July 2008

  • SciFi Schlockfest is Coming


    SciFi Channel Logo

    The Saturday SciFi movies are really starting to pile up on my DVR, and I’ve been looking for an opportunity to sit down for a little schlock-fest. That opportunity has arisen: Laura and Kyle have gone to Florida for a week with my mother-in-law, sister-in-law and her family. I had originally planned to go, too, but the timing isn’t ideal from a work perspective, so I opted to stay home. This leaves me in a very quiet house with two cats, an Xbox, a PC with yet another dying hard drive, and a DVR chock full of movies from “The Most Dangerous Night of Television”.

    Here’s just a sampling of the movies I’ll be enjoying over the next seven days:

    • Alien Lockdown. Two words: Martin Kove. Yeah, the dude from Hard Time on Planet Earth. 1And also a little film called The Karate Kid. Yeah, I’m the only one who remembers that show. So what? Oh, and it was directed by Tim Cox, the fellow who brought us Mammoth. 2Well, brought me Mammoth, because I know I’m the only one who watched that.
    • Anaconda 3: The Offspring starring David Hasselhoff and John Rhys-Davies. That’s right, snakes hasslin’ the Hoff.
    • Aztec Rex. Dinosaurs and conquistadors in Mesoamerica!
    • BloodMonkey. Yes! Pan Sanguia! I really have no idea what this is about, but the title is made of awesome.
    • Beyond/Beneath Loch Ness. The DVR says “Beneath”, but SciFi.com says “Beyond“. Which will it be?
    • Ghouls. Something about teenagers, probably getting eaten. By ghouls, I guess.
    • Living Hell. “The military created it. An accident set it free. Now one man must lead us to survival or extinction.” I hope that one man is Vincent Ventresca. It’s not? Crap, we’re screwed.
    • Odysseus: Voyage to the Underworld starring Arnold Vosloo, because they got Jet Li for the second Mummy sequel.
    • Rise: Blood Hunter. Lucy Liu! Michael Chiklis! Robert Forster! Why is this the first time I’m hearing of this movie?

    That’s just a sampling. I know there are a couple more, but I can’t think of them off the top of my head.

    1 And also a little film called The Karate Kid.
    2 Well, brought me Mammoth, because I know I’m the only one who watched that.
  • Preview: The Great Superhero Movie Project


    [EDIT: The Great Superhero Movie Project now has its own page. You may leave movie suggestions and/or comments here or there.]

    Mystery Men
    I’ve gotten some interesting feedback (both in the comments here and on Twitter) regarding my Top Ten Superhero Movies Since the Dawn of Time lists. Some folks agree with me, some don’t, but the question I hear most often usually begins with words along these lines: “Hey, you forgot about…”

    And I did. The first time around, I definitely snubbed Mystery Men; after the second iteration The Kingfish wondered where (or if) Hancock placed on the list, David Mead asked about Darkman and Rachel “Nycteris” Ross brought up Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer.

    I Have a Plan

    I’m not one to leave a stone unturned—whether that stone was bitten by radioactive bats, sent to Earth by a race of alien vampires or just found some sexy tights and decided to start kicking people in the face—so I’ve come up with a plan to turn all the stones in one fell swoop.

    Okay, two fell swoops.

    The First Swoop: My Job – Two Lists

    First, I’m going to make two lists: every superhero movie I’ve ever seen and superhero movies I know about but haven’t seen.

    The Second Swoop: Your Job – The Third List

    Second, I want you to submit movies that I’ve overlooked. Yes, you. If you’re reading this and you’re aware of a superhero movie that is not on either of my lists, I want you to comment here and tell me about it. I’ll add all of these to my third list: superhero movies I didn’t know (or forgot) existed.

    The Third Swoop: My Job – Watch, Rate, Review

    Oh, wait, there’s a third fell swoop: I’m going to watch every one of the movies on all three lists. If I haven’t seen the movie in the past two years, I’m going to watch or re-watch it and then I’m going to write a review (unless I’ve already written one, in which case I may tweak an existing review).

    Sound like fun? Sound like a lot of work? It might be, but let me set up some guidelines here so we don’t get all crazy-go-nuts with the lists. Pay attention.

    What is a Superhero Movie?

    • The “movie” part of the definition is easy: All movies, whether they were theatrical releases, straight to DVD or even made for television; if it’s a movie, it gets on the list. Note that movies made as pilots for or as direct spinoffs of a television series don’t count, so The Incredible Hulk starring Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno is not eligible, 1This includes The Incredible Hulk Returns, The Trial of The Incredible Hulk and The Death of the Incredible Hulk, movies that were made after the series was cancelled. Don’t worry, these will … Continue reading but Captain America II: Death Too Soon starring Reb Brown and Christopher Lee is.
    • The tricky bit of the definition is “superhero”, as I’ve already been asked whether Transformers is a superhero movie (it’s not) and if Hellboy should count (it does). I can’t exactly pin the energon cube on why Transformers doesn’t qualify; it just doesn’t. Comic book movie, yes; superhero movie, no. 2I’ll do a separate Comic Book Movie list later, so all you 300 fangirls can nominate your favorite computer-enhanced pectoral muscles. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’ll decide whether a movie qualifies as superheroic or not. If you’re not sure, nominate it and if I reject it I’ll do my best to tell you why.
    • Superheroes do not need to be in or come from comic books to be eligible. The Incredibles is a great example of an original superhero movie that was not a comic book first. Black Scorpion is also an example, though under no circumstances should the word “great” be associated with it.
    • Oh, and movie serials aren’t elibigle. They’re just not.
    • If in doubt, nominate.

    The First List – Superhero Movies I’ve Seen

    1. Batman: The Movie (1966)
    2. Batman (1989)
    3. Batman Returns (1992)
    4. Batman Forever (1995)
    5. Batman & Robin (1997)
    6. Batman Begins (2005)
    7. The Dark Knight (2008)
    8. Black Scorpion (1995)
    9. Captain America (1979)
    10. Captain America II: Death Too Soon (1979)
    11. Captain America (1990)
    12. Catwoman (2004)
    13. Daredevil (2003)
    14. Darkman (1992)
    15. Darkman II: The Return of Durant (1994)
    16. Darkman III: Die Darkman Die (1996)
    17. Doctor Strange (Animated, 2007)
    18. Elektra (2005)
    19. Fantastic Four (2005)
    20. Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007)
    21. Ghost Rider (2007)
    22. Hellboy (2004)
    23. Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008)
    24. Hellboy Animated: Sword of Storms (2006) [Added 19 July 2008]
    25. Hellboy Animated: Blood and Iron (2007) [Added 19 July 2008]
    26. Hulk (2003)
    27. The Incredible Hulk (2008)
    28. The Incredibles (Animated, 2004)
    29. The Invincible Iron Man (Animated, 2007)
    30. Iron Man (2008)
    31. Justice League: The New Frontier (2008) [Added 18 July 2008]
    32. Lightspeed (2006)
    33. Mystery Men (1999)
    34. The Phantom (1996)
    35. The Punisher (1989)
    36. The Punisher (2004)
    37. The Shadow (1994)
    38. Spider-Man (2002)
    39. Spider-Man 2 (2004)
    40. Spider-Man 3 (2007)
    41. Superman (1978)
    42. Superman II (1980)
    43. Superman III (1983)
    44. Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987)
    45. Superman Returns (2006)
    46. Superman: Doomsday (2008) [Added 19 July 2008]
    47. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990)
    48. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze (1991)
    49. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: Turtles in Time (1993)
    50. TMNT (2007)
    51. Ultimate Avengers (Animated, 2006)
    52. Ultimate Avengers 2: Rise of the Panther (Animated, 2006)
    53. Unbreakable (2000)
    54. X-Men (2000)
    55. X2: X-Men United (2003)
    56. X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)

    Okay, that’s a lot of movies, many of which I haven’t watched in well over two years. Some of them, like the 1994 never-released version of The Fantastic Four, will be a bit tricky to track down, but I’ll do my best. For science!

    The Second List – Superhero Movies I Haven’t Seen

    1. Black Mask (1996)
    2. Black Mask 2: City of Masks (2002)
    3. Black Scorpion II: Aftershock (1997)
    4. Blankman (1994) [Added 19 July 2008]
    5. Dr. Strange (1978)
    6. Fantastic Four (1994)
    7. Hancock (2008)
    8. The Meteor Man (1993) [Added 19 July 2008]
    9. Silver Hawk (2004)
    10. Steel (1997)
    11. Underdog (2007)

    That’s a short list. Much shorter than I anticipated. It may get even shorter if I decide to disqualify Black Mask and Silver Hawk in order to prevent a deluge of martial arts movies masquerading as superhero movies. A guy has to set limits somewhere, right?

    The Third List – The Ones I Don’t Know About

    Now it’s your turn: if you know of a superhero movie I missed, please leave a comment and nominate it!

    1 This includes The Incredible Hulk Returns, The Trial of The Incredible Hulk and The Death of the Incredible Hulk, movies that were made after the series was cancelled. Don’t worry, these will all be eligible for a future list: The Best Television Superheroes in the History of Televising Superheroics.
    2 I’ll do a separate Comic Book Movie list later, so all you 300 fangirls can nominate your favorite computer-enhanced pectoral muscles.
  • Iron Man
    I have now seen all 1Oops! Forgot about Hancock, starring The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Sorry, Will! of this summer’s slate of superhero movies. I’ll do a more in-depth write up shortly, but for those wondering whether The Dark Knight managed to unseat Iron Man from the number one position on my list of the Top Superhero Movies of Forever and Ever, Amen, the short answer is no.

    The slightly longer answer is: not by a long shot.

    The Dark Knight is not a bad movie—I gave it a solid 7 out of 10 stars—but it’s note a great movie, either. I’ll be posting a full review in the next couple of days, so let’s get back to the list.

    Though Iron Man remains safely (for now; Watchmen is coming and the trailer is absolutely stunning) in the top spot, the summer blockbusters have shaken things up a bit in the middle and lower ranks.

    Without going into excruciating detail, here are The Ten Superhero Movies (Summer 2008 Edition):

    1. Iron Man
    2. Hellboy
    3. Batman Begins
    4. X2: X-Men United
    5. The Dark Knight
    6. X-Men
    7. Hellboy II: The Golden Army
    8. The Incredible Hulk
    9. The Incredibles
    10. Spider-Man

    Something feels a bit off about the middle of this list; I may have to tweak it a bit once I’ve written reviews of The Dark Knight, The Incredible Hulk and Hellboy II: The Golden Army.

    1 Oops! Forgot about Hancock, starring The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Sorry, Will!
  • Brave Men Run - I Will Be ThereMatthew Wayne Selznick‘s Brave Men Run: A Novel of the Sovereign Era is the latest podiobook to make the jump to the print market. The book will be released by Swarm Press this Sunday, 13 July 2008, and Matt has planned a day-long “Book Release Web-a-thon” to help promote sales on Amazon.com. There are plenty of details at the the book’s official site but the gist is this: beginning at 10am EST on Sunday and continuing every hour throughout the day, Matt will be streaming live video and reading new short stories set in the universe of his novels. Contributors include Mur Lafferty (Playing For Keeps), J.C. Hutchins (the 7th Son trilogy), Nathan Lowell (South Coast, Quarter Share) and other well-known podcasters and podiobook authors.

    Brave Men Run is the story of Nate Charters, a teenaged boy who is about as far from normal as teenagers get: he looks different and he has abilities that he has kept hidden from his peers for his entire life. But when the existence of the so-called “Sovereigns” is announced on live television, Nate learns that he is not alone, and his life changes forever. Brave Men Run is a superhero coming-of-age story that doesn’t feel like it was lifted from the pages of a comic book, but rather like it was born in the halls of your own high school and on the streets of your home town.

    Brave Men Run: A Novel of the Sovereign Era is still available as a free, serialized audiobook at Podiobooks.com, read by the author. The audio version was nominated for a Parsec Award in 2006.

  • Pseudopod: the sound of horror

    In the dead of night, while all the world slumbered and creatures of unspeakable horror stirred beneath billions of beds, the latest episode of Pseudopod, The Sound of Horror, emerged from its glistening cocoon. Go, now, and listen to Among the Moabites by Michael Hartford, a tale of unexpected visitors and a little voyeurism. (Caution: Pseudopod is intended for mature audiences.)

  • Welcome to Parenthood: 30 Months


    Sidewalk NapSomewhere just before the two-year mark, parents typically stop reporting their child’s age in months. I had planned to report my young apprentice’s age in weeks until he legally became an adult, but that plan dropped by the wayside when I forgot to actually keep track of how many weeks old he is. I could have easily written a widget to manage that little bit of data for me, but it’s a little late in the game to go back to tracking the weeks; the last thing I want to be is gimmicky.

    Kyle will not technically be thirty months old until the thirteenth of July but I suspect that, developmentally, not a whole lot will change in the next six days. On the other hand, he picks things up very quickly these days, so I suppose it’s possible that he might potty-train, count to twelve, learn to read and develop a cheap, clean and completely renewable energy source by next week. That’s just how far the Pendulum of Parental Expectations™ swings these days.

    Yesterday, as I sat on the couch with a box of tissues trying to cope with an allergy attack, Kyle climbed on to my lap, looked up my nose and declared, “You got a boogie, Daddy.” He then climbed off my lap and headed for the stairs. “I get it!” he exclaimed as he ascended. He disappeared into the master bedroom and emerged a moment later, descending the stairs with a cotton swab clutched in his hand.

    Laura and I occasionally use cotton swabs to clean Kyle’s nose when he has a particularly crusty cold, but those swabs are in a small box, tucked away in his room where he (ostensibly) can’t get at them. However, after watching daddy’s post-shower rituals on occasion, Kyle knows that there are cotton swabs in a jar we keep on a shelf over the toilet in the master bathroom; a toilet that he sometimes climbs when he wants to wash his hands with daddy.

    So, Kyle descended with the cotton swab he got out of our bathroom 1Time, I think, to move the cotton swabs. and climbed back onto my lap. “Oh,” I said, reaching for the swab, “thank you!”

    “I get it!” he repeated, and before I could stop him he jammed the tip of the cotton swab up my left nostril.

    I don’t know if he got the boogie, but I managed to stop him short of drawing blood. Not, however, short of causing a firestorm of agony in my nose.

    Tree HuggerA very helpful and considerate firestorm of agony. And that made it worth the pain.

    1 Time, I think, to move the cotton swabs.
  • Origins 2008 Wrap-up


    Here’s how it went down: Chris Miller and I hit the road in the MVoD at approximately 6:00 Friday morning, armed with a cooler full of bottled water, some geeky t-shirts and our Zoom H2 digital voice recorder.


    • Arriving at around 9:00, we met Mur Lafferty, Jim Van Verth, the Pink Tornado, Cmaaarrr and SciFi Laura for breakfast at Max & Erma’s, buffet style.
    • Registration. Piece of cake! Pro tip: pre-register; it saves time and money. I decided not to buy any event passes because I wanted to play it by ear. I didn’t even pick up a handy program guide; I was totally footloose and fancy free.
    • The Board Room: Rio Grande Games was giving away two free games with the purchase of a $16 pass to the Board Room. I snagged Crocodile Pool Party and Dragonriders. I wound up selling Dragonriders for $10 to a random guy in the hall about four hours later.
    • While in the Board Room, we played Pandemic with Mur, Jim, Cmar and Laura. I want this game, but it is apparently very scarce at the moment.
    • Lunch at The North Market. I played it safe and went with a known quantity: General Tso’s Chicken. During lunch the phrase “Give in to your sapphic desires!” was uttered, entirely within the context of the conversation.
    • Arkham Horror on Flickr, by codeshamanBack to the Board Room for some Arkham Horror with all the expansions. We were joined by Shannon Farrell and Carlos (whose last name I can never remember). Three and a half hours later, we had to wrap up the game due to time constraints. By the end of the game, Cmar had tapped Granny no less than fifteen times; she was exhausted, but he was not.
    • Eventually we found ourselves gathered for dinner at Buca di Beppo with all of the above plus David Moore, Mario Dongu, Rachel Ross, John and JD. No vicious Internet rumors were started after I finished my linguine. None.
    • Karaoke at The Big Bar on Two in the Hyatt. Paul Tevis nailed Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” and Rob Balder performed “Always a Goth Chick”, his parody of Billy Joel’s “Always a Woman.” Everyone else sucked. One whiskey sour, one Long Island Iced Tea and two gin and tonics later, it was…
    • Bedtime!


    • Breakfast with David, Shannon, Cmaaarrr and SciFi Laura at Max & Erma’s.
    • Chris had to return home unexpectedly due to an emergency (don’t worry, everyone’s fine).
    • I took a quick trip to Best Buy, where I bought a Fujifilm Finepix J10 digital camera.
    • I met up with Gunnar “Miscellaneous G™” Hultgren and Jon “Man Mountain” Pollom for lunch at The North Market. How many days in a row can I eat General Tso’s Chicken for lunch? The world may never know.
    • Wonder WomanArmed with my new camera, I roamed the halls of the convention center looking for photo-ops. I managed to get a picture of Wonder Woman, but that was about it. I also visited the dealer’s room and carefully avoided the Chessex Bin o’ Hepatitis (more commonly referred to as the big dice bin; I was tempted to pick up some cheap dice, but the idea of rooting around in there just wasn’t very appealing).
    • FeedbackLater in the afternoon, I attended the Heroes and Villains costume contest, sponsored by the Ohio Gamers Association. There weren’t hundreds (or even hundred, singular) of contestants, but there were some very good costumes. Matthew “Feedback” Atherton, winner of season one of Who Wants to Be a Superhero? was the master of ceremonies and he did a very good job and hung around to chat with people afterward. He even did a promo for the upcoming release of Mur’s superhero novel, Playing For Keeps (available on Amazon.com, August 25th). The guy is just too damn likable.
    • Mur “dragged” us to a barbecue where we played Mad Scientist University. The card game was ridiculously fun, owing to some excellent players with truly wild imaginations. I knew we were in for a treat early on when Ralph Melton equipped dwarfs with decoder rings, shrunk them down Inner Space-style and injected them into a human being to decode RNA. We created a bizarre continuity involving vampires, penguins, the Moore sphere, and a fifty-page index written by mosquitos. Much of the game was recorded by David Moore and may eventually be released to the public, but only after heavy censoring by the Department of Homeland Security.
    • Tannhäuser in ProgressDavid had to run off to play the role of an NPC in an ARG and it was Mur’s evening with The Pink Tornado, so Jim, Cmar, Laura and I went to the Board Room and broke out Tannhäuser, which is essentially a first-person shooter board game. I had played once before but opted not to participate, instead providing occasional helpful (I hope) tips with the rules based on my prior experience. I started zonking out around midnight, so it was soon…
    • Bedtime!


    • At 10:00, we met for breakfast with the gang and Max & Erma’s. How many days in a row can I eat the same buffet for breakfast? Three.
    • After breakfast, David, Mario and I returned to Room 929 to record The Secret Lair Origins Report. Assuming I didn’t completely fail my Use Zoom H2 Digital Recorder roll, we should have that posted in the next couple of days.
    • At noon, I dashed to the dealer’s room to buy AmuseAmaze, a word game that I thought Laura might enjoy. By some stroke of luck, I found the rest of our merry gang playing some sort of card game and managed to say my goodbyes before dashing back to the Crown Plaza to…
    • Pile my luggage and loot onto a cart, load up the MVoD and hit the highway.

    And that pretty much wrapped it up for Origins 2008. With Mr. Miller soon moving to the Los Angeles area, I don’t know whether I’ll be inclined to attend Origins 2009, but I do know that my next convention is Con on the Cob in early October.