July 12th, 2008

Zod

A Bit of A Catch-Up Post

I had my annual review on Wednesday.  It was OK.  Not great, not bad, right in the center of the "Meets Expectations" zone.  Which I basically expected.  I feel like I had some moments of glory, but I still haven't taken the MCSA tests and a lot of my time this year was spent keeping things running rather than moving us forward in any significant way.  So yeah, I expected it to be very average.  I've got some attainable goals for the next twelve months, so I don't feel bad about it.

Inspired by a post from bobmungovan, I decided to try and get in touch with an old friend.  B was my best friend in high school and for a couple of years after, until he moved to Arizona in 83 or so.  Even after that, we managed to stay in touch for the next decade or so and he was Best Man at our wedding.  He came through Houston to visit a few years ago, and after that, we kind of lost touch in that way that adults with busy lives who have other things going on tend to do.  Still, with our 15th anniversary coming up, he's been on my mind lately, so I decided to see if I could find him online.  Turns out his online footprint is almost as trackable as mine, so it wasn't too hard.  We've traded a few short emails with a long catch-up promised.  So, yay for that.

Last night, Jane and I saw the new Hellboy flick.  Damn.  That was freakin' amazing.  It hit all of my sweet spots and gave Jane the Willies something fierce.  I really can't say enough positive about this film.  It kicked the first one's ass (and I love the first one).  It was one of the best sequel films I've seen in that it wasted no time getting the viewer up to speed.  You either knew the premise of the film and the basics of the characters or you didn't and you'd better catch up fast.

I think that for me, some of the joy in the Hellboy franchise is my near-total lack of familiarity with the comics.  I've read a handful of stories, and I know there are tons of graphic novels and collected trades out there, but I can never get a straight answer on what I should read or in what order I should read them.  So almost all of my exposure to it has been through word of mouth, the two live action films and the two animated films.  As a result, each film is a revelation and that sense of discovery, coupled with Del Toro's amazing gift for visualizing the unimaginable makes this one a treat.

And Nuada and Nuala are the best cinematic elfs I have ever seen.  Damn, they were terrible to behold.

When we got home, I finished Stephen Brust's newest Vlad Taltos novel, Jhegaala. It's a flashback story, from earlier in Vlad's flight from the Jhereg than Athyra, and is interesting in that it features no on-screen Dragaerans.  It's set entirely in the East and pits Vlad against a human population he understands far less than he expects.  It's convoluted and noir-ish as usual, but it felt more substantial than Dzur (which I liked a great deal all the same).  Ultimately, I read Brust for the journey, not the destination, and I got my money's worth on that front as usual.

Finally, I'm in the process of reading D&D 4th edition from cover to cover.  While I'm still not sold on it, I want to be as fair as possible, and I realized that a couple of playtests, a general scan, and reading enough information to get a character built probably doesn't constitute an entirely fair shake.  I still don't like the lack of the toolkit approach to character building, which leaves things a bit generic and cookie-cutter for my tastes, but I'm also trying to find interesting things I CAN do with the system.

And that's about it as updates go.