Stormtrooper Terry

Stormtrooper Terry

Saturday, April 28, 2012

The All-Wet Blog-A-Thon: Garden State

So I decided to take part in the All-Wet Blog-A-Thon this year. It's a fun idea being run by the entertainment blog Encore's World of Film and TV on Sunday, April 29th. The idea is to choose a scene from a movie that takes place in the rain, post a screen cap of it, and then explain why you like it. I knew I had to take part in this blog-a-thon because, as soon as I saw it, one movie scene popped into my head and it was perfect for it.

The "infinite abyss" scene from one of my favorite movies, Garden State. Without going into a long rambling rant about how great this movie is and why I love it, this seen sees the three main characters standing on the precipice of an immeasurably deep hole, wearing garbage bags to keep them at least partly dry in the rain. Staring down into this hole, confronted with the sheer enormity of it, they just scream. It always seemed to me that, faced by that infinite abyss, as they call it, they are forced to put their own problems into perspective; they realize that, in the face of how massive existence is, the planet, the universe, all of it, their lives and problems are miniscule. They have to accept just how small a person's life is in the grand scheme of things, and do the only thing they can: a rebellious yell that says even though they're small, they still matter. It's a deep moment, at least to me, and the fact that it's pouring only serves to underscore the power of nature and man's weakness. It makes it even more perfect.

And now that I'm starting to ramble, I'll wrap it up here, ending it with a quote from this scene: "Good luck exploring the infinite abyss."

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

My Life at 100 Posts

Happy Anniversary, Stormtroopers!
Here it is, my one hundredth blog post. For the last few days I've been trying to find something special to blog about for the occasion, and it finally occurred to me that, with all the movies, TV shows, books, and comics that I blog about, there is one topic I don't touch on all that often: my life. I haven't actually written anything about my life since the passing of my grandfather back in the end of December, so I though this centennial post would be the perfect time to touch base on my life... such as it is.

Back in September, I wrote up a checklist of sorts for where I needed my life to go at the time (which can be found here). So, now a little over seven months later, how have things progressed? Let's take a look.

The first item on the list was finding a job with decent pay and benefits. Still no luck on this front, despite the daily job searches, the referrals by friends, and the various interviews. I was doing some freelance "editing" for a time; I use the parentheses because it really was more like plagiarizing than it was editing and between that moral dilemma and the roughly three bucks an hour it paid, I couldn't do it for long. So I'm still looking, and if anyone knows or hears of anything, please, for the love of god, let me know!

Numero dos on the list was to get laid. In the interest of honestly, I have to admit, so far I'm 0-2 on accomplishing anything on this list!

Making some headway on my student loans and other debts came in third on the list. Thanks to the way I got screwed over by New York's unemployment division, I actually owe more money now than I did in September. So, thanks for that.

Number four was moving out. That was sort of accomplished in that i don't live in the same place as I did when I wrote the list, but I'm still not out on my own. Still, it's a much, much nicer apartment in a much nicer neighborhood than where I was before (seriously, ask anyone who has seen it), so I'm going to call this one a win. Lord knows I need one.

Finding a diet I could stick to that didn't also make me absolutely miserable was next on the list. Right now, I'm twenty-five pounds lighter than I was in September, so that one must have been successful. The trick that worked for me wasn't so much changing my diet as it was just cutting calories and eating smaller portions of things. I do seem to have hit a bit of a roadblock right now as it seems that plan isn't leading to any more weight loss, just maintaining what it is now, so maybe I do need to switch it up again.

Coming in sixth on the list was a simple objective: write more. I can definitely say I've been doing that, popping out roughly five blogs a month, give or take. I do need to try to focus on fiction more, but hey, one thing at a time, right? I'm also trying to broaden my horizons when it comes to reading, which is why I'm doing what I call the Recommended Reading Challenge. For the next year, I'll read nothing but what other people recommend to me, and will chronicle the results in upcoming "Lit Bit" posts here. Should be interesting.

Last on the list was getting ordained so I could perform my friends' wedding. Been there, done that. I'd love to do another one, though; preferably one that would pay. So if you or anyone you know are looking for an affordable, quality wedding officiant, let me know!

Alright, that was the list. Let's tally up. No progress on the first three goals. I'm going to call number four a half-win. Banged out the last three goals. So I guess right now I'm batting .500. That's a start, right?

I have to admit I'm proud of hitting the hundredth post mark. I'd love to say I'll be doing this same thing in a year or so for a two-hundredth post anniversary, but who knows what the future holds? What I can tell is that coming up for this blog, aside from the aforementioned Recommended Reading Challenge, will be a special post in honor of the upcoming annual Star Wars Day (May 4th. If you don't know why it's that day, think about it. You'll get it. I hope.), followed by a review of the Avengers a few days later, and, later on in May, a post to celebrate the final episode ever of House. I look forward to writing them, and hope you look forward to reading them.

Thanks for reading, whoever you are.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Goodreads Book Review - Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi: Apocalypse

Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi: ApocalypseStar Wars: Fate of the Jedi: Apocalypse by Troy Denning

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I think this might be the best Star Wars novel I've ever read... and considering how many of them I've read over the last decade, that's saying something. It's packed with some of the best action scenes I've ever read, filled with great characterization and developments for some of my favorite characters, and deftly ties up threads that have been around for the last two or three series while still setting up more for the next one, whenever and whatever that may be. It also touches on why I love the shared nature of the Expanded Universe so much; one big plot development relates to a trilogy of episodes from season three of the Clone Wars animated series, and another big development begins to set up and lead into the Star Wars: Legacy comic book series. All in all, I felt it's a great novel set right in the middle of a great time to be a Star Wars fan.

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Monday, April 16, 2012

The Return of the Return of Mets Monday!

Okay, I know what you're thinking: what the hell is up with that title? Back on Myspace, I used to do a blog called "Mets Monday" about the Mets every... you guessed it, Monday. I brought the tradition over with me when I started doing this blog, and the first post was then called "The Return of Mets Monday." Eventually that fell off midway through 2010 because the Mets were so bad that writing about them just increased my already boiling suicidal tendencies to a really dangerous level.

Now, with a little time between me and that period of loathing, I've decided to bring the tradition back again; hence, the title. I will, however, not be forcing myself to write something about them every Monday. I'll be limiting it to only when I actually have something to good to write about... like the way I went to my first Mets game since 2010 last Wednesday, which was also the anniversary of the first Mets game ever.

The view from the Pepsi Porch. I do love Citi Field... now with less walls!

Joined by a few friends, I took in the game from the Pepsi Porch out in right field. Like most areas of Citi Field, the seats were nice and the view was decent. The game, however, billed as a pitchers duel between Johan Santana and the Nationals' Stephen Strasburg, was neither nice or decent. The Mets lost 4-0, which I can live with. There's an old baseball saying that goes something like, "Every team is going to win 54 games, and every team is going to lose 54 games. It's what happens in the remaining 54 games that matters." What annoyed me is that, out of the four runs the Nationals scored, two came from walks with the bases loaded, one came from a wild pitch, and one happened when a double play wasn't turned properly. I don't mind losing, I just hate sloppy play.

A couple of other notes from the game that day:

- As loud as it sounds like Jason Bay is getting booed when you watch the game on TV, it sounds even worse in person. And, sadly, he deserves it.

- When Ike Davis got his first hit of the season, judging by the ovation he got, you'd have thought he just hit a game winning grand slam.

-People really hate Jayson Werth. When he got beaned, there was damn near a standing ovation. The people sitting in the new Party City Party Deck in center field were on him all game, so much so that he spent half the game looking back at them. Then, when he got moved over to right field, it was our turn. One particular fan, who may or may not have been inebriated, loudly expressed his wishes that Weirdbeard would just die, and then yelled at him, "Hey, Werthless, what was your average last year? Your beard is bigger than that!"

Gotta love Mets fans. Whether or not the team manages to remain the most surprising thing in baseball  or (perhaps inevitably) falls apart any day now, I would love to take in some more games this season.

And then, you know, write about them.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Cabin in the Woods

Most people who know me know that i am a huge fan of Joss Whedon and tend to love everything he does (well, except for the things he did pre-Buffy, like Titan A.E. and episodes of Roseanne... the less we speak of those, the better). So it should come as no surprise that The Cabin in the Woods is one of the movies I've been anticipating like crazy. The question is, was it worth the anticipation?

I could be accused of being biased due to my pre-existing Joss-love, but I think the accolades mentioned on the poster above are well-deserved. The problem is that so much of what makes the movie so ground-breaking and entertaining hinges on the plot twist on the plot twist on the plot twist (no, that isn't a nonsensical grammatical error; there really are like three plot twists that each hinge upon the one preceding it) that it's really hard to write about the movie without giving anything away and ruining it. What I can tell is that a group of kids played by a really likeable and talented cast (it should be mentioned that the entire cast, not just the kids, is talented and likeable) travel to an isolated cabin for a weekend of fun and get a whole lot more than they bargained for. There are a few scares and some gore along the way, but never at the expense of an intelligent plot and witty script. There are some twists and turns that we expect, but falling into those cliches isn't detrimental here as it would be in other movies; in fact it is more necessary than you might think... and I'm on the verge of saying too much. As much as i'd like to make this a full review, I really do fear giving too much away. So I'll say is that, for me, this is the early contender for movie of the year, and that you need to see it. Now. C'thulu... I mean, um... God knows I'll be seeing it again soon.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Goodreads Book Review - Secret of the Dragon

Secret of the DragonSecret of the Dragon by Margaret Weis

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Honestly, I wasn't that big a fan of the first book of this series, Bones of the Dragon. A large part of that was due to just how completely unlikeable the main character Skylan is.  Secret of the Dragon is, in my opinion, miles better because of the transformation Skylan undergoes. In fact, it's so much better that, in retrospect, it makes me look much more favorably on Bones of the Dragon. The things Skylan and his warriors go through make up a sort of modern Spartacus adventure, and it's a fun read. The storyline with the new character Chloe is a sort of cliche, but it's handled well enough to make it enjoyable and even touching anyway. The last hundred pages or so are so thrilling I could barely make myself put the book down. Whereas after reading Bones of the Dragon, I was considering abandoning this planned six-volume story before it got started, after reading Secret of the Dragon I find I can't wait for the next installment.

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Thursday, April 12, 2012

A Tale of Two Sequels

I'm sure you've noticed that one of the big rages in Hollywood over the last few years has been sequels. It seems like there's always a "2" or "Part 3" or "Whatever 7" coming out. This past weekend, I saw two sequels, and thought I'd use this opportunity to stretch my reviewing muscles just a bit.

Wrath of the Titans

Wrath of the Titans is the sequel to the 2010 remake, Clash of the Titans, which is actually the first thing I ever really blogged about (in a column for the now defunct "Heckling from the Balcony," an article that can be found here). One of the things I've often said about the remake is that it really is a hideous abortion of a movie. If that's the case, then its sequel is a horribly botched abortion that should never have been attempted in the first place. I would love to give you a complete recap of how awful it is, but it couldn't hold my attention well enough for me to be able to tell you that. I can tell you that, just like Clash, the only good thing about Wrath are the visual effects, but the action scenes are just as muddled and incoherent, the acting might be even worse (Sam Worthington is a bad choice for a lead actor; he does have some talent, I've seen it in other movies where he's a supporting character, but he lacks both the necessary amounts of talent and charisma to carry a film himself), and the plot is just a mess. The only explanation for why Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes would come back to this series would have to involve what I can only assume is one hell of a paycheck. How a third installment in this series is already being written is beyond me.

American Reunion

Maybe it was the nostalgia, but I absolutely loved this movie. The first movie in the series since 2003's American Wedding (and the first to feature the entire cast since 2001's American Pie 2), I thought American Reunion featured the same perfect blend of humor and heart that has been the signature characteristic of the whole series. Not the most talented cast in the world, they still pull their jobs off well, being funny as hell in the comedy and convincing enough in the heart-warming aspects. Sure, the actual reunion is sort of given short shrift, only taking up the last fifteen minutes or so; it doesn't matter though, as the real reunion is between the characters that, if you're like me, you've grown up with, and that starts off right away. One of the themes of the movie is that life goes on and things change, but that it's still nice to be able to look back and fondly remember the past... and a fond look back is exactly what this movie is.