Archive | April, 2012

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Gabriel : A Review

Posted on 30 April 2012 by DM

While, in a digital age, I find myself having less time for thought, I do find that my avenues for introduction to various artists is much more open. Such was the case when Jennifer Cross’ Gabriel was suggested to me. I knew little about it, neglecting to pursue my usual leads such as reviews or blatant spoilers. I knew it was in a supernatural vein, which I love, and that it was free that weekend (also a positive on the lowly comic book store workers income).

From what I can tell, this is Jennifer Cross’ debut novel and with that in mind I think it was a rousing success. I’m the kind of person who likes to hear the bad stuff first though so well go into that first. To start with, the typos were my worst foe in this novel. While they were not on every page, I found them often enough that they could quickly remove me from the moment, which in this novel was very much a tragedy. The characters that Cross crafts (OK that is enough of an awesome tongue twister that I am unwilling to edit it out) are very real, almost too much so at times. The are real people with real foibles, weaknesses, attitudes. As such, I found it difficult to like some of them as much as I was probably supposed to. They were, however, a perfect fit for the story she wove.

The pacing of the novel was a bit strange to me. I’m not going to say it was a bad thing per se, but it was a bit jarring when the story kicked into high gear, somewhere around half to two-thirds of the way through the book. Up until then, the auther had been willing to skip weeks or longer to set the tone and develop the characters. Once the climactic shift had started, it was every minute for itself. Honestly, it reminded me a lot of Koontz, who has written some of my favorite supernatural/suspense fiction. So take from that what you will.

The world presented to the reader was genuine. The author’s passion came through strongly here as she wove together this little Colorado town with all of its idiosyncratic tendencies. Such was the detail of the environment and characters that Cross either pulled strongly from her own experiences or did a significant amount of research to present the reader with a world that could be accepted without question.

The story itself was well-woven. Cross makes a playful game throughout the book of doling out clues regarding what kind of supernatural mystery we have that often led me to shout out to whomever was nearby at the time I was reading what I though was going on at that moment. It says something that people began to ask me if i was right about my theories instead of avoiding my presence entirely. Wanting to keep the suspense alive for future readers, I will spare you those guesses and what the mystery of Gabriel truly was. After all, the joy for me was in the journey.

Jennifer Cross has proven to me that independent publishing in this increasingly digital age is not only possible but should be encouraged. Gabriel was a well written story that lacked the sex and sensationalism that so often dominates this genre. Don’t believe me? Go and try it for yourself. At $1.99 it definitely worth finding out.

Amazon link

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Buffy Week 2

Posted on 27 April 2012 by VinnieAve

Vinnie’s Take

Never Kill a Boy on the First Date:
We get some more Angel this episode and more of the villain (whose name still annoys me). It was good to have the master back, giving the show some sense of continuity. There was a good use of misdirection throughout the episode which gave it a good feel at the end. The action is still the level of cheesiest expected out of TV show but other than that it was not that bad.

The Pack
This episode was the one that made me the most uncomfortable for one scene where a possessed Xander tries to rape Buffy. I’m impressed this show would do something so horrible to a character so early on. This portends well for the show. However, this episode was pretty bad. I don’t mind this show doing terrible things to its characters but at least be interesting with it. Xander gets possessed by hyenas along with a bunch of other bullies and becomes a total jerk. This wasn’t that interesting.

Angel
The big reveal of this episode was ruined by being alive for the past 10 years or so. It’s revealed that the mysterious Angel is actually a vampire. I think this was done well. We get a bit of an extension of the reveal from Never Kill a Boy. Its nice to see the Master training the anointed to be all powerful. I hope to see more of this. We get a nice bit of character development on both good guy and bad guy front this time around.

I Robot, You Jane
I don’t know if this episode was made bad by having seeing some many similar episodes over the years or it was cheesy to begin with but this was the stinker of the bunch.  Some the show decides that Willow hasn’t been abused yet and makes her a focus this time around. This was all around silly, dark but silly. Again darkness good, silly not so much. Also, does everyone need a love interest I say NO!

DM’s Take

Never Kill a Boy on the First Date
I won’t lie to you, this is one of my favorites in the first season.  As with most of the episodes in Buffy’s maiden voyage it is predictable.  That said it has a melancholy that I think resonates well.  Other than that I think its status quo for character development and whatnot.

The Pack
This was not one of my favorites.  In this episode we really get a lord of the flies look at teenagers and all the cruelty they can entail.  Apparently up to and including eating the principal.  Goodbye Principal Flootie.

Angel
Spoilers! We find out Angels dark secret (there is totally more to it) and get a little sexual tension going at the same time.  Plus Darla gets some more screen time, which I am always in favor of.  I was pleased with how they did not make you wait 3 seasons before they told you more about Angel.  That said Buffy is like 16 here.  Should she be contemplating a relationship with a 250 year old?

I Robot, You Jane
How they managed to make a Willow centric episode without a lot of screen time for Willow is beyond me but somehow Joss managed it.  The first in a science vein (although of course not drifting too far from mystical at this juncture) I thought the episode had a lot of promise.  Plus we get an antagonist/love interest for Giles! Yea Miss Calendar!

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Be a Better Geek: Buffy the Better Vampire Slayer episodes 1-4

Posted on 20 April 2012 by DM

Why I picked Buffy the Vampire Slayer

How could I not? It started in march of 97 with a short season off twelve episodes about high schoolers making there way through the jungle of adolescence. And yea there are vampires. And demons, werewolves, and a plethora of other threats. It was a simple concept, one pulled from the early recesses of Whedons career. As such it has well constructed plot lines, witty dialogue, and talented actors. It carries something of the 90s with it. Coming from within that decade, I can’t really tell you if it caries to this century well but perhaps Vincenzo will enlighten you. Make no mistake BTVS is a cornerstone for a great many geeks. It carries with it ideas of sacrifice, female power, and the idea that yes, friendship is in fact magic.

A couple of quick thoughts on this weeks eps

Pilot: Rough and perhaps a little too simple. That said I love that the tendency to make fun of the horror genre and itself starts early and often.

The Witch: ah a boy and his unreciprocated crush. It had to happen. It’s a trope yes but there was no avoiding it. That said this is on of the early classics. It’s about a girl who doesn’t fit in that just tragically wants to fit in. And parents can be real dicks.

Teachers Pet: Oh yes my friends we have hit pay dirt. Nothing truly gothic about this one. Just a giant praying mantis and a need for some virgins. And talk about IILFs!

Vinnie’s Take

Welcome to Hellsmouths/The Harvest
So scifi/fantasy pilots come in two varieties, those that give you a crazy story and those that try and set up the characters. These two try to do a little bit of both. We’ve got a pretty standard story about a vampire supreme (or whatever) called The Master (not from Doctor Who) who is trying to break free. The vampire part of this show isn’t what makes it fun to watch, honestly if it was just that it would be the most boring thing to watch on the planet. Luckily it isn’t that bad, they also have some high school nonsense. There are some pretty obvious set-ups for jokes and quick lines. But wait there is also this mysterious character who seems to know something about what’s actually going on. This show isn’t painfully bad, but I doubt I would continue with it unless I agreed to.

The Witch
This episode was better than the previous two-parter. Buffy is trying to fit in at her new school and does this by trying to join the cheerleading squad. There is a pretty obvious plot about a girl whose mom wants her to be a cheerleader involving magic or some-such nonsense. I have mentioned this show is very 90s from the clothing to the camera direction. This one is kind of cool and was the best of the bunch.

Teachers-Pet
If the previous plot was obvious this one takes the cake for well-duh plot. So there is new biology teacher who is super-hot and all the boys are utter infatuated with her. Also she is talking a hell of a lot about praying mantises. But wait she is one! This is crazy OMG! Yeah, not a great episode I hope DM doesn’t say this is one of the best.

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Podcast: It’s a Medley

Posted on 14 April 2012 by VinnieAve

We cover a variety of topics tonight. Diego talks about Uzamaki and Saga, Jess talks about A Game of Thrones and Mass Effect 3, and Vinnie talks about Lupin III: The Woman Called Fukijo Mine and Upotte!!

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Being a Better Geek: Mobile Suit Gundam Final Part

Posted on 13 April 2012 by VinnieAve

DM’s Take
OK we heard about Newtypes for the first time next week and now they’re coming out of the fucking woodwork. Amuro, Lalah, Challia Bull, and oh wait the entirety of the White Base. All of the sudden Amuro moves so fast his Suit cant keep up with him. Talk about growth spurts.
I felt like the death of Lalah was a bit predictable but what I find odd is that it doesn’t seem to affect Amuro in the long term. What are you going to do.
We get a good conclusion to Sayla’s issue on White Base, some good combat scenes, and a good many character developing conversations, but I felt like a lot was missing. I think I was told that this was given a shorter run than expected and I think it really shows. Blatant scene cuts, jerkier animation, and some plot shortcuts rob the conclusion of what it could have been.
That said the final battle between Char and Amuro was everything I could have hoped. They took each other apart piece by piece. And that shot by Char was epic.
Good ending Mobile Suit Gundam…Good Ending

Vinnie’s Take
So I know I’ve had complaints for the past few weeks but honestly these last few are what I love about Gundam. WE’ve got some good space battles, which we never really see in sci-fi now. Also I love the Newtype stuff in this. I put this on Sunday night and just kept watching. Gundam I shall never leave you, no matter what I’ve said.

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It’s That Time Again: CISPA

Posted on 13 April 2012 by DM

Well it is that time again.  Where once we faced the possibility of SOPA and PIPA now we face CISPA and it will most likely be a tough nut to crack.  One of the reasons that there was so much support for SOPA/PIPA protesters was because it acted against various internet companies by costing them time and money.  CISPA proposes to provide these companies with information at no cost to them, which could include your personal information if you are suspected of being a cyber threat. “Cyber threat” is a loose term in that you can be marked with if you are suspected of theft or wrongful borrowing intellectual property.  It is a bit different from what was faced before but is still a threat to personal freedoms and liberties. Among the companies that have chosen to support CISPA so far are AT&T, Facebook, IBM, Microsoft, Verizon, and US Telecom.  Somewhat surprisingly, Netflix has not leapt to the support of CISPA, despite plentiful rumors infiltrating the internet ether this week.

Is CISPA all bad? I do not believe so. In fact, I believe that the proposed legislation is moving in the right direction.  That said, I think it would be a tragic mistake to have this legislation approved.  There are questions of whether is it constitutional and it seems to be posses too much vagueness when it comes to nailing down what types of information can be shared.

As a community, we need to fight this.  That is not all we have to do though.  It is time to stop passively waiting for these legislations to come and then protest them.  We need to make efforts to be informed and to proactively guide the government to a legislation that works for us all.  Whether is from the formation of a Super PAC or through some other means it is time to be proactive.

I am by no means an expert in any of this.  I recommend strongly that you research for yourself the ins and outs of what is going on.  I will provide you with some links.  Look through those and then find more on your own.  Then, let us see what we can do about leading our government instead of allowing it to lead us.

DM

LINKS:

http://allfacebook.com/facebook-sopa-cispa_b85311

http://securitywatch.pcmag.com/security/296445-netflix-isn-t-pro-cispa-facebook-is

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Things I’m Looking Forward To: Pacific Rim

Posted on 11 April 2012 by VinnieAve

I’m sure plenty of you have heard about Pacific Rim but it hasn’t come up recently. Honestly, I hadn’t thought about it much recently but then this video was posted and got me really excited.

It doesn’t show much but two things really struck me. One the film is referred to as Silent Seas, I don’t know if this is the Canadian name of the film, or it the name was changed or if there was just a mistake. Second, in the background you see some guys in what look like storm trooper uniforms. I hope to everything Kaiji that these are the robot pilots outfits. I also did a bit more digging and it seems that the game scheme is straight of mecha anime. Idris Elba will be playing our hero called Stacker Pentecost, a name like Sleggar Law or Jacuzzi Splot wouldn’t seem out of place in this world. We haven’t see any character pics but I hope to high heaven that at least a few characters have awesome Go Nagai sideburns.

Here’s to hoping for the great live-action Mecha/Kaiju film of our time.

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Podcast Lost Pilot: Macross: Do You Remember Love?

Posted on 08 April 2012 by VinnieAve

This was recorded back in August before we released anything. You may notice a lack of quality and Jess Dunn. This is only getting released do to the passing of Noburo Ishiguro recently. I hope you enjoy!

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Mobile Suit Gundam: We’re almost there, the Penultimate Week!

Posted on 07 April 2012 by VinnieAve

So this week we’re back on a nice full list, we’ve got five this week, and that means there will be five next week, when we talk about the rest of the show.

DM’s Take

So…Much…Character Development!
So I guess Slegger did not last very long. He sure made a great splash. It was also a romantic development for Mirai that I really did not see coming. War does crazy things to people.

Now when did Star Wars raid MSG. Was I not looking? Did I have my head turned? All that I know is that we see this strange ward of Char’s and all the sudden people are getting “feelings” anticipating the future and speaking telepathically. I am going to assume it has something to do with the term Newtype, which we heard for the first time in the last episode of this batch (at least I think). So now we have people glowing now and Amuro cannot miss to save his life now.

I was pleased with Char and Sayla’s reunion. It felt right and the fact that Bright heard some of it was very cool. I look forward to seeing where this will go.

Vinnie’s Take

These episodes might be the ones that have the most reverberation across the rest of the Gundam, we’ve got the introduction of one of the most divisive characters in the franchise, Lalah Sune. However, she does almost nothing in these episodes other than watch and introduce the Newtype concept, which is bizarre that it gets developed so late in the series and yet it is such an important thing later on (in the follow-up series and movies). We get so much universe background in these few episodes, Char and Sayla’s background is given at last. Two weeks ago, let three things happened in 8 episodes and now in five there is a huge amount of things happening, to the point where the show feels completely different now.

The other major thing that happens is the Battle of Solomon which lasted for two episodes. It had the only decent animation in the batch. The Big Zam came and went and the show moved one. Other than these two episodes though the animation was terrible, with the combination of stock footage and very poor animation, with includes M’Quve’s face at one point looking like its made of pudding, super rough animation on Char’s Gelgoog (his current red mobile suit). Oh and speaking of M’Quve, why did he come back, he was a dumb villain the first time around and now he’s even worse.

He wants to give Kycillia this vase and the last thing he thinks (and all the characters present here and see) is an image of this vase or decanter or something with a flashing rainbow screen. This is a point where Tomino crossed the line into what we’ve gotten used to taking about.

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