Tag Archives: Review

Book of Boba Fett, Ep 1 – MINOR Spoilers

I’ll discuss the episode in general but not get into any specific plot points. That should allow any readers to fully enjoy the episode.

Is it just me, or does Fett’s wrist rocket look like Rhodey’s “The Ex Wife” missile from Iron Man 2? LOL

Fans with enough time to stay caught up with Star Wars on Disney+ likely already knows that Boba Fett made his return appearance in The Mandolorian Season 2. Also that at the end of that season, Fett returned to Jabba’s former palace, killed Bibb Fortuna (Jabba’s former Major Domo who took over his operations after Return of the Jedi), then took his place as the head of what used to be Jabba’s criminal empire.

THAT is the background or set up for “The Book of Boba Fett”. The story (thus far) is a combination of Fett trying to assume true control over Jabba’s empire, and flashbacks of what happened to him between “Return of the Jedi” and “Mandolorian”.

The whole news / gossip media is in a tizzy over the “finally” revealed way Boba Fett survived his trip into the Sarlaac’s maw. It’s been a HUGE plot hole, blah blah blah…

Long terms fans know it was revealed decades ago that Fett simply burned and blasted his way out. It was in the Extended Universe books AGES ago. Well, at any rate, one of the first flashbacks we see is Fett waking up in the Sarlaac and then blasting his way out. The closest thing to a revelation in that scene was something I long suspected but never saw officially declared; Stormtrooper armor has an internal cooling system.

Why there was a Stormtrooper in the Sarlaac’s stomach is another question altogether, as there were none at Jabba’s little party in ROTJ.

Boba got his armor stolen by Jawas after escaping (thus confirming what was revealed in Mandolorian), and then spent some time with Tusken Raiders. How that came about I’ll let readers see for themselves.

The non-flashback scenes consist of Boba Fett and his assistant trying to establish their claim to Jabba’s empire. Without giving away any real plot, Boba’s main difficulty thus far is that he insists on thinking like a Mandolorian instead of a Crime Boss. He sees marching into Mos Espa on his own two feet as a show of strength, for example. He’s a Mando and doesn’t need to be pampered like a Hutt carried on a litter by slaves.

Those in the underworld see walking in on foot as not commanding enough fear and respect to have underlings carry you however. Perhaps also as having a weak power base, although that’s never outright said.

Needless to say, that’s already led to a couple of challenges to Boba’s authority. How he deals with them in the long term, we’ll have to wait and see in future episodes.

All in all, if you’re a Star Wars fan, it’s worth a look.

Side Note:

One thing I did appreciate about the episode is that it expanded upon the culture of the Sand People / Tusken Raiders. “A New Hope” really did nothing there, nor did Anakin’s prequel encounter with them. Suffice it to say that there is a tribal culture there; something akin to a Conan-esque barbarian culture. Having seen a very similar portrayal in Star Wars: The Old Republic, I was happy to see that kept as canon for the Star Wars Universe. They even kept the SWTOR idea that Sand People have pets. In the game they were called “Rill” and were basically reptilian “pet dogs”.

In “Book of Boba Fett”, the Rill were replaced with the same critters we saw briefly in Madolorian:

Same role, etc… just a different name and better appearance.

Quick Review: Superman & Lois on The CW

Last week, the CW Network rolled out the newest addition to it’s lineup of “Arrowverse” shows set in the DC Comics universe; Superman and Lois

Thanks to the events of the Arrowverse version of the “Crisis on Infinite Earths”; Superman and Lois are now older and have a 14 year old twin sons. Meet Jonathan and Jordan Kent:

Jonathan is the one with the blond hair and necklace…

Not as revolutionary an idea as you think. Clark and Lois have a son about that age in the actual comic books who is also named Jonathan (named after his grandfather):

In fact, he’s the current Superman in the latest twisting of the DC Universe. That’s a WHOLE different post to explain however… Let’s get back to the show instead.

Spoilers Ahead:

If you haven’t seen episode 1 yet, it’s probably on the CW’s website. Otherwise, spoilers ahead. Episode 2 is tomorrow though.

The show starts out briefly introducing the current state of the Kent family before Lois and Clark have to head off to work at the Daily Planet. It apparently has been bought out by some internet media conglomerate and is laying off most of the staff. Clark is among those that get the axe. Right afterwards, he gets called away to stop a nuclear reactor from melting down. During that process, we learn that Lois’s dad, General Sam Lane knows Clark’s identity. Significant since Lane has been an anti-alien xenophobic borderline nut in the comics at times. Right now, he’s working with Superman though.

After the reactor is saved, Clark learns his mother has just died of a stroke. Everybody heads back to Smallville (which is NOT the same town or Kent farm that was used in the Smallville show but both are VERY VERY close in appearance).

For the sake of leaving some surprises, I’ll simply leave it that the episode wraps up with Lois and Clark deciding it’s better for the family if they live on the farm in Smallville.

As a side note, there are a few stories dropped about Clark’s past in Smallville that could easily be taken as events from the Smallville series.

My Opinion:

Before the show was even released, I had heard that it was going to focus on the human side of Superman and the family dynamics of the Kents; how Clark has trouble protecting the world and being there for his kids. I went into the premiere with an admitted negative bias.

Happily, I was proven wrong in my expectations. Instead of being yet another excuse for the Far Left to trash a cultural icon, the show was pretty even handed and realistic in it’s presentation of Clark’s struggles with balancing duty and family. It’s a good show that balances the human side of Clark and the struggles of his sense of obligation and right.

IF they keep the same storytelling approach, I think we have another Smallville in the making.

This one is definitely worth watching, and probably the best Arrowverse show thus far. Less emo than Arrow or Flash, even with Jordan having social anxiety disorder.

Quick side notes: John Diggle from Arrow is joining the show, and there will be a Superman & Batwoman crossover later this year that MAY explain what actually happened to the Arrowverse’s MIA Batman.

This Party’s Over, Count.

Like heck it is. It’s after midnight, so I can show off my birthday present:

Seems appropriate, since I feel about as old as Dooku anymore, lol. Still, this party is just getting started, despite Mace’s protests. 😀

I got this thing over a month ago also, but had to be good and keep it boxed up until today. Unless you are one, you have NO idea what it’s like asking a redhead to be good that long, lol. It was ordered before it sold out or the price went up though. My Mace Windu one has already gone up $50 in value since I got it. Oh, and YES, I took it out of the box:

Running gag now I know, LOL. As I said last time, a true fan HAS to take it out of the box.

As with the Mace Windu saber behind it, the detailing and construction are fairly nice. With the shape of the hilt requiring the speaker and battery pack to be in the butt end though, the balance is not as nice as the other saber. It’s tail heavy… alot.

The blade isn’t as vibrant a red as I’d like either, BUT it’s better than the Windu’s lavender, trying to be purple blade, lol:

I’m going to have to find a different place to display it. The stand does have tabs in the back to wall mount it, so that’s a possibility.

The iPhone 11’s camera night optics made for a funky darkened room picture also:

NOW, that despite the blade looking perfectly red to the naked eye, LOL. In “Star Wars: The Old Republic” that would be a ‘hot orange or fire orange’ kyber crystal. My Sith Assassin uses one in her double bladed lightsaber:

One of my favorite blade colors also, BUT definitely not authentic Dooku.

Overall, it’s an awesome new toy / display piece. I just wish the balance was better. Dooku’s hilt is designed after a modern competition fencing foil (which has actually evolved even further into a ‘pistol grip’):

While that may look awkward, it actually provides less wrist strain and quicker reaction times than a traditional straight handle. Between that and Christopher Lee’s lightsaber style as Dooku being very crisp and smooth, I had high hopes for this lightsaber. It’s still very nice, it just didn’t quite meet my very high expectations. It’ll still be a wonderful addition to the collection however. 😀

OH yes… For those of you who wondered why Anakin REALLY killed Dooku:

As for the rest of the day… Garth said it best:

Pronex Traction Unit Review / How I’ve Learned to Use One

At the request of a follower, I’m doing a more in-depth post about the cervical (neck) traction unit made by Pronex:

THE THEORY BEHIND IT:

If you’re having trouble visualizing how the unit works, this picture will help:

The dense foam rubber cradle is contoured to fit your neck in the proper (healthy posture) position. You inflate the rubber air bag in the center using the ball pump, and the device expands. It pushes against your shoulders and the base of your skull to decompress the vertebrae. This lets the spinal discs return to a normal shape and frees pinched nerves, etc… Kind of how the picture in picture is showing with the arrows.

The expensive spinal decompression treatment I’m currently undergoing with a “professional” is actually very similar in operational theory.

BUT DOES IT WORK???

Yes, it does… HOWEVER, it’s absolutely critical that it’s used properly. Failure to do so can cause some pretty severe neck pain. I learned this the hard and painful way when I first got my unit.

The bad part is, I was actually following the manufacturer’s instructions.

WHERE YOU CAN GO WRONG:

This is one of those areas where I should put out a disclaimer that I’m not a medical professional. I’m a moderately well read layperson who has learn from trial and error as well.

If a neck injury is old, and/or re-aggravated via whatever means (sports, car accidents, etc…) there’s likely to be scar tissue formed below the skin, on the connective tissue and supporting muscles. Scar tissue is NOT very elastic and it tends to enflame any nerves it comes into contact with. You stretch it too much, too soon, it hurts.

There’s also the chance that a person’s neck or back may have other issues going on (deformities, bone chips, etc…) that would make traction a poor treatment option. That is something to discuss with a medical professional.

WHAT’S WORKED FOR ME:

In my own case, I had several herniated discs, one previously ruptured and torn disc, bone spurs, pinched nerves and a good deal of deep scar tissue. The standard “pump it up for ten to fifteen minutes, and just let it do it’s thing” caused me an insane amount of pain. My educated guess as to what happened is that the scar tissue was tearing. That based on the type of pain, and having experienced it previously when the scar tissue on my knee cap tore and broke up. It’s a fairly distinct type of pain.

What worked for me, tested out over the last few days, has been using the Pronex to duplicate the traction patterns of the DT Hill machine that I’m being treated with at the chiropractor’s.

First, get comfortable on a firm surface. DO NOT use a bed or couch. Too soft and the device won’t move and will inflate only at the top. Use a floor, a yoga mat, etc…

Once you’re settled in, pump the Pronex up until you feel a light to moderate pull in your neck. Ignore the feeling of it pushing against your shoulders and skull, and focus on the feeling in your neck. That’s how to gauge how much inflation. When you get that feel of a light to moderate pull in your neck, stop and count to 20.

When you hit 20, deflate the traction unit, let your neck rest and count to 20 again. At the end of 20 seconds, pump it back up again until you get that same light to moderate pull feeling in your neck. Count 20 again, then deflate.

It’s a pretty simple pattern. It gives your neck muscles a chance to rest and adjust between stretches though. That significantly lessens the chances of a muscle pull or a drastic tear in any scar tissue that MAY be there.

Keep up the pattern for 15 minutes, then go put a cold pack on your neck. It may not hurt immediately after you do treatment, but it could shortly after. The cold pack will counter any swelling and inflammation. The best option is to have one in the refrigerator and put it directly on the skin. You get more cold to the muscles than if you used a frozen one wrapped up in towels.

My neck has been such a mess that I live with a cold pack on my neck the day I get treatments. The next day I feel great though.

If you didn’t guess, this is NOT a quick fix. There’s no such thing anyway. This is something you’ll have to do once or twice a day, every other day for an extended period of time. The longer your neck has been bad, the longer it’ll take to fix it. Even when you think you’re feeling better, keep it up. The reason physical therapy most often fails is that people quit too early. I’d say keep at it for a month to fully heal your neck. It may take even longer if your neck is in really bad shape.

Keep at it though. What’s the alternative? Continuing with pain? Destroying your liver and stomach with OTC pain killers? Opioid addiction? Surgery that costs more than a house and will only result in other problems later? A month will pass before you know it anyway.

The obvious, common sense exception here is that if you feel any increase in pain, (esp sharp pain) even if it’s at the first pump of a traction unit, STOP!

Traction, if done right and there aren’t hidden complications, should feel comfortable. Your neck MAY be sore afterwards, but that’s what the ice is for; reducing the inflammation in the stretched muscles.

Breaking up any scar tissue or adhesions will take time, but little by little, they will break up and you’ll regain movement and reduce pain.

Using this method, I’ve even been able to undo the pain caused by testing the piece of crap home traction unit my chiropractor gave me. Again, the big key is to take it slow and keep the neck stretch moderate. Overdo it and you’ll have pain on a level you won’t believe was possible.

HOW TO BUY:

The Pronex is a pricey piece of foam rubber at $300. IF you buy one, I’d recommend Amazon since they will let you return it for 30 days whereas the manufacturer will not take a return for ANY reason. If you’ve got a neck over 18 inches, make sure you get the large model also.

I’d further recommend Amazon because, per the bad reviews there, occasionally some do get out the factory door with dry rotted air bladders. This way you still have a return option in the event of a factory defect.

OTHER OPTIONS:

With a price tag like that, I’m sure some of you are asking if anything else similar would work. Here’s some other options and what my research and talking to a few different chiropractors has led me to believe.

Overhead Neck Traction Units:

Remind you of a game of Hangman? O_O

There’s quite a few variations on these. Some you pull a cord, some use water for resistance / counter weight, etc… My Sacramento chiropractor was adamantly against the use of these contraptions. Most aren’t designed to maintain good head posture while using them, and he said he’s seen too many injuries from pulling too hard, using too much water, etc… They just look like a booby trap for the “Here’s yer sign” crowd, don’t they?

Inflatable Neck Pillows Traction Units:

First, if you notice, her head is photoshopped on. Either that or she’s part giraffe, LOL.

These look like a good idea on the surface. They MIGHT work OK for minor neck issues and headaches too. The main reason my chiropractors don’t like them is that again there’s not enough in the design to assure proper neck posture / alignment before stretching.

Neck Hammocks and Foam Pillows:

These are both supposed to work fairly well, and only use gravity and your own body weight to help restore correct posture. Restoring the correct shape to your neck will naturally spread the vertebrae out a little and give some decompression.

My best educated guess is that these would work fine for milder neck issues or ongoing therapy after more major treatment like spinal decompression or a Pronex. Stage 2 spinal degeneration is more iffy and I wouldn’t hold my breath if you’re dealing with stage 3 degeneration.

Similar Traction Units:

Would probably work just as well as the Pronex. This one, by Comfortrac and sold on Amazon, is $80 more than the Pronex, but looks more solidly built. Coincidentally, the neck rest is adjustable, looks similar to the one on the chiropractor’s machine, and cradles the neck with proper support. The upward tilt via the ramp is also duplicated by the professional therapy machine.

All I can say is study the design to see if a machine looks well made and comfortable, and compare prices.

Inversion Tables:

I’m actually a believer in these, and currently own one by Innova:

You strap your ankles in, recline partly back anywhere from just beyond horizontal to completely upside down. From there, gravity stretches out your spine.

Me, I go completely inverted because my back doesn’t get a good stretch otherwise.

LOL, I couldn’t resist.

Here’s the thing though… In my experience, inversion tables are far more beneficial for lower back problems than they are neck issues. You’ve got the entire weight of your upper body pulling on your lower back after all (not that you want to overdo it). This is a Your Mileage May Vary kind of thing, since I had alot of scar tissue holding my neck tight.

Inversion tables have a few caveats also. If you have high blood pressure or glaucoma, you shouldn’t use them. The extra blood going to your head will get REALLY uncomfortable if you do have them. Likewise, if you are prone to acid reflux and have a weak stomach valve, being inverted can be problematic.

On and added personal experience note. Many tables are now coming with lumbar supports or massage units like the one strapped to the machine above. They’re useless. They’ll actually hold your back in place and work against the table. If you get an inversion table, get a no frills model that looks comfortable. That massage thing is off of ours and now is used for separate therapy.

Other Lumbar Traction Options:

I’m really not familiar with, so I’ll have to pass on offering any input. My inversion table has worked fine for helping my lower back pain so that’s all I’ve used.

DISHONORABLE MENTION: Posture Pump 1100-SX

I decided to be fair and not just run on the assumption that it did put the adjustment pressure in too limited an area. Sure as hell, I was right. After a very conservative use, my neck was killing me. I had to use the Pronex to help alleviate the pain. I want to pummel the chiropractor with this turd.

The concept isn’t bad, and is similar to the shaped foam pillows above, but if you want to get one, for the love of humanity, GET THE 1400-D MODEL!

As you can see, this one offers much better, more even support. You’re far more likely to get an even stretch with this version.

When using anything inflatable like the Posture Pump, my advice would be to follow the same pattern and level of stretch that I recommended with the Pronex. That helps your neck get a good stretch with less risk of pulls or tears.

CONCLUSION:

And that’s about all there is to tell. You now know almost everything I do about home treatment of neck and back issues after years of studying, questioning chiropractors, and just plain old trial and error.

Don’t forget other additional options like yoga, stretching, maintaining good posture and nutrition, drinking enough water, etc… They really do make a difference, particularly in avoiding future flair ups.

Remember, treatment will be an ongoing thing too. There are NO shortcuts to good health.

Spinal Decompression: Day 14

5 minute read

Time for a treatment update. Monday / Yesterday was treatment number 7. I’m now 25% through my battery of 24 treatments.

Yes, it still amuses me, LOL

Overall, I’m progressing nicely. My neck is feeling better, I have more energy, my mood has improved, and my body is actually wanting healthier food too.

On a related note, the machine that I linked the YouTube video to in my earlier post:

IS indeed the exact model of table I’m being treated with.

My only real complaint at this point is the doctor and his business practices.

My Annoying Chiropractor:

My first annoyance is that he’s still all but completely absent from my treatments. It’s his office assistants setting up and running the machine. Only one quick “how are you doing today?” from the ‘doctor’ in the last few treatments.

Second was that I was supposed to get some physical therapy exercises to do at home to help my progress. That was put off multiple times until I called the staff out regarding it, in front of multiple other clients. What do they give me? Four basic exercises pushing my head against my hand in order to build neck strength. 🙄😒

IF he had listened to me or even examined me closely, a weak neck is NOT an issue with me. My pinched nerves had my neck and traps clinched up tight as a rock literally for years. The first chiropractor I went to in Sacramento had a massage therapist on staff, and the therapist couldn’t even work my shoulders at all they were so tight. I’m not a mutant weight lifter, nor do I look like one, but trust me, I have a damned strong neck for a 51 year old.

Luckily, I still know some flexibility stretches from my martial arts training and my last chiropractor.

Third, I was supposed to be getting some sort of home traction unit, again to supplement my treatment while at home. I got a big song and dance about how it was soooo much better than the Pronex unit I told them hurt me before:

Well, I got billed $169 dollars for THIS:

Ok, so the theory is sound with the thing. Push your neck out (up) back into a proper S curve, correcting posture issues and spreading the vertebrae, allowing the discs to return to normal.

TWO problems though. The first anyone with a basic understanding of anatomy will spot: It’s putting the pressure on too narrow an area of the cervical spine. The pressure needs to be more evenly distributed to get the result they’re claiming. The manufacturer knows this too, because they came out with a newer model with two inflatable areas that distribute pressure along the entire neck. I got an older model that could potentially cause more harm than it fixes.

The second problem is the price. $169. I found it on Amazon for as low as $57.99, although many suppliers were over $100 (barely). I’m still not sure if I’m a much better shopper than he is, or he’s just marking junk up almost 300%

My last issue ties back to number one above: You try to ask this guy a question and despite having a love me wall to put most chiropractors to shame, he either can’t or won’t answer questions.

Most recently I caught him behind the front desk and asked about the treatment plan’s restrictions on carbonated soft drinks… Was there a reason that other sugary stuff like lemonade and sweet tea were not listed? He avoided a direct answer and gave me some line about just recommending what’s best and that an occasional soft drink wouldn’t kill me, it just wasn’t optimal for healing.

Here’s the proper answer:

ALL sugary drinks are highly acidic. Sugar itself is an acid. Drinking them causes inflammation, and keeps existing inflammation from healing. The acid level is also bad for your spine, and skeleton in general, because your body will leech calcium and magnesium from your bones to correct the PH level in your body.

Already knowing that answer, I asked him the question to see if he knew anything further about carbonation potentially causing other issues, etc… Instead I got BS’ed because he didn’t know the answer, or thought I was too dumb to appreciate it. 😡

The Actual Treatment Thus Far:

Progress continues to be good here. My pain level is higher after treatment, but after I’ve put cold packs on my neck and rested a little, my pain is now down to a consistent 2 or 3. The treatments are now up to 30 minutes long also. Yesterday, I timed the machine to see it’s pattern. It started at 15 seconds of tension and 15 seconds of relaxing the pull, and slowly worked up to about 30 seconds of tension followed by 20 to 25 seconds of release.

Overall, I’m pretty optimistic about this working. Any remaining doubts and fears center around it working long term. Time, what I’ve learned the last week, and my extra work will combine to tell the tale there.

So What Have I Learned About My Neck and Treatment?

Primarily that my neck does still have quite a bit of internal scar tissue. 27 years of popping and grinding, and tension induced compression will do that. How do I know? The type of pain and the sensation when I feel the area.

Years ago, I used to have scar tissue on my knee. If you’ve ever had a similar patch (vs a thin line of it), you know the feeling. It’s like poking a gel ice pack in terms of resistance, and there’s a burning, pulsating pain when you bump it too hard (or it starts to tear).

The left side of my neck in particular has that feel from my ear all the way down to my shoulder. So if I want to get my life back, I have to break that scar tissue down.

I’ve also learned that Magnesium is a good deal more important a nutrient for muscle and nerve health than I previously gave it credit for. It’s part of my supplement routine from the chiropractor. Once a day, and it really helps with muscle tension.

The Battle Plan:

The scar tissue realization and the timing of the machine were important insights. They helped me realize that the reason the Pronex was causing pain is that I was using it the wrong way; too long with tension, not frequent nor long enough enough relaxation between tensions. I was tearing up the scar tissue too quickly, and maybe pulling some actual muscles with scar tissue adhesions also. I need a slower, less rigorous use of the device to get proper results.

That’s my theory anyway, and I’m going to be testing it out later. If I follow the machine’s pattern and still get excessive pain, then I’ll just discard the thing. If it works, I’ll keep it up.

I’ll also make use of my inversion table, particularly in an effort to work on my lower back issues. I’ve gotten hold of a few yoga programs specifically for neck and back issue treatment, and will be making use of those as well. Those along with stretching, taking the supplements I got and lots of water. I’ll probably throw in some meditation and Tai Chi as well.

All in all, I believe this is going to work, but it will take doing ALL 24 treatments, (maybe a few more), and doing all the homework and more thanks to having an apathetic chiropractor.

Spinal Decompression; Day 5

My latest update here, and yes, I’m sticking with the pictorial theme because it amuses me, lol. My most recent treatment was Friday. That was treatment #3.

That treatment went better. Maybe I should have been down just a little more on the table, or maybe my neck has just loosened up that much, but I didn’t feel the stretch as much. I was hurting most of Friday however. My neck kept popping as well, which makes me again question if a chiropractic adjustment before the decompression wouldn’t be better, so as to make sure everything is in as good a position as possible before treatment.

As a side note, I’ve kept up with my water, supplements and cold packs as well. We paid too much for this process for me NOT to take it seriously.

Yesterday, however, I woke up feeling better than I have in a LONG time. My tinnitus was diminished significantly, i had a ton of energy, and I was more pain free than I’ve been in years. Even acupuncture hadn’t had this level of effect.

Did I feel perfect? Hardly. Even the level of relief I got felt miraculous though. It was enough improvement that I could see why the doctors worry about people stopping early. That happens with all kinds of treatments; everything from antibiotics to physical therapy. The result is almost always that relief is short term as well.

As if to prove my point, today I woke up a bit more sore and stiff than I was on Saturday. I’m actually looking forward to treatment tomorrow. For once, I’m seeing real hope of reversing all of this. 🙂

The pain in my neck had diminished a great deal on Saturday. Surprisingly fast if it was caused by scar tissue breaking up. I had cold packs on non-stop Friday however. Between that and my body’s ability to block out pain, that may account for it.

Again, so far so good. It’s early yet, so I’m still hesitant to recommend this as an option for folks. Especially if they end up with a cash focused doctor like me. It’s looking very promising however.

This… hope… thing feels REALLY weird too. O_O

Link to Post Considering Treatment

Link to First Post

Master Windu, Welcome.

Today is an ultimate geek out day for me. 😀 I got my Star Wars Black Series Mace Windu Lightsaber!

For those whose geek credentials are lacking, ‘The Black Series’ is the elite level of officially licensed toys and memorabilia from Hasbro.

Ironic trivia here: Kenner (Hasbro’s chief rival) made all the Star Wars toys through the 80s and 90s.

Explanations taken care of, you all get to see the unboxing and get a review! Yes, I said unboxing

A real fan HAS to open the box!

The packaging is fairly nice, as the first two pics indicate. Here’s what you see when you open it up:

Yes, that’s a framed Yoda poster off to the side. Do or Do Not; There is No Try.

As you can see it’s well protected in the package, which is nice given that this puppy was kind of expensive. Not near as bad as an Ultrasaber like my other lightsaber, or one from SaberForge, but still expensive.

I really couldn’t resist this. I’ve been drooling over Mace’s saber since episode 2 was released. I didn’t lose my head over it the way Jango Fett did though, LOL. More importantly, I had the opportunity to get a working copy for 40% of what it would have cost via Ultrasabers.

Here’s our beauty unboxed and with the blade ignited:

Yes, that IS a damned odd stand too. I’ll be swapping it out for an aftermarket one and putting it back in the box at some point in the near future.

As you can see, the blade is bright enough to be visible in a bright room. I took it into the bathroom, closed to door and turned off the light to let it really shine though

The Review: How Does it Compare?

I know a couple of you are curious anyway. 😀 I wasn’t really sure what to expect here, but was pleasantly surprised. I knew the hilt was metal before ordering, not plastic like those $25 kid’s toys. The hilt turned out to be nicely polished and fairly thick also. Not quite as thick as the Ultrasaber, but thick enough to be pretty sturdy.

It’s certainly nicer than the Galaxy’s Edge sabers that Disney sell at their parks (and via Amazon) for far more money also:

Galaxy’s Edge collector sabers at Amazon Note the price on the Kylo Ren version too… ouch!

Here’s a few close ups of the hilt:

The Mace Windu saber is closer to the camera than the Cal Kestis one, so it looks bigger. The Windu hilt is a hair more than 11 inches (28 cm) long as compared to the Cal Kestis one being 16 inches (40.6 cm) long. You can see the chrome and electrum finishes are nicely done, and that parts of the hilt also have a rubberized inlay:

Overall, I’d say the hilt is very well done. The test will be how well the electrum trim finish stays in place, and if the rubberized faux leather starts to peel up. No signs that either will be an issue thus far.

The innards of the hilt aren’t accessible the same way an aftermarket saber’s are, but it seems to be made along similar lines, with a power switch, emitters, motion sensor / sound controller and the battery holder with integrated speaker at the bottom.

The sound is a tiny bit muffled, but that’s a common complaint on even the best aftermarket sabers. The motion sensor is a little weak also. Slow movements may not even get noticed and even light bumps might only register as a swing. Still, overall not TOO bad here.

The blade itself is where buyers seem to have issues. It’s made for light contact only, no dueling or even getting carried away whole playing. While it’s also very bright, it’s also not actually a purple blade. It’s more of a magenta as the earlier pictures show.

The BIG issue with the blades on Black Series sabers is that you can’t detach them like with something from Ultrasabers or Saberforge. So you have to display it with the polycarbonate (plastic?) tube on AND even though it comes with a covertec style belt clip, you cant attach it to your belt. Unless you want to drag the blade along the ground anyway.

The reason for this SEEMS to be that the blade has LEDs running all up the tube. The positive result of that is when you turn it on, you get the effect of the blade extending outward via powering up the LEDs one at a time. Same is true in reverse when powering it off. With the other brands, it’s just on or off, with the appropriate sound effects.

My Verdict: It’s great if you want a saber to toy around with or for cosplay if you don’t mind having to carry it in your hand everywhere. Even with the blade attached it still makes a fairly nice display piece also. The premium aftermarket ones make be better display pieces and duelers BUT they also cost $300 or so more; enough to buy this a second time and have cash left over. This also has the advantage of potentially going up in value as it’s an officially licensed product.

Any REAL Star Wars fan definitely would have taken it out of the box too, BUT I sure as heck did save the box, and the papers that came with it:

#8 in the series…

Minor Update on Scrivener!

I recently made a post in my adult oriented blog that I’m planning on returning to writing (non-erotica also). As part of that, and a general “get off my butt” mindset that I’m trying to adopt, I bought the full version of Scrivener 1.9 for Windows.

Long time followers may recall I downloaded the trial version of Scrivener months back and explored it for a little while. Moving drama took over everything the last few months though. That still isn’t over either, but that’s another post for another day…

RECAP OF INITIAL IMPRESSIONS:

First, make sure you have time to do the tutorial that comes with Scrivener. It’s fairly good, and reasonably easy to follow. If you stop in the middle, you can start over, it’s just a little tricky to find the option to repeat the tutorial. It’s supposed to take about 2 hours. While it won’t make you a complete expert, you should have a solid grasp of the program and how versatile it is.

Much like MS Word, it’s fairly easy to just jump in and use the basic functions without the tutorial. All the extra goodies that make Scrivener shine take that extra time to learn though. Again, just like Word.

The extra features for authors are where Scrivener shines. Storyboarding, a virtual corkboard for notes, the ability to keep chapters separate and later compile them, a feature for keeping files on individual characters, story locations and plot points, etc…

Is it the ultimate writer’s tool? Not quite. It does a TON of wonderful things. *IF* you have a copy of MS Office, and are truly familiar with all the extra features of Word and Office’s other components, you can use Office fine for all the same features.

What Scrivener offers though is the ability to have everything integrated into one clean program. All that also comes at a price that’s much more appealing to the average starving writer.

Currently, Scrivener is $45 dollars, and still has a free trial period. That $45 dollar price is up almost $10 from the last time I looked though. If you look around, you can find discount codes online also. “REDDIT” was one I found that currently works for 20% off.

Scrivener 3!

The reason for the boost in prices is that version 3 is already out for Mac and iOS. It will be coming soon for Windows. If you buy 1.9 for windows now, you get a free upgrade to 3.0 when it’s released. Longer term users will have to pay $25 for the upgrade if I read correctly.

Version 3 will include 64 bit architecture, a better interface, improved ability to compile and merge book segments, improved ability to output the final product in ebook form, and an expanded array of ebook formats available.

The iOS version can be used on both iPads and iPhones.

A Link To Scrivener 3’s Introduction Page

Third Party Tutorials

As a addenda to my earlier comments, there are tons of free tutorials on YouTube to help people learn Scrivener. There are quite a few paid eCourses to learn the program as well. Costs vary widely there. A quick search engine lookup will give you a wide array of options there.

Conclusion:

I’m still early in learning things here, but I am impressed. Almost everything you could need as a writer is there at your fingertips, and at a much lower price than MS Word or Office. If you’re a serious writer or dream of being one, I’d recommend buying Scrivener. If you just need help keeping your writing organized, I’d still highly recommend it.

As a final note, I’m receiving absolutely no reimbursement of any kind for my review here. I’m not well known about for any product companies to care about, LOL. The review is honest though, and completely my own. 🙂

Review: Batwoman on the CW

During the chaos the last week or so, I did manage to catch the first episode of the new Batwoman show on the CW Network. I was wary on this one as an early press release on the show described the character as a “militant lesbian”.

As it turned out, the network seems to have done a fairly good job handling her sexuality. It’s clear the character is a lesbian, but they did not beat us over the head with every real and imagined injustice that could possibly be faced by her.

The show has definite potential. I see two areas that could break the show early however.

The BIG one is that the writers clearly haven’t read any Batwoman stories or anything around the character before she became Batwoman. So, for the sake of a potential easy connection with fans, they’re making her a cardboard cut out of Batman. Even going so far as to make her Bruce Wayne’s cousin. The scenes they show of her training look way too much like Christian Bale’s Batman. Her fighting style is like a less refined brawling version of Batman also. That would be fine if she was over 6 feet tall and built like a mutant weight lifter like Batman is.

If I recall correctly, Kate Kane is tall in the comic books. Actually 5′ 11″ per her DC Wiki Page I linked to above. The actress playing the character is NOT however. Fairly average height actually. She honestly looks silly to an experienced fighter when she’s trying to box with guys over twice her size. That has little to do with gender and everything to do with body mass. Given her size, she SHOULD be relying more on speed and agility and attacking vital points. Even Oliver’s fighting style on Arrow would be more realistic for her. At least there’d be better technique and body mechanics when striking along with more agility.

I digress a bit though. Comes with a passion for the martial arts. 🙂 The bigger point is that the CW needs to establish Kate Kane / Batwoman as her own character if the show is going to succeed. Repackaging her as just Batman with boobs is going to come across as lazy and two-dimensional to dedicated DC fans and newcomers alike. She needs a unique personality and background.

The second thing I’m seeing thus far is that they’re going out of their way to make the show as dark and gritty as possible. The CW tried this on Arrow and they ended up painting Oliver into situations that required some MAJOR storytelling gymnastics to get out of, and even more suspension of disbelief from the viewers. Yes, anything in Gotham is probably going to be fairly gritty. There’s a BIG difference in gritty to establish an atmosphere for a story and just trying to make a story as dark as possible for its own sake though.

IF the show can keep from going TOO dark, and allow the character to be herself, I think this one could have a bright future. I guess it will also depend on if CW can avoid beating the social justice drums too hard also. I gave up on Supergirl after season 3 turned into a year long tirade for wide open borders and painting anyone who disagreed as fascists.

Magnun P.I. Revisited…

A while back, one of my Hawaii Pics was of the plaque that commemorated part of the Kahala resort being used as a location for the original Magnum P.I. TV show in the 80s.

In the comments section, we got to talking about the reboot of the show. I had mentioned that it just wasn’t grabbing me the way the original did. Jay Hernandez just wasn’t seeming to fill Tom Selleck’s shoes very well. The new Higgins is a woman, which doesn’t bother me. The character is a bit different than the original (other than gender) but is true to the spirit of the original character and show. Rick and T.C. are definitely true to the original characters.

Anyway… It finally hit me during last week’s show what the problem was for me. It’s that the show SHOULD be called the Higgins Show. Magnum looks like a putz every time bad guys jump him because Higgins is the former James Bond MI 6 ass kicker who turns every fight to a win. She’s also the only one of the group that has computer / hacking skills as well as M.I.6 contacts, SO all the breaks in the cases come from her. Everybody else on the “team” is pretty much a third wheel.

Don’t get me wrong… The Tom Selleck version of the show featured a new helpless, clueless damsel in distress every week, who Magnum rushed in to save. That was 80s TV though, for better or worse. Seeing a stronger female character is a nice switch.

HOWEVER… It’s been taken too far to the other extreme here. The title character is made to look like a buffoon constantly for the sake of upselling Higgins and the idea of a powerful female protagonist. In a season and a half, the last episode this Friday was the first one where Magnum even came close to shining.

Is the idea of a little balance really that hard for Hollywood SJW focused writers to figure out? I wouldn’t think so. Hawaii Five 0 is on the same network. They even do crossovers with a few supporting characters. H50 is pretty good about sharing the spotlight among a very diverse team also.

I’m all for letting Higgins shine. She’s proving to be a great character with more depth than the original. Dumbing down the ex SEAL and Marine Force Recon rest of the team is poisoning an otherwise good show however. It’s honestly making Higgins look Mary Sue.