Green Arrow is such a wannabe stalker.  He's following the Justice League around trying to get them to let him join up.  Seriously!  They, like I, feel that arrows are not going to be the most efficient solution to the problems one encounters whilst crime-fighting.  Even Green Lantern and Batman (uncomfortably) agree about this!  C'mon can barely carry your own book and now you want in the League?

The story was super interesting though in that the places and events that Green Arrow "stalked" ran almost like a clip show for the League, showing stuff that has happened in the gap between the original 6 issues (5  years ago)  and the "present day" stuff.  In particular there is a crazy two-page spread featuring the Justice League battling a VERY cool looking foe.  I don't want to spoil just WHO it may be, but let's just say there's some impressive historical impact here.  Oh, and of course we also get a brief "Night of the Owls" reference!  Gotta sell that epic crossover goodness!

In other news, Shazam! returns this month.  Well, actually, Billy Batson's back...he still doesn't have the power to change into NOT-Captain Marvel.  We do get to see him meet his foster family while we learn a little more about his character.  It's all well and good, I guess, but I feel like this story belongs in it's own book rather than in Justice League.  Still, it's not taking away from the rest of the comic so I don't mind.  More bang for the buck, right?

What's going on elsewhere in the DCU?  Find out after the JUMP!!

First Impressions: World of Warcraft Mists of Pandaria Beta Demystified!

Blizzard has earned a fair bit of Internet snark for following up its death, dragons and destruction-based expansion, Cataclysm, with the upcoming rolling, Kung Fu panda-based expansion Mists of Pandaria. In a fantasy world of orcs, goblins, dwarves and werewolves, playing as a cutesy, walking panda bear does seems a little out of place. You may as well just call it: World of Warcraft: Ewoks of Asia.

That said, having recently committed to a 12 month Warcraft subscription, I was gifted a special mount, a free copy of Diablo III on release, and guaranteed access to the Pandaria beta. Yes, I have now officially donned my panda skin and traversed the suspiciously non-existent mists of Pandaria! Seriously... I don’t remember much mist at all. Misleading, Blizzard! Disappointing!

So what do I think having actually played (a very early) part of the game? Join me after the jolly, chubby panda jump to find out!

Kickstart the Week: Snapstagram - Just Prints

If you're in love with Instagram as much as I am, this week's featured Kickstarter project should make you very happy. I've always said that Instagram is my second favorite social network (behind Twitter), but it may be creeping towards #1. The instant access to a mini-photoshop style effects toolbar is awesome, and then sharing the photos with friends/followers takes it to that social network level of interaction and excitement.

Snapstagram is a high quality printing service for your Instagram photos. It's already doubled it's $3000 funding goal, but there are still benefits to pledging. All backers will get rolls of their images delivered to them once the service goes live, but backers at the $25 level and up get early beta access to the site and services.

And while we're on the subject, I'd like to announce that we've setup a Fruitless Pursuits Instagram account! Our username is fruitlesspursuits and you'll find images from all of the topics we cover here on the site, as well as photos from events that we cover, and much more. It's gonna be lots of fun.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Where Do Beards Come From?

Have you ever asked yourself "why don't I grow a beard?" or instead, "why did I grow a beard?" Maybe you have no choice in the matter and can't grow one at all, which can apply to both men and women, as many do not possess the power to grow a full beard in half a day. (NOTE: this is not a very useful power to have, and in fact it's probably the complete opposite).

Sooooo, if you've ever wondered ANYTHING AT ALL about beards... this awesome infographic from OnlinePHD, titled "A PhD In Facial Hair" is for you! All of your questions will be answered in one really long, but informative image.

Are you ready to learn!? Click through the jump for your lesson of the day.

John Love's "Faith" is a Solid, Worthwhile Space Opera

I've been reading so much fantasy as of late that I was starting to wonder if I lost my taste for good sci-fi. The last few I tried to pick up didn't sit well with me at all, and I had high hopes for this one based on some reviews I had read.

he book is not 100% perfect - it starts out slow, and, frankly, kind of ridiculous. There's good concepts about this mysterious ship that essentially made a civilization regress centuries with how soundly it defeated them, and the ship, known as Faith to those in the system, is back. We have some strange races around, and we have a class of ship that operate outside of the realm of the system government, all of which are named after serial killers. This story revolves mostly around the crew of the Charles Manson, who believe they have the capability to defeat and destroy Faith.

What follows, after nearly 100 pages of sometimes tiring setup comes a simply awesome, very exciting battle between two massive spaceships nearly the rest of the way through. It's tactical, it's psychological, nothing at all happens the way you'd expect, it becomes very philosophical, and it rarely lets up on the gas the entire time. I kept waiting to see the climax of the battle to come and to come, and the book just rewarded me with more action instead.

It's not a traditional sci-fi space opera, even though it hits all those chords perfectly. It was a great read because it scratched my specific sci-fi itch, but it was also a great read because it was so unexpected and unpredictable. I can't say for sure that it broke a lot of new ground, but it felt fresh and different, and that meant something for me.

This book definitely lived up to the hype for me. Glad I grabbed it when I did, and I'm glad I stuck with it. If this is your style, I definitely recommend it.


You have 16 hours in which to buy this shirt before your baby brother... becomes one of us... forever. Such a pity.

As much as I'd like to be the only person I know wearing this shirt, it was too good not to share.

Should You Need Us -  teevstee's amazing Labyrinth design, is only available today at It's only $10, so don't miss out.

And if you're in the Labyrinth mood (like I am now), click through the jump to for some sweet Magic Dance.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Possible Pextinction

Recently, I started a page on the website called Pinterest. I did it basically at the suggestion of my Mother in Law, because she created a pin to the charity group I am a part of, and I had been really lax about creating the page. Been meaning to, but you know how it is. Time. All that shit.

Then on my wife's cousins' blog there was a recipe for some vegan stuff that I clicked on, but it was only on Pinterest. Did I mention to you here that I recently adopted a no-meat, no dairy plant strong lifestyle?

Probably not. I tend to keep that kind of thing on my own blog. But the health benefits are ASTOUNDING. You would not believe it.

So anyway, I went to look at this recipe, and I couldn't see it right away. IN fact, it took TWO DAYS. Wanna know why?

Best High School Ever

Does the layout of this school look familiar?

It may not look like much, but... how about the satellite view?

It's Millennium Falcon High School!!! Also known as Parkland High School... the school that made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Captain Pronin, Superstar

Meet Captain Pronin, post-Soviet Russia’s equivalent of McBain.

The grandson of a famous Soviet pulp hero, Pronin fights to protect the new Russia with a combination of Soviet toughness and American machismo. The world he works and lives in is strange, with blue henchmen and mafioso with poker dice for teeth. A few years before, Captain Pronin would have been forced to protect the Communist way of life, and to do it with a lot less of a nod to Western culture.

But this is 1992, the Americans and British are his friends, so much so that Captain Pronin has to be helped by James Bond in order to save his wife. Instead of Ronald Reagan or Uncle Sam, Pronin has to later do battle against Don Corleone, and protect the cowering Bill Clinton from an evil cyborg out to get him. And let’s not forget about Pronin’s excursion into outer space, or his biggest challenge of them all: having to go undercover and perform Swan Lake.

This ePaper Watch is My New Favorite Kickstarter

I noticed this Pebble ePaper Watch a few days ago when going around Kickstarter, and quickly got alerted that it's now the most funded Kickstarter ever. And for good reason - it's a fancy looking affordable watch that has a lot of great features.

The quick and dirty is that the watch syncs with your Android or iPhone via Bluetooth, and runs a number of apps that allow you to keep time, control your music, etc. The possibilities are really limitless on this, and with it using ePaper (which is what the Kindle and Nook use), the battery life (USB chargeable, naturally) is about a week. That's incredible, and with the amount of money they've raised so far, it's not scratch/shatter resistant and waterproof.

My watch finally died on me last fall, and I've been resistant to get a new one. This might be changing my mind, because the idea is so neat, the technology feels so advanced - it's almost like what I pictured the future to really be like. I love it.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Amazing Nokia Lift

Here's some Nokia commercials pranking people in lifts in Russia to sell their new phone Nokia Lumia

I love that first guy.

Angry birds don't mess around in this game

Nick O Teen where's that cigarette!

Celebrity Apprentice Recaps: Episode Nine. Lisa Loses It.

Aaaah the Celebrity Apprentice. The kindergarten of the business world! A show that has become such a ridiculous farce than I’m amazed the competitors have yet to be tasked with a silly-face-pulling competition. Which, come to think of it, isn’t all that far removed from the humiliations that the celebrities will undertake today.

Join me after the jump to discover who bitched about who, who got fired, how wide Lisa Lampanelli’s giant unhinged jaw opened, and whether or not it inadvertently sucked in any innocent passersby.

Superman Never Say Yes to a Cigarette

Richard Williams the man behind Who Framed Roger Rabbit did this pretty cool Superman animated antismoking commercial

Although after this commercial by Richard Williams' company (animated by Eric Goldberg the man behind the Genie animation of Aladdin) you and even Superman may want to ask Nick 'O Teen for the hook up

War For Cybertron GRIMLOCK!!!

Can't wait for this game to come out...never MIND that space T-Rex's don't make sense...just watch!!


What's Out? 18th of April 2012

Another look at new releases! It's a little later in the day than usual due to personal reasons (I forgot). Let's do it!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

F**k Yeah Game of Thrones! Episode Three: What is Dead May Never Die

Season Two of Game of Thrones continues to simmer away pleasantly while we all really hope that it will soon explode violently, showering everyone scalding hot, but delicious, figurative soup.

I am thoroughly enjoying the series so far but finding it very difficult to consume such an epic story in relatively small weekly doses. Inevitably it leaves me greedy for more. The show is currently juggling so many characters right now (and adding more all the time) that some of my favourites have had no more than five or so minutes of screen time across an entire three episodes, making their complete absence in any given episode even harder to take. I realise that - much like the long-promised winter - all of these things are coming, but it’s a tough wait. It almost makes me want to read a book...

To see what I thought about this week’s episode, along with wild speculation, jumbled names and factual errors, do me the honour of joining me after the jump!

Stryder's Favourite Comics - 4/11/2012

They say that April is the cruellest month, but so far I've got to say that it only seems like the FASTEST month!  I can't believe we're all ready half-way through.  This month is faster than a...hmmm...what metaphor could I use?

Anyhow...Comics, right?  Here's some more #8's for ya...

Batman And Robin #8 - This is an issue of Batman and Robin where both very little and a great deal happen.  Bruce and Damien both have to deal with the horrible aftermath of their battle with Nobody last month, and the toll it has taken, both physically and mentally, on each of them.  Upon return to the batcave, Alfred puts them both on house arrest due to each suffering concussions, multiple fractures, etc.

So Batman and Robin don't fight any criminals this issue.  They don't solve any mysteries or hunt for any clues.  Rather, they have a heart-to-heart about what it means to be a member of the Wayne family, a member of the Bat family, and at the end of the day, what it means to be a human being in a world that would rather kick you when you're down than give you a helping hand back up.  Then they play fetch with Bat-Dog.  His name is Titus by the way.  He slobbers a lot. 

So if you like characterization, you'll like this issue, with insights into the minds of Bruce, Damien AND even Alfred.  If you'd rather see the Riddler or Killer Croc or someone get punched in the face a lot, this probably isn't the issue for you.  Personally, while I'm all for comic-book face-punching, I still loved Batman and Robin #8! 

Batgirl, Green Lantern and more after the JUMP!

Nerd History: The Lost Cosmonauts

Conspiracies just aren't as much fun unless there are Soviets involved.

Back in the 1950s, as the space race was heating up, when the USSR sent Sputnik and Laika up into orbit, two brothers in Italy were listening in on the broadcasts. Achille and Gian Battista Judica-Cordiglia recorded, among other things, Laika's heartbeat during the dog's orbit, so they knew what they were doing. Then there was a fateful day in 1960, when they were tipped off to another broadcast. Assuming it was a satellite, they nearly threw in the towel until they were able to key in on a morse code transmission of "S.O.S." over and over again, as it slowly faded away. This would be strange in itself if the brothers had not intercepted a transmission months later of a man supposedly wheezing and trying to get his breath. Later, following the brothers made what was arguably their most famous recording - one of a Russian woman this time, communicating with someone on the ground, becoming increasingly panicked as something is happening before the transmission abruptly ends.

So what's the deal here? The Soviets certainly did their share of secret stuff, and while there's no hard evidence of the Soviets having lost cosmonauts in the late 1950s and early 1960s...well, the evidence we do have is fairly convincing. I suggest reading this detailed Fortean Times piece as well as listening to the actual recordings via Skeptoid, where Brian Dunning offers a plausible skeptical opinion about this history mystery.

The Book Was Better Podcast: Teaser for Episode 16

Our ten minute teaser episode for The Book Was Better podcast episode 16 is now live! Jessica and I read your mail, talk bullshit, and reveal the novel we'll be discussing next week! And it's an amazing one. So if you're feeling ADVENTUROUS, then WHIP into itunes for another SHORT ROUND of BWB!

Or grab it right now from the official site!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Tuesday Bounty! Glorious Bounty Displays Rare Fox-Like Cunning.

It's Tuesday and that can only mean a brand new page of humour/sci-fi web comic series Glorious Bounty all up in your grill. It's drawn by the mighty, punch-happy fists of Edward J. Grug III and is written by me, and addressed only to you.

When we last left the Bounty crew they had pretty much come to terms with the fact that the PK series of robots were an easily dismissed piece of shit. Which gave Bruce (in his temporary PK robot body) a cunning idea. Now we cross to some characters that we don't know or care about...

Click to embiggen or read on the official site.

And don't be a 'fraidy cat. If you're a Glorious Bounty first timer then you can start reading from the beginning right over HERE.

Help Me Makaveli, You're My Only Hope

Was the 2Pac hologram Coachella performance really just a viral teaser for a new Return Of The Jedi special edition? And will the outraged fans that are still angry about the Hayden Christensen ghost, prefer the 2Pac hologram?

You gotta admit the 2Pac hologram puts on one hell of a performance. Plus he already has a Star Wars-y name.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Real Time Tweets From The Titanic Disaster

For the past few days @TitanicRealTime tweeted the events of the Titanic voyage in real time... just 100 years later. I found out after the fact, but wish I found out sooner because I would have stayed up all night reading along. Yes, I'm a sucker for event live blogging.. even if it's a semi-fictional recreation of an actual event that isn't "live" in any way, shape or form. Either way, this was REALLY COOL and REALLY WELL DONE.

Click through the jump for a full breakdown of every perspective that was offered, or read the entire timeline at The same group, @TheHistoryPress, is also doing a Whitechapel investigation live tweet session in August of 2013, but here's hoping these happen sooner and more often.

Hold Me, Jack, I’m Heiling: The Nazis’ Titanic Flop

This past Sunday marked the 100th anniversary of the RMS Titanic’s sinking. With this macabre anniversary came a resurgence of “Titanic Mania”, which gripped the world when its ruins were found in the mid-1980’s, and again in the late 1990’s when James Cameron’s film became a worldwide box office sensation.

The History Channel, more specifically their sister station H2, had a unique way of commemorating this tragedy’s centennial. They had me at “Nazi Titanic”.

Some Spoiler-Free Reasons to see Cabin in the Woods

I went to see Cabin in the Woods last night, and it was awesome. It's exactly what you'd expect from a horror flick written by Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard, and while it's absolutely best to go in blind (my wife and I went with people who didn't even know the movie existed), if you're on the fence, there are a few spoiler-free reasons to go:

* It's the smartest horror film you're likely to see: Trust me on this one, and trust the folks who made it. If you have an appreciation for the genre, you'll find a lot to love here. If you're not a fan of the genre (like myself), there's plenty here to appreciate. It's something you can go see with your horror-loving friends without much of a hassle.

* The casting is perfect: Without giving anything away, there's not a bad choice in casting at all. Fran Kranz (who you probably know as Topher from Dollhouse) steals the entire movie, Chris Hemsworth (Thor) was perfect, as were the two leading ladies, Kristen Connolly (who I hope to see in a lot more in the future) and Anna Hutchison.

* A few great cameos/casting choices on the side: Those who are fans of the Whedonverse in general will find a few fun Easter eggs casting-wise, as well as one major cameo that comes out of nowhere.

* Solid writing: Again, expected from Whedon/Goddard, but it's classic Whedon one-liners combined with what may be the best euphemism I've heard in a while...

* You're best to go in blind: If you haven't seen a trailer yet, don't. If you haven't read any real reviews, keep it that way. The less you know going in, the better off you'll be. It's a movie that's truly more fun the less you know. You'll thank me later if you're on the fence.

I know this is probably the worst, least informative review you'll read about this movie, but it's like that for a reason. You need something to bridge the Hunger Games-to-Avengers gap in your movie watching this month, and this really should hit your list. Totally, completely worth your time.

Tumblr Rulz: Shitstarter - The Graveyard For Failed Kickstarters

Last night, I had the opportunity to speak about games on Kickstarter for the Philadelphia IGDA monthly meeting. We discussed personal success (LangGuini - 245% funded) as well as local success (Auditorium Duet - 118% funded, Velociraptor Cannibalism - 916% funded and still going), and we also discussed personal failure (my project Famous Missions that died at 10% of it's goal).

I've learned so much from that failure, and started looking at what people do right, and what people do wrong with their project campaigns. But you may notice that Kickstarter does a great job of keeping the unsuccessful / poorly made projects hidden away. You won't find any of them by looking at the curated Kickstarter favorites pages, or at the front of any of the category pages. You'll need to search by name or dig deep into the archives of thousands of projects.

Luckily, now we have Shitstarter, a fairly new tumblr site that showcases failed Kickstarter projects. They do all of the hard (and torturous) work for you, by finding the best of the worst.

Here's a gem:


GOAL: $5,000

“Think of it as This Old House meets Ghostbusters.”


Friday, April 13, 2012

F**k Garfield's Gigantic Feet!

I saw something today and I have to say something about it. Because if you see something terrible and you don't say something about, if you're a passive bystander and you don't speak up or intervene, then that suggests that you condone the behaviour. I saw a picture of Garfield today and it really upset me.

If you had to describe Garfield in one word you'd probably say "unfunny". But if you were goaded into caring enough to produce a second word, then you'd probably say "fat". He's a fat cat, right? I have a fat cat. I can relate to that. That's why he's so (inexplicably) popular. But look at this image of Garfield from 2012:


Join me after the jump because by god I feel a rant coming on...

Thank GIF it's Friday

Sure, it's Starwarsy, I know, but it's ALSO Neesony, which I can most certainly get behind.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Lonely Wolf

This is a short new film by me about a Lonely Wolf

Ogre Dwarfs The Competition On Kickstarter

Steve Jackson Games (you may know him as the creator of Munchkin) launched a monster of a Kickstarter campaign yesterday for the reprint of their 35 year old robot tank wargame, Ogre. It's a massive game in both physical size and popularity, and in less than one day, it's breaking all kinds of records on Kickstarter.

So.... will Ogre become the Double Fine Adventure of board games on Kickstarter? It really already has. It launched about 17 hours ago, and has already done the following:

-Received 502 backers
-Passed it's goal of $20,000
-Passed it's first stretch goal of $40,000 (unlocking the "build your own Ogres" crafty fun)
-Made it's way into the top 10 highest funded board game kickstarter projects, ever.
-Currently sitting at $68,199

...and did I mention that the game is $100, and will not ship outside of the US? There is a lot going against this game, but it seems to be going just fine.

For those who haven't played Ogre, click through the jump for a little history on the game. And for everyone else, here's a question. Place your bets now. How high do you think this will go on Kickstarter? I'm going to guess $238,033.