Two Popcorn Bucket Girl

I am fortunate enough to have seen every single Star Wars film in a theatre. Yes, I am old enough to have seen the original Star Wars (episode 4) in a theatre with my grandmother who fell asleep right when C-3PO fell into the wires and A2-D2 used his handy-dandy onboard extinguisher to put out the electrical fire.

I am a Star Wars fan and I have tried to instill that or a similar fandom into our children. While they are not old enough to have seen every movie in a theatre, they have seen Episode VII and Rogue One. Before those films, watching Clone Wars while it was on TV and again, on DVD and BluRay. While we had the correct channel (thank you cable providers) we watched Rebels, now we watch whole seasons when released.

Over the years (decades) I have amassed many questions, especially when Episodes 1 thru 3 were released. And like any good Star Wars fan I had my theories and engaged in lively conversation and debate over my questions and others. And as a Star Wars fan I was okay with not having answers to all of my questions, because if I am being honest, the one answer provided during Episode 1, metacholorians, was highly unsatisfying even if delivered by Liam Neesson.

The Star Wars fan, the movie fan, the child, and the adult in me are extremely happy.

I made a promise to take the children to see Rogue One. Just about everything, until today, has conspired to make a liar out of me. We even made plans to pull the kids out of school to go see the movie (yes in this case Star Wars is more important than a day of education) and you know what happened? Want to guess?

If you said, one of the worst snow-ice storms of the season, you would be correct.

But today, I fulfilled that promise. We took off without much warning to the theatre where thankfully there were very few people to potentially screw up the moment. I want to thank, with much sarcasm, Lego and Lego Magazine for ruining some of the surprise for my boy. He knew due to the kits produced and from stuff in the magazine some of the story line, characters, and other moments that had the rest of us saying…

WOW!

Still, he left like we did; wide-eyed, talking up a storm about what we witnessed, and experiencing a boatload of feels. Rogue One…sorry there will be no spoilers, I know that people can find reviews, full plot lines, and everything else out there…but I will remain silent for those few, who haven’t seen the movie…in my opinion is better than The Force Awakens. I left the theatre with the same emotional high Saving Private Ryan gave me, it was draining, overwhelming, worthy of long talks, and some deep thoughts.

A non-movie, but movie experience that went better for me this time than Force Awakens, I did not get pummeled in the ribs by a tiny fist seeking popcorn. We walked into the movie with a large tub of popcorn and ten minutes to go. A minute to start and Barb and I realize our girl has eaten a quarter of the bucket. Second bucket is necessary for the rest of us. And by movie’s end she was complaining of a sore tummy…of course it’s sore, she ate most of two buckets of popcorn. 🙂

This is a movie I need to see two more times just to be able to see everything I saw. The best thing about the first viewing, I got all but one of my Star Wars questions answered. All of them but one,

What is Yoda?

That was the only unanswered question. 🙂

 

Social Media People Smell Obi-Wan

When we last left the social media lecture, 4Chan and Clorox was the discussion, but classroom grooming was the post. Meanwhile, if you have not read Star Wars, yes I wrote read, then you may not be aware of the following-not only did Obi-Wan cut off a person’s arm in the cantina scene, he bisected two others.

BISECTED!

Cut in twain.

Sliced in half.

Now that makes the whole “Han shot first debate moot.” Yes, I said moot. Who cares if Han shot first when a Jedi, guardian of peace and all, comes out of retirement and disarms (ha) one person and kills two other by bisection? What happened to violence as a last resort, especially in a barroom brawl in a galaxy far far away where Jedi are supposed to be extinct.

And that is how social media and people smell come together.

Did you learn anything?

Probably not. Well you should have learned that in the book Obi-Wan was a combat beast and it makes you wonder why the fight between him and Vader on the Death Star was so blah other than they went with a broadsword style of fighting and put an elderly man in one scene…but I digress.

Class picked up right where the professor remembered leaving off which was a discussion of social capital. Which is not the capital of any state. Social capital is the concept/idea that social ties can be turned into capital, such as money, advice, idea, or a job to name a few.

There are strong ties, people who are similar to you in outlook and tend to be close to you-family and loved ones. These are few in number, but can provide larger amounts of capital in a single instance. There are weak ties, people who are not a close, can have a variety of interests, and are many in number. Weak ties provide less capital per instance, but there are more of them, thus more capital overall, plus the variety of capital that can be gained from weak ties is more diverse than strong ties.

This lead to the discussion of the Online Community. This is of huge interest to me since one of my goals has been to turn my blog (s) into a community where people gather together, read, discuss, post, and the whole process becomes more organic than me writing a post and you read. When I had a human sexuality blog, before WordPress got all banhammery, there was the start of that community.

A post would lead to long discussions between commenters, myself, and other commenters. Those conversations would spin new posts from me, typically addressing a topic brought up in conversation. It was a good time on the blog. Readers felt invested and would often take conversations had on my blog and turn it material for their blog where a conversation was started. See where this is going? Over a period of four months the beginnings of a community were forming over several blogs. It was something I wanted and want to do again.

Thus, the classroom topic and what I am doing on this blog are dovetailing.

So, we have the beginnings of the Online Community discussion comes up when the question was asked, “Why don’t you join all of the student organizations on campus?” This was an attempt to demonstrate that Ferris State University is a community as a concept, with sub-communities…alas the person next to me said, “People smell,” in response to the question. I may have been the only person who heard him, but it short-circuited my brain.

This may have had something to do with a recent trip to a game store where upon opening the door all of us were assaulted with the stank of unwashed gamer. Regardless, I could not stop laughing…thankfully class came to an end.

Now have you learned something? 🙂

Star Wars Battlefront Beta Impressions

As soon as the download completed I was there on a hyper-realistic looking Hoth running with my fellow rebels to defend Echo Base. First impression, “Holy shit, this looks just like the movie.” I spend my first five lives wandering around marveling at how cool everything looks. By everything I do mean everything the snow, hills, trenches, guns, rebels, imperials, ships flying overhead, blasters everywhere. It is so cool looking that at first it is distracting.

Ogling done I settle in for the fight. I have played many hours of other Battlefield games how different can this be? Different enough. Be prepared to be overwhelmed initially. The battle is chaotic, is putting the situation mildly. Snowtroopers blend in with snow really well. Rebels in snow gear also blend in with snow really well. Weapons seems to have an infinite range. Blaster bolts, explosions, vehicles, fighters flying overhead, battlefield weapons, and the seemingly directionless nature of the battle will cause you many moments of “What just happened!”

Get used to dying. Just like the movies troopers die in droves and you are playing one of them now. Here are some snapshots from my games:

…find a TIE fighter powerup, “HOLY SHIT! I’m in a TIE fighter.” Quick, not that agile, and lawn dart into the side of a hill.

…spawn in the middle of at least six snowtroopers…die quickly

…spawn next to five snowtroopers and one rebel…die quickly

…spawn and die as the world goes red and controller shakes violently

…get into an AT-ST and lay waste to the rebels until a combination of fire takes me down

…in an AT-ST, I see the snowspeeder flying past the AT-AT ahead of me, snowspeeder clips me, blows up, but leaves me with 5 health left.

…running along and transform into Luke Skywalker. Yes, Luke Skywalker, but Luke is wearing his Return of the Jedi clothing, isn’t he cold? Within seconds, I am among the snowtroopers slashing with lightsaber, deflecting blaster bolts, and feeling powerful as the survivors run away. Then three grenades and one giant bomb go off…Luke dies.

…in the head of the AT-AT, everyone look like ants running around. I don’t like ants, I blast them for my allotted time and then back to the life of a snowtrooper, hop over a snowbank and die to someone across the map I can’t see

…slow banking turn, line up my shot on the TIE fighter, blast it out of the sky

…using a dish gun to blast an AT-AT that explodes from the combined fire of everyone. In the background a snowspeeder completes another lap around the remaining walker. The walker falls, REBELS WIN. That was the first of two rebel wins in 20+ games

Without a doubt Star Wars Battlefront is fun and immersive. You are there, on Hoth, shooting, flying, and mostly dying. I can write for days about the fun, funny, and interesting from the Hoth battle, the 8 on 8 mode, and the single-co-op survival mode. There is a lot to like about Star Wars Battlefront. A few more snapshots…

…end game stats pop-up, the majority of both teams have single digit kills and double-digit deaths. It was at this moment I wondered, “Is this what they (meaning DICE) wanted?”

…playing with a friend, I take two steps backward for no particular reason, right as his TIE fighter slams into the ground in front of me wiping out the rebel I had been walking with.

…finally feeling like I have a sense of things, I spend a lot of time in one place looking for people moving. Those are the people who I shoot and end a game with more kills than deaths

…frustrated because for a scenario that is supposed to represent one-side defending an object, their team seems to spend a lot of time either running past us or spawning behind us. Both to no effect, our side won, but it is the first time I realize I am playing with other people and not in the movie…immersion was broken by people being people instead of people being rebels or imperials

That right there sums up my biggest concern, in a game where teamwork and coordination are going to be key for the rebels…well 2 wins over 20 games and in those two wins there were dedicated teams within the rebel side working together. Seeing that was cool and inspiring. In games, the other 18, where people did whatever they wanted it was fun, but it was also frustrating and depressing, because I knew I was on the rebel side and I was going to be on the losing side. One last snapshot…

…I dodge through blaster fire to leap into a trench to activate the “radio” to call in the Y-Wing airstrike. Both “radios” need to be activated for this to happen and airstrikes HAVE to happen, a lot, for the rebels to win. As I crouch against the trench wall hoping that the activation cycle finishes, I notice the following…nobody is even trying to activate the other “radio” and most people are trying to take down an AT-ST or looking for powerups…the Imperials are racking up kills, me included as I was in one place trying to do something for the win by myself…

 

 

How I Spent My Summer: Reading

With four days left before school starts, I thought it would be fun to engage in that time honored back-to-school assignment of reflecting upon how I spent my summer. A way to inform the teacher about what my family and I did or maybe more to the point, how well I play with crayons, can write, spell, put my thoughts together, and what is important to me. Since WordPress does not have a crayon font (hint hint), I have to type this out.

bloodybearNormally Bloody Bear would be doing the book reviews, but he is preparing for hibernation-it’s cold here in case you a.) did not live here or b.) do not get our weather reports. Each summer since this school thing started I spend as much of my time reading books I want to read. This summer was no different. Where this summer was different was I picked a lot of dud books. Dud books for me, maybe not for you.

Steampunk by Ann & Jeff Vandermeer, the introduction has been way better than any of the stories in the anthology. The writing is solid, but what I want to read about steampunk wise and what the authors have written about are two different things. If you are a fan of Steampunk, you may like this anthology.

The Clone Army Attacketh by Ian Doescher, the fifth book in the Shakespeare Star Wars series is good, better than The Phantom of Menace, but not as good as the first three books. It is not the author’s fault, the book is an excellent Shakespearean version of Star Wars, the problem is the material he had to work with.

Traveling to Infinity by Jane Hawking, having watched The Theory of Everything I could not help think, when did all of this happen-the movie does not present the flow of time well-and there has to be a lot more than what is in the movie. Thus, I got the book. I have only started the book, but have not been disappointed; getting a better sense of the flow of events and the detail I desired.

The Professional Chef by the CIA, I bought this last year and I am still reading and learning.

Lucky Peach, a quarterly cooking/food magazine by David Chang. I read every issue with a notepad and stack of sticky flags. Notes and highlights are a must for every issue. Like to cook, read about food, and learn? Pick up this magazine!

Divergent and Insurgent by Veronica Roth, I needed something light and fun to read. Both of these books covered that; I read both in under a week…then I made the mistake of reading various reviews on the third book in the trilogy, including one very detailed review which laid out the third book in detail. Rather than spending the money on the third book and being disappointed, I stopped reading-yes the third book would have ruined a good summer fun read for me.

Undaunted Courage by Stephen Ambrose, I really wanted to like this book; in my head the Ambrose treatment of Lewis and Clark had to be fun to read. It was not. I think the problem with the book is that he could not talk to anyone involved with the book-Lewis and Clark have been dead for a while. Thus the connection he establishes with the subject is distant. It is a good read if you really want to know about Lewis and Clark, but it is not as alive as his World War II books.

The Wild Blue by Stephen Ambrose, this was a fun read. If you liked Band of Brothers or any of his other World War II books, then you will like The Wild Blue which is about people who flew B24’s.

A Kim Jong-Il Production by Paul Fischer, how could the kidnapping of the most famous South Korean actress and her producer husband not be a good read? When the minutiae becomes the story. It starts out engaging, with moments of humor, and then bogs down to a slog.

The Scorch Trials by James Dashner, I enjoyed Maze Runner-another one of those I need something quick and lite reads. I did not enjoy the end of Maze Runner, but I enjoyed everything up to that point enough that a friend convinced me to give The Scorch Trials a try. I did not like The Scorch Trials at all. It takes what I did not like about the end of Maze Runner and tries to run with it.

Seventh Son by Joseph Delaney, another I wanted something lite and fun to read pickup. Seventh Son is the first two books of the Last Apprentice series combined. I found Seventh Son to be a solid read, lite, fun, and with some world building details that did not have me questioning the setting-like Divergent, Hunger Games, and Maze Runner did.

5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons Player’s Handbook by Wizards of the Coast, I picked this up last year and “read” it then. By “read” I mean quickly read through the book finding most of it very familiar and then school got in the way. Now I have time to read the book and I love what I am reading. A careful read illuminates many gems that take me back to blue box first edition and have me thinking about the adventures I can create. Fifth Edition is NOT Fourth Edition with new stuff. Fifth Edition is a careful and thoughtful creation that combines a lot of what people loved about previous editions of Dungeons and Dragons with new ideas to make the game approachable for players new and old.

That is the highlight of my summer reading. There are four days of summer “vacation” left, so I will get more reading done, but you get the idea. Next up games, food, or travel…guess it depends upon my mood.

How I Spent My Summer: Games

How I Spent My Summer: Food

How I Spent My Summer: Travel

 

Waiting

Today has been all about waiting.

Waiting for swim classes to start only to find out they were canceled due to the cold weather (yes you read that right, cold weather).

Waiting for UPS with my copy of William Shakespeare’s The Clone Army Attacketh by Ian Doescher. When UPS delivers someone waits, otherwise getting the delivery turns into a pain in the ass of waiting another day or going to the pickup facility. For those who don’t know about William Shakespeare’s Star Wars series by Ian Doescher, I highly recommend them. A faithful retelling of a well known tale with the occasional surprise tossed in. Anon R2, indeed.

Waiting for everyone to get ready to play Rise of the Runelords. Characters were chosen-Alchemist, Barbarian, Druid, and Monk. Decks were built and table ready for play. Unfortunately, not everyone has been in the mood to play. Thus, some of us wait and the game waits. Why Rise of the Runelords again? Pathfinder Adventure Card Game is an excellent game with great replayability. Each set introduces new characters and class decks even more, all of the characters are playable in any set. Further, Rise of the Runelords is an easier set to play for new players, in this case our girl. Finally, we are waiting for more Wrath. Thus while we wait, we play. 🙂

Waiting for food. I had a plan for “Everything Tastes of Chicken” day. The plan included chicken wings, chicken breast, and the last of our box/pre-packaged foods. I thought we had gotten rid of all of that stuff, but nope found one last cache and everything-noodles, stuffing, and something else. Make chicken and chicken flavored stuff and done. Then someone suggested flavored pancakes and bacon (regular ole’ bacon) for lunch. Which turned into…

Waiting for the bacon to thaw.

Waiting for the bacon to cook.

Waiting for the kids and Barb to finish whatever they were working on. This was a combination of movies-Barb got invested in Draft Day, a good film. Our girl watching either Monster High or Barbie Something Something in Pink and Song. Our boy level-grinding in Destiny and then cursing because his version of level-grinding did not meet expectations.

Waiting for flavored pancakes to finish. Pancakes should not take long unless you are making lemon-poppy seed, blueberry, chocolate, and confetti flavors. Oh, and having the kids “assist.” Our boy is in charge of mixing, but he thinks he knows best because he watched some Good Eats; he argues with Barb about the consistency of the batter. Our girl is in charge of cooking the pancakes, but she gets distracted by the cat or the steam or our boy or Barb…see where this is going. This leaves Barb attempting to cook around the kids who are “assisting.”

Waiting…

 

 

There’s A New Imperial Officer In Town

Organized EmpireLook how organized this new Imperial Officer is. Hopefully, he has more luck than I did as agent of the Empire. Yes I won, but only at the last minute. A tally of my career is a tally of facilities destroyed and requisitions for new stormtroopers.  This new Imperial Officer, our boy, has the benefit of my experience and advice. At least he will get my advice for the first few games.

I had nothing do to with the table. He set-up the training scenario and organized everything. When I pointed out the treasure cards would not be needed, he simply said, “I want to get used to having everything in place.” How awesome is that?

We played through the training scenario, not for the benefit of the Rebels, but for the benefit of the new Imperial Officer. Having all of those resources to move around and keep track of can get overwhelming. Thus, he got a chance to train against the jedi, the solider, and the wookie. I have wanted to play the wookie since I opened the box. Was the wookie worth the wait?

Hell yeah! Before I talk about the awesomeness of the wookie, a word about our boy’s first effort. Before the soldier took her (played by Barb) move he wounded her with the probe droid and E-Web gunner. Talk about ruthless. Due to a door that would not open and a smart wookie player (me) he could not make any other equally devastating moves. The wounded soldier havoc shot the E-web and a stormtrooper which allowed the awesomeness of the wookie to shine. With a single move the wookie took out the E-Web gunner and the stormtrooper. Awesome!

The training scenario lasted two more turns before the Rebels won. The scenario is designed for the Rebels to win, otherwise people would not play. During clean-up we talked about the game. I expected him to not want to start a campaign as the Imperial player, he surprised me with his enthusiasm to crush us Rebels, his words.

Things he can keep doing:

  • Play to win
  • Sound effects: Pew Pew! 🙂
  • Organization (he set up our characters for us, I never did that)

Things he can stop doing

  • Gloating during the game: yes your stormtrooper inflicted a wound, but then he and two others died from return fire

That is all the gaming this weekend. Unfortunately school got in the way and fortunately a birthday party did get in the way.

 

 

It Ended on A Force Choke

Nexu 1Our first skirmish Star Wars Imperial Assault game is over. Victory goes to, Darth Vader. Skirmish is the second game in Star Wars Imperial Assault, the first being Campaign. In a skirmish game each side picks their own army. A skirmish game can be played to victory points, objectives, or last figure standing.

Last night, I pulled all of the board tiles out of Descent. We didn’t enjoy Descent as much as we are enjoying Star Wars Imperial Assault. Why? I don’t have a solid reason other than we are a Star Wars family and when we play fantasy games we like recognizable elements. Regardless, the tiles were what I was after. Star Wars in a dungeon, why not? Think Jedi or Sith Temple. That was what we were thinking.

Our goal, to play one game to see if skirmish appealed to us. The boy set up the board, a huge monstrosity; a huge u-shaped section attached to a main section with a starting point off of each side. The board looked really cool, huge, and I wondered how much would see use. Here is a lesson, large boards that have one path to a central area, are boring. Three or four turns of movement for both of us to collide in the middle of the board.

darth-vader-2Surprising me, the boy choose the scum and villany side. He had two nexu (taco mouths-see non-Darth pics), some trandoshans, and IG-88. I took the Imperial side. I had Darth Vader, some stormtroopers, and an imperial officer. I needed none of them.

Darth Vader rocks! Probably a duh for everyone, but until I was slashing my way through all of the boy’s guys, except one trandoshan who was brought down by massed stormtrooper shooting, I had no idea how bad ass Darth Vader could be. Get into position, slash one nexu, then another. Force choke a trandoshan. Move slash, slash. IG-88 starts shooting, big deal! Darth Vader advances, hack, slash, and force choke. That is how IG-88 went out, choked to death.

Vader’s two attacks were great, as long as the enemy was adjacent.  Force choke, hilarious. Two black defense dice and the ability to re-roll one, AWESOME! That saved Darth’s bacon. At the end of the game, Darth had taken four damage.

Enough glorifying Darth Vader, the command deck, which each player builds, was a lot more fun and useful than I was expecting. Usually, command cards or a similar mechanic turn out to have no appreciable value or are overly game changing. These, at least the ones we used (0 cost cards), were perfect for casual play; move a space further, bonus to range or damage, or remove a status effect. Both of us are looking forward to building command decks that suit our style of play.

th (2)Skirmish, even on an oversized board was a lot of fun. Making a good break from the campaign-the rebels are still recovering from their loss (and a week of school :)). The change of pace (still fast, but you no longer have to focus on a time limit or other game ending event), style (go at it and best player wins), and being able to use anything from the box rounds out Star Wars Imperial Assault.