Reality is the playground of the unimaginative
Home Of Superheroes, Supernatural, and Star Stuff

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

DVD Of The Week: The Raven (2012)


Ben Livingston and Hannah Shakespeare's script for The Raven takes the mystery surrounding the last days of the life of author Edgar Allan Poe and spins it into a gothic murder tale.

A madman is committing a string of murders in mid-19th Century Baltimore using the stories of Edgar Allan Poe (Jon Cusack) as his blueprint. At first, Poe is a suspect, but when his beloved Emily Hamilton (Alice Eve) is kidnapped by the killer, Poe becomes a consultant for eager, young detective Fields (Luke Evans).

Poe is drawn into a deadly game of cat-and-mouse as the killer challenges the author to document their mental duel through the newspaper as he leads the police down a trail of breadcrumbs towards the location of the missing woman.

It's a fascinating, convoluted tale and Cusack shines as the depressed, alcoholic rapscallion and romantic, but ultimately he is more interesting when Edgar is just being Edgar rather than his later manifestation as an "action hero".

The story does a great job of obfuscating the identity of the killer, but never explains the "how" of his elaborate - and presumably costly - murders. His Saw-like "Pit And The Pendulum" killing, for instance, clearly wasn't something just thrown together on a whim, but the film never even touches on how the killer purchased the necessary equipment and assembled it all without attracting any attention.

It's probably worth noting that The Raven is by no means a horror movie, despite some moments of moderate gore, but rather a procedural, detective piece with Poe and Fields putting the clues together and tracking down their quarry before he kills Miss Hamilton.

As with many period-pieces these days, The Raven's atmosphere ultimately triumphs over the story (why introduce Poe's pet mongoose, for instance, only for it to have nothing to do with the story and be just as quickly forgotten about?), but the plot - if a tad far-fetched and anachronistic - still makes for an entertaining hour-and-three-quarters.

Bond's Back... From The Dead!

Boardwalk Empire - Season Three Teaser Trailer...

Big spoilers if you haven't seen the second season...



... but otherwise doesn't give much away!

Monday, 30 July 2012

Communication Is Key...


One of my (many) weaknesses as a gamesmaster and as "unofficial chairman" of The Tuesday Knights is that whenever I've sat down to run a game it has always been presented to the players as a fait accompli - without any form of discussion.

This has possibly contributed to the self-destructive nature of my most recent attempts at running a campaign, the combination of my own "oooh, shiny" syndrome and the lack of "buy-in" or investment from the players.


Therefore I have finally taken the obvious (and belated) step of sounding out the group - via email - on their favourite genres to play.

And "fantasy" is storming ahead (much to my relief as that was the genre I was leaning towards anyway).

Today I have even come up with a basic set-up for the campaign - that not only encourages player investment in the campaign but discourages me from "over-creating" the world ahead of the game's commencement (which will be either the end of this year or the start of 2013, depending on how things go with Pete's Top Secret SI campaign).

It's a simple scenario: a tent-city has sprung up at the foot of a mountain where an ancient "honeyhole" (dungeon) has been discovered and the players have arrived at the city to seek their fortune.

In a Wild West-inspired style, the growing rough-and-tumble city caters for adventurers' needs (from spelunking equipment to ale houses and brothels), but is also a place to sell unearthed treasures, recruit helpers etc

I'm not going to detail the wider world, except for a few dropped names, maybe, and will otherwise allow the players to create their home towns, chosen deities etc

Then we'll build things from there...

Well, that's the plan anyway!

Map-A-Monday: The Shire

The Shire by Daniel Reeve

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Rain Certainly Doesn't Stop Play!

Rachel - sporting her Victory Rolls
Rachel's friend Gaynor organised another fantastic Vintage Weekend at The Pantiles in Tunbridge Wells and we turned up today - ignoring the rain and (brief) thunderstorm!

In true Dunkirk spirit, everyone soldiered on and once the rain clouds had passed The Pantiles warmed up and people could come out of their shelters to join in the fun.

Thankfully the rain didn't hang around for long!
Rachel had her hair done in Victory Rolls at a pop-up boutique, then we toured the plentiful stalls (Rachel got some lovely lace gloves but still no joy on tracking down a bowler that'll fit my ginormous head!), before we enjoyed the music and dancing.

The Swinging Little Big Band in full flow
Musically a great new discovery for us was The Swinging Little Big Band. Unfortunately we missed most of their set as we off having lunch, but they're local so I'm sure we'll catch them again now we know who to look out for.

We were both particularly impressed by their upbeat rendition of Radiohead's Creep as their encore.

Miss Chantilly Lace
The highlight of the day (for me) though was the all-too brief performance by burlesque dancer Miss Chantilly Lace, who heroically braved the English weather for her fan dance on the Pantiles' bandstand.

Entering and exiting the stage to the Benny Hill theme tune (as also, oddly, heard during the Olympic beach volleyball yesterday!), her act was both funny and saucy - without being too raunchy for the number of small children in the audience.

Gaynor told us afterwards that Miss Chantilly Lace hosts a regular burlesque evening over at The Forum (the town's leading music venue - which I haven't been to for almost a decade now) and so a 'group outing' is now on the cards.



(video from Miss Chantilly Lace's YouTube Channel of today's performance at The Pantiles)

Gandalf Appreciation Day!

Gandalf And Beorn - tweeted by Sir Ian McKellen himself

Holy Chinese Takeaway, Batman!

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Why We Game...



A fantastic Blade Runner-riff by James Desborough of Postmortem Studios, poetically summing up the magic of roleplaying games.

If this makes you want to create a world and gather a group of friends round a table to sling some dice then you're my kinda people!

The Olympics Begins...



Apologies if this clip of the finest sequence from the Olympics opening ceremony is region blocked, but - if nothing else - it cemented my faith in Daniel Craig as the second finest James Bond (after Sean Connery, of course).

And maybe, just maybe, showed that The Queen has a sense of humour...

The games have begun in earnest today and already I'm spoiled for choice. As well as "my" sports (fencing, table tennis and, to a lesser degree, archery) there's the cycling, swimming and basketball on at the moment. I also discovered what "handball" was this morning and can see myself watching more of that.

Don't be surprised if posting slack off for the next few weeks if I can can maintain this Olympic enthusiasm...

Spider-Man: Eclipse...

Friday, 27 July 2012

So, The Olympics...


Channel 4 Paralympic Games - Meet The Superhuman from BasketUSA on Vimeo.

And lest we think it's all about these amazing superhumans, let's not forget our bumbling politicians like to get in on the action as well ...

Fleamarket Friday: Every Good Warehouse Agent Needs One...


The Tesla gun used in hit SyFy show Warehouse 13 is a thing of beauty... and can be yours for a mere $1,195!

Quantum Mechanix makes the Teslas used on the show (which has just begun its fourth season in the States) and this is the same hero prop, down to the last copper coil.

For more information, pictures etc visit the QMx website.

If any readers want to buy me one of these hand-crafted, limited edition babies I certainly won't say no!

Gary Gygax Day!


Sling some dice to mark the anniversary of Gary's birth.

Review Round-Up: I, Partridge; Batman - Earth One; Legion Of The Damned

I, Partridge - A simple litmus test will decide whether you will like this book or not - how you feel about Steve Coogan's finest comedy creation: Alan Partridge.

Written entirely in character - with all that that suggests - this accidentally hilarious autobiography charts Alan's career up to his current "televised radio show" Mid Morning Matters (on Sky Atlantic HD at present).

As fans will already be aware, Patridge is not an easy person to like and the writing team of Coogan, Armando Iannucci, Rob Gibbons and Neil Gibbons, have captured his obnoxious, oblivious personality perfectly.

A knowledge of Coogan's Partridge TV appearances is certainly an advantage as the book presents Alan's version of events - which is, more often than not, a rather twisted take on what really happened.

Highly entertaining, the book is full of clever touches, from Alan's frequent misuse of the English language through to his refusal to mention his long-suffering assistant by name.

As well as some hilarious footnotes, the book even has a soundtrack - which can be sampled through a great free App (on iTunes), which includes excerpts of the book being read by Alan, as well as some of his post-it notes compiled while writing the book.

However, if you're not a fan of Partridge - or don't know who he is - then this probably isn't the best place to start!

Batman - Earth One: An interesting new twist on the origin story of Batman, totally divorced from the standard DC Universe and continuity.

Told by the blockbuster team of writer Geoff Johns and artist Gary Frank, this posits a version of Batman somewhere between Frank Millar's Kick-Ass and the Batman of the Christopher Nolan films.

The story strives to put a "realistic" spin on the well-known origin story, devoid of costumed freaks and low-key superpowers.

At first I was unsure about this flawed Batman, but as the story progressed and he became more entwined in the lives of other characters - particularly broken police officer Jim Gordon and fame-seeking Harvey Bullock (certainly the most original, complex and striking 're-invention' in the story).

Although Frank has a habit of drawing slightly gormless faces on occasion, I'd still love to see him working on one of the regular Batman titles as he's a class act.

And if Johns didn't already have such a crowded dance card I wouldn't object to him writing one of the main Bat titles either. He certainly has some intriguing ideas about the character and even if he can't squeeze in a regular title I hope this original graphic novel spawns a sequel sometime soon.

Legion Of The Damned: The '70s was a great time for politically-incorrect, violent pulp fiction and my school friends and I lapped it up.

Don Pendelton's Mack Bolan aka The Executioner and his war on the Mafioso, organised criminals and cartels of America (which Marvel Comics ripped off wholesale in the form of The Punisher) was our drug of choice, but I was well aware - from the racks and shelves of bookshops everywhere - of the name Sven Hassel.

It was just at the time I wasn't that interested in the Second World War and so I only picked up Sven's first novel recently.

I won't be picking up anymore.

I managed to get (almost) to the end of the first chapter before my brain went into meltdown.

Not from any particularly horrific imagery - but from the simple fact that the text appeared to have been translated from the original Danish using Google Translate. The narrative ran from horribly stilted to totally nonsensical in the few pages I struggled through.

A seemingly self-important stream of conscienceless monologue, it could easily have been a William Burrough's "cut-up" experiment except it lacked the great man's turn of phrase.

Maybe it gets better later on, but given that none of the reviews I read online drew attention to Hassel's incomprehensible style I can only presume that this is what his "fans" like. And I can't see myself ever being counted among this numbers.

Fleamarket Friday: Three Down, Four To Go!


With the third episode of the Doctor Who audio spin-off Minister Of Chance now available for download, the creators are starting their drive to bring the fourth episode to life.

They are hoping to raise $10,000 by August 31. Investment incentives currently include signed scripts, posters and T-shirts and even having a character named after you (or a loved one).

The cast boasts such luminaries as Paul McGann, Jenny Agutter, Julian Wadham and Sylvester McCoy and the story follows on from the 2001 BBC webcast Death Comes To Time, where The Minister of Chance was introduced.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

The Future Of Superhero Movies...


This is what we know, going forward, of major upcoming comic book movies - with tentative cinema dates for those of you who can still afford to go to the cinema, while the rest of us await the cheaper option of investing in the DVD or Blu-Ray several months later.
  • Iron Man 3 - April 26, 2013
  • Man Of Steel - June 14, 2013
  • The Wolverine - July 26, 2013
  • Thor: The Dark World - November 8, 2013
  • Captain America: The Winter Solider - April 4, 2014
  • Amazing Spider-Man 2 - May 2, 2014
  • X-Men First Class 2 - July 17, 2014
  • Guardians Of The Galaxy - August 1, 2014
  • Ant-Man - tbc, 2014
  • The Avengers 2 - tbc
  • Kick-Ass 2 - tbc
If anyone can think of any I've missed, let me know and I'll add them to the list, but I'm pretty sure this is it for the moment.

A heavy bias towards Marvel, but they're on a roll at the moment. Long may it last!

I do wish we didn't have to wait so long between each film though... but that's where monthly comics will always win out!

The Bushes Scream While My Daddy Prunes...



The Bushes Scream While My Daddy Prunes, the title track from the mind-blowingly incredible 1984 album from The Very Things. I saw them first on '80s "yoff" music show The Tube and they instantly became one of my favourite bands.

Back in '07, I mentioned briefly my musical dabblings with the far more talented (in that they actually had musical talent) Green brothers. The Very Things were a major influence on my style as lyricist/vocalist.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Dealing With A Stingy DM!


The Dungeon Bastard explains how to deal with a stingy Dungeon Master.

The HeroPress "Fundraiser" Continues...


The great HeroPress fire sale continues with more geeky goodness being listed on eBay. Please take a look if you have a moment.

Among the treasures up for offer are a load of rare Mercenaries, Spies & Private Eyes material in great condition, some Tunnels & Trolls stuff, some Deadlands, a load of Doctor Who reference books and novellas and other odds and ends... if you are in the UK please check it out!

As I said last month, this is now an ongoing event for the foreseeable future, with more items still to be listed.

These auctions serve the dual purpose of helping to clear space in my gamesroom and, more crucially, bring in much-needed funds.

Man Of Steel - Teaser Trailer...



So, here it is, the Man Of Steel teaser trailer...

Why is it so dark and miserable? This is Superman after all! Hope this isn't a sign of things to come and Zack Snyder hasn't gone on all "Dark Knight" with the Man Of Tomorrow?

Gritty and brooding just doesn't work with Superman - that's not what the character is about. He's a symbol of optimism.

Wonder Woman Wednesday...

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Isn't It About Time YOU Hit The Jackpot, Tiger?



Stan Lee responds to the heated debate about Peter Parker's true love (Gwen or MJ?)

Sinbad? So Bad!


Anyone else watching Sky One's Sinbad on Sunday evenings? No, I didn't think so. It's one of those shows that I really want to like (it's Sinbad, after all!) but it's so vanilla and devoid of charm that you wonder if it was created by committee or a computer program.

After three weeks of uninspired stories (with the latest plunging off in to Xena-like anarchronisms - but not in a good way) I've given up. I can't say if it's the bland storylines or Sinbad's politically correct (one from column A, one from column B, one from Column C) crew (this may actually be period accurate, I don't know much about the make-up of Middle Eastern sailing crews), but it simply doesn't grab me like a Sinbad story should.

I also don't think the artificial curse that Sinbad has been put under (that he can only spend a day on land before he is choked to death by his magical necklace) really adds anything to the story. This gimmick has already grown old after a couple of episodes of seeing poor Elliot Knight (Sinbad) gurn as he just manages to slip back on board his ship at the last possible moment.

The scenery is stunning, from the wide blue seascapes and sprawling ancient cities to the computer-generated ruins, and even the occasional monster certainly spices things up. However the show meanders under an overwhelming cloud of indecision as of it can't quite decide what it's supposed to be.

I can't help but wonder if part of the problem is British television's habit of taking itself too seriously - especially when it comes to fantasy.

The British attitude tends to be - these days - one of polite self-deprecating, embarrassment towards the fantastic.

Just look at Doctor Who under Steven Moffat: the bulk of The Doctor's adventures revolve around contemporary Earth and he is always accompanied by contemporary Earthling companions - where's the 21st Century Leela, Susan or Romana?

Even K9 is kept shut away in a cupboard in Bannerman Road and Matt Smith's Doctor can veer beyond an homage to Patrick Troughton's Second Doctor towards Fizbo The Clown.

But then you have to ask: if you're not going to do fantasy "properly", if you can't buy in to it, why do it at all?

And, of course, the answer comes up: money! Everyone is after a slice of the Doctor Who and Game Of Thrones bandwagon.

But Sinbad doesn't have the serial momentum of Doctor Who or the simple excellence of Game Of Thrones (it's pretty much redundant to even mention Sinbad and Game Of Thrones of these shows in the same breath as you couldn't find more diametrically different fantasy shows).

At its best, Sinbad is comparable with the weaker elements of the first season of Merlin - and, to be fair, that show came on in leaps and bounds and is now one of my favourites. However, I was never so bored with Merlin that I actually gave up watching as I have with Sinbad.

This is such a shame as Sinbad is one of the all-time great adventure characters and you'd really think in this day-and-age you couldn't fail with such an all-action, all-encompassing franchise (just look at Ray Harryhausen's timeless classics to see how to do Sinbad right). But Sky has, quite spectacularly.

I really must check out my DVDs of the Canadian Adventures of Sinbad serial, which ran for two seasons, to see how it stands up in comparison.

Supernatural Is Back!

Supernatural returns to British TV on Wednesday, August 1.

Season seven kicks off at 10pm on SkyLiving HD.


Check out the butt-kicking trailer here.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Bills Urges You To Vote In The Ennies!



Bill Cavalier, the host of this year's event, urges you to make your voice heard in the upcoming Ennie Awards.

When Alli Met Stan...



The fantastic Allison Scagliotti - of Warehouse 13 - shares drinks with Stan Lee and talks technobabble, computer hacking, her background, fan loyalty, gender politics, superheroics and the lure of villainy.

Lantern!

Friday, 20 July 2012

Fleamarket Friday: Spartacus Legends...



I know I don't usually write about video games 'cos they're not my thing, but if the fighting game Spartacus: Legends is as eye-gougingly gruesome as the gladiatorial combats depicted in the early seasons of the show then it has to be a "must own" ... for those of you with Xboxes or Playstations, that is!

Due out early next year, the Starz website has this to say on the game:
"Spartacus Legends is a brand-new fighting game coming to Xbox Live and Playstation Network in early 2013.

"It follows the journey of gladiators, from gut-wrenching training to raw, visceral combat in the arena, usually ending in death.

"Impose your will on the competition, rise through the global ranks and become legendary in battle.

"Featuring thousands of ruthless weapon combinations and a robust skill system, Spartacus Legends allows you to customize your gladiators and mercilessly dismember your enemies, limb by limb.

"Challenge your friends, your foes or the worldwide leaderboards, online or offline, to forge your destiny and fight for your house honor. Two men enter the arena, will you come out alive?
"

Fleamarket Friday: Fairy Tales Come To Life...



Here's the first trailer from Zenescope for their crowdfunded Grimm Fairy Tales animation DVD.

I really hope this is good. If it is, it'll serve as a nice mood-setter for the recently announced Wonderland TV series, based on the Zenescope comics of the same name.

Fleamarket Friday: Star Wars - Clone Wars, Season Four...



Star Wars: The Clone Wars - The Complete Season Four is now available for pre-order from Amazon.
The battle to save the galaxy reaches new heights of peril and new depths of darkness. The valiant Jedi Knights and clone troopers defend exotic planets from enemy forces. They wage war underwater, battle across a night-shrouded world, and take on the merciless Death Watch.

Our heroes are tested like never before as Anakin is haunted by the realities of his past, Ahsoka fights to free her people and an undercover Obi-Wan braves a deadly bounty hunter tournament.
The DVD box set is due to hit shelves in the States on October 23.

And in the meantime here's a couple of clips from season five to whet your appetite...

Fleamarket Friday: This Must Be Mine!



By hook or by crook, I must own this most awesome Blu-Ray box set. I'm a sucker for "artifacts"...

Fleamarket Friday: Time To Get Strange...



Author Greg Pak talks about his forthcoming Doctor Strange: Season One graphic novel.

This is an original graphic novel presenting a critical early adventure in the life of Marvel's Master of the Mystic Arts, with art by Emma Rios, colours by Jordie Bellaire, letters by Clayton Cowles, and edited by Ellie Pyle.

Doctor Strange: Season One hits comic book stores on September 12.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Quagmire!


Quagmire was the word of the day. A couple of weeks of near constant rain had turned the fields of the Hop Farm in to a surprisingly realistic representation of The Somme ahead of this year's War & Peace Show.

But the organisers soldiered on and, to be fair, it wasn't as bad as I feared. However there were several areas fenced off and others that were certainly inaccessible to those of us travelling by mobility scooter.

As always, we rented me a scooter (pictured above - note Rachel's "camouflaged Wellington boots")  because it is such a massive event to cover and although we arrived just before 10am and left just before 5pm, we still didn't see it all (some parts for the reasons of accessibility mentioned above).

The mild weather actually worked in our favour as it allowed me to stay far longer than when it's hot, so that certainly helped.


I had a great day exploring as much as I physically could, but am paying the price for it today! Poor Rachel was not only exhausted but also managed to get sunburned, but did get to see - as is our tradition now - the lunchtime set by her favourite band, The Jive Aces, in the music marquee.

Other than the shells to use in gaming, my main purchase was an old American army jacket "supposedly" worn by a member of the 101st Airborne in the Second World War. Honestly, I'm not that bothered by the provenance as it's a cool jacket anyway.

I had plenty of items on my shopping list, but I totally failed to buy them - maybe next year, then? Or Military Odyssey at the end of next month?

The main pleasure of War & Peace is always the "people watching" as you wander the between the stalls or into the "living history" encampments.

For more of my pictures from the day, check out my public Facebook album here.

Style With Style...


My first purchase at this week's War & Peace Show (of which more later) was 10 small shell casings (pictured above).

The idea is to use them as "style chips" for Hollow Earth Expedition (that's the HEX equivalent of fate points, destiny, bennies etc). I thought they'd help add to the pulp flavour of the game.

They were only 25p each and in retrospect I probably should have bought more...

Minister Of Chance - Episode Three Trailer...



Trailer for episode three of The Minister of Chance. The full episode will launch officially on Saturday.

You can download the entire series from www.ministerofchance.com

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Films On TV: Nazis At The Center Of The Earth (2012)


I can only imagine that The Asylum - home of the mockbuster - held an internal competition for its writing staff to come up with the most bonkers and distasteful film idea and Paul Bales won with his Nazis At The Center Of The Earth.

This shocking (both for its moments of gore and moments of simple dreadfulness) film has it all and then some. Nazis At The Center Of The Earth is certainly not for wussies or those who take their film viewing overly seriously.

But, come on, it's a film from The Asylum - what were you expecting? Schindler's List on a shoestring?

A team of scientists working in the Antarctic are kidnapped by gasmasked Nazi zombie stormtroopers - who have been surviving in an underground base through the use of continual skingrafts pioneered by the evil Dr Mengele (Christopher K. Johnson).

It turns out that the scientists have a traitor in their midst - not too hard to spot in a line-up given that one of them is a the giant, blonde-haired Aryan called Dr Reistad (sounds like 'Reichstag') played by the understated rent-a-psycho Jake Busey.

The Nazi base is actually within the "Hollow Earth" - yes, the Hollow Earth as pictured by loony conspiracy nuts and the authors of the wonderful Hollow Earth Expedition game (complete with its own internal mini-sun and mysterious buildings - but no dinosaurs) - and their experiments run the gamut from total mad science through to uncomfortable, Isla She Wolf Of The SS territory (although with slightly more restraint, as this is a made-for-TV movie).

As well as their bonkers experiments, the Nazi's have developed ray guns and an awesome flying saucer, both of which could have been ripped from the pages of a Jack Kirby comic book. Quite rightly none of this is explained; it is simple taken as is.

What is slightly odd is the amount of freedom the captors allow their prisoners - seemingly free to wander at will around their secret base - and the willingness of the good guys to allow one of their number, Dr Paige Morgan (Dominique Swain), to flip-flop from one side to the other and back again... just because she's the best looking of their number!

There's also a glorious pulpy twist when the object of the Nazi's main experiment is revealed (although if you're good at thinking outside the box you might be able to second guess it) and their climactic goal is well-foreshadowed.

The ending even leaves the door open for a Captain America-style sequel - which can't come soon enough.

In many ways, Nazis At The Center Of The Earth is so crass as to defy description or criticism, but in another sense it's also the definitive Asylum movie.

Having watched it late night on the SyFy Channel, I can't wait for my DVD to arrive. Its title and synopsis alone earned it a place in my "roleplaying game reference" collection of B-movies, but having now seen it and found it exceeded my expectations, it may well become a cornerstone of any future Hollow Earth-themed adventuring I decide to run.

I suspect it will also work as a great companion piece to Iron Sky.

Wonder Woman Wednesday...

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

First Guardians Concept Art...


Marvel has released the first concept art for the upcoming Guardians Of The Galaxy movie and it appears to confirm that the team will consist of Drax, Groot, Star-Lord, Rocket Raccoon and Gamora - which makes me very happy!

Hopefully, this will mean - in the near future - a return of the incredible Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning comic book of the same name. It has been sorely missed from my pull-list since Marvel stopped it for no apparent reason.

Barney Mail...


Barney has only been with us a week and already he's receiving "fan mail". We've had two lovely cards (one from Nick's parents and one from Rachel's) welcoming him to the family!

He's still very nervous and shy and I didn't help things this morning. I thought I'd quickly clear up the mess around his eating area, so got the brush out and started sweeping stuff into the dustpan while Barney was in his sleeping area. Next thing I knew he had leaped over the brush, raced down the ladder and was hiding in his wicker tube downstairs!

Mental note to self: don't clean out hutch while Barney is still in it. He clearly doesn't like the sound of the bristles scraping on the wooden floor...

Item 47 - Teaser...



A short clip from the latest Marvel One-Shot - Item 47, featuring Lizzy Caplan and Jesse Bradford - which will be appearing on the upcoming Avengers DVD.

Monday, 16 July 2012

What Film Have You Watched More Than Any Other?


I was watching Raiders Of the Lost Ark (again) on Friday night when it struck me that I'd probably watched this film more than any other (even Star Wars).

Back at the dawn of time, after the Knight household got its first top-loading VHS player, Raiders was the first Christmas present my parents got me.

It's also the only time I've ever snuck a look at my presents before Christmas day. I still remember peaking under their bed and pulling out the 'massive' VHS cassette box (which I still have) and marveling at the fact that once it was really mine I'd be able to watch Raiders as many times as I wanted, whenever I wanted!

I'd seen it twice at the cinema (I was 14/15 when it came out), but the invention of home video revolutionised my film watching. I'm sure I've mentioned before that the first dozen or so films we rented I religiously watched back-to-back five times each as this whole concept was so brilliant.

It's probably hard to imagine that sensation now, in this age of digital downloads, cheap DVDs and DVRs, but it really was a magical time for a young film enthusiast.

So, what's the film the rest of you have watched more than any other? I suspect for many it is actually Star Wars (or Episode IV as it later became) - which is almost certainly my second most-watched movie.

Map-A-Monday: Gotham City

Click to embiggen

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Best News To Come Out Of Comic-Con...


I haven't really been following the announcements from this year's Comic-Con, but the official revelation of the highly suspected Guardians Of The Galaxy movie has really got me excited.

Of course, it won't be hitting cinemas until August 1, 2014...

Current speculation is that the team will include Rocket Raccoon, Groot, Star-Lord, Drax and Gamora - which I wholly approve of - and will tie-in to the Thanos sub-plot that will probably be the meat of The Avengers 2.

The other interesting Marvel movie news concerned the next Captain America movie, which has the subtitle of The Winter Solider - and therefore rather gives away what that's going to be about!

Cap 2 is also due to hit cinemas in 2014.


And, of course, there was this:

Cosplayers (and Booth Babes) at Comic-Con 2012...



A cross-section of cosplayers from this year's Comic-Con, courtesy of Diamond Comics. More can be found at http://www.previewsworld.com

The Real Worzel Gummidge...



A newsreel clip from 1937 of a "professional scarecrow"!

Clutching at straws (see what I did there?), it's quite possible Barbara Euphan Todd's Worzel Gummidge novels were inspired by these scarecrow men or perhaps it was the other way round

The Road To Childhood Trauma Is Paved With Good Intentions...


Saturday, 14 July 2012

Spartacus: War of the Damned Teaser Trailer Revealed at Comic-Con!

Stan Lee Unveil's Online Show Slate...


The programming lineup for the highly anticipated YouTube channel, Stan Lee’s World of Heroes, has been announced.

“Stan Lee is a master story teller who has created iconic characters loved by people of all ages. We are excited to offer a new way for Stan to connect directly with fans, create new stories and characters and inspire a new generation of creators,” said Scott Nocas, Head of Distribution and Marketing at Vuguru.

“It’s an absolute thrill to be unveiling World of Heroes alongside Vuguru at Comic-Con this week. To unveil fun, scripted and unscripted shows around new characters that fans globally can enjoy, converse with and participate in everyday has been such a reward for me. The channel is a great extension of our company’s exciting, ever-growing lineup of franchises,” said Stan Lee, Chairman and co-Founder of POW! Entertainment.

The programming schedule includes:



Stan Lee’s Super.Model (scripted action comedy)
From the mind of Stan Lee, two aspiring models Bree and Sera and blogger friend Lizzie, are accidentally exposed to a mysterious serum that grants them super powers. Their newfound powers wreak havoc on their quest to become top models and pull them into a world of danger and intrigue. From Executive Producer Heath Corson (Aim High) and writer Taryn O’Neill (BlackBoxTV)



Geek Therapy (scripted comedy)
America Young stars in Geek Therapy, a comedic series about a caring therapist who helps geeks of all kinds deal with their special emotional issues. Whether handling a former Twihard who has fallen in love with the Whedonverse or talking a dark geek out of his plan to destroy those he deems fake geeks, the Geek Therapist always finds a way to help.

Head Cases (scripted comedy)
You know those classic superhero battles where good and evil clash in epic fashion? This isn’t one of those. Set at the local bar frequented by super powered heroes and villains, the comedy Head Cases is what happens before, after, and in between those battles. From the minds of Eisner Award winner Peter David (Babylon 5, Ben 10, The Incredible Hulk) and producer David M. Uslan.



Chatroom of Solitude (scripted comedy)
When you’re a superhero who do you turn to at the end of the day? Written by Jeff Lewis (The Guild, Jeff Lewis 5 Minute Comedy Hour) and directed by Sean Becker (The Guild, Holliston), Chatroom of Solitude is a comedic glimpse into the mundane moments of super lives. Told through a G+ video hangout, we eavesdrop on heroes and villains when they’re off the clock and bitching about a tough day at work to their friends, colleagues and enemies.



Bad Days (animated parody)
From Junaid Chundrigar, the creator of the animated viral sensation Disassembled, Bad Days shows us heroes and villains on their worst days. Whether Green Lantern is wasting time with an emerald Yo-Yo or Batman has locked himself out of the Bat-Mobile, Bad Days lets us laugh at epic super failure.



FanWars (courtroom reality)
Ever wonder who would do better with the ladies, Tony Stark or Bruce Wayne? How about who is the most intelligent supervillain of all time? FanWars gives opinionated fans a chance to go toe to toe on the most pressing issues in the World of Heroes. Producer and judge Jace Hall (The Jace Hall Show, V, The Morning After) and his panel of celebrity experts pit fan against fan as they debate topics from the realms of comic books, superheroes, science fiction and more.



Adrianne Curry’s Super Fans (docu-reality)
Host Adrianne Curry (America’s Next Top Model, My Fair Brady), known to many as the “Queen of the Dorks,” takes her love of all things geek and explores the lives of hardcore fans. Through her exploration of real fandom, Adrianne will discover why she and her subjects are inspired to such extreme fandom. Adrianne will visit their homes, meet their friends and families, and pull back the curtain on the unique lives of passionate fans.



Stan Lee’s Academy of Heroes (makeover reality)
From Emmy Award winning Producer Jon Kroll (Amazing Race, Blade), Stan Lee’s Academy of Heroes takes real life aspiring heroes from all over the country and gives them the mentoring and training they need to take their fight for good to the next level. The nuts and bolts training includes financial planning, public relations, and of course the Zen of heroism from Stan himself.

Cocktails With Stan (talkshow)
Stan Lee and co-host Jenna Busch (IGN, Huffington Post, Moviefone Minute) bring a dose of class to the World of Heroes with Cocktails With Stan. Every week Stan, Jenna, and a surprise guest from the world of geekdom (Nathan Fillion, Felicia Day, Elvira, etc.) discuss favorite heroes, upcoming projects, pop culture, and Stan’s past.



Geek DIY (crafting)
Geek crafter extraordinaire Bonnie Burton (The Star Wars Craft Book) leads fans through fun how-to crafting projects all about heroes! Want a one-of-a-kind steam punk ray gun? Need to make a robot costume? Look no further than Bonnie’s crafting skills and help from her special celebrity guests (Wil Wheaton, Grant Imahara, and others) from across the geek world!

UnCONventional (convention coverage)
A unique look at conventions, Stan’s appearances, pop culture stars who attend them and the culture of fandom through the eyes of TV’s Jayden Stark, Matt Murray and their puppet PA Phillip K. Duck.

With Great Power - Extended Interviews (documentary)
Drawn from exclusive unseen footage from producer Terry Dougas’ Stan Lee documentary, With Great Power: The Stan Lee Story, this behind the scenes interview series features celebrities revealing their unique insights into what makes Stan’s career and creative influence so special.

Stan Lee’s World of Heroes Presents: Mask & Cape News (news magazine)
Three days a week, hosts America Young and Kevin McShane provide entertainment news coverage and insight on everything from comic book releases to movies, media events, and other happenings around the superhero community. The fun atmosphere and quirky personalities that this newsmagazine offers makes it an exciting and friendly source for the super news that matters most.

The Minister Of Chance: Prologue...



Ambassador Durian of Sezuan (Paul McGann) is dispatched to the primitive island nation of Tanto to talk peace. However, his offers of friendship to the belligerent King (Mark Lewis) fall on deaf ears, and things take a turn for the very, very sinister.

After a mammoth journey and fan-funding campaign, episode three of The Minister of Chance, Paludin Fields, will be released next Saturday (July 21).

It will be slightly longer than the previous two episodes and will star the original cast of Julian Wadham, Jenny Agutter, Lauren Crace, Paul Darrow, Peter Guinness, Sylvester McCoy and Paul McGann and will also introduce new regular characters - Tamsin Greig and Beth Goddard - as well as guest appearances from Daniel Easton, Simon Hickson and Frances Tomelty.

The first two episodes of this highly acclaimed audio drama are available currently at www.ministerofchance.com, and will also be joined by the re-release of this ten minute Prologue starring Paul McGann.

As before, all episodes will be available via a free podcast and the creators' hope to then raise funds for episode four via merchandise sales, fan donations and another indiegogo campaign which will launch shortly.

Find out more at www.ministerofchance.com, on Facebook and Twitter.

New Arrivals In Westeros...



And with these new faces for season three of Game Of Thrones comes a five-minute recap of everything that happened in season two (beware: here be spoilers!)

Friday, 13 July 2012

Fleamarket Friday: Seriously, John Carter Is Freakin' Awesome!



Buy the brilliant John Carter on DVD or Blu-Ray and help improve the chances of a sequel (maybe) getting made...

Win The Chance To Get Your Comic Professionally Printed!


British company Print Express is running a competition for up-and-coming comic book creators.

As a prize, they're offering to professionally print a small number of comic books featuring the winning work - for the winner to keep or give away (25 books in total).

It's completely free to enter, and entrants get to keep all the rights to their work, so really it is just an opportunity to win a few printed copies of your e-book, pet project, or unpublished masterpiece.

Print Express have run some competitions for writers in the past, but this is the first competition specifically for comic artists.

To enter, you'll need to email a PDF of a comic (of any length) you've drawn to comics@printexpress.co.uk or (if it's easier) email Print Express a link to your comic if it's on your site.

The closing date is August 8, and full details can be found here.

PrintExpress.co.uk is a leading UK printing supplier with more than 25 years experience providing quality print services with extremely rapid turnaround, including same day printing and delivery in London and within the M25.

Fleamarket Friday: Super Sonic...


The Eleventh Doctor’s Sonic Screwdriver can be yours to own!

For £59.99, this snazzy remote control is available for pre-order from the Forbidden Planet and is due to hit shelves on August 31.

Take control of your household gadgets with this gesture-based universal remote control. Using infrared (IR), the Sonic Screwdriver controls entertainment systems including TVs, iPod docks and DVD/Blu-ray players.

With advanced gesture recognition technology, up to thirty-nine remote control codes can be stored in the Sonic Screwdriver.
  • Guided set-up: teaches you how to use it with spoken prompts
  • FX Mode: 13 authentic special FX sounds from the universe of Doctor Who
  • Bright illuminating tip: lights up in use and pulses when in stand-by
  • Advanced gesture recognition technology: 13 gestures multiplied by three memory bank means up to 39 remote control codes can be stored
  • Special features: Personal Lock Code, discover its secret communications
  • Hand polished
  • Copper plated
  • Diecast metal construction
  • Soft touch grip
  • Hidden Easter Eggs to discover


GET THE FULL PACKAGE!

As well as the Sonic Screwdriver, the pack also includes a high quality presentation display case with clear cover, and a fantastic, double-sided illustrated instruction manual.

If Ever, Oh Ever, A Wiz There Was...



The first trailer for Sam Raimi's Oz The Great And Powerful.

I really want this to be good - as I'm a massive Oz fan - but it looks terrifyingly similar in parts to the soulless Tim Burton butchering of Alice In Wonderland (another of my favourite old time franchises) the other year.

However - Spider-Man 3 aside - I do have much more faith in Raimi.
When small-time magician Oscar Diggs (James Franco) pulls one flimflam too many, he finds himself hurled into the fantastical Land of Oz where he must somehow transform himself into the great and powerful Wizard—and just maybe into a better man as well.

Starring James Franco, Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz, Michelle Williams, and Zach Braff and directed by Sam Raimi. Oz The Great and Powerful arrives in UK cinemas March 2013.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Snack Attack!

Hear The Song Of The Siren...


The artist behind the blog I Will Be A Star Wars Artist hits the motion comic ground running with his debut release of The Siren Of Dathomir.

Joe Hogan's motion comic is being presented on YouTube to allow Star Wars enthusiasts of all ages to take part in this original narrative.

It’s the first of its kind, being the only Star Wars fan-project to be brought to life through this unique concept.

The Siren Of Dathomir, an unofficial fan project inspired by the Cartoon Network’s Clone Wars series, takes a creative twist on the Clone War’s universe by alluding to the Greek myth of the Siren.

The motion comic presents an alluring narrative of an irresistible temptress, and her dedication to luring heroes to their doom. The heroes in this case, are of course the steadfast Clone Troopers, first introduced in the Star Wars Prequels, and now a prominent component of the animated series.

The original story was also written by Joe in traditional comic book panels which can be found on his website.


He began his freelance art career when he was asked to create the site and table banner for popular Star Wars website, TheForce.net, for the Celebration 5 convention.

Since then he has completed sketch cards for Topps’ Star Wars Galaxy Series 6 & 7 and Topps’ Mars Attacks! Heritage. He has also created sketchcards for Upperdeck Avengers Assemble, and Marvel Beginnings II.

The motion comic's music is provided by Dominique Ventura, who gives the Siren her captivating song as she seduces the troopers to their destruction, that is, with the exception of one ARC trooper.

The project is voiced by a special guest who remains uncredited due to project’s unofficial nature!

Joe approaches this new medium with the utmost respect for traditional comics by preserving the traditional panel style.

The transitions are what make this piece unique as panels open up to reveal the bigger picture, and character’s motives are uncovered as the narrative unfolds.

The line style, which Joe is known for, is eye-catching against the brilliantly colored landscapes of Dathomir, and the muted, yet intricate, design of interior backgrounds. His animation style can be defined as stream-lined and clean, yet detailed.

As the reader progresses along the trooper’s journey to Dathomir, they become actively engaged in the story due to the outstanding and striking images.

More information regarding commission work and free-lance projects can be found at www.joehoganart.deviantart.com, as well as Joe's blog, which is updated on Fridays.

He is currently working on more Topps sketchcards for the Galactic Files series. He has also contributed to several fan projects including the poster and comic book prequel for Star Wars fan-film Hughes The Force.

DVD Of The Week: Ozombie (2012)


They asked, we funded, it arrived... The Kickstarter special edition DVD of the highly anticipated Ozombie action movie turned up this week and it's a pretty excellent war film-cum-zombie hunt flick.

Afghan terrorists has been using a mutated biological weapon to turn insurgents into flesh-eating zombies - including Osama Bin Laden (Walter A. Carmona) himself - and a NATO special forces team has been sent in to eliminate the threat. Along the way they meet up with Dusty (Eve Mauro), a yoga instructor from Colorado, who has come to Afghanistan to find her errant brother Derek (Jasen Wade).

Derek is an ex-New York firefighter whose crew was killed on 9/11 while he was home sick and so he is driven to want to kill Osama by his own hand.

Ozombie is a delightfully straight-forward zombie shoot-'em-up with a competent cast, a solid script and decent special effects.

The make-up of the NATO squad is highly reminiscent of the colonial marines in Aliens, with its blend of larger-than-life characters who are all potential zombie-bait. Particular stand-outs include wise-cracking Joker (Paul D Hunt), a Guy Pearce clone, and the gorgeous katana-wielding Tomboy (Danielle Chuchran).

The nominal hero is probably Chip (Corey Sevier, who played Ares in Immortals), but really it's an ensemble piece with everyone pulling their own weight.

Barring one or two exceptions, the performances are top-notch and while there is certainly an emotional engagement with the characters, the true strength of the movie lies in its frequent combat sequences.

It's a shame the final airstrike isn't shown onscreen, but really that's the only fault I can find with this great little zombie war movie.

Ozombie is one of those satisfyingly perfect pieces that does exactly what it says on the tin - no more, no less.

More Bourne...



This looks as though it's going to kick some serious butt!

Of course it doesn't hurt the movie that Jeremy Renner will now - always - be Hawkeye of The Avengers.

Perhaps I should put the Blu-Ray box set of the earlier Bourne trilogy on my birthday list?

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Barney Update...


Poor Barney! Since we "liberated" him from his nice, cosy home in the Pets At Home store at the weekend - where he was warm and dry and had the company of other male bunnies - he has been subjected to near constant rain and, today, a succession of thunder storms!

No wonder he is a bit reluctant about being handled - he probably wishes he was back at the store.

However, Barney and I did manage a bit of a break-through this evening as we had our first proper cuddle since he came home with Rachel and I.

Admittedly he wasn't 100 per cent relaxed all of the time, but Rachel claims that every so often he actually looked as though he was enjoying himself - so things continue to head in the right direction!

Wonder Woman Wednesday...

The Eagle Has Landed...



Crank up the volume as you watch this clip of 'earth rise' filmed by the crew of Apollo X and set to the Thus Spake Zarathustra cue from 2001 A Space Odyssey (you might actually need to watch it on YouTube)

Today is, of course, the anniversary of the first manned lunar landing by Neil Armstrong and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin, Jr, on Earth's Moon on July 20 in 1969, at 20:17:39 UTC.

More New Batman...

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

PRESS RELEASE: A Naive Project - Using Comic Books To Save Lives...


A brain aneurysm survivor aims to share his love for comic books, and his writing ability, to recruit artists for a very personal project that will save more lives like his.

Thirty-year-old Siike Donnelly survived a subarachnoid hemorrhage, commonly known as a brain aneurysm, in 2010.

Having to rebuild his speech pattern and learn to walk again, Siike has reached out to other aneurysm survivors, finding that very little is being done to not only raise awareness to something that could affect anyone at any moment, but also found very little money being raised as well.

Today, he aims to change that.

"I'm one of the lucky ones. Most people don't survive a brain aneurysm, and of those that do, most suffer from disabilities," said Siike Donnelly. "Though I have new daily obstacles, I want to take advantage of the world I'm connected to, and love more than anything, to help me raise awareness and funds through something as simple as a comic book."

In recent months, Siike has gathered nearly a dozen artists for his cause, even
starting up his own company called The Naive Project.

Through his company, Siike will publish a comic book called Solestar, a Japanese character of his creation, who has an origin set during the bombing of Hiroshima.

"I wanted to create a superhero that knew loss right from the start. It's kind of the staple when creating someone with powers. They have to come from tragedy to obtain victory. This is something I now understand on a personal level. Hopefully victory follows my tragedy with this project."

The concept is simple; Siike, a published author of two books, Rhino and Heaven's Echo, has written a 55-page story that focuses on Solestar's final day on Earth, December 25, 2099.

He is asking for 55 artists from anywhere in the world to email him, read his script, and pick a page that they are willing to donate to the cause.

With a dozen artists already on board, including Kate Carleton, Paul Barnes, Aaron Pierce, Renzo Ventrella, Christian Leaf, Martin Dunn, Neil Kapit, Jim Dewey, Jenai Pellerin, and more coming on board each week, Siike is a fifth of the way to his goal in just two short months.

Once all 55 pages are completed and compiled as a 'jam' style comic, it will be packaged with a few pages about brain aneurysms, information on the people sponsoring the comic book, the Brain Aneurysm Foundation, and a short story featuring unused artwork and photos to show how this project all came together.

Siike hopes to have the 100-page graphic novel print ready by Christmas of this year.

It will sell for $10, in limited supply at first, with all proceeds going to the Brain Aneurysm Foundation.

There are six million people in the United States at this very moment with an unruptured brain aneurysm. At any second, it could burst, with a great chance at
ending their life.

For those that survive a brain aneurysm, it's guaranteed they will experience another in their lifetime. It's averaged out that every 18 minutes, someone suffers from one of these ruptures.

Siike hopes his comic book will change those statistics.

"It's important that people just know about this. Raising money with this comic will help those already affected but the knowledge inside the pages alone could save a life that has yet to be affected. I think that's kind of cool, a superhero that will actually save a life. I hope we can see more of that in the future."

At The Naive Project, a quote adorns any spot that Siike can find room for it.

It's from his favorite superhero of all time, Mr. Christopher Reeve.

The quote reads, "At first dreams seem impossible, then improbable, and eventually inevitable."

Saying that Siike is a dreamer is an understatement. And though some may not see the irony in the name he gave his company, Siike shows no fear for the many obstacles that still lie ahead.

"My concept may seem stupid to some, a waste of time to others, but trying to do something good is never any of those things. During my attempts at getting this project off the ground I've run across people that have tried to stop it, bring it down, and take personal shots at me. I let them, because I know they are wrong. The life I save could be their mother, father, significant other, or child. I can endure a few haters knowing the end result will be someone not going through what I went through, or what someone who had it worse than me went through. Hopefully there are 43 more artists out there that appreciate and respect what I'm trying to do. Hopefully they'll join us."

From more information contact:

Shat's Back ... And He's Exploring Fandom!



Geek icon William Shatner returns to his continuing mission to educate the world (nay, the universe) about every aspect of Star Trek.

Get A Life! is an EPIX Original documentary about his examination of the intricacies of fandom.

In the States it premieres on EPIX, EpixHD.com and on EPIX apps including Xbox, Roku players and more on July 28 at 8pm ET.

Can't wait for the DVD to hit the UK.

Simon's Cat: Window Pain...

Monday, 9 July 2012

Spartacus: War of the Damned - In Production Now...



It's a shame that Spartacus is coming to an end so soon, but at least it's getting a proper conclusion and it sounds as though the show's going out in style!

Love the line: "You're going to need a bigger TV just to appreciate it!" Have to try that one on Rachel!

So This Arrived Today...


... as the starting point for my historical research into this.

Map-A-Monday: Gotham City Rail

click to embiggen
Courtesy of Gotham City Rail
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