Thursday, December 27, 2012

Kiss Of The Spider Woman Vs. Safety Not Guaranteed

There is nothing like working somewhere that has ONE stall for the men. ONE STALL! Granted it’s an office filled with people with ‘lady parts’, but c’mon! So if you miss your window of opportunity to use the stall you are STUCK waiting OR walking down the way to a gas station. It is literally a ‘Crap Shoot’. This is especially true when your guts have betrayed you. I’m not sure what’s going on, but for the last few weeks my stomach has been a bullet train. Hell, even at Christmas I felt bad. That’s not to say that Christmas was bad, far from it, but my body was struggling with the flu. So here I sit waiting for ‘my turn’ in the coveted bathroom and blogging. Life doesn’t get any ‘better’ than this...

Christmas was rockin’ this year. I was able to give my wife a ton of stuff that she seems to enjoy, for the most part I did pretty good getting gifts for others, and I received a lot of things I really wanted. Between the piles of books I received, the games, and then the really fun Hulk shirt I got it was just about a perfect accumulation of swag. Vibe wise it’s been weird. My conversation with my family was short and sweet, Cassandra and I have been up to our gills in things so this time of year has been a strain, and the trip to ‘The Cloud’ was just ok. It could be because I felt terrible, but for some reason I literally just wanted this Holiday season to end. One more week left and we can get back to some sense of normalcy.

I have been on a reading TEAR lately, here’s what I was able to plow through;

- Tim Lebbon’s 'Hellboy, The Fire Wolves' (*** ½ out of 5)
Crazy that the two Hellboy novels I just read both had to do with wolves. I found this one to be much more enjoyable than the last, possibly because Hellboy was the main character this time. The premise was remarkably simple, and yet had enough of a slight twist involved that it not only felt like a Hellboy story, but it also vastly added to the tension and enjoyment of the tale. The story itself is simple. Hellboy travels to Italy to help a woman who believes she is going to be murdered before she turns 18 due to a family curse. Now I don’t want to spoil it for you, but this book wracks up an impressive and somewhat graphic body count. Death isn’t that unusual in a ‘horror’ story, but in a Hellboy tale it certainly adds some gravity to the situation. I will admit, even though he takes a beatin’ a few times, I never felt the main protagonist was in mortal danger, however the main secondary characters dropped like flies! I dug the whole idea of the main antagonists, how it tied directly to the history of the area, and setting was beautifully crafted by the author. My only real complaints were that the book drug in some spots and the ‘sexual tension’ really just seemed to meander rather than smolder. I really dug the antagonists and might even ‘borrow’ the overall idea for D&D, and of course Hellboy is just fun to read about. It’s a good not great read, but if you are like me and can’t get enough of Mignola’s titular creation then you can do FAR worse than give this one a read.

- Richard Lee Byers 'Called To Darkness' (****out of 5)
My subscription to the Pathfinder Tales novels is some of the best money I spend. As of yet I have not been disappointed by a single novel I’ve received, and in some cases (like anything by Dave Gross) I’ve been blown away. Mr. Byers tale isn’t quiet up there with Mr. Gross, but I’ll be damned if he didn’t craft a damn fine, and FUN tale here. The premise is simple Kagur is a warrior in the Blacklion’s tribe, her adopted brother is a frost giant in the land of the ‘Mammoth Lords’. The setting is something of a ‘hodge podge’ of edge of the world and nomadic Vikings, which I dig. Anywho, Kagur’s brother goes ‘Native’ and wipes out her tribe in a VERY bloody show of loyalty to ‘The Rough God’ who has secretly been paying homage to. Kagur ends up watching her friends and family die and finds herself on the wrong end of her ‘Brother’s’ knife before all things are said and done. All this is in like the first 30 pages! This sets up a chase across the Tundra to the ‘Earthnavel’ and into the Underdark, or Pathfinder’s equivalent. The final portion of this almost Shakespearean tragedy comes to head in the bowels of the planet in a ‘Lost World’ valley. So let’s get this straight shall we; Vikings, CHECK, Murderous Frost Giant, CHECK, Lovecraftian Lost Society, CHECK, Underground Ziggurat, CHECK, DINOSAURS (!), CHECK! There is a distinct pulp vibe permeating this book and I felt like Mr. Byers captured the feel of Edgar Rice Burroughs in the Pathfinder setting perfectly. At its heart this is very similar to 'Blood Of The City', in the fact it is a straight forward ‘Revenge Tale’. However, where that is an urban, almost Tarantino-esque romp, this one is firmly ‘Old School’ with what I felt were some subtle nods to the old Saturday morning serials. If I had to complain at all about the book it would be that reason for the betrayal is SO out of the blue that sometimes Kagur’s brother feels less like a character and more like a walking talking plot device. Kagur becomes so consumed, and I think I understand why Mr. Byers wrote her this way, by her vengeance that she is somewhat unlikable throughout a lot of the book as a man character; however this is more than made up for by her blind traveling companion whose name is escaping me at the moment. This character was once an adventurer himself who traveled the world of Golarion seeking fortune and glory. He was such an interesting, introspective, and warm character I found myself hoping that at some point Mr. Byers goes back and gives us one of those tales. Overall I dug this book a lot, and it is another example of the quality of fiction Paizo continues to put out in support of its version of the world’s greatest game.

- Clive Barker’s 'The Inhuman Condition' (**** ½ out of 5)
Let’s get something straight; Clive Barker does not write bad tales. He just doesn’t. I have never read anything the Mr. Barker has written where I wasn’t awed by its splendor and didn’t leave it without a tingle in the base of my spine. The Inhuman Condition is NO exception. Here Mr. Barker gives us 5 tales that push the boundaries of what horror can be. While ‘Down, Satan!’, ‘Revelations’, and the title story ‘The Inhuman Condition’ are VERY good I’m going to spend a bit of time with the other two tales. ‘The Age Of Desire’ is like reading a David Cronenberg movie, through a very aggressive and disturbed lens of a Danny Boyle. The idea of a working aphrodisiac that drives people to insanity is terrifying, the graphic depictions of the sexual violence are difficult to get through, but it’s the alteration of humanity and the understanding of what one is becoming is what makes it truly frightening. Barker has a really disturbing way of making the reader uncomfortable within the confines of things we should be ok or even enjoy like love, sex, and even our own body. This brings me to the other tale that really stood out to me, ‘The Body Politic’. On the surface the idea of the hands of the world becoming sentient and plotting a bloody coup sounds sort of ridiculous. However the way Barker describes the subtle beginnings, and the ever bloodier uprising makes it surprisingly effective, if not disturbingly fun. The idea of our body turning on us piece by bloody piece is truly frightening. The ‘twist’ at the end gives you the distinct impression that this is a tale that is just beginning and its logical conclusion is left to the reader to tell in the confines of their own mind. There is a beauty in what Barker chooses to NOT ‘show’, as wonderfully graphic as he can be it is what he lets us imagine in the interim that makes his tales something beyond mere horror. Even if this genre isn’t your cup of tea, I can’t recommend the works of Clive Barker enough.

Saturday morning I did a bit of DVR clearing and watched Spirits Of The Dead (*** out of 5).
This late 60’s flick is a trilogy of Edgar Allen Poe by way of France & Italy by three different directors. Let me begin by saying Jane Fonda and Bridgette Bardot were both truly stunning in their respective parts, and I’m not talking the acting. WOW, were those ladies ‘smoke shows’! The first tale was ‘Metzengerstein’ by Roger Vadim starring Jane Fonda. The tale revolves around a noble known for her varied debaucheries who becomes obsessed with her estranged cousin, creepily played by Peter Fonda. There is a lot of things eluded to in this segment, and it is damn near exploitation in nature which surprised me a bit, but it just made Jane Fonda’s Countess Metzengerstein’s journey that more interesting. The crux of the tale revolves around her mental de-compensation and yet emotional growth after ‘accidentally’ having the object of her affect and obsession killed. It’s a strange tale of unrequited love possibly bringing someone piece of mind through a horrible death, it’s all VERY Poe, and I think Vadim really captures that vibe while giving it to us in an almost Hammer style. The second tale is ‘William Wilson’ by Louis Malle. This one has a scene with Bridgette Bardot that is unabashedly exploitation that involves whipping. The story overall of the title character, who is a complete bastard, dealing with either another man of the same name who is his antithesis or just a mental manifestation of guilt into a heroic guise isn’t fully resolved until the final shot which really makes the tale that much more effective. It’s also period shot, so it has that pseudo-Hammer style and look to it. The final flick of the trilogy, ‘Toby Dammit’ by Federico Fellini is the hardest for me to sort of wrap my head around. I’m not a Fellini guy, perhaps I just don’t get his style, and to call this an adaptation is being VERY generous. It seems to me that Fellini liked the loose ‘idea’ of the story and then made it his own. It mainly deals with the title character, in this tale a burnout of a British actor played incredibly by General Zod himself Terrance Stamp, who has an odd relationship with Devil, in Fellini’s version played by a young girl. To me, this views like late 60’s ‘Freak Out’ flick as seen through a boring acid trip. I just didn’t ‘get’ it, and only really enjoyed it for Stamp’s performance. Then again I’ve never claimed to be a film expert or understand things like subtext, I’m just some guy with a blog who blathers on and on about stuff. SO if someone can explain what I missed here, I’d greatly appreciate it. As a whole I enjoyed this flick, but it isn’t something, even with the delicious Jane Fonda and Bridgette Bardot in their hay days, I’d go back to again.

After a hiatus Paizo now back on track with its Shattered Star previews, and WHEW is this one a doozy! The Clockwork Reliquary is something amazing to behold. In fact in my opinion it might be one of the coolest pre-painted minis that have ever been produced. This thing is ENORMOUS, in fact in their blog post over at it was stated that this might very well be the biggest Large miniature ever produced. Seeing it in comparison to a bunch of old Mage Knight figures really shows it’s scale, and it is monstrous. Then you look at its design, and you notice how Steampunk and alien it truly is. The four arms, the three legs give it an almost insect-like quality. Now look real hard into the cylinder itself! There is a curled up skeleton in there! BRILLIANT! I know some folks don’t like ANY Sci-Fi mixed in with their Fantasy; I’m on the far end of that argument. I LOVE having Sci-Fi elements, and even Steampunk, mixed in with my Fantasy. I can’t see limiting myself or my imagination when there are just so many potentially cool ideas out there. This mini encapsulates that perfectly. I’m just blown away at its awesome sauce, and this is a MUST BUY in my book.

How ‘bout some…

I fooled you there didn’t I? You can admit it; I’ll only snicker a little bit. If you aren’t interested in listening to me go over how the game is going then feel free to skip down, it is YOUR LOSS, since this game is BOSS! So I picked up a month long X-box 360 Live Gold Membership to snatch up all the DLC stuff as well as all the fan created stuff I wanted. My roster slots are now TOTALLY filled. I’m serious, 50 slots completely filled. It sucks since I still have at least ten more wrestlers I’d like to add to it. I have four ‘Brands’ going right now; WWE on Mondays with RAW and on Thursday with Smackdown, Tuesday is for NXT, Friday is WCW Nitro, and Saturday is my ECW show. On Wed. there is Superstars which is shared by the NXT and ECW brands. That means every month there are four PPV’s, one per brand. It’s strange, when I was running My Universe before the re-boot after all the downloading Dave’s character was DOMINATING the title scene, and now my character is. Don’t get me wrong David’s character is still one of the top 5 contenders, but he has fallen back to the pack a bit, while my character was immediately thrust into a feud with the ECW Champion Keiji Mutoh. I managed to win that feud and the ECW title, and have since been battling the Gekido faction; Jushin ‘Thunder’ Liger, Jigsaw, and The Great Muta (another guise of the deposed Keiji Mutoh).
I even survived a short, but explosive feud with Dave Batista that culminated with Cody Rhodes from NXT showing up on an ECW PPV post title match to cash in his Money In The Bank title opportunity. It was really cool to have just barely defeated one challenger to have a cut scene of another rushing to the ring to cash in his title opportunity when I was at my weakest. I’m still not sure how I won that match, but the reality is NO ONE gets up from the ‘Pork Fat Express’ finishing move, NO ONE! David has been engaging in a series of matches that has led him into contention for the ECW Television Title putting him at odds with Rob Van Damm, Sabu, and the current champion ‘The Last Of A Dying Breed’ Eddie Kingston. Mike on the other hand has been battling and at the same time teaming with ‘Lightening’ Mike Quackenbush while dealing with Tenzan and Kojima, as well as the tag champs those DAMN Dudley Boyz .

Over on NXT Seth Rollins still holds their main title after surviving a 5-Man Championship Scramble at the Clash Of The Champions PPV. Seeing as I have him as a ‘Face’ in a stable of ‘Heels’ he’s mainly been dealing with the likes of Wade Barrett, Cody Rhodes, and Dolph Ziggler. He’s also got a ‘date’ with ‘Black Machismo’ Jay Lethal who won the NXT version of The Royal Rumble. Meanwhile Epico & Primo hold the tag titles are trying to hold off The Briscoe Brothers as well as the Luchador team of El Hijo Del Santo (the son of El Santo, YES THAT EL SANTO!)
and Blue Demon, Jr.. The Light Heavyweight belt has traded hands a few times and now rests around Santino Marella’s waist, but I don’t see that being for very long. On WCW, the ‘MANMark Henry, he whose heart does NOT bleed Kool Aid, is the current World Champion after he and the Nation Of Domination destroyed Stone Cold Steve Austin in a Hell In The Cell match. Austin then took the U.S. title off the waist of Booker T, and is still trying to get back ‘his’ world title. The Tag Titles are still held by The Road Warriors who are at war with the N.W.O., the Nation Of Domination, & the ‘Masked Marvels’ of Rey Mysterio Jr. & Sin Cara. I haven’t spent as much time with this brand as I planned, but with the rise of Kenta Kobashi through the mid-card I’m going to start. Last but not least is the WWE brand. To be honest I’m not messing with this at all, it’s mainly there to run itself. I’m actually contemplating removing some of the wrestlers I’m more interested in and putting them on other brands. Guys like Daniel Bryan, CM Punk, and Sheamus might be making their ways to the other three brands very quickly. Overall, this game never gets old, and now that I’ll have a 250 GB hard drive installed I just need to figure out how to make playlists of music and then I can have custom music for all those kick ass Create-A-Superstars I downloaded!

Now I think you’re ready for some…


- After seeing how Dan Slott resolved Amazing Spider-Man #700 I’m now on-board with Doc Ock as Peter Parker as The Superior Spider-Man. It’s just genius, game changing, and yet perfect in keeping with the spirit of the book. Who knew that Marvel was now going to try & corner the market on the idea of ‘Legacy’ characters? Marvel NOW has been a revelation.
- Hey! I finally finished doing the Audio Play re-write of the amazing ‘Perfumer’s Apprentice’. In 2013 we’re going to record it. I have high hopes for this project.
- Speaking of projects, I’m thinking of doing a ‘Brick’ comic on this blog. It would be one page every two weeks or so, but at first once a month. My idea is a 70’s exploitation style LEGO post Mayan apocalypse through the lens of Thundarr The Barbarian.
Something fun like this picture.  Thus far my three protagonists would be a Bat Boy kleptomaniac, a two headed mutant woman who doesn’t get along with anyone let alone herself, and a robot bard who sings the ‘Classics’, and by ‘Classics’ I mean 80’s hair metal. It would have antagonists like a Vampire Robot, abandoned space stations, Dinosaurs, and Pirates on trains! So if you have any ideas or want to be a part of that feel free to contact me.
- I’m going to go see The Hobbit Sunday morning. I’m cautiously optimistic.
- I’ve never had Potbelly’s sandwiches before today, work bought them for us. They are damn fine vittles. And the fact that you get some Gardinaire to slather on your food makes it all the better.
- The Year In Evil 2012 episode of the Podcast is tonight. I’m sort of excited for it.
- I've been on a Chikara TEAR of late and I finally finished watching all three discs of 2012's King Of Trios tournament, and then followed it up with the 'Season 11' finale, Under The Hood
Let me just sort of continue the theme I've established in this blog about Chikara, it is amazing.  I think the above picture says that in itself.  Some of the storylines going on this year have been germinating since 2007.  The actual product in the ring is good, most of the performers can really 'go'.  It's funny without being stupid.  The bit Tommy Dreamer pulled with the Remote Control was hysterical, and went on JUST long enough.  I like and am invested in the characters.  After seeing the rift between Jigsaw and Quackenbush come to a head I want to know how it'll resolve.  I want more of Tim Donst screaming at Eddie Kingston 'YOU MADE ME!' while taking another hellacious beating.  And better than any of that, I want to see Ultra Mantis Black achieve his dreams of world domination.  Chikara is just enough wrestling, comic books, comedy, and joy that it scratches every itch I have to be entertained.  I HIGHLY recommend it.
- It's strange, but sometimes you can just look at someone and know that they are 'Crazy'.
- Vikings Vs. Packers on Sunday, and if the Vikings win they are in the playoffs! Also Adrian Peterson has an outside chance, needs 208 yards, to break Eric Dickerson’s single season rushing record. After they got so close to winning in Lambeau, I think that there is a pretty damn good chance, especially after watching them bully the Texans last weekend. I don’t think Peterson will break the record, but you never know, he hit the Packers up for 210 the last time they played.
- Dave is officially divorced. Congrats Soul Brutha #1.

And with that I think I’m spent…

“Within the darkest hour
When the dragon releases its power
They feel the urge to meet
To share and to intertwine

Beneath the leader of the horde
Men and demons are sworn
To kill and grant his grace
They are reflections of the master's face

The night is young and fresh
Witch a scent of macabre on its breath
Scattered they form a pattern
To be seen from the sky

If crimson was your color
Could your conscience bear your soul
Would you paint the space witch murder
Your spirit's breath so cool

They are cowards falling from their own grace
Infiltrating penetrating witch hate
Rounding up marching into the womb
Catatonic spending time in sin.”

* = It's true I do, and that's why Christmas was tits!

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