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TV Series Review: Silicon Valley Season 1

Episodes: 8
Silicon Valley Online: IMDB
Genre: Comedy, Programming

Richard Hendricks (Thomas Middleditch) is an underappreciated programmer working in the headquarters of one of the biggest tech companies in the world, Hooli. He lives in an incubator with several friends, working on a music search website in his spare time. It is only after he shows some douchebag co-workers the website that folks begin to realize that he is extremely talented and that he has a ridiculous compression algorithm. With numerous companies vying to buy his program and repurpose it, he has to decide whether to keep his baby or take the money.

The series features drug use, swearing, sexual references and other adult themes.

WARNING: Some spoilers…

Silicon Valley is a show focusing on an incubator. An incubator is a residence where programmers work on and further develop their ideas in the hope of making it big. I had heard of incubators from articles previously, and found it a smart way of bringing talented people together. This series discusses what happens when one of those ideas is world-changing, high level compression software.
The household in this case is owned by Erlich Bachman (T.J. Miller), a man that made some money selling Aviato. Bachman is a pot-smoking man-whore with a gift for the gab, but is an all-round dick. He’s made numerous deals where he owns a small percentage of the creations that his residents create should the idea be picked up. He also wears a trademark green shirt reading “I Know HTML… How to meet ladies!” which gives you a further idea of his personality. Miller does a really great job of playing this obnoxious yet occasionally brilliant character.
Richard Hendricks is a brilliant programmer with social anxiety. He is a nice guy, but tends to make things worse due to over-reacting to a situation. He is loyal to his friends almost to a fault. He is allowed to stay in Bachmann’s house in exchange for ten percent of Pied Pipper. The nervous genius comes naturally to Middleditch, and I am somewhat interested to getting some idea of his acting range.
Richard’s long-time best friend is Nelson “Big Head” Baghetti (Josh Brenner), an easy-going if naive guy that Bachmann allowed to stay in the house because of a really crappy Nipple Radar app. Yes, it is as crap as it sounds. He also worked in the same company as Richard, but is kicked out when Pied Piper is formed. He does make out like a bandit though, getting lots of money as a scapegoat and insider. This entails sitting on the roof and chilling with other employees used in the same manner. Brenner is adorable in this role.
Bertram Gilfoyle (Martin Starr) is a Satanist security expert living in the household. I forget what his app was, but a good portion of the show revolves around his competitive relationship with Dinesh Chutgi, which mostly involves pranks and sarcastic remarks. He is a Canadian living in the USA illegally because his car broke down at the border, he walked into the USA but never got around to registering for citizenship because of laziness. I took a liking to Starr’s acting in Party Down, and found his role in Silicon Valley to be an evolution of the sarcastic creative.
The last notable member of the household is Dinesh Chutgi (Kumail Nanjiani). Dinesh is the system administration expert from India. He is a lonely guy that is looking for the right girl, something that Gilfoyle periodically takes advantage of. Nanjiani’s role of Pinder Singh in Franklin & Bash is somewhat similar, but still worthy.

Some of the show focuses on the competition between former friends Gavin Belson (Matt Ross) the co-founder of Hooli, and Peter Gregory (Christopher Evan Welch). Both men are insanely rich and are using Pied Piper as a means to get piss with each other. In this case, the neurotic Peter Gregory sees the brilliance of Pied Piper and decides to purchase part of the company in the hopes of developing the algorithm. In contrast, Gavin Belson showed interest in Pied Piper as a way to get back at Peter. Gavin is even willing to play dirty in order to mess with Peter, which creates a certain amount of the conflict in the first season.

Silicon Valley is a bit of a sleeper series and tends towards a bit of a computer-savvy audience that can stomach characters that regularly sabotage themselves. However, it is not the same sort of comedy as the likes of Big Bang Theory which deals more with scientists that don’t smoke weed. Being part creation of Mike Judge, it also has a comic/cartoonish feel to it. It works as well, not taking itself too seriously and allowing each character to dig themselves out of the messes that they’ve made. If this sounds appealing, then be sure to give the series a watch.

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Anime Review: Gantz

Language: English Dub version
Episodes: 26 episodes (2 seasons of 13 episodes each)
Gantz Online: IMDB 
Genre: Action, Psychological, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror

Gantz is a series featuring high level violence, gore, sex, death and adult themes.

When sex-obsessed student Kei Kurono is killed by a train after reluctantly helping an old school friend save a homeless man that had fallen upon the tracks, the two are transported to a room with various people that have also been digitized and reformed moments before their death. A large ball manifests nearby and informs them that they must dispatch a specific alien target within the time frame otherwise they are dead. The stakes are high, and there will be many corpses before the final curtain is drawn. Who will survive?


First up, this series is not for kiddies. The bizarre nature of the world and the creatures that the Gantz assigns the participants to fight pose a genuine threat to each participant, though many find out too late the extent of the threat that they are up against. The psychological nature of the Gantz often pits each person up against each other as well, though much of this is an extension of existing selfishness, saying a lot about human nature in the process.
The game has numerous rules. The first one is obviously the need to kill or capture the target before the timer runs out. There is also a game zone, in which people have their heads explode if they walk out of the area before the current game concludes. If the target is dispatched, then the surviving members get to go home until they are called up again.
Equipment is customized for each participant, and if they leave it at home, such as Kurono did in the second battle, then they are in deep shit. Given the limitations of the equipment though, such as limited number of activation during a match, each person does need to pick their moments to use it. The various equipment assigned also requires members to work together.

Kei Kurono is a difficult protagonist to like for the most part. He is out for himself and tends to expect the small and selfish gestures that he offers other people to make the females desire him sexually. That being said, he has a strong sense of self and high survival instinct that go well with his physicality and long-suppressed daredevil tendencies. We do see some character growth during the series, but this is weighed down heavily by the shitty situation that Gantz’s game puts the participants in.
In comparison, Masaru Kato is a lot more admirable, but even Kato has his own issues. Kato cares for others, but is contending with a crappy home-life where his aunt who has taken Kato and his little brother under her roof. She is both mentally and physically abusive. As such, Kato tends to deflect his anger towards his aunt onto the bullies at school. Kato has always admired Kurono, but tends to view Kurono as being more heroic than he is.
The third of the main protagonists is Kei Kishimoto, a girl that attempted to commit suicide. By some odd twist of fate, she also has a double out in the real world as her other body was revived at the hospital. Kei Kishimoto cares about people as well, but tends to be subject to sexual harassment and bullying from other participants. In our first sequence, she is rescued by Kato from an attempted rape by a member of the Yakuza that was in the first batch of participants. We see some character growth for Kishimoto during the series, but she often falls back on old, destructive habits. She is the constant damsel in distress with martyr tendencies.

The series was a difficult one to watch because the content was so confronting. That being said, it did get me to consider character traits across the wide spectrum of humanity. We got to see people attempting to protect others, whilst several latter competitors manipulated and picked other participants for no other reason than they found it enjoyable. It is often only in times of testing that we get to see how well our convictions hold up to scrutiny.
In conclusion, this series is for mature audiences that can deal with difficult subjects and stomach the violence. It also deals with issues of life after death, which some folks might find difficult to deal with due to existing beliefs and worldviews. There is a certain level of dark humour as well, the idea that each participant is connected because of ethical weakness. Note further that some questions about the game will remain unanswered, though this leaves things open for the audience to discuss and/or future installments.

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TV Series Review: Powers Season 1

Powers Online: IMDB, wikipedia 
Genre: Science Fiction, Police Procedural, Crime, Action, Drama

This show features violence, gore, swearing, sex, drug use and other content for mature audiences.

Powers is based on a series originally created for Image Comics and now owned by Marvel through their Icon imprint. Set in a world where super-powered people are part and parcel of most aspects of modern life, the story focuses on Detective Christian Walker (Sharlto Copey), a former superhero known as Diamond that lost his abilities after trying to capture his former mentor turned mass-murderer Wolf (Eddie Izzard). Walker now works in the Powers Division of the LAPD, a poorly funded division that is made up of volunteer police officers that take on superpowered villains. When Walker’s partner is killed whilst trying to put a recently captured criminal in a cell, Walker is assigned rookie partner Deena Pilgrim (Susan Heyward). After the death of a member of his former superhero team, Olympia, Walker comes into contact with wannabe hero Calista Secor (Olesya Rulin) and quickly learns that his former best friend Johnny Royalle (Noah Taylor) that affected the prison break of Wolf is still alive. Events are set in motion that will lead to many dead bodies before the action-packed finale.


To begin with, I never read any of the comics. Although I enjoyed the TV adaptation as a whole, Walker strikes me as one the most annoying protagonists. He is a hypocrite, highly judgmental and spends much of his complaining about being helpless when something bad happens, even willing to do risky things in the hope of getting his powers back. Sharlo Copey does a great job of evoking this shallow character whose own misunderstandings of what is going on creates a reasonable share of the conflict in the show.
In comparison, Johnny Royalle, an expert teleporter, is a lot more sympathetic and less shallow. Royalle is just prone to making poor choices that would have been quite different had he had access to certain information. And when he does recognize that he’s made a mistake, it usually results in him trying to rectify the problem. Of course, he is prone to teleporting heads off of people, but they are usually not great people to begin with. I was taken aback when I learned that Noah Taylor was playing the role, but it was a great change from previous clean cut heroes and supporting characters in the past. His role comes a close second to that of Michelle Forbes.
Deena Pilgrim is an odd character. The daughter of the police commander, she is trying to stand on her own rather than follow in the footsteps of her occasionally corrupt father. She specifically requested Walker as her partner because she believes that he can give her insight into how a person with powers thinks. The banter between the two is actually quite funny. She is quite likable as a character. As my introduction to the acting of Susan Heyward, I am quite impressed with the ease at which she makes this character her own.
As for Calista, well she is a pain in the ass. She has some daddy issues because of her upbringing. She is constantly lying and is obsessed with unlocking her latent powers. Her dance between the various sides makes her a difficult character to like, but I am okay with not liking her. Olesya Rulin does a great job of playing an annoying teenager prone to not considering how her behaviour will affect others.
Wolf was a jaw-dropping, genuinely scary character. His tone was dark throughout, moving between willful destruction and homicidal rage. The flashbacks do a great job of showing the progression from respected philosopher and teacher to mass-murderer that eats his victims. We don’t get to see much of him, but what we do see has significant impact on the cast of characters and the world as a whole. Wolf is violent and raw and bloody, a dark intelligence mixed with the capacity to boost his abilities by feeding on his victims. Eddie Izzard has played villains before, but there is something in this particular role that freaked the crap out of me.
Of all of the characters though, I feel the most empathy for Walker’s old flame and superhero Retro Girl (Michelle Forbes). Retro Girl comes off as a little abrupt and controlling initially, but you quickly learn that she is takes the role of hero seriously and feels deep loss whenever she is unable to save people. We also get to see how vulnerable she is in the moments when she is with Walker, a man that she is deeply concerned for now that he no longer has the means to protect himself. Retro Girl is one of a handful of genuine heroes in the series. Though familiar with some of Michelle Forbes’ previous roles, she steps things up a notch with this one. To be honest, I am skeptical as to how many people could play Retro Girl as well as she does. The character just seems made for her.

The horror aspects later on in the first season took me back a bit and showed just what was at risk if Wolf got loose. That threat brings people together and gives them a chance to be heroes. Some of the characters really get their chance to shine, such as Zora. There is also a cost that is paid in the process, but beating the villain feels that much more significant for those losses. It also offers some personal growth for Walker, though his attitude towards his former best friend remains a point of contention even after Johnny’s intervention to stop Wolf in the finale.

Though the series has numerous flaws, it is a show that I enjoyed a lot and I look forward to each new episode. Throughout, we see how complicated things are and the realization that we often don’t see the full picture. The world is a complicated place to live, and Powers does a great job of giving us a glimpse at the length and breadth of human nature.

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TV Series Review: Battle Creek Season 1

Battle Creek Online: IMDB
Genre: Police Comedy, Crime, Drama

Battle Creek tells the story of the small town of Battle Creek. The police are heavily underfunded, having to police with unreliable equipment and poor training. The story begins with a focus on Detective Russ Agnew (Dean Winters), a man that often has to use unconventional
methods for finding bad guys. He is placed in an odd predicament when FBI Agent Milt Chamberlain (Josh Duhamel) gets based in the same building. Milt, a talented and genuinely agreeable fellow, offers to help the local police with resources clearly lacking, but Russ is suspicious that how Milt is presenting himself might be an effort to hide something. Thus begins numerous cases where Russ also attempts to uncover Milt’s secrets, often bringing other members of his police station into the silliness. These attempts are often funny, but we get the distinct impression whenever he is alone that Milt has some issues that he is dealing with.

I really loved the banter between the skeptical and abrupt Russ and the professional and polite Milt. The casting for the two characters was spot on, with Duhamel and Winters knocking it out of the park. The supporting cast was also fantastic. Each character was unique but it didn’t feel artificially created to me. An example is Detective Niblet (Damon Herriman). Herriman is an Australian actor that has been in a few high rating shows in the past few years, which includes his portrayal of Dewey Crowe in the series Justified. Detective Niblet is a slight deviation from such roles where he usually plays a criminal, with the character being a thoughtful, if at times bumbling police detective. This character and characters such as Fontanelle White (Kal Penn) are products of a workplace where they often have to be creative in their policing because they don’t reliable equipment and decent training. In the case of Fontanelle, he wants guns to deal with violent criminals due to situations such as tasers not working properly. We also see many of the outcomes affected by office assistant Holly Dale (Aubrey Dollar), a non-police officer that is mutually attracted to Russ. She is highly perceptive and shows solid deductive reasoning that had a noticeable impact on several investigations throughout the first season. There are a few other regular characters in the show, but the series is focused on the odd friendship between Russ and Milt.

Battle Creek was a stealth classic. Due to this, many people such as myself, missed out on a genuinely funny, well-written show when it first went to air. The lack of promotion for the show has without a doubt affected its success negatively because a lot of folks missed out on Battle Creek. But I still hold out hope that there will be another season because it was an excellent show and I felt like there was a lot more story to tell about the characters.

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World of Keiko 03/30/2016

The past few weeks have been somewhat intense between gaming and hubby’s attempts to get some work reviews in order. A few days ago, he had to deal with a helicopter crash, which was surreal. It was the first disaster since we arrived here. I won’t go into any detail about it, as some of the details are not public yet. And while a life is known to be lost in the accident, this tragedy is juxtaposed with the meeting of our house possum.
The possum in question comes down from the roof to the back steps, then climbs up onto the top of the rail that she (I am making a leap in calling Stripey female) seems to feel more comfortable using to reach ground level than by using the steps. She can scale the side of the house to get to the roof expertly, looking adorable as she does. She is a civilized possum, not making a racket like some possums that live in rooves do. She typically appears every two to three days just after dark. As I declared on twitter several weeks ago, this seems to answer the mystery regarding the critter that we saw a few times after we first moved here. We didn’t get a good look at the time, but we’ve certainly seen her a few times recently now that she’s now grown accustomed to a family with no large dog such as the husky that the former tenants used to keep here.

We’ve been attempting to deal with network issues of late. It appears that it is an issue with the Telstra-provided router, but they appear to not wish to replace the piece of hardware in spite of the issues we are currently having no longer being linked to issues with the satellite dish (now replaced) or modem. It is manageable but the service is sometimes inconsistent.
Hubby lost his Dell monitor three week ago. He was using the 68′ plasma TV while it took time for his Predator X34 to come in. It is weird looking at the ultra-wide screen, but I could find myself growing quite accustomed to one should I ever need a replacement for my Samsung. Yes, it is expensive, but it is something that should last at least 5 years. That being said, we will keep a spare monitor (my old Samsung) waiting in the wings for any unforeseen monitor meltdowns.

So, my anticipation that I would be lessening my computer gaming in lieu of learning was way off. Black Desert Online is highly addictive, and I find myself in the odd predicament where I wake up in the middle of the night to deal with upkeep for one of my characters, such as selling fish from AFK fishing to a trader. My highest level toon hit level 32 yesterday grinding cultists at the Bloody Monastery. It is really odd actually, as quests in-game don’t really offer character XP. They instead offer skill, profession and contribution XP. This leaves character level to grinding monsters and gained in small quantities from professions, such as catching fish or selling fish to a trader. (Yes, I like me some fishing!) Those accustomed to combos will really like the combat system, but the action combat combo system takes a bit of getting used to. Once I did get used to it, I highly doubt that I will ever return to World of Warcraft or a WoW clone. There is a level of strategy involved with certain aspects of the game, such as how to optimize where you use your contribution points.

We watched all of the second season of Daredevil over the past few days. It was neat seeing Electra and Punisher enter the universe. Electra had been mentioned in flashbacks during the first season, but Frank Castle was a pleasant surprise. He had been changed slightly, allowing the audience to see the character go from assassin to a character that we are more familiar with, the guy that puts the fear into the bad guys with his machinations and arsenal of weapons. We saw more of the character Stick, who is a bit of a bastard but he makes reasonable decisions when it comes to dealing with murderous ninjas and other bad guys. His world comes into conflict with that of his former student Matt Murdock, but we got the general impression based on Matt’s decisions towards the end that he is becoming less convinced with the no-kill policy. We also got to see the show tie more noticeably into the Jessica Jones series. And now we have casting sorted for Iron Fist, which seems to have pissed off a lot of folks that wanted the rich white guy in the comics to be cast as an Asian. It is the meeting of those two worlds that makes Iron Fist interesting in my personal opinion. There are also some really neat non-white characters in the Marvel Universe that will be getting some airtime without needing to change characters that are white in the universe. An example of this is Luke Cage and T’Chall. These guys are influential and kick series ass in their particular domains. In the case of Black Panther, he is ruler of his own kingdom (married to Storm no less) whilst also directly fighting global threats. Luke Cage is more regional, but is still important because of the habit of regional problems snowballing into a global threat. I am seriously looking forward to seeing more of Luke Cage based on what I saw in Jessica Jones. Heck, Netflix has done an awesome job so far with their own entries into the Marvel Universe. It is a pity that the same cannot be said for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., a show that had so much potential but it seems that the writers prefer weak choices and plot holes over intelligent writing.
I got around to watching the currently subbed anime series Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash and like it. It is more of a slice of life story about some young people that wake up in a fantasy world with no recollection of the time before. They have to learn the ropes of the world, which requires them to take on a class and become adventurers. That means taking on jobs such as killing off marauding goblins. The characters try on their share of what appear to be new hats as they attempt to make a home in their new reality. There are various clues to suggest that they are likely in some sort of simulation with a mental block whenever they attempt to saw certain words reflective of a modern world, such as the internet. This leaves open lots of questions, some of which will be answered in the first season instead of being overlooked. It does have the feeling of a living and breathing world though and we get to learn more about the rules along with the party.
I hope to get back into Grimm and Lost Girl sometime soon, though it is likely that I will get back into Grimm sooner given that hubby seems to like the series. Hubby also likes the intelligent writing and good casting of the strategic economic drama Billions. There are still a few episodes left of the anime Noragami, a series that I find meaty and adorable to fit my particular preferences. I am one of the millions waiting on new episodes of the anime series “No Game, No Life”, Overlord and One Punch Man.

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Pimp a Patreon: drtyhippiepanda

Panda Online: Twitter, Youtube, Patreon 

I follow a lot of peeps online. Some of the channels and figures that I regard cover subjects such as atheism and skepticism which have special importance for me. In the case of drtyhippiepanda, she posts skeptical videos about modern feminism, citing her own experiences on both sides of the feminist movement. Panda has also discussed mental health issues in the past, dealing specifically with anxiety and depression which are both prevalent in the west.
Her conversational tone works for me because it feels that much more genuine. Throughout, one gets the distinct impression that drtyhippiepanda is anti-BS in general. She doesn’t pretty up language to make it more user-friendly, just pure, uncut Panda.
Be sure to check out drtyhippiepanda’s Youtube channel. If you like what you see then follow her on Twitter and consider throwing some coin her way via Patreon. If you aren’t able to do the latter, be sure to boost the signal to show some love.


Craft Tutorial: Simple Tablet Holder

Some of you are likely aware that I’ve been learning about craft and sewing of late. This has resulted in lots of brainstorming about designs for solving several annoying problems around our house, one of which was a cost effective and simple way to hold up my tablet when I am following a recipe. Given that tablets are becoming quite common these days, many of you will likely come across similar problems that can be addressed by having your own tablet holder.
My first design for a tablet holder was a little ugly, with grotesque angles also resulting in reduced stability and support of my tablet. However, the second design that I made yesterday seems to have addressed these problems. And best of all, it is made from an oddly sized cardboard box that I would have otherwise thrown out.  I haven’t got around to decorating my tablet holder yet because I am trying to decide how to pimp it out and also lacking some much needed craft supplies for the task. Tablet Holder 01 standing
Below are some instructions and a PDF of the template for making the current prototype that can comfortably hold my iPad 4 in either landscape or portrait direction. Feel free to alter the design to meet your particular needs, but remember that it will be holding a device that might produce a bit of heat, hence you should consider materials used to make and/or decorate your own tablet holder.

Tablet Holder 04 iPad LandscapeTablet Holder 03 Portrait ipad


You’ll need:

  • 20cm x 25cm Cardboard, thick
  • Scissors, sturdy and/or Stanley knife + cutting board
  • Tablet holder templates (created using the CamScanner app on my Windows phone)

Chose a piece of cardboard. Print out your template. Using the applicable template, cut out your cardboard tablet holder. Trim uneven bits.

If you are using the mirrored version on a flat piece of cardboard, you will note the immediate need to bend it in the middle which I forgot to make on the design itself. Bending cardboard poses its own challenges as there are different types of cardboard that often require specific strategies. Pre-bent cardboard might save on the need to bend the cardboard, but it might also have some wear and tear from previous use and might result in some uneven sections on the underside which should be noted in the mirrored template that I made by drawing around my current design. If you do use a bending method, consider that there might also be some unforeseen problems such as overbending, hence you might find incremental rails useful or wish to place masking tape along the crease for added support. The following video on bending cardboard will explain the ins and outs of bending cardboard based of the specific traits of the cardstock used:


The current design will likely be suitable for use with hard plastic and wood as well, with hinges as an option if the budding crafter wants to fork out some extra money for it. Regardless, you will likely feel inclined to decorate the end product and even further modify the design to fit your particular needs, which might include intricate designs (such as as gaming, anime and other pop culture staples. which includes Game of Thrones banners) cut into or printed on the side. (Note that this also opens up ideas such as small stained glass style design which could be made by cutting the design into two layers and placing a translucent design out of something like celophane in the middle.) I’d also recommend using sealant if you go the cardboard route as liquids tend to make short work of paper products.
If you do end up making use of the design in any regard, feel free to post about it in the comments section. Post pictures or your tablet holder in use or being knocked over by your kitteh – go mad! If you want some further clarification on the project, feel free to ask away and I will attempt to answer to the best of my ability.


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