Saturday, March 30, 2013

Herr's Candy-Covered Pretzel Eggs

To celebrate Easter on the blog I give this offering: a new video! College buddy Philip paid me a visit at home recently and after catching up I coerced him to appear on-screen in an impromptu review. We try candy-covered egg-shaped pretzel bites and wax nostalgic about American Lit.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Update! What's Happening 3/28

Hey!  Quick update here.  I've finally got 100% of the old RtW moved here to the new blog.  If you're adding up articles and videos combined we're talking something like 400 items of unique content!  Everything from a visit to Old Time Pottery, Pizza Face Pat, Batman Spaghettio'sfreestyle walking and so much more!  Very cool and a big relief.  Now I can focus on moving forward and it feels like the rest of 2013 is going to be awesome!

New video going up Saturday!  I coerced a college buddy who visited to eat some cheap candy with me so keep an eye out for that this weekend!

Don't forget if you haven't done so already "like" the brand new RtW Facebook page!  A great way to stay informed and interact with me and other fans.

I've got a handful of new articles and videos (including teaming up with two cool dudes, one running a website named after grotesque vegetables and the other a vampiric T. rex) lined up for April and am constantly juggling schedules to collaborate with friends locally to keep busy and continue shooting more stuff so I'll (hopefully) always have a nice backlog of new HD video ready to unleash onto all of your eyes.  Safety goggles not included.

Monday, March 25, 2013

RtW Crew Visits McDonald's

Brian, Eddie, and Nick of Review the World make a stop at McDonald's for lunch during a day of filming for the website. The guys try burgers, fries, the Shamrock Shake, and a Premium Southwest Salad. We give thoughts on food and share some McD's reflections in this brand new, high-def video. Enjoy!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Oz the Great and Powerful

Hey!  A movie review?  I haven't done one of these in ages.  Before I jump into my thoughts on this new film I'd like to give some background on a few topics to set this all up.  I'm an avid fan of movies.  Took a lot of Film Studies courses in college, been documenting every movie I watch here the past 2+ years (aiming at 300+ for 2013), etc. and yet I rarely get out to the cinema.  I worked at two different movie theaters (not to mention three video stores) so safe to say I've spent a lot of time in them but the last couple years since becoming a parent it's rare I get the opportunity.  I could probably count the number of movies I've seen on the big screen the last two years on one hand.  The tragedy in Aurora, CO last year certainly dampened my moviegoing spirit also seeing me wait for many of the summer blockbuster releases on Blu-ray instead.

So I was quite excited to go out with my mom and niece last Friday night and catch a 9:45PM showing of Oz the Great and Powerful.  Some of my favorite moviegoing moments are with my mom when as a kid she'd often take me (and my big brother Dennis) to a show.  I remember many of those trips fondly, most at the now non-existent Cinema West in Hamilton, OH, taking in Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, Batman Returns, Nightmare Before Christmas, Jurassic Park, and strangely, RoboCop 3.  Not to even get into the Holiday Auto Theatre, an old school drive-in that I spent many summer nights at and still regard as one of my all-time favorite places on the planet.

I was curious to see this film and one of the big reasons I was interested was the great cast they'd assembled.  I may have bought a bit into the James Franco as James Franco character he's invented for himself (more here), the guy that writes, directs, acts, and still takes three times the course-load of the average college student.  And while I do find that drive admirable, it's not just the image he's generated, it's the actual work itself, from his articles in the Huffington Post, to his performances in Milk, 127 Hours, and as poets Hart Crane in The Broken Tower and Allen Ginsberg in Howl.  Then there's Michelle Williams (as Annie / Glinda) who's probably my favorite working actress in Hollywood.  Her emotionally bare performances in Blue Valentine, Wendy and Lucy, Meek's Cutoff, The Hottest State (based off of one of my favorite novels), and Brokeback Mountain have made her a must watch performer for me.  Lastly Rachel Weisz (as Evanora), who earlier in her career I didn't pay much attention to, but ever since I saw her great performance in the underrated The Fountain, and subsequent turns in The Brothers Bloom and The Deep Blue Sea she's really won me over.  

It was great to be at the cinema.  My first reaction wasn't the best, waiting in the lobby for my family members I ran smack into a group of rowdy teenage males, I quickly wished the lobby would host a free lobotomy.  I dropped $19.50 at the concession stand on a large buttered popcorn and two sodas for my niece and I (while my mom snuck in several boxes of candy).  I'm not a soda drinker any more and money is tight, for a minute or two I was mentally grappling with worries of costs and consuming a lot of junk food, but I was able to turn off that logical part of my brain and just let go and enjoy it... empty calories be damned!  Soon I found myself engrossed in the trailers pre-show mixing in bites of Raisinets, Buncha Crunch, and Junior Mints with big handfuls of salty popcorn.  When you're at the movies and you don't get to cut loose often sometimes it's best to just soak in the full experience and that's certainly what I did. 

I've never had a big affinity for the Oz universe be it the books, films, etc.  The Wizard of Oz has always been my mother's favorite movie but it joins A Christmas Story on the short list of supposed kids' films that gave me an uneasy, sort of creepy vibe when I was a youngster.  I enjoy its portion of The Great Movie Ride at Disney's Hollywood Studios theme park but otherwise I'm an outsider looking in.  All this being said, here's my thoughts on the movie itself:

I got swept up in the magic.  As I said, the night itself was ripe with meaning and joy for me, so maybe my euphoria played into my enjoyment.  Although, while a distinctively different experience, watching it at home I still would have enjoyed the film (just probably not all the sweets I'd partaken in).  I really felt this is this generation's Wizard of Oz.  Now, that's not to say it's better (or worse) than that revered classic, but I got swept up in the majesty all the same.  Any criticisms I have are minor.  I would have liked some scenes to breathe a bit more, like when "Oz" first arrived in, well, Oz.  Now, the movie runs 130 minutes, so it's hard to really argue it needed to be any longer, but there were points that I wish we could have stopped in partook in the scenery and chemistry between characters.  

Without revealing much the plot and story are fairly similar to The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.  Outsider comes to distant, magical land, the good folk champion them as their protector/savior, leading to a war with an evil queen (or in this case witch).  Narnia took it's time a bit more and luxuriated in the world of Narnia, something I would have liked more of here, as the possibilities of the strange world of Oz weren't investigated nay hardly surveyed.  Something Oz the Great and Powerful has over it though is a true sense of whimsy and grandiose entertainment.  I would say, if you have any interest, and have the time and disposable income, go see it in the theaters while it's still playing on the big screen.  I hope you'll get as wrapped up in its pleasures and spellbinding enchantment as I found myself.  I'll leave you with a quote indicative of the movie's spirit, and one I find appropriate to my own aspirations, as Oz says, "I don't want to be a good man... I want to be a great one."

Overall Grade: A-

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Ultimate Spider-Man Chocolate Toy Surprise

For the first new article on Review the World 2.0 we're going headhunting for a chocolate web-slinger!  In the box above lies a super heroic somebody cocooned in cacao.  Obviously the first thing I thought about was the beloved NestlĂ© Wonder Ball (if you're unfamiliar click here for a plethora of images via Google).  Those things were great.  Delicious milk chocolate spheres that housed inside, depending on the era, either figurines of Disney characters or SweeTarts-like candies. They were pulled off of the market due to some choking hazard issues but according to Wikipedia the company Frankford "is in the process of bringing them back".

It was hard to discern if this was an officially licensed product as the artwork on the side seemed to depict several different styles the most noticeable being the relatively new Ultimate Spider-Man animated series.  For those that haven't seen it I'd give it a recommendation, doesn't take itself too seriously, and having a sense of humor and capturing the wisecracking Peter Parker we all love.  Occasionally on the show the style will briefly slip into an exaggerated manga/anime homage which births the big, bug-eyed versions of Iron Fist, Nova, and Spider-Man near the bottom of the package.  Opening the box I found my egg-shaped treat resplendent in shiny foil also calling to mind the Wonder Ball.

Unlike the Wonder Ball, however, which you'd break into by whichever means intrigued you most (crack it against the table, bite into it, use a chisel and pretend you're Dr. Alan Grant, etc.) this chocolate spilt into two halves more or less on its own.  The chocolate itself wasn't too impressive, the NestlĂ© Wonder Ball I recall being milky and wonderful, this though was kind of grainy and disappointing.  What was awaiting me inside?

It's adorable anime-inspired Spider-Man!  He stands proud ready to web-sling right into my heart.  

Spider-Man: Excuse me gents, know where Jacques' Chili Emporium is?  I'm supposed to be meeting my pal Sonic there for a few chili cheese dogs and to quaff some root beers --

Hulk: That smell...

Duke: No, Hulk, it's nothing.  Let's just go.

Hulk: Chocolate...

Spider-Man: Umm, directions, no?

Hulk: Puny little spider smell like chocolate river in Willy Wonka rubbish flick.

Duke: No, of course he doesn't, Hulk.  Why would he smell like chocolate? Let's just move along, alright pal?

Hulk: Hulk SMASH!!!

Overall Grade: B

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Update! What's Happening 3/20

One of the things I aim to do in the next month is go in with $10 to Party City.  That's all you need to be king.  It's like going down to a Tijuana grotto with a $100.  That ten bucks will buy me more candy and party favors than I'll know what to do with.  A grown man patrolling the aisles looking for rubber insects and lollipops shaped like flower pots isn't that unusual, right?

New article going up tonight!  Let's just say it involves Spider-Man and chocolate.

I've got all my old articles moved over to the new blog (save for one -- it's got 70+ images so I saved it for last) and about 40% of my videos.  Should have everything in its right place within a week.  Speaking of video, been hearing some great feedback on the stuff I've shot with my new HD camcorder, still tinkering with its setting (just realized it had its image stabilizer automatically on and I did think the video looked slightly off but that's something only the most attentive viewer would notice or weirdos like me).  If you haven't watched it yet I posted Go! Road Trip #5 yesterday and it was a lot of fun to shoot.  I'll be posting another new video in 5-6 days.  

Lastly, hello to all the new visitors!  Since we've moved over to the new digs and my good buddy Matt plugged us over on the Dinosaur Dracula Facebook page seen lots of new traffic.  Welcome to RtW it's sort of like an old issue of Nintendo Power crossed with a stained '87 NYC Chinese takeout menu and a pad of Jim Henson's sketches from his salad years.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Go! Road Trip #5

Proud to bring you the first new content here on the new and improved Review the World!

After a couple years absence Paul and Brian make their triumphant return with a brand new Go! Road Trip! Go! is all about just that, getting out of the house, and going! This trip sees the guys smash a sushi buffet, end up at a legendary castle, getting philosophical riverside, then exploring the highways and byways.

More new content on the way!  I'll have another new video up within a week and a new article or two within the next few days.  I'm having a blast and hope you all enjoy the new stuff.

I know I'll get asked so I'll clear it up here:  The song at the end of this episode is from the first (and honestly one of the only) RPGs I ever played.  It was Ultima: Exodus on NES.  About a decade ago I burnt a 70+ track CD of all my favorite classic video game music from my youth and when puzzled how to close out the video I tried a few of those game tunes and this one just felt somehow bizarrely right.

Don't forget -- I just started an official RtW Facebook!  Please check it out and "like" it to follow all the latest happenings with the site and I.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Welcome to Review the World 2.0!

So glad you're here and warm greetings from the new Review the World 2.0!  I started the original Review the World back in January of '05 (with the idea itself germinating back in '03).  After over eight years I felt it was time to evolve.  I loved my old site, the goofy graphics (why yes, that was Chuck E. Cheese rubbing shoulders with Kool-Aid Man), simplistic design (Netscape Composer '97 from day one), etc. while it was likely outdated quite early into its run but it had a lot of charm and was earnest.

I felt in recent months it was lost in a vacuum of the Internet.  We've never been a real big site, albeit having an awesome and loyal base of supportive fans, but without adapting I felt like I was posting stuff then it'd get lost into the proverbial ether.  I wanted a more functional site, one that'd make it much easier to comment on articles and other content, making the viewers' experience smoother and more interactive, while also pushing it forward into new territory.  RtW is now more of a blog, but fear not old faithful fans, the only changes are positive.  This'll be easier for me to update, which means more content, both text-based and videos, more interaction with you all, which encourages me greatly and keeps me motivated, and will be easier to navigate and explore.

Review the World has always been about celebrating life and all of the stuff that makes it up.  I've always strived for positivity and my ultimate goal is to make others happy and if I can do that by a goofy review or video then I'm more than satisfied.  I'm always going to talk about dollar store junk, toys, food and candy, restaurants and places, nostalgic reflections, movies and cartoons, comics, games, etc. and produce original video content including short films and series'.  These are the things that make up RtW.  I'm also going to share my awe and joy at life and all the tiny details that make it so amazing.  And that's what makes up me as a person.

Some quick maintenance notes:

- All of the nearly 200 original RtW articles are here!  As of this post I've only got about 30% of the videos moved over but am working tirelessly on that and they'll all be here in their new home within the next few days.  I wanted them all up when the site went live but didn't want to put off this launch any longer!

- The first new content here on the new site will be up by Tuesday (3/19) night.  I've got a half-dozen new HD videos ready to unveil in the weeks to come and a bunch of neat stuff to write blog posts about so the next months will have lots of new posts lined up.

- Started an official RtW Facebook.  Please "like" it!  It's going to be a great way to let everyone know about new posts, will share some exclusive content there, and another venue for RtW fans and I to interact!

Here's a quick sneak preview I cut mostly for the benefit of friends and family on Facebook on some of the new HD video we're working on.  Thanks so much for reading and the support.  Check back soon and we'll get this thing started!  2013 is still young let's make it a year to remember!