Stormtrooper Terry

Stormtrooper Terry

Monday, June 28, 2010

Mets Monday, Vol. 10

It was another good week for the boys from Queens, going 4-2 against two good American League teams. Right now, the Mets are just half a game out of first place in the division, and still have the lead in the wild card race.

Is it just me, or has John Niese become a damn good pitcher since coming back from the disabled list? They've won every game he's started since he's been back! He's been a great counter-point to Johan Santana, who has kind of been a mess lately. Less strikeouts per nine innings than ever before, more walks, shorter outings. I don't know if this whole mess about him having an affair or rape or whatever it was is bothering him or not. Now, obviously, I don't condone rape, but I don't think it was rape, since nobody heard of it for how long since it happened, and the case was closed anyway. If it was him having an affair, that's none of my business and I honestly don't give a shit as long as he pitches the way we pay him to pitch, which he hasn't been. That whole mess needs to get sorted out.

Luckily, between Niese and the rest of the starting rotation, the team seems to have it covered. The offense has been on fire lately, and that's been with Pagan sitting out the last four games or so, and even yesterday, with Reyes having an 0-fer. This team is fun as hell to watch, and if they can keep going like this, it's going to be a fun summer...

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Week's Best, for the week of 6-21-10 to 6-27-10

Very tired. No sleep this weekend. No more words. Just pictures. Enjoy.

The Week's Worst Comic Book - Wolverine Origins #49
WOLVERINE ORIGINS #49 cover by Simone Bianchi

The Week's Best Comic Book Runner-Up - Amazing Spider-Man #635
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #635 cover by Gabriele Dell'Otto

The Week's Best Comic Book Winner - Superman #700
Superman #700

Friday, June 25, 2010

Fiction Fridays - Untitled Magic Story

I've decided to start this new weekly column, Fiction Fridays, partly as a way to get some feedback on what I'm writing and partly as a way to keep me writing. With that in mind, here's the first little snippet of something I've started... I'm not sure what, if anything, it's going to amount to, but here it is.

The first thing I should tell you is that Harry Potter is bullshit. Wait, no, that’s not the first thing I should tell you. Sorry; after everything I’ve been through in my short life… I’m younger than I look, trust me… the mind starts to get things a little jumbled sometimes. I’ll do my best to keep things relatively linear for you.

So, first thing: magic is real.

Second thing: Harry Potter is bullshit. Magic is something you’re born with. You either have it or you don’t and there’s no fancy school filled with friendly old people with beards and funny hats who teach you what to say while you daintily wave a wand in the air. Fucking wands. Who thought up that nonsense? It’s all about words of powers and hand gestures, and for some things, you don’t even need those. For the simplest spells, just the thought, or even the sheer intent, is enough. And for the most powerful mages, even the harder feats can be accomplished through sheer force of will. Sounds sweet, right, all that power? You’d think so, but you’d be dead wrong. First you have to be able to pay the toll magic demands on you, and if you can do that, well, bastards that powerful catch the eye of the Covenant, and once they have their eye on you, you only get one of two endings…

That’s where this whole mess started for me. I was on a job for the Covenant. Before you ask, no, I’m not powerful enough to get their attention, at least not in that “one of two endings” way I just mentioned. But I am powerful enough, and, more importantly, skilled enough to do some work for them from time to time. Like they say, it pays the bills, and every now and then they’ll toss me a scroll that I might be lucky enough to use to pick up some new trick.

Gotta feed the magic, after all.

So there I was, tracking down this idiot who called himself the Sultan of Sunset Park. Obviously, I was dealing with a real high-level intellect here. The Sultan… his real name was Bob Leviwitz… had been selling his talents to blanks, people without magic. There’s nothing wrong with that, as a rule, mages do it all the time; fortune tellers, palm readers, psychics. Some of them are scam artists, and some of them have real magic, selling it to make a few quick bucks. That’s fine, most people think they’re all full of crap anyway. The problem here was that Bobby was selling himself as an assassin, and that’s a no-no. Too many blanks start dying too close together, it starts drawing attention, and that’s when the Covenant gets involved.

So there it is, whatever it is. Feedback of any kind would be appreciated.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Mets Monday, Vol. 9

Normally, I'd be a lot more upset after losing a series to the Yankees, two games to one, but this time, I'm not. For one thing, we split the year series with them, three games apiece. For another, those two loses came after an eight game winning streak, seven of which came on the road and included two sweeps. Obviously, the Mets read this blog last week and decided I was right about them needing to win on the road, because they improved their road record from 8-18 to 15-20, which really is a drastic improvement. Also, the Mets are only a 2.5 games behind Atlanta for first place, and, if the season were to end today, would be in the playoffs in the wild card spot. So right now, things are looking pretty damn good.

Today is the last of three Mondays off in a row before starting a homestand tomorrow, where they're facing two tough AL teams in the form of the Tigers and the Twins. I have faith, though, that with such a dominant home record (24-10), the Mets are in good shape. Really, as long as the offense wakes up from the hiatus it's been on since the third inning or so of Saturday's game, everything should come up roses.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Week's Best, for the week of 6-14-10 to 6-20-10

So obviously, since the TV season ended and none of these summer replacement shows have done anything to pique my interest, I have to make a change to this column. If I didn't the best TV show every week would be True Blood and there would be no runner-up, and that would just be too repetitive for me. Instead, what will happen is that until the new fall season starts (or until I decide to stop blogging in the sheer face of indifference I'm receiving from people who all told me it would be awesome if I blogged again...), this will solely be a comic book column. There will still be a runner-up and a winner each week, but to add to it in place of the missing TV show entries, there will be a new "Week's Worst Comic Book" Award, and we'll kick it off with that right now.

The Week's Worst Comic Book - Deadpool: Merc with a Mouth #12
Look, I want to make it clear right off the bat, my intention here isn't to bash anybody or say anybody sucks. Truth is, even the writers and artists I don't like are doing something I can't do and I have no right to bash them; in fact, I have the utmost respect for them. And in this case, it isn't the writing or art I really have a problem with (although Gischler's writing style just rubs me the wrong way for some reason I can't quite articulate, and Dazo's art just feels too cartoony to me), it's more like the problem I have is with the direction Marvel has taken Deadpool as a whole. He's gone from being a dangerous, highly skilled mercenary who was a little cracked and used it to his advantage to distract and annoy his targets to being completely out of his gourd, having schizophrenic conversations with himself, doing completely ridiculous things for even more ridiculous reasons, and on top of that, he shows up in almost as many books in a month as Wolverine or Spider-Man! The overexposure makes things worse, and I find myself fervently wishing that Fabian Nicieza would be given Deadpool to make him shine again. If the good ship Deadpool isn't righted by the time the movie comes out, things will only get worse, I imagine...

The Week's Best Comic Book Runner-Up - Birds of Prey #2
Having Gail Simone and Ed Benes back on this book is like having Christmas come once a month. Nobody is better suited to drawing a book with an almost all-female cast than Benes, who draws beautiful women better than just about anyone I've ever seen, and Simone's ability to give all the characters different voices and use of thought boxes is fantastic. The book is packed with action, comedy, character beats, and a mystery, and is just not something to be missed.

The Week's Best Comic Book Winner - Amazing Spider-Man #634

"They're hunting spiders," really does say it all. For the better part of the last year, Spider-man has been running a gauntlet, facing all of his deadliest foes, one after another, and while he's survived each encounter, he's never won; in fact, each time he's lost something... a friend, his job, etc... The whole time, it has all been orchestrated by Sasha Kravinoff, the wife of the deadly and long-deceased Kraven the Hunter, and their equally deadly daughter, Ana, who, along with Ana's half-brother Aloysha, really have been hunting spiders. They've already kidnapped Madame Web and the third Spider-Woman, Mattie Franklin, and when this issue opens, they've already beaten the crap out of Spidey-clone Kaine, who shows up on Peter Parker's door looking for help. In the midst of helping him, Peter gets dragged into a battle outside, where Ana and Aloysha are attacking the second Spider-Woman, Julia Carpenter, now known as Arachne. I don't want to give anything away, but I will say the issue also features a very surprising return, a heart-breaking death, and a resurrection that isn't quite what's expected, as well as the revelation of what Sasha's plan has been all along. Joe Kelly's sense of action and dialogue is fantastic, and the scenes he writes her are both thrilling, compelling, and saddening. The art by Lark and Gaudiano is a perfect fit for this story, dark and gritty and, well, grim. The Grim Hunt is the first of three Spidey storylines this summer, and it starts off with a bang here. Plus, as if all that wasn't enough, the issue also features a back-up story about the first time Kaine met the original hunter, Kraven, and ANOTHER back-up story that features two pages written by Stan Lee. Price of admission right there, folks.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Tales from the Tube: The 2009/2010 Season

By now, most people know I watch a lot of television. Over the course of this season, I watched 22 shows (not counting the latest series of the BBC show Merlin because, well, it's British.) which is oddly fitting, considering that's how many episodes of a show there usually are. So I've decided I'm going to count those shows down, with mini-reviews for each one. I'm including only shows that ran between September and May (with the exception of Friday Night Lights; yes, I know it only started on NBC a few weeks ago, but it aired on DTV starting in December, so it counts). And since this is my countdown, no, you won't see Grey's Anatomy on here, just shows *I* like. So without further ado, and unlike some other countdowns I've seen recently that started with number one, let's kick things off at the bottom!

22.) Melrose Place
That picture right there basically sums up why I started watching this show in the first place: hot chicks. There were, like, six of them on this show. However, by the time I realized even they weren't enough to make this worthwhile, my OCD had kicked in and wouldn't let me stop until it was over. Mercifully, it won't be back next season.

21.) Legend of the Seeker
If Melrose Place wasn't so awful, this would have been dead last. Never before has something I've loved as much as Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series of novels been bastardized so horribly. I love the characters too much to have not watched the show, but after two seasons, this is another instance of me being happy as a pig in shit that a show won't be back next season.

20.) Heroes
Heroes Season 4 Promo - heroes photo
Lord, how the mighty have fallen. The first season of Heroes was a revelation; yes, I know much of it was ripped off X-Men and other sources, but still, it was a compelling show about people with powers when it started. As it went on, though, it became more about powers with people, and it kept reusing the same plots (time travel, is Sylar good or bad, how did Hiro lose his powers this time) over and over and it got boring. Add in too many characters to that, and it just became a mess. While I do hope they get to do the two or four hour miniseries they want to do to wrap it all up, this is yet another show I'm glad won't be back.

19.) Gossip Girl
The shines off the apple on this one too, folks. A lot of the cleverness the show used to have is gone; thankfully though the three year long Jenny storyline seems to be over. The thing this show does better than anything else I watch is cliffhangers. Whether it's the end of an episode or the end of a season, they know how to make you want to come back. And the way this year's finale ended, they accomplished just that.

18.) FlashForward
As I've said before about this, the show was decent, but such a disappointment nonetheless. It suffered from ABC's enthusiasm to create a new Lost: too many characters, too many storylines and puzzles... and yet, ABC wasn't patient enough or dedicated enough to let it unfold properly. I do wish it had been renewed for next year, but, no.

17.) Scrubs
If this had been done as a spin-off instead of a continuation, it would have worked out much better. It had it's moments and definitely picked up towards the end, once the focus was off the old characters and their guest spots and the new characters were really given a chance... but by then, it was too little, too late. Bye, Scrubs.

16.) Smallville
I know what you're thinking: "Smallville is still on?" It is, and admittedly it's had some weak seasons, and it has traveled pretty far afield from it's original purchase. Still, last season and this season were both pretty good, as more and more elements of the comics have been introduced, and they've gotten strong performances from guest stars like Callum Blue and others. It's worth watching, at least.

15.) V
Admittedly V started off weak, but as it moved along and started exploring issues like faith, religion, innocence, loyalty, and right and wrong, it started to get pretty damn compelling. Well-acted, too.

14.) The Cleveland Show
This show killed me just about every time it was on, especially the Thanksgiving episode. I really agonized over whether or not it was funnier than what comes in at 13...

13.) Family Guy
... but I had to give it to the originator, if for no other reason that what you see above. Plus, "the friggin' chicken is Boba Fett? Sweet!" Both these shows would be much higher up if I wasn't personally more into dramas and such than I am into comedies.

12.) 24
I'm not going to say much about this now because I plan on writing a full blog all about it now that it's over. I will say, however, that the first half of the season felt really weak to me, and while it finished incredibly strong, it didn't make me happy, and that's why it isn't higher.

11.) Lost
Yeah, umm, for more information, just see here.

Here come the Top 10... boy, this is tiring. Anyone else need an adult beverage?

10.) Castle
I never would have thought this would make the top ten, but the fact is, Nathan Fillion is infinitely watchable, and Stana Katic is the perfect foil for him. Plus, the murder cases they investigate are some of the most inventive ones I've ever seen on a cop show, with some weird twists and turns. It's almost never predictable, and always fun.

9.) Fringe
Always weird. Always flawlessly acted. The only problem with Fringe this season as opposed to last season is that last season, when the episode wasn't connected to the main storyline, it was still good; this season, though, a lot of the standalone episodes fell pretty flat for me. Still the episodes in the main arc were incredible, and, well... Leonard Nimoy.

8.) How I Met Your Mother
Some of the episodes didn't really work for me this season, but the show is always funny and just about always has heart. The 100th episode was just amazing, as was the season-long idea of the doppelgangers. And honestly, I think this show has given me more inside jokes between me and my friends than anything else on television.

7.) Life Unexpected
Awesome show, unexpected. Honestly, never expected to like this as much as I do. The characters are it's greatest strength. They're all so wonderfully flawed that no matter what they try to do, it ends up getting messed up. And unlike a lot of shows, it isn't fixed by the end of the episode, it takes time for things to get better. The cast is fantastic at what they do, and I couldn't be happier that it got renewed for a second season.

6.) The Vampire Diaries
Boy, talk about a surprise. I was expecting another awful to insult to vampires, like Twilight; what I got is a show that puts Twilight to shame. Sure, it's no True Blood, but Ian Somerhalder's "Damon Salvatore" would fit right in with Bill and Eric. He's delightfully evil, except when he's not, which is entirely true to the dichotomy of a vampire. Compelling storylines, interesting relationships, characters that actually get killed off, and mysteries everywhere... this was definitely an awesome surprise.

5.) House
I'm not sure what I can say about House that I didn't say the multiple times I've mentioned it in my "Week's Best" column. They did something I never thought they could do... get House off of Valium... this season and still not only kept it compelling, but made it more so, by focusing on his relationship with Cuddy and Wilson more than ever before. This is a show that just gets better and better.

4.) Dollhouse
The fact of the matter is, Dollhouse was just too smart for network television. It forced people to look at and question things like self, identity, and free will in ways a network program hasn't done in a long time, and it just didn't go over well. Regardless, the writing and directing were sharp as hell, the acting was awesome, and the character arcs, especially in the last few episodes, were unparalleled. I want to badly to hate FOX for cancelling it, but...

3.) Glee
If I hate FOX for canning Dollhouse, I absolutely love them for giving us Glee. Great music. Great dancing. Stories about acceptance and self-confidence and love. Sue Sylvester. It doesn't get much better than this.

2.) Friday Night Lights
I have loved this show since the first episode of the first season and I haven't stopped since. It's the most real thing I think I've ever seen. It has the most loyal fans and is so beloved by critics... that's literally what has kept it going. So many cast changes and everything else that has happened and it's still so amazing because of Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton, who give unbelievable performances each and every episode. I really could talk about how mind-blowing this show is, but, well, (spoilery) video speaks louder than my words, so...

1.) Supernatural
This show absolutely blew me away this season. It proved that it has the tightest continuity and mythology of any show on television (sorry, Lost) that I've seen since the days of Babylon 5. Literally everything that had happened over the span of 104 episodes had a point. It was all leading up to something, whether it was a moment in season 1 where the ghost of Sam and Dean's mother tells them "she's sorry" for some mysterious reason to a battle with a trickster in season 2, it all had a point, was all part of the plan. For no other reason at all, that would make this episode of the year after the big pay-offs in the last few episodes. However, it was also a season full of action, comedy, frights, emotional moments, angels, God, Satan, breaking the fourth wall, deaths (literally, Death), and rebirths. Supernatural ran the gauntlet this season and every minute of it was awesome.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Mets Monday, Vol. 8

The Mets have finally broken that 4-2 per week streak they seemed to be on that I mentioned last week. They went 5-1 since last Monday, which is, well, pretty goddamn good. They took two out of three from the Padres, which is an accomplishment, and then swept the Orioles, which, well, isn't an accomplishment at all. But it kind of is, because they swept the O's in Baltimore. That's right, the Metsies swept a road series, something that hasn't happened since last May 2009, apparently.

That's a fact, by the way, that seemingly led Rod Barajas to tell Frenchie that they sucked last year... he was joking, but he seems to have caught a little static or something for it. I don't know why, it's not like he was wrong...

Anyway. The Mets pickup the road trip tomorrow night with three against the Indians, which, the way Cleveland's season has been going, should result in two out of three for the Mets, if not another sweep. That'll be followed by three games with the Yanks at Yankee Stadium... all told, this is a pretty big week coming up.

Lets look at the positives from this week. Starting pitching is definitely one; we got a nine-inning affair from Pelfrey before the game went into extra innings, and a complete game one-hit shutout from Niese. Takahashi pitched back to form after two shaky starts, and Dickey is still cruising. On the offensive side, Wright and Bay are both starting to come alive, and Reyes has been doing damn good as well.

How about negatives? Well, Santana's last start wasn't too great, and neither was Pelfrey's, but really, if that's the biggest negative we have, I have no problem at all. Even the best pitchers have off days now and then, and that's all it was. They'll be fine.

Like I said, big week coming up. Let's keep it going, boys.

The Week's Best, for the week of 6-7-10 to 6-13-10

Once again, because I'm doing this crazy late since it took longer than usual for me to read all the things I was going to read for this week, I'm just going to drop some pictures on you today. Next week I'll probably start the new format I've thought up for this column for the summer. So until then, here you go.

The Week's Best TV Show Winner - Glee Ep. 1x22, "Journey

The Week's Best Comic Book Runner-Up
- Batman #700

The Week's Best Comic Book Winner - Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #11

Monday, June 7, 2010

Mets Monday, Vol. 7
The Mets have a lot to learn from these fellas. Once again, since my last entry, they've gone 4-2, which isn't bad at all. The problem is, it's all part of a disturbing trend. Out of those four wins, the last three of them came in a sweep of the Marlins at Citi Field. For the second time this season, the Mets have won eight games in a row at home, where they now have a 22-9 record. That's a .710 winning percentage, which is pretty damn spectacular. And yet, they're only three games over .500 for the season. How's that?

Simple. They're 8-18 on the road. So it's hard to capitalize on all those home wins when you've got an away percentage of .307. That's... well, it's pretty damn awful.

There's a pretty true saying in baseball that if you can win two out of three at home and just break even on the road, you've got a good chance of being a championship team. The Mets are doing better than two out of three at home. So, how well would they be doing if they were breaking even on the road? They'd be 35-22, thirteen games over .500, with a win percentage of .614. They'd be tied with the Yankees with the second-best record in baseball behind Tampa Bay, and would obviously then have the best record in the National League.

Why aren't they winning on the road? Beats the hell out of me, it's the same team with the same players as it is at home, where the offense is hitting, the runs are scoring, and the pitchers, for the most part, are doing their job. It doesn't make any sense.

Lucky for me, though, I don't need to make sense out of it. They do. Hopefully they figure it out soon.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Week's Best, for the week of 5-31-10 to 6-6-10

I'm not in the chattiest of moods right now, and I'm also fairly pressed for time, so I'm going to skip the usual right ups after each show or comic, and just give you the winners. And like last week, since I only watched two shows, there's only one TV show.

The Week's Best TV Show Winner - Happy Town Ep 1x04, "Slight of Hand"

The Week's Best Comic Book Runner-Up - Serenity: Float Out

The Week's Best Comic Book Winner - The Darkness/Darkchylde: Kingdom Pain