Awakening Force

Wednesday January 20, 2016 at 12:45pm movies, star wars Comments (0) »
 © Star Wars: The Force Awakens
© Star Wars: The Force Awakens

I don't go to the theatre often.  Before last night, the last time I'd seen a movie in a theatre was the summer of 2012.  I actually have to be in the right mood to even want to watch a movie (though, the theatre experience does make it come much more easily).  I kind of have a hard time with passive entertainment like moves, books, tv shows, etc.  I can do it for a while, but I tend to want to do something creative more often.

But this was different.  This was Star Wars.

Like a lot of people, I always loved Star Wars - especially when I was a kid.  Also, like a lot of people, I thought the "Prequel" movies were, at best "meh" and, at worst, "awful".  Honestly, I'm pretty easily amused, and I can enjoy watching pretty much anything when it comes to Sci-Fi.  I can seriously nit-pick, too, however.

When this latest movie came out, I heard a lot of positive things - with many people saying that it felt much more like the original trilogy than the prequels.  And that was the reason that I was excited about it.  So, a month after release, Sheri and I finally went to see it.

First off, the movie was good.  We had a good time watching it, and talking about it thereafter.  If you like this sort of thing and you haven't seen it yet, you should.  Really.  Also, you should stop reading, because I'm about to spoil some things.


Things I liked (read: "Yay!"):

- In terms of narrative and screenplay, it did feel quite a bit like the original trilogy.  This was probably the most important thing to me, and I think it did a good job.  The directoral and visual style/feel was a bit more modern, however - but, though this did degrade the consistency in feel a little for me, I think it would have been a mistake to have shot it in an older style.  Also, there may not actually be any more difference between 6 and 7 than there was between 4 and 5.

- Inclusion of characters and actors from the original trilogy - and that those characters were totally consistent with their prior selves.  This was a simple but effective means of series cohesion.

- The new characters were well-developed and compatible with the setting.  Particularly love the "fallen" storm trooper.

- The action scenes were dynamic and exciting (my favorite was the escape from Jakku in the Falcon).

- Visuals were stunning but without an in-your-face, look-at-our-fancy-effects attitude.

Things I didn't like (read: "nit-picks"):

- The nominal goal of the story/protagonists: trying to recover a "map to Luke".  Really?  A "map" to a person?  Seemed a bit...trite.  Also, that the Resistance should be convinced that this one person is critical seems kind of dubious.

- R2's sudden awakening seemed to come out of nowhere, yet nothing was made of it suggesting that there might have been a cause beyond ex machina (e.g. even someone saying "what could have caused that to happen?") - and, of course, he has the rest of what they were looking for all the time. 

- The scope-creep of the ever-larger super weapon that must be destroyed.  Also, some of the other direct, plot-level duplications: the droid that has the missing piece, the nobody from the sand planet, the villain related to a protagonist, the "cantina scene" etc.  Don't get me wrong, all of this was well done, it just didn't win prizes for originality.  Also, I don't know what I would have preferred in its stead - it all was very "star wars".

- I would have ended the movie with Rey and Chewie flying off in the Falcon.  While I just complained (a little) about things being copied from the originals in terms of plot, that would have been a nice nod to the end of Empire.  The scene with Luke I found to be a little...meh...and it didn't really add much.  Though it might have dissappointed some people, I think they should have started with that on 8 so they could develop it.

- Also (biggest spoiler) Han Solo's death.  No no - the scene was dramatic and well done.  And really, it was the only way someone like Solo could die.  My reasons for disliking it are simply that I hated to see the character end.  If it was a character I hadn't known since childhood, I'm sure I'd have applauded it.  But I just...can't.  :(


There is probably another thing or two on each side of the ledger, but I think those were the big ones.  Though perhaps not perfect, it was a great time.  Definitely worth going to see.



Busier Than Usual

Friday February 19, 2010 at 3:17pm friends, church, holidays, movies, gaming, work, family Comments (0) »

It's been a rather busy week. Unusually so, actually.

It was good to see Nick again on saturday, and to meet Jen. She seems pretty cool. Unfortunately, they weren't able to stay as long as originally planned and we only got to hang out for a little while.

Sunday Sheri & I went to Grandview for church. That was cool. We saw quite a few people that we knew (but hadn't seen in quite a while) and I was reminded how much I really like to hear Aaron Wymer speak.

Sunday was valentine's day, but Sheri and I don't usually do much *on* that day. Instead, we wait until the 19th - which happens to be today - to 'celebrate', since it was on the 19th ten years ago that she and I started dating. Happy Valentinanniversary to us. Or something. :-D

Monday we got to see Jerry & Amanda and little Jared as they stopped through at the Hippies' on their way home from a trip to FL. It's always cool to hang out with them, and their munchkin is exceptionally cute. I didn't have my camera with me, but I should have...

Tuesday was significant this week only in that it was the only evening I *didn't* have something going on.

Wednesday Rucht had a group of us over to watch Aliens. Prior to that time, I hadn't seen any of the Alien movies (and I still haven't seen any others). This was seen as somewhat of a problem that needed to be remedied. I enjoyed the movie and it's always cool to get together with friends.

Thursday (yesterday) was Patrick's Star Wars game. This game has been very enjoyable for me. It may be the first time I've actually had a character's personality, motives, actions, etc evolve *in game*. At Patrick's prompting, I've written up a bunch of stuff (probably more than he really wanted) for/about him with respect to his development in the story.

Tonight Sheri and I are going out to dinner and then over to see Milligan's production of Little Women - maybe not in that order...

Work has been kind of crazy lately as we're *still* trying to tie up some stuff before the end of the day... ...unfortunately, I'm currently waiting for a crucial piece of info to plug in - without which, I can't do much.

Looking ahead:

Next weekend our friend Thes is coming in for a visit and I'm supposed to run a couple of gaming sessions (after a month-long interim). That should be fun.

Also along the gaming line, Rucht is starting a Rogue Trader game next week that I'm gonna be in. I'm looking forward to this as I haven't got to play in one of Rucht's games before.

A couple weeks after that, Sheri and I are heading to AR to help her mom out after her upcoming surgery.


Sushiday V, a Movie and Games

Monday February 1, 2010 at 9:34am website, rpm, movies, video games, gaming Comments (0) »

Well, here we are at February.

Yes, I know that's redundant, seeing as there's a date right above the statement, but that's what's going through my head atm.

First off, is another year older - bringing me up to 5 glorious(?) years on the web!

Second, RPM 2010 starts today, but sadly, I don't think I'll be participating this year for two reasons: 1) I haven't been able to come up with any new material in the last couple of months - though to be honest, I've only put in about 15 hours worth of effort in that time - and 2) because, due to some extenuating circumstances, I'll be losing a large portion of my studio gear next weekend. This will be replaced, of course, but it may not be immediately.

In other news:

Sheri & I went to see Avatar with Robb & Edie last night night. It was quite a good movie, if a bit predictable. My assessment is that it is basically 60% Ferngully, 25% The Matrix, and 15% other (possibly LoTR; others have suggested Pocahontas, Dances with Wolves and Aliens). That's not to say it was completely derivative - it did have its originality - but large parts of it definitely conjured thoughts of "I've seen this somewhere before...". Still, like I said, a good movie.

Llama and I played a fair bit of Super Mario Wii this weekend and, with an obsessive-collecting "No Big Coin Left Behind" philosophy, actually finished and beat the game seeking and obtaining every big coin in every level of the primary 8 worlds (including going back to hunt ones we'd missed in other worlds previously). Yes, we are the awesome. We've now started on the "secret" post-game World 9, which, I have to say, is pretty tough.

We started a new D&D game on friday night and I'm proud that not even the snow storm could prevent it - though driving Steve home was...entertaining...and 2/3 of our guests actually camped out here that night.
As I mentioned before, I had carefully mapped out the game's scenario from most-if-not-all angles and then gave the "party" and obvious hook for them to take - a hook which would lead them to the ruin of a prison outpost where a demon was reportedly hiding. Obvious adventure, right? Given the attitudes originally fostered at the conception of this game, I thought they'd want the obvious hook. Silly me. The first 3/4 of the session was spent around town investigating some other goings on. By the time they actually made it to the keep, it was so late that we had to call it a night after the first encounter - which was actually still outside it's gates.
So here we have a question of causality: *Because* I overcomplicated the game, writing in the multiple goings-on from different angles, I knew exactly what to do and what they would find when they went off the "expected course". HOWEVER, if I *hadn't* written up all those other angles (i.e., if I'd just said "you're in a tavern. you see a wanted poster for a demon. it's in this keep. go for it."), they wouldn't have had *reason* to go off the "expected course" (though that iteration of the setting would have seemed much less realistic and "alive" me anyway). So basically, my excessive detail was both the cause of my "problems" *and* my salvation there-from. Still, I wouldn't change much if i could. It was a good time.
The real beauty is, because the party did something that I didn't expect, I realized that the story was going to have to change. At least one thing they did was going to have a significant impact and make drastic alterations to how the narrative would have unfolded otherwise - and that's the way it should be. The characters' actions should have real meaning in the story, beyond the simple "either you succeeded or you failed". Being able to account for that as a GM is a bit of an art, and one that don't always feel I'm doing well. This time though, it's working beautifully.


Movies, Music and Mice

Tuesday July 21, 2009 at 12:52pm friends, movies, guitar, band, gaming Comments (1) »

I've had a few things going on the last couple of weeks, but not much worthy of recording or reporting.

About a week ago we took the Gamers II movie over to Rucht & McKenna's house so they could see it, and Tony joined us as well. It was a good time. I think McKenna was laughing so hard she was crying. (aside: If you're a roleplayer, you should really see the Dead Gentlemen's movies 'The Gamers' and 'The Gamers II: Dorkness Rising'.)

Last saturday we went over to Robb & Edie's to hang out for a while. Robb, Josh and I hung out on the porch playing guitar while Robb was starting one of his brewing projects. At some point we got to talking about going to Josh's house to play with his dad, Bill, who is a drummer, so on sunday we met up at Bill's place and jammed hard for a few hours. That was a lot of fun. I've played with Robb a bit and with Josh once and we'd never played with Bill. For our first time getting together, we sounded great. I really don't think it will take much work for us to sound quite good. *With* a lot of work, I think we could sound pretty awesome. We're trying to make plans to get together again soon.

I've been working on my Mouse Guard campaign quite a bit. We finally got to get together to make characters last night. We didn't have time to really get started on the game itself, but we had fun and I think the players have come up with some really cool ideas. I really like how character creation works in this system. Hopefully we'll get to actually start the game soon, but, unfortunately, it probably won't be for a couple of weeks.

In other news, we *still* need to get out and ride our bikes. It seems like something always comes up whenever we think we might try to go out.


Weekend Fun & Games

Sunday January 18, 2009 at 8:55pm gaming, movies, video games Comments (2) »

Just a couple of things to mention about the weekend:

After the holiday hiatus, we got back into gaming in a big way this weekend.

First, we continued my long-time-running game with session #23 on friday night. That game has been running for about 14 months now, and for the most part i'm still pretty into it. The weight of continuity is a little difficult to deal with at times, but overall the story s progressing pretty fluidly and it continues to be fun.

The game got off to a bit of a late start and was only a couple hours, but it was still a good session I think. Whilst we were waiting for the last players to arrive, we had Robb & Edie watch the Gamers - sadly, i don't think they were as amused by it as I am. Heh.

I also started a new game on saturday for a couple of players who haven't had the chance to game in a while. It was intended to be a pretty simple straightforward game - and for the most part it is - but I discovered that even simple and episodic plots and adventures seem very involved very quickly when you start mapping out how and why things happen. I've also put a lot of work into the particular corner of the setting they're in, the people that inhabit it and some histories that lead to some current adventures. Also a good session.

Today was a bit odd for a sunday - church was canceled due to ice on the roads. It's been really cold the last few days, and last night there was some pretty nasty sleet and stuff... instead of being in Erwin all day, we've been hanging out here playing some video games & other random stuff. Most notably, Sheri has started Okami - a Wii game I got her for christmas. I haven't really got to play it yet, but it looks really cool. I think she likes it, though it occasionally frustrates her. In any case, she's been playing it for a couple hours now - so it can't be too bad. :) I also got a bit further in Mario Galaxy (which Sheri got *me* for christmas) and she was helping me find secret stars and collect star bits. In other, related news - Ginger, Sheri and Tony have all started games of Super Paper Mario (which my sister got us for christmas - it was a good year for wii games), which has to be the most bizarre Mario game to date. I've yet to dive into that insanity. Heh.


Some Things from Recent Days

Tuesday March 11, 2008 at 1:00am ally, gaming, food, movies, church, music, friends Comments (0) »

Just a few random excerpts from my life this last week:

Took Ally to the vet on wednesday; made an appointment to get her spayed. That's supposed to happen on the 24th. By all accounts, she's in good health and very cute. :)

Had a game on thursday; got to use a clever riddle in a situation that actually made sense in-game. Didn't kill anyone.

Ginger made us chicken fajitas on friday and we played some carcassonne and mario kart. Much fun; very tasty.

Saturday, Sheri and I talked some about some future possible home improvement projects, went and bought flower seeds, ate chili and made Nick watch The Complete Works of William Shakespeare: Abridged. It had been a long time since I'd seen it, and it made me laugh. :)

Yesterday was the start of DST. We lost an hour, but I'm glad that there's still plenty of daylight left after work. As the days warm and lengthen, I'll have more and more time to be able to shoot outside. Looking forward to this.

We also had the usual church stuff - which we were on time for because we remembered said DST stuff. I played Brave Saint Saturn's "Estrella" for the special - and I think it sounded really good. Don't think I've ever played a song kapo'd that high (7th!).

After Sheri's usual choir practice, we met up with Dennis (aka TheGreatJabu from the OotS forum). Robb & Edie came over as well and the group of us chatted about random stuff for most of the evening. After our Bored Meetings tonight, we went to Robb & Edie's house to hang out with Dennis (before he leaves town tomorrow) by playing some Killer Bunnies. Dennis seems to be a great guy, and meshes with out little group quite well in terms of personality. If his interview with ETSU's psych. doctorate program went well enough, he may even be moving to town. That would be pretty cool.

Anyway, that's about it for now.


End Feb, In Sum

Wednesday February 27, 2008 at 1:01pm sickness, music, recording, family, weather, movies Comments (1) »

Well, here we are.

Not too much to report. I think I'm finally over this round of the sickness. Still the occasional cough, but it's not much.

I think my getting sick was the death knell to my hopes of finishing my recording project on time - having now recovered, i'm feeling thoroughly uninspired. As it's obvious I'm not going to be able to write and record 7 songs in the next 48 hours, I think I'm going to shelve the project for a while and pick it up when my attitude concerning it improves a bit. On the upside, I did get 3 songs written and recorded (and ideas for approx 1.5 more) this month - even with all the games I had to run, the being sick, and all the other stuff - which is a greater per-day ratio than I think I've ever accomplished. I also went in a considerably different direction from normal with the writing (I'll talk about that more when I get around to finishing/posting it). All in all, I think the project was a huge success, even if I didn't pull off the formal objective. I think for next year, I'm going to try to have the writing done before the recording month - my writing output just isn't high enough to write 10 songs in a month - though I think I *could* accomplish the actual recording in that time.

My mom stopped through monday on her way to visit my sister in SC. We went out to dinner and had a good time chatting about whatever. She's supposed to stop over again thursday on her way back up to IN.

We've had a bit of real snow for the first time this year. It's starting to melt off now, but we had probably better than 1.5 inches this morning - which is about twice what we generally get.

We're supposed to host a Muppethon this saturday - a bunch of us are going to get together to watch some Muppet movies. Why? The question, my friends, is why not?


Blog entry in three part discord

Tuesday December 11, 2007 at 12:53pm birthdays, movies, weather Comments (2) »

Last saturday was Sheri's birthday. To celebrate, she, Tony, Ginger and I all went to Holiday Lanes and bowled 3 games (from which i'm still a little sore). We all had a great time. Perhaps we will do that again sometime.

After the bowling, we took her out for dinner at Texas Roadhouse, and then returned here where we had cake, ice cream and presents for the bunny. Tony gave her a game called Treehouse, Ginger got her a hummingbird feeder, and I gave her the Jungle Book dvd and the Ticket To Ride: Switzerland expansion.

We rounded out the evening by playing a couple games of Ginger's Mario Golf.

Good times. :-)

In other, unrelated news:

I don't get excited about the movies that most would. This makes me happy:

Tim Burton to Direct Alice in Wonderland

I think this could be very, very good. I've always liked these stories and the characters, and I think Burton's somewhat darker (than Disney) imagery could make a very cool adaptation.

In other, very unrelated news:

Tuesday, December 11th, 2007. 72 75 degrees. I'm not complaining, but that's a little freakish...


Say hi to Ally, etc

Monday May 21, 2007 at 12:23pm dogs, movies, yard work, Comments (1) »

Well, eventually we broke down. It was sort of bound to happen. I think we just felt a little too sorry for the poor little doggie. If we'd have found a no-kill shelter or something right away, that might have been one thing - but we didn't want to just turn her over to the pound. I guess we would have felt a little guilty. Also, I have to admit that, after she'd been around for a week, I'd kinda miss her if we gave her away.

So yeah, in case that wasn't clear enough, we've decided to keep the her. We've decided to call her "Ally" , which is short for "Allegro" - a musical term that means something like "fast", "lively" or "happy". It seems to suit both her and us.

Now we get to go about taking her to vet, etc.

In other random news, I finally got to see Pan's Labyrinth. I consider it to be a very good movie, but it's not one I could watch a lot I don't think. Its pretty graphically violent, and is very, very sad. It made me tear up at the end. (Actually, a fair number of stories do that to me.) Also, it's in spanish with english subtitles - which is perfectly fine by me, but it makes it a poor 'background noise' movie (which is how I usually watch movies - i don't often have the attention span to sit through entire movies).

I other, other random news: I have got the weed eater out and cleared out our side ditch. Our yard is about as well kept as it can get at this point. You all should come see it sometime in the next week - 'cause I'm sure after that it will be overgrowing again.


Curse of the Were-Spaghetti

Wednesday February 8, 2006 at 11:03am movies, food, friends Comments (0) »

Last night was fun. Sheri, Ginger Tony & I got to hang out, which, of course, is always fun. Beyond that, Ginger, Sheri and I played some Age of Empires - which was fun even though we lost. A lot. I made spaghetti for us, which turned out quite tasty and then we all watched the just-released Wallace & Gromit movie: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit - which was very good.

Aside from the precipitated mess in the kitchen, the fact that Sam skipped out on us, and the unfortunate cutting of my finger while chopping onions, it was a great evening.


Lord of the Penguins

Monday October 10, 2005 at 12:57pm penguins, gaming, movies Comments (5) »

as mentioned in the forum already, i am now the (proud?) owner of a full-body penguin costume. :) This signifies a level of penguin-ness i previously would not have thought possible. Apparently there was a conspiracy involving several friends, acquaintances and game store owners to get me this thing.

i still want a cloak.

we didn't really have an open mic at the coffeehouse like we were supposed to friday night, but that's mostly because nobody else came to play anything. It was ok though, we ended up working a mystery puzzle for most of the evening. It is a very interesting thing to work on a puzzle with 4 other people when none of you know what the picture looks like.

saturday evening sheri, eric and i taught cory a little about d&d and roleplaying in general. I'm not sure how much she really wants to play, but apparently she's going to give it a try, which is cool. Teaching new people about the game is always an interesting experience. Still, you really can't get a feel for it by talking about it, you just gotta play it.

in other news, the wallace and gromit movie is out, and i need to see it. really.



Saturday September 17, 2005 at 11:03pm movies, coffeehouse, video games, website Comments (0) »

if 'supercalifragilisticexpialidocious' is something to say when you don't know what to say, what do you blog about when you don't know what to blog?

in case the previous bit didn't give it away, we happen to be watching 'mary poppins'. This movie amuses me for reasons i don't entirely understand. Maybe i have pleasant associations from my childhood...or maybe i like the layering of the fantastical with the ordinary...or maybe i'm just thinking more about it than anyone should think about a movie that won an award for 'best song' being something called 'chim chiminy'.

so anyway, today was a good day. we went to visit anselm earlier today - he misses ginger. we could hear him meowing from the bottom of the stairs outside her apartment. from there we went to dice & played quiddler with llama, eric and cory. llama won, but he didn't come anywhere close to his high score of something like 361 - though at one point he was pretty sure his hand was capable of summoning cthulu.

friday (since we had no game) we went to the coffeehouse to play some games and hang out. sue complimented me on the songs sam & played there last friday and asked if i'd play again when they had the next open mic. i said i would. now i need to see if i can get ahold of sam...

in other news, i've made it to the 5th world in (dude) yoshi's island and i've got an interesting colosseum session planned for the next one-shot i run...

i've also made quite a few changes to this site over the last couple of weeks - smoothing out the appearance and interface and just generally having fun with it.