Friday, November 17, 2017

This year's CW crossover is the superheroes from good Earth battling a whole Nazi universe.

I've talked about Crisis on the Infinite Earths a couple of times now. Once in 2015, it was because of the introduction of Iris's then secret brother, Wally West. And then back in 2012 I did a post celebrating how much I loved the artist George Perez, who did a lot of the artwork for Crisis on the Infinite Earths. And then there's this post I did on the Flash Pilot back in 2014. But, as much as I'd love a Crisis on Infinite Earths to explode in the DC universe across the CW's many DC franchises, what we're getting is different, but probably still very cool. Essentially, Barry and Iris's long awaited wedding pulls together all of their various friends from every universe that's been introduced and it also is crashed by evil Nazi versions of Supergirl, Arrow, and the Flash from Earth-X (because on Earth-X, the Nazi's won).

I just want to get this out of the way: Supergirl's outfit looks f'ing awesome. If Melissa Benoit can pull off wearing that much black, it will be epic.

Various Musings:

1) Maybe in the universe of Earth-X, Donald Trump is an egalitarian feminist anarchist fighting the system.

2) One of the highlights of Legends of Tomorrow was Brandon Routh who infiltrated a Nazi party and was physically unable to do a "heil Hitler" salute out of disgust and ultimately punched a Nazi general. They need to top that.

3) The CW poster is an homage to the following comic book covers that appeared over the years in Justice League of America:
4) There is no end in sight for the "Barry Allen's" that the CW can come up with. So far we have: Normal Barry, Evil Barry, Emo Barry, and Nerd Barry.

5) Grant Gustin Barry should meet/see Ezra Miller Barry (from the movies) in the Speed Force and high five each other.

6) The evil version of Oliver Queen should just be "Ollie" with hair dyed black and no discernable personality differences.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Is Amazon going to adapt the Silmarillion for television?

The City of Gondolin, which is in The Silmarillion. Could we see this in the Amazon series?
When The Hobbit movies started getting made by Peter Jackson, I was initially excited. Looking back on them, they aren't ones that I take the time to rewatch at all, whereas the Lord of the Rings movies are ones I do rewatch whenever I catch them on television (usually TBS). Still, I was disappointed when the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien said they were mad at New Line Cinema for their treatment of The Lord of the Rings films, and that they (let's be honest that we're talking Christopher Tolkien when I say "they") were never going to allow Jackson to get near the Silmarillion, which has a wealth of great stories in it, many of them potentially better than the actual War of the Ring.

And just so you know, I'm not a big Christopher Tolkien fan. He hates all the movies made of his dad's material, and he disowned his own son over the movies, even though they eventually reconciled. It just goes to show you that there's no end to legal red tape and bad feelings, etc. to bring these kinds of stories to a general audience. I truly feel for the great directors like Peter Jackson who deal with insufferable and egotistic people day in and day out in order to honor some work that the world appreciates.

Anyway, I thought the story with Tolkien adaptations was going to end with the release of The Hobbit. However, NPR reported this morning that the Tolkien estate and Trust are now entering a collaboration deal to bring all those Middle-Earth stories from the Silmarillion to television via Amazon subscription service. Okay, I'm in. I just hope they do a good job with it, because the Peter Jackson stuff had really solid production values and the battles looked "epic" with a capital "e." In my opinion, to properly do many Silmarillion stories, you'd need a budget that makes the latest season of Game of Thrones look small. Is Amazon willing to pony up that kind of cash? I hope the stories we get aren't just Xena: Warrior Princess types. This is what I'd call "filler" material that is essentially pointless if you don't have incredible high points in the story to make it all worth while.

So imagine the histories of Gondor, Khazad-Dum, and Rohan being told. Maybe one story could be the forging of the rings of power or perhaps Durin's attempt at taking back Moria. Maybe we'd see the other Istari wizards that went south and disappeared into the world of men. Perhaps we see Ungoliante...that would be very cool.

I gotta be honest though...I kinda wish Netflix had took this on instead of Amazon. Just sayin'....

Monday, November 13, 2017

A huge budget Justice League movie comes out this week so let's talk about why DC movies need to be funny.

I pay attention to early reviews. With Thor: Ragnarok, everyone was saying it was the best Marvel movie yet, and I think they were right. I'm a common consensus kinda guy, a sheep, or a follower if you will. Whatever word you use for "average person" I am it, and I own it proudly. Thus, what most people like I tend to like. So what's the early buzz been like for Justice League (which opens this week by the way)? Well they aren't OMG Wonder Woman, but they aren't terrible either.

However, an educated film viewer (also me) will take into account that half the early buzz is from Collider. Collider writers are on the enthusiast end of the press spectrum. Also present are folks who write for IGN, Slashfilm, and io9. So take what you read up to this week's opening with a grain of salt. Also, I want to point out that lots of people freely criticize DC as needing to be as funny (or funnier if possible) than Marvel. In fact, that's probably the number one criticism: DC takes itself too seriously. But does it really?

I suppose there's a part of me that wants to ask this question: Why do people want DC to be funny? It's a simple question, and it has a lot of complexity to it. I think that DC is oftentimes funny. Take The Flash for example. In the animated show he, oftentimes, has jokes. And the Batman has a wry sense of humor. Then again, there are plenty of DC comics that aren't funny. Take Batman: Arkham Asylum. The main villain is the Joker and despite this "comedic" villain, it isn't funny. It's deadly serious.

So, why do people want DC to be funny? Let's brainstorm a bit, shall we? Well, you're selling a property based on a comic that may or may not have an animated series. The comic has a circulation close to 50,000 readers at $2.99. That equals a steady income of $145,000 give or take some decimal points. The animated movies have a gross around the $6 million mark, so 40 times what comics bring in (they tend to be light and humorous too). So the answer to the question of why DC needs to be funny is because: money.

The average person (me) likes to watch escapist fiction that is joyful and delightful rather than grim and dark. That's just the truth. And big budget movies need to cater to the general audience, and not fifty thousand readers.

Look, it's a comic book movie, and I watch a lot of comic book movies. I suppose I just hope that it a) makes sense, b) does not have half the damn movie shot at night while illuminated by a sole Maglite, c) avoids any major missteps in characterization, and d) has lots of special effects. As far as not simply being a Marvel film in a DC costume, I think they've always had their own compass where this is concerned.

Are you seeing it this week? Comment below please :)

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Why does no one point out that there can be some spectacular and horrifying consequences to saying no?

Before I get to the point of my post, I would like to say that I believe all people have a right to say no. They have a right to draw boundaries, and they should be encouraged to do so with abandon. Children should be taught the power of saying "no" to this and "no" to that. Women and men should say "no" all the time to all kinds of advances, questions, opportunities. However, I feel that all of these "the power of no" conversations are lost teaching opportunities. People are overlooking the uncomfortable other side of standing up for yourself and drawing boundaries, which are done solely for selfish reasons: to secure what makes you happy (or what is healthy for you). This "uncomfortable other thing" is the elephant in the room that everyone is ignoring: that there can be unforeseen and even unpleasant consequences to saying no. Think of all the things that qualify for "no" in this world.

Saying no to someone who wants a relationship with you.
Saying no to an applicant that desperately wants a job.
Saying no to someone who is demanding equality.
Saying no to a person who is demanding to be respected.
Saying no to someone who asks for your help.
Saying no to someone who wants compassion.
Saying no to someone who just wants to be listened to.
Saying no to someone who wants to be included.
Saying no to someone who wants monogamy.
Saying no to someone who wants your money.
Saying no to someone who wants drugs.
Saying no to someone who wants a book deal.

The list is endless, but our society teaches that it is OKAY TO SAY NO. Fine. I'm all for that. Every single one of us should always get what we want and never have to do anything that even remotely makes us uncomfortable or could possibly damage us in any way.

In a perfect world, there should be no consequences to saying "no," and I for one will line up for this perfect world so fast I might get whiplash. But here's the rub: we don't live in a perfect world. We don't live in a world where a person can freely slam the door in someone else's face and expect them to be "right as rain" about it. Sure...we can try to educate them...we can try to condition behavior to the point that, if someone rejects you...if someone says no to something you want badly...then you just need to smile, say thank you, and walk away. Yes, we can try to achieve this utopia. But the pessimist in me thinks that people should all be aware that sometimes this isn't the case. And on very rare occasions, it can backfire spectacularly (and in horrible terrifying ways). When I watch the news and see instances of these backfires...when I see horrible crimes that have been committed because someone was so angry because they had a door to something (that they desired deeply) slammed in their face so many times...I am stunned by how many people come forth and say, "We were so surprised. I can't believe that this man did _____. We never saw it coming." Are we really this naive?

I'm not a criminal psychologist. But I don't think it takes a criminal psychologist to see some horrible shootings that have occurred as a result of repeated "no's" (or their equivalent) heaping on top of unrequited desires for (insert blank). And again, I'm not saying that any of this is right. People should feel free to say "no" as much as they want with absolutely no consequences. But I don't ever hear someone saying to a child, "I want you to know that it's okay to say 'no.' But be aware, that if you do say 'no' to someone...that if you make them feel disrespected in any way...there's a very rare possibility that this someone will not take it well and either hurt you or a bunch of other people. That's just how life works, and you need to be prepared for that consequence. And be aware that the consequence need not be immediate. It could take years of 'no's to eventually break a person. Yours could be the first or last in a long line of them. It's all just Russian roulette and sometimes, in life, ya just gotta take a spin and see how it turns out." Nope...no one says that. Instead the last half of that sentiment gets chopped off and all that's said to the child is, "I want you to know that it's okay to say no."

I think that this is wrong to do. It raises a person to believe that "no" is empowering and that you can throw it in another person's face and they just gotta take it. But it completely ignores or outright disrespects the potential and power of violence. I don't know how many times I've heard people say, "violence doesn't solve anything." It's one of the stupidest things I've ever heard. I usually am swift to correct them by saying, "Actually, violence solves a lot of things. Depending on the level of violence, it has a potential to bring a swift end to any disagreement. It has the potential for finality, unlike any other thing. It just depends on how committed to the violence someone is." I have actually been asked to leave a home because I said this to someone. They were so "shaken" by my ability to point this out. However, in my defense there were others in the room that immediately agreed with me, making this person who kicked me out of their home very cross that I could possibly bring up such a sentiment around their children.

So here's my ultimate point: it's my observation that we are increasingly becoming a society where no one wants to deal with the garbage. And yes, I'm using "garbage" as a metaphor. "Mommy, I don't want to put my hands on the garbage because my hands are dirty and I smell." Yes, yes that is a reasonable thing. However, if there is no one that wants to put their hands on the garbage, the garbage starts to rot and fester and it does start to pile up. There's more and more garbage every day. No one wants to date the garbage. No one wants to live with the garbage. No one wants to have sex with the garbage and get that horrible mess all over us. We are raised to expect better, and (for lack of a better metaphor) to avoid the garbage because we are better than the garbage. Do you get what I'm saying? But I think that the garbage gets tired of being treated like garbage. And sometimes (very rarely) it has a very strong opinion about its perceived "garbage status." Yes, we could just brush it off as mental illness, but I think there's more to this than PTSD, "aspies," and any other flavor of the psychological universe. I think people need to become more aware of the power of anger, and they need to be more aware of spotting signs of anger and treating anger like a disease. If people thought of anger as a disease, they would learn the causes, and learn how to cure it no matter how unpleasant the cure happens to be. But we don't like "unpleasant" conversations as a society, so we'll probably just stick our heads in the sand.

Yes, there can be some spectacular and horrifying consequences to saying "no" to the garbage. If we don't want to deal with these consequences, fine by me. But we should all be prepared for them in any case. We should also, maybe, have a societal conversation between all of us that we should try to say as many "Yesses" as we possibly can stomach before throwing up. Maybe if we all dirty ourselves just a little bit, then no one has to suffer too much.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Si Vis Pacem Para Bellum of Star Trek Discovery was a low point of the season but it still had some things to offer

Star Trek: Discovery ran a pretty weak episode last night when you compare it to how the earlier episodes went. However, it was still leagues above anything in the first seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. It was also the penultimate episode right before it airs the fall finale, after which I can cancel my subscription for a few months. Was it worth the $5.99 a month to see the episodes? Yeah. But if you haven't signed up yet, it'd be worth it to just binge watch using the one week free option that they offer for CBS: All Access. I kind of wonder (amusingly), if there's going to be a raft of cancellations right after the fall finale airs next week. I think I would LOL if there is.

Last night's episode was called Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum, and there's going to be a few spoilers as I discuss what happened. First off, what didn't work? They really developed the "Kelpian" race in this one. The Kelpian crew member is Saru, and he's a prey species. Pretty early on Michael Burnham rattles off some statistics about Kelpians (as they are investigating a new planet called Pahvo), and she says that Kelpians can run really fast (in the neighborhood of 80 km/hour). We can assume that this makes them pretty strong too as strength definitely factors into speed. So what does a viewer with any intelligence make of these carefully packaged facts? Probably that the Kelpian is going to turn on everyone in the landing crew and use his super powers to take them down. And that's pretty much what happens. It was a kind of clumsy way to do foreshadowing. Add to this the fact that the animation of the Kelpian running through the forest looked terrible, and the crystals that surrounded this antennae that rose from the ground into space looked plastic...and it all adds up to a kind of blase episode at best. Don't get me wrong...the effects still look good overall, and I'm still not tired of seeing the black alert spore drive animation, but some of the other effects were borderline bad.

We also got to see the Klingons again, and we got the pleasure of reading lots of subtitles. Look, I respect the fact that someone at some time got really creative with Klingon and gave them their own language. Cool beans. I just fatigue easily when it comes to reading subtitles, and it always makes my brain hurt when I have to read the Klingon ones for minutes at a time. There was some development on the Klingon side, however, that was a little unexpected. Thus far, they've been the Federation adversaries lurking as specters in the background, basically raising the tension of everything that the Discovery does because they are beating the Federation so badly. So the development came in the form of L'Rell, who confessed to Admiral Cornwell (who is a prisoner) that she wishes to defect and proposes that she and Cornwell escape. Of course, this all goes tits up when they are seen and L'Rell murders Cornwell to dispel suspicion.

We also got some concrete information from Stamets (the engineer) who says the spore drive is essentially killing him, and that he's keeping the information from Culber, who's his partner and the ship's medic. This essentially means that the spore drive is probably going to fail at a crucial point in the fall season finale, otherwise there isn't going to be an effective cliff hanger to bring us back in the spring. So yeah...there's that happening.

One of the things I did like that this episode did effectively was give us a view into Saru's mind. As a prey species, he's born afraid and lives with fear every moment of his life. The alien planet Pahvo had some amorphous aliens which took that away from him, and for the first moment in his life he knew peace and comfort. I thought that was a really neat touch, because I could empathize somewhat with how awful it must be to live in fear all the time. To have that suddenly gone...man...that must have felt amazing. That was one of the more profound touch points of the episode and in the series thus far.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Without any spoilers I can say that Thor Ragnarok was just as good as Spiderman Homecoming.

You probably already know this, but Thor: Ragnarok is a really good movie. I saw it last night with my buddy Brad, and it is helpful to know a few things before going to see it, so I'll tell you what those things are.

1) At the end of the last Thor movie, called Thor: Dark World, Loki was in charge of Asgard. The fact that the god of mischief is sitting on the throne of Odin leads to a lot of laughs. I think I'm going to miss Tom Hiddleston, who may never again reprise his role as the famous trickster. However, Disney does have the ability to back up a truck load of cash....

2) "Ragnarok" is a term that's used in the Marvel comics to signify a reset of Asgard. In the comic books, it's happened a few times already. Each time the Asgardians get reborn and everything goes back to normal. This movie is a bit different, because it mashes two storylines together: Planet Hulk and Ragnarok. It ends up being a fantastic mashup because it's fun seeing Hulk and Thor together. And let's face it...Hulk is only good when he has amazing things to tear into and smash. Him being in a solo movie by himself is kinda boring because he needs a villain powerful enough to stand up to his fists.

Okay, so here are my assorted musings (and I don't think any of these are spoilers):

1) Cate Blanchett as Hela, the goddess of death, is a huge win. I want more Hela.

2) Loki and Thor have incredible chemistry. You can tell their characters love each other, and when they fight together it's kinda magical. It's a shame that Loki's always going to stab Thor in the back when he least expects it.

3) The script writing is smart smart smart. Every moment is either a laugh out loud moment or just witty banter.

4) It sets up the Avengers: Infinity War really well. You should stay for both stingers. The last one with Jeff Goldblum is hilarious (much like the rest of the film).

Go see Thor: Ragnarok guys! Seriously.


Wednesday, November 1, 2017

As Nano kicks off the IWSG ponders a deep and meaningful publishing question for all the writers out there

Today is November 1st. There's a lot of things that happen in November. For one, we've officially entered the holiday season. This year is the first one in which I'm putting up my own tree and decorating (a little bit) for Christmas. For Halloween, I just put a bunch of pumpkins on my porch, so it'll be a little more effort than that to dress the house up for the holidays. Second, it's the start of Nanowrimo for many people out there, and this event also has to do with the Insecure Writer's Support Group monthly question which is talked about below. Third, it's the first full month in which the iPhone X is going to be available. It's been a few years since I upgraded, so I think it's the one I'm going to jump to once its widely available (there's currently a production bottleneck). My current iPhone is barely useable. It's battery lasts about an hour if I don't use it at all and fifteen minutes otherwise. And the lag it experiences is significant. When I type a text message, there's usually a one second delay now before the letters appear on the screen. Yeah...it's pretty awful.

So this month's Insecure Writer's Support Group question is: "Win or not, do you usually finish your NaNo project? Have any of them gone on to be published?"

I actually have never participated in the NaNo project, so I guess that's easy. However, if you dig into what the question is really asking it's this: have you ever just binge typed a novel into completion in thirty days. The answer is still no, although I did type out one novel in about sixty days once. And no, that book was never published.

Right now, I'm collaborating on a fun project with my friend Jake. It's been really interesting, as he's come up with a fascinating story and loaded it into google docs, and I take on the persona of one or two characters that he doesn't want to deal with and respond in character to situations that he's put them into. The fun thing is, he can actually see my words appear on the screen in the google docs program as I type them. I never realized writing could be a shared experience, and it's a lot of fun. As for the story it's kinda meh. It currently has no plot really, but we are certainly getting to know the characters rather well. I guess that's something. I imagine we are cranking out enough words to qualify for NaNo. But I've got enough publishing experience under my belt to know that this is a thing that should never be published because it's kinda bad lol. Bad can still be fun though. It's true. And in the least, it's showing me that it's actually quite easy for two people to work on a project at the same time (and weave together their writing styles). I think it'd be fun to take this experience and apply it to a more serious context in the future.

Monday, October 30, 2017

I wish I could be this enthusiastic about Halloween but I just can't.

I have no idea where this house is, but if I had to guess, it'd be Utah. This state, which is home to large Mormon families, and 35-year-old kiddults (the 35-year-old man that thinks he's still fifteen) go crazy for Halloween. I think I just lived through too much trauma in my life to let the mental barriers down long enough to cut loose and be fancy free. Maybe that's what the definition of adult happens to be. Definition, "adult: a kid who physically has a body past its prime and who has experienced enough psychological trauma to have the fun beaten out of them." Sounds about right. For what it's worth, "adults" as I define them may not be able to be "fun," but we sure are good at paying mortgages, showing up on time, handling commitments, and cleaning up garbage. I guess someone has to do it.

So this YouTube user is named BetGeorge, and as you can see he not only has thousands of lights, which were probably hard to hang, but they're all animated and perfectly synced to the song "This is Halloween" from The Nightmare Before Christmas. I also (perhaps erroneously) thought that Halloween decorations are about making things spooky and gory. However, the guitar and keyboard are pretty impressive.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Netflix is getting Godzilla: Monster Planet soon and that's exciting.

The remnants of humanity leave Earth, because Godzilla. Then they come back because the new planet is horrible, but their tech hasn't improved and they have even fewer resources. "We got this folks!" This is the new plot for Godzilla: Monster Planet!

I was excited when the announcement hit that it was coming to Netflix in the international release (following the release of it in Japan in November of this year). It's animated, but the animation looks as good as Cowboy Bepop so it should be fun. Of course the music will be terrible, but I rarely like music in Japanese animated movies.

For what it's worth, I do like how the directors of the movie seem to be taking some design cues from both the Legendary pictures and "Shin" versions of the King of Monsters.

Monday, October 23, 2017

The morally bankrupt captain Lorca threw his admiral bff under the bus in the latest episode of Discovery

I really don't like Captain Lorca. He's just an awful person, and that trend definitely continues in this week's episode of Star Trek: Discovery. Spoilers are ahead for those of you who haven't watched the episode yet.

Lorca (if you don't recognize his name) is the captain of the most technologically advanced ship in the fleet. Unfortunately, this means that he just can't go off and indulge every whim...or at least that's what he's told by Admiral Cornwell, who shows up long enough for them to squabble, have some sex, and for her to threaten his command when he freaks out and points a phaser (that he apparently sleeps with) at her head. She declares him mentally unfit and leaves, only to get captured by some Klingons. Naturally, Captain Lorca (who embraces the unconventional) is now shrugging this one off. "I'll go if I'm ordered to, but if not we'll just...I dunno...see if she ends up dead." That's not a direct quote, but it's pretty much how this captain's personality is. And I'm kind of disturbed at Burnham's devotion to Lorca, and appreciation to serving him. Ugh. It just makes me want to throw up in my mouth a little bit.

Additionally, this episode really put Sarek under a microscope, and I'm not sure I like how it went about this. We've known since old Trek that Sarek was a stubborn Vulcan. He also disliked Spock's decision to join Starfleet (this is a matter of canon and has been canon for about fifty years). But to think Sarek is the kind of person who would make his own adopted child believe her own inadequacies and failures as a person were responsible for not making it on Vulcan--instead of it being his own emotional decision to choose his own blood--essentially turns him into an asshole.

But things weren't all bad with the episode, and I'm not saying I don't enjoy Discovery...rather, I'm saying I don't enjoy Captain Lorca. Some of the other things I really liked was the idea that "smarts don't count" when it comes to getting a command rank in Starfleet. Burnham points out that everyone who rises to that level is smart. You have to have something extra.

I also liked the idea of Vulcan terrorists. It develops the Vulcans a bit more than the run of the mill logic-obsessed ones that we've seen in the majority of the series. I suppose Kim Katrall could have been considered a kind of terrorist in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. But really, she was more of a rogue person operating on her own than under any real movement essential to Vulcan culture.

I'm not sure if Ash Tyler is entirely human either (he's the guy that was rescued last week from the Klingon prison). He appears to be completely loyal to Lorca because he lives on the edge and shares some of the captain's personality flaws. The fact that he has similar traits to Lorca though, makes me think that it's just a bad idea having him around. But what if he's a Klingon plant? This seems more likely. I mean, they could have surgery to make a Klingon look human, right?

Friday, October 20, 2017

Before viewing the Lego Ninjago movie it'd be best to know what Ninjago is

Lego Ninjago hit theaters in September. 

I haven't seen it yet, but I'm going to correct that tonight with companion, Brad Habegger. We are both not ten years old anymore. So for the benefit of anyone else out there who also finds themselves in the uncomfortable zone of admitting that one is no longer ten, I guess I should probably extend my adult brain into explaining what exactly a ninjago is (because you're in luck).

Ninjago is a portmanteau of "ninja" and "Lego." Think of "Bennifer" or "Brangelina" only in this case it is a world and not a power couple (did I use power couple correctly in a sentence?). "Ninjago" is a fictional place invented as both a theme for Lego sets and a setting for the show Ninjago: Master of Spin. This show started in 2011 and lots of kids like it. The first "Spinjitzu Master" (not to be confused with the defunct Bill O'Reilly who was "Master of the No Spin Zone") used some powerful weapons called the Four Elemental Weapons of Spinjitzu to create it. He had two sons: Lord Garmadon (evil) and Sensei Wu (good). Pretty basic right?

Garmadon (as is the case of evil creatures) was eventually banished to an underworld while Wu protected the powerful weapons. But Garmadon came back, so Wu trained four young ninjas and designated them "keeper of the weapons." They both have goals. Garmadon wants to conquer Ninjago. Wu wants to protect it.

In the movie, there are supposedly six ninjas. They are: 1) Cole (earth ninja), 2) Jay (lightning ninja), 3) Kai (fire ninja), 4) Nya (water ninja), 5) Zane (ice ninja), and 6) Lloyd (green ninja). There's a running gag where he doesn't know what "green" ninja is supposed to mean, just like the clueless audience. Lloyd is the son of Lord Garmadon, which he doesn't like, because his dad keeps attacking the city with his army. Garmadon is also an absentee father.

So that's it. Those are things I know (and from what I've read in reviews) is helpful to know before going into this movie to avoid getting lost.




Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Here are five things I expect from Solo: A Star Wars story

With the announcement by Ron Howard that the Han Solo movie would simply be called "Solo," it got me to thinking about what I actually expect from a movie about the most famous space smuggler there is.

1) I think that we should see some kind of Heist. I mean...what kind of movie would it be if good ole Chewy and Han weren't making money pulling the wool over someone's eyes?

2) Han should be arrogant. He was pretty full of himself in the original Star Wars (as well as a womanizer) so we should see some of this on display.

3) Lando Calrissian. If we don't see a young Lando and Han playing a game of sabaac, I will be incredibly disappointed.

4) We need to see whatever the Kessel Run is, and it needs to be run in twelve parsecs. This needs to be clearly explained as "impossible" in the movie to do (as well).

5) We'll get a meeting between Han and young Jabba. We already caught a glimpse of him in the Star Wars prequels, but this will be better done because technology and C.G.I. has advanced so much since the early 2000's.

Anyone else caring to take a stab at what we'll see when it hits theaters in December of 2018?

Monday, October 16, 2017

Star Trek Discovery is a dark science fiction take on traditional Trek only with actual cussing and gay characters.

Spoilers Ahead. Please be aware :). Season 1, Episode 5 called "Choose your Pain" was one of the best episodes aired yet, which is to say a lot since this series has got extremely high production values and solid actors. Last night I was caught off guard twice in one episode. For one, the characters dropped the "F" bomb twice. I had to check myself and then realize, hey this is online and a paid subscription at that, so they must feel they can get away with more, and I really like it. Then at the end of the episode, we learned that the doctor and the engineer are a gay couple. I mean...that's just awesome. It's never been a real thing in a Trek show until now. On top of all that, the gay character saved the ship, so yeah he's brilliant and a hero.

But pushing past those two barriers to examine the episode, there was lots to be proud of in the vein of those who like Trek. Roger Carmel's portrayal of Mudd (who we met in the original series) seems to work pretty good. I never really liked the character of Mudd, as he was pretty much an asshole. This new actor carries that role pretty well, reprising the smug trader with no scruples. He says, "I sure as hell understand why the Klingons pushed back, Starfleet arrogance." This probably means that there's more to him than just being a trader in goods. He also has dark political motivations. A possible villain, maybe?

We also learn that Captain Lorca (as if we didn't suspect this already with his commitment to do whatever it takes) is essentially a terrible person. He confesses that he blew up his last command ship so that he could save his crew from the hands of the Klingons. What a way to justify mass murder. The guy's got no moral center whatsoever.

And I also love the spinning ship effect. It's just really cool when they make the jump using the tardigrade and the spore drive. However, what's not cool is that they kept using the tardigrade, even when Burnham kept telling Saru that the spore drive was killing a sentient creature.

Star Trek: Discovery is just a different kind of show. It's dark and gritty with an over-arching storyline and a kind of Babylon 5 or J.J. Abrams reboot kinda feel to it. I wonder where it's going with all this. Maybe the mirror universe? I kinda got that hint from the episode's last scene. Thing is, the last time we saw the mirror universe, everyone had mustaches and strange goatees. That should still be a thing. It really should.


Friday, October 13, 2017

I'm in love with Riverdale's beautiful darkness and suffering. Let me tell you all about it.

There are spoilers in this post!

Riverdale is back. I love this show because everyone has a motive for murder. And even if they don't eventually end up dead, it's just enough of a fantasy to buy into. I mean...could there be a whole small town of sex-crazed young (exceptionally gorgeous) people bleeding all over the place as they damage and traumatize one another, while listening to great music and leaving a good looking corpse? Maybe not, but who knows? IT COULD HAPPEN IN EDGY-VILLE.

This year's mystery (last year was Jason Blossom's death) is apparently "Who shot Archie's dad?" Played by Luke Perry, I was legitimately thinking a couple of times that they might just bump him off while watching last night. But they didn't, and I think the series is stronger for making this decision. The bit near the end though where Archie stands vigil over their house with a baseball bat to attack any intruder makes me think that they should have just invested in a home security system. It wouldn't have had the same impact though. And although that scene was very dumb, I got an earlier one where Veronica joins Archie in the shower. In that scene, he's watching blood swirl between his toes and thence down the drain. That scene was as hot and steamy as it was intended to be. But...Veronica did get into the shower while Archie was trying to wash his dad's blood from off his skin so yeah...a little dark but I still liked it. Eh...Veronica is not in the series for her ability to comfort people.

You would be mistaken too if you thought that a simple request for help from the local gang wouldn't produce some good helpings of trauma too. Jughead asks the Serpents to help uncover some information they might have about the possible masked shooter, and it results in a bloodied man being delivered to his trailer. They wanted to make sure their effort did not go unnoticed by Jughead. Makes sense, I suppose, in a psychopathic kinda mindset kinda way. I mean, there'd always be that nagging doubt: did they actually look into it?

Finally, Cheryl was a big winner in the premiere. She puts her mother (who's in the hospital with third degree burns) in her place, even squeezing the oxygen tube so that she's gasping, and then telling her that she's in charge now. Wow, go psychopathic teen. She also had the best line of the night in Fred Andrews' room at the hospital: "You gave me the kiss of life Archie Andrews, now I've given it to your dad."

Oh and Jughead ate a burger in the premiere. It's about time.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The porgs are here! The porgs are here! Here's ten questionable facts about porgs that I could have made up.





PORGS ARE HERE! So you might as well know the facts (via io9 and then stuff I made up about them because I is funny):

1) Porgs are residents of Ahch-To, which is the mysterious planet where Rey finds Luke Skywalker. They are here for a reason, and it is not to sell merchandise. Or maybe it is to sell merchandise, but please realize that this is in no way "selling out." It's just fleshing out a universe so that it feels more realistic.

2) Luke Skywalker must be a fan of porgs.

3) They build nests.

4) They can fly short distances.

5) Their babies are called "porglets."

6) They are sea birds. Their coloring varies. Males are slightly larger than females. They're also inquisitive.

7) They're based off puffins, which are eaten in Iceland. So they may be better smoked to balance out the oil. However, because this is a fictional universe, a porg may in fact taste like chicken.

8) They may be low in saturated fat and high in midichlorian content. The reason why Han Solo was on Tattoine in the first place was because he was dropping off a shipment of porgs, which is the food of choice for slave labor on that planet.

9) Gordon Ramsey thinks they're delicious.

10) I suspect that Chewie will work through his grief over losing his lifelong friend by collecting porgs the way an elderly widow collects cats.

Now you are prepared to truly appreciate the porgs. You are welcome. And in case you haven't seen the theatrical trailer, it's below :).


Friday, October 6, 2017

I seriously would like a pair of these free posters being given away at New York Comic Con.

You'd be hard-pressed to find anything "Free" that's as cool as this.

Bottleneck Gallery has teamed up with Warner Brothers to give out some frickin' awesome Blade Runner 2049 posters at New York Comic Con. Man oh man, I wish I was going. These are gonna fetch some serious cash on Ebay. Check them out:

Sigh. I need more high quality free stuff in my life. Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

No I have not slipped any personal information into my characters either accidental or otherwise.

Today is the first Wednesday in October, not to be confused with the first Monday in October (a designation reserved for the new term of the SCOTUS). This means that it's time for a new Insecure Writer's Support Group post. The website for the IWSG is located HERE, and it's a great way to start making friends in the writer community. In fact, I can't really recommend beginning anywhere else so yeah...if you write...start there first.

This month's question from the desk of the IWSG is as follows:

Have you ever slipped any of your personal information into your characters, either by accident or on purpose?

Unfortunately no. I can say that 100% of everything I've written about, scene-wise and action-wise, is completely made-up. I wish that I led an interesting enough life (even in small snippets) to include in my stories but the fact is that it's just not true (for me at least).

And maybe there's a lesson in this question: in order for you to be a great writer, you should strive to live an interesting life because it will improve your writing. Makes sense, right? Ernest Hemingway was an ambulance driver in World War I, a bull runner, and a heavy drinker all of his life. He married four different women, was almost killed in two plane crashes, and went on safaris in Africa.

Oscar Wilde dared to be a promiscuous homosexual in the puritanical Victorian era. He was in and out of courts on scandalous accusations, sentenced to hard labor, and was publicly humiliated. And of course he drank absinthe. All the great writers did.

Mark Twain was a gold prospector, steamboat pilot, journalist, lecturer, served in the American Civil War and was friends with Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison. He died one day after Halley's Comet came closest to Earth, as he had predicted.

Anyway, history is replete with examples of great writers living vibrant, fulfilling lives. It doesn't wax poetic about the schmuck that is middle class and works a 9-5.

So maybe the IWSG is trying to tell us all something this month: live a life that makes you want to slip personal information into your characters. I suppose you can take that to the bank.

Monday, October 2, 2017

This week Blade Runner 2049 comes out and its gonna be talked about for years to come.

This week the world get to see a sequel to Blade Runner that has been promised, withdrawn, promised again, and teased for several decades. The original film has had many cuts: director's cut, the "we found footage cut," the "this isn't quite it but we're getting close" cut, the "superior" cut, etc. In all of them, it is a slow-burning noire detective story swirled together in a science-fiction dystopian vision of the future (which essentially describes the entire cyberpunk genre). It's also (supposedly) pretentious as hell, because "pretension" just means artsy. There are those of us out here who welcome pretension in Ridley Scott movies. For lack of a better explanation, a dumb viewer needs to be self-aware that it's their stupidity that holds them back. After all, it's not the responsibility of every art object to make itself understandable to halfwits. That being said, Blade Runner 2049 promises to be all this and more.

Say what you will about Blade Runner, but it was a movie that accomplished many things. For its star, Harrison Ford, it broke the typecasting he might have fallen victim to (Mark Hamill was never able to escape this bear trap). And the sequel may also be significant in one way: Ryan Gosling might have to change his facial expression at least once. I kid I kid! I love Ryan Gosling, but you have to admit that he does have a remarkably unchanging facial expression at all times. And even in "stoic face" gosling is a pleasure to look at (I know the ladies will at least agree).

And there are Blade Runner purists out there a plenty, but early reviews have basically pegged the sequel as being a masterpiece, so I expect criticism to be few and far between. There will always be those that insist that Blade Runner should have been laid to rest, allowed to bask in its enduring glory forever, untainted by sequel, prequel, sidequel, upquel, downquel, or diagonalquel. But those people need to shut up now. The original was a film that continues to infect the thoughts of many long after the final credits rolled. This means it was good enough to warrant caring about what happened, but complex enough to require some actual thought to fully understand what we all saw.

So that you can be prepared for Blade Runner 2049, here is a run down via Comic-Con San Diego that was posted back in July (that details the events that occurred between the original Blade Runner and the monster sequel due out this week).

2019: Blade Runner Rick Deckard flees Los Angeles with a replicant named Rachael (obviously there's going to be questions answered like, "what has Deckard been doing with Rachael all this time?" I doubt it has been doing origami).

2020: The Tyrell Corporation introduces a new replicant model, the Nexus 8S, which has extended lifespans.

2022: An EMP detonation causes a global blackout that has massive, destructive implications all over the world.

2023: A Replicant prohibition is put into effect.

2025: A new company, Wallace Corp., solves the global food shortage and becomes a massive super power.

2030: Replicant prohibition is repealed.

2049: Life on Earth has reached its limit and society divides between Replicant and Human.

I gotta admit. This has got me excited guys! Anyone else planning on seeing it?

Friday, September 29, 2017

Here are five things that I absolutely loved about the Star Trek Discovery premiere.

My friend Kevin Long asked me on Wednesday (via a comment) how I liked Star Trek: Discovery. I suppose I thought the implication that I liked it a lot was in there somewhere, as I went to a lot of trouble to get it to show on my LG television. But since my viewing, I've thought about exactly what I liked about it, and I'm going to tell you. Oh and Kevin, if you're reading this, you should send me an email because I lost your contact info in my last move. WARNING: There are spoilers for the first two episodes in this post.

1) Powerful female characters and strong diversity. The captain was Chinese, the first officer a black woman, and both roles predictably dominated over everything else. I liked that these Starfleet officers operated (essentially) without any reference to their sex whatsoever. There was no hint of fear of the Klingons, they did not get distressed or histrionic, there was no "standing down" unless it was done by threat of being shot, and the threats on their existence were taken very seriously and intelligently. The two women in the pilot (at the center of everything) are Captain Philippa Georgiou (played by Michelle Yeoh) and Commander Michael Burnham (played by Sonequa Martin-Green).

2) It's definitely Trek. I think the feel of it lies as a mix between Deep Space Nine and Voyager with punched up graphics, Aaron Sorkin-esque rapid fire dialogue, and combat/space battle front and center. It feels darker, grittier, and very serious. The best of Trek was always in the space battles and wars. The makers of this show know this and they threw it in the pilot episode. Fantastic.

3) Michelle Yeoh blew my socks off. I loved hearing her accent, and it felt refreshing for some reason. Maybe it's the fact that in the real world, we are almost on the verge of a nuclear war with North Korea and that our only hope to reign them in peacefully seems to be through the actions that China may or may not take. Michelle Yeoh spoke her lines with every fiber of her being. It was great hearing such conviction and it is disappointing that she died in episode two.

4) The show is taking big risks. The first two episodes introduced us to a captain that was at the center of tremendous conflict (that was at times an edge of your seat thriller). Then it killed off that captain in a deadly battle that proved how big the stakes were. Multiple ships, including the Shenzou were essentially destroyed. A federation admiral was killed. A war with the Klingon empire was started. And the other main character, Michael Burnham, was sent to prison on charges of treason, conspiracy, and mutiny (essentially for the rest of her natural life). Where the hell do we go from here? If we continue with Michael's story, we will be rooting for a criminal.

5) The finishing touches are incredible. There's an alien on the bridge of the Shenzou that has amazingly detailed skin, to the point that it looks almost iridescent. Whoever is doing the makeup is a maestro at their job. The bridge looks super polished and awe-inspiring. The computer generated graphics are (at times) rather mind-blowing. And the vistas of alien worlds and the shots of the universe out through the main projector screen are stunning. In practically every screen there's an opportunity to say, "wow."

So there you have it. If you watched the show, please share any thoughts you may have in the comments below.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Star Trek Discovery was obviously worth the trouble for me to watch but its a big pain in the ass.

I have technology fatigue. I work in technology, and I live in a smart home. Getting all of that set up took time and money, and it works beautifully. Everything should be seamless, but Star Trek Discovery gave me the huge middle finger last night. Like a lot of people who enjoy Trek, I recorded the first episode. I have an X1 Xfinity DVR with voice control, I have a 4K LG television set mounted above the fireplace, I have all of the HDMI and optical cables routed through the wall, a pioneer surround sound system for great sound, and I have fast Wi-Fi speeds. My 4K television and my X1 DVR both have apps. On X1 I can switch over to the Netflix app seamlessly, although I rarely do this because the broadcast isn't in 4K. Usually when I want to watch Netflix, I use the apps on my 4K television from LG, which is essentially like having a tv with a built-in Roku. I bought it for this reason. I didn't want to have more and more devices. I wanted technology minimalism, as it were.

On my LG television I can watch Amazon, Hulu, Crackle, and countless other apps. However, there is no CBS All Access app. Trust me, I looked. I went online and looked it up, and it turns out that CBS declined to make an app for the LG television. Okay fine. I have Xfinity too. So I went onto Xfinity's app store that has apps like Netflix on it, and nope...there's no CBS All Access. Xfinity on their forums even went so far as to say that this will never happen, as this streaming service by CBS is viewed as direct competition.

Okay, so I went to my small devices, i.e., my iPad and my iPhone. On the support page of CBS All Access, they proudly tout that you can watch these shows on the small devices. Keep in mind that I don't want to watch the show on a small device unless I'm traveling, and that it actually pisses me off that a company uses "This show is made for viewing on a small device" as one of its selling points. Those should be available, yes, but they shouldn't be the main goal. I guess CBS All Access didn't get this memo.

So when I view things like YouTube on my small device, an icon pops up that I can tap that will throw the show onto my television set so everyone can watch it. It's because my Apple and LG are compatible to each other and they are both set up through my Wi-Fi. This was not a coincidence by the way. I selected this compatibility through research when I purchased my electronics. However, the CBS All Access app doesn't produce the icon. It's not encoded on it, so you can't actually transfer any CBS broadcast through the small device onto the LG television. Needless to say, my patience is wearing thin here.

I decide to view the CBS All Access through a web browser built into my LG television set. I type in the web page, enter my sign-in information, and click play on the Star Trek episode. A beautiful commercial for Verizon plays (after which Star Trek will start) and the sound/everything is working as intended. Once the commercial ends, Star Trek starts and plays for two seconds and then stops. It errors out saying that the video is not compatible with this web browser. ARE YOU F*CKING KIDDING ME? I can watch commercials but I can't watch the program?!?

What finally worked was a mockery of everything that I went to the trouble to avoid. I broke out my laptop, connected it to the side of the LG television with an ugly black HDMI cord that dangles down on the side with the fan of the laptop clearly humming, and then used the laptop to view the next episode of Star Trek Discovery, which was now visible on my big television via a hardwired connection of the HDMI cord to input 2. After all this trouble, I will be paying $5.99 a month to watch Star Trek: Discovery in this frustrating manner AND it will be filled with commercial breaks. It really was a big middle finger to all of the trouble I have gone to (and all of the expense) to make my house a beautiful zone of peace. It was a big "Oh...this is nice...too bad YOUR SH*T A'IN'T GONNA WORK WITH THIS HERE PROGRAM! HA!" **spits on my face** "YEAH YOU GONNA EAT THAT SH*T UP, BOY!" Those were the words playing in my mind as I looked at the ham-fisted way I solved my Star Trek Discovery problems.

There's part of me that's incredibly angry with CBS. It's like they made no attempt to make life easier for anyone. They didn't make deals with other companies, they didn't design apps well, and it was all because "zero f*cks were given." It must be nice to live in a world of "zero f*cks."

Monday, September 25, 2017

Kingsman: The Golden Circle was a delightful sequel to the ever popular Secret Service.

I watched Kingsman: The Golden Circle this weekend, and I enjoyed it every bit as much as I did the original. There are spoilers ahead in this post, so if you plan on seeing it, you should probably stop right now.

Of course, there were a few things I didn't like about this sequel. The first of these was that I felt that Merlin should have lived instead of Harry (played by Colin Firth). Merlin was a character that I was more interested in for the longevity of the series. And then (of course) I felt they killed off Roxy (a.k.a. Lancelot) in a manner that didn't speak to any of her contributions and hard-fought placement in the organization in the first show. It felt like they were trying to axe solid female characters and go with a "bro" organization.

The things that I did like about the show far outweighed any of my criticisms, however. Any scene with Elton John was pure gold, as the singer mostly poked fun at himself and took (with great stride I might add) the indignities that Poppy (Julianne Moore) inflicted upon his person. As an "over the top" villain, I appreciated the remote location of her world-ending drug operation from a volcano. Her dash of homesickness that led her to reconstruct a 1950's diner in this volcano and equip it with robot dogs and robot spa attendants was nothing short of brilliant (and just screamed "capable supervillain"). And I do like the gushing "Quentin Tarantino-esque" bits of gore from grinding people into meat to make hamburgers for the grill...to slicing them in half with an electrified whip. Those are things I lived for in this sequel.

The plot was pretty fantastic too. How could you go wrong with a main character that ends up becoming a prince at the end (and marrying a princess)? And the Statesman were every bit as cool as the Kingsmen ever were (with a decidedly American "hillbilly" flare).

One thing I noticed: There have been two movies within a month or so of each other that have featured (strongly) the song "Country Road" by John Denver. They are "Lucky Logan" and "Kingsman: the Golden Circle." Additionally, both movies starred Channing Tatum. I think that's one of those coincidences that you can't make up.

If you saw the movie this weekend, what did you think? I look forward to reading your comments.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Four things I know about the Kingsman franchise ahead of my viewing of The Golden Circle

With Kingsman: The Golden Circle ready to take on It at the box office this weekend, I thought it would be nice to do a post for all you peeps out there that don't know much about the "behind the curtains" stuff of this franchise. Namely, there's four things that I know:

1) Colin Firth wasn't supposed to be in the sequel. The popularity of the character virtually demanded it be done though, and I guess I'll know soon enough how it happens.

2) It's loosely based on "The Secret Service" comic book series by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons. I've never read the comic book myself (I bet Pat Dilloway has), but I do like that it's "over-the-top" like a comic book movie. I think a lot of the spy genre stuff that's come out these days is too grounded in reality. I want to see fantasy mixed in with these super spies. Like fantastic crazy stuff...unbelievable stuff. Not a string of gun-kata martial arts maneuvers that goes on for about an hour and a half (with some dialogue dribbled here and there in a half-assed attempt at cobbling together a story).

3) Colin Firth did 80% of his own stunts. I'm really surprised at this because a lot of the stuff that his character "Harry" does is really impressive. Maybe not Tom Cruise impressive, but Tom Cruise is kinda crazy in my opinion.

4) In real life, Taron Egerton (who plays Eggsy Unwin) is scared of dogs. I actually share this phobia to some extent. I was attacked by a dog when I was eight years old. I see that dog oftentimes in my mind whenever I look at someone's pet. I feel like people don't realize how much of the "vicious animal" still remains inside their beloved family member. But it's there...always lurking.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Is epic fantasy fiction written by men just a red pill wonderland?

I think the true "Wonderland" is the internet. It's a strange place because the psychology of people is strange, and when you get so many ideas being shared, you are bound to run into anything that you can imagine and a few that you never could. One of the things that I've discovered/run into on the internet is a whole community of "Red Pillers." These are an enormous group of men who essentially co-opted the scene from the original Matrix wherein Morpheus asked Neo if he wanted to take the Red Pill or the Blue Pill. Men who are "Red Pill" are referred to by this community as being ideal men, with strong alpha masculine traits. Divorce is referred to as "wealth extraction," and liberals (because of a strong connection with modern feminism) are truly hated/loathed. Contrary to what many may think of me, I find their discussions among each other to be fascinating. Lurking under the surface of every man in this online community are extremely embittered feelings that have no outlet. To say that these men will never trust a woman again might even be an understatement. Rather, to say that these men actually have contempt is what's really going on, and the real struggle with these people seems to all center around one basic idea: how does a modern man feel masculine, powerful, and respected (sexually--it's always about sex) in settings (whether they be at bars, parties, raves, or at home having dinner) that are ultimately dominated in sexual tension. These men even have their own vocabulary consisting of words like "beta cuck." All of this rests (of course) on an underlying principle that men need to embrace in order to get around to the idea that men need fixing to begin with, and it's this: young attractive women have all the power in relationships and men are dogs begging for scraps.

It's a fascinating premise, and I have no idea if it's true or not. For some people it probably is, for others it probably isn't. Sweeping generalizations never seem to work out just right, but I've often discovered that buried within a generalization might be a shred or two of some truth. And this again may depend entirely on belief. In other words, what a person believes may actually make some thing true, which is not to say that it is "factual." I'm saying this now because "facts" and "truth" are oftentimes confused and used synonymously, but they are not the same thing. But I digress. No, what all this "red pill" stuff got me thinking about was the genre of "fantasy fiction," which is more or less dominated by "Game of Thrones" right now. But there are other examples aplenty, and I (for one) love both to write and to read fantasy fiction. It wasn't until I started to read all this "red pill" stuff online though that I truly started seeing how a lot of fantasy fiction written by men is filled with "red pill" qualities. So (for that matter) are video games like World of Warcraft and other such things.

In these fantasy worlds, which oftentimes are based in some kind of world that is similar (or borrows strongly from) the medieval periods of Europe and Asia, you can read exceptional tales of fictional lives that are literally filled to the brim with something lacking in a lot of lives: meaning and purpose. What a concept, right? In many of these stories, women (for the most part) need to be saved a lot, whether it is from rapes from monsters and other such evil creatures, or from tyrants or other such bad agencies. I suppose that a lot of fantasy (in fact) rests on the trope of good vs. evil, but even if it doesn't (such as that presented by George R.R. Martin), it does need to have constant conflict between groups (think the warring kingdoms of Westeros) because only in conflict can men really prove how masculine and mighty they are. I started to think that this may be a reason why games like World of Warcraft and the fantasy genre (typically awash with nerds) are so popular with men as are gaming and comic book conventions (which also have a greater percentage of men than they do women). In other words, I started to think that because our country is so safe (let's face it peeps...in comparison to other countries the U.S. as a whole is a pretty darn uneventful place to live). To clarify, I'm not saying that the U.S. doesn't have its problems with crime and punishment, inequality, justice, etc. What I'm saying is that we are not war-torn, nor do we have a widespread problem regarding access to food and water and other such necessities. Americans for the most part, have the ability to enjoy a concept called "free time," which means that (as a society) some of us even experience boredom on a regular basis. But a side-effect of all of this free time is that a lot of young people no longer have purpose and meaning.

Enter in the epic fantasy, whether it be presented as a role-playing game, a video game, a fictional book of a thousand pages written by George R.R. Martin, or some virtual reality thing that I have never yet seen, and I suddenly realize what's going on here. It's a "red pill" dreamland. In these entertainments, men feel powerful when (I'm beginning to suspect) they don't feel powerful in real life anymore. In other worlds, in our society there's no one that really needs to be saved anymore in some "dramatic" way. There are no dragons to slay. The modern way of "saving" someone is to get a job and turn over a paycheck, which has far less appeal than raiding the horde of an ogre.

Anyway, all of this collapsed into an idea that popped into my head about why boys don't read fiction anymore (for the most part). Sure there are still some of us out here that do, but it got me to thinking that if publishers want to have boys read fiction then they're going to need to make stories wherein (when a boy reads it) he feels powerful. It sounds pathetic, right? Why do men need to feel powerful? But it is something I'd like to open for debate to see if anyone else has noticed this. In any event, we live in interesting times.

Monday, September 18, 2017

The Game of Thrones animated series launches December 12 and it packs a lot of information even if the CGI is bad.

In the gulf that exists between now and whenever the final season of Game of Thrones arrives on HBO, we now have a storybook-style animated series called Game of Thrones Conquest & Rebellion. The first episode, which is about four minutes long, actually explains A LOT about Westeros that I never got from the books or from the television series. It's probably been explained by George R.R. Martin at some point in his encyclopedic books that he's put out, but I've only purchased those as gifts for other people and never for myself. It's one of the things I plan to change in the near future.

So, I watched the first episode. The animation is clunky but the narration is pretty great. It's narrated by actor Harry Lloyd whom (if you remember the first season of GoT) played Dany's brother Viserys who received a "golden crown" of death from Khal Drogo. For what it's worth, Harry Lloyd has excellent pronunciation, and I think I could listen to him for hours narrating word after word.

The whole mini-series is 45-minutes long and is available as a bonus gift for pre-ordering the Game of Thrones season 7 blu-ray. I think I'm going to just try and track the others down online and see if I can watch them.

You might be asking, what did I learn in this first four minutes that I already didn't know?

I learned a little more about the Doom that came to Valyria, and that everyone apparently could just fly around on dragons. I thought it was something that only the noble houses of Valyria could do. I also learned that the Targaryens somehow knew that the Doom was coming, and they fled ahead of it to the isle of Dragonstone. That was interesting. They brought with them the know-how to build the fortress and then Aegon and his two sisters surveyed the nation of Westeros from the sky in order to commission a gigantic map (you see it in Stanis's war room in Dragonstone). I also learned the names of the ancient great houses. I didn't know that the Starks were the oldest house. I suppose I could have put that together, but I never did. I just knew they were a powerful house and ruler of the largest kingdom of the seven (if not the most sparsely populated).

The episode is definitely worth a watch, and I've embedded it below for your convenience. Who knows? If it's popular enough maybe HBO will explore it in live action through another Game of Thrones-esque series in the same world.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The theme for Star Trek Discovery does not build into anything grand yet...it shows promise.

This is the new title theme from Star Trek: Discovery. For the record, I liked all the themes from the various Star Trek's with the exception of Enterprise. I just found the electric guitar and vocals to be too jarring for me to fall in love with the Rod Stewart-esque beginning for Enterprise. My favorite beginning is the one for Deep Space Nine. 
If you like music, you should click play and listen to the whole thing. Seriously, just do it. Here are my thoughts after having listened to it:

1) It shows promise. For Star Trek, I want the main theme to draw me into the grandeur and wonder of the world of Trek. I want to be immersed. And yes, Enterprise didn't do this for me.

2) The theme needs to be memorable. This particular one is not as beautiful as DS9 or Voyager's, but I think it'll do. It may grow on me.

3) I'm not completely sold on the trombones at about 1:58. I think they'd be better served at the beginning and not the end. Just my opinion as it is the classic Star Trek theme.

4) Does it seem to have a Game of Thrones influence from about 1:11 on? Listen and let me know.

5) Overall, it seems a little choppy. To clarify, the opening notes give way to a small ostinato which you expect to build to something but doesn't. And then the Alexander Courage fanfare (original Star Trek theme) just cuts it off. But really, it's hard to do better than Dennis McCarthy.

Now if you have time, compare the above theme to the below theme from Deep Space Nine as played by the City of Prague Philharmonic and as composed by Dennis McCarthy. Needless to say, I have always loved the DS9 theme because it has trumpets! It has power! It has majesty! Anyways...this new one is going to have to grow on me. Sigh...I suppose I'm a music snob.

Monday, September 11, 2017

The Orville is basically a polished version of Star Trek minus any dignity

Dignity is probably over-rated anyway. If you disagree, you probably won't like The Orville. I, however, did end up liking it quite a bit. Living modern seems to lack all kinds of dignities these days. Even minus a president who will say anything that comes to his mind, we have a culture where it is no longer considered "crossing a line" to just ask people how much they make or spent on something (even if you don't know them), to ask them if they masturbate, or to air entire arguments between couples on Facebook (or for that matter broadcasting it on Facebook Live) So The Orville seems particularly timely because it does all of those things, refusing to back away from its crew needing to "take a piss" or from talking about a messy divorce that's broadcast over the loud speakers. Truth be told...I don't particularly like the fact that nothing is taboo in our culture anymore. For one, I kind of liked it back when people had manners and said "thank you" or used the word "please." But it is what it is, right? Maybe all the grossness of life being aired like it is on reality television is the remedy for a culture that (otherwise) might tend to glamorize life. It's the "anti-glamorization" movement so to speak. And I think it found a good representative in Seth McFarlane.

Seth is an interesting guy. A creative genius he no doubt is, but he also seems to have some incredible clout with Fox. He was the one that got Neil deGrasse Tyson's reboot miniseries of Cosmos to get made, and it doesn't surprise me that Fox clearly threw a huge budget behind The Orville (as well as giving it a coveted Sunday night air time). The powers that be seem to love Seth McFarlane. The Orville looks very slick and polished too. It has a big budget feel to it, putting to shame any Star Trek series's special effects that I've seen to date. We'll see how this fall's Star Trek: Discovery measures up. However, I have a feeling though that they'll be fairly comparable as far as visual effects go. I just hope Star Trek: Discovery is more nuanced, takes itself seriously, and has a slower pace. I miss a slower pace guys...everything these days seems to be made for people with attention deficit disorder. With The Orville, I felt a little breathless as every scene seemed to be jam-packed with action.

As far as an homage to Star Trek goes, I liked it a lot. But The Orville does go where Star Trek never did: it dared to poke fun at it's own crazy ideas. We get introduced to an invention which has the ability to create a bubble of time wherein everything else inside that bubble gets aged a hundred years. As a scientist points out...the implications are huge in that you could grow crops in a single night for a city of starving people or other similar uses. But they use it to age a banana into dust and to grow a redwood tree mixed with tardigrade DNA (so that it can survive in space without food or water) to destroy a spaceship. It works but again...without much dignity. It's funny of course. I just wonder how long they can keep it up before the slapstick becomes kind of tedious. Can you imagine the reception audiences would have given forth if the "Genesis project" had been treated with such abandon?

And this makes me beg a question to the public at large: is a theme of space any fun over a long haul when it is done tongue in cheek? Humor kills drama, and drama is the bread and butter of any traditional one hour television show. Would Law and Order have any of its impact if all the scripts were performed in such a way as to be slapstick and without dignity? I'm not sure that it would. So it'll be interesting to see how my feelings toward The Orville develop over the course of the season. Will they deepen or will I be glad to see it go?

Anyway, what did you guys think of it (if you watched it)? Are you going to continue with the show on Sunday night? Or did it just rub you the wrong way? I'm looking forward to reading your comments.

Friday, September 8, 2017

These Studio Ghibli Hayao Miyazaki prints are just stunning and I want them all.

These Studio Ghibli/Hayao Miyazaki prints are just stunning. I really want some of them, but getting things custom framed can really break the bank. I recently had one oversized picture triple matted and framed with museum quality glass and it weighed in around $800. It's totally worth it...but there's only so many of those a man can afford. And if I can't afford to get a picture framed, I might as well not even have it at all.
"Night Falls on the Spirit Realm"
The Forest Spirit
Atop the Camphor Tree
Gutiokipanja Bakery
If you are a fan of Miyazaki's work, check out the prints on THIS PAGE.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

For today's insecurity I confess that I have a bad romance for first person perspective.

Today is the first Wednesday of September, so it is officially Insecure Writer's Support Group day. As usual, I'm going to tackle the question which is:
Have you ever surprised yourself with your writing? For example, by trying a new genre you didn't think you'd be comfortable in??
The answer is "Yes," and I surprised myself when I wrote a story in first person. I didn't think I'd like it, and (at the time) I actually really got into it. But then with time, I fell out of love with first person. Is it okay to have a "bad romance" with first person? There are days when I'm so on board with it, and then there are days when I really can't stand it. I'm not sure what's my deal I suppose.

And it's that way when I'm reading too. For example, I loved first person in the Iron Druid series, and then I fell out of love with it and stopped reading the books. At some point, I'll probably go back to them, but by then I might be in love with first person again. Ugh. I totally don't make any sense. Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Warner Brothers is making a streaming service and a live action Teen Titans series is on the slate

I know I've railed against everything having its own streaming service, and Warner Brothers starting their own just added one more rock to the pile. It would be tempting to say that there's nothing that Warner Brothers has right now that would make me want to subscribe to their streaming service. However, at some point in 2018 it has been announced that there is going to be a live-action Teen Titans. The only actress I know who has been cast is for the role of Starfire, and that goes to Anna Diop.

Starfire was never my favorite character. However, she was pretty dang cool with orange skin, an asymmetrical costume (a lot of artists get this wrong), and the ability to channel really powerful blasts of energy through her hands. We're talking Cyclops (from the X-Men) level energy blasts...enough to level buildings or destroy other such landmarks. She also could fly, and the way she was drawn, her jet stream just kind of emitted from her hair (it sounds silly now but it actually looked pretty cool in the comic book panels). For most of the comics that I read, she was in love with Dick Grayson, a.k.a., Nightwing, a.k.a. the first Robin from the dynamic duo of Batman and Robin. She was also known as Princess Koriander, which I thought was a really nice-sounding name.

My favorite character of the Teen Titans has always been Raven. The daughter of Trigon the Terrible, she is a follower of Azar's teachings (a goddess that was killed by Trigon). Azar was basically a comic-book version of Buddha and Raven was always trying to suppress the evil that was inside her (and was of course inexplicably linked to Trigon the Terrible). Raven had some very unique powers. For one, she had a soul self that was black that she could use to carry people and things in (like a massive handbag to an alternate dimension). Anything inside that soul self was subject to her full mind control powers. In one comic book, she even had Starfire inside waiting to surprise a villain that Raven captured (and they ended up fighting in the expanse of Raven's soul). Raven could also teleport around and she (of course?) had mind control similar to Jean Grey.

With that said and out of the way, yes I'm very excited. However, I want to rant about streaming services yet one more time. This is yet another streaming service that I will have to pay for to get a single TV show. I sincerely hope that everyone trying to manage their own streaming teat is going to have negative results, forcing them to realize that it's easier and more cost-efficient to just let Netflix or Hulu handle it. I don't love paying subscriptions to a billion different streaming services (and I think there are some people who are also in my same basket of thought about this).

If anything is to blame, it's because too many people bitched about cutting the cable and wanting everything a la carte. So yeah...that's what we're getting stuck with. I think some people will figure out that when you want everything that the a la carte menu offers, it ends up costing the same as just buying it whole, but without all the hassle. In the meantime, I guess I'll just plan on going broke trying to manage streaming services.