Saturday, September 8, 2012

El Professore Movie Reviews: Zero Hour!

Director: Hall Bartlett
Starring: Dana Andrews, Linda Darnell, Sterling Hayden, Elroy 'Crazylegs' Hirsch
* * *
Way back around 1989, I caught a documentary on the Zucker Brothers. It was to coincide with the theatrical release of 'Naked Gun 2 1/2 - The Smell of Fear' and featured lengthy interviews with the Zuckers as they discussed each of their films and shows in length (among other things, I discovered that 'Police Squad' was a riff on an old show called 'M-Squad' which starred Lee Marvin). When they got to 'Airplane!', I assumed that they would cite the 'Airport' series as it's inspiration. Instead, I was surprised to hear them talk about this practically unknown 1957 film called 'Zero Hour' (which they videotaped off T.V. one night after taping something else; purely a coincindence that they happened upon it). They found the film unintentionally hilarious and couldn't resist the idea of remaking it. It wasn't until around 2004 that I finally landed a copy of this (at the time) obscurity. I was stunned; 'Zero Hour' literally IS 'Airplane' minus the punchlines!

Full review after the jump.

What Kind of Reader Are You?

Above is an artsy fartsy photo of our home library. At last count, I own something around 1700 books. I have a problem.

Anyway, The Atlantic posted two articles about the type of reader you are: What Kind of Reader Are You and the inevitable addendum. It turns out that I fit a whole pile of these archetypes - I'm very much a Chronological Reader, as well as Delayed-Onset #1, and an obvious Cross-Under and Multi-Tasker. I'm also fairly Hopelessly Devoted, both a Critic and Easily Influenced, I'm too much of a Sharer, and definitely Anything Goes.

Meanwhile, I married a Book Buster, which is often hellish (such as the time where she wrote a phone number on the inside of the dust jacket for Anathem. Still mad). So let's talk a bit - what kind of reader are you?

Friday, September 7, 2012

Thank GIF it's Friday!

Watch this for more than five loops and you will be of questionable sexuality.

Book Review: The Dark Knight Rises Official Movie Novelization!

Through our podcast The Book Was Better we’ve developed a greater understanding of the book of the film, and connected with a new breed of novelisation appreciators and aficionados. So how could I not draw your attention to the book of one of the biggest (and meatiest) films of the year, Christopher Nolan’s monster bat epic: The Dark Knight Rises.

Author Greg Cox, scribe of many a Star Trek novel, is the chosen one who faces the mammoth task of unraveling Nolan’s dense story and further illuminate and expand upon the writhing mass of characters and plot threads shouldering each other for our attention. Rumour has it that he even mentions a certain clown-faced criminal. And our good friends at Titan Books have been kind enough to give us a copy!

I had mixed feeling on the film, which I found enjoyable but somewhat convoluted. Will the book be better? Join me after the jump!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Transforming Collections: An Interview With Philip Reed

Transforming Collections is Philip Reed's unofficial guide to 3rd party Transformers toys. Not to be confused with bootleg figures, these toys are all-new creations or simply additional parts to enhance an existing figure.

The book was fully funded on Kickstarter within it's first few days, but there are still 24 days to pledge and make the book bigger than ever. Fans of action figures, Transformers, designer toys, and customization will need to check this one out. It's a world that you might not even know exists.

Check out the Kickstarter project at: The book is only $15 for a physical copy and just $6 for a pdf. There are a few extra big rewards if you would like to contribute more to the project.


You may know Philip as the COO of Steve Jackson Games (Munchkin, Ogre, Car Wars) or as the owner/writer at the toy news/review site Now, we can soon add published author to his extensive resume.

We had a chance to talk to Philip about Transforming Collections, Kickstarter, and the toy industry. Click through the jump for the full interview, as well as plenty of photos of 3rd party Transformers.

Tablet Wars: The Nexus 7

You may recall my glee in getting a Kindle Fire for Christmas. And glee it was - it was my first real tablet, it was quick, it was affordable, and it did most of what I needed it to do.

Sometimes, though, "most" can be a dealbreaker. That was the case with the Kindle Fire, as ultimately the lack of native Google Apps support, especially for someone who travels and uses those apps for work, made the entire experience difficult. Combine that with the Amazon Silk browser being super fast but having tremendous difficulty in web pages that required editing or text, and it was just getting frustrating.

Thankfully, the Google Nexus 7 landed last month. At a $199 price point, and with my Kindle Fire retaining significant resale value, it was pretty difficult to resist. The good news is that the Kindle Fire is still a great tablet. The better news is that the Nexus 7 is the best tablet I've ever used, and that includes my wife's iPad.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Pop Vinyl Game of Thrones? Oh All Right Then!

Fantasy epic Game of Thrones sure has a lot of gore and tits, but is it button-eyed and cute enough for us over-zealous consumers? Probably not, but thankfully the gang at Pop Vinyl have a solution! They're releasing delightful, large-headed vinyl figures of your favourite GoT characters, including womanising demon-monkey Tyrion, blood-thirsty monster The Hound, and dreamy rapist Khal Drogo. Put them on your desk at work for a sexy conversation starter.

Imagine the size of the sword that would be required to take out this version of Ned...
Source: Awesome Toy Blog.
Join me after the jump to see the rest of wave one! 

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters trailer

I'd been looking forward to the trailer for Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters for quite some time, mainly for reasons starting with 'J' and ending with 'Eremy Renner in leather with guns'. Let's check it out together!

Oh dear. It would be unfair of me to say it was like Buffy the Vampire Slayer mated with Supernatural and the progeny rolled in a pile of dog poo, wouldn't it? Yes? Alright, I won't say that then.

Sure it looks totally stupid, but that won't stop me seeing it a million times! This wonderfully shiny turd comes out on the 11th of January for our American friends, while we in Australia have to wait an extra week before we can catch it on the 17th of January.

America's Got Talent Semi Final Recap: Unexpected Awesomeness

America's Got Talent is moving forward with the last episode of the Semi-Finals. This was probably the best episode yet as far as the performances go, and it's going to be REALLY tough to see some of these acts go. Some of my favorites didn't do exactly what I'd hoped, and some that I didn't like before blew me away.

For mr, it all came down to the performances. A few were less than expected and some were absolutely outstanding. Click through the jump for my top 3.

Review: Venture Bros. Hank and Dr. Girlfriend 8 inch Figures!

If you haven’t yet partaken in the sweet, forbidden fruit that is Venture Bros. then I don’t even know how I’d being to try to explain it to you. Inspired by the adventure cartoons of the sixties (particularly Johnny Quest), it’s one of the funniest, weirdest, most subversive, experimental, description defying animated series that you’ll ever have the pleasure of sticking into your head. It might take a couple of episodes to stick but, once it clicks in, I promise you’ll be hooked.

In an age of increasingly (eerily) realistic action figures, Bif Bang Pow have eschewed convention and journeyed back to a simpler time. Their line of 8 inch Venture Bros. dolls are a retro tribute to the Mego dolls of yesteryear. As such, they’re goofy, awkward, but bursting with charm. It’s a quirky choice, and one that seems incredibly appropriate for this series.

I already owned six of these, but was missing two very important characters (including one of the titular brothers!). But don’t fret - our pals at Big Bad Toy Store hooked me up! Join me after the jump where we will carefully study Hank Venture and the sultry Dr. Girlfriend!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Stryder's Favourite Comics - 8/29/2012

Big news from the final week of The New 52, year one!  The status quo is getting rocked in the upcoming months, and it looks to be a wild ride!  Let's watch the seeds grow...

Justice League #12 - "People like us are really alone, aren't we?  Do you ever feel alone?"

The big news from the Justice League is right there on the cover, isn't it?  Superman and Wonder THAT'S a "Shared Moment."

OF course, that's nowhere near everything that happens this month!  The Villain's Journey plot with David Graves is wrapped up as he tries to reunite everyone on Earth with the spirits of their dead loved ones, including the League!  Hmm, he might not be aware, but typically when someone offers you something too good to be true, well...

In other news, the line-up and leadership of the team are both in question after the big, public breakdown they experienced last month.  Wonder Woman and Green Lantern literally brawling in the streets of Washington D.C. has shaken the world's faith in the "Gods Among Us."  Big changes and even bigger threats are on the horizon!  If the League cannot stand united, who can???

The attack of the Annuals and more, after the JUMP!

The Book Was Better Podcast: Teaser for Episode 26!

The Book Was Better podcast mini-episodes give Jess and I a chance between books to catch up on your feedback, pat ourselves on the back, and reveal to you which thrilling movie novelisation we will be debating and discussing next week!

In this teaser for episode 26 we read out some startling iTunes reviews, go on a rant, and reveal perhaps the most spirit-crushing, arduous read yet.

Download it now from the official site or why not subscribe to us on iTunes where we will invade your head automatically!

Kickstart the Week: Epic Boardgame Edition!

Some people will argue that there are too many games on Kickstarter. They predict a bubble that will burst at some point, ending the new school method of production funding… leaving us where we were a few years ago, or opening up a door for a brand new process.

While there are a lot of games on Kickstarter (a few hundred at any given point, it seems), right now it's easy to argue that there are too many good games on Kickstarter.

Which to pledge to? Well, here are three that you can't miss out on. All three launched within a few days of each other, and all three soared to hit 50% of their funding goal in very little time. And these are games that have been in the works for a while now. We've spoken about two of them at least a few times before.

First up is Salmon Run, a game that I've been looking forward to since I played a prototype at Unpub 2 in January.

Short description: A highly customizable modular board game race to the finish using deckbuilding as a base. And you play as SALMON!

Pledge Level Sweet Spot: $40 gets you a full copy of the game, free US shipping, and 3 of each of the Kickstarter Exclusive Bald Eagle and Grizzly Bear cards.

Funding Goal: Salmon Run has a low initial goal of just $6,000 and it's currently 79% funded. There is a long time to go, and they've hinted at some stretch rewards. 

Click through the jump for Mars Needs Mechanics and Story Realms!

Nerd History: "A Blog of the Secret Motions of Things"

As I'm still trying to catch up with work stuff, I wanted to send the dozen of you who click on these types of posts to an interesting blog curated by a friend of mine, Renfusa. Described as "a blog of the secret motions of things," it's part weird history, part role-playing gaming, part pop culture musings, and all interesting.

If you're looking to fill your RSS reader with some interesting stuff, this might be a place. I wish I could write half as well as the people I surround myself with. Some highlights:

* Lady Elaine Fairchilde: Devil in a Red Cape: One man's confessional about Mister Rogers's make believe puppet friend.

* LA Verde: Reptoids in the City of Angels: Hollow earth theories and reptilian races.

* Monsters, Prodigies, and Fortean Events: Does what it says on the tin.

* On Kaufman and Existential Psychology: The psychology of Andy Kaufman.

Review: World of Warcraft Mega Bloks!

As a long-time player of fantasy time-suck World of Warcraft and an avid fan of construction toys in general, the long-anticipated marriage of the two has really got me excited. Mega Bloks has picked up the Warcraft license and are looking to dig extremely deep with it (if you’ve seen their omnipresent Halo offerings then you know what to expect). The first sets are now available to purchase, and thanks to the generosity of our good friends at Big Bad Toy Store, I have in my clammy, gnarled-from-hot-key-pressing hands the four recently released packs, each containing a rider and his mount!

To find out what I made of all this... join me after the jump!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Lego Minifigures Series 8 is Out!! Updated With Bump Codes!

If you're lucky enough, you might be able to find the newest series of Lego minifigures in a store near you! I just happened to be in the vicinity of my not-so-local Lego store, and picked up a few packs of Minifigures Series 8.

If you recall, we last spoke about series 8 here, when a somewhat known blogger revealed the possible list of all Series 8 figures. Well... he way off.

The newest series doesn't seem to have the one big character that we saw in the previous ones. There is no awesome Ape Suit or Godzilla Costume. There is no Halo style armor. There is no Biohazard Man or Boxer. The biggest standouts of the series are all repaints of characters that we've seen before. At first it kind of upset me about the series, but these are made to be companions to the other characters we've seen in earlier sets. There is a second cheerleader, another robot, more gladiator stuff, and another skier. It sounds kind of boring, which is a first for the line of figures, but after letting it all settle, I don't think it's boring at all. This series will add to some of our collections, and continue to develop the Lego world.

Actor, Pirate Captain, Conquistador, Evil Robot, Alien Villainess, Diver, Vampire Bat, Fairy, Football Player, Businessman, Downhill Skier, Red Cheerleader, Santa, Lederhosen Guy, DJ and Cowgirl
To see which ones I picked up... click through the jump!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Etsy round up: The Legend of Zelda!

Now before all else, I need to warn you that Zelda is not a franchise that I'm massively familiar with. Beyond the general cultural and internet memes that I've learned over time. But it is one that people go insane for, and so I had high expectations for this particular round up. Ready your shopping lists! As always, clicking on the image will take you on a magical journey into Etsyland.

Clickety clicky for below the break action--->

Tony Downey Jr

It would appear everyone's just given up on trying to keep up the illusion that Robert Downey Jr and Tony Stark are two separate people.

Nice trailer, Tony.