Saturday, August 30, 2014

Doctor Who Recap -- 08/30

Today I'm starting a new segment in which I give a synopsis of this week's Doctor Who for those who missed it. Spoiler alert!

In tonight's episode "Into the Dalek," the Doctor saves an outer space soldier named Journey Blue from dying. He takes her back to her ship Aristotle to find it was a medical vessel but has now been militarized to battle the Daleks. The commander takes the Doctor to see the one remaining patient, and he finds it's a Dalek. However, the prisoner gives a surprising declaration: "Daleks must be destroyed." Somehow this one has realized the rest of its kind is evil. Intrigued, the Doctor and Clara, along with several soldiers including Journey, shrink themselves down and go inside its head, whereupon the Doctor names it Rusty. Rusty explains that even after many years of Dalek destruction, it witnessed the birth of a star and realized life would always prevail. The Doctor, excited about finally finding a good Dalek, proceeds to repair Rusty's radiation leak. Unfortunately, this causes Rusty to go back to normal, and it breaks free of its confinement and starts killing everyone on board the Aristotle.

In order to help the others escape, one of the soldiers named Gretchen sacrifices herself and ends up meeting Missy, the mysterious woman from the season premier. Meanwhile, the Doctor laments that all Daleks are irreversibly evil. However, Clara convinces him otherwise. She believes that Rusty has the potential to be good, and together they journey to its brain to retrieve its suppressed memories and remind it of what it has lost. They succeed, but Rusty looks inside the Doctor's mind and sees his hatred for the Daleks, which it then adopts. Once again convinced that all Daleks are evil, Rusty helps them fight off a Dalek boarding party which arrived when it sent a signal after being repaired by the Doctor. The Daleks are defeated, but the Doctor doesn't consider it a victory; it was achieved through hatred and not goodness. They go to leave, and Journey asks to accompany them on their journey. But the Doctor is through with soldiers after this experience, and refuses.

Afterwards, the Doctor and Clara discuss the question he posed earlier: "Am I a good man?" She replies she doesn't know, but he wants to be, and that's what matters.

I feel this week's episode is solid. It's always enjoyable when the Daleks come to visit, and we got a little more insight into their nature. Peter Capaldi continues to impress as the new Doctor and I think he's going to do repeat. Also, the continuing mystery of Missy is keeping me intrigued, and I can't wait to see where they're going with this.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Guest Blog

This week I'm guest blogging on SteamU. Read my thoughts on steampunk and what it means to me at

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Cool Kickstarter Project -- Under the Dog

Recently I was made aware of a very cool Kickstarter project: Under the Dog. This anime comes to us from an uber-talented group of people who brought us such awesomeness as Evangelion, Ghost in the Shell and Fire Emblem: Awakening. I immediately became a backer for it, and I urge all of you to do the same.

So what is Under the Dog? The Kickstarter page describes it as "An anime science fiction thriller that will explore what it means to live and die well, testing the limits of all we hold dear."

Here is the synopsis, pretty much copied and pasted from the page:
The year is 2025 in the city of Tokyo Bayside Special District, five years following the devastation wrought by a specially enhanced groups of terrorists at the 2020 Summer Olympics. Out of the ashes of that desolation, the UN formed a special covert branch headquartered in Tokyo Bay solely purposed with searching out and eliminating the forces responsible for the attack along with anyone even bearing a remote resemblance to them.

As a cover, the International School for Boys and Girls was established for the ongoing covert operation of discovering and recruiting gifted high school students, each with their own special abilities, and to coerce them in the service of an elite death squad. These troops are tasked with ferreting out and exterminating all individuals with powers like their own.

There is no choosing sides for these recruits and failure is not an option. Failure on the field assures not only their own, but also their loved ones' deaths. In order to assure compliance, each agent’s dearest loved ones have been secretly outfitted with a micro cranial bomb and all agent's actions and speech are closely monitored and recorded through a battle chip embedded in their brain. In the event the UN commanding officer determines an agent falls out of protocol, their loved ones immediately suffer the consequences

So you take a little Ghost in the Shell, a little Gunslinger Girl, some X-Men, some Suicide Squad and toss them in a blender. Out pops Under the Dog. There's a lot more information at Go check it out.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Kindle Spotlight -- Hope and the Patient Man

A while back I reviewed Mike Reeves-McMillan’s charming fantasy novel Hope and the Clever Man. He recently sent me the sequel, Hope and the Patient Man, for me to review, so here we go.

The story picks up not too long after the first book. Hope and her boyfriend Patient have gotten to know each other very well. Unfortunately, she feels no desire for him. This has to do with the curse she placed on her former beau Faithful (who was anything but) that he couldn’t get it up unless he stayed true to his name. She removed it, but there was magical splash-back, rendering her somewhat asexual. The situation has not improved, and her condition is actually deteriorating to the point where she can’t focus on her job or academic pursuits. She has the opportunity to become the youngest ever senior mage at the academy, but her chances look slim unless she finds a cure. Therefore, she and Patient seek out a mindhealer named Lily who is basically a magic-minded sex therapist. Lily has the couple engage in a series of increasingly intimate exercises to get Hope’s brain and libido back on track.

Meanwhile, a wealthy socialite named Industry of Rosewell (AKA “Rosie”) comes to work at the lab. She takes a liking to Dignified the clever man, but doesn’t know how to proceed. Hope and best friend Briar take Rosie under their wing and give her a makeover. Rosie and Dignified then hit it off and things are looking good for them. However, the mounting pressure on Hope to carry out her work for both the Realmgold and the academy is taking its toll, and she doesn’t know how much longer she can last. Not only that, but she must deal with the stunning secret of her birth and her mother’s disdain for her. Is there a happy ending for her and Patient?

I like this series because it takes a very different approach to standard fantasy fare. Reeves McMilan has worked hard to make this feel like a real world with a rich history and customs. It also has real problems; there is no great world-threatening villain, and the evils it does have are fought with debates and legal action rather than swords and sorcery. It’s certainly not for everyone; if you want your fantasy to be action-packed and intense, you should look elsewhere. But for those willing to give this series a chance, you’ll find your investment well rewarded.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Anime Fest Pics

I just got back from Anime Fest 2014 and it was a blast. I took a lot of photos and a few brief videos. You can view them at

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Heading to Anime Fest Tomorrow

I'll post pics when I get back. In the mean time, enjoy James' latest review on Friday.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Movie Review -- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

After a twenty-year absence, the Ninja Turtles are back on the big screen in live-action form. I'm here to tell fans young and old if it's worth your time.

The story should be familiar to Turtles fans. New York City is being terrorized by a crime syndicate called the Foot Clan. Reporter April O'Neal (Megan Fox) thinks she's found the story of the year in their crimes. But she gets in over her head when they take her and others hostage in the subway. Fortunately, four mysterious vigilantes take out the baddies and save her. She pursues them and learns their shocking secret: they're teenage mutant turtles who are also ninjas! There's born leader Donatello (Johnny Knoxville??), hot-head Raphael (Alan Ritchson), nerdy Donatello (Jeremy Howard) and, of course, party animal Michelangelo (Noel Fisher). Oh, and we can't forget about their rat sensei Splinter (Tony Shalhoub). April realizes these are the very same animals she used to have as pets while they were being experimented on by industrialist Eric Sacks (William Fichtner). She befriends them, but soon becomes a target from the Foot Clan's leader, the evil Shredder (Tohoru Masamune). This isn't the same impotent villain from the old cartoon; this guy's got his own samurai Iron Man suit and he's looking to make some turtle soup with his many blades. After he attacks the sewers and delivers what could very well be a mortal wound to Splinter, it's up to the turtles, April and her friend Vern (Will Arnett) to save the day. Can they stop Shredder from killing scores of innocent people in his bid for control of New York.

At this moment, I'd like to give you a disclaimer: I've been a Ninja Turtles fan from the very beginning, by which I mean their beginning. I followed their exploits in the 80s with great zeal and I acquired every piece of memorabilia I possibly could. I had the action figures, the vehicles, the clothes, the plastic weapons, the sewer play set, the coloring books, the stickers found in fruit pies, the videogames--hell, I even got the cereal even though I wasn't too crazy about the taste (it was Ninja Turtles, dammit!). This was truly a franchise brimming with imagination. Therefore, I must confess this review may be colored by nostalgia.

Nevertheless, I feel this reboot is pretty good. It stays remarkably faithful to the source material; the turtles look like their figures, their various personalities are correct, and in true Turtles fashion, the plot never takes itself too seriously. Sure, it isn't Citizen Kane, but it's not supposed to be. It's supposed to be a movie to please Ninja Turtles fans, and in that respect, it succeeds. By now, every person on the planet knows whether or not they like the Turtles. If you do, hurry up and go see this movie. 

I just hope they add more characters to the sequel. This film doesn't have Krang, Bebop, Rocksteady, or any of the other zillion Turtles characters, and there is certainly a wealth of source material to be tapped.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Movie Review --Guardians of the Galaxy

Today we have the new Marvel movie starring Chris Pratt and Zoe Saldana: Guardians of the Galaxy. I'm here to tell you if you should go see it.

The story takes place far from Earth. Peter Quill, AKA Starlord (Pratt), a charismatic criminal, is exploring an ancient ruin when he finds a mysterious orb. Suddenly, armed strangers show up and accost him. He manages to fight them off and make his escape with the orb. He has no idea what it is, but it seems valuable so he arranges to sell it for a very high price.

Meanwhile, the Kree empire signs a peace treaty with their longtime enemies the Xandar (fans of the comics may recall the Kree are also longtime enemies of the Skrulls). This does not sit well with Kree warrior Ronan (Lee Pace). He hates the Xandar with a passion and, working with Thanos (Josh Brolin, according to IMDB, though he's uncredited here), he schemes to obtain the orb to wipe them out once and for all. Ronan sends Thanos' adopted daughter Gamora (Saldana) to get it from Quill on the Xandar homeworld, but aliens Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and his servant Groot (Vin Diesel) intervene because they want the bounty on Quill's head. Xandar authorities get involved, and the foursome find themselves in prison where they meet muscleman Drax the Destroyer (WWE's Dave Bautista) who has his own score to settle with Ronan. Quickly realizing they need to work together, they hatch a plan to escape and safeguard the orb. Unfortunately, Drax's thirst for vengeance gets the best of him, and he makes a move that could doom billions of people. Can these guys (and girl) get on the same page before Ronan carries out his genocide?

The Guardians of the Galaxy are a motley crew of very capable yet very dysfunctional heroes who threaten one another more than they threaten the bad guys. Sound familiar? Yep, they're basically The Avengers in space. If you liked that movie, you'll like this one. If not, it will do nothing to change your mind. It is refreshing to leave Earth and explore Marvel's rich universe of aliens and the Infinity Gems, Ronan is a cool villain (visually at least) and the rampant humor kept me chuckling throughout, but it's nothing you haven't seen before. There are predictable fights and predictable chases, and you probably already know whether or not you like these things. The film remains entertaining from start to finish, and I look forward to the already-announced sequel. However, I'm much more looking forward to the next Avengers.

"Do not call me a thesaurus!"