Saturday, May 25, 2013

Free eBook: Forbidden Era by Amanda Mondoux

Longtime readers will remember our interview and giveaway with Amanda Mondoux regarding Forbidden Era last summer. Those who were interested and never got around to reading this excellent fantasy novel can do so for free this weekend, as Mondoux has posted the book for free in honor of her birthday, so you should definitely check it out.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Hot Toys Catch Up! Pre-Order War Machine Mark II, The Joker (1989 Mime Version), and Roadblock!

Those maniac, detail-obsessed artisans at Hong Kong's Hot Toys are still cranking out product with reckless abandon, and more power to them! Many collectors I know are now clearing out their years of K-mart-purchased kid-orientated crap, and graduating to fewer, high-end, screen-accurate art pieces designed for the distinguished (wo)man-child. 

There are three new offerings that our pals at Sideshow Collectibles have up for pre-order, not the least of which is this new diecast metal War Machine Mark II from Iron Man 3 - a film that this armour doesn't actually appear in. But don't let the facts stop you from enjoying the most definitive version of this character so far...

You can rush ahead and pre-order him here: 
Hot Toys Die Cast Marvel Series - Iron Man 3 War Machine Mark II EXCLUSIVE Limited Edition Sixth Scale Figure - MMS Diecast Series (Hot Toys)

But I do recommend that you come straight back, not just for more images and commentary but also to see the two other amazing figures that Hot Toys has announced. All that... after the jump!

Thank GIF it's Friday!

Due to illness, I have been spending a massive amount of quality time with the Franklin, and I can confirm that he has no interest whatsoever in mimicking me.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Thursday Threesome: Marvel’s Best Replacement Heroes

Everyone needs some time off now and then. Sometimes the job is too much; you need a vacation, are too stressed out or just happen to be dead for a while (lets face it, who hasn’t been briefly dead?). The folk in the Marvel Universe are no different... but when you’re a super hero you can’t just disappear without having a good friend, colleague or usurper to pick up the slack while you’re away. Let’s look at three of my favourite replacement heroes in the 616.

Eurovision 2013: Grand Final

Oh man! What a massive weekend of Eurovision! I only just woke up from a massive Sweden-fuelled bender, and I've gotta say, while waking up in a fridge full of frozen meatballs in IKEA was pretty weird, the photos on my phone of me riding an elk through the homewares section were FAR weirder. I was battered and bruised, and I can only imagine it was from being hit with so many key changes over the last few days.

Sadly, it's nearly time for us to leave our Swedish vänner, but before we do, join me under the cut at Malmo Arena one last time as we see what went down in the Grand Final of Eurovision 2013.

Interview Time with Author/Creator/Columnist Matt Rossi

Last year, I read Matt Rossi's excellent Bottled Demon, which inspired a series of posts about things I had read in the book. Rossi is close to finishing his next book of essays and alternate histories, At Last, Atlantis, and was kind enough to spend some time answering some questions for us.

You can find Bottled Demon at Amazon for only $2.99 (and a free borrow for Prime members!), and Things That Never Were is still available via MonkeyBrain Books and may be coming in an ebook edition soon. His WoW Insider columns can be found at Joystiq, he has a personal blog at Wordpress, and he is active on Twitter via @MatthewWRossi. Our discussion about all sorts of things is beyond the jump.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Game of Thrones: 3.08 Book Comparison and Review

Game of Thrones: Second Sons was only marginally better than last week’s Bear and the Maiden Fair, offering gratuitous boobs and a slower plot line. There are a few things to compare to A Storm of Swords here that make for an interesting look at where the show is taking the characters and what this might mean for their futures.

You’ll find some musings under the jump. There are spoilers up to the end of A Storm of Swords, and hints to the story of A Feast for Crows in this article.

DC Comics New 52 - Stryder's Weekly Top 5

Hey folks!  Time to look at another 5 comics!  These ones were released on May 15th, 2013. 

Batgirl #20 - "I looked at my uniform.  And I realized, to the dead center of my soul...I didn't deserve to wear it anymore."

Poor Batgirl is suffering from an overabundance of regret, just because she threw a batarang at her serial killer little brother, James Jr., last issue and managed to put out his eye and make him fall to his apparent death, all right in front of their father, Commissioner Gordon.  She did it to save her mother's life (quite the family reunion!) but that doesn't seem to matter to her.  She's so upset with herself that she rips the bat-symbol off of her costume in disgrace!  Drama....

Well, all that aside, there's no stopping now as we are introduced to an all-different New 52 version of the Ventriloquist!  This time around, we have an extremely thin and creepy woman named Shauna Belzer and her "dummy", Ferdie, who looks like Johnny Fiama (of Muppets fame) was possessed by the Joker, or maybe Dracula...we get a cool little origin for the character and some neat characterization to boot.  I'll miss the old universe's Ventriloquist with Scarface, but this new girl is definitely far, far creepier!  She's also got a bit of a surprise twist, but I'm not gonna tell!

See what other comics made the cut this week after the JUMP!

F**k Yeah Game of Thrones! Episode 8: Second Sons!

It’s episode 8 of blood-and-boobs fantasy epic, Game of Thrones, and they finally figure out the formula for making a consistently solid and engaging episode! Ditch the deadweight Starks, Robb and Bran (and by association that bastard Jon Snow) and focus on the undeniable badassery of Daenerys and the Lannisters. Not to mention some truly stellar performances. More like Peter DRINKlage, AM I RITE U GUYZ?!

Meet the Second Sons! Chief, Rapey and Spunky.
I may not have read your fancy books, but I sure can watch a screen like a pro. So if you can tolerate my unabashed ignorance, join me as I recap the crap out of Second Sons... after the jump!

The Book Was Better Podcast Episode 43: Judge Dredd (with guest host Suzanne!)

Well if you missed yesterday's teaser episode, you're going to be super confused! For the moment, at least, The Book Was Better podcast has gone weekly! That means here's a brand new full episode ready and raring to go!

Today I'm joined by my partner, Suzanne, who suffers through the film, book, and my commentary of Sylvester Stallone's epic sci-fi crapfest: JUDGE DREDD! (The terrible 1995 version). Not quite terrible enough, you say? Did I mention it has Rob Schneider in it? Yes. We read a book. About Rob Schneider. I sentence you to 70 minutes of hard listening. I AM THE LAW!

You can download it from the official site but you really should commit to SUBSCRIBING to us on iTunes so I can force this shit on you EVERY SINGLE WEEK!


Monday, May 20, 2013

Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Events

Now that Doctor Who season 7 is officially over, all we can do is wait until November for the 50th Anniversary special to hit the screens to find out what the Doctor and Clara will be up to next.

However, given that this is the 50th Anniversary, the BBC and Doctor Who are running events all the way through to November’s special for those of us who want to keep the anticipation alive and who are really excited about Doctor Who in general.

Let me reiterate; this is friggin HUGE.

I have friends would will be in London for the release of the Special and will be attending the biggest Who convention of all time. There are events happening all around the world in celebration; screenings, Who pop-up shops, conventions etc.

Under the jump I’ll discuss a few of the cool events happening around the world, including in Australia and England as well as posting pictures from last night’s first event I have attended. The ABC shop in Garden City’s Doctor Who Night.

Batman: Arkham Origins Trailer

Warner Brothers have let loose the first trailer for the next game in their award winning Arkham series. Let's take our first proper look at Batman: Arkham Origins

Can I just say right off the bat just how gorgeous the CGI is? It looks, moves and sounds fantastic. I want to give WB a call and tell them to shelve the whole game thing and give us an entire film like that.

The Women of Game of Thrones

I read an article recently that tried to suggest to me that, because I am a woman, I cannot like Game of Thrones. This came as news to me because I thought I spent a lot of my spare time loving A Song of Ice and Fire and of course the television version Game of Thrones.

You can read the article here: but be warned, it is stereotyped tripe.

The rebuttal is here:

A lot of the women I know love this show and this book series. In fact, people love this show. Just people in general. Because it is one of the best we’ve been treated to in a long time.

A lot of female friends, acquaintances, colleagues, article writers and twitter followers have told me there are many reasons that they love Game of Thrones. They love the complex plots, the magic, the dragons, and the world of Westeros and beyond. They love the characterisation, the twists, the relationships between characters and the way that people play the game or get caught in its clutches. Many also cite the multitude of strong female characters from many different walks of life.

Under the cut I pay tribute to some of the awesome women of Game of Thrones in season 3, because why not actually celebrate one of the most fantastic things about this show? Be aware, the post contains spoilers up to and including the  episode, The Bear and the Maiden Fair.

Review: Oh Yeah... Lego Minifigures Series 10 is Out!

The much sought after, blind-packaged Lego Minifigures Series 10 is now available to purchase! In fact, they’ve been available for the last couple of weeks. So where have we been? Busy? Absent? Drunk? Curled in a tight foetal ball, gently rocking ourselves to sleep? The truth is a little bit of everything. But we’re here now, and we have some of these blocky yellow buggers in hand.

At first glance this series isn’t quite so exciting as the last one, featuring a lot of repurposed pieces and some less than inspiring characters. But there’s still gold to be had once you dig deeper. Quite literally in fact, for series 10 also contains the extremely rare and coveted Mr. Gold!

What’s that all about? We’ll open some up... after the jump!

Courtney Coulson's Costume Critiques- Technology and Textiles Part 1: Tron

Just where does that chair end and he begin? 
Film and television is reviewed, analysed and criticised from every perspective, most of the time the focus is chiefly on directing and acting and sometimes also special effects, music and cinematography. These days it seems everyone can be a reviewer; everywhere you look on the internet someone is giving their summary on the latest movies or listing their top ten favourite episodes, there are critics that specialise in nostalgia, art house cinema, horror, animation, you name it.

But where are the critics that specialised in costume? Who praises the unsung heroes of the design world? Who gets excited over historically accurate buttons? Who noted all the tiny details and translated their intended meaning?

The closest thing out there is Clothes On Film…And that’s pretty much it.

Oh come on, really? People spend hundreds, if not thousands of dollars to dress up as their favourite characters at conventions and Halloween, whether we are conscious of it or not, the clothes really do make the man, we identify characters by their clothing just as much as any other aspect of them. At a mere glance, if a designer has done their job properly, we should be able to gain some information about the character.

Never fear, consider this niche filled by me, Courtney Coulson, costume designer (even studied it and everything!), cosplayer for seven years and owner of Costume Couture where I make costumes on commission. That sentence alliterative enough? Good, let’s begin then.

The Book Was Better Podcast: Teaser for Episode 43! (Plus SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT!)

This teaser episode of The Book Was Better podcast is a day early? Why? Because change is afoot and I have a very special announcement (no Jess isn't coming back... yet... so don't get too excited). But this is something you will need to hear with your OWN TWO EARS! Definitely don't use someone else's.

Doctor Who: The Name of the Doctor

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh! The Doctor Who finale was magnificent. There, I said it.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let me say something coherent. This episode of Doctor Who not only felt like an adventure but it answered some pretty major questions and posed some massive new ones. The support cast were excellent and Clara really came into her own.

For spoilers and discussion please join me under the jump.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

RIP Bernard Waber, Author of Lyle, Lyle Crocodile.

I don't talk much about my real world existence here on a whole, but I've essentially spent 8 of my last 10 years of professional life with children's books. While I mostly read young adult books these days, I still have a soft spot for picture books, and one of my favorites as a child was Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile, about (spoiler alert!) a crocodile named Lyle who goes on adventures in the big city. It became a series of a number of titles for the author, Bernard Waber, who became famous for these books.

Bernard Waber passed away last week at age 88. Every so often, there's a person who you encounter for a fleeting moment, and succeeds in making a lifelong impact. Bernard Waber was that person for me, so allow me a fleeting indulgence to tell a bit of a personal story about Waber.

El Professore Movie Reviews: Ninja Thunderbolt

Director: Godfrey Ho, Ming Chin
Starring: Richard Harrison, Don Wong Tao, Yasuaki Kurata
* * * 1/2

Godfrey Ho (birth name Chi Kueng Ho); one of the most reviled names in Hong Kong cinema yet paradoxically one with a feverish cult following that few can match. His directorial credits are so numerous that it is difficult to come up with a full and accurate list. The reason for much of this confusion and notoriety is Ho's patented "cut and paste" technique. Ho will often shoot thirty-odd minutes of cheapo, yet outrageously hilarious footage (usually involving Ninja) and edit it (seemingly randomly) into an another, older (and usually unidentified) film, often leading to schizophrenic results. Most will either love his work or hate it for this very reason. There is no middle ground here. For me, I find that at their best, these can be wonderfully weird anomalies. Since I almost always seem to really enjoy Ho's goofy inserts, my recommendation (or not) of these films would rest on the hour or so of older footage used. If that footage (the bulk of each film) is entertaining, then we have a winner. Which brings us to the topic at hand, 'Ninja Thunderbolt'.

Full review after the break.

Eurovision 2013 : Semi Final 2

We're rejoining the Euro-stravaganza at the Malmo Arena in Malmo, Sweden for Semi Final 2 of Eurovision 2013. Semi Final 1 was regarded as fairly lacklustre across the board (despite featuring a few of the favourites for the title), so now it's time to see if the second half of qualifying picks up the slack. Spoilers: it sure does. Even though the ESC has been a bit 'meh' up to this point, we can't fault Sweden's showmanship with their production of the event. Let's have a look at the opening scene from night 2 (though you can stop watching after about 4 and a half minutes).

Brilliant. Nicely done Sweden. Join me below the cut to check out some of the highlights for Semi Final 2. I had a hard time cutting the field down, so there's a few to get through.