Stormtrooper Terry

Stormtrooper Terry

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Goodreads Book Review - Mr. Mercedes

Mr. Mercedes (Bill Hodges Trilogy, #1)Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I know there are a lot of complaints about King's writing out there: it's repetitive, he isn't any good at endings, whatever. You can say whatever you want about those negatives and more, but one thing you can't say is that he isn't great at characters and characterization. He makes you care about his characters and what happens to them by really letting you into their lives, and that is a talent of his that is on full display in Mr. Mercedes. It's something different for King, a straight-up noir-style detective story without any supernatural elements at all, and he kills it. Obviously none of the aforementioned repetitiveness is there, although there are allusions to past works and themes. it's a fresh story, not at all hurt by being set a few years ago. The characters are vibrant and endearing, and consequently the horror that sets in when something is about to happen to them is more real. The only complaint I've ever heard about King novels that can still be applied here is that he doesn't stick the landing. The ending left me a bit disappointed, not so much in how it ends but how it unfolds, more specifically who is left out of the action and who plays too small a part in it. That's all I'll say for fear of spoilers, but if you want an engrossing read, this is the book for you.


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Friday, September 25, 2015

Panel of the Week: 9/16/15

My trek to get caught up with this damn column continues. Pickings have been slim lately, though, which is why we end up getting a Star Wars winner two installments in a row... it has nothing to do with the thematic connection to this blog in its entirety, I promise. Anyway, the winner for week mentioned above comes from Marvel's Star Wars ongoing, issue #9 of the series, written by Jason Aaron and drawn by Stuart Immonen.


C-3PO and Chewbacca have both had fairly limited presences in the series so far, so it's great to see them start getting featured. And Immonen's art here is just perfect, from the Threepio's stance to how fierce the agitated Chewie is, with his bowcaster. The snippet of Aaron's dialogue in the lines he's written for Goldenrod there show you how well he knows the characters' voices too. Bottom line is that it's a great picture from a great series perfect for Star Wars fans.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Time Heals All Wounds

Time heals all wounds. Until it's a year later and the wound is still raw, this is. But I suppose that's where someone says it just hasn't been enough time yet. Which I suppose is true; also true is that it's been 365 days since my grandmother passed away, and it definitely hasn't been enough time yet. The wound isn't healed. I don't know if it ever will be. And there are some things even time can never change.

While people's individual knowledge of the details vary, it's no secret that my family life definitely had its ups and downs while I grew up, more so than most. People who were supposed to be there weren't, in so many ways. They were always in different states than me, either in the physical sense or in an altered, drunken state kind of sense. But the one person who was always there, who was never too bombed or too gone, was my grandmother. Whatever I needed, she provided if it was at all within her power. And if she couldn't provide it, well, more often than not she made me realize it was something I didn't need, I never really appreciated it growing up; I was always too angry or depressed over what I didn't have to see what I did. And as I got older and "wiser" and realized what I had, I still never really appreciated it because I told myself it was about what I didn't have, not what I had.

In short, I was an idiot.

I fought with my grandmother a lot, right up until the last time I saw her before she went into the hospital. Sure, that time we fought because she wasn't eating enough and I was trying to get her to eat more because I was worried, but I didn't have to be an asshole about it. I spent too much time fighting with her and not enough time making sure she knew I loved her, and that she was the rock I could always lean on, and that I was forever grateful to her for everything she ever gave me, and I should be, because she gave me everything.

With how fast she deteriorated once she was in the hospital, just how deep the cancer no one knew was there had sunk in, she must have been sick for quite a while. I've come to believe she hung on as long as she could, until she was sure I'd be okay without her. She waited until I found someone I love with all my heart, someone who loves me just as much in return. Someone I could make a life of my own with. My grandmother's final gift to me was waiting until I'd be okay without her.

But it's a gift I wish she never gave, because I'm not okay without her. The life I've made since she's been gone is great, but it's bittersweet without her here to see it. I wish she could be here to see how happy my girlfriend are together, sharing our life, living together. I wish she could see the great job I've gotten and how happy I am now. I wish my happiness could have come sooner, so that she could be here to see it, to enjoy the fruit of all her hard work. Because there's no mistaking the fact I wouldn't be where I am without her.

I guess that's what's important; the guilt, the pain, the loss, that's all stuff that time will eventually heal, no matter how long it takes. But who I am is down to her. That will never change with time. Neither will how much she loved me, and how much I loved her.

I miss you, Grandma. I didn't say it enough, but thanks for everything. I love you.

Let time march on.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Panel of the Week: 9/9/15

One day I'll be closer to caught up with this than two weeks behind, I swear. This will be a brief entry because I've got some stuff on my mind (which might become clear in a post tomorrow if I can turn my thoughts into anything approaching coherent). What I will tell you is that the winner for this installment comes from Star Wars: Journey to the Force Awakens - Shattered Empire. Written by Greg Rucka, the title is a clunker but the art by Marco Checchetto is anything but:


The panel in question is the lightsaber duel, but I had to include the whole page for obvious reasons, part of which is that I love how the action of the Rebel Alliance X-Wing bisects the page and panels. Aside from that, it's just a beautifully drawn image in a book full of great art. This series might just make Checcetto a star.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Goodreads Book Review - Star Wars: Aftermath

Aftermath (Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens)Aftermath by Chuck Wendig




A long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, in a world different than our own, Aftermath is a book about what happens to Luke, Leia, Han, and everyone else after RotJ. It's an exciting book about taking the fight to the Empire after that stirring victory, and it features character development and action and memorable new villains. Unfortunately, in our world it's a book where, aside from an interlude that doesn't affect the story at all featuring Han and Chewie,the most relevant SW characters are a wounded Wedge who needs rescuing and an Admiral Ackbar who doesn't do much else except wonder if it's a trap or not. I kid you not. The Empire and the New Republic, formerly the Rebel Alliance, are in a Cold War kind of state, neither side willing to make a move that might risk something. Is is logical and realistic? Maybe, but it's a ridiculously boring state of affairs to read about. I know, it sounds like I'm judging the book based on what I wanted it to be and not what it is, so here's what I think about what it is. Instead of an action-filled plot with heroic characters, we get a boring state of affairs where the chapter often cuts ends in the middle of an action scene just to pick up again after the action is over, the whole thing centered around completely unlikeable characters. And if that wasn't bad enough, any momentum the book might occasionally pick up is derailed by random interludes between chapters that, like the aforementioned Han and Chewie bit, have nothing to to with the book's plot. Apparently this is the first book in a trilogy so maybe those bits will be picked up on next time, but nothing about this book made me want to read the next part to see if that happens. Other than the comics from Marvel, this was my first foray into the new canon, and all it inspired me to do is find an old EU book I never read before and pick that up instead of whatever is next here...



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Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Panel of the Week: 9/2/15

I'm almost all caught up. So close. Anyway, the winner for September 9th reaches back a bit to the winner from two weeks ago, a panel that one in part because of how it used a sound effect as part of the panel to make the page tell a whole story. This week's winner is very similar:


It comes from Groot #4 (yes, that Groot, obviously), written by Jeff Loveness and drawn by Brian Kessinger. When it was first announced that Groot was getting his own series, I wondered how the hell they'd manage to tell entire issues of story starring a character who's vocabulary is a whopping three words. In this example, the answer to that question is, "very cleverly." Groot has to convince another character that the universe is worth fighting for, and while he only has three words to use, he manages to express all the things he loves about the universe in those three words. It's schlocky, sure, but it's also a beautiful image.

Even if it chock full of replacement characters instead of the real things... but that's a debacle for another time.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

The 2015 Fall Season

Yep, it's that time of year again! TV shows are about to begin anew, and as always my crazy ass just sat here and created a spreadsheet listing all the shows I plan on watching this season, when they start, what time they're on, and on top of that a color-coded guide to what channel. Partly I do this because people seem to love it (if you look at the list of posts to the left there, you'll see that last year's installment is ranked on the top ten most popular posts I've done) and also partly because I'm getting old and between that and all the cumulative booze of my lifetime I just can't remember all this shit anymore.

Side note: I just noticed this is my 92nd post this year, which equals my total from last year, so I guess I'm well on my way to breaking my record number of posts in a year, which is 100. But that's a topic for another time.

Now it's time for what you're here to see!

You really should click to enlarge. Have mercy on your eyes.

One thing that jumps out right away? That's a lot of fucking television. 27 shows total, which is about 8 more than last year. But a few got left off the list last year that I remembered to include this year, and 9 of these shows are new ones: Into the Badlands, The Muppets, Supergirl, The Bastard Executioner, Scream Queens, Best Time Ever with Neil Patrick Harris, Limitless, Heroes Reborn, and Angel from Hell, so who knows how many of them will be sticking around, either because I hate them or the network does. Either way the schedule will probably clear up.

But then there are the mid-season replacements...

Anyway, as always now I'll turn it over to you, my scarcely existing readers! What are you watching? What should I be watching that I'm not? Hit the comments, let's talk about it.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Goodreads Book Review - Vengeance of the Iron Dwarf

Vengeance of the Iron DwarfVengeance of the Iron Dwarf by R.A. Salvatore
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I feel like my Salvatore reviews tend to get pretty repetitive. Praise the action scenes, praise the characters, mention how much it left me looking forward to the next one, wash, rinse, repeat. And all of those things apply to my thoughts on this installment in the Legend of Drizzt. My problem with this book, however, is the separation of some of the main characters. After a series of books in which most of the characters we've come to know and love are dead and gone, they're brought back and reunited, giving us a chance to once again enjoy the characters and camaraderie we've come to expect from the Companions of the Hall... and instead we get a book in which Wulfgar and Regis only share a half-page scene with the other characters, a situation furthermore worsened by how much time Drizzt spends away from Bruenor and Catti-brie, especially during the climactic battle and long, drawn out battles that follow. It leads to a book that isn't as good as the two in this series that preceded it, but with its promise of a focus on Gromph in Archmage left me waiting for the next installment anyway.


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Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Panel of the Week: 8/26/15

Continuing my ride on the "getting caught up" train, here's my second of these in a row. Yesterday I posted the previous week's winner, one that involved, among other things, a creative mix of sound effect and panel placement. The next winner as no such technical merit, but instead was selected just for complete absurdity. It comes from Spider-Woman #10, by writer Dennis Hopeless and artist Natacha Bustos:


Hulk cows.

I'm not even going to explain this one. Or praise it. Or say anything else at all, really. I'll just let the (awesome?) absurdity speak for itself.

Hulk cows.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Panel of the Week: 8/19/15

Yeah, I know; I'm ridiculously behind on these. Don't worry, I plan on getting all caught up this week. Anyway. In the last post in this series, I fairly well excoriated DC for being absolutely ridiculous. So it's no surprise given how life works that they'd turn around and win the title in a good way with a great piece of art:


The full-page piece of awesomeness in question comes from Justice League #43, written by Geoff Johns and drawn by Jason Fabok. It's the third chapter of the ongoing Darkseid War storyline, and the image captures the arrival of that titular figure to the battlefield. It's a full-page image of the great embodiment of evil superimposed over panels of his mighty army shaped in the form of a horizontal "boom" the sound the boom tube makes, which signifies his arrival. The entire page, wonderfully drawn by Fabok (who, for me, seems to throw back to the great artists of the 90's like Jim Lee and Michael Turner, with all of their strengths but, so far at least, none of the excessive weaknesses they fell into that signify that era in comic art) conveys the power and horrible majesty of the lord of Apokolips. The art in the entire issue is great, but this panel takes the cake.

Ugh. It pains me to praise DC this much...

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Goodreads Book Review - Doctor Who: Touched by an Angel

Doctor Who: Touched By An AngelDoctor Who: Touched By An Angel by Jonathan Morris
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm two in a row on good Doctor Who novels. Prior to this book I read The Silent Stars Go By, by Dan Abnett. While I enjoyed that book more, Morris' novel here is a very enjoyable one as well. The characters are written "correctly," meaning their voices ring true to what you'd expect based on their TV show personas. The story is touching and emotional, as some of the best Doctor Who stories are, and it features one of my favorite Who villains, the Weeping Angels.  I'm not sure offhand when this came out in relation to when episodes of the show aired, but whether it came before or after the episode, there's a nice bit of foreshadowing for the Angels Take Manhattan episode that tugged on my heartstrings a little bit. I could definitely see this being a probably two-part episode of the series, which is fairly hefty praise when you think about it.


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