Go Ask Alice… Then Turn to Page 38

I’ve gotten a few more paperbacks since last we spoke, all fantasy themed, as usual. Most have been fun to dip into for a spell, but I’ve had the most fun with Johnathan Green‘s Alice’s Nightmare In Wonderland, published by Winged Hussar and Ace Gamebooks. I had to go buy a deck of playing cards at Dollar Tree, but if you have those, or a pair of dice handy, plus a pencil with a good eraser (plus a notepad so you don’t have to deface the book). you’re good to go.

Yes, this is a fine choose your own adventure novel clocking in at 328 pages, and there are plenty of lovely illustrations by Kev Crossley that look like vintage art from the early 1900’s. In fact, the art charmed me so much. I’m sorely tempted to get back to drawing myself, and soon. Fortunately, the plot is pretty good and indeed, this is quite the page turner, with multiple scenarios for everything from deadly combat encounters to fancy tea parties, Mad Hatter included. There’s a bit of hiariously gory content when things go wrong, but if you got a chuckle out of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, you’re pretty much all set here.

The only drawback to this book is it really, really wants you to write in it, making loaning it out a bit tricky, Now, you can do what I did and transcribe certain stat charts to that notepad and pass the book for a friend to play, but that’s up to you, of course. Looking at Ace’s selection of other Gamebooks, I’m tempted to pick another one up to play one of these days, well. once I whittle down the pile of work I’m slowly getting to. Uh, anyone want to borrow a book?

-GW

Crackers

Controversies big and small aside, Phineas Taylor Barnum was quite an interesting guy on a few fronts. “This way to the egress” made me laugh as a well-read kid in grade school who got that little joke and I think that I imagined an egress being some sort of catlike creature one could never quite get a good look at, but everyone would have a description of if asked. You know how that business tends to go, right? Someone asks if you saw the thing and without fail, a person will offer up a thin description that another person will agree with and add to until you have something that might look like a cat (maybe, sort of). No one can agree on the actual size, but sure, it looks like a cat.

Barnum was quite the con man with many successes and failures and even more awful when it came to animal care, but he sure could pack in the crowds for better or worse. The whole egress stuff came about when the folks who came to see his exhibits were sticking around a wee bit too long and he wanted to free up space fast. Granted, it’s entirely possible that a few smarter attendees to his museum knew what an egress was and maybe didn’t fall for the ruse. But I’d like to think that given the rather non-clever state of today’s rubes, people back then were about as smart as they are now. But today, they own assorted computing devices that actually make them less smart because they take too much information they see online as some sort of fact and don’t even consider filtering out the more bizarre things they read.

On another note, I was in the supermarket last week and picking up a box of unsalted tops, I spied a familiar, smaller row of red boxes on a higher shelf. Yes, there were a bunch of Barnum’s Animals staring back at me, now free-roaming without the familiar cage bars. I’ll note that I didn’t like the new artwork, but saw the need for the change. Growing up so long ago, circuses and zoos were part of the childhood routine. But the last time I was at a circus, there were no animals in that big top, and as for zoos, the one up here in the Bronx has gotten a few new attendance rules since the pandemic started. By the way, while I liked those animal crackers as a kid, my preference changed to the Stauffer brand a bit later. That hint of mace and nutmeg did it for me. if you must know.

-GW

Voodoo, Child (Slight Return)

By either direct connection or extension, I know (knew?) quite a few recently deceased people, but I’d like to think some to too many of us do these days. That sort of balancing act is quite the bitch, by the way. One wanting to free up the mind space to be otherwise occupied by more lighter and vastly more entertaining fare gets into quite a tumble with actual reality when a message arrives that someone else has unexpectedly left the building.

Of course, the unmasked killer is still inside the house making collect worldwide phone calls and pretty much having its merry way with the rest of the planet’s tenants. As we’re discovering from assorted news outlets, during last year, response from the recently departed government had been awful, at best. Too many holes in rules state to state meant no national plan despite, as Roddy McDowell in a great Twilight Zone episode once noted, “People Are Alike All Over”.

Of course, it’s just past 4am and I hit publish too soon, but I’d guess you get the point here. Eh, I’m going to go back to bed now. I may re-edit this post later, but there’s a better chance I’ll post something else. We shall see.

Review: Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout (PS4)

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The Chaos Engine, or Circle of Life in action, if you will…

fall-guys-ultimate-knockout-boxartWell, this one’s a pleasant and goofy surprise. Sometimes the silliest and most simple games ideas just work and Mediatronic’s Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout ($19.99 on Steam for PC, Free this month on PSN) reinforces this perfectly. The 60-person enter, one person wins element is pure battle royale insanity (a genre I usually avoid), it’s weaponless mix of puzzle, sporty and trap packed levels offer up some tough and hilarious navigational challenges and overall, it’s just about as good as it gets for a game of its type.

Sure, there are micro-transactions here, but they’re not at all necessary to jump in and start playing. You can get some cool cosmetics with currency earned from just playing the game, or you can pay real money for stuff if you’re in a hurry to look cooler as you fall or get knocked off assorted hazards multiple times. In other words, there are no performance-enhancing purchases here (so far and I hope there won’t be in the future). Besides, the developer and publisher need to make SOME money with this one, but it’s actually nice that PSN users at least get to more or less play free and not choose to pay… well, until they need some of the stupidly cute skins and outfits that pop up.

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It’s all fun and games, especially if someone gets cartoon hurt.

A constantly rotating set of 24 levels means you can’t predict what’s coming, but loads of dying and plenty of practice await. You just need to hope you can survive the chaos as it happens. Yes, there are some super-skilled players out there who can dive and dash through areas and as you play, some tasks get easier to plow through than others. But the lack of voice chat thankfully keeps one’s ears from burning off from what I’d imagine is some hefty amount of creative cursing taking place at some ignominious last second defeats. Although, yours truly actually screamed “Oh, Bugsnax!” at my TV after one terrible but funny loss because I’d exhausted every curse word I knew and that upcoming PS5 game’s name just popped into my head.

Then again, this is a game where you’ll watch someone winning a match and then lose it by accident when a platform vanishes suddenly, or they get beaned by a falling slice of parachuting fruit. Some players seemingly try to take out other players by lurking near an exit (grrrr!) and lunging at them or maybe hoping to be as threatening as a giant jellybean in a funky getup can. It’s all good though – sometimes you get the last laugh (well, until you lose in a future round) when the game decides to drop random survivors at the results screen to get the next stage kicking.

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The Death Dealer, Too

(Thanks, Lex121100!)

Okay, I’m back. Sort of.

It’s been a bit of a rocky ride dealing with a recent demise, especially with a few big companies more or less trying to skimp their way out of paying proper annuity settlements. But we’ll not say more about that at the moment save for there’s a lot of things percolating in the background that need eyes kept on. In the meantime. it’s just been a total stress-fest in the writing department, although I have a small army of reviews in assorted states of completion. They’ll get posted at some point.

I suppose I should/could just be like others who post daily or more frequently and try to blank out the current nonsense in favor of a more rosy outlook, but it’s a bit tough what with all these follies going on in the periphery. That and, hell, every time I see someone here not wearing a mask or carrying one in their hand or a pocket then slapping in on as they walk into a shop, I want to dress up like El Kabong and give them a quick guitar lesson. But I don’t, as dressing like a cartoon horse and bashing folks on the head with a gitbox would probably be too sensible a solution and we just have to keep things crazy here in the US just because.

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Review: Nightmare at Noon (1988)

Home, James

So, if good guys wear black, I guess, uh…

NAN.BR.Cover.72dpiWhile it’s absolutely packed to the hilt with stunts, thrills, and explosions galore (and how!), Nico Mastorakis’ 1988 flick Nightmare at Noon isn’t exactly the brain food of action movies. In fact, if you go in expecting even a decent plot to speak of, your brain may beat you somewhat senseless about two minutes in and turn itself off so it can enjoy the wild ride without you gargling on about what small amount of plot there is. Basically, if you miss the opening credits, there goes the story, and there’s not much there to begin with (and even less if you’re looking).

All you need to know is a secret scientific agency (or not so secret, as they roll around in two black custom vans with their agency’s name on them!) has chosen a small US town to experiment with some nefarious goings-on and it’s up to a handful of gun-totin’ tourists and local heroes to make things right.  So you get Wings Hauser, Bo Hopkins, and Kimberly Beck starring with George Kennedy and Kimberly Ross versus that town full of newly green-blooded raging townspeople and a bunch of well-armed bad guys. A strangely silent Brion James kicks the flick off as the mysterious Albino, but despite all his evil machinations, his total lack of dialog actually hurts the film despite the nearly non-stop action that follows. I gather he was paid enough for bleaching his hair and wearing some contact lenses to make him look albino and decided to charge by the word for dialog or something?

(Thanks, ScreamFactoryTV!)

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Post Toasties

I’d really rather not waste such a good song on such a terminally bad person or group of people, but so it goes. Your tune for this Monday, which I hope is going as well as it should, rose colored blinders on or not:

(Thanks,TheGodfathersVEVO!)

So, we’re officially at this stage of the game now. Morbid humor as a reality check in some areas here, but it’s more a dry, hoarse chuckle from a very tired people at this point because we’re all tied to the couch as loud Uncle Bob starts setting up the old slide projector and has revved up some really bad Borscht Belt jokes to go with the carousel of everlasting pain:

(Thanks, Browingate!)

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July Arrows (Or, What Goes Up Must Come Down In Your Blu-Ray Player)

July is a pretty busy month for Arrow Video and Arrow Academy – here’s all six releases coming your way this month on Blu-Ray:

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ZOMBIE FOR SALE [Blu-ray] (7/7)
BLACK RAINBOW [Blu-ray] (7/7)
INFERNO OF TORTURE [Blu-ray] (7/7)
HIROSHIMA [Blu-ray] (7/14)
BLOODSTONE [Blu-ray] (7/21)
LIFE IS A LONG QUIET RIVER [Blu-ray] (7/21)

Arrow TV

Go make your own fireworks show on Apple TV!

Apple device-owning Arrow TV users are also in for a treat this month, as some of the films here are in this months lineup wit many others they can check out. If that’s you, feel free to check out the channel over at the link provided.
-GW

Trouble (Living With It)

(Thanks, Thomas Barnett!)

So, the latest advice from the government is more or less let your abuser move right on it and sure, too many of you will possibly suffer the negative consequences. But hey, we’ll tell you you’re 99% safe and the economy is more important than staying alive because you can’t live without a little sacrifice. Or a lot of little sacrifices that add up to be a lot more. Maybe. My head hurts at all this sheer negligence going on, especially when a more urgent and actually powerful federal response would have worked better from the outset, but nope. It’s been hands off and putting people who have no scientific knowledge or care to grasp it “in charge” of not keeping millions of others safe. plus muzzling or talking over the science-minded folks when they speak out publicly, along with promoting the brick-headed, stubborn ones who are afraid of rocking a slowly sinking boat and its erratic Captain Queeg.

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Capsule Reviews: Ghost Grab 3000/Singled Out (Switch)

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You can’t be afraid of no ghost when you have the ability to use a nuke as an option.

I’d like to think that Matt Glanville (@crowbarska) has a working time machine permanently set to 1983 he’s not telling anyone about, as his games I’ve played to date all look and play like solid arcade hits of around that time. Switch ‘N’ Shoot is still one of the more thrilling and flawless uses of single-button gameplay I’ve experienced and now you have two more retro-inspired titles to  blast away with, both quite good and deceptively simple on their surfaces, but each will have you hooked in for as long as you’re playing.

Ghost Grab 3000 ($4.99) is a nifty shooter that’s a hybrid of bullet hell and strategic shot placement as its lead character needs to line up or gather well-armed ghosts and blast away as many as possible while trying to survive each round. There are a couple of weapons to whip out in an emergency situation, plus a nice upgrade system with over 100 combinations allowing you to tailor your ghost grabber as you like. Part of the fun is buying those upgrades and enhancing your character, as you can create a hero that makes the game easier or, if you want to play with as few upgrades as possible, harder. That’s a bad idea, by the way – go buy and use those upgrades, I say.

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