Category Archives: Uncategorized

Would You Like to Know More

Would You Like to Know More podcast premieres next week!

Hello again!  It is my pleasure to announce that next Wednesday (October 22nd) will be the premiere of my podcast Would You Like to Know More!

As mentioned last week, this is a podcast dedicated to solve all things nerdy.  For each episode, we will talk about a certain nerdy topic and talk about why we like it so much and how interested people can get into the said topic.  Every episode will have a different set of guests who are fans of the topic at hand.  This is to ensure that each episode will be deep and engaging and not limited to casual fans who have a passing interest in the topic.

There are five episodes total.  Episode 1 will be on the Big G himself, Godzilla!

In this episode, we will cover a variety of questions such as who’s our favorite monster, our favorite fight, and more!  We will also weigh in and discuss if the most recent Godzilla movie (2014) is an actual Godzilla film.

Not only that, if you are interested in Godzilla but don’t know where to begin, we will tell what three films you should watch first!

So stop by and check us out!  We will go for five weeks straight with one new episode every week!  Hope to see you soon!

The Seven Deadly Sins Riddle Challenge

Here in the U.S.A. your 21st birthday is probably the most hyped, most exciting birthday you could ever have.  There are two main reasons why, you are now legal to both drink alcohol and gamble.  It’s funny to think that society has such a weird fascination with this topic but that’s for another issue.

Anyway, I’ve noticed while I was growing up that the person who turned 21 almost always celebrated joyously. They may host parties, walk to the nearest bars, or simply buy their first six-pack, crack open a beer, and watch Whose Line is it Anyway?  It definitely had a sense of “this is my day and I’m going to celebrate!”

But what if we turned the concept around?

No longer about me but you instead?

Such as was my mentality when I turned 21 several years back.   It’s nice to have friends.  And I wanted to celebrate that friendship.  To celebrate who we are as I turned 21.  I wanted to do something that wasn’t just for me but for them as well.

 —

When I was a kid, I loved treasure hunts.  Hardy Boys, the Three Investigators, and other quizzical romps were sources of entertainment for young Andy.  My sister would even write riddles for me and I would have to find where these riddles would take me.  Each riddle would lead to the next riddle and so forth.

It’s probably why the Riddler is one of my favorite Batman villains.  You can take your pick but I loved both the 1960s campy Riddler and the more refined Riddler from Batman, the Animated Series.  Especially when they’re wearing a slick green suit with a purple tie.  I definitely embodied the man as I was growing up whether it be tons of logic puzzles and riddles or making up my own questions as well.  However, I never had a chance of test these riddles on people.

 

This changed when I decided to use them for my 21st birthday.  I would invite my closest friends to a private party at the local brewery in celebration for my 21st.  I still remember it clearly.  As everyone settled down for their freshly delivered dinners, I cleared my throat and stood up to thank everyone for coming to the party.  I felt my heart pound hard against my chest as I stuttered through my opening speech.  I then said “But there is another reason why you are here tonight.”

They shifted on their chairs as they wondered what I was talking about.

I then said, “you’re here, because I made a Riddle Challenge for you.”

Arched eyebrows, a gasp, someone oohed, it was the perfect reaction.

After laying down the rules, I said, “But every good Riddle Challenge should have a theme behind it, otherwise, what’s the point?  I decided on the Seven Deadly Sins as my theme after much thinking.  In my mind, it makes perfect sense, October is a good time to have a dark theme after all.  Seven riddles was also the perfect amount of riddles to come up with and for the participants to solve.”

After the reveal, I reached inside my back pocket and pulled out the first riddle, Wrath, and read it out loud for all to hear.  Afterwards, we drank, we ate, and we celebrated.  The Seven Deadly Sins Challenge then began.

I wish I could say that it went off without a hitch but that wasn’t the case.  Admittedly, some of my riddles weren’t as well thought out as others so it confused some of the participants.

Nonetheless, I was particularly proud of two riddles that I came up with.

The first one I liked was Lust.  It went:

 

Now I can hear the screams
of agony. Now I have come
where a great wailing beats upon me.

I reached a place mute of all light,
which bellows as the sea in tempest
tossed by conflicting winds.

The hellish squall, which never rests,
sweeps spirits in its headlong rush,
tormenting, whirls and strikes them.

Caught in that path of violence,
they shriek, weep, and lament.
Then how they curse the power of God!
Dante’s Inferno, Canto V, 25-36

976044

33

 

I’ll give you a moment if you like to think this one through.

 

Stuck?  No worries, the answer is a book about hurricanes!  The larger number represents the call number at the local public library while the smaller number represents the page number (for the curious, the page number talked about Hurricane Andrew and Andrew is my first name).  The participants would open the book and find the next riddle in the book and then go on to the next step.

The second riddle I came up with wasn’t even a riddle at all!  It was more of a challenge.  After the participants met up with me at one of the riddle locations, I told them that they had to participate in the Sloth Challenge.

I gave them all envelopes to open.  They had to open those envelopes at 7 pm.  In the envelope was a set of directions.  The directions took the participant to a large, wetland park that was located outside of town.  They had to walk at least two miles down a path to a lone shack.  In the shack was a code that I had placed there earlier.  They had to text me that code and then they could go on to the next riddle.

The catch is that I would only accept the first seven responses (out of ten).  If you were one of the last three you were out.  I liked this one because you had to choose to either go to the park (when it was dark) or go there when it was light.  You also had to outrace the other participants so that’s a fun concept.  It also made sense considering the code was “I am not slothful.”

Despite the Riddle Challenge’s shortcomings I still had a lot of fun with it.  And apparently so did my friends!  They wanted me to make another one for them.  Initially, I was hesitant, but after some encouragement I eventually gave in.  I realized for this Riddle Challenge that I couldn’t do the same thing all over again, it had to be new and different.

And I had figured it out…

Socks and Sandals

Socks with Sandals Changed My Life

One of the best decisions I have ever made in my life was showing up to school one day wearing socks with sandals.

Let me back up.

In high school, I made a lot of female friends who wore diverse styles.  I envied them.  Their fashion looked amazing while I was just a guy wearing jean shorts and a bright pink t-shirt that said “the Eager Beaver Restaurant, Eldon, MO” with a beaver wearing a chef’s hat on it.  Clearly, I needed to rethink my fashion statement.

Unfortunately, society has…a way of not encouraging men to embrace fashion as opposed to its open involvement towards women.  It’s hard to dress fabulously without be labeled derogatory terms, especially in high school.  Skirts are probably the best example of this for me as I liked their style but I was afraid of how I would be judged by the people I know if I started wearing them.

Clearly another route had to be taken to improve my fashion statement.

Socks are one of the best inventions in history, second only to the Gamecube Controller.  They warm and protect your feet and they just feel so good all around.  In the Harry Potter series, the sock is even symbolized for familial ties and freedom (for more about that see http://www.hp-lexicon.org/essays/socks.html).  Clearly, socks are just one of the goodiest of all clothing apparel.

My friends knew this and acquired a vast array of colorful socks that ranged from stripes to spots to plaid to intricate designs.  They paired them up with their skirts, shirts, bangles, necklaces, earrings, and so forth.  I wanted to do that but with my own style.

After several months, I had accumulated my own sock collection but I ran into a problem.  If the purpose of the colorful pair of socks were to flaunt them, then covering them up by tennis shoes would not be adequate.

Enter the sandal; once I made the connection between the two I couldn’t be stopped.  Socks could be displayed to their full potential.  Now, I can mix and match by shorts, socks, and shirts with each other to create colorful combinations.

Socks with Sandals

Through this combination I realized that socks and sandals (s&s) not only looked good but felt good as well.  It’s the perfect combination to wear when it’s about 60 degrees to around room temperature.  S&s seems to have the benefits of both shoes and sandals by keeping your feet warm while still leaving your toes room to breathe.

As such, my original excuse to wear s&s slowly disintegrated like salt in a vat of hot water as I wore more and more white socks with sandals.

True, my increased wearing of s&s stemmed partially from laziness but damnet, those six seconds I could have spent tying my shoelaces are six extra seconds I have doing nothing else!

Socks with Sandals

But I’m veering from my off topic here.

Why do people not dig s&s?

In all honesty, I don’t quite understand it myself.  It’s interesting that such a minor thing can set people off in unusual ways.  Not outright hate mind you but more repulsion than anything else.

It’s probably this mentality of shoes goes with socks and sandals go with bare feet and NONE THE TWO SHALL EVER MEET.

It boggles their mind!  Why is this guy wearing s&s?  Slowly, their minds become distorted.  Their eyes wobble within their very sockets.  Their palms become sweaty with fear and terror.  Their voice cracks as they try their best to hold back a scream.  What’s going on?  Why am I here?  They shift their hand through their greasy hair and pull a clump of it out.  Why?  Why is he wearing s&s?  Does he know nothing?  Has he ascended into some higher form of existence?  Their mouth is dry.  Oh god, help me, help me now.  I can’t see, I’m going blind.  A shrill voice is speaking softly in their ear.  They can now no longer hear.  They feel it, they feel it now.  That crushing sense of pain and death upon them.  Why?  Why is this happening?  They sink to their knees and weep.  Weep for forgiveness, weep for those who have judged them, weep for those they love.  Please, I don’t want to die, I don’t want to die.  Everything.  It’s growing dark.  It’s growing dark.  All sense of reality is fading, fading fast.  Please, I can no longer take it.  I can no longer take it.

Just end it.

All their senses come crashing back to them.  They’re awake!  Wide awake!  They jump to their feet and shout

“Hey, man!  Why you wearing s&s?  Who do you think you are??”

I look back at them with cold eyes and respond, “I’m the Unapologetic Nerd.”

Plaid Socks with Sandals

New Podcast Coming Soon!

Hello everyone!  Exciting news!  I’m developing a podcast with the help of many of my friends!  We are currently recording the episodes and will hopefully have Season 1 of the podcast ready in the nearby future.

What’s the theme of the podcast?  In general, it’s to celebrate certain topics of nerdom.  Not only that, we’ll go into detail why these nerdy franchises work and why they are so popular.  What’s more, these episodes will provide interested people an introduction to the franchise and how they can become acquainted with the said franchise.

We’re keeping Season 1 pretty low key with just five episodes but they’ll range from 40 to 80 minutes long depending on the subject.  Each of these five episodes are diverse and will focus on a different nerdy theme.  Though I won’t say what their subjects are yet, I can say that one is based off of a movie franchise, one from a comic, one from a video game, one from a series of books, and one from board games.

I’ll update you guys once we have a date set.  I’ll also reveal the podcast’s title and more!  Stay tuned!

Nostalgia Filter Test: Battlebots

I was exposed to Battlebots when I was 10 or 11 years old, the best age possible.  Despite it being shown during early Saturday mornings, I tried to watch it as many times as I possibly could and even set up the VCR to record it at the proper times.  Battlebots was a short but huge fad.  They had board games, toys, McDonald Happy Meal toys, and even an extensive guide to Battlebots.  I remember owning all of these things.  The toys were especially fun as they used the spin bots, like Ziggo, as super fast battling tops similar to Beyblade.  I had a lot of fun with those.  My dad even gave me for Christmas one year a remote controlled Dissector and Biohazard which could battle each other.  They were decent size as well, both going over a foot long by almost a foot wide.

Now, going back to all of that a decade later, has it held up well?

Hell no!

Where do I begin with this?

Okay, my biggest complaints have to be the cohosts who were Bil Dwyer and Sean Salisbury (who was later replaced by Tim Green).  For being on the Comedy Central channel, these guys were just not funny; they were more annoying than funny in fact.  I can get over their intros to the battles and such, but do they have to comment all the damn time during the battles?  Shut up, I just want to watch the robots kicking each other’s asses!  Unlike football or basketball where the announcer is useful for the spectator, the cohosts just state the obvious and really have no part in it other than to liven up the action.

battlebots, cohosts

Boo

The show also suffers from lack of battles, each 30 min long episode has only three battles per episode which can only last 3 minutes at max.  The rest of the time is spent hyping of the robots or interviewing the builders or just killing time.  I wish we got to see more of the fights and be able to appreciate the tournament similar to the NCAA Tournament.  Just imagine watching all those fights and being able to truly appreciate the winners as they fight a long and hard battle to the Silver Nut.

But as I was rewatching episode clips (full length episodes are hard to find), I slowly realized why they had the annoying hosts and all of the filler time between the battles.  Most of the robots aren’t very exciting.  They’re mainly push bots and wedge bots.  And there are two very simple and easy reasons why this is so.  They’re cheap to build and they’re more likely to win.  You can’t argue with that.  Some of the more outlandish battlebots like Nightmare may be cool and all, but he can’t stand a chance if you get to him from the side and push him over.  As such, many of the battles are simply robots pushing and shoving each other into the hazards hoping the other one will break down.  It’s kind of boring…

Okay, I may have been a little harsh there.  There are some great examples of battlebots who have won it all that were neither push nor wedge bots.  Son of Whyachi, Hazard, Ziggo, Backlash, Toro; these bots and more are excellently designed and pull off their weapon of choice very well.  However, most of them were quite expensive meaning the average person probably wouldn’t be able to afford such a strong robot.

Hazard is BOSS!

Hazard is BOSS!

But even so I can also see why Comedy Central decided to not show all of the battles, especially the early round battles.  Faulty or plain-looking robots cannot generate the excitement (aka the views) needed compared to the more interesting ones.

There’s nothing much else to say about the show except for the weird guest appearances with Bill Nye and Carmen Electra.  At the time, I thought it was awesome that Bill was on the show, now, I just feel sorry for him, why did Battlebots need him??  At least he was better than Carmen.  God, even as a kid I couldn’t stand her.  She contributed nothing to the show.

Still, I think it would be cool if Battlebots came back in full force nowadays.  The advances in technology means we can have better robots that won’t break down as easily and can be more varied in design.  With so many new and young people going into engineering nowadays, the potential for the next Hazard or Ziggo can be easily achieved.  I can also imagine the show on HBO but without all of the annoying hosts and with all of the battles viewable.  If they clean it up, it can be great.

Before I hand out my Nostalgia Filter Test Score, allow me to nerd out.  *ahem*

-Wasn’t it awesome when Nightmare destroyed Slam Job in one hit?!?  He went flying!

BOOM!

BOOM!

-Isn’t Hazard amazing??  He can destroy any opponent that faces him; Middleweight bots just shudder in fear thinking about him!

-And when then rookie-bot Son of Whyachi in Season 3 mauled all of his opponents to pieces including Nightmare and Biohazard??  Look me dead in the eye and tell me you don’t think that season was awesome!

-And when Ziggo showed that lightweight robots weren’t wimps by annihilating any robot that gets in his way??  Man, I love that robot!

Haha, anyway…

Nostalgia Filter Test Score: C- 

Son of a Nerd

When I was 11 or 12 years old my father took me to his downstairs workroom and pulled out a stepladder.  Setting it up, he stepped onto its top ledge and reached for a box that was on his highest shelf.  He pulled down the box and laid it gently on his countertop.  He turned to me and said, “When I eventually pass away, you will inherit all of my comics that I have collected since I was your age and even younger.”

Looking inside the box, I saw comics that were born during the Silver Era of Comics.  Archie and Batman were quite common but most important were his Amazing Spiderman comics.  He bought the very first ten issues and more of Marvel’s famous superhero.  They were all in relatively good condition with the Spiderman comics now in a protective covering that prevented wear and tear on the decades old paper.  Not only did I saw them but I read them as well.  He allowed me to read his precious collection which he had kept for all these decades; it speaks volumes to know how much trust he had in me.

And after reading them, I have to say, they’re pretty good!  Stan Lee and Steve Ditko did a great job in the writing and characters of the story.  I also learned for the first time of Doctor Octopus’ origins.  Surprisingly, it wasn’t shallow.  He wasn’t naturally evil; in fact, he was just a nuclear scientist who used his arms to help him in his experiments.  An explosion at his lab however twisted him into becoming dark and that’s what led him to being Spiderman’s foe.  The Sandman issues were pretty good as well as they definitely highlight Peter Parker’s cleverness and ingenuity.

I would say that my father’s love for comics is similar to my love for video games, a fad that was quite popular for the time despite being frowned upon by some adults.  In a way, the video game cartridges I have, though still cheap, will probably one day be as expensive as my Dad’s current comic collection.  Even now, games like my Earthbound game have already doubled in price in just several years.  In the future, my other video games will probably follow suit.

My Dad’s love for nerdiness does not end there though, he also likes Star Trek and he remembers watching that show a lot when he was in college.  He’s also a fan of Star Trek: The Next Generation. I like watching that show with him as it’s pretty relaxing and enjoyable.  It was especially a treat when we saw the Star Trek movies as they were great and he got to enjoy them on a nostalgia level.

As such, I was lucky enough to have Michael Dorn, the actor who plays Worf in Star Trek: TNG, sign a birthday card for him.  He was at a nearby comic convention this year and I bought tickets for it so I could meet him personally.  Worf and Data were my Dad’s two favorite characters so I knew this was my best chance to give my Dad something special.  Once he signed it, which was amazing, I carefully sealed up the envelope and gave it to my Dad several weeks later.

That was my only present to him that year.  And when he read the funny card and opened it up to see that Michael Dorn had wish him a happy birthday he reacted with shock and delight.  I could see tears welling up as he realized what I had done for him.  Right there and then, I knew I had given him the best birthday present ever.

birthday card

Actually, this was not the first time I attempted to have a celebrity sign something for my Dad.  I tried to get Stan Lee to sign my Dad’s first issue of Spiderman several years ago when I was at Comic Con.  Alas, Stan charged 100 dollars per signing and I didn’t have that kind of money.  I’m super bummed that I didn’t do it though.  When I told my Dad why it didn’t happen he became convince that we should do it and that he would chip in the money for the autograph.  We’re now hoping for Stan to show up in a nearby convention so we could have the man himself sign the very thing he’s famous for.  I think that would be one of the most wonderful things ever and I hope that we can achieve it; an autograph from a legend to two nerds and a special comic.

The Darkness Series by Harry Turtledove

Long before I knew about Game of Thrones, there was another fantasy series that I was heavily invested in during the course of its publications.  It was known as the Darkness Series, written by Harry Turtledove (also known as “the Master of Alternate History”).  The Darkness Series is, in a sense, very similar to the Song of Ice and Fire series.  Mainly, many viewpoint characters that are from different nations whose individual stories weave a larger, more epic story.  These characters are from a fantastical world in the grip of war and who, even if they are a viewpoint character, can still die.

Image

There is also another similarity the two have.  If A Song of Ice and Fire is inspired by the War of Roses, then the Darkness Series is not only inspired by, but directly paralleled with, the events of World War 2.  Each country in the Darkness Series, which takes place in the fiction continent of Derlavai, is usually based on one (sometimes a few) country(s) in our world.  For instance, Algarve represents Nazi Germany while Unkerlant represents Soviet Russia.  The similarities don’t stop there as these fictional nations have the same languages, city names, customs, and so forth as our world does.

These similarities though are highly jumbled.  The Algarvian people speak Italian, have red hair, and wear kilts.  Unkerlantians, meanwhile, speak German, wear tunics, and have a darker complexion.  For those of you who are curious, the Jews are a race of people called Kaunians who are fair skinned, tall, have blonde hair, and speak a Slavic-like language.

Image

But here, the similarities to our world end.  Great rhinos are tanks, dragons are airplanes, fierce leviathans are submarines, rifles and pistols are wands that shoot energy beams, and magical crystals serve as communicating devices similar to our radios and telephones.  Also, like Game of Thrones, the world’s countries are mainly monarchial.  These fantastical elements are amazing and give a great twist to a world at war.

I never had such joy in reading and appreciating a series such as this before.  Figuring out what historical events are happening and guessing how the characters will survive was a real treat.  And though we know that dear Algarve will eventually lose the war, what we don’t know is if our characters will survive the war or not.  Some of my favorite characters did eventually past away and that was a great shame.

Image

Turtledove has a greater appreciation for characters than George R.R. Martin does.  Though characters may die, their deaths do not seem premature or forced.  We have grown to love and respect the viewpoint character as Turtledove takes time to flesh them out.  We are also not bogged down with tons of characters who may show up for a few chapters and then go away without any further notice on what exactly happened to them.

Some of the best moments in the book are when viewpoint characters meet each other for a brief moment.  They may fight each other in the battlefield, walk by one another in a busy town, or develop an actual relationship of some kind with the other viewpoint character.  I even developed an intricate diagram years ago dedicated to how all of the characters were connected to each other and it was amazing (too bad I can’t find it now).

Image

Well before I knew about Game of Thrones, I imagined what it would be like for this series to hit the small screen.  At the time, I thought it would never happen but now with Game of Thrones being quite popular nowadays, that idea isn’t too far off.  However, because of their similar concepts, people might think it was just a shameless rip-off which is too bad.  Regardless, seeing the Darkness Series in live action would be amazing.

In short, if you are fan of Game of Thrones, epic fantasies, or World War 2, this is a great series of novels that is fun to read.  I highly recommend it if you have the time.

(for those who are curious the series goes Into the Darkness, Darkness Descending, Through the Darkness, Rulers of the Darkness, Jaws of Darkness, and Out of Darkness)