Friday, May 27, 2016

Barn owls are so silent that they don't even produce any air disturbance over the ground they soar

I saw this video on how silent a barn owl actually flies, and it's fascinating. They have such soft feathers and a huge wing span that they're virtually undetectable. To visually illustrate the point, the researchers directed the barn owl to fly over some feathers, and they don't move. Watch the video and see for yourself and have a fantastic Memorial Day weekend.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Flash just hit the reset button on the entire CW universe so we could get Flashpoint in season 3

Please don't read further if you haven't seen (but intend to watch) the Flash season 2 finale, "The Race of His Life"

Season two of the Flash ended last night with a pretty spectacular episode. This entire season (of course) has been dominated by Zoom who managed to be much scarier than Reverse Flash in season one. As far as villains go, he was a pure psychopath willing to destroy infinite Earths (and all the people on them) as a trophy to his greatness. I think that sets the bar pretty high as far as evilness goes, and I suppose its appropriate that the Speed Force got rid of him for Barry by sending out the Time Wraiths. I love that the Flash doesn't directly kill people. It says something about his unsullied character that I really like, however, it obviously means that certain villains never get their comeuppance.

It's that cliffhanger ending though that I ultimately want to talk about. First off, Barry and Iris are doomed to forever stay apart. She gave him permission to go wherever he needed to go and do whatever he needed to do to address the hollowness inside him and said she'd wait for him right there. The only thing is, she had no way of knowing that Barry would race back into time and stop Thawne from killing his mom. Barry seeing his younger self wink out of existence (in the Flash costume) is probably a good sign that the future for the entire CW universe has now been rewritten.

In Flashpoint, a limited run comic book series, the Flash essentially wakes up in a dystopian universe. Everything is kind of turned on its heel and nothing is as you'd expect. Blogger P.T. Dilloway shared with me via email that he thinks this is where the Flash may be headed, and I tend to agree. Of course Barry does have his mom alive, but his dad died (I think) of a heart attack. So there's really no version of the present in which Barry gets to keep both of his parents.

If the CW wanted to, they could make huge changes to all of the timelines. Legends of Tomorrow killed off Captain Cold so he could be back and in charge of Central City. Laurel from Arrow could be back (or some version of her) as we've already seen there's a different Earth version of her that has even more fantastical powers than the one in Arrow that got killed. Not to mention the introduction of Supergirl season two (which I think will fit nicely into the whole expanded universe thing). However, the season finale of the Legends of Tomorrow teased the formation of the Justice Society of America, so that may also be what's going on. Either way, the season finale of the Flash opens up almost endless possibilities that the CW can explore, and I think that's a good thing.

Now I've got the summer to trudge through, but at least AMC's Preacher looks very promising.

Monday, May 23, 2016

In the gut-wrenching finale of The Door I'm left to believe that Brandon Stark is probably A Game of Thrones biggest villain.

Spoiler Alert: We need to talk about last night's episode of Game of Thrones, so please don't read on if you are unprepared.

I think I just watched the best episode of Game of Thrones I've ever seen, and I know I said that about another episode this season already. However, in surpassing the books, the story has really accelerated, and there wasn't a second of wasted time in "The Door" that seemed extraneous or unnecessary. One huge reveal we got from the show was that the Children of the Forest actually created the White Walkers. I suppose the "Why?" was answered pretty well by one of the Children that participated in the ritual (someone that's obviously immortal) in that they were at war and were being killed by the Andal invaders (who had no respect for their ways and destroyed their trees). So the White Walkers were a kind of nuclear option designed to destroy the human race. It's a fascinating reveal, but it does make me wonder how they lost power over the White Walkers. I've never seen a twist quite like this in any fantasy series. It does remind me of the plot of the movie Prometheus in that the Engineers obviously created the xenomorphs (aliens) to also kill off the human race. But I'm giving George R.R. Martin the stroke of genius for coming up with that (instead of Ridley Scott) because it's obvious he thought of this decades ago.

But the gut-wrenching moment of the show was finding out that Brandon Stark destroyed Hodor's mind. With the White Walkers coming for Bran, and with him struck in a trance with the Three-Eyed Raven and experiencing a vision, he warged into a young Wyllis. When it came time to "Hold the Door" to keep the ice zombies from eating Meera and Bran, Meera kept yelling that phrase and the psychic link somehow melted Wyllis' mind for decades. I just can't get over that. Yes, it's brilliant but I think I was more disturbed by that than any of the rape scenes in the show. Guys...Bran destroyed Hodor's mind. I can't think of anything more cruel than destroying a beautiful mind. And Bran did it by forcing a young Wyllis to live the moment of his death at the hands of the White Walkers decades before it happened.

So is Brandon Stark now the biggest villain of the show? Is this child of the Starks responsible for everything that's happened in the show? The Three-Eyed Raven warned that in the pages of history the ink is already dried. But it's obvious that this isn't the case and that the past, the present, and the future are happening at the same time when it comes to Brandon Stark's power. In fact, did Bran try to use his power on Aerys (the Mad King) and drive him mad by linking his brain to the future? If so then he's been responsible for countless deaths through time. But there is one question that burns in my mind about all of this: why is the Night's King wanting to kill Bran (who is now the Three-Eyed Raven)? Is it because he feels that Bran could somehow stop him?

It's a given that the White Walkers are murdering biological weapons unleashed upon the human race for one purpose: to destroy them and use the male babies to create more White Walkers. However, the fervor by which the Night's King went after a singular individual, going so far as to dispatch many of the White Walkers and his whole army of the undead seems a bit peculiar. Why is Bran such a threat? Is it because Bran has the ability to change time? Or does he fear Bran's ability to track him and his army wherever he goes? Or maybe he just fears Bran because he knows Bran will succeed him and become the new Night's King. Yeah, I'm going with that.

Friday, May 20, 2016

My favorite mutant in the X-Men comics is Nightcrawler. Who's your favorite?

Next week we get another X-Men movie, and that's just perfect (I don't really care what the reviews are going to be either). In celebration, I'm revealing my favorite mutant. It's Nightcrawler. Here's a few tidbits about him.

He goes by the name Kurt Wagner. Nightcrawler also possesses superhuman agility, the ability to teleport, and adhesive hands and feet. He has indigo colored skin (which helps him hide in shadows), two-toed feet, and three-fingered hands. He also has yellow eyes, a prehensile tail (like a monkey), and pointy ears. His mother (in the comic books) is Mystique and his father was Azazel. He grew up in the circus.

Why do I like him? I've always thought the ability to teleport at will was just really fun. Because of that, Scorpion was my favorite Mortal Kombat character (he could also teleport around) followed closely by Raiden (who could also teleport). I even invented a secret order of assassins in my Dungeons & Dragons game who all get special powers (like mutants) and my favorite one can teleport.

So now that I've told you my favorite X-Men, do you have one? If so, name it in the comments please. You get bonus points if you tell me why you like them so much. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The cartoon comparing Michelle Obama and Melania Trump is pure garbage.

This election season has been awful. But just when I didn't think that it could get any lower, I saw this cartoon pop up on my newsfeed yesterday. I can't help but think that the ivory white followers of Trump view anyone that isn't white (like myself) in the ugliest of ways.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Girl power was all over the place in last night's Game of Thrones episode.

Girl power was all over the place in last night's Game of Thrones episode called The Book of the Stranger. So here are my assorted musings.

1) Jon and Sansa! Two Starks in the same room. Getting this family back together again has got to be crucial to whatever end game that this series has in mind. And it was wonderful to see after all the horrible things that both of them have suffered. I also loved that Sansa took charge and pushed Jon to go after Winterfell and Ramsay Bolton (I never thought someone could be worse than Joffrey but Ramsay really takes the cake). I love that Sansa is humble now and realizes how horrible the world really is and that she needs to fight for the good that's left in it. I was also really shocked that they killed off Osha. I think she deserved better, but at least she wasn't made to suffer by being flayed alive.

2) Tormund and Brienne needs to happen. I know she has this thing for Jaime Lannister (do we call it respect?) and Jaime seems to be in love (just a little bit) with Brienne. I like the politely disgusted look she gave Tormund; I sensed pure chemistry.

3) The High Sparrow really needs to die. I'm so tired of his smug expression, his platitudes about his religion, and his general terribleness when it comes to the Tyrells. However, I of course don't trust Cersei's plan. I think she's leading the Tyrell's into a trap in order to get rid of them all. Not sure how that will work out, but I wouldn't be surprised if it gets all the Tyrells snuffed out in short order. Another great house bites the dust.

4) Dany killing off all the Khals was pretty awesome. I wasn't expecting her to burn the temple of the Dosh Khaleen to the ground with everyone trapped in it (including herself). The show has not shied away from examples of her being fireproof. I like it, and I like the fact that she knows how to use it to her advantage. And now she has a khalasar to add to her army of unsullied. I wonder how she's going to view the 7-year agreement that Tyrion worked out with the slave masters?

Anyway, those are my assorted musings. What are yours?

Friday, May 13, 2016

With Supergirl moving to the CW the likelihood of a Justice League of America series just got better

Supergirl is moving to the CW for season two. This is great news. I liked watching Supergirl on CBS, but I always felt that it was out of place. It needed to be on the same network as The Flash, Arrow, and Legends of Tomorrow. And now, it's looking like there will be lots more crossovers between the series, which I think is a great stroke of fortune for the DC side of television.

The Superman mythos is pretty incredible when you actually sit down to think about it (strong enough it seems to be fertile ground for endless stories). For one, kryptonite was a great source for "monster of the week" type episodes. But the doomed planet of Krypton, and the clues that Jor-El left on Earth for Kal-El to find was a great source of entertaining story arcs in Smallville. Having those worlds kind of merge with the multiple universes of The Flash and with the Batman-esque rogue's gallery of Arrow is probably going to mean some bigger team ups. And I love team ups and shared universes, because they're lots of fun. Oh and did I mention that with Supergirl comes Martian Manhunter? I really can't wait for the inevitable Arrow, Flash, Supergirl triple crossover week. It's going to be awesome.

Now on my wishlist is a return of Wonder Woman to the small screen and a return of the Green Lantern. At that point, the CW could literally launch a Justice League of America for the small screen, which would satisfy all of my nerd buttons by punching them multiple times. I love the CW. I think it's my favorite network.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Does Thor feel out of place in the Marvel movies?

This weekend I watched Captain America: Civil War like many other Americans. Afterwards, my friends and I had a discussion about what was good and bad, and my friend Brad pointed out that he enjoyed it much more than he did the Avengers films primarily because Thor wasn't around. Wanting to know more, he basically said that his brain has a hard time reconciling Thor as a character with the other Avengers because they have such different backgrounds.

Practically everyone else in the Avengers comes from some kind of scientific background. Captain America comes from a super soldier serum. Iron Man gets his powers from a suit. Black Widow is a trained agent and the Hulk comes from a gamma ray experiment gone bad. And then you've got these "gods" which are basically mythologicals inserted into all of this, and he doesn't like it. It's kind of like guns and laser cannons being inserted into a Dungeons & Dragons of these things is not like the other.

So it made me wonder: does Thor feel out of place in the Marvel movies? I'd be curious to know your opinion on this? 

Monday, May 9, 2016

Is Tyrion Lannister of Casterly Rock in fact a Targaryen? The mystery deepens...

So the mystery of whether Jon Snow is a Targaryen gets put off for yet another week, as last night's episode of Game of Thrones offered no insight into this mystery. However, being that it's probably true (R+L=J theory), it started to make me think of why this happens to be significant. It has to do with a prophecy in A Song of Ice and Fire and with what Daenerys Targaryen saw in the House of the Undying:
"The fifth room, finally, shows a man very much alike her brother Viserys, except that he is taller and has eyes of dark indigo rather than lilac. He is speaking to a woman who is nursing a newborn babe, telling her that the child's name should be Aegon and saying that "What better name for a king?". The woman asks him if he will make a song for the child, and he replies that he has a song and that "He is the prince that was promised, and his is the song of ice and fire.". He appears to look at Dany then, as if seeing her, and then he adds that "There must be one more," and "The dragon has three heads."
So there you go. Daenerys is obviously one head of the dragon. I think that Jon Snow is the second (and so does everyone else in the world), which leaves the third for us to figure out. My bet's on it being Tyrion Lannister for two reasons: 1) Daenerys's dragons didn't kill him and 2) He's probably a Targaryen too. It looks more and more likely that Tyrion is actually the son of Aerys Targaryen after a rape or seduction of Joanna Lannister. Oy...I think the best part of Game of Thrones is actually trying to figure out what's actually going on in this story as the narrators tend to be a bit unreliable.

So what do you think? Is Tyrion Lannister the third head of the dragon? Is Tyrion Lannister of Casterly Rock in fact a Targaryen?

Monday, May 2, 2016

Melisandre makes the world right again in Home and Game of Thrones handed us one of the best episodes ever

This post is full of spoilers for last night's episode of Game of Thrones.

I think we need to talk about last night's episode of Game of Thrones, which was called "Home." Ser Davos finally voiced what I was wanting to say if I could talk to Melisandre. "Does Jon Snow have to stay that way or can you do something about it?" This pot has been simmering for many years now. The groundwork for a resurrection was laid with Ser Thoros of Myr who brought back Beric Dondarrion on six different occasions, albeit, with a caveat that each time it was done Beric lost something. And Thoros and Melisandre have something in common now: Thoros (when he performed his first resurrection) said that he didn't even believe in the Lord of Light anymore. Well Melisandre reached that point and bam, she brought Jon Snow back. I gotta say that I think it was handled perfectly in the sense that Melisandre truly seemed to have given up hope. I think that must be some kind of prerequisite to have access to powers like resurrection.

Resurrecting Jon would have been a great episode into and of itself. However the show writers of Game of Thrones gave us other gifts as well. Over in Mereen, Tyrion of all people went and freed Dany's dragons. I was worried that we were about to lose Tyrion, and I was pleased that he was right in that the dragons are intelligent and would understand what he was saying to them.

Over in Pyke, Balon Greyjoy was deposed by Yara's uncle, Euron Greyjoy. I think that's an interesting turn of events as the Greyjoys seem to have been marginalized pretty badly in the War of Five Kings. I'm not exactly sure how the Greyjoys are going to get back into the Game of Thrones, but the books have a hint: sailing to the far east to steal one of Dany's dragons with a magical horn that can control dragons.

And in Winterfell, we have Ramsay Bolton killing his father Roose Bolton and then feeding Walda Frey and her newborn baby to a bunch of dogs. This was an interesting turn of events, however, I was really surprised that Roose Bolton allowed himself to be killed by his bastard son. He was always so careful before. But it's not like he didn't deserve it.

I think the best scene of the night though belongs to the giant who burst through the gate and then killed the guy that shot him with an arrow in spectacular "squish" fashion ultimately causing all of the Night's Watch to throw down their weapons.

So now that Jon is back, I think he's no longer a part of the Night's Watch. His oaths are fulfilled now. And I think with the vision given to Bran from the three-eyed raven (played by Max Von Sydow) that we're about to see some really important revelations about Lyanna Stark. For not being a major character in the story, Lyanna is extremely important to everything that's going on (and perhaps to finally answer the question: is Jon Snow a Targaryen?) I think he most certainly is.

I can't wait until next week's episode. Sigh.

By the way, I'm taking a blog break until next Monday. Have a good week.