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What I’ve Been Doing 3 Oct 2011 [FB/IB/F/BT/GO]
Oct 3rd, 2011 by Dan

Tampa Bay Rays at Baltimore Orioles 8 May 2011

The MLB Playoffs continue. While most of my weekend was spent watching baseball, I also got tons of other stuff in.

Movies

Hesher – When I saw the trailer for this Joseph Gordon-Levitt movie I thought it would be a weird character study. I was pretty much right about that, but it’s simultaneously weirder and crasser than you’d think without really being comedic. Hesher is a truly bizarre character, the likes of which I’ve never seen in movies before, but he’s still very interesting. Not worth going out of your way to see, but it’s pretty good.

TV

Parks and Recreation – Haven’t gotten around to the most recent episode yet, but this is a show that is absolutely on its game. First episodes of comedies are typically kind of weak, but I didn’t mind it. This is a show that has matured and found its legs and you should be watching it, no excuses.

Community – I liked the first two episodes of this season a lot more than other people did. While I agree that the high-concept, gimmick episodes are usually pretty great on Community, there should absolutely be room for the low-concept episodes where the actors are relying on character development rather than gimmicks. The Cougerton Abbey and Inspector Spacetime jokes in the first episode were also ridiculously hilarious.

2 Broke Girls – Is it really ok to make jokes about female masturbation at 8:30 on CBS? I mean, the obfuscated one early in the episode was, well, obfuscated, but later on she full-on is all, “I was masturbating.” I don’t have a problem with going blue with jokes, it just doesn’t seem to fit the tone or the time slot. How about this one, “We’ve known each other two days and you’re already asking for backdoor.” I love Kat Dennings, but she mugs for the camera so hard every time she says something smug. This show is definitely not good, but it gets me to laugh at least a little. I’m giving it two more episodes per the “Eric Mesa Four Episode Rule” which states that you cannot truly understand a show without giving it four episodes to really lay itself out.

New Girl – Schmidt slapping Spencer was hilarious in episode two, but I’m not sure I’m in it all the way yet. Zooey Deschanel is absolutely adorable, but the show leans on that a little too hard and it’s getting me kind of tired of her. We’ll see where I fall after two more episodes, but I’m not optimistic at this point.

Archer – The mini-series has been good, but not great. I got tired of the longer plot by the end. Archer is better in one-episode arcs or the more disconnected two- or three-episode arcs they do in the regular season. Still funny, but not my favorite. Now I’ve got to wait for January for more. Danger zone!

Childrens Hospital – Did I perhaps enjoy this episode more because Lake Bell spent most of it naked while Malin Åkerman lusted over her? Ok, I’ll cop to that. The episode was funny, but not to the show’s usual standards. I’m amazed that it got me laugh at some of the jokes they tossed out there this episode. Good stuff, guys.

Up All Night – I’ve seen all the new comedies that I’m interested in and this is the best one. Will Arnett and Christina Applegate have a real handle on their characters. I wasn’t expecting to like this at all, but it’s genuinely funny. It’s kind of weird that I love this show about young parents considering that I’m neither married nor do I have a child, but it’s funnier than you think. I like that it’s dealing with getting older and trying to remain hip/cool, haha. I can relate!

Prime Suspect – A remake of a supposedly awesome English show, this was another revelation. I was expecting to find Maria Bello too smug and annoying as a character, but she’s tough without being obnoxious (even though she likes wearing that stupid hat). The storylines/crimes are dark and kind of freaky, but I like that they’re not glamorizing crime. After The Wire I thought I’d never be able to appreciate a cop procedural again, but this one isn’t bad. Really makes me want to go back to The Wire, though.

Glee – “Who doesn’t love the Go-Gos?” “I prefer The Bangles”. I totally hated the first episode until “It’s Not Unusual”, “You Can’t Stop the Beat”, and the line above had all hit the screen. Last season was a disaster, in my eyes. The show totally got off the rails, focused too much on boring storylines and dull characters, but so far we’ve had nary a Rachel/Finn drama moment and I’m totally ok with that. Bringing back Idina Menzel was brilliant and I’m digging where this whole Quin/custody thing might be going, assuming it doesn’t get really stupid. Way to return to form, guys.

Dexter – Showtime aired this thing before Dexter where they were talking about the themes and such and I watched it and I hated that I did because they were talking about how much this season would be about faith, blah blah blah, and that was in my mind all episode where they really hammered home the faith thing way too hard. Your viewers are not stupid, guys. You can be a little more subtle. Decent start to the season, even if I already don’t care about Angel and his sister. Like I really don’t care.

BASEBALL – The Rays win over the Yankees in dramatic, walk-off fashion was part of the greatest baseball day in my life. As far as the playoffs go, the important series are going better than I’d hoped. Rays/Rangers, Phillies/Cardinals, and Yankees/Tigers all have them knotted at one game a piece. I’d like to see Tampa, St. Louis, and Detroit move on, but we’ll see what happens tonight. Milwaukee has really impressed me this postseason and they’ve become my favorite to take the pennant and go for the series. If St. Louis knocks out Philadelphia it’ll be that much easier.

Music

Not much of note to mention here this week as I’ve fallen behind on my music podcasts. I will say that if you like video games and you’re not listening to the Giant Bombcast you’re doing something wrong.

Books

REAMDE – Classic Neal Stephenson, but with a lot more restraint than what you’d expect. I can see so many threads from his older books coming together to form this guy, which isn’t a bad thing. It’s really captured my imagination. It’s funny to me how a lot of books would be done by the 300th page (I’m around 350) and it took to 250 to introduce the book’s main villain. EDIT: Forgot to mention that a lot of the action has been taking place in Iowa and Xiamen, the places where David lives and Min is from, respectively. Good times!

(COMIC BOOKS FOLLOW)

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man – I’m really digging the new Mile Morales character. Bendis and Pichelli are knocking this book out of the park. Can’t wait for next week’s issue.

The Ultimates – Hickman’s take on Ultimate Reed Richards and his villainous Children of Tomorrow is super neat. They took away Thor’s divinity! Crazy stuff.

Ultimate Comics X-Men – Nick Spencer is also blowing this book out of the water. Kitty Pryde as a mutant terrorist is brilliant. Johnny Storm on the X-Men is hilarious. This could be great.

FF – Typically solid and really makes me anticipate each new issue. Good stuff.

Amazing Spider-Man – Not as good as I’d hoped it would be. Takes too much time recapping its tie-ins instead of progressing the plot.

SI: Deadly Hands of Kung Fu – Why did I buy this? Seriously…just kind of boring.

Venom – Excellent writing and story even if I think the resolution between alcoholic father and symbiote addict son was tacked on and forced.

Incorruptible – Weaker than I’d hoped it would be. Still good, but I was hoping for more. I really hope this isn’t becoming an afterthought for Waid because there are interesting stories to be told here.

Video Games

Team Fortress 2 – Apparently Morghan’s playing now. That’s pretty sweet.

Gears of War 3 – So much Horde mode! I still love this game. Epic at its finest.

What I’ve Been Doing 29 Aug 2011 [FB/IB/F/BT/GO]
Aug 29th, 2011 by Dan

Hurricane Isabel

Thankfully the damage was minimal in MD.

Movies

Paprika – When the week started I didn’t realize I’d be getting back into Satoshi Kon so hardcore. I actually put off watching it two weeks ago because I thought it would be scarier, but it turned out to not be so bad (and it was awesome). Made me put Perfect Blue at the top of the queue. More here.

Perfect Blue – Definitely the freakier of the two movies. Excellent to see the roots of Satoshi Kon’s work. More here.

TV

Weeds – I was thinking that Nancy getting out of her problems would take a lot longer than one episode, wow. Still good, but wow. Silas and Nancy have always had an antagonistic relationship, but it’s weird to see them so at odds and it blowing up in Silas’ face when he trusts Harriet the Spy.

The Hour – Finished the episode. The spy elements are stupid and I don’t really understand why everyone thinks this is so great. Maybe another episode is required?

Retro Game Master – This week the Kacho tried to beat 53 Stations of the Tōkaidō. They added a nice touch where each time he entered a new area/prefecture they would give him a local delicacy. The episodes they’ve been choosing to localize have gotten funnier each week and I’m kind of bummed their “season” is about to end.

Music

Alt Latino – Mala Rodriguez was the guest on this week’s show and her brand of hip hop was pretty neat. It’s weird to hear vulgarity in Spanish music since I grew up only listening to the tamer stuff.

Cartoon Medley – This was on my tumblr, but it’s awesome, so repost:

Only criticism is during the TMNT part. They’re not “turtles in a half-shell”, they’re “heroes in a half-shell”. The other lyric makes no sense.

Books

No real reading this week, just comics.

The Ultimates – Great start to the book. They really set it up as “everything goes wrong at once!” and I’m digging it. It also helps that Hickman is a fantastic writer.

Chew – The Flambé arc comes to a close. It didn’t have as many “wow” moments as some of the earlier ones, but it’s definitely intriguing as the Avian Flu mystery deepens.

X-Men – The FF were in this book so I picked it up at Eric’s behest. Funny. Not great, but fun.

X-23 – Spidey was in this one so I grabbed it since Eric liked it. Pretty good book and I like supporting female comic talent too.

Captain America and Bucky – Chris Samnee’s art makes this book worth the cover price. The story’s just ok, but the art I love.

Incorruptible – Not the most exciting start to a new arc, but whatever just showed up seems to be really scary to everyone?

Secret Warriors – Can’t wait for the last volume. I want to see where this goes. The first parts of this series were better than the middle parts so hopefully the last book goes out with a bang.

FF – The action is back and this issue is really great. Doom pimp slapping one of the Reeds was awesome.

Video Games

Team Fortress 2 – I was worried about losing power this weekend so I tried to take advantage of as much power as possible. That resulted in too much TF2. I think I played over 20 hrs. Maybe even over 30. So much fun. I got a few new stranges that make things even better (stranges count kills).

Dragon Age 2 – Beat the game a first time this weekend. Really good stuff. I like how they narrowed down the narrative to keep things more focused. Really made me care about what happened in Kirkwall. On my second playthrough now.

What I’ve Been Doing 15 Aug 2011 [FB/IB/BT/GO]
Aug 15th, 2011 by Dan

Blade Runner Lobby Card 06

There are no blades in this movie.

Movies

Blade Runner – Until today I’d never seen what many people consider to be the greatest sci-fi movie ever made. Fixed that this week. It’s an amazing movie full of symbolism and all kinds of neat visual imagery, but I didn’t love watching it. Definitely important to see, but you might not have a lot of fun watching it.

TV

Weeds – The shady accounting subplot they were slowly building looks like it’s coming to a head, but this season has been lacking some of the razor-sharp focus of last season. It makes sense considering last season had a goal of getting away from Esteban. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still enjoying it, but I’m very curious. It is neat to see how hamstrung Nancy has been by her son, job, and the halfway house, which is not her way, being turned into an empowered role yet again by working with the SEC.

Top Gear – My favorite show on British television. Watched part of an episode where Jeremy was racing the other two to Oslo or something via car while they were hiring other people and taking a boat. Had a funny ending, per usual. Great show.

How I Met Your Mother – I stopped watching this show about three years ago. Went back to finish off that season. It can be a fantastic show, provided that Ted isn’t in a scene. He’s so obnoxious and elitist and preachy that any episode not dealing with the mother/Ted is instantly in the top ten.

Retro Game Master – The Kacho played S.O.S. (AKA Septentrion in Japan) this week and declared himself a winner despite not getting a “good ending”. It was a funnier episode, but it was kind of quiet with so little action from the ADs

Books

One of Our Thursdays Is Missing – Finished the book. There was no shift to the real Thursday Next, which was a bummer. I wonder if Jasper Fforde is preparing us to make her the protagonist? Not my favorite Thursday Next book, but enjoyable.

Collected Stories (Gabriel García Márquez) – Only read one short story and half of another, but it seems that Márquez was obsessed with death in his early career. His writing has that definite postmodern surrealism that I’ve seen in guys like Murakami, so it’s very interesting.

Comics from here down.

Ultimate Fallout – This week’s issue was terribly weak. A budget story for Nick Fury and a too long explanation of how Quicksilver plans to enslave and exploit mutants for profit. Not worth reading.

The Red Wing – The plot thickens! I bet the ending of this mini is the beginning of the mini (it’s about time travel and cycles). More of Hickman’s obsession with fathers and sons too.

Morning Glories – I really like Nick Spencer’s book about a homicidal and insane prep school. Things remain unpredictable and I love that about the book.

Secret Warriors – Neat installment. Makes me excited to see more. Very well done.

Captain America and Bucky – Bought it on the strength of Chris Samnee’s art and it did not disappoint. Don’t really care for Cap, but it’s worth it.

Amazing Spider-Man – Spider-Island begins! I like the premise and I like the interaction between Peter and his girlfriend, Carlie, who now has spider powers. A lot more humor in this book than in the past few issues, so I’m all about it. The jokes are why I love Spider-Man, after all.

SI: Cloak and Dagger – A Spider-Island tie-in, this was actually my favorite book of the week. Beautifully illustrated by Emma Ríos, this book delivered on all counts. Filled with gorgeous art and Nick Spencer’s insightful writing, this book was a must read for comic book fans whether or not it had to do with Spider-Island.

SI: Deadly Foes – The Hobgoblin part of this book far outweighed The Jackal part. Very uneven.

Nonplayer – Amazing art and a neat take on MMOs bleeding into the real world. Could be neat.

Video Games

Team Fortress 2 – Got to 2004 kills! My long journey is over! I’m moving on to other class achievements, but this was a lot of fun.

Catherine – Got a Catherine ending (and golds on the other levels so I can easily skip ahead for other endings) and it was really funny! Two endings down, six to go.

Dragon Age 2 – (I also played about 20 mins of DA:O) I put off playing this game for a long while thinking it couldn’t be as good as the first, but I’m really digging this game. It consumed 11 hours of my Sunday and before I knew it the clock read 0200! Can’t wait to get back into this game! It’s got a lot more crunch than Origins and I’m loving the characters so much I can’t decide who to keep in my party.

What I’ve Been Doing 8 Aug 2011 [FB/IB/BT/GO]
Aug 6th, 2011 by Dan

The new Spider-Man is Miles Morales, a previously unseen character motivated to do good by Peter's sacrifice...or so Marvel says. I've yet to read a story issue with him in it.

Movies

Horrible Bosses – Part of me thought it was hilarious and part of me thought it was passable. There were some really strange story beats in this no doubt because this wasn’t the dark comedy it was advertised to be. I dunno what the proper word for it would be…dim comedy? Without implying that the comedy was stupid, I mean to say that Jennifer Aniston’s part in the story was treated completely differently than the two male bosses and was resolved in a way that felt tacked on. Decent movie, just not the funniest thing I saw this summer (:cough: Bridesmaids :cough:)

TV

Weeds – Having Heylia return to the show last week just reminds me how well-served this show is by its travels and changes. Being able to call back to the first couple of seasons and get a great emotional response is not easy. The story is moving in an interesting direction, but I’ve yet to see it thematically gel yet. I wonder if that has to do with Jacob Clifton’s fantastic summaries on TWoP being canceled? Great season so far.

Frisky Dingo – This is one of those 11-minute Cartoon Network comedies that Adult Swim specializes in. Had some genuine laugh out loud moments and some stupid stuff too. I think I like Archer a lot more (not CN).

Retro Game Master – I totally forgot to mention that I’ve been watching this. Kotaku bought licensing rights to bring RGM to the states and I’ve been enjoying watching the Kacho, Shinya Arino, try to conquer all kinds of classic games. Some episodes are better than others, but they’re usually pretty funny/interesting.

Books

One of Our Thursdays Is Missing – The central conceit of this book, that the real Thursday Next is missing, ends up being somewhat detrimental. I’m still legitimately enjoying the book, but I find that following the “fictional” Thursday around is less interesting than the “real” Thursday. Still got about a hundred pages left and I’m loving the book.

Slaughterhouse Five – Finished up the reread. Poignant and interesting. I love how layered Vonnegut’s writing is. You can choose to believe that Billy is telling the truth or not. There are clues layered all throughout the book that would prove either interpretation.

Ultimatum – Went back to read the old crisis for the Ultimate Universe that was supposed to change/relaunch it before this whole Death of Spider-Man thing. Wow, this was terrible. It was pointlessly violent, jumped around with no real narrative focus, and was just plain bad. I’m glad the side-universe is not mired in this anymore.

Secret Warriors – Got another book in. Still really interesting. Can’t wait to keep reading it.

Y: The Last Man – Finished my reread. It’s even better the second time. I love how deep the characters became and where the whole thing ended. Post-Y-chromosome Earth was interesting, but I really hope that kind of thing never happens for real!

Ultimate Fallout – The above panel came from this book. Our new Spider-Man is neat, but I won’t know more about him until this week. Racial controversy aside, he seems cool, but a little too similar to Peter in personality. Can’t reinvent all parts of the wheel, I guess. The other two parts of this book were pretty neat too. Always nice to read Hickman’s work.

Snarked – Roger Langridge’s look into the world of The Walrus and The Carpenter seems neat, but I don’t know if I’ll keep reading.

Moon Knight – I think this may have been my favorite of the releases this week. The art was just stunning and fun. This is a pretty cool book that I’m sure a lot of people aren’t reading or giving a chance.

Irredeemable – Speaking of underground books (I don’t actually know the circulation for this, but it can’t be huge), this was way depressing this week. Interesting, per usual, but depressing. The Plutonian is back and kicking all kinds of ass and he’s caught Earth with its pants down…again. The story is interesting, but it’s a bummer my favorite character didn’t make it in this issue.

SHIELD – Another gorgeous comic book. It’s still very confusing, but a book filled with Renaissance and Enlightenment scientists is always gold in my eyes.

Video Games

Catherine – I played this game just a little too haphazardly to get the ending I wanted. See, I was actively pushing away Katherine, who I find obnoxious, while answering questions like I would (in a quasi-responsible way), which resulted in me getting a Katherine ending. Ah, well. At least I’m having fun with the game on my second playthrough. I’m really down with the block puzzles. I might have more to say about the game in its own detailed post, but we’ll see.

Team Fortress 2 – Played so much of this over the weekend! I’m so close to getting the Scout achievement I’ve been chasing so long (1900-something/2004 kills). I’ll probably get it tonight or tomorrow night. It’s a lot of fun, but I’m kind of sad about having to play some other classes for a bit for achievement’s sake.

What I’ve Been Doing 1 Aug 2011 [FB/IB/BT/GO]
Aug 1st, 2011 by Dan

FLCL

My favorite cosplay from the con

Otakon was this weekend, but my stolen camera prevented me from photographing any of the cosplay. The example above was taken by Eric.

This week was comic book heavy. There was a huge sale at Eric’s shop that I took advantage of along with some Amazon orders to finish off small runs of series I was reading.

Movies

Barney’s Version – It’s weird to see movies prominently set in Canada. This Can-Lit adaptation is pretty good. I can see why Paul Giamatti won a Golden Globe for this. Again, solid, but not great. I think this one was probably better as a book.

Be Kind Rewind – I liked Eternal Sunshine, so I figured I’d give this Michel Gondry film a try. It’s another passable movie. It’s got heart, which I love, and Jack Black not Jack Black-ing it up too hard, which I also love, but, and this may just be me, Mos Def’s earnestness came off more like he might be developmentally challenged, not sincere. Not a terrible way to spend 102 minutes, but not the best way either.

TV

Better Off Ted – I thought this show was really funny when it was on. It still is, but I can also totally see why it was canceled. Not bad for when I want to watch something no streaming when I’m eating a meal or something.

Weeds – This season has been really good! I love how much this show evolves and I actually dig the new NYC setting. I’m interested in where this Doug plotline is going (for once!) and I’m also impressed by how much Hunter Parrish is killing it yet again as Silas. This week also brought back a character from the early seasons, which is part of what makes this show so great. There’s an established past that can be referred to even though the present keeps evolving…you know, like real life.

Books

One of Our Thursdays is MissingA REAL BOOK?! Yep! The Thursday Next series has always been remarkably funny and clever to a sneaky degree. Sure, some knowledge of literature is assumed, but it’s mostly stuff that any educated person would come across naturally. Any other gaps can be filled by Wikipedia. Funny in a way that books rarely are anymore, this one is really pulling me in.

Slaughterhouse Five – Still making progress, but sidelined by OoOTiM (see above), this story remains one of my favorites.

Daytripper – Twin brothers Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá created this fantastic, beautiful, somber series about the important moments that define our lives. Like real life, they frame the beautiful with the somber. Each issue is framed with the death of the protagonist, an obituary writer for part of his life, and an obit about where his life is when he “died”. Beautiful art, good writing, and a plot that is deep and engaging while remaining light and digestible.

Air – A series that’s supposedly acclaimed, but whose premise falls entirely flat to me. It’s about a stewardess who is afraid of heights and shadowy conglomerations trying to get air technology that doesn’t use oil. Just…boring. I didn’t really like the art either. Really did not resonate with me.

Thor: The Mighty Avenger – Finished off the eight-issue (over WAY too soon) run of the delightful and excellent series by Roger Langridge and Chris Samnee. Fantastic lines, beautiful art, and light, happy dialog that reminds us our heroes don’t have to be angsty or violent to be interesting. It’s just sweet and fun and if you don’t like it, it’s entirely possible that your heart has turned to stone.

Amazing Spider-Man – I gave the book another try after thoroughly disliking #665. The latest, #666, remains far too wordy and doesn’t let the characters or art breathe, but I also read some back issues around where Peter joins the FF that were absolutely delightful. More importantly, they were funny. That’s what Spider-Man books are all about. Sure, there’s plenty of Peter angsting and brooding, but there should also be jokes. Funny jokes! I’m on-board for Spider Island (or, should I say, #SpiderIsland (no, don’t ever say that))! Hope it doesn’t disappoint.

Ultimate Fallout – The book lost a little focus and fun this issue between Tony Stark’s mystery rich people secret society and Kitty’s angst (overusing that word today, I know), but I still enjoyed the writing of the latter while I was intrigued by Jean Grey and The Hulk. Not the best issue, but I can’t wait for the reveal of the new (Ultimate) Spider-Man in this week’s book.

Irredeemable – This book continues to get better and better. I’m all caught up in continuity and I’m just loving the drama and struggles between The Plutonian and the remaining, surviving heroes. The most recent issue had quite the cliffhanger as the end of the arc, which is disappointing to me only in that my favorite character may be out of the story for a few issues. Mark Waid’s book remains one of my favorite reads at the moment.

Incorruptible – The companion piece to Irredeemable has the world’s worst supervillain reforming and becoming a superhero after witnessing The Plutonian’s mass murder/destruction of Sky City. Max Damage (dumb name, I know) is initially clueless about being a hero, but his development (and the addition of Alana Patel, The Plutonian’s ex-girlfriend, to his cast) makes for a really interesting story. I love the unstable partners (Jailbait and Headcase) and the recovering alcoholic police lieutenant on his side. Irredeemable has a grander scale and a more interesting ensemble, but Incorruptible’s more focused nature makes for an equally interesting character study. I wish the two intersected a little more, but it’s not the biggest problem.

FF and Fantastic Four: Dark Reign – Guess what? I like Jonathan Hickman’s writing. You’ll see more of that later on in this blog, but I enjoy it. FF is currently mired in some backstory that has me intrigued, but most fans bored, while the old issues I read in Dark Reign were funny, satisfying, and tied in nicely with later Fantastic Four/FF books.

Ultimate Fantastic Four – Nearly done with my run through this series. Main continuity beats it in terms of quality, but the situations inherent to the Ultimate Universe are still interesting.

Secret Warriors – More Hickman, this time writing about Nick Fury exiled from SHIELD. Makes sense why he started the Brotherhood of the SHIELD book, but I’m wondering now if the two are related, especially since HYRDA called themselves “The Spear” in an early issue of this book. I’d love for Hickman to just revamp the Marvel universe’s perceptions of SHIELD and, considering the huge revelation of this book’s first issue, I’d say he probably succeeded at that. Yet another book for me to collect!

Moon Knight – Bendis’ attempt to revive the oft-canceled series about a multiple personality disorder superhero has been remarkably good. I don’t want to spoil any of it, but I doubt you can be disappointed with the first two issues of this. I haven’t read beyond that (there’s one more), but it’s a lot of fun. I’m digging it.

Cowboy Ninja Viking – Just trying to finish off the book. Two volumes. Most certainly canceled due to lack of sales, but not with enough lead time to get a satisfying conclusion. I really feel like the second set of issues didn’t deliver on the fun promised by the first five.

Morning Glories – I get such flashes of Lost every time I read this book, which is a good thing. Sure, the whole “violence at a prep school” thing has been done to death, but it’s quite interesting here in this context. I’m at the edge of my seat wanting to find out what will happen next issue.

Wolverine/Deadpool One-Shot – The first story in this book was funny, involving Deadpool, Wolverine, cross-dressing, and a robot, but the second story was a little too madcap and stupid.

Y: The Last Man – The reread continues after much delay! I really dig this story and how well it deals with the post-apocalyptic aftermath of the elimination of the Y chromosome.

Video Games

Team Fortress 2 – I’m tantalizingly close to realizing my Scout achievement goal of 2004 kills (3/4 of the way there is closer than you’d think!). Getting back into this game was definitely a shock to me.

Catherine – The central conflict of this game is choosing responsible, bossy Katherine or impulsive, immature Catherine. It’s impossible to go into this game without any baggage (unless you’ve never dated anyone) and mine is screaming out at me every time I play this game. Sure, I abhor cheating, but Katherine’s bossiness and smothering, maternal nature reminds me so much of my Ex that I can’t stand her character. Throw in tons of blatant (and subtle) masculine/feminine symbolism and Freudian levels of horror and fear toward women and you’ve got a game that is more interesting to think about than to play. The block puzzles are neat, but they’re not doing it for me. Probably doesn’t help that I’m not very good at them either…

What I’ve Been Doing [FB/IB/BT/GO]
Jul 18th, 2011 by Dan

Cloud Cosplay Otakon 2010

San Diego Comic-Con is coming up this week, so I thought I'd make this week's post some cosplay

San Diego Comic-Con is upon us and for once I actually read comics. I’m excited to learn about Marvel’s new December event, but, in the meantime, here’s what I’ve been up to.

Movies:

Out of Sight – Steven Soderbergh’s Elmore Leonard adaptation was a pretty solid flick and about the only thing I’ve ever seen Jennifer Lopez do a fantastic job in. George Clooney turned in a great performance playing his usual role as well. Worth watching for their intriguing chemistry. Love noticing the similarities to other Leonard works like Justified (he loves him some US Marshals, huh?)

Role Models – Decent comedy. Nothing to write home about. I liked it well enough, even if Jane Lynch’s role is a little tired. Also funny to see Ken Jeong before he’d fully developed what’s become the Ken Jeong character. I also really like Elizabeth Banks in anything. She’s funny.

TV:

The League – FX’s comedy about fantasy football is reliably funny most weeks and laugh out loud funny on occasion. I started watching it thanks to commercials during It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia and I’m returning to S1 since it’s on streaming. Always interesting to see the actors figuring out the characters before they have a real feel for it and also neat to see how pilot sets differ from real sets. A nice half-hour distraction.

Books:

FF – This month’s Inhumans origin story was lukewarm to most readers I know, but I think I’m starting to get the hang of them and I’m intrigued by where Hickman is going with this origin.

The Red Wing – Hickman’s new mini-series shows promise with a premise about wars fought across time. Could be neat.

Amazing Spider-Man – I found the writing in this to be juvenile and a little too “explain-y” for my tastes. You have art and pictures, use expressions and subtlety to do your work, please!

Avengers vs. New Ultimates – The end of this mini resulted in (Ultimate) Spider-Man dead and Nick Fury put back in charge of SHIELD. Too bad. I liked Carol Danvers a lot more. I worry that this is to have Fury in place when the Avengers movie comes out next year.

Ultimate Fallout – Bendis gets busy setting up the universe for the Reborn relaunch. Spider-Man’s funeral is a tear-jerker and the book has promise. Best thing is its weekly status. Can’t wait for book 3 to find out who the new Spider-Man will be.

Video Games:

Left 4 Dead (1 & 2) – David finally built himself a new PC which means he can finally play modern shooters with me! We started our co-op experience with lots of Left 4 Dead. We finished all the campaigns in the first game and now we’re working on 2. I’ve been reminded of just how spectacular these two games are and how much fun Left 4 Dead was. Good times.

Torchlight – Finished the main game. Now it’s just kind of grinding for the other achievements and for loot’s sake. I worry that this game is gonna tire me out too much for when Diablo III comes out, but then I remember that Diablo won’t be out until 2012, at the earliest, and I breathe much easier.

Portal 2 – A little co-op with the hermano. Good stuff, even if he smashed me with some giant, movable blocks. Can’t wait for some dlc maps…

Team Fortress 2 – The surprise entry this week. I played for 12 hours this weekend and had a real blast. The Strange Weapons have been the coolest draw for me since they level up as you “feed” them with kills. So much fun. Played a lot with Eric too, which is nice. I don’t think I’ve played an FPS with him for that much time since we played Goldeneye. What a blast.

What I’ve Been Doing [F/FB/IB/BT/GO]
Jul 11th, 2011 by Dan

2010 Pine Leaf Boys scene from Treme, Breaux Bridge April 30 (23 of 34)

A performance from Tremé

Tomorrow night’s the All-Star Game, but my coverage might be a little different than usual. I plan on watching it with friends, so there may not be a liveblog, but I will cover it in the morning. In the meanwhile, here’s what I’ve been up to.

Music:

Rx Bandits – Saw the Bandits down at the 9:30 Club on Saturday for their farewell tour. I don’t think anything will match the unparalleled emotion I felt at Five Iron Frenzy’s “Winners Never Quit” tour back in 2003, but it was a special show. They’re not writing off being a studio band, but that may have been the last time I’ll ever see the Bandits and they did not disappoint. Great show. The tour t-shirt puts me up to 5 RxB t-shirts. I think I’ve reached excessive there.

Movies:

Carancho - Ricardo Darín’s strong showing in El secreto de sus ojos attracted me to this movie. In it, Darín plays a carancho (translates to vulture), or an ambulance chaser, who scams victims out of their settlements. The story is a little uneven, but it’s clear to me that Darín is ridiculously talented and I love seeing him in anything. Gotta track down more of his films.

TV:

Tremé – Finally got around to watching the season 2 finale. Good stuff. It’s neat to see the differences between Tremé and The Wire. David Simon is clearly not compelled to make this show more watchable by limiting the live music or giving it a more structured plot, but that’s ok sometimes. It’s nice to see the different storylines just play out because, hey, that’s life. Good to also see the Vietnamese shrimp boats as a preparation for an eventual Gulf Oil Spill storyline.

Dead Like Me – As a fan of Pushing Daisies, I was not surprised to learn that this was a Bryan Fuller show. The same little quirks were apparent in the early episodes and although he left the show rather early in its run, his DNA runs through it. I gotta wonder about Fuller’s preoccupation with death and women with masculine nicknames…Anyway, it’s a pretty solid show that my girlfriend is watching and I hop in for an episode or two wherever she is. The premise, that the main characters are grim reapers who collect souls that are about to die, is pretty neat and I dig the characters. I also like that it was a Showtime show, so the writers are free to let the characters talk like real people.

Mad Men – Last weekend I just blew through S3 and S4. This is a fantastic show. I do love it when a show finds itself continually evolving so it’s neat to see how far the characters have come since S1. It was a little troubling in the 4th season to see Don struggling, but I’m excited to see what S5 brings in 2012. This is seriously one of the best shows I’ve seen in ages. Very good.

Books:

Chew – New issue (#19) came out last week. Toni appears in this one and she’s rapidly grown on me as one of my favorite characters. The latest issue sets up a lot of neat plot points that I’m excited to see born out and also reveals some interesting secrets about the Chu family. Definitely the best so far in the new arc.

S.H.I.E.L.D. – My love affair with Jonathan Hickman’s work has not abated yet. His examination of the secret history of an organization that a lot of Marvel fans kind of take for granted is very interesting. Could have interesting implications for the greater Marvel universe, but it also ties in very nicely with Hickman’s work in FF. Gotta wonder if Hickman has some serious father issues, because it’s yet another book of his thematically dealing with fathers and sons, but this time with a fate vs. free will wrinkle.

Fantastic Four/FF – More Hickman, more awesomeness. I finally got around to reading Hickman’s run on Fantastic Four and I was seriously impressed. I mean, we’re talking a breadth of narrative that’s still bearing fruit in his current issues of FF. FF is one of my most anticipated books every month. I can’t wait to see what The War of the Four Cities will bring and whether or not the issues with the Council of Reeds (first introduced at the start of Hickman’s run back in 2009) will be resolved in this arc.

Ultimate Fantastic Four – Still cool, but man does it pale in comparison to the work being done on FF. Almost done with it, so I’ll continue for now.

Video Games:

Torchlight – Picked this guy up for $2 or so in the Steam summer sale. and it was well worth the purchasing price. Definitely scratching my Diablo itch with some seriously addictive game mechanics. Playing as the pet class and loving all the summons, but on Very Hard the final dungeons are proving challenging. I’m afraid to try it hardcore next, but the challenge is calling me (for those who don’t know, hardcore mode means that death is permanent for a character. THE ULTIMATE CHALLENGE!)

Left 4 Dead – David finally built himself a new computer allowing him to play all the sweet games of the past that we couldn’t play before. We played No Mercy last night and it was a real blast from the past. I can’t wait for him to see the ways the game has evolved in L4D2! I’m sure he’ll find it just as awesome as I do.

inFamous – Beat it on very hard on the good track. Considering an evil run for trophies, but, truth be told, this game is middling, at best, and I don’t know if I’ll be able to motivate myself to play it again with more interesting options on hand.

StarCraft 2 – Played a couple of quick rounds with Dave and one of his friends. Still solid, but I’m not always in the mood.

What I’ve Been Doing [FB/IB/BT/GO]
Jun 28th, 2011 by Dan

WEEDS Poster Mary Louise Parker

TV

Weeds – New season started yesterday. The three year time gap puts Nancy in New York City and moves far past the storylines from last year by also claiming that Esteban is dead and his cartel disbanded. It seems that Nancy is heading toward working in the weapons trade instead, which is interesting, but we’ll see where the season goes. Ever since they left Agrestic this show has really started to shine as it changes every year. Can’t wait to see where it goes this year.

Tremé – Only one episode left this season. The culmination of the events lacks the oomph of old finales of The Wire, but this show remains solidly entertaining even without being thrilling.

Movies

X-Men: First Class – One of the better action movies I’ve seen in a while with only a few disappointments:

– January Jones does not exercise her talents at all in this movie. Emma Frost is a little uninspired.
– Any moment where the characters feel the need to say “We should be called the X-Men!” or “Call him Magneto”. They all fall flat for me where they’re supposed to be great moments?

McAvoy, Byrne, and Fassbender, especially, are all great in their more senior roles in the movie. Jennifer Lawrence is mostly great, but gets saddled with some of those terrible lines that I hate. Worth seeing.

Bad Teacher – Not as bad as the critics make it seem, but the implied shared heritage with Bad Santa doesn’t seem to be helping the movie any. I didn’t really like Bad Santa, so I’m ok either way. Kind of long, but stupid, passable comedy. See Bridesmaids instead, but if you’ve already seen it, no harm in coming here.

Video Games

Shadows of the Damned – Played the first act with Min watching. Delightfully juvenile and chock full of style. Stay away if dick jokes offend you. I’m serious. Still early, but I dig Resident Evil 4-style gameplay so I’m down so far.

Hot Springs Story – Playing this on my Android phone. Sounds like a dating sim or H-game, but it’s really not. A management sim that will easily pass the time and be very entertaining. Fun for short bursts.

Books

FF (Future Foundation) – The First Family continues on after the death of Johnny Storm. Things are really starting to heat up with this initial arc and I’m really drawn in. Went back and picked up the rest of Jon Hickman’s run on Fantastic Four to try and catch up on the plot points being explored in FF. Can’t wait for the next issue tomorrow.

League of Extraordinary Gentlemen – The Invisible Man really put me off of this book for some reason since we’re introduced to him in a female boarding school where he was raping women and making them think it was the Holy Ghost doing so. There are plenty of bad people in comic books, but I just can’t get behind rooting for him as one of the heroes.

Proof – Supernatural cop series where “Proof” is John Prufrock, a Sasquatch working for “The Lodge” to investigate other cryptids and cryptid-related crimes. Seems neat, but didn’t grab me as much as…

Cowboy Ninja Viking – Ridiculously silly title and premise, but the book is about multiple personality disorder patients called Triplets who were trained to be assassins. The title character’s identities are self-evident, but the other combinations are pretty funny. Kind of confusing to follow some of his art, but I still dig it anyway.

Ultimate Spider-Man – (Ultimate) Spider-Man is dead. Who will be the next Spider-Man? I’m intrigued. Always loved this book and I can’t wait to see where it evolves.

Ultimate Fantastic Four – It’s interesting to see where this universe diverges from 616. The UFF has been pretty interesting, but the storytelling isn’t quite as sharp as I want it to be. I feel kind of like this book got a little less creative attention than some of the other Ultimate titles, but I still dig the team so I’ll finish off it’s run. I’m halfway done with it anyway.

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