Good TV Bad TV

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Fear Season 2

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Something you need to know about me, is that I love Walking Dead.  I started watching it during the first six episode season and have been a fan since.  Over time it developed into a sort of watercooler moment for me and my coworkers, where we watch it every Sunday night and discuss it the next morning at work.  This is the first time in my life that I have really had a show that I wanted to talk about like this, and even more so had people I wanted to talk about it with.  So naturally when Fear the Walking Dead was announce we were pumped, because it would be our methadone to help weather the long dry spells between episodes of the main franchise.  That said…  season one was a massive disappointment, for me at least.  It centered around a cast of characters that I simply struggled to relate to.  I spent most of the first season rooting for them to get eaten by zombies, and now that we enter the second season I had hopes that maybe just maybe they would finally turn into characters worthy of the franchise.  As it stands the only characters that I can honestly say I like…  are Daniel Salazar and Victor Strand…  the characters that the show runners are very much setting up to be the “bad guys”.

The biggest problem I have with the show right now is that the characters seem so phenomenally dumb.  Admittedly the world has just fallen, and they are not quite adjusted to it… however they should have spent enough time by now to realize that the dead are dangerous.  They should also know however that humans are even more dangerous.  It just feels like they have exited the first season with zero lessons learned.  It is like they still keep expecting life to return to normal… even as they are heading out to sea with Los Angeles burning in the background.  I don’t want to get into any spoilers, but honestly that is pretty easy so far because nothing of any importance has really happened yet.  Right now I am still very much rooting for the zombies because I keep thinking if we can thin the herd of our cast a little bit… maybe just maybe they will start to take the threat seriously.  I guess the problem that I am having is that I keep expecting this to be Walking Dead, when at its core it just isn’t.  I will probably give the show a few more episodes, because until Game of Thrones starts up in a few weeks I don’t have a Sunday evening show to be watching… and I have gotten into the habit of watching something on Sunday nights.  That said…  so far the second season is off to a pretty boring start.

Daredevil Season 2

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As disappointed as I am in Fear… if there was a polar opposite I would feel that about Daredevil season two.  While the season did not have the strong single story arc that the first one did, it chopped up into what felt like three smaller separate story arcs that were equally enjoyable.  This is really the season where we see Daredevil emerge to be the hero we recognize from the comics.  Its like over the course of season one and the first half of season two… the pieces were falling into place one by one.  I guess that is part of what I have loved so much is that you can see the progression from a vigilante wearing essentially black sweatpants to the badass hero that we have come to expect.  There are going to be spoilers in this write up because I am not sure how to talk about it without really going into spoilers.  The quintessential moment for me was the creation of his “cane” weapon.  From that point on this show turned into exactly what I always hoped it would be and I was constantly getting rewarded with awesome shots of him throwing it into baddies and then retracting it just in time to hit someone else with it.  While he has better armor in this show… I like that it still shows the personal toll that being a hero has on not only his body but his relationship with Karen and Foggy.

The highlight of the season however has to be the introduction of the Punisher.  “Shane” was a character that I loved to hate in The Walking Dead, and when that character left the show there was a big hole that never quite got filled…  that is until Rick himself started to fill that role.  Jon Bernthal makes a phenomenal Punisher,  and I hope beyond hope that eventually we will see his own spin off series.  As a kid my favorite comic book character was The Punisher, and my friends was Daredevil…  so it was always an extremely special moment whenever we got to read comics where the two characters interacted and teamed up to fight the Kingpin.  I have this feeling that we are heading in that direction, because in this season the Kingpin also finally became the Kingpin that we love to hate.  As far as the Elektra arc I have to say it was done pretty well, and the whole hand vs chaste concept.  The season was essentially a condensed version of all of the story lines that I can remember relating to Elektra/Daredevil/Stick/The Hand.  Unfortunately the whole “Black Sky” concept is not something that I remember from the comics, because in that version The Hand worship a demon called the Beast.  So this appears to be the point where we leave the story line and go off in a different direction.  Regardless I am sure we will see Elektra once again, and I am certainly hoping that Season 3 will show us more of the Punisher and Daredevil team up as well.

Streaming Goodness

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RWBY

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Rooster Teeth is one of those groups that I have known has existed forever… but never really watched much of.  I was not a Halo player, but I do admit to watching quite a bit of the first few seasons of Red vs Blue.  Similarly RWBY is one of those products that I have known was available, but for whatever reason never actually watched.  There was a certain bit of fitting tribute the other day that I started watching the show, on the Anniversary of its creator Monty Oum’s death.  Over the course of several hours of watching I went from knowing absolutely nothing about this show, to becoming a huge fan.  I had always heard it described as “An American Anime” but didn’t really know what to expect from that.  I mean Avatar: The Last Airbender and Legend of Korra are pretty much what I think of when I think of American Anime.  I love both of those shows and a lot of other continuous narrative cartoons like Steven Universe, Adventure Time, and Bravest Warriors.  So as to why I never started this one in particular, is as big of a guess as any.

I guess what I like about it so much right now is that it has pretty much everything I loved about Bleach, without all of the stuff I didn’t love about it.  What attracted me to Bleach was this premise that created a universe full of really interesting characters.  Sure while Ichigo is the “main character” there are a bunch of other extremely interesting good guys and bad guys that make up the tapestry.  RWBY does this through the creation of teams that fight together, and can either be positive or negative influences on the story setting.  Also there are shades of post apocalyptic, in that the characters exist in this world that is being plagued by a bunch of supernatural creatures known as the Grimm.  The only way mankind has managed to survive is by harnessing the power of dust, refined elemental essence to power up their abilities and be able to fight back.  The show itself takes place in a sort of Hogwarts for demon hunters, a school known as Beacon that trains individuals to become either Huntsmen or Huntresses.  So all of those elements like Bleach and Naruto are there, to keep churning out interesting people to encounter in the world.

What makes the show better for me… is the fact that thus far at least over the course of the three seasons I chain watched… there isn’t a lot of repetition.  The frustration with Bleach is when you have the realization that every single season is the same.  Ichigo gets his ass kicked by some new bad guy > Ichigo trains to unlock some previously undiscovered ability > Ichigo wins… but just barely… but still enough to save his friends.  While RWBY borrows heavily from Anime tropes, the way it puts things together feels more fresh to me… because it is based in a culture I already understand.  The problem with Anime in general is that there are so many cultural experiences that I lack, and I simply cannot understand without having to research why the hell “this thing” was funny or important.  When I watch most Anime, there are certain points where I feel I need footnotes to understand the subtle nuance of what is happening.  RWBY however makes sense out of the box, with nothing lost in translation… because it quite truly IS “American Anime”.  So I have to say… I am now hooked and will join the folks waiting every week for the next show to release.  I’ve even gone so far as to hook others on the show, which I guess is the truest sign of enjoyment.

Heroes Reborn

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When I am sick I seem to ratchet down my game playing and increase my television watching.  So over the last few days I have been hunting for things to watch, and over the last two nights have picked back up on Heroes Reborn.  I started the first episode of the show some time ago, but it either failed to grab me… or I got distracted.  I’ve now chain watched my way through the entire first season and I have to say… I really enjoyed it.  Heroes is one of those shows that I have both extremely fond and extremely negative memories of.  The first season was among the best single television seasons I have seen…  and then that second season…. I would probably rank among the worst.  The third season came along and fixed some of the problems with season two… but by that time the audience was gone and the show was doomed.  I don’t think I actually watched any of that fourth season… which honestly after watching Heroes Reborn, makes me want to go back and chain through the originals again.

Reborn is the perfect example of a show that stands on the shoulders of the original, but doesn’t actually require you to have watched any of it.  Sure there are plot points that you will get earlier if you know who certain characters are from the original, but you learn soon enough what powers they have.  The entire show takes place in a very “Days of Future Past” storyline, where the heroes… now called Evos are being forced to register their powers.  There is very much a “humans” vs “evos” undercurrent that runs through the show, along with the expected “no evos allowed” signs.  What makes this season work however is the same thing that makes me question if they are setting themselves up for a crappy second season again.  Much like the “Save the Cheerleader, Save the World” plot of the first season of the original, there is a clear narrative path that ends up being concluded in a massive event.  The problem is… I am not really sure how they top this.  I mean you can only quite literally save all of humanity so many times during a television show.  All of this said… I really enjoyed myself and I guess I am along for the ride when the second season releases.

 

 

 

Media Consumption 11/28/2015

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Rainy Morning

MediaConsumptionIt’s been a good morning, albeit a cold and rainy one.  I got up and made a beeline to the kitchen to fix some breakfast.  We’ve recently had a renaissance with the little triangle sandwich maker thing that became popular during the 90s.  Recently we started playing with making pancakes in it, and the resulting tiny triangles of pancake goodness are awesome.  So I fixed pancakes and sausage and my wife and I nommed happily.  From there I ended up popping into World of Warcraft for a bit to do some garrison stuff, and shortly thereafter found The Goonies on cable.  Around about this point my wife and I decided it was a good idea to go lay down and snuggle with the cats.  It was around this point where my wife asked me… if I had already done a blog post.  It had quite honestly slipped my mind.  I live my life based on a sequence of rituals, with each one kicking off the next ritual… and if any of them happen out of order all sorts of mayhem occurs.

So that folks is how one almost breaks a three year streak of daily posting…  not with tragic circumstances… but just a charming morning that made me forget that the internet was a thing.  As a result I am getting a really late start at the day, but have now officially had some coffee so I believe I can functional properly once more.  I’m back on the sofa wrapped in my blanket cocoon and tapping away on my laptop.  Generally speaking Thanksgiving is usually this difficult holiday filled with running around like crazy, but this year a bunch of things have happened ending up making it the most chill and relaxed time ever.  Firstly we wrapped up the work on the house just before the extended weekend, and with that there was a flurry of cleaning to make the house feel “finished”.  Then we were able to load all of our meals into an evening and a morning…  giving us the rest of the break just to chill.  At this point we are taking advantage of the constant rain and the cold temperatures to simply stay in doors and hibernate.

Jessica Jones

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With the hibernation has come a lot of Netflix or equivalent digital streaming.  Over the past week I have been watching the new Marvel Netflix series, Jessica Jones.  I have to admit that this is a character that I only know of in relation to the other characters she surrounds.  I went through my “Kung Fu” phase where I read a lot of Powerman and Iron Fist, and ever since have had a certain affinity for the characters in that chunk of the Marvel Universe.  In truth…  after the amazing results of the Daredevil series, I would have watched anything produced for Netflix feature Marvel characters.  Jessica Jones however took a completely different tone, but one equally gritty.   While Daredevil shows the clear physical toll of being a hero…  Jessica Jones does a good job of showing the mental and emotional toll.  Jones herself is completely walled off from the world in her own emotional bomb shelter, trying to keep as many people away from her… because she is convinced that is the only way she can actually keep them safe.

The show also digs into a lot of themes of violation and betrayal but does so in a slightly different way than we are used to seeing.  The Purple Man has always been such a strange character in the comics, and I was not quite sure how they would end up making it work for the screen.  David Tennant’s portrayal does this excellent job of walking this razor line between making him completely horrific and likable at the same time.  There are times you think that maybe with the proper role model, he could change and be a force for good…  only to get those hopes dashed when you realize that this is a person without any sense of a moral compass.  The actor playing Luke Cage also does an amazing job of bringing that character to life, and I am hoping we see a significant big more of him in the future seasons and the supposed upcoming Luke Cage Hero for Hire show.  My favorite insider moment in the show was when Rosario Dawson’s Clare Temple, and it is setting her up to be the Night Nurse taking care of all the supers in trouble.  I could gush about Ritter, but really without her the show would have fallen apart completely.  I highly suggest watching it… and I am trying really hard not to do any serious spoilers here.

Inside Out

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Last night I also finally got around to watching Pixar’s Inside Out.  I have to say that in all honesty there has yet to be a Pixar film that I have not loved, and that is saying something because in truth…  I can’t say the same about Disney animated films in general.  There is a certain magic that Pixar brings to the screen, and a certain timeless “realness” that they give their characters.  This film was a bit of an emotional roller coaster but I guess that makes since as it is kinda the “Feelings Have Feelings Too” movie.  There were so many moments where I laughed out loud, and several moments towards the end of the movie where I failed miserably to fight back tears.  Maybe the whole nostalgic binge I have been on served to deepen the experience of this movie.  There were so many profound messages like…  you can’t really be happy without also feeling sad sometimes.  There were moments I related to the dad, especially when he was straight up oblivious…  because so often I get lost in my own head and forget that I am supposed to be paying attention to the world around me.  One of my favorite bits came at the very end of the movie when it showed the inside of the cats head…  I am pretty sure that is exactly how it works inside our cats at least.  This morning while laying in bed… every so often one of them would go tearing through the house for no apparent reason… only to come back and snuggle a few minutes later.

Heroes Reborn

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Another thing that I started last night was Heroes Reborn, which is the reboot of the much acclaimed Heroes television show from a few years back.  I say much acclaimed… and by that I guess I really just mean the first season.  The show as a whole went tragically downhill quickly after that, and I blame the writers strike on pretty much killing all hope of that show living up to its full potential.  I mean I realize strikes have to happen, but that managed to kill a number of would be amazing televisions shows.  This time around we have zoomed forward to several years after the events of the first series, to a time where the “Evos” as they are now calling folks with super powers are out in the open and an act of terrorism has turned the public against them.  The show has shades of the Mutant Registration act from X-Men, and the first episode centers on the dad from the first series, who has apparently forgotten any knowledge from the event.  The first episode was intriguing enough to get me to start watching it, and I figure at some point today I will continue on that process.  Will be interesting to see where they go with this one, and I hope that maybe just maybe they can live up to the promise that the first season started.

Media Consumption 10/24/2015

Week of Star Wars

MediaConsumptionThis week was extremely dominated by my burgeoning love of Star Wars.  I have written many times about how I just was not feeling the franchise after the prequels… and that all of the hype surrounding me has rekindled that little kid inside of me that wanted to be “darfa bader”.  I’ve always loved the empire more than the rebels, and I feel kinda bad about that… but Storm Troopers and Darth Vader….  come on.  I was sick for a chunk of the week and while home sick… I caught up on a few things… namely Star Wars Rebels.  So without further rambling… lets talk about stuff.

Star Wars: Force Awakens – Trailer 3

This trailer is absolutely amazing and only serves to bump my hype for this movie up to a fever pitch.  This honestly scares me more than a little bit.  I am as excited right now for Force Awakens as I was for Phantom Menace… and we all know how that turned out.  I think the thing that gives me confidence more than anything is the giant trail of money attached to this movie.  Disney paid four billion dollars to purchase the Star Wars franchise… and I think the realize if this movie is the stinker than Phantom Menace was… they have essentially flushed the vast majority of that money down the toilet.  That said I have also come to realize that quite simply I don’t think George Lucas knows how to direct human beings with human emotions.  I’ve recently watched the prequels again… and those movies are full of some really damned good actors… all of which are chewing up scenery with some of the most unnatural dialog and acting I have seen.  You take those same actors and put them in quite literally any other movie and they do amazing jobs… so it has the be the movies themselves that are the problem.  Anyways… enough of that and on to the trailer.

I love the feel of this trailer, how it is a sequence of more fleshed out vignettes this time.  I have gone back and forth on the popular conspiracies and at this point I simply don’t have a clue.  I don’t know why Luke Skywalker isn’t on the movie poster, and I am starting to question if it is him with the robotic hand reaching out to R2-D2.  I am playing this game of “who is the Skywalker”, and I right now I am starting to think that maybe Rey, Finn and Kylo Ren are all connected to the previous trilogy.  I am still leaning heavily towards Kylo Ren being the child of Han and Leia who has now turned to the Dark Side and become essentially a Vader fanboy… since he knows that Vader was essentially his Grandfather.  You see Rey behind the seat of the Millennium Falcon in one of the shots that has come out… so that would lead you to believe that maybe she is ALSO the child of Han and Leia…  maybe sibling to Kylo?  Finn is the one I cannot place…  since we see him wielding a lightsaber we know he is a force sensitive.  Makes me wonder if maybe he is the child of Luke, but with whom.  He could also be the child of Sana Solo which is now apparently the in canon wife of Han.  I feel like a lot of this movie is going to center around Kylo Ren essentially going on an Artifact hunt trying to find relics of Vader, but past that I am not sure of anything.  I am absolutely looking forward to December so I can finally see how the pieces are going to fit together.

Star Wars Rebels

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While sick this week I caught up on watching Star Wars Rebels, which I found out you can stream from the Disney XD website so long as you have a cable provider to validate with.  The only problem with this is that it isn’t really clear where one season ends and the next begins.  At this point I am apparently caught up and into season two, and I have to say this show… is so great and just what we needed to bridge some gap between the prequels and the modern age movies.  This show is essentially about the birth of the Rebellion as we know it episodes four through six.  I’ve talked about the show in the past on my blog, and I will warn you it honestly takes a few episodes before it starts to feel right.  Sabine Wren is awesome… just going to get that out there.  I love Mandalorians and she has this awesome quirky nature that is just great, and I love the fact that she tags her armor every time they take down another imperial target.  I also adore the paint job she did on the captured Tie Fighter.

The coolest part about this show however is the fact that we get to find out what happens to Ahsoka Tano.  That was the biggest problem I had after Clone Wars you weren’t really sure what became of her.  You know she isn’t in any of the prequels…  largely because I don’t think the character existed until the Clone Wars cartoon… but we just know she is not around in any form.  Here we find that she is fighting the good fight and acting as the rebel operative known as “Fulcrum”.  It is awesome to see her again, but we know that issues are going to come up…  and with a brief interaction with Darth Vader he realizes exactly who she is… and that she is still alive.  You are left with the impression that she has her assumptions that Vader is Anakin…  but she isn’t nearly as certain as Vader is in that interaction.  I thought it was awesome that they brought in Commander Cody as well, and it makes me so damned happy that essentially Clone Wars and Rebels are a continuation of the same basic story arc.  I was afraid that all of the great characters that got invented for the Clone Wars show would simply be gone, but now we are seeing them almost all revitalized as part of the Rebels show… which also I believe means they are being inducted into the canon universe.  The hope is that maybe some of these characters will have brief cameos in the new movies as well.

Walking Dead Season 5 – Episode 2

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Wow… this episode.  I thought the first episode was intense with the quarry full of walkers, and herding them down the path.  This episode starts off very benign showing you how the rest of the characters were spending the time while everyone else was out in the field with the walkers.  Then in a manner so quickly that I thought it might literally be a hallucination…  we see the wolves get into Alexandria and just start slaughtering the residents.  We all knew the wolves would eventually get there, and it seems as though either someone jumped the fence in the same way that Carl and Enid have done…  or someone left the damned gate open again.  Last week we theorized as to who was hitting the car horn and leading the walkers of the pack, but this week we find out that it was instead a semi truck that was heading for one of the walls to break it down.  The gun in the guard tower managed to shoot the driver…  but then the driver fell on the horn while dying.  The episode as a whole was just so strange to see how absolutely feral and blindingly fast the wolves were.

The part I am thankful for however is the fact that essentially this incident forced Carol to abandon her disguise.  She had to become the badass we all know she is, but I do think it is significant that she once again took on the disguise of a wolf, much like she took on the disguise of a walker getting into Terminus.  I think this is the sign of something more with her character… I think she got used to having to wear a mask in the years she was in her abusive marriage, and now it is just comfortable for her to keep adopting them in order to stay safe.  This episode however was a tale of two styles conflicting…  the monk like pacifism of Morgan, and the brutal and honest force of Carol.  The body count from this episode was massive and I think in one show we have whittled down the folks in Alexandria to only the reliable and self sufficient ones are left.  The wolves came in and killed all of the sheep as it were…  all of the people who simply could not take care of themselves.  As a result I think Alexandria is going to be a vastly different place in the coming weeks as they have to deal with this horde of walkers bearing down upon the walls.  I am amped for this week to see what happens next.

Media Consumption 10/17/2015

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Television Lite Week

This week has been one that has seen me absolutely consumed with Destiny on the PlayStation 4, and as such I have simply not spent much time watching television.  I have however watched quite an excessive amount of YouTube videos, namely as I try to find information about Destiny.  There is this shift that is happening where certain games with certain audiences… simply do not have information blog posts about them.  I’ve gotten spoiled in a world with Dulfy.net and WoWHead.com in that I expect pretty much every game I have to have this quality of resources.  Instead for many games lately all I am ever able to find is YouTube videos on a given subject.  I am sorry to all the YouTubers out there… but I am of a generation where I feel like a video is the least useful way to disseminate information.  I will take a written explanation and some good screenshots any day over a lengthy video walk through.  At some point in the near future I hope to take some of these things that I found frustrating and attempt to write some blog posts outlining how to do this thing or that thing in Destiny.  Granted that is not to say there are not a lot of really good Destiny YouTube channels…  but I would still rather have an informational post.

Destiny Lore

The first time around when the AggroChat crew played Destiny… we joked that it was a game almost entirely devoid of story.  That apparently is not the case…  they just go to strange lengths to hide it from you.  The story of the game is told through a series of grimoire cards, item descriptions, quest text, and hinted at in cinematic scenes.  In fact there is actually apparently a TON of information about the characters in the game, their background, how they arrived at the tower… and all sorts of legends from the golden age, the city age, and the now tower age.  In my search for information about Destiny I happened to stumble across a really awesome YouTube channel called Myelin Game… which is not to be confused with long time friend Mylin1.  The channel is chock full of videos where Myelin digs into the lore of Destiny and connects the dots, weaving all of the known information… and speculated information into a narrative around a certain subject.  I linked the Black Garden video since the game does a pretty poor job to explain what the hell it actually is…  but I also highly suggest the trilogy of videos talking about thorn, last word, and first curse.  I have always guessed there was this rich story somewhere behind Destiny… because the dots connected too neatly at times not to be well planned, but now that I am starting to learn some of the actual story I am loving it.  I still feel it is a strange choice to make players dig for this knowledge, rather than letting you experience chunks of it through the story.  The Fallen King expansion does a much better job of being more forthcoming with information… and it gives characters that previously did not have much of a personality… plenty of chance to show it off.  I’ve spent a lot of time listening to these lore videos while doing other things and I highly recommend them.

Star Wars Minute

Another thing that I stumbled across this week is Star Wars Minute, which is a great YouTube channel that takes segments of the Star Wars universe and condenses them into roughly one minute long narrative explanations.  Much like the Destiny Lore, this feels as much podcast as it does YouTube video because the narrative explanation is the important part… and the images going along with it are nice to have but not 100% necessary.  I ended up finding this as I started doing some googling related to the Star Wars universe, namely for the upcoming pen and paper game that should have its first session tomorrow.  The funny thing about this is how much of the universe I already had a full grasp on but have no clue why.  I guess even though I have been a sleeper Star Wars fanboy since the prequels… I was still subconsciously hungry for knowledge about this favorite of universes.  Star Wars Minute is great to play in the background as you do something else and they release three new episodes a week, so there is a silly amount of content available already.

Arrow Season 3

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Be warned I am going to go into some serious spoilers here, so if you have not watched Arrow Season 3 or if you intend to at a later date…  you might want to skip this section.  Here is the point at which I get really frustrated with this show.  Generally speaking I am all for a television show deviating from the source material to make the universe work better for the TV audience.  For example most of the Batman movies have worked really well… and they are essentially a condensed soup version of the batman universe…  gathering up all the good bits and trying to weave a story out of them.  You have a very limited amount of time on television, and what might work fine to slowly build over the course of several years of a comic run… needs to happen in an under two hour long movie.  Television shows have a bit more leverage when it comes to pacing something out, and this is also cool.  The thing that apparently pisses me off though… is when you take actions attributed to one character and apply them to a completely different character.

What I mean is that this story line that has played out throughout the season around R’as al Ghul didn’t happen to Green Arrow…  ever.  Essentially this is a Batman storyline, and all of the events that are playing out happened at one time or another to Batman.  This caused me to think about Arrow the television show in a different light and realize that essentially… they have been turning Arrow into Batman this entire time.  Maybe it is because Batman has been tagged as a “film” universe and is not available to be done in a Television version that they feel the need to create someone that is Batman-like.  Green Arrow was admittedly a comic that I did not really follow.  I mean I knew that him calling his sister Speedy when that was the character that would ultimately become Arsenal was wrong… and I knew a few other points seemed less than correct.  However I lived in this world of relatively little knowledge about the show so I was able to pretty much ignore any differences… until they started stepping foot into the Batman universe.  THAT is a universe I know considerably more about, and after a whole lot of research and the council of Thalen…  I pretty much determined that nope…  Green Arrow has never really interacted much with R’as al Ghul at all.  So I am sitting here two episodes away from the end of the season… questioning if I care to finish watching it.

Walking Dead Season 6 Premiere

WalkingDeadSeason6

Thank god Walking Dead is back.  “Fear The” was such a pale imitation of Walking Dead, and I am exceptionally happy that they chose to back up the start of Season Six to the end of the first season of Fear.  I do have to say though that it makes me extremely happy that Talking Dead has been pulled in officially for Fear as well, because for me at least that has become so much of that experience.  This is one hell of a first episode, and I really liked the way they handled Flashbacks in this episode by making them Black and White.  That is always the challenge with a show, how to visually tell the watcher that the events they are seeing are not happening in real time but instead an imagined replay.  When you are dealing with older characters and younger characters, it works naturally… but when you are dealing with only a few hours or days passing… it becomes much more challenging.  So the choice of black and white gave a nice clear demarcation point between the two time-frames.  As to the rest of the episode…  Rae sent me a text as the show as going on that simply said “Nosh Pit”.

The premise of the show has to be one of the most Rube Goldberg style plot devices I have seen in awhile.  To figure out a way to draw the walkers out of the pit and along a fixed path to get them away from Alexandria.  The parallels to herding cattle…  was extremely strong in this episode.  They even managed to draw them down a chute just like you do cattle for a period of time… and then cleared out the farm supply store just to make sure nothing would spook them and draw their attention away…  kinda like you do cattle.  The slightest noise can distract cattle and get them to move in a different direction, and that apparently is the case with walkers.  The thing is… going into this episode… you knew something was going to go wrong.  There were scenes in the Season 6 preview show of Walkers in Alexandria or at least the hint of that happening.  This show is really good about misleading us, for example the above poster would seem like we are heading towards some central conflict between Morgan and Rick… and in truth… it seems like Morgan instead manages to back Rick down from the ledge a bit.

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As far as the walkers…  when they are nearing the clear zone…  someone sets off a horn in Alexandria, causing the mega horde to turn that direction.  So the question is… who did it.  At work the popular theory for awhile has been that Enid is a spy from the Wolves, and that the scenes of her in the car with the walker outside…  hint that she set off the horn.  My personal theory is it is Father Gabriel once again trying to destroy everything around him.  He wanted to go out on the mission to herd the walkers, but Rick shut him down immediately.  My theory is he is vindictive, and after being shut down by Andrea as well…  he is still on some mission to destroy this community and in the process allow himself to be kill in some sort of twisted act of contrition for letting his parishioners die.  In truth it could be the wolves themselves, who have been watching everything happening and see this as their opportunity to let the zombies batter down the defense of Alexandria and allow them to come in after they are done… and loot the resources.  If nothing else this episode explained why Alexandria had been left fairly unscathed… because the giant pit of zombies had been drawing in more zombies and keeping them away from the town.  It is going to be interesting to see how the next few episodes play out, and who we lose in the process.

 

Media Consumption 9/19/2015

Another Thing

One of the things I have found myself doing a lot lately is hanging out downstairs on my laptop and watching a fairly steady feed of television and movies.  Now some of this I am consuming from the On Demand service from cable and others from Netflix or Hulu.   Over the last few years there is a ton of television content that I have wished I had seen, but never actually got around to seeing.  With fall coming on, I tend to spend a lot more time snuggled on the couch, and as such I think I am going to start another weekly feature similar to my Sunday “what I have been playing” column to watch about the media content I have been consuming.  One of the big things that has changed over the years is I tend to watch an entire television series over the course of a couple days, instead of letting it drag out over the course of a season.  In fact I prefer this method of consumption so much that I will let an entire season of a show record on my DVR before starting in on watching it.  I blame Netflix squarely for this tendency and right now quite literally the only shows I watch as they are airing are the Walking Dead series simply because most of my development group is hooked on the show and we discuss it Monday mornings.  Hopefully folks will dig me going back and talking about what I have been up to.

iZombie

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I started this show on my own a few days ago, but quickly realized that this would actually be something that my wife would enjoy.  As a result last night we started in and managed to get about three episodes into the series.  Essentially you take the smart and quirky writing of Veronica Mars, mix in a dash or True Calling and Crossing Jordan, and add a dash of Being Human and maybe a sprinkle of a show like Drop Dead Diva… and you end up with the weird mix that is iZombie.  The premise is simple… she was a promising surgical resident until she went to a party on a boat…  where a designer drug turned people into zombies.  She got scratched and wound up as a member of the unliving… completely uprooting her promising career, her engagement and most of the relationships in her life.  Instead she now works in the Morgue where she has a ready supply of brains, and a series of misadventures that spring around her ability to see flashes of memory from the brains she consumed.  Flat out if you loved Veronia Mars as much as I did… you will love this show.  It is more of the same sort of intelligent writing and snarky commentary mixed with crime solving…  just of a different sort.  I look forward to picking up and continuing watching this show over the weekend.

Black Mirror

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This one is available on Netflix, and is a British show which means…  short seasons.  There are two seasons available currently, which only actually mean six total shows to watch.  I tweeted that this show was weird, but there is something infectious about it.  I like to think of it as Tales from the Crypt for Futurism and Technology.  Essentially they take ideas that folks have always thought might be cool…  and take them to really dark extremes.  One of the episodes featured a device that you stuck behind your ear, that recorded every single moment in your life allowing you to review them later.  But what happens when no one ever forgets anything… and can scrutinize every moment and everything you have ever said in full high definition color?  The show makes up a series of disturbing what if’s that bring cautionary tales about our own lust for technology and innovation.  I managed to make it through four episodes of the series before finally falling asleep the other night, so at some point I will pick up and finish it.  The six episodes make it a quick watch and if you are into dark futurism….  it might be down your alley.

Chappie

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This movie combines a bunch of weak spots for me…  Artificial Intelligence, Die Antwoord, and Neill Blomkamp.  I loved the movie District 9, so when I saw the trailer for Chappie I thought I would probably like it as well.  The problem is it just took me a really long time to get around to watching it.  The movie is really odd at times…  because for most of it, it really just feels like a really long Die Antwoord video.  Pretty much every piece of music found in the video is theirs, and it features all of the same odd visuals that you find in their videos.  This isn’t a bad thing necessarily, it just makes the movie feel less “movie-like”.  I am imagining there will be a Chappie 2, because they left a lot of things unresolved at the end of the movie.  As far as Chappie itself…  the robot was kinda adorable…  and he is voiced by the same actor that played Wikus from District 9.  The robot is vulnerable and childlike and extremely impressionable… but at the same time very loyal to its humans.  The movie as a whole asks a bunch of trans-humanist questions about what exactly consciousness and sentience is.  It will be interesting to see where this goes if there is a sequel.

Star Wars Prequels

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Something that I did last weekend and over the course of this week was watch the Star Wars movies.  I’ve talked a bit about how Phantom Menace was a massive let down for me… and how I have been afraid to get excited about Force Awakens because of it.  In spite of all of my better judgement however…  I am infected with full on hype mode when it comes to Force Awakens and Star Wars in general.  I grew up loving this series… and in spite of the prequels I am once again in love with anything and everything Star Wars.  As a result I thought to myself…  maybe I was too hard on the Prequels, so in my rewatch of the movies attempted to go into them with an open mind.  The end result is that I don’t necessarily “hate” them, but objectively they are really bad movies.  The pacing feels off, and the characters feel forced to act out awkward dialog at every single turn.  There is something however that bugs me even more about them.  There are times in movies and television shows when the viewers know more about the movie than the characters on screen… and this can be interesting.

The problem with Phantom Menace is that it somehow pretends that we don’t know that Senator/Chancellor Palpatine is Darth Sidious.  Like when we finally find out that he is the Dark Lord of the Sith… the movies act like we should be shocked.  Additionally making these movies about Anakin Skywalker just feels wrong.  We know from the moment this series starts that he is ultimately going to end up in a fight with Obi Wan and be damaged to the point of needing to go into the suit to survive and become the Darth Vadar we all know.  The prequels should have focused on Obi Wan, and told his story… with his failure to steer Anakin away from the Dark Side as being a part of that story.  Obi Wan is the interesting character here, not the whiny bullshit of Darth Teen Angst.  There are awesome moments scattered among the three films, but I feel like you could make one really awesome movie if you just edited out the bad bits.  In fact there is a fan edit that does just this and trims the movie into a 2 hour long epic.  The only part of the first film that is shown is the “Duel of the Fates” sequence.  I think this would be a much better way to jump start the awesome movies that follow… and really the original movies are awesome.  I found myself thinking just how great they were as I watched “A New Hope” and “Empire Strikes Back”.  I can still however take or leave “Return of the Jedi”, because I feel like it starts some of the bullshit that George Lucas tried to continue throughout the Prequels.

Fear the Walking Dead

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Finally I wanted to talk a bit about Fear the Walking Dead, which this Sunday will show its fourth episode.  Last week the shit finally started hitting the fan, as the Zombie infection began to finally get noticed.  My wife happened to catch the first two episodes before watching the new episode last week because she happened to be downstairs grading.  She made the same sort of comments that I had been making internally about how stupid the characters were acting.  At one point she made the comment “Have none of these people ever seen Scream?” as another character put themselves in a really dumb position.  Over the first two episodes the series played on the fact that we know how the Walking Dead unvierse works, and placed the characters in compromising positions….  only to have the Zombie NOT jump out of the shadows to get them.  That however I think is changing, and this week I expect things to start to get really crazy.  I love the way the series is playing on the modern riots as the way the public at large is dealing with the zombie epidemic.  When the police put down a zombie, it is seen as police brutality and a huge riot breaks out downtown.  The show keeps giving us little clues that things are heating up… like the first few zombies took awhile to turn, but now the virus is mutating and speeding up.  In one sequence there is a cop being munched on by a zombie… and then a few scenes later that same police officer is munching on a protester.  The only thing that really frustrates me is the fact that at no point do people seem to recognize what is happening.  I mean are zombie films not a thing in this universe?

Hibernation Season

Hiding Out

Every now and then I go through these periods where I run away from the groups and games that require me to interact with other people and for lack of a better term “hide out”.  They are usually paired with a period of high stress in my life, and I guess the current work stress mixed with the life stress of a bunch of big things looming on the horizon… could count as that.  I also just went to the doctor and found out that I am dangerously low on Vitamin D.  Generally speaking a healthy range is between 30 and 70 and on the test I came back with a score of like 10.  Vitamin D effects all sorts of things… not the least of which is mental health and mood, so I would not be surprised if all of the bouts of depression were related to that chemical deficiency in particular.  I am taking some insane 50,000 unit Vitamin D supplements once a week to help balance me out again, but I am still in the thrall of that desire to hide away from the rest of the world.

I think in part this is why I have not really been around in Final Fantasy XIV much because I have helped to build this wonderful and interactive world…  that likes me being around.  So when I am around I feel obligated to interact and be friendly…. and right now that is just too much of a drain on me.  Similarly I have an issue with Wildstar because the Black Dagger Society is so damned friendly that I feel like an asshole if I am not also friendly back.  As a result I end up playing a lot of Diablo III because I can get lost in a private game without the feeling of needing to reciprocate too many social graces.  This is definitely a me thing and not due to any of the amazing people in my life.  I am broken, and every now and then I just need to retreat inside myself until I am “less broken”.   What I do when I am like this is hang out downstairs and binge television shows.  I don’t really watch TV on a regular basis apart from Walking Dead/Fear the Walking Dead which becomes Monday morning water cooler discussion at work.  I am what is wrong with broadcast television…  I either record a show or watch it from a combination of hulu/netflix/amazon prime.  The concept of watching a television show as it airs just seems so damned strange to me now.  The problem being…  I am the reason why good shows get seen as failures…  because they are designed for people like me…  not the nightly television viewing public.

The Strain

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Awhile back one of my coworkers told me about the show The Strain.  The problem with not watching television is that you also don’t really find out when a show is on the air.  I love movies and television shows about things that go bump in the night, and as such I have a deep respect for the director Guillermo Del Torro.  This show is apparently an adaptation of a graphic novel by the same title from 2009.  There is really no disguising the fact that this is a vampire show… but not one in the Ventrue/Toreador tradition that we have seen Hollywood obsessed with lately.  These are the Malkavians and Nosferatu that hide in the shadows.  This show brings back a return to “vampires as monsters” instead of “vampires and glittery swoony boyfriend material”.  The problem is I am not sure how much more of the plot that I want to give away other than that.  Suffice to say you end up with a badass team of Vampire Hunters, lead by a grizzled old Van Helsing type that is played by none other than “Argus Filtch” aka David Bradley.  The show has a very “zombie apocalypse” feel to it, but with smarter hunters stalking their prey rather than the mindless oppression of a world constantly looking for food.  If you like the monster genre, I highly suggest you check it out.  Even if you don’t normally like monster movies…  it might be worth your time because the characters are really excellent and with their own interesting flaws.  The first season is available on Hulu, and the show has been picked up for a second season.

Constantine

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Constatine might be the “least NBC” television show I have ever watched.  I am not really sure what the network executives were thinking when they greenlit this show…. but honestly it was not destined for broadcast television.  The show developed a very small but fanatically devoted following… and honestly after finishing the first season I can see why.  Sadly watching this show I felt pangs of regret… because I am part of the reason why the show never got a second season.  I recorded it on my DVR and then binge watched it months after the show was cancelled.  This is going to be another Firefly/Space Above and Beyond regret for me…  because really the show is quite amazing.  It does an excellent job of presenting the character of John Constantine with all of his flaws…  and virtues.  They did a much better job with the casting this time around than the Keanu Reeves movie….  which while they failed miserably at Constantine did a pretty damned good job of capturing the setting.  I am still holding out hope that someone might pick this up as a Netflix, Hulu or Amazon exclusive.  They have already announced that the character of John Constantine would be appearing regularly on Arrow, so there is at least hope keeping this franchise alive.  Placing this show on NBC however…. was just destined to fail.  I think had it even appeared on the NBC Universal owned USA network… it might have found a home.

Killjoys

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This show…  took me a few episodes before I got into it…  but now I am currently watching my way through it and I love it.  What it reminds me of is Firefly… but a show set in a different corner of that universe.  In Firefly you were out on the outer rim of society…  in a lawless wild west simulacrum.  This show instead is about the bounty hunters operating in and out of the core worlds, the Killjoys.  So far the show has spent equal time on and off of civilized worlds, and as it progresses there is an interesting world emerging.  The bulk of the show is set in an area of space known as the Quad… which is a planet orbited by three dwarf planets.  Qresh being the central planet ruled by the nine families, and between them is an unsteady peace…  along with comes a very brutally cold war.  Westerly gives you a big barren wasteland world, that was exploited by the “The Company” for natural resources and then sometimes nuked from orbit when the worker class rebelled.  Lieth is the farmland world, filled with “indentured servant” farms and their own share of illegal farming going on.  Finally you have Arkyn that so far in the series we have not heard much about… other than the fact that something went really wrong there… and folks tend to call it a “dead world”.  I am only about halfway through the first season and I have to say I am loving it.  The first episode does not do a great job of really showcasing the feel of the show so I would say give it at least three before you decide if you like it or not.  As soon as I wrap this up I plan on returning to watching the show…  which is available through Hulu… but you have to connect to your cable provider to grant access to it…  and have to play it through a web browser.  Both of these things I find annoying but I am dealing with it.  What are some of your most recent favorite shows?

Daredevil is Awesome

Broadcast Television is Strange

For this mornings post I am going to diverge a bit from my normal gaming topics and talk about some television that I have been watching.  Now there are often times I say that I don’t watch much television, and this is both true and not true at the same time.  I have not regularly watched television on a schedule for years.  For the last few years there have been two shows that I actually tuned in on purpose to watch and that is The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones.  That said I never “only” watch television.  I have gotten to a point where I have be fiddling with something else because the act of watching television feels too passive to me.  So Sunday nights it has become almost ritual for me to sit downstairs with my laptop straddling my lap as I watch these shows that all not so coincidentally occur on the same evening.

It just feels strange to me, to have television occur on a schedule.  Everything else in my life is on demand and waiting for me when I feel like consuming it.  This concept of letting someone else control the pace and timing for my actions just feels deeply foreign, so I greatly appreciate the new paradigms of Netflix and Amazon shows being released one entire season at a time.  I am hoping that broadcast networks follow suit at some point, or they simply die out from neglect.  I don’t think that I am at all alone in my television consumption habits.  It all started with the DVR and my ability to delay content to a time when it was convenient to me.  Now I just let entire seasons stack up before bothering to actually watch them.  In our household we get more use out of the “on demand” section of cable television than anything else.  Now my wife and I both have a default channel that we watch when we want the television on as background noise.  For me it is Cartoon Network, and for her it is HGTV…  but in both cases we no longer passively watch the television.

Daredevil Is Awesome

Daredevil-Netflix-Logo Over the last two weeks I have watched my way through the latest of the Netflix original series, and I have to say I am damned happy to have done so.  Daredevil was never really “the guy” for me, but for one of my friends growing up he was.  As a result I read more than my fair share of Daredevil comics, especially in part because of the constant cross over with the Punisher who absolutely was one of my favorites.  Daredevil and Punisher both always seemed to have this characteristic that the more spandex and super powers comics never had.  They were gritty and rough around the edges… and gave us a window into a darker side of the marvel universe.  Hells Kitchen was a horrible place, but at the same time there was a resilience there and a determination to keep moving forward.  The Netflix Daredevil series captures this spirit perfectly, in a simple unassuming way.  The character of Matt Murdock is portrayed perfectly in all of the nuance of the character.  Daredevil has always been this split character, part hero, part victim of his own fatalism…  and this is played out on the screen amazingly well.

MARVEL'S DAREDEVIL The real triumph is the fact that this is a show that does not idealize violence.  While Matt makes a difference, we get to see the high personal toll that is taken on his body.  He does not make it out of these fights unscathed like we normally see from a Batman movie, but instead has a constantly bloodied body to show at the end of the night.  What made Daredevil great was the constant sense that he was in over his head, but that he kept fighting the noble fight because no one else would.  The best performance in the show however has to come from Vincent D’Onofrio as the Kingpin.  He makes this character into someone you almost want to root for during the course of the show.  You are both sympathetic to the character and repulsed by it at the same time, which is a rare trait.  You want the Kingpin to win… if for no other reason than to set up the ultimate triumphant fight between he and the Daredevil.  I feel like this first season has created fertile ground for this show to grow and change, and ultimately serves as quite possibly the greatest comic book origin story I have seen in a long while.  The only sad part is that I want another thirteen episodes to watch, because this first batch was simply not enough.

Unbreakable Kimmy

Unbreakable-Kimmy-Schmidt The other show that I have been watching lately is also a Netflix original, this time by Tiny Fey of 30 Rock and SNL fame.  The premise of the show is that Kimmy Schmidt was captured when she was in 8th grade by the leader of a doomsday cult.  Now freed she is taking on the world with her middle school understanding of it.  Kimmy Schmidt the show feels very much like 30 Rock meets Sister Wives turned Doomsday cult, but for the most part it works.  The character of Kimmy is essentially the same character as Kenneth played by Jack McBrayer.  I have to assume that a lot of the writers from 30 Rock are now doing this show, because the comedic timing is almost exactly the same.  I’ve only made it five episodes into the show so far but at  this point the cast of characters seems to be set.  On the home front you have the crazy landlord played by the always amazing Carol Kane, and the gay failed actor roommate played by Tituss Burgess.  Both serve to balance and unbalance the character in various ways, and the interactions by Kane and Burgess are amazing… there is an almost loving parental thing going on.

As far as work goes Kimmy finds her way into the employ of Jane Krakowski’s character Jacqueline Vorhees, as assistant, nanny, life coach, best friend, and whatever else she needs.  The problem here is that Krakowski is essentially playing the same character as she did on 30 Rock, which makes me wonder if this show was originally designed as a spin off vehicle for the Kenneth character after the ending of that series?  You could seriously plug the characters in from 30 Rock and the show would still work, which I find bizarre.  Sure in this case Krakowski is a wealthy Manhattanite with no grasp on reality, instead of a falling Hollywood star with no grasp on reality…  but they feel exactly the same in practice.  There are definitely some laugh out loud moments but these all come from the fact that Kimmy is still for the most part stuck with an eighth graders understanding of the world.   All of this said, if you loved 30 Rock… and I did…  this will provide the same sort of awkward humor fix that you might be left craving.  I plan on watching the rest of the series, and I am hoping it gets picked up for another run.  I can’t necessarily give it the rave review that I gave Daredevil, but it is most definitely a fun show to watch.

Tech Pedantry

Roguish Charm

ffxiv 2015-02-23 06-12-46-67This weekend was one of those where we stayed inside for the majority of it.  For starters I still feel like crap, with whatever bronchitis type thing that I have.  I think it might be getting slightly better, but still feeling drained from all the coughing.  For the most part I spent my weekend in a blanket cocoon on the sofa catching up on the show scorpion and playing an awful lot of Final Fantasy XIV.  While some of my time was spent with the guild running group content, a far greater amount was spent working on leveling rogue.  The class is really starting to grow on me, primarily because of the extremely well done animations.  Even though I essentially only have four buttons that matter right now, the animations feel important and it feels like I am the master of dagger based combat.  I started the weekend at level 18 and ended the weekend at level 26 so I am pretty happy with that.

For the longest time I had struggled with what to level next.  My monk was the closest to max level at 33 but really there is just something about it that does not excite me.  I’ve never really liked unarmed/fist weapon classes in games.  At high levels you can get some insane looking claws which I am sure improves the enjoyment…  but in general I have never actually liked monk characters in the Final Fantasy franchise.  Tifa, Sabin, Yang, and Zell all got a minimum of use in my parties, always favoring other jobs for my melee classes.  So I guess for me I don’t have this fond nostalgia for the monk and as such it just feels like a less interesting dragoon.  Rogue and I am hoping ninja on the other hand feels like this blade master that moves swiftly and delivers fast attacks on their target.  I can see leveling both at some point, but I think for the time being I will be “yet another ninja” waiting in the party finder.

Tech Pedantry

mpc-hc64 2015-02-23 06-18-44-52 The other aspect of this hibernation was watching all sixteen episodes of the show Scorpion to catch me up to date.  For some time now my wife has been telling me that she thought I would enjoy the show.  Some people are pedantic about grammar or spelling… for me it is about technology.  If you show a technology used in an inappropriate way it grates on my nerves and I struggle to get past it.  The logo for the television show is stylized as </scorpion>  which is an ending html tag…  and it drives me insane that they did not instead use the appropriate syntax for a single tag which would be <scorpion />.  Anyways at some point I pushed past this frustration when I kept hearing from friends how good the show was.  It took me a few episodes to start caring about the characters but right now I think I am officially hooked.

The strange thing about the show is that for the most part they do get technology right.  When they go into a nuclear reactor they talk about SCADA based systems, which are an actual protocol that for the most part runs all major infrastructure.  Other elements have a bit of science fantasy applied, but still the vast majority of it checks out in theory.  The only question is just how much of the show is based on the real Walter O’Brien and how much is made up for the sake of Hollywood.  The hacking NASA thing is supposedly true, but I feel like much of the show is romanticized for the sake of the screen.  I am just happy to be watching a show that does a pretty fair job of representing tech, and doing so as close to reality as probably any other show has managed to get.  Sure it suffers from the same “goofy interface” issues that any other show does, but I have connected enough with the cast of characters to get past that.  All I have to say is that Happy Quinn is a badass, and so long as she continues to be an interesting character I will probably keep watching.

Best Shoes Ever

starwarsvans I have this strange attachment with Vans, Airwalk and Converse shoes.  There is just something I like about canvas low tops that make me happy… especially the slip on varieties.  I would not say that I collect them but I definitely have more than a handful of pairs that I swap back and forth between.  The other day my wife stumbled onto the above pair of shoes and thought I needed them.  That is how cool my wife is, that she found something like this on her own and suggested I order them.  Granted for size 13 shoes they were a bit more expensive than I originally thought, but damn are they worth it.  Today is going to be the first time I wear them, and I am sure I will get some goofy looks…  but fuck it… they are amazing.  They did have some really subtle Darth Vader shoes that I contemplated getting, but I only wanted to get one pair… and the choice was obvious.

sunningcats While I am posting pictures, I figured I would drop this one on the blog as well.  This is one of those rare moments when all three of our cats are getting along.  It is a great size comparison picture that shows just how insanely huge Chloe is compared to Kenzie and Allie.  As I write this I have Kenzie the kitten sleeping on the top of a computer case on my desk, Allie picking at a box on under my desk, and Chloe sprawled out blocking the exit to my room.  They feel like they should be fed apparently, and are going to guard me until I make it happen.  Every time I stop typing the look around anxiously as though I am going to bolt from the room and try and shake them.  Living with my fuzzy menagerie is definitely an interesting existence, especially when at the same time both ferrets are demanding attention.  These are all the reasons why I often am late getting out the door in the morning, but I would not change it for the world.

Tremors in the Force

Glorious Weekend

DoctorWhoTimeHeist The entire weekend was pretty crummy outside here in Oklahoma, so as a result we spent most of it inside.  I curled up on the couch with a brand new fuzzy blanket and spent it gaming on the laptop while watching stuff on television.  It had quite literally been a few months since I had last watched television really.  Granted there was a bit of television each night and each morning while going to sleep and waking up respectively, but I had not actually sat down to watch anything of any importance in a very long time.  As such I had a bunch of shows stacked up that I wanted to catch up on.  The most important of these was this seasons Doctor Who.  I had watched the premiere several weeks back, but had not seen any of the episodes since.

I feel like the jury is still out on how I feel about the new Scottish Doctor.  I guess I am just used to the normal fun loving slightly insane Doctor, and this interpretation just feels strange.  The dynamic between Clara and the Doctor also feels a bit strained.  Granted the companion that survives a regeneration I guess is always a bit odd, but this one seems more so.  It seems in part that the Doctor still has a crush on her, and as he is watching her get on with her life…  it feels a little awkward.  As far as the stories have gone, I think I like the “Time Heist” episode the best.  Trying not to go into much detail for fear of spoilers…  because I am sure there are others out there that have not caught up yet.  In fact public television here in the United States tends to be one full season behind.

Tremors in the Force

StarWarsRebels Other than Doctor Who I finally got around to watching the first two episodes of the new Star Wars animated series “Rebels”.  What amazes me is just how well both of the animated series have managed to get the feeling of the universe, whereas the prequels failed so miserably.  Star Wars Rebels is pretty much the perfect Star Wars show.  You have a scrappy group of fighters, and interesting relationship between reluctant Jedi Master and a force sensitive padawan…  all after the fall of the Republic in a super scary time where being a Jedi means being hunted.  There are just enough call backs to the original series to let you know when exactly this adventure is set.  In the first episode Ezra the main character happens to open a Jedi Holocron with the message Obi Wan Kenobi left for all Jedi during the events of Episode 3 – Revenge of the Sith.  Then in Episode 2, you encounter C-3PO and R2-D2 who are on their way to the Tantive IV.  With those two little vignettes it tells you that the events are sometime in the gulf of time between episodes 3 and 4, which is a super fertile place to base a new series.

The characters are likeable from the start.  They are just “scoundrel” enough to come across as being selfish… but quickly transition into a cell of rebel fighters trying to survive however they can.  The entire series has a very “Firefly” vibe too it, and honestly I am just wishing there was more of the show to watch already.  So far you have Hera Syndulla the Twilek Pilot/Engineer, Sabine Wren the Mandalorian Weapons Expert, Garazeb Orrelios the Lasat Muscle, Ezra Bridger the Street Kid Force Savant and finally Kanan Jarrus the leader of this group and a former Jedi Padawan at the moment Order 66 happened.  The mix of personalities and skill sets makes for a really good viewing experience.  Since Star Wars meant so much to me growing up, I am always happy to watch the fires get reignited for new generations.  I just wish that it was still on Cartoon Network rather than Disney XD, since I seem to be far better in keeping up with Cartoon Network than any other channel.  If you have not watched any of the show and are an old school Star Wars fan I highly suggest you check it out.

Eating some Crow

archeage 2014-10-13 06-17-56-723 I finally decided to start giving ArcheAge a chance this weekend, in part because I have realized that so many people I know happen to be playing all in the same place, and same guild to be more specific.  Other than ventures into Final Fantasy XIV this was the ideal game to sit on the sofa wrapped in my blanket cocoon and watch television while playing.  The game itself is still intriguing and intricate, but the thing that turned me off of the game in beta was just how horrible the community had been.  So far the launch servers seem to be far better than they were before.  I was able to complete the early quests without much attempt at griefing.  The place where I had so much frustration during alpha was when you are asked to take a rowboat across a bay.  In alpha there were tons of high level ships waiting there to capsize players as they attempted to cross.  This time around there was just a single high level ship and they seemed to be loading up for a trade run and completely oblivious to the fact that I was trying to do something.

Similarly I have actually had some decent random grouping experiences.  So while the community is nowhere near as nice as say Cactuar in Final Fantasy XIV…  it is at least up to WoW Standards…  which admittedly isn’t saying much.  I did have a really positive experience in doing an elite quest.  There is this event that happens in a fallen fortress where between the hours of 2am and 2pm in game time hordes of undead spawn with a boss and you are given quests to kill multiple undead.  I noticed that it was nearing the spawn so I wandered up into the hills and decided that I would just kill undead while waiting.  There were numerous people up there waiting, and it was moments later that I was invited to a raid team.  Folks were relatively well organized and the leader made sure that everyone had gotten all 20 kills before we downed the final boss.  Granted this might be an aberration, but it seemed like a pretty reasonable response to the situation.

archeage 2014-10-13 06-13-41-942 At this point I am still not terribly certain how often I will play.  Right now I have a level 16 Doomlord on Naima Western Continent.  This seems to be where most of the people I know are playing, and white honestly I HAD to play Nuian because they were the only race that offered anything even closely resembling proper facial hair.  Additionally the Western faction is supposedly going to get dwarves whenever XL Games decides to give the North American servers the expanded racial options.  I’ve applied to be in the same guild as Liore, Zelibeli, and several others from both the Machiavelli’s Cats and Multiplaying/Alliance of Awesome communities.  I have to say being patron seems to make all the difference in the world because as a true free to play account you have next to no labor points.  I am not declaring this game the “best ever” or anything like that, but it seems to no longer be nearly as toxic as it was in early testing.  I still prefer FFXIV, but right now I just haven’t had the oomph to grind up another character.  So mostly I am working my way through my book quest and doing my daily elite dungeon.  However since my friend Eliyon is now a newly minted 50 I can see myself probably playing a lot more in the evenings there.  It was a fun weekend nonetheless and I look forward to piddling around in it some more.

#DoctorWho #StarWarsRebels #ArcheAge