Categories
Nostalgia Review Video

Rewatch – Tron: Uprising

Tron: Uprising was an animated series which attempted to bridge the gap between the films Tron and Tron: Legacy. Premiering in 2012 on Disney XD, the series ran for 18 episodes (and a prequel web series, which you can watch on Youtube) before it was canceled. As you know from my review of Stargate Universe, I’m usually not a fan of canceled series, but like Stargate SG-1, this series re-shaped my appreciation of the Tron films.

The series stars Elijah Wood (yes, Frodo Baggins) as Beck, a mechanic being trained by the original Tron (voiced by original actor Bruce Boxleitner) as his replacement. They face off against the occupying forces, lead by Lance Henriksen (yes, that guy from everything) as General Tesler and Paul Reubens (yes, Pee-wee Herman) as Pavel. There’s also a tenuous love interest between Beck and Emmanuelle Chriqui as Paige, one of Tesler’s occupation commanders, who doesn’t know that Beck is the new Tron. Other familiar voices show up throughout too, including Reginald VelJohnson (yes, Carl Winslow), Tricia Helfer (yes, Number Six), Aaron Paul (yes, Jesse Pinkman), Lance Reddick (yes, Phillip Broyles), and Olivia Wilde reprises her role as Quorra from Tron: Legacy.

Besides the impressive visuals that you get with any entry in the Tron franchise, the overall story is very well thought-out with only one cliché episode (protagonist amnesia, my least favorite cliché), but that episode gives the original Tron a chance to shine, so I didn’t complain (much). The series also has some impressive animation, particularly the fight choreography. And, the music is outstanding, composed by Tron: Legacy soundtrack composer Joseph Trapanese (available on Apple Music and Spotify).

It’s hard to pick a stand-out star here, everyone in both the main and recurring casts is brilliant. Disney did a great job here. With that said, this is the first time I’ve heard Paul Reubens as anything other than Pee-wee Herman, as a villain nonetheless, and I was constantly impressed. He has some serious range as Pavel, and it’s practically a case study in why you should avoid typecasting.

I’m conflicted on the ending. It’s not a gentle cliffhanger, like Stargate Universe, it’s quite harsh. Furthermore, despite being developed to bridge the gap between Tron and Tron: Legacy, the ending left me bewildered as to how that could even happen. How does Tron become evil before Tron: Legacy? Where’s Beck and his resistance movement in Tron: Legacy? These seem like important questions that this series is responsible for answering. There’s a pivotal moment in the final episode, events could only go one of two ways. If they went one way, it would have more than answered those questions and the series would have flowed effortlessly into the film, but they didn’t, which is very confusing. Maybe it’s just better to think of that moment as one which spawned an alternate universe. Despite the cliffhanger ending though, the series is well worth watching.

If you’re a fan of Tron, or just a fan of great animated action in general, you’ll love Tron: Uprising! You can stream it on Disney+ or buy the complete series on Apple TV for $39.98.

Categories
Technology Video World

Happy New Year! the 2020 edition

2020 begins today, so it’s a great time to start using some basic privacy toolsmake sure your browser is up to dateupdate all of your passwords, and setup two factor authentication wherever you can.

The theme this year was apparently themes, since the top two posts were Twenty Nineteen Tweaks and A Search Shortcut For Any Theme, the only two posts about themes. I guess I’ll need to get to work on some tweaks for the Twenty Twenty theme.

We’ll need more people sharing their voices and experiences this year, so please considering launching your own site with WordPress (and Jetpack) or WordPress.com, or start posting again if you already have one!

Now, let’s all have a great 2020!

Categories
Nostalgia Review Video

Rewatch: Kyōryū Sentai Zyuranger

You may have heard me mention it before, but I grew up loving the Power Rangers, and while I tried to get back into it for this Rewatch series, I couldn’t get through anything but the 1995 movie. I think I’ve just aged out of it. Fortunately, I was introduced to Super Sentai and its stark differences. It turns out that removing all but the action sequences from the original series results in a choppy uneven experience. Earlier, I watched Hyakujuu Sentai Gaoranger (read the Rewatch review), the Super Sentai counterpart to Power Rangers Wild Force. It was the last Power Rangers series I saw (and gave up on), so it made sense to start there. Now I’ve seen Kyōryū Sentai Zyuranger, the Super Sentai counterpart to Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, the series I remember the most.

Kyōryū Sentai Zyuranger translates as “Dinosaur Squadron Beast Ranger” and follows our heroes as they awaken from a 170-million year hibernation to defeat the recently awoken witch Bandora, played by Machiko Soga.

Fighting Bandora with various weapons and mecha, our heroes are from five ancient tribes that lived alongside the dinosaurs, not “teenagers with attitude” thank goodness. Yamato Tribe Prince Geki (Red), played by Yūta Mochizuki and suit actor Hiroshi Maeda, leads the team. Sharma Tribe Knight Goushi (Black), played by Seiju Umon and suit actors Naoki Ofuji and Yasuhiko Imai, is the conscience of the team. Etoffe Tribe Knight Dan (Blue), played by Hideki Fujiwara and suit actor Shoji Hachisuka, is the reckless member of the team. Dime Tribe Knight Boi (Yellow), played by Takumi Hashimoto and suit actor Hirofumi Ishigaki, is the youngest of the team. Lithia Tribe Princess Mei (Pink), played by Reiko Chiba and suit actor Kiyohito Nakagawa, is the heart of the team. And later, Yamato Tribe Knight Burai (Green), played by Shiro Izumi and suit actors Seiji Takaiwa, Yasuhiro Takeuchi, and Hideaki Kusaka, joins as the team’s last-minute savior for a while after being a misguided villain. They follow the guidance of the mysterious sage Barza, played by Jun Tatara, in their quest to stop Bandora.

In comparison to Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, everything is better. The story flows far better, because we aren’t dealing with just disconnected action footage. The music is by far better, because we aren’t dealing with an electric guitar that seems incapable of stopping. The fights are better, because they seamlessly move from fights with the main actors to fights with the transformed suit actors. The cast is excellent too, but if I had to pick one standout, it would be Shiro Izumi as Burai. His story is intense and dramatic. Is this a great show? No. Is it entertaining? Absolutely!

Whereas Gaoranger felt like a live action anime, Zyuranger feels much more like classic martial arts films. There’s a warmth to it that’s not as bright as Gaoranger, but the story is just as intense. There are some very goofy moments, it doesn’t strike as good of a balance between humor and drama as Gaoranger did, but this is a show for children, and it’s nowhere near as goofy as Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Oh yes, and Bandora likes to sing about herself … a lot. It’s odd, but I’ll allow it.

I recommend starting at the beginning, but if you want a smaller set of episodes to try out, I recommend Burai’s arc, which starts on episode 17. It’s a particularly goofy episode, but gets quite intense in the last few minutes, and you should be hooked for the remaining arc.

You can stream all of Kyōryū Sentai Zyuranger for free on Shout! Factory TV. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did, and while you’re there, check out the other Super Sentai counterparts to the Power Rangers shows that you grew up with!

Categories
World

Going Carbon Negative

There are many ways to lower your carbon footprint, from simply recycling to outfitting your home with solar panels, but there are somethings you mostly can’t avoid, like air travel. The good news is, you can offset your remaining carbon footprint by donating to a group that plants diverse native trees (non-native monocultures are bad for the planet).

In our case, we chose Trees For The Future, a fully vetted nonprofit group that works to replace monoculture farms with Forest Gardens, which provide diverse, native, and food-producing trees. These trees, besides clearing carbon, provide year-round food and income for the farmers, and are therefore far more protected than most tree planting operations, and it really does work. Plus, they provide a handy calculator so you know exactly how much you need to donate to offset your carbon footprint with them.

Trees For The Future can help you easily climb that final step to carbon neutrality, but what about going carbon negative? That’s where Ecosia comes in. Ecosia is a search engine which uses its proceeds to plant trees all over the world, and they have the financial reports to back it up. Using Ecosia requires no monetary commitment, every 45 searches plants 1 tree. I do a lot of searching for work, so I switched the search engine in my work browser to Ecosia, and we have already planted 8 trees after 2 months.

I’ve done the best I can to limit my carbon footprint, I use Trees For The Future to cover everything else, and Ecosia at work to plant a few extra trees. It’s easy to do, and well worth it.

Categories
Technology

On Social Networks

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, especially with the introduction of WT.Social, a new social network from the co-founder of Wikipedia, which boasts about being a better alternative to the mainstream social networks. We all know those mainstream networks, and we’re all probably on them. I’m on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram, but there’s a lot more out there, and sometimes I wonder if that’s becoming a problem.

Originally, Facebook introduced itself as the only social network you’ll ever need. Almost 14 years later, it doesn’t seem like that has happened. Smaller players have joined and left the field, even big players have. Google’s own Google+ lasted 7 years, and let’s not forget Apple’s own iTunes Ping which lasted for a mere 2 years. But, others are hanging in there, like Tumblr, Reddit, and even WordPress.com has a social network element. They thrive on a loyal user base that prefers their product over others, and as Facebook continues to land on the wrong side of privacy, security, and marketing, no wonder other social networks are still thriving.

In the old days, we’d check probably just 1 social network probably just once a day, but now it’s more like 4 or 5 social networks 4 or 5 times a day (likely more). Is that a problem though? Is there an issue with having access to your friends and family, and a whole world of information, at all times? I believe that social media fatigue is real, so I suppose it all comes down to how you use them.

For me, I consider Twitter to be my primary social network, I’m on there and engaging the most, largely thanks to Twitterrific. I’m also on Instagram for photos, LinkedIn for business-y things, and reluctantly Facebook because that’s where I can connect with the most people I know. WordPress.com is in my life too, but that’s where I work, so I still consider it work. I do have my eyes set on Tumblr, but someone has squatted my username, and after winning Twitter and giving up on Instagram, I don’t think I’ll bother right now. I am now on Tumblr, though I’m not entirely sure what I want to do with it quite yet.

I have joined and thoroughly enjoy one alternative social network, MLTSHP (pronounced Malt Shop). It’s just a place where folks share fun images, GIFs, or videos they found around the internet. Think of it like a curated Tumblr or Reddit. It’s not free, there’s a small $3/year membership fee to keep all the junk out, and it works! Everyone there is kind and supportive, you’re immediately one of them just by joining, and anyone who joins with ill will is usually within hours of violating MLTSHP’s Code of Conduct anyway. The mainstream social networks are free and powered by advertising, you’re the product. MLTSHP is powered by that membership fee (and a $24/year upgrade for folks who want a few extras) and it’s entirely open source. You’ll never be the product at MLTSHP, and you could always fork it if it ever shut down, which is actually how MLTSHP was born from the ashes of MLKSHK (pronounced Milk Shake). You can follow folks there (like me), but the total membership is only in the hundreds, so you can go through the entire incoming feed once a day easily.

For me, MLTSHP makes up the missing piece of my social network collection. Twitter for engagement, Facebook for connections, LinkedIn for business connections, WordPress.com for work, and MLTSHP for fun. While I long for the unlikely days of 1 altruistic social network to rule them all, I think I’ve struck a good balance with these 5. Social networks will come and go. You should definitely try new things, but the best thing to do is to watch out for fatigue, however you handle that.

(Photo by Merakist on Unsplash)