Review – Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Nikki and I have finally caught up on the second season of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Several of the episodes on our DVR were rendered unwatchable by digital interference, but it was available to stream on Netflix, so we watched it there, instead.

I’m going to do my best to review the season without spoilers. Why? I hate spoilers, that’s why.

If I had to sum this series up in one word, I’d choose tension. It showed up in all kinds of varieties: interpersonal, world-ending, engineered, sexual, and my favorite – inner conflict. Lots of doubt, lots of misleading, a healthy dose of misunderstanding, plenty of preconceptions, and one notable case of overreaction to fear.

Strike that, there’s a lot of overreacting to fear.

The characters hurt each other more than they ever have. I wondered, at times, if there was a team left to save.

If I had to pick a second word, I’d pick triumph. S.H.I.E.L.D. succeeds in so many places where they could have failed, making some major headway. The writers timed it well; just when things were about to get overwhelmingly bad, the characters Got Shit Done.

While this season was missing a lot of the team cohesion that took so achingly long to build in the first season, I give it an unabashed thumbs-up. Now I ahve to wait until late September for season three.

Ah, well. I am happy to comply.

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Nerd Links

First, let’s talk about Pocket.  I mentioned it last week in my gushing about my Kobo Aura, and it deserves some explanation.  Pocket is a free service (with a premium tier) that receives URLs, and saves them for you to read later.  Doesn’t seem like a big deal on the surface, right?  How many browser tabs do you have open with stuff to read later?  How many times have you lost all of that in a browser crash?  How many times would you rather read that article on an eink screen instead of a backlit one?

For me, the answer to those questions is “lots,” “too many,” and “often,” in that order.  I found out about the service when I got my Aura, and sent a few tech articles, blog entries, and Tor short fiction pieces to Pocket.  I synced Pocket on the reader, pulled up an article, read it, and then immediately sent the rest of my open tabs to Pocket.

My browser crashes less, I enjoy reading articles, blogs, and short fiction more, and Pocket handles the varying queue like a damn champ.  You can also read from your phone (online or offline), tablet, and I think a Kindle model or two.

Next is Gravity Ghost.  From the game’s site:

Gravity Ghost is a game to soothe your senses. There’s no killing. No dying. No way to fail. Just hours of blissing out to buttery-smooth gravity goodness.

Featuring a dynamic new soundtrack from the composer of FTL: Faster than Light, Gravity Ghost is a headfirst dive into another world.

The elements of the game play with gravity, and the elements of the world tell a story of a passed-away girl and the animal spirits that are seeking to restore balance to this universe.  This is the kind of gaming ingenuity and storytelling that makes me squee.  Thanks to Jesse Cox’s Indie Weekend series for a peek at this one!

My Summer Vacation

Two years ago, I was able to get away from Lansing and take my family to a house in Caseville, MI on Lake Huron. It was amazing, it was relaxing, and it was just what I needed. I wrote two posts about it:

Last month, we had the opportunity to go back to this amazing little beach house – Better at the Beach. It was just as perfect. Well, almost. The polar vortex was going to drive summer temperatures down for just two days that week – the days we would be vacationing. We couldn’t swim, we couldn’t have bonfires at night, but that didn’t stop us from having fun.

Dad had procured a growler of locally brewed beer from Thumb Brewery; I’m told it was delicious. My brother and his fiancee arrived, and flew a training kite for kite surfing to the cheers of the kids inside. Steve and Jo of Pumpkinfest fame came by with good food and great company.

The next day, the wind had died down enough for the kids to fly the kites Dad had gotten them. I don’t need to mention how jealous I was of Aidan’s kite (above), but I didn’t need to, because he shared. When it came time for the kids to have quiet time, Nikki, Killian, and I were kicked out of the house to do some shopping, just like two years earlier.

This year, we toured more places than last. Cottage Outfitters had an extensive selection of things made in Michigan and in Caseville. The upstairs was a gallery of restored, found, and modified furniture. Nikki very nearly picked up a beautiful small table made of woven branches, but it was not to be.

We’d stopped by Caseville Gifts & Books two years earlier, and had picked up some treasures from their enormous selection of used books. We snagged even more this year, along with some for the kids. Killian bought the first Caramon and Raistlin trilogy from the old Dragonlance books, and finished it in a few days. Geek points!

Of course, we couldn’t miss Brew Moon. Because coffee. And macaroons. And no-bake cookies. And coffee.

When it was time to go, we swung by Lefty’s Diner & Drive-In for lunch. This place is FUN. The foot-long coney dog gave me pause, and the jalapeno burger made Killian sweat. If I remember correctly, breakfast there two years earlier had been just as fun.

If you get a chance to go, I recommend it. So do my kids!

More photographic evidence here.

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Nerd Links

Surviving Serial Fiction

Computer Geekery

  • Hunter’s computer died, and Aidan needs one.  So I bought these and these.
  • PowerPC Access – Looking forward to putting some of these tips to good use, especially this one.

Nerd Links

Here’s a quick list of linky-links for stuff I like. Today’s focus: TV.

  • Eureka – OMGTHISSHOWSQUEEEE and then the last episode happened. All set to mirror the ending of the series in the fictional universe, and then BAM! Nevermind, everything’s back to normal! No, not normal, better than normal. I loved this series so much that I very nearly nerdraged about the last episode.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space 9 – Tread where no Star Trek writer had gone before! Into a linear story line with religious overtones, focused on a single solar system! While many nods were taken from Babylon 5, this is still my favorite Trek. Only one complaint: why did the battle scenes make it look like the ships had no shields? Ablative armor is all well and good, but they keep talking about the shields. Everybody’s still got shields. Where are the shields?
  • Wolverine and the X-Men – I really dig the new take on good characters, but only one season? C’mon! Gone the way of Firefly and Tron: Uprising and countless other pieces of serial fiction, cut down before their prime!
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Review: Redshirts

Redshirts
Redshirts by John Scalzi
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This one had a frantic pace that kept me turning the page as the main character actively sought out the source of the strangeness going on aboard his spaceship.

I’ve deleted four sentences now, because each gave something of the plot away, and it’s too much fun to ruin.

I read this over two days, and I have a job, four kids, and a house full of chores. Definitely difficult to put down. Definitely a fun read. Definitely worth your time and money, if you’ve ever watched (or enjoyed!) a crappy sci-fi show.

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Review: Insane City

Insane City
Insane City by Dave Barry
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I read this one cover to cover on a plane from Detroit to San Francisco. I’ve got mixed feelings about it.

Dave Barry’s humor was stellar, as always. I chuckled and laughed out loud quite a bit as I wondered how thin a person has to be to be comfortable in economy seating.

The discovery that the main character really did give a damn, and the contrast between causes and real people were both well woven into the story. They weren’t subtle, but they didn’t club me over the head, either.

Unfortunately, there’s always a but.

The amount of terrible coincidences that kept happening to the main character strained credulity, and then tore through it like a crazed orangutan. It went beyond the character reacting with “oh, you have GOT to be kidding me.” I found myself uttering that very phrase every time I got thrown out of the story.

Even for Miami, the insanity was just too focused on one person.

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Review: Questionable Content

Antro PCs are not to be trusted. Hipsters have feelings, too. These are the first two things that I learned while reading through QC’s archives. While the AI angle was something that snagged my interest, I have an active bafflement of hipster culture that is only increasing over time.

And yet I didn’t close the tab. This wasn’t my usual kind of webcomic, but I kept reading through the archives. I still can’t tell you why.

I think that the facepalm was invented for Marten, and the headdesk for Faye.

I’m still reading. PintSize makes fewer and fewer appearances, and I’m fine with that. Every character that gets introduced is interesting, flawed, and filled to overflowing with hilarious quirks. Every. Single. One. Even characters that seem to be designed to be one-shot and/or throw-away are missed when they go away. I don’t think any of them have stayed away for long, though.

Also, mad props for introducing and sticking with a transgendered character

How does he update so often with so much awesome? Be ready to care about the AIs you meet. Be ready to give a shit about a bunch of hipsters.

But not about that shouting bird. Screw that guy.

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