Thursday, December 31, 2015

Devlin's Domain - My Only Friend, The End ( 2015 Year In Review)

Of course I have waited until the last minute to throw together my review of 2015. While 2015 was a personal disaster for me, I have managed to find some pleasant distractions from the perils of this hollow existence. I'm not going to do a top ten list or declare anything the best. There's so many things I've managed to enjoy and it would be difficult to assign one thing a better position than another. What I will do is talk about different categories of entertainment, for better or worse, that I have an opinion of. So enter the Domain and see what has been brought to us in this foul year of the Dark Lord, 2015.

The First Annual Little Seven Awards, Who We Lost is 2015, and Looking Ahead to 2016

Do you remember Married with Children? In a sign the powers that be running networks have no clue, it was decided the Bundy family needed a new young and cute child to help grab the ratings demo that goes for that sort of thing. They introduced the character by having another branch of the family tree show up and eventually leave with them the child they couldn’t be bothered to care for. This was Seven, and it was a colossally bad idea. The character added nothing to the type of show that Married with Children was, and after a couple of episodes it was clear the writers had no idea what to do with him outside of setting up a few weak gags. Eventually the character was written out of the series by being sent upstairs to his room and then simply never coming down again. Essentially, the creative team decided that this creative misfire was best dealt with not by a convoluted storyline removing him from the show, but rather by simply acting like the idea to introduce the character never existed to begin with and letting people forget about him.

In honor (Dishonor?) of this character, I give you the First Annual Little Seven Awards. These are things we saw in 2015 where the ideas behind them were so bad they never should have happened, the things that ran their course a long time ago and still dragged on, and their kindest fates for 2015 will likely be, like Seven himself, eventually being forgotten by most people out there.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Phantom Troublemaker’s Best of 2015

Art by Captain Lovehandles!
Hey, Phantomaniacs - it’s time for the biggest awards event that Needless Things produces all year long! That’s right, just like every other site on the internet, at the end of each year I put together a list of the very best stuff.

Monday, December 28, 2015

One Heck Of A Year: Christina's 2015 Year-End Review

Writing!  Arrows!  Speeders!  Martial Artist!  Cosplayers!  Tabletop Games!  Geek & Sundry galore!  Hunters and the Mark of Cain!  No, this is not me singing my own version of “My Favorite Things.” Although I could.  Badly.  These are but a few of the things that made up the highlights of a nerdy, busy, sweaty, fast-paced 2015.  Everyone has their whirlwind stories about what made it great for them and what made it not so great.  The highs and the lows, the shockers and the “Well I saw that coming” moments.  Here is a look at the things that made a tough year manageable for little old me.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Needless Things Podcast 87 – Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens

Live from the Phantom Zone! Phantom Troublemaker sits down with Jason Frazier, Noel from, Sean Reid, Arian, Chad J. Shonk, and Gary Mitchel from the Revcast to discuss the newest entry in the Star Wars Saga!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

2015 in the Rearview Mirror

We’re about to exit the Year of Our Lord MMXV, and, wow, has it been a weird ride. Seen some neat stuff, seen some not so neat stuff, and seen some OMG that’s awesome stuff. I’m pretty sure everyone else will be doing Best Of/Worst Of lists, so I’m just gonna wing it here instead. I present to you the random misfirings of my brain as I look back on the things I noticed in 2015. Word of warning- It’s been a long two weeks. Times like this really get my sense of humor into an odd place.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

What Christmas Means to Me

Christmas is a powerful and important time of year for me.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Toy Review – The New Batman Adventures Poison Ivy from DC Collectibles

It will be Christmas in just a few days, so I wanted to be sure this post had some Holiday spirit! And what’s more appropriate for the holidays than Ivy?

Wait – crap. Holly is the Christmas plant. Or poinsettias. Ivy has nothing to do with Christmas.

Oh, well. Let’s move on.

Monday, December 21, 2015

The Phantom Channel Listings for Christmas Day, December 25, 2015!

As a wise man once said, what’s good for Halloween is good for Christmas, too!

I’m pretty sure nobody ever said that.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Before & After- A Spoiler Free Look At Star Wars: The Force Awakens

I am writing this just a few hours before I go see Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Like millions of geeks around the world, I am very excited. You might think oh, he's just another Star Wars fan who grew up with it and played with all the toys. Well, you would be wrong. Despite being thirty seven years old, I did not grow up with the movies. As a kid I didn't own a single Star Wars action figure. You might be asking yourself, how is this possible. Well, I don't really have the answers to that except me and my friends were just more interested in riding our bikes and watching the movie RAD then watching battles in space.

Of course I knew about Star Wars, knew the characters, and knew most of the storyline but never saw the three movies until I was a teenager which was early to mid nineties. I know this is shocking news so I will let all of this sink in.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Needless Things Podcast 86 – Christmas Movies

Live from the Phantom Zone! Phantom Troublemaker sits down with Jason Frazier, Noel from, Sean Reid, and Mike Gordon from the ESO Network to talk about their favorite Christmas movies!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Last Minute Holiday Geek Gift Guide

Christmas is almost here. You’ve looked and looked for that… something… for that friend or family member who has pretty much everything they like that you might otherwise get them. You could always ask some friends for advice on odd little items the person might not have, but odds are your friends are their friends and they’ve already heard about what you’re about to find out about. So I’m here to help with at least a few people you might know.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The Good, The Bad, And The Jessica Jones

When Netflix announced their deal with Marvel a few years ago, it was pretty exciting. I am what is known as a cable cutter, which means I cut ties with the cable/satellite companies and have gone rouge. I now pay thirty dollars a month for my television watching which includes the WWE Network, Hulu, and Netflix. I pay for exactly what I want and not a billion channels that I don't. Sure I miss the good old days every now and then but I'm much happier than when I paid a hundred and fifty bucks a month for a lot of stuff I didn't want. 

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Monday, December 14, 2015

The Phantom Channel Listings for December 14, 2015

As a wise man once said, what’s good for Halloween is good for Christmas, too!

I’m pretty sure nobody ever said that.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Needless Things Podcast 85 – Indiana Jones

Phantom Troublemaker and the ESO Network's Mike Gordon share their thoughts about one of the greatest adventure film franchises of all time!

Still Fighting: Fight Choreography Part 2

Welcome back to my mentally challenged world!  I mean… my discussion about fight choreography.  In my last post on this subject we discussed the differences in professionally trained fighters in movie and television fight scenes verses untrained actors who busted their tails to learn the trade, and if/how you can spot the difference.  Today we’ll talk about people who punch each other repeatedly with no damage, fly through the air and land on a branch with ease, and go through A-Team style bodily harm, walk away without a scratch and get to kiss the girl/guy.  I’m talking of course about Hollywood fight scenes and their believability verses how these things actually work in real life.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Doctor Who in 2015

I left the Earth Station Who podcast earlier this year. I haven’t talked too much about the reasons why I left, and the reason I haven’t talked too much about why I left involves the reasons I left.

It makes sense, I promise.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Devlin's Domain - Enter The Void

Many of us have pondered the question of "what happens when we die?". Some believe we merely decompose into the earth and only live on in other's memories. I'm guessing the majority believe in some sort of after-life. Some say there's a Heaven for the righteous souls and a Hell to torture all those who are unworthy of eternal happiness due to living a life of corruption and debauchery. Some look to be reincarnated as someone else or perhaps something else. Of course the favorite belief for a lot of people is the promise of 200 virgins upon death. Can't beat that right? Unfortunately the only people that know haven't bothered to come back to tell us. Leave it to the artists to fill in the blanks and whether there is truth to it or not, there will be entertainment. Are you ready to take a trip to the beyond?

Comic Book Wednesday – Previews November 2015: “Star Wars Section No More!”

If you don’t know, Previews is the catalogue that Diamond Comic Distributors use to offer the products they distribute to comic book stores around the country. This is where you can view and order (through your favorite Local Comic Book Shop) comic books, trade paperback collections, t-shirts, books, media, and toys and other collectibles from hundreds of different vendors that deal in geek-oriented merchandise. The genius part is that you actually have to pay for your copy of Previews for the privilege of ordering other things to pay for. It’s like the Ren Fest except without the horse poo smell.

So every month a new edition of Previews is sent out to comic book stores. Contained in the pages within are products that might be currently available or could be released anytime in the next year; but typically about two months away. Or sometimes never. I’ve ordered lots of things that have just never come in. Without getting into the specific politics of Diamond, let me just say that they aren’t quite a monopoly and also aren’t quite the worst distributor anybody has ever dealt with in the history of the universe.

But I’m not here to discuss that. I’m here to discuss a few of the weird and/or wonderful items offered in this month’s edition.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Why I Like Firefly Better Than Buffy (Sometimes)

I might get in a lot of trouble for this. Maybe even "me not liking Hawkeye" kind of trouble. This originally started out as me trying to decide which show was better, but after a lot of thought (and threats of divorce from Mr. Tibbs) I realized that I just couldn't make that sort of decision. I also did a lot of viewing, and took a huge amount of notes on both shows. So this isn't about trying to tell you which show is better. It's more of a preference justification.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Toy Review – Masters of the Universe Classics Saurod from Mattel

While I have a fondness for the live action 1987 Masters of the Universe movie, I haven’t been overly excited for any of the figures from it. The vintage versions weren’t exactly great representations of the on-screen characters and the Classics updates – while much better action figures – were obviously being done in the Classics style. I’ve always dreamed of a line of more realistically proportioned movie figures, like Mattel’s Movie Masters.

I realize how ridiculous that is and that virtually no other Masters fan would agree with me on that point, but the heart wants what it wants.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Needless Things Podcast 84 – MST3K

Phantom Troublemaker talks to Chad J. Shonk (writer of Dakota Sky and the novel Proxy) and Beth V. about the history of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and the Kickstarter campaign that is currently underway to revive the much-beloved series.

Test Your Might: Fight Choreography In Film

I’ve been busting my balls (so what if I’m a chick.  I’ve got more balls than most men, thank you) the past year on a book that I’m quite proud of.  It’s a non-fiction project in the martial arts genre tentatively titled “Finding Your Way: A Guide To Your Path In The Martial Arts.”  It’s a short guide of sorts to help people in the way of finding the right school/style/Instructor for them, knowing what to look for in your contracts as well as school set-ups and safety, knowing what is expected of them as a student and of the Instructor, sparring and daily practice tips, etc.  I hope to see this published by this time next year, fingers crossed.  In the spirit of a martial arts book, I thought I would throw pop culture and the martial arts together and talk about the wonderful world of martial arts in the movies.  Let’s talk about fight choreography, shall we?

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Fixing the WWE?

I’m not going to be quite the alarmist that others are being right now. I don’t believe that the WWE is in drastic peril just quite yet. It is however having some serious problems. While nothing anyone can suggest will guarantee a quick or surefire fix, there are steps that can be taken now which might begin to bring the WWE out of its seeming long-term nosedive.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Toy Review – DC Icons Batman from DC Collectibles

Apologies, Needless Things readers – I had said that the reviews of the Deadman and Batman Icons figures would be up last week. I got struck down by a horrendous Virus From Outer Space that resulted in my not giving much of an eff about anything. So now I’m catching up.

I can hear you now – “Oh, great. Another Batman action figure. Let me guess – it has a cape and fists?”

Let me assure you that for several reasons this Batman figure is unlike any other you might own. Probably.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Toy Review – Masters of the Universe Classics Evil Seed from Mattel

This 200X sub-subscription has been providing some of the best figures the Masters of the Universe Classics line has seen. It’s almost like they’re from a different company. I don’t know how much of a hand Scott Nietlich had in the development and final production of these figures, but whoever is responsible for the design and quality should be commended.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Toy Review – DC Icons Deadman from DC Collectibles

Apologies, Needless Things readers – I had said that the reviews of the Deadman and Batman Icons figures would be up last week. I got struck down by a horrendous Virus From Outer Space that resulted in my not giving much of an eff about anything. So now I’m catching up.

It’s always exciting to review something from an entirely new line, particularly when it’s a character that’s one of my favorites.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Devil's Domain - The Final Member

I'm covering a rather bizarre documentary in this week's edition of Devlin's Domain. Just a fair warning before you proceed, if you are offended by penis or the word "penis" then read no further. This review is gonna be chock full of peen, including some images and non-stop references. So if you feel as though you have reached a level of maturity that you can handle exposure to a natural part of the human anatomy, stick around because this could be entertaining.

Needless Things Podcast 83 – Star Wars Talk

Phantom Troublemaker and Needless Things' Head of Research Ryan Schweck talk about the build-up to Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Baby It’s Cold Outside - Winter Fear Edition

For those of you not living in the Deep South, it’s that time of year when the skies turn grey, the leaves all blow away, and Jack Frost comes dancing along to bite your nose off. In other words, it’s Winter! And, of course, Winter means Christmas is coming. Both of these things are surprisingly good for horror film settings.

You can set horror during the Christmas season and get things like BlackChristmas or Silent Night, Deadly Night, but more often than not you get offerings full of either camp or fail. But winter, or the cold weather, along with Christmas gives us a lot of fun choices for some chilling horror marathons. In no particular order…

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Practice Your Poker Face: Another Geek-In-Game Review

Another year, another birthday.  As one hits adulthood, most find that birthday parties are not as necessary as they once thought.  It isn’t such a big deal to celebrate getting older.  That is, unless you are a geek.  Being a geek means that all that the birthday money you get can be spent on games, comics, Magic cards, collectibles…WEEEEEEEE bring on the party!  On October 4th I passed the threshold of “Young Adult” into the official “Adult’ category, and my birthday was a celebration of geek style in the form of board games and card games galore.  Yup…it’s time for another Geek-In-Game review.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Toy Review – The New Batman Adventures Batgirl from DC Collectibles

Barbara Gordon as Batgirl is one of my favorite comic book characters. Admittedly, the fact that she’s a redhead is a good start, but I always liked the idea that she was inspired by both her father and by Batman to fight crime.

Movie Review - The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2

Another week, another glass of wine, and another post. Wait, that implies that I only have wine every other week when I post. We all know that's not true. Well, if you didn't know that before you do now. I had originally planned on reviewing the new James Bond movie Spectre, but it's been out for so long at this point that you've already seen it if you were that interested. I also didn't like or hate it enough to talk about it for very long. Let's just say that I'm ready for the current iteration of James Bond to move on to something new. Oh, and the opening song sucked ass. But enough of that.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Toy Stories – 2002 Masters of the Universe and Collecting the Past

This post started as the intro to my review of the Masters of the Universe Classics Evil Seed figure. It turned into a reflection on the 2002 toy line and then some thoughts about modern toy collecting in general. Since I’m planning on going forward with the Toy Stories concept as live events, I figured I could start a series of posts with the name, as well. Here’s the first one, though I am going back through the archives and assigning the title to a few other posts that fit the bill.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Needless Things Podcast 82 – Warpo Toys

Phantom Troublemaker talks to Bryan Katzel, one of the masterminds behind retro toy makers Warpo Toys!

The Good and Bad of Dragon Con 2015 by Jeff Francis

Dragon Con 2015 is now in the history books, and I have to say that I had a great time. Now that the con is over and that I've finally gotten over my con crud (three weeks of the worst flu I had in years!), I can sit back and think about the highs and the lows of the convention. This year saw a lot of big name guests from some of the biggest geek shows on the air, such as Arrow and The Flash, but Dragon Con also astounds with its sheer diversity of tracks, panels, guests, and activities. Let's take a look at the good and bad of Dragon Con 2015.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

The End of an Era

This will be a bit of a departure from the usual topics here. I’m going to talk MMA.

As I started originally writing this on Sunday night for publication on Thursday, some of this may be ground that’s been gone over elsewhere in excruciating detail by the time this sees electronic print. Hopefully, with a little luck, there will still be interest enough that you’ll be curious to see my take on it regardless. So, without further ado, let’s talk that fight Saturday night and where some things go from here.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Deontology vs. Utilitarianism: The Ethics Argument Behind “Injustice.”

If you haven’t been able to tell by my pieces so far, my family and I are huge geeks.  My kids love Free Comic Book Day as much as we adults do, Family Home Evening usually consists of board games or Family Game Night on the Wii, and we are forever in debate with our kids over who the best Doctor is  (My husband and I love Christopher’s Doctor, our oldest supports David, and our Six and Three year olds are pro-Matt all the way.)  So when Injustice came out it became a family stable.  Granted, the younger two can’t watch certain scenes or play certain characters because of graphic content (Joke for example is off limits due to setting people on fire.)  But my oldest has became a natural-and I stress NATURAL- at fighting games.  Seriously…the kid could be ready for the pro circuit with a year of training.  It’s frightening.  As much as we love Injustice I realized that I had never touched the comic and was always drawn to it when I visited out local gaming store.  While looking for an essay book in my library titled “Final Fantasy and Philosophy” (Not kidding.  Look it up!)  I came across Injustice:  Volume One Year One.  I grabbed it and dove in. 

Never in my comic reading years has a comic raised my hackles more, pulled me in deeper, and raised more of an existential and ethical debate within my brain.  And people, I have read a LOT of comic books.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Toy Review – Masters of the Universe Classics Mara of Primus from Mattel

I checked out pretty early on New Adventures of He-Man. I bought a couple of the figures because I was excited about the new designs and articulation, but I don’t know that I even made it through a whole episode of the cartoon.

Monday, November 16, 2015

NXT – Roster Rundown

NXT has been the best part of WWE for quite some time now. The gimmicks are a little more fun, the atmosphere is a little looser, and the action is totally non-stop (ahem). It feels like the boys – and definitely the girls – have a little more room to find themselves and discover ways to connect with the crowd.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Needless Things Podcast 81 – VHS Glitch

Phantom Troublemaker talks to mysterious synth artist and musician VHS Glitch about the revival and nostalgic value of synthesizer-based music, digital marketing, the modern cult of personality surrounding music, and much more!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Aging with Geek Culture

So yesterday was my birthday where I added yet another year on top of a lot of others. You hit a certain point where you do get a little reflective about where you’ve been, what you’ve seen, and what’s changed since “back when I was a kid.” I actually passed the traditional starting point for that a while back, but it still hits me on birthdays. So when I started writing this for a site about geeky pop culture- actually the day before my birthday –I started thinking about decades of fandom and geek culture.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Devlin's Domain - Womb

I'm going to step away from the horror genre for this edition of Devlin's Domain, because believe it or not I do appreciate other genres. This time I've got some weird ass Sci-Fi Drama in store. It's not the shoot'em up, blow it up, invaders from mars type of Sci-Fi most people have grown accustomed to. So if you're looking for something different, look no further.

Toy Review – 6” Star Wars Black Series #6 Captain Phasma from Hasbro

There are many reasons to love Captain Phasma – the design looks like the offspring of a Cylon and RoboCop, it’s an update to the classic Stormtrooper, there’s a cape, Gwendoline Christie is under that armor and also it’s all more than a little disco.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Walking Dead - GLENN?!?

Let's just go ahead and get this out of the way: if you haven't seen the most recent episode of The Walking Dead, and don't like spoilers, you should not read keep reading. Well, don't keep reading now; definitely come back and keep reading once you're caught up. I'm not going to dwell too much on the most recent episode, but I do touch on many recent events. If you haven't read the comics, and/or don't want to know what happens in them you may also want to take a moment before you continue.

Platinum Championship Wrestling 11-7-2015

Platinum Championship Wrestling puts on shows the first and third Saturday of every month at The Main Event in Porterdale, GA.

Today was supposed to be my post about the NXT roster, but something more important came up. Check back next week for that one.

It had been a long time since I’d been out to a PCW show. Between family, my lousy work schedule, and other projects I just haven’t had six hours to spare on a Saturday night for my sentimental favorite wrestling promotion. If the hike to Porterdale, GA wasn’t an hour and change it wouldn’t be such a hefty proposition.

Anyway, I recently became determined to catch a show. I knew I could count on a couple of buddies to make the trek out there and it just felt like a shame that I wasn’t up on the happenings in PCW. I had wanted very badly to catch this year’s groundbreaking Sacred Ground event, but I was working nights the whole weekend with no way out.

Fortunately the stars aligned on November 7th – and I mean that in more ways than one. It turned out to be a night of powerful emotions and earth-shattering change. I had no idea what was in store, but I am thankful that I was there to experience it. Not since 11-11-11 has Platinum Championship Wrestling been altered – nay, assaulted – in such a fundamental way. And even the events of that day pale in comparison to what I witnessed this past Saturday night.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Christina's Toy Review: The World of Jem Doll Collecting

The Jem movie had many awesome throwbacks and many new and wonderful AU twists.  The best AU twist for me was having Rio know about Jem/Jerrica/Synergy from the get-go and help her with putting together Synergy’s pieces from the start.  That was a heart-warmer that any die hard should have wanted.  But what die-hards should have also been thrilled about were some of the costumes and their blatant throwbacks to not just the cartoons, but the dolls as well.  Any true Jem dedicate had everything growing up from the 1st and 2nd generation dolls to both Roadsters, to even that crazy pink llama.  The world of Jem collecting is expensive and time consuming as high quality pieces are hard to find and some are so rare that you can spend years searching for just the right one.  Let’s dive in to the world of Jem and The Holograms collectibles.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Needless Things Podcast 80 – Celluloid Wizards in the Video Wasteland: The Saga of Empire Pictures

Phantom Troublemaker talks to Daniel Griffith of Ballyhoo Motion Pictures about his newest project, a documentary on Empire Pictures, the revolutionary movie studio that produced such genre classics as Re-Animator, Ghoulies, TerrorVision, Zone Troopers, and many more!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Reevaluating the Sixth Doctor

If you were anything like me, you hated the Sixth Doctor. Well, maybe hate is a strong word. I don’t know that I ever actually hated the Sixth Doctor. There were actually some stories with him I quite liked, but I was certainly not a huge fan of that Doctor. I just wasn’t really a fan of the Colin Baker years, and I wasn’t particularly troubled to see him exit the role of the Doctor no matter how ingloriously the manner in which they had him removed.