Nov 30, 2013

Monthly Movie Recap - November 2013

November's Monthly Movie Recap is posting a day earlier as December begins the bloody cheerful Creepmas blog-along. It's still not too late to sign up!

Thor: The Dark World (2013)
I really enjoyed this one and thought it was more entertaining than the first one. It felt a little bit Man of Steel, a little bit Star Wars (ok, some sections really felt like it) and a few other franchises rolled together in a sci-fi action flick with a healthy dose of comedy.

Cool: Loki steals his scenes (duh!); Love the way they handle the gods/magic as aliens/science
Lame: Jane is kinda wasted and feels more like a thing than a character; More Warriors Three!!
Rating: 7.5/10

I think this will be hit or miss for a lot of people. If you're not a video game fan, you'll probably not find much to carry you through it. Sure it's low budget and the acting isn't great but I really dig the script and the video game humor. With a budget and halfway decent actors, this could be great.

Cool: Good script and jokes
Lame: Sounds like all the dialog was redubbed after shooting which creates a disconnect while viewing
Rating: 5/10
The gang is back for another level! I don't know if it's because I'm familiar with the universe but this one seems to be a bit better than the first one. It's pretty much more of the same, so if you like the first one, you should follow it with this.

Cool: Love, love, love the Ninja!
Lame: Still has the dialog disconnect; Sam has been recast so you never see her unhelmeted but it's not so bad because she's not in the movie as much this go round
Rating: 5.5/10

Joysticks (1983)
Valley girls, video games and a totally cheezy soundtrack. Could this be any more 80s? It's the classic snobs vs slobs scenario but in an arcade.

Cool: Video game machines galore! The Vidiots punk gang
Lame: Anything that might be lame only makes the movie better
Rating: 6.5/10

Fright Night 2: New Blood (2013)
I don't quite get what they're doing here. There's a 2 in the title but it's not a sequel to any of the previous Fright Night flicks. It's more like a reboot because the main characters have all been recast. If they had just changed the character names and title, this would be a decent direct to video offering.

Cool: Jaime Murray; maybe the first vampire movie I've seen to use sonar
Lame: Reasons behind the plot get a little iffy; Relates to Fright Night only in names
Rating: 5.5/10

* Man of Steel (2013)
Rewatched when the BluRay came out. On second viewing, I still enjoy it as much as in the theater and I still have the two main problems I had originally: too much lens flare and too much wanton destruction.

Zero Charisma
If you've ever participated in fantasy tabletop RPGs, this is a must see! Even if you never have, you might still like story. It's kinda like a Clerks for RPGers with a little bit of Eastbound and Down twisted into it.

Cool: Gamers will probably find something they can relate to in it...
Lame: ...sometimes a little too close to home.
Rating: 8.5/10

Kinda NSFW trailer!

ThanksKilling (2008)
Three words: demonic killer turkey. If that doesn't hook you into this, nothing will. There's not much more to say about this no budget horror comedy.

Cool: It's bad, but in the best way
Lame: Could use a little more nudity :)
Rating: 5/10, an average of how bad and how fun it is

Month Total
 New: 7; Rewatch: 1

Year to Date
New: 79, Rewatch: 4

Nov 27, 2013

November 2013 Loot Crate: Celebrate!

Welcome to the unboxing of the latest Loot Crate!
This month's theme is Celebrate. With two new gaming consoles debuting (are they next, next gen?), the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who, and of course, Thanksgiving, there's plenty of reasons to celebrate!

Disclaimer: Loot Crate has supplied these items in exchange for a review

Let's get crackin!
Unless you're Toronto Mayor Rob Ford...

Loot Crate Nov 13 BFast

BFast is a grab n go breakfast substitute that has the nutrition of a bowl of cereal with milk. And a taste that landed it in the trash after the first sip. I can't exactly pin what the nasty taste reminded me of but if you took wood shop and remember what the wood smelled like when you used the belt sander on it? That smell is what it tasted like.

Loot Crate Nov 13 FPS

Speaking of drinks, here's a little something to help them go down. 
It's a first person shooter, get it? Ba-dum-BUMP!

Loot Crate Nov 13

The mighty wallet from Dynomighty is pretty cool! It, and the packaging, are made from 25% recycled Tyvek and is 100% recyclable! They'll even recycle it for you if you send it to them. It's also supposed to be tear and water resistant. However, I have so many freakin cards in my wallet, this one doesn't have enough space to hold them all. And I'm also not such a Bat-fan that I'd use it, but it does have some sweet Bat-graphics on the inside. You can go to the site and design a custom wallet with your own graphics/photos.

Loot Crate Nov 13 Doctor Who

Yay, a couple of Doctor Who party items! The police box sign is a reusable wall sticker and the balloon, well, it's a balloon. But is gets bigger on the inside ;)

Loot Crate Nov 13 Butters speaker

Butters!! He's a Beatz Buddiez 3" tall rechargeable speaker. He's got a little loop on the top of his head to attach He comes with the necessary cord to connect him to an audio device which also has a USB plug so you can charge him for 4 hours on the go use. The speaker jack is located in a somewhat unfortunate place on his backside,  but it's keeping with South Park humor! For a 3" speaker it's better than I was expecting. They also have Cartman, Kenny, Kyle and Stan as well as other designs.

Loot Crate Nov 13 Robocycle

Next is the Robocycle deck of cards from Bicycle which is going to get added to my growing playing card collection. The face cards have some interesting robo-forms. The numeric cards are fairly standard and the card backs have a cool circuit board design.

Loot Crate Nov 13 Magazine

Lastly is the monthly Loot Crate mini-mag which showcases all the items you receive. It also has a Top 10 Doctor Who episode list. I don't think I've mentioned it before, but every month one lucky Looter gets a MegaCrate prize which is valued at over $250. This month's MegaCrate is for a PS4 and an XBox One! Holy cow, does anyone have enough spare time for two consoles?

I have to say, I think this month's crate has had the biggest bang for the buck so far!

If you want to join up to get cool stuff in your mail every month, not to mention a shot at a MegaCrate, please use the link in the top right sidebar and my promo code
 to save 10% on your order.

Nov 23, 2013

Happy 50th, Doctor Who!

You don't look a day over 800.

If you've got even a little toe in the pop culture consciousness, you've probably head today marks the 50th anniversary of the airing of the very first Doctor Who episode.

Image courtesy Ghergich & Co.
Tom Baker, the 4th Doctor, was my first Doctor back in the late 70s when I stumbled on to the show on PBS. PBS, the BBC America of a generation! I remember when my geek buddy and I would play outside after school (this was a thing before there were video games) there was this one tree that was the center console of our TARDIS. I would be the Doctor, complete with tire pressure gauge subbing for my sonic screwdriver, and he was a different doctor: Dr. David Bruce Banner! How's that for a time traveling team?

TARDIS cake by Pink Cake Box

For some reason, I didn't get the concept of regeneration or something because I never watched any Doctor Who unless it was the 4th Doctor. When I checked out books from the library, I'd always imagine the Doctor in the story was the Tom Baker incarnation. 

I started watching again with the first outing of the 8th Doctor in 1996 on FOX of all places. It wasn't what I was expecting and I just kind of forgot about it again until the new series started up in 2005. After getting past the cheesiness of the first episode (sentient killer mannequins?) it grabbed my attention and hasn't let go since.

If you haven't already, be sure to check out today's Google Doodle and see if you can beat my time. I'm not going to lie, it shouldn't be too hard!

And if you're looking for a gift for the Whovian in your life, Entertainment Earth is having a
buy one item, get one 40% off sale until 11/26.

Entertainment Earth

Nov 20, 2013

League Post - Gee, thanks

league of extraordinary bloggers Thanksgiving

The League of Extraordinary Bloggers has set a pretty straight forward assignment:

Next week, we gather to celebrate Thanksgiving. 
What are you thankful for this year?

My parents, wife and her best friend are my immediate family and they're all great! I don't talk about it much here but I haven't had a long term, non-contract job since March of last year. This has sometimes meant months of being unemployed. If you've never been in that position, it's not a fun place to be. It's a time when you find out what you're made of on the inside, and how you can be your own worst enemy. No matter how bad you think you're job might suck, I can tell you it beats not having one. I'm sure when I become independently wealthy, that opinion will change.

I'm not the kind of guy that talks about feelings and junk, I deal with them on my own as  best I can. Is it healthy? Probably not. Anyway, my point is, I am truly thankful for my family and the support they've given me over the past year and a half or so, whether they realize they're doing it or not. Glob knows I don't tell them enough.

The Blogging/Online Community
My virtual friends that I only know from their blog posts, tweets and photos. This, of course, includes the League of Extraordinary Bloggers which is how I've gotten introduced to a lot of you out there. You guys give me a refuge from the "real world" where I can let my geek flag fly high and proud and be me.

My Life
While the cliche "at least you have your health" won't pay the bills, it at least means that I'm able bodied. I can go out in the world and experience it with all my senses.

I have a roof over my head and techie toys to help in my job search and keep me entertained.

I have a paid off car that will get me to that next job.

And hey, Creepmas is coming!

Other League Members To Be Added

Nov 15, 2013

Star Wars Tiny Death Star iOS Game

Last week NimbleBit and LucasArts, in a partnership with Disney Mobile, released Tiny Death Star. It's the latest in a line of freemium games to get some Star Wars flavoring. 

I played Tiny Tower a long time ago and thought it was a fun diversion. I put it in the uber-casual category of game. When you get right down to it, there's not a whole lot to do but check into the app every so often and keep restocking your stores and building new floors when you can. There's a good review on Touch Arcade that pretty much sums up the game.

But how is the new Star Warsified version?

Star Wars Tiny Death Star Title
 The Empire isn't quite as menacing in 8-bit bodies.

It's not too different. What sets it apart from the original is the re-theming. The basic game play is the same: build floors for your Death Star, get Bitizens to move in and put them to work. One of the big differences is that you can build Imperial sub-levels like Interrogation and Tractor Beam. These levels require a Supply Officer to build their special item. You'll get assignments from the Emperor that require the items made in the sub-levels. I can't say whether it actually has any pay off beyond coins and being a different type of task.

Star Wars Tiny Death Star 1
Do they know they're helping to fund the construction of a planet destroying weapon?
As you build, you'll find lots of familiar things from the Star Wars galaxy and even a few nods to the Expanded Universe. The Bitizens that aren't serving the Empire directly have random names, hairstyles, clothes and accessories to make them feel like they just arrived from Tatooine or Cloud City. You can put them through a randomizer to try and get a better look, if you're the type of Empire that really cares about employees. Or you can spend Imperial Bux (the premium currency) to outfit them in different Imperial troop uniforms if you can't stand the thought of alien scum walking around your shiny hallways.

The Residential floors all take names from Star Wars locations. The businesses are directly influenced from the films too. Once in awhile, characters from the movies will sneak aboard your battle station and you can earn  Imperial Bux for nabbing them. But the one thing I love above all of this is the 8-bit Star Wars elevator music in the game.
Give me those as separate tracks, I'll buy them!

Star Wars Tiny Death Star 2
Ugnaughts build your new levels
Whether you've played Tiny Tower before or not, if you're a Star Wars fan, I say check out the game. It's free and at worst you lose a little time. Actually, at worst you end up liking it and even though you don't need to babysit the game, you'll find yourself doing just that.

Even when your stores are fully stocked, you'll keep watching your Tiny Death Star like Galactus eying his next meal (sorry for cross pollinating the geek references) and anticipating the next little 8-bit being needing an elevator ride somewhere.

Nov 12, 2013

Brick Warriors LEGO Accessories

Hey everyone! We're back after taking a week off to recover from the 31 days of Halloween posting. Ok, I'm lying a little. The League of Extraordinary Bloggers challenge last week featured a new auction from Hake's Americana and I could not pass that up!

I know there's a number of LEGO fans among the readers so I thought I'd share a recent discovery, whether or not it's new to you may be a different story.

I was browsing Five Below over the weekend and found what I thought was going to be another blind bag LEGO minifig knockoff line...

Turns out, it's actually a line of LEGO compatible accessories! The back of the bags are transparent so you can see what you're getting for your $2.99. They have quite an assortment of items ranging from fantasy, sci-fi, post apocalyptic, wild west and more. There are different weapons, armor and accessories from each period.

Although they don't say it, the items in each pack are usually all of the same theme. They also come in different colors which might make finding just the right piece a little time consuming as you look at all the bags.

One of the really cool parts is this Ogre Armor that lets you create a two-headed minifig.

If this kind of thing interests you, I highly recommend hitting the Brick Warriors website. There you can see all the different pieces they make and you can order individual parts in your choice of available colors.

Brick Warriors LEGO compatible accessories

Nov 5, 2013

League Post - Hake's Auction #210

Ok, I know I said I was giving the goblins a week off but when the League of Extraordinary Bloggers partners with Hake's Americana & Collectibles, out comes the whip! The premise behind this assignment is to go on a crazy shopping pop culture spree.

The prices I'm listing are Hake's estimates on what the item will fetch.

Antikamnia Skeleton Calendar ($400-700)
The first thing that grabbed my attention is this six page calendar from 1898 that was distributed to doctors. The illustrations are truly weird. The caption of the page on the right is "'Fo' De Lawd's Sake What You Doin'?' - Uncle Rufus - 'De Doctah Said--Put De Plastah On De Ol' Woman's Back!'" Gotta love 1898! They have three other calendars from around the same time as well.

Full insert

Close up
Star Wars Action Figure Case Insert ($200-400)
If you're an OG Star Wars fan, you might remember those rectangular cases to hold your figures. The cases had a double-sided cardboard insert that showed off the figures. This particular insert is rare because one of the figures is a kit-bashed Boba Fett. This would have been a cool figure to get!

Johnny Eck signed photo ($100-200)
I absolutely love the 1932 movie Freaks so this is a special treasure to find up for bid. The auction mentions this tidbit: "The twins performed magic shows where the full-body twin would be sawed in half, and Johnny would crawl through the audience, much to their shock." Can you imagine?

Piece of Disney History Haunted Mansion Pin ($50-100)
"This limited edition pin contains a piece of one of the three Audio-Animatronic Hitchhiking Ghosts (Phineas) from Disney's The Haunted Mansion. The piece of the ghost is in a capsule on the left side of this pin." Sure it's a teeny tiny piece but how cool it would be to have! We have a Wizard of Oz trading card that has a tiny piece of the original Yellow Brick Road in it.

Vincent Price Ring ($400-700)
"This large and heavy ring is made of pewter with a silvery finish although with some brassy luster on his exceedingly high relief portrait which is surrounded on each side with claws. This is the example pictured in The Overstreet Toy Ring Price Guide with the notation that it was a licensed ring and that only 12 were produced." 
Oh my, this thing is gore-geous! The fact that it's only 1 of 12 ever made just elevates its awesomeness.

Ok, I have to reign myself in otherwise I'll be here all day!

Here what other League members have their eye on
Neato Coolville has got some retro scifi goodness
D.I. Treasures found some cool Pez dispensers I missed
Vintage board games and movie monsters at Achievements in Gaming

Nov 3, 2013

Monthly Movie Recap - October 2013

Hey folks! After the Halloween blog-along, the goblins are all exhausted and need a break. I'm giving them a week off so they can come back nice and refreshed. But before that, here's the movie recap for October. Clicking on any of the title links takes you to Amazon
where you can purchase these fine films.

Little Witches (1996)
Six misfit girls at a Catholic boarding school become mixed-up with occult and witchcraft after a Satanic temple is discovered underneath the local church. Have you ever watched The Craft and thought "Gee, I wish this had more Satan and T&A but not be as good of a movie."? If so, this is your film.

Cool: Except for the aforementioned T&A, not much
Lame: It's pretty by the book
Rating: 4/10

Big Ass Spider (2013)
This movie is so much fun! It's how a SyFy Original should be done. With those, you're usually laughing at them instead of with them like with this movie.

Cool: Grunberg and his sidekick are perfect; the spider is wicked
Lame: Sure the plot gets a little contrived but what do you expect with a title like Big Ass Spider?
Rating: 8/10

I Bought a Vampire Motorcycle (1990)
I don't know how you get the idea to make a movie about a killer motorcycle, never mind how you'd actually execute it. Given that, I think they did an ok job with the silly concept.

Cool: Anthony Daniels (C-3P0) as a priest; talking poo; a murderous motorcycle
Lame: If you can't get into the motorcycle's antics, you won't be able to finish it
Rating: 5/10

Grabbers (2012)
Why aren't there more movies like this and Big Ass Spider being made?!? This one is another totally fun monster flick. Once they figure out the only way to keep from being eaten by the monster is to get drunk, it's party time!

Cool: The monster effects are fantastic; drunk people trying to fight monsters? hilarious!
Lame: I got nothing.
Rating: 8.5/10

The Lords of Salem (2013)
Despite one of the worst movie posters ever, I really wanted to see this and like it. Most of the time Zombie hits the 70s occult movie vibe dead on and I love that part of it. Parts are freaky, some trippy but it's never really spooky or scary.

Cool: Seeing parts of Salem in the movie that I know so well; Bruce Davison is fantastic but his role's too small
Lame: Most of the rest of the cast. I never believed Sherri Moon was who she was supposed to be or that she was anything other than someone playing a part, given she's the main character, that ain't good! It's also got one of those "that's it?!" endings that kinda killed a lot of love it had built up from me to that point.
Rating: 4.5/10, I saw a lot of positive tweets...maybe I'm not the right audience?

V/H/S/ (2012)
No trailer because it gives away too much! This is a pretty solid horror anthology. It is a touch too long but watching at home you have the luxury of pausing. They could have cut the honeymoon segment, my least favorite, and it would have been better.

Cool: The segments all have at least a little creepy part to them, especially the Halloween one which is my favorite despite the end not making sense. I watch a lot of horror and rarely have to switch lights on when moving through the house at night. Good show, V/H/S!
Lame: The webcam segment is creepy but either I missed it or they didn't explain what was going on adequately because I had to look it up online.
Rating: 7.5/10

The Giant Spider (2013)
I posted about this a little while ago. Filmmaker Christopher Mihm is making retro inspired movies in the modern day. If it's got a giant bug in it, whether it came out yesterday or 50+ years ago, I'm in!

Cool: It's got everything you'd want from an atom age giant spider movie: an actual tarantula as the monster, cheezy puppetry, mediocre acting and even a little humor.
Lame: If you don't already have an affinity for the original b-movies of the time, this is not for you.
Rating: 6/10

Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
This is what happens when you can't sleep during the week. I feel bad for anyone that sees this for the first time in their home with no context. I was obsessed with this movie before I even saw it after see the music video for Sweet Transvestite on Mtv. That tells you how long ago this was! I had a story book, soundtracks and an audience participation album. First time I went, I dressed as Brad, the fully clothed version.

Curse of Chucky (2013)
Everyone's favorite killer My Little Buddy knockoff is back in a direct to video sequel. They seem to be trying to steer it back to Chucky's horror origins instead of it being more comedic like the last two films. For direct to video, it's pretty good but I don't know if I'd feel the same if I saw it in a theater.

Cool: Some good kills and gore; the after credits scenes are great
Lame: The plot feels a little shoehorned to fit in with the original movies
Rating: 6/10, if you're a fan of the series, definitely check it out

All Hallow's Eve (2013)
Another anthology of horror movies on a VHS tape, what are the odds? Where V/H/S/ is a group of unrelated stories, there is something tying all the stories in All Hallow's Eve together and that something is a disturbingly evil, and occasionally comedic, freakin clown.

Cool: I really like what they did with the bookend segments; the third segment is done in a grind-house style
Lame: The second segment doesn't feel like it fits with the other two
Rating: 6.5/10, If you have a bad reaction to clowns, do NOT watch this!

Month Total
 New: 9; Rewatch: 1

Year to Date
New: 72, Rewatch: 3

Nov 1, 2013

Halloween in Salem 2013

As I make this blog post, the TV is on the Sounds of the Season music channel which is still playing Halloween music until midnight.

It started raining slightly Halloween afternoon but I had faith the pumpkin headed gods would favor us yet again and they did. The Trick of Treaters starting coming around 5:30 and they were out in force this year! We've lived here for 11 years and we're lucky if we get half the number of kids we did this year. I usually make up around 20 goodie bags and we have some left over the next day. Last night, they went quick!

Luckily they started thinning out by 6:30 so we didn't have to turn anyone away as we got ready to head into Salem. Police presence increases a little bit every year and I heard Homeland Security was even in town. That's the creepiest thing, for reals. Anyway, here's a tiny fraction of the people out and about. Credit for the pics goes to my wife and mom, since I can not only not handle a camera in costume, but damn if I can see more than 10' away.

The Minions of Despicable Me seemed to rule the night this year. We must have seen between 8 and 10 of them. Minnie Mouse also seemed to be popular with girls of all ages. It's always interesting to see what costume trends are popular.

We had a fun time and got stopped for plenty of pics as usual. There's one in the above gallery of the Scooby Gang. You can barely see me, but I'm photobombing them in the background, all in black. The people taking photos thought I was part of their group. That could have been fun! The Jack Skellington that I'm pictured with is actually a guy I've met at a couple of Calabrese concerts so it was fun to run into someone I knew among all the people.

I went back tonight, figuring it's a Friday night and the party would still be going to some degree. I could not have been more wrong. The carnival was closed down, the haunted attractions locked up and fewer people walking around town than you'd see on any given weekend. It felt a little odd to be walking around in costume.

After making a lap around downtown I decided to leave. A nightmare can't thrive if there's no one to fear it, right? As I walked back I was coming down a somewhat poorly lit area on to a better lit street. A group of six or seven 20-something foreign ladies were on that street.

2012 Halloween Salem Creep in Darkness

I can only imagine what I might have looked like coming down the darkened street with Halloween seeming like it was a month ago instead of a day. I could hear them reacting with nervous giggling so I waved a creepy, elongated fingered hand in their direction. And I am not exaggerating when I say they ran down the street away from me. That kinda made the night's effort all worthwhile.

A huge thanks to Countdown to Halloween and Blog-O-Ween!

And there's still time for you to enter to win a free month's subscription to Loot Crate
over at yesterday's post.