Wednesday, June 2, 2010

First Look at AMC's The Walking Dead

cross posted from

First Look at AMC's The Walking Dead

Source: AMC
June 2, 2010

Production begins today in Atlanta for AMC's adaptation of the Robert Kirkman comic "The Walking Dead." The six-episode first season--written, produced and directed by three-time Academy Award-nominee Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile) and executive produced by Gale Anne Hurd (The Terminator, Aliens, Armageddon, The Incredible Hulk)--follows a group of survivors, led by police officer Rick Grimes, traveling in search of a safe and secure home after a zombie apocalypse.

AMC has provided us with this video, in which Darabont discusses his inspiration for doing a series about zombies, the thrust of this survival story and his goal to "do for zombies what 'Mad Men' has done for advertising." Hurd also weighs in with her thoughts on the new series. Below the video, you'll also find first-look photos!

If you weren't aware, I am a huge Walking Dead fan and have read every single issue thus far. I'm looking forward to being just as engaged by this show. :)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Real Slime: An Open Letter To Bill Maher

It's no secret I've felt much the same way as Roger Strause does in this article for some time. Bill Maher USED to be really funny.

Ellen Degeneres figured it out the hard way when she got overly preachy and political that her comedy and entertainment value plummeted and her show was cancelled. She decided to just go and be funny again, not bringing politics too into the fray of her show and she gets her own talk show, is one of the most watched morning shows, and is now going to be the next American Idol judge. Ellen "got her groove back".

However, Bill Maher has gotten to the point where just bleats nonsensical chatter for most of his show time. It is evident he has gotten to a point where he reads a headline, gets minimum information to go on a rant about, and comes up with some monologue or topic that smears conservative... anything. He has lost relevance and i feel like his guests are even in the, "what the hell is he talking about?" camp after hearing what he has to say on many topics.

So, without further ado, Roger Strause sums it up.

Real Slime: An Open Letter To Bill Maher
Written by Roger Sause on October 21, 2009

Dear Bill,

I’ll never forget the moment that I became a fan. It was during the height of the Cold War in 1982 when you told one of the funniest jokes I’d ever heard:

“This is serious folks……India has the Bomb! Pakistan has the Bomb! I’m all for cultural development, but these are countries that just got the plans for the phillips screwdriver last week!”

As prophetically unsettling as this joke has turned out to be, it still brings a smile across my face as I write it down 27 years later. Over the decades, your cynical indictment of just about every trope of modern life offered a cleft of intelligent humor during an era in which most people nervously giggled through Seinfeld, Rosanne and the NOT-funny films of Steve Martin and Jim Carrey. It was classic comedic genius—pushing the envelope by questioning cultural bromides that were/are otherwise regarded as social norms. The best thing about what you did was that it was open season on anyone and anything across the entire sociopolitical spectrum. There were always plenty of comics ready to trash religion or the wealthy or white people, but no one in Hollywood had the balls to mock the gay community or feminism or Hip Hop culture for their absurdities the way you did. You always tried to be intellectually honest and called BS on any subject without bias.

This broad-minded objectivity is what built your following and ultimately landed you your breakout series “Politically Incorrect” in 1993. It was also about this time in my life that I experienced a political conversion from a far-left radical to a libertarian. So when you too came out as a libertarian I was all the more emboldened that “we” finally had a powerful voice in popular culture.

Sadly, somewhere along the way the James Dean contrarian and provocateur turned into his own worst nightmare–––a predictable, mealy-mouthed, bitchy little diva, who toes the Hollywood leftist line on every issue as if some communistas are waiting back stage to stomp his guts out if he doesn’t. This trend toward subversion began with your now infamous 911 comments, when you called our military “cowards” compared to the terrorists that attacked us. Although the comment was obviously a gaffe and most people (including many conservatives) forgave you for it, your show was cancelled and from that day forward you would harbor a grudge against authority of any kind–––which manifested itself in an irrational hatred for conservatives and traditional values.

A leftward slant was one thing, and that was your prerogative in a free society. But when you began making sarcastic and disparaging remarks about children, arguing that animals are better than humans, and even going so far as to compare the First Lady to Hitler’s dog, you crossed a line for many of us. Admittedly there were plenty of things to criticize about the Bush administration, but do you even realize how ridiculous you look when you claim to be a libertarian and then carry the water for the most collectivist president (Obama) in this country’s history? Championing socialized medicine? Abolishing the second amendment? A libertarian collectivist? That’s about as philosophically duplicitous as it gets.

But the most pathetic thing is when you expose your lack of education (both formal and informal) with your crackpot “theories.” This was no more evident than in the season finale of Real Time this past friday, where you asserted that it was doctors and patients “colluding together” to “corrupt” the healthcare system. This statement was so absurd and bizarre that your entire guest panel (all liberals) and even your reliably sycophantic studio audience just stared at you in disbelief. After three seconds of uncomfortable silence both the audience and panel (that included Chris Matthews and Alec Baldwin) erupted in laughter—not with you, but AT you.

Things unraveled further when you launched into a diatribe defending more stupid comments you’d made the previous week about vaccines being “dangerous medical procedures.” Both Matthews and Baldwin were visibly disgusted by this, which resulted in Matthews aggressively confronting you and making you look like an idiot—again. Finally, Baldwin tried to stop the bleeding by suggesting that discussing last weeks topic was “like going on a date and talking about your ex wife…..let’s move on!” This got a roar from the crowd, but instead of rolling with the segue you petulantly attacked Baldwin with “Maybe we should talk about some of your past problems?” I’m no Baldwin sympathizer, but throwing a spotlight on his domestic transgressions was a low blow delivered to a guest who was only trying to keep you from melting down on your own show. Your fans saw this for the cheap shot that it was and the joke stiffed.

Face it Bill, you’re a shell of your former self. Where once there was introspect there is now ignorance. Where once there was swagger there is now spitefulness. And where once there was charisma there remains only a juvenile cockiness devoid of any genuine confidence to back it up. Conservative intellectuals consider you an idiot. Liberal intellectuals consider you a useful idiot. And libertarian intellectuals consider you an embarrassment to our cause. So here’s some advice to prevent bringing further embarrassment upon us and yourself. FYI “libertine” and “libertarian” are two entirely different words with entirely different meanings. I realize that they probably didn’t teach this in high school or at the mall, but you are the former–––not the latter. Please look this up in the dictionary to confirm. I would also recommend boning up on Alinsky and Chomsky before next season so you can at least deliver a coherent left-wing message (if such a thing is possible). Otherwise those uncomfortable silences and roaring laughs at your expense will continue while you slowly fade from cultural and sociopolitical relevance.


Roger Sause

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Marvel's War of Kings Review

The War of Kings is over. At least for the most part. The "Who Will Rule?" book is released next week, but the war itself is over and some aftermath is felt.

After the Annihilation Wave struck, the Phalanx (an ultimately Ultron) made a play for much of the galaxy or universe, or however big the scope of these battles is. While that was happening, the Skrulls, decimated from the Annihilation Wave, enacted their "Secret Invasion" of Earth. Obviously, that plot failed, but it evidently left the Inhumans pretty ticked off that all these people keep trying to beat them up on the moon while on their way to Earth-proper. Well, they've had enough, and that begins the War of Kings.... that, and crazy Emperor Vulcan of the Shi'ar Empire.

It turns out the Inhumans are really a big experiment by the Kree (another empire weakened by Annihilus and the Phalanx) to evolve humans into becoming spies and assassins for them. Emboldened and pissed off by all the waiting for bad things to happen to them, the Inhumans are off to claim the weakened Kree empire as their own.

Except for the ending, most of the story plays out just how you think it's going to. The Kree get attacked by the Shi'ar, you throw some Inhumans, Negative Zone baddies, and you have yourself a war... of kings... however minor.

I'm obviously trying not to give too much away in this, but you will definitely see some pretty major characters die. Most of this is attached to the politics and tension of the situations that surround all sides of the war. I think the politics of these events really make up most of the intrigue in the Marvel Cosmic events. It was cool to see Ronan the Accuser take over the Kree after the Annihilation War. It is still cool to see that even now, parts of the universe are being run by old enemies and no one has been completely exterminated because the previous wars have taken too much out of everyone. Honestly, I'm more invested in the Cosmic side of things than the Earth heroes because things are just that much more volatile. More is at stake, the problems are bigger, heroes seem more.... heroic.

What YOU want to know is: Is this worth my time and is it better than Conquest?

Answer: Yes, and about the same.

I'm not going to compare it to Annihilation, because that first one kicked ass quite a bit. It is not as good as that. Conquest I felt was a bit too overreaching and long, but definitely had some great moments that made me really enjoy it. Sure, Wraith felt tacked on and Phyla-Vel was pretty damn annoying most of the time, but we got the Guardians of the Galaxy and Adam Warlock back along with some Phalanx and Ultron coolness. Oh, and let's not forget Nova getting infected and creating some great stories in that book (Technoarchs rock!)

That said, I don't think War of Kings has the scope that the Annihilation stories did. It is still spacey and big, but I felt that the battles didn't mean as much. The Guardians of the Galaxy were far more behind the scenes and in this they are able to take a much more active roll in protecting galactic balance. You may want to shoot Phyla in the face though. Something like Conquest would largely be too big for them, although Adam Warlock tends to be a force unto himself. I think Dan Abnett realized this and had to devise a way to take The Nova Prime out of most of the fight. Richard Rider would have beaten entirely too many "big guns" to make most of the battles worth while. I would have liked to see him take on Gladiator for a few rounds, but oh well.

Something that surprised me was that I thought the Starjammers were a very cool team. I didn't know who most of them were, but for the most part, they were fun to follow. I'm sure this was mostly because they were being hunted by the Shi'ar for the entire story. I'm not sure how they logically made Havok channeling cosmic power now, but the guy is a good leader. Emperor Vulcan is his brother, so there is a bit of drama there, but it really only serves the "you killed our father" and "how could I be related to someone so awful?" angst.

The picture shows the principal characters of the entire story, although, I feel like they never really knew what to do with Blastaar and his armies. The Guardians of the Galaxy and Nova deal with him a bit, but he seems like more of a distraction than anything.

Ahem, so Blastaar, Darkhawk, Black Bolt, Gladiator, Crystal (Black Bolt's sister), Emperor Vulcan, and Lilandra Nermani all play the most major roles in the conflict (I might have lopped off Blastaar and replaced him with Adam Warlock, Havok, or Medusa (Black Bolt's wife).

Since I'm not a huge X-men follower, much of the X-men backstories were lost on me, which means a lot of Shi'ar things as well. The "War of Kings Saga" issue in this is essential if you don't follow every Marvel storyline ever told, like me. This thing gave a decent rundown of what the heck is going on with all these people. Who knew there was another Summers brother!? I also wish they didn't just come up with alternate reality versions of characters just to satiate some fans (Rachel Gray). Now that I'm thinking about it, no wonder I don't follow the X-men anymore....

I feel like the whole story really opened some doors for Crystal and Darkhawk.... perhaps Gladiator as well. Gladiator was the one I knew of the most, but I came out really understanding some Crystal and Darkhawk a bit more. I'm not sure how fleshed out their characters were to begin with, but they really opened up in War of Kings.

I didn't even know Darkhawk was that young and still lived with his parents. Wasn't he working for Project P.E.G.A.S.U.S.? Seems he'd get some cash from that... Regardless, he's a Cosmic character now, which ought to make him suck less.

There are definitely issues you can skip in this. Most notably, the War of Kings: Skaar, Son of Hulk issue. It served no purpose. Maybe they were trying to capitalize on those people who were really into World War Hulk a few years back? Stupid story that had no bearing on the War of Kings, so if you come across it, skip it.

To top it all off, it looks like we have a new (or old) cosmic villain in the mix once everything is over. I am a bit geeked for it myself. Oh yeah, and space might have a few more tears in it by the end of it all. Who doesn't love good guys fighting bad guys coming though Space-time tears though?

For the most part, I enjoyed the War of Kings and look forward to the upcoming Realm of Kings. This got me to like the Guardians of the Galaxy more and helped me get into the Inhumans a bit. It definitely changed the cosmic landscape and you should read it if you love all things epic and space-related. Perhaps there will be some grand story called the Saga of Kings that comes out of it all.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Bang! - The Addictive Spaghetti Western Game Review

My take on games in general seems to be one of only buying games that I can have anyone play, ones with varying themes so people don't get bored (Dragons, Orcs, and Viking looking warriors, and anything-goes Party games only go so far) and ones that are generally a blast to play. Given all the praise and attention people seemed to be giving Bang!, I finally decided to snatch up the last copy at my local comic shop. I'm very glad I did.

I opened the box just being aware of the basic beats of the game. I knew "Bang!" cards shot people, "Miss" cards made you miss the shot, and there were roles to be played out. However, all the rest of the cards do a great job of really fledging out the gameplay and making that theme actually work as a shootout.


When you sit down for a game, you have your little 3-card, 5-life "base" in front of you. Basically, it keeps track of your life (an amount of bullets you are alloted, given your character) and upgrades to guns for you and other people. However, you won't know what to put on this base until the cards are dealt.

Roles are dealt out with the amount of outlaws and deputies changing with the amount of players. No one reveals who they are in the game except for the sheriff, who starts the gameplay. You'll also get a character that acts as a special ability in the game. Only you will be able to do what the card says unless someone upgrades later. This character card also shows you how many life bullets you start with. That last slot on your base tells you how far you can shoot, which you can upgrade later. You initially only have a range of 1. Range is determined by how far left or right the target is sitting.

Now that you are set up, The sheriff starts up by taking 2 cards (which everyone always does at the beginning of their turn) and starts playing cards as he sees fit. This is really where all the "Bang!" shots are fired, players try to evade, you get to upgrade, and so on. There are 2 types of cards; Blue-bordered "in-play" cards and brown-bordered instant-action cards. The blue ones are things like gun upgrades, range upgrades, dynamite, and other things that last longer than just that turn. All other cards are instantly acted upon and discarded. Once a player is done with their turn, they need to have only as many cards in their hand as they do life bullets. As you get shot more, you can carry less cards.

The sheriff is trying to kill the outlaws and the renegade, the outlaws are trying to kill the sheriff, the deputies are trying to help the sheriff kill the outlaws, and the renegade pretty much wants everyone to kill each other off.


Really, my only qualm is one that happens a lot with new games, which is just reading what is happening on each card you get and figuring out what each card does. For a bunch of 5 first-timers, there was a lot of reading the cards and the booklet to figure out just what you could do with your cards. Our second game went A LOT more smoothly, and was much more fun once the down-time was cut and the shots were just flying all over the place.

I can also see where, if you were killed early, this game might irritate or bore you a bit. You want to play the game with your friends, not sit on the sidelines watching others duke it out. You also need to watch out for people that get upset if people are actually shooting at them. "Why the **** are you shooting at me!?" might happen. Although, sometimes you just lose games, so these are small gripes.


Pretty much everything else in this game works really well. LOTS of player interaction happens wether it be from laughing at the stupid character someone got, watching someone get blown up by the dynamite, or the rampant swearing that goes on when players are trading shots, gunning for each other, it's all a blast. I really like Westerns, so this just puts the game over the top for me.

Final thoughts

The reason for games in general is to pass the time and have fun while you are doing it. There is so much interaction in this game trying to shoot your friends and playing the right card at the right time, that I have to absolutely recommend this game. I would even say this is a great party game that your entire family will love, although I can see kids maybe being upset at being killed off early or why Mom shot them.

I highly recommend Bang! for your group game collection!