This week’s challenge was to come up with a mummy design based on the film The Evil Dead. This is a tie-in to the new movie being released. The contestents are surprised with a visit from Bruce Campbell, who warns that the new movie is darker than the original and that they should keep that in mind while they work. Each person must choose a design based around an Egyptian god. There’s a little bit of yawn-inducing drama as the contestants talk about how much they miss their families, but it’s thankfully brief and nowhere near past episodes. After the sculpts are done and last looks are over, the results are revealed. Eric F.’s version of Ra is awesome and should have won, but the judges choose Kris’s ram god Knhum. Wayne’s crocodile god falls squarely in the middle. On the bottom are House, with a scribe god, and also Anthony (how far the mighty have fallen). I thought they’d be crazy to cut Anthony and I’m right – it’s House that gets the axe. All the designs were good this week – the judges hated to have to choose a loser. One more episode before the finale…
After what has seemed like an eternity, Grimm has returned to the airwaves. One of my three favorite shows from last year, Grimm take on the fairy tale genre in fresh, modern, and violent way. With an ensemble cast of veteran actors, including Silas Weir Mitchell (Prison Break), Reggie Lee (Prison Break, No Ordinary Family) and Sasha Roiz (Caprica, Warehouse 13), the story revolves around Portland police detective Nick Burkhardt, who is a direct descendant of the legendary Grimm family, hunters of frightening beasts. Investigating brutal murders often leads Nick to discover a Wesen (a supernatural creature that appears human but is actually a animal-based humanoid that can only be seen in their natural form by a Grimm. When Nick’s Aunt Marie showed up in the first season, she accelerated the process, and Nick began to use his new-found abilities to hunt down and capture or kill Wesen. The main characters are his partner, Hank; his girlfriend, Juiliette; Renard (Roiz), the police captain who is secretly a Wesen himself; Sgt. Wu (Lee); Monroe (Mitchell), a wolf Wesen who Nick befriends, and Rosalee, a spice shop owner and Monroe’s love interest. Loaded with mystery, action, decent special effects, and a great cast, I always looked forward with great anticipation to new episodes.
After an outstanding first season that did become a bit repetitive in its serial Nick-and-Monroe-hunt-down-the-killer-of-the-week format, the second season left that format and began to explore the underlying main plot, which took the show to new heights. However, as the show wound up for its long hiatus, I was incredibly frustrated with the way the writing began to devolve. An ill-advised side plot featuring Renard and Juliette having a love affair (along with Juliette losing her memories of Nick) due to a magic potion, combined with a sudden and inexplicable inability for characters to communicate with one another (done awkwardly to advance the plot), had me wondering if the show had lost its mojo. I wasn’t alone in my concern, as many fan boards were expressing the same sentiments. I watched “Face Off” with great relief, however, as it made baby steps in rectifying these problems. Communication among the characters gets better, the Renard-Juliette side plot is almost over, and the action returns fast and furious with the confrontation between Nick and Renard that has been building for most of the season.
When Nick finds out that Renard has taken a key given to Nick by his Aunt Marie, the two square off in a great fight scene, with Renard revealing he is Wesen. Renard reveals he is a Royal, the ruling family of the Wesen, but is also aligned with the Resistance, a group fighting the Royals. Renard believes the Royals are evil, and he wants to establish Portland as a safe place for Wesen from the Royals (this somewhat helps explain why there are so many Wesen in Portland). It’s a great sequence, because now there’s tension from Nick being unsure about whether he can trust Renard, but also from the fact that he is (and has been) taking orders from a Wesen. You can already see little moments in which Nick challenges orders from his captain that he normally would have followed.
The return of Rosalee was also welcome – I enjoy her character a great deal and she seems to have come up with an antidote for the love potion. Here’s to hoping the show gets back on track and becomes better than ever…
Note: since this show is filmed in Portland, I like to try to figure out where certain scenes are shot, and I would love to answer a casting call to be an extra…
For this week’s foundation challenge, the contestants were asked to create a zombie horde capable of stepping onto the set of The Walking Dead. After a hectic attempt by each team to create 20 zombies in two and a half hours, Meagan and Anthony come out on top, with Meagan taking top honors and earning immunity.
On to the spotlight challenge, where the contestants are tasked to create a werewolf inspired by a planet. That sounds like a stupid idea, and it turns out I’m right, because this week’s efforts are a little lacking. Wayne and Kris come up with the best design, while Anthony and Eirc F. are in the bottom. The worst look of the night, however, belongs to Autumn and Eric Z., with Autumn being eliminated for her arrogance and for carving yet another face that looks like a pig. Finally the last annoying contestant is cut, and we’ve got ourselves a real contest now…
It’s been a rough couple weeks at work, with my boss out for a few days, my lead technician out for two weeks, and another technician out sick a couple of days…end result is 12-13 hour days for me and very little time for TV watching & reviewing. I have managed to complete 67% of Slither, and should have a review up maybe this weekend, but Against All Things Ending has been difficult so far due to pacing issues. Things should be back to normal next week…
These books have just arrived and I’ve added the non-art volumes to the queue:
Having finally gone to see The Hobbit this past weekend, I’m probably the next-to-last person to do so. I’ve been so busy lately that I kept putting it off until I finally realized that if I didn’t see it soon, it would be gone from the big screen, and this is one of those epic movies that gives you a much different experience on the big screen than on a TV. Although I enjoy 3-D movies, I wasn’t sure I wanted to wear the glasses for 3 hours, and I had no desire to see the 48 fps – it just looks wrong. So my buddy Kelly & I chose a standard 24 fps, non 3-D showing in a small living room theater at Cinetopia. I found a nice, over-stuffed chair, ordered a pulled pork sandwich and a wild berry slushy, and settled in. Since we were there early, we watched the “making of” documentary for a good 30 minutes or so, which I love (as if you couldn’t tell by my fascination with Face Off’s makeup effects).
Finally the movie started. There was a brief bit of flak during the early moments of the movie when somebody behind us started taking flash pictures of the screen with their phone. After some threatening looks from the rest of us, and someone making a trip to the usher to complain, people settled down and we were able to enjoy the movie. Nearly 3 hours later, we left to head home and talked about the movie for pretty much the entire 30 minute drive. Kelly & I both approached it differently; I was the one who had read Tolkien’s books many years ago as a teenager and had enjoyed the LotR movies (with a few minor complaints), while Kelly had never read the books and didn’t really care for the LotR movies (he said there was too much walking and fighting). I was also bringing in some preconceptions based on a number of bad reviews I had read online, centered around the movie not following the book, and that the new story lines were out of place.
The verdict from both of us was that it was an excellent movie. Not flawless, mind you, but thoroughly enjoyable. For Kelly, it was easy for him to say it was better than LotR, because that trilogy was very serious, apocalyptic, and boring to him. What he liked in The Hobbit was magic, light-heartedness, and a sense of wonder at seeing another world. I’m not inclined to disagree. Nothing will top Fellowship for me, which I felt was pretty much perfect except for the omission of the barrow wights. I will always remember the thrill of Fellowship unfolding visually just as I had imagined it. The Hobbit, however, comes pretty darn close. Based on reviews I had read, I thought I would hate the new inclusions – Radagast, the pale orc, the rock giants…but as it turns out, I loved nearly every minute of it. The only thing I didn’t really care for was the Goblin King’s voice, which sounded a little too cultured for me, and the “council” of Elrond, Gandalf, Galadriel, and Saruman. I would have preferred to have seen a prologue involving the Witch-King of Angmar’s defeat by the Dunedain, in order to set up the story of the Necromancer…instead this is explained by the council. Otherwise I very much enjoyed the movie. It’s everything LotR is not – as it should be. I can see how some people would be upset that the movie is not a literal translation of the book through film – but I’m not one of them.
In my youth I played MERPS – the Middle Earth Role Playing System, or the LotR equivalent of Dungeons and Dragons. It gave players the means to see an expanded vision of Tolkien’s world – to create a character that never existed in the books but could have, to explore ruins like Weathertop, and to face enemies such as the Witch King of Angmar, the Necromancer, or even Shelob. Each adventure booklet contained a wealth of material that, like some of new story lines in The Hobbit, were hinted at by Tolkien but never realized. That makes me one of the least critical people when it comes to introducing new material into The Hobbit. What Peter Jackson has done with this movie is establish a consistent look and feel, and though not totally true to the book, it captures the book’s spirit of adventure. If you can choose to believe there is a wonderful story to be told here, that doesn’t have to follow the book and can look into more of Tolkien’s universe, and even introduce new story lines, I highly recommend this movie.
Broadcast date: Tuesday, Jan. 22nd, 2013
No Foundation Challenge this week, straight to the Spotlight Challenge. The contestants are whisked away to Comic Con in San Diego, where they are tasked to create an original superhero. Anthony continues to show some amazing talent despite having a major prop malfunction. Aside from Anthony and Eric, all the other entries were awful. I hope they get better, otherwise this will be a tough season to watch. They really could have used some mentoring from Michael Westmore. These were my favorite looks:
This was the worst of the worst:
Look for “The Molten Core” to appear in an upcoming DC Comics issue in the future…
I’m not sure what it is about the human condition that compels someone to collect things. Maybe it’s a need to connect to the past; maybe it’s for aesthetics or an outward display of personality; it might even be the need to fulfill childhood desires that were never realized. It could also simply be showing an interest in something appealing. Most likely however, it’s a combination of one or more of these reasons. Although I collect many things, I don’t consider myself a hoarder – hoarding is the excessive acquisition of items and the failure to use or discard the items. I just have a lot of interests, so finding space for things can be a challenge. These are the types of things I collect:
Glass floats and nautical-themed items. When I was a teenager, my great grandfather was killed in an accident. When it came time to settle his estate, the relatives all bickered over who should get what, since there was no will. Despondent at the loss of my great grandfather and the bickering, I sat on the curb in front of the house, unsure of why I had come. My grandfather brought out a box. “These are things nobody wants,” he said. “Why don’t you look through it and see if there’s anything you’d like.” I did, and found some nice Japanese glass floats in macrame hangers that my great grandmother had made. Though those floats were destroyed by my brothers when I later went off to the military, to this day glass floats and other nautical items remind me of my great grandfather, as well as speaking to the Pisces within me. Living only a couple of hours from the Pacific Ocean gives me lots of opportunities to acquire these…some are the size of a silver dollar, while I have some that are over a foot in diameter.
The second thing I began collecting was Snoopy/Peanuts items. After I had left the military, my friend Kelly encouraged me to find collect something I liked, and I had like Peanuts as a kid. Before there was eBay, the only way to really find stuff was in Goodwill or yard sales. I began buying up lots of Peanuts gear over the years, but have since scaled back the collection…I now only buy a few statues and figurines a year. Last year I took 4 boxes of stuff to Goodwill to thin out the collection.
Beer Tap Handles (also called tap markers or pulls). Many tap handles are plain, made of wood or resin with a label. At a garage sale one day, I picked up a Coors Beer Wolf tap handle, and a collection was born. I try to focus on figural taps, although I have bought a few just for the label. Sometimes I buy group purchases of tap handles, and I have no problem getting rid of ones that don’t suit my tastes. I have a tap handle blog, where I take pictures of each tap and provide some history about the brewery, as well as eBay price info. You can find that blog at www.beertaps.blogspot.com.
Old radios. I admit I’m a sucker for old radios, with their glowing faces, glowing tubes, and gorgeous art deco mahogany or cherry cabinets. I’ll also throw Victrola and Edison cabinets in the category as well. If they need a little bit of work, that’s okay, I enjoy that too. One of my Victrola cabinets is from my grandmother, and one of my radios is from my dad, which gives them sentimental value.
Board Games. I like them, all kinds – from classic games with a themed twist – like Star Wars Life – to cthulu-based horror games like Arkham Horror – to obscure and rare games like Voice of the Mummy (it talks!). I don’t know why I’m so fascinated with them, more so than card games or video games…I just am.
Fantasy-based Statues. These range from Lord of the Rings and Narnia pieces produced by Weta, to Magic the Gathering statues by Randy Bowen, to Disney-produced Indiana Jones items (based on the Temple of the Forbidden Eye in Disneyland), to Red Sonja. I find that surrounding myself with these items provides mood and theme when I’m writing.
Steampunk. I love Steampunk gadgets and devices, and I’m building a Steampunk time machine. I have only a few Steampunk pieces so far – a 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea waterglobe from Disney, as well as some brass navigational pieces.
That gives you glimpse into my various collections. Sometime later this year I’ll post more extensive pictures of the collection…
Who doesn’t like pictures of puppies, right?
As I mentioned in a previous post, I obtained 2 Australian Shepherd puppies back in November. Kodiak is a black tri-color male and was 4 months old; Little Bear is a red bi-color male and was 2 months old. They are now both a couple months older and a great addition to our “pack”. Here’s some photos of the boys:
Broadcast Date: Tuesday, Jan. 15th, 2013
Despite some of the lame drama that happens from time to time, Face-Off is one of the few reality shows I can actually watch and enjoy. With big-name guest judges in the past like Bryan Singer, Kevin Smith, Gale Ann Hurd, and Brian Grazer, the show has put out some amazing effects and discovered some great make-up artists. The format of the show is for the group which starts out at 12 people, has a “foundation challenge” where an individual can earn immunity. Then the spotlight challenge gives artists two days to come up with a look that satisfies the challenge, with an additional 4 hours on the third day, followed by last looks, a final hour of prep. The top 3 looks are chosen, then the bottom 3. One of the bottom 3 goes home each week until only 1 person remains. Besides the fake drama, my only other critique I have is the harshness of the judges – I seriously doubt they have 2.5 days to work their own make-up magic!
This week started the show out great, showing some seriously talented individuals are in the competition this year. The foundation challenge was for each person to create a “queen” from various crowns that were displayed. Some excellent potential was shown here, especially Anthony, who won immunity, and Jenna, who did some beautiful color and make-up. Judging the the foundation challenge was host McKenzie Westmore’s father, renowned make-up artist Michael Westmore, who will also be mentoring the contestants throughout the season. (Sidenote: it seems every season McKenzie gets more beautiful!) Then came the spotlight challenge: making a goblin king based on a terrain element. John Rhys-Davies was the guest judge, who offered thoughtful commentary, and a hilarious rant about how he would never wear prothstetic make-up again. Way to sell the show! These were my favorite looks of the show, with Anthony sweeping the show by winning with the Rock Goblin King on the left:
And this design was a hot mess that deserved to be judged the worst: