Monday, July 2, 2012

The Bad News Bears Vs. Say Anything

* = Truer words were perhaps never uttered...

What the F’? Weekends are supposed to be relaxing, this one was just chaotic. I have to admit though; it was type of organized chaos that I enjoy. Friday night we put some of the personal strife my P.L.P. is suffering through and had a Movie-A-Thon of insane proportions. First up was 1980’s Karate ‘Disasterpiece’, Kill Or Be Killed (3 & a ½ Whispering Penis Strikes Out Of Five).
 This movie is like a nightmare fever dream of AWE-some. The plot is really simple; a Nazi lost a Karate Fight to a Japanese man at the end of the Second World War. He’s since fled to South Africa and stewed over it. He’s stewed over it SO much that he’s decided to have a Karate Olympiad where he and his rival will bring teams of twenty ‘of the best around’ to do battle. In our Nazi’s camp is our protagonist Steve Hunt, and yes that name is awesome so don’t pretend it’s not, his girl, Karate Fighting ‘Sexy Thang’ Olga, and his morally conflicted midget side kick Chico, our TRUE Hero of the film. Steve of course can’t stand his Nazi paymaster and flees with Olga, but Nazi guy knows he can’t win without Steve so he kidnaps Olga to blackmail Steve into fighting for him. Of course Steve outwits his nemesis and sides with his Japanese rival, who by the by is named Miyagi and that is just fantastic for mere words. So after all this Shakespearean crap goes on we eventually get to the actual KARATE FIGHTIN’! It’s terrible, and by terrible I mean I loved every second of it. This movie is like a lot of drunken bad ideas thrown together with a lame location, bad acting, and every kung fu movie cliché known to man, tossed into a blender and pureed for the masses. Is it good? Gawd’s NO! Is it so bad I laughed my ass off? Oh yes, YES I did!

The second flick was something pretty recent in the Nazi-splotation flick Iron Sky (4 Black Astronauts out of 5).
This is a strange flick in the fact it’s BEGGING for you to make fun of it, and yet it’s got such a sense of fun and ridiculousness about it that you can’t help but love it. The idea is simple, some of the 3rd Reich fled to the Dark Side of the Moon in 1945 and have since been there plotting their return. Cue the Sarah Palin white house administration sending astronauts to the moon, including a black fashion model. There they are seen as the first wave of an Earth invasion and a declaration of war. There is a strange little love story in this flick, that’s quite funny, some evil Nazi on Nazi backstabbing, some bizarrely accurate social commentary on ‘Merica, all bent around a nice little story. The special effects are at times good, think Battlestar Galactica, and other times Sci-Fi Channel Saturday morning level, think Piranahconda. The thing is I wanted to make fun of this flick and instead found myself, along with almost everyone else, laughing WITH this flick. So if you’re in the moods for some mindless fun, with a touch of social commentary, wrapped in the goodness of exploitation then check it out.

On Saturday night we went out with our new friend Mick, and pulled Dave in tow, to some Karaoke. I have to admit right off the bat that I never need set foot inside a VFW again. A lot of the time I love to people watch, but some people don’t need to be watched. Somethings man was not meant to know, that is how I felt at our first stop. It was like staring into the face of Iola, into that deep abyss, only to have it stare back. I still shudder. Anywho, we then set off to NE Minneapolis to a place called Moose On Monroe. I’m not a Karaoke guy. I can’t sing to save my soul, I don’t dance, and I know this will be a shock to those that know me, I don’t care for embarrassing myself in public that often. However I like to hang out so we figured what the hell. First off, Mick can F’Ning sing. She has an amazing voice and seems to have no problem attacking very difficult songs. Secondly, Dave is no slouch. He hammered out some great tunes as well. Thirdly, it seems that Karaoke is even more fun when there is hyped up drunken people with moustaches around screaming and yelling CONSTANTLY. These were the life lessons I learned Saturday night. It was a solid time. The bar’s mood shifted drastically right around the time we left, which was fine. It’s strange for me to be in that type of setting seeing as since having my face caved in like 7 years ago I tend to shun bars like the plague, as well as adhering to what I was told by my Grandfather in college, “Nothing good can happen to you being out after 11pm”. It’s always good to make new friends, it’s always fun to stretch your comfort level a bit, and it’s pretty ‘tits’ to see Dave get macked on, so all in all a fantastic night. Oh and by the way, Cassandra looked amazing!

Seriously, she blew me away.  And NO, that it is not a blow job reference David.

Yesterday we went out to my In-Law’s campsite for a sweaty dinner. It was a nice time, but the ‘bleag’ weather made most of my thoughts constantly turn to getting back home. The other thing is I’m not a camping guy. I never have been, and most likely never will be. I like camp fires, grilled food, exchanging tall tales, and even fishing, but I don’t have any desire to set aside time in my life to plan these things or sleep in other places beyond my own bed. In my soon to be pink bedroom. That’s just how I roll.

I also was able to get some reading completed this weekend. First I finished my first ever Doctor Who novel, Mark Morris’ Ghosts Of India (** ½ TARDIS’ out of 5).
It was just OK. I think it’s really difficult to translate the vibe and fun of Doctor Who into a written format. It loses something in the translation, some of the voice of The Doctor(s) and the Companion(s) is just not there. All that being said, I thought it read like an episode, had all the beats down, and was a nice little tale of the David Tennant version of The Doctor with Donna Noble in tow meeting Gandhi at the height of exiting of British forces from India all the while alien fun is happening in the background. My biggest complaint about the story itself though was the dues ex machine involving Gandhi towards the end of the book, which was more than slightly annoying. It’s not a book I would go back and re-read per say, but I’ve read WAY worse stuff. In addition it felt like Doctor Who, it felt like it fit in perfect to The Doctor and Donna’s time together, and it was a fun way to have another adventure with that particular version of the show. Time will tell if I’ll enjoy the other three Doctor Who novels I picked up, for like a buck. For now I remain optimistic.

On a vastly different note I finished Dan Abnett’s Warhammer Fantasy book Riders Of The Dead (*** ½ out of 5).
“WHOA!” you say, “Ben you just gave something written by Dan Abnett, one half of DnA, a lower than 4 Star rating, WTF?” Well to you, reader I would have to say the book was good, but short. Abnett is a great storyteller, and this is no different as he gives us two characters with drastically differing world views that change in amazing ways throughout their experience in war. My biggest problem is the book is short. It ends just as we start to see the two come to terms with who they are. The other thing that never ceases to get old with all Warhammer and Warhammer 40K stuff is the bland, overblown fatalism. I get it, it’s all ‘Grim Dark’. You don’t have to bludgeon me with it. I have to say though Abnett took me on a ride with this one. The character I wanted to root for pushed my limits of what was morally acceptable, of how far a good man can devolve and still strive to be a ‘good man’. While he took an easily dislikable character and made their evolution so compelling that you can’t help but want to read more. Oh Dan, you are a tricky devil! This is the type of writing that led to my deep seated love of Abnett’s comic work with Andy Lanning on Marvel’s Cosmic Titles; Nova, Guardians Of The Galaxy, and the Annihilation ‘Events’. If you enjoy the Warhammer style of fantasy you’ll eat this one up. If you like bleak fiction then this is right up your alley. If you want something more epic in scale then you’ll most likely just want to seek out Mr. Abnett’s comic book work.

After all the gallivanting around this weekend I spent most of my ‘me’ time watching a CRAP TON of Doctor Who! Here’s what I digested;

- The Power Of The Daleks (**** out of 5) –
This is the first full blown Patrick Troughton serial. Who better to take the ‘New’ Doctor to his limits than his most persistent enemies? I actually really enjoyed how this six parter ratcheted up the tension and a by the end of it the body count was off the charts. The premise is that The Doctor, Ben, & Polly arrive at the Vulcan ‘Earth’ colony. They pretend to be from Earth, as the man The Doctor is pretending to be has been murdered, in order to find out what’s going on. It turns out the colony is in upheaval as there is a power struggle for the governorship as well as revolutionaries trying to get entire thing overthrown. In the background you have a scientist who has discovered a mysterious craft and has been examining it. We find out it’s a Dalek ship with two dormant Daleks inside. Of course you KNOW the third is going to cause some serious problems. What we learn here is NEVER TRUST a genocidal alien starfish in a trash can shaped war tank. We get a look at how Dalek’s ‘breed’, and a really fun little invasion. The end has a MASSIVE body count, especially for what was essentially a kid’s show. Thus far this might be my favorite old school Dalek episode. I also want to point out just how ruthless The Doctor can be when his hand is forced. I know some people don’t like that aspect of what is basically a pacifist character, but I think it brings humanity to a character by showing his flaws.

- The Highlanders (*** out of 5) –
Man did I want to love this serial, but it just didn’t do much for me beyond us getting an additional companion in the kilt wearing Highlander Jamie McCrimmon. The idea of The Doctor, Ben, & Polly working their way through the Scottish/British conflict is on the surface fantastic. However we never really get a look at the larger conflict, instead we end up dealing with fleeing Scottish nationals being tricked into slavery. It’s not a bad story, I just felt like after a GREAT Dalek episode this one dragged a bit. Not to mention I felt like it was one of the weaker of the ‘Historical’ episodes I’ve watched thus far. We do get The Doctor being incredibly tricky though, in fact using a lot of different ‘disguises’, and like I said the addition of another Companion so it’s not all bad. I just wanted more.  Oh and I'm not sure if anyone else noticed, but DAMN does Patrick Troughton look like a crazy older version of J.B.
- The Underwater Menace (**** * out of 5) –
NOW that is what I’m talking about! This serial is just fantastic. The only thing keeping it from hitting Infinite *’s are the bizarrely inadequate special effects for all of the Fish People. This one has a crazy mad scientist, Atlantis, the potential end of the world, and Jamie figuring out he might have just gotten in WAY over his head. Zaroff, the mad scientist, is just a fun villain and almost pulpy in his gleeful mania and his willingness to mix it up with his fists as often as his mind. I really liked the internal struggle between Monarchy, religious order, and science. This was one of the first episodes I can remember where The Doctor and his Companions came off as aggressive insurgents against the current government, granted it was to prevent Zaroff from splitting the Earth in twain, but they are revolutionaries nonetheless. My biggest compliant was the Fish People. Some of them look outstandingly strange in their Tiger Fish garb, while others just look like ‘Frogmen’ from Johnny Quest. I get it that the cost was probably what made it impossible prohibited them from duplicating this make-up affect as much as needed, but seeing the vast quality difference really took me out of what was otherwise a great serial.

- The Moonbase (Infinite *’s out of 5) –
Well boys and girls, if we’ve learned nothing else since I started this Who sojourn it’s that Old School Cybermen are F’Ning frightening! It’s crazy that they just showed up like 5 serials ago and now they are back, FOR VENGEANCE! The Doctor and Companions find themselves on a base, on the mood of course, that is used to control Earth’s weather. There is also a strange medical malady effectively taking out crew members. It turns out it’s a Cyberman nano-tech virus, and they are after nothing short of Moon dominance so they can use the ‘Graviton’ weapon to blow up Earth in reprisal for the destruction of Mondas. Couple this with ‘zombiefied’ techno slaves, Cybermen blowing holes in a dome on the Moon, the use of solvents to create a toxic cocktail to throw at the Cybermen, and a crazy ‘We’ll be back!’ ending and you have what is a ‘MUST SEE’ episode of Doctor Who. It was just incredibly fun, and isn’t all one can ask for?

It was another week so we’re down to the penultimate Rise Of The Runelords preview!
First up is the Common Goblin Dog. For those that don’t know, in the Pathfinder setting these are giant rodents that the Goblins use as mounts and dogs. They are mean, foul, and dangerous beasties. I for one will be buying a TON of these bad boys. I like the creepy vibe of the mini, from the color to the pushed in face, to the furless tail, all the way down to the boney spin it’s just a beautifully disgusting piece. Having a bunch of these will work not just for my massive force of Goblins, but also for Gnolls as diseased Hyenas, or as Hellhounds, or as dogs mutated by the Far Realm. They are just so damned versatile. It doesn’t hurt that they are Commons meaning they should be extremely cheap on the secondary market. Well done Paizo & Wizkids, well done INDEED!
Next up is one of the ‘Bid Bads’ in the Adventure Path; Viorian Dekanti. Again, I haven’t read the entire Adventure Path so I don’t have much of a background on who she is, I just know she’s an underlying of the main Antagonist. When it comes to the miniature itself the gold is a little overwhelming. I like the sculpt of the armor quite a bit, so those things offset one another. I’m a tad worried about the face as last week’s “Potato Face” has me a bit skittish. She’s a Rare, so I anticipate that the paint job and the sculpt will be very good, but I’m not going to hold my breath. I like the two tone cape and the pose is perfect for a villain, an NPC, or even a PC fighter. Overall this one is most likely a ‘Pass’ for me based up its rarity level, my level of need, and what likely to be the price point. We’re down to one preview left. I’m happy to say that the vast majority of the stuff I will be buying out of this set are Commons so that means the cost will be low, and on top of that it’ll be filling a lot of my D&D ‘needs’ which is fantastic.

The last thing I’m mulling over is re-reading the Warrior Heroes rulebook and trying to get maybe Dave to play. The beauty of this game is you can play solo. It has a Mass Battle rule set as well as an Adventure/Exploration/Skirmish level as well. You play in seasons and it builds in its own stories, which is a MASSIVELY appealing portion of the rules. I want to build the setting using Small World, then go from there. Maybe play once or twice a month, and tell some Epic stories of HIGH ADVENTURE! So is anyone out there interested?

If not that’s cool too, I’ll just play with myself. Insert Masturbation Joke Here. Well I know no matter what at least we’ll always have…

- The Chili gauntlet has been thrown. We need to figure out a gluten free Chili to have with Mike, Emily, and Dave as soon as possible. In addition it looks like in February we might have a Chili Cook-Off. At least that’s the scuttlebutt.
- I’m over halfway through my day and the next 3 and a half hours should be nigh unbearable.
- We have five days off starting Wednesday and I’m going to do everything in my considerable power to sleep in at least two of those days. And by sleeping in I mean until after 7am, I’m talking like 10am. I don’t care if it requires alcohol, pills, or a stiff chair shot to the dome, I desire SLEEP!
- It’s about two weeks till D&D and I’m wringing my hands in maniacal glee.
- I’d like to do a Movie-A-Thon in the very near future featuring; Behind The Mask: The Rise Of Leslie Vernon, The Whisperer In Darkness, & Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale. I think all three are strange enough to be enjoyed by the peeps. My only concern is they aren’t necessarily ‘Bad’ enough to be ‘Good’. Either that or we finally go with Dave’s often whispered about Sybil Danning-A-Thon.
- F’ you summer, F’ you right in the A’.
- Right now I’m so hopped on coffee that I’m spazzing out. My brain is on fire with ideas and possibilities for Warrior Heroes. The possibilities of D&D after our next session have my imagination abuzz. And all I want to do is day dream. I wish I had a place that paid me that was more conducive to goofing off.
- Don’t run from the Reverse Dennehy, EMBRACE IT!

Well eating these ‘samiches’ ain’t going to happen if I’m typing…

“When we were young I called you friend
But then one day that had to end
you broke me down, made me feel low
After all this time I thought you should know

You're lucky to still be alive
But my strength of will helped me to survive
you see it on the news today
When pushed too far someone has to pay

But life goes on and made me who I am
And some scars remain from boy to man

And looking back now on foolish childish ways
If my thoughts turned to action would we be here today
Now every time I hear something's gone wrong with you
It gives me satisfaction, I can't feel bad for you
What makes you think that I want to be friends with you?
Don't you remember all that shit that you put me through?
I can't believe that you forgot all you did to me
With friends like you I don't need an enemy”

* = See David, even Santa hates that shit.  Who are you to argue with Santa?  WHO!

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