Thursday, September 02, 2010

Musical Prodigy or Complete Nerd?

Stardate 09-02-2010

Bellow is Owen's first music recital, played on a kazzooksaphone from a McDonald's Happy Meal.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Sword of Truth Series

Stardate 12-14-2009

After dedicating 295 hours and 15 minutes of my life to listening to The Sword of Truth series on my iPod, it is finally done.  The Sword of Truth series is one of the more commercially successful Epic Fantasy Book series out right now.

Written by the extremely handsome Terry Goodkind, The Sword of Truth series follows the story of  common wood guides-man, Richard Sypher, as he is pulled out of his non-magical world, and is forced into a world where magic exists.  Richard is soon named the Seeker of Truth and is entrusted with the Sword of Truth, an ever powerful sword which draws its power from its wielders wrath.

This is an 11 book series.  Except for the last three novels in the series, each novel is a stand alone novel and each comes to a conclusion.  Though each novel does stand alone, there are themes and elements that carry over from book to book.  Books 1 and 2 in the series really are awesome and then books 3-8 are just such a huge let down.  Goodkind redeems himself a bit in books 9-11, but its just nowhere compared to where he started.  I listened to 10 of these 11 books on mp3 and though I'm glad I was able to finish the series, I am definitely not recommending the series to my literally thousands of readers and here is why:

1. The characters have no depth and are one dimensional.  They are completely black and white and good or evil. There is no in between.  The views and actions of the good guys are always correct or justified, whereas, the bad guys are always wrong. 

2. Though I have to give him credit for his creativity, I don't believe that Terry Goodkind is a talented author.  Except for the last three books, Goodkind is never able to weave multiple story lines together.  The following is literally the plot outline for the first 8 books in the series: Richard gets separated from the other main characters.  Because of his love of life and living, Richard will do everything humanly possible to make it back to those he loves. After listening to nothing but this for 20-30+ hours, we finally make it to the end of the novel where Richard slays the bad guy and is reunited with those he loves.  What killed me in every novel was how incredibly long it took to get to the end and then once they do get to the end, the problem is resolved literally in seconds.  The ending of every novel is more anticlimactic than anything I have experienced in my life.

3. Goodkind floods books 3-11 with Ayn Randian philosophies/opinions about life and individualism.  I've heard Uncle Chris say, "Ayn Rand is a bitch," and now I understand why he feels the way he does. 

4. In every novel, Goodkind helps the story move along by reviewing events that took place in the previous novels.  A little back-story and a reminder of key details is helpful now and again, but what Goodkind does is overkill.  For example, the customer reviews of book 7 in the series are so terrible that I decided to skip it completely.  I was hesitant to do this at first because I was worried that I would be lost when I started book 8, but because of the amount of reviewing that Goodkind did in book 8, I was able to listen to book 8 without any problems or confusion.

What I did like about the book:
1. I have to give Terry Goodkind credit for the other worldly monsters that he creates.  They are imaginative and creative and always extremely violent. 

2. The overall level of violence and gore in the books is top notch.  I most definitely grew to love the phrase, "..his warm viscera bathed the ground," which can be found in just about all the books.  Perhaps one of the better endings was in book three when Richard is found without his sword, and has to improvise.  In a flash, he uses his speed and strength to jab his hand into the bad guys stomach, rip threw skin and organs, grab on to the base of the bad guys spine, and in Mortal Combat fashion, rip his spine out of his stomach.

3.  Sitting down at the Dogfather for lunch and discussing the series with Papa Suite, who recommended this book series to me.  Even though it didn't turn out to be my favorite series, it was still fun to listen to and discuss the story with the man who has read more Epic Fantasy and Science Fiction than anyone else that I know.   

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Fall TV Show Reviews

Stardate 12-03-2009
My literally thousands of readers have been screaming for months now, desperately wanting to know what I think about the 2009 TV Fall Line up.  After some reflection I realized that I have been quite neglectful and cruel to my literally thousands of readers.  I know how badly you all want me to tell you what you should be watching. To be honest, I've been a little disappointed with 2009's Fall TV Schedule.  There seems to be a serious lack of scifi shows out there right now.  I've even resorted to watching some non-sci fi shows.  Its been a bit of a sacrifice, but necessary in order to keep a strong relationship with TV.

What happened to Mondays?  They used to be such an amazing night for sci fi TV.  Now it just blows.

The show started out amazing.  It continued to amaze me until the Season 1 Season Finale, which blew.  I suffered through 2.5 more seasons before I quit watching it.  Though my by T-Bag from Prison Break is getting rave reviews this season, I still haven't bothered and either should you.  Drop it if you already haven't.

OK, so I am a little embarrassed to admit that I watch this show.  The only reason I watch it is that Captain Malcolm Reynolds, aka, Nathan Fillion is the lead.  My hopes are that this show is a hit, Fillion becomes a commercial success, and returns to making awesome sci fi TV shows and movies.

Sons of Anarchy:
This spot on portrayal of life within a Motorcycle Club makes me wonder what I'm doing sitting behind a desk.  I should be out on the road, running guns on my Harley, avoiding the ATF, conspiring with the IRA, and beating the piss out of anyone who deals drugs in my town--especially the White Supremacists.  The Season 2 Finale was amazing.  They set up so many great and twisted story lines for next year.  Go and rent or buy season one and watch it with your kids.  Your family will love it.

So You Think You Can Dance:
This is the reality dance show that people under 50 watch, which makes it very cool.  Though it can't boast of Donny, this show has some pretty amazing dancers.  Don't believe me?  Check out Ryan rip this solo to some very appropriate music.  I'm sure the Scorpions couldn't be prouder.

My female and I barely made it through the first season.  We couldn't believe how bad it was.  They made some serious changes both behind and on the screen for season 2 and I couldn't be more pleased.  If you loved the original, Dawson's Creek, or The OC, then you need to start watching this show. 

Flash Forward:
I'm still up in the air about Flash Forward.  In fact, I'm a few episodes behind on my DVR which means that its definitely a tier 2 show for me.  Good news is that ABC has dropped showrunner Marc Guggenheim (one of the producers for ABC's "Brothers & Sisters") and is giving full reins to David Goyer.  Basically, what everyone is hoping is that the light and fluffy Guggenheim is gone, Goyer will have free rein on the show and will give it a dark and gritty edge.  I say keep watching and see where it goes.  By the end of the season we should make it to the actual date of the flash forward.  I'm willing to watch up until that point just so that I can see what direction they take the show after that.

Modern Family:
This is my favorite new show of the season.  My favorite characters are Manny, the passionate 11 year old Colombiano, and Phil, the cool dad.  I really feel like they could do without the cheesy, heartfelt moment at the end of every episode, but I guess its not so bad.

I thought the Pilot was a bit choppy, but that it really caught its stride about 3/4s of the way through.  I am intrigued and excited for the rest of the season.  I'm a bit surprised that one of the 29 V ships that landed around the many cities around the world did not land in Orem/Provo, UT.  If the Vs were smarter, they would realize what a great business opportunity they would have to sell and market their life saving health supplements in that city. 

This is by far the best night of the week.  There are so many wonderful shows on Thursday nights that there are times that I have 3 shows recording at once.  Thank you DVR.

Parks & Recreation:
This one had a slow start its first season, but I felt it ended strong.  Season two has improved even more.  The cast and characters seemed to have found their stride.  I think I love this show because my job deals a bit with government bureaucracies and I love how this show makes fun of local government.  By far my favorite character is the boss, Ron Swanson, who despises big government and his ex-wife.  My favorite line from this season was when Ron was describing his ex, he said that, "Every time she laughs, an angel dies."

I told myself that even if the first few episodes were crap that I needed to stick with it and give it a real chance.  I really wanted this show to be good.  After 3 episodes I couldn't handle it anymore.  My brother told me to give it another shot and watch one of the more recent episodes.  I did and I still felt the same way.  Its just not funny at all to me.

The Office and 30 Rock:
If you don't think these two shows are funny then I honestly don't know how we can be friends.

This is by far my favorite sci fi show of this year.  I look forward for Fringe more than any other genre show right now.  Though it seemed to lag in episodes 5-7 this season, everything else has been great.  I loved the bible references to the beast and the multiple dimensions that we saw in the season 2 premier.  I hope they expand on that later in the season.  I've also loved the communication between the agents in our dimension to their dimension.  Moving forward, my biggest hope is that they start to lace more episodes together and have less stand alone episodes.  I can't wait to see what happens with Pacey and Pacey's mom.

Its Always Sunny In Philadelphia:
This is my favorite comedy show right now.  Though I feel that this season hasn't been as funny as their previous seasons, I'm still loving it and pleased to see that both their DVD sales and viewership is steadily increasing each week.  The highlights for me this season have been the milk steak, Rowdy Roddy Piper on the Wrestling for the Troops episode, and the D.E.N.N.I.S., system for dating.

I was loving this show by the end of season 1.  I'm not sure what the dealy yo yo is, but season 2 just blows.  I had to force myself to watch the first two episodes and it just seems like its going nowhere but to the chopping block.  I had high hopes for this season, seeing as how Fox gave Joss a bit more creative control.  I really wish they would have ditched this and kept Terminator: The Sara Connor Chronicles

Stargate SGU:
This is my first foray into a Stargate TV series and I'm pleased so far.  I'm a few episodes behind, but I'm really enjoying this new TV series.

Legend of the Seeker:
Season 1 came out when I was really into the Sword of Truth series.  Because of this, I was really mad that they changed the story so much from the books. I ended up ditching the show after about 8 episodes.  Now that I have had a chance read the entire series and have realized how crappy it is, I'm not so upset.  So far, I have been able to watch season 2 without freaking out that it is so different from the books and its allowed me to enjoy it a bit more.  Don't get me wrong, this show is still crap, but its the kind of crap that's fun to watch.   I watch it on Hulu when my boys wake me up early.

There you have it.  That's all I've got for the Fall season.  I'll have to do a little research and let you all know what you should be watching for the Spring 2010 season.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

New Blog for Darth Spencer

Stardate 11-26-2009

I've started a new blog.  Don't freak out.  Though I know I've been quite the slacker lately, the SciFiNerdBlog isn't going anywhere.  I've created a new blog for the Ronin Jiu-Jitsu Center, the school where I have been training in Jiu-Jitsu for over the last year or so.  Jump over and check it out.  Here is the LINK

We are trying to get our name out there and also trying to get more people to come and sign up.  So make sure to add a link to the blog from your blog or web page.

And if you want, come and try out some classes for free.  There is info on the blog about where we train and when.  There is also a link to our actual web page.  Simply put, its one of the funnest things you'll ever do.  Its great exercise (I've lost  a bunch of weight), excellent stress relief, you learn new stuff every week which keeps your mind and body sharp and quick, our teacher is extremely talented and there really is a great group of guys who are already going. 

I was pretty hesitant to sign up because I was worried that I would be training with a bunch of meatheads who would try to hurt me.  I found that I was completely wrong.  Everyone tries to create a safe environment where everyone can learn and progress. 

You can become a fan of Ronin Jiu-Jitsu Center on Facebook HERE
Or, follow us on Twitter, HERE

Here are some pictures to prove that I really do Jiu-Jitsu

This is me and Jake after Jake advanced me to my blue belt.  I of course elected to do a prom picture.  I felt it was appropriate.

Students are given the ceremonial uki goshi (floating hip throw) upon awarding of a new belt.  Here I am being thrown by Jared

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Embrace the Klingon Empire

Stardate 10-27-2009

Check out this viral propaganda video from the Klingon Empire that portrays the eventual takeover of earth. Is this the first glimpse at a viral marketing campaign for the new Trek movie or is someone just really creative and having fun? Here you go:

The video and additional content can be found here. You can find a letter from a fellow Terran who has already joined the Klingon Empire at the site. Here is a taste of what its says,

"Hello fellow Terrans! My name is Tanas T'var and I'm a warrior in the Klingon Empire, or Tlhingan Wo' in the mother tongue. I'm here to tell you about a wonderful culture I've become a proud member of and and how soon you will be a part of as well. The Klingons are coming. Its time we all got ready."

I love the propaganda theme.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Things Just Got a Whole Lot Easeir for the Muslims

Stardate 09-21-2009

It seems that throughout time, America and the world picks an ethnic group, or a race of people, a religion, or a life style to discriminate against. After September 11th, 2001 things got a whole lot harder for Muslims. Thanks to shows like 24 and nut jobs like Glen Beck, the majority of people started to believe that Muslim = Terrorist. Well, the school yard bully has a new punching bag.

Daniel Jones of the International Church of Jediism was thrown out of a department store in North Wales because of his religion. He was thrown out after he was determined to be a security threat because he refused to remove his hood.

"I told them it was a requirement of my religion, but they just sniggered and ordered me to leave," said Jones, also known by his Jedi name Morda Hehol. "I walked past a Muslim lady in a veil. Surely the same rules should apply to everyone."

The handbook of the U.K. Jedi Church, which was founded last year by Jones states that "Jedis must wear a hood up in any public place of a large audience."

"It was discrimination," said Jones. "I was really upset. Nobody should be treated like that."

A spokesperson for the department store said, "Jedi are very welcome to shop in our stores although we would ask them to remove their hoods. Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda and Luke Skywalker all went hoodless without going to the Dark Side. If Jedi walk around our stores with their hoods on, they'll miss lots of special offers."

Not enough to convince you of the discrimination against Jedis? Well, as I've done some research about the church, I've found that they are currently fighting another battle to even be recocnized as a true religion. Apparently, not even Acorn (who recognizes Satanism, Wicca and Yoga as approved religions) will recognize them as a true religion. If someone were to mark Jedi as their religion on the census, Acorn would classify them as "Outside Scope." I'm starting to understand why everyone hates Acorn.

Readership, this post is full of harsh and sad realities. I prefer to end things on a positive note. Below is the the mantra of the Jedi Church. Learn it, repeat it, and may the force be with you.

There is no emotion; there is peace.
There is no ignorance; there is knowledge.
There is no passion; there is serenity.
There is no death; there is the Force.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Harry Potter Land!!!

Stardate 09-17-2009

I just read some most excellent news and I thought you all should know. Universal Studios Islands of Adventure is adding a new section to their park. Those of you who have been there will know that the park is broken up into a few different sections that all have a theme. Currently there's a section for Marvel Comics, Dr. Seuss, Old Universal Cartoons like Popeye, Jurasic Park and some other ones. Well, they are adding a new section which will be Harry Potter land. I can't wait to sit down in the Three Broomsticks and sip a butter beer. Here is a list of the attractions:

From the front archway of Hogsmeade to the immensity of Hogwarts castle, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter will feature the locations listed below:

* At the entrance of Hogsmeade, billowing steam and an iconic whistle signal the arrival of the Hogwarts Express into Hogsmeade station
* Across the way is Zonko's, a joke shop with a collection of tricks and jokes, including Extendable Ears, Boxing Telescopes and Sneakoscopes
* Honeydukes is next door and full of treats like Chocolate Frogs and Bertie Bott's Every-Flavour Beans
* The Three Broomsticks and adjacent Hog's Head pub will feature traditional British fare and drinks including Butterbeer and pumpkin juice
* Across from the Three Broomsticks is The Owlery, where owls roost and await their next delivery
* The Owl Post sends letters with a certified Hogsmeade postmark and sells official stamps from The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
* Ollivanders wand shop is an incredible interactive experience where the wand chooses the wizard
* Completing Hogsmeade is Dervish and Banges, the magical instruments and equipment shop featuring Quidditch equipment, Triwizard apparel, Spectrespecs and Remembralls
* The first attraction, Dragon Challenge, features a twin high-speed roller coaster with many iconic elements from the Triwizard Tournament
* Next is Flight of the Hippogriff, a family coaster simulating a Hippogriff training flight over the grounds of Hogwarts castle
* Located in Hogwarts castle, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey is a thrilling new state-of-the-art attraction that uses entirely new technology to bring the magic, characters and stories of Harry Potter to life in ways never before experienced
* Before exiting back into Hogsmeade, Filch's Emporium of Confiscated Goods is full of Ministry of Magic and magical creatures merchandise, Omnioculars, and even remote control Golden Snitches

Here is an interactive video which shows depictions of the park

I think the ride in Hogwarts Castle sounds really cool. I invision it to be an updated and more advanced Harry Potter version of the Spider-man Ride at the same park. If so it should be amazing. I know where we are going on vacation in spring 2010.