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Thursday, July 12, 2018

Cartoon Interlude

Things have been on the busy side around here lately, so here's a classic Disney cartoon to tide you over.

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Thursday, July 5, 2018

Reversing The Snap

I'm going to assume that everyone reading this has either already seen Avengers: Infinity War, or has heard what the ending it. If you haven't, please skip this post until later.

Still with me? Good.

I've been hearing a lot of talk on the social medias about the "Snap Heard 'Round The Universe" and how those killed in the movie before that "obviously can't be brought back". I'm sorry, but that's not obvious at all. Let's get a run down on the Infinity Stones, shall we?

Space Stone - Admittedly, being able to have instant access to any point in the universe isn't going to help us here.

Mind Stone - As with the Space Stone, this one is probably not going to help in this situation.

Soul Stone - Most people agree that Gamora's soul got sucked into the Soul Stone, so getting her back would be easy. It might be possible that everyone from The Snap is also in there, but that's not the problem we're addressing here.

Power Stone - Now we're getting somewhere. You see, the Power Stone has the ability to supercharge the other stones, making them more effective.

Time Stone - This one allows the user complete control over time, which means that someone could go backwards in time and change events to prevent

Reality Stone - Let's ruminate on the name here. Reality Stone. What's it's power? It can RESHAPE REALITY! The Reality Stone, backed by the Power Stone, can do ANYTHING, even bringing people back from the dead. Or, as in the comics, hit a universe sized RESET BUTTON!

So don't tell me that it's "obvious" that those not killed by the snap can't come back. The wielder of the Infinity Gauntlet can, literally, to ANYTHING. Once Adam Warlock get's his hands on it, everyone's coming back. They may not be the same as they were (changing actors, etc), but they will be back. There's no doubt about it in my mind, so ...

For more on the Infinity Gems and the original Infinity Gauntlet mini-series, check out the latest episode of The Quantum Cast.

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Thursday, June 28, 2018

Anime Recommendation: The Ancient Magus' Bride

Michelle and I recently finished up watching The Ancient Magus' Bride and I thought I'd share my impressions with you. First of all, I should point out that Michelle is the one that suggested that we watch it. She read the review in an issue of Otaku USA Magazine and thought it would be a good idea for us to give it a shot. I would say the indoctrination is complete. :D

The basic story here is that Chise, who can see various magical beings that others can't, has lived a very hard life. Her father abandoned her and her mother, and then her mother killed herself after trying to kill Chise. She was passed around from family to family and has lived a life of fear and neglect. It turns out that she's something called a Sleigh Beggy, a being that can both generate an absorb great amounts of magic. Unfortunately, this takes quite the toll on a human body, and most sleigh beggies don't live very long. Knowing this, and without any other option, the 16 year-old puts herself up for auction.

She is bought by the mage Elias, who is a an odd fey being. He appears to be a humanoid, but his head is the skull of a wolf with goat horns. He takes his new purchase home and intends to teach her magic as she teaches him about human emotions. The problem is that neither Elias or Chise is very talkative, so there are many times where they end up at crossed paths.

This was a great series to watch. It is visually striking and has some really intense moments, but there are plenty of more light hearted times to even things out. The world is really well thought out and, being based in England, manages to bring in the native Fey seamlessly. There are several points where you are worried for the characters, whether it is due to internal or external conflict, and the cliff hangers make you want to watch the next episode immediately.

Both Michelle and I were really satisfied with the experience and I would recommend it for any adults out there. There's no fan service or anything like that, it's just way too intense for kids.

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Thursday, June 21, 2018

Cosplay Gallery

To coincide with the most recent episode of The Hammer Podcasts!, which is all about Cosplay, I thought I'd do a gallery post of some outfits that my guest, Vera Wylde, and I have worn over the years. Sorry, but you'll have to suffer through mine to get to her's.

This is the Macho Man outfit that I mentioned. My buddy Fred managed to catch me on the home stretch of the run.

This was taken at the wedding of our friends Danny and Alycia, which was Halloween themed. I was dressed as the Imperial Guard and Michelle was the Biker Scout.

 Here I am as Lt. Commander Robert Lupia from the Tales of the Seventh Fleet fan series. As you can tell, this is prior to the weight loss.

Here's a pic of Vera as Fix-It Felix, Jr. 

Vera as the Arkham version of Harley Quinn.

If you're going to do a  Janine Melnitz cosplay, then why not go for The Real Ghostbusters version?

 Vera got crafty with this Poison Ivy cosplay. I think it turned out great.

And now the one you've all been waiting for, the Wonder Woman cosplay that we talked so much about. I can see why a little girl would run up and hug her.

Anyone else have some cosplay pics they'd like to share? Head on over to the Facebook Page and post them as comments.

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Thursday, June 14, 2018

Cell Phone Addiction

Kira's dance recital was this past weekend and they had an announcement before the show. No flash photography - OK. No video recording - Sure. Please turn off your cell phones - This one people apparently had a problem with.

One guy the the row behind me said, "Yeah, that's gonna happen." I'm giving this a pass because he could have said it sarcastically, and I didn't see what was going on behind me.

Another guy in the row in front of me would take his phone out every now and then to check text messages. I'm going to give him a pass as well, since it could have been something important that he needed to check on. Plus, it wasn't constantly. He probably checked five times in the three hours we were there.

The one person that I'm NOT giving a pass to is the woman sitting right next to me. She had her phone out for the whole show and do you know what she was doing on it? Playing a GAME! Seriously? You came to a dance recital for, presumably, someone who care about and that's how you're going to spend your time? The person sitting next to her even had to nudge her during the acts that she was supposed to pay attention to! We're talking a woman at least in her 40's here! If the show was that unimportant to you, then why even bother going? Just stay home, sit on the couch, and have your face stuck to the phone there. You'll save everyone a lot of aggravation.

Is it really that hard for people to not be with their cell phones? It just doesn't make sense to me. This past winter I saw someone shoveling snow that took at least three times long than they should have. Do you know why? It's because after every second shovel, out comes the phone because Odin forbid they went more than a MINUTE without seeing someone's status update.

My phone gets turned off when I get home from work and doesn't get turned on again until the next morning. I've got better things to do with my life than stare a 4.5" x 2.5" screen constantly, especially when my family is involved.

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Thursday, June 7, 2018

Anime Recommendation: Your Name

A couple a weekends ago, my family sat down and watched the anime movie "Your Name". The basic idea is that high school boy Taki from Tokyo and high school girl Mitsuha from a small Japanese village randomly switch bodies with each other when they fall asleep. This leads to some pretty dramatic changes to their lives, as each tried to influence the other in what they see as a better direction. As this goes on, Taki and Mitsuha communicate back and forth via journals on their phones, and begin to find comfort in each other.

The two never speak or meet face to face, and when Taki tries to call Mitusha's phone, the call doesn't go through. Then, as suddenly as it began, the switching stops and we're left with Taki trying to find out why this all happened in the first place and what happened to Mitsuha. That's where the twist comes in, and what a twist it is. I'm not going to spoil it for you but I can say that I didn't see it coming and it is handled beautifully.

This is a movie that could have worked in both live action and animation, but I think the animation gives it the freedom to do some things that would have been harder to do in live action. The writing and acting are terrific and you really get sucked into the story. I think that all three of us gasped at the reveal of what was going on, and that's not something I can say very often.

I would highly recommend this to, well, everyone. It's probably not great for young children, but there's nothing objectionable. Kira, who is 9 at the time of this writing, was completely engrossed in the movie and barely spoke through the run time.

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Thursday, May 31, 2018

Top 10 Favorite/Most Influential Cartoons

There's something going around social media that asks people to list their Top 10 Favorite/Most Influential Cartoons. That sounded like a blog post topic to me, so here we are. I'm going to list these in no particular order, basically as they come to me. Also, I'm going with the "Most Influential" side of the equation, since "Favorite" would take too long to narrow down.

The Bugs Bunny Road Runner Hour

No conversation about cartoons would be complete without talking about Looney Tunes. These cartoons showed me many layers were possible in storytelling, and my whole family loves them. Heck, there will be times when we'll just start quoting Bugs & Daffy cartoons out of nowhere.

Star Blazers

This is a no brainer. I remember seeing Star Blazers when I was very young and that started my love of both anime and long form storytelling. The fact that this was a self contained quest, with a beginning, middle, and end fascinated me. American cartoons just didn't do that.


I love many Disney cartoons, and many of the shows from the 90's, but none has resonated with me as much as Gargoyles. An equal mix of Mythology, Arthurian Legend, Shakespeare, and Superhero, this cartoon seems like it was made for me. Add to that the fact that the cast is just lousy with Star Trek actors, and I'm hooked.

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe

I've told the story on MotU-Cast about how I won a He-Man contest from Burger King as a kid. I was already a big He-Man fan, though. The idea that strength was to be used to the benefit of others, and wasn't a goal in itself, was a great message.

Battle of the Planets

As much as I hate, and I do mean HATE, 7-Zark-7, I can't deny that Battle of the Planets was a treat for me to watch as a kid. I don't remember seeing it with any regularity, so stumbling across it was always a special occasion. Plus, it lead me to Gatchaman, which is the FAR superior source material, so I can't ignore it.

Challenge of the Superfriends

I could list most of the Superfriends here, but the one that was my favorite (and, coincidentally, didn't have any Junior members) was Challenge. The intro sums it all up, "The Justice League of America versus The Legion of Doom." What more could you want?

The Incredible Hulk

When someone mentions The Incredible Hulk, this is the music that plays in my head. Much more than the wonderful Bill Bixby/Lou Ferrigno show, this is the comic brought to life. No, it's not 100% faithful, but Bruce Banner, Betty Ross, and Rick Jones are present, along with General Ross and Major Talbot. Plus, this Hulk can speak!

Record of Lodoss War

One of the first Anime that I saw when I was in college was Record of Lodoss War, which is, essentially, a Dungeons and Dragons session animated. Like with Star Blazers, this was a very definite beginning, middle (which was at the start, for some reason), and end. It was wonderfully animated and had some great characters.


I'm a mark for Rankin-Bass, Science Fiction, and Superhero cartoons. This is a combination of all three, with the caveat that the heroes are actually space cops fighting the space mob. Plus, it had lessons about the solar system at the end, which is better than the "You see, Timmy ..." stuff that the other shows of this era were doing.

Flash Gordon

I love pretty much all of the Filmation adaptions, The Lone Ranger, Zorro, Tarzan, Star Trek, but Flash Gordon holds a special place in my heart. Again, this was long form story telling, but there really wasn't an end to it, since every time Ming was defeated, he would just escape and come back. It did build on itself, though, which was really nice.

How about you, dear reader? What are your top 10 cartoons?

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Thursday, May 24, 2018

Avengers Viewing Order

Before we went to see Avengers: Infinity War my dad said that he had no desire to see it, because he didn't want to watch 20 movies in order to understand the plot. That got me to thinking, just what movies would you HAVE to watch in order to know what's going on? I think I have an answer, and I'd like to get some feedback on it.

I would argue that everything you need to know is contained in the Captain America and Avengers movies.

In The First Avenger, we get a baseline for the "Infinity Stones" with the Cosmic Cube/Space Stone. We also get the relationship between Cap and Bucky, which plays into so much of the later films. Not to mention a great performance by Hugo Weaving as The Red Skull. The other Phase One films were terrific, but this one lays a lot of the groundwork.

The Avengers got the team together, showed the interactions between the members, and gave a good introduction to all the characters. It also gives us the Mind Stone, not that we knew it, and Thanos at the end. Knowing the Avengers is necessary to getting what's going on in Infinity War.

Going on to The Winter Soldier, we get more of Cap's life and it brings Bucky back into the fold. We also get the stakes going up with the reveal of who is controlling SHIELD, and the introduction of Crossbones & The Falcon.

Age of Ultron gives us the real start of the rift between Cap and Iron man, and lays the ground work for both Civil War and Infinity War. The original Avengers break up and we get the new team, lead by Cap, which goes right into Civil War.

Civil War is where it all goes to hell. The Avengers are caught up in a major incident, which prompts the UN to pass a resolution on Superhero Registration. Cap and Iron Man are on opposite sides of the issue, leading to the existing, and one new, heroes choosing sides. That leads us right into the events of Infinity War, where everyone is scattered and have to come together to fight against Thanos.

The other movies are nice and give you a lot of information, but these 5 are the ones that I think you NEED to watch in order to understand what's going in in the latest release. Of course, I could be wrong. What do YOU think is absolutely necessary to see before Infinity War?

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Thursday, May 17, 2018

Goblin Songs

It's no secret that I love pretty much everything done by Rankin-Bass, from Rudolph right up to Thundercats and Silverhawks. The one that really got me as a kid, though, was their adaption of The Hobbit. Yes, some things (like Beorn) were trimmed for time, but the overall story is incredibly faithful to the book. Heck, they even use the lyrics that Tolkien wrote for the songs.

It's those songs that I want to talk about today. I think that they did a great job translating them for the screen and I really enjoy each one. However, it seems like the Goblin songs are the ones that tend to be a bit more toe-tapping. I think it's because of that, and my love for classic rock type music, that they tend to stick out in my mind.

The Hobbit has two of these songs in it. The first is "Down to Goblin Town", which is sung as the Dwarves and Bilbo are captured while crossing the Misty Mountains. Here it is:

The second is sung while the Goblins and Wargs have the party trapped in the pine trees:

Both of these are really down songs, being about how the goblins are going to do horrible things to our heroes, but they've got an infectious beat that just sticks in my head.

A third song exists, from the adaption of The Return of the King. This is a completely original song, but it keeps the same style as the first two. More of a rock tempo, even with the upsetting ideas behind the lyrics. Check it out:

So, am I just odd (don't answer that) or do others gravitate towards the goblin music?

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Thursday, May 10, 2018

Convention Report - Zenkaikon

Jad Saxton's Q&A Panel. Note Kira in her Sailor Moon shirt right up front.
This past weekend our family traveled back to Lancaster, PA to attend Zenkaikon. This was the first Anime specific convention that any of us had been to, so it was an interesting time. We attended more panels than we normally do. This was partially due to more stuff that we were interested in and partially because there wasn't much else to do there.

Let me start out by saying that this is not a huge convention, but it's also not tiny. It took up pretty much every room of the Lancaster County Convention Center and I would say it was moderately attended. There wasn't any point that I felt it was over crowded, which is my normal complaint with conventions.

Kira with Sarah and Jad. She was HUGELY excited both before and after this.
Our primary draw to this convention, other than it being convenient, were two of the guests, both of whom are from Miss Kobayashi's Dragon MaidSarah Wiedenheft (who plays the titular maid, Tohru) and Jad Saxton (who plays Kira's favorite dragon Kanna). We were able to get autographs from both ladies and Kira got pictures with them as well. I also gave them each a business card and an invitation to appear on Anime Freaks, should they have the time.

Kira asking how Jad relaxes
We attended the Meet Jad Saxton panel you see above, where Kira was able to ask her two questions, and the voice actors panel which also had Jessica CalvelloQuinton Flynn, and Phil LaMarr. They had some interesting stories to tell, but if anyone is looking to become a voice actor just read this rather than asking, since that was their standard answer.

On the panel side of things, the first one we attended was on Saturday morning where Brandon DeCoster presented different anime openings and what they look like around the world. This isn't just a language thing, either. Apparently different countries have varying standard lengths of openings, which means things need to be added/subtracted depending on where you are. They also shift focus depending on who they think the anime is targeted to, like adding more costume changes to Gundam Wing in Italy, to help target girls.

Saturday afternoon we went to a panel conducted by a group called Manly Battleships titled "Before An Unexpected Journey: The Anime Legacy of Rankin/Bass". They went over the outsourcing of animation, both stop action and hand drawn, to Japan and how many of the creators went on to work on some important anime. They also agree with me that the Rankin Bass Hobbit is far superior to the bloated Peter Jackson movies.

Sunday we attended another Manly Battleships panel, this one about the career of Don Bluth. It has Mrs. Brisby in the title, so we weren't going to keep Michelle away. There were many interesting points brought up, and they even touched on some movies that I didn't know about. Kira now wants to see Thumbelina, so I need to find that somewhere.

A couple of cool cosplayers. Sailor Moon on the left and the Red Dragon Emperor from High School DxD on the right.
The rest of our time was spent people watching and going through the dealer's room, which only had one booth selling Anime & Manga, and another that was just selling Manga. The rest were artists and merchandise vendors. We bought some stuff (probably too much) and generally had a good time. They've already announced their dates for next year, and we'll think about going back. It all depends on scheduling, both of our activities and their guests. I would certainly recommend this convention, though. At the risk of sounding like Goldilocks, it's just the right size and mixture of things to see and do.

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Thursday, May 3, 2018

Heathen Trek

The other day I was thinking about Star Trek, which is not out of the ordinary for me, and my mind went to the Galactic Barrier. This is the energy field seen in the episodes "Where No Man Has Gone Before", "By Any Other Name", and "Is There in Truth No Beauty?" from The Original Series. It surrounds the Milky Way Galaxy and, while it doesn't prevent intergalactic travel, it certainly makes it extremely dangerous.

So we have this huge, dangerous thing that surround where humans are. Of course I then went to Jörmungandr, the Midgard Serpent, and then my entire world view had a seismic shift. As an abstract, I have always considered our "reality" or "dimension" to be Midgard. What if it's simpler than that, though, and Midgard is actually our galaxy? That would make Jörmungandr the Galactic Barrier and, while not as huge as if he was encircling our dimension, he would be of an epic scale. You can see why Hymir was a little nervous when Thor hooked the serpent during a fishing trip.

This makes the Nine Worlds a little smaller. I would still consider Hel/Niflheim and Muspelheim to be different dimensions, but the remainder would be other galaxies. That means that getting to and from them would be difficult, but not like getting back from Hel. It also makes the Marvel version a bit closer to being acceptable to me. I don't buy the one planet idea for places like Jotenheim, but I can accept a galaxy.

I don't know about you, but I love it when my varied interests can cross over like this.

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Thursday, April 26, 2018

Why I'm Anti Class and Level

Like most gamers, my first table-top RPG was Dungeons and Dragons. I didn't start quite early enough to have played First Edition. No, I came in with Advance Dungeons and Dragons, Second Edition. The basics are the same as First, just with more stuff attached. A player in the game decides on a character to play, choosing between Fighters, Magic Users, Clerics, and Rogues, and starting out at 1st level. As one adventures, the character gains experience points until, at a set number, the character increases in level, gaining more skills and abilities.

All of that is great, until you look at it from a more objective sense. If you were to place a 1st Level Fighter up against a 10th Level Fighter, it would be no contest. Each level, a Fighter gains 1d10 Hit Points, meaning that the maximum a 1st Level Fighter could have would be 10, and the max the 10th level could have would be 100. That means that the 1st Level guy has to do 10 times the amount of damage to win that the 10th Level guy does. The odds of this happening at pretty slim before our 1st level guy croaks.

A little while after I started playing AD&D, I also started playing the West End Games version of the Star Wars RPG. In this game, there are no classes or levels. Oh, there are templates that you can use to start out with, but nothing like a class. This game is entirely skill based, meaning that as you go along, you increase your skills or gain new ones.

Similarly, I played the Marvel Superheroes RPG, put out by TSR, the same people behind AD&D. This game had Powers and Skill, that you could use your Karma rewards from adventures to increase.

In either Marvel or Star Wars, it was conceivable that a lower level character could take down someone much more powerful. The way the dice rolls were structured you had the possibility of shifting your result up high enough to take down a much more formidable opponent. It wasn't easy, but it was a lot more likely than rolling a critical in AD&D.

Increasing skills and abilities over time, but physically staying pretty much the same just makes more sense to me. I could get healthier and stronger, but there's no way that I would be 10 times harder to kill because of it. I could increase my fighting abilities, though, and that would make me much more effective in combat.

This is not to say that I don't enjoy playing class & level games. I'm in a (mostly) monthly Pathfinder campaign that it really fun. But if I'm choosing a game, I'm going to lean more towards things like WEG Star Wars, Marvel Superheroes, or Pendragon than AD&D.

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Thursday, April 19, 2018

Cartoon TV Themes 2

I was under the weather at the beginning of the week, so I didn't have time to write up a post. So enjoy these cartoon themes that might just be coming to a podcast episode at some point.

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Thursday, April 12, 2018

Superman is 80?!?!?

So Superman turns 80 this year. I remember back when it was a big deal that he turned 50, right down to this ad for commemorative coins.

Of course, this also comes with the knowledge that I'll be in my 60's when he turns 100. While some people might find that depressing, I don't. Why would I? I'll be around for the celebration of Superman's 100th birthday!

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Thursday, April 5, 2018

Amish Paradise

As you're reading this, our family is winding up our vacation in Lancaster, PA. In the spirit of that, enjoy an appropriate song by Weird Al. See you next week.

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Thursday, March 29, 2018

My Daughter Is An Anime Character

We recently began watching Cardcaptor Sakura, at Michelle's request. She thought that the new Clearcard series looked interesting, but as none of us had seen the original, we thought it was a good idea to start from the beginning. In the first episode, Sakura Kinomoto, the main character, describes herself and after pretty much each item, Michelle and I both look at Kira. Here's part of her description from Wikipedia:

"Her most defining character traits is her unyielding determination, caring nature and loyalty to her friends. Sakura is portrayed as an perceptively sweet, extremely energetic and cheerful character who is well-loved, pretty, cheerful, cute and at times a naive, clumsy, and clueless. Sakura is athletically gifted and skilled in sports at school, being an excellent runner and called the "best baton twirler in school" by her friends. She hates math and is openly phasmophobic <afraid of ghosts>."

Determined? Yes
Caring? Certainly
Loyal to her friends? Of course
Sweet? Yup
Energetic? Most of the time
Cheerful? Definitely
Well loved? No doubt
Pretty/Cute? Yes
Naive? Oh yeah
Clumsy? Very
Clueless? Can be
Good at sports? Pretty much
Hates math? You have no idea
Afraid of ghosts? She makes Shaggy look brave

I think the conclusion is clear. Based on the evidence, Kira and Sakura could be the same kid. Add to that the fact that they're both in the Fourth Grade and we have it pretty much sewn up. That's going to make watching this show real interesting.

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Thursday, March 22, 2018

How Money In Star Trek Works

Last week there was a rather lively discussion in the comments section, so I thought that I'd try and work out just how the monetary system in the Federation works. For this I'm going to use the model in Star Trek Online, which involves Energy Credits (EC's). I'm also going to base everything on the idea that those in the Federation that don't want to work, don't have to.

So, as a baseline, we need to have sufficient housing available for everyone. This could look like Kirk's apartment in The Wrath of Kahn and The Search for Spock. It's big, but not overly so, and has fairly simple furnishings. This could be good for a single person or a couple, maybe even a small family. It's part of a skyscraper, so that maximizes the amount of units in a given footprint.

Next, we have the necessities of life, food and clothing. Everyone has a replicator, so getting them is not a problem. However, at the most basic level, you'd have the basics and nothing more. Food like in TOS, which may be completely nutritious, but is easy to replicate and may not look like much. As far as clothing, there's a reason that the majority of civilians in TOS wore jumpsuits. Again, they do the job and are easy to replicate.

You get as much of those as you want, but, frankly, do you want all that much of it? Personally, I'd like to strive for something better, and that's where the energy credits come in. If you get a job, open a business, or just do some form of labor, you get EC's. These would offset the additional complexity of food and clothing, and possibly allow for more advanced living accommodations. Like most things in the Federation, these would probably have a contractual obligation. Say you want to go on a trip, but you'll need some specialized clothing and probably want a better meals. Well, then you can polish the floors at Starfleet Academy for three months and earn your EC's.

That brings up the idea of restaurants, like Sisko's father ran. Well, you pay for meals there with EC's and then the owner would use those to pay for his needs in maintaining the business. He'd need to make repairs to the building, trade for ingredients (because if he replicated the meal, you could do that at home), and pay staff. There would probably also be recipes there (or clothing at various stores) that aren't available on the replicator network, so you'd have to go out to get those things.

What about trade with other cultures, you ask? Well, that's also handled in the same way. The Federation gives EC's for goods and services, and those can be turned in at any Starfleet base or Federation outpost for items that can only be replicated there. It would be fairly annoying for those other cultures, which is why the Ferengi don't like dealing with the Federation. More trouble than it's worth.

Not everyone would enjoy this kind of economy, which is probably why there are so many colonies out on the fringe of Federation space. They're essentially autonomous, which means they can live as they wish. The replicator technology, though, would follow them but they could regulate it as they see fit, so they might have actual money, EC's, or just a barter system.

Starfleet would have a pay system involving EC's, which could be used at the Replimat for non-basic items. They would also be used for booking additional hours on the Holodeck (since everyone on the ship/station would have a certain allotment as part of R&R), buy unusual food & drinks at the bar/lounge, or just save up to buy that retirement home on Earth. If you stay on the ship and just do your duty, you get a small amount, but if you take on more responsibility and go on away missions, you get more.

I should point out that most of this would be done in the background. There would most likely be biological readers, or something tied to a communicator, that would automatically debit or credit your account for your activity. Picture it like Amazon's new convenience stores. You can walk in and out with no problem, and they'll tally everything up for you. So physical money would not be in use, but there would still be an economy, just one pretty much impenetrable for other cultures.

So, what do you think? Does this work with everything we've seen in Trek or am I way off base?

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Thursday, March 15, 2018

Money in Star Trek

In Trekkie circles there's a bit of a debate about money in Star Trek. Everyone can accept that the Federation does not have a monetary system by the time of The Next Generation. It's explicitly stated as such by various characters. What not everyone agrees on, however, is whether there was money during The Original Series. I'm firmly on the side that there was, mainly from lines said in the show.

One such example is in The Doomsday Machine where Kirk says, "Scotty, you've just earned your pay for the week" when Scott anticipates the request for phasers. In a culture without money, this makes no sense.

This is not to mention ANYTHING Harry Mudd did. Heck, in his first appearance, he convinced the women he was with that lithium miners would make good husbands because they were rich!

Let me tackle this little bit next. This is a scene from Star Trek 4 that many use to say that Kirk doesn't know how much $100 is, so he can't know what money is. Watch for yourself.

The store owner offers Kirk $100 for the glasses and Kirk's response is, "Is that a lot?" Keep in mind that Kirk is 300 years in the past. Would you know whether 2 shillings and 10 pence was a lot for something if you were in the American Colonies in 1718? I know that I wouldn't.

Finally, in Star Trek Generations, Kirk is found by Picard in the Nexus. They go into the house and Kirk remarks, "It's all right, it's my house. ...At least it used to be, I sold it years ago." If there was no money, Kirk wouldn't have "sold" the house. Given it away? Yup. Traded it? Could be. Sold it? Nope.

So at some point between the launch of the Enterprise B and the Encounter at Farpoint, some event occurred that moved the Federation away from money. I don't know what that could be, or how it came about, but something happened. It would have to have been something pretty drastic, though, since money became so foreign within just a couple of generations that people can't even wrap their head around the concept.

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Thursday, March 8, 2018

Anime Recommendation: Food Wars

Kira and I have been watching some anime recently, when Michelle has to go to work and Kira has all her homework done. One that we pretty much stumbled upon is Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma, and we're really enjoying it. The premise is that Yukihira Soma (the guy on the right) has grown up in his father's diner, but is now ready to attend high school. His father shuts up the diner and sends Soma to a prestigious school,  Tōtsuki Culinary Academy, where Soma finds that he might not know everything.

This has your standard anime goofiness, but it also tackles some serious issues. One of the main things that Kira enjoys is that the characters always describe, one way or another, what's gone into certain dishes and why. The reasoning and history behind the choices of ingredients, as well as the competitive nature of the school, makes for some fascinating viewing. If you like to cook, then I would recommend this series.

I'd love to hear the thoughts of those that have watched it. We're only part way through the second of the three seasons, as of this writing, but it's really holding up.

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Thursday, March 1, 2018

Here's The Thing...

OK, puns aside, work has been really busy recently, so I haven't had a chance to write up anything. We'll see what happens next week.

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Thursday, February 22, 2018

Repetitive Lyrics

One of the things about "cutting the cord" is that I don't see a lot of commercials, which is nice. However, there are some services that we use that have commercial put in them, to keep them free to the user. One of these is Pluto TV, which we watch for their MST3K and RiffTrax channels. The downside is that they put their commercials on in blocks that last a couple of weeks, so you're constantly seeing the same thing repeatedly. While that can be annoying, it's usually tolerable.

One of the recent ones, however, is definitely intolerable, and that's the iPhone X commercial. (Quick Tangent: Is it the iPhone "Ten" or the iPhone "Ex"? Since no one speaks on the damn thing, I have no clue.) This commercial uses a song called "Do Your Thing" as the background. How do I know this? The entire commercial is the following:

Do your, do your thing
Do your, do your thing
Do your thing
Do your, do your thing
Do your, do your thing
Do your thing
Do your, do your, do your thing
Do your, do your thing
Do your thing
Do your, do your thing
Do your, do your thing
Do your thing
Do your, do your thing
Do your, do your thing
Do your thing
Do your, do your, do your thing
Do your, do your thing
Do your thing

It's MADDENING! It's also a pet peeve of mine, which is why I HATE "We've Got The Beat" as well. It's not the style of music, the performer, the instrumentation, or anything like that. It's the SAME. DAMN. LINE. OVER AND OVER AND OVER. I have never been able to stand that.

There might be more to this song (and I really hope there is) but since it's not my style of music, I'll never know. I can tell you this, though. If I hate the commercial that much, I'm NEVER going to buy that product.

OK, rant over. Go watch Black Panther or something.

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Thursday, February 15, 2018

THP - Jaws 2

Wait, what's this? A new podcast episode?

Yes, dear reader, you aren't seeing things. I did manage to release a new episode of The Hammer Podcasts! It only took a year and a half, but my conversation with Paul Spataro about Jaws 2 is finally out there. This is a different look at the film, focusing on the family aspect.

I should point out that Patreon supports at the $2 level were able to listen to this last Saturday. If that kind of reward interests you, and you want to make sure that I get more episodes out, why not visit that link down there ↓ and become a supporter?

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Thursday, February 1, 2018

Launch the Yamato!

No matter which version it is, old, new, or live action, I just LOVE this scene.

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Thursday, January 25, 2018

My Favorite MASH

With the upcoming M*A*S*H-Cast, I've been thinking of my favorite era of the show. I mainly saw M*A*S*H in reruns on Channel 29, but we would occasionally watch it live. I know we were among the millions that tuned in for the finale.

In any case, my favorite time of the show was from where Winchester joined (Season 6's “Fade Out, Fade In (Part 1)”) to when Radar left (Season 8's "Good-Bye Radar: Part 2"). This is for a couple of reasons, and they are entirely personal, so your mileage may vary.

First, I never liked how Frank Burns was treated as a character. The Frank from the original movie was an army surgeon who was, perhaps, a bit over-zealous in his religious views. He became the enemy of Hawkeye and Duke simply because he was there and they didn't agree with him. That escalated to the point where Hawkeye pushed Frank so far that Frank attacked him. Still, Frank was a good surgeon and did his job.

Not so much in the TV show. Here, Frank is a bumbling dullard who is more akin to a child than a doctor. While I disagree with how the character was treated in the movie, I am outraged by how he's treated in the show. There are times when Hawkeye, Trapper, or BJ show even a slight interest in being his friend which makes Frank become a puppy-dog. They then squash this possibility, crushing him. It's like having the cool kids pick on a special needs child just because it amuses them, and I never liked it.

Replacing Frank with Charles was brilliant, in my opinion. Now you had someone who could give as good as he got, plus he was able to team up with Hawkeye or BJ against the other. That made for a much more interesting dynamic on the show and, also in my opinion, raised it on an intellectual level.

While Charles added something the show needed, the departure of Radar had it lose something. The innocence that Gary Burghoff imbues Radar with is sorely missed in the rest of the show. Not that I dislike Klinger, but his cynical take on being company clerk is just like everyone else's cynicism. There's no wide-eyed amazement at anything anymore, and that's a detriment to the stories.

Still, it's going to be interesting hearing Rob Kelly's take on each episode, along with his guests. Maybe they can change my mind on the Frank situation, but I doubt it.

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Thursday, January 18, 2018

I'm Not Mad, Just Disappointed

It might be an aspect of getting older, but I've found that I just can't get worked up about entertainment anymore. There was a time where I would have gone off on a rant about Todd McFarlane giving Spider-Man mask eyes the size of his head, but not anymore.

Why, yes, my eyes do go from above my eyebrows to below my cheekbones.
Part of it could be that I'm just not going out of my way to watch stuff. I'm not current on any of the Marvel or DC TV shows. I pick and choose the movies that we go to see. I don't read any current comic books. Even so, if I do see/read something, I just can't get mad about it. I either think it's OK, or that it's not for me and move on.

I suppose this is why I just don't get the "This is the greatest/worst movie/TV Show/comic book EVER and if you don't agree with me, it's because you're not smart enough to understand!" I've heard that WAY too much, especially with regard to any DC movies starting with the Nolan Batman stuff. Look, it's great that you feel so passionately about something, but there are all kinds of tastes out there. Just because you think this is the best depiction of your concept of Batman doesn't mean someone who doesn't even like Batman has to agree with you, even if you accuse them of being stupid for not doing so.

There's enough entertainment that I know I like, or that I think I'll like but haven't watched/read yet, that I really don't need to seek out any of the stuff that I'm pretty sure I won't like.

Now get off my lawn!

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Thursday, January 11, 2018

Communication Problems

Over the holidays, we went and saw The Last Jedi. My overall impression was that it was an OK film with some really good scenes. However, there was one major underlying problem that I had with the film, and that is communication, or lack there of. Be warned, if you haven't seen the movie yet, you might want to skip this post as it does contain spoilers.

Still with me? OK, here we go.

The film opens with the Rebels/Resistance/whatever-you-want-to-call-them fleeing their base in three ships. The First Order jumps in with four star destroyers and one dreadnought. Here is where the lack of communication, as well as military incompetence, starts to show.

Poe spearheads an attack on the dreadnought's defenses, which apparently doesn't have defenses against small, one-man fighters. He knocks them all out and calls in the bombers. (I won't get into my problems with them as ships here.) Leia calls Poe and tells him to call off the attack. Poe ignores here and switches off his comm.

Leia then decides to NOT order the bombers to stop and return to the transports. Let me state that again, the GENERAL in charge DID NOT order the bombers to return. All of the bombers are then destroyed in the attack, for the which Leia blames Poe! Yes, he refused her order to return and he should be punished for that, but SHE could have called the bombers back, and DIDN'T! It's Leia's fault all those people died and the rebels lost those "valuable" ships.

Next, there's Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo. She takes command when Leia is incapacitated and decides not to tell Poe what her plan is. Again, no problem here. He has shown himself to be a hot-head and has ignored orders in this very film. However, she seemingly doesn't tell ANYONE what her plan is. I understand the reveal they were going for, the "we're not giving up, we're fleeing to a base" thing, but there are some of the crew that helped Poe in his mutiny that should have known what was really going on.

There's playing close to the vest and then there's keeping people who need to know out of the loop. Would anything have changed with Fin, Poe, and Rose? Maybe, maybe not. At the very least, it would have given the characters information they should have had. They might have even worked WITH Holdo to make the plan a success rather than the string of failures that it was.

I don't hate the film, but these were some of the things that my brain could get around while watching.

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Thursday, January 4, 2018

A More Laid Back Vacation

Where we'll be staying on this vacation - The Red Caboose Motel
Last year we went back to Orlando for our vacation. This year we're staying a little closer to home and going to Lancaster, PA (with side trips to Hershey and Gettysburg). Since this isn't as planning intense a trip, I have made a decision (not a resolution, a decision). This year I'll gather information but, aside from booking our hotel, I will not pre-plan or pre-purchase* anything. We'll be able to do what we want on a particular day and not be beholden to my schedule.

Let's see how long this lasts.

* Mainly because I CAN"T. Unlike WDW, the attractions in PA don't seem to think that people plan for their trips months in advance.

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