Monday, December 31, 2012

Video Game 30th Anniversary of the Month - Mr. Do!

As the year 2012 comes to a close, I find myself tying up loose ends. The bulk of my attention this past couple of months has been in some combination of the usual Christmas preparations with a move out of the apartment my wife and I have lived in for the past eight and a half years. I finally got the last of our personal belongings moved out of there this morning. Of course, the task of properly moving into our new home has barely begun! But, for now, that can wait. With the original Star Wars trilogy playing in the background as we await 2013, I have one more blog entry to finish up before the ball drops: the final video game 30th anniversary of 2012: Mr. Do!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Video Game 30th Anniversary of the Month - Q*bert

Although I haven't actually seen the movie yet, the release of Disney's Wreck-It Ralph in theaters this month is one that has relevance for these video game posts. In case you haven't heard about it, the movie features a 1980's style video game villain (the eponymous Ralph) who tries to transcend his role and do something good for a change. Although Ralph and the game in which he is featured are newly-created for the movie, Wreck-It Ralph features a number of actual video game icons in a series of cameo appearances. Among these is the hero of this month's game, Q*bert.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Blogging Holiday

Well... actually. Yes.

For the first few years of this blog, I took a holiday break from new posts every Christmas season. This past few years, I've gone straight through. Part of the reason for this is that I'd determined not only that it was good for me to keep up a discipline of posting three times a week as often as possible, but that it was that much harder to get back into such a rhythm after a long vacation.

This year, however, a confluence of personal and professional developments (many of which are positive, or at least potentially so) are dictating that I need to devote my energies elsewhere for the time being.

The blog isn't going anywhere. There is still more than seven and a half years' worth of posts to wade through if you're really interested. Not only that, but I do still have two more "30th Anniversary" video game posts that I committed to within these last two months of 2012, and those will still be posted in the appropriate months.

I fully expect to return to posting fresh entries after things settle down. Hopefully shortly after the New Year begins.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Save Coffee By the Books!

You may remember that, about a year and a half ago, I pleaded with my readers (many of whom have connections to Fuller Theological Seminary, where I work) to lend their support to save the Fuller Bookstore, which was threatened with closure as the seminary needed to find ways of saving money in tight economic times.

As my similar plea today (and a similar — but not identical! — image to go with it) will no doubt indicate, the bookstore was saved back then, but the struggle is by no means over, as a press release that came out Monday night has demonstrated.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Let's Be Honest. Some Hymns Are Pretty Weird

'hymns & psalms' photo (c) 2011, kevin rawlings - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/For those of you who follow the church calendar, yesterday was All Saints' Sunday (and, of course, if you really care about such things, you know that the actual "All Saints' Day" is November 1st, and this was simply the first Sunday after that, but I digress). In recognition of this event, some churches focus on the legacy of Christians who have lived before us. This may be done in various ways. Some churches focus on the stories of the characters of the Bible. Others focus on Christian leaders throughout history. A church might read off a list of loved ones within that church's family that have passed away within the past year. Perhaps the most commonly shared ritual, however, is the singing of songs dedicated to remembering the saints of all types within the Christian faith.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

So, Superman's a Blogger Now?

'Clark Kent glasses' photo (c) 2008, Andrew - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/To be perfectly honest, I stopped reading Superman comics when they rebooted the continuity last year. In fact, the only DC Comics title I've followed at all since then (and that in fits and starts) has been Firestorm, and that has far more to do with long-standing loyalty to that character than with the "New 52" take on the concept (which, frankly, has been awful, and I can't tell you how happy I am about the "back to basics" take starting with Firestorm #13). So I can perhaps be forgiven for having missed the news that came out last week about Clark Kent quitting his job at the Daily Planet, purportedly to begin his own blog.

Indeed, after having found out about the change while listening to this past weekend's episode of Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me (and even that, I only caught yesterday morning), my reaction was essentially as one of the "millions of people issuing a simultaneous 'meh'" that was described over at Geekosystem. Frankly, I'll believe that the move is permanent when I see it still in place a decade from now.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Transformers Universe Extended Bios: The Omnibots

A few years ago, Jim Sorenson, who blogs over at "Disciples of Boltax," released a few previously unseen extended bios for various Transformers. These were apparently written by Bob Budiansky in the style that came to associated with the Transformers Universe mini-series, but failed to be included in any of those four issues. Several years previously, Sorenson had also released bios of this type for the Omnibots on the Allspark message boards. However, these Omnibot bios were not included among the bios Sorenson posted on his blog.

When these were posted on the Allspark, Sorenson noted that they came from a "comics bible" he had purchased in his quest for model sheets (which he ultimately used to create such works as The Ark), written by Bob Budiansky (who besides being the author of around 50 of the 80 issues of the original US Marvel Transformers comic book, also wrote the vast majority, if indeed not all, of the Tech Specs bios for the Generation One toys, in addition of the Transformers Universe bios). I'm going ahead and posting them now to fill in the gap left by "Disciples of Boltax," but do encourage folks to read that blog to see the entries previously posted.

Friday, October 26, 2012

A Review of A Year of Biblical Womanhood

The first thing you need to understand, before I say anything else, is this: Rachel Held Evans loves the Bible.

This point is important, because many Christians, upon learning that she is (gasp!) an egalitarian, (shock!) votes Democrat, and (horrors!) supports gay rights, tend to assume that she therefore must not take the Bible very seriously. This impression was only exacerbated when Evans announced some time back that she was going to undertake a "year of biblical womanhood" where, taking a cue from A. J. Jacobs' book, A Year of Living Biblically, she resolved to spend a year living according the Bible's instructions regarding women as literally as possible. Some Christians who do indeed hold to what they call "literal" interpretations of Scripture were convinced that Evans' purpose in undertaking this project was to make fun of them, and even to make "a mockery of God and Scripture" itself (as one of her critics is quoted as saying on p. 285).

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

It's Not Easy Being Brawl

In a recent thread about the upcoming "Fall of Cybertron" versions of the Combaticons, it was observed that Brawl somehow manages to remain green through various recolors that leave the rest of the team with strikingly different appearances. Someone suggested a parody of a certain song sung by a famous Muppet frog. I took that as a challenge! ;)

Monday, October 22, 2012

Video Game 30th Anniversary of the Month - Star Trek: Strategic Operations Simulator

I have to confess to a bit of uncertainty about whether this month's entry really fits as a 30th anniversary. The Wikipedia article suggests that Sega didn't release this game until 1983, and for all I know, their sources may well be right. However, I'm going by the copyright date Sega included on the game itself, which places this game in 1982, and therefore as worthy of inclusion. For those who are sticklers for accuracy, and who believe that the 1983 date is indeed more accurate, I can only hope that my placing this entry toward the end of the year helps (although I have my own reasons for not featuring this game in November or December).

Friday, October 19, 2012

BotCon 2012 Exclusive Shattered Glass Treadshot

Love it or hate it, the "Shattered Glass" continuity has been a mainstay of BotCon and the official Transformers club for several years now. For those who don't already know, Shattered Glass is essentially a mirror-universe take on the Transformers concept. The Autobots are evil and the Decepticons are good, instead of the other way around, as it is in every other Transformers toyline yet seen.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Transformers in 3-D comic issue #1

Most of the time, when I'm talking about Transformers comics of the 1980's, I'm talking about the Marvel series. However, there was another Transformers comic series that came out during that era, which is now all-but forgotten. A company called Blackthorne Publishing, most known for publishing 3-D comic books, was able to get a license from Hasbro to do such 3-D comics at the same time as Marvel had the Transformers comic book license. Apparently, the 3-D gimmick was enough of a difference to convince Hasbro (and Marvel? I have no idea if there were ever any lawsuits) that Blackthorne's work would not infringe on the existing agreement.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Blog Action Day 2012 - The Power of We... in Fighting Breast Cancer

There are several holidays and observances on the calendar that, although they do indeed have some form or another of official recognition, nonetheless often go by unnoticed. "Boss's Day," which takes place tomorrow (Tuesday, October 16th), has been one such holiday for me. The fact that I'm noticing "Boss's Day" this year is more than a little ironic, but more on that in a moment.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Regarding The Minister as Motivator

In the PC(USA), we often like to refer to ministers as "Teaching Elders." In fact, this is technically the preferred language according to our denomination's constitution, but don't expect Presbyterians to stop using the word "minister" anytime soon. The point here is that we see "teaching" as one of the primary roles that a minister is to play within the life of a church.

Monday, October 08, 2012

Transformers Groove's Spanish Packaging

I've written before about the fact that Transformers have been sold in countries other than the United States and Japan. In fact, the brand is a world-wide phenomenon. This fact allows for a few interesting blips in the otherwise straightforward history of how certain toys come to be made. Take this Spanish version of Groove, for example. It did not come out at the time of Groove's original release in 1986, but rather several years later, as part of a European "Classics" sub-line that showed up around 1990 (not to be confused with the American "Classics" line of 2006, nor the similarly-themed lines which have come since that technically use different names, but which are often referred to in this way. Also note that "Classics" toys from Spain do not feature the "Classics" title, although most other European countries did feature such language).

Saturday, October 06, 2012

In Memory of Patrick

A friend of mine from college passed away yesterday after a near-drowning accident on Thursday. He had a pretty good impersonation of Gonzo singing this song.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Transformers Prime Cyberverse Decepticon Flamewar

Because of the engineering expertise and multiple parts necessary to create a Transformers toy, Transformers actually tend to cost a bit more to produce than many people expect on the basis of their size compared to other toys in stores. In order to at least try to keep the actual costs buyers have to pay down, Hasbro relies fairly heavily these days on redecos (also often called repaints). While I've argued in the past that there have always been such redecos in the line (and, in fact, the entire Transformers franchise owes its existence to the concept, as the original line was actually nothing more than reuse and redecos of toys created for entirely different lines in Japan), they have not always been as common in the past as they are now. These days, it is rare to see a mold that does not get reused at least once, if not more, by changing the color scheme around and possibly remolding a part or two.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Star Trek: The Next Generation Celebrates Its 25th Anniversary

If you follow the Star Trek franchise, you may already be aware that today marks the 25th anniversary of the premiere of the first episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, "Encounter at Farpoint." The odds are, Paramount will be making an even bigger fuss about the 50th anniversary of the entire Star Trek franchise in just four more years, but in the meantime, there are plenty of interviews and retrospectives to be found. Just head on over to StarTrek.com for a sampling.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

White Flour: The Video

Five years ago, the city of Knoxville, Tennessee was the site of a most unusual demonstration. A group of white supremacists marched through the city, but (sadly) that wasn't what was unusual. The unusual part was the form of counter-protest staged in response.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Transformers Custom - Astrostar

Quite a few years ago, I tried my hand at a number of Transformers-related customs. I've shared a few of these before, but I somehow never seem to have gotten around to sharing "Astrostar," my silvery custom made from an extra Cosmos.

Since Cosmos was a spaceship, I thought about what color a spaceship should be. If I may be so bold, I think that the silver color-scheme I decided upon is far more realistic than the green of the original toy, if "realistic" is even an appropriate word to use for a science-fiction creation such as a flying saucer!

In an attempt to keep the toy fully transformable without scraping the paint applications away, I left Cosmos' yellow parts unchanged, although close examination of the pictures does reveal that the green where the arms meet the torso still shows through. The gold (mostly) replacing the red of Astrostar's head seemed an appropriate counter-point to the silver on the rest of her body.

Yes, "her." Although I am on record as saying that, as robots, Transformers shouldn't have "male" nor "female" sexes, the fact that they do in most of the fiction is an accomplished fact of life. Having established that female Transformers exist, however, the powers-that-be have managed to incorporate a disappointingly small number of them into the actual roster of established characters. When I wrote up Tech Specs for this fan creation, I decided to do my small part toward equality (you'll have to click the thumbnail to actually read the bio, of course).

I didn't stop at the Tech Specs, either. This was one of the customs for which I created an actual box, designed to resemble the Generation One boxes (not precisely, but most average folks wouldn't know the difference).

Sadly, I no longer have this toy in my collection, having sold it on eBay to a fan some years ago. However, I remain quite proud of this particular effort. You can see some more pictures (including the box from other angles) at this link.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Video Game 30th Anniversary of the Month - Pitfall!

While the Atari 2600 version of Pac-Man was the highest selling game in that system's history, Pitfall!, the holder of the #2 position, has a perhaps more interesting and unique story. To tell it properly, however, it isn't enough to go back 30 years to the game's introduction in 1982. I need to go back a few years more....

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

New Super Mario Bros. Wii Boxed Sticker Capsule Toys

My current living situation is such that I need to go out of my way to get quarters from time to time. As I've discussed in the past, this is not something one can do as quickly and easily these days as perhaps one once could, but there are still a couple of reliable outlets near where I live. One such outlet is a pizza place that still has a change machine near a selection of video games they have on hand. Because getting quarters is a service that I am glad they provide, I generally use at least one of the quarters I get on one of the video games, but this past weekend, I was informed that the video games were out of order. I therefore spent some quarters on something I think I've only done twice in the past decade: a capsule toy machine. In this case, I spent a dollar on one of the sticker boxes from the new "New Super Mario Bros. Wii" game.

Monday, September 17, 2012

28th Anniversary of the Transformers Cartoon

OK. I admit it. When I was detailing all sorts of important Transformers anniversaries back in 2009, the 25th anniversary of the franchise, I gave the cartoon short-shrift, mentioning the 25th anniversary of the first appearance of the Dinobots, but ignoring the first airing of the cartoon altogether in favor of the release date of the first issue of the comic book. I even honored the 25th anniversary of the 1986 release of The Transformers: The Movie to movie theaters when the appropriate time came up in 2011. While it's well-known that I'm biased in favor of the comic book interpretation of what we now call "Generation One" as specifically opposed to the cartoon, this is simply unfair. So, although the "28th anniversary" is nowhere near as cool-sounding as "25th," I'm going to try to do something about it now, on the anniversary of the first episode of "More than Meets the Eye", the three-part story that kicked off the cartoon version of The Transformers.*

Monday, September 10, 2012

Beast Wars II Galvatron (Korean Version)

By default, most Transformers toys can safely be considered as falling into one of two groups: 1) those that are available in America through Hasbro, 2) those that (not also being available in America) are available in Japan through Takara (now TakaraTomy). There are, of course, Transformers that fall outside of these two groups. Some, such as the South American Mini Vehicles (here are some examples, alongside similar oddities) are the stuff of legend, and I'm not likely to ever have one in my collection. Others, such as the original Action Master Thundercracker, were available only in Europe and Australia. But such exceptions notwithstanding, most Transformers could be purchased through one of the two main countries.

Friday, September 07, 2012

Owning Our Labels

20080825 Michelle Obama Speaks at 2008 Democratic National ConventionOK. So we're knee-deep in Political Convention season, which itself is naturally knee-deep in presidential election season. This (naturally) leads to a higher proportion of politically-relevant blog posts than usual. Some of these are unapologetically partisan, but it seems to me that most of the posts I read fall more in the category of attempting to eschew labels altogether to define a position that is neither left nor right. While I've certainly written a few of this type of post, myself, I'm going to attempt something a bit more original this time around.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Transformers Kreon Micro-Changers - Public Service Announcement

I was able to grab all six of the "Preview Series" of Kreon Micro-changers at Toys R Us today. Since Kreons are the most interesting part (in my opinion) of the whole KRE-O line (which, for those who don't know, is Hasbro's answer to LEGO), it was an easy decision, and one made easier by finding out online that the "blind-packed" pouches really aren't all that blind-packed at all. However, this fact isn't readily obvious from the packaging, so consider this post a Public Service Announcement to help you avoid getting duplicate Kreons you may not want.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Not-Transformers Feature: Spray from iGear

My experience with third-party "not-quite Transformers" (that is, toys not made by either Hasbro nor Takara — nor by anyone licensed by them — which nonetheless clearly attempt to represent actual characters from the Transformers franchise*) is admittedly fairly limited. I have some toys created by Justitoys (including the "WST Dinorobots" and a miniature version of Shockwave), and I've taken advantage of the occasional product to add to an official product (such as the Renderform "Gold Scout" kit for the Classics Bumblebee mold), but that's nearly the extent of it. Indeed, this "Spray" figure from iGear may be currently unique in my collection as being a fully-transforming toy that uses an all-new design (as opposed to merely tweaked and/or scaled down, as with the Dinorobots) to evoke a classic Transformers character (in case you can't tell, here's the link to when I featured the original Seaspray).

Monday, August 27, 2012

Transformers Feature: Drift

In the past decade or so, the original era of Transformers (retroactively called "Generation One") has seen something of a renaissance. While no era has ever gone by without some kind of homage to characters such as Optimus Prime or Megatron, more recent years have been noteworthy for new comic stories written for, and new toys devoted to, more obscure characters from that era. If you were to ask a fan in the late 1990s, for example, if Hasbro would ever actually produce a new figure of the 1985 Tracks character, I doubt you'd have found many who would answer "yes," and those few who would, would probably suggest that it might be an homage along the lines of, say, Animated Shockwave (possessing clear references to the original, but not really the same character). Yet, such a new Generation One Tracks figure was made, as have many other such Generation One figures in recent years. It is into this "Generation One renaissance" that Drift came to exist in 2008, and almost from his conception, Drift has been the subject of controversy.

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Count's Not Laughing Today

I've just heard the news that Muppet legend Jerry Nelson passed away last night. Besides performing as "the Count" on Sesame Street since 1972, Nelson was commonly heard as an announcer for many Muppet productions (including an uncredited bit in last year's movie, The Muppets) and a number of minor and not-so-minor Muppet characters (perhaps most notably Gobo Fraggle on Fraggle Rock) over a career than spanned six different decades.

While Nelson had already retired for health reasons several years ago, giving the Sesame Street folks time to transition to a new performer for Nelson's characters, I have not been able to verify if a permanent voice for the Count had yet been selected at the time of Nelson's death, and know that Nelson continued to provide the Count's voice at least for a time after giving up the actual puppeteering work. I imagine that at least some recordings of Nelson's announcer-work (perhaps the introduction to "Super Grover" sketches? I admit this is just a shameless way to justify using a picture of my Super Grover toy. Nelson was not Grover's voice) will be used for some time to come. Even so, he will be missed.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Perils of Idealism

Starr 031007-0039 Danger - Unexploded Ordnance - Restricted Area - signIt's probably safe to say that I'm something of an idealist. Not only that, but I'm surrounded by people who probably could (and should!) be considered idealists, as well. To some degree, at least, I imagine that this is part and parcel of what it is the be a Christian. Certainly, if the primary definition in my office dictionary ("a person whose behavior or thought is based on ideals") is at all accurate, how could a person who desires to live as Christ would have us to live be anything other than an idealist?

Monday, August 20, 2012

Is Our God Too Big?

We evangelicals like to sing about how big and powerful God is. For example, here's the chorus of a recent song (just a couple of years old) that's been popular at our church:
Our God is greater, our God is stronger
God You are higher than any other
Our God is Healer, awesome and power
Our God, Our God...

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Youth Car Wash

Twin Peaks Car Wash - Flickr - MarkScottAustinTX (14)This entry is patterned off the popular blog, Stuff Christians Like, and was in fact submitted as a possible "Guest Post" for that blog. As it has not appeared there, I feel safe in going ahead with it here.

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a family in possession of a car must be in want of getting it washed.

It is similarly true that a Christian family in possession of teenage children must be in want of funds for their youth group.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Why Are We So Ready to Attack?

About a week ago, I posted the following paragraph from C.S. Lewis' famous work, Mere Christianity:
The real test is this. Suppose one reads a story of filthy atrocities in the paper. Then suppose that something turns up suggesting that the story might not be quite true, or not quite so bad as it was made out. Is one’s first feeling, “Thank God, even they aren’t quite so bad as that,” or is it a feeling of disappointment, and even a determination to cling to the first story for the sheer pleasure of thinking your enemies are as bad as possible? If it is the second then it is, I am afraid, the first step in a process which, if followed to the end, will make us into devils. You see, one is beginning to wish that black was a little blacker. If we give that wish its head, later on we shall wish to see grey as black, and then to see white itself as black. Finally we shall insist on seeing everything — God and our friends and ourselves included — as bad, and not be able to stop doing it: we shall be fixed for ever in a universe of pure hatred.

— C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (Chapter 7: Forgiveness)

Monday, August 13, 2012

Happy Left-Handers Day!

Linkshaender 01I am reliably informed that today is "Left-Handers Day." Despite being a lifelong southpaw, I was not aware of this fact this year. It seems that I've somewhere, somehow, heard of the existence of such a day, and I even mentioned it a couple of years ago, but suffice it to say that it has not penetrated to my consciousness, or I would have more to say about it.

When I wrote about this day two years ago, I called it "The Forgotten Holiday." I have obviously inadvertently proven myself right.

Why is it today? Why not some other day? I haven't a clue. I'm just taking their word for it.

That said, for those of you who, like me, are actually in your right minds (yes, it's an old joke), enjoy the day!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Video Game 30th Anniversary of the Month - Pac-Man Plus

There is little question that the early 80s was my era when it comes to video games. I really haven't kept track of updates to the genre in the past couple of decades. But I do remember the games of my childhood fondly. Pac-Man Plus, the fourth game in the Pac-Man franchise, holds a special honor, being the only game for which I have a framed marquee hanging on my wall!

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Reflections on My 38th Birthday

Birthday cakeI turn 38 today.

Obviously, this is not the first birthday I've celebrated since I've started this blog. It's not even the first time I've made a point of mentioning the day, although I don't always. Usually, I try to make a point of some other special event that happened on a given day, and August 8th has particular significance to Transformers fans.

Monday, August 06, 2012

Game Show Board Games: Password

Dating back to 1961, Password is probably the game show with the deepest roots to have a version aired within the past decade. The first board game version came out in 1962, followed by many, many editions over the years to come. I won't swear that my version is a "first" edition, although it does have the 1962 copyright and does not indicate a later edition as many later editions did.

Friday, August 03, 2012

On Believing the Worst of One's Opponents

Perhaps you've seen this picture floating around Facebook lately. As one might expect, I myself found it when it was posted by a friend who leans conservative when it comes to issues of politics and religion. I was immediately suspicious, not only because I am disinclined to think of Obama as this stupid, but because I've seen this happen before.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Transformers Feature: Club G2 Ramjet

When I first learned that the official Transformers Collectors' Club would be offering Generation 2 Ramjet as one of their 2011 exclusive figures, I wasn't especially happy about it.

For those who don't remember, a bit of context is in order. The BotCon 2010 exclusives were all based around the Generation 2: Redux concept, and it was revealed during a Q&A session at the convention that the original intention was to include both G2-colored Ramjet and Action Master-colored Thundercracker (and, in fact, AMTC was the original idea around which everything else that year came to exist), but Hasbro told them that the molds were not available at the time needed to use them as convention exclusives. However, G2-colored Ramjet would be a 2011 club exclusive. At the time, it seemed as though AMTC was being passed over in favor of the Ramjet character, never to actually be produced. We now know that AMTC was made as a BotCon 2011 exclusive (as "Shattered Glass" Thundercracker), but that knowledge was still nearly a year away, and I was upset that AMTC wasn't the one chosen for the club.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Batman and the Power of Wealth

VegasBitch198I'm still recovering from a week-long vacation, but have been trying to keep up with what's going on in the outside world just a bit. Before the recent release of the new Batman movie, The Dark Knight Returns was overshadowed by the opening-night shooting that left a dozen people dead, and scores more injured, its coming was anticipated as an enjoyable escape from the realities of every day life.

Friday, July 27, 2012

California and its Culinary Curiosities

My wife and I have been traveling along the California coast this past week. One of things we've been impressed by is just how much of this state is devoted to food. We passed through a region calling itself a "salad bowl," and a city proclaiming itself to be "the artichoke center of the world." We visited one city just before it could celebrate its garlic festival, and another on the edge of celebrating an olive festival. We regularly travel down highways that run parallel to cattle farms, and see various forms of grain and produce being grown, and often sold at small wooden roadside vendors. It is hard to escape the reality that food is a large part of California's identity.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Transformers Feature: SDCC 2011 "First Edition" Optimus Prime

The longer the Transformers franchise stays alive, the more toys with the same name are created. The single most egregious example is, of course, Optimus Prime. The TFWiki page for Generation One Optimus Prime toys lists dozens upon dozens of items. While G1 is certainly the largest offender, when you add all the other continuity families that Transformers has embraced over the years, it's easy to see how trying to come up with a concise way of naming each specific Optimus Prime toy can become a challenge. This problem was not helped when the name of the most recent iteration was announced: Transformers: Prime. If I really wanted to be glib, I could call this toy Transformers: Prime Optimus Prime, or perhaps worse yet "Prime Prime" (although these admittedly would work equally well for several other toys, not just this San Diego Comic-Con exclusive).

Monday, July 23, 2012

Trekkies, Trekkers, Evangelicals, and Labels

If you follow almost any science fiction genre at all, you're probably aware of a long-standing debate on what to call fans of Star Trek. Pretty much everyone knows about "Trekkies," but every now and again, someone will pipe up and comment that this term is incorrect, informing the misguided individual that the proper word to refer to fans of Star Trek is, in fact, "Trekkers."

Friday, July 20, 2012

Yet Another "Call Me Maybe" Parody

Obviously, I'm jumping on the bandwagon a bit here, as there are tons of parodies of the Carly Rae Jepsen megahit "Call Me Maybe" out there already (I'm particularly fond of the Cookie Monster one). But I couldn't resist this take that, I hope, is rather unique. It tells a story that should be familiar to most Christian ears, if probably never quite like this.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Give Me a Reason

When writing Monday's entry, I was reminded of a song that I hadn't heard in a while. It was recorded by Christian contemporary musician Al Denson. One of my college friends (we ultimately were roommates for a year) had attended a music camp Denson had coordinated a few years previously. As I understand it, this camp was a fairly exclusive gathering for talented young Christian musicians, and thus my friend got to know Denson in person. Through my friend, I got to meet Denson myself, and even enjoyed one of his concerts backstage on one occasion. In 1993, about the time we were finishing up our first year, the Reasons album was released. I think Reasons may actually hold the distinction of being the first CD I ever purchased (it was certainly before I had a CD player of my own. I had to play it on the computer at first). The song in question was the title track to the album. Here is the chorus:
Just give me a reason
And I'll come running
When I have reasons
I know the way
I'm pointing my feet in the right direction
Give me a reason*

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