Thursday, March 28, 2024

The Hammer Podcasts! - Religion - Part 1


I was recently joined by Captain Entropy to discuss our respective religious beliefs and outlooks. I think that it's a really interesting discussion, which can be found here:

And don't forget to join the conversation over on Discord:

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Begin Next Stage


As of this posting my life has been changed. Yesterday a judge signed divorce papers, ending my marriage of 21 years. Don't let that upset you, as this has been a long time in coming and, really, it's the best for everyone involved. My ex-wife has moved back with her mother and our fifteen year-old child is with me with a time sharing agreement in place.

Rather than worry about the past, I'm going to keep moving forward. Much like the Saturn 5 image above, I just look at this as the next stage of my life launching me further on an incredible journey. To quote the ending of my favorite movie:

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Much More Than A Three Hour Tour

I fell down a rabbit hole recently. Well, it was actually a foxhole, but more on that in a minute. Through a rather round about way (starting with a discord post with a couple of comics from Little Tales, reading it's entire archive, and then making my way from there) I discovered a web comic that has been around for 8 years now. It's called Isla Aukate and is written by Gen (of the previously mentioned Little Tales) and drawn by Fox (remember the foxhole gag?) and centers around islands of anthropomorphic animals that live on the Calendar Islands in the Pacific.

Comic Logo Copyright Foxtayls LLC

As of this writing, I am not only 100% current with the comic but I have also pledged my support on Patreon. This is one of the best web comics ... no, one of the best COMICS that I have read, and, as you know, I have read A LOT of comics. There are a few reasons that I say this.

First, is the art. I get a real Don Bluth feel from what Fox does with the art. The overall look, yes, but the expressions that she puts on the faces and the attention to detail is just amazing. The art is unfinished (if you're reading the sketch comic), but it is still great and you get everything you need. When she does long shots, like with the bar, it's just amazing. This lady makes her living as an artist and you can see why,

Secondly, we have the writing. This is some really in-depth stuff. All of the characters are three dimensional with good and bad points, as well as long histories. Add to that the overall history of the islands (They even thought about what the MONEY looks like and why!), and you have such a rich world that it feels very much like something Tolkien would come up with.

Oh, and just in case you think "They've got anthropomorphic animals, so it must be a funny animals comic", it isn't. There's murder, attempted murder, war, interspecies relationships, parental issues, etc, etc. It is very much a mature comic, and not in the "skimpy clothing and swearing" idea of mature, either. (Although the invented swears are great.)

Finally, is the ladies behind the comic. I have had limited interactions with them online, but they are both great people. They welcome new readers with open arms and welcome questions. Whether they give out answers is another thing 😉. (This is a comic that they try and make money on, after all, so spoilers will cost you.). You couldn't find two nicer people on the internet. The fact that Gen is my age, and gets my humor, is a bonus.

So, if you're looking for something to read that's outside the mainstream, but is WELL worth your time, look no further than OverlordComic.Com. Just be warned, once you start reading, you won't want to stop.

Thursday, December 10, 2020

The Polar Express Conductor

This past week we re-watched The Polar Express, as that's one of the movies/specials in our rotation, and I developed a theory about the conductor. As everyone who has seen the movie knows, Tom Hanks has a number of roles, including the Conductor and the Narrator. When he's playing the Hobo or Santa, Hanks changes his voice, but the Conductor and Narrator sound just like him. So does the Father, really, but that can also play into my theory.

While we were watching, I told Michelle & Kira to listen for how and when people mention the Conductor when he wasn't around. It turns out that this was pretty easy, as it's only twice. Both times the Know-It-All refers to the Conductor as "he" when talking to the Hero Boy. Those are the only two in the conversation when it happens, and no one else is listening in. The reason that we see and hear the Conductor as we do, is because we're privy to the Hero Boy's experiences and not someone else.

Now for my theory. It's my belief that the conductor appears to each child as themselves as an adult. That's why they tend to trust him and what he says. That would also explain why some kids, like the Know-It-All, are happy to receive praise from "him", when they normally wouldn't care. Of course, this raises more questions, like is this one of Scrooge's ghosts or something else? Regardless, I think that this adds a level to this movie that I'm not sure the producers intended when they made it.

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Re-Evaluating Frank Burns

Let's give you a situation. The two most popular kids in school, the guys that have all the girls wanting to date them and all the guys want to hang out with them, have someone they don't like. This guy has different ideals from them, keeps to himself, hangs out with his few friends, and if he's paid attention to in a positive light at all gets extremely giddy. Now the popular guys go out of their way to torment this loner, making fun of his attachment to his mother and his fascination with a topic that they think is stupid. They play pranks on him, both physical and psychological, for their own amusement. Yes, the loner does some things to deserve the treatment, but not to the extent that he receives it, and if the two popular guys would just be a little bit friendly to him, he probably would come around (somewhat) to their way to looking at things.

The popular guys are Hawkeye and Trapper. The Loner is Frank Burns.

I grew up with MASH in syndication, both out of New York and Philadelphia (one of the benefits of growing up at the Jersey Shore), so I've seen a lot of the show. Since the advent of MASHcast, hosted by Rob Kelly, I have been watching it in order for the first time. This has led me to re-evaluate one of the staple characters, Frank Burns as played by Larry Linville.

Frank is not a nice person, being openly racist and judgmental of others as well as a serial adulterer, but there's more to him. When MASH was in full comedy mode, Frank fit in perfectly as the inept villain, always scheming to get Henry Blake thrown out and take over the 4077. As the show progressed into more drama, so did the characters. Well, everyone but Frank. Frank stayed cartoonish and that, along with what we find out about him, led me to a conclusion. Frank Burns is the product of bullying, has some kind of mental illness, and is quite possibly on the Autism Spectrum.

We've seen Frank lash out and pretty much anyone and everyone, but when someone other than Margret acts towards him with kindness, he becomes a playful puppy dog. It's revealed that his mother had to send out 30 party invitations just to get 4 kids to show up to his birthday. Frank grew up without any friends and that had an effect on him. He latches on to ANY affection he gets, the main source on the show being Margret, and without that he's completely lost. When Margret dumps him, he's completely lost in a situation where he has no friends at all, and he loses his mind.

Frank may have gotten through medical school, but his mentality, as shown on the show, has always been one of a child. Like I said, in the beginning this was fine but as the show around him got more and more realistic all I could see was a little boy, excited to play army, that was constantly being picked on by the popular kids and beaten down by the authority figures. It takes away from my enjoyment of the show, to be honest. That's why, if I'm not watching to keep up with a podcast, I usually skip the Frank episodes. I much prefer Winchester as a foil, since he can be just as abrasive as Frank, but has the capacity to defend himself.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Our Star Blazers!

Today marks the 41st anniversary of Star Blazers beginning to air in the United States. I cannot overstate the effect that this show has had on my life. This is one of those shows that I discovered very early on, probably before I even started school, and I remember it distinctly. It was on very early on Saturday mornings, before any of the "regular" cartoons, and it was so different! I'm not just talking about the animation style, but like Flash Gordon from Filmation, it was a CONTINUED story. That blew my young mind.

It had some real threat level to it as well. As much as the American version is cleaned up (no bee people being turned into Royal Jelly, for example) it still had a lot of death and destruction. The whole story of Wildstar's family being killed with their whole city was something you just didn't see in kid's programming. This resulted in my liking continued stories from an early age, and is probably why I'm such a continuity nut today.

The show also started me down the long and winding road of Anime fandom, to the point where my daughter is now obsessed with a multitude of cartoons from Japan. Much like comic books, anime is a medium and not a genre. There's all kinds of stuff there, from the Space Opera that started it all (for me) to general slice-of-life shows that are solidly based in reality. Without Star Blazers, and Battle of the Planets, I doubt I would have ever found something that has given me so much joy, and has made me so many friends.

So Happy Anniversary to the crew of the Argo!

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Music Makes A Difference

Those that know me are aware that I am a Trekkie, having been exposed to Star Trek at an early age. My favorite movie is, in fact, Star Trek The Motion Picture, with its wonderful Jerry Goldsmith score. And that brings me to the point of this post, music in Star Trek movies.

It's no secret that my least favorite of the original cast movies (1 thru 6), is Star Trek 4: The Voyage Home. As I am currently nearing the end of a project where I read the movie novelization and then watch the film, I have seen Star Treks 4 & 5 very recently, and I can tell you that music is a big part, and I mean a BIG part, of why I put 4 so far down the list, even below the often lambasted Star Trek 5: The Final Frontier.

You see, the music in a movie either sets or enhances the mood. That, more than anything else, tells you what you are supposed to be feeling while watching the action. What happens in ST4, however, is the music undercuts any feeling of tension and makes it a goofy comedy. Beyond the opening theme sounding like a Hallmark Channel Christmas Movie, there are several points where the viewer could be on the edge of their seat, worrying if something bad was going to happen. The music, however, might as well be Yakety Sax for all the drama it conveys.

The worst example that I can think of is when Chekov is being chased after escaping custody on the aircraft carrier, There are several twists and turns and he ends up severely injured after a huge fall. This should be full of drama, with the audience not knowing whether or not he'll get away and then being shocked when he's hurt. Instead, it feels like he should be running next to Benny Hill.

That's not to say I dislike Leonard Rosenman's work. The man did a great job on Fantastic Voyage, Beneath The Planet of the Apes, and even Ralph Bakshi's Lord of the Rings. This time, though, I'm afraid that it was a dud.

On the other side of the coin, however, is Star Trek 5. Plagued by budget and special effects problems, I still much prefer to watch this movie than ST4, and there is one major reason for that: Jerry Goldsmith. That's right, the amazing composer from Star Trek The Motion Picture, who redefined what Star Trek music was supposed to sound like, came back for this movie. His use of music does everything it's supposed to, amplifying the mood so that some of the rough edges are glossed over.

If James Horner had agreed to return, and finish the trilogy, or Leonard Nimoy had gotten Goldsmith one movie earlier, I probably wouldn't have as big of a problem with ST4. As it stands, though, it's my least favorite of the first 6, by a wide margin.