Wednesday, June 30, 2010


There is something wonderful about discovering a good web comic. You’re filled with excitement as a new world unfolds around you. I get wrapped up into stories pretty easily; I guess that is why I have so many bookshelves. So when I find a book, comic, or webcomic I really enjoy I like to point it out to my friends. Which brings us to Topaz.

Topaz is a new web comic by Joel Carroll. As of this blog post it is only on page 5, so you’re getting in on the ground floor here. In a couple years you can act all snooty and tell people, “of course I know about Topaz, I’ve been reading it from the start.” Then they feel all insecure and probably cry but you’ll feel better about yourself because you are an ass. Uh….sorry; got a little carried away there. Never mind all that.

There isn’t a lot to Topaz yet; even the strips themselves are pretty light on dialogue. And then you take a better look at the composition of it. You pay more attention to the graphic design of the computer readouts and such. It’s understated but the design work is beautiful. I’m a sucker for Joel’s artwork anyway, but this is impressive stuff it you really take a look at it.

Topaz isn’t alone in the universe either. It is part of a web comics portal called Space Dock 7. They aren’t connected story wise; it is just an easy site to remember to find seven wonderful comics. So go check out Topaz and then start checking out all the others hanging out at the Space Dock. I’d be willing to bet you find more then one new comic that you’ll fall in love with.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

War for Botcon

You may have noticed I didn’t update the site Saturday. My original plan was to finally put up a review of War for Cybertron. By that point I think I would be able to offer a pretty fair review of the game even though I still haven’t finished both campaigns in the game yet. But I got distracted by Botcon, the yearly Transformer convention. This year it was in Orlando, so I figured I wouldn’t miss out on the opportunity and skipped out on both my work and my blog.

So today will be a double shot; a game review and a con review. Which one was more fun? Check out the reviews after the jump.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Flash: NFS 1

Two weeks ago I reviewed the Flash Uni-Formz and my page hits went through the roof. Since yesterday I declared Thursday was for all things beer, here at That F’ing Monkey, Fridays are now Flash Fridays. Sadly I don’t have any brand new, super cool Flash items to review today. But every Friday for the next three weeks I’m going to be sharing special items in my Flash collection that can’t be bought off the shelf.

I’m going to cover the items in the order they joined my collection. All of them were made or worked on by individuals that are near and dear to my heart, so trying to rank them any other way would be too difficult.

Number 1 is revealed after the jump.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Beer is Good and Stuff

My first post on this blog was about beer and then, well I got busy talking about robots and cowboys. But now we’re back to beer and I won’t neglect it as much as we move forward. Wednesday is my normal night out at the local pub, so for a little while Thursdays will be the day to talk about beer. In fact we are going to talk about 126 beers. If that sounds like a pretty specific number that is the number of different beers I need to drink to get my own glass at the bar I go to. Some will be pretty well know, I won’t spend much time on them. The ones that are more obscure will get a bigger write up.

Beers 1, 2, 3

Beer 1 was a Guinness, because that is what I’m normally drinking when I hit the pub anyway. It is going to be hard to get through that many other beers when the Bartenders usually start pouring a Guinness for me as soon as they see me walkthrough the door.

Beer 2 wasn’t very exciting either, it was a Newcastle. Not that there is anything wrong with Newcastle. I enjoy a brown ale every once in a while. But last night I was just more interested in checking off the beers they have on draft. So it was a Newcastle night.

Beer 3 was a Fort Collins Chocolate Stout. Here is where we get interesting. I’ve had chocolate stouts before but not this one. It has a nice head and a good chocolaty smell. You don’t get much chocolate in the taste and the flavor here isn’t very heavy. I am a fan of stouts and this seems not as strong as a lot of the others. So if not being able to see through your beer intimidates you, this might be a good one to try. For those who care about the numbers, ABV was just under 5 and IBU just over 30.

Next week we’ll probably get to 3 or 4 other beers. I’ll try to delve deeper into the selection, if anyone has any suggestions on beers to try I’ll see if they have it. So with that I’ll leave you with some words of wisdom from either Dean Martin or Frank Sinatra, they’ve both said it, not sure who said first.

“I feel sorry for people who don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day.”

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

One Year of Clockworks

I have a longstanding saying that goes, “Dreams and RPG characters are only interesting to the people that had them.” Maybe you can get away with it if the description is extremely brief. Someone says, “Last night I had a dream I was surfing on a Japanese speaking shark,” I’m amused. But I don’t want to hear another 15 minutes worth of said dream. The same goes for role playing games. “I played a vampire street racer once in a LA based game,” is acceptable. Cornering me in the RPG section of a Barnes and Nobles and telling me your character’s life story for an hour is not.

With this rule firmly in place, reading about someone else’s campaign should be the equivalent to water boarding. When it comes to Clockworks though, it is the complete opposite. Clockworks is a web comic by Shawn Gaston which retells the events of the game he ran for his friends. It is also a home brew setting using the Savage Worlds RPG system. The reason I’m letting you know about all of this now is that Clockworks just turned a year old!

If you’re a gamer, his site has all the info you need to run your own game in the Clockwork universe. If you don’t care about spending nights with funny looking dice and character sheets you can still enjoy the strip without feeling in the dark. Like any web comic the art is always evolving, but you don’t really notice until you go back and look at the older stuff. I’d say Shawn’s layouts and flow have really come a long way. Hopefully that doesn’t come off as a backhanded compliment.

The cast is wonderful. Eva, Thornton, Toby, Ophelia, and Oliver are very fun characters that we are getting to learn about as the comic goes on. Except Oliver, damn him for being all mysterious and cool...or a vampire. Even more impressive then the characters are the setting. The extra information put out about the game world is deep. Shawn has done an awesome job in creating a world and one of these days I’m going to get a group together and run a game in it.

So congrats to Shawn on going a year, here’s to many more. If you’ve never heard of Clockworks, hopefully you’ll check it out. This week has been full of great fan art and character backgrounds.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Jonah Hex: The Movie Review

So the Jonah Hex movie came out Friday and made an underwhelming 5.38 Million. Rotten Tomatoes has it listed at 14%. Not a very good percentage. I had made a promise to myself to give the movie a chance; to go into the theater and not expect to see a direct translation of one of my favorite characters. I had two surprises Monday morning when I walked into the theater at 11:45. First, there were actually other people there. Not a lot sure, but I was expecting an empty theater. The second surprise; despite all its flaws, I enjoyed the movie.

I’m not saying it is a masterpiece. Maybe my expectations were so low it would be hard to make a movie as bad as I was expecting. But as I watched there were moments in the film that had me grinning widely; even cheering. There were things that made me roll my eyes too. A few times I even received a sympathetic pat on the arm from my wife. Bottom line though, I left the theater and enjoyed most of what I had just seen.

Spoilers after the jump.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Transformers Countdown #1, Springer

Transformers: War for Cybertron is out this Tuesday, unless you go to Sears apparently. There are lots of reports of them breaking street date. I didn’t even know Sears still sold video games. Anyway, to celebrate what looks like it is going to be an awesome game I’ve been counting down my favorite Transformer toys I had as a kid. The list started with Thundercracker, then went to Sideswipe, Tracks, and Slag. Finally we are down to number one. Released in 1986 along with the Transformers Movie, my all time favorite Transformer is Springer.

I was 10 when the movie came out, exactly 10 because it came out on my birthday. The movie did many things that probably explain why I’m so strange, but that is better left to another discussion. The important thing it did that we’re talking about today is that it introduced Springer. All of sudden the Transformers were shoved into the far future of 1995. Of course the movie introduced a bunch of new Autobots who never took the form of Earth vehicles; they were all futuristic looking Cybertronian vehicles. And in my mind Springer was the coolest.

More triple changing after the jump.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Double shot of Hex

The Jonah Hex movie opens today, well I suppose some places did midnight releases so technically it opened this morning. In case the movie gets you interested in the books the character came from I’ve been going over some easy jumping on points. Yesterday I talked about the earliest Jonah Hex stories collected in the Showcase format. Today I’m going to cover two more current stories. Face Full of Violence and the just released No Way Back.

Face Full of Violence, besides having an awesome name is the first trade paperback collecting the new Jonah Hex series. Written by Justin Grey and Jimmy Palmiotti the comics are usually self-contained one and done stories. The fantastic part is at almost any time you could grab one issue and read it without feeling lost in a sea of continuity. They also have no permanent artist, so the style is constantly changing. Phil Noto has been one of my favorites, but the series artist list is full of big names.

More Violence after the jump.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Showcase Presents: Jonah Hex, Vol. 1

The Jonah Hex movie comes out this Friday and commercials are all over the TV. Earlier I talked about the different cartoon versions of Hex that are out there. I plan on seeing the movie Monday afternoon, so expect a review Monday or Tuesday. I’ve been a Hex fan for years, but I realize that there may be some people seeing that scarred visage for the first time. If they like what they see they may want to jump into the print version of the character. So over the next couple days I’m going to cover some great books that are fairly easy to pick up.

The first book that we’ll look at is Showcase Presents: Johan Hex, Vol. 1. The Showcase Presents books are fantastic deals. They may be in black and white, but the Hex book is 528 pages long. That is a whole lot of Hex for 17 bucks. In this book you get the earliest Jonah Hex stories, well before he even got his own series. The stories come from Weird Western Tales, although the first is listed as All-Star Western that book changed its name to Weird Western Tales with issue 12.

More leather slapping after the break.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Transformers Countdown #2, Slag

War for Cybertron is only days away from release so we are getting close to the end of my Transformers countdown. Looking back at my favorite Transformers as a kid we’ve already covered Thundercracker, Sideswipe, and Tracks. The toy line already had cars, trucks, jets, and guns; what else could a kid want? Oh yeah, dinosaurs! The Dinobots were huge when they came out. They looked fantastic. They were all done in the same color scheme, mostly a grey with metallic silver and gold, so they looked like a cohesive unit. My personal favorite was Dinobot Slag.

Slag transformed into a Triceratops which has always been my favorite dinosaur, so as soon as I saw him I knew I had to have him. Except when the Dinobots came out they were incredibly popular. You couldn’t find them on the shelves. Then one day after calling ahead to stores my cousin and I found out that Service Merchandise was getting a shipment in! We waited with my Aunt in the back of the store where there was this long conveyer belt. The Dinobots were in the back and they were going to send two of them down the belt. I was so excited to see those boxes, it seemed like forever. Then finally, we get the boxes in our hands and I could see I got...Sludge, the Brontosaurus. Sure he was cool, but I was so disappointed.  Luckily a month or two later I finally got Slag.

More Slagging after the jump.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Jungle Love

A love of monkeys is one of those stereotypical geek things.  It is just a given that nerds like monkey references.  Where does it start from?  While I can’t answer for the collective geek conscious I can firmly say where it started for me.  I grew up in Warren, Michigan and when I was very young the Detroit Zoo had a chimpanzee show.  I remember a chimp; I think he was named Jo-Jo.  He rode tricycles, he played cowboy, and he was the star of the show.  I was hooked.

Obviously, something like that wouldn’t fly in the zoos of today.  This was before the days of making sure every animal enclosure looks like their natural environment.  The shows ran from 1932-1982.   Wanting to talk about the old chimpanzee shows got me doing some research about the Detroit Zoo and I found some interesting things to share.  So promise to come back to those primates, but first let me get to some other odd stories I’ve found in my research.

More monkeyshines after the jump.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Transformers Countdown #3, Tracks

June 22nd is fast approaching, which means that War for Cybertron will soon be sitting in my Xbox 360. There is a demo on Xbox Live right now showing off the multi-player!  To celebrate the game’s release I’m counting down my top five favorite transformers as a kid. Thundercracker and Sideswipe were numbers five and four. Both characters came out in the initial release and are both confirmed to be in War for Cybertron. Sadly they are the only two characters on my list confirmed to be in the game.  My next two picks in the countdown were released the year after Transformers US debut, 1985. So the Transfomer we’ll be talking about today is the Autobot, Tracks.

Tracks’ vehicle mode is a blue Corvette Stingray. While I still appreciate Corvettes now, as a kid I loved them. Corvette pictures on my wall, Corvette Hot Wheels cars, and then a Corvette Transformer. The moment I saw him, all of the other bots who had come before him were forgotten. But there was so much more to the toy to love and then there was a crushing disappointment afterwards.

More love and disappointment after the jump.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Flash Uni-Formz Review

Thursday I got a giant box on my doorstep but I haven’t had the time to take some pictures and do a write up until now. Inside the box was the Flash Uni-Formz three pack. For those who haven’t seen them, Uni-Formz are DC’s foray into the urban vinyl market. Vinyl figs are certainly becoming more mainstream with things like Mighty Muggs, Uni-Formz, and Disney’s Vinylmation. I’d like to think I was a little ahead of the trend on this one having my house inhabited by a few Munny figures, a Labbit, and Kid Robot’s mascot dressed like the Man with No Name.

The Flash set is the fourth release in the Uni-Formz series. Batman, Superman, and Green Lantern all came before it. All of the figures use the same basic body, only a new head and minor other features are added to the body to change the character. Add a ring to the Lantern’s hand or put a cape and belt on the Superman; that kind of thing. Each set contained the main character and two types of variants. Modern Batman got a Classic and Armored Version. Modern Superman came with a Cyborg and Lifesuit version. Green Lantern came with a Silver Age and Blue Lantern version. Flash comes with a Zoom and a Black Flash. I think the Flash set comes out better then the others, at least each figure is a different character rather then a costume change.

So how does DC’s Flash Uni-Formz rate? Keep reading after the jump.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

2 Losses, 1 Cup

Congrats to the Blackhawks for their first cup win since 1961. The entire series was always close and as someone with no emotional investment in either team; it was fantastic to watch. Antti Niemi was stunning when he had to be. On the Philly side, Scott Hartnell is one of my favorite players to watch. Pronger and Byfuglien were brutal. I kept hoping the Fliers would unleash the Carcillo, but when he was on the ice his reputation was drawing penalties even when he wasn’t. And then there is Marian Hossa.

There are a handful of hockey players I don’t like. I won’t go into them all now, but things like refusing to play in a city, comments about your own team, and sometimes sucker punching puts you on my hated player list. Hossa was on my list. Sure it doesn’t mean anything to him, but I’ve come to terms with it and may have given up hating him.

More changing of heart after the break.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Transformers Countdown #4, Sideswipe

War for Cybertron comes out on June 22. Because I’m so excited about a game that is calling itself a G1 prequel, I’m counting down my top five favorite Transformer toys from my childhood. Number 5 was Thundercracker the only Decepticon to make the list, so if you were hoping to see Megatron you’ll be disappointed. Although as a kid I did get in trouble at an airport because of Megatron, but that is a story for another time. I mentioned how Thundercracker was my first full sized bot; Sideswipe was my first Autobot.

Sideswipe transforms into a red Lamborghini Countach. When he switches to robot mode not only did he get a gun, but he also had a shoulder mounted missile launcher. The missile launcher I had didn't fire at all, the spring must have been messed up.  In the cartoon, I don’t remember him getting much of a spotlight. Unlike the last Transformers cartoon the starting Autobots had a pretty large cast, so lots of characters were extra soldiers filling in the background. So Sideswipe and his brother were pretty much filler. Wait. What? Did I just say brother?

More Sideswiping and brothers after the break…

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

In the Magic Kingdom no one can hear you scream

My niece is staying with us for a few days. So my wife and I decided to take her to Disney World; or as my wife would correct me, the Magic Kingdom. See, my wife is a Disney fanatic. To her it brings back thoughts of yearly trips down from Chicago with her family. I’ve lived in the Orlando are most of my life, so when I think of Disney I usually think of long lines, screaming kids, arguing parents, and well you get the idea.

While there we saw the construction walls up for the new Fantasy Land upgrade. Apparently there will be separate areas for all the princesses. Fantasy Land is an overcrowded cluster the way things are now, so I see this as a good thing. My wife, who still yearns for the return of 20,000 Leagues and Mr. Toad, isn’t sold on the idea yet. Her reaction got me thinking of the one thing I truly miss at Disney. The one attraction that made me grin from ear to ear, the ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter.

More TERROR after the break..

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Transformers Countdown #5, Thundercracker

War for Cybertron comes out at the end of the month. The game looks incredible and I figured I’d use my excitement for the upcoming game to talk about some of the transformers I love. I’m going to do a top 5 countdown of the ones who really stick out from my childhood. So sorry Lockdown, you’ll have to wait until I do a more current Transformers list.

My first ever transformers was the Lazerbeak and Frenzy two pack. But my first ever full sized was Thundercracker. It was 1984 so I was 7 or 8 at the time. My cousin Jeff got the black jet, Skywarp and I picked the blue one. Robots that turned into jets, they blew my tiny mind. I still remember running around my aunt’s living room try to shoot the missiles into this fancy looking ashtray that was on her table.

More thunder cracking after the break…

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Jonah Hex

I think one of the things that gives geeks a bad name is that nerd rage when one of the properties that we love is brought into another medium. We hold so tightly onto continuity that any changes send comic fans running to forums and screaming how the film adaption raped their childhood. We need to learn to loosen up a little bit. No movie is so bad that it ruins the memory of something you love. It doesn’t go into your room and burn all your old comics so that you can’t read them anymore.

Jonah Hex is coming out later this month and I’ll be there opening weekend. Am I expecting my vision of Jonah Hex? No, the horse mounted Gatling guns and crossbow thingie have proved to me this is a different interpretation then I’m used to. But I’m going to try to be open-minded and see if I can enjoy something from this version.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Blackhawks must be stopped

It’s the Stanley Cup finals and although my beloved Red Wings have been knocked out a couple of rounds ago I’m still glued to the games. I can’t help it; once the playoffs start I’ll watch just about any game on. By the time it gets to the final series I’m totally hooked regardless of the teams playing in it.

The first two games have been incredible, except for one thing, that damn song. Every time the Blackhawks score you hear, “do do do do do do”. The song is called “Chelsea Dagger” and is from a band called the Fratellis.

When you listen to the whole song it is pretty enjoyable, extra points for the band for taking a Goonies inspired name. But during the goal, you mostly just hear the “do do do do” over and over. Every time they score. During the play offs they’ve been on home ice 10 times now I think. In the first game of the finals they scored 6 times. I feel for every team they’ve had to play against.

Thankfully the next two games will be in Philly. Oh and it looks like Nicklas Lidstrom just signed for one more year in Detroit. I guess I have something to “do do do do” about now.


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