Saturday, April 14, 2018

Review: Titaner Bolt Pen

Remember how I said I'd never back Kickstaters again? Remember how that was an utter lie? Yeah, that hasn't changed.

So I backed another titanium bolt-action pen, this time by Titaner, a titanium product merchant. The Titaner Bolt Pen is currently fighting with the GP 1945 for my favorite pen. A sturdy, solid, well-constructed pen of titanium (duh), the Titaner Bolt Pen has a unique bolt-action deployment that can be done one-handed by just twisting the cap. On the other end of the pen is a nice, unobtrusive glass-breaker for those "God, I really want to break some glass" moments that everyone has in their lives and, interestingly-enough, there's a little spike-pin tool hidden in the pen that can be used to release SIM cards from phones (or, I suppose, poke things like you might with a tiny pin).

Best of all, the Titaner Bolt Pen can take a variety of refills, from Fisher Space Pen refills to Scheider refills or what-have-you.

I have to say, I'm kinda leaning toward the Titaner Bolt Pen as my current favorite. The GP 1945 is an awesome pen, but I really do like the option of Fisher Space Pen refills.

Oh well. I can always carry both pens!

Review: Zombie Tools Apokatana and Zakasushi

I'm not even going to bother to explain the sequence of events that let me pull off getting both an Apokatana and a Zakashushi from the glorious mad geniuses of Zombie Tools. It's not really an exciting story.

What is exciting is that I have two new swords with leather sheaths for me to swing around my apartment and risk damage to furniture and my precious self.

I regret nothing.

The Apokatana is a brutal monster with a three-foot-plus blade and a long handle to counter the weight. It comes sharp and fierce-looking with the customary acid-etch of a ZT blade. The Zakasushi, it's Wakizashi-equivalent counterpart is shorter and lighter, with a blade that's not quite three feet long but is equally as sharp. Both blades look like something badass enough to make most anyone on the wrong end shit one's self in fear. Zombie Tools advertises their blades as "burly and sharp". They don't joke.

Already I've tried experimental Musashi swings with both blades (Miyamoto Musashi, a legendary Japanese swordsman, was famed for fighting with both katana and wakizashi). I have new respect for anyone who can do that with speed.

Both the Apokatana and the Zakasushi come with kydex sheaths. I opted to go for the leather sheath upgrades, but I have to say I find the kydex sheaths might be a better "fit" overall. For one thing, the kydex sheaths look badass, giving the blades a more ominous, cyberpunkish, look when sheathed. Also, the kydex sheathes fit tighter. Unlike the other leather sheaths I've obtained from Zombie Tools, the sheathes for the Apokatana and the Zakasushi are looser. The blades can potentially slip out easier (though be drawn quickly, so there's that). The sheaths are still gorgeous craftsmanship, though. I tend to leave the blades in the leather, purely for that reason.

Yup. These and actual sword training would actually have me ready for a zombie apocalypse. Maybe.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Review: "Pacific Rim: Uprising"

Holy shit!

So it's no secret that I love giant robots and giant monsters. I loved the original Pacific Rim. It was a movie that pleased me. There might have been some attempt at plot and acting in it, but I can't remember. It was a glorious slug-fest of robots and monsters kicking the shit out of one another in cities as people scrambled to get out of the way.

In short, it was perfect.



I just saw Pacific Rim: Uprising and I gotta say, the sequel may well be better!!!!



Set ten years after the first movie, Jake Pentecost (John Boyega), the son of Stacker Pentecost of the first film, is living as a thief and hustler who deals in Jaeger salvage tech. After a job goes awry, he meets young Amara Namani (Cailee Spaeny), a young prodigy who is building her own tiny Jaeger.

They manage to get arrested and are drafted into the Jaeger program - Amara as a cadet and Jake as a trainer. Turns out old Jake was a Ranger in the program but walked away.

Blah-blah character development blah-blah.

Meanwhile, there's a plan by the brilliant Liwen Shao (Tian Jing), assisted by Dr. Newton Geiszler (Charlie Day) to replace the piloted Jaeger mechs with drone mechs.

Then everything goes horribly, horribly wrong.

Next thing you know, there's renegade Jaeger robots killing people (someone from the first movie bites it, much to my dismay) and treachery followed by the obligatory Kaiju attack. Then it's all Jaeger vs Kaiju action in an orgy of glorious destructive violence set in Tokyo.

Because of course, Tokyo.

There's other characters in the movie and subplots and such but that's all incidental.

Pacific Rim: Uprising is everything one wants and needs from a movie containing giant robot mechs and giant monsters. It's pure awesome bliss. Let no one tell you otherwise. It's currently holding the top spot as my favorite movie in the last couple of years. Fucking genius!

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Review: Black Panther

Just saw Black Panther. That was a thoroughly-enjoyable movie! It had a nice, sci-fi feel to it and felt fresh with a primarily non-white cast. The fight scenes were outstanding and the effects were damn pretty. The plot and dialog was pretty standard fare for Marvel movies, but that was not a bad thing. Overall, I came away from the film feeling there really ought to be a Wakanda in real life.

And that monarchies in comic book nations are a terrible, terrible idea.

Totally worth seeing. I will own this movie.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Revelation in 2018

My audience is in Russia and Nigeria.

I did not see that coming.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017: A personal recap

The Good Stuff

  • Family and friends were healthy and reasonably prosperous.
  • Got my DSL line fixed early in the year.
  • Much soup. Relatively-healthy eating there.
  • My gaming group lost a player.
  • Zombie Tools!
  • Started martial arts again.
  • Found a brewery with smoked beer on tap.
  • BART
  • Much sleep
  • Promotion at work.
  • Overseas trips for work.
  • In the UK for their June election. Hung Parliament!
  • Many cool things (Kickstarters, other junk) in my pile of junk.
  • Finished some stories. Started another story.
  • Game progress
  • EDIT: Winning the Little Drummer Boy game.
The Bad Stuff

  • Trump is President of the United States.
  • Alt-Right Nazi bullshit.
  • Equifax hack fallout.
  • Sinus issues. So. Many. Sinus. Issues. And horrible, horrible allergies.
  • My gaming group lost a player.
  • Phone jack died and having merry hell getting someone to fix it.
  • Learned of a sad and weird fate of a high school associate.
  • Lost some excellent co-workers as they moved on to other positions.
  • BART
  • Self-inflicted wound of stupid
  • Work just got more and more insane.
  • Overseas trips for work.
Conclusion

I guess I made out okay in 2017, at least for the most part. 2018's looking pretty uncertain, certainly in the first quarter. Guess we'll see what happens.

To the handful of people (mainly from Russia? Whyyyyyy?) who actually read this, I wish you all a Happy New Year. Hope 2018 treats us all well.

EDIT: 774 views? WTF?

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Feeling a little more childhood bleed away

Ah 2017. You've been a remarkably shitty year for more reasons than I want to write in this post. Corruption, pollution, insanity, threat of war... all the big things.

Funny that I find myself obsessing over tiny things as the year is winding down.

Yeah, I'm not talking about Trump's hands. I'm talking about childhood obsessions I'm finding myself stepping away from.

The first was "Doctor Who".

I've been following "Doctor Who" for most of my life. I was one of the few kids I knew in the U.S. watching the show when I was quite young. No one had even heard of the show, and when watched, the crappy BBC effects really didn't compare with the relatively more sophisticated stuff on American TV.

Still, I found myself utterly fascinated with the adventures of Tom Baker's Doctor gallivanting about on PBS reruns.

I was hooked. I watched it through multiple regenerations fairly faithfully.

It wasn't always a good show by any imagination. No one can sit through John Nathan Turner's era of running the show (poor Colin Baker) and not find one's faith shaken.

I was really excited when the show was revived in the turn of the century mark. Christopher Eccleston's Doctor was rocking and the show had a fun mix of camp and improved effects.

There was still the familiar, uneven writing, but it was overall enjoyable.

Then Steven Moffatt came along.

Moffatt wrote "Blink", the episode that remains my favorite of the series in terms of solid delivery. For all Moffatt's skills in writing stories, his ability as a showrunner was an epic disaster. His story arcs were incoherent garbage. And his efforts to deconstruct the Doctor as a character served only to make the show unwatchable.

When Peter Capaldi came on board as the Doctor, I was jazzed. He was great in "The Thick of It" and his portrayal of the Doctor has been awesome, but the writing... god, the writing...

I gave up after the horrific finale where they finally did away with Clara (an overdone and incoherent companion). The show was just too awful for me to stomach.

I never saw the season with the new Companion. I tried, but... god, it was still terrible.

Now there's a new showrunner and a new Doctor. I want to feel enthusiastic and watch it again, but I can't do it. I feel nothing for the show I loved in my childhood. It feels dead to me.

And that takes me to another bit of my childhood: Star Wars.

Like most kids my age, I grew up to Star Wars. In the schoolyard we pretended to be Jedi smugglers, the perfect combination of Luke Skywalker and Han Solo. Let's face it: we all wanted to be Han Solo. He had the cool spaceship, the blaster (he shot first!), and the cool Wookie partner. Luke had a laser sword and super powers, which was cool too. Leia was sassy, smart, and tough. As a boy, I was just starting to learn that those were traits I found attractive in women rather than traits that were annoying on the schoolyard.

Heh.

The prequels did a number on my love of the series. They were beautiful movies so devoid of coherent plot, able acting, and emotion that watching them was like spending a night eating cotton candy. Made me sick and hurt my teeth in the end.

When The Force Awakens came out, I have to admit I had low expectations. I thought it was going to suck ass. Wow, was I wrong! Sure, the movie was a rehash of A New Hope, but it was done well. John Boyega's Finn was (to me) the break-out character as a turncoat Stormtrooper - a character afraid but ultimately able to overcome that fear. Daisy Ridley's Rey was okay. It was nice to see a solid heroine in the lead, though I had some hopes that her journey would have a bit more substance to it. The villains were weak tea, but I had hopes they'd improve beyond their terrible names ("Snoke"? "Kylo Ren"? Seriously?)

And then we got The Last Jedi this month.

TLJ was, frankly, painful to watch.

It was visually good. The comic bits were funny and well-paced. Adam Driver's Ben Solo and Daisy Ridley's Rey had excellent chemistry. Driver actually won me over from ambivalence to liking his character. Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher were, as always, outstanding.

The rest was incoherent garbage. A space chase that made no sense. A side plot that wasted Finn entirely. A side character added clumsily to no real effect I can see. A revision of Luke Skywalker that was, quite frankly, character assassination by Rian Johnson (a self-proclaimed Star Wars fan). And Rey's character journey still felt... lacking, which was made worse by confusing and obtuse plot developments.

I have to say, I can't give two shits about Star Wars right now. I don't give a fuck about how Episode 9 will go. I don't care about other trilogies. I don't give a shit about a Han Solo spinoff movie. That bit of childhood nostalgia feels dead now.

Probably for the best.