May 282018
 

Executed (Extracted Trilogy, #2)Executed by R.R. Haywood
My rating: 

The first thing I learned from reading the second book is that I waited too long to read it after finishing the first. It’s also possible I read too many books between the two. I don’t want to get into too many details about this book because I don’t want to inadvertently spoil anything from Extracted.

Executed really starts getting into the time travel aspect. In other words, book two delves much deeper into the science of science fiction. Our time traveling heroes will go to extreme lengths to avert the end of the world. New team members will aid in the mission and world governments will find themselves thrust into the middle of a power struggle.

The end of the book is quite intense and the most interesting use of time travel. I was not expecting the book to end the way it did. It leaves me wondering what the third book will entail. Ultimately, at the end, it might leave you saying “Mother ….!”

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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

 

May 252018
 

Welcome to Geek Pride Day 2018! This is a day of jubilation starting back to 2008 in which we celebrate geek culture. Let’s be honest with ourselves, we are all geeks about something. Anything that you enjoy doing or something you are passionate about earns you the geek moniker. Many of us probably started earlier, like high school (or even prior to that). Back then the geek label often indicated how much smarter you are than your classmates. It also marks you as someone who may lack certain social skills, primarily because our interests were esoteric and unorthodox (comparatively speaking).

Be that as it may, there are two significant geek events that marks this day with Geek Pride. The twenty-fifth of May is the anniversary of the release of Star Wars (A New Hope) and it’s Towel Day. Also this year, we mark Geek Pride Day with the release of Solo: A Star Wars Story!

WTF is Towel Day??

I shouldn’t need to elaborate on the anniversary of Star Wars A New Hope. If you don’t know what that is, return to your planet because you’re not human. Some of you may know what Towel Day is, especially if you saw any of my previous Towel Day posts. For those that don’t know, it is the day we celebrate the work of Douglas Adams, he is the author behind the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy books. The easiest way to celebrate Towel Day is to simply carry a towel with you, wherever you go. Why a towel you ask? Well, according to the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy:

A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value.

If you check out on the Towel Day Wikipedia page the guides goes into much more detail. The movie is a decent interpretation however, I highly recommend reading the books. Just keep in mind that Douglas Adams is pretty wacky, and utilizes quite a bit of dry British humor. Therefore, as a final homage to Geek Pride Day, I leave you with more Vogon Poetry, entitled:

Ode to a Small Lump of Green Putty I Found in my Armpit One Midsummer Morning

Putty. Putty. Putty.
Green Putty – Grutty Peen.
Grarmpitutty – Morning!
Pridsummer – Grorning Utty!
Discovery….. Oh.
Putty?….. Armpit?
Armpit….. Putty.
Not even a particularly
Nice shade of green.
As I lick my armpit and shall agree,
That this putty is very well green.

So long and thanks for all the fish. MTFBWY.


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

May 242018
 

Star Wars Is More Gender Neutral thanks to these women!When I was growing up, typical boy things were G.I. Joe, He-Man and Star Wars. The typical girl things were Barbie, baby dolls and My Little Pony. The world has changed and while G.I. Joe and He-Man are lost in time, Star Wars is stronger than ever – thank you, Disney! The interesting thing is, Star Wars isn’t just a “boy thing” anymore. Disney and Lucasfilm has successfully altered the perception with the right character placement and new protagonists. I’m glad it doesn’t feel forced (no pun intended); it’s very casual but very deliberate. As a result Star Wars is more gender neutral.

A Story About A Little Girl

The inspiration for this post comes from something I read a few months back. I thought it was a pretty cool story, but became more inspired by it when my 4-year-old daughter began showing more interest in Star Wars. A woman posted a tweet about her 7-year-old daughter crying in her room. She’s crying because she loves Star Wars but she’s scared she will be laughed at because Star Wars is a “boy thing”. I can certainly sympathize with this mother’s concern.

Mark Hamill, in his truly awesome panache, responds appropriately:

As I already mentioned, perhaps 20 years ago Star Wars was “boy stuff”, but all that has changed.

Strong Female Protagonists

Originally we only had Princess Leia. Her wit and snarky personality immediately made her one of the most endearing princesses in science fiction. Then we got Padme when the prequels came out, followed by Ahsoka with the Clone Wars animated series. Of course the new trilogy has Rey, probably one of the most powerful Jedi yet, and Rogue One has Jyn Erso (brilliantly portrayed by Felicity Jones). All five of these women are powerful and brilliant role models for young ladies!

It isn’t just the Clone Wars animated series that brings powerful females into the Star Wars Universe. I’m sure you have heard of Star Wars Rebels which features two more powerful women: Hera and Sabine. Then Disney does something that is absolutely brilliant; Forces of Destiny. If you haven’t seen these short webisodes then go check them out. I think there are about 20+ right now and I believe more are coming. They focus specifically on all of the women mentioned above. My daughter loves watching them, and I think they are pretty entertaining as well.

Her Universe Clothing

The introduction of Ahsoka was the catalyst for more feminine influence. Ashley Eckstein is the voice for Ahsoka Tano and a fashion designer. She used her talents to create “Her Universe“, clothing that specifically targets women and little girls. Star Wars is not the only franchise that her clothing features. It covers many “geek” genres – ex: Marvel, Doctor Who, Wonder Woman. I think Ashley Eckstein is a powerful and fantastic influence to illustrate the fact that Star Wars isn’t just for guys anymore. I love it!

The fact that Star Wars is starting to appeal to the female demographic is awesome! I’ll admit that I love the fact that my 4-year-old daughter likes Star Wars and can even identify characters from the franchise. Hopefully its something she will always like as she gets older. I’ll certainly enjoy it while it lasts but the amazing work Disney and Ashley Eckstein are doing gives me hope that it’s something she will also enjoy well into her 30s (just like her father).

/MTFBWY

Breathe. Just breathe. Now reach out.

May 122018
 

Book Review: Dark Disciple (Star Wars)Dark Disciple by Christie Golden
My rating:
(Read this review on Goodreads)

I am a big fan of Christie Golden‘s work; in the past it’s mostly been her Warcraft novels. I kept hearing a lot of good things about this book so I was excited to finally read it. Suffice it to say, I was not disappointed. If you are not familiar with the nefarious Sith-gone-bounty-hunter Asajj Ventress, then you’re not reading enough canon. You also, clearly, haven’t watched enough of the animated series Clone Wars. Ventress is one bad ass bounty hunter, Force sensitive chick.

The Jedi Council has devised a plan to take out Count Dooku. Obi-Wan knows a Jedi with the resources and talent for the mission, Quinlin Vos. Much to the Council’s chagrin, they must also work with Ventress, Dooku’s former apprentice. Now Quinlin must earn her trust, despite her rules to always work alone. Is her hatred for Dooku enough to convince her to work with the Jedi? Will Quinlin’s dedication to his mission compromise his Jedi teachings?

Ventress is one of my favorite bounty hunters so I was very excited to read a book with her among the protagonists. What I wasn’t expecting was seeing a completely different side of her. I am so used to the bald, ruthless Nightsister from Dathomir, the blonde hair threw me off. Then the love story is a very unexpected twist. I’ll admit that I am not much for love stories, but there are very few in Star Wars. Coincidentally the love stories always seem to involve Jedi thus challenging the Jedi mantra. I really enjoyed the book. The duels with Count Dooku are gripping! The end, however, I did not see coming!

Also, a quick post script, after you read the main story, you should check out the short story at the end. It’s just an extra 10 pages or so but it’s more Ventress 😄

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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

 

May 102018
 

Last year is the first time I attempted running the Flying Pig 5K race. Actually it was the first time I ran ANY 5K race. I did not train well for it but I wasn’t terribly upset with 40 minutes; it’s the perfect bar to set for myself. The goal this year, to fully run the race and, hopefully, improve my time by 2-4 minutes. I have a lot of friends to thank for helping me achieve this goal; some old and some new. Since moving to Cincinnati I have a few new friends that are avid runners (some are marathon runners). Utilizing their advice was very instrumental to my efforts. A specific old friend comes to mind to thank for their tutelage in martial arts. While I no longer practice martial arts, the lessons you learn are extremely applicable to many of life’s other challenges. Preparing myself mentally and physically for running the Flying Pig 5K is one of those challenges.

Race Results

A New Personal Best

My run results are surprising. The best I was hoping for was 36 minutes, completing the 3.1 miles in just over 35 minutes is shocking! That is, hands down my new personal best. I think it is really helpful to have someone to run with whose pace is very close to my own. Also, having that extra coaching and encouragement is an added benefit.

I was also better prepared for the race this year. The month leading up to the race I would fully run over 3 miles once a week. It’s crucial to have the breathing and the pace in sync with each other. I’m sure that was also something I was missing last year.

Where Do We Go From Here?

The most logical next step would be to train for the 10K next year. Granted that means doubling the distance I run, and thinking about it that way makes it feel daunting. Be that as it may, the 10K race is my goal for next year. As I just said, I am fully running over 3 miles a week so the 5K will hardly feel like a challenge anymore. Therefore it’s time to “level up”, as Steve Kamb of Nerd Fitness would say. Thankfully I have some friends that are also willing to train for it.

Will I go beyond a 10K? I don’t know. Five years ago, running just a mile seemed ludicrous; now I’m contemplating 6.2 miles. I doubt my knees and my body has the dexterity to run more than a 10K. If I had to pick a max distance, a half marathon is probably my limit.

/cheers

minions_icon

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

 

May 092018
 

A well earned and truly fantastic sentiment

It surprises me that someone hasn’t gloated to me about the insane box office numbers Avengers: Infinity War is generating. I’m not going to lie, there is a small bit of jealousy but, to be honest, I’m happy for Avengers. Disney is doing some amazing work with the MCU! I’ve always been a Marvel fan, probably my second favorite franchise (albeit a very distant second). I have just as much enthusiasm for its success as I do for any Star Wars film (which can be rare for some “fans”). As fans of nerd culture, there is no remorse for the dethroning of The Force Awakens by a comic book movie. Ultimately, Star Wars will profit from The Avengers box office success.

Profit Sharing

Marvel Cinematic Universe is apart of Marvel Studios which is [1]a subsidiary of Walt Disney Studios, itself a wholly owned division of The Walt Disney Company“. Also a subsidiary of Disney is Lucasfilm and the entire Star Wars franchise. This Avengers movie marks the 10th year of the Marvel film franchise. Suffice it to say, Marvel movies have already peaked and are likely winding down. Star Wars, on the other hand, is just getting started. Therefore its only logical where all the money the Avengers (and other subsequent Marvel films) will be heading.

Yes, we have the Ant-Man sequel, Avengers 4, Guardians of the Galaxy 3, and Captain Marvel where that money will also be used. Ultimately, however, all the profits benefit The Walt Disney Company media conglomerate as a whole. This is a 2-way street; I’m sure the 900 million dollars in domestic box office earnings from The Force Awakens is partially allocated to Marvel Studios. I know they are different subsidiaries but the bottom line is, both franchises affect the same stocks.

Brothers Shouldn’t Fight

Monetary reasons aside, neither franchise should be battling for supremacy. Let’s be honest, in high school if you liked Star Wars or comic books you were labeled a nerd. Isn’t it ironic that 20 years later that is all everyone talks about. It’s the only thing everyone is going to see in the theaters. The nerd connotation these franchises induced makes them brothers by association. As such, we need to be embracing each of their successes in the box office. Competing seems like pointless bickering. After all would you rather Star Wars and Marvel hold the top spot, or some romantic drama (or worse yet, a DC movie 😱)?

/cheers

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