Saturday, May 26, 2012

that dog. Reunion Show Recap, Video and Setlist!

that dog. was one of those bands of the 90's that, unfortunately, many people may not have heard of. They wrote poppy, yet grungy songs about crushes and young love, with violin and 3-part vocal harmonies. Throughout the mid-90's they were always just a step away from labelmates, Weezer (members sang on Weezer b-sides, and collaborated in side-project The Rentals) but they never shared Weezer's MASSIVE success, even with many connections within the music industry. (Singer Anna Waronker's brother was Beck's drummer, the Haden sisters father is Charlie Haden, a famous jazz bassist, and their triplet sister Tanya is married to Jack Black). Indie kids and critics loved them, and by the reactions at their New York reunion show on Thursday night, that love hasn't faded a bit.

Thursday night was that dog's first New York performance since they broke up 15 years ago. Saturday Night Live's Fred Armisen was the opening act, and in the crowd were members of Luscious Jackson, Upright Citizens Brigade, Field Music, Redd Kross, Midtown, Weezer's 5th member Karl Koch, VH1, and about a dozen people from my hometown (which is 100 miles away). It was a really special night. Lots of smiles, sing-alongs, and a few impromptu audience requests. They played every song that I wanted to hear and more, and occasionally featured additional guitarist Dan (that looked like a cross between Joe Lo Trugio and Joe Rogen). Everything was exactly how you would want it to be, and I would have been crushed if I'd missed it.

Hopefully, this isn't the last of that dog. Anna Waronker was recently interviewed in the Village Voice and hinted that it wasn't the end.
It would be criminal not to ask: Are you writing new songs for That Dog.? Welll... uh. Hmm. How do I answer this. We have not yet discussed exactly what we want to do in the future. We only planned on doing a couple shows, and then we threw in the Largo ones. So we haven't had an official conversation all together about what we see the future holding, but we've had individual conversations and it seems like there will be something for sure. I've started to put that hat back on.
Click through the jump for the full set list, video from the reunion show, and a few favorite music videos.

The Dark Knight Rises Round Up!

Enigmatic mastermind Christopher Nolan's much-anticipated/discussed/debated third Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises, opens in just less than two months, and now that The Avengers hoo-ha is dying down, all sorts of Batman bits and pieces are blossoming on the 'net.

Like this secret poster that was recently revealed via a QR code according to Batman News. It gives us a wonderful close-up look at the latest bat-suit. Seems that Batman's boots will be far sexier in this one, although the heels make him kind of clumsy:

"Whoops! Alfred, order more batarangs. I'll probably keep stepping on them until I adjust."

All lame kidding aside, this Catwoman version might really be my favourite. Notice how the bat symbol appears in the space between the lips? Nolan is one cunning bugger. And kudos to him for staying up all night kissing every poster as it came off the press.

And if that's not enough to get your Bat-Dance on, we'll grossly misinterpret some other things... after the jump!

El Professore Movie Review: The Italian Connection (aka Manhunt)

The Italian Connection (aka Manhunt)

Director: Fernando Di Leo
Starring: Mario Adorf, Henry Silva, Woody Strode, Luca Canali, Luciana Paluzzi
* * * *
Luca Carnali (Mario Adorf in a decided offbeat casting decision), a small time mobster and pimp in Milan, finds his world turned upside down when he is made the unwitting fallguy by the local Godfather and framed for a shipment of heroine that goes missing en route to New York. A pair of hitmen from the Big Apple (a loud and obnoxious Henry Silva and a nearly mute Woody Strode) are dispatched to Italy in order to kill him "in the most brutal and conspicuous way possible" in order to send a "message". After his wife and daughter are murdered, Carnali loses it and turns from hunted to hunter as he seeks revenge on The Don, the hitmen and anyone else who stands in his way.

Full review after the jump!

Review: Men in Black III : Black Harder.

Note: Do not confuse this film with Men in Blacks 3. Especially if you have your kids with you.

Director Barry Sonnenfeld's belated threequel Men in Black 3 is an inventive, quirky, sci-fi action-comedy with a hell of a lot of promise. And then Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones show up.

To find out what they got right and what went wrong... join me after the jump!

Eurovision 2012: Semi Final 1

It is that glorious time of year again, where all good taste is thrown out of the window, and retailers all over Europe sell out of hot glue guns and diamantes. EUROVISION. The notorious song contest has been running since 1956 and has never failed to deliver it's patented brand of 'so bad it's good' entertainment.

Join me under the cut for a look at some of the 'highlights' of semi final 1, coming to you from Baku, Azerbaijan.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Let's Look at the Monster Fighters Lego!

If you thought that the ingenious Danish masterminds at Lego would stop for a breath after pumping out the huge Avengers and Lord of the Rings lines then you don't know them at all! The Danes are driven by an insatiable drive to create, churning out new ideas and product and cramming studs into holes with reckless abandon.

Their latest in-house brand is the self-explanatory Monster Fighters which riffs on some classic creatures and the brave souls who want to turn them into dust. We've got some wonderful pictures of this line courtesy of our good friends at Sideshow Collectibles where they are available for pre-order, but if you're lucky, these are also popping up in stores.

This first one should get your blood-pumping (and then possibly suddenly and violently drained):

To see a lot more and find out what I think of these... join me after the jump!

Thank GIF It's Friday

Happy Towel Day!

Jetpack Joyride Gains a Dog (and Wins my Heart)!

As much as I enjoy recent blockbuster games like the enhanced Witcher 2 and Diablo III the one game that I still play every single day is Half-Brick's Jetpack Joyride on my iPhone. If I'm on a break at work, or waiting for a bus, or there's a lull in our conversation, I am going to break out brazen badass Barry Steakfries, strap on the machinegun backpack and tear shit up in a hi-tech lab! I cannot get enough. In fact I'm playing it right now with my other hand.

So imagine the height of the backflips I started doing when I learned that Half-Brick (who are fellow Australians. Represent!) have released another big update, featuring DJ headphones that turn the soundtrack into a techno remix, a de-zapinator to fizzle out those annoying zappers, a new turbo boost, but best of all Flash: a robot dog who has become Barry's new best friend! He can even ride on the mighty forehead of mechanical dragon Mr. Cuddles!

Here's the trailer for Mr. Steakfries' new canine companion:

And if that whet your appetite let's play this sucker! I am obsessed with trying to crush the scores of everybody I know. (I cannot beat fellow contributor Ive though!). If you want to get competitive and go head to head with me then I am LMWRITES on Game Center. Tell us your handle in the comments section, or just befriend us in game, strap on your jetpack of choice (I am currently rocking the golden piggybank) and we will incinerate hapless scientists in our wake!


Action Figures In Bags!

I keep almost all of my loose action figures in individual bags. Part of it is just for organization, and the other part is to protect them from each other. I don't know what goes on from the time I close the lid on their plastic tub/home to the second I open it... but they all come out with battle scars. Paint smudges on each other, missing limbs, and various other battle wounds.

I was super excited to discover the art of Simon Monk. Just browsing through his website, you will see photorealistic art of all kinds of toys and figures in bags. It's like a bizarre collector's fetish, and I can't look away. His ongoing Secret Identity series features superheroes such as Batman, Hulk, Thor, and many more.

Placed in carrier bags and hung on a hook in a domestic space they become recently purchased objects, robbed of the enormous power they wield in their narratives, their dynamic energy stymied.
Click through the jump for the rest of the Secret Identity series as well as some of his older work.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Comic School Review: The Origin of Thor (1952)

As I continue to blatantly ride the coattails of the phenomenally successful The Avengers, it is only fair that I now turn my large, ponderous head the not-so-secret origins of the mighty Thor! If you've seen the films than may I prepare you in advance to forget everything you think you know! While you're at it you may also want to forget everything you know about science, geography, and common sense.

But that's not what made blonde rock god Thor (allegedly) "the most exciting super hero of all time!"...

It all goes down in Journey to Mystery #83 first published in the heady year of 1952. The text was spewed forth by Stan the Man Lee and Larry the Llama Lieber (I'm guessing) and the art was hand-etched by the god-like paw of Jack the King Kirby. You can do what I did and purchase it here on Comixology for $1.99 but buyer beware - this one is only 14 pages, including the cover. Comix Knaves! Thou hast rippeth me off!

Join me after the jump and we'll bond...

G.I. Joe: Procrastination.

The Internet is exploding with news that the blockbuster sequel G.I. Joe: Retaliation, originally scheduled to be released next month, will now be pushed back a whole nine more months until March 2013! Paramount's official word is that it's to post convert the film into wildly successful and oft-requested glorious 3D, so that audiences everywhere can enjoy eye-popping T-crotches all up in their faces.

Now that's (sort of) the official word but let's wildly speculate on what's really going on. After Battleship was sunk (see what I did there? I bet the whole film is full of that) by the powerhouse that is The Avengers, the idea of releasing another Hasbro-based movie so soon must have been financially daunting. Plus the Dark Knight Rises juggernaut is on the horizon to further proving that audiences these days like clever writing and superheroes, as opposed to boardgames and cobras.

That's one theory, but the other plausible one is that they're taking nine months off because Snake-Eyes is having a baby. What do you think is really going on? Why not tell us in the comments section!

The New 52: Animal Man

At 31, I came to comics relatively late. Yeah, I read some kiddie comics like Richie Rich and Lil' Devil when I was a kid, but real comics, with superheroes and bad language and what have you? That didn't come about until my mid-20s. My introduction to comics came from the Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8 run, as I had just finished plowing through Buffy on DVD and wanted, nay needed, more. Then my friend told me to read Ultimate Spider-Man, and then I discovered Runaways, and then Watchmen, and then it was all over for me. I was hooked and I had another money pit hobby.

I've come of age with comics mostly with Marvel stuff, and almost exclusively in the Ultimate universe (Marvel's attempt at rebooting from 10 years ago). I've tried a few times to do DC titles, but Superman bores me and I find Batman to be completely unlikable (and yes, I've read the Frank Miller stuff, thanks). Yeah, I tried some of the Infinite Crisis stuff in an attempt to get on board with some of the DC heroes, but no dice. Only one DC title caught me (and I'll be talking about that in detail once the first trade for the New 52 comes out for it), and I had largely put it aside. The New 52, however, works perfectly for a reader like me - I have a bit of an idea as to who the characters are (for the most part), and I can go in with very few preconceptions or biases. I know why there's frustration with reboots (which is why I prefer Marvel's version, even if they've redone the Ultimate universe three times), but this is a Good Thing.

This brings us to Jeff Lemire's take on Animal Man. Lemire is arguably best known for his brilliant, creator-owned Sweet Tooth, and when I heard he was going to be taking on one of the reboots, I looked it up right away. The problem? I had never heard of Animal Man before. He's certainly not a top-tier DC hero, he's unlikely to get his own movie anytime soon, and looking him up, well...he's a superhero that can temporarily use the powers of animals. Great. What have I gotten myself into?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Wes Anderson's New Film Moonrise Kingdom Opens Friday In NY/LA

...and not soon enough everywhere else.

But the good news is this wonderful video titled "Bill Murray Hosted Tour of Moonrise Kingdom".

There are a bunch of other promo videos on the MoonriseKingdomMovie youtube channel, including some very funny Bob Balaban clips.

Click through the jump for the screening info for the next 2-3 weeks. Or don't click there, if you want to avoid the disappointment of no local screenings. :(

Review: Hot Toys Sucker Punch Babydoll!

Director Zack Snyder's Sucker Punch has plenty of vocal detractors. But I'm not one of them. More than once I've outed myself as an unabashed fan who views the film as a wonderfully over-the-top, indulgent experiment. Yes. I love Sucker Punch. And I want to high-five Snyder's powerful hand.

Does it always work? No. Is it for everyone? Absolutely not. Is it confusing at times? I'm still trying to unravel it. But if you can approach Sucker Punch with the right mindset then there's joy to be had. I think of it more akin to another experimental film, Fantasia, which is to say, that it's a series of bold visuals, set to music, and loosely connected by a theme. It's also wildly inconsistent and ahead of its time. No, it doesn't have centaurs in it, but I bet Zack loves centaurs and rides one to work all the time.

But we're not here to unwrap the film - not when I've just unboxed the Hot Toys 1/6th scale Babydoll collectible figure! It's hot because a) it's newly released and fresh out of the oven, and b) Hot Toys continue to produce the finest, most detailed, movie collectibles imaginable. In fact you or I don't even have the imagination to imagine them. Photos of their product never fail to elicit gasps of disbelief at the life-likeness of their sculpts. It's like they take our beloved actors and kidnap them, clone them, shrink them, embalm them, and send them to our homes.

And if you think I'm exaggerating, take a look at our doe-eyed protagonist Babydoll for yourself!

For more thoughts and a HUGE amount of pictures, open your mind and join me after the jump!

Lego Summer Olympics Minifigures?!?

Did you know that Lego is making a set of 9 minifigures for the upcoming London 2012 Games (also known as the Summer Olympics)? Neither did I! Here is your informational post, press release and most importantly... PHOTOS of the minifigures!

If you want an opponent for your Series 5 Boxer, now is your chance. Well, technically you could buy two and swap heads, but now there are blue gloves and headwear, which make all the difference. These are basically companions (repaints) of minifigures we're seen in recent releases, but if you're into army building, a fan of Team GB, or a completist... these are for you.
To celebrate the London 2012 Games, the number one selling toy in the UK market is back with an exclusive special edition line of Team GB LEGO Minifigures

With less than 71 days to go until the UK’s biggest sporting event of the century, for the first time in history LEGO has launched a special edition range of Team GB Minifigures. The collectible range will only be available in the UK to commemorate this once in a lifetime event for the nation.
Full press release, MASSIVE images, and thoughts... after the jump!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

What's Out? 23rd of May 2012

What up? It's New Comics Day! What will you get? What CAN you get? Let me tell you:

Tecmo Bob’s Your Uncle: Aussie Rules Football

Last year, my friend Jason got me into Australian rules football.  Jay is not big on sports; he once asked a Miami Dolphins fan if they wore teal and orange because they were losing.  However there was something about the game, which was as rough as American football, but with less safety equipment and more punting, that intrigued both Jason and myself.  The fact that longtime Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins punter, Sav Rocca, was one of the best Australian rules players of the 1990’s, further piqued my interest.

Just how interested was I in footy, and what does it have to do with the cool early-90's NES graphics above? Find out after the jump!

Stryder's Favourite Comics - 5/16/2012

Sooo much to talk about this week!  Let's just jump right into it with

Nightwing #9 - Of COURSE there's more Night of the Owls!!  So much this issue, the self-proclaimed BEST Talon, the one who's been tormenting Batman since the new 52 began, the one who is in actuality Dick Grayson's Great-Grandfather William Cobb attacks Nightwing!  He also gives him a history lesson in-between stabbings, like any loving Grandpa would.  It turns out that this Talon CHOSE his fate.  Not only that, but he kidnapped his then-infant son and turned that child over to Haly's Circus to be raised!  In this way, he began the process to breed NEW Talons from his line that would ultimately lead to Dick himself.  He even coined the last name...the Gray Sons of Gotham...

After reading about all of these different Talon fights throughout the Bat-books of the DCU, I'm a little amazed that they've managed to keep them all fresh.  The way they've done it is to make everything personal.  When you have so many crime-fighters with deep, generation-spanning ties to one location, it's not hard to pull the threads and see that everything's connected.  Kudos though, for the writers being brave enough to build the universe in that way and play with the continuity without contradicting anything!  The Owls story-line of course has been excellent in Batman, and here in Nightwing, it's just as awesome and in some ways much MORE personal.  Good work DC!

Lots more Owls and the rest of the DCU too!  After the JUMP:

The Book Was Better Podcast Episode 18: Armageddon!

In this brand new episode of The Book Was Better podcast, Jessica and I discuss the novelisation of Michael Bay's patriotic, racist and misogynistic classic Armageddon! Learn how Ben Affleck makes love to Liv Tyler with an animal cracker and America gains its freedom and independence from an asteroid! Crank it up and rock out like Rockhound!

You can grab it from the official site or even subscribe on iTunes!

Kickstart the Week: 'Sullivan's Sluggers', Baseball Horror Graphic Novel

Is baseball horror a new genre? Either way, this graphic novel on Kickstarter looks pretty awesome. It feels like the missing link between The Warriors and Attack The Block.. and that's more than enough to get me to buy it.

Long past their former glory, the minor league Sluggers get an invitation to play a baseball game in a cursed small town. After the 7th inning stretch, the sun goes down, and the dysfunctional teammates find themselves fighting for their lives against a town of flesh-eating monsters! Now, it's up to coach Casey Sullivan to help his team escape from being the next dish in the town's terrifying feeding frenzy!
Check out Sullivan's Sluggers on Kickstarter:

And click through the jump for more info and images (including the REALLY nice $30 hardcover version).

Nerd History: British Propaganda Films

Pretty much the coolest thing ever got released to the internet earlier this month. Thanks in part to a grant from Google, the British Council has released a whole bunch of their old propaganda films from the 1940s!:
The British Council Film Collection is an archive of over 120 short documentary films made by the British Council during the 1940s designed to show the world how Britain lived, worked and played. Preserved by the BFI National Film Archive and digitised by means of a generous donation by Google, the films are now yours to view, to download and to play with for the first time.
This is a big deal for a lot of reasons. For one, there's a ton of cool history here - a lot of these were things that non-British viewers would have never gotten to see, never mind these possibly being lost to history for many people from the UK today. For another, there's already some scholarship, information, and primary documentation being uploaded to the site that gives even more insight to some of the happenings.

This is just really cool stuff. I've already spent too much time watching these.

F**k Yeah Game of Thrones! Episode Eight: Prince of Winterfell!

At episode eight, Game of Thrones should really be ramping up to an epic, twist-filled series conclusion, but I’m sorry to say that this episode treads water for the most part, failing to greatly advance any of our current stories. And with so many desperately dangling plot threads right now, this one is giving audiences bigger blue balls than Dr. Manhattan. Maybe it should be renamed A Game of Talking About Our Feelings. (But it’s still really good). (I’m just really pent up).

To find out what did (and didn’t) happen... join me after the jump!

Tuesday Bounty: Glorious Bounty Returns (in a Bikini!)

After a mysterious absence last week, humour/sci-fi comic Glorious Bounty returns kicking and screaming with a brand new page, drawn by the huge-hearted Edward J. Grug III and written by me!

When we last left the Bounty crew they were in their temporary robot bodies kicking a lot of insect arse in an attempt to rescue Funf from a powerful target. But what exactly does Funf need rescuing from...

Click to embiggen or read it on the official site!

And if you have zero idea what the hell is going on then you can start all the way back at Chapter One right HERE.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Comic School Review: The Incredible Hulk #1 (1962)

Let's continue our wild foray into the seminal comics of Marvel's youth by taking a long overdue look at  The Incredible Hulk #1 from 1962, the issue in which Stan Lee and Jack Kirby gave laborious, mucousy birth to their legendary monster! Thrill as one of their crowning achievements starts crowning and then pops his mighty misshapen head forever into our world!

Just look at this beautiful cover and remind yourself why Jack was king, and Stan was a jester...

I picked this one up from Comixology for a puny $1.99, and you should too if you'd like to read along!

To find out what I learned about the Hulk's incredible origin... join me after the jump!

Recap of the Mini Unpublished Games Festival in West Chester, PA

Yesterday was the latest of the mini Unpublished Game Festival events (otherwise known as Unpub), with a full day of gaming in West Chester, PA. I was there along with 4 other designers, displaying board and card games that are in various stages of design and development. It's always a great opportunity to test your game and play others at the peak of the creative design process.

This was my third Unpub event, and as always it was a wonderful time. The Games Keep in West Chester, PA was the perfect host location with regular customers coming in and out and jumping into games, and plenty of space for everyone to spread out. 

Click through the jump for photos and descriptions of the 5 games that were on display: Pixel Lincoln: The Deckbuilding Game, Co-Op Tower Defense, Mecha Mayhem, Aether and Pilatch.

Look Who's Next! Hot Toys Teases Black Widow!

We've been following the Hot Toys Avengers 1/6th scale figures very closely as I struggle to decide whether I should buy them all or not. So far we've seen Loki, Thor, Captain America, Hawkeye and Nick Fury, but this is the one I've been waiting for and will purchase no matter what! Even if I have to move into a cardboard box on the side of the freeway, or eat worms and tree bark, you will need to prise this puppy from my covetous hands.

Check it out:

I wonder why they chose that angle? And when is that thing going to star in its own movie?

Believe it or not, I'm actually far more interested in the reveal of the face (which I imagine will happen in a full gallery by the end of the week). I own the Iron Man 2 Black Widow and we knew that this one was going to have a new body and sculpted hair. I can also confirm that no other parts appear to be reused here either. The gauntlets, belt and holster appear to be new too.

More on this soon!

Oh God It's Happening Again. Hyperspace Hoopla 2012.

I have been a Star Wars fan for nearly my entire life, but the one thing that really stretches my fandom is the Hyperspace Hoopla, a live Star Wars character dance off stage show that appears at Disney Star Wars Weekends. Now, I totally understand that Star Wars is big and rich enough to cater for all types of fans of all different ages, and if this is not for me then I should be mature enough to look away - but I think this little stage show is systematic of something much darker that is currently occurring in the Star Wars universe and I would like to use it as a springboard for a larger rant.

Here is a full 19 minutes of this year's Hyperspace Hoopla which I don't honestly expect you to watch. but skip through it a bit if you want to sample the flavour.

Now to hear me unleash, join me after the jump!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Musings on NBC's Upcoming Show "Revolution"

Lost, Fringe, and the Star Trek reboot have essentially made me into an unrepentant JJ Abrams fanboy. It means that I'll suffer through some bad stuff (Undercovers), some mediocre stuff (Alcatraz), and dive into things loving it more than I thought I would (Super 8). The fall television season is, to be frank, looking rough early on. both for fans of quality television as well as fans of genre shows. The best show I'm seeing coming about for the fall so far, however, happens to be this JJ Abrams post-apocalyptic "(Nothing But) Flowers"-inspired (no, not really) drama Revolution.