My Thankfulness

Thanksgiving is supposed to be a celebration of the things we’re thankful for. As a somewhat heavy participant in social media – namely, Twitter – it often feels like people love to take this opportunity to be thankful for a chance to make snarky comments about how the world is or how much they hate the holidays. Heaven forbid that they might want to feel some joy.

I suppose it’s their right to be that way. Hell, I know I have some reason to fall into the same trappings, but I’m not really like that. I like to smile and focus on good things and I feel very thankful for a lot, so I’m just gonna sit here and list a few off. This isn’t everything, and some stuff is gonna get passed over. These are just some of the important ones in my head.

Family – Obviously, they’re always there for any of us. Sure, some of them can be a little hotheaded, but that’s in every family. When we have to, we band together. Zunigas don’t fuck around.

Music – I’m often too busy doing things that don’t allow me to listen to much these days and I get withdrawals. It calms me. I often wonder if it’s due to its sense of structure or its complexity or both. Whatever it is, I like it and it’ll always be important to me. Special thanks to my late uncle Paul (RIP) for exposing me to it so young and letting me monkey around on his keyboard.

Gaming – The only hobby aside from music that’s been present in my entire life. It can be an escape one day or an inspiration the next.

Hockey – I love this sport. It’s been too long since I last played regularly, but now that late Fall is upon us, it’s time to get back to the office and embarrass fools.

BOOOOOOTS!!!

My Health – While I haven’t been as on top of it as I once was, I’m still in far better shape than I was at my lowest point. I’m thankful that I know I can achieve that goal if I dedicate to it. I just need to find that willpower again.

Podcasting – I’ve been involved with the BlankShowCast for a year-and-a-half now, and I still enjoy it immensely. It’s probably been my main source of creativity in that time, and it certainly satiates that desire within me. As long as I can keep doing it, I’ll be pretty happy. I’m even looking to expand into a network of sorts, but that’s for another time…

Twitter – Words cannot properly explain the effect it has had on my life. I’ve made many a friend there and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Sometimes people in my personal life give me shit for being on it too much, but I don’t care. It’s what I like, it’s what I choose to be a part of. I’ve made some great bonds with great people because of it, and I’m grateful for all of it.

Speaking of which, I owe some fine people a special acknowledgment:

Tim, Isabel and Holly – My original partners in podcast crime. Tim and I basically started the BlankShowCast during a game of Portal 2. Izzy later played along with me as well and has been a good jolt for the show, especially when she comes with questions for Tim and I. Holly was only with us for a short time but her contributions were always appreciated and, more importantly, is still one of the best people I know. If only she’d played Portal 2 with us, we might be a 4-person show. Oh well, maybe at some point we can convince her to return for an appearance in the future.

The Original Triumphant Trio

Unfortunately, none of us have met in person, but that’s something I hope will change soon.

Natalie – When I offered to write sporadically on her DojoRetro blog, I was unaware of what it would actually be turning into as time passed. Now it’s becoming a full-fledged website. What’s even more shocking is that even while doing seemingly very little (in my eyes), she’s put a lot of faith in my extremely limited ability and knowledge. The main thing, however, is that she’s made me realize that I still love gaming as a whole and helped me shake a jaded feeling I’d recently developed toward the industry and its coverage. It’s a hobby of fun and I want it to stay that way, and I think that’s our ultimate goal. As long as it continues to be enjoyable, I’m in. I couldn’t thank her enough.

Ellie” D – My twitter bestie and one of the nicest, most generous people I’ve ever met. She’s always willing to listen when I have to gripe and is never without words of encouragement. We’ve both helped each other through some rough times and I’ll always respect her for her kindness. Another one I need to meet, someday. We have a production company to start, after all. %

BlankShowCast Guests – Before it was a three person operation, we often had outside people join us to help keep it fun. For that we thank the following people immensely: Aenne Schumann, Nate Hales, Sam Alegria, “Retro” Chris Carboni, Melissa Kay, Jared Larson, Marc Lynch, Cyrus “Fozzy” Fayazi, Sarah Strickler, Brendan van der Vlist, Brian Eskelson, Jason Ericsson, Brittney Brombacher, William Milby, and the reigning champion with 4 appearances, Stephanie Gutowski. Thank you all for helping us not be as boring as we would’ve been without you.

Various Podcast Special Guests – I’ve been lucky enough to have been granted a few serious interviews, all of which were exciting and super fun to do. For this, I’d like to extend serious thanks to voice actor Courtenay TaylorMeg Turney from SourceFed, Emily Reese from Classical Minnesota Public Radio’s Top Score Podcast, and Tara Theoharis from the webseries Job Hunters. It was an honor for you all to join us and give insight into your worlds. Also, Kristina Horner for the musical number.

My Bro and Our Friends – I seem to see these guys less and less as time goes on, but if not for them, I wouldn’t be who I am today. There’s not much else to say, really. They mean the world to me and they know it. I hope they do, anyway.

I think that pretty much covers all of the bases. I know a lot of people are about to get stupid cranky about Christmas and all that, but I like happy. I’d rather enjoy the positive reflection that the holidays bring rather than focus on which part of the family I don’t like or how much of a hassle holiday travel and shopping is. We go through that out of duty, out of respect, and even out of love. The world could use more of that. I say we all put some out there.

-Happy Holidays, everyone!

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My 2012-2013 Television Lineup

I juggle a lot of different hobbies. Well, maybe not a lot, but enough to keep me fairly occupied every day. Aside from the 9-12 podcasts I listen to, video games, and the 3 podcasts I appear on (well, TWO lately, since one seems to have fizzled out), I also watch a good bit of television.

This fall, I originally had planned to skip everything and just watch it all on Netflix or DVD the following summer but, in this age of Twitter, there’s no way I could’ve done it without having things spoiled. Especially since I know a few select people who LOVE to partake in live-tweeting details. Anyhow, I digress…

I just thought I’d take the time to list off the shows I watch and give a quick paragraph or two about what I like and don’t like in each show. Hopefully you’ll see the list and decide to check something out based on my critiques… or pass on something else. You never know.

So without further ado, here is the list in order of air days.

-MONDAY

Nothing. I used to watch WWE on Mondays, but that was a long time ago. These days, there’s not much that I’m interested in. I even tried to look and see what the best candidate would be, but my cable box recently did it’s almost-daily reset and now I don’t know what’s there until the guide data catches up. Yay, Comcast! Or is it Xfinity? I don’t fucking know. Most weeks, this day is used to edit the BlankShowCast, anyhow. Find it on iTunes!

-TUESDAY

New Girl (FOX)

It’s Jess!!!

I love this show. The pilot was entertaining, if a little rough, but it wasn’t awkward so I stuck with it. As the first season went on, it became one of my Top 5 current favorite shows. Zooey Deschanel plays Jess, a quirky teacher that moves in with three male roommates: Nick, Schmidt, and Coach. However, the very next episode had Coach gone and the guys’ former roommate Winston moved back in.

Likes – As the show has developed, every character has grown stronger. Also, the romantic subplots have never been overbearing or stale and have stayed hilarious as the show’s sense of humor is top-notch. The best thing, however, is Schmidt. Easily the best new character on TV in years. So much so, actor Max Greenfield was nominated for an Emmy.

Dislikes – Winston is a great foil of sorts for the others, but he rarely gets enough focus, which is sad. He has potential. The tension between Nick and Jess is easy to read and you know it’ll end up being addressed over and over until there’s an inevitable climax of some sort, but hopefully it won’t be annoying. And, on the superficial yet important side, I don’t like Cece’s bangs. Grow them shits out, yo.

Tosh.0 (Comedy Central)

Suck it, Web Soup.

This show basically is a Soup clone. Stand-up comedian Daniel Tosh shows videos from the web and comments on or produces skits based around them. Most of the vids are either displays of vulgarity, stupidity, or grossness. The show seems to be divisive, as Mr. Tosh’s humor isn’t for everyone – especially the “sensitive” crowd – but I enjoy it enough cuz I’m not a sissy.

Likes – Some of the people in the vids shown are downright idiots, and hearing someone tear them a new anus is perfect. You just shouldn’t jump off your house onto a picnic table with thumbtacks and burning gas and flourescent lightbulbs and not expect to break something. Moron. I also like his Web Redemptions, where he takes someone from an embarrassing video and makes a usually hilarious skit with them.

Dislikes – The Viewer Video of the Week is almost always junk. They really need to scrap that section. Other than that, I can’t really think of any glaring bad things about it. What you see is what you get with this one.

WEDNESDAY

Modern Family (ABC)

You know they just couldn’t get the baby to stop crying.

This one follows the misadventures of the Pritchett family. Patriarch Jay is married to his 2nd wife and deals with her and her stepson, Claire is married to Phil Dunphee – possibly the most misguided father ever – and they have three children to deal with, while Mitchell lives with his partner Cam and their adopted daughter Lilly. Hijinks ensue.

Likes – The writing is great and the roles are well-cast. Ed O’Neill plays Jay and there’s just a slight hint of his old pal Ted Bundy (Married With Children) in there, which is nice, but Ty Burrell steals the show every week as Phil. Ariel Winter also does a great job as Alex, the intellectual daughter of Phil and Claire. Her character’s banter with the older sister never gets old.

Dislikes – Has the old trope of giving you the little inspirational message at the end of every episode, but it’s balanced with a decent joke most of the time. Not a lot of development in a lot of the characters, either. Many of them are still quite the same since the beginning.

Arrow (CW)

You think this CW press photo is bad? Wait till the next one…

A re-imagining of the Green Arrow comic books and full of violence and drama. Oliver Queen is a young man returned from being marooned on a presumably deserted island for 5 years, but he returns with a secret. He’s actually become an extensively trained archer and fighter. Oliver uses these skills to become “The Hood,” a vigilante out to stop the criminal element in his hometown.

Likes – For a CW show, they don’t fuck around. Violence is present and in a big way. I’m also enjoying what little references to the comics that I recognize, and a few plot twists have me very intrigued. Also, Katie Cassidy.

Dislikes – The Oliver/Laurel relationship is all over the place. Sometimes they seem on the mend, other times they’re apathetic. I understand the need for it, but it gets annoying. Representation of the recognizable DC villains has been kinda lacking, as well. Good potential, though. Sticking with it for now.

-THURSDAY

The Office (NBC)

Okay guys, get the fuck back to work.

A documentary crew captures the everyday ongoings at the Dunder-Mifflin Paper Company resulting in romance, mistakes, and hilarity.

Likes – The bulk of the cast are great at their characters, especially now that they’re in their 9th and final season. Rainn Wilson still kills it as Dwight, and Ed Helms’ character Andy Bernard has been a decent replacement for the absence of Steve Carell as the company’s regional manager.

Dislikes – The writing seems to be a bit comfortable with its characters, not challenging them enough. While Dwight’s spiel has been entertaining, it would’ve been nice to have seen him develop into a somewhat more self-aware person like Andy did. This season has been real short on Darryl material, too. Hoping that turns around eventually since there’s still a lot of season left.

Parks and Recreation (NBC)

April (second from left) is smiling. This usually means bad things.

Similar in style to The Office (and created by some of their former staff), this show portrays Leslie Knope as the director of the Parks Department in the small town of Pawnee, Indiana as she tries to further her political career and brings her staff along for the ride.

Likes – Almost everyone on this show is hilarious. Amy Pohler as Leslie kills it, Aziz Ansari as Tom is masterful, Aubrey Plaza plays the best uncaring employee ever, and one cannot forget the sheer manliness that is Ron Swanson. Strong writing with characters that grow.

Dislikes – The couple characters that are a bit stale, Anne and Chris. Played by Rashida Jones and Rob Lowe respectively, they seem to just be plot pushers for the others to have conversations with. Other than that, there’s not much else wrong with the show. It’s quite good.

-FRIDAY

Nikita (CW)

Remember what I said about CW photos? Yikes.

Once employed as an assassin by a secret organization called Division, Nikita broke free of their control and has begun a long-planned mission to take them down for good. A re-imagining of the old La Femme Nikita show (which I admittedly never watched).

Likes – Not overly campy for a CW show in its first two seasons, making it easy to get into. Masterful portrayal of the main antagonists who were complex, intelligent, and truly scary in their ways. Subplots are mostly intriguing and som excellent twists are present.

Dislikes – Season 3, the current one, is a bit lacking. One villain died and the other was left in limbo at the end of S2, who hadn’t shown up in S3 until recently. However, said villain made an instant impact upon arrival, so hopefully the season will turn around. Nikita’s partner throughout the show has also been quite reduced in her involvement. Almost to a point of unnecessity.

-SATURDAY

Empty. I can’t even remember the last time I watched a show regularly on Saturday aside from cartoons as a kid. Speaking of which, Looney Tunes were the shit.

-SUNDAY

The Walking Dead (AMC)

Why is that zombie looking into the camera? And who’s taking this photo? RUN!

Police Officer Rick Grimes awakens in a hospital after being shot in a firefight. What he finds is disturbing. Zombies walk the halls. And the streets. And the fields. And no one knows why.

Likes – One of the rare zombie stories I’ve actually enjoyed because it’s not about the zombies, it’s about the people trying to survive and the measures they will go to, good or bad. Gritty and unafraid to get messy. Best theme song on TV, too.

Dislikes – There are some definite slow points along the way, but I don’t mind as it sets up characters and relationships. Also, now that I’ve read the comics, I’m a bit afraid that certain events will be changed to lessen the dark nature of the original form.

Talking Dead (AMC)

Man… if Zombies talked, that’d be kinda cool. Or scary.

A live recap of the week’s episode of The Walking Dead with guests.

Likes – Good interviews with the guests, cool behind the scenes footage and factoids, lovely “In Memoriam” segment for the deaths of the week.

Dislikes – Not to sure how I feel about Chris Hardwick as a TV host. Feels “off.” Also, reading fan tweets on live TV is never a good idea. Stop doing that. Really, stop it.

 
Just stop.

Comic Book Men (AMC)

Dear Mr. Smith, it’s no longer a “uniform.” It’s become a clown outfit. Change your clothes.

The guys who run Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash wheel and deal for product while clowning on each other all day.

Likes – Walt, Bryan, Mike and Ming are all funny dudes that remind me of my childhood friends. Watching Walt negotiate over an item is both interesting and frightening at the same time.

Dislikes – Some situations are very contrived. Gets a bit repetitive after a month or two, but at least they tried fixing it by dropping to 30 minutes from a 1 hour show.

Dexter (Showtime)

He drinks the blood of the non-believers.

Dexter Morgan plays a Miami forensics blood spatter expert by day, but becomes a vigilante killer at night going after criminals who escape the hand of Justice.

Likes – Loved the premise of this from the start. Especially the parts where Dexter talks with the ghost of his late father whenever he needs help on a kill. As much as they make his sister Deb a victim early on, she really grows into her own as a character in later seasons. Most of the cast is great, and I really dig the way they establish a sort of nemesis for Dexter each year.

Dislikes – For me, the seasons year-to-year are a bit varied. There are significant high and low points. A couple of characters infuriate me no matter what. That might be the point, but it still bugs me. Also, a couple of running threads don’t wrap up quite how I would’ve wanted, but oh well.

-CURRENTLY BETWEEN SEASONS

Deadliest Catch (Discovery)

They have crabs.

The Discovery Channel puts cameramen on boats of the Alaskan Crab Fishing Fleet and danger happens all around them. Also, drama. Lots and lots of macho drama. And crabs.

Likes – It’s certainly an interesting occupation to watch. The side effect is that you begin to care about the people the show covers. When they celebrate, you celebrate. When they suffer, you suffer. And when they face high danger, you tense up as if you are part of the event. It’s reality in today’s purest form.

Dislikes – I have to believe that in 2012 we could come up with a better method for not only knowing where crab are located, but also improved boat safety and better way s to get crab on the boat.  A lot of it just feels archaic and unnecessarily high-risk. All that, and Captain Elliot on the Ramblin’ Rose. What a dick.

Game of Thrones (HBO)

Oh, Sean Bean…

I can’t even begin to summarize the 14 plots of this show. Winter is coming, and things are getting bad. The end, or something like that.

Likes – As confusing as that was, I still like the threads running through the show. Young Arya, daughter of Ned Stark, becomes quite the little badass. Tyrion Lannister is a dwarf and a stone cold pimp. He’s always planning ahead and he’s crazy smart about it. Plus he slapped Joffrey in the face twice. Also, Daenerys has some baby dragons.

Dislikes – Sometimes a bit on the slow side. Hard to keep track of all 8 story threads it runs, especially on the side of the Starks.

The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret (IFC)

Why is that guy grabbing David Cross’ butt?

A bumbling idiot from the states gets mistakenly promoted after lying on his resume about being from England. He is sent there to run a company branch and runs into Dave, a manipulative little twat with a secret, and falls for local café owner Alice when she acts friendly toward him.

Likes – Great comedy writing. David Cross is a master and always comes off super awkward, which is uncomfortable to watch and yet hard to turn away from. The sheer trouble this guy manages to get into is astounding, but there’s no end to the madness. Jon Hamm also cameos.

Dislikes – Dave. What a cock. Always putting Todd into danger. Not that Todd ever tries to avoid it, but yeah. Kinda mean. But I guess that’s his role or something. I really have no complaints. It’s a great show.

The Newsroom (HBO)

Sam Waterston (front) is a badass.

Popular news anchor Will McAvoy returns to television after taking a hiatus following a public outburst. He is reunited with an old flame who gets hired to be his executive producer and together they give politicians a run for their money.

Likes – It’s a well-written show for the most part. The show’s views on politics don’t feel partisan but rather hold either side accountable for stupidity, but I’m more intrigued with how they show the process of reporting the news. Some interesting plot twists add fun. Jeff Daniels kills it as McAvoy and the cast is fairly impressive, but I was most pleasantly surprised at Olivia Munn’s acting chops.

Dislikes – Some of the characters are completely idiotic. There are two people who are almost like star-crossed lovers, to which they acknowledge, but they still just can’t seem to be free or get it right. It becomes a little grating after the 8th attempt. The dialogue gets a bit long-winded, too. Everyone talks like they’re on their 15th cup of coffee in a 13-minute span.

Warehouse 13 (Syfy)

Dangerous artifacts is serious business

Agents Pete Lattimer and Myka Bering go around the world recovering cursed artifacts that have significant power, usually at a hefty price.

Likes – Has a fun and comedic tone which fits quite nicely. Claudia provides a good compliment to Artie, the Warehouse boss. Also love how they instill lore into each of the artifacts, such as a piece of the Berlin Wall filled with so much rage that it could be triggered like an explosive.

Dislikes – Their seasons never seem to wrap up properly and always have a cliffhanger ending. Artie’s fidgety personality is quite a hindrance and it feels infuriating when he grows stubborn to other’s suggestions. Some of the villains could be better, as well.

—————————————

Wow, so did you make it through all that? I’m guessing you’re going to all go out and watch these shows now, so be sure to let me know your thoughts on these OR give me some recommendations in the comments. You can also tweet at me if you’d like (info’s in the sidebar). Enjoy the viewing!

No Shave November 2012: The Beginning

It’s November once again, which means a lot of guys are going to grow out 70’s porn moustaches for Movember, a movement to raise awareness for Prostate Cancer.

However, my moustache is a mid-level feature in terms of facial hair. My beard, however, comes in quite nicely. This reason alone is why I prefer No Shave November. Last year, it was a beast at the end of it. I didn’t trim it for anything, either. Itched like a bastard, but I stuck it out.

This year, I’m planning on doing the same, so I shaved my face clean as a base a few days ago. Gotta admit, it’s weird not having the goatee and I think it makes my fat face look fatter, but it’s for a good cause.

Damn, I’m handsome.

So take a good, long look. This face won’t be clean-shaven again till December 1st. OR until I land a job interview, whichever comes first (cuz I need cash).