My Thanksgiving List and The Week of Awesome

Captain Awesome
I'm thankful for a great many things this year, and most of them seem to have crept up in the past couple months. First of all, there was the Week of Awesome which inexplicably saw a boat load of tech updates, personal triumphs and the release of Harry Potter 7. Included in the Week of Awesome was the Beatles finally making it to iTunes, Google Voice finally making an official (and free) app for the iPhone, Google Docs allowing editing on mobile devices (it's the little things that count), Google Docs syncing with Microsoft Word, me reaching 11,000 tweets, the Epic Thanks charity event last Friday, and the two most important things: a new job (YAY!), and moving forward with several relationships both old and new.

Of course I'm thankful for my family. But who isn't? C'mon. Really. I mean, especially when they're all there around the table glaring at you and asking you questions about what's new in your life. Are you really going to tell them you're not thankful for them? And there are several standard answers to the question "what are you thankful for?" that I'm just going to gloss right over, because, honestly, I'm just not a standard kind of guy.


With a Little Help from My Friends

I don't know if you've heard of this Street Light Interference thing. It's an episodic novel, which means it's a collection of several short stories that run together in sequence, and I'm pretty sure it's the very first in the world. It's a novel that's being treated like a TV show where, at the end of the season, the whole season will be sold as a single book.

Anyway... the point is... I'M MAKING IT. And I can't do it alone. I personally don't have the resources to just drop everything and pump this thing out, but I get by with a little help from my friends. I get high with a little help from my friends. Gonna try with a little help from my friends. And Kickstarter. Click that link and you'll be taken to a page describing everything you need to know about Street Light Interference including how you can help! If you decide to help me out with a pledge, the minimum amount is a MEASLY $1! But even if you don't feel like you can give up a single Washington, the best thing in the world you can do the help is by spreading the word!



Little known fact: I once had an abduction experience.

Long ago in the far-off land of Michigan, my mother and I were visiting a college that I was about to attend. Because the orientation meeting was early in the morning, we arrived a day early and booked a hotel room. I slept pretty soundly that night, but I woke up a little too early. While I was trying to go back to sleep... that's when it happened.

Suddenly, I felt paralyzed. In my semi-lucid state, I could only see my immediate surroundings. I saw a dark figure at the foot of my mother's bed. I was overcome by an insurmountable feeling of fear. I yelled and screamed, but I didn't know if these sounds were out loud or if I could only hear them in my head. I had no idea what was going on. All I knew was that someone was in this room with us and he was going after my mom.


Game On!

The cast of The Guild at the 2009 Streamy awardsImage via Wikipedia
Three years ago, Felicia Day set off to make a web series based on one of my favorite games, World of Warcraft. Ok, so, not completely based on World of Warcraft. More based on the players who play World of Warcraft. In any case, if you don't know what I'm talking about by now, you're missing out. Felicia Day created The Guild three years ago and today they released a new music video called Game On! This video heralds the return of the Guild in season four of their hit web series. Click the link to see this hilarious Bollywood parody on the Guild's official website or watch it embedded after the jump


Zerg Rush

4/365 - Starcraft II BetaImage by Loimere via Flickr
Tonight at midnight, Starcraft II becomes available to the public. Tonight at midnight, video game stores will encounter their own Zerg rush.

One of the most anticipated games. Ever. And it's very interesting to me exactly why that is. I was never really good at RTS games. I guess it's really just too much for my brain to process at the same time. I get the theory of it all, but my brain just won't go that fast. But what I really wonder is how this release will affect the career of professional gamer Norman Valentine, aka Ace.


Revenge of the Nerds: Westboro's Just Desserts

Who has more time on their hands than the Westboro Baptist Church's protesters who drew up dozens of signs and spent the day standing in front of the San Diego Comic Con? Nerds. Who drew up dozens of signs and spent the day standing in front of Westboro Baptist Church in front of the San Diego Comic Con... while dressed in cosplay.

Infamous for their protest of military funerals of homosexual soldiers holding signs that say "GOD HATES FAGS," the WBC decided that geeks have too much fun and marched on over to San Diego to tell us all that we're worshiping superheroes and reading more comic books than the Bible while making the pilgrimage to our own personal Mecca, the SDCC. They had no idea what they were in for.



File this under things I didn't see coming: an Angelina Jolie action film that was actually really awesome!

We've seen her before in films like Tomb Raider and Mr. & Mrs. Smith. Movies that were fun and exciting, but never rose to any level of greatness. We've also seen her in Changling and A Mighty Heart - movies that proved to the world that she's more than a pretty, butt-kicking face. In Salt, She got to put on both her action and drama hats and put them both to good use.

There's not too much I can say about the plot of Salt without giving away spoilers, but I can say this: Salt is accused of being a Russian spy, and when she escapes from a CIA facility to find her husband, the hunt is on to try and find out who Salt really is. (Thus the poster's tag-line: "Who is Salt?" Clever, huh?)

An Awfully Big Adventure

Peter Pan, the original literary masterpiece by James M Barrie, not the Disney Cartoon, had a few deeper themes in it than you may remember coming from the Mouse's animation studios. One of the things that made it so great is its boldness to take on the theme of mortality in what would be considered a children's story. A movie that doesn't shy away from this was made in 2003 and its poster is depicted right over there -->

When confronted by Captain Hook, it looks like Peter Pan is about to lose. The villainous Hook threatens him with death, and Peter answers with a grin "To die would be an awfully big adventure!"

It's true! To say nothing of biological death, it is an awfully big adventure when your computer dies.


This Makes My Brain Light Up

The San Diego Comic Con is now in full effect... and I'm not there. But there are a lot of people tweeting and blogging from the front lines. And what they see is full of awesome. The picture you see before you is the first ever look at Abin Sur from the upcoming Green Lantern movie. Pfft. He's all muscle.

I could take 'im.

Other news includes the Tron: Legacy footage being awesome, the Megamind panel being hilarious, the Scott Pilgrim panel being both and a WoW Cataclysm beta key to be handed out...



Last night I ran AVG antivirus scanner to clear away some of the clutter on my hard drive. Today I'm running Linux off of a CD because Windows won't boot. Apparently, AVG thought winlogon.exe was a Trojan and, as such, needed to be DELETED. What it doesn't know is that I need that file to start Windows. And now, here I am without my original Windows installation CD, with a Ubuntu Live CD running Firefox and looking through my harddrives so I can recover what I need, and a Windows recovery ISO that I could probably burn to a CD if I was able run Ubuntu without the CD drive. It's all very complicated. Here's the basic gist: I need help. I have an ISO to burn. I can't access my CD burner. I need someone else to burn it for me.


Over the Rainbow

When Dorothy gazed toward the muddy brown skies of Kansas and expressed a deep sadness about having to stick around in this dump for her entire life, she sang a song invoking the rainbow as a sort of destination; a place where everything was right, new, exciting and colorful. I think it's everyone's dream at one point or another to one day escape from the every day and make it in a brand new world.

Somewhere over the rainbow bluebirds fly. If they fly over the rainbow, why can't I? Well, the answer is clear. They have wings.

I'm over the rainbow. Done with it. Finished. The rainbow never did me any good.

New Look; New Outlook

I'm not gonna lie: it's been a long few weeks. Seems like an awful lot of work just to get back to square one. But it feels good! The new version of Blogger has been out for a while and I've wanted to mess around with it, but never felt like I wanted anything to change. Well, now I do. I have a whole new outlook on what I'm going for here, and that brings with it a costume change.


Project Spaceman LampPost

When I was very young, about first or second grade, my school had what they called a Young Authors Faire. Every kid had to write a story and the school would publish them with whatever publishing material they had lying around. The object, of course, was to foster in our little minds a creativity that would be so important in years to come. This was my first introduction to writing.

I wrote a story called The Lumberjack and the Dragon. About a fearless lumberjack who was able to wield his hefty axe into battle with a vicious dragon who somehow fit inside his closet, The Lumberjack and the Dragon was obviously a novel of epic proportions. Written, illustrated and even bound by yours truly, this small book would be the perfect catalyst to a glorious writing career! But, alas... From this path I strayed.


Lost By the Numbers

From left to right: Faraday, Boone, Miles, Mic...Image via Wikipedia
If you still don't get Lost, if you were disappointed by the series finale because there weren't enough answers, if you find time travel and magic lights to be annoying and purposely misleading and confusing... then you didn't get the entire series. But there is hope for you yet! All the answers you need are found in a detailed study... OF THE NUMBERS!

4 8 15 16 23 42

Forget the Spoiler button. This entire post is going to be chalk full of spoilers, so if you haven't seen Lost, just turn back now.


Iron Man 2

I honestly don't understand the reviews I've seen that dis on Iron Man 2. I'll give them that it doesn't exceed the first one, but it definitely doesn't disappoint, either! If Ultimate Avengers was a TV series, Iron Man 2 would be a perfect second episode to that series. Or maybe third if you count the most recent Incredible Hulk. Unfortunately, people don't like to sit at their TV and watch the same episode for two hours for some reason. Regardless, Tony Stark is back! In Iron Man 2 we dig deeper into the person and being of the CEO of Stark Industries and we find that he's perhaps not the most heroic persona around. He's narcissistic, prone to drunkenness, headstrong, slave to his libido and totally awesome.

Here's the reason I believe people have problems with this movie, though: They're not taking it as a piece of an incomplete puzzle. To the unbelievers, they want to see a single movie contained in itself, and that's just not what Marvel does. There are many things set up in this movie that do not get completely resolved... and that's ok! Like it or not, you'll have to wait. Remember the Art of the Slow Burn? Yeah, if you don't like it, learn to!


On Faith (Nothing Proves Anything)

I was asked a rather pertinent question on Formspring.me and was kind of peeved to find that apparently the answer was too long for it to show up on my profile. So, I'm preserving it here for posterity.

Q: You said at one time that nothing can be proven, that at some point, every individual has to make a leap, and accept something on faith. What are some things that you've taken on faith, and why?

A: I've taken almost... ALMOST everything on faith. I believe people when it seems reasonable that they have no reason to lie to me, but I become skeptical when it seems unreasonable that this person has first-hand experience with what they're telling me.


Velociraptor Awareness

Yesterday was Velociraptor Awareness Day and while the rest of the world went about their velociraptor unaware lives, I was busy educating the world on velociraptor facts. As a foremost expert on awesome, cinematically portrayed animals, I have compiled a list of 15 important things to remember when facing a velociraptor. Don't be caught with your pants down! We are all well aware of a dinosaur's ability to smash through porta-potties!
  1. Velociraptors can use tools with which to kill you. But they won't. Velociraptors are the smartest dinosaurs in existence and could easily craft a rudimentary killing tool to take the life of its prey, but observation has concluded that velociraptors take great pleasure in tearing his prey to shreds with its bare hands. And feet. And teeth. Make no mistake about it, a velociraptor is a very tactile being.
  2. A pack of velociraptors will surround and confuse its prey before killing it. The velociraptor who came up with this idea generally gets first choice in what meat he gets to eat. As the smartest dinosaurs on the block, they tend to reward intelligence, and this is one of the most intelligent things they have been known to do.


The Art of the Slow Burn

John Locke holds up the two opposing colors of...Image via Wikipedia
I did a post a while back comparing LOST and Stargate Universe. One of the things they have in common is something that has become very popular in modern TV dramas: the slow burn. The slow burn is the process by which an episodic program can bring you through a huge over-arching plot-line by first examining the characters in several, seemingly unrelated mini-stories. It describes how the plot moves along like a spark on a wick to the final BOOM at the end. A show like 24 has a shorter slow burn that explodes at the end of each season. Stargate Universe seems to have a longer slow burn than 24, but the longest slow burn belongs to LOST.

The slow burn can sometimes seem like a grueling process. It takes a skilled writer to introduce just the right amount of character drama and balance it successfully with a mystery or objective that has to carry on through to the end of the show. Waiting in between episodes for the end of this broad, sweeping objective can be taxing, but in the end, the slow burn is deeply rewarding. Because not only have you reached a satisfying conclusion, but you've also gotten to know, love and appreciate all the many characters that made the ending possible. Why is this such a successful story-telling device? Because that's how it works in real life.


136 Character Reviews

The Twitter fail whale error message.Image via Wikipedia
There are some things that just don't deserve the time it takes to write a review. And there are some times where I just don't have the time to write a full review. It's mostly the case that I don't have the time. In either case, it's really just easier to tweet about the movie and then be done. So that's what I'm going to do. When I see something, I'll share my opinions on the Green Asterisk twitter account and they will magically appear HERE the 136 Character Review page. Which is as much of a review as is possible on Twitter given a three-character hash tag (#tr for Twitter Review) and a space preceding it. If you're really interested in a particular review, you can add your comments, ask your questions and call me an idiot in the comment section below the page and I will be sure to answer every query posed there.


Alice in Wonderland

The Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp)Image by Brian Sibley via Flickr
I'm terribly late, I know... naughty. Last Friday Tim Burton showed us what he thinks Wonderland looks like. It looks fantastic! Unfortunately, it suffers from a bit of the same problems Avatar has. It's a wonderfully beautiful fantastical world, with just an ok story. I do hope this isn't becoming a trend. To be clear from the start: this is not the same Alice in Wonderland that we read as a kid or saw vibrantly displayed as a Disney cartoon. Burton's Alice is a sort of sequel to that story. That's kind of a minor spoiler, but I think it's important enough to know going into the movie. You're not going to see the same thing you saw then. What we see crafted here is a completely new story wherein Alice must find the strength to be herself and make her own decisions. It's basically the same old Tim Burton storyline: "Forget what the establishment says, be creative, break out of the mundane and be your own gothic, eccentric self."


Flynn Lives

Tron LegacyImage via Wikipedia
Just got an email from the underground organization fighting to reveal the truth about the whereabouts of Kevin Flynn, gifted programmer and game designer.
To all those who passionately believe that Kevin Flynn, digital pioneer and legendary game designer, is still alive... LISTEN UP!

Our last event at Flynn’s Arcade was a call-to-arms for those of us who won't buy into Encom-driven public propaganda about what happened.  We're not crazy - there's more to this story than they are letting out.

Today, we have the chance to find out more... to get closer to the truth.  WE NEED YOUR HELP!


We need operatives in 25 different cities around the world on Wednesday, February 24th. Organize now. For more information visit:


The Flynn Lives website is about to launch private Member Profile pages to better organize our group. If you haven't already,click here to set up your username and password.


The Future isn't What It Used to Be

The Space Shuttle Enterprise rolls out of the ...Image via Wikipedia
Sometimes I really wish we were following Star Trek's timeline. Don't get me wrong; I'm glad we skipped out on the Eugenics Wars (or did we?), but by this time we're supposed to be sending probes to Saturn and other planets on a regular basis, sleeper ships are supposed to be commonplace and by 2012 we're supposed to have made the world's first man-made self-sustaining environment serving as a model for Martian colonies. In a short 53 years we're supposed to come up with warp drive and meet Vulcans. Before that time we're supposed to go through a nuclear World War III. We're getting closer to holodecks than to warp travel, and a manned Mars mission by 2032? Here's hoping.

...And Better All the Time

I know, I know, I'm changing the interface more than Rowsdower's litter. Just call me Facebook. But I decided the Green Asterisk needed a more unified social structure, so, while DISQUS is all well and good, I've gotten rid of it in favor of Google Friend Connect, which was connected to the blog already. This change may be a little bit more tricky to pick up than the previous enhancements, so I made a bit of an instructional video to show you what's up with that funny little blue bar down at the bottom which you can view after the break.


Shutter Island

Shutter Island (film)Image via Wikipedia
Here's the thing about Martin Scorsese's Shutter Island: it may be utterly predictable, but the storyline that can only really end one way is delivered in such a way that it successfully makes you second guess your predictions.

I can't really say much about the movie without going into spoilers, but I can tell you that it is beautifully shot, brilliantly conceived and very well performed. The way this movie is edited completely enhances the sense of paranoia and insanity that is supposed to be rampant at this mental hospital for the criminally insane.

But there's also a part of this movie that is a little more mundane, a little more typical, a little less great. On one hand, you have a movie that is beautiful, riveting, mysterious and magnetic. On the other hand you have a subject matter; insanity, conspiracy, multiple personalities; that is done to death in Hollywood, and usually done completely separate from actual scientific studies of these psychiatric cases.


You've Got to Admit It's Getting Better...

A few new features here at the Green Asterisk...

For one thing, you may have noticed a lot fewer articles on the front page. This is due to a variety of reasons, one of which is that in a lion's share of these articles I've mostly just been commenting on other articles I've seen throughout the web. Not really very original work. So, in light of this, I've been trying to figure out the best way to share those actual articles with my short commentary in the most efficient way possible. The solution was to share these articles in Google Reader and have the Facebook fan page pick up the RSS feed, but that's not the end of it. There is now a "Other People's News" page on the site. Go there and you can find everything I found interesting over the past few days with a short little blurb of my own opinion. This is one of the biggest things, but that's not all...


Star Trek: Asterisk

Inspired by my journeys through the galaxy in Star Trek Online, I've decided to start a story blog centering around my captain and crew. This will not be your normal Star Trek-style story, but all Trek fans will be able to enjoy it. This will be a character drama mixed with action and adventure and a healthy sprinkling of comedy all wrapped in a delicious bacon-wrap of sci-fi. It's called Star Trek: Asterisk. And hopefully it goes on for a good, long time. I'll be updating it every Friday, barring any unforeseen circumstance, and if you play Star Trek Online you'll notice a high correlation between the episodes and the quests in the game. So, sit back and enjoy a good read starting with the introduction to Captain Matthew Arkin and the principle mystery throughout the series. Invite all your Trekkie friends to read along and, if you really want to witness the adventures of Matthew Arkin first hand, get Star Trek Online and join the fleet! It's gonna be quite awesome.


The Wolfman

The Wolfman iPhone wallpaperImage by xploitme via Flickr
I'm not going to spend a whole lot of time on this one because that's exactly how much time it spent on plot.

The Wolfman wasn't a very bad film. It may have successfully brought back the classic monster genre, but it could have been a much better film in general than it turned out to be. Don't get me wrong: if you don't care about a shallow plot, expendable characters and predictable twists, you'll quite enjoy being creeped out by Anthony Hopkins, watching werewolves tear the guts out of people and jumping at false-scares.


Why Google is More Awesome than Apple

Ok, granted, this isn't a far stretch for a lot of people. Lots of people are already anti-fans of Apple. Even if they develop something good for a reasonable price, these people will still find something to complain about. Regardless, there is a step above Apple, and they haven't even made their own computer yet. Yet.

While everyone else was drooling (or spitting) on the iPad, Google released some UI designs for a Chrome Tablet. And while this is obviously not something that's in production yet, the very fact that this information is out in the open represents one of the key reasons that Google is so much more awesome than Apple.


Questions About LOST That Were Already Answered

Lost (TV series)Image via Wikipedia
If you, as a fan of LOST, have ever met someone who says either they've watched the whole thing and don't get why there was a random polar bear, or someone who doesn't follow the show specifically because they don't get the random polar bear, then you know this: Infinitely more annoying than the currently outstanding list of questions yet to be answered in the series are the people who think there are more unanswered questions than there actually are. We like to think the Island is this mysterious place where a bunch of random things happen that teach us more about the characters than they do about the origin and nature of the Island itself. Some have even gone so far as to believe the writers are making it up as they go along. This is simply not true. In a few days the final season of LOST will begin and all your questions will be either answered or rendered irrelevant. But I suppose even the most avid fan sometimes needs a refresher, so before you annoy me by asking how Ben became the leader of the Others, let's go over some of the questions that have already been answered.

Needless to say, I'll be heading deep into spoiler territory without even a second glance at the spoiler button, so if you're a n00b to LOST, then just go ahead and move along...


How a Christopher Nolan Robin Could Work

The best and most recent incarnation of the Batman franchise starting with Batman Begins and culminating in The Dark Knight has been successful for many, many reasons. It has been argued that one of those reasons is that Christopher Nolan has vowed to banish Robin, Batman's plucky sidekick, from the franchise altogether. I believe there is a way to include Robin into the story without compromising the integrity of the films as they have been thus far.

First off, obviously, get rid of that ridiculous red, green and yellow costume and put some frakkin pants on. We'll get into some costume design later, but no one can take the pictured costume seriously. This is one of the reasons everyone gets turned off by the thought of Robin in a serious Batman story.


Google Voice Web App Now With 100% More Awesome

Here's a little backdrop for those who haven't been following along. Once upon a time there was a website of awesomeness named Grand Central. This site was based on the idea that you can get more out of your phone service and get it for cheap. Google saw this site's potential and bought it, turning it into Google Voice. At around the same time, Apple came out with their iPhone, which was based on the idea that you can get more out of your phone... and get it for a price. These two opposing ideas CLASHED when Google Voice tried to release an iPhone app for Google Voice, which Apple slapped down with the cold, iron fist of the market! Google was beaten, but not defeated. They swore vengeance! Vengeance in the form of a web app.

Ladies and gentlemen, that vengeance has come.



Photo a Day: 011|365
Two movies does not a trend make, however after a complete lack compelling movies with a Christian(ish) message, we finally have both The Book of Eli and Legion. Now, I say "Christianish," because neither of these movies contain the Gospel, neither of them attempt to convince anyone of the Gospel and neither of them would really be especially acceptable to the Christian community as a whole. But one thing they do have in common, and the element that I believe is beginning to bridge the gap with secular media reaching out through these movies and Christian media reaching out through movies like Passion of the Christ, is that they both treat religion and, specifically, Christianity with a great deal of respect.

But the average viewer isn't really interested in that, is he? So let's get on to the real meat and potatoes of this movie. Is it good?


Deconstructing The Dark Knight

Heath Ledger as the JokerImage via Wikipedia
I never gave an adequate review to The Dark Knight. At the time I was mesmerized by its awesomeness and afraid I wouldn't be able to do it justice. I never really intended to go back and do a good review, but this movie continues to crop up in every-day conversation. And after so long of thinking about it, I believe I really have a handle on it now.

A few things before I dive in: I may be giving a few minor spoilers before the Spoiler button. If you haven't seen it yet... well, first of all, it's only $14.99 for the Blu-ray and $12.99 for the DVD on Amazon, what are you waiting for?? Secondly, depending on your tolerance for spoilers, you may want to just move along. I won't get very detailed, though, until after the Spoiler button.

Ok, that should be it. So, without further adieu, let's set the stage...


Fringe: Johari Window

Fringe (TV series)Image via Wikipedia
I saved this review for its own post for a couple of reasons. For one thing, Fringe is easily one of my favorite shows of all time due not only to the subject matter and the subtly-woven humor, but to the genius, magnificent writing the show constantly provides. For another thing, this particular episode, "Johari Window," shows a deep care for the story process that is difficult to find in any other show. The plot and the subplot in this episode are so intricately entwined that it's difficult to say where one begins and the other ends. As a matter of fact, the subplot is part of a larger arc that doesn't really end with this episode.


Half-January Roundup

i'm with COCO.
You may have noticed the Asterisk has gone on a bit of a vacation for the month of January. This in no way implies that we're burning out. In fact, quite the contrary. There are several bits of kindling that we've been busy throwing into the fire for the past half month and the blog has consequently been put on hold.

That being said, there are a lot of things that have happened lately that we've just plainly missed, and I sort of regret that. You can follow some of what I think on the latest movies, TV and awesome stuff on my twitter account, but other than that it's been silent. Here's a short review of the past few weeks in no particular order: