Category Archives: Text Review

One Last Review… For the Hobbit

The_Hobbit_-_The_Battle_of_the_Five_Armies

I know that I have not posted anything in a long while but I feel that the time for me to make my opinions known has come once again.

It is finished. The great odyssey has been completed. Our journeys now have ended. The final trip to Peter Jackson’s vision of Middle Earth has taken place. The question remains, how was it?

“The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies” in my opinion has been the best of the three Hobbit films. Sir Peter Jackson rediscovered some of the magic he had while filming “The Lord of the Rings”. Does this mean that this film is perfect? Heavens no, this film has some rather massive flaws but they do not achieve the level of silliness that I witnessed while watching “The Desolation of Smaug”.

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Watch out! The Sky is Falling

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To anyone who actually read my last post I must apologize.  I meant to write more often but I found myself distracted by post season baseball and the current elections…  and no I am not telling you who I voted for simply because this is a blog about nerd culture and no matter who I said it would probably start an argument somewhere.

So onto a lighter note although I have failed to keep up with my promise to review the Dresden Files novels, which I plan on remedying, I have something else I wish to elaborate upon.  “Skyfall” the new James Bond film.

Yes, some of you are probably asking, “What in the world does this have to do with the geek subculture?”  Well as far as I am concerned, granted I am a James Bond fan, these films have always had a hint of the fantastical and a certain amount of science fiction involved in their gadgets.  I feel that I can also get away with this because of the literary origins of the James Bond franchise.  I tip my pointy hat to the late, great Ian Fleming.
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Savage Worlds: Never A Dull Moment

I’ve played many an RPG in my time. I like to think of myself as a “Renaissance nerd,” having a wide variety of refined tastes and broad knowledge of gaming. Whether this is the truth, or a self-serving brazen exaggeration is up for debate.
When I’m in the mood, I’ll often revisit favorite RPGs. As mentioned before; I love a wide variety of RPGs. However, there are a select few that never fail to inspire me to start up another campaign, or take the books off of my shelf just to read them for fun.

If I had to name a favorite RPG of all-time, it would be Ars Magica (Atlas Games), for obvious and very biased reasons. Also quite apparent to readers is my fondness for Shadowrun (Catalyst Game Labs). Also in my top five RPGs is a little gem called Deadlands (Pinnacle Entertainment Group) by Shane Lacy Hensley (great guy, by the way!). Read the rest of this entry

Back to the Shadows

I cherish those moments when I happen to stumble upon an unexpected gem that I never in my wildest GameMastering dreams would think a company would ever put out. I had one of those moments recently.
Let me tell you about a chromed up cyberpunk love affair with high fantasy that I had through high school and well into college. It was with an eclectic grab-bag of awesome called SHADOWRUN.
My first exposure to SHADOWRUN was not actually the role-playing game proper. It started back in the early 1994 with our family’s usual weekly trip to the local video rental store, and while I was perusing the game section like always, a peculiar Sega Genesis title caught my eye… Read the rest of this entry

The GenCon 2012 Lineup

Well, folks, it’s that time again. GenCon 2012 is just a month away, and it’s high time a shopping list is made for your trip to the best four days in gaming! There’s some good stuff available this year, and I feel it to be my duty to help by listing off some highlights of games making their debut at Gencon this year. So, without further adieu, here’s the list I’ve dug up of what to look for on the vendor hall floor! Read the rest of this entry

Confessions of a Lone Wolf

Life sucks. No matter what your situation is, there’s always something about it that keeps making you wish for “simpler or happier times.” More and more we keep using the expression that “real life is getting in the way” of the things we’d rather be doing. Some are plagued with financial difficulties, some with love/marital problems, some are in politics, religion, or any other list of ideologies that never fail to start blood feuds with friends and family. We start looking for escapes  to take us away from our everyday problems. Some might find release in simple pleasures, like watching a favorite sport or TV show, some might find it in saying “to Hell with my diet! Ben & Jerry will take away my troubles!” Still others may find release in the darker and more destructive things in life; like the bottom of a bottle.

I think nerds have it a bit easier than most folk, as we tend to look to our hobbies for comfort. We take great pleasure in finding anything nostalgic. Thanks to the wonders of technology, you can get just about any nostalgic fix you want. All of your favorite cartoons are most likely out on DVD already, and it isn’t hard to find old games at any used game store. There are, however, a few things that are a bit harder to find. Can money really buy your childhood back? Can true magic be bottled up and sold in a store? I suppose that answer is a little different for everyone. We all have different experiences, but I can tell you a little about what I consider childhood.

When I was  a lad, I can remember being one of those types of kids that really didn’t need a huge circle of friends to keep happy or entertained. I always measured my company by their quality rather than their quantity. The friends I made as a boy remain my friends today. When I didn’t have my friends, I had a myriad of other distractions in my life. I don’t think my parents ever had to suffer hearing the words “mom (or dad), I’m BORED!” This may have a bit to do with the fact that I was a part of the Nintendo generation, but it also had a bit to do with the fact that I don’t think I really have lived much of those years on this planet. When all of the other kids went to the playgrounds to play kickball, football, or soccer, my friends and I journeyed through forests and dungeons, slaying dragons, and battling dark wizards. Why throw a football when you had a shining steel blade, or a mighty wizard’s staff rippling with arcane power? Sure, both were little more than a stout piece of wood and some clever use of leather straps, but to us, they were the weapons of heroes!

We strapped on our weapons, donned our cloaks and armor Read the rest of this entry

Keeping the spirit of Halloween alive

A rare +5 Nerd Pumpkin of Awesome

Greetings, fellow gamers!

Christmas has always been my favorite holiday of the year. It’s one of those things that is the perfect amalgamation of good vibes. Aside from the obvious religious reasons for liking the holiday (and before you email me, YES, I know Christ wasn’t born on Dec. 25th), Christmas has always been that one time of the year where goodwill is a universal currency. People go out of their way to be nice to each other, and forget for even that short time that they would treat each other like crap at the drop of a hat on a different day. I like Christmas because people treat each other like humans (for once). Sure, some people get hung up and offended if you tell them “Merry Christmas” rather than be thankful for the well-wishes, but hey…some people thrive on misery.

Anyhoo, my SECOND favorite holiday is Halloween! Sure, I have a religious reason for that too, being what we Lutherans call “Reformation Day,” but it’s also been a load of fun growing up. Unless you’re Richard Dawkins or some other soul-less fun-hating douche-nozzle, humans have a natural fascination with all things paranormal. While Halloween, like Christmas, started as a pagan seasonal festival, it slowly over the years became a “secularized” holiday that remained an American tradition for decades. Read the rest of this entry

Dungeons & Dragons: Warriors of the Eternal Sun

Growing old sucks. This isn’t just the blatantly obvious ramblings of an aging nerd realizing he’s just a few short years away from graduating from being “young” to being “middle-aged.” You notice many things about yourself and the world around you. You step on the scale and realize that you no longer suffer from that being underweight problem. Nothing works the way it used to; your joints start to creak every now and again, you start taking multivitamins to keep up your energy, and you start getting up in the middle of the night to take a piss. Sure, I complain, but I’m still a “young” man. I’m not giving up on youth completely until Ensure becomes a regular part of my diet.

It’s not just the physical things, either; You start to dread your own birthday, most of your favorite music is considered “the classics,” and when you’re in public, people stare at you because you jumped off the fashion train when the Miami Vice look was still en vogue. You start to feel out of place, like you’re part of a bygone era; or perhaps part of a Dr. Who prank in which you were drugged and dragged into a TARDIS and the “random” button was hit, and now you’re marooned in a different time. Even your hobbies have “evolved” (and I use the term loosely) with the times, leaving you to be that cantankerous old geezer with a shotgun sitting in his rocking chair on the porch yelling at the young’uns to “get the hell off his lawn.”

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The Gamers

My first review, and it’s a text review. Let’s start this site on a positive note, shall we?

I’ve never been a guy who’s big on indie movies; I always have those visions of snobbish self-important wastrels wearing little black berets and sunglasses, sipping on their highly-caffeinated drinks with obscenely silly Italian names (Yeah, great “positive start,” Belmont…), but I digress.

Enter The Gamers. I discovered this little indie gem through a friend of mine from a local community college; he’s a professor there, who at the time was running the “Do or Dice” gaming club. The reason that this indie film was able to capture my attention is because the subject was right up my alley—gaming! I decided to give this indie flick a try, and I wasn’t disappointed.

The Gamers uses a new spin on the rather tired “stranger in a strange land” genre, and turns it on its ear. We’re all sick of seeing “A [insert American stereotype] in King Arthur’s Court,” or its nigh-endless supply of spin-offs and remakes vomited up by the vacuous void of uncreativity and corporate red-light district that is Hollywood. Instead of a story about gamers themselves being thrust into a fantasy world where their adventures are real, we get treated to dual-natured movie in which we’re really watching two separate films. In one hand, you have a group of gamers playing an intense and rousing game of the little-known “Generic: The Fantasy” with their books wrapped with “+2 Brown-bag book covers of lawsuit protection.” On the other hand, you have the CHARACTERS of these dice-slinging dorks on the very adventure that the players are running.

The movie’s opening treats us to the main characters posed on sepia-toned character sheets, complete with twinked character stats (a 19 Intelligence or Strength? Shenanigans!). We have Newmoon the elven ranger, Nimble the thief, Rogar the Barbarian (who is unusually well-spoken for someone who’s just shy of riding the short bus to Barbarian school), Mark the Red, and Ambrose the Ruefully Temporary…magician by hobby. (more…)