Podcast: Misfit Brew

Mick Bradley was able to salvage a little bit of the conversation he, Chris Miller and I recorded for The Round Table last week, and he included it in his other podcast, Misfit Brew. It’s very geeky stuff, with Chris talking about the motivation of villains and how three-dimensional villains can make for better fiction and role-playing, then me rambling a bit about Star Wars from the Imperial point-of-view. If that sounds interesting to you, get over to the Misfit Brew and download the episode. Even better, subscribe to the podcast.

We’re supposed to record a new episode of The Round Table this evening. I’ll post more about that later in the week.

EDIT: As of this writing (28 Feb, 2006 @ 2:07PM EST), The Harping Monkey and Misfit Brew websites are apparently down. I’ll update once they’re up and running again.

EDIT: The Harping Monkey and Misfit Brew sites are up and running. Go download some episodes of The Round Table and Misfit Brew!

Welcome to Parenthood: Friday’s child is loving and giving…

Friday the 13th’s child is apparently bad luck, if you’re a 1994 Pontiac Sunbird.

Laura has taken Kyle out three, possibly four times in her car, the aforementioned 1994 Pontiac Sunbird. On two of those occasions, we had to have the car towed.

On Wednesday of last week, after bringing Kyle to see me at work, Laura found herself at an intersection in a car that would not go. The car ((I used to call my 1980 Chevy Malibu—which was totaled on Groundhog’s Day, 1995—”Puff the Tragic Wagon,” and I would transfer the name to Laura’s car, but I don’t want to incur any more unfortunate vehicular woes.)) would start, but stalled as soon as she put it in gear. Laura called the police and a cruiser shortly arrived to push her out of the intersection. AAA sent a tow truck to transport the car to our mechanic, and one torque control convertor, two front stabilizers, a couple of transmission hoses, two front rotors, four brake pads, one oil change, two days and six hundred junior bacon cheeseburgers later, Laura had her little blue sedan back.

Now it is today. Laura ran some errands with Kyle in tow. ((Actually, he was in a car seat.)) At the insurance agent’s office, she noticed that the car appeared to be… leaking. She drove a (very) short way to Panera Bread for a late lunch and called me. I advised her not to move the car anymore and drove out to meet her and assess the situation. By the time I arrived it looked as though Laura had parked on top of a hobo; the ground beneath the driver’s side tire was soaked with transmission fluid.

One tow truck later…

By the time we got to the mechanic, they were long since closed, but they know the car will be waiting for them in the morning. I’m hoping it’s just a hose, and I’m hoping that they’ll just fix it and send us on our way without requiring additional junior bacon cheeseburgers. After all, the car certainly wasn’t leaking transmission fluid before they fixed the transmission.

Perhaps Friday’s child is attempting to do away with the 1994 Pontiac Sunbird, fearing that it might pass into his possession on 13 January 2022. If that’s the case, it strongly suggests that his telekinetic powers are already quite well developed.

Where did I put that damn midi-chlorian count tester?

Things You Didn’t Need To Know: Anagrams

Over the years, I’ve used a couple of different anagrams of my first and middle names (“Kris” and “Alan,” respectively) for gamertags or names in various different places. When I used to play a lot of CounterStrike, my gamertag was “Karnalis,” which I also used in several Xbox games. Another anagram that I used far less frequently is “Salnikar.”

Yesterday, an unfortunate new anagram occurred to me: Anal Risk.

That’s just unpleasant. I’ve long been aware that my first name is an anagram of “risk” (and, appropriately, “irks”), and my middle name can be reordered to spell “anal” (and, not at all appropriately, “Lana”), but it has never before occurred to me to combine the two anagrams in that order.

Anyway, if I ever form a death metal band, I think I know what I’ll call it.

Podcast: The Round Table. We are experiencing technical difficulties…

Due to a technical glitch, the discussion that Chris Miller, Mick Bradley and I had on Tuesday evening is unusable. I don’t want to get into the details of the glitch, but I’m told it has something to do with theta waves. The issue has been resolved, so there shouldn’t be a problem with future recordings. There are talks of getting together next week and doing another round table on a different topic.

New Look

If you’re not reading this from the RSS feed, you’ve likely noticed that I installed Scott Wallick‘s “plaintxtBlog” theme for WordPress last night (if you don’t see any changes, press Ctrl-F5 to refresh the page). I wasn’t happy with certain aspects of the old theme (which I designed) and I thought it was time for a change. I’m looking for a nice way to bring back the Recent Comments and Tag Cloud features that were active in the old theme, but it’s going to require some creativity (or a plugin) to get them integrated in a manner that pleases my eye.

In the meantime, let me know what you think about the new theme. How are the colors? Fonts? Font sizes? What’s your general opinion of the layout?

Podcast: Coverville

If you haven’t checked out Coverville — and you’re a video game geek — Tuesday’s episode (#181) may be right up your alley. Coverville, hosted by Brian Ibbott and released three times a week, is a podcast devoted solely to covers, songs by popular artists performed by … someone else. Episode 181 is the Video Game Cover Show and features music from the Sonic, Super Mario and Zelda video game series as performed by Martin Jeung, the Minibosses, the Video Game Cover Band and more.

Check it out!

Podcast: The Round Table

Chris Miller of Unquiet Desperation invited me to join in the discussion at The Round Table, a podcast from the House of the Harping Monkey. Mick Bradley, host of The Round Table was foolish enough to invite me back and I think I’m going to take him up on it.

The show we recorded tonight should be available for download by the end of the week. It will kick off season two of The Round Table, and if you want to hear three guys discuss the darker side of mythology, give it a listen. I’ll post a reminder and links once I know the show has been posted.

Movie Review: Ultimate Avengers (2006)

Ultimate Avengers (2006)

Starring Justin Gross, David Boat, Grey DeLisle, Michael Massee, Nan McNamara, Nolan North, Fred Tatasciore, Andre Ware, Marc Worden and Princess Jehnna.

Directed by Curt Geda and Steven E. Gordon.

Ultimate Avengers, based on the Marvel comic series The Ultimates, is the first animated film produced by Marvel Comics and Lions Gate Films. It was released directly to DVD, and a sequel is slated for release (also direct-to-DVD) in July 2006.

Marvel’s “Ultimate” universe updates some of their classic superheroes (Spider-Man, The Fantastic Four, The X-Men and The Avengers), retelling their origins in a more modern day setting. Some might say the Ultimate universe is Marvel’s way of milking their old standards one more time. After all, how many times can you re-tool the story of a kid getting bit by a spider? Personally, I think the concept works pretty well, and I’ve been collecting some of the Utimate collections as they are released in multi-issue trade paperbacks.

Ultimate Avengers does a fairly decent job of following the basic story set out in The Ultimates comic book, with a few minor and a couple not-so-minor differences. On the “minor” side of things, the comic book version of Thor, the tree-hugging son of Odin, has a goatee; his animated counterpart does not. Not a big deal. The movie, on the other hand, has an alien threat, something not in the first few issues of the comic book. I admit to being a bit behind on collecting The Ultimates (I actually have more issues of The Ultimate Spider-Man), so it may well be that the aliens are introduced later.

One thing I was really hoping to see in Ultimate Avengers was an exchange between Captain America (Justin Gross) and Bruce “The Incredible Hulk” Banner (Michael Massee). In an incredibly irresponsible move, Banner allowed himself to become the Incredible Hulk, despite the fact that the Hulk is an uncontrollable menace. Captain America and the rest of the Ultimates have gone through hell to stop the Hulk’s rampage, and Cap is helping Bruce Banner out of a huge crater in the middle of the city. “We should get someone to look at that gash on your head,” Cap says. “What gash?” Banner asks, nonplussed; his forehead is unblemished. As a reply, Cap kicks Banner in the head. ((I’m paraphrasing this, as I think I’ve loaned my copy of The Ultimates to someone.))

As portrayed in Ultimate Avengers, Captain America would probably never kick Bruce Banner in the head, no matter how much Banner deserved it, and it was pretty obvious from the start that the exchange wasn’t going to happen, but I was disappointed that it didn’t, nonetheless. The battle between the Hulk and the Ultimates/Avengers was there, but the events that incited it and the manner in which it concluded were different from those in the comic book.

Differences aside, Utimate Avengers does tell the story of how the supergroup is formed (including Captain America’s final battle in World War II, which left him frozen in ice), and it establishes the alien threat that appears to be the basis for the animated franchise. It touches on some of the basic drama between the various characters (Hank and Janet Pym have a troubled relationship, Thor really wants nothing to do with the Ultimates, Bruce Banner is a tortured, self-centered genius, and almost everyone Captain America knew is dead), but isn’t as edgy as its comic book counterpart.

As far as animation goes, Ultimate Avengers was about average. Most of it is traditional cel animation, with the occasional computer-generated tweak here and there. The style is less cartoony than the current crop of DC animated series, reminding me more of some of the recent X-Men and Spider-Man animated series. The voice-acting was decent, but the Nick Fury character in the comic book is so clearly based on Samuel L. Jackson that poor Andre Ware really had to fight an uphill battle to make the character his own.

The DVD contains a history of the Avengers, clips fans submitted in response to a casting call Lions Gate did in late 2004, a couple of trailers, a DVD-ROM “What Avenger Are You?” game ((I most resemble Iron Man. This may or may not be because I chose “Robotics” as the career that most interested me. I’m sure it has nothing to do with the fact that I’m an alcoholic, billionaire playboy with a bad heart.)) and a trivia track, which is basically the Pop Up Video version of the movie. The history of the Avengers focuses heavily on the classic Avengers and Kurt Busiek’s New Avengers, but very little on The Ultimates, which is rather disappointing. I haven’t watched the entire trivia track yet, but I do know that Captain America’s first appearance was in Captain America #1, way back in 1941. Actually, I knew that without the trivia track, but those are the sorts of tidbits that pop up on the screen. ((The trivia track really needed another pass through proofreading. Watching the first twenty-five minutes or so of the movie with the trivia track turned on, I saw about a dozen spelling errors and an instance where one popup contradicted one that had appeared earlier.))

All in all, Ultimate Avengers isn’t bad. I think Cap could be a little edgier, and the non-alien storyline in the first few issues of the comic book allows the characters and their relationships with one another to take the forefront, but I don’t think a horny Hulk chasing Betty around Manhattan would quite fit the tone (or the audience) of this particular animated movie.

Coming to DVD: Threshold

Slice of Sci-Fi reports that the short-lived alien invasion series Threshold will be available on DVD this summer. Like The Tick and Firefly, the DVD will include episodes not aired during the show’s initial run. That’s a whopping six episodes of Threshold I haven’t seen (but Canadians have; where’s the justice?), which might be enough to entice me to buy the DVD set.

Bit o’ Treshold trivia: one of the episodes took place in Painesville, Ohio, where Laura was born. I still say she’s not an alien.