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B. Erickson "boycorrupted" (Overland Park, KS United States)
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Meet Mr. Product: The Art of the Advertising Character
Meet Mr. Product: The Art of the Advertising Character
by Warren Dotz
Edition: Paperback
13 used & new from CDN$ 21.53

5.0 out of 5 stars cute book!, June 27 2004
A fascinating foray into the sometimes clever, sometimes idiotic, occasionally just plain bizarre (Mr. TV Tube? Dunkie Donut-Head? Phillips Screw Man??) world of advertising characters. Anybody obsessed with kitschy pop culture, especially that of the 50's and 60's, will want this one. You get all the cartoon mascots you've ever seen on "retro" t-shirts at your local Hot Topics, plus hundreds more of varying degrees of obscurity. Indeed there was a period when designers would simply draw a smiley face on a cog and call it "Mr. Cog," and you see a lot of that here, often in hilariously weird contexts - lawn spinkler heads, pistons, the state of Nevada, a sock, all grinning amiably at you as they pitch themselves. You've got your cartoon pigs voraciously devouring pork rinds, your cigarette boxes with showgirl legs, your anthropomorphic donuts, and robots robots robots. A book like this not only takes you through a wide range of illustration styles, it hints at what life was like in those days, those "simpler times" (though it's arguable how much we've really changed). What better window into American psychology in the 20th century than the commercial devices by which we've been beguiled into consuming? Aunt Jemima has stories to tell on you.

Mh2: Metalheart Is Movement [With DVD-ROM]
Mh2: Metalheart Is Movement [With DVD-ROM]
by Andreas Lindholm
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 44.37
16 used & new from CDN$ 2.51

3.0 out of 5 stars Once again...50/50, June 19 2004
I reviewed the first Metalheart book, and I was a little harsh on Ronnblom. Whenever you have a collaboration between somebody who's really excellent (Lindholm) and somebody who clearly sucks, it's hard not to call attention to the fact. Ronnblom seems like one of those people who just lets his 3D apps make mistakes, which he then proceeds to call "fonts" and "dingbats"...lol. They are ugly, weird, and pointless. Anybody plan on using the fonts included on the disc, or the "3D objects," in one of your own pieces? I didn't think so. Lindholm, by contrast, has mastered his medium. However, he's barely evident in this sequel, so you'll have to look elsewhere for real talent. Check out Dimitar Karanikolov's astounding architectural landscapes, the exploding technological nebulae of Kalle Everland and Per Gustafson, James Marsden's beautiful 3D wildstyle, Charlie Owens' re-organizations of chaos, and, although I don't see how they fit into the general theme, the interesting photoshop montages of Viktor Koen and Alessandro Bavari. I have definitely been inspired by their work in this book. However, just as in the previous installment, there are also pages and pages and pages devoted to Ronnblom's ridiculous masturbatory nonsense. It REALLY makes you wonder how he consistently tricks people into letting him bring down the quality of their projects. Plus, there are also several other featured artists who suck just as bad. I really need to try and get in the next Metalheart, cuz even though I'm not all that cocky, I know I can blow some of these toys out of the water. Maybe that's the idea - to give us all some hope. lol

Fatal Frame 2 - PlayStation 2
Fatal Frame 2 - PlayStation 2
7 used & new from CDN$ 60.00

5.0 out of 5 stars and me without my katana, May 10 2004
I've never played the original "Fatal Frame," nor have I really played the "Silent Hills" beyond a few token rounds at friends' houses. I usually go for faster-paced action/shooter games. But I wanted to try something in the horror category, and I heard and read a lot of good things about "Fatal Frame 2." Understand that when I bought it I had just come off "Shinobi." The awkward and defenseless adolescent girls of "Frame" are definitely an acquired taste if you're accustomed to ninjas with superhuman powers and weapons. But I stuck it out, even though I found it REALLY frustrating at first, and I wound up with a certain appreciation for it. And I have to admit - this game IS creepy. It's like the Japanese "Blair Witch" - in fact, it borrows heavily from the general atmosphere of that film. Two young twin girls, one with a bum leg, wander into an abandoned village and find that they can't get out. Turns out it's haunted by rather hostile and aggressive spirits, damn the luck, and guess what - pairs of twin girls appear to have played a prominent role in its bloody history. Fortunately the present set finds a magical "camera obscura" that allows them to weaken and capture the spirits Ghostbuster-style. Still, that's hardly a weapon, and the girls are anything but agile. "Fatal Frame" is well-described as a game of "survival strategy," with the emphasis more on avoiding getting killed than killing - in fact you don't kill anything; your enemies are already dead! The excitement is generated by the spooky visuals, the sense of suspense between "battles," and of course the battles themselves, which are accompanied by the mock-heartbeat pulsing of the controller. You can make fun of it all you want with your friends, but you probably will get just a LITTLE freaked out if you play this game alone in the dark in surround sound for the first time. The woman crawling out of the chest scared the hell out of me...lol. I was never quite "obsessed" with "Fatal Frame" the way I have been with other games, but I was interested enough to finish it. In short, I don't know how real heads of this genre rate this game, but I had some fun!

Bloodrayne - PlayStation 2
Bloodrayne - PlayStation 2
6 used & new from CDN$ 5.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Jiggle Jiggle Slash Slash, May 10 2004
FINALLY - a female vampire (or "dhampir," whatever) with an adjustable bra size (see "juggy" cheat) and a large artillery of weapons that inflict ridiculous gore (see "gratuitous dismemberment" cheat) on a small variety of Nazis and mutants, whose blood she can also suck to restore health (if necessary - see "god mode" cheat). If you're looking for more than just a one-night-stand, though, she's probably going to disappoint you...unless you're the one that sucks. "Bloodrayne" is a nice idea, and don't get me wrong, it actually is a lot of fun to play. However, there's not a whole lot going on beyond the sexy latex getups and gats gats gats. It's just your conventional 3rd-person action/shooter with a few almost-useless Matrix-style gimmicks thrown in, and graphics that are not quite up to par with the ps2 platform. In fact, it almost looks like another case of a title that was rushed into production. There are lots of ways they could've polished up "Bloodrayne" and made it a richer game. Her catch-phrases (or attempts thereat) are sometimes cute, more often retarded, but by the time the first level is complete you'll have heard them all a billion times and you'll be reaching for your ipod. And if she's a trifle repetitive, the enemies are FAR worse (e.g. the infamous "Get her off me!"). The game in general suffers from a certain lack of variety in enemy models and level construction. Cut-scene dialogue is embarassingly bad, big surprise. STILL - sexy latex getups, gats gats gats. It's nice that they finally pitched a video game at us fellas. Incidently, I hear "Bloodrayne 2" is in the works. Let's hope it's the rare sequel that hammers out the bugs of the original and takes it to the next level, rather than the usual degeneration into crap. If so, I've got my money in.

Queer as Folk: Season 1, Vols. 1-6 (Widescreen)  [Import]
Queer as Folk: Season 1, Vols. 1-6 (Widescreen) [Import]
DVD ~ Gale Harold
Price: CDN$ 54.16
23 used & new from CDN$ 14.29

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not my Family., May 1 2004
This is going to be one of those "unhelpful" reviews, so you might as well go ahead and click the button right now. I assume if you're browsing this item, you're probably already a fan, and I am about to rain all over your parade. Because I DESPISE "Queer As Folk" with every fiber of my being - so much so that I have to write a review of it purely to vent my anger and disgust.
By the way, I'm gay. Or at least, I'm a guy who's in a relationship with a guy, but if this show represents what "gay" actually is 90% of the time (and, sigh, I might have to concede that it does), then it's time for me to disinherit my family. Shallow, superficial, sex-obsessed, puerile, whiny, nasty, backstabbing, emotionally stunted men running around living Barbie stereotypes of gay lifestyles. I hate every single character on this show. I swear to god, I can't even decide what's more sickening - hearing Brian brag about his 30 different tricks a month (which, "safe" or not, is extravagantly neurotic behavior), or watching Emmett go christian and deny his homosexuality altogether. None of these people are remotely capable of having a healthy sex drive or life, or of otherwise doing anything that's not utterly frivolous and idiotic. And this is the image that so many gay fans are evidently thrilled to see portrayed on TV. Brian's ridiculous and suicidal promiscuity finally gets him into professional trouble when one of his "tricks," who also happens to be under his employ, slaps him with a sexual harrasment suit. Meanwhile Emmett comes frighteningly close to breeding with a similarly self-deluded lesbian, until his friends conspire to win him back by renting out a gay porn star for a romantic evening with the foppish fencesitter. Wouldn't ya know, he comes right around (so to speak). Then we have obnoxious stock twink no. 532, Justin, who is "just beginning to realize his sexual power" - which means that it's dawning on him that his "barely legal" status is a potent aphrodisiac for sleazy business guys in their 30's. He prances around and sucks blo-pops and we're all supposed to be charmed - whatever, I'm not elderly enough to find him appealing. And finally, Hal Spark's character, what's-his-name. All I have to say about Hal Sparks is that I always thought he was gay when he was on Talk Soup, and I found it annoying when he would talk about women (as if), and now he's still supposed to be straight apparently, but he is thoroughly convincing (though annoying as ever) as a gay "average joe" on QAF. Anyway he's probably doing well with the ladies now, cuz we all know that females love gay guys.
Now I understand that what I have basically done is complain about the way gay men are represented on this show, but (again) I can't really say that it's inaccurate as far as it goes - it just doesn't go very far. What we have here is 100% pure superficial gay drama. QAF is definitely "portraying a lifestyle," to use the Eminem defense, and I'll defend to death the rights of the producers et al to do so; but it's equally my right to express my rage at this portrayal because I feel that it's emphasizing all the wrong things, as dead-on as it may be within its pathetic little gamut. Of course, it's just my personal opinion, but I don't understand why ANY gay men feel that this is a positive thing. I hate vapid idiots in real life and I hate them on Showtime. I DO have to concede, however, that as far as "bourgeois" acceptance of homosexuality goes, any sort of representation is better than no sort at all; and shows like this, or "Will and Grace," or "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy," really have helped to drag the "gay issue" out of the closet. But the next step will be to have a gay character who's not an obnoxious, buck-toothed, flaming Peter Pan, or a catty, mincing, home-interiors-obsessed dandy, or a conceited sexaholic label-whore, or what have you. I can't help but feel that this is sort of the "minstrel show" phase of our portrayal in pop culture. At any rate, I can't watch any more "QAF," nor can I listen to any more monotonous gay house remixes of crappy songs by "divas" off the soundtrack. Not that I'd rather watch sports!
P.S. I also understand that I have probably come off as somewhat of a "basher" of my own people, but I really don't mean that at all. I'm quite happy being gay (lol) and even though I don't think it's necessarily a "choice," I WOULD choose it if it were. I'm fairly shocked when I come up against lingering bigotry, but the politics of the moment make it crystal clear that it's still a very real issue. It just seems to me that shows like "Queer As Folk" give Jesse Helms a little bit too much to chew on. At this point it's not even "shocking" to see sleazy, gratuitous, redundant gay sex choreography on Showtime - it's just pathetic, and it's doing nothing positive for our image. Not that it's the responsibility of TV shows to arbitrate morals - god forbid! And like I said, I fully support everybody's right to free expression. I just feel like somebody needs to be saying "But there's more!" - even if there often isn't.

Art Symbols Of Occult
Art Symbols Of Occult
by James Wasserman
Edition: Paperback
13 used & new from CDN$ 94.84

5.0 out of 5 stars 5 Stars for the Art, April 11 2004
This review is from: Art Symbols Of Occult (Paperback)
If you're at all interested in the variety of topics generally included under the heading of "Occult" - Magic, Alchemy, Qabalah, Astrology, et al - then this book ought to occupy a place on your shelves. "Art and Symbols of the Occult" contains the best color reproductions I've seen of such precious gems as the lovely 16th-century "Splendor Solis" of Salomon Trismosin, the fantastically complex mystic diagrams of Jacob Boehme, several complete sets of Tarot cards both medieval and modern, and all sorts of other abstruse odds and ends. I've referred to it constantly for the exquisite beauty and mystery of its plates.
However, like most "picture-books" of this sort, the text is fairly superficial and insipid. I have to respectfully disagree with the other reviewers on this point. But nobody is really going to buy this book for the text anyway, so it's not a big deal. If you're interested in these subjects, you probably already own superior text-books.

Alchemy & Mysticism
Alchemy & Mysticism
by Alexander Roob
Edition: Paperback
14 used & new from CDN$ 11.46

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Museum should have better reproductions., April 3 2004
This review is from: Alchemy & Mysticism (Paperback)
High praise that somebody said she owned two copies, one as a spare. I agree that this is a nice book to have as a reference, and I'm sure it must be the largest collection of "Hermetick" and "Alchymical" images presently available under one cover. That said, it's pretty small (although to produce this in a large volume would probably put its price out of the range of the average enthusiast), the colors are often badly reproduced, and the text is only excusable because nobody expects much in the way of text from Taschen. The main thing you have here is convenience. I have a large enough collection of books that I can track down superior examples of most of these images...but I have to track them down. With this book, I just flip through the pages. As a companion to this book I would suggest either (preferably, if you can find it) "Alchemy: the Medieval Alchemists and Their Royal Art" by Johannes Fabricius, or (failing that) "The Golden Game: Alchemical Engravings of the Seventeenth Century" by Stanislas Klossowski de Rola, for a better look at the engravings specifically. Also, "Art and Symbols of the Occult" by James Wasserman has the best color reproductions I've seen of the lavishly-painted sixteenth-century alchemical manuscript "Splendor Solis," amidst many other amusing curiosities.

The Simpsons: The Complete Third Season
The Simpsons: The Complete Third Season
DVD ~ Dan Castellaneta
Offered by M and N Media Canada
Price: CDN$ 48.27
28 used & new from CDN$ 11.26

5.0 out of 5 stars You broke my DVDs, man., March 12 2004
...The "folding book" design is stupid - they'd be better off packaging Simpsons the way they do Futurama.
So now I'll have to review the actual content from memory, but it's not like that's exactly a challenge. These are the truly classic Simpsons episodes, the ones you've seen hacked in syndication for over a decade. I mean, "Flaming Moe's" is here. What more do I need to tell you. Season 3 is indeed the season in which the Simpsons hit their stride. We all remember the choppy, sketchy, badly drawn 1st, and the 2nd in which certain anomalies lingered to differentiate it from later seasons, but many episodes in 3 are virtually indistinguishable from 13 as far as drawing style (with the exception of details like Wiggam's black hair, etc).
This season also includes one of my favorite "Treehouse of Horrors," in which Burns creates a formidable-looking robot but makes the mistake of giving it Homer's brain, while Bart acquires the Twilight Zone-like power of making his wishes come true, which he uses to turn Homer into a giant Jack-in-the-box (Homer never fares too well in these Halloween shows).
Also included are such memorable episodes as "Colonel Homer," in which Homer manages a sexy country western hopeful much to Marge's consternation, and "Radio Bart," in which Bart pretends to have fallen down a well as a prank, only to actually do so later.
One thing I do enjoy about these Simpsons DVDs - every episode includes a really informative commentary by the producers, writers, runners, etc. So many TV box sets only include commentary on certain tracks, or the really stupid "commentary as the characters" which is always death. For a show as concentrated and detail-obsessed as the Simpsons, these commentaries really do expand one's appreciation of the show. As an illustrator, I'm especially interested in the technical details of how the show was produced, and I've learned quite a bit.
Anyway, you don't need me to tell you to go buy this set. What you do need is my advice to treat it with kid-gloves in lieu of the self-destructive packaging.

1000 Game Heroes
1000 Game Heroes
by Julius Wiedmann
Edition: Paperback
18 used & new from CDN$ 9.95

4.0 out of 5 stars Fine for what it is., March 9 2004
This review is from: 1000 Game Heroes (Paperback)
Most of these reviewers are being anal genre dorks. This isn't intended to be a deep-seated essay on or analysis of video games. It's just a collection of pretty pictures and I don't think it makes any claims to be anything else. It's by Taschen for god's sake - who buys their books for the text? It's kind of thrown together, there is some lack of continuity in the categories, and there are one or two bad reproductions, but you're basically getting a decent sourcebook. Yeah, you could have the same or better by compiling yourself from various gaming mags, etc., but this is at least more convenient. The price IS too high though, and I've never seen it on sale. But if you just want to get a more-or-less comprehensive notion of the visual elements of gaming culture as it stands at present, flipping through this book for an hour should provide you with that.

Happy Tree Friends: First Blood
Happy Tree Friends: First Blood
DVD ~ Happy Tree Friends
Offered by Rainy Day Games
Price: CDN$ 12.99
17 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars No animals were harmed in the filming of these episodes., Oct. 27 2003
The juxtaposition (50 cent art word) of "cute" with "gore" is at this point a well-established, time-honored, and yes, hopelessly cliche concept, running back through the work of Kozik, Ryden, "Itchy and Scratchy," "Ren and Stimpy," and so on. "Happy Tree Friends" is a relatively late arrival. And yet - it's still hilarious. How can you ever get tired of watching obnoxiously cute pie-eyed bunnies dismember each other? The answer is, you probably can't. Unless of course you are one of those no-fun people who are shocked and appalled by gratuitous comedic brutality, in which case you likely also believe that Marilyn Manson records incite kids to bring guns to school. But if not, I bet you will enjoy the Happy Tree Friends. They'll make you feel all warm inside as they saw each other's heads off and rip out each other's spinal cords. Lots of soft pastel colors and lots and lots of red. Sound like your cup of embalming fluid? Then fall to!

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