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  1. Harrison Ford's 40th Movie Harrison's 40th movie has resulted in a graphic of all of his roles. Take a look.
  2. Striking Back At The Empire The BBC has an article up about the man who made the original plastic molds for the stormtrooper helmets. Andrew Ainsworth designed the prototype helmets, Lucas bought them. Then Mr. Ainsworth decided to start selling them. Lucas sued him for $20 million. Shots were fired, lawyers hired, and rights trampled. And now Mr. Ainsworth has the right to sell what he created. Meanwhile Hollywood predicts the end of the world and no more working with British people. Good luck with that. As a side question, can Tarik the black bear's owners file suit on his behalf for his voice being used to make Chewbacca's? Can Lucas sue the bear for making sounds in public?
  3. Starship Trooper Future "> " type="application/x-shockwave-flash" wmode="transparent" width="425" height="350"> Love or hate Paul Verhoeven, the man makes movies that excite discussion. And Heinlein, whatever one thinks of his philosophical and political views, was writing a didactic novel, set primarily in the classroom, lecturing young adults on the need for sacrifice to the community. Combine Verhoeven's radical politics and Heinlein's preachy screed and you get coed showers, large bugs and NPH. I love it as an amazing satire from a man who brought us other comedies like Robocop, Hollow Man, Showgirls and Total Recall. I see a listing for a film entitled Jesus of Nazareth on IMDB; I can hardly wait to see what he does with it. In all fairness The 4th Man is not a comedy, though it has some mighty peculiar scenes and shots, include a crucifix fellatio. [And his Jesus film appears to be serious. Warning: Verhoeven is a thoughtful, intelligent man, if a bit profane.] Cracked provides an article higlighting how Verhoeven saw the future and the film showed everything to come after its 1997 release date. Except coed showers. A satirist and a seer, who knew?
  4. Arkham Asylsum Redux I'm looking forward to this video game sequel. I thought the combat was handled well in the first one, graphics were good and voice talent was great. For some reason The Riddler reminds me of Jigsaw, or vice versa. Cooler, with greater sartorial flare, smarter ... so not so much remind me as more Jiggy seems like a faded shadow of The Riddler's genius.
  5. Chaostle Board Game Check out a new board game that reads kind of like a combination of Mortal Kombat, miniature combat and capture the flag. Add in the winds of fate and Ars Technica gives the game a positive review that makes me want to shell out the $70.00 to try it. Game Description Chaostle is a unique game in that it combines the fun of tabletop miniatures gaming and conventional board games. The structured multi-level castle game board provides many levels of strategy. The simplified and exciting battle system allows this game to be enjoyed by heavy game players as well as those who are new to miniature games. Chaostle has many levels of strategy from picking your starting army to moving throughout the multi-level castle towards victory. A game with pure strategy, however, would be just another chess game and not like real life where nothing ever goes as planned. Therefore, chaostle has many fates that constantly effect the game ranging from mild setbacks to cataclysmic earthquakes. These unpredictable twists of fate can be either from the card of happiness or the card of doom. Chaostle features 23 three-dimensional castle walls that are secured onto the game board. The fantasy fighters can move any direction throughout the castle including up and down stairways to change levels. The castle sections were originally sculpted by Bruce Hirst of Hirst Arts. The game comes standard with sixteen collectible plastic miniature characters. Each character has a battle card containing the character's statistics, weapons, special skills and upgrades. The battle cards have holes where pegs are inserted to allow for easy tracking of the statistics and upgrades.
  6. Life is 3D With all the recent focus on 3D movies and television, it would be easy to forget 3D printers, which have been a round for a while but are recently becoming more affordable. Not affordable, but more affordable. But, Internet to the rescue, you can upload 3D designs and have them printed at a site called Shapeways. Paramount went after an engineer/artist for making a copy of the cube from Super 8. Paramount (or someone working for them) designed the image, the engineer was selling it for profit, so it seems like an open and shut case. Except, it's one of those slippery slope things. Is every shape we see someone's IP? Maybe the Cube is covered but are chairs? Cars? Refrigerators? Do we have to seek the Platonic ideal of all physical items and only use those for 3D shapes we create? Sort of a master generic template. The "for profit" part might seem easy to argue, but what if, as an artitst, creating a painting of an Italian seaside, I include identifiable cars and boats and houses? Do I have to alter reality from now on? When will I have to pay to remember I saw a Model T the other day?
  7. A Cappella Operatic Violence and BRROMMM The Matrix lobby scene with new sounds. "> " type="application/x-shockwave-flash" wmode="transparent" width="425" height="350"> [end_news_blurb] If you haven't watched the Inception one .... BRRROMMMM sticks in your head from it. "> " type="application/x-shockwave-flash" wmode="transparent" width="425" height="350">
  8. Helman Files: Desperate Souls Desperate Souls is the second book in the Jake Helman Files. Jake is an ex-cop who quit the force rather than submit to a drug test. He was doing coke at the time, so it seemed a better idea. He works as a private investigator, with a knack for dealing with the odd, having fought a demon and a genetics corporation who summoned it in his previous outing. Jake is all sorts of messed up, with the death of his significant other in the first book, the loss of his job, and the sudden clarity on issues of the existence of the supernatural. Desperate Souls has the psychic who works in a downstairs office send a lady in distress his way. The grandmother and her nine year old grandson are looking for her older grandson, whom she claims to have seen the day before, walking around, dead, dealing drugs. Helman says he'll look into it, to letter know if he'll take her case. The grandson might be dealing Black Magic, a new, highly addictive drug, that is swamping the recreational use market, making crack and meth seem like harmless alternatives. [end_news_blurb] Drugs and Death Things spiral out of control quickly when Helman looks into the dead grandson issue. A confrontation with drug dealers who turn out to be dead, fast and deadly leaves bodies filled with saw dust and featuring the stitches of autopsies lying on the ground: no finger tips, no teeth and no toe tips. A high speed car chase with no regard for anyone else on the road forces Helman to escape by running his car over a barrier in Police Plaza and leaves him crippled in a few days later. When the downstairs psychic cures his pain with a massage and happy ending, telling him he was cursed, Jake starts doing some research in data he picked up from the genetics company in the last book, as well as elsewhere, trying to figure out how Voodoo and Zombies work. His friends on the police task force are looking for a group of drug dealers that are knocking off rival gangs in brutal ways which just might have something to do with his case. Rather than tell his friends what's going on, he takes one to a warehouse where black magic is being produced and lets him experience zonbies for himself. The book is violent, sexual and dark. The Dresden books, no matter how violent the situation feels, even in the last book, always feel hopeful. Dresden will win, Chicago and the world will be saved. Helman didn't have that feel. Violence happens, magic is used with no easy answers, characters good and bad are hacked to pieces by a group of machete wielders. Desperate Souls was enjoyable but not uplifting in tone. Kind of the difference between reading one of Parker's Spenser novels and one of Valin's Harry Stoner novels. Check it out on Amazon: Helman Files: Desperate Souls
  9. Happy Accidents It is not often a movie catches me by surprise, but Happy Accidents managed to do so. I was expecting a romantic comedy, with Vincent D'Onofrio and Marisa Tomei as charming leads. And the movie was a romantic com/dram, but it turned out to have a few twists that made the movie into something a little more than just a quirky romance. "> " type="application/x-shockwave-flash" wmode="transparent" width="425" height="350"> I don't want to build it up only to have a viewer's expectations crushed; it is not a great film. The leads are charismatic, the story is well done and the romance, maybe not as believable as some romcoms, but it worked for me. Where it stands apart is the characters discuss destiny, time travel and trust, and one begins to wonder about the eccentric story D'Onofrios character weaves. [end_news_blurb] Happy Accidents and Happy Endings As with all romantic comedies, the ending lives or dies by how committed and entangled you think the characters are. Two hours is a short time to develop a lasting love and demonstrate it on the screen. Tomei's Ruby Weaver is shown to have had a series of failed, mostly enabling/co dependent relationships. D'Onofrio's Sam Deed is a genuinely nice guy, smart, nerdly, endearingly naïve, employed, but not seemingly in need of saving. We don't wonder why she is attracted to him, and later, when he loses his apartment, we accept she lets him move in. Click to reveal.. When things start getting strange, when Sam reveals he thinks he's from the future, we see Ruby's earlier white night impulses kick in. Her girlfriends encourage her to stick with him, figuring he is role-playing and Ruby becomes more and more deeply entangled in Sam's story. It is a story he seems deeply invested in. At some point during the story, my wife and I began to accept it as true. By the time he is sent to see her therapist, I assumed we would find out the therapist was a “backtraveler” too, rather than show us Sam is lying.In fact, he is telling the truth. And he is heavily invested in saving Ruby from an impending death. He has only a photo of her he found in the future and the guess she is in New York that leads him to her. And once he meets her he does fall in love. He hopes the newly created emotional energy will change time's flow and save her. I recommend the movie as something a bit different if you're looking for a romance. Sam Deed gets into multiple discussion with high people, scientists and every day folk about time, fate and science, as someone who uses tools but doesn't understand how they work. He quotes theories he only partially grasps and he perseveres with his belief in the face of at times hostile dismissals. Also Anthony Michael Hall appears. While possibly not as good as an appearance by fucking NPH, it was nice to see him again.
  10. More Potter at Pottermore While this is live it is not fully working until October. The Beta functionality goes live next month. What is it? Pottermore is the eBook branch of the Wizardry enterprise plus all new content for those craving more magic in their lives. The full details are here. Rowling owns all the digital rights to her books. She is either a brilliant lady, a lucky lady, or both.
  11. Kick off your fun... er, creepy weekend with this video. Um .... Baby Mask? "> " type="application/x-shockwave-flash" wmode="transparent" width="425" height="350"> Enjoy. Or something.
  12. American Gods Neil Gaiman's American Gods seem to be a polarizing book. The reviews on Amazon run the gamut, a little heavier on positive, but a lot on the lower end too. Out of 885 reviews, 144 are 2 stars or fewer. No stranger to mythology and modern personifications of the numinous, his book has a fascinating conceit ... and then the arguments begin on the execution. I liked the book, but I love mythology, modern reworkings, theological and philosophical musings and off beat humor, and this book has those, but it also has long, surreal stretches were nothing seems to happen or minutiae is dwelt upon for pages. Now the book is to be an HBO series. New reports reveal that Tom Hanks and his Playtone Productions are now developing what’s being described as an “open-ended” series for HBO, with six seasons being set up already. Each season will run 10–12 episodes—each of which will run around an hour in length—and will cost about $35-40 millions per season. Hanks will act as an executive producer along with Gary Goetzman, Bob Richardson, and Gaiman, who will also act as a writer on the series. If the series becomes a chance to explore mythology and religion in modern life, with offbeat humor and Gaiman's skewed sensibilities, it could be great.
  13. HarnMaster I want to quote something VileBill wrote a while back in a response to Aberrant: The New Flesh. “So unless I liked it I can't say anything? If someone wants to write something and put it out there, regardless of the amount of work that went into it, they're opening themselves open to feedback. Both negative and positive.” I read through a lot of material and watch a lot of movies, all (most) lovingly crafted works that some effort went in to. And some of them are total dreck. There are the elite few that are so bad I can find nothing good to say about them, material I am not even sure the producer(s) likes or supports. They fail not only on technical level but seem void of ideas or so misdirected as to be insulting to the audience, without artistic merit. So I write purely negative material about them. Some things are amazing, with few or no flaws, that advance an art or understanding to new levels or do the commonplace so well one sees it in a whole new light. I write glowing reviews of them. Sometimes though, you have something that is well done, but you may not understand the point or it just doesn't do anything for you. Like balancing a spoon on one's nose. Or competitive eating. Which brings me to HarnMaster. [end_news_blurb] HarnMaster Fantasy Roleplaying HarnMaster 3rd edition Fantasy Roleplaying system is not a new system. It is copyright is 2003. It is new to me though as I picked it up as part of a bundle from DriveThruRPG. HarnMaster is an attempt to introduce realism into fantasy role-playing, and it does so in part by having a highly detailed character generation system, with a lot of optional details. These details take class structure, clan structure and the reality of a medieval existence strongly into consideration. It also has a detailed combat system with called strike zones, strike location within zones and no hit points, but rather a loss of abilities until one is unconscious or dead. It has armor and weapon damage, friendly fire and mounted combat rules that take into account the breed of horse you ride. All of these seem reasonably realistic. But who wants to be taken out accidentally by their drunken archer friend before swinging the first blow? I am all for detailed characters, but I am not sure of how much reality I want in my fantasy. And that is the rub with HarnMaster. It is fantasy but it is not epic fantasy or high fantasy. It is concerned so much with being realistic that its fantasy elements seem sorely neglected. Which is fine if that's the kind of game one wants to play. But is not for me. Where Did All The Paladins Go? There are no classes as such in HarnMaster, rather there are occupations, everything from tentmaker to minor royalty, and skill sets based upon the occupations, as well as other skills to choose from. Family and relationship to the clanhead are important as well as contacts, both friendly and not. Training times for one's profession play into multiple aging effects experienced later on in the game. The character generation system is extensive, detailed, flexible and yet it felt confining. Where in another system I can say I am the daughter of a ratcatcher then spin a personal history of how it led to being a powerful sorcerer, in HarnMaster the character felt stuck in the daughter of a ratcatcher phase. As to the reality of the characters, ultimately rising above one's station was not a common occurrence. Sure a cook shot Richard the Lionhearted, but history does not suggest he went on to become a general. Probably back to making gruel. Stressing the reality of the characters is a double-edged blade, which could break off in one's chainmail. If there be dragons, reality has bowed its head. HarnMaster as a Game HarnMaster is a system where I do not understand the point. There is little magic, a low frequency of mystical beasts, combat can be decided by a weapon breaking (based upon a die roll, not as part of the story) and dice seem to rule. This is not a criticism of the structure of the rules, the writing, the technical merits of the system or the ideas expressed. This is a purely subjective reaction based upon what I want out of a game. There are a series of reviews on RPG.net which delve into the game in a lot more detail and they arrive at a very positive conclusion: “Realistic without sacrificing playability, HarnMaster is a mature, superbly crafted, role-playing game offering a great deal of versatility for the discriminating gamer. Highly recommended.” The game mechanics allow for a range of settings, from Viking to feudal Japan, possible even steam punk or modern day realms, with extensive modification of skills. I do not in any way want to disparage the work that went into creating this game, but having only read through the game, it just does not see like something I would enjoy. It might be, in the hands of an experienced game master, that I would see it in a whole new light. Self-Lovecraft I am not familiar with enough games to know which other ones have seduction and sex as a skill but any game that gives this description, “The ability to charm, seduce, and give erotic pleasure. Lovecraft is opened when a character first attempts to use it. It cannot normally be improved by solitary practice, although there may be books or teachers available. The skill is used to assess the success of a seduction or sexual encounter,” with a nod to ...er, self-lovecraft, certainly has something going for it.
  14. The Matrix: Kaydara KAYDARA official film by Kaydara-film Some (all) people were disappointed with the Matrix sequels. The Animatrix had some ok scenes, but things became too bloated, self-important and inconsistent to succeed as the trilogy advanced. This 50+ minute fan film further explores the universe, reveling in the visuals, playing with the themes. The first 6 minutes or so have a claymation mouse. Which you can comfortably skip, though it does recognize and exploit many of the movies' tropes and scenes. Around 6:40 is where the humans show up. It is set within the timeline of the trilogy. What do you think of the effects, stories and integration? "Hey quit hasslin' me cuz' I don't speak French" or whatever! And then the guy said something in Paris talk, and I'm like, "Just back off!" And they're all, "Get out!" And we're like, "Make me!" It was cool.
  15. DC Comics Resets to Issue 1 This has been kicking around online for a while, but in case you missed it, or some of the new covers, DC is relaunching a bunch of titles at number 1. In part to line up digital comics to launch day and date with the print versions. In part because Number 1 sells a huge number, which goes down rapidly as you move away from one, but apparently that is not a consideration. With Flashpoint consuming the summer, in September everything changes. In September, all the DC Comics published set within the DC Universe will be renumbered with new issue ones. Characters will die and change, retconning will rule and maybe a few months later we will find out that Earth 2 continuity and Earth 1/prime whatever have interwoven or some such thing. Anyway, Geoff Johns and Jim Lee are set to discuss how everything changes for DC sometime this month. I haven't followed a superhero series in quite a while. I read graphic novels and limited runs. I got tired of everything being rewritten, retconned and left meaning nothing--Jean Grey should have stayed a. Dark Phoenix and b. dead. So all of DC changing doesn't really mean anything in the general scheme of comics. Everything changes all the time, maybe just not all at once or with such fanfare. Some might argue this has everything to do with the new digital market, with ebooks outselling real books on Amazon, with superhero movies doing really well and a new medium for distribution making it much easier than walking into a comic book store. There is a brand new audience, impatient, willing to spend money, but wanting to feel like they have come in on the ground floor, not 600 issues in. DC is trying things out with this audience. They know long term readers will put up with anything.
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