Friday, January 31, 2014

Neil Gaiman Reading Green Eggs and Ham

There is something interesting about watching Neil Gaiman read Green Eggs and Ham.

It is one of those things you can't explain to people. They have to watch it themselves.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Once More Cracked Got it Right

One website I really love if Cracked,com. They have about the best articles you can find on the internet, ever.
They are well written, well thought out and have humor to them.
So today I found this one:

Yes, 4 Reasons 'Star Wars' Is Better Than 'Star Trek' is perfect.  That title says it all.

And there so much truth in the title alone.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Only Way To Make The Lone Ranger Movie Make Sense

So last night we had what I will term as a 'bad movie night'. My wife rented two movies that we had heard were bad, but were curious about: 'Percy Jackson; Sea of Monsters' and 'Disney's The Lone Ranger'. They were both bad movies that I can truly not recommend to anyone.

As this blog's title suggests I will be focusing on The Lone Ranger.

The main feeling I got through out all of the Lone Ranger movie is that our main character at no point felt heroic to me.  Most of the time his actions were non-productive and uninteresting. It was mostly luck that he achieved anything, including his own survival. Near the end he finally started to almost act heroic, even if he still didn't really feel to be so.

I got that he believed in justice and didn't think criminals should be shot in cold blood, but would rather see them have a fair trail and all that. He never once shoots a person. The real contradiction is that he is still however actually involved in allowing these men he won't shoot to die.  The last few, the big bad guys, he allows to die and celebrates their deaths. He doesn't get the moral high ground on this issue. Just because he won't use a gun to kill a person, doesn't mean he is not responsible for their deaths if they die through other means that he had a hand in. In fact things would have been much better if he would have killed in cold blood to begin with. It would have worked so much better if there was a feeling that his moral stance was actually beneficial at some level. When your main heroic character makes things worse when he stands to his morals, it just doesn't work.

We also had a really piss poor corruption of a chracter scene that was so horribly done. A good, loyal and patriotic solider does not cross the line to cold blooded criminal puppet that easily.

There were some laughs in there to help so it wasn't a total waste of a movie. And hearing the William Tell Overture made the big final action scene almost feel right.

Now the whole movie is supposedly being told from the point of view of an old Tonto to a young boy in a traveling western museum, I think. As the story is being told Tonto is moving around his little enclosure. At first Tonto looks to be a wax figure in the museum, then he moves and starts to interact with the boy.

With how little sense the story makes, how poor most of the motivations are and how so much of it feels like some kid put it together, I was able to figure out what is actually going on that would make the most sense.

The kid is eating peanuts when we first see him.  My guess is those peanuts were laced with something and the kids is hallucinating when he see the wax Tonto, and he believes it to be real.  The story is actually all in his drugged out mind.

It really is the only conclusion that makes any sense of the whole movie.

Denver Comic Con 2013

This time around I will be talking about Denver Comic Con 2013.  It was just a great weekend of fandom on so many levels.  Yes, there were crowds and long lines and at times it got frustrating, but in the end it was highly enjoyable. 

For me the greatest part of the convention was the interactions with artists who entertain us across all forms of media.  DCC was incredible this last year with that interaction for my family.   

We got to meet Colin Baker, the actor who played the Sixth Doctor in Dr. Who, really nice and outgoing.  

 We had a great conversation with Daphne Askbrook (She played companion Grace Hollaway in the Doctor Who movie from the late 90s) who was just so excited about all the people she met, claiming to be a huge people watcher.  

 We also had a truly memorable exchange with Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca from Star Wars) who we had met 10 years ago at Starfest.  My oldest son Quinn was three at the time, bet he remembers the meeting.  We gave Mayhew a picture of the two of them from Starfest and it really seemed to mean a lot to him. So now we have some updated photos of them meeting again.
My boys went  in their improved costumes of Dr. Horrible and Capt. Hammer (If you still have not seen Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog, you are really missing out).  The only guest they really cared about meeting was Felicia Day, who plays Penny in Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog.  From the get go there were heavy lines for her.  I honestly believe she was more popular than any other guest there, including William Shatner.  So on Friday the boys got to meet Robin Thorsen (She is a co-star of Felicia Day’s from the web series The Guild) and they sang to her one of the Dr. Horrible songs.  They had hoped to sing it to Felicia Day as well, but that didn’t happen.  Due to the craziness of it all and just bad timing on our part, come Sunday afternoon it looked as if we were going to miss out on meeting her.  Her line was closed early as she had a plane to catch.  We were told by her manager that if we waited there was a chance if the line moved quickly he get us in as it was clear the boys were fans.  The line was not moving quickly at all.  Once the line was cleared and she was getting ready to head out, my wife took the boys up to at least wave to her.  She stopped what she was doing, walk over and let the boys stand with her so we could get a picture of them.  It meant a lot to my boys to have that.

Those are the kind of con experience that are worth it and can outshine the rest of the weekend.
As with all such cons the costuming dominated with creativity evident at every turn.  Local authors and artist were everywhere, as well as some big names in the comic book industry. Fan groups were there in full force and or course the dealer’s room was packed with goodies that could suck dry the funds of any fan willing to pick up some new collectables. 

All the madness that fits together so well to make a con memorable.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Doing the Costume Thing

One thing I have really enjoyed doing with my boys is helping them put together their costumes.

This year we are doing the Fifth Doctor and Frodo. We'll most likely get the costumes together next month and hopefully have them finished for the various conventions.

In the past we have done The Fourth, Tenth and Eleventh Doctors, a Delak, A cyberman, Prince Zuko from The Last Airbender, Indiana Jones, Dr. Horrible and Capt. Hammer, Anakin Skywalker from Episode 3, Han Solo, Optimus Prime, Megatron and I think there were a few others I cannot remember.

The 11th Doctor and a Dalek

 A Cyberman Vs the 4th Doctor

 Megatron vs. Optimus Prime

Capt. Hammer and Dr. Horrible
With the actual Penny (Felica Day)

As a family we have some basic steampunk costumes that we wear to Anomalycon, a local steampunk convention. I also have a generic Jedi Knight costume I have worn from time to time.

At Devenation 3 (The World Science Fiction convection here in Denver) a few years back both boys wore a different costume each day. They also did this for the first Denver Comic Con.

So there is no doubt that my boys have gotten into costuming and get excited over it. In fact we have had to tell my youngest that he couldn't go out in costume several times.

We've been developing our skills and have found that the costumes have gotten better, even when we throw them together in a night, as what happened with the Dr. Horrible and Capt. hammer costumes, although after the first time out with them we had the chance to work on them some more.

I look forwards to seeing what we come up with in the future. My boys are creative and we really do enjoy working on the costumes and seeing what we can come up with. I think spending time working on creative endeavors is about the best way to spend time as a family.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

My Wife Does Not Remember Lionel Playworlds

I found a batch of pics showing toy isle from when I was a child.  I showed these to my boys and they thought they were cool. The whole feel of a toy store of toy department in a store was so different than what we have today.

They had the isle packed with the toys so you could walk down those isles and be engulfed in it all. Most stores now have a small area for each line and generally keeps a small amount of product out there. Very much not the same feeling.

Here in Colorado the big toy store chain when I was growing up was Lionel Playworld. Toys R Us moved into the state and put them out of business.  Yet Toys R Us stores never had the same feel to them.

Yes, I did the old man thing and told my boys how I remember one store where the sun light came through the window and lit up the action figure packing that really made the isle feel magic. Stores no longer have windows that would create that kind of vision.

It might sound a little cliche, but the magic of the toy department/stores that was there when I was a kid has vanished. It is confirmed by my boys seeing these pictures and being wowed by what they see.

As the title of this blog says, my wife actually does not remember the Lionel Playworlds stores. In her area they had a Children Palace instead. Even there she doesn't have the appreciation of toys I do.

It is clear I am getting old as I can keep up with these stories of 'When I was your age' with my boys.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Destruction of the Expanded Universe

Recent news from Disney was exactly what I was expecting after they announced the new Star Wars trilogy.  They are going to go through the extensive expanded universe of Star Wars (Everything done outside of the movies themselves) and decide what is and is not official canon for the Star Wars universe.

Twenty years ago this would not have been a big deal.  Up until that time frame there was very little in regards to the Star Wars expanded universe (EU).  That was when Lucas decided to do the prequels and knew that he was going to stop after that with a basic six movie saga.  That meant that the books and comics could go on and tell whatever stories they wanted without having to worry about conflicting with the movies. So starting with what is known as the Zahn trilogy various authors have taken the storyline out well past where Return of The Jedi ended.  Luke has been married and widowed.  Han and Leia are grandparents. Chewbacca met his fate. The EU has just had so much put into it over the years.  So many character and ideas that have been both good and bad have been introduced. Lucas himself took from it for some aspects of the prequels.

As soon as the announcement was made that there would be a third movie trilogy, I knew that it would have a huge impact on the EU. I had noticed that suddenly no more new books were being announced.  It was clear that the EU was being put on hold.

So now they have made the announcement that they have a team who will be going through all of the EU and decide what will fit in with the storyline for the new trilogy and what won't.

Regretfully there will be a lot of good stuff that will most likely be discarded. There is just so much that takes place in or after the timeframe the new trilogy is to happen and my guess is all of that will have to be declared non-canon.  Shadows of the Empire will most likely be considered canon, one of the worst pieces of EU ever.  It is a storyline that takes place between episode 5 and 6, which is the main reason it will make the cut.  It also was created in a huge multi-media event with the full backing of Lucasfilm, but it was really, really bad.  Yet there are so many great ideas that were introduced in the EU that are going to be made irrelevant to the bigger storyline now.

I really hope that those who are putting the new trilogy together have enough sense to look at the better aspects of the EU to draw from.  Lucas did this for the prequels, and the EU elements he added in worked. I can understand the need to not follow the EU storyline, but there is no need to leave it all in the dust. Characters like Mara Jade deserve to be saved and used.

Of course in the end this classification does not take away from the good stories that will be marked as non-canon or in the case of Shadows of the Empire, make the poor stories any better if they get considered canon.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Looks Like I Was Right

Just a short follow up to yesterday's post.

We all got started on World of Warcraft yesterday, but at that time it was only on one computer. I guess now you can actually play for free up to level 20, so I went and got my notebook computer set up for it, which took a while since we had to download the game.

I was rather surprised that my boys had not stayed up till all hours playing it.

Now that we have it on two computers and can play together, they are getting more into it. So far most of this morning has been spent playing WOW. Yes, even I have gotten back into it. I'll have to watch myself and make sure I don't get caught up in it too much.

My oldest son just realized how much of the day has gone by and asked how long he had been playing.

Now it will start being hard to get them away from the game.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Addictiveness of WOW

Always interesting to see what I end up writing about when I feel like adding to this blog. I always have various ideas rattling around in my head, but more often than not those get pushed to the back as events of the day motivate me to take it into different directions. This post is very much one of those.

We just got back from getting out and about. While at Big Lots we saw the basic set for World of Warcraft marked down to $5 and my son decided to spend his allowance on it. Knowing him, we will now have real hard time getting him out of his room for the next month. He very much gets addicted to video games and I know from experience how caught up one can get in World of Warcraft.

About five years ago my father got me a 90 day subscription for it so that we could play together, even though he lives two states away. He was already addicted and wanted to spread the addiction to others.

It is a fun enough game. You get a variety of challenges and have a lot of freedom in your movements and development. I can see why it is so popular. However it is dangerous for those who really cannot afford to loose track of their lives. It is real easy to get lost in leveling up and exploring the world.

I've not really tried the expansions for it, so I can't say much about them. I know there are new species you can be and there are vehicles you can buy with all manner of new monsters and such I am sure.

Most likely my other son will end up just as addicted and most likely will want his own account. It is hard enough to get them to do anything as it is, now I am fairly confident that it will get harder.

Friday, January 10, 2014

What Do You Mean You Haven't Seen It?

All last year my boys really got into Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog. I have about a half dozen videos of them singing the songs. We made them costumes from it for them to wear at the various conventions.  They even got to meet Felicia Day at the Denver Comic Con. It was something they really geeked out over.

At a Pre-Comic Con party at Mile High Comics the boys wore their costumes. Two of my old friends who I don't see too often were there.  Both of them asked who the boys were supposed to be. After explaining it to them they both admitted they had not watched Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog. Needless to say I pushed both of them to watch it.

One of them IMed me while he was watching it. He said he didn't get it. He admitted to not being a fan of Nathan Fillion (I know, it doesn't make any sense to me either). I compared it to the movie Mystery Men, which he said he wasn't a fan of either. I had no reply after that. I was a little afraid to push it, as I would not want to learn that he was not a fan of the greatest show that Nathan Fillion was part of. Not sure how one could maintain a friendship with someone who did not like Firefly.

I get the whole 'different strokes' idea, not everyone is going to enjoy the same things in the end. Just feels odd to know someone who you think has the same tastes as you, but doesn't really get something that you think is brilliant.

Gotta check in with my other friend to find out if he's watched it yet and what he thought about it.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Today is a Star Wars Day

For some reason it seems like Star Wars is everywhere today.

Spike TV was doing their bi-weekly Star Wars marathon, airing all six movies in a row.  This is nothing new as it seems like most weekends they do this.  I think they have other programming going on outside of the Star Wars films, but they do air them often.

If I was into sports I could go to the Colorado Mammoth (Our Lacrosse team) game and be part of the Star Wars theme night. Seems like one of the stranger promotions for a sporting event, but I know there are those who are geeks and are into sports.  Would be interesting to see just what kind of crowd the event attracted.

Now we are watching the Mythbuster Star Wars special. Mythbusters itself is generally entertaining but ti is really cool to have the Star Wars theme added to it. So far is has been enjoyable.  Should be cool to see how it goes.

There is no doubt that Star Wars is everywhere.  I can't think of a show set in the late 70s forwards that has gotten a Star Wars reference in there.  Its influence shows up all the time in any more.  There is no doubt that those who grew up with the Star Wars movies are the ones dominating today's entertainment.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire

Since I find it easier to say 'Game of Thrones' instead of 'Song of Ice and Fire', I will be referring the the saga as Game of Thrones for this post.

I have read the first four novels and seen the first two season of the TV show now.  I am fairly familiar with the on going saga of Game of Thrones.

A little while ago I saw someone on Facebook asking why Game of Thrones fans like the saga so much.  I should have read her full post, but was busy at the time.  Most likely she is one of those who has issues with the more intense nature of the stories.

I want to make it very clear, Game of Thrones IS NOT FOR EVERYONE.

I am enjoying the truly epic saga that is there, but I very much would NOT openly recommend the books or TV show to people. I know some people I think would enjoy it all, but I know many who would dislike it and wonder what was wrong with me for liking it. It is intense and a bit much for many people. You have rape, murder, incest, gore and so much more that is disturbing and I can very much see why there are those who would be extremely uncomfortable with these elements in their stories.

I will however answer the question to why I enjoy Game of Thrones.

To start with I really enjoy not knowing what is going to happen. I love the fact that you cannot count on any character surviving. Normally you read a story and you can make safe bets as to who will make it to the end and who is there just so the author can kill them off.  With Game of Thrones all bets are off. So many characters who felt like they were important and would make it through to the end have been killed of. So many people watching the TV show got upset over the Red Wedding (Some claiming it ruined their lives as they cursed Martin for having written it), I thought it was brilliant in that you could not see it coming.  It hits you hard and doesn't let up. For me that is good story telling.  Anyone can write a story where the obvious hero survives and does good and save the day and all that.  Such a simple story is not what Game of Thrones is all about.

Then there are the great characters.  There is a reason why Peter Dinklage has been winning awards and receiving high praise for his portrayal of Tyrion Lannister.  It is a powerful, complex character. Dinklage's talent takes that character and makes it stand out in a sea of powerful, complex characters, but the power of the character is what allowed for Dinaklage to get noticed. If you watch the show you see that there are many powerful characters and if not for the powerful performance by Dinklage, the other actors might be getting those awards as there are many great performances for these powerful characters. It is one of the main reason why there is such an impact when these characters die. You don't care about the fate of weak, uninteresting characters.

So for those who can handle the level of intense writing, I would recommend Game of Thrones.  They are long books and it may be some time before we get the last two books, but it is an intense ride.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

It May be the Greatest Movie Adaptation Ever

I recently finished reading the novel The Princess Bride.  If you are not familiar with the movie based off the novel, then I feel very sorry for you as you are missing out on a truly classic film. In so many ways it is an incredible adaptation of a novel. As the title for this post suggest, it may be the best ever. It is also very much one of the most quoted geek movies ever.

The movie really stays incredibly true to the novel, with some changes that just make sense and in the end nothing of the story is lost.  We get a very pure transfer of the story.

One element of the novel that could not be transferred however is the odd claims by the author William Goldman that it is not his original story, but an abridged version of an older novel written by fictional author Simon Morgenstern. The novel opens up with a long explanation of why Goldman felt this abridgement was needed and the whole background story behind, with mention of a fictional wife and son (Goldman has two daughters and no son) being involved. This narrative is kept up through out the novel with various breaks in the story as Goldman explains what he cut out and why he did it. It is actually very convincingly done.

The odd false narrative of the abridgment is the inspiration for the movie's use of the grandfather reading the book to his sick grandson. Many of the grandson's interruptions are based on what Goldman claims to be him interrupting his father when his father read the book to him when he was young.

While the novel was enjoyable and left me with a new respect for the movie, I will say the movie itself is much better at delivering the jokes.  Most of the jokes are in the novel as is much of the actual movie dialogue, being word for word more than you would think. Yet reading the jokes does not work as well as seeing them being played out.

The wikipedia entry on the novel is very much worth reading.

It is one of the novels where there is just so much more to it.