Category Archives: Entertainment

Mysterious Universe Season 1 Back Catalog Available

ZOMG!!

ZOMG!!

My ongoing love affair with the unknown has been bolstered once again by the Mysterious Universe podcast.

Season 2 has been a refreshing mix of the new and the old, with Benjamin Grundy returning with a new co-host, Aaron Wright.

I have been a listener since the early days of Season 1, and I’m super excited that they have again released the back catalog, this time on 8GB brushed metal USB drives.

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I Find This Scientifically…Fascinating – Mysterious Universe Returns!

Shiny

Shiny

The podcast that has been held so highly in my heart as the best podcast ever made, Mysterious Universe, has returned after a long hiatus.

There was some speculation about the return, when the website changed to show that things were ramping up, and now we’re finally being treated with brand new episodes.

So how does the new “season” of Mysterious Universe stack up to the classic?

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Mysterious Universe Returning?

Reader of Worthless Genius “sr71a” pointed out in the comments of the Requiem For A Podcast article that the Mysterious Universe site is showing new signs of life, with the tantalizing words “Undocking soon in 2009…”:

ZOMG!

ZOMG!

Entering the site presents you with a screen that allows you to sign up for updates when they are available:

No Longer in Podcast Hibernation

No Longer in "Podcast Hibernation"

Needless to say, I am super excited about this development, but there are a few questions that I have:

  • Will Benjamin Grundy be at the helm once again?
  • Will the quality be on par with what was done before?
  • Have I grown out of the content of this podcast?

I’d have to say a resounding NO to that last one.  If you were a fan of this wonderful podcast, head on over and sign up for the updates.  I know I will be happily awaiting the return!

Entertainment: Podcasts – The Linux Action Show

Linux Action Show

Linux Action Show

I wanted to touch today on a podcast that I have found immensely helpful in my search for open source bliss. The Linux Action Show is a show that has been running for a very long time. The long episode format was entertaining throughout their run of 90 episodes, and always kept me coming back for more.

As with Mysterious Universe though, all good things come to an end. Bryan and Chris will no longer be releasing episodes in a long format, although there will be a ton of new content in the future. I was seriously disappointed when I first heard the news in October, but after seeing what kind of content they can push out to a much wider audience, I have ultimately come to terms with the change.

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Entertainment: Podcasts – Planetary Radio

I haven’t updated this blog in a long while, mostly because of school and motivational issues. I’d like to get back into the swing of things, so here’s a review of one of the best podcasts out there.

The Planetary Society Logo

Planetary Radio is the Planetary Society‘s weekly radio show that is featured on NPR stations across the nation. I have been listening to this show for about a year now, through iTunes‘ podcast aggregator (which seems to run my in-car entertainment by itself). Because I don’t have the time to set aside the 20 minutes involved in listening to this fascinating material, I must get by through my iPod while driving to and from school and on errands.

I’m a huge fan of the format, as it’s easy and portable, so that I can spend the time that I take in my car in a constructive way, and excersize my brain a little instead of listening to music while turning my mind off.

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Entertainment: Games – Doom 3

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a HUGE fan of the Doom series of games. When I was in high school, id Software announced Doom 3. My friends and I were big Doomers, even hijacking the school network to play Doom during “activity period”, and were extremely excited about the prospect of facing even more hordes of demons, but this time with realistic 3d graphics. (“Does it blink?” one of my friends asked about the marine 3d model.)

Fast forward 6 years, and here I am finally playing through the game that I had anticipated with such ferver. I had come across the game sometime in 2004, but was unable to devote time to try to get through it.

A few months ago, I picked up the id Software Super Pack on Steam. Paying only $69.99 for copies of the classic games I grew up with seemed like a great deal. After all, this long period of time has seen many destroyed original CDs and degaussed floppy disks. Though I did play through Quake once more, the reason I bought the pack was to play Doom 3.

I had gone into the game with all of the good and bad reviews in mind, so I’m not so sure I wasn’t ready to be disappointed. The classic complaint is the amount of darkness in the game:

Screenshot of Doom3

After all of these years, I finally have a rig that can handle this game, so what better time to try it out? I was able to put everything up on high, with a fairly high resolution, and the gameplay was smooth.

So, I started this game all pumped up and ready for some action. Loading up the first level, I found that it really was dark. Little did I know that this was the entrance, before the s hits the f, and it was going to get a lot darker.

I’ve played through about 3.5 hours of the game, and I really feel like I don’t want to finish it. So many quiet periods, followed by a demon spawning out of nowhere behind you, and really at predictable moments. In fact, I got good at avoiding the situations altogether.

Though the story is alright, I really can’t get past the flaws in gameplay. Doom 3, in my opinion, is certainly no Half Life 2. I sincerely hope that id can bring back the fun of the original games with their recently announced Doom 4.

From a fan of the original, I can’t force myself to sit through the bastard child that is Doom 3. If you ask me, it was more of a tech demo, which should have not carried the Doom name. I will be sticking with my favorite original Doom ports, and will be awaiting Doom 4.

Entertainment: Audio Books – Sherlock Holmes

Today is a scheduled Entertainment blog day. Instead of just droning on about how I love this show or that, I’m going to change pace a bit.

Over the past year or so, I have been reading physical books as well as listening to audio books while in my car. This allows me to get through my vast “to read” library, as well as using the otherwise idle time in my car to full advantage. I’ve read quite a few books this way over the past year:

As you can plainly see, I have been using my time wisely while driving. Though most sessions are a few minutes here, a few minutes there, I am able to get through a few books in short order. This is a freedom I would never be allowed if I were to have to sit and read a physical book.

One thing that I love most about audio books is when an audio book is properly executed by a great actor. Throughout the 4 novels and 56 short stories, the same reader did an admirable job at all the voices and characters that were involved. The characters of Holmes & Watson are completely believable in their mannerisms, and it is apparent that the reader did in fact do his homework and practiced a good bit to bring such a polished narrative to my ears.

The four novels and fifty-six short stories that I heard are considered the “canon” of the Holmes adventures, written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle himself.

This massive set of adventures is truly some of the most remarkable writing I have had the pleasure to know. I am completely astounded that these works fell under my radar for so long, and only wished that I had encountered them earlier in life.

A description of Sherlock Holmes is surely not needed to anyone on the planet who enjoys novels, or even the radio and television adaptations of said novels. It is readily apparent to me that there have been so many derivative characters made from this one person, that it seems the crime novel genre has been seeded by these early works.

The only thing wrong with reading these is that I now have an even higher standard when looking for a good detective novel for listening on a long trip. There is so much drivel out there, and I’ve come across far too many audio books that I’ve listened to the first CD of, and completely abandoned it after hearing the poor writing style of the author.

I know I’ve become a snob about such things, but writing is hard. In writing my own novels, I know that it takes a lot of work, research, and dedication to produce something that is not entirely meaningless. I’m sure it’s hard to not pander to the lower intellects out there, but true writers have been doing it for years, and I see no reason to stoop to the level of the “average” American.

All diatribes aside, if you have a chance to read or listen to the vast collection of the Sherlock Holmes saga, I think you should take that chance, and you surely will not regret it. Possibly the best fiction that I have had the pleasure to know in my entire life.

Next, I will be turning my attentions to yet another set of classics:

Though I have read these in the past, it has been a very long time. I think I will enjoy these as much as anything else I have read in recent times. Expect reviews of each in the future.

Entertainment: TV Shows – True Blood

We didn’t get to go to the theatre last night, so I’m going to throw a TV Review in today.

So, my sister-in-law came to us and said that we would definitely not like True Blood. The acting was bad, the storyline was stupid, and we would just overall not enjoy watching it. In fact, she and her boyfriend laughed through out it, and could not understand why their friends enjoyed watching it.

Now, at this time, three episodes had already aired, and we had them saved on our DVR. Well, we haven’t had much free time lately for entertainment purposes, and so the episodes built up until we have five sitting and waiting for us.

My wife told me to go ahead and watch an episode and see if it was as bad as her sister claimed it to be, and whether or not I thought she (my wife) would like it. I have a good bit more free time than she, as I’m just a student, and she’s supporting our family by working full time. So, I said I’d give it a whirl.

Now, I’m a sucker for a good piece of vampire fiction. I loved Angel, read The Vampire Chronicles, and enjoyed their film adaptations to a certain extent. Also, the The X-Files always had me interested when the episodes involved the monster of the day, rather than the overall story arc of the invaders.

So, I sat down, and began watching the pilot of True Blood. True Blood takes place in a parallel reality with ours, where vampires no longer have to live in the shadows. Scientists have created a synthetic human blood replacement called True Blood. This allows vampires to live among humans, while not doing anyone harm.

Of course, this is all analogous to the freeing of the slaves, and also to the coming out of gays and lesbians in modern society. The vampires “came out of the coffin”, and are now trying to become full citizens of the US, with voting rights and an amendment to the constitution to grant them all of the freedoms that humans enjoy.

There are a few different groups of people, generally speaking, in this universe.

  1. Human vampire haters. Akin to redneck white people (most of them are, in fact, white), they hate without discrimination. Also, because vampire blood is an illegal drug, the haters tend to enjoy draining a vampire for all he is worth, in order to make a quick buck.
  2. Vampire lovers. Now this sounds strange, but I actually do mean lovers. There are people who worship the vampires, and desire to have sex with them. There are also the lovers who allow the vampires to drink from them, just for the sheer pleasure of it.
  3. Good vampires. These are the vampires who have gone “mainstream” and are no longer drinking from humans. Generally, these vampires do no harm, and are fighting for vampire rights in our communities.
  4. Bad vampires. These vampires still feed on humans, and want no part of human culture or law. They refuse to drink the synthetic blood.
  5. Plain ol’ normal folk. There are some normal humans in all of this. Some are a bit afraid of vampires, but don’t hate them. And some are quite fond of vampires, as they would be of their own human neighbors.

So, now after explaining the universe in which this takes place, let’s move on to the two main characters.

Sookie (helmed by Anna Paquin) is a telepathic twenty-something who works as a waitress in a bar. Her small family is the main set of characters in this show. She can read other people’s thoughts, but comes to find out that she cannot read vampires’ thoughts, as they are not living. Her performance is really not that bad, and this is saying a lot, as I really, really tend to think she ruins movies.

Next, we’ll touch on love interest vampire, Bill (played by Stephen Moyer). Bill is a Civil War veteran, who has returned to the small Louisiana town to reclaim his family’s property. He is a “mainstream” vampire who is facinated by Sookie, and so spends a lot of time with her. Bill is a really cool character, who just oozes charisma, as you would hope any fictional vampire would.

There are quite a few more characters involved, but these are the main two, around which the story revolves.

I am going to say that I am completely addicted to this show, and will most definitely be watching it in the future. So, if you’re looking for something to do, and you haven’t passed judgement on this show yet, check it out.