December Sun – A Web Comic

October 30, 2008

‘Crimson Scarab’

Filed under: comic books — admin @ 10:04 am
I wanted to mention a webcomic created by my friend Billy Wamsley, called the ‘Crimson Scarab’. I know Billy from my time with Alpha-Omega, and I’ve enjoyed a great many of his comics and reviews.

Billy has kicked off his character as a full-blown webcomic, and has stayed faithful to producing this as a colorful, entertaining serial, which I’ve enjoyed following. Personally, being a big fan of all-ages anything, as well as nostalgic for old-school comic book superheroes replete with witty dialog and colorful costumes and characters, this has it all and I’d recommend it!

Posted are a couple character illustrations from Billy. Check out the comic at http://crimsonscarab.wordpress.com/

(images posted here illustrated by Billy, and Crimson Scarab is copyright 2008 Billy Wamsley)

October 28, 2008

‘Stargate:Atlantis Season 3′ – an unnecessarily exhaustive review

Filed under: 3 — admin @ 12:56 pm
Kill Carson?  What on earth were the producers thinking?What follows is my meticous and unnecessary review of Stargate:Atlantis season three. In a nutshell, it started off enjoyable and sortof went downhill for me, to the point that I really don’t care to see season 4 all that much (the library has it on order for me, but all the same, no big hurry.) With that, here are my thoughts about each episode with a summary following:

No Man’s Land and Misbegotten were both very entertaining kickoff episodes for the series, and I like the whole dilemma of erasing the memories of the wraith and what to do with them. Very cool when things turn for the worse. I found Michael annoying in the second season, but this time around, I though he was actually a fairly interesting (and cunning) character in the series. The idea of a cheesed-off character on the run is pretty cool. Also, Shepherd using the Millenium-Falcon hiding trick was just awesome.

What a coincidence!  I, too, was a bald character in another scifi tv show...

Irresistible – Richard Kind was entertaining in this, but some of the suggestion made in this episode was a tad uncomfortable, especially regarding his multiple wives.

Sateda – One of the best episodes of the season. Plenty of action and a lot of great Ronin background. Ending the show with a big street fight was just great.

Progeny - Interesting concept of the replicators and a giant robot world. I would have been interested in more of the ascension theme and how this applied to machines, but alas, that wasn’t covered.

The Real World - Clever and brainy, but would nano microbes REALLY have the type of obscure humor to make a reference to “Atlantis” being a mediocre Donovan song? That seemed to be stretching it.

Common Ground – Another Trek-style reference (this time it’s the “aging” thing). I enjoy the
politicking of the Genii, as well as the idea that a Wraith could “reverse feed” (but come on, you KNEW something like that was going to happen. Either that, or they’d find a way to recalibrate the transporter beam to the fix up Shepherd.

McKay and Mrs. Miller - This one was a chore to watch, and no matter how much Rodney appears to “soften” in the episode, he’s back to his usual self by the next episode. So what’s the point?I prefer the alternate dimension Rodney. And how is it that Rodney is trusted AGAIN with a huge project and he goes ahead and blows it, and no one seems to care? Last time he blew up a solar system, and this time he taps out a ton of energy for no real purpose. And he isn’t punished why?

Phantoms – AnothHuh, an exploding alien tumor.  I won't leave this alone and move the patient and myself away, but rather, I'll just carry it to the bomb disposal guy and help him do his job!er Trek-style episode of characters seeing things that aren’t really there, and as a result turning on one another. Watchable but predictable.

The Return (1) and The Return (2) - I thought this was clever, seeing what would happen were a non-crisis evacuation of the station required. I would have liked to see more specific sequences of the characters adapting back to “normal” life, though. Interesting concept. Also, it was great to see Richard Dean Anderson in action again doing ridiculous underwater sequences (he held his breath for five minutes, I think!)

Echoes – This one reminded me a lot of the classic ‘Star Trek: Next Generation formula of “everyone sees ghost images”, etc, but turns out it’s all just a natural phenomena in the end, etc. Nothing shockingly new here. One observation that has bothered me from the beginning, though, is that every time something goes strange on a mental plain, they go to a therapist woman who, from all indications, does virtually NOTHING, except talk calmly to them and listen to their amazing accounts. I can’t see So you're having nightmares Dr. Weir?  I'll suggest that you take a regime of medications, because that's pretty much the only thing that I'm capable of doing here... how this helps anything. To add a further level of oddity, she’ll prescribe medication. I’m wondering if this is a ever-so-subtle Scientologist viewpoint seeping into the story (suggesting that therapists only serve one purpose: pharmaceutical directive) or if there is something more to it? I’m not sure if I’m reading too much into it or not.

Irresponsible - A little Richard Kind goes a long way, and he’s back again for this one, doing more of his duping villager routine. It has it’s moments, but it gets old.

Tao of Rodney - This one bothered me, and not just because I’m not a fan of Rodney. I found this one a chore to get through, because on realizing that a character is facing impending death (yet again) we go through the whole “make peace with everyone” routine. I found most of this contrived.

The Game - Very clever concept, though lacking some plausibility (now really, WHY would the
Atlantaneans mess around with people’s heads like this? The ethics of doing something like this with two people groups is just ridiculous. Why wouldn’t they be striving to use their technology to HELP these people along?) It made for an interesting story, but the believability is lacking.

Atlantis, or downtown Houston, at night The Ark – This was the worst of the series for me, and an absolute chore to watch. It reminded me of some of the stifling old Doctor Who episodes where the Doctor puzzles out some mystery on a space station during an overly-long duration of time. The episode was claustrophobic and hard to sit through. Good thing I was working on something else at the time it was playing.

Sunday – While not perfect, I thought that this was one of the better episodes of the series. But what a shocker to see Dr. Carson written out of the show (and frankly, he was one of the highpoints of the series for me.) Without Carson (and his chastisements of “Ruhd-Nay”) I really don’t care to see much more of Atlantis. That was a major nail in the coffin of this series for me. Sunday features some strange and awkward personal interactions, many of which seemed forced and disingenuine (for instance, since when were Carson and Rodney buddies with one another? I never really got that out of the series).

Plus how plausible is it that getting “one day off” is a big deal on this station? Who would agree to work somewhere where there is NEVER a regular day off? So anyway, in the episode, there are a couple people who, because of exposure to Atlantean technology, are now walking bombs(!!)Carson works on the bomb-tumor guy, then, for some reason, seems compelled to deliver the tumor bomb to the disposal guy. Er, why didn’t he just LEAVE the bomb, and wheel the patient away, with the nurse, and leave the bomb behind?

The funeral scene seemed really shallow, vaguely suggestive of Star Trek 2, and why such a small turnout at Atlantis, if Carson was the primary physician for the last couple years… shouldn’t the area have been packed? Again, the show just won’t be the same (or as good) without Carson.

Grrrr...Where's Sigorney Weaver? I'm in the wrong film!Submersion – Sorotf interesting in an ‘Abyss’-sortof way (funny that they referenced this film) and Wraith stories tend to be good in this series to begin with.

Vengeance – A silly ‘Aliens’ takeoff. The aliens in this episode look really ‘Alieny’, too…Plus I love the reuse of “the long hall” set, that pops up all the time in this series (along with the
‘tall pine forest’ and the ‘medieval village’ set. Great stuff.)

First Strike – The series was starting to get tiring to me by this point, and sadly, the cliffhanger didn’t do much for me. Plus this episode had me pondering: how could an orbiting stargate broadcast an energy blast AND also be shielded at the same time? And how is it that Atlantis couldn’t just find a way to absorb the energy, or just redirect it?

Final thoughts:
The first couple seasons had me interested in seeing more, but honestly at this point, I really
couldn’t care how the series continues. Without Carson, and potentially without Dr. Weir, the show just won’t have the same chemistry it once had. I dunno, by mid-season, the formula was starting to wear on me. We have 6 (now 5) central characters, all in their 30′s, single, with no relationships, no children (and any parents? relatives?) and no substantial outside relationships, and each episode, they seem to be faced with the certainty of death, which they always manage to avoid. Yet it’s back to the same scheme, and oddly, it’s starting to feel like the ‘Welcome Back Kotter’ formula of the handful of key students that get all the attention in the class/show, and a bunch of other background characters who smile, laugh and nod. Atlantis is no different really. Oh, a few “outside” characters occasionally pop into the plot, but at the end of the day, they didn’t really matter. Instead, it’s just the core 6… or, 5.

I dunno. The Star Trek formula really wasn’t much different, although that series, at least, did explore interpersonal relationships outside of the series. But even there, as with Atlantis, spouses and taboo children are out of the picture, and out of consideration. And the longer this formula goes on, the less substantial it all feels to me. Day after day of crisis and doom, averted at the last minute, then on to the next day. Sigh.

An observation about Atlantis I’ve noticed is that there are no Chaplains, even though this is
supposedly a military operation in modern times, and having grown up mostly military, I know that chaplains play a large part in the lives of military personnel (from my experience living on post as an Army brat). In Star Trek, fine, I can understand that Roddenberry didn’t want this in his future “utopia”, but if this is supposedly current times, it seems unlikely, and hard to believe, that military personnel would be stationed anywhere without a chaplain (be it Christian, Rabbi, Imam, etc) And this brings to mind the “Sunday” episode: does ANYONE go to a chapel on Sunday, or any day, in Atlantis, or is there only the therapist out there to dole out drugs?

And this touches on one of the things that started to tire me about this series, is the basic
aesthetically scientific finality to everything in Atlantis: there is NOTHING supernatural whatsoever, but everything can be tirelessly explained by the end of the show thanks to the insufferable wonder of science (this point is labored in ‘Tao of Rodney’). Only once in the season is something beyond the observable world hinted at, and that’s when Rodney chats with Carson’s “ghost”(?) at the end of “Sunday”, about the possibility of seeing him again sometime. That was a highpoint of this season for me, and I would have liked just a little bit more of this direction. Alas, it never happened.

The Stargate:Atlantis series has been decent so far (I’m thankful to my friend Al for hooking me on the show) but as the third season dragged to an end, the fun of it was starting to wane. And with Carson gone, I’m not sure I really care to follow much more of the series beyond this.

October 23, 2008

Alexander Courage/John Williams’ score to ‘Superman IV’

Filed under: 3 — Tags: , , , , — admin @ 8:16 am

‘Superman IV: The Quest for Peace’ is possibly one of the single silliest films ever made, and one could spend hours analyzing all of it’s faults (here is a fantastically-detailed, and hilarious, review from Jabootu). But one of the outstanding features of this awful film is the music. Granted, it’s not perfect, but compared to Superman II, III, and Returns, Superman IV had some really outstanding music, if you can see it removed from the silly dialog and sound effects.

Well, someone went to the effort of doing this, and the outcome is remarkable: what has been posted is Superman IV broken down with the visuals only, and the score isolated. At some point, music that did NOT appear in the final cut of the film has been restored from the separate CD score of the film (a very quality job). The result is just fantastic, and amazingly, it’s actually a more enjoyable film to watch in this form (at least for me, as a film score nut). The music, as I understand it, was written by Alexander Courage (of classic Star Trek music fame) but reusing John Williams thematic material from the first film. However, instead of just a direct reuse (as was the case with Superman II), Courage worked in a number of fantastic, and very enjoyable, thematic variations that can be heard throughout the film. Also, as I understand it, Williams wrote a couple new themes that appear in the film as well.

The clip below, which hopefully won’t be taken down anytime soon, features a fantastic musical segment from the “subway sequence” of the film (it starts about 1:03 minutes into the clip.) Notice the musical interplay going on between the Superman theme (as Clark heads to the subway) and the love theme/Lois theme as Lois makes it to the train before Clark. Just amazing stuff.

October 20, 2008

I’ll Never Buy a Sony VAIO again (Final thoughts on the demise of my PC)

Filed under: 3 — Tags: , , — admin @ 11:20 am

Well, some further deep thoughts about my computer nightmare lately:

- I’m not nuts about Vista, but I guess I’m stuck with it for now. And I guess it doesn’t make a ton of sense to downgrade to XP.
- Ubuntu was a mess. What a headache to have to jump through 80 hoops, just to get one program working. The final nail in the coffin was the fact that Itunes isn’t supported, and that, apparently, it’s ILLEGAL to use on anything other than a Windows platform. Great.
I got tired of Ubuntu and uninstalled it. You get what you pay (or don’t pay) for.
- For kicks I purchased the original drive that was in my Sony VAIO (model ST380020A) from a seller on Ebay (ironically from ‘Trader Jon’s', a pawn shop in Round Lake Beach, where I used to live. For $30 I tried installing this new drive exactly as the old drive was installed. I finished this, closed up the case, then attempted to start up the PC with the “System Recovery” disk #1. Everything goes fine, initially. BIOS recognized the new drive as the Master, then starts up the CD. The CD runs fine, finishes roughly 1% of its install, then dies with:
“Disk Access:Sense Operation Failed” followed shortly thereafter with “The recovery process is incomplete. Your system may not operate properly”. Fantastic. I tried this a few more times, and each time its the same. So I contacted Sony VAIO support and chatter with a rep, who basically told me NOTHING. Check that the BIOS is at its factory default setting (it was) and then “take it in for service”. Ahhh, but the Sony, being 7 years old, is WAAAAY out of warranty, so I’d have to PAY for that service, to investigate issues with SONY’S BAD SOFTWARE? Does Sony employ a QA staff to test their software? I doubt it.
Anyhow, I gave up on this, and wrote them a letter, stating basically that I would never purchase a Sony VAIO system again, ever. And I won’t. The PC was fine for 7 years until the crash, and then it was revealed to me how 1) lousy their recovery software is and 2) how lousy their support is.
Ok, enough nonsense about COMPUTERS and OPERATING SYSTEMS! I’ve got to get back on track with December Sun….

October 8, 2008

December Sun #6 preview

Filed under: 3 — Tags: , — admin @ 3:07 pm

Just a preview of some inking from DS#6 which I’m tinkering with now.

October 1, 2008

I John 5

Filed under: 3 — Tags: — admin @ 12:26 pm

hooray for my royalty free image disk

I just wanted to recap some of Pastor’s notes from this week’s sermon, as I thought they were memorable, and I’m about about to attempt to reinstall the some of the System Recovery disks for this PC that I just found, which might wipe out everything and reduce me to tears. So before I do so I wanted to reflect on some of the notes I captured from the message, so at least I have something positive in mind as I face down the unavoidable menu prompts I’m about to encounter.
In the message this week, the apostle John in I John 5 speaks about about prayer, and challenges some of the conventional views of prayer. His emphasis in on taking the need for prayer seriously, and to continue to interceed for one another in prayer. And in our perception of prayer, it should not be seen as a formula for “getting what we want”, and Pastor Baucham backed this with other scriptural references. Rather prayer should be seen, from a larger sense, as an effort to bring ourselves in line with God’s will. Jesus set the example in his prayer on the Mount of Olives, prior to His crucifixion, when he prayed “not my will, but yours be done.” Prayer should be done with the focus on being in accordance with the will, nature and authority of God.

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