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Dec 072016
 

I will admit that it has been a few years since I last attended this convention. This year it was very special because my sister and I got to meet one of our all-time favorite performers, Weird Al Yankovic.

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It was a real honor and was really excited, since Weird Al was a huge favorite of mine since childhood. I have been to several of his concerts over time, but never would’ve imagined that I would actually meet him face to face. It felt like going to a convention for the first time. Of all the celebrities I have met at these events over the years, that’s saying a lot.

Along side of getting a photo, I got Weird Al’s autograph on a small movie poster from the 1989 film UHF. It was also autographed by Jay Levey, the director. He also co-wrote the screenplay with Weird Al.

Even though a few scheduled celebrities could not make it due to the hurricane delaying Spooky Empire, many of them did like Butch Patrick. Yes, TV’s Eddie Munster returned this year and his Q&A panel was interesting. He talked about his time on The Munsters as well as his thoughts on the comparisons with related Munsters remakes like The Munsters Today (1987-1991) and the made for TV movie Mockingbird Lane (2012). Let’s just say that there’s no substitute for the real thing.

Overall, I had a wonderful time. One last note: I couldn’t help but notice that among the most popular celebrities to attend Spooky Empire were cast members from the new Netflix original series Stranger Things. It was mostly the kids who attended. What could’ve made that better, in my opinion, was if Winona Ryder had been there. Now that would have been interesting. Maybe she’ll come next year?

Nov 302016
 

If you thought that the album Nintendo: White Knuckle Scorin’ was an obscure Super Mario Bros. title, check out this one. An old computer game called, Mario Teaches Typing is basically another typing program to help improve keyboarding skills, but in a more creative setting.

You can choose between three characters, Mario, Luigi, or the Princess. Their running and jumping skills are all equal, so it doesn’t really make a whole lot of difference.

Then there are several different levels, where you can only proceed forward by typing the correct keys. The first is a basic outside area with Koopa Troopas and bricks to bash. On occasion, there’s a random block with a symbol to type that brings you to a coin area in the clouds. It doesn’t do much, but it’s cool to see. To get through, you have to be able to type at least 10 WPM (words per minute).

The second level is an underwater stage, where you’re being chased by a bloober or Big Bertha. The faster you type, the faster you swim. However, the typing is more difficult because you focus on the numbers and other symbols, not to mention that you have to be able to type at least 30 WPM to get through.

The third level is in a castle where you run past thwomps and swim through quicksand. As for the typing, you move straight to full sentences. In case you were wondering, those sentences have nothing to do with the Super Mario Bros. franchise. By this point, you might think that there’s a new level to unlock when you reach the next goal. Apparently, there isn’t. As you continue to improve, you stay with the castle stage.

Even though there is a fourth setting, it’s not anything too special. You just move up a scrolling sheet of paper that Mario looks over and reacts to. I should also point out that there are no boss battles either. That would’ve at least made things a little more exciting.

Now let’s move on to the music. When I first played this on my computer at home years ago when it was new, there was no music. Then when I saw it on other computers at school, I noticed that there was music for each level that came straight from Super Mario World. Once again, that was the most hyped Super Mario Bros. game at the time.

I should also point out that Mario speaks in this game. Voiced by Ronald Ruben, this is actually the first time Mario speaks with an Italian accent. He never did in any of the Super Mario Bros. cartoons and in the earlier games, Mario had no voice at all. It’s pretty interesting if you think about it.

Considering that it’s really just a typing program, Mario Teaches Typing really isn’t too bad. Sure it’s not in the same league as other Super Mario Bros. titles, but it’s nice to look back on for nostalgic purposes. Though I can’t say the same about the sequel Mario Teaches Typing 2.

Nov 232016
 

The X-Men movie franchise has gone in several directions over the years. X-men: Days Of Future Past is a direct sequel to X-men: First Class, but delves into the old movie versions as well.

It starts in the future where the X-Men are at war with the Sentinels. The only survivors are Professor X (Patrick Stewart), Magneto (Ian McKellen), Storm (Halle Berry), Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page), Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), Iceman (Shawn Ashmore), and several others. They believe that the only way to stop this war is through time travel. Kitty Pryde sends Wolverine back to the year 1973, but only consciously.

It turns out that Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) caused the war when she killed Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage) the creator of the Sentinels and got caught shortly afterwards. It’s up to Wolverine to stop Mystique, but he can’t do it alone.

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He seeks help from young Charles Xavier (James McAvoy), Beast (Nicholas Hault), and young Magneto (Michael Fassbender). It takes a while for them to come around, but Wolverine was able to get them to come together, in his own way.

Also helping out is a new mutant named Quicksilver (Evan Peters). He’s fast like lightning, but has a cocky attitude. It especially shows when Quicksilver goes around the prison kitchen to draw the guards’ fire, which makes him a very helpful ally. What I don’t understand is why the song Time in a Bottle was playing in the background. It totally changed the mood of the scene.

However, things do not run smoothly. The war in the future gets worse and Wolverine’s attempt to change the past goes haywire, especially with time not on anyone’s side.

I liked this film. It combines the entire movie franchise together so well, but that doesn’t mean it’s ending anytime soon. Especially since there’s always a post credits scene that indicates something new is about to happen. It just leaves you wanting more, no matter where the franchise will branch out next.

Nov 162016
 

Moeyo Ken: The Complete Series (2005-2006) takes place in an era where monsters can live in harmony with humans in the city of Kyoto, as long as they are licensed. If there’s an unlicensed monster running loose, an all-female fighting force called the Mobile Shinsengumi capture those beasts in order to protect Kyoto and its citizens.

The team members include Yuko Kondo the sword master, Toshie Hijikata the sharpshooter, and Kaoru Okita who uses different types of weapons along with little helpers called the Shikigami to help out in battle.

Image result for Moeyo Ken Characters Nekomaru

When not fighting unlicensed monsters the Mobile Shinsengumi have other misadventures with Ryunosuke, who is the long lost son of their superior, Oryo. He does what he can to help out the team, even though he’s not much of a fighter.

Also staying with the team is Nekomaru, a monster cat with a great sense of humor and a huge appetite. Don’t worry, he is licensed. Nekomaru always cowers when there’s trouble, but is very noble when it comes to saving lives. He can magically transfer one of his nine lives in order restore a dead person to life. One thing I can’t help but notice is Nekomaru’s voice. It sounds similar to Paul Lynde.

The main villains are the Tsubame Group, consisting of Miki Saotome who is a mean girl, Ukon Tanaka who is handsome and fearless, and Sakon who likes to use a bazooka. They intend to overthrow the government about the monster rights, which makes them a nuisance to the Mobile Shinsengumi.

This was an interesting Anime series. It has both great action and humor. There’s no monster these ladies can’t handle, no matter how perverse some of them are.

Nov 092016
 

When it comes to aliens and the horror genre, it’s not often that I would visualize them together but it does happen. One such example is the independent film Extraterrestrial.

This is about college teen April (Brittany Allen) spending a romantic weekend at her mother’s cabin with her boyfriend Kyle (Freddie Stroma). However, April is dismayed when Kyle brings his friends along. They include goofball Seth (Jesse Moss), his girlfriend Lex (Anja Savcic), and stoner Melanie (Melanie Papalia).

That’s right. It’s a movie about teens in the woods being terrorized by something frightening. This time, an alien spacecraft comes in search of victims to capture and experiment on. The way it was done is much more intense than the common cliché.

At first I thought the aliens were blowing up people after what became of their first victim Nancy McPherson (Emily Perkins) at the beginning of the movie.

Luckily the teens have an ally, Travis (Michael Ironside), who was friends with April’s father. He’s a weed farmer with a military background. It’s amazing what he knows about the aliens.

Meanwhile, Sheriff Murphy (Gil Bellows) investigates the disappearances. Of course he’s skeptical but all the clues he finds always lead to alien attacks.

The aliens only appear in short glimpses throughout the movie, but I can tell that they have a generic look with green skin and bald heads, wearing no clothes. The aliens never talk, so their reasons of invading remain a mystery.
This was a good movie. Sure it contained quite a few clichés of sci-fi horror films but that’s what made it easy to follow, just the way I like it.