Saturday, November 3, 2012

El Professore Movie Reviews: Fiend Without a Face

Director: Arthur Crabtree
Starring: Marshall Thompson, Kynaston Reeves, Kim Parker
* * * 1/2
One of the most vivid T.V. experiences of my young life (at the tender age of 8, I think) was when I hankered down in front of my pre-cable Boob Tube one Friday night and witnessed one of the most ghastly things I could possibly imagine at that stage of my life. The film was 'Fiend Without a Face' and it introduced me to the world of gore and did so in the most spectacular way possible.

Full review after the jump:

Thursday, November 1, 2012

ShelfLife Introduces Collector Wars!

If there is one thing toy collectors are obsessed with, it's checklists. Going back to the dawn of the internet, there have been forum discussions after forum discussions about a checklist for this line of figures, and which checklist is the best and most complete, and which is printable, or can be filled in online, etc... I guess being completist and obsessive-compulsive probably go hand-in-hand. And I think the creators of the new toy archival site ShelfLife realized that as well.

ShelfLife has a touch everything. It's part Wikipedia (you can add information about your toys) part checklist (you can catalog your toys), part eBay (you can buy and sell toys, part Instagram (you can photograph your toys), part Facebook (you can chat about your toys), and defying the normal all-in-one odds, it seems to blend all of these really well. 

Just clicking on a figure (for example Blitzkreig Bat from Battle Beasts) brings up a whole tree of options. Starting from the manufacturer (Hasbro) all the way down to the release date (1987). Each of these is clickable which brings you to a listing of every other figure that fits the criteria. 

And on the user input side, there are photos of each toy, packaging and accessories. Well, eventually there will be. As you can see above there are a lot of placeholders. But.... ShelfLife is very smart. They are rewarding collectors for filling in these gaps during their beta period. For the next 30 days, you can win huge prizes for contributing to the site. It's one of those things that you would probably do anyway (make a checklist! You get points for each owned toy in your collection) and you may wind up winning more toys in the end, which will eventually end up in your collection. Circle of life. 

Do Collector Stuff. Earn Points. Win $750 in Prizes! is proud to announce the launch of our Collector Dashboard and Collector Score functionality to cap a year of fantastic development for our collector community. To celebrate, we’re running COLLECTOR WARS from November 1st - 30th, 2012. Almost everything you do on ShelfLife this month racks up your Collector Score, and we’re giving away $750 in prizes and cash to celebrate!

Click through the jump for the full press release:

The Readthrough of Time: Winter's Heart

After a bit of a delay, we're back on board with the Readthrough of Time. The plan is to catch up over the next five weeks in November - we'll skip on Thanksgiving, because no one should be subjected to this on a day you're already subjected to your family. As usual, this is less a traditional recap and more of an experience recap.

With all that said, the latest book is Winter's Heart, the ninth book in the series. We're officially on the back end of the Jordan-penned tomes, and, well, let's explore a bit behind the jump, because there's ultimately one word to describe the experience...

Let's Cast Star Wars Episode VII!

Okay, Disney, let me solve this casting issue for you!

In my previous article about Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm and plans to continue the Star Wars saga in 2015 with the long-anticipated Episode VII, I drew the conclusion that the easiest course forward is to recast Luke, Leia, Han (and Lando) with a younger cast. Wild speculation and impassioned opinion will run wild on the Interwubz, but I’m here to save you from all that drama by giving you the right answer right now!

I know exactly who should be cast in Episode VII and I’ll tell you why... after the jump!

Book Review: Olly Moss' Silhouettes From Popular Culture!

I always get a buzz when pop culture icons leak into the art world. As an unrepentant narcissist I want to see the influences of my youth reflected all around me. Artist Olly Moss’ first book of collected works does exactly that. Silhouettes From Popular Culture toys with the conventions of Victorian silhouette, portraiture turning beloved pop profiles into classic works of art. This style provides a very simple way of capturing a recognisable likeness and much of the fun to be had while perusing this book is seeing just how many of these characters you can successfully identify.

And did I mention that it was published by our good friends at Titan Books who were kind enough to hook us up with a copy? Join me after the jump to find out more!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Board Game Themed Halloween Displays!

While a massive storm postponed Halloween in NJ until Monday November 5th, some of us had the foresight to knock out all of our trick or treating last week. We took the family to a yearly event at the local community college where kids could walk from display to display, trick or treating and absorbing the visuals.

I don't even remember the theme from last year, but this time it was board games! From Candyland to Monopoly to Battleship, almost all of the classics were represented.

Check out the full gallery after the jump. And let us know... if you were going to do a Halloween Board Game themed display, what would you do??  (I would do Survive: Escape From Atlanis)

Let's Speculate on Star Wars Episode VII!

Just when I thought I was out... they pull me back in.

I was convinced that Star Wars was about to go into extended hibernation but today’s surprise announcement (that Disney has bought Lucasfilm and is prepping the release Episode VII in 2015) is by far the biggest Star Wars news in over a decade and paves the way for a very active Star Wars packed future.

I imagine that the notion of a post Return of the Jedi sequel is an exciting one for a lot of original trilogy fans who, like me, were a little disappointment that Lucas instead chose to explore the prequels rather than advance his current story. Couple this with the fact that we’ll have some fresh writers and directors at the helm, working with Lucas as a consultant, and I think this announcement is ripe with opportunity. Disney is doing some amazing things of late with both Pixar and Marvel, and there’s plenty of talented creatives that can be brought on board. Once you’ve spent four billion dollars there is an impetus to get it right.

As a long time fan, talk of Episode VII really gets my mind racing. What will it be? How can it work? What are the challenges that the filmmakers need to overcome? I have plenty of thoughts about all of this, so let me break it down with you... after the jump!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Star Wars 7 Facts & Video of George Lucas Signing His Life Away!

As fanboys and fangirls rejoice and bicker on Twitter, some solid Star Wars 7 info is starting to trickle in.

From the Washington Post:
-The seventh movie, with a working title of “Episode 7,” is set for release in 2015.  
-Episodes 8 and 9 will follow.  
-The trilogy will continue the story of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Princess Leia beyond “Return of the Jedi,”. 
-After that, Disney plans a new “Star Wars” movie every two or three years. 
-Lucas will serve as creative consultant in the new movies.

Here is the new face of Star Wars, Kathleen Kennedy, discussing her plans with George Lucas.

And the teary-eyed moment itself... when George Lucas signed it all away. Followed up by some poorly lit words from Bob Iger and George Lucas.

I sure hope Disney is saving their good cameras and lighting for the upcoming Star Wars films.

Walt Disney Presents: STAR WARS!!!

I'm not going to editorialize too much here, but BREAKING NEWS:

Disney has just agreed to PURCHASE LUCASFILM from George Lucas for 4.08 BILLION dollars!!  This means that they'll own the rights to Star Wars, Indiana Jones, etc. as well as ILM, Skywaker Sound and LucasArts.  Probably they get to play with R2-D2 too.  Who knows?  Hot Snow falls up here in backwards land!!

the biggest news?  STAR WARS EPISODE VII in 2015!!!

Read the official press release here!  Thoughts?  Good thing?  Bad thing?  I don't know WHAT to think!

Stryder's Favourite Comics - 10/24/2012

Happy Halloween everybody! What better way to celebrate than with those few who don costumes every day of the year...the heroes and villains of the DC Universe!  Let's see what we have this week!

Superman #13 - "I am NOT the only one who believes in the power of the press--The fact that we need to stand up for the truth."

The new creative team for Superman takes over this issue to bring us a prelude to the SUPER cross-over "H'El on Earth" wherein Superman bench presses the planet, quits his job at the Daily Planet and is forced to fight a gigantic 2-headed dragon!  Oh, and he walks in on Jimmy Olsen and an...ahem..."guest" in the shower. 

Writer Scott Lobdell and artist Ken Rocafort (you might know them from Red Hood and the Outlaws) get a crack at the man of steel and they DO NOT disappoint.  The book is beautiful, the characterization is spot on..this is arguably the BEST issue of Superman since the New 52 began!  If you only buy ONE comic a month, make it Batman.  But if you buy TWO?  This is a really, really strong contender!  Kudos!

Speaking of Batman, we've got Batman, Inc, The Flash, Teen Titans and more after the JUMP!

Nerd History: An art project for your vote

While Americans begin doing early voting and hitting the polls, everyone has their own reason for voting and finds their own route to getting to that decision. Ohio is one of the more important states, and one artist has decided that art is the best way to figure out where his vote should go. He opened an art installation in Ohio on 10 October:

At the opening tonight we will have a live action performance to decide the fate of the election using Dungeons and Dragons dice, rules and attacks. We have created an all-encompassing environment for the game, including a dungeon wall with candelabra, an old church podium, and physical elements relating to the battle. I will be Dungeon Master and ask for two volunteers to come up and play the roles of Obama and Romney. We’ll go through a little ceremony and then they’ll roll D&D dice and “damage” each other until there is a victor. Whoever comes out victorious will win my real-life vote in Ohio. When I go to the polls, I’ll take photo documentation so people know that I have voted for the winner of the game.

This is a little funny and a lot scary for me for a lot of reasons, but whatever. According to Wired, Obama ended up being the victor:

The two contestants rolled giant d20s into a box that resembled a craps table. Obama used a d12 for damage and Mitt a d10. Then came the climactic moment: “The hits went back and forth until Mitt had 10 hit points and Obama had 20,” Smith said. The final roll took Mitt to -1 hit points. Smith pronounced King Belian the victor and finished saying “My vote binds the future.”

Regardless of one's feelings on the upcoming election, the internet makes it easier to find these somewhat strange performance art pieces, and serve as one of those strange arcane concepts that often get lost to the ages.

Kickstart the Week with City Hall - A Ruthless, Political Board Game!

We've covered Michael Keller's City Hall a few times now (Unpub Philly, Dexcon, World Boardgaming Championships), and after lots of play testing and fine-tuning, it is on Kickstarter looking for your support!

City Hall sees players competing to become Mayor of New York City. They do this by attempting to be the most successful at both bringing people into the city as well as campaigning for the citizens' approval. Whoever best balances these two goals will win the election.
While I still have yet to play, many friends have played and loved the game. Unpub's John Moller said "City Hall is one of the most unique and complex role selection games that I've ever played", and mega-reviewer Josh Edwards tweeted "I tried it once at WBC, and it was sweet." The Kickstarter listing also shows glowing praise from Andrew Parks, designer of Core Worlds, Gil Hova, designer of Prolix, and Dan Cassar, designer of Cavemen: The Quest for Fire. City Hall has impressed the industry enough to land Michael the role of designer on an upcoming big box game from Tasty Minstrel Games.

You can pledge for a copy of the game for $50 (with free US shipping), or add custom painted wooden stars for $15 more. You could also get an advance copy of the game for $150, or name one of the cards in the game for $200. The total funding goal is $25,000, and a breakdown of what the funds will cover (hint: not as much as you think) is listed at the bottom of the Kickstarter page.

Best of luck to Michael Keller and City Hall! Check it out at:

Axe Cop Animated Teaser!

You all know about Axe Cop, right? The webcomic sensation drawn by 30-year-old Ethan Nicolle and written by his six-year-old brother, Malachai! I recently read Axe Cop: Bad Guy Earth, their first long-form graphic novel from Dark Horse, and was thrilled at the boundless, batshit insane, unfiltered imagination that only a six-year-old can deliver. Malachai injects more ideas into a single panel than DC put into the entire New 52!

Like all good ideas, it now needs to be made into a TV show and below is our first taste of next year’s Axe Cop animated series, in the form of a spoOOooky Halloween themed vignette. It all looks pretty faithful to me. If you’ve not yet been introduced to the joy that is Axe Cop then this is a pretty good first taste...

If child labour can be that funny then I’m all for it!!

The Book Was Better Podcast: Teaser for Episode 30!

In this fifteen minute mini-episode of The Book Was Better podcast we respond to your feedback and reveal the next exciting movie novelization that we will be discussing/debating/destroying next week! Actually, a lot of this episode is a huge rant about American misconceptions of Australia, but there’s probably some other stuff in there too. Oh yeah - we debrief on Avatar: the Last Airbender and share Halloween tales! And did I mention that next week’s book is something (vaguely) spoooOOOoooky for Halloween. And will air nearly a week after Halloween. And is actually probably more of a comedy? Shut up! This is free!

You can download it from the official site or subscribe to us on iTunes so we can sneak onto your iPod and rub up against your apps!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Book review: Dragon Age: The Silent Grove!

The newest Dark Horse volume in the trade paperback (um, this is still a hardcover) stable of Bioware graphic novels is a Dragon Age entry - written by David Gaider, who's work I've already review before over here, and in whom I have so much faith that I feel like I could review the writing without even reading it. The art is by Chad Hardin and the coloring by Michael Atiyeh, lettering by Michael Heisler. The script is by Alexander Freed - which makes me wary, since it makes Gaider's involvement indistinct. Did he throw an idea together? Make an outline? Draw some stick figures and fax them to Freed? I don't know. We'll see.

Click below the break for pirate boobs and anthropomorphic crossbows!

Review: Dredd 3D.

It’s somewhat disappointing to enjoy a movie like Dredd - a late arrival to Australia - knowing that it has already failed to make an impact with audiences in the US. Much of this disinterest is no doubt driven by the lingering spectre of the terrible Sylvester Stallone/Rob Schneider Judge Dredd of 1995, but rest assured that Dredd (3D) is definitely not that film, in the same way that Batman Begins isn't Batman Forever.

Earlier this year I lamented the lacklustre nature of the watered-down Total Recall remake, but Dredd responds to that criticism with incendiary rounds blazing. Director Pete Travis and writer Alex Garland present a lurid return to the unapologetic, over-the-top ultra-violent movies of the eighties and early nineties. And this time the titular Judge clings to his popular comic book roots, presenting a far more accurate and appealing vision of the character.

Dredd is gritty, twisted fun and I've got a lot more to say about it... after the jump!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Bands Playing As Other Bands For Halloween!

In the meta event of the day, we present bands dressed up and playing as other bands! It's actually a really cool yearly event. Every Halloween, South Jersey's Gradwell House recording studio presents the best bands in the area in a Halloween concert that is loaded with hilarity and awesomeness.

In recent years bands have performed as Blues Traveler, Pearl Jam, Bruce Springsteen, The Smiths and The Go-Gos. This year was as good as ever with Willie Nelson, Zack Attack, Wham!, Talking Heads, Pavement, Jesus and Mary Chain, and Guided By Voices.

It's A King Thing as Pavement:

Check out a song from each band after the jump!