Saturday, July 31, 2010

Quick Comic Reviews – July 31st, 2010

Just a quick rundown of some things that are recent that I’ve been reading the past few weeks.  Maybe you’ll find this helpful if you’re looking to buy some of these new titles.

234214Shadowland #1 – So now we see what’s going on with the Daredevil after he’s taken a break in the Marvel Universe.  First off, he’s got a new costume which looks pretty appropriate and he’s taken of the Hand.  The heroes of the Marvel Universe are starting to worry about Matt Murdock’s state of mind as well.  In this issue we see Daredevil eventually square off with Bullseye and we see exactly what Murdock is now capable of.  The artwork is alright but inconsistent in spots.  The problem with the issue is the content seems to go way too fast.  For what you pay, you feel like you just got started and it is over.  But an interesting but not totally necessary issue.  Decent, not a buy for me.


234503Daredevil #508 – A bit stronger in story than in the first issue of Shadowland and fantastic artwork.  Wow, everything is so grim and moody and the artwork of Roberto De Le Torre is right on spot here.  I feel that perpetual rain and feeling of something foreboding in the air.  Excellent issue as things pick up a bit and we have a few plot twists involved and some questions to be answered.  We all know eventually Matt Murdock will pull free of this, but part of me likes him more as this dark vigilante who is maintaining the peace with an unwavering hand.  Definite Buy! 




Captain America #607 – First, I can’t tell whether the inker or the penciller is being way too lazy on some pages or what.  Sometimes Cap looks like he was drawn by an 8 year old and inked in by the same 8 year old.  I can’t figure it out.  Then some pages are very strong, so I’m not sure I get it.  The story was ok as we get more involved with Baron Zemo’s master manipulations.  Common fair, get tired of the Nazi stuff after awhile, but whatever.  Then we also get a back-up story involving Nomad.  This isn’t as strong a follow-up to the story in last issue, but it’s decent fair with good artwork and bright vivid colors.  If you’re a fan of the Young Allies, this is a must.  Otherwise, it is decent, but not quite there.


234649 The Avengers #3 – At first I wasn’t sure about John Romita as the artist for the Avengers.  I take it back, I’m starting to enjoy it.  He’s got kind of a sketchy style without being overly detailed and it’s the kind of artwork that’s sometimes missing in comics today.  Simple artwork, good crisp colors, with him and Bendis, it feels like a true Avengers comic.  The last few years the Avengers have been at the low point in their history and it’s nice to see we can get back to Heroes being Heroes again.  I really liked this issue for some reason.  It was fun, had a fast paced story and had a lot of good moments and the artwork did a splendid job.  If you like the old Avengers, I feel this is a must buy!



235306 The Flash #4 – So far, Geoff Johns is writing a pretty good series here.  This book is a bit quicker of a read then I would like.  You have a sequence that should only take up 2 pages take up several and it feels like that is probably just so they can have a reveal at the end.  That can be a problem now days with the main writers doing several stories every month in different titles.  In a way, you can’t blame them for it.  However, with the price of comics, I hate these lazy habits.  So other than that little rant, a decent story, some facts (or are they?) revealed and the story continues on.  Due to the several page gimmick though, we don’t feel like we got very far in the issue and that is disappointing.  Buy if you’re a Flash fan, otherwise you can probably skip it.



232175 Young Allies #1 – I’m a sucke r for the newer Nomad and her sad story of being without a world and really, without a home.  Gravity is a character that really interests me and seeing just what exactly he is capable of.  Firestar has always been a solid character, so a chance at a new fun team title, I figure why not.  We see right away that they’re going to be dealing with those nasty Bastards of Evil.  A good first arch-team to face-off with.  We get an interesting new character in Toro and the now powerless Arana is back.  A decent little title with great artwork!  In fact, some very excellent artwork that has bright and bold colors and doesn’t feel dark and dreary.  Has some very interesting scenes in it and an interesting ending that makes me want to dive into the next one and see how they handle this!  Definite buy!





Imagine This…

HTC isn’t exactly super high on my list of phone manufacturers, but the Aria seems quite nice.  But anyway, can you imagine inviting all of your Facebook friends to something this crazy?  I think this would be something I would do.  I would be King Wilson!  I wonder what else would be really cool to do?  I’m thinking maybe dressing up like Super Heroes in the middle of Washington D.C.  It would be the only heroes that city has seen in ages!


Friday, July 30, 2010

So Long Computer Room, Hello Baby Room

The greatest gift we could ever have is a child.  Babies can be so adorable and so amazing, just a miracle of life.  That being the case, our next child still owes me big time.

Back in the long, long ago (errr… 4 years ago), the wife and I set out on a quest to find a house.  I finally found one that could accommodate my basic needs.  Those needs included a nice big gaming room and a computer room.  Well, I guess we could call the computer room a Den if I were a more sophisticated folk.  Of course, then I would need lots of hardcover boring ass books, a leather chair you wouldn’t be able to unstick from if you encountered humidity, and most of all, a ridiculous moustache and tobacco pipe.


Lord Crangston P. Moustache the 23rd in a long line of proud moustaches.  The blood still runs deep in this moustache.

Ok, well, I don’t have those things, nor do I want those things.  Least of all a moustache as I would not do it proud.  And if you can’t have pride in your moustache, what the hell can you have pride in?  Nadda, zilch, zippo, and on and on.  So ignore the moustache part for it is not important.  Well, not important to my story anyway.

We found a decent sort of house with a nice big gaming room and a room I could revamp into my computer room.  We tried to do themes in two rooms and the computer room would be our Star Wars room.  With my wife, one of the first things I noticed about her when I saw her in the break room one day was that she was reading a Star Wars book.  Now what sort of geek would I be if I didn’t immediately say, “Whoa!”  From there, nothing would stop me from having her.  Not even that giant poster of Jar-Jar Binks.  I will say that was nearly the deal breaker, but I figured I had to get married before I went bald. 

Ah, my Star Wars room, we painted it a light greyish-blue and hung up posters for the original three movies.  Of course, the nice carpet in that room was quickly ruined when the phone rang while I was painting.  I whirled around trying to find the phone and kicked the bucket.  The only part of the room that didn’t have plastic over it was right where the paint headed.  And sure enough, there was that damned phone too, now covered in paint.  I was pretty mad at this point, so who should I blame?  Well clearly my wife and her sister for calling to speak to her.  If they wouldn’t have just HAD to talk my room would have been spared.  Now I say this merely because I’m a man and I don’t like talking on the phone and rarely ever call anyone.  Alas, I soon started buying action figures to put on the walls and other various Star Wars memorabilia.  It was a veritable nerd-u-copia!

Soon our family grew by one and then by two.  Finally, after three and a half years, the dream of nerdom is rapidly fading.  Last week I had to say good-bye to the computer room and hello to the baby room.  Oh, for the suffering involved, my angst was great!  The problem with the whole darned thing was not only did I say good-bye to the computer room, but the wife told me that the Star Wars stuff had to vacate said premises.  These are not lies my people!  This is the blunt, brutal, and horrifying truth!  Not even the posters can stay as they are “too scary” as rated by the Becca Council for Domestic Scariness.  Now do you understand my suffering?

The action figures are in a state of limbo as I try to decide what to do with them.  My boys keep asking me about them and they sure do love action figures.  Part of me is wanting to keep them in their boxes and see if they ever end up being worth anything.  But then again, the boys sure would love them.  Decisions.  The posters I can move into the game room.  The books will end up down there on the same bookcase, but this is an end of an era.


Now we will share a lifetime of the fondest memories.  By the lakes of Anawanna… sat in the old pine trees?

So for those of you who have these dreams and aspirations, let me give you the cold, hard truth.  If you have children, you must give up at least 80% of your dreams, your dignity, and your Star Wars rooms.  That’s just a fact of life.  Now if I could afford a mansion, I most likely wouldn’t have to do this.  However, if I could afford a mansion, boy would we have some fun.  And boy would I never be able to keep track of my kids and that kind of scares me.  Plus, who the heck would do all of the cleaning?  But there is a moral to this story of eternal sadness.  A light at the end of the proverbial tunnel.  That moral is this; we have to give up something of ourselves so that life can flourish.  I learned that from church.  Pretty impressive, huh?  For a child, if I must give this up, I shall, because my hope is that some day, they, too, will have a Star Wars room.  Then when they have to clear it out for their child, maybe then, they too shall understand and all of this won’t be for naught.


Thursday, July 29, 2010

Comic Book Review – Doctor Solar: Man of the Atom #1 (Dark Horse)


I need to preface this by saying that one of my favorite writer/creators I’ve ever read is Jim Shooter.  Jim Shooter is the current writer for Doctor Solar: Man of the Atom, Magnus Robot Fighter, and Turok Son of Stone.  These are all old Gold Key Comics titles that are being revived once again.  The last time we saw these three titles together were in the dying days of Acclaim Comics which had bought out Valiant Comics.  Jim Shooter made Valiant successful before he was ousted in a bit of controversy.  It was never quite the same after he left because they lost his vision and focus.  He founded a few other comic companies each with great storylines and feel but as the comic industry went spiraling into decline, they too, vanished.

When Dark Horse announced they were bringing back these Gold Key characters back under the supervision of Jim Shooter, I was somewhat excited.  The only thing I didn’t like was that there was no “shared universe” for these characters like we saw in Valiant.  Jim Shooter is at his best when he can tie things together into one universe.  So, while I was happy to see these characters revived, I still have reservations.  However, with Shooter’s writing, I know the stories will at least be solid.

So here we are, diving into the first issue of the rebirth and hopefully being of a wonderful new era for this character.  So how does it pan out?  It has a bit of action to jump into things before we start getting some explanations.  So that’s typical fare now days to kind of jump start into things.  I don’t always like that though as it seems to pull us away from the character and their motivations.  But I see it for what it is.

The issue gets stronger as it goes along.  We find out Doctor Solar was exposed to a nuclear incident involving a black hole as well.  Not very many major twists on his origins, which is fine.  We don’t have to relearn much about him and no sense in reinventing the wheel.  But we found out that he himself has create a quantum event that is creating abnormalities in our reality.  So we have the premise set and we see some of those abnormalities introducing themselves.

My gripe with the comic is the art.  I did not enjoy Dennis Calero’s artwork at all.  His characters are very stiff and not at all fluid.  The action sequences are abysmal at best and I can’t figure out exactly what’s going on in half of them.  Jim Shooter has a way of getting artists to become better storytellers, but I don’t think he had a lot of time here.  From an interview I read, some of the early pages were rushed and Jim never saw them so they could get those pages out early for previews.  I could tell from those interviews that he wasn’t quite pleased with them.  There are some decent pages, but nothing great.  I hope Jim Shooter can bring him around to being a better storyteller, but I don’t know if he can improve Calero’s style much.  His characters, especially the character Vanguard, aren’t drawn very realistically at all.  The only thing people seem to like about his artwork is his “shading”, so that’s all I need to know there.  I hope they either switch artists or he improves quickly because he’s dragging this issue down.

Oh, and this is a 48 page spectacular!  What does that mean?  Well we get a reprint of the original Doctor Solar published by Gold Key.  I had read this recently and is a decent enough story.  A bit outdated, but fun stuff anyway.  For $3.50 you’re getting two stories, so that definitely makes it worthwhile, especially if you never read the original series.

Overall, a good buy for the price.  The story is a little disjointed but builds up well towards the end.  The artwork isn’t very good though and draws away from the storytelling that SHOULD be going on. 

3 out of 5 stars (the bonus feature helps it out)!  Star White IconStar White IconStar White Icon


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Greatest Game Ever Played? - Review of Battlestar Galactica: The Boardgame

When I’m looking for a boardgame, I’m not always looking for theme.  Theme certainly helps, but sometimes I really like the interesting mechanics and the theme is really secondary.  There are other times where theme can make or break a game for me.  But if I have fun playing it, that’s the main thing.
So what can I say about this particular game?  The first thing, my wife is a nasty, nasty Cylon and doesn’t even hide it.  Second, I have never played a game of this that I haven’t enjoyed.  It is a cooperative game with a bit of twist.  So you’re all fighting towards a goal together and the twist is that people you think are helping you may not be what they seem to be.
$10 says the old dude in the Ravens Jersey is a Cylon Bastard!  That fracking toaster!
What’s the game all about?  Well first off, it really does help if you’ve watched the TV series produced by Sy-Fy Channel.  The first season or two should be enough for you to get a real flavor for the game.  But really, it’s about the same thing that the TV show is about.  Humans on the planet Caprica are suddenly all but exterminated by a nuclear event engineered by the Cylons.  Who are the Cylons?  They are robots humans created to help with work.  Unfortunately, they started thinking and revolted against Caprica.  They were beaten back, came back with the ability to look and act like humans, and they worked their way into the inner workings and everything went boom.  Now the only Battlestar left in the fleet has to escort civilian ships on a race to escape extinction at the hands of the Cylons.  But they don’t know who could be a Cylon!
So the game is basically you as one of the main characters and you MAY be a Cylon.  Only you know for sure.  Therein lies the fun.  You aren’t sure who’s a Cylon while you’re plan but there’s at least one and possibly more depending on the number of players.  A turn is fairly simply where you draw your skill cards, move and then do an action.  After you do an action by either playing a card or activating a spot that you moved to on the ship or attacking Cylons if you’re a pilot, then you reveal the event for your turn and it ALWAYS has bad things on it.  It determines what type of attack the Cylons do, if you get closer to preparing to jump (preparing to jump is basically a term for jumping to hyperspace and getting the hell out of Dodge), and then the event itself which can either drop tons of cylons on you or be an event that you or maybe the President or Admiral has to decide what to do.
To break the event cards down further, sometimes you will need to play skills cards of certain types to add up to the numbers indicated on the card.  Sometimes if you fail big, you really feel the pain, sometimes there are lesser bad things that can happen.  But the part this unique is everyone hands their skill cards in face down and then the person who drew the event puts his in AND two random cards from a seeded deck.  Now, if you play a color that isn’t on the event card, it counts against you, if it’s on the card it counts positive for you.  The two random cards can sometimes help or sometimes hurt.  The beautiful thing is, the Cylon player(s) can throw in negatively impacting cards and you don’t necessarily know who the heck put those cards in there.  Next thing you know, everyone is pointing fingers.  This is one of the best aspects of the game. 
Once a Cylon is revealed, he isn’t out of the game.  At that point the Cylon can cause a lot more havoc.  More power in some ways, weaker in others.  I think it is best of hide until they’re ready to throw you in the brig and then you really burn em for not putting you in it sooner.
Another great thing about the game is the characters.  The characters are all the main characters from the show with special advantage and disadvantages that come into play quite a bit.  Like Tigh is a drunk so you’re constantly having problems with that weakening you.  You also have Admiral and President roles that have their own perks.  President gets political cards which are quite powerful and the Admiral gets control of the Nukes!  They also have to make decisions at times and a lot of the time you want to be the one making those decisions instead of leaving it in “less qualified” hands.
So let’s see how it stacks up!
Interaction: (5 out of 5 stars)  Absolutely one of the most interactive games you can play with other people.  You’re constantly second guessing and sometimes scheming to work things to your advantage or to just survive.
Ease:  (3 out of 5 stars)  This is a rating that shows how easy it is to play.  The game is easy to play, harder to teach, but even harder to learn.  That said it isn’t bad, but it isn’t super easy.  When I teach it, I simplify it a lot and then we kind of show as we go because it’s actually very simply when you get going.
Rules: (4 out of 5 stars)  These are some of the better rules I’ve seen from Fantasy Flight Games and they did an excellent job with it.  Everything is pretty clearly explained and easily found.  The exact polar opposite of another favorite of mine, Arkham Horror.  Players aids are a plus if you print those out.
Theme: (5 out of 5 stars)  Dripping with theme and it feels like you’re in an episode of BSG! 
Replayability: (5 out of 5 stars)  I could play this over and over again!  Each game feels like a new adventure!  Plus there is an expansion for added replayability.
Mechanics: (4 out of 5 stars)  Very simple mechanics with clever ideas on how to make it so a Cylon isn’t revealing themselves.  Plus a turn doesn’t take too long so that’s well thought out.  Not much downtime as there is always something fairly interesting going on.  The battle stuff isn’t anything too ground breaking but it is very serviceable without being complicated.
Fun Factor: (5 out of 5 stars)  Wow is this game just fun!  I can’t even do it justice.  There’s so much going on and wondering if you’ll survive makes this a must play game!
Bonus Points: Length of the Game is about right at 2 hours this doesn’t feel too long at all.  1 point bonus for that.  Clean-up is a bit of a pain, as can be set-up, –1 point.  Box, pretty standard but solid fair, no extra here.  Components are pretty decent quality but the star chits are annoying to punch out, nothing too special here though, dials are damned hard to put on.  No bonus points there either. 
The Total:  31 out of 35 points for this bad boy!  However, if you don’t care much for the theme, a heavy caution is in place on this one!  As much as I love it, mileage may vary.  If you like sci-fi or BSG, this is a MUST buy!
For more information on this and many more games, please visit!


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Comic Review – Avengers Academy #2


I really liked the first issues of Avengers Academy, it started off well and the second issue continues to point in that direction as well.  We see how our young future Avengers react to the news that they are on the team simply because they are the biggest threat of the candidates to turn into super villains.  So our premise is set-up there.

The main negative of this issue is the artwork.  Some of it just seems sloppy and some of the facials and actions seem out of place or you just can’t even figure out what the hell they’re even doing.  I generally thought the artwork McKone did in Issue #1 was pretty good.  This issue he must have been rushed to finish things up or something because it wasn’t nearly as good as the first issue.  The first issue didn’t really have much in terms of fight sequences either and that’s where he really seems to struggle.

I really thought Christos Gage continued to bring solid writing into this.  He always seems to write good stories with a decent amount of action and character development.  This issue really focuses on Finesse and her thoughts.  We really see an interesting window open and a future subplot of Taskmaster possibly being her father.  But that’s not confirmed nor hinted at.

As with most issues of Avengers: The Initiative, the newer characters are the key with the older, experienced Avengers taking mostly a backseat.  Gage does a good job of using them to enhance our new recruits.  Mettle is a very interesting character that I’m really starting to like.  No Speedball this issue though, I expected him to be a very pivotal character. 

Gage doesn’t do super complicated stories or anything groundbreaking.  He just provides us with good solid comics and I think that’s why I like him so much.  The only thing in this story that I didn’t care for was going back over Quicksilver’s background, but for new readers I do think it is important so I can’t really take anything away from that.  In fact, I hope that garners it new readers because they find it easy enough to jump right into when so many of the comics now days make it hard for you to jump in the middle of. 

Overall, a very solid 2nd issue.  Nothing amazing, but a good read nonetheless.  A deduction for the poor artwork in this issue though.

3 out of 5 stars.  Star White Icon Star White IconStar White Icon


Monday, July 26, 2010

Death of the Middle Class

We knew it was happening, but the statistics are astonishing.  The corporate executives give themselves huge bonuses and nothing for the working class.  There is a huge gap in America and it is continually getting worse.  America’s greatest class is now America’s non-existent class.  So we have poor and rich and very little inbetween.  Look at some of these statistics.

•    36 percent of Americans say that they don't contribute anything to retirement savings.

How can they?  When you look at the next statistic…

•    61 percent of Americans "always or usually" live paycheck to paycheck, which was up from 49 percent in 2008 and 43 percent in 2007.

This is America in general.  61%!  That is a staggering number and people wonder why our economy is dying?  We can’t afford to save, we can’t afford those nice new automobiles, etc.

•    66 percent of the income growth between 2001 and 2007 went to the top 1% of all Americans.

This is typical rich get richer.  The reason it cuts off at 2007 is because of the minimum wage increase.  That increase did nothing more than try to shorten the gap.  However if you were making $8 before the increase, you were almost $2.50 per hour above minimum wage.  You would now be $0.50 above minimum wage.  Raising minimum wage doesn’t actually FIX things, things might seem better for the people who were under the new minimum wage, but then here comes inflation!  Suddenly, that increase in minimum wage is nominal and the people who were making above minimum wage are now poorer.  All we did was make a more level poor class.

•    The top 10 percent of Americans now earn around 50 percent of our national income.

There’s that giant gap again.

•    Average Wall Street bonuses for 2009 were up 17 percent when compared with 2008.

Funny, for a sector that needed a bail-out, they’re still earning more and more money.  Wall Street and the Government, neither one can cutback when they should be.  I also heard that banks that were bailed out gave out over $1 billion in bonuses.  I’m all for incentives, but all that does is piss off the common consumer more.  Now, I wouldn’t have nearly as much a problem with it if those bonuses were all for the workers instead of the executives at those banks, but come on.  We all know where the money in America goes, straight to the executives.  The working class continues to get pissed on.  Unions are dying and Obama and Biden have done a piss poor job of helping them like they supposedly said they would.  But then again, with Unions making sure workers get a decent wage, the executives say they aren’t making enough money and have to close the plant and move it to a third world country.  Plus the downfalls of globalization and all…


Joe Biden tries to figure out why the hell the arrow on the logo points up.  Everyone stares on in confusion.

•    In 1950, the ratio of the average executive's paycheck to the average worker's paycheck was about 30 to 1. Since the year 2000, that ratio has exploded to between 300 to 500 to one.

More of the rich getting richer.  Once again, go figure.  There’s something wrong with this picture.  If this isn’t trickle down economics, what else is?  This is basically, I take the money and then piss on everyone else working for me except my buddies.  See?  Trickle down.

•    In America today, the average time needed to find a job has risen to a record 35.2 weeks.

Wait a second… I thought the Obama administration was creating all these new jobs.  Yet the job listings out there are smaller and smaller.

•    83 percent of all U.S. stocks are in the hands of 1 percent of the people.

Invest, invest, invest, right?  Who the hell can afford to?  Oh wait, those guys.  Not that I would want to invest in the current market.  Even if it was thriving I couldn’t afford to anyway. 

•    This is what American workers now must compete against: in China a garment worker makes approximately 86 cents an hour and in Cambodia a garment worker makes approximately 22 cents an hour.

We can’t compete on a Global Market until somebody in Washington wakes up and start to tariff the hell out of any product from those countries with unfair labor laws and practices.  Make our manufacturers able to compete.  But guess what?  We won’t.  So we reap what we sow.


The Global Market at work and looking outstanding.

•    For the first time in U.S. history, more than 40 million Americans are on food stamps, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture projects that number will go up to 43 million Americans in 2011.

You supposedly have a decent job and still have to go on food stamps, then something is wrong in America.  Something is broken and the American Dream is fading fast.  America is quickly becoming a land of, you have to have money to make money.  All you need is to be born to the right people or know the right person.  If you don’t, sucks to be you.  Is that the Free Market that the Republican seem to love so passionately?  No.  The Free Market they talk about is protect the corporation and screw the workers.  Neither side knows what they’re doing and they’re so set in being contrary to the other side that nothing will ever be worked out.  And both sides have their followers so tied up in knots that all they know is that they HAVE to hate each other.  Nobody wants to listen to each other and come up with a “best” solution.  And this is why things get worse.  Politics!


Sunday, July 25, 2010

Requiem for a Hard Drive

Alas, poor hard drive, I knew you well.  We met 8 years ago when I moved to the Twin Cities.  I need the companionship of a new computer and I pieced one together all by myself.  But the key ingredient was you.  I needed you to store my files, nest my operating system, and help me play my games.

Recently you became a secondary hard drive to a newer system, but you were never forgotten.  In you, I placed the faith of my Ubuntu OS and you excelled.  Helping me dual boot, my main hard drive became my secondary for merely storage, but you did more.  I used you to run Ubuntu, to perform many different tasks, and we did a grand job together.  The things I installed on you, the things we tested together.


In Memoriam, 2002 – 2010

Oh, I may have formatted you several times and changed your file system around around.  You’ve seen FAT32, NTFS, EXT3 and finally EXT4.  You never complained, never gave in, you just simply complied.  I saved many a files to you, used you to help me create many DVDs.  Even though I upgraded to a laptop, you still had a special place in my heart and we still continued to see each other.

Recently though, things changed.  I had downloaded a file and went to open it to find it corrupted.  And you know who corrupted it?  You did.  After all these years, you have finally started to corrupt things around here.  All that trust we had started going down the drain.  Can you imagine the pain I felt?  To see you not be able to download my files anymore tore me apart.  But I couldn’t accept that you were developing bad sectors, could I?  Then the testing began.

I ran you through a battery of tests, read the results and refused to accept the answer.  Why does something have to fail just because it is getting old?  It doesn’t seem fair!  I tried to run programs that would fix you or at least get us past those bad sectors, but those sectors were growing.  There was no way to just quarantine those sectors.  It started to spread more voraciously than I could ever have expected.  I thought this would a long drawn out battle, but no.

One night, you just failed completely.  You simply wouldn’t boot anymore.  The system found you unreadable, unusable.  No more prolonging this battle, we were at our end.  Afterwards I would run tests to determine the cause and came back with the same results.  Old age, you see, does this.  And at some point, it just stops working.  There’s nothing more I could have done, nothing would have changed what happened.  Sometimes when it’s time, it is just time.  So now I must move on. 

It’ll be awhile before I buy another hard drive.  Moving past this is simply too rough and costs money right now.  But next time, I certainly won’t take that hard drive for granted.  I’ll be more careful with it, I’ll… naw screw it.  You damned hard drives are for downloading stuff and storing crap.  If you aren’t built up to par, tough!  I’ll use and abuse all the hard drives I want!  And by the way, the next one will be bigger and better than your measly 80 gigs of memory.  So how do you like that?

This rant was brought to you by Hard Drive Loss Veterans of American and the Ad Council.


ECW Part… 3?

It is no secret that ECW (Extreme Championship Wrestling) was the biggest “cult” hit wrestling has ever witnessed.  It was a unique time and place and TNA Wrestling is set

T to explore it once more.  Apparently Dixie Carter has given Tommie Dreamer the reigns to book this PPV and bring back some of ECW’s stars.  But what will we get?


Several years have passed since the demise, rebirth, and then WWE ultimately crapping it down the drain.  This is like ECW One Night Stand Again.  But the wrestlers are much older now, some are barely wrestling and some just can’t do once what they used to.  Maybe they’ll pull out all the stops, maybe they’ll do stuff we haven’t seen in awhile, maybe they’ll put it all into this one.  Hardcore wrestling fans want more than that though.  They want ECW.

The only way something like ECW could ever exist again is Paul Heyman in creative control.  To TNA, that would be a damned tempting offer.  Heyman was constantly undermined when Vince put him in charge of ECW, insisting of ridiculous things.  Heyman had no creative control in the WWECW, it was all Vince and his cronies.  But the way things are in TNA right now, would Heyman want to be drug back in?  Would he work with Hogan and Bischoff?  Too many egos for that to work.

So what should we expect of TNA’s Hard”core” Justice?  I think you should expect wrestlers giving everything they have for one last time.  I think you’ll see some good memories and decent matches, but nothing to spectacular.  The only way the PPV will get a boost is if Paul Heyman is there or a surprise there.  It will make wrestling fans wake-up and take notice of TNA.

Really though, we’re retreading some old road here and not moving on.  I’m begging to think they should name the PPV, ECW One Last Paycheck for some of those guys.  I here some are trying to make as much money off of it as possible and some are asking TNA to put them under contract for 2 years if they do the show, etc.  As for those wrestlers, you don’t need them for the PPV because it’s apparent they’re only looking out for themselves and don’t truly care about what they’re trying to create.  They will only drag it down more with the drama they’re trying to create.

Am I the only one who feels there have been too many ECW celebrations and “last” shows?  Nobody is letting go of this thing.  I loved ECW, but it’s done and will never happen again.  And to call TNA something like ECW, well, the first few years it might have resembled that, but the last few years have been anything but that.  Sorry Tommy Dreamer, but TNA isn’t the closest thing to ECW there is.  There isn’t anybody even close and there never will be again.  Can’t we accept that and let it rest in peace?


Saturday, July 24, 2010

Politicians, In Touch With America?

I remember the 90’s, they were a great time.  America was riding high on the fat and living it up.  Things were really starting to look up.  But what caused all of it?  Well, I’m pretty sure the firestorm that became known as the internet took hold.  Soon people needed new computers to get online, so here come the computer companies.  ISPs popped up all over the place to meet demand.  Then we had advertising and all sorts of pyramid schemes and get rich quick stuff and whatever else you can think of.  Eventually it all came crashing down.  Too many companies didn’t have real business plans and were just operating off selling advertising and other schemes.  It affected all sectors of our economy.  We’ve never truly recovered.  NAFTA has played a lot into our problems as well.  But I’m not getting to my point am I?

Looking back, I’m not sure if history is reflecting favorable on Bill Clinton because of what he did or if he was just in the right place at the right time.  After all, shouldn’t we blame NAFTA partially on him?  Making us more a part of the global economy is killing us right now, but that’s for another time and place.  So we’ve sort of started to revere the man and overlooked his infidelity problems.  But this latest bit of news is amazing.

How many of you remember Chelsea Clinton?  You know the one.  Googly eyed, metal mouthed girl that got made fun of all the time.  Yep, her.  She’s getting married!  Huzzah!  And too show how connected the Clintons are with the rest of America they’re going to go low-key on this wedding.  Low-key in the tune of 2 MILLION DOLLARS!  No, I didn’t stutter.  Can you even stutter online?  Maybe if a key gets stuck.


(Above) Chelsea asks for stacks of money to help pay for her wedding. 

Contrast this to Jenna Bush who’s wedding two years ago cost $100,000.  Downright thrifty compared to Chelsea.  Still crazy, but comparatively not bad.  Should a wedding cost more than a house?  How about several really really nice houses?  Think on that for a minute.  Now think how much your home cost and figure out how many houses could Chelsea have bought at this price!  She could buy 34 houses just like mine.  34!

The flowers alone for her wedding cost $250,000!  Imagine the kind of home most people can buy for that amount of money.  Pretty nice house right?  But on flowers, the damned things are going to die in 3 days.  With the kind of stuff going on in the world, you’re telling me a wedding is going to have $250,000 worth of flowers.  Talked about screwed up priorities folks!  I won’t even go into the estimates for the rest, but come on, you have to be kidding me!  Do these people live in our America?  Have they even seen the state of Michigan?  That state goes into a great depression every 4 years!

Politicians now days do not have their pulse on America’s problems.  They throw money at things and hope to fix it or they just ignore it and pretend it doesn’t exist.  Why not?  They get paid well and have the best benefits you can get.  And how do politicians get elected?  Well, it starts off usually with having money and then buying a large amount of advertising to bury your opponent and then you just keep working your way up the food chain.  But to be a politician, you’re probably going to have to be making a goodly amount of money first.

Do politicians really believe they’re serving our best interests?  Yeah, I think a lot of them think that and then they lose touch along the way.  They can’t relate to the struggles of a family of 5 trying to make ends meet.  They don’t see what happens when you can’t afford to repair your car or replace your water heater.  They don’t realize what it takes.  And guess who puts them into office?  That’s right, you saw that person in the mirror this morning.  And it keeps getting worse and the candidates are almost all terrible.

How many people think Hillary Clinton truly understands poverty?  Do they understand that our economy is in the shitter?  They claim they do, but throwing toilet paper into it isn’t helping.  It’s still shit.  Somebody get the plunger!  The Clinton Family has won my Hobo Shame Award of the Week.

Homeless_man_in_Anchorage crazy_old_man

Play em off Hobo Cats!


Friday, July 23, 2010

Babylon 5 Season 1, Winning My Heart

I’m currently watching the entire run of Babylon 5.  Today I’m going to review the first season, even though I’m currently on Season 4.  I want to first mention, I completely missed the Babylon 5 boat.  I mean COMPLETELY!  At the time, I lived in the country, didn’t have cable, and didn’t like that Babylon 5 seemed a lot like Deep Space Nine.  I loved Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, it was a fantastic show, but it did rip-off some key ideas of Babylon 5, mainly because the writer for Babylon 5 had presented Paramount with the idea for his show and I guess they just stole parts they thought was useful.
Another thing I must admit.  I irrationally hated Babylon 5 because of the character Londo Mollari (who I had no idea was the name of the character).  Why did I hate him so?  He had the most ridiculous hair of all time, like a sideways mohawk.  All the major sci-fi geeks loved the show and I couldn’t figure out why they did.  I figured it had to be because they loved that sideways mohawk to death and thought it was the most original idea ever.  Well, I was wrong.  What they loved was the great storytelling that I was missing out on.  And boy, does the writer J. Michael Stacyznski (hereby referred to as JMS) weave a great story for everyone!
The basic premise of the series is that Earth has built a 5th Babylon station after the other 4 all were destroyed or vanished.  The Babylon Station is to be a place for different races to gather and mediate their differences out in peace.  There is a grand storyline going on and one of the most unique things is that each episode can and often does have a noticeable affect on the next.  The idea that JMS had was to create a series that would go on for 5 seasons, have strong continuity and tell an ongoing story through-out.  He really accomplishes this like few others have or could.
We have several strong characters we meet right away.  For the background, I couldn’t do better than this following site. Season 1 Characters and Background
The acting is give or take at times, especially during this first season.  It gets stronger (for the most part) in later seasons.  The only issues I had was that we had the fat but lovable oaf Vir and the stiff as a board captain Jeff Sinclair.  Sinclair’s delivery is just so dry and he seems like a military type guy.  But with that comes a lot of inflexibility in his acting skills.  His voices doesn’t have a lot of different tones and inflections.  He’s just got a serious voice all the time, a bit too serious for my tastes, but he does have his moments.
The best acting in the series comes from the actor who plays G’Kar and Londo.  Londo seems to be a limited character at first, but I’m telling you, as the show goes on, he really shines and provides some of the best moments from a character in the series.  The actor who portrays G’Kar seems able to portray many emotions and tones quite well.  The security officer, Michael Girabaldi played by Jerry Doyle does an excellent job in the series as well.  Also watch for Walter Koenig appearances through-out the series for some of the best acting I’ve seen him do, you’ll love to hate him!
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I don’t want to give away spoilers.  I do want to say that season one sets the stage for the rest of the story.  We have a mystery with Sinclair about what happened to him at the Battle of the Line (during the Earth/Minbari War) going on.  We also find out about the sinister Psi-Corps, Earth’s issues with the Mars Resistance and some big mysteries which do eventually get explained!  Yeah folks, we aren’t talking Lost here!  Questions do get answered quite regularly.  Keep in mind, you will see a key actor from Lost, Mina Furlan in almost every episode of the series too.  Can’t be that bad right?
I just love the intrigue that goes on with political battles, moral issues, and a constantly in-motion plot that flows well from episode to episode even though it is sometimes a bit more hidden than other episodes.  If you like intrigue, drama, poltics, and sci-fi in an epic adventure, this is for you!  And boy, it gets better in Season 2!  More on that later!  All episodes are available right now to watch online free!  The WB - Babylon 5 Complete Series Online!


Thursday, July 22, 2010

The World’s Greatest Kitchen Gadget

I felt that I should really take a moment and sing the praises of one of the best products I’ve ever owned.  I’m not usually one to totally pimp a product like this.  As a husband and father of two (about to be three), and being monumentally lazy, I have learned one thing.  I hate using the stove.  Give me a grill any day and I’ll cook the hell out of something.  That’s not a problem to me.  However, if pans and recipes start getting involved, I get skittish.
presto pizzazz
Presto managed to invent the Pizza Pizzazz.  Now at first glance, I was thinking, wow, what a stupid invention.  That’s where my mother comes in.  My mom has a penchant for the latest in kitchen gadgets and trends.  Chances are, if you’ve seen it on the Food Channel, my mother probably has it or has owned it.  So one night we came over for dinner and my mom decided to make pizza.  But she was going to use the Pizzazz and I was all for seeing if this thing was a “miracle” appliance or not.  She added on extra toppings and cheese and away she went.  I had NEVER had frozen pizza turn out and taste so good.  I knew then I had to have one.
Now, I’m a big fan of pizza in general.  I’m pretty sure I could eat it every day and still want more.  I has everything in life you need, meat, bread (dough), vegetables, cheese, and occasionally fruit.  It is the most perfect food in the world and is very hard to really screw up.  But I never really cared to eat most frozen pizzas as they were usually fairly bland and cooked unevenly.  But the Pizzazz really gets a nice crispy crust on those pizzas and that’s always a good thing.  I know some people swear by their pizza stones and those are fine if you’re making your own pizza, but they still don’t do it for me with frozen pizzas.
The ensuing Christmas proved to be very good to me and Becca as my mother got every family their own Pizza Pizzazz.  I was pretty enthusiastic about getting this as I had been eyeballing it pretty much everywhere I went.  It seemed a little pricey to me and I just wasn’t ready to spend the money on it.  After all, I had only seen it in action once.  After we got it for Christmas it was in use almost immediately.  Ever since, frozen pizza has been even MORE of a mainstay in this household.  I’ve really loved the thing.
Sure, this thing works for pizza, but I started to wonder why I couldn’t use it for other things?  Well, on I went with trying chicken nuggets, jalapeno poppers, breaded chicken patties, fish sticks, pizza rolls, and the list goes on.  There was even an ill-fated attempt to cook hamburgers on it (the only problem, nowhere for the grease to drain) and it took that licking and keeps on going.  And why does I use that instead of the oven?  Easy clean-up, I’m guessing it uses less electricity, so it just seems more efficient.  I’m not heating up a huge oven to do a few chicken patties.  And it gets all that breaded stuff crispy, so who can argue with that?
I’ve found that one of the few products that can make life easier is Presto’s Pizza Pizzazz.  I use it at least once a week if not more (depending on the week), and it has lasted (I believe) at least 4 years.  That’s pretty good for a product like this considering the amount of use it gets.  So it seems durable as well.  Just make sure you set the round tray on it correctly or you tend to burn things.  My friend Bart found this out the hard way when that Dutch fun loving Dennis didn’t put the tray on correctly.  If you don’t have one, you really should!


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Vampires Are Everywhere!

I never thought I would utter the phrase, “I’m totally sick of vampires.”  Yet here we are!  How many more movies do we need about these sad emo-esque characters who cry about their lost humanity, get it on with somebody, and then kick some rear end and eventually get staked.  I’m sick of it!

Gone are the days of vampires who were actually scary.  Nosferatu, Dracula, and many others.  Then Anne Rice had to go and humanize the bastards.  Suddenly we’re stuck with Tom Cruise as the image of what a vampire should be.  Excuse me?  Ugh, Tom Cruise is like napalm, goes up in a blaze and even after it’s killed you, you still can’t get rid of it.


His mouth says no but his teeth say “Hells yeah!”

Where the heck was I?  Oh, and we had Buffy the Vampire Slayer which was a pretty good series and it was followed up by the much better series Angel.  Yet Angel was cancelled because it was out BEFORE Twilight entered our lives.  Do I sound bitter?  Yeah, pretty much.  When series like True Blood and the Twilight Saga plus the ad nauseam other vampire series show up and the only two decent ones were cancelled, yeah, I’m bitter.  But with Hollywood trying to capitalize on it, Vampires are actually getting lamer by the minute.  These creatures of the night that once haunted dreams are now adorable plush dolls coming to a Quicky Mart near you.

Part of me was hoping for a revitalization of Kindred: The Embrace which was based on Vampire: The Masquerade which represents different clans of vampires all struggling for power in a never-ending game of politics and intrigue.  But that wouldn’t have gotten the crowd that they want now.  I think we’ve finally figured out that women are attracted to vampires.  I have to ask why?

Option A.  Women relate to Bloodsuckers.  Best we leave anything else unstated.

Option B.  Women find the “undead” attractive.  Hey, I’ve been saying that for years.  Ever watch the View?  That’s practically a convention of what the underworld looks like when you die.

Option C.  Women finally found someone that after 500 years understands women.  Have to break this one though, not even 500 years of living is long enough to understand women.  So let’s nix this one.

Option D.  Chicks dig old dudes.  I’m just going to go with this one.  It worked out for me after all.

So there you have it.  I’m suddenly understanding this phenomenon a little more.  Not a lot mind you.  All I know is that Hollywood is capitalizing on it.  Meanwhile, the original vampire, Aaron Spelling is slowly regaining his strength in his mausoleum, and he’s pissed his show never got a chance, since deep down it was probably about him anyway.  Most of you won’t get that, so Google it.  I love saying that.


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Extreme Savers? My Shiny Metal @$$

Ok, so this is a rant, but it is a rant about a particular article I read on Yahoo today.  To read that article, please click HERE.  So take a few minutes, peruse the article and then come back to me.  I’ll wait… go right ahead.

Now that you’ve read the article, let me talk about the people therein.  They have the ability to save money because they make a lot of money!  But they make it sound like we’re just being incredibly ridiculous that we aren’t saving big bucks.  Now if I made a lot of money, that article might not be that bad.  I’m broke every month because I don’t even make a fraction of what they do.  Let’s look a little bit deeper at some of these people.


First we have Ed Haskell who is a retired Air Force officer and Debbie who is a college professor.  They can afford to buy $100,000 and $200,000 houses in cash.  Me, I’m lucky to make 1/4 of the former' amount in a year.  So Ed and Debbie are frugal people.  Sure, they could afford bigger and more expensive cars, but hey, they’re content with the things they have.  Well gee Ed, you don’t say.  If I had a $200,000 home I would be pretty content.  Apparently he could afford a million dollar home if he wanted.  Well congratulations Ed for holding back on that.  You’re practically a hero.

Nicole and Mitch are next on my hit list.  Nicole is a director of marketing for a clean energy technology company, so you know she makes a goodly amount of cash.  Mitch is the manager for county government in Oregon so you know he’s got top notch benefits and lives in an area of the world we define as “nice”.  They budget $250 a month for vacation and $400 a month for entertainment.  Must be rough to only have $2750 a year for vacations.  Oh, and did I mention they put away $250 a month for their daughter?  Don’t tell me about saving money please.  Work off of $2000 a month with a family of four and then tell me how to save please.  Next!

Tiffani Murray is a Recruitment technology manager for a major consumer products company.  She’s probably the most down to earth of the bunch and that’s not exactly saying much.  She uses coupons and does rebates and just is a pretty smart consumer.  She also earns a 6 figure income, so once again, pretty rough, eh?  To find more money to save she does extra work on weekends which adds up to $25k per year.  Hell, I can’t even get that out of my job!  And once again, we hear the line that she could afford a bigger house and fancier car.  Quite the martyr for the cause Tiffani.

Coming in next on our list, Marcus and Shiela.  Marcus is a lieutenant colonel in the Army and Shiela is a project manager for a training company.  Once again, two sources of income and neither what I would call a “low paying” job.  They live in a townhouse rather than a mansion.  Oh, the things people do to themselves to save money!  I could shed several tears for them!

Finally we have Julie who is a stay-at-home mom.  Good for her, about time we see a sensible person.  Oh, she also founded which talks about how to save money.  Pretty good site from what I’ve seen, so she makes money off of teaching people how to save money.  Not a bad deal at all.  Kudos to her.  Oh, and her husband Ralph is a lawyer.  Well, I should have seen that coming.  We almost had a turn around on this last one.

Sorry Yahoo Financial, you do not have your finger on the pulse here.  Right now it’s the people making anywhere from $20k to 50k that are trying to figure out how to make ends meet.  They’re the ones trying to save money and provide for their families.  You have one of those families try and make it on my income and it won’t work.  I’m not complaining that I’m poor, that’s just the way it is.  These people made something for themselves and great for them.  However, do I really want Yahoo telling me that these are the guys who have “EXTREME” saving methods?  How out of touch are they?  Good job Yahoo.  Must be rough in your neck of the woods.


Monday, July 19, 2010

Initial Thoughts on Dominion Alchemy

One of my sister-in-laws visited me a week and a half ago and I finally got to try Dominion Alchemy.  I had been dying to try this as I’ve been a huge fan of anything Dominion based so far.  I was very happy to see her bring this and she knew I would jump at the chance to play it.  I’m not going to break this down into a point-by-point comparison and evaluation, etc, etc.  I’m going to keep this as simple as possible.

Dominion Alchemy slows the game down by a decent margin.  Keep in mind, I tried this using 5 cards from Alchemy and 5 from the rest of the sets.  I’ll talk about that issue in a little bit.  Alchemy introduced a new kind of treasure to us, potions.  By gump, those potions can help you buy some handy cards, but in the end, they just clog up your deck.  The good thing is, cards that require potions are fairly cheap, so if you buy a potion early on you can utilize it a decent amount.  But you then have to question whether to go after more potion cards or not and if you get too many they aren’t worth that much to you.

So why does it slow the game down?  Well, the extra treasures you have in your deck and it seems that even the good cards you buy with potions are limited.  They don’t give you much in the way of additional actions usually.  So burn through your deck, you will not.  That being said, it makes you try and device new strategies based on that.  Do you even spend time on potions?  You almost have to, so it’s hard to calculate sometimes.


The next part is where I’m not big on Alchemy.  To me, you are best to do 5 cards from Alchemy and 5 from the rest of the sets.  Well, I love to just randomize everything and get a different experience every time.  With the other sets, if I only got 1 or 2 cards from them, that was fine.  With this set, if you only had 1 card from Alchemy it would be a “weaker” card since the potion would be a space waster.  And there aren’t a lot of cards in the set to begin with, so you would have to keep using them or just leave out Alchemy altogether.  To me, that’s a huge weakness that none of the other sets suffer from.

My final opinion, Alchemy is simply a “nice to have” set, but NOT a “Must Have!” set.  And considering the past expansions, this one is disappointing to say the least.  It does add some interesting flavor and ideas, but those ideas require you to utilize at least a certain number of cards from that group.  Maybe some will like that bit of change in Dominion, but to me it’s just limiting the game.  Let’s hope the next expansion doesn’t continue down this slope. 

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