Posted in General on February 6, 2012 by swsquadleadr327

Right, ok, so I haven’t used this blog in quite a while. The reason?

I have a new one. That one has been regularly updated and continues to be (mostly) regularly updated. Still the same things seen here, plenty of Star Wars stuff as well as Doctor Who and other nerdy interests of mine. Slightly different in some ways, though, because many things in my life have changed since I stopped posting here. If you’re interested then by all means go ahead and check it out and subscribe and all that good stuff. If you’re not interested, well, thanks for checking this blog. I’m leaving it here but this will be the last post it sees.



Great Baby Names for Dorky/Nerdy Parents

Posted in General, Star Wars, Stargate Atlantis with tags , , on February 23, 2011 by swsquadleadr327

I for one already know I don’t plan on having kids but since I have to come up with names for my characters in the stories I write I find myself going to baby name sites in search of unique or cool sounding names for my characters. There are even a couple that if, BIG if, I were to have kids I would think about bestowing upon my offspring. I’m not talking about the super dorks out there that decide to name their kid Boba or Tiberius or Xavier. I’m talking about the names that are actually standard names for kids but also have a dorky reference to them if you’re a big enough nerd to notice or the names that are obscure enough to avoid ridicule.

This child already looks tormented

So, for those parents who actually want their kid to have a social life (something their parents might never have experienced first hand) I thought I’d compile a list of good baby boy and baby girl names that will keep said child from being teased for their entire life.

Boy Names

Gavin– I’ve loved this name ever since Gavin Darklighter joined Rogue Squadron

Lucas– We all know why this is on the list

Wes– I’ve met a few people online with this name, and there’s nothing wrong with naming a kid for a jokester fighter pilot

Jacen– Most people will think it’s spelled Jason and won’t question the spelling or associate it with the psychopathic Solo boy

Malcolm– You can call him Mal (Bad. In the Latin.) and hope he grows up to be a pirate with morals and dashing good looks

Girl Names

Logan– Yes, can also be a boy’s name but I like it for a girl and she never has to know she shares a name with a burly mutant until she’s of age to watch X-men

Teyla– Ok, maybe not exactly a common name unless you’re from the Pegasus galaxy, but who needs to know? It’s a pretty name

Kaylee– It’s cute and warm sounding and makes me think of fresh strawberries

Jean– Fairly common but I think a child would appreciate the anonymity since that’s why Jean Grey fought for in the first movie, no?

Inara- Just keep your kid away from Vegas and hope that being a Companion doesn’t become an actual career choice

And finally, to wrap up the list and make sure we’re clear on acceptable and unacceptable names I thought I’d put up a list of unacceptable names. At least if you want your kid to avoid serious taunting from fellow students. They will appreciate your restraint in the end.

Unacceptable Names








Clone Wars: Witches of the Mist

Posted in Star Wars with tags , , on January 22, 2011 by swsquadleadr327

Let me start off by saying that I was really excited for these past couple of Clone Wars episodes and have been looking forward to seeing them since August, when they revealed the existence of Savage Oppress at Celebration V. And don’t forget, I was really looking forward to seeing these episodes in theaters back in December. I’ll admit that I didn’t watch any of the other two episodes on tv, but I saw the first episode, Nightsisters, on CartoonNetwork.com before Friday’s episode. Since I hadn’t seen the other two, I wasn’t going to bother watching Witches of the Mist until I could somehow watch all three episodes together. (Spoilers ahead: watch out)

And then I was duped into watching the episode. The Rebel Legion’s Twitter account said “Don’t forget to catch Clone Wars tonight. Why? Two words. REPUBLIC. COMMANDOS.” And me, being the easily excited RC fan that I am made up my mind right away to watch the episode. Any episode that includes Republic Commandos must be a pretty badass episode. That’s when I went and watched the first episode online. I should have taken the hint when Cartoon Network only had the first episode and not the second, Monster. But I went ahead and watched the last episode of the trilogy on Friday night.

Where do I even begin? I guess I’ll start by explaining why I was ‘duped’ in to watching it. Well, that’s because my beloved Republic Commandos were only on screen for less than 10 seconds. I probably should have realized that they wouldn’t play a major role, but I really had hoped that my RC boys would have been more important players than just showing up on screen for a few seconds. I suppose most of my frustration with this episode stems from that. There’s no other word for it; I felt duped.

The other problem that I had with the episode is that everything happened too quickly. That might just be the fact that I missed the middle part of the story, but I’ve felt that way about a lot of Clone Wars episodes. 30 minutes minus commercials just isn’t enough time to get across a good Star Wars story. That’s not to say that the writers haven’t tried, though. There have been some pretty good episodes, and there are even more that I see what it’s about and think that it’s going to be a really fulfilling episode story-wise, but it then hits the problem that 30 minutes isn’t enough time to tell a full story. I feel like the formula of telling a story arc over two episodes (like with Rising Malevolence and Shadow of Malevolence) is a much better way to have good Clone Wars stories and I really wish they’d return to that formula.

I do think that Katie Lucas did a pretty darn good job for a first try with these episodes. The first episode held together well and made me want to continue the story into the next two episodes. My biggest problem, once I got past my Republic Commando disappointment, was that it seemed like the writers were trying too hard to take awesome aspects from the books and shove them into their cartoon series. Overall I thought the appearance of the Nightsisters wasn’t all that bad, and I was even pretty ok with Savage Oppress being Darth Maul’s brother. I was even ok with the Nightbrothers since they mostly seemed to keep the fact that they were really there to serve the Nightsisters, in holding with Dathomir’s female run society.

And that’s where we get to the part I’m really really really absolutely not ok with. I can take a lot of bending and reshaping of the Star Wars universe, but there’s a place I draw the line at, and that’s bringing back characters who have been very obviously been sliced into two separate parts by a lightsaber. And that line stands no matter how much I love Ray Park and think it would be cool to see him as Darth Maul again. The fact that Mother Tavlin or whatever-the-hell-her-name-was gave Savage a pendant and told him to go to the Outer Rim and search out his kin who can teach him the ways of the Sith is so totally not ok with me. That takes the bending and reshaping of the Expanded Universe and completely and utterly shatters it with no regard for the fans who are left crushed and once again picking up the pieces of a fragmented universe. I can only hope that the crazy Russian accented Nightsister leader was really just setting Savage up to fall into some black hole at the edge of the galaxy and never return since he has ceased to be useful to them. I hope.

But that hope simply is just stemming from a Star Wars fan who has had to pick up the fractured pieces of the Star Wars universe and lovingly fit them back together to await George’s (or in this case his daughter’s) next universe shattering decision.

Katie has obviously learned much from her father.

Gears of War books

Posted in General with tags , on January 10, 2011 by swsquadleadr327

I’m relatively new to the Gearsverse and the reason for that is because for one thing I’m not that good at first person shooters like Gears of War or Halo and secondly I don’t always have the amount of time I’d like to devote to a game that extensive. I received Gears of War 2 for my birthday about two years ago but played for about an hour before getting annoyed and giving up. When I heard on Karen Traviss’ website, though, that she was going to be writing the Gears of War books I knew I had to start reading them. I decided to go back and really put in some serious effort to play the game I had, even if that meant using an online guide from ign.com to help me.

It did.

After reaquainting myself with the controls I set out with my trusty guide to beat Gears of War 2. I decided on playing on the easiest difficulty since I have no interest in paying Microsoft an extra $10 a month to play online so I didn’t care if I got to be any good or not. I just wanted to play through the story. Which I managed in about three days last summer. I found that once I got into the swing of the game I only used the guide when I had died a few times and wanted suggestions on how to do something differently, or when I got lost and needed to remember where to go and what to do. Once I beat the game I decided I could safely go and read the books. I have yet to bother getting my hands on the first game. Since I’ve only just started on the books I’m not sure whether I’ll regret that decision or not.

I’m starting with Aspho Fields which, as far as I can tell, takes place after the first game but before the second game. If I’m wrong on that someone feel free to correct me. But if I’m right it’s cool with me, I haven’t hit anything from the first game that I should know about that is hindering my reading. So far the book has held to what I’m used to from Karen Traviss. Nitty gritty ugly war stuff that, unless you’ve been in war or know someone who has, you might not think of. Lack of supplies, lack of food, hostile environments and what’s it’s like to rely 100% on the person next to you to watch your back and keep you alive. She makes it seem terrifying and yet sometimes I feel as though she would be one hell of a military recruiter. Not to mention how real she makes the characters. They all have their fears, their worries and especially in the case of Dom, their hopes and dreams.

As I finish the book and make my way on to the other ones (which are fortunately available at my library now) I’ll continue to share my thoughts on the books, and I’ll try not to drool over Karen Traviss’ writing too much.

What I’m Reading: Wess’har series

Posted in General with tags on January 5, 2011 by swsquadleadr327

While most of the dorky and nerdy things that I do are relating to movies or tv shows, I have recently expanded into ‘real’ sci-fi books. Note that I’m not counting all the Star Wars books I’ve read as ‘real’ sci-fi books since they are only in existence thanks to George Lucas’ movies. I, as usual, have a roundabout way that I got introduced to these books. It was (surprise) due to Star Wars. The books I’m reading are the Wess’har series written by my personal favorite, Karen Traviss. And, in case it is not well known, Karen Traviss is my favorite because she wrote the Star Wars: Republic Commando series and a number of the Legacy of the Force books, and a Clone Wars novel or two. Thanks to my love of those Star Wars books I decided to branch out into her other stories and start the Wess’har series.

I have been getting my latest Karen Traviss fix thanks to my local library, and I have the $.72+ bill to prove it. I made the mistake of getting the first and second books out at the end of October, right before the start of NaNo. Big mistake. Oh well. I finally had enough time to make it through the first one and I just finished off the second one Saturday night. I think I put my request for the third book in too late. I’m hoping it won’t be more than a week before it comes in.

I’ll admit that it took me a little while to switch gears (no pun intended Gearsheads) from Star Wars to be able to understand the new world Karen Traviss was creating in the first Wess’har book, City of Pearl. Since this is my first real sci-fi novel it took me a few chapters to get into the story, and I had a number of times where I would start the first two chapters, put the book down and then not go near it again for days or weeks. Then after reading them for at least the third time, something clicked and I had a better handle on what world (or worlds) this  story was set in, and from then on I was able to more easily go through it.

As usual Karen Traviss does a great job of presenting a wide variety of characters, both alien and human. Her aliens at times really are exactly that- alien in the sense that it is difficult to understand where they are coming from and other times you sympathize more with the aliens than with the humans. In this world humans are even more messed up than they are in our known time stream, and even though they often seem more extreme it doesn’t seem like her humans on Earth are that far off from what we are already becoming. It’s a disturbing thing to think about and yet makes for a great anchor in the story. What better way to remind readers that not only is her story taking place in the future but to be careful of how things change in our real world than to present scenarios that are actually plausible?

One of the other ‘scary’ things about her books that I actually really love is how when the humans start doing typical human things like murder, being selfish or greedy it’s easy to sit there reading and think “yes, that’s exactly how humans are” and then feel ashamed about it. Don’t read this series if you’re looking for a reason to enjoy being a human. Now, don’t get me wrong, there are humans in her stories that are admirable and brave and all the good qualities that we like in our heroes, but the majority of humans are greedy, selfish, thoughtless and stupid. Maybe that’s the cop and criminal justice part of me speaking, but any time in the stories one of the aliens floats the idea of just vaping all the humans in the area to send a message, a big part of me thinks that it’s the best idea for them. That’s not to say that I advocate human genocide, but reading her books makes me think that aliens worlds and even some of the creatures on our world that are endangered or extinct because of humans wouldn’t be better off if we were to not be around anymore.

On a cheerier note, one of the fun things that I enjoyed about reading the first book, City of Pearl, was that the humans on the ship that traveled to the alien world seemed to split into two groups the way high school kids separate into the cool kids and the not cool kids. Except on their ship they split into the military personnel and the scientists. The leader of the military personnel, Shan Frankland, was an ex-cop on Earth and retained all of her police training especially when dealing with the military personnel. The scientists all kept to themselves because they felt persecuted by the military people because they didn’t understand their need to go and research things on the planet and collect samples learn as much as possible about the planet while they were there. The reason I liked this dynamic so much was because I could whole-heartedly sympathize with both sides. Being a former biochemistry major I knew exactly how the scientists felt and the way they viewed their visit to the alien planet. And yet because I’m now a criminal justice major intent on becoming a police officer, I knew exactly how Shan Frankland and her military people felt about being on the planet. It all came down to safety and logistics with them and they couldn’t understand why the scientists felt they needed to go out and collect samples even at the cost of their own safety. The fact that she can balance so realistically those two aspects in her book is just another reason why I love Karen Traviss’ writing.

Anyway, that’s about all I have for now, and hopefully the third book will come in to the library soon. I resorted to reading the first few pages on Amazon.com using their Look Inside feature. It wasn’t as satisfying as being able to read the whole book whenever I want…

You know you’re from…

Posted in General, Long Island with tags , on May 8, 2010 by swsquadleadr327

Long Island when: a dark, out of the way quiet dangerous location is ‘shady’.

Conversely, you’ve spent time in Vermont or any place north of LI: the same dark, dangerous or creepy area is considered ‘sketchy’.

Iron Man 2 Review: Worth my $11?

Posted in General with tags , , , on May 7, 2010 by swsquadleadr327

Warning: There be spoilers here, and as it is about 3am when I type this up this review might come across as a bit cranky. Just a little.

So one of my friends invited me to go see Iron Man 2 with her and a group of her friends at midnight. Now, I am not a big Iron Man fan, actually, the fact that the person who I’m supposed to call ‘dad’ just about worships Tony Stark is enough to set me off from it; but I try to be objective and I think I manage a fairly decent job since I know next to nothing about Iron Man from the comics and actually really enjoyed The Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer and the aforementioned ‘dad’ person did not.

Anyway, back to the movie part. I entered the theater with a fairly open mind because when I saw the first Iron Man movie I had such low expectations for it that I actually enjoyed it. I thought, “Self, maybe Iron Man 2 might be the same. Shell out the $11 that you could use towards a sonic screwdriver and go have fun with your friends. Maybe it will surprise you”.

It didn’t.

Somehow, it actually managed to be below my expectations. Let me present a quick digression: when I went to see The Bourne Identity in theaters I couldn’t stand the movie so much that I longed to fall asleep. I closed my eyes for 20 minutes at a time praying for sleep, but it did not come. That has not happened to me during a movie since. Until Iron Man 2.

It started out promising by presenting an interesting conundrum for narcissistic self-proclaimed superhero Tony Stark; his palladium heart is killing him. (a little strange considering the actual helpful things that palladium really does, but I can go with it; this is Marvel after all) The trouble is, Tony can’t figure out a way to cure himself. This is significant because the next hour and forty five minutes will be spent watching Tony struggle with this issue, with one really disappointing fight scene stuck in to keep 99% of the audience happy, and a rather strange digression in the plot meant to introduce Marvel’s next movie The Avengers.

First let me tackle the fight scene. It started out promising, with Iron Man’s new nemesis making a random appearance at the racetrack that Tony is at, having commandeered the race car from the real driver so that Tony can race it, presumably because he thinks he’s dying and it’s one of those things on his Bucket List. Anyway, Vanko stomps out onto the racetrack and starts using his rather fancy light whip things to start causing havoc to get Tony’s attention. After nearly getting himself sliced in half, Pepper shows up with his portable Iron Man suit. (now, if the suit fits in that over-sized briefcase, how come he has to go through the whole fan fair of standing around having that machine take it off for him?) Now he’s ready for battle! Vanko lassos him a couple times with his light whips and then suddenly Tony throws him into the ground and just like that, the fight is over. As it should be since Vanko had almost no armor and if he’d gotten slammed into the ground any harder they’d be scraping him off the racetrack. If the whole scene lasted 2 minutes I’d be very surprised.

That was about a half hour into the movie after Jon Favreau made us sit through the most annoying Senate meeting ever about what to do with Tony Stark’s Iron Man suit. Then we have to wait another hour and fifteen minutes for Iron Man’s next encounter with Vanko. Problematic? I think so.

If you’re wondering, what happened in those rather painful and dull 75 minutes was as follows: Samuel L. Jackson (eye patch and all) as Nick Fury approaches Tony Stark about the S.H.I.E.L.D. program. Enter the prolonged process of introducing viewers to The Avengers which is not scheduled until 2012. (here’s hoping the Mayans are spot on and we get spared the likely train wreck that movie will be if the past few Marvel movies are any indication) Also, thanks to some very strange phenomenon with Harold Stark and an old recording, Tony realizes his father left him a way to solve his palladium issue. (anyone else confused as to how 30 years in the past the father knew exactly what his son would need? Anyone else feel like it was a bit of a grandfather paradox?)

And finally we are able to move on with what little plot this movie had. Vanko makes his next big appearance at the Stark Expo, via idiot Justin Hammer and his desire to one-up Iron Man and make a cooler better suit. Blah blah, chase ensues, lots of explosions and things start to look up for the last few minutes of the movie. And then suddenly Tony Stark realizes that Vanko has a backup plan and he has to race back across New York to get back to save Lois Lane from the exploding drones. Oops, sorry, wrong movie. It’s just that Iron Man flying at Mach speeds did so remind me of Superman flying backwards around the world as fast as he could to go back in time so he could bring Lois back from the dead.

My biggest problem with that scene? Not the throwback to Superman, who is as we all know a DC comic (boo, hiss!) but the fact that Pepper stands around staring at the drone for about thirty seconds while it beeps and its chest flashes red at her. She must not have gotten the memo that in action movies when things beep and flash red it usually means they are going to explode. Fortunately for her Tony arrives just in time and he grabs her and they blast off to safety. Here enters my problem: 0mph-100000000mph in .2 seconds= flattened Pepper. Whoops, better luck next time, Mr. Stark!

So now that Vanko is vanquished, that leaves Nick Fury and his eye patch free to go try to recruit Iron Man for his new team. Only I was just as confused as Tony Stark was. They want Iron Man for the team, but they don’t want Tony Stark? That’s like saying “thanks, I’ll take the Hulk, but Bruce Banner get lost” or “come on in, Mr. Hyde, but make sure you leave Dr. Jekyll at home!” Not that I particularly blame them. Tony Stark is really not my kind of superhero.

That just leaves the small clip at the end of the movie.

What, you thought I was going to spoil that too? No, that you can go see for yourself (it’s probably already up on youtube somewhere if you’re really desperate) and would require a whole other rant on my part that frankly I’m just too tired to type up.

Overall, my feeling was that this movie was really just one big promo for The Avengers, kind of like those episodes of CSI that introduced the other CSI shows, or the episode of NCIS to introduce NCIS: Los Angeles. Slightly entertaining but overall pretty useless.

Here’s my verdict: on a scale of one to ten, with ten being X-Men 2, and one being The Hulk, and five being The Fantastic Four, I give Iron Man 2 just that: a two.