Posts Tagged TV shows

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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Getting Back on the Wagon

OK...there was no dysentery involved

I’m going to try to not make this another lame post about how I haven’t been posting anything. I meant to write something on Tuesday, but between watching Alcatraz and The Finder, going to lunch with the wife, and the weekly loads of laundry, I just really couldn’t be bothered. Thursday was occupied with other endeavors, I’ll talk about that later.

I have this to say this about Alcatraz. J.J. Abrams is giving us another show with Jorge Garcia, an Island, a narrative tied together with flashback, time travel, AND A GODS DAMNED ISLAND! You’re killing me Smalls! We haven’t seen the big red sphere yet, but just wait it’ll be there. That all being said, I’m enjoying the show quite a bit. Sarah Jones the show’s lead is not only quite attractive.

Exhibit A

But is quite a great actress so far too. The show has called for a good amount of range from her so far and she’s pulled it all off as far as I’m concerned. I also love that they’ve taken pains to set the show in San Francisco which has a very iconic look and feel to it, and they’ve done their best to match that. I hate it when shows are set in places I’m familiar with and are quite obviously filmed nowhere near that place, usually on a sound stage for “generic city block”. I’m looking at you Charmed! THAT IS NOT SAN FRANCISCO! Not only that but I don’t think anyone involved in your set design has ever even been to San Francisco! Aside from the fact that I thought Journeyman would have been an awesome show, I loved it for all the great location work too. I know San Francisco probably isn’t a cheap city to shoot in, but if Nash Bridges could make it work, then I don’t see why others can’t.

The show also has a much heavier procedural element to tie it together than a lot of J.J.’s other shows, except maybe Fringe. Yet the mythology is thick enough that I think it can really grow some legs.

I don’t have too much to say about The Finder yet. It’s a nice twist on your typical crime procedural. I was intrigued after hearing Hart Hanson talk on  the Nerdist Writer’s Panel about it and Bones. It hasn’t evoked a visceral response from me like Alcatraz has though. It certainly has its share of sexy in the show, which helps. Come to think of it, I actually found myself watching more of The Finder than Alcatraz, but I think that’s because, kind of like Bones it’s a light little jolly rancher of entertainment and I can watch it while doing other things. Alcatraz like Lost makes me feel like I really need to be paying attention to what’s going on to catch everything. Sometimes that’s just too much work in my entertainment. Like Hart Hanson said on the panel you gotta try and sum up the show like a little old lady living in a trailer, and “I’m gonna watch that show about the guy that finds stuff.” If I’m not feeling like being intellectually challenged.

Work has been a little nuts. 2 days before I was supposed to leave for 11 days for the wedding and honeymoon, one of the property owners walks in and says “We’re breaking ground on the new pool on Thursday.” It was Monday as he was saying this. And not even early Monday, like Monday afternoon. What ensued was a mad dash for me to get the ball rolling on my staff making all the necessary calls to notify our guests that would be affected by a fairly major endeavor. This is supposed to be a 3 month project. That’s a lot of phone calls people. Not only that, but update the announcements on our website, confirmation letters, Facebook, and send out massive email blasts to our guests as well. Guess who found out that our email server can only send out 500 messages in an hour before crapping out? That’s right, the hotelnerd. Suffice it to say I was still coordinating stuff on Friday morning as I was also at the venue prepping for the wedding.

For this and a variety of reasons, I’m glad that I had already started quietly looking for new employment within the industry. I actually just had my second interviews for two different properties yesterday. I’ve got my fingers and toes firmly crossed that one of them pans out….and also that I don’t break my streak. I’ve never had a second interview for a job and not gotten at least an offer. My wife has been working double time to make sure I don’t get my hopes up too high. Guess what? They’re freaking high.

I still love most of the aspects of my job, my staff (generally), the property (gorgeous), my fellow managers, my immediate boss, and the guests I get to work with (even the crazy ones, they give me blogging material after all), but the strain of working for a complete an utter madman (the property owner not my GM) has finally gotten to me. It’s kind of scary how common jokes about hiring a hit man have become around the office. All of the managers have been suffering together. The pool project is just the easiest to explain example of the madness this man puts us through. Oh, and let’s not forget that shortly after my return he made the 6-year-old daughter of a guest cry. True Story. I’m not the first manager to be jumping ship either, so I don’t feel that bad.

So even if these two prospects don’t pan out, I’ll still be out there looking. Time to get while the getting is good. Besides a new hotel will bring all sorts of new material for all of you reading this. And isn’t that what it’s all about?

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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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A little on the nerdy side…

It’s time for a few nerdy updates from me.

What I’m Reading

When Skrulls invade, who can you trust?

Secret Invasion: I’m more than half way through Marvel’s Secret Invasion event and still enjoying it despite the length of the event. Most of the art throughout the event has been superb, and the storytelling suitably epic. The paranoia among our heroes caused by a race of super powerful shape shifting aliens infiltrating their ranks has kept the entire event tense, more so than Civil War did. There’s not really an ideological struggle going on, like in Civil War, a struggle which got old real fast no matter which side of the argument you come down on. Secret Invasion is just a good old super power slug fest against an enemy that obviously deserves it.

What I’m Watching

Immortals: I just got back from seeing Immortals today with a friend. I wasn’t super eager to see it, but it was a good way to spend sometime this afternoon. The movie was far better than I was expecting. The battles were gigantic, and the individual action scenes were masterfully choreographed, better than 300. I especially enjoyed the distinct difference we saw between the Gods & Titans fighting and the battles between mortals. Mortal combat was ultimately a brutal and no frills slug fest. However, watching the Immortals in combat was like watching some kind of dance, they were still gruesomely violent, but always graceful and smooth. The story was compelling enough, if incredibly predictable.

The X-Files: I didn’t watch The X-Files when it was first on TV, but the fiancée and I have been watching it on Netflix starting at episode 1 and moving forward. We’re only about 7 episodes into the first season, but it hasn’t failed to live up to expectations. It’s filled with rich gooey Sci-Fi goodness, and while at times it shows its age in technology and fashion, the storytelling still holds up.

Grimm: Grimm is holding in there as one of my must watch weekly shows. The overall mythology of the show continues to grow with each episode. I’m enjoying the tension between our hero being a monster hunting Grimm and a police officer sworn to uphold the law and the way that those two aspects of the character come into conflict. I haven’t gone out onto the internet to check the ratings, but I’m hopeful that it’s doing well enough, it has a horrible time slot for a new show, but a pretty good lead in with Chuck.

Preparing for a very fond goodbye

Chuck: Speaking of Chuck. It was announced last year when the show was renewed that this would be the final season of Chuck. I’m not horribly torn up by that fact, the show has always been on the bubble one pen stroke away from cancellation. I’ve been prepared for this show to end for a while, but I am enjoying the last season. It’s suitable that this season Chuck gets to prove his mettle by functioning as a world-class spy without the intersect in his head. Ultimately, I’m very glad that the network has given this show a chance to wrap up clean.

What I’m Drooling Over

Motorola Droid Razr: I’m not due for an upgrade until January, and even with 2 year pricing this phone will likely be out of my price range unless there is a significant price cut after the holidays. All that said, I WANT THIS PHONE. Which is a weird thing for me to say with such conviction. I remember the last Razr phone. I never owned one, but given what I heard from everyone I knew that owned one, that was a good thing. It was a super popular design that flopped on technological delivery in almost every way. I’m more hopeful about this version of the Razr though, and I’m looking forward to reading some actual reviews after it has launched and had sometime to get banged around by other people.

Hotness Links

Ouch! That Burns!

COED Magazine has a slide show of The 45 Sexiest Pics of Scarlett Johansson for Her 27th Birthday on their site.This is one of my favorites from the set though. When I was at Immortals earlier today I saw the latest Avengers trailer. I’d be lying if I said Black Widow has become one of my favorite heroes just because Scarlett Johnasson plays her on the silver screen.

Ugo.com posted this awhile ago See Wonder Woman Get A Lap Dance From The Chick From Entourage, but it’s just two awesome to not mention if I’m listing off hotness that makes me need a drool bib. I’ll be seeing this movie eventually.

Also an older post from Ugo.com is their list of Hottest Sci-Fi Girls. I was thinking of putting together a similar list myself, if for no other reason than the research would be incredibly fun.

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New TV Show Review – Grimm

When I saw the trailers for “Grimm” earlier this fall I knew it pretty much looked like exactly my kind of show. They practically had me at “From the producers of Buffy and Angel” granted this isn’t a Joss show, but David Greenwalt was heavily involved in both shows along with a number of other series that I’m quite fond of. I’ve only recently started paying attention to the names of writers and producers of my favorite shows, but his was a name I recognized almost immediately. Add to all that, in its framework “Grimm” is a “police procedural” too, and who does police procedural better than NBC? Law & Order anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller? And I swear if you say CSI or NCIS I will stab you in the face! I’m not very fond of those shows…

Anyways, I was a little bit surprised when the fiancée and I were skimming through our DVR and she asked me to stop on “Grimm”. She read the description of the pilot and said “That sounds interesting. Let’s watch that.” I was a bit incredulous to be honest. I’ve grown a pretty good sense for the shows of “mine” that she’ll enjoy and those she won’t. Knowing a bit more about this series then her, I was pretty sure she wouldn’t, but at the same time I really wanted to watch it. So I hit play and we were off to the races! End result, she didn’t like it, and I enjoy it quite a bit.

A Brief Synopsis: Set in present-day Portland Oregon, the series puts a new twist on the stories of the Brothers Grimm in which a homicide detective, Nick Burkhardt, learns that he is a descendent of a group of hunters known as “Grimms”, who fight to keep humanity safe from the supernatural creatures of the world. Nick’s destiny is to protect every living soul from the sinister storybook characters that live side by side with the rest of us in the normal world. They live concealed by magic and practice, and only the Grimms can see through their camouflage. Not all of the creatures are bad though, some have left behind their monstrous heritage and have integrated with humanity. While others cling to their heritage and continue to pray on humanity. These creatures tell bedtime stories to their spawn of the Grimms where the Grimms are the monsters not them. Nick quickly learns that he has to weed out the good ones from the bad ones.

I wasn’t hooked from the very first instant, but by the end of the pilot I was pretty excited. There is the beginnings of what could be a mythology and back story just as rich and wonderful as Buffy tied together with really neat little re-imaginings of old fairy tales. The first two episodes relied heavily on fairy tales that we’re all familiar with, Little Red Riding Hood and Goldilocks and the Three Bears. I know that Goldilocks isn’t a Grimm tale, but whatever, that’s not really important. The entire premise of the show is that all fairy tales are somehow grounded in the reality of this world. They’ve just been jumbled over the years, and humanity has forgotten the truth within them. My one point of concern as I write this post, is that Grimm will start to run out of fairy tales if all their going to do is re-imagine them in their setting. Those stories are going to have to become the little one-off stories that get folded into each season along with episodes that deal mostly with an over all arc and the show’s greater mythology. A lot like Buffy and Angel did quite successfully. I think if the corporate higher-ups and Network Execs don’t get in the way of their creative team that they’ll be able to do just that. We’ll see. I was fairly disappointed with several of NBC’s new shows last season, fortunately they were also rather ruthless in cutting the under performers. Grimm is kind of high concept for a major network though, and I hope they give it a chance, because after only 2 episodes I have more confidence in this show then I did after 2 episodes of The Cape last season.

Although thinking of The Cape does make me wish they had a Summer Glau or similar hotness on the cast of Grimm. They’re somewhat lacking in that department.And now I feel obliged to post an obligatory picture of Summer Glau looking amazing. Add someone like this to the cast and you just might seal the deal Grimm.

A little more of this please....

But maybe not Summer, her shows keep getting killed far too soon. No matter how good they are. I hear Yvonne Strahovski is going to be unemployed soon (I’m going to miss Chuck) maybe she can sign on? She’s already working for NBC too. Brilliant!

Just right....

Let’s face it sexy sells, and Grimm needs just a little more sexy on the screen. Joss always knew that one.

I’m not going to try to boil this show down into a numerical score or letter grade. I think it’s too soon to really do that. I would recommend this show to most people who are fans of shows with good writing, solid acting, and are willing to suspend their disbelief. If you’re a fan of the fantasy genre, especially the “urban fantasy” genre then I would highly recommend this show. If you’re a fan on The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher, then give it a try. If those last 3 sentences didn’t really apply to you, then go ahead and skip it. I’ll keep tuning in, and my fingers are crossed that by the end of this season this show will be at the top of my must watch list.

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TRON: Uprising

OK, so I just stumbled across this randomly on the Internets. Am I the last person to hear that there’s going to be a TRON cartoon series? Apparently it’s set in between TRON and TRON: Legacy and it’s called TRON: Uprising. I’m very very excited. The cast is pretty impressive for an animated project. I’d be more excited if it was somehow going to be live action, but I could see that becoming very old in a TV series, and disappointing. Animation is probably the best way to do it in reality. Anyways, here’s the trailer. Looks pretty cool.

End of line.

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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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No more hanging out with Vince and the gang

So long old friends...

I know not everyone loves this show. In fact most people I encounter either love it or hate it. I’m in the love column, and this morning I watched the final episode of season 8 and the entire series. I guess it did everything a series finale should do, because I still wanted more. I guess if anything I felt 8 episodes was too short for the final season. It felt a little rushed and I wanted more time to say goodbye. And correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think there were any naked breasts in this season at all. What the hell? This season could have pretty much been on any network. There’s a reason it was always on HBO! Language, nudity, and adult situations damn it.

And maybe I’m most upset that Sloan (Emmanuelle Chriqui) got through another season with her top on. Audible Sigh. I won’t lie sometimes I select a show just based on the hot ladies it has on it. I’ve more than once considered starting a weekly segment about the incredibly hot celebrities out there that often grace the background of my desktop computer at home. I’d call it “Hotness of the Week”. Just not sure if I want that to be a focus of this blog, but this blog is about me at the stuff I like. And I do like looking at them. Also not sure how that would fly with the fiancée…It isn’t like it’s some big secret… Philip DeFranco gets away talking about “Guy Shtuff” as he calls it all the time, and he’s basically just video blogging. Anyways, just some brain thoughts I’ve had…back on topic…

Over all Season 8 just felt like Season 7.5 since both were so short, even by HBO series standards. It was good old Entourage fun, and I subscribe to the notion that the series got out before jumping the shark, although I know there are those out there that wouldn’t agree. There’s always someone on the internet who won’t agree with such a subjective assessment. The characters grew and developed over time and that was awesome to watch. Once you got attached to all of them, they were like your friends. That’s what made watching all their disasters and shenanigans so much fun!

I know that there are fairly credible rumors of a movie coming out, but the script hasn’t even been written yet, so who knows how that will pan out. If you loved the series, this was a decent enough finale. Not so much “goodbye” as “see you later” (hopefully). If you didn’t love the series, well then you won’t much care that it’s over.

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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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