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Five Cool Things and a Bookstore Haul

A cool week was made even cooler by a trip to the bookstore.
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I got out of the house today. I get out of the house most days, actually. Work takes me to the post office most days to pick up the company mail, and I usually visit one or two of the houses we're building. I gas up my truck and sometimes go inside to get a drink. But those things are done quickly and aren't much fun. Today, the wife and I dropped the kid off at my parent's house and had a proper date. Or as proper a date as two forty-something homebodies can have in the middle of a

San Diego Comic Con 2006: Same As It Ever Was

A visit from the Ghost of San Diego Comic Con Past.
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[I found these notes in the archives from an article that was never completed or published. My first visit to San Diego Comic Con was in 1996. My only memory of that visit was getting an autograph and a drawing of Homer Simpson from Matt Groening in a the first trade paperback of Simpsons Comics (see bottom of the article). My next visit was in 2006 and I returned every year until the Covid pandemic caused the 2020 iteration to go virtual, which I have sampled. Other than my being able to drive up and buy tickets the day of

Five Cool Things and Possessor

I'm getting tired of staying home, but at least there are still cool things to consume.
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For nearly four months now, my family and I have gotten up on Saturday mornings, piddled around, watched TV, and then sometime after lunch, we start talking about what we want to do. We all agree we'd love to leave the house but to do what is always the question. There were a few times when the weather was cooler that we'd make our way to a park or hiking trail. But these are the dog days of summer and the answer is always nothing. Covid numbers continue to rise in my neck of the woods and there is no

Sunday Program Highlights for San Diego Comic-Con@Home 2020

What will the Sentries be watching?
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The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the lives of many folks around the globe, including those who had planned to attend this year's San Diego Comic-Con. Its cancellation was a great disappointment but the resourceful folks behind the scenes are putting on a virtual convention by hosting a variety of panels over the dates the convention was supposed to occur. According to their site: Comic-Con@Home 2020 will feature over 350 separate panels spread out over all five days of the event. There will be something for everyone! Here’s how it works: Once the daily schedules go live, you’ll be able to

Five Cool Things and Gillian Welch's All the Good Times Are Past and Gone

Some of the cool things from this past week.
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Hamilton I finally got to see the show everyone has been talking about for five years. When Hamilton first became a sensation on Broadway, it seemed like everyone was talking about it. All my podcasts and entertainment critic Twitter friends were raving about the show and it was some sort of rite of passage for them to see it live. My real-life friends all seemed to have been listening to the original cast album. I listened to the first few songs through YouTube and while I liked it, I could never listen to the whole thing (it is 2 1/2

Saturday Program Highlights for San Diego Comic-Con@Home 2020

What will the Sentries be watching?
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The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the lives of many folks around the globe, including those who had planned to attend this year's San Diego Comic-Con. Its cancellation was a great disappointment but the resourceful folks behind the scenes are putting on a virtual convention by hosting a variety of panels over the dates the convention was supposed to occur. According to their site: Comic-Con@Home 2020 will feature over 350 separate panels spread out over all five days of the event. There will be something for everyone! Here’s how it works: Once the daily schedules go live, you’ll be able to

Friday Program Highlights for San Diego Comic-Con@Home 2020

What will the Sentries be watching?
  |   Comments
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the lives of many folks around the globe, including those who had planned to attend this year's San Diego Comic-Con. Its cancellation was a great disappointment but the resourceful folks behind the scenes are putting on a virtual convention by hosting a variety of panels over the dates the convention was supposed to occur. According to their site: Comic-Con@Home 2020 will feature over 350 separate panels spread out over all five days of the event. There will be something for everyone! Here’s how it works: Once the daily schedules go live, you’ll be able to

Thursday Program Highlights for San Diego Comic-Con@Home 2020

What will the Sentries be watching?
  |   Comments
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the lives of many folks around the globe, including those who had planned to attend this year's San Diego Comic-Con. Its cancellation was a great disappointment but the resourceful folks behind the scenes are putting on a virtual convention by hosting a variety of panels over the dates the convention was supposed to occur. According to their site: Comic-Con@Home 2020 will feature over 350 separate panels spread out over all five days of the event. There will be something for everyone! Here’s how it works: Once the daily schedules go live, you’ll be able to

Five Cool Things and the Fourth of July

Happy Birthday, United States of America.
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It is a holiday weekend and I'm making the most of it. So let's get right into this week's cool things. Woman in the Dark I've been watching a lot of movies from the 1930s of late and it is fascinating to me how the ones that aren't that great (like this one) are still strangely interesting. Like somehow the ways in which a not-great movie from the 1930s is so different from a not-great movie made today. If I watched a movie that was similar to this but made in the last few years, I'd find it completely forgettable,

Five Cool Things and Pearl Jam Uncensored

Here's five films I've watched this week and enjoyed.
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I'm a huge fan of Letterboxd, the social networking site for film nerds. It is a great way to track what your watching, find things to watch, and connect with other film lovers the world over. One of the many things I love about it is that it allows you to view the films you've watched through various lenses. For example, I can view data on all the films I've watched this year and sort it by the decade the films were released in. I did that earlier today and found that out of the 184 films I've viewed in

Five Cool Things and Ian Holm

We are still staying home and still finding cool things to watch.
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I was realizing today that we've been on lockdown since mid-March. That's a little over three months in which my family has hardly gone anywhere. I miss doing stuff. I've been lucky in that my job allows me to get out of the house, but in ways that remain for the most part quite safe. My wife hasn't been so lucky and I know there are times when she's gone a bit stir crazy. Me too. We were never the sort of people who were constantly out and about with a million extra-curricular activities but on Saturdays, we did like

Five Cool Things and Bill & Ted Face the Music

Here's another five cool things.
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Our house has two stories but only one HVAC unit. This means that the upstairs (where my bedroom is) always remains about ten degrees warmer than downstairs. This isn't so bad in the winter when you want it to be warm, but as summer creeps in, it gets hotter and hotter upstairs. So much so, that the afternoons are usually unbearable. Since the whole lockdown thing started, I've been doing most of my movie-watching upstairs. Our living room is usually full of hustle and bustle between my wife doing various things and my daughter running around like a lunatic. Upstairs

Five Cool Things and Lovecraft Country

I love me some boutique movie labels.
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Over the last few years, I've really upped my movie-watching game. I've gone from watching around 10 movies per week to watching at least 20. I've also tried to be deliberate with what I choose to watch. Instead of just throwing something on, I've created monthly themes and tried to watch more movies I have never seen before. While I've definitely tried to watch more classics, I've also enjoyed watching more older films that aren't necessarily classics. I've been helped in this endeavor by boutique labels like Shout! Factory, Arrow Video, and Kino Lorber. These labels and more are putting

Five Cool Things and Perry Mason

This week we take a deep dive into Italian horror for my cool things.
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I started this month planning to watch a bunch of movies from the late, great, Japanese actor Toshiro Mifune. I did watch a couple of his films and started a couple of more but then I had to review a film noir collection and that put me on a noir roll. At the beginning of the month, I was still fighting slow internet speeds with more people being home due to Covid-19. The Criterion Channel seems to have more trouble than most streaming services with slow internet and since they were the only service hosting films with Mifune in them,

Five Cool Things and Tenet

Enjoy some cool things I watched this week.
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Every week, I tell myself that as soon as I watch or read or listen to something cool I am going to sit down and write a few paragraphs about it. Almost every week, I do not do this. If I were to do this, it would make writing this column so much easier. I could simply cut and paste the things I've already written into a new, combined document. Instead, I find myself rushing madly on the weekend to pull together coherent thoughts on five different things that I consumed days or even weeks before. One day, I might

Five Cool Things and Fred Willard

Strap yourselves in for I've got some cool things to show you.
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I recently received, watched, and reviewed a boxed set of three films from Kino Lorber entitled Film Noir: The Dark Side of Cinema II. Ever the completist, I also snagged a copy of Part One of that series and watched them all - eight films total - over the last week. That's a lot of movies to watch in a short period of time. That's a lot of movies within the same genre to watch back-to-back-to-back. I'm the sort of person who forgets the details of something I've watched within a couple of days of watching it. When I watch

Five Cool Things and I Know This Much Is True

Cool things, I've got your cool things right here.
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This long lock-down, shut-in has created some interesting situations, not all of them bad. Don't get me wrong, I hate this virus and I want it to go away forever, but that doesn't mean it hasn't forced upon us some things that are good. For example, I've reconnected with some old friends. I stayed in touch with my old college buddies longer than most. For years we regularly e-mailed, called each other, and had periodic get-togethers. But then, like so many old relationships, especially those in which the participants live miles apart, the connections became fewer and far between. I

Phenomenacon 2020 Review: The First Online Paranormal and Occult Convention

A way to unite the "weirdo" community of the paranormal during this time of physical distancing.
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As the Spring moves towards Summer, for many of us these seasons are usually full of conventions. Conventions that celebrate our love of comics, the paranormal, and horror to name a few. But in the face of the COVID-19 precautions, many conventions have been cancelled. So what is one left to do? Attend an online convention, that’s what! And this past weekend I had the privilege to attend Phenomenacon, the first online paracon. From haunted places and psychic witches to UFO’s and conspiracy theories, this convention had a little bit of the paranormal and occult for everyone. Phenomenacon is the

'Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire' Original Video Game Soundtrack to be Released on LP for the First Time Via Varèse Sarabande Records

As part of the Shadows of the Empire multimedia project, a full soundtrack was composed by Joel McNeely and recorded with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.
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Press release: May the 4th be with you! In celebration of Star Wars Day, Varèse Sarabande Records is thrilled to announce the upcoming special release of the Original Video Game Soundtrack for Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire by GRAMMY-nominated composer Joel McNeely. The soundtrack will be released for the first time on LP and reissued on CD on August 7, 2020, exclusively from Varèse Sarabande Records. Pre-order for LP and CD are available now. Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire was developed and published by LucasArts for Nintendo 64 on December 3, 1996, and sold one million copies in

Five Cool Things and Movies from the 1930s

My movie theme for April was films from the 1930s, here are six cool ones.
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For the month of April, I decided that my theme should be movies made in the 1930s. Actually, my original plan was to do the 1940s but after watching several gangster movies made in the '30s last month and realizing that I'd only seen a handful of films from that decade, I made the switch. The 1930s were a fascinating time for film. The Jazz Singer, made in 1927, became the first financially successful "talking" picture. This created a rush in the production of other sound pictures, but the technology was still in development and most theaters were not yet

Five Cool Things and The Lemonheads

My house might be a wreck and my yard is a jungle, but I'm still watching some cool movies.
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I mowed and weed-eated my yard today. A small accomplishment I know, but one that felt good. Our house is a wreck. The garden lays fallow save for a few wild strawberries that have come back from last year's planting. Though we spend most of our weekends at home, we just can't find the energy to do much of anything. I know I'm not the only one who feels this way as my social media feeds are filled with people in similar situations. One of the odd things about this virus and the quarantine is that so many of us

Five Cool Things and Punky Brewster

Here are the cool things I consumed this week.
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Last weekend, I went for a walk around the neighborhood with my wife and young daughter. Along the way, she saw some of her friends playing in the yard. One of them ran over to my daughter to give her a hug. I had to shout at her, screaming that they shouldn't be touching each other. Later this week, my daughter had her birthday. All things considered, it was a good day. We Facetimed the grandparents to let them see her open her presents. Many of her friends did drive-bys; they pulled up to the curb and she got to

Five Cool Things and John Prine

It's a week full of gangsters, cool and otherwise.
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Many years ago, back when I was writing for another site, I requested to watch and review a new DVD set called Warner Gangsters Collection, Vol. 4. It contained five movies from the '30s and '40s starring guys like Humphrey Bogart, Edward G. Robinson, and George Raft. I was a pretty big Bogart fan at the time and gangster movies sounded fun so I was excited to find it in my mailbox. I watched The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse first because it starred both Bogart and Robinson and had that ridiculous title. I hated it. While I was already a fan

Five Cool Things and a Murder Most Foul

Another week of self-isolation, another week of cool things.
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This month's theme was movies in which one character or multiple characters were going mad. I called it March Movie Madness. I did pretty well for the first couple of weeks, and then the virus came and scared the crap out of everybody. Naturally, I turned to apocalyptic movies then. Turns out, zombies and viral outbreaks also tend to star folks who are going quite mad. So all and all, it hasn't been a bad month, theme-wise. But it wasn't as good as it could have been. What I've learned is that choosing a theme that involves something slightly intangible

Five Cool Things and (Another) Run

Never fear the viral outbreak has not kept me from consuming cool things.
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Week #2 of Coronavirus quarantine. I'm not actually all that shut-in. On normal days, I work from home about 50% of the time. The other time I'm in my truck driving to different jobs and doing various manual labor tasks, or going to the bank, or running to the city to pick something up. Most of those things don't really involve interacting with others face to face. While I am home working, my wife and child remained cooped up in the house and that brings lots of interference into my working day. That's not meant to sound like a complaint.

Thoughtful & Abstract: A Good Opinion Is Hard to Find

Shawn and Kim return to the fold with some random subjects but spot on opinions.
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It's been a minute rice since we put forth some of our Grade A, doctor-recommended, mother-approved opinions on pop culture and beyond. Instead of a focus on quality shows like The Walking Dead and Sons of Anarchy, we're going to provide you with a less focused set of thoughts that don't follow any established pattern or rules. Just soak in our brains on paper. KIM: There sure was a lot of brouhaha over the Superbowl Halftime Show this year. What with Shakira and J-Lo and all of the sparkly outfits and whatnot. I really didn't like the halftime show at

Five Cool Things and Another Five Things

After a week off, I'm back with many cool things.
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It has been a weird week. My wife's mother just had hip replacement surgery and the original plan was that my wife would be leaving us today to spend time with her mom. This coming week is Spring Break which means my daughter will be out of school. I still have to work and so there was a bit of a conundrum about what to do with the girl. I kind-of, sort-of work from home so we didn't need to find full-time childcare, but we also didn't want her to sit around watching TV all day. Nor would she be

Five Cool Things and Candyman (2020)

Foreign Film February comes to and end with a lot of very American movies and the conclusion of a terrific French series.
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I watched 23 films in the month of February. That's not quite one film a day but it isn't bad either. My theme this month was foreign films and I watched 14 movies not made in the United States and not initially using the English language. I write "initially" because I watched a few low budget Italian horror films and I could only find them in dubbed versions. Still, I call that a victory. My tentative theme for March is Madness. No, I won't be watching basketball movies, or even sports ones. But rather I'm using the basketball nomenclature and

Five Cool Things and Run

There's a little bit for everyone - Stephen King fans, French film buffs, Italian horror fans, arthouse nerds - in this week's cool things.
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Last month, I watched, on average, over one movie per day. I knew going into February I would not keep up with that schedule. My plan was to watch some of the many television shows I'd missed that everyone keeps talking about. I've managed to not only not watch as many films but also I've hardly watched any series. It has just been one of those months where my pop-culture consumption has been down. Luckily, this week the things I did consume happened to also be pretty cool and so I have plenty to talk about. Bed and Board The

Five Cool Things and The French Dispatch

Another week, more cool things.
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Last week, I talked about how the themes of this month were going to be foreign films and films made by and starring people of color, in honor of Black History Month. I have utterly failed on that last one. Films by people of color are a large hole in my cinematic viewing history and I really do need to start filling it. But like so many other times when I’ve failed at watching certain types of films during one month, it all comes down to availability. White males have dominated the film industry since there was a film industry,

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