Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Steve's Geek Primer #1: Star Wars (Original Trilogy)

A quick note: I decided to do some Geek Primers after talking to a buddy of mine in one of my game groups who really has little-to-no grasp on geek culture, terms, references and in-jokes. So, this is for you, Ryan! Oh, and anyone else it can help. Please keep in mind that these entries are by no means exhaustive; and if you need more information, please look up stuff in the Wikipedia and the Wookieepedia, where you will find a mind-boggling array of data regarding these things. Enjoy!

File:Star Wars Logo.svg

What You Need To Know...

Star Wars is one of the biggest, if not THE biggest, Fantasy / Science Fiction franchises ever to exist. In fact, one could argue that after Star Wars showed up in theaters in 1977, the kids brought up around those times were the first generation to be exposed to massive cross-marketing involving toys, books, comic books, bed-sheets, knick-knacks and a wild assortment of other things. Basically not much tops Star Wars with most geeks. Unless it’s Star Trek, but that’s another story.

There are six films, three of which were released between 1977 and 1983. Those three, in order, are Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Later, much later, three prequels were made… but we don’t really need to get into all that.


The gist of Star Wars is simple: Farm Boy Luke Skywalker discovers he has a destiny and does good by changing the Galaxy, making lots of awesome friends and becoming a bad-ass Jedi Knight along the way. Keep in mind that this all takes place long ago in a far, faraway place, so it’s not exactly futuristic or whatever. But if it helps, you can think of it as futuristic since there’re space ships, faster-than-light travel, laser guns, jet-packs, aliens and all sorts of other cool stuff. It’s also very pulpy—if you know what “pulp” is.

File:Ben Kenobi.jpg

Anyways, Luke teams up with two robots (called droids) named C-3PO and R2-D2 on a quest to save Princess Leia, along with an old mentor dude named Obiwan Kenobi. This old dude is a Jedi, a near-extinct form of mystical space knight who fight with these laser swords called “lightsabers”. Before they jet off to the cosmos they are joined by a shifty-but-likable smuggler, Han Solo, and Han’s large, furry pal and co-pilot, Chewbacca. Eventually they find Princess Leia on a large planet-like space station called the Death Star, save her, leave, come back with the Rebel Alliance (who are fighting the evil Empire) and destroy said Death Star. Kenobi is killed at some point and his spirit remains to guide Luke through the young man’s trials and travails. All of this leads to the two other films in the Original Trilogy which leads to all kinds of adventure, Luke becoming a Jedi, and shocking Skywalker family revelations.

While nearly all Star Wars fans will think the above is quite a crappy summation, people who have never seen Star Wars before and know nothing about it should get a good idea of what’s going on. I won't even go into the Expanded Universe, either. It'll get terribly confusing if I even mention the Star Wars comics...

Here are some bullet points ( which look like dashes and are in no particular order) to help the non-Fan get on with Fans, should they hear some Star Wars lingo and references dropped.

- “That’s no moon.” This is what Obiwan Kenobi says when they are first made aware of the Death Star. Star Wars fans like to say this when something is revealed to be not what it seems.

- “It’s a trap!” What fish-guy lookin’ Admiral Ackbar exclaims in the third film, Return of the Jedi, when the Rebel Alliance attacks the Second Death Star. This quote is used often, and can even be seen on t-shirts, as well as all over the Internet.


- “I love you.” “I know.” What Leia and Han say to each other (respectively) before Han Solo is frozen is a substance known as “carbonite” in the second film, Empire Strikes Back. Star Wars fans consider this the height of romance and a neat fact is that Harrison Ford (who plays Solo) ad-libbed the line… at least as far I know.

- Hyperspace: What happens when spaceships in Star Wars travel at faster-than-light speeds. The famous effect seen resulting from hyperspace travel is the stars streaking, making everything look very, very fast.

- “I’ve got a bad feeling about this.” A line said throughout all six films. It’s like “I’ll be back” with the Terminator movies. Fans love it.

- Jabba the Hutt: A disgustingly large slug-like alien who’s an interstellar (read: across large tracts of the galaxy/space) crime lord. Nowadays many use it as a derogatory way to describe obese persons.


- Slave Leia: When Princess Leia is held captive by Jabba the Hutt, she is forced to dress in a skimpy outfit. Ever since, many lovely young ladies dress as “Slave Leia” at conventions (read: large geek gatherings celebrating games, comics, movies, etc).

- “Use the Force.” “May the Force be with you.” Common lines throughout the Star Wars movie series. The Jedi knights use a mystical life-energy called The Force. Fans love it, naturally.

- Stormtroopers: The white-armoured, freaky looking shock troopers of the evil Empire. They hark back to Nazi Stormtroopers in a way, but are more like space goons who can’t shoot straight. Because of Star Wars, when people say “stormtrooper” they usually mean Imperial Stormtroopers from Star Wars—not their various historical counterparts. Stormtroopers are a crowd pleaser at many a convention. Put simply, Fans love to dress up as these guys.

Imperial Stormtrooper 01.jpg

- AT-AT: Probably pronounced as it looks (“at-at”), though some people say “A-T-A-T”. These are the four-legged Imperial Walkers that assault the ice planet Hoth in Empire Strikes Back. Fans love to use them as examples for things.

- Wookiee: The alien race Chewbacca belongs to. They are very tall, largely built and covered in fur. Fans will refer to very hairy people as “wookiees” or “as hairy as a wookiee” and so on.

- Ewok: Short, furry humanoids from the forest moon of Endor, who appear in Return of the Jedi. Many, more cynical fans feel they ruined the Star Wars franchise, but that’s neither here nor there for the purposes of this bit. The primitive Ewoks serve as an example of tenacity over technology when they help defeat the Empire at the Battle for Endor. Oh, sorry, mild spoiler. Well, the good guys win… not really a surprise, I suppose.

- Darth Vader: The Big Bad Guy of the Original Trilogy. He’s tall, imposing, has black armour and wears a cool cape. He’s as evil-looking as evil looking bad guys get in the Space Fantasy genre. He known for his deep, scary voice (thanks, James Earl Jones) and the breathing noises his cyborg (man + machine) respiratory system makes.


- “No!! That’s impossible!!” [Major Spoiler here, just so you know.] This is the line Luke belts out when he discovers Darth Vader is his father in Empire Strikes Back. Fans enjoy saying this when stuff happens, both good and bad.

- Boba Fett: The Manadlorian (not really alien; just a different kind of human person) bounty hunter who is sent after Han Solo. While he was barely in the movies, he is easily the favourite character of a large percentage of Fans—myself included. He has wrist rockets and a f-ing cool jetpack.


- “No disintegrations!” What Darth Vader says to Boba Fett (and some other bounty hunters) in Empire Strikes Back. A popular quote.

- Lando Calrissian: One of the only non-white human characters in the Original Trilogy, Lando is an old smuggler buddy of Han Solo’s who has this place called Cloud City. Lando betrays Han to Darth Vader in Empire Strike Back to save his people, and even though it was the right thing to do, being called a “Lando” is still one of the worst insults one can level at someone. You may be pleased to know that Lando then spends the rest of the Trilogy trying to save Han and the Rebel Alliance.


- “Never tell me the odds.” Han says this to C-3PO before going into a dense asteroid field (read: a lot of large rocks clustered together in space). Also a terrifically popular Fans quote.

- Millennium Falcon: The way, way cool near-circular spaceship Han and Chewie (Chewbacca’s nickname) zip around space in. It’s one of the most recognizable items from Star Wars overall, and everyone who loved Star Wars as a kid wanted the toy. “I covet that almost as much as I do my Millennium Falcon” is something I’ve said before. In my 30s.

File:Millennium Falcon.jpg

- John Williams: The guy who composed the Star Wars soundtrack, which even a lotta Non-Fans will recognise when they hear it.

- George Lucas: The man who made it all happen. Star Wars is his big, big baby. Fans both love and hate him.

- "Han shot first." This is not a line from the movies, but rather something fans say so often that it has appeared on t-shirts, mugs and all sorts of other sundries. You see, in Star Wars, Han Solo is confronted by bounty hunter Greedo (looking to turn his sorry hide in to Jabba the Hutt) and before Greedo can shoot Han, Hano Solo blasts the poor, nasty green alien into an early grave. Later, George Lucas re-released the films and added a bunch of stuff, including Greedo shooting first-- ostensibly to make Han look more like a hero than an anti-hero. Thus, "Han shot first". It should go without saying this is one of the big reasons why many a Fan dislikes Lucas nowadays.

There really is an enormous amount of things I could bullet point, talk about, or do interpretive dance about concerning Star Wars. However, I think this entry is daunting enough as it is for a Non-Fan… right? If you want to add more, be my guest and fire away in the comments.

Images pulled from Wikipedia


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Friday, May 28, 2010

I was watching...

Dead Space: Downfall

Now, I haven't played the video game yet-- but it seems like something up my undead & space alien loving alley. But I did manage to get a hold of this DVD and I figured "What the heck... should be worth a laugh..."

Instead of a laugh I was treated to around 1 hour and fifteen minutes of fun. More on this prequel to the Dead Space game can be found HERE. Yeah, I'm totally lazy. Live with it.

In short... Ready? Right. In short, space Scientologists get a really cool artefact from a dead world and try to take to Earth in a big spaceship, which gets overrun by these ghoulish horrible monsters that horribly take over people's bodies (and... souls?) and turn them into hideous monsters called Necromorphs.

Pretty fucking neat, in other words.

Note: Commentary on the screen cap images is below the particular image. Just so you know, aight?

Overall, I really dug it. Despite what some naysayers said, I feel that the animation and voice-acting were quite passable, and the script written by comic book greats Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray was pretty awesome. And awesomely violent. I suppose I should point out at this point that if images of graphic violence bother you-- stop reading RIGHT NOW. Thanks. I have a bunch of screen caps that aren't in any particular order and give no spoilers really. Take the one above... this was a really creepy part. Hats off to the crew for succeeding in creeping me out there.

Ahh... sunbathing for the above fellow was never the same again.

Sunbathing or not, motherfucker needs to die.

Yes, there's a shower scene! And it was quite special. I made sure to edit this shot for the families out there. You're welcome.

There were some great shots in this animated film, and here's one of them. Subtle, yet incredibly effective.

Door to door sales will not be tolerated. Just ask these Necromorphs. They'll tell you so.

Yea, verily, tis a draw-dropping-- er, ripping experience!

Dear WaltargetMart: Please sell these bad-ass laser chaisaw thingies. I'll take six.

Now in CreatureVision!

Yeah, I really liked primary protagonist, Alissa Vincent.

Do you SEE what those laser chainsaw thingies can do??? There has to be one available on Amazon, right?

AHHHHHH! HOLY SHIT NECROBABYMORPHS!!! Nightmares for the week achievement: Unlocked.

Because I simply can't help it-- HEEEEERE'S JOHNNY... and JIMMY!!! Really, this film had some seriously great moments.

Overall, it slays about 3 of the 5 party members in the group, and severely injures one other, possibly even inflicting some weeping level-loss. If you like 1) sci-fi, 2) horror and 3) gratuitous violence then 4) you'll really like this.

Verdict: Watch it. You should enjoy it.

I should read and post my thoughts of the Dead Space comic books, which bridges the gap between video game and movie.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Today's Game...

...was a few rounds of Magic: The Gathering with my roommate. Of course, he totally schooled me hard, since I haven't played since I played Magic with my ex-wife about a year ago.

Quick aside: We bought Magic theme decks to play with each other so we'd have things to do and keep the marriage fresh. Jeez, thanks a whole helluva lot, Magic. But seriously, now I have a whole stack of theme decks and better company to play them with. Victory!

Anyways, the roomie and I played a few hands and I got introduced to the Planechase variation of M:tG. Sadly for my roomie, by that point I was tired of playing. Still, I look forward to tooling around with it more in the future!

Depressingly, I won one of the four games. Each time (minus the Planechase game) I played with my Coldsnap Snowscape black and blue deck, while Knoll (my roomie) played the Morningtide Battalion white and blue; Shamanism white, black and green; and Going Rogue blue and black decks. As I said, Knoll handed my ass to me-- except for the time when my magical undead minions triumphed! And it was only really due to me drawing my Rimefeather Owl... I mean, just look at this sucker:

Okay, sure, I got lucky and drew him every game... But I wasn't able to use him to any damn good effect until the third game in, where I came back from the almost-dead to take Knoll (who was at 20 hit points, mind) out in one shot. My Rimewind Taskmages and Storm Elemental helped out a lot on that furious assault, as well. So, really, aside from my one Zombie Musher, my undead minions did next-to-dick.

By the way: The Zombie Musher may one of the best cards evar...

Does he (or she) rule or what?

All in all, a fun time was had. My thanks to Knoll for taking it easy on my dense ass.

While I don't play M:tG all that often, I would love to make a super-killer-awesome undead deck. It doesn't have to be a Winner Deck, either-- I just love playing a cool deck full of dead things. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

Currently Reading...

Midnighter: Anthem (trade paperback)

With Keith Giffen and Brian K. Vaughn writing and Chris Sprouse, Darick Robertson and others on art.

So far, so good! This gorgeously written and illustrated trade is totally recommended. Midnighter is one of the best vigilante heroes out there.

Do yourself a favour and pick this up. Action, violence and political satire that reads great! Now, back to reading...

Storye Tyme: The Rage of Ognark

Who knows if this will be a regular feature? Who the heck knows?? But I figure I could start spewing things and maybe, just maybe you'll be entertained. Or annoyed. Maybe more of the latter.

Ognark viewed the scene before him. Carnage. Absolute carnage. Ognark thought of what he had to do to survive, he thought of his family and friends-- he thought of home. But not his home, nor his friends, nor his family could help him. No, all they would be is a carnage ridden mess if they'd been there. Ognark Thistlespoon let loose a low whistle. He was actually rather impressed with himself. Normally, it was unfortunate tavern patrons across the land of Evarmoore who would fall to his mighty blade, wielded by his mighty arms which ended in mighty fists. Normally, there would be a maiden or two left over-- bar wenches, perhaps-- who would yell things like "ra-pree-shus swine!" at him, expecting a child of The Waystes to understand any of that nonsense. But this time... this time was different. What was different? Ognark thought for a moment. Well, for one thing, the gentlemen at his feet had been killed with one of those stick things that held up a kiosk awning thing. Ognark had not expected some random fellow in the Market Plaza to be so daft-- or was it deft?-- at removing his mighty blade from his mighty fists. That fellow probably didn't expect the blade to instantly kill a near-by mule, but Ognark was digressing a bit. He was then distracted by the cobblestones and how all the blood--so much blood!-- flowed between them. The mighty bipedal mass of meat thought again. How many people had he killed? He tried counting a few times. One, two, three... fifteen, sixteen... twenty, twenty-one?-- it had to be scores. Ognark had trouble counting past the twenties, anyway. He didn't know what a score was, exactly, or how many victims that could represent, but Ognark was quite sure scores of foes littered the plaza. At this moment, the morsose silence was abrubtly shattered.

"Hoy! What is the Seven Hells has happened here? By Flurgstein's enormous balls, this is madness!! You! You there! What has transpired here?"

Ognark saw a man dressed in what he believed to be the city colours yelling to him. The man had black hair, dark eyes and lots of black facial hair. Ognark quit noticing him, because unless he was slaying him or loving him, he cared not for trivial detail.

"Trans... pired?" Ognark let the words flow slowly from his mighty jaws, "I don't think weather has much to do with this, friend."

The man screwed his face into an expression of sincere confusion. "WHAT? Who are you, sir? From where do you hail? And what manner of creature was responsible for this slaughter?"

Ognark took in a deep breath. He then spied another dead body, this one covered in pieces of various fruits. Ah, that's right, he mulled, he had killed that particular fellow with the contents of a fruit cart.

His voice now a proud growl, Ognark spoke. "I would be that port-icular manner of creature, sirrah. 'Tis me who purpose-trated this righteous fury."

The man looked ill. He seemed to be trying to catch his breath.

Ognark continued. "I pray fear you are next, for Ognark Thistlespoon of Yonder Waystes can suffer no fool... uh, fool."

The man whimpered. "But... but why?"

"Prices, really," Ognark huffed, moving his long, jet black hair from his mighty face with a mighty hand, "Now be a nice lad and fetch me axe. It's over there... in that rather portly man's chest."

To be... continued?

Bringing it all back...

I've always wanted to be a necromancer. You know, someone who can raise and control the dead. So, I dunno about control, per se, but I do think it's safe to state that this blog has been necro-ed. Huzzah...?


Anyhoo, expect more soon, I 'spose.