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Kevin Klemme
March 09, 2020
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Kevin Klemme
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August 12, 2019
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oliverkinne
December 19, 2023
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December 14, 2023
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Mycelia Board Game Review

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December 12, 2023
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December 07, 2023
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River Wild Board Game Review

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December 05, 2023
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November 30, 2023
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November 29, 2023
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November 28, 2023
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October 24, 2023
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October 17, 2023
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October 10, 2023
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Outback Crossing Review

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10 Oct 2023 15:09 #340730 by Shellhead
I enjoyed all three seasons of The Boys and look forward to the upcoming 4th season, but it is in spite of the ultraviolence and deliberately disgusting and/or provocative details. The writing is sharp and very critical of our society, and aggressively deconstructs many tired superhero tropes. The actors are generally new faces but also competent. The music selections are excellent and often elevate a scene.

So I gave Gen V a try and got instantly hooked. It's the same setting as The Boys, and takes place in between the 3rd and 4th seasons of that show. Gen V is also deconstructing superhero tropes with dark humor, violence, and some disgusting elements, but the focus is on an aspect of our society that is no longer familiar to me: the college campus. Social media is omnipresent and a two-edged blade. Issues like eating disorders and cutting are addressed in bold and unsettling ways. One character is offended when her new bestie (who vaguely resembles Kylie Jenner) blasts her dark secret on Instagram. The subsequent apology is going okay until the offended character realizes that the apology is being staged and live-streamed. I peeked at some other reviews, and the younger reviewers find the depiction of campus life in Gen V to be fairly realistic aside from the superhuman powers.
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11 Oct 2023 09:23 #340737 by Shellhead
Our Flag Means Death is back for a second season, and I am here for it. I tried out the first season because I liked the idea of a pirate comedy. It turned out to be a gay pirate comedy, which is not what I might have chosen, but I enjoyed it anyway. The sets and costumes are excellent, and the acting is decent, with multiple cast members with good comedic timing. My favorite exchange in the new season, between two female pirates:

"Ain't you the soup bitch?"

"I'm the money bitch."

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11 Oct 2023 16:26 #340739 by hotseatgames
Enjoyed season 1 of Castlevania: Nocturne, hopefully season 2 continues this quality level.

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14 Oct 2023 20:46 #340762 by jason10mm
My problem with Gen V is the continued assumption that superpowers condemns you to a life of celebrity crime fighting and apparently nothing else. The lead, with her blood manipulation powers, seems like a FANTASTIC physician, yet she is laser focused on a specific manifestation of her powers (the homicidal part). Hopefully she 'has a plan' or something that explains this, but I just find it kinda boring that these powers are continuously framed as a crime-fighting tool first and foremost, and a lame carney trick otherwise.
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09 Nov 2023 09:24 #340963 by Shellhead
Partway into season 4 of The Vampire Diaries. Despite initially presenting as an archetypal CW teen drama, this show has generally maintained a strong focus on a mixture of intrigue and supernatural action with some horror in the mix. Maybe 20% high school drama early in first season, which gradually gave way to maybe 10% soap opera and still 90% suspense and action. However, early season four has dialed up the soap factor again, to maybe 20%. It's fine for now, but if the soap level gets too high, I might bail.

The star of the show is starting to bother me. Nina Dobrev plays Elena Gilbert, a sophomore in high school at the onset of the series. The actress is 20, but very credibly passes for 16. By season 4, she still looks 16, even though the actress is already 23. She's attractive, and a decent performer, but her youthful appearance is getting a bit weird, especially since her character is otherwise growing up, in both behavior and demeanor. Dobrev eventually got plastic surgery and now looks more mature and also generic in recent photos.

I was only vaguely aware of the existence of The Vampire Diaries before I started watching it, but thanks to occasional peeps at IMDB, it seems that the show must have been a big hit. Eight seasons, plus a spin-off with five seasons, plus another spin-off with two seasons. That's veering into Star Trek territory for franchise success, and then it abruptly halted.

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09 Nov 2023 09:49 #340964 by Shellhead
Speaking of Star Trek, I heard friends mention a Star Trek pub crawl a couple of years before Covid disrupted everything. One of them mentioned it again last summer, around the time that I was getting into Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. I noticed that my hair and my build are similar to that of Anson Mount, the actor playing the modern version of Captain Pike, so I bought his captain shirt and a delta badge for a costume. A couple of weeks before the pub crawl, I showed my hair stylist some pictures of Pike and had her teach me how to recreate that hair with some styling clay. My friend canceled on me, so I showed up alone for the pub crawl on the weekend before Halloween.

Right after parking my car, I started walking towards the first bar, and spotted a half dozen people in Federation uniforms walking the opposite direction on the other side of the street. We greeted each other and I learned that they were headed for the fourth and final bar because they didn't read the full event description. I tend to over-prepare for things, so I whipped out a printed screenshot of the event description and showed it to them, with the full schedule. Then I whipped out a printed map of the area, with the bars marked and numbered, including a dollar sign for the bar that was cash-only. Then I whipped out a spare copy of that map and handed it to them, and became a instant legend. I jokingly said that this is why I'm the captain, and they all saluted me. The bull dyke leader of their group told me, "I would follow you anywhere, Captain." They still had to go to the fourth bar to retrieve a friend who was waiting there for them, but they caught up with me at the second bar and bought me drinks. One guy even bought a $100 worth of pull tabs and gave me one to play.

Of the 40 people who showed up for the pub crawl, there were three Captain Pikes. So I suggested that we re-enact the Spider-man meme and get photos of all three of us pointing at each other. The final bar featured a live band called Fistful of Datas, and they were wearing Federation uniforms. They played good covers of some great '90s music, plus a rocking version of the divisive Enterprise theme. One woman told me about a monthly Star Trek trivia contest at a different local bar and invited me to join her team.

Last night, I went to the Star Trek trivia contest. There were 14 teams plus a group onstage moderating the event, so it was wall-to-wall Star Trek fans. The woman invited me wasn't there, but my "crew" was there and invited me to join their team. The questions ranged from pretty easy to really difficult. If this was a test in school, I would have gotten an F. As part of a team, we did okay, falling into the middle of the pack. My only real contribution was knowing the name of the other captain from The Doomsday Machine episode of the original series.

So I want to get better at this and help my team more, but I have a problem with Star Trek. With the exception of the original series and Strange New Worlds, it seems like every Star Trek show starts out with at least one bad season, and I struggle to get to the good stuff. Next Gen started out with a good pilot episode and two bad seasons, but I did enjoy the rest of the series. So all that I have seen of Star Trek is the original series (multiple viewings of every episode), the animated series from the '70s, Next Generation (maybe two viewings of the later episodes), the first season of Strange New Worlds, and random episodes of everything else. And I have seen all the movies. I think that I need to watch Lower Decks last, because it seems very referential to the other shows. What should I watch next? And what can I reasonably skip?
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09 Nov 2023 10:19 #340965 by Msample
ST Deep Space 9 is pretty solid; while the first season has some typical early series struggles it still has stand out eps like DUET or the season finale IN THE HANDS OF THE PROPHETS.
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09 Nov 2023 10:21 #340966 by jason10mm
I was waiting to hear the sexual exploits of this pub crawl....left disappointed. First season is off to a bad start :P

Personally I would drive through all of TNG and DS9. Voyager I never really cared for in any respect other than 7 of 9 but I'm sure there were some good ones in there. Enterprise I bailed on after 2 seasons but I hear season 4(?) was the standout.

Discovery I find just unpleasant to watch. The way it is filmed, the way dialogue is delivered, even if the casting and plots were better it just doesn't feel like Trek to me. I only watched season 3 of Picard as that was heavily TNG focused and as expected, the TNG stuff was decent but the earlier Picard related stuff was borderline atrocious, including, sadly, whatever the F Stewart is handling Picard these days.

Lower Decks, however, is STELLAR. It most heavily references TNG, but there is a fair amount of DS9 and Voyager in there, as well as a bit of TOS and ENT, so holding off might be ok. But if you want that warm TNG blanket feeling, Lower Decks is really the only way to get it these days.

I like SNW but I wish there were more Strange. New. Worlds. and a lot less "here is my trauma....again". Something has been lost in proper ensemble team writing and how to effectively deliver character traits without having to dive into 100 minutes of backstory.
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09 Nov 2023 10:28 #340967 by jason10mm
Also, if you want to learn about Star Trek but don't want to, or have the time to, actually watch the shows, there are lots of podcasts you could use to get proper synopses and info that would help in trivia. One I like in particular is "Rachel Watches Star Trek" which has a charming lady with an infectious british accent watching all of Star Trek in order (having never seen any of it before) with her super Trek nerd husband. They have done all of TOS, the animated show, TNG, and bits of the more recent stuff, they are working through DS9 now. So for TNG especially you could just listen to this podcast during your commute or whatever and get all the trivia detail you need and cherry pick the major eps to actually watch. I'm rewatching TNG now and they mention all the important stuff from each ep (like Terri Hatcher in an early cameo as a lieutenant who swoons for a really bad Han Solo impersonator) that you might need.

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09 Nov 2023 10:46 #340968 by Joebot

Msample wrote: ST Deep Space 9 is pretty solid; while the first season has some typical early series struggles it still has stand out eps like DUET or the season finale IN THE HANDS OF THE PROPHETS.


I agree with you, but I think DS9's first season is still better than any other Trek show's first season. I recently did a rewatch of the entire show, and I was pleasantly surprised that season 1 wasn't an unbearable slog to get through. It has to do a lot of world-building, most of which is pretty interesting.

DS9 was so ahead of it's time in many ways. It really holds up well alongside the current TV environment of heavily serialized shows and anti-heroes. The Dominion War gives you a very different view of the Federation and Starfleet than any other Star Trek show before or since. The religious mystical stuff with the Bajoran prophets was never my favorite part, but it's fine for the most part. Across 7 seasons, there are only a handful of real clunkers ("Muse" ugh). It also hits some remarkable heights. If "The Visitor" doesn't make you cry, then you are made of stone. You also get to see some very fun cameos. Mike from "Breaking Bad" as an alien warlord! Rawls from "The Wire" as a an asshole Bajoran general!
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09 Nov 2023 11:31 #340969 by Msample
I didn't mean to imply the first DS9 season was bad - far from it. Many people I've read said its largely skippable, but there are an above average number of decent episodes.

I actually like the Bajoran religious arcs; in particular it introduces the recurring character of Kai Winn, one of the series better guest stars.

She's no Garak of course....
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09 Nov 2023 11:56 #340970 by Shellhead

jason10mm wrote: Enterprise I bailed on after 2 seasons but I hear season 4(?) was the standout.


I gave up on Enterprise after the first few episodes, but randomly started watching it again partway through the 4th and final season. It was a good season, especially the two-part episode involving the Mirror, Mirror universe of the original series. They showed the event that caused that divergent timeline, and the second episode even opens with a radically different intro:

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09 Nov 2023 12:22 #340971 by Jackwraith
I've always been in a weird place with Star Trek. I watched the original series as a kid in the 70s and was enthralled by Spock, so I watched every episode, multiple times, and all of the cartoon series, as well. But I never developed a real emotional attachment with it because it was all so... clean. There never seemed to be any real progression in the story and everything was secure in the Federation and most problems could be solved by the tiny devices in McCoy's hands. It always seemed like it lacked some basic tension to me, so I was far more interested in shows that seemed more like struggles for survival like the first season of Lost in Space and Space: 1999 or, even better, post-apoc style stuff like Thundarr the Barbarian. When TNG started up while I was in college, I was into it because Star Trek, but those hesitations about the original material were still there. Everything was still so clean and resolutions were so easy in hindsight. It did improve markedly in subsequent seasons with the Borg and delving into the political interaction with the Romulans, Klingons and other races ("There are four lights!") and there were a group of us that always got together to watch it. I followed along to DS9, but the latter just didn't sell me at all. I wasn't a fan of the Bajoran mysticism and found most of the cast to be fairly uninteresting, so I gave up after season 1 and didn't go back until just a few years ago. I wanted to watch the rest of the Dominion War stuff, but I didn't even make it through all of that, either. I watched a few episodes of Voyager when it started but lost interest quickly. I've only ever seen the films with the original crew, except for the Chris Pine reboot. I watched most of the first season of Discovery because of Jason Isaacs, but that didn't hook me, either.

So, the weird thing is that I know a ton of the lore and background, which is why I really like Star Trek: Ascendancy and have every expansion for it. I'd play that game constantly if I could find people to be regulars at it. But the shows were always somewhere between good and meh. I guess I just need my SF to be more grounded in "reality" moreso than the fanciful, beautiful future that is usually presented in Trek. More Alien industry than immaculate bridge sets.
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09 Nov 2023 13:03 #340974 by Shellhead

Jackwraith wrote: More Alien industry than immaculate bridge sets.


This final sentence jumped out at me. I was raised on syndicated re-runs of the original series, but felt like I was finally outgrowing Star Trek right about the time I saw Alien in the theater. It blew me away, as a complete refutation of nearly everything Star Trek. The Nostromo wasn't a bright squeaky-clean exploration ship filled with optimistic do-gooders, it was a dark, gritty workplace with a small crew of cynical workers. I loved it, and Alien is still my all-time favorite horror movie.

But I was drawn to the pub crawl and the trivia night, partly from nostalgia and partly out of recognition that Star Trek remains one of the most optimistic depictions of the future in all of entertainment. My ex and some of my friends drifted out of my life during the pandemic (nobody died but some moved away), and I have been pushing myself to get more social and make more friends this last year. And I really enjoyed the first season of Strange New Worlds, because it starts out good immediately and stays good. (Ironically, the only episode that disappointed me in the first season was the one that seemed to emulate the Alien franchise somewhat.) So it feels good to connect with such a positive and welcoming fanbase. No gatekeeping in sight, just people sharing their enthusiasm. I could use more positivity like that in my life right now.
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09 Nov 2023 14:39 #340976 by jason10mm
Watch some lower decks then. It is a RELENTLESSLY positive show, even if the main lead is basically a self-destructive mary sue. It has all the optimism that Gene wanted, minus the creepy sex stuff, and is just fun, fun, fun.

I LIKE Trek to be competence porn. These folks should be THE BEST of us, not just the malcontents shoved into a rusty hulk (hello, Stargate Universe....). I think Trek works best when tackling the BIG ideas about humanity from a universal perspective, like the little speeches Kirk and Picard often give about how struggle can be growth, humans want self-determination, pure logic isn't the answer, etc. It also works well when just showing cool weird alien stuff that doesn't have to be explained but there are interesting characters doing their best to resolve an external problem in 45 minutes to safe some settlers or whatever.

What Trek, IMHO, does BADLY, is have all the lingering hate, guilt, and oppression of our modern society lurking in the wings to pop up as a 2D bad guy in some hamfisted morality lesson. If you are gonna tackle a social issue, you gotta sand off all the edges and paint it afresh, then approach it as a novel sci-fi idea, not just a "ya'll sit down now and get yer talkin' to" lecture.

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