Recently, I posted on Facebook about catching up on season three of “The Vampire Diaries.” My statement of love for the show was initially met with skepticism and some support. I felt a blog post coming on.
Why do I love “The Vampire Diaries?” If it wasn’t so awesome, I’d probably say something like: “I love trashy shows with pretty people.” As I said, that would be doing the show a disservice. Sure, it initially sounds like Just Another Vampire Show. The first bit of plot centers around teenager Elena (Nina Dobrev) and the vampire she falls for, Stefan (Paul Wesley). Then, we add in Stefan’s brother Damon (Ian Somerhalder) for more drama.
They add witches, werewolves, and their own twist on the vampire mythology. Say what you want about people tweaking how vampires traditionally work, at least these vampires don’t sparkle. As long as there’s some semblance of consistency and respect for “traditional vampirism,” I have no problems with changing some of the rules to suit a particular story.
Despite its initially slow start as just another CW teen drama, “The Vampire Diaries” rises above its roots to become more nuanced as the seasons continue. I just finished the third and am fascinated to see just how far the show has come during these three seasons. It’s been fun watching the characters grow and change throughout the show. It’s been especially fun to watch the talented actors breathe life into each twist and turn that their characters take.
It’s not a perfect show and I do have some criticisms (though only minor ones). That said, when “The Vampire Diaries” returns in October, you can bet your sharpest fangs and claws that I’ll be glued to the screen.
Apparently, I needed at least a week to get myself in order before I was able to start typing up a blog entry. As many of you may know, I was at Dragon*Con in Atlanta over Labor Day Weekend. It was my sixth one. I count them based off of who I roomed with that year. It’s a useful metric and rather reasonable since I’ve never roomed with anyone twice.
Anyway! The Con! We arrived Thursday after the long, long drive from Maryland to Atlanta. Yes, I drive. Why? It makes more sense than the hassle of flying. This year, my car ride included my brother, his wife, and our friend Mike. They were all Dragon*Con n00bs who are already making their plans to return next year.
Badge pick-up remained super-easy after the start of the barcode program last year. A part of me misses the shared misery of the 4-hour badge line. The rest of me thinks that part is insane and ought to be institutionalized. I love being able to get my badge in less than ten minutes.
I didn’t stay out too late Thursday night. I’ve discovered that I’ve yet to hit the true partying groove of Dragon*Con. I’ve become less inclined to party now that I’ve jumped on the panel train. Last year, I appeared on 7 panels for the American Sci-Fi and Fantasy Media (AMSFFM) track. This year, I appeared on 9 panels spread out over three tracks: AMSFFM, American Sci-Fi Classics, and a brief appearance as partly me/partly my crazy Twitter alter-ego on the Star Wars track.
Anyway, now that I do the panel thing, I’ve gotten more neurotic about getting a decent amount of sleep each night. That means that I’m not partying. Someone needs to make sure I party next year. Seriously. If you see me, tell me about an awesome party and give me puppy dog eyes until I agree to show up. Then, remind me before the party so that I might actually do so.
Anyway! Let’s go to a couple of my panel highlights. Right off the top of my head, I want to thank Gary Mitchel, Joe Crowe, and Kellen Harkins for letting me be on their respective tracks’ panels. I got to use my BA in History to talk about the Cold War’s effects on film, particularly genre films. I got to talk about how the rise in our materialistic culture in the 80′s led to a less awesome treatment of women in TV and films. I also got to share my “down the rabbit hole” revelation about Mokey Fraggle and Zhaan from “Farscape.” I got to giggle about my favorite SyFy films and tell my Bigfoot story.
I lamented about cancelled shows. Twice (though one was for shows of yesteryear and the other for more recently cancelled fare). We geeked out about upcoming genre shows. I don’t care what the plot of “Arrow” might be, I’m checking in just for the hot protagonist and hoping for the best. We ultimately concluded that remakes were okay if they didn’t suck. We discussed the rules of time travel and the folks who might govern it. I got to talk about why the Sith are awesome.
Those are just some highlights from the panels I spoke on. I’m probably missing a bunch of awesome stuff, but it has been a week of mostly dead which coincided with my return to the land of the working after a few months of unemployment. I got to see some panels too. I got to hear David Gaider talk about sex in video games and some of the controversies that BioWare has been a part of and addressed. That was pretty cool.
Of course, there were the costumes and getting to see my n00b friends and family get introduced to the awesomeness of Dragon*Con. I got to see Billy Boyd walking down the street and rode the elevator with the voice of Gir. All in all, it was a good Con and I made some friends and lasting memories.
Seriously. If you’re a geek or a nerd or nerd/geek curious, you should check out Dragon*Con. I’ve never not had fun. Except for that one time a couple of years ago when. . .well, it wasn’t the Con’s fault. I blame booze and it wasn’t even booze I’d consumed.
In any event! Dragon*Con! It’s awesome! Also! Hey! A blog post! Whoa!
I have a lot of talented friends. I feel fortunate and blessed to be acquainted with so many creative and awesome people. Monday and the Murdered Man was written by one such friend, Andy Kirschbaum.
Naturally, you’re going to assume that the following review is going to be favorable based on that connection alone. Of course I would like my friend’s book, right? Why wouldn’t I? Being anything less than honest about my feelings about the book would be a disservice to my friend. I’m only telling you all this up-front so that you don’t find out later and find my review suspect.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, I’m going to tell you that I loved the book.
Monday and the Murdered Man follows the story of Zack Monday, a private detective who lives in an urban fantasy realm where all sorts of mystical things are possible. One of Kirschbaum’s great literary gifts is his ability to create a world that feels so real. The ghosts and goblins feel as natural in this world as its trees.
At heart, the novel is really an old school noir tale. I can see Humphrey Bogart walking through the door at any moment, cigarette dangling from his lips. Zack Monday’s a man with issues and a few tricks hidden up his sleeve. Still, he’s just a guy trying to make his way through a complicated world.
From page one, Monday and the Murdered Man is hard to put down. It commands your attention, keeping you wondering what’s going to happen in the next sentence and find where the next chapter will lead you. With a compelling mystery and a fascinating protagonist, the first in Kirschbaum’s Fifth World series makes a promise that the rest of his books are bound to keep. It’s going to be a fun ride.
Recently, I purchased a Playstation 3, a TV, and the God of War trilogy (among other games). After playing Prototype, a game that’s too fun for its own good, I decided to dive right into playing God of War. Though I’m not terribly keen on my inability to change the camera angle in-game, it’s still a ton of fun.
What struck me most about the game, though, was the story. Without going too in-depth and letting loose a stream of spoilers, I just want to say that it’s very Greek. Yes, I said it. It’s very Greek.
What do I mean by that?
Let’s do a little backstory here. We’re going to take a trip back to my childhood when I’d go to the library and devour mythology books. I had a particular fondness for Greek and Norse mythology. Sure, I got the sanitized kid versions of the story and didn’t know just how. . .interesting things could get. Still, it didn’t take a classicist to draw thematic parallels between different Greek tales.
From Jason to Odysseus and Theseus to Hercules, there are a lot of common elements in Greek mythology. There are petty gods whose whims dictate the lives of others and heroes brought down by their own hubris. No matter the greatness of their deeds, their defeats are partly their own making and partly the whim of the Olympus-dwellers.
The story of Kratos in the God of War games follows that same literary tradition. Kratos is plagued by his own hubris and the will of the gods of Olympus. The games follow his journey. The fact that the game developers decided to stay true to the thematic origins of the source material they were using just makes me so very happy in my mythology loving nerdy place.
This is one of the things that many people don’t understand about video games. They’re not just pointless pieces of fluff used to while away the hours and distract the masses. They’re just another link in the long cultural legacy chain. Game developers and writers are pulling from the stories and tales that have been told for centuries. That’s one of the things that makes them awesome.
Also, Kratos is a badass who’s fun to play.
And I can SKYJACK HELICOPTERS in Prototype!!!!!!
For the past six-ish years, I’ve had a friend who’s been involved with the University of Maryland’s Gamer Symphony Orchestra. I have, of course, made a couple of other friends in the organization as a result, but that’s not the purpose of this random post. As the title would suggest, I’m here to talk about music and stories.
I decided to start off by mentioning the GSO because video game music has been on my mind a lot lately. It’s probably an occupational hazard, but I digress. Sitting there at the concert today, I was reminded of how much music can tell a story or help crystallize a memory. Music can tap into emotions and move us to tears or just make us have a real damn good day.
It occurred to me that composers are kind of like wizards. Before you scoff, hear me out. With the right words or elements (notes), they are able to create a mood and take the listener to far-off places. If I can close my eyes and see myself on a journey due to the music you’ve crafted, I call that magic.
I write to music. To be fair, I have the firm belief that life ought to have a soundtrack. Perhaps I’ve seen too many movies (blasphemy!). Some people can’t have distractions as they work. I’ve found that if I don’t have music, I get very easily distracted (instead of less easily distracted). Sometimes, I listen to a particular thing, sometimes I just let Pandora do my thinking for me. Every now and again, something amazing happens and the music just sort of drives the story I’m working on. It’s a beautiful thing.
This post sort of got away from me. That’s fine, I suppose. I’m writing. That’s my plan. I’m currently working on this crazy idea to try to write at least 750-1,000 words a day. It’s like NaNoWriMo without a clear end goal. All I want to do is practice, hone my craft, and start a good literary habit. For this, Pandora is an ideal companion. I don’t have a plan, I have whim.
I had this great metaphor lined up about music being wind or waves and my imagination being a kind of sailboat. Alas, it is not to be. Not right now anyway. I’ll let you all imagine those possibilities.
Expect more overt geekiness with my next post.
I have been remiss in posting these past two months and for that, I apologize. From here on out, I hope to have at least a post a week, be it small or large. In any event, that is not why I’m posting today. I’m posting here to talk about the loss of a real ground-breaking Fantasy writer: Anne McCaffrey.
When I was just learning to read, I hated it. I absolutely hated it. It was hard and not fun. Getting me to practice my reading was like pulling teeth. With all of the books I currently have in my room and all of the books in my house, it’s probably an astonishing thing to know about me. What can I say? I was a kid, reading was new, and it was a challenge I just didn’t want to tackle.
I was seven when Mom handed me Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey. I remember initially complaining about having this big (by my standards at the time) book to read. Then, I began reading it. It was like someone turned a switch on in my brain and I finally realized what all the fuss was about. There was something about Pern that drew me in. I loved reading about Menolly’s journey and about the fire lizards. Sure, there was subtext that I didn’t get, but it didn’t matter at the time. I found a book I loved to read and that opened the gates to the flood of books I have read since.
Admittedly, I’ve not read very many of McCaffrey’s books since. They were always on my “To Read” pile and I just never got around to them. Now that she’s gone, perhaps I will renew my attempt. Still, I will forever be grateful to her for plowing into a field dominated by men and helping pave the way for other female writers of Fantasy and Sci-fi. More importantly, I owe her a debt that I can never repay for opening my eyes and mind to the beauty of reading and the worlds to which I could fly.
Thank you, Ms. McCaffrey.
I was trying to go to sleep the other night when this random rhyme popped into my head. It stuck with me for a few days before, finally, I was able to think about something else. What rhyme, you ask? This one:
“Two great ladies will catch your fall, they are the ones who catch us all.
Their children kept them far apart; the Lady Light, the Lady Dark.
Dark broken, light storm, dead spoken, dreams torn…And we will bring you home.”
Your next question is probably: “What sort of things have you been smoking and where can I get some?”
Once upon a time, I had created a blog. I’d intended to add a podcast to the blog, but it (and the blog) fell by the wayside. This site was not created to make up for that loss. This site was created as a response to Dragon*Con.
Dragon*Con 2011 was my fifth Dragon*Con. I’d been chatting on a Facebook group about how I had always sort of wanted to be on a panel at a Con. I love talking about things. Someone on the group suggested I poke the American Sci-Fi Media Track because they needed panelists.
Ultimately, I ended up on seven panels. Seven. I talked about movies, TV shows, villainesses, fairy tales, and all sorts of things. The best part was that people seemed to enjoy what I was saying. In fact, some people actually wanted to hear/read more of what I had to say.
This is just the supply for a demand I didn’t know existed.
Expect general geekery on here. I will post random commentary on nerd news, events, links to my reviews for the Cavalcade of Schlock, and all sorts of things. Most importantly, I will be spewing all of the random nerd thoughts that come to my mind.
I’m still sleep-deprived from the Con and having gone to work today. There will be more. Oh yes, there will be more.