April 27, 2013

Great TV Shows

Posted in General at 8:06 pm by Transmuter

Over the last few years I’ve had the pleasure of watching several excellent television shows (though mostly on Netflix, etc.). I’d like to talk about some of my favorites here, in no particular order.

Avatar: the Last Airbender

This animated series has a great story, good voice acting, excellent martial arts choreography, and does a great job mixing humor, action, adventure, and drama. I strongly recommend it to anyone who is interested in any of those aspects. I haven’t yet seen the sequel, “The Legend of Korra”, but I am excited to.

Futurama

Back when this show first came out I was a big Simpsons fan. However, I wasn’t as taken with Futurama, despite it having a similar art style and humor, as well as a sci-fi theme, so I never bothered watching it much. Fast forward to about a year ago, and I started watching the show again on Netflix. It was great! I guess the show just resonates better with my current phase of life than it did for me as a teen. My brother mentioned he felt the same. I don’t really have anything specific to mention about the show, just that I enjoy the unexpected jokes, non-sequitors, and slapstick humor the program delivers.

Doctor Who

This show took me a few episodes (of the new series) to really get fully invested, but once I did I was in for a fantastic ride. All three modern incarnations of the Doctor have been great, in different ways. The shows have been interesting, funny, and occasionally scary. The quality of each episode can vary, but I still consider myself a fan of the series. I have to go on record that the Tenth Doctor, played by David Tennant, is my personal favorite incarnation of the Doctor, though Matt Smith as the Eleventh and Christopher Eccleston as the Ninth are also both very good.

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic

No, I don’t consider myself a “brony”. I had heard good things about the show, and since it was on Netflix my little girls started watching it. Curious, I watched it with them and was pleasantly surprised to see that it was significantly better than the My Little Pony cartoon my sister used to watch as a kid. The show has definite slapstick elements inspired by the old Looney Toons cartoon, it has great songs (certainly not the cheesy junk found on other shows my girls watch like Strawberry Shortcake), and most episodes illustrate some positive value while somehow avoiding delivering it in a heavy-handed way. I enjoy the mythological flavor of the various creatures that inhabit the world – chimeras, dragons, pegasi, hydras, and so on; they were things I thought were cool as a kid when I read about Greek mythology and played D&D. Overall, I recommend the show to anyone with younger kids (my 3-year-old son likes the show as much as his older sisters). You definitely won’t go crazy having them watch this kids’ show (until they listen to one of the songs on repeat 20 times in a row).

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April 11, 2013

So Many Games!

Posted in Board Games, Games, Role-Playing Games, Video/Computer Games at 9:18 pm by Transmuter

I have played a lot of games over the past four years, so I’ll just cover the highlights.

Role Playing Games

Right after we moved to St. George I tried to keep up with my California D&D group by playing over the internet, but it just didn’t work out for me. A year later, after we moved into our house we met some people in the area that were interested in RPGs and board games, so we formed a group. We played D&D 4th edition for several months, then I discovered Swashbucklers of the 7 Skies, which really caught my imagination. After the D&D campaign died due to lack of interest I decided to run a short S7S campaign, and everyone involved in the 4-episode adventure really enjoyed it. Unfortunately shortly after that two of our group moved to Alaska, where they lived for a year before moving back.

Board Games

Since the RPG group broke up I started getting into board games more, facilitated by the fantastic BoardGameGeek website. I found a few other people in my neighborhood who enjoy board games and play with them whenever we can find the time. I learned how to play Battletech by playing it on the computer via MegaMek. I played board games online at Yucata.de. Recently a primarily board game focused store opened up in town – Game Haven. I found out about and started attending the Saint George Area Board Game Group, which meets weekly at a local library.

PC Games

So shortly before the Cataclysm expansion for World of Warcraft came out I started getting pretty tired of the game. I got the expansion and played it for about a month before dropping WoW for good. I haven’t even touched the game since the Mists of Pandaria expansion came out.

So years ago I posted how I really disliked the Lord of the Rings Online, but every few months Turbine did a free weekend for returning players. After playing the game a few more times courtesy of these free weekends I really started warming up to the game, so much so that I ended up buying the first expansion, then the next, and then the game went Free-to-Play. I got my father-in-law and most of his sons into the game, and I bought the third expansion, but unfortunately started petering out on MMOs in general. At some point during this my wife and I got Star Wars: the Old Republic MMO, which was pretty awesome for a while, but rapidly lost interest and had zero interest in playing once it too went Free-to-Play. I played Age of Empires Online for a while – I was even in the beta – but haven’t played it much recently. My latest favorite is Mechwarrior Online, a team-based Free-to-Play online game based on the old Mechwarrior games, which themselves were based on the Battletech board game. MWO is really great, and I love the strategy of choosing your ‘mech and its weapon loadout and the tactics of helping your team achieve the battle’s objectives.

As far as single-player games go, here is a list of some of my favorites I’ve played in the last four years (in no particular order): Minecraft, Assassin’s Creed (I, II, Brotherhood, Revelations), Batman: Arkham Asylum / Arkham City, Sonic Generations, LEGO Lord of the Rings, FTL, Sins of a Solar Empire, Terraria, Mass Effect (1, 2, 3), Civilization V, Half Minute Hero, Cthulhu Saves the World, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Greed Corp, and Atom Zombie Smasher.

April 3, 2013

What’s “New” in My Family

Posted in Family at 7:53 pm by Transmuter

So, here’s a quick overview of the major changes that have happened in my life since August 2009:

  • Darien, my third child and first son, was born. He is now three years old, and an adorable terror of a child. He’s super loving and tender, but also stubborn and independent.
  • We bought a house! Yes, soon after Darien was born we moved into our first owned home.
  • We got a new car. My father-in-law traded us his CNG-powered sedan for our Jimmy.
  • Kyla is now in first grade. Crazy! She loves reading; according to testing she is reading at a 4th grade level.
  • I got a new job. I am now working for a small software company as a combination pre-sales engineer and IT manager. It’s far busier than my last job, but I’m learning a lot and really enjoying it.

I think those are the main things. For far more detail, visit my wife’s blog. She’s been much more consistent at blogging than I have.

The Hiatus is Over!

Posted in General at 7:13 am by Transmuter

Hello to anyone who still has this blog on one of their blog aggregators (I’m sure nobody actually visits it manually anymore)! After a hiatus of 3-4 years I’m finally back! With luck, and a little willpower, I’ll be posting regularly to this blog again.

In my next post I plan to detail some of the major changes that have taken place in my life since my last post, so stay tuned!