Apr 062021
 

Dresden Files ChangesChanges by Jim Butcher
My rating:
(Click here to view at Goodreads)

I know, I know. The last book review I wrote for the Dresden Files was book 8. What can I say, I enjoy these books so much I immediately jump into the next book. In fact I do it so quickly that I don’t allow myself enough time to properly digest the book and, thus, write a book review. If you’ve read “Changes” then you know as well as I do, this is a good time to take a step back and breath before embarking on book 13.

Soooo, WoW! This book is aptly named! If you haven’t read it yet then I’m warning you now, there are MAJOR SPOILERS ahead! I was not expecting half the events that unfold for poor Harry in this book. With that said, there are few books that have me shaking and/or tearing up at the end; this book managed to accomplish both.

spoiler alert!!!

The following content contains spoilers for Dresden Files Book 12 – Changes.

A Brief Synopsis/Biggs’ Review

Susan Rodriguez, Harry’s old fling, has returned. She needs Harry’s help, which is always seems to get Harry in trouble. Except this time he has no choice. Susan’s daughter, Maggie, has been taken by the Red Court and she needs Harry’s help to find her; after all … it’s his daughter too??!?!

Over the past several books we have seen Harry Dresden change quite a bit. A rogue wizard who is under the White Council’s constant vigilance to a Warden and now a father! While these are typical changes every person and/or character may go through, this book, literally, changes everything! I’d have to read the book again (which I intend to do) to fully catalog all the terrible things that happens to Harry. By the end you’re wondering where will Harry live now? When will Queen Mab come to collect? WHERE IS MISTER???!? And then … that happens …

A fellow Dresdenite (is that a thing?) said to me that this book could also be called “Harry Dresden and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day”. Every book is, essentially, Harry’s worst day/week out of the year. However, this book turns it up to 11. Despite the rapid change in landscape, I really like this book. Easily one of my favorite books in the series. I love it when an author suddenly decides to flip everything on its head. Hit the reset button, as it were. I mean, if I didn’t know there were 4 more books, I would have thought this was the end of the series. In fact this book, more than any other book I’ve read, leaves you wondering … where do we go from here???

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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

 

Mar 102021
 

About Gina CaranoI know I’m probably taking a rather large risk here talking about Gina Carano. She is in some hot water recently and there are many who are fairly upset with her right now. I will not be offended if you chose not to read this post, however I assure you that I will not take a side. More on that later.

Be that as it may I still really like her character in the Star Wars Universe. Therefore I have no shame writing about her career and demonstrating that you’ve probably seen her more frequently then you thought.

From Fighting in the Cage to Fighting On Screen

Gina Carano was born in Dallas, Texas; she is the daughter of former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Glen Carano. When she was 7 her parents divorced and she was raised by her mother in Las Vegas. In 2006 she began her MMA career in the Featherweight division. In 2009 she left Mixed Martial Arts, with a record of 7-1-0, to begin acting.

If I had to compare Gina Carano to another television and movie actor, it would be Chuck Norris. Coincidentally she received the first Chuck Norris Award for best female action star for her role in “Haywire”. By the way, if you haven’t checked out Haywire, I highly recommend it. Carano stars along side fellow Star Wars alum Ewan McGregor as well as Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas and Michael Fassbender. She stars in a few other movies I plan to check out such as Scorched Earth and Heist.

You will also spot her in a couple of other more popular films. She is Riley in Fast & Furious 6 and Angel Dust in the Deadpool movie.

Social Media and Lucasfilm Controversy

In February of 2021 Lucasfilm released Gina Carano from further Star Wars projects as a result of some controversial social media posts. Again, I won’t take sides on this subject but I will say that I am upset this happened; I’m upset with both parties involved. I admire Gina Carano for sticking to her guns and standing up for what she believes, especially in the face of the intolerant liberal Hollywood. However, I do not agree with the manner in which she expressed her belief; she should have chosen a different metaphor. This is especially true given she’s had a target on her back since late last year. I think Lucasfilm was just waiting for the right time and, unfortunately, she gave it to them.

Lucasfilm’s response is exactly the action I expected so as to save face in an industry that is predominately left wing. However their response has made Gina Carano a martyr. It’s been over a month and I still see her and/or news about her popping up on social media. The content is often in support of her and, as a result, her martyrdom has further cemented Cara Dune’s legacy in the Star Wars Universe.

Whether you love her or you hate her, she is permanently part of the Star Wars family, whether her character lives or dies. Personally, the biggest disappointment in all of this is that it is extremely unlikely she will make any appearances at any Celebrations and/or Comic Cons. It’s a real shame because I’ve heard she is a very nice person. I hope for the best for her and I pray that her and Lucasfilm will, one day, reconcile and she makes a triumphant return to Star Wars.

I am open to comments and thoughts, however, any comment I deem rude and/or intolerant will be denied/removed.

Visit ginacarano.net

Breathe. Just breathe. Now reach out.

Mar 022021
 

Dwindling Supply of Physical MoviesWhen I was in college I had a ritual every Tuesday. After classes were done for the day I drove to Best Buy. Tuesday’s is when new releases hit the store shelves and they were always on sale the week their first week. Lately I’ve noticed a terrible trend. A dwindling supply of physical movies in stores.

I’ve noticed it at Best Buy, Meijer and Target. The movie section used to span several rows of motion picture delectation. I’ve also noticed a dwindling presence of Blu-ray players available for purchase. This is all very disconcerting! I don’t always feel like streaming a movie. In fact, I rarely feel like streaming a movie!

Streaming Services Ruin Everything!

I’m not opposed to streaming services; actually I really enjoy them. We have accounts on several of the main services available, but I mostly use them to stream television series. My problem is I prefer to watch movies using my 4K setup with my own Blu-ray, sound system and television. I don’t want to always rely on an Internet connection to stream a 4k movie. Also, I don’t trust the steaming companies. They like to add things (ex: “MACLUNKEY!!”) or remove things to suite their political agenda.

It’s also not easy to find the movie I want. A lot of these streaming services cycle movies and no single streaming service has ALL the movies. Basically, if you want more variety, you have to subscribe to multiple services, which gets expensive. I got rid of cable so I didn’t have to pay the high price for television. I’m not going to turn around and pay the same amount of money subscribing to 14 different streaming services so I can access any movie I want at any given time.

Amazon still sells physical movies, which is fine, I can order it online and it’s “usually” delivered in about 24 hours. However, sometimes I don’t like to wait. Like most people these days, I want instant gratification. I’m curious about what the future of “home video” will look like. VHS replaced betamax, DVD replaced VHS, Blu-ray replaced DVD. Are streaming services on course to replace Blu-ray and, in turn, any form of physical movie? I’m not sure I’m a fan of that.

/cheers

The things that go through my mind when I’m alone with nothing but my thoughts for entertainment is dangerous. Some might even say eccentric. Consider this your warning about today’s Random Thought of the Day

 

Feb 282021
 

First a few qualifying statements. I know I’m not a gifted blog writer however I just write for fun; nobody pays me. Also, this isn’t a blanket statement because there are plenty of good blog writers. Most of my observations have been various writers for Star Wars blogs, though I have seen the occasional tech writer or other cultural blog writer whose prose and research are abysmal. Bad grammar is a common offense, which is shocking. Learning basic grammar is not difficult and using it is even easier.

Grammar is so important and I cannot emphasize that enough. In a world where social media has such influential power, grammar even matters on your Facebook posts. Potential employers will research you and they will judge how lazy you are or even how intelligent you are simply based on your Facebook posts. If I were a hiring manager or if I am screening potential candidates, I will research your social media. I don’t expect people to have the grammar prowess of an Oxford English professor but I do expect people to know proper comma usage and punctuation.

By the way, I know many hiring managers and recruiters that do check social media, such as Facebook, to learn about potential applicants. If you’re not careful with social media, it can hurt your job candidacy and safety. The dangers of social media is a different topic for a different time.

Research Or Know Your Canon!

Honestly, based on most of my observations, it isn’t grammar that is the greatest offense. It’s research! This is most common in several of the Star Wars blogs I’ve seen. The inaccuracy of some of these blog writers is astounding. Sometimes I question whether the author is actually a fan or if they were just assigned a topic by their editor. Honestly I hope that’s what is happening. It would be more disconcerting if these authors really are “fans” because then I question their knowledge of Star Wars canon.

I admit that I don’t know everything there is in Star Wars canon, however I research what I don’t know before I make any assumptions or comments. These Star Wars authors are sacrificing accuracy for clicks, which is a shame because finding accurate details doesn’t require a lot of research. The other explanation is worse, however. Clickbait websites thrive on gullible and obtuse users to drive up their visitation. Websites like “We’ve Got This Covered” and “Collider” are some of the worst offenders. DO NOT TRUST ANYTHING FROM THESE SITES! Also, be careful of other blogs you read that might use these sites as “references” or “sources”.

The most sickening thing I’ve seen are blog authors taking advantage of the fan divisiveness to attract readers. Instead of reporting accurate information, they tailor facts to prey on people’s emotions simply to manipulate them to read their awful articles. This isn’t a prevalent blog but I still won’t sacrifice quality just to attract more readers. I will never manipulate the facts and I will never try to disguise my opinion as fact. I’m concerned this is a microcosm of all journalism.

If you want loyal readers then use basic grammar, do the research and know your canon.

/cheers

I Have Spoken!

 

Feb 162021
 

We’re now six episodes into this series; which means only three episodes remain. I began watching this series with mild interest and now I’m fully committed. I hadn’t intended on writing more about it, however the puzzle in this show is making the discussions fun so I don’t mind writing more on Wandavision. I do not like spoilers so I will provide sufficient warning or redaction when it’s needed.

The puzzle is becoming more interesting as well as a lot of the theories I’ve been reading. In fact there are so many theories and ideas I hardly know where to begin.

spoiler alert!!!

The following content contains spoilers for Wandavision.

Who Is Agnes?

I think, one of the biggest mysteries, is Kathryn Hahn‘s character. Who is Agnes? I noticed, in the first episode featuring Darcy, nobody mentions Agnes when they were assembling “the cast of character”. In fact her character is rarely, if ever, acknowledged by any member of S.W.O.R.D. Is Agnes only visible by Wanda and the other “cast members”? There are fan theories that believe she is Agatha Harkness. Agatha Harkness is a powerful witch from the Salem witch trials that mentors Wanda (aka Scarlet Witch) in real magic.

Perhaps Westview is Agatha’s “training ground” for Wanda. Listen for the pronouns. A lot of times the “cast members”, when not under the spell, refer to “her” but never Wanda by name. Could “her” actually be Agnes but S.W.O.R.D believes they mean Wanda? I realize that Wanda leaves Westview to confront S.W.O.R.D but what if that is Agnes using a veil to perpetuate the ruse?

What If It’s A.I.M?

I do like that theory but I have another one. What if it’s not just S.W.O.R.D that is watching Wanda? What if A.I.M is also watching? In fact, what if A.I.M. has people on the inside? By the way, Advanced Idea Mechanics is the evil counterpart to S.W.O.R.D. and is first mentioned in Iron Man 3. Perhaps Agnes is from AIM? In fact, what if Wanda’s “brother” is also an AIM operative? It would explain why he was “re-cast”.

Regardless, I do not think Wanda is turning into a villain. It seems that Kevin Feige is trying to lead the audience that way but I think its misdirection. I think she is dealing with her grief of not only having lost her brother but also the man she loved. I think there are nefarious forces taking advantage of her vulnerable state but to what end? Is A.I.M trying to turn her evil and weaponize her? Agatha Harkness isn’t a villain (at least not in the comics), so perhaps she’s trying to mentor Wanda amidst all of this but she doesn’t know who is trustworthy. Maybe she thinks S.W.O.R.D. is A.I.M. which is why she confronts them veiled as Wanda?

Allegedly the last three episodes are all an hour long and I think they are going to be intense. Are there any Wandavision theories you would like to share?


When I was a kid, it was a huge insult to be a geek. Now it’s a point of pride in a weird way.” – J.J. Abrams

Feb 082021
 

Cloak of DeceptionCloak of Deception

by James Luceno
My rating:
(Click here to view on Goodreads)

James Luceno autograph

I’ve had this book since Star Wars Celebration III (circa 2005). I actually met James Luceno (in fact this book is a signed copy), he’s a great guy. This is also the book that I began reading last year and I was 40% away from completing to hit my 2020 Reading Challenge. I should have pushed myself harder to finish but November and December is always a busy time of year. Be that as it may, I’m always a sucker for some backstory, especially in the Star Wars universe. While I’m not aware of all the books that take place in the prequel era, this book is potentially as far back as I’ve gone in Star Wars canon (aside from the KOTOR games), with the possible exception of Dooku: Lost Jedi.

Biggs’ Synopsis and Review

Supreme Chancellor Valorum’s trade route taxation policies are highly criticized. So much so that attempts have been made on his life. A particularly nasty syndicate, called The Nebula Front, seem to be involved with these assassination plots. Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn, and his padawan Obi-Wan Kenobi, attempt to track down and thwart these terrorists before they succeed.

As I mentioned before I love backstory content, perhaps that’s part of the reason I’m such a fan of the prequels. Without giving away too many details, this book describes the events that lead right up to the beginning of The Phantom Menace. I really enjoyed reading more of the adventures of Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan, Palpatines continued manipulation of the events and some fun, new characters.

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