Saturday, June 28, 2014

Summer Junk

Howdy again folks. Nice to see ya. My day actually started at one thirty in the morning thanks to some wonderfully lackluster planing on my part. In short; long nights into early mornings spent editing books aren't ideal when one has a randomly scheduled day job to worry about. Still; there's been some fine progress on the professional front. The novel is over half way through it's first edit (there will be a second for grammar) and I actually got in some good work hours. At this right my birthday present to myself could end up being something more substantial than a bluray. With this odd sleep cycle don't be surprised if the article get's interrupted half way though by a nap.
Before we get going, here's a question. If you spend the majority of the work day inside, how the hell do you get a sunburned face? That's just so not cool.
Another odd thing to note. Ya ever have those moments where you could swear you saw someone in your hallway one second and gone the next? We get that at my house every so often. Whether you believe in ghosts or spirits, what have you, it just happens now and then. It's not anything terrifying, just a bit off putting. The other night though there was what looked like not an exact person but someone in a uniform, and I've only really known one person who wore that kind of uniform. Very odd experience to have when you're checking out ebay but I guess if it was them then I should thank em for checking in.
Limeade Oreo
Another specialty cookie so soon? Who'd imagine the generosity that Nabisco of all companies could bestow on us very bored types in the form of fattening treats.
Now before you run of in terror, mind reeling from the notion of a limeade cream cookie just remember that Oreo already has the long standing lemon variety which is very choice. These aren't all that different save for them having a bit more bite to back up the citrus flavor. That extra sting seals the placement of this cookie in my good with milk/coffee battle strongly in the milk camp.
So big surprise, another positive cookie review. Alright; it's tough to screw up cookies but these special ones are a nice change of pace. They provide that little element that can make another week of working & sleeping slightly more bearable than the last. What are you waiting for? Go pick some up from the store/ I demand that the first person with the balls to dip these in limeade tells me all about it.
Yard sale & thrift items.
After work I had to head out for a few errands and remembered that it'd been a few weeks since I last stalked the halls of any thrift stores. Didn't find much at the two stops but the one had half a dozen or so of these cheap photos wedged in glass that they sell at fairs & such. They have an actual name for em that escapes me right now but I remember Matt over on Dinosaur Dracula writing about them maybe...last year. Always thought they were kinda nifty but ebay prices can get out of hand so spotting some at the as-is store is a total win. Most were just nonsense. One featured the California raisins, which still look like something you'd remove with surgery. Yet scattered amongst the piles of junk was Rambo. Greased up, machine gun in arm, small bits of lightning summoned forth by his emotionally retarded fury. He just had to join my collection of misfit items like pickles the clown and Betsy the pumpkin girl. (note: somebody remind me to write about those poor saps sometime.)
On the way back home we stopped by a neighbors house that was running a charity garage sale for the lions club. Decent spread for a one of these though not much in my arena. Was tempted by the wall (yes, a wall) of audio books on display. However; ninety-five percent of them where cassettes. Did happen to come across a few regular books though.
Star Trek: Death in Winter
Since finishing Voyager last year there has been a distinct lack of new trek material in my diet. Every so often I've pondered taking up the books to provide that missing piece of entertainment. However; finding a good starting point is almost impossible. Multiple series all in progress, occasionally crossing over as well, and little proper information as far as guides. So what luck that this one picks up right after nemesis thous eliminating the need for any knowledge of book continuity. This will probably earns its own article once I've finished, but not before my other finds.
Night Frights and Ghosts Beneath our Feet
While my attempts at reading all of the original goosbumps have stalled multiple times, I can't pass up some cheesy nineties ghost stories for kids. Night Fright is an anthology that weighs in at all of 75 pages. That's one solid BM in reading terms. Ghosts Beneath our Feet appears to be a series not unlike Goosebumps though with a rather obvious focus on spooks. A bit meatier than the anthology but nothing too substantial. These should make for some nice booster reading (ya know. For those of us who keep lists.)

(insert nap time. Really doesn't count as a nap if it's more than 8 hours, does it?)

Trailer Park Boys season 6
OK, soooo this season kinda sucked. Most shows that run on this long stand the chance of losing the core elements that made them work in the first place. That kinda seems like the case here as most of the episodes come across as forced and heartless. It's not a total loss thanks to a few decent bits and one standout episode in “Where the fuck is Oscar Goldman” but nothing really gels here nor is there much in the way of a focused narrative. The whole thing is made stranger by the sudden happy ending for the season. Best I can figure is they thought this might be the last year so they just shoved in an everybody's happy ending without any proper build-up. Still like the show as comfort viewing but I really hope that year 7 and the various specials can pull off something better than this.

Haven't explained the picture at the top of the article yet. That is some dumpy old country bridge that's probably a good 8 miles outside my town. A friend took my bro-in-law & me out to it years ago and we all forgot where it was. As luck would have it, I came across the right online map with enough bridge info to finally track the thing down again. It's as bad as ever. Boards are falling out, large nests of something hanging off the rails, yet it brought a little levity to my night. Just something nice about those unique spots that host one specific memory, so I'm pretty proud to have found it again.
Believe it or not this post was originally going to contain more crap than this but we've covered enough for now wouldn't ya say?. Probably going to try an actual nap to readjust the schedule. I'll try to keep it in the 4-6 hour range this time. Ta!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Updates, Trailer Parks, and Cookies!

Now that's a show I wanna see.
Well folks, the short lived interconnected relationship between cosmicsparky and facebook is now a thing of the past. For the second time, that horrid website has been fled for the sake of this writers mental well-being and there is no intention of returning. You may be wondering what makes that site such a personal target and there are several factors. First is the main reason anyone joins it to begin with. We all want to stay closer to our friends and family, and yes such sites can make that possible, yet more often than not instead of feeling connected and surrounded by your people, you get reminders of how isolated and forgotten everyone is. A factor that is only multiplied when each individual is reduced to basic blurbs and interests as stand ins for their true personality. Really the only time you receive a benefit from using the site is when you baby sit it, and then you're missing out on actual life. Yet that hardly stacks up to the worst element of facebook. It attempts to make day to day existence into a cheap competition. Sure you may feel like sharing thoughts and feelings with your social circle, but not unlike a lame party you have to fight your way through the crowd, and hope someone notices. Whether people realize it or not, this alters the way they express themselves in order to get noticed in a dirty flood of random thoughts. It's especially sad as you watch someone write a post out of longing for companionship or understanding that would have been better served by something as simple as a phone call. In the end; the biennial or forgettable items win out over anything resembling true emotion which is treated as an inconvenience standing in the way of cat pictures. As an experience it is cruel and heartless, made all the more so by it serving as a lame stand in for proper companionship.
So fuck facebook. Ones outlook on life can be infinitely better without it clogging up the works. From now on it's only fully fledged self expression through the use of actual human interaction, and this place where ideas needing more than a single small paragraph can be fully expressed. If I ever feel the longing for something like a social networking site again, just remind me to send out a mass text. It's much more likely to yield comforting results.
Phew! So that's the updated status on the website for now. believe it or not there could be a full sized post about the bothersome nature of FB. But you fine people didn't show up to hear about how bad things can be. Nay! You wanna have some fun, so let's do just that.
Trailer park Boys season 4
Picking up were we left off. The end of season three put a slight twist on the formula as Julian, Mr. Lahey, and Randy were shipped off to prison leaving Ricky in charge of Sunnyvale. A friend mentioned that this was their favorite season, and seeing as they're an enormous fan I approached it hoping for some top notch stuff. No disappointments here as it contains what are possibly the two greatest episodes of the entire series. First up is “Conky.” This is the sampler platter of storytelling right here. Every key element of the show is on display in a tale about using a twisted old ventriloquist dummy to make Bubbles get a tooth pulled. Usually shows just earn some grins from this viewer but this one actually made me laugh. The following episode, “if you love something, set it free.” Doesn't let up either. In this tale, Bubbles rehabilitates a mountain lion that's hooked on dope. Both eps are just outstanding fun. Very little, if anything negative to say about this season. From a solid story arc to the garbage liquor known as swish, and even the legendary “samsquamch,” this a great, great season of boob tubage.

Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Oreos.
Oh yeah. These are real, and they are spectacular! Let it be known that no one, and I mean no one could ever sue Oreos for false advertising. If you were to take a Reese’s and place it in the center of two standard Oreo cookies it would taste exactly the same. They aced every detail. Right down to the almost captain crunch like resistance to milk. You may actually feel some guilt about the cruel drownings that these bastards endure as you hold them under the white surf in an effort to make them even slightly moist. It's candy wrapped in baked goods. If you have any inclination towards that sort of thing (and who the hell doesn't?) then grab a pack and just make a fat pig of yourself. No judgment here.
Trailer Park Boys season 5
Back to the show. There was a little worry jumping in to round five as this is usually the point where most shows start to get a little stale and lifeless. True to form this one does make a few stumbles but it holds up pretty well. The general storyline for this year is a bit more depressing with all the boys down on their luck living around the burned out husk of a trailer while they try to sell off a hash driveway piece by piece. A key misstep is the extra focus placed on Ricky's dad Ray who up to this point had always been a small time support character. He's played by one of the shows writers/producers and the guy's a good enough actor but Ray just isn't all that funny or interesting to watch. On the other hand, Julian is much improved this season as he trains Cory and Trevor like dogs and threatens mall cops at gunpoint for Bubbles. A major win has to go to season five for having the best finale so far. They successfully wrapped all the threads from previous episodes into a shoot out that featured most everyone banding together in defense of their shitty little trailer park. That's what makes this show work as well as it does. After everyone drives each other crazy, somebody usually bites the bullet for the greater good. It's a surprisingly positive outlook to come out of a show about low rent criminals. Like that picture up top, ya can't help but wonder how something like Game of Thrones would go if everyone climbed out of their ass, had a drink, and hugged it out. Maybe they'd realize nobody wants to sit on a pokey chair.

Strange to think that there's only two short seasons (and a handful of movies/specials) before getting up to speed on this beast. Easy to see why my friend laments the long wait for new content as this has become some true comfort viewing over the past month. Once it's wrapped up there's gonna be a gap for something to provide that same kind of feeling. Any suggestions to fill that gap folks? Maybe something with hot girls? Those are painfully absent in the Summer TV diet. Or how about talking animals that solve crimes? Perhaps we can combine both items. Like She Spies meets Wishbone. The furies will eat it up.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

So I Finally Finished the First Season of Game of Thrones

Internet confession time! A few years ago my brother was on my case about watching the first season of Game of Thrones, which was the new kid on the block back then. I'm a big fantasy/Sci-fi dork so it shoulda been right up my alley, right? Wrong. A night spent marathoning the first 6 episodes left me bored out of my damn mind! What was the big deal? This is a fantasy show right? Something to do with adventure, magic, and broadly drawn characters. Not so much. Instead I was treated to a 6 hour Renaissance fair with occasional bouts of bloody violence. I had tasted the waters and was not satiated. Yet here I am, finally wrapping up the first season. Why, you may ask? Because I'm surrounded on all sides by the damn thing. My siblings like it. My in-laws like it. My friends like it. Hell! My dogs might even like it behind my back. Plus it gives me something to work on over the summer and then write about. Oh and GOT gets searched for a lot so maybe I'll up my weekly page views. Now let's do this on a pros and cons basis.
Something good/bad: It was easy to pick back up.
It was really easy to get back into the swing of things. I didn't have to look up anything special or consult episode guides to remind me of my place in the story. One could take this to mean that the show is very memorable. One could also take it to mean that nothing all that in-depth took place over the first six episodes. Let's call in a mix of the two. I know some stuff happened cause I can remember crippled kids, sword fights over cg holes in the floor, melting iron over someones head. It's odd for someone like me though who can forget what the hell happened over a month long break of some pretty monster show that there weren't any missing details to this tale after several years of my absence.
Something Personal: Where's the Fantasy?
Like I asked earlier. Isn't this supposed to be fantasy? Until the 9th episode there's nothing to mark this as anything other than a remarkably inaccurate period piece. Nah, I should be fair. There was that ice zombie guy in part 8 but even that coulda been some kind of disease, not anything fascinating or magical. In the 9th part we are presented with blood magic. It's supposed to be dark and scary annnnnd they don't show us anything. Within that same episode they also prep viewers for a grand old battle between armies. All human mind you but warfare is a large part of fantasy storytelling annnnnd they don't show it. The last scene of the season finale finally presents us with the most basic fantasy element; dragons. Just dragons. From what I know of future seasons the mystical bits start to take up more screen time but for now I am unimpressed. I list this as a personal issue rather than a con because I'm very demanding of my fantastical tales. I want strange races that populate every corner of the world. Magic spells, unique forms of transportation, the works. Some flying snakes and architecture with little regard for safety just ain't enough for this guy.
Something Good: Ned Stark
Time for a positive. Sean Bean. Dude can carry almost any scene he's in. Plus he gets to play one of far too few characters with any real moral backbone. This is used to turn him into a plot point though as the one man with scruples gets his nugget lobbed off. I've frequently obsessed over the concept of killing off what seems to be your leading man. It's a good trick to pull off on your audience and I respect the story for doing. Plus it acts as the catalyst for everything set to fallow. Good guy, good actor, points.
You've got it backwards kid. Close your mouth and open your eyes.
Something Awful: Jon Snow:
A few weeks back during my write up of the dark crystal I remarked on the long history of bland fantasy heroes. Well here he is folks and he's as interesting as a moist towelette. This is a double whammy thanks to both the character being a bland mouth breather and his actor fitting that discirption to a T. Think I'm being too cruel. Watch a few scenes from the second Silent Hill movie (just not the whole thing. Nobody deserves that kind of punishment). Sean Bean is also in that flick and while he's not even trying to give a passable performance, he still pulls it off. Kit Harrington on the other hand provides the best unintentional comedy I've seen in years. Every time the show switches to Snow I just start to blank out. There's nothing interesting about this whiny turd. His friend Sam thankfully makes for some decent parts but he has yet to receive anywhere near enough screen time to make up for his dullard buddy.
Something Good: Tyrion.
Ahhh the internet's hero. Tyrion shows off what the show is capable of accomplishing while also illustrating all of it's other flaws. Here we have a richly developed character played to his fullest potential. He's straightforward and crass. Tons of fun to watch. Naturally this means that every other person treats him like dog shit. Every scene with him is great, but it reminds you how much the other characters suck and how you don't want to go back to watching their plot lines.
Something awful: This Asshole.
With any production featuring a cast this large and varied there are bound to be weak links. However; Emilia Clarke is fucking horrible. I swear you can actually see Ms Clarke hold her mark in the set for fear of getting out of frame. She's stiff, corny, and oh christ the scene where she's wetting her huggies while Drogo makes a big speech is embarrassing to witness. I know I'm not the only person to have leveled these accusations at her and I'll cut her a break, her role sucks too. Like the portions with Jon Snow, I catch myself waiting for her scenes to end. This phenomenon is made worse by the editors usually bookmarking their parts next to each other for 8 straight minutes of pain. Her continued presence is going to make this show a chore for me. I really can't overstate how much I hate her scenes.
Something Good: Jorah.
The only thing that gets me through the Daenerys storyline is the prescience of Ian Glen. I swear he could eat cup noodles in a scene and not seem out of place. Yet again we have one of a small number of characters who actually has some honor to him. While everyone else is running about, making speeches about how fucking awesome they are, he just keeps it cool. If he was not around, I would skip the parts with Daenerys. Period.

And the Rest:
As you can probably tell I'm not in love with most of the characters. I'd say this is because I mainly want my entertainment to be an escape. There's assholes all over the world. Why would I want to watch a show that focuses on almost exclusively on their kind? Granted some of them like little finger and the unic can make the underhanded dealings seem fresh and fun. Yet for every part we get with someone like them we have to deal with people like the Stark family being absolute tits. Oh and let's not forget to mention the collection of women in the show. As someone attempting to finish my own novel, I've always found important spots for the girls in my stories. Not only can you get as much depth from them as the men but the influence they can hold as mothers, daughters, love interests, allows them to hold enormous sway over the tale. So they'd better be awesome people to read about. Yet every woman in this show is reactionary, flighty, and most are downright despicable. And I don't just mean the villains. The only one I don't actively dislike is Arya, and so far she just kind of stumbles from one situation to the next. Once again, I know I'm not alone here. There are plenty of articles about the woman of this show, several are flat out hate letters about Sansa. I don't know what the writers of this show think about chicks but they're aren't doing a good job presenting them.
Oh god! He's still making that cunting face!

 Sooo will I continue in my quest? I suppose so. I still don't get the love for this thing. It's not bad. I'll admit I actively watch shows that are worse. It's just that for every part I enjoy, there's something I hate just as much. Really I want to see the five or so characters I really like all meet up and go on a better adventure than the one I'm currently viewing. For now, I'll hold true to catching up with the rest of the world and waiting impatiently for the Neil Marshall episodes to pop up. You'll be seeing more of this my friends. Oh yes.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Summer Catch Up: Trailer Park Boys

Howdy again folks. I tell ya it's great to be back working on this site on a regular basis. I'll level with you fine readers. Life kinda had me stumbled there for a bit. Suppose it happens to all of us now and then. We maybe take on more than we can handle, forget our normal emotional levels, but it comes back to us eventually. I've seen it happen to the best of us but I really feel like I'm getting my balance back. Sure, I've still got worries, who doesn't these days? But I've got the confidence now to push those worries aside in favor of the good stuff. Speaking of the good stuff, how about some Trailer Park Boys?
With the regular TV season passed us, I've got at least five hours a week to plug into other endeavors. Yeah, I should probably spend them finishing up my novel (working on it) but who can resist the call of catching up on a few shows? Last year I made the mistake of taking on too many summer shows, hardly finishing any of them in the end. This year, the plan is to go with just a few shows with small seasons. Under most circumstances I probably wouldn't have gone with something like Trailer Park Boys. Nothing against comedies. In fact I watch a great deal of them. Just that when it comes to picking out individual shows I have a tendency to go eith more serious fare. However; some of my friends are fans, one being positively obsessed so this is one I took on in good faith. So far it's working out pretty well.
Season 1: Picking up right after the an original movie that I've yet to see (thanks to it basically being buried) We follow Julian and Ricky, two cons fresh from prison as they readjust to life in Sunnyvale trailer park. The show plays out in the fake documentary format as it follows the boys in their day to days adventures that usually involve getting plowed and/or steeling something. There's some good stuff in this first round of episodes but like so many first seasons there's just something missing. As far as I can peg it, the general tone just wasn't quite right yet. Often times these episodes come across feeling too serious and straightforward when they could easily benefit from a lighter tone. There's lots of experimentation in finding what characters and concepts would work for the show going on, most of which works out. It's short enough that I don't have a problem recommending it to people, but don't let this be your full impression of the series.

Season 2: Big Improvement here. First things first; more Bubbles! Second; More Lahey! These two were outstanding characters who spent far too much of the first season in the background. Bubbles in particular is not only the finniest cat in the show but provides a conscience for Ricky and Julian so they don't come across as complete dicks. Plus he really helps the focus change from two fuck ups trying to get by, to something more about a group of underdogs which makes it much more fun to get into. Possibly the best improvement of this second year is a more continuity based storyline. While the first season consisted of the usual episodic antics, this one flows from one to the next as the boys grow pot in an old trailer in hopes of selling it to the prison system. Also the sub-plot with Ricky befriending Lehays teenage daughter helps to round him out. The first season is good but this is actual quality viewing right here. 
Season 3: Progress and regression are the markings of season 3. The show gets to be even funnier than it was before, yet in the process of doing that loses out on the continuity driven approach from the previous year. This return to episode by episode antics also brings back the tonal issues from the first season. Most of them are great fun with bits like Bubbles rapping about “rolling with his kitties.” Something about the season finale just didn't work for me though. It seemed rushed and out of tune with the stuff that came before it.
I may not seem that into the show from my brief recaps. Truth be told it's not the kind of show I obsess over so much as it's comfort viewing. It reminds me of the King of the Hill reruns at 5:30 in the morning. Not something to base a day around but just some simple fun to cheer ya up after work is done. If you could use a show like that this summer, I say go ahead and let these Canadian boobs work their magic. Do be warned that you will get a craving for massive quantities of junk food like chicken fingers, chicken chips, peperoni sticks, the works. After more than two episodes, I'm usually primed to ram out on my scooter to the nearest gas station for some high-quality feed.
That's all for now my lovelies. For anyone who comes round these parts for the ToQger recaps; I plan to get back to them though they may be two for the price of one from now on. Otherwise look out for more TPB coverage. Working on giving Game of Throne another chance, some game reviews, and maybe another book review, Been too long since one of those. Peace.

P.S. Just noticed We're not far from getting 1000 page views. If anyone likes a particular article I've done then by all means give it a push and see if we can get up into the four digits.