Category Archives: Uncategorized

Wheel Of Hearts Paint By Number Kit from ArtYouCraft – fun and gorgeous!

Wheel Of Hearts Paint By Number Kit from ArtYouCraft

pic1

 

(5/5)

Pros: Beautiful pattern, fun to do, detailed instructions

Cons: None!

Take a look at this very pretty, very “different” paint-by-number kit.  Isn’t it adorable?  It’s called “Wheel Of Hearts” and it’s available in six different color combinations.  All of them are gorgeous.  Or, maybe this design isn’t your thing.  That’s Ok – they have seven other styles, in a total of 40 color combinations.

What makes this kit so different from other paint-by-number kits?  Well, the biggest difference is that you’re painting on wood, not on a canvas.  So when you’re finished you have a beautiful, sturdy piece of artwork.  You can hang it on a wall, or display it flat on a table.  Varnished to a high shine, it’s quite stunning, no matter where you place it.

The other thing that makes it different is that there are some spots purposely left unpainted.  In this case, it’s the four wheels and their spokes, on the sides.  Those are left unpainted, allowing the wood to show through.  It makes for a very attractive, and unique look.

Where does one find this kit?  On http://www.artyoucraft.com .  Take a look, you’re sure to find something that strikes your fancy.

What comes in the kit?  In this case, seven numbered paint canisters, plus an extra canister of black paint, used for touch-up work.  The 8.5″ by 11″ wood canvas with its black lines and circles, defining the pattern.  Two paint brushes, a paper template with the numbers filled in to show you which color goes where, a small piece of sandpaper to smooth the edges, a small color graphic showing the completed project, a small canister of varnish and a brush to apply it, a hanger, and an instruction sheet.

As far as the instructions go, these are the most complete and detailed instructions I’ve ever seen in a paint-by-number kit.  They explain everything you need to know.  How to maintain the consistency of the paint, how to care for the brushes, and how to apply the varnish.  I’ve done a lot of paint-by-number kits and have learned a bunch of tricks along the way.  But these instructions even taught me a thing or two.

In the end, if you use a steady hand and take your time, you can end up with a gorgeous finished product.  Teens through adults will enjoy doing these projects.  The spaces where the paint goes are pretty big, it’s not like there are thousands of tiny little spots to fill in.  Even some kids might enjoy doing a project like this.  You might just want to help them with the “touchup” portion of the project, where you correct any spots where they painted outside the lines.

I am thrilled with how this project came out, and I really enjoyed doing it.  I think the price for the kit is fair, given everything that comes with it.  And the website’s customer service has been impeccable.  I had some questions, and they were answered very quickly.

 

How did mine come out?

wheel-of-hearts

Other paint by number kits:

Afternoon Nap by Dimensions
Distelfinks
Bengal Tiger by Schipper
Japanese Garden by Bucilla
Siberian Tiger by Plaid
Taj Mahal by Schipper

One of the two perfect and nearly unmatched metal masterpieces. 100%

From all the things I’ve learned in life so far, time is one of the ultimate tests in determining the lasting value of a piece of art or entertainment. Morbid Angel’s debut album “Altars of Madness” came out in 1989, and to this day, many death metal fans across the globe still consider this one of the greatest albums the death metal genre has to offer. The time not only relates to this album’s release, but the time relative to my own experiences have helped me conclude it’s essentially perfect.

As of writing this, it’s been nearly 11 years since I decided to become a proper metalhead, and this month marks 10 years since I bought and first listened to Morbid Angel’s “Altars of Madness.” I remember first getting this album vividly. I was a few months away from graduating high school, and especially relative to now, I was still pretty young as a metalhead. I popped this album in my car’s CD player on my way home from the local FYE and was floored by the sheer quality of songwriting, aggression, flashy musicianship, and sheer evil oozing from the music.

In that decade plus, I’ve digested tons of different metal albums from all the different niches under the heavy metal umbrella, and while there’s been a good amount that came close to matching this Tampa death metal classic, only one has matched this album in terms of quality (that honor belongs to the Nocturnus album “The Key”), and none have beaten it.

MUSICIANSHIP

If the musicianship on this album isn’t perfect, it’s as close as it’ll ever get. At the time this album came out, the death metal genre was gradually evolving into its own genre and not feeling as much like a more extreme offshoot of the thrash metal genre (examples of such “death thrash” albums being the likes of Kreator’s “Pleasure to Kill” and Sepultura’s “Morbid Visions”). “Altars of Madness” still displays some thrash influences, but also seamlessly fuses the blastbeat fury of the grindcore genre that was taking its own shape around the same time (best exemplified by albums like Napalm Death’s “Scum” and Unseen Terror’s “Human Error”). Combine the thrash influences with grindcore aggression and occult themes, out comes an album that obliterates anything in its path all the while displaying top-tier musicianship.

David Vincent handles the bass and vocal work on this album, and according to some sources, David had a cold at the time he was recording vocals for the album, and was forced to cranking out more raspy death metal vocals rather than lower-pitched growls. If that’s true, then I’m glad he was sick at the time because I can’t imagine this album being as awesome as it really is with different death growls. The raspy growls in this album perfectly match the tone of the guitars, as they enhance the nefarious atmosphere engrained in the instrumentation, and he’s largely intelligible in his vocal work. His bass lines aren’t as prominent in the album as they would be in an Atheist album (another band all death metal fans should check out), but they’re noticeable enough and they bolster the guitar riffs very well. However, listeners are treated to a neat bass solo at around the 2:04 mark of “Suffocation,” showing David’s skill on the instrument.

Trey Azagthoth and Richard Brunelle are the two guitarists on this album, and both deliver top-notch riffs and guitar solos. Trey and Richard are talented in all the right ways; they can not only deliver mind-blowing guitar solos (particularly Trey), but they crank out catchy and fast, hard-hitting guitar riffs that’ll be stuck in your head for days. Their riffs are dynamic but at the same time, complement each other perfectly. Most of the songs have a perfect blend of slow and fast riffs (such as opening song “Immortal Rites”) while some others specialize in a narrower range of tempos (such as “Bleeding for the Devil” being an outright high-speed massacre and album closer “Evil Spells” being a mid-paced crusher). Both Trey and Richard dish out some of the coolest guitar solos you’ll hear in a metal album. Granted, they’re not quite as proficient shredders as Tony MacAlpine or Chuck Schuldiner, but they’re titan forces to be reckoned with in this department. Some of the best solos can be found in songs like “Chapel of Ghouls,” “Damnation,” “Visions from the Dark Side,” and “Suffocation,” but all of the songs on this album have excellent delivery on all aspects.

Pete Sandoval handles the drums on this album, and there’s a reason why so many metalheads consider him one of the best drummers in death metal; this man is a beast!! Pete delivers a nearly unparalleled massacre of the kit all the while not missing a single beat. Granted, many death metal bands nowadays have drummers that can outdo Pete in sheer technicality, but Pete is better because he actually has wits on how to make the songs good with his drumming. He’s fast and technical, but will vary the tempo and show some restraint in all the right places so that the listener can actually memorize and appreciate his excellent skills. All of the songs are excellent displays of Pete’s drumming skills, but I think his best work is on the song “Blasphemy.”

SONGS

Normally, I’d pick out the best songs here, but that’s an impossible task. All of the songs here are amazing from head to toe. All of the songs have their own nuances that make them killer in their own way, like the opening backwards riffing and chilling keyboards highlighting the breakdowns in “Immortal Rites,” the choppy, blasting fury and bass solo in “Suffocation,” the epic breakdowns in “Maze of Torment” and “Chapel of Ghouls” (with the latter being tastefully accentuated with keyboards), the occult ritual of the Ancient Ones in “Lord of All Fevers and Plagues” reengineered into a death metal format, the blastbeat-laden onslaughts of “Bleed for the Devil” and “Damnation,” the opening gunshots followed by a salvo of high-speed brutality in “Blasphemy,” and the blast of fury in the otherwise slower album closer “Evil Spells.” Name a song, and you’ll find plenty of awesome sonic elements to love in each and every one of them.

PRODUCTION

Tom Morris produced this album, and this was recorded at Morrisound Recording, which has become synonymous with the death metal rush of the late 80’s/early 90’s. The staff at Morrisound did an excellent job producing the album, as the instruments and vocals all come in clear. However, there’s a strong air of roughness that pervades the recording, all the while not making anything in the recording sound like crap. This greatly enhances the evil nature of the music and lyrics.

MISCELLANEOUS

As the icing on the cake, Dan Seagrave was contracted to make the cover art for the album. I’m glad it panned out that way because Dan’s extremely detailed painting of tormented, creepy, ghoulish faces perfectly matches the extremely aggressive and nefarious music contained in this album. Dan has cranked out many awesome album covers for the top-tier death metal bands back in the day, but this is one of his greatest works.

If you’re a fan of the horror anime Doomed Megalopolis, I would recommend listening to this album after watching that OVA series because the tone of the music perfect matches the tone of the anime.

FINAL WORD

I almost never give out 100% ratings, so this should give you an indication of how excellent this album is. If you’re a death metal fan or if you’re thinking of breaking into extreme music and haven’t gotten this album yet, GET IT NOW!! You won’t regret it at all.

Thistle logo, gotta be great

Strathmore® Paper  3.5 x 5 inch, 300 series Sketch Pads

 

300 series

See it at Amazon 

(5/5)

Pros: inexpensive, smooth texture, readily available

Cons: none noted

Strathmore® Paper  3.5 x 5 inch, 300 series Sketch Pads are one of a series of quality, Made in the U.S.A.,  artists’ materials available from a well respected paper company providing quality papers for over a century for those who enjoy writing, sketching, or other artistic endeavors.

This pad is crafted with a sturdy board back, wire bound sheets and textured, lemon hued cover filled with information offered in English, French and Spanish extolling the virtues of the sheets of sketching paper.   A pencil sketch by Rovan Yu, centered, provides a notion for possibility for using the papers, company name and website are included, number of sheets is provided at the bottom of the cover.  Size of sheets, type of paper, and surface are all addressed on the cover.

Wire binding is double wire, heavy enough to keep the book intact without snagging the wire binding on whatever I may be carrying in my briefcase along with it.  Series number, the Strathmore thistle logo and the word Sketch in larger font all clearly indicate the product and intended use for novice sketch artists should there be question regarding best usage of the pad.

Sketch Paper is created as a lighter weight  paper providing a surface that is dandy for practicing, experimentation and perfecting skill. 300 Series is an economical, superior paper designed for student, beginning artist, as well as the artist who is often noted sitting, pencil or pen in hand while producing what he/she sees in the world around.

400 Series, 400 Series Recycled and Windpower™ Series are better-quality sheets having the firmer surface often chosen by the advanced artist.

Acid-free, the reasonably priced 50 lb. white sketch paper is dandy use for dry media to include pencil, crayon, charcoal, and the like. The 3.5 X 5 inch size is handy for tucking into purse or briefcase to have the pad nearby as inspiration presents itself.

While free sheets and glue bound papers are available; I prefer the wirebound.  Perhaps in time, should I actually become proficient with pencil sketching, something I am just taking up as a new hobby interest; I may try other type sketch pads, however at the moment all of mine, large and small are wire bound.

Strathmore offers wirebound pads in sizes ranging from the 3.5 x 5 inch size, subject of this review to larger pads including 9 x 12, 11 x 14 and larger and glue bound 9 x 12, 11 x 14 on up to 18 x 24 inch.

I find this pad of acid free paper having smooth texture in white to be well-matched for pencil sketching, detail work. For now I am confined to sketching with pencil; in time I may try pen, colored pencils, ball point pens and or charcoal.

The 3.5 x 5 inch pad provides 100 sheets, accepts pencil, does not fall apart, create crumbs or pills when erased, and is working well as I apply more enthusiasm than artistic prowess at the moment.  I find the paper to be nicely suited to my ability and hopes for sketching.

I realize that an accomplish artist likely can take a brown paper lunch sack and create a stunning rendering of whatever the eye beholds, on the other hand, as a novice to the world of pencil sketching I suspect choice of papers may be an important decision as I endeavor to create something worth doing.

An accomplished artist will likely realize their ability, and whatever the medium, feel comfortable.  For the novice, myself, I like that the sketch pad helps me feel more like a possible artiste in old age.   Confidence can always take a boost as we begin new things.

While I purchased my 3.5 x 5 inch sketch pad from Michael’s Store in Kansas City, online check shows the product to be available at Hobby Lobby in Oklahoma, and is available from a diversity of online vendors including Amazon.

My heritage includes Scotland in my genealogy: the thistle is a favorite of mine

Happy to recommend  Strathmore® Paper  3.5 x 5 inch, 300 series Sketch Pads

As always I like to know something of the company providing the products I purchase: I prefer Made in America:  © 2015 Strathmore Artist Papers™, a division of Pacon Corporation ®, ™ used under license from Mohawk Fine Papers Inc., an online visit to the Strathmore website indicates:  Strathmore Paper Company began on St. Patrick’s Day in 1892 when founder, Horace Moses, opened the Mittineague paper mill in West Springfield, MA.

Not long after initiation of the first mill, Mr. Moses trekked to the Valley of Strathmore in Scotland where the thistle was in full bloom.  The magnificence of the location so awed Moses; that he commenced using both name and the thistle as an icon of excellence in art and printing papers.

The Strathmore brand name was inaugurated in 1899, initially with Charcoal papers and soon after with Bristol.  The Strathmore brand promptly became celebrated as one of the premier quality art papers used by many leading artists around the world.

Strathmore has preserved their repute as a purveyor of fine art paper for over a century.  And, currently makes available for artists of all levels the ultimate surface for producing striking works of art.

 

Historical Timeline:

1892 – Mittineague Paper Company opened in West Springfield MA by Horace Moses.

1893 – Strathmore Drawing Board is first manufactured.

1894 – Horace Moses visits the Strathmore Valley in Scotland and begins using “Strathmore Quality” and the thistle symbol on his highest quality papers.

1899 – Charcoal Paper, Patent Office Board and Illustrating Board are added to the art line.

1905 – Horace Moses acquires the Woronoco Paper Company and runs it as a separate company.

1911 – Mittineague and Woronoco Paper Companies are consolidated and becomes the Strathmore Paper Company.

1929 – Student grade papers are introduced under the banner Alexis.

1950 – First pad is introduced as Alexis Drawing.

1952 – Blank Greeting Cards are introduced.

1962 – Strathmore is purchased by Hammermill Paper Company.

1972 – The first recycled sketch pad is introduced and called Shelburne Phase II Sketch.

1974 – The 300 Series is developed, Alexis becomes 400 Series and Artist 500 Series.

1986 – International Paper purchases Hammermill Paper

2004 – Mohawk Paper purchases Strathmore

2006 – Pacon Corporation purchases Strathmore Artist Papers™

Per the website I read The symbol of the thistle may have taken on a different appearance throughout the years, but the quality of Strathmore Artist Papers has remained second to none.

For lasting works of art, Strathmore is the artist’s choice.

 

Strathmore Artist Papers
2525 N. Casaloma Dr.
Appleton, WI 54913

The award-winning World at War is still must-see TV 40 years after its first broadcast

The World at War (2010 Blu-ray Set)

World at War Blu-ray

$71.85

[5]

Pros:  Better video quality, subtitles for deaf/hearing impaired viewers

Cons: The restored version was reformatted for widescreen TVs.

In 1971, a young British television producer named Jeremy Isaacs and a team of writers, directors, editors, and other production staff began work on  The World at War a 26-part documentary about World War II.

Isaacs knew that the war is too vast and complicated a topic; not even 26 hours of television air time (including commercial breaks) is enough to cover every campaign, battle, or major personalities.  After consulting with Noble Frankland, then the director of the Imperial War Museum, Isaacs decided to cover 15 decisive campaigns and battles, with the rest of the episodes devoted to such specific topics as the rise of Hitler in Germany, life in occupied Europe, day-to-day life inside the Third Reich, and the Holocaust. 
 

The emphasis of the series is not so much the history of the war but rather the human story, not only because simple dry facts and endless clips of censored war footage are mind-numbingly dull, but because television works best when presenting a dramatic narrative.

So while there are many minutes of combat scenes culled from the archives of all the major warring powers, there are many interviews of civilian, political and military participants, ranging from low-ranking British “Tommies” who fought in North Africa to Traudl Junge, Hitler’s youngest secretary. These personal recollections, interwoven with animations, maps, a sparse narration (each episode has around 2,000 words of written narration), and war footage, helped make The World at War one of the best documentaries made for television.

The World at War was a big hit  in Britain when it premiered in 1974, and it had equally good viewership when it crossed the Atlantic, earning an International Emmy Award for best documentary and becoming a staple on public television and such cable networks as A&E and its spinoff, The History Channel. 

The World at War  co-produced by A&E Home Video, Thames Television and Fremantle Media, is a 9 Blu-ray box set that not only presents all 26 episodes  digitally remastered with a Dolby Digital Stereo audio track, plus  the Special Presentations : “Secretary to Hitler,” “The Two Deaths of Adolf Hitler,” “Warrior,” “Hitler’s Germany: 1932-1939,” “Hitler’s Germany: 1939-1945,” “The Final Solution,” and “From War to Peace” 

Although the series was hampered by the limitations of the television medium and the fact that the breaking of the German Enigma code was not made public until after the series aired in early 1974, The World at Waris still one of the best history-themed series to date, partly because of its excellent production values, but mostly because Sir Jeremy Isaacs and his team attempted to be fair and balanced in their coverage of the war.

The World at War contains no dramatizations, no overt attempt to pass judgment, and no revisionism or attempt to present World War II through the extremes of nostalgia on one hand and the imposition of 1970s cynicism on the other.

Instead, the series strives to engage viewers and asks them to make their own minds based on what the series shows. In the case of the episode “Occupation,” the viewer is challenged to think about what he or she would have done during the Nazi occupation of a country such as Holland. In “Whirlwind,” the episode about the Allied bombing of Germany, not only are there interviews with the British and American bomber crews that dropped the bombs, but also with German survivors of the air raids.

 

 

2015 – Second Annual Summer Sweeps!! Winners posted!!

IT’S SUMMER 2015
THAT MEANS IT’S TIME FOR
THE SECOND ANNUAL
SUMMER MONEY SWEEPS!!!

 

Everybody can use a little extra dough in the summer, right?  So why not write some reviews, and enter our summer contest?  You just might find your pockets a little fuller!

 

pic6

 

HOW TO ENTER

 

Members who post completely original reviews on veryhelpful.net between Friday June 5 and Tuesday July 21 will become eligible to win a Visa or Amazon.com gift card.  Reviews must contain a minimum of 500 words.  Content that has been published previously, in any proportion, will not be considered for the 2015 SUMMER MONEY SWEEPS.

This year, we’re gonna shake things up with something for everyone!

Every review will count as an entry into the sweeps. In addition:

Categorically relevant reviews posted in “Electronics”, “Home & Kitchen” and “Pets” will count as two entries.

Got a Honda you’re fonda or a Dodge you disdain?  This year, Car Reviews = three entries… that’s right – review that bucket-‘o’-bolts and triple your chances of winning!!!

For those Media Mavens among us:

While book reviews = one entry,
Books published 2014 or later = two entries.

While movie Reviews = one entry,
Reviews of Movies Originally released 2014 or later (movie release, not DVD release!!) = two entries.

And finally, this year we are including a Techno-Bonus!

Reviews posted in Any Category that include a Reviewer-Generated Original Video will add another entry to the mix.  Descriptive video of your Volvo, Vacuum or Versace Velvet Loafers will accelerate your chances of winning.  Pedal to the Metal, Dude!!!

Following the July 21 closing date, the top 4 (four) prizes will be awarded to winners chosen at random.  The prizes will be awarded in the form of a Visa Gift Card, which can be redeemed at any establishment in the United States where gift cards are accepted.

2 (two) First-Prize Winners will each receive $50.00

2 (two) Second-Prize Winners will each receive $25.00

In addition, 3 (three) Runners-Up will each receive a $10.00 Amazon.com Gift Card!

Odds of winning are based upon the total number of entries, so have a SUPER SUMMER SWEEPS and “Don’t Forget to Write!”

 


 

Not registered on veryhelpful.net? No problem!                                       Just click here to create your account

Unsure how to get started after registering? Take a look at the tutorials here.  You can also post questions or email the staff directly with any questions.

 


 

ps: Don’t want to participate, but still want to write reviews?  No problem, just leave a comment on this posting, or send an email to the staff saying you wish to opt out of the contest.

 

Here are the winners:

1st place dlstewart
2nd place andy armageddon
3rd place Stephen_Murray
4th place Henry Thoreau
5th place merle_levy
6th place Tomsdattar
7th place sleeper54

 

Congratulations, All !!!

“It Wasn’t a Man…It was One of Them…” ZOMBIES OF MORA TAU

ZOMBIES OF MORA TAU

See the Sam Katzman Icons of Horror Box Set on Amazon 

(2/5) meh

Pros: Allison Hayes! A few moments both comical and creepy

Cons: Clumsy script never is able to build adequate (or really, any) suspense

An old-school zombie movie if there ever was one, 1957’s Zombies of Mora Tau deals with a group of American treasure hunters trying to recover a cache of diamonds from a shipwreck located just off the African coast. The financier of the operation named George Harrison (rimshot please!) and his wife Mona have been joined by a professional diver named Jeff, who’s job it is to actually bring the stones to the surface, and a doctor who’s planning on writing a book about the whole thing – but they all get more than they bargained for when it becomes apparent that tales of a curse surrounding the diamonds are true. The sunken treasure is protected by a group of undead sailors who went down with the vessel in the first place, and these zombies cause problems at every turn – not only for the dive itself, but also for the obligatory romance that starts up between Jeff and a local girl named Jan Peters, whose elderly grandmother is the only one who seems to know how to control and defeat the zombies.

zombies!
Though the creatures are decidedly non-threatening, several sequences involving the zombies are actually pretty neat.

Directed by Edward L. Cahn (longtime director of short subjects and B-movies who would make IT! The Terror from Beyond Space the following year) from a script by George H. Plympton and Bernard Gordon, Zombies of Mora Tau suffers considerably from not having enough action or suspense to fill even its thankfully brief 70-minute run time. The picture doesn’t waste time dropping a viewer into the fray right off the bat, but doesn’t quite seem to know where to go from there since it’s built around a predictable, clumsily-concocted scenario into which nary a smidgen of logic seems to intrude. Though I was moderately impressed with some of the sets and locations seen in the picture (the jungles actually look pretty convincing) and found the way in which the production managed to create the illusion of underwater sequences without leaving the studio to be clever, any semblance of technical quality is undermined by a nearly endless string of poorly-executed day-for-night shots, to say nothing of the disconnected insert close-ups that positively ruin the continuity of any and all underwater sequences.

This never
As everyone knows, underwater fist-fights will never be as cool as a real zombie attacking a fake shark…

One of (if not) the only reason why Zombies of Mora Tau has achieved some semblance of a cult following over the years is because it features Allison Hayes in a major role. Best known for starring in the title role of 1958’s trash classic Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, the voluptuous Hayes was a one-time model who eventually made her way to Hollywood only to be featured in a string of low-budget genre flicks and television productions before some incredibly unfortunate health problems cut short her career. Though Hayes never quite achieved a breakthrough moment that would have made her a star, she’s managed to attract a cult of admirers none the less due to her undeniable sex appeal and the fact that all her performances are downright fun to watch. This is certainly the case with regard to her work in Zombies of Mora Tau in which she plays the devious Mona.

mymy
My my, Allison…

Cackling and barking out her lines while threatening to literally bust out of the tight tops she’s wearing, Hayes (whose character “learned her manners as a hostess in Eddie’s Front Street Saloon”) is front and center for all the film’s best moments, carrying on a sort of war of words not only with her aloof husband George (played by Joel Ashley) but also the wholesome Jan (a part performed by the wide-eyed Autumn Russell). Eventually Mona, chest heaving as she hyperventilates and scowls, comes to blows with her husband (George explains that he’s giving her “the only message she understands…”), yet no one seems to mind the peace and quiet provided when she vanishes from the narrative for a few minutes. Once the writers realize they need some sort of conflict down the stretch (this before a tiresome climax and plain dumb ending), Mona re-emerges when it becomes apparent that she now (duh!) needs rescued from the zombies’ underground lair. Again, no one is ever going to confuse this film with a masterwork in terms of its script development.

A suspenseful masterwork this isn't
Nope, this is not quite the suspenseful masterpiece one would want…

Try as Hayes might however, nothing can save this film from the fact that it’s never, ever suspenseful. Downright creepy shots of the zombies amassing in their dark, subterranean catacomb or stumbling out of an otherwise tranquil lake are utterly wasted when it becomes clear that these beings (who universally appear stone-faced and glassy-eyed) are not threatening in the least – not even the one with the pro wrestler physique and horseshoe haircut and not even when they’re engaging in slow-motion underwater fist-fights. It’s never quite revealed how these zombies could/would eliminate their enemies (or why in the hell they’d want to kidnap either of the two women apparently just to throw them on the cold, dirty floor of their crypt), yet a viewer is supposed to buy into the hysterical fits of fear that these “fiends” inspire in their supposed victims. Sorry, but it just doesn’t work, and the purported highpoints of this film are further mitigated by a dull soundtrack from Mischa Bakaleinikoff. On the other hand, the film’s “action scenes” do occasionally offer up a bit of amusement, such as when Gregg Palmer’s heroic Jeff character receives a couple of stiff, clubbing overhand blows from the aforementioned “Horseshoe Haircut Harvey” ghoul or when Captain George finds out that zombies will “no-sell” any amount of punches coming their way.

Catatonic state
Sad thing is, I had a similar glassy stare by the time this flick was over…

OK, you got me. I’m pulling for straws on this one: there’s really not that much here, even for those who get a kick out of bad movies. The somnambulistic “Zombies of Mora Tau” can’t hold a candle to the cannibalistic ones which would appear and positively dominate movie screens from the late ‘60s onward. That said, I could think of worse ways to spend 70 minutes than watching this overwhelmingly mediocre but nevertheless agreeable ‘50s “shocker.” It’s not quite on a level with the best of the worst films out there, but those who would watch something like this in the first place may just find it to be an acceptable time-waster.

arg!

disc deets
Released as part of Sony Pictures’ Sam Katzman: Icons of Horror Box Set. This package includes a trio of other schlocky gems: 1955’s Creature with the Atom Brain, 1957’s The Werewolf, and arguably the cream of the crop, 1957’s The Giant Claw. All four films are presented in full-frame format, with a variety of trailers and a trio of short subjects as extras. While this set would have precisely no appeal to those looking for good movies, it would be most enjoyable for fans of jaw-dropping B flicks.

blood & guts
2/10 : A knife to the throat of a zombie has little effect and produces no blood

smack talk
1/10 : No profanity, but plenty of bad attitude

fap factor
2/10 : Allison Hayes parading about in some of the tightest sweaters imaginable

whack attack
3/10 : Sure, it’s a zombie flick and it does have amusement value, but most people will find this to be dull.

GI JOE
“Only fools are afraid of the grave…there are worse things…”

Trailer:

…or watch the whole damn thing (with intro by Robert Osborne!):

Haircut Anyone?

Junie B. Jones Is a Beauty Shop Guy

 

shop

See it at Amazon 

Kindle about $5   Paperback about $5

(5/5)

Pros: Child riveting prose, great illustrations,  Child and adult  friendly,  just plain fun read

Cons: none noted

Junie B Jones is a Beauty Shop Guy follows a 70 or so page, 8 or 9 chapter format found in many of the other Junie B. books.

Junie B., B for Beatrice, AKA Pinkie Gladys Gutzman, which is the loveliest, cutest name Junie B. knows. Junie is a precocious youngster who charms adults and children alike.  Childlike, Junie B. really cannot understand why her Daddy is not quite so thrilled with her new name.

A trip to the barber shop appearing in Chapter 2 brings Pinkie Gladys Gutzman not to the shop where Daddy usually gets his hair cut but to a beauty shop which causes Junie, ummm Pinkie to shout to the world that her Daddy is going to a Beauty Shop. Meeting the beauty shop lady, Maxine, who also wore a name tag set the scene for some floor sweeping shenanigans at the shop as Pinkie Junie served as Maxine’s helper.

Before long Junie B. is practicing hair cutting and snip, snip, snipping. Philip, Junie’s bestest elephant volunteered to be first, only, made of smooth velvet, he had no fur.  Next to volunteer were Junie’s bunny slippers with the long white fur.  They were not pleased. And their fur did not grow back.

Junie B. flung them under her bed. Who knew bunny fur does not grow back.

Monday at school a glum Junie B. confided her dashed hopes for becoming a beauty shop guy to her bestest friend Grace. Grace’s aunt IS a beauty shop guy and she has already told Grace that she can be the shampoo girl.  And, maybe Aunt Lola will let Junie be a shampoo girl too.

Of course becoming a shampoo girl is going to take practice.

Home from school, and before long Teddy is a sog ball covered with shampoo and water and under the bed he went.  Unfortunately Junie’s dog Tickle chose that moment to scratch at the door.  It didn’t take long before Junie was busy trimming his fur.

Hearing the sound of her Mother’s step in the hallway; Junie tried without much success to push Tickle under the bed.

Running down the hall and out into the yard did no good; Mother is speedier than she looks.

By morning Junie realized her problem trying to trim hair, Tickle has dog hair.

Junie is sure that she can trim people hair, her own, just fine.  So she snip, snip, snipped; first bangs then sides, some top and some back, and then she tried to even up the bangs.  And, they just kept getting tiltier and tiltier.  So she took a big chunk and cut it right off.

How Junie solves her problem with the sprigs of hair she has left before setting out for school  is a chuckle unto itself.

Boys and Girls alike, Osage County First Grade enjoys the Junie B books. As always Junie B is the focus of the tale told in child friendly verbiage and filled with the impossibly child single-mindedness I see exhibited on a daily basis in the classroom.

Illustrations are perfect accompaniment to the text. That writer Park and illustrator Brunkus know their kids is obvious.

The situations in which Junie B finds herself, the  noise and shouting and fixated notions surrounding Junie B are convincing, not forced or unreliable.

Filled with anticipation, resolve and inventiveness; Junie B behaves much as do many 5 year olds; noisy, notionate and determined.

Has there been a child alive who had not cut their own hair?

Daddy came home from work to find my Mother laying in bed and whimpering, holding my long braids, one in each hand and near tears.  Youngest sister cut herself bangs half way to the top of her head.  My own youngest son took scissors to his hair the day before picture day at day care when he was little.   Has there been a child alive who had not cut their own hair?

A book about scissors, a five year old and hair is one sure to please Little Readers.

And, Junie B Jones Is a Beauty Shop Guy does just that.

12 thumbs up from Osage County First Grade, I am happy to recommend Junie B Jones Is a Beauty Shop Guy as a read to book for the younger set ages 3-7 and as a read with help for the 6 and 7s. Children with strong reading skills will enjoying read the book to themselves, younger siblings or to others in the classroom.

Price varies by when and where the book is purchased. I found several Junie B. books, paperbacks for little to nothing at the local jumble shop.  Because they are already well loved, and didn’t cost much; Junie B. books are carried home nearly every evening by Osage County Little Readers for reading to parents.

 

Product Details

Age Range: 6 – 9 years

Reading Level: read to younger set and old children too during evening cuddle time

Read with help first grade readers

Read alone to other second grade and older

Paperback: 80 pages

Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers (June 16, 1998)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0679889310

ISBN-13: 978-0679889311

Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 5.1 x 0.2 inches

 

 

Wake ’em Up in the Morning

Dark Magic, Keurig Green Mountain K Cups

 

 

24

See it at Amazon 

(5/5)

Pros: Decaf and Caffeinated available, tasty, full bodied, various cup quantities available

Cons: none noted

Keurig® Green MountainDark Magic® Extra Bold, Dark Roast created of Arabica coffee produces a flavorful cup that is robust, not wimpy, strong, but not acidic or bitter. This is a brew sure to wake you up in the morning and get you going. This is not a beverage for the faint of heart or those who prefer a pale read the morning paper through the draught as you pour.

While not quite so knock your socks off as is the case with the Dark Roast Jet Fuel, this caffeinated, or decaf selection if you prefer, presenting an invigorating tangy blend is offered in the common, incomparable single serving design fashioned to protect the coffee from light, moisture and air.

The accustomed white poly cup is filled with Arabica ground bean coffee prior to being capped with the familiar deep green foil cover having gold lettering spelling Dark Magic across the cover indicates decaf while the deep brown cover is found on the caffeinated cup.

 images

Extra Bold appears prominently on individual cups as well as on the light cardboard box holding 24 or more cups. While Husband restricts most of his coffee drinking to the decaf due to High Blood Pressure precautions, I like both the decaf and the caffeine rich cups. All in all the Dark Magic K Cup is hard to miss.

 

 images  2

I find Dark Magic K-Cup Coffee to be an audacious, dusky, full-bodied, wake ‘em up in the morning, and keep ‘em awake throughout the day type brew. Cheeky Coffee flavor with Cheeky Coffee Character presents a piquancy that is heavy-duty, not frail, not burnt or overcooked, this is a drink for those who choose coffee you can read the morning paper with not through.

I find the unflinching full body bursting with smooth tang and exceptional fragrance, does not bite, even though it does open the eyes and clear away the sleep from the mind.

Husband’s high blood pressure today commands that most of the brew we concoct in large amount daily in the WEST BEND old time PERCOLATOR must be de caffeinated. While I notice no real taste difference between the decaf or caffeinated coffee brewed in the percolator; I really do not want to drink all of my coffee as decaf only. Husband enjoys coffee all day much as do I.

Most days I do not want to brew up a whole pot of caffeinated, I do drink some decaf along with the caffeinated, and I don’t want to have two percolators going nonstop. Using K-cups means I can prepare myself a cup of caffeine laced brew, and do not need interrupt the brewing of the decaf we keep churning in the percolator pot.

Each K-Cup created with an integrated coffee filter means easy clean up, no measuring, no mess and what a tasty brew in the drinking mug. K-Cups are specifically intended for use in single-cup brewing systems. Green Mountain Coffee extends an outsized mixture of prime coffees produced using quality Arabica beans obtained from supreme coffee production areas worldwide.

Happy to recommend Keurig® Green MountainDark Magic® Extra Bold, Dark Roast.

 Note: the following is a bit of company history.

I personally like knowing something of the company history, location and the like for products I use. If you do not please skip, if you also have the interest this is a growing company with an interesting history.

Internet search indicates: Launched in 1981 as a small café in Waitsfield, Vermont, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, roasted and served a specialty, delicious coffee.

Soon calls for the coffee grew; local restaurants and inns began asking to be supplied as well.

While the original café is no longer owned by Green Mountain Coffee, the corporation now continues its headquarters in Waterbury, Vermont utilizing a 90,000-square-foot roasting and distribution facility.

During mid 2000s Green Mountain Coffee Roasters acquired Keurig Incorporated, a manufacturer of single-cup brewing systems and the company became known as Keurig Green Mountain, Inc.

As a leader today in specialty coffee, coffee makers, teas, and other beverages, Keurig Green Mountain, Inc. is acknowledged for its high-quality beverages, state-of-the-art Keurig® brewing expertise, and socially responsible professional practices. Keurig Green Mountain, Inc. inspires consumer desire for its products by updating beverage preparation at home and in the workplace.

Supporting local and global communities Keurig Green Mountain, Inc. invests in sustainably-grown coffee, and by its active involvement in a variety of social and environmental projects.

2011, Green Mountain Coffee and Starbucks announced Starbucks would sell its coffee in single-serve pods for brewing with Green Mountain’s Keurig machines.

Also in 2011 Green Mountain announced a similar agreement with Dunkin’ Donuts.

Company ideals include: We create the ultimate beverage experience in every life we touch from source to cup – transforming the way the world understands business.

Our MISSION: A Keurig® brewer on every counter and a beverage for every occasion.

Our VALUES: We partner for mutual success, We innovate with passion, courage and curiosity, to shape the future by redefining the customer experience.

Our team sets ambitious goals and meets each challenge with unified purpose and character.

We brew a better world

We use the power of business to make the world a better place

 

Keurig Green Mountain, Inc.,

33 Coffee Lane

Waterbury, VT 05676

 

 

Robinson continues the building phase on this alternate Earth.

Earth 2 Vol. 2: The Tower of Fate (The New 52)

Price: $13.23

(3/5)

Pros: Stylish artwork and the future is looking good

Cons: Robinson’s narrative can be too wordy and unengaging

Earth 2’s new wonders whom are made up of Green Lantern, Hawkgirl, The Flash, and Atom have defeated Grundy and saved the world from total annihilation, which brings about the return of Wonder’s (superheroes) to the world. While the citizens seem to be grateful of this, the Earth’s government whom is supported by The World Army are rather skeptical and are taking steps against them. -summary

Collecting Earth 2 issues 7 – 12, #0 and DC Universe Presents # 0, James Robinson continues his Earth 2 run by immediately picking up where he left off with the original story. He moves forward in fleshing out this new alternate world; in other words, this volume is nothing more of a world builder that mainly sets up for future events.

The plot is scattered as Robinson’s focus seems to be on several angles. The character Terry Sloan that was introduced in the previous volume whom wanted to nuke DC in order to kill Grundy receives an ample amount of background and personality building. To include, his feud with the World Army commander named Kahn, receives some type of development planting the seeds of a rivalry here, with Kahn attempting to expose Sloan as a madman. There are other and more interesting developments taking place such as the occupying of a country involving Steppenwolf, the Apokolips warrior whom lead the attack on Earth five years earlier. I will say at the moment his purpose in the story aroused my interest immediately on just how dead set on conquest he is; his ruthlessness and strategic personality makes him a decent enough bad guy, and the fact he’s flanked by a formidable enforcer whom will be able to viciously battle the Wonder’s later on raises even more interest.

The story finds its footing eventually when Dr. Fate is finally introduced, and once again I enjoy another different take on a New 52 character. Robinson’s writing is decent at best as he adds some new ideas to older characters, and further raises interest in building this alternate world. However at the same time, he has flaws that are just so noticeable. His narrative is way too wordy and it seems that everything needs to be explained. I found his character interactions tedious at times, and like the previous volume he reaches in other territory to carry his story and plot. There are a few all too obvious borrowed elements from Marvel and even a small bite nibbled from Tomb Raider. Some of these things aren’t exactly bad but they’re just so in your face.

Artwork duties are divided amongst Nicola Scott, Yildiray Cinar, Tomas Girello and others and it kind of shows, especially in the facial designs. I think the final issues taking place in The Tower of Fate arc look the best; the magical combat portions are colorful and imaginative. There are some nice other worldly backgrounds during the meeting with villain Wotan, plus the character designs look really nice with Dr. Fate standing out the best. He looks really awesome with the Egyptian features meshing with his older look. This book does pretty well delivering some stylish and detailed artwork.

Overall, my feelings for this volume are mixed at best; there’s an ample amount of world building and the future looks bright for this run. It would have been a lot better had Robinson shortened his dialog in areas. In any case, this is a decent enough follow up to the first volume and at the moment my interest is still piqued. Recommended if you enjoyed the first volume at all.

Batman: Assault on Arkham [Blu-ray]

Batman: Assault on Arkham [Blu-ray]

Price $15.99 

(2.5/5)

Pros: Loads of action and good visuals

Cons: Bland and weakly executed plot, weak comedy trying hard to be funny

Batman interferes with a capture mission involving the Riddler headed by Amanda Waller. He defeats her unit and then returns the Riddler back to Arkham Asylum. Determined to capture him, Amanda Waller recruits several captured villains forming herself the Suicide Squad to break into Arkham and find the Riddler. At the same time Batman is on his personal mission to find and disarm a bomb hidden somewhere by the Joker. -summary

Released in August 2014 as a direct to video feature, Batman: Assault on Arkham is a 76 minute movie taking place in the Batman: Arkham Asylum video game universe as it’s said to follow Arkham Origins, which was the last game released in 2013. At the same time, the storytelling in a way follows DC’s New 52 series Suicide Squad in total style and yes, even in its mediocre writing. I have not really enjoyed the Suicide Squad comic at all, therefore I did not come into this movie really expecting much. In fact, my major gripes with the comic are in full effect with this movie.

First of all I would like to address the misleading title. Although it’s labeled as a Batman movie he’s clearly a secondary character as the Suicide Squad take center stage, most notably the most recognizable character of the group being Deadshot and Joker sidekick Harley. Batman plays a part in some of the main plot but avoid this movie if he’s your only draw. I really didn’t care for this decision either; this is a mistake DC has made for years by not having any faith in their C-List characters to sell products. The Suicide Squad does have a solid following therefore DC should have went on ahead fully naming this movie after them. Personally, Batman not being featured prominently isn’t an issue for me.

Assault on Arkham is an action movie completely at its core with a pretty good plot that is weakly executed. The Suicide Squad which is made up of Deadshot, Captain Boomerang, Black Spider, King Shark, Harley, and Killer Frost are blackmailed by Waller to invade Arkham. In order to get their cooperation, she had small bombs implanted into the back of their necks to instantly kill them if they attempt disobedience.  Their mission requires a sharp blanket of stealth which immediately goes out the window due to the Squad’s different personalities. The action segments are pretty fun and that’s mainly about it going on here. These types of movies are suppose to be packed with suspense and plot twist that enhances the viewing experience. Unfortunately everything couldn’t be anymore spelled out and predictable. This is probably about as barebones an action movie of this type can be. Even the interactions lack imagination and urgency. Killerfrost and Deadshot are two of my favorite below radar villains, yet I found myself not even caring about them; and Harley as of late has been a disease to me. I can’t stand the character at all and her so-called comedic moments never even so much as drew a chuckle from me.

 

Character development is very low here so don’t expect too much outside of these characters initial behavior and how they fight. The writing is pretty weak with some things happening at random and I can understand non fans of the comic not catching some of this stuff. However, as a fan of the comic, DC once again portrayed Amanda Waller as someone lacking in intelligence. Later on in the movie, it’s revealed that Waller wants the Riddler dead instead, and she tasks Killerfrost with this part of the mission. Amanda Waller is no fool, but she clearly comes off as one. She knows that the Riddler may easily be Batman’s most intelligent enemy, but she sends in Killerfrost who isn’t very bright. Why send in your least intelligent operative to silence the Riddler, whose mouth and intellect are his greatest weapons?  She could have chosen Black Spider or even Deadshot given the fact most villains don’t like the Riddler. I have more issues I can bring up with this including the ending but I’ll leave it alone.

The animation is decent enough as there’s plenty of fisticuffs and even brutal onscreen killings. Batman’s battles are still very engaging though and there is plenty to rope in the action fiend. At least in this area I won’t dare say that I was ever bored. People new to these characters will get some idea on how they battle with Killer Frost being a high point here. It was great to hear Kevin Conroy voicing Batman again, but the overall voice acting was mainly hampered by poor dialog and stale interactions. The only high point here is the meeting between Batman and Amanda Waller voiced by CC Pounder; they didn’t exactly bring back the magic some of us witnessed during their clash in Justice League Unlimited, but they managed to put a small on my face. In regards to the soundtrack; I’m aware that Dubstep has its following but this form of music is quickly becoming poison to my ears. I hated the BGM and tried my best to block it out.

Batman: Assault on Arkham is difficult to recommend to adults. The silly and childish sexual references along with the forced unfunny comedy is something that will mainly appeal to teenage boys. This is one of those occasions where mature only means not for children. I suggest giving this a watch if you love the things I found to be a problem, or if you’re like me, and simply need to give all comic to animation adaptations a chance. There are plenty of bonus features such as 4 episodes pulled from Justice League Unlimited, Young Justice, Batman: Brave and the Bold, and The Batman. Plus a sneak peek on the next DC animated feature due out in 2015, Throne of Atlantis.