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

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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…

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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:

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This was the worst of the worst:

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

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…

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:

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

 

 

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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.

 

 

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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.

 

 

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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.

 

 

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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…

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:

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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…

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.