June 16, 2017

I'll Netflix That: "Big Hero 6"


Next up on my "I'll Netflix That" series is a movie that I wanted to see in cinemas, but misse dout on. Maybe it was a busy time in my life? Maybe there were quite a few other movies in cinemas, and this one made the cut....either way, Big Hero 6 became a Netflix title for me. But not for the 'usual' reasons.

I quite enjoyed it! I'm somewhat glad I didn't pay the big bucks for the cinema experience but it was what I expected: the origin story reminded me of Iron Man a bit, the 'fun' element reminded me of The Incredibles or The Avengers, and the humor of Meet the Robinsons.

It's definitely a "Disney movie" in the truest sense of the word, while also being "Marvel Lite." If you enjoyed The Incredibles as well as Dragons from Dreamworks; you'll most likely find something to like here. There's something for everyone if you like animated films and / or superhero movies. It has an adventure element seen in such films such as the Dragons series by Dreamworks, The Incredibles, while brining the humor seen in Meet the Robinsons or Zootopia. It's not exactly ground-breaking, nor offers anything new or special we haven't seen before. The Disney charm has a spark in this one, and thus it's worth seeing. Just don't expect too much.

7.5 / 10  

June 15, 2017

E3 2017 Thoughts

Well another E3 has come and gone.

This is the big annual event where developers and designers get to showcase upcoming major releases for all the video game platforms. There were some surprises, both good and bad.

The systems I have, and follow, are PS4, PC (Steam) and 3DS. I have a wii u, but that's been discontinued in favor the Switch; which I don't have.

Nintendo has unveiled two upcoming Metroid games: Metroid: Samus Returns for 3DS, and Metroid Prime 4 for the Switch. We also got a look at some of the Zelda DLC. The first of two, coming on June 30, is called The Master Trials. The final set, The Champions' Balad, will be out "Holiday" 2017.

Of interest to me from Playstation, is the first set of DLC for Horizon: Zero Dawn called Horizon: The Frozen Wilds. It's of interest to me because I'm looking forward to playing Horizon, but will await the 'complete' edition.

Bethseda has announced Wolftenstein 2, which will be a sequel to Wolfenstein: The New Order. Nothing whatsoever in regards to The Elder Scrolls VI. I wasn't much if there was anaying - about the same sort of tease or reveal we got for Metroid Prime 4.

So it wasn't an overly spectacular E3 for me, though it's good to know there's some good things on the way. I wish Bethseda would leave Skyrim alone. I realize it takes time and energy to work on a game, but enough's enough. All we need is a brief tease / announcement to say that you're working on it like what Nintendo did with Metroid Prime 4. Or that you plan to work on it. Of all the games Nintendo is bring over to the Switch that already exist on other systems, I was hoping Mario Maker would make it over. You never know, perhaps someday in a direct or something. I say this because, I don't intend to get it, but it'll keep the servers going longer.

So those are pretty much my thoughts. Looking forward to: Metroid on 3DS, The Legend of Zelda: The Master Trials and The Legend of Zelda: The Champions' Balad for the wii u (also will be for the Switch), Horizon: Zero Dawn tog et it's 'full' ("Game of the Year") edition, and Wolfenstein 2 to get likewise for PC - if there will be any DLC, that is.   

June 11, 2017

Birthday is Coming


Well, it's about that time again! One month to go!

In a few weeks I shall age. In fact, following Tolkien's custom of a hobbit, I will come of age [33]. I definitely don't think I feel, or act, that way....try closer to 27-29.

I've always been glad that my birthday is in the summer. Summer is generally a fun time, despite the occasional heat and humidity. I usually opt for something BBQ'ed in the traditional sense: meaty, sticky, and smoky! It's also about half-way through the year.

Anyway, I try not to make a fuss. I don't expect much. A few close people, some good food, some good drink.

Truly, I'm not fussy about the gifts. There isn't anything I "ask" for; but there are some things I have my eye on. I'm trying to move past making and giving out wishlists.

So this post will showcase a few items that I have my eye on' so that my readers may "connect" with who I am. Please note that I am saving up for, and intending to buy a stereo system with a turntble sometime this summer.

GIFT CARDS

- Netflix
- LCBO
- Chapters iTunes

I find I'm constantly buying from those sources. Not meant as a bad thing, but I would not object to a bit of assistance with some of the expenses.

Other Items

- Hyrule Warriors for 3DS

- The Penguin Book of Norse Mythshttps://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/the-penguin-book-of-norse/9780241953211-item.html

- A History of Wales: https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/a-history-of-wales/9780140284751-item.html

- Exploring The Hobbit : https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/exploring-j-r-r-tolkiens/9780544106635-item.html

- The Languages of Tolkien: https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/the-languages-of-tolkiens-middleaearth/9780395291306-item.html 

- Rumours by Fleetwood Mac on vinyl: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B004OKFISQ/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pC_nS_img?_encoding=UTF8&colid=F68MQXZEZHSG&coliid=I3GNYI951Y316P 

- Quadrophenia by The Who on vinyl: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B005M17KFU/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pC_S_ttl?_encoding=UTF8&colid=F68MQXZEZHSG&coliid=I9YHHR15O7IA3

- Game of Thrones beer steins. I'd love to get both of these at once, which would complete my set. They are:

Lannister: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B00BFZ3O5C/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pC_S_ttl?_encoding=UTF8&colid=334OHARFDHZKQ&coliid=I3MEV33UR3HZL0

Baratheon: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B009Z07U40/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pC_S_ttl?_encoding=UTF8&colid=334OHARFDHZKQ&coliid=I2TJYH6U2I4T54

A decent mixed bag. There's a few books I'd like to receive that have peaked my interest. One or two vinyl albums; as I am intending to purchase a stereo system this summer sometime. I already have a few vinyls, as some of them may be harder to find over time; whereas the hardware equipment will always be around. Finally, a few more Game of Thrones beer mugs to close out my collection, which is fitting seeing as the show is headed towards its endgame.

June 7, 2017

"I'll Netflix That"



One thing that I'm doing, is starting up a blog series titled "I'll Netflix That." Whenever I use that expression on social media etc, some people take that as "that movie looks like crap." or "I don't want to see it." Neither is true...well, fully.

Here's the thing.

Cinema prices are expensive. (9/10, I see a movie with my lady. We usually do the IMAX version, and do snacks and/or supper out beforehand. Its fine financially every now and then. But for every single movie we want to see? Now it gets to cost a bit after awhile. So, we see the ones that we really want to see at the cinema, as well as the odd non-planned movie should we have enough Scene points.

The rest of the movies, I wait until they're available to download, or streaming on Netflix. Netflix's strength is some of its original shows (House of Cards, for instance).

I also don't have "TV", so I was able to watch some shows I was interested in thanks to Netflix. I'm currently watching Turn: Season 3 and will likely finish on Friday.

Here are some of the movies that I have on my Netflix list that I'll eventually watch and review:

- Ms Peregrine
- Big Hero 6
- Ice Age 5
- Fury
- Into the Woods
- Snowpiercer
- Turbo
- Captain Phillips
- Bridge of Spies
- Peanuts

And now for the 2017 films that I'll be 'waiting' on but still want to see:

- Underworld: Blood Wars
- Resident Evil 6
- The Great Wall
- The Lost City of Z
- The Circle
- Wonder Woman
- Despicable Me 3
- War of the Apes
- Valerian
- The Dark Tower
- Justice League
- Star Wars: Episode VIII 

June 6, 2017

Tolkien Tuesday: "Beren and Luthien"


Well, this is it - what could very well be the final Tolkien, and Middle-earth book (not counting anniversary or illustrated editions of existing material).

The announcement of the title surprised myself, as well as quite a few others. It seems that everyone involved with the book was keeping it under tight wraps. The very existence of it, I mean.

So, let's delve into the newest...and possibly final book.

The dustjacket features illustrations on the front and back, much like for The Children of Hurin. The texture is a matte / paper-y feel to it. Removing the dustjacket, the book itself is black with the writing embossed. Opening the book yields no frontispieces, anything on the reverse side of the boards, and no maps. Nothing folds out. Aside from the text itself on 'normal' paper, the colour plates are printed on glossy or plastisized photo-type paper. And that's it! I was honestly expecting the same fold-out map at the back of Beleriand and the Lands to the North, much like how The Children of Hurin had a slightly different variation of it. Ah well.

And that's pretty much all I can say about the book itself, in regards to how it's presented and any feature it may have. Just like The Children of Hurin, this one is somewhat of a judgement call, in regards to the material already existing elsewhere.

[my copy is nestled between The Children of Hurin and Tales From the Perilous Realm. I consider Perilous Realm to be a 'gateway' in, and out, of Middle-earth, because only story it contains is set there.] 

June 2, 2017

"The Joshua Tree" by U2 30th Anniversary



There they are: U2, in a reproduction of the cover from the monumental album The Joshua Tree.

This year, they're celebrating in a big way, with a Joshua Tree 30th Anniversary Tour. The album will most likely be played in its entirety, including additional B-Sides and bonus tracks. Find the details here: http://www.u2.com/tour/index/tour/id/79/ .

Today The Joshua Tree 30th Anniversary 7LP Deluxe Vinyl Boxed Set was also released [read about that here: http://insurrbution.blogspot.ca/2017/03/joshua-tree-30th-anniversary-edition.html . In short, anything and everything you could possibly wish for are included in that box.

May 23, 2017

"The Wheel of Time Companion" Review



I got this book a little bit ahead of publication date. Sometimes that happens.

I finished The Wheel of Time series a few years back (I believe it was 2013 or 2014 sometime, I forget which year; but I've documented all my Wheel of Time reviews.)

I haven't "read" this book, and that's because it's essentially an A-Z companion of the entire saga. One COULD read the book, cover to cover, AS a book but that's the intent for its existance.

So how can I review it then??

Because judging from the size, and nature of the contents, I know enough to give it a rating, and write about it.

First of all, the edition I got was the (trade) paperback (which, size-wise is about the size of a hardback, except it's made a paperback). I've always gotten The Wheel of Time as paperbacks. Way back when I started reading / buying the series, I believe the most recent book to be published in (mass market) paperback would have been Book 10, "Crossroads of Twilight." Since then, I strive for uniformity / matching formats within a series. Anyway, so the (trade) paperback of the Companion is the first published. there very could be the smaller, thicker, mass-market someday...but it wasn't the first to be published. In fact, to better explain, the book DEFINITELY matches the re-issues that TOR have been putting out here and there over the past few years. It'll definitely match with those. But since it's a Companion book, and not "Book #__" for instance, it's ok if it doesn't "match" the other titles. The fact that it's a Companion benefits the larger size. Maybe because of that it won't exist as a mass market brick of a book?

Like The Wheel of Time series, this book isn't perfect. There are possible errors in it, as indicated in the foreword itself. This is because the body of work is quite vast (14 books long, each being no shorter than 700 pages long, in mass market) and that Robert Jordan has passed away; therefore fact-checking more difficult than usual because of that.

The book serves as a great companion to the 14 books. There isn't a Table of contents, as it's A-Z formatted. However, the back cover [picks book up] states: "included in the book in A-Z format are: an entry for each named character, an inclusive dictionary of the Old Tongue, new maps of the Last Battle, new portraits of many characters, histories and customs of the nations of the world, the strength level of many channelers, descriptions f of the flora and fauna unique to the world, and much more. However, looking at what the book contains, finding some of those may be a tad tricky, if you don't know what to look under. the maps of the Last Battle, it makes sense they would theoritically be under the Last Battle entry. However, it could have been benefecial to separate portions of the Companion into sections. Not the entire thing. Have an A-Z listing, and then afterwards, perhaps group all the maps. Following the maps section, perhaps give the Old Tongue its own section. For all I know, that may have come up, but it's something I noticed about the book.

Another point I wish to address is spoilers. They mention spoilers in the beginning of the book. But how 'spoiler-y' are they? Would one ruin the reading experience if they were to use the Companion AS they read?? Again, as I haven't 'read' or 'used' this book yet, it's difficult to say. In fact, I just looked up a character and the book tells you EVERYTHING about them. Because of this, for anyone who's familiar, the book appears to be more akin to what Robert Foster's Comple Guide to Middle-earth is to The Hobbit, the Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion, rather than a 'guide'.

So I can easily recommend this to anyone who owns, and enjoyed, all 14 books. As well as those that plan to buy, or are purchasing, the 14 book series. I will caution its use, however, as it appears to be beneficial for re-reads, or best use post-series.

There is lots here that the readers and fans will love. If you've got all 14 books already, go for this one. If you are buying, or plan to buy all 14, get this; but get it last.

4 / 5

May 15, 2017

Beren and Luthien Tease


Pictured above is the backcover from the forthcoming Beren and Luthien. Before I get into this post, I will say a big thanks to "Tolkien Italia" for providing this info on The Tolkien Society's Facebook group page. What follows is what they've posted to the group:
News about "Beren and Luthien" with extracts from Christopher's Preface.Here's the table of contents:

CONTENTS

- List of plates (p.8)
- Preface (p.9)

- Beren and Lúthien (p. 27)
- Appendix: Revisions to “The Lay of Leithian” (p.257)

- List of Names (p.274)
- Cat3 (p. 286)
------------------------------------------

In addition, some extracts from the preface of Christopher Tolkien.

«After the publication of The Silmarillion in 1977 I spent several years investigating the earlier history of the work, and writing a book which I called “The History of The Silmarillion”. Later this because the (somewhat shortened) basis of the earlier volumes of “The History of Middle-earth”.
In 1981 I wrote at length to Rayner Unwin, the chairman of Allen and Unwin, giving him an account of what I had been, and was still, doing. At that time, as I informed him, the book was 1,968 pages long and sixteen and a half inches across, and obviously not for publication.
[...]
'In theory, I could produce a lot of books out of the History, and there are many possibilities and combinations of possibilities. For example, I could do "Beren", with the original Lost Tales, “The Lay of Leithian”, and an essay on the development of the legend. My preference, if it came to anything so positive, would probably be for the treating of one legend as a developing entity, rather than to give all the Lost Tales at one go; but the difficulties of exposition in detail would in such a case be great, because one would have to explain so often what was happening elsewhere, in other unpublished writings.'»

The transition living resource is particularly significant because it shows the massive problems of a curator that, even if I wanted to give prominence to individual legends in their specific evolution, can't ignore the difficulties that readers would face without having available to all the other legends in their interdependent and sometimes Contemporary in the same evolution; he does it with the words of the same curator Christopher, extrapolated directly from a letter of the period. This is also the first public admission of Christopher Tolkien about the existence of a book prior to "the history of middle-Earth" dedicated to the history of literary works paterne he designed and produced in those years; Rayner Unwin had spoken, without Titolarlo indirectly, in a book review published in 2000 (Flieger & Hostetter 2000, " Tolkien' S Tolkien's legendarium "), while the words " the history of the silmarillion " appeared only in private matches of Christopher.

We understand how easily, soon the idea of presenting the whole corpus of legends divided into periods the diary of composition took over. The following may disappoint many fans.

«I seem now to have done precisely that - though with no thought of what I had said in my letter to Rayner Unwin thirty-five years ago: I had altogether forgotten it, until I came on it by chance when this book was all but completed.
There is however a substantial difference between it and my original idea, which is a difference of context. Since then, a large part of the in close store of manuscripts pertaining to the First Age, or Elder Days, has been published, in close and detailed editions: chiefly in volumes of “The History of Middle-earth”. The idea of a book devoted to the evolving
story of 'Beren' that I ventured to mention to Rayner Unwin as a possible publication would have brought to light much hitherto unknown and unavailable writing. But this book does not offer a single page of original and unpublished work.»

No news text, so, despite implicitly Christopher admit that further textual material exists. What Relevance, unfortunately, we cannot know, even if we can be reasonably trust not crucial. Of course Christopher one is to explain what it is, then, the sense of a similar publication and her explanations will be satisfactory.

«What then is the need, now, for such a book?
I will attempt to provide an (inevitably complex) answer, or several answers. In the first place, an aspect of those editions was the presentation of the texts in a way that adequately displayed my father's apparently eccentric mode of composition (often in fact imposed by external pressures), and so to discover the sequence of stages in the development of a narrative, and to justify my interpretation of the evidence.
[...]
It is an essential feature of this book that these developments in the legend of Beren and Luthien are shown in my father's own words, for the method that I have employed is the extraction of passages from much longer manuscripts in prose or verse written over many years.»

What can we infer the composition of this new book?

First of all, we can be sure that this book is not an operation identical to that accomplished for "the children of hùrin". this new book will be organized as a literary history of deeds of beren and lúthien, presented in the form stages of different versions of the various Periods, intact, without a summary narrative (often failed) on the model of the chapters of "the silmarillion".
Then we can safely conclude (see also the table of contents) something about the versions that are derived from:
- the poem "the lay of leithian" will be brought back at least for large steps of the versions of the 30 s, with in appendix revisions of the early 50 s;
- the first version, contained in the " lost tales, it will be just as present.
Hard instead exposure about versions synthetic more present in the various annals and in the drafts of The Silmarillion.
Source: Images And texts preview of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt from harpercollins license: © Tolkien Summer Limited 2017, preface by © CR. Tolkien, 2017 illustration by © Alan Lee.

Spinoffs of Ice and Fire



There's been quite a bit of buzz going around lately about the recently announced Game of Thrones spinoffs. George R.R. Martin himself sets the record straight via a blog post:

So while I was on the road out California way, the story broke about the four GAME OF THRONES spinoffs that HBO is developing. And of course the news has since spread everywhere, all over the web and all over the world.

Yes, it's true. More or less. Though, as is all too common these days, various distortions and misapprehensions have crept into some of the reports along the way. And television being the fast-moving business that it is, there have already been some further developments.

For what it's worth, I don't especially like the term "spinoff," and I don't think it really applies to these new projects. What we're talking about are new stories set in the "secondary universe" (to borrow Tolkien's term) of Westeros and the world beyond, the world I created for A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE. It is a world, and a pretty big one, and if there were eight million stories in the naked city back in the 50s, just think how many more there are in an entire world, and one with thousands of years of recorded history.

None of these new shows will be 'spinning off' from GOT in the traditional sense. We are not talking Joey or AfterMASH or even Frazier or Lou Grant, where characters from one show continue on to another. So all of you who were hoping for the further adventures of Hot Pie are doomed to disappointment. Every one of the concepts under discussion is a prequel, rather than a sequel. Some may not even be set on Westeros. Rather than 'spinoff' or 'prequel,' however, I prefer the term 'successor show.' That's what I've been calling them.

Yes, I am involved, and have been for months. I had my first meeting with HBO about the possibility of a successor show back in August, when I pitched them two possible series. (One of those is among the concepts being developed, one is not). In the months that followed, other writers were brought in and pitched other ideas. Ultimately HBO decided to go ahead with four separate developments, to be written by Max Borenstein, Jane Goldman, Brian Helgeland, and Carly Wray.

It was stated in some of the reports that I am working with two of the four writers. That's not quite right. I've actually been working with all four of the writers. Every one of the four has visited me here in Santa Fe, some of them more than once, and we've spent days together discussing their ideas, the history of Westeros and the world beyond, and sundry details found only in The World of Ice & Fire and The Lands of Ice & Fire... when we weren't drinking margaritas and eating chile rellenos and visiting Meow Wolf. They are all amazing talents, and I am excited to be working with them. In between visits, I've been in touch with them by phone, text, and email, and I expect there will be a lot more back-and-forth as we move forward.

And there's more. We had four scripts in development when I arrived in LA last week, but by the time I left we had five. We have added a fifth writer to the original four. No, I will not reveal the name here. HBO announced the names of the first four, and will no doubt announce the fifth as well, once his deal has closed. He's a really terrific addition, however, a great guy and a fine writer, and aside from me and maybe Elio and Linda, I don't know anyone who knows and loves Westeros as well as he does.

Some of the reports of these developments seem to suggest that HBO might be adding four successor shows to the schedule to replace GAME OF THRONES. Decades of experience in television and film have taught me that nothing is ever really certain... but I do think it's very unlikely that we'll be getting four (or five) series. At least not immediately. What we do have here is an order for four -- now five -- pilot scripts. How many pilots will be filmed, and how many series might come out of that, remains to be seen. (If we do get five series on the air, I might have to change my name to Dick Direwolf).

The one goal that EVERYONE involved shares here is to make these new shows just as good as GAME OF THRONES itself. No easy task, mind you. David Benioff and Dan Weiss are a tough, tough act to follow, as all those Emmys demonstrate.

I can't tell you what the shows will be about (well, I could, but I won't), but I will tell you a couple of things they WON'T be. Which will disappoint some of you, sure, but better to do that now than later, I think.

We're not doing Dunk & Egg. Eventually, sure, I'd love that, and so would many of you. But I've only written and published three novellas to date, and there are at least seven or eight or ten more I want to write. We all know how slow I am, and how fast a television show can move. I don't want to repeat what happened with GAME OF THRONES itself, where the show gets ahead of the books. When the day comes that I've finished telling all my tales of Dunk & Egg, then we'll do a tv show about them... but that day is still a long ways off.

We're not doing Robert's Rebellion either. I know thousands of you want that, I know there's a petition... but by the time I finish writing A SONG OF ICE & FIRE, you will know every important thing that happened in Robert's Rebellion. There would be no surprises or revelations left in such a show, just the acting out of conflicts whose resolutions you already know. That's not a story I want to tell just now; it would feel too much like a twice-told tale.

More than that, I will not say. Feel free to makes your guesses, if you like... but I am not going to be confirming or denying anything, so don't expect replies.

And yes, before someone asks, I AM STILL WORKING ON WINDS OF WINTER and will continue working on it until it's done. I will confess, I do wish I could clone myself, or find a way to squeeze more hours into the day, or a way to go without sleep. But this is what it is, so I keep on juggling. WINDS OF WINTER, five successor shows, FIRE AND BLOOD (that's the GRRMarillion, remember?), four new Wild Cards books, some things I can't tell you about yet... it's a good thing I love my work.

So there you have it!!

The important things to take away:

- it won't be Robert's Rebellion
- it won't be Dunk and Egg (yet)
- he's still writing The Winds of Winter.

George's blog post can be found here: http://grrm.livejournal.com/536859.html

2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs: Eat & Western Finals



Well this is definitely a surprise!!

Ottawa has made it to the Eastern Final against Pittsburgh (and won the first game, as well).

I am definitely pleasantly surprised that Ottawa has done so well thus far during the playoffs to make it this far. Keep it up Ottawa, you can win this.....

In the West, the final two teams are Anaheim and Nashville. I'm pulling for Nashville; with hopes of an Ottawa - Nashville Cup Final....with Ottawa winning, of course.

We'll see how it goes, but the playoff hockey has definitely heated up now!