Autumn ritual

August 28, 2008

LaDanian Tomlinson, the most prolific back in football breaks the single season touchdown record in 2006

I cannot begin to describe how much I hate pre-season football. It’s such a tease, the games are meaningless and the chances for players getting injured are enormous. Not much has been going on with me this week but tomorrow I have a meeting to return to the SGV Tribune as a prep football correspondent. Most likely I am going to be covering at least one high school game over the holiday weekend during week zero. Goodbye Olympics, hello football.

Today I got my copy of SI with the NFL preview and LaDanaian Tomlinson on the cover. I love football and I love the fall season, the smell of autumn is in the air. The weather changes from the umbearable heat to cooler and pleasant days and halloween is guaranteed fun, not to mention thanksgiving and xmas. It almost drives me crazy to think how I wish it was already here and how it’s only a few weeks away.

My San Diego Chargers are coming off a season in which only injuries prevented them from making an appearance in the Super Bowl and expectations are  high once again for this team to contend. They might be even higher if Shawn Merriman, our all pro linebacker hadn’t torn two ligaments on his knees. Merriman says that he will play through the pain until he has to have surgery on the knees. I am not sure that is quite wise but even without him, our defense is a solid unit and the team is very deep. The talent is there, but can SD take the next step in the playoffs and contend for a super bowl title? Only time will tell


Thursday morning quaterbacking

August 21, 2008

This won’t be a true TMQ post as I have not read all of this week’s offerings.  Lots of good stuff from Marvel including X-Factor #34, Captain America #41 and Incredible Hercules #120. At any rate, here’s a review of this week’s Hack Slash #15.

The title is a bit of a misnomer because Cassie and Vlad don’t ever actually meet the Re-Animator, at least not in this first part of the arc. That isn’t to say that the Dr. West character isn’t used to maximum creepy effect.

Seeley once again manages to impress with his ability to tackle multiple subplots concurrently while making them all interesting. The comic opens with West and his “assistant” Dr. Hack scrounging up road kill off a highway in New Mexico, unaware that they are being watched by Cassie and Vlad. The reader gets a very good recap of Dr. West’s scientific know-how, for those who aren’t very familiar with the events from the Re-Animator film franchise.

This is followed up by a very funny and endearing exchange between Vlad and Cassie which turns serious when Vlad realizes that Cassie is getting close to finding her dad by eliminating the prospects on her list. Having already established a rapport between these two central characters, Seeley is left free to explore the subtle nuances of their close friendship. This character moment is balanced with plenty of bizarre occurrences from Dr. West’s lab in which such creepy crawlers as a scorpion with an eyeball and a human finger on for a tail are common visual sight gags.

By employing flashbacks representing Dr. Hack’s memories, Seeley establishes the crucial back story of Cassie’s mom and how her relationship with Hack was first established. When Dr. Hack was a prominent psychologist conducting studies, he appears to have gotten too close to one of his subjects. It’s a fascinating read whose poignant retelling is the backbone in which the entire comic’s story hangs on and this is made all the more suspenseful by the fact Cassie is very close to finding out who her real father is.

Another subplot intertwined from last issue into this month’s installment is the otherworld demonic Nef which are planning to invade our dimension. This development is only given one page in the current comic and very little gets advanced from last issue.

However, the narrative style of the entire story is very good so when the final cliffhanger inevitably arrives, it is one of those rare times when it works with maximum effectiveness and leaves the reader with a tangible sense of longing for the next installment of the story arc.

This is a tribute to Seeley’s great sense of pacing and to the interesting developments currently being presented by the writer. Suddenly, Cassie’s life has been turned upside down and it will be interesting to see if she lets her guard down and becomes vulnerable as a result of making an emotional connection. Vlad was right on the money when he hinted this was one of Cassie’s biggest fears. This is something we, as readers, are not accustomed to seeing from this confident, emotionally detached character.

The artwork by artist Emily Stone and colorist Mark Englert is, once more, solid. I especially like the technique of framing the characters employed in the final page. This is another chapter in the Hack/Slash saga and another example of a consistently great comic book.


The Dharma Initiative wants you!

August 18, 2008

I’ve joined the Dharma Initiative recruit program! Not sure what they expect from recruits, maybe we will be expected to perform dastardly deeds or my expertise in journalism will come in handy. Or maybe they will just strap me to a table and perform weird experiments on me. Though I hope not.

At any rate,  I was quite happy to get the following email on my inbox:

ATTENTION ALL RECRUITS
RE: CONFIRMATION OF LAUNCH DATE FOR VOLUNTEER TESTING

I am pleased to announce that, following an extensive security audit of all departments within the Dharma Initiative, I am totally satisfied that DharmaWantsYou.com is now secure. As a result I am able to confirm a date for the commencement of our latest volunteer testing program.
Visit www.dharmawantsyou.com to confirm the launch date.
I have heard from many of you in recent weeks via email asking what will be assessed in the program and what the nature of our latest research is. I have found your enthusiasm and relentless curiosity extremely endearing. However, in the interests of maintaining the integrity of the testing process, I cannot be forthcoming on these enquiries.
Despite this, I would like to affirm to you all that I am extremely optimistic about these upcoming evaluations and believe that they will yield recruits of the highest caliber.
Good luck to all applicants.
Together we can guide the world to a better tomorrow.
Namaste,

Hans Van Eeghen
Head of Recruiting
The Dharma Initiative

You too can become a part of the program if you pass the required initial assessment. Be warned, it’s not always for the faint of heart.


MMORPG news

August 14, 2008

Cryptic Studios has released a trailer for their upcoming Star Trek online MMORPG and it looks awesome! See for yourselves:

You better believe I will be playing this game once it is released since according to info from mmorpg.com, you will be able to play a number of races including human, Vulcan, Andorian, Klingon, Orion, Gorn, and several others. You will also be able to create your own race with its own custom look and attributes. How freaking cool would it be to play a Gorn hunting down federation red shirts?

According to the info released by the game’s creators, the game is set approximately 30 years after the events in Star Trek Nemesis. The game starts in 2409. Technology has advanced and the galaxy is a much more volatile place. Some of the ST games I’ve played recently haven’t been very good, including Star Trek Conquest, so I have really high hopes for this one.

In other MMO news, I promised I would report back on whether LOTRO is worth your MMORPG subscription dollars. I would have to say yes, but don’t expect it to be 100 percent like Wow. Yet, this is a fun game and even though I have only 2 days left of my 14 day trial, I am almost done with the introduction and have reached level 7 which is a drop in the bucket compared to some of these long time players. Then again, Unlike others, I don’t have 12 or 16 hours to kill in front of a computer playing a game, I’m good for about 1 or 2 each night if lucky.

I could be wrong about this, but you have to have even finished the intro in order to activate the social panel and join a fellowship. The final quest in the intro has you following Dwalin and defending him inside Skorgrim’s tomb. I took a cool screenshot of my character fending off a couple of goblins but then I got greedy and tried to capture Dwalin after he destroys a gate entrance. It’s kind of too dark to see, but you can make him out saying, “Stand back now!”

The problem with defending Dwalin is despite his use of magic energies, he’s a 5th level character and he’s old, so I was like twice as powerful as he was, he held his own for awhile but when you’re taking on 4 evil doers, he tends to get himself killed and you have to do the final quest more than once to complete it. I’m pretty sure I will be finishing it before the trial period ends though. So the final verdict?

Yes I would have to say that LOTRO is almost as fun or even more fun than DDO Stormreach (where you seem to fight a lot of Kobolds in the early levels) and though not as engaging as Wow, I only played one race, so maybe it would be fun to play other races.


Is Cassie Hack the new Buffy??

August 9, 2008

Her mission in life is to fight monsters and slashers. She’s attractive, tough as nails, and doesn’t take crap from anyone, especially from the preternatural community.

No, I’m not talking about Buffy the Vampire Slayer, though some would say that Tim Seeley’s loudmouth, goth chick turned monster hunter, is cut from the same cloth as our favorite former denizen of Sunnydale. As a matter of fact, Devil’s Due Publishing markets her comic with such hyperbolic copy as: “Hack/Slash is what Buffy might have been if it had been created by Wes Craven and Rob Zombie instead of Joss Whedon.”

As the lone survivor of an attack by a slasher called the lunch lady (a slasher who turned out to be her mother) Cassandra “Cassie” Hack now travels the world hunting down slashers and destroying monsters wherever she happens to find them. 

I think that is where the similarities end, and while there are certain elements that are very reminiscent of our beloved vampire slayer, I think Seeley and artist Emily Stone’s creation have carved out enough unique elements to distinguish her from other major heroines.

One major difference is while Buffy tends to dress more conservatively, Cassie’s depiction as a goth emphasizes her roots in that lifestyle. This should not be mistaken by feminists and others as another example of a male dominated industry’s exploitation of women with titilating images, as I believe that Cassie is too strong a character to even allow herself to be exploited and Seely’s narratives make it clear that her sexuality empowers her rather than enslaves her. I attribute attempts to link her with the Suicide girls or any alternative porn movements as more of a marketing scheme than anything else.

Another major difference is that while Buffy’s vampires and monsters were often used as metaphor for the real angst and horrors of growing up as a teen in American society and to explore the complex themes by subverting the genre’s conventions, Hack Slash is a world inhabitted by the slashers of cult movies made famous by Friday the 13th and others. In fact, the creators are smart enough to be incorporating cult elements into the comic, Cassie having previously met up with the likes of Chucky and in an upcoming arc she will deal with Dr. Herber West from the Re-Animator cult films.

 If you never heard of Cassandra Hack until today, the movie watching public soon will as rumors that 22 year old American actress Megan Fox is said to be “really interested” in the part of Cassie in an upcoming release from Rogue Pictures. At any rate, you can read my review of the latest issue from this excellent ongoing series here.


Thursday morning quarterbacking

August 7, 2008

Happy thursday. I was going to lead off with reviews of some of the comics which came out this week, but I have not had a chance to read them all, so instead I give you a sample of Rod and Barry. They are my favorite web comic strip out there (though I am sure there are may out there).

Rod and Barry are hilarious. They were sent to conquer Earth but (lucky for us) they got sidetracked by watching TV and sampling earth’s sci fi. Their adventures are updated every thursday here. Comic book reviews coming later today or tomorrow.


Getting my “geek” on with LOTRO

August 4, 2008

Well, in my ongoing quest to find a fun MMORPG to play (that’s massively multiplayer Online Role playing game for you newbs out there) I decided to give Turbine’s LOTRO a try. Turbine has a 14-day trial you can download and try out. But be forewarned, it is a LONG download and install.

I had heard many good things about the game although some people claim it is nothing more than a WOW clone. Maybe it was the fact that I stopped by the Game Empire store in pasadena in search of a good business feature for the newspaper, but I felt like playing a good game. I found out they have a D&D 4th edition group that meets once a month. I have never played D&D 4th edition, but if that’s not your cup of tea, then there’s Warhammer and plenty of other games to keep you busy.

I think Turbine has done a good job with LOTRO, even though I haven’t been a fan of the franchise and never read the Hobbit, they purchased the rights to the property and have crafted a good looking game to take advantage of the popularity of the films. Even though I haven’t had the chance to play it much, (thus far I have a level 2 troll running around Middle Earth) the character creation stage was fun, incorporating much from DDO and even providing a mini movie describing each race’s attributes or backstory.

Thus far, LOTRO has been as much fun or more than DDO so I will have to report back when I’m a bit deeper into my trial to evaluate if it is worth a subscription rate. Stay tuned.