Posts Tagged comics

Gaming Withdrawals

I’ve talked about my weekly game night on this blog before. A short time ago it moved from Tuesday nights, where it had been quite comfortably for several years to Friday nights. Long story short with the combination of my work life, specifically closing shifts on Thursday and Saturday nights, and my home life, specifically actually enjoying spending time with my fiancée, Friday game nights just weren’t working for me. So it was with a heavy heart and a much reluctance that I called the regular DM and host, the nucleus of our table, and resigned my seat from the Friday night game. In the process I also let him know that I would come back in a heart beat if it moved back to Tuesday nights, I’ve quite specifically built my life around having Tuesday nights for gaming and have maintained a much more casual miscellaneous game night on Tuesdays since D&D moved to Fridays. Not only would I come back for a Tuesday game, but I would be willing to DM, because I know this man and bribery is often a successful tactic (there’s a reason why Munchkin has so many “Bribe the DM” cards). So they’re still playing Fridays at the moment, but I’m told there is active consideration for a Tuesday night game instead. There were real and valid reasons why the table moved from our successful Tuesday night slot to Fridays, so I get why it’s not an easy decision.

It’s left me thinking a lot about DMing though. The biggest problem being, that while I would be down for running a game, I don’t really want to run a classic D&D (4e) campaign. My preferences basically break down into these options (without much order to preference).

1. Gamma World – I’ve already talked extensively about my desire to run a Gamma World game on this blog so this shouldn’t come as any surprise. And really considering that it uses the existing 4th edition rules set, if I’m not going to run a classic D&D campaign this will be the option that I’m most likely to be able to sell the table on.

2. Dresden Files RPG – Now I’ve been wanting to run this game for a long time, and the people who are consistently present for my current Tuesday night miscellaneous game night might actually be willing to give it a try. Two of them are Dresden Files fans already and have expressed a little interest, and one of them has always been willing to experiment with new systems in the past. The downside is that it’s an entirely new system not at all based on D&D rules, that we would all be learning from scratch. As the GM I’ll be the one expected to know the rules system best (not just the setting). That’s never really been my strong suit at a DM, I’ve always had other people at the table to rely on to help with black-and-white rules decisions. So while I would love to tackle to story side of things, I find the prospect of mastering and helming an entirely foreign game system a bit daunting. Also my regular D&D players would be resistant to an entirely new system not based on D&D.

3. Super Hero RPG – This is probably mostly due to recently diving back into the comic book world. In high school we had a lot of fun with the Heroes Unlimited game system. I doubt I would try to use it again since it would be a foreign system to most of my table and they’re resistant to change. Since then I’ve even discovered a OGL (3.0 D&D) based system that would be much simpler then the Heroes Unlimited engine and more palatable to my regular D&D players since all of them played 3.0/3.5 back in the day. Once again, I think this would only really work with my smaller (and more open-minded) Miscellaneous Game Night group and not the larger D&D table. This and Dresden Files might be my first two choices though if the D&D group stays on Friday nights. The comic book and Dresden Files concepts work much better with a smaller table where attendance might be less reliable than our D&D group. D&D has a hard time working with less than 4 players in my opinion, but Dresden Files RPG and the Super Hero one would work just fine with 2 or 3 players, and throwing the occasional 4th in there when it comes up.

4. Dark Sun – This is basically 4e D&D but in a campaign setting I’ve found really interesting and have wanted to delve into since PAX Prime 2010. I probably have a greater chance of selling this to my D&D table then I do Gamma World. I also find it the least interesting of my options, but I would prefer to do that over a traditional D&D campaign.

Anyways, maybe this is all just gaming withdrawals. I just wasn’t enjoying D&D classic all that much before I left the table, but that also might have been because I was frustrated with the use of my time and wasn’t really willing to be at the table to begin with. Anyways, it all bears some more thought. I think it’s at least bringing up at my next Miscellaneous Tuesday game to see if they want to do something a bit more than just Munchkins, Bang!, and Zombies!!!

hotelnerd signing out

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I am the Key Master

It’s been quite awhile since I last blogged. Sorry about that. Just always seems like there’s something more pressing on my plate recently.

Things have been a little ho-hum at work. Well I guess that isn’t quite accurate. It’s been busy what with staffing issues making my department short-staffed, solid rushes of business and what not, and the expansion plans constantly being re-planned every 30 minutes. Most of it just hasn’t been all that worth mentioning, because for all the busyness, it has been fairly routine busyness. I will have to talk about Very Unsympathetic Cancer Lady at some point, but not now.

Plans for the wedding in January are taking shape. We’re so far behind on some things though! That’s going to start getting more and more stressful. I just want to be on the honeymoon already. Because the fiancée and I have such wildly different work schedules, I’ve used up most of my vacation time on little one and two-day things just so we can have a day off together. While those individual days have always been worth it, it bleeds away the vacation time without realizing that you’ve even used it. Now I have to save every vacation hour I accrue to be able to have the time to go on the honeymoon. That’ll be something like 11 days off work, which will just be a little mind-boggling. It’s hard to picture being away from that place for that much time.

Ray, when someone asks you if you're a god, you say "YES"!

One thing that I am excited about is that the original Ghostbusters movie is being screened in limited locations right now. One of the theaters near me is screening it tomorrow night and I was able to switch my shifts around to be able to go. This has always been one of my favorite movies since I was a little kid. By the way, my Dad and I watched that movie with my youngest sister a few years back (she was 5 at the time) and that movie is WILDLY INAPPROPRIATE for a 5-year-old! But that was how old I was when I started watching those movies! How weird is that to realize? Anyways, I’ll be going to see it tomorrow night. Likely by myself as the fiancée is totally uninterested and all my other friends are busy. Very lame. But considering the movie came out the year I was born, I never got to see it in theaters, so this is something I’m trying to make a priority.

Maybe it’ll recharge my batteries a little? Just feeling a little drained I guess.

Oh…is everyone watching The Walking Dead? If you’re not, you really should be! Because damn that show is amazing! Every minute of that show is just so damn intense. Waiting from week to week is almost as bad as waiting for Game of Thrones when it was on. And it just has this level of depth and realism that bleeds into the rest of my reality. I found myself driving down the road today, it was a beautiful clear blue sky California day, and I couldn’t help but picture rotting corpses shambling down the road. How weird is that? Should I be seeking help or something? Or should I just be taking gun and crossbow lessons? That seems like a far more valuable skill if I’m seeing undead walking down the street.

Meanwhile other shows about the sexier undead (stupid vampires) have been disappointing. I’m going to admit that I’ve been giving the Vampire Diaries a try, mostly because of Nina Dobrev.

I mean, I know the show is meant for chicks, but doesn’t Nina deserve at least a little consideration? The show has actually been a little interesting, but I usually find myself reading comics on my Xoom through about half of each episode. I guess it’s decent for something to have playing in the background because oddly I find the overall story line interesting enough, but on a scene by scene basis, it doesn’t always hold my attention.

It’s still been holding my attention better than True Blood though. I just have not been able to sink my teeth into the latest season. Pun intended. I don’t think it’s just because of the wild divergence from the source material I really don’t care much about that. But let’s face it, half of initial the selling point of that show was Anna Paquin getting naked.

Anna Paquin teasing us all

And since that’s stopped happening and her lovely nakedness hasn’t been significantly or satisfactorily replaced on a regular basis you start to realize that the show is just a little boring. The lesson of this story is that boobs make everything better.

Boobs make everything better. The more you know....

How weird is it that the rotting and disgusting and terrible undead are kicking the asses of the hot and sexy undead? I never would have seen it coming. You suck Vampires! I guess I don’t entirely pick my shows by the hot and sexy women that star in them. Even if it is a large contributing factor. It all still beats reality TV in my opinion. I’ll watch 20 Vampire diaries before I watch a single Real Housewives of Wherever.

As I’ve discussed before, I’m way behind on my comic book reading. I got through The House of M a while back. Started reading the New Avengers which took my straight into The Civil War which I’m in the midst of now. Hot damn that’s a comic event! Mostly worth it. There’s way to much talking and not enough super heroes fighting each other, at least when you’re reading the entire event in chronological order. I’ve had to start skipping some of the issues I really don’t care about. The Official Marvel Comics app finally came to the Android and specifically the Xoom, I’ve used it a little. I still think the entire structure of the digital comics market is fucked up. I can’t really get behind buying digital issues, even older ones at the $1.99 price point. And $3.99 for new releases what they hell are they smoking and where can I get some? I’ll admit that I’ve resorted to illegal downloads to feed my addiction for the most part. I know it’s not right, however, if I was going to be getting back into the hobby it would be by buying back issues from my local shop, not through digital copies. The publisher makes zero dollars on me buying back issues through a shop. I’ve thought of a much better model for them to work from because even a $0.99 price point would be too high for digital comics in my opinion. The collector in me just screams “You’re not getting anything when you buy digital! There’s no hard copy to stick in a box a bury in the closet!” The model that they should use for comics should be much more like Netflix. I should be able to pay a monthly subscription fee to have access to a library of older back issues, let’s say most of what they already have at the $1.99 price point. That way this online service won’t really cut into their monthly new releases terribly much. I would pay as much as $15/month (maybe even $25 depending on the exact specifics of the service), to have that sort of subscription access on my Xoom. I think a lot of collectors would, and I think that’s where the industry really should be heading. They’d get way more money from people like me then they are right now. The thing is I recognize that illegal downloads are wrong and that they hurt the industry that I draw entertainment from. I want creators and artists and the owners of IP to get paid. I really do. I just want the industry to adapt to the real world. My downloading of illegally torrented movies and TV shows has gone down to almost 0 as a direct result of Netflix’s streaming service. A similar comic book service would do the exact same thing for me, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. And there might be entirely legitimate reasons why the industry hasn’t already gone this way, but mostly I bet it’s for the same reason that the movie industry is fighting Netflix. They don’t want to let go of this “golden system” that they don’t consider broken. Well from the consumer side it is. And the comic industry has it even better than the movie industry really. Their back catalog of issues don’t make them a lot of money right now, even with the current digital structure and the trade paperback market, at least I can’t imagine they do, not with comic shops, online retailers, and Ebay out there (and illegal sources). This seems like a much more secure way for them to turn their huge back catalog of comics into a profit generating resource. Because once one of them does it, the other publishers will too, and then it’ll be a race for each one to show who has the biggest offering of comics on their service.

Wow…I hadn’t meant to talk about this idea when I sat down. That happens a lot when I blog. Can you tell that I don’t really plan this shit out? Yeah, probably.

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Things I’m excited about right now…

So there are a number of little things that I’m excited about to different degrees that I wanted to share with you all.

Season 3 of Glee

I love the first season of Glee. I was hooked from the very first episode…well OK from this moment onward…

And I won’t lie, while I enjoyed season 2, I didn’t enjoy it as much as season 1. There were some truly great episodes of TV in there, but I discovered two things. While I agree with many aspects of their social agenda, they got a little heavy-handed with it in season 2. Secondly, and last night’s season premier drove this point home for me, their song choices can really turn me off to an episode. I’m not as big a fan of their Broadway songs when they do them.

However, I’m still super excited for season 3 of Glee. Last night’s episode hit a lot of great points for me that felt more like season 1, but it still wasn’t a home run. Was it just me or did it seem like half the episode went by before anyone sang anything? I really think it would have been better if they’d found a way to knock our socks off musically in the first 10-15 minutes.

That all said. I’m a Gleek. I’m still willing to give it a chance every week. Not in small part because of…

Lea Michele

Not everyone loves Lea Michele or her character Rachel Berry, but I’ve been a little smitten with her since the first episode. I’ll admit, her character can be a little annoying, but more often than not I just enjoy her antics. I know it’s her last season, and that’s sad. I think the show can go on without her though.

And oh yea…

Heather Morris

I think Heather Morris is the best thing to come out of Glee. Period. I know I put a “.” there, but it deserved extra emphasis. Her character started out as a back ground cheerleader that they brought in mostly to fill some space in the back ground, because she’s sexy and she can dance. But damn if her character Brittany hasn’t become one of my favorites in the whole show. Her wonderfully moronic little one liners are some of my favorite moments in the series. That and it’s just great to watch her move. Especially in those little cheerleader skirts. Sigh.

Jericho Season 3 Graphic Novel

BOOOM!

Did you watch Jericho when it was on TV? No? Well don’t feel too bad. Not many people did, that’s why it got cancelled. Twice.

That’s a rare honor really. The show was pretty much cancelled after season 1, but it’s one of the few fan driven movements to save a show that actually paid off. We got a 2nd season out of CBS (thank Science it wasn’t on FOX).

I really liked the series, and I don’t think it’s cancellation was due to being a bad show. I think it was a tough premise to sell at the time, too close to 9/11 still, it bummed a lot of people out or scared them. Nuclear blasts destroying most major American cities just hit a little close to home. I think if it had been on a network like SyFy or AMC the series might have survived to grow some real legs though. Alas the series ended on a horrible cliff hanger…or so I thought.

It’s one of the few series I’ve been able to introduce my fiancée to on the sly and have her actually enjoy. She and I don’t always share taste in shows, so I take it as a little challenge to secretly pick something I think she might like when she gives me full control over the TV. I pick something I think will manage to suck her in when she’s not paying attention, with the hope that when the episode ends she looks and me and goes “What happens next?” or “Can we watch another?” Jericho did that to her. Victory!

Anyways, my inspiration to introduce her to the show came from stumbling upon the graphic novel for season 3 of Jericho in a book store not long ago. I hadn’t heard about the series being continued in comic book form, and almost did a little dance in the store when I did. Joss Whedon has used this medium to great success (in my opinion) to continue Buffy, Angel and Firefly in comic book form after their respective series were cancelled. Considering how season 2 ended, I had shoved Jericho into the dark part of my brain where I put TV shows that end with loose ends. I can’t think about them too much without going into some horrible unfulfilled recursive loop. So knowing that I might actually get some resolution is just wonderful.

Tears of the Sun

On that very same trip to the bookstore I discovered S.M. Stirling’s latest book “Tears of the Sun” is out in the Emberverse series. I’m excited about its release, mostly because I’ve read and enjoyed so many of the earlier books in the series that I would feel incomplete if I didn’t read this one. However, I have to say, I was a little bored by the last book “High King of Montival” and so far TotS isn’t shaping up much better. The hero’s in the series are just a little too perfect now. They’ve stopped making mistakes or having flaws, and that’s just disappointing and a little boring. That and S.M. Stirling has developed this horrible habit in his book of having his characters finish sentences and thoughts for one another, over using the phrase “as if he could read’s mind’blah blah blah'” No really, it happens a lot now. He does it especially with characters that are friends or family or close allies to show that the two people really know or understand one another, but he does it all the fucking time and it’s just lazy and stupid. That said, I aggravatingly love the world he’s created for his characters, a world that exists in the rotted out skeleton of our own. I just wish he wasn’t making Mary Sue’s and Larry Stu’s out of every single character, and use the same lame litterary technique to have them all relate to one another. I’ll still read the book. I’ll probably even enjoy parts of it. So there you have it.

Doctor Who
Doctor Who has had an amazing season! It’s almost over now, but hot damn it has been a fun ride. The 11th Doctor Era has really come into its own with a truly distinctive flair of story telling. Not only is the cast and characters totally different, but the visual style and writing is totally unique from earlier seasons. Every episode is an amazing rollercoaster ride. This week’s The God Complex was a masterful work, it certainly didn’t hurt that the story took place in a twisted hotel. With a room to terrify anyone and everyone, but what was in the Doctor’s room!?! What really earned the Doctor a spot in this entry is after this season, I’m dying to see what the finale has to hold for us.

Miscellaneous Game Night
My D&D Game night has moved to Fridays for a variety of scheduling reasons, but several of the table members still had Tuesdays free. So we’re starting a fresh tradition of having a non-D&D miscellaneous game night, where we get together and play nerdy games. The two newest games for our group being “Munchkin” and “Zombies!!”. Both games are original, unique, and totally nerdy. I highly recommend either of them. In fact as I write this, I realize I should probably add a page to this blog for nerdy games I recommend.

Munchkin is a card game great for any D&D player that doesn’t mind poking fun and their own beloved game. It takes the D&D power gaming extremism to ridiculous and hilarious heights. The tag line for the game is “Kill the Monster, Steal the Treasure, Stab Your Buddy in the Back.” and that pretty much describes the game in a nut shell. I picked up the basic set of Munchkin a few weeks ago, and we’ve only played a couple of hands, but at this point I’ve picked up just about every expansion of Munchkin, and might do the same for the spin-off series. It was just that much fun. I know this isn’t a new game. I know it’s been out there for a long time now. But it’s new to our table, and I’m sure there are other groups out there that haven’t ventured into its shallow depths yet. It’s a great game for your D&D table to play at the beginning of the night while you’re waiting for people to arrive, or a great game to play at the end of the night when you’re just looking to wrap things up. We’ve only gotten 3 people playing at once so far, but I’m looking forward to getting a much bigger table. The box says a maximum of 6, but now that I’ve added the expansions to the base set, I don’t see why that needs to hold true.

Zombies!! is another game that’s been out there for a while, but that I’ve just recently discovered and our table already loves. It’s a hybrid card/board game. You’re playing a group of human survivors in a city over run by zombies. You’re on the run, desperately searching for supplies and the elusive helipad where a rescue chopper awaits. The game works off of two very distinct decks of cards, the Map cards which each player draws each turn and lays down. This forms your board for your human survivors to move on and the map of the city you’re stuck in. This way, every time you play the map is randomly generated. I think it fairly represents the desperate sprint through a city for survival, where with all the monsters, horror, and adrenaline you don’t really know where everything is, even though it could be a city you know well. The other deck of cards are special action cards that let you get bonuses of various sorts, and sometimes screw with other players in the race to the helipad. We’ve only played with the basic set so far. I’ve purchased the first expansion, but we haven’t incorporated it yet. To be honest, my only complaint about the game, is they could do a better job of spelling out the rules for us. Even as regular table top gamers, it’s taken some work to really figure out the mechanics of the game so that we know we’re playing right. Often this has required us to go online and check for errata or the game’s FAQ. I guess you could call that the learning curve, and I just wish the rules were a little bit more clear from the get go. Other than that we love the game and I think I’ll probably invest in the other expansions of Zombies and maybe even into the two spin offs, Humans!! and Martians!!.

Anyway, this wraps up this post for the day. I probably could have broken it into several smaller posts, I know there are several disparate topics here, but that’s not really my style to split stuff up. It just makes my search engine results way more confusing for people….

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Being Nerdy

I’ve been thinking about this post off and on for a week now. Mostly prompted by my own Birthday and the introspection that inspires in me, but also driven by having finished the second season of the Penny Arcade Web series. The season finale talked a lot about Jerry and Mike (the creators of Penny Arcade) and their experiences in school being “nerds” and what their adult life is like. It’s something Wil Wheaton has talked extensively about on his blog. I figured it’s time that I give it a whirl.

 

Nerd Pride


I didn’t have a good time in traditional schools growing up. I’m a tall guy, and I was always on the taller side for my age, but I still got picked on a lot. I didn’t feel like I was bigger then anyone that’s for sure. Even as a kid (I mean like 8 years old here) I liked nerdier things, I thought Star Trek the Next Generation was the most awesome show that could ever be on TV. I got hooked on the X-Men animated series on Saturday mornings on Fox and that inevitably lead to collecting comics. I was one of the smarter kids in my classes, but I always had a hard time socializing and making friends. I was shy and awkward socially even before girls really entered the equation.

In Middle School I discovered Tolkien and from that D&D. At lunch, my friends and I hung out in our home room and played Chess or Magic the Gathering. I sucked at Gym Class especially at running (asthma) or anything requiring hand-eye coordination. In 8th grade I proudly came to school in a Starfleet Uniform with full Klingon make up and thought it was just the coolest costume ever. Not everyone agreed. I wasn’t getting beat up on a daily basis like some people who talk about getting bullied. Generally it was just mean jokes, pranks, and isolation. The things I thought were “cool” just weren’t that cool to my class mates.

My first two years of High School sucked pretty consistently. I had a pretty tight small group of friends. But it was a big school and people thought I was an easy target. Probably mostly due to my lack of confidence. I got in some fights, that mostly resulted in teachers breaking it up before a clear victor could be established either way, but they were also pretty unskillful on my part. I changed schools for my Junior & Senior years to a much smaller and smarter school. It wasn’t a true charter school, it was basically a great big experiment inspired by the Dot Com boom, and was very technology focused. We had a computer at every desk. By and large this place was heaven for me, and it was the first place that I had a large group of friends. A lot of the students there had escaped other school where they had been having similar experiences as myself. This was the Nerd school, where the people who would have qualified as the “cool kids” at my old school were in the vast minority. It was the first place where I really started to learn that being a nerd was not only alright, it was a good thing. I flourished there, and when I identify myself by which High School I went to, I identify as a student from there and mostly forget about the other place.

I wouldn’t say college was the same experience, but my nerdiness was a lot more acceptable there. People generally took me for who I was. Sometimes that turned into friendships, not always but it never really turned negative either. Being the smart kid is encouraged in college. The teachers aren’t “the enemy” at least not usually. No one is really resistant to that awesome process of learning shit. That isn’t to say we always enjoy the subject, but we’re also not teenagers in High School anymore at the peak of our instantaneous rebellion phase.

Well that covers school, but what about the real world? I won’t go so far as to say that nerds rule the world, I don’t think we do. But we do really well for ourselves out here. I’ve found ways to turn my nerdy nature to my advantage in business. For instance, I use to play around with Excel for fun, usually for D&D related purposes. I taught myself more things about Excel then most people learn in a semester long class about Microsoft Office or people who use it every day, but under utilize it because they don’t even think to push the boundaries of what the software can do. One of my nerdier aspects is that I’m very aware if not hyper aware of myself and where my position is in the terrain around me, especially socially. It’s made me very introspective. I use that trait regularly in customer service to examine people and situations I encounter. I can jump in and tackle a problem in the moment, but I’m also very good at stopping afterwards and looking back to see how the problem could have been avoided, or how I could have handled it better.

There’s a web & media campaign out there regarding bullying which has drawn increasing media attention lately. The It Gets Better Project it’s mostly about giving the victims of bullying hope for the future, that it gets better out in the real world. It’s a great message, and I approve, but having been one of those kids, I had parents and counselors and teachers say “it gets better” to me, and that didn’t do me a whole hell of a lot of good at the time. I gave me hope to keep struggling on, but it didn’t stop the bullying then, and it doesn’t now. I appreciate the movement and the effort, I just wonder if it isn’t attacking the problem from the wrong side. But then that’s probably another blog post.

So anyways, as an adult I’ve learned to fly my Nerd Flag high and proud. I’ve started going to conventions and I’m not embarrassed of my nerdy tattoos or nerdy hobbies. I’ve also come to realize that almost everyone has a little nerd in them about something, at least most passionate and successful people do. It’s not always about the things that most people would consider Nerdy, but the guy that can tell you all the stats of every member of his fantasy football league is nerding out about football. The GM of my property can talk for hours about architecture and construction methods, he’s a construction nerd. My beloved fiancée, doesn’t choose to embrace the nerd label, but she loves American history, she’s even played a drinking game based around naming the US Presidents. In the end, I love being a Nerd, even though it hasn’t always been an easy path to walk, I wouldn’t have it be any other way.

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Amazing Two-Face Cosplay

This is the sort of thing that makes me want to go to SDCC so bad!

Not so that I can do it, but to see it with my own eyes. I love this level of dedication from the fans out there and witnessing it….even if it does exceed my own fandom.

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This Week in Nerd…

I’m reading the Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8 comics on my Xoom and absolutely loving it. I was up for 2 hours last night as the fiance slept reading. Joss Whedon is just one of my favorite story tellers. Let’s sum this up in a nut shell….the Buffy series finale on TV was world shattering, and the Angel series finale was a massive cliff hanger because they weren’t expecting to have the show cancelled. Angel still has one of my favorite final lines/scenes from a TV Series, all of our battered heroes gathered in an alley while literal hell consumes LA, Angel standing at the forefront with a sword and he says “I get the dragon” END OF SHOW! The Buffy and Angel comics essentially pick up where the TV series’ left us hanging. Sunnydale has been destroyed, but now there are not just one (err…I mean two) Slayers, there are hundreds of them around the world, and army of hot chicks with super powers for Buffy to lead against the forces of evil. LA has been sucked into some hell dimension and the heroes of Angel struggle to survive, even though some of them are dead and ghosts. Yeah…if you weren’t a fan of Buffy & Angel, this just isn’t the read for you. But if you were a fan, these books are just delightful because Joss is still essentially the “show runner” like he was on the TV show, overseeing the story arch and much of the dialogue (which I think Joss Whedon is a master of) still has his distinctive word play, rhythm, and humor. Add to that, there’s no budget constraining the creative process as far as special effects, and we get a globe spanning epic adventure that the TV series probably couldn’t have pulled off at the time. It’s what I wish they would do with the Serenity/Firefly comics, but the graphic novels of that series I’ve picked up have mostly been disappointing from a “continuing the storyline” standpoint. These comics have also been out for a while, so they might not be news to anyone, but I’ve been plowing through them lately, and I wanted to share that.

Also, in recent Nerd World news, Star Trek TOS, TNG, Voyager, and Enterprise are all available on Netflix streaming! NERDGASM OOOOOOOOOOOH! It’s one of the shows I’ve been wishing for Netflix to carry since I got my account. I already own almost all of TNG (I didn’t bother buying the 2nd season) and most of DS9 on DVD. I went out and bought them before I had things like credit card debt, car insurance, rent, utilities, and so forth. And over all the DVD sets just aren’t worth money they charge. At a price point of nearly $100 a season ($110 when I bought most of them actually), that’s nearly double what you pay for most TV show DVD sets. And for what? The special features are woefully inadequate (no episode commentary from cast, crew & creators is my biggest complaint for the price point), the packaging isn’t all that unique, collectible, or awesome, and there’s just nothing special about them really. Having them all a few clicks away on Netflix is just totally awesome. Even for the ones I have on DVD, because they’ll be far more accessible to me this way then in my massive binders of DVDs. DS9 as usual got the shaft and isn’t available. Which is disappointing for me. Not everyone liked DS9, especially since it and Babylon 5 were on TV as about the same time and they were very similar series. DS9 was darker than TNG and TOS, and had a very different story telling technique. Namely, instead of just the occasional 2 part episode, or an episode that referenced back to a previous episode event, we had truly serialized story telling with story arcs that spanned an entire season or more. The Dominion War put out some of my favorite Trek episodes. I still credit a lot of that to Ronald D Moore, because you can see the similarities between DS9’s narrative and Battlestar Galactica’s, and then the horrible disparities in the disappointment that was Star Trek Voyager. Voyager that the potential to be dark, and gritty and show an entirely different side to Trek. A singular Federation starship, thrown across the galaxy and making its way back home 70,000 light years had so much more potential. They occasionally scratched on it, but not nearly enough. There should have been a constant struggle for basic supplies and resources, even with replicator technology. It frankly should have been a lot more like Stargate Universe and Battlestar Galactica then Gilligan’s Island.

I finally saw X-Men First Class last week. I deemed it a good addition to the franchise, a far better contribution then X-Men 3: Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine. I really enjoyed that it tried very hard to stick to the essential back story of Magneto and Professor X as two friends that turned into violent enemies. It took some liberties with the cannon that I didn’t appreciate, like reinventing Angel, a character we already saw on-screen correctly, into a stripper with bug wings and exploding spit. I don’t mind them inventing new cannon and new characters as necessary, and oddly I didn’t mind the reinvented Moria McTaggert, but it’s a fine line for them to walk between appeasing the masses of the movie going population and pleasing the die-hard comic fans. I realized that despite January Jones being an astoundingly beautiful women, and damn did I appreciate her in the canonically appropriate skimpy White Queen outfits, she’s not a great actress. Which Mad Men has fooled me into believing, but look at January as White Queen and Betty Draper, she’s not really doing that much different, it’s just enough that she’s gorgeous really. Jennifer Lawrence was amazing as Mystique/Raven though, and I didn’t mind that they replaced Juggernaut with Mystique for Professor X’s adopted sibling that turns villain. Jennifer Lawrence brought a humanity and sympathy to the character that just wasn’t there in the earlier movies where she was just Rebecca Romijn in nothing but some scales and blue body paint making my pants a few sizes too small whenever she was on-screen. And Jennifer Lawrence did this great job while looking hot too. Over all I wouldn’t be opposed to there being another X-Men movie set with this team in the past. I think they could do some really great stuff with it as a period piece that would speak to the core themes that X-Men were originally about. Hell it’s set in the time period when X-Men first started being published. Let’s use the X-Men movies more like the original comics tried to occasionally, and great Sci-Fi should let’s use it to start a discussion through metaphor about social topics and issues that are controversial or uncomfortable to talk about. X-Men has always been a great platform to explore civil rights.

My plans to play a Gamma World campaign are moving along nicely. At least for our table play testing we’ll be using some slightly illegal proxy cards to see if we want to invest in the game fully. It’s a topic we’ll be discussing tomorrow night at our every-other-week game session of traditional D&D. I’m still really excited to give it a chance, my favorite part of being a DM is world building, and I love finding new sandboxes to play in.

Lastly, I’ve become a huge fan of the Philip DeFranco Show on the YouTubes. It’s like John Stewart on the Daily Show, but with someone more my age, and coming out of the internet in a way that only the internet can provide. A glimpse of entertainment in the future? Perhaps…. Check out a couple of episodes, they’re short, but fun.

Well, I wish everyone a Happy 4th of July. I’m working tonight, just like last 4th of July, but if I’m not too busy, I should still be able to see the fireworks on property. Everyone else, go drink some beer for me and have some barbeque! It’s a’mur’ick’an!

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