Stormtrooper Terry

Stormtrooper Terry

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

One Last Time

It's been a week of announcements for me. After turning 35 and enjoying a nice hotel suite party with close friends, I announced I'm probably not going hard for my birthday anymore. I was also very pleased to be able to announce that, after only being a full-time employee for only 8 months, I've received a promotion and a hefty raise at Ross. Seriously, I'm now making more money than I ever have before. Life is good. But it's time for one more announcement. So relax, have a drink with me, because...

Shootin' Straighter than a Stormtrooper is closing its doors.

I've been running this blog off and on for six years now, and fairly steadily on for the last four years or so. But the truth is, despite my efforts, it never really went where I wanted it to go, and lord knows it never really caught on with an audience or anything. In the last year or so, as I got a movie reviewing position at another site, it mostly became a place where I linked to my reviews on that site, or wrote book reviews, or, most recently, reviewed comic book art. But the truth is that the writing bug has left me lately. Not even Oscar season has inspired me to get on and write the usual posts I do about movies this time of year. Hell, I didn't even pick a best/worst movie of the year this time around (FYI, best was probably Creed, worst was probably Fantastic Four) and especially the thought of writing things mostly going unread. And if that's true of writing in general, it's especially true of reviewing. I dropped out of the two sites I was on involving movies, and I'm going to stick to just giving stars on Flixster or Goodreads for the foreseeable future.

I don't know if it's over forever; I'm not deleting the site so I can always go back to it. But at this point it feels like blogging is just a chore, and one not worth making time for. If I want to write, I can do it quietly, to and for myself, which is what this basically was anyway if you saw my view statistics. Maybe I'll come back someday, but I honestly doubt it. So, for one last time, if you were reading, thanks for reading.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Goodreads Book Review - Mockingjay

Mockingjay (The Hunger Games, #3)Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Probably my least favorite book in the series, just because it lacks the few bits of comedy and other light touches the two previous novels had. Also, the focus on the love triangle bored me as I sort of hate both Gale and Peeta as characters. The biggest problem I had was the abruptness of the ending... or I suppose I should say the abruptness of the climax; the ending itself goes on and on. I also don't like Collins' reliance on starting chapters with Katniss waking up in hospital beds, unaware of what happened. It gets tired. That said, Katniss is still a great character who really benefits from first person narration, and with the exception of the two mentioned above I enjoy the supporting cast. The action scenes are inventive and entertaining as well. I wish this had been as good as the first two chapters, but it was still an enjoyable ending.

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Sunday, December 20, 2015

Panel of the Week: 12/02/14

Marvel has been trying a lot of new things recently. They restarted all their series at #1 after an 8 month in-continuity gap to give readers a great jumping-on point for everything. As such, I've tried a lot of their new offerings. Some, like Karnak and Hercules, were surprisingly good. Others, like Totally Awesome Hulk, are ridiculous but have a good enough hook in there somewhere to make me want to see what happens next. And then there's the new volume of Daredevil, issue one of which was written by Charles Soule and pencilled by Ron Garney, in which the Man Without Fear is given a new enemy...

It's an Asian crime boss called Tenfingers. You know. Because he has ten fingers on each hand. Which really means he has twenty fingers, right, so wouldn't that be his name? I don't know. Apparently part of his thing is that his henchman are allowed to cut off one of their fingers and give it to him whenever they complete an assigned task. yeah, you read that write. They cut off their own fingers not as punishment but as reward. This is so mindnumbingly stupid I don't even want to type about it anymore, let alone read anymore about it.

The literal definition of "they can't all be winners" right here, folks.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Goodreads Book Review - Warheart

Warheart (Richard and Kahlan #4)Warheart by Terry Goodkind

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I remember when I started reading the Sword of Truth series. It was 2001 and I picked up Wizard's First Rule on a whim, and was immediately blown away by the fullness of the world, the richness of the characters, and the thrilling action. Fast-forward almost fifteen years to Warheart and I couldn't be more glad the series is over. For me, this series peaked at Faith of the Fallen and has gone downhill ever since. The lush world and full-bodied characters have been replaced by a simplistic, repetitive writing style that sees dialogue go on for pages at a time full of circular conversations where the lines could be said by anyone. No one has a distinct voice anymore. And for a book about a character called Warheart (a phrase, by the way, introduced almost as a throwaway line that is only saved from being a one-off by being used twice more, including a closing line that is easily one of the worst closing lines in the history of books), there is so little action it's unbelievable. It's basically a book about characters traveling back and forth to different places saying the same thing ad nauseam, followed by a ridiculously anticlimactic final confrontation. I'm giving Warheart one star for the one scene in the book that packed any sort of emotional punch for me, and out of loyalty and love for what used to be a great series.

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Saturday, December 12, 2015

Panel of the Week: 11/25/15

Sometimes there isn't anything all that outstanding that pops out in a particular week's batch of books. When that happens, it never hurts to just go with a classic action shot, and that's what I did with the week in question. The panel from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 4 #2, by Brian Michael Bendis and Valerio Schiti, featured below is just a such a panel.

Overlook the idea that both the Thing and Shadowcat are on the Guardians of the Galaxy instead of their usual teams, that's just the changing ways of Marvel now. Regardless of the team, there's nothing more timeless and classic in the comics world than the Thing, a cosmic enemy, and the clock hitting Clobberin' Time.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Goodreads Book Review - Brimstone Angels

Brimstone Angels: A Forgotten Realms NovelBrimstone Angels: A Forgotten Realms Novel by Erin M. Evans
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It's been awhile now since I picked up a book in the Forgotten Realms setting from a "new" author (I put new in quotations because this book came out four years ago now so, y'know). At this point the only books in this setting I'm still reading are by Salvatore and Greenwood; it's in fact the entry in the Sundering series bookended by those two that Evans contributed that got me interested in her series that kicked off with this book. It has an interesting plot, twisted by machinations of devils, demons, and men alike. It has decent action scenes and a fair bit of comedy, mostly at the expense of the inexperienced heroes. It is in fact those inexperienced heroes that lead to the biggest negative of the whole book, in my opinion; the heroes are young, teenagers really, and as such can be annoying. For every heroic moment they come up with, there's a bratty one to balance it out. But as annoying as it is, it's also a sign of good characterization that the characters are written realistically. The ending was a little too rushed and cluttered, but otherwise it's a solid start to a series that I'm ready to get into book two of as soon as I can.

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Thursday, December 3, 2015

Panel of the Week: 11/18/15

You should never sip on another man's Kool-Aid. Especially when that man is the king of an advanced race who never speaks a word because the power of his voice could shatter the moon. Seems like the kind of thing that would fall under the "self-evident truths" category. But some people have a bit of a learning curve... which brings us to the panel of the week for November 18th:

The panel in question comes from Marvel's Uncanny Inhumans #2, written by Charles Soule, drawn by Steve McNiven. The character in question, scene above in black, is Black Bolt; Medusa, seen walking away in the top panel, is his former queen... and the dude in yellow and black is the Human Torch, who Black Bolt has just discovered is now dating Medusa. Since his voice isn't something he can really use, Black Bolt decides to let his gestures speak for him when it comes to his feelings on the subject...

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Panel of the Week: 11/11/15

I have to be honest, being so far behind on the panels for this column sometimes makes it hard to remember why I picked certain ones over every other panel in all the comics I read that particular week. But in the case of November 11th, I have no such problem. Let me show you why.

The above panel from Darth Vader #12 (written by Kieron Gillen, drawn by Salvador Larocca) features the eponymous lead character disabling a rebel fighter just by Force-throwing his lightsaber through it.

Pretty badass, no?

Monday, November 30, 2015

Goodreads Book Review - Working for Bigfoot

Working for Bigfoot (The Dresden Files, #15.5)Working for Bigfoot by Jim Butcher
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In the midst of a long wait for the next novel in the Dresden Files series, it was nice to have this trilogy of short stories to pick up for a quick fix of that world. Each of the three stories involving Harry working for a Bigfoot who wants to protect his son is well written and full of vibrant characters and humor, all the hallmarks of Butcher's work in Dresden's world. As they were written at different times in Butcher's career (and are accordingly spaced out at different points during Harry's adventures), they grow in quality alongside the growth the Dresden Files books experienced. They'd also make a great introduction to readers who might be curious about the Dresden Files because, despite being strewn throughout different points in the series, they aren't at all bogged down by mythology or backstory. Really, the only drawback to the collection at all is that it's too short; the three short stories took a total of about 90 minutes to read. But hey, they're short stories, right? What can you do but enjoy them and use them to tide you over while you wait for the next story.

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Sunday, November 29, 2015

Panel of the Week: 11/4/15

Gonna keep this one short and sweet as I don't have a lot of time; I'm between finishing up an all day binge of Jessica Jones on Netflix and waiting for the midseason finale of Walking Dead to start in a few minutes. Truly, we're living in the geek renaissance. Anyway, going back almost a full month now, the winner for best panel (or in this case, panels) of the week for the comics released on November 4th goes to the following sequence from Invincible Iron Man, written by Brian Michael Bendis (who wrote the Alias story Jessica Jones is based on, in a fun bit of timing) with art by David Marquez. We all know Tony Stark is a bit of a poonhound, right? But even he has to worry about making sure he isn't snogging the wrong lady... so what's a guy to do?

Introducing... the Hydra Test. When you absolutely need to be sure your new girlfriend isn't secretly part of a throwback Nazi cell planning to kill you in your sleep. Or mid-coitus. You know. Like they do.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

The Thankful Stormtrooper, 2015 Edition

After four years now, I'm starting to run out of these damn things...

Another time for turkey, another time for the annual SSTS post of gratitude (well I did say last year it needed a better name...). I'm getting it out of the way early this year because I'll be spending most of the day with the number one entry on the list, my love, Marisa. Last year I sat Thanksgiving out because I was still grieving. This year, since it's really the only holiday we have in common, I'll be spending the day with her and the evening having dinner with her family. It should be nice to get back in the holiday swing again. Aside from the holiday aspect, I'm beyond grateful she's in my life. We've been living together for about 13 months now, and it's just amazing. Yes, we have our troubles as every couple does, but everyday is still filled with love and joy and laughter, and if we can fill each others' lives with those things, what else really matters?

Secondly, I'm incredibly thankful that this year was the year I finally found a great job with decent pay, good benefits, fun co-workers (although I'm not particularly close with any of them yet, and who knows if I even want that to change; yeah, I have to get some cantankerousness into this post somewhere, I'm still me), and a lot of great little perks. And I'm grateful I was able to pass that happiness on and get a friend hired, who in turn got one of his friends hired. It's always nice to be able to help someone else.


My family and friends. Except for one period of time, I've never had a particularly large circle, and that's still the case now. But what I have is strong. I love the good people that fill my life, that I know I can count on, that I always have great times with.

Mmmm, Jameson.

Writing. Whether it's my writing or other peoples' writing that I'm able to enjoy through various mediums that spirit of creativity will always be a part of me, and will always be one of my greatest sources of enjoyment.

And of course, New York City. I might have to settle for working there because I don't live there anymore, but regardless of where I reside it's the Big Apple that will always have my heart.

Now it's time to go enjoy some of that writing stuff before my girlfriend finishes her hibernation at around noon. Until then, have a Happy Thanksgiving everyone, and if there's anything you're particularly thankful for, feel free to share!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Goodreads Book Review - The Grownup

The GrownupThe Grownup by Gillian Flynn
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I read this back when it was called "What Do You Do?" in one of George R.R. Martin's anthologies, Rogues. It's very much typical of what you'd expect from a Gillian Flynn work: first-person female narration, seedy snark and cynicism, and a twist (or two, or three; who's counting?) at the end. One of Flynn's strengths, which is on display here, is how fully realized and developed all the characters are, not just the narrator, which is something that isn't easy to pull off in first-person narration. The language Flynn uses is snappy and sharp, and is fun to read. Now, the drawbacks. After the setup, which takes up a large part of the story, the climax feels rushed. And I wasn't kidding when I said there were multiple twists, and it just feels like too many, especially coming as they do in a very short span of pages. The ending is wholly unrealistic, but it's fiction so I don't hold that against it. In fact, I wouldn't mind a follow-up to check in on the characters down the road a ways.

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Monday, November 23, 2015

Panel of the Week: 10/28/15

My neverending quest to get up to date with this column continues. It would be going better if I'd do this more than once every two weeks... I mean, that's not a great ratio for a weekly column, right? Anyway, the winner for the week of October 29th comes from Spider-Man 2099 (Vol. 3) #2, written by Peter David, art by Will Sliney.

A robot.

Where the hell did it come from ?


Why Detroit?

No idea. Just a blind guess.

THAT'S why Detroit. Robocop, bitch.

Goodreads Book Review - Catching Fire

Catching Fire (The Hunger Games, #2)Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Much like the first book, I had a hard time separating the book from the movie while I read. That being said, the book is a compelling read. It pulled me along through the few slow spots because I couldn't wait to get back to the good parts; when the action and intrigue is this book are on, it's ridiculously hard to put down. The thing I miss most in terms of what expectations I had from the movie is the behind the scenes intrigue; the movies had more of the people from the capitol as the games went on. But there are more than enough characters to juggle already so I can see why that part isn't in the book. Collins made me want to book up the final part immediately after putting this one down. I managed to resist that but that's definitely the mark of a successful novel.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Goodreads Book Review - Unfettered

UnfetteredUnfettered by Shawn Speakman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

As in any anthology, there were a few stories I liked and a few I didn't. In particular, the ones by Terry Brooks, Patrick Rothfuss, Tad Williams, Daniel Abraham, Peter V. Brett, Lev Grossman, and David Anthony Durham all amused me to some degree or another, with the Brooks and Grossman ones probably being my favorite. The one that disappointed me the most was R.A. Salvatore's entry; it wasn't a bad story, per se, but as he's one of my favorite authors and has been for almost 25 years now, I was hoping for more. I did enjoy the conceit that sets this one apart from other anthologies, though, that the authors were unfettered by a controlling theme and could write whatever they wanted. I just wish some of them had written things a little meatier.

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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Goodreads Book Review - The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, #1)The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Reading this after watching the movies makes it very hard to separate the two in my mind; as I read I'm seeing the scenes from the movie instead of imagining things myself, which makes it hard to give a completely unbiased review. That said, I enjoy the characters and the story line is engrossing.The action could stand to be a little more descriptive and a lot more fleshed out; all the action scenes fly by, and frustratingly tend to end with someone passing out and having the results told to them when they wake up. Isn't "show, don't tell," one of the first rules of writing? Minor complaints aside, it's a very good book.

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Friday, November 6, 2015

Goodreads Book Review - The Aeronaut's Windlass

The Aeronaut's Windlass (The Cinder Spires, #1)The Aeronaut's Windlass by Jim Butcher
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Like Butcher's other two series, the first book in the Cinder Spires was a slow beginning for me. Part of it, I'm sure, is that I'm not much into the whole steampunk thing, so I guess a lot of the tropes that go with the genre were lost on me. But as always, I love Butcher's character work. All his characters feel alive, vibrant, and fully fleshed out, which makes it easy to care about them. I also enjoyed the overall plot he has going on here, although aspects of it, such as the love story that pops up, felt a little to rushed and unearned. What I think I loved more than anything else, was the way cats fit into the story. The characterization and lifestyle he gave them felt so spot-on to how cats are that it had me thoroughly entertained. In all, getting into this one was a little slow to me until about the halfway mark, where it really took off, and I'm looking forward to the next one. Meanwhile, am I the only one who caught a reference or two to the Codex Alera in here? Might they be connected?

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