Do You Like Jewelry? Check Out Steampunk Mamas!

Jewelry is not something I ordinarily write about, but my aunt and cousin have created a brand of jewelry all their own, and I implore you to check them out!

They call their brand Steampunk Mamas and it is obviously meant to appeal to the steampunk fan.  If you’re unfamiliar, steampunk is a genre largely imagining complex science fiction during the Victorian era.

I’ve taken a look at their various websites and it’s pretty cool jewelry!  This mother and daughter team are musicians, artists, craftswomen, as well as jewelry makers.  They make a creative duo!

You can find them at the following links …

Facebook

Artfire

Etsy

Here’s a picture of one of my favorite items that they’ve created …

Dragonfly Necklace with gears and black beading on gold colored chain

I do hope you’ll pay them a visit!

Concerning Star Wars: Rebels

Before I begin, it should be noted I’m thirty-eight years old – born in 1977.  I grew up watching the original Star Wars movies.  I clearly remember seeing Return Of the Jedi in the movie theater.  My older brother, best friend, and I loved the action figures, vehicles, and sets.  I had lunch boxes, masks, we’d make our own lightsabers out of wrapping paper rolls … you get the idea.

When Lucas unveiled the second set of films with The Phantom Menace, I was in my early twenties and, well, it just didn’t quite feel the same.  Maybe it was because I was older, maybe it’s because the films lacked some of the magic … it was probably a combination of the two.

I thought The Clone Wars cartoons were neat, but they didn’t really capture my interest and demand my loyalty.  Again, perhaps it was because of my ever-increasing age, but I think it also had to do with the fact that Anakin Skywalker didnt’ really interest me.  Darth Vader interests me – does even to this day – but not Anakin.  In my mind, Anakin was backstory, and it wasn’t until he began to turn in Revenge Of the Sith that he really started to grow on me.  I knew The Clone Wars cartoons dealt primarily with Anakin before the turn, so I wasn’t all that into it.

So here we are.  I started seeing commercials for Star Wars: Rebels during my own kids’ cartoons and I thought they looked interesting, mainly because of the astro droid, Chopper.  He cracked me up in the little commercials.  Unfortunately, I never made the time to check an episode out.

Until last week.

I decided to watch the first episode last week, and it hooked me right off the bat.  I can absolutely tell you why – it all looks familiar.  For better or worse, this is my Star Wars.  I see the creatures from my Star Wars, I see the vehicle designs, I see my Stormtroopers, I see the retro/funky hairstyles and facial hair, I see the weird tattered clothing mixed with armor and technology, I see the weapons, the architecture.  It’s amazing.

And though the main characters are new, they are extremely likable and charismatic.  Ezra is our orphan runaway, Kanan is our space cowboy, Zeb is our rough monster with the heart of gold, Sabine is our graffiti and explosives artist with the Boba Fett helmet, Hera is our cool-under-pressure pilot, and Chopper is our malcontent, possibly demented, droid.  When we learn that Kanan is a surviving Jedi, and Ezra has potential as his apprentice, it ups the coolness even more.  For example, I grinned from ear to ear the episode Ezra earned his lightsaber.

Plus, though the stories focus on this group of rebels, we get plenty of cameos from old favorites such as Lando, C-P30, R2-D2, wookies, Grand Moff Tarkin, and Senator Organa.

There’s also a new Sith known as the Inquisitor, and he’s awesome.  It’s like they combined Darth Vader and Darth Maul to come up with him.  I’m not complaining – I love the guy.  I hope he lasts a long while.

The story takes place five years before Star Wars: A New Hope, and even though it’s a cartoon, if you’re an old fan like me, you’ll love it.  It’s just flat-out fun.

I hope you’ll give it a try, especially because if you stick it out to the last episode, you will be handsomely rewarded with the greatest Star Wars character of all time.

 

Regarding NBC’s Constantine

I should say from the start that I am not a John Constantine die hard fan.  In fact, until Justice League Dark, I really wasn’t terribly familiar with the character.  I knew of him, but that was really about it.

When I heard NBC planned to air a show using the character, I got excited.  When the first photograph arrived featuring Matt Ryan bedecked in the brown trench coat, loose tie, and disheveled white shirt, I got even more excited.  It appeared as though NBC took this effort seriously.

I’ve watched the show from the start, and though I’ve had an opinion about it for a long time, I wanted to keep watching and keep watching before I voiced that opinion.  We’re now at January 28th, and I think the show has probably found its identity as much as it can for this first season.

I first want to say that Matt Ryan, in my opinion, is perfect.  He looks the part, he acts the part, and he sounds the part.  He’s got swagger, he’s got the hair, he’s got the thin frame – I think this is expert casting.  Furthermore, his face actually looks like it’s lived.  It’s got lines, it looks weathered, I believe this man has seen some serious stuff.  But it’s Ryan’s eyes that really make me believe he’s John Constantine.  When the camera pulls in tight on Ryan’s eyes, they shimmer like little beads and look both haunted, demented, and hopeful all at once.

I also appreciate the “look” of the show.  Each episode looks like a little movie.  The locations are always interesting and vivid.  Furthermore, the special effects are more than respectable, especially for being a weekly show on the small screen.

And while I watch Constantine and enjoy it, I won’t pretend it’s perfect.  The dialogue is sometimes downright awful.  The stories, supposedly based off of classic Hellblazer comics, don’t always translate well to mainstream television.  Some are better than others, and they’ve all entertained me, but none of them ever made me sit up in awe.

But the biggest problem in my mind is the acting.  Other than Matt Ryan, I don’t believe in any of the show’s characters, particularly Zed and Chas.  I realize bad dialogue can impact acting, but the actors playing Zed and Chas always feel a little off to me.  The timing is never quite right, the tone and inflection don’t ever quite fit, and, to be honest, even the body language is awkward at moments.  They may very well be wonderful actors, but I’m not connecting with their takes on Chas and Zed.

I would personally like to see Constantine take on greater scope.  “The Rising Darkness” is so generic and plot driven – I can’t really take it seriously.  I would really like to see Constantine dive into the dark side of the DC Universe.  I don’t know if NBC has rights to characters like Zatanna, Dr. Fate, Swamp Thing, Dr. Occult, The Demon, Tim Hunter, Dr. 13, and Deadman, but their inclusion would truly heighten interest in the show and juxtapose Constantine more powerfully than the sporadic evils he faces weekly.  The best we’ve gotten is Felix Faust, which speaks volumes.

I will keep watching Constantine.  I want it to succeed, I’m rooting for it to prevail and get a second season, yet, at the same moment, I must admit it’s not a show I feel comfortable recommending to friends.   I think the creators and actors are giving it their best effort, and I commend them for making something very watchable, but I don’t feel they’ve yet found an identity that amazes the audience with each episode.

The 12th DAUSTER

I love Doctor Who, though I’m a relatively recent convert.  I think I became a fan about two years ago.  I’m very much enjoying Peter Capaldi’s take since taking over the role of The Doctor.

It was around 2004 that I discovered one of my favorite authors, Paul Auster, and I’ve read nearly every one of his books since.  Of late, Paul Auster has been appearing in my various Facebook and Twitter feeds for this video/article.

And then it hit me – Paul Auster and Peter Capaldi look very much alike.  I created the below image very much in admiration of the two men.

12 DOAUSTER

 

The Flash’s Second Wind

Earlier this month, I bemoaned the fact that I thought The Flash television show began to stale.  I said that the episodes were beginning to feel too formulaic and did not provide enough depth to the main character, Barry Allen.  Other than Eddie Thawne and Dr. Harrison Wells, I didn’t find any of The Flash’s characters particularly interesting.  (Though for the record, I find Tom Cavanagh and Jesse L. Martin by far the best actors on the show.)

I’m happy to report that last night The Flash hit its stride again and matched the action, emotion, and charisma of its premier episode.  The man in yellow, or the Reverse-Flash as comic book aficionados refer to him, brought a whole new element to the show.  Seeing Flash battle one of his greatest enemies with excellent special effects was a true joy.  Plus, they brought the perfect level of creepiness to Reverse-Flash, especially by keeping him in a constant blur with those glowing eyes.

For a life-long fan of The Flash, last night’s episode satisfied on every level.  I like that they finally pushed Barry’s love for Iris in a new direction, that Ronnie Raymond is back and very cool as Firestorm, that Caitlin Snow is rounding out a bit, and that Eddie may have a developing problem with Barry that could become very serious in the future.  I love that they made Firestorm look cool, and that when he flew, it felt more like an ignition than anything.  But, the big moment, the huge reveal at the very end, that was what made me jump out of my seat.  I had my suspicions as to the man in yellow’s true identity, as I’m sure you did, too, but it’s a whole new game when it’s laid right out there.

Of course, I don’t think it’s completely cut and dried.  But now The Flash has a much-needed new layer of complexity, and there are myriad directions for this plot twist to take.  I can’t wait to see how the man in the yellow suit story plays out, what they do with Ronnie and Caitlin, and what the new dynamic is between Iris and Barry.

The Flash picked the perfect time to catch its second wind.

This Suicide Squad Has Life!

I’m the first to admit that I never really cared for the Suicide Squad.  I’ve got the first issue seen below from it’s original publication in 1987, and I can tell you, as a ten-year-old at the time, it wasn’t really my thing.

I’ve been amused by their various incarnations throughout the decades, especially their appearance on the television show Arrow, but when I heard DC and Warner Brothers were committing to a feature film starring the squad, my jaw hit the ground.  With so many wonderful properties under the DC tent, they were not on my radar as a possibility.  Needless to say, my expectations were not high.

But then I started hearing rumors of actors interested in the film.  Will Smith, Tom Hardy, and Jared Leto are the real deals.  These are not actors who have to work in an ensemble film.  These are actors who can carry films just fine on their own.  And when the casting became official (read about it here), my jaw hit the ground again.  There must be something to this film.  If these guys want to be a part of it, the pitch must be excellent.

I’ll watch a Batman movie no matter what.  I’ll watch a Superman movie regardless.  You can always count on me for Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern, Cyborg, and the Justice League.  But the Suicide Squad?  Until a few days ago, I would have said no thanks.  But, with these actors playing Deadshot, Rick Flag, and Joker?

I’m in.

The Flash Versus Arrow

I found myself pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed Arrow when it first arrived on the CW a few years ago.  Don’t misunderstand – I love the character Green Arrow, but I wasn’t much of a CW guy.  (I thought I was too old for the station.)  The show didn’t strike me as perfect, but it got a lot of things right, particularly the way it continuously built upon its own mythos.  The flashbacks, the twists, the sheer angst – it hooked me.

Because of Arrow’s success, I felt positively giddy when Barry Allen appeared on the show and then nearly passed out when they announced a Flash series.  I have loved the Flash character for as long as I can remember.  And though I’m really more of a Wally West guy, Barry Allen was my first Flash in the early Eighties.

The Flash’s premier hit all the right chords.  It was a home run.  Since then, though, it’s fallen a little flat for me.  It’s still my favorite show, don’t get me wrong, but it definitely seems a bit inert and even formulaic to a fault.  All of the actors are terribly charismatic, especially Grant Gustin, but they aren’t being given much to work with.  Other than the scenes between Barry and his father, emotionally speaking, I’m not all that invested.

Seeing Arrow on The Flash drove this point home even more.  Watching Oliver and Diggle interact with Barry, Joe, Cisco, and Caitlin helped me realize that other than Dr. Wells, the Flash’s cast doesn’t have much depth.  Not like Arrow’s.  Granted, The Flash is just starting, but Arrow had already established a deep mythology with the Island by this time in it’s first season.  We had the Queens, the Merlyns, Diggle, the Lances – an assortment of characters each with their own problems to overcome.

Truthfully, I don’t want The Flash to be as dark as Arrow, or as violent.  I like Flash as a hero the people can look up to, a positive force of light.  At the same time, though, I really don’t know any more about Barry Allen than I did in the premier, and I get no sense there is more to Barry Allen.  I think it’s fascinating that the two characters I’m most interested in, Dr. Wells and Eddie Thawne, appear to be the greatest threats to Barry.

I have no doubt Arrow will continue to be excellent – last season’s Deathstroke story line absolutely satisfied.  I also believe The Flash will find it’s way, I just didn’t expect it to stumble after such a strong start.  But, when it finally finds it’s footing, I’ll be cheering the loudest.