Culture

Sun
05
Jun

New Line Theatre's ATOMIC Is The Bomb!

Jeffrey M. Wright and Zachary Allen Farmer in New Line Theatre's ATOMIC. Photo Credit Jill Ritter Lindberg

When I saw the lineup for the 25th Anniversary season of New Line Theatre, I immediately noted ATOMIC as the one that interested me the most. Why, you ask? I knew HEATHERS from the 1988 film, I knew AMERICAN IDIOT from Green Day’s music, and I knew TELL ME ON A SUNDAY from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s pedigree. ATOMIC I knew nothing about. Heck, this is only the fourth time anyone has ever staged this show, and the first in the Midwest. I assumed it would have something to do with bombs—maybe a rock opera about the Reagan years, or perhaps a declaration against nuclear power in favor of safer, greener, renewable forms of energy? As it turned out, it was a biography of one of the lost names of the Manhattan Project, presented as a moving and tense rock musical from Danny Ginges (book and lyrics), Philip Foxman (music and lyrics) and Andy Peterson (orchestrations).

Tue
31
May

Science Fiction: Women Readers are Coming Out

Casimir Bridge female lead protagonist SF

By Darren Beyer

Science fiction has been a traditionally male dominated genre—at least that’s what I’ve been led to believe over the years. One had to look no farther than the closest science fiction and fantasy convention to see a crowd dominated by males. Look to the shelves of your local Barnes & Noble or the top science fiction lists on Amazon to see stories with male protagonists catering to male readers. That’s why, when talking to my doctor, a woman doctor, about my newly released book, I was surprised about how the conversation went.

“You published a book? I’d love to read it.”

“I don’t know if you’d be interested,” I said. “It’s science fiction.”

“I love science fiction. In fact, I’m part of a women’s book club and we all love science fiction.”

Wait. What?

Thu
19
May

Geek Culture and Cosplay invade the Iron Room for an epic Comic Con party!

ACBC Iron Room Cosplay Contest

On Saturday, May 14, Geek Time Entertainment, Critical Blast and The Iron Room presented the First Annual Costume Party in Atlantic City!  The party served as a thrilling capstone for the day's events at ACBC Con.  Seriously, is there anything better than a cool party after an exhilarating day on the convention floor?

The winners always go home with an extra special smile, but just about everyone in attendance seemed to have a great time.  Here is a rundown of the winners:

Wed
18
May

Best of 2015 Awards

Critical Blast Best 2015 Awards

It's that time of year again -- time to take stock of last year's entertainment offerings and decide which was the best of the best (of the best, sir!) (Okay, who let Captain America in here?)

Last year Critical Blast let its readers choose the best among Movies, Television Shows, and Actors in each. This year, we've doubled our categories to include Novels and Comics (selecting the best Writer, Artist and Storyline) for the year.

We put forth nominees in each category (after much careful discussion, a few beers, and one chipped tooth), and presented those to you, our readers -- making sure we also let the readers nominate a write-in candidate that our staff, in its infinitessimal wisdom, might have overlooked.

Thu
05
May

ACBC Coverage: Get your Cosplay on at the First Annual Costume Party Saturday night May 14th

On Saturday, May 14 from 9 PM - Midnight, Critical Blast and Iron Room will present the First Annual Post-Con Costume Party in Atlantic City!  So, enjoy the day at ACBC then head over to the Iron Room!  

First off, let's talk money.  And we're talking a lot of money.  There are $1,100 in total cash prizes!  The event kicks off at 9 but judging begins at 10pm in a wide variety of categories.  

Want a breakdown, well check this out:

Wed
04
May

Ranking the Star Wars Movies: Worst to First

In a 'worst to first' ranking, I give unto you, the Star Wars movies ranked with nothing to quantify it other than my personal preference.

Episode I: The Phantom Menace - With a child actor who delivers dialogue as bland as the plot and an amphibious alien whose attempts at comedy relief are more distracting than anything else, The Phantom Menace is clearly the weakest of the franchise. Even the fast-paced intensity of the duel between Obi-Wan, Qui-Gon and Darth Maul can't save this movie from being the worst of the bunch.
When they retconned the force into bacteria, the magic was destroyed.

Tue
03
May

ATLANTIC CITY BOARDWALK CON (ACBC) returns for year two! Are you ready to get your con on?

ACBC Atlantic City Boardwalk Con 2016

I've regularly attended comic and sci-fi conventions, or whatever you want to call them these days, since the '80s.  Let me tell you, the experience has changed quite a bit in those decades.  In the past, cons were mostly a place to shop for merchandise, dress in costume, meet like-minded people, or schmooze comic creators.  Today, it's more about celebrity signings, video games, or movie and television panels.  Geeks have seemingly overwhelmed the Earth and every niche wants in on the con action.  Including more than comics and sci-fi means larger attendance for the shows, which is great in many ways.  Unfortunately, it also caused overcrowded convention floors, admission costs have skyrocketed, and worst of all, it's increasingly difficult to get tickets for huge shows like San Diego Comic Con or New York Comic Con.

Wed
09
Mar

NOISES OFF Turns The Laughter On In O'Fallon

Mike McPartland, Anthony Wininger, Cassie Elam and Bill Blanke in NOISES OFF thru Mar 13, 2016. Photo Credit: John Davidson

I’m a bit of a comedy snob. I can’t stand stupid comedy: low brow, “Whoa, Dude, I’m like, whatever!” fare is completely lost on me. I appreciate a more subtle hand in humor, a sly wit, a surprising turn of phrase. The British to be particularly adept at that brand of comedy, so it was much to my delight that I watched NOISES OFF, a stage comedy written by celebrated English playwright Michael Frayn and directed by Melissa Boyer for the O’FallonTheatreWorks. My only dismay is that it took me so long to discover this hilarious play.

Sun
06
Mar

New Line Theatre's AMERICAN IDIOT Is A Sly But Powerful Wake Up Call

New Line Theatre's production of AMERICAN IDIOT, Mar 3 - 26, 2016. Photo Credit: Jill Ritter Lindberg

The New Line Theatre kicked off their second production in their swanky new digs in the Marcelle Theatre with AMERICAN IDIOT, a mostly sung through musical written by Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong and Michael Mayer, featuring the entire American Idiot album with a few numbers from 21st Century Breakdown included too. Obviously, if you’re a Green Day fan you’ll probably love the show. Me, I’m not a huge fan. I don’t necessarily dislike the band; I just don’t typically listen to them. Immediately after the performance, my first reaction was, “Nice performed by some great talents, but I don’t have much sympathy for these presumably upper-middle class suburbanites being self-destructive by cooking their heroin and meth on the silver spoons they were born with.” And yet something deep in my guts said, “Sleep on this one.

Fri
26
Feb

BEAUTIFUL: THE CAROLE KING MUSICAL Is A Toe-Tapping Celebration Of An Underappreciated Artist

BEAUTIFUL at the Fox Theatre, St. Louis. PHOTO CREDIT: Joan Marcus

I’ll admit it—I’m embarrassed. What I knew about Carole King before arriving at the Fabulous Fox to see BEAUTIFUL: THE CAROLE KING MUSICAL consisted mostly of the soft rock easy listening stuff I used to get subjected to when my coworkers would insist on tuning our radio to the “Delilah” show on KEZK in St. Louis. I knew she won a Grammy forTapestry and you can hear “It’s Too Late,” “I Feel The Earth Move,” and “A Natural Woman” pretty regularly still today. I knew she was elected into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, but they let Green Day and The Public Enemy in too--Run DMC and Public Enemy got in before Peter Gabriel, Rush (are you kidding me?), Lou Reed, Hall & Oats, Nirvana and KISS. Don’t get me wrong—I enjoy rap music a great deal, but this isn’t the Hip Hop Hall of Fame, this is Rock & Roll. Carole King, no disrespect intended, didn’t really strike me as a rock star either.

Thu
28
Jan

Why Hasn't 'The Force' Awakened Disney's Stock Price?

Disney Force Stocks

Posted on January 27, 2016 by Zac Cherin

After buying Lucasfilm for $4 billion in 2012, The Walt Disney Company had to wait three years for its investment to begin paying tangible dividends. If, however, the initial box-office performance of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is a sign of things to come, then the wait was well worth it.

The seventh installment in the Star Wars film saga shattered the U.S. total box office record, passing the $760.5 million mark set by James Cameron’s blockbuster “Avatar” in 2009.

Wed
06
Jan

"New Year, New Me" Superhero Edition (Infographic)

With the new year upon us, the "New Year, New Me" Facebook posts are in full swing! The folks over at Morphsuits have come up with a clever infographic to see what superheroes are coming up with for their resolutions.

 

My personal favorites are the goals set by Cyclops and Batman. To view the infographic, click on the image to open it and enjoy the light-hearted take on some super self-relfection.

Add a clever resolution, for a hero you think needs some self-improvement, in the comment section below!

Wed
18
Nov

IRVING BERLIN's WHITE CHRISTMAS Gets The Holidays Started In Style

Photo by Kevin White

IRVING BERLIN’S WHITE CHRISTMAS is gracing the stage at the Fabulous Fox Theatre from November 17-22, 2015, just in time for…Thanksgiving. You can blame WICKED’s December residency for that, but that’s fine, really. The retail stores rolled out their Christmas gear before Halloween, so chances are you’ve already been dreaming of a white Christmas. And why wouldn’t you? After all, Bing Crosby’s rendition of the Irving Berlin classic is the best selling single of all time, according to the good folks at Guinness Book. Chances are you’ve seen the old movie or witness the production on previous tours, but believe it or not, I’ve never seen it before tonight.

Mon
26
Oct

STAR WARS ON TRIAL--The Blog Tour Charges Star Wars with Dumbing Down Science Fiction

CriticalBlast.com prosecutes the charge of STAR WARS dumbing down science fiction with the STAR WARS ON TRIAL BLOG TOUR

The charge is "STAR WARS has dumbed down the perception of science fiction in the popular imagination." Jeff Ritter of CriticalBlast.com represents the Prosecution. 

The very notion of STAR WARS being somehow responsible for “dumbing down” modern science fiction seems preposterous. Of course, the notion is not entirely objective—how does one quantify merit or mediocrity in art, which by its very nature is subjective? How does one quantify the tangible effect of a film from 1977, that wasn’t expected to do much business itself, has had on movies, television, video games, novels, graphic  arts, American and even global pop culture more than 30 years later? I’m sure somebody with a better mind for statistical analysis could find numbers to crunch in this regard, but I find it to be less of a matter of arithmetic and more of a matter of personal taste. Since I can only speak for myself, allow me to take you on a little flashback to the halcyon days of my youth.

Thu
22
Oct

Screams.com Reveals Top Haunts of 2015

Screams.com Top Haunted Houses

FORT WORTH, Texas – Oct. 20, 2015 – Screams.com has unveiled its 2015 list of the Top 13 Haunted Houses in America. Advanced pyrotechnics, trained actors and superior use of technology highlight the attractions, which stretch from New Hampshire to as far west west as Arizona.

“This list represents haunts that have been extensively honored by their peers and the haunted attraction industry,” said Todd James, owner of the Cutting Edge Haunted House in Texas and industry veteran. “A lot of thought and research went into creating this list, which we hope will serve as a guide to haunted house lovers across the country.”

James notes that consumers are expected to spend about $7 billion this Halloween.

Sun
06
Sep

The Unintentional Futurist: Warren Murphy (1933-2015)

Warren Murphy Remo Williams The Destroyer Chiun obituary R.J. Carter Critical Blast

The machine-gun patter of clicks was interrupted rhythmically by the ding and zip of the manual carriage return, advancing the page another line and preparing for another string of text. The room was close, cloying with the June humidity of 1963. In a corner, the radio provided background noise with the help of The Chiffons. Over the writer's shoulder, his friend and partner leaned in, peering at the latest completed paragraph before grunting editorial approval. The writer continued at a feverish pace -- a few more strings of machine-gun clacking, a few more dings and zips, and he grabbed the top of the sheet, pulling it free with a whine of protest from the typewriter roller.

Sun
06
Sep

Rob Thomas with Plain White T's and Vinyl Station Rocks The Peabody

Rob Thomas on "The Great Unknown Tour" at The Peabody in St. Louis 9/4/2015. Photo Credit: Jeff Ritter

The old adage “good things come to those who wait” was proven true once again on September 4, 2015 as Rob Thomas finally arrived in St. Louis. He had to cancel is tour stop earlier in the summer due to an illness in the family, which is more than understandable. As an apology of sorts for the hassle of having to make folks reschedule their plans, Thomas and his supporting acts, Plain White T’s and Vinyl Station, really cut loose with fun-filled, more-than-your-money’s-worth performance.  Apology happily accepted, Mr. Thomas.

Mon
31
Aug

Wesley Earl Craven, Horror Icon: 1939-2015

Wesley Earl Craven 1939 2015 obituary Critical Blast

Sometimes people make a profound impact in our lives without having ever met them. They affect our earliest memories and influence our actions years, even DECADES, later. I write today to memorialize one of the men that were most influential in my life. One of the men who caused me to lose sleep, and affects my actions to this day, 25 years after we first met.

Mon
31
Aug

Critical Breakfast: Iron Maiden, Mark Millar and a Contest!

It’s a new week, which should have some exciting new stories dropping in your timelines. But with busy schedules and Labor Day on the horizon, it’s possible you missed something from last week. Let’s take a look at some of the news, opinions and reviews that you may have missed. Grab your morning coffee and enjoy your…

Wed
19
Aug

Gone: Yvonne Craig (1937 - 2015)

Yvonne Craig Batgirl RIP 1937 2015

I'm a lifelong fan of comics, and of the actors who portrayed the characters in them. However, there are only a very few who had a pivotal impact on my life, those being the ones I encountered at my youngest, most formative years.

Actress and dancer Yvonne Craig was chief among those, one of those people who had always been there and, in my unthinking naivete, I presumed always would be.

Today, I have learned that Ms. Craig has passed away on August 17 at the forever young age of 78, after battling breast cancer.

While Craig will be eternally remembered for her portrayal of Batgirl in the iconic 1960s BATMAN television series, starring alongside Adam West and Burt Ward, fans will also recall her stunning portrayal of the green-skinned dancer, Marta, on STAR TREK. She also acted opposite of Elvis Presley in the 1964 musical, KISSIN' COUSINS.

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