Friday, May 31, 2013

So what is the opposite of Nerd Rage?

I guess it's nerd praise, that being said I am about to lavish some on one specific source. Game designer Mike Pondsmith, and R.Talsorian games. I had been an avid gamer geek throughout most of the 1980s but in 1987, my gamer obsession went into overdrive looking for new systems, and new games. From DC heroes, to Palladium's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, to Top Secret S.I., I was getting more and more into the hobby, when an article in Dragon Magazine was reviewing comedy RPGS, like Ghostbusters, Toon, Paranoia, and Teenagers from Outer Space. I was both intrigued and hesitant. I could not imagine playing a game like Toon, having to figure out THACO for a boston cream pie seemed a bit excessive, as I said I was kind of new to the hobby, but the Dragon review did make TFOS seem like it could handle a comedic rpg with style and class, and do so without over complicating the rules. SO I took some summer job money and ordered it.

DAMN! it was a book rpg with it's own (albeit very tiny) dice! the game was a blast I ran a campaign for most of my freshman year of high school, and soon was introduced to a whole world of real near humans, not very near humans and real wierdies! It's one of the few RPGs that has never left my gaming collection at all, even for a short time. and While I have since upgraded to second and 3rd editions (a new edition a new power chart) It has always been one of the RPGS I grab out when I want to introduce the hobby. It's not anywhere near as complex as D&D, pathfinder, or Champions, and it focuses on roleplaying not rules. Later in the year I got introduced to a local game club that met at my local community college, the Burlington Area Game and Game Information Nexus Society, or B.A.G.G.I.N.S. and it was there I would meet my friend and later best man at my wedding Dave Fageol, he introduced me to Mekton II

While I had played other mecha games by this point. Battletech feels decidedly un-anime, it's more like game of thrones with high tech walking tanks. and while Palladium's Robotech features mechs from my all time favorite anime series it too falls flat on the feeling like an anime mecha show. The less said about hero games's robot warriors the better. But Mekton, Mekton was simply the best. It covered every convention of mecha combat in ways that seethed Gundam, Robotech,Voltron, Gunbuster and more! It was my mecha nerdvana. Admittedly we almost never used the game world of Algol, and mostly did mecha combat for the sake of mecha combat it was the bomb! It was not too long after when I went to my first gaming convention, Quadcon. and there on the shelf were two huge new sci fi RPGs set in the dystopian future. Fasa's Shadowrun which had a full city display and demo team showing it off with it's elven decker, and mix of magic and tech and another one.
I went with cyberpunk, for 2 reasons, first to paraphrase Douglas Adams, it was slightly cheaper, and secondly it was compatible with Mekton. The idea of merging mecha and cyberpunk, at my own whim seemed far more enticing than forceably mixing D&D with
cyberpunk. and thus the choice was clear. The only problem, is I had moved to a new town my sophmore year and while I could find players for D&D Cyberpunk for some reason was like pulling teeth. Seriously everytime I set up a game my group would find an excuse, any excuse not to play, they did the same thing with Call of Cthulhu but that was because they found the 1920s boring, but this one I just could not understand, it sat and it languished. until at another quadcon I saw it's replacement.
Sure 2020 was an improvement, but what's the point if my gaming group wouldn't touch it with a 10 foot pole? well I decided to put my old 2013 into the auction and recoup my losses and pick up 2020 hoping I would get some use out of it. The result? I spent the next 3 years running Cyberpunk 2020 almost exclusively.  The same high school friend who wouldn't touch it before now were asking me to run it all the time. at it's height I had about 12 players in one game. Mostly because one player had been double crossed by another, and had vowed revenge leading to a massive inter party battle. but it was brilliant. I have way too many fond memories of this game. even when after the high school play, I was asked to go to the big after play party that the "cool kids" were hosting, at the Pzazz and requested to bring my Cyberpunk books with. so here we are keg in the room high school nonsense and in the corner table here I am running 2020 with the remnants of my wizard's make up on (the play was once upon a matress, and I got cast as the wizard.) From our parties attempts to take over the narcotics rackets of night city to running from Arasaka hit squads. 2020 was my high school gaming mainstay.

Now granted I had done other games Runequest, Warhammer, Warhammer 40k, Lace and Steel, Champions, Gurps, Twilight 2000, but punk was what I always seemed to come back to. after my dalainces with the World of Darkness I did another huge cyberpunk stint and got rather burned out on the game. I did have fun with it's sister game Cybergeneration for a campaign but then the next big leap in gaming hit me.
 It was in many ways the polar opposite of Cyberpunk. Honor, and civility were far more prized traits than attitude. Trying to build up a full-on combat spec before reaching cyberpsychosis was not even a possibility. no dice, no character sheets. and a high drama victorian story was the focus of Castle Falkenstein. even the book's layout showed how different a game this was. The book was divided in half. The first half was a short novella about Tom Ollam's disappearance into this steampunk Austria where the Fey existed, magic and anachrotech were real, and the Mad Kin Ludwig was still in power. and the second half was the actual game. And as dice were for the games of the "lower born" Falkenstein used cards. focusing on hands and numbers gave the game more of a feel of controlling the story even from the player's perspective. While many other games have since used cards, it is what I really loved about Falkenstein. I recall this game teaching me one of the most valuable lessons of GMing, which is if the players are having fun, let them go. I had run a module with this huge plan to turn it into a massive globespanning object hunt againts the world crime league. My players were playing the Austrian answer to Sherlock Holmes and company, as they were invited to Paris to help secure the emperor's crown, they would take a train from Vienna to Paris. the 5 minute intro of which (I.E. boarding the train) became the whole basis for the night's session, no combat, almost no use of the rules just pure roleplay for about 4 hours and my players ate it up and asked for more. Not every game that can do that.

Furthermore Pondsmith and R.Talsorian are responsible for the 2 best gaming supplements in Come il Fout, we got a ton of background and story for Falkenstein that made the game even better, and a wealth of information on the victorian era enough to turn a newb into a jolly fine chap to fascillitate this fine game. and Listen Up You Primitive Screwheads, the most indispensable GM guide for cyberpunk and beyond. chock full of dirty tricks and evil schemes it is a GM's dream!

Then After trying a particularly unsuccessful Mekton Zeta Campaign (my fault I bit off far more than I could chew) we got a view of RTG's new system Fusion. We played a bit of Bubblegum Crisis, with a so-so gm. and at this point I was less interested in the new direction I skipped Votoms, and DBZ (never being a fan of the anime) I bought into Cyberpunk 2032, but it did very little for me. the whole altcult thing just did not appeal like the old days. and as Pondsmith headed off for greener pastures (working for Microsoft on games like Crimson Skies (Which I loved)) I began playing a lot more Legends of the 5 rings, Deadlands, Savage worlds, Traveller, Pathfinder,Heavy Gear, and of course minis gaming.

However recently there has been rumblings from RTG, a hint about an english translation of their mekton gundam game, and this.

HOLY CRAP!! Mekton Zero?! a new Mekton? a new Interlock system Mekton? SWEET! Promising a more streamlined mecha design system, a faster combat mechanic and all sorts of bells and whistles, of course I had to kick start it! I have kinda been thinking about a mecha themed hunger games kind of story line, and rather than hunting down an old copy of Zeta, I will wait until Zero finally drops. So to all you out there in cyberspace who love RPGs and love Anime, this is gonna be big. I highly recommend checking this out and kickstarting now, if nothing else, who knows can a new TFOS, Cyberpunk or Castle Falkenstein be far behind? only if we are lucky!

Dead again, (and again and again and so on...)

So huge surprise and spoilers, DC has done it again. That's right kids DC in a bold move to innovate their dramatic plots (i.e. make a quick buck off of sensationalizing a story element that will most likely be retconned, or modified in the story as to have not happened). Yep another "big character" in the DC universe has been killed. And it's real permanent like. You know like when Darkseid fried Batman with his omega beams in final crisis, he never, oh wait. yeah he came back. Well surely when Superman met his end at the hands of Doomsday it was the end of the man of steel but yeah even with 4 replacement superman Kal-El is still flying high as is his cousin killed in Crisis #7 never to return. Same with Flash Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, wait am I detecting a pattern here? (Spoilers ahead!)

Thursday, May 30, 2013

X-box one, it's the end of the world as we know it, and I don't think I am fine with this...

So I know this article is late, family and work, and other hobbies have kept me from the blog, but I feel I need to chime in on microsoft's newest attempt to dominate our entertainment lives, the X-box one. It would be easy to assume from the upcoming rant that I am a sony fanboy who probably never gave the first X-box a chance but that simply is not the case. I went X-box back in college for Halo, and another game that was chariot racing based that did not hold up, but Halo, was what kept me going.

 I loved Crimson Skies, both Halos, Toe Jam and Earl, Danzer Dragoon Orta, Fable, Mechwarrior the Dark Ages, and spent a fair amount of time playing Destroy all Humans, and the Godfather on my huge black box with the neon green X on it. I even preferred the original controller to the later controller "S".  I went from the original 8 gig hard drive beauty to the 360 without question skipping the PS2 entirely (actually i just bought a ps2 like 6 months ago but that will come later in the story) Halo-3, Fable2,  The  Orange box, both Left 4 Dead games and Mirror's Edge kept me on the seat of my pants gaming wise until I got the Red Ring of Death, and some interesting news. Sony was doing a DCU MMO, I am clearly a DC over Marvel person, and While I am not an MMO junkie the idea of playing it on the consoles sucked me in. I got a 160 gb model and began to play. this first thing that made me seriously think about "switching sides" in the console war was sony's wacky concept of free online gaming. What? I don't have to pay sony like $60.00 a year for a feature I (to be fair) rarely use!. other than DCU, I have maybe played 5 games on my ps3 in online, and about the same for my 360. even worse Microsoft requires the $60.00 gold service to get to use netflix, facebook, or hulu, things that my PS3 does for FREE! I have since leanred to love Killzone (buying a used PS2 to play the first one even), uncharted, resistance, and even dig Sony's move which seems to have more hardcore gamer titles for a motion control device than Kinnect or Wii. Also, since the move just uses the existing Eye camera and a new controller it is cheaper and can be built into the system in installments. I personally like using the move equivalent of the nunchuck for my ps3 as a media controller when watching netflix of hulu on it.

But sadly this generation is coming to an end. Soon the 360 and the PS3 will be regarded as dinosaurs by the local Gamestops and Best Buys, Heralded by the release of Nintendo's new HD Wii with a tablet, known as the Wii U, the console market s pushing forward to the next generation. And Microsoft's big plan to dominate comes in the X-box one, a monolithic black box with a Kinnect baked in, like it or not. Microsoft also killing the reselling of games by forcing you to use the disk to download the game, and play from the hard drive, this means that your used games have no value as they are drmed onto the new device. and considering the stellar record 360 had with red ring of death, Imagine having to rebuy your whole damn collection should your xbox one go tits up, I am sure they will have some cloud backup for your account but like having to completely rework the basic idea of I buy a disk, I can use it in favor of I buy a disk to have license to play a game assuming microsoft allows me to. Should MS crash or decide to ban your ass from X box live, you may have a brick on your hands. Not a can't play on line but the game system is still perfectly.  viable but an honest to god, I just flushed $400+ down the drain brick. Am I the only one who is annoyed by the gilded playground mentality that most software companies are eschewing anymore. iOS, new Mac OS, and Windows 8 not to mention proprietary operating systems like you find on more modern game consoles. Corporations are turning products into services that they can keep us paying for, and this is not the way to go. It sure the hell isn't customer friendly.

Now of course they are going to show off some impressive specs and games to get players past the negatives that are plain as day (yeah I know I can still "buy" a used game from microsoft but that's not the point!) and yeah the new Kinnect is far more sensitive, and you can use it to control your TV, and cable system, (But my guess is MS will charge for the privilege) and their new innovation, besides glass which should allow Wii u like play from a tablet, is the illumiroom. a projector placed behind the players to "transform your living room into a bigger game experience"

Keep in mind that Kinnect and Xbox 360 did poorly in Japan, specifically because of the huge amount of space you needed to play with it. not everyone has a full sized living room capable of supporting Kinnect, and now we need to install a damn projector to make the gaming experience "complete" really MS? Why not just play on a real projector? At this point I fully understand that PS4 may be like this even more so. It could be infinitely more locked down, and user unfriendly, and if so I won't bother with it either. In all honesty the game console market is starting to become less about gaming and more about multimedia and as PCs become less like PCs and Consoles become more like PCs we are moving inexorably toward a controlled data environment where the power isn't in the hands of the users but the users are merely consumers. Sure we'll give MS, apple, Sony and Facebook etc. all sorts of marketing data (the thing they really want us to produce) but for now I'll pass on the "one" and I won't be surprised if this is Microsoft's least popular system to date.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Why? No Really Why?

So the latest League question is both simpler and more complex than normal, thus I think it's time to do the same with the article the question they wanted is "Why" Why am I called a racist?

What?  Racist? how in the hell did you equate why to racism? I know both are bad pet names (so is spam by the way) but what do the two have in common. It's simple Why is the question I seem to always ask when I see some of the dumbest choices in casting. Thus I think I have to label myself a cinematic racist.

I say this because I am the one who get annoyed when Idris Elba is cast as Heimdall,  I mean WHY? after all it is not as if Asgard wasn't pointed out to be a nordic culture and the basis of nordic religion, why cast Elba as Heimdall? is it just political correctness gone amuck. Yeah he did a good job albeit a pretty limited part. but Why?

By comparison Donald Glover petitioned very hard to get the coveted role of Spiderman in Sony's new film and it fell on deaf ears. Instead we went with a british kid named andrew Garfield who (and I am more than willing to blame the director and scripts as much as Garfield) played a sullen boardpunk version of parker that I simply did not like. Glover (who is best known by most as Troy Barnes on Community) would have made a spectacular Spiderman (Pun completely intended) his optimism is infectious. So what is the difference?

In my mind it's simple, race just isn't what makes spiderman, spiderman.  Spiderman (and his alter ego of Peter Parker) are about being the nerd, the geek, the social outcast, and still never giving up. he is a hero who in many ways has every right to be as sullen as Batman but just isn't he refuses to be. and Glover could have easily brought that to the role. Though it's not like the new Spiderman movie was anything to crow about, maybe there is still a chance for a good reboot!

I heard the same thing in Star Trek: Into darkness as Benedict Cumberback, (a lily white British guy known best for playing Sherlock Holmes in the modern adaptation by the BBC) got a ton of flack for playing Khan as he was originally played by Mexican actor Ricardo Montelbon, who played Khan in the original series, yet even there Khan was a Sikh.

I don't think one was any better or worse choice than the other, neither looks particularly like a Sikh, but also Khan's ethnicity didn't really enter into it, he was a genetic superman, that was the important part of his origin.

Yet no one took issue with Bane being played by equally white brit, Tom Hardy. WHY!? Bane is latino in origin, his costume is that of a Luchador, he is a luchador, That's all part of his origin, A luchador is a mexican masked wrestler, yet no one complained when bane was simply as mexican as fish and chips!

This is the time it may have mattered more than Khan. Or what about the film Mortal Kombat when Raiden the Japanese god of Thunder was played by....
French actor Chrisopher Lambert. considering his thick accent I really doubt they hired him for his elocution. Considering the lack of fighting Raiden had to do in the film, and the possible desire to have Raiden explain everything in the plot, why not choose someone like I don't know...
I mean it's not like he is not charismatic, has a deep booming voice that can command respect, and is also ironically enough not just asian looking but ACTUALLY JAPANESE!! THis decision can only make sense if Takei was offered the part and declined.

So I have been called racist on forums for disliking Heimdall, or the like but let me put it to you, if race matters why would you not at least TRY I understand that if you are casting a hollywood movie about inuits that celebrity inuit actors who can speak good 'Merican for a hollywood film may be in short supply. I am also cool with an Asian actor playing the Flash, or a black Harry Dresden, I am decidedly less cool with say Matthew Maconahay playing T'chala's brother, or cousin in a Marvel Black Panther movie. But why am I a racist for wanting authenticity in a role when race mattered in the script/ original source?

So now that I have that off my chest what is everyone else up to?

Cal's Canadian Cave of Cool
Infinite Hollywood
30(ish) year old boy
Geek til it hurts
claymation werewolf
Pop Pop, It's Trash Culture
Fortune and Glory (days) 
Diary of a Dorkette
Pop Rewind
Cool And Collected

Friday, May 24, 2013

Speaking of good TV ideas...

The following are w great ideas for animated series that Cartoon Network/adult swim, passed on. In short I have to ask. REALLY!?! I Mean you let 12 ounce mouse and squid billies on the air, but these  aren't good enough? Travesty!

Evan dorkin's Eltingville club, it's like the Big Bang theory but darker and funny.

Don't get me started on M.C. Chris, he was the funniest damn part of aquateen hunger force.

seriously, why adult swim, why?

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

My top ten dream products that I seriously doubt will ever get made.

O.k corporate America! Prove me wrong! I would gladly throw my hard earned monies at any of these projects, but I have serious doubts that you would want to make them. Maybe it's because I am alone in my desire, or maybe you just don't wanna anyway here is my list of things I would throw my money at if some one would just freaking make!

10- Asian themed terrain (that is easy to get)
As  a miniatures wargamer, this is an era that I tend to gravitate to, and finding even a small amount of terrain at decent cost is damn hard. I mean, really? look at european fantasy stuff and you can find tons, from GW made wizards towers to  hobbit holes, but Samurai have to for the most part fight on open planes unless I want to track down a few obscure game companies and drop some serious coin. I just did a kickstarter for a company that looks promising, but still have not heard back from the promised "few minutes" to set up an account. GRRR!

9- Mego firefly figures.
Toys are another obsession of mine, as is firefly. And when companies recently started to repro mego's iconic designs and merge them with about every damn license they can come up with Space 1999, I Love Lucy, Married with Children (Really we needed a freaking bud bundy figure, but My desire for an 8" Malcolm, or River goes unheeded) and even the Big Lebowski getting some Mego love it blasts me that few have thought this would not sell especially considering the severe lack of figs for firefly with it's rather large fanbase. I find it hard to believe I am alone on the venn diagram between loves firefly, and collects megos!

8- Mego game of thrones figures
Same as above, I know some people have customed both but I want to BUY some, I don't have time to custom like I used to, so why not make them Django Unchained got Megos and the movie hadn't even been released yet, both of these have established fanbases!! Listen to me oh makers of fine retro figures, if you build them I will buy!!!!!

7- A remake of the playmake SDF1
With the Robotech minis game kickstarter ending over $1,000,000+ over target needed this would be an awesome product for terrain at 5.5 ft long, and made of cardboard it can't be super expensive unlike say a reissue of the USS Flagg for G.I. Joe Fans (which would probably be in the same costs bracket as the new X-box one. and the internal storage would be awesome for battlefoams, I have a feeling IF I am lucky enough to find one of these on eBay, I will be paying through the nose for it!

6- A good battletech themed Clix game
I think Wizkids completely missed the mark on this one. Mage Knight (their first game) was a unique game with a focus on small tactics. IN fact seeing as they were formerly FASA, using this game for Shadowrun minis would have been great. instead they made a shadowrun game with 6" figures, and removable gear, it flopped. It flopped because unlike their other games it was not blind packed so even if you bought the whole set (both series) you were done after $120, where the smaller heroclix and mechwarrior could have you spending easily twice that to get a set. So the smart move would be to make shadowrun a warband game with blind packs like heroclix, and for mechwarrior use the 6" model for mechs (as mechs can repainted and resold with no need to retool, and players may want multiple mechs where there is no need or reason to buy more than one individual character) then blind pack the infantry and small vehicle assets, and voila, more unique game with far more profitability. and if set at 28mm players will buy more figs as they can be used for other games. but what the hell do I know both games failed. So clearly they went the best way.

5- Star Trek :Intrepid
Simple Idea. The new Trek created a new timeline. That means everything has changed right? So a TV series about Commadore Decker's crew could be cool for so many reasons. 1- it would be cool to see a different crew, a normal crew, not the best of the best crew. 2- seeing more classic Trek and a fresh take on it would be excellent, and casting the crew from Firefly is one way to bring the fans of both. Fillian could make a great Matt Decker, and Gina Torrez as 1st officer Sloan (great grand daughter of Lilly Sloan, Zephram Cochrane's assistant from first contact) and they could even do the pilot with a more positive end to the doomsday machine bit in which in the original timeline Decker sacrificed himself after his crew died. We know the cast has chemistry, we know there are great Star Trek Writers who could put this crew into the forefront, with the possible cameos by the movie crew. seriously why would this not be awesome!?!?

4- Peepshow and That Mitchell Webb look on US DVD, or Blu Ray, or digital downloads.
Two of my favorite british TV shows and no (legal) way to get them where is the F***ing justice in this people? I am not asking to pirate it I am looking to buy legal from iTunes or Best Buy. OH COME ON PEOPLE!!!

3- Bring back M.A.S.K.
So we got GI Joe 25th anniversary, and Transformers 25th anniversary, rebuilding the classic brands. but M.A.S.K. had the awesomeness of both GI Joe and Transformers, and yet it has been relegated to one figure in the GI Joe 25th anniversary. I know make the figures bigger and the vehicles (biggest selling point of M.A.S.K.) more expensive. but even if we retool them at the new styles, it could work.

2-Barry Ween: Boy Genius, Animated! 
Think Dexter's Lab meets south park. Judd Winnizk's Barry Ween was a brilliant comic that is dying to be made into a TV series on say adult swim or Comedy Central. more clever than South Park, or Family Guy, Fall on your ass funnier than The Big Bang Theory. an 8 year old with an IQ of 400+ and his hyperactive doofus best friend who normally screws things up. Honestly this needs to be made!

1- a (GOOD) Green Lantern Movie
Yup! I am beating a dead horse on this one, lucky for me I have my necronomicon handy to raise said horse from the dead sos I can beat it again! Seriously people how hard would this be to do a direct to video cartoon got it right, but your multi million dollar  coke addled studio comes up with "Hey let's make Hal Van Wilder!" Then people wonder why the hell I nerd rage like I do!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Ready Player One- A review

This is the first review I have done for a novel, on my blog, kinda reminds me of doing book reports as a kid, but that works considering the wellspring of nostalgia about to be unleashed. 
Within minutes of reading this book, I had a pretty good synopsis for the book in mind, and after finishing I still think it sticks. This book is in short, a Cyberpunk retelling of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Now before you think straight rip off and imagine Oompa Loompa's Cybered up on chipware and carrying neural-linked smartguns. There is more to it but it my short explanation is meant to give you a basic gist. The story starts with a poor kid named Wade Owen Watts, (His initials are W.O.W. just like World Of Warcraft, Coincidence? I THINK NOT!) There are a lot of references to sci-fi comics, videogames and music, mostly from the 1980s. an era that is clearly revered by the author of this book, Ernest Cline. Anyway Wade like almost everyone in his dystopic future is involved with OASIS, a combination MMO, Facebook and Internet in the future. Wade is schooled in a virtual classroom, was raised by educational softwares, and when he is not in the massive online universe of OASIS, his life sucks.

But there is hope, The creator of the OASIS is dead. And in his will, he placed a contest to which he offers his fortune to he who can find 3 special keys (copper, jade, and crystal) and challenge the 3 gates. Halliwell the game's creator was obessed with his own past and those things he loved in his teen years making the 1980s a source of fascinations in hopes of finding clues to the prize's (an egg) mysterious whereabouts. Hunters of the egg have formed clans looking over the next 5 years However Wade finds the first one. which after 5 years of fruitless searching his actions ignite a firestorm on the network. An enemy, in the form of a rival company IOI, (the 3 letters almost look like an emoticon for a tie fighter don't they!) who wants the prize to take over Haliwells' fortune and company further monetizing it for their own selfish purposes. They want it bad enough to kill, and thus Wade's life is immediately in danger, both in cyberspace and in real life. 

Overall, this book was a very satisfying read, it's about as tough to read as Jim Butcher's Dresden books. In short You start reading and find it very hard to put down until it's done (hence the reason my British Infantry aren't going to be done by the con this weekend! Thanks Steve!) The only real complaint is as a hardcore geek I felt some of the surprise lost in exposition that I already knew stuff about. such as when they compare the contest to both Atari's adventure easter egg, and the Swordquest series. I wasn't think oh wow I never knew that, I felt more of a yep and then they will link swordquest to the prizes offered for discovering the secrets of the games and that the contest never saw fruition due to Atari's financial woes dropping the games from production. Don't get me wrong this was minor, and still did not ruin the book for me. There are still some damn good twists and turns which I will not spoil here. In the end a good read for any hardcore comic/video game/rpg/1980s geek. I have also heard Warner Bros has picked up the rights for the film. This kind of scares me as the ton of references can make the film a logistical nightmare from Serenity, to Star Wars,to Macross  and Even mentioning Champions, and Shogun Warrior toys. if they make fake proxies it will ruin the point of seeing Max Headroom as the AI for a firefly class ship (Please let the get Matt Frewer back!) but the realities is Fox, Disney, Toei, Marvel hell even hero games will probably want a bit of the action to use their IPs. I hope it works don't get me wrong but this could be the source of some massive (and well placed) Nerd Rage should they mess up this nerdvana of a book.

Set Phasers to, Rage!

So this week's assignment from the league is Star Trek, A show near and dear to my heart (and other organs!)- I have always liked Star Trek, but sometime around 1986, I became obsessed with it. Taping episodes on the family VCR, and replaying them constantly taking in every nuance of Gene Roddenbury's epic "wagon train to the stars" Also finding out that I live about an hour from James T Kirk's birthplace of Riverside Iowa, made me have to take the pilgrimage every year. Heck I even got George Takei to sign my copy of the Decipher Star Trek RPG Player's guide. Trek is in my blood, if we are going to argue Star Wars or Trek, this is a no contest for me Trek every time. I would rather deal with the innane space hippies or Wesley Crusher at his worst, than deal with Jar Jar Binks, and midichlorians!

 Not sure I am really this much of a Trekkie (Trekker's take note, I use the term Trekkie, because it is what Roddenbury himself used, hey he created it, he gets fanbase naming rights!) Here is a picture of Me and my wife and dog, Ein, at Trekfest in 2011,
Ein, is Dressed as "Bones" obviously, but yeah I look like goof, in this pic, but the wife and dog look fine. Speaking of Riverside, and knowing that this is Nerd RAGE against the machine, Brings me to a bit of a sore subject. 

One thing that really pisses me off about Star Wars (yeah I know this is about Trek, but just let me give a bit of backstory first!)  fans is their incessant need to try to prove superiority, I recall being in a Firefly discussion on line and listening to such winning arguments as "If it's the future why do they still use bullets, and drills?" Oh I don't know SITHDUDE2013, probably because they are proven to work, how long have nails been around? or the wheel Barrow? even with more modern ways of putting 2 boards together the nail works dumbass! And this from a fan of a show where we have energy beam based melee weapons and yet no one understands the basic concept of railing. the queens palace, endless chasms, no railing, the Deathstar, you need to go out on a 4" ledge over a endless chasm to turn off the tractor beam and of course, no railings. Osha would have a field day in a galaxy far far away how F&*^ing hard is it to come up with a metal bar about chest high, oh sure we can put forcefields all over the damn place the idea of a safety rail alludes us! Well With the new Trek movie, the complaint from all Star Wars fans was the same. "It's like a total rip off of a new hope!" "Old man mentor tells young idealistic kid to lead a bigger life and he fights a planet killing device. I mean Captain Kirk is like a total Luke Skywalker rip off!" So as someone who lives within spitting distance of Kirk's home town let me point this out! 

Riverside Iowa is about 30 miles from Iowa City. the former capital, it is also home to my alma matter, the University of Iowa, which is still rated as one of the top 10 party schools in the USA. The shot above is a normal tailgating during a home game. lets' compare this to the largest city we know that was near Luke Skywalker. 
Mos Eisley, never will you find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. In short a back water world with a heavy crime rate run by a space slug. What is my point? simple Kirk as a teen had access to both a big ten University which has a top flight medical school, and a huge party scene every weekend. While luke (in the script and cutscenes) mostly does chores and hangs out with a few local acquaintances.  Kirk was most likely taking AP classes due to his higher intelligence, and sneaking over to the left side of Burge Hall (the women's side) on the weekend, if not trying to get in to One Eyed Jakes, the Field House or thier 22nd century Equivalents. This is why kirk turned out like this-

While Luke turned out like this. 

The bar scenes in both films tells the story pretty well. Luke meekly listened to Obi Wan, and was victimized in the bar leading to Obi Wan having to save his farmboy ass. Kirk, strode into the place, hit on the hottest girl he could find, and when someone tried to "defend her honor" Kirk was spoiling for a rumble. In this case no meekly hiding behind a Jedi, no Kirk jumped in full bore! this is the difference between Luke and Kirk, Luke is an innocent who was thrust into a much larger world, but Kirk was already too big for where he was.  I won't deny that there are similarities. Just like there are similarities between Star Wars and other established fantasies I mean a small town boy thrust into a war against an evil empire who has been given a power to destroy it, while it's the plot to star wars, it's also the plot to lord of the rings! In fact let's be fair all you Jedi out there, Lucas borrowed heavily from tons of sources, R2D2 And C3PO were inspired by two yojimbo from Kurusawa's hidden fortress. Vader's armor? Samurai.  Han and Chewy? Gunslinger and sidekick from about any western, and Obi Wan Reeks of Gandalf the Grey, complete with best friend who stabbed him in the back, but he comes back more powerful than you can possibly imagine. 

So what are the other blogs up to you may ask? 


Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Bates Motel: The new Smallville

Recently I have been watching the A&E series Bates Motel regularly and I have to admit it has been a very interesting show. However I cannot help but draw a parallel to another TV series, Smallville, which was the WB's attempt to make Superman young and hip for the kids.

Both shows are origin stories, but there is more to it than that- That would be an easy comparison, I could add Batman Begins or the first Spiderman movie to the similarities. However it has more to do with HOW they made these shows work.

First they are modern retellings of origin stories. Norman's history was originally chronicled in the film psycho 4 with ET star Henry Thomas as the young Norman. The new show does not follow the movie at all really. Firstly Psycho 4 was a period piece meant to completely tie it to the original Hitchcock film, including narration and scenes with Anthony Perkins reprising his role as Norman Bates. I was unsure about if this was meant to supplant or start fresh as the family car was vintage, the houses looked vintage even the home they have before they move, but once Norman whips out an iPhone to listen to some tunes at the bus stop it all becomes clear. This was also true of Smallville, The man of steel's origin has been retold more times on the silver screen than there have been original superman films. and Smallville wanted to basically tell the story of a teen superman without ever resorting to him donning tights or flying, or facing foes that would put the budget into a higher cost than say an episode ofBuffy the vampire slayer. Now the nice thing about Superman is that he does not need a period origin, his powers weren't tied to historical events such as Iron Man's (where the movies had to change China to Afghanistan to make the plot work), Not that it was a bad thing but more of a significant change than what kind of pickup the Kents found Baby Kal-El's rocket in. Thus Pa Kent's Ford F150, makes little difference than the stuetebacker used in the Richard Donner film.

Second the addition of new characters. Smallville was pretty well chronicled, in DC's past. Lana Lang, Pete, young Lex etc. but still the show needed to add quite a bit to make the show more modern from the silver age. The addition of the hip coffee bar, the Talon for example and Chloe, who is essentially a blonde Lois Lane clone who helps to create a love triangle with lana and who spends much of her time snooping around all the weird stuff that happens to young clark. Similarly Norman Bates spends time in a bit of a love triangle. Emma, the young girl with CF follows him around with stars in her eyes, while Norman chases a girl named Bradely. Emma kind of smacks of Chloe, Intrusive, love-struck and likable, In fact Chloe was likable was likable enough to end up being placed into the current DC Continuity Just like Harley Quinn was after her popularity on Batman the Animated Series. Bates Motel also adds Norman's brother and the local cops to the history along with another big similarity the mentor characters.

Emma's father is a local taxidermist, which was Norman's hobby in the original film, in the most recent issue Mr. Decody starts to teach Norman about his profession, setting those who remember the movie up for connecting the new show with the original film and what norman will ultimately become. The same can be seen in Smallville with the wheelchair ridden Doctor Swan (played by the late Christopher Reeves) who teaches clark quite a bit about his alien heritage, and inspires him to become the hero he would later be all in the space of an episode.

Finally the fictional towns of each are hotbeds for the kind of activity that would shape these characters into their future selves. In Smallville the idea that baby Kal El landed during the infamous Smallville meteor shower, plants Kryptonite all over the small Kansas town, and gives rise to many people who gain weird powers from the mystery element. and lead way to the first season following a monster of the week mentality. Kid gets picked on for X, he/she tries to compensate with activity Y somehow gets exposed to Kryptonite and voila, teen Clark has to stop the rampage of the teen who is either full of vindictive rage or just cannot help themselves. Meanwhile in the sleepy northern California town fo the show Bates Motel, we have a massive criminal underground with multiple players and rampant corruption, kind of a Gotham City wrapped in a Maybury shell. Honestly you add Norman's already present mental instability, and mother issues from a crazy mom, and he's lucky he's as well adjusted as he is by the time he kills Janet Leigh. From the secret pot fields to sex slave rings, it has more crime than my own home city of Cedar Rapids, at a size of a town like well Smallville.

All in all it's interesting to see how similar these shows are even though the end product of both towns are so very different. Norman hardly makes it to a nationwide stage like Superman, nor is he noteworthy for saving the world or stopping global catastrophes, Still it is a fascinating show.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Desert island (League of Extrordinary Bloggers)

This one is a bit of a toughie, so first let's look at what everyone else is suggesting.

vintage toybox
30 year old boy

And now let's cheat. I mean the point of these things is to make you choose just one "best" and sometimes that is harder than not, so here is what I would pick if i had to put my self in this ghastly situation.

Companion (literally) 
Sara Jane Smith (Tom Baker era) yeah, I have a type and she's it. smart, cute as a button, and she's been around the cosmos a few times, but still has that innocence that makes her so appealing.
I mean her stories alone could be quite a lot of entertainment. and she's easier on the eye than Ol Tom was even in his day. So yeah this would be my choice for one fictional character to have on the island.

Wendy's Chicken Cordon Bleu combo meals, with fries and a diet pepsi, this sandwitch was pretty epic, My wife and I started dating last time Wendy's put them on the menu, and she got sick of going to Wendy's because well, Cordon Bleu, If there is a sandwich I would have done the Homer Simpson ribwich thing for this is it. Of course you need the fries and a drink to make it a complete meal.

I am a bit more analogue than many of my coleagues who talked of Tetris and X-box, I am a bit more old school, for me the game is Bolt Action with apr 2000 points of units for each faction and some terrain and gaming table, The benefits of this is that it means tons of customizatin and the painting side of the hobby will also cure a bit of bordom, Sarah Jane can even provide a bit of color comentary seeing as she has probably seen some of this thanks to the Doctor, and yeah she can play brits, I am used to playing Germans anyway. so more flexibility and options than most pc games plus no batteries required or internet connection needed. 


This was the tough one, something we can bear to watch again and again, and not complain about for me that is the 1983 Canadian film ROCK and RULE.
A great little film with an incredible soundtrack, this is the kind of film you can watch over and over and still enjoy, and the music makes for excellent background noise, and it is a movie I would take a date to so I think Sarah Jane could at very least tolerate it more than say, 300, or Die Hard.

So that's My choices, we now return you to your previously scheduled nerd rage already in progress.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Marvels big (possible) reveal and why it scares the crap out of me!

with the upcoming marvel big event/crossover/cluster hump called age of Ultron, Marvel has put quite a lot of attention that the minor and relatively lame character of Angella, who first appeared in Spawn, but was created by the talented Mr Gaiman, wold become a part of the Marvel universe, which is either a big middle finger to Macfarlane who was at one point Marvel's golden boy who could do no wrong, but burned that bridge when he, Jim Lee, Rob Liefeld, and a few others left the big publisher, over the fact that the publishers held the rights to characters that they helped create. while there is a lot more to the backstory including Gaiman's beef and Lawsuit with Macfarlane, but that's a story for another time. what I am here to discuss is the theory that Angela's asymilation into the marvel verse is a smokescreen for a bigger change. A change that could bring one of the biggest Indy comic heroes into the Marvel fold. A fan favorite that could blow fans minds, in short, the coming of Marvel Man.

Or Miracle Man, if you prefer. Marvel recently did reprint many of the original Marvel Man stories form the 1950s, and with Gaiman working for them, this book could be a huge boon for Marvel. For those of you who don't know Marvelman/Miracle Man, allow me to explain. When the golden age of comics hit with action #1, every publisher got in the super hero game, and one of the biggest and most popular contenders was Captain Marvel (aka Shazam). For a while US publisher Fawcett, basked in the sales of a hero that eclipsed even Superman's popularity, but D.C. Lawyer end up, squashed Fawcett, and eventually bought the good captain, and his former company lock stock and Barrel, meanwhile Fawcett sold the rights to a UK publisher, to bring their hero to the Brits, but the lawsuit saw The UK affected as well and the up and comic disappeared from British news agents as well as ours. But the crafty publisher made a modified version, who was modeled to be different enough to not get a lawsuit, but like enough to entice fans who were deprived Earth's mightiest mortal. The comic was a hit in the UK, and once a young fan named Alan Moore, did a gritty reboot of Marvelman, it became a fan classic, reprinted by Eclipse here in the USA, it never finished due to Eclipse, going out of business.

So why does this worry me? After all,a fan favorite of the Indy scene can get recognition, fame, and even an action figure by hasbro to proudly display next to my Captain America, or Spider-Man, right? Well that's true, but it also means putting my faith that Marvel/Disney will respect what made Marvel Man as popular as he was. Also, considering how many Marvel fans start their "marvel is better" diatribe with comparing how shitty and overpowered Superman is, and then wax nostalgic about Marvel's more relatable stable of heroes, it is fascinating how much Marvel has a hardon for trying to ape the man of steel, Sentinal, Hyperion, the purchase of Prime and the rest of the Ultraverse from Malibu. Now we have a street cred Superman clone, to add, but how will this work as MM will be expected to fight along side, Deadpool, or Wolvereen? I just don't know, the history of a character like this has somewhat been written. It seems silly even flat out wrong to shoehorn him in to the current continuity of Marvel. How will this work, will they play with his origin to embed him squarely in the Marvel Universe? Was Marvel Man's origin now tied to the trying to recreate the experiment that made Steve Rogers Captain America, as Hulk's now seems to be? I kinda doubt they would just put him in his own book separate from the rest of the Marvel Universe, when a team up with him and the Fantastic four might sell a few more books.

What's more, the story of the Ultraverse is another reason this worries me. after Image came out, and caused quite a stir in the industry some fans realized it was all flash and no substance, (thankfully not true currently, with books like invincible!) and other companies wanted to make a flash too, indy comic maker Malibu started touring their own new stable of heroes, called the Ultraverse, fans were unenthused at the ads and the promises, bud We'd be damned if they didn't deliver. Fun fact, Prime's (their variant on the captain marvel theme) second book was worth a ton more than its first initially becasue malibu like all companies printed a bunch of #1's and didn't anticipate demand for #2 but fans were enthralled! Fun characters, great writing and well done stories even with crossovers, mad the Ultraverse a bit of a staple, then Marvel bought them, up and prettymuch mutliated them, they killed and revamped Mantra, turned Exiles into an X-title, and practically abandon most of the rest of the universe, except for poor Nightman who got bastardized into a bad Glen Larson syndicated TV Show. That being said they were killed mid stream, from popular to forgotten. and while they never quite hit the fame of Miracleman, it's still an example of buying out your foe, and stripping them for parts which seems even more heartless in a creative industry like comic books. Let's hope this isn't the fate of Marvelman!