Saturday, December 28, 2013

More Babylon 5 Goodness

So we continued our B5 first time viewing between games of Injustice. First up was S3 Ep 11 "Ceremonies of Light and Dark" After severing ties with Earth, the command staff must deal with some unexpected issues. Delenn suggests they go through a Minbari rebirth ceremony. Secrets are revealed, and hidden dangers are revealed as a group loyal to Clark takes Delenn hostage.

After the last episode things have gone upside down on B5. I like that Nightwatch has been rounded up and kicked off the station. Of course there are still a few lingering around and that is what this story is about. We also find out that there are still spies among the B5 staff.. that I'm sure will be played out in future episodes. I liked all of the crew confessions. Some were obvious but some took me by surprise. I like the new uniforms that Delenn made of the main crew. And the fact that Delenn sacrificed herself to save Sheridan, of course she didn't die but still that is going to play a major role in Sheridan's and Delenn's budding relationship.

Then came S3 Ep 12 "Sic Transit Vic" Vir returns to Babylon 5, and meets his fiancée'. As he and his bride to be get to know each other, a Narn attacks, and takes a blood oath to kill them. The command staff must figure out why someone would want to kill Vir.

This episode was all about Vir and that made it awesome. I've always liked Vir, I found him to be Londo's conscious. When they made him the Centari representative to Mimbar I figured they were scaling down his role so it was nice to see an entire episode about him. I also liked the b-story of Sheridan and Delenn finally going on an official date and Sheridan confessing his feelings for her.

Back to Vir I loved his reaction to having a "wife", and when he finally comes to grip that this could be a good thing, you find out how vial she is to Narn's. Of course you can't really blame her as she was raised this way and doesn't know any better. But with what Vir was doing (a kind of underground railroad for Narn citizens) I'm sure things are going to get heated between those two. I also did not like that we didn't see the conclusion of the scene with the unconscious Narn, did Vir kill him??  That really bothered me.

Third up was S3 Ep 13 "A Late Delivery From Avalon" An impressive man in medieval armor arrives on the station, claiming to be King Arthur. Is he the genuine hero, sent by the Vorlons? If not, who is he and what are his secrets?

This was an interesting episode. I figured that they guy was not the "real" King Arthur but to find out that he was the gunner who essentially started the Earth/Mimbari I liked his friendship with G'Kar. It was fun to see G'Kar's adventurous side. Overall a entertaining episode.

We then watched S3 Ep 14 "Ship of Tears" Bester arrives in a starfury. He wants their help in tracking down weapons, which turns out to be telepaths captured by the Shadows. They discover why the Shadows wanted telepaths for their war.

We have the return of Bester, they have really done some character development with him. I started out hating him and after a few episodes featuring him I'm starting to warm up to him. I'm not saying I would trust him but I like that he is not a black and white character and that he actually has a heart. We find out why the Narn's telepaths were wiped out. We also find out that telepaths are a threat to the Shadow.. I'm sure this will be played out in future episodes.

And finally our last episode of the evening was S3 Ep 15 "Interludes and Examinations" Garibaldi tries to get Franklin to face up to his stim usage. Londo waits anxiously for Adira to return. Morden returns first, and manipulates the situation to his advantage. The alliance asks Sheridan to prove he has forces equal to the Shadows before they will commit. Sheridan calls on Kosh for assistance, but Kosh is resistant at first, Kosh finally agrees to help Sheridan, and later pays the price for his involvement.

Wow what an episode to end on. The stuff with Garibaldi and Franklin was great. Not sure what's going to happen to Franklin, is he gone from B5 or will he seek help and return. I actually felt bad for Londo that Morden killed his love Adira, but then again it's karma.. Londo doesn't deserve to be happy and it was unfortunate for Adira to be caught in the middle of that mess.

The big shocker was the death of Kosh. I enjoyed the confrontation between Sheridan and Kosh and then Kosh coming to Sheridan in a dream to tell him he was wrong and say goodbye... so heart breaking.

This series continues to impress and entertain. I can't wait to continue our adventure through Babylon 5.

Trampoline Pt2, Apartment Hunting & Friends

I was up early and finishing the trampoline. It took another hour or so to get the safety net up and secured to the trampoline. Once it was done I was the first to test it and then my niece and nephew went crazy. It was fun watching them get so much joy out of it already. I'm sure they will have many years of entertainment with this thing.

Afterwards I headed to North Hollywood to look at some apartments that I found on Westside Rental. The first place I looked was right next door to the apartment that I had "gotten" last week.. it also said it was an upper unit but when I got there the lady started walking to a lower unit. Not only was a it a lower unit but it was on the main street with lots of street noise. The apartment itself was fantastic. Older but that means bigger rooms and if it was an upper unit as described I probably would have rented it, but it wasn't so I moved on.

The other place I was interested in was rented that morning so I missed out. The third place was in a more sketchy part of town so I passed and the final one that I wanted to look at, I called the number and left a message but the person never called me back.

While I was waiting for this guy to call me back my buddy Dallas texted me and asked if I wanted to do lunch since I was in the area. I said sure and he and Jes meet up with me at a local The Habit, it's a burger joint. It was nice having lunch with these guys. And by the end the guy still hadn't called me back so I said goodbye to Jes and Dallas and drove around the area to see if there were any other rentals... no luck.

It was getting late and instead of heading back to Riverside I headed over to Robert's place. We planned to hangout and then I'd crash at his place so I could continue my apartment hunting tomorrow and not have to drive as far.

Got to Robert's about 5pm, first thing we did was play some Injustice. After an hour of losing over and over again I had had enough. By this time food came and we switched over to watching some Babylon 5 while we ate. We watched a few episodes and then attempted to play some more Injustice but the result was the same. I won the first match but lost everyone after that. I know I suck at gaming as I just don't play that often but it's hard to lose over and over and over again.

We picked back up on Babylon 5 and watched an additional 3 episodes. I'll be giving my reviews of each episodes in my next blog.

Overall it was a productive day. I didn't find a place to live but I'm hoping this guys calls me back about the place I left a message at, as the apartment sounded very nice... and with any luck I'll find the right place before the end of 2013.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Truly Amazing!!

I didn't ever think I would be writing a blog about this topic.. but it's important and I wanted to share with you all. First of all I'm not a religious person, I wouldn't say I'm an atheist, I've identify myself as agnostic. And in the past I haven't paid to much attention to the Pope but this newest Pope, Pope Francis had made so many headlines this past year and instead of negative or hateful comments he's been nothing but accepting, loving and caring. When I read this article it brought me to tears. I could only imagine being a Catholic and finally having a leader who actually preaches what Jesus was all about... Love.

Of course one of the big issues for me is the Catholic's view of homosexuality, in the past it's been condemned and looked down upon but this Pope has made an attempt to accept all as long as they have a love for God in their heart. It's a big step forward.

I do hope that this is the start of something big in the religious world. Will always have haters (it's human nature) but the Pope is taking the first step forward and for once in my life I have respect and feel honored to have this man in this position... Thank you Pope Francis.

Here's the article

And here's the his highlights from the past year.

1. He spoke out against frivolous spending by the Church

2. He invited a boy with Down's Syndrome for a ride in the Popemobile

3. He embraced and kissed Vinicio Riva

4. He denounced the judgment of homosexuals

5. He held a major ceremony at the chapel of a youth prison

6. He urged the protection of the Amazon Rainforest

7. He personally called and consoled a victim of rape

8. He snuck out of the Vatican to feed the homeless

9. He auctioned his motorcycle to benefit the homeless

10. He acknowledged that atheists can be good people

11. He condemned the global financial system

12. He fought child abuse

13. He condemned the violence of the Syrian civil war

14. He redirected employee bonuses to charity

15. He spoke out against the Church’s ‘obsession’ with abortion, gay marriage and contraception

16. He called for cooperation between Christians and Muslims

17. He took part in a selfie

18. He invited homeless men to his birthday meal

19. He refused to send away a child who had run on stage to hug him

Old Friends & A Trampolines

Today I got to have lunch with one of my "oldest" friends Michelle. We meet when I was 18 and became roommates and great friends. We worked together at Mervyn's and had some great times together. I then moved to LA to pursue my career and she got married and started a family and our lives took different direction and we lost touch for a bit. Then Facebook came around and we reconnected and would chat from time to time but we lived about 80 miles from each other so we didn't see each other much. The last time I saw her was at a party of a friend of ours and I got to meet her daughter when she was 1 years old. Well this daughter is now 14 years old so it's been over 13 years since we've actually seen each other.

But now that I'm staying with my brother I'm only a few miles away from her so we made plans to have a lunch date and catch up. I was super excited this lunch. We planned to meet at noon at a local BJ's Restaurant. I got there at noon and Michelle was waiting for me. We sat down and spent the next three hours catching up on each other lives. I mean we read each others Facebook pages so we know the going on's in each others life but of course not the details. It was great lunch and I hope we can hang out more often as I do miss seeing her on a regular bases.

Got home from the lunch and started to work on the trampoline that my brother and sister-in-law got for my niece and nephew. I knew it would take some time and I wasn't sure if I'd get it done by sun down and in fact I did not. With the help of my Dad, Lora, Kenobi and Molly I got all of the trampoline built but wasn't able to attach the safely net. Will have to take care of that tomorrow morning.

"Get Fit" Week 21

So I've been living with my brother's family this week and have eaten out every single lunch and dinner (of course I'm trying to eat reasonably). I expected to get on the scale and gain quite a bit of weight.. I was just hoping I had not gone over 200lbs. It was also Christmas on Wednesday and I partook in some yummy turkey dinner and quite a few desserts.

So just to remind you all, last week I weighted in at 196.5, the same weight I have been the past few weeks.. and today I weighed in this morning at 196.5. Don't ask me how I did it.. but I didn't gain a pound.. not even a half of pound. I'm extremely happy that I didn't gain any weight this week. I can still hit my goal of 195 by the end of 2013 which is only a few days away but it will be tough.

Soon as I can find an apartment I will get back into my routine and I can't wait for that to happen.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Downton Abbey & Doctor Who Christmas Specials

Watched two Christmas specials today...

First up is Downton Abbey Christmas special 2013. I know this won't be airing in the US until next year so tread lightly as there may be a few slight spoilers. Synopsis: Set in the summer of 1923. Rose's coming out ball will be at Buckingham Palace, with Cora's mother Martha and brother Harold in attendance. Martha has expressed a desire to, in Robert's words, "see another London Season before she dies".

The Crawley family is implicated in a scandal threatening to engulf the royal family, and Robert must go to great lengths to protect his family and the monarchy. Edith is struggling with a moral dilemma of her own, while Isobel has attracted an admirer. Daisy receives an unexpected invitation, while Carson treats the staff to a day out at the beach.

After last Christmas' shocking and upsetting ending, this years Christmas special was the complete opposite. I thoroughly enjoyed this episode. But like with this past season it wasn't as crazy or dramatic as previous seasons but still entertaining. And this feeling continued with the Christmas special. Lot's of focus on Rose, who I have to say isn't a favorite character of mine. Some fun stuff with Daisy. Not much with Anna and Bates, which was nice since they have been such a huge focus of the last few seasons. Lot's of Mary stuff and a nice conclusion/beginning to her next storyline. I always love Maggie Smith's, Dowager Countess. She is so set in her ways and the new world is scaring her. My favorite part by far was the end with Carson and Miss Hughes holding hands and walking into the water together.. I always hoped those two would get together and I hope this is the beginning of something special.

The second Christmas special I watched today was Doctor Who: Time of the Doctor. Synopsis: The Doctor's worst enemies, The Daleks, The Cybermen, The Angels and The Silence, return, as the doctor's eleventh life comes to a close, and his twelfth life begins. Orbiting a quiet backwater planet, the massed forces of the universe's deadliest species gather, drawn to a mysterious message that echoes out to the stars - and amongst them, the Doctor. Rescuing Clara from a family Christmas dinner, the Time Lord and his best friend must learn what this enigmatic signal means for his own fate and that of the universe.

Another enjoyable Christmas episode. The past few seasons of Who have been good.. not great but good and this was a nice conclusion to the 11th Doctor and beginning of the 12th or 13th.. it's all very confusing. I liked that this episode answered some of the questions they have been playing with since the beginning of the 11th Doctor's run. It was great seeing Amy again one last time. I don't know if I quite understand how they are getting around the limited regeneration but somehow they have. I'm sure will learn more when the new Doctor Who episodes start in the fall of 2014.

So we say goodbye to the 11th Doctor, Matt Smith. When he first showed up I took to him in the first episode... alot faster then I did for the 10th Doctor. He was everything that I thought of when I thought of Doctor Who. I loved his new companion Amy and the fifth season was amazing, but the sixth season was just okay. About halfway though season six the "great" episodes were far and few between and that trend continued in the seventh season. I'm not saying that I didn't enjoy all the I did.. very much. But if I had to choose a season to watch over again it wouldn't be six or seven. Overall Matt Smith was an great addition to the Who family and will have a lasting impression on the fandom.

One Week Later...

So I have stayed with my brother and his family for a week now. I'm thankful that he is allowing me to stay here while I look for a new apartment but it's difficult living somewhere were you really don't have a space. I'm staying in his sport memorabilia room which is like a dining area as there is no door, but they did put up a sheet for some privacy.

It's hard living without my stuff. I brought a few things with me like my computer but it's still difficult not to have things when I need them. I'm also sleeping on a air mattress (thanks to my buddy Doug for loaning me his). And it actually hasn't been that bad but then again I've only been sleeping on it for a week so far.

I love my niece and nephew but OMG they are loud. I have an whole new respect not only for my brother and sister-in-law but for all parents of young kids. Maybe it's because I'm older and set in my ways but I have always wanted a child of my own but after just a week with these kids I'm don't think I could handle one. When I do adopt a child he'll be at least 6 years old if not older.

My plan is to only be here a few weeks and hopefully find a place by January 1st.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas

I was up at 6:30am ready to open presents but the kids didn't get up until 8am and they had to be woken up but Daddy. I guess they are a bit to young still, ages 2 & 4, to really understand that Santa was here and left them lots of gifts. Though Kenobi (the 4 year old) has come to me everyday telling me how many days are left until Christmas.

Anyways my brother woke them up around 8am and the kids were soon down going through their stockings. Afterwards we hit the presents. It took us about two hours to get through them all. Santa was very generous.

After presents Lora's family arrived to do their gift exchange while I jumped online to open gifts with my bestie Chris, who is currently in Kuwait. We did a google hang out and opened each other's gifts online. Chris chatted with my Dad, brother and various other folks who were mingling in the kitchen. Last year I was in Montana celebrating Christmas with him so it was nice that he was able to join me and my family this Christmas (virtually). I got to hang out with him for about an hour before he called it a night and I had to start making Christmas dinner.

All I had to prepare at the moment was the turkey, it takes 3 1/2 hours to cook and we wanted to eat by 4pm. So I buttered, salt and peppered the bird and with the help of my Dad I was able to get it in the cooking bag and in the oven.

My other bestie Robert arrived around 11am to spend Christmas with me and my family. It was great seeing him. He normally goes home for Christmas but this year he decided to not do any traveling so I invited to join me. We hung out, chatted and snacked on some tasty desserts.

Around 3pm I started making the rest of the Christmas dinner and by 4pm everything was ready to do. From everyone's comments I think dinner was a success. My main goal was to serve everything hot and I'm happy to say I succeeded.

After dinner some of Mike's friends showed up to do some gift exchanges while a few of use tried to watch one of my screeners.. Saving Mr. Banks. We did watch the entire thing but between the kids and the gift exchange it was next to impossible to hear the movie. It was one of the worst movie watching experiences I have ever had. So bad that I won't even review the movie until I can watch it again. But from what I saw and heard.. I enjoyed it. I look forward to watching it again soon.

After the movie Robert decided to head home as did all the other guests. I was up for a few more hours but was extremely tired and called it a night around 10pm.


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Sherlock, Santa and Her: Review

First up, they released the Sherlock mini episode. It's only 7 minutes but it's 7 minutes of AWESOME. Luckily for me I didn't have to wait over a year for the new season, it's only been a month or so but even so it was great seeing "new" Sherlock even if it was just a mini episode about the sightings of Sherlock all over the world. If you're a Sherlock fan this is a must see.

I spent the morning and afternoon wrapping up presents and building kitchens and big wheels for "Santa" Those things seem simple but they are a lot of work especially since I'm a perfectionist so the stickers have to be placed just right and it has to look presentable. But I did have a lot of fun doing this and since I don't have any kids of my own (at the moment) I haven't been able to experience the feeling of being "Santa's helper".

During the evening I headed out to my buddy Sean's house. He is in the same boat as me, he is moving during the holidays and he wanted to have a small get together and watch some screeners in his complex "Screening" room. Joining Sean and I were Jes, Doug and Dallas (folks who were local to Sean's place). I think I was invited because I had the screeners ;)

We ordered pizza, Doug made some tasty butterscotch and chocolate chip cookies and I brought four of my screeners. We first played a few rounds of Injustice. Sean vs Jes and Dallas vs Kenny. It was a lot of fun but it was already 7:30 and if we wanted to get a few of these screeners in before I had to leave at 11pm we needed to get started. So we agreed to watch "Her" first.

Here's a synopsis of Her. Set in the Los Angeles of the slight future, the story follows Theodore Twombly, a complex, soulful man who makes his living writing touching, personal letters for other people. Heartbroken after the end of a long relationship, he becomes intrigued with a new, advanced operating system, which promises to be an intuitive entity in its own right, individual to each user. Upon initiating it, he is delighted to meet "Samantha," a bright, female voice, who is insightful, sensitive and surprisingly funny. As her needs and desires grow, in tandem with his own, their friendship deepens into an eventual love for each other.

I went into this story not really knowing much about it. When I heard it was a "sci fi" futuristic kind of movie with a man falling in love with his operating system (a new A.I.) I was extremely intrigue by it. Overall I really enjoyed the film. It's barely a "sci fi" futuristic movie and from the clothing and mustaches you'd think it was set in the 1970's but the world around the people (buildings & tech) was defiantly futuristic. 

I'm not a huge Joaquin Phoenix fan but he did an amazing job portraying a heart broken man who's trying to find life after love. On the contrary I am a huge fan of Amy Adams, so I enjoyed every minute she was on screen and I'm also a huge fan of Scarlett Johansson and even though she was only a voice on screen she did an amazing job in this film.

The story is bleak at times with humor thrown in here and there to lighten the mood. There are lots of ups and downs as these two people (well 1 person and 1 A.I.) try and figure out who they are separately and together. The movie does take an interesting turn towards the end (which I will not spoil) but I have to say when it's over it leaves you with the felling of hope in your heart (at least it did with me). 

The film brings up a lot of interesting questions about technology and how far we humans go with it. Everyone in the film is attached to their smart phones, not to the degree of being completely anti social but in a very realistic way. 

It brings up the question of what is love, how do we love and who can we love and what constitutes as being "alive". These A.I.'s evolve quickly and other then having a body (which they kind of get around, gotta see the film) they are just like "real" physical human beings.

It's defiantly a film you want to see with someone so you can discuss it later. I give Her a solid B+

After Her it was 10pm and I needed to be home by midnight as I was getting up super early to open presents from Santa with my niece and nephew. So I bowed out of the screening party but the rest hung out and watched American Hustle (which I left for them). I got home around 11pm just as my brother and sister-in-law were putting the last of the "Santa" gifts out.

Tomorrow is going to be long but enjoyable day.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Family & Podcasts

Today I didn't do much, got up, played with my niece and nephew and finally caught up to date with my daily blog. I then went shopping for Christmas dinner with my dad and Kenobi. also picked up the last of my Christmas gifts.. or so I thought. After getting home I realized that I forgot to get the main gift I went out to get so I went back out and picked up my last Christmas gift.

Realized that it's almost January 1st and I have another MASH podcast due so I spent the next five hours on an off editing it. I still have one more to edit (January 15th) before we need to record some new ones.. which the hosts are in the process of setting up a time.

Podcasting has really taken a back seat the past six months or so. The only two that I'm really keeping up with are the MASH 4077 podcast and Alien Nation The Newcomers Podcast. I haven't done a Knights of the Guild podcast since last summer. I did plan on ending the podcast but not like this. I still plan to have one final big finale podcast for KOTG. I think once I'm settled in my new place I'll be able to plan that. My Gimpy Life is coming back once they start airing Season two in the new year. Confessions of a Fanboy needs to be retooled. I released a handful of episodes but really didn't like the format. Still working on what I want to do with that podcast and my final podcast The Geek Roundtable, which I have been trying to get off the ground now for three years now is closer to a reality. Again once things settle down around here and I find a place to live I plan to attack that podcast full force.. I hope to get it's first episode out in the spring. So podcasting might be waning a bit but it's from from dead in my life... just taking a much needed breather.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Refunds, Star Wars & InJustice

Was up early and out the door. I had to meet my former (well at least six hours) landlady to terminate my contact and get my deposit back. She asked that I be at her place by 9am. Since I'm staying in Riverside I was out the door by 7:30am to get there in time.

Everything went as planned, she was disappointed that I wasn't going to be her new tenant. She told me stories of her grandkids and stories I had heard the previous two times I was there. She gave me a check for all my deposits and as I was leaving she gave me some more Italian bread and a bottle sweet wine. I was at her place for about an hour.

Afterwards I went to Denny's to grab some breakfast before heading to the bank to deposit the check. I was in North Hollywood area so I decided to look around for any vacancies. I didn't find anything. I was close to my friend Jen's place and my buddy Chris sent her about 20 gifts to do a "white elephant" gift exchange a few weeks back but I unfortunately wasn't able to join in so she still had my gift so I stopped by and pick it up. All the gifts were numbered and I chose my favorite number.. which is number 5. I got something that I have been wanting for a while.. it's a sun shade for my car and it's Star Wars themed.. how awesome is that.

I spent the hour and a half or so catching up with Jen, she and I don't get a lot of one on one time so it was nice just getting to hang with her for a bit.

I left her place and did a bit more apartment hunting but again came up empty handed.. I'm going to have to search online when I get home and see if I can find anything there.

I then headed over the hill to my buddy Robert's place to hang with him for a bit. We played one of my favorite games InJustice for a few hours, we took a break and walked to Fat Burger for lunch and then played InJustice for another hour before I headed back home.

On my way home I picked up some Chinese food for my dad and I from my favorite place in Corona Hong Kong. Came back to my brothers place, ate dinner and continued to catch up on my blog.

I am now officially caught up.. yay!!!