SDCC 2012: Supernatural Recap

Posted By on July 19, 2012

This year at Comic-Con, the cast of CW’s Supernatural returned to show off new clips from their show. First were some clips from season 7 as a reminder of the journey so far. Dean’s faced hell before, but now he’s trapped in purgatory. Bobby may have “died” last season, but Jim Beaver strongly implied that he will be back for season 8.

When they took fan questions, they kept using the answer, “Anything is possible.” They also coined one of my favorite terms while up there, “Apocalytopi,” which is eight apocalypses that occur simultaneously. That deserves a place in Urban Dictionary.

The most entertaining fan question came from someone just wanting to know what Jensen Ackles and Misha Collins thought of the fan pairing, “Dastiel.” Once it was explained to them what it was, Jensen responded with “It’s cool. We like it.”

The panel ended with the premiere of their new gag reel for season 7. They’re quite famous for their hilarious gag reels and this one was no different. The whole panel was very funny, which you can watch here.

Season 8 of Supernatural will premiere Wednesday, October 8th at 9 PM.

Doctor Who at SDCC 2012: Cowboys and Dinos and Groundhogs, Oh My!

Posted By on July 18, 2012

After many fans waited 14 hours or more, they were treated to Doctor Who’s return to SDCC’s legendary Hall H yet again this year, bringing Matt Smith, Karen Gillan, Arthur Darvill, and Stephen Moffat to the states.

They showed a few clips, a couple of which came from the upcoming season. One clip came from an upcoming episode called “A Town Called Mercy,” a cowboy style adventure they filmed in Spain.

Another clip offered a glimpse at an episode called “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship.” It’s pretty clear what that one’s about, as well as featuring Nefertiti and Rory’s dad. Moffat seemed quite proud of this one, stating that having dinosaurs on a spaceship is the secret to success.

The best fan question asked what the actors would like to have seen on Doctor Who. Matt said Atlantis, which has been done a few times on Doctor Who but Moffat said they may go ahead and do it anyway. Karen said she would like them to get miniaturized and trapped in a giant piano. Hardwick had a fascinating idea that The Doctor should visit the town of Punxsutawney to figure out a strange time loop-taking place on Groundhog Day.

The final episodes of Doctor Who with companions Amy Pond and Rory Williams are coming sometime this fall. Moffat guarantees it’ll be heart wrenching.

Top Ten Must-Have Mods for Skyrim

Posted By on July 5, 2012

Few games provide as massive of a play space or deliver as much content as The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Still, there are some players who hunger for more and, through Steam’s amazing workshop system, have built a thriving community of programmers creating Skyrim mods to expand their gaming experience. If you’ve got Skyrim on the PC, you have no reason not to be playing it with mods: they’re fully integrated into Steam, they’re inventive, and they expand Skyim‘s nigh-infinite gameplay into something truly infinite. Here are ten of the mods that you simply must have for Skyrim, dahling.

Dragons Diversified

Need more dragons? Well, you got ‘em. Dragons Diversified adds a bevy of new winged lizards, like creep skeletal dragons and dirt-breathing earth dragons.

More Creatures!

Expands Skyrim‘s bestiary to include new monsters, like bear trolls and fire hounds.

Spend Dragon Souls for Perks

Though you’ll spend most of your early dragon souls on your dragonborn shouts, should you play as the same character for long enough there will come a time where you have more souls than you do shouts to unlock. With this mod, you can spend these oh-so-valuable souls for some oh-so-valuable shouts, making them still useful without breaking the game.

Enhanced High-Level Gameplay

Are you too powerful? Is hard mode just not hard enough? Well, this mod looks to crank the challenge back up to eleven with new, stronger foes armed with bizarre spells and abilities.

Legendary Creatures

This mod adds a slew of epic new monsters, giving you monster hunters something new to look for.

The Sounds of Skyrim series

These mods (yes, there are several of them) add new ambient sounds to Skyrim, making undead-filled dungeons scarier as the Draugr moan and screech from down the hallway, or wolf packs more wolfy as you hear their midnight howls.

Skyrim UI

Optimizes the Skyrim interface for PC. Simple as that.

X-fletching

Need some arrows? Now you can make ‘em.

Midas Magic

A wizard’s work of mastering the arcane arts is never done, and with Midas Magic it’ll really never be done thanks to the incredible list of new spells for you to learn and utilize.

Posh Mudcrabs

What’s better than mudcrabs with top hats and monocles?

Answer: nothing.

 

Article originally posted on GeekNation.com

Dean Cain Interview: Superman vs. Darth Vader

Posted By on June 22, 2012

For four years, Dean Cain played the Man of Steel at the start of his superhero career in Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. Influenced heavily by comic book writer/artist John Byrne’s The Man of Steel comic book mini-series, the program depicted Clark Kent as the true character and Superman as the front he put on, initially a lonely young man except for his adoptive parents’ continuous encouragement. At Wizard World Philadelphia, Dean and I discussed Lois & Clark and his other work in front of a WW Philly audience.

YouTube video of panel: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B2lbTbZ_BQo

Langley: Who were your heroes growing up?

Cain: I enjoyed comics when I was a kid but I wasn’t a comic geek. I didn’t have tons and tons of comic books and things. It seems strange now, but back in 1976 when I was 10 years old, Bruce Jenner won the Olympic decathlon. He was a big hero of mine then, and I wanted to be a decathlete. It was mostly athletes that I really identified with, and I ended up being a professional football player, so it was something that was really close to me. But I was teased for being into Superman when I was a kid, so it was kind of apropos.

Langley: A number of people who have played heroes have told me sports heroes are very important to them. Do you think that figures into the heroics of the part or into being physically fit? How does that affect your role?

Cain: I love team sports. Individual sports are more difficult, really, but it’s more solitary and I like the aspect of teamwork. When you end up playing a sport like football or something like that, you’re in battle. You’re in battle, heroic things happen, so you understand sort of that psychology, if you will. When your back’s against the wall, somebody’s gotta step up. You know what that feeling is, you know you’re gonna do something more than even you think is capable, and it happens so. That sports aspect certainly translates to superheroes.

Langley: When you were trying out for this part, was it just any other audition or did you really get to wanting it?

Cain: [Laughs] When I first went for this role… The auditioning process is interesting and it’s changed over time, but I went in and I was the first actor they had seen. I came in and it was a room with three or four people in it. I was very comfortable – I don’t know why. Sometimes you get really nervous and uncomfortable in these auditions, but I was very comfortable with the material. I had read it the night before, and I said, “You know, I might have a different take on it than anybody else.” The producer guy was Robert Butler. He was responsible for creating shows like Hill Street Blues, and he’s a really well known director and producer who’s a show starter – anything he starts tends to go to series. I said, “I got a little different take on this.” He said, “Let’s just see what you got,” so I read the stuff and he said, “Thank you very much!” I said, “Okay, thanks. Bye,” and that was it. You normally hear something within a day or two or even that week. I heard nothing, so I figured that’s another one that’s just gone.

It was maybe three weeks later, I was at a party with friends and people I didn’t know, and this one girl who’s in casting goes, “Hey, you know they’re really high on you for that Superman thing.” I was like, “What? That was three weeks ago. That’s already over.” “No they’re really high on you. They really liked what you did. You were the first person that came in, but they really liked you.” Then it started in earnest after that. They started bringing in six or seven different guys and six or seven different girls, then they started bringing in name actors. I remember coming in on that audition and there were all these guys that I recognized, and I was like, “Uh-oh. Oh well.” Bummed. It was a good shot when I had it. Then they kept whittling down and whittling down, it came down to the network audition, and it was myself and some guy named Kevin Sorbo…

[Audience laughter]

…and about four Lois Lanes. No, there were three Lois Lanes that day. And they paired us up and had us go audition and do different things. I had never been to a network audition before and it’s a lot of pressure, but I thought I did pretty well. There were three scenes to learn, and I did the two scenes that I had to do and figured, “Okay, I got it. I’m good.” Then they wanted to see the third scene, and I was like, “Uh-oh. I messed something up.” I didn’t know what was going on. Did the third scene and waited and then I got a call the next morning. They had to tell me in a short period of time because there were other shows that I had a chance to do as well. I got it and the rest, as they say, is history.

Langley: Was it a fun show to work on? Because some shows look fun but are actually very grueling.

Cain: It was terrible. [Laughter] No, working on the show was fantastic. It was extremely grueling, though. It really was. We shot five days a week, nine and half months a year. It would be an 18-hour day from the time I left to the time I got back. Sleep pattern was completely mixed up because we’d start very early on Monday morning, and then we’d finish very, very early on Saturday morning, when the night ran out. All your night work was toward the end of the week and exterior daytime work was at the beginning part of the week, so you’d lose a day of sleep, basically, throughout the whole thing because you had to flip it around on the weekend: going to bed at 7:30 in the morning versus getting up at 5:00. So it was just daunting physically.

But it was so fun. The show was great. My co-stars were fantastic. The crew was amazing because as hard as we worked, the crew was there before and after, and people don’t really keep that in mind when we start talking about the hours that we work – and they’re terrible. They work really hard. But, you know, they can get out for a doctor’s appointment. We couldn’t. “Oh, we’re gonna have a different DP today because he’s got to get his teeth worked on.” “Well, my teeth hurt. Let him play Superman.”

Langley: They couldn’t get a different Superman for the day.

Cain: Yeah, so that didn’t happen very often. It was great, but I would say it was grueling. In fact, that’s how we ended the show. We got picked up for a fifth season. It sort of ended on a cliffhanger, the fourth season.

Langley: Yeah, whose baby was that? {Trivia: Lois and Clark found a baby who mysteriously appeared in their apartment at the end of the final episode.}

Cain: [Laughs with crowd] I don’t know!

I had been writing a few of the episodes and had talked story with them, and this was my hope: We would have this baby situation and I think what was – at least in my mind – they were going to have this baby be there and we would start to raise this child and we would find it wasn’t ours. We’d grow attached to it. It’s not ours, so we find out whose it is and it would have to go back to whomever it was, and I’m sure that would break her heart and my heart.

What I was excited about was, okay, after all that heartbreak, we decide to have a child. What are the rules? I mean, I don’t know. It was a really fun time for us or it was going to be because how do you create this pairing? What happens chemically? I don’t know. He’s from Krypton, you know, so she could have been pregnant for three episodes and then had a child. Who knows what the time frame would have been? And then how soon would that kid grow up or go into adolescence? It could have been another three episodes. There’s no time frame! So we could have made a lot of rules and it could have been a lot of fun. And then we could have spun it off into Smallville. [Laughter] We could have continued at the same time, I could have had producing credit on that, and it would have been great. [Laughter]

Langley: And you did appear on that show.

Cain: Of course, yeah. I did appear on Smallville in season 97. [Laughter] Those guys ran forever! Tom Welling has grey hair! I’m kidding. He doesn’t. He’s a big, tall guy and he’s a good dude. He’s great. He’s just bigger than me.[Laughter] Well, Christopher Reeve set the tone. In fact, he set the tone for me as Superman as well. I modeled my Superman character after Christopher Reeve. I thought he played that role fantastically, and as Clark Kent as well. I just didn’t particularly love Clark Kent being the mealy mouthed kind of guy. I liked the George Reeves version where he was more of a substantial guy. I was happy that I got to sort of pair those two in my portrayal of the character.

Tom Welling had a whole different experience. They reinvented it, and it was great. But when Christopher Reeve was on the show, he set the tone, and pretty much anybody who had anything to do with the Superman lore should have been on the show, I think. I was happy and honored to do it. Teri went on and did it as well. She did, right? Yes. Yes. I heard she was going to, but I never saw the episode.

[Audience members explain to Dean that Teri played Lois Lane’s dead mother on Smallville.]

Cain: Oh, it was a videotape? So she probably shot it in Los Angeles and sent it out there. Teri, Teri, Teri.

[Laughter]

Langley: But you have stayed busy-busy since then too.

Cain: One of the things they say is, “You know this is going to be hard for you to play other roles and get other things,” but I’ve done like a hundred movies since. Not all of them great, I’ll be honest, but that’s part of the deal. I’ve always been a person who believes that work begets work, and I [believe in] taking on roles of different sizes and different size films. I’m a worker. “Why would you do that role in that film?” Because I’m an actor and I act. So I’ve done a lot of movies I’m very proud of, some of them– Actually, I’m proud of everything I get in. Some of them haven’t been as good as others [Laughs] but I never felt pigeon-holed having played the role, and it’s certainly far enough away now that a new generation of kids come in and they’ve never seen Lois & Clark. They’ve only heard that I played Superman. In fact, in Out of Time, when I got to play the bad guy opposite Denzel Washington, the director had heard that I had played Superman but had never met me before and never saw the show. He said, “Yeah, bring in the guy who played in the NFL. He might be able to stand up against Denzel.” So he brought me in like that – which is great – and fortunately I could.

Langley: How long did you do Ripley’s Believe It Or Not?

Cain: Ripley’s Believe It or Not lasted four seasons. We did 88 hour-long episodes and then we syndicated that, cut it into half hour episodes so about 170 half-hour episodes. Now I produced that. My company made that show so I was able to control that a lot better than the Lois & Clark schedule. The Lois & Clark schedule worked out to eight days a show, we’d shoot about eighteen hours a day, and it was grueling. Ripley’s Believe It or Not, for me, was eight days a year. [Laughter] Yeah, it was four pairs of two days, and I chose what days those were – which was also great. It was a ten-hour day and then a seven-hour day. Then a ten-hour day and a seven-hour day. I did that four times a year and got paid a lot more for that than I ever got for Lois & Clark. Honest to goodness truth. And still is ‘cause Warner Brothers hides their money very well and you can quote me on that.

[Laughter]

Langley: What’s the most exciting thing you’ve got going on right now?

Cain: The most exciting thing for me, outside of my career, is my son. I’m a single father to a boy who’s going to be twelve in about two weeks, and that is the greatest thing in the world for me. Career-wise, I’m insanely busy now. For the last twelve years, I had to balance being there, being a parent, and working. There’s times when I’ve missed things because I’ve had to work. That’s been the most difficult part. My son’s getting older now, so I’m able to work more. Now suddenly I’m doing a lot more stuff. I have a show on Fox. I shot it in one day, not a big time commitment, called The Choice which is a dating show. Not really a dating show – it’s a competition show. It’s mindless, fun summer entertainment. That was a lot of fun. There are some other projects I have with Fox as well that were in development so that was part of admission. They said, “And you’re gonna do this show,” and I said okay. How bad can it really be? It wasn’t bad. Actually, I went on a date with a pretty girl, so it worked out.

This month, there’s a show for Hallmark called Operation: Cupcake, which is a very cute Hallmark movie. Kristy Swanson, who’s here, plays my wife in it. I’ll tell you what, she played Buffy, and that was great. This girl is such a fantastic co-star. Even days when she didn’t have to work, she cooked and brought stuff for the crew. I didn’t even try to compete that by the way. I was like, “Okay, Kristy takes the crown. I’ll just be here and hang out with you guys. We’ll cheer for Kristy because she was clearly the greatest thing ever.” The movie turned out real well. It’s a very cute family film.

After I had my turn interviewing actor Dean Cain about Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman and his other professional work, we called for audience questions, starting with one from a little boy dressed like Darth Vader.

Audience #1: What was your favorite episode of Lois & Clark you played in?

Cain: I wrote a couple episodes and I would like to say those were my favorites, but then I would be lying. I really did enjoy those very much, but I think my favorite episode, when I look back, was maybe the proposal. When Clark proposed to Lois, and it was sort of a cliffhanger at the end, and she says, “Who’s asking? Clark or Superman?”

Langley: It really was the best line in the whole series.

Cain: It really was. Thank you, Darth, for not choking me. [laughter] Robin? You have a question right, buddy? No?

Audience #2 (woman with boy dressed as Robin): He’s really shy. He’d like to know who’s your best friend superhero.

Cain: My best friend superhero? Well, it’s not Batman. I’ll tell you that right now. [laughter] Hard to say. I used to watch Super Friends when I was a kid. I thought Aquaman was pretty cool. But I don’t know who Superman’s best friend is. But right now? My best friend is Robin, okay?

Audience #3: I was wondering how hard it was to get into the mindset of Scott Peterson. Because it was creepy.

Cain: Scott Peterson. I played him in The Perfect Husband, which was an ironic title. You know, I actually turned that role down about three or four times, and they kept coming back to me. They kept handing me more each time, which was interesting but I really didn’t want to do it. I thought the role was good and I thought the film was well written, but I kept thinking, “Do I really want to be associated with this guy?” And it went on and went on and went on, and finally, I was talking to my father – he’s a director and a filmmaker – and I said, “Dad, they keep offering me this Scott Peterson thing. You know who that is? Scott Peterson?” He’s like, “Yeah, yeah. You kind of look like him.” Thanks, Dad. [laughter] And he goes, “Well, you’re an actor right?” “Yeah.” “Can you be good in it?” “Yeah, I think I can actually be really good in it.” “That’s your job, isn’t it?” “Yeah.” “Then go to work.” So I finally took it.

And to play the mindset of Scott Peterson? If you watch his interviews, he just was like a really bad actor. So it was really easy. It was simple: Just go be a bad actor. I do that every day. This is cake! [laughter] No, you have to be able to make fun of yourself in this business.

Audience #4: Did you enjoy your time on Vegas?

Cain: On Las Vegas, that was one of the easiest sets in the world to go to work on. The cast was so good looking, it was ridiculous. The guys and the girls! And they were all so nice. It was amazing! We had Josh DuhamelJames Lesure, who are fantastic guys… Jimmy Caan. I could just listen to James Caan tell stories about The Godfather or anything for hours. And then the girls? They were just gorgeous. It’s like, this is what I get to go do every day? Come here and hang out with these guys? And even the guys in the background? They were just this fantastic looking group. And then your costars would come on! “Oh, well, this week we’re doing something about theArena Football League, so we have John Elway and Jon Bon Jovi coming.” And I’m like, “Are you kidding? This is like the greatest day ever! And that’s after the Pussycat Dolls dance? Great!”

[laughter]

And that’s what the show was like. This is amazing and I get to be the owner, so that was a lot of fun. In fact, I was going to stay on the show but the creator of that show, he created another show and I went to work on [it]. Gary Scott Thompson. We tried to get another show on the air called Protect and Serve. It was a police officer thing. We shot the pilot…. It was right on the bubble but didn’t get picked up. So I was killed by a giant squid. That’s what they said.

 

Audience #5: There’s been a trend towards erasing the marriages of superheroes. They erased Lois and Clark’s marriage – and they say it makes characters more relatable to younger readers?

Langley: Did you actually marry Lois or was it just the frog-eating clone? Did you finally have a real wedding?

Cain: The frog-eating clone. [hangs his head] Where did that one come from? It was pretty gross. I took the little light and shined it in [the writer’s] eyes and asked, “Are you all there?” Yeah, we got married on the show

Unrequited love is a big theme, and it’s tough for a superhero to find contented love because what do you do next? I think it’s just a way of keeping it alive. I don’t think it has anything to do with keeping it relatable to younger readers or not.

Audience #6: A lot of people don’t know about your charity work. Choosing between Emmy or Oscar, Super Bowl or Nobel Peace Prize, what would you go for?

Cain: Wow. Emmy or Oscar, Super Bowl – I was really close on that – or Nobel Peace Prize? I’d like to get them all. [laughs] Of course, I’d have to take Nobel Peace Prize because that’s a worldwide thing. I mean, you’re going to affect a lot of people. But fortunately, in the world of entertainment, you can really affect a lot of people by the stories you tell. And I think that’s a gift we have as actors and writers and producer…

Super Bowl. I wanted a Super Bowl really bad. I played for the Buffalo Bills for one season. I was a rookie with Thurman Thomas and that year, my rookie year, I got injured and I was done. We lost the AFC that year. But then the next four years, we went to the Super Bowl. Then we lost and we lost and we lost and then we lost, and that was it. One time, a reporter asked me, “If you had stayed and made the squad, after these four losses, would we have been okay? Would we have won one?” As an athlete, you love to believe that you could have made a difference…that maybe I would have been out of position and done something wrong and maybe the ball would have bounced my way, and I could have done something great and changed the tide. And we’d have won. So, in Buffalo, this guy writes the headline: “Cain thinks he could have brought a Super Bowl to Buffalo.” [laughter] And it’s…What’re you doing? I did not say that! You twisted my words! But yeah, I could have gotten them a Super Bowl for sure. [laughs]

Langley: What charity work have you been involved in?

Cain: I do a ton of different charity work. My father had cancer a few years back, so I do a lot of things with cancer. I do anything I can basically to help kids, and I will do anything I can to help our men and women in uniform. I’m a huge supporter of our military. I’ve been over to Iraq and visited the troops out there, thanked them for their service. I thank them anyplace I go. [A new project] starts Monday, a big thing dealing with the troops. It’ll air after the Olympics and it’s a fantastic piece that I’m really proud to be a part of. But you know, I travel the world and I get to see what it’s like to live in countries where you don’t have the freedom of expression and the freedom of the press. It’s amazing to be able to live here in the United States with the freedoms we have, and so much of that is attributable to the rule of law that we live under and the men and women who can make that happen so. Law enforcement and the military, I just have great respect for them.

Audience #7: Which actor or actress that has passed would you like to work with?

Cain: I would have really loved to have been able to work with Christopher Reeve obviously. I would have loved to have met him. It never came up but I wish I had created that opportunity because he was a pretty inspirational guy. [People talk about] “the Superman curse,” but the reality is Kirk Alyn, the first Superman, he died in 90-something and did just fine. George Reeves, obviously there were some issues going on there. Who knows what went down there. And with Christopher Reeve, it was tragic what happened to him but it was also an incredible story of triumph, and I would argue it was a much more inspirational story than it was a tragedy. So, maybe I’ll pick Christopher Reeve.

Audience #8: When you were acting as Superman or as Clark Kent, which mindsets did you go for? Clark Kent as Superman or Superman acting as Clark Kent?

Cain: Definitely Clark Kent acting as Superman. There’s no question. And that’s opposite from the way it used to be. Christopher Reeve played it as Superman acting as Clark Kent, and we did the opposite.

Audience #10: How was it filming my favorite scene in Rat Race where Amy Smart kind of kicked your…well, you know.

Cain: Kicked my…yeah. Filming Rat Race was a lot of fun. I’ve never really been pigeon-holed because I’ll try anything, and a small role like that in a funny film doing that kind of big comedy was fun. [Amy] zipped me and rolled the window up on me and sent me flying. That was really fun. I actually fell off the process trailer we were on. I fell and I injured myself but it was okay. Here’s a fifty million dollar movie with helicopters and big stunts and over the top funny stuff. At the end of the day, though, it doesn’t matter if it’s that or a twenty dollar student movie. You end up with a couple actors and a camera and that’s the amazing thing.

Yes, sir. Darth Vader has a question.

Audience #1 (Darth Vader boy returns): On your Superman costume, why did you keep changing the S? He says you kept changing the S. [points to Robin]

Cain: They did change the S. That is completely beyond my control, Mr. Vader. They’ll experiment with a costume for different characters and different people. That was the producer’s choice.

Langley: Okay, questions began and ended with Darth Vader. [applause]

 

Don’t Lose That Teddy! Snuggle Truck Game Review

Posted By on June 17, 2012


So you want to be a Snuggle Truck driver? Well, son, transporting loads of snuggly stuffed animals ain’t all fun ‘n’ games. Rough roads, ornery vehicles, long hours… it’s a hard day’s work, that’s fer sure. But if yer willin’ to log the time to get them stuffed animals from point A to point B… Snuggle Truck might be the game fer you.

In a nutshell: Snuggle Truck puts the player in control of a truck driver transporting stuffed animals to the zoo (a zoo for stuffed animals, it appears). In-game physics and rocky terrain make each level a battle to keep the stuffed animals from falling out of the back of your vehicle. The video game is available for the PC, Mac, and iOS.

Snuggle Truck is a simple, simple game. You drive a truck through a variety of locales and try to keep as much of your cargo intact as possible. The game throws in a few powerups once in a while for variety, but for the most part things are pretty straightforward. Making it to the finish line with a load of stuffed animals can bring the occasional thrill, although screwing up and watching the fuzzy bunnies and bears go flying is good for a giggle.

Game features: A variety of levels categorized from easy to extremely difficult, as well as tons of levels created by their online player community.

Overall, Snuggle Truck is a simple and fun distraction with plenty of updates available and free online levels to keep the game interesting, but anyone looking for a game with some depth to it may want to check elsewhere.

You should play this game if you like cuddly stuffed animals or enjoy controlling vehicles that are perpetually teeter-tottering on the edge of crashing.

Interview: Kevin Sorbo on Heroism and Role Models

Posted By on June 15, 2012

Kevin Sorbo starred in the #1 show on the planet – twice. After narrowly missing the chance to play Superman, coming in second place to Dean Cain to play the Man of Steel in Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, he went on play Hercules for six seasons on Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and then Captain Dylan Hunt for five seasons on Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda. In his book True Strength: My Journey from Hercules to Mere Mortal and How Nearly Dying Saved My Life, he recounts how suffering strokes that left him partially blind during Herculeschanged his point of his view and over time redefined how he measured success. Kevin discussed heroism and role models with me as he prepared to attend Comicpalooza.

Superherologist: Who are your heroes?

Sorbo: Who are my heroes? My parents, Abe Lincoln, and Marilyn Monroe.

Superherologist: Marilyn Monroe? [laughs]

Sorbo: There you go.

Superherologist: Were they your heroes when you were growing up?

Sorbo: Well, Marilyn Monroe’s a joke. Sure, my parents were. They’re great people. Abe Lincoln was a great president.

Superherologist: And you’re a hero to many. The charity that you work with, World Fit for Kids, involves training teenagers to mentor children.

Sorbo: That’s a very small part of it. It’s a very multi-layered after-school program. We’re the number one after-school program in the state of California. Trying to go nationwide with it right now. It’s preparation for going on to higher education, preparation for going to the real world. It’s a self-esteem building program. It’s physical fitness, fighting childhood obesity. It’s a number of different things, not just mentoring. Mentoring is certainly one aspect of it, where we train teens to become mentors to young children in their own communities because that builds respect and trust with people from their own community. We work with over twelve thousand kids. In a city that has a 55% drop out rate, we have a 95% graduation rate. We have a 60% higher GPA. We work with them on schoolwork they have problems with. We’re all over the board with it, a number of different things that kids do. We make them better adults.

Superherologist: Are you focusing on the adults as role models? Is it focused on the specific training or motivating them through examples?

Sorbo: It’s teenagers only. We train teens to be mentors to younger kids in their own communities. We don’t work with adults. We work with first graders and twelfth graders.

Superherologist: These teenagers, can anyone do it or is there a screening process?

Sorbo: No, anyone who wants to be part of it. They’re kids at the schools. We work with twelve different schools, middle schools, high schools and grade schools, and talk to the kids that are in the program already within the middle schools and high schools. I’ll ask, “Would you like to do this?” I tell them what the benefits are and tell them what they could do for the kids that are younger than them. The ones that volunteer and jump on board, they find out rather quickly it builds up their self-esteem as well because here these are kids always looking for respect, looking for people to look up to them. All of a sudden, they’ve got seven or eight-year-old kids listening to what they have to say and realize what they could have a profound influence on them.

Superherologist: Comicpalooza scheduled you to participate in the Heroes for Heroes: Badass Celebrity Smackdown Laser Tag charity event in support of veterans. That’s a different kind of charity.

Sorbo: Anything supporting the veterans, I’m all for.

Superherologist: Now you’ve played a number of fictional characters – Hercules, Kull, Captain Dylan Hunt on Andromeda. Do you see them as role models for youth? You tend to play fantastic characters, fantasy and science fiction, but then they’re very human. What do you see kids getting out of your characters as role models?

Sorbo: Just off Hercules alone, I received thousands of letters over the seven years I shot that series from schools and kids and foster homes. Obviously the writers did a wonderful job of creating a character that was heroic, was very thoughtful. Fighting was always the last option for him. Humor was always sort of the way Hercules operated. I think he was a wonderful role model just based off what people tell me on a day-to-day basis.

Superherologist: You’ve been inspired not just by people but by your own health crisis along the way. What kind of change did that have to do with what you were doing in regards to others?

Sorbo: I’ve always been pretty charitable. I think having my own health crisis more than anything made me far more motivated in my life. I wrote the book to hopefully inspire other people too. You know, I’ve realized one thing: Everybody has a story. To me, it was just a way to get people moving and to not let other people set their limitations. You can be whatever you want to be. It’s totally up to you. Just find something that makes you happy in your life. And just doing that alone, being productive, knowing yourself is good for everybody around you.

Superherologist: At New York Comic Con, I saw you interacting with your fans. While other celebrities were sitting behind tables, you were standing up in front of your table. You looked to me like somebody welcoming people into your home.

Sorbo: [laughs]

Superherologist: You did. What do you want fans to take away when they meet you?

Sorbo: A lot of times, people have been waiting for years to meet you or they were waiting in line. Especially on a Friday or Saturday at these events, there are such long lines. Give them two minutes. Go say hi. Ask them where they’re from. Ask them what they’re doing. I see some of these celebrities, some just sign, “next.” Come on, guys, give them two minutes of your life. What’s the big deal? You’re here. You might as well have some fun with it. I don’t go to these things begrudgingly. I don’t go to them because it’s a pain in the butt. To me, it’s a lot of fun. Have fun while you’re doing it. Why not do that? Give them something to say when they walk away. You don’t want people saying what a jerk are. You can have a bad day. We all have bad days, but you’re there. You might as well have fun with it.

Superherologist: At this point in your career, who are you a fan of? And what does it take for you to get excited and say, “Oh my gosh, that’s so-and-so”?

Sorbo: I’m a sports guy, so I can meet other actors and that’s fine. There’s certainly other actors that I’m a fan of. Tom Hanks comes to mind. I’ve gotten to meet him a few times through the years. We’ve had wonderful conversations. But outside the industry, I like watching sports. I’m a fan of athletics, a fan of moving around. I don’t watch a lot of NBA, but I watch playoffs because, to me, this when these guys try. This is when they put it all forth, and I appreciate that amazing gift of athleticism these guys have. I grew up in the sports world, you know? I’m one of four boys. We all played sports growing up, and played them beyond. Even when I had my series, I was still playing basketball and things like that, so I’m more a fan of that than getting googly eyed over other actors. I would probably be more impressed with meeting the queen of England or something. [Laughs]

Learn more about World Fit for Kids at http://worldfitforkids.org and feel free to share your favorite charities in the comments below. You don’t have to be a celebrity to spread the word about a worthwhile cause.

 

How to Buy Batman and Psychology: A Dark and Stormy Knight

Posted By on June 7, 2012

This man has received his copy of Batman and Psychology: A Dark and Stormy Knight. You too could be holding your own copy right away.

I’m doing most of my blogging at GeekNation.com now, but that didn’t seem like the place for me to post this information for people who’ve been asking how to buy my book, Batman and Psychology:  A Dark and Stormy Knight. If you already have a copy and would like to mail it to me to sign, I will be more than happy to do so. People have been asking and I would love to oblige. Include return postage, of course. Contact me through Twitter (@Superherologist) to arrange that. We’ve included some other options that could save time and the extra steps. See below.

You can order it directly from my publisher, Wiley & Sons:
http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-1118167651.html

You can also buy it through sites like Amazon:
http://is.gd/KNIGHT

You can also buy it for Kindle through Amazon:
http://is.gd/DARKSTORMY

Barnes & Noble offers it on Nook:
http://is.gd/BATNOOK

Through Amazon, my wife is selling copies I’ll AUTOGRAPH:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/1118167651/ref=tmm_pap_new_olp_sr?ie=UTF8&condition=new

Or save yourself the money Amazon would make off its commission and order it autographed through PayPal:

Shipping options (all with delivery confirmation)

 

If you order a copy, please tell me, @Superherologist on Twitter. I want to know how well the different shipping methods works, how quickly everyone receives their copies, and what you think of the book!

PRESS RELEASE

Batman is one of the most compelling and enduring characters to come from the Golden Age of Comics, and interest in his story has only increased through countless incarnations since his first appearance in Detective Comics #27 in 1939. Why does this superhero without superpowers fascinate us? What does that fascination say about us? Batman and Psychology: A Dark and Stormy Knight (Wiley; Paperback; $17.95; 978-1-1181-6765-6/ Also available as an e-book; May 2012) explores these and other intriguing questions about the masked vigilante, including: Does Batman have PTSD?  Why does he fight crime? Why as a vigilante? Why the mask, the bat, and the underage partner? Why are his most intimate relationships with “bad girls” he ought to lock up? And why won’t he kill that homicidal, green-haired clown?

  • Gives you fresh insights into the complex inner world of Batman and Bruce Wayne and the life and characters of Gotham City
  • Explains psychological theory and concepts through the lens of one of the world’s most popular comic book characters
  • Written by a psychology professor and “Superherologist” (scholar of superheroes)

 

Haunted Collector Season 2 Interview: What Scares John Zaffis?

Posted By on June 6, 2012

Haunted Collector returns for its second season on Syfy with new team members joining paranormal investigator John Zaffis and his family as they search for objects that have become home to paranormal forces. Zaffis stores these purportedly haunted items in the Museum of the Paranormal which is, in his own words, “a barn on my property.” These items include obvious instruments of death – guns, knives, swords – along with seemingly mundane articles like a music box or broach. What kind of items seem to get haunted the most? “Dolls are the biggest culprit,” says Zaffis.

I spoke with John about his experiences and the upcoming season.

Travis Langley: I see that you’ve got new members joining your team. How do you select new members for a team like this?

John Zaffis: What we try to look for, Travis, is people that are very interested in the paranormal field. They’re interested in learning, in understanding the process of it, because it’s very important to go in and look for logical explanations; look for things that you can actually rule out. Working with Jason and Jesslyn was a very good opportunity  to tie in with working with me, working with my son and daughter, working with Brian, to get a better understanding of what that process will be on trying to help these families or help these locations determine what’s actually causing the activity. So I was very excited to be able to work with them and share information and look at their perspectives, and bring a lot of things to the table.

So…is this person interested in the paranormal? Why are they interested in the paranormal? And are they willing to comprehend and understand what we need to do to actually look for things that could possibly be paranormal?

Travis Langley: And how did you get into this area?

John Zaffis: When I was 16 years old, I had an experience. It was the middle of the week, a Wednesday evening, and at the foot of the bed we had like a 6-foot figure that actually appeared. It was transparent and it was shaking its head back and forth. I had gone downstairs and was explaining it to my mom, what I experienced, and my mom really wasn’t one to talk about the paranormal. She was petrified of it — a lot like my daughter.
I started thinking about it at that point and started digging into things and started researching things. We didn’t have the Internet, so the only thing I was able to do was actually get books and start meeting people. I was exposed to a lot of different things, and that’s what really got me into it. Then I started digging in even deeper. And the more I got into it, realizing that people have had paranormal experiences for thousands and thousands of years, and seeing and reading all of that really intrigued me even more.

And to this day, I’m still intrigued by a lot of the things that we don’t quite understand. And we’re trying to prove so many things out. We’re looking at it from a scientific perspective. And I hope before I turn into a ghost that we’re able to prove everything from a scientific method.

Travis Langley: As you accumulate these items, do you ever worry that your museum is a potentially dangerous place?

John Zaffis: Not really. And the reason I say it that way is because there’s a lot of bindings and different rituals and different prayers that are continuously done over the items, and there’s a lot of things that I do over these items, from a spiritual perspective, to bind that energy to them. I’m very guarded and very cautious with this. The building, the barn itself, was designed in a very unique way. As I was building it, there were a lot of things that were done from the foundation all the way up to the second level to actually seal the building.

I have a lot of spiritual friends — Native American shamans,  priests, ministers — that when they are here visiting, I will always ask them to protect things and bind different things. And there are items that are in the museum that I do feel that we were able to break some of the energy that was associated with them.

So again it’s a continuous thing, to protect the items, but the most important thing, to me, is if I can bring peace to a family. Bringing [the items] here to the paranormal museum and confining some of that energy, I hope, will bring peace to somebody out there and that family can move forward without having to worry.

Travis Langley: You’re working very hard to gather evidence scientifically. How do you respond to skeptics who just say you haven’t proven anything yet?

John Zaffis: Well, I agree. I can’t disagree with that. We’re gathering a tremendous amount of information out there with [electronic voice phenomena] and our video systems and hot and cold spots. We’re gaining all this information. We’re storing it. All of us are working out there doing it, but could we actually get repeatability? No. That’s what we’re striving for as far as a scientific method per se. Today I know a lot of engineers and scientists and different people that are intrigued with our field. Speaking with them, how they’re developing some of this equipment, I’m hoping somewhere down the road we’re going to be able to get repeatability… We are working from a spiritual realm and it’s very hard to get spirits to actually repeat something that they did. If we’re able to achieve that somewhere down the road, that’s going to be monumental in the paranormal field. So when somebody tells me that, that’s okay and I can understand that. But we’re striving for it. We’re working diligently at it from many different angles today.

Travis Langley: What kind of evidence seems most promising?

John Zaffis: I would actually say that today, when we’re looking at it, is we can get some repeatability from being able to pick up and register energy around an item with the EMF detectors and using your thermal imager. And when these things do occur and they do happen…you have [equipment including the REM-pod] able to record actual energy around something, to me that’s significant. And that’s one of the steps that in moving forward that is going to be beneficial in our field.

Travis Langley: What has been the hardest part of doing this work?

John Zaffis: My main concern is always trying to help a person to understand why they have paranormal activity; trying to be very guarded with training people and helping people to understand the paranormal, because it is a bizarre field. When … parents and their children are being affected by something, that’s a very difficult thing,  being a parent and trying to understand what they need to do to understand what they need to do, how they need to do it, because … we can’t touch these things. We can’t just open the front door and throw them out. So talking to people and getting them to understand why some of these things are occurring and why they’re happening is a very difficult part of the field.

Travis Langley: Do you have any particular role models that have inspired you in this field? Or not just this field — who are your heroes?

John Zaffis: Ed Warren, Lorraine Warren, Hans Holzer are probably the ones that were most prominent as I was learning and growing up in the field. Many of these people looked at things from different perspectives and shared their information in bringing it to the forefront in our field. I always tell people, gravitate towards us old people (because I’m one of them now) that  have a lot of knowledge.

There’s several people out there that I have a tremendous amount of respect for. They were the pioneers in our field, and they carried those scars of going through those times where people would continuously ridicule them and try to debunk everything that we’re trying to understand and share with people out there. It’s a difficult field, but I have several mentors out there that I have a tremendous amount of respect for and always will.

Three Weeks with Diablo III

Posted By on June 4, 2012

After more than ten years in development, Diablo III has finally arrived! Despite its rocky launch with first-night server difficulties, the game is a resounding success. Over six million copies sold in the first week alone, and now, three weeks after its release, we can look at the game as a whole, taking in both its shining moments of glory and rough-edged spots of filth.

The Good, the Bad, and the Diabolical

 

The Good

  • The skill runes modifier system allows greater customization of spells and abilities rather than forcing the players into using the same “cookie cutter” character types as everyone else.
  • The art style brings to mind a dark storybook, with backgrounds looking as if they’re ripped right from the pages of a grim fairy tale.
  • Diablo III has a bevy of characters to interact with, really fleshing out the world.
  • Random events keep each play-through feeling fresh and different.
  • The five character classes are thematically disparate and play very differently from one another.
  • The easy, fluid social integration lets you connect with friends without having to worry about accidentally bombarding your Facebook or Twitter with posts.
  • The physics engine is visceral and satisfying. Few things feel better than hitting a zombie so hard you blast the meat from its bones and send its bloody skeleton flying.
  • Blisteringly fast load times.

 

The Bad

  • Some story threads do not resolve satisfactorily.
  • The auction house has spent more time disabled for system repairs than it has working properly.
  • To combat cheaters, Diablo III is online only.
  • Players who have reached some of the game’s late stages complain that the treasure distribution feels lacking.
  • Some models of MACs will suffer bizarre graphics issues, forcing players into a half-frame slow motion regardless of the graphical power of the computer. Thus far the only fix for these few players is that they have to run Windows Boot Camp, where it runs well.

The Diabolical

  • The worst thing about Diablo III is that you eventually have to exit out of it to get something else accomplished.

(source)

Overall, between its gameplay and sales success, Diablo III is an overwhelming triumph. It may not be the Diablo II we all remember, but hey, if you want to play Diablo II again, it’s still there. But Diablo III is a new beast entirely, one that keeps beckoning to you long after you’ve logged out.

Who Are Your Heroes?

Posted By on June 1, 2012

Batman star Adam West discusses role models. Photo by Alex Langley.

Who are your heroes?

I’ve asked many people this question. Some name fictional characters. Others pick family members, celebrities, colleagues, historical figures.

Lou Ferrigno, the Hulk himself, grew up as a hearing-impaired boy dreaming of Spider-Man and the Incredible Hulk. Hercules star Kevin Sorbo told me his heroes were his “parents, Abe Lincoln, and Marilyn Monroe,” although he then made sure I knew he was kidding about that last one. Billy Dee Williams (The Empire Strikes Back’s Lando Calrissian) named his mother, his grandmother, “my sister and then my children and now my grandchildren. There’s an awful lot of people I’ve admired throughout the years, and I’ve had the opportunity of working with the most extraordinary people.” 1960s Batman star Adam West worries about what kind of heroes kids have these days. Who are their role models in this cynical age?

Actors who’ve played heroes aren’t the only ones I ask. I’ve posed this question to their fans, my students, comics scholars, online acquaintances, and other people from many walks of life. Prison inmates my students and I surveyed held Batman in high regard, which seemed ironic. He is a crimefighter, after all. I want to ask living heroes themselves, but where do I find them? How do I discuss heroism with them when the individuals many of us consider to be true heroes tend not to know they are? “We’re not heroes,” retired New York police officer Mike Bruen said of himself and his fellow emergency service providers, people doing their jobs, when he joined me and some colleagues on a New York Comic Con panel. To him, an old woman who came to her door wielding a frying pan, ready to stand up to a local drug dealer, “now she’s the real hero.” Who’s her hero, I wonder?

I’m going to explore this for a while. If you keep coming here, you can watch – but let’s start with that question: Who are your heroes?

And why?