Posts Tagged ‘I’

Iron Woman – An MCU Story

April 10, 2020

“I don’t want to be an Avenger,” Pepper Potts said. “I don’t think I’m comfortable with that.”

“You don’t have to be an Avenger,” Tony Stark said. “You can be whatever you want to be just like before.” He was working on calibrating the device he had installed on his girlfriend’s chest with plenty of care.”

“With this thing embedded in my chest?” Pepper asked.

“It’s slimmer than the prototype,” Tony said. “You do know who you’re talking to, right?” The device was fairly small, an innovation on designs similar to Stark’s own arc reactor with some major changes. The surgery had been fairly quick but complicated. Tony was pretty proud of the results and wished he had done as well on his own unit back in the day.

“Right,” Pepper said. “Sorry. I guess you do have experience with this.”

“It’s fine, you’re just cranky because you’ve been on bed rest for over a week,” Tony said.

“Is that what you call that?” Pepper asked. “It was basically a coffin.”

“It was a chamber,” Tony said. “I don’t like using ‘coffin’ and you in the same basic area code. That ‘chamber’ actually powered my lab that whole time. This device is going to do the same thing so you don’t Hulk out.”

Bruce Banner looked up from where he was studying a computer screen. “Hey,” he said. “I’m right here.”

“Sorry, Bruce, just a figure of speech,” Tony said with a shrug.

“It’s a figure of speech that’s my figure of speech,” Bruce said, shaking a mocking finger at Tony. “But Tony’s right, the device should safely siphon off the excess energy caused by the Extremis procedure.”

“It’s the best we could do since Maya died,” Tony said. “At least for now.”

Bruce had been eager to assist with this project since he obviously had his own experiences with managing radiation. Luckily, he had already been staying at Stark’s compound following the New York Incident. Tony and Pepper had moved in since Tony’s house had been blown up.

“Thanks, both of you,” Pepper said. “but now that this is done, I want to get back to work. I’m still CEO of Stark Enterprises.”

“Well,” Tony said. “You are going to be carrying around a lot of power.”

“I’ll be careful,” Pepper said. “How can it be any more difficult than dating you?”

“Ouch,” Tony said, putting his hand over his heart in a mocking expression of being wounded. “I meant that now that you’re a living reactor, you can maybe power something.”

“Power something?” Pepper asked. “Oh gee, what can I power? Maybe some hospitals? Maybe public housing?”

“I was thinking maybe armor,” Tony said. “but maybe it’s too soon.”

Pepper let out an exasperated sigh. “I told you that I did not want to be an Avenger,” she said. “Bruce, help me out here. I didn’t ask for this. I don’t want this.”

Bruce thought for a few moments. “I definitely sympathize,” he said. “I obviously didn’t want the big guy.”

“Thank you,” Pepper said. “Bruce gets it.”

“But,” Bruce said, holding up a single finger. “I spent a lot of time running from him. I spent a lot of time running period. Finally, in New York, I stopped running and it felt good. I finally did something other than run away. I wish I had done it sooner, maybe I could have done some real good. You do what you can to make the world a better place.”

Pepper thought about that and sighed. “I killed someone,” she said. “How could I be a hero after that?”

“To be fair,” Tony said. “His name was Killian, it’s right there in the name.”

“I’m serious!” Pepper yelled. “I killed a man.”

“Look,” Tony said, suddenly in a rare moment of seriousness. “I’ve done a lot of bad things. I was an unapologetic weapons dealer. I’ve killed people. Do I regret it? Sure. There’s a difference, though. What you did was to protect yourself and me. You did what you had to do in the heat of the moment.”

“Then why do I still feel so guilty?” Pepper asked.

“Because you’re still human,” Bruce said. “People should feel regret for killing. It makes sure you don’t start doing it lightly. I’ve done a lot of bad things as The Hulk but we’re learning because I’m teaching him and the Avengers are teaching both of us. You won’t be doing it alone. You’ll have all of your friends right there with you.”

“I’m already saving the world through my job,” Pepper said. “and all of the charities.”

“We’re not saying that you drop all of that,” Tony said. “Just maybe once a while you shed your heels and throw on some armor and help us save the world.”

“I’ll think about it,” Pepper said. “But if I do this then there’s no way that I’m going by Iron Woman.”

Tony blinked. “I think I’ve done a really good job building that brand,” he said. “I mean Rhodey just switched to Iron Patriot.”

“And then Iron Patriot tried to blow up the President of the United States,” Pepper said.

“Then Iron Man saved the President,” Tony said. “So you’re right that’s probably mostly a wash. You can call yourself anything you want.”

“Also,” Pepper said. “I get input on the suit’s design.”

“Are we really doing this?” Tony asked. “I guess I can concede to that point.”

“You’ll concede to all of my points,” Pepper said.

“You’re probably right,” Tony said.


Is it Thursday Yet? : Critical Role

April 10, 2018

You might be confused. When I post something titled “Is it Thursday, Yet?” on a Tuesday, you might check your smartphone and answer “No” and you might follow up with “What happens on Thursday?”. Well, I will tell you which was the whole point of this post so I was going to explain anyway. On Thursday nights a program known as Critical Role airs online. It airs on something called Twitch which is a video streaming platform built for live shows. It is produced by a company called Geek and Sundry which was founded by the wonderful Felicia Day. Critical Role is a Dungeons and Dragons show where sessions of a campaign are played live on camera.

The stars of the show are a bunch of professional voice actors who discovered a love of the game. The history of the show is that Liam O’Brien had discussed Dungeons and Dragons with his colleague Matt Mercer with Matt trying to get Liam to play. Eventually, Liam and Sam Riegel decided to take Matt up on the offer for Liam’s birthday. They gathered a group of friends and work acquaintances and did a one-shot adventure. They were all quickly hooked. The group slowly grew to a whopping nine people playing their game in Matt Mercer’s house. After over a year of playing together, they were offered a deal by Geek and Sundry to make their home campaign into a show.

That is the strength of the show, at least for me. The show began as something all of them did for fun and as an excuse to spend time with friends and work colleagues. The whole cast chose to do the show because it was an excuse to get together weekly instead of monthly and they could call it work. The show started small on Twitch and nobody involved knew if the show would attract much interest. The show may have started small but the word started to get out quickly and it was soon gathering subscribers and fans like crazy. The show made a point to interact with fans without letting them guide the show or the characters. This created a strong, mostly positive community that were united in their love for the show and the people involved.

The Cast is as follows:

Matt Mercer – Matt is the Dungeon Master and is therefore in charge of the world that surrounds the player characters. He writes the world of the game in response to the decisions that the character’s decisions. He also voices the hundreds of non-player characters that the players meet and each one is beautifully voiced by Matt in countless different voices that he invents for each character. He is a tough but fair DM and he seems to love bringing his friends through new adventures every week.

Liam O’Brien – In the first campaign, Liam plays Vax’ildan, a half-elf rogue who is reckless and broody but he also enjoys playing pranks on his friends. Vax is the twin of Vex much to the constant confusion of everyone. In the second campaign, Liam plays Caleb, a human Wizard who is fearful and grubby. At some point, Liam loved the game so much that he started to DM for his kids.

Laura Bailey – In the first campaign, Laura plays Vex’ahlia, a half-elf ranger who seeks to hide her lowborn, poor upbringing by acting like royalty. Vex is the twin of Vax, which (again) is confusing. In the second campaign, Laura plays a tiefling cleric (and thief) named Jester who says whatever she is thinking and is constantly stirring the pot. Laura is superstitious about her dice and is constantly switching them out when they start to roll poorly.

Sam Riegel – In the first campaign, Sam plays Scanlan, a gnome bard who handles every situation with bravado, style, and poop jokes. Whenever Scanlan sang in-game, Sam would sing parody versions of popular songs with lyrics to match in-game events. In the second campaign, Sam plays Nott, a female goblin rogue who wears a porcelain doll’s face as a mask. Sam is constantly trolling the fans on camera and adds a ton of easter eggs to the experience.

Travis Willingham – In the first campaign, Travis plays Grog, a goliath barbarian who is bloodthirsty and dumb but he has a good heart deep down. Travis played his character’s stupidity to the hilt. In the second campaign, he plays a half-orc warlock named Fjord who wields sword magic and his razor wit. Travis is hilarious and is constantly hitting up subtle and blatant puns.

Marisha Ray – In the first campaign, Marisha plays Keyleth, a half-elf druid who is basically a clumsy homeschooled girl with a good heart. Keyleth ended up being the conscience of the group. In the second campaign, she plays Beau, a human monk who has a very laid back personality but she stands up for what’s right. Marisha is probably the most excitable cast member.

Taliesin Jaffe – In the first campaign, Taliesin plays Percy, a human gunslinger who invented the world’s first gun and struggles with his morality. Taliesin was very creative and he was constantly trying to introduce new elements into the game. In the second campaign, he plays Mollymauk, a tiefling bloodhunter who used to work for a traveling circus. In both campaigns, Taliesin plays custom-made character classes that were created by Matt.

Ashley Johnson – In the first campaign, Ashley plays Pike, a gnome cleric who was basically team mom. In the second campaign, Ashley plays Yasha, an aasimar barbarian who is tough but fair as she used to be a bouncer for the circus. During the first campaign, Ashley was cast in the TV show Blindspot. Since it films in New York, she often has to miss out on being on the show if she cannot Skype in.

Orion Acaba – In the first campaign, Orion plays Tiberius, a dragonborn sorcerer whose lack of social graces are balanced out by his immense magical power and creativity. Orion was constantly pushing the boundaries of the rules in a bid to be as effective as possible. He left the show about thirty episodes in.

The show has never gotten old to me as Matt and the cast are constantly balancing the progression of the main plot and also each character’s personal goals. The voice actors who play these characters imbue their characters with such personality that it feels like they are real at times. As the first campaign progressed, I got to watch people who were work friends become real friends. The adventures they go on are thrilling, funny, and sad. When my mom asked what it is like to play Dungeons and Dragons with my friends, I showed her an episode of Critical Role and said: “just take away the cameras”. I recommend the show but I acknowledge that each episode is long. The episodes average about four hours each and the first campaign was over 447 hours from 115 episodes. The new campaign is only over a dozen episodes and is an easier entry point.

Ion Flow

April 10, 2017

I woke to the sound of the base alarms going off. The sound made my eyeballs jiggle in their sockets and made the rest of my body feel like jello. I scrambled to get out of my bunk and stood for a moment in my boxers trying to get my bearings. There was a chill in the air which meant that something was wrong. I reached out to turn the lights on and they flickered for a moment and then the fixture exploded with a loud pop. I flinched. I realized that there must be some sort of electrical problem. There were never electrical problems at Base Victor. It was close to a solar panel array and had state of the art energy storage.

I reached for the disk on my bedside table without having to look. It was nearly a year since I had started as a researcher at Base Victor, a forward research station on the moon over Arcturis. All of the little things had become easy through the routine. I slapped the disk against my chest and I closed my eyes as cloth spread over my body. The bodysuit would keep me warm with the malfunctioning climate systems. I immediately felt more prepared for the emergency. The cloth over my feet hardened into boots. I grabbed my jacket and walked out into the hallway and tried to get the jacket on as I ran toward somebody who could tell me what was happening.

Like its name might suggest, Base Victor was a lonely place. The highest number of staff members I had seen in the base was fifteen and that had been maybe one week before many of them were transferred. The base currently only had five staff members. It was divided up into different laboratories and offices that researchers took over and practically lived in. My office was set up with shelves and shelves of recently discovered books. We had already deciphered the alien language a few years ago and now I was trying to piece together the history of their civilization. I was starting by trying to sort books into fiction and non-fiction.

I stormed down the hallway toward the Command Action Center. It was the one common area beside the kitchens and it was supposed to be the nerve center of bases like this. Most days it was neglected but now I could guess that it had four people in it. Make that three, Holly turned the corner ahead of me and looked at me with an exasperated look in her eyes. She stomped toward me and I slowed my pace to a stop as she approached. In the flickering emergency lighting, her pink hair practically glowed.

“Where have you been?” She shouted.

“The alarms woke me up,” I shouted back. The alarm shut off so my next words still sounded loud even though I kept myself from shouting them. “I was up late reading a book of poetry.”

“We have an emergency,” Holly said as if they had been waiting for me.

“Can it be solved by reading more poetry?” I asked and I believe that Holly nearly slapped me. Her eyes narrowed and I shrugged. “What? I know nothing about engineering or science like you and Arif.”

“It’s some weird sort of ion storm. It is messing with most of our systems as you can see,” She said, releasing her anger visibly.

“Will we survive?” I asked. I was a little shaken knowing that our two scientists were not exactly sure what was happening yet.

“I think it will pass. Arif seems to agree,” She replied, leaning against the wall for the moment. She looked tired. It looked like she might have been up for hours already or maybe she had not gotten to sleep yet at all. There was always a danger of that out here, free from the conventions of the time cycles of normal society.

“Should we go back and check it out some more?” I asked.

“Only if you promise to lean against the wall and not touch anything. Can you promise that?” Holly asked. She had a smirk on her face that felt insulting. Well, sort of insulting. She was not in the wrong.

“I promise,” I said. “I’m curious what’s going on.”

“Come on then, poet,” Holly said. “Follow me.”

We walked back the way she had come to reach the Command Action Center. Arif was lounging in front of a console, not really working on the problem. He looked like he was deep in thought. He snapped to attention when Holly and I entered the room. I dutifully leaned against the wall with my hands behind my back. I may have smirked when I did it.

“There’s a strange build-up of ionic charge,” Arif said. He looked at me. “Before you ask, it’s strange because there’s little to no atmosphere out there. It’s almost like a lightning storm. It shouldn’t exist.”

“Maybe it just wants to exist,” I offered. I got looks for that comment.

“Holy shit, we’ve got incoming!” Holly yelled, rushing up to a console. Before I could ask what that meant, the base was raked with what looked like lightning. It was both terrifying and awe-inspiring and I pressed myself closer to the wall as if that would save me. Holly and Arif scrambled around trying to monitor the situation. I saw the emergency teleporter start to glow in the corner and even I knew it should not do that. Before I could alert them, it exploded.

We all hit the deck, our training kicking in. Thankfully nothing was breached and there was no explosive decompression. Instead, there was a glowing figure standing where the teleporter had been. As the glow faded away, I stood atop the rubble looking confused. Against the wall, I was confused too.

Shield of the Ishim 7

April 11, 2016

Ishim Shield

Maya woke up on her unsteady feet and suddenly rubbing her eyes. She had no idea where they were but the sisters were standing there too. Luckily their bags had also arrived. Maya leaned down and picked up her messenger bag and hugged it tight before slinging the strap over her shoulder. The weight was about right but she would have to check it when they were not out in the open.

Everybody was shivering a little and Maya still had no idea where they were. She realized they were on the side of a dirt road bordered on both sides by forest in what looked like the middle of nowhere. There was an old truck rattling down the road maybe a mile away. Maybe that was the vehicle that dropped them off. It was hard to tell how long they had been standing there. It was hard to tell how they had been standing there while they were unconscious.

“Where are we?” China asked.

“Council headquarters, I suppose,” Ivy said. She bent down to pick up her own bag and her guitar. Straps went over shoulders and she was good to go.

“Yeah but where is that?” China asked. She waved her hand above her bag and it levitated up into her arms. She pulled out a cell phone before she got a sour look from Ivy. “What?” She asked of her sister.

“I think that she thinks you are going to check a GPS program,” Maya said with a smile. Ivy tapped her nose and pointed at Maya and also smiled brightly.

“That’s not what I was going to do,” China said. She looked indignantly at her sister.

“It wouldn’t work anyway. There’s probably an anti-technology field around this whole area. I imagine they’re covering all of their bases because¬†they are the Council. Additionally, we might still be under a whammy from the ticket. Also, it’s rude.” Ivy said, her voice was a little raised in full-on teacher mode. China quietly slipped her phone back into her bag.

“Most of us don’t carry cell phones or stuff like that, at least not in my experience,” Maya said. She was looking at China in particular. There were so many magical means of communication that cell phones were far too limited in comparison. Also, magic and technology did not always play nice and devices often ended up overloaded or broken.

“I don’t know. It’s come in handy a few times,” China said. “Like looking up arcane symbols or remembering what monsters look like.”

“She uses it to check our Twitter feed,” Ivy said casually.

“What do you have a Twitter feed for?” Robin asked. She had reconnected with the Internet after Coyote had graduated her. So she knew the basics which meant that she knew what Twitter was.

“It’s how people contact us with missions in between the missions we get from the Ishim,” China said.

“What do you mean? Other missions?” Maya asked.

“We get bored between calls to fight monsters. It can be a long time in between Ishim orders sometimes. We use that time to save people or just help people out,” Ivy said with a smile.

“Oh,” Maya said.

“Why? What do you do with that time?” China asked.

“I help people too actually but I do it by patrolling. By letting the universe guide me. I’ve never received missions from anyone but the Ishim,” Maya said.

“Our method is way easier,” China said. “When this is over, I’ll help set you up.”

“Thanks,” Maya said.

A tall man stepped out of the woods in front of them. All three of them reached for implements of defense or offense.

“Hold. I am here to lead you to Ishim Hall,” the man said and held up the Ishim sigil. All three of them relaxed. Ishim was still a pretty secret word among the public and using it was as good as a membership card. Besides, Maya was beginning to trust the sisters and if they trusted this man, she supposed she could too. “Please follow me.” Then he started to walk back through the woods he had come out of. They started to follow the man through the woods as quickly as they could. Ivy made sure the younger girls went first so Maya ended up in front.

They walked for miles through the woods. There were no paths that could be seen anywhere. Still, the man’s steps did not falter and he confidently walked in one direction. Obviously, he knew where he was going so the navigation waypoints he was using were probably so well hidden. It was either that or he innately knew their destination. Eventually, they walked along a stream and after a while, Maya realized that there were no wildlife sounds. The stream led into the gaping mouth of a cave and the man stopped and stood aside.

“You three are to go on from here.” The man said.

“What’s your name?” Ivy asked.

“I do not have one,” The man said.

“Then what do we call you if we need your help again?” Maya asked.

“I wouldn’t worry about it,” The man said. “I’m not even real.” Before they could question that he started to fade away like milk mixing into coffee. After a quick moment, he was gone as if he had never been there at all.

“Um. That was strange,” Maya said.

“I don’t know, I like a flair for the dramatic.,” China said.

“So do I but I don’t like standing around and talking about it. Let’s go into the cave,” Ivy said.

I, Frankenstein

April 10, 2015

I have been a fan of the Frankenstein story since I read it as young kid one summer because it was a classic and all I had ever seen was Young Frankenstein. I wanted the story straight from the horse’s mouth. I was also a big fan of Greek and Roman mythology so the title Prometheus Unbound also grabbed my attention. Frankenstein is a rich tale full of complex thoughts on ethics, morality and the nature and compostion of a man. I expected that I, Frankenstein would be none of these things. I was shockingly wrong.

I went into this movie thinking that it was just going to be an action romp that I would forget almost as soon as it was over. Instead, it was an action romp that followed through with a lot of the themes and thoughts from the original book. Adam Frankenstein is now trying to find a place in a world that fears and despises him and he also gets caught up in a war between good and evil. The character acts believably when confronted with obstacles that you would expect would be thrown at him.

The characters are all written pretty well and with a surprising degree of subtlety given what I thought I was getting myself into. The villains are charming and intelligent which makes sense as they are demons. The female protagonist is a fairly rounded and strong character without being action girl. I wish she had a little more screentime so that we could get a little more insight into her character but this was an action fantasy and they weren’t going to do that. The gargoyles are actually a pretty mercenary lot and make surprising choices. Actually, there were a lot of surprises in this film. Places where the movie turned right when I expected them to go left.

Here’s a few thoughts I had during the movie.

“Wait, this is an almost sequel to the book? Wow.”

Yeah, I was not expecting them to actually recount some of the story from the book. Of course, they change the ending so that Frankenstein’s Creature lives but movies have been doing that for a long time. The ending to Prometheus Unbound was poetic and beautiful in a way but I often wonder what would have happened if the creature lived. What if the creature clung to humanity instead of allowing his creator to debase him into being the expected monster?

“Ok I laughed at the cheap ‘It’s alive!’ callback. Sue me.”

It’s a line that’s been attached to every single depiction of Frankenstein since the book. It kind of had to be thrown in there. It actually comes about pretty naturally and therefore kind of funny.

“He’s fallen in with a militant sect of supermodels.”

The gargoyles are all ridiculously pretty and slathered in baby oil so that everyone has a sheen to their skin. It actually got a little better as the film progressed but  I found it kind of funny in the moment.

“Why is everyone else British?”

Yeah. I know it takes place in England (I guess) but why are all of the supernatural creatures speaking with a British accent? I guess you could explain away the demons who interract with human locals on a day to day basis. The gargoyles tend to have a sort of no contact rule like the Prime Directive in Star Trek so there’s no need to have a local accent. Whatever.

“Microwaving a dead rat isn’t going to bring it back to life. Oh wait, Frankenstein is fantasy not sci-fi.”

I’ve always classified Frankenstein as fantasy even though the word science is all over it like white on rice. However, there’s next to no technobabble and nobody is ever able to explain how he did what he did. It’s more or less treated like magic in countless adaptations and I approve. I’m definitely more a fan of Fantasy than I am of Science Fiction.

I would definitely suggest people see this movie if you’re into urban fantasy and action.

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