Monday, January 27, 2014

40th Anniversary of Dungeons & Dragons

Yesterday was celebrated as the the 40th anniversary of Dungeons & Dragons, according to the best evidence. Although we didn't play a tabletop game that day, my wife and I spent part of the day playing Diablo III on the Playstation 3. Our Level 51 characters are in the beginning of Act I in Hell Mode, our third run-through of the game together. It's a fitting way to celebrate this milestone. Any fantasy or sci-fi video or computer game where a player takes the role of a character, with levels and hit points and spells, owes its existence to D&D.

There were plenty of great posts and news articles leading up to and over the weekend about D&D's birthday, so I do not have much to add to that chorus. The most important anecdote I can offer is that, in addition to all the fun times playing D&D and the other role-playing games that followed it, rolling dice and telling stories of heroic adventure, the hobby is directly responsible for most of my best and lasting friendships.

For that and more, I have enormous gratitude for the pioneers of this weird and wonderful hobby of ours: Major David Wesely, Gary Gygax, Dave Arneson, James Ward, Dr. John Eric Holmes, Tom Moldvay, Frank Mentzer, and many, many others.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Hammer's Frankenstein Created Woman (1967) on Blu-ray

The next disc in Millennium Entertainment's series of collector's edition blu-rays of Hammer horror films will be released next Tuesday, Terence Fisher's Frankenstein Created Woman (1967), starring Peter Cushing and Susan Denberg.

The US/Region A disc features an audio commentary by actors Derek Fowlds and Robert Morris, joined by Hammer historian Jonathan Rigby, the original trailer, two "World of Hammer" episodes, a new documentary "Hammer Glamour", a stills gallery, and an unspecified number of collectors art cards.

This disc follows Dracula: Prince of Darkness last September, with no official word yet on the next Millennium blu-ray release.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Happy Birthday, Robert E. Howard

Today marks the 108th anniversary of the birth of pulp writer Robert E. Howard. It has become a tradition on this date for Howard fans to read a favorite story and raise a toast.

Howard wrote something for every taste: sword and sorcery, hard-boiled detectives, weird horror, historical fiction, boxing, westerns, pirates, and poetry.

Rather than reading one of his stories, this evening I'm going out with friends to a local theater's screening of The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Somehow I think ol' Two-Gun Bob would approve.

For more information on his life and career, start with the following sites:

I would also recommend Mark Finn's Howard biography, the Locus and World Fantasy Award-nominated Blood and Thunder: The Life and Art of Robert E. Howard. An new expanded edition was released by the REH Foundation.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Run Run Shaw, RIP

I'm not sure that I can do adequate justice to how important and influential the career of Sir Run Run Shaw has been to me and my interests in film, books, comics and more. Rather, I will link to several other posts I have seen today marking the passing of this film legend.

Some of my favorite Shaw Brothers films:
  • Eight Diagram Pole Fighter, starring Gordon Liu
  • Heroes of the East, directed by fight choreographer Lau Kar-Leung
  • The One-Armed Swordsman, directed by Chang Cheh and starring Wang Yu
  • Super Inframan, aka Infra-Man
  • The Five Deadly Venoms
  • 36th Chamber of Shaolin
  • Fist of the White Lotus, directed by and starring Lo Lieh as White Eyebrow Monk Pai Mei.