Posts Tagged Netflix

The Night Shift

Hello there bloggity type people! Yup, been a long time. The last two months have just been a flurry of changes and activity that has shattered my fledgling blogging habit. My apologies. So let’s get caught up! This Thursday will be the end of my fourth week at my new job. This last four weeks also involved a pretty major move too a much bigger house. We’re still renters but it still feels very grown up for us.

The new job has been amazing. The first week was a little terrifying. The difference from my last property to my new one is like a minor league ball player getting moved up to the big leagues. I felt a little like I was on an episode of Sliders and I had just slid onto an alternate world. This world looks like my home dimension in most every respect, but there are tinny subtle but sometimes mind bending differences.

The differences from a 41 room independent boutique resort in the country to a 600 room luxury major brand city hotel are enormous, but absolutely what I was looking for. The commute for the first week, before we moved, was a hellish 2 hours on top of the mental strain of all the new information I had to absorb. Since moving I’ve settled in and found my legs. My training is semi complete, but they’ve already thrown me to the wolves, having me work solo manager shifts after about a week, which felt entirely too soon, but I survived.

Our move left us within a 5 minute drive of a BART train station, it’s still a 50ish minute ride from there, but so much better to me then even a 30 minute car ride (mostly). I get to kick back and watch TV shows on Netflix or hulu, or stuff I downloaded. I already caught up on the new series of Sherlock riding the train. Kinda nice. Not Sherlock. Sherlock was fraking amazing! It just leaves me constantly wishing that series was awesome. Totally looking forward to the US CBS remake…no not really! Shut up! Riding BART has been kinda nice. I don’t have to worry about falling asleep behind the wheel, that’s a huge plus. And so far writing this blog post on my Xoom has been nice.

At the moment I’m sitting on BART ridding in for my first of four training graveyard shifts this week. That’s something I’m not looking forward to, but I knew it was going to be a requirement when i took the job. I did one training night audit at my last job, I’m not afraid of the work, if anything at this job I’m looking forward to the potential for crazy guest stories I might get to live through, I’m just not looking forward to the hours. I love my sleep! More importantly I love sleeping next to my wife in our new king sized bed!

My fellow BART riders have been interesting at times. Things I’ve seen have included, a crazy lady screaming at the entire train in some Asian language and English curse words. A wandering street preacher guy walking down the train telling us damnation was coming to us all. And yesterday a four man team running a classic shell con game. I never knew that people still did that, I thought it was just a TV thing now. And what’s amazing is people fell for it! Really!? How is that still possible? Stupid. And St Patrick’s Day night was not a pretty sight. Drunk people everywhere.

Anyways, I hope to make blogging on my commute a more regular practice, since I never have time at work any more…and web filters to worry about. Thanks everyone!

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TV Show Review – Primeval Season 4

Dinosaurs better watch out!

A BBC show about time travel, dinosaurs, future monsters, and fancy technology? Oh and let’s not forget hot British actresses. You had me at dinosaurs really. Primeval is one of those Sci-Fi shows that always seems to fly under the radar, I watched and highly enjoyed the first 3 seasons, which is remarkable considering almost every season they’ve gone through a major casting upheaval and time travel usually gives me a headache. But then I finished season 3 and is so often the case with BBC shows that aren’t Doctor Who I kind of forgot about it for a while. The episode runs on BBC shows are so short and the gap in between seasons or “series” as they call them is so long, I don’t know how anything actually keeps an audience over there.

In England: Dinosaurs + Hot Former Pop Star = More Sci-Fi for us all!

Anyways, I realized that there was series 4 and 5 of Primeval on my Comcastic onDemand service yesterday and managed to plow through 4 episodes before the fiancée got home. Now over all this isn’t the best Sci-Fi show ever conceived of and put on the air, but it always managed to worm its way into my heart, not least of all because I’m very aware that this show probably wouldn’t have made it half way through its first season if it had been on in the states.

So far the first 4 episodes of series 4 have proven to be just as enjoyable as seasons 1 – 3. Monster of the week type missions with little hints to this season’s major plot line which will likely all come together in the finale. The team has undergone another minor cast upheaval including adding Star Trek DS9 alum Alexander Siddig to the cast. Usually we hardly ever see former Star Trek cast members after their series ends, so that was a nice little surprise for my nerd brain.

Hannah Spearritt - Gotta love British Pop stars turned actress in Sci-Fi shows

Hannah Spearritt as Abby managed to survive into the 4th season and return from being stranded in the past along with Andrew Lee Potts as Connor. And YAY! The nerd gets the hot girl! Always gotta appreciate that. There’s nothing like getting stranded in a per-historic horror land to bring two hearts together.

When last we left Connor and Abby at the end of season 3, they had traveled into the past to save the first humans from being killed, thus saving the human race in the future. But then they were trapped there, and stayed trapped for an entire year. It doesn’t really matter how they got back, because the only reason they were left in the past was so that the show could go through a new visual and casting overhaul for season 4. I’m sure they’ll find some way to tie it into the over all mythology of the season, but it hasn’t yet 4 episodes in. All we know is their new team leader, Matt Anderson, is secretly meeting with some old man out in the country and talking about how Abby, Connor, or Captain Becker could be the cause of something. Presumably this is the future disaster that destroys mankind, creates the super predators and causes the anomalies in time to start appearing in the first place. I’m only 4 episodes in, but that seems to be the most logical course of that little plot line. Of course they have access to some form of Future Knowledge, but it’s non-specific enough that they’re left guessing as to who their suspect really is. Great. Have I mentioned that I hate time travel? It always gives me a headache. Let’s just hunt so monsters thrown through time for Queen and Country damn it!

Hot geek girls with a british accent? Yes please!

Also Ruth Kearney as Jess Parker, the team’s new resident button pusher/techno geek girl is just absolutely lovely. She’s simply adorable! My only wish is that there were more pictures of her on the internet. The show has really been showing off her remarkable legs lately, but she doesn’t have much of a web presence. Let’s see if she can actually survive the season though, as really only 3 cast members have stuck around since season 1. This is a show that killed off its main heroic male lead and still survived to tell the tale! That doesn’t happen anywhere but on the BBC in my experience.

Well I’m on the 2nd day of my weekend and aside from some small errands (like going to pick out my wedding ring finally) I’ll probably be spending it watching Primeval and getting my laundry done for the week.

Season 4 holds up compared to the 3 preceding seasons if you were a fan of the show, I say keep watching. If you haven’t watched before but what I’ve described sounds up your alley, then start at the beginning and catch up with us. I don’t recommend using this as a jumping on point, because despite the “monster of the week” episodic nature of most of the episodes, there is an overall serialized story line happening as well that might not make too much sense if you jump in here. I think at least the 1st season is on Netflix streaming, but if not get the DVDs or…use “other methods” that I’ll let you figure out for yourself.

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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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Netflix again…

Alright, so I’m still intrigued by the Netflix firestorm, and I wanted to share these two articles I came across during a break today.

Why Netflix Raised Its Price – on Yahoo. This one was nice because the author was able to actually speak with a Netflix spokesman, versus most of what I’ve seen out there, and most of what I’ve written which has just been pure conjecture. According to the spokesman, some of my conjecture is right, and some of it missed the mark. I think it’s significant that Netflix admits that they foresaw the backlash that arose, the decreased membership, and are still happy with their financial forecasts. This was not a spontaneous decision on their part.

And then this article was referenced in the first, but I just wanted to share it separately, because it seemed to warrant it. Netflix Alternatives: Other Places You Can Get Streaming Media, DVD Rentals – from PC World. I like this one, because it proves part of my argument right, that even with the price increase Netflix is still the better deal for most people.

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It is possible to have too much business

The recent firestorm around Netflix reminded me of a recent conversation my GM and I had about our hotel occupancy. Last year our annual average occupancy was 89% which is amazingly high especially in this economy, most properties in our competitive set would kill for a 70% average right now.

How did we interpret this number? Our rates were too low, and so in 2011 we raised rates for the first time in 3 years. Not a gigantic amount, between 10-20% depending on the room and time of year. The reasoning for this was that we had been too busy. Our goal is 85% occupancy, which was our average in the 3 years before 2010. Not much less and not much more.

Less occupancy and we see a drop in revenue which we obviously don’t want. Above 85% and we’re literally too busy, it becomes difficult to get into the rooms to do bigger maintenance projects and deep cleaning while the wear and tear on the rooms continues and the quality of our product falls resulting in discounts and lost revnue. 85% is the magic number we’ve picked. So when we hit above that, it was time to raise rates, in the hope that it would actually lower our occupancy closer to 85%. We’d be less busy, but hopefully make the same or greater revenue as a result. July is the first month of the new rates, but so far the change is paying off as planned. We’ll get to do maintenance projects easier without having to sacrifice revenue generation. It’s actually a tactic that we never discussed in school and I found very interesting. We’ve done the same thing with our spa rates over the years. When the spa gets too busy, and we’re sold out every day and slamming with business, it’s time to raise rates so that we can work less hard, provide a better spa environment, and either increase or maintain profits.

Netflix is likely trying to do the same thing to a certain extent. That is to say, they’re trying to encourage their customers to choose one of their new standalone packages, which will decrease the need for infrastructure in one or both of their services. And charge a premium for those that want the option of both. I saw the argument out there that they haven’t added any value to either product, and with the DVDs that might be true, you can’t really add any value to that service already, other than adding additional DVDs rented simultaneously for the same price. But the streaming service, they’ve adding value constantly. I blogged not long ago about the addition of most of the Star Trek catalog to the streaming service. And while they aren’t adding the “newest releases” to the streaming service (yet) they’re constantly expanding that library with the products that the big studios will license to them. The added value just wasn’t tied directly to the new price points. Hell considering I’m planning to save $2/month the added options is added value for me.

I guess I’m saying this. Netflix knew they were going to lose customers over the new prices. How could they not after all? And a lot of them are probably the customers that already weren’t getting their full value out of the service. Essentially dead weight in their membership. Sure those members weren’t costing Netflix in postage or bandwidth, but I’m pretty sure Netflix doesn’t pay for stamps, they’re contract with the post office is probably a lump sum determined by their membership numbers, not their actual use (that’s pure conjecture, but it kind of makes sense). And then they’re asking the members they hold onto (like me) to make a choice, select a more limited plan that reflects your actual demand, or pay a premium for the option of both. Once again, this is deliberate strategy. Netflix is about to go into negotiations with the studios, and I’m hoping they want to show them that DVDs are a dying medium and that digital distribution (preferably through Netflix) is the way to go. The writing is on the walls in this regard, DVD/BlueRay are rapidly going the way of VHS, Betamax, and the Dinosaurs. And though it’s not plainly stated I imagine being able to demonstrate the clear divide between steaming customers, DVD customers, and those with both will factor strategically into Netflix’s negotiations with the studios.

Remember this old gem?

Anyways, I just wanted to put that thought out there. It seems counter intuitive to a lot of people that a business can have too many customers and be too busy. Just think of high school Econ class and those old Supply and Demand graphs and the old invisible hand of the market making them intersect. That’s all we’re looking at here.

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Avengers Assemble!…oh and Netflix and Game of Thrones talk….

So a little nerd talk today…

Avengers Assemble

Just watched the last episode of the latest Avengers cartoon series that Marvel has put out (thank you Netflix Instant watch). All told, I think it’s one of the better cartoon series that Marvel has put out. They didn’t stay true to comic book cannon, but I think even most diehard fans have to admit that trying to do so is a fool’s errand. After all with a comic like the Avengers where would you start? Back in the 70’s at the beginning? That wouldn’t pull in the mainstream, heck there are comic fans that would have trouble with that. No, they did a very good job in my opinion of staying true to the characters and the themes of the Avengers and even adapting stories from the comics into a different format. They told a few origin stories, and just as that was starting to become a drag, they assembled the team, in a manner very similar to how the original Avengers team formed. In fact I quickly realized that they used the exact original team roster for their starting cast and was very pleased by that. I’ve always been frustrated by the X-Men cartoons for never even trying to honor that piece of cannon, especially when it would have been so much easier to do so. They made the team form in the modern era which was perfectly OK with me. And they used bits and pieces from the movies, specifically the Iron Man movies (like a black Nick Fury). They also haven’t been afraid to play with the team roster, subtracting and adding new members. That was something they did well with X-Men Evolution, but that the original X-Men cartoon series always drove me nuts with. That is bringing in team members from the comics for just one or two episodes as a guest start, but never having them join the team or stick around for long. I could never understand that in a cartoon where voice actors are relatively cheap compared to adding a cast member to a live action series, but I’m sure there was some weird business reason for it. The entire process of watching this Avengers cartoon has even got me going back to read some comics again via my Xoom.

Also, over at ThinkGeek I found this DVD of every Star Trek comic book released from 1967-2002 stored in PDF. It makes me ask the question, why isn’t every comic book company doing this with their franchises? For a long time I’ve referred to myself as a recovering comic book addict. In my teens I collected a lot, and read every issue and loved comics. When it became time to pay rent, go to school, work, and all around support myself as an adult, I stopped having time to read comics and so I couldn’t really justify the expense anymore. I still have my entire collection, stored in Rubbermaid containers in my closet. I’ve considered getting back into the hobby multiple times, but I’m the sort of collector that would feel the need to gather up every back issue in between now and when I first quit, or at least graphic novels of the major story arcs. That’s a major and daunting investment, and a high barrier of re-entry for me. I know that much of the information is out there to figure out what happened in the interim, Wikipedia is actually fairly helpful for that. Aside from the expense of getting back into the hobby, comics take up an insane amount of space, and I just don’t have anymore room for them in my physical life. But I think the DVD containing digital copies of the comics is absolute genius. I’m told that Marvel has much of their issues available via a digital subscription package, but they haven’t built an app for the Android OS yet, and the only way I see digital copies working for me is if I can read them on my Xoom. The screen is actually perfect for that purpose. So for the time being, I’ll use less legitimate sources…. shhhhh don’t tell anyone.

And if you’re curious, I started reading an old Avengers mini series from a few years ago titled Avengers Forever, and loving it so far. I plan to move on to some of the other major Marvel Universe story events afterwards, like Civil War and House of M. Or go back and actually read Age of Apocalypse and/or Onslaught in their entirety. I haven’t decided yet.

Netflix raises prices? Not really....

Elsewhere, I received an email from Netflix yesterday, as did the rest of their subscribers I guess concerning their new membership plans. My morning news told me that Twitter and Facebook are all abuzz, mostly with outrage over the plan, and I can’t entirely see why. I’m paying $10 a month right now for unlimited streaming and unlimited DVDs (1 at a time). I never really use the DVD features though, if it’s not available on instant watch then I usually just don’t watch it, or I go see if it’s on OnDemand on my cable box. I’ve only ever gotten 1 DVD from them, I never opened it and haven’t sent it back yet. So their new plan makes perfect sense for me. I’ll change over to unlimited streaming only and save $2 a month, thank you Netflix. I imagine there are other people out there with Netflix subscriptions that never use their streaming and only want DVDs, they can also save some cash. This is only a price increase for those that use (or want) both features, and I guess I can understand their consternation, because this is pretty much a 50% rate jump and they’re not getting anything new. But who isn’t raising their prices these days? At least they’re offering an option that allows some of us to safe a little cash, they didn’t have to do that. They could have left the “stand alone” packages at $10 a month and jacked the combined package up to $15 still and told us all tough cookies. Seriously, who else offers a service like Netflix and offers it as good as they do? No one. Blockbuster has a DVD mail service, and I imagine they have some sort of streaming, but I don’t know for certain. Other places offer purely streaming services but most of them you have to pay-per-view (Apple and Amazon I’m looking at you). Netflix just does it better, and they have to make a profit still. Ultimately, I hope this will let them demonstrate to the movie companies that their subscribers really want Instant Watch and don’t care about the physical DVDs as much and we can get new releases when they’re actually new. That’s where this is all heading after all.

The Dragon is also the Hotness!

I’m most of the way through the Game of Thrones audiobook. Maybe I haven’t discussed it here, but I do most of my “reading” via audiobook these days. I find I want to consume all these stories, but I don’t have a tremendous amount of time to just sit and read. Comics are easy to pick up and put down, but generally I want to spend more time with a book. Right now I save my “book reading” energy for two series of novels The Dresden Files, which the newest book is coming out later this month (FINALLY!) and the Emberverse books (see my books page) which the newest will be out this fall. Otherwise I generally listen to audiobooks. I listen while I’m in the car especially since I spend over 2 hours every work day commuting (round trip) and usually as I’m falling asleep at night, or at the gym, or doing chores around the house if there’s nothing on TV. A well produced audiobook is a pleasure to enjoy. And Game of Thrones has been especially great after watching the first season of the HBO series. To my surprise and delight, I’ve found that the series is a tremendously accurate rendition of the book. Some people seem to think that the best compliment to a book is that they turn it into a movie. That’s just not true. So many books are too big for a movie, and Game of Thrones is a perfect example. Doing a short 10 episode season of TV allows for a far better translation of a complex book onto a screen. I just wish more people in Hollywood had figured this out sooner. There are many scenes that are practically torn from the pages, and even exact dialogue put straight into the actors mouths. Now that I’m almost done with the audiobook and the series is awaiting the 2nd season, I’m torn with a dilemma. Do I carry on with the audiobooks and listen to the rest of the series? Or do I wait for season 2 to come out entirely and then listen to the audiobook? Either way, I’ll be technically “spoiling the story” of one format for the other since they’ve stayed so true. A problem I haven’t faced with a similar series like True Blood since the book and TV show, which I both enjoy, are just different enough from one another to let me enjoy them independently.

I’ll have to consider this further.

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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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