Sunday, November 18, 2012

Geek Gear: Dice Rings

My friend Sam recently brought this project to my attention. This is a Kickstarter project that has met and exceeded its goal. You can check it out here.

The creative folks behind this Kickstarter have created high quality "dice rings" made out of etched stainless steel. Each ring has one or more independently spinning outer ring that is fitted into a grove on the inner ring. Instead of "2d6" to represent 2 six sided dice, they note each die with and "r" so if you wanted to spin two six siders it would be "2r6."

Pretty clever. I can't say I would necessarily use them myself but I applaud the effort.
Dice Rings

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Steve Jobs: Genius by Design Graphic Novel

Steve Jobs: Genius by Design
People love Apple and they loved Steve Jobs. During his life and since his death he has been the subject of a large number of articles and biographies.

Steve Jobs: Genius by Design is the newest graphic novel biography on the legendary tech titan.

What I particularly loved about the solicit is the cover of the comic. What a brilliantly simple design, shaped to look like a iPad with an unembellished image of Jobs himself looking away from the reader, lost in thought.

This volume is being publihsed by Campfire and will be only $12.99 for 104 pages. You can count on it being well researched, visually interesting, and enlightening.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome Webisodes

I'm a huge fan of the revamped Battlestar Galactica series from SciFi so I was very excited when I heard about the new prequel series being released online. It follows a young Adama on his very first mission as a pilot. It's very good. Four of the 10 episodes have been released thus far and two more come out on November 23rd. I can't wait! Check out the first episode: 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Adventures of a Comic Con Girl Comic

Ah, the Comic Con Girl. What an enigmatic creature.

She's revered and perhaps feared in a way few will ever understand. Of course, the Comic Con Girls are as diverse as their Comic Con Brethren. There's the ultra-fan who could out-geek the biggest boy nerd. There's the loyal spouse/girlfriend who attends out of mere obligation. There's the hostile gamer-girl who just wants to game and doesn't want to be looked as a woman at all. The variety is endless.

So Antarctic's comic examining the experiences of females at comic book conventions intrigues me. What is it like to turn the heads of a thousand geeks just simply by showing up in a rockin' Power Girl costume? How does one act when one realizes that they possess such power? What motivations do these mythical creatures have?

This comic book limited series of three issues promises to be both humorous and insightful and an industry almost exclusively devoted to males examines the fairer gender's experiences at comic book conventions.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Geek Gear: Tetris Ice Cube Tray

Tetris Ice Cube Maker
Alright, now this may be the coolest of all of the Tetris gear I've seen. It's a Tetris ice cube tray that creates all of the basic Tetris shapes made out of ice.

This just sounds endless hours of mindless fun to me. I would be that person that would buy, like, 15 of them, add food dye to water and make colored frozen blocks and then spend an entire evening playing my own home-made frozen Tetris game. Hey, don't judge! I write for a geek blog, what do you want?

But, if you're normal, you'd just serve drinks to your guest with Tetris block shaped ice cubes in them and smile as they sip from the glasses, blissfully unaware that in the liquid swirling around are the shapes from a video game come to frozen life.


Okay, maybe I am weirder than I thought.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Geek Gear: Tetris Heat-Changing Mug

Mugs are boring. Everybody knows that. But this mug has a pretty cool gimmick.

It's a Tetris mug, inspired by the video game Tetris. When you pour hot liquid into it, the display changes to show a more advanced game display. Pretty cool!

Of course, it's not perfect though. The heated display says "Level 11" and "15 Lines" when everyone knows that you need ten lines to pass a level so it should be 115 lines. Duh!

Anyway, perfect or not, this throwback to a simpler era of video games is pretty sweet.

Look! The long blue piece is about to fall and make a Tetris! Sweet!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Marvel Media Mania: Fantastic Four (1994)

The unreleased Fantastic Four movie from 1994 is literally a joke. The joke was on the cast and crew who thought they were making a serious movie when, in fact, the studio never intended to release it.
The 1994 Unreleased Fantastic Four Movie
As you might have heard, this movie is anything but fantastic. In fact, dreadful is a more fitting descriptor.

First and foremost, the entire story is horribly boring. The pacing is incredibly slow and there isn't a single genuine character moment in the entire film. The actors seem to want to act but you can actually see them acting which is never good. Not only is the plot a cure for insomnia but it is also needlessly complex. In an attempt to cram in as much stuff from the comics as possible, the story meanders from the character's college years to the rocket launch and finally over half way through the film we finally see the formation of the Fantastic Four. The inclusion of two villains, Dr. Doom and the The Jeweler (a Mole Man rip-off), demands that we spend a lot of time away from our protagonists. While at first this seems like a good thing because the protagonists are all very boring and you don't care about them you quickly learn that the villains are basically generic comic-book villain cardboard stand-ups that are even more boring than the heroes. Somehow, Alicia Masters is shoehorned into the plot as well but I doubt you'll really care or even notice.

Honestly, when I watched this my five year old son watched it as well and he was completely lost. He couldn't tell the difference between Johnny, Reed, Ben, and Victor as well as Sue and Alicia. When the can't tell the difference between Dr. Doom and the Human Torch you know there's a big problem with characterization.

Now, there are a couple of positives to pluck out of this train wreck. First, although the costumes are far worse than those that I've seen at comic book conventions, the looks are directly inspired by the original comic book designs. I've got to give the creators credit for the attempt at least. Close-ups of Dr. Doom's face actually look pretty good when he is totally obscured by shadows. Secondly, the story does attempt to be very true to the comic books. The origin of Dr. Doom, the rocket ship, even the awkward age difference between Sue and Reed all comes directly from the comics. The execution, once again, is clumsy and awkward. But they made the attempt and that counts for something... right?

I can't overstate how awfully, horribly, absolutely bad this film is though. It's like watching a very, very slow and boring car accident that isn't interesting at all. And it's boring. Very, very boring.

1LR REVIEW - 1 out of 20! A Critical Fumble!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Philosophy: A Discovery in Comics Graphic Novel

A Thinking Man's Graphic Novel
What is thinking? How does our thinking set up apart from other animals?

What is reality? Is there one reality or many subjective realities?

What is truth? Can truth actually be determined?

Do we have a free will or is our life predetermined?

These questions and more are examined in Philosophy: A Discovery in Comics by Margreet de Heer. She examines and digests western philosophers including Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Erasmus, Descartes, Spinoza, and Nietzsche.

So don't expect Spider-Man to ponder how to defeat the unstoppable Juggernaut. This graphic novel tackles the REALLY tough questions about life, the universe, and our role in it.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Star Wars Video: You're Beautiful by Christina Aguilera

Hate Jar Jar Binks? You're not alone, as this video illustrates. This is my friend Bill's third Star Wars video and, in my humble opinion, the best of the three. The use of Christina Augilera's song, "You're Beautiful" juxtaposed against the Jar Jar hate is brilliant.  

Friday, November 9, 2012

Star Wars Video: The Last Song by Elton John

Here's the second Star Wars video from my friend Bill. "The Last Song" by Elton John is used to describe the relationship between Luke and his father. Enjoy.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Super Hero Squad Online: Identity Crisis

My Squad's Hero
One of the unique things about Super Hero Squad Online is that you can't choose your squad name. Instead, it's randomly generated. Common words like Invisible, Astral, Tornado, etc. are placed together in a random order. Sometimes, some folks get a cool name like The Punishing Lawyer. Sometimes, folks get names that don't even make sense such as Volcanic Torch Manatee.

Recently, the SHS enthusiasts over at Comic Books Resources put together a contest. Come up with a story to explain your wacky squad name! If you do, they award you with a personalized picture of your squad's hero. I entered the picture in this post is the rest. Pretty good, I would say! The first block was actually blank... me in my "invisible state."

The entries will be voted on and the winner will receive a gold card for in-game. Pretty sweet!

You can check out all of the entries at

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Marvel Super Hero Squad Online Halloween Theme

Just like last year, the Marvel Super Hero Squad has uploaded a Halloween theme. It changes two zones - The Daily Bugle and The Baxter Plaza. Enjoy!
Photo: Heroes don't scare easily, do you? Test out your fear meter with our newly added Halloween event!
The announcement
You can give your hero a Frankenstein head...
...or a pumpkin head...
...or a witch head...
... or a mummy head...
...or an alien head!
Dr. Strange's house is added including a pumpin patch...
...and a graveyard...
... and an interior featuring two staircases, a library, and a chair...
...that turns you into a ghost!
The coolest feature is probably this little cat, however.
The black cat replaces the usual robber in the Daily Bugle zone.
What's cool is that he isn't always found in the same place
like the rest of the chaseable heroes.
There are also plenty of Halloween decorations up all over!
That coffin has a mummy that springs out at you when you walk past.
I'm not sure what a wrecked truck carrying toxic waste has to do with Halloween.
Perhaps it is the cause of the zombies...?
Only problem is that the zombies never showed up in game!
In the Baxter Plaza there is a creepy fog everywhere.
Also, there appears to be some general looting
with overturned trash cans and the like.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Marvel Super Hero Squad Online Card Tournament

Marvel Super Hero Squad Online Card Game
As great as the card game for the Marvel Super Hero Squad Online game is, it is lacking a few key components. One is a ranking system. You really don't know how you are doing compared to other players in terms of skill and ability.

That's why I've so appreciated the efforts of Astral Tornado Mariner from the Comic Book Resources forums to organize a card tournament. His creative idea is to have players collect the Infinity Gems. Each player starts out with one gem and wins additional gems as they challenge other players. The four players that get all five gems first will move on to the finals.

So far, I've played four games.

My first game was against The Punishing Lawyer. It was a good card game but I easily came out on top.

I strutted into my second contest against Smashing Clown Juggler. It was a VERY close game that came down to a single card. VTM got a lucky block (literally) and won with one card left. I don't feel that badly about that, however, because he got eliminated directly after our game.

My third card game was against Volcanic Torch Manatee. I completely whipped him, having 3/4 of my deck left in tact at the end of the match. This took me back to ownership of two gems. Manatee broke a cardinal rule of tournament play and blabbed my deck concept and composition to the other players.

So I  wasn't surprised when I lost my fourth game to Fighting Raven since she knew what colors I had. Still, it was incredibly close and I uncharacteristically blew a huge lead. It's a small comfort to me knowing that all of the other people I've played have been eliminated from the tourney. Playing me is a kiss of death even if you win!

I still have one gem and I'm waiting on Bright Breaking Ghost to respond to my challenge. We both have one gem so one of us will be eliminated when we clash! I can't wait! I'll keep you updated on the tournament progress.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Marvel Media Mania: Fred and Barney Meet the Thing

Fred and Barney Meet the Thing aired on NBC in 1979. Each episode was split between the Flintstones and The Thing. The two shows never crossed over with one another and the characters never met except in the show's opening. Each "Thing" episode contained two shorts. There were 13 episodes made.
Fred and Barney Meet the Thing
 I really thought no Marvel property would come close to touching the awfulness of Swamp Thing. I was wrong. 

The trouble starts right with the title of the show. Fred and Barney never meet the Thing, making the name a misnomer. 

The big problem with this show, however, is the very concept itself. It takes The Thing are strips him of everything except the fact that he's a big rocky monster... sometimes. See, he has to slam together two rings and say, "Thing Rings! Do your thing!" Then rocks fly at him in a flash of light and he's transformed into the Thing. Benjamin Grimm isn't an adult, instead he's replaced with teenager Benjy Grimm and his gang of friends that are Scooby-Doo clones. None of the Fantastic Four ever appear in this show. In short, this show has nothing to do with The Thing.

The Shmoo... better than the Thing?
The plots are as awesome as they can be. "A gang of thugs is causing trouble! Oh no! Let's challenge them to a balloon race!" Ugh. Yeah, it's THAT bad! The awful puns littered throughout the series and complete lack of logic make it hard to even laugh at how bad this show is. 

The animation is fair but it comes across as looking very cheap, even for 1979. This is probably the best the Thing has looked on the screen up to this point. That's about the only points this show picks up.

You want to know how bad this show was? Well, the Fred and Barney part of the show were reruns and they survived after this "thing" got cancelled. Fred and Barney then go a new partner to replace the cancelled Thing... Shmoo. Yes, this Shmoo.

1LR REVIEW - 2 out of 20! It's a Total Failure!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Gaming Notes: Moto Grand Prix #3

Moto Grand Prix
I got to play in a six player game of Moto Grand Prix the other day. It was quite exciting! Each of us had two bikes in the race.

The entire first lap the bikes continued to bunch up, not flatten out into a long drafting line. The track set up may have had much to do with this as it had several brutal corner exchanges. Over the course of the race there were several cases where the leaders found themselves coming out of a 3 or 2 corner with a five, six or seven on the dice. Zoom! Zoom! Zoom! Welcome to fourth place!

I could never seen to get ahead. I always hung around third or fourth place and that's where I finished despite grinding my engine down six times (the maximum).

The race featured a large number of burnouts with only one player, Jarred, finishing with both of his bikes!

In a highly competitive race, Kevin was the victor, Sam came in second, and I took third. Although in points, Jarred was the overall victor because his "team" finished both of his bikes.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Gaming Notes: King of Tokyo #6

King of Tokyo
King of Tokyo is quickly becoming one of my favorite games. It is easy to learn, the gameplay is fast and fun, and the game offers many strategies for success.

That being said, Sam completely destroyed five other guys tonight.

He played it brilliantly. Through several rounds he ducked in and out of Tokyo, strategically dealing damage to the four players not in Tokyo and then ducking out at the first sign of retaliation.

I could see exactly what he was doing but I found I was always in the same place as Sam, thus unable to do damage to him.

In one round Sam dealt a massive amount of damage, taking out FOUR other players at the same time. From there, it was just cleanup for him to wipe the final player out of the game. Well played, Sam. Well played.

Friday, November 2, 2012

First Impression: Superbia #1

Superbia #1
Superbia is a new comic that explores an interesting concept. What do the spouses of superheroes do all day long while their husbands are out saving the world?

I find the topic to be particularly relevant because DC and Marvel have no idea what to do with a married superhero. Spider-Man was notoriously un-never-married in the One More Day storyline. Superman's marriage got the continuity axe with 52. To me, it speaks very poorly of the creative talent at these companies that they simply can't figure out how to write a married superhero.

Perhaps they should let Grace Randolph write for them.

In this series, there are Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman archetypes, all of which are married. But what would it be like to be Superman's spouse REALLY? He's a man that's so powerful he could have literally anything he wanted. And how would you feel if your husband was running around town with a hot young female sidekick?

Check out Supurbia if for no other reason than to get an dynamic analysis of the lives of superheroes. And I'm betting it's a pretty darn good story as well.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Disney Buys Star Wars: A Newer Hope

And start hyperventilating... now. No, not because of the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy or the election. This is bigger than those things, judging from the reaction of the world.

That's right - I'm sure you've already heard. Disney now owns Star Wars and George Lucas's associated businesses. And they're making new Star Wars movies.

I think the internet is already full with fan reactions. Opinions are as diverse as the alien species in Star Wars. If the emperor wanted to start a galactic civil war all he had to do was announce Disney purchased Star Wars, not go through that whole big convoluted thing with clones. Disney clearly didn't see that it was stepping on a landmine called the "EU." That's right - the extended universe. Fans of the Thrawn Trilogy won't accept anything less than 100% adherence to the EU "cannon." But let's get real. Disney didn't pay $4,000,000,000 to adapt some novels. Word has already leaked that the stories are going to be ones never before seen by fans.

Now I'm hoping "never before seen by fans" means "in line with Lucas's original outlines." If Disney is going to call this movie Episode VII it's got to continue the stories of Luke, Leia, and Han in a meaningful way. Fans who insist that nobody else can play those characters except for the original actors are going to have to face facts. It is very possible for new actors to come in to a well established role and make it their own. Christopher Reeve capably replaced George Reeves as Superman. Daniel Craig made James Bond his own despite Sean Connery's long shadow. It was long thought Cesar Romero owned the Joker role until Jack Nicholson put his own trademark on it and then Heath Ledger once again raised the stakes.

Making new Star Wars films is a tricky business. There's a lot to get right and a lot that could go very, very wrong. But 1LR is ecstatic at the development. If you're a Star Wars fan the idea of more Star Wars movies can't be a bad thing. To me, Disney saved Star Wars from slowly becoming irrelevant. In today's world, if you're not moving forward you're dead in the water. By continuing to produce new films Disney will keep Star Wars relevant for generations.

But the first film will be a $4 billion gamble. Much of the good will Star Wars had with fans has been erased by the prequel trilogy. If that first film doesn't hit all the right notes and "feel" like Star Wars, Disney might as well go jump in a sarlac pit.

And please. No Jar Jar.