Monday, February 27, 2012

The Walking Dead Season 2, Episode 10: 18 Miles Out

Wow, we got some great zombie action this week, to remind us what the show's supposed to be about. This is the second zombie-heavy episode in a row. Maybe AMC was impressed enough with the ratings to scrape up a bit more cash for the budget.

By the way, if you haven't seen it yet, check out this Walking Dead Special Effects Reel. It's interesting to see how many seemingly normal scenes are actually green screen shots. I was particularly amazed at how many of the zombies are CGI creations!

• OK, this is just nitpicking, but why were Rick and Shane driving Randall 18 miles away from the farm? Sure, it makes for a good title, but why wouldn't you pick a nice round number like 20?

• I was expecting a bit more of an epic battle between Rick and Shane than what we got. Shane appears to be tamed for now, but I'm betting things will flare up again right around the end of the season.

• That Randall sure knows how to keep a secret. He knows Herschel and Maggie (but I guess somehow they don't know him?) but he doesn't mention this fact until Rick's ready to turn him loose to fend for himself. Wouldn't it have made sense for him to say something earlier? If he'd said, "Oh Hi, Maggie. Hello, Mr. Greene" as soon as they brought him to the farm, wouldn't they have most likely let him stay? Or was he afraid Shane would kill him on the spot?

• Rick's decree that they need to use their knives more makes sense, but he needs to be more careful. He slices open his thumb and uses the blood to lure the security guard zombie, and then appears to stab it in the head with a knife held in his now wounded hand. How easy would have been for some tainted zombie blood to get into his cut?

Shane did the same exact thing when he was trapped on the school bus.

• After the two zombie security guards are put down, Shane notices that they don't have any bite marks on them. I'm not entirely sure, but I think they're planting a little seed here in reference to the comic book. In the comic Rick & Co. discover that you don't have to be bitten by a zombie to turn into one. Anyone who dies, even of natural causes, will come back as a walker. It was a big revelation in the comic as the characters realize they can never win-- no matter what they do or how long they survive, they're doomed to eventually become zombies. It gave new meaning to the title, "The Walking Dead." Is that what they were setting up here?

• The zombie attack in the parking lot was really well done. I especially enjoyed Rick's zombie pig-pile scene. It reminded me of Gimli the Dwarf being crushed by orcs and wargs in The Two Towers. Rick gets extra points for creativity for shooting through a zombie's head at the one behind it.

• Wow. Did Lori just diss Andrea for standing guard and protecting the farm instead of doing laundry? As Archie Bunker would say, you're a pip, Lori. A real pip.

• Andrea apparently really believes that old "If you love something, set it free" mantra. Mopey Blonde Girl has given up hope and wants to off herself and Andrea's response is, "Why that sounds just fine. I'll just walk a thousand yards this way and leave you to your work."

I guess I dozed off in psychiatry class the day they said "If you try to kill yourself but not too hard, it means you want to live."

• Why does Rick blindfold Randall again for the trip back to the farm? He already let on that he knows the Greenes, so he likely knows the location of the farm as well. What good does blindfolding him do now?

• I'm confused by the zombie in the field. As they're driving "18 miles out," Shane stares thoughtfully out the right side window and sees a walker staggering through a field. Later on the way back to the farm, Shane stares thoughtfully out the right side window and sees the same walker still staggering through the field. How did he see the zombie on the same side of the road both times? Did the zombie cross the road? Or is Rick driving back to the farm in reverse?

Out Of Context Star Trek Moment #7

It's been quite a while since I've posted one of these, so it's high time I remedied that.

I've been an avid Star Trek fan for many decades. I've seen every episode countless times, I've got tons of reference and behind-the-scenes books, action figures, model ships, trading cards-- you name it, I've got it. With that said, 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 totally Out Of Context Star Trek Moment.

As a freshmen at the Academy, James T. Kirk dreamed of flying through space, visiting far off planets and meeting strange new life forms. And then given them horsey rides.

Yep, that's our beloved Captain being ridden by a little person in Grecian garb.

This scene is from the third season episode Plato's Stepchildren, which is an absolute goldmine of out of bizarre out of context moments.

When I was a kid my dad always thought Star Trek was stupid. I'd try and tell him he was wrong and it was a really cool show and he needed to give it a chance. I'd finally convince him to sit down and watch it with me, and then an episode like this one would come on.

Let's enjoy a couple more views of Captain Kirk being ridden, shall we?

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Job Update

So far my new marketing job is going great. The work is very similar to what I've done before, my coworkers are really nice and at this point I have absolutely no complaints. In fact, things are going a little too great. Any minute now I expect the office to fade away and reveal that the past month has been nothing more than an elaborate Holodeck simulation.

As you know, right before I got my current job I was working in a frame shop. It wasn't the worst job I ever had, but I'm glad I got out of there.

For one thing it was rough on my hands. Every item and piece of equipment in the frame shop was designed to slice, sever and lacerate. And I do mean every item. My hands are just now healing up from the abuse they took there.

My first day on the job I had to cut a piece of glass on the glass cutter. There were heavy duty gloves hung next to the cutter, but of course I poo-pooed the notion of wearing them, thinking I'd be fine as long as I was careful. I gingerly handled the glass as I placed it in the cutter, sliced it and daintily laid it on the counter. A few minutes later I was walking around and wondered why my hand felt wet. I looked down and my whole right hand was covered in blood, like a bright red glove! I swear I didn't feel a thing, but somehow I sliced all five fingers open like a surgeon. Needless to say I wore the gloves after that.

Then there was the mat cutter. We had a computerized mat cutting machine that was kind of fun to operate. You placed the mat board on the table, typed in the size of the board and the opening you wanted, pressed a button and the machine would cut a perfect mat for you in seconds. I've been cutting mats by hand my whole life and I can tell you that this machine was a miracle. The problem was that it cut mats too well. The edges it cut were razor sharp. Many's the time I'd pick up a piece of mat board and slice my fingers practically to the bone. It's amazing how sharp a piece of cardboard can be. I truly believe you could decapitate someone with a freshly cut piece of mat board.

A good part of each day's shift was spent taping up my wounds and trying to keep from bleeding on customer's artwork.

The frame shop was also a nerve-wracking place to work. Quite often customers would bring in one-of-a-kind items and want them dry mounted or framed. One wrong move on my part and their irreplaceable art was gone forever.

Once a woman brought in some Phantom of the Opera memorabilia she wanted framed. Among the items were the tickets from the performance she attended. Tickets that obviously couldn't be replaced. I glued them to the board and then realized I needed to reposition them, but whatever kind of glue I used had permanently bonded them in place for all time. Ruh-roh!

Then there was the time a woman brought in her young daughter's chalk drawing to be framed. As I was working on it I used the compressed air hose to blow the dust off the art, and blew about half the colored chalk right off the paper! Whoops!

And more than once someone brought in the last known photo of their late mother for framing. How could you not be nervous handling something like that? Thank the maker I didn't screw up any of those.

So to anyone in the greater metropolitan Evansville area who had something matted and framed around Xmas time, I'd like to genuinely apologize. Any day now your artwork is going to self-destruct and come crashing to the floor.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Before And... After? Or The Other Way Around In Reverse?

I drive by this billboard every day on the way to work. I had to stop and take a photo before they change it and it's gone forever.

Just look at those dramatic before and after photos. What a startling transformation! Why, the subject's just a shadow of his former self. His own mother wouldn't recognize him.

I ain't sure, but I think he may look a little worse in the After photo!

Helpful tip for any health spas out there: Try and take your Before and After photos more than 15 minutes apart!

The Governator

Big news this weekend for Walking Dead fans-- the infamous Governor is coming to the show (in Season 3) and has finally been cast! And the winner is: British actor David Morrissey. No, not the mopey singer, the guy in the photo above.

It's an odd bit of casting if I do say so myself. In the comic book (SPOILERS!) the Governor is the sadistic ruler of a large compound, who routinely resorts to torture to get what he wants. He bears more than a passing resemblance to actor and former makeup wizard Tom Savini- about as far away as you can get from David Morrissey and his leading man looks.

Supposedly Tom Savini has been campaigning for the part of the Governor since the TV series began, saying the character was obviously modeled on him and the producers need look no further to cast the role.

Personally I don't care who gets the part, as long as it's not Savini. The role of the Governor requires a charismatic actor who can go from charming one minute to cruel the next. In my opinion, Savini just doesn't have the acting chops. Looking like the character ain't enough.

Actor John Hawkes was also rumored for the role. I'm not familiar with Mr. Hawkes' work, but I could see him in the part. He's got that lean meth-head look (well, he does!) that would suit the Governor very well.

For fans of Doctor Who, David Morrissey needs no introduction. He played Jackson Lake, the man who thought he was a future version of the Doctor in the 2008 Xmas Special The Next Doctor. He's a great actor and has the charisma and screen presence the role demands. Whether he can pull off a convincing American accent though remains to be seen. Andrew Lincoln, who plays Rick on the series, is also British and you'd never know it from listening to him on the show, so I suppose there's nothing to worry about in that regard. I'm sure he'll do fine.

To be perfectly honest though, I'm not all that excited by this news. I was never a fan of the Governor story arc in the comic, and am not looking forward to it showing up in the series. For one thing, it was incredibly dark and disturbing. Parts of it were actually difficult for me to read, as it openly flirted with torture porn. Aw, heck, who am I kidding? It didn't flirt with it, it drove it up to Lookout Point, threw it in the back seat and knocked it up. There's no way the TV series will be able to properly duplicate this storyline, even on AMC. It'll have to be significantly watered down, which, even though I didn't care for it, defeats the purpose of including it in the first place.

Another reason I'm not a fan of the Governor storyline is because it was so over the top. Up to that point everything that happened in the comic seemed real and plausible, or as much so as a story about a zombie apocalypse can be. Rick and the other characters were relatable and seemed like real people. Their problems were realistic as well, as they worried about food, shelter and basic survival.

Then along comes the Governor, an over the top character who rules his world with an iron fist, killing and torturing at will. He even forces his enemies to fight in an arena, gladiator style. With the advent of the Governor the series went from realistic to cinematic. It was like Darth Vader or Voldemort* wandered into the comic. Suddenly there were villains and torture and it became an action movie as the main characters tried to escape the evil clutches of the Governor. That was a big mistake, in my opinion. It took me right out of the story, which wasn't a good thing. I'm afraid the same thing will happen to the TV series. Ah well. The producers didn't consult me and ask me what I thought.

By the way, back in Season 1 of the Walking Dead, I predicted that Merle Dixon, everyone's favorite racist meth head, would end up becoming the TV version of the Governor. Looks like I got that prediction wrong.

* Jesus Christ, are you kidding me? Spell check doesn't flag "Voldemort?"

Drawing A Blank

If you're a regular reader of my blog (as millions are) you may have noticed a definite lack of illustration posts around here lately.

Fear not, I haven't given up drawing. Far from it. It's just that last year's Space Dweebs Xmas card took a lot out of me, as those cards always do. Seems like I tend to start on them later then I should and I work on them nonstop for two straight  months. It's an intense period and when it's finally over, I'm just plain worn out. I don't even want to look at the graphic tablet for a few weeks afterward.

This year the "resting period" or whatever you want to call seems to be lasting longer than normal. Plus there've been a lot of changes in my life in the past three months that have keep me busy and away from drawing. Things like losing my job, getting a part time job, then finally getting a better full time job. It's been a big adjustment and there just hasn't been a lot of time for things like drawing. I'm starting to feel the urge to get back into the illustration habit though, so stay tuned.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Alcatraz Update

So far I've been enjoying Alcatraz. It's no Fringe or LOST but it's still pretty good.

One thought I had about the show though: It's awfully nice of the 256 vanished inmates to come back from the past one per week instead of all at once. I guess even hardened criminals can still be considerate.

THIS Is Why Al-Qaeda Hates America: DogTV

You know how when you watch the news and see a story about al-Qaeda and they're always out in the streets chanting, "Death to America?" Did you ever wonder, "Gosh, what's their problem? Why do they hate us so much?"

It's because of things like this. 

Behold DogTV, a brand new cable network that features programming for dogs. You heard me, a TV station for dogs. According to their website, DogTV's programming helps stimulate, entertain and relax dogs with short shows (because dogs have limited attention spans I suppose) that expose them to various movements, sounds and objects.

I guess the idea is to leave DogTV on all day while you're at work so your pet will have something to watch.

Look, I love dogs as much as the next person. Maybe more. I'd rather be with dogs than most people I know. And I don't think this is a totally ridiculous idea. In fact I think it has some actual merit. It's just that when people in other countries see us doing this kind of stuff, it makes me a little embarrassed to be an American. I wish we could keep things like this to ourselves so nobody else finds out. It's just giving our enemies more ammo.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Walking Dead Season 2, Episode 9: Triggerfinger

Sorry for the recap delay; as I've mentioned before I don't have cable and I usually watch the show online. For some reason it was nearly impossible to find an online source this week. Well, a legitimate source, that is; one that didn't want me to buy an iPad or a year's supply of diapers while it installed malware on my computer. Anyhow, on with the recap!

· Finally some zombie action! There's definitely been a shortage of that lately what with everything taking place on Herschel's magically protected farm. I must say it was quite satisfying to see a zombie trying to munch on Lori's unconscious face in the teaser. Stupid windshield! Get out of the way! Credit where credit is due: after Lori's incredibly bone-headed, reckless and unbelievable actions last episode, she redeemed herself this week by the way she dispatched the zombies attacking her.

I was also very glad that this Lori subplot was resolved so quickly and didn't drag on for a couple of years like Dead Trek III: The Search For Sophia.

·  Looks like Dave and Tony weren't alone-- their friends came looking for them. Once again we got a really tense and uncomfortable scene in the bar. Maybe it would be better if they set the rest of this season's episodes in the bar instead of Herschel's farm.

This whole bar subplot was very much like the tone of the comic book. In the comic things always get bad, then they get worse, and then when you think things can't possibly get any worse, they get ten times worse. In the comic and now in the TV series, the real danger is not the zombies, but other humans.

I was expecting the other group to be a little angrier at the news that Rick killed their pals. I definitely expected them to exact a little more revenge than they did. I guess an attacking zombie horde kind of forces you to reexamine your priorities. I have a feeling we haven't seen the last of the Others though.

· Herschel Greene: Farmer. Veterinarian. Family man. Recovering alcoholic. Man of God. And now... Sharpshooter! That's quite a resume, Herschel! You're hired!

· Daryl's one of my favorite characters, but I'm not liking his new direction. The past couple of episodes he's been giving Lori a run for her money as most annoying character. Let's hope Carol's finally drawn him out of the snit he's in so he'll quit pouting.

·  So, Randall, eh? I have a feeling he's gonna end up causing some problems. If not him, then his friends. I also don't think blindfolding him is gonna keep the location of the farm a secret. Sure, Google Maps probably isn't working right now in this universe, but I'll bet there are road maps and atlases lying around. It's a big farm. Surely it's on a map somewhere.

· Dale would make a really good politician. All he has to do is mention in passing to someone that he thinks Shane killed Otis and they instantly believe him. I suppose the fact that Shane's walking around like a hair trigger psychopath might give some credence to Dale's statement, but still.

Speaking of Shane, I hate to admit it but I agree with Andrea that all of his decisions have been right so far. Right as in protecting the safety of the group, that is. Yes, Rick's bringing Randall back to the farm for medical treatment was the decent thing to do, but it's also incredibly dangerous. On the other hand, why did it take this incident for them to suddenly think to post lookouts? Team Rick found Herschel's farm easily enough; why couldn't anyone else?

And speaking of Shane again, last week I said he probably wasn't long for the show because actor John Bernthal had signed up with another series. This week comic and series creator Robert Kirkman said that because of the way cable shows are scheduled and filmed, it doesn't necessarily mean Bernthal couldn't be in two different series in the same year. Makes sense I suppose, but then again that's exactly the kind of thing I would say if I didn't want fans to know a major character was about to bite the dust.

· When Lori was in the tent disrobing, for a second I thought they were going to reveal she'd been bitten. Alas, she was only bruised. Oh well. There's always next week. It's not too obvious that I don't like Lori, is it?

· Did Lori really just hint to Rick that he needs to remove Shane from the equation? I think she did. That was a pretty chilling look on Rick's face at the end.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

I'm A Grown Man And I Bought This: Doctor Who TARDIS Mini Set

For the past four or five years British toy company Character Options has been producing an excellent line of Doctor Who action figures. They just recently started up a new line of Doctor Who Micro-Figures. These new toys are exactly like Lego mini-figures in look and size (about 1.75" tall) and should be compatible with all Lego systems. I've never really been a Lego fan (we had some kind of knockoff brick toys when I was a kid), but God help me, I just couldn't resist them. Sorry wallet. Sucks to be you!

Today I'm reviewing the TARDIS Mini Set.

The TARDIS Mini Set comes complete with a TARDIS (natch) and figures of the Eleventh Doctor and Amy Pond.

The mini TARDIS is about 3" tall (3.5" if you count the beacon on top) and is a perfect little cartoonish representation of everyone's favorite Police Box.Thr Doctor and Amy can even fit inside (although sadly, the interior of the mini TARDIS is not larger than the exterior).

Building the mini TARDIS was pretty straightforward and fairly easy, although the smaller your hands the better. A word of caution: be extremely careful when attaching the doors. You have to line up and fit these incredibly thin little pins into corresponding holes in the top and bottom of the door frame. When I say thin, I do mean thin. Think pencil lead diameter. Why they would make the pins so thin and fragile, I have no idea. A kid will have them snapped off in no time, leading to fits and tears.

I meant to take pre-assembly photos of the mini TARDIS, but unfortunately I forgot. To make up for it I'll help you imagine how it looked in your mind. Imagine a small pile of blue Lego-like bricks. That's pretty much what it looked like before I put it together.

Once you've built it there's a small sheet of stickers to help complete it, consisting of the windows, Police Box graphics and front door signs.There's even a small card printed with the TARDIS interior to place inside it, so you can see it through the open doors.

As for the two mini figures, the Doctor appears to be the same one that was included in the Eleven Doctors Micro-Figure Set. He doesn't look all that much like Matt Smith, but I'm not really expecting a perfect likeness in a Lego format. Besides, it's obvious who he's supposed to be, what with his trademark hairdo and bowtie. He also comes with his trusty sonic screwdriver, which fits securely in his hand so it won't fall out and become lost forever in the shag carpet.

It's good to finally have Amy in this line, but again her figure doesn't look much like Karen Gillan. I know from trying to draw her myself that hers is an incredibly difficult likeness to capture, so I'll give them a pass. Amy appears to be wearing her grandmother's orthopedic shoes. Not much to be done about that though; it's just the way the figures are sculpted.

Despite these small shortcomings, it's a fun little set and I'm happy to finally have it. I never dreamed I'd ever see a Lego-like Doctor Who line or a Lego-esque TARDIS. You won't find one in any brick and mortar store though (at least not in America), so if you want one you'll have to look online for you Who fix.

Things You Should Know About Me: Left-Eared

Like most normal humans, I am right-handed (I kid, I kid! No angry letters, please). However I am most definitely left-eared.

What the hell does that mean, I hear you asking? It means when I talk on the phone I have to hold it up to my left ear. I can't use a phone with my right ear.

It isn't that I can't hear out of my right ear. On the contrary, I've always had near-superhuman hearing. It's just too weird to hold the phone up to my right ear. It feels wrong, like "petting a dog's fur against the grain" wrong. Silly as it may sound, I could no more talk on the phone with my right ear than I could pick a lock with my toes.

I'm not sure how this ear dominance came about, or if it afflicts anyone besides me. Maybe it resulted from the fact that I'm right-handed and usually doodle or perform other tasks while I'm on the phone, leaving my left hand free. It would be mighty awkward indeed to hold the phone to my right ear with my left hand, so... I became left-eared.

Mountain Lyin'

This week Macintosh announced that this summer they'll be releasing yet another in their endless stream of operating systems. Sigh... This time it'll be called Mountain Lion.

It never ends. It's like some kind of computer arms race. It's a full time job trying to keep up with these operating systems. And every time they upgrade the operating system there's the very real risk that your software and peripherals will no longer work with it, turning your printers and scanners into expensive paper weights and forcing you to upgrade.

It's not my imagination either. These perpetual releases are happening more and more frequently. Snow Leopard was released in August 2009. Lion was released in July 2011. Now Mountain Lion is scheduled for release in Summer 2012, less than a year later. I wouldn't be surprised if it becomes obsolete by Xmas.

I guess that's one way to make sure your company stays in business: make your product obsolete every year.

If Apple's not careful they're gonna run out of cat names very soon. They're already cheating with Mountain Lion. That's just another name for a Puma, which they released in 2001.

Personally I'm waiting for them to announce the Civet Cat operating system.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Walking Dead Season 2, Episode 8: Nebraska

After almost a three month hiatus The Walking Dead is back! Huzzah!

Nebraska picks up exactly where the last episode ended, way back before Xmas. You remember, the one with Zombie Sophia and the zombie barn massacre? As episodes go, this one wasn't bad. As mid-season premieres go, it wasn't terribly exciting.

That's what I hate about AMC's instance on splitting up their seasons to get more mileage out of them. These episodes are obviously meant to be seen one after another, yet we have to watch a handful, then wait three frreakin' months to see the rest. It disrupts any kind of narrative flow and rhythm the creators are trying to achieve. Ah well. I guess that's what the DVDs are for.

• I was hoping that the title of this episode meant that Team Rick was going to finally bid adieu to Herschel's farm and head west into a new storyline. Alas, that wasn't to be.

• Back in November I wondered why Herschel never said anything to Rick or the others about Sophia being in the zombie barn. I theorized that Otis had possibly put her in there without Herschel's knowledge. Looks like I was right. Herschel himself states that he didn't know Sophia was in the barn and that Otis must have put here there before he was killed. Otis was killed shortly after Rick arrived at the farm, so that means Sophia must have been bitten about five minutes after she ran off into the woods.

• I get that Herschel was delusional and just fooling himself when he said he thought the zombies were "sick people" who could be cured. But some of those zombies in the barn were missing lips and eyes and faces-- and that was before they were shot. Did he really think they were going to recover from that?

• Maggie tells Glenn she loves him and he worries that she's just saying it because he's the only available male. It's the end of the world, Glenn. Stop being a dweeb and enjoy it while you can.

• Speaking of Glenn, someone needs to show him the proper way to hold a shotgun while riding in a truck. Holding it between your legs with the barrel pointed at your chin is probably not the best of ideas.

• When the redshirt woman (does she even have a name?) in Herschel's house collapses, everyone says she's in shock. Herschel's nowhere to be found, so they lay her on a bed and then everyone stands around wringing their hands, seemingly powerless to help the poor woman. I'm not a doctor, but even I know basic treatment for shock. Elevate their feet, loosen any tight clothing, and for Thor's sake cover then up and keep them warm! I thought that was common knowledge. 

• Sorry, Shane. I kniow you were nice to Carol and washed her dirty paws, but you're still a dangerous, unstable psycho. By the way, John Bernthal, the actor who plays Shane, has reportedly signed a contract to star in another series. Does that mean we could see the end of Shane soon? Could be. TV Shane's been living on borrowed time for quite a while now, outliving the comic book version by a long way.

• Lori wins this episode's Moron of the Week Award. Every week I try and I try and I try some more to like TV Lori, but I just can't do it. Every move she makes and every word that spews out of her head seems designed to infuriate me. This week was no exception. Lori, who if you remember is pregnant, decides to drive to town on her own to bring back Rick and Glenn. Five minutes later she manages to flip the car and get pinned inside. Ta-Daaaa!

• This episode featured one of my pet peeves about zombie movies (and TV shows): why is it that none of the characters can ever use the word "zombie." On this show it's always "walkers," "geeks," "those things" and now "lame brains." I don't get why no one ever just calls them zombies. Is the word copyrighted? Are the writers afraid it'll sound silly? Surely zombie movies must exist in the Walking Dead universe. So why doesn't someone see an undead person shambling around and say, "Wow, that looks remarkably like a zombie."

• The best part of the episode was of course the scene in the bar with Dave and Tony from Philly. The entire scene was very well done and was very tense and uncomfortable. Very well acted and directed. Although it was shocking, I think Rick did the right thing. Those two were nothing but trouble and no good would have come from bringing them into the fold.

I wonder if Dave and Tony were on their own, or scouts from a larger and even more dangerous group nearby?

I'm A Grown Man And I Bought This: Doctor Who TARDIS Cookie Jar

In my personal quest to own every piece of Doctor Who merchandise currently available, I recently bought this snappy TARDIS cookie jar. I have no idea what I'm going to do with it, but as with all things Who-related, I just couldn't resist it. I don't eat cookies, so I doubt I will use it for its intended purpose. OK, that's a lie. I do eat cookies, as my waistline can attest. They usually just don't last long enough to bother dumping into a jar. Maybe I can use it to store my various Doctor Who action figure accessories.

As TARDISes go, it's a pretty good representation. Nicely proportioned and has all the usual features. In fact if you didn't want to store cookies inside, it would double as a decent scale model of the TARDIS. This isn't the TARDIS of the current Eleventh Doctor. It appears to be that of the Ninth and Tenth Doctors, since it's lacking the St. John Ambulance badge on the right-hand door.

One minor complaint: They cheaped out on the paint applications and didn't paint the handle and lock on the door. A few minutes with a brush and some silver paint would remedy that, but for the price I shouldn't have to do their touch up work.

As a cookie jar I suppose its adequate. It's constructed of plastic, not ceramic, so don't be too rough with it during snack time. It's not terribly spacious inside so if you do use it as a cookie jar, you'll have to fill it with small diameter cookies. Ironic, considering the TARDIS is supposed to be bigger on the inside than the outside, eh?

There's actually a removable inner container inside which holds the cookies. When it's dirty, you remove the container to wash it, so you don't have to dunk the entire TARDIS in the sink and fry its electronics.

Yep, this is an electronic cookie jar. Lift the lid and close it and you'll hear the characteristic TARDIS dematerialization sound, as the blue light on top flashes on and off. There's no off switch, so it's gonna sound off and alert the whole household every time you cheat on your diet.

All in all, a decent addition to your cookie jar collection, or your Who collection in general.

I don't have one, but I noticed that there's also a TARDIS ice bucket for sale. It looks suspiciously like the cookie jar to me. Beware if you're thinking of buying one, however. It's the same price as the cookie jar, but is sans electronics, presumably to avoid them getting soaked by melting ice.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Return Of The Journal Doodles!

Back in 2010 I bought a journal (it's not a diary!) that contained calendar pages at the beginning of every month. I live a simple life here at Bob Canada's BlogWorld and had no use for the calendar, so I started filling up each day on the calendar with a doodle.

Sadly, the 2011 journal (it's not a diary!) that I bought didn't have calendar pages, so there were no doodles last year.

But this year's journal (it's not a diary) features the calendar pages again! Huzzah! The Daily Doodles are back! Enjoy the January Doodles!

Truth In Advertising, I Guess

Here's a photo of one of my favorite things in the whole wide world: Honey Flavored Peanut Butter. For my money it doesn't get much better than this, and if you disagree you are a Philistine deserving of the scorn and mockery of others.

Let's take a closer look at the ingredients, shall we? Note that the label helpfully informs us that Honey Roast Creamy Peanut Butter contains... PEANUTS! Gasp!

I assume this preposterous proclamation is some legal butt-covering due to the deadly peanut allergy that's running rampant in our society these days. Either that or people have become even stupider than I thought. You know, maybe if today's pale, sluggish kids would go outside and eat dirt once in a while instead of playing XBox 360 inside their sterile bed chambers they wouldn't have peanut allergies.

Also note that Honey Flavored Peanut Butter contains Rapeseed Oil. You may know this substance by it's more common and suitable for mixed company name of Canola Oil. Rapeseed is the honest to God actual name of the oil though, which probably explains why most companies choose to call it Canola instead.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Well, I Am Now Officially Employed!

After a long and ulcer-inducing search, I finally found a new full-time job. I'm now a graphic designer in the Marketing Department at Shoe Carnival.

If you're a regular reader of my blog (as millions are) you'll remember that the bank in which I worked closed forever last December. I then got a part-time job in a frame shop to help make ends meet until I could find a full-time job. I was beginning to wonder if that was ever going to happen, but I finally found my new job last month and started today. Best of all the work I'll be doing is very similar to what I did at the bank, so there shouldn't be too steep of a learning curve.

Hopefully this will be a more secure and stable place to work than the bank was. I hope so. I can't take many more years like 2011.

I'm trying my best not to get too excited or happy about my new job though. You see, the Universe can sense when I'm happy, and it is then compelled to destroy that happiness. I know what you're thinking; go ahead and scoff. I know the truth though. I've lived through it over and over again. Whenever my happiness rises above a certain level, the Universe must slap me down. Hard. So I'm trying to keep my feelings low-key. So, hooray.

To anyone out there who is unemployed, my advice to you is don't give up. There ARE jobs out there. It just takes a really long time and a little bit of luck to find them.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Who Knows Best

This week he Prado Museum in Madrid announced that after closer analysis, a painted copy of the Mona Lisa in their collection is much older than previously thought, and was painted at the same time as the original. It was most likely painted by a student of Leonardo da Vinci, or who knows, it could also have been painted by the Master himself.

If you're a Doctor Who fan, this will all sound very familiar to you. In the 1979 episode City of Death, an alien called Scaroth pays a visit to Leonardo in his studio. He convinces him to paint an additional FIVE copies of the Mona Lisa. Scaroth then stores the copies in the cellar of a mansion, where 500 years later he will sell them to unscrupulous art collectors for fabulous sums of money in order to fund his time travel experiments and restore his race.

Once again, Doctor Who got it right!

Things You Should Know About Me: Colors

When I was a kid I was convinced I could invent a new color.

I was five or six years old when I first learned about the color wheel. You know, mix red and blue to get purple, yellow and blue to make green and so on. I had some kind of cardboard and acetate color wheel that I could rotate and see the various color combinations.

I couldn't accept the limitations of the standard color wheel though. I was positive there had to be other colors out there, just waiting to be discovered. So I'd get out my box of 64 Crayola crayons and experiment, trying to come up with a brand new color.

I managed to come up with yellow greens and bluish reds and such, but those were just shades of existing colors. I wanted something totally new.

I thought perhaps my failure was due to the medium I was using, so I switched from crayons to watercolors. The results were even less promising with paint. Most of my watercolor experiments ended up a disappointing dishwater gray.

Needless to say, I never discovered any new colors. It didn't stop me from trying though. I was sure that my failure was due to the fact that I just hadn't found the right combinations in the precise percentages.

Desperate for results, I even cheated at one point. I mixed white and red and of course got pink. I refused to call it such though and insisted that I'd discovered a new color called Light Red. Unfortunately the scientific community (which at the time, consisted of my parents) didn't buy it.

Of course as a child it never occurred to me that the human eye can only see certain wavelengths and that even if by some miracle I did come up with a brand new color, I wouldn't have been able to see it anyway. Say, that gives me an idea. Maybe I could take a blank piece of white paper and tell everyone I invented a new color that's beyond the range of human vision!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

I'm A Grown Man And I Bought This: Doctor Who Enemies Of The Third Doctor Set

I first started buying Character Option's Doctor Who action figures around 2007. The original plan was to buy the Tenth Doctor and Rose and maybe a Dalek and that's all. You can probably imagine how that plan turned out, four years and several hundred figures later.

Today I'm featuring the Enemies Of The Third Doctor Set. In addition to offering figures based on the new Doctor Who series, Character Options has been pumping out figures from Classic Who as well.

For a while now the classic figures have come in sets of two or three figures. You usually get two newly sculpted figures and one older one, often with a different paint scheme. For the first time, all three figures in this set are brand new. It's reportedly been selling at a brisk pace, no doubt because it doesn't contain any recycled figures. Are you listening, Character Options? We don't like having to buy a figure we already have in order to get two we don't.

First up in the set is Omega, from the 1973 episode The Three Doctors. Here we see Omega posing in his smart blue-green ball gown. Omega was the first of the Time Lords (the Doctor's race) and invented the Stellar Manipulator, which enabled them to travel through time. He became trapped in an anti-matter dimension and began siphoning power from the Time Lord's planet of Gallifrey. The Time Lords allowed the Third Doctor to team up with two of his previous selves in order to defeat Omega.

Omega is very well done and looks exactly like he did in the episode. Kudos to whoever it was a t Character Options that sculpted him.

Normally I'm not a fan of "soft goods" clothing on smaller action figures like this one. It's tough to get fabric to hang properly and look right at such a small scale. It absolutely works in this case though. The fabric they chose is just the right thickness and recreates Omega's shimmering mu mu perfectly.

Omega has all the standard articulation featured in the line, so you should have no trouble posing him.

His helmet is even removable (sorry, there's nothing underneath it) so that you can recreate the pivotal scene from the episode, in which he reveals that the anti-matter dimension has eaten away his corporeal body, leaving behind nothing but his clothing and his malevolent will.

Here we see Omega doing his Marilyn Monroe impression from The Seven Year Itch. He's got a fully detailed body underneath his robes, which was a surprise. Character Options could easily have cheapened out here and given him a featurless, generic body. Nice to see they didn't. I have no idea if it's accurate and true to the episode though. It's been a while since I've seen it and I don't remember any scenes of Omega pulling his dress over his head.

Next up is an Auton from the 1970 episode Spearhead From Space. Autons are robotic beings made of living plastic, controlled by an alien called the Nestene Consciousness.

Autons most often resembled department store mannequinss. In later years it appears they've learned to recreate humans perfectly.

This is my favorite figure of the set. The sculpt is spot on and perfectly captures the Auton's creepy mannequin faces. The clothing is perfect as well, right down to the ascot. I don't remember the Autons on the show having silver boots (!), but I'll take Character Options' word for it. They no doubt have more reference material than I do.

Some have complained that the figure's neck appears to be way too long, but I think that only adds to its otherworldliness.

Most Autons are armed with a hand gun that is stored inside their right hand. Get it? Hand gun! I slay me! Past Auton figures had a hinged transforming feature built into the figure's hand. It was fragile, prone to breakage and just never worked very well. They finally wised up and included two right hands with the Auton; a normal hand and a gun hand. Just pop the normal hand off and stick the gun hand in the wrist socket. Works much better than the old way. Just don't lose the small pieces in the shag carpet!

Last up is a Drashig, from the 1973 episode Carnival Of Monsters. Drashigs are enormous snake-like creatures with six eyes on stalks. Their tough hide is impenetrable to even machine gun fire. They are able to consume most anything, even metal. Once a Drashig picks up a scent, it will never give up until it catches its prey.

Believe it or not, according to the episode the Drashigs are one of the most feared and deadly predators in the universe. This despite the fact that they look not unlike Cecil The Sea-Sick Sea Serpent.

The sculptors at Character Options no doubt have a tough time when working on characters from the Classic Series. Back then Doctor Who had an extremely limited budget and the show abounded with cardboard sets and paper-mache aliens. So what should they do? Should they sculpt classic monsters just as they looked, zippers and all? Or should they improve them a bit and try to sculpt them as they were supposed to look? So far it looks like they've decided to make them as they were, warts and all. I guess that's probably the best route. It still doesn't make the Drashig look any less goofy though.

For the first time since the Doctor Who line began, Character Options changed things up a bit– the Drashig figure is also a hand puppet! You can insert your hand into it and open and close its mouth and make it bite the heads off your other figures. Unusual in an action figure line, but it fits the character here.

All in all this is one of the best Classic sets Character Options has released so far, and I highly recommend it. As you can see, three out of eleven Doctors agree!

Watchin' The Watchmen

This week DC Comics announced they're finally going through with their plans to publish a prequel to Alan Moore's 1986 ground-breaking graphic novel Watchmen.

Not surprisingly, Moore refused to participate in the project. I can't say I blame him. The original Watchmen graphic novel is a high water mark in the history of comic books and I don't see how these prequels could possibly add anything of value. If anything they'll most likely tarnish Watchmen's legacy. But who cares about artistic integrity when there's merchandising money to be made, right?

DC released cover images for seven or eight of the prequel issues. As I looked at them, this is the one that caught my eye:

Um... is Dr. Manhattan really doing what it looks like he's doing? Introducing Silk Specter to his Bronx, right there on the cover for everyone to see? He pretty much has to be, amiright? I can't think of any other reason he'd be holding her in such a manner.

Maybe it's not as bad as I think. Maybe they're really at one of those corporate team-building retreats and Silk Specter has to fall backwards and trust the Dr. to catch her. Or maybe it's her birthday and he told her to close her eyes and he's guiding her into the next room to see the surprise he bought.

Or maybe it's exactly what it looks like and he's coming right up Broadway.

That's Just Dandy

Saw this in my front yard this morning. February 2nd is WAY too early for this to be happening. Looks like I'm gonna have a bumper crop this summer!

It Came From The Cineplex: The Grey

Liam Neeson stars in The Grey, the latest from director Joe Carnahan (Smokin' Aces, The A-Team) and producer siblings Ridley and Tony Scott (Black Hawk Down, Gladiator, Unstoppable and many more).


Neeson plays John Ottway, an Alaskan oil company sniper who protects pipeline workers from wolf attacks. Ottway is despondent over the recent death of his wife to the point of considering suicide.

Ottway and a crew of pipeline workers boards a plane heading back to the Lower 48. On the way home, the plane encounters a storm and crashes in the snowy wilderness of Canada. Ottway and six other passengers must then band together to survive the elements and the relentless pack of bloodthirsty wolves that begin picking them off one by one.

It's a bleak and gritty tale of survival against the elements and nature; one that forces you to wonder what you'd do in such a situation.

Many are whining about what they consider the less than satisfying ending. There's no good way to talk about it without spoiling it, so here goes: Ottway ends up the last survivor and unwittingly wanders into the wolves' den. The alpha wolf appears and prepares to attack. Ottway reaches into his pocket and grabs a handful of tiny airline alcohol bottles. He tapes them to his knuckles and breaks them on a rock, creating makeshift jagged Wolverine claws. He then snarls, "Come on!" at the wolf and the screen goes black.

Unlike many, I didn't find the ending lacking at all. The film isn't about an epic final battle between Ottway and Super Wolf, it's about Ottway finally deciding he wants to live. Earlier in the film he actually stuck the end of his rifle in his mouth, coming within a hair's breadth of suicide. He'd given up. Now out here in the wilderness he's had a change of heart. He asked God for help and when it didn't come he said, "FU, Yahweh!" and decided to take control of his own destiny.

And FYI, for those who didn't like the ending: If you all didn't insist on bolting out of the theater like Olympic sprinters the second the film ends, you'd know there was a short scene after the credits which strongly implies that Ottway won. So there.

This whole controversy about the ending wouldn't have happened if not for the misleading trailer. I really wish studios would stop editing trailers to make a movie look like something it's not. I get that the object of a trailer is to lure butts into the seats, but you're not going to win any friends by outright lying to the audience. And filming scenes just for the trailer that don't actually appear in the movie– that's even worse. I though we had truth in advertising laws.

One last thing: I have to give props to Liam Neeson for the scenes in which Ottway dreams of his dying wife. Neeson's real-life wife, Natasha Richardson, died just a few years ago in 2009 after a skiing accident. Those scenes must have hit very close to home and were probably very tough for him to film.

• Liam Neeson kicks significant ass. He's rapidly becoming my favorite actor. I'll even give him a pass for starring in The Phantom Menace.

• Good performances all around, great cinematography and location shooting

• Nothing explodes at the end.

• Misleading trailer gets audiences fired up for a battle that never happens (onscreen, at least).

• There were a few distracting scenes in which the wolves were obviously CGI.

• As I mentioned earlier, Ottway tapes airline booze bottles to his hands and breaks them, forming crude jagged glass weapons with which to fight the wolves.

Are airline alcohol bottles really made of glass? I'd think they'd be plastic.

I give The Grey an A-.
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