Friday, November 28, 2008

Exfanding Review: Forbidden Planet

In the summer after either my Sophomore or Junior year of college, I decided to begin exposing myself to movies I had never seen that were considered classics, referenced frequently by my friends and the media, or just appealed to me for entertainment's sake.

As you surely know by now if you've been following the blog, I'm a big science fiction nut. So, it was only a matter of time before my trips through the movie stacks at the local library led me to...

Forbidden Planet movie posterForbidden Planet! Amazing, indeed!

Forbidden Planet is the story of a group of space travelers from Earth who are sent to planet Altair IV to discover the reason for the communications silence from the Earth colonists there. What they find is... not what they expected.

Forbidden Planet feels like the original Star Trek meets The Twilight Zone. There's action, mystery, a bit of humor here and there, and some thought-provoking ideas. Those familiar with the works of Shakespeare will also notice more than a little of The Tempest throughout.

I was truly impressed by the quality of the special effects, especially given that the movie was made in 1956. The movement and landing of the Earth crew's flying saucer is remarkably fluid, the laser fire looked nearly as good as the blaster fire from the original Star Wars, and the various other special effects were all very well done and hold up better than even some big-name sci-fi special effects from the 80s do.

The acting is generally pretty good; the dialogue is hardly embarrassing; and the sets and filming locations may look a touch outdated at times but are usually very convincing. The music, however, was one of my favorite aspects of the movie: eccentric synth that feels truly alien, giving the film a unique sound that I've rarely heard elsewhere, and completing the effect that the story is, pardon the expression, out-of-this-world.

The film also marks the first appearance of Robby the Robot, who has held major roles and made cameos in a multitude of other sci-fi works, including The Twilight Zone, Lost in Space, Mork & Mindy, Space Quest I (VGA remake), and Star Wars: Episode I, just to name a few.

Also worth noting is that the commander of the flying saucer is a young and vaguely awkward Leslie Nielsen.

Yes, that Leslie Nielsen. The one from Airplane! and The Naked Gun and the Scary Movie... movies.

Forbidden Planet comes highly recommended. It's fun to watch if you're into space and robots and whatnot; it's a notable piece of cinema history for film buffs; and it's a sci-fi classic that has influenced the likes of Star Trek and that continues to be referenced in other works of science fiction to this day.

Forbidden Planet spaceship landing

[Movie poster from Flying saucer image from]

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Turkey Day Excuses

As heartbreaking as this may sound, EYH is going on a little holiday break. We'll definitely be back on Friday, though our weekend coverage may be light or nonexistent.

We promise to be back in full force on Monday, and I'll hopefully get around to finishing HTML work on the blog by then.

Once again, check out all the crazy links in our sidebar to pass the time. Our blogroll is beefier than ever.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Welcome Back to the Jungle

One subject that I've had regrettably little time to write about here on the blog is music. For, you see, I am a music junkie, and one day, I'll write a lengthy post about that particular fandom. But, for today, with deadlines at work looming during this holiday-shortened week, I'll briefly discuss a topic I've been trying to avoid for some time, now.

I guess I should start off by saying that I am an unabashed Guns N' Roses fanatic, and I still hold to my (circa-1996) argument that, if the Gunners stayed together, while they wouldn't be hoisted upon the same pedestal as the Beatles, they would be spoken of in the same breath as the Rolling Stones.

So, yes, I am a Guns N' Roses fan. And, yes, one of my AOL screen names in the late 90s may have had the letters g, n, and r in it. And maybe an f.



Anyway, the reason I mention all this is because this past weekend saw the release of the long (read: looooooong)-awaited and long-rumored new Guns N' Roses album, entitled Chinese Democracy. Since the time work on the album began in 1994, the original band broke up, and uh, well...a lot of history has taken place.

I mean, it's been almost 15 years!

But, now, finally, there is a new Guns N' Roses album. Sort of. Slash and Izzy and Matt and Duff aren't involved, and Steven Adler is currently on the MTV reality show Celebrity Rehab, so to say this is a bona fide Guns album might be a bit of a stretch for some.

But, things like this happen all the time in the music industry, and Axl Rose owns the name and copyright to the band. So, this is just the latest incarnation of Guns N' Roses--a band that has seen some changes in the past.

Which brings me to my point. The album was released on Sunday, and though I have been aching for a new Guns album for years, I still haven't bought Democracy. And it's not because I can't get over the fact that the original members aren't involved. If that was my hang-up, I wouldn't have bought anything post-Appetite for Destruction, since Steven had left by then.

No, the reason I haven't bought the album is because I...just don't want it to be bad. I don't think I could handle another bad GnR record (anyone remember The Spaghetti Incident?)

I'll buy Democracy eventually. Of that, I'm sure. But, for now, I am content in the knowledge that there is a new Guns album out there in the world.

Somehow, that makes everything seem right.

Monday, November 24, 2008

D&D Miniatures: Multipurpose molded midgets

I am a collector. While some people collect stamps or spoons or Danny Bonaduce memorabilia, I collect something far more practical.

I collect little plastic figurines.

Dungeons & Dragons miniatures achieve a perfect balance of form and function, and I collect them just as much to display them as to use them to represent the various entities appearing in my D&D campaigns.

D&D minis come in all shapes and sizes, their designs usually influenced by artwork found in the various rulebooks. The photo below represents a very small sampling of the different kinds of minis out there.

D&D Miniatures collection

D&D miniatures have come a long way since the first set was released in 2003. D&D minis have always been relatively durable, but the quality of the paint has improved over the years, and experimentation with different kinds of plastic has allowed for more complex and stylized miniatures.

Take, for example, the evolution of how fire and beings made of fire have been represented in miniature format. From older...

Older fire-themed D&D newer:

Newer fire-themed D&D Miniatures
Miniatures as a practical thing

These minis were originally designed as a part of the D&D Miniatures Game. All you need are rules, a playing map, and the statistic cards that come with each miniature (and a handful of minis, of course), to play. I've never played it, but you can go here for a tutorial and taste of what that's like.

However, it seems that most people don't use their minis to play the Miniatures Game.

When running a game of D&D, I like to draw a map of whatever dungeon, cave, or Ye Olde Shoppinge Malle the players happen to be exploring. I use the crude "marker on a whiteboard" mapmaking style, but there are far more sophisticated methods out there. Each player has a miniature to represent his or her character's location on the map; monsters and other characters that I control are also placed on the map.

D&D Miniatures in actionThough exact distances between characters is always a little fuzzy on the whiteboard, it's always fun to watch the players collectively smack their respective foreheads when they realize that their characters are now standing in a small clump as a wizard conjures a very large anvil in the air above them.

Of course, you could just use dice or Skittles to represent the characters (the latter is especially effective when characters tumble into the maw of a famished dragon), but miniatures actually look like the characters they represent, except when the only miniature you have that's big enough to represent beholders, giants, and gelatinous cubes is a big, funny bird.

Displaying and storing miniatures

Depending on how large your collection is and how often you use your miniatures for something other than decoration, storing your miniatures can be tricky. Here are a few different ways to display and store your minis:

Curio cabinet: This is probably the most ideal way to store any sizable collection. Not only can you have all of your beautiful (and hideous) minis on display at all times, but you can organize them by type (spellcasters, super-big monsters, etc.) and easily pick out the ones you need when involved in a campaign. Putting them back in the proper order afterwards can be a pain, but that's perhaps the only drawback of storing minis this way.

Shoebox: If you use your minis on a regular basis and don't want to be bothered carefully rearranging them every time you put them back, a shoebox is a perfect place to store everything. Minis are generally sturdy enough to handle being piled on top of one another and shuffled around, though this is somewhat impractical if you have a number of larger minis.

If your collection is big enough, consider expanding to multiple shoeboxes, possibly dividing your collections into themes. For example, I have a shoebox for minis such as knights and wizards that my players might use to represent themselves, and a shoebox for minis such as succubi and monitor lizards that usually represent the critters that are more often lit on fire and impaled in combat with my players' characters.

Bookshelf or table: If you don't have a curio cabinet or if your bigger minis especially don't fit comfortably into shoeboxes, placing your minis out in the open is always a viable option if you've got the space for it. The biggest trouble is that smaller minis can get knocked over and lost very easily this way, especially if you've got a cat or a rogue hamster on the loose.

Collecting miniatures

Wizards of the Coast continues to produce a new set of D&D minis every few months or so. A pack of 8 randomized minis costs about $15, and sets such as Against the Giants that instead have 7 randomized normal-sized minis and one oversized mini in a box cost around $22 or so. You can typically buy these at a bookstore such as Borders or Barnes & Noble, and possibly at your local hobby or comics shop.

However, due to the flagging popularity of the D&D Miniatures Game and the prevailing usage of minis as avatars in the D&D Roleplaying Game, mini packages will no longer be fully randomized, saving collectors a considerable amount of hassle to obtain complete sets or duplicates of particular miniatures necessary for a quest involving, say, a local uprising of dozens of farmers and their flat pigs.

Like everything else these days, you can also buy booster packs and individual minis from sets both new and old online. Depending on the age and rarity, a single miniature might run anywhere from $0.25 to $80.00, though most of the ones I've seen have gone for between $1.00 and $20.00.

You can check out the complete gallery of each miniatures set here so that you know exactly what's out there.

Lastly, there are a few "miniatures" that are available individually as part of the D&D Icons line for around $30 on the lower end and $130 on the absurd end. The gargantuan blue dragon in the photograph at the top of this post is part of this line, but perhaps the most impressive one is the colossal red dragon that, I kid you not, stands twice as tall as the blue dragon:

D&D Icons Colossal Red DragonNote the difference in size between the roughly one-foot-tall dragon and the two average-height thumb-sized minis in the picture. My girlfriend says this dragon isn't a miniature, preferring to call it a "scaled model."

Hur hur hur...

D&D Icons Colossal Red Dragon This is so much cooler than Danny Bonaduce memorabilia.

[Images of fire-related minis compiled from images at All other images by Flashman85.]

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Weebl and Bob: Ridiculous lowbrow comedy

Weebl & Bob collage of charactersI believe you need a bit of patience and an appreciation of one or more of the following to enjoy Weebl and Bob: silliness, British humour, catchy music, and jokes about bodily functions and certain notable body parts.

The more of these three you appreciate, the more you will likely enjoy and laugh at Weebl and Bob, a long-running series of short Flash animations featuring two anthropomorphic egg-shaped creatures (Weebl and Bob) who crave pie and often embark on ridiculous ventures to (unsuccessfully) obtain and eat pie.

Like Homestar Runner, Weebl and Bob has a large cast of supporting characters, ranging from a well-spoken monkey to a hallucinogenic banana to Chris the Ninja-Pirate.

This all sounds completely ridiculous out of context, but when viewed in context... it's just as ridiculous.

I say that the best way to get into the series is to start with the first episode and to watch everything in chronological order, or at least the first five or ten episodes before skipping ahead.

However, if that doesn't suit you, allow me to suggest a few episodes that you can jump right into; just be warned that you very well might be offended, disgusted, or tickled pink by what you'll see if you watch long enough:

- "pikea," in which Weebl and Bob attempt to visit PIKEA (parody of IKEA)

- "Raiders of the Lost Goo,"a parody of Raiders of the Lost Ark made in association with the Cadbury Creme Egg folks

- "snails," in which Weebl and Bob check out snail racing

- "satire" and "rally," which make light of the 2008 Presidential election

[Image compiled by Flashman85 from various toons at]

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Star Wars Decision

Our poll results are in, and the overwhelming sentiment is that Alex should watch the original 1977 version of Star Wars.

So, unless Alex seriously wants to see the re-releases, we will follow the will of the masses and watch the original versions of Episodes V and IV.


I'm going to make a case for the 2004 DVD release of Episode IV, and I welcome any cogent and constructive counter-comments defending the original.

Before I go any further, let me provide two links that might aid your counterarguments. The first is a Wikipedia entry of some of the more notable changes between the original and the 2004 release. The second is a bit more nitpicky comparison, but with pictures.

Here's the scoop: Alex has tried to watch Star Wars before. He never made it past the first 15 minutes. Space just isn't his favorite place to be.

If this were my child we were talking about, seeing Star Wars at an early age before really knowing anything about it, I would show him or her the original version without question.

But Alex already knows all the big important stuff. The major plot twists. Characters like Jabba the Hutt. That element of surprise, and the thrill of discovering the Star Wars universe for the first time are absent, or else he wouldn't have gone so long without watching any of the movies all the way through.

If the plot, the characters, and the concepts of Star Wars didn't hook him, then Alex will need all the whiz-bangery George Lucas can muster to maximize whatever fleeting enjoyment he'll get out of this movie.

On a strictly visual level, the quality of the 2004 DVD release is top notch. Compare the first image from the 1977 film with the second image from the 2004 restoration:

Original Star Wars film quality sampleStar Wars Special Edition film quality sampleAnd that's just a landscape.

Purists argue that some or all of the CGI introduced in the 1997 Special Edition hurt the film. The 2004 version cleaned up everything, including the CGI, and changed things here and there that were sticking points for those disappointed or outraged by the '97 release.

However, I acknowledge that not everything in the Special Edition that caused a stir among fans was corrected in 2004, and in a few cases some things were made worse. You know Han shot first. I know Han shot first. We all know Greedo didn't shoot at all.

Does Alex really care? I doubt it. If anything, it'll be entertaining to see his reaction to how the 2004 version attempted to fix this problem without really fixing it.

Are some of the additional scenes unneccesary? Perhaps, sure. But unlike the additions in Empire and Jedi that made significant changes to the film in order to establish a better continuity with the prequels, the additional scenes in A New Hope will be, at worst, just another scene for Alex to complain about when he determines that the best part of the movie was when I shut it off.

I'm not hosting a "Classic American Cinema" course. I'm not trying to lure Alex into being a Star Wars fan or a Star Wars purist. I'm just trying to show him a film that is significant to American culture and an incalcuable portion of the population in the format that I believe he will find most palatable.

I don't forsee him ever watching Star Wars again or even liking the franchise at all, though it is possible--however unlikely--that I might find a weakness and exploit it to help him discover some small shred of enjoyment in it.

I'm banking on that weakness being pretty colors and beefed-up explosions.

The 2004 DVD release might not be perfect. But I would rather show Alex a less-than-perfect version that he sorta almost likes and has a minute appreciation for than a perfect or practically perfect version that he can't stand and doesn't appreciate.

I welcome your counterarguments.

[Images from]

And It's For a Good Cause

For those who might be interested in such things, there is a very cool auction currently taking place on eBay, run by the CBLDF. There are some great items up for sale (many having to do with Neil Gaiman's Sandman series), and, as the title to this post insinuates, the proceeds go to a great, great cause.

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, or CBLDF, is an organization devoted to protecting the First Amendment rights of comics creators and retailers.

The Fund pays legal fees for writers, artists, and retailers who are being unfairly prosecuted because of the content of their comic books. Or, in the (frightening) case of several retailers over the years, for the selling of "questionable content."

Whatever that means.

Over the years, the CBLDF has done great work in the fight against censorship. High profile creators like Neil Gaiman, Dave Sim, and Frank Miller are great advocates of the organization and have worked on its behalf.

If you've been to conventions over the past several years, you've undoubtedly seen the CBLDF booth, with items from many different creators available for sale--all proceeds going to the Fund, of course. I always make an effort to stop by the booth at a show, and even if I don't buy anything, I make sure to leave a donation.

In any case, the auction closes in a couple of days, and who knows? You might find something interesting up for sale. And, remember:

It's for a good cause!

Enjoy the weekend, everyone.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Under Construction

No real post today because I'm trying to get a new style and layout for the blog hammered out, which is difficult because I need to teach myself HTML as I go.

Please comment on yesterday's post (slackers) and pardon the delay and possible funky appearance as I try things out.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Your Turn: Movie Trailer Opinion

Here's the deal for today: watch the movie trailer below (if you haven't seen it already) and leave a comment with your opinion on the trailer. I'm interested to know what you think.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

DC's Final...Uh...Latest...Crisis

Well, some big news today and yesterday about creator/editorial problems within the DC Comics offices. According to several well-regarded comics sources (most notably at this link, reported by Rich Johnston) writers Grant Morrison and James Robinson are none too happy with Executive Editor Dan DiDio.

Now, we are not a rumor-mongering site, nor do we want to be one, but I honestly think this is a comics news topic worth mentioning. I won't go much further into it, but if you're a comics fan we thought you'd find the link interesting. (Seriously, go read it.)

As for my own two cents:

Well, as an editor by trade, I tend to side with editorial. But, in the case of Grant Morrison (writer of DC's big event comic Final Crisis), it seems to me DC knew exactly what they were going to get from him, especially since he pitched the project with a specific ending in mind.

Now it seems that DC Editorial wants to change that ending, which is very much in their right as the publisher, but the change is going to greatly affect all of the Final Crisis tie-in books.

Which means more delays from DC. Which means less comics for you and me. Which means less sales for retailers. Which means...


In any case, to be fair, I hope DC is able to hammer out the problems they're having. As I've said, I feel as though Final Crisis is, while sometimes incredibly baffling, a very solid and entertaining comic book story.

Let's hope they are able to fix the problems in a somewhat timely manner, so retailers aren't stuck with late(r)-shipping product from one of the two main comics publishers this holiday season.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Comics, the Recession, and You

Let’s face it—everything is pretty awful right now. The Stock Market scares me, the decline of the automobile manufacturers scares me, the fact that I haven’t seen Paris Hilton on television for the past several months scares m—wait, no. Scratch that.

Maybe things are looking up!

OK, they’re not. Looking up, that is. But, for less than a gallon of gas (in most places, anyway) you can buy a comic book. Wait—what? The price of gas has gone down, you say? So comics are once again more than a gallon of gas? Ah.

Well, then.

For just about twice what you pay for a gallon of gas, you can buy a comic book. Which admittedly, is still pretty OK. And, from various conversations I’ve had with some customers at my LCS, it seems like people are still quite happy to spend the dough on comics, even if it means having to slash the weekly budget somewhere else. (Hopefully not the cable.)

And, I think, that is why comics are a recession-proof industry. Remember, we’re talking about an art form that emerged out of the Great Depression, when cheap entertainment ruled the marketplace.

Today, unfortunately, we are once again looking at some hard times. And, again, people are turning towards cheap(er) forms of entertainment. Comics still fit that bill pretty well.

Now, I know comics prices have skyrocketed in the past decade, and they will undoubtedly rise again in the near future, but when compared to other entertainment products, well...comics are once again king.

Face it, going to the movies has become a downright luxury these days. And, while it is very possible to spend a small fortune at the comics shop every Wednesday, buying a graphic novel (or four or five single issues) for just about the same price as a single movie ticket just seems to make more sense to me.

But, that's just me.

Now, despite my own rosy outlook on things, I do know of one comics shop in my area that closed its doors recently. And that leads me to my main concern.

What I am really interested in (and more than a little nervous about) is whether or not the comics industry is going to take a hit over this holiday season. Which, I guess, is already upon us according to the giant Christmas display in my local mall.

Now, I think the vast majority of American families are going to curtail spending this year. The real question for the comics industry in general (but the direct market specifically) will likely be whether or not the diehard fans will curtail Wednesday spending in order to buy gifts for others.

Putting aside a few of the diehards that every shop has, I think the overwhelming answer to that question is going to be "yes." Which means shops are going to take a hit over the holidays. Which is always a bad thing. But, in this economic climate, a holiday hit after a year of hits could spell the end for some stores.

So, I'll end this post by repeating my favorite mantra:

Support your local LCS! And remember, a comics-related gift (from your local LCS!) can make a great gift for family or friends. And, if you have to buy a gift for a comics fan, a great way to go is a gift certificate to the shop of his or her choice.

Well, that's all for now. We'll be back tomorrow with more delicious, delicious Exfanding.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Exfanding Review: Quantum of Solace

Quantum of Solace movie posterThis weekend I saw the new James Bond movie, Quantum of Solace. QoS picks up shortly after where its predecessor, Casino Royale, left off.

If you've been out of the movie loop for a while, Casino Royale was essentially a "franchise reboot," starting an entirely new continuity of 007 films. It's still got the same basic premise of British superspy James Bond going around the world, blowing things up, killing people, and kicking bad guy butt, but you might be surprised at how serious, realistic (by comparison), gritty, violent, and morally ambiguous the reboot is.

My significant other suggests that Daniel Craig's James Bond is a hitman who only happens to become romantically involved with women, as opposed to the Bonds of yore who were smooth operators who happened to dispatch some thugs from time to time. Consider the difference between the Batman played by Christian Bale in The Dark Knight and any other Batman who came before him; that's more or less what's going on here.

At any rate, this was purported to be a review of Quantum of Solace, so I'll give it to you in abridged format because I've rambled on too much already. (Possible minor spoiler alert.)

What to expect: A series of big action scenes strung together by just enough plot to give the film a direction. By far the most action-packed and least twisty Bond film I can think of.

What I liked: I normally have some difficulty wrapping my head around the plot of any given bond movie (I don't think my brain is configured properly for the intrigue typical of spy movies), but this one was pretty straightforward; the action sequences were appropriately action-packed, and the final action sequence in particular was extremely memorable and well-executed; the redhead was kinda cute.

What I wasn't so fond of: Though I'm a sucker for good action sequences, I'm all about the characters. However, Bond was (understandably) hollow the entire film, and as a result, the interactions between him and other characters almost (emphasis on almost) always lacked... character. Consequently, it felt like an above-average mindless action movie that featured some guy by the name of James Bond.

The main "Bond girl" didn't stand out at all to me for her characterization or... well, that's all we consider when thinking about a Bond girl, right? Anyhow, she seemed mostly there to help direct the plot. The other supporting characters were at least decent if not good, but they ultimately didn't matter as much as they could have because the movie was about action more than it was about them.

And, though the action sequences were good, the shaky camera took away made the action harder to follow, and there were very few "Oh, so cool!" moments. The film was also saturated with chase scenes, which I don't mind, but am not overly fond of.

Lastly, QoS lacked a few of the elements that one comes to expect from a Bond movie. There are no cool gadgets. Not once does he say, "Bond. James Bond." Normally, I might be willing to overlook these omissions because this is, after all, a different direction for the Bond franchise. The problem is that these omissions are accompanied by a mostly flavorless Bond and a fairly thin plot, so there's often nothing to identify that this is a James Bond movie and not a Bourne ripoff or a big-budget, no-name, mindless action flick.

Conclusion: Watch Casino Royale first, and if you liked it at all or just like action movies, go see QoS. I liked the film well enough, but the action sequences and characters didn't draw me in as far as I would have liked, and there wasn't much to distinguish it from any other action film.

[Read the follow-up re-review, if you're interested.]

Saturday, November 15, 2008

No time to write!

Unexpectedly little time to write today, so I'll leave you with a very quick, sweet, and Bambi-eyed petition to check out the links in our sidebar; we've added to the blogroll, and we've put up a list of other sites that we like, a few of which we've mentioned before.

Sorry; it's tough to write anything long and interesting without having a head.

Friday, November 14, 2008

I Don't Like Space

You should have seen the look on Nathaniel's face when I told him that I've never seen Star Wars. Let me tell you, it was classic. I don't remember the context of the conversation, or where we were, nor do I remember why Star Wars was even mentioned.

Perhaps Nathaniel made a "Han shot first" joke, and I was the only one not laughing.

Whatever the case may have been, I do remember his reaction. And, if his head could have would have.

After an uncomfortable amount of silence, finally, he managed to mutter, meekly, "why not?" And my answer was a simple one. And an honest one.

"I don't like space."

Flabbergasted as he was by my earlier proclamation of not having seen any of the movies, well, this comment sent him over the edge. And, this time, his head exploded.

Right there, on the spot.

And that's why, for the past two weeks, this blog has been peppered with posts by yours truly and an android that replaced the aforementioned and (now) woefully headless Nathaniel.

Bad, bad jokes aside, I have really never seen Star Wars. I did try watching the first movie once, and I had to turn it off after about 15 minutes because, as I've said, I do not like space.

I don't like airplanes, and I am what one would politely call a "bad flier." One would impolitely call me a "mental case" when I get on a plane. That said, flying higher than an airplane normally takes a person is just plain terrifying to me.

Now, that's not to say that I don't like space travel, mind you, because I am all for scientific advancement. I just don't want to be told too much about it.

It's kinda like, for example, I enjoy looking at the ocean. From a distance. But, I'm of the mind that all bodies of water that aren't neighborhood pools are shark-infested, and anyone who ventures out into them is All-Star-Batman-crazy.

And that's how I feel about space. So, to me, the possibility of having to sit through three movies that take place entirely in space...just doesn't sound like a day at the ballpark, if you know what I mean.

But, promises are promises, and since I lost a bet Nathaniel and I had a few weeks ago, I now have to sit down and watch Star Wars. The bet, for those interested in such things (and who wouldn't be!) went something like this:

If this here humble little blog-thingy reached 1,000 hits by the end of the calendar year, then I'd have to watch Star Wars. If we didn't reach the 1,000 hit mark by December 31, then Nathaniel would have had to sit down and read the entire run of The Goon comic series. (Possibly with me acting out a couple of scenes.)

Now, I think he should read The Goon anyway, since I think that everyone should read The Goon. Because, as I may have mentioned in the past, The Goon is Greatness. But, alas, I've lost, so now I can look forward to--wait, how many movies are there?


When the heck did that happen?

You have got to be kidding me.

If Nathaniel gets his way, expect a post about my Star Wars experience in the not too distant future. If I get my way...well, don't hold your breath.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Star Wars: A universe too big for you NOT to find something to like

Not everybody likes stories set in outer space.

Perhaps it's the aliens or spaceships or laser guns that tend to appear in such stories. Maybe it's the often-questionable physics of various people's ideas of space travel, or the impenetrable technobabble that usually goes along with the futuristic technology necessary for survival in space. Or it could be that there just aren't enough elves, dwarves, crime scene investigators, or game show hosts in outer space.

If space isn't your thing, that's okay. But don't give up on Star Wars because of it.

And when I say "Star Wars," I'm not just referring to the 1977 film. I'm referring to all the films. I'm referring to the TV shows, the novels, the toys, the video games, the comics, the tabletop roleplaying games, the fan films and fan fiction, and, if I have to, the Strategic Defense Initiative.

Star Wars is long past its phase as a movie franchise. Star Wars is a universe of its own. It is a way of life for some people. For others, it's just a diversion, or an important fandom, but nothing any more life-consuming than anything else they like.

Regardless of how involved (or not involved!) in Star Wars you are, there's always something more to be experienced, always something more to like.

Heroes. Anti-heroes. Regular, flawed people who just happen to pilot space freighters instead of driving trucks; ordinary folks who struggle with the same internal issues we do who just happen to be in tune with some mystical energy field that allows them to choke a pig without using their hands.

Amusing banter between quirky characters. Brilliant explosions and expertly choreographed duels. Colorful costumes and creative character concepts. Incredible plot twists that have surely already been ruined for you.

Not only does Star Wars consist of an incalculable number of planets and alien races, but it also consists of thousands upon thousands of years of history, with specific time periods such as the Clone Wars and the Old Republic era receiving endless attention. Think about how many stories there are to tell about our little ol' planet Earth in the amount of time it's been around, and then multiply that by roughly a gajillion.

Star Wars has a lot of stories to tell, and while Star Wars tends to have a high quotient of action, adventure, aliens, space, and crazy technology, that doesn't mean that every story is going to be steeped in such things.

That's why you don't need to see any of the movies to be a fan of Star Wars. The movies are just the beginning. But becoming a fan doesn't mean that you need to sleep in Yoda jammies. And you most certainly do not need to put a video of yourself on the Internet making a fool out of yourself in the name of Star Wars.

But, honestly, it's okay if you do. If you're that dedicated a fan, you're entitled to it. I, for one, will do my best to keep my ridicule of you to a minimum.

Now, I firmly believe that Star Wars (Episode IV: A New Hope) is an essential piece of American cinema that should be required viewing for anyone with a pulse (showing movies to corpses is just weird), along with its sequel, Star Wars: Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back.

Regardless of which Star Wars movie is your favorite, I feel that these two films have had the greatest impact on America's movie industry, lexicon, parody genre, and culture in general.

The characters, music, quotes, memorable scenes, and creative concepts introduced in these two movies have become integrated into the American psyche. Not only are these films great entertainment, they are culturally significant.

However, if you keep trying and simply can't sit through any of the movies, or if you've seen the movies and have an insatiable appetite for more, there's hope for you yet.

Let me begin by saying that you can find more information about most anything I bring up here in Wookieepedia, the Star Wars wiki (just beware of spoilers). Onward!

First, there are the comics by Dark Horse and the books. There are almost too many to keep track of:

- stories about the lives of the films' main characters, before, during and after the events of the films
- short stories about Episode V's bounty hunters and the minor characters in Episode IV's cantina scene
- stories about characters who never appeared in the films at all, or about characters and events that happened several thousand years before the events of the films
- detailed encyclopedias of any kind of information you could possibly imagine about the aliens, weapons, clothing, etc. in the Star Wars universe
- books with articulately illustrated cross-sections of spaceships

...And those are just the ones I can think of off the top of my head.

Second, there are the video and computer games. Just pick a genre and you'll probably find a Star Wars game that suits you.

Star Wars: Rogue Squadron III: Rebel StrikeFirst-person shooters, roleplaying, racing, real-time strategy, fighting, platformer, and action/adventure games are all represented, and there are surely others I've forgotten.

I'd also like to add that the Star Wars games have a strong track record of critical acclaim. Knights of the Old Republic and the Jedi Knight series are two personal favorites that are frequently cited for their excellence, and the Rogue Squadron series (pictured) is among them as well.

These aren't just great Star Wars games; these are games that are outstanding examples of their respective genres, meaning you don't need to be a Star Wars fan to appreciate their excellence.

Third, there are the "other" movies such as the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special that mysteriously never gained the widespread appeal that the original trilogy did. Lovers of cute, fuzzy forest creatures may like Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure and Ewoks: The Battle for Endor. If you prefer CGI to live action, then The Clone Wars, a "fluff" action-oriented film, might be for you.

Fourth, in the TV realm, you might have heard about the animated adventures of the droids and Ewoks. If these aren't exactly your cup of blue milk, consider the animated or the CGI Clone Wars series (two different series by the same name) that help to bridge the gap between Episode II and Episode III.

However, if droids and Ewoks are for you, I hope you got Mommy's permission to use the Internet today.

Fifth, there are the tabletop roleplaying games, one released by West End Games and one more recently released by Wizards of the Coast. Don't like outer space? Run a game where the characters stay on a planet the whole time. Don't like the way the prequel trilogy turned out? Play in someone's alternate version. And let's not forget the Star Wars Miniatures game, which also falls under our next category...

Sixth: the collectables! Recreate your favorite scenes from the movies with action figures, or send the characters off on new adventures. Or proudly display them in their packages alongside your model TIE fighter to spruce up your room. Make LEGO Darth Vader the king of your LEGO castle. Go outside and have a lightsaber duel with your friends. I've done it. It's great.

Seventh, there are the endless parodies and fan videos. Mel Brooks' Spaceballs is a fantastic spoof of Star Wars that requires no knowledge of anything to enjoy, but is so much better if you've seen the original Star Wars trilogy. Beyond that, you'll find straight-up parodies; crossovers with The Matrix, Star Trek, and even The Crocodile Hunter; fan-created, professional-quality lightsaber battles; and tributes, such as this video of an a cappella tribute to Star Wars and the music of composer John Williams, who did the music for Star Wars.

Whether it's the movies, the books, the games, the TV shows, the collectables, or the parodies and fan films that most appeal to you, I can promise that Star Wars is worth a look.

Star Wars
isn't just Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi. It's not just X-Wings and the Death Star. It's not just Ewoks and Jar-Jar Binks. It's a sprawling universe of creativity that is vast enough to contain at least one gadget, character, planet, or battle that is sure to pique your interest.

If nothing else, you can do dorky things with your lightsabers:

Exfanding Your Horizons logo spelled out with lightsabers...You can never have too many lightsabers.

[Top image from morenoman78's Photobucket album. Rogue Squadron III image from Lightsaber photo by Flashman85. Yes, those are my lightsabers. Thanks to Clive and a certain anonymous poster for comments about things to add. Many Bothans died to bring you this post.]

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Worst Fanboy in the World

Today, I’d like to admit something. As a fanboy, I’m pretty lousy. There--I said it. I mean, sure, I have a bunch of comics all over the place and I own some original comics art and I (usually) enjoy going to the comics store, and whatever, but I have to say, I am really, really bad at being a fanboy.

I couldn’t tell you too much about any of the comics companies pre-2003, I have no idea who most of the characters running around DC’s Final Crisis are, and I couldn’t care any less about why it’s so blasphemous for Spider-Man to have organic web shooters.

Or to not have organic web shooters.

I always forget which one it is that people hate. And, quite frankly, I have no idea which one is currently being used in Amazing Spider-Man, because I really don’t pay attention to such things.

I like stories, you see. Novels, plays, songs, poems, and of course, comics. Static little dramas with a beginning, a middle, and an end, with some plot turns and twists and fun and kicking and punching along the way.

I was an English major in college, you see, and I simply love to read. And the fact that Batman is now being drawn with a different Bat symbol than he was ten years ago, well...I really don’t care.

If the story is well told, and entertaining, and it leaves me going “hmmm” at the end--then mission accomplished. If the artwork is nice to look at, or different, or frightening, or just plain fun--then I’m in.

On the subject of stories, “continuity” is a word that all fanpeople know, and it doesn’t matter to which faction of fandom you belong. And, from what I can tell, continuity drives everyone involved quite mad. Creators hate it because it restricts the stories that they can tell, and fans hate it when creators stray from what’s come before because what came before was so well done.

Or, fans hate it when creators don’t stray from what’s come before, because what came before wasn’t very good and wasn’t “in the spirit of the character.” Continuity, especially in comics, is a really tricky thing.

Take Batman, for example. He was created in 1939; just about 70 years ago. And, what’s more, when he first appeared, Gotham City’s Dark Knight was a gun-toting avenger with no qualms when it came to wasting a punk in a vat of acid, or even turning a gun on a gangster, or a mad scientist, or what have you.

And, yes, I did in fact just write the words "wasting a punk."

Clearly, Batman has evolved from that earliest incarnation, and I for one agree that Bats should never pick up a gun, and he certainly should never kill. And I think every Bat fan out there would agree with me. (I'm pretty sure, anyway.) But, if all the comics creators that have worked on the character over the years followed continuity to a tee, well, good old Bruce Wayne would be a veritable killing machine.

Detective Comics #27 cover
So, back to my point about well told stories.

I say, the heck with continuity. If it impedes upon a writer’s ability to tell a great story, then let's please do trample all over continuity, and tell a great story. Remember, this is comics, and if Spider-Man all of a sudden literally turns into an actual spider in issue Five Eighty Whatever, then in issue Five Ninety Something we can completely forget about it. And make him not a spider.

(Oh, and if you’re wondering, I hate spiders, so this is something I wouldn’t really enjoy. But, to keep with the spirit of this blog, I wouldn’t yell and scream about it. Instead, I’d probably give it a shot, read it, and come to a fair conclusion about it. And, if it’s just not something that I can get into--like, say, giant spiders running around--then I honestly just wouldn’t pick up the next issue.)

Now, continuity will likely be a hot button issue for comics fans for as long as there are comics. In fact, if Fanboy Nation ever had to choose a President, I’m sure the opposing candidates would fall on different sides of the issue. And every four years we would be told how each side will “fix” continuity once and for all. Of course, it would never really be fixed. Because, let’s face it, comics fans will always complain about something.

I can hear the whining now:

“Eh, since the new X-Men book fixed all of its continuity glitches to the point that you don’t have to have a PhD in quantum physics and even a child can now pick it up and understand what the heck’s going on and enjoy it...I think it’s lost its classic appeal.”

Brilliant. But, sadly, all too true.

And I know this post is going to infuriate some long-time readers of comics, but like I said, I am a lousy fanboy. Seriously. Check out my closet. Not even one, single t-shirt with a character on it.

Really, I swear.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Suggested Reading

Another busy day here at Exfanding Headquarters, so I'd like to just briefly mention a new book I picked up recently. It's in keeping with my Neil Gaiman-centric post yesterday, since the book's about...Neil Gaiman.

It's called Prince of Stories: The Many Worlds of Neil Gaiman, and it's written by Hank Wagner, Christopher Golden, and Stephen R. Bissette.

Though I haven't finished it just yet, Prince of Stories is basically an intensive retrospective of Neil Gaiman’s work, along with summaries, never-before-seen (well, at least I haven't seen them anywhere else!) essays, interviews (with Gaiman and his collaborators and contemporaries), and it’s really interesting.

Since yesterday was Gaiman's birthday (which I now know because of said book!) I figured it'd be cool to mention the new book here. If you're a fan of Gaiman's work, I'd wager you already own this. But, if you're looking to get into his stuff, this might be a good jumping-off place to figure out what you may like.

In any case, I'm really enjoying it, and since I have a blog, I figured I'd share. I'll be back tomorrow with something that's not related to Neil Gaiman--I know, I know--hard to believe after the two posts this week!

New Banner!

Huzzah! The new banner is here! It's still technically a work in progress, so you can expect it to change until we get it down exactly the way it's going to stay for a while.

A bajillion thanks to my significant other for doing all the coloring work.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Sandman...Endless Nights?

Neil Gaiman's Sandman: Master of Dreams coverHave you ever read Neil Gaiman's Sandman? Well, finally, I can say that I have. It's a work that I've written briefly about in the past, but at that point I was only about halfway through the series. Now, finally, I've made it to the end. And that's a big deal for me.

But let me take a step back for a minute, before I get into why it's a big deal.

For those that may not be aware, Sandman is the book that spawned the Vertigo line of mature readers comics, published by DC. Starting with issue 1 in 1989 and ending with 1996's issue 75, Sandman was, simply put, one of the greatest graphic stories ever told.

And, by "graphic stories," I mean comics, not...violent...stories.

Right. But you knew that. So, back to Sandman. As I'm sure you're all well aware of, I stink at writing reviews. I hate doing it, mostly because I do not like judging the work of others. So, I typically try to avoid doing straight ahead reviews of books and things, and instead do short little "well, this was quite a good read" and "definitely check this out if you like this" type of "reviews."

That said, even if I wanted to write a review for Sandman, I think I would be rather hard pressed to do so. Mostly, I think, because it's difficult for me to explain what Sandman is.

I mean, Sandman tells the story of the King of Dreams, the Prince of Stories--Lord Morpheus of the Endless, or simply, Dream. It spans centuries and tells the stories of gods and goddesses, myths and legends, and kings and queens long since forgotten.

Sandman introduces us to characters such as Hob Gadling, the man who refused to acknowledge death, and so lives on forever, and Fiddler's Green, who is both a man and a portion of land in the kingdom of the Dreaming.

Over the course of its 75-issue run, we meet Dream's brothers and sisters: Desire, Destiny, Delirium, Despair, Destruction, and Death. We meet Kit Marlowe in the months before he writes The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus. We are invited into an inn on the edge of the world where patrons pay for their drinks and lodging by telling stories.

We visit the realm of Faerie and we are chilled by a convention for serial killers and we meet a young, then old, William Shakespeare and we meet a talking raven named Matthew.

And these are just a few of the many things that make up Sandman. So, instead of telling you what Sandman is, I'd rather tell you what Sandman is like.

Because the series was started in the late '80s and finished in the '90s, I didn't read it as it came out. I was too young to read mature readers books through the first half of the series, and by the time it was wrapping up, I was not very interested in comics. And that's the context in which I'd like to frame this "review."

I'd heard many fine things about the series, and with Neil Gaiman being one of my favorite writers, I always figured I'd check the book out eventually. So, at one point I picked up the first trade, read it that night, and...I liked it. I didn't love it, and honestly, I thought that maybe it just wasn't my sort of thing.

Then, a while later, someone bought me the Absolute Sandman Volume 1 as a gift. If you're unfamiliar with DC's Absolute Editions, they are basically these big, leather bound, slip-cased versions of classic stories. The production value is second to none, and the page size is much closer to the size of the original art.

Sandman artFor Sandman, DC/Vertigo decided to collect the entire series, in four volumes of Absolute Editions. Another first, and certainly well worth the effort. I read the first volume, which included considerably more story than the first trade, and I was engrossed in the work.

So I read the entire thing, as each Absolute Edition came out, devouring each volume over the course of a couple of days. And that brings me back to my point about describing what reading Sandman was like for me.

Reading Sandman was like listening to the Beatles.

Let me explain what I mean.

John Lennon was killed before I was even born, so I never had the experience to...experience...the Beatles as my parents did. By the time I discovered them, there would be no new albums to buy, no new music to wait in anticipation for. When I listen to the Beatles now, I know that I am listening to the greatest band in history.

And I know that, in my mind, and in the minds of many others, there will never be a better, more significant and groundbreaking group of musicians. The Beatles were, and still are, the pinnacle of rock music. When I listen to the Beatles, I know that, and I appreicate that, and I love what I'm listening to, and I'm moved by it, and the words of John Lennon are omnipresent in my every day existence.

But, at the same time, when I hear their songs, there is a twinge of sadness. A bit of regret--maybe a little jealousy? Because, while the music will live on forever, there won't be anything new.

And, more importantly, there won't be anything better.

And as I read the last Absolute Edition of Sandman last night, I found myself thinking a lot about the Beatles, and about John Lennon. I knew that what I was reading will be something I revisit at least once a year, but still I felt a pull of regret.

A twinge of sadness.

I missed out on the series as it was happening, and while there's always the possibility that Neil Gaiman will someday write new Sandman stories, I missed out on the book when it was revolutionary.

And, as someone who adores the comics medium, and appreciates the great amount of skill that goes into the creation of comics, I can't help but think that Sandman may just be the best we'll ever see. And I'm happy with that, because of how great Sandman was, and how literary and smart and influential the series still is.

But I'm also a bit saddened that I may have just finished reading the best comic that I'll ever read.

So, here's to Lord Morpheus of the Dreaming. And here's to Neil Gaiman, and the numerous and brilliant illustrators and painters and artists that gave Sandman to us.

[images are copyright DC Comics/Vertigo]

Sunday, November 9, 2008

1000 Hits!

Final Fantasy fighter fightingNo, this isn't some video game reference; I'm writing to celebrate our blog receiving over 1000 hits.

Alex and I had a bet: if we got 1000 hits before December 31, I could force him to watch Star Wars, which--get this--he has never seen before.

Not any of them.

You can expect a report from Alex on that some time in the next few weeks, hopefully. Our next Poll of the Week will be asking which version Alex should watch, so keep an eye out for that starting on Friday.

In the meantime, I wanted to thank everybody who's been a regular or even sporadic visitor to Exfanding Your Horizons. It would have taken forever for just Alex and myself to reach 1000 hits.

Now, I've got a smattering of announcements that apply directly to you, our loyal minons--er--masses.

Not that we're calling you fat.


First! If you're a Blogger user, I encourage you to become an official Follower of our blog. Blogger Help explains how.

Second! If you want your hobby/fandom-related blog to appear on our blogroll, e-mail Laffman85 [at] aol [dot] com with your blog's address and we'll most likely add it.

Third! This is an open invitation to anyone who wants to contribute a guest post. We'll consider any post related to any hobby or fandom, and we promise to leave what you've written totally intact unless there's something incredibly glaring. E-mail Laffman85 [at] aol [dot] com with "Guest Post" in the subject line if you'd like to submit something. We'll probably save it for a rainy day and post it when we're both tapped for ideas. Recall that guests have written about everything from Tranformers to orchids, so just about anything goes.

Fourth! The new banner is under construction and should hopefully be ready by or before next weekend. Until then, pretend like everybody's still talking about the election so that our current banner doesn't feel all left out.

Fifth! If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions about our blog's content and/or layout, please leave a constructive comment on this post.

Thank you, and we'll see you tomorrow!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

This and That

A couple of different topics to talk about today, mostly because, since my candidate lost the First Annual* Exfanding Your Horizons Fake Election this past week, I haven't been in the mood to speak to anyone. All I have to say now is...



Now, then. Some of you may remember my previous (and whiny!) posts about Diamond Comics Distributors and how they were, essentially, messing things up badly for my local comics shop.

Well, things have gotten better since then. So much better, in fact, that last week, when I walked into my LCS, I had four weeks' (four! weeks!) worth of comics and graphic novels waiting for me.

Which doesn't sound like such a bad thing, right?

Well, not so much. See, like most comics fans, I know what's gonna come out each week and I know exactly how much I'm gonna spend at the shop before I even get there. And while $100 worth of comics and such spread out over the course of four or five weeks isn't bad...$100 worth of comics spread out over the course of four or five

Pretty bad, I mean.

And I think there were several other customers who felt the same way. Now, full disclosure here, I ended up buying all of the books, and spending well over a hundred bucks, but there were others who didn't. And, really, who can blame them? But, by leaving stuff at the shop, who gets the short end of the stick?

Well, the fan/consumer because he or she likely had to put something back. And, well, the retailer because the fan/consumer will likely have to put something back.

And this is the cyclic effect of Diamond's inability to get books--books that are ordered two months in advance by retailers, mind you--out to said retailers.

In any case, it looks like the problems (whatever the heck they may have been) are close to being resolved, and my LCS is back on a normal Wednesday to Wednesday schedule.

So, on to the next...

I just wanted to mention the fact that, despite my being a pretty uninformed DC reader (i.e., I really don't know the minutiae of the DC Universe, and to be blunt, I have no idea who most of the characters running around in their current event books are).

That said, though, I find myself really enjoying Final Crisis and many of its related tie-ins. I commend the DC writers (Grant Morrison, Geoff Johns, Greg Rucka, etc.) and artists (JG Jones, Shane Davis, etc.) for their work.

I honestly never thought I'd be into this event, but I have to admit, I am really digging it. Granted, there are several moments in almost every issue where I pull a "yeah-buh-wha?" but the story itself is intriguing and dark and ominous, and I just don't know how (if?) the good guys are going to win.

And that's good story.

Anyway, enjoy the weekend everyone--and thanks to all of you for checking out our humble little blog. As I write this, I noticed that we reached the 1,000 hit mark (wee-hee!) so thanks to everyone for trying it out, and hopefully you'll stick around for a while!

* editor's note: totally not annual

Friday, November 7, 2008

Jurassic Park: More proof that mankind can't leave well enough alone

A very notable event has largely passed under the radar this week due to the buzz about the election and our new President, and that event is the death of author Michael Crichton.

Crichton penned a number of famous books, many of which were translated into movies, including The Andromeda Strain, Sphere, Congo, Timeline, and, my all-time favorite movie, Jurassic Park.

Jurassic Park movie posterJurassic Park is, in a nutshell, the story of a group of people who visit what is essentially a theme park filled with scientifically engineered but real live dinosaurs that break loose and send the park into chaos.

Jurassic Park was the first PG-13 movie I was ever allowed to see. The special effects were astounding for the time and still hold up amazingly well today. The music, composed by John Williams of Star Wars and Indiana Jones fame, still gets me all emotional. There were spectacular panoramic shots and dinosaurs roaring in surround sound on a big screen that evoked in me an incredible sense of awe, wonder, and--when everything went terribly wrong--horror.

After years and years, the film continues to resonate with me. It puts me back in touch with the dinosaur-loving little kid that dwells within almost all of us. When the tension or adrenaline kick in when the characters are being hunted or chased by dinosaurs on the loose, I feel like I'm right there with them. Even the story concepts and the dialogue provide some great fodder for intellectual and philosophical discussions.

I was hooked then, and I'm hooked now.

Of course, after I first saw the movie, I wanted more. The film established a world that felt so much more huge than what was shown, a park and characters that were so much more complex, that I made it a point to read the book.

It's no coincidence that Jurassic Park is also my all-time favorite book.

The book includes more locations than what the movie showed and adds real depth to all the characters, revealing a level of intrigue that the movie barely scratched the surface of. Characters' flaws, shortcomings, histories, and ethical decisions are magnified and the book becomes far more than just a breathtaking story about dinosaurs eating people.

And, like most books that were turned into movies, things turn out a bit differently.

Jurassic Park - T-Rex attackThe characters that appear both in the book and in the movie are essentially the same characters (for the most part), but different aspects of their personalities are emphasized or glossed over in the movie, which I believe affects the way the story is told.

A staple of the Michael Crichton books I've read is that at least half if not almost all of the characters will die by the end of the book in some creative and often-disgusting way, and it's interesting to me that who dies and who survives in the book and the movie are different because of the way the people are characterized.

Crichton was good at giving characters their just desserts. In most cases, anybody who dies knew the risks going in, was relatively insignificant, or gets what they deserve. That's one of the reasons why I can still enjoy the movie as much as the book without complaining about how they changed things around: the things that happen seem to have been changed to suit the characters.

That being said, I was really disappointed when they adapted the book's sequel, The Lost World, to the big screen. I found the book to be a very worthy follow-up to the original and almost as enjoyable, but the film essentially took the basic concept of the book, borrowed one or two of the characters, and went off in a totally different direction that really had nothing to do with anything.

The twist at the end that was not in the book, however, was great, but it made me sad that they all but completely ignored the excellent source material.

Then came Jurassic Park III, which was not based on a book, and which I enjoyed (save for a handful of scenes that just made me shake my head). Rumor has it that there's a Jurassic Park IV in perpetual development, so I'm looking forward to that, should it ever emerge.

Of course, there were a number of spinoff video games, my favorite of which was the Sega Genesis version that allowed you to play as either Dr. Grant, the main character of the first book, or a velociraptor. Ah, platforming goodness, and some pretty catchy music to boot.

As with any other franchise, all sorts of merchandise appeared, like lunchboxes and toy dinosaurs with chunks of "flesh" you can pop out of the dinosaurs' sides to show "battle damage."



Jurassic World book coverRegardless of what Jurassic Park has become or where it will go, the original book and the original movie will forever be near and dear to my heart. They captured my imagination and introduced me to an author whose work I love, and I am grateful for it.

Go watch Jurassic Park. Then, if you can handle some degree of gore, read the books; you can get both of them in the Jurassic World compilation book.

You'll thank me.

Here's to you, Michael Crichton.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

James T. Kirk Elected Fake President

Though the political race was neck-and-neck up to the last second, James T. Kirk has emerged victorious with ten votes and has been elected Fake President in a completely fair and unrigged election.

In other news, engineers at Google continue to be baffled by the glitch that causes users' Web browsers to suddenly close after entering the search term Kobayashi Maru.

This has been a truly historic election: Kirk, promoted to Captain in the year 2264, is the first man to be elected President over 200 years before being born.

It was exciting to watch the polls grow from a single vote for Slappy McIntyre to a single vote for Slappy McIntyre and twenty-nine votes divided between everyone else, but the real excitement occurred after the polls closed.

Post-election news

Mario and Luigi, who fell one vote short of Kirk and Spock, appeared before all nine of their supporters late last night for a concession speech.

"Thank you so much for-a voting for me!" began Mario. After an awkward moment in which Mario and Luigi jumped up and down a few times, they left the stage, as they are unaccustomed to speaking more than one or two sentences at a time.

Still, most of their adoring audience continued to scream for the brothers up until the point when the crowd was eaten by the Tarrasque, at which point all of the audience was screaming.

Kirk was scheduled to speak shortly afterward, but he was detained in a fistfight backstage and was deemed unfit for public appearance by election officials after his shirt was unnecessarily torn to shreds in the scuffle.

Meanwhile, Zombie Abe Lincoln, enraged by the mere four votes he had received, began ravenously hungering the flesh of the nearby Vice President-Elect, but then he remembered that Spock's Brain left a bad taste in everyone's mouth.

More post-election news

Reports of scandals related to White House interns is already at an all-time high thanks to the charming Kirk and his running mate, Spock, who is currently undergoing pon farr.

Kirk is currently investigating alternate means of official Presidential transportation. He refuses to ride on Air Force One, claiming that "There's... something on the wing. Some... thing!"

Mario has decided to leave politics for now, choosing instead to pursue a career in medicine. Luigi, frustrated by being second yet again, took out his aggression by throwing any and all objects within reach. Local authorities report that several people were hit by errant vegetables, resulting in over a dozen injuries and one game over.

The Tarrasque left to take a very long nap somewhere. It had spent the entire morning and afternoon rampaging across the country, devouring Ralph Nader supporters before they could get to the polls, which undoubtedly cost him the election.

Bucky Barnes (Not Dead Captain America) left the moment the winner was announced to go rescue the Democratic and Republican candidates for Real President from being assassinated. Presumably, he succeeded, though there's probably no way to know for sure.

Zombie Abe Lincoln is standing right behind you. Don't turn around.

Slappy McIntyre mistakenly assumed that elections were scored like mini-golf and broke out his finest horse to celebrate his assumed success:

Slappy McIntyre rides again!
Dead Captain America had no comment.

The greatest political "oops" ever?

In case you haven't heard this from other reputable news sites, it was revealed this morning that a grave proofreading error was made on several million ballots across the country in which the Democratic candidate for President was listed as "Barack Obama."

We're sure that nobody noticed this spelling error, however, but in the event that you were mislead in any way, we present to you the true President-Elect for whom the masses actually voted:












BrakBrak Obama.

We apologize for any confusion this may have caused.

Join us later today for the full coverage of our Fake Election.

...What, you don't remember his announcement to run?


[Image from]

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day!

Last chance for voting on our poll for Fake President! Vote before midnight tonight, or else you'll turn into a pumpkin.

Tomorrow we'll give you a full news report of the results of our election. Then we'll return to business as usual. For a while.

Once again, here are our candidates:

Slappy McIntyre
James T. Kirk
Super Mario
The Tarrasque
Captain America (Deceased)
Zombie Abe Lincoln

And, in case you've missed out, review our Month in Review if you wanted to see all the other things we've been up to that aren't related to politics. (Well, some of them are...)

Vote for Fake President, and vote for Real President. Waiting and voting took me about 45 minutes, so bring a book, Game Boy, or court jester to entertain you. From what I've heard, the biggest deciding factor in how long it's going to take to vote is the organization of the people running the polling location, but those reports could be false.

Anyhow, everybody go out and vote so we can stop telling you to.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Poll Position

Yet another reminder/request to vote in our poll for Fake President before midnight tomorrow. Make some friends, and then tell all of them to vote!

The more votes we receive, the better our upcoming new banner will be. If it looks like junk, it's because not enough people voted; we'll blame you forever, or until we make a newer banner, whichever happens first.

Based on the current number of votes, our new banner will be a picture of the Hulk next to the words EXFANDING YOUR HORIZONS: BRUCE BANNER written in a hideously colored and nonsensical font, perhaps Wingdings.

Please vote.

Also, as my own public service announcement, make sure to show up to vote for Real President tomorrow. I'll spare you my diatribe on this issue, but vote according to your convictions, not your party affiliation. That's all.

The winner of our Fake Election will be officially announced at some point on Wednesday. Our regular Poll of the Week will resume on Friday, and we will resume posting our usual fare on Thursday. With any luck, circumstances will soon be such that we will be able to start bringing you longer, more detailed posts once again.

In the meantime... go bake a pie or something.