HG Prime

Talking to the moon

Marvel MCU, the order I'd have liked... with a dash of Wonder Woman

I was thinking about this on my drive home from work yesterday because this is what occupies my brain sometimes. But the order of events in the Marvel MCU don't completely add up for me, and there are some things just outright missing. (Yes, I mean the Black Widow movie.) So I've decided to just go ahead and list my dream timeline to get it out of my brain and onto the Internet. 

So here we go:

Ironman. Although it isn't linear, I'm ok with Ironman being first. It gives a primer to the world the rest of the heroes will eventually inhabit, plus Tony Stark is just fun. 

Captain America: First Avenger. However, I would have it end happily and Bucky still alive.

Black Widow (with special appearance of Hawkeye and Agent Coulson). Basically, it's Budapest. 

Thor

Captain America: The Second First Avenger? This movie would be more WWII exploits with the Howling Commandos that includes Bucky's death and Steve going into the ice at the end.   

Avengers

Captain America: Winter Soldier. So now Steve has taken down SHIELD it makes more sense that everyone was a bit busy to help each other out for...

Thor: The Dark World and Ironman II.  I'd also love a Bucky Barnes: Winter Soldier stand alone movie, of him dealing with who he was and getting himself back before he lets himself be brought in by Steve. 

Avengers: Ultron. So now everyone comes together again (including Bucky and Sam, and skipping the Bruce/Natasha relationship) and THAT leads into Ironman III where Tony is suffering from PTSD (and a shitton of guilt) and why the Mandarin feels embolden to attack him. So Tony's desire to help rebuild security and intelligence agencies, because privatized world security doesn't work, while at the same time trying to corral and control enhanced people makes more sense. No weird backslide from Ironman III in Ultron if Ironman III comes afterward.  

Ant-Man

Doctor Strange

Guardians of the Galaxy

Nu Spiderman with the kid. (So Tony isn't his benefactor and getting all up in his stand alone movie.)

Now comes Avengers: Civil War. The world is tired of superheroes running amok and creating chaos as they did in Ultron, Dark World, and even IM3. They want something to replace SHIELD so they feel secure again. Enter General Asshat and Tony who create the Accords, something Steve doesn't agree with. It's still possible for Zemo to frame Bucky to get the ball rolling, but it's more to reveal his past to the world, which was something the Avengers had been keeping secret, to ruin Captain America's credibility, tear him and Tony apart as allies, etc.  And unless they intend on making something of the fact that Howard had super soldier serum later, I'd skip the plot line that it was Bucky that killed him. Mostly because it's getting a bit ridiculous how everything revolves around Tony in some way. 

Guardians of the Galaxy II

Black Panther

Thor III

Doctor Strange II (Which they reveal that Tilda Swinton wasn't THE Ancient, but AN Ancient and the Ancient of the comics was off screen doing something else in the first movie and they sometimes move about the world while another takes over their duties in particular locations but adopt the dress of whom they are stepping in for out of respect.)

Bucky Barnes II- Man on the Wall. (Yes, Bucky goes to space. After Civil War he just needs some time away and this would be a perfect way for him to eventually run into the Guardians of the Galaxy, which brings them back to Earth for Infinity War I & II.)

If anyone is interested... also, randomly, I've decided that Steve Roger's father was in the trenches when Wonder Woman marched across No Man's Land and he wrote about it, which ended up being the last letter to make it to Sarah Rogers, and Steve found the letter when he was a kid and read it so often that it's the reason he chose a shield as his weapon of choice when became Captain America. 

So there you go. You're welcome? 

 

Key Can Kiss My Debt.

I had two accounts at Key Bank, opened at a branch convenient to my workplace. A checking that I used almost daily, and a savings account. I had an automatic withdrawal of 10 bucks that was supposed to go into the savings every week and I periodically took that money out when I went on trips so I'd have some pocket cash. Just in case money. In between the last time I took money for something and by the time I got back, a 7 dollar maintenance charge was posted to that account. I didn't have 7 dollars in it, so they hit me with a 34 dollar overdraft fee. Then a 4.50 charge hit for an insurance policy offered through the bank also hit. And another 34 dollar overdraft fee. Then a 29 dollar fee each for not having the money in the account. So now I supposedly owed them 137.50 instead of 11.00. But what did they do? They took the entire 137.50 from my checking account. So they can go into a different account and take over one hundred dollars, but they couldn't take the 7 and 4.50 from there?

But THEN, because they took that 137.50, two charges from the hosting site for my website went through after I had a zero balance and I got charged overdraft and bounce fees for them as well. So now they want me to pay another 130 dollars in order to close my checking account, which after they way they just stick their hands in my pockets I sure as hell want to do.  What exactly did Key do to earn nearly 270 dollars of my money? Nothing. It was all done by computer. Not a single human had anything to do with any of these transactions.

Convenience costs, I guess?

Glorious Crap, Firsts, and Martians.

*SPOILERS* for Jupiter Ascending and The Martian.

On Monday I joined hosts AJ (@unpluggedcrazy) and Paul (@Haunt1013) to record an intense and emotionally stirring episode of GobbledyGeeks to discuss The Martian for their second annual book club series as well as to offer a few thoughts on the recently released Jupiter Ascending. It was the first time I had ever been a guest on a pod cast and this blog post here is for caveats and explanations and to lower any expectations of anyone who chooses to listen. My first qualifying comment is that I always need to ponder things for days in the back of my mind, like a subroutine program, before really coming up with coherent thoughts about a work of art (usually movies) and so now that a quite a few days have passed I wanted to expand on my few (probably incoherent) comments on Jupiter Ascending.

If you listen, (and I’m on the fence if you should because I’m sure I sound like a goob), you’ll hear me describe the movie as “glorious crap” and I realized after the hour was up that I didn’t define what that actually means to me.

My criteria for liking a movie (or TV show) has less to do with what was on-screen and more to do with what could have been or how much I have to chew on after the fact. I realize that might seem a strange way to judge a film but I have always been drawn to things that raise a plethora of questions and possible scenarios, not because there were plot holes or the story wasn’t complete, but that the world created has so much potential that one can see a 1000 other stories that could be told. Which means I’d probably make a lousy movie reviewer as I grade on the “what ifs” the story inspires rather than on the story itself. If it has enough to fuel my imagination I will look beyond the quality or how one-dimensional the main storyline was or how bland the main characters were, which in the case of Jupiter Ascending the latter two are true.

Despite the Wachowski’s using one of my favorite tropes, the changeling fantasy, I wasn’t invested too much with Jupiter Jones, the everywoman that makes a living scrubbing the toilets and taking out the garbage of the rich, even though I did relate to her monotonous situation and feeling trapped by circumstance.  Who hasn’t wanted someone to show up out of the blue and announce to them that they’re awesome/rich/the keeper of some sorcery/savior of the world? Well, maybe not that last one. Bad things tend to happen to saviors. But with the revelation the character is pulled out of their hum drum life and has the grand adventure they’ve been pining for, and usually it isn’t what they hoped for, and learns some life lesson about being careful what you wish for but also to embrace their own uniqueness. Except in Jupiter’s case the opposite is true as everyone wants her to accept the identity of another, which she ultimately rejects in favor of her hum drum life. But not all hope is lost for those of us living vicariously through her. More on that later. The movie itself, which seems to be a giant declaration against greed, especially when it comes at the expense of so many, failed in that regard because it doesn’t seem anyone cares about whatever message the movie might be trying to get across because they’re too busy pointing out how much it feels like such a retread of everything else including the directors' other work The Matrix.

Jupiter Jones is thrust into a complicated world with a complex economy that is dependent on stealing time from others, and all of the history that lead up to the moment she arrives begs to be explored. Honestly I think this would have been much better as a book instead because if it were they could really go into greater detail the world that the Abrasax family comes from and the culture that spawned the idea that certain people, the “entitled”, deserve unlimited time and how does everyone not entitled feel about that. I wonder how that process was discovered and who it was used on in the beginning, because the family couldn't have had time to grow humans to test it out at first, unless they stole it from others. That scenario leads me to believe there was a conflict once upon a time that was ultimately won by the Abrasax and the other entitled and who wouldn't want to know how all of that happened? Since the creation of the eternal youth serum how often has a recurrence happened? What happens if a recurrence happens and the original is still alive? Do the entitled ever scour any planet they’re going to harvest for individuals that meet some unspecified criteria to be saved and integrated into the advanced society? If the original planet is so overpopulated, why don’t they cull from their own? Did they at one time? Why were none of these questions addressed? The answer is simple: because it’s a movie there isn’t enough time. But a book could explore that. So, I liked the movie because I wanted more of the universe it was set in. As I said, my criteria are strange.

Regardless of my odd compunctions I sincerely did think the movie itself was fun. The effects were pretty, the action outrageous, & the settings were gorgeous. Chandeliers in the space docks? Come on. Right?! But that brings me to a point about the action sequence when Caine first finds Jupiter Jones and saves her from the grays and bounty hunters. As has been noted by some it does drag on a bit, but I think it was to really drive home that despite the extensive damage done during their escape and the number of witnesses to the chase that the awesome task it would be to cover it up yet how easily it was done defines the level of technology Jupiter and Caine are up against and how alone our heroes really are against such tremendous odds. But it also brings up a point about Jupiter’s actions at the very end after Jupiter seems to have chosen her old life and the lack of luxury it affords. We next see her on her “date” with Caine and she puts on a pair of the anti-gravity roller blades to take a spin through the air over downtown Chicago. There is no way people didn’t see them, which means she is either taking advantage of the technology of the society that we think she’s turned her back on or is she going to introduce the technology to everyone on Earth to raise the standard of living of her family on Earth. (I’d love to see that episode of Shark Tank.) Because of all the things in the movie that made the least sense to me wasn’t that she would go back to being a maid since it seems an act of defining herself for herself, but keeping her mother in the same profession when she has the means to give that up. Look. Doing an honest day’s work is noble and all of that, but come on. Her mother has had a crap life so give her some good damn well deserved luxury. For Jupiter to refuse the benefits that come with being an Abrasax is one thing, but to refuse those benefits to someone else without letting them know is a different kind of greed.

At the end of the preamble segment I asked a question of “which was worse”. In Star Trek: Into Whiteness, Jar Jar Abrams (oh hush, like I’m the first to make either joke) used a method of “memorable moment” cut and paste to emotionally manipulate the audience to the point that he made borrowing from nostalgia an art form. From downright stealing a moment (Kirk dying for “the many”) to playing on the expectations and in jokes of the franchise, like having someone put on a “red shirt” so the audience was expecting their demise only to have that character save the day. Yet the main complaint that I am seeing about Jupiter Ascending, (which had no source material to bolster the movie as it was all original), used way too many well-known tropes instead. Basically the entire film was a seven layer chocolate cake of borrowed plots and motivations to tell their story. Now I am asking everyone else the question: Which was worse? What say you?

The Martian doesn’t seem to rely on tropes (despite the long list on TVTropes.org, many of which I am not sure count as tropes to begin with...but that's another post for another day) or cheap emotional short cuts, but Mark Watney is a familiar character as the lone man against the elements, just like Robinson Caruso, Chuck Noland, or Luke Graham. In fact when I first got the book, (received as a Christmas present), my first thought was that the author must have been inspired by Luke Graham the most, as the stranded astronaut in Mission to Mars who managed to survive for several years on the red planet till rescue arrives. But I can’t really do a review of the book as I’m only about halfway through, (not an exact percentage as mine is a paper copy), All I can say is that so far I am enjoying the book thoroughly and I realize there were several choices the author could have made with this story, from it all being from Mark's perspective and be an exploration of the human psyche under extreme conditions and loneliness, to a more somber suspense novel with his survival in constant jeopardy, I appreciate it's can-do tone, from the people at NASA on Earth to Mark himself, who is probably the most Zen man in the solar system. Weir has the perfect spin off if he wanted to franchise and that'd be to write Mark's "autobiography" after he gets back to Earth (I hope) called "Zen and the Art of Martian Rover Maintenance... With Just Duct Tape".  I'd buy it. However in a reversal from Jupiter Ascending, I’m certain I’ll like the movie much better. I just can’t believe they didn’t cast Don Cheadle. It would have been the best in-joke ever.

I've been invited back for the final podcast  of the book club series but I'm thinking maybe I should just write all my answers out on index cards to flash at the camera to be read by someone else instead. Might be better for everyone...

PS The book’s author also wrote a short story called The Egg. Enjoy!

15 Sci Fi Books in 2015, A Self Appointed Task.

When I was younger I was a much more avid reader than I am now (that I’m old)(er), and that is my fault. I have gotten into a lazy routine of TV and futzing that I need to break. Not that the medium of TV can’t bring great stories, even sci-fi in a world where the channel named after the genre has turned its back on it. (Tornados and sharks? Really?) There’s Person of Interested, Orphan Black, The 100, etc. Yet I still want to engage my own inner visuals and savor the words that someone else worked so hard to string together in a manufactured world of their creation.

So. I asked the internet and got some good suggestions, especially for female authors. It’s not a rule in this task but when I looked at what I had in my own library I realized they were all male authors and I wanted to shake that up. I got a lot of great suggestions via @twitter and one from Instagram.

This list is as follows: (From my library.)

"The Martian" by Andy Weir
"Pebble in the Sky" by Isaac Asimov
"Spook Country" by William Gibson
"Dark Matter" by Joseph Mazzolli
"The Year of the Quiet Sun" by Wilson Tucker
"The Winds of Time" by Chad Oliver
"There Will Be Time" by Poul Anderson

The last three are in an anthology that someone sent me last year for Christmas that I hadn't gotten to yet. All three are time travel stories. I think that's going to be the sub theme of this little task.

So I'm going to reread "The Time Machine" by HG Wells.

Books that were suggested to me:

"To Say Nothing of the Dog" by Connie Willis
"Tanglewood" by Kay Reindl
"A Vision of Fire: A Novel" by Gillian Anderson (sure), Jeff Rovin
"Brother Termite" by Patricia Anthony
"The Sparrow: A Novel" by Mary Doria Russell

I have less than half in my possession already and do plan on utilizing my local library, (because libraries are awesome) but if anyone is interested in co-funding this little project, I put the list of what I don’t have yet on Amazon in a Wish List

To make the task an actual task and not an excuse to partake in awesome creativity I’m thinking I should blog each book and comic and at the end the entire bundle of owned books should be passed on. Auction for charity? Donated to someone else? I’m open to ideas. Also, The Martian will be the focus of the GobbledyGeek podcast, so I’ll try to participate in that too. Want to join me? The more the merrier. I won’t even ask you to write book reports. Bonus! Right?

And join the discussions on Bibliographica 2.0.
 

Gift Suggestions for the Holidays.

The holidays are upon us once again, like a relentless zombie that JUST WON'T DIE, it returns again and again, usually when you least expect it. Right? Or maybe you have a more positive outlook on the days after Thanksgiving and just before New Years. Personally I don't think it's a coincidence that we end the holiday season getting completely drunk and counting down the end of the year with glee that it's all finally over.

So! On to suggestions for those you love (or have to put up with thanks to genetics) to give them something they weren't expecting but is still pretty damn shiny.

For the reader:

The Deli Counter of Justice. An anthology of awesome.

For the movie lovers:

The Untitled Work of Paul Shepard. Available from Amazon.ca. They have 5 copies left and I sent an email to IndieCan to confirm that the 5 DVDs Amazon.ca has are autographed by the cast. But they're the last. So order quickly!

Sex After Kids. Also available from Amazon.ca. Not signed but just as awesome.

The Returned. It's a zombie movie and a love story and it will kick you in the heart at the end. Doesn't that just scream Christmas?

For lovers of art and/or superheroes:

Modhero.com But you have to email about availability. From their site: A design experiment overcome with fanboy hormones and ret-conned into "Art."

Etsy.com. Art for everyone on your list.

Lovers of fun:

Firefly The Game. Like we all don't pretend we're on Serenity from time to time anyhow.

Firefly Clue. I have a feeling a lot of guesses will by Jayne with something heavy pretty much everywhere.

And when in doubt: Candy!

Purdy's chocolates.

Peppermint Pig.

 

Making Strides Walk

"Making Strides Against Breast Cancer is a celebration of survivorship an occasion to express hope and our shared determination to make this breast cancer’s last century."

And for that I'll be getting up early on Sunday to walk with bunches of other people in Washington Park. And if you wanted to add some incentive in the form of a donation I'd be grateful. MakingStridesWalk.org/Albany and chose the team "Capital Cities Imported Cars". If you scroll down they eventually list the teams in alphabetical order.

Thanks!