Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Invasion (2021 - Season 1)

Did US Special Forces face ship or creature?


You know the standard alien invasion story package: aliens attack worldwide; earthly weapons have no effect; aliens do terraforming. Invasion stuck to just that list. 10 episodes in all and I did not see the alien race that wants to take over the Earth. I can barely even remember a ship.

But why isn’t there one well defined ship? Why not a fleet and do an alien blitzkrieg? 

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Some people see my Blog Pics, Some Don't - Technical Issues


My Oct 8 and the uploaded GIF I couldn't see

This is to document a technical issue I experienced from blogger.com. Out of the blue my pictures appeared selectively to various readers. It would have been simpler if everything was down, as catastrophic as that may be.

I couldn’t see it on desktop, I couldn’t see it on my mobile while on WiFi, but it is there if I am on data connection. Some friends can see it and some don’t, with no discernible pattern – at least in the Philippines – on who gets to see the pictures.

Friday, October 08, 2021

3 in If Wishes Were Horses (Deep Space Nine S01-E16)


From story to title, I always thought The Next Generation episode Where No One Has Gone Before was designed beautifully.  The USS Enterprise was thrown millions of light years away from Federation Space because of the Traveler who was powered only by thought. 

Simply put, to go where you haven't been you must first think. Imagination has always been the cornerstone of many science fiction stories. This episode, If Wishes Were Horses, will only be the latest in that long tradition. 

Thursday, October 07, 2021

Heretic (The Grail Quest)

Heretic is thematically in-step with the name of the series – the Grail Quest – but is it a case of too little too late? The Grail Quest is a 4 book series, Heretic is the 3rd; although I am not sure if the supposed last book, 1356, is a natural book 4 because some google searches only had the Quest up to 3 books. Maybe Cornwell saw Heretic extremely lacking and made a 4th book.

Thomas of Hookton got himself out of Edward III’s French Campaign. He’s not a deserter; he formally embarks on a quest for the grail, accompanied by Sir Guillaume, Robbie Douglas, and a small contingent of archers and men-at-arms from the King’s army. After 2 books of being a tourist in Edward III’s part of the Hundred Years War we finally focus on the grail.

Monday, September 27, 2021

Fukushima 50 (2020)

Tsunami was 43-46 feet high

It was one of those what-am-I-going-to-watch moments that I came upon Chernobyl among my files. But I've seen that, so I wondered if there is a series or movie about the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant? That's how I came by Fukushima 50, the only movie that came up in a google search. 

According to legend, 50 plant workers remained to save the nuclear plant and the rest were evacuated. In reality, there were more than 50 workers as back up from all over country was already on site, but the zeitgeist had already favored the number 50.

Friday, August 27, 2021

3 in Progress (Deep Space Nine S01-E15)

All the inhabitants should've been evacuated by now.

Deep Space Nine Episode 15, Progress, takes another shot at Major Kira Nerys. It is thematically closest to Past Prologue, wherein she encountered fellow freedom fighter Tahna Los. That episode created conflict between 2 sides of Kira, the former terrorist and now the government official. 

Sunday, July 18, 2021

3 in The Storyteller (Deep Space Nine S01-E14)

I knew the prophets wouldn't fail us

Through the episodes so far it is obvious that Chief O’Brien doesn’t want to be around Doctor Bashir. I don’t understand what his problems are with him. Personally I am not a fan of the Doctor but maybe I'm calling it too early in the series. The Chief has had the choice of avoiding the man until this episode.

Here are the 3 notable things in The Storyteller.

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

3 in Battle Lines (Deep Space Nine S01-E13)

But it is a glimpse into the Cardassian mind.

It seems that Kira Nerys has more things in common with Tahna Los than what was revealed in Past Prologue. She only mentions broad strokes here in Battle Lines. How hard and dirty the fighting was against the Cardassians, and how she’s feels the utmost shame for it.

Major Kira is as tied as Tahna Los is to the past, albeit only inwardly at this point, and it still burns her. Here are the 3 things that stand out in the episode.

Sunday, June 13, 2021

3 in Vortex (Deep Space Nine S01-E12)

Paranoia must run in your species, Odo...maybe that's why no one's ever seen another shape-shifter

First inkling we had of Odo's baggage, so to speak, was in the pilot episode The Emissary. He expressed longing to know who he is and where he came from. Odo even used the term “forced” alluding to passing himself off as human, which tells you a certain level of loneliness. 

Thursday, June 03, 2021

Vagabond (The Grail Quest)

Without a doubt Bernard Cornwell can write battle scenes with great detail, but in Vagabond, book 2 of the Grail Quest, I feel there’s too much of it. Two great battles serve as bookends. Come to think of it, in Harlequin there are also two, so why did I enjoy that book more than this one?

For one, that first battle in the book 1 of the Grail Quest was a siege. As a siege there is no big inferno that would block out any character movement or growth. Soldiers wait in a siege for months; occasionally they would attack just to see if the wall is still standing.

That siege happened just a little after the massacre in Hookton which drove Thomas to sign up for the English army invading France. Story wise, I can pick Thomas out from the crowd as they say.

He was an up and coming star in the Army under Will Skeat, so as a reader you are caught up in only his growth. One by one he bumps into men of title leading the siege until eventually his plan rises on top, eventually used to winning the La Roche-Derrien. The walls of the La Roche-Derrien surrounded by the English army are only second in importance. 

In Vagabond, emotional as battles can be, the narrative emotion stops. I’m not as emotionally aware where Thomas is if I care at all.

Battles are about the field, the formation, what types or soldiers are placed where, the movement. There’s also the ebb and flow, sometimes one side looks like it is winning, and then after adjustment the other side is able to fight back. Always the appreciation of the battle is the bigger picture, keeping that map in mind. Point is, as far as story telling is concerned, I have been jarred out of Thomas’ headspace. Battles are not about individuals.

I think Cornwell approached the Grail Quest as a tour of the entire campaign of King Edward III against France, from the fields of Brittany to Calais to the borders of Scotland, with Thomas the Archer as the tourist.

It can be argued that at the forefront of the story is the super soldier of the times, the archer, and with it the social upheavals between classes: the moneyed armored knights and the everyday man who can pick up a longbow. Following the story of the English archer – not just Thomas – is the fate of two countries in England and France who are the epitome of the battling war philosophies: archers versus knights.

The Grail, which what this series is named after, and the mysterious Vexille family who have long been connected with the legends of the Grail, come in ironically at a distant third.

Hell, even at book 2, Thomas is still confused or not that interested with finding, for lack of a better term, his family heirloom. He is as I said a tourist pulled into many theaters in this Edward IIIs so far triumphant stint in the Hundred Years War. So, on that point, at least from the point of expectation Book 2 is a disappointment.

The atmosphere of the Holy Grail needs more religion and mystery than he’s setting up. It could be a bad case of marketing or a poor choice of a macguffin. Bernard Cornwell description of the political and military situation is just that great. Having read only my second series of him – Warlord Chronicles being the first – politics and the army seems to be more his forte.

3 in The Nagus (Deep Space Nine S01-E11)

Our word can be our bond...until we break it

The Ferengi I remember of Star Trek the Next Generation is a pirate. 

Two that come to mind are DaiMon Bractor and Letek. They both went against the USS Enterprise: Bractor went against the Galaxy-class starship itself as a Commander of a Marauder, and Letek, while part of a landing party, ambushed Commander Riker’s Away Team. Both were profit motivated attacks which were unlike the Romulans or the Klingons.

Saturday, May 15, 2021

3 in Move Along Home (Deep Space NIne S01-E10)

We were told you had games..take us to Quark's

Commander Benjamin Sisko finally gets the formal first contact meeting he has desired since the episode Captive Pursuit. He has brought out his dress uniform, imagined himself doing all the expected diplomatic ceremony, and was quite irritated that Doctor Bashir does not share the same enthusiasm. 

Monday, May 10, 2021

3 Things I Hate about Without Remorse (2021)


Is there possibility of the new John Clark meeting up with the new Jack Ryan?

There was a time when a trip to the mall wasn’t complete without me digging for Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan series at a second hand book shop. I was able to collect many including the spin-off novel Without Remorse. For those not in the know John Clark was Jack Ryan’s top field man since Ryan was more into analysis and policy especially when the books made him the President of the United States.

Sunday, May 09, 2021

Travelers (Showcase) (2016 - season 1)

There are 3 travelers in this picture, from 2 teams

Travelers are time traveling sleeper agents embedded in the 21st century. They come in teams like Mission Impossible except the team never gets to go home. There’s a leader, medic, hacker, the muscle; and there’s usually a number 2 man whose narrative roll is to spoil the team leader.

Wednesday, May 05, 2021

Harlequin (The Grail Quest)

Harlequin or to the US market The Archer’s Tale is the story of Thomas, a young man of a quiet seaside town of Hookton, England. The town fell to French raiders and among those killed was his father. So young men do what is expected, they vow revenge.

Problem is he has no idea who the raider was aside from the fact they were French and he managed to note a coat of arms among them. But in the 14th century with no benefit of a Google Lens search the task ahead was still insurmountable especially on foreign soil. So the next best thing that Thomas can do is kill any Frenchman. He signs up with the English army to join a war in France as an Archer.

Plot wise this is where the story may feel stalled. The book opened up with a desire for revenge but the Hookton raid and the coat of arms was sparingly talked about if at all for maybe half the book. This is only my second series written by Bernard Cornwell, my first was the Warlord Chronicles; I’m hanging on faith that his first books are detailed setups. The action comes in the second book.

For most of this book Thomas is reacting to his orders, after all he fights for the King of England. And he cannot just pack up to go on a private revenge tour in a foreign country. So instead of revenge Harlequin becomes more an account of 14th century warfare.

There is the army composition meaning there isn’t an army in the modern sense; professional soldiers under one ministry under the head of state, which in the 14th century is the King. It seems like the King has his rich Lords do many of the hiring. If there was regular pay I cannot remember, but if the army won they’re allowed to loot the city of treasures including the rape its local women.
art by Sergey Shikin


There is also the issue of class status in the army. Thomas is an archer which is an upstart class. The armored knight fall into the romance and tradition, and wealth: armor costs money, longbows not as much. Disagreements between these classes of soldiers point further the irregular nature of the 14th century army.

Like the Warlord Chronicles, Cornwell can write you a detailed play by play from all sections of a battle line. The story is filled with battles and the sacking of the town, city, or castle afterwards. Peaceful moments are just the preparation to the next battle. The Battle of Crécy feels like it’s a quarter to half a book when I read it from preparation to every troupe movement to its ending.

As far as detail and the beauty of the writing as far as war is concerned, I’d say Cornwell has successfully put me in the mind of Thomas as I am always thinking of the French country side and the next battle. The detail was so real and specific that when the Holy Grail was mentioned it feels out of place amid the muck of 14th century warfare. I am almost as annoyed of the Holy Grail is and for exactly the same reason as Thomas.

Is it a negative on Bernard Cornwell’s part that I am not interested in the Grail after Harlequin? But I am interested in seeing justice for Hookton. Onward to Vagabond.

View all my reviews

Monday, May 03, 2021

The Father (2020)

Watches are more reliable than memories

The Father takes a brave approach to the question of aging. Florian Zeller, director and co-writer, tells the story from the point of view of Anthony (Anthony Hopkins) who is obviously not in full control of his mental faculties.

Sunday, May 02, 2021

3 in The Passenger (Deep Space Nine S01-E09)


Religion and superstition never asked how to prolong life because the soul is the answer. When the body dies there is an eternal place of rest waiting for the living soul. Now what if the soul has a scientific angle shall we say?

Monday, April 19, 2021

3 in Dax (Deep Space Nine S01-E08)

The fugitive Dax is charged with treason... and the murder of my father.

I like this episode. Dax, in the 90s, for its entire runtime was a compelling story modeled on the Ship of Theseus argument way before Wandavision and its 2 minute scene. It’s only fault is that the episode didn’t draw attention to itself as identity metaphysics.

What I also love of the episode is that it deals with lies: those we tell ourselves, the reputations we value, and the lies a country tells to itself too.

Friday, April 16, 2021

3 in Q-Less (Deep Space Nine S01-E07)

No wonder you're not commanding a Starship.

I forget. Did Captain Picard ever do the jamaharon with Vash?

The onetime entanglement of Captain Picard resurfaces from the wrong side of the wormhole: Lt. Dax found her in the Gamma Quadrant. She said she was stranded for 2 years - probably pre-wormhole - which should have been a warning but getting lost was not a crime. In any case, Vash has dependably brought trouble aboard the station along with her previous ride to the Gamma Quadrant: Q.

This episode is a momentum killer as much as momentum can be in an episodic TV series. We’ve seen glimpses of Bajor, tackled some history of the DS9’s Bajoran crew; Tosk was just the first of what could be beyond the wormhole. 

Well, technically today’s trouble came from the wormhole, but with old faces from The Next Generation it felt more like a bridge than a road to new adventures.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Excalibur (The Warlord Chronicles)

Excalibur (The Warlord Chronicles, #3)
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I always come back to the magic, and like in the previous two books I don’t know where I want to be. We can have a world where magicians levitate at will, shoot energy blasts, shape change, teleport, or none of it, just to keep this a grounded medieval adventure. The previous two struck a difficult balance between actual magic, dumb luck, and men who know a bit of science and present them as magic.

Enemy of God (The Warlord Chronicles)

Enemy of God (The Warlord Chronicles, #2)
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I like this, book 2 of the Warlord Chronicles, Enemy of God, better than the first. Reason one is that everything has already been setup in part one and now the story can go into action as they say. Lancelot, Merlin, and Galahad are firmly set that all the story could do is begin its steady march towards the inevitable.

The Winter King (The Warlord Chronicles)

The Winter King (The Warlord Chronicles #1)
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Winter King reads like the narrative presents itself to be, a personal take by one of Arthur’s warriors.

There are parts when you feel like it’s messy and long, such as getting taxes and telling the story of a battle from a perspective right along the shield wall. Names of places like Dumnonia and Powys, or a king like Gorfyddyd doesn’t help in the marketing, or not even my own memory as I struggle to recall half the names and places in the story. Camelot and Excalibur have different names too which I now fail to recall. But I have to admit it makes it more real, like a history book.

Friday, April 09, 2021

3 in Captive Pursuit (Deep Space Nine S01-E06)

Chief O'Brien and Tosk enjoying common ground: engineering problems

The Gamma Quadrant comes alive for the first time in the episode Captive Pursuit. An unassuming ship came out of the wormhole, damaged; carrying a nervous looking passenger. He is a Tosk, a species bread to be the most formidable prey in an interstellar fox hunt. 

Before you know it, the  visitor that intended to just pass through becomes a friend. Is Tosk a pitiful creature needing Starfleet help? Or should the Federation pity themselves for having holosuites? Let me explain.

Here are 3 notable moments in Captive Pursuit.

Monday, April 05, 2021

Godzilla vs Kong (2021)

Evading Godzilla's blast from underwater. Why did Kong even survive this?

My impression of this universe of Godzilla and King Kong is that they are nature personified. The kaijus are the real lords of earth. Gods. 

Saturday, March 27, 2021

3 in Babel (Deep Space Nine S01-E05)

Commander Sisko and Doctor Bashir talking about who could have made the virus

Let’s just call this the pandemic episode, biblical name of Babel notwithstanding. There’s the speaking-in-tongues part but none of it due to the chasing of the divine. It was a biological attack meant for the Occupation but triggered way too late.

Monday, March 22, 2021

3 in A Man Alone (Deep Space Nine S01-E04)


The introduction tour continues with episode 4 - A Man Alone - with Security Chief Odo, the second non-Starfleet officer under Commander Sisko’s authority, taking point.

Like Major Kira, Odo has history tracing back to the Occupation, but unlike Kira who has taken an aggressive stance against the Cardassians, Odo is that rare animal who is respected by both Cardassians and Bajor. He was security chief then and even up to now in a Deep Space Nine under Bajoran/Federation control. 

And one of the people he put away, a Bajoran named Ibudan, came back to the station to get revenge.

Here are the 3 notable moments in the episode.

Sunday, March 14, 2021

3 in Past Prologue (Deep Space Nine S01-E03)

Would you blame Tahna's methods or that he had suffered?

Past Prologue dives into the adage ‘one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter’ by reuniting Major Kira Nerys with Tahna Los, a Bajoran and fellow freedom fighter. They fought against the occupation, used many of the same methods against the Cardassians. There is no insurmountable difference between them if there is at all. 

And yet when the Cardassians left, Kira accepted a post with the provisional government while Tahna fights that same government under the Kohn-Ma. From 2 freedom fighters it is now a case of former freedom fighter reunites with terrorist.

Sunday, March 07, 2021

3 in Emissary (Deep Space Nine S01E01-E02)

Kai Opaka has found the Emissary, a non-Bajoran

This is to start a new writing exercise. Let’s see if I can finish all 7 seasons.

For every Star Trek Deep Space Nine episode I will highlight 3 things, anything of interest good and bad. About month ago, I finished watching the series in its entirety for the first time and I have to say, it is the best spin-off in the franchise. 

3 Things I like in the Superman and Lois Pilot Episode

Would you look at that suit. 

It is different from the Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover where I last saw lead stars Tyler Hoechlin (Superman) and Elizabeth Tulloch (Lois) as guests. Without that odd looking lock between shoulder and cape its design is closer to Man of Steel, giving the impression that it wants more distance from the Arrowverse

And if you count the cinematography, the music, the special effects, the drama, the social issues and themes introduced: Superman and Lois can compete with Man of Steel. But for me it is the better Superman. A surprising conclusion considering I gave up on Arrowverse. 

One hopes the series will not run out of steam, after all, this is just the pilot. These are the 3 noteworthy points of interest in the new series Superman and Lois.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

What's with that Home Invasion in Cobra Kai?

The ending that shouldn't be, a truce, because Sam was approaching.

A bullying story requires flying under the radar of all adults – they should not have any reason to fully intervene. That is so we get the satisfying resolution of the bullied gaining confidence, learning to stand up for himself which then leads to gaining everyone's respect. 

If adults were in the thick of these kinds of stories then all they will do is file complaints, maybe police, and lawsuits. And yes it could get worse that lawsuits.