Mar 032020

Thrawn: Treason (Star Wars: Thrawn, #3)Thrawn: Treason by Timothy Zahn
My rating:
(Click here to go to Goodreads instead)

The man that brought us the original Thrawn Trilogy brings us a new trilogy, set before Star Wars: A New Hope. In fact these books predate Rogue One. Each book in the series describe a moment in Thrawn’s rise to power. The first book, Thrawn, talks about how the Empire first discovers this mysterious, and alien being. The second book, Thrawn: Alliances, takes place several years later in which he must work closely with Darth Vader to locate a disturbance in the Force on behalf of the Emperor.

This book follows events that involve the Emperor’s Stardust plans. Thrawn clashes with Director Krennic himself as his unique tactical talents are put to the test. During his mission he discovers a treasonous plot against the Empire.

Biggs’ Review

It’s so exciting that Zahn wrote a Thrawn prequel. Reading a Star Wars book doesn’t always have to involve the Jedi and/or the Rebels. A view from the side of the Imperials is equally as interesting. This series fulfills that perspective. Zahn makes me love Mitth’raw’nurudo over again. I’ve been a fan of the Chiss species since I read the original Thrawn Trilogy so many years ago. I think what I enjoy most about this particular book is its place in the Star Wars timeline. It’s not only directly linked to the events that unfold in Rogue One but leads directly in to one of the animated series.

Now a third Thrawn trilogy is in the works for Timothy Zahn. He announced the Ascendancy Trilogy late last year; Book 1 is due out this May!

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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


Feb 262020

I feel like I use to write “State of the Game” or “State of the Raid” posts in the past, however I cannot seem to find one. I prefer “State of the Raid” as a subject because it’s more applicable to me (and my raid friends). It’s also the primary reason I log in every day. However, this post is about more than just our progress in Ny’alotha; it’s also about my progress with all end game activities.

Ny’alotha Raid Progress

Ny’alotha is the final raid of the Battle for Azeroth expansion. We are fighting to save Azeroth from N’Zoth, who has nightmarish plans for the world. In Normal we are consistently 11/12 within a lockout. N’Zoth, even on Normal, is a very challenging boss so we have made the logical choice to start working through Heroic content. The gear, hopefully, will help us to be successful against N’Zoth. We are currently 3/12 in Heroic.

We are also working on completing through Carapace of N’Zoth within a single night so we have more time to focus on Heroic. After the current lock out, however, we will have completed the quest to unlock the skip mechanic. Therefore we will likely focus exclusively on Heroic very soon. Ahead of the Curve is our goal, as always, which awards the Uncorrupted Voidwing, a freaking sweet mount! I’m a little worried though; N’Zoth seems perhaps a little over tuned and/or overly complex. I’m honestly kind of hoping for a nerf, however I have confidence in our raid team (Humpday!!)

Assaults, Visions and Alts

This expansion is one of the weaker ones. Probably not as weak as Warlords of Draenor. Perhaps more on par with Cataclysm. I was interested in the story through the previous patch, in which we faced off with Azshara, a baddie that dates back to Vanilla. Now we are facing off against another old god, who seem to be the antagonists behind all that plagues Azeroth. I don’t find the battle against N’Zoth as epic as it was fighting Azshara. The advantage this expansion has over previous weaker expansion is the non-raid end game activities that are available.

I really like the corruption visual effect

When I’m not raiding, my wife and I are completing Assaults and running Horrific Visions to upgrade our cloaks. We are current as of this post (i.e. Rank 12). The higher the rank we have on our cloaks the more corrupted gear we can have (which improves our survivability and contributes to our raid progress). After cloaks then it’s usually the alts I spend time on. Most things you can solo if you don’t want to group. I find that appealing as I’m not always interested in group activities (unless its with my wife). Granted I’ve only completed up to Rank 5 on an alt; soloing Corrupted Zones or *shudder* Lost Zones is frightening.

The Azerite system is OK. There are times when I feel its tedious to have to go to the Chamber of Heart to active a new trait. Also, getting a new piece of Azerite gear can be a little annoying, especially during raid when you are trying to bust through content to get to your progression point. Having to stop and plug in Azerite traits slows things down, especially if you have to look them up on icy-veins (or similar web sites).

Aside from getting the Ahead of the Curve achievement, I will have to start making my end-of-expansion goal list. Shadowlands is just around the corner.

duke-nukem-sm If zombies attack the world, everyone will run and hide. Except for us gamers, of course. We’ve been waiting for this all our lives!


Feb 242020

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Directed By: Marielle Heller
StarringTom Hanks, Matthew Rhys
Release Date: November 22, 2019

My Rating:

I know this movie isn’t exactly a recent release; last November in fact. However a movie about someone as iconic as Mr Rogers cannot go without commenting. The man defined an entire generation; my generation. The trailer for this film had me choked up with nostalgia and Tom Hanks seemed like the perfect cast.

And he was! However, this movie isn’t actually about Fred Rogers, its about the man writing a profile on Mr. Rogers; Lloyd Vogel. This movie is a true story.

It’s Not About Fred

As I mentioned, this movie isn’t actually about Mr. Rogers. Lloyd Vogel is the character name that represents the actual writer, Tom Junod. Lloyd has a reputation for writing rather scathing exposes for Esquire magazine. He also has a very hostile relationship with is father (for reasons that are explained in the movie). When he is given an assignment to write a profile on Mr. Rogers, his perspective is completely changed. It’s all thanks to Mr. Rogers.

This movie is so amazing and very respectful to Mr. Rogers. It reinforces that Mr. Rogers is the same person on and off the screen. Every time there is a location change, a scaled down model of the location is used (just like they did in Mr. Rogers Neighborhood). That is easily one of the best features of the film. After reading some of the trivia about this film (which I often do for lots of movies) one of the interesting facts I read is that the studio spent a lot of time (and money) getting the film as accurate as possible.

The writers said the film took so long to be made because they worked with the estate tirelessly to ensure the accuracy of the film. They were given access to the archives to ensure it was “right”.IMDB

“Such a Good Feeling”

I especially like the scene where Mr. Rogers is on the subway and the whole subway car sings “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”; I would have joined in the chorus had I been there too. This movie will leave you with “such a good feeling” by the end. By the way, if you have Amazon Prime, you can watch old episodes of Mr. Rogers Neighborhood; my daughter has already watched a few. If you grew up with this man in your living room, you need to see this film!

film_reel“The screen is a magic medium. It has such power that it can retain interest as it conveys emotions and moods that no other art form can hope to tackle.”
– Stanley Kubrick


Feb 102020

Dead Beat (The Dresden Files, #7)Dead Beat by Jim Butcher
My rating:
(Click here to go to Goodreads.)

I haven’t been posting reviews for the Dresden books I’ve been reading. Its not from lack of enjoyment, I’m definitely hooked on Harry Dresden. It helps that these books take place in Chicago, my favorite city. The books have been around since April 2000 (in fact the 16th book comes out this July). I just assumed everyone has already read or heard about these books so writing a review seemed superfluous. However I’m committed to writing more book reviews this year so here goes.

Biggs’ Review

I can see why this book is the favorite of many Dresden fans. I’ve been in love with Harry Dresden’s wit since Storm Front but there’s more to love than his personality in this book. I’m not going to plunge into too many details because I don’t want to ruin anything. Basically Harry agrees, reluctantly again, to another dangerous case (from an even more dangerous person) and you wonder, the entire book, how he’s going to survive this one. All I can say is Bob plays an awesome role in the outcome. There are some new characters and a few other twists and surprises in this book that I’m not going to mention so you’ll just have to read to find out.

I loved this book; easily one of the best ones so far (though, I do have a long way to go before Peace Talks). I can definitely see myself reading this book again after I’ve finally caught up.

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Feb 062020

How Much Do You Know about Peter Cushing? Star Wars fans know him as Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin from A New Hope. If you’re not quite “Star Wars savvy” to know which one is Tarkin, he is the Imperial leader that ordered for the termination of Leia and the destruction of Alderaan (see picture on the right).

I try to consider what the audience would like to see me do and I thought kids would adore Star Wars.
– Peter Cushing

I’m sure it’s a generation thing but Tarkin is the only role I know Peter Cushing played. Granted, he was 64 years old when Star Wars was released so, obviously, he’s had many roles in his career. I was curious, so I dug into his filmography. He has quite the distinguished career.

From Darcy to Sherlock

Peter Cushing passed away in 1994 and over the course of his 81 years he’s been in 130 movies or TV series. What I found most surprising is, of the 130 films/series, 50 of them were horror films. It seems he had a penchant for the creepy and scary. In fact, among his horror accolades, he played some iconic characters. Baron Frankenstein and Van Helsing are two of the more well known characters in the genre.

It seems that when he wasn’t trying to scare the audience, he was sleuthing. Yes, Peter Cushing was Sherlock Holmes in several well known Sherlock stories (including The Hound of Baskervilles). His archetypal portrayals also extended to the prideful Mr. Darcy in a Pride and Prejudice series in 1952 and the Sheriff of Nottingham in 1960.

However, I think the role that surprises me most of all was that of Doctor Who. In 1965 and 1966 two Doctor Who movies were produced: Dr. Who and the Daleks and Dalek’s Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. in which Peter Cushing was the beloved Doctor. Hopefully I can track down these movies and watch them.

In fact, I think I need to track down several of his other films; and not just the well known characters. If there is any Peter Cushing film you’ve seen and would recommend, please leave a comment.

“The more you know, the more you know you don’t know.” – Aristotle


Feb 052020

I am a huge movie buff so picking my favorite top 5 action/adventure movies is very difficult. In fact, in order to even whittle the list down to 5 I have to set some further qualifications. So for this top 5 list I chose movies that are non-franchised. A “non-franchised” is any movie that is not part of a trilogy or large collection of related films (ex: James Bond or the Marvel movies that make up the Infinity Saga). It’s also based on if I were channel surfing and these movies came on, I would be inclined to continue watching without starting over. This list is in no particular order.

I actually want to watch all these movies just merely by building this list. In fact, as I was building this list I felt like a few other movies deserve some honorable mentions (i.e. movies that almost made the list). Chris Evans performance in The Losers is one of the best parts of the film. While I do not care for the type of music DMX performs, his nerdy character is Exit Wounds is my favorite. Finally, The Fifth Element because it’s just a fun movie to watch and it’s quite quotable.

I Have Spoken!