Remembering Harry Dean Stanton

It is almost impossible to be a fan of many cult classic movies and not know, or at least not recognize, veteran actor Harry Dean Stanton.  From his humble roots in rural Kentucky, Stanton went on to have a part in many big films popular today. Stanton was always a welcome face for many fans, and he was “that guy” that instantly added a touch of quality to anything he was in. Even film critic Roger Ebert was a fan of his work, as he defined his “Stanton Walsh Rule”:

No movie featuring either Harry Dean Stanton or M Emmet Walsh in a supporting role can be altogether bad.

From his memorable roles as the singing convict in “Cool Hand Luke” to his lead performance in “Paris, Texas”, Stanton played a variety of characters. But it was his forays into Science Fiction that I remember best, being part of the ill-fated Nostromo crew in “Alien” and Brian in John Carpenter’s “Escape From New York”, for starters.

Through it all, Stanton’s humble beginnings stayed with him and kept him grounded. As he told the Observer in an interview about his life and many roles in film and TV,

In the end, you end up accepting everything in your life – suffering, horror, love, loss, hate – all of it. It’s all a movie anyway.

Even though Harry Dean Stanton died September 15, 2017 at the age of 91, I think a part of me will still half-expect him to show in movies in the future. While that is probably not going to happen, it would certainly be welcome. And that is probably his greatest legacy.

Thank you for entertaining us, Harry Dean Stanton.

 

Going Boldly With Starship Valiant

When it comes to Star Trek, I have always considered the TV shows to be a much superior product than any of the movies to date. And it’s a great time to be a fan of TV Star Trek, because we have several completed series to enjoy (The Original Series, The Next Generation, Deep Space 9, Voyager, The Animated Series, and Enterprise) and  a new series coming to CBS All Access in 2017 (Star Trek Discovery). But the offerings don’t stop there – we also have some great fan made projects that more than stand on their own laurels.  Some of  these efforts expand upon the original characters, tapping into a rich universe of settings and history to tell their unique story. And one effort that is doing it as well as anyone is Starship Valiant.

Starship Valiant

The Starship Valiant stories take place aboard the starship USS Valiant NCC-1707, in the timeframe roughly equal with The Original Series. The vessel is helmed by Jackson K. Bishop (played by the multifaceted Michael L. King), a complex individual that is calm under pressure and quick to strive for a resolution. The second in command is the ever capable Leeza S. Kennedy, and together, along with a formidable crew of Star Fleet’s finest, they take the USS Valiant where it is needed, often into hostile territory.

Starship Valiant

But the producers of the series are quick to pull the story back down from the stars and the technology and make it into a human one. This was one thing that Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry was keen on doing, keeping it with his “Wagon Train To The Stars” original concept.  And I have not seen this done any better than with Starship Valiant’s latest story, “Starship Valiant: Crosses to Bear”.

“Crosses to Bear” explores the struggles and challenges that are faced by a doctor on a starship. In this episode a lot of the “action” takes place in the sickbay.  I won’t give anything away, but the title is a prefect fit for the episode.  David Cox, who plays Chief Medical Officer Roger Floyd, delivers a strong performance that showcases the humanity of it all. The episode is described as a story from the Starship Valiant Universe, and I find that the shorter run time (less than 30 minutes) works very well in this format.

You can find the episodes to date on the Starship Valiant YouTube channel, and the “Crosses to Bear” episode is here. Also, be sure to check out the behind the scenes features and more that the cast and crew have put together. Below is the trailer for “Starship Valiant: Crosses to Bear”.

 

Looping Infinity Squared Film Explains Popular Time Travel Mechanics

Time travel is a popular story mechanic that is used in a lot of modern (and classic) science fiction stories. In fact, one of my favorite authors, Keith Laumer,  practically made a career out of it (Dinosaur Beach, Other Side of Time). But did you ever stop and consider how many different time travel mechanics are in use in popular stories?

Infinity Squared

 

Jake Roper of Vsauce3 has certainly considered these, and has even created a video that breaks it all down for the curious armchair time traveler. The resulting short film, Infinity Squared, is an entertaining look at time travel. Well, I should probably reconsider the phrase “short film” here, since the video was created in a 10 hour looping video format. Now that should help to illustrate the point.

 


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Infinity

The earliest recorded idea of infinity comes from Anaximander, a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher who lived in Miletus. He used the word apeiron which means infinite or limitless.

source:wikipedia

The Short Adventure of Hum The Robot

What do you do if you are a lonely robot, doomed to a life of menial kitchen service, and then discover that there is more to your existence? Tom Teller and his crew from the Dodge College of Film and Media Arts attempt to answer that question with this award winning short film. The animation was a project for their advanced production class.

 

Hum Short Film

The robot Hum (ho-hum, maybe?) is happy enough in his kitchen workplace when his epiphany occurs. In many ways, the film could serve as a example that we all could possibly look beyond our existence and see more than we normally do on a daily basis. And, just as it does for the robot,  you can never tell when just such an opportunity might present itself. When you look at it this way, it’s easy to see that Hum, in his own way, deserves to be the hero of the story.

The short but somewhat gritty film lets us peak into this voyage of discovery with an ending that – well, I won’t spoil anything for you.

 

 

Star Fluxx Tips and Tricks

The Fluxx series of card games by Looney Labs are card games that challenge the players in a fast paced, ever changing game format. And while there are several titles available in the series, the team at NerdBeach have found our favorite niche – and it should not be a surprise that we like Star Fluxx.

Why Star Fluxx

 

Star Fluxx Card Game

 

I mean, what is there not to like about the game? From the Expendable Crewman to the Captain, and from the potentially evil computer to that weird small moon, there are twists and turns that keeps the game challenging and fresh. And we play a lot of Star Fluxx. In fact, we are on our second deck from just the wear and tear of playing. Just to prove that we do play a lot, the images are from the current card deck.  That faded look is from many fun games won and lost, Keeper fortunes claimed can cast, and sneaky tricks played to sweet victory.

Star Fluxx can be a very strategic game, and clever playing can often win the hand. So, I thought it might be good to share some of the tips and tricks that we have discovered during our Star Fluxx adventures. We are assuming that you know about the game and how to play it. If not, don’t let that stop you – it is quick to learn and fun to master. Then you can put some of our strategies into play while you develop your own. Now let’s look at some tips and tricks for the card game.

 

Exchange Instead of Stealing Cards

 

When it comes to stealing a prized Keeper someone has laid in front of them, it would seem that the best approach would be to use the trusty “Steal a Keeper” card. And while that works, your intended victim can respond with the It’s a Trap surprise card, which not only stops your attack, but it also lets them take one of your favorite played Keepers. This is not good.

Star Fluxx Card Game Star Fluxx Card Game

Instead, consider using the Exchange Keepers card. Since you are technically not stealing, they cannot play the trap card. So go ahead, trade that Small Moon for the Holographic Projector – they are are going to love you for it.

 

Star Fluxx Card Game

 

Use The Redshirt With The Captain

 

The token redshirt card (don’t you love the Star Trek reference?) is a sacrificial lamb for all of your other Keepers. Whenever someone steals or otherwise takes one, they must take this card instead, saving your more valuable cards. But if you have the Captain, you can steal it back on your next turn.  This turns your opponent’s master move to remove your protection into a vain effort of wasted cards. Just remember to smile as you take back your protection.

Star Fluxx Card Game Star Fluxx Card Game

But, let’s have one word of caution – they could have the It’s a Trap card in wait, so taking back the Expendable Crewman could be a costly mistake. But there is protection against that as well…

 

Remember, Surprise Cards Can Cancel Other Surprise Cards

 

There are several Surprise cards to be played, but one detail that sometimes gets overlooked is that one surprise card can cancel out another. This works great when you are stealing a Keeper and they try to counter with the It’s a Trap card. Of course, you will lose your Surprise card in the process, but if the prize is worth it this can be a very handy tool to keep in mind.

 

Star Fluxx Card Game

 

 

Send Their Characters To The Shredder

 

This is probably one of our favorite strategies, and one that always hurts when you get caught in it yourself. This is especially true if you have all the personnel cards, such as the Captain, Doctor, Engineer, Expendable Crewman, and Scientist. For the setup, play the “Hand Limit 1” rule card. This limits the total number of cards a player can hold to only 1 card. Then play the Beam Us Up card. The trap has now been sprung.

The poor player will have to now pick up all of their “brain” characters and choose which one to keep, casting the rest to the discard pile. The smugness of playing this combination cannot be underestimated.

 

Star Fluxx Card Game Star Fluxx Card Game

 

Infect The Doctor With Brain Parasites

 

The Doctor card has the unique ability to cure the Creeper known as Brain Parasites.  But unfortunately he cannot cure himself (physician – heal thyself – not!). So, when you have the Creeper Reassignment card and this particular creeper handy, don’t hesitate to help out a fellow player by giving their Doctor an incurable malady. I’m sure they will be glad to return the favor.

 

Star Fluxx Card Game Star Fluxx Card Game

 

Break Your Opponent’s Favorite Toys

 

The Holographic Projector and the Computer are two of the most powerful cards in the game, and their abilities can easily help to cinch a win. However, they are mechanical devices, and they can break down.

You can help this along if you have the Creeper Reassignment card and the Malfunction Creeper. Just keep the reassignment card in your hand and bide your time. When they play the right Keeper, pounce and break it. While it doesn’t send their powerful keeper to the discard pile, it does render it useless. But if that isn’t enough for you, read on to the next tip…

Star Fluxx Card Game Star Fluxx Card Game

 

Tag Them And Destroy Them

 

The Laser Pistol has a unique ability in that it can reach out and destroy another player’s Keeper that has a Creeper attached. This works out even sweeter if you have just tagged a powerful Keeper with a Malfunction card. Their elation of having a powerful card goes from disappointment (it’s broken) to sadness (it’s gone) in a wonderful two step process.

Star Fluxx Card Game

 

Use the Time Traveler With The Time Portal

 

The Time Portal card has a great ability – it allows you to dig through the deck or discard pile and pick the card of your choice. While your turn ends immediately after playing, you end up with your desired card gently snuggled into your hand.

 

Star Fluxx Card Game Star Fluxx Card Game

But if you have played the Time Traveler Keeper, the Time Portal card does not go into the discard pile. Instead it goes back into your hand, ready for another retrieval deployment. This can be a great strategy to use when there are multiple play card rules in effect, since you can save it for your last turn and still do other actions.

But what if your opponent has played the Time Portal card? Well, there is something you can do that turns it to your favor…

 

Trade Hands After A Time Portal Has Played

 

So, your opponent has just played the Time Portal card, and now has that Holographic Projector or Captain ready for playing on their next turn. What’s more, if they had the Time Traveler Keeper in play they may even have the Time Portal card as well, making it a valuable hand to possess. But what can you do?

 

Star Fluxx Card Game

Well, if you have come across the Trade Hands Action Card and have it handy, now would be a great time to play it. Sure, they get your collection of currently useless goals, but you score a prized Keeper that they hand picked from all of the available cards. Plus you get anything else they may have had “handy”.

 

Use The Transporter To Collect All The Brain Character Keepers

 

While the Beam Us Up card can be put to delicious use with a Hand Limit 1 card, it can also be used quite effectively to steal all of the currently in play Keepers that  have brains (including the Captain, Expendable Crewman, Doctor, and more). All you need to make this work is to have the Teleporter Keeper in play.

 

Star Fluxx Card Game

When you have the Teleporter, all Keepers go to your hand when the Beam Us Up card is played. It’s like shopping, only with your opponent’s Keepers.

 

Play A Draw Card, Then Trash It

 

So, you would like some extra cards, but don’t want to share with your opponents? Consider playing a Draw 5 Rule card, then follow up with the Trash A New Rule Action card. Obviously this will work only when play multiple card rules are in effect, but it can give you a quick boost in your current hand. Plus it always delights your opponents if they had been excited about the new Draw 5 card, only to see it snatched away before their turn hits.

 

Star Fluxx Card Game

This strategy also works great for removing cards from player’s hands instead of putting cards in yours. All you have to do is to play a Hand Limit 1 card, which must be done immediately by all players except the current player, and then trash the rule. Master players may choose to play both a Hand Limit 1 card and a Draw 5 before doing a Rules Reset, which can definitely change the balance of resources in a tight game.

 

Conclusion

 

There are many other strategy tips and tricks that we can discuss for the game Star Fluxx, and perhaps there will be a follow up to this article. But the important thing is to develop your own secret moves to beat friends and influence losing. The game is unique enough in its variations that you can often discover new strategies`.

Now, if you will excuse me, I need to go play another few hands before we have to break out the next new deck of Star Fluxx.