Test Poll: Favorite Babylon 5 Species

So I was sitting here today while my wife was watching something awful on TLC and I decided to goof around and explore some of the options on my blog.  As I poked around I came across the polling feature that is available here.  I had set up the polls awhile ago, but I’ve totally forgotten about it until now.  So bored, and interested to see how this works, I decided to give it a try and make a test poll.  So take a look below, and add your vote!

In my continuing mission to bring Babylon 5 back to the sci-fi cultural forefront I decided to throw together a B5 poll.  Just a simple opinion poll in order to determine what alien races were among the favorites for fans of the show.  Of course there are probably only about three of you out there who actually watched the series enough to even know what the hell I’m talking about, but oh well.  This is only a test anyway I just want to see how it goes.  So regardless of how familiar you are with the show, if you’ve read this post this far than just do me a favor and pick one and vote.

That is all!

New Webcomic. I’m a Fan!

Really quick I want to promote a webcomic I just learned about. I found this among the forum pages on the main site of the Ohio Garrison of the 501st Legion, the Star Wars costuming association. I regularly post on that forum, though sadly I have yet to acquire my own armor, or any other credible Star Wars costume in order to become a full member. One day. *sigh*

Anyway the comic is put out by a fellow by the name of Jason Banditt Adams and is called Rogue’s Galley. I’ve noticed his posts on the 501st forum before, but I can’t say that we’ve ever really gotten to know each other. However he recently posted the link to his webcomic and I have to say I was pretty impressed. The artwork is good and the writing is really great! It’s hard to come up with those quick three panel comics, and make them funny, but from what I’ve seen so far that doesn’t seem to be a problem for him. Basically the premise is about the classic villains of our childhood (that is if you were a child during the 80’s and 90’s) hanging out at a this bar, the Rogue’s Galley, and talking about how terrible things are on the perpetually losing end of a continuous struggle between good and evil. Shredder, Cobra Commander, Gargamel, Mumm-Ra they’re all there so follow this LINK and go check it out immediately! As of this writing there were only about 6 comics posted, but with such a strong start I’m sure there are more to come! Also look up Rogue’s Galley on Facebook HERE and stay up to date when new strips are posted!

Gotta support a fellow Star Wars fan in his rad artistic pursuits!

If you love the old cartoons, then go read this comic!

George Frideric Handel: Musical Occultist (Sort Of)

George Frideric Handel. Best known for the Messiah, and the Hallelujah chorus, right? Sure I suppose, if you’re a classical music newb! Oh snap! Zing! Pow! Seriously though Handel has a great many works that are on par, if not better than the Big M, I think it’s safe to say that particular operetta simply gets more airtime due to its sacred subject matter. It’s always smart to write pieces of music that will fit nicely with prominent holidays of major religions. Keep that in mind all you young orchestral composers out there!

Anywho three of my favorite works by Handel have a much more occult flavor, and even venture into pagan mythology! Gasp! My favs include Xerxes, Hercules, and Solomon. First off Xerxes, yes that Xerxes, king of the Persians, great leader of men who marched across the mediterranean area and was featured prominently in the movies The 300 Spartans and 300. In this opera the king is not a villain, but is rather a symbol for Handel’s baroque ideals, transformed into a hero leader who fought against great opposition, beyond that the opera is just a Shakespearian type love story with mistaken words confusing the matter “She thinks he loves her, he thinks she should love him” etc.

"Who am I in love with?!?!?"

When it comes to Hercules, the great greek demigod hero of myth, Handel writes an opera that takes place after Hercs 12 feats, his return home, and his subsequent tragedy and death. Other than that I don’t know much about the plot points of this one, the recording I have of this is in german so I don’t know what the hell they’re saying.

The Incredible Hercules in the baroque style

Lastly, and perhaps my favorite, is the oratorio about Solomon, the king. Solomon is a very enigmatic biblical figure and is best known today among modern mystics as the father of occult ceremonial magic. Whether that title is fitting or not is another topic entirely. This piece however deals with the traditionally popular accounts of Solomon; the ruling to cut the baby in half, and his dealings with the Queen of Sheba. The overture from Handel’s Solomon is just a great listen, one of my favorites.

King Solomon

It is important to remember however that Handel himself, along with his audience wouldn’t really have associated any of these works with their subjects occult connections. Granted the connections are there and viable however, for the most part that just wasn’t part of the mindset of the baroque era. The focus of these works are heroics and great leaders, and Handel doesn’t really bother to go any deeper than that. Handel was setting these older tales in a modern setting for his time, drawing parallels between his ruling class and those legendary rulers from history. Though there might not be any hidden truth in these “occult operas” there is some great music and I encourage you to give them a listen if you’ve never heard these works before. Though I should warn you Xerxes and Solomon both were originally written for castrato (sung by women these days) so that might seem a bit odd to our modern sensibilities! Balls away!

That is all!
(I hope the upcoming Xerxes movie looks exactly like the video below!)

My All Time Favorite TV Show, Still My Favorite

IGN recently released their list of the top 50 greatest Sci-fi shows which can be found here.

My all time favorite TV show is of course one in the sci-fi genre, and it is not surprisingly on this list. I would have liked to have seen it placed slightly higher (it came in 13th) because as TV series go this show had a set goal in mind from the very start, it only ever grew in quality of story and design, and it broke away from the genre stereotypes of the day, that is to say it wasn’t simply a Star Trek rip-off. I am of course talking about Babylon 5, the brainchild of one of my favorite television and comic book writers J. Michael Straczynski. I should first explain that I hate Star Trek, though I suppose hate is a bit much. As an enormous Star Wars fan I am diametrically opposed to Star Trek in all its forms. I can watch the original series for the great cast, and I enjoy catching an odd episode of the Next Generation here and there, but Star Trek has just never gotten it’s hooks in me and I do not at all seek to further investigate the mythos of the Trek.

Babylon 5 however did hook me. When it comes to large projects on either the big or small screens I don’t insist on huge budgets and witty, clever writing. I look for something with some ideals and some heart, which is exactly what Babylon 5 brought to the table, the addition of excellent writing just happened to be a bonus for me. I was introduced to the show when my father told me there was going to be some new made for TV space sci-fi movie on. He couldn’t remember the name of it at the time, but said it looked interesting. Being the angsty teen I was, I thought to myself it would most likely be a terrible, campy, bad effects, TV movie. If my dad thought it looked cool, then it probably wasnt’ cool. Then the title came up and it was Babylon 5: In the Beginning. Then I was really pissed, because of what little I knew about Babylon 5 before this introduction, I assumed it was another Star Trek spin-off series and had simply written it off as nothing more. However I didn’t immediately switch the channel and within the first five minutes I realized Babylon 5 was something all its own, something original set in a unique universe. The movie we watched, In the Beginning, was actually a perfect jumping on point. It was a prequel movie that encapsulated some of the history that would often be alluded to later in the show and introduced me to all of the main characters, if only in brief snippets. The movie was shown on TBS or TNT or something and was of course a cross promotion timed along with the start of Babylon 5 being shown on the channel in reruns from season one.

The original Babylon 5 crew lead by Commander Jeffrey Sinclair

I of course tuned into the show, I started the journey through the series from episode one faithfully following through the shows ups and downs to the end of season five, and beyond to the brief and mostly forgotten spin-off show. I could go on and on about why I love this series. The characters. The politics. The mysteries within mysteries. The idea behind the Babylon project. The galactic United Nations concept. The characterization of the cultures. The full deep history of that universe which was presented in a way that didn’t drown you in details but rather delicately hinted at its fully fleshed out complexities. This show without a doubt had some of the best characters on television, who not only made for great stories but who each had their own story, every character evolved, grew, changed and adapted as the show went on which was one of the major selling points of the series. I have so much love for this show it is difficult not to get carried away in praise of it, I will continue to press this show upon the uninitiated until the day I die. The only problem I can pin on this series is that it relied on the viewer to follow the story, to get to know these characters, and thusly became very dependant on its own continuity. The idea of a TV show doing that today is nothing new, what with DVR, Hulu, and seasons of shows coming out on DVD like clockwork it’s much easier now to catch up on a show. For a long time however that was a major downside to Babylon 5, it was hard to go back and rewatch episodes past. In fact I made it a mission of mine to spread the love for this sci-fi realm to the point that I religiously recorded each episode, edited out the commercials on my rig of two VCRs, and struggled to put them in proper chronological order (remember, such information was not yet as fleshed out on the internet in those days, I had to hope the reruns were aired in the right order and if not I had to try to figure it out from episode to episode.) I showed those tapes to as many friends as possible, and eventually formed a small band of my friends into die-hard B5 fanatics. We had many a long evening where we played the Babylon 5 card game, while eating oven baked appetizers, followed by watching as many episodes as we could before passing out.

The gang from Babylon 5 under the command of Captain John Sheridan

From the start of the Babylon 5 saga creator J. Michael Straczynski had a story arc in mind which would take place over 5 seasons. Mysteries were brought up, histories revealed, characters developed, intrigues lingered, and epic wars were fought. The last season ushered in a new era for the characters and wrapped up the overall story excellently. There were no loose ends, and closure was achieved. There were of course things that crept into the spinoff and with such a huge and well laid out universe there were of course more stories to tell, but Babylon 5 the show, and the station itself, finished it’s tale in a grand style. For the longest time I expected Babylon 5 to be dethroned as my favorite show by the highly awesome LOST (which heavily features Mira Furlan, a Babylon 5 heavy hitter.) I wisely decided to hold back crowning LOST as my favorite until the series ended and wrapped up it’s winding enigmas. Personally I believe LOST failed in its conclusion. That is not to say LOST is not an awesomely terrific show, but the build up, climax, and ending of Babylon 5 will, for me, remain the measure of a well thought-out, smart, and unique television experience. Hopefully one day there is a show that can top Babylon 5, but as for the direct future I do not see any such show on the horizon.

Anyway, believe it or not I was hoping to keep this blog entry brief, so that is all!

“Presidents Day” Should Be a Celebration of Deeds, Not Power

Today was Presidents Day. Every time this holiday rolls around I am reminded of an editorial piece I read several years ago in the local Akron Beacon Journal which brought up an important concept about this national holiday and its poorly chosen title. Though I had a basic understanding about the history of this federally observed holiday, sadly the ideas brought up in this newspaper article hadn’t struck me fully until after its reading.

As I’m sure most of us know, originally Presidents Day was not called “Presidents Day,” but rather a celebration of George Washington’s birthday. This of course is indeed a noble cause for celebration. George Washington was a father of our nation, leader of our homegrown revolution, and first president of our free nation. There is no one, even in todays poisonous political environment, who would argue that a recognized celebration of the life of George Washington would be out of order as a nationwide observance. Likewise, there was at one time a celebration of the birth of Abraham Lincoln. The leader of our nation who struggled to maintain our union throughout a divisive and bloody civil war. President Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves, undoing the shameful practice which lingered far too long in this country. Though the legitimacy of exulting our 16th president might be in question by the last of our country’s hold-out idiot bigots, the majority of our citizens understand the importance of this influential and important president.

Two separate celebrations for two separately extraordinary leaders of the United States. However at some point in history (I’m not a facts guru, go look it up) it was deemed that two days off was one too many, and the celebrations of Washington and Lincoln were combined into a single observance called Presidents Day. Which, under that broad title thusly diminishes the honor of the individual men previously heralded. Essentially, in the mind of the general public, Presidents Day became the sweeping celebration of a position of power, and not the celebration of the wise few who have wielded such power with great distinction.

Calvin Coolidge, Richard Nixon, George W. Bush. As I recall these were not popular men in our nations history, or at least they each had very troubled moments during their reigns, in terms of popularity. Whatever your political views are, or your personal views of the aforementioned three presidents, it is safe to say that none of that trio will ever be revered as a great watermark in American political history.

I guess what I’m getting at is that regardless of how your political stance leans or how terrible our modern political environment might seem it is important to remember that there were a few select Presidents of the United States who performed truly great deeds and exhibited the qualities needed to induce a nations veneration. Those are the individuals we should be celebrating on Presidents Day, I would suggest we change the title to “Awesome Presidents Day” or perhaps “Above Average Presidents Day” I just have a problem with lumping them all together in a single uninformed observance. Although I can not remember the author of that commentary from my local newspaper I am thankful I read it, and was thusly inspired to remember the important aspects of this national holiday. So take a moment to think about what your country might be like without the two gentlemen seen below.

That is all!

George Washington and Abraham Lincoln: American Legends

Thor Looks Appropriately Epic

First off the newest Thor trailer was released recently and word on the street is that another Captain America trailer is on the way as well!

This new trailer can only be described in one word, EPIC! Granted it is only a movie trailer, but from what we’ve seen in these first two previews of the film I have to say that it certainly looks like this movie has captured the grandeur and sprawling splendor of Asgard with a good mix of the mundane Midgard. In the first trailer we got more of an idea about what Thor would be like on earth, heavy on S.H.I.E.L.D elements with Thor running around in a t-shirt and jeans. In this trailer however we see much more of mythic Asgard, Thor in his full battle regalia, along with some new scenes on earth. I’m especially liking the Destroyer armor, that shit is straight out of the comics! Most importantly we see how the two settings are going to mix, that there seems to be a great balance of the visual spectacle of the Gods mixed with the small town america aspects of the film which ultimately endear Thor to the world of men.

To be honest I was a little worried when word came down to us that Thor would take place in both Asgard and Midgard. Originally the rumor was that the movie would be set entirely in Asgard, with Thor amongst his fellow godlings. I was pretty excited for the prospect of a chance to really set up Thor’s character in Asgard in an epic realm with a feeling and story akin to the Lord of the Rings. Pure myth and fantasy, with perhaps a lead in at the end where Thor is banished from the land of the Gods which would work into the Avengers extravaganza. However after seeing this and the other footage from Thor I think this mix of settings that Kenneth Branagh has put together will be even better. It looks like we will not be shorted any amount of myth and fantasy in this movie, and we will have Thor’s earthly set up out of the way and fully explained by the time the Avengers movie rolls around. Plus it will set the Thor movie apart from the other Avengers solo outings, in that we will have an obviously different movie from Iron Man, and a mix of two worlds unlike Captain America, which will be entirely set in the era of World War II with little or no connection to the modern-day of the Avengers.

All of this will be quite a benefit to each individual movie in the long run, and each individual series of movies (assuming there is going to be a Captain America 2 and Thor 2) because in these initial outings we get to develop these unique characters in very different ways which gives a specific feel and focus to each hero. This helps alleviate the stereotypical super hero movie cookie cutter plotlines and hopefully continue the costumed hero genre (as long as they are done well) for a long time to come. Also this could make for a very successful Avengers series of movies. The Avengers has a great many fans excited, but it is a project that I have heard some nervous grumblings about as well. More or less some fans are claiming it will never be done right with so many big personalities involved both in front of and behind the cameras. I however believe that Marvel Studios has established, quite successfully, that these various heroes are very unique individuals with certain skill sets which they bring to the table and if the studio wants to do the Avengers right, they will throw a big earth shattering problem at this assembled team of do gooders and let the movie be a playground for their heroics. Spotlighting what we already know about these heroes while at the same time showing them in a team and working together to save the day. Not to say that there won’t be some friction among the members (Hulk and Thor mayhaps?) but they really shouldn’t over think the Avengers, they’ve already got the really cool pieces in place now they just have to put it together with the same attention to detail and focus on talent that they have with these other movies in order to make one epicly cool movie!

And on that note, that is all! Maybe next time I will discuss the upcoming DC movies, who knows?

The Avengers Big Three