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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Lost Hits of the New Wave #24


"Antmusic" by Adam and the Ants



In my review, at Biff Bam Pop this week, of Adam Ant's new album Adam Ant Is the Blueblack Hussar in Marrying The Gunner’s Daughter, I talk a bit about my first impressions of Adam and the Ants. You can check it out here.

I remember playing both the Kings of the Wild Frontier and Prince Charming albums constantly and obsessively. I loved them. As I had mentioned before with The Police, I also got to see the music as well on "Rockworld." It was the beginning of a life long love affair.

No matter how you slice it, Adam Ant is a true superstar of the New Wave, whether he agrees to the label or not. His career has spanned from the mid-1970s to today with this fabulous new album.

"Dog Eat Dog" by Adam and the Ants



Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Following: Chapter Two


Okay, the hype is over, for the moment at least, and now "The Following" has to sink or swim as a series as opposed to an event. I had expressed in my review of the pilot that I didn't think it had the legs to be a series. I guess this is where we find out. It has the bad potential to become a freak of the week show like early "Smallville" or "X-Files," and I hope that's not where we're headed.

In the pilot, or rather the setup, multi-flawed FBI agent Hardy (Kevin Bacon) is pulled out of retirement to deal with the escaped serial killer Carroll (James Purefoy) that he had put away. He's recaptured, but it turns out he's built a cult of serial killers through social media, and they'll do whatever he wants. This cult has kidnapped Carroll's son to lure Hardy into a game of cat and mouse with the baddies.

Again written by creator Kevin Williamson, the subtext is very literate, and I am enjoying the writing theme and the Poe obsession. But I'm a writer. I wonder if other folks are digging this particular vibe or not. It works this way - Carroll was a writer, his crimes made Hardy a writer, and now this whole crazy game is built on the idea of a new book - one written by the followers in which Hardy and Carroll are the protagonist and antagonist.

Bacon and Purefoy continue to dominate the small screen whenever they are on it. Waste of an amazing cast, as I said last time. I just wish that the two of them would give us something edgier than the Clarice/Hannibal and/or Batman/Joker dynamic. I want more Shawn Ashmore, Billy Brown, and especially Li Jun Li.

Much of the episode is taken up by the good guys playing catch up to Carroll's cultish followers and their shenanigans. I smell the stink of "Alcatraz," "Revolution," and "Flash Forward" on this one, as if we're being played with like a fish on a hook. All we want is the confrontation(s) between Bacon and Purefoy, and the boy found, but you know we'll only get dribs and drabs, while each episode has its own little underling serial killer story. Just give us what we want.

I honestly don't know if I'll be around next time. I think I can see the future, and I'm not sure it has enough fuel to entice me further. We'll see.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Arrow: Trust But Verify


I have to say, I am starting to like the episode titles with dual meanings. They never quite mean what we think they mean, and revelation doesn't come until the very end. Nice.

Weird. This is the first episode where Oliver and Tommy actually act like they are, or once were, best friends. It was nice. I guess the employer/employee dynamic suits them.

The plot of the week has armored truck robbers using tactics from the Afghan War. Turns out the guy behind it is not only Diggle's old mentor, but he's also on 'the list.' Diggle didn't know that last part. I was surprised. I thought Oliver trusted Diggle. It's been quite a while now - you mean in all that time Diggle's never seen 'the list'? I find that implausible.

Nice shout out for the Arrowcave, and also an interesting name for the baddies' security firm - Blackhawk. The Arrowcave is a call back to the Golden Age and Silver Age of comics where Green Arrow was simply a Robin Hood knock-off of Batman, essentially Batman with a bow. He was a millionaire with a ward sidekick, he had the Arrowplane (which doubled as the Arrowcar), and of course, his headquarters was the Arrowcave - honestly not much different from his current basement below the nightclub.

The Blackhawks were an international team of pilots during World War II who fought against the Axis under the command of the man called Blackhawk. Later they became soldiers of fortune, adventurers, superheroes, and mercenaries. I love the Blackhawks, you can read more about that, and them here. However, on "Arrow," the Blackhawks are just armored truck robbers. Sigh. These are bad days for the name Blackhawk.

Speaking of DC Comics characters, it's always nice to see Emily Bett Rickards as Felicity Smoak, and sad to see she's become a nerd girl with glasses and a crush on our hero. What a waste. So much potential, so little effort.

I'm starting to zone out on the soap opera aspects of the show. I don't care about Thea worrying Mom is having an affair, or if Tommy makes up with Daddy Merlyn. This kind of crap is why I stayed away from "Smallville" for so long. I don't know about you folks, but I watch superhero shows for the superheroes, not the soap.

The episode ends in disappointment, and a tempting cliffhanger. Where last time Oliver needed to do something and was robbed if his chance, this time it's Diggle's turn. Two weeks in a row of this and I'm about to throw in the towel. The cliffhanger keeps me though. Not only is Yao Fei not who we thought he was, but there's a drug in The Glades called Vertigo... could it be...? Finally Count Vertigo?

Monday, January 28, 2013

Superman Vs. The Elite


Superman Vs. The Elite ~ In the spirit of full disclosure, I need to say I did not like the Joe Kelly and Doug Mahnke story this is based on, "What's So Funny About Truth, Justice, and the American Way" from Action Comics #775, but then I didn't think much of that run, nor of the characters Manchester Black and The Elite either. Sorry, when it comes to Superman, I'm pretty much a traditionalist, although the story did raise a few salient points. I remain unconvinced.

I definitely dug the punk rock pop culture Warhol-ization of the Filmation cartoons from the 1960s mashed up with Curt Swan art of the 1970s for the opening credits sequence. A nice touch. I loved the cartoon at the beginning, the interaction between Lois and Clark, and loved the battle between Superman and the Atomic Skull too, someone really wants me to like this movie. The animation style is a bit odd in places however, Lois most notably stands out as small and sometimes cross-eyed in a bad anime way. That and Superman's ridiculously huge chin, I mean, he's not the Tick, ya know?

The gist of the story is Superman is old-fashioned and passé in our world. Why simply capture and imprison a murderous destructive criminal like the Atomic Skull when Superman could so easily rid the world of him. We need a proactive hero, not a reactive hero. Manchester Black and The Elite exploit this when they stop escalating war in Bialya while Superman watches and acts futilely.

Later, after a team-up between our 'heroes,' the Elite declare war on the baddies, promising punishment and zero tolerance. Superman is starting to look bad, and in his investigation of his competitors, they are not looking great either, he just can't prove it. At this point, Lois begins to get annoying. She is less the Margo Lane equal partner and more the Doiby Dickles comic relief. Not cool for this Lois fan.

Speaking of comic relief, I liked the Rush Limbaugh clone doing a Aaron Sorkin style soapbox rant as Superman races to stop the Elite from killing more soldiers in the Bialyan conflict. Superman gets his butt handed to him, when saved by the Elite, and given medical attention at their headquarters, there is even more Sorkin preachiness. On the other hand, I like the preaching provided by Pa Kent. Like Lois should be, his parents are Superman's rock.

A second battle with the Atomic Skull, this time against both Superman and The Elite, completely turns the tide toward Black against the man of steel. As The Bride would be wont to say, "Is it time for the good guys to win yet?" I liked the movie less and less the more I watched. This was just too much morality play in my comic books for me.

Sally Starr RIP




Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Initiation of Sarah 2006


The Initiation of Sarah ~ The original came at the tail end of the great ABC telemovies of the 1970s. In it, Kay Lenz, who I always mixed up with Susan Dey, plays the Carrie part in this Carrie rip-off. Morgan Fairchild is chief tormentor and Shelley Winters the witchy housemother mentor. There were a few of these Carrie wannabes in the 1970s, The Spell with Susan Meyers from "James at 15" was another, that aped the mousy scapegoat girl, who also happens to have telekinetic powers, flipping out in her tormentors. Sarah took place at a college sorority as opposed to high school.

The 2006 version is a re-imagining of the 1978 movie of the week done for, believe it or not, the ABC Family Channel. Well, at least they're keeping it in the 'family.' Yeah, I know, sorry. Here, Morgan Fairchild returns as the snooty mom of two girls about to enter college, and join her old exclusive sorority. Lindsay, played by a post-"Firefly" Summer Glau and mousey cutter Sarah played by Mika Boorem of Blue Crush, are, as one would expect, polar opposites.

It is essentially the same story, with a decidedly non-fun Jennifer Tilly in the Shelley Winters role, but it has become unnecessarily complicated, almost as if someone was watching nothing but "Buffy" and old soap operas for a couple weeks straight. The warring sororities are the guardians of good and evil, people pretend to be other people to sleep with them, and it gets worse from there.

I wanted to like this one, I really did. It could have been the good old campy fun the original was but just took itself too seriously, and too much ABC Family as well, adding a crapload of teenage melodrama to the mix. Avoid and look for the original.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

This Week's All Things Fun! New Comics Vidcast


The All Things Fun! New Comics Vidcast features co-hosts Allison (Deadpool) Eckel, and Glenn (Red Lantern) Walker, as they discuss the new comics out this week! You can see the show here, come see it happen live at All Things Fun! in West Berlin NJ on Wednesday afternoons, or check it out below.

Discussion featured in this week's Special No Trades Episode includes: Young Avengers #1, Uncanny X-Force #1, Wolverine and the X-Men #24, Avengers #3, FF #3, A+X #4, Deadpool #4, Masks #3, Star Trek Countdown Into Darkness #1, Batman: Death of the Family, Justice League #16, Superman: H'El on Earth, Green Lantern: Rise of the Third Army, Volthoom!, Allison's Amethyst update, ski-jacket Orion, Doctor Who toys and goodies, and what happened to the trades this week?



Be sure to check out the All Things Fun! website, and the newly revamped All Things Fun! Blogs, written by Allison and Glenn, featuring The Vidcast Drinking Game so you can play along at home, and watch ATF! on YouTube (don't forget to subscribe to the channel while you're there, and leave a comment or two on the Vidcast as well!).

And be back here every Wednesday to watch the new broadcast, and thereafter throughout the week!

The All Things Fun! New Comics Vidcast is shot live every week at All Things Fun! - the South Jersey/Philadelphia area's best comics, toys and gaming store - every Wednesday afternoon, located on Route 73 in West Berlin, NJ. Come on down and see the show live!

Don't forget to visit us at Facebook!

The South Jersey Writers Read on Video




From the Courier-Post online, here are excerpts from the South Jersey Writers' anthology, Tall Tales and Short Stories.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Following


I was wary of this one. Usually when Fox gives a lot of hype to a new TV series, it's either a big hit, or a big disaster. Excuse me while I wash the taste of "Touch" and "Alcatraz" out of my mouth. But then again, there was also "24." Fox has been pushing "The Following" very hard, but because I like Kevin Bacon (well, bacon in general), and I'm just sheeple like that, I gave it a shot.

Bacon is former FBI agent Ryan Hardy, reactivated because a violent serial killer he put away has escaped prison. The charismatic James Purefoy is the killer Joe Carroll. Purefoy is a favorite of mine. You might know him from HBO's "Rome," and you should also know him from the excellent John Carter and the even lesser known Solomon Kane. The dude is awesome.

The catch here in "The Following" is that all the time Carroll has been in prison, he's been online building a very particular social network. They're not just followers, mind you, they're also copycats and wannabes. Yeah, a serial killer social network, hanging on his every word.

Now the star power is not all in front of the camera, there's some behind it as well. The pilot is written by creator and showrunner Kevin Williamson. You probably know his work, new spins in the worlds of horror and drama like Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer, "Dawson's Creek" and "The Vampire Diaries." However, like Fox, he's had his share of dogs as well. Anyone remember "Hidden Palms"?

Also in the cast, but too far in the background for my tastes, are Shawn Ashmore and Billy Brown, both terrific actors. I also like relative newcomer Li Jun Li. It's a great cast, but vastly overshadowed and overwhelmed by Bacon and Purefoy, not that there's anything wrong with that.

What is wrong however is a little thing and a big thing. The little thing is Williamson needs to brush up on his knowledge of pacemakers. The big thing is this premise is more miniseries than series. Viewers will only be able to take so much of this, before they start asking, "Is it time for the good guys to win yet?" The monotony can only be saved by new twists, and I wonder if Kevin Williamson has enough of them.

For another opinion on "The Following," check out Amanda Reynolds' terrific review at Biff Bam Pop! here.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The New American Idol


There's a whole new game going on at Fox's "American Idol" this season, specifically in the way of three new judges. Randy Jackson stays on as the only remaining original judge, but he is joined by country singer Keith Urban, hip hop media superstar Nicki Minaj, and the legendary Mariah Carey. The problem is, as I and others have talked about here and there, indications are that the newbies get along like gasoline and fire.

"American Idol" premiered with its twelfth season last week with two two-hour episodes featuring contestant auditions. Audition week is the best part of the show, it's also the most watched and talked about, mostly because its s freak show. Not as much as it used to be sadly. Like hockey and lacrosse have been neutered by having the fighting taken away, we now have less freaks on "Idol." I suspect the ratings have suffered as well.

But of course that's not the freak show most of America has tuned in for this season.

Before the premiere, the powers that be have been wisely playing up the Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey feud. Controversy breeds popularity. We all knew Nicki was crazy, I mean it's a fact. Bitch cra-zay. But I think we, America as a whole, had forgotten the lunacy level of Mariah because that is a whole different planet of crazy. I think when we get to the live shows, Fox should just douse them both in gasoline as a preemptive strike because this is going to be bad, very bad.

The funny part is that Mariah comes off as a real bitch, to my mind at least. She acts superior and too good for the show more often than not. Nicki is actually pretty entertaining in a crazy way. In the four hours I watched last week, she won me over. I was disappointed to see Steven Tyler go, even more so to see Simon Cowell go a few seasons before, but I am digging Nicki, and I wasn't that big a fan before this. I love it when she does the fake British accent and Mariah winces. And hey, Nicki namedropped Kate Bush on prime time American network television, so I'm on her side.

Keith Urban is interesting. I was surprised to find out he was a New Zealander. I don't really think he adds all that much however. The poor guy has to sit between Mariah and Nicki, and quite honestly, as far as his judging skills go, he's the male equivalent of Paula Abdul. I keep waiting for him to say "Nice shirt." to a contestant.

I also feel bad for Randy holding this all together. I wonder if he might snap before Nicki and Mariah kill each other. I have noticed that he seems to have turned his filter off. If somebody is awful, he tells them right away a la Simon Cowell.

Well, I've been here with "American Idol" for eleven seasons, and I think, because of Nicki Minaj, believe it or not, I will hang on a bit for season twelve. Let's see what happens.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Arrow: Burned


"Arrow" is back after several weeks of holiday hiatus and we find that Oliver has given up his double identity since his defeat at the hands of the Dark Archer, as played by John Barrowman, six weeks prior. Well, perhaps not given up, but his confidence has certainly been affected as has his performance. Oliver has put his stepfather's kidnapping ahead of acting out as Arrow. In other words, he's making excuses. We do get a good dose of Stephen Amell's bare chest in the opening sequence to make up for it however.

Island flashbacks return as well. More whiny poor list coward Oliver, more Yao Fei, more Deathstroke, and as usual some answers and more questions. Show of hands here, who'd like to see a whole episode on island? I would. Nothing could be wrong with more Deathstroke.

Meanwhile, in the case of the week, Laurel's best friend and co-worker Jo believes her firefighter brother was murdered by an arsonist, so she calls The Hood for help.

Our villain this week is the Firefly. In the comics the Firefly, alias Garfield Lynns, is a high tech Batman villain who dates back to the 1950s. Here he's a low tech realistic arsonist with a firefighter outfit, a tattoo, and a kerosene squirt gun. Kinda takes all the fun out of it, especially when you have guys like Deathstroke around in costume. And sadly, this version visually is more Two-Face than Firefly.

Starling City must be some sort of inside joke for the producers. In this episode there was no recognizable part of the Philly skyline used in the night time shots. Are they using different city skylines for day and night?

For the comics fans we got a nice shout out to Stagg Chemical. For the uninitiated, Simon Stagg was the billionaire arch-nemesis of Metamorpho, who could transform his body into any element or chemical substance.

The end was a bit disappointing however. After an entire episode of Oliver doubting himself, feeling sorry for himself, basically being a whiney little b- well, you get the picture. When the time comes to be the hero, fight the bad guy, he does nothing. Firefly takes himself out. Pointless.

Friday, January 18, 2013

The Barrens


The Barrens ~ There has never been a decent movie made about the Jersey Devil. There have been more than a few duds, usually made by folks who either don't live here or don't know anything about the legend. Research is so important. I'm convinced that until a film is made of "The Pines" by Robert Dunbar (and done right), there probably won't ever be a good movie on our local legend ever made.

The real Pine Barrens
Case in point - Anchor Bay's The Barrens, written and directed by Darren Lynn Bousman, a Kansas native, and a veteran of three Saw movies, and Repo! The Genetic Opera. I could just stop there, I suppose, but I'll also add that he chose to film this horror flick, set in the South Jersey Pine Barrens, in Toronto. Yes, Toronto. To his credit, he wanted to film on location, but Toronto was cheaper. The Pine Barrens is an area that looks nothing like any other place on earth, for those not from here. The trees are stunted, not tall. So much for authenticity.

Also known as The Forest, and The Jersey Devil, the film has Stephen Moyer, vampire Bill Compton from HBO's "True Blood," as a British dad in the States who forces his family - second wife Mia Kirshner, teenage daughter, and young son, none of whom want to go - on a camping trip into the Pine Barrens like he used to do with his dad when he was a kid.

Where am I supposed to be from again?
I spent a lot of time trying to figure what vampire Bill's accent was supposed to be. It should have been British, but was it Australian? But he's not Australian, is he? It was very distracting. I know that Moyer can do an American accent. So why confuse the audience?

The saddest part of the film, for folks like me, is that this Kansas clown can't even get the legend of the Jersey Devil right. It's a very simple story, but he's got witches, evil spirits and Indian legends mixed in there. And since when does JD butcher deer? It's not even the right kind of deer. A little research please?

Anyway, apparently Bill is a bit troubled, more than a little disturbed actually, traumatized by something that happened in the Barrens years ago when he was a kid, or a dog bite. By guess who, yeah, duh. I saw it miles away too. Even his family thinks he's nuts, they're just trying to be really calm about it - you know, the way you tiptoe around a crazy person. All in all, it's the predictability of the story that is most disappointing.

The last half-hour of the movie is seemingly endless. And for the most part, pointless. I couldn't wait for this to be over with. Again I suppose we will have to wait for Robert Dunbar's "The Pines" to be made into a film for a good movie on the Jersey Devil. This isn't it, The Barrens is just a sad excuse for a horror flick. Skip it.

For the record, I think there are more bears in New Jersey than there are mountain lions, Native Americans, or Jersey Devils. And Oswego is not a trail, or a river - it's a lake. Research, people, research!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

RA-One


RA-One ~ This film has a lot in common with the recently reviewed Enthiran - The Robot. And while it follows Enthiran, and exists within the same continuity, it is not a sequel. Much the way the solo Avengers films led into the main Avengers movie, Chitti the Robot makes a cameo here. Being a comic book fan, I'm a sucker for universe building, and that's exactly what Tamil science fiction is doing - creating a cinematic superhero universe.

The story here is nothing new really, derivative, but still original enough, and made magical by CGI and various other animation techniques. A videogame designer creates the ultimate super-villain, RA-One, for a virtual reality videogame where the player becomes the hero G-One to fight him. Like Enthiran, there are dazzling and mindboggling special effects, but at its core is a touching father and son story, that of the designer and his son.



Things go awry when RA-One gains sentience, and the designer must become G-One to stop him from destroying the real world. The battle sequences between G-One and RA-One are phenomenal. It is just amazing to me how other cultures seem to know better how to use American superhero concepts cinematically than most American filmmakers.

Like most Bollywood films, this has everything - action, comedy, romance, a couple if very scary moments, and of course terrific musical sequences. I really liked this film a lot, great videogame and comic book sensibilities, and like Enthiran, I bought the soundtrack as soon as I was done watching it the first time. Great fun.



Wednesday, January 16, 2013

This Week's All Things Fun! New Comics Vidcast


The All Things Fun! New Comics Vidcast features co-hosts Ame-Comi Allison Eckel, and Savage Glenn Walker, as they discuss the new comics out this week! You can see the show here, or check it out below.

Discussion featured in this week's Comics Shop Live Episode includes: The New Format, Threshold #1, letting Allison read, Batman: Death of the Family, finales for Frankenstein and Legion Lost, Superboy #16, Demon Knights #16, Ame-Comi Girls #4 (of 5), Saga #9, Bionics away, stiff Magic, Grimm Fairy Tales Animated Series one-shot, New Avengers #2, Kelly Sue comics, hark it's Tony Stark in the park, Indestructible Hulk #3, Avenging Spider-Man #16, Frank Cho's Savage Wolverine #1, All-New X-Men #6 (yes, it's true, Glenn likes a Bendis comic, and it's X-Men), trades and toys, and Yoda in 3D.



Be sure to check out the All Things Fun! website, and the newly revamped All Things Fun! Blogs, written by Allison and Glenn, featuring The Vidcast Drinking Game so you can play along at home, and watch ATF! on YouTube (don't forget to subscribe to the channel while you're there, and leave a comment or two on the Vidcast as well!).

And be back here every Wednesday to watch the new broadcast, and thereafter throughout the week!

The All Things Fun! New Comics Vidcast is shot live every week at All Things Fun! - the South Jersey/Philadelphia area's best comics, toys and gaming store - every Wednesday afternoon, located on Route 73 in West Berlin, NJ. Come on down and see the show live!

Don't forget to visit us at Facebook!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Enthiran - The Robot


Enthiran - The Robot ~ This is a film whose reputation precedes it. Called the Avatar of its country, reputedly this is the most expensive film made to date in India, and also its highest grossing film. Not strictly a Bollywood film, but more accurately a 'Kollywood' film as it was made in Tamil Nadu, it is s work of science fiction, but as with all Indian films, it is truly a creature of mixed genre.

Also known as Robot, and Robo, and Enthiran, and a dozen other titles and spelling variations worldwide, this is roughly a Frankenstein story - a scientist makes a man in his own image, scarily Elvis-like, which tries to be human but eventually is looked upon as monster. The Robot, Chitti, is played by award winning veteran Indian actor Rajinikanth, who also plays his creator. His deadpan performance as the Robot is both fearsome and hilarious.

Written and directed by Shankar Shanmugam, or simply Shankar, the film has changed the way the world views Indian science fiction. And as the film is called the Avatar of India, similarly Shankar is called its James Cameron. No doubt he is one of their greatest visionaries.

The music is by A.R. Rahman, who also did the music for Slumdog Millionaire, Couples Retreat, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, and dozens of Indian movies, among others - but this soundtrack was a worldwide instant blockbuster. That's the popularity power of this flick.



The real star here is the special effects. CGI and animatronics from a company called Legacy Effects, the brain child of special effects wizard Stan Winston. From the robotics that make up our hero to the evil robot rampage to the outrageous cartoonish but reality based feats later in the film, as the evil robot fights everyone, and of course, the climax, the effects are king. More cars and guns than you have perhaps ever seen on the screen. Mind boggling. Matrix and Terminator, step aside.



This movie has everything. Adventure, romance, comedy, musical sequences, violence - both cartoonish and realistic (lots of gunplay and a very scary and racially offensive attempted rape scene, so it's not for the kids), it's all here. In many ways it's a superhero movie sans costumes. This three hour long Tamil science fiction masterpiece, like Avatar, must be experienced at least once. Recommended.

Friday, January 11, 2013

David Bowie - "Where Are We Now?"


Earlier this week, on David Bowie's birthday, he released the first single and music video from his new album. We all thought he had retired, so yes, it was quite a shock, and a delight.

David Bowie is a rock god. That is completely undisputed. I also love him. He is one of my favorite artists. I was thrilled to hear this news and downloaded the song, unheard, immediately when I found out about it. Take my money, iTunes, I don't even have to hear it. That's how I feel about Bowie.

Here's the music video for "Where Are We Now?"



Wow. What is most stunning about the video is that after over forty years in the music video business (that's right, kids, Bowie's been doing it longer than MTV has), he can still amaze, and mesmerize, and innovate. The video accompanies a song that is slow and drifting at first but builds at the end, almost like the work of Kate Bush. The more I listen to it, the more I like it.

I can't wait for the new album. David Bowie's The Next Day is scheduled for a March 12, 2013 release.

DJ K-Tell Presents - Get the Hook!


Join DJ K-Tell, with random performances from The Dumpsta Players, this coming Wednesday for "GET THE HOOK!"

During the 1930s Vaudeville era, "Get the hook!" was a cry from the audience to get a bad performer off the stage. Someone in the wings would get a hooked pole and hook the performer away.

Start 2013 as The Dumpstas celebrate the losers who fail to deliver a performance loved by all!

Show us your individuality and take home a PRIZE!!!

Dress as History's famous losers! Tonya Harding, Walter Mondale, Clay Aiken, Mimi Imfurst, Susan Lucci, and the Oscar loser, "The Color Purple"!

The Date: January 16, 2013
The Time: 9:00 PM EST
The Place: Bob and Barbara's, 1509 South Street, Philadelphia PA

Let's get crazzzzy - it's January ;-)

Check out The Dumpsta Players on Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, and on their own website.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The New Monopoly


You've all probably heard the news this week, Monopoly, the popular property trading game from Hasbro (or currently from Hasbro, previously from Parker Brothers, or Waddington's in the UK), is getting a new playing piece, and letting their fans decide which new piece will be replacing which old piece. It's great marketing and promotion, of course.

Monopoly is an American tradition, king of the board games, and has been around since the turn of the last century. Initially a parlor game to explain taxes to those not smart enough to understand, it first saw widespread popularity as The Landlord's Game in 1923, and finally as Monopoly in 1934. Like Scrabble, I think every household has at least one Monopoly game. At my house we didn't have any board games, and even we had Monopoly. Today, many versions of the game, based on colleges, localities other than the traditional Atlantic City, even movies and other popular genres. Monopoly is a videogame, and a sticker game at McDonald's. Currently in my household we have a Doctor Who version and a Justice League version.

I can remember back in the 1970s when the summers were so hot no one wanted to go outside, we would have marathon games of Monopoly that would last for hours, sometimes days. We'd bend the rules, and I'm not just talking about the dubious Free Parking rule - we'd use two banks, no limits on hotels or houses, we'd make deals outside of the game to keep someone in the game - "Let me use your bike and I'll spot you $500 in the game." Yeah, that kind of stuff. It's a crazy, addictive, and sometimes cutthroat game. Good, good times.

In those days there were very specific playing pieces. You had the car, which everybody wanted. If you had first choice, you always had the car. If you had second choice, it was slightly different - if you were a girl, you took the dog, and if you were a boy, you took the battleship. After that, the top hat, iron, thimble, cannon, boot, man on a horse, and wheelbarrow were up for grabs. Notably, those were the pieces in the set we played with. Even then we knew there had been other pieces.

In the 1950s, the purse, rocking horse, and lantern had been replaced by the dog, wheelbarrow, and man on horse. So there's nothing new under the sun. Similarly in later years, Monopoly has added (and apparently subtracted) a train and a money bag as tokens as well. Noatably, most of the different variations of the games have different tokens as well. My Justice League set has tiny busts of the first eight members.

The new deal, which is sure to equal sales in the old sets, as well as anticipation of the new ones, has the public voting for a new piece to replace an old one. Any of the existing (the cannon has apparently previously been jettisoned) are up for retirement. The new pieces you can vote for on the Monopoly Facebook Page include the robot, the helicopter, the cat, the diamond ring, or the guitar.

Personally I'm pulling for the robot or the helicopter. They both have the coolness factor of the car. I am wondering however, how popular would a full set of playing tokens be? I know I would buy that, all of the past and present pieces in one set would be cool for collectors and fans of the game as well. You could even throw in proposed pieces like the biplane and the piggy bank. Now, the real question is, why isn't there a playing piece of the game's mascot, Uncle Moneybags?