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Archive for December, 2009

Books Read 12/09

Thursday, December 31st, 2009

1. Hearts at Stake by Alyxandra Harvey

Wow. I will never complain about Twilight fans ever again. Why? Because Hearts at Stake makes that series look like fucking Carmilla. This is easily the worst vampire book in the history of vampire books and the only reason I finished it was because I had to review it for Amazon. This was hands downt he worst book I read in 2009. Burn it. BURN IT.

PAGE COUNT: 248

2. Antartica 2041: My Quest to Save the Earth’s Last Wilderness by Robert Swann

A great little book about the history of Antartica and the political and environmental stuggles it currently faces. Like all the books I read this month, this was one I had to review, but I really enjoyed this. its just too bad the ARC was so flimsy the book had fallen to pieces by the time I was done. Definitely a read for non-fiction and history fans.

PAGE COUNT: 292

3. The Raw Milk Revolution: Behind America’s Emerging Battle Over Food Rights by David E Gumpert

What a strange little topic filled with some of the craziest motherfuckers I have ever read about (on both sides). I didn’t even know there was a massive controversy about raw milk. This was a fascinating read I could barely put down and it was a train wreck from beginning to end. I also loved the links to pro and anti raw milk web sites. HILARIOUS.

PAGE COUNT: 228

4. Possessed by Kate Cann

This was a fun little young adult book. Although there isn’t any actual possession in the book, it is a fun horror story where everything that unfolds may or may not be supernatural in origin. It’s all up to the reader, I’m still surprised at how much I enjoyed this one.

PAGE COUNT: 327

Total Page Count for 12/09: 1,095
Total page count for 2009: 17,000

Nice that it was 17,000 exact. I couldn’t have planned that. I beat my 2006 count by 850 pages. Not bad. Between this resolution and the 365 DVD reviews, my resolution for 2010 is not to make any resolutions.

DVD of the Day #365 - The Ninth Gate

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

. The Club Dumas is one of my favourite books of the past few decades, so it may surprise you to hear I strongly prefer the movie based on the book, even though it is drastically different from the novel and expugates half the plot. It’s also both my favourite Roman Polanski film and my favourite Johnny Depp film.

Now I’m going to refrain from the usual Polanski jokes and instead say this: there are very few directors and writers that understand the concept or Satan. Although he is no John Milton, Polanski’s works about the World’s Greatest Antagonist are the best in the cinematic world. His portryal of Satanists and Satanism gives us an odd juxtaposition of humanizing them and yet making them so alien that you can’t help but be creeped out by them.

The Ninth Gate focuses on Johnny Depp as an unscrupulous antique book dealer and his quest to authenticate one of the rarest bookest known to man: The Nine Gates of the Kingdom of Shadows which is purported to be partially written by Lucifer himself. As Depp’s character travels through Europe, he discovers not only the two other copies of the book that still exist, but a cast of characters that want the book for their own reasons, be they insidious or benevolent. Satan is also a major character in the movie, but not in the way you think and definitely not with the personality or characterization most 20th century works about him have portrayed him. It’s very much a return to the Classical Satan if you will, which makes the movie all the more intriguing.

There isn’t a lot of gore or death in the movie, but there is some. This movie is all about the story telling and characterization and those are my favorite types of horror films. I mean, I’m more terrfied by a good but creepy story then unrealistic constant violence.

Although the movie is slow moving and not at all what most people think of when they hear the phrase “horror movie,” it is definitely one of the best I’ve ever seen and an all time classic for those that appreciate the topics of forbidden lore and ancient texts. If you haven’t seen it, you really need to.

Is it Worth Keeping? Yes
Rating: 9/10

DVD of the Day #364 - Fierce Creatures

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

Back on Day #97, I reviewed A Fish Called Wanda. As I close out this New Year’s Resolution, I thought it would be fun to go back and look at the little known “sequel” to the movie. Same cast, director and writers, but a totally different story with new characters. I actually strongly prefer this to AFCW, but I’m sure I’m in the minority there.

Kevin Kline is at his assholish best playing two characters in this film: A father who is basically Rupert Murdoch and a son who is totally psychotic. The father owns a company called “Octopus Inc.” which somehow picked up a British Zoo in their last commerical take over. Although John Cleese’s character is originally sent to run the zoo (and ends up causing a headline in the Times of “Vampire Gunman Runs Amok” due to his actions), Kline’s younger character and Jaime Lee Curtis’ character come to run the zoo. JLC’s character loves animals and Klines utterly hates them, leading to wacky antics. It also doesn’t help that both of them think Cleese is a crazy orgy kind of guy.

The movie revolves around ways to help the zoo make money, most of which are utterly insane and quite hilarious. Eventually though, Rod McCain (the Ruper Murdoch character) discovers his son Vince has been stealing and plans to shut down the zoo and send his offspring to jail. The climax is pretty out of left field and it makes it all the more hilarious because of it. It’s a shame this film bombed when it was originally released because it’s a lot of fun and well worth seeing.

Is it Worth Keeping? Yes
Rating:

DVD of the Day #363 - Tenchi Muyo! Ultimate Edition

Monday, December 28th, 2009

As many of my readers know, I love the Tenchi Muyo series. Just a wonderful cast of characters and wacky situations. However, I have never owned the Ultimate Edition DVD’s until this month. Since 2000, I’ve only had the VCD’s from Japan, which were heavily compressed and missing some things. I finally splurged this holiday season and picked up the THX uber remaster set for $75. Considering it usually goes for $150 or more and has long since been out of print, I figured this was the best I was going to find it for costwise.

Well, I’m happy to report that not only is series as awesome as ever, but the picture and sound quality are amazing. It’s no wonder this series is one of the most famous and popular animes of all time and has been heavily ripped off ever since. Tenchi is still Archie Andrews, but more likeable. Ryoko is the bad girl with the heart of gold. Mihoshi is still an idiot. Ayeka is still a bitch. Washu is still a hilarious mad scientist. Sasami is still adorable. Ryo-ohki is still the best cartoon animal thing to come out of Japan. The series remains as funny and whimiscal as I remembered it and this was well worth the investment.

Guin watched it with me and she liked it enough that she wanted to finish the series in two straight evenings.

Although the price tag is a bit astronomical, the third bonus disc of special features is wonderful and it’s nice to have both the English and Japanese tracks in a Tenchi set. Although the original is still my least favourite of the big three alternate universes, it’s still a lot of fun and well worth being one of, if not THE, crown jewels in an anime collection.

Is It Worth Keeping? Very much so.
Rating: 7.5/10

DVD of the Day #362 - The Transformers: 25th Anniversary “Matrix of Leadership” Edition

Sunday, December 27th, 2009

Well, i finally managed to finish all 16 DVD’s of this series. This was my favourite cartoon as a kid. At one point I had one of the largest collections of TF’s in the US and I eventually sold them all before moving to England save for a few special items like Ultra Magnus, G1 Optimus prime, Predaking, Menasor and Bumblebee.

I have to say that not only has this series not aged very well, but Shout Factory did an awful job with the third season of the cartoon. Not only are the episodes out of both Chronological and broadcast order, but what is shown on the box and the booklets is still not the same order on the DVD’s. Very poorly done.

Season One is still sixteen or so episodes of awesome and it’s overall the best season. Season two is about 50 episodes and the range from the best in the entire series (like the hilarious Triple Takeover) or god fucking awful. This is especially true of the second half of the series that seems to only focus on the Stuntacons, Arielbots, Protectobots and Combaticons. Ugh. Season three is not only awful, it’s one of the worst seasons of any 1980’s cartoon out there. Horrible plots, horrible characters and a total lack of continuity. The only good things the post-movie episodes ever gave us were Ultra Magnus and Cyclonus. All three episodes of season four were…meh. The plot was awful and you can see why they ended it as the show just got awful, but the animation in these episodes is amongst the best of the entire series.

Overall, this hasn’t aged anywhere as well as G.I. Joe or He-Man and it makes me a little whistful. Sure I’ll probably keep this, but it’s more out of nostalgia than quality. G1’s still better than any of the later Transformers based cartoons at least.

Is it Worth Keeping? yes
Rating: 5.5/10

DVD of the Day #361 - WWE Extreme Rules 2009

Saturday, December 26th, 2009

I rented this from Netflix for one reason - to see Tommy Dreamer win the ECW world title and for a few minutes pretend the real ECW is still alive and well. Of course considering ECW has basically become the Captain Charisma show, I can’t complain too much as much like the real ECW it gives us the best angles and longest matches. Anyway, there were a bunch of matches besides that one on this disc.

1. Kofi Kingston Vs. William Regal Vs. MVP Vs Matt Hardy. It appears at the time of the PPV Matt hardy is heel again (Obviously it wasn’t for long) and this was Kofi’s first US title defense. A title he would eventually lose to The Miz. Fun little match and a good opener. 1/1

2. Chris Jericho Vs. Rey Mysterio in a IC title match. Didn’t Rey lose his mask to Kevin Nash over a decade ago? How did he get it back? Obvious Rey still has his mask but Jericho makes most anything better. Great promo by Jericho before the match. Jericho gets the title and the mask. Yet Rey still wears a mask after this match. Rey also has a huge ass bald spot here when he is unmasked. Jericho > Rey. 2/2

3. Umaga Vs. CM Punk. Samoan Strap Match. Strap matches are awful. Umaga is awful. I think this was his last match in the WWE. 2/3

4. ECW title: Christian Vs. Tommy Dreamer Vs Jack Swagger. If Tommy Dreamer loses, he retires from wrestling. A lot of people thought this was going to be Dreamer’s last match but a lot of old school ECW fans were hoping it was a chance to reward one of the nicest and most loyal men in the history of the business thank god the right booking decision was made. It’s just too bad Joey Styles wasn’t calling this match, but Matt Striker makes the best announcing call of the year. “Thomas James Laughlin is the ECW Champion and for one moment…all is right with the world.” Unless you grew up with ECW, you can’t understand how true that statement is. 3/4.

Also, they call this a HARDCORE match instead of an “Extreme Rules Match.” Thank you. It’s the little things that count.

5. Vickie Guerrero Vs. Santina Marella in a hogpen match. Fuck this shit. 3/5.

6. Orton Vs. Batista for the WWE Championship in a Steel Cage match. Yeah. Two guys that can’t wrestle in a Steel Cage. usually this spells disaster and this is no difference. 3/6

7. John Cena Vs. Big Show in a submission match. Another match that is as awful on paper as it is to watch. Seriously, how is Cena over? Why does he have fans and a push? Why does he job less than Hogan in the 1980’s? Boring as shit. 3/7.

8. Edge Vs Jeff Hardy for the World Championship in a ladder match. Ten years later and these two can still give us an amazing match involving a ladder. This was the best match to end the feud as well as this PPV. Thank god is broke the streak of three awful matches. 4/8

9. Jeff Hardy Vs. CM Punk. Yeah Punk! Use your straightedge power to defeat the evil of meth users! Oh the angry fans. 5/9.

Overall, this was worth watching for the ladder match and the ECW title match, but that’s it.

Is It Worth Keeping? no.
Rating: 5.5/10

DVD of the Day #360 - Yu Yu Hakusho Season 4

Friday, December 25th, 2009

Well, here we go. We’ve finished up one of the longest anime series ever - all 115 or so episodes. I have to admit I loved this series from beginning to end as all the characters were a lot of fun and oddly enough no one died or turned emo or became dark and gritty. if anything, the opposite happened, which is one of the reasons I ended up buying the whole damn series. It’s just a really fun show that blends action, drama, comedy and violence.

In this volume, we finish the war of the spirit detectives saga, we learn who Urameshi’s father is and see Urameshi die for a second time only to be reborn into something far more powerful and dangerous. There’s a great scene where he rises in his new demonic glory and everyone is whigged out that he’s a bad guy now thanks to an ominous super-villain-esque speech, only to have him then crack and joke and show that he’s the same old Yusuke. This ends in a really dark and homoerotic turn which threw me for a loop. it was the weakest of all the storylines but still an interesting one.

From there we get the final storyline, which is the war for Demon World (Hell). Instead of being a three way dance between the three leaders of Demon World, one dies and leaves Yusuke his territory. Yusuke then goads the other two leaders into disbanding their territory and having everyone fight in a winner becomes president of demon world tournament. This was a lot of fun and gave us battle after battle where I never would have guessed the winner. I had a lot of fun with this and was floored by the original winner who I never saw coming. I absolutely loved this ended as it really made not just the storyline, but the entire show for me.

In the end all the main characters live and find happiness and just go on living their lives as people are meant to. A wonderfully simple end to a pretty complex and intense anime series.

This was definitely worth the addition to my library and I’m sure I’ll be revisiting this series over the years.

Is it Worth Keeping? Very much so.
Rating: 6.5/10

DVD of the Day #359 - The Brave and the Bold Volume #2

Thursday, December 24th, 2009

Whoo! more awesome Brave and the Bold animated goodness. As it’s only four episodes a disc I am holding off buying this until all of season one is on dvd in a collection, but for now, it’s a total Netflix rental.

For those that don’t know, this animated series takes the best aspects of the 90’s Batman: The Animated Series and the old 1960’s campy Adam West Batman into a super mega awesome cartoon with the best of both worlds. In fact, the costume Batman has in this is the same one from the live action show. I actually prefer the blue and grey with the yellow oval to the all black crap they have him wear these days.

Episode 1 short: Batman and Guy Gardner vs. generic alien
Episode 1 feature: Green Arrow, Etrigan and Batman Vs. Morgana Le Fay

Episode 2 short: Batman and B’Wana Beast vs. Black Manta
Episode 2 feature: Batman and Wildcat Vs. Black Lightning, metamorpho and Katana

Episode 3 short: Batman and Kamandi vs. rat people
Episode 3 feature: Batman, Green Arrow, Speedy and Deadman Vs. Gentleman Ghost

Episode 4 short: Batman and TED F’N KORD Vs generic bad guys
Episode 4 feature: Batman and Blue Beetle III Vs….Ted Kord?

All in all, this series continues to be amazing and the best Batman anything since Batman: Mask of the Phantasm. I actually can’t think of a super hero cartoon I prefer to this. I love the use of obscure heroes and villains and having a happy non psychotic Batman again. Everyone needs to see this show.

Is it Worth keeping? yes, but not until the full season is out
Rating: 9/10

2009 Diehard GameFAN Staff Commentaries

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

Several of our staff give their Top Ten Games of 2009.

DVD of the Day #358 - Sex Drive

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

Dan suggested I watch this but both the name and the plot seemed rather stupid to me. Still, Dan and I tend to like the same comedies like Eurotrip, Super Troopers and the like, but his love of Soul Plane made me worry this would fall under that slight difference column that we have. Well thankfully this turned out to be pretty hilarious and it’s something I’ll have to buy someday when it isn’t on netflix streaming.

I should point out this is the hilarious unrated version which is just like the original film except it randomly inserts naked women into the film, making fun of other “unrated” comedies that have like 5 seconds of T&A to justify the higher price tag.

Ian is an 18 year old nerd who works at a donut store where he has to wear this hilarious costume that people like to stick a cock and balls on for some reason. No one wants to fuck him and his best friend is a hot gothie chick named felicia who has no interest in him and his only real lead is a girl he knows on the Internet called Ms. Tasty. Ms. Tasty suggests that Ian come down to Knoxville from Chicago so they have crazy sex for the sake of crazy sex. Ian, being a putz is down and along with his creepy buddy Lance that somehow scores constantly, they steal a car belonging to Ian’s older brother and head south for some sexiing.

If course it doesn’t go that smoothly and Ian has to let Felicia come with and eventually the car has some issues and they have to deal with the Amish during Rumspringa (WHOOOO!). Seth Green has his best role yet as a sarcastic amish dude. It’s awesome justfor that. And the donut with a penis sequence.

This is a really fun comedy and I’m still surprised it made me laugh as hard as it did. At least Netflix streaming on the PS3 was now batting .500 in terms of quality films. Well, as much as a raunchy comedy can be called quality.

Is it Worth keeping? I did eventually buy it a month later when it was on sale for under ten bucks….

Rating: 7.5/10