Sunday, January 31, 2016

Man, I am productive as dicks today

I've already gotten Iron Monday, Wikipedia Wednesday, She-Hulk Thursday, and February's Icon already written and queued up for the week. All that's left is Off Topic Tuesday and Shout-Out Friday. Call me butter, because I'm on a roll.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Looks like I am my own C-C-C-COMBO BREAKER

Because I never got around to doing She-Hulk Thursday and Shout-Out Friday. In my defense, I was exhausted on Thursday after walking to the library and back. Normally, that's not a too strenuous endeavor, but is sure as dicks is when you're doing it in snow boots because not everybody can be bothered to clear off the sidewalks. I didn't forget to do it, but after all of that walking (which did involve walking up and down hills both ways in addition to the snow), the only thing I really walked to do was eat, rest, and read. As for Shout-Out Friday, I have no excuse other than just plain sucking. I rotated between remembering and forgetting until it was just too late.

Well, there's always next week.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Dear Uptown Funk

I still have no received what you were gonna give to me. Were you sending by UPS or something? Have you checked the tracking number to see where it is? I hope it isn't something perishable.

With regards,
Nerd Trash.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Just finished Fortune's Pawn by Rachel Bach

I'll write a longer post about it later, but suffice to say I wasn't whelmed. The main problem was how the romance between Devi, the heroine, and Rupert, the Glorious Fool's cook dragged the main plot down. The ending also left me less than satisfied.

In any case, I've managed to read four books this month, which is an achievement I'm quite proud of. I had set a goal of reading at least fifteen this year and with only eleven left and January not quite over yet, I'd say that I'm in pretty good shape. So what's the next book on the old reading list?

Oh yeeeeah. I actually started this last year and like too many books, it fell by the wayside as I got into other books instead. I picked it back up yesterday while taking a short break from Fortune's Pawn and I'm already closing in on page 100. My aim is to have it packed away sometime in early February. I know I'm not going to be able to read four books a month regularly, I at least want to try for three.

But wait, there's more. I'm still jonesing for science fiction, I'm going to start reading one alongside Mistborn. I usually do this whenever I feel like taking a break from whatever I'm reading or if I just otherwise don't feel like reading it at the moment. 60% of the time, it works every time. I don't think reading two books will hinder me, since Mistborn is my primary focus. Plus, it'll give me a leg up once I'm done with Mistborn, since I'll already have started the next book. So, what's the next book? I've got four choices:

 Cordelia's Honor is another one of those books I started last year and I really enjoyed it. What can I say? I like military science fiction with female protagonists.

I've had this one for so many years, that I can't even remember if I bought it new or used. Timothy Zahn is the guy who wrote the legendary Thrawn Trilogy of Star Wars novels, which not only made it on the New York Times bestseller list, but also helped renew interest in the franchise. I've made several attempts with Night Train to Rigel, but that was before I gained a new appetite for reading, so now might be the right time.

Where Honor Harrington is supposed to be like Horatio Hornblower in space, the RCN series is supposed to be akin to Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin novels. What I've read of With the Lightnings wasn't bad, with the only downside is that I would probably end up as a fan of yet another book series.

 Another book that I've had for a while now and unlike Night Train to Rigel, I CAN remember that I bought this new. Absolutely no clue why I never read the thing all the way through, because I really liked it. I still need to acquire Altered Carbon, the first Takeshi Kovacs novel. I believe the books are stand-alone, but I still want it.

Choices, choices.

I think I'm funny sometimes

Husband: “Honey, I can’t believe that we’ve been married for twenty wonderful years now!”
Wife: “Yeah, about that - I want a divorce.”
Husband: “What?! Why?!”
Wife *puts on sunglasses*: “C-C-C-COMBO BREAKER!”

Wikipedia Wednesday #1: John Loosemore's huge organ

If I keep introducing new stuff this week, I'm going to have one wicked combo chain. The idea behind Wikipedia Wednesday is that I click "Random article" on Wikipedia's main page and post the opening paragraph or whatever comes up, along with any commentary I have on it. Well, sorta. I had to cheat/tweak it because everything that came up the first, second, and third time was either too short (not even a paragraph) or outside of my purview. I don't know enough about Indian cinema or Imams to comfortably talk about either, so I reserve the right to keep clicking until something comes up. In the future, I might restrict it to three or four clicks, then work with whatever I end up on. Anyways, here's what I finally got:
John Loosemore (August 1616 – April 18, 1681) was an English builder of pipe organs. He is best known for his organ at Exeter Cathedral in Devon, which he completed in 1665.

John Loosemore was born in Barnstaple where he was baptized on August 25, 1616. His father was also a builder and repairer of organs, and passed on the trade to his son John, who moved to Exeter sometime before 1645. The other two sons of the family, Henry and George, also had a connection with organ music as they were eventually appointed organists at King's College, Cambridge and Trinity College, Cambridge, respectively, probably under the patronage of Dudley North, 4th Baron North.

During the rule of the Puritans in Exeter from 1646-1660, church music was frowned upon. Many church organs, including the previous instrument in Exeter Cathedral, were vandalized or destroyed during the English Civil War. During this period, Loosemore was employed primarily in repairing organs and building other keyboard instruments for private ownership. One of his virginals dated 1655 has been preserved in the Victoria and Albert Museum.
Alright, so he made pipe organs during the English Civil War and when the Oliver Cromwell and his lot ruled England. Interesting time period and the Puritans' disapprobation to church music and his livelihood undoubtedly added a lot of drama and potential danger to his life. The article has a picture of the organ he built for the Exeter Cathedral, so let's check that out.

By Karl Gruber (Own work, present version Wikimedia Commons)
[CC BY 3.0 at], via Wikimedia Commons
Okay, that is very, very, very impressive. That is so fucking cool looking, damn. It looks like something that ought to be in a gothic novel or in either Warhammer Fantasy or Warhammer 40k. Amazing.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Off Topic Tuesday #1: Why I don't want the next President to be a Clinton, Trump, or Cruz

I might have to call this week "Inaugural Week" because of all the new stuff I'm starting! So yeah, welcome to the very first edition of Off Topic Tuesday, which will hopefully be a long series. The idea behind Off Topic Tuesdays is that once a week, I pick a topic that's off topic to this blog and talk about it. It might be politics, current events, or whatever else that isn't related to geek or nerddom. The opinions therein might be unpopular, but when is an opinion ever unanimously popular?

Starting us off this week is something that's been bouncing around my head for a couple weeks now. 2016 is probably one of the biggest presidential election years, with three Democrats and more than nine thousand Republicans running for the high office.

That's a lot of assholes.

Out of all of them, the three candidates I absolutely do not want to be president are Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, and Ted Cruz. Why? Because they clearly only want to win for the sake of winning. They see the Presidency of the United States as nothing more than one of those hard to get achievements that gamers will try to unlock just for the bragging rights. Let me break it down by person:

Clinton: She wants to be the first woman president, period, end of sentence, full stop. For her, the Oval Office is the cherry on the cake, the one indelible way that she'll make her place in the history books as someone besides a First Lady, a Senator, or a Secretary of State. It's dumb too because those three things together will make her stand out because those three positions have never been held by one person before.

I'm also opposed to her because she is the worst type of politician - the kind that shifts and changes their positions to whatever will benefit them. Now, she isn't by far the first or only politician who changes their stripes to suit their needs, but she's probably one of the most blatant. Take her stance on same-sex marriage, for example. She was opposed to it up until it became obvious that it was going to become legal, then she was all about it and tried to act like she always was.

Finally, I don't like the aura of inevitability that surrounds her. It's almost like Clinton and her supporters have this expectation that she's going to win just because she's Hillary Clinton and the presidency is owed to her because of that. I think that's why so few Democrats ran in the primary compared to prior races and why Lincoln Chaffee and Jim Webb dropped out so quickly. That's also why Bernie Sanders' campaign has been so hugely successful, because he isn't part of the Clinton Ascendancy.

Trump: Simply put, he's in it for business reasons. Having "Former President of the United States of America" on his resume would add a lot of prestige and give him additional leverage when making TV and other business deals. I'm sure people figure that all the crap coming out of his mouth is ruining his business opportunities and I'm sure in the short-term they might, but not in the long view of things. He'll end up getting his hosting gig on The Apprentice back once all of his vitriolic comments fade to the background. NBC isn't going to turn down the ratings his return would generate. Then there's all the endorsement deals and the cash he'll make on the speaking circuit. Trump's covered in shit now, but he's going to come out clean as a whistle and richer than he was before.

Cruz: First off, I love how a guy who was born in Canada to American parents is eligible to run for president, but a guy who was born in Hawaii to an American citizen (Obama) "isn't". But no, him being born in Canada isn't my issue with him. Personally, I think the whole "has to be born on American soil" in order to run for president is dumb as dicks and discriminates against a whole chunk of the citizenry.

But like I said, that's not why I don't want Ted Cruz as president. My reason is because he's A). A massive asshole, and B). Has dedicated his life to the singular goal of becoming president. With the former, it's his actions as a Senator. Remember when the Federal government had to shutdown back in 2013? Ted Cruz was responsible for that. Even other Republicans think he's an asshole. In regards to the latter, I'm not spiting him for having ambition. How many of us didn't dream of or imagine being President of the United States when we were young? Wanting to be president isn't the problem, it's the fact that he's laser-focused his life just for that goal. The thought that every decision Ted Cruz has made in his life from the moment he decided that he wanted to be be president has been towards achieving that goal is disturbing to me. Why? Because you can only serve two terms as president and Cruz has dedicated his life for potentially eight years in the Oval Office.

Think about this for a moment. What is this Ted Cruz going to do once those eight years are over? That's even saying that he manages to get elected not once, but twice. What's he going to do if he only gets elected once? What if he doesn't get elected at all? In the end, I think what I feel for Cruz isn't loathing or even disdain, it's pity. Pity because no matter the outcome, he's going to look back on his life one day and realize he squandered it achieving or trying to achieve something that wasn't worth it and that's just so very sad.

In the end, Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, and Ted Cruz fail the realize that being President of the United States of America isn't about the achievement or the prestige. It's about working and striving to make the country a better place than it was before so that current and future generations have something to enjoy and build upon. I'm not and Nerd Trash never will endorse a presidential candidate, but I really and truly hope that we end up with someone who doesn't see the presidency as a trophy and will work hard to make this country a better place for us all, because Zod knows we need someone like that badly.

So, what do you think? Do you agree or disagree? Tell me in the comments below and please, keep things civil.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Iron Monday: The Mark I, where it all started.

Hello and welcome to the inaugural Iron Mondays! So the idea here is that every Monday, I'll post something about the World's Greatest Self-Absorbed Asshole, Iron Man. It might be a pic spam of one of his armors, panels from one of his comics and whatever else I think is worth posting. I decided to start us off with the original Iron Man armor, the venerable Mark I, first seen in Tales of Suspense #39.

Thanks to the movies, everybody knows the gist of IM's origin story, so we'll skip that for now. The Mk. I is one of my favorite armors because I love that it was constructed out of scrap metal and whatever Tony Stark and Ho Yinsen had on hand. It's the ultimate MacGyver. It was pretty basic, compared to the armors that Tony would build since his debut. It had no repulsors (although a Mark "0" version he built later on did), but did possess a chest-mounted monobeam. I actually love how these two nerds not only built a suit of powered armor, but also somehow built a fricking proton-beam laser weapon. They also managed to scrounge up suction cups (and yes, Tony does use them), and a miniature hacksaw that could be mounted on a finger. Like, where did Wong-Chu, the commie warlord who captured Tony and Yinsen and forced them to make weapons for him, even get this stuff and why?

"May as well buy these big ass suction cups, never know when they'll come in handy."

"Oh, a tiny hacksaw? Sure, why not."

What's actually fascinating to me about the Mk. I is the guts of it. According to the Marvel Comics Wiki:
The suit's shell is made of threads of mono-crystalline iron coated with tetrafluoroethene plastic, knitted together using a 3D mechanical loom. Integrated circuits called "micro-modules" were created from sheets of silicon using an e-beam writer, this circuitry that placed 200 transistors in a square inch with wiring and associated components could be used both as a switch and amplifier. This allowed the creation of tiny power amplifiers that could generate the amounts of electricity needed for the DC motors that provided the suit with mobility. Each small motor generated around a horsepower of power. The use of pure iron protected with tetrafluoroethene allowed a 200-inch per second speed. A gauntlet alone, for example, required a dozen of motors. The circuits of the armor are coordinated with its user's brain waves, which allow for the suit to duplicate every action of the human body, the system is not perfect and it requires some time to get used to it. It also employed a negative feedback body motion sensing.
I really dig the thought that went into that. Granted, this is comic book science, so I have no idea how legit any of that is.

At the same time, one of the problems that nags me about the Mk. I is how neat and trim it is for something made of scrap and junk. I think that's why the movie version of the armor is a favorite as well. It looks likes it's been cobbled together, which adds a good deal of realism to Tony's origin story. It displays both the desperation of Stark and Yinsen to escape captivity as well as their ingenuity at producing a suit of powered armor out of whatever was at hand.

Going back to the original armor, the other thing I dig about it how it projects power. It's not as pretty or elegant as the later Iron Man armors, but it still exudes power and strength, and gives you the impression that it could tear through its successors like Kleenex. There's also an air of mystery since you can't really tell right off the bat that it's powered armor and not a robot. Given the name Iron Man, it wouldn't be surprising if that wasn't the first assumption of the general public in the Marvel Comics Universe when he made his public debut.

The armor he wore once he got back to the states wasn't the same that he wore to escape Wong-Chu and his goons. He built a new version that largely looked the same, but I imagine was made out of top of the line parts and materials. I often wondered about that, because the idea of him still using the original was pretty ludicrous, given his wealth and genius.

So, what do you think of the Iron Man Mk. I armor? Like it? Hate? Let me know in the comments below.

Picture credits: Iron Man Wiki and Marvel Wiki. The last picture came from the Iron Man Wiki, but I cropped it to take up less space in the post.

I wouldn't be surprised if such a suit existed

Credit: PvP.
I don't know which is more ridiculous, the sound or the wi-fi radiation protection. I think it's safe to assume that she's probably an anti-vaxxer too.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Scrubs will always get you right in the feels

Well at least I can finally catch up on Supergirl

Add this to the world of oddities, but trying to watch Supergirl or any TV show on a network's website was a real pain in the ass. For whatever reason, the video players ran like molasses on a cold winter's day, regardless of the browser used. I thought it was just Firefox, but videos on NBC and CBS's websites only ran slightly better on Chrome. YouTube ran fine on either. For the most part. As long as I don't try and full screen the videos, but that's a separate thing. Anyways, I finally tried the CBS app from the Microsoft Store and the videos run perfectly in that. No clue why the video player runs like shit on, but runs fine in the app. Just one of those things, I guess.

But hey, like the title says, I can finally catch up on Supergirl. I got behind because I missed the pilot and got too busy in real life to watch it online and things naturally spiraled from there. Same thing happened with Blindspot and more shows than I care to count. Unfortunately, NBC's app is on the MS Store and Google's won't let me download it to my phone or tablet because they're "not compatible" with the app.

Coming soon, not unlike an over-excited teenager

Howdy all, just thought I'd give a heads up on some new features I plan on introducing to the blog in the coming weeks.

Off Topic Tuesdays: I'm going to quote TV Tropes and say that this is exactly what it says on the tin. Every Tuesday I'll post about a topic that lays outside the purview of Nerd Trash. It might be politics, current events, fashion, or some such. I might even get personal. I'm planning on creating a graphic for it (because I have l33t MS Paint skillz).

Wikipedia Wednesdays: I go on Wikipedia and hit the "Random Article" button and post the link, the opening paragraph, and my own thoughts on whatever comes up.

She-Hulk ____: I'm basing this solely on the fact that some previous She-Hulk posts have attracted a decent number (for me) of hits. I haven't yet decided what day of the week this will fall on, but I'm leaning towards Thursday.

Shout-Out Friday: I am the master of self-explanatory titles. Shout-Out Friday is something I'm iffy about, but it piqued my interest when it came to mind. The idea would be once a week, I'd give someone's blog a shout-out.

Finally, I'm mulling over something for Mondays called "Ironmania" wherein I post a picture(s) of Iron Man, along with commentary. It'll probably be just pictures of his different armors since his inception, along with some of his more wackier moments (dat nose, doe), and more. I guess Iron Mondays would be a better title, eh?

The overall idea is to help keep me motivated to post every week and to actually give me something to post rather than struggling to scrap something together. There will still be posts not related to these features, so it's not like I'm going to only post a thing a day. Usually. Like Off Topic Tuesdays, I might try and cobble together graphics for each feature, but don't expect BMWs when you're going to get Edsels.

So when will all this start? Sometime in the next couple of weeks. I want to build up a stockpile of posts before I roll anything out. I'm also going to be just too busy this week with real life stuff to launch any of this right now.

Thoughts? Suggestions?

Monday, January 18, 2016

A shadowy flight into the dangerous world of a man who does not exist

I swear classic TV shows have way better intros than shows nowadays. The problem is that networks don't want any intros over a few seconds and ignore the fact that longer ones can be beneficial because they can give new viewers a basic idea of what the show is about. But no, instead we get two seconds of graphics and a blip of music for a theme song.

Alan Rickman, this is Alan Rickman

One of the few jokes from Family Guy that I always liked.

That would be the biggest trade in all of history

I've been seeing this ad pop up on other blogs and sites and finally capped and cropped it a few weeks ago with the intention of mocking it on here and promptly forgot about it. Big surprise. Well fortunately, Cal saw the same ad and did remember to post it. So now I'm finally posting mine. Thanks, Cal!

All that aside, let's get down to mocking this hot mess. The most blatant bit is that it's supposed to be a "Marvel" shirt, but is obvious not Marvel at all. Oh, I'm sure that Marvel and Disney would love to get their hands on the Superman cashcow, but it'll never happen. Even if Disney could buy DC Comics, I doubt the Federal Trade Commission or the DoJ would sign off on a single corporation owning the two biggest comic book companies in America and probably the entire world. It would give Disney a virtual monopoly and would be unfair to the rest of the industry. I'd imagine that that's the reason why Warner Bros never swooped in and bought Marvel. The only other way Marvel/Disney could ever get their hands on Superman would be a trade, but I don't think they would be too keen on losing their entire A-list roster and the MCU as a result.

The peculiarity does raise the question of why a Superman shirt was used in what was clearly supposed to be an ad for a Marvel-branded shirt. Like, did the person who put it together just not know? But how? Superman is one of the most famous, if not THE most famous pop culture icon and I'd have imagined that just about everybody knew he flew the DC banner. Does their ad person live a boring life bereft of interaction with popular culture? I mean, it could be something as simple as them just choosing a picture of one of their shirts at random and slapping it into the ad without a second thought.

The other thing I want to mock is the shirt itself because I haaaate the Man of Steel Superman costume. What is it with movie costumes and the "need" for fake muscles? And what was wrong with the yellow belt and red tights? Christ alive, Superman's costume is supposed to be icon as dicks, not generic gritty. Also? STOP TRYING TO MAKE SUPERMAN FUCKING GRIM AND GRITTY BECAUSE IT WILL NEVER WORK.

*deep breath* But I'll save that rant for another day.

Finally, thirteen bucks for a t-shirt? I can grok a long sleeve costing a bit more than a regular tee, but thirteen bucks? No thanks.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Moving on from The Magicians

No, I didn't finish it, but rather moving on to something else. I realized last week that while I could read the words and turn the pages, I didn't really have much desire to. It's not from having read too much fantasy fiction, because I finished the re-read of Storm Front (the Dresden Files, Jim Butcher) I started last year instead. I'm going to set The Magicians aside and revisit the book later and see if time changes my mind about it or whether I should just box it for Goodwill.

So what am I reading now?

Kris Longknife is a daughter of privilege, born to money and power. Her father is the prime minister of her home planet, her mother the consummate politician's wife. She's been raised only to be beautiful and marry well. But the heritage of the military Longknifes courses through Kris' blood - and, against her parents' objections, she enlists in the Marines.

She has a lot to live up to and a lot to prove in the long-running struggle among her powerful family, a highly defensive - and offensive - Earth, and the hundreds of warring colonies. Then an ill-conceived attack brings the war close to home, putting Kris' life on the line. Now she has only one choice: certain death on the front lines of rim space - or mutiny.
It's pretty good so far. Not blowing my socks off, but not bad for the first book in a series. I'm already planning on buying the second (Deserter) and maybe the third (Defiant) books this summer.

You'll be missed, Alan Rickman

(via Wikipedia)
Found out about his death this morning and boy, did that ever take the wind out of my sails. I'm not a Potterhead, but I know how big of a deal he was to that fandom and I feel for them with all my heart. Die Hard was the first movie that I ever saw him in and Hans Gruber is still one of my favorite movie villains and just plain one of the coolest ever. Love, Actually is another favorite because it was the first one I watched where he wasn't the villain. He was just a husband who found himself walking the line between fidelity and infidelity without ever crossing it. Watching his character struggle with temptation made me realize just how talented Rickman was. We definitely lost one of the greats and we're all the lesser for it.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Hanna-Barbera had some good superheroes

Credit goes to Cal for posting these on his blog first. I really wanted to know who created these awesome pictures and did some snooping and found the source, an artist named Salvador Anguiano. I loved watching these Hanna-Barbera cartoons when I was a kid and back when Cartoon Network and other channels still aired them. The art and animation was of a better quality than a lot of newer cartoons at the time and while the plots weren't typically complex, they were compelling enough to hold my attention and fuel my imagination.

 I always dug the Galaxy Trio and I really feel like they deserve a reboot either as a cartoon or a comic.

 Harvey Birdman was a great show, but I hate that it's completely overshadowed the original Birdman cartoon, which was an outstanding show.
 I wonder who would win in a fight, Mightor or Thor?
 Can I just say that it sucks that Blue Falcon was overshadowed by Dyno-Mutt? The latter was a great comic relief, but BF was completely under-utilized and ignored.

Much like Birdman, Space Ghost has been overshadowed by the Coast-to-Coast incarnation of the character. I would look to see a reboot of the original, with a focus on his origins. Some comic book company did a mini-series a long time ago with that premise and it was okay, but felt too rushed and compressed.

Really, I would love to see all of these characters get a second chance at life, along with other characters like The Herculoids and Thundarr the Barbarian. Maybe we could get some movies and a Hanna-Barbera Cinematic Universe.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. getting that spinoff after all

Back in April of last year it looked like a spin-off of AoS was on the horizon, but by May the spin-off was deep-sixed because the brass didn't want to deprive the show of two of its most popular characters, Bobbi Morse and Lance Hunter. Well now the prospective new show is back, according to Deadline. It makes sense to do it now than it did when AoS was only in its second season. Bobbi and Lance were both boons to the show and now that its more stable in the ratings, the time might be right for the franchise to spread its wings with a spin-off.

Having said that, I'm not feeling the name: Marvel's Most Wanted. Is John Walsh involved? Are we going to get poorly acted reenactments? Of course, the 'Marvel's' part of the name is going to be dropped by the fandom, like it is with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. Most Wanted sounds better on its own anyways.

Long live the Goblin King

2016 is apparently making a play to be a bigger asshole than 2015. I was going to embed one of David Bowie's classics, but I'm opting instead for one of his songs from his final album, Black Star. Here's "Lazarus".

I'm going to refrain from saying "RIP" because David Bowie will never truly be dead so long as his music is still playing.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Happy birthday, Roy Batty

In Blade Runner, January 8, 2016 was the birthday of Roy Batty, the "antagonist" of the movie, who was played so superbly by Rutger Hauer.
I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate. All those moments will be lost in time... like tears in rain... Time to die.
It never ceases to amaze me how such a simple monologue can be so profound and haunting because this is exactly the fate for all of us. When we inevitably die, our memories, life experiences, everything that made us who we were disappears. Our experiences and perspective will be gone. Records can be lost, stories can change over time, and as the people who knew us die, so do those last connections between us and the world. In the end, we're all Roy Batty.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Finished: Stardust by Neil Gaiman. Next Up: The Magicians by Lev Grossman

I finished up with Stardust yesterday, a day later than I wanted to. Monday was pretty much a wash to get any reading done. So how was it? Magical, great, and just so much fun to read. There were no dead spots that I had to slog through like books sometimes have. It and the 2007 movie based on it are as different as night and day. Whereas the movie is more of a regular fantasy film, the book is much more like a fairy tale. I'm not dumping on the Stardust movie, because it's really quite good, but at the same time, I think the book edges it out.

Anyways, as the title of this post says, the next book on my reading list is Lev Grossman's The Magicians.

One of the reasons why I chose this is because Syfy's TV adaption is set to premiere this month and I want to read the book before hand. That's not the sole or even primary reason, however. I've had this book for several years now (either a Goodwill or library book sale find), which in of itself is reason enough, but also I've heard nothing but good things about The Magicians, so it's worth checking out at least.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Benedict Cumberbatch is Strange

Credit: Entertainment Weekly.
Honestly, never imagined that there would ever be a live-action Doctor Strange movie. This, combined with Ant-Man is really giving me hope that other less well known superheroes will make it to the big screen too. Come on, Disney, give the world the Phone Ranger movie it so badly wants!

Ben Matlock and Jessica Fletcher: World's Greatest Detectives

"Oh, you think the guy with the squeaky
clean record committed this double homicide?
I'll be right over to show all the ways you're wrong."
(via Back of the Cereal Box)
What I always liked about Matlock and Murder, She Wrote is the fact that you have these two senior citizens outperforming the cops when it comes to solving murders. Like, the detectives will arrest somebody for the murder and somehow completely overlook all of these clues that not only is that person innocent, but that this other person clearly did it. It's almost as if the cops in these shows just want to close the case as quickly as possible and nab the first guy they see. And what makes it hilarious is then you have someone like Jessica Fletcher would come along and with next to zero help or resources, would clear the accused AND set up an ambush to trick the real killer into confessing. She makes the detectives investigating the crime look like absolute morons. With Ben Matlock, it's equally as funny because he doesn't just tear the entire case against his client apart, but gets the real murderer on the stand and uses evidence he's collected by using like private investigator and his own time to prove their guilt.

Cops: "We arrested this guy because he got into an argument with the victim over a parking space and was seen in a one mile radius of the crime scene."
Matlock or Fletcher: "Okay, but this evidence I just found at the crime scene shows that he didn't he do it. Plus, my own investigation shows that this shifty-looking person had the means, motive, and opportunity to commit the murder."
Murderer: [sweats]
Cops: "Bah, you're just an old person! We've got more than enough to convict the first guy."
Murderer: "Whew."
Matlock/Fletcher: "You really want to do it this way?" *sighs* "Fine."
Murderer: [Sweating intensifies]
Matlock/Fletcher: [proceeds to make the cops look like total idiots while solving the murder and getting a confession]
Cops: "Wow, we are just terrible at this."
Now of course, none of this was original to either show. Perry Mason was doing it probably before Andy Griffith was a sheriff and Miss Marple when Angela Lansbury was still in high school. The thing is, Mason wasn't an old man when he was practicing law back then and I don't think Miss Marple did as much traveling as Jessica Fletcher. The latter would go to New York City and single-handedly make the entire NYPD look like a bunch of klutzes.
His hunger for Ball Park Franks was matched only by
his hunger for justice.
(via The Great Detectives of Old Time Radio)

There are other characters like this too, such as Father Dowling. That dude was a frickin' priest who solved crimes, I think because he read a ton of mystery novels and that somehow made him a better detective than the police but Matlock and Murder, She Wrote two of the most famous examples on television. I can't imagine any of these people were popular with whatever police department had to deal with them. Then again, if I was a detective assigned to investigate a murder and Jessica Fletcher or somebody showed up, I would just hand the case to them to solve. It would just be faster, easier, and less embarrassing that way.

Listening to people talking about editing videos is kind of interesting (NSFW)

I was watching the third episode of Off Topic, the new Achievement Hunter podcast and about an hour and five minutes in (1 hour, 5 minutes, and 39 seconds), Michael, Gavin, Lindsay, and Trevor start talking about their experiences editing the let's plays AH makes like Minecraft and GTA and how difficult it was in the beginning because of how things were set up. I thought it was an interesting peek into what goes into editing those videos.

The NSFW warning is for language because it's Achievement Hunter, after all.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Books read in 2015 and 2016 reading plans

2015 was quite a fruitful year for me in terms of reading. I'm not entirely sure how, but I managed to read twelve books and several short stories, with the twelfth tome finished the last day of the year. Hit the jump to see the dirty dozen (click to embiggen any of them).

Six fantasy, four science fiction, a thriller, and whatever Never Let Me Go is. I've seen it referred to as science fiction and quasi-science fiction. This Is Not A Game was in the scifi/fantasy section at the local library, but isn't science fiction. I think only it's shelved there because the other books in the Dagmar Shaw series are science fiction. As for the short stories, those include four Bernard Malamuds, two Kurt Vonneguts, and one Alice Munro. I would recommend reading any and all of these books because they're pretty great.

And what of this year? I decided to set the goal of 15 books, since it's only three more than last year and I'd rather not go overboard.

What did I say about going overboard? Yeesh! So yeah, I started going through my own library to create a reading list and well things clearly got out of hand. It's 50 books total, but I unintentionally knocked it down to 49 after reading Never Let Me Go. As you can see, three of them are from the local lib, so their inclusion depends on their future availability. The copy of The Sword of Shannara unfortunately is falling apart, so I've got to buy a copy of my own in the mean time.

Now obviously there's no way I'm going to conquer 49 books, so while my goal is set at 15, I'll actually be trying to read as many of these as I can, with the remainder forming the 2017 reading pile. My strategy is to focus on the smaller books and clear them out of the way being tackling the door stoppers.

First book of the year is Neil Gaiman's Stardust. I think I've had this thing for close to a decade and just never got around to reading it. Well, that's going to change. I have a number of his books and I plan on reading as many of them as I can this year.

So, see any books in this post that you like or that you've read? Tell me in the comments!

January Icon of the Month: Elizabeth Henstridge

Like I mentioned in a previous post, one of the things I planned to do in this new year was to add a person of the month feature. I haven't settled on a name for it yet, but Nerd Trash Icon of the Month will do until then. In any case, the inaugural Icon of the Month is Elizabeth Henstridge, who of course plays Jemma Simmons on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. I chose her because her portrayal of Simmons has since the beginning of the show been standout, especially the episodes where she's front and center. The season three episode (4,722 Hours) detailing what she went through while trapped on that alien planet was one of the best of the entire show. While Simmons hasn't taken 10 levels in badass like Daisy has, she's clearly shown that she isn't adverse to kicking some ass when it's needed. Hell she took Bobbi down easily enough last season.