NOLA-ing: The Sound of Music Sing-Along

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Guess what is coming back to the National WWII Museum? The Sound of Music Sing-Along! On Saturday, Saturday, August 18, 2018, from 6:00 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. at the US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center, hosts Becky Allen, Sean Patterson, and Mandy Zirkenbach will preside over a night of singing, fun, and audience participation when The Sound of Music is presented on a big screen. Participants are encouraged to dress up, boo the Nazis, and sing along with everyone’s favorite Rodgers & Hammerstein tunes from the Austrian countryside.

Tickets are $10 and you can purchase them by clicking here (advanced purchase is required). They sell out extremely fast, and the museum notes that since The Sound of Music Sing-Along will feature unpredictable interactive elements in a live setting—costumes, Twitter posts, and the larger-than-life hosts—that may not be appropriate for all ages.

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Reviewing: Justice League Kicks

We haven’t been the biggest fan of the DCEU.  Man of Steel and Batman v Superman were overwrought and contradictory.  Beautiful to look at but frustrating to watch and listen to the words coming out of the actors’ mouths. So they were a lot like the Star Wars prequels to us.

However, we both enjoyed Justice League. It had some flaws, particularly the poor CGI with the main villain.  However, the story was good if not very deep.  Plus, it made the superheroes more human.  I know this will upset a lot of people, but I honestly think the reason people seem to like Marvel more is not because of the superheroes but because Marvel makes them human.  Watching gods can be boring unless they explore their human side.  This is especially true for Superman.  If he isn’t as human AND a son of Krypton, he has nothing stopping him from being a real god on earth.  And if you have read the excellent Injustice comics, this might not be necessarily a good thing.  As well as that comic and game series has done, I don’t think that would play well in the theaters.  And let’s face it comic book fans, these movies are not made for us.  They are not boutique films; they are made for people who only know about comics from going to the movies.

This might lead the works far from their source material, but it’s the reality of comic book movies. For the second time, DC has humanized them.  They expertly did this will Patty Jenkin’s Wonder Woman.  Zach Snyder (until I read something by him that says Justice League is not his vision, I’m giving him credit) doesn’t reach those heights but attempts to.  They introduce three new characters successfully. The action is fantastic. I walked out with a smile on my face and want to see the movie again.  Again, it does have flaws, but they did not spoil my enjoyment of the film.

However, the best moment of the film came when Wonder Woman was fighting.  This was when Miss Nola Nerd Baby decided to kick hard enough for me to feel it for the first time.  Mrs. Nola Nerd Couple just grabbed my hand, and there she was acting like the Wonder Woman she will be.

For that, Justice League will always be one of my favorite movie experiences ever!

Reading: The Long Halloween

I admit it.  I’m a newbie to the DC universe.  Most of the books that I will review here are some of the most popular books in the DC world and have been for some time.  I just figure some of our readers are long time nerds who can call me out on disagreements. I also figured that other readers are new to comics and these reviews might encourage them to try.

Batman: the Long Halloween is a collection of 13 comics in a limited series format written by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale. It was orignally published in 1996-97.

This story is set early into Batman’s career when Harvey Dent is only Harvey Dent. A murderer kills on a Halloween…and then Thanksgiving…Christmas…so forth. The killer gets the nickname Holiday since they are killing on Holidays. Most of the Batman cast is here from Alfred and Jim Gordon to most of the A list villains.

The focus of Holiday’s actions is Carmine “The Roman” Falcone”.  The killer is killing people close the mob boss.  Loeb peppers the dialogue in the mob scenes with plenty of references to The Godfather and a few to Goodfellas. The plot, on first reading, does not telegraph who Holiday is (though a reread will have you smiling a lot at how something so complex can look so simple once the mystery has been unlocked). I literally was guessing until the last page, and actually went back and read the four last pages twice the first time I read it.  Loeb crafts a master crime drama here.  He has fully developed Batman, Jim Gordon and Harvey Dent. I am still amazed how well the plot comes together.

Tim Sale’s artwork can be a offputting in that a lot of the characters are just ugly.  However, they are often mirroring what is on the inside.  He creates a great sense of atmosphere here. Classic film-noir and even classic horror help inform his art choices.  While the style at first put me off, I realized how important it was to the story Loeb was telling.

Hush, also by Loeb, was a great Batman story.  This is a great story that happens to have Batman in it.

Star Wars-ing: The Second Season of The Clone Wars

I was struck by how fantastic the first season of Clone Wars was.  I hated the movie that introduced the series finding it childish.  The series has proved to be deeper than most Star Wars vehicles and, in fact, more than most television shows in general.

The Halocron Heist Arc (S2E1-3)

Darth Sidious hires Cad Bane!  These are good episodes that help explain why Bane is such a fan favorite.  In fact, I’ve been putting loose change in to our Cad Bane bank for years because he was a favorite of Mrs. Nola Nerd Couple’s. However, it also shows a true evilness to Sidious instead of being the mostly shadow figure he is in the prequels.

Senate Spy (S2E4)

One of my favorite episodes of the series because it’s a strong Padame episode. Padame is a character that was wasted in the prequels (see Honest Trailers) but here she is a strong independent character in her own right. It also allows for her to have a past while the movies just focus her on protecting then pining for Anakin.

Genosis Arc (S2E5-8)

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Ahsoko and Barris in the Genosis Arc. Photo courtesy of Wookieepedia

Another arc that could have probably been release as a movie. This story highlights  Ahsoko Tano and Barris Offee as two different but capable padawans. Both have different approaches but both make their masters proud.  This arc does tie into the Darth Vader set of comics that have been released since Disney bought Star Wars. Great action set pieces are everywhere in this arc but it’s the quiet scenes that are fantastic.  The padawans are forced to make some very tough decisions. Ahsoko, in particular, here can be seen maturing throughout the arc.

Greivous Intrigue (S2E9)

I honestly don’t remember anything about this episode.  Probably, because I don’t find Grievous all that interesting.

The Deserter (S2E10)

Cut Lawquane, the deserter. Photo courtesy of Wookieepedia

Cut Lawquane, the deserter. Photo courtesy of Wookieepedia

My favorite episode so far. A clone has decided to desert and have his own life. He is his own person.  Captain Rex has issues with this because in his eyes all clones are brothers with the same purpose in life, but then finally understands by the end.  This episode is basically a monster trying to get into the house trope, but it is executed well. In fact, it is the only episode to make me jump. It is also the only episode so far that makes the Droid soldiers terrifying. But at the heart of this story is two clones and the voice acting of Mr. Baker is out of this world good.

Lightsaber Lost(S2E11)

This should be a bad episode.  The episode uses the silly old man but truly wise teacher trope. The ancient Jedi Master Tera Sinube is almost too cute to be taken seriously.  However, instead of being put off by his slow tortoise gimmick, I found him charming.  So does Ashoka as she learns her after-school special lesson about being a Jedi from Master Sinube.  Again, this episode should be awful, but it’s fantastic.

2nd Season Mandalore Arc(S2E12-14)

Santine, 2nd from left, and Obi Wan face a threat from the separatists. Photo courtesy of Wookieepedia

Santine, 2nd from left, and Obi Wan face a threat from the separatists. Photo courtesy of Wookieepedia

We are finally introduced to the wonderfully named Santine (reference to Moulin Rouge!).  Lots of intrigue and showing that this is a much deeper conflict than Sidious against the Jedi.  In fact, there is a moment in the first episode of this arc that is so brutal it’s one of the best moments in all of the Star Wars canon. A member of a group the Death Watch is wounded.  His commander looks at him, states “Failure,” and then proceeds to kill him with a single shot. The bad guys in Star Wars are often not very bad due to appealing to children but this moment decided to go there. We not only see a bad guy hit something with a shot, we see him kill in cold blood.  And it was an ally at that.  We also get to see Obi-Wan be more developed for know we know that he has a past. And in that past, he was in love with Santine. It provides a counterpoint to Anakin and Padame’s relationship. Santine and Obi’s stories are too important for this to be a one off arc.

Senate Murders (S2E15)

A classic whodunit trope. Good but not great.

Cat and Mouse (S2E16)

Good episode that does a good job of dealing with just war strategy.  Strongly echoes the Hunt for Red October, which is a compliment. In fact, it’s high praise.

Bounty Hunters (S2E17)

Obi-Wan and Anakin train some farmers to help protect their crops.  Even though it is a Hondo episode, it’s as exciting as it sounds.

The Zillo Beast Arc (E18-19)

 

During a battle, a beast is unleashed that has impentrable armour.  In fact, only one thing that can kill it is a gas from it’s planet.  In a King Kong trope, we have some decent action scenes.  However, the monster is focused on killing Palpatine. Is this character the only sentient being that can recognize him for what he is?  Which leads to the obvious question, how can no one recognize him? Does he just give off so much negative energy that others can’t sense his presence?  Either way, these episode works and works well.  At the end, I had to take a break from watching the series because I was so upset.  The end sequence is chilling when Palpatine declares he wants to clone the beast that so desperately wanted to kill him.

The 2nd Season Boba Fett Arc (S2E20-22)

Again, I’m not a fan of Boba Fett.  That doesn’t mean that I’m anti-Fett, it’s just that I don’t have enough information to be a fan of his. He doesn’t do much in the trilogy, not enough for me to be Team Fett.   This does provide a little back story, but it is one of a child still grieving from his the death of his father.  This arc reminds us that R2D2 is the baddest droid in the galaxy and might be the most heroic character in all of Star Wars.

Random Notes:

  • My favorite episodes tend to be centered around the clones.  The fact that the clones are getting weaker because of Jango’s death is fascinating.
  • The Deserter episode plays to the strengths of The Clone Wars.  The better the quieter moments are the better the action is.
  • Ashley Eckstein and Catherine Tabor do excellent voice work this season.

Star Wars-ing: The Clone Wars Season 1 Episodes 17-22

 

The Blue Shadow Virus (s1 E17-18):

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Image from Wookieepedia

An amazingly complex idea is rendered into what I consider the first “for children” episode of the series .  The subject matter is biological warfare and that brings up a slew of questions that could elevate this The Clone Wars episode into something special and extraordinary for animated series. However, the evil scientist Dr. Nuvo Vindi, while written well, is rendered into a stereotype by  some over voice acting by Michael York. Still, the fact that series even addresses this topic noteworthy.

The Ryloth Arc (S1 E19-21):

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Image from Wookieepedia

This is a quality war arc that could easily have been an offshoot movie that Disney seems to be focused on doing these days (that’s not a complaint!).   Because it has the time and freedom to do so, it ventures into territories that the movies rarely do: how the wars affect children and families and the politics of individual planets.  This is hard for movies to do because they have to paint in broad strokes, but this show is given the breadth to do so.  This is one of the arcs that remind you there are reasons for the fighting besides showcasing great actions scenes (which it does at well).

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Image from Wookieepedia

Hostage Crisis (S1 E22)

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Image from Wookieepedia

We are introduced to Cad Bane, my personal favorite bounty hunter in the entire saga. (I’ve never understood the Fett fascination). Not much in new territory, but it does help develop Anakin and Padame’s relationship more.  The animated versions have way more chemistry than the actors in the prequels do.

Random Thoughts:

  • I love Tom Kane’s Narrator. It’s a underrated aspect of the show giving us a WWII newsreel feel before plunging us into the action.  It’s an audio-visual counterpoint to the yellow word screen crawl and is perfect for the TV show.
  • I could live without the “fortune cookie” saying before every episode, though.
  • Dee Bradley Baker is a genius.  He voices all the troopers and yes they all sound alike.  However, he is talented enough to make each have a distinct personality.
  • If Matt Lanter can act as well as he can voice act, then expect great things from in the future.
  • Phil Lamarr is Marvin from Pulp Fiction!
  • Dave Filoni is brilliant.

Star Wars-ing: The Clone Wars Season 1 Episodes 1-16

Mrs. Nola Nerd Couple has been encouraging me to watch Star Wars: The Clone Wars.  I saw the movie that kicked off the TV show and, frankly, hated it. Yet, season after season, she has talked endlessly about how good the show is.  My resistance held firm. Then she started watching Rebels.  I would try not to pay attention to that show and it didn’t work. I became hooked.

Now that I’m hooked on Rebels, I really do want to watch the show.  So here is the start of my reviews for the show. I will try to group them by story arc instead of reviewing each show individually.  Of course, spoilers will be all over the place!

Season 1

Ambush (S1E1)

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This is a one off and a weird start to the show. Anakin, Ahsoka, and Obi-Wan do not appear in the show.  It doesn’t really set up the show or provide a true bridge from the movie to the show. This isn’t a problem.  This is a great episode. Yoda is the focus of the episode and anytime I get to see Yoda be a total warrior is a good episode.  It does also set up Dooku and Grievous’s relationship.

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Star Wars-ing: Princess Leia

When I first read Princess Leia, I thought it was a light story that was ok. In fact, I wasn’t even going to review it. Then for some reason, I couldn’t shake the story. I kept thinking about it. So I gave it a reread. It’s not light at all. In fact, I think its one of the best comics I’ve read in some time.

Mark Waid wrote the story with Terry Dodson doing the pencils and Rachel Dodson inking the series. Jordie Bellaire colored the run.

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The story picks up where Episode IV ends. We are at the medal ceremony and our heroes are parting ways. However, every one treats Leia as she should be grieving. She should; her planet was blown to bits in front of her. Because of interplanetary travel, there are surviving Alderaanians. This becomes the mission of Leia in this 5 issue run.

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