Hikes, Hot Springs, And Purple Cows

The view from one of the docks on Lake Ouachita.

Hot Springs, Arkansas and Surrounding Area

A couple of days ago, my family and I returned from a nice vacation in Arkansas.  We stayed in the Ouachita National Forest in Mount Ida, AR.  Our trip included visits to Hot Springs, Magic Springs, a couple of hikes, and the kids went digging for diamonds as well.

On our first full day in Arkansas, my wife and the kids headed out to a local state park to dig for diamonds.  As a rule, I do not post photos of my family in this very public blog, so I won’t be posting any images of my children in this post.  However, I can say that they really enjoyed their time at the crystal dig site, but came up short on finding anything of value.

I spent the day hiking the Hunt Loop at Iron Springs near the Jessieville Ranger Station in the Ouachita National Forest.  Whenever I travel through Arkansas on Scenic 7, I always take at least a few minutes to stop at Iron Springs.  It’s a lovely little spot to take a break, eat a sandwich, or just take in the sights.  This was the first time that I walked the Hunt Loop Trail at Iron Springs, and I must say that I really enjoyed it.  There were plenty of nice sights to check out, and I ran into a few other hikers along the way.  The trail got a bit rough in a couple of spots, but overall all it was a decent trail to walk.  The terrain was a tad rocky in place as well, so if you ever decide to take this short 1.1 mile trail, be sure to wear sturdy footwear.

Iron Springs at the beginning of the Hunt Loop Trail.

Iron Springs at the beginning of the Hunt Loop Trail.

I also took a hike on the Friendship Trail at the Jessieville Ranger Station.  This was a much smoother trail and I highly recommend it to anybody who wants to take a hike but might not be up to any long treks on rough terrain.  This trail is specifically designed for people with handicaps or who just can’t handle tough trails.  It has only one steady upgrade and the entire trail is blacktopped and paved with plenty of space for wheelchairs to pass each other.  The trail is dotted by a number of informational signs about the wildlife and the forest, and the highlight of the trail is the fish pond (also handicap friendly) that has a pavilion suitable for get togethers.

Duck boxes at the Fish Pond at Friendship Trail.

Duck boxes at the Fish Pond at Friendship Trail.

The fish pond at Friendship Trail.

The fish pond at Friendship Trail.

On our second day in Arkansas, the family trekked over to Magic Springs, an amusement park near Hot Springs.  I’m a huge coaster fan, and couldn’t wait to tackle any of the big rides that Magic Springs had to offer.  There weren’t that many big thrill rides in the park, but the few it had were well worth checking out.  There was almost no line for any of the rides (we went on a Monday), so I got on each of the big rides after a very small (if any) waiting period.

My favorite ride in the bunch was The Gauntlet.  Suspended from the rail and with feet free in the air, this coaster whipped myself and other riders around a few times and was very fun.  I also enjoyed riding the X Coaster, which featured a 90 degree vertical lift and multiple corkscrews before dropping you back in reverse to do it all over again.  My wife said it was one of the craziest things she’s ever watched me ride, and I have to admit that it was a bit crazy BUT I will say that I never felt safer on a coaster than I did on this bad boy.

The Gauntlet at Hot Springs.

The Gauntlet at Magic Springs.

The X Coaster at Hot Springs.

The X Coaster at Magic Springs.

I also rode Big Bad John, a traditional roller coaster with a couple of nice twist and turns.  My son and wife rode this one as well, and they really enjoyed it.  The wooden rocker, Arkansas Twister, was a teeth-rattling, rickety wreck.  It’s the biggest coaster on the property, but it banged me up more than any other wooden coaster that I’ve ever ridden.  It was fun to a degree, but I don’t recommend riding it more than once.

Big Bad John at Magic Springs.

Big Bad John at Magic Springs.

Arkansas Twister at Magic Springs.

Arkansas Twister at Magic Springs.

Other highlights included the Plummet Summit, a large flume ride that dumps tons of water on riders and bystanders, and the Ozark Taxi Co., a car driving experience that allows drivers of all ages to make a couple of loops in an old timey car.  My wife, kids, and other family members also went to the Crystal Springs Water Park, which is part of the Magic Springs Property.  They really had a blast soaking up fun on the lazy river and multiple water slides.

On our final full day in Arkansas, the family and I took a walking tour of the city of Hot Springs.  I’ve been here multiple times, but there have been a few new stores and sights added to the area.  I really enjoyed checking out Stella Mae’s, a rockabilly and alt store that featured plenty of retro styled clothing and products.  When I heard the Reverend Horton Heat blaring over the speakers in the store, I knew that I was in the right place.

After walking around Hot Springs, we ventured over to the newer part of town to eat at The Purple Cow.  Another retro style place, but this time around instead of rockabilly, golden oldies were playing over the speakers as we dined in a very 1950’s styled restaurant that included a great soda shop that featured tasty floats, sundaes, and pie.

I tackled the Purple Cow Ice Cream Soda while my wife and son split a piece of Purple Cow Ice Cream Pie and my daughter had a traditional root beer float.  I HIGHLY RECOMMEND that you visit this place for great burgers and even better dessert!

Purple Cow Ice Cream Pie.

Purple Cow Ice Cream Pie.

Purple Cow To Go Cup.

Purple Cow To Go Cup.

Purple Cow Ice Cream Soda.

Purple Cow Ice Cream Soda.

We finished the trip off with a quiet visit to the Charlton Creek Campground, where the kids played in the water and I just chilled out for a bit.  It was a very shady little campground and there was a very nice creek on the property.  It was the perfect ending to a fun vacation.

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A Change For The Better

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West Cal Arena & Events Center, Sulphur, LA

After a few years in Lake Charles, LA, Bayoucon made the move to the West Cal Arena & Events Center in Sulphur, LA.  This year’s event featured a number of media guests including Todd Haberkorn (anime voice actor and Spock from Star Trek Continues), Alex Zahara (Once Upon A Time), and Beth Broderick (Sabrina The Teenage Witch).  It also featured John Mangus, an actor and stuntman that has recently been featured in Jurassic World. 

The lovely ladies of Orion’s Envy performed on Saturday evening and a costume contest followed.  Also over the weekend there were showings of Star Trek Continues, panels on everything from writing to costuming, and a showing of Rocky Horror Picture Show.

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There were also a number of artists on hand and a solid group of vendors offering everything from collectibles to corsets and drinking glasses to Funko Pop figures.  Fan groups were also in attendance.

A major highlight of this event for myself and (I’d like to think) a lot of convention attendees, was the first appearance of the Just-Us League.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with my alter ego, The Discount Dark Knight, he recently became a part of this group of cosplayers that cosplay for FUN and to goof off a bit.  Our group was a hit, and even Alex Zahara of Once Upon A Time asked for a photo with us!

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Another major highlight of the convention for me was getting to meet and talk with Todd Haberkorn.  Most people enjoy him for his work in anime, but I’m a fan of his work on Star Trek Continues.  He was a very nice guy, and his panel was both informative and fun.  He interacted with the crowd and happily answered any and all questions thrown his way.

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This convention has had a number of ups and downs over the years.  Attendance has been fairly low for the most part, but this year saw a nice crowd show up for the event.  The West Cal Arena is an excellent venue and seems to be a much better fit for this convention than some of the larger venues in the area.  Everyone seemed to have a great time at the convention, and that’s good news for this convention.  With hard-working staff members like Mike and Jenni Moreau, this convention has nowhere to go but up, and I wish the convention nothing but good luck in the future.

Star-Lord And The Dino Squad!

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Isla Nublar…..twenty years later

Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard take us all back to that wonderful time so many millions of years ago, the 1990’s, in what is sure to be one of the biggest blockbusters of the summer, Jurassic World.  No, the film doesn’t take place in the 90’s, but it does give multiple nods to Jurassic Park, the legendary film based on the excellent Michael Crichton novel.  That film blazed a trail with its use of CGI and was also, at least in my opinion, one of the last films to use CGI as a supplement to the plot and not as the key factor for making a movie watchable.

Jurassic World is a very good film.  It’s nowhere near as brilliant or engaging as its wonderful predecessor, but it is definitely worth viewing at least once in a theater.  Chris Pratt stars as Owen Grady, velociraptor wrangler/whisperer supreme and the source for most of the film’s humor.  He channels Star-Lord…a lot, in this film.  Bryce Dallas Howard portrays Claire Dearing, manager of the park and a poor excuse for an aunt to the youngest stars of the film, Nick Robinson and Ty Simpkins, who play Zach and Gray Mitchell, Claire’s nephews whom visit her on the island amusement park/zoological garden for some “family time” with her.

The cast also features Irrfan Khan as Simon Masrani, the park’s mega-wealthy owner, and Vincent D’Onofrio as Vic Hoskins, an InGen liaison who’s obviously there to cause trouble because that’s what InGen always seems to do when it comes to genetically brewed dinosaurs.  B.D. Wong reprises his role as Dr. Henry Wu, the head of genetics at the park and the only character that returns from the original film.

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The film opens with Jurassic World experiencing profit decline after many successful years of operation.  It’s very expensive to run such a park, and the dwindling profit margin (at 2% according to Claire at one point) has forced the park’s management to up the ante with new, genetically modified dinosaurs to wow the crowds.  Their latest stew, the Indominus Rex, is a Dr. Wu secret blend of dinosaurs and other creatures, making it the largest and most lethal creature in the park.  The park is almost ready to introduce this new hybrid to the world, and Khan has come to the island to see just what his newest asset can bring to the Jurassic table.

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Zach and Gray arrive on the island as well, ready to visit with their somewhat distant and uncaring aunt Claire.  Zach is your typical teenaged boy, looking longingly at any cute girl that happens to be in his vicinity.  Gray is an overly enthusiastic youngster that really, really loves dinosaurs.  The duo are dumped on Claire’s assistant, Zara (Katie McGrath), who attempts to keep up with the pair as they experience the park.  At first Zach is very aggravated with his younger brother, but as the story plays out, we learn that Gray is very upset about a real world problem that is common in many families (and I’m not going to spoil what that problem is here).  Once this problem is revealed, Zach goes into big brother mode to make Gray’s visit much more fun.  The boys take in all of the sights, including a very Sea World looking experience that features a Mosasaurus and a cool ride in a transparent gyrosphere.

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Elsewhere, Owen has a very special relationship with four velociraptors at the park.  He has become the alpha male to Blue, Echo, Charlie, and Delta and his relationship has drawn the attention of InGen, who wants to use the raptors for more profitable reasons than being park exhibits.  Both he and Barry (Omar Sy), the raptors’ caretaker, refuse to allow InGen to use the raptors for other reasons which I do not wish to spoil.  Hoskins tries repeatedly to convince them to give him the green light on InGen’s project, but to no avail.

After seeing the Indominus Rex with his own eyes, Khan asks Claire to have Owen check out the monster’s paddock. Claire does so with reservations, as the pair obviously have a bit of history between them.  She visits Owen at his “home” on the island and the two return to the paddock only to find that the Indominus Rex has escaped.

The Indominus Rex leaves a trail of dead park workers, security officers, and other dinosaurs as it makes its way to the core of the park where tons of tasty human snacks await it’s mouth.  Claire then finds out that her nephews are alone in the park after ignoring a call for all of the park’s visitors to return to a central “safe” area.  She asks Owen to help her locate the boys and the pair set off while park security desperately tries to stop the Indominus Rex without alarming the visitors to the park.

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Of course, park security is no match for the Rex, and as always, the park turns into a chaotic feeding frenzy.  A series of events unfold that lead to pterosaurs attacking visitors, more park worker deaths, and an atmosphere of total chaos.  Desperate to stop the Indominus, Owen and Barry reluctantly agree to use the velociraptors in a last ditch attempt to stop the Rex.  CGI dino violence ensues and the film goes into full action mode.  It’s both unbelievable and amazing at the same time, but the film ends on a high note and there’s even a tease at future entries to the franchise about two thirds of the way through the film.

So, did I like this movie?  Absolutely.  It’s an over-the-top, big budget, CGI dino fest.  In many ways (and I’m sure I’ll get a lot of heat for this comment), it reminded me of Jurassic Park IIIJurassic Park III wasn’t reined in by the books like the first two films were, and JW is very similar in that regard.  Director Colin Trevorrow knows that modern mass audiences want to be wowed by a spectacle and not bothered too much by a believable plot.  In that regard, he gives the masses what they want in spades.  Also as in Jurassic Park III, this film tosses aside all of the suspense that made me fall in love with the first film and focuses heavily on action.

The film did hold my interest and I really liked watching it (especially in 3D), but ultimately I left this film feeling no different than I have after leaving every other summer popcorn blockbuster I’ve watched.  It looked really cool and sounded great, but there was nothing exceptionally brilliant about it in the end. I’m sure that plenty of people will talk about the FX and the action, but I don’t think that JW will imprint on the minds of viewers as much as the original JP did.

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One other thing that I must point out about this film is the absence of John Williams and his wonderful musical score.  Yes, Williams’ legendary theme from the original film is included, but composer Michael Giacchino, whose work I loved in the new Star Trek films and in John Carter, failed to make the music matter in this film.  Where Williams’ music added to the film, Giacchino’s work was lacking.

©Universal Pictures

©Universal Pictures

I do recommend seeing this film in 3D.  The wow factor begs for you to see it in that format.  I also loved how JW tipped its hat to the original film.  It was a very classy move. There are scenes in the movie that mimic scenes from the original, and little hints and winks are littered throughout the film as well.  Pratt, Howard, and the rest of the cast did excellent jobs with what they had to work with, and the pacing of the film was excellent.  Once all of the dust has settled and the hype fizzles out, though, Jurassic World will be remembered as just another profitable hit in a long line of summer flicks with little substance.

The Dinos Are Back!

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Isla Nublar…..I think.

Tomorrow night I will be checking out Jurassic World at the theater with some friends as part of my Jurassic Birthday Weekend Celebration!  In all honesty, I know very little about this film other than the fact that it apparently takes place after the first Jurassic Park film and does so as if The Lost World: Jurassic Park and Jurassic Park III never existed.  That’s a good thing and a bad thing as far as I’m concerned, because I wasn’t a big fan of the second film and felt as if the third one did its part as a big popcorn action flick.

My agitation with the second film is based primarily on the fact that I’ve read both of the books that these films are based on and feel that while the first one got a lot right about the books (although I didn’t particularly care for one film death that didn’t happen in the books), the second film got a lot wrong.  It’s still a decent flick, but I enjoyed the third installment a whole lot more.  Why?  Because it wasn’t bound by the books and played out on the screen as the big dinos-chase-and-eat-people schlock fest that it intended to be all along.

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I’m very excited about the new film, primarily due to the fact that it features Bryce Dallas Howard and Chris Pratt.  Their reputations alone make me believe that this film will work.  Howard is an excellent actress that I’ve enjoyed watching for quite awhile now.  Pratt is still riding the glory wave of Guardians of the Galaxy and his work on television (although I have never watched any television show where he is featured prominently).  I also enjoy watching Howard and Pratt in interviews about the film.  Both of them seem to be extremely happy with the film and I hope that their happiness carries over in their performances and the performances of the rest of the cast.

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Still, I have a couple of reservations about this film.  First of all, I’m not too wild about the fact that the film features genetically modified dinosaurs like the Indominus Rex and a stegaceratops.  I really hope that these “mixed breed” dinosaurs don’t take away from the actual dinosaurs featured in the film that lived so many millions of years ago.  My son is a huge dinosaur fan and I hope that seeing creatures like the Indominus Rex won’t confuse him too much.

My second reservation about this film is the use of the velociraptors as good guys.  Pratt’s character is apparently their alpha male and leads the pack into battle against whatever raging dinos happen to get loose this time.  I hope that they come across as somewhat believable.

I’m not too worried about the CGI in this film, although a few bits that I’ve seen on the web have me hoping that they cleaned up the graphics a tad more before the final release.

Overall, I do believe that Jurassic World is going to be an excellent film.  I also think that it would be nice if the film at least gives a nod to the core cast of the original films (rumor has it that Dr. Ian Malcolm has a cameo but I am not sure if this is true).  I’m going to miss seeing Sam Neill and Laura Dern on the screen with the dinosaurs.  Oh well, I guess I’m getting old.  I’ve been watching the original flicks all week long and I’m ready for the new stuff!

As always, thanks for reading.  I’ll have a full, non-spoiler review this weekend of the film!!!

Your Next Favorite Band, The Amorettes!

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Listening To Their Newest CD

I usually post about nerdy topics in this blog.  Comics and science fiction are the primary focus for me, but if you know me a bit better than casual readers, though, you know that I love listening to music, particularly bands like KISS, Motley Crue, Dio, and others.

In the last few weeks I’ve been listening to the blistering tunes that emit from Game On, the second album by the entirely too awesome trio of Gill Montgomery (vocals, guitars) and sisters Hannah (drums, backing vocals) and Heather McKay (bass, backing vocals), collectively known as The Amorettes.

The Amorettes. L to R: Gill Montgomery, Hannah McKay, and Heather McKay. Photo Credit: I totally stole this from a Google Image Search.

My immediate reaction to this band was to label them as the second coming of The Runaways (who gave us the dynamic forces known as Joan Jett and Lita Ford), but listening to their tracks a bit deeper, I feel that while the comparison to that legendary group of ladies is warranted, there’s something a tad more polished about this group (and when I say “polished,” I mean it as a good thing).  I can hear the influence of bands like AC/DC and the Ramones.  I also sense a trio that is on the cusp of worldwide fame.  There’s something special about these ladies that makes them stand out from the recent influx of rock groups that lean heavy on old school rock n’ roll and punk influences.

What that something is evades me for now, but I do know that whenever I put Game On into my car’s stereo, it doesn’t leave until I’ve listened to the entire album.  I don’t skip any songs on the album and I wish that it had more tunes on it.

Hannah’s driving drums carry tunes like Get What’s Coming and Bull By The Horns to levels of rock that force the listener to tap their foot and sing along.  Heartbreaker and Son of a Gun get a nice injection of attitude from Gill’s vocals and guitar work, and Heather’s bass keeps everything in line on songs like Give’Em Hell and Daddy’s Got Money.

There isn’t a bad track on the entire album, and I can only hope that these ladies make a trip stateside (specifically Louisiana or Texas).  They’ve pumped up audiences for established rockers like Europe and Black Star Riders, and hopefully they will do the same for bands in the United States.

Heather, Gill, and Hannah (my current crush)! Photo Credit: Again, I stole this from a Google Image Search.

Take a listen to the tune below and let me know what you think. Bands like The Amorettes excite me because as long as these types of bands exist, I know that real rock n’ roll will never die.  They bring a fresh new take on classic rock n’ roll.  Keep rocking, ladies!

As always, thanks for reading, and I hope to add more coverage of current and up-and-coming bands in the very near future.

P.S.  I believe I have a crush on Hannah!

Speeding To The Finale!

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Last night’s episode of The Flash set the stage for next week’s big season finale.  I have to admit that the first season has been a whole lot more than I expected, and four of the last five episodes could have easily been the season ender.  The writing has been excellent, enemies and friends have been introduced without bloating the cast too much, and nods to the old television series have been greatly appreciated.  Also, the constant hints to other heroes and villains in the DC Universe have been handled quite well.  I can’t wait for next week’s big episode and can only hope that next season is just as good as this one.

Now, with that primer out of the way, I have to let you know that there might be a few spoilers in the paragraphs that follow.  SO, if you haven’t watched last night’s episode, STOP READING NOW!!!!!  SPOILERS AHEAD!!!!

The Flash -- "Rogue Air" -- Image FLA122B_0161b -- Pictured (L-R): Grant Gustin as Barry Allen / The Flash, Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen / Arrow and Robbie Amell as Ronnie / Firestorm -- Photo: Diyah Pera/The CW -- © 2015 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.

The Flash — “Rogue Air” — Image FLA122B_0161b — Pictured (L-R): Grant Gustin as Barry Allen / The Flash, Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen / Arrow and Robbie Amell as Ronnie / Firestorm — Photo: Diyah Pera/The CW — © 2015 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.

Last night saw the return of two characters (one who has his own show and the other, possibly a part of a series featuring the “lesser” heroes in CW’s DC Television Universe) who show up near the end of the episode to give our favorite red runner a hand against the very menacing and no longer hidden Eobard Thawne/Harrison Wells/Reverse Flash.  Reverse Flash plans to power up the particle accelerator for some nefarious deeds, but in doing so, he (most likely intentionally) put the lives of the metahumans in the containment unit in danger.  Barry decides that he needs to move these villains out of the city for their own protection.

Barry has a plan in mind, but it isn’t that easy to execute.  He hopes to fly the villains in the accelerator to Lian Yu, Oliver Queen’s former hell away from home and an A.R.G.U.S. prison where plenty of Ollie’s old baddies now reside.  In order to do that, he has to truck the villains to Ferris Airfield (Green Lantern reference, kids), suppress their powers while doing so, and then get them on a plane and out of the city without anybody noticing.

At first Barry tries to get Joe to go the somewhat legal route by asking the DA for help.  After getting a stern talking to by the DA, Joe returns empty-handed.  With the accelerator powering up (and with less than sixteen hours to go), Barry seeks out the help of Captain Cold (despite Joe insisting that it’s a bad idea).  Cold agrees, but only after his life as Leonard Snart is erased from everything…..literally, everything.  It’s as if Snart never existed.

Cold’s sister, the Golden Glider, pops up as well, and offers her truck driving abilities to ship Peekaboo, Deathbolt, Weather Wizard, the Mist, and Rainbow Raider to the airfield.  Barry zooms ahead to barricade the streets while Cold provides security all the way to the airstrip.  Of course, things go wrong, and an all out battle between the five villains (who conveniently get their powers back after being contained all of the way to the airfield) and Barry ensues.  Cold arrives on the scene a bit later to put an end to the whole ordeal (he kills one of the villains), and then cuts a deal with the survivors (except Peekaboo, who leaves the fight before it gets too intense) in which they’ll help him if needed.  Barry is on the ground and in pain thanks to a double shot of villainy from Weather Wizard and Deathbolt.  Cold tells the Flash that he and Glider sabotaged the truck so that the metas would regain their powers and that he plans on using all of them in the future.  He then leaves, allowing Barry to live……

The Flash -- "Rogue Air" -- Image FLA122A_0179b -- Pictured (L-R): Grant Gustin as Barry Allen / The Flash and Wentworth Miller as Leonard Snart / Captain Cold -- Photo: Dean Buscher/The CW -- © 2015 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.

The Flash — “Rogue Air” — Image FLA122A_0179b — Pictured (L-R): Grant Gustin as Barry Allen / The Flash and Wentworth Miller as Leonard Snart / Captain Cold — Photo: Dean Buscher/The CW — © 2015 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.

But then Reverse Flash pops up.  He’s ready to take on Barry mano y mano until……

Green Arrow and Firestorm magically appear.  The trio take on Thawne in a very quick but very exciting battle.  I find it funny that Oliver Queen is the hero who actually gets the upperhand on Thawne and tags him with an arrow (twice) with nanite technology lovingly provided by Ray Palmer.  Leave it to the guy WITHOUT any super powers to take down the baddie!

The episode ends with Thawne on the ground and unconscious.  Ollie and Firestorm take off and Barry is left to deal with Reverse Flash.  This sets up and excellent finale next week, and I’m wondering if any back-up or new heroes may pop up to help out the Scarlet Speedster.

Now, was this episode a bit crazy?  Yep.  Was the hype around the big fight a little bit too much?  Probably, but the payoff was great even though that big battle at the end wasn’t very long.  The real successes of this episode lie within the character development of Captain Cold, Golden Glider, Eddie Thawne, and Iris.  Cold (Wentworth Miller) has firmly established himself as the Flash’s toughest villain in this series.  He’s going to be an even bigger problem for Barry than Eobard in my opinion.  His sister is no different, although her prey appears to be Cisco.  Poor Eddie has seen the future, and he doesn’t want any part of it if it includes him marrying Iris.  Iris stepped up to help Caitlin in this episode, and is also fighting with her own feelings much like Eddie.  It will be cool to see how she and him manage being around each other as the series continues and how Barry will fit into the whole picture as well.

Barry grew up a bit also in this episode.  I’ve read other reviews of this episode where people are saying that Barry’s actions were idiotic.  However, I have to say that his actions were the result of him still finding his way as a hero who doesn’t want to kill his enemies if at all possible.  We have to remember that Barry hasn’t been a superhero as long as Oliver Queen in this world.  He’s going to make more mistakes, and possibly bigger ones than attempting to truck a bunch of villains across town.

Now all we can do is wait for next week’s episode.  I’m really hoping that it’s a good show, because this whole season (excepting a couple of episodes) has been stellar.

As always, thanks for reading, friends.  Let me know what you thought about the episode in the comments section.

Avengers, Conventions, Weight Loss! (All Spoiler Free)

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Lake Charles, LA

I’ve been out of the loop for a bit.  I must apologize for that.  After CyPhaCon back in April, I became extremely busy with both work and family life, so I haven’t been able to blog as much as I have wanted to recently.  A few things have passed and a few more things are on the way that I’d like to cover, so I won’t waste any more of your precious time.  Let’s get to the good stuff!

Avengers:  Age of Ultron recently came out, and I managed to see it on the opening weekend.  The theater was packed (as expected) and apparently everyone enjoyed the film.  It featured loads of action, a brief bit of romance between two core characters, and a few surprises that I managed to avoid right up until I saw them revealed to me on the big screen.  Hopefully I can avoid spoilers with the upcoming Star Wars flick as well.

While I enjoyed Age, I have to admit that having had a few days to let it stew over in my brain, there was nothing extremely memorable about it.  In all honesty I enjoyed Captain America:  The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy a whole lot more than this film.  I also prefer the first Avengers flick to this one.  Why?  I can’t really pinpoint one specific reason.  I enjoyed the film to be sure, but it didn’t stick with me like the first film.

I’m more excited about the upcoming films Ant-Man, Captain America:  Civil War, and Thor:  RagnorokAge of Ultron ended with a couple of open ends and teased the next chapter in the Avengers’ Marvel Cinematic Universe, but it just isn’t as excellent in my opinion as a lot of other people seem to believe.

In other news, I’m going to miss out on Comicpalooza in Houston this year.  They’ve loaded up their media and comic guest roster over the last couple of weeks, and I’m really agitated that I can’t make it to the convention.  Space City Comic Con is also looking like another convention that I’m going to miss even though they have an excellent guest list as well that includes cast members from Star Trek:  Voyager and the captain himself, William Shatner!  They also have Lori Petty listed as a guest and I would LOVE to meet her!

Hopefully I’ll be able to swing at least one day at Space City, but things aren’t looking too good for me so far.

The only other convention that I will definitely be attending this year is Bayoucon, which might be better called NomadCon, as it is changing venues once again.  This time around, though, the convention will not take place in Lake Charles, LA.  Instead, it is going to be held at the West Cal Arena & Event Center in Sulphur, LA.  I’ve attended a few rodeos at this venue, but have never ventured inside the event center.  The rodeo arena is definitely nice, so if that’s any indication, the event center should be excellent as well.

The convention takes place in late June (right after my birthday) and features media guests like Anthony Montgomery (Star Trek:  Enterprise), Robert Axelrod (Power Rangers and lots of anime voice work), and Alex Zahara (Once Upon A Time).  Also featured are Todd Haberkorn (Star Trek Continues), John Mangus (actor and stuntman on a number of projects including Jurassic World), and many local and regional artists, actors, and writers.

I’ve hosted and participated in panels at this convention in the past, but I decided against doing any panels this year.  I’m just going to walk around and catch up with any friends that happen to attend.  My favorite green ladies, Orion’s Envy, will also be in attendance, so that right there is reason enough for me to show up at this convention.

In other news, I’ve started working out again.  I’m doing Insanity and am also experimenting with whey protein for the first time.  So far I’ve seen noted improvements in my muscle mass (I am by no means a bodybuilder, but my little bicep bumps make me proud).  My waistline is finally starting to go back down after a six month expansion that was entirely all my fault.  I have friends who are fighting their own weight right now and I’m using their successes as motivation for my own struggle.

insanity

Gotham recently finished up its first season and I must admit that it was excellent for the most part.  There were a couple of stumbles (Fish and Barbara) and some of the episodes were duds but, overall, Gotham has proven that a world without Batman can be just as interesting as a world where he patrols the night.

The Flash has been almost perfect all season long.  Three of the last four episodes could have been season finales in my opinion, but there are still two episodes left before the season wraps!  Grant Gustin and the gang have made me huge fans of the show, and I can’t wait for next season.

Well, that’s about all I have for now.  As we near the midpoint of the year, I need to sit down and take a long and hard look at my life.  There are a few things that I definitely want to change about my current situation, but some of those things are out of my control.  I’m hoping to start seeing a light at the end of the tunnel, and I pray that it doesn’t turn out to be a train.

As always, thanks for reading, and I hope that all of you have an excellent rest of the year.