Apr 17, 2014

Grid 2.0 Playing Cards

A few months ago I got another way cool deck of playing cards from Kickstarter: Grid 2.0. And the 2.0 isn't just some marketing thing to jazz up the name and make it seem all computery. A couple years ago, 4pm Designs put out a deck called...wait for it...The Grid. I missed that Kickstarter but was able to deploy some Recognizers to find one for me.

Here we go into Grid 2.0!

Grid 2.0 Playing Cards Deck

The original Grid deck featured black cards with red and blue highlights. 2.0 is white with black and blue highlights. And there's a reason for that. On the left is the Ace of Spades under normal light and on the right it's under blacklight revealing a hidden pattern.

Grid 2.0 Playing Cards Ace under Blacklight
Grid 2.0 Playing Cards Ace

Grid 2.0 has a few tricks up its sleeve with blacklight. Not only does it make the white of the cards glow but all the cards have a hidden pattern that only shows under blacklight. The cards have that same pattern you see above, but there are a few surprises that could be interesting if you work them into your card game under blacklight.

One of the Jokers has a symbol for the King of Clubs.
The Two of Hearts has a symbol for the Ace of Hearts.
The Ace of Hearts has a symbol for the Eight of Hearts.
There's also a card with a blank face that reveals it to be the Five of Spades under blacklight.

That would be a pretty cool card trick if you were able to force someone to draw the Five of Spades and eventually show them what appears to be a blank card only to make it become their card using a blacklight.

This video shows off the cards and goes under blacklight around the 1:50 mark.


Apr 11, 2014

League Post - Hey, Isn't That...?


The League of Extraordinary Bloggers continues with the somewhat vague topics this week:

Hey, isn't that...

I've been to many conventions where there's plenty of opportunities to meet and greet celebrities but I'm not really going to mention those too much because you know the people are going to be there. When I see "Hey, isn't that..." it makes me think of running into someone in a place you weren't expecting to. You can scope out my Flickr convention galleries for those.

Years ago I was working in Boston's financial district. I left the building one afternoon when a cab pulled up right in front of me and out stepped John Ratzenberger. It was one of those surreal moments where you're absolutely sure it is who you think it is but then think why are they here right in front of me? I never know what to do in those situations so I politely went up to him said "Hi, it's nice to meet you." and shook his hand. And that was that. I did kind of get the sense that he wanted to move along before too many people noticed him.

I had a couple of unexpected run-ins at the 2007 Star Wars Celebration IV in LA. First was Whitney Matheson who writes the excellent Pop Candy column for USA Today online.

Whitney Matheson

The clone in the photo was my con mascot. He's got a couple of photo galleries of his adventures at the cons over the years. Usually when taking a pic with a celeb, I try to get them to hold him.

A few days later at the same con we were walking the halls, as you do, when a group of four guys walked by us. We all turned to each other and said "Was that Napolean Dynamite?" I yelled to him, he turned around and we asked to take a photo. During which I said something very intelligent to the effect of "Are you a big Star Wars fan?"
See, I said I never know what to do...

Jon Heder

See what other League members saw
Stacey Rader
Eric Johnson has an encounter with dinosaurs...sort of
RetroRobot Review has a musical encounter

Catch up on the rest of the League here!

Apr 8, 2014

Hallmark 2014 Dream Book Highlights

I know! I know! We're still just barely into Spring but the Hallmark Dream Book catalog for 2014 arrived the other day and there's some cool stuff in it. I know not everyone gets the catalog so I wanted to share some highlights with my fellow pop culture enthusiasts.

Hallmark Vacation, Gonzo, & Delorean

Two, count 'em, two Vacation ornaments! One Christmas and one original flavor. I'm looking forward to hearing what comes out of the Gonzo one when you push his button. And a flying DeLorean. I bet that will look cool hanging on the tree with its light up effects.

If you take a quick peek at the red text down by Bats' feet, it sure doesn't look like it says Holy Hit, does it?
Hallmark Crazy Batman 2014

I don't particularly care for this one but I had to share the sheer weirdness of the pose they used. Couldn't they have put his hand a little more over his face like he's doing that V thing over the eye? Instead it looks like he stepped on a LEGO someone left on the Batcave floor. It was probably Bane.

Hallmark Jack Skellington & Frankie 2014
Ah, what a pair! There are a few Halloween themed ornaments in the catalog but I forgot to scan them! Poor Frankie doesn't have any special features. But then I guess most people probably don't want the scene with the little girl being re-enacted on their holiday tree.

Hallmark Jaws, Bradys, & Dukes

Ok, they totally missed an opportunity here. Jaws plays the theme, great! Brady Bunch plays the theme, ok. General Lee does not have a feature to play the horn?!?! C'mon now!

Hallmark Apes, Godzilla & Alien 2014

Godzilla looks like he's wearing a holiday scarf but it doesn't tie around him? It's not going to keep him very warm! And then two things I would pretty much have never expected to see in ornament form: Cornelius and an Alien. I wonder if the Alien is the first character from an R rated movie they've ever done?

Hallmark Star Wars 2014

A decent assortment of Star Wars this year. I've been collecting the LEGO ones so I'm super excited to see Boba come along. And I must get the cantina band as well. I like them anyway but you throw a music feature on them and it's about perfect. The only thing that would make it better is if they put sections of both tracks on there, not just the one most people know. I'm not sure if I hope or dread that the Vader may say "NOOOOOOOOOO!"

Hallmark ComicCon Exclusives 2014

And if you happen to be going to San Diego or NYC Comic Cons and feel like trying your luck, here are the exclusives only available there and nowhere else. Long time readers may recall a post where I explained these exclusives were actually a blessing for me. With their introduction, I could never have a truly complete set of Star Wars ornaments so I'm now free to pick and choose just the ones I really like. If they ever do a Star Wars LEGO exclusive I'm going to have to walk into Hallmark and kick someone in the no-no area.

I am a little disappointed there aren't any Adventure Time or Regular Show ornaments.

Apr 3, 2014

League Post - Cool Story, Bro


The challenge from the League of Extraordinary Bloggers this week is one of my favorite kinds: extremely vague. It gives plenty of leeway so you can just about finagle anything you were planning on posting into a League post.

The topic:
Cool story, bro.

See? Plenty vague!

Did I ever tell you about the time I was immortalized in a Lucasfilm time capsule? Probably not, because I only just recently discovered it! If you were a Star Wars fan in the early 80s, you may have been too. Read on...

This week, I sadly finished The Making of Return of the Jedi (Enhanced Edition). Why sadly? Because it was such an amazing read. I can't recommend enough getting the enhanced version if you have a device that supports it. Not only is it almost 75% less than the hardcover, but you get audio and never seen before video clips.

There is one in particular that was really interesting. It was a scene from the Vader/Luke duel with no music, sound effects or James Earl Jones voicing Vader. The visual effects were finished so you're seeing lightsabers but hearing sticks smacking together when they fight.

As I was reading, I found this from July 1981

July 4 1981

The magic is in the final sentence. Being a Star Wars fan since I saw the movie, of course I became a member of the Star Wars Fan Club when it became a thing. So in 1981, my name (along with all the other Fan Club members) was placed in a Lucasfilm time capsule and buried on Skywalker Ranch.

Were you a Fan Club member in early 1981?

Other League member stories
Geeky Vixen fangirls all over a favorite artist.
Coolest Uncle Ever? LasVegas Yankee is claiming that title.
GI Jigsaw meets a real American artist.

See the full rundown of League participants

Apr 1, 2014

Monthly Movie Recap - March 2014

Wow is it April already? And I thought February was supposed to be the shortest month. I'm am totally ready for spring to start rearing its head whenever Mother Nature decides to get off her butt and get that going.

Not too bad this month considering the first week or so my movie time was taken up by the final season of the Clone Wars animated series. It's some of the best stuff they've done but I wish they'd leave the Force stuff alone. I don't need to know a lot about some things and the Force is a "less is more" area.


Spookies (1986)
A bunch of "teenagers" look for a place to party and stumble into a haunted house. How many times have I heard that one? This flick had extra footage added after it was already done in an attempt to make the story more cohesive, but it really makes it more of a standard what I call "oddball 80s horror" flick.

Cool: If you like creature effects/makeups, there's more than enough to go around
Lame: Story, what's that? Yes, those mud men around 1:07 in the trailer are farting.
Rating: 4/10

NSFW Red Band Trailer
The Watch (2012)
Ok, I admit, this was a lot better than I was expecting. I'm guessing it didn't do well on its initial release because I think I blinked and missed it being in theaters. Yes, the humor is mainly on the 13 year old boy level, but it worked for me.

Cool: The humor was pretty good and the guys work well together; The alien design is cool.
Lame: The humor may not be for everyone; The "character stories" such as they are sometimes felt forced into the plot.
Rating: 5.5/10

American Hustle (2013)
Really good, and not what I was expecting. When the ads first showed up, it looked like one thing. Then they started advertising it as comedy of the year. It's not quite a comedy. There are funny parts, but I wouldn't call it a comedy.

Cool: Love the time period; Some scenes were shot in Salem; If you're an Amy Adams fan, you'll be seeing a lot more of her in this than her previous movies.
Lame: It did feel a tiny bit long.
Rating: 7/10

*The Muppets (2011)
Just happened to be on the day after I saw Hustle. Very, very weird seeing Amy Adams here after that. Still love this movie. I have no conscious memory of The Muppet Movie, but Rainbow Connection still gets me every time.

Hangover Part 3 (2013)
I still haven't seen part 2, which I hear is a lot like the original. Characters return, we get to see the baby from the first one and everything seems wrapped up nice and neat with a bow at the end. A very disturbing bow.

Cool: Ken Jeong is off the rails and funny as hell, stealing every scene he's in
Lame: Helms and Cooper take a backseat most of the time to Jeong and Galifinakis
Rating: 6/10

Scanners (1981)
My first time diving in to this series. Sure, everyone knows the splodey-head scene, I just never got around to it before now. It really sucked me in from the get go. I can't explain why but the world seemed to be very real, almost X-Men in nature. Unfortunately, the series peaks right out of the gate.
Rating: 8/10

Scanners II: The New Order (1991)
This was a disappointment after enjoying the first one so much. I get what they were going for with the story, it just didn't do it for me. There's also some epic "I'm using my Scanner powers" facial contortion going on that makes it silly.
Rating: 3/10


Scanners III: The Takeover (1992)
Still not as good as the original but it was a heck of a lot easier to watch than II. It definitely strays into "stupid" comedy. Whether it was intentional or not, I'm don't know but it makes for a fun time.
Rating: 5.5/10


Scanner Cop (1994)
Oh yes, there are more of them! The story is kinda cool in this one with a criminal brainwashing people to  see something horrifying when they look at a cop, which causes them to attack the cop. It's a sequel in the same universe (obvi) but still feels removed from the reality of the original movie that I like so much.
Rating: 5/10


Scanner Cop aka Scanners: The Showdown (1995)
Thankfully, the final Scanners. Continuing with the main character from Scanner Cop. This time he's up against an evil Scanner that can increase his own powers by killing other Scanners. Kinda like a vamp-Scanner. The "hero" makes innocent people appear to be him and the bad guy gruesomely kills them. Uh, not very heroic. Even more incredibly laughable "concentration" faces in this one. Best thing it has going: Khrystyne Haje, the redhead from Head of the Class.
Rating: 4.5/10

Overall, I think one of the main reasons I didn't get into the sequels (aside from them being not very good to start with) is that most of the time even the protagonist gives into their violent tendencies that are linked to being a Scanner. They kill when they could just as easily knock someone out. None of the original three are tied together aside from being in the same world, so I'd recommend the original and 3 for a "so bad it's good" time. And maybe Scanner Cop.

Month Total
 New: 9  Rewatch: 1

Year To-Date Final Total 
New: 25  Rewatch: 4

As always, if you've got any recommendations of your own, feel free to drop them in the comments. I'm sure there's a few franchises out there I still haven't seen.

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