Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Delusions of Grandeur

While this phrase has been over-used in the Star Wars universe many times (and by countless others), this is the only thing that can possibly describe our annual Memorial Day picnic Sunday.

We invited our usual guests (3 local couples and their children, 2 out-of-town couples, 2 out-of-town singles, and my Dad).

And this year, we invited even more people (to include but not limited to friends from local clubs, co-workers, and neighbors).

And our turn-out?  Adults came in at 11, kids at 3.  Nowhere near as many as expected.

I can understand our out-of-towners not coming or having other plans, but I should have known when they started to cancel that things were not looking good.  We did have our usual kick-ball game (the men won by sheer talent and the fact that the women liked to cheat), plenty of eats (which we still have tons of leftovers), plenty of drinks (again, tons of leftovers), and a bonfire (plenty of leftover wood too).

And pictures?  I preferred to not document our failure at the big party we expected.  Maybe next year we’ll downsize it a bit.  Or go elsewhere.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Freaks - but aren't we all?

So I'm going through my RSS feeds and come across this little tidbit of movie history.

"Freaks" on Google Video

At just over an hour long, I was completely sucked in by the story. Granted, I was obviously intrigued by the "freaks," the story was remarkably well written. I think even with "normal" actors it would have been a good movie. Not on the level of Jimmy Stewart, but close.

But I was amazed (well, not really, but you know what I mean) at the amount of social impact this movie had. To think that it could still be technically illegal to purchase it in some states is scary. Yes, the people were not the cookie-cutter WASP you see on TV ads, but come on. Welcome to the next century.

The other thing that was amazing was the shear talent of these people. I don't know if it came from years of performing in circus shows, but they were good actors. And they also had other talents that most of us couldn't do without years of practice.

But in the end, I was brought back to reality a bit. These "freaks" are just as human as the rest of us. It doesn't matter if you're the "Human Worm" in Freaks, an LP on Little People, Big World, or a 6 foot tall white guy working in a cube. We're all people.

And we're all just as freaky as the next person.

The Swarm War Review

The Swarm War (Dark Nest Trilogy #3)
by Troy Denning

Rating: 4 out of 5

If you’ve read my reviews for the first two books in this series, I’ve been pretty harsh on the series (and Troy) so far. While I don’t like to bash authors and their work, I’m standing by my previous reviews (and the opinions within). I had a very hard time getting involved in this series, primarily because of the main premise of sentient insects. Sure, insect species have been sentient in movies and even Star Wars books before, but not on such a major scale.

With that in mind, I’d like to sing some praises for this particular book. Yes, the bugs are still there. Yes, they’re still sentient. Yes, they still play a major role in the story. But (saw that coming didn’t you), this book actually redeemed the series a bit for me. While I have a hard time recommending the series to anyone, I will certainly plug the last book as the best.

And I think that caught me by surprise. Most trilogies have a strong first book and kind of trail off until the end of the third book. This one worked out to be the opposite of that. It started strong in the first book, then died off right away and didn’t get interesting (at least for me) until the third book.

Some interesting points that may inspire you to read this particular novel:
  • Luke appoints himself the Grand Master of the Jedi

  • Leia becomes an official Jedi Knight

  • Jaina (and Zekk) fight against the Galactic Alliance and the Jedi

  • Raynar Thul (UnuThul for most of this series) sees the writing on the wall and manages to survive Luke’s attack

  • Lomi Plo (the Dark Nest Queen) gets her butt kicked by Luke

  • Admiral Bwua’tu (a Bothan) of the Galactic Alliance Fleet proves to be a great military mind (possibly exceeding Thrawn’s intelligence)

  • Lando is still making money by supplying military materials to the New Republic

  • Jagged Fel (Jaina’s former Chiss lover) gets shot down by Leia (and is assumed to be alive)

  • Tarfang (that crazy Ewok) returns for even more laughs

  • Jacen and Tenel Ka have a child (sneaking that one in at the end to see if you’re paying attention)

So there it is. There’s plenty to read about, plenty of action, plenty of drama, and plenty to look forward to. The next book (chronologically), Betrayal (Legacy of the Force #1) by Aaron Allston, is going to be an awesome book from what I hear. Up next for me is City of Saints and Madmen by Jeff VanDermeer.

On a side note, this is the review I’ve done in HTML. Let me know if there’s a need to have it in PDF or Word format.

© 2006 TK42ONE.com Productions

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Dark Empire Review

Dark Empire
by Tom Veitch and Cam Kennedy

Rating: 2 out of 5

Originally released as a comic series and later compiled into a trade paperback graphic novel and later produced into a full cast audio drama, this is the story of Luke going to the Dark Side and fighting alongside the cloned Emperor.

Sounds exciting.

Too bad it isn’t.

Maybe there was something lost in the translation from comic book page to audio drama, I don’t know. I’m not here to make excuses for a poor story and that’s what this was. Despite having a full cast to read lines (with Billy Dee Williams as the only actor from the movie to perform) and the usual sound effects, this story suffered from the beginning. Poor action sequences, re-used lines from the movies, and cheesy plots, I began to wonder if I was back in the 70s watching Frank and Joe Hardy fight crime on TV.

After suffering through this (thankfully) short show, the only redeeming quality I could find was having a full cast. It was nice to have a woman be Leia and a man be Luke and a different man be Han. I hate giving bad reviews, especially in a genre or series that I enjoy so much. But I have to call it like I see it.

And I saw this as a bad audio book. Try the comic. Maybe it’s better.

On a side note, this will be the first review I do in HTML. Let me know if there’s a need to have it in PDF or Word format.

© 2006 TK42ONE.com Productions

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Adam Poots vs Atari

Adam Poots vs Atari

I'm not sure what the exact goal is for this guy, but I enjoyed the video.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Mom's Quilts Go To France

So my mom has two quilts going to France for a show (and Houston and Chicago). One is called "The Price," the other "My Little Beach Bum" (as in me when I was a kid).

Here's a link to the photos and a link to the flyer for the show (in PDF).

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Ruin Review

Ruin (Dark Tide #2)
by Michael A. Stackpole

Review By: Neil Richard

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Ruin pretty much fits the story. Not that the story was bad, it wasn’t. It’s the plot that was full of ruin (and I mean that in a good way).

The Vong continue to invade the galaxy and continue to show no mercy for the infidels (that’s any non-Vong species). The New Republic is caught with their pants down. They don’t see the initial attack coming then assume the Jedi can fix it for them.

The Jedi turn out to be no match for the Vong. Their lightsabers do little damage and the Force appears to be absent in them. Kind of like a Jedi trying to fight ten Noghri while blocked from the Force by the ysalamiri. Not good.

In an effort to understanding the Vong and in hopes of delaying their invasion (or coming to a peaceful resolution), the New Republic sends Elegos, an ambassador. The Vong’s reply is pretty clear (as are their motives) when they send his polished bones back to the New Republic.

Then comes the Battle of Ithor. Populated by the peaceful and nature-loving Ithorians (Hammerheads), the Vong destroy their world. There was hope of a native pollen being used as a biological agent against the Vong, but burning the entire planet dashed that hope.

Lives were ruined. Planets were ruined. Negotiations were ruined. Hope was ruined.

And I loved it all.

The review is also available in Word and PDF.

© 2006 TK42ONE.com Productions

Assault At Selonia Review

Assault At Selonia (Corellian Trilogy #2)
by Roger MacBride Allen

Review By: Neil Richard

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

How odd that this book (the second in this series) begins with the same scenario (Han being imprisoned) as the last book I read had ended (also the second of a series). But anyway, on with the review.

Classic, classic, classic. I hate to say it, but I’m getting tired of the classics. Well, I call them classics. Those classic tales of our classic heroes stuck in classic hard spots being saved with classic moves from the classic supporting characters. How classic. And how sickening.

The only thing that brought this book beyond the edge of (but still affected by the gravity of) classic oblivion is the minor characters. Granted, not so minor in this series, but minor overall. First, there was Han’s cousin, Thracken Sal-Solo. One mean dude that looks a lot like Han. Then there’s the Selonian (whose name escapes me at the moment) that gave Han a good thrashing. How nice to hear a different language used in the galaxy besides Basic.

So, while I skipped the first and third installment of this series due to lack of material (didn’t have it on audio CD), it was a decent listen. Nothing too terribly exciting, but some interesting history lessons for those moving beyond the classics into literature.

The review is also available in Word and PDF.

© 2006 TK42ONE.com Productions

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

TGIF a few days late

Lots going on the past few weeks.  Seems like tax season just ended and I’m already busy with other things at work and home.  To start with we had our annual Spring Fling the week after tax season ended.  That meant hours of planning and prep work to pull off a great Intuit Idol show.  And after all the positive comments, I can’t wait to finish making the DVD (we had 3 cameras running to cover the show).

After that, there’s the driveway.  We had a guy pull up late one night (just before dark) and ask if we wanted an asphalt driveway.  We had talked about it many times before (and even had somebody give us an estimate), but we’d never done much beyond that.  So at a discounted rate, he and his crew dropped a truck load of hot tar on our driveway.  Figures they ran out about 6 feet from the road, so they had to come back the next morning to finish.  But it’s done and looks decent.  And I don’t have to walk in the mud anymore.

Then there’s the shed.  I finally sealed the floor.  Extremely disappointed in the accuracy of the coverage area listed on the box.  I had two boxes, each said it would cover 250 sq ft.  That’s 500 sq feet of sealer.  Everything looked great until I started to paint.  I used a good portion cutting in the edges, then had to use every last drop to finish (for a point of reference, our shed is 14’x24’, a total of 336 sq ft.  The good news is it looks okay.  Not great, but okay.  Sweeps much easier too.  The gutter guy also came.  Installed the industrial size gutters and downspouts.  They look great and work great.

Then there’s everything else.  I take a concealed handgun class tonight to get my permit (already bought a Springfield 9mm XD compact).  I get some minor dental work done tomorrow followed by a service visit from Sears and a termite treatment for the shed.  We’re still looking into roommates for our trip to the beach this summer.  We’ve scheduled our visits to the local dinner theater for the year (with Cats on the schedule, we had to do it early).  And all sorts of the usual stuff going on with Yvonne and Elizabeth.

Oh, can’t forget the new pictures.


Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The Unseen Queen Review

The Unseen Queen (Dark Nest Trilogy #2)
by Troy Denning

Review By: Neil Richard

Rating: 3 out of 5

Bugs. Why did it have to be bugs. I hate bugs. And I hate books about bugs.

Well, hate is a strong word to use here. Maybe “a strong dislike” is better. But bugs? Seriously, a story about bugs? Who came up with this idea? I can only hope it wasn’t Denning. If it was, I may lose a large amount of my respect for his skill.

So Leia, Han, Luke, and Mara are all pretty old now (in their 40s). Jacen and Jaina have grown to become some of the stronger Jedi around (and Jacen is arguably stronger than Luke). Ben (Luke’s son) is about 8 and could be stronger than Jacen (if he wouldn’t shut himself off from the Force so much).

The bugs in the story include the Killiks, Gorog, and Unu (odd, the names are all palindromes). There’s good bugs and bad bugs but the good bugs might actually be bad (if they aren’t under the control of the bad bugs).

Either way a story about bugs makes you want to buy a can of bug spray. The good news is that Jacen and Ben continue to show more of their power and Tarfang is back in style. There’s other good news concerning Jacen, but I won’t spoil that part.

The rest of the story needs to go into a roach motel and never check out. Actually the story (and action) was great all the way around, as are the sub-plots and backstabbing. But I still hate bugs.

The review is also available in Word and PDF.

© 2006 TK42ONE.com Productions