Monthly Archives: December 2016

Die, 2016, Die. In memes.

When the year was ending last year, it seemed like there was one prevailing opinion about how to explain 2015.

One of many memes out there commemorating this zeitgeist.

One of many memes out there commemorating this zeitgeist.

2015, the year everyone was offended by everything. Certainly in America. However, there weren’t a lot of things to point to and say they were really all that bad, and the general thought was that clearly things had just gotten out of hand and we all needed to calm down, have a more open mind, be less offended, and everything was going to be fine.

The original full comic is here: http://gunshowcomic.com/648

The original full comic is here: http://gunshowcomic.com/648

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Julia’s Best of 2016

Best Movie – Rogue One

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This was maybe the toughest decision for me. I remember starting the year excited for the plethora of good, exciting movies that I was looking forward to so much. Then the rest of 2016 happened and sadly the excitement over movies dimmed for me. I will say, this was closest between Captain America: Civil War and what I’ve decided was my favorite movie of the year, Rogue One. I went to see it again this week, and it still holds up as one of the best movies I’ve seen in a long time. It has action, it has struggle, it has humanity and hope, and is incredibly well done. Of all of the amazing movies released this year, I’d say this is the one I would most recommend and look forward to seeing again already.

TV Show New – Stranger Things

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I know Stranger Things has gotten a lot of buzz on the site and podcast recently, but for me I think what I loved about the show was how it blended so many genres in such a successful way. I was talking about Stranger Things with friends I would never expect to watch a sci-fi show, but because of its Goonies nostalgia and mystery. Netflix has been producing some amazing original content, and honestly I watched more new content from them this year rather than any of the major networks.

TV Show Old – Supernatural

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I’ve finally had the time to rewatch and try to catch up on Supernatural this year, and it fast became my favorite thing to binge. I’ve only made it to Season 5, but I still have seven more seasons to go until I’m caught up to the current – and that’s both exciting and daunting. But as far as best binge worthy show from years past, I’d say Supernatural is the one for 2016.

Music – Lisa Hannigan, ‘At Swim’

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I spent a lot of the year falling more in love with Hozier and Mumford and Sons, but my favorite album released this year was Lisa Hannigan’s At Swim. Hannigan got her start singing with Damien Rice, another of my favorites, but her solo work has been absolutely beautiful. Her newest album has possibly surpassed my love for her debut album Sea Sew, and I have spent a lot of time since its release listening to its eerie and captivating melodies.

Video Game New – Lego Dimensions

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Although technically released before 2016, we received Lego Dimensions as a present earlier this year and have quickly fallen in love with it. We struggle finding games we can actually play side by side, and the Lego games are always great choices for us. This one combines building Legos and playing video games, and honestly how can you go wrong with that? The ability to continue adding on character and level packs is fun if not dangerous; we foresee a future of buying lots of them to continue playing together.

Jeremy’s Best of 2016

Good day, everyone! Today, I’ll be providing my retrospective post for 2016, much like my fellow bloggers here at Comparative Geeks have been doing. An initial disclaimer: these are merely my opinions and are not intended to be absolute declarations of quality or worth. Also, there won’t be much “worst of” in my post, being as I tend to avoid spending money on things I don’t think I will enjoy. Let’s jump right in!

 

Prose: The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle

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I have a massive to-be-read list, so I haven’t gotten to read much actually published in 2016, but this piece stands out. The titular Black Tom is a young jazz guitarist living in 1920s Harlem who moonlights as a thief and dealer of occult items—a somewhat lucrative side gig until he crosses paths with a man attempting to wake a certain well-known elder god. If you’re a fan of modern entries in Lovecraft’s mythos, this one is not to be missed.

 

 

Movies: Star Trek Beyond & Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

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Enterprise-A concept art taken from here.

Now, I’m as much of a superhero movie fan as anyone, but my picks for this year are the latest entries in my favorite science fiction franchises since childhood. Both are well-crafted and allusion-filled stories of their respective universes, and Rogue One especially reached me as a tale of a band of damaged misfits making supreme sacrifices for a greater good.

 

 

Returning Television Series: Game of Thrones

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I’ve been a fan of this intellectual property for years, through books, television, games, and what have you. Regardless of the naysayers, I loved this past season and look forward to what comes next.

 

 

New Television Series: Westworld

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You should check out my column right here at Comparative Geeks to see my thoughts on this one. I love well-crafted science fiction about evolving artificial intelligence, and this is my favorite sci-fi show since Battlestar Galactica ended in 2009.

 

 

Returning/Ongoing Comic: Saga by Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples

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Saga returned a few months back after a brief hiatus, and Vaughan and Staples’s weird character-driven science-fantasy drama is still just as addictive. Get back on board!

 

 

New Comic: DC Comics’s Rebirth Line

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For the first time in recent memory, DC is truly giving Marvel a run for its money in the comic book market. Rebirth keeps what worked about the New 52 and reintroduces older concepts and characters established fans have been missing since 2011—the return of the original Wally West and the pre-New 52 Superman paramount among them. The new connections established with Dr. Manhattan and the Watchmen universe are also intriguing concepts that I’m eager to see play out over the next couple of years.

 

 

Video Game: Dishonored 2

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I haven’t gotten to play many new games yet (and not very much in this one so far), but I’m giving it to this dieselpunk first-person revenge/stealth sequel. I love this setting!

 

 

Music: Blue & Lonesome by the Rolling Stones & the Westworld soundtrack by Ramin Djawadi

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The Rolling Stones’s newest album blends their signature sound with the emotional resonance of the blues. It doesn’t seem like it would work, but it does so well. Also, the instrumental music of the Westworld soundtrack (composed primarily by Ramin Djawadi, of Game of Thrones and Pacific Rim fame) is a great companion for thinking and writing, especially the player piano song covers.

 

 

A Note on Loss:

2016 saw some of the most contentious and vitriolic American politics in decades, and the blame for that rests with all of us regardless of slant or belief. I can only hope things will somehow get brighter, and people wiser. And I hope we can truly stem the spread of terrorism and war across the world. Time will tell.

We have also lost a seemingly gargantuan number of well-known faces this year: Alan Rickman, David Bowie, Prince, Muhammad Ali, John Glenn, Ron Glass, Kenny Baker, George Michael, Harper Lee, Umberto Eco, now Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds, and many, many others. I’ll be glad when it all finally stops.

Thank you all for coming by and reading my thoughts. Let me know your own thoughts in the comments below. Please take care of yourselves this coming year, and keep coming back here to visit. Thanks again!

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The Nine Alignments of the Astral Chronicles

To take a bit of a break between Christmas and New Year’s, and with traveling as well! So I had the idea last week with my alignment grid… how about one of those for The Astral Chronicles? Accurate? Maybe! Spoilers? I dunno! I leave these thoughts for you… enjoy!

© DBCII

© DBCII

Westworld Reminder Recap – Episode 10: The Bicameral Mind

Good day, everyone! At long last, I want to offer up a recap of episode 10 of Westworld (“The Bicameral Mind”) that also takes into account fan theories and the questions that are still on the table. Perhaps the single most important event of the episode is the culmination of Ford’s new narrative, shown in the end to be an ambush. Despite a few red herrings, the event comes to fruition in the final minutes of the episode, opening up and tying together very nearly everything else in the episode and the season.

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Ford’s revelation of his final storyline. Image taken from IMDB.

Progressing through the other characters and looking at the oldest ongoing storyline, it is confirmed without a doubt that William is indeed the Man in Black, setting in stone as truth perhaps the most widely circulated fan theory. Though what exactly happens to Logan—tied naked to a robotic horse and sent careening off into the hills at the edge of the park—is a mystery left to further episodes. There is a risk that the horse became a running bomb when it neared the true limit of the park, but it did not appear to be William’s goal to murder Logan, only to shame him and cast doubt on his sanity.

William’s descent into hatefulness and malice, his pursuit of the Maze, and his turning to the black hat way all come down to his Siegfriedian pursuit of Dolores, and when he finally finds her again back in Sweetwater, her memory erased. With the woman he fell in love with in the park effectively dead, William turns inward and wholeheartedly pursues the Maze—what he sees as a secret storyline that can provide him a purpose and excuse for his existence. In the end, the Maze was never meant for him; rather, it was a way for the hosts to achieve sentience and freedom.

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Dolores finds herself… selves… Wyatt? The heart of the Maze. Image taken from IMDB.

Moving from William/the Man in Black to Dolores, hers is the story—and hers are the actions—that climax the season. It is revealed (again confirming an off-the-wall fan theory) that Dolores is actually (in a way) Wyatt, being as Arnold uploaded Wyatt to be a backup personality for Dolores in the event she needs to become a killer. We are finally shown the event that nearly destroyed Westworld 35 years earlier as Dolores/Wyatt and Teddy massacre all the other hosts and Dolores executes Arnold, an action Arnold himself commanded her to perform in the hopes it would prevent the park from opening and give the hosts a chance to prove to Ford that they are effectively alive and capable of changing and violating their core programming. These events repeat themselves when Dolores/Wyatt (with the secondary personality fully re-emerged) apparently executes Ford before the Delos board of executives and then leads the other hosts in a massacre of the board members. That said, it is unclear if some of them may escape the slaughter.

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Dolores executes Ford. Or does she? Image taken from IMDB.

As has been the case for most of the season, Maeve’s story progresses independently throughout this episode as everything else is happening elsewhere. As she sets her escape plan into motion, Maeve takes Lutz with her for help as she fully activates Hector and Armistice as Terminator-esque murder machines set upon the Delos guards as a distraction. Maeve also tries to reactivate poor Clementine, but there is nothing left of her. In the process, however, she and Lutz discover the damaged Bernard and repair him, requiring his skills and knowledge of the park’s administrative systems. This leads to the revelation that Arnold programmed Maeve long ago to enact a story loop called “The Escape,” casting doubt upon her own agency up to this point.

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Maeve learns a hard truth from Bernard. Image taken from IMDB.

The culmination of the manifold storylines of Westworld season 1 leaves us with a plethora of questions:

  • Is Ford really dead? Could this have been a host version of him? After all, we never found out who he was making in his secret lab.
  • Did Charlotte and William survive the ambush?
  • Do you think we’ll see Armistice again after her mid-credits scene?
  • Do you think that Maeve’s last-minute decision to leave the train to find her long lost daughter was her own, or a part of her escape loop programming?
  • How many guests do you think are left in Westworld? What’s happening to them?
  • With the revelation of Samurai/Shogun/Sengokuworld, how many other parks are there? The old Westworld film also contained Roman and Medieval European parks, after all.
  • Where the hell is Elsie? We were never truly shown her death onscreen.
  • What are your thoughts on all of this? What are you looking forward to next season? What questions did I overlook here?

Here’s to making it to 2018 to see season 2, everyone! Keep coming back for more fun Westworld content here from me to keep the love alive. Thanks for sticking with me this far! Please do engage and carry on the conversation in the comments below.

 

Bonus: Here’s Armistice’s extra mid-credits scene in case you missed it when watching the episode.