Friday, December 14, 2007

I Am Legend opens today

This is a movie I've been anticipating for a long, long time.

I'm a fan of Richard Matheson's original novel, the 1964 Vincent Price adaptation The Last Man on Earth, and the 1971 Charlton Heston re-adaptation The Omega Man. Each one has various bits that I enjoy, and each in their own way speak as much about their times as they do about the original story.

About 8 years ago I heard some buzz about another remake. Ridley Scott was rumored to be directing and the leading actor under consideration at the time was Arnold Schwarzenegger. A script, written by Mark Protosevich, was floating around on the Internet so I found a copy and gave it a read.

I was impressed by the script and the way the action was updated. I thought it would make a decent version of the story. My other conclusion was that Arnold wouldn't be right for it -- my choice would have been Kurt Russell.

Then a couple of years ago, the remake was being talked about again with Will Smith in the lead -- and it actually got produced! I see that Protosevich is still listed as a writer, but now Akiva Goldsman is sharing that title. My guess is that he was called in to do some polishing and update it with Will Smith in mind. I wonder how much of Protosevich's original is still left?

You can read Protosevich's original script for yourself and compare it to the movie. I also see now that there is a John Logan version out there too, but I haven't read it. Both Logan and Protosevich are from Chicago. Coincidence?

In a later post I'll discuss other post-apocalyptic and dystopian movies.

Bonus link: A page showing other posters for the I Am Legend ad campaign. They are shots of various world cities after the disaster. I haven't seen these anywhere else. Scary stuff but well done!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Trek Remastered -- "A Taste of Armageddon"

This weekend's new Remastered episode is "A Taste of Armageddon". This is the one where the crew finds themselves caught between two warring planets. It's not technically a Kirk-vs.-computer story, but there are computers involved, and then... no, I don't want to ruin the denouement for you.

This is a classic episode, with has all the best bits that you love about The Original Series: Kirk has a great passionate speech, Spock gets in some good lines, there's several fights using Kirk-fu... even Scotty has good scenes.
I fondly remember it running often in the syndication rotation when I was growing up. This is one of my favorites. I even have a copy of the script (geek check, I know...). Check it out!

An extra treat: This is the original establishing shot matte, followed by the new CGI version. Yes, those are moving monorails in the background.

More climate news to worry about

Remember what I said about a tipping point?

Scientists take 2007's temperature

Scientist: 'Arctic is screaming'

Ominous Arctic Melt Worries Experts

Can the Planet Be Saved in Bali?

EU Threatens to Boycott US Climate Talks

EU gives U.S. ultimatum on climate

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

2008 may be another 1982 for genre movies

I knew there were some big movies planned for next year, but it wasn't until I read something that Bill Hunt said over at The Digital Bits that it sunk in. Next year is shaping up to be another 1982 -- Cloverfield, The Spiderwick Chronicles, 10,000 B.C., Stargate SG-1, The Forbidden Kingdom, Iron Man, Speed Racer, Prince Caspian, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, The Incredible Hulk, Get Smart, Wall-E, The Incredible Shrinking Man, Hellboy II, The Dark Knight, The X-Files 2, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, Dragonball, Death Race, Where the Wild Things Are, Bond 22, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, The Day the Earth Stood Still, and Star Trek.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Trek Remastered -- "The Return of the Archons"

"It's almost the red hour!"

The episode for this upcoming weekend is "The Return of the Archons". It's not quite in the same league as "City on the Edge of Forever", but it's still a great fan-favorite.

One of the best Kirk-vs.-Computer stories, it's also a really creepy episode. With the period sets and costumes, it almost has the look of a Hammer film. The anti-authority, anti-Communist theme still resonates. It scared the heck out of a lot of people at the time. Recommended!

The 30-second preview is here. "Are you of the body?"

Update: Remastered screenshots and video here.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Trek Remastered -- "The Alternative Factor"

This weekend's episode is "The Alternative Factor". It's an ambitious first season episode about a person caught between two parallel universes. If they didn't have the production and editing problems, this could have been really terrific.

Click on the link above for the spooky trailer.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Trek Remastered -- rerun of "Space Seed"

This weekend is a rerun of "Space Seed", where the Enterprise finds Khan and his followers. Coincidentally (or maybe not), today is Ricardo Montalban's birthday.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Trek Remastered -- "The Doomsday Machine" re-run

This weekend is an encore presentation (that is, a rerun) of "The Doomsday Machine", originally shown as a remastered episode this February.

I won't repeat my introduction to it (with photos), but if you haven't seen it yet try to catch it this time. It is by far the best of the remastered eps so far. It has the benefit of being one of the Original Series episodes with the most "space" scenes, so there was a lot that CBS Digital could do with it.

I had seen the original "Doomsday..." about a half-dozen times, but the remastered version really was like seeing it for the first time. The new effects help crank up the tension quite a bit, and I was literally on the edge of my seat watching it.

Well, yes, I just repeated myself. But it's that good.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Hollywood, the Writers Guild strike, and me

I've been reading bits and pieces on comic book/TV/animation writer Mark Evanier's blog for months now about the possibility of a strike, and now that it's happened I think I understand the issues fairly well. If you're not certain what it's all about, take three minutes to watch Why We Fight, a video overview of the current situation and how we got here.

It's very encouraging to see that the Screen Actors Guild is supporting the WGA so strongly. They, and the Directors Guild of America, will be negotiating next year as their current contracts come to an end, and it's likely that they will be looking for the same agreements.

My plan of support is based on some things I've read here and there on the 'net. I will watch the new episodes of my favorite shows, but once they run out and go into rerun mode, I'm done. I'll also send letters to the local affiliates and the corporate offices to explain why. That's really the only way to show support: hit the studios in the pocketbook and let them know that you are. It's the same as when you write to support a cancelled show or if you see something you object to on TV. I have stacks of DVDs, books, and other responsibilities to keep me occupied while this gets hashed out.

A great place for more news and information about this topic from the inside is United Hollywood, and check out Fans4Writers for the fan perspective.

Trek Remastered -- "The Deadly Years"

"When Enterprise discovers a colony full of rapidly-aging scientists, whatever caused the rapid aging inflicts them as well." And then the Romulans attack!

The 30-second preview and a couple of new Romulan ship photos are here. I'm staying up late to watch this tomorrow night...I hope I don't fall asleep like Old Captain Kirk.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor

I've really been out of the loop lately. In another case of "where have I been?", I just found about this from a pulp-themed post on the Evil DM's blog.

Michelle Yeoh plays an ancient sorceress. Jet Li is the mummy of the Emperor in the title. Wow! And the photo of Brendan Fraser in character embodies the essence of "pulp". This could be amazing...

More info on the director's site and tons of production photos on a Michelle Yeoh fansite.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Trek Remastered -- "Metamorphosis"

"Metamorphosis" is this weekend's episode. I always look forward to seeing the show, but I'm especially interested in this particular one. It's been literally years since I've seen it, and I'm sure I'll react to its themes of love and loss differently now as an adult than I did as a kid. Take a look for yourself and see what you think. This is one of several episodes of the Original Series that have fine acting and an emotional punch that many people seem to have forgotten about.

Check out the 30-second preview here.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Star Trek movie teaser in the works

It shouldn't be any surprise that it's being worked on now, but the rumor mill is buzzing about the production of a teaser for J.J. Abrams' Star Trek movie. The juicy detail is that part of it will show the Enterprise under construction. It seems logical, as a metaphor for the rebirth of the franchise.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Trek Remastered -- "Catspaw" rerun for Halloween

This weekend is a rerun of the Halloween episode "Catspaw". This page has the official preview, the FX reel, and a high resolution screencap of the new CG castle background.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Trek Remastered -- "The Gamesters of Triskelion"

"Three disembodied beings wager on fights staged by prisoners abducted from around the galaxy."

This isn't one of the best episodes of the series, but it's a fun guilty pleasure. It's probably the episode most responsible for Kirk's reputation for hitting on alien space babes. Chekov and Uhura get some screen time, and there's good Spock/McCoy banter.

Check out the preview. I bet 100 quatloos that you'll enjoy it!

Environmental blog roundup

I neglected to post anything for Blog Action Day on Monday, so I'll link to this list of environmental blogs on Take a look.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Trek Remastered -- "Dagger of the Mind"

This weekend's episode is "Dagger of the Mind", the one where the Enterprise visits the Tantalus Penal Colony. Of course, trouble ensues.

There aren't many special effect shots in this episode to update, but the CBS Digital team corrected a big problem with the original. The matte painting used for the elevator entrance to the facility was reused from the second pilot, "Where No Man Has Gone Before". CBS-D has taken this opportunity to change this by creating the outstanding digital matte seen above. It's very much in the mold of the best 50s/60s sci-fi art. Excellent work!

The 30-second preview is here.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Trek Remastered -- "What Are Little Girls Made Of?"

This weekend's episode is a excellent First Season entry, the one with Dr. Roger Korby, the androids in the underground complex, and the android duplicate Kirk. It's also notable for guest-starring Ted Cassidy ("Lurch" from "The Addams Family") and Sherry Jackson.

You can watch the 30-second preview here.

Swarm of insects disrupt late innings

CLEVELAND (AP) -- This will forever be known as the Bug Game.

A swarm of insects descended on Jacobs Field in the eighth inning of the Cleveland Indians' 2-1 playoff victory over the New York Yankees on Friday night, leading to a bizarre scene featuring players waving their arms and gloves in an attempt to keep the pesky bugs away.

The teams kept playing into extra innings as millions of bugs nagged players on the field and in the dugouts.

How bizarre is that? The only thing more crazy would be giant insects.

See also:

Friday, September 28, 2007

Star Trek: The Next Generation -- 20 Years

Today's date is generally acknowledged as the airdate of "Encounter at Farpoint", the first episode of The Next Generation. It's hard to believe that it has been 20 years. Besides being a continuation of the franchise, it started the boom in syndicated programming that continues on today (although not like the heyday of the '90s). put up a link to the first TNG preview from 1987, and they will be posting more tributes over the next few days.

There's a very insightful post on that preview page linked above that says TNG is still too close in time to judge properly -- not "period" like the Original Series, but recent enough that the flaws are too apparent and it looked "dated". I'd have to agree, and further state that after the first two seasons the effects got much better and hold up to today's standards. The third season is probably the sweet spot, especially what is still the best TV cliffhanger to date, "The Best of Both Worlds, part I".


Trek Remastered -- "The Man Trap"

This weekend's episode is "The Man Trap", the one with the salt vampire. This has always been a favorite of mine. Little bit of trivia: although it was sixth episode filmed, it was the very first one aired. Take a look at the 30 second preview at

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Another game blog

You may remember a great gaming blog I mentioned here before titled Deep in the Game. The author took down the site. Now he's back with Deeper in the Game.

Many of the posts on the new blog are about the design and playtest of a game he's working on, but there are also some posts with the same clever creativity as the old site.

Monday, September 24, 2007

3 new gaming blogs

Over the past few months three new gaming blogs popped up and became very popular. My own guess is that their respective authors were inspired by two other popular sites, Treasure Tables and Jeff's Gameblog. I haven't read a lot on any of these new blogs but what I've seen and read about elsewhere has been pretty good. They are generally about D&D but the ideas presented can be used in any RPG. Check them out:

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Latitude Zero on DVD in December!

In a previous DVD update, I mentioned that Media Blasters was working on this title for eventual release. Sci-fi Japan recently posted an update on MB's upcoming Japanese titles including LZ. They are going all out by releasing a two-disc set on December 11th.

The Japanese version is about 15 minutes shorter than the English international release, which seems unusual. It will be interesting to see what they cut. The English-speaking actors spoke their lines in English, of course, so I wonder if their voices were dubbed into Japanese or if subtitles were used.

A minor film in the Japanese monster/sci-fi genre, Legend of Dinosaurs and Monster Birds, is out from Media Blasters the following week. I'm curious about it since I've never seen it -- not even the MST3K version.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Trek Remastered -- I missed it

I tried to stay up and watch the 1am showing of "The Galileo Seven". I fell asleep. I woke up, saw about 40 seconds of it before a commercial break, then fell asleep again during the commercial. I guess I'll have to record it.

Click on that link above for video of the new FX shots.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Trek Remastered -- A new season starts

This weekend is the start of the new season for The Original Series Remastered, and the kick-off episode is a great one -- "The Galileo Seven". The shots of the new effects are just astounding and I can't wait to see it.

Now here's the problem. No, not really a problem but an annoyance. The local Fox station aired the first season and did a nice job with it. Lots of commercials (at the beginning) and two airtimes, once on Saturday evening and a rerun of last week's ep late Sunday night/Monday morning at 1am. The Saturday slot would move to 2pm during baseball season, but still they made an effort to run it in a decent time slot.

This season it appears that the local affiliate is now the CW station, and from what I can discover the only time Trek airs is the late Sunday/early Monday slot. Most of the weekend lineup consists of sci-fi and horror movies, which could be good. I admit I got spoiled with two chances to watch Trek each weekend, but come on... are three hours a day of court shows necessary?

Monday, September 10, 2007

Too many movies

It has been a long time since there were so many movies out in the theater that I wanted to see at one time: The Simpsons Movie, Stardust, 3:10 to Yuma, Shoot 'Em Up, Balls of Fury, War, and Superbad. I guess I'll be renting a bunch of DVDs in about 6 months or so when they are released...

Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Return of the RPGBlog

Zachary Houghton had ceased updating his RPGBlog site for a short time, but now he's back with Version 2. Although the old site was mostly news and reviews, the new blog will focus (for now) on his experiences as a newly-elected ENnies judge for the '08 awards.

I've updated the link in the sidebar with the new address.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Gen Con 2007, Part 1

A very brief overview with more later:

The swag bag was good again like last year. An Axis and Allies booster, A World of Warcraft CCG starter, a Star Wars mini, and a sample pack of Tokkens (I want to pronounce that like "Dokken"). When we found out that the GAMA booth was handing out Origins '07 goodie bags, we all picked one up. I got some of the items that the others didn't want, so more Pirates boosters and Cineplexity samples for me!

I didn't bring as much spending cash as I had hoped to, so I limited my purchases. Most often I try to pick up only those things that I can't easily get through a shop. My big purchases included:

My brushes with greatness:

  • Rode in the hotel elevator with Chris Pramas
  • (Almost literally) bumped into Ken Hite in one of the dealer's room aisles
  • Got an autograph from Frank Mentzer
  • Spoke with artist Wayne Reynolds at the Paizo booth for about 15 minutes. I, and another really nice guy who's a regular on Paizo's board, had his full attention as he talked about where he finds his inspiration -- from English seaside towns to Turkish riveted armor.
  • Met and had books signed by noted Robert E. Howard scholars Paul Herman and Dale Rippke.

In another post I'll have some photos I took at the show.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Prepping for Gen Con 40

As I've said before, it's not so much that I have to prepare anything to take to Gen Con -- I'm not playing, running, or setting up a table -- but I like to do the research about new releases, show specials and any freebie swag to be had. I haven't done that as much this year. The time just slipped away and the con rushed up on me too soon. I've seen a few things here and there but I'll have to keep my eyes open for more stuff at the show.

A few random thoughts:
This year should be bigger than ever as it's the 40th anniversary of the show. Robin Laws wrote the book on the history of Gen Con, so that's something I'd like to pick up at the show (though it should be available in stores, too).

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

A watched pot never boils

I was offline most of last week for vacation, and since I wasn't watching all the usual news sites, all hell breaks loose:

Monday, July 23, 2007

Savage Sword of Conan reprints!

There's been talk in comics circles for a couple of years now concerning Dark Horse Comics and their possible reprints of the classic Marvel magazine Savage Sword of Conan. It wasn't a secret, but the chatter was all about how it would be done -- straight reprints of the original black-and-white artwork or newly-added color.

Much of this was because of the "remastered" coloring on Dark Horse's Chronicles of Conan, the reprints of the Marvel Conan comic book. Like most things, some fans loved it and some hated it.

Now that the advance solicitation information is out there, it's clear that these will be black-and-white art. No word yet if any of the covers will be reproduced and if so, in color or black-and-white. I don't care so much about the Boris covers, but reprints of the Earl Norem and Neal Adams covers would be appreciated (and the very pulp Tarzan-esque cover for issue 3 by Michael Kaluta). It seems that these volumes will be much like the Marvel Essentials line of reprint trade paperbacks. And since the blurb mentions "Savage Sword Conan stories", I guess we can assume that they do not have the rights to reproduce stories of the other characters that appeared in those pages, most notably Kull and Solomon Kane.

Here is what's known so far. It should appear in the August issue of Previews:

The Savage Sword of Conan

Written by Roy Thomas, art by Barry Windsor-Smith, John Buscema, Alfredo Alcala, Pablo Marcos and others.

In the mid 1970s following the colossal success of Conan the Barbarian, Roy Thomas helped expand the universe of Conan to showcase further stories and the talents of some of the comics industry's best with the equally popular Savage Sword of Conan magazine. Now, for the first time in over thirty years, these primal tales, featuring Robert E. Howard's most popular character, are available in this, the first in a series of massive trade paperbacks, collecting all Savage Sword Conan stories beginning with issue one.

Included in this volume are tales by Roy Thomas, featuring the breathtaking art of such legends as Barry Windsor-Smith, John Buscema, Alfredo Alcala, Jim Starlin, Al Milgrom, Pablo Marcos, Walter Simonson, and more.

Also included in this tome are Conan's few appearances in the title Savage Tales -- for the complete Conan collection!

* Reprinting Savage Sword of Conan for the first time since its original publication. This is the first volume in the series.

* Launching Dark Horse's black-and-white Dark Horse Presents omnibus format. 500+ pages for the value price of $17.95!!!

542 pages, black and white, $17.95, in stores on Dec. 19.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

I in ur computur...

...stealin' ur Internetz.

Here's an article from Time Magazine about the "lolcats" phenomenon. As my brother-in-law says, they're about a year too late.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Dragon Dynasty DVDs

It wasn't so long ago -- just about three or four years, in fact -- that Bob and Harvey Weinstein were despised, hated even, by the Hong Kong action/kung fu movie fan community. When they were still with Miramax and Disney, they purchased the rights to many classic and new HK action movies and either released shoddy versions to the screen or DVD, or they sat on them and withheld them from the market. Fans were livid and put together petitions and letter campaigns. I failed to keep up with the latest news in that realm so I lost track of what was happening on that front.

Fast forward to 2006: The Weinsteins, having left Miramax the previous year to form their own company, set up a label called Dragon Dynasty to release some of their HK films. They appear to have a deal with Shaw Brothers because Dragon Dynasty is offering several Shaw classics. Most of the DD line are Fortune Star releases, including a couple of Jackie Chan's best movies. Others titles include the Chow Yun-Fat classic Hard Boiled and all three Infernal Affairs films.

So far I've picked up two of the four available Shaw Brothers titles, My Young Auntie and The One-Armed Swordsman (which hasn't been released on legal home video in this country until now). Those are acknowledged classics but the other two Shaws are huge: The 36th Chamber of Shaolin (aka Shaolin Master Killer) and King Boxer (aka Five Fingers of Death)! I need to do some checking of reviews and so forth, but these look fairly complete. If so, it's very good to have these finally available on DVD in wide release.

In a later post I'll cover the Shaw Brothers films being released by Image Entertainment in Region 1, and then maybe as complete a listing as I can make of all the R1/R3 Shaw discs.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Trek Remastered -- earlier episodes and "The Omega Glory"

"No – no! Only the eyes of a chief may see the E Plebmnista!"
"This was not written for chiefs."
- Yang Scholar and Kirk

I missed "Spock's Brain" on its initial showing a few weeks back and it wasn't shown in the normal rerun slot the next week. I'll have to wait for the DVD.

However, I did catch "Plato's Stepchildren". I know this is one of the least-favorite for many fans, but to me it is underrated. Maybe nothing happens except the humiliation of the crew, but as I've said before, even bad Original Series Trek is better than nothing. There's still some good points in that script even if the execution is flawed.

This weekend's episode, in time for Independence Day, is "The Omega Glory". You might remember this as the Cold War analogy with the Yangs and the Kohms, and Kirk reminding them that the words apply to all people. I brought the videotape of "Omega..." in to my high school U.S. History class during our unit on the Constitution -- major geek check, there.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

...and we're back!

Wow. Has it really been three weeks since the last post? Oops. I've been very distracted lately. More real posting starting tomorrow.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

The replacement driver

This sounds like it's either the premise of a Hong Kong or Korean action movie, or a Cyberpunk RPG scenario:

Cityscape: Seoul: Taking the wheel for a drunken stranger

"Speed is money in this business," said Hur, 43, who received 15,000 won, or $16, for driving his customer to his destination.

"You want to get as many orders as possible before dawn breaks," he said, after making the drive of 20 kilometers, or 12 miles. "I sleep in the day, work at night, six days a week."

Hur is a "replacement driver" who makes his living by delivering inebriated people and their cars home. There are tens of thousands of them operating in this hard-drinking metropolis of 10 million people. They go to work when Seoul streets blossom with neon signs and thoroughfares fill up with streams of cars returning home. They end their shifts well after the last neon lights blink out in the early morning mist curling up from the Han River.

Trek Remastered -- catching up

I haven't posted anything about recent Trek episodes in quite some time. Here's a list of them:
  • "Errand of Mercy" - 05/12 - The Organians impose peace between the Federation and the Klingon Empire.
  • "Patterns of Force" - 05/19 - The Nazi episode.
  • "Shore Leave" - 05/26 - Be careful what you think comes to life.
  • "Bread and Circuses" - 06/02 - The Roman Empire episode.

It's interesting that the "costume" episodes were all bunched together: "A Piece of the Action", the Chicago gangster ep, was on the last weekend of April.

I was pleasantly surprised by a couple of these shows. I forgot how good they are. "Errand..." and "Patterns..." have some good Kirk and Spock dialogue, and "Bread..." has great Spock and McCoy scenes that highlight their grudging friendship. And regardless of how preposterous the setup may be, "Patterns..." and "Bread..." are great stories.

This weekend: "Spock's Brain".

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

30 years of Star Wars

Update: I changed the title of this post because Dr. Rotwang used it first. I should have know I wasn't that clever...

Last Friday was the 3oth anniversary of the release of Star Wars. It's difficult to describe just how ground-breaking the film was and how inspiring it continues to be for legions of fans around the world. Maybe I'll write about it later, because I was there from the very beginning to see it all. Hard to believe there are people watching the new trilogy who weren't even alive when Jedi was released...

Here are a few links to stories about the anniversary and the phenomonon:

Star Wars Rewired: Interviews, Galleries and More

Thirty years later, 'Star Wars' force still being felt

How Star Wars Changed Everything,28804,1625074_1625073,00.html

The Science of Star Wars

(Since this one is from Forbes Magazine, it's a bit more conservative on the prospects of Star Wars Science, especially on lightsabers. Hey, guys, it's a movie...relax. Anyway, you can read more than you ever wanted to know about lightsabers at Wikipedia.)

Star Wars Celebration IV

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

RPG setting ideas -- Dungeon Crawl Classics

Time for another installment of "RPG settings I'm thinking about". The one I mentioned previously was the updated Freeport setting. Most of my thoughts about these things are tinted by a heavy dose of gaming nostalgia, and this installment finds me still in the throes of it.

Goodman Games started producing their Dungeon Crawl Classics modules shortly after the release of D&D 3.0. The main appeal of the line is nostalgia -- 1st Edition-style adventures, blue ink maps and new art by artists whose work appeared in the original D&D modules.

This is their first attempt at a DCC campaign, and also the first DCC boxed set. Look at the cover and the intent is obvious. It's a clear homage to the "Red Box" Basic Set and other TSR boxed sets from that era. Doesn't that just say "gaming goodness" to you? Good times...

DCC adventures are designed for D&D3.x/d20, but I think this one calls for a return to the '80s Basic Rules -- at least in spirit.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Stephen King's 24 Greatest Rock Songs Ever

Stephen King writes a column for Entertainment Weekly in which he gives his opinion on all things media-related -- movies, books, TV, music, whatever. In this article/photo gallery, King counts down the best rock songs of all time.

I can't fault him on some of his choices. I'd rate "In-a-Gadda-da-Vida" higher, and "Ain't No Fun (Waiting Round to be a Millionaire)" is a solid choice for the obligatory AC/DC list entry. As much as I like Elvis, I'm not sure a list like this needs three of his songs, squeezing out many other worthy entries. Where's "Turn Up the Radio"?

King qualifies his list by mentioning his criteria at the beginning. By including purely "rock" songs only, many of the songs I'd include would be disqualified for being in a different category, such as the "power ballad".

Oh, and of course see the comments on the list.

Monday, May 21, 2007

First shots of Reaper plastic minis

Jeff's Gameblog has some photos of prototypes for Reaper's pre-painted non-collectable minis due later this summer. These were taken at the recent ReaperCon event. Click on the photo and then view the full-size image for a closer look. The orcs and skeletons are passable but the larger monsters are pretty good!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

A shake of the gods

I like fast food milkshakes in general, especially McDonald's Arctic Orange, but Arby's orange cream shake is my new mistress. That's a tasty beverage!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Pirates of the Spanish Main: The RPG

I flipped through a copy of this game on Friday. Nice hefty hardcover, full color, glossy...very very nice. It's based on the WizKids ship minis game. I'll pick it up sometime. If the design of this book is any indication, Pinnacle's Solomon Kane RPG will be very sharp, too. At least I hope so.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Trek Remastered -- "Errand of Mercy"

I missed it yesterday, so screenshots like this will have to suffice until the rerun next week.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Flash! Ah-ahhh!!

Universal is, at last, releasing a Region 1 DVD of the fan-favorite movie Flash Gordon on August 7th. The cover art by Alex Ross is really great, but it turns out that the extras appearing on the European release will not be on the US version...that's a shame.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Trek Remastered -- "Tomorrow is Yesterday" in review

The Enterprise over 20th century Nebraska.

I discovered something this past weekend. Trek Remastered has been pre-empted in its usual timeslot on the local Fox station because of baseball. I hadn't bothered to check the listings for a different slot. Well, I did this weekend, and I found out that it was moved up to 2pm. Luckily I read that in time for me to check out this week's regularly scheduled episode, "Tomorrow is Yesterday".

This is the ep where the Enterprise finds itself trapped in 1968 and they bring aboard the fighter pilot who is sent to intercept it. Fine work again by CBS Digital on the Enterprise in the lower atmosphere, and the timewarp slingshot around the sun. The aerial shot over Nebraska and Earth as seen from orbit are both real NASA photos used as backgrounds.

This Saturday: "Errand of Mercy". Bring on the Klingons!

Monday, April 30, 2007

A new edition of Delta Green

An advance review was posted on So, it exists!

Or maybe that's just what They want you to think.

If I had know the original was selling for upwards of 400 bucks on eBay, I might have sold it.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Alien foliage could be yellow or red

So it seems that all the gamers who used fluorescent aquarium plants for terrain in 40K were not so far off the mark, after all.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Apply for Mike Mearls' old job

He moved from the WotC development team to the mechanics design team, and the ad for his old job is here.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Trek Remastered -- "All Our Yesterdays" and "A Piece of the Action"

Because of the baseball season, we're behind a week on the new episodes. However, you can get a taste of what to expect in the upcoming weeks. The official previews for "All Our Yesterdays" and "A Piece of the Action" are available.

RPG setting ideas -- Freeport

I have been thinking about several different campaign ideas lately. Reading many forum posts and blog entries has inspired me, especially Jeff's Gameblog and the sensationally-titled I Waste the Buddha with My Crossbow by Dr. Rotwang. The love and the joy of gaming ooze out of their postings. You can tell that they are very enthusiastic about their prep and their gameplay, and they recall the sort of wide-eyed idealistic play that you remember in the early days of RPGs, when everything was new and awesome.

So this post is the first in a series about the ideas that have been churning around in my brain lately. I'm just throwing these out here without much structure.

I knew about Freeport only as one of the first third-party products for d20, when D&D 3.0 was released, but I never looked at any of the items or read any reviews. My introduction to it was one year ago when the True20 conversion of the module "Death in Freeport" was released as a free PDF.

Imagine this inner monologue:

"So, it's a fantasy setting, with elves, and dwarves, and orcs, sure..."

"Oh, but there's pirates, too... and Freeport is a pirate city like Tortuga...that's cool!"

"What? Lovecraftian cults, Mythos monsters and conspiracies too...what the..?"

How did I not know about this for 5 years?!

The setting is due for a re-boot with new books forthcoming. The Pirate's Guide to Freeport is all background material without system-specific stats and should be out any time now. Arrrr, matey!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Trek Remastered -- recent episodes

As I mentioned in my last post, the local Fox station has been showing baseball at the normal Saturday Trek time, with that week's episode being shown in the following week's re-run slot. This past weekend's episode should have been "And the Children Shall Lead". It's a poor Third Season episode, most notable for an appearance by Melvin Belli, but to me poor Original Series Trek is better than no Trek at all. It should be the Sunday night re-run this weekend.

It's the giant space ameoba!

In contrast to "AtCSL", then, was "The Immunity Syndrome". That was an excellent episode with great new CG effects that match the original 1960s look but are still eye-popping. Nicely done, CBS!

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Trek Remastered -- last week and this weekend

Sorry about not writing anything over the past week. Busy, busy.

We didn't see last week's Trek episode "The Tholian Web". Instead, the local Fox station showed a magic special titled "Masters of Illusion XX". Then this weekend's episode, "The Immunity Syndrome", wasn't on because of baseball.

My guess, then, is that "...Web" will be on during the repeat timeslot tonight and "Immunity..." will be shown in next week's Sunday repeat slot.

Screenshots, video and review of "...Web" at

Trek: Impossible

A really cute fan-video of the opening titles; the joke being that both of these series were produced by Desilu on the Paramount lot at the same time.

One thing I love in movies and TV is that "Paramount look", from Trek and M:I through Grease, Happy Days, Airplane, and Police Squad. I can't adequately describe it, but I think you know what I mean.


Saw this with Edige on Saturday. I might write about it here later, but I'll probably comment on the boards first.

If there is any movie that cranks it up to 11, it's this one.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Trek Remastered -- "The Tholian Web"

A new remastered episode this weekend, "The Tholian Web". This one has quite a few visual effects for the CBS-Digital team to work on. See a preview on the official Trek site.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Upcoming DVD News

Some notes on upcoming DVD releases:

Warner Brothers is releasing 12 cult classics on DVD in four themed sets of three (also available individually). This appears to be their version of MGM's Midnite Movies line. The Sci-fi set is OK. The historical epics set is good. It might be a must-buy, but I hoped that there would be more Greco-Roman sword-and-sandal movies like Colossus of Rhodes. The real gem is the Terrorized Travellers set which includes Hot Rods to Hell, the Charlton Heston disaster film Skyjacked, and... Zero Hour! On DVD at last!

A word of explanation: This is the '50s movie that inspired Jim Abrahams and the Zucker Brothers to create the immortal comedy Airplane! They purchased the rights to ZH! and many of the lines in Airplane! are from it. Ever since I learned about ZH! in the late Eighties I've been trying to see it. ZH! popped up on cable TV once or twice around that time but I never caught it and it never saw a home video release. It's been on my Most Wanted DVDs list since the beginning and I'm very excited about finally having a copy. There was talk early on that it would show up as an extra on the DVD of Airplane! (both of them), but that didn't happen.

So far the only listed extra is the trailer, which is a shame. WB is missing a golden opportunity to get some perspective from the ZAZ team, either in a commentary track or a mini-documentary... something. I should be grateful they are releasing it from the vault, I suppose.

WB's Cult Camp Classics are due on June 26th.


Classic Media postponed their release of Godzilla Raids Again and Mothra vs. Godzilla from Nov. '06 to April 3rd.

The next two in the series are Ghidrah, the Three-Headed Monster and Invasion of Astro-Monster (G vs. Monster Zero), two of my faves. These are on the schedule for June 5th. If you've seen their disc of the original Gojira, you know what to expect. I'm still amazed, considering Toho's history of video releases in the US. Original Japanese versions and the original AIP English dubs we grew up with. These are true gems that any self-respecting monster fan will want to check out.


Media Blasters keeps up the good work on their kaiju film offerings by releasing Frankenstein Conquers the World on June 26th. Like the Classic Media/Toho releases, this is a 2-disc set with Japanese and English versions -- again, the AIP theatrical release.

I'll pick it up, but the one I'm really waiting for is their release of Latitude Zero. It's still in production so there isn't a release date yet. Scratch another off my Most Wanted list...


June is going to be an expensive month. : (

Friday, March 23, 2007

All the gaming intelligentsia in one place

Mike Sugarbaker of Ogre Cave has set up a blog of blogs. The Planet Story Games site checks the RSS feeds from the blogs belonging to a who's who of indie games (or story games, as they're calling them these days) and aggregates the latest posts on the main page. It's a great idea... pretty clever. Take a look if you're interested in what's on the minds of this generation of designers and don't want to dig through various layers of forums.

Trek Remastered -- another rerun

"The Naked Time" is being rerun this weekend. The next "new" episode is the effects-heavy "The Tholian Web" one week from now.

Friday, March 16, 2007

What kind of RPG gamer am I?

According to the categories discussed in Robin's Laws:

You scored as Storyteller. The Storyteller is in it for the plot: the sense of mystery and the fun of participating in a narrative that has the satisfying arc of a good book or movie. He enjoys interacting with well-defined NPCs, even preferring antagonists who have genuine motivations and personality to mere monsters. To the Storyteller, the greatest reward of the game is participating in a compelling story with interesting and unpredictable plot threads, in which his actions and those of his fellow characters determine the resolution.

With apologies to Robin Laws.



Casual Gamer


Character Player


Weekend Warrior






Power Gamer


Thursday, March 15, 2007

Trek Remastered -- Repeat of "I, Mudd"

This weekend is a repeat of "I, Mudd". It's a fun episode, and the remastered version has an absolutely gorgeous shot of the Enterprise in orbit around the robot planet, where glowing rings cast a reflection against the hull. A screen cap of that has been my desktop wallpaper since December.

Friday, March 09, 2007

300: Today is the day

The long wait is over. 300 opens today. Most of the people I know are seeing it today...even taking off work to do so.

Mrs. Kaiju and I are seeing it Saturday night. Don't spoil it for me!

Trek Remastered -- "Wolf in the Fold"

This weekend's episode is "Wolf in the Fold". This is one where Scotty is accused of...murder! Scary! It's another fun show; not many special effects to redo. We'll see what they change or enhance.

Friday, March 02, 2007

The Oscars

Mark Evanier on a good way to watch the Oscars, plus some ways to spruce up the show.

Mrs. Kaiju and I make it a point to watch all the awards shows in general, but the big one, the Super Bowl of awards shows, is the Oscars. I have a soft spot in my heart for it. Even though it hardly seems that there is much connection to Old Hollywood anymore, it feels for me like the only real way to be a part of the magic of Hollywood for us normal people -- that is, short of hanging out on Hollywood and Vine. You have a much better chance of seeing movie stars at the Oscars, at least.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

The Perils of the Warp...I mean, Web.

This is a cautionary tale about the ephemeral nature of the internets. In the grand scheme of things it's not really important, but this story does speak to several issues that we will all need to come to terms with now and in the future.

So, there was this good gaming blog titled "Deep in the Game", in which the author expounded on current gaming theory and various ways to incorporate some new thinking into your own games. This particular blog was nice because, along with the theory, it gave practical advice anybody could use. And going by the chatter on several message boards, plenty of people did.

I had the site linked in the list over there on the right side of the page. I checked in on what was new every so often, but the best articles concerned flag framing and what the author named a "conflict web".

I just happened to click on my link to the site last night and got a generic host page instead. From there it was on to the forums at to see if there was any news about a site migration or whatever else might have happened. With a quick search I found this thread from the day before. I won't go into details; check the posts if you want to know more. Basically, he had written all that he wanted, and felt that many new games already incorporate the things he was talking about, so he took down the blog.

The moral of the story is this: If you see something you're interested in, or find useful while surfing, save a local copy. You could go back to see it the next day and it could be gone. While the interweb is perhaps the greatest collaborative communication device ever invented, its strengths are also weaknesses. It's all bits and bytes existing in nebulous space out there, not fixed in print. Something that exists today could be deleted (or re-written) tomorrow.

Of course like any creative author, this person can do with the data whatever he pleases. I think that's part of the original point of copyright. However, it's not like it was published and out-of-print copies still exist (well, there are partial archives in search caches, but that's another story) in the real world. It's just gone. That's something to consider as more and more content goes electronic and stays in that form.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Star Trek XI -- It's on.

Big announcements in the last couple of days. It's official:

Trek Remastered -- Various recent episodes

Yes, I've been very neglectful of this blog and you, dear readers. It's been a wild week or so in Kaijuville. To make up for it, I'll do my best to update at least once a day for the rest of the week. Hopefully there will be something in there that you're interested in.

First of all, let me tell you about "The Doomsday Machine", which aired a little more than two weeks ago in the rotation of remastered Original Trek episodes. How was it?

Outstanding. Absolutely incredible. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time, and of course I've seen the original a dozen times over the years. Watching the Remastered edition was like seeing it again...for the first time. It surprised me how the new effects really altered the mood and made the story pop in a new and fresh way. Of all the Remastered episodes so far, this is by far my favorite. If you only see one, this is it. You can read a review and see screenshots and video at

"Amok Time" was excellent as well. It isn't as effects-heavy as "Doomsday...", but there's a great new establishing shot of the arena that's well done.

"!!" "The Paradise Syndrome" was this past weekend's episode, the one with the American Indians. I think this one is better than it's given credit for, and it's a shame that the syndication edits don't help at all. Dropped dialogue and missing minutes of scenes lessen the emotional impact of the show. Check it on the eventual DVD.

A rerun of "Space Seed" airs this weekend, with some nice shots of the Enterprise and the Botany Bay.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Trek Remastered -- "Amok Time"

I've got some comments on last week's episode, "The Doomsday Machine", but I'll post those later. First, this weekend is "Amok Time", the Vulcan mating ritual episode. One reason this is notable is the fight between Kirk and Spock, highlighted with a great score by Gerald Fried (you know exactly what music I'm talking about). It's also important in Star Trek "mythology". There are great character interactions, particularly for the triad of Kirk, Spock, and McCoy, and many references to the larger Trek universe. Chronologically "Amok Time" takes place some months before "Journey to Babel", and "Doomsday..." was filmed immediately after.

There aren't a lot of space scenes in this one, so the CBS-Digital team spent their time creating some terrific establishing shots of Spock's ancestral lands (see the trailer here). Now we know why we can't see anything on the horizon from the arena...

So grab your lirpa and ahn-woon, and tune in this weekend!

Friday, February 09, 2007

Trek Remastered -- "The Doomsday Machine"

Perhaps the most anticipated episode of the Remastered Original Trek is scheduled to air this weekend. "The Doomsday Machine" is a bona fide classic, with the character of Commodore Decker and his obsession with the alien Planet Killer, reminiscent of Moby Dick's Captain Ahab. Aside from the story, two big draws are the scenes of the Constellation and the battles with the Planet Killer. has several images directly from CBS-Digital, and the preview trailer (again, the Quicktime version appears to be better quality, at least for my computer setup). I said the trailer for "Journey to Babel" was the best so far -- until this one. Wow.

The stills are incredible, and the scenes from the trailer are fantastic... If you haven't seen any of the remastered episodes yet, this is the one to start with. A bold claim since I haven't seen it yet, but all the promotional materials look so good.

And next week... Amok Time.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Trek Remastered -- "Journey to Babel" this weekend

One of the greatest Classic Trek episodes is on the schedule for this weekend. Besides being a great story in its own right, it's an important "mythology" episode because it expands on Spock's back story with the introduction of Sarek and Amanda, his parents.

Yes, there are people in the observation windows.

Several screenshots have been made public, and it looks like another great effort by CBS-Digital. For budgetary reasons, we never saw a shot of the Enterprise and a shuttlecraft together in the Original Series. Look for a gorgeous shuttle landing sequence with the planet Vulcan in the background.

Take a look at the stills or the trailer (could be the best yet) over at

Update: Really great episode, well worth it. Sadly, the shuttle approach where we see both ships from outside the shuttlebay was cut for time, but it should be on the DVD. See the Review and screenshots and video.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The Tipping Point

We could be reaching a tipping point where the danger to the environment is so apparent that the public demands action.

First the depressing news:

Scientist: Pollution destroying pre-Aztec Mexican ruins (CNN)

'Doomsday Clock' moved forward (CNN)

'Smoking gun' report to say global warming here (CNN)

...but some reasons for hope:

Crunch year for planet Earth (CNN)

CEOs call for action against climate change (CNN)

Evangelicals, scientists join forces to combat global warming (CNN)

Polar bears may get protection (CNN)

Businesses try to outpace U.S. regulators on emissions (IHT)

Wal-Mart: A giant gone green (IHT)

Bush Goes Green? (Time)

How to Seize the Initiative (Time)

Trek Remastered -- "Where No Man Has Gone Before"

It turns out that I missed the last 5 minutes on Saturday, but I caught the most important parts of the episode; that is, the new energy barrier visual effects! Very nicely done, great work by CBS Digital.

Some interesting differences in characters are apparent in this episode. Spock seems much more "human". His mannerisms and make-up were changed in the regular production episodes of the series. Kirk is very much the same as he would be later.

You can see screenshots and video and a review at

Thursday, January 18, 2007

WizKids goes exclusive with Diamond Comics/Alliance Game Distributors

Another bit of recent gaming news that is making waves...many shops/sites are phasing out their stock of WizKids product because of this. Here's an example and the discussion related to it. Gaming companies, distributors, shops -- and Wizkids in particular -- seem to be pretty good at shooting themselves in the foot.

More opinions here, here, here, and here.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Predictions on the Gaming Industry in 2007

See? This blog isn't all Trek, all the time. Just most of the time.

Ryan Dancey makes his predictions for the gaming industry in the new year. Take it with a grain of salt, your mileage may vary, and all that.

Trek Remastered -- "Wink of an Eye"

Last weekend's episode was "Wink of an Eye", the first of the third season to get the remastering treatment. It's not one of the best, but there are a couple of impressive FX updates by CBS Digital on display. The city skyline matte painting (first used in the first season episode "A Taste of Armageddon") appears at least four times, and each time CBS-D's artists do an incredible job of rotoscoping the new image behind the actors. Then there is the phaser effect on the force field. Very well done! I also like the "Enterprise leaving orbit" shot in this one.

"Where No Man has Gone Before" is on this weekend. This is the second pilot episode of the Original Series and the first with Captain Kirk. The preview pictures and video are outstanding! I'm really anticipating more excellent CGI work during this episode.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Trek Remastered -- "Friday's Child" in review

For an episode where most of the story occurs on a planet, "Friday's Child" has quite a few space scenes as well. I had forgotten most of what happens in this one. I don't know if it was because of the new effects, but it is a really good episode. Some great interaction with Kirk, Spock, McCoy and Scotty, plus a couple of gorgeous shots of the Enterprise in and leaving orbit around Capella IV. Check the comparison screenshots and FX reel, and a review.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Trek Remastered -- "Friday's Child"

Re-runs (OK, they're all re-runs, technically) for the holidays are over. Starting this weekend we will be getting new episodes of The Original Series Remastered, beginning with "Friday's Child". You can see the preview over at The shots of the Enterprise in orbit are terrific...just getting better each time.