Review: The SNES Omnibus: The Super Nintendo and Its Games, Vol. 1 (A–M)

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Get it from Amazon, or get it from the author himself with a some cool freebies (US buyers only on those), but just get it period if you’re an SNES fan.

Once again, I have the pleasure to plunge into another hefty, well-written tome by Brett Weiss and once again, it’s a must buy. Published by Schiffer Books, The SNES Omnibus: The Super Nintendo and Its Games, Vol. 1 (A-M)  is a solid 416 pages packed with Weiss’ personable personal reminiscences, recollections and remembrances (okay, they’re kind of the same thing, but I’m feeling a bit florid in my hyperbole today) on over 350 games for Nintendo’s stellar 16-bit console that, along with the Sega Genesis and other competitors, battled back and forth during the 1990’s for those hard-earned gamer dollars. Despite strong competition, until the Sony PlayStation’s dominance of the console space starting in 1994-95, the SNES ended up with a seven-year lifespan (the last officially licensed game was Frogger in 1998) and more than enough stellar titles to write a book about. Well, Weiss has written two SNES books (the second volume will be out at some point and I can’t wait to pore through that).

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There are also brief reviews from Weiss on the games he’s played along with other reviews and impressions ranging from short to lengthy and comedic to tragic from dozens of contributors that add interesting and sometimes multiple takes on certain key to not-so-key titles in the library.  I did a very short gargle-blab on one of my favorite games on the console, ALIEN³ that should have been longer in retrospect, but I think I wrote that close to the time (unbeknownst to me, surprise!)  I was about to be hospitalized for about a month, so I was a bit off my game.

A fine foreword by Bill Loguidice kicks off the book and there’s a nice page on the “console wars” that’s a miniature crash course in some of the frenzy of the era with game companies going all out to try and outdo each other with varying results. An interesting piece on emulation closes the volume with writer Alex McCumbers making the case for it in a clear and concise manner. But you’re buying this because you want to check out some titles you never knew existed, knew about but never saw (Hagane WAS available at retail – I got my copy at an Electronics Boutique thanks to the kid holding onto it putting it back and getting a cheaper used game instead) or just want to check out the assorted impressions Weiss rolls out in his amiable style. Recommended.

 

-GW

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READS: Surf NYC – Into the Deep End With The Urban Wave Jockeys

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Photo: Andreea Waters

 

I guess you can call photographer/author Andreea Waters‘ new book Surf NYC ($34.99, Schiffer Publishing) a perfect summer beach read of sorts. Granted, if you’re strolling around certain wet and sandy spots with a copy in hand and your phone’s GPS chatting away looking for where some of the photos in the book were shot, you may luck out and get an autograph from one of the more outgoing daredevils committed to riding the weird, wild waves in and around the NY area.

On the other hand, you’ll probably want to respect both the privacy and utter daring of these urban daredevils out to conquer with their own respect the very waters doing what comes naturally and often under unnatural circumstances. The book is a 136-page hardcover with 64 outstanding images of the guys and gals who dare along with the places they do that daring in. You’ll come for the images, but stay for the stories told in quick bits by the surfers interviewed.

Photo: Andreea Waters

Photo: Andreea Waters

 

Continue reading

READS: Cult Cinema: An Arrow Video Companion

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Yeah, you know you want it NOW. But you’ll need to wait until February 24 to get your sweaty little palms on it. Cult Cinema: An Arrow Video Companion (MSRP $69.99) is a gorgeous limited edition hardcover tome that’s 246 pages thick and chock full of big and little words about cult film, its history, stars, and why the sub-genre is so beloved and necessary. You could probably beat someone who disagrees with your entertainment choices quite senseless with this book (which measures about 8.5 x 11 inches). But that’s really not a good idea as you probably also can’t take it to jail with you to catch up on your required reading. That and if you watch enough cult films you KNOW the warden’s going to be a real jerk and a half (plus tax).

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Featuring the writing of: Robin Bougie, Michael Brooke, Paul Corupe, David Del Valle, David Flint, Cullen Gallagher, Kevin Gilvear, Joel Harley, David Hayles, Pasquale Iannone, Alan Jones, Tim Lucas, Michael Mackenzie, Maitland McDonagh, Tom Mes, John Kenneth Muir, Kim Newman, James Oliver, Vic Pratt, Jasper Sharp, Kenneth J. Souza, Mike Sutton, Stephen Thrower, Caelum Vatnsdal, and Doug Weir, there’s enough here to start (or close) several cinematic conversations. I’m still poring through a PDF review copy, but so far I’m significantly entertained enough to say it’s a must-buy, especially if you’ve been building up your collection of Arrow Video Blu-Ray/DVD sets since the North American kickoff through MVD Entertainment Group.

READS: Bombshell: The Pin-Up Art of John Gladman

Bombshell_coverThank goodness the art of the glamour pin-up book isn’t lost forever, particularly given today’s endless supply of overly raunchy and more easily accessible content the internet has to offer. The fine folks over at Schiffer Books have been putting out a nice selection of pin-up titles for some time, but this is one of the best they’ve published to date.

Award-winning photographer/artist John Gladman is one of those thankfully still carrying the artfully positioned cutie torch and in Bombshell: The Pin-Up Art of John Gladman (Schiffer Books, $34.99 – BUY IT!), there’s a whole lot to appreciate. Continue reading

READS: Alternative Movie Posters II Is a Must for Film (and Art) Fanatics

Hey. I have an important question to ask you all:

(Thanks, modelcitizen72 and MOVIECLIPS!)

Alt Mov Posters II coverIf you do (and even if your name isn’t Joey), Alternative Movie Posters II: More Film Art from the Underground ($34.99) is going to make you smile until our face cracks. Well, okay – there’s only one actual gladiator movie in the book (which just so happens to be a poster variant from Ridley Scott’s 2000 film), but that quote jumped out and bit me as soon as I saw the poster and I had to use it as an opener. Anyway, author Matthew Chojnacki has put together a fantastic collection of 200 more film poster variants done by a wide assortment of artists in many different styles that will make any film fan want this on their gift list. Continue reading

READS: Cooking for Geeks Will Make You Hungry For Science

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Yeah, I cook and you should as well. No matter haw daunted you are by the prospect of entering the kitchen to whip up something as simple as a boiled egg, the ability to prepare a meal is not only a necessary survival skill, it’s a series of victories as one overcomes fears and produces some very tasty results. Jeff Potter’s Cooking for Geeks ($24.99) is not only a fantastic read, it’s one of the best cookbooks I’ve ever read. A cornucopia of recipes, food and other science lessons, excellent interviews with far too many chefs and other food experts to list, the book is both a page-turning revelation and a go-to master class in all sorts of kitchen knowledge. Continue reading

READS: The Haunt of Fear Still Packs A Moldy Wallop

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Sometimes a good old scare is all you need and with Halloween right around the corner (with a baseball bat in claw), you can stay safely indoors and get your fright on thanks to Dark Horse Comics. They’ve been reprinting a bunch of lovely volumes of classic EC Comics and the latest, The EC Archives: The Haunt of Fear Volume 2 comes highly recommended. Coming to a comic shop near you October 28, this 216-page full color hardcover collects The Haunt of Fear #7–#12 and features art from Johnny Craig, Graham Ingels, Jack Davis, Jack Kamen, George Roussos, Ed Smalle, and Joe Orlando. I’ll tease you with a page from the very first tale in the book, a real corker called Room For One More:

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I think that rather unbalanced Rodney needs to reconsider his greed for that last space in the family mausoleum before it’s too late, right? As usual, the book compiles the issues in their entirety including all the original ads, text pieces, and letter columns. Nope, you can’t order anything from those well-aged adverts, but reading the letters should get you smiling at how some took these illustrated tales of terror to heart back in the day. Feel free to also check out previous volumes in Dark Horse’s EC Archives for even more variety in classic horror, sci-fi, crime, humor and more stories from the pre-Comics Code days.

READS: Contemporary Krampus Will Put You In The Proper Holiday Spirit (OR ELSE)…

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Mike Drake (photo: Peter Keehn)

Mike Drake (photo: Peter Keehn)

Just in time for Halloween and definitely an excellent Christmas gift that’s actually a reminder to watch your back and be good (or else!), Contemporary Krampus: A Modern Look At An Ancient Legend ($24.00) offers up a collection of professional and fan art that makes for quite a memorable chunk of nightmare fuel. Curated by Mike Drake (who did that stupendous cover above), you’ll get almost 70 striking images from traditional drawing and painting, to sculpture and even a few takes on the ugly Christmas sweater (but you’ll probably want one of the ones in the book).

Drake also contributes a nifty into to Contemporary Krampus and how this Anti-Claus has slowly but surely seeped into American culture over the years to the point that we’ll be seeing a Krampus horror flick hit theaters in time for Christmas. Nicely naughty AND not a low budget schlocker judging by the cast.

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You should run out and buy this book just because it’ll make you grin and cringe simultaneously. But if you’ve read this far, live in one of the 50 states of the U.S. of A. (Yes, you need to have a US shipping address!) and want to WIN a copy of the book, just respond below with I WANT KRAMPUS! and I’ll pick ONE lucky winner tomorrow from those who’ve entered.

Want more fun? Well, if you’re a card-carrying adult and just so happen to be in the New York City area for Halloween, you should attend the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Times Square Halloween Party.

This adults only event will feature not only Drake signing copies of Contemporary Krampus, but also giving away a life-size Krampus (!) to one lucky attendee. Additionally, over 45 “special” exhibits will be pulled from the Ripley vaults and displayed exclusively to those brave enough to attend. The event will also feature:

A twisted game show
Psychic readings
Hypnotism shows with audience participation
Close-up magic
Day of the Dead candy celebration (at midnight)

To purchase tickets for this exclusive event (and they’re selling out quickly!), fans of the macabre need just click HERE (Boooo!)

“Forbidden” Comics Make This Humble Bundle Worth Breaking Some Rules

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Because its Banned Books Week (eek!) and you need to expand your horizons a bit more, the folks over at Humble Bundle have put together a nice selection of challenged and banned comics to purchase with the proceeds benefiting The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF). It’s a great selection of digital books more that worth the minimum asking price and your money is going to a great cause.

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While I’d prefer a ban on stupid people banning stuff they won’t even read, I guess this is the best revenge you can have on some of those know-little to nothings and their fear of the printed and drawn word. I’d suggest getting your bundle and reading as much as you can in or near a place that’s challenged or outright banned some of the titles just to see if anyone actually notices. I’d bet a dime that no one will care a whit unless they’re curious enough to ask. And even then, they just might find out that there’s nothing to run screaming from the room about at all.

In other words, wouldn’t it be cooler to live in a world where we’re NOT celebrating books being banned and instead celebrate the smartening up of those who ban stuff automatically because they’ve finally gotten those sticks out of their behinds? Yeah, I thought so.

The Martian Trailer 2: Get With The Space Program, Already


 

The funny thing is, after I decided to recently zip through the book (it’s a great summer read, by the way) and took the longer range viewpoint I usually do, these trailers really don’t bug me at all. In a way, the filmmakers are a bit pushed and painted into the proverbial corner because being too vague means you get unfairly compared to Chris Nolan’s Interstellar (although that’s what’s been happening online anyway). On the other hand, anyone who didn’t like Prometheus and didn’t know Ridley Scott’s other, better sci-fi films might see either of the two trailers and say to themselves (or online to whomever is reading what they write) “Not THAT guy again!” or words to that effect. Rock, meet hard place. Of course, a film’s performance should be based on how well it does among those who actually see it as opposed to those who don’t and won’t that spend more time griping about it.

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But so goes the modern world these days, I guess. The Martian is in theaters October 2, 2015. Go read the book at some point beforehand. Or afterwards.