Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Recommended Summer Reading: The Montauk Monster

If JAWS made you think twice about going in the water, The Montauk Monster will make you skip the entire trip to the beach.

This is one of Hunter Shea's best novels, if not his best to date. This book is not just a fantastic summer read, it's a ton of fun and non-stop action thriller from cover to cover.

You ever see pictures of those strange animal carcasses that occasionally wash up on the beach, and no one can identify what they are? They seem to be hideous conglomerations of several animals. Well, Shea takes this real life phenomena and spins a hell of a tale with it. One that involves ravenous creatures, deadly pathogens, conspiracies and tons of bullets and blood.

One of Shea's trademarks is the crazy, "all hell's breaking loose" kind of finales to his stories. This book is no exception... AND HOW! The story takes very little time to get cooking and never let's up once it gets going.

I really enjoyed this one. Go get it.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

24 Live Another Day: Ep 12. – 10 pm to 11 am

Samurai Jack

Let's call it a day.
Tonight may have been the last episode of the season for 24, but it was also a first for the show. For the first time ever, there was a time jump, skipping from 10:46 at night to 10:50 in the morning. I gotta be honest with you, I think the 12 episode format worked pretty well. Having fewer episodes meant there was much less filler and a much tighter storyline than the last couple of seasons. Let’s get to it.

Tonight we pick up right where we left off, with Audrey on the park bench, in the sights of Cheng’s sniper. Everyone else is dead, except her Chinese friend Cheryl, who is hurt badly. But when Audrey goes to help her, Cheryl gets the “double tap” from the sniper to be sure she’s dead. Obviously the shooter has seen Zombieland. (See below.)

Jack finds a hidden cell phone at the residence of the dead Russian and uses his fingerprint to unlock the phone. This tells him two things; where Chang is going and also that Audrey is in trouble. (Jack should have taken this opportunity to post some humorous things on the Russian’s Facebook page while he was logged in under his profile, like “I’m a big poopie-head and Jack Bauer is the coolest.”)

Jack decides it’s best if he goes after Cheng and Sexy Agent Morgan go save Audrey. At one point Mark Boudreau chastises Jack for not going after Audrey himself, especially since it’s obvious he loves her. To this Jack simply says “Shut up.” If this show was on HBO, I think there would have been an F Bomb dropped right there.

So Sexy Agent Morgan heads for Audrey, while Jack heads for Cheng at the docks and the Chinese warships head for the US bases in Japan. President Heller warns the Chinese President that if his ships cross the 12-mile line, he’ll be forced to fight. The Chinese Prez does not care. Unless Heller can produce proof of Cheng’s existence, along with the device, the Chinese will retaliate for their sunken carrier. This goes on for the rest of the episode.

On his way to the docks, Jack gets a call from Chloe, who has emerged from the woods and is picked up by a nice couple passing by. Jack does not trust Chloe since she was working with Cross, but Chloe assures him that Cross had deceived her and that she did everything she could to get the device from Cross. She also points out that she’s just about Jack’s only friend. That’s good enough for Jack and he picks her up. (Jack thinks Chloe looks pretty banged up, but he’s not sure if she has a black eye or if that’s just part of her whole goth thing.)

We add Belcheck to the team and we’ve got the whole band back together and they are ready to rock Cheng’s world. 

Meanwhile, Sexy Agent Morgan and her team sneak up to Audrey’s location and establish communication with her. They ask her to make a sudden move, betting that the sniper really doesn’t want to kill her. This seems like an enormous risk, and one that could have been avoided with the simple use of night vision scopes. But it works. The sniper makes a warning shot and gives away his position. Now the team just has to get him before he spots them.

Back at the docks, Chloe sees a DirecTV dish and with it is able to hack into everything in the area. She helps Jack and Belcheck navigate onto Cheng’s boat and tells them where to go and where to shoot. It’s like she’s playing the 24 video game on Nintendo. And with her help, Jack and Belcheck take out a ton of bad guys. But just when Chloe thinks she may get high score on the 24 game, Cheng’s men detect her hack. They are on to them! Chloe calls Sexy Agent Morgan and tells her to get Audrey out now, before Cheng can call the sniper and give the kill order.

The Fates of the Spinal Tap Drummers
Agent Morgan instructs Audrey to get the hell out of the way and they take out the sniper just as he’s about the take the shot. Then Kate lets Jack know they are all clear to move on Cheng. But shortly after that, more of Cheng’s men pull up and open fire on them. Sexy Agent Morgan returns fire and scares them off, but Audrey has been hit. She goes down and Sexy Agent Morgan tries to stabilize her, but it's no use. Another woman that Jack Bauer loves is gone. Being Jack Bauer’s love interest is the only job more deadly than being a drummer for Spinal Tap.

Farewell, Pretty Lady.
So we get one of the key ingredients for a 24 finale; the death of a major character. We go to commercial with the silent clock, as is the 24 tradition when there is a major death on the show. But when we come back, and Jack gets the news from Sexy Agent Morgan, we get something else that we love in a 24 finale- Angry Jack Bauer… and OH MAN, is he pissed. After almost breaking down into tears, Jack sucks in his anger and hate and goes berserk. It’s awesome. He screams, he shoots, he throws knives and he kicks everyone’s ass between him and Cheng.

Nice moves, Bauer.
Then he and Cheng battle it out and Cheng almost extinguishes Jack’s rage with a fire extinguisher, but not quite. After a short fight, Jack beats Cheng into submission and then Skypes the President so they can confirm Cheng’s identity with facial and vocal recognition software. Once that’s done, Jack chops off Cheng’s head with a freaking Samurai sword. Somewhere, Michonne from The Walking Dead is smiling.

So the crisis is averted, but Heller is so upset when he learns of Audrey’s fate that he collapses. Meanwhile, Jack goes to find Chloe, but she is not at her post. All he finds is some blood. Then he gets a mysterious call and agrees to a meeting. (Looks like Jack has to play "Find Goth Chloe" for real!)

That’s when the time jump happens.

Hey Cheng!
The next morning, Sexy Agent Morgan hands in her final report to Ritter and leaves her gun and badge on the table as she leaves the CIA. Probably for a modeling career that will pay her a ton more money and is a hell of a lot less dangerous.

Heller escorts Audrey’s casket onto Air Force One and tells the Prime Minister a story about how he is starting to lose his mind and soon enough he won’t even remember this pain or that he even had a daughter. It’s just about the most depressing thing I’ve ever heard.

Mark Boudreau is on his way back to the USA as well, but in handcuffs. Not a great day for this guy, huh?

Finally, we see Jack pull up to a remote location outside of London, where a helicopter has just landed. Snipers cover his every move. It’s the Russians. They’ve got Chloe and Jack is going to trade his freedom for hers. As they pass each other, Jack thanks her and confirms that she is in fact, his best friend. He boards the chopper, heading for certain torture and doom, but he’s smiling, because Chloe is safe.

Besides, what’s a little imprisonment and torture to Jack Bauer? 
It’s just another day.

Let’s close with a final round of FIND GOTH CHLOE. You know how it works. See if you can find our favorite black-eyed goth gal among these other photos. Good luck. 
Can you find Goth Chloe?

So that's it. Thanks for joining me each week. I hope you got a kick out of these recaps. Let me know your thoughts and feedback below and watch this blog for other stuff I write and do, like my Monster Men video podcast. And you can follow me on Twitter at @BackinJack.

And I’ll see you for the next season of 24… if there is one. 

The Double Tap

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

24 Live Another Day: Ep 11. – 9 pm to 10 pm

From Russia with Love

“It’s better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all.”

You know that saying? I wonder what Jack Bauer thinks of it. After all, he loses just about everything he loves. So I wonder, does he sometimes wish he had never loved and spared himself the pain? Or at the least, does he regret coming out of hiding this morning?

This week’s episode of 24 certainly does not paint an optimistic picture for Jack’s future happiness. Audrey, the woman he loves, is married to another man; the man who betrayed him to the Russians. Also, Cheng, the man who tortured both he and Audrey, and was long thought dead, is back and is about to start World War Three. But first, he may just kill Audrey.

This week started off with the Chinese carrier in flames, while Sexy Agent Morgan and Jack continue to shoot it out with the Russians. Heller ends up Skyping with the Chinese President, trying to explain that the attack on the ship was due to an attack by a dead man with a magical device that can penetrate any defense system. The Chinese President isn’t buying it. That seems absurd. I guess he’s never watched 24 before, because this kind of stuff happens all the time. Remember the year that Edgar died? (God rest his soul. Let’s drink a social for Edgar.) That year there was a device that could control every nuclear reactor. (Pronounced New-Clee-Yur if you work for the US military on this show.)

So the Heller has to provide proof of Cheng’s existence in order to prevent the Chinese from striking the US base in Okinawa. But he’d better hurry. The Chinese jets are in the air and get closer and closer with every commercial break.

What's hotter? Flaming propane tanks or me?
Back at the shootout, Sexy Agent Morgan and Jack are running low on ammo, but luckily the Russians take a position near a bunch of propane tanks. Sexy Agent Morgan shows that she’s not just a pretty face when she instructs Jack to shoot the tanks. BOOM! The tanks blow up, the Russians are on fire and CIA back-up units show up to subdue the rest of the bad guys. They reload and follow Jack’s tracker to the location where the magic override device, and Chloe, should be.

But Cheng leaves the scene with Chloe and the device in tow. Chloe tries to pull a fast one and sneak a cell phone into her goth glove, but Cheng always seems to know her moves. But in the truck, on their way to the docks, Chloe pulls a move that Cheng does not see coming. She grabs a pipe and goes medieval on Cheng’s ass… along with his goons. Then she leaps out of the speeding truck and tumbles through the woods like Wesley and Buttercup in Princess Bride. Even though it does not seem to be a slope.

Roll with it, baby.
Cheng’s men search for her, but they take-off after a brush with a British military patrol. Chloe lies unconscious in the woods. At this point I am hoping she is rescued by a group of seven dwarves.

We also learn that Cheng is in cahoots with Stolnavich, the sinister Russian that Mark Boudreau has been dealing with. But thanks to Ritter and the CIA computer nerd, Jack also figures out that Boudreau was the one that lead the Russians to him. Jack gets back to the residence and pulls a gun on Boudreau, while he explains to Heller what happened. Boudreau confesses and says he did it for Heller and the good of the United States. Heller’s not buying it and wants him arrested for treason, but Jack has a better idea. They can use him to track down Stolnavich and hopefully that leads them to Cheng. You see, Boudreau knows where the Russian lives.

So they outfit Boudreau with an ear piece and a webcam lapel pin and send him to the front gate to attempt to gain entry and to give the CIA hacker a look at the security system. I guess they never saw Zero Dark Thirty, because I think they could have just as easily sent a Seal team in there… but where’s the fun in that? Besides, Jack Bauer is a human Seal team.

Boudreau offers to sell secrets to the Russians if they give him asylum, so Stolnavich lets him in. This also enables the CIA to hack the security system and they can scope out the guard situation. Then Jack and Sexy Agent Morgan storm the residence while Boudreau and Stolnavich wrestle through some glass doors. Naturally, the Russian gets a shard of glass in his neck and dies without disclosing the whereabouts of Cheng.  DAMMIT!

Meanwhile, Audrey meets up with an old friend from the Chinese embassy and asks her to get some evidence of Cheng and the device to the Chinese President before the missiles start to fly. Her friend agrees, but of course, they decided to meet outside instead of in a Starbucks or a pub… so a sniper picks off the Chinese woman. Then all of Audrey’s secret service detail are taken out. It’s Cheng… who else? Now he’s got Audrey in his sites.

- Will Wesley, I mean Jack, come for his true love?
- Is Chloe "All Dead" or “Mostly dead"? And is she far from Miracle Max’s house?
- Will Heller make it through his last day in office?
- Will Indigo Montoya find the six-fingered man?
- Will Jack find Cheng?

Tune in next week. It’s the season finale!

Let’s close with another round of FIND GOTH CHLOE. You know how it works. See if you can find our favorite goth hacker among these other photos. Good luck. 

Can you find Goth Chloe?

As usual, your feedback and comments are welcome. And you can find me on Twitter at @BackinJack.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Vampires, Zombies and the Jokers Wild! Horror Movie and Comic Book Picks

A new Monster Men is up. This time we review three movies you can watch either on Netflix or VOD. AFFLICTED, for the vampire fans, CONTRACTED for the zombie crowd and NURSE 3D for the... um, sexy, homicidal nurse enthusiasts out there.

Then we review a Batman comic book that will please both horror fans and super hero fans. DEATH OF THE FAMILY features a Joker like you have never seen before. Scarier and more threatening than you've ever seen before.

Enjoy the show and don't forget to let us know what you think. Join the conversation on the Monster Men Facebook page.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

24 Live Another Day: Ep 10. – 8 pm to 9 pm

Damn the Torpedoes

They didn't "train" me for this.
They may have trimmed down 24 to 12 episodes this year, but I think they packed about four shows worth into tonight’s installment. Holy cow, a lot happened. Let’s get started.

We start with Jack informing Sexy Agent Morgan about Navarro’s treachery. Meanwhile, Navarro is on the Dr. Claw phone, arranging a rendezvous with Adrian Cross at Liverpool Street station so he can trade the Override Device for assistance with his escape from London. Chloe quickly finds out that Cross is planning to get the device back so he can hatch a zany plot to hack into several countries military defenses and somehow make war obsolete. (Huh?)

Jack picks up Navarro’s trail and they exchange gunfire in the streets. Navarro, that heartless bastard, shoots some kegs of beer that Jack hides behind and before you know it, the streets are running gold with spilled lager. In a day filled with drone strikes and shootouts, this may be the worst casualty of them all. What a waste.

Cross gets Navarro to drop the device through a chute and takes possession of it. But then Cross double-crosses Navarro, and crosses the station towards the trains, while Jack closes in on Navarro. The double-cross makes Navarro very cross, but then when he tries to cross the street to escape, he is almost struck by a car and then is captured. He should have used the crosswalk. Thus Navarro learns that he should never cross wits with Jack Bauer. I guess that’s his cross to bear.

Did I get my point across in that last paragraph?

Don't hurt him, Jack.
So they take Navarro back to the CIA where they can get his shirt off and prepare him for integration… or possibly a Chippendale’s show.  Sexy Agent Morgan realizes that Navarro had actually framed her husband, who was sent to prison for life for selling secrets to the Chinese. He later took his own life, so you can imagine Kate’s a little pissed off at him. Ritter, who’s now in charge, has to have her separated from Navarro so she won't hurt him. But he will let Jack get near him in order to interrogate him. It’s funny, the Special Activities division clearly uses torture and other extreme measures to get information out of people, but instead of sending him down there they let Jack have at him, as long as he promises not to hurt Navarro. That’s like asking your dog not to eat a hamburger that you left on the floor while you run out to do some errands. 

Jack is not in there for five minutes before he has resorted to bashing Navarro’s hand to get him to talk. He obviously learned his interrogation technique from Batman in The Dark Knight, who tried a similar thing with the Joker. (See below.) But Navarro insists that he’ll only help them find Cross if he gets full immunity.

Stick 'em up, Navarro.
Heller and Boudreau start to have the paperwork drawn up, but the Sexy Agent Morgan storms into Navarro’s holding cell, overpowers the guards and threatens to shoot him in the head. Jack rushes in and tries to talk her down but she wants blood. In a panic, Navarro reveals the code to a tracking device he happened to attach to the device… but the jokes on him, because Jack and Kate planned this little stunt and tricked him into talking. So no immunity for Navarro and now they can track Cross.

Meanwhile, Chloe tries to steal the device from Cross but he catches her and they head for the Geek Squad headquarters, where the nerds are preparing some computer stuff for the device.

Back at the residence, Boudreau speaks to the shady Russian guy and gives him a way to locate Jack via his comm link. This way they can capture Jack and no one will ever know about his forgery. Boudreau is very down on Jack right now anyway and even calls out Audrey for her unresolved feelings for him. But can you blame her? A woman resisting Jack Bauer’s charm is like a dog resisting the urge to eat a hamburger that you left unguarded on the floor.  

So Cross and Chloe arrive at the Geek Squad hideout, but all the geeks are dead. It’s like Regula One, the space station in Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan, where Kirk and McCoy find most of the crew slaughtered by Khan, who is relentlessly pursuing the Genesis Device. But in this case, instead of finding Khan, Cross and Chloe are captured by CHANG.

Who the hell is Chang, you ask? His full name is PF Chang. He’s a Chinese operative. Years ago he captured and tortured Jack and then Audrey. He later went on to open a successful chain of Chinese restaurants with tasty food at a decent price and a fun atmosphere. But now he is relentlessly pursuing the Override Device.

He takes the device from Cross and tells them that he needs them to unlock it for him. Chloe refuses until Chang shoots Cross in the leg. Chloe agrees to decode it but attempts infect the device with a virus by clicking a link in a questionable email that she received about male enhancement. But Chang has read her playbook and has one of his guys watching her on a mirrored computer. So once she has unlocked the device, he pulls her off the laptop.

Cross, who knows his time is up, confesses to Chloe that Morris and Prescott where actually killed in an accident and that he lied to her in order to get her to help him. So she has been goth all this time under false pretenses. But she does not have much time to be mad at him because Chang shoots him in the head. So cross him off the list.

Meanwhile, Jack and Sexy Agent Morgan drive towards Chloe’s location while they trade stories of lost love, pain, death, revenge and perseverance. But their chat is interrupted when a truck full of angry Russians rams into them. Yet another shoot out breaks out and the Russians don’t stand a chance against Jack and Jill.

Back at the Geek Squad, Chang uses the device to hack into the USS Massachusetts, a nuclear submarine that loves the Sox and the Pats and is a lousy driver. (Note: In Mass they call it a sub, but in other parts of the country they call it a hero or a hoagie.)

Having seen Crimson Tide, Chang knows how to fake a launch code and he tricks the sub into shooting some torpedoes at a nearby Chinese carrier.

G-4! Hit! You sank my battleship! (Or carrier, in this case.) BOOM!

Has Chang just started World War Three?
What will go first? Heller’s mind or the western hemisphere?
Will Jack end up in the Jack Sack with Audrey before the day is done?
Will the dog eat the hamburger?

Tune in next week to find out.

 We close with yet another round of FIND GOTH CHLOE. Can you find our favorite blacked-eyed  computer hacker? 

Find Goth Chloe

Thoughts, comments, feedback? Leave a comment below. Or hit me up on Twitter at @backinjack. 

NEXT DAY NOTE: I just checked and Chang is actually spelled Cheng. Oh well. I write this thing in the middle of the night after the show. Who's got time for fact checking?