Thursday, December 31, 2015

Dissecting Trailers

When the trailers for "The Force Awakens" and "Batman v Superman" came out, a lot of people, and I mean A LOT of people, would sit down and judge whether the movie was going to be good just from what they saw there.

"This character is going to suck because ..."

"They got that dead right because ..."

It's a trailer people! It's there simply to get you to buy tickets to the movie! There is no way that you can tell how good or bad the movie/character/writing/what-have/you is going to be just from the trailer. There simply isn't enough time for you to make that decision.

What you can do, 9 out of 10 times, is decide whether that particular movie is for you or not. Usually I'll see a trailer a decide whether I want to see it as soon as i feasibly can (pretty much any Marvel movie), wait for it to come out on DVD or TV (most films in my interest area), or avoid it all together (Star Trek: Beyond). That is simply based on the style or subject matter of the movie, not the perceived level of quality.

So, can we please, as the new year dawns, stop over analyzing 3-5 minute advertising snippets of films? Please?

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Thursday, December 24, 2015

Happy Holidays!

In honor of the day, I thought that I'd post my absolute favorite movie version of Charles Dickens's "A Christmas Carol". This version happens to star Alistair Sim, who does a wonderful job of showing Scrooge's transformation, but it also includes a scene that actually explains why Scrooge became a cold and cruel man. Unlike most adaptations that are not the equal of their originals, this is one of the few that actually surpasses it by adding that one detail.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Allow me to add the following, which I received after publishing my reading of the story last year:
Dear Gene,
I just wanted to compliment you on your excellent reading of the Dickens classic, "A Christmas Carol". I'm certain that many people of our vintage have seen the filmed version in various forms with various actors, from Patrick Stewart to Bill Murray, from Alastair Sim to George C. Scott (I'm intentionally omitting Jim Carrey as I would prefer to omit Jim Carrey from all things that tend to bring joy into the world). But I would wager that very few have ever fully read the story upon which these films were based, much less had it read in full to them in such an entertaining manner. Yes, there were times that Dickens got a bit wordy with the descriptions, especially the depictions of food, but to hear the story in its entirety showed how all of these movies took sometimes the basic idea of the tale and put only that on screen. Listening to you read this was a joy, and I commend you for being able to do it. Even with simple short stories, I myself had fumbles with words and what have you...but your's was a professional production. Too bad DiManzo has an alternative definition of "professional" for his employees as this most certainly won't garner a Christmas bonus.
I'm typing this early on the morning of Christmas eve, and I hope that you and your family have a joyous, blessed, and happy holiday season. Thank you so much for the show.
Shawn Engel
Shawn was a fellow podcaster who I had the great pleasure of getting to know over my time in the hobby. He died rather suddenly on December 16, 2015, at the too young age of 45. He was much, much too kind in the above e-mail, as he was in all of his life. The fact that he spent some of his last Christmas holiday listening to me drone on will be something that I'll never forget.

In his honor, I'm republishing the link to my reading of the original story.


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Thursday, December 17, 2015

My Life with Star Wars

I have never known a time without Star Wars. True, I was born a year and a half before it even came out in theaters, but I don't remember being 18 months old. What I do remember, though, are all those hours that I spent playing with the toys. Yes, back in the dark times, before home video, all I had to recreate the experience of seeing the movie was the toys. Oh, we had a VCR, one of those old top-loading jobs, but it was in the living room and I had to bow to the will of the family on what to watch. I got my TV time, but not anywhere near enough to watch Star Wars constantly.

Courtesy of
No, I played with the toys, both inside the house and outside, for hours on end. I don't remember much of the first time I got them for Christmas, beyond my dad actually letting me do some of the decals on the Millennium Falcon, and breaking the cockpit so that it would always pop off when it was opened, but I remember the adventures.

I remember using the space between the cargo mandibles on the Falcon to dock with the X-Wing when there was a water landing (on the floor of my bedroom). I remember having Luke use the Y-Wing instead the X-Wing because he could actually take R2 with him. I remember having this odd fascination with Han getting frozen in carbonite every time he fell off the end of the coffee table in the living room.

Star Wars was always there when I was a kid, and even when I moved past the toys I enjoyed the books and Role-Playing Game (maybe a little too much?), and I'd re-watch the films whenever I could. I enjoyed the prequels when they came out, but wasn't overly thrilled with them. I loved the Clone Wars micro-series but wasn't all that thrilled with the ongoing series.

Currently, we watch Star Wars Rebels as a family, and my daughter enjoys it no end. We're going to see the new movie, but definitely not on the day you're reading this, as I have to work tomorrow. I might nip out to see it on Friday, but that's up in the air. I've moved beyond the urge to see everything as soon as it opens, but I know I'll see it eventually. This is one movie that's not going away anytime soon, so I have time.

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Thursday, December 10, 2015

Games You Can Pause

Maybe I'm getting old, or maybe I'm just anti-social, but when I play a video game, I like it to have a "Pause" button. It's probably a function of when I grew up, where home gaming systems were, at most, a two player afair, and you had to be in the same room for that.

I think what it comes down to is that I don't want to be dependent on others, especially others I don't know, for my gaming experience. Oh, I've played World of Warcraft, Star Wars: The Old Republic, and Star Trek Online, but only with people that I know outside of the game. Any time I've played with a pick-up group, either I'm too inexperienced for them, or they just run around and do whatever.

So, I tend to play solo games that I can pause, get a drink, deal with whatever Kira wants at the moment, go to the bathroom, etc. Or, I'm playing a Lego game with Kira, which means that we actual figure out what we're going to do together. Of course, I'm also not stuck in the office playing on the computer, I'm out in the living room on the Playstation, which means that I have to be able to stop playing when the need arises, and that requires a non-persistent game world.

Now, if you will excuse me, I have to check on my Skyrim family.

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Thursday, December 3, 2015

Subtitle Change

You might be asking yourself about the title of this entry. Well, it's very simple. As of today, the subtitle of the blog is being changed from "The general and disconnected musings of you're average, late-thirties geek." The new subtitle, premiering when I get around to it, will be "The general and disconnected musings of you're average, middle-aged geek."

I'm sure you can do the math on your own.

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Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving Once Again

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Enjoy your toast, jelly beans, and popcorn!

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Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Race, She Is Done

Running AND smiling? Yup, I've lost my mind.
This past Saturday was "The Rocky Balboa Run" in Philadelphia. This was my first ever 5k race. Actually, it was my first ever race, period. Why I decided to do this is two-fold, really. First, the guys over at NeoZAZ were doing it, and it seemed like a great opportunity to actually meet them. It was fun meeting all the guys that I've heard on their podcasts, and even spoken to myself, but have never been face-to-face with.

The second reason is more important, and that's my health. I've lost a good amount of weight over the past two years, but with my family history of heart disease, I knew that I couldn't just lose weight and call it a day. No, I had to get the dreaded "exercise". Now I've tried doing stuff at home and it never stuck, and I know that going to a gym wouldn't work because I'd find an excuse to avoid it.

Running in a race, however, not only gave me a goal (that of not embarrassing myself) but it gave me a great way to work out. I started slow, only doing a mile and just walking. Eventually, though, I got up to regularly doing more than the 5k distance, and in a pretty decent time.

Now that I'm in the habit, I'm doing the training even with no race. I am looking into signing up for some other races, but nothing definite yet*. Still, if I can keep this up, I might just get into decent shape. Not a bad goal.

Oh, if you're curious as to how I did, here's the breakdown:

Distance:          3.1 Miles
Net Time:        33:14
Average Pace: 10:42 minutes/mile
Overall Place:  1271 out of 3107
Men's Rank:     729 out of 1348

For a first attempt at anything like this, ever, I'd say I did pretty well.

* If anyone is in the South Jersey area and would like to get involved in any races that I'm going to participate in, just let me know and I'll keep you in the loop.

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Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Artmor Project

Do you like Star Wars?
Are you free at 6 PM Eastern on Sunday, November 29th?
Do you want to help out Toys for Tots?

If you answered "Yes" to all of these, then might I suggest checking out this year's Artmor Project Auction. The Artmor Project was the brainchild of the guys over at NeoZAZ as a way to raise money for charity and to create some one of a kind pieces of art. They take blank Mandalorian chest armor (as worn by Boba Fett) and use that as their canvas, making some really striking art pieces. Just check out the image below for some of last year's creations.

Don't have the funds to bid on one of these pieces? I'm in the same boat, but you can always donate directly. Here's the link:

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Thursday, November 5, 2015

Imagination is a Terrible Thing to Waste

My friends on Facebook already have heard this, but I figured I'd put it out there to the wider world. As you know, my Aunt and Uncle have been rediscovering some of my old toys and sending them to me. After dealing with the flood of memories, I've been giving them to my daughter to play with, although I prefer that she does it when I'm around. (Daddy's privilege.)

The other day, we received a small package with my old Michael Knight figure in it, still in pretty decent shape. So, as usual, I gave it to Kira to play with. The problem is that she doesn't know who Michael Knight is, but she does know who Mike Rowe is, and loves his shows.

Since it was a "new" toy, she wanted to play with all of my old toys, so we got them out. Now I have the Hall of Justice, but no Super Powers figures, so she used the GI Joes in their place, using the Hot Wheels as their vehicles.

So we had, for what I'm sure is the first time ever, the call come from the Hall of Justice: "Mike Rowe! We need you!" This is what I call an imaginative kid, but what do you expect from someone that plays with My Little Pony and Snake Eyes at the same time?

So why am I telling you all this? Well, for the simple fact that kids today seem to have a lot of regimented play, mainly imposed by their parents. "No, you can't play with those two toys together" and "That's <character x>, you can't say it's <character y>" are phrases that should never be heard. I am always entertained by what Kira comes up with, because EVERYTHING she does has a story, and these are toys. They're meant to be played with, not put up on a shelf to gather dust.

So, let's get out of our kids' way when it comes to playing. Let them be kids and think up the craziest ideas for playing with their toys. It'll serve them better in the future.

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Thursday, October 29, 2015

Garfield Halloween

It's become a tradition for me to post videos around Halloween, so I'm going to keep that up. This one isn't a Disney one, unlike the previous three posts about this holiday. No, this one is the Garfield Halloween Special that we would watch every year as kids. I think it still holds up pretty well, and ends up being on the scary side, even with all the candy, candy, candy candy, candy.

It's a shame that we don't have any Halloween specials that have come out recently that have this kind of staying power. (Cue people in the comments proving me wrong.)

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Thursday, October 22, 2015

Interruptions In Service

As you know, my wife has been working for the first time in quite awhile. What you don't know is that she's also been having some issues with medications changing and various drug side-effects. As such, if I'm not working or taking care of our daughter, I'm taking care of her. So, you will no doubt have noticed a distinct lack of podcasts coming out.

"But you've been on Back to the Bins all month!" That's because I don't have to edit those. You see, for what you hear, it normally takes 3-4 times that to edit it. So a half hour episode could take up to 2 hours of work. I'm sorry, but I can't justify that kind of time investment when I have family issues. I feel bad about missing my schedule (which is on;y once a month anyway), but this is a hobby and family comes first.

I've got two episodes recorded, one for The Hammer Podcasts! and the other for Comic Book Fight Club, that need to be edited. I promise I'll get to that as soon as I can, but I'm not sure when that will be yet. Sorry, everyone, but I'm going to have to ask you to be patient.

The blog, on the other hand, is firing on all cylinders. I've actually got posts written for the next several weeks, so you're weekly does of geekiness will still be there every Thursday.

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Thursday, October 15, 2015

What If ... Star Trek: The Next Generation

As a dedicated listener of the podcast "Listen to the Prophets: A Star Trek Deep Space Nine Podcast", I have been re-watching Deep Space Nine so that I have some idea of what the hosts are talking about. In the first episode, we learn that Commander Sisko was at the infamous Battle of Wolf 359. That got me to thinking about the battle itself, or specifically the tail end where the Enterprise D comes in. This was detailed in the amazing two part episode, "The Best of Both Worlds", in which Picard is captured by The Borg and turned into Locutus. In the cliff hanger (which is responsible for all season ending cliff hangers on TV now-a-days), Riker issues the order to fire the new weapon that Commander Shelby has devised at the Borg cube. Spoiler: It doesn't work.

What if it did, though? What if, as intended, the weapon fired and destroyed the cube, killing Picard. We would then have an Enterprise D commanded by Captain William T. Riker. This two parter straddled the end of Season 3 and the beginning of Season 4 of the show, and marked a distinct turning point, for me, anyway, where the show really took off.

What would have happened to the remaining seasons if Riker had been the captain? Would he have settled down to be more of a Picard and had Shelby (the new First Officer) be more of the action hero? We see some of that in this episode, but I think that Riker would have become more Kirk-like than he was to begin with. He would probably have gotten much more directly involved that Picard had and, for better or worse, made more direct decisions without consulting the committee of officers.

This would also have effected Deep Space Nine in some way, since Picard was integral in convincing Sisko to stay there. I'm sure Riker could have delivered the same speech, but I don't know if it would have had the same impact. Of course, Sisko might not have been such the tortured soul as the person responsible for his wife's death would have been killed at the battle.

What do you guys think? Would TNG have been a better or worse show if we had Captain Riker?

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Thursday, October 8, 2015

What If ... The Muppets

I'm crossing the streams a bit here, as I did a Muppets post last week, and I have another What If post coming up next week, but this is the case where something got into my head and just kept nagging at me.

As I stated previously, I'm not a fan of the new premise of The Muppets on TV. How could it be improved? Well, what about a talent show? I know that "America's Got Talent" is an NBC show and not on ABC, but that's kind of the set-up I had in mind.

Picture this: Sicily, 1931 ... wait, sorry. Senior moment there. (And thank you to the two of you that laughed at that.)

Picture this: A nation-wide talent show hosted by Gonzo, who gets involved in some of the acts (much like Nick Cannon). The judges are Fozzie (the nice one), Piggy (the harsh one), and the celebrity guest of the week. Behind the scenes we have Kermit wrangling everything, and dealing with the various personalities in order to get the show running properly.

Statler and Waldorf would be in their standard box in the audience, Bobo would be security, Rizzo and Pepe would be in the booth directing things, and we could have various Muppets on camera. Rowlf and The Electric Mayhem would come out to provide musical accompaniment to some of the acts.

In this way we update The Muppet Show to modern day, but we also keep the variety acts that made up some of the best bits.

I expect I'll be seeing my contract as show runner for this new concept in the mail any day now.

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Thursday, October 1, 2015

The Muppets - A Reaction

As I write this, we have seen the first episode of the new Muppets TV show. You all heard what Michelle and I were hoping for before sitting down and watching it, but we just couldn't get a time to sit down and record a reaction, so I'm going to do that here. That reaction is, overall, disappointment.

One of my big problems with Muppets Tonight was that it was a little too disjointed. Where as The Muppet Show had an overall theme for each episode, beyond the guest star, Muppets tonight was just a bunch of sketches strung together, held together only by the guest star. This show is the complete opposite of that. There are no sketches, at all. It's just one big plot, broken up by the "reality show interview" segments. It's like they looked at The Muppet Show and threw out everything that worked.

It's not a horrible show, to me at least, so I'm going to give it some time to find it's feet and see what happens. If I drop watching it, I won't be surprised, though. It's just disappointing that they took all the potential they had after The Muppets and wasted it with ... this.

For another perspective, check out the Instant Reaction episode on Muppets In Character.

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Thursday, September 24, 2015

Filmation's Flash Gordon

One of the benefit of my wife working (beyond the obvious monetary gain) is that I get to expose our daughter to geeky properties that we wouldn't necessarily watch as a family. Such was the case the other night when we watched the 1980 Flash Gordon movie. While I love that movie, mainly for the fact that it is a love letter to the old Buster Crabbe serials and the music, that's not what we're going to talk about here.

No, for this we're going to go back to the Filmation cartoon series, which I remember watching as a kid. While this does have all the hallmarks of being a Filmation production, namely stock music, repeated animations, simple lines, etc, I still think it works really well. Yes, there's a good deal of rotoscoping, mainly of the spacecraft, but that adds to the feel of the series.

It's quite a long series, going over 32 episodes, but it captures the feel of the serials, with each episode ending on a "how will they survive this?" cliff-hanger. Add to that the fact that we get to see races of Mongo that wouldn't be practical in a live action venue and we have a really enjoyable cartoon.

Luckily, my daughter agrees, as we watched the first few episodes after the movie, and have continued on every now and again. If you're interested in watching it, there are a few ways to do that. We're watching it on Hulu, but it is also available on DVD.

Do yourself a favor, though, and watch the compilation movie "The Greatest Adventure of All", as you get to see just how Flash, Dale, and Zarkov got to Mongo in the first place. Yes, there's some stuff repeated from the series, but it's well worth your time, in my opinion.

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Thursday, September 17, 2015

Changing Characters

Allow me to say, right here at the beginning, that I'm going to be talking about some stuff that might get you riled up. If you'd rather skip this post, I won't be offended.

What's so controversial? Well, I'm going to be giving my opinion on changing established characters, specifically comic book characters, with regard to race/gender/sexual orientation.

Before I get too far into this, let me acknowledge something. I'm a middle-aged, white, male, so I am aware that I have all the privilege that can be had. I hope to come at this topic without too much bias in  that regard, but I wanted to put it out there right at the start. Now, on with the show.

Let me say that, in concept, I don't have a problem with taking a character that was portrayed one way originally and then changing an aspect of that character later on, but I need you to have a good reason for doing so. I'll give you some examples of what I'm talking about.

Iris West, the love interest of Barry Allen, better known as The Flash, was first introduced in the now famous Showcase #4 (1956). In this story, and for the remainder of her comic appearances Pre- and Post-Crisis, she was depicted as a white female. Fast forward to 2014 where the TV pilot for The Flash was filmed. Here both Iris and her father, Detective Joe West, were cast as African-American.

There is really no problem here as this is a new version of all the character and we get to see Candice Patton and the great Jesse L. Martin in these roles. So, we have a valid interpretation of the characters, paying homage to the source material, being played by very good actors. Nope, no problems at all.

Let's move from DC to Marvel and talk about Heimdall. As those of you that have been
reading/listening to my stuff are aware, I'm a Heathen, which means that I worship the Norse Gods. So, you might think that I would have a problem with "The White God" being played by a black man. Well, you'd be wrong. First of all, these are the Marvel Comics versions of the characters, which means that they aren't my Gods. Secondly, we had Idris Elba give an outstanding performance as the Guardian of the Rainbow Bridge.

Again, we have a new interpretation of the character and his race didn't effect anything with regard to the story, plus we had a great actor playing the part. No problems here, either.

Staying with Marvel, let's talk about something that I do have a problem with. In the recent Fant4stic (how do you pronounce that, BTW?) movie, the originally white Johnny Storm was played by Michael B. Jordan, a black man. While I have not seen the movie, everything I've heard states that he did a great job in the role.

So, why do I have a problem here? Well, it's not so much with his character, but more with the now changed relationship with his sister. You see, they decided to keep Sue as a white woman and make her adopted. Now, if they had done something with that plot, I wouldn't have a problem, but they seem to just say that's the case and drop it. What I would rather they have done is make Sue black as well, and then deal with the interracial relationship between her and Reed. So my problem here isn't that Johnny was black, but that Sue wasn't with no real need for it to be that way.

For the final example, I'm going to go back to DC. Here we have Alan Scott, the original Green Lantern from the Golden Age. When DC decided to scrap everything (except for Batman and Hal Jordan's Green Lantern) in favor of the New 52, they brought back the concept of Earth 2. Here we had a young Jay Garrick as The Flash and Alan Scott as Green Lantern. However, in this version, Alan was a homosexual.

Again, this is a new take on an old character, so I shouldn't have a problem with the change. I do, though, because of the ramifications of this choice. You see, Alan Scott is the father of two other characters, Jade and Obsidian, who are quite good characters in their own right. In fact, Obsidian is a gay man, which was used quite well to, you'll forgive the pun, shine a light on the topic Pre-New 52.

So, while I have no problem, in theory, of Alan being gay, I don't like that it was apparently not thought out and, therefore, seems to be more of a marketing thing than writing. Now, if he had been closeted, fathered the children, and then came out to everyone, THAT I could get behind. But, as with many decisions by comic companies recently, the long term was not considered.

So, what do you think? Am I off my rocker? Am I a closet racist/homophobe because I can't get behind all the changes? I'd really like to hear your opinions on the subject.

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Thursday, September 10, 2015

On A Personal Note

I have apparently completely lost my mind. You see, the guys over at NeoZAZ have decided to take part in the Rocky Run this November. As I've been wanting to meet the guys, get in better shape, and the possibility of walking the 5k exists, I decided to sign up and participate on team NeoZAZ Stallions. As they're looking for a pace of at least 15 minutes per mile, and I have not done any kind of decent exercise in my weight loss, I figured that I needed to start training. So, now I'm walking at least a mile a day at lunchtime, and doing it at a very brisk pace. I mean, if I'm going to do this, I might as well push myself, right? Which means that, as I type this, I'm sitting here getting my breath back after walking 1.1 miles in 14.5 minutes. Not too shabby.

On another, yet still personal, note, those that follow my stuff on Facebook and Google Plus know that my wife has recently gotten a job after a very long search. While this is wonderful news for us, it does mean that I'm going to need to watch our daughter while she's working. So, my podcast editing time has been a bit curtailed, since if I'm spending time with my daughter, I'm not going to do it attached to a computer. Please keep that in mind if you see a bit of an erratic posting schedule for my shows.

Not to sound mercenary or anything, but if you want to guarantee a more regular schedule on podcasts, then you should head on over to my Patreon page (see below) and pledge a buck or two every month. Like most people, things that I'm getting paid to do take on a higher priority.

Like what I'm doing here on the blog and podcast? Why not check out my Patreon Page to see how you can help me do more?

Thursday, September 3, 2015

What If ... Star Wars Prequels

In another "What If..." musing, I was thinking about the Star Wars prequels, also known as Episodes 1 thru 3. Now, while I don't hate these films, I'm not a huge fan of them, so I was thinking about how they might be improved. What if, as the original Star Wars was the hero's journey, the prequels took their inspiration from the legends of King Arthur? Let me break it down by character.

Obi-Wan Kenobi = King Arthur: A wise and generous person, who also happens to be a very effective warrior. His one failing, though, is that he can't see what's right under his nose. His best friend is betraying him, but he can't see it until it's too late.

Yoda = Merlin: The voice of reason and prophesy that, when listened to, can save everyone, but when ignored, the other characters sew the seeds of their own destruction. A very powerful person, but also very unwilling to use that power unless absolutely necessary.

Anakin = Lancelot: A young prodigy that comes to learn the ways of the larger universe, but frequently goes off on his own. Very powerful, but also very head strong. He knows the right thing to do, and often does it, but his own personal desires lead to his downfall.

Padme = Guinevere: A beautiful Queen who tries to use her position to turn the thoughts of her subjects away from war and towards love. She is fascinated by the young Knight that has come to her realm and falls in love with him. She resists her own impulses for as long as possible, but eventually they both give in, leading to the Knight's fall from grace.

Luke = Galahad: Son of the fallen Knight who has all of his skill and daring, but is able to resist the temptations that caused his father's fall. He is responsible for finally eliminating the evil that the other Knights could not.

Palpatine = Mordred: Initially a young mover and shaker, some revelation makes him decide that the current system is broken and that he is the one to fix it. Giving into his dark desires, he gains followers and power, eventually toppling the bright and hopeful establishment from within.

Obviously I could go on into the other Knights of the Round Table / Jedi Knights, but I think you get the point. I think we could have had a much better set of movies if we had this as the underlying current rather than the political/taxation intrigue that we did.

What do you think? Am I going too far out on a limb here?

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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Secret Origins

One of my favorite things about reading comics is origin stories, especially for characters that I knew about but haven't read much of. That's why the Secret Origins comics were some that I loved to find in the back issue bins. This series gave the origin of two different heroes per issue, with different writing and art teams depending on which character was being covered.

This gave me a way to learn about who certain characters were, and where they came from, in those dark days before the internet. No, not all of the issues were good, but some were down right great. Regardless of the quality, it was a terrific place to get this kind of info, and lead me to seek out some comics that I might not have, otherwise.

For a great look back at these issues, I can't recommend the Secret Origins Podcast, hosted by Ryan Daly, enough. In each episode, you get a look back at an issue with a different guest host for each character. And you might just be hearing me on there fairly soon. Maybe concerning a certain green-cloaked figure in the image here. But you never can tell.

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Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Archaeology of Childhood

The Hall of Justice, prominently displayed in our office at home.
As many of my Facebook friends know, I was recently blessed by having several toys of my childhood returned to me by the Uncle and Aunt. Among these toys was my Super Powers Hall of Justice, which seems to be mostly complete. Heck, it even still has the Batman file card in the "On Duty" slot. This lead me to a flood of memories. Playing not only with my Super Powers figures, but also with my GI Joes and Hot Wheels/Matchbox cars (which were also included in the bag).

I think it's fascinating how there are things that I know that I owned at some point, but until it's actually in my hands, there are things that I don't remember about it. It's the same phenomenon that people get with smells or sounds that trigger memories. For me, it seems, those senses are sight and touch, but they have to be together. I've seen pictures of the Hall of Justice, and fairly recently, but I didn't remember the adventures that Superman, Batman, and Robin (Yes, my figures were the World's Finest Team) went on until it was on my coffee table and I was putting it back together.

Of course, since I believe that toys are meant to be played with, I've pretty much passed these on to my daughter. I would like to make sure I watch her play with them, just so they don't get destroyed, but I'm not going to leave them up on the shelf all the time. In fact, here's a video of Kira and I going over the Hall of Justice. Enjoy!

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Thursday, August 13, 2015

Legacy Heroes

One of the big things at DC Comics in the late 80's/early 90's was the concept of the Legacy Hero. With the result of "Crisis on Infinite Earths" being that everything occurred on one Earth in one timeline, you couldn't have alternate versions of the characters running around. Obviously all the Supermans became Superman and all the Batmans became Batman, because they were all Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne, respectfully, no matter what universe they were in.

But what about Green Lantern, The Flash, and others like them? You know, different people that used the same superhero name? Well, that's where the Legacy Hero comes in. In the Post-Crisis universe, Jay Garrick was still The Flash in the 1940's, but he was succeeded by Barry Allen, who was then succeeded by Wally West.

The implication here is that you can have heroes that grow too old to continue on, or even die in the line of duty, and then have that name live on with a new hero. I think that's brilliant and I had hopped that we'd see the eventual aging of the main characters, but that was not to happen. Well, it did happen when handled by John Bryne in his Generations mini-series.

Unfortunately, the current administration of DC has scrapped all of that, along with what made DC unique, in favor of overpriced books and a "dark and gritty" feel. Not to mention that they have also decided that the "iconic" heroes HAVE to be the ones featured, so they undid A LOT of good storytelling in order to get Hal Jordan and Barry Allen back. Good thing I'm only reading the old stuff these days, or it might upset me.

Why did that make DC unique, you may ask? Well, Marvel has always been a "status quo" kind of universe. No matter what happened, Steve Rogers always went back to being Captain America, Tony Stark always went back to being Iron Man, The Fantastic Four were always going to be Reed, Sue, Johnny, and Ben. They went with the "illusion of change" way too much. Not that I don't enjoy those stories, but I'm on record as wanting Peter Parker to grow the heck up already.

Now, however, there are umpteen Hulks, twenty Avengers teams, etc. Again, if I wasn't already priced out of the market, I might get upset over that.

It all boils down to that I like progression in my stories, be they four color or not, and going back to the same well continually just gets really boring after awhile.

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Thursday, August 6, 2015

Cartoon TV Themes

As I'm sure you're already aware, I released an episode of The Hammer Podcasts! on my favorite Cartoon TV Themes. If you haven't heard it yet, you can find it here. And, for your enjoyment, below I have the videos for all the themes I talked about.

As I limited myself to 9 this time out, I thought I'd post a few that didn't quite make the cut. In no particular order, here they are.

I know there are a bunch that didn't make the cut, even with the runners up, but I'd like to hear your opinions. What did you think of my list? Should I have put swapped something out? Let me know either in the comments here or drop an e-mail to

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Thursday, July 30, 2015

Why SDCC Doesn't Excite Me

There are a few reasons that I really don't care about what happens at San Diego Comic Con (SDCC) doesn't hold much meaning for me. First of all, I'm not reading any current comics, so hearing all about these panels and such where the latest news on comics titles break really doesn't appeal to me. It's great that people are excited for the new Bunnyman ... sorry, I mean Batman, but they lost me with that character a long time ago, and DC just keeps reinforcing that.

Second, while the name is "Comic Con", it's really more about all media. Oh, I watch these movies & TV shows, but if I watch them anyway, I don't care about reveals outside of the show. Much like Andy Leyland of Hey Kids, Comics!, if I've already made up my mind to see something, seeing trailers is probably going to spoil more of it for me than add to my excitement. Heck, I'm the guy that stops watching when the TV show says "Next Time on ...", because I plan on watching it next week, so I'll see it during that episode.

Lastly, and this is from an actually visiting there point of view, I'm not huge on crowds. It's not that I have a fear of them, I just get annoyed when I want to get from Point A to Point B and the people in front of me decide to stop in the middle of everything and point over somewhere. In a place like Walt Disney World, that is unavoidable, kind of like strollers, but at least there the good far outweighs the bad. At SDCC, I would be annoyed at trying to get somewhere to hear news that I didn't care about.

Take all of that and add to it the time and expense to get to San Diego, or just the time to watch the videos, etc, and I can honestly say that I really don't care about SDCC. Much like Major League Baseball, for which I also have no interest anymore, I prefer the smaller conventions. You know, ones that I can actually buy comics at. Or at least the ones that have an identity and don't try to be the end all, be all of every possible media type & genre.

OK, rant over. Now get off my lawn!

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Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Siege of Lothal

Our family finally got around to watching the Star Wars: Rebels between seasons movie, "The Siege of Lothal" a little while ago. The reason it was delayed was due to the fact that we do, in fact, watch Rebels as a family, so we all have to be in the mood to take the time. (That's never a problem for me, as I'm always in the mood for good Star Wars, but the other two need some convincing now and then.)

Below there are spoilers, so be warned. Also, a lot of what I'm going to say was echoed by Ryan Daly over on "Dead Bothan Spies", but I would still recommend listening to his episode on this movie. And, while you're at it, why not listen to the whole shebang? He's got a great show going on over there and I enjoy listening.

So, what did I take away from this movie? First off, both my wife and I had chills when we heard James Earl Jones as Darth Vader. He's still able to be menacing with only his voice.

Speaking of Vader, we all had a "Holy Crap!" moment at the end of season one, when Vader appeared to take care of the Rebels. This movie definitely pays that moment off. From Vader taking on two (OK, really one and a half) Jedi at once, to Vader in his TIE Advanced taking on a Rebel Fleet, and WINNING! Darth Vader show just how much of a bad ass he is in this movie and he succeeds in driving the Rebels off of Lothal, through a combination of his own efforts as well as making the public turn against our heroes by framing them for the death of the Imperial Minister.

I think that's the most important point of this, really. Vader wins. The Rebels are out classed and they know it. If Vader was to be defeated here, it would take all the menace out of him for the movie. What this does, though, is show just how competent he is, which makes Luke holding his own against him all the more incredible.

Something else that happened was that Vader and Ahsoka felt each other's presense through the Force. Vader is made aware that his, or as he says Skywalker's, former apprentice is still alive. What Ahsoka knows is left unsaid. She either was shocked by the amount of evil in Vader, or she recognized Anakin's mind. Either way, she's now got a mission of her own, and it involves Vader.

A side effect of watching this is now we have gone back and started watching The Clone Wars, which we had seen for awhile but then dropped it. Since Rebels builds on that, I think we're going to try and catch up on the old episodes.

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Thursday, July 16, 2015

Some Changes
You might notice a few changes around the blog, some cosmetic, some not. First of all, I've changed the layout around a bit, getting rid of some things and adding others. Nothing too earth shattering, though, just trying to streamline things.

The big change, however, is that I'm now on Patreon. What does this mean? Well, quite simply, I'm trying to shake you down for money. Why would I turn this friendship we've built into a buisiness relationship? Why would I throw your trust away? Mainly, to try out some new stuff. No, this blog and the associated podcast aren't that expensive to do, but they do cost money. Hosting fees, owning the URL, computer & recording equipment, etc.

So, before I try branching out into new things, I want to get some funds together. If you've enjoyed what I've done here, I would appreciate it if you could give my Patreon page a look. I have a few milestones out there, some of which I think are achievable, and you'll get rewarded for your donations every month.

Thank you for your support.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Daredevil - Late Thoughts

I suppose you're wondering about the title of this post. Well, due to it's nature, I refused to watch the Netflix Daredevil show if my daughter was in the house. It wasn't even something I was willing to pause if she came by, I didn't want her exposed to it at all. So, it wasn't until recently that I was able to finish watching it.

I'm not a huge Daredevil fan. Oh, I had some comics when I was growing up, and I enjoyed his appearances in other titles, but I just never "got" the character. I have come to appreciate Daredevil in no small part thanks to Dave's Daredevil Podcast, but it wasn't until I sat and watched this show that I felt like I knew the character.

Putting aside the fact that I haven't seen a performance by Scott Glenn or Vincent D'Onofrio that I didn't like, I thought everyone in this show did a great job. All of the characters are fully fleshed out with backstories that inform their actions. No, we don't get to see all of these, but it's obvious that they are there, and that's just darn good writing. Each actor seems to relish sinking their teeth into the roles and enjoy being in a street level superhero show, which gives me hope for the rest of the Marvel/Netflix shows due to come out.

One problem I had was with the cinematography, mainly the lighting. OK, I get that the main character is a blind guy that fights crime at night, mainly in a black suit. However, I would still like to actually see what's going on. It seemed like this got better as the series progressed, but it was never good enough, in my mind. When you have the camera focusing on a sign, but that sign isn't lit enough to where I could actually read it, then you have failed as a visual storyteller.

That being said, and as annoying as it was, this show was really well done and I'm looking forward to the next season. Hopefully we'll see some crossover of events, other than just an occasional line of dialog, with the Marvel movies and Agents of SHIELD. I don't see it being high on their priority list, but I can dream, can't I?

Thursday, July 2, 2015

TIE Fighter

Not much to say here, except that I would watch the hel out of a full length movie, or even a series, done by this guy.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

"Educational" Cartoons

It's no secret that TV standards were relaxed in the 1980's and as long as your cartoon has some (read: not very much at all) educational value, then it could basically be a 30 minute toy commercial. Some, like GI Joe, have become famous for this added bit at the end. Now I learned a lot from GI Joe's "And knowing is half the battle" PSA's, but the one that really intrigued me were the ones at the end of Silverhawks. You see, Silverhawks was a cartoon based in outer space and the stuff at the end was all about our solar system. As a kid who built a modular lego space ship and bullied my parents into sending pictures of it to President Reagan (yeah, I was THAT kid), you might say that this was aimed right at me.

The premise was that each video was a quiz that Blue Grass, the pilot, was teaching The Copper Kid, the youngest member, to navigate in space. Yes, they were pretty basic questions, but I thought they were lightyears ahead of the other stuff out there. Check out a couple of them below.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Changing My Mind

You know, if you've read my stuff here, that I tend to be old fashioned. The whole "dating website" thing doesn't compute, for example. If you had told me a few years ago that I would drive to Long Island immediately after work on a Friday to spend the weekend with a bunch of guys that I met on the internet, I would have probably blown a gasket from laughing too much.

This was taken just before we went to a diner for what I dubbed "The Mickey Mouse Breakfast Club"

That's exactly what happened last weekend, though. I was lucky enough to be able to go up and meet up with, and in some cases meet in person for the first time, some great guys from Two True Freaks. Not just Scott Gardner and Chris Honeywell, who started it all, but also Dr. Bill Robinson who I do a show with (Anime Freaks), Chris Tyler, who is a frequent guest on Comic Book Fight Club but also part of the Vault of Startling Monster Horror Tales of Terror, and Paul Spataro of Back to the Bins

Not to mention Dave Weter from Dave's Daredevil Podcast, Ron Sadowski from Dinner 4 Geeks, Tim Elliott from Third Degree Byrne (coming soon!), & David Pascarella, who I've never actually spoken to!

I had an amazing time and, as Mr. Weter said at some point, it was like we knew each other for decades, even though some of us had never even traded an e-mail back and forth. It was a odd feeling, and one that I never would have guessed would have been possible.

Regardless, we are strangers no longer, because anyone who shares the experience of doing an "Amok Time" parody with the cast of Rocky III are truly brothers from that moment on.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

What If ... Star Wars

For some odd reason, I've been thinking a lot about possibilities and roads not taken, specifically with respect to Star Wars. Now I'm not going to sit here and say that George Lucas did it wrong. It's his universe and he was allowed to do what he wanted. No, I'm just fascinated by what might have been.

The main thing I've been thinking of is the ending to Marvel Star Wars Annual #1, in which we are told that the original owner of Luke's Lightsaber came to the planet they are visiting with Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader. The inference is that it was Luke's father along with his fellow student that was there. There have been attempts at retcons that said this was another Jedi that Vader/Skywalker switched his lightsaber with in some ceremony, since the comic came out before "The Empire Strikes Back."

What if, though, Empire never happened? What if we took this story as it was? We had already seem Obi-Wan as a warrior in Star Wars #24 (see image to the right). This fits in much better with the "guardians of peace and justice" that we thought Jedi were supposed to be. No desert robed priest, but a man of action that was dressed for it. In fact, if you look at this image and change the white to black, it's really close to Luke's costume in "The Return of the Jedi."

So, what would be different? Well, first off, there wouldn't be a "certain point of view." Vader would have killed Skywalker and Ben would have been telling the truth. Yes, this would have made Vader a less personal villain, but if he was Anakin Skywalker's best friend, wouldn't that have made the betrayal even more painful? Luke could have still tried to turn Vader back from the Dark Side, in order to try and redeem his father's friend. Or he could have tried to take revenge, and gone down the dark path himself.

I know that there were the Star Wars Infinities books, but they focused on a minor change and what repercussions that would have. What I'm talking about is scrapping Empire and everything after it and asking what would have happened if all we had were "Star Wars", the movie novelization, "Splinter of the Mind's Eye", and the Marvel comics up to that point?

Oh, I have no intention of writing anything story-wise on this, it's just something that has been rolling around in my brain and I thought I'd share it as an exercise in imagination. If you have any thoughts on this, please let me know. I'd love to hear them.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Confessions of a Nitpicking Nerd

John Byrne spoiled me. Oh, I saw the Christopher Reeve movies long before I read any Superman comics, but the Byrne version, later taken over by Stern/Ordway/Jurgens/et al, is my preferred version of the character. So, when you have a great trailer for Supergirl (see below) that thrills me in every way a comic fan should be thrilled, I still have my teeth set on edge when I hear "Oh, it's not an S, it's our family crest."

I'm sorry, I know what they're going for, but you really want me to believe that the emblem of Superman and Supergirl just happens to be an alien symbol that looks precisely like the English letter that starts their names? Nope. I'm not buying it. It was one thing in the movie to make it a short cut, so you knew that was Superman's dad, but bringing it over into every single version since then is a bit of a stretch,

Yes, I know there are some people that don't like the "Jonathan and Clark came up with the symbol after Lois named him" idea, but that just makes so much more sense to me than the utter coincidence that it would take for the Kryptonian emblem to look like an S.

I love everything else about the trailer, but that bit does the same thing to me that mispronouncing R'as does. (BTW, CBS, Kara rhymes with Sarah.)

For more on the CBS Supergirl, check out Supergirl Radio. It's a great podcast covering all aspects of Supergirl, but focusing on the TV Show.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Informative TV Intros

Something that came out of my guest spot on the Fire & Water Podcast (#fwpodcast) was Shag going completely overboard on posting TV Intros on their Tumblr Page. This lead to me waxing nostalgic (shocking, I know) on TV intros that actually set up the viewer to know what the premise was. You see, back before DVR's, Netflix, and Binge Watching, TV shows never knew if their viewers were around for the previous episode. The intro was a way for viewers to be brought up to speed on what the show was all about, and also give us a cool way of seeing the opening credits. Here are a few of my favorite examples of this lost art.

The Incredible Hulk

Knight Rider

Star Trek (The Animated Series)*

Quantum Leap

Battlestar Galactica

Street Hawk

* Yes, I know it's the same as the original, but I happen to love the animated version.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Conway's Corner Podcast Crossover

I was lucky enough to be asked to join the Conway's Corner Podcast Crossover (#ConwayXover), organized by Michael Bradley. This crossover has two goals. The first is to make sure that everyone knows that creators should be paid for their characters appearing in media other than comics. You can read all of Gerry's thoughts on the subject on his Tumblr site.

The second goal would be to highlight the work of Gerry Conway himself. Gerry is an amazing writer and has been working on comics a good while. While most know him as the creator of Firestorm and Killer Croc, as well as the man who wrote the story in which Gwen Stacy died, he also worked on characters such as The Mighty Thor, who is near and dear to my heart.

Here's a list of all the participants in this event:

Superman & Batman Podcast - Michael Bradley w/guest Aaron Moss  - Superman/Batman teamup from World's Finest #269, plus the Conway-written Red Tornado story from the same issue.

Fire & Water Podcast (Rob Kelly and Irredeemable Shag)
Episode 125 - Gerry Conway Interview on Creator Equity

Flowers & Fishnets (Ryan Daly) - Episode 11 covering Black Canary and Green Arrow stories from World’s Finest #245. 

SuperMates - (Chris & Cindy Franklin) - w/ Kyle Benning, Superman Family 186-187.

From Kid to Flash (Mythmaking ETC) (Chris Ivey) - 

The Hammer Podcasts! (Gene Hendricks) - Episode 12 covering Thor 224,

Quarter Bin Podcast (Alan Middleton) - JLA #188,released Tues 5/19.

Between The Pages Blog (Karen Williams) - The Sweet Superhero Stories of Gerry Conway.

Vault Of Startling Monster Horror Tales Of Terror (Shawn Engel) - Tomb of Dracula

Comic Book Time Machine (Ben Avery) - Superman/Spider-man and (maybe) the unofficial crossover in Amazing Fantasy, Justice League, and Thor, Amazing Adventure 16, JLA 103, and Thor 207

Task Force X (Aaron “Head” Moss) - Episode 10 - Action Comics #521. Available at 

Head Speaks (Aaron “Head” Moss) - Episode 11 - Covering Firestorm #1-2,  Available at Normally Head Speaks often uses language not suited for the entire family.  Younger viewers are normally discouraged.

LanternCast (Chad Bokelman and Mark Marble) - Episode #220 - The Collaborative Conway Crossover Caper!

Pop Culture Affidavit (Tom Panarese) -- Cinder and Ashe #1-4.

King-Size Comics Giant-Size Fun (Kyle Benning) -
w/ Rob Kelly, DC Special Series #1, a Dollar Comics Issue that features a Conway penned Aquaman story.

Hey Kids, Comics! (Andy and Micheal Leyland) - Covering AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #128.

Superman Forever Radio (Bob Fisher)

I'll try and update the links as the episodes are released.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

AC Boardwalk Con!

If you're reading this on the day it posts, I'll be at AC Boardwalk Con doing some table set-up. If you're in the Atlantic City, NJ area, why not come on down this weekend and say "Hi"? Two True Freaks will be at Table 1910 in the Creator's area of the con.

Don't forget to check out our Facebook Event for any of the latest happenings!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

RIP Nigel Terry

Most people would probably expect me to write something on the passing of Grace Lee Whitney, being the huge Star Trek fan that I am. I have seen many fine posts about her already, so I will leave that topic to others.

I would like to say a few words about Nigel Terry, however, who is in two of my favorite movies of all time, "Excalibur", along with Nicol Williamson, and "A Lion in Winter".

In "A Lion in Winter", Terry played Prince John. Yes, the same one that was set against Robin Hood, but also the same man who signed the Magna Carta. In this movie, though, JOhn is the youngest of King Henry II's three surviving sons, and is a self-serving coward. Terry does a great job showing the gears turning in John's mind.

His more famous role, though, is as King Arthur in Excalibur. This is the best portrayal, bar none, of the most famous king in the world, and that falls squarely in the shoulders of Terry. He has to play the character at various stages of life. We first see him when he' 18, and Sir Kay's squire. Next, he's in his late twenties, when he fights Lancelot. This continues all the way up to his old age, which I'm going to say is late 60's/early 70's, when he is mortally wounded at the end of the film. The fact that he pulls it off, and that you believe him at each stage, is incredible.

He has had many other parts over the years, including guest starring in Doctor Who, but these are the two that I will always remember him for.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Playing Games with Kids

When I posted the picture of my daughter, Kira, playing the Marvel Superheroes RPG earlier this week, it generated a lot more feedback that I thought it would, all of it positive. That got me to thinking about playing games, specifically Role-Playing Games with kids. Just to warn you, I am going to be covering a good amount of ground that Shag and I did on an episode of The Hammer Podcasts!, but I think it's worth it.

First of all, playing games, of any stripe, is a great way for families to come together. Much like our house rules against video games or cell phones/tablets being prohibited during the week, this is a way for all of us to interact. In fact, we just played Uno last night, so any kind of game will do. I highly encourage setting up a family game night for your kids.

I like the idea of Role-Playing games for several reasons, though. Mainly it's the use of imagination. As we get further down the technology road, kids are required to use their own innate imaginations less and less. Everything is just shown to them on the screen, whether from TV or video games, and there are fewer blanks for them to fill in. By playing a pen and paper RPG, however, they have to try and picture what's happening in their head, as well as think about what to do.

Which brings me to my next point, critical thinking. There are always limitations in any kind of video game, not matter how open world it actually is. That's just a fact of their programming. Either the code says you can do this or not. Games like Marvel Superheroes allow for solutions of many different types, which also means that the players much think about the choices and decide what is the best option for all concerned. Kira, at one point, chose to fire a gas capsule at the Scorpion and a Thug, knocking out the Thug without her throwing a punch. Personally, I think that was a great idea, and I told her so.

Finally, there's the issue of math. Every RPG involves some kind of math, We're not talking calculus here, just simple addition and subtraction. Considering I'm dealing with a first grader, that's perfectly appropriate and I hope it reinforces what she's being taught in school. (Of course, I'm teaching her the way I learned, with hundreds, tens, and ones columns, so maybe not.)

What this all boils down to, in my mind anyway, is that there are far fewer things more rewarding than seeing the smile on my daughter's face when she wins the encounter by roundhouse kicking the bad guy in the face. You can bet we're going to be playing again, and maybe we'll roll her up her own character this time.

UPDATE: We sat down the other day and Kira rolled up The Hedgehog, a mutant with Weather Control, Emotion Sensing, and Projectile Quills, along with Am (50) Strength!