Archive for February, 2017

Palo Alto and San Francisco

February 27, 2017

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How most trips start.

Last Sunday I flew on a trip to Palo Alto primarily to visit my youngest brother who works in the post-doctorate program at Stanford University. I packed the night before, filling up my old duffle bag with a bunch of clothes and putting together what I called my “go bag”. The flight was leaving at 7:30 in the morning and would arrive in San Francisco at 10:30 in the morning. Sort of like time travel. I got a call from my mom and she told me she would pick me up which surprised me because I had been planning to drive myself. I am extremely nervous about making flights on time and I knew that I would have trouble getting to sleep. I was right. I fell asleep at 4 am and I was woken up at 5:15 by the sound of my mom’s little car. We were off to San Francisco.

Our western destination.  It rained almost the whole time we were there.

I actually love most of the plane ride experience. I hate security but we randomly got Pre-TSA which made things a little simpler. After that, we were in an airport. While airports are expensive, I find them interesting little pockets of culture you cannot find anywhere else. The food is usually pretty good and the people who work there are super friendly. Once we were on the plane, I enjoyed it even more. I had time to sit where I was not at work and not connected to the internet. I watched two movies and an episode of The Librarians. I also listened to some podcasts while I tried to rest my eyes and I worked on the Bron story that posted this past Saturday. By the time we landed, I was fried.

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The site of the blue jeans store that Wiseau owned while making The Room.

The rest of Sunday is kind of a blur because I was so fried from only sleeping about an hour. I remember visiting a farmer’s market, playing video games with my brother and crashing at the hotel. The next day, we got up and decided to go into San Francisco. It was my third trip into the city but it was still awesome. I got to eat Dim Sum for the first time at a place called Tom Kiang. It was absolutely delicious. I do not eat much Asian food in general but I was glad to eat with my family walking me through it. We went to Fisherman’s Wharf which is where I was stunned to find the above tribute to the legendary Tommy Wiseau. It was the highlight of the trip for me. Ice Cream at the original Ghiradelli shop was a very close second.

Classy as all heck.

The next day we went and saw my brother’s lab and a lot of Stanford stuff. It was very impressive but not my story to tell since it involves his workplace. Of course, I am very proud of what he has accomplished and I know my folks are very proud as well. I knew him when he was just getting his start and now he’s at the top. Stanford is pretty cool. I went to school on the East Coast (which is technically still happening) so I never really experienced the laid back California attitude. A lot of scruffy dudes walking around in shorts and sandals and a huge bike culture. It is very different from what I am used to but I am sure I would have enjoyed it if I went to school out there.

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This was at Google.

The final day of our trip was a weird mishmash of things to do. We had planned on making a second trip into San Francisco but instead, we stuck around Palo Alto. We ate a great Mexican place called Palo Alto Sol where I ate a spicy burrito drenched in sauce. It reminded me how different the West approaches Mexican food. We decided to go visit Google since we were kind of in the neighborhood. We did not get a tour but we did visit their campus and their brand store. I almost bought a YouTube shirt because I am such a big fan. We went to the Computer History Museum which was pretty crazy. Seeing all the technology from start to present is pretty humbling. Also, my brothers and I got to walk our mother through the history of video games and software. Also, there was a huge exhibit on World of Warcraft of all things.

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We also found this on Day 3.  It’s California. Drink it in, maaaan.

Finally, we climbed into our plane at 10:30 pm for a red eye flight that would arrive at 6 am. Once again, I spent a sleepless night. After a long, tiring week and a peaceful red eye flight, I crashed at 8 am in the morning and slept a good chunk of Thursday so I could rest for work on Friday.

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Bron’s March

February 25, 2017

Bron had traveled quite a distance by then. The rage at his clan still burned deep in his heart and he never hesitated to unleash that anger. Creatures died as he swung his great ax. He used every part of them but more out of necessity than saving the environment. He thrilled at the new challenges each animal presented. His blood surged with each kill and sometimes he lost a day or two pursuing a target that temporarily got away. He did not care, the Witch had sent him in a direction. There was no true time limit.

Prey beasts became boring. There are only so many ways to skin a deer. Bears were more fun. Sometimes he would drop his great ax and just wrestle one of them. Finishing a bear off with his bare hands was difficult but satisfying. It felt like more of a fair fight, not that it mattered. He even got the drop on an owlbear once. The battle had been a close one but Bron had been victorious and he had consumed the beast as he healed the next two days.

By chance, he stumbled onto a robbery one day. He had not expected it. Neither had the robbers or the young woman standing on the roof of the carriage that was getting robbed. She had clearly noticed Bron first and her expression confused the robbers for the moment.

“Monster!” The woman shouted. Her eyes went wide as she turned completely away from the robbers.

She fired a bolt from her crossbow and Bron barely managed to get his arm up to block the shot. The sting of the bolt pissed Bron off. He lunged for the carriage in a blind rage but the robbers were already there in the way with their swords. They were actually defending the carriage they were trying to rob. The robbers put up a good fight. It was three against one but Bron barely felt their blows. The last robber died as Bron brought his ax down onto her neck. He thought about taking the head as a trophy but she just was not good enough to keep.

He looked up at the woman whose hands were shaking as she tried to load the crossbow. Bron slapped the crossbow aside and started to climb the carriage. She did not even run. In some ways, Bron respected that. It did not stop him from putting his hands around her neck. She made a little noise as he started to squeeze.

As he strangled her, he heard nothing but silence at first. Then he heard whimpering from inside. He looked to the woman’s right and saw the body of a slain ranger. The girl he was strangling was dressed as nobility.  A mistake had been made.  There were no warriors left here. He let go of her neck with a grunt. She gasped and turned a little less blue.

“No challenge,” Bron grumbled and jumped down from the carriage.

“You certainly get messy,” The witch said as she stepped from behind the carriage. Bron could still not see her face.

“None of this blood is mine,” Bron said. The remark was matter of fact and brief as ever.

“I imagine that’s true,” She said. “You have carved yourself a little path. How are you feeling?”

“I want more challenge,” Bron said. He stared hard at the dark shadow beneath the Witch’s hood.

“Patience,” The witch said. The word brought a growl from Bron’s throat. “Head to Neverwinter. The challenge you seek want starts there.”

“What do I want with a city?” Bron asked. He had born in the wild. He had never even been in a city before.

“Go and find out. Unless you think I am just smoke and mirrors,” The Witch said with a smile.

“What’s a mirror?” Bron said without a hint of humor in his voice.

The Witch laughed and slowly faded away.

Media Update 2/23/17

February 23, 2017


The Queen

I was only fourteen when Princess Diana died in Paris, France. Officially, the cause of death was a car accident but the paparazzi were the cause. I am an American citizen so I was not really in touch with the British monarchy. However, as Princess Diana rose to prominence, even us Americans started to take notice. From all appearances, she was a woman of the people and a huge celebrity. She did a lot for charity which won her all sorts of praise. She continued to spread goodwill even after she “escaped” the stuffy, old royals. In a world where we need there to be good guys and bad guys, Diana became the good guy and the royals the villains. When Diana died, the whole world mourned her and that is the starting point of this movie. The movie follows Elizabeth II, Prince Charles and the rest of the family as they deal with the death of a former princess. Additionally, newly elected prime minister Tony Blair tries to deal with the Queen and the public relations and logistics of the upcoming funeral. It is the story of old protocol conflicting with modernization. Also, it is a story about how one person can be seen in many different ways. Helen Mirren is excellent as Elizabeth II. She is really good at portraying the burden of a duty she believes was handed down by God. Dealing with Diana’s death is not only personal but it has to do with centuries of tradition. I cannot recommend this enough.


The Crown

After watching The Queen and a short film on the abdication of Edward VIII, I became intensely interested in the Royal Family of England. The show covers the early life of Elizbeth II who was forced to take the throne when her father, George VI, died of cancer. Much like The Queen, it also follows in parallel the inner workings of the Prime Minister’s office especially as Churchill dealt with the new Queen. As the show begins, Churchill has just been elected as prime minister for the second time. George is riddled with cancer but nobody is aware of how bad it is. Elizabeth has just married Phillip who is eager to get back to serving as a naval officer while his wife is asked to take on more responsibilities for her sick father. The show is absolutely beautiful and the acting is great. I was absolutely surprised to see Matt Smith as Phillip and he has an interesting story of a man who must stand behind his wife in her time of need. John Lithgow plays an older Churchill, an old war hero who is still sharp but may be past his prime. Claire Foy is great as Elizabeth II as we watch how vulnerable she is in private and strong she is in public. It is an amazing show to watch paired with The Queen as it dovetails really nicely with that movie. A lot of what I said about the crown above goes double for this show. The weight of the crown is really a huge focus here. I recommend it either before or after watching The Queen.


The King’s Speech

It was only natural that I would be interested in watching a movie about Elizabeth II’s father. George VI had a very similar situation to his daughter. He never wanted to be King but his brother was a nazi sympathizer who was engaged to a nazi spy. The English government used the fear of public relations and the rules of the Church of England to make Edward VIII abdicate the throne. This was good for the country but George VI was put into a position he never wanted to be in. He was happy being a prince where he could be out of the public eye. One of his biggest problems was a speech impediment, a stammer that apparently hounded him all of his life. I can definitely understand some of this. While I never stammered, I did see a speech therapist at one point because I was so shy about speaking in public. The very first scene is George making an appearance at a public function and having to deliver a speech and the utter hopelessness on his face brings up similar memories in my own life. Even today I hate speaking in public. The movie stars Colin Firth as George VI who is excellent as a vulnerable man who is trying to be better not only for his family but for his country. He interacts with a speech therapist played by Geoffrey Rush who is so entertaining to watch. The King’s wife Elizabeth (who will become Queen Mother) is played by Helena Bonham Carter who is refreshingly subtle compared to the work she usually does. Finally, King Edward VIII is played by Guy Pierce and he is such an asshole that you want to hate him immediately.

Music of the Week:
Hollywood Undead – Bullet

Jay Verze – Feelin’ Important

Sick Puppies – Stick To Your Guns

Ty Segall & The Muggers – Squealer

San Quinn – SF Anthem

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “British Monarchy in the 20th Century”
– I started watching the final season of Parks and Recreation
– I started Season 2 of Blue Bloods
– I am still watching The Librarians out of order
– I watched a whole lot of Youtube
– I just got back from the West Coast this morning
– Boy are my arms and my whole body tired from the red-eye flight

A Thursday Fire

February 20, 2017

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There was a fire around the corner the other day. It was a four-alarm fire on Union Avenue, the major thoroughfare in my neighborhood. It is the street I take to work and just about everywhere I need to or want to go. The thing is, I had no idea that it happened. I was asleep at the time and apparently upwind so I did not smell any smoke. The idea that something happened so close to me without my knowledge is kind of spooky but a credit to this city’s firefighters. They took care of the blaze without any collateral damage to surrounding neighborhoods.

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One thing that is also interesting is that I also did not hear the fire trucks or I did and they simply did not wake me up. I was born in Baltimore City and I was raised in that city as well. For most of my life, I have been a city slicker and that comes with accepting certain things. I used to live very close to University Parkway (and at one point on University Parkway) which brought with it certain realities. University Parkway is a major passage for emergency vehicles in that part of Baltimore. It is a wide, multi-lane road that is easy to navigate in a hurry. So we grew up hearing sirens more often than not. So it makes sense that I would not even notice extra sirens nearby.

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Usually, when a fire happens it is a horrible tragedy. If you remember, Baltimore had a huge fire during the riots nearly two years ago. In that fire, senior housing was burned down. Thankfully, nobody had moved in yet because construction was not quite done. Still, housing for seniors is a very important thing to have burned down. The building that burned on Thursday night was not being used for anything at the time. It was an old brick building nearby that I had taken pictures of last year because I found the graffiti on it interesting. The building was slated for development which I imagine will be dramatically delayed but at least nobody was killed.

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This also brought to mind how easy it is to get news, photographs and video of an event so soon after it happened. My brother asked me about the fire the morning after it happened and I had pictures of it on fire pulled up. I had the exact account of how it happened in minutes. It is extraordinary in this day and age that we get simple facts as wrong as we do when the real story is so close at hand. I suppose the problem comes in when so many people are seeing and saying different things. The truth should not be so complicated, should it?

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I walked down to the building on Friday to have a look for myself, partly because I felt awkward about not knowing that the event happened. By the time I arrived in the afternoon, everything was obviously all calm. You can see the damage from smoke on the outside but if you did not know there had been a fire, you would not be able to learn that from a glance. Of course, the double doors were wide open and the shadows inside hid what must have been black scorch marks. The windows that had already been broken, looked a little more heat damaged. On Saturday, all the open windows and doors had been boarded up.

Top 11 Fictional Jobs I Might Want

February 18, 2017

I am currently working at a paralegal internship and soon I will get undoubtedly get a job in the legal field. This got me thinking about where I might have ended up if things had gone differently. Of course, they have gone differently in the past, leading to my rather eclectic list of former jobs. But I started to think about my favorite television shows and movies and the jobs fictional characters have. What if I could have any job even a fictional one? Here is a list of the top 11 fictional jobs I might want.


11. Grim Reaper
(Dead Like Me)

In the world of Dead Like Me, dead people who are not ready to pass on can be chosen to act as reapers which is way more peaceful than you would expect. With a simple touch, a reaper takes a person’s soul just before they die. Doing so makes sure that the person feels no pain when they die which helps with their transition to the next step. One of the cool things would be that I would suddenly be in a peer group that included a mish mash of different people from very different time periods. So, I could hang out with a young hippie from the sixties along with an ex-thug from the twenties. It would be a very rewarding job. Everybody has to die someday and, in the world of Dead Like Me, people are destined to die at a specific time and place. So, without any reason to think I could prevent death, I would want to make that experience as comfortable as possible. If possible, I would want to be assigned to the accidents and misfortunes department like the characters of Dead Like Me. The big downsides are that I would never see or talk to my friends and family again and I would have to die to get hired. Those are huge downsides.


10. Stargate Program Researcher
(From Stargate SG-1)

One of my favorite aspects of watching Stargate SG-1 is watching the team encounter new worlds with new cultures and civilizations. In the movie and on the television show, I admired Daniel Jackson because he was using years of study to help unravel ancient mysteries that had to do with both peaceful and hostile aliens. I would love to work with a lower priority SG team so I could get off Earth and explore the ruins of alien cultures that influenced cultures back on my home planet. Of course, things are bound to get dangerous with the Goa’uld and other hazards but that would be a risk that I could live with in order to do such important work. Of course, I do not know how well I would do in a military system. Daniel Jackson was afforded certain freedoms and exceptions that I feel I would not receive as Jackson was one of the first people to crack the stargate technology. I think I would learn to adapt but obviously, it would not be my first choice.


9. Auror
(From Harry Potter)

While I am much more interested in defending people than prosecuting people these days, I do recognize the importance of law enforcement. In the world of the Potterverse, Aurors are basically a magical version of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. They use magic and their wits to track criminals who are abusing magical abilities or using forbidden spells. I feel like an Auror book or movie should be in the making. Fantastic Beasts broached the subject but it was only the B-plot but the theme in Harry Potter was that authority is not to be trusted. I think I would be a great investigator but I have already read too many mystery books and movies. The Aurors in America seemed pretty uniform but they were also given a lot of leeway in the way they investigated crimes. In England, I would have been a Ravenclaw but here in America, those qualities would carry over. I would know the spells I needed to defend myself and disable fleeing or combative criminals. It would be a dangerous job but I would think with proper training I could manage things. One might be afraid of a Voldemort or Grindelwald situation but those situations seem to be few and far between for the wizarding world.


8. Jurassic World Tour Guide
(Jurassic World)

Jurassic World exists 22 years after everything originally went to crap in the first movie/book. It is a pristine theme park where you can observe a lot of dinosaurs in realistic settings with little to no danger. These behemoths are kept at bay by state of the art technology and qualified professionals. The only reason that goes badly is the reason it always went badly: somebody gets greedy. If that had not happened, the park was an efficient machine that was more nature preserve than zoo although there was plenty of allusions to zoos and aquariums. There is also the issue that the things in the park are not real dinosaurs. They are featherless hybrid creations but if I was watching their T-Rex in action, I would not really care. The awesome power of these creatures would be so interesting to be around all the time. Watching people’s faces as they see one for the first time would be amazing. Learning everything I could about them so that I could explain to park visitors would be pretty cool too. Even working perfectly, there is plenty of risk working at Jurrasic World but I guess I would hope that the technology and safeguards would work.


7. Theme Park Writer
(From Westworld)

I love writing. I could not keep myself from writing if I tried. When I do not write, it just floods my imagination especially when I am trying to sleep. Westworld is a theme park where robots are programmed to carry out live action roleplay with human park guests. If the guest wants to be a good guy, there are bad guys to kill and people to save. If the guest wants to be a bad guy, there are good guys to kill and dastardly crimes to commit in a safe environment. There are technicians who work on the robots but there are also writers and designers who make the storylines. I would love to spend my time doing that. Taking the same characters and repurposing them for slightly different stories would be so much fun. Of course, there are the dangers of the robots gaining sentience but that would not really be my problem unless they came after me. There are some ethical concerns but really, as far as I would know, the robots are just fancy animatronics in cowboy clothes. It would give me a chance to write stories with good guys or bad guys in the lead role.


6. Watcher
(From Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

In the world of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, magic is real and has been unleashed in the world. There are demons, vampires and other nasty things that are more than ready to prey on human beings. Magical warrior women (and girls) known as “slayers” are tapped to fight these creatures. Of course, suddenly becoming a supernaturally strong is not enough to fight evil successfully. Knowledge is power and these slayers are backed up by “watchers” who teach the slayer about fighting the undead. Watchers are usually bookish types, the Q and M to a slayer’s Bond. Among other things, I have been the bookish type. I love to research things and read up on things to arm myself against the world. In this scenario, I would be using that passion to examine eldritch threats to the human populace. I would be helping to guide a young woman in combat, usually without having to do any of the fighting. The only problem I would have is that I would be largely helpless if my charge was killed. Of course, I could study magic to negate some of my relative physical weakness.


5. Space Cowboy/Smuggler
(From Firefly)

The crew of the Serenity spaceship takes a lot of less than savory jobs on the very outskirts of civilization. Of course, they take a lot of the riskier jobs because they do not want to run into the Alliance for two big reasons. If I was serving on a different ship, we would probably not be taking jobs that were quite that dangerous. Sure, there would still be rough jobs and there are always Reavers out there but there should not be dangerous black ops operatives or as many sketchy jobs. I am not inexperienced with firearms (which I would hope not to use). The job also seems like it would include a lot of downtime between jobs. When you pick up a load of cattle and have to fly it to another planet, there’s some rest time between destinations. Of course, there would always be the risk of being arrested by the Alliance but they are pretty corrupt. It would only be the worst offenses that we could not pay our way out of.


4. Mystery Shack Employee
(From Gravity Falls)

Gravity Falls is a little town in Oregon where strange things are happening. There is also an extradimensional tear and a lot to do with what appear to be Old Ones. Did I mention that this is an all ages show? The show follows a brother and sister who are twins who are staying with their Grunkle Stan for the summer. Stan owns and operates a tourist trap called the Mystery Shack which is kind of a museum of the weird. Some of the exhibits are real but most of them are not. Every day would be an exercise in both creating art projects and writing imaginary lore about supernatural creatures. I would have to keep customers safe from the real supernatural creatures and objects in town but that would be fun. Reading the journals would be all I did during lulls when I was not selling cheap trinkets to visitors. The residents of Gravity Falls are pretty dumb but are also kindhearted so it would be a pretty pleasant place to live.


3. Dal Riata Bartender
(From Lost Girl)

I have worked in the service industry before although it was only for a few months as a summer job just before college. It was often a long day of working on your feet with only the hope of enough pay to handle your commitments. However, most people were nice enough and those who were not eventually left and you usually did not need to deal with them again for a while if ever. The people watching was very interesting as I saw tables with all sorts of compositions. The regulars were often the nicest people I could meet and I also felt supremely satisfied at the end of a good day’s work. The Dal Riata is a bar exclusively for faekind in the world of Lost Girl. It is a way station where those with faerie blood can stop in and rest and relax without having to hide what they are. If you think that faeries are all glitter and sparkles, you would be wrong. Faekind is often incredibly dangerous even with powers meant to be beneficial to humankind. However, the reason I would want this job is because the Dal Riata is basically Switzerland. It is the one zone in town where fighting amongst the Dark and the Light is forbidden. So, I would get to meet all sorts of interesting creatures while being protected by an ancient truce. Of course, that would mean I would have powers of my own but that is just an additional bonus.


2. Muppet Crewmember
(From the Muppet Show)

If you look back far enough in this blog, you will know that I used to work in professional theater. I still have an undying love for the theater even if I have moved on professionally. The atmosphere backstage is controlled craziness. It may look crazy but everybody knows where they are supposed to be and they have practiced every minute over and over. Of course, the Muppet Show is more of a vaudeville show which has more elements of improvisation and chaos. The show almost never goes as planned except when it does. While there are definitely a lot of interruptions, huge expensive-looking musical numbers often go off without a hitch. In addition, the show continues to book hugely popular human celebrities even with a reputation for those guests getting abused. We do not see a lot of crewmembers beyond Scooter, Gladys and Kermit as many performers double as crewmembers and vice versa. However, I would love to be a crewmember on The Muppet Show. First, I would be a muppet which means I would be nigh impossible to kill. Second, I would get to work with really cool celebrities and my coworkers would be absolutely insane in the best ways.


1. Librarian
(From The Librarians)

Having recently watched The Librarians, I was totally jazzed about the main characters of the show. That is actually the show that gave me the idea for this list. A couple years ago, as I was spending days putting up campaign signs, I was told that my great memory for details especially of literature and film would serve me well in a new profession. I briefly considered studying to become a librarian. Of course, this show is about Librarians who travel the world and collect magical artifacts and save the day. They do so by using research and intelligence, two things I love to use. To be in the field and put the details of legend, mathematics and art history to practical use would be amazingly fun. Of course, every adventure has the possibility of incredible danger but I would have the satisfaction of knowing that I am saving the world on the regular. Also, I get to hang out with Santa Claus and see and experience the wonder of magic.

Media Update 2/16/17

February 16, 2017


Blue Bloods

Do not let the title fool you, this show has nothing to do with nobility or the upper crust of society. It is mostly about what it is like to be a cop and in a cop’s family. The show follows a family that includes a former police commissioner, the current police commissioner, a detective, a police officer and an assistant district attorney. I thought nothing of this show until my mom showed me an episode or two while I was visiting her. Of course, that means I watched some later season episodes first but I do not usually sweat that sort of thing. I started to watch this show from the beginning and I really like it. While I am familiar with Tom Selleck’s previous work, I have not really watched it. He is great as a level-headed, fatherly police commissioner and is a great anchor of the show. Donnie Wahlberg plays his son who is a hot-headed, rule-bending detective. His other son is a rookie police officer in Season one but graduated from law school previously so he is very intelligent and a natural cop. His daughter, played by Bridget Moynihan, is a brilliant lawyer who often has to butt heads with her hard-headed father and her rule-bending brother. Every episode includes all of them and their spouses and children sitting down for Sunday dinner where the issues of the episode are discussed from multiple viewpoints. It really is a pretty interesting show and I definitely recommend it.


Brooklyn Nine-Nine

I had seen gifs (pronounced like gifts) of this show several times on Tumblr and Twitter and I know there are a lot of fans of it. I had been interested in the show since I found out that Andy Samberg was on it. Samberg is one-third of The Lonely Island and a very funny comedian. Unfortunately, he has allied with Adam Sandler but outside of those movies, he is great. This show looked a bit stupid but the gifs I saw made me think I had judged it too quickly. I would compare this show to one of my favorite short-lived cop shows, The Unusuals. It is about a misfit precinct that somehow still closes cases trying to adjust to a new no-nonsense captain and fight crime. Samberg is a flippant, goof of a detective. That character can be annoying but becomes less so knowing that he often gets his comeuppance and ends up looking like a fool. Terry Crews plays a police sergeant who is now gunshy and it is a fun twist to see a friendly giant as a police officer. Stephanie Beatriz plays a tough, intelligent detective who has to put up with Samberg. Andre Braugher is great as a tough police captain who is the first gay captain with a command and wants to prove himself. The show is pretty funny so far and I will definitely watch more of it once I get access to more than the first three episodes. I recommend it.


Ripper Street

The identity of Jack the Ripper is a mystery that still exists today. As time goes by, it is less and less likely that that mystery will ever be solved. In the time directly after those murders, Whitechapel must have been a very scary place to work or live. That is largely what this show is about. In the shadow of those horrible murders, a cop vows to make the streets safer and protect the city from the possible return of The Ripper or anyone like him. He enlists a surgeon who used to work for the US Army and The Pinkertons (and almost worked for Johns Hopkins) to be a medical examiner and forensics expert. The cops also form an unspoken agreement with a local brothel to get information about what is happening in the underground of Whitechapel. After the Ripper, the prostitutes have a vested interest in keeping killers off the streets of London. It is a brutal time period when forensic science was primitive and beating information out of suspects was not exactly frowned upon. As one expects, it is a dark and dirty series. They deal with their own broken lives and an area shattered by the legend of the Ripper. I have only seen a few episodes, but I like the chemistry of the cast. I definitely recommend it.

Music of the Week:

Garbage – Special

Big Sean – Bounce Back

Memphis May Fire – Carry On

The Specials – Ghost Town

Halsey – Ghost

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “Fighting Crime on the Streets”
– I continued Season 4 of Haven
– I watched more Law and Order: SVU
– I loved Lady Gaga’s Halftime Show
– I started watching The Librarians from the beginning
– Sorry that this is late, I fell asleep and forgot to post

Character Creation

February 13, 2017

I have been part of a gaming group for a while now. If you look to the right of this post, you should see the story archives and you can check out all of the tabletop roleplaying game characters I have made so far in various games. It is the nerdiest thing I have done which is saying a lot because I have attended Magfest and studied Star Trek starship blueprints. I really enjoy the camaraderie of making a story together. We have a great group full of funny and smart people and every session has great story twists. When I first started with them, I bit off more than I could chew with my first character. I created a face man character who would be a negotiator and while I can write that character, I found it hard to actual bring him to life. It was my trial by fire and I almost quit entirely because of it.


Pretty close to my disastrous first try at tabletop gaming.

Since then, I have created a soldier, a mechanic, a detective and a doctor. Lately, I have created a pretty vicious barbarian. I was thinking about my character creation process and I thought I would write a little about it because it is a really fun process. First, I read through the backstory and the setting of whatever campaign we are heading into. Everybody running a game so far has been really good about providing a good starting point for creating a character. Some of them were homebrewed and some of them were written by game companies but all of them provided all of the necessary background info. Plunging into a setting written by somebody else is really fun as I think of what position I want to take in it.


Both Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar informed the movement and look of Bron in my mind.

For me, a character usually starts when some image sparks in my mind. Often, that image will give me the feeling of the character and maybe a mental movie. This is actually really similar to how my flash fiction on this site works. When I was reading the player’s handbook for fifth edition Dungeons and Dragons, I was thinking about the origins of a half-orc barbarian. I thought about how tough it would be to grow up in a tribe where you were different from everybody else. I thought about how my character would have to fight every day to prove his physical superiority just to survive. That brought up the image in my head of Roman Reigns. A while back he had a catchphrase of “One vs. All” which really resonated with where I wanted the character to go. In his origin, Bron literally takes on several members of his former tribe alone without standing down. He will not give up especially when he has been enraged.


Sorry headphones user.

When I was filling out the alignment section of the character sheet, I got tripped up on the fact that orcs are inherently evil and half-orcs feel the call of the orc’s evil god in their blood. The phrase “I do what I want” popped into my head. I knew I would be joining a team of adventurers but my character had been nearly killed by the last team he had been a part of. I thought of Braun Strowman stating that instead of being on Team Raw, he was on Team Strowman. My character may be working alongside do-gooders but he is really looking for a good challenge. On any given day, he has bad intentions but those bad intentions are often focused on bad guys rather than good guys.


I turned this guy into an engineer and a drug addict. Fun!

Finally, it was time to figure out a name for the new character. For some reason, I got roundly mocked for naming my first tabletop gaming character Lionel which was the name of a guy I had known previously. My second character had the more generic name of James Garen. About that time, I participated in a forum version of D&D and created a character named Sabin which started a new tradition. Sabin was named after Chris Sabin, a veteran pro-wrestler (who got his stage name from the Final Fantast character). Phillip Brooks was named after the real name of CM Punk, a character who inspired his creation. Dean Wyatt was named after Dean Ambrose and Bray Wyatt, foreshadowing the character’s mental illness. Felix Graham is an exception as his name was created from a Harry Potter potion and the hero of the King’s Quest games. I returned to the tradition by naming my new Barbarian Bron.


I’m sure the party is going to get along well.

Of course, the final part of character creation is getting through the first session. As Mike Tyson said, “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” This is relevant both figuratively and literally for each character I have created. I can post character biographies or short stories on my blog all I want but at the end of the day, my character needs to integrate into the larger collaborative story. I left Bron’s origin open-ended because I was not sure how he would meet up with the heroes. When I arrived, the Dungeon Master gave me the idea that Bron was a bouncer at the tavern which was the starting point of the adventure. This subtly altered how I saw the character which sparked more ideas. In addition, Bron is now working alongside people who annoy the crap out of him. More than that, he is fighting alongside a cleric who actively hates him for what he is. Only time will tell if Bron will snap and actually fight with his so-called comrades or maybe he will grow to respect them somewhat.

Hendry Hawkwood

February 11, 2017

The Baron Dran and his men had come into town one gray morning. Hendry was just a boy then and he did not understand at first that there was a new law in town. He did not immediately see the bad signs but he saw that his parents were worried. The Baron had a very nice house built as his headquarters but he and his men spent most of their time in the local tavern, The Green Lady. There was plenty of grumbling early on, but nobody dared to raise a hand to stop them. When they sent word summoning Hendry to their impromptu court at the Green Lady, he could see in his parent’s faces that they did not want him to go. They did not speak out and so Hendry had to go.

Hendry was surprised that the Baron was not much older than himself. He tried to keep the surprise off of his face but he was not sure if he managed it. The smoke was thick in the place so perhaps they could not see anyway.

“What is your name, boy?” The Baron asked. His voice was arrogant, made more so by the closeness of their age and his choice of words.

“Hendrick, sir,” Hendry said.

“You’re a farmer’s son, right?” The Baron asked. He was not even really looking at Hendry which was incredibly annoying but Hendry kept his mouth shut about it.

“I am proud to be a farmer’s son, sir,” Hendry replied.

“Not anymore,” the Baron said. He gestured and one of his men held out a shovel toward Hendrick. Hendrick grasped it and pulled it close with growing confusion. “You are now a gravedigger. I have a feeling that this village will need one before I am through.”

Hendry’s eyes went wide at the implications of that statement but Dran’s men were already pushing him out of the tavern. Their laughter shook him to his core.

* * *

“Why would you do such a thing?!” Karina yelled as she shoved things into a pack.

“The Baron’s men killed my brother. I had to dig his grave! Those men had it coming,” Hendry replied. He was still holding the bloody sword he had seized. He had seen red and before he even knew what he was doing, he had murdered two of Dran’s men. He was still breathing hard even as he watched Karina pack. The two men had started to push him around and he had just snapped and stolen one of their swords. He lashed out, slashing them to pieces in a moment.

“We have to get you away from here,” Karina said.

“I can’t leave,” Hendry said. He dropped the sword and it clattered on the floor.

“They will kill you if they catch you,” Karina said. “I will watch out for the rest of your family. I promise.” Karina was a good ranger and the best archer that Hendry knew.

“I cannot let him rule here any further,” Hendry said.

“What are you going to do? Wave your shovel at him?” Karina asked. “You got lucky with those two earlier.”

Hendry sighed. “I guess you’re right.”

“Come on, I have the best place to send you.”

* * *

Hendry stepped out of the barracks of the Battle Arts Academy. He breathed in the fresh air, as he hoisted the pack on his back onto the horse that would take him from that place. He slid a shovel into a loop he had tied onto the saddle. It was two years since he had left his village behind. He heard footsteps from behind him.

“You and that shovel,” Caleb said. “It sat by your bed for the last two years.”

“Just a reminder of the past,” Hendry said with a smile. “A reminder that I will not suffer a bully.”

“Hero type,” Caleb said with a smile. “I guess you will be out there fighting the good fight now?”

“Yes. It is time for me to move on,” Hendry said. “I will keep improving and one day I will make things right.”

“Whatever that means. I’ll miss you.”

“You are a great friend, Caleb. I promise we’ll see each other again,” Hendry said.

“We’d better,” Caleb said with a laugh. “You owe me after that last game of liar’s dice.”

“Hopefully you’ve forgotten by the time we see each other again,” Hendry said. He held his hand out to possibly his best friend in the world. Unless, of course, Karina was still alive somewhere. There was little news of the state of his village. The last he had heard, the Baron had been forced to flee by an errant group of adventurers. He felt a little cheated at his chance for revenge. Caleb shook his hand and brought him back to the present and Hendry smiled awkwardly.

“I’m sure I’ll never forget. Until we meet again.”

“Until we meet again.” Hendry climbed up onto the horse and started down the road toward an uncertain future.

Media Update 2/9/17

February 9, 2017


The Librarians

I have seen the first Librarian movie and I liked it well enough that I have seen bits and pieces of the sequels. I love the idea of a secret organization that must protect the world from the myths and legends that are usually dismissed as fiction or urban legend. It is a very similar idea to Warehouse 13 but with a slightly different flavor. The show was created by the very awesome Dean Devlin who also created Leverage. It has a lot of the feel that Leverage had with a mix of action, intelligence and comedy with a few moments of emotion thrown in. I have to step in here and admit that I only started watching this show halfway through season two because I am late to the show and I have not obtained season 1 and 2 to watch it in order yet. Still, the show was really easy to pick up right in the middle of a major story arc and they did a good job with the characterizations that made them easy to understand.

Like Leverage and Warehouse 13, every episode is epic but manageable. Noah Wyle returns from the movies but is more of a special guest and not guaranteed to be in every episode. Instead, we get a team headed up by Rebecca Romijn who is an excellent ex-military character. Previously, I had only seen her in blue makeup in the X-Men movies. She is joined by Christian Kane, who is always awesome. John Laroquette is great as their mentor. I absolutely fell in love with newcomers John Harlan Kim and Lindy Booth. More than anything, I love how the show is a celebration of learning things through a love of research. I definitely recommend it.


Emerald City

There are two stories that I will always go back to that have a goldmine full of great imagery. One of them is Alice in Wonderland and the other is the Oz books and movie. The Wizard of Oz has been adapted over and over and I have checked out the majority of those adaptations. I really enjoyed The Wiz Live and Wicked particularly. So when I saw a trailer for the new show coming out that would be adapting the Wizard of Oz, I knew I would have to check it out. The show is set in modern times which is not exactly a new idea (Tin Man) but it is definitely interesting right off the bat. Dorothy is not a young girl but is instead a highly competent nurse. Wicked was given a good name because it was clearly a look at the story through the eyes of The “wicked” witch of the west.

I think that it is fitting that this show is called Emerald City because it deals more with the politics between the Wizard, the witches, the land of Oz and the newcomer Dorothy. It includes a lot more characters from the books and has very little to do with the 1939 movie. I am fine with that because I love adaptations that bring some new energy to the table. So far, the writing has been on point and I really have no idea where the story is going next when I watch each episode but when things do happen, they feel right. Much respect so far to Adria Arjona as Dorothy and Ana Ularu as West. Both of them add new facets to familiar characters. Vincent D’Onofrio is great as The Wizard, showing that simmering crazy energy that he has made his trademark lately. I definitely recommend this one as it is just beginning.


The Last Witchunter

It is interesting to me that I finally watched this movie just before starting my first ever Dungeons and Dragons game with my friends. Vin Diesel is an avid D&D player (he apparently even taught Judi Dench how to play) and has been playing the game for years. This movie was kind of his dream project. The main character is based on a character he rolled up years ago who was a custom ranger build that included some other spellcraft. The opening of the movie even looks like a D&D party going after the big villain of their long campaign.

We fast forward to modern times and Vin Diesel is so good in this movie. It is clear that he really liked the character and plays it with subtle humor and depth. I quickly fell in love with Rose Leslie’s character who had an interesting take on witchcraft and was anything but just a side piece for Vin Diesel. Michael Caine and Elija Wood were also great but both of them have never turned in a bad performance. At least, not that I have seen. I thought the visuals were really good. Where possible, they did practical effects but the digital effects were really smooth and felt like they had weight. It felt like a more expensive version of the great effects that I have seen in The Magicians. I really liked the feel of the story. It concerned itself with how to deal with the past and how that past affects the future and if somebody even belongs in the future. I definitely recommend this movie. It was trippy but a fun ride.

Music of the Week:

Adelitas Way – Ready for War (Pray for Peace)

Sick Puppies – Gunfight

LazyTown – Dansa, Áfram Dansa!

The Dresden Dolls – Backstabber

Chris Dane – Shine on Me

Weekly Update:
– I’m on Season 4 of Haven
– I finished Season 6 of Parks and Recreation
– I’ve watched more Law and Order SVU that I had not seen
– I have been watching Conan again
– I am starting to plan for April’s A to Z Blogging Challenge
– I am also starting to plan for my annual Halloween event as well
– I have been watching a new show that I may reveal soon
– I did not watch the Super Bowl. The Ravens were not in it.
– This week’s theme is “Policing Magic”

Pussy Hat

February 6, 2017

I’m currently wearing a pussy hat. I know that I try to keep politics from this blog but I have been pretty outspoken on one issue: Equal Rights. Of course, I do not think that equal rights are a political issue. I believe it is something that we have been striving for and also something we should have had a long time ago. Of course, we still lack equal rights for all people. It is a simple concept and yet it gets complicated by heavy emotions and innate prejudices. I am not immune, of course.

I can never experience what it is like to be a woman. For that matter, I can never experience what it is like to be a person of color, gay or trans or a whole host of The Other. I cannot begin to guess what their life is like. All I know is from the stories I hear and the articles I read. As I have discussed, my eyes have been opening just a little bit. They open more and more as I soak in the world around me. I am learning to be less naive but also less cynical. But now I see all the injustice in the world and I cannot unsee it. It unsettles me and that is one of the reasons I feel the need to seek positivity and not anger lately.

What is bothering me lately is the division that has formed. We are so divided over everything that it has become hard to talk about the issues. For instance, it is hard to find anyone who disagrees that women should have equal rights. The problem is that people opposed to the Women’s March do not believe that the inequality exists. They believe in this country. They believe in the status quo. They believe that when the law says we are equal then we are equal. They believe what they are told. Whatever they believe, inequality is not something they believe in.

So to those people, marchers and activists are whiners or troublemakers. To people who supported the march, the people against it are racist or sexist. There are a lot of racist and sexist people still alive in this world but I do not believe there are as many as we think. I think there are a lot of good people who just do not have the exposure or the experience that would open their eyes. They call that privilege. They are privileged to not have been as exposed to all that hate. I envy them but I wish they would believe like I do.

And what if the inequality did not exist? Is marching in all the continents of the world for the rights of women a bad thing? I think it is a positive thing. That is why I supported my mom marching in DC.


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