Thursday, November 29, 2012

M-O-O-N! That Spells Mucous!

Forgive the lack of posts lately; I've been feeling under the weather all week. The above illustration is not much of an exaggeration. I think I may have Captain Trips. M-O-O-N! That spells mutating antigen superflu!

Oh well. Now I can relax and won't have to decide whether to travel to Nebraska and join Mother Abigail or go to Las Vegas and side with the Dark Man.

Bompty bom! My life for you!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Walking Dead Season 3, Episode 7: When The Dead Come Knocking

So far Season 3 continues to be a vast improvement over Season 2. This week's installment had the faint scent of "filler episode" about it, but it was still worth watching. Things are definitely coming to a head for next week's mid-season finale.

SPOILERS!

• OK, Michonne, what the hell? You take the baby formula to the prison (with a bum leg yet), but once there you won't talk and when they try to help you, you turn into some kind of glowering wild animal.

I get that the writers are trying to show that she's a loner and a mystery and the ultimate badass, but we get it already! It's time she started speaking in complete sentences. We don't know any more about her seven episodes in than we did when she appeared at the season finale last year.

She's a great character, but they can only drag out the "mysterious stranger" thing for so long before it becomes tedious, if it hasn't already. Would it kill her to pick up little Ass-Kicker and coo at her a bit?

• After watching six seasons of LOST in which plot lines that could have been resolved in three episodes dragged on for twenty, I'm glad that things on The Walking Dead are moving along at a brisk pace. But I felt things moved a little too briskly this week. Rick sees a mysterious woman outside the prison who's apparently invisible to walkers and is carrying baby formula. She tells them she saw Glenn and Maggie get taken to Woodbury (but conveniently leaves out the part about a one-handed redneck taking them). In the space of one minute he apparently decides she's telling the truth and isn't part of a trap to lure them to the town. Then in the space of another minute Michonne goes from surly psycho to helpful neighbor, and for some ungodly reason decides to accompany the Team back to the very place from which she just escaped. It all felt a little rushed. It would have been nice if they could have spent one episode showing Michonne getting to know Team Rick and coming to trust them.

• Rick finally confronts the Walker In The Room and tells Carl he's sorry he had to shoot Lori in the head. It was a nicely written and acted scene, especially when Carl asked if Rick remembered his third grade teacher. It was obvious that Rick had no idea who the hell he was talking about, but he covered it well.

• Nice to see Carol back among the Team, but I kind of wish that amidst all the celebration someone would have asked, "Where have you been for the past week?" And I really wish there'd been a scene in which she looked out the window at the prison cemetery and said, "Who the hell did you guys bury in MY grave?"

• I thought Axel said he wanted to help? I guess they decided he could help by staying behind. Let's hope the Woodburyians don't attack the prison, because there's not much of a team left there to defend it. Let's see, you've got a ten year old psychopath with a gun, a one-legged sexagenarian vet, a Jamie Lee Curtis lookalike, a teenage girl, a week old infant and a twitchy convict. They oughta be able to hold off an attack for a ten or fifteen minutes, no problem!

• I was really not looking forward to this episode. I was sure that either Glen or Maggie weren't going to make it out of their torture sessions alive (or whole).

• It's a good thing Glenn doesn't have any arm hair. I do, and I can only imagine how painful it would be to have it ripped out by duct tape. If I'd have been in his place, I'd have spilled my guts about the prison as soon as I saw Merle coming toward my arms with a roll of tape.

• The Woodbury story arc played out quite differently in the comic and was so dark and grim that it was honestly hard to read. I'm glad that the TV show has strayed a bit from the comic blueprint. Actually I don't think they could film it verbatim, even on cable.

If you haven't read the comic and are curious as to what happened, highlight the inviso-text below. Be warned though-- it's rough stuff. There may also be spoilers there.

Highlight here: Rick and the others are holed up in the prison and see a news helicopter crash nearby. Rick, Glen and Michonne head out to look for survivors. Instead they find the town of Woodbury, ruled by the Governor. Intially friendly, the Governor turns on them and demands to know where they've been staying. When they refuse to tell him, he tortures each of the group. He chops off Rick's right hand, permanently maiming him. He psychologically tortures Glen, and then repeatedly rapes Michonne. After a while Rick and Glen manage to escape (but are secretly tracked in order to learn where they're staying). Michonne stays behind, sneaks into the Governor's apartment and has her revenge on him. She cuts off his right arm, pulls out his fingernails, removes one of his eyes, and it's implied she slices off his penis. The Governor eventually recovers and leads an assault against the prison. In the battle Lori and her newborn baby die (among others) before the Governor is ultimately killed.

• Michael Rooker (Merle) continues to demonstrate why he's the best there is at playing psychos. If I ever meet him at a horror convention I think I'd be a little scared of him.

• The Governor revealed his reprehensible side this week (well, I guess technically he's been reprehensible before, but he really cranked it up a notch or twelve in this episode) by threatening to rape Maggie. Maggie's defiant statement of "Do what you're gonna do. Go to hell" was chilling, and may have even made the Governor shrivel up a little, if you know what I mean.

• Glenn's dispatching of the walker in the room, while duct-taped to a chair, was nothing short of awesome.

• I've been wondering why, during the Woodbury gang's constant patrols, they never managed to find the nearby prison. We now know that they are aware of it, but passed it by because it was overrun with walkers and they thought it would be too dangerous to clean out. Good job by the writers!

• Poor Crazy Cabin Dude! He was just taking a nap in the middle of the day and ended up getting stabbed and thrown out his front door to a group of walkers. I'm kind of wondering why Merle and his patrols never found him before? I guess it's a big forest.

• The whole "Milton Experiments On Mr. Coleman" scene could have been edited out of the episode with no damage whatsoever. We already know walkers don't retain any consciousness or memory. The audience knows it, all of Rick's people know it, so the entire lengthy sequence existed only to inform Milton. Bad form, writers! Don't waste time showing the audience things they already know!

They could have used all that time to give us more interaction between Rick and Michonne and explain why they abruptly decided to trust each other.

• There are apparently a lot of disgruntled fans out there who are upset that the only character who's shown any appreciable hair and beard growth since the series started is Herschel. So let me see if I understand... you have no problem accepting a world in which the dead reanimate and walk the earth. But people whose hair doesn't grow totally breaks down your suspension of disbelief. Got it.

Next week, the mid-season finale! There will be blood!

Monday, November 26, 2012

My Annual Xmas Gift Tag Repost

I've been posting this Xmas Gift Tag for about three years now, in response to the sluggish economy. I can't speak for anyone else, but my situation has definitely improved since last year (when I was facing the chilling specter of unemployment). I've noticed a lot more Xmas decorations in my neighborhood this year as well, and retailers reported very healthy sales on Black Friday. So maybe, just maybe, we're seeing some slight inklings that the economy has finally turned the corner. Nevertheless, I thought I'd post it one more time.

Tough times call for tough measures! If you can't afford to shell out cash for lavish Xmas gifts this year, buy your relatives something cheap and attach this handy Gift Tag to it. It'll help soften the blow.


For the past couple of years my finances forced me to severely cut back on Xmas gifts, almost to the point of nonexistence. Rather than causing me to feel sad or ashamed though, not having to trudge through stores spending money I didn't have on things people don't need was positively liberating. You have no idea how wonderful it is to not have to buy gifts and to actually sit back and enjoy the holidays. Even after my finances have improved I've decided to continue not buying gifts.


I know this won't be a popular opinion (among the public and definitely not among the retail sector), but I wish everyone would just say Screw The Gift Giving this year! By skipping the gift buying the holidays actually become an enjoyable time rather than a grim and dreadful chore. If you've ever entertained the notion, I urge you to do it! You have no idea how good it feels.


Santa was drawn in Photoshop on the graphic tablet, as well as the sketchy green oval. Everything was then imported into InDesign, where the text and the outer tag shape were added. Then I printed a bunch, cut them out with an X-Acto, punched a hole in the side and tied them to everyone's gifts.

Feel free to download it, print it and attach it to your own cheapskate gifts!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Train Don't Run Outta Wichita, Lessin' Yer A Hog

Every Thanksgiving I make it a point to watch Planes, Trains And Automobiles. It's one of my favorite movies and even though I've probably seen it 25 times I never get tired of it.

During this year's viewing I picked up on something I never noticed before. In one of my favorite scenes, Gus' son Owen comes to pick up Neal Page and Del Griffith (Steve Martin and John Candy) and drive them to Wichita to catch a train.

Owen is a semi-sentient tobacco chewing hillbilly who can barely string two words together.

He also has a bizarre and rasping sinus condition that punctuates (and sometimes interrupts) his sentences. Owen's only onscreen for little more than a minute, but he makes a memorable impression, especially when he regales the pair about his wife who didn't scream when her first baby "came out sideways."

Imagine my surprise during this year's viewing when I realized that Owen was played by none other than character actor Dylan Baker! Baker's been in a ton of movies and TV shows, but is probably most recognized as Dr. Curt Conners in Spider-Man 2 and 3.

He cleans up real nice, doesn't he? Planes, Trains And Automobiles was Baker's feature film debut. I've watched that Owen scene dozens of times and it never once occurred to me that he was played by Baker. I just assumed they found some real life local redneck to play the part. I surely never suspected he was played by an actual Hollywood actor.

I say this without any sarcasm or irony-- it's a remarkable piece of acting and Dylan Baker deserved some kind of award for throwing himself into the role and making himself completely unrecognizable.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Walking Dead Season 3, Episode 6: Hounded

Yeah, I know, the recap's late. The holiday happened. Deal with it,

SPOILERS!

• I knew the Governor wasn't going to let Michonne just up and leave Woodbury. Especially not after she held a sword to his neck.

 • Loved Michonne's "biter-gram!" Only The Walking Dead could find humor in a pile of rotting body parts.

• Once again, Michonne demonstrates she's quite the badass, dispatching three of Merle's search and destroy team in seconds. OK, Walking Dead writers-- you have thoroughly demonstrated that Michonne is a force to be reckoned with. But enough with the strong silent routine, eh? It's time she started speaking in complete sentences. We know absolutely nothing about her. It would be nice if she spoke a few words and let us in on who she is and where she came from and how she got to be the way she is (yes, I know there's a special Michonne origin story comic out there that explains all this, but I want to see it on the show).

• Last week's episode ended with Crazy Rick answering a mysteriously ringing phone. Readers of the comic had a pretty good idea who was on the other end, but I have to wonder if non-readers were disappointed to find out it was Rick hallucinating various dead members of the group, including Lori.

For the record, the people on the other line were Amy, Jim and Jacqui, people who all died way back in Season 1. And Lori of course.

In the comic, Rick took the crazy act a little farther, carrying around a toy phone for a long time and talking to only Lori on it.

• What in the holy hell is wrong with Andrea? First she says the zombie fights disgusted her, now she says she liked them, and once again she crawls into bed with the most dangerous man she can find. I don't know, maybe the end of the world does something to a gal. I just wish they'd write TV Andrea a little better; more like Comic Book Andrea.

• So in addition to being a motorcycle riding, crossbow shooting nanny, Daryl is now dabbling in child psychology by telling Carl the story of how his mom smoked in bed and accidentally immolated herself. Carl trumped his story though by admitting he shot Lori in the head before she turned.

• Speaking of Daryl, it's inevitable that he's going to meet up with his brother Merle at some point this season. I wonder how that's going to play out? Will he be happy to see him? Daryl's really grown since hooking up with Team Rick and has become an indispensable member of the group. Will he want to go back to being Merle's little brother again? I have a feeling he's not going to be happy to see him.

I found it odd that Michonne spent many months walking around with two tame zombie bodyguards in order to repel the undead, but didn't know that smearing dead guts all over you makes you invisible to walkers.

By the way, the scene where Michonne disembowels the zombie and gets covered in its guts was extremely gory and disgusting. And of course I loved it!

• When Daryl and Oscar are walking through the prison, Daryl hears a thumping at a door. He makes the world's lamest excuse by saying it sounds like a walker on its last legs or something, and says they'll take care of it when they come back through. WTF? Why, oh why oh why would you leave a "live" walker behind you? And did anyone in the audience NOT realize at that point that it was Carol behind the door? Surely there was a better way to write that scene.

• So I was right, Carol's not dead. I told you all that if you they're never dead if you don't see a body! So now I'm curious-- who or what is buried in her grave? You know, the grave Daryl laid a flower on last week? Glenn dug three graves (helped by Oscar and Axel) and of the three, I don't know that there's anything in any of them. T-Dog might be in one, if there was anything left of him after he became a zombie buffet. We know Lori's not in any of them, as she now resides in the belly of a bloated walker. And now we know Carol's not in one either. So why did Glenn dig the graves in the first place? Therapy? Out of habit? Did they just make tombstones and then fill the graves back in, or did they place some remains they thought might be Carol's inside? I'm confused.

• Well, Glenn and Maggie's run-in with Merle didn't go well now, did it? I have this terrible feeling that either Glenn or Maggie isn't going to leave Woodbury alive. Hopefully things will play out differently than they did in the comic. The whole Woodbury story arc in the comic was really, really grim and brutal and probably couldn't be shown on TV (even on cable).

• So after the Ghost of Christmas Lori tells Rick to shape up, he showers and gets all gussied up and finally holds his baby, or what I guess we are all finally assuming is his baby (and not Shane's). Then he meets Michonne, and the plot thickens.
 

Deck The Halls With Cans Of Pringles

Just in time for your holiday feasts, Pringles is releasing three new seasonally themed flavors: Pumpkin Pie Spice, White Chocolate/Peppermint and Cinnamon & Sugar.

Why slave over a hot stove creating sumptuous deserts when you can just open a can, pour some in a bowl and be the envy of all your holiday guests? Your relatives, in their turkey-fueled comas, will think you spent hours creating these saddle-shaped slices of heaven!

So how do they taste? In a word... meh.

I taste tested the Pumpkin and Cinnamon varieties only, as I haven't seen the White Chocolate flavor around these parts as of yet. They were just OK. I was expecting something... I don't know, life altering. Instead all I got was some potato chips-- excuse me, crisps-- that taste vaguely like pumpkin and cinnamon. They were actually kind of bland. Sadly, my life remains unaltered.

The cans are emblazoned with a warning claiming that they're available for a limited time only. If you try them and like them and hate to see them go, quite honestly you could probably make your own by buying a couple of cans of regular Pringles and sprinkling pumpkin and cinnamon spice on them.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Out Of Context Star Trek Moment

I've been an avid Star Trek fan for many decades, but even I have to admit that certain episodes could get a little silly now and then, especially when viewed out of context.

So sit back and enjoy this Out Of Context Star Trek Moment!

Yikes! Let's hope Captain Kirk put the safety on his phaser before he started scratching with it!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Bosses From The Eighth Circle Of Hell: Restroom Surprise

Throughout my career I've prided myself on working hard, performing what's asked of me to the best of my ability and being an all-around good employee. I've also done my best to get along with my various bosses. 

Alas, sometimes that's just not possible. Sometimes you end up with a Boss From The Eighth Circle Of Hell.


Back in the 1990s I worked at a marketing agency for a rather colorful Boss.


The men's room at the agency contained the usual: a urinal and two stalls. One day I went in to use the facilities and as I walked past the first stall, the door suddenly flew open. There was my Boss, sitting inside like a trapdoor spider just waiting for someone to walk by.


He actually wanted to discuss some marketing project while he sat there calmly doing his business with his pants around his ankles. Apparently he must have thought he was LBJ. I stammered a bit, averted my gaze and quickly did an about face and got the hell out of there.


A few days later I walked into the men's room and the stall door burst open again, once more revealing the Boss sitting there in all his glory. This time he tried to hand me a report that he wanted me to look over. I refused to touch it (and made a mental note to never again touch anything in that office for the rest of my life) and bolted for the door. Cheezus, we had a perfectly good conference room in the building; why'd he keep trying to hold meetings in the crapper?

Later I found out that I wasn't the first to experience his surprise bathroom "meetings." He'd opened his stall door to virtually every other male on the staff. Eventually we learned to always check and make sure he wasn't in the men's room before going in.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Tales From The Grocery: I.D.

A year ago I got a job as a cashier at a grocery store in order to pay off some bills. It was a miserable, humiliating and demoralizing experience in every measurable sense, and I got the hell out of there as soon as my bills were paid. I feel genuinely sorry for anyone who has to work in such a place. 

Here is another terrifying Tale From The Grocery. All Tales are 100% true.

Today an older woman came through my checkout line and wrote a check. When I asked for her driver’s license she handed it over to me and I noticed it had expired a full THREE years ago. When I pointed this out to her and said that I couldn’t accept it as a valid I.D. she became predictably enraged and screeched, “I got a new one three months ago, but it’s at home! I just haven’t had time to put it in my wallet yet!”

Yeah, you really need to set aside an entire day for a project like that.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

It Came From The Cineplex: Sinister, Silent Hill: Revelation, The Man With The Iron Fists

It's Fall at the cineplex, so you know what that means! The summer blockbusters are over and all the big Xmas films are still a couple months away, so it's Mediocre Movie Time!

Things are really busy this month so I'll be as brief as possible with my reviews.

Sinister
A disturbing, but ultimately not very scary horror movie that combines traditional cinematography with the dreaded found footage technique. If you like watching snuff films then this is the movie for you.

The Plot:
A true-crime novelist with the unlikely name of Ellison Oswalt moves his wife and kids into the home of a recently murdered family, hoping to solve the mystery of their deaths and write another best seller. He finds a box of old Super 8 snuff films in the attic, each depicting the graphic and gruesome murder of a different family. Eventually he notices a mysterious figure in the background of each film, which turns out to be an ancient demon called Bughuul (pronounced Bug-Ghoul), who likes to cause children to murder their families and then feed on their souls.

Pros:
• The "found footage" movie clips are very effective, and very disturbing. They're accompanied by some odd music though. I'm assuming the music is there for atmosphere and not actually part of the Super 8 film reels.

• The deputy character was very well written and acted the way you'd expect a normal person to react if they were in a horror movie.

• A surprisingly grim ending that I didn't see coming.

Cons:
• Why, why, WHY did Ellison not contact the police the second he discovered the mysterious box of snuff films in his attic? I get that he was using them as research material for his book and didn't want the police to confiscate them, but he copied them all to his computer. There was no reason not to turn them over to the authorities after that (as a normal human being would). Also by keeping them he was probably guilty of some sort of concealing evidence or obstruction of justice charge.

• Exceeds its quota of "jump scares." Having a door burst open or someone suddenly pop into the frame, accompanied by a loud musical sting, does not scare me. It's a cheap and hackneyed technique that stopped being effective years ago.

• "Bughuul" is probably the dumbest and least effective name for a movie monster ever. Did George Lucas name this character?

• Bughuul looks a LOT like that white-faced puppet thing in all the Saw movies. 

• The "snuff films" were a little too realistic. I kind of felt like I needed to take a shower after the movie was over.

• Somewhat derivative of The Shining. Washed-up author moves his family into a new home, strange happenings occur, writer starts hitting the sauce, audience wonders if the happenings are real or a figment of the author's booze-fueled imagination.

• How do movie families manage to move from one home to another (and back again) as easily as I change my shirt? Has anyone in the real world ever got up in the middle of the night, roused their family and said, "Get in the car! We're moving!" Where's the realtor, the bankers, the inspectors and the six inch high stack of papers that need signed?

A somewhat effective horror film with an unexpectedly unhappy ending (which is a good thing in a horror movie). I give it a C+.

Silent Hill: Revelation 
I used to play the various Silent Hill video games and generally enjoyed them, however the movies are another matter. I didn't much care for the first film and unfortunately this one is no different. They definitely look good, capturing the creepy atmosphere of the games, but plot wise... I couldn't tell you what happened in either one if you held a gun to my head. 

An example of the confusion: At the end of the last movie, Rose and Sharon/Heather were in the same room with Christopher (Sean Bean), and although they could see him, he couldn't see or hear them. I got the impression they were supposed to be ghosts or still trapped in Silent Hill or... something. Then at the start of this movie, Christopher and Sharon/Heather are together and can communicate, while Rose is still trapped in the town. Did I miss something? How'd Sharon/Heather get back into the real world? Did it happen offscreen, or did I doze off?

Carrie-Anne Moss plays the leader of the Silent Hill cult, and is completely unrecognizable.

 Twice in this movie the Pyramid Head character saves Sharon/Heather's life. The second time he does so you can almost feel the director hoping the audience will pump their fists in the air and yell, "YEAHH! AW ROIGHT!!!" I got the impression they were trying to make him into a hero of sorts. He's definitely the most iconic character in the movies; I wonder if they're hoping he becomes the next Jason or Freddy Krueger? 

Another movie with the wretched "3D" in the title. Fortunately I was able to find a 2D showing of it.

The Plot:
Young Sharon/Heather (who escaped from the otherworldly town of Silent Hill) and her father Boromir are living under aliases, hiding from Silent Hill cultists. Boromir is captured and Sharon/Heather goes back to Silent Hill to rescue him. She finds out she's really the good half of a demon girl named Alessa, who rules the other dimensional city or something, and... you know what, forget it. I have no idea what the hell this movie was about.

Pros:
• Very moody and atmospheric. Love the shots of the ash falling on the fog-shrouded streets. They've really captured the look and feel of the game. Too bad they didn't put as much effort into the script.

• The Blind Nurses were very effective, and very creepy. Repulsive and yet somehow alluring at the same time (did I really just type that sentence?).

Cons:
• Convoluted script that doesn't make a lick of sense. After a while I stopped trying to figure it out and just watched the pretty pictures.

• Sean Bean does his best to affect an American accent, with mixed results. It just sounded weird to hear speaking like he was from Jersey.

• Pyramid Head needs to think about finding himself a smaller axe. He acts like it's all he can do to pull it along behind him.

• Another sequel with a "colon-followed-by-a-generic-word" title that doesn't tell me anything about the order in which I should watch them. Just like the Resident Evil movies.

A nice looking, but completely confusing mess of a film. I give it a D. Let's hope they don't try for a trilogy.

The Man With The Iron Fists
A love letter to old school Kung Fu movies, co-written, directed and starred in by RZA (former leader of Wu-Tang Clan).

For the record, Mr. RZA's name is pronounced "rih-za," not R-Z-A. 

There's a ton of exposition and plot in this film, but fortunately it's fairly easy to follow.

The film was shot entirely in China for only $20 million, an incredible achievement in these days of $200 million blockbusters. You'd never know it was made for so little though, as it looks gorgeous. Must be that dollar to RMB exchange rate.

Good: A cameo by Pam Grier! Bad: She looks like someone's grandmother now. Man, time sucks!

The Plot:
In the 19th Century, a former slave makes his way to China and becomes a blacksmith, making deadly weapons for various warring clans. Eventually one of the clan leaders decides to take over the Blacksmith's village. With the help of various locals the Blacksmith fights back, becoming The Man With The Iron Fists in the process.

Pros:
• Great cast, including Russell Crowe and Lucy Liu. RZA does an OK job acting wise, but may be a little too sleepy-eyed and laid back to be a Kung Fu hero.

• Bronze Body was an awesome character with a pretty cool armored skin effect. How do you kill a guy who's body turns into metal whenever its touched?

• Lots of cool action and fight scenes, which of course is the reason films such as this exist. And they were filmed coherently for the most part, which is unusual in these days of "shaky cam."

Cons:
• Since RZA is a rapper, I suppose it was inevitable that his music would be featured in the film. Not sure hard core rap works in a Kung Fu movie though.

A fun throwback to Kung Fu films of the past. I give it a B.

Out Of Context Star Trek Moment

I've been an avid Star Trek fan for many decades, but even I have to admit that certain episodes could get a little silly now and then, especially when viewed out of context.

So sit back and enjoy this Out Of Context Star Trek Moment!

You two think you're a coupla' little cutie pies, don't ya?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

One Of These Things Is Exactly Like The Other...

All this recent talk about Disney buying Star Wars (and everything else LucasFilm related) got me to thinking...

Back around 1997 George Lucas decided that Han shooting Greedo first was a Bad Thing. He claimed it made Solo look like a cold-blooded killer. He felt so strongly about this that when he released the Special Editions he changed the scene so that Greedo fired first (and missed!!!) and then Solo shot him.  Phew! Thank goodness! Now he's only guilty of voluntary manslaughter (alienslaughter?) instead of murder.

Curiously, when placed in a similar situation Indiana Jones guns down a threatening swordsman and George is apparently OK with that. In fact the Swordsman's murder is treated as high comedy.

So for the record, shooting an alien first is bad and must be excised from the public's memory. Shooting a sword-weilding guard-- Com-O-Dee Gold!

Choosy Linguists Choose GIF!

This week an anxious world held its collective breath as the Oxford English Dictionary at last announced the 2012 Word Of The Year. And that word is...

(drumroll please! I said, "Drum" oh the hell with it)

GIF!

Yes, GIF, short for Graphics Interchange Format, displayer of low-res cat and blows-to-the-nutsack animations throughout the internet.

Did... did I just accidentally travel back in time several decades? Because GIFs were introduced in Our Year Of The Lord 1987.

You're on it, Oxford English Dictionary. You've definitely got your finger on the pulse of the language. I can't wait until they announce "JPEG" as the 2013 Word Of The Year. Whoops! Spoilers!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

New And Improved Cybermen

This week in Doctor Who news, Neil Gaiman (who wrote last season's excellent The Doctor's Wife episode) announced he's working on an upcoming story involving the Cybermen.

Gaiman promised his script would raise the Cybermen back to their former glory along with redesigning the iconic villains. This week we got a sneak peek at the new suits and...

...they look a lot like the old Cybermen.

It looks like they redesigned the head somewhat and the overall look is a bit sleeker, but really there aren't a lot of differences. I kind of like the new design though, even if they do look quite a bit like rejects from Tony Stark's armor closet.

Hopefully these new versions will come from the planet Mondas again (like proper old school Cybermen) and not from a parallel universe like the versions we've had the past few years (and who have popped up in our universe so many times they might as well be from here).

The only bad part? Now I'm gonna have to update my Evolution Of The Cybermen poster.

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Walking Dead Season 3, Episode 5: Say The Word

Another great episode! So far this season they're 5 for 5! 

No doubt about it, this was a seriously messed up and twisted episode. Which is always a good thing, of course. It was probably also one of the goriest so far-- lots of money shots of zombie heads getting chopped in half.

Thoughts (SPOILERS!):

• I was hoping we'd eventually get to see the Governor's daughter, especially after he mentioned her last week, and meet her we did! Seeing him sitting there calmly brushing his animated daughter's hair (and inadvertently ripping out a hunk of skin)... very creepy. Congratulations, Walking Dead. By showing a father tenderly kissing his zombie daughter, you just warped a little child actress for life. 

This scene was straight out of the comic, but there Penny was the Governor's niece rather than daughter. I'm in favor of this change, as I think daughter probably works better than niece. Also in the comic he pulls Penny's teeth so he can kiss her without getting bitten. I don't know if they'll go that far on TV or not-- even on cable.

This also explains why a couple weeks ago the Governor was so interested in Michonne's "domesticated" zombie bodyguards.

• The Governor's notebook-- in which he filled page after page with nothing but hash marks-- kind of reminded me of Jack Torrance's typed pages in The Shining. I'm not quite sure what the notebook meant-- was it a list of Woodbury residents who've died? And whatever the hash marks meant, it had to be something crazy.

• No doubt about it-- Michonne is a badass. The way she dispatched those caged zombies without even breaking a sweat was awesome!

• Glad to see Michonne finally gave Andrea an ultimatum and got the hell out of Woodbury. Probably just in time too. Too bad Andrea wouldn't listen. One would think that when told the Governor's keeping caged zombies in the compound that she'd have perhaps become a little suspicious, but no. Looks like Andrea may have missed her chance to get out when she could. I'm starting to see how the rest of the season may play out-- Michonne wanders around for a while and finds the prison, Rick & Co. find out she knows Andrea and they all return to Woodbury to rescue her.

I have to keep reminding myself that Andrea and Michonne are good friends and have known each other for quite a while, even though from our point of view it seems like they've just met. It's an odd situation-- in the show's timeline they've been together for eight months, much longer than is apparent to us.

• I was also quite surprised that the Governor actually let Michonne leave. As she walked away from the front gates I half expected the guards to start shooting at her.

• Glenn tells Herschel how great his good pal T-Dog was. Too bad we were never actually shown any of this greatness while he was still around.

• So Carol apparently died last week too? That's what the writers would like us to think, as Daryl lays a Cherokee Rose on her grave. If she really is dead, what a gyp. She never even got a death scene. Did they think three major deaths in one episode was one too many? 

Frankly I'm suspicious. Years of reading comic books have taught me that a person ain't dead if you didn't see the body. But if she's not really dead, then what's in the grave? Did Glenn and the convicts go to the trouble of digging a grave only to fill it back in with dirt? Or did they bury a mangled body they only thought was Carol? I may be way off here, but I just have a feeling we haven't seen the last of her.

• Poor Carl. When asked what he wants to name his new baby sister, he predictably says "Sophia." But then he goes on and lists the names of the dozen or so other women he's seen die in his short life.

• Luckily the writers seem to be asking most of the same questions we in the audience are-- namely what the hell do you feed a newborn baby after its mother dies and you're living in an abandoned prison? 

• So... Rick. Kind of went off the deep end this week, didn't he? He only had one line of dialogue in the entire episode-- his quizzical "Hello?" at the very end when he picked up the phone. If you're a reader of the comic, you'll know who was on the other end.

I didn't understand the scene in which Rick went all Medieval on the big-bellied zombie. After watching it a couple times I think what happened is that zombie ate Lori's body. Rick found the area where she gave birth and died-- the knife Maggie used to cut open Lori was still lying there. Then he found a zombie a few feet away with a huge distended gut. So I think they were implying that that zombie came across Lori's freshly-killed body and ate the entire thing. So Rick killed it by shooting it in the head and then decided to kill it some more by stabbing it in its bloated belly. Again, another incredibly disturbing and messed up scene.

Also, I'm assuming there was probably more than just that one zombie that ate Lori. I know his belly was bulging, but I don't think it's possible for someone to eat an entire person.

• Daryl really stepped up and became the de facto leader this week in Rick's (mental) absence. He even got to feed the baby! Aww... 

They need to be careful here with Daryl. I get that they're trying to make him a well-rounded character and have him open up a little bit around the group, but they shouldn't take it too far. They run the risk of him turning into Lt. Worf on Star Trek: The Next Generation. When Worf first appeared he was a fierce and ruthless Klingon warrior, but by the seventh season he was a single father and was in a relationship with the touchy-feeling Counselor Troi.

• OK, I freely admit Merle's quite a hardcase, but it was a bit of a stretch to accept the notion that he could defeat a beefy, muscular opponent half his age. And one handed yet!

• Andrea goes to the Woodbury zombie fights and realizes way too late that she should have left with Michonne. 

By the way, the zombie games were in the comic, but seemed much more epic there. In the comic version they were held in an actual stadium, packed with Woodburians. The TV games were really scaled down. Budget problems? Or was it the fact that according to the Governor there are only 70 residents of Woodbury?
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