Dirty Dave’s Trip to Gen Con

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Note from Jeeg: The granddaddy of all role playing conventions, Gen Con, took place a couple weeks back. Our nerd buddy, Dirty Dave (or “The Dave” as CT and I like to call him), made the trip to Indy and filed this first ever Nerd Lunch correspondent’s report.

This was my second year consecutively to attend Gen Con in Indianapolis. I have overheard people both years stating that "this year is smaller", but it definitely seemed a large affair to me. The exhibitor's hall was packed with all things fantastic, including demos of games like Monsterpocalypse and Arcane Legions, lots of great artists, craftsmen/craftswomen, and musicians as well as almost any book, T-shirt, game or related item you can think of. I took note that Fantasy Flight Games had a very strong presence this year. They were heavily marketing descent along with several middle earth based board games as well as Call of Cthulhu.

Inside Exhibit Hall

The gaming was in full force including live action and table top role playing, board games, card games, video games and miniature warfare to name a few. I personally partook in two sessions of Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 and attempted to play Darwin's World (a role playing game set in a post apocalyptic world similar to Fallout). The only other person who showed up for my 10 AM Darwin's World session was creator and gamemaster Chris Davis. If you are going to Gen Con and want to try something new I recommend Darwin's World, just make sure that you show up so I get to play.

I made it to the infamous costume contest for the first time this year. There are always lots of interesting, creative and revealing costumes with something for Ice Elemental (Jeeg cropped out the ogler)everyone. The contest was a bit long for my taste as we were in line at 3:20 PM and didn't get out of the show until around 6 PM, but it was very impressive to see some of the best costumes of the con. The winner of best in show, by audience approval, was the Ice Elemental.

There were also many costumed individuals wandering the convention, both paid and unpaid I suspect, and many that caught the eye with such variety as Chewbacca (obviously on drywall stilts), Red Sonya (in a chainmail bikini), and many many anime characters.

Since I was visiting Indianapolis with my good friend and last year’s Call of Cthulhu collectable card game world champion Scott Ferguson, I also spent some time in the card game arena.  It was massive, crowded, and I believe it ran around the clock. Magic the Gathering had a very strong presence, but there were lots of different games available for demo or competition.

That's my take on this year's convention. I had a great time and I plan to make it an annual event. For anyone who hasn't gone the Indiana Convention Center is huge and it is full of gamers and games as well as all of the attached hotels. It is something to see at least once if you are a gamer of any kind.

-- Dirty Dave

Deep Steak Nine

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Well, it's been a long road getting from there to here, but after a couple grueling months of the early seasons and the sheer delight of the later seasons, we've finally managed to make our way through the entire run of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. I had intended to keep up with my progress here, but for a variety of reasons, I was unable to do that.

I have mentioned that Star Trek: The Next Generation is MY Star Trek and that will never change. I'm not sure I've made the comparison on Nerd Lunch before, but I have made the comment to others that I believe NextGen to be "sci-fi pizza." My feeling on pizza is that it is hard to make a lousy pizza. Throw bread, cheese and sauce together, and it's almost certainly going to be good. That said, it is possible to mess up pizza. Likewise, it's very difficult to make a really great pizza. I feel NextGen is much like that. Throw those characters together, it's hard to make a bad episode. But there aren't an overwhelming amount of GREAT episodes. So you have your deep dish Giordano's pizza in a show like "Best of Both Worlds" or "Inner Light," and you have a soggy leftover bagel pizza with "Shades of Grey."

Well, if NextGen is pizza, then Deep Space Nine is a steak dinner. Yes, you get that deep fried onion appetizer and it's kind of good at first, but you really just fill your system with grease and almost get sick and abandon the meal. And once you get to the meat of the meal, there's some gristle to chew through. But for the most part, seasons 4-7 is a nice piece of perfectly grilled rib eye. And now the meal is over and unlike most steak dinners I've eaten, I'm not full. I would love to have had more.

Instead of typing out a discourse, I thought I would give a list of a few of the things that I will miss about the show and look forward to watching again someday.

- Sisko yelling and/or talking about baseball
- Gul Dukat and Kira's tenuous and complicated relationship
- Chief and Bashir heading to the holosuite
- Quark saying, "Hew-mons"
- Odo pining for Kira (which I liked better than them actually being together)
- Worf using a mek'leth
- Jake-o and Nog getting into and out of trouble
- The awesome uniforms introduced in the mid-fifth season
- Garak
- The myriad supporting characters who were just as well-developed as the main characters
- The peppering of references to previous shows and movies
- Ronald D. Moore-written episodes

That's just the start. I can say with absolute certainty that Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is the finest crafted Star Trek show ever produced. It flew under the radar in so many ways and as a result, got away with so much more.

I know it's been off the air for ten years, but thank you Ira Steven Behr, Ronald D. Moore and all the other people who put this amazing show together.

One final note: In an upcoming post, I intend to finally bring up the Babylon 5 v. Deep Space Nine issue. So get ready for that!

Punch Out!

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CT recommended The Atomic Geeks podcast several weeks ago and I’ve been checking it out since then. Their latest episode was a discussion of best fights scenes. A great topic and my favorite of the four shows I’ve listened to.

I was pleased that they mentioned both of my top picks:

1) The back alley slobberknocker between Rowdy Roddy Piper and Keith David in They Live!.

 

2) The final hall of mirrors fight in Enter The Dragon between Bruce Lee and Shih Kien.

 

Unfortunately, neither of these made the cut to be on The AGs’ top five. Boo! Hiss!

Let’s hear it, Nerd Lunchers. What’s your favorite move or TV fight scene?

Walrus in the Shell

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Good thing that text is there to cover up the naughty bitsIn the comments thread of my Akira review, Dr. Trammel recommended Ghost in the Shell for my exploration of anime. I had actually heard of Ghost in the Shell due to in-game ads in the fantastic Syndicate Wars PC game, but that was the extent of my knowledge. Of course I can count on the insanely well stocked anime collection at my local library, so I recently headed there to grab the DVD.

Story

Ghost in the Shell is set in a cyberpunk styled near future where most humans are enhanced with cybernetic implants. The changes range from secretaries that have hands replaced with mechanical appendages for keyboarding to Terminator style endoskeletons for military or police personnel. The protagonist is an example of the latter, elite government agent Motoko Kusanagi who’s only non-bionic component is her brain.

Kusunagi leads a unit investigating cybercrimes and the plot focuses on pursuit of a hacker known as the Puppet Master. The mystery and pursuit elements of the story are engaging, though the plot is mainly a way to raise questions about what it means to be human when humans and machines intertwined. Those questions are not always subtle, but they are addressed in a satisfying way.

The plot moves along at a nice pace and is much easier to follow than Akira. The ending struck me oddly, but I’ll leave the spoilers for the comments thread.

Presentation

The presentation is middle of the road. The animation is an interesting blend of traditional and computer that is toned down and gritty. It does a nice job of rendering a believable cyberpunk future, but is not mind blowing in the same way Akira was to me. The music and voice acting are merely adequate.

STORY

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PRESENTATION

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REWATCHABLE

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It won’t be anytime soon, but there is definitely enough there to warrant a second viewing.

(Nerd) Lunch Special: McDonald’s Angus Third Pounders

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mcdonald-angus I was out and about for lunch earlier this week and decided to try one of the new Angus Third Pounders at McDonald’s. As I mentioned in my post about McCafe coffee, I consider cheap prices to be one of McDonald’s cardinal virtues. A $4 premium burger doesn’t meet that criterion, but I’m a sucker for new fast food experiences.

The angus burgers are available in three varieties: Deluxe, Mushroom and Swiss, and Bacon and Cheese. I opted for the Deluxe (pictured above), which is topped much like a fully loaded Culver’s ButterBurger or Wendy’s Single. The beef patty definitely lives up to the size billing and seems to be a bit higher quality than other menu items, but it still tastes like a McD’s burger. That’s not a plus for me, but your mileage may vary. The toppings, on the other hand, are a cut above McD’s usual fare. And kudos to whoever prepared my sandwich for not drowning it in ketchup as is usually the case with McD cheeseburgers or Quarter Pounders.

All in all, the Angus Deluxe is a tasty burger (™ Jules Winfield). Not exquisite, but tasty. However, price is an issue. My “value” meal weighed in at $6.83 which places it in the same territory as a meal from Culver’s or Portillo’s. Unfortunately for McDonald’s, those are matchups they just can’t win.

THE cha'DIch WILL BE SILENT!

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YO JOE!

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Our boy CT will be fascinated to learn that I went out and saw "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra."

CT, I tell you what . . . I would've preferred a movie that hewed more closely to the comics or the filecards or "Resolute," but this was fun. This had the manic energy of being ten years old and playing soldiers and ninjas and jets and lasers and pew-pew-pew. In homage, I'm just going to bullet-point some thoughts . . .

My main beef, I guess, is that some of the canon material would've fit just fine, yet wasn't used. Snake-Eyes and Storm Shadow's history, for example, was greatly simplified, when a better approach would've been to just show us a little and leave the rest mysterious.

Brendan Fraser had an enjoyable cameo as a new character called Sgt. Stone - - - but he sure looked like Flint to me, so why not call him Flint?

Interesting take on Cobra Commander's origin, and a good performance.

Destro was very Bondian, with his grand plans and Scottish accent. Strange how an actual Scottish accent doesn't sound right after listening to Scotty all those years.

I understand the decision to make it personal by linking Duke, Cobra Commander, and the Baroness with shared history, but I always like the idea that the Joes are fighting these guys because of duty, honor, and country, like real soliders.

Lots of crowd scenes at Joe Headquarters. Man, I should be able to spot the cameos in a scene like that. There should be an Indian, and a bearded guy with a parrot, and a shirtless guy with a Marine Corps tatoo.

Ripcord. Not a bad performance, especially by Marlon Wayans standards, but the character didn't make sense to my inner nerd. Ripcord was a very minor white Joe . . . why call him Ripcord instead of Stalker? Next, why make a Sergeant in the infantry the pilot?

Speaking of rank . . . I liked that Duke was a Captain, rather than a Master Sergeant. When the Joes were a very small squad, it made sense for the field leader to be a non-com, but the bigger the operation (with a space shuttle and a supercarrier and such), the stranger it gets.

Covergirl was a terrible, terrible performance in very small role.

Arnold Voslo was a lot of fun as Zartan.
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