Sunday, March 31, 2013

TOP 5 Best representations of D&D on TV.

I love gaming, it's my number one hobby. I have tried giving it up and no I can't quit. that being said though it has often been cast in a harsh light by the media I got it in school too. People either thought i was some mega nerd who spent all my time figuring out who would win in a fight between The enterprise and a star destroyer (totally NCC-1701-D, storm troopers can't hit the broad side of a galaxy class star ship!)  or I was some sicko cultist who would kill puppies for Satan.  I even had a girl try to "save my soul" when she found my copy of Call of Cthulhu sticking out of my book bag, she asked me if I believed in Jesus, I explained I was an athiest, and she said "So you do worship Satan!" I didn't know where to begin with that special level of stupid. But thankfully not everyone is quite so blind, here are the five best examples of what the game is and how it really feels to play set to celluloid. enjoy!

5- X-Files (Unusual Suspects) This one is lowest on the list only because it is such a small reference, in short the character of Langley (the blonde longhaired lone gunman) is seen in what appears to be a back alley game (maybe craps or even a dog fight) He states boldy that the odds are 200, and then questions everyones manhood when they don't put in their bets once they do, he roles the dice. It's a d20, and the people around him (as the shot pans out) are informed that they each lost 200gp (suckers) it's a classic misdirect but a lot of fun and completly within keeping in the game.

4- Dexter's Lab (AD&Dee Dee) This one shows that cartoon artist Gendey Tartakofsky knows what it's like to sit around a table fighting imaginary orcs for treasure. Dexter is cast in the light of a know it all DM ruining the fun for his players when his sister joins in, takes over as Dungeon Master and shows that the rules can go hang as long as the players are having fun (well except Dexter who is stuck playing Hodo, the furry footed Burrower!) great example of kids playing the game.

3- Community (Advanced Dungeons and Dragons) This one gets high marks just for it's clever use of turn around tactics. In the 1980s D&D was a scapegoat for many suicides and people like Pat Robertson, claimed it to be the work of the devil, and t was to blame for suicides. In this episode, Jeff finds out Neil (often called Fat Neil) is depressed because he is being teased at college after being tormented in high school about his weight, finding out that Neil is into D&D, Jeff concocts a game to help show him he has friends and stop him from potentially committing suicide. The only obsticle is Pierce the dickish. Classic.

2- The I.T. Crowd (Jen the Fredo)In this take D&D is analogized with prostitution with hysterical results. Jen is forced to show some businessmen a good time, meaning booze, hookers, and the like and after a disastrous attempt with them seeing the Vagina Monologues instead, she enlists Moss and Roy to play D&D with them. Which they get into,  and find that D&D can be pretty fun too.

1- Freaks and Geeks (Discos and Dragons) This one is the top of the list in my opinion, and if you like D&D you owe it to yourself to watch this episode if not the whole run of Judd Apatow's amazing show Freaks and Geeks. Daniel (James Franco) is forced into AV club for punishment and has to hang with the geeks, while Sam and the guys are Nerding it up, the talk about and then invite Daniel to join in, and he does treating the viewer to what about every first D&D game looks like (especially in the 1980s) soda and chips, corny theatrics and rolling dice in the end Daniel admits it was kinda fun, but does not go off the deep end It's probably the most outright realistic approach to the hobby I have ever seen on T.V.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

What is the Best Fictional city to live in.

So I am kinda curious on this one and would love some feedback, also why does no one comment on these blogs? Seriously, just a couple of words would be nice, tell you what the first person to comment gets a dollar. anyhoo here is my topic, and I would love to hear  your responses which fictional town city would in your mind be the best to live in and why, here are a few examples and my own thoughts.


RAPTURE- Like an Ayn Rand novel gone horribly logical, Rapture is a massive city beneath the waves where the true makers can create a better life, of course now it's a sinking ship full of tweaked out plasmid junkies and ghostly little sisters but you can see whales from your apartment window.
THE PLUS- It's a nice undersea city with a classic 1940s art deco look
THE MINUS- about everything else!


THE CITY OF TOWNSVILLE- It's a sugary sweet answer to living in Gotham City, with a cute cartoony mayor and it's got superheroes (Except after bedtime). It's low on crime high on cuteness.
THE PLUS- It's a great place to raise your kids
THE MINUS- being laughed at because the biggest threat to your city is a monkey with an odd speach pattern.


DOG RIVER, SESCACHEWAN- It's 40 Km from nowhere, meaning that if you are looking for peaceful, this is it, however you only have once place to go to in town and it's the corner gas station and coffee shop.
THE- PLUS- Low crime rate, and sarcastic neighbors.
THE MINUS- As a town in a sitcom, chances are you will be drawn in to no end of cartoony fiascos.


GOTHAM CITY- A hopping nightlife, cool art deco buildings and plenty of high tech facilities, of course there is also an insane crime rate, and a high chance of getting poisoned by Joker gas, Poison Ivy's Toxins or any one of a thousand other supervillian plots.
THE PLUS- Never a dull moment.
THE MINUS- Really, you need this spelled out for you?


SPRINGFIELD- For Small town living with everything from a comic book store, to a gorge, a dam, a tire fire and more, hell springfield has more stuff in it than most large cities. and its full of character to boot.
THE PLUS- It's got it all, seriously is there anything this town doesn't have?
THE MINUS- It's been domed, blown up, and moved trust me this place is anything but peaceful!

any thoughts, any ones you can think of you would rather live in? Let me know.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Oh really James? Really?

So I just heard this recently and had to post about it. James Cameron when prompted about his sequel to the 2009 movie Avatar, stated that  unlike Peter Jackson He didn't have a book he could mine, that he was doing this all on his own.


Poor you. Seriously. Poor you Mr. Cameron. Your film was a paper thin plot loosely based on several themes that have been done to death in Hollywood, including but not limited to Ferngully, Dances with Wolves. Pocahontas, and even Transformers, not to mention some of your previous works. You may think that Jackson is just sitting on a couch barking out orders, based on a few chapters, but let's look at the facts Tolkien is more than a book. It is a series with a massive fan base that can turn all kinds of ugly with just a few missteps. Don't believe me Look at Joel Schumacher's Batman, and he didn't even have to follow nearly as closely as jackson has to. had he cast say, Jack Black, or Ryan Reynolds as Bilbo, the film would have been the subject of countless ire on the internet. even an attempt to expand a slim single volume book like the hobbit into 3 films and padding it with cannon Tolkien material has earned him some ill repute. Meanwhile how many people were upset about Sam Worthington being cast as Jake Sully, none, save for maybe a few actors who were also up for the role. why because no one had an attachment to Jake Sully before the movie came out, and just as many have an attachment to him now. No one has wanted more info on Jake Sully no Avatar comics, novels or RPG have been attempted to fill in the blanks. Why because no one cares enough to make these worth doing. In contrast Battlestar Galactica started it's life as an attempt by a TV network to cash in on the Star Wars craze. yet even Classic Galactica had fans talking about Starbuck and Apollo. The revamp even more so, I would continue to to off on your so called opus but I think the folks at Red Letter Media Said it best and put more work in it than I actually want to.


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

DLC DRM and WTF

I Know my last post had a political bent, but I guess this puts me on a roll..

With the new generation of game machines about to launch their way into our living rooms soon enough I think we need to look at how videogaming has changed from the age of Atari, where you bought a cartridge and were done, to today where we are going to be downloading apps from the internet and then buying extra bits for our games later, Downloadable content or DLC, has changed teh way we look at gaming. It used to be a single product, that you would buy and maybe you might on some formats have an add on or expansion pack, but now videogame venders want to nickel and dime you for every little damn thing. the IOS market is a perfect example of this, I recently bought Batman, Arkham City, an IOS stand alone game based on the Playstation-3 X-box-360, action game. it is an extremely shallow game for $4.99 but you can add depth with new DLC including multiple bat suits and the like for only $0.99 per suit, and Waynetech points to buy upgrades in game for $0.99 to $14.99 how awesome is that? Well not really it's a punchout clone with a bunch of extra crap they want you to buy to give you extra trinkets. It is the new way of milking players for extra cash. This isn't the only game that works this way. Most of the IOS library has in app purchases or DLC, to make your game EVEN BETTAR!!! My main gripe with this is this isn't an achievement it's a microtransaction. It's not like someone found a secret cleverly hidden by programmers. It is a technique to replace learning and practicing the game with real world cash. In short it's a sham and it isn't going away lots of talk about both new machines going direct download to kill the used game market, and DLC packs which used to be an enticement to buying a game new, is now going to be forced to buy the game new, and then bugged to buy extra virtual crap with real cash. I get it makes more money, and they sell more stuff.


And speaking of corporate greed in games, I am not against DRM on the principle of protecting copyrights to an extent but when you manage a shop like iTunes with international sales and distribution of the internet, it still baffles me that we cannot buy stuff from other countries. Anime fans in the US and Canada, or fans of British comedies have to deal with the specific selections of BBC America, Anime Network or VIZ Media. These guys are essentially middle men that repackage product and profit. Why it's not to protect against piracy. If I want to buy That Mitchell Webb Look or Maccross directly from the source, then they legally get their money for their product. Why would this be wrong in the days of analogue TV where getting shows from overseas meant dealing with the differences of format (NTSC, PAL, or SECAM) but artificially blocking me from legally buying works because you want me to buy from only authorized middlemen is the kind of enticement that makes piracy so enticing to many. if i can easily get it and you make a profit everyone is happy if I have to jump through a series of bizzare hoops to get it legally but can easily torrent it which would you choose. I am willing to pay for ease of use this is why I don't pirate and why I have bough so damn much in movies and the like on iTunes, but seriously this kind of stupid artificial barrier only costs companies more money, as they give it to their middlemen if they get it at all.

Monday, March 25, 2013

mediocre movie Monday: Atlas Shrugeed parts 1&2

Warning! this post is about to get political, you have Been warned.

at lash shrugged is over 4 hours cut across 2 movies so we can get this "epic tale" in it's true scope and majesty. Similar excuses are why the last Harry Potter, Twilight and why the hobbit were cut into multiple pieces, mostly in the case of the last 3 it's because studios wanted to extend the life of these gravy trains as longs as they could. After the Hobbit, there is no real market for other Tolkien films. As for Potter and Twilight, both authors could continue making sequels with no real guarantee that fans will love them like last time. But imgaine if Lord of the rings couldn't have kept it's leads from one move to the next. Imagine Viggo Mortenson, Orlando Bloom, and even Ian Mc Kellan, jumping ship before the Two Towers even filmed. Then imagine it Fellowship was a flop. I mean, almost to direct to video failure. Contract or not, Two Towers would probably be shelved. But in the case of Atlas Shrugged the makers felt it was so important to make make sequels, to the first film despite just these issues. They had to recast all the leads, and the first film didn't make the kind of money that a Scary Movie, or a Pearl Harbor. Why? Because the message of this film is so important? If that is the case, you still have to wonder will you be able to get someone to sit through 4 hours of long and plodding storyline, to get Ayn Rand's message of objectivism. This film is called a science fiction tale, but with it's improbable logics, and flat out goofy world view this seems to me like calling Ridley Scott's Alien as a Romantic comedy.

In short the story is about Dagney Taggart, a woman who's grandfather built a railroad. She is meant to be a heroic ideal of an industrialist beset on all sides by an evil government forcing collectivism. The "evil government" is obsessed with destroying exceptionalism by forcing companies to share resources with the government. And she and a few others spend the films defying this collectivist government. Meanwhile all kinds of exceptional people are disappearing and here comes all the the "who is John Galt?" A question no one really needs an answer to. The real problem with this movie is Rand's obsessive intent to show her point, she makes an insanely unlikely scenario come to place. The government liberals are so cartoony it's not even funny. The villains are so polarized as to not be believable. As the heroic industrialists begin to leave the evil government, in protest. There is a ton of scenes of people crying about the lack of talented and intelligent people to pull us out of this crisis, because everyone knows that people only create greatness when they are getting paid for it, just look at Linus Torvaldis, Jonas Salk, and Mahatma Ghandi, none of these guys would have toiled or sweat without massive bank being promised right? The other problem especially with Rands fans is that there is a divide in the book between the makers and the takers the government is always portrayed as takers, no better than common criminals with wealthy industrialists being seen as the heroic makers,job creators and overall improves to the human condition. What about bankers, and insurance agents and other middlemen, all absent from Rand's "epic vision" bankers don't make anything, they take your resources, redistribute them and TAKE a profit. Insurance people take your hard earned money on a. Promise they might give you some back if you get into a horrible accident. So why all the Ayn Rand love by the bankers and government types. This movie saga was not worth sitting through with it's long plodding discussions and near total lack of action or intrigue. In short, I give both films 1 star, and they can fight it out or learn to share it.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Five of my favorite under rated movies.

I think we all have a few movies that you know and love that aren't well know the ones that fall through the cracks. These aren't movies that I secretly like while others hate (O.K. I'll admit to really digging Speed Racer which got pretty poor reviews but that movie was well known and very well promoted. and people know about it, some even actively dislike it. These are films few seem to know about, but in my humble opinion are well worth seeing.


5- Bob Roberts-  If nothing else for Jack Black playing an ultra con fanboy of a republican senator a few years before he became well known, you should check out this mockumentary. Tim Robbins plays the Titular Bob Roberts who is an ultra conservative Rush Limbaugh type senator who uses folk music to convey his message the Mockumentary takes place during his senate bid. Probably a bad film if you are a Limbaugh fan, but otherwise some incredible performances and catchy (if evil tunes).


4- Comic Book The Movie- One of my favorite films starring Mark Hamill, yeah maybe even more than the obvious choice. Hamill directed and stared in this mockumentary (I seem to like those) as Don Swan a Wisconsin high school history teacher/comic fanboy, who is also making a documentary on the release of a film based on one of his favorite comic heroes Commander Courage. The Commander however has been given a post 9-11 reboot and is not Codename: Courage. Which don clearly has a lot of nerd rage about (see what I did there) lots of very cool inside jokes for comic fans and references.My favorite is seeing David Prowse, Jeremy Bulloch and Peter Mayhew at a table, and Hamill asks if he can take a seat Prowse (the body actor of Darth Vader) replys "no, move along son." classic.


3- Under the Rainbow- Speaking of Star Wars Alumni, this was a one of project of Carrie Fisher, that she did about the same time Ford was hip deep in snakes in Raiders of the lost ark, and set in the same time frame, but definitely not connected. Under the Rainbow is a comedy about the filming of the Wizard of Oz, and the near infinite troubles of wrangling about 100 or so little extras to play the munchkins, it also adds many bizarre twists such as a Nazi plot to transfer a file to their Japanese allies in the same hotel used by the munchkins forcing the Nazi spy (played by Billie Bartey) to hide amongst  the munchkins.


2- J-Men Forever- So far these all kinda fit together huh, this 1930's style film is the parody work of the Firesign Theatre (of "don't crush that dwarf, hand me the pliers" fame) as radio comedians they lend their voices and comedic talent to this re-voicing and re-editing of a collection of republic serials. the results are riotous. The scenes with the caped madman are well worth the price of admission alone. oh and this clip is the full movie, how cool is that?


1- Rock and Rule- The only Animated film on the list and technically the only foreign film, this Canadian post apocalyptic story is as close to a real rock musical as there has ever been or may ever be. It is not a musical that uses rock lyrics and tunes in a more hollywood musical way such as Rock of Ages, but uses real rock music from Lou Reed, Cheap Trick, and Blondie. the animation is in my mind superb, and the story is very cool the ending sequence of Angel and Omar coming together to sing the beast back is still in my mind a pretty iconic moment. I was also able to locate the full version of this on Youtube as seen above. This is the Canadian cut which has a different actor playing Omar (Paul LeMatt played him in the US version, but no major differences.


Friday, March 22, 2013

Can someone please explain this to me...

Why does hollywood screw up so many live action films so poorly and then turn good scripts into animated "throw away" direct to video releases? Take a look at a Few here for examples. When Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings were in production Wizards of the Coast scooped them both with the Dungeons and Dragons film, now with hundreds of D&D novels and well loved characters like Rastelin, or Elminster or Even Dritz (who I am not a fan of) what would the production staff choose to do? a full live action Dragons of Autumn Twilight (first Dragonlance novel) might have made tons of new fans for the venerable series of D&D books, What bout Live action Dritz? or at least set it in the Forgotten Realms and have a cameo by Elminster right? Nah! whole new world whole new story, screw thousands of fan favorite ideas that were already time tested for what? For this!
Total crap, cheezy story, dialogue Adam West wouldn't be caught dead saying and oh yeah nothing says most venerated fantasy game of all times like Marlon Wayans as comic relief. This movie was paper thin fantasy with almost no real connection to Dungeons and Dragons at all other than authorized by the license holders. And what about Margret Weis' and Tracey Hickman's seminal fantasy work that prettymuch launched D&D novels into the main stream, well they get this.

SERIOUSLY!?! A live action film of this could have been amazing and calling Dungeons and Dragons: Dragons of Autumn Twilight would have gotten just as many if not more into the theatre than offering Marlon Wayans as comic relief. In retrospect Lord of the rings spawned 3 more sequels in the Hobbit, and the D&D movie had 1 direct to TV movie on SYFY. maybe there is a lesson here. 


Same can be said of G.I. JOE- At the time that steaming turd of a movie was getting released Warren Ellis of R.E.D. and Transmetropolitan fame penned G.I. Joe Resolute an incredibly well done script that shows a more real and mature version of the 1980's cartoon. It was as good of a reboot story as Ron Moore's take on Galactica. So what happened, direct to video cartoon that bad boy, it starts with crap like Major Blood being found dead on the steps of the Lincoln memorial, and Cobra Commander Blowing up Moscow. It includes a serious and feasible plot, but retains the boyish action roots of the cartoon, so show it once on adult swim and bury it in the back bins of your local Wal-Mart because what we need in a G.I. Joe film is MORE MARLON WAYANS!!!
YEP Marlon Wayans is the perfect man to play ginger paratrooper ripcord, and while we are at it let's make the Baroness as American as we can get her, and a completely non ironic Team America attack on Paris moment, ignore any sense of lore the cartoon or comic made to make a film. People will go because it's a popcorn film tons of action and fun. right? and if this works we can apply the same logic to making a movie based on the game Battleship! 

Toys and Games aren't Immune Wonder Woman almost had the same issue but thankfully the new TV show did not get to see the air. but here is a shot of the costume they had chosen. 
YUP! Kinda looks like a slightly more modest bad halloween costume, she was also supposed to fight Elizabeth Hurley who was to play some evil makeup corperation owner. because you know chick superheroes can only fight chick supervillians and this unflappable logic worked with Sharon Stone in Catwoman so well. But to DC's credit an animated film with Nathan Fillion as Steve Trevor did come out and focus on what makes the character cool. It was like a blueprint for how to make a good live action film for a character so few people outside of comics really get. A live action film like this could be easily as good as Thor was for Marvel but alas, it's a one shot, forget about it find it on clearace in the big bins at Wal-Mart.  Here is a small clip. 




Thursday, March 21, 2013

So What is Nerd Rage?

I have tried to blog a few times before with limited results, (either I didn't stick with it, or it seemed to be going no where) but I am rather optimistic about this subject. So you may ask what is "nerd rage"? So here is just a quick sampling of what nerd rage means to me.

NERD RAGE IS


When the re-release of a game you love takes all of the games sacred cows to the abattoir

The killing of a comic icon to cheaply boost sales of the comic.

Reviving the comic icon because people cry about him being gone.

What you feel when think about what Fox did to Firefly.

When you have spent hundreds on buying and hours painting an army for warhammer only for the new edition to nerf the hell out of it. 


Finding out your favorite comic is going to become a movie, as little as you have seen in the preview makes you realize they have ruined it. But yet you pay $12.00 to see it in the theatre anyway


finding out that there is going to be a really cool action figure released, only at Comicon, ha ha loser, hope you don't have to pay too much when we gouge you for it on Ebay later.

Watching the kind of jackasses you went to school with who gave you no end of crap for being into comics now rave about the newest comic book movies "Dude totally loved the Avengers, I am so like Tony Stark!" 

Embodied in the character of River Song, Oh how I loathe her marysue Doctor Who ruining ass!


Is seeing how corporate America treats some of your favorite stories, such as using Green Lantern to hock Hot Wheels, or the Hobbit to push crappy food at Denny's

More on this later.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Why I am starting to go historical

I have been doing the miniatures wargaming hobby since Warhammer 40,000 rogue trader came out in the 1980s, I remember assembling my first squad of blood angels with the beaks and all. before the new Mark 7 armors became standard, and back when the eldar range was maybe 20 models tops. when players used Ambuls and Zoats, and plenty of Squats to fill out the ranks. but after playing so many miniatures gams from Warhammer, to Warmachine, to Starship Troopers, Malifaux, AT-43, Star Corps,  Hordes, Mercs, and more I am starting to find myself more and more drawn to Historical games There are about 5 major reasons I am seeing this shift most of which in my mind make a lot of sense.

5- No More "new GI Joe Factions"- A typical feature of popular miniatures games is to add new and exciting factions to the game. It's reminiscent of the old days of hearing about the NEW GI Joe set coming out often with new cool names like the dreadnoks, or Tigerforec or Battleforce 2000. These were marketed to inject more excitement and sell more toys as are the releases of new factions in most miniatures wargames. Why is it we are only now hearing about the machine god in warmachine, where were the Tau for 50,000 years of Warhammer 40k History and more importantly why did the Squats just disappear? This kind of scenario won't happen in a historical game, even if they have yet to release info for an army in a historical, everyone has a  ready source of how they should preform, and will not have to deal with a potentially rules breaking army designed to ship a few more units.

4- When Manufacturers Compete, you win!- The other way fantasy/sci-fi game makers get a large profit is that their games are based around their units. You like Warmachine, then be prepared to spend a lot of money with privateer press , as that is your only source for Cygnar trenchers or Khador widowmakers. This isn't true with Historicals, don't want to pay for official Flames of War Germans, use Wargames Factory germans, or any one of several makers of 1/144 tanks. Need a Land Raider for 40k, GW is your only source. You may get some discount but, this does set the price higher, don't believe me, I recently paid $40.00 for official Bolt Action imperial Japanese troops 20 men, in metal GW's space marines clock in at 37.25 for half that many in plastic. I can buy 2 panzers for the price of 1 landraider. and that is without bothering to comparison shop.  WGF 28 mm World War II are about $20 for 30 men even better and as long as they are the right type of troops and the right scale, no one will complain if yours aren't the official ones.

3- Scale choice over 1 way- Another important factor is scale, the whole of the normandy beach landing, or the battle of Minas Tirath aren't exactly going to fit on your average kitchen table in 28mm. This is where greater flexibility of scale can matter, even games which set a scale and have official minis lines in a specific size will give options to set your game at a different scale should you have say already amassed a large force in 15mm, but want to try these rules we wrote around 28mm. and games like DBA and Maurice use base sizes to determine ranges instead of simply using imperial or metric measurements. this makes it less likely you will need to have several armies of the same kind just to play out a more interesting rules set.

2- some units are just easier to paint- I have notices one major difference with most major military uniforms when I switched to historicals. They are designed for the most part to be functional versus designed for cool effects. less buckles, cloaks, straps and other dongles that are less necessary. this makes them easier to paint as well there are exceptions to this rule (Napoleonics for example!) but many  forces at least keep a consistant scheme or 2 compare with many fantasy army , my Khador aremy from Warmachine for example has jacks man-o-wars and caster painted one way, widowmakers another style and doombringers a completly different style. My japanese guys are a simple brown with darker brown belts and flesh/ gun painting being the biggest diversion. How easy is that?

1- the need to make better rules- I have probably harped on this enough in this post but the core point in a fantasy minis game is to sell the accompanying line of minis. Case in point I recall going to a game store and the store employee was pitching AT-43 to me. His two biggest selling points were, the have a faction that is comprised of monkeys with guns, and they have very gorgeous pre painted minis. He had NO idea how it played but damn cool minis and the promise of monkeys with guns should be enough to sell an $80.00 starter game on.  And  what about my foray into Napoleonics with Maurice, the selling points were the cards which were a mechanic to change the tide of battle in a way very reminiscent of Steve Jackson "screw your neighbor games" I read the demo rules and was hooked. there is no official Maurice line of figs and definitely no monkeys with guns planed for later expansion. In short the book in these cases is the main if only real product and the only way to sell it is to make it worth playing.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

O.K. this is too cool not to show off!

aw yeah! more dispicable me!

Five Ways Hollywood drops the ball when it comes to comic based movies

Don't get me wrong there have been some successes, such as the Avengers, the Dark Knight trilogy or even the New Dredd, or Sin City. But for every one of these kind of films that makes you go "Woah, they totally got it right!" there is a Green Lantern, or a Fantastic Four of a Stalone's Judge Dredd to show you how wrong it can go. I blame Hollywood for this, due to a desire to move product rather than treat the source with reverence. Sure movies made from books drop or forget things like Harry Potter ignoring Peeves the poltergeist, and the Hunger Games coming up with a different reason she had the mockingjay pin. but these aren't as big of deal breakers as Making Lawmasters into Flying motorcycles in Judge Dredd, or making Latverian Ruler Doctor Doom into a New Englander. Hollywood often opts for less forgivable transgressions, due in no small part to assuming fans won't care, or that since fans are a smaller (albeit vocal) group, joe six pack will be the real source of money from this picture so no big right? Well wrong, these comics garner such large fanbases because of what they are not the other way round. so if you are listening Hollywood, here is the 5 biggest screw ups normally made and hopefully you can use this as a road map to avoid them in the future (but I don't hold out a ton of hope.)

5- Celebrity Versus Actor- The job title here says it all. Actor. Not celebrity, so why must we rewrite characters to fit their celebrity persona. a good example of this is with Joel Schumacher's horrible Batman films, The Riddler is an intellectual villain who's pathological need to leave clues in the form of riddles could make for a very interesting foe. But hey, we got JIM CARREY, Straight off playing the Mask, Let's make Edward Nigma into a manic comic villain who suits the well known comedy stylings of a multi-million dollar comedy talent. Everyone loved Ace Ventura and Dumb and Dumber, and that's what they expect from Jim Carrey, so instead of a dark serious villain we get a rehashed Jim Carrey routine. Same with casting lovable rogue George Clooney for Batman, gone was the gritty tortured soul of a man who turns his loss of parents into a crusade against crime, and in it's place we get George Clooney, not acting but simply being George Clooney in a benippled batsuit with quips like "This is why Superman works alone." Why was Nolan's Batman a success, ACTING!, look at Cillian Murphy now tagged in Hollywood as a perfect man to play a sociopath, but look at him in the movie he did before Batman Begins, it was called Breakfast on Pluto, and Murphy played about the polar opposite of the Scarecrow in every way, and Liam Niessen played his estranged father, yet on the Batman set you would see none of the tenderness, none of the parental bond, they share in Breakfast on Pluto, instead you get very good straight evil performances that have since cemented Murphy in his celebrity role as a sociopath. 

4- Read the Goddamn book!- Sometimes, yes changes have to be made and believe it or not fans get that. I never heard anyone pitch a fit about the fact that Iron Man's origin now takes place in the middle east instead of China, no Balking at Bryan Singer's X-Men movies at the omission of core X-men and adding Wolverine,Storm and Rogue as X-men before they would have been X-men chronologically. Still often times Hollywood finds a need to change it up. Take the film Kick Ass, where 1 single line of dialogue changed the focus, Dave in the comic attributes his origin to a uinque mix of depression and isolation, in the movie Optimism and Obliviousness, see why that might change things. then we have to turn hit girl into a far more sexualized character (really she's like 12, she never had the need to wear a catholic school girl outfit in the book, why put it in the film even going as far to have Dave's friend remark about her being "hot") Further more Big Daddy was simply Crazy in the book, the story of him being this great cop, and being betrayed was a BS story he told his daughter, he was an accountant he chose to attack Demico, because he needed a villain. Instead Hollywood figures audiences can believe the crazy BS story of him being king of cops, over he's just plain nuts. These changes weren't there because we needed to cut time, (hell quite a bit was added to the film as well). So this isn't the X-men trying to cram 40+years of comics into 2 hours or Iron Man's Communist China simply isn't the big threat it once was. Nope this is just change to make a "better" movie. or because they believe the average movie goer isn't smart enough to get concepts like "he's crazy" 

3- Pointless Name Checking- This one is a stick wicket, when done right it can be effective to imply things from the greater universe of the comic, such as subtly giving an extra a well known minor character's name. Case in point professor Xavier saying "goodbye Kitty" as a young girl scoops up her books and phases through the wall, we get it, SHE'S KITTY PRIDE!!! but as many times this effect can add insult to injury Green Lantern turned space cop Hal Jordan into a caricature of Ryan Reynold's most popular roles and ignored the point of the character (effectively falling into the two traps we just talked about) but we DO get a treat of using Hector Hammond as the villain, as well as seeing some of the extended Jordan family including his brother Jim. What this says is "see we can make obtuse references to the source, thus we MUST know what we are doing." In reality the ability to cut and paste from a wikipedia article does not make one an expert and often times these names can be used improperly Hammond was nothing like the character in the film (other than the oversized head, kind of) but using this name as the villain sure seems like we know what we are talking about more than say using Sinestro, as he his Jordan's most known foe.  In short worry about the big things before you try to BS fans with the little things.

2- Retrograde Modification- Of course even if you do screw something up why not fix it on the back end. This is a relatively new thing but just as annoying. If fans balk at a change simply put it in the book, then it's cannon right? No then you've just screwed up the book on top of screwing up the movie.  Judge Dredd was guilty of this when DC got the US rights and issued a new comic that Mirrored the Stalone film, result? No one liked the US Judge Dredd Comic either! and We see this a lot in Green Lantern the "New 52" initiative at DC turned Hal into a warmed over Ryan Reynolds clone, and took Amanda Waller, a woman who was the female equivalent of Nick Fury for DC who had all the sexual appeal of Nell Carter and since she was played by Angela Basset in the film turned her into a smoking hot Female Nick Fury complete with jumping into the field. My reaction? I quit all DC books after the new 52, shame Green Lantern was one of my all time faves. 

1- Assuming your audience- I once had a film professor tell me that fanboys are just so overcome with joy that a movie is being made about their favorite hero that they won't care if it's wrong. This is flat out wrong. In fact it is the single dumbest thing I have ever heard about fandom. Fans if anything will be very critical, This doesn't mean we won't forgive some things. Everyone can get basic concepts like Venom's origin cannot be told accurately in the course of a movie as we would have to explain secret wars and Spidey's new suit all of which makes the continuity work to put the Avengers on film look like child's play. But tricks and making things for "joe sixpack" instead of for the fans only assumes we must write the lowest common denominator, and that the comic wasn't a fan favorite for anything but a few esthetics that we can easily clone. Fans are smarter than that, hell non fans are smarter than that. If the medium worked the first step is to look at what made it work and treat those parts like sacred cows, don't change huge swaths of it because you think you can sell more toys or excite non fans with a cameo, if it worked then fans will flock because it was right, and non fans will get turned on to it because it was popular for a reason! 



Larry Niven is full of crap



In 1971, Hugo winning science fiction author Larry Niven published an essay called Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex. (which can be found here- )  It postulated that Superman (fictional though he may be) is on the fast track to extinction. Now I’ll grant you though this is a work of not just fiction, but outright parody. After reading it for the first time, I realized that his work was interesting, geeky, and flat out wrong!  Niven made errors in his quest to help get the man of steel laid. And I felt that it was my duty (O.K. Fine my flat out ego, and dorkish attention to useless trivia) that compels me to show why Superman is not doomed to be a virgin and has a decent chance of having sex and potentially offspring. He has as good of a chance as those who read, and collect his books anyway.

A couple of notes before we start the first is that being that his essay is over 40 years old and the world superman inhabits has had about 40+ years to plug up the holes in and explain away many of Larry Niven’s arguments it wouldn’t be much of a challenge to simply point to things that happened with in the last say 10 years of comics that may contradict this work and then pat myself on the back for disproving a famed science fiction author after most of the heavy lifting was done by writers and artists who were well aware of his work and could easily reverse engineer solutions to the problems plaguing the man of steel that the essay brought up. Instead everything I am bringing up is something that could have countered his arguments as they have happened before his essay was published not after DC say corn-holed the universe to reboot it in the 1980s, or again in the 1990s, etc.  What’s more Larry Niven spends a decent chunk of time talking about the use of Red kryptonite to enlarge the man of steel’s sperm, which is the first myth I want to bust. Red Kryptonite does not simply make things large, it’s effects on kryptonian physiology are chaotic and almost never the same twice. Red Krypotnite may indeed make superman larger but it could make him smaller, make him a woman, a chimpanzee or even a republican, we simply do not know. I feel it is important to bring this up as since Niven is trying to use science in his hypothesis this seems like shoddy or even dangerous piece of reasoning. It would be akin to suggesting that workers in fast food would be more efficient if we dosed them with LSD. Sure it may make them more efficient, but it is far more likely to cause psychosis, and be a serious detriment on productivity than to help especially an unwary patient. Now without further adieu here are the 5 ways that the man of steel can still procreate despite what an award-winning author says about the situation.

5- Superman’s extended family - Now to his credit Larry Niven did indeed mention that Superman did have a female and teenage cousin, Supergirl. And while he stated that only a “cad” would suggest that Superman copulate with his first cousin. We must also keep in mind that if the plight of the Kryptonian species is as dire as Niven suggests, this could be their only option. As alien refugees, living on a strange world, why would they let their species die due to human Christian sensibilities,this would be like finding out that the a member of the Donner party was carrying a consignment of chocolate eggs but degraded to cannibalism because it wasn’t Easter and eating Easter candy before would just be wrong.  Of course she isn’t really his only option. With the multitude of alternate Earths there are multiple variant Kryptonians that might be a bit more acceptable to our conservative human sensibilities. Including alternate dimensions in which Krypton survived.

4-The phantom zone- As I said in the last section, Supergirl isn’t actually his only option, nor is she the only Kryptonian with compatible private parts, nor are Clark Kent and his teenage cousin the only Kryptonians who survived the explosion of their world. The Phantom Zone is an alternate dimension which works as a sort of Riker’s Island for the law abiding citizens of Krypton, People in the zone are ageless ghosts who are not able to interact with our physical world. It also turned out to be a perfect way to escape the destruction of his planet. Perhaps the scientific Genius who built a rocket to send his only born safely to our planet should have suggested using the zone as a safety measure to protect law-abiding kryptonians and put the criminals in, you know an actual physical jail. After all isn’t jail supposed to be at least a little bit bad for you? And since there are females and males in this state we have additional DNA and give us an additional populace to work with granted breeding criminals still doesn’t sound all that enticing, but keep in mind that many progeny of criminals need not necessarily make them criminals. Take Australia for an example, a colony formed by the British depositing their criminals on a distant island an entire hemisphere away. Today Australia has a violent crime rate lower than the United States and Canada.  Not to mention as an alien culture some of these criminals may not even be criminals by our standards, refusal to acknowledge Rao, the science god as the supreme force in the universe for example may be a kryptonian act of high treason, for us it’s no worse than being an atheist.
So how do we turn these criminals into baby makers, it is simple, an underground complex with lighting to simulate krypton’s Red sun will prevent someone leaving the phantom zone from developing the bulletproof, flying awesome powers of a Superman, making them no more dangerous than human prisoners. A few conjugal visits later we have a genetically diverse next generation of Kryptonians that we can mold into a race of flying boy/girl scouts.

3- The Bottled City of Kandor- So the main concern that Niven points out is the lack of female kryptonians, however there is an entire city of them that was saved from the rest of the planet's fate. As 1 kryptonian male and female, may make it hard to repopulate a population of both genders the size of say twice that of Chicago  is a much less endangered species. The only real challenge is that the city was shrunken to a tiny size and bottles in action comic #242 (1958). There are 6 million kryptonians of both genders, sure they are only a couple of millimeters high, but and encased in glass and life support, but this also may be favorable to a city of 6,000,000 superbeings imposing their wills on humanity. And while they may not have been returned to normal size, and freed (by the time of Niven's writings) Superman had shrunken himself down and visited the tiny city on many occasions. in all of that time, it is hard to believe that the man who saved their city could get a little micro booty call. Hell for all we know Kal-el is a deadbeat dad to hundreds of mini Kandorian kids, thus meaning that we have solved both problems, Kal's desire to get laid and the population of Krypton is assured.

2-the rest of the galaxy- Beyond Kandor and beyond Mr. Niven's human ideal for a sexual partner for Kal-el, a certain lady initialed L.L. Niven assumes that the man of steel must choose a mate from the one planet he was raised on. As someone with access to flight and FTL travel, as he has visited other planets in the comics this seems like insisting that you only get to date and mate with the people you went to high school with. As a space faring race, Krypton may have colonies, not to mention species more in line with the man of steel's DNA. Take the Daxamites, of which Superboy had originally met Mon-el in 1961, (again before Niven's paper) who are genetic descendants of Kryptonians, thus and excellent choice to breed with. That is just one species in the 3300 sectors of space that the Green Lanterns patrol, any one could indeed have females capable of mating with a Kryptonian.

1-the Expanded Universe- This is the big one, the one that reoccurs as a massive plot hole in so many comic based movies set in a shared universe. In short Superman, or indeed Kryptonians are not the only defenders of the Earth. Yet in film after film we forget that there is an expanded universe. In the film Superman Returns Lois wrote an article called whey we do not need a Superman, while it was meant to talk up the idea of humans being independent enough to not rely on a flying godlike being, in the actual DC universe it probably would have read like, “Well for starters even without Superman, we still have Captain Marvel, Martian Manhunter, Wonder Woman, and not one, not two but FOUR Green Lanterns patrolling a Single planet while most sectors of space only have 1 per sector. If anything we here on Earth are too heroed up!” So let’s look at this option, While Ms Lane’s uterus may not be able to stand up to the shotgun like spray of Kryptonian semen, there are quite a few females in the DC universe who can. Take the obvious choice of Wonder Woman. Amazons are far stronger than their mortal kin, and Diana Princess of Themiscrya in many ways a physical equal to the man of steel, It is also important to point out that her powers come from a magical source, being she was originally a clay form crafted by queen Hypolita and given life by the Olympian gods. Kryptonians have a vulnerability to magic and have no resistance to it. That coupled with Diana’s far superior physical form means that unlike the mortal Ms Lane, Diana’s lady parts to quote Betty White can “really take a pounding.” Now granted as Mr Niven pointed out there may still be hormonal and pheromone factors that would stop an alien being from being attracted to a human woman, yet with the similarity in physiology will make up for some of that, if you don’t believe me just look at the furry community, or any fan of Star Trek who would spank it to the green orion slave girls. Now I grant you the chromosomal issues would be the biggest hurdle making options 3-5 probably the most viable if not least easy to assure the continuation of the Kryptonian species, as well as relieving the sexual tensions of a man who can change the course of mighty rivers, and bend steel with his hands, after all he is the last person we would want to have pent up tensions.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Mediocre Movie Monday: Transformers: Dark of the moon!


So why wait until now to review this one? Simple now that it's on netflix I can feel better about seeing it than I did after paying to see the first one in the theatre and the second one as a rental. That beings said I have to admit that it was the best film of the three. Of course the shiniest turd is still a turd. The dark of the moon places a decent amount of energy into a government cover up of the autobot's ark found on the dark side of the moon, and this part was find of interesting. The main issues with the film is it is a  far from stand alone affair, much like praising Revenge of the Sith as the best of the new Star Wars trilogy, you still need the other two as they are referenced constantly. This is even more true of Dark of the Moon. The Autobots still working for the NEST, and Shia Lebouf now complaining about entering the job market without being able to put planetary savior on his resume. Of course Megan Fox wasn't missed, as she was replaced with a blonde British girl replacing her as the token eye candy role. 

Leonard Nimoy made his second appearance voicing a cybertronian, (the first was Galvatron in the animated Transformer movie) as Vector Prime Nimoy added some gravitas to the plot and plays an interesting take on the judas type. Also Patrick Dempsy made a decent villain with an uniquely deep concept. It's not shaespeare but for a movie that was based on a toyline and that got maybe 15% of the lore from the cartoon correct, it wasn't bad. 
regardless I still hate the way they butchered Bumblebee it's a perfect example of what was wrong with Bay's "vision". Bumblebee was a VW beetle, because he was meant to be a link between humans and autobots. He carried no guns, and had was quite talkative. Instead we get a muscle car who talks by suing the radio, I know Volswagon apparently have taken issue with thier car being used to hock "war toys" but he could have just as easily been a Mini Cooper, PT Cruiser or a Fiat. but no, let's make him a mustang! That makes sense! And he can pee on John Totouro! I mean how hard would it be to make a good movie, the cartoon did a better job with a shoestring budget than bay did with Spielburg backing him and an unlimited amount of 'Splosions!  O.K. Rant over.

I give this move one and a half star for it's watchability which is 5 stars more than I would give either of the previous films. 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Top Ten: British Comedies

When I was younger I used to live in the UK, more precisely Aberdeen, Scotland. I guess this is what really sparked my love affair with British TV.I've been a big Doctor Who fan since the early 1980s, and was enthralled by Blake's 7, and even got into some more obscure shows like Educating Marmalade, and such. But Britain has a ton of great comedies, so many classics that American audiences may have given a few of these a miss.  So I Decided I should make a list of my absolute favorites, my cream of the crop of British comedy.

10- Little Britian
This sketch comedy show is a great start to this list. Two guys, dozens of reoccuring characters, and tons of off color jokes make this show a riot to watch. It does have a few "miss" sketches but it has twice as much unforgettable lines. Uhm Yeah, but no, but yeah, but SHUT UP! 

9- the Young ones
A sitcom about 4 university students in a university housing, this show was a breeding ground for tallent. many of the guys on this show went on to a lot of things. This show is bizarre, surreal, and pretty damn funny. Also pointless piece of trivia, Rick Mayall, who played the much loathed sociology student of the same name was cast as peeves the poltergeist in Harry Potter, but his scenes lay on the cutting room floor, he was also a pitchman for Nintendo in the UK. 

8-  Father Ted

A show about a small group of Catholic priests, on a small island in Ireland, sounds like the kind of show your grandmother would love right? well it's a bit more subversive than that. these priests are stuck on the island due to their own fantastic shortcomings Ted is a pathological schemer, who may or may not have embezzled money from the church (It was just resting in his account, Honest!) Father Jack Hacket is an alcoholic, and pervert, and a clear fire and brimstone priest with no sense of reality, and speaking of no sense of reality leads us to Father Dougal, who is well, I guess special is the nicest word.  Though it is in the guise of religious humor, it is far more subversive than that and is just a ton of fun. 

7- Peep Show
It's a fresh take on a classic sit com trope, the roomies who are in effect the Odd Couple, one might even assume they had ripped off the Neil Simon play and t.v. show. But it is far more brilliant than that instead of just doing a modern nerdy anal guy living with a free spirited slob, might work but add internal monologues and P.O.V. shots to show what is going on in their heads makes this show 100 times better. I think the repressed grins and peek into the character's psyches make the show both more subtle and far more riotous!

6- the I.T. Crowd
From the guys who brought us Father Ted, comes a show about the I.T. department in a local corporation. As someone who works in tech myself I have been there brothers and sisters. an excellent show with lots of computer/geek references, and the Dungeons and Dragons Episode (Season 4 episode 1) is enough to make this hit the list. 

5-That Mitchell Webb Look

A Sketch comedy show from the guys from Peep Show, this is more about exploring their comic experiences, with some very cool characters such as Sir Digby Chicken Caesar, or the Helivets. Some incredible sketches and just damn fine bits above is the World War 2 sketch one of my all time favorites. well that and Sir Digby, cheezoid, Numberwang, etc.

4- The Goodies


A Show that can boast a man dying from laughter, the goodies stars 3 comedians who worked with many of the same people who would go on to be Monty Python. This long running sit com has all the wackiness of python, in a more structured, and family friendly environment. I am really surprised that this one isn't seen more often here in the states. Hell we have BBC America for a reason, but instead they show us X-files, and Star Trek TNG re-runs. The premise is 3 men who run a business doing anything any time. It is a classic of comedy in every sense of the word. above is the scene that supposedly killed a man via laughter, watch at your own peril. 

3- Black Adder
Rowan Atkinson, is best known world wide as Mr. Bean the slapstick chaplinesque character who fumbles his way through life but Atkinson really shines in his role as the sarcastic, vile and devious Edmond Blackadder a historical comedy that also stars Hugh Laurie (T.V.'s House) as a braying moron. It always makes me laugh when someone compares themselves to Dr. House, because this is what I see every time I see him. A true classic comedy I cannot recommend this one enough. 

2- Red Dwarf
It is quite probably the best science fiction comedy made (aside from Futurama) Red Dwarf is the story of the survivors of a ship lost 3,000,000 years from earth. and just as Star trek will take some new scientific theory and look to build a dramatic episode around it, Red Dwarf takes the comedic route from future echoes, to Backwards so many classic humor based on scientific theories. add the chemistry of the cast and riffs on so many sci fi tropes Dwarf is a great sci fi and a great comedy, well worth the number two position. 

1- Monty Python's flying Circus:
Is there doubt that this one takes the number 1 spot, they are the Beatles of comedy man. An incredible cast of comedians and writers. surreal sketches that defined comedy for so many. from the Gumbys to Spam, to the Lumberjack song so many classics, that stand the test of time. what else is there to say man? 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Fun with Futurama

Still one of my all time favorite shows, Fox had their heads up their collective asses when they let this one go.

VERY COOL, Lego New New York!