Stormtrooper Terry

Stormtrooper Terry

Monday, March 31, 2014

Mets Monday: Opening Day 2014

Play ball! Baseball season is once again upon as as my beloved, beleaguered New York Mets kicked off their season with a game against the Washington Nationals. As in years past, I'm going to say now I hope to write more Monday blogs about the Mets throughout the course of the season. I'm not sure how successful I'll be at sticking with that; I have a nagging suspicion my success will be in no small way linked to just how successful the Metsies' own efforts are...

Today, however, rather than talking about that fairly disgusting loss we suffered today, I wanted to keep things simple and, aside from this introduction, just join my team in celebrating the life of our legendary broadcaster, Ralph Kiner. I got on him in recent years because let's be honest, legendary or not, the man should have been forced into retirement years ago, but that doesn't matter. What matters is that for decades he was the entertaining voice of the Mets, and for that he'll be loved and remembered.

So c'mon, Mets, let's see a few miracles this season.

For Ralph.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Goodreads Book Review - Dark Places

Dark PlacesDark Places by Gillian Flynn

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Having now finished reading Gillian Flynn's body of work, I can safely say I worry about her state of mind, because she has got some dark places of her own in her head. Good thing for us readers though, as those dark places have led to some really good books, and this is no exception, although it is in my opinion the weakest of the three. The bouncing around from first person narration to multiple third person point of views is interesting but also off-putting; getting really into one point of view only to have it switch on a cliffhanger and not go back to that section for awhile can be a little distracting. Also, all the characters in the book are a little rough and hard to like, but that isn't always a bad thing as it makes them feel a bit more real, because let's face it, most people aren't always the easiest to like. The story itself was an interesting one with plenty of twists, most of them good and hard to predict, including the ending, which, while not out of nowhere when you look back at it, was still too coincidental. I can't say anymore without spoilers. I would definitely recommend this one to fans of her other books.

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Monday, March 17, 2014

Goodreads Book Review - Sharp Objects

Sharp ObjectsSharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm going to have to keep this mercifully (for me, and maybe you) short because I'm not feeling very well. I'm starting to really like Flynn's writing; he way she gets into her main character's head through her first-person narration is terrific. What makes it better is that she still manages to give her other characters great characterization, something not every writer can pull off in a first-person novel. I also really enjoyed how I thought early on I had the killer picked only to have her fool me once and then fool me again back to my original thought. A very clever, entertaining read.

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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Goodreads Book Review - Redshirts

RedshirtsRedshirts by John Scalzi

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is an interesting book, not just for the story itself but for its framework, but we'll get to that bit later. The majority of the story is a bit of a send-up of sci-fi TV show conventions, specifically Star Trek. In that regard, it's brilliant. It's entertaining and witty and made me laugh out loud quite a bit. The twists in the story and how the whole thing is resolved are clever as well, especially in how one trope of the genre is solved by another. A flaw to the main story is that none of the characters have a distinct voice or personality; they all pretty much sound exactly the same and if their names weren't used in dialogue it would be impossible to tell them apart and know who was speaking to who. It dawns on me that that might be a conscious choice non Scalzi's part, another commentary of the nature of "redshirt" characters, but if it is a conscious decision, it feels off to me. It would be like he was reinforcing the very trope he was lampooning. Either way, that lack of individuality doesn't work for me. The other interesting part of the book is the codas; there are three of them and aside from the first one they are written in completely different styles and tones than the rest of the book (the first coda is also written in a different style, but the tone is the same). I won't say what the codas are about to avoid obvious spoilers, but it's an interesting structure as the codas combine to make up about a third of the book. So yes, flaws aside, this is an interesting and fun read that I'd recommend to sci-fi fans.

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Thursday, March 6, 2014

Goodreads Book Review - Star Wars: Scourge

Scourge (Star Wars)Scourge by Jeff Grubb

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This wasn't one of my favorite Star Wars novels, but it was serviceable. None of the usual characters appear at all, which is a refreshing change; as much as I love the regular cast, there is only so much that can be expected to happen to them. With new characters, on the other hand, the sky is the limit in terms of the growth they can go through... which is part of why this book disappointed me a bit. The author gives us a fresh cast of characters and of them all, only one actually goes through anything and comes out the other side changed. The rest stay static, and in some cases are just cardboard cutouts of characters to begin with. The Hutt characters are fun, but even there the problem persists. The mystery is nice, though; I for one didn't put it together and figure out the bad guy's identity until pretty close to the end. The action scenes are decent, probably better than can be expected for a Jedi story featuring a Jedi who barely ever uses any of his powers and isn't all that swift with a lightsaber, either. SO like I said, I found it to be a serviceable book, but I don't think it said the world... this one or any other... on fire.

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Monday, March 3, 2014

2014 Oscars Scorecard

Well folks, the Academy Awards have come and gone and it is once again time to see how all my predictions panned out. But first, a bit about the show itself. I didn't enjoy Ellen Degeneres as host all that much. Yes, she made me laugh a few times but for the most part she felt like a lot of pointless filler, like all that pizza nonsense. Without all that crap the show might have ended on time for once. And yes, I know the stuff the host does is pretty much just filler crap every year, but some of it is more worthwhile than others. I did like the bit with the record-setting Twitter selfie.

Anyway, how'd I do on the scorecard? Out the total twenty-four categories, I got twelve right for a respectable .500. Not great, but when you consider I didn't see any of the animated shorts, live shorts, or documentaries, it could have been worse.

Out of the big ten that I predicted in my blog post last week though, I got a much more respectable seven out of ten, for a .700 average.

I knew Frozen would deservedly get Best Animated and I knew Let It Go would ride its coattails to Best Song. Although let's be honest, the song itself wasn't that great and wouldn't have been nearly as popular if someone other than Idina Menzel had sang it.

Yeah, I said it. Big whoop. You wanna fight about it?

Or Adele Dazeem. Whoever.

Hooked on Phonics clearly did not work for Johnny T.

I split the screenplay categories, nailing Her for original but picking The Wolf of Wall Street over 12 Years a Slave for adapted. I hit both supporting actor categories, which were both pretty obvious locks, and I got director and best picture as well. Again, fairly obvious locks. So other than Adapted Screenplay, which did I get wrong?

The two lead actor categories. I was caught completely by surprise by Cate Blanchett winning out over Streep, Dench, or Bullock for actress. I wasn't as surprised by the actor result; while I figured Chiwetel to have a lock on things, I thought Matthew McConaughey had an outside chance and was pleasantly surprised to see him win, because he was brilliant in Dallas Buyers Club. And just to touch on it, I've seen a lot of people saying they thought his speech was a little too arrogant or self-aggrandizing with the bit about himself in the future always being his own hero. My take on it is that coming from any other actor, it would have been. But coming from him and the way he's turned his career around in the last year or two, surprising everyone with just how good he suddenly is, I think it was perfect. Although for the record I think Jared Leto gave my favorite speech of the night.

So there we go. I think this year might have been my most successful in terms of predictions. We'll wait to next year to see if I can improve that. Anyone else want to share how they did and what they thought of the show and the results? Meanwhile, I guess it's time to start watching the next crop of contenders!