Episode 42: My Favorite Albums of 2017

I didn’t listen to as much music as I normally would in this past year. However, I don’t really think I listened to an album that I felt wasted my time.

This is not a best of list, but just a podcast on my favorite albums of the year.  The higher the ranking the more I listened to the album is how I ranked them.

Spoilers: My top five after the jump:

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ComicCon-ing: Some of Our Favorite Eats Near Wizard World New Orleans

This is not by any means a definitive list. We aren’t rich enough to eat at all the restaurants near the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center where Wizard World New Orleans is held.  Looking at the map, there are way more restaurants that we want to try and never have. Therefore these are just some restaurants within walking distance, which actually does cover almost the entire CBD.

Mulate’s New Orleans:  To be honest, I haven’t been here in years. But it does have some decent cajun fare, and if it is a night with live music, that makes it worth it.

El Gato Negro:  There mole chicken is fantastic, and everything else is pretty good, too. (Note: we have not tried this particular location).

Cochon Butcher: This is my number one recommendation. Everything I’ve had here has been great.

Cochon: The fancier big brother is right next door to Butcher.  While I think Butcher is better, this is world class food.

Drago’s Seafood: Don’t look at the menu.  Order oysters either raw or charbroiled…preferably both. If you are still hungry, order another dozen.

Mannings: We find Manning’s hit or miss, but everyone else we know seems to love it.

Lucy’s Retired Surfer’s Bar & Restaurant: This is where we ended up on day one of Wizard World last year. The food was excellent, the company better, and the scorpion was weird.

Carmo: If you are craving something a little healthier, this is the place for you.  They do have vegetarian and vegan options. I have yet to have a bad meal or drink there.

Gordon Biersch Brewery:  If you are looking for a great pub atmosphere, this should be high on your list.

St. James Cheese Company: If you like cheese, these people are the best cheesemongers in the city. (Note: we have not tried this particular location).

Herbsaint:  If you are dressed up (and I mean Sunday dressed), this is our favorite restaurant in the city.

The American Sector Restaurant: This restaurant is attached to the World War II museum. It’s also one of our favorites.  The glazed lamb ribs are to die for.

Some of the other restaurants in the area that we haven’t tried but would love to:

  • Galliano Restaurant
  • Root
  • Emeril’s
  • Grand Isle
  • La Boca
  • Tommy’s Cuisine
  • Peche Seafood Grill
  • Compere Lapin
  • Meril
  • Legacy Kitchen
  • Mother’s (wait…what? We have never eaten at Mothers?)

 

 

ComicCon-ing: Wizard World New Orleans Artist Alley

When we explain comic conventions to our friends, we have to make sure they understand it’s more than just meeting celebrity guests.  We often compare the vendors’ area to a jewelry show for geeks. However, the best part of any comic convention is the artist alley.

Artist Alley is comprised of comic book artists who will sign books and have artwork for sale.  Many, but not all,  sign for free or for a small donation to a favorite charity.  Some do charge, but we understand they have to make a living.

The person we are most excited to meet at Wizard World New Orleans is Howard Chaykin. He is a comic creator who both writes and draws. We met him at Wizard World Philadelphia a few years ago, and he was quickly the most entertaining comic creator we ever met. While we got him to sign a Star Wars comic variant cover he did, we highly recommend his works, American Flagg! and Divided States of Hysteria…and anything else his name is attached to.

The great Neal Adams will also be there.  Neal Adams changed the game of comics and help usher in a social awareness to comics especially in his Green Lantern/Green Arrow run. He has worked on Batman and has done some of the most iconic covers in comics. In fact, we will probably get him to sign a Harley Quinn cover that we did.  He does charge for autographs.

Other comic artists inlcude Jaime Hernandez (“Love and Rockets”), Olivia (“Bettie Page,” “Sideshow Collectibles”), Agnes Garbowska  (“My Little Pony,” “DC Superhero Girls”), David Mack (“KABUKI,” “Jessica Jones”) and Mike Grell (“Green Arrow,” “Batman”), Marat Michaels (“Deadpool Corps,” “Extreme Studios”), Arthur Suydam (“Marvel Zombies”),  Amy Chu (“Red Sonja,” “KISS”), Stuart Sayger (“ROM,” “Micronauts”), Tiffany Michelle Vollmer  (“Dragon Ball” franchise), Mike S. Miller (“Justice League,” “Game of Thrones”), Phil Ortiz (“The Simpsons”),  Tom Cook (“Masters of the Universe,” “Smurfs”), Mark Kistler (“Secret City,” “Imagination Station”), Clinton Hobart  (licensed Disney Fine Artist), Victor Dandridge (“The Samaritan,” “Origins Unknown”), Dean Haspiel (“Billy Dogma,” “Bored to Death”) and many more.

There is another comic creator that you may have heard of…Stan Lee.  He will only be there on Saturday, and you do need to purchase signatures.  We have already bought our photo op with him!

Plenty of these comic creators will be doing discussions and demonstrations at the Creative Stage so make sure you check it out.

Wizard World New Orleans show hours are Friday, January 5, 4-9 p.m.; Saturday, January 6, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sunday, January 7, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Kids 10 and under are admitted free with paid adult.

ComicCon-ing: Wizard World New Orleans Celebrity Guests Preview

In previous posts, Mrs. Nola Nerd Couple and I talked about the guests we are most excited to see at Wizard World New Orleans.

Here is a rundown of the full list of celebrity guests appearing in New Orleans:

  • Stan Lee:  The man doesn’t need any introduction. Mr. Lee only appears on Saturday.
  • Jason Momoa: Mr. Momoa, of course, is from Game of Thrones and Justice League.  He will be there Saturday and Sunday.
  • David Tennant: Mr. Tennant is the guest we are most excited to meet especially we are fans of his work from Doctor Who, Jessica Jones, and Duck Tales.  He will be there Friday and Saturday.
  • Jenna Coleman:  Ms. Coleman served as a companion to two doctors on Doctor Who and was absolutely brilliant in PBS’s Victoria. She will be there Friday and Saturday.
    She canceled today.
  • Ian Somerhalder: Mr. Somerhalder is best known for his work on Lost and Vampire Diaries.  And according to a few of my students, the prettiest man alive.  He will be there on Saturday.
  • David Mazouz: Mr. Mazouz portrays Bruce Wayne of Fox’s Gotham. He will be there Saturday and Sunday.
  • Robin Lord Taylor: Mr. Taylor plays Oswald Cobblepot (aka the Penguin) on Gotham. He will be there Saturday and Sunday.
  • Joe Flanigan: The Stargate: Atlantis star will appear at Wizard World on Saturday and Sunday.
  • Kim Rhodes: Ms. Rhodes is best known for her work on Supernatural. She will be there all three days of the con.
  • She canceled today.
  • Ruth Connell: Ms. Connell also stars on Supernatural and will be in NOLA all weekend.
  • Nichelle Nichols: The Star Trek great will be at the con from Friday to Sunday.  We highly recommend meeting her if you haven’t already.
  • Jason David Frank: The Green Power Ranger always has a long line at every con he attends. He will be there Saturday and Sunday.
  • Henry Winkler:  We can’t recommend meeting The Fonz strongly enough.  He will turn you into that you kid again. He will be there Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
  • Rider Strong: Mr. Strong starred in Boy Meets World and has done voice work on shows like Kim Possible.  He will be New Orleans all weekend.
  • Christy Carlson Romano: Ms. Romano starred in Kim Possible and Even Stevens. She will be there all weekend.
  • Will Friedle: The former Boy Meets World also has extensive voice credits including Batman Beyond and Transformers. He will be at Wizard World New Orleans all weekend.
  • Charisma Carpenter: Charisma Carpenter has starred on Angel and Buffy as well as in the Expendables franchise and Veronica Mars.  She will be there Saturday and Sunday.
  • Holly Marie Combs:  Ms. Combs’s resume includes Charmed and Picket Fences. She will be there Saturday and Sunday.
  • Jon Heder: That’s right Napoleon Dynamite will be there Saturday and Sunday.
  • Thomas Ian Nicholas: Mr. Nicholas’s credits include American Pie and Rookie of the Year.  He will be at the con all three days.

Click on the links to purchase VIPs, Photo-ops, and Autographs.  Some autographs must be bought at the celebrity’s table.  Also, some stars allow for selfies for a fee, so check before you try taking one.  Please respect the guests’ privacy.

You can purchase general admission tickets here.

If there are any more guest announcements, will post it here as soon as we can!

Star Wars-ing: My Favorite Villains from the Saga

While we all root for the heroes of Star Wars, we all really think the bad guys are cooler. Think about Vader’s scene in Rogue One. It’s a horrible massacre of men fighting for the good of the galaxy.

And we all loved it.

Before I list some of my favorite villains from the saga, let me reiterate the same rules from yesterday’s heroes piece. No characters introduced in The Force Awakens will be listed.  We don’t know their fate so they may not stay good. Second, I include any Star Wars I’ve seen or read.  I  have not read all of the EU nor have I read all of the new canons, so this list is not pretending to be definitive. Not in the slightest.  Also, this list is not in any type of order.

Darth Vader: Ok, this one is the top villain. He was the perfect version of evil for my young brain (I was born in late 1973). When he is evil, he is impressive, most impressive.  When he turns good, he becomes our hero.  And as amazing as he is in the films, he really gets some moments in the comics.  IF you haven’t read Vader Down, stop reading this and go read it.

Darth Maul: Darth Maul in the Phantom Menace is a great action, bad guy.  In the comics and especially in the Clone Wars, he is genuinely terrifying.

Palpatine – Overrated: Emporer Palpatine as an evil character.  Underrated: His time before becoming emperor. He outwits and outmaneuvers the entire Senate and Jedi Council.  As a Sith and a politician he indeed is the personification of evil in the saga.

Orson Krennic: Krennic is a different kind of bad guy. He is that guy in the office that you pray to god doesn’t become your boss.  He can do the job, but he isn’t overly talented at it.  In fact, he knows how to take credit for your work.  He really wants to be in charge, and he will entirely forget the help he received to get there. In other words, he is the most real-world version of evil.

Barriss Offee: She is almost a forgivable form of evil. Her motivation is reasonable in that the Jedi Council seems to make every wrong decision leading to what appears as an unending war.

Thrawn:  So methodical in his work. In fact, he is not necessarily evil.  He just works for the bad guys, and is better at his job than practically everyone else.

Mother Talzan: From a certain point of view, this character is not always on the wrong side. In fact, there are storylines in which you might root for her since she is going up against someone worse. While we can argue if she is pure evil or not, I think we can all agree she always interesting.

Count Dooku:  I wasn’t sure if I wanted to put him on here, but he does have great storylines in The Clone Wars and especially in Dark Disciple.

There are some that aren’t on this list that I’m going to get flack for.  I don’t find Tarkin very interesting in the movies and in the animated series, but I like him more as a villain in Catalyst. (Edit: Ok Tarkin definitely belongs on the list and maybe near the top as far as evil goes. He blows up an entire planet, and there is no proof that the order comes from anyone else but him – at least in the movies).  Also, for the love of all things Star Wars, I do not get the Boba Fett worship. There are a few others that I like but I don’t feel like we got enough of to put on a list (such as the Inquisitor).

So who are your favorite villains from Star Wars?

 

Star Wars: My Favorite Heroes from the Saga

Star Wars is, in its purest form, a story of heroes and villains.  That’s one of the reasons why Joseph Campbell was so attracted to it and wrote about it in the Power of the Myth.

Since this week is the release of the Last Jedi, I decided to list my favorite heroes and villains from Star Wars. Today, I will list my favorite heroes.

But first some explanations.  No characters introduced in The Force Awakens will be listed.  We don’t know their fate so they may not stay good. Second, I include any Star Wars I’ve seen or read.  I  have not read all of the EU nor have I read all of the new canons, so this list is not pretending to be definitive. Not in the slightest.  Also, this list is not in any type of order.

Cut Lawquane:  Yes, he is a deserter.  No, that doesn’t mean he is not a hero.  He was made to be a soldier, but decided not to be.  More importantly, he decided to have a family, and to them, he was their protector and his hero.  So from a certain point of view, he does have a heroes story to tell. It is also one of the most compelling one-offs in all of Star Wars.

Hera Syndulla:  To me, she is the best leader in the Star Wars saga.  She cares for her people, but she sees the bigger picture.  If someone were to write a leadership book from her point of view, I would buy it in a second.

R2D2:  If being a hero is putting others before yourself than R2D2 qualifies.  Far too many times, R2 risks personal injury, and annihilation, to save his friends and the republic.  He is fearless, but he does have a heart of gold.

Leia: Leia is THE leader in the Star Wars saga.  She was born and raised to do this.  She accepted the role long before we met her and handled it maturely.  She is the same age as Luke, but her experience has made her far wiser. Unlike most people on this list, her heroes journey started as a child. The fact that she never has wavered makes her one of the greatest in the saga.

Han Solo:  He is the reluctant hero.  He doesn’t want to be the hero; he just can’t help himself. And he probably never does it for the bigger cause.  Being heroic for his friends is good enough. When you think about it, he is a poor scoundrel.

Luke:  Luke is THE hero of the saga.  So far, the story has been about him or the coming of him.  The fact that this was thrust upon him and that eventually gets control of his power is a testament to the type of hero he wanted to become.  Sure he is whiney, but he is one of the most powerful people in the galaxy with no understanding of why he is or how he can control it. Even in Jedi, when he comes to grips with it, he acts as if he is in control, but he knows what he is doing is risky.  In Jedi, he wants to be the hero, but he isn’t completely sold on the outcome.  I can’t wait for Thursday night to see where his journey goes next.

Obi-Wan:  He is the perfect Jedi, in that he does have faults.  He would have left the Jedi for a woman if she wished.  He shows favor and sometimes a blind eye towards his friends. Yet, he always attempts to do the right thing.  Sometimes this means for the greater good; other times it could be to save just one Jedi’s soul.

Asajj Ventress:  Sometimes the hero’s journey takes a long route through the villain’s timeline.  But if you don’t believe Ventress belongs on this list, read Christie Golden’s Dark Disciple.  Golden creates a multi-layered story of a multi-layered character.  It’s the best Star Wars book I’ve read yet.

Ashoka:  Ashoka, more than any other character on this list, learns.  She learns from her mistakes.  She learns from the mistakes of others.  She understands there are rules and that sometimes laws are worthless if they mean losing your soul to abide by them.  Throughout the Clone Wars, she has tremendous growth.  She went from being my least favorite character to my favorite.

Yes, there are people I left off the list.  Yoda for instance.  I’m not saying he isn’t a hero. I’m saying he is not one of my favorites. He too often gets caught up in what a Jedi should be he forgets what they actually are individual. Others have moments, and some characters are heroic but not truly heroes (this is how I classify Lando).

So…who are your favorite heroes from the saga?

 

StarWars-ing: In Defense of Star Wars Rebels

KananCrew.pngOf course, this week is the release of Star Wars The Last Jedi.  We won’t have any thoughts on that front until we see the movie, but we still want to talk Star Wars so let’s talk about Rebels.

In the past, I’ve done some episode by episode recaps of both The Clone Wars and Rebels.  (I really should continue that).

I can unequivocally state that The Clone Wars is far superior to Rebels.  The Clone Wars, as a friend of mine pointed out, makes the prequels means something.  They are that good.

Rebels will never get to those heights. Many a fan has said so on various social media. In fact, many Star Wars fans that whose opinion I completely respect have given up on it.

I understand.  The lead character can be annoying.  Sometimes the force works in very illogical ways on the show and considering the force is something that doesn’t have to play by the rules of logic says something about the liberties taken with the force.  The show often finds a groove and then completely takes itself out of that groove (something Clone Wars did as well but it seems to happen more regularly with Rebels). Most egregiously, Rebels kills off a major Star Wars character even though the show hasn’t really earned that honor.

Yet, even with all of its flaws, I love the show.

Ezra is annoying but so was Luke and Anakin.  I’m not elevating him to their status, but he does follow their tradition.  If you were basically an all-powerful being as a teenager you would have a hard time coming to grips with authority – good or bad.  However, he does have a slight charm to him and you do worry about him.  Because he isn’t Luke or Anakin, you have no real idea of where he is going in the story.  He can die a hero or wait long enough to see himself become a villain.  Or just stay a hero.

What really helps Rebels is that the rest of the characters are fantastic.  Kanan has just the right amount of brooding and hope in his voice that you root for him.  Hera might be my favorite leader (she cares but sees the bigger picture) in all of Star Wars and if I was in a tight situation in space, it’s her I want piloting the ship. Zeb provides just enough comic relief without becoming campy, and Chopper is a perfect droid.  If I did have a complaint it would be about Sabine.  Not that her character is bad; I would actually rather the show have split and watched her lead her on show in which she leads the fight for Mandalore.

The animation is very good and sometimes great. Thrawn is a great villain as was the Inquisitor, Seventh Sister, and Fifth Brother. Introducing The Bendu, voiced by the great Tom Baker, brought another dimension to the legend of the Jedi. Having a member of the Empire turn and become part of the rebellion was also a great plot addition.

Again, I think the showrunning lacks some consistency, but Rebels is a great piece of the Star Wars canon. The Clone Wars will be the gold leader for Star Wars animation, but the Rebels provide a great backstory to other cells of the rebellion. Its function is to flesh out the universe of Star Wars and it does it very well. And for the most part, it’s just fun. Star Wars is at it greatest when it is at its darkest; however, fun Star Wars can also be great Star Wars.

That being said, I also have no problem with people skipping it.  I am a firm believer in make your own canon.