Sunday, January 25, 2015

TableTop by Geek & Sundry: Best Online Program

You might believe my love of Star Trek: The Next Generation skews my opinion of the show TableTop, hosted by Wil Wheaton. Yes, TNG is my favorite show. No, Wil Wheaton, cast member of the former hit show, does not dictate my opinion on what I believe is the best online program today. It just happens to be an added bonus that he co-created this genius show.

Actually, I've felt this way since the show originally aired.  Now, TableTop has started Season 3 and they started with a very fun game (that I had never heard of) called Tokaido.

I won't go into the details of the game, because I've never played the game or know the rules well enough after watching it be played on the hit show. I will say that TableTop brings a great experience to everyone that loves to hang out with friends, play board games, and learn something new along the way.

For me, I learn something almost every episode because my gaming experience is limited. I grew up on Nintendo and Super Nintendo, with games like Super Mario, Zelda, and Kid Icarus, and board games like Trivial Pursuit and Life. As I've gotten older, I realize how much I enjoy playing board and card games with my friends, because there are a combination of things that happen usually. First, we spend the afternoon or evening catching up on past events since last seeing each other. Next, we figure out what game(s) we're going to play, which then turns the evening into a different event each time because each game has its own makeup. Is it strategy-based and pits each player against each other? Is it collaborative as the group tries to defeat the evil board game monster? Is it a fun guessing game involving playing cards with fun images?

Lastly, playing board games is something I relish in a very selfish way. It allows me to have a sense of camaraderie with my wife and friends that like the same things. Granted, my wife will usually watch us play unless it's a card game, but card games are kind of how we met on a beach trip with friends a long time ago, and then those same card games allowed us to catch up when those said friends got married. Then we started dating and the remaining glorious history of our relationship sprung from there. Okay, I threw some personal history in there; now back to TableTop.

TableTop is a show on Geek & Sundry, created by Felicia Day, which allows its viewers to watch Wil and a few guests play a game. At the beginning and throughout the show, the rules are explained so every person watching can better understand the mechanics of each game.

What do I love most about TableTop? The interaction between all of the players is so fun to watch, and it reminds me of when I play with my friends. Everyone is there to have fun and play a game, possibly for the first time, and they'll probably settle down to play again further down the road. I enjoy watching the enthusiasm when they play; it's contagious and it makes me want to find out what game they'll be playing next or what games other viewers play in their spare time.

This is just one writer's opinion. I'm not employed by Geek & Sundry. I'm not paid to feel this way or write this piece. I just really love TableTop and look forward to the next episode, and the next season after one concludes. Season 3 was made possible by fans of TableTop who donated money to fund its production. How amazing is that? It's pretty amazing! So many people have spent time and money to support this entertaining show that also happens to springboard a positive message. It is absolutely okay to enjoy spending time with friends and play games. It allows everyone to be themselves, or pretend to be someone else; depends on the game. TableTop encourages inclusion among its guests and viewers, and I believe Wil really understands the role that board games can play in our lives.

Board games are meant to be fun. They can be extremely competitive, but it can be done in a way that isn't threatening or demeaning in any way. Game play can also be very laid back and allow friends to play a game without having too much strategy, which can allow for friends to banter back and forth about other topics. In my life, I love hearing about my friends' work and their trips to conventions in their spare time; it makes me feel like so much time hasn't passed since our last encounter. I believe this show represents a kindness that can be forgotten in today's electronic world. Guests of the show can be scientists, writers, actors, tattooed, dyed hair, and overall represent a diverse population, which expresses the true nature of the show. TableTop is meant to incorporate everyone and never exclude anyone. If you like to play board games, then watch this show or seek out local games. It's meant to promote friendship and friendly-spirited game play.

My wife's a teacher. I'm a writer. I have friends that are physicists, college students while working full-time, in law enforcement or military, teachers, counselors, work in higher education, recreation, sales, and some are in the art world. The point is that we've all played games together at some point and it remains a vivid memory to this day. That's the point, isn't it? The moments we share will be there to remember and to do all over again.

That's what TableTop represents to me.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Super Hero Movies: A Look at Black Widow

I wonder at what point will we no longer have to say, "I wish they'd make an X super hero movie already." When will it be okay to say, "Did you see the new Black Widow movie?!" instead of "When are they making a female super hero movie?!"*

As well, what's wrong with Falcon becoming Captain America? Is it because you don't like his wings? Should Captain America not fly?

Was there this much outrage when Robin became Nightwing, another Robin showed up to become Red Hood, while another Robin showed up; did I miss anything? Oh yeah, there's also Red Robin.

For today's topic, let's focus on the lack of super hero movies. Yes, they have Wonder Woman scheduled, as well as Captain Marvel. I'm wondering what formula is being used to determine who gets a super hero movie and when they feel it will be the best time. Changing the question* we ask about today's super hero movies will only change when someone makes a decision to want to make it and then follow through with it.

Obviously, there are many challenges if many people say "no" to your ideas, but how many people that ask for these movies would eventually get a "yes" because so many actually want to make these said movies?

One "knock" on Scarlett Johannson's Black Widow getting her own movie, "Well, she doesn't have any super powers." I guess I missed the memo that said Batman and Iron Man have super powers. They're really smart, have money, and use a lot of gadgets and tech to get the job done. Yeah, I guess that doesn't sound like Black Widow...

Is it possible that some are waiting because they want to release a perfect super hero movie, such as Black Widow? Sure, it is possible. Is it possible they're waiting for the right time, as in popularity within the comic book world, to create a Black Widow film? No, I don't believe that one. Since when do fans somehow become the reason we're waiting on these things?

Do fans get to choose scripts and why characters get killed in movies? Do fans get to choose what actors play the roles in these films? Granted, my goal isn't to make this only about Black Widow. I'm also thinking about Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel, Storm, and other potentially awesome big screen hits, but it's easier for me to focus on one at a time.

Yes, fan consideration is a great reason to help determine if profits will be earned by a film, but doesn't a proven character help in earning that trust. Black Widow could have her own movie series independent of the current Marvel Cinematic Universe. There could be an origin story with her learning the ropes from Nick Fury. There could also be a Nick Fury movie showing the ropes for an eager Phil Coulson, but let's stay on track. She could have an entire spy series designated to predate the MCU. Wouldn't that be something worth doing? I really liked the Bourne series (only saw the Matt Damon trio), and think it would be pretty cool to see Marvel's take on such a series with Black Widow.

Here's a full list of other super hero movies (that may or may not be in production) I would like to see:
  • Captain Marvel
  • Black Panther
  • Doctor Strange
  • Wonder Woman
  • Magneto and the Brotherhood of Mutants
  • Spider-Woman
  • Rogue, via Ms. Marvel storyline
  • Gambit
  • X-Men: Apocalypse
  • WildC.A.T.S.
  • Storm
  • Iron Man 4
  • Inhumans (connected to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
As of right now, we'll be waiting for Wonder Woman (2017) and Captain Marvel (2018). Iron Man 2, with the introduction of Johannson's role as Black Widow, was released in 2010. Under this current model of success with the MCU, it will be seven years since her introduction until we see a solo film and it's not even Black Widow or a Marvel product.

What super hero movies would you like to see?

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Baby Boy Update: Seven Months

So my son started to eat Cheerios this past weekend. He's seven months old and he's eating Cheerios! I'll preface this by saying, I do have a daughter that is two years old. So why is this so shocking to me?

I have no idea.

His ability to sit up, pull himself up to stand, and eat solids has completely taken me by surprise even though I just witnessed the same things with my daughter in the past year and a half. I'm glad I'm still surprised. I'm glad it seems new, because I want to show the same excitement when he does these AMAZING things. And they are amazing, it's incredible to see him do these things and I just look to my wife and say, "How is he doing this already?"

It was a few weeks ago when he learned to pull himself up to sit on his own. The next day, the very next day, he pulled himself up to stand. Are you kidding me?

It's a fun roller coaster that continues to increase my worry level. Is he going to fall? I need to put a pillow behind him! I need to put a pillow in front of him! Thank goodness for cushy, kid floor mats. So back to the whole, I'm going to eat some solids. He's been on the soft fruits and veggies already; my wife is amazing and does all of the baby food preparation!

So far, he's eaten many different things from sweet potatoes to peas to carrots (there's a Forrest Gump quote in there somewhere) to pears and to many other things leading up to Cheerios.

Wow. I still can't believe it.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Agent Carter: Best of the Year

Is it too early to call Marvel's Agent Carter the best new show of the year? This show represents the early beginnings of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and if you like that show, you'll love Agent Carter.

Agent Carter is clever and willing to undermine what little credibility she has with the Strategic Scientific Reserve (SSR before SHIELD) to protect her friends and ultimately find the truth. Peggy Carter, call her Agent, using the phone company as a cover identity to her true role in the SSR. Unfortunately, she was taken more seriously when there was a war and now that war is over.

In two weeks, and three hours of episodes, Agent Carter has already wrapped me around its finger. The show deals with a hero that's struggling to gain recognition among her peers, and those same peers question her heroism during the war once it's over. She trusts very few individuals and is willing to defy the organization she works for to protect those she believes are important to the good of humanity.

This show already resembles the making of a long-running series, even though it's only intended for seven parts. Will they find a way to extend this amazing television show?

What do you think so far? Do you want to see more Agent Carter?

Monday, January 12, 2015

To My Wife

Many of you don't know my wife. I was thinking about Meghan at work today and how I want to write about her; I guess sometimes I like to do that.

We celebrated her birthday this past weekend and it was a lot of fun. There were friends and family over with good food, wine, champagne, and sangria. The kids had a lot of fun interacting with everyone. The Ravens were playing and that was a good thing too.

I guess I was just thinking about how happy it made me to see how happy she was this weekend. She really deserves more weekends like that. She is a wonderful mother. She works very hard. She spends time after the kids go down to do chores or make lunches for tomorrow. If there was a super hero in our family, it's safe to say she could have the letter on her chest; A is for awesome by the way.

I guess I wanted to write about her, because I wanted to tell you about her and how crazy I am about her. It's not something I do every day, but the amazing thing about her, she understands that when I normally write it's about fictional characters I've created in some dystopian world, or I'm blogging about our recent events with the kids, or because I'm excited about a comic book video from Amy Dallen, or an article from Bonnie Burton, or how I still can't believe that James Rollins follows me in the social media world; come on, that's so cool!

And the fact that she hasn't ever rolled her eyes or been bored with my interests and encourages my writing, despite the limited amount of time each of us has, she doesn't flinch. When I talk to my friends, I say, "Man, I'm so lucky." There is not a "but" coming at the end of that sentence. I don't have any sarcastic tone. I truly believe it.

I guess that's why from time to time, I like to tell my friends about how great my wife is and how much I love her, which I guess explains why I'm writing this today.

Babe, Happy Birthday! I love you. I'm glad you had an incredible time this weekend. You deserve many more.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Three Movie Picks for 2015

There are quite a number of movies that could be blockbusters this year. Many of these potential hits are part of a series and one makes my pick of three movies I most want to see.



Avengers: Age of Ultron

Yes, I want to see Star Wars; however, I believe my interest is tempered by the last trilogy. Here are other movies I want to see, but will most likely have to wait until DVD.

Mr. Holmes
Kingsman: The Secret Service
Jurassic World
Ex Machina

As for my three picks, all of them have their own type of adventure. Chappie seems to explore not only creativity, but the notion of decency when approached by new or different things. Tomorrowland seems like a fairy tale and I want to follow the path to see what other magic is going to happen. Avengers was fantastic and the preview for Age of Ultron does the impossible; it seems like it could be better than the first.

What movies do you want to see most?

As for other things starting this year, Marvel's Agent Carter tops my TV list.