Thursday, August 30, 2007

Coin Puzzle - Are You a Genius?

Okay, I know I said I'd take a few days off, but I'm feeling better and can sit for a little bit, so ... Here is a post I was holding onto. Just watch the video below, and follow along with it. Just to help you out a bit, you will be asked to get five coins: three large and two small. (Quarters and pennies work well.)

I'm ashamed to say it took me 5 tries. I am typically much better at these logic puzzles, especially after seeing the solution. D'oh! In my defense, I had a sinus headache and was under the influence of Sudafed and my usual cocktail of prescription medication.

If you go to the website shown in the video, there is a slew of comments to the video saying how they completed this coin puzzle in four moves or less. By the rules in the video, yes, they did. But I'd add another rule to the puzzle which states, "When moving the paired coins, their ending position must have one of the two coins touching at least one of the non-moved coins."

How well did you do?

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Few Days Off

I likely will not be blogging for the next few days. A painful medical condition has arisen that precludes me from sitting too long. I'm too embarASSed to tell you what it is. Butt, hopefully I'll have some PREPARATION done for when I return, TUCKing away little ideas and such.

Until then amuse yourselves with Star Wars: Attack of The Hemorrhoids!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Kitty Say What?

Now I got this song stuck in my head! Nooooooo!

Monday, August 27, 2007


Wow ... that D&D video was perhaps the most boring and poorly put together piece of promotional crap I've ever watched. I put the wrong video up. I had meant to post this one:

A much more light-hearted look at Dungeons and Dragons over the years.

I've played D&D since Summer 1979. Yes, my first time playing was when I was 8-years-old!

All I really recall is I was given an elf to play. At that time elves were not a race, as much as a class. They were a combination of warrior, archer, and magic-user. I didn't care about that then, though. I knew my elf could shoot a bow and cast Magic Missile! Of course, my mental image of Magic Missile was of miniature ICBMs flying out of my elf's hands, not mystical shards of light doing force impact damage. I was eight! Whaddaya expect?

The only other thing I recall from that very first experience was encountering a stegosaurus. Now, I loved dinosaurs at the time. One of my favorite toys was a pack of cheap, multi-colored plastic dinosaurs I would play with for hours, doing mock battles, attacking my other toys, growling and roaring.

The fact said Stegosaurus was in a 10'x10'x10' room in the middle of an underground dungeon never crossed my eight year old mind. Nor did the fact that Stegoaurs do not eat meat, yet piles of bones and half eaten goblin corpses littered the hallway surrounding the door into the dino filled closet. What did register is that the damn thing killed my elf in one lousy hit. This was after my Magic Missile spell bounced harmlessly off its scaled hide, as well as a slew of hastily shot arrows.

I didn't really get into playing D&D until a few months later in 1980, after the Christmas break, when a friend of mine got the Basic game from Santa. Our small group of friends spent hours and hours pouring over the rules, creating new characters, and trying to draw what our carefully crafted characters looked like. All before we ever stepped foot into a single adventure.

The Keep on the Borderlands was my first, real adventure. Fighting orcs, goblins, and the occasional Ogre and undead in the Caves of Chaos is still a warm memory. My elf made it all the way to level 3 this time ... before a black dragon ate her. She had no chance, really. The dragon was hiding under a pile of dirty goblin clothing in a small side cave. The DM (Dungeon Master) added that little encounter into the published adventure after deciding we had done enough Dungeons, it was now time for the Dragons part of the game's title. =/

I was beginning to hate reptiles.

The rest is history.

Playing D&D gave me a way to unleash my imagination, a love of reading (mostly fantasy stories at that time), exercised my math skills with its often arcane rules of figuring out if an action succeeded, broadened my communication skills through story-telling and role-play, and taught me how to research by looking up rules in the books, as well as all sorts of esoteric things relating to medieval times from the library. (Yeah, I learned the difference between a bill-guisarme and a halberd, as well as what a buttery was, and why a longbow was deadlier than a crossbow, among other things. You know, important knowledge to help me in my day-to-day life!)

I've played, and collected, D&D since. I used to have several of the varying Basic Sets (but they were lost or otherwise misplaced over the last 27 years). I have many original 1st edition rulebooks, most of the 2nd edition core rule books, the vastly underrated Skills and Powers options set of rulebooks (more like a 2.5 edition), and the core rulebooks for 3rd Edition.

I never "upgraded" to 3.5 Edition, though i do have the 3.5 Basic Game box set which I keep intending to teach and play with the boys, but never do. Mainly because, by the time the weekend rolls around, we are so busy with one thing or another, someone is on restriction for something, or Mom isn't feeling well (the only real gaming spot is a table very near her bedroom), we have no time. Plus I play WoW ... a lot. More than I should.

Which brings us to this weekend and the lack of posts Saturday and Sunday. I could have, but they would have been made in the late afternoon, almost evening. Evenings are times when I like to pop into WoW and hook up with online friends to hang out. Plus, one of the kids was in big trouble (for something I felt was minor and way overblown, but Grandma wouldn't let it go! *sigh*) and the house was an unpleasant place to be, let alone try to write a blog.

All in all, I'd rather have been in a 10'x10' room with a Stegosaurus.

Friday, August 24, 2007

D&D 4th Edition

An official video about the recently unveiled, upcoming 4th Edition of the venerable Dungeons and Dragons role-playing game.

More to come later ...

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Another Fine Chinese Product

This is a Chinese made bubble blower called Bubble Breezer (or Bub L Breezer). Yes, he blow bubbles out of his butt. No, I'm not providing a link to where you can get one. You'll know how to find one if you really wanted one ... not that anyone would. Right?

Besides, with all the Chinese recalls lately, you'd be lucky if this thing didn't blow up in your face, or create leaded bubbles.

This product might explain doggy breath:

It can't be be any worse than the possible upcoming US introduction of the well-made Chinese automobile manufacturer Chery Amulet. See how well it fares in a standard crash test.

That's pure quality there, folks! You just don't get full body accordion crumple like that in American cars these days. (Technically, that was a Russian crash test demonstration of the Chery Amulet).

Chrysler has inked a deal with Chery to begin selling its cars here in the US. Mainly compact and sub-compact cars in the $10,000 to $15,000 range. And, yes, they will still make money on such cheap automobiles manufactured in China and shipped to the US. [cite]

Chrysler is going to have to do a Hell of a job selling this piece of crap to the American public. Oh, sure, they will likely get it up to American safety standards. But, the stigma of being Chinese made, especially after the recent spate of dangerous Chinese made recalls, will make most people think more than twice about buying one. The viral video above will be burned into a lot of peoples' consciousness. The Buy American segment will surely use any and all manner and media to discredit the purchase of these cars.

We're a ways off from seeing them in the US, and Chrysler is probably more interested in growing their brand name in foreign markets, where these cars, even in current state, would sell nicely. Still, the US market could use a reasonably priced, safe, fuel efficient small car (think VW Bug a few decades back.)

Time will tell. Maybe these Chery built cars will be a good thing.

And, maybe it'll blow bubbles out of its tail pipe!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Adventures in Foosball

Two Christmas's ago, we bought the kids a Star Wars Foosball Table. It was a Wal-Mart special, only %59.99. A deal, I thought. Until I had to put the monster together.

Fortunately the kids were visiting their Grandparents in Michigan. I'm not sure their tender ears would have withstood the blistering tirade of curses, oaths, and mumbled dire imprecations for the designers of this do-it-yourself game from Hell.

Not that the instructions were difficult; indeed, they were quite clear, concise, and relatively easy to follow. Not that the parts were packed poorly; everything was labeled, each hardware component was packaged separate and marked, nothing was damaged, chipped, worn, or scratched.

Sportscraft, the maker of the foosball table, did an excellent job with this product. Other assembly-required manufacturers would do well to emulate Sportscraft when packaging their products.

No, the trials and tribulations of assembling the game table came from two sources: the sheer volume of parts and the idiocy with which I went about putting it together.

Clearly this was going to be a two person job. Of course, I went it solo.

I had my trusty Black & Decker cordless power drill. I had my case of Craftsman hand tools. I had plenty of floor space in which to work. I had ample lighting. I had a big-screen TV with all sorts of Christmas specials on to entertain me as I worked.

I was ready to work!

Except that I had forgotten to charge up my drill. And, several screwdrivers, the Allen wrenches, and my crescent wrench were mysteriously missing from my tool case. And, the volume of pieces from inside the tightly packed, deceptively small box grew to take over the living room, the couch, and portions of the walking area between the front and back of the house. The lighting was fine ... from one angle; the rest of the place may as well have been the dark side of the moon. The television was fine. Except that with all the product pieces carefully strewn about I couldn't comfortably see anything, let alone sit down to watch it while waiting for my drill to charge. It did give me time to locate my missing tools. Most of them. A few are still AWOL. You might see their pictures on the sides of cans of WD-40, right under the "Have You Seen Me?" caption.

Long story short, after several long sweaty hours, a few splinters, a scraped knuckle or two, and much moaning, groaning, and general cursing, standing before me in all it's glistening glory was a bona fide, working foosball table. A 48'' x 24'' x 32.75" monument to perseverance, ingenuity, and sheer stubbornness.

I couldn't have been prouder.

Until my mother came out to see it and asked me if all the handles were supposed to be on the same side of the table.


Longer story shorter, after another sweaty hour, more splinters, a scraped knee to match the knuckles, more moaning, groaning, and enough cursing the FCC threatened to shut me down, I had wrestled the table apart, swapped the bars to their correct positions, and reattached everything. In the meanwhile I cracked an important stabilizing piece and almost cemented myself to both the floor and the table with some strong wood glue.

Did you know wood glue is great for removing fingerprints? Off your fingers?

The game table looked sharp. Darth Vader glowered from one side. Yoda brandished a lightsaber on the other. Clone Troopers and Federation battle droids faced each other in stony silence (well, hard plastic silence), waiting for the momentous occasion when the first plastic ball rolled onto the slate battlefield. The goal nets waited like ravenous maws. I swear I could see them salivating.

Well, the kids came back home, oohed and aahhed over the foosball table ... then proceeded to play their new Gameboy games.

Over the last two years, the table has been used several times, but serves mostly as a convenient travel path for the cats to get from the couch to the top of the television.

Yesterday was one of those days where the plastic clone troopers and Federation driods did footie battle.

The kids and I played a cut-throat tournament of winner-plays-loser. Star Wars foosmen spun like demented dervishes, dancing wildly across the table. The ball spacked and popped back and forth, a white blur on the blue-green field of deadly battle. You could almost hear the roar of a crowd as fancy moves and well-timed kicks sent the ball soaring into the awaiting maws of the goals.

Okay, what really happened was I had my ass handed to me by a 13 and 10-year-old.

I jammed my pinky trying to quickly grab one my sticks to block a shot. I pinched the skin of my thumb in the small hole the pole slides through. My back seized up trying to awkwardly stoop down so as to reach the gaming rods. And once, the ball flew out of the table box with enough force to knock my glasses askew.

After a celebratory dance by the kids, whom ended up tied when i called a halt to the tournament (no fool, I), the table was slid back into its customary spot.

The cats were pleased their highway was returned and promptly sat on it, shooting looks of scorn at their crazy humans who needed plastic men mounted on rotating rods to bat a ball around. That's what paws were for. Sheesh.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Ballad of the Noob

This was hilarious! And, yes, according to the video's creators, they are aware alliance and Horde cannot actually talk to each other, let alone trade items.

You may want to turn this up a little, as a few spots get kinda hard to hear.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Back to School

A few years ago there was a commercial for Staples that showed a man gleefully dancing about as he pushed a shopping cart full of school supplies to the Christmas tune of "It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year". His two kids glumly trudged along behind him, faces set in sour expressions.

I love that commercial!

My kids weren't near as despondent as the kids in the commercial, but they weren't exactly pleased saying goodbye to the freedoms of Summer and camp at the Y. One is going into the 8th Grade, so he's happy to be Top Dog in his Middle School now. The other is going into 5th Grade, to a brand new built school. So, he is Top Dog in his Elementary with all new everything.

They wear school uniforms, so clothing was easy. Solid color Polo tops and jeans are the order of the day. Still, they both seemed very happy (and a little surprised) at the new cargo jeans they got. (Grandma is straight-laced and jeans with cargo pockets, Velcro, faded, or otherwise deviate from normal, utilitarian jeans were a non-no.) New socks, new shoes, new belts. Even being boys they like to be stylin' a bit the first day of school.

New backpacks, too, for all the new school supplies. My youngest got a one-strap over-the-shoulder pack, in camo and black. Compartments and zippers everywhere on that thing. My older boy got a messenger bag, like you'd see those bike messengers carry slung over their shoulder as they slalom dangerously through New York traffic. It has several discrete compartment to keep his books, folders, and binder separate from one another, pen holder, a few big pockets for his calculator and pack of markers. I want one, but have no use for it. It's just cool.

What sucks big time this year is the revamped bus schedules. Last year, both boys went to the stop at the same time, with only a 15 minute gap between pick-up times. This year, the Elementary starts an hour earlier. so instead of leaving the house at 8:10 AM for a 8:25 AM pick-up, I have to get him down there by 7:10 AM. Ugh!

He did well in getting up earlier. He got up, dressed, ate breakfast, did his morning chores, and was ready to go in (for him) record time. His brother has to get up with him, unfortunately, because we simply aren't doing breakfast twice. He gets an hour to read, maybe play his Gameboy DS a bit, but no television. Me? I'd use the time to go over my homework from the night before or study for a test that day. But, then again, I was a nerd in school.

My older boy is being allowed to walk to and from the bus stop now. A huge step for him, and us. With his behavioral problems and trust issues, we're hoping it will not turn around and bite us. We want to extend him some trust and responsibility. I know he can do it, but I still get those small, niggling doubts crawling through my mind.

We live in a retirement community. A place of wrinkled old farts with too much time on their hands, and a need to control others since they cannot control their own bladders any longer. (There are a lot of wonderfully nice older folk in the park, don't get me wrong, but the few loud-mouthed control freaks override the nice like fecal coliform in the swimming pool.) There was trouble at first when the boys came to live with my Mom ... until the state told them shut-up or tell it to a judge. I'm sure there will be some complaints when people see him walking down the main road to the bus stop. They can bite my butt.

I did give him several tules to follow:

  1. Stay on the main road.
  2. Do NOT walk in, through, over, or across any body's yards.
  3. Do NOT stop to pet any animals.
  4. Do NOT stop to look at something interesting, especially if it is in some one's yard.
  5. Do NOT pick up anything off the ground. (Sticks, pennies, shiny things ... he's like a freakin' crow sometimes.)
  6. Do NOT talk to anyone unless they talk to you, and then keep it to "Hello", "Good Morning", or "Hi".
  7. If one of the walking wrinkles tries to stop you, asks you what you are doing, or otherwise harasses you, keep walking and tell them to talk to me!
  8. If your bus doesn't come on time, your butt better be sitting at the stop until 9:00 AM, at which time you may come home and I'll drive you if I'm in a good mood. Missing the bus means you miss school, stay in bed all day, lights out, until the time you'd normally get home. (Guarantee he won't "miss" the bus more than once! hehe)

We couldn't make it to either school's Open House for the meet-and-greet with the teachers. You'd think the schools would schedule the things so as to not interfere with each other. Plus, they were both on the last day of summer camp and the kids went to Busch Gardens. I wasn't going to make them miss that for a hot, stuffy, long, boring school event where you see the teacher for 5 seconds, cannot find parking within a half mile of the campus, and get confused by each teacher contradicting the other as to rules, supplies, and procedures. *sigh*

I'd better wrap this up. My first kid'll be home in four hours. I'm sure he'll have a list of supplies three times the amount of what the school said he'd need. And another list with demands for cash for various things like an Agenda, class supplies, yearbook, blah, blah, blah ...

Sunday, August 19, 2007

JK Rowling is Writing a New Book

J.K. Rowling, she of Harry Potter fame, is writing a new book.

Word on the streets, more accurately in the Edinburgh cafes she haunts, is the new book will be a crime drama, a criminal detective novel. [cite]

Now, that just seems a strange leap from the Harry Potter books to writing crime novels. Though, with all the dark doings, murders, and other deaths in the later books of the Potter series, perhaps it is not so much a stretch. And, there is much of detective work to be done, and mysteries to unravel, in the latter half of the Potter series. That they are swathed in magic seems to belay the fact that they are, at their heart, a mystery novel.

You can be sure curious readers the world over will snatch up whatever she puts out. But can she hold our attention sans Wizards and Muggles? Will the new book be kid-friendly, or geared more for adults? I guess we'll have to wait and see.

Harry Potter and the Bloody, Dismembered Corpse, anyone?

Saturday, August 18, 2007

The Brothers Tauren 2

Meh, not nearly as funny as Red Sky Foundry's first one, but humorous enough. This was posted to YouTube on November 8, 2006. Being that was almost a year ago, the chances of The Brothers Tauren 3 being made are not looking so good.

Red Sky Foundry also did a SIMS machinima (movies made from video game captures). It can be found at their woefully un-updated website. It's pretty funny, and the SIMS game seems well suited to making your own movies in it.

Wonder what a WoW SIMS game would be like? Hmmmmm ...

Friday, August 17, 2007

The Brothers Tauren

Created by Red Sky Foundry. This is one of the funniest, and most professional, WoW movies I've seen. I'll post the sequel tomorrow.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Monkeys, Butts, and Coconuts

Up Butt Coconut is now mnemonically implanted into your brain. You shall wander about all day singing these words to the querulous looks of co-workers, family members, friends, and passersby. You're welcome!

I wonder if the monkey in the belly tattoo below lost his coconut?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


No, not the rock band.

In this case AC-DC stands for Air Conditioner Does Cool.

That's right, my AC is working again! Yay!

Per the tech guy (who looked a little like Corbin Bernson) the unit was just frozen solid. No repairs were required. Freon was charged, pressure was good. He also mentioned the unit looked like the Trane equivalent of Frankenstein. (We've had numerous repairs to it over the years, especially after it got fried by lightning.)

We were charged a total of $130 for two trips out. I was a bit miffed at that, but can only blame myself because I did not see any ice in the unit and did not shut it off before his first trip out. This required a second trip after we sweltered all night with the AC off.

Still, small price to pay in light of what it could have been. Though the tech did state the unit was on its last legs, and we had better start saving for a new one. We're hoping it lasts until the lawsuit against the roofing company that screwed up and caused major water leaks is settled before this happens.

So, if you live in Tampa and need air conditioning repairs, I highly recommend Action Air. Friendly, not as prompt as I like, but they did not push us to get a new unit, and no mysterious ailment of the machine was diagnosed. It wasn't broken, they said so, and I appreciate that kind of honesty in a business.

We've found our new AC company, and when we do get a new unit, they'll be who we go through.

For anyone who thought they'd find some real AC~DC stuff here, and for those of you who read through the entire post above, and because as hot as it got last night reminded me of Hell ...

Cubicle - The Movie

Hah! It was a fart post!

Cuz, it's hot, the AC isn't going to be fixed until later today, and I ain't cranking the 'puter up 'til it is! (Or until evening when it cools down some.)

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

No AC, I See

Sorry no post earlier today, and for the rather brief one this will be.

Our Air Conditioning went out yesterday. It still runs, technically, but it was not really putting much cool air into the house. After calling a local AC repair place last night, being told they'd be here around 1pm, then not seeing them until 5pm, the prognosis is still unknown. The unit was frozen solid, according to the tech.

He will come back tomorrow (for another visit fee, of course) and diagnose the problem after the ice has thawed. I'm hoping it's something minor like a bad hose or low freon. We cannot afford costly repairs, let alone replacement. If it came down to it, we'd have no choice. Though most likely we'd purchase a few window units instead of paying 5 grand for a new unit.

The house is fairly cool now. I pulled out a few of those big box floor fans we had, cranked up the ceiling fans, and positioned everything for a nice air flow. It's warm, but not excessive. We made sure all the lights are off (amazing the amount of heat they put out, even the fluorescent ones we use in many of the lights).

The computer generates a substantial amount of heat, too. Hence my minimal use earlier today. Even now, with it being on just 10 minutes, the temp has risen noticeably in my room. It's still tolerable, for now. I'm going to play WoW a bit, see how the temp goes. I may be on a WoWless night. I'm sure the twitching and drooling will subside once I fall asleep.

Hopefully, when the tech returns sometime tomorrow, news will be good, air will; be cool, and charges will be low.

Just wish I could open a window, but most are locked down and difficult to open. Plus, we get no air flow anyhow and at least the humidity is kept at bay. I'm hoping for rain tonight. hehe

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Flash Gordon (Sci-Fi Series)

Flash Gordon Sci-Fi Original Series

Sci-Fi, wasteland of cheesy "original" programming, has unleashed a new, "hipper" version of the space opera hero, Flash Gordon.

I loved the Flash Gordon movie from 1980 with Sam Jones as Flash and the incomparable Max Von Sydow as Ming the Merciless. It was as campy as you can get, with cheesy special effects and a rocking soundtrack by Queen. I saw this in the theater when it came out. I watched this every single time it came on HBO or Showtime in the '80's. I watched the television cartoon series. I even had Flash Gordon and Ming the Merciless action figures (even if Ming's gun looked more like a hair dryer).

I had high hopes for the new Flash Gordon series when Sci-Fi's teaser commercials used the old Queen song, Flash's Theme. Then I began seeing more substantial commercials showing the actors and a little of the action. I was not impressed. Several reviews of the show I had read gave me even more pause about the new Flash.

With great trepidation I got comfortable on my couch and tuned into Sci-Fi channel's premiere of the pilot for the new Flash Gordon series. My two boys were ensconced in their favorite tv-watching spots (couch for one, floor with pillow for the other). Mom was kicked back in her recliner.

The opening sequence was a huge disappointment. Generic music alongside images of a buff, blond guy running in a marathon, actor names superimposed over the whole thing. How utterly boring. Here is this (hopefully) high energy sci-fi series of an iconic space hero, and your big opening sequence is him basically jogging?!?! My hopes were dwindling fast.

The new series diverts from the traditional and familiar, while still staying fairly true to the legacy of Flash Gordon. What irks me the most about this newest incarnation is the sheer youthfulness of most of the principle actors. I know it's a ploy to garner the younger demographic, but when Flash's Mom looks like she could be dating him instead of mothering him, I get the creepy-crawlies.

One stylistic change is no space ships travelling between Earth and Mongo. Instead we get rifts between the two worlds, operated by a handheld remote control/tracking device. (Sliders, anyone?) While this makes a certain sense in being able to allow inhabitants of either planet to instantly move back and forth between worlds without all that pesky interstellar travel time, it just doesn't seem like Flash Gordon with out cool spaceships. And, why not have some sort of spaceship with warp technology, or something? I imagine it was a budget constraint behind that choice, but I have a feeling it will bite them in the butt.

Flash's big motivation in this go-round is finding out the truth about his Father's supposed death. Turns out Flash's Dad and Dr. Hans Zarkov had been working on a rift generation program called "Portage". Instead of dying, as everyone thinks, Papa Gordon ended going through a rift to Mongo, where Ming (sans the Merciless) finds out about this powerful technology and sends robots to Earth to search for the Imex, which holds the key to the "Knowldge of the Universe".

When all is said and Done, Zarkov, Flash, and Dale Arden (now a television reporter and Flash's high school ex-sweetheart) team up to discover where Papa Gordon is. Flash and Dale accidentally end up on Mongo where we meet Ming (played more modern-tyrant than maniacal despot, and also very, very white ... you'd think they would have kept the oriental influences ... too non-pc, perhaps?) and Princess Aura. Things begin to go downhill for our heroes; torture, enforced sexual slavery, and being involved in tepid dialogue and weak action sequences, not too mention the worst fake blood I've seen in modern television.

Flash and Dale escape Mongo with the aid of a disguised Princess Aura. Hijinks ensue back on Earth, with Baylin, one of Ming's best bounty hunters, arriving to bring both Aura and the Imex back to Mongo.

The pilot episode wasn't bad, but it wasn't a Stargate or Battlestar Galactica.

I warmed up to both Eric Johnson as Flash and Gina Holden as Dale. My favorite so far is Jody Racicot as Dr. Zarkov. John Ralston plays Ming very flat and uninspired, at least so far. He's about as generic a villain as you can get. Aura is also a tad over-acted; another generic spoiled princess with something to prove to Daddy Dearest. The bounty hunter Baylin seem like she will be an interesting addition. Everyone loves the bad-girl gone good characters. And, as a really new addition, Flash's best friend on Earth is black guy named Nick. I guess this was their nod to a balanced racial cast in this blandish, politically correct casting. (Which I find odd a Hispanic character is lampooned so badly for cheap humor in this episode.)

The special effects weren't anything special. We've seen it all before, often done better. But they weren't bad.

The show held my attention, barely, and it got better as it progressed. The subtle inter-play between Flash and Dale is not overdone, but you know where it's going. Humor abounds without getting too over-the-top, excessive, or campy. Dialogue is sometimes contrived; again, we've seen it all before and better delivered.

Still, I am going to give this a few more looks. there is a wealth of as yet untapped Flash Gordon lore to delve into; the various kingdoms of Arboria, Frigia, Tropica, and the Hawkmen's flying city, as well as Prince Barin, Prince Thun, and Prince Vultan. I know Barin will be in it, based on the info on IMDb.

I'm not impressed yet, but I'm not disgusted either. I'll be trying to catch the new episodes each weekend. Time will tell.

Flash Gordon airs on Sci-Fi Fridays at 9/8C. you can visit the official Sci-Fi Flash Gordon website for more info and 30-minute peek at the first half of the pilot episode.

As a special treat for you, here is a video of Queen singing the iconic Flash Gordon theme song!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

TMNT (2007) (DVD)

Twenty-three years after debuting in a Mirage Studios comic, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are back in their fourth full-length feature film. Unlike the previous three film outings, this one is fully CGI.

Ostensibly taking place after Shredder's defeat in the second film (and very likely the third film as well, due to the appearance of the Time Scepter on the trophy wall), the Turtles must overcome their petty squabbles and familial rifts to battle a new menace in the form of an 3,000-year-old immortal warrior hunting alien monsters and stone statues of his former Generals.

A less-clueless, more pro-active April O'Neil is now living with vigilante Casey Jones, who is chafing at settling down. The Foot Clan makes an impressive appearance, led by Karai, who has taken over from the deceased Shredder. Though hints are given that Shredder may not be as dead as the Turtles think, leaving things open for a follow-up film. Leonardo is off training in South America, Michaelangelo is working as a birthday party entertainer, Donatello is an IT Support guy, and Raphael fills his days with sleep and the nights with vigilante justice as the Night Watcher!

I loved the heck out this flick in the theaters, and loved just as much on the recently released DVD.

The animation is crisp, fluid, and rife with depth of texture, shadow, and light. This is, by far, my favorite CGI movie to date, visually speaking. Very little is static; from natural, life-like eye movements, to the gentle motion of breathing, to the ninja-quick fight scenes, this film just breathes life into the millions of moving pixels. The visual style is less realistic, more anime/manga, yet you find yourself immersed in the story and able to relate to the emotions of the very expressive characters.

The music chosen for the film is fantastic. The well used theme music gets your juices flowing. A version of Black Betty by Big City Rock and Lights Out by P.O.D. pump it up during a couple of the frenzied fight scenes. There are other surprisingly good tunes utilized to great effect through-out the movie. (Soundtrack can be found all over, including at Amazon, who I hope won't sue me for linking to their audio clips. ^.^;;)

The voice acting was top notch, though a few of the tertiary characters were obviosuly voiced by the same few actors. Laurence Fishburne narrates, Sarah Michelle Geller is April O'Neil, Chris Evans voices Casey Jones, Patrick Stewart voices the Immortal Warrior, the late Mako does a phenominal job as Splinter, and you will hear several familair voices from other cartoons and video games through-out. The dialogue is never stilted, often amusing, and fits each character well.

TMNT has a strong story to tell. It is engaging, with a perfect blend of action, humor, and drama. Compared to many other films out this year, TMNT delivers on plot without all the excessive fluff and marketing bloat.

If you want a great action film, one you can safely watch with your kids, or even all by your lonesome, you can't go wrong with four ninja turtles and gi wearing rat!

The DVD has a lot of extras, mostly commentary and few partially completed scenes, including an alternate opening and ending. Some storyboard comparisons, and interviews with Patrick Stewart, Sarah Michelle Geller, Laurence Fishburne and the filmmakers round out the special features. The disc I got has both wide-screen and full-screen versions, always a plus. (I like wide-screen movies, the kids and Mom like full-screen on their smaller TVs). You really can't go wrong with this DVD ... well, okay, I dislike the DVD cover (which I couldn't find a decent pic of on the 'Net). The cover was just too cartoony and belies the fantastic CGI animation awaiting your eyes on the disc inside. (The DVD gets 4 Raivynns).

I give TMNT a solid 5 of 5 Raivynns! You've never seen the Turtles like this!

Raivynn Rating

The Legend of Zelda: The Hero of Time

I know, double update. Don't fall over in shock.

The Legend of Zelda: The Hero of Time is a slick looking trailer, isn't it? While not big-budget, summer blockbuster, special effects laden eye candy, it looks polished, clean, and interesting.

And it is a real movie being made.

Don't believe me? Go visit the Legend of Zelda Series website.

It is an in dependant film not associated with, nor endorsed by, Nintendo. It is also apparently wallowing in delay. Even so, the trailer is something tot be proud of, and it looks no worse than the typical Sci-Fi Original Movie plopped onto your television every week or two.

I'd watch it. Not sure about paying to see this version, but on TV or free download? sure, I'm there!

Pac Man: The Movie

The premise of this parody is actually quite good. Spirits, or perhaps ghostly aliens, invade after a technology labs' experiments go horribly wrong. It is up to them to stop it ... using the newly developed Particle Acceleration Capsules!

Okay, it's not really exactly what the fake movie trailer is all about, but I sorta like my premise a little better than the one they sorta show. Still, this is hilarious. The best bit is at the very, very end!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Minesweeper - The Movie

I cannot wait for this movie to come out. It looks like it could be the best video-game-to-movie conversion EVER!!!

Click HERE for a slightly better quality version at

What do you think are the best and worst video-game-to-movie translations?

The Dangerous Book for Boys

This is for all my readers out there who have boys of their own, are still are boys at heart!

I've flipped through this at my local Best Buy (of all places). I plan on getting each of my nephews a copy of this for Christmas. It's four months away, but at least it's one present out of the way! There is a lot of cool stuff inside, as you see from the video above.

Just think how you Dad's out there could have fun and connect with your sons using the things in this book! I'll see if I can connect a bit better with my nephews. Moms can do things with their sons, too!

The Dangerous Book for Boys

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

My Top 5 Favorite Super-Heroes

In response to a couple super-hero related posts made in the last week or so, Jason (Steel) from the Man of Steel blog asked me who my favorite super-heroes are. So, here are my Top 5 Favorite Super-heroes ... and Why!

#1 - Spider-Man

I loved reading Spider-Man comics growing up. The adventures were exciting, the villains were nefarious, and the message of "With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility" spoke to me even at that young age. (I read Spidey comics from the late '70s up until even now ...)

From Spidey's comics I learned that even though some choices are tough, and the easy way is often the wrong way, you still need to do what is right. And you need to do that even when no one is watching, or knows who is doing it. I learned to stand up for myself, and to stand up for those who cannot, even if it means discomfort, being scared, or even risking what others may think of me. It directly influenced me to help teach a Sunday School class for retarded citizens when I was 14 to 16. I wanted to help others who needed it, who couldn't help themselves, despite the teasing and taunts from my so-called peers in church.

I couldn't crawl walls, or sling webs, or punch out bad guys, but I could make the special citizens laugh with my puppets, help them color an Easter picture, patiently listen and try to understand their limited speech and desires, or calmly shrug off a violent outburst now and again.

Of course, my parents, my teachers, and my church all helped teach me these things. But kids don't like to listen to those in authority, or heed their advice ... but a comic book, something on my level ... now that I could emulate. I'd like to think in my recent life, when my sister was murdered and my mother became needful of in-house care, that those lessons were what allowed to unhesitatingly leave my high-paying job and move in to care for my mom and my nephews. Spidey would have ... except he maybe would have socked a villain in the jaw as he did.

Of course, some people would say that what I probably learned most from Spider-Man was how to be a smart-ass with the funny lines! ~.^

#2 - Hulk

Counter-point to Spider-Man was the Hulk. The beast-within mythos appealed to my young psyche. I have always felt a deep, burning rage inside me. A dark anger I dare not let loose. I didn't know its cause. I didn't know its reason. I only knew that were I to let slip the beast within me, I'd never be able to go back.

Bruce Banner exemplified these internal struggles, but he would unleash his inner monster. Destruction, confusion, and chaos reigned as the Hulk rampaged. Only the love of Betty Ross, the friendship of Rick Jones, and the compassion of others he has met along his conflicted journeys would reign in the raging monster. I vicariously romped about with the Hulk, my inner beast satiating itself on these excursions. Yet, I also learned that no matter what I became in life, no matter if I let my inner beast loose, there were people who would still love me, still care about me, still help me.

In my late teens I learned these feelings I was experiencing were from a severe chemical imbalance compounded by bi-polarism. And true to the tales in the pages of the Hulk comics, my family, my good friends, and God stuck by me, supported me, and loved me, even when I was at my worst.

#3 - Batman

Batman is just plain cool. He has no super powers. He's not invulnerable. He can't fly. He's not super strong. But he is smart, he is dedicated, he is passionate. It helps that he is also filthy, stinking rich.

I always liked that even without any super powers, Batman went out and fought crime. Tried to make a difference, to protect others. The gadgets were always cool, of course, but it was his sharp mind, his reasoning skills, his sheer intellect that truly drew me to his comics.

As with Spider-Man and Hulk, I learned something from Batman growing up. I learned to use my mind, to think. To look at things from different angles, from different perspectives. To utilize available resources to accomplish my goals. And I learned to never give up. When the chips were down, when all seems lost, there is always an option.

#4 - Kitty Pryde

Shadowcat, Ariel, Sprite ... Kitty Pryde has used a number of codenames through the years, but most people know her as plain Kitty Pryde. A member of the X-Men since 1980, she quickly became my most favorite member of the team. Her phasing ability was cool, she was smart, she was pretty, and she had a little purple dragon as a pet!

Kitty was never the most powerful of the X-Men, but she held her own. She was the heart and soul of the team. A kid-sister to many members, a friend to others, a lover to one or two. She grew from an awkward, shy, insecure waif into a confidant, intelligent, courageous leader. She was fun-loving, compassionate, and honest.

From Kitty I learned that it was okay to try new things, to grow and to change, that friendships are precious, and that you could still be a leader and have fun.

#5 - Plastic Man

Plas may seem an odd choice to be a favorite super-hero, but there he is. He's been around since 1941; a long time for any super-hero. He's undergone several revisions since DC got rights to him in 1956. Plastic Man is a fan favorite of many, has been in several incarnations of the Justice League, had his own Saturday morning cartoon, and the occasional self-titled comics.

He can stretch to seemingly indefinite lengths, into any shape, any size; even intricate constructs with moving parts. However he almost always stays his colors of red, yellow, black, and flesh colors. Plas is nigh indestructible, and possibly immortal. He may be one of the most powerful super-heroes ever.

Plastic Man used to be criminal until he was wounded and gained his powers in an acid bath. He is always cracking wise; sometimes with inappropriate comments. (Something i can relate too! ^.^;;)

I can't say I "learned" anything from Plas while growing up; I just liked him for his jokes, funny shapes, and interesting character. I suppose one could say, however, that even a bad person deserves a chance to become a good person. And, no matter how much you change, you'll always be who you are.

There you have it. My Top 5 Favorite Super-Heroes. Hulk and Spidey were hard to place, but Hulk was barely edged out as I though of this list. If I were to do a Top 10, the remaining 5 heroes would be (in no particular order): Iceman, Iron Man, Ghost Rider, Daredevil, and Sue Storm, the Invisible Woman. My favorite comic to read currently, and a super-hero making a bid to join the Top 10 ranks, would be She-Hulk!

Who are YOUR favorites, and why?

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

The Bourne Ultimatum PosterBourne is back, and he is better than ever!

A reporter unearths secrets about Jason Bourne and a black ops program codenamed Blackbriar, setting in motion events that propel the amnesiac assassin around the world. Bourne races against the enigmatic Treadstone Seventy-One to uncover the truth behind his existence.

From Moscow, to Paris, to London, to Madrid, to Tangier, and coming home to New York, Bourne battles other assassin "assets", evades local police forces, has a spectacular foot chase through the streets of Tangier, a tense game of cat-and-mouse in the crowded London Waterloo station, and several death-defying car chases and crashes.

The story is tight, and the plot never gets lost or muddled through the twists, turns, and location changes. The acting is well done, never flat, never too over the top. I loved Albert Finney as the mastermind behind Bourne's creation. Matt Damon continues his stellar portrayal of the titular assassin, even teaching us that a good book is useful for more than just reading!

The action sequences are frenetic, and filmed in that nausea inducing choppy camera style so prevalent today. I much prefer the clean action style of the prior released Live Free or Die Hard compared to the jerky, blurred, WTF-just-happened style used in Ultimatum. It is often hard to tell exactly what was going on, which in ways amplifies the violence as well as masking it.

I suppose this frantic, spinning camera-work simulates the uncertainty of a violent situation, as if it were real. The few times I've been in a fight, or a car wreck, my memories of it are certainly more jumbled than crisp and clear. It also helps keep the violence level down to achieve the PG-13 rating by making it appear more is happening, confusing viewers with sudden jerks and blurry action.

I don't recall any cursing in the movie, and if it was present, it was minor and fit well within the context of its use. A refreshing change from the expletive filled, PG-13 summer block-busters released thus far this year.

As you hear in the trailers for this film, Jason Bourne finally remembers everything about his past. He rushes to confront the people behind it, learning more than he cares to about what really happened. The ending will leave you cheering.

If you liked the first two Bourne films, you will love this one. Action, suspense, intrigue, and a captivating story will leave you breathless and wanting more.

I give The Bourne Ultimatum a reluctant 5 of 5 Raivynns! If the camera work on the action sequences were cleaner, clearer, this would have been an no-brainer five. I like to see my action, not be befuddled and nauseated by it.

Raivynn Rating

Monday, August 6, 2007

Bourne to be Wild

Okay, we've all heard the various play on words regarding the Bourne series. I couldn't resist.

I plan to see The Bourne Ultimatum later this afternoon, with a review to follow soon after. I wanted to see The Bourne Identity and The Bourne Supremacy again before seeing Ultimatum, but that was not to be. *sigh*

I am reading Robert Ludlum's original novel, The Bourne Identity. It differs greatly from the 2002 movie of the same name based upon the novel. Considering the novel is set in 1980 (the current year when it was published), much of it is dated and technology is much more advanced 20-odd years later. The movie had to alter quite a bit to stay current and relevant. Cell phones alone change the tone of the story in so many ways.

Anyhow, just to get your juices pumping for the movie, here is the trailer for The Bourne Ultimatum ...

Oh, wait! That was the Kimmel Show's trailer. Sorry!

Here's the correct one ...

Wonder who would win in a fight between Jason Bourne and James Bond?

I think, Bond fan that I am, I still would have to give the edge to Bourne. He is just more ruthless, more cold than Bond. Plus, while Bond was spitting out a pithy one-liner, Bourne would shoot him in the kneecap. (Though the "new" Bond, played by Daniel Craig in Casino Royale is more Bourne-like than Bond-like, so he would at least make it a good fight, if not a draw).

Then again, Bond could use a gadget to defeat Bourne. Sneak up on him in a crocodile submarine, laser his belt in two with his wristwatch, then knock him out with a pseudo-judo karate chop to the neck as he bends over to pull his pants up.

Still ... Chuck Norris could kick both their asses with one leg tied behind his back, blindfolded, and set ablaze with kerosene and a flamethrower!

Or so the Interent would have us believe. ~.^

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Jurassic Park - Weird Al

I believe there is more "blood" in the claymation video than was actually seen in the actual movie. ^.^

This is one of my favorite songs from the Alapalooza album.

Don't forget to vote in the poll to the right. I'd hate to send rabid pants weasels after you if you didn't.

Ode to a Superhero - Weird Al

One of Al's lesser known parodies, "Ode to a Superhero", based on Billy Joel's "Piano Man", has been very nicely cut to scenes from Spider-Man 1 and 2.

I've always loved how Al tells a movie's plot through a song parody. I'll be posting a few more this weekend.


(Don't forget to vote in the Poll to the right, if you haven't already!)

Friday, August 3, 2007

I Can Still Read Your Mind

Cable was out most of the day, so here is another mathematically inclined mind trick for you. Grab pencil and paper, or a calculator ... ready?

  1. Pick a number between 1 and 9

  2. Subtract 5

  3. Multiply by 3

  4. Square the number (multiply the number by itself)

  5. Add the digits of that number together, for example, if your number is 83, you would add 8 and 3 and get 11.

  6. If the resulting number is less than 5, add five, otherwise subtract 4

  7. Multiply by 2

  8. Subtract 6

  9. Assign a letter to your number. A=1, B=2, C=3, D=4, E=5, etc

  10. Pick a country that begins with your letter

  11. Pick an animal that begins with the second letter from your country

  12. Think of the traditional color of that animal ...

While the Order of the Elephant is the highest honor of Denmark, you won't find many real grey elephants there (outside of zoos, that is).

Now, you may have really thought outside the box and come with a brown emu, or maybe even elk. If you were really slippery, you might have come up with a black eel. But, I'm fairly sure you wound up with Denmark ... though Deutschland (Germany) is a possibility.

No, you thought of a grey elephant in Denmark. ~.^

Thursday, August 2, 2007

I Can Read Your Mind

Well, OK, I can't, but this video can!

Oooooooo ... scary!

Try it with any number, even a big one. Go ahead, we'll wait while you get a calculator.

Now go try this on your friends!

If you haven't, please vote in the poll! ==========>