The same guy who made the first one made an equally excellent second edition.

Y'know, I started updating the old Amazon wish list and adding a lot of instructional material on swing rhythm guitar. And then I realized that in this lifetime, I'm just not going to get around to learning swing rhythm guitar. I guess I'll be busy enough playing saxophone at what is shaping up to be a SERIES of benefit shows for my sick buddy.

A couple years back, I decided to always get CT a folk percussion instrument for Christmas, and always get Jeeg a kung fu DVD. That makes things easy.

So...I'm back to an assortment of CDs, with a few RPG items like Ars Magica 5th Edition. And some new ties, maybe.

What are you nerds hoping for?

Yeah, yeah...another Star Trek post. But this is just a fun video showing a bunch of continuity glitches. Whether you watched the shows or not, it's funny to watch this video and impressive someone took the time to put it together.

Has anyone gotten around to renting "Nemesis" to see if there's any explanation of what Wes is doing these days?


Didn't think so.

You and I already checked the novelization. We know what he's going to be doing--night shift chief of engineering on the Titan.

Oh, yeah. That's right.

Doesn't that seem like an awful anticlimax for this guy who was supposed to be the Chosen One? He's about 30 and he's doing the same job as Barkley or some nameless redshirt?

Perhaps, but that's a means to connect with the Gen X and Gen Y readers who squandered potential. You know, readers like me.

Right. Because a master's degree in a computer-related field is just the first step on the road to welfare.

But Wes had a better job than "night shift engineering on the Titan" when he was freakin' 15. Kirk was a CAPTAIN at 35. If Wesley is the Mozart of starships, shouldn't he be...I dunno...First Officer by now?

[Granted, he apparently screwed off for a few years and got high with Indians...]

I blame the Traveler. He suckered Wesley into some galactic Siegfried and Roy bit.
Several years ago while I was working at the comic book store, I would occasionally get some food from a place across the street. At the time, the place was called "The No Name Saloon." It had been several things previous to that, and it's been several things since. "No Name" was one of those hole-in-the-wall places where the ambiance wasn't that great, but the food was pretty good. Definitely a "call ahead, run in, get your food, get out" kind of place.

It was here I was introduced to something called the Aspen Burger. That was the only thing I ever got there. It was a 1/4 lb. burger topped with a thick slice of cream cheese and crumbled bacon. That's it. A hamburger topped with cream cheese and bacon. Appalling, right? No, not because of the lack of additional ingredients. Not because it takes a year off the end of your life just by smelling it. It was appalling because I had never thought of it up until that point.

I've done some googling. There are several places out there that have an Aspen Burger. It looks like most of them have blue cheese, mushrooms, or plenty of other interesting toppings. The Beef House in Convington, Ind. is the only place I found that has what I consider to be a true Aspen Burger.

Of course, if you don't want to make the trek to Indiana (and really, why would you?) you can make one for yourself. It's simple. I made one for myself just tonight.

My friend C-Will recently sent me a link to this article. The question is:

You're in a tight spot, it doesn't look hopeful. Who do you want to have with you?
a) John McClane
b) Jack Bauer
c) Indiana Jones
d) MacGyver
e) Lara Croft
f) Jason Bourne

According to the article, MacGuyver won the poll. But I think there's a better answer.

Initially, I've got to look at the mortality rate of those around the heroes. I'm ruling out Jack Bauer right away because almost all the people he cares about are killed. The odds of surviving with Jason Bourne are only about 50/50.

Odds of surviving with the rest are pretty good, so then it's a matter of looking at how much each had to deal with and how they were able to get out of it. I would rank MacGuyver at the lowest level of danger and a high level of suspension of disbelief. So, translate that to the real world, is he going to have the experience to get me out of a tough scrape and is he going to be able to use his usual tricks in real life? I'm going to say no and rule him out.

I'd put Lara Croft (movie version according to the article) at the next highest level of danger and then Indiana Jones at a level slightly higher than her. However, both have a supernatural/sci-fi element to their stories that also may not translate to the real world. It's hard to give either the edge because of that.

John McClane has certainly been through the most dangerous circumstances of anyone on the list and come out with the most surviving companions. So, with that in mind, I choose John McClane as my answer to the question. Indy would be my second choice.

Some other don't want to be in a tight spot with Captain Kirk, Ripley from the Alien movies, and probably not James Bond. You'd be in good shape if you were in a tight spot with the good Terminator from T2 or T3, most of the super heroes (Superman, Batman, Spider-Man), and The A-Team. Also, if you are an old friend of Captain Picard, you might want to renounce that friendship. My dad and I used to joke about how many "old friends" of Picard's used to get killed on the show.

What's your answer?
Within the last year or two, I've coined a term that I think applies to many facets of life but has its roots in "nerdom." That term is "The Lazenby Effect."

Sean Connery owned the role of James Bond for five movies before finally stepping away from the role. Almost universally loved to this day, there was no one who could fill the shoes left by Sean Connery effectively. Roger Moore went on to fill the role successfully in his own way for quite some time, but could he have immediately followed Connery and been as successful?

I doubt the decision was conscious on the part of the producers, but in retrospect, there's a bit of wisdom in choosing someone like George Lazenby to take over for Sean Connery in "On Her Majesty's Secret Service." Choosing someone who is essentially an unknown and quite different from Connery served to facilitate an acceptance of someone else on the part of the viewers and fans. Roger Moore could not follow Connery, but he couldn't help but look great following Lazenby.

I know...I know...technically Moore did follow Connery since Connery came back for "Diamonds Are Forever." But, the Lazenby Effect was already taking place and people remembered that there were worse options than Roger Moore.

In order to keep Lazenby from killing off the franchise, there was another wise decision on the part of the producers. Padding that casting choice with a solid script and supporting cast (Telly Savalas and Diana Rigg) actually turned Lazenby's Bond into one of the best 007 movies ever produced.

So, for the Lazenby Effect to take place, you need the following...

1. Someone or something in the public eye that is generally well-liked or revered.
2. That someone or something will be going away.
3. That someone or something is replaced with a new someone or something that is obviously inferior.
4. The new someone or something is surrounded with outside substantial support.
5. The new someone or something is replaced yet again by someone or something that is better than the current option, but maybe still not as good as the original.

The Lazenby Effect is out there and come in all kinds of situations. When something is a tough act to follow, I wonder why we try at all. Why not stick a buffer in there and enact the Lazenby Effect?
I will preface my review of this movie by stating that there were three things I wanted out of Transformers:
1. I wanted to see cars that turned into robots.
2. I wanted to see robots that turned into cars (or other vehicles).
3. I wanted to see those robots fight each other.
4. I also wanted to see the cars race each other. (optional)

I got all four things.

Ultimately, it wasn't all that great of a story, but it served the purpose of achieving the three goals. There was a lot of things that I didn't really get. There were a lot of things that happened for the sheer convenience. Some things seemed a little hokey. And not all of the dialog was that great. But, cars turned into robots, robots turned into cars, robots fought and cars chased. I'll give them one walrus for each of those things, but take away one for the annoying and unnecessary Rachael Taylor character.

Up until now, the only Michael Bay movie I liked was the first 40 minutes of The Island. I can't stand Michael Bay movies. That said, once I heard he was directing Transformers, I knew he would be perfect. This is Transformers so the level of realism you might be expecting in Pearl Harbor or maybe even Armageddon, doesn't really matter. So, all that crazy action that Michael Bay can do gets to come to the forefront of the movie and allow his style to shine.

The special effects were some of the best I have ever seen. There were only two shots that looked cgi. The rest blended seamlessly into the shots.

Shia LaBeouf was good and comical. He seems to have gotten out of the awkward phase of growing up and matured even since his days on Even Stevens. A lot of the acting and voice work was appropriate for the film. I was surprised by the casting of Hugo Weaving as Megatron. Not so much that he was cast, but that he didn't really get a chance to shine and even when he had his moments, his voice was so altered, I wondered why they bothered.

From a presentation standpoint, I can't come up with any major reasons not to give it a perfect 5. Even if I could, Megan Fox makes up for those imperfections.

Story score--

Presentation score--

And, I'll give it a rewatchable walrus although I wish there was a slightly shorter version that mainly just had the robots fighting.
Setting aside the debate about whether a reboot of Trek should be done at all (and it's something I haven't decided about myself), if a reboot is to be done, the casting is key to the relaunch being successful. Ultimately, what made Classic Trek work as well as any of the other shows that did work was the chemistry between the characters. It doesn't take great actors, it just takes the right ones.

As I've followed the casting rumors and news, I've questioned some of the casting decisions. With the exception of Simon Pegg as Scotty, most of the casting choices have seems like "pretty boy" casting. That's not to say pretty boys can't act, but well, they usually can't.

So, here are my casting choices for a reboot. Some of these are borrowed ideas from message boards I've read over the past few years. Others are my own ideas. But, I could see this cast working solidly together much like the original crew.

Clicking the images make them appear larger...

Captain James T. Kirk : Mark Wahlberg

Commander Spock : Josh Hartnett

Dr. Leonard McCoy : Gary Sinise

Lt. Montgomery "Scotty" Scott : Paul McGillion
(This one's for you PLee)

Lt. Hikaru Sulu : Daniel Dae Kim

Lt. Uhura : Aisha Tyler

Ensign Chekov : Jared Padalecki
(This one is for you Wiisty)

So, as we comment on this post, I'm up for debating not only the cast, but the pros and cons of a Star Trek reboot? Should one be done at all? If so, what do you think of the cast they've been lining up? Who would you choose instead?
Over on the right side of this blog, we've added a few links to some Cafe Press merchandise you can get that is Nerd Lunch themed. In honor of PLee's friend, during October and November, any proceeds we get from sales of the Nerd Lunch items will be donated to the funds that will be collected at the benefit concert.

So, if you were thinking about getting a Nerd Lunch coffee mug but weren't sure, go ahead, buy one. Buy one to battle cancer.

This isn't a nerd topic, strictly speaking...I used to play sax in an R&B/soul band called Dr. Wu. I wasn't that great of a player, but I understood the style, and I was a pretty fair singer, and mostly I became the guy who talked to the audience between songs and convinced them that they were being entertained. I quit in summer of 2000, but have played the occasional fill-in / reunion show since.

An old bandmate just found out he has cancer, and I am now obsessed with getting a veritable army of local musicians together and putting on the best damn benefit gig ever.

The nerd angle here is that this feels like an "Assembling the Team" montage, as I blogged about a couple of months back. There is a job that needs to be done, we need to round up a team with the specialized skills and the experience to do the job, and then we are coming and Hell is coming with us.

Maybe the other nerd angle is that to me, the symbolism of the thing is more important than the money we raise. Hopefully, Mark will recover and play for many years to come . . . but maybe he won't. And since he might not . . . well, a man who has devoted his whole life to music deserves a show that people will remember for the rest of their lives. He deserves a show that will shake the pillars of Heaven and let them know a trumpet player is coming.
The Sons of Hercules! would be an homage to the sword-and-sandals movies that came out of Italy in the late 50s and 60s, usually starring Steve Reeves or another bodybuilder as a Classical Age superhero, smiting evil and posing impressively and speaking in a rich baritone. Since RPGs have an unlimited budget, you could mix in the Harryhausen and some contemporary stuff like 300 and Troy.

In researching the genre, I learned that a lot of these movies were syndicated for American TV under the name “The Sons of Hercules,” with little changes to the English dubbing to reflect that the hero of each of these (unrelated) movies was a son of Hercules.

Now, you read a little more, and you learn that in Greek myth, Hercules actually married the fifty daughters of King Thespius on the same day and impregnated them all on the same night and they all bore him strong sons.

So there’s a convenient hook for an RPG — assume that Thespius fostered his heroic grandsons to various other kings and princes all over the map (knowing that fifty demigods in one kingdom gets kind of crowded). The PCs are some of these brothers reunited after long years apart. Maybe they are competing to prove who is the rightful heir of Hercules; maybe they travel from kingdom to kingdom seeking their other brothers (some of whom are bad, or at least unmanageable); maybe they just smite evil and kill monsters and bed dancing girls. It’s all good.

No, not that Last Action Hero.

Something that has been on my mind recently is the dwindling pipeline of action flicks and the lack of new action hero stars. In the days of my youth, Hollywood had more big name action stars than Barry White had love songs. My big four would be Schwarzenegger, Stallone, Willis, and Gibson, but reasonable arguments could be made for the tier 2 action prowesses of Lundgren, Van Damme, and Seagal as well. While I'm glad that Steven Seagal has gotten old (and incredibly fat), sadly we're reaching the end of line for Mad Max, Rocky, and John McLain. Unfortunately, I don't see any obvious candidates waiting in the wings to fill the action hero gap. Let's take a look at some contenders.

  • Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson – A couple years ago, I would have bet the farm that The Rock would ascend to the top of the action star heap. Schwarzenegger had even passed the torch to The Rock during a scene in The Rundown. But since then, the Rock has yet to land a bigger hit and is currently starring in The Game Plan, which seems like his own version of Kindergarten Cop or The Kid. There's nothing wrong with those, but I didn't expect Rocky to be doing a version only 6 years into his film career. He's still in his early 30s and has plenty of time for action roles, but the Rock appears to be heading down a different path at the moment.
  • Matt Damon – Damon is one of my favorite actors and his turns in the Bourne movies have been very well done. The guy is well respected and connected in Hollywood and should continue to have his choice of everything from art house films to blockbusters. However, that means he is just as likely to be in Oceans Fourteen or the film adaptation of The Informant as an add-on to the Bourne trilogy. With his diverse projects, I'm not sure how many more action romps we can expect from Good Will Hunting.
  • Christian Bale – The 21st century Batman will be roaming the streets of Gotham City again next summer. Genres like superhero or action movies are inevitably cited as limiting or beneath serious actors, so Bale's willingness to embrace quality roles which are clearly not Shakespearian theatre is a good sign for future action stardom. Bale has also worked around the periphery of straight-up action films in Reign of Fire, Rescue Dawn, and 3:10 to Yuma. Like The Rock, Bale is under 35 and could have a long and effective run as an action hero if he so chooses.
  • Eric Bana – Bana had a good action run several years back with Black Hawk Down, Hulk, and Troy. However, it's unclear if Bana will reprise his superhero role in any Hulk sequels and his recent projects have tended towards dramas. He seems to be on a George Clooney or Russell Crowe track, but I think it is too early to remove him from the action star radar screen.
  • Orlando Bloom –With both the Lord of the Rings and Pirates of the Caribbean on his résumé, Bloom certainly knows how to choose the blockbusters to sign on to. He also starred in Kingdom of Heaven and alongside Bana in Troy and Black Hawk Down. While a solid roster of titles, Bloom always seems to be part of an ensemble where he is second fiddle to the true hero of the narrative. I'm unconvinced that he could carry a film as the solo hero.
  • Shia LaBeouf – He's a dark horse to be sure, but perhaps LaBeouf is the new mold that leaves the big muscles/big explosions/big guns action hero in the past. A gangly kid with good acting chops should find himself in dramas or relegated to the occasional role as nerdy tech genius in action flicks, but LaBeouf is starting to build quite the portfolio. He's following up Transformers with a role in the new Indiana Jones movie, a thriller centering around a terrorist assassination plot, and possibly a Transformers sequel. A far cry from playing Louis Stevens on the Disney Channel.

Who am I missing? Is there anybody who can save us from poor quality direct-to-DVD action movies?