Tuesday, July 30, 2013

When Worlds Collide Vs. Donovan's Brain

* = This seriously makes me laugh everytime I read it.  EVERY TIME!

That was a beautiful weekend, and I don’t just mean the amazing weather. From about Thursday on last week I had a run that was pretty dang sweet. It wasn’t anything overly special, it was just relaxing, productive, and without incident. Rarely ever do I have elongated moments that are stress free, but honestly that’s what I had for about a four day period. Hell today has been much the same even though I’m suckling at the corporate teat. Maybe it’s just the weather that has given me a renewed sense of vigor and a devil may care attitude, whatever it is I hope it never leaves.

So Thursday I watched Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox (*** out of 5).
I’m a huge rube for the DCU Animated features and since I love the Flash I figured this was a slam dunk. Couple that with the fact it’s based off a Geoff Johns mega-story and I thought it would be heavenly. It isn’t bad, but I’m sort of over the dystopian future thing. Don’t get me wrong it’s interesting to see a world that comes apart at the seams because there is no Flash. To see Wonder Woman and Aquaman as warmongering despots bent on world domination and the extinction of the other due to a failed marriage is pretty cool. Thomas Wayne as Batman after the death of his son Bruce is also pretty cool. As are what becomes of Hal Jordan, Superman, Cyborg, and ‘Captain Thunder’. However after ‘Days Of Future Past’, ‘Future Imperfect’, ‘Kingdom Come’, ‘The Nail’, etc. do I really need to see this? Do I really need to watch the Heroes I love die horrible deaths as a warning to the past or an alternate timeline? Do I really need a deconstruction of what it means to be a Hero? Have we run out of stories to tell so all we can do is put our Heroes through a meat grinder in order to show how ‘adult’ the things of our youth are? There is a reason I’ve grown disenfranchised with comics as a whole, they’ve lost their fun. It is the same reason I LOVED Avengers, Earth’s Mightiest Heroes the series. One word; FUN! The Flashpoint Paradox was good, in fact it was damn good, had real emotion, great action, and was interesting, but it was not fun. It had none of the heart, sense of wonder, or heroism that say All-Star Superman did. I’d say the interesting thing is this is the re-boot point for the DCU Animated flicks as it was for the DCU at large. It appears we are going to get the first New 52 Justice League tale as the follow up to this flick, as the movie has a ‘teaser’ ending setting the stage for what comes next. I just hope it’s a bit more fun than this one was. So if you are looking for a decent little DCU Animated flick then you could do much worse, but if you’re looking for something to watch with kids or something that will bring a grin to your face, this isn’t it.

Friday night was our 2nd Friday Night SMACKDOWN! The C-Fish was out sick so it was down to El Bobert-O, Diamond Dave, Mighty Mike, and James sans his magical beard. We started a bit late as Mike and I had to run to Little Caesar’s which was a nightmare. They were getting slammed with patrons and people were in foul moods. I just figured they were trying their best and that’s all you can ask. In addition Mike’s lady Emily was getting car stalked by some asshole so he was receiving texts of a somewhat urgent manner. It was an odd start to the night. Eventually we got back loaded with cheap pizza and gorged ourselves. Then we turned our full attention to the ‘Rasslin’.
We were able to get through about a week worth of shows, I know that doesn’t sound like a lot, but considering we were playing at least three matches a card it was more than you’d think. There were some really fun matches as well.  The CM Punk Vs. Brock Lesnar fight was fantastic with F5’s and GTS’s being thrown out left and right. I also thoroughly enjoyed Dave and I battling with my CAW against Antonio Caesaro that ended in a DQ. Oh and Kenta Kobashi against El Generico to see who the #1 contender was for my show was outstanding as well. To me though the highlight of the night was the Brothers Of Destruction (Kane & the Undertaker) Vs. The Mega Powers (Hollywood Hogan & The Macho Man Randy Savage). This led to a Hell In The Cell match between the Undertaker and Hollywood Hogan that was really fun to watch as, I believe it was James and Mike playing, they beat the hell out of each other.
I had to come in and add this as I was compelled by James and his now regenerating beard.  There was a moment on Friday night that blew my mind.  Dave and James were having a match, I can't recall the participants EXCEPT that Dave was Kofi "HEY RANDY!" Kingston and he was beating James like he no longer had a beard of prodigious strength.  I mean absolutely mercilessly.  The best part was after each finisher he'd spend the entire time James' wrestler was recovering to do his 'Boom Dance' taunt.  This made the match about twenty minutes longer than it needed to be, but it also made it twenty times funnier.  I think that might be the reason James so actively roots against Dave in every match he has with anyone else.  Which in all honestly ONLY serves to make SMACDOWN nights that much more hilarious.  Thank you for reminding me of this James.  I had hoped to get through the entire month, but it didn’t happen. I got quality over quantity and it was fantastic.

Saturday I hung out with Cassandra, mowed, and napped my ass off. I was unbelievable worn out from the night before and ran a bit of a fever. Instead of being a stubborn ass though I listened to my wife and passed out. The only real thing I did was finish a few books. I knocked out Troy Denning’s first part of his ‘Prism Pentad’, The Verdant Passage (*** ½ out of 5).
I was sorely disappointed in Denning’s Return Of The Arch Mage a few months ago when I read it, but I’m not a Forgotten Realms guy so really it didn’t bother me that much. This series however is set in the Dark Sun setting, and I LOVE that setting. It is basically post-apocalyptic D&D. The use of magic has left the world a dying husk, where steel, water, and loyalty are almost impossible to find. Monster you thought you knew are vastly different and far more deadly. And the world is ruled by the incredibly deadly and tyrannical Sorcerer-Kings. The setting is brutal, full of intrigue, bloody combat, and desperate attempts at survival. It has such different vibe and feel from every other setting that it captures the imagination. Troy Denning captured my imagination with this book. Following Rikus and Neeva from famed slave gladiators to Heroes is fantastic. They are both deeply flawed, but no more so than the revolutionary Sadira or the nobleman who decides to change the world Agis, and the self-serving ally they find in the Templar Tithian. Together they enact a mad plan to prevent the sorcerer-king Kalak of the city Tyr from becoming something horrific. The love quadrangle between the four main characters makes sense, and you can see it is going to end badly for more than one person. The interactions and alliances between the characters also don’t feel forced they seem natural and work. It also sets the tone for the rest of the books and I dig that. It’s a find self-contained book, but better as a stepping off point for something grander. I followed this up with devouring the 2nd book in the ‘Prism Pentad’ in The Crimson Legion (*** out of 5).
Let me make it abundantly clear Rikus is my favorite character in this series thus far. So getting a book of him leading the Free Men of Tyr across the face of Athas to deal with an attack by another city-state was fantastic. The intrigue of Tithian using this as a way to get his political enemies/allies out of the city, and his hopes of seeing the instruments of him coming into power destroyed added another cool layer to the relationships between the characters. I liked all the interesting factions we meet during the bloody march of the Crimson Legion. The relationship complications between Neeva and Rikus finally come to a head in a way that I both loved and hated. I understood how it went down but it made me loathe the self-righteous and almost creepy focus the dwarf Caelum had. I also actually liked how Rikus is a terrible general, but a charismatic leader and an amazing fighter. He’s also a man who struggles with lying, leadership, and understanding the needs, foibles, and wants of others. A lot of secondary characters who you grow to like and even care about do not come out of this book alive. This is further proof that the stakes on Athas are higher, and that war is indeed hell. I also thoroughly enjoyed Rikus’ battle with the sorcerer-king of the invading city state of Urik. Let’s just say it does not go the way you think it will. Overall these are a fun read, now I just need to track down the other three parts so I can finish this series.

Sunday we had to get up early so we could meet the Geek’s Group in Edina for The Wolverine (*** ½ out of 5).
I have to say that having a brunch before the flick was fun, and the people were really nice. Watching a movie in that V.I.P. room was pretty damn nice as well. I mean c’mon I got to sit in a recliner and just enjoy the flick. It reminded me of the feel of the Midnight Movie at the Parkwood. As for the movie, it was pretty good. I will never understand the need these folks have to fundamentally change characters or for the need to add in a giant robot fight where they don’t belong, but then again I don’t live in the Hollywood echo chamber. Hugh Jackman is friggin’ amazing. He is the perfect Wolverine. I dug that we get to see how he is dealing with the fallout of killing Jean Grey in the abysmal and almost unwatchable X-Men 3. I also thought that for ¾ of the movie they did Frank Miller’s source material justice. Wolverine killing Yakuza thugs and trying to deal with the fact that his healing factor isn’t working properly was very cool. I enjoyed the tragic love story as it was playing out as well, not to mention the idea of honor and debts being repaid. That’s what made the last act ring so hollow for me. You could see it coming a mile away and yet you hoped you were wrong. This flick is LIGHTYEARS better than the first Wolverine flick and X-Men 3, it fails however to reach the heights of X-Men 2 or X-Men First Class. I’d rate it similar to the first X-Men flick. Also the little teaser we get for X-Men Days Future Past is inspired and has sparked my interest in seeing what they are going to do with that. It was a decent flick seen in an outstanding environment.

After returning from the flick I fired up the grill to smoke an insane amount of meat. I tried to get the temp to between 225 and 200 degrees keeping it consistent there. I was using charcoal and mesquite wood chips, with a drip pan full of apple juice beneath the meat on the ‘cool’ side of the grill. We put on a hunk of beef roast marinated with Montreal steak seasoning, Worcestershire sauce, and Balsamic vinegar.
I have found that it gives the beef a rich and robust flavor. We used an apple and bacon seasoning rub on a large Pork Loin. We rubbed them down about 24 hours prior to the smoke, and you could tell the flavor really seeped into the meat. We also had a GIANT ham that I rubbed last minute with a small amount of a Bacon & Molasses seasoning rub. I was slightly worried about the ham as I’d never smoked one before and it is an enormous piece of meat. I didn’t want it overdone or underdone. I just wanted the meat to start to pull away from the bone, and be able to see how the fat had liquefied. Last but not least we threw on some sausage ropes a bit later in the cook. I checked the fire every hour to add a bit more charcoal and wood chips to keep the heat level even and the smoke level where I wanted it. About 4 hours in I pulled the beef roast, let it cool, and saran wrapped it. The rest of the meet went another three hours at just over 200 degrees gaining a great bark and smelling divine. I brought it in and let it rest before we also saran wrapped those pieces as well. Tonight when I get home I’m going to take about half that beef roast and pork loin and slice them paper thin with my meat slicer. I think then I’ll take a third of the ham off the bone and do the same. After that I’m not sure what we’ll do with the rest. I know we talked about doing Cubans, and I think that has to happen. All I know is even writing about it has my mouth watering.

It was another week so we had the last of the Skull & Shackles miniature previews as next month will herald its arrival on store shelves. Here’s what they ended on;
First up is one of the Pathfinder Iconic characters, Seltyiel. He’s a Medium Rare. The miniature has a really great flow to the pose with the dynamic movement of the cape, the hood also flowing in a breeze, and action ready pose. I do not however understand the EMO-like head down pose, the ‘bro fist’ sticking out, or lack of any meaningful motion in the sword arm. This thing is just a mish mash of good and not so good. The paint job doesn’t really do a whole lot to help it out, as it’s just pale flesh and black for the most part. It does appear that there are some slight bursts of color spread out through the accoutrements that adorn his belt, but overall he feels sort of drab. I want to like this miniature, but I just can’t bring myself to do it. I have enough other miniatures that do the same trick as this one and do it much better. This is a disappointing Rare to me and definitely a PASS.
Next up is the Large Uncommon Hammerhead Shark! This thing looks FANTASTIC! It has solid movement to the pose, which I don’t think is that easy to do in an aquatic beast, and I dig the mouth slightly agape so you can see those razor teeth. I for one also like that the two sharks in this set are on ‘flying’ bases to give a 3D feel to them for underwater combat. The paint job doesn’t need to be spectacular, because of the source ‘material’. However it is a clean and well done paint job which I appreciate. It is strange to note that the vast majority of the Uncommon’s in this set interest me FAR more than the Rare’s which is good for my wallet. This one is of course a MUST BUY for the 2nd Group alone.
Last, but not least is the Large Uncommon Wasp. I’m not completely rote on the Pathfinder setting, but I do know that Calistria is the goddess of Lust, Relationships, and Revenge. She favors giant Wasps as her servants and her clerics where their colors. In a previous DDM set we had Hellwasps and they looked TERRIBLE, they really were awful miniatures, but we hadn’t really had any other flying insect menaces to trouble our PC groups. That has changed now as this thing again looks great. The stinger first pose is great, those wings look to be translucent which is super cool, and there is some nice shading work in the paint job. I wish we had a Medium sized version to go along with this monstrosity as a swarm. This one is a MUST BUY for me. Overall this is a solid set, there are some glaring disappointments, but luckily they are in miniatures that I really don’t care about anyway. I hope the insanely quick turnaround time for the next set isn’t going to be too big a hit to the wallet of guys like me, but I’m trying to give Paizo & Wizkids the benefit of the doubt there. Now I just need to wait and see how all these play out cost wise on the secondary market, Ebay here I come!

Let’s wrap this one up with some…


- Diamond Dave has a Kickstarter, GO GIVE HIM YOUR MONEY(s)!   http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/matterdeep/the-indie-guide-to-indie-publishing 
- I have a box of miniatures to DIP tonight. Bases are done, eyes are done, and paint jobs look pretty solid. I’m excited to get these DIPed and get onto the next batch. If I can paint twice a week I think I can hit between 5 and 10 completed a week. At least that’s the idea.
- Speaking of art type things Hides has a new ‘toon on the web, GO READ IT!     http://heidiblunt.com/page/29
- 1st & 2nd D&D Groups will be taking a hiatus in August due to all sorts of scheduling conflicts. I’m hoping that it’ll give the Players a breather and give myself and Zack a chance to make sure that the next run of games are outstanding.
- NFL Training Camp has started and the Hall Of Fame game is this coming Sunday. I’m so happy.
- Holy Crap CHIKARA is on the way back and I couldn’t be more excited!     http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MpVSQCpT4yQ&feature=player_embedded
- Dark Dave has a new podcast. His first two posts were older; one is the Fairly Secret Interview that he, Greg, and myself did a few years ago. The second was a conversation he had with another friend of his about ten years ago. If you supported and enjoyed the Careers In Evil Podcast then go give these a listen.     https://archive.org/details/FAIRLYSECRETPODCAST1_201307
- I hope this weather never ends.
- The Olde World Kickstarter is intriguing me with its unique minis.    http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1095811188/olde-world-miniatures-kickstarter
- With the lack of D&D next month I’m thinking it’s the perfect time to have either a Movie-A-Thon or a Game Day. I’m not sure which will happen, but I’m doing one or the other on a Saturday. At the same time a Friday night in August or September is going to be the 2nd Annual Trivia Death Match where Mighty Mike will defend his Trivia Belt! Big, fun things on the horizon!
- Beer bread! This must happen soon.
- I have yet to paint any of my new Bones yet, I really need to get on that, but there is SO much other stuff. I need to have a CHIKARA & Mini Painting VERY soon.

I think that’s all I have…

“When I Die You Can Cut Me Up And Take All That You Please,
But Pity The Poor Dumb Fool Who Gets My Bleeding Spleen.
Corn Pone, I Born Tomorrow, My Bone Marrow Protein Filled
Scotch Whiskey Men Of Tain Have Come To Split Your Skills.

Hey, Hey
I Got Your Heaven, I Got Your Burning Hell, I Got It All Right Here.

Wrap Them Tight In Zip-Lock Bags To Benefit Good Medicines.
If Bad, You Can Toss Them Back And Stuff Them In Sausages.
Isn't It Something So Becoming, A Gentlemen Of Good Taste.
The Appetizer's Quite The Pleaser, But Might You Pass The Pepper Please This Way.

Hey, Hey
I Got Your Heaven, I Got Your Burning Hell, I Got It All Right Here.

Fertilizer Makes Your Corn Row Higher, But Makes Your Back Yard Stink.
And All The Crows Know Where The Wind Blows, Where Water Sinks.

Hey, Hey
I Got Your Heaven, I Got Your Burning Hell, I Got It All Right Here.”

* = Blogger is apparently not wanting to work with me so I had to trudge through two days to get this F'Ning thing posted.  You have awakened my inner BEARCAT Blogger...BEWARE!

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