How I Met Your Mother Re-watch?

In case you aren’t aware, the show “How I Met Your Mother” is coming close to the finale of it’s 9th and final season. I am a huge fan of the show, and I would argue that it has been one of the best shows on TV (at least in terms of sitcoms) for many years. Anyway, we are getting very close to the series finale and the ultimate conclusion to the most epic bedtime story ever.

As with most finales for long-running shows, I’m expecting a lot of callbacks to things that happened in the pilot and other early episodes. I’ve seen every episode, but it’s been a while since I’ve seen most of them. In preparation for this momentous occasion, I’m considering re-watching the entire series from the beginning and possibly blogging some brief summaries and commentaries of the episodes as I go.

I realize that I only have about 2 weeks before the finale and there are 9 seasons to watch. For this reason, it is unlikely that I will be able to watch them all in time (especially with my school and work schedule), but I’m going to try. However, given my tendency to suffer from insomnia and being unable to sleep until 2 or 3 in the morning on a regular basis, it is very possible that I might end up watching 5 or 6 episodes in one night.

I probably won’t try to post a commentary for every episode. More than likely, I’ll just post a commentary every 3 or 4 episodes with the possible exceptions of some momentous episodes. If this is something that sounds like it could be fun or interesting to anybody else, leave a comment below.

The Veronica Mars Movie and Why It’s a Big Deal

In case you haven’t heard about it over the last year or so, Veronica Mars, the TV show that was on UPN/the CW for 3 seasons 2004-2007, used a Kickstarter campaign to fund a movie that is going to be released later this week. Let me start by saying that I never watched the show when it was on the air. I don’t think I had really ever heard much about it or knew what it was. After hearing about the Kickstarter campaign and learning a little bit about the show, I decided I might as well watch the show and see what all the fuss was about. It turns out that the show is really awesome, and I ended up burning through all 3 seasons in about a week. The premise of the show is that Kristen Bell plays Veronica, a teenager in a small town called Neptune, California. The town is very class divided with the billionaire movie stars, record producers, and Fortune 500 CEOs on one side and the people that work for them (maids, butlers, secretaries, etc.) on the other. Veronica’s father, Keith Mars, is the former sheriff who was ousted from office after accusing a prominent citizen of murdering his own daughter (this is central to the main plot arc that stretches over the entire first season). Now Keith is a private detective and Veronica works part time helping her father with his cases. Veronica is a very smart girl who goes through all of the typical drama that goes along with high school (which is of course magnified by all the class division), but she also spends some nights staking out seedy motels taking surveillance pictures for cases as well as occasionally doing some sleuthing for some of her classmates. The thing that I think I like most about the show is that the writing is very intelligent and it doesn’t talk down to its viewers. To sum it up, the show is really great and deserves a movie, but after hearing about the Kickstarter campaign and doing a little research, I decided that it doesn’t matter what the show was about or even if I like the movie. I want this movie to succeed.

Apparently, Rob Thomas, the creator of the show, has been trying to make this movie ever since the show was cancelled in 2007, but no studio would give them the money to make it. Finally, he, Kristen Bell, and the rest of the cast decided that they would just crowd-fund the movie. Warner Brothers told them that if the crowd-funding campaign made their goal of $2 million then they would distribute the film. Not only did it make it’s goal of $2 million, but it broke that goal in less than 10 hours after going live. It went on to make nearly $6 million and broke nearly every record that Kickstarter had for the film category.

There have been several successful crowd funding campaigns over the last few years.  I recently contributed to the campaign for season 3 of the web show “Video Game High School” by Freddie Wong, which has had all 3 of it’s seasons largely funded through crowd-funding. However, to my knowledge there has never been a movie that was funded through crowd-funding and then went on to become a box office hit. The Veronica Mars movie seems poised to do that. It already has a built-in loyal fan base from the TV show. It also won the MTV Movie Brawl fan vote for most anticipated movie of 2014 (beating several big time movies like Amazing Spiderman 2 and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part I). That alone makes this movie a trailblazer that could change the way people go about making and marketing movies, but there’s more. Advertisement for the movie is being done entirely online. There haven’t been any billboard or TV spots for the movie. The movie is also being released nation-wide in mostly AMC theaters on 270 screens, but they are also simultaneously releasing the movie through most Video-On-Demand services. So, even is you don’t live near one of the 270 theaters where it will be showing, you can still contribute to the movie’s success by buying it on demand.

The fact that Warner Brothers and AMC are both willing to try this experiment that has never really been done before (at least not for anything other than low grade B movies), might mean that the film industry is finally realizing that the internet and the “global community” that it has created can actually be used to find out what people want and deliver quality content to the people that want it instead of just producing big budget films that appeal to the lowest common denominator. Maybe the film industry is realizing this faster than the music industry did.

The movie will be released on March 14, so you have a couple days to watch the TV show and prepare yourself. You can find all 3 of the seasons on Amazon Prime. If you don’t have Amazon Prime, sign up for a free month trial.

Book Review: The Cuckoo’s Calling

I read “The Cuckoo’s Calling” a few months ago, and I wanted to write a review of it immediately. Then the most difficult semester of my collegiate life began, and I had no time to do anything other than study, do homework, go to work, and occasionally sleep. Luckily, I survived the semester, so I finally had some free time to write the review.

MINOR SPOILER WARNING: If you have not read “The Cuckoo’s Calling,” this review may reveal a few spoilers, but I promise not to spoil the ending or any major plot twists.

Several months ago a mystery novel was released by an unheard of British author named Robert Galbraith. This novel was called “The Cuckoo’s Calling,” and it received rave reviews. Many critics remarked that it was amazing how this author could write such a well-written piece on his very first published novel. Of course, not long after the novel gained some recognition and people started doing some digging, it was revealed that Robert Galbraith was in fact J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books. At the time that this was revealed, I was in search of a new book to read, and being a huge fan of the Harry Potter books, I immediately went out and bought the book and read it.

As I was reading the book, I noticed some subtle things that seemed reminiscent of the Harry Potter novels. Obviously, the universe of the book and the themes were very different, but the way that Rowling described scenery and just subtle stylistic things like that seemed familiar. However, I doubt that I would have made the connection if I had read the book without knowing that Robert Galbraith was a pseudonym for J.K. Rowling.

Rowling uses an interesting storytelling technique in “The Cuckoo’s Calling.” The book essentially has two main characters each with their own story, and the reader switches between the two characters points of view throughout the book. The two main characters are Cormoran Strike, a private investigator in London who is also a military veteran with a prosthetic leg, and Robin Ellacott, a young, newly engaged woman who is assigned to be Strike’s secretary by a temp agency. Strike’s story is not only about solving a murder, but he is also dealing with getting over a break up, essentially being homeless, and having no money. Robin’s story is mostly about trying to help Strike with the murder investigation, the struggle between her need of a stable job and her love of working for a private detective, as well as being new to London having recently moved in with her fiance.

I don’t want to reveal too much about the plot of the novel, but I will say that Strike is hired to investigate an apparent suicide of a famous super model. The investigation also has some connections to Strike’s childhood and the reader learns little bits and pieces about his past throughout the novel. As far as the murder mystery goes, I thought that it was one of the best I’ve ever read. I’m usually pretty good at predicting things like this, and I never would have guessed who the murderer was. I also really enjoyed Robin’s story. She loves working for a private investigator, but she was only assigned there temporarily. Plus, she has other more stable and better paying job opportunities. And even if Strike wanted to hire her long-term, she knows that he can’t afford to pay her a competitive salary. I think a lot of people in their mid-twenties would identify with her struggle between doing something she enjoys and doing something that would pay the bills.

I actually think that “The Cuckoo’s Calling” set up some characters that could work well in a series of novels. This would of course be very different from the Harry Potter series that had a definite finish line. Rowling could just write as many sequels as she wanted to write (a la Sherlock Holmes). There are an endless number of cases that Strike could be hired to investigate, and I think I would like to know more about these characters. For example, I would love to hear more about Strike’s past. If Rowling were to write a sequel, I also think Robin’s fiance (who had a pretty insignificant role in “The Cuckoo’s Calling”) could play a much larger role. I think it could be an interesting dynamic if he was the one that had to hire Strike to solve some mystery.

I really enjoyed “The Cuckoo’s Calling,” but I will say that it is not the most fast-paced book I’ve ever read. There are very few action sequences in the book, and it can feel sluggish at times. If I had to give it a rating, I would probably give it 4 out of 5 stars. Very enjoyable and a great murder mystery, but it is not the kind of book that sucked me in and made me lose all sense of time like I did when I was reading the Harry Potter books.

Superman: the most obvious Christ metaphor ever

This is another re-post of something that I blogged about a while back at The Nerd Machine. I might post one or two more things that I originally posted there, but after that everything will be new posts. This post is something that I thought about after watching Man of Steel.

A few weeks ago, I finally got around to watching Man of Steel, and I thought it was pretty good. But, as I often do about things like this, I got on a little bit of a Superman kick, and I started reading Wikipedia articles and different things online about the mythology of Superman. I also started re-watching the TV show Smallville about Clark Kent as a teenager that used to be on the WB/CW. During all of this indulgence in the world of Superman, I suddenly realized that Superman is probably the most obvious metaphor for Jesus Christ in all of pop culture.

MINOR SPOILER WARNINGIf you haven’t seen Man of Steel or the TV show Smallville, there may be some minor spoilers below, but I don’t give away any major plot twists or anything.

To start with there are a few very obvious parallels between Christ and Superman. First of all, they were both sent to Earth from the heavens (or space) by their fathers. They were also both babies when they were sent to Earth and grew up to save the world. It is also worth noting that they had parents with very similar names. Jesus’s Earthly parents were named Mary and Joseph, and Superman’s Earthly parents were named Martha and Jonathon.

There are also several more subtle references to Christ. In the comics, movies, and even in Smallville, Superman at one point or another dies (or at least appears to be dying) and then somehow comes back to life and ends up saving the day. In one episode of Smallville, the writers and directors were obviously playing up this metaphor. In this episode, Clark has lost his powers, and he gets shot. When he is lying on the pavement bleeding out, there is a camera angle from above looking down at him with his arms spread out to the sides and blood pooling at his ribs. This is obviously meant to reflect the image of Jesus hanging on the cross after being stabbed in the side. There are also several other specific examples from that very same episode as well as many other episodes of Smallville that I have noticed, but I won’t go into all of them now.

One other example that I thought I would point out from Man of Steel is seen when Superman is debating on whether he should turn himself over to Zod to save everyone else on Earth. He goes to a church to seek council from a priest. This is remarkably similar to Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before he was to be crucified. In fact, there was actually a stained-glass window visible in that scene that depicted Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane.

There are numerous other examples of parallels between Christ and Superman that can be found in probably every version of Superman that has ever been produced, but for some reason I had never really thought about it until recently.

Book Recommendation: The Kidd Novels by John Sandford

This a re-post of one of the first things that I posted at The Nerd Machine. It’s a recommendation of a series of books that are pretty unknown. Anyway, here it is. Feel free to leave a comment below.

I’ve been trying to find a good book to read recently, and since I’m thinking about books a lot lately, I thought I would post a recommendation of a book series that doesn’t really get a lot of recognition. The book series that I am talking about is known as ‘The Kidd Novels’ by John Sandford, who is known for his much more popular ‘Prey’ series. Currently, there are four novels in the Kidd series (The Fool’s RunThe Empress FileThe Devil’s Code, and The Hanged Man’s Song), but I heard in an interview that there is a possibility of future Kidd novels.

The main character of the novels is Kidd who is a painter and computer genius. Each novel is a little different. There isn’t really an episodic format, but in each of the novels Kidd is, in some way, hired or asked to do a job that requires him to work outside of the law. For these jobs, he always enlists the help of his friend and sometimes lover LuEllen, who is a professional cat burglar.

Originally, I was attracted to these novels just from the computer/tech/hacking aspect of the stories. I am currently a grad student pursuing an MS in Computer Science, and around the time that I first discovered these novels, I was just starting to figure out that Computer Science was the field that I wanted to pursue. At that time, I was devouring any book, movie, TV show, etc. that had anything to do with computers. But, I think the real reason that I got hooked on these novels is the same reason that I love shows like Firefly and Leverage (btw if you haven’t seen Leverage, check it out). The reason that I think people connect with shows like that is because the “heroes” of the show aren’t perfect heroes that wear a white hat and are always working for the forces of good. They are just people that have a good heart, but they aren’t afraid to do things outside of the law and work in the shadows.

Kidd is a lot like this. He is deep down a good person, but his main priority is looking out for himself and making sure he has enough money to live how he wants to live. Much like Malcolm Reynolds in Firefly, Kidd has no objections to taking a job that requires him to break the law. Continuing with the Firefly comparison, if Kidd’s personality is most like Mal, then LuEllen would be similar to Jayne. She not only has no problem breaking the law; she seems to enjoy it. Although she isn’t an evil person, she doesn’t quite have the same moral compass that Kidd has.

If you enjoy mystery or thriller novels, I would strongly recommend the Kidd novels by John Sandford. The first novel in the series is called The Fool’s Run.

First post on WordPress

As you can tell from the title, this is my first blog post on WordPress. I had never blogged until not long ago. It was probably 7 or 8 months ago when I started a blog on thenerdmachine.com. (By the way if you’ve never heard of The Nerd Machine, you should check it out.) Anyway, recently The Nerd Machine migrated their whole community page over to a Google+ community. I completely understand that hosting the community through Google+ makes for much less required maintenance. Unfortunately, the new Google+ community (to my knowledge at least) does not really offer a good way to maintain a blog. I didn’t really blog very frequently on The Nerd Machine, but I do occasionally feel like writing about something that catches my attention. So, I decided to create a new blog here on WordPress.

I don’t know how often I’ll post anything, but I think to start I’ll just re-post some of the things that I posted on The Nerd Machine. After that, who knows? If you read my little bio on the about page, you can get a pretty good idea about the things that I’ll probably post about. It’ll mostly be about movies, TV shows, sports, books, music, etc. Pretty much anything that I might be nerding out about at the time. I hope you enjoy the blog.