To any readers that frequent this blog, I apologize for being away the last couple months. Mostly as a result of my fatherly duties, it’s become harder to make time for writing my posts. So for the foreseeable future, I will be stepping away from the blogosphere. I don’t plan on leaving for good, just for a little while. Thank you to anyone who still drops by. I hope to see you again when I come back.
Loot Crate Unboxing – December 2015
Yes, yes, I’m behind on my postings. I know this, and extend my sincere apologies to any consistent, loyal readers I may have left. For now, we move on to the unboxing of the December Loot Crate: Galaxy.
Beginning on the left, we have a very cool tin from A Crowded Coop. It’s done in the style of the ammunition tins used by UNSC soldiers and Spartans in the Halo universe. The graphics on the tin are very impressive and proudly show the UNSC logo. Actually, most of the items from the crate were inside this tin for shipping purposes. It was kind of like a double unboxing this month. Another piece of loot was even tied specifically to this one: a code for a REQ Pack to use in the Halo 5: Guardians game. I don’t have the game yet, but look forward to using it once I get in on the action.
I don’t have any of the Level Up perks, so it’s been a while since I got a cool pair of socks from Looting HQ. This month’s socks do not disappoint, featuring everyone’s new favorite droid from a galaxy far, far away: BB-8! Having seen the movie, I can say (without spoilers) that he’s pretty awesome. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, what are you waiting for?!
I’ll be honest. I’m not overly into the whole ‘ugly Christmas sweater’ thing, but this ugly sweater t-shirt from the Loot Crate Labs is rather splendid. It features highlights of our solar system and space program, as well as what I’m guessing to be either a Mars rover or the rover that NASA landed on a freakin’ comet this (last) year!! While it arrived too late for most of the holiday parties of December, it is much appreciated for the holiday season next (this) year.
Never give up, never surrender! The mantra of Commander Peter Quincy Taggart of the NSEA Protector in the movie Galaxy Quest. While the movie does riff on Star Trek and its fans, it does so in a way that makes for a great movie that Trekkies can appreciate. I should know, as I am a Trekkie and love this movie. I’m stoked to have a prop replica of the logo patch worn by the Galaxy Quest crew. I look forward to adding it to my convention attire in some way. Also, apparently there’s spin off movie coming out in 2016? Please, don’t fail us Hollywood.
The last piece of loot (other than the button we get every month tied to the theme) now proudly adorns my desk at work. Like the BB-8 socks, this loot comes to us in conjunction with December’s release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Han Solo, (spoilers) in his snow gear, comes to us as a Loot Crate Exclusive Funko POP! bobble head. Naturally, he’s wielding his DL-44 blaster pistol, (spoilers) despite his new affinity for Chewie’s bowcaster.
Well, that wraps up another month of looting. What was your favorite loot from this (last) month? Are you continuing into the new year, or perhaps just getting started as a New Year’s Resolution? Leave a comment, and loot on!
Weird Al Wednesday – January 2016
Readers! Holy crap, Batman, how did 2016 sneak up so fast?! I apologize for my delays in posts, as the holidays proved to do the opposite of give me lots of time to write up some things. Well, it’s a new year, and the first Wednesday of that year (it’s still ~6:15pm as I write this), so let’s dive in with a song that sort of applies to all those holiday leftovers that should probably be gone by now: Foil from the album Mandatory Fun.
This is probably my favorite song from Al’s final contract album. It’s a fantastic parody of Lorde’s Royals song about everyone’s favorite metallic food cover. The first verse is more or less the kind of subject matter I expected when I first saw the title and listened to the song. The second verse? Well, that took a hard left turn into ‘what the hell is going on’ territory before finally arriving at it’s connection to foil. I actually laughed out loud when the second chorus started!
To me, this is one of the best examples in Al’s entire discography of his brilliance as a song writer. I would have loved to be in the meeting with the rest of his band the first time they talked about this. Honestly, were you wondering how he was going to make a three minute song about food storage that didn’t get old after the first verse? I know I was. Thankfully, this is Weird Al we’re talking about, so the writing was in good hands.
Let me know what you think of this song in the comments. Do you agree with me about how this song reflects on his career as a whole? What’s your favorite song from Mandatory Fun? Until next month, stay weird, my friends!
Weird Al Wednesday – December 2015
My apologies, dear readers. Thanksgiving and many hours devoted to Star Wars: Battlefront have put me a week behind, but I now present to you December’s Weird Al Wednesday! In honor of the holiday season, we have a fantastic song from the album Polka Party!
This song is full of nuances that tie it to the classic rock ‘n roll Christmas songs of the 1940s and 50s. Everything from the upbeat rhythms, to the bleating tenor saxophone is the same kind of thing you expect from songs like Jingle Bell Rock or Run Run Rudolph. It also pairs stylistically with the constant mindset of the 1950s and the threat of nuclear war. This pairing is brilliantly illustrated in this music video as the happy music is played against images of classic Christmas and classic paranoia.
Another reason I picked this song is how well it goes with one of the most popular games out there. It’s similar enough, stylistically, to the soundtrack for Bethesda’s Fallout 4 that it could easily be the Christmas song of the game. That also ties in my Unboxing of November’s Loot Crate, which features a Vault-Tec bobble head. I hope to enjoy the game whilst playing this song in the coming weeks, as I hope you will too. Merry Christmas to you and yours! Enjoy whatever holiday you celebrate this month, and remember to stay weird!
Loot Crate Unboxing – November 2015
Well, as with all things on this blog, I’m a behind schedule. As such, here’s is my post about the November Loot Crate! The theme for this (last) month is (was) combat. Ready? Fight!
Let’s start from the top, shall we? That seems a fitting place to begin, since the loot at the top is for the top of your body. Pairing really well with last year’s TMNT sunglasses from the August 2014 Heroes crate, we have a pair of sunglasses done up like the Turtles’ arch nemesis: the Shredder. The glasses are surprisingly comfortable for their overall size and are a great accessory to any leader of the Foot Clan needing to keep his eyes protected from the cursed day-star.
Up next, we have a couple pieces from Blizzard to tie into Blizzcon, which happened a few weeks ago. Both items are tied to the ‘Cute but Deadly’ line of characters from Blizzard’s 3 main titles (Diablo, Warcraft, and Starcraft). First, we have a sheet of magnets featuring villains from all three worlds. This gives us a good smattering of bad guys to put on the fridge, dryer, front door, or robot companion (provided we want him/her to break into folk songs). There is also a mystery vinyl figure with a few common characters to the magnets, but with a few different ones as well. I ended up with Arthas, who clearly never saw The Dark Knight. If this confuses you, watch the movie and pay attention to Harvey Dent’s dialogue.
I would like to preface this next item by saying that I do love Bethesda’s work on the Elder Scrolls games, but unfortunately, I have never had the pleasure of playing any of the Fallout games. That said, I am greatly looking forward to picking up Fallout 4 in the (hopefully) near future. I will finally understand how the Vault Boy ties in specifically with the game, beyond being the advertisement logo most associated with Fallout. I will then have a much greater appreciation for the exquisitely-crafted bobble head that came with this crate. Until then, it still makes a fine addition to my nerd swag decorating my living room.
My wife is the reason I have an appreciation for The Hunger Games trilogy. She read the first book and brought me along to see the movie. It’s a fantastic work of fiction, and cinema (to a slightly lesser degree). Unfortunately, I was unable to see the last installment of the films, but the Mockingjay pin in this month’s crate still makes a fine addition to my pin-covered convention bag. I have such an array of pins, that it’s getting to the point where I’m considering making a cosplay that’s armor made from those pins.
Lastly, we have an exclusive Street Fighter comic: Street Fighter: Hyper Looting. It looks to be an interesting read. It also joins the long list of comics that Loot Crate keeps bringing to Looters. I look forward to reading it. It seems to be about actual Loot Crate employees working with characters from Street Fighter to stop Shadaloo. This should be interesting.
That mostly wraps up the crate for November. Looters also received the usual theme button, as well as a few git tags for any loot that you may not enjoy yourself as much as a friend might. As December moves in, and Christmas (or whatever gift-giving holiday you celebrate) draws near, consider loot you’re less fond of as a potential gift to a friend. Enjoy your loot and have a happy holiday season!
Weird Al Wednesday – November 2015
Greetings, readers! Welcome to another installment of Weird Al Wednesdays! I can’t believe it’s already November. Where has the time gone? Ah, but let’s get back to it. This month’s choice was partially random, and partially influenced by my overly frequent lunch trips to Taco Bell. From the album Off the Deep End, we have the parody of Gerardo’s Rico Suave: Taco Grande.
I won’t begin to discuss how many different Mexican dishes this covers. I think nearly every Mexican restaurant I’ve been to has at least 95% of them on their menus. Man, I really shouldn’t have written this on an empty stomach. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it.
Admittedly, I quite enjoy Mexican food. My palette isn’t very sophisticated, and I don’t stray from what I know very often, but it’s rare for someone to suggest Mexican food and I say no. That might be why I like this song. Granted, the food parody is a path often traveled by Al throughout his career. However, that doesn’t lessen the impact of his food parodies. This particular food parody, though, is set apart by one simple fact: it doesn’t focus on American obesity. Most of Al’s food songs are about how rotund Americans are, and how much they obsess over food. This song is devoid of any mention of weight anywhere in this song. He does talk about eating all the food he can and even getting “a doggy bag if you wanna; you can finish it mañana.”
Unfortunately, we don’t have an official video for this song from Al. I think it would be hysterical to see Al dressed up like Gerardo in his Rico Suave video eating gobs of Mexican food. Oh, but the poor video girls that would undoubtedly end up covered in salsa. That could be quite painful on the sensitive areas, depending on the heat level.
I’m going to wrap things up for this month. What do you think of this song? Did it leave you hungry? Are you going out for Mexican now? Let me know in the comments, and until next month, stay weird!
Loot Crate Unboxing – October 2015
Hello, readers, and welcome to another Loot Crate Unboxing! This October, we have a special theme tied to a very special day. Since 10-21-15 is Back to the Future Day, the theme this month is – time.
More or less front and center, we have our first piece of loot. From the ever-more-popular folks at Funko POP!, we have a Loot Crate exclusive of Dr. Emmett Brown from Back to the Future. This is, in particular from the first movie. It’s the scene in which Marty is trying to get back to 1985 by using the lightning strike of the clock tower to power the DeLorean. Doc doesn’t quite have everything hooked up, so he gets the shock of his life. It’s a great scene from a great movie, and it’s excellently captured in this vinyl figure.
Speaking of excellent, we have a most excellent shirt this month featuring Bill S. Preston, Esquire, and Ted Theodore Logan of Wild Stallions. The main characters from the iconic 80’s movie Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, these two get some help from the future to pass their high school history final report. George Carlin shows up in a time traveling phone booth so the two can travel back to the past and pick up some of history’s greatest figures and bring them to modern (1989) San Dimas. If you haven’t seen the movie, it is a most excellent choice and has recently been on Netflix. Admittedly, I’m not sure if it’s still up, but if not, it’s worth it to just buy it.
Jumping back to the reason for the theme, we have a replica of a piece of technology that is close to practicality. From Back to the Future: Part II, we have a 1:8 hoverboard. It’s quite the display piece with it’s mirrored base to see the underside of the board. There is also a certificate of authenticity included with each board. Personally, I have the board on display in my living room with the Doc Brown vinyl figure standing atop it.
Next, we go back to that time traveling phone booth reference; well, sort of. The T.A.R.D.I.S. is actually a police box, not a phone box. We have a Sonic Spork, which is something that some versions of the Doctor might find ridiculous and others would find charming. I’m not exactly the biggest fan of Matt Smith’s/Peter Capaldi’s sonic. The design seems a bit clunky compared to Eccleston’s/Tennant’s or even the War Doctor’s sonics. Nonetheless, I will eat my various foods with this implement and quite enjoy myself.
That’s all for this month. Of course, we get the monthly button and it features the most important device to time travel ever invented in Hill Valley: the Flux Capacitor. It will look great next to all my other Loot Crate buttons on my convention bag. What was your favorite piece of loot this month? How are you displaying your swag? Are you looking forward to next month’s crate? I just saw today that the theme is Battle, and it may feature something from Contra. At any rate, it should be pretty cool. See you all next time!
Edit – the November theme is Combat, not Battle.
Growing Up Too Fast
This post was intended to be my third article in my New Jedi Order series of posts. I didn’t have the chance to write it until February 2015, and quaintjeremy has not yet had time to review it and get it posted. With his permission to copy my series over to my own blog, I now present the third installment of my review and thoughts on the book series.
It has been a long time now since last you heard from me. Between an over-demanding schedule at work, and an increased apathy after getting home from said schedule, I’ve been negligent even to my own personal blog. But, I am resolved to reactivate myself in the blogosphere. To that end, I return to a topic I began in August of last year: the death of Chewbacca.
Having examined Han’s reaction to his best friend’s passing, I wish now to look at Anakin Solo’s life after Chewie’s death. If you need a quick reminder of what’s going on, you might want to check out my first and second sci-fi posts for the Thoughts. The short version, Anakin was the one who decided the needs of the many out-weighed the needs of the one and leaves Chewbacca on the doomed world of Sernpidal, despite Han’s vehement protests.
After his father outright blames him for Chewie’s death, Anakin withdraws almost as much as Han from the world around him. The loss of his protector and friend hardens the young Solo’s resolve to do anything in his power to prevent the loss of any more close friends or relatives. Anakin becomes so focused on this ideal that he devotes himself to finding ways to fight back against the Yuuzhan Vong. In this pursuit, Anakin rediscovers the lost Jedi art of the battle meditation. The battle meditation does play a pivotal part in the war at various battles, but I will examine that another time.
After a time, Anakin even develops a vague “Vong-sense” after some alterations to his lightsaber made during his captivity on Yavin IV. Anakin is able to take his lightsaber and attune it with a lambent crystal inside. Lambents are living crystal used by Yuuzhan Vong as sources of artificial light. Anakin struggles through a lot of mental turmoil before getting the weapon to work. When he finally ignites the now purple blade, he realizes that attuning the lambent to the lightsaber has provided a sense of the Yuuzhan Vong similar to Force sense of other people, but to a lesser degree. To get Anakin to Yavin IV, however, I must digress.
Upon learning that the Yuuzhan Vong have targeted Yavin IV as their next target, Anakin charges off to the planet, against the counsel of his uncle, Luke Skywalker, to warn the Jedi Praxeum. This is where Luke has established his training center and home for young Jedi-to-be. However, Anakin arrives to find that the Peace Brigade, a collection of dissidents who side with the Yuuzhan Vong thinking they will be allowed to survive the takeover of the galaxy, have already begun an invasion of the planet. Anakin stays to fight, along with Tahiri and Ikrit, buying time for many of the children to escape.
During the fighting, Anakin’s long time friend and classmate, Tahiri Veila, is captured. Anakin is still haunted by his decision at Sernpidal and decides to go after her in a poorly-planned rescue attempt. He manages to get himself captured and is put to work as a slave with the Shamed Ones, the lowest caste of the Yuuzhan Vong’s society. Shamed ones are without honor and deemed cursed by the gods. Often they are Shamed by an implant not taking hold properly, or in the case of warriors, perform some act that strips them of their honor. I will look more specifically at Tahiri’s story another time.
Anakin is eventually able to convince one Shamed One, Vua Rapuung, to assist him in freeing Tahiri, after Rapuung tells Anakin that she will be shaped into a Yuuzhan Vong. During the ensuing Shamed uprising, Anakin and Rapuung fight side by side, instilling an ideal in the Shamed Ones that greatly affects the latter months of the war. Anakin does eventually rescue Tahiri, but he still doesn’t feel that he has atoned for his perceived sins.
Several months later, the Yuuzhan Vong have created creatures that are part vornskr, part fero xyn: voxyn. Voxyn are shaped and cloned for one purpose and that purpose is to hunt down and kill Jedi. The voxyn combine the Force-sensitivity and hunting skills of a vornskr with the even-more ferocious hunting skills of the fero xyn. Voxyn could smell Jedi through the Force and track them over great distances, even from one sensing the Jedi on other ships through the void of space. They possessed 8 legs, a poisonous scorpion-like talk, and could spit acid and produce sonic blast-wave screeches. These creatures were truly one of the most deadly adversaries the Jedi Order ever faced.
The Order was able to learn that the voxyn were all being cloned from a queen, who was being kept at the Yuuzhan Vong worldship in orbit around Myrkr. After losing several Jedi to the creatures, something had to be done to stop them. Most of the ordained Knights and Masters were occupied with other war efforts. So, a strike team of young Jedi was assembled, despite Luke’s misgivings, and sent on a mission to kill the voxyn queen.
Anakin Solo lead the strike team including his twin siblings, Jacen and Jaina Solo, Tahiri Veila, Tenel Ka, Lowbacca, Alema Rarr, and several other young Jedi. The strike team also included several YVH droids, and eventually included to Dark Jedi the team encountered on the worldship. The mission was successful, but at a great cost. All of the YVH droids were destroyed, and roughly half of the Jedi were killed, including Anakin.
The strike team was trapped in a corridor and being hunted by several dozen warriors and a few voxyn. While the two Dark Jedi stole the ship the strike team intended for their escape, a severely-wounded Anakin took it upon himself to fight off the warriors and buy time for the strike team to escape. He was determined that no more of his team would die on the mission and began to draw heavily on the Force during his fight. As he drew more of the Force into himself, Anakin began to glow and emit a brighter and brighter light. Pulling a thermal detonator to himself with the Force, he was able to kill the remaining voxyn chasing the team. Ultimately, the amount of Force energy Anakin drew into himself was of such magnitude, that he became one with the living Force and vanished in a blinding white light of pure Force energy.
It is my firm belief that Anakin would not have felt compelled to meet his end in such a manor had Chewbacca not died on Sernpidal. The death of someone so close to Anakin, combined with the subsequent deaths of other Jedi and innocents at the hands of the Yuuzhan Vong, pushed Anakin, and indeed all the young Jedi of the mission, to grow up too fast. They formed in their minds a responsibility that would normally befall persons much older than them. However, the culmination in his death at Myrkr was set in motion by the events and actions of Sernpidal’s destruction.
Tell me your thoughts on Anakin’s life and death in the comments below. May the Force be with you.
Weird Al Wednesday – October 2015
Hello, readers! I must apologize for being a week late. I really thought I’d have time to get this up last week, but alas, life happened. With this being October and the month of Halloween, I thought something “scary” might be appropriate for this month’s Weird Al Wednesday. It is to that end that I present the following:
This original song by Al is a style parody of the soundtracks common to 1950s-era science fiction films. The excessive use of electronic sounds like a theremin and synthesizer are prevalent in this song, along with the lyrics being quite the synopsis of the creatures themselves. Even the title of the song is reminiscent of the the 50s sci-fi/monster films. Aside from that though, this is a fun song and still holds much of Al’s humor. This is obvious with such lines as “I sure hope they don’t come in here, I just shampooed the rug.” I mean, do you honestly think that any other artist (save other parody/comedy artists) would release a song with a line like that? I didn’t think so.
Overall, this wasn’t my first choice for a ‘Halloween’-themed song, but I’ve already done a post last year on Nature Trail to Hell. This is a close second, obviously, as it made the cut for this month’s choice. Do you like the song? Do you prefer it over Nature Trail to Hell or not? What are your plans for Halloween this year? Let me know in the comments below! Until next time, stay weird!
The Founding of Eastdock and Westdock
At some point in the future, I plan to run a Titansgrave campaign that focuses on a group of folks who start off as fans of the Beer Baron and run a Beer Club in one of the smaller towns well to the north of Nestora. Upon searching the map, I settled on Eastdock. Since I haven’t seen anything published on this town or its obvious partner Westdock, I thought I’d share my story of their founding.
THE CATACLYSM BEGINS AND ALL IS CHAOS, DEATH, FIRE, AND SMOKE. AS MYSTERIOUSLY AS IT ONCE DID, NEW RACES AWAKEN AMIDST THIS TUMULTUOUS WORLD AND QUICKLY SET ABOUT ESTABLISHING THEIR PRESENCE.
Emerging from their cave, this sordid group of folk were in awe and terror of what they beheld. They were cautious of this new world, but also curious. Suddenly, they became aware that they were hungry and began searching for and trying things to eat. Some of the folk died in the early days, but by the time of the Endless Night, they were experts at what to eat, how to cook, the making of tools, and had even learned to talk to each other and the other folk on what they now understood was their island home. Life was good for a time. The Humans, Gnomes, and Halflings had a good life of sport, song, drink, and food. For many months, their island was a paradise. But as with all good things, this paradise began to come to an end.
They had boats for fishing, but began to realize these boats would need to be larger and sturdier to weather the wider seas. Soon, they would need to start searching for other places from which to get resources. After a few weeks of hard work, the islanders had built a small fleet of 14 vessels to sail as a convoy. They loaded the ships with provisions and things to trade, and after some protections were cast by the local mages, they fleet set sail for whatever they could find.
After a week, they encountered a terrible storm that threatened to destroy the fleet. Even the protections of the mages could not withstand the awesome power of the wind, rain, and lightning. A few of the ships managed to stay together, but they were separated into two groups that didn’t find each other after the storm. Three of the ships were lost to the depths, while one group of 6 and another of 5 ships eventually found land. Little did they know that they were only a few days journey by foot from each other.
They made landfall and began setting up camps. Most of the provisions had either been used up or lost in the storm. As such, they set about doing what they knew: building and fishing. After a few weeks, a Saurian scout party of 2 Suarians and a dozen Orcs comes across the built-up camp of Westdock and approaches cautiously, weapons drawn. There are some initial communications issues leading to the scout party attacking the strangers. The scout party is taken down by sheer numbers, but the casualties to the folks of Westdock are significant. As a result, they move closer to the sea and begin fortifying their camp. They take the weapons of their fallen attackers and learn how to use them, and even build their own. This is, after all, the first time they’ve seen power weapons and blasters.
Eastdock has a less-dangerous encounter with an Elven scouting party. The Elves are cautions, but less hostile and instead work through the communications issues to try and establish a good relationship with the folks of the Eastdock camp. Because of this good relationship, the folks of Eastdock move a little farther into the river delta where they settled and build up quite a town. Many Elves end up joining their little holdout of civilization and they develop quite a propensity for magic and trade.
As the Endless Night finally started to break, and the sun rose over the horizon for the first time in nearly a generation, the folks of both Eastdock and Westdock sent out caravans of merchants to try and find trading partners. It just so happened, that near a hot spring geyser of red rock, a caravan from each town crossed paths and the islanders were reunited and vowed to strengthen the ties of their cities, as well as find ways to travel home. None of them actually knew how to get back to their island, but they were determined to find it, nonetheless.
Months passed, and the Endless Night became a thing forgotten. Rumors were circulating in the bustling towns of Westdock and Eastdock about unrest to the south and someone calling herself a Prophet. The folks of Westdock, still overcautious from their first encounter with Saurians, began shoring up their defenses, as well as those of their friends in Eastdock. It wasn’t long after that a small group of ships returned to announce they had finally found their long lost home and a route was mapped to bring trade to and from the island.
The Chaos Wars erupted into full destruction south of the two water towns. Given the close relationship between Westdock and Eastdock, it was no wonder that they had such and intertwining of magic and technology. This made them targets of the Prophet and her forces. Luckily, the two towns had made enough friends and built up enough defenses that they withstood many attacks from the forces of Chaos. The aquatic nature of the towns even assisted in sending each other supplies and reinforcements after the master builders and arcmages worked together to build submersibles.
To this day, the submersibles are a closely guarded secret, even thought the Chaos Wars a a thing of the past. The twin cities have opened up their gates to those wishing to visit and do business. Westdock is still not as welcoming as Eastdock, but they aren’t as paranoid as they used to be either. Eastdock does have a stronger magical presence than technology, just as Westdock is the reverse.
You will find both towns brimming primarily with Humans, Gnomes, and Halflings, all tied to the towns’ founders. Eastdock has a sizable Elf population, as well, but very few Saurians, Orcs, or Dwarves. Westdock, however, has a decent percentage of Dwarves and Saurians (despite how some of the very old Humans, Gnomes, and Halflings feel about them), but not very many Elves, and only about an equal population of Orcs. Occasionally, you will find the odd Beastfolk here and there in either town, but they are usually just passing through on some trip or another.