Well, it seems that I managed to break my publishing streak by 1 day. Of course that is primarily because of the fact that I overslept yesterday morning, but that's okay. At least I think so.
Truth be told, I don't really have much of anything to talk about from this past week. I went and saw Law Abiding Citizen (highly recommended) and purchased the Star Trek DVD (again, highly recommended) but with the holiday and then having to rake my yard (25 bags of pine straw/leaves!) I didn't have a whole lot of time.
Sadly, the anime that I have taken an interest in this season has been culled down to just 11 Eyes (and yes, I'm a horrible, horrible, episodic blogger, I know) so I don't even really have that to talk about.
BUT I have gotten my Fate of the Jedi: Abyss review written, and will have it posted up probably later in the week. Additionally, I've read through Death Troopers for the first time, and have started on its second read through in order to write its review.
Well, that's it for this week, now I just need to sit down and watch last week's Stargate Universe.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Well, it seems that I managed to break my publishing streak by 1 day. Of course that is primarily because of the fact that I overslept yesterday morning, but that's okay. At least I think so.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
I'm a geek. I know it. I don't feel any shame, but I do have to fight the urge to make somewhat... random purchases of those things which tickle that inner magpie which lurks in the hearts of all Otaku.
And that magpie nature works for traditional geeks such as myself to those whose geek-dom involves things such as sports. After all, we have NASCAR ornaments for the Christmas tree right next to the Star Wars ones, thanks to my Beloved Wife's inner Otaku in relation to some blue and silver race car.
So, it's not that big of a surprise that I saw this pretty thing run across my RSS Reader and commenced drooling. After all it's a 1/350th scale reproduction of the Space Battleship Yamato. I mean, how utterly cool and awesome is that?!?!
And it even comes with light-up engines (via a remote control no less!), and a number of the space battle planes that were used in the anime.
Over all, I have to say that the Yamato is one of the coolest space ship designs (if not necessarily the most practical).
Monday, November 23, 2009
Hmm... well, I'm still in the process of re-reading Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi: Abyss in order to write its review. Sadly, the book has not even lived up to my memories of how it read the first time. It's bad mojo when a book does not age well.
Anyways, because these first FotJ novels were micro-books (in related to most other modern SF works I read) it shouldn't be too much longer before I have this second read-through done, and the book ready for review.
Also, Death Troopers should be arriving from Amazon in the next couple days, so good times there.
Something I have done though is gone back and re-watched one of my favorite animes from recent history: True Tears.
This is a story that has aged well. It's still a story about love, and change, and those that inspire us. I enjoyed it as much today, as I did during my first viewing of it, even thought I knew who was going to end up with who by the end of things; additionally, that foreknowledge allowed me to pick up on a few extra hints as to which way the story was heading earlier on.
And Noe still reminds me of my Beloved, just in the sheer vibrancy that she approached life, as well as the somewhat.... randomness which that vibrancy exhibited itself.
But in the end that's all okay.
Ah, well, I've blathered on enough for this morning, for now I'm off to work, but as I said, I'll be getting the Abyss review up soon, and hopefullly other things here and there as I find time for them.
Monday, November 16, 2009
Well, that was a busy weekend. My dad's 60th birthday was on Sunday, so someones in the family decided that it was a fine time for a birthday party.
A couple of pertinent facts here:
- I hate traveling.
- I live 5 hours away from my family
- Did I mention that "hate traveling" bit?
That said, it was a fun-filled, geek weekend. To start, as my Beloved Wife was driving down to Pensacola on Friday night, we were behind a tanker trailer for the better part of an hour. Now, normally, this wouldn't be that much of an issue, but due to the exact distance that my wife was pacing said trailer at, and the fact that it was night, the circle of the tanker was lit up.
So, after a while--and utterly out of the blue--my Beloved Wife said, "You know, that looks like a Stargate."
I glanced out the window, and realize that yes, it does kind of look like a stargate. Which is when two things hit me:
- My wife made a geek reference
- My wife made said geek reference before me
Oh, I do so love my Beloved Wife, especially as she becomes more and more... well, geek-i-fied.
So, the birthday party went off without a hitch. We were able to surprise my dad without giving him a heart attack, so good times right there, and I spend most of Saturday morning with my elder brother, his kid and my kids, in which we had a grand discussion on anime.
And my Beloved Wife, as you're reading this, I'll have you note that HIS wife watches some of the anime with him.
Ah well, such was my time spent this weekend, and now I must go forth and toil in the exciting world of software engineering....
Monday, November 9, 2009
Wow, it was a fun-filled weekend in my household.
It was my youngest son's birthday, and my wife is a firm believer in the concept that every birthday should be celebrated with as many people as possible.
So, we had a party at a park. The little megalomaniacal Ewok had two friends his own age show up, and we had a few older kids for his elder brother to play with as well, so fun was had by all. Of course the pizza left me with a bit of indigestion, but that's kind of expected, what with it being pizza and all.
Of course such things as family celebrations cut into the very important GEEK TIME that I have, and as such I failed to read Abyss for the second time (a requirement for its very late review). Yet, I was able to get caught up on Stargate Universe and Sanctuary. These are both shows that I'm enjoying immensely, though my beloved finds SGU a bit... boring at times.
So, I've got to review a couple of episodes of 11Eyes and Abyss, and then I feel the need to take my eldest to see Astroboy sometime soon, but if his behavior doesn't improve that may not get to happen.
Also something that should be happening soon is me getting a phone upgrade. I'm currently looking at the new Verizon Droid, as it is a great phone device (I played with one on 11/6 which was "Droid Day") and since I'm on Verizon I would be able to keep my plan. Nice, "win-win" thing here.
I'm also very interested in the accessories that are rumored to go with this device. Things such as a table-top dock or a car dock both of which will make them switch into relevant modes. The car-dock transforms the UI into what supposedly looks like a standard GPS device while the home view for the table-top mode is an alarm-clock.
The car-dock is retailing for about $30 while the table-top dock has yet to be released.
And of course I'm in the process of downloading Eclipse and the ANDROID SDK in order to see what type of fun and games I can cook up for this highly interesting piece of hardware.
We live in interesting times.... at least for us geeks...
Monday, November 2, 2009
Gah! I now have two episodes of 11Eyes which I need to review. Frankly, I suck at episodic reviewing, mainly because I get so easily distracted by other things--like Crunchyroll's collection of anime.
Basically, I re-watched Myself;Yourself over the past few days and realized just how.... freaky some of the character arcs are in that thing. Especially the one revolving around the Watsuki twins
On the children front, the Beloved Wife and I got yet another example of our youngest having an affinity for megalomaniacs. Remember, this is the kid who's favorite character to play-act as from the Star Wars franchise is Emperor Palpatine.
So, Sunday after church we all went to Burger King. Well, their current kid's meal toy promotion is for some Spongebob thing. We got two, a Plankton and a Patrick.
That crisis of differing toys averted, my wife handed them out. Then a moment later glanced at me, her head shaking slightly, as she realized that once again the youngest chose the bad guy as his toy-of-choice.
I fear that my son may be the reason that Real Life Super-Heroes are starting to pop up....
Monday, October 26, 2009
It doesn't take long to find a conversation about when the appropriate time to watch the Star Wars movie for kids is. In fact, if you pop in the phrase "when should kids watch stars wars" into Google, you quickly come back with some results, and once you scroll past the Amazon and Walmart adds there is the question being asked by a Mommy Blog and a Dad-Blog (a perennial favorite entitled Geek Dad).
Now, I can admit that I held off the movies, despite my unending love for the things for my eldest child. He was 4 or so before he really sat down and watch one of the movie and around 6 before he watched episode 3 for the first time (and that was an "edited-for-TV" version at that).
My youngest though, well my youngest got to see the movies by virtue of being there while my eldest watched. There was no not letting him watch since Brother was there doing so.
Which leads me to responses to both of the blogs listed above:
GEEK DAD: Both of my boys are obsessed with Geek and Star Wars. If you raise a child to love the Geek he'll love the geek. If you raise a child to love sports he'll love sports. My boys, well, they get a geek dad and a sports-loving mom, as such they can be seen imagining a fight between Jimmy Johnson and Darth Vader.
The Mommy Files: Let your kid grow up. For centuries, children were raised with the specter of death and destruction. Classic fairy tales (not the Disney-fied wimp stuff seen today) featured scenes as gruesome (if not more so) than what is featured in the Star Wars series.
Well, now that I've got that out of the way, you may be wondering why on earth I'm bringing this up now? And it relates back to the fact that my youngest son (who's like two-weeks from turning 3) has watched the entire series multiple times, including Revenge of the Sith.
So, he's very familiar with the scenes and the dialog (and his favorite character to play-act as is Palpatine), as it has long been a tradition in my wife's family to quote movies.
Well last night, after bath time, I dropped the youngest on the couch next to my Beloved while dealing with getting the elder through the ritual. After the elder was settled and soaking, I returned to the living room and found my youngest standing on the couch over his mother (who was watching the Florida/Miss. State game at the time), and then he announced:
I have the high ground.
Which of course means that he wins the battle; and he let us know that as well.
After I recovered from my laughter, I dropped onto the couch beside the Beloved Wife and she glared at me for a moment before saying, "You've ruined our children you know. Ruined."
I wisely refrained from reminding her that it was actually her that allowed the youngest to watch that particular movie for the first time.
But fundamentally, she's right.
I set out to raise children who had the same passions and drives as I do, and a big part of that desire to learn, and build the future is tied up into SFF and other geek culture. I firmly believe that it's the geek in me that forces me to question things to the level that I do. Books such as Fahrenheit 451, Starship Troopers and Foundation formed a core of my intellectual development while things such as Star Wars and The Princess Bride and Tolkien's works built the framework upon which my imagination rides.
So I'm glad that my son has the high ground.
Here's to hoping that he keeps it.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
First off, I got to say I like the opening sequence. I'm not sure why, it's just a mixture of the visuals and the music, but I like it. At the same time, the ending credits just don't do that much for me. I think the ending is a bit more melancholy than the opening and I'm just not into the emo at the moment.
But, I've got to admire at least one choice in character design here, blonde/light brown hair, blue eyes, and glasses—so reminiscent of my beloved. Which brings to mind something interesting, I tend to enjoy a series more if there's a character who reminds me of my wife. Think Noe from True Tears or Ayame from Asu no Yoichi.
With that digression out of the way, I enjoyed the episode, though I wished the exposition that the group managed to spout out had provided a bit more answers. That said, I do understand the need for building suspense. I just wish they could build it a bit more…quickly?
What gets me is the way that the girls around here seem to… gravitate around the male lead. Yuka I can understand, she's obviously set up from the very beginning as a romantic interest, but then how the Shrine girl and the Exchange student girl react to him… well, it's odd to say the least. If that's just a hang-over from the source material, I think they could have integrated the story a bit better.
The episode begins with our two heroes running from the turd-monsters, and then once again surrounded as the sky breaks.
After the opening, we find out that that shattering thing was just a fake oiut, and they're still in the red-night, and still surrounded by the turds. Then a sword comes flying in, and Shrine-girl is there for the rescue. Small talk ensues, and the turd-call wails out, and then we see some girl stuck in a giant crystal. Then some running and exposition about powers, and we find out that Shrine girl's name is Misuzu.
Then the trio get into another fight with the turd monsters, and Pigpen-girl is shown beating folks up with the chains. And the Trio are running again, and Kakeru wants to go "save her" even though none of them know who "her" is. Then Kakeru's eye starts hurting making him collapse. When he stands up, they see this chick with swords fro hands and bunches of red eyes who tells them that they can't go any further.
The trio makes it to the giant crystal girl who begs them to save her because she's been captured. Misuzu—wisely if you ask me—wonders why on earth they should be doing so, but Kakeru is all like "Misuzu has the right idea," but Yuka speaks up and says that they should save her.
About this time, the other talking demons (for lack of a better term) show up, and we find out that shrine girl's magic doesn't work around the crystal.
And then the main bad guy tells us all that Kakeru is all important as he signals Kakeru for death via Scissor Hands
Then we see the school nurse and some grey-haired kid comes in and drops onto a bed, and they flirt with one another.
Then we switch back tot he Trio and find that they've been deposited back into the real world, in the middle of a shopping mall.
So of course they go and get a burger, as that's what teens do whenever they're in a mall.
Then Misuzu asks Kakeru to take off his eye patch, and when she sees his yellow eye, she gets a special feeling in her special place. And I wish I was making that up. As Kakeru put his eye away, Misuzu asks Yuka if she "felt that too." Again, I wish I was making that up.
So Yuka and Misuzu are walking home, and they have a moment, and Yuka hugs him, and he gets that special feeling. Though this one is more of the murderous intent of the bad guy.
Then the comic relief shows up and tackles Kakeru. Once he's back on his feet, Kakeru looks up and things he sees Pigpen—or his sister, but it turned out to be Shiori (the exchange student from the previous episode). Then Yuka notices that Shiori and Kakeru are giving each other their… well it's not "angry eyes."
And we get another scene change, with Kakeru going into where he works to tell his boss that he won't be in that night, and he finds a girl in a maid/waitress outfit who is apparently a new hire. Kakeru notices that she has a cut on her hand. Maid girl quickly shoves her hand behind her back, and introduces herself as Hirohara Yukiko—and quite forwardly instructs these two whom she had just met to call her by her first name, and kind of forces them to allow her to use their first names.
Maid girl then makes and serves them coffee, and as she does so, we see her wound bubble away to flawless skin.
And another scene change, and it's Kakeru dropping Yuka off at her house, and she tells Kakeru that pigpen/sister they had seen at the park before the red night was an hallucination. then they hug and he tells her again that he's going to protect her.
And look, another scene change! This time it's blue flames, and a first person perspective as someone is walking to a chair. Then hands are touching and there's heavy breathing, and Kakeru wakes up.
Then Kakeru is in the school library and finds a book titled "The Maiden of Crystal Palace." Then Yuka shows up and they talk about researching it, and one hopes they're talking about the Red night. Well Kakeru pulls down the book, and sees pigpen/his big sister on the other side of the stacks.
he rushes around, and finds a note that states that he was the one who woke up the demons, and he collapses in pain from his golden eye.
And then there's the ending credits.
Finally, we see Yuka trying to comfort the still in pain Kakeru, and then gets all freaky. Kakeru notices that, and turns to look outside and there is the black/red moon, even though they're not in the red-night world.
Monday, October 19, 2009
In June, 1954, the master of the Golden Age of Science Fiction, Isaac Asimov, wrote the Caves of Steel. Fundamentally, it was a mystery novel with science fiction elements. One of those elements, is the "caves of steel" which are huge city-complexes covered by metal domes and supporting tens of millions of people.
Now, why would I be writing about this?
Well, that's because a team of engineers have plans on how to protect the city of Houston, which involves a giant dome. I read the the little bit of text associated with it and I'm in awe.
While it's not STEEL (rather it's a type of plastic) the thought of a city encased in a giant dome, and housing literally millions of people just utterly appeals to the SF geek in me.
I mean, if they do it, it'd be worth going to see, just to say that I was in one of Asimov's Caves of Steel.
Well, the eldest offspring and I went on a Cub-Scout camping trip. In the middle of the country.
In what was effectively 40 degree weather.
That felt like 20.
All in all, despite the fact that it was evilly cold, the eldest had quite a good time. In fact, he absolutely adored it. He spent hours running around with his pack mates, shot an bow and arrow and a BB rifle.
Sadly, the youngest apparently spent the entire time me an the elder were gone hunting around the house for me and the eldest child.
Well, after the campout ended, me and the eldest spent a bit of time fishing (read: losing lures on rocks/limbs/etc)—so of course the boy was interested in fish and what not.
On the way home from dinner my eldest once again asked what happened to his goldfish on the move from Pensacola to the frozen wastes of Mississippi. This is a question that's been brought up a few dozen times over the past two years, and the Beloved Wife soundly informed him that we had already answered said question and he knew what had been done with the thing.
To which he instantly responded "So, we ate it?"
How could we not laugh about such.
Anyways, what with my weekend involving woods, mud, and cold weather as opposed to the more traditional cartoons, geekery and the internets, I didn't spend a lot of time thinking/doing/watching GEEK stuff. BUT on Sunday night me and the Beloved Wife did watch The Haunting of Sorority Row. A perfectly amusing Lifetime "horror" movie.
Which of course is keyword for a standard Lifetime movie plot plus ghosts. It's the type of thing which makes one long for Mansquito.
Anyways, expect to see my review for 11Eyes episode 2 sometime soon, as well as me getting the new Star Wars novel Death Troopers.
Well, that's enough for this week, for now, it's time to get to work…
Monday, October 12, 2009
There's been a lot of comments out amongst the anime blogs about how this show feels like a rip-off of Persona, and fundamentally, I can see it.. I can see it, much the same way that I can see how Gundam is a rip off of Macross or Battlestar Galactica is a rip-off of Star Wars. Which is to basically say that just because something uses simliar tropes, and has a similar conceit, doesn't mean that it doesn't have it's own story to tell.
In fact, I personally think that this was the strongest of all the openings from the Fall Season (but I've not seen EVERY thing that's coming out this season yet). I'm interested in the character, and think that this particular set of leads is much better than that the pair that we get in say Sacred Blacksmith.
Additionally, I like the character designs here, at least for our erstwhile protagonists. The antagonists appear to leave a lot to be desired--but that's more of my own personal preference as opposed to any inherent problems with the design.
In the end, there's not a whole lot that goes on here, as it's primarily introducing the main characters and gives us a hint of the primary concept of what's going to happen.
Hopefully, the rest of the episodes here will continue to live up to my expectations.
The episode begins with a flashback, showing some odd things happening between a brother and sister, and the boy's friend, where the boy is seriously hurt and the sister falls down dead. Then we get the opening credits.
After the Opening, we get this shrine maiden who is playing with fire, in order to see visions... or something. Then we find the hero of the show (Kakeru) sitting on top of the school's roof staring at the moon. He's joined momentarily by one of the females of the show, Yuka. Then we find out that Kakeru's older sister is the girl from the flashback at the start, but he way it's shown there isn't exactly how she appeared to die in the original flashback.
Then we're shown another girl.
Then it's back to Kakeru and Yuka as they meet up with two (Tadashi and Kaori) of their friends from school and have random talking designed to show the tsundere elements of Kaori and the idiocy of Tadashi--but hey, Kakeru likes talking to them.
Then it's a talk about sales.
And then there is some ramblings on why Yuka doesn't live at the orphanage any more. Oddly, I got the feeling that Kakeru does not live at the orphanage anymore either, but that's never actually touched upon.
Then they decide that yes, they'll go to the sale. Which, makes Yuka extremely happy.
So, they're on this bridge and well.... flashy lights happen. and the sky turns red, and the rivers run with blood, and a third of the people are stirken.... no, wait that's the Revelation of Saint John. But the skies do turn red and suddenly all the other people have disappeared.
Which is when Yuka realizes that it's probably affected her parents as well. So they backtrack to Yuka's house, and as Yuka is crying because her parents are gone, Kakeru sees something moving around, and they take off at a run.
The stop for a moment and one of the things appears, and screams bringing more of them.
Well, Yuka screams and the world shatters and suddenly the people are back and the sky isn't red any more.
Then you get the scene where everyone is staring at Kakeru as he's holding the now unconscious Yuka.
Then Rome is on fire which wakes up Kakeru. Or maybe it was Yuka, but a girl and a destructive cataclysm are much the same thing at times.
The two then talk, and discuss things like being scared and how cute Kakeru is while sleeping. And yes, it is as... disjointed as that.
Then we get to see some other guy. Just walking to school and ignoring some girl.
Then it's a back to Yuka and Kakeru and a cloud scares Yuka... which is understandable when the last time she saw clouds covering the sky it was because they were turning red and stuff. They talk some more and Yuka cries.
Then the bell rings, and the camera pans over to see Pigpen from Charlie Brown... but it's a girl.
Then the class is being introduced to a new exchange student who gives Kakeru the freaky eyes. Something pointless involving Tadashi happens and the new girl walks over to Kakeru just in time to make Yuka faint. So, Kakeru carries her to the infirmary.
Where they run into the guy from earlier, who's a bit rude. Then the school nurse shows up, and asks Kakeru about his eye, and Yuka if she's dating Kakeru.
Then we get to see the red headed shrine maiden again... and oh look, she goes to the same school of course.
Then it's after school and our two heroes are walking home, and Kakeru asks Yuka if she wants to go shopping. Then we see Pigpen again.
And Kakeru turns down a free meal and talks about stuffed penguins with Yuka.
Then they're at the bridge from earlier, and decide to take the long way around due to the freakishness from earlier. Then it's a shopping montage and we see Pigpen and transfer girl.
Then they're in a park, and the girl who was terrified/embarrassed to discuss the CONCEPT of Kakeru being her boyfriend with the school nurse, somewhat brazenly asks said boy to lay his head on her lap.
Then they're all happy, and roses--which of course means that they see Pigpen again and then the world shatters and does that whole red skies thing with the turd monsters.
Then, once they're surrounded we get a screen shot of something even odder than the turd monsters, but these things can talk.
Once that is over, the turd-monster attacks and then it's time for the ending credits.
Wait, after the ending credits, there's a scene were Kakeru is futilely beating a turd monster and Yuka is getting restrained by a tentacle. At which time I smack my forehead and am incredibly glad that this thing doesn't air a few hours later in the night. Then it's the preview for next week's episode.
And it is yet again, a Monday morning. My sons are home today (as it's Columbus Day here in America) and by the time that I had left for work, were already half way through (what I'm sure will be one of many) their first viewing of Monster's Inc. Fantasy rocks.
Well, the main geek things I did this weekend were watching the episodes of Stargate: Universe and Sanctuary. I've got to say that this latest crop of SciFi (or SyFy for the politically correct) shows is utterly awesome.
Then of course, I've been watching the first episodes of the fall season of anime, and folks can expect my review for the first episode of 11Eyes fairly soon.
But for now, it's time for me to run off to work.... Bills to pay and all that...
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Jacob Parker of The Yodeling Dwarf left a comment on a post earlier about a book giveaway which his blog is performing. It's a hard-cover copy of Curse of the Spider King, and you can enter here by signing up for Mr. Parker's (who apparently has his own book in the works/about to be published) newsletter.
Amazon describes Curse of the Spider King thus:
The Seven succeeding Elven Lords of Allyra were dead, lost in the Siege of Berinfell as babes. At least that's what everyone thought until tremors from a distant world known as Earth, revealed strange signs that Elven blood lived among its peoples. With a glimmer of hope in their hearts, sentinels are sent to see if the signs are true. But theirs is not a lone errand. The ruling warlord of Allyra, the Spider King, has sent his own scouts to hunt down the Seven and finish the job they failed to complete many ages ago.
Now 13-year-olds on the brink of the Age of Reckoning when their Elven gifts will be manifest, discover the unthinkable truth that their adoptive families are not their only kin. With mysterious Sentinels revealing breathtaking secrets of the past, and dark strangers haunting their every move, will the young Elf Lords find the way back to the home of their birth? Worlds and races collide as the forces of good and evil battle. Will anyone escape the Curse of the Spider King?Learn more about The Berinfell Prophecies at www.heedtheprophecies.wordpress.com. Create your own tribe. Connect with fans through the forum. Win pre-release chapters and the opportunity to have Wayne and Christopher at your very own book party!
Well, we (the Beloved Wife and I) watched Stargate: Universe last night, and I have to say that I truly enjoyed it. Which is great, as I was worried that SGU was just going to be the next season of Star Trek: Voyager.
There were a few parts where the story seemed to lag, and the editing and where they chose to stick commercials just flat out sucked, but those were relatively minor issues.
So, it appears I have a new show to watch, and with the second season of Sanctuary starting up on Friday, I seem to have even more TV watching to do.
Which is both awesome (SF on tv!) and sad (it's TV!) at the same time....
Monday, October 5, 2009
As I reported on Twitter a few days ago, my youngest fully announced that he needed to go to the Mothership.
I'm n0t entirely certain where he got Mothership from, as I don't remember there being one in Star Wars or the other SF movies/tv shows that he's seen. Of course this is the same kid that fairly regularly says "You've got to be kidding me," to the most random and odd things. Such as the fact that the chicken on his plate...is chicken.
Ah, I've got to love my children.
Especially when they're off somewhere for a few hours so me and the Beloved Wife can go see a movie. Which happened to be Pandorum. And I must say that I really enjoyed it. Despite (or maybe due to, I'm not sure yet) the overt "Video game" feel to the movie.
The other geek thing is that the fall season for anime has started up. I've caught the first episode of Kampfer and don't think that one will be sticking around, though if nothing more promising shows up then I may have to revisit that particular decision. Then I've also downloaded The Sacred Blacksmith and Nyan Koi! though I've not watched them.
Well, that's the state of this geek for the week....
Monday, September 28, 2009
I did something horribly mean to my youngest Saturday morning.
It was truly unintentional, and I felt really bad about it.
Despite the fact that I was laughing.
What happened was that we were in the Halloween section, and there was one of those life-sized, animatronics skeletons that chat people up when they walk near it. The official designation is a "Life-Size Skeleton Butler Halloween Décor. Basically, a 6-foot plastic skeleton in a suit and a top-hat and holding a candle-stick (it doesn't really say 'butler' to me, but what do I know?)
Well, this one happened to have one of those "Press me to try" buttons on a string, so I felt certain that it wasn't motion activated—or at least not currently since the "try me" tag was still in the thing.
So there I am, I snatched up my youngster, and began walking towards that annoying skeleton, as I'm saying "You want to give him a kiss?"
Now my boy—and he's two remember—is taking this all in stride. He's not laughing out loud, but kind of giggling slightly.
And as I moved closer to the thing, I became even more certain that the motion detector was offline, as as I walked towards it, bouncing my boy about in its line of sight, it was not doing anything.
Well, about the time we get around two inches from that skeleton's face, the thing apparently sensed the movement and activated.
Glowing red eyes.
And a voice.
Now, I wasn't expecting this thing to turn on, so I was a bit startled. I mean, this thing is popping on, more or less by its lonesome. My boy though… well…
My boy freaked.
I mean, really, really, freaked. We're talking "America's Favorite Home Video" level of freak. We're talking that kid watching the maze video on YouTube freak.
We're talking one of those shrill girly squeals.
His body nearly jumped out of my arms.
Just that whole, terrified pre-schooler routine.
Then he was clinging tightly to me sobbing, and I realized that I had moved ten feet back down the action alley and was whispering to him trying to get him to calm down.
A few minutes later, I took him back over to the thing and got him pushing the button to both start and stop it's routine. We got him touching the skeleton so that he could FEEL that it was plastic.
Of course that didn't stop him from discussing the monster the rest of the way through the store.
Monday, September 21, 2009
Sometimes, I wonder if I should forget this blog, and my others. I update far too randomly for my personal tastes, and I do have the best of intentions to update more.... I think I may need better scheduling or something. That may do it. We'll see.
Anyways, one of the things I do want to do is get back into episodic reviews of anime. In truth, I've not watched much of anything from this summer season (nothing really struck me as all that great, including the second season of The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi. I'm still on episode 14 of that.)
But, it's okay, because the fall '09 season is soon to start, and I'm doing my preliminary picking on what I'll try to watch now:
- Kampfer -- This one I'll at least give a shot to. Which means I'll get the first episode, and base my decision on those 22 minutes
- Nyan Koi -- just the description has amused me so I don't see how it could hurt to try it...
- 11eyes -- provided they keep the ecchi factor down, this has promise...
- Tatakau Shisho-The Book of Bantorra -- I'm going to have to give this one a try
- Seitokai no Ichizon -- I do have a soft-spot for slice-of-life comedies
- Inuyasha: The Final Act -- I will be watching this
- Seiken no Blacksmith -- I'll give it a try....
Beyond that, I have had a good geek time since my last post. I got to watch District 9 and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. And I even got a David Weber book, and a Star Wars novel (both of which I need to write reviews on, but I'm apparently a horribly lazy person so...).
Of course, I do have the standard set megalomaniac children going for me to ensure I keep my life filled with random bits of geekery.
I also have recently discovered that geekery is contagious.
It seems that my eldest son had a friend over a lot during this past summer, and now said friend is as excited and ecstatic and obsessive concerning lightsabers and Star Wars as my two boys are.
Personally, I think it's great fun.
His parents... not so much.
But hey, that's the joys of a life of geek-ness.
Now, if only I could get my youngest to root for the good guys as opposed to wanting to throw lightning around like Emperor Palpatine....
Monday, August 17, 2009
Sunday, August 9, 2009
After church and lunch today, we pawned the kids off on the MIL, and then me and the Beloved Wife went to see a movie (the new Harry Potter).
Well, after the movie was over (~6:45) we grabbed some dinner for ourselves, the boys and the MIL and went back to her house to eat. After some conversation and what not we finally left about 8:30 or so.
Not a problem, sure we like having the boys in bed by then, but it's summer, and being up late every now and then won't harm them.
But that's not the amusing part.
On the way home, the youngest, calls out, "Mommy, are there monsters in my bed?"
Of course, the Beloved Wife answers no, and I'm kind of smiling.
Then the youngest asks, "Mommy, are there monsters in my window?"
Again, with the negative response, and I'm still amused by how adorable the kid is.
A few minutes later, we get another question, "Mommy, are there monsters in my closet?"
Again, the Beloved Wife answers no, and I'm both trying to not laugh and wonder where he'll ask about monsters next.
Which apparently meant that the eldest son felt the need to step in with his words of wisdom.
"There are no monsters," he says, and I'm amused by it.
"Monsters are fake," he says a few moments later, and I almost point out that the younger munchkin probably doesn't understand what "fake" is.
"Monster's aren't real," he says before I get the chance to point out the fake bit, so I continue driving in silence.
"There are no monsters to scare you," is what appears next. I must admit to frowning, but I can't really see how this could be a bad statement, and above that I'm still amused.
Then it gets even better.
"There are no monsters to get you."
I didn't get a chance to respond before the elder is speaking again.
"There are no monsters to eat you."
My mouth opens to say something, but I'm still not fast enough.
"There are no monsters-"
Alas, what he was going to say is lost to the world, as I finally got my brain wrapped around what was happening, and I blurted out, "Little Man, stop trying to reassure your little brother!"
Silence reigned in the truck for about a quarter mile.
For a moment, I was hoping that the youngster hadn't picked up on things.
For a moment, I actually had that hope.
Then from the back seat, came my youngest son's voice, "Mommy? Are there monsters to eat me?"
Saturday, August 8, 2009
It's just one of those things that I do. I find it comforting.
Not all that manly I know, but it appeals to the engineer/geek in me. I mean it involves the mixing and blending of various compounds, and applying heat in order to create something useful.
But anyways, tonight, I baked cookies. Chocolate chip ones. They're gooey, and tasty.
And as usual when baking, it brings out the INTERESTING in my family.
There I was in the kitchen, and the smell was fairly strong as I'd checked on them just a minute or so before.
Then I looked into the living room, and saw my eldest son standing next to my Beloved Wife.
He looks at her, and says, "There was a tasty smell coming into my room."
I could tell that the Beloved Wife was trying her best not to laugh. "I know," she said to him, and then sent him to bed with dire warnings that he'd not receive any tomorrow if he didn't get himself to bed.
So, I'd finished the baking, and cooled the cookies enough to stash them into an air-tight container for storage over-night. You always want air-tight containers, as air is the hardening agent of the baked-goods world.
But I digress. After stashing the cookies, the Beloved Wife and I each ate one and a half of them. I was good, and went off to play on the internet.
Then the Beloved Wife walked into the bedroom (where my PC is) with a cookie in hand.
She glanced at me, and smiled, and said, "I had to liberate it."
"Because it was trapped. I couldn't handle the screams."
"Ah," I said, shaking my head slightly.
"What?" came her reply. "I'm a compassionate person. I had to stop the screams."
This received the raised eyebrow from me. "If you're a compassionate person, why did you decide to mash it into itty-bitty pieces with your teeth?"
Without missing a beat, came her reply: "It's stopped screaming."
I laughed. After all, what can one say to that?
Thursday, August 6, 2009
My youngest son has a new phrase that he's taken to saying, which I've given away via the title of this post.
Yes, the little play-actor walks about the house, and whenever something doesn't fit 100% into his plan, then it's "not the Jedi way."
He used it against his elder brother when said brother would not give up the toy he wanted to play with.
He used it against me when I made him eat his vegetables.
He even used it against the cat when she was laying on his Thomas couch.
Of course, the usage which I personally found the most humorous, was when he used it against my Beloved Wife. She of course, was not amused at the situation.
What had happened was that it was her morning to sleep in (we trade off mornings on getting up with our little Morning People). As it was a weekend, that meant she was actually able to sleep until 8:30 or thereabouts.
But all too soon--for the wife at least--it was time for her to get up and out of the bed, as we had things to do that day.
So of course, being the loving, and perfect husband that I am, I sicked the kids on her.
There I was, standing in the doorway--well out of arm's reach--as our children bounced on the bed, attempting to rouse my beautiful bride.
She of course, wanted nothing to do with this. And there, amidst the pleas and cajoling, and the "But Mom, it's time to get up!" was my youngest son, who was happily shaking his mom's shoulder.
The he pauses, and straightens up slightly, and declares in a loud voice, "Mommy, time to get up."
To which my wife replies something along the lines of, "not just yet."
So my son, then frowns, and says his line: "But Mommy, that's not the Jedi way."
As I said, I was amused.
As I said, my wife was less than. At least right at that particular moment.
Regardless, I did find a new toy online: The Hero Factory. It's been around for a while, I'm sure, but it's new to me, and I had to play with it.
The thing that amused me the most is the Title it gave the comic after I finished generating my "Hero." Apparently, I'm "The Talented FOUR EYED JEDI" -- one must love it.
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
I find myself in an odd sort of mood. First, I’ve changed the “Description” for this blog.
The reason is because over time, my focus has changed. While I’ve still pushed out a lot of geek-related stuff, more and more often, I find myself writing about my Beloved Wife and the munchkins.
As such, I figured I might as well formalize the concept into my blog’s description. Additionally, by accepting that this has a focus on my family, I’m able to write more, as I’ll often find myself with content which doesn’t fit into any of my three blogs.
Fundamentally, I’m basically becoming a “Daddy Blogger.”
Oh well, enough meta-talking.
After all, I have a story of my adorable children.
I took the Beloved Wife and my two geeks to a restaurant on Saturday. Not that big of a surprise, but it’s one that I had visited, while my wife and kids had never been. Since I loved their Sloppy Fries (home-made French fries covered in gravy and cheese), I decided that it would be a good thing to have some more.
So, there we are, sitting in this restaurant, and my wife looks about, before turning to me and informing me that ours were the only children in the entire place.
I saw no problem—after all, they HAD a kid’s menu, so it’s reasonable to assume that children are welcome.
Well that was my stance—a stance my wife has since corrected by clarifying that the kid’s menu needs at least 4 items, or provide a toy or crayons in order to be “kid appropriate.”
But I digress.
The important thing, for me at least, was that my youngest was doing what most nearly-three-year olds do and that was singing his favorite songs.
Well, because it had become so common over the past few weeks, I had not even noticed that the song he was “singing” lacked words. After all, John Williams’ songs are instrumental.
And yes, he was humming a John Williams’ song.
Which of course meant that all the adults that surrounded us were watching us.
I thoroughly enjoyed it.
My poor beleaguered wife though—she blamed me. Her words something along the lines of, how any child but mine would be singing a toddler song, but mine had to hum John Williams.
Of course I pointed out that it could be worse.
He could be singing something from The Wiggles.
Or the TeleTubbies.
Or that evil purple dinosaur.
But hey, at least I get my daily dose of John Williams…
Posted by Stephen Wrighton at 12:11 AM
Monday, July 20, 2009
I've got to admit that I'm in love with the Apple Store.
I firmly believe that every geek needs to visit one at least once in their lifetime. It's akin to Mecca for Muslims.
The Geek Mecca.
So of course a few weeks ago when my brother-in-law was in town I took him. And will take my own brothers the next time either of them come up for a visit.
And of course, when my boys get a bit older, I'll take them. After all, they are growing up to be fine geeks. Why just yesterday morning, the little one comes waltzing into the bedroom at 6 in the morning holding the Star Wars Episode III DVD case, demanding to be allowed to watch it.
While this was going on, his elder brother was in his room, playing a Star Wars video game.
And this morning, my wife showed me the toy that she found in our bed (apparently left there by our youngest). Yes, that is Ahsoka Tano.
My boys are adorable.
And my Beloved Wife is exasperated.
Though, if she's truly honest with herself, she loves it as much as I do.
All that said, I did hear some very interesting news regarding Stephen King's novel Cell. After the failure of a movie, there's discussion of turning it into a 4 hour (or thereabouts) TV Mini-Series.
Which is all sorts of WIN if you ask me.
Unfortunately, I've yet to actually make it to see the new Harry Potter--a sore point for me and the Beloved Wife, as we have failed (repeatedly) to find someone to watch over the children while we attend a 2+ hour movie. Especially, since the theater has poor show times (either at 8, which is right at bedtime, or at 10 which is too late for the Beloved Wife).
Alas, I'm sure we'll figure out a way to see it somehow. Even if it is that we must attend two separate showings...
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
I've been plugging away, keeping my inner-geek well fed on all sorts of geekery.
Namely, that I've purchased the Game-of-the-Year Edition of Oblivion.
And I've got to say that I'm adoring this game quite a bit. It's fun, it's immersive, and it's huge.
And I've not played the expansions that came with the game.
Nor have I installed any of the Mods or Patches which alter the game to N extent.
Ah the joys of a Geek with a New Toy.
Of course that's not the most amusing thing in my life at the moment. The most amusing--and heart-warming to this Old Geek--is that my sons are utter, and hopelessly corrupted into being Geeks.
There's no way around this for them. It's a part of who and what they are shaping into being.
Take last night for example. When I got home from work, Star Wars Episode III was playing. Which, having a Star Wars movie playing when I get home is a rather routine event. But still, we turned off the TV when dinner was prepped, and after dinner and a bath, my youngest turned the tv back on, just in time for the climatic duels at the end of the movie.
So of course he rummages through his collection of Star Wars figures until he has Obi-Wan and "Bad" Anakin. Which is over there to the right, and if you'll look closely, you'll see that he has the red/orange eyes of a Sith.
Anyways, as the climatic duel plays, he's there emulating it with his two action figures (or inaction figures, as those Galactic Heroes generally have at most 1 or 2 points of articulation).
But, it gets better.
Bed time rolls around, and so the little one is packed up, read a story, and allowed to take the two toys to bed with him.
A half hour later, his older brother follows him, and me and the Beloved Wife settle down to watch a tv show (the Harper's Island two-hour finale, which we had DVR'd).
And for the first hour of that show, you could hear the youngest, off in the Outer-Rims of his bedroom, singing the Star Wars theme song.
Over, and over again.
It was heart-warming, and good for this old Geek.
Monday, July 6, 2009
In utter non-surprise, I have little SF based content, as I've had Things To Do.
The first, is that the nephews from my wife's side of things came up for a visit of their Mom-Mom, which meant that for most of last week we deposited our two with her as well. And my wife. And myself.
Well, Friday their parents got there, and we had ourselves a fine time over that day-and-a-half visit. Topped off with fireworks on the 4th.
I did get to introduce my Brother-in-Law to our local Apple Store.
I still firmly believe that anyone with any form of geek leanings need to visit an Apple Store at least once in their life. It's the Geek Mecca after all; pilgrimages are mandatory.
The second reason for a lack of rambling on SF is the simple fact that I bought a new game. Yes, I indulged in my video gaming tendencies and bought something. And I guess "new" is a misnomer, as it's been out a few years now.
Anyways, I bought the Game of the Year edition of Oblivion (which comes with the game, and it's two expansion packs).
And I must admit that I'm enjoying it quite immensely. It's just plain fun. In fact, I stayed up until nearly 2:30 in the morning playing it Saturday night. Much to my Beloved Wife's annoyance as I kind of woke her when I realized the time and went to bed.
But, in a SF related, headline, Wired talks about the birth of the AK-47, and goes about calling it an "All Purpose Killer." Which, to me, seems like one of the most Science-Fictiony of article titles I've ever seen.
Especially for a purported news article.
After all, apparently, the AK-47 has now gained intelligence and the ability to fire itself, and has thus gone on a rampage, killing people without human interaction.
Alas, it seems that we don't have smart-killing machines just yet, but rather biased headline writers. Who knew, huh?
Well, I must now ready myself for work... until next week...
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
I've got to admit something... I'm something of an optimist about humanity. I can't help it, it's part of being a big fan in speculative fic. Even the most despairing versions of a dystopic futures are, at least to me, about the innate survivability of the species.
Yet, tonight... tonight it has been broken, beyond all belief.
You see, tonight, I went on a movie date with my beloved wife. We went to see The Proposal.
And as it started there was a preview for the upcoming movie New Moon.
Now, that in and of itself, is not that bad. What was bad was that a group of teenaged girls a few rows ahead of us clapped at the end of it.
As this happened, I felt my faith in humanity, and my hope in the future intelligence of my species, just... break.
Maybe one day I'll get it back... let's see what happens at the previews for the upcoming Harry Potter movie...
Monday, June 29, 2009
Today's review is for the second novel in the Fate of the Jedi series, entitled Omen (ISBN: 978-0-345-50912-3). The premier Star Wars novel by author Christie Golden, Omen clocks in at 236 pages (not counting the 15 page or so preview of the next novel). Ms. Golden is a rather prolific writer, especially in the category of media tie-ins where she's done work for that other space franchise and Warcraft. So, with both of those factors (i.e. that she's never done Star Wars but has done media tie-ins) in mind, I delved into novel quite ready and willing to forgive minor characterization and continuity issues that may have sprung up.
Alas, I have once again been betrayed by my mere expectations of performance.
And not for the better. But more on that later.
For, there is something that desperately needs to be brought up here. Which is I'm Henry VIII, I Am. Now, the reason for this, is that the bridge to this song from the 1st and 2nd verses is thus: Second verse, same as the first. Which, sadly, is a fairly accurate description of this book.
The plot has 3 main pathways: crazy Jedi, Luke and Ben's spirit journey and the other plot point. The crazy Jedi path reads pretty much like a duplicate of the path from Outcast in which a Jedi goes bonkers, ranting and raving and then is captured. Since nearly a third of the novel is dedicated to this, it feels derivative and unoriginal. Worse, it feels like a rehashing of the the first quarter of Outcast.
But that still left us with 2 plot lines in which to get excited about. Or it would if one could get excited about Luke & Ben's little journey of self-discovery. Unfortunately, I couldn't. Again, a plot line needs something in which we become invested in it. It needs an element of suspense or danger, or just something which means we get emotionally invested in the characters; it was this something which I found lacking in this plot thread.
Ultimately, I did find the 3rd of the threads compelling. I was excited to read about the character, and wanted more of it. Which is scary--the information focusing exclusively on the nominal bad guys of the series should not be the most compelling and emotionally involving of your plot lines. There's something off about that, and that fact damages the rest of the book.
The reason for the compelling nature of this 3rd plot line can be attributed to the main character which inhabits it: Vestara Khai (a Sith Tyro and apprentice). She's probably one of the better characters introduced lately. I enjoyed her a lot more than any of the young Jedi apprentices that we've seen recently, and sadly, I'm more interested in knowing what happens with her character than I am about the mental-break-down Jedi.
Of course, Vestara gets only a short amount of the book focused on her. We also have Cilghal, Jaina, Jysella Horn, and Luke and Ben Skywalker to look at. Overall, Ms. Golden has a firm hand on these characters. In the broad strokes, she gets their personalities and major character quirks. In general, she does a good job.
But she falters in the fact that it doesn't read quite right. For example, she has in one scenario, where Ben and Luke are enjoying a meal together this line: "But right now, they were simply two bachelors eating dinner and talking, and formality had gone out the air lock, and Luke didn't mind one bit."
This is fail. Major, utter, fail. First, Luke is fundamentally a farmboy. That is one of the defining aspects of who he is, he was raised in what amounts to a backwater city, on a farm. To be blunt, he's a redneck hick, who fixes his own tractor and likes to shoot and drive fast. While I was not raised on the farm itself, my grandparents were the equivalent of Aunt Beru and Uncle Owen. Additionally, my dad was raised in one of those backwater towns. It's instilled in me that you eat properly, and you don't talk with your mouth full. It's not a matter of formality, it's a matter of respect. Likewise, my sons get in trouble for doing so.
Secondly, it just doesn't ring... true that a father would think of him and his teenaged son as two "bachelors." That phrase has certain connotations, the least of which is that they're on the prowl for the next proverbial piece of meat--and I'm not talking about the nerf everyone seems to be eating in this book. Additionally, the use of the word is simply wrong there. Since I am married, I can never again be a bachelor. It is an impossibility for me to be one. I can be a widower or a divorcee, but I can never again be a bachelor, as by definition it is either a human male who has never been married, or in general biology, a male who has not mated. Of course, this two things could all be my own biases flowing through, but it was a rather shocking turn of phrase, and knocked my suspension of belief on its head.
Ignoring the Skywalker boys, I have two other character complaints. The first of these is related to Jysella Horn. I cannot call it a characterization issue, as she has had no characterization prior to this point. But, she and her friends call their little clique "The Unit" and they continue to use that phrase well into their mid-twenties. Which seems a bit childish, or juvenile to me. I realize that in the Star Wars galaxy 80 is the new 40, but I did not realize that that implied that 20 was the new 13.
Additionally, why "The Unit?" I mean, Jagged Fel came up with better phrases and names than that for his date. Couldn't one of these four have at least a bit of creativity? Maybe the "Big Guy" whose defining characteristic was "big, slightly dumb brute," but no, everyone in "The Unit" is just a mere cardboard characters that were needed for what is effectively a juvenile-reader trope.
But speaking of Jag's creative naming brings me to the other complaint: why do Jaina and Jag go through so many hurdles in order to have a date? Let's look at this, the two lovebirds arrive at a restaurant, walk inside the restaurant together, and then jump through a dozen hoops in order to go somewhere else for dinner (or was it just an implied booty call)? He's the leader of the Empire and the son of an Imperial Baron, and she's the daughter of Princess Leia and General Han Solo--they should be used to a little bit of aggressive journalists and seeing their names in the sludgenews. Above that, they knew that the reporters were going to report on their movements, and the fact that they were having a date with one another. They weren't even hiding that, so why all the cloak and dagger nonsense again?
Now, as I stated earlier in this review, I was expecting some minor continuity errors and things of that nature. What we got instead was a proverbial slap in the face of continuity. I almost wrote a few hundred words here about the Jedi Temple, but realized that it's just as easy to say look up the history of the Temple of Wookiepedia and then re-read the fifth paragraph of page 10. Then 2 pages later, she speaks on how the Jedi Temple was "home" and how it was a "special place" for every Jedi, when earlier works have made it clear that their home base were Yavin IV and then Ossus. Luckily, that was the worse offense in regards to continuity flubs--or I just stopped looking for them after page 15.
The theme here was non-existent. I could not find one. There was nothing in this book that screamed (or whimpered for that matter) "Hey! I'm a lesson!" There were a number of short fights, but again, there was no HERO who struggled against overwhelming odds. There is nothing ominous about this novel, and only 1 literal possibility to explain the title. I have literally nothing to put here, and to me it seems that this was merely media-tie-in writing at its worst; it feels as if the author did not have a story to tell, she had a series of events to describe.
All that said, this was still an enjoyable read. It probably won't be one of those novels that I consistently return to, but it was well-paced, the style and tone works wonderfully with Allston's and unless Denning makes changes to his, will work well with his. And I'm interested in this new character--though I'm left wondering about the rather specific age that she's been given. Especially in how it relates back to Ben.
Now, here's the sad part. Taken entirely out of context, and by itself, I would have rated this book an acceptable Star Wars novel. Not as odious as some, but a bit better than others. Unfortunately, it has two major strikes against it for me to do that.
The first is that it cannot be taken as a stand alone novel, it must be compared to the novel immediately prior to it since this is part 2 of Fate of the Jedi. In that it fails. It reads like a repeat of the first novel for too much of the book. I constantly had the sense of "been here, done this" which is a horrible feeling for a brand new hard back novel. This leads me to actually dread the next book, because I fear my brain will stop repeating I'm Henry VIII, I am and start repeating This is the song that never ends...
The second strike against it is that it is short. At 236 pages it just did not feel like enough content to justify a hard-back price. It is noticeably thinner than any other hard cover novel which I have paid more than US$25 for. That coupled with the fact that one comes out of the novel feeling as if large portions of it are mere rehashes, is horrible. If the Powers That Be had built this series the same way that they had done Legacy of the Force, with 3 hardcovers and 6 mass-market paperbacks, this wouldn't be an issue. After all, a lot can be forgiven, especially size-wise, when one has purchased a $7-8 paperback as opposed to a nearly $30 hardback.
This is sad, because this wants to be a good book. It wants to be the fun escapism that one expects from Star Wars. Unfortunately, it is lacking. It's lacking cohesion as the three plot lines only tangentially touch. It's lacking a traditional protagonist/antagonist structure, as we still do not have a Campellian Hero, and worse, the most compelling character is our erstwhile villain. It's lacking because it feels more like the YJK than the Black Fleet Crisis. It's lacking, because it's just not enough story to warrant a $27 hardcover.
In the end, I fear that this can only receive a 0.8 out of 4.
Finally, and this had no bearing on my review score, but I despised what happened on the last page. Just utterly annoyed me to no end.
Much in the same way that the fabled "I'm Henry the VIII, I am" verse ends with the above title, so is that how I felt when I finished the recent entry in the Fate of the Jedi series, Omen.
But more about that when I finish writing up my review.
Sadly, that's not the only sad bit about SF I have from this weekend. I went to see Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, and was utterly underwhelmed. It's an eighth of the plot of the first one, and half again longer.
Frankly, that's two major genre releases that have been rather dismal failures at the movie theater. That leaves us with the following to pull out a decent summer movie season:
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
- G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra
That said, there was one thing of interest from going to see Transformers, and that was the The Last Airbender teaser. Now, I have seen it on the computer already, but these things just have a better feel when they're projected in forty feet of light. I just hope that it has at least half of the awesome from its source material, and that the director in question will be able to channel at least half of the awesome from Unbreakable.
Big note to M. Night--there doesn't have to be a trick reveal. Please, just don't.
Alas, that's my SF geekery recap, now, I'm off to get ready for work...
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Monday, June 22, 2009
Ah, here I am, once again finding myself realizing what a long time since I last pushed something out on this blog. As has been so often the case, this is due to the sheer amount of work which I've been doing recently.
Of course, my life isn't all work and no play, I've gone to see Star Trek twice now, and my two geeks-in-training are coming along quite nicely.
In fact my youngest has been watching so much Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, that he's taken to doing two things, the first is that he's taken to playing out the various scenes using his Galactic Heroes figures.
Which isn't the worse of the possible things that can be done in regards to Episode III.
No, the other thing that my youngest has decided makes the perfect thing to do is thrust out his hands, with his fingers splayed out, and announces, "Power!"
I'm not sure if I should be amused by his play-acting skills, or terrified that he has decided to play-act Darth Sidious.
Oh well, I'm certain that either way one looks at it that it's a good thing. At least that's what I tell myself at night.
Of interest as well is the fact that I downloaded teh Hulu desktop client and have been watching anime on it. Soukou no Strain and Bleach are both there, and it's quite a bit of fun to be watching Bleach again.
Alas, it's now time to head off towards work, here's hoping that I'll have time from here on out...
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
I was at lunch just a bit ago. Since it was Cinco de Mayo, me and the Beloved Wife went to a Mexican restaurant in the area. Now, in the normal course of events, that's not a big deal. The Beloved Wife loves her some Mexican food (much like me and my sushi), but today since they were busy, we were sat in one of those two-person tables, with one side of it fairly close to an 8 top table.
Now, here's the grand part.
The party their filled, the table, and closest to me and the Beloved Wife, were a man and a woman, both in what I'd guess to be their mid to late twenties.
In the course of a discussion of upcoming movies, the man, quite rightly so, stated, "I can't wait for G.I. Joe to come out."
The girl across from him, gets this nice confused look on her face, and replied, "What?"
At this point, a reasonable person, would have condescendingly patted the poor unlettered girl on the head, and made some comment about her not knowing anything. Sadly, the man wasn't that reasonable.
His response, "Well, you know guys, we're all just little boys at heart. We love our science fiction and action adventure movies. This one is based on G.I. Joe."
So, Ms. Unlettered, pushed her plate away from her, and placed her hands on the table to either side of it. Then she leaned forward slightly, and in utter, and total sincerity, responded, "Oh, I so know what you mean." She then glanced from side to side furtively, before continuing. "I mean, I actually own G.I. Jane."
Then, quite oblivious to the look of shocked confusion on the man's face, and even the amazed incredulity on my Beloved Wife's, she continued talking!
"And I also own Indecent Proposal."
Now, just so everyone was clear on things, because the guy was starting to sputter as his poor brain attempted to formulate a response, she then added in. "Because you know Demi is just awesome. I mean, whenever I watch G.I. Jane, I get so pumped up, and spend a few weeks constantly working out, hoping to be as tough as she is there."
Of course, at this point, she must have realized the grave error which comparing oneself to the Demi was, for she finished up this brilliant thought with, "But then I just get lazy again and eat an Oreo."
Before too long, the group finished their meal, and removed themselves from the restaurant. Which is probably a good thing, Ms. Unlettered was on her second margarita and I doubt that she'd have anything more intelligent to say with the consumption of a third.
Once they were gone, and me and the Beloved Wife had free reign to begin the inevitable laughter, with a smirk on her face, my Beloved Wife dubbed Ms. Unlettered, "Cute, but Clueless."
Monday, April 27, 2009
I love a good marketing ploy as much as the next guy. Especially one aimed at kids, and their parents. But sometimes, enough is enough.
What brought that one? Why the discovery of this picture:
I had flashbacks to that scene in Alien, where the monster comes ripping out of that guys chest.
Then I had flashbacks to Total Recall.
Still trying to figure out which one made me feel worse, but I'm thinking Total Recall.
Of course talking about flashbacks, StarWars.com has released an image of their new t-shirts in which they take a classic piece of artwork by Ralph McQuarrie and turn it into an abomination promoting their rather ugly characters from the Clone Wars television series.
It's one of those things which make me cringe upon seeing it.
In honor of that, I have created this:Well, I was amused.
Now that I have that out of my system, it's time to start thinking about the upcoming summer movie season. It is after all, the time of the year when genre movies seem to get released the most.
Anyways, on my list for things I absolutely must see are:
- Star Trek
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
- Where the Wild Things Are
- Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
- G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra
Monday, April 20, 2009
I know that it's no longer morning, but I still managed to get out today's rambling. And in honor of the day, though why it needs honoring I have no clue, except for maybe the two things geek that I've really enjoyed watching the past few days--or at the least made me laugh.
The first was the awesome movie, Fido. This came to my attention via a discussion on Zombies, and I have to say it is one of the best zombie movies I've seen. I laughed. Then I laughed some more. And even my beloved wife--no big fan of zombies mind you, she didn't even particularly like Shaun of the Dead--laughed.
The second one, which I enjoyed less than Fido, was a recent episode of CSI. Specifically, the episode featuring the Star Trek spoof, and the SF Fandom convention. Good times, though the jokes were a bit labored, and harbored that whole "let's point at the geeks and laugh" vibe.
Regardless, it is now time for me to return to my labors, and finish what I'm trying to get done.
Monday, April 13, 2009
The latest in post-RotJ Star Wars EU is a 302 paged book from Aaron Allston entitled Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi: Outcast (ISBN: 978-0-345-50906-2). Which for ease of use, and general laziness on my part, I shall henceforth refer to it merely as Outcast. Outcast was a fun, fun ride, a continuation of the trend, started by Millennium Falcon, that replaced the NJO/LotF focus on depressing, non-fantasy story lines. Set 40 years after A New Hope, it begins with a tight focus on Valin Horn's situation where he's coming under the sway of what I can only assume is the major plot point of Fate of the Jedi--a plot point which is described on the dust jacket as "a mysterious psychotic break." While the novel itself was a fun read, well-paced, nicely structured, and generally oozing the "feeling" of the GFFA, I was still left with the feeling of something being off.
I must confess something here, even after two reads, I'm still trying to figure out just what the plot is for this story. There's a lot happening, and a lot of characters doing things, but it's not really tightly coupled together with a plot. As stated above, we have this nice defined "A" plot involving psychotic Jedi, and there's the whole peace summit that folks are talking over, and suddenly, we're dealing with three distinct groups, doing three distinct things, none of them really related to what I perceived as the A or B plots from the opening chapters of the novel.
Ultimately I think the problem is in the fact that there's not a clear-cut villain for any of the various plot points which our cast-of-heroes find themselves. The only exception would be the one of the narrative thread bit where the environment itself is the antagonist. We have all these narrative threads--and no true antagonists in any of them. Sure, the protagonists are doing things against people (or the environment) but none of them come across as a threat to the hero; they're just macguffins to get through.
Maybe I'm old fashioned, but I just enjoy a book more when there's an overarching reason for the novel; when there's a good guy and a bad guy.
In the end, I think what we're seeing here, is what one often sees in the first chapter of a Dean Koontz novel; it's the section where people tangentially related to the plot, but aren't a focus of the story. do things to let you know that bad things are happening.
Speaking of people, the protagonists here are the usual mixture of Star Warriors in the form of the remaining heroes from the movies and their remaining children. In fact, the Dramatis Personae is somewhat... lacking this time around. For the start of a nine-book series, Outcast only features eleven characters in the DP (for comparison, Betrayal had 28 characters listed). What's sadder, is that if they had added just one more character to the DP, then it would've just been a listing of POV characters rather than the list of characters that play a role in novel--and no, they're not the same thing.
But, even then, we can cull our list of characters further, gathering just Luke, Ben, Jaina, Han and Leia as primary--and by extension important--characters.
First, Luke Skywalker, hero extraordinaire, and beloved Jedi Master--actually remembers what it means to be those things. He's wise, he's decisive, and he's not scared of silly soldiers with blasters and itchy trigger fingers. But above that, this book manages to successfully pull off what both LotF and the NJO failed to do: which is remove Luke as the power-house that can solve the problems of the overarching plot in 5 minutes, and thus leave the Fate of the Jedi "A" plot to the little Jedi to plod along until end of the nine books (which I have a bad feeling will feature Luke returning and setting things right). The thing is those earlier stories did remove him as instant problem solver, but they did so at the cost of his characterization. Allston managed to do this, and still keep him as the decisive hero that Luke is supposed to be.
The only thing that left me annoyed with his characterization here was a discussion between Luke and the Chief of State, in which he takes the time to poke at her over her old flame in order to protect his stance in the conversation, but when she attacks Kyp Durron for something he did 30-something years prior and was pardoned by the New Republic for, he doesn't bring up things she did--and was not pardoned for--during the same time frame. It seemed like he was willing to let Kyp get fed to the wolves there. But a single conversation where he doesn't act quite right is better than where he is way out in Left Field in terms of character in 12 out of a 19 book series .
So, after this beautiful handling of Luke Skywalker, we must glance over at his partner-in-crime for this particular novel; his son, Ben. For the first time, I've actually enjoyed Ben's characterization. He's no longer the cardboard cut-out which appeared in the first half of the LotF, additionally, he's coming into his own as a valid character--and an interesting mixture of Corran Horn and Luke Skywalker. I distinctly like the thought of a Jedi who approaches things using investigative techniques (including interrogation ones) rather than just following their whims and calling it the "Will of the Force."
Unfortunately, he's still not a character that just screams HERO the way Luke did during the early years, and Anakin Solo did during the early NJO. Still, his character is a lot more sympathetic and generally good, than the little StormTrooper which was Ben in LotF.
Speaking of good little Jedi, we next get to look towards Jaina--who is anything BUT a good little soldier in this novel. She's a perfect example of her mother's wit and fire and well, rebelliousness in relation to authority. Additionally, she seems to finally be over her soap-operatic ways and Mando-adoration and has thus settled into her role as Sword of the Jedi. But, still, she lacks that special something which would make her the Hero of the story, but she's much closer to having it than Ben, or her LotF incarnation.
The final duo of our primary characters are the perennial couple of couples, Han and Leia Solo. This was the same Solo couple that we got in last year's Millennium Falcon novel; loving and happy, and willing to do just about anything for a friend.
I do feel the need to bring out one additional detail that Outcast needs praise on, and that is the fact that long-time Jedi Master Kenth Hamner actually gets a personality above and beyond "Stern Master #2." Yes, he has that whole retired military officer thing going for him, but just how he interacts with others, including (or maybe especially) Jaina, display him in a much more.... personable light.
Settings are slim here. We get Coruscant, Kessel and Dorin, home of the Kel Dor and the prequel-era Jedi, Plo Koon. Of those, both Kessel and Dorin get decent descriptions, and emphasis on the alienness of the planets as opposed to such terrestrial planets as Corellia.
Now while dealing with the Theme of this novel, I have to start and wonder if that sense of disquiet, that "not rightness" that I felt while reading was intentional. The book was titled "Outcast" and there were numerous references to being exiled, and leaving things behind. I have to wonder if the author intentionally built what should be, and on the surface is, a fundamentally sound Star Wars story but structured in such a way that when one thinks about it, it leaves you with a sense of disquiet. As if the story itself is an outcast from the greater narrative which is the expanded universe--or at least our expectations of that narrative.
Which in turn leads nicely to the lack in that narrative, that absence of a Campbellian Hero, which has been at the crux of how everything has played out since the last Campbellian Hero was forcibly removed from the narrative. We're still dealing with the ramifications of the Anakin Solo-shaped hole in the narrative; we're looking at the fact that the narrative exiled itself from the Hero's Journey which is at the root of Star Wars.
We're missing things here, things are separated from how they "should" be. Even above and beyond Luke's exile from Coruscant, this is a book, a narrative, that has exiled itself from the morality play roots of Star Wars. Outcast is a Good vs. Evil story with no defined evil, and no defined Hero to fight that evil. Just a cast of protagonists, going about doing things they feel they need to do. It's not Campbellian, if anything it is episodic operatic drama; a literary version of a daily soap opera or procedural police drama from American TV so to speak.
It's not bad per se, but it's not classical Star Wars either. And that separation, especially coupled with narrative threads that should be Star Wars is what lends itself so well to that disquiet, that sense of disconnectedness with the narrative, that I felt while thinking about the story.
As unintended end result of editorial influence on the author to have XYZ happen in the book, and nothing else, it works. If it was intentional on Mr. Allston's part (whether due to editorial influence or not) it is utter and sheer genius.
And on that note, I feel it might be time for my final thoughts on the novel, and my final thought has to be that I liked it. I liked the way that the absence worked with the greater narrative, but above that I liked the fact that I actually enjoyed it while reading. Sure there were an issue or two that made me stumble over the narrative. I'm not entirely certain how well I enjoy the characterization of Tahiri Veila here, or how much I enjoy the thought of Tarc coming back into the overall storyline. on the flip side of the coin, I did enjoy seeing a handful of secondary, non-Jedi characters during the Kessel scene.
In the end, I have to give this a 3.8/4. All the good things done right here, far outweighs the few bad things--and even on just the chance that that sense of disquiet I felt while reading was intentional makes me all sorts of happy.