Friday, February 27, 2015

Peace And Long Life: Remembering Leonard Nimoy

It's the hardest part of growing into an adult -- watching bits of your childhood remind you that time continues to march onwards. Neighborhood stores close, things shut down, authors stop writing, places in which you spent your childhood get knocked down or remodeled. Whether you're ready for it or not, sometimes life will take a moment to remind you that it goes on.

For millions of people who grew up watching Star Trek, one of those moments arrived this morning with the news that Leonard Nimoy, best known as the series' iconic Mr. Spock, had passed of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and a part of our childhood, perhaps, went with him.

Episode 140: Jarys' Alien Story

The Ace of Geeks come to you this week from the motel room Jarys and Melissa are using to hide from the Terminator! We'll discuss the things that broke the internet this week, like the Power/Rangers fan film. Plus! Mike and Mae Linh try and convince Jarys to see Kingsman! We review

Episode 140! the Agent Carter season finale! And much more!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

DC Eyeing Teamup Series at the CW

Deadline is reporting that the CW and Warner Bros. Television are in development of another spinoff in the Arrow and Flash universe. The idea behind the project seems to be a superhero team-up show in the vein of The Brave and the Bold (the comics version, not the awesome-but-silly Batman cartoon). Announced to star were series veterans Brandon Routh (The Atom), Victor Garber (Firestorm) Wentworth Miller (Captain Cold), and Caity Lotz (Black Canary).

Some thoughts, with major Arrow and Flash spoilers in them, after the jump.

The Return of Battle Chasers

Joe Maduriera's beloved and often-delayed property that made him a comics superstar in the 90s is making a return as both a video game and a new comic book, Polygon revealed today. Not many details were revealed, other than the game would be a roleplaying game that allowed you to play as classic Battle Chaser characters, and that the comics would appear in three issue arcs, the first one tying up the cliffhanger from fourteen years ago. There's no funding or publisher for the game or comic in place yet, so maybe take this whole thing with a grain of salt, but it'd be nice to see the property return from the dead. Check out some concept art below the jump.

I Really Wanted To Like Kingsmen...

I truly wanted to like Kingsmen. Adapted from a comic by writer Mark Millar (Kickass, Civil War) and directed by Matthew Vaughn (Kickass, X-Men: First Class) it looked like the comic book action flick I've been dying for this winter. True, the movie had gadgets, eccentric villains, an unlikely hero and a secret society... but when it all came together not only did it fall flat, it made me feel gross for watching it.
Why do all the "best" assassins have a thigh gap these days...

Kingsman: The Secret Service, A New Template for the Spy Genre

Is it me, or has the spy genre of films been feeling stayed and dull for the past few years? Whether it was Jason Bourne, or Daniel Craig's Bond, I have found myself loosing interest based on the formulaic path they follow. The only film to draw me out previously was the 2011 film adaptation of John le Carré's book Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (and this was not near as good as the 1979 TV miniseries done by the BBC). However, the new film Kingsman: The Secret Service, breathes new life into the spy genre bringing excellent cinematography, comedy, social cometary and class struggles along with the prerequisite action sequences and beautiful women.

The Perfect Cocktail: Stock Spy Story blended with Topical Current Events, and Comedy (Beware of Spoilers!)
Spy films are all about betrayal, global crisis, action, and occasionally character study (in the case of the recent Bond reboot). Kingsman manages to maintain the basics of the spy genre while evading campy pitfalls by creating an ugly duckling/redemption story that questions Britian's issues with class as well as global issues of the health of the planet. The basic premise is this: Colin Firth, a Kingsman agent known as Harry Hart/Galahad, attempts to repay a life debt to Gary "Eggsy" Unwin by bringing Eggsy into the Kingsman Agency. Eggsy's dad, it turns out, was a former Kingsman trainee who died protecting Galahad. During the boy's evaluation it soon becomes clear that a global threat is imminent as celebrities and dignitaries begin to disappear, and a technology mogul named Valentine, played by Samuel L. Jackson, releases a new sim card that gives free wifi and calls to everyone around the globe. Basic spy film story right? What I found more exciting was the deeper elements of the story dealing with class and the problems our planet is facing.

Britain has always struggled with issues of class. It seems that the lines have been firmly drawn in British society while still remaining permeable to those who strive to improve their lot. Despite those efforts however it seems engrained (at least in British fiction) that there are those in the gentry and elite of Britain that still think themselves superior to the common man by stint of their birth. This is the plot line that drives the  Harry/Eggsy plotline. Apparently, Kingsman agents had always been "gentleman" implying that their ranks were filled from the members of the landed elite and gentry classes. This is also emulated in the cover profession of Kingsman agents, elite Savile Row tailors. Harry's mantra is "manners maketh man" and it is Harry's "controversial" belief that Kingsman should start to recruit out of the wider population of Britain rather than sticking to the old class structures. That is why Harry first recruited Eggsy's father, and the bravery and self sacrifice made by Eggsy's father only cements that choice. In the beginning of the film, Eggsy struggles with his lot in life, displaying a sense of honor and morality as well as a thirst to prove himself when dealing with his social equals. This sets him apart and makes him a somewhat prickly person to deal with as he chooses to stand on his principles rather than bow his head to a threat. When brought to the training facility, Eggsy struggles not only to fit in amongst his "social betters" but has to deal with their taunts and provocations, while not fighting back. In recent years this has been a prominent issue in British social discussions, as class tensions are running high with the increase in economic constraints around Europe.

Another argument of class struggle is the villain Valentine's social engineering element to his evil scheme. Throughout the early stages of the film there are rumors of celebrities, dignitaries, and world leaders disappearing from all over the globe. At the same time politicians are running about claiming that every resource within their power is being expended to finding people. Valentine, who to the world at large appears to be an eccentric genius/technology mogul/philanthropist releases a new cell phone sim card that give free access for calls and wireless access to everyone all over the globe. What is the point to all this you ask? The sim cards are weapons, a neural augmentation device that triggers hyper aggression in people when broadcasting on a specific frequency controlled by Valentine. Valentine's kidnapping and recruiting of world leaders separated the wealth, intelligent, and elite from the masses that were consigned to die at the whim of Valentine. All of Valentine's allies were implanted with a chip of their own behind their right ear that protects them from the signal the phones broadcast, but at the same time acts as a remote monitoring device that allows valentine to super heat the tissues of the brain, causing them to explode should an ally be caught and compromised.  This dividing the "elite" from the masses is a throwback to the eugenics philosophies of the late Victorian era, and continued to thrive in certain circles through WWII.  Furthermore, Valentine's conceit displays a general disregard for human life based on birth, economic value, and talent choosing only to preserve those he deems worthy in his eyes.

Valentine's plot also ties into our real world problem of over population, pollution/climate change, the failure of Environmental reforms, and the seeming lack of will to change facing destruction at our own hands. Valentine takes what I like to refer to as the "Agent Smith" theory to humanity. Agent Smith of the Matrix, posits the idea that the pattern of human expansion and population growth is reminiscent of how viruses and bacteria spread in a body. The idea is that humans, like viruses, move into an area, expand until the population is not sustainable in that area and then move on to a new area. In the case of viruses this means the destruction of the host cell and the corruption of other cell,  for humans it means never ending growth and expansion. Valentine is somewhat driven by an altruistic goal, as well as the frustration of watching failed attempts to stave off the death of the globe. In his opinion, humans at large have proven themselves incapable of changing and saving the planet from destruction. He describes his situation as being a doctor and offered 2 choices do nothing and let the host (earth die) or kill the virus (humanity) and save the host. Valentine's solution is save the earth from humanity and preserve the "best" examples of human society, while causing the rest of the human population to engage in rage driven self slaughter until population levels reach a sustainable level for the earth to support.

Within these dark depths of evil plotting the film contains tongue in cheek comedy that pokes fun at the spy genre, garnering laughs from the audience while still taking itself somewhat seriously. One such element is the occasional reference to traditional spy film story arc. At one point Harry and Valentine are squaring off talking about films and they talk about spy movies. Valentine wishes to be the hero where as Harry acting under cover confesses to wishing to be a Bond like villain. There are other opportunities like this where the writers and film maker acknowledge the normal tropes and cheekily poke fun at them while paying them homage. There are gadgets galore in this film including a bullet proof umbrella that can shoot lethal and non lethal ammo of its own. Eggsy even gets to have some time alone with a beautiful woman after saving the world. There are plenty of other comedic moments through the film that will leave audiences gripping their sides in search of relief, many of them are supplied by Samuel L. Jackson's eccentric character Valentine who hates the sight of blood but is hell bent on destroying the human population.

While I was excited for the trailer when I first saw it, I did not realize my opinion of the finished product would change from my preconceived notion. I expected to see a spy thriller in the same vein as the older James Bond films. However I walked out of the theater happily surprised by the intelligence and wit that was contained in the film. This project could easily have fallen flat had there been an imbalance in the film. Yet the final product has the right mix of action, suspense, comedy and social commentary that created something fresh. I'm not suggesting that the Bond franchise should change, or if another Bourne film were made that it should deviate from what has been established. Rather, I am excited to see this new format of spy film and hope that more writers and directors are willing to take the risk to put a new twist on a favorite drink so to speak.

David is a local historian, techie, home brewer, stage hand, gamer and geek. He loves Star Wars and Shakespeare with equal passions and is prone to quoting it at random!

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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

A Return to the Blood and Sand of the Arena

NEWS FLASH! Stop the presses and everyone come to a screeching halt, for I come bearing news of great import for all! Australia, the home of great things like Gary the Goat, Aussie Rules Football, and Rugby, is bringing back the greatest physical contest of them all. That's right ladies and gentlemen, we are going back to the arena! "David, what arena are you talking about?" you may very well ask. Well fair citizens, I speak of the Arena, as in a return to the Colosseum of Rome. That's right we are returning to gladiatorial combat. A group called Unified Weapons Master (UWM) is pioneering this return to one of Europe's oldest blood sport.

However, this reboot of gladiatorial combat does not herald a complete return to our bloody past. All competitors will be wearing cutting edge carbon fiber suites called "Lorica," which means body armor in Latin. This new Lorica will have a carbon fiber exterior for protection from penetration, with absorbent materials underneath to absorb the impact of blows. The weapons themselves will also be made of carbon fiber and will be made to mimic the real thing. The general idea is to bring weapons disciplines from across the globe into an arena an have them duke it out to see who comes out on top. According to the article from,  many practitioners of European weapons schools are chomping at the bit to square off against Asian weapons based martial arts. Oddly this seems like a real life and practical version of the simulations that Spike TV's Deadliest Warrior would run.

UWM admits that they have a long road ahead of them before the sport really begins to take off. While they have the suit designed and some weapons made, there is no real lengthly fight schedule set. The first few fights are to take place early sometime this year and in small private capacity. This is hopefully going to generate more interest for the sport and draw a wider audience as well as proving as  a proof of concept test for the group to their audience. As a historian, I am positively geeking out on the possiblity of seeing a revival of old Roman combat styles as well as seeing later Medieval combat schools square off against Japanese and Chinese weapon based styles. While I have no predictions as to whom will beat out whom, I would honestly like to see the European schools win out as the virtues of Asian martial arts are well documented and publicized. We at the Ace of Geeks will keep our vigilant ears to the ground on this story and publish any updates as soon as possible.

David is a local historian, techie, home brewer, stage hand, gamer, and geek. He loves Star Wars and Shakespeare with equal passions and is prone to quoting it at random!

Matt Fraction and Kelly Sue DeConnick to Adapt Sex Criminals for TV!

Man, just writing that title probably got me put on a list somewhere.

Kelly Sue DeConnick and Matt Fraction, two of the most popular writers in comic books today (Matt is responsible for the aforementioned Sex Criminals, as well as AvX, Five Fists of Science, and the currently amazing Hawkeye, while DeConnick rebooted Captain Marvel to incredible success and writes the fantastic Bitch Planet), are teaming up with Universal TV to bring some of their independent projects and some original ideas to television. The first announced project is Sex Criminals, which has been a critical darling on the comic circuit for months now.

The book follows the story of Jon and Suzie, two people who have the power to stop time when they orgasm. What sounds like a setup for a bad porn goes on wild twists and turns and becomes an incredible comic book that you should really be reading right now.

No word on when or on what network we'll see the show (I can't imagine it'll be NBC), but watch this space for more details.

What the Gritty Power/Rangers Film Can Teach Us

Yesterday morning, I sat down at my desk to put up the daily Ace of Geeks article, and turned on my Facebook to publish it. I was immediately inundated by friends sharing, discussing, and telling me that I absolutely needed to see the Power Rangers fanfilm that had just broke the internet in half. As a major Power Rangers fan, I was pretty excited to check it out. And I did. And I....liked it? There's a lot to say about this particular piece of viral content, and in order for me to do so, you're going to need some background.

New DuckTales Coming in 2017!

As posted by the Oh My Disney! blog, it's time to get out your board shorts and dive into a pool full of gold, because DuckTales is coming back to television as an all-new series on Disney XD!

For those that have missed the adventurous tales of Huey, Dewey, Louie, and Scrooge McDuck (as well as Donald and many a faithful family member and companion) this news seems almost too good to be true, but there it is: the return of longtime favorites like Launchpad, Webbigail, and Duckworth, among many others.

2017 has never seemed so far away - if you need us, we'll be spending the next two years humming the theme song under our breath.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Pee Wee Herman Gets a New Film on Netflix!

It's been rumored for a while, but now it's confirmed: Pee Wee Herman is getting a new movie, produced by Judd Apatow, and it's heading straight to Netflix. The film will have a good comedy pedegree, with a script by Paul Reubens and Paul Rust (Arrested Development), and a first-time director in John Lee, who's previously directed episodes of Broad City and Inside Amy Schumer. The film goes into production next month, and we'll get you more details as we hear them.

Heimdall, Peggy Carter and the Falcon confirmed for Age of Ultron

The increasingly tangled web that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe to come appears to be weaving even tighter with the release of the latest poster for the upcoming Avengers: Age of Ultron movie.
As reported by the upcoming Avengers sequel will feature three names well-known to MCU followers but not previously thought to be in the movie: Anthony Mackie, Hayley Atwell, and Idris Elba.

Atwell, of course, is immediately familiar from the fantastic and recently-completed Agent Carter series; though Atwell has made and will make her share of flashback appearances in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the upcoming Ant-Man movie, her appearance in the Age of Ultron cast raises the question of whether she will be one more flashback for Cap and the Avengers or, as the article posits, perhaps a confirmation of rumors of time travel.

With the recent news that Spider-Man will now likely be added into the cast of Captain America: Civil War, the likelihood of movies being hastily tweaked and edited as new opportunities become available isn't out of the question -- and the hugely popular Atwell, coming off the acclaim of Agent Carter, could be another such move.

Mackie, on the other hand, comes off his appearance in Winter Soldier as the very-much-modern Falcon, Captain America's close comrade Sam Wilson. Though Mackie wasn't originally slated to appear in Ultron, rumors have him making a brief cameo; Wilson has always been an engaging character, and as the current bearer of Cap's shield in the Marvel Universe on paper, the more we get of him in the MCU, the better.

Idris Elba has previously been seen as Heimdall, guardian of Bifrost, but revealed his appearance in Age of Ultron as recently as a November interview with the Telegraph. Though rumors sometimes have it that Elba seems to depart the MCU, it's hard to imagine the former star of the BBC's Luther doing anything but good when added to a movie. The extent and prominence of his role is still unknown.

Hayley Atwell, Anthony Mackie, and Idris Elba -- it's difficult to imagine what it must be like being a director for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with this kind of talent to pull from at any given crossover moment.

Damned if it isn't fun to watch, though.

Swatting and the Dark Side of Being a Gamer

A Swat Raid appears on the stream of Jordan "Kootra" Mathewson
Being a "gamer" used to be a simple thing. You'd log into your various online persona, play for a few hours, gloat as victor and inevitably bitch when you lost. Yet we have come upon complicated times, in this day of live streaming matches via Twitch, YouTube, and other venues has brought about a troubling incident. I speak of the rise in the trend of players "swatting" other players. The most recent incident, involved the swatting of  "koopatroopa787" better known as  Joshua Peters of Minnesota. Peters was live streaming a session of Runescape when ten police officers raided the home where Peters, his little brother, and mother all live. Peters is a Air Force veteran who is also an avid gamer and known for his broadcasts via Twitch. Thankfully the officers were well disciplined and after Peters explained that he was live-streaming a game and was probably being "swatted" the attending officer's attitudes quickly changed and no one was hurt. However since the incident it has been reported that Peter's 10 year old brother has since been suffering from nightmares and has frequent migraines.

According to the an article from 2009 on the FBI's website, the phenomena started in 2008 with phone hackers obtaining personal information and then calling the police attempting to convince them to send out a SWAT team, or some kind of armed response team to a innocent home. More recently swatting events have been targeted at specific players or live streamers. The usual reason, especially if the game involves a first person shooter, has to do with frustration directed at a particular player.

In one incident in Colorado in 2014, Jordan "Kootra" Mathewson was also swatted. Mathewson started the streaming group called The Creatures, and was detained while streaming Counter Strike: Global Offensive. Kootra was waiting for a match to begin when he heard loud voices and bangs coming down the hall from where he was playing. In a video captured via his stream he announced that he might be at the receiving end of a swatting attack. Several police officers enter the room moments later and detain Kootra. After being searched and asked whats going on, he explains that he is streaming a video game match. The officers then realize that they are being filmed and shut down the feed. Adding insult to injury the schools near the building police raided were also evacuated. While no one was hurt during this raid, there was still a massive waste of police resources as well as dangerous for all involved.

Kotaku (the source for the previous story) posted a swatting related article on January 13th of this year. This article was a recounting of the swatting of a couple who streamed game sessions together. The couples names are Max and Victoria Zeisberg, they have three kids and they live in Tennessee. The event occurred on on a Friday night while couple were streaming their Call Of Duty sessions to a particularly large audience. This is not to say that the Zeisberg's are a popular streaming personality, rather a few dozen people. That particular evening the chat room was livelier than normal, beginning with Mr. Zeisberg being called a Nazi by one viewer resulting in a ban. Comments in this vein continued and then references to Mr. Zeisberg's previous residency in Germany.  As these comments continued more ban's were being handed out. While this is going on, someone had found Mrs. Zeisberg's realty website was found and malicious calls were being made to the house. At some point someone had called the local police department. According to the police report the sergeant in charge at the scene.reported that a man identifying them self as "Max Ziegler" had called a non emergency line of police dispatch and had claimed to have killed his wife with an AR-15. SWAT and other police officers had been dispatched to the house and set up a perimeter while dispatch tried to keep "Ziegler" on the line and talk him down. To make matters worse, the caller claimed he knew where the police officers were stationed outside the house and said he would shoot anyone who entered his house.

Parallel to these events, the Zeisberg's were getting ready to call an end to the evening and put their kids to bed at 11:00 pm when viewers began to offer them money to keep streaming. Then one of their kids came downstairs and told them that the Police were outside. When they realized they had been swatted they managed to keep their cool but were still decidedly worried. Mrs. Zeisberg had the presence of mind to call 911 and inform dispatch who she and her husband were and that they believe that someone was pulling a prank, while Mr. Zeisberg told his kids to follow any instructions they were given if someone came upstairs. Thankfully, the event ended peacefully with the Zeisbergs leaving the house voluntarily, being handcuffed, having the house searched, guns being pointed at children and the police coming to the realization that the whole event was a hoax. The Zeisbergs still have no idea as to why they were singled out to be swatted but their ordeal has not stopped them streaming gaming sessions. After a brief halt to their sessions they began to stream again without acknowledging the previous event, claiming that they will continue to stream for the people who like watching them play and not be bothered by the "trolls" of the gaming world.

Thankfully, as this trend of pranks grows, policy makers are starting to take notice. In October, NBC 10 of Philadelphia posted an article with video to their website concerning a local swatting incident. This incident was similar to most and also was resolved with no injuries to the victims of the prank. New Jersey State Senator Paul Moriarty called for for harsh penalties for instigators of swatting incidents. Senator Moriarty planned on introducing a local law that would call for mandatory jail time as well a financial penalties. In the senator's mind "The penalty should be more severe and they should be required to pay for every dollar that was spent by the municipality to send these people out here."

I'm at a loss to understand this behavior. Perhaps I'm too mild a gamer, that I am not angered by defeat in digital combat. I never really complained when playing DOTA or DOTA 2 when I'd get my ass handed to me. Nor did I take any real offense when I got beaten by better Call of Duty players than myself. To me, if there is no life/death struggle or money on the line I'm not going to get terribly bent out of shape. It baffles the mind as to why people go around doxing and swatting people for what ever whim suits them. What seems like a harmless prank could turn dangerous and harmful to the target should the police over react; which seems more and more possible these days. That these "trolls" wreak with their pranks is a reflection of darkness hidden within our generation. Are we so driven to "win at all costs in all things" that we feel the need to punish those we scorn with grievous danger to fill some void in the soul? Sadly I have no answers to this question for the behavior is beyond my understanding. I ask those who read this to look inside themselves and seek their own answer to this question: Is it worth putting lives at risk for a prank?

David is a local historian, techie, home brewer, stage hand, gamer, and geek. He loves Star Wars and Shakespeare with equal passions and is prone to quoting it at random!


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Monday, February 23, 2015

"The Breakfast Club" 30th anniversary

One of John Hughes' most iconic 80's films turns the big three-oh this month! Originally released in February of 1985, The Breakfast Club is coming back to theaters for limited engagements on March 26th and March 31st. Screening with it will be a featurette with interviews from cast members Anthony Michael Hall, Judd Nelson, Ally Sheedy, and and John Kapelos as well as film makers Diablo Cody (Juno), Amy Heckerling (Clueless), and Michael Lehmann (Heathers). The Breakfast Club 30th Anniversary Edition will be released on Blu-ray and DVD on March 10th.

30 years ago, I was out of high school and still trying to piece my life back together after a traumatic event. I needed a distraction, so I went to a movie. A friend of mine was into John Hughes' films - "Pretty in Pink" was her favorite. She recommended I go see "The Breakfast Club" because she thought I would enjoy it. She was right. I enjoyed it... so much so that I bought tickets to the next three showings and just stayed in the theater, watching it over and over. 

When I left the theater, I had Simple Minds stuck in my head singing "Don't You (Forget About Me)" on a loop, and I decided to take a long walk instead of going directly home. I walked from the theater down the main drag along the beach, and stopped at the beach park across the street from the zoo. (The bonus about growing up in Hawaii is that everything is across the street from the beach.) I sat on the wall, and I felt like life had become so surreal. I had just watched a movie that could have been about my own high school life. And now I was gonna sit on a wall at the beach and reflect for a bit. I knew at least one of these characters personally. They all live inside my head, and I know at least one real person for every personality type represented in this movie.

So there we were in detention, with Principal Verne. A jaded, angry man. He once enjoyed his job as an educator but not anymore. He gives everyone a lecture with the rules - "no talking, no laughing, no sleeping." He gives them an essay assignment. He wants them to write an essay telling him who they think they are.

Brian Johnson was the "brain" of the group - the "neo-maxi-zoom-dweeb." He was probably the one most likely to have a comic book collection that included Action #1 in pristine, mint condition. He was also under a lot of academic pressure from his parents. This resulted in Brian's brief suicidal depression over a failed shop project, and he did something that landed him in Saturday detention.

Andy Clarke was the "sport" of the group. Back in the 80's (at my school, anyway), a "sport" was someone who was on the track, wrestling, or swim team. A "jock" was someone who was on the baseball, basketball or football team. In today's vernacular, they would all be "jocks" or just plain athletes. Andy was on the wrestling team, and his father put a lot of pressure on him to win. This resulted in an unfortunate peer pressure situation that Andy didn't handle well, and he ended up in Saturday detention as well. 

Claire Standish was one of the popular girls. Her parents were going through a messy divorce, and she was milking it for all she could get. A spoiled rich kid, she was in detention for skipping class to go shopping.

Allison Reynolds was the "weirdo." She made a pixie-stick and Cap'n Crunch sandwich (she may have added some Fritos in there too, I couldn't ever really tell, even after watching it four times in a row on the big screen and countless times on DVD) after tossing her lunch meat up in the air. Like the others, she also had issues - at one point she claimed to be a nymphomaniac. Nobody knew why she was actually in detention until later. 

John Bender was the delinquent. He was in detention working off a string of offenses, none of which were ever made clear. What was made clear ("Crys-taaalll!") was that he would be having 7 more weeks of it. He had a reputation as being the campus bully. It turned out that Bender's behavior was masking some pretty serious issues at home. At first the group didn't believe him when he said he was being abused. Then he showed them the scars.

The movie as a whole takes us through a day in detention for these kids. Andy and Claire already knew each other, they ran in the same social circles. Everyone knew who Bender was, he was the campus "waste-oid," the one all the burners would hang out with. Allison was the loner, and Brian hung out with the math club.

During the course of the movie, the kids get to know a little more about each other, albeit the hard way. They start by insulting and picking on each other. But, they have a common enemy in Principal Verne and they start covering for each other whenever Verne comes in to check on them. At one point, Verne asks if anyone has to go to the lavatory.

The group takes this opportunity to go to Bender's locker to get his stash. As they are trying to get back to the library undiscovered, they have to duck and hide several times as Verne is roaming the halls too. Bender stuffs his weed in Brian's pants, and takes off toward the gym to draw Verne away while the group gets back to the library. This works, and Bender is busted in the gym.

Verne locks him in a storage closet. He gets up into the ceiling, and crawls back to the library. When he crashes down through the ceiling tiles, Verne comes in to see what the ruckus was. Bender ducks under the table where Claire is sitting. They all pretend to not know what the ruckus was. When Verne leaves, Bender retrieves his stash from Brian.

The group bonds over Bender's weed, and they have a melancholy group heart-to-heart, during which Brian, Andy, and Allison reveal the reasons that they are in detention. Brian failed a shop project. Due to pressure from his parents, he felt a deep guilt over it. He brought a flare gun to school, but it was discovered when it went off in his locker. 

Andy was under pressure from his dad (a bully of a former athlete, trying to live vicariously through his son) to be a winner - be the popular guy, be the champion wrestler, be everything. He gave in to locker-room peer pressure and taped a hairy kid's ass cheeks together. He knew it was wrong to do it, and he is now contrite and has many regrets and feels much shame and remorse over it. Allison... simply had nothing better to do.

Brian asks if they will still be friends on Monday. Claire says she doesn't think so. She tries to justify her answer by attempting to explain how the campus social pecking order works, but the group isn't buying it. They all promise each other that they won't treat each other like how the rest of the school treats them - like freaks. 

That scene was probably the most emotionally painful scene of the whole movie for me, because the opportunity for them to lay it all on the table was there. The thing that hurt the most for me was that this kind of soul-baring moment did happen more than once for my group of friends (without the weed), and yet not a single one of us realized the significance of it. In fact it all just ended up being empty words. So my pain was for the loss of what I felt could have been truly defining moments, however fleeting, for my group of friends.

Bender crawls back to his storage closet, and Claire gives Allison a makeover. Then she goes to make out with Bender in the storage closet. By the end of the day, Allison and Andy have paired off as well. They have all talked Brian into writing a single essay for Verne from all of them, and it goes something like this:

Raven Knighte is an avid movie, TV, and cosplay fan.

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Saturday, February 21, 2015

How to Prep for Comic Con

Official logo courtesy of Comic Con International - trademark & copyright of CCI

Today is a very special day for self-appointed geeks and dorks (like myself) all around the world. You know what I'm talking about. That first day where we are each given the opportunity to vie for access to that magical item which grants us each safe passage between worlds. Not just ANY magical item. It's that Golden Ticket for which we will be permitted to access the chocolate factory of which every geek dreams. Yes, my friends, today is the very first day of Comic Con Registration. The online open registration went up today at 8:00am PST, and as usual sold out immediately - in fact, faster than ever before. Those fleeting comic con tickets bring to my attention the fact that not every geek has been fortunate enough to have completed this Odyssey. There is an entire generation of geeks and dorks everywhere who must be indoctrinated into the ways of Con. Like Athena appearing to Odysseus guiding him through his journey, that is where I appear to help introduce you to and prepare you for the comic con experience. Here are some tips and tricks I hope that newcomers (and oldcomers alike) will find helpful.

Photo Courtesy of Honolulu Pulse (Associated Press 2012)

If you've never been to con, then you've probably only seen it on television or the interweb. AceOfGeeks is probably one of the coolest ways to find out what you'll experience. Here's a shameless, I mean a cool video of my coverage of some of last year's ComicCon experience for AceOfGeeks - CLICK HERE.

Two words for you: BOOK AHEAD! Use GroupOn, use points, use friends and family discounts, use anything you can! Because the price for rooms during SDCC are often double the normal rate, or more, my personal recommendation (and favorite) is to stay with a local friend! I have a comic con buddy that I have been attending the con with for about 10 years. We always stay with his cousin and take public transportation over to the con. It saves us HUNDREDS and hundreds of dollars every year. So, trust me on this one and find a friend or family member to stay with, even if you don't like them. It will cut your costs down more than you can imagine, and besides, you won't see them much anyway. 

The schedule for Comic Con is beyond massive, and there is no way that you'll be able to see or do everything. I realize that most people are not as anal and weirdly methodical as i am. My scheduling process is usually pretty lengthy, and consists of multiple steps (which I will not bore you with). However, I highly recommend that you take some time and review the schedule at least a week in advance. This will give you the ability to properly plan so that you can see all the important things you desire. Just keep in mind a few things: 
  1. There are always lines for panels, and depending on the size of the panel, you could be in line for hours. (Or, in the case of Hall H, a full day.)
  2. If your panels or events are far apart, there is a commute time to take into consideration. 
  3. There will be a TON of things to do outside the con. You won't believe it. Just plan at least one day outside the'll see! 
  4. There are highlight events at con which are: The Eisner Awards, The Masquerade Ball, World Premiere screenings, Artist Talkbacks, and signings. You should keep an eye out for those. 
  5. Plan on attending parties. There will be tons now that Hollywood, whose population generally has absolutely no idea of anything about comic books, has come and ruined comic con...ooops, did I say that out loud?
  6. The convention floor is massive and during busy days (like Friday and especially Saturday) can take 30 minutes just to get across. You will NEVER be able to do everything on the convention floor. So plan on spreading it out over a few days. 
  7. You need to rest and eat at some point.
Last year's Warner Bros panel revealed the new Wonder Woman costume 
and her appearance in the Superman/Batman film. Photo courtesy of

"Leave room" should be your mantra. You are going to come home with a lot more than you left. You may not think you will, but trust me you will! Leave yourself tons of room and only take the essentials. When it comes to products, just remember that shampoo, conditioner, lotion, soap, etc. will all be provided by your hotel or be at your friend's house. It just takes up space and you don't need anything more than your toothbrush, deodorant, and full line of facial products (WHAT?!? I thought everyone used a full line of facial products?). 

There is a Ralph's grocery store in the gaslamp district. Since eating out can be incredibly costly and the food inside the convention center is beyond costly, hit Ralph's and stock up your hotel fridge or the fridge of your friend with whom you're staying, and pack your meals each day. You'll eat healthier and cheaper. 

Captain America eating on floor at NY Comic Con. Photo courtesy of

"Less is more" is the name of the game here. If I do a costume, I always do one that has a simple black base with add-ons or decals to go over. This way it doesn't take up much room in my suitcase and is easily interchangeable. Example: I can go from Nightwing to WonderMan to Batman Beyond and it will be like packing three costumes, but only taking up a small amount of space. In addition, I wear clothes that are often considered or double as cosplay. This is also a great way to pack costumes efficiently. 

Comic Con costume photos courtesy of The Advocate Magazine - 2014

Daniel Radcliff made a shocking appearance in by attending the con in costume in 2014.  
Photo courtesy of Twitter user @alongcameHolly5

Again, you don't need a lot here. Most people are just wearing jeans and T-Shirts. Matter of fact, that's pretty much the comic con uniform. There are a couple of things you need to take into consideration: 1) you're probably going to get free Tees and clothing when you get there, and 2) If you're like me, you're probably going to purchase t-shirts while you're there. Therefore, my recommendation is always to pack a few pair of socks, underwear, but only one pair of jeans, one pair of shorts, and the most comfortable pair of shoes you have (Because you'll be doing a ton of walking), a dress shirt for events. All of the free clothes you get and tees you buy will make up the rest of your trip. Oh, and this is also another reason to pack light. ;) 

Robert Downey Jr. dresses to impress in this photo courtesy of (2012)

Getting to San Diego can be easy if you're creative. Since I know that everyone and their grandmother is traveling at certain times, I either go at off times, or use creative/non-traditional modes of transport. For instance, my path is usually that I fly down to LA the day before preview day (on a ticket that I've purchased WAY in advance). This way I can spend time with friends and really ease into the idea of the con. Then I drive down early on preview day. Usually prior to the time that everyone has even begun thinking about arriving (early am is great). This gives me time to watch everything get set up and get acclimated/plan my weekend out. When moving around in San Diego during the con, I usually take the free shuttles provided in the Gaslamp district, or else I take public transportation. The public transportation system often gets me where I need to go faster than Lyft or Uber. Since the train is on it's own tracks/system, it can be especially helpful if you take the train during rush hour traffic jams. 

Photo of the Ecto-1 courtesy of ScreenCave & Sasha Perl-Raver (2010)

There you have it everyone. A few of my personal tips and tricks to making your comic con experience the best and most affordable it can be. Just to give you an idea of how affordable your comic con experience can be, one year I pulled out all the stops and: 
  • used points for my flight, 
  • stayed with a friend, 
  • got a comped badge through a company for which I had worked, 
  • bought food at Ralph's grocery store/packed my lunches, 
  • and used almost every free handout for stuff at the con. 
Even with the few things that I bought on the convention floor, I'll never forget that not only did my con buddy and I get to see each and every thing that we wanted to see, but I made it out of the con only spending $200 for the entire trip. It was a miracle, and I don't ever expect to get out of there spending that little money ever again. But it was proof that with a little planning and forethought, you really can have a fun and affordable comic con experience. I hope that this helps you all out even if in the smallest way. We geeks have to stick together. And if you can't make it to comic con, be sure to stay tuned to all the excitement here at AceOfGeeks!

Brian J. Patterson is a writer and actor splitting his time between San Francisco and Los Angeles. His house is a shrine to Wonder Woman.

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Friday, February 20, 2015

Trade Your Sheep For Cameras: "Settlers of Catan" Film Rights Sold

An article on VentureBeat suggests that the German board game classic The Settlers of Catan has been optioned for the silver screen by producer Gail Katz, who was introduced to the game by her obsessed college-aged children.

Settlers is easily one of the most popular and well-known board games, able to support several players and with straightforward rules that can lead to diabolical, contentious negotiations -- the best breaker of friendships since your group's last round of Munchkin.

With several expansions, variations, and even a Star Trek Catan board game, Settlers has been a strong presence in the board game community for many years -- and now, apparently, among the Silicon Valley elite, as well.

The article quotes Zynga cofounder Mark Pingus as saying "none of us have time to play 18 holes of golf, but we can handle a pizza and a board game."  Settlers has been popular in the Silicon Valley networking community for a decade, serving as a more palatable method of gaming and interaction for the tech elite that started in the same college gaming communities as so many other Settlers fans.

The appeal of Settlers runs deep, and fans of the game have strong opinions about their enjoyment (and about wheat); what Katz might develop as a concept for a film version of Settlers is anyone's guess, but any entry from geek fandom into the mainstream media market is potentially a welcome one.  Besides, it never hurts to have more people to recruit for a game night.

Whether the concept resembles Game of Thrones or not, the way has been paved by the well-received (and eerily accurate) The Lord of Catan for a movie that truly evokes the nature of the game itself -- we'll see what the future might hold for a film version of The Settlers of Catan.

I'm still holding out for a film in which Tim Cook and Elon Musk nearly come to blows over negotiating a trade of sheep for bricks, and don't tell me you aren't, too.

Neill Blomkamp to Direct New Alien Movie

Greetings space-faring traveler. I bring good news, for our corporate overlords at Weyland-Yutani have decided to increase their Employee Happiness Coefficient, and have allowed the union of the Alien Franchise and Neill Blomkamp. That's right, back on Earth, Blomkamp sent out the picture above on Instagram, with this caption:

Um...So I think it's officially my next film. #alien.
Blomkamp stirred our hopes earlier this year by posting a great deal of concept art for an Alien movie he was developing on Instagram. When it turned out he was never officially working on the picture, there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth - until it turned out, the pictures led to Blomkamp actually getting the gig.

The link is to a picture of an alien concept art (shown as the first picture above), adding to the legitimacy of earlier rumored Alien concept art featuring Ripley. Speaking of, while Fox and Blomkamp have reported to have closed their deal, no word yet if the rumored return of Sigourney Weaver to the role of Ripley has any actual validity. This reporter looks forward to seeing what Blomkamp's scifi genius does to the Alien Franchise.

The "One True King": Meet Jason Momoa as Aquaman

Last night, Zack Snyder tossed us one of those crumbs that reminds us a picture is worth a thousand words. So far, from our staff, those words were, "I'll be in my bunk," ".....Oh my god," and "This picture goes in my special collection." No female staff have responded to the image yet. Take a look:

Episode 139 - Dundracon 2015

The Ace of Geeks returns to Dundracon, and Dylan, Jim, Frank, Ben, and Ryan and Robert from Found in the Alley join us to break down our experiences! First, we'll discuss Robert and Ryan's FATE Accelerated L5R LARP, before we dive into an X-wing miniatures Assault on the Death Star, the Ace of Geeks' murder mystery, Mecha vs Kaiju, and much much more!

Episode 139!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Update on the Marvel Experience - Thankfully, Not Cancelled

Yesterday, we ran an article questioning the seemingly up in the air status of the Marvel Experience's tour. From what we'd seen, it looked like the remainder of the tour had been cancelled. Happily, that's not the case. We were contacted by Tracy Mallozi, managing director of the Rose Group, who filled us in on the details.

The short version of what's happening is good news and bad news. The good news is good news if you live in the San Diego or Chicago area - the show is staying in Del Mar until March 1st, after which they're taking the show to a newly announced stop at Chicago's Soldier Field. During it's time in Chicago, the show will be "reconfigured to both double down on guest excitement and be able to better utilize existing infrastructure of stadiums and ballparks," and "retooled with more interactive games and upgraded content." After that, the show will finally come to San Francisco in the Spring of 2016.

So yeah - for those of you who were excited to see this one-of-a-kind event in San Francisco this spring, you will have to wait a year...but it does sound like it'll be a better show once it gets to you. Ticketmaster has announced that you'll have the option (not yet available, from what we can tell) to receive a refund, or reschedule for a 2016 date. We're anxious to check it out ourselves. Read the full press release after the jump.

The Roguelite Renaissance

In the beginning, there was Rogue, written circa 1980 by a couple of UC students messing around on the school's mainframe after hours.  Rogue was not the first dungeon-crawling video game to be inspired by D&D, but it became an instant classic in large part because of its core innovation:
One of the things we wanted to do was create a game we could enjoy playing ourselves. Most of the existing adventure-type games had "canned" adventures -- they were exactly the same every time you played, and of course the programmers had to invent all of the puzzles, and therefore would always know how to beat the game. We decided that with Rogue, the program itself should "build the dungeon", giving you a new adventure every time you played, and making it possible for even the creators to be surprised by the game.
 -- Glenn R. Wichman, Rogue developer
Rogue soon spawned Hack, which spawned Nethack (still being maintained after almost thirty years), as well as a host of other games that are to this day called "roguelikes".  The key features inherited from Rogue that mark a game as "roguelike" (defined at the International Roguelike Development Conference) are:

* Randomly generated tile-based levels
* Randomly generated items with unknown properties
* Turn-based movement and combat
* Permadeath

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Is the Marvel Experience Cancelled?

The Marvel Experience, a traveling theme park of sorts that Marvel has been taking around to different cities, has been generating a lot of buzz. The show has a 4D show, a simulator ride, and more awesome Marvel props and costumes from the MCU than you can shake a stick at. It looks like an awesome experience all around.

However, fans were dismayed this morning when they logged on to the main site and discovered that tickets and show times for any shows past the February stop in Del Mar, California were completely missing. shows the upcoming shows for the San Francisco leg of the tour as "cancelled."

The show had been experiencing major technical difficulties in its early stops, but the official page has no announcement about any delays or cancellations. We've reached out to Marvel and Hero Ventures to see if we hear anything back.

In Sight (A Thank-You to Anthony Burch)

On January 30th, Anthony Burch tweeted that he was leaving his writing job at Gearbox Software to work as a writer for a new Hulu series. This news was was met with mass upset by Gearbox fans and applause by detractors. In other words, this one person’s departure from a company caused the video game community to pause, even if for a second. No small feat for an individual to accomplish.

So who is Burch and how has he reached the point that his actions invoke so much attention?

Well, to many, Anthony Burch is Borderlands. And to those many, Borderlands is something truly special. Far more than a quality FPS game, it is a moment.

But we’ll get there.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Nintendo Wasn't Ready to Be in the Toy Business

This past week, Nintendo held a call for their investors. This is standard practice for a public company, but as the contents of the call are public knowledge, it's usually a great way for fans of a company to get access to new information. As Nintendo fans all over the world hunkered for new details on the upcoming Zelda game, or Nintendo's efforts to bring their games to smartphone apps, one new detail made itself perfectly clear: Nintendo just isn't ready to be a toy company.

Friday, February 13, 2015

For the Love of God, Don't Go See 50 Shades of Grey.

[Trigger warnings for: rape, sexual assault, abuse and kink shaming]

[Please note: the author has not seen Fifty Shades of Grey or read the books. The author is an active member in the BDSM community and any quotes or comments on what the book has done is based off of an article which has been posted near the end.]

So, lets talk about consent. It's the most important part in relationships (casual or not).  Without consent, flirting is harassment. Without consent, touching or grabbing your partner is sexual assault. Without consent, trying to do anything sexual with a friend, partner, one night stand, etc. is rape. Now lets talk about kinks. Most people have a kink or two, ranging from hair pulling, spanking, biting and scratching to breath play, whips or floggers, bondage, rope and so many more. Just like how having consent with someone before you kiss, touch or have sex with someone, it's mandatory to have someones consent before you do anything kinky with anyone. With this being said, we're gonna have a much longer talk about Fifty Shades of Grey.

If you're unfamiliar with the book and movie series, it follows the story of Anastasia "Ana" Steele, a 21 year old college senior. While she and her best friend, Kate Kavanagh, are writing for their student newspaper, Kate asks Ana to cover for her for a meeting with the 27 year old massively successful and wealthy Christian Grey. The two eventually enter a Dominant/submissive (D/s for short) relationship. This is where the book gets bad. Really, really, really bad. This is largely due to the lack of consent on Christian's part, the abusive bullshit that he puts Ana through, the kink shaming that surrounds the book and how he seems to only care about himself and his climax.

Like I said when I started off this article, consent is mandatory. Adding BDSM onto the table of possibilities further cements the importance of it. BDSM can be dangerous if done incorrectly (ever had your circulation cut off by someone who doesn't know how to use rope correctly or who locks you too tightly with handcuffs?) and it requires talking things through beforehand to know what both of you are into, what you're okay with doing and what is totally off limits. Christian, however, doesn't seem to care too much about these things. For example, lets talk about one scene in which he doesn't just ignore Ana's consent, but completely disregards her saying, clear as day, "no."

Before I start, here's some context: Ana and Christian are at a dinner with Christian's family. Earlier in this chapter, Christian stole Ana's panties and teased her ("I bet you wish you had underwear") more then once due to the fact that she was wearing a dress. Even if he did have her consent, Christian decided to do this and what I'm about to quote below during dinner with his family.

"He places his hand on my knee – his fingers traveling up my thigh. My whole body tightens in response. No… not here, not now. I flush and shift, trying to pull away from him. His hands clamp down on my thigh, stilling me. I reach for my wine in desperation."

It gets worse.

"Christian, feigning interest in their conversation, puts his hand once more on my knee, and his fingers travel up my thigh. My breathing hitches and I press my thighs together in a bid to halt his progress. I can see him smirk"

I can't think of any reason why this would be hot. This is a man who is attempting to sexually assault his partner in front of his family after having seriously humiliated her by taking her underwear from her and who continues to be amused at her lack of consent.

A little later, as Christian is showing Ana around his parents house, this happens.

“My heels. I need to take my shoes off.”

“Don’t bother,” he says, and he bends down and scoops me over his shoulder. I squeal loudly with shocked surprise, and he gives me a ringing slap on my behind.

“Keep your voice down,” he growls.

Oh no… this is not good. My subconscious is quaking at the knees. He’s mad about something – could be José, Georgia, no panties, biting my lip. Jeez he’s easy to rile."

This also gets worse.

I hang on his hips as I’m tipped upside down, and he strides purposefully in the moonlight across the lawn.
Why?” I sound breathless, bouncing on his shoulder.
“I need to be alone with you.”
“What for?”
“Because I’m going to spank and then fuck you.”
 “Why?” I whimper softly.
“You know why,” he hisses.
“I thought you were an in-the-moment guy?” I plead breathlessly.
“Anastasia, I’m in the moment, trust me.”
No. No no no no no no no. A thousand times no.

Like the blog that I'm linking to below says, Ana hasn't consented. Not once has she agreed to sex and being spanked. Christian, who is well aware of the fact that Ana is scared, is doing what he's doing anyways.

There is a lot more in these 3 books. A lot more red flags, a lot more sexual assault and rape.

Everything I've mentioned about this can be found in this wonderful (be warned: it's loaded with potential triggers for rape, kink shaming, victim blaming and abuse) blog post.

Please, please don't see this movie. Go see Kingsmen (which looks awesome), rent John Wick (which is awesome and has some of the best action scenes I've seen in a film in a long while) or buy some of the games on sale on Steam right now! (I suggest Cthulhu Saves the World, The BIT.TRIP Collection or, if you're willing to buy it at it's current full price, Darkest Dungeon is a wonderfully dark, creepy and challenging title) The sequels are already confirmed, but if the movie keeps getting negative reviews and we avoid giving any more money to E.L. James and Universal Pictures, we might have a shot of getting those sequels canned.

This article was submitted anonymously by one of our staff writers.

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