Thursday, January 31, 2013

WTF, DC?

Man, how could someone not take this seriously?
You know what everyone who reads comics loves? Gimmicks! Yes, instead of focusing on delivering consistently good comics, DC is planning a month full of comic insanity! They are even going so far as to call it WTF Certified. Yes, let that sink in; a company is labeling its own product as WTF certified, thus throwing any idea of subtlety out the window. DC also chose to make this announcement via buzzfeed.com, thus ensuring in their minds that the announcement will go viral and cause some sort of exodus to the nearest comic shop. While many details have not come to the out yet, DC revealed half of every cover (They are fold outs) that they will publish that month along with this pseudo-cryptic message.

• Booster Gold reappears while an entire team disappears.
• One team is trapped in a bottle while another is changed completely.
• Some heroes change their colors and other change allegiances.
• Pandora battles to the death.
• A close encounter of The Dark Knight kind.
• There's a new, old Creeper and some old New Gods.
• One hero quits, and another hero dies.

Now, if DC really wanted to do something truly WTF worthy, they could try something different for a change instead of trying to grab readers with weird attempts at sensationalism (I know this is comics, but come on). Perhaps they could hire a writer who can write dialog, seeing as that is the majority of text in comic books. Maybe they could have Jeff Lemire write everything for a month so people know what a decent comic looks like. But why bother trying anything new when you can just rebrand?

-Peter

Doctor Who Prisoners of Time #1: Review

While I don't consider myself more than a mid level whovian, I have always been interested in exploring the pre-2005 Doctor Who characters. I haven't gotten around to watching the old stuff on Netflix yet, so when I saw a comic with the first Doctor's face on it, I was curious to see what it was about. "Prisoners of Time" is a 12 part mini series that will include every incarnation of the Doctor. Issue #1 was written by Scott and David Tipton (known for their Star Trek comics) with art by Simon Fraser (2000 AD) and is published by IDW.

The story is a pretty cut and dry Doctor Who plot. The 1st Doctor and his companions pop out of the TARDIS in the 19th century, meet someone of historic significance and stop a small alien invasion. The only real twist comes when the Doctor's companions seem to disappear after the defeat of the alien Animus. While this particular story wasn't spectacular, there seems to be a building story, and this was the basic introduction.

While the writing produced no real opinion, I must comment that I really did not care for the art of the book. There doesn't seem to be a distinct style that adds to the story and many of the faces look downright crappy. Despite the mediocrity of the interior, the cover art by Francesco Francavilla is a wonderful portrait of the 1st Doctor. If I weren't a Doctor Who fan, I would probably not go past the first issue, but I think the story will pick up pretty quickly in future issues.
I give Doctor Who: Prisoners of Time a 7 out of 10.

-Peter



Saturday, January 26, 2013

Dungeons and Dragons

Today I begin my first campaign as a dungeon master. I'm pretty pumped and ready to start leading a campaign after enjoying D&D for over a year now. The campaign is the one from the 4th edition red box, but instead of playing the D&D light rules included, my newbie players are following the standard 4e rules.

In addition to this campaign, a few other interesting developments have happened in the past week. I began my internship, and I will be starting a radio show with my friend and nerd compatriot, Caleb. My internship is centered around learning small business management and I will be working at the Bat Cave comic shop all semester. In addition to normal shopkeeping, I will be working on individual projects to help out in a few areas the store needs. The radio show Caleb and I are starting will be called "Holographic Charizard" and it centers around our love of nerdy topics and some appropriate music. The show starts next Saturday at 6 PM and you can listen in at KHDX.fm, the Hendrix online radio station.

-Peter

Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Continual Facepalm That is "King of the Nerds"

You know what? I shouldn't have watched it, but curiosity got the best of me and I decided to view the premiere episode of TBS's new reality competition show, "King of the Nerds". KOTN pits 11 nerds against each other in feats of nerdom with the ultimate goal being crowned king of a hard to define sub-culture and winning $100,000.

The contestants vary in both tolerability, intelligence, and nerd specialty. While the only one I kind of liked, Jon, loves math, physics, and heavy metal there are gamer nerds, computer science nerds, and so on. Enter the first issue of this show, what is nerd? Everyone is vying for some goal of being the best nerd, but what does that entail? The criteria of nerdom is too broad to really have a definite and conclusive champion. So, while someone may know the entire DC comics canon and have a Ph.D. in Physics, they could be taken down by something like Star Trek trivia. The concept of the show doesn't work. Now, following this flawed concept, we have 11 20-somethings following the commands of Booger and Lewis from "Revenge of the Nerds". Most of the contestants fall into the category of insufferable, while touting whatever stereotype fits them best. The end goal of the show seems to be to find a nerd identical to those on "The Big Bang Theory"(One of the many mediocre shows syndicated on TBS) without realizing that a nerd like that doesn't really exist.

While I cannot say that this show has redeeming qualities, I can say that the first episode was not quite as bad as I anticipated, but it seems unlikely that the show will improve. If you would like to waste 50 minutes of your life, the first episode, and all future ones can be streamed on TBS.com.

-Peter



Ownshelf.com Seeks To Give Everyone Their Own Digital Lending Library

While comics are my favorite reading material, I still like to work in some non-graphic literature. Since purchasing my iPad over the Summer I have stuck to eBooks via the kindle app and digital library services. However, a new contender for how I get my eBooks has recently launched. Ownshelf.com is a blend of eBooks and social media that will allow users to share their EPUB files. Ownshelf is currently in an open beta that you can join at ownshelf.com.

Ownshelf allows users to upload and share all of their DRM free EPUB books while borrowing and downloading other titles from friends and celebrity lists. Currently Nerdcore and literature loving rapper MC Lars (Whom I have previously written about) has a featured shelf that includes the works of Melville, Poe, and many others. Of course, Having MC Lars seems like a good choice considering his main demographic seems well read nerds who like new developments in digital sharing programs.

The process of getting books is pretty straightforward and there doesn't seem to be any real issue with the mechanism of EPUB sharing. Of course, if you plan on uplaoding, make sure that the file is both an EPUB and DRM free to ensure that you are sharing something that can't be legally shared. I think Ownshelf is a step in the right direction for eBooks as it has the social feel of sites like goodreads.com, but allows for the instant transfer of books from person to person. I was lucky enough to correspond with the founder Rick Marazzani, so check out my Q and A with him below.


Peter: How did you come up with the idea of sharing ebooks?
Rick: We are a house full of readers.  And as we shifted from paper books to ebooks, it became less easy to manage our family library. We have 4 nooks, an ipad, a Nexus tablet, 4 smartphones and two PCs between us.  When I bought a book for my daughter on my phone, I had to get it on my PC in order to get it to her nook for her to read.  It was a tangly mess.  We needed one central system for recommending and sharing ebooks together.

P: When do you think beta testing will move into a full release?
R: Beta phase is more than testing the site. It is also about allowing real users to give us feedback on features and polish.  It will likely be several months long.  The more beta users, the more the team can plan our resources to work on what the Users actually want.

P:Do you foresee future lists from all kinds of well known folks?
R: Featured and celebrity bookshelves are important to give new users shelves to browse.  Since we are early days, most users will not have any friends to share with, so we are seeding the shelves with interesting authors and personalities.  We will continue to feature great books and authors to promote new things.  We already have a handful of authors working with us now to seed the featured shelves with their content to introduce or promote a series or other works.  

P: What do you think the ideal user will get out of Ownshelf that they cannot get from other ebook services?
R: Our goal is to bring back something lost when reading went digital, the bookshelf.  The spot in our homes where we show off the books we love, and have them accessible to friends to browse and borrow.  No other ebook service puts friends and books together in the same place like a real bookshelf.  Friends will learn more about one another, and share their tastes directly.  No one keep lousy books on their shelves!


-Peter

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

It's Time To Speculate!

The Pokemon Company released the first preview of their upcoming Pokemon X and Y today. While the preview was two minutes long, it gave few details on setting story or new pokemon other than the starters and legendaries. Naturally this means fans will begin speculating, and I love speculating. If you haven't seen the trailer yet, check it out here.

And here we go!

Parisian or European?: Why is Pikachu on top of the Eiffel Tower? It is a well known tower used to broadcast radio and television, but I feel as though this was a hint at the inspiration for the new location. Buildings shown seem very European and a Pokemon-ish Eiffel Tower is present in this photo.
In addition to the buildings, the clothing could easily be Pokemon's version of European clothing (Did you see the Black and  White outfits?). The final point I will put in the European idea is the starter Fennekin, pictured below.
This pokemon seems clearly based on the Fennec Fox, an animal native to North Africa, parts of which were controlled by the French for many years. The Fennec Fox also appears in the famous French book "The Little Prince".

Major Changes In Game Play: The 3D format seems to have sparked a long overdue interest in adding to basic game play. The trailer shows several spots that look a lot like platformer games and easily could be. There seem to be roller skates available and these may be a replacement for the standard bicycle. Of course 3D battle scenes will be quite fun on the handheld and I am sure more changes will come out of the woodwork.

Global Release Date: The game will be released everywhere in October. No more waiting while Japanese consumers the new world without us, Wooh!

Hit me up with your thoughts concerning the trailer, I would love to here them.

-Peter

Oh Butts, 3D Pokemon coming in October.

After a week of hinting at a big announcement, the Pokemon Company came out with their plans for a new generation of Pokemon and a 3DS exclusive game. The games are titled Pokemon X and Pokemon Y, apparently they wanted to give it weird gender connontattions. I won't speculate too much, but the preview did include the new starters and the potential legendaries for the games. I am excited to see Pokemon using 3D in handheld form and I am hopeful that future remakes could be in this format.



-Peter

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Marvel Is Finally Bringing Their DCU to iOS

Marvel's ever-growing  digital collection will soon be available for iOS users. Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited is a subscription service available through the Marvel website. It allows subscribers to read thousands of classic and new-ish comics for a monthly or yearly fee. While the idea is great, the service had one fatal flaw for Apple users, it was Flash based. Since iPhones and iPads cannot use Flash, Apple loving comic book nerds, like myself, were unable to fully utilize a subscription.


Marvel is currently redesigning the service with HTML which will allow iOS subscribers to access the collection and read all the classic stories on the go. While I let my yearly subscription lapse due to low usage, I may resubscribe since I will be able to use my handy dandy iPad to read comics published 50 years ago. Check out the service at http://marvel.com/digital_comics?nav=1 . For more info, check out TechHive.

-Peter

Thursday, January 3, 2013

"Nerd Poker" Shows the Humor and Fun of Dungeons and Dragons


Dungeons and Dragons can get a lot of shit sometimes, I myself used to think it was a ridiculous activity. I was wrong, and in the years since I have come to recognize it as a pretty nifty thing to do. It seems clear that D&D suffers from some societal misunderstanding and an easy way to alleviate this misunderstanding is though easily accesible accurate representations of gameplay. One such representation comes in the form of a recently begun podcast entitled "Nerd Poker". "Nerd Poker" follows the bizarre and funny D&D game of comedian Brian Posehn and his friends. NP shows D&D in the best way possible; all the players are creative in their decision making, a key element to D&D, while maintaining the basic gameplay of 4th edition D&D. If you have ever been interested in learning D&D, or just want a new podcast to listen to, check out "Nerd Poker" at http://www.earwolf.com/show/nerd-poker/

-Peter

Winter Break Movie Quick Reviews

I saw a bunch of films over Winter Break and here are my quickie reviews on all of them. I'll be heading back to Arkansas tomorrow and then off to San Francisco for a week long service trip.

Django Unchained- 8/10

Tarantino's latest film  takes us on a predictable journey of vengeance and the atrocities of the antebellum South. I liked it significantly more than Inglorious Basterds, but as always I have some ethical issues with Tarantino.

Les Miserables- 6.5/10

While I enjoyed most performances, the camerawork made me feel like was standing awkwardly close to all the singers.

Lincoln- 9/10

Easily one of the better biopics I have ever seen and very exciting despite being based on history. Daniel Day Lewis and Sally Field were great as the first couple and I loved all the supporting roles. It will make you go back and read up on the Civil War era if you weren't already.

Silver Linings Playbook- 8/10

An off-kilter take on romance. Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence have realistically awkward but cute chemistry as they come to terms with their own psychological issues.

The Hobbit- 6.5/10

Fairly disappointing considering its film predecessors. I hope the next two are better. My full review


This is 40- 7/10

There were a lot of funny moments in this film, but the overarching storyline felt lacking. Instead of calling it the almost sequel to "Knocked Up", it felt more like a continuation to "Clueless"(which I happen to love).


-Peter