Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Batman vs Superman-could it work?

Let's face it, Marvel is winning.

I hate that we live in a time where this image is real
but not everyone is excited about it. 
They're owned by Disney. Marvel films are collecting far more praise and fangirls than any DC film since Dark Knight. Used to be kids wanted to exclusively dress up as Batman, now Halloween is full of Captain Americas, Iron Mans, and Hulks.

Will DC recover? Will kids dress up as Batman and Superman once again? Will the Dark Knight escape from the Riddler's sinister death trap?

Sorry, went somewhere different for a minute.

If you'd have asked me last week if I thought DC's upcoming "We're just as good as Marvel"'s Batman Vs. Superman film was going to go, I'd have told you that they're was little hope. The casting rumors has it filled to the brim with heroes that have sparked heated debates. The fact that it's directly tied to the bafflingly awful Man of Steel film and rumored to be connected to the unbelievably awful Green Lantern films, I just had no hope for the people who have taken thousands of dollars of my money for comic books.

Then I saw this:

Okay, they've got my interest.

Marvel, being owned by Disney, seems to be taking the classic good guy/bad guy angle when it comes to super hero films. Easy morals the kids can follow, over-dramatic villains for the snarky heroes to beat on (Loki and Winter Soldier of course excluded), and that's fine. DC though seems to be headed into the dark and gritty direction. Moral questions being brought up, complex villains and even the best heroes making mistakes.

Will it work?
Let's just be glad they didn't dress
her up in a string bikini. 

Honestly this is probably the only way DC could go to not look like they were flat out ripping off Marvel. Going the gritty dark root opens DC up to the more adult audience, the ones who like having a significant plot to go along with people in their underwear beating each other to death with cars. My worry is if DC is going to be able to make it work. The Dark Knight series only really worked because of Heath Leger showing everyone how a villain is done, and the third installment barely pulled the franchise together. As I said earlier, I was not at all impressed with Man of Steel's attempt at making Superman dark, my biggest reason being is that they tried to force it on him so much it smacked in effort, like trying to sell Hot Topic clothes at the MTC, it just didn't seem like a good fit.

This trailer seems to indicate though that Superman is being swept up in some sort of mass hysteria of people either thinking that he is god and here to save everyone or is not god and will doom us all, and Batman seems to be on the side of the doomsayers. If you look at Batman from an outsider perspective, he is a vigilante running around with unlicensed weapons assaulting countless victims a night and causing massive property damage so I can see how Superman would see him as dangerous as well, so I can see now why these two would end up in a brawl.
Nobody is making fun of Aquaman again. 

My last concern is one I mentioned earlier: the trailer only showed Batman and Superman. Where is everyone else? The above estimate at the plot seems like it would take a lot of screen time to establish, so where could they squeeze in Lex Luthor, Wonder Woman and Aquaman? Not to mention the rumors that have been floating around about Darkseid, Doomsday, Green Lantern, Flash, and Martian Manhunter. This is why Marvel took their time and gave most of the main characters their own movies to establish and breathe in before smashing them all together to trash New York. Avengers works because we already know these people, so what's going to happen when we have to stop the epic Superman/Batman brawl to explain who these people are and what they're doing?

Overall, I feel more hopeful for this film. I was going to see it either way because they'res nothing I love more than a good train wreck, but now I'm hoping Superman comes by and saves the day.

Either way, I'm seeing this train.

Or film.

Or whatever.


Monday, April 13, 2015

T.J.'s Sci-Fi Faves

Yeah, I have a cold. I've had one since Saturday. So why am I blogging about it? I'm not....I'm just being whiny. Sheesh, calm down.

And I'm finally steering away from religious posts (for now) and talking about something geeky.

I'd like to think I watch a lot of TV (maybe that's not as positive as I think it should be). Then I talk to a co-worker and realize I really don't. Over the last few years, actually, I feel like my television watching has gone down.

But today, I'd like to go through a list of TV shows in the sci-fi realm of things (includes non-animated comic-based shows) that are my favorites. I'm going through my top 8. So a shout out goes out for Lost and Sliders. I have never seen Firefly for fear of disappointment that it doesn't continue on. Gotham is too dark for me and I can't decide if I want to continue watching it. And I haven't watched enough of Farscape or Fringe or Warehouse 13 to give a fair comparison.

7T. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Out of the three 24th century Star Trek series, DS9 was sometimes hard to follow. Not to say I didn't like it. There were some great episodes (Bada-Bing, Bada-Bang has to be one of my favorites). There were also some less than stellar ones (The Visitor bugged me.) DS9 was a good space opera full of a few good continuing storylines. My problem with it is its ending. Sisko deserved better.

7T. Star Trek: Voyager Yes, they made it home. The "happily ever after" concept was met. Which is why I liked Voyager better than DS9. But marginally better. It has a lot of issues that bugged me. How many times can Janeway go against the Prime Directive in one episode and then follow it to a T in the next? It's hard to decide between DS9 and Voyager. One day I'll do a better comparison between the two. But for me, it's easier to call it a tie.

6. Batman (1966) Holy classic television, Batman! Campy style. Awesome (not really) puns. Many, many near-death-experiences-that-are-solved-by-employing-deus-ex-machina. When I was a little kid, this show was barely 20 years old when I was watching it. It's been almost 30 years since I became a fan of the dark knight and boy wonder, but in that time, this TV show still holds a place in my heart.

5. The Flash (2014) To be honest, I'm two episodes behind and will probably be three by tomorrow night. But that doesn't mean my wife and I don't intend to get caught up soon. The Flash has been the "calmest" show in the current wave of comic-based shows. It's got a great episodic feel with an overarching storyline that isn't too frustrating to follow. Grant Gustin's Barry Allen is well-written. Iris? Not so sure. But we'll talk about my favorite CW DC character in a few.

Now....2-4 (or 4-2) are hard to compare. And sometimes, it'll depend on the day. There's nostalgia, storytelling, characters, Emily Bett Rickards, Felicia Day....Anyway...all I'm saying is that it's hard to decide between Captain Picard, Felicity Smoak, and Dr. Holly Marten....

4. Eureka Do you know what TNG and Eureka have in common? Wil Wheaton. Where I wondered when Wes was gonna blow chunks when he was tired, I loved the "villain" he portrayed in this under-loved show. Its 5 seasons weren't enough, but the show did a great job in tying up its loose ends and giving the audience a well-rounded sci-fi story full of mystery, romance, and humor. There were many times I hated this show (Season 5 Episode 2) and still loved it (You're mostly forgiven, but that was awfully mean!) Eureka is classic show that just couldn't stand well on a station that I question what it's doing.

3. Star Trek: The Next Generation These are the voyages of the Starship watch Tasha Yar die unnecessarily, to see Musical Engineers followed by Musical Medical Staff, to see Tasha somehow change history, to meeting the failed Ferengi (they were meant to be a vicious race, but greed wasn't vicious enough), to see them replaced by the Borg (they may sound Swedish, but they're not), to see two spin-offs, to finally see it end in the way it began, with one of the best villains in Q. I was addicted to this show and somehow I don't feel like I've seen every single episode.

2. Arrow Yes, I jumped on this bandwagon. And no, I'm not sorry. Arrow is a great show. Its acting can use some help, unless we're talking about Felicity, maybe even Diggle. Stephen Amell is fun to watch when he's kicking butt, but when he's delivering lines to Laurel...or she's saying them back....blah. Not that I'm an acting expert. But I just don't believe the characters sometimes. Still, Deathstroke and Malcolm Merlyn have been awesome villains for the show. Add in Ra's Al Ghul this season and I gotta say that Arrow's villains are what has made this show great.

1. Doctor Who Am I referring to the modern Doctor Who with David Tennant and Matt Smith? Yes. Am I referring to classic Doctor Who with William Hartnell or Tom Baker? Yes. I love this show. Old. New. I don't care. For a while, Patrick Troughton was my favorite doctor. After watching more of Tom Baker, though, Troughton has slipped to 2nd. Sorry....would you like a Jelly Baby? And I must say that Clara is probably my most favorite companion. Sarah Jane gets second. Only being a Whovian for 15 months doesn't mean I know nothing about the show. Believe me, Wikipedia, Netflix, plus many many websites and of course, fellow Whovians give me enough knowledge to go for a bit more than your average "Tenant's the best" fan.

Okay, there's some reminiscing geekiness for you.

Alien abductions are involuntary but probings are scheduled.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Geek cross stitch-an old art gets a new shine

Normally here I would write something about Easter or General Conference, but frankly I spent most of the last weekend doped up on cold medicine and relearning to breathe since everything that is capable of creating pollen in Utah currently is and decided to kill me.

So here's what I was doing in my moments of coherency.

I learned to cross stitch one stormy day while sick in my teens. It was something productive to do while I sat on the couch watching M*A*S*H*, plus it was cheaper than my Yu-Gi-Oh! cards so it worked out for everyone. I fell out of the art in my early 20's since, as much as I love flowers and little birds, I just didn't want to keep making them over and over again. I hesitate to classify something as "girly", but it really doesn't help when a decent dragon pattern cost over $200, and everything for a decent price looks like it came out of an old ladies living room.

Then came Pinterest.

I won't go on again about one of my favorite websites, but needless to say I discovered an entire community of people who had taken cross stitch to a whole new place-geek cross stitch.

Since then I relearned my old art and started making these:

Black Mage of Final Fantasy/8 Bit Theater

Bowser from Mario 3. I bet he's easier to beat when he's made out of thread.

Calvin and Hobbs-AWWWWW!!!

Gir-he likes tacos

Of course I've got to make a Harley Quinn. 

Mew was harder to choose colors for. I like how he turned out though. 

Stewie rules. 

Stitch took forever just because of all that stupid blue. 
This was a birthday gift for my mom- a little baby zombie! He'll warm your heart before he eats it!

I couldn't pass up Raven. 
Seriously, if you're looking for a new fun craft to do check out geeky cross stitch! You'll love it!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Wounded Warriors

Before you read any farther, this post contains some spoilers for last week's episode of Arrow, “Suicidal Tendencies.” I won't give away any major plot points for story arc that has been going through the current season, but I will speak about some of the plots in this particular episode.

So if you don't want to know what happens in this episode, be warned now: SPOILER ALERT!

But rather than starting at the beginning of the episode, I'm going to start at the end. At the close of the episode, David Ramsey, the actor for John Diggle in the series, made a public service announcement about the Wounded Warrior Project, which you can watch here:

David Ramsey makes a public service announcement about
the Wounded Warrior Project
As Ramsey said, the Wounded Warrior Project helps veterans who may bear not only physical wounds, but emotional or psychological wounds as well. To learn more, you can visit their website:

For those that have followed the last season of Arrow, as the title suggests, last week's episode featured the return of the Suicide Squad. Lyla, as the squad's leader, is in charge of the mission. As she was pulled in from her honeymoon for the mission, she is joined by her newlywed husband, Diggle, in addition to regular members of the squad, Cupid and Deadshot (a.k.a. Floyd Lawton).

Diggle, Deadshot, Lyla and Cupid working on a mission as
the Suicide Squad
Most episodes of Arrow show flashbacks of Oliver's time on the island (and other places he went during his five years away from home), but this week's episode shows flashbacks of Deadshot's life. Though showing flashbacks for a villain has been done on Arrow before (just a few weeks ago, we saw Malcom Merlyn's origin story), I found this particular origin story intriguing.

The first flashback shows Floyd Lawton returning home to his wife and young daughter after spending time serving as a soldier in combat. We can see that he loves his wife and daughter, and that he had a happy family life before he left, and they seem to be on track to return to a normal life together.

Floyd Lawton and his wife

Lawton's daughter, Zoe
But as time goes on, it becomes apparent that even though Lawton doesn't carry any physical wounds from the time he was deployed, he does carry psychological and emotional wounds, showing signs of depression, anxiety and PTSD. He isn't able to hold down a job or socialize, and he frequently loses his temper with his daughter and wife. His wife pleads with him to get help, but at one point when he pulls a gun on her, she calls the police and he is arrested.

Once in jail, being prevented from contacting his wife or daughter due to a restraining order and having lost hold of everything he held dear, he is offered the chance to be a mercenary assassin. Having nothing else to live for, and feeling that killing is the only thing he's good at any more, he accepts, and soon takes on the code name, "Deadshot."

Floyd Lawton; Code Name: Deadshot
Even though Deadshot has repeatedly been shown to be a ruthless cold-blooded killer, knowing where he came from humanizes him.

In the main story line, as the Suicide Squad carries out their mission, Deadshot comes to remember the family he still loves. He is inspired by Lyla and Diggle's determination to make things work in spite of their challenges. And when the squad gets into a situation where they would all seem to be facing certain death, he sacrifices himself to give Lyla and Diggle the chance to have what he had lost, and in a small way redeems himself. His last action is looking at a picture of him with his wife and daughter that he has carried with him over the years.

Although Deadshot's example and the choices he makes are obviously more extreme than is the case for soldiers returning home from combat, it does show the challenges of adapting back to normal life that many of those who have been in combat face. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and other conditions are very real things that many experience.

In the past, very little help was available, as these seemingly invisible medical conditions weren't understood. Rather than a very real medical condition, those that suffered from non-visible wounds were often seen as having character flaws. In the past, the prevailing thoughts were that if they couldn't get over what they experienced, then they only had themselves to blame.

Fortunately, understanding of medicine and psychology have progressed over the years, and there are far more resources for veterans than there once were. Some still do slip through the cracks; some refuse to accept help. But thanks to organizations like the Wounded Warrior Project, more are getting the help, support and treatment that they need.

Like Deadshot, some of those returning from combat believe that either because of what happened to them, or because they can't get better on their own, that they are flawed, and they are at fault, as that was what many have been taught all their lives. Fortunately, that message is starting to change.

Though I have never served in the military myself, I hold tremendous respect for those who have, especially for those who have placed their lives on the line in serving their country and protecting our freedom. In the words of David Ramsey, “they've had our backs, now it's time we have theirs,” and give back to the brave men and women who have served.

To find out ways you can give back to those who have served and their families, visit