All posts by ThatBlairGuy

That Blair Guy has been working in software for longer than he cares to admit. These days he works throughout the software stack from the web UI down to SQL (and sometimes no-SQL), mostly on the .Net framework, but with occasional excursions to Linux.

Star Trek: Discovery

It’s been three years since the premiere of Star Trek: Discovery; so, probably about time I started watching it.

Binge-watching my way through Star Trek: Picard over Labor Day weekend was my introduction to Star Trek with continuing story arcs. Not the episode here and there that tie together for a big episode (or two) at the end of the season, but rather the idea of each episode advancing the same story. (Granted, I’m only four episodes in on Discovery, but that’s how it’s gone so far.)

The show’s definitely darker than the Star Trek of old, and I have to remind myself this is set a decade or so prior to The Original Series, and the events of “Errand of Mercy“. But the characters!

It’s so-far fascinating to watch the development of Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) and the introduction to Cadet Tilly (Mary Wiseman) was, if not “fun”, then perhaps “awkwardly relatable”. Particularly when she meets her new roommate (“The only other female ‘Michael’ I’ve ever heard of is Michael Burnham, the mutineer; but you’re not her, right?” … long silence.) On the other hand… Not really liking Captain Lorca (Jason Isaacs), but I assume the writers did that intentionally.

Mixed feelings on yet another way for the Klingons to look, but, I’ll adjust. And it is interesting to see “the Klingon war” before The Original Series. These are definitely a more war-like variety of Klingon than what I’ve seen before.

The “mycelium drive” seems a bit too much like a “magical plot device.” I suppose the same could be said about the warp drive from the previous shows, but it just seems like a huge stretch that this is somehow a source of faster-than-light travel. (Plus, these are apparently “cosmic fungal spores” — that really opens the door for “magic mushroom” jokes.)

So, four episodes in, out of three seasons… I suppose I have some more binge-watching to do.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

My wife and I went to see Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle this evening. Admittedly, we went in with somewhat low expectations, thinking this would be, at best a sequel, but we came away pleasantly surprised, much more entertained than we’d expected.

Without wandering into spoiler territory, this was indeed a sequel. But, it stood on its own. The only thing you might not understand was a passing reference to Alan Parrish, Robin Williams‘ character from the original movie (and a nice nod).

There were a few parallels to the original, but this was definitely a separate movie. Jack Black’s portrayal of a teenage girl (this makes more sense in context) was absolutely hilarious, but avoided going too far over the top. Likewise, Dwayne Johnson and Karen Gillan as a pair of nerdy teens worked quite well. My only complaints with the film were a few scenes that seemed a bit too much like “The Breakfast Club” (I haven’t checked, they may have lifted some lines), and one awkward bit right before the end.

All in all, it was a fun movie and one I can recommend.

Battle of the Sexes

My wife and I went out last night to see “Battle of the Sexes.” It’s somewhat of a bio-pic about Billie Jean King and her contributions to the idea that women and men should be considered equals.
Along with the big tennis match against Bobby Riggs, it also covered the creation of the Women’s Tennis Association and highlighted some of the women players’ struggles to be taken as seriously as the men.
I was also taken by how much Emma Stone and Steve Carell resembled their real-life counterparts. Also interesting, both actors are the same age as the people they portrayed were at the time of the real life event.
Not the kind of film I usually think of going to on my own, but I thoroughly enjoyed it nonetheless.

Amazon's version of The Tick

After watching the first three episodes of Amazon’s version of The Tick, I’m quite hooked.
Instead of being dropped in to a world where Arthur and The Tick are already a team, we instead get to see how that team is first created. There’s actual character development, and even the bad guys have back stories.
So far, there’s been a back story for Arthur, plot lines involving the supporting characters, hints at how the world has adapted to having superheroes as part of life, and even hints that we may get to find out how The Tick became who he is.
Possibly the best part though is Peter Serafinowicz’ portrayal of The Tick. The character speaks in the same flowery, over-the-top style as the original cartoon, and Serafinowicz’ is so earnest in his delivery that I can’t help thinking he’s channeling the late Adam West’s portrayal of Batman.
Highly recommended viewing.

Starhyke

Scrolling through an assortment of funny photos and links, on Claudia Christian’s fan page, I found a post from one of the page admins announcing that Starhyke is now available for streaming on Amazon Prime.
Starhyke was new to me, but ended up an amusing diversion. The show is a Sci-Fi Comedy, shot in the UK. It appears to have been a direct-to-DVD release, with other syndication coming later.
The premise, and honestly, a lot of the first episode, is quite dark: Humanity has given up its emotions in order to expand across the galaxy, and in the process, conquered or destroyed all the other races they encounter. The last race not yet conquered, the Reptids, have devised a plan to go back in time and prevent humanity from losing its emotions.
The comic premise (minor spoiler) is that a side-effect of the Reptids’ attack causes the crew of the ship sent to stop them to be confronted with unfamiliar and comically out-of-control emotions. Most of the gags center around the crew essentially becoming a bunch of adolescents in adult bodies as they try to track down their enemies. There’s also a secondary story of an unknown entity attempting to take over the ship.
Once you get past the grim premise, it’s actually a very silly show, a bit similar to Red Dwarf, but with a larger, dominantly female, cast. The entire series is only six episodes long for a total of about three hours of viewing. If you need a chuckle without a lot of sophistication, it might be worth a chance.
You can stream it on Amazon. I’d skip the DVD option.

A Word of Thanks

On the one hand, I was terribly sad to hear that William Christopher joined the list of celebrities who passed away in 2016. Along with William Christopher, there was Gene Wilder, Carrie Fisher and quite a few more.
On the other hand, it occurs to me that one of the reasons so many of the stars I grew up watching on television are dying now is that so many of them have lived so long. I’m grateful for the time I had watching them and gifts they’ve shared with us.
(Image via pixabay)

2001: A Space Travesty

My buddy Nick sent an email earlier today, mentioning that the Leslie Nielsen movie 2001: A Space Travesty is available for free on Crackle. Apparently Crackle compares it to Airplane! and The Naked Gun.
After watching the first half-hour or so, I understand the comparison to Airplane! and The Naked Gun, it’s tempting to think of it as “Frank Drummond in Space.” Unfortunately, it’s so far been just another film in that genre, there really hasn’t been anything overly original or clever about it. Good acting by Leslie Nielsen, but I doubt this is the movie he wants to be remembered for.
(Image via flickr user Sweetie187 used under Creative Commons 2.0 Generic)

Gene Wilder

It’s always sad to lose a beloved actor. Gene Wilder is deservedly remembered for his comedic roles in Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein among others, but I think Willy Wonka is the one that stands out for me.
As a child, Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory terrified me. But as an adult, I love the way Wilder portrayed Willy Wonka and appreciate his delivery of lines such as the immortal, “we have so much time, and so little to do! Strike that, reverse it.”
I’m sorry to see us lose such a gifted actor, but I’m happy he gets to see Gilda again.
(Photo by Wikipedia user Towpilot via Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported)

Dark Matter – Episode 1 (S1E1)

Dark Matter first appeared on my radar during the run up to Shore Leave 38 when Zoie Palmer (the Android) and Anthony Lemke (Three) were announced as guests. The show’s description, about a spaceship crew waking up with no recollection of their identities struck me as potentially interesting, but it also reminded me of an element from the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
In Mostly Harmless – The fifth book in the increasingly inaccurately named Hitchhikers Trilogy, Douglas Adams introduces a race known as “the Grebulons”. Much like the characters in Dark Matter, the Grebulons don’t know who they are, or what their mission might be, so they settle on Rupert (the 10th planet of our solar system) and observe our culture by watching TV.
Unlike the Grebulons however, the Dark Matter characters want to find out who they are. Starting by exploring the ship, and once they learn their original destination, they visit the planet in search of answers, and along the way are attacked, without any known provocation, by the crew of another ship.
It’s an interesting set up, and I’ll probably continue watching.
Warning: Spoilers Ahead Continue reading Dark Matter – Episode 1 (S1E1)

The Legend of Tarzan

We saw The Legend of Tarzan on Friday night. Going in, I’m not entirely certain what I was expecting, but in the end, it was two hours well spent.
The familiar, “a baby is raised by apes” story is still there, but it’s done via flashbacks. Instead of an origins story, this movie takes place eight years after Tarzan has left the jungle. Formerly known as “Tarzan”, John Clayton, Earl of Greystoke (Alexander Skarsgård) has married Jane (Margot Robbie) and the two now live in London. When invited by the King of Belgium to visit his protectorate in the Congo, Clayton initially declines, and only reluctantly agrees to go when an American emissary, Doctor George Washington Williams (Samuel L. Jackson) asks for his assistance in investigating his suspicions of slavery. Continue reading The Legend of Tarzan