Archive for » November, 2010 «

Monday, November 29th, 2010 | Author: Casey Criswell

My big dirty secret? I’ve been a smoker for a long time. Most people knew it. Some people I tried to keep it from but I’m sure the ashtray smell gave me away. You know what though? It doesn’t matter.

I’ve been a non smoker for exactly 1 month now.

It’s been hard. Actually, it’s been really damn hard. But I’ve gotten through. I’ve had my good times, I’ve had my bad times, but I like to think the good have outnumbered the bad. (Uh…don’t ask about Yesterday. It was a bad day.) All the same; it’s done. I’ve tried quitting before but I’ve always caved. The difference between now and then is that this time, I have it set firmly in my head that I’m done with that shit. I don’t need it. I don’t want it.

There’s a good number of things that have led up to the decision, among them a health scare for my dad who smoked for forty some years and kicked the habit. I’m also tired of being tired. Tired of spending the money. Tired of smelling like an ashtray. Tired of being out of breath. Tired of being out of shape. The last year and a month or so have been a trans-formative one for me and this is the next step. I’m rather excited about it to be honest!

In the meantime, my brain? Yah, it’s pretty frazzled and it’s often times hard to concentrate. Hence the lack of writing for the last month. But, I’ll get back to it. Not to worry. (As if you were!) Some days are easier, some days are a bitch. The patch and my gum, they help. Except when I have to shave my hairy arms to get the nicotine patches to stick, that’s another story!

Stride Gum: It’s my Anti-Drug!

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Monday, November 29th, 2010 | Author: Casey Criswell

Ah, the holidays. The perfect time to sit around with family and catch up on some flicks. Which was exactly what I did! This time around however, I set my dad up with access to my Netflix Instant account on his Nintendo Wii and well…he couldn’t be happier. Since dad’s an action sort of guy and I had yet to have seen the Boondock Saints, it seemed like a great way to break in the service for him. Turns out, that was a good hunch!

The Boondock Saints – I honestly can’t tell you why I put this movie off for so long. I think it suffered a bit from the “Lebowski” syndrome; I watched about 10 minutes once and just didn’t get it. So I shut it off. Much like the “Lebowski”, now that I got myself to sit through it once, I freaking loved it! Flanery and Reedus were both great and the movie had a healthy sense of humor as well as a nice little world built around it where these two could roll around Boston doling out their own sense of judgment.

What about Willem Dafoe you ask? The man is completely and utterly creepy and it shoes here in this movie. That’s what makes him such a great actor though! The way they introduced him as quirky at first and progressively made him spiral more and more into darkness and oddity was great.

The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day – Now; I know a lot of die hard fans hated this sequel. For my viewing the morning after watching the first? I didn’t mind it at all. The story continued on well without feeling like a forced plot turn and the brothers were on par as normal. I would have hoped for more of Billy Connolly this time around, but you don’t always get what you want. On the other side of the coin, I myself enjoyed the inclusion of Julie Benz though her southern accent was a bit…grating. She copped off of Dafoe’s investigation style a bit too much as well and her flair for stiletto heels was a bit weird too. But, she did all right. She looked pretty great in her cowgirl duds too!

Assault on Precinct 13 – I’m a Carpenter fan. I think he has a lot of great flicks. Definitely some classics. “Assault of Precinct 13″ isn’t one of them however. I had seen the remake some time ago and I thought it was all right for an action movie. I always like to see the originals when I can for a good comparison and well…it just doesn’t add up for me. Mind you, the acting is okay and the plot is pretty close to the remake. My problems lie in the dreadfully slow pacing and what seems like tons of wasted time in scenes. In what feels like a full minute, we watch as Ethan Bishop saunters slowly down the sidewalk to his patrol car and then fumbles with his keys as he gets ready to start his shift. Next, we watch for what feels like minutes as he drives through the city. The movie is full of scenes like that that linger on for too long and feel like filler. For myself, this leads to disappointment and boredom which is never good in an action movie.

Sunday, November 28th, 2010 | Author: Casey Criswell

I’ve been enjoying the hell out of AMC’s “The Walking Dead Series”. Unfortunately, it’s a short season. I’m not too worried though because I have George R. R. Martin’s “Game of Thrones” series coming to HBO.

Its been a few years since I last read a Martin book. They’re great fantasy fare to be sure but they are DENSE. (As in thickness, not intelligence.) I do remember most of the main cast and plot lines however. Being honest, I’ve yet to read the last book. With the speed at which Martin’s writing though, it’s okay. I’ve got a few years yet before the next one releases.

Anyways…

With HBO’s track record and the preview clips that keep coming out, it looks like it could be a pretty grand affair. The cast looks stellar; Sean Bean as Eddard Stark? Hell yes! Lena Heady as Cersei Lannister? Rawr. Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister? Hell yes again!

So far, I’m enjoying the hell out of the recent spate of my favorite books being turned into TV Series. If the Syfy Channel ever gets their ass in gear with that rumored Forever War mini-series? I may pee a little.

Friday, November 19th, 2010 | Author: Casey Criswell

Unless you live in a cave, you’re well aware that the excellent AMC series The Walking Dead has been going full stream and I’m fully in love with it. To sing it’s praises, this past week I joined Charlie and Jessie over at Rebound Radio’s Talking Deadcast to go over this past week’s episode, “Tell it to the Frogs”, in depth!

Be sure to check out the show which is now in sitting in your iTunes! Be sure to check out the other show’s over at Rebound Radio, there’s a pretty great group of bloggers and podcasters at work over there!

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Thursday, November 18th, 2010 | Author: Casey Criswell

I’ve been a fan of Jon Favreau since “Swingers”, a face that was only made concrete with the last two “Iron Man” movies. What can I say, they were a blast and Favreau’s got an eye for action! Now, he’s going to make a movie pitting Aliens invading the old west? Why the hell not, I’ll be there opening weekend! That’s without seeing the trailer!

Now the trailer above? It looks pretty great. Space ships, explosions, etc. Plus you get the grandfather of campy action Harrison Ford, Daniel Craig who’s proved himself as a bonafied Bond and you get Sam Rockwell in there too!

I’ll be seeing you all at the theater when this opens next July (per IMDb). In the meantime, share your thoughts on the new trailer below!

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Sunday, November 14th, 2010 | Author: Casey Criswell

Well, it’s the weekend again. A time to tune out, take it easy and recoup from the week previous. In case you couldn’t guess; for me that means watching movies.

In recent weeks we’ve had a change to arrangements at the Cinema Fromage offices. Namely, my daughter no longer has a PC in her room and now shares the office with dad. This is good for a lot of reasons of course. It does cut into my standard ‘Daddy’s going into the office to watch a scary movie plan. Can’t go in there to watch a flick when she’s in there playing Wizard 101, now can I.

All in all, not a big deal really. It just gives me an excuse to catch some more mainstream/classic movies that I’ve been meaning to watch. As you can see from the cover collage above, this resulted in an eclectic mix of movies for this week’s roundup.

Every Which Way But Loose – I was probably eight years old the last time I saw “Every Which Way But Loose”. I was reading a message board thread recently where folks were talking about this movie in a favorable light and it dawned on me I couldn’t tell you what the movie was about if I had to. A little digging turned the movie up and it turns out, it’s still pretty enjoyable thirty years down the line!

What’s not to love? It’s a country and western themed look at Clint Eastwood traveling the country side drinking beer and fighting. With his Orangutan no less. All for a little lass in a skin tight sequin lined polyester jump suit. It’s a fun flick with some really corny jokes. And a young Beverly D’Angelo.

Grown Ups – I can take Adam Sandler or leave him. He’s got some good flicks, he’s got some stinkers. With “Grown Ups” I figured it would be a run of the mill formulaic Sandler comedy. It still is pretty run of the mill to be honest, but there’s some great laughs in here. The cast works great together which shouldn’t be a surprise. It’s pretty much half of the SNL cast that was still top notch back in the late 80′s.

Nostalgia could play a large part of the enjoyment of “Grown Ups”. While we never had a coach named Buzzer who took us to a city championship, I do have a group of friends that I grew up with and still keep in touch with, just like in the movie! You can even draw a lot of comparisons between each friend and a different character in the movie. I’m certain that was their point though; to make the situation and characters identifiable. So kudos to them!

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off – Who doesn’t love Ferris? Waking up on a Sunday morning, the newish “Ferris Bueller” Blu-ray seemed like a natural flick to kick off a lazy Sunday afternoon. It’s a movie you’ve seen a million times so you already know all the nuances. So you can set and watch for a bit, get up and throw a load in the dishwasher while the movie plays in the other room and you can still keep up with it. Because you’ve already got it memorized!

That said, it’s still a blast.

I should also note: I may or may not have thrown “Ferris” in because I’m reliving my childhood crush on Jennifer Grey thanks to Dancing With the Stars. What can I say, she’s still got it.

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Thursday, November 11th, 2010 | Author: Casey Criswell

I was highly entertained by Ian Edginton and Davide Fabbri’s recent “Victorian Undead” series that pit the genius of Sherlock Holmes against Moriarty and a host of zombie pawns. It was fun, they capture the essence of Holmes quite well and made for a great little mini series. So, I was both surprised and excited when I found a copy of Victorian Undead II: Sherlock Homes Vs. Dracula on my doorstep yesterday! After all, Holmes and Watson are great in their own right and it’s fun to see them take on various monsters and such, right?

From the publishers:
“A year after the defeat of Professor Moriarty’s revenant horde and the fire-bombing of London, restoration is well under way. Yet, from across the sea, ancient eyes cast their hungry gaze upon the still vulnerable capital…Dracula is coming!

Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson investigate the wreck of the ship, the Demeter – its crew missing, the corpse of its Captain lashed to the ship’s wheel – and soon realize this is merely the opening salvo of war from beyond the grave! Don’t miss this start to a bloodthirsty new 5-issue miniseries!”

This first issue? It’s a nice setup. We get to watch Holmes feel smug about his recent victory over Moriarty in the first mini series. We also get a nice creepy little setup for this new foray into the tales of Dracula. At first it seemed as if they were going to bring Dracula into London with the thread bare story of being brought over in a ship board cargo full of dirt a la “Nosferatu” and any number of Vampire stories. Edginton hits us on the final notes of issue #1 with a nice little weighty twist that brings Vlad to the fore front and ties him in with some royal intrigue. All in all, pretty nice.

Set for a five issue run, this mini series hits shelves November 12th and will cost you a mere $3.99. Considering the enjoyment I got from the “Holmes Vs. the Undead” mini? It’s well worth your $4.

Tuesday, November 09th, 2010 | Author: Casey Criswell

It really can’t be a surprise that I’ve long been enamored with the horror genre. I mean…look at the website you’re reading! What isn’t quite as well known is my fascination with animation. (Oh hey, that rhymed!) To put it frankly; I love the stuff. The love affair began like it did for many, the subversive humor of Bug Bunny and Looney Tunes. I mean…it doesn’t get much better than that, right?

To dig deeper, there are a lot of facets to animation that draw me into the format. The biggest and most glaring angle here is that the creators can go far beyond standard in their projects. Especially when compared to a live action package. You can have things like common sea creatures wandering around the sea floor bothering squids. You can have fantastical worlds that a live action budget would prevent you from building, crazy physics and all sorts of stuff. If you haven’t caught on; this brings us around in a long meandering way to Comedy Central’s “Ugly Americans Season 1” DVD.

I’ll admit; I ignored “Ugly Americans” when it aired originally. Sure, the art looked fine and it seemed it would be right up my alley, but I just wasn’t drawn to it. I do love some adult themed animation. (I’ll go off on my rampant love for “The Venture Brothers” and “Archer” on another day) “Ugly Americans” seemed like it should be a perfect fit since it involved monsters as well. It just didn’t enough interest at first. Of course, this could stem from my general disinterest in Comedy Central as a whole too. Finally the first season was released on DVD and though it only weighs in at 7 episodes, it’s a pretty fun diversion.

The setup is simple; the doors of hell are open and the world is populated by millions of monsters, demons, zombies and more. Our loveable star Mark Lilly is a straight up average American working at the Department of Integration, tasked with helping teach the monster types out to live in regular society. This sets up each episode with various situations to deal with a different monster and trying to fit in, be it Mark and his half demon girlfriend and her demon problems, getting giant tree people to mate, or Mark’s life with a zombie roommate.

As a whole, the first season isn’t bad. I’d say it’s even enjoyable. It lacks any kind of edge that ranks it up there with the shocking and often times insulting humor that most cartoons of its ilk bring to the table. Perhaps it’s the point, it does fit in with the story line after all, but “Ugly Americans” seems to be rather mundane in it’s dealings with awkward out of place monsters in stead of drop dead hilarious. Don’t get me wrong; there’s plenty here to laugh and the story is enjoyable too. It’s just nothing ground breaking. Most of the jokes they hit on have been done at some point in time by other shows, just in different settings. Maybe it’s the fact that there is nothing historical in nature to compare the show to such as “The Venture Brothers” and their constant twisting of the “Johnny Quest” tropes or “Archer’s” vulgarity filled take on the spy genre. With monsters, they generally kill maim and slaughter. As for the jokes of forcing them into awkward real life situations, you can look to just about any horror satire and see the same setups.

Don’t take this as me steering you away from “Ugly Americans”; I liked it and there’s plenty to enjoy. Just temper your expectations for more of an average sit-com instead of some ground breaking humor and you’ll be all right.

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Tuesday, November 09th, 2010 | Author: Casey Criswell

Over the past 10 weeks, the lit zine The Great and Secret Thing has been running my serial story “The Fat Man and his Dog” in weekly installments. As of yesterday, they have published the final chapter to the story in it’s current form, “The Fat Man and his Dog Pt. 10 – Goodbye”!

While the story has been written for awhile, it’s been fun seeing the story being run in it’s entirety in a new place online. It would be more fun if I got any feedback on the story at all but, whaddyagonna do?

At any rate, the journeys of the Fat Man and his Dog are now done for awhile. There are more stories in this fantasy tinged little world being cooked up. If you’ve been keeping up with the story so far, I can’t promise with the next chapter in the portly duo’s adventures will come. I can just promise that they are coming!

You can read entire saga over at The Great and Secret Thing. If you have read it all, I’d love any feedback you’re willing to give, positive or negative! As an author, this story stretches a bit outside my comfort zone, so I have no real internal scale on which to judge!

So read on, enjoy! Stay tuned for more!

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Monday, November 08th, 2010 | Author: Casey Criswell

The Xbox world has been graced with a bunch of new titles as of late. For the consummate gamer, it’s been a good time! I was recently disappointed by the length of Lucas Arts’ latest Force Unleashed venture so my take on the latest slate of games was a bit bleak. Thankfully, Namco came out with Enslaved: Odyssey to the West which promised a lot of platforming combat and got the message boards talking. Being a big fan of blindly bashing stuff and climbing walls in new and interesting ways in my video games, I decided to give it a shot.

To dive straight in here, Enslaved is pretty great all around. The graphics and environments are top notch. The combat can be a bit repetitive over time but at it’s base, it’s solid so that makes it pretty decent. The platforming portion is good; it’s varied and mixes in a lot of well thought out puzzles to work through. There’s two pieces that make this game good though; the story and the motion capture used to bring our main characters Monkey and Trip to life.


You all remember Andy Serkis right? The guy that brought Gollum to life and has proven himself to be a master of the motion capture arts? Well, he’s at it again as the man of the hour, Monkey. Everything from facial expressions to body movements are top notch and help to pull you in. Joining him his Lindsey Shaw as Trip. If you have young ones in your house, you may recognize Ms. Shaw from “Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide”. If you don’t have kids, you may not know her so well. She does a great job though as trip!

As for the story, Enslaved throws us into a post apocalyptic future where we join Monkey and Trip as they try and escape from a slave ship. Based loosely on the Chinese novel “Journey to the West”, this disastrous setting is our own. The game opens in the overgrown wastes of New York City. Trip wants to get home to her father who is over three hundred miles away. Knowing she can’t make the trip on her own, she slips a slave control band on an unconscious Monkey and forces her to help him home. The character dynamics between Serkis and Shaw are top notch. You’ll find yourself feeling sorry for the two as you play along. You’ll even find yourself laughing quite a bit too. It’s not all heavy handed drama here.

As for game play, we spend the entirety of the game as Monkey helping Trip to get home. The two work together to solve various puzzles and make their way through the ruins of the city. Throwing in the concept of using two characters to make their way through the game is a nice change to the standard run and gun or ‘parkour’ antics of other games. Large parts of it are pretty straight forward but you will spend quite a bit of time sitting back to think your way through a given situation.

While nothing earth shattering, Enslaved: Odyssey to the West is a solid single player game that will scratch quite a few itches. You’ll have some thinking to do, a story to enjoy and some bots to beat the crap out of. What more do you need for your daily dosage of escapism?

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