A Decade Later…

Happy New Year!

I graduated college on December 22, 2007. On December 31, 2007, I uprooted my entire life in New York and was putting a key into my new apartment in Marion, Iowa by January 1st, 2008.

To commemorate my decade anniversary as an Iowan, I dug up old Facebook posts.

A lot has happened since these old posts. A lot. As I enter into 2018, I can’t help but be excited for what life will throw at me in the next decade. I’m happier now than I have been in my entire life and am married to the most wonderful person I have ever met. Iowa has brought me happiness this last 10 years. I’m so excited for it to continue.

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Musings on CW Superhero Shows

So, I love the CW Superhero shows. A lot. For this reason, I wanted to review/comment on them as they come out. I’m a few episodes behind, so this is my catch up post. In the future, I’m going to write each segment after I’ve seen the episode so that it’s fresh in my mind, but I’ll post them after Arrow airs. Expect Spoilers!
Second disclaimer: I love these shows. They can’t do anything wrong, so my reviews are going to be heavily biased. They will be less reviews and more musings about each episode.
Supergirl, 3×01
Kick off the season with Smallville’s Lois Lane kicking down doors as the new version of Kara’s mother. That’s pretty badass. I liked the way they had her dealing with Mon-El’s leaving, but I feel like a lot of what they dealt with (Alien vs. Human) has kind of already been done. I mean, are they really going to show try to convince us that Kara doesn’t care about Alex and Maggie’s marriage stuff? I’m happy she came around by the end.
Random thoughts:
  • Loved the lifting the Sub thing she did. Really liked Lena Luthor this episode.
  • They did a really good job getting me interested in the Rubie stuff. I really want to know what’s going on there. I know a little bit from online, but I don’t know how they plan on getting there, and that has me excited.
  • Lena Luthor buying CatCo came across as very Michael Rosenbaum in Smallville. Loveable Lex could always be counted on to solve everyone’s problems by spending a shit ton of money. “You want the Talon, here, I’ll help you buy it.” “Hit Clark with my car? I’ll buy him a truck.” They’ve decided to follow Smallville’s narrative a little bit here, and I think that might be a good thing when you’re dealing with a new character that Kara is supposed to end up hating (I assume).
3×02
This episode should have been the first episode. I liked the character development that we got with Kara and her fears of the pod and then the awesome explanation for why she’s still upset. Also, Alex and Maggie never had the kids talk. Uh Oh.
Random thoughts:
  • I didn’t like Lena in this episode so much.
  • I don’t get her animosity with Jimmy Olsen at all.
  • Oh, and the ending with J’onn and M’gann was a good ending. Loved that.
The Flash, 4×01
I loved this episode. It was, obviously, a perfect mirror of the original first episode of the Flash. I wasn’t a fan of how Wally and Vibe are supposedly not as solid as Barry at being superheroes. I get it as a plot device, but Wally is as fast as Barry ever was, and Cisco is pretty kickass. Whatever, it was a great episode. Another flaw I saw, that doesn’t get dealt with properly until the second episode in my opinon, was Iris not wanting Barry back. It made sense once episode 2 aired. Loved how they dealt with bringing Barry’s mind back. Also, how friggen kickass is it that they couldn’t stop Barry from getting out of the cell? On another note, the is she, isn’t she with Caitlyn is getting old. Just make a decision and let us know if she’s an ice queen or not.
Random thoughts:
  • This house is bitchin’. That was great.
  • I also really missed Harrison Wells in this episode. Which version of him? All of them, really.
  • The Thinker was a little cartoony, but it was ok.
  • This is my favorite of the superhero shows. Very happy this is back.
  • I also liked that we’re back to comic book Barry who is mentally stable after the death of his family. It’s fun again.
4×02
Everything about this episode was perfect. I loved the crossover stuff with the mention of Oliver. This episode was good fun. Kilg%re was a great badguy and we got to see Forensic Barry and Tech Consultant Cisco again. Captain Singh was back, too, which is always a plus. I liked having Caitlyn back, and loved the Cisco/Gypsy stuff that’s building up to the introduction of her father, Breacher.
Random thoughts:
This was a good way to explain the new team dynamic.
I liked the therapy scenes a lot.
This was the first episode where I started wondering what happened to Iris’ writing career…
Did anyone else notice that they started repairing the Star Labs burn marks on the outside? It’s only been four years, way to get on that guys…
Legends of Tomorrow, 3×01
Wow, they really shoehorned this plot together… I feel like they wanted season 2’s finale to lead to a very specific plot of repairing the timeline and then decided that was a lot of work and screw it, let’s just do this completely other thing that undoes all that we set up with that huge cliffhanger at the end of season 2. This episode made me very unhappy with Rip, too. I am now deciding that this Rip is still the altered one from Season 2. Geeze, it’s obvious that Victor Garber is on his way out. Wonder how they’ll make Firestorm work… How the hell are they going to justify to me, their audience that loves them no matter what, that Rip, who basically wants to fuck Gideon, turned Gideon off for 5 years?
Things that I loved:
  • Mick has a lot of STD’s
  • Amaya’s story tying into the rest of the universe.
  • Using the old missions as training scenarios.
  • I went to IMDB and started reading quotes, and quickly realized that I loved this episode. I take back everything.
  • “Sometimes we screw things up for the better.”
  • Love everything Mick. He’s always so great. Really want to see more of him and “Haircut.” They’re great together.
  • While I feel like Sara would have gone off and joined back up with Oliver and company instead of working in Housewares ala Ash J. Williams, I liked it anyway.
3×02
This episode was more fun than the season’s first episode. We got to see some of my favorite things in the form of Ray building tech and Nick bro-ing it up. This episode was worth it for the big showdown between Sara and Agent Sharpe. Also, Gary added some great comedic powers to the episode.
Random thoughts:
  • Amaya is a literal beast.
  • Shrink rays show that Ray is still the awesome tech monster he is and was totally wasted on that Tinder knockoff.
  • Victor Garber as a clown is great!
  • Even better was Victor Garber hating on the Titanic. Classic, love it.
  • Damn…Billy Zane got old…and is still weird.
Arrow, 6×01
This episode really glossed over what would have probably been a great episode in everyone leaving or surviving the island. The plot points they made me care about involved whatever’s going on with John, Felicity’s weird standoff style interest in Oliver’s kid, and Quinton’s alcoholism and problems with his doppeldaughter. I feel like we’re missing a big opportunity to deal with Doppeldaughter’s own version of alcoholism. Our Laurel dealt with it, and I can’t imagine that this Laurel, without the same support structure, doesn’t still deal with it. The only thing I wasn’t alright with this episode was Oliver’s kid. Everything dealing with that seemed weird. Also, does the nanny know Oliver is the Green Arrow? Also, that sucks about Speedy.
Random Thoughts:
  • Liked Wild Dog’s new outfit.
  • Liked Mr. Terrific’s T-Spheres getting more action.
  • Liked Green Arrow relying on his team to stop the missiles.
  • The arrows all seemed to have weird flights in this episode. Go through and watch, starting with the first bad guy they catch who launches those missiles. I’ve shot bow, a lot, arrows don’t fly like that… Whatever. Still fun.
  • Oh, hey, everybody…Look…Green Arrow and Oliver…same person…again…
6×02
Diggle, what are you doing? Seriously, we’re six years in and you should know better than to keep secrets. Felicity’s voice seemed really off this episode, I think she was either sick or hungover. I think this episode is implying that KGBeast is gonna keep coming back, and I liked that. He’s a believable villain with a backstory that we don’t have to guess about. I don’t like that ARGUS hasn’t called off the FBI yet. Although, I like the idea of Arrow fighting to keep his identity secret.
Random thoughts:
  • Liked the name drop. Very awesome. When I first heard about it, I thought we might see Lois Lane in the crowd or something, but I’m ok with this name drop instead.
  • Really didn’t like the passing of the torch at the end. I’m sure it’s only part-time, but that makes me like it less.

Review: X-Files: Cold Cases

Product DetailsBack in 2008, I moved to Iowa from upstate New York (read that as “Farther upstate than what you’re thinking”). I’m a social butterfly, and I made a ton of friends in my new home very quickly, but that didn’t stop me from having evenings alone. On one of those particular evenings, I made a serious decision to do something silly: I was going to rent all of the sci-fi shows that I had never gotten a chance to see before then and give them a watch (to be fair, I also included every b-rated sci-fi movie as well. For that reason, I’ve seen both Time Runner and The Guyver. For both of those, I thank you Mark Hamill).
This is how I became a fan of The X-Files, staring David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson (and a million other stars who would later go on to guest star or star in their own sci-fi shows). I went on every single mission with them and grew to love Mulder’s silly moments and Scully’s skepticism.
And, after binge-watching all nine seasons, keeping magnets at the ready, and learning to fear the year 2012, I faced the inevitable truth that so many others had already learned to cope with.
The X-files was over.
It sucked, and I tried finding more of the snarky Fox wit through the comic books, but it wasn’t the same. The movies came and went, trying to fill the gaps for some of us, but alas, they were a drop of water in a desert. There and gone far too quickly to quench any real thirst. I had to face a cold and hard fact: There were never going to be any more of The X-files.
Life happened and years went by and I was sitting at my computer and writing when my wife blurted out, “They’re bringing back X-files.”
Wait…what?
Not a reboot, and not another movie, but a new season picking up with most of the original cast and some great sounding new cast.
Then the season came, with mixed reviews, but I loved it. The mixed reviews had me worried, though. Would they keep it going?
Yes, it turns out. They are working on a 11th season as we speak.
Absolutely wonderful, but what about the time in between. Do I really have in the vast oceans of time between each of these seasons?
As it turns out, no, my friend, we no longer have to wait idly by. That’s where Audible’s new series, The X-files: Cold Cases, steps in.
Cold Cases is a full cast dramatization, bringing back all of your favorite characters and filling the gap between the end of the first nine seasons and the beginning of the 10th season. It’s cleverly done, and brings to life the characters that have earned so much of our respect. The only negative to any of this was that the writing of the show had to be changed to fit the new format. Instead of seeing something and then getting a snarky Mulder comment or a dry Scully remark, we instead get told that something is happening and then receive the comment.
For example (totally made up and not in the books, but illustrating my point): “Mulder, why are you holding that gun at an odd angle? And why is it covered in paint?” “Scully, lower your eyebrow before it floats away. I’m holding this gun because it’s evidence, and it’s painted this very interesting shade of blue because it’s covered in alien fecal matter.”
See, very descriptive, reminding you that it’s a radio show. I think I might have preferred narration instead, but I honestly don’t know because it’s not an option. This isn’t a complaint, so much as the only thing that made it different than the show we love.
Other than that, you get all of the great sci-fi tropes and monster of the week things that X-files is famous for, as well as some new sci-fi tropes that I don’t think X-files has ever dealt with in the past. You get Smoking Man, Skinner, Reyes, Doggit, and a few more surprises that I won’t spoil for you.
Oh boy, you’re in for a surprise.
I give this a 5 out of 5. I loved it, and I want more Audible Original full dramatizations. I’m moving on to the Alien ones next, and the sequel to Cold Cases will be out in October!
Can’t wait!
–MD–

Review: Lucifer’s Star

Lucifer's StarI was going to introduce this review with a comparison to all of the works that Lucifer’s Star reminded me of, but, while there are so many of them, not a single one can be used to give you a good sense of what this book is about.
Lucifer’s Star follows Cassius Mass, a former member of a royal house with huge political sway that they use to wage war. The world building in this book was amazing and we see a lot of detailed explanations in the interplanetary relationships as well as the individual cultures, all without taking away from the main story by being too filled with description. The descriptors come out naturally.
Cassius is a clone of the sovereign, with cybernetic implants to make him the perfect warrior, the perfect royal heir, and the perfect sexual partner. Each of these lending itself toward complicating his life more and more before finally, as a direct result of the Archduchy’s ongoing war. By the start of chapter 2, we find a down and out, drug and alcohol addled, his face and DNA changed to hide his identity, and living aboard a pirate spaceship with a questionable crew.
Then the crew finds out that he’s one of those rich nobles who somehow screwed each one of them over in some different way in the past.
From that point, his past begins to come back in a huge way and takes Cassius on a path that makes him question not only who he is, but also everything that he previously held as true. He’s forced to question everything from the difference (culturally) of right and wrong, the idea of identity, what defines a life, the galactic politics, and lots of questions of what love is versus like and versus lust.
Like most CT Phipps books, this book focuses a lot on Cassius discovering his identity once he’s been stripped of all the superfluous things that he thought was his identity. He goes through a huge transition from the beginning of the book all the way to the end.
When I said this book reminded me of a couple of other stories, it really did, but mostly in just elements. The entire pirate ship and such reminded me a lot of Talon Kardde from the Star Wars Expanded Universe/Legends books. The politics, and how they are so intricately defined, as well as the caste system that’s plainly obvious, reminded me a lot of the Red Rising books. There was even a moment that reminded me of the Borg from Star Trek. A lot of reminders, or ingredients, that made themselves into a great cake.
And I love cake!
5 out of 5. Epic Space Fantasy that leaves me begging to learn more about Cassius Mass!

Review: The Science of Supervillainy

The Supervillainy series by C.T. Phipps has been a guilty pleasure of mine for a few years now. Not only has Gary Karkofsky’s antics as an accidentally successful supervillain just been an absolute pleasure to read, but the world environment, the unexpected twists, and the tongue-in-cheek references to pop-culture makes for an exciting and entertaining read.
The newest arrival to that series, The Science of Supervillainy, hits all of those notes in spades.
This book picks up directly where the last book left off. The Other Gary and President Omega are about to pull off their plan, but Gary and crew take care of it pretty quickly, until they don’t. A time jump ahead and all of the old characters, a bunch of new characters, and a little girl with a super brain step up to help Gary save…err… I mean take over…err…well save first, and then take over? Whatever his plans, the world is in danger, and not his kind of danger. So it’s up to him and his rough and tumble crew to step up and stop Other Gary from erasing them all from existence.
The Science of Supervillainy is filled with both comedic and dramatic moments that blend well together. Using both the dramatic and comedic is how Phipps illustrates, surprisingly well, the conflicts of being a supervillain with morals. Wanting to own and rule the world doesn’t necessarily mean that you want the world to be a filled with shitty people, and Gary most certainly wants to rule the world, but why can’t he have his cake and eat it too?
Elements of this book I loved were the same as the previous titles. The cross-pollination from other worlds, time-travel, comedy, weirdly conceived relationships, and of course the pop-culture references help to make this a fun read. It works so well, and I look forward to the next installment.

5 out of 5 stars.

Review: The Tower of Zhaal

Post-Apocalyptic fiction is fun, but Post-Apocalyptic Lovecraft fiction is even better.

That kind of fun led me to C.T. Phipps’ “The Tower of Zhaal.”

The Tower of Zhaal is the sequel to Phipps’ first successful foray into Lovecraftian fiction, Cthulhu Armageddon. In that first book, the world has been ravaged by the long ago (but still in our current future) rise of the Great Old Ones. The hero of the first book, John Henry Booth is back, and the taint of the world has eeked it’s way into his own flesh. With Nyarlahotep whispering in his ear, and the threat of the end of the human race on the brink of happening, John has to risk everything with a team that he can’t trust in order to save the few parts of the hellish world that mean something to him.

While traveling to and with some very Mythos specific names, as well as some that are a treat for readers of contemporary Mythos fiction (ie: the Ghoul priest being named Hoade as an obvious reference to fellow contemporary Mythos writer, Sean Hoade). The explanations of Magic, the Science of the Mind, and the different Alien races make it an epic adventure on par with Lord of the Rings or Star Wars, but within the Mythos elements that bring us back.

The world has ended, Alien Gods are everywhere, and the question of humanities survival is a complex one. Can Humanity survive? Should Humanity survive? Would the Humanity that survives even be recognizable as Human?

Phipps weaves a great tale, that makes for an exciting read.

5 out of 5 Stars!

Minor Potential Spoiler: There’s a scene in this book that made me laugh out loud, but not because it was funny. The moment I read it, I wanted to shout, “Ah! He’s been Rick and Morty’d!!!”

Review: The Haunting of Barry Allen

Wow, just wow! When I get really involved in a show, I tend to either hunt for more stories in that universe or write my own in the form of fan-fiction. It was one of these hunts that led me to discovering Clay and Susan Griffith’s The Flash: The Haunting of Barry Allen.
The entire book reads like a long episode of the Flash. We get a look at each character as they work on their own plot specifics, and we even get a great chance to see Rathaway as a villain again. Pre-Flashpoint has made a lot of great stories possible, by making everything that takes place before that Canon/Not-Canon, since Flashpoint ends up undoing anything that might have been story specific.
Anyway, Rathaway builds his own Rogue’s Gallery out of Peekaboo, Nimbus, Prism, and Weather Wizard. He uses them to terrorize the city. The major plot here is actually a callback to the giant wormhole that opened up when Eddie Thawne ended season 1 the way he did. Barry’s visited by ghosts and mirages from the future while also trying to battle to protect his city. It’s more than one man, even the fastest man, can handle.
Enter the Arrow! Teams join together to combat the evil that has plagued the city and the end result is a great read that has me incredibly excited about the second book that just came out.
This book was well done and fits well with the Canon of the series. Loved it, and have already started reading book 2.

Introducing Iowa Book Source

Guest Post by Wendy Siefken:

Hey everyone! trying to get your written book seen? Try this one on for size. Showcase your physical book with other indie authors in a display window at our local mall! this weekend we are having a home and garden show. Lot’s of vendors and visitors will see your book! Only $5.00 a month whether you have one book or ten! A landing page directs the curious buyer to where they can get an ebook copy of your book from Amazon, Barnes and Noble or wherever you have your ebooks sold through.  So check it out and let others know!  Iowa Book SourceIowa Book Source display window

Like what you see? Every two weeks or so I will change out the decorations to keep it fresh and appealing to the eye.  Contact me at WendyandCharlesSiefken@yahoo.com for more information!