MOVIE REVIEW: Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves (2023)

Well, you probably know the deal by know. At least I hope you do. A team of adventurers realizes that when their last “heist” went to heck, the wrong person got the wrong item. And that they are getting back together to stop her from carrying out her evil plan.

At least that’s what the trailers and ads tell you.

The main plot line actually concerns Edgin (Chris Pine) breaking out of jail so he can go get his daughter back and rebuild his family. If it happens that he and the gang discover the evil scheme along the way and decide to stop it, well, why not?

Having actually paid to see it in a theater, I noted that the movie satisfies no matter what your level of D&D knowledge might be.

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Let’s Kill Hitler!

The opening scene of the Doctor Who episode “Let’s Kill Hitler” (Series 6, Episode 8) ends with a secondary character (Melody Pond) holding a handgun and saying to The Doctor, “I’ve got a gun, you’ve got a time machine. What the hell, let’s kill Hitler!”

Aaaaand instead of some serious contemplation of the ethics of killing a person – even someone like Hitler – or The Doctor lecturing on how “You can’t rewrite history! Not one line! Believe me, I know!”, they wind up converting the episode into “Let’s Quickly Shove Hitler Into a Closet, and Spend the Rest of the Episode Doing Character Development”.

It was a real disappointment.

One of the most popular “alternate histories” is that where Germany / The Nazis win the Second World War. It’s justifiable to remind us of the evils of Nazism / fascism, but it’s at the point of being so overdone it’s boring.

What would be more interesting to see would be how WWII or even the rise of Nazism could be avoided in the first place.

What if you could go back in time, and stop Hitler? Continue reading

Movie Review: Matinee (1993)

Gene Loomis (Simon Fenton) is a “Navy Brat”, bouncing around from school to school, never being able to make many friends. His dad’s current assignment finds him in Key West, FL, in the fall of 1962. A fan of horror / monster movies, he’s delighted that moviemaker Lawrence Woolsey (John Goodman) is coming to town for the grand premiere of his latest flick, Mant!

Alas, life gets in the way of his pleasure. The Russians have put nuclear missiles on Cuba, and his dad is on one of the ships heading out to enforce the blockade quarantine.

The show must go on, however, and Gene winds up as sort of an informal assistant / sidekick to Woolsey as he sets up all the theater gimmicks that he’s known for. Though it’s anyone’s guess as to whether or not the Commies will allow the premiere to go on as scheduled.

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Book Review: The Chanting

The Chanting
Beverly T. Haaf
Jersey Pines Ink
Copyright 2021 by the author

Janet is having a nightmare. She’s hearing the sound of a baby crying, but cannot get to the infant. Everything seems to be in the wrong place….

Well, she has been under a lot of stress lately. She’s staying with her sister in a rather well-to-do neighborhood near Princeton NJ as she waits for her divorce to be finalized. And she still hasn’t quite gotten over the death of her infant daughter. So yes, she’s probably imagining things.

But why does she keep “sensing” (for lack of a better term) suffering children? What’s the deal with that mute little girl who keeps showing up in the neighborhood? And that senile old woman who’s always dressed in black? And that cat that seems to have the run of the neighborhood? Is she going nuts, or is there really something to worry about with that big old yellow house?

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Adventures in Car Buying

My 2012 Ford Fiesta never gave me any serious trouble. I bought it brand new – the dealership took care of regular maintenance, a local mechanic dealt with the few urgent matters that came up, and a regional chain of tire stores handled tire replacement. Other than tires, brakes, and a new battery, nothing needed replacement – or even tinkering.

So when the “Check Engine” light turned on this February, I was a little bit concerned. The car was getting on in years and miles, so…. I brought it to a nearby parts store that offered a free “Scan for the fault code” service. The report produced said it was something that didn’t make much sense to me (I forget exactly what it was). The car was still running well, so I figured I’d keep an eye on things until my next scheduled maintenance, which wasn’t too far off.

After a while, though, the light turned off. “Hooray!” I thought. “It was just a sensor glitch, or something equally innocuous.” After another week or so, it came back on. Then it turned off for a few days. Then it came back on – and this time, there was an obvious and major problem The car didn’t seem to be able to run in any gear other than “reverse” or “first” (or “low”). My local mechanic ran the diagnostic, and said the “transmission control module” was shot.

Time to call the dealer….

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Watching Baseball at the Office

Now, I really can’t watch any games. There’s no TV in the office, and even if I had a subscription or the like that let me watch them online, I doubt they’d let me get away with it – even if it wasn’t bothering my co-workers or interfering with my work.

Fortunately, there are at least two websites that effectively track games in real time, and display enough action so that it’s kind of like listening to a game on the radio. Sort of. A good enough equivalent, at any rate. Continue reading

Book Review: The Vortex

The Vortex: A True Story of History’s Deadliest Storm, an Unspeakable War, and Liberation
Scott Carney and Jason Miklian
Copyright 2022 by the authors

In November, 1970, a cyclone slammed into East Pakistan. It was the deadliest storm in history, leaving some half a million dead in its wake. Fifteen months later, after a brutal and genocidal war, the nation of Bangladesh was born. As Carney and Miklian show, the events were not unconnected.

Through a mass of documentation and interviews with people who were there, Carney and Miklian have recreated the setting and placed you right in the action.

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And See Who Salutes

You probably missed it, but Utah has a new state flag, replacing its old cluttered and frankly ugly one:

Utah’s old flag


A good number of other states are considering redesigns as well, and not just to remove traces of the Confederacy or other things of “questionable” merit. It’s that most state flags are crap. Vexillalogists Vexillololiphiles Flag buffs describe most of them as “S.O.B.s”, meaning that they are nothing more than the state seal on a blue field. Which does very little towards making a flag distinctive, which is one of the most important things you want in a flag.

Anyone with a minimal design sense can slap together a decent flag, as long as you follow a few basic rules: Keep it simple, have no words or numbers, make it distinctive, and give it some connection to what it represents.

Since I have at least a minimal design sense, there’s nothing to stop me from having a go at the flags of the two states that I have called home. And as it happens, they’re both SOB’s that cry out for a redesign.

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Opening Day

A new baseball season is upon us, and there are a lot of changes in store.

Rather than the basic “if everything goes right for my team, and wrong for everyone else, my team just might make the playoffs” discussion, almost all the talk has been about the many rule changes that MLB has instituted.

The pitch clock and other ones covering the “pace of play” have gotten the most attention, and as we’ve seen in Spring Training, are working out as intended. Teams have adjusted to them, as well as the rules regarding defensive shifts and stolen bases.

But there are a few others that have largely flown under the radar.

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Movies I’d Like to See – The Fantasy Series

Seems that these days, all the fantasy movies and series are based on Tolkien or similar epics, or some YA stories about wizard schools. They can be fine, but they get repetitive after a while.

As it happens, there’s a bunch of fantasy stories that, as far as I know, have never been adapted to a video medium. They deal with the adventures of two, well, “rogues” is what most would call them, but they aren’t anti-heroes or ne’er-do-wells or anything like that. They are just two great friends who travel their world looking for adventure and enough money to buy a round of drinks at the nearest tavern, and perhaps invite one or two of the ladies there up to their room. They are adult men, after all.

I’m referring to Fritz Leiber’s “Fahfrd and the Grey Mouser” stories. Continue reading