Videos, Updates, and Announcements!

I’m happy to say that I’ll be a part of the vid-making process. Definitely missed it and of course we have wedding plans in the future. Go check out our vid as well as Some Jerk’s to see my fiance in action! ūüôā

Richard's Weekly Journal

Alright!  I have quite a bit to talk about, so let’s get right to it.

First, I was in the latest video of Some Jerk with a Camera!  I play Doc Brown #30, the first Doc Brown you see in the Doc Brown montage segment of this video.  I’m really proud of this tiny cameo as Some Jerk (aka Tony Goldmark) is one of my favorite online shows of all time.  It was really fun to do and the final product of the video was excellent.  I highly recommend not only this video but his entire video selection.

Next, I have a video of my very own that I‚Äôd like to share with all of you!¬† It‚Äôs a parody of the Frozen song ‚ÄúDo You Wanna Build a Snowman?‚Ä̬† I called it ‚ÄúDo You Wanna Make a Video?‚ÄĚ I had a lot of fun with this one as well.¬† I‚Ķ

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“Proven Guilty” Review

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Well, it was a fun trip, but I’m back in Canada and resting up before I have to house/dog-sit for my aunt. Before I left, my fiance gave me the rest of the Dresden series (including “Side Jobs”) to read and review, hopefully before either he or I travel again to see one another. Luckily, I managed to finish “Proven Guilty” before my trip was over, so let’s not delay and jump right into it.

A year after the last book, Harry is still adjusting to his new-found responsibilities. When Michael’s daughter, Molly, comes to him for help, he finds himself caught up in a strange case involving a horror convention and movie monsters seemingly coming to life. He also has to contend with the faerie¬†Summer and Winter Courts as the war with the vampires wages on. Will Harry be able to solve the case and keep the peace between the faeries as well?

I’m not gonna lie – I had some¬†issues with this one. But to start with the positive, I enjoyed the use of the horror convention as a setting here. Part of that is because I’d recently gone to Megacon, but the other was that I could easily picture it and that was partly due to the use of movie monsters. The monsters in this book are fictional expies of ones from movies you might recognize, like “Child’s Play”, “Friday the 13th”, and “Pumpkinhead” to name a few. Bizarrely, there’s a blatant reference to the Xenomorph from “Alien” that isn’t mentioned by name but has dialogue¬†references to the movie. This jumped out at me since the others have fictional names to (I assume) avoid copyright issues. Still, I really liked this idea and had a blast guessing who each monster was meant to represent.

A few characters make their return, most notably Thomas and Michael’s family. Thomas gets a bit of a change in that he finally moves out of Harry’s apartment, but we don’t get to see much of what he’s up to beyond his role in helping Harry during the plot. However, there are hints that more is going on with him and I’m interested to see how this plays out in later books. Michael also makes a brief return later in the story, and while it’s a good moment, this book was more focused on giving Molly and Charity some much-needed development. Over the course of it, I grew to like Charity more and more, and by the end I loved the direction her and Harry’s relationship had taken. I did take issue with one thing about her, but I’ll get to that in a bit. Molly also gets more to do here, though I’d be hard-pressed to say that I¬†like her more than before. She’s a character that kinda annoys¬†me and this didn’t really help with that, though hopefully that’ll change in later books.¬†As far as the faerie stuff goes, a lot of focus goes toward the Summer Court’s lack of involvement in the war and allows us to see Fix, the Summer Knight, and Lily, the Summer Lady, again. I liked their roles in the plot and felt they came out stronger than those on the Winter Court side. Their role in the plot is pretty much¬†concluded¬†once the movie monster one is taken care of.

This book had more blatant teasing of the possibility of Harry and Murphy being romantically involved. While I liked that it was directly addressed here, it drove me nuts from a shipper standpoint. I understand the arguments for and against it, but I hope this is something that isn’t completely dropped from here on out. There is at least one big change for Murphy¬†that I hope will be eventually resolved, though in the meantime it’s sure to be problematic for her. I also found that some speculation raised by Harry by the end of the book really got me curious as to¬†if there’s¬†something bigger happening than the previous books lead me to believe. I like that kind of mystery and intrigue, and I’m interested to see what actually comes into play from it.

Now, onto the stuff I didn’t like. There are really two major gripes I have with this one. The first is finding out who is responsible for the “movie monsters come to life” thing. While I liked the reasoning behind their attacks, I didn’t like who was behind THEM. I felt that there was room to have¬†something new be the culprit instead of falling back on the usual selection of baddies. That said, both the reasoning behind it and who sends them out plays a part in tying together plot threads, so I can see why it was done. I just wish this idea had been the¬†basis for the book.

But my biggest gripe has to do with Charity. There’s a HUGE revelation¬†involving her that I felt came completely out of nowhere. Part of this is because I couldn’t recall any previous hints leading up to it, and the other part is that Harry immediately figures out who’s behind the book’s events up to that point and beyond before the reader. It irritated me because while I don’t expect to know things before the characters all the time (and in fact find that annoying if done badly), it would’ve been nice to have had build-up to that moment instead of it being thrown at me like some kind of shock factor. It just felt incredibly jarring and was one of the only things in this to leave a slightly bad taste in my mouth (the other being the events after the main¬†plots are resolved).

Overall, this book left me feeling a little mixed. On the one hand, there are some great character developments and more interesting setup¬†for future books to explore. The horror theme was really cool, and I liked most of the supporting characters’ (both old and new) roles here. But on the other hand, the¬†twist involving Charity, the climax to the movie monster plot (the faerie one fared slightly better), and Molly having a big part as well¬†kinda dampened the fun for me. It’s definitely not a bad book by any stretch, but it’s definitely not one of my favorite Dresden titles.

Megacon 2015

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So, over the past weekend, my fiance and I took a little road trip from Miami to Orlando to attend Megacon. Like many conventions, the place was full of celebrities from all walks of entertainment, tons of merchandise to purchase, and many budding artists with amazing prints and creative commissions. It was only my second time there and at a convention in general, but it was a memorable time in all the right ways.

We arrived on Thursday at our hotel nearby the convention center: a Doubletree. It had been a nice place to stay and convenient to boot the last time we attended Megacon, so we were glad we took advantage of it again. By Friday morning, we were all set and excited to jump into the convention scene and were praying we wouldn’t come home with con flu as a result.

As soon as the doors opened, our first order of business was to redeem and buy our photo ops at the booth. That ordeal took at least 45 minutes, but we were glad to get it out of the way and start roaming the floor. We headed over to Artist’s Alley first and found a few repeat friends my fiance knew from previous conventions. While there, we “ordered” a few commissions, since we both knew that artists tend to get many even on the first day of cons. It was good that we did, because at least one artist was booked solid by the end of Friday alone and couldn’t take new commissions over the weekend.

We spent more time in the Alley, buying nice prints and even checking out some of the merch booths. My biggest role during the con weekend was commandeering my fiance’s iPhone to take pics. Why? Because as many con-goers know, cosplayers are abundant at cons. I love seeing cool costumes, especially those that people have made themselves, so I got a lot of great, nerdy costume pics throughout each day. Finally, it was time for us to check out the autograph booths. After a bit of coaxing, we went up to the original voice actors for the “Animaniacs”: Rob Paulsen, Jess Harnell and Tress MacNeille. We also met popular voice actress Grey DeLisle, as well as the actor who played Vincent on “Doctor Who,” Tony Curran. All of them were amazing and just wonderfully kind to us. My fiance had wanted to get $10 phone-shot photos with the voice actors, and they were extra nice enough to allow me to be included in them. And to cap off our con day, we got a photo op done with Alan Tudyk aka Wash from “Firefly” (among many other roles). He was also very nice despite the brief time we got with him. It was a great experience and all-around perfect start to our weekend.

We expected Saturday to be busy, and kinda unfortunately it didn’t disappoint. The crowds were much bigger and we purposely avoided being near the celebrity area because of it. Thankfully, compared to previous years (which were insane, from what we heard), the convention seemed pretty well-organized with handling so many people. However, thanks in part to the huge amount of people, we had to miss out on a voice acting panel to catch our noontime “Doctor Who” photo op. But we didn’t mind so much, as the two of us got to chat with some fans and then got our picture taken with Karen Gillan and Alex Kingston. Once again, despite¬†our¬†lack of time with them, they were very sweet. After that, we ended up spending much more time on the floor, checking out most of the merch booths and buying up some comics and such along with more artwork. By the end of the night, despite being tired by dinner, we decided to check out an acting troupe called Crazy Random Happenstance. We had seen them perform “Dr. Horrible” on our original Megacon trip and were hoping to catch the debut of their “Firefly” performance. Unfortunately, it ended up being pushed to a later time, so we watched “Dr. Horrible” again. But luckily for us, they chose to change it up and made it genderbent. It made it extra funny in places and we were glad it gave us a different experience from the first time.

By Sunday, we knew we’d have to leave the convention early to make the long drive back to Miami before it got dark. Our main goals were to pick up a couple remaining commissions (by the way, all the ones we got were excellent) and check out a “Firefly” panel. Considering that we didn’t get into the panel on Saturday, we chose to play it smart and get there as soon as our shuttle reached the center. Because of that, we got great aisle seats, and I was able to nab a few pics of Alan Tudyk, Summer Glau, and Adam Baldwin. The panel only ran for an hour, but neither of us wanted it to end. It was an hour filled with laughs and some interesting tidbits and stories. After that, we picked up our commissions and I found one last booth worth buying from. We bought lunch (Papa John’s pizza, our go-to con lunch for that weekend), and eventually made our way back to the hotel to make the trek home.

All in all, it was a weekend we’ll never forget. We met a lot of cool people, not just celebrities, and not once did we take issue with anyone. From the convention’s volunteers to the various fans and cosplayers, everyone we came across seemed to be in high spirits. It honestly made our trip even more enjoyable and we wished we didn’t have to leave. Personally, I do want to attend more conventions outside of Megacon, but I’ll gladly go again and again if given the chance. Both of my con experiences have been very positive and I hope that streak continues.

“Dead Beat” Review

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I’m finally back from Megacon! It was a crazy weekend but lots of fun. My fiance and I bought a ton of great artwork and other merch, met cool celebrities like Karen Gillan and Alan Tudyk, and meeting many nice fans along the way. During our stay, I finally wrapped up reading “Dead Beat” among some “Doctor Who” comics I bought at the convention. I do plan to blog about Megacon later this week, but in the meantime, I wanted to get to this long overdo review. While I don’t feel it’s my favorite among those in the series, this book had some big developments for Harry. Without further ado, let’s get to it.

A year after the events of “Blood Rites,” Harry finds his friend Murphy has decided to go on an impromptu vacation. With her away, he soon gets caught up in a devious plot involving blackmail and several people trying to get their hands on an ancient book by a deceased necromancer called Kemmler. The book contains immense power that could turn the user practically into a god. Harry will need every resource at his disposal, including some surprising ones, in order to stop the book from falling into the wrong hands. Will Harry be able to find and destroy the accursed book in time?

Even though I took a while to read this one (hey, staying with my fiance tends to equal lots of distractions), I really enjoyed this one. A lot has happened to the main characters during that year, and the plot involving the necromancy even involved interesting ideas using “zombies” and ghosts. I liked the villains as well, especially new baddies Cowl and Kumori. I felt there was more stake with them getting the book and they had the most interesting subplot of any of the villains.

One of my favorite advancements made was with the Lasciel subplot¬†briefly shown in the previous two books. For those who don’t remember, Lasciel is a fallen angel who possesses a silver coin that Harry picks up at one point. Here, her introduction is properly realized and I was immediately invested in her character.¬†The other character I was interested in was Waldo Butters, who was introduced briefly a few books back. He gets more to do here as he becomes directly involved in the necromancy plot and brought a fresh outsider’s perspective to what Harry does day by day. He even gets his own little character arc through the book that felt realistic and was overall well done.

I have two complaints, one minor and one major. The minor one ties into my love for Murphy and the budding “feelings” Harry has toward her in this book. I completely love these two and while I’m trying not to get my hopes up about them getting together, I felt her current relationship seemed like a strange “opposites attract” situation. I don’t think it’s necessarily bad for her character, but it seems a little odd that she would go for it.

But my major complaint is with the amount of villains in this story. It felt a little like what I like to call “the ‘Spider-Man 3’ syndrome.” Basically, it felt like there were one too many villains in a story when one or two would have definitely sufficed (like Cowl, for example).¬†Luckily, all the villains get their own time to shine, but it just felt confusing from the get-go with so many unknown baddies chasing after the book. And even after they get distinct personalities, I just found some¬†of the motivations to be more interesting than the others.

Despite both complaints, I liked “Dead Beat” well enough. It progressed a lot within the universe and set up a lot of possible future stories and intriguing character developments. I’m especially interested to see more of Lasciel storyline and what lies in store for Harry, both the good and the bad. Give this one a read, but just be warned that you might find yourself gravitating toward a specific villain among the cluster of them.

“Welcome to the Jungle” Review

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So, while I’ve been enjoying my stay in Miami, I’ve come across a typical problem I have on these trips: wanting to do many, many things in the slowly dwindling time I have. Because of that, my efforts to read the next Dresden novel have been slow going, though I still plan to blog about it before I leave and possibly the one after it. In the meantime, one goal I had at the start of my trip was to go back a little and check out “Welcome to the Jungle,” a graphic novel prequel to the first Dresden novel, “Storm Front.” I figured I’d cover it this week (albeit a bit late) since I don’t know if I’ll be blogging at all in the coming week due to the convention and several other things. Without further ado, let’s jump into the plot.

Harry Dresden, looking a bit younger than when we meet him in “Storm Front,” is called to the scene of a murder at the local zoo. The police, with the exception of Karrin Murphy, believe a gorilla named Moe is the culprit. However, as is usually the case, it appears something more sinister and supernatural is at work. Harry must figure out whodunnit while keeping himself and those around him alive before they can become the culprit’s next victims.

For the most part, I liked this book. The story fit the tone of those from the novels and I could have seen this lengthened into a novel itself. I did feel it was less complicated and more predictable than his other outings, but for a shorter story it worked just fine and the zoo setting¬†appealed to me. Given that Harry, Murphy, Bob, and Murphy’s partner Carmichael are the only reoccurring characters from the novels, I thought their dialogue was pretty spot-on. This was especially noticeable with Harry and Bob. The other one-off characters introduced fit in with the Dresden universe, and while I liked the main villain (even if it was obvious they were the culprit), my favorite was¬†zoo assistant Willamena aka Will. She spends a lot of time being under Harry’s protection, but I thought she was a pretty well-written character and had a good dose of personality to boot.

Since this is a graphic novel, the illustrations of course pushed the story along. I found the artwork to be good, though I had some nitpicky issues with how Harry and Murphy in particular were represented. The art also did well capturing the tones the story was going for, especially in the darker, more macabre moments. However, one thing I noticed was that some panels seemed a bit static, as similar poses would be used next to each other while inner monologues would play out. Considering graphic novels have the benefit of “show, don’t tell,” I felt it could’ve taken more advantage of that.

Which brings me to my biggest gripe with the book: a lot of “tell” over “show.” While inner monologues and sometimes lengthy dialogue can work well in the novel format, it’s also used here and is far less effective. That’s not to say the dialogue or monologues aren’t interesting, as I was invested in what was going on. But what kept taking me out of the story every so often was how wordy it was. I found this happened the most whenever Harry would have his inner monologues, and it definitely felt like Jim Butcher’s first time writing for the graphic novel format. He¬†crams so much information into nearly every panel that it feels like it might as well have been a novel instead. Like I said earlier, some of the imagery¬†came off static as a result of all the information, so the “graphic” part of this “novel” suffers a little because of it.

Despite that, I would still recommend giving it a look. I can safely say it’s¬†the weakest Dresden book I’ve read, but it was still enjoyable and fun to see a visual interpretation of the characters and the supernatural aspects. I would say that if you’re just starting the series, stick with “Storm Front,” but this is worth picking up either for cheap or as a library rental.