Teasing Star Wars

November 28, 2014 on 4:43 pm | In Uncategorized | No Comments

This morning was an exciting morning to be a Star Wars fan.

The first teaser trailer for Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens was posted online. The short teaser doesn’t show much. A few shots of characters and locations (one familiar location, no familiar characters). But by the last shot, where the greatest spaceship in the galaxy loops and rolls over a desert planet, I was drooling for more.

This teaser reminds me of 16 years ago, when the teaser trailer for Episode I was released. That was also exciting to have new Star Wars material for the first time in a long time. That teaser gave a lot more away than the Episode VII trailer does. But times sure are different. Back then, I was in my dorm room, downloading a video file that was about 20 Megs large. The source was some guy’s camcorder from inside a movie theater. Even though the official version of the trailer was released shortly thereafter and has been available on DVDs and YouTube for some time, I think I watched that poor quality AVI file more than any other version.

Here’s the Phantom Menace trailer (the official) version for comparison:

Next to the Episode VII teaser, this is practically a full-length feature. It has dialogue, multiple locations, familiar characters. And it’s about double the length.

To me, while the Episode I trailer felt like Star Wars, after seeing today’s trailer, I can say that the Episode VII one is Star Wars. And the appearance of a certain hunk of junk may have something to do with that.

When Kids Correctly Identify Cultural Artifacts

November 23, 2014 on 12:10 pm | In Hope, Luke | No Comments

Earlier this morning, I was at the computer, mesmerized by the following image, purportedly from the trailer of Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens:

I asked Hope if she knew what it was. Her reply was immediate: “The Millennium Falcon!”

To which Luke, who was in the next room, responded: “Han Solo!”

Days like this I feel like I’m doing the parenting thing right.

Weezer: Everything Will Be Alright In The End

October 7, 2014 on 12:02 am | In The Rock & Other Listening Material | No Comments

Everything Will Be Alright In The End CoverI’m like most Weezer fans in that the band’s first two albums are my favorite. While I love their remaining six albums, there’s just something about 1994’s The Blue Album and 1996’s Pinkerton that just gets me.

The Blue Album was the first album I heard where I felt like I had something in common with the performer. As for Pinkerton, as a (then) college student, I could relate to it on a whole different level.

Weezer has released a bunch of solid albums since then, but their latest album, Everything Will Be Alright In The End is their first since Pinkerton to feel like the songs all matter to the band. This is an album about something- the songs are about relationships and how everything we build eventually goes away. These are songs written and performed by men with families, writing from that point of view. There’s a concept behind the album and if you’re paying attention, you can see it. As a grown man with a family, I can relate to these themes and songs. As a Weezer fan, it’s always wonderfulto have an album full of great, rocking songs. But it’s even better to be able to relate to the songs.

The album’s first single Back to the Shack has been on available since July. While it’s a decent song, it is by far the album’s low point. It’s an important statement with a great riff, but the other songs are just better.

Take for instance, Lonely Girl, which sounds like it could have been on 2001’s The Green Album, but wasn’t held back by that album’s production choices. Or opener Ain’t Got Nobody, a classic Weezer-sounding rock gem with discernible structure. The album has two historically themed songs, The British Are Coming and Cleopatra, which are both great songs in their own right. The album seemingly ends on Foolish Father, which is the most emotionally deep song Weezer has done since Pinkerton. But after Foolish Father is a three-song mostly instrumental suite, The Futurescope Trilogy which closes out the album with guitar solo after guitar solo.

In a lot of ways, this is the album Weezer fans have been waiting for since 1996. But for those of us who have enjoyed the albums between then and now, it’s nice to have something that takes the good things from those albums and improves on them.

I could close this out with an Everything Will Be Alright In The End style pun. But this isn’t the end for Weezer. And everything will be more than alright.

Star Wars Episode VII: The [Spoiler] In Space

July 21, 2014 on 11:08 pm | In Uncategorized | No Comments

Over the weekend, an interesting rumor made its way around the Internet about the plot about Star Wars Episode VII.

Continue reading Star Wars Episode VII: The [Spoiler] In Space…

A Public Service Announcement From “Weird Al” Yankovic

July 15, 2014 on 11:29 pm | In The Rock & Other Listening Material | 1 Comment

It’s an exciting time in the world of music here at the Kingdom.

Weezer is months away from releasing their tenth ninth album. And the greatest musical genius of our or any other time, “Weird Al” Yankovic has just released his latest album.

To promote the album, Yankovic is releasing a video a day over the next week. While I’m unfamiliar with most of the source material, the songs are pretty, pretty good- especially today’s offering, Word Crimes. Word Crimes, based on some song I’ve never heard before, should be required viewing for anyone over the age of seven using a keyboard.

I write and edit the work of others for a living, so the song hits close to home. I know I’ve been guilty of several transgressions here at the Kingdom, but if there’s a lesson from this song, it’s just try and get it right. However, between Word Crimes and the recently leaked CIA Style Book I’ve been on quite a grammar kick lately.

24: Live Another Day – The End?

July 14, 2014 on 10:10 pm | In 24 | No Comments

Despite not writing much the past few weeks about this different season of 24, I’ve really enjoyed 24: Live Another Day.

Multiple changes, including an overseas location, taking four years off and a 12-hour format were good for this show. The return of Cheng as the main villain was a nice touch, as well as Jack’s way of dealing with him at the end. And the last hour was powerful, especially revolving around the death of Audrey (a character I could have done without during previous seasons). We saw two different reactions to her death- that of Jack and that of her father. But what really sold the death was Heller’s next day conversation with the English Prime Minister prior to boarding Air Force One.

As far as everything that happened after that, the ending reminded me a lot of the end of Season Five nine years ago. I’m still puzzled why the Russians want Jack. The were involved in a plot to assassinate the Prime Minister of Whateverastan and destabilize the Middle East peace process and Jack simply kept some of their operatives from making matters worse. This isn’t the first time we got a silent clock for Jack. And I have a feeling Jack will return, which, in a departure from my feelings four years ago, is a good thing.

All I ask is that the next season not be anything like Season Six.

Happy Birthday Luke!

June 29, 2014 on 6:59 pm | In Luke | No Comments

With Luke turning two, I’ve noticed myself comparing where he is now to where Hope was when he was born. This isn’t a bad thing. She was only two months older than he is now and they’re similar in a lot of ways.

She was starting to put together sentences. He’s stringing together words. She was very aware of people and places. We can’t go anywhere with Luke without him pointing out the nearest set of train tracks.

And just as interesting as what they have in common at this stage, what’s next for him is just as exciting. Right after Luke was born, we started potty training Hope. This is definitely something in Luke’s near future. And every day, he’s becoming more and more of a little boy. It’s been a fun two years, but what comes next is even more exciting.

Luke turns two.

The CIA Agent in the Boot

June 2, 2014 on 11:24 pm | In 24 | No Comments

The most competent, loyal person officially associated with the U.S. Government spent tonight’s episode of 24 locked in a boot.

That’s trunk for my American readers.

I’m really liking this season of 24. But things aren’t looking so great for the Americans here. As I mentioned, CIA Agent Kate Morgan (also known as Agent Sarah Walker Bartowski) spent most of the episode in a trunk. That’s some reward for a character who is loyal and gets things done.

Her superiors, while more comfortable are actually doing more to hinder those who wish to thwart the terrorist.

Her boss, CIA Station Chief Steve Navarro is a by-the-book operative who in the last minutes of the episode has been shown to be this season’s mole (even if his mole-ness doesn’t directly relate to the main storyline).

His boss, White House Chief of Staff Mark Boudreau, is an ambitious careerist who only has his position because he’s married to the President’s daughter (he spent three years nursing her back to health!). He’s a cowardly weasel who is clearly jealous of his wife’s relationship to Jack.

His boss, President James Heller, once survived a hostage situation, drove his car off a cliff and I’m pretty sure he throat-punched Jack once. But he has been showing signs of Alzheimer’s and has been getting more feeble as the season goes on.

So these are Jack’s options for backup. And the English aren’t doing much better. James Bond must have been staking out Blofeld’s lair because the MI-6 squad sent in to shadow Jack nearly made a mess out of his whole operation.

Further, it looks like another country’s going to get involved, with Mark selling Jack out to the Russians. Someone remind me- why are the Russians pissed with Jack? Was it because he revealed they were behind the assassination of a head of state in an attempt to disrupt relations between two other sovereign states last season? That’s some real moral high ground the Russians have.

Still, it’s an enjoyable season. So far, it looks like whatever Navarro’s involved in is the one “this doesn’t have anything to do with the main story” plotline this season. And it beats a cougar. That’s all I can ask.

 

Jack Bauer Vs. The D-Word

May 26, 2014 on 11:30 pm | In 24 | No Comments

On tonight’s episode of 24 the head honcho of the London CIA office told Agent Sarah Walker Bartowski her case was being sent up to Division.

Now there’s a word we’ve not heard in a long time.

Back in the early years of 24, that one word, one concept would shake CTU to its core. Division was responsible for annoying characters like Ryan Chapelle, Alberta Greene and Bill Buchanan (the only division-related character who didn’t completely mess everything up). You can talk about your terrorists controlling drones, or your embassy riots, but nothing has terrified me so much this season as the prospect of Division returning.

Overall, tonight’s episode was a rather light one, with the exception of Jack’s meeting the President and later Audrey. I can see President Heller meeting Terror Mom version Two’s demands, showing up in a location of her choosing with Jack by his side. After all, he’s the same character who was almost assassinated live on the Internet back in season four and drove off a cliff in season five.

As for Jack’s reunion with Audrey, I think we all know her answers to his questions by her refusal to answer them. Jack’s not going to get turned over to the Russians, but I’m not entirely sure he ends up with Audrey again.

A Comic Book Fan’s Reward

May 25, 2014 on 12:11 am | In Uncategorized | No Comments

I spent a lot of time in comic book stores growing up.

My favorite book was The Uncanny X-Men (and this was back in the day when there was only one X-title), and I didn’t get those people who were into the Avengers or Superman (and I didn’t know anyone who read the Fantastic Four). I would strike up conversations with the staff at these stores, looking for cheap back issues with good stories. One day, a clerk at the Jim Hanley’s Universe in the Staten Island Mall suggested I read a trade paperback reprinting what he called “the best storyline ever,” Days of Future Past.

I didn’t follow his advice immediately- the book was a bit more expensive than my usual purchases and the cover, featuring Wolverine (who I did not appreciate at the time) didn’t make me want to buy the book. It took a few months, but one day I purchased it. I started reading it on the car ride home on a hot summer day. My father stopped at the grocery store to pick something up and I was so entranced by the book that I asked to stay in the car so I can finish it.

It was a short, two-issue story that blew my mind. It was my first real experience reading about time travel (I read this before I understood Back to the Future, and the original story was published before the release of any of the Terminator movies) and alternate futures. And since then, I’ve become a fan of things like BTTF, Lost and Doctor Who, all of which feature time travel.

All these years later, I still consider myself an X-Men fan. I don’t read the books on as frequent a basis as I used to. And I think that the movie series is the best film franchise based on a comic book (even including the lackluster X3) (a bit of a side note: part of me does wish that comic books were this popular when I was growing up, although, I feel like a hipster saying I was into them back before everyone else was), so naturally when I heard the next X-Men movie would be based on Days of Future Past, I was elated. And I was right to be happy about it- the movie was a great blending of the two timestreams. It adapted the source material well (even if it had to make some changes for practicality sake) and the surprises at the end were very rewarding.

I do have two minor complaints about the movie and they both involve the same character, Colossus, who was my favorite X-Man growing up:

  • When in armored form, Colossus’ hair is supposed to be black (and it was in the other movies), but it was silver in DOFP.
  • In the movie, Colossus dies twice. The first one hurt enough. The second time was just rubbing it in.

Despite those quibbles, if I were able to project my consciousness in the past, the me of 20 years ago would be very happy with these movies. Even if I would have been surprised that good comic book movies existed.

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