Hippogriff's Aerie

Apparitions of Imagination

Arrow: “Trust but Verify” (Season 1 Episode 11)

arrow-tv

Broadcast date:  Wednesday, Jan. 23rd, 2013

This episode is all about trust. Who trusts unconditionally; who doesn’t trust anyone; who trusts only what they can see. With a common element running through all the stories, it is a very tight, solid episode. A series of armored car hits leads to an old military buddy of Diggs named Gaynor. While Gaynor’s name shows up on “the list”, Diggs doesn’t believe it. This leads to trust issues between Diggs and Oliver. At the same time, Thea distrusts her mother, and Oliver confronts Moira about her perceived infidelity. Moira distrusts Malcolm and asks for proof that Robert is alive. Malcolm and Tommy have dinner and a showdown in which Tommy expresses his distrust of his father. And finally there’s the shocker – a flashback to Oliver on the island, betrayed by his ally.

Gaynor’s innocence or guilt is in question all the way to the conclusion. And Thea flips out, taking a drug, wrecking her car, and getting arrested. Her character so far is really annoying, but this has set up a big confrontation for the next show. It should be a good one! This episode is well done, with a common thematic element and good entertainment value, setting up intrigue for next week…

January 29, 2013 Posted by | tv shows | | Leave a comment

Face Off: Heroic Proportions (Season 4 Episode 2)

Broadcast date:  Tuesday, Jan. 22nd, 2013

No Foundation Challenge this week, straight to the Spotlight Challenge. The contestants are whisked away to Comic Con in San Diego, where they are tasked to create an original superhero. Anthony continues to show some amazing talent despite having a major prop malfunction. Aside from Anthony and Eric, all the other entries were awful. I hope they get better, otherwise this will be a tough season to watch. They really could have used some mentoring from Michael Westmore. These were my favorite looks:

infernal core

dick gritty

 

This was the worst of the worst:

elijah

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Look for “The Molten Core” to appear in an upcoming DC Comics issue in the future…

January 28, 2013 Posted by | tv shows, Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

Castle: “Death Gone Crazy” (Season 5, Episode 12)

castleBroadcast date: Monday, Jan. 21st, 2013

This was a very enjoyable episode of Castle. The founder of a “Girls Gone Wild” type of show turns up murdered. At first glance, this guy is painted as a despicable human being with no morals, but as the story unfolds, he turns about to be a man with no family who is searching for something more in his life. The irony is that when he finds that “something more”, he ends up dead. It makes the victim into a complex character, rather than just good or evil, moral or immoral. Esposito was once again excellent – he has really evolved to become my favorite character – as he tries to put the moves on one of the suspects, a bodyguard/spy played by the lovely Kelly Hu. The banter between characters is in top form. Take this sequence:

Esposito: “Oh, did you hear that? She broke his nose!”

Ryan: “Yeah, so?”

Esposito: “So, that’s hot!”

Ryan: “Who are you???”

Or this one:

Esposito: “Who spends $200-300 on a bra?”

Lanie: “Right, like a guy doesn’t spend that much on tennis shoes.”

Esposito: “Yeah, but tennis shoes are useful, and, uh…umm…”

Castle, looking at Esposito with concern: “Eject!”

Although the murderer was easy to predict, to me it didn’t make the story any less compelling, as I really wanted to know what had changed the victim’s life.

An unrelated side story involves Castle worried about his daughter putting to much information up on her blog. In this day, with cyber-stalkers and creeps, that’s an absolutely valid concern. Are we putting too much information out there for people to see? Information that’s out there forever?  His daughter is testing the boundaries of her freedom, as most young people do. Near the end, Castle and Alexis make an uneasy peace, and there’s a great moment at the end where Castle is speaking about a hate-monger who would do anything for his daughter. The implication is that Castle would do the same for Alexis, and it draws a smile from Beckett; I believe that one of things that Beckett admires Castle for is that despite his goofiness and playboy-like lifestyle, he always feels the weight of the responsibility that comes with raising a teenage daughter.

Not the best episode, but not bad, with some funny moments from Esposito…

January 28, 2013 Posted by | tv shows | | Leave a comment

My Collections

I’m not sure what it is about the human condition that compels someone to collect things. Maybe it’s a need to connect to the past; maybe it’s for aesthetics or an outward display of personality; it might even be the need to fulfill childhood desires that were never realized. It could also simply be showing an interest in something appealing. Most likely however, it’s a combination of one or more of these reasons. Although I collect many things, I don’t consider myself a hoarder – hoarding is the excessive acquisition of items and the failure to use or discard the items. I just have a lot of interests, so finding space for things can be a challenge. These are the types of things I collect:

glass-float-beach

 

Glass floats and nautical-themed items. When I was a teenager, my great grandfather was killed in an accident. When it came time to settle his estate, the relatives all bickered over who should get what, since there was no will. Despondent at the loss of my great grandfather and the bickering, I sat on the curb in front of the house, unsure of why I had come. My grandfather brought out a box. “These are things nobody wants,” he said. “Why don’t you look through it and see if there’s anything you’d like.” I did, and found some nice Japanese glass floats in macrame hangers that my great grandmother had made. Though those floats were destroyed by my brothers when I later went off to the military, to this day glass floats and other nautical items remind me of my great grandfather, as well as speaking to the Pisces within me. Living only a couple of hours from the Pacific Ocean gives me lots of opportunities to acquire these…some are the size of a silver dollar, while I have some that are over a foot in diameter.

IMG_0734

 

The second thing I began collecting was Snoopy/Peanuts items. After I had left the military, my friend Kelly encouraged me to find collect something I liked, and I had like Peanuts as a kid. Before there was eBay, the only way to really find stuff was in Goodwill or yard sales. I began buying up lots of Peanuts gear over the years, but have since scaled back the collection…I now only buy a few statues and figurines a year. Last year I took 4 boxes of stuff to Goodwill to thin out the collection.

 

IMG_0650

 

Beer Tap Handles (also called tap markers or pulls). Many tap handles are plain, made of wood or resin with a label. At a garage sale one day, I picked up a Coors Beer Wolf tap handle, and a collection was born. I try to focus on figural taps, although I have bought a few just for the label. Sometimes I buy group purchases of tap handles, and I have no problem getting rid of ones that don’t suit my tastes. I have a tap handle blog, where I take pictures of each tap and provide some history about the brewery, as well as eBay price info. You can find that blog at www.beertaps.blogspot.com.

 

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

Old radios. I admit I’m a sucker for old radios, with their glowing faces, glowing tubes, and gorgeous art deco mahogany or cherry cabinets. I’ll also throw Victrola and Edison cabinets in the category as well. If they need a little bit of work, that’s okay, I enjoy that too. One of my Victrola cabinets is from my grandmother, and one of my radios is from my dad, which gives them sentimental value.

 

 

voice-of-the-mummy

 

Board Games. I like them, all kinds – from classic games with a themed twist – like Star Wars Life – to cthulu-based horror games like Arkham Horror – to obscure and rare games like Voice of the Mummy (it talks!). I don’t know why I’m so fascinated with them, more so than card games or video games…I just am.

 

 

IMG_0731

 

Fantasy-based Statues. These range from Lord of the Rings and Narnia pieces produced by Weta, to Magic the Gathering statues by Randy Bowen, to Disney-produced Indiana Jones items (based on the Temple of the Forbidden Eye in Disneyland), to Red Sonja. I find that surrounding myself with these items provides mood and theme when I’m writing.

 

 

IMG_0741

 

 

Steampunk. I love Steampunk gadgets and devices, and I’m building a Steampunk time machine. I have only a few Steampunk pieces so far – a 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea waterglobe from Disney, as well as some brass navigational pieces.

 

 

That gives you glimpse into my various collections. Sometime later this year I’ll post more extensive pictures of the collection…

January 26, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Puppies!

Who doesn’t like pictures of puppies, right?

As I mentioned in a previous post, I obtained 2 Australian Shepherd puppies back in November. Kodiak is a black tri-color male and was 4 months old; Little Bear is a red bi-color male and was 2 months old. They are now both a couple months older and a great addition to our “pack”. Here’s some photos of the boys:

IMG_0667IMG_0673IMG_0675

January 26, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Following: Pilot (Season 1 Episode 1)

the-following-14Broadcast Date: Monday, Jan. 21st, 2013

With a lack of quality new shows released for the 2012-2013 season, I thought I would give Fox’s new show, The Following, a try. Here’s the blurb on the new series:

“Infamous serial killer Joe Caroll has escaped from prison and Ryan Hardy, the FBI agent who had him arrested, is called in to help the police try and find him. But Ryan soon learns that Caroll has made himself a number of followers over the internet as part of a huge game he has planned for Ryan.”

This series shows some early promise, and also some potential problems. Much will depend on how much the writing can be tightened up. The acting is top notch, but the plot has a few holes in it. While it’s certainly plausible that a charismatic psycho could develop a cult-like following over the internet, it’s annoying to think his minions are waiting around for years, leading fake lives, just to do his bidding when he escapes from prison, and that no one was monitoring his activity on the internet in the library. Though I don’t mind the use of Edgar Allen Poe as inspiration for the serial killer, I’ll need to see more than just a few well-known quotes. And in frustrating fashion, the FBI is consistently two steps behind Caroll for the whole show. Why does Hardy need to go to Caroll’s ex-wife for answers? Didn’t he catch the killer once before? Didn’t he even write a freaking book on Caroll? Is this the way it’s going to be each week? Because I’ll instantly tune this show out and move on to something else. As I’ve stated before, I like smartly written shows, but I’m not going to like serial killer drones getting the drop on bumbling FBI detectives every episode. Criminal Minds already handles the serial killer slant well enough that I don’t need the frustration this show promises, so it will need to get better fast. Ill give it a couple more tries to impress…

Also, I immediately recognized the always-gorgeous Maggie Grace (Lost) as Sarah Fuller, Caroll’s only surviving victim from his first spree of murders…

January 24, 2013 Posted by | tv shows | | Leave a comment

Revenge: “Collusion” (Season 2 Episode 12)

emily-vancamp-revenge-season-2Broadcast Date: Sunday, Jan. 20th, 2013

This episode is a positive step forward, as the show felt like it was beginning to spin its wheels a little bit. Emily and Daniel jet off to California to seal a business deal, while Victoria makes a play to oppose Daniel, and Aidan also arrives in L.A. on a mission from the Initiative. Meanwhile, Nolan discovers Padma’s secret agenda. And while Conrad appears to step in and save the Stowaway by buying out the Ryan brothers, it seems the brothers aren’t done yet. The explosive ending involves Emily and Aidan’s relationship coming to a head.

There are several things to like about this episode: Emily’s conflicted emotions between Aidan and Daniel; Nolan turning the tables on Padma; and Emily saving Victoria’s life (without Victoria knowing) then smirking at Victoria’s inability to control her son. Also, the Initiative’s master plan is revealed for the first time, and the implications are frightening. It feels like the plot is starting to accelerate; unfortunately, there won’t be any new episodes until mid-February, killing a little of the momentum the show is starting to build. Still, this is a very watchable episode.

January 24, 2013 Posted by | tv shows | | Leave a comment

Lost Girl: “Subterrfaenean” (Season 3 Episode 2)

Lost-Girl-Cast-lost-girl-28058794-720-493Broadcast date: Sunday, Jan. 13th, 2013

There’s a lot going on in this episode. We are introduced to Dyson’s new partner, Tamsin (Rachel Skarsten), who is an unlikeable Dark Fae character and potential new love interest for Dyson. Ted Atherton is awesome as police chief Robert Hamelin, and Jordan Pettle is also great as Atticus, a crocodile-like fae living in the sewers. When Kenzi’s friend Aussie disappears during an underground event, she gets Bo to take up looking for him. After a curious encounter with Atticus, who reveals that the underground fae are suffering from an unknown disease, Bo is interrogated in the police station by Tamsin over the dark fae she drained and left in a coma at the end of the previous episode. Tamsin and Bo immediately get confrontational as Tamsin suspects Bo and Dyson of having a history together. When an extermination order is given by the Ash, Dyson confronts Hale only to find out he ordered relocation, not extermination. Dyson hits the underground to find that Bo and Kenzi are already there. I won’t spoil the episode except to say that the police chief plays a crucial role in events, and his last name gives his identity away if you know your fairy tales.

The best parts of the episode are Bo escaping the police station not once, but twice, by charming a cop (“she’s still pretty!”); also Tamsin dumping a pot of coffee on Dyson’s desk. It’s not as funny as last week, and actually kind of a creepy episode. In a good way, though…

The fun quote of the week comes from Vex, while sitting in Bo’s Kimono with fuzzy slippers on:

Bo: Know this…if you go near my girlfriend, the little balls hanging from the Christmas tree next to you will have a certain panache.
Vex: Hook up illegal cable and what do I get? Threats against my junk. Typical.

January 24, 2013 Posted by | tv shows | | Leave a comment

Supernatural: “Torn and Frayed” (Season 8, Episode 10)

spBroadcast date: Wednesday, Jan. 16th, 2013

I’ve been following Supernatural since episode 2 of season 1 (I missed the first episode but caught it later on DVD). The show has had its ups and downs; when it’s a weekly serial about hunting monsters and ghosts, it’s top-notch; when it’s caught in the several-season arc about the battle between Angels and Demons, it’s not quite as good. It’s a series that has a mix of action, suspense, goofiness, drama-heavy moments, and of course the supernatural, and it is not afraid to take a good-natured, tongue-in-cheek jab at itself from time to time. The two brothers, Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles of Dark Angel), have lost everyone close to them, but still they continue to hunt monsters and demons. Why? Beacuse they are good at it, and it’s the only life they know.

In this season, the older brother, Dean, escaped Purgatory (where he ended up after taking on Leviathans last season) with the help of angel Castiel (a regular on the show for several seasons) and Benny, a vampire. While Castiel struggles with his mind, which we are finding out has been altered in some way, Benny is starting to slip back into his own ways. Meanwhile Sam spent a year on his own without Dean and got himself a woman, only to find out that her husband, who was thought to have been killed in Afghanistan, is still alive, and Sam must depart. The reunion of Sam and Dean was less than happy, as Dean was upset that Sam quit hunting, while Sam is not thrilled that Dean’s new best buddy is a vampire. Although Sam should be grateful that the vampire helped Dean escape, the underlying bad blood goes back a couple seasons, when Dean killed a Kitsu named Amy that Sam used to love. Sam doesn’t understand why Dean killed Amy but allows Benny to live, and it’s driven a wedge between them.

This episode focusses on the angels vs. demons arc instead of a weekly serial hunt. Castiel (Misha Collins) enlists Sam and Dean’s help to track down an angel who has been captured by Crowley (the current ruler of Hell, played wonderfully for several seasons by Mark Sheppard of Leverage). But Castiel is broken – an angel in Heaven (Amanda Tapping from Stargate and Sanctuary fame) has been messing with his mind, so it’s up to the brothers to take the lead. Meanwhile, Benny calls Dean for help, as he can no longer control his hunger for blood, but Dean’s up to his neck in demons and can’t help. Meanwhile, Sam’s gal Amelia returns while her husband is out of town, and Sam must decide to quit the business or leave Amelia for good. While a transitional episode – Sam and Dean must make decisions on their relationships – there’s still plenty of demon-fighting, and there’s a cool sequence where Sam and Dean move through an abandoned warehouse “tagging” demonic symbols that prevent Castiel from entering. The big reveal (revealed by an angel that does a lot of annoying screaming under Crowley’s torture) is that there is an angel tablet, a stone artifact that when activated, allows Heaven to be sealed up and prevents angels from coming to Earth. Though the angels vs. demons arc is tiring…the Leviathan arc was better last season, and Benny has been a great addition this season (but is barely in this episode)…at least the relationship questions get wrapped up (for now) and we can move that part of the story forward. However, we know that at some point, when Benny starts killing again, Dean is going to have to face him down. There’s a very poignant moment at the end where Sam and Amelia agree to meet in two days, and whoever shows up will know what the other person has decided. Only one person shows up at the rendezvous, and it’s a sad scene. It’s the cap to a fair episode – not great, but not terrible either.

January 24, 2013 Posted by | tv shows | | Leave a comment

Book Review: A Memory of Light by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson

memoryoflightFormat:  Hard Cover, First Edition, 2013

Pages:  909

Reading Time:  A long, long time…maybe 17 hours?

I must admit that I’ve wrestled with the approach to take on this review. The most effective review would be to look at the book as it stands, alone from the rest of the series, as well as it’s place in the series as a whole, due to the fact that it’s the conclusion. However, I freely admit it’s been 23 years since I read The Eye of the World. And here’s another neat fact about me – my long term memory is terrible. I really couldn’t tell you what happened in that first book, it’s been so long. I have a vague idea, mind you, but the details pretty much escape me. No, my time is better spent approaching this book as the final part of the trilogy that Sanderson has written.

Furthermore, I’m not a Wheel of Time superfan. I’ve never been to Dragonmount.com, I don’t debate and argue plot points, or speculate on what should have happened between the pages and what would have happened in the future. For some reviewers, the Wheel of Time is an important part of their life. I was simply a 23 year old guy who picked up and read The Eye of the World in 1990, liked it enough to continue buying the sequels, got more and more frustrated with the characters and the lagging pace and plot in each successive book, gave up on the series completely, figured it was toast when Jordan died, but renewed my interest when Sanderson took over. Now the series can have closure, and for me, I feel like that should suffice. Though the book has serious flaws, it also has its share of both shining and tragic moments, and I’ve walked away with a feeling that…well, let’s not say I’m completely thrilled, but instead, I’m satisfied enough that the 23 year journey was a memorable one. I’ve touched on both what I liked and didn’t like about the book in bullet format below. Minor spoilers to follow…

What I liked:

  •  As other bloggers have mentioned, Sanderson does a wonderful job of taking a cardboard character like Talmanes and breathing some real life into him during the opening battle for Camelyn. interestingly enough, Talmanes doesn’t show up for the Last Battle.
  • The bonding between Androl and Pevara is well done and one of the best parts of the story. It explains how a member of the Red Ajah could go from wanting to gentle a man with channeling to wanting to marry him. That’s no easy feat. Especially for a woman a couple of hundred years older than Androl.
  • The subtlety of Compulsion on the great captains was lost on me at first. I couldn’t understand why the shadow wouldn’t just kill the generals off. But it’s really a brilliant plot point. The idea is that by the time the armies discover their tactics have been compromised, it’s too late to recover. Were the Shadow to just kill the generals, some other commander would take their place. It also clears the way for Mat to step in and use those memories he’s been given.
  • Rand has a moving scene with his father, learning to duel with one hand, while they repair the rift that had grown between them. Both realize that this is probably the last they will see of each other.
  • The confrontation between Egwene and Fortuona is great, especially where Egwene dares Fortuona to put on the a’dam.
  • Where The Gathering Storm focused on Rand and Towers of Midnight put a heavy emphasis on Perrin, in A Memory of Light Mat steps up front and center to lead. And more of Mat is a good thing.

What I didn’t like:

  • Moraine’s importance seemed overstated. From my perspective, any Aes Sedai would have satisfied the “two women” requirement that Rand desired, including Egwene, Cadsuane, or Aviendha. And indeed it is Egwene that has the biggest impact when Rand is in trouble.
  • In addition, the Last Battle seems pointless. Why did the Shadow send a million Trollocks to attack the lands when it is Rand that determines the outcome of humanity and the pattern itself? Why not bend all its resources to stopping him and killing him?
  • The scene between Rand and Fortuona, after so much build-up, was bland and disappointing.
  • Many of the individual showdowns – Perrin vs. Slayer, Matt vs. Fain, even Rand vs. The Dark One – seemed underwhelming. The showdowns between Lan and Demandred, and Egwene and M’Hael, were better.
  • Elayne as the leader/coordinator of the entire army was ludicrous.
  • The use of the Mask of Mirrors. This is the single biggest flaw in the series, and its use is far more glaring than gateways. When anyone can pretend to be anyone at any time, why don’t they? Forsaken should have pretended to be generals, or Aes Sedai. Egwene could have pretended to be Forsaken or a Darkfriend and got close to Demandred and killed him. There’s just so many ridiculously possible storyline abuses of such a power…it was so effective that Demandred couldn’t see through Androl’s and Pevara’s disguise…that both its use and non-use is staggering. Just a horrible plot point, very deus ex machina.

Other random thoughts:

  • Many lamented Gawyn as a useless character; however, he was necessary to get Egwene into the right frame of mind to challenge M’Hael, and much more.
  • You can bet that Artur Hawkwind spoke to Fortuona about a great many things – including the abolishing of the a’dam.
  • It was good to read about the battle for the Black Tower, but it was somewhat underwhelming. However, the comment about “making the Asha’man into their own men” instead of being Rand’s weapons was accurate. At first I thought, “no, they just worship Logain instead. But when the time came for the Tower men to choose between Logain and doing what was right, they turned their backs on Logain. Impressive.

Final thoughts:

There were moments of intense grief. After finishing page 795, I had to stop reading as the tears just kept rolling down my face. A character who I had grown to love as my favorite was gone. This occurred again on page 904, when one character paid tribute to another that had fallen. I expected more big showdowns, awesome displays of one-on-one badass moments, and was disappointed that this was not the case. Overall it was an exhausting read…too many battles and tactics going on for page after page…the grief I just mentioned…the sheer number of pages to wade through. And the Epilogue is very, very short. It has been noted by those other than myself that it would not have hurt the book, and far enhanced it, to have about 150 pages less of battles and 150 more of Epilogue. After all, this is The End, and there will never be another Wheel of Time book. At one point in the series I would have shrugged, but now…it seems like a shame. A big thank you to Brandon Sanderson to get us to this point.

Thus it was that the Dragon rode once more upon the winds of time, and as I rode beside him, I observed and marveled at the immensity of his purpose, and wept as the Dragon fulfilled his destiny, but it was not the end. There are no endings to the Wheel of Time. But it was an ending…

January 23, 2013 Posted by | Book Review | , , , , | Leave a comment