May 31, 2013

Day 6


Got the show-accurate Ultra Magnus figure! Yay, now my Prime Autobots are all here, except for Cliffjumper because he's dead!

So, did a lot of SAT studying today in preparation for tomorrow. Practice test went okay, and I managed to get through three whole sections without taking a prolonged break. I feel prepared for tomorrow, even though I have to get up at a regular school time on a Saturday. That just sounds like a paradox, dosen't it?
Grades came in today! Unfortunately, I didn't make my goal of having no C's in my classes. I ended up with a C+ in Math and Chemistry for the year as a whole, but Latin had a B-, which surprised me, because I seriously thought that that would be the class that got the C. History got a B+, and Strings got an A, and I got a nice big A+ in English! Suuuuper happy about that!
I found this really inspirational speech by Oprah for the Harvard Commencement event. Despite what you may think of Oprah, I think that she says some things in here that really hit home. I found this to be very moving and it made me want to go out into the world and do something (maybe get that math grade up!) Enjoy:
I also found a video that Tyler Ward made. It's a cover of a bad song that he made sound good, but the thing that really made me squeal was seeing a cameo appearance by Lindsey Stirling! She's just an adorable munchkin in this video, as in the beginning and end, she's seen with a guitar of all things, and I like the pat on the head that Tyler gives her at the end! It's super cute. Check it out:
So that's nice. Anyway, hope everyone had a good day. Wish me luck on the SAT tomorrow! :)

May 30, 2013

Day 5


My Transformers comics that I plan on covering this summer!
So, my new TF IDW review is up, if you want to check it out! Did that today, and practiced the violin a little bit. Did some more SAT practice for Saturday's test (I'm far less nervous now than I was Tuesday), and read more Game of Thrones. It's nearing the end! My Mom says that I should have it finished in time for my visit with my cousins, so we can actually talk about the entire book! And I have the second one to start on this year too! :)
Transformers Prime airs tomorrow! I'm stoked about that. Wheeljack and Arcee get to work together, which I don't think has happened before in the show, so that should be interesting. My Mom might work from home tomorrow, so that'll be nice. I don't talk to her very much during the day, because she's at work... y'know, having a job tends to do that!

Shadowcon Reviews- All His Engines


Shadowcon Reviews: IDW Transformers Ongoing #7 “All His Engines”

One of the things that I love about the IDW Transformers comics is, because their story is so expansive and layered, the writers are able to give everyone a voice and a character. Granted, some of these characters are kind of weak, but most are very strong and can carry their own story. Last week, we looked at Optimus Prime, and how he dealt with leadership and the burdens of trying to cope with his lineage.
Today, we take a look at his opposite, and this is going to be a rather complicated process. To understand Megatron, we must first understand the many different agendas of the Decepticon Empire. In this issue, we see that the Decepticons, without their leader, are scattered, broken, and on the verge of extinction. Megatron’s comments about how his troops are lost without him is all too telling, as we see the Decepticons resorting to cannibalism and pillaging from one another, quite literally taking pieces of their dead and affixing those to themselves. I think that Starscream’s comment about how he will lead the Decepticons not through fear or mind control as Bombshell suggests, but through willingness to follow him, is very telling in that it shows that, at least to Starscream, Megatron’s leadership was unfounded, or founded upon duplicity and fear, whereas what Starscream is offering is a chance to lead a loyal army. Because, as we see, the Decepticons are not loyal to anybody. This issue shows that in its purest form; we have people backstabbing each other so frequently, that it is a wonder that the Decepticons were ever under control in the first place.
This brings me to a larger issue, which really can be talked about in any good vs. evil story: evil, or those participating in evil, is an easy thing to write. Making characters one-dimensional for the sake of having villainy is easy. Often in Transformers fiction, Megatron is seen as the be-all-end-all evil character; he has no morals, no emotions, no feelings of regret over anything. Look at his depiction in Transformers Cybertron, where he taunts his own troops when they fail him, and literally rules them through torture and pain. In fact, the only person under his command who wasn’t beaten into submission was Scourge, and he finally turned tail and joined Optimus and his team because there was no honor in following Megatron anymore.
In IDW’s universe, however, Megatron is seen as a damaged man, a man who fought for equality during a time where the caste system was so enforced, that you were sent to work as a miner simply because you were built that way. Megatron could be seen as a freedom fighter, at least in the beginning; a type of Julius Caesar that took control with the intent to better Cybertronian society. He was so bent on making things better, that his followers were then drunk on thoughts of power that they became corrupted, and thus Megatron was now under pressure to give them power. In this issue, we see that that power has destroyed the Decepticons, and they are reduced to eking out a life on a baron asteroid, with Megatron’s once great vision now in shambles.
Megatron’s views on Starscream and his position of power are also interesting. Starscream’s fixation with the Matrix of Leadership has made him drunk with dreams of change, yet unwilling to carry any of them out… kind of like me with these reviews. I think Starscream’s claim to the Matrix gave him the delusion that he was worth something in lieu of being Megatron’s number two. And Megatron recognizes that Starscream has great potential; that’s why he’s kept Starscream around despite his duplicity. I think it interesting that Megatron would criticize the humans, now in alliance with Optimus’ team on Earth, as ruling through fear and treachery, while at the same time saying that being deceptive is why the Decepticons will win.
Megatron’s final comments about how Optimus is actually surrendering rather than gaining ground by making this alliance with the humans is telling of how Megatron will use any means, exploit any weakness, making him somewhat of a coward himself. I think the point I’m trying to make here is that Megatron, while being seen as a tragic hero by some, could also be seen as a heretic, preaching honor and glory, while denouncing duplicity while practicing it himself. I think that this ties in very nicely with Optimus’ story from last weak, where Optimus found out about his lineage’s practice of deception and sought to better himself and his faction and distance himself from that, whereas here, Megatron embraces it and uses it to its fullest advantage.
             I would give this issue a hearty stamp of “Must Read” because I think that this is a key issue in understanding the Decepticons and their motives, as well as being a great look inside Megatron’s head. Where Optimus’ Spotlight struggled with pacing and introducing yet not expanding on its themes, “All His Engines” carries weight and utilizes all of Megatron’s comments to their fullest, backing them up not by more telling us things, but by showing us his views in the form of the human’s duplicity in conversation and Starscream’s ambition and fiddling with the Matrix. Next time, we’ll take a look at how the Autobots function on Earth in “Revenge of the Decepticons”.

May 29, 2013

Day 4


Look what came in the mail today! I'll be done with this in the next three to five years!


My summer reading (and yes, I am only 100 pages away from finishing Game of Thrones, no need to point it out).

Okay, so today was pretty exciting, as far as days of summer with nothing to do go! First, I'm posting from my computer today, so this post might be longer...
Anyway, I hung back up the majority of my pictures in my room, as we had to take all the pictures on the walls in our house down two weeks ago because we had a new roof installed (yay!) and yes, only now am I putting mine back up. So I did that, but then one of the pictures fell down and the frame broke! And the shattering was like one of those movies where the guy flies through the window; the glass made that exact same shattering noise! It was quite frightening.
After that, I worked a little bit on my fictional universe (it doesn't have a name yet), and then spent the rest of the day playing the violin and working out the kinks in my transcription of my Star Trek Medley! So that was fun.
Sadly, found out today that the cruise that my family and I were supposed to go on has been canceled due to a fire that broke out on the last ship before ours, so now they're suspending all the rest of the cruises for the summer! That sucks. But, at least I still get to fly out there and see my family, so that's still good!
Tomorrow will be more SAT work, getting down to business on finishing Game of Thrones, and maybe even perhaps considering working on the next review that I haven't even started despite my promises to you all that it would be up soon... sorry! :)
Oh, and happy birthday, Tony Stark!

May 28, 2013

Day 3

My new Buffy book! Coupled with my Star Trek and History book, this will make awesome Senior Thesis reading!
So yeah, that came today, which I'm super pumped about. I've already read like half of it (it's a pretty short read), and I love the essays! There's one essay that's written as if it were a demon SAT test essay! Then it has comments by two other evil demon teachers and The First Evil! It's really funny!
Spent most of the day lounging about, watching random videos on YouTube and such. Had to do a few sections of the practice SAT in perpetuation for this Saturday, so yippy! (Not!) I did get my Star Trek Medley transcribed and onto paper. It still has a lot of work still to be done on it (there's a measure that's in 15/8 time! Gonna try to clean that up!) and some rhythm stuff. I'm happy it's out of my head though!
Practiced the violin and read some comics. The next IDW Transformers review will be up soon, promise!

May 27, 2013

Day 2

Yep! That's the contents of our garage in the kitchen! Why is all this stuff in here? Because we're getting a new garage floor put in! Yay us. This of course means that we need to move all the crap that we barely use out of the convenient shunning space and into the light of our home. It's very dusty!
Today was a morning of garage cleaning and an afternoon of violin practicing! I rehearsed Lindsey Stirling's Phantom of the Opera Medley with a friend of mine and it sounded pretty good! We came to the consensus that we needed a pianist and a bassist, so he and I immediately began contacting our friends for backup. As my Mom says, it's great that we can just up and call someone about musical performance! To have that kind of reliability is really cool!
After that, I went to my violin lesson (which was scheduled for tomorrow, but had to be moved to today due to scheduling conflicts on my teacher's end), and I practiced more Phantom! Woot! My teacher wasn't in the mood for fishing me my Mozart concerto today, so we worked on Phantom instead!
So, today was a mellow day with violin playing galore! I even managed to begin scoring my second movie soundtrack today! Tomorrow should be a day of doing nothing... but I'll still be doing a blog post!

May 26, 2013

Day 1

My MarvelLegends Mark 42 Iron Man figure! Super accurate to the screen, and just an overall badass action figure!
Yep! I'm going to try to do the 365 day blog challenge! Actually, I just want to see if I can write every day, so here goes!
So, I went with my Mom to pick up some sneakers for myself and some dresses for her for the cruise! Well, they didn't have shoes that I wanted in my size, so my tagging along was kinda pointless! Still, I went to the postoffice and was able to take the picture of the day, so that was cool!
After that, we had a late lunch/early dinner, came home, and watched Silver Linings Playbook! I had not seen it before, and I must say, it was amazing! Loved the romcom mixed with serious issues and situations theme, and the acting was great! Had I seen this in 2012, it probably would have made my Top 10 list!
Tomorrow should be fun, as I'm rehearsing Lindsey Stirling's Phantom Medley with a friend of mine! Should be cool! 

May 25, 2013

V's Speech From "V For Vendetta" In Latin!

Why did I decide to translate V's famous aliteration-filled speech into Latin? Because I wanted to. No one put me up to this, no one requested me to do this, I just wanted to do it myself. Some of the aliteration is gone in the translation, just because words like "vaudevillian" and "bygone" do not exist in classical Latin. And yes, I am just using classical Latin words and format, because that's the Latin I learned. That's why direct cognates for certain words won't do in my translation, because some of them are from medieval Latin. Anyway, here it is. Hope you enjoy!
English version:
Voilá! In view, a humble vaudevillian veteran, cast vicariously as both victim and villain by the vicissitudes of fate. This visage, no mere veneer of vanity, is a vestige of the vox populi, now vacant  vanished. However, this valorous visitation of a bygone vexation stands vivified, and has vowed to vanquish these venal and virulent vermin vanguarding vice and vouchsafing the violently vicious and voracious violation of volition! The only verdict is vengeance; a vendetta held as a virtue not in vain, for the value and veracity of such shall one day vindicate the vigilant and the virtuous. Verily, this vichyssoise of verbage veers most verbose, so let me simply add that it is my very good honor to meet you and you may call me V.
Latin translation:
Ecce! In conspectu, mimus veteranus humilis, in loco inductus et victimae et scelerati vicissitudinibus fati. Hic vultus, non modo tegumen vanitatis, vestigium est vocis populi, nunc vacantis, dilapsae. Hoc autem simulacrum forte vexationis praeteriti animatum stat, et vincere vovit has venales virulantasque pestes antecurrentes vitium et parantes violationem voluntatis violente vitiosam varacemque! Iudicium solum est vindicta; vindicatio habita quasi virtus, non in varum nam huius aestimatio veritasque dim vigilentes probosque vindicabunt. Certe, hoc vippicense verborum vertit maxime verbose, itaque permitte me mere addere meum esse optimum honorem te occurrere et tibi licet me nominare U.
So, there you go! Hope I didn't make any mistakes!

May 23, 2013

Shadowcon Reviews- Spotlight: Optimus Prime


Shadowcon Reviews: IDW Transformers Spotlight: Optimus Prime

So here we are, nearly a month after posting my last review, and now launching full throttle into summer! My focus this summer for these reviews is obviously the Transformers IDW comic book universe. Like my later Prime reviews, these will focus on art and character analysis, rather than a synopsis of the story, as that takes up time that could be better spent pontificating about how badass a character is! Also, these won’t utilize my usual grading scale that I normally employ. Instead, these comics will get a stamp of “Must Read”, “Recommended”, or “Avoid”. Those may be broad, but I just want to shake things up, and we’ll see how it goes from there!
I’ve been putting off looking at the IDW Transformers title for two reasons. First, I don’t know how good I will be at reviewing a comic book; there’s only so much space in its pages for in-depth character study, and with comics now using more and more space for large battles or onomatopoeia, the dialogue is usually sparse. It also doesn’t help that, unlike individual episodes a television series, individual comic books are about a sixth of a forty-minute show, or a third of a twenty-minute show, so the stand-alone issues will be very hard to look at, without feeling like I’ve been cheated or I myself am missing something in my analysis of the issue. Also, imagery is a huge part of a comic, and being that these are text-based reviews, I’m not sure how well my point will come across if the art is a key factor in making my point clear. So, the format and structure and tight space in a comic presents me with unique challenges that I will hopefully work around as this wagon gets going.
Second, the IDW Transformers series is huge. I mean, it’s massive. There are about a hundred different characters running around, and that’s only the ones who have gotten individual issues devoted to them, or have had substantial roles in a series; there are about a hundred more characters who have been drawn from Transformers fictions from all over the place, and those guys get bit parts here and there. The plots are interweaving and multi-faced, the motives for characters are always changing (sometime very inconsistently), and the teams and roster of the “main cast” is always shifting around. You’ll have a solid arc that comes out, and then a year later, you’ll have a one-shot that fills in plot points that were left dangling from that one out of oh-so-many story that you didn’t even realize were left, because you’d just finished another huge story!
So, obviously, covering the entirety of the IDW Transformers story would be implausible for me to do even in an Overview, and even if I were to get that done, there would be the question of where I should stop and how much information I should leave out to get the general story across. Luckily, Transformers tend to have “phases” that allow a reader to jump off or on at a clearly defined point, which is nice; often times in comics, particularly Marvel or DC comics, you’ll have an arc that is only six or seven issues long for one book, but then it’ll tie into half a dozen other titles that are necessary to read if you are to understand the full scope of the story, and the implications of that story are need-to-know info to get going with the next story. The IDW Transformers does that, but not to the degree that Marvel does; luckily, the IDW Transformers also don’t just up and reboot their continuity every week like DC does either, so they sit relatively happily in the middle of continuity soup!
The issue that we’ll be looking at today, though (for fear of turning this review into my IDW Overview; I actually erased and moved three pages of text from this review into my Overview just because I was getting so off point), is Transformers Spotlight: Optimus Prime. This Spotlight attempts to focus on Optimus dealing with his legacy as Prime, and how the lineage of the Primes is actually pretty corrupt. I like this take on Optimus. He’s the leader of an army that is supposed to stand for truth and freedom, and yet those who came before him were just bent on expansion and conquest.
The point that the comic attempts to make is that Optimus isn’t comfortable with everyone playing god with other civilizations. This is interesting, because both Optimus and Megatron do the same thing; they dictate which worlds would be suitable to conquer or occupy, while giving little to no thought to the matter of the local populace. So Optimus’ actions could be seen as ironic when he questions his role as Prime, or indeed, Optimus himself could be considered a heretic by some who know of the Prime lineage’s major screw ups and see Optimus performing the same thing. Optimus preaches peace and freedom, yet is powerful enough to dictate who lives and dies.
On the flip side, we have the revelation that Optimus’ people are, in fact, also somewhat in league, or at least align their actions with, those of Nova Prime’s. Omega Supreme, whom Optimus sees as the only person that he can talk to about his burden of safeguarding a universe and managing a war, is actually morally grey. While his sanctioning of the banishment of Monstructor to a hell dimension would seem okay in the eyes of most Transformers fans, being that Monstructor in the past has always been a Decepticon, here, he’s treated as six people who unwillingly had their consciousness’ merged into a single mad one, and Optimus of course would and does find it morally detestable that Omega Supreme would make such a decision without first talking it over with Optimus.
In the end, Optimus overrides Omega’s decision, and instead orders that Monstructor be taken back to a penitentiary where he would be able to receive help. I think it also neat that not a few pages earlier, we saw Optimus defend Omega from Monstructor, yet now seeks to help the savage. Optimus is painted as a morally “right” figure, which is interesting because his lineage is presented as morally “wrong”, and we see Optimus performing similar actions to those of his predecessors. Yet, I don’t think that this is bad character management. Rather, I think that we are supposed to infer that Optimus is seeking to atone for his processors’ actions by keeping his moral compass in line with good while still trying to practice the ideas of the other Primes and showing the universe that their application can be for good and not for corruption.
             I would give this comic a stamp of “Recommended”. It definitely has some large topics and moral questions within its pages, but I think it fails to utilize all of their potential; we have to have room for our obligatory action sequence after all! Optimus as a character is given some much-needed dimension, which we will continue to see throughout this summer’s look at the Transformers IDW series! So, what do you guys think of this review style? Do you like my analysis, do you like how these are constructed (I know this one is pretty short; most of the Spotlight reviews will be)? Leave a comment and let me know what you think!

May 22, 2013

Catch-Up

Summer's here! Thank God!!!
Stuff has been happening in the month of May! I saw Iron Man 3, and I loved it! I was awarded the Salman History Award at my school's awards ceremony, and that was a shock! I played my Star Trek Medley, which I thought went quite well. Then I saw Star Trek Into Darkness, and I hated it! I got done with finals, which I'm so happy about! And I got into AYS, which I just found out about today!
So, May was big! Like, really big for me! Seeing Iron Man 3 was such a treat! I was so impressed by how much of the story stayed true to the characters and how it didn't veer all over the place like Iron Man 2. I loved the suits and the effects, the action and the drama, and I just had such a good time!
Next, I played my Star Trek Medley, which you can listen to here! This was a medley that I wrote based on the various Star Trek themes! I think I played it pretty well; the static that you here towards the beginning while I'm playing isn't feedback (I thought it was too, at first), but it's actually just the landscaping people blowing dirt outside... my school's weird! Anyway, that was really fun.
Then I received my Salman History Award, which was a huge honor and shock! I had never received an award before, so this was a nice surprise. My history teacher gave me a book as a gift. It's Star Trek and History, which explores the aspects of Trek that may have been drawn from historical figures or events, and looks at Trek as a cultural phenomenon. It should be a great read.


To complete the Star Trek trilogy week, I saw Star Trek Into Darkness. I'll not go into details here, but suffice it to say, they ruined their shot at greatness. I was so close to walking out of the theatre by the last third of the film, and would have, had I not been seeing it with some friends of mine. It was not a good treatment of Star Trek, and this is coming from someone who liked the first Abrams Star Trek.
I've finished finals, and moreover, I've finished Junior year of high-school! Yay. I had such fun this year; I think I developed the most as a writer this year, with my Junior Thesis and English class. I loved that English class, though! I read some of the best literature in there, like The Things They Carried, Dew Breaker, Huck Finn, The Sound and the Fury, and of course, The Great Gatsby! All of these were either good or fantastic, and Things They Carried and Great Gatsby have both made it to my top 10 books list!
Finally, I made it into AYS (Albuquerque Youth Symphony)! Though I'm second violin, I shouldn't complain, as I completely skipped over first violin of AYO, the lower orchestra, of which I was second violin this year! That's a pretty big leap, all things considered! I was so surprised when I found out, and that just put the icing on the cake of awesome (and slight anger) that was the month of May!
That is, of course, only what's been going on with me. I'm sure many of you know that Lindsey Stirling's come out with her Halo Medley, though it's interesting in that there are two versions of the video, yet neither of them are on her channel, and one of them's been taken down for unknown reasons. Maybe there will be a third version that she'll upload, like she did with Mission Impossible? I don't know, but you can check out the remaining video here! Her Final Fantasy Medley should come out tomorrow or Friday, which I'm really really reeeaaallly looking forward to!!! *UPDATE: Lindsey now has her own version up! Check it out here! -ed
So, what's on the docket for summer? Well, I've got my IDW Transformers reviews scheduled, though I still only have one definite issue that I know I'll be reviewing. Look forward to those. I also plan on getting a ton of reading done over the summer. I plan to plow ahead in Ice and Fire, read Star Trek and History, and of course take a look back at the Transformers comics... y'know, I kinda need those if I'm to do reviews of them! I'll also be doing the Mark O'Connor camp again, which I'm really looking forward to, and plan on writing Mayhem 3B, which will be a companion piece to Arcee Mayhem 3, focussing on Optimus Prime and his perspective of the moral dilemma! That should be fun to write, and I hope you all enjoy that. There are three movies that I'm now looking forward to: Man of Steel, Elysium, and World War Z! Those should be good... I hope Man of Steel is good for sure! So that's it from me! Hope you stuck with me through this rambly post. Stay tuned, summer's here, and that means lax schedules and broken promises for this blog returns! Yay...

May 1, 2013

Hello

So, I hope you all made it over here to the new site! I've been posting just some random stuff since I moved over here myself about half a month ago. As you can see, I have all of my Reviews and Overviews up, as well as some of my Stuff That I Like posts.
Reviews will be coming back this summer, beginning with a look at the IDW Transformers comics series! We'll be looking at individual issues first, and then there might be an Overview covering the whole series up to the Chaos arc in the Fall! It should be exciting. Thank you all for sticking with me, and thanks for putting up with the transfer.