Jan 172018
 

Wrigley Field – 1982

I have been a Chicago Cubs fan my whole life. It’s a family legacy that has been instilled in me from my father, passed down from his father. In 2016, when the unbelievable happened, while all the life long fans were euphoric, suddenly there were all these new fans. I was literally on my knees, rejoicing while also lamenting that my grandfather didn’t live to see it happen. Devout fans know the glory whereas fair weather fans are merely impostors.

Perhaps their first World Series championship in 108 years spawned new fans, to which I say welcome to the party. However, those that gave up only to return when things are good, are pathetic. Only the most devoted of fans lived through the billy goats, black cats and Steve Bartman‘s and never let go. The true fans can endure the good with the bad. You can’t call yourself a fan only when it suits you, no matter how you try to rationalize it.

This Isn’t About Baseball (or Sports)

This isn’t a post about the Chicago Cubs, or any sports team. I’m talking to Star Wars fans. Fair weather fans do not always apply to sports teams, clearly Star Wars also has its share as well. I understand the criticism the prequels often receive but it’s hardly worth such ire. While they have their shortcomings, I think they have quite a few redeeming qualities. If you consider yourself a Star Wars fan, a true and devoted Star Wars fan, then you can find the a way to love all the movies. Otherwise, you are merely an impostor.

It’s not about the terrible acting by Jake Lloyd and Hayden Christensen, midichlorians or Jar Jar. It’s about the great characters (ex: Dexter Jettster, Darth Maul, Mace Windu, General Grevious). It’s about knowing the origin story and the awesome music. Watching Ewan McGregor don the Obi-Wan costume and show that he is a kick-ass Jedi was incredible. A devout fan is always the optimist and can find redemption in the valley’s.

If you’re choosing to ignore the prequels, you’re a fair weather fan. If you hold on only to old canon, and refute the new canon, you’re a fair weather fan. When you are unable to endure the low times and linger only on the past, you’re a fair weather fan. If you’re a fair weather fan, then you’re not really a fan at all.

If You Can Do Better, Then Do It

Some of the things I constantly hear from all the fair weather fans is “George Lucas should have done <this>” or “Rian Johnson shouldn’t have done <that>”. It’s as if these “fans” know more about making a movie or telling a story than the folks who have been doing it all of their lives. If you think you can do better, then write the script, hire the “right” actors, partner with a production company, and go make the movie. You’ll probably have better odds of winning the lottery (at least then you can buy a production company to “make the right version” of the films). If you can’t put up then shut up; go be a Trekkie where they argue about who is the better captain (by the way, it’s Kirk).

/MTFBWY

The Force. It calls to you. Just let it in.

 

Jan 122018
 

A new year means new goals (remember, I don’t make “New Years resolutions”). As we look forward to my 2018 New Years intentions, I am also going to review my 2017 intentions. I focused on four areas for 2017; Home Automation projects, Reading Challenge, Fitness and Health and Professional Skills Development. In the spirit of full disclosure and accountability, I was about 50% successful. Therefore, I guess as the first goal for the new year I plan to be more successful accomplishing the goals I set.

Biggs Labs – Smart Home

I completed nothing for my home automation project! I was hoping to have installed the dimmer switches and the Siri integration and none of that happened. If I can get my wife on board to help encourage me to work on it this year I think I should get this done in 2018. A potential roadblock is a broken SD card and lack of access to an SD card reader. I really want to get Siri working with our home automation. As I said last time, I just need to sit down and really focus on this task.

 2018 Goodreads Reading Challenge

I already went into more detail about my reading challenge results from last year; suffice it to say I was 14/15 despite what Goodreads said. The reading challenge goals for this year will be a legitimate 15 books, starting with reading Ready Player One again (in anticipation for the movie). I also have quite the list of Star Wars books to read (which begins with Thrawn), the Extracted trilogy and, of course, more Dresden Files.

As I complete books I will often post a book review. All my book reviews will be posts here but I will also post them on Goodreads and Amazon

 Fitness and Health

I was marginally successful with my wellness goals last year. The biggest accomplishment was actually running in my first 5K; last year I said if I miss all my other goals, completing a 5K would not be one of them. Mission accomplished! I will be running the Flying Pig 5K again this year and my goal this time will be to finish it faster.

As I have done every year since 2013, I completed the Walk to Mordor Nerd Fitness challenge. This year I’m sure to complete it again but I do need to start working my way through the second half of the challenge. If my math is correct I would need to start reaching an average daily step goal of 16,000 step. It is quite a lofty step goal considering I only average about 11-12k now.

Professional Skills Development

If it wasn’t my home automation projects where I dropped the ball in 2017 then it was in this category. I will admit that with all the changes that happened last year, job wise, I didn’t have many opportunities to focus on new skills. Last year I chose Swift and Angular 2 as potential new skills to pursue. This year my focus will more closely match what is needed for my career at my new job. The fact that time for innovation is supposed to be part of our weekly work routine will be wonderful help!

My 2018 goals do not seem as ambitious as they were in 2017 but perhaps its better that way. Maybe I wasn’t successful because I tried to accomplish too much. This year I am going to keep my goals a bit more reasonable. Also, I think I’ve said enough about the New Year, time to return to your regularly scheduled programming.

/MTFBWY

minions_icon

I could accomplish so much more if I only had minions!

 

Jan 042018
 

2017 Reading Challenge - Almost ThereMy 2017 Reading Challenge was, again, 15 books within a calendar year. While Goodreads says I finished all my books, I actually only completed 14. I thought I had completed all 15 books because that is what Goodreads told me. It turns out that a book I started but did not finish still counted as having read it. Granted it was a book I was reading again so perhaps that is why Goodreads counted it. So, without further ado here is …

My 2017 Reading Challenge Book List

If I wrote a review for one of the books I read, you can click on the title of the book to read the review (if it interests you).

My Pick for the 2017 Best Read

I actually read quite a few good books in 2017. I did have a hard time picking a “best read” for the year. This was the year I took my first steps into the world of Harry Dresden, C. Greenwood was really on a roll with a couple new fantasy series but it really came down to two surprising books. I returned to the Star Wars universe again with Shatterpoint and the book was really good, I loved learning more about Mace Windu and Depa Billaba. If you’re a Star Wars fan, and you do not feel jaded by the prequels, I would really recommend this book (check out my review if you’re interested).

I think, in the end, I have to go with Extracted as my 2017 Best Read. This book was a Kindle First and it is extremely captivating. It’s pretty classic Sci Fi with time travel, a future at risk, normal people with latent extraordinary abilities. I will be reading the second book in this series this year and I’m really looking forward to it.

diablo3-reading“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
– Dr. Seuss

 

Jan 022018
 

I rather enjoyed writing a post reviewing 2016 so here we are again, doing a 2017 year in review. Everyone was ready to get 2016 over with because we just lost too many beloved celebrities. While 2017 also took more, it didn’t feel as though it was happening daily (more on this later). Again, I will cover NO political or hot topics, that’s not what I write about here.

Celebrities to Whom We Said ‘Good Bye’

This year it was the music industry that suffered some of the greatest tragic deaths. As a child of the 80s and 90s it was awful to hear about the passing of Tom Petty and Malcolm Young (from AC/DC). Full Moon Fever was the first cassette tape I ever bought for myself which contained Free Fallin’, one of my all time favorite Tom Petty songs. As a Country music fan, I was sad to hear about the passing of Glen Campbell; however I don’t it was as devastating as hearing about the accident that took Troy Gentry. Montgomery Gentry has some of my favorite songs and it just won’t be the same without Troy.

We lost some great names in the Movie and Entertainment industry. The biggest names that probably stand out are Hugh Hefner, Jerry Lewis and Adam West. It was awful to lose the Mayor of Quahog and the old school Batman (and a better one than Ben Affleck). Some of the lesser known, but iconic celebrities we lost this year are John Heard – the father of Home Alone, Stephen Furst – famous for the movie the Dream Team, and Peter Sallis – the voice of Wallace from Wallace and Gromit. We also had to say good-bye to the amazing talents of Mary Tyler Moore, Bill Paxton and Roger Moore (probably my favorite James Bond actor).

2017 Year in Review: Gaming

Blizzard/Activision was the big name in gaming in 2017 with the end of the current World of Warcraft expansion and the release of Destiny 2. The Destiny 2 release was probably one of the most anticipated release of the year. Console players were lucky to meet the guardian’s early while PC gamers had to wait until October. It was quite the obsession for me, until the first DLC came out and asked for another $20 from me. I haven’t played it since that time.

I’ve had a fantastic year in the Warcraft expansion. I think, not only is this the best expansion since Wrath of the Lich King, but I’ve had an awesome time with my new raid team. We have cleared all normal and heroic difficulties in time to receive the “Ahead of the Curve” achievement. We are already working through the final raid on heroic difficulty.

Blizzcon met everyone’s expectations by revealing the next WoW expansion: Battle for Azeroth. I’m not entirely sure the name of the expansion was received well. Many are on the fence about it, including myself. The content of the expansion seems a bit lackluster. I am excited to be visiting Jaina’s homeworld and the Allied Races seems interesting but I feel like it’s lacking more player content. We’ve had garrisons and order halls and then nothing. I feel like there needs to be another evolution of that system. Perhaps more will be revealed as the launch approaches.

2017 Year in Review: Star Wars

I only saw one movie in the theater this year; the only movie worth seeing: The Last Jedi. Since 2017 was the 40th anniversary of the Star Wars franchise I decided to make that a topic instead of movies. Click here to check out my review of Star Wars: The Last Jedi. I was, at first, alarmed the movie’s audience rating was so low. Then I discover it was just some trolls creating multiple accounts on IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes to drive down the audience rating. It didn’t work, the movie is still insanely profitable. HAH!

I cannot believe it has been 40 years for the Star Wars movie franchise. Thanks to Disney, J.J. Abrams and Rian Johnson it is still going strong. 2017 was a good year for Star Wars fans, like myself. There were quite a lot of promotions going on all year for the anniversary. One promotion that I found very interesting was the Rule the Galaxy Virtual 5K. There is an organization called the Virtual Running Club where you can register and complete a 5K anywhere you want. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity for a limited edition medal for completing a 40th Anniversary, Star Wars themed 5K (click the image to see a larger view of the medal).

2017 Walk to Mordor

On the note of 5K races and running, I completed the Walk to Mordor challenge, again! I, honestly, do not remember exactly when this year but I want to say it was much sooner than the year prior. My ultimate goal is to be able to complete the second leg of this challenge which adds another 1600 miles. It’s going to be a stretch goal and one, I doubt, I will achieve in 2018. However, if I keep finishing the base challenge earlier than the previous year, I’m sure to get there eventually. Perhaps 2020 will be my target year for completing the extra distance.

I think I am going to end my 2017 wrap-up here. Overall it was a pretty good year and I’m looking forward to what 2018 has in store.

/cheers

minions_icon

I could accomplish so much more if I only had minions!

 

Dec 312017
 

ShatterpointShatterpoint by Matthew Woodring Stover
My rating:
(Click here to check out this review on Goodreads)

Even the strongest of gems have that one spot where they are weakest. The one spot that creates a cascading effect which causes it to shatter. Everything has a shatterpoint, including Jedi. This is Jedi Master Mace Windu’s talent, he can find a person’s shatterpoint. The one thing where they are weakest and thus use it to claim an advantage. He will need this ability when he has to return to his home world of Haruun Kal to find out what has become of his former padawan, Depa Billaba. What he finds when he gets there, is far worse than he expects.

I’ve had this book sitting on my bookshelf for so many years I don’t even remember where or when I bought it. I probably picked it up at a Star Wars Celebration event or Comic-Con. I’ve been saying, for a while, that I need to get back into reading more Star Wars books and this is the book I picked. It turned out to be an excellent pick!

I think it helps to have Samuel L. Jackson in my mind while reading this book. It really gives me a whole new appreciation for Mace Windu. I was really surprised how much I enjoyed this book and found it difficult to put down at times. I’ll admit, it had its slow spots but overall it was pretty good. Whether your opinion of the prequels is vulgar or compassion, I would recommend reading this book.

View all my reviews

diablo3-reading“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
– Dr. Seuss

 

Dec 162017
 

Star Wars The Last Jedi
Star Wars The Last Jedi

Director: Rian Johnson
Starring: Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill

My Rating: 

Simply put, I think The Last Jedi is marvelous! I am really confused as to why audiences are not responding well, but that is typical for the middle movie of a trilogy. I admit that this movie is quite different from any other Star Wars movie. It’s dark, with some light humor (often delivered by Oscar Isaac). It has some pretty intense moments; apparently I was, unknowingly, squeezing my wife’s hand throughout most of the film.

It was so awesome to see Mark Hamill reprise his most iconic role and he was spectacular! Luke’s demeanor is exactly as I expected considering what happened to Ben Solo. Daisy Ridley is still amazing as Rey and Adam Driver’s performance is equally as amazing! We also see new ways in which the Force is used, including a dramatic moment when Leia uses the Force.

Carrie Fisher’s Swan Song

I’ll admit that there were a few scenes that were difficult to watch when Leia was the focus. There is a great moment where Luke and R2 share a nostalgic moment that clearly pays homage to “A New Hope”. It’s also a great tribute to Princess Leia.

The last thing Luke says to Leia, in the movie, is perfect (and eerily fitting). Carrie Fisher’s death was unexpected and sudden but this movie is an unexpected tribute to her. Shortly into the credits a line was added (obviously in post-production) in which the film was dedicated to “our beloved princess”.

Star Wars The Last Jedi Opening Night

The last time I saw a Star Wars movie on Opening Night was Revenge of the Sith. When you have a toddler, arranging the night to be toddler-free often becomes difficult. I was very excited to finally see an opening night release and I was rewarded with a couple collectibles.

The AMC theater we went to were selling limited edition, opening night, metal popcorn tins (see picture). Naturally, I had to buy all three as souvenirs to commemorate the occasion.

I cannot wait to see it again, hopefully before its Blu-ray release. There are also quite a few “theory-inducing” plot twists that I will discuss at a later date. More people need to see it before I talk about those. If you can get to a matinee, that seems to be the best option to avoid large crowds. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

/MTFBWY

The Force. It calls to you. Just let it in.