Ad It Up: Lazer Tag

I LOVED Lazer Tag as a kid and was lucky enough to have everything but the crazy helmets. The guns still look slick today and became favorites as a kid. I also remember liking the Lazer Tag cartoon, but can only assume that it doesn’t hold up very well today, like most cartoons from that time. You know what else doesn’t hold up? Hex #17 (1986), the comic I scanned this from. Woof, what a stinker, but at least I got some great Ad It Up fodder from the experience. Writing this kind of makes me want to dust off the ol’ Lazer Tag gear and see if it still works. Anyone want to play?

Late To The Xbox Party: Red Faction Guerrilla (2009)

I played a bunch of games for the PlayStation 2, mostly superhero related ones, but there are three that stick out in my memory. I’ve talked about my love of Spider-Man 2 all over the place, but the other two were James Bond: Agent Under Fire and Red Faction 2. While everyone else was playing the hell out of Halo 2 on the Xbox in college, my gang was all about Red Faction 2 as far as mutiplayer murder fests go. I’ve never been very good at those kinds of games but I still love playing them with friends. The use of interesting weapons like the rail gun (which gave you thermo look at your opponents and ammo that could shoot through walls) and some huge bazooka type things. Fun stuff, great levels, friends, good all around.

Red Faction Guerrilla doesn’t have any of that stuff, but I still liked it. Having never played the single player version of RF2, I don’t know what the story is, but the story for this game is that you are a demolition expert on Mars who starts working with the revolutionaries. I skipped most of the cut scenes, but, basically, you get to blow a lot of shit up and collect salvage that you can then use to get better weapons and weapon upgrades to blow more shit (and bad guys) up.

It’s kind of funny that RFG actually has more similarities to Spider-Man 2 than RF2, now that I think about it. Both games give you sandboxes to play in with side missions that can earn you more salvage and experience in addition to story-based ones. I liked most of the missions, like the destruction and smashing ones, but just didn’t get into the race ones because, I generally don’t like car-based games (not enough things blowing up).

One of the things that got RFG attention when it came out is that the environments are very destructible. You’re encouraged to blast, smash or blow up most buildings and people. The only real limitations I came to with the controls/design–aside from only being able to carry three weapons and the hammer–was that sometimes you hit an invisible wall when it came to climbing on the mountains, which got frustrating. Another problem I had a few times was that the map system isn’t always great. You can place beacons on the map to guide you where you need to go, but if it happens to be off-road, the arrows disappear. This lead to some really long and annoying treks to found places I needed to blow up. Another negative came with some of the save points during missions. Many of them involve defending something from multi-tiered attacks, but also start you back at the very beginning if you die. I get that the game needs to be somewhat difficult, but that kind of stuff gets maddening for me. All of which leads up to my biggest complaint: I couldn’t beat the damn game. I tried so many times and even watched a few YouTube walkthroughs, but just couldn’t get my guy/tank/vehicle to survive long enough to get to the actual end of the game. That difficulty coupled with the crappy restart places just made me give up (after realizing it was the very last thing I needed to do).

I still had a lot of fun with the game, especially smashing things with my various hammers, I think I killed more bad guys with that than guns because it was super-effective. I still give the game a positive review which speaks to how much fun I had while playing it, even though I didn’t finish the game. I got enough enjoyment that it didn’t even bother me that much. Plus, I’ve been wanting to get into Prototype, which has been sitting on my shelf for a while, so it all worked out in the end. I’m looking forward to hearing he buzz about Red Faction Armageddon which comes out at the end of this month. Anyone hear good things?

Billy Zabka Double Feature: Back To School (1986) & Just One Of The Guys (1985)

Sometimes, you just want to laugh, you know? That was all I was thinking when I added Rodney Dangerfield’s Back To School to the top of my Netflix Instant queue. And man, did I have a blast. I know I’ve seen this flick before, most likely on television and probably never unedited, but I knew the basic premise: Rodney Dangerfield’s a rich dude who decides to join his son in college, but uses his money to get by until he learns an important lesson. He’s also super good at diving.

My memories weren’t too far off, but I didn’t remember most of the details. For instance, there’s no real stakes for Dangerfield. He’s going to still be rich even if he flunks out, so none of it really matters. However, it matters to him, his son and his pride so he winds up taking it seriously, but only after bringing his team in to help with his classes and even getting Kurt Vonnegut to write a paper about Vonnegut’s works. Other fun cameos include Sam Kinison as an intense professor, Adrienne Barbeau as Dangerfield’s rough-looking and cheating most recent wife and, of course, Robert Downey Jr. playing Dangerfield’s son’s anarchy-loving best friend. I love watching old RDJ movies and seeing that he really started off like so many other actors who never went on to do anything, like Dangerfield’s son…whose name I don’t know.

Anyway, as I noted in the headline for this post, legendary 80s asshole character actor Billy Zabka (Johnny from Karate Kid) plays a college jerk in this movie. He’s so good at being a jerk that I kind of wish he was involved in the Revenge of the Nerds movies. Anyway, he’s a bully on the diving team which is pretty laughable in and of itself, even feigning injury so that a 65 year old man can take his place and do one of the raddest dives of all time. Lame sauce.

Anyway, if you’re a younger movie fan and haven’t seen this one, but like movies like Old School or Billy Madison, give it a shot. Dangerfield’s like your funniest uncle, but you only have to spend an hour and a half with him.

After enjoying Back To School, I was torn between watching another Dangerfield movie and another Zabka one and Zabka won out. And man, oh man, does he come off way worse in Just One Of The Guys than the other flick. You’ve probably seen the basic plot of Just One Of The Guys before, where someone decides to dress up like someone else and sees how things work out! This time around, it’s Terry, a high school girl who likes journalism, but thinks she would have an easier time as a boy, so she cuts her hair, borrows some of her brother’s clothes (he and her friend are the only ones who know what’s up) and starts going to a different school. Oh, and their parents are gone for a few days, so there’s no problem there.

On the surface, JOOTG is an interesting look at what kids getting close to adulthood would do given more freedom than usual, but there’s also some sexual issues that could probably be examined by someone who knows about that stuff a lot better. Terry has a crush on this dude, but since he’s really a she, that’s weird. Meanwhile, Sherilyn Fenn (Twin Peaks!) has a thing for the boy version of Terry. There’s plenty of context and subtext there to really be dug into. What I’m saying is, college students taking a love and sex or film theory class, do a killer paper on the sexual mores involved in Just One Of The Guys and I bet you’ll get a B.

Oh, and the Zabka involvement is pretty epic. He is SUCH a dick. He harasses nerds relentlessly and finally gets his comeuppance at the end after being a jerk for the whole darn movie. His rage aimed at a girl dressed as a guy could also be noted in that paper you college students are working on.

The movie had a good deal of laughs, but won’t be edging out any of my favorite comedies for their spots in my mental lists. It’s a pretty silly comedy, but like I said with BTS, that’s what I was looking for, some fun light-hearted goodness. Mission accomplished.

Live Blogging Real Housewives Of New York Season 4 Episode 2

Woof, tonight’s episode of The Real Housewives Of New York was another rough one. Alex kept sticking up for herself both when she should have and when she should have chilled out. LuAnn showed herself to be the stuck-up mean girl she really is. Ramona was Ramona. Sandy’s okay I guess, I’m still not sure yet. Jill and Kelly have been pretty non existent so far, but I don’t think that will last long. And finally, Sonja kind of sickens me with how full of herself she is. I don’t know if there’s a hero in this season or even a victim to really root for kind of like Bethenny was last season. Ah well, hit the jump to read the live blog. Continue reading Live Blogging Real Housewives Of New York Season 4 Episode 2

Annihilation Trade Post: Books 1-3

Written by Keith Giffen, Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning, drawn by Mitch Breitweiser, Scot Kolins, Ariel Olivetti & Kev Walker
Collects Drax The Destroyer #1-4, Annihilation: Prologue & Annihilation: Nova #1-4
Back in my days at Wizard, I wound up being the go-to guy for Annihilation interviews. I had just read Infinity Gauntlet for the first time and was pretty high on the idea of Marvel’s space characters getting a jump start. With very few exceptions, I had very little experience with these characters, so it was kind of fun to just be thrown into the middle of all this craziness and see where it went. When these issues were coming out, I had trouble not comparing the Annihilation set-up with that of DC’s Infinite Crisis. Both had four four-issue minis leading up to a main series. At the time it felt like Marvel did the whole thing better because their minis lead into the main series better. I can’t say I necessarily feel the same way now, but at least we didn’t have to get four one-shots to actually cap those stories. But, as usual, I’m getting a little ahead of myself. Continue reading Annihilation Trade Post: Books 1-3

Song Of The Day: “Drinking In LA” By Bran Van 3000

Even though I’m on a serious summer music kick today which has taken me from Fountains Of Wayne’s Utopia Parkway to Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Chronicles Vol. 1, this song by electronica band Bran Van 3000 gets the “Song Of The Day” banner for taking me right back to 1997. The song popped on in the coffee shop I’m working at and I practically threw my headphones off when I realized what it was. I felt instantly transported back to my room in my parents’ house doing homework with 89X the Detroit radio station that played all kinds of “alternative” music. I have no idea if this track was big at the time, I don’t ever remember seeing the music video, but I heard the song enough to still remember large chunks of the vocals. I’ve since discovered through conversations with the missus that 89X would play a lot of tracks that weren’t big single anywhere else. Anyone else remember this track? I’m looking at you, my fellow Toledoians.

Real World Watcher: Las Vegas Episode 6 “Sexiles/Exiles”

Well, tonight’s episode of Real World: Las Vegas was incredibly frustrating, especially in light of the revelations we found out about in the previous episode. As I’m sure you can imagine after Adam’s drunken rampage in last week’s episode, tonight’s dealt with the aftermath which included lots of broken glass all over the house and even broken light fixtures. Immediately, Nany’s talking about how bad she feels for Adam that he has to go through these kinds of things. Mind you, “these kinds of things” include him punching the wall right next to her face so hard that the next day his knuckles are essentially open sores and possibly broken. Meanwhile, all Adam complains about is that his sneakers, that he just bought, are jacked up. I felt like I wanted to punch this kid and I’m watching this edited and well after the fact, so I can only imagine how angry Leroy was. Befuddled, he can’t understand why everyone seems to cool with Adam’s behavior, especially because he shows no remorse, doesn’t really apologize and says he’ll probably do it again. Continue reading Real World Watcher: Las Vegas Episode 6 “Sexiles/Exiles”

Ad It Up: The Saga Of Crystar

Had I thought ahead a little more, I would have done some awesome blog synergy and posted a Crystar toy commercial over on Toy Chest Central yesterday for Toy Commercial Tuesday, but alas, I’m kind of flying by the seat of my pants here. Babies apparently don’t prepare for themselves, who’d a thunk it? Anyway, here we have a pretty rad looking ad for Crystar action figures that I scanned from the first issue of the 1984 Jack Of Hearts miniseries from Marvel. The Saga Of Crystar started life as an idea from Marvel Comics who pitched it around to various action figure companies. Remco bit and the results were a coordinated effort to make both toys and comics based on the idea. I’ve heard good things about the series and Danzig was clearly a fan, but I’ve also never gotten my hands on any of these toys. I’d be curious to find out why the ad is made up of artwork instead of actual toy images. For more information on the overall concept, check out the Wiki page and to see the figures, head over to The Virtual Toy Chest (no relation, but an awesome repository of action figure images).

Awesome Poster, Terrible Movie: Ninja’s Creed

Okay, so the poster is more of a DVD box and it probably doesn’t actually verge into “awesome” territory, but this image for Ninja’s Creed along with the fact that Pat Morita and Eric Roberts have roles int it, was enough to get it played on Netflix Instant. Personally, though, I think this non-Photoshopped version of the image is a lot cooler.

Anyway, I like action movies and low budget movies and movies about ninjas so this should have been right up my alley right? Of course not. I got duped. Morita and Roberts have very small roles, the story is actually about some soldier trying to find the last mystical child of some guy blah blah blah. I missed most of the voiceover in the beginning but involved him dressed like a Roman soldier in modern times watching jets bomb mountains. The action’s pretty weak and the film suffers from bad editing and stiff acting. Plus, the main character guy seems to have either been completely dubbed one of the worst actors of all time. It’s hard to tell. Oh and I have no idea who the titular ninja is supposed to be. Is it the guy or the woman trying to kill the girl? At this point I don’t care enough to find out.

I made it through 35 minutes of the movie before turning it off. Sure it sucked but it gave me an interesting idea for a new blog post idea that I’ll hopefully get around to in the relative future.

Casting Internets

My buddy Ben Morse discusses his history with Justice League comics. I think we might have had the same introductory issue, the one that tied into the Death of Superman.

I loved Esquire‘s interview with Norm Macdonald, one of the most underrated comedians of the past few decades in my opinion. I learned two things about him that I didn’t know before: 1) he used to write for Roseanne, a favorite show of mine and 2) he’s got a sports show coming up on Comedy Central.

Dammit! I wish I would have known that there was a Welcome  Back Kotter reunion on Good Morning America recently. I would have watched that in a heartbeat. (via Pop Candy)

I’ve gone on record as being a big fan of the 70s Wonder Woman issues where she’s just a regular person wearing white jumpsuits (here, here and here), so I’m curious to see Dennis O’Neil return to the character with DC Retroactive: Wonder Woman – The 70s #1 (you think that title’s clunky enough?) with artist J. Bone. Should be interesting. (via The Source)

I’ve owned Music From Big Pink for years and still don’t know if I like it, but reading Rolling Stone‘s story about the Band from 1968 and said record was pretty interesting.

If anyone has an extra $400 and wants to buy me one of my dream guitars from Musician’s Friend, I would be very grateful.

I heard Edgar Wright talk about making collage videos like Gun Fetish when he talked to Kevin Smith on his Smoviemakers podcast, so I’m glad /Film posted the actual video. Excellent use of “Happiness Is A Warm Gun.”