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Monday, March 30, 2009

Robot Sweatshop - Episode 21: The Pop Culture Gauntlet

In this new episode of Robot Sweatshop, Dan and Chris discuss pretty much all things pop culture: music (The Gaslight Anthem, The Killers), video games (OnLive, Street Fighter 4, Pikmin for Wii), TV (Mystery Science Theater 3000, Cinematic Titanic), and comics (Batman: Battle for the Cowl). If it's nerdy and niche, we talk about it here!

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

No More Consoles?

Recently unveiled at the Game Developers Conference, OnLive may actually have what it takes to end the console war forever behind a unified games delivery system. What exactly is OnLive? According to Newsarama:

First, the basics of OnLive have been laid out this week at the Game Developer’s Conference, and it initially looks like a too-good-to-be-true model. The service works either through your computer or your TV. If you’re on your computer (Mac OSX, Windows XP, Vista), you’ll simply download a very small client browser plugin, use a mouse/keyboard, generic USB controller, or their proprietary wireless controllers (which look suspiciously like Xbox 360 controllers), and access any game from the OnLive library through the client. No advanced graphics card is needed, very little ram and processing speed is used on your own computer. All the heavy lifting is done through cloud computing on OnLive’s server farm.

That means if you have a MacBook, a high end Alienware desktop, or a $200 Dell, you can play the latest games in all their glory. This possibility is especially enticing to oft-plagued Mac gamers, who will be able to play new releases day-and-date with their PC counterparts.

The TV option requires OnLive’s “MicroConsole”, slightly larger than a USB hub, which then plugs into your TV via HDMI. It can also take keyboard, mouse, and generic USB controllers (two wired), or support four wireless controllers and wireless headsets simultaneously. Plug in to your router via the Ethernet port, and the same simple grid interface you access on your computer can be brought up on your TV.

So that’s it, with a downloaded plugin, or a device easy to plug in, you have access to any of the games on OnLive’s service. There’s nothing else to download or install, as the games run entirely on OnLive’s servers, and even in the current internal beta, games like HAWX and Prince of Persia (the December, 2008 release) are taking less than ten seconds to launch.

I'm amazed to say it, but this might actually work. Ease of use, low price, and games are all integral to success in the videogames industry, and OnLive has them all. My guess is that Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft have to be worried about this. It just makes too much sense.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Robot Sweatshop - Episode 20: The Stephen Zisner Interview

In this episode of Robot Sweatshop, Dan interviews famous comics blogger Stephen Zisner about his blog, reviewing comics, and the brilliance of Uncanny X-Men #282.

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Revenge Movies A-Go-Go!

With the unfortunate Last House On The Left remake hitting theaters like a flu it's given me time to pause and ponder about my favorite revenge movies that have fostered my own insatiable bloodlust and seething need for justice. Some you might recognize as classics but there a few down there that fly off the average Amazon listmaker's radar. Enjoy and watch your back.

Death Wish - In the flagship installment of justice-dealing Paul Kersey, Bronson birthed the term "bronsoning," which meant to punish mercilessly, and then say some 1-3 words. NYC crime-weary audiences cheered for Bronson wiping out goon after goon, and then art imitated life when nerd-turned-vigilante Bernie Goetz shot four men allegedly in self-defense, leaving one paraplegic. Bronson himself had to tell audiences not to take the law into their own hands. Too bad I didn't hear him! (sawing off shotgun)...

The Vengeance Trilogy: Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, Oldboy, Sympathy for Lady Vengeance - On the RS podcast I claimed Oldboy had some of the best first 40 minutes of a movie I had ever seen, and I still stand by it. Upon seeing Oldboy I had to chew gum not to crack a molar. SMV and SLV are terrific in their own rite but Oldboy truly distills the essence of vengeance as one person versus the world, less a human and more an unstoppable force, that is, until the end of the film, when there's more twists than a barrel of pretzels.

Dead Man's Shoes - Directed by Shaun Meadows (also director of the flawless This Is England), this film made a surprising entry into the revenge canon. Paddy Considine gives a ridiculously convincing performance as ex-soldier Richard who returns to his sleepy town to unflinchingly reprimand the baddies who tormented his mentally disabled brother Anthony. What ensues is a gripping slow-boiling quest for merciless revenge - easily one of my favorite flavors of revenge (right next to fire and brimstone from above).

I Spit On Your Grave - This movie is just so hard to watch that I have to recommend it just as a reference point. There's just something so terrible about this film, the use of rape, the subsequent murders of said rapists. Sure, it's bad 70s grindhouse b-movie schlock at its worst, but still, it's like watching 45 car accidents for 90 minutes (and the cars were driven by awful, awful people). And while we're at it, let's throw Ms. 45 and Thriller - A Cruel Picture in here - it's the same stuff, equally grimy and just not fun to watch with people you care about. Play Super Mario Bros. 2 instead.

Clifford - Now I have seen my share of creepy revenge movies, and there's just something so much more sinister about Martin Short playing a ten-year-old in the first place that shoots it right up the list. While the crime "perpetrated" against this little bastard is small: his architect uncle, expertly played by Charles Grodin, can't take him to Dinosaur World (which he designed) because he has to redesign the LA metro system (a clever ploy by boss Dabney Coleman to get closer to Grodin's li'l lady Mary Steenburgen), nothing downplays the eeriness of Martin Short pretending to be a child. In fact, the combination of shapes created by Martin Short's body will cause bats to fly into your house and crash into your television. Just imagine giving Martin Short a gun in this movie and you'd have the creepiest revenge movie ever made. I'd like to think there's a final scene in the director's cut with Martin Short emerging from a crypt, his mouth covered in blood, saying "more flesh..." I have a lot to say about Clifford. It truly is for lovers.

Once Upon A Time In The West - Westerns make for awesome revenge movies. I think because everyone carried a gun back then and all it took for a bloody firefight was an extra ace on the table, a hat not tipped to a lady, a table flipped over, or someone's horse groped. OUATITW is no exception: Henry Fonda plays a black-hatted bad guy for a change (western law: black hat = bad man), and Charles Bronson makes another appearance on this list as the man of few words Harmonica (such a better name than Slide-Whistle). Sergio Leone must have been paid by the squib because he cooked up a sanguinary six-gun stew with thirty sides of buckshot and boy, am I famished. This movie delivers on all fronts: Perfect casting, a great story, and some of the best western devices ever used. Also great: Hang 'Em High, The Searchers, Bring Me The Head Of Alfredo Garcia. What say you, Bobby Internet?

Revenge Of The Nerds - Clap your hands everybody, and everybody clap your hands. We're Lambda Lambda Lambda and Omega Mu. We come here on stage tonight to do our show for you. We got a rockin' rhythm and a hi-tech sound that'll make you move your body down to the ground. We got Poindexter on the violin, and Lewis and Gilbert will be joining in. We got Booger Presley on the mean guitar and a rap by little ol' me Lamar. We got Takashi beating on his gong, the boys and the Mu's are clapping along. And just when you thought, ya seen it all, along comes a Lambda four foot tall. So Wormser come on out here on the floor, so we can move our bodies, like never before. Break!

The Limey: Terrence Stamp dishing out swift Cockney justice? Luis Guzmán as the sidekick? Shit yeah. This Steven Soderbergh-directed revenge pic goes down smooth at a mere 89 minutes but it packs a wallop. It's a retribution amusement park ride where every five minutes you're asking yourself something like "Did Terrence Stamp just throw some jerk off a roof?" and "Did Terrence Stamp just ice three dudes in a warehouse?" The answer to both questions: a resounding and gratifying "yes."

And of course there's the popular others: Sleepers, Count of Monte Cristo, Carrie, Kill Bill I & II, Mad Max and Payback (starring everyone's favorite anti-Semite/weirdo Mel Gibson, and as much as I'd love to leave him off the list for already being on another list of mine (Top 10 Biggest Jerkoffs), someone will inevitably ask why these films were left off the list), and The FIRST Punisher (that's right I'll stake my film cred on it right now, lose it, and get me some of that bailout money!)

And a bonus! Roger Ebert's 1994 Review of Clifford-

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Show O' The Eve... Naughty By Nature (NXN) In Brooklyn

While there are few songs from the early '90... meh, eff this- there are ONLY songs from the early 90s I like, and everything else is fodder for car commercials. So in between my rambunctious vocal stylings of Technotronic, CeCe Peniston, and Snap I sometimes like to give the one-man-party a thick delicious coat of Naughty By Nature - maybe O.P.P., maybe Ghetto Bastard, maybe Feel Me Flow, maybe even a little Uptown Anthem for good measure. Sure, it could be raining pretty hard, you're late for work, and you're sandwiched on the B67 bus next to an elderly woman playing Handheld Tiger Electronic Football and a guy that smells like a hot dog wearing a dogshit wedding dress, but Naughty By Nature is sure to liven up the morning spirits. Moreover Naughty By Nature is one of the only hip-hop acts that achieved massive mainstream success without defaulting on their street-cred. Also, these guys trumped Sid Vicious by wearing an even bigger lock around their necks- no luggage lock for these East Orange MCs, but a masterlock, the kind you'd lock your toolshed with so meth addicts wouldn't steal your belt sander.

They're playing at Southpaw in Brooklyn and it's a Women-In-Prison benefit though it probably will have very little to do with the movie Canned Heat. Have fun anyway!

8 pm doors/9 pm show

First Images from "The Goon" Animated Movie

Geeks of Doom has posted pics from the upcoming Goon animated movie, a.k.a. The Best Movie of All Time. It looks as if they're staying very true to the comic and Eric Powell's art. Man, these whet my appetite something fierce:

Tuesday, March 17, 2009 Interview with Tom DeFalco

In shameless-self-plugging department, I recently interviewed the great Tom DeFalco, creator of Spider-Girl and former Marvel Comics editor-in-chief, for Check it out here!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Robot Sweatshop - Episode 19: Street Fighter 4, Green Lantern, and Chris Has a Meltdown

In this episode of Robot Sweatshop, join Dan and Chris as they discuss Street Fighter 4, Green Lantern comics, All Star Superman and Batman RIP.

But be sure to stick around until the very end. (See the title of this episode.)

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Friday, March 13, 2009

Robot Sweatshop - Episode 18: The Barry Ludtnik Interview

In this special Friday edition of Robot Sweatshop, Dan gives a one-on-one interview with forgotten comics legend Barry Ludtnik. Ludtnik tells the story behind the creation of some of his better known characters, his pitch for Superman, his time with other comic greats, including Will Eisner, Stan Lee, and more.

Be sure to tune back in Monday for yet another new episode. ROBOT SWEATSHOP IS BACK!

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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Grant Morrison on "Batman and Robin"

In an update to yesterday's story, it has indeed been confirmed that Grant Morrison is writing the upcoming Batman and Robin, with long-time collaborator Frank Quitely handling the pencils. IGN caught up with Morrison and picked up some details on the story, including the fact that this Batman is not Bruce Wayne, and this Robin is not Time Drake. My guess: Dick Grayson is Batman, and brat-child Damien is Robin. Anyways:

IGN Comics: The most obvious question is perhaps the most routine – what can you tell us about your plans for the new Batman & Robin series? How would you describe the tone and feel of the book compared to your previous Batman arcs like "Batman & Son" or "R.I.P"?

Grant Morrison: 'Batman and Robin', which opens with the 3-part 'Batman Reborn' arc, is maybe more poppy, and more colourful, but it's also creepier. It's like David Lynch doing the Batman TV show. The story arcs are 4 short 3-part 'events', which combine to tell a longer, 12 part mystery.

IGN Comics: With the June relaunch of the Batman franchise comes a new Batman and a new Robin. DC will kill us for revealing their identities, but can you describe, as much as you can, the new relationship/chemistry between this Batman and Robin and how it would relate to previous Dynamic Duos?

Morrison: It's much more…contentious. This is a very different Batman and Robin team from any that we've seen before. It's almost a reverse of the traditional dynamic, with a more light-hearted and spontaneous Batman and a scowling, badass Robin. Expect fireworks and violence.

IGN Comics: We've chatted at length with you in the past about your plans for Batman and how you view your work on the series as a long novel. Despite this being a new series, do you view this as a direct continuation of the previous work or would you consider this the beginning of a new novel?

Morrison: This is the next book in what will be a 5-volume series beginning 'Batman & Son' but it can be read on its own too. 'Batman and Robin' welcomes new readers!

IGN Comics: Do you consider Batman & Robin, despite featuring new people under the mask, yet another lens on the life of Bruce Wayne?

Morrison: No, this isn't about Bruce Wayne at all, except in as much as it deals with his absence.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

"The Expendables... WHAT?"

My eyes popped out of my head today (sorry for the photo error, teh internets be damned).

1) Jet Li, Mickey Rourke, Dolph Lundgren, Forest Whitaker, and T
he Stath IN ONE MOVIE?
2) How have you Rourke lovers
(Dan, Mike) not said anything yet?
3) Plot on imdb: A team of mercenaries head to South America on a mission to overthrow a dictator.
4) ARNOLD is back!!!!!!!!!!!

From Empire's website:
"It is now official. With a cast including Jet Li, Mickey Rourke, Dolph Lundgren, Forest Whitaker and The Stath, Sylvester Stallone's The Expendables was sure to be one of the best action films ever made. But now, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed on to join the testosterone party, which seals the deal - that this will be the biggest and best movie to hit our screens in 2010.

Lest we forget that the ubiquitous mustachioed one, Danny Trejo is also rumoured to have signed on, no doubt as one of the South American drug cartel the band of mercenaries are sent in to quash. But Sir Ben Kingsley has apparently dropped out as their CIA contact - due to a feeling of comparative physical weediness perhaps? - with The Dark Knight's Eric Roberts taking his place.

The shoot will only take Governor Arnie away from his duties for one day, and he will of course be playing himself, so the political world can rest assured that their action hero won't be wandering too far into the undergrowth.
And that means we are now missing just three more names from our action hero tick list of fame. So, Bruce Willis, Jean-Claude Van Damme and Steven Seagal - get hold of Sly's number and join the gang. The Expendables needs you!"

Sister Anne - Free Show in NYC - March 13, 2009

So many moons ago I went to see those lovable ne'er-do-wells The Dwarves in Brooklyn, New York City, whose songs like "I Wanna Kill Your Boyfriend,"Fuck You Up and Get High," "Everybody's Girl," and "Gash Wagon" have entertained the seamier side of society for years. The surprising opener happened to be Sister Anne, a highly energetic female-fronted soul/punk/old-school R&B/rock outfit from Brooklyn, New York. Now maybe it was the prevalent Detroit sound soaking up the walls with steamy sassy rock 'n' roll goodness, or maybe it was their name paying homage to Detroit punk grandfathers The MC5, but the only word to describe this band (which has two bassists (hey, remember Ned's Atomic Dustbin?)) is "hi-octane." Seriously, vocalist Kitana evoked the spirit of Tina Turner but when she materialized she spit in my face, stomped my already broken foot with a stiletto heel, and then checked herself in the nearest mirror making sure her tri-hawk was untouched. Now maybe it's because I'll sign anything after one gin and tonic, but I somehow ended up on the band's mailing and list and lucky for me/bully for you, I was informed by electropost that the band is playing for free this Friday in Manhattan (a.k.a. where Ghostbusters was filmed). Moreover, there's an open bar from 9-10pm so don't be surprised if you end up on thirty mailing lists like yours truly.

A link to show...

A link to the band...

Dreams Do Come True: Frank Quitely on "Batman and Robin"

Batman and Robin, one of DC's new titles in the upcoming all-things-Batman relaunch, officially has an artist: the amazing Frank Quitely. And while it's not confirmed, it looks like his longtime collaborator and Robot Sweatshop favorite Gran Morrison will be writing. So says Newsarama:

In this week's Action Comics #875, early copies of which have already reached some reviewers, there are a couple of interesting revelations. First, the true identities of Nightwing and Flamebird are made clear, and there will be plenty of talk about that revelation to be sure, but on the last page of the issue, on the "DC Nation" page, the piece of art at right is shown. The art has since been identified as a page from issue #1 of a new title - Batman & Robin.

Clearly, the picture is by Frank Quitely and clearly, it shows Batman and Robin.

Dan DiDio's comments at the bottom of the image say, "We interrupt this week's DC Nation page to showcase some very special art for a very special new comic series....And for the title and the team, as we like to say in every DC Nation be continued."

Rumors have been floating for a while that Frank Quitely, along with Grant Morrison will be returning to Batman in the coming months, with Morrison himself telling Newsarama that he would be returning to the character "in June," and DiDio saying that another Morrison/Quitely pairing would be a very nice thing to see, indeed.

And now, DC has announced that Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely will team on Batman & Robin, a new seres starting in June. As DiDio be continued.

Quitely and Morrison last worked together on All Star Superman, which everyone on this planet should own. Having them together again could be something very special.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

New Comic from Famed Punk Musician Johnny X

It's not too often I can actually recommend a comic book that Danny hasn't heard of, so it is with humble pride that I TOTALLY TRUMP HIM by recommending the new series from punk hero/NJ statesman Johnny X, "The Life and Times of Savior 28." Johnny X is best known for his work in bands like Zero Zero, Sticks & Stones (a personal favorite - and former band of The World/Inferno Friendship Society's frontman Jack Terricloth) as well as his place in the lexicon of NJ punk heroes The Bouncing Souls (The Souls have a record called "The Johnny X Record"). Also he designed much of the band's artwork.

But on the printed page (and electronic page), Johnny X becomes not-so-mild-mannered Mike Cavalarro, the writer and artist behind the darkly whimisical 66kmph which expertly combines the major tenets of great comicdom: aliens, superpowers, punk rock, and New Jersey. He is also responsible for the bold two-part series "Parade with Fireworks," about 1920s war-torn Italy.

Samples of Mike's work are available for free online at ComicSpace but nothing beats buying it in print. The newest comic from Cavalarro is called "The Life and Times of Savior 28." Check out more here:

He is the first, and greatest, super hero: an American legend. But when tragedy forces Savior 28 to question the beliefs that have guided him for sixty years, his life unravels and his nation turns against him. By J.M.DeMatteis and Mike Cavallaro.

St. Marks Comics
in NYC is sure to have it so pick it up in print. Let your grandkids suffer in an all electronic megaworld, enjoy ink and paper before the government makes it illegal.

IGN: Wii's "MadWorld" is 'Outstanding'

Wii owners rejoice!

It looks like Nintendo's system is finally starting to get its share of must-have 3rd party games, and it's Sega, of all companies, that's leading the pack. First came last month's House of the Dead: Overkill, a lightgun shooter with a clever grindhouse movie presentation and solid gameplay; now comes the ultra-violent, Sin City-looking MadWorld.

IGN has just released its review of the innovative title, giving it a 9.0, and it sounds as if the hype surrounding MadWorld has been warranted:

I realize that not everybody will find MadWorld's unique visual and aural presentation appealing, but to me, the game is an instant collector's item and a Wii showpiece, not just for its amazing style, but for its label-busting content. Anybody who says Nintendo's console is just for kids will see things very differently after a few chainsaw- induced mutilations. More importantly, though, MadWorld does not place emphasis on style over gameplay, so there's plenty of fun, smart mechanics to back up the overwhelmingly slick look and sound of the title. You'll be floored by some of the scenarios that await you in the fast-moving beat-'em-up, surprised by the unexpectedly well-made storyline, and simultaneously grossed out and cracked up by all of the completely over-the-top gore. Even with some camera issues, some repetition, and a decidedly short single-player mode (if you play it on normal difficulty), SEGA and Platinum Games have still created Wii's first truly excellent game of the year.

I'm begging you, buy this game so that we'll see more like it.

No need to beg. I will be buying this! The good guys won.

And check out IGN's video review here. The game looks amazing.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Robot Sweatshop - Episode 17: Watching the Watchmen

Dan, Chris and special guest Jen sit down for a discussion on Watchmen, the film and the comic, minutes after seeing the movie for the first time. Dan has read the comic twice; Chris finished reading it literally just before seeing the film; and Jen has never seen or read even a panel of it.

Three points of view. But are there three different verdicts on the film? Listen and find out.

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Friday, March 6, 2009

Anime voice talent release punk covers CD

Woah! Totally insane. I gotta check this out...

Okay. Just watched it. Now what part of my Mikeness thought this would actually be something listenable and not part of some weird manga nightmare induced by taking too much of some bizarre future drug that is actually made up of tiny dissolvable microchips that also give me the ability to bite through steel and destroy crowded nightclubs with my bare hands? Wattie from Exploited must be turning in his grave. Oh wait, he's not dead yet?

Here's the track listing:

01 "Sex and Violence" Halko Momoi The Exploited
02 "Basket Case" Haruna Ikezawa Green Day
03 "White Riot" Kaori Shimizu The Clash
04 "Pretty Fly (For A White Guy)" Mai Kadowaki The Offspring
05 "Anarchy In The UK" Rie Tanaka SEX PISTOLS
06 "London's Burning" Yuko Goto The Clash
07 "Call Me" Halko Momoi Blondie
08 "God Save The Queen" Haruna Ikezawa SEX PISTOLS
09 "Blitzkrieg Bop" Kaori Shimizu Ramones
10 "Search and Destroy" Mai Kadowaki Iggy & The Stooges
11 "Ruby Soho" Rie Tanaka Rancid
12 "Smells Like Teen Spirit" Yuko Goto Nirvana

Awesome Alert: Customized Mighty Mugg X-Force Wolverine

While doing stupid internet searches to prolong the moment I had to go to sleep and thus get up for work, I found this: an awesome custom Marvel Mighty Mugg of Wolverine in his very cool X-Force costume. I would buy this in a second if it was actually produced. Nice job on the costume paint and a tasteful use of splattered blood.

The site, seemingly maintained by the mysterious RALPH, features some other pretty cool customs, including Kratos from God of War, Raphael from TMNT, and tons more. If only I was marginally creative!

Pre-Watching Watchmen Thoughts & Info

Tonight, a couple of us here at Robot Sweatshop will be going to check out this new flick everyone's been yammering about. What's it called? Oh yeah. "Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience." And we're PSYCHED.

No, wait. That's not it. It's called Watchmen. And now, a couple of things:

1) Check back on Monday for a brand new WATCHMEN SPECIAL podcast, featuring our thoughts on the graphic novel and the movie. (And probably some other junk.)

2) As for the graphic novel, I will say this before going in: I think it's brilliant, but I'm not precious about it like some fans (which I can understand). I was excited for Watchmen to be made AT ALL, and I really don't care if certain things get left out, changed a bit, or whatever. If it's a good movie and is a faithful adaptation -- and that's the key word, adaptation -- then I'll probably be happy. I'm not looking to see the graphic novel magically transformed into moving pictures. Just a solid movie made from some brilliant source material.

3) If you're tall -- and by that I mean taller than me -- please don't sit in front of me in the theater.

The Mii Lebowski

Happy Friday, everyone. (Thanks to Robot Sweatshop Superfan Mick for the link!)

Thursday, March 5, 2009

This Will Be Horrible #2: Kevin Smith's "Batman" Miniseries

Okay, maybe this technically shouldn't count as a "This Will Be Horrible" inductee since, well, it's already over. But forget that.

Kevin Smith's series, Batman: Cacophony, is something I passed on as soon as I picked it up and saw his name on the cover. The reason: everything Kevin Smith does is terrible (since Chasing Amy, anyways). (Jersey Girl and Clerks 2 take special honors as two of the worst movies I've ever paid to see.) But now I've decided that I WILL read it, and it WILL be horrible, because IGN's eviscerating review is tantalizing:

Smith's script hinges on a number of exceedingly stupid ideas, the chief of which being the notion that any number of medications could make the Joker rational for any amount of time. Accepting this impossible to swallow plot device is fairly critical to accepting the ridiculous conversation that acts as this story's conclusion, which is obviously a problem. More problematic is the fact that every emotional and intellectual beat that Smith attempts - and for the most part, fails - to hit is a dumbed down version of questions asked far more effectively in works like The Dark Knight and The Killing Joke, among many others.

But as stupid as this story may be, its complete lack of logic isn't even its biggest flaw. That honor would go to Smith's handling of the Joker, which is by far the single most painful take on the character I've ever encountered. Seriously. Ever. Every last word that comes out of the Joker's mouth in this issue made me cringe, and I can't ever remember wanting this particular character to disappear from a comic more. For a comedy writer who has made a career writing dysfunctional characters, Smith's complete inability to write an effective Joker is rather baffling. Nearly everything about his Joker is wrong, from the way he acts to the painfully unfunny dialogue he spouts to the way he looks.

But I'm curious...anyone out there read this heap 'a trash? What'd you think? Going further, does anyone out there actually still like Kevin Smith?

Excite Truck Sequel is Coming; Nintendo Nerds Rejoice

One of the best games at launch for the Wii was the crazy fun Excite Truck. Featuring tons of vehicles, great motion controls (you steer by tilting the Wiimote), and a really fun and rewarding tricks system, it's actually one of the more memorable racing games of the last few years.

While game sales were apparently disappointing and Nintendo had been mum on the possibilities of a sequel, it looks like one is coming: Excitebots: Trick Racing.

I have no idea what an Excitebot is, but as the Excite series has quietly become a solid home for frenetic arcade racing -- including the original Excitebike, Excitebike 64, and the aforementioned Excite Truck -- this is definitely something to be EXCITED about. (Funny? No? Hehe...sorry.)

Late to the Party Review: "Hellboy II: The Golden Army"

When the first Hellboy film came out, I was kind of surprised at how much acclaim it received. Everyone seemed to love it, but I was very "meh" about the whole thing. I thought Hellboy himself was kind of a snooze; Ron Perlman's zero-energy delivery was bo-ring, and with his cliched cigar chomping, beer guzzling and heart-of-gold, Hellboy just seemed like a Wolverine-lite. Plus, I thought the main human character -- the young agent assigned to watch HB, whatever his name was -- actually had negative charisma, if that's possible. Added to that was the weird humor that wasn't funny, boring villains, and a predictable story. Sorry, but I just didn't like that movie.

So, it goes without saying that I am shocked at how much I enjoyed Hellboy II: The Golden Army. This film seemed to correct all the wrongs of its predecessor: the annoying dude from the first movie is gone; Hellboy is actually kind of interesting; the villains are awesome and you even feel for them; the effects are fantastic; the humor works. The blend of the real-world with the fantastic -- trolls under the Brooklyn Bridge, fighting a monster in Manhattan -- made this a bit more fun than most superhero films. And there is a real feeling that every one of the main characters could die. Hellboy II raises the stakes, and just about everything else, over its predecessor. A really fun, weird and overall excellent film.

Now the real debate: was it better than The Dark Knight?

RS Grade: A

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Own the Holy Grail of Movie Memorabilia: Clifford's Suit

For those people who've seen it, they know of its brilliance. For those who haven't, they have a nagging sense that their lives are missing something. I'm talking, of course, about the Martin Short comedy, Clifford.

The premise: Martin Short plays a 10-year-old boy and drives his uncle, Charles Grodin, crazy. That is all you really need to know. The result is movie magic.

While checking ebay for a DVD copy (I suddenly realized that I NEEDED to own this, after not having seen it in about 14 years), I found something even better: the actual suit -- complete with shoes, shorts, jacket and shirt -- worn by Martin Short in the film. Here's the item description from the ALL-CAPS-WRITING seller:


And here's the suit, in all its weird glory:

This is definitely up there in my Reasons I Love The Internet list.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Green Lantern Animated Movie Coming to DVD; I Am Happy

Methinks that Marvel and DC might be onto something with this newfangled adult-oriented direct-to-DVD animated movie initiative they've both adopted. Marvel just released the pretty badass Hulk Vs. disc, DC has already churned out the surprisingly violent and exciting Superman: Doomsday, and now Green Lantern: First Flight is on its way.

While I think the Sinestro Corp. War (review coming soon!) saga would make an amazing animated feature, I'm all for DC continuing to push Hal Jordan as one of their biggest icons. (He is a personal favorite of mine.) First Flight will essentially be a Hal Jordan origin story, rated PG-13, and hopefully feature a very creepy Sinestro. But who knows. Here is the official press release, courtesy CBR:

Official Press Release

The fabric of intergalactic justice is threatened – until Hal Jordan arrives for his initial mission – in the animated Green Lantern: First Flight, the fifth entry in the popular DVD series of DC Universe Animated Original PG-13 Movies. A co-production of Warner Premiere, DC Comics and Warner Bros. Animation, the illuminated hero’s first-ever full-length animated film is set for release by Warner Home Video on July 28, 2009. Green Lantern: First Flight will be available as a special edition 2-disc version on DVD and Blu-Ray™ Hi-Def for $29.98 (SRP) and $34.99 (SRP), respectively, as well as single disc DVD for $19.98 (SRP). Order due date for all versions is June 23, 2009.

Acclaimed actor Christopher Meloni (Law & Order: Special Victims Unit) fills the lead voice of Hal Jordan aka Green Lantern. Meloni is joined by fellow Emmy Award nominee Victor Garber (Milk, Titanic) as the villainous Sinestro, Tricia Helfer (Battlestar Galactica) as the voice of Boodikka, and Michael Madsen (Reservoir Dogs) as Kilowog.

Produced by animation legend Bruce Timm, Green Lantern: First Flight is helmed by heralded director Lauren Montgomery (Wonder Woman, Superman Doomsday) and scripted by four-time Emmy Award-winning writer Alan Burnett (The Batman).

Green Lantern: First Flight finds Hal Jordan recruited to join the Green Lantern Corps and placed under the supervision of respected senior Lantern Sinestro. The earthling soon discovers his mentor is actually the central figure in a secret conspiracy that threatens the philosophies, traditions and hierarchy of the entire Green Lantern Corps. Hal must quickly hone his newfound powers and combat the treasonous Lanterns within the ranks to maintain order in the universe.

Green Lantern: First Flight - 2 Disc Special Edition versions will include incredible bonus features such as:

Over three hours of extra content
Two Featurettes
Digital Copy Download
Widescreen (1.78:1)

Two Episodes of Justice League hand-picked by animation legend Bruce Timm

Green Lantern: First Flight Blu-Ray versions will include all the great extras as the 2-disc

Special Edition as well as an additional two episodes of Justice League picked by Bruce Timm.

“Warner Premiere along with our partners at DC and Warner Home Video has enjoyed great success with the DC Universe titles, and we’re proud to present this first feature-length animated Green Lantern film,” said Diane Nelson, President, Warner Premiere. “‘First Flight’ is a compelling story and a great vehicle to tell this iconic character’s story to both new and longtime fans.”

“In all of his incarnations, Green Lantern has stood as a fan favorite, and Warner Home Video is excited to provide fans with the character’s first full-length animated adventure,” said Amit Desai, WHV Vice President of Family, Animation & Sports Marketing. “Green Lantern was the perfect hero to follow movies featuring Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and the entire Justice League.”

“Warner Bros. Animation is known for creating outstanding animated properties and has a legacy built upon some of the greatest characters ever imagined,” said Warner Bros. Television President Peter Roth, who also oversees television animation for the Studio. “Producer Bruce Timm and his creative team continue that rich tradition with this terrific DVD feature.”

“As one of the true core DC Super Heroes, Green Lantern has captured the imagination of pop culture enthusiasts with his illuminatingly human approach to justice throughout the universe,” said Gregory Noveck, Senior VP Creative Affairs, DC Comics. “Alan Burnett’s script captures the essence of DC’s canon of Green Lantern tales, and provides a fine launching point for future stories with this character.”

Apart from this animated release, Warner Bros. Pictures is currently in pre-production on a new “Green Lantern” theatrical motion picture, to be directed by Martin Campbell, bringing the popular DC Comics super hero to the big screen for the first time.

Marketing Support

Green Lantern: First Flight Single Disc, 2-Disc Special Edition and Blu-Ray will be extensively marketed with a national TV, online, print, and radio media campaign.


Green Lantern: First Flight - Single Disc
Street Date: July 28, 2009
Order Due Date: June 23, 2009
Languages: English and Spanish
Audio: Dolby Surround Stereo
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: Estimated 75 min.
Price: $19.98 SRP / No MAP
UPC: 882929069958

Green Lantern: First Flight – 2 Disc Special Edition
Street Date: July 28, 2009
Order Due Date: June 23, 2009
Languages: English and Spanish
Audio: Dolby Surround Stereo
Rating: PG-13
Runtimes: Disc 1 – Estimated 75 min.
Disc 2 – Estimated 180+ minutes
Price: $29.98 SRP / No MAP
UPC: 883929069941

Green Lantern: First Flight – Blu-Ray™ Hi-Def
Street Date: July 28, 2009
Order Due Date: June 23, 2009
Languages: English and Spanish
Audio: Dolby Surround Stereo
Rating: PG-13
Runtimes: Disc 1 – Estimated 75 min.
Disc 2 – Estimated 210+ minutes
Price: $34.99 SRP / No MAP
UPC: 883929070633

David Byrne crushes Radio City (at least once)... February 27, 2009

This is not my beautiful blog.

I had the opportunity to see jack-of-all-trades (but most notably a jack of music) David Byrne. What haven't I heard about this guy? He's a painter, a photographer, and the founder of his own internet radio station and world music label Luaka Bop (and this is the "less interesting" section of his resume). I think we can all agree we know David Byrne best from his days as frontman for the band David Byrne and the Hibyrnians. Wait,that's not right -correction: The Talking Heads. Personally, I remember being mildly creeped out by David Byrne first by his "She's Mad" in which David Byrne is CGI'd and made even more creepy than usual as he's both bashed by a giant hammer and had numerous objects broken upon him and then his big-suited self in Stop Making Sense. Musically, you can't much better than the already critically-acclaimed collaborations with Brian Eno. And I'm a critic... and I acclaim them even more!

Byrne put on a terrific show Friday night and earnestly emphasized "show" as part of the concert: Between the backup dancers, the choreographed dances he participated in himself, the light show, the color scheme, and the ridiculous encores in which both an army of tutu-d kids flooded the stage, only to be followed by a Rockettes-esque tribute dance act (there was one actual Rockette in the line), you really can't get much more for your forty bucks (cheap, right? I was up really high. In fact, if it wasn't for my lightweight spacesuit, I wouldn't have been able to groove at all). Byrne also delved into his Talking Heads catalog as you can see below. And while the crowd made collective eye-contact with one another in approval as he launched into the memorable hits, it was more important to note the recognition that songs like "Once in a Lifetime" were more than appropriate in a year like this.

Unfortunately, my pictures aren't nearly as good as others from the internet so just look at them later on better, richer blogs at your own leisure. Here is some video I took with my Canon PowerShot - while it's a little murky, that hasn't stopped me from showing every single person I've encountered since the show.


Strange Overtones
I Zimbra
One Fine Day
Help Me Somebody
Houses In Motion
My Big Nurse
My Big Hands (Fall Through The Cracks)
Poor Boy
Life Is Long
The River
Crosseyed and Painless
Born Under Punches
Once In A Lifetime
Life During Wartime
I Feel My Stuff

Enc. 1
Take Me To The River
The Great Curve

Enc. 2
Burning Down The House

Enc. 3
Everything That Happens

Monday, March 2, 2009

Sort of a Review: Noby Noby Boy

Describing the concept of Noby Noby Boy for the Playstation 3 is similar to describing what it is like to watch Unicorns making love with Leprechauns video taping. It just isn’t possible until you see it first hand. While I will try my hardest to explain what the hell is going on (at least from my point of view), you will want to plunk the five bucks down and actually play the title in the long run.

Created by Keita Takahashi, creator of the sleeper hit turned big time sellout hit Katamari Damacy, you find yourself in a world with a similar flat polygon style. You take the role of BOY, a four legged creature that seems to be made up of two pink balls. With the front half being controlled with the left analog stick and the rear legs controlled with the right analog stick, you are able to move each half independently to stretch out as far as possible. (picture the old snake cell phone game, but you get bigger just by walking in opposite directions).

Now here is the game: you stretch out as far as possible on the map. Go wild, wrap around objects (be careful not to snap) climb through buildings, weave your way through windows. Your goal is to stretch out, submit your length stretched to SUN who then delivers it GIRL who is stretching in space with the length scores submitted to everyone playing the game on PSN. As girl stretches, she reaches new planets (as of this moment, the MOON was reached in 4 days) which unlock new randomly generated levels to be created with new objects to interact with. Oh and you can also eat the people, plants, random objects you come in contact with and fart them out with the R2 button.

Now keep in mind this is all I have figured out so far. I am still not sure if that is the concept of the game.

What really is going to pull you in or push you as far away from the game is the style. As someone who is sick and tired of photorealistic textures, mutli-arcing storylines, extravagant controls and learning curves, Noby Noby Boy comes as a welcome relief (yet I still play those other games). Simple non textured, colored polygons: check. A lot of crazy stuff going on at once: double check. Twisted soundtrack and effects: triple check. The ability to eat things and then fart them out: we have a winner here. Fans of Katamari’s simple shaded/colored polygons and character designs (me) will feel right at home here. The style is so similar that you may even see some crossovers from the game appear in BOY’s world.

Controls are primarily your two analog sticks for movement and the L2 and R2 buttons for eating, farting, jumping. You can also lift objects but I haven’t figured out how to do it yet. Some pretty slick physics and gameplay techniques are used to allow BOY to interact with just about anything on the screen. The camera is controlled primarily with the L1 and R1 buttons and SIXAXIS controller movements to turn or zoom (and these controls aren’t super sensitive like in other games).

A nice compliment to Noby Noby Boy are all of the PS3 specific features that the game takes advantage of. You already have the aforementioned SIXAXIS controls, but you also have the ability to take in game screenshots (I know for 90% of you that means absolutely nothing to you). Another cool feature is the ability to record in game videos of you doing stuff and save it to your PS3 or upload it directly to YouTube. The videos I have in this review are all taken using the in game recorder. It may not mean much now, but start thinking of the possibilities with this feature in other titles. The sooner it starts getting supported, the better. There are also 12 trophies that are completely unknown for you to unlock. Having the whole game be a collaborative project over PSN is a nice touch as well.

On the Playstation Network, thankfully there is a semi decent range of independent titles to buy. While sometimes it seems that it may not have the quantity of Xbox Live or even Wii Shop (Virtual Console titles are games too), it is nice to see unique, original titles like Noby Noby Boy become exclusives for the network. While it isn’t going to sell systems, it is definitely a nice bonus and at five bucks the game makes a great cheap diversion to Killzone 2 and Street Fighter 4.

Cinematic Titanic Live in Boston

Our love of all things Mystery Science Theater 3000 on this site is well documented, and that love definitely includes Cinematic Titanic, MST3K creator Joel Hodgson's new B-movie riffing venture. For Cinematic Titanic, Joel gathered several MST3K vets, including Trace Beaulieu (Crow, Dr. Forrester), Frank Conniff (TV's Frank), Mary Jo Pehl (Pearl Forrester), and J. Elvis Weinstein (the original Tom Servo). It's been great to have them back, wits as sharp, biting and hilarious as ever.

Cinematic Titanic visited The Somerville Theatre in Boston on February 20th and 21st as part of a live riffing mini-tour; we deemed this Too Awesome To Miss, and made the trek from Brooklyn for the Saturday show. The movie being riffed, as we learned right before it began, was a '70s Kung Fu-sploitation wonder called The Dynamite Brothers. It was racist and nonsensical and features a scene where one dude handcuffed to another manages to somehow take his shirt off. 'Nuff said.

I was curious as to how it would feel to see movie riffing done before an audience -- after all, MST3K and Cinematic Titanic are relatively quiet shows -- and whether or not it would really work.

But I need not have worried; in short, it was hysterical and an overall awesome experience. The theater was packed (I'm guessing it was sold out), and the audience was among the warmest I've ever seen. We were laughing at the riffs and at the movie itself; best of all, we got to meet the whole cast after the show, all of whom were insanely nice and took time to chat, take pictures, and sign autographs. Photo report below -- but in case you were wondering -- Cinematic Titanic live scores an easy A.

The Somerville Theatre marquee. This was a beautiful, old fashioned theater with a very warm look and feel. It was just the type of place we were hoping it would be in our pre-show, overly-excited, geeky discussions.

Inside the lobby a few minutes before showtime. The place was packed.

Comedian David "Gruber" Allen -- you might know him as the guidance counselor from Freaks and Geeks -- warms up the crowd. Dave's not a member of the Cinematic Titanic crew, but has appeared in some episodes, and was awesome.

J. Elvis Weinstein took the stage, armed with a bass, and performed a routine with Dave about a radio station that only plays the catchiest moments of songs for our short-attention span culture. The name of the station? K-ADD, of course!

Next up, Frank Conniff -- who I think is possibly one of the funniest people alive -- greets the crowd.

Joel received the biggest ovation, and even brought with him an invention exchange: a small sampler that only plays "Happy Together," torn out of a Valentine's Day card. When played by one's zipper, it creates a "party in your pants." Genius. The Mads could never top that one!

The lights go down before the Cinematic Titanic crew does what they do best.

At the end of the show, the cast bowed to a standing ovation. But they weren't done! For an encore, they performed "a best of Cinematic Titanic" to clips of the show's funniest moments, with scenes taken from every Cinematic Titanic episode. Even watching them out of context, it was very, very funny.

The line forms, which I'm all but sure included the entire #$@%ing audience, for the post-show meet-and-greet. (It actually moved at a pretty decent clip, and everyone was really friendly.)

The aforementioned line keeps going.

We finally make it to meet-and-greet area, catch a glimpse of the cast...

...and are psyched.

Me and the great Trace Beaulieu. Trace was really, really nice, and took time to actually ask me about my shirt. Are all Minnesotans this cool? (We're not used to things like "eye contact" and "friendly conversation" here in Brooklyn.)

Joel and Frank with a very happy fan. The end!