Thursday, February 28, 2013 Sober People Everywhere Breathe Sigh of Relief as Sausage Costume Returned

I really wanna believe someone wore the outfit to fight crime.  But I know the thieves probably just got drunk and had sex in it.  From UPI:
Missing sausage costume recovered

MILWAUKEE, Feb. 28

The missing Klement's racing Italian Sausage costume -- which is featured at Milwaukee Brewers baseball games -- was anonymously dropped off at a Wisconsin bar.

The 7-foot-tall costume, named Guido -- was last seen Feb. 16, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

A witness saw the sausage walk out of a fundraiser at the Milwaukee Curling Club's in Cedarburg about 7:45 p.m., Cedarburg police Detective Jeff Vahsholtz said. The Italian sausage was later seen at TJ Ryan's bar in Cedarburg about hour later and also made an appearance around midnight at The Roadhouse Bar and Grill.

Just before 8 p.m. Wednesday, two men -- one wearing a hoodie pulled tight over his face -- dropped the costume off at TJ Ryan's and told staff, "You did not see anything," bartender Jen Mohney said.

"Like I didn't just see two guys plop a sausage on a bar stool," Mohney said, adding that the two left in less than a minute and she immediately called police.

The Famous Klement's Racing Sausages, which also include the Bratwurst, the Polish Sausage, the Hot Dog and the Chorizo, are regularly featured at Brewers games and recently appeared at the team's spring training in Arizona. The Brewers and Klement's each have a set of the costumes.

Remember kids, horrible ethnic stereotypes are A-OK in a food context!

 
Yeah, they've totally had sex in those costumes.



Thursday, February 21, 2013 From the Vault: Flash Point

I have a lot of DVD's.  Flash Point is one of them.

Sha Po Lang may get all the love, but I enjoyed it's kinda-sorta prequel a bit more.  Not least because of the blistering climatic fight between Donnie Yen and Collin Chou.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013 More Space Weirdness

Incommunicado space stations and astral jelly!  Further evidence that we are all trapped in an alien invasion movie!

From CNN:
NASA loses communication with Space Station

By CNN Staff
updated 11:53 AM EST, Tue February 19, 2013


(CNN) -- NASA lost communication with the International Space Station on Tuesday and has established only sporadic connections since, according to NASA spokesman Josh Byerly.

The space agency says it is currently only able to communicate every 90 minutes when the facility passes over ground stations in Russia.

The station, which is carrying one American astronaut and two Russian cosmonauts, does not appear to be in danger, Byerly said.

The loss in communications is not considered unprecedented, though it's considered a cause for concern, officials said.

By the time communication is restored, the astronauts will have been replaced by their alien doppelgangers!

From the BBC:
RSPB Ham Wall 'slime' baffles experts

BBC News Somerset
18 February 2013 Last updated at 15:58


Scientists at a nature reserve in Somerset have been baffled by a jelly-like slime which has appeared in a number of locations at the site.

Experts are divided over the origin of the jelly which has been found on grass banks away from the water's edge at the RSPB's Ham Wall base.

Spokesman Tony Whitehead said although unknown, similar substances have been noted in historical records.

Visitors are being asked to report findings but warned not to touch it.

Scientific speculation as to the nature of the jelly is varied with one of the more favoured explanations that it is a form of cyanobacteria called Nostoc.

Others suggest that it is the remains of the regurgitated innards of amphibians such as frogs and toads and of their spawn.

"In records dating back to the 14th Century it's known variously as star jelly, astral jelly or astromyxin," Mr Whitehead said.

"In folklore it is said to be deposited in the wake of meteor showers."

Mr Whitehead added: "It's great that in this day and age that there are still mysteries out there.

"We've read a few articles now and much speculation.

"One suggested it was neither animal nor plant, and another that it didn't contain DNA, although it does give the appearance of something 'living'.

"Our reserve team will be looking out for the slime over the next few days, but if anyone can offer any explanations we'd be glad to hear." 

All right, so I know this stuff is really just the squishy bits of frogs yuked up by birds or foxes. But it does seem an odd coincidence that a large mass of the guck was found right after a massive meteor blitz. Unless, of course, this goop turns up all the time but only gets reported on after major meteor events - a self-fulfilling coincidence.

Friday, February 15, 2013 Russian Meteor Explosion


In Soviet Russia, meteor lands - no, screw it.  This is too scary for Yakov Smirnoff jokes.  We're all in a movie about the end of the world and the opening scene has just kicked off. 

Everyone's reporting on it, but the article below is from Reuters:
Meteor explodes over central Russia, 500 people hurt

By Natalia Shurmina and Andrey Kuzmin
CHELYABINSK, Russia | Fri Feb 15, 2013 10:44am EST


(Reuters) - A meteor streaked across the sky and exploded over central Russia on Friday, sending fireballs crashing to earth which shattered windows and damaged buildings, injuring more than 500 people.

People heading to work in Chelyabinsk heard what sounded like an explosion, saw a bright light and then felt a shockwave, according to a Reuters correspondent in the industrial city 950 miles east of Moscow.

The fireball, travelling at a speed of 19 miles per second according to Russia's space agency Roscosmos, had blazed across the horizon, leaving a long white trail in its wake which could be seen as far as 125 miles away.

Car alarms went off, windows broke and mobile phone networks were interrupted. The Interior Ministry said the meteor explosion had caused a sonic boom.

"I was driving to work, it was quite dark, but it suddenly became as bright as if it was day," said Viktor Prokofiev, 36, a resident of Yekaterinburg in the Urals Mountains.

"I felt like I was blinded by headlights," he said.

No fatalities were reported, but President Vladimir Putin, who was due to host Finance Ministry officials from the Group of 20 nations in Moscow, told Emergencies Minister Vladimir Puchkov to help those affected.

"Unfortunately, the normal work of some industrial enterprises was disrupted, people have suffered as has social infrastructure - kindergartens, schools," Putin told his Emergencies Minister Sergei Puchkov in televised comments.

"First of all, it is necessary to think about how to help the people, and not only to think about it, but to do it immediately," Putin said.

A local ministry official said such incidents were extremely rare and Friday's events might have been linked to an asteroid the size of an Olympic swimming pool due to pass earth. However, the European Space Agency on its Twitter website said its experts had confirmed there was no connection.

"There have never been any cases of meteorites breaking up at such a low level over Russia before," said Yuri Burenko, head of the Chelyabinsk branch of the Emergencies Ministry.

Russia's Emergencies Ministry said 514 people had sought medical help, mainly for light injuries caused by flying glass, and that 112 of them were kept in hospital.

-----

The Emergencies Ministry described Friday's events as a "meteor shower in the form of fireballs" and said background radiation levels were normal. It urged residents not to panic.

-----

The meteor struck just as an asteroid known as 2012 DA14, about 46 meters in diameter was due to pass closer to earth than any other known object of its size since scientists began routinely monitoring them about 15 years ago.

The small asteroid was expected to pass at a distance of 17,100 miles from earth on Friday.

There are tons of photos and videos of the meteor strike on-line. Folks at RPG.net linked to a nice collection as well as an explanation as to why so many Russian drivers have dashboard cameras (corrupt cops and bad drivers, duh).

I cannot imagine being at ground zero for some Epic Level apocalyptic stuff like this.  I'd be going out of mind trying to decide whether to start prepping for zombies, Triffids, giant space bugs, or weather-controlling aliens in fabulous gowns.  I think I'll be spending the weekend sharpening my stabby things and making sure my go-bag is packed,


Highlander vs the Convenience Store Robber!

This is some Crocodile Dundee shit right here.  From Boston.com:
Robber pulls knife, store clerk pulls sword in New Bedford

By Lauren Dezenski, Globe Correspondent
02/13/2013 6:18 PM  
 

A New Bedford convenience store clerk pulled a sword on a man who tried to rob him while armed with a knife.

The man with the knife ran from the man with the sword, according to New Bedford police.

According to police, the assailant walked into the Lucky Seven Grocery store Tuesday just before noon, and pointed a knife at the 24-year-old clerk.

In response, the clerk pulled out a sword he kept behind the counter, New Bedford Police Detective Captain Steven Vicente said. The knife-wielding man fled the County Street store.

The clerk was unharmed and no money was taken.

Police described the assailant as a white male approximately 40 years old, 5-foot-9, heavy build, with a brown mustache. He was last seen wearing an olive green winter coat, blue jeans, and white-and-blue sneakers.

Boy, that description sure sounds familiar...

Thursday, February 14, 2013 Happy Jack Benny's Birthday!


Valentine's Day is for losers with relationships and sex lives and stuff.  Me?  I'm celebrating Jack Benny's birthday today!

I love Old Time Radio and am a comedy nerd, so of course I am a huge fan of Mr. Kubelsky's.  The Jack Benny Program's three decade run (first on radio, then television) was an amazing accomplishment, but this success did not transfer to the silver screen and Benny starred in only a handful of films. Of these, only the bona fide classic, To Be Or Not To Be, and Charley's Aunt are readily available on home video.

Buck Benny Rides Again is one of the films still MIA on DVD, which is a darn shame.  Not only is it a funny movie in its own right, it's of special interest to Benny fans as a film version of his radio program at its height. The show's entire cast turns up (though notoriously stage-shy Mary Livingstone only contributes a voice cameo).  Several running gags are carried over from the radio, including the title conceit of Benny as a raucous cowboy. It even starts with Don Wilson serving up an introduction as if it were a regular Sunday night broadcast.

Benny considered Eddie "Rochester" Anderson to be the true star of the movie, and he's right.  Anderson shows off his singing and dancing ability, has some of the best lines, and even gets the girl.  Small wonder the premiere was held in Harlem.

This isn't my encode of the movie but it is my upload, in six parts in order to avoid selling my soul to YouTube.  Happy Jack Benny's Birthday!






Tuesday, February 12, 2013 Zombies Rise in the Midwest!


As is being reported all over the intrawebs, hackers cut into the emergency alert system for station KRTV in Montana and broadcast a warning that "the bodies of the dead are rising from their graves and attacking the living". 


Awesome.

The alert was broadcast several times.  KRTV put a notice on their website that the message did not originate from them and that they and the authorities are looking into the incident.

Given the current wave of bugfuckery infecting our nation, I am sure that there are folks out there who believe there really was an outbreak and the hacker story is just a cover.  Which would be amusing until you realize these are the same people who turn up at a shopping center with a bag full of NRA-approved hardware.

UPDATE:  The hackers also hit a couple of stations in Michigan's U.P.  From the WNMU-FM website:
Zombies attack Michigan and Montana (sort of)

By Nicole Walton   

MARQUETTE, MI--   Kids watching Barney on WNMU-TV Monday got a shock when a voice came over the EAS system saying zombies were attacking the living. 

Just before 4 p.m. TV13 and several other stations in Michigan and Montana aired the audio or written crawl about the undead, thanks to overseas hackers.

Eric Smith is Director of Broadcast and Audio-Visual Services at Northern Michigan University.  He says although the message was obviously fake, it could have been worse.

“The concern for us is that it could have been a more serious message that gave the public wrong information.”

Smith says NMU Public Safety officers and the Information Technology department launched an investigation to determine the source of the message.  They’ve found the hackers are from the United Kingdom, according to the IP address. 

They also found that the EAS online manual contained a default password used to first access the system.  EAS-broadcasting stations that hadn't changed the default password since installing it were targeted.

Smith notes today’s online world made the breach more likely.

“What we’re seeing is, when services move to the internet and there’s this high degree of interconnectivity, that the chance for this to happen increases, and that’s why we need to take extra precautions to make sure that the systems are locked and secure.”

Public TV13 is working with the Michigan Association of Broadcasters to implement message authentication measures in hopes of waylaying further hacking attempts.

Smith says he expects the matter to be solved very quickly. 

A TV station in Great Falls, Montana was also hacked.

Emergency systems still using default passwords, zombies, and Barney.  This just keeps getting better and better!

Monday, February 11, 2013 Turkish Vampire Kicks the Habit

At least, that's what the article claims.  It may still be a trick.  From Today's Zaman:
Turkish ‘vampire' gives up blood drinking, biting others

11 February 2013
TODAY'S ZAMAN, ─░STANBUL

A Turkish doctor who documented a 23-year-old man who showed signs of clinical vampirism in an article for the world-renowned Journal of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics in 2011 says his patient has recovered following two years of treatment.

The Turkish patient's name was not revealed by the medical journal, but the study documents showed how the man's compulsion progressed from drinking his own blood to stabbing and biting others and even recruiting his father to bring him blood from the local blood banks.

Turkish doctors diagnosed the man with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and dissociative identity disorder (DID), brought on by witnessing a variety of violent acts throughout his life. Doctors also diagnosed him with having multiple personalities.

The young man was arrested several times after stabbing and biting others to drink their blood. The doctors said they uncovered traumatic events in the man's life leading up to his two-year bloodsucking phase. His four-month-old daughter fell ill and died. Then he witnessed the murder of his uncle. He also saw another violent killing in which “one of his friends cut off the victim's head and penis,” according to the journal.

The man had for a long time been seen talking to himself, and he claimed to be tormented by an imaginary companion who forced him to carry out violent acts and attempt suicide. He also had memory gaps in his daily life and reported instances of being in a new place without any idea of how he got there. "Possibly due to 'switching' to another personality state, he was losing track during the 'bloody' events, did not care who the victim was anymore, and remained amnesic to this part of his act," the report said.

In remarks to the Anatolia news agency, psychiatrist Diren├ž Sakarya said the patient began to take part in social life after he recovered. “The drinking of blood was not an addiction for the patient but a result of a psychiatric disorder,” he said.
Given the patient's experiences I don't blame him for going a bit crazy.  I mean, I've seen my friends do some pretty weird things, but beheading and castrating a guy goes way beyond any of their antics.  (So far.)

Saturday, February 9, 2013 Z is for Zombies: M is for More Brains!


M is for More Brains! A Return to the Living Dead
USA, 2011

The Zombies: O'Bannon Brain-Eaters.

The Source: A chemical spill (2-4-5 Trioxin!)

The Result: A fantastic in-depth look at a genre classic.


Bill Stout attempts a second career as a horror host.

I first saw Return of the Living Dead during its original theatrical run in the summer of 1985.  I had just graduated high school and was at the peak of my zombie phobia, having finally caught Dawn of the Dead at a midnight show the year before.  To say RotLD rocked my world is an understatement.  The film kicked over all the new-found conventions of the zombie genre and managed to be both hilarious and scary.  The soundtrack was great, the movie's punks actually looked like punks*, and oh, that graveyard dance...

Return of the Living Dead has built up a massive following over the years, and most of us were disappointed by the US blu-ray release.  The original soundtrack was replaced by a director-approved version that tweaked the sound effects and dropped some musical cues to the detriment of the film.  When I heard that the UK release had the original soundtrack, included the More Brains! documentary as a bonus, and was compatible with Region A PS3s, it was not a difficult decision to order a copy.

It turns out the blu-ray will play in most if not all US players.  Once you get the region warning screen, simply hit the menu button and the HD content - the main movie and the fantastic documentary - will play just fine.  However, your player does need to be able to play PAL SD content in order to view all of the bonus features.  My PS3 wouldn't play the extras but my Philips handled it swelegantly.

More Brains! features just about everyone still above ground who was involved in the making of the film.  At just over 120 minutes, the documentary is a half-hour longer than the film it covers.  However, the doc never outstays it's welcome.  The cast and crew reminiscences are put together in a way that feels like a lively conversation instead of a parade of talking heads.  The animated link segments and thematic set design for the interviews also keep things peppy, and the behind-the-scenes footage will be new to most fans. I loved every minute of this documentary, not least because it shows that those who made RotLD have just as much affection for it as their audience. 

The blu-ray comes in a handsome steelbook with groovy interior art and a cool booklet (presented as the notepad of Ernie Kaltenbrunner).  Amazon UK asserts that the steelbook is shipped in "guaranteed crush-proof packaging".  Well, Brit guarantees don't mean nothin' to Americans - the US Postal Service managed to put a nice little ding in the bottom back half of my copy.  USA!  USA!  USA!


Halloween is a time for family.

More Brains! easily rates at least a 4 for fans of Return of the Living Dead.  Add in the classic film itself - with its original soundtrack - in some nifty packaging, and the blu-ray is an absolute most-own.


A mighty 5 Ghouls!


* I hung with a punk/New Wave crowd during the mid-80's.  I was the "Chuck" of the group, albeit a lot more self-aware and clad in bomber jackets instead of suits. I didn't beg for sex**, either, though I might have if someone as hot as Linea Quigley was around. 


**I just sort of whimpered.

Friday, February 8, 2013 From the Vault: The Flesh-Eaters

I have a lot of DVD's.  The Flesh-Eaters is one of them.

Anyone who grew up watching horror movies on UHF channels will remember this film for the one nightmare-inducing scene that freaked all us kids out - the brutal demise of the goofy, Gilligan-esque beatnik, Omar.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013 Beware the Cookie Monster!

Huzzah!  I have a new favorite real-life super-villain!  From the Telegraph:
German police hunt 'Cookie Monster' over theft of gold biscuit

German police have launched a hunt for the "Cookie Monster" after an iconic golden biscuit was stolen from one of the country's most famous biscuit makers.

By Matthew Day
3:00PM GMT 05 Feb 2013

An empty space marks the spot where, until earlier this month, the gilded bronze sculpture graced the facade of the cookie baker's Hanover office.

The symbol has disappeared and according to a ransom note sent to a German newspaper, the sign won't be returned until Bahlsen supplies cookies to all the rooms at a local children's hospital.

"I have the cookie! And you want it," the letter read, according to the Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung (HAZ) newspaper.

The letter - comprised in the traditional ransom note style of newspaper cuttings - is said to be signed by a "Cookie Monster".

The individual wants Bahlsen to supply the hospital with its Leibniz biscuits, preferably the whole milk variety.

Accompanying the note is a photo of someone wearing a Sesame Street-style costume and snaffling what appears to be the golden cookie.

Police are not sure if it is the same cookie, or a real claim of responsibility.

The real Cookie Monster has assured followers on Twitter that he is not the culprit. "Me no steal the golden cookie. But me willing to help find real cookie thief!" (http://t.co/CAdohpVu)

It is unclear how the symbol was taken, but police say witnesses reported having seen two men with a ladder in the area earlier this month.

The company had offered €1,000 for information leading to the cookie's recovery.

The biscuit baker has also pledged to give 52,000 packs of Leibniz biscuits to 52 social institutions if the golden cookie is returned.

Bahlsen assured HAZ that the events of the last few weeks were not a marketing campaign.

The local children's hospital has spoken out against the coercion.

"One cannot forget that what we are dealing with here is a case of theft and blackmail," a hospital spokesperson told HAZ. "Bahlsen has already done a lot for our hospital - it doesn't need to be coerced in this way." 


Cookie Monster's 'golden biscuit' found hanging from horse

A "golden biscuit" stolen from a German biscuit manufacturer by a thief claiming to be the Sesame Street character the Cookie Monster has been found hanging from an equine statue in Hanover.

By Matthew Day
3:00PM GMT 05 Feb 2013


German crime scene detectives in masks and rubber gloves, and aided by a fire brigade ladder, removed the 20 kilogram, biscuit-shaped ornament from a statue of a rearing horse outside Hanover's Leibniz University.

The case of the golden biscuit made international headlines when the "Cookie Monster" wrote a letter to Bahlsen, the owners of the sign and a household name in the world of German biscuits and a local paper saying that he had been responsible for its theft in mid-January.

If Bahlsen wanted to see the sign that had graced the exterior of their offices since 1913 again, the letter said, they would have to donate free biscuits to a children's hospital. A failure to comply would mean the sign would join Grouch, a rubbish-bin-dwelling Sesame Street character.

Werner Bahlsen, the company's chief executive, promised to donate 52,000 biscuit packets to 52 different organisations, including the hospital, if the sign was returned unscathed.

Just before the sign was found, a local newspaper received a second letter from the Cookie Monster saying that he would return it because "Werni" (Werner Bahlsen) was "crying because he misses it so much".

The letter was also accompanied by a photograph of somebody dressed as the Cookie Monster pretending to take a bite out of the golden biscuit.

Oh, I would so totally hench for this criminal genius!  It'd probably be the only time my Reubensque figure would be appropriate for cape and spandex shenanigans!

Monday, February 4, 2013 DVD Shuffle: January Genre Fest

In between marathon sessions of Black Ops II, I spent much of my free time this past month catching up with some recent DVD releases.  I have opinions and observations, but rather than inflicting them on anyone I'll just leave them in this tiny, forgotten corner of the internet.


DREDD

There's a lot of good buzz a-brewin' on the interwebs for this baby.  I've even read Dredd described as "The Raid done right".  Well, sure, if you define "done right" as "replacing the exhilarating martial art brawls with a middle-aged white dude shooting people".  Dredd lacks the tension of that Indoesian film as well.  In most action media, it's not a matter of whether the protagonist will prevail but how; in Judge Dredd's case, we know it's going to be by gunning down lots and lots of people.

Taken on its own terms, though, it's a fun little shoot-em-up that didn't deserve the poor reception it received.  Although the satiric nature of the source material is still MIA, Dredd is a staggering improvement over the last film based on the comic. 



RESIDENT EVIL: RETRIBUTION

I will never get tired of seeing Michelle Rodriquez scowl or Mila Jovovich wearing nothing but two strategically-placed paper towels.  I got tired of everything else about the RE series long ago.  Still, the scowls and towels keep me coming back.  Dumbass.

And so the latest installment.  For the first twenty minutes or so I thought we might be getting a string of neat, marginally related zombie vignettes; all the zombie ass-kicking we love without any extraneous crap.  No such luck.  Director Paul "Not the Good One" Anderson insisted on continuing the convoluted, po-faced narrative that has dogged the series from the first sequel.  Lots of old faces return, joined by a batch of noobs who must surely have been hired solely for their resemblance to video game characters and not for anything resembling actual acting ability.  Still, a rather nifty fight scene involving an impromptu meteor hammer might make this one worth a rental.


I hope they paid Colin Salmon in rubies, because he certainly deserves better than this.


TOTAL RECALL

Fantastic set design, a couple of cool gadgets, and enough lensflare to make even JJ Abrahams cry uncle; that's all I can remember about this one, which is kind of ironic if you think about it.  Colin Farrell might have played the lead, maybe, opposite a couple of skinny brunettes I had a hard time telling apart.


ABRAHAM LINCOLN, VAMPIRE HUNTER

I was really surprised by Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter.  It's a completely dopey premise, and the filmmakers took the wisest course of action and played it completely straight.  Astonishingly (or maybe not), ALVK features the best acting and most impressive visuals of any film on this list.  The screenplay (credited to the novel's author) is smart without being smug and pays attention to lots of little details - my favorite bit was a former slave busting out some Capoeria moves without fanfare.  If you see two films about Abraham Lincoln this year, ALVK should be one of them.


Abraham Lincoln was taught kung fu by a vampire, and I am okay with that.


BOURNE LEGACY

While I'm not the biggest Bourne fan, I did enjoy the most recent entry in the series.  I think the change in casting - cited by many as the reason for the film's underperformance - actually helped.  Jeremy Renner's Aaron Cross is a lot more interesting than the blank slate amnesiac of the previous outings and has a solid motivation for crazy, globe-trotting shenanigans.  Be warned, though, that viewers coming into the series cold might get a little confused, as the entire plot hinges on Jason Bourne's activities in Ultimatum.  But if the loss of Matt Damon isn't a deal-killer for you, Bourne Legacy is worth a look.


NAZIS AT THE CENTER OF THE EARTH

Oh, boy!   My first Asylum flick!  I gave this one a chance because I thought it was an honest-to-gosh original concept from the mockbuster maestros and it sounded like a neat idea.  I got as far as the opening credits before it dawned on me that it was a rip-off of Iron Sky, only up instead of down.  Dang.

A team of the world's greatest medical researchers (Under 30 Division) discover that Josef Mengele is alive and well and living in the Hollow Earth.  Someone must have spent an afternoon perusing Wikipedia, because Neuschwabenland, Agartha, and vril all get name-checked.  But some audacious ideas, including Nazi flying saucers and a dieselpunk cyborg Hitler, are undermined by a lackluster screenplay, limp direction, and some truly embarrassing acting.  Still, I got some nifty screengrabs for future RPG sessions, and that's more than the Asylum has done for you lately.


Adam West and Burt Ward were more convincing than these yahoos.