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Monthly Archives: September 2011

Three Great Horror/Sci Fi Anthologies.

Twilight Zone, Outer Limits and Thriller.

Lets start off with probably the most well known one first, The Twilight Zone. Of course, everyone knows Twilight Zone. Rod Serling’s, classic series, with more classic episodes than anyone could count. The series is still on television today and there is a yearly marathon on the SyFy channel. The series originally ran from 1959 through 1964. The praise over the years for this show has been abundant and deserving. Twilight Zone is probably the best series of this type. It was extremely well written, so much so that even the bad episodes were up to the standards for the day. However, the good episodes transcended the medium. The narrative is one of the best, Rod Serling, became just as much of the show as the stories themselves. The show is not only great entertainment but is now entrenched in our popular culture. I mean we all have at least one friend who does an impressive Serling imitation. There is just so many great episodes and so many stars who appeared on this show it is too numerous to go over. It is great television maybe the greatest television.

Another classic anthology series is The Outer limits, which ran from 1963 to 1965. The Outer limits is more of a Sci fi series than any of the others. The series was produced by Leslie Stevens and Joseph Stefano. Joseph Stefano had written the screenplay for Psycho. The series was more of a kind of a Monster of the week show, that used science fiction as a way to tell tales of the human condition. Much like Star Trek would a couple years later. The episodes of this show ranged from pretty awful at times to down right amazing. This show includes some of the best television ever. Episodes like The Architects of Fear, The sixth finger, and many others. The series also include two episodes written by Harlan Ellison, The Soldier, and the most amazing episode of all, Demon with the Glass Hand. This series also include some well know actors including Martin Landau, Robert Duvall, Dabney Colman and many more. However the greatest character in the series is “The Control Voice” , Vic Perrin. This show took a note from the Twilight Zone, with its own narrative opening which was one of the best on television. I watched this series as a young boy in reruns, and was truly frightened by what I saw.

Lastly one of my favorites Thriller also known as Boris Karloff’s Thriller, which originally aired from 1960 to 1962. This series is very unique , for its type. Starting off as a suspense show but soon turned to out and out horror. Although airing on television, it has some of the creepiest images I have ever seen. Like Outer Limits I watched this show when I was young, but not only was I frightened I had nightmares. Many years later I still had vague memories of this show. This one was not so easy to find in reruns it seems that after the 70s it was non-existence. Recently the show has been released on Dvd giving me an opportunity to refresh my memory. …and wow, this is really great stuff. Stephen King in his book, Danse Macabre called it “probably the best horror series ever put on television. There are really great episodes here, The Cheaters, The Hungry Glass, The Purple Room, Pigeons from Hell and the truly creepy The Incredible Doktor Markesan. Like the other two series, this show has a beginning narration. The narrator is the great Boris Karloff, and he is great, in most episodes he does only the narration but in a few he has staring roles and although in his 70s during the run, he is really creepy and amazing.

Okay, now why write about these old black and white shows, because they are black and white, because they are old, and because they are really damn good. In todays, mass media, streaming internet, 3D movie society there are many who will not watch anything in black and white. I don’t really know why this is, maybe they believe it is outdated, or they think its can’t be good, or they are just not aware. These shows are starting to fade away and it would really be a shame if there was a whole generation never got a chance to enjoy them.

Speaking of Streaming, you can watch The Twilight Zone and the first season of Thriller on Netflix and the Outer Limits is available to watch on Hulu. So give them a try.

 
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Posted by on September 27, 2011 in Television

 

DCnU week one, I’ve read every single issue.

The DC universe has once again rebooted itself. This time everything starts anew, right after the conclusion of events in the mini-series Flashpoint.

DC has decided to launch this new Universe (DCnU) in 52 all new #1 issues.

Lets start off with one week prior. Flashpoint #5 and Justice League #1 were released on the same day, showing the readers how the new universe started and instantly showing us some of the differences in this universe.

Flashpoint #5 is the conclusion of Barry Allen the Flash’s story of being trapped in a alternate universe, in which he never became the Flash, Thomas Wayne is the Batman, Superman is an imprisoned alien, and Cyborg is the big gun in the DCU.

All along in the story, Barry Allen is convinced that The Reverse Flash is responsible for the new time line, however the real answer is surprising. In “fixing” the problem, The Flash actually creates a third time line, creating DCnU and introducing a mysterious character along the way.

I liked the Flashpoint storyline. It was a very interesting and entertaining way of creating this new universe as well as giving the creation a little depth and tragedy. So I think I can easily recommend Flashpoint as the introductory storyline for this new DC universe

 

 

Justice League #1 written by Geoff Johns, and drawn by Jim Lee.

It is noted that this issue takes place 5 years prior to all other DCnU titles. There is a lot of action is this book and some really great artwork. It shows a Batman being hunted by the law. The storyline hints at a return/introduction of a main DC villain, and the hunt for clues leads a younger version of Batman and Green Lantern to confront Superman for the very first time. I love the last line in this book, and look forward to the next issue.

OK, week one of DCnU

I’m going to go through these titles in alphabetical order.

Action Comics #1 written by Grant Morrison and drawn by Rags Morales.

This book takes place 6 years prior to all the other DCnU titles. I have to confess right from the start, I absolutely love Grant Morrison’s All Star Superman, so I was really looking forward to this title. Right off the bat it is a totally different Superman. This Superman is an outlaw, a renegade vigilante, trying to right perceived wrongs anyway he can, and fighting the law while doing it. Also in this issue is the standard cast of characters Lois, Jimmy, White, and of course Lex Luthor. In this story Luthor is working with the authorities to capture Superman. This book had a lot of surprises about the characters I know and love. I really enjoyed it and will continue reading this one.

 

 

 

Animal Man #1, written by Jeff Lemire, art by Travel Foreman

Once again I hold a special place in my heart for this character because of Grant Morrison’s brilliant run on the book twenty years ago. The character of Animal Man (Buddy Baker) is very much the same as I remember him, a family man. The book has scenes with his family from the start and then moves into some superhero stuff and then comes this dream sequence which is kinda awesome and creepy and had me thinking, “is this a horror book?”. The dream sequence also introduces the main villains of the book as well . The book ends on a creepy note that are related to events in the dream. I really enjoyed the book and this would be one of the titles that I would tell someone, they should buy.

Batgirl #1, written by Gail Simone, drawn by Ardian Syaf.

Barbara Gordon is Batgirl again (hooray!). The book is written by Gail Simone, who really knows how to write female hero characters. The book starts off with a mystery, and adds back story about “the shooting” and then mentions the miracle. So there is lots of superhero action, but a cut above the standard fair. The artwork is great and Batgirl is just plain fun.

Batwing #1 written by Judd Winick, art by Ben Oliver.

So this book is about an African Bat Character. It also establishes that Batman Incorporated is still around and funding heroes across the globe. Judd Winick has always been hit or miss for me and I consider this one a miss. Ya, it okay superhero stuff, but just okay. Nothing special and I can’t see any reason from the first issue why I would be compelled to buy any additional books.

Detective Comics #1, written by Tony S. Daniel, art by Ryan Winn.

Okay a Detective #1, there has not been one of those in over 70 years. Bruce Wayne is batman, the only Batman and he is in pursuit of the Joker. Everything is the same but just a little different, something is going on between Batman and Joker and a mysterious third party. The cops are after the dark knight but he still has an alley in Gordon. Good story so far and solid art work. ……and is Alfred a hologram?

 

 

 

 

 

Green Arrow #1, written by JT Krul with art by Dan Jurgens.

This is a younger version of Green Arrow, who owns a large corporation which funds his superhero activities as well as other heroes as mentioned in later DC books. This is very standard superhero stuff, nothing new, nothing exciting. There have been much better Green Arrow books in the past, the recent past. So pass this one by.

Hawk and Dove #1, written by Sterling Gates with art by Rob Liefeld (ya, Rob Liefeld)

So this is crap, garbage, shit. This book could have been released in the 90s. Oh wait Liefeld was drawing this in the 90s. The story is stuff covered in the past, oh by brother is dead, poor me. It is absolutely horrible. The only thing you really get out of it is that Crisis did happen in the new DC universe.

Justice League International #1, written by Dan Jurgens with art by Aaron Lopresti

Again we have another title that seems to be almost right from the 90s. An International version of the Justice League which is lead by Booster Gold. The series is written by Booster Gold creator Dan Jurgens who had some popularity on his 90s run of Superman. The Team consists of Guy Gardner, Rocket Read, Fire, Ice, Vixen, , August General of Iron and Godiva. Batman is also among them as an unsanctioned member. This version of Justice League, unlike Justice League #1 takes place in current DCnU continuity. Now I was a fan of the 90s version of the team, but that had to due a lot with the humor of the book. This current title has no humor and is pretty much playing it straight. I’m not really sure what the point of the book is and why the need to have a title filled with lots of unknown characters, but it was a pretty decent first issue and I’ll stick by it (for a while).

Men of War #1, (Joseph Rock, written by Ivan Brandon, art by Tom Derenick, Navy Seals, written by Jonathan Vankin, art by Phil Winslade.)

Okay So there are two stories in the first issue. The first introduces a new Sgt. Rock (ugh…), thats right the grandson of the original, but now deployed in the Middle east. I can’ tell you how much I hate this concept. Sgt Rock, was not only a DC character he was pretty much Joe Kubert’s character. I feel that the two are so much part of each other, you cannot have one without the other (even if its a new version).

The next story Navy Seals, just seem to be a really cliché war melodrama, piece of crap.

Both stories have cardboard characters in cardboard situations with no cartoony war stories which you can’t feel invested in at all. Seems to me the only reason they did this book was to try(and fail) to keep the Sgt. Rock franchise fresh and modern. Maybe in the future, with a better writer, but not with this guy.

OMAC #1, written by Dan Didio and Keith Giffen with art by Keith Giffen.

I’m a big Jack Kirby fan. I really loved the 70s stuff he did for DC, and OMAC was no exception. So that being said I really enjoyed this version. Unlike the original series this one takes place in present DC continuity and not the future. Also this book contains a new version of the Cadmus Project, another Kirby creation. The story in this first issues does not have much of a storyline so far, just OMAC breaking into Cadmus and stealing something and hints about upcoming stuff. What sells me on the book is the Giffen/Kirby style artwork and the energy it gives off. The panels are fun to look at and really has a very Kirby feel to them. I want to see what happens and I really just want to stare at the pages each month, so I’m In.

 

 

Static Shock #1, written by Scott McDaniel with art by John Rozum.

I never read the original Static Shock series or watched the cartoon. The book is set in a future version of the DCnU future. It an okay read, lots of standard superhero stuff going. However, I did not love the character, or really care about him. Also since this is the future of the DC universe, if its not Legion who cares? No, I don’t think this is my taste. Gonna skip it from now on.

Stormwatch #1, written by Paul Cornell with art by Miguel Sepulveda.

I’m not really sure how to take this one. Apparently Stormwatch is now part of the DC universe. So the question is how can a team like this exist along side of the Justice League, would the Justice League let this team go on, if so why? Also I am sure there are gonna be lots of geeky Apollo vs Superman stuff going on. A surprise is Martian Manhunter is in this book, but it also refers to him belonging to Justice League in the past. So this one has lots of question for me. Therefore, I am going to keep picking it up, until I get my answers.

Swamp Thing #1, written by Scott Snyder, with art by Yanick Paquette.

I have been a Swamp Thing fan, since I discovered the character back in the 70s and then just went wild about the character during Alan Moore’s run in the 80s. However, after that there was never really a writer who, well could write the character. It was like Alan Moore created this Swamp God, and nobody knew what to do with him. Recently the Swamp Thing came back to light, during Brightest Day (heh).

The book starts off with Alec Holland, thats right Alec Holland alive and (maybe not so well). Also there is an appearance by Superman in the book who is acting very much like the old Superman we know, other than a costume change.

In the end we do finally see the title character, in a I can’t wait for the next issue kind of way.

The story is moody and well written and the artwork is amazing and I love the Swamp Thing, so of course I’m gonna keep picking it up. 🙂

Okay thats week one, I know not a lot of detail about each book, but just enough to let you know if I’m gonna keep collecting each issue. So far the DCnU is really not so so new, but its kind of fresh, and still there are larger question about what really has changed in this universe and why? Well I guess for that reason alone, we all will probably keep reading DC, to find out 🙂

 

 

 
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Posted by on September 25, 2011 in Comics

 

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Lord of the Rings: The Card Game

Brett and I decided to give Lord of the Rings: The Card Game a try the other afternoon.

From Fantasy Flight Games:

The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game is a cooperative card game that puts 1-2 players (or up to four with two Core Sets!) in control of the most powerful characters and artifacts of Middle-earth. Players will select heroes, gather allies, acquire artifacts, and coordinate their efforts to face Middle-earth’s most dangerous fiends. By cooperating to overcome the obstacles drawn from the encounter deck, you will complete the quest before you and claim victory!

In The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game, players take on the roles of heroes attempting to complete dangerous quests. These quests take place during a broad span, beginning near the end of The Hobbit, and culminating near the beginning of The Fellowship of the Ring. Instead of directly retelling the classic stories that have previously been narrated, this game provides players with a variety of elements—characters, settings, enemies, events, items, artifacts, scenarios—that allow them to embark upon new adventures and share new experiences with these beloved characters during this ominous period of Middle-earth history.

If you have ever read this blog before, you know that I love cooperative games. Lord of the Ring: The Card Game is a little different, well its a card game 🙂 .

Two players, each have their own separate decks, working against the third enemy deck.  Each player starts with a set of heroes in front of them and then can pay resources to play other effect, attachments and event cards. What is really kinda neat is that each player can play effect cards on their team mates side, as well as their own.

Lord of the Rings, is really a hard game (and we played the easiest adventure) but it was lots of fun. I really like this very creative game mechanic, and can’t imagine that other games will not follow.

If you enjoy co-op games or card games like Magic, you should really give it a try.

 

 
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Posted by on September 23, 2011 in Games

 

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Game Night: September 15, 2011

The first game we played that evening was Railways of England.

Who will become the first Rail Baron of England?
Mid-19th century England… the tramways that first appeared to transport coal have since been upgraded to railways. Numerous different companies using different railway gauges connected to villages, towns and cities across the country. Eventually the small companies were merged into the Big Four.
This new expansion has two sets of rules. The first set of rules follows the gameplay of the Railways of the World series. The second set of rules is a brand new game from Martin Wallace that features a new share system and economic engine that builds upon the Railways of the World engine.

It was a three player game with Thomas, Ted and myself. Thomas won the game, Ted came in second and I game is a very far last.

The second game was Coloretto.

Coloretto is a card game designed by Michael Schacht, originally published in 2003. The game cards depict chameleons, showing that “a player may change his color many times during the game”.[1] Rules are provided in both English and French. The published game is designed for 3-5 players,[2] but rules for a two player version of the game are available at the Rio Grande Games website.

This was a five player game with Thomas, Ted, Brett, Brandi and myself. Brett won this game.

This last game of the evening was Dixit.

One player is the storyteller for the turn. He looks at the 6 images in his hand. From one of these, he makes up a sentence and says it out loud (without showing the card to the other players).

The other players select amongst their 6 images the one that best matches the sentence made up by the storyteller.

Then, each of them gives their selected card to the storyteller, without showing it to the others. The storyteller shuffles his card with all the received cards. All pictures are shown face up, randomly, and every player has to bet upon what picture was the storyteller’s.

If nobody or everybody finds the correct picture, the storyteller scores 0, and each of the other players scores 2. Otherwise the storyteller and whoever found the correct answer scores 3. Players score 1 point for every vote gotten by their own picture.

The game ends when the deck is empty or if someone reaches 30 points,so he wins.Otherwise the greatest total wins the game.

This was a six player game, with Thomas, Ted, Brett, Anna, Brandi and myself. Brett won the game and Brandi came in 2nd.

 
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Posted by on September 18, 2011 in Games

 

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Game Night : September 10, 2011

I got a text from Ted on Saturday afternoon and he was wondering if I was free to be a fourth in a game. It sounded like a good time, but I invited to my  place. So after dinner Ted, Thomas and Brett arrived.

Now Ted has gotten a few new games recently, including Dungeon Lords and Space Alert, both designed by Vlaada Chvatil, so he has become Ted’s favorite game designer. I also have a game designed by the same guy, Through the Ages. So I suggested that we play that.

Through the Ages is a civilization building game. The goal is to develop your civilization, not to destroy other ones. Military strength is just one aspect of your nation, as well as population, production or science. It is up to you which aspect you will concentrate on, more or less, but you should not underestimate any of them while building your civilization.

Victory is achieved by the player whose nation produces the most culture during the game. However, there are many ways to produce culture: through religion, literature or drama, by building wonders, by utilizing cultural persons etc. Considerable amount of culture can be gained even via wars or aggression.

The game can be played three different ways, simple, advanced and full. We played the advanced game. The game took 3 1/2 hours and it was a blast. It is very strategic, and you are continually planning what you are going to do on your next move, so it has very little down time. In the end Thomas won the game, Brett and Ted tied for second and I came in last.

 

After that we decided to play another game of Space Alert.

It’s a cooperative team survival game. Players become crew members of a small spaceship scanning dangerous sectors of galaxy. The missions last just 10 real-time minutes (hyperspace jump, sector scan, hyperspace jump back) and the only task the players have is to protect their ship.

On 2 CDs (or Scenario cards if you don’t have a CD player available) are ten minute long soundtracks that represent central computer announcements about the presence of various threats. These vary from space battleships and interceptors to different interstellar monsters and abominations, asteroids or even intruders and malfunctions on the spaceship. Players have to agree who will take care of which task and coordinate their actions (moving around the ship, firing weapons, distributing energy, using battlebots to deal with intruders, launching guided missiles, etc.) in real time to defend the ship. Only a well-working team can survive 10 minutes and make the jump back to safety.

The game offers several difficulty levels, huge variability and a unique experience for one to five player teams. One mission lasts only about 30 minutes, including setup and evaluation.

This time we decided to play a more complex version by adding the “C” buttons to the game. It was a slightly longer game than our last outing of Space Alert, 10 minutes 🙂 We all won!

 
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Posted by on September 11, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Game Night : September 8, 2011

The first game of the night was a new one Dixit.

2010 Spiel des Jahres Winner

One player is the storyteller for the turn. He looks at the 6 images in his hand. From one of these, he makes up a sentence and says it out loud (without showing the card to the other players).

The other players select amongst their 6 images the one that best matches the sentence made up by the storyteller.

Then, each of them gives their selected card to the storyteller, without showing it to the others. The storyteller shuffles his card with all the received cards. All pictures are shown face up, randomly, and every player has to bet upon what picture was the storyteller’s.

If nobody or everybody finds the correct picture, the storyteller scores 0, and each of the other players scores 2. Otherwise the storyteller and whoever found the correct answer scores 3. Players score 1 point for every vote gotten by their own picture.

The game ends when the deck is empty or if someone reaches 30 points,so he wins.Otherwise the greatest total wins the game.

Playing this game was Thomas, Marta, Olivita, Alan, Brandi and myself. It was very well received by most, except for Alan, he hated the game. Marta won the game with a very big lead above all the other players.

Next we played an old stand by Bohnanza.

Bohnanza is the first in the Bohnanza family of games and has been published in several different editions.

As card games go, this one is quite revolutionary. Perhaps its oddest feature is that you cannot rearrange your hand, as you need to play the cards in the order that you draw them. The cards are colorful depictions of beans in various descriptive poses, and the object is to make coins by planting fields (sets) of these beans and then harvesting them. To help players match their cards up, the game features extensive trading and deal making.

The original German edition supports 3-5 players.

The newest English version is from Rio Grande Games and it comes with the first edition of the first German expansion included in a slightly oversized box. One difference in the contents, however, is that bean #22’s Weinbrandbohne (Brandy Bean) was replaced by the Wachsbohne, or Wax Bean. This edition includes rules for up to seven players, like the Erweiterungs-Set, but also adapts the two-player rules of Al Cabohne in order to allow two people to play Bohnanza.

Note: As mentioned above, the Rio Grande Games edition supports more players than the Amigo release, and also sports two-player rules. You should keep that in mind when perusing the ratings.

Alan, Marta and Olivita went home, but Brett had showed up just as we were finishing Dixit. So playing this game was Thomas, Brandi, Brett and myself. We have played this game tons of times, and we always play with the house rule that there is no trading from your hand after the two card trade is done.  Thomas won this game for the first time.

The last game we played was Space Alert.

It’s a cooperative team survival game. Players become crew members of a small spaceship scanning dangerous sectors of galaxy. The missions last just 10 real-time minutes (hyperspace jump, sector scan, hyperspace jump back) and the only task the players have is to protect their ship.

On 2 CDs (or Scenario cards if you don’t have a CD player available) are ten minute long soundtracks that represent central computer announcements about the presence of various threats. These vary from space battleships and interceptors to different interstellar monsters and abominations, asteroids or even intruders and malfunctions on the spaceship. Players have to agree who will take care of which task and coordinate their actions (moving around the ship, firing weapons, distributing energy, using battlebots to deal with intruders, launching guided missiles, etc.) in real time to defend the ship. Only a well-working team can survive 10 minutes and make the jump back to safety.

The game offers several difficulty levels, huge variability and a unique experience for one to five player teams. One mission lasts only about 30 minutes, including setup and evaluation.

Brandi had left to go home, but Ted arrived from his rehearsal. So playing this game was Thomas, Ted, Brett and myself. This was Ted’s game so he had played it  before but it was the first time the rest of us had played. It was really a lot of fun. I have played coop games before but the timed element really adds an enjoyable mechanic to the game, and it’s really fast…..

We all won 🙂

 
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Posted by on September 11, 2011 in Games

 
 
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