Labor Day Weekend – Lord of the Rings (Extended) Marathon

This year marks the beginning of a new tradition!

Henceforth, Labor Day weekend will mean a full viewing of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Of course, the extended editions are the only ones I’ll allow in my BD-player, so it looks like a little over 12 hours of epic movie for myself and anyone who happens to show up.

Between movies I plan on playing some of the 26+ hours of special features as well – should be exciting!

Kicking it off with Fellowship of the Ring right now, wish me luck!

Guardians…WHA? Again!?

I watched Guardians of the Galaxy again this last weekend, but this time I watched it in 3D.  I just wanted to leave a short post regarding the 3D portion of the movie – it was pretty good! 

There were a few stand-out moments, including the scene where Groot lights up the area with his lantern spore things.  At one point, a character threw a dagger towards the camera and it actually made me flinch.  I don’t usually prescribe to the 3D movie thing (I find it’s quite gimmicky), but there ARE a small handful of movies that I have appreciated in 3D, or at least that’s what Guardians has shown me.  The only other one I’ve seen, from what I remembre, that was truly well-done in 3D was Avatar. 

Hmm…Guardians was certainly better than Avatar, so I guess that means that it is also the BEST 3D movie experience I have ever had.  If that’s not a good review, I don’t know what is.

What are your thoughts?  Any good 3D movies I missed out on?  Let me know in the comments section below.

As always, thanks for reading!

Guardians of the Galaxy

Hello readers!

I had to post with my weigh-in of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy.  I’ll start by saying: if you haven’t already seen this gem of a film, go out and do it!

When I first saw news that this was being made into a movie (sometime last year, I think), I wasn’t overly excited.  I’ve read a LOT of comics over the years and have felt a strong connection to many of their characters, but never did I have this connection to Star Lord, Gamora, Draxx, Rocket, or Groot.

I’m only mildly familiar with the characters in Guardians from their comic versions, actually, but am happy to say that I will be joining the inevitable cosmic bandwagon to read up on these unlikely heroes.

The movie itself is among my top three of 2014 so far, along with Captain America: TWS and Edge of Tomorrow.  Guardians runs to a little over 2 hours in length, but not once did it slow down.  In some movies, this can be a bad thing, but Guardians handled its plot with near-perfect poise.  It included just enough cheese and humor, while somehow maintaining an overall sense of seriousness that NEEDS to exist when the fate of the universe is in question.

Star Lord, played by Chris Pratt, was funny and witty all while kicking serious ass – very much like the Han Solo’esque character he is meant to be.  Zoe Saldana’s Gamora was likeable and different, conveying a commanding presence that makes you wonder (at first) why she needs any of the other jokers with her to succeed.  Though Vin Diesel only spoke a total of 4 unique words in the entire movie, Groot was arguably the most charming of the bunch.  That, by the way, is saying a lot for a CG tree-creature.  Draxx was surprising; a lot of circumstantial humor arose from his complete inability to understand sarcasm or metaphor, while still channeling a flood of emotion (which David Bautista pulled off quite well).  Bradley Cooper of The Hangover series’ fame filled any remaining gap in humor with Rocket – the talking raccoon was the but of many sly jokes, but dished as well as he gave.

All of these characters came together to form a team that, most importantly, made sense.  After watching the first portion of the movie, I don’t think anyone would be scratching their heads, wondering why these unlikely allies would set their differences aside to work together.  Credit for that goes to the writer and director, as well as the actors.  I think that reviewer Daniel Kruppa said it best:

“When they inevitably embrace their identity as a team – in one of the film’s sharpest scenes – it makes total sense and feels right. These characters would fight for each other. It was impressive in The Avengers, which capitalized on the foundations laid by several movies over many years, but [director James] Gunn pulls it off in little over two hours. Bravo.”- IGN.com

It will be interesting to see this movie’s ongoing effect in Hollywood as well.  Having made over $100 million over its opening weekend, Guardians proves that Marvel can be successful with a lesser-known franchise.  This might prompt them to take more risks, the success of which could ripple throughout the movie-making world.

A sequel has already been approved, but until then I will be eagerly burying myself in Annihilation and Annihilation: Conquest before reading Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2.

If anyone else is interested in reading some Guardians goodness, check out this handy reading order image!

What did you think of the movie?  Share your comments, questions, and concerns by clicking the comment link below.

As always, thanks for reading!

Pathfinder Battles

Hello readers!

I thought I would share an interesting new purchase with you: some randomized goodies from the Pathfinder Battles series of pre-painted miniatures.

Now, I don’t usually purchase miniatures.  I love them, but for the most part, they scare me.

Games like Warhammer have never been my style – or rather, maybe, I’m not theirs.  It seems like those massive, miniature table-top games require a certain type of person to really sink their teeth into them.  To get set up to play even your first game seems like a great investment of time and money.  It’s not that I couldn’t do it, but like I said above, they scare me – I’m pretty confident that once I got going the inertia would carry me forward until I was penniless and alone.  But that’s just me.

The Pathfinder Battle miniatures, however, I picked up on a whim.  They aren’t part of a larger game, though they do have a collectible aspect to them that is akin to opening a booster pack from Magic: The Gathering.  They come in multiple box sizes and each box contains an assortment of randomized, pre-painted miniatures.  What makes this line of minis fit for me is that since they are already painted, the time investment is severely reduced.  Not only that, but the need to buy paint and model supplies is gone.  The best part (that might only apply to my delicate psyche) is the dissociation from a larger, meta-game.  For me, this alleviates some of that cash investment (I won’t be as eager to purchase that next figure).

Without further ado:
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The above figures were contained within 3 boxes total: two small boxes (each containing a single small, figurine) and one ‘standard booster’ (containing a large figure, and 3 medium or small figures).

I opened the single boxes first, and was pretty let down.  I believe they were in the neighborhood of about $3/ea. and I got the Human Rogue and the City Watch dudes to the left in the above picture.  The colors seemed drab and the detail was pretty terrible.

when I opened the standard booster box, however, I was pleasantly surprised!  The large figure (the ogre/giant) is sculpted and painted in great detail, with vibrant colors that popped.  The same quality was present in the other 3 figures in that box.  These included a neat-looking kobold warrior with purple/black scales, a lamia monster, and a named character from the Rise of the Runelords Pathfinder adventure path: Ameiko Kaijitsu.

Overall, I was pretty happy with this purchase.  It ran about 21.99+tax (15.99 for the standard box, 3.00/ea. for the small boxes).  I don’t plan on buying these on a regular basis, but it would be neat to pick them up once in a while.

If you read this and care to chime in on your thoughts about these figures, please leave a comment by clicking below!  Do you think they’re well-made?  Do you have anything to say that might make me reconsider my fear of buying more miniatures?

As always, thanks for reading -

Fool’s Assassin

I am so happy to see that Robin Hobb (an absolutely fantastic fantasy author) has a new book coming out – and the release date is swiftly approaching!

I greatly enjoyed The Farseer Trilogy and have yet to read anything that handles animals as well as Hobb’s work.  I’m even more excited that when the new book, Fool’s Assassin, releases on 8/12/14, it will mark the beginning of a whole new trilogy following some of my favorite characters of the genre!

Fool's Assassin

Reserve your copy now at your local book store or on Amazon.com.

The Umbral Meadow

This is it…my first post.  This is good, right?  I have nothing to beat; nothing that has previously set my standard.  But then, this will set my standard.  Oh my -

The topic of this entry is The Umbral Meadow itself – or rather, how I decided on the name and what it means.

PathfinderRPGLogo_500

One thing I will probably post a lot about is my love of the Pathfinder RPG system.  I was first introduced to this gaming system back in 2009, and it has been my favorite ever since.  Pathfinder, for anyone who does not know, is much like Dungeons and Dragons.  Generally speaking, you and a few friends sit around a table and roll dice, playing out characters as they react to crazy situations.

Generally speaking, that is.  I have had the pleasure of discovering what’s called Play-by-post gaming.  You see, back in 2009 I was knee-deep in college work and didn’t know a lot of people that were interested in these types of games.  And so, I browsed online and by luck found what would become a sort of home away from home at PbPHouse.com.

I’ll talk more about pbp gaming in a future post, but the takeaway here is that the pace is very, very different from a live, sitting-around-the-table game.  At one of those games, you could expect to fight a few bad guys and progress in the story within the span of hours.  In pbp gaming (a venue that works great for people w/ busy schedules and personal lives), a single combat against a nasty werewolf could last two weeks or longer.  This allows for a lot of planning and forethought to go into each and every single one of your posts.

Well, recently, I began a new character for a brand new game: a Fetchling Investigator.  For this character’s background, it was important to bring in aspects of his race and class.  A Fetchling is descended from humans that were forced into living in the Shadow Plane – a place where the most vibrant color you will  find is a shade of grey.  My character, Malakai, has grown up his entire life in the material plane, or the ‘normal world’.  This is where the ‘Umbral’ part of this blog’s title comes from, as Umbral is derived from the word for ‘shadow’ in Latin.  It also means ‘threshold’ in Spanish; giving it two meanings that make sense in context.

Another aspect of this character is his class; being an investigator he is good at mixing alchemy, potions, and poisons.  As part of this character’s background, I wanted him to have been running a store that specialized in those things.  On the outside, I thought, it should look pleasant and distinct while also hinting at the darker side of the human condition.

Thus, The Umbral Meadow was born!  It took me a good amount of time, sitting and thinking – trying to find something that bridged the gap of pleasant comfort and the unknown.  ‘Umbral’ I liked right away when it popped into my head; I mean, come on – a word that means shadow for a dude’s store that comes from the plane of friggin’ shadow?  How perfect.  In the end, I chose ‘meadow’ because, for me, it represents clarity and comfort – standing in the middle of a meadow is peaceful and you can see all around you for a good distance.  You know you’re alone, and that’s okay.

This blog then, I chose to name after that store.  It will be its own Umbral Meadow, hopefully being a threshold to things not only comforting and fun, but also new and exciting.

Thanks for reading – if you have any comments or questions, use the comment box below.