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The Cutting Edge

The Cutting Edge

WEEK IN GEEK: This week, Andrew and D. Bethel let you in on the newest in modern entertainment. Andrew takes a dip into Nickelodeon’s 2005 animated show, Avatar: The Last Airbender, while Dan finds himself charmed by the 2015 RPG by CD Projekt Red, The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt.

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  • Shortcast 76 – “A Sense of Place” (30 Nov. 2020): Where D. Bethel mentions Red Dead Redemption 2 in a conversation with Andrew (who uses Fallout 76 as his example) to talk about world-building in video games and how they can be subtle with giving information to players to draw them in.
  • Playing the Menu” (20 March 2020): Where Andrew picks up The Witcher 3 after being inspired to do so by watching the Netflix show.
  • A Casualty of the Rhyme” (22 May 2020): Where Taylor Katcher shows up to talk to the hosts about the Snyder Cut being released on HBO Max.

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A Casualty of the Rhyme

A Casualty of the Rhyme

#RELEASETHETAYLORCUT: With a bunch of DC Comics-related news dropping this week, we had to light the Taylor signal to bring in our resident DC expert and Senior Optimist Reporter, Taylor Katcher, to talk about the release of the infamous “Snyder Cut” of 2017’s Justice League on the forthcoming streaming service, HBO Max. Also discussed is the shocking news that Ruby Rose would be stepping down from the lead role on Batwoman after the first season (and had already been renewed for a second).

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Bouncing Waveforms

Bouncing Waveforms

NEWS BLAST (COVID-19 EDITION): A lot of stuff is going on amid the global pandemic, and Andrew and D. Bethel are here to talk about it (if Dan actually was able to record his audio this time). They talk about the AMC theater chain shunning Universal Pictures amid Trolls World Tour‘s success, Civilization VI‘s bold new plan for a year’s worth of DLC and expansions, Marvel and DC Comics are shipping books again, The Flash has an abbreviated season (ending on somewhat of a downbeat), and New Mutants gets a theatrical release date…again.

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Feed the Fish God

Feed the Fish God

WEEK IN GEEK: This week, after giving a brief update on the announcement of IMDb TV’s revival of Leverage, Andrew talks about his experience playing Coldwild Games‘ delightful trading simulation game, Merchant of the Skies while D. Bethel finally got around to watching Netflix’s The Witcher.

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Part Racehorse; All Workhorse

Part Racehorse; All Workhorse

WHAT MAKES A REMAKE: With the incredible success of games like Resident Evil 2 and Final Fantasy VII Remake, Andrew and D. Bethel discuss the legacy of these new games (and their original versions) while also discussing all of the iterations of “re-” that you can find in media (reboots, remakes, remasters).

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Playing the Menu

Playing the Menu

WEEK IN GEEK: This week, our hosts push through the shelter at home monotony by playing video games albeit old video games. First, Andrew steps back into 2015’s The Witcher III: The Wild Hunt now that he has more context after watching the hit Netflix show, while D. Bethel is intrigued at how hard the narrative payoff will fail in the otherwise really fun Shadow of the Tomb Raider.

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Rhythms of the Algo

Rhythms of the Algo

NEW WHO: Series 12 of Doctor Who started up on New Year’s Day. With three weeks gone and now three episodes in, our Who-loving hosts sit down to talk about it (mostly just the first two episodes SPOILER WARNING for “Spyfall, Part 1” and “Spyfall, Part 2”).

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2019: Nerd Endings

2019: Nerd Endings

This year we are hosting a variety of looks back at 2019 as hosts and friends-of-the-show offer up the things that defined the year for them. Today we have a look back at the nerdy things that came to a close by Taylor Cassell & Taylor Katcher.

Having three major franchises end in the same year brings a lot of societal excitement that engages even the initially un-engaged. My girlfriend, Taylor, being one of those initially un-engaged folks feeling the nerd zeitgeist (and my non-stop jabbering about Game of Thrones, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and Star Wars) was a gateway into wanting to be a part of all three as they ended in 2019. This is not an easy task – We’re talking about catching up on 8 seasons of Game of Thrones, 23 Marvel Movies, and 10 Star Wars Films in a matter of months. Below is the result of all three and how we both felt about them. We are listed as our initials, since we’re both named Taylor, and it’s more confusing in writing than in our daily lives. Taylor Katcher will be referred to as TK, while Taylor Cassell will be TC.

Game Of Thrones

[TK] There was a lot to like in the first half of the final season of Game Of Thrones (Arya being “The Prince That Was Promised” being a highlight), but man did they fumble the ball in the very end. A definite bummer for all those who had been watching for ~eight years, but it doesn’t take away from the journey. It just left a bad taste in my mouth. 

To be honest, we used the “The Long Night” episode from this last season––the part where it pans past each character so that you, the viewer, were reminded that no one is safe––to pause and explain what happened to that character since season 1 and then watched the remaining episodes together. But it was perfect for Taylor since she hadn’t seen an episode since Season 1, so Winterfell was a known locale and most characters were back together again for the first time since Season 1.

[TC] I have a knack for avoiding spoiler culture by avoiding…culture. When I started dating Taylor, I noticed my ability to get spoiled increase. Now, my brain registers words like “tesseract,” “vibranium,” and “OLED.”

I fell off the GoT train after one season. After season 1, episode 10, the next episode I watched was season 8’s, “The Long Night” and, for me, it was like no time had passed since we were in Winterfell. 

Taylor got to catch me up on about 70 episodes worth of TV in a 45 minute span. (I didn’t have to ask––I could tell it was the best date he’s ever been on.)

Here is a live look at TK in that moment. Source: HBO

A brief recap of my thoughts, questions, and exclamations: 

  • Bran’s alive?
  • The dragons are all grown up.
  • What’s the red wedding? (There was a purple wedding?)
  • Do you agree with Sansa Stark’s rape or was it gratuitous?
  • Holyfuck, WINTER HASN’T COME?!

I was a part of the GoT zeitgeist for about three weeks, speculating if a woman would take the throne and unpacking fan theories with my coworkers. It was a blast and I could have taken eight more years of this feeling.

Final thoughts: I feel bad for all the people who named their kid “Daenerys” and got a six-episode final season with an accidental Starbucks commercial. 

The infamous Starbucks scene. Source: HBO

The Marvel Cinematic Universe

[TK] Seeing Avengers: Endgame in theaters opening night was one of the best theater experiences I have ever had. We gasped, cried, and exclaimed together in harmony. Leave it to the biggest media franchise of all time to gift its fanbase with the biggest fan payoff of all time. I know this isn’t “the end” of the MCU but it was the end of the first 10 year Phase that began with Iron Man in 2008, which is a significant chunk of lifetime for most viewers.

Without enough time before the theatrical release of Endgame, Taylor and I started her journey with the intention of watching Endgame upon home release. From May through October, we watched every single MCU movie (except The Incredible Hulk) so that Endgame would be as impactful as possible. And it was––Taylor gasped, cried, felt the impact of The Snap, and the death of Tony Stark. Watching all of these movies again really showed how inviting they were and was a great time for both of us (and the occasional friend popping in to see Chris Evans bicep curl a helicopter). I would recommend both a rewatch for seasoned fans and the full series for newcomers as Disney/Marvel really knows how to make fun films.

[TC] I knew Iron Man was cool because I knew Robert Downey Jr. was cool. The marketing agency I worked for had even snagged RDJ for a Microsoft OneNote campaign called The Collective Project, awarding us our first-ever Cannes Gold Lion as an agency. I bragged to Taylor about this on our first date, probably failing to mention that I had no idea who or what Iron Man was.

Man oh man, did Iron Man live up to his Robert Downey Jr. affiliation. Iron Man ended up being my favorite, with a three-way second place tie of: Bruce Banner (boring but Mark Ruffalo), Captain America, and T’Challa.

My favorite part of our journey through the MCU was how much it united my best friend and roommate, Lauren, and Taylor. In addition to bonding over encroaching on her roommate/best friend territory, soon we could all bond over a missed dance with Peggy Carter, Bruce Banner’s secret, and ON YOUR LEFT jokes (just kidding, only Taylor makes those jokes).

At a Wonder Woman 5K Run recently, the MC said “I love you 3,000” to the lone man dressed as Iron Man and I smiled dopily; I was officially a part of the fandom.

from Marvel’s The Avengers. Source: Marvel/Disney

Star Wars

[TK] Let’s be clear – I love Star Wars. I think that rewatching all ten movies before The Rise Of Skywalker only solidified how much I truly love Star Wars. However,  it also made me come to terms with how much I kinda dislike most of the numbered films. I found that I was annoyed that I had to watch any of them in full to get Taylor caught up––especially the Original Trilogy. If anything, only Taylor wanted (needed?) to watch them, and me getting upset every time she fell asleep during a space battle only solidified my dislike of the films because I wasn’t as happy to lead her through them the way I was with the MCU, and it showed in an ugly way. It turns out I like the idea and lore of Star Wars, as The Clone Wars, Rebels, and The Madalorian are the best of Star Wars IMO. Although, I LOVE rewatching my favorite scenes and quoting them from the films, I never need to watch them in full because, in reality, the world George Lucas created is better than the world he wrote most of the time.

The Rise of Skywalker (TROS) was THE MOST Star Wars, but only because it was done as safely as possible. Say what you will about The Last Jedi (a personal favorite film), but at least it tried to say something and make a stand about elements of Star Wars––mainly who can use The Force. TROS walked a lot of that back but seemingly to only not upset anyone. But again, this isn’t about me or you, it’s about Taylor enjoying the shit Reddit argues about for the thousandth time…for the first time.

[TC] In my world, I was the first to ship Reylo. I was the only one aware of how sexy Princess Leia is in a gold bikini. Jar Jar was un-ironically my favorite character and my dad liked Yoda, not yours.

First we tried watching them in release date order. I fell asleep for long stretches throughout. So did Taylor. At one point, we took a break from the viewings for a few months. Every so often, Taylor hinted: “We don’t have to watch them, babe.”

Some things play better in memory than in real time. From Star Wars Episode VI: The Return of the Jedi. Source: Lucasfilm.

Then, as we got dangerously close to the Episode IX release, we tried again, starting with Rogue One and ending with Solo for fun. Here’s Taylor’s prescribed watch-order (in case you’re wondering):

  • Rogue One
  • Episode IV
  • Episode V
  • Episode I
  • Episode II
  • Episode III
  • Episode VI
  • Episode VII
  • Episode VIII
  • Episode IX
  • Solo

After Solo, The Last Jedi was my favorite. When Rey moonbeams her saber to Kylo, I literally gasped. I could have watched an entire film of just Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver’s sexual tension.

I don’t remember this but apparently, after we finished the MCU, I said to Taylor, “How could Star Wars be half as good?” Now, I love you 3,000, Star Wars.

From Avengers: Endgame. Source: Marvel/Disney

(I think it’s important to note that while we were binge-watching the Skywalker Saga, we were also watching The Mandalorian in parallel. And if Taylor Katcher can’t make you love Star Wars, baby Yoda sure can.)

[TK] What we are trying to say is, don’t get too intimidated to start watching and enjoying these universes. Fans of these franchises want to share these universes with you, and whether you’ve watched them for 42 years or 3 months, you’ll become a fan as well.

Starting By Starting

Starting By Starting

WEEK IN GEEK: This week, Andrew and D. Bethel start the new year with some things they have only light knowledge of and experience with. Andrew starts watching Netflix’s The Witcher and only briefly plays Haemimont Games’ Surviving Mars. D. Bethel has fun playing detective in the disgusting Lovecraftian world of Frogwares’ The Sunking City.

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  • Episode 44 – Man Band” (10 April 2015): Where Andrew shared his experiences with another, more terrestrial-focused, city simulation game, Cities: Skylines.
  • Episode 89 – High-Five Forever” (25 March 2017): Where D. Bethel talked about other Lovecraftian revisionist literature with Victor LaValle’s The Ballad of Black Tom.
  • Robot Monsters From the Future ” (27 Dec. 2019): Where D. Bethel talked about intending to play The Sinking City.

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Nothing But Feet

Nothing But Feet

WEEK IN GEEK (kind of): It turned out to be an accidental Week in Geek episode as D. Bethel talks about his disappointment with Valve Corporation’s sidelining of Campo Santo’s Firewatch followup, In the Valley of Gods. On the opposite side of breaking news, Andrew finally gets around to watching Star Trek: Discovery and kind of unabashedly loves it.

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