Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Tokyo Ghoul S1 is surprisingly bad

I say it's surprising because of how well done the show is in general.

Tokyo Ghoul (東京喰種グール) is about a human (Kaneki Ken 金木 研), who through no fault of his own other than liking a pretty girl, ends up being turned into a rare ghoul/human hybrid and has to deal with his newfound cravings and abilities, as well as his place amongst the other hungry ghouls of the city and the police force tasked with exterminating ghouls. Its potential is off the charts.

It's popularity is deserved for sure: the opening and ending music and art is great, the art throughout the show and the action when it pops up is all well-executed, the characters are interesting and mostly three-dimensional, even if some of them do end up falling into stereotypes and tropes.

But that just left the lack all the more apparent.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Why Calculus? Specifically, "Why Do I Have to Take Calculus?"

If you're here, you probably are finding yourself taking a calculus class and wondering why oh why did the dreaded calculus monster show up in my curriculum? Maybe you're optimistic and curious about what if any benefits learning this particular material might hold for you and your future? More likely, you view this as an obstacle to your eventual degree and success, after all, machines can do calculus far more rapidly and more accurately than nearly any human could hope to.

And you'd be right.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Long time, no see

Hi everyone,

Life's been hectic the last few months and especially the last month, but that's no excuse.

I was getting big numbers with superhero news and my anime reviews and that occupied my imagination for a while, but I'm back on track with my mathematics books and I've made significant progress in the Cross Adventures books. (On the personal front, I've made significant progress with my house as well).

Monday, June 27, 2016

Batman v. Superman Ultimate R-rated Edition Review

I didn't watch BvS in theaters. Ultimately, I thought Man of Steel was an OK movie, but it didn't leave me craving more. It felt bloated and too much like fanfic (in a bad way), but ultimately I gave it a positive review and I was at least interested to see where it would go.

The studio shot themselves in a foot a bit by announcing there would an R-rated cut of the movie released because people like me that weren't rushing out to the theaters would just go, "OK, I'll see it when the director's cut comes out". Especially with the negative reviews focusing specifically on the choppy editing of the film.

I'll assume you've seen the film, so spoiler alert. 

Thursday, June 2, 2016

War of the Ages — Settings and Timelines

Hi everyone,

I promised I'd share information about the different sort of settings you'll be seeing in the WotA Universe stories coming up. Since the main series is currently abandoned, you'll only be seeing short stories and novellas in that setting (some featuring characters that you know and love of course!).

Let's jump right in with the WotA Main Series setting:

Publishing Update

Hi everyone,

Just wanted to give a quick update and talk a little more about my current projects. It's amazing how busy I've been the last few weeks, but I don't want anyone in a lurch wondering what's going on.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Thoughts on Hydra Cap and the Death of Spider-Man or "Why Comics are Dumb"

I don't feel like I can do any sort of justice to the Hydra Cap story. Most of what needs to be said has been said. I'll mention that I whole-heartedly support the fans that feel betrayed by this and they are right to be upset. Here's a great article that I think says what needs to be said from a perspective I hadn't even begun to consider when I was initially outraged: On Steve Rogers 1: Antisemitism and Publicity Stunts

So what will I be talking about? I want to address comic books in general and the characters in them.

I don't think it's a stretch to say that the characters are bigger than the stories they are appearing in. It's why the image above can have weight to you even entirely out of context and even though these are Earth-1610 versions of the characters you know and love, not the original Earth-616. Don't get me wrong, each character can have amazing stories, but they become something that exists independently of their stories. If you identify someone as Captain America or Superman, the entire world now has an opinion on what that means. That's not a bad thing.

It means that even out of context, characters and stories can have true emotional impact (although negatively, this is what lets companies do the click-bait crap that prompted this article).

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Why Fan Boys are Wrong to Think Spider-Man Belongs in High School

Yikes, could I get more click-baity? I'd like to say I'm not here to start an argument, but that's exactly what I'm here for. Throughout the glory of the last year (finding out Marvel would take the creative reins on Spidey, getting a kid with some natural athleticism with acting chops cast as Peter Parker, and finally seeing Spider-Man face off against other superheroes and deal with Robert Downey Jr drafting him while flirting with his aunt), the one thing I've heard over and over again is that Peter Parker is "back in high school where he belongs".

Wait. What?

I can't be the only one that did a double take, right? "Peter Parker is a kid in the new movies like he should have been all along."

"Spider-Man is irreverent and mouths off in costume and he's a kid, exactly like he is in the comics."

You're full of crap.

Monday, May 2, 2016

May Publications

Hi everyone!

This month I will be releasing two sections of the new "Zero Does Math" series on the nonfiction side of things (focusing on Precalculus for the first 6 or 7 of these). I'm pretty much done with both sections and the only delays are on licensing of a graphing utility which I am hopeful to finish up soon (if things stall on that front, I'll have to release without graphs, although I'm interested if people would rather have hand-drawn graphs in a professional book than no graphs at all).

On the fiction side of things, I'm torn between a couple of different stories I've been developing. So if you have an opinion, now is the time to make your voice heard!

Here's a rundown of the stories I'm considering for this month:

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Thoughts on Recent Spider-Man News

Hi! There's been a lot of recent Spider-Man news that I haven't really weighed in on and you may have or may not have heard about. This post I'll be talking about the following topics:
Spider-Man Movie Title
Marvel in Creative Control of Spider-Man Movie
No Venom in the MCU
Zendaya as "Michelle"
Robert Downey Jr and Chris Evan's Role in Spider-Man Movie
Vulture as the Villain in Spider-Man Movie
New footage of Spider-Man in Civil War
As far as I know, none of this constitutes a spoiler for Civil War (both Robert Downey Jr and Chris Evan are signed on for Avengers Infinity War in 2018 and 2019, so whatever happens to them in this next movie, it won't prevent them from appearing in Infinity War which takes place a year after Spider-Man's movie), but I will save the new footage of Spider-Man for the end. As much as I loved seeing it, I wish I could have seen it for the first time in theaters (a gif ruined it for me as I was browsing the web, so I went and found).

In fact, it's possible I'm a little out-of-date here. I'm trying to avoid any spoilers for the next week so I haven't been on Facebook, Twitter, Spider-Man blogs etc to do research. Anyway, let's get into it ^_^

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Spider-Man: The Animated Series (1994) Season 1 Review

Spider-Man: The Animated Series aired from 1994 to 1998 (5 seasons). It was my personal introduction to Spider-Man and where I fell in love with the character. I expected to be bemused revisiting a cartoon show made in the 90s, but I was surprised at how well done it is after all. Here are my thoughts on Season 1.

Friday, April 22, 2016

"Ultimate" Spider-Man Animated Series — The Worst Spider-Man

Warning: I don't usually feel the need to warn people about the use of strong language, but since I am reviewing a "kid's" show for once, I guess I'll warn you. I'm going to swear . . . a lot.

I never gave "Ultimate Spider-Man" a fair shot.

I don't really pay too much attention to cartoon shows that debut nowadays on American television. I'd seen one or two episodes of the MTV Spider-Man and a handful of episodes of the Spectacular Spider-Man.

I loved seeing Spider-Man in any form, but the MTV Spider-Man didn't wow me and the Spectacular Spider-Man was just too difficult to watch (didn't have DVR or even cable at the time to be honest).

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Spring 2016 Anime Round 3: Lightning Review First Impressions: Wagamama High Spec, Usakame, Hundred, Twin Star Exorcists, Bungo Stray Dogs, Anne-Happy, Super Lovers, Bakuon!!

Another day, another bunch of anime to review. I've been getting behind, so I included a few more this time around:
Wagamama High Spec, Usakame, Hundred, Twin Star Exorcists, Bungo Stray Dogs, Anne-Happy, Super Lovers, and Bakuon!!

So far, these have all been Crunchyroll anime, but I'll be expanding out to at least some new Netflix shows soon. I have two new releases coming out this month, so I've been somewhat busy (and maybe that's contributing to me being too harsh on these and giving up quickly?).

Without further ado, let's get started!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Spring 2016 Anime First Impressions Lightning Round 2: Haven't You Heard, I'm Sakamoto?, Tanaka-kun is Always Listless, Flying Witch, Kisnaiver, Haifuri

Another round of first impressions for this season of anime. If you haven't checked out my previous Spring 2016 reviews, here's the first lightning round and here's my choice for stand-out show: Lightning Round 1 and Best Show (Re:Zero).

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Re: Zero — Best show of the season!

Re:ZERO -Starting Life in Another World- Re:ゼロから始める異世界生活 (Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu — Re:Life in a Different World from Zero)

I know it may be a little early in the season and there are still a few different shows I haven't gotten a chance to check out yet, but I couldn't be more impressed with what I've seen of Re: Zero so far. I'll try to avoid spoilers for the first episode because the twist was one that filled me with soooo much glee.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Spring 2016 Anime First Impressions Lightning Round 1: Pan de Peace!, Asterisk War S2, Ace Attorney, The Lost Village, Space Patrol Luluco, Cerberus

It's time for a new season of anime! Depending on the show, it's probably already in its first or second episode or will be coming out very shortly. I've checked out several of the shows available on Crunchyroll and have my opinions below. Some others impressed me enough (or pissed me off enough) that I'll do a separate review for them.

Today we'll be talking about Pan de Peace!, Asterisk War S2, Ace Attorney, The Lost Village, Space Patrol Luluco, and Cerberus.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Test Anxiety Tips: Relaxation Kata

Even for students that don't suffer from math anxiety, test anxiety can still be a major problem. Test anxiety ranges from panic attacks to feeling comfortable with the material only to blank once you're faced with the exam. It may not manifest as actual feelings of dread and fear, but these sort of things all fall under the umbrella of "test anxiety".

Some of my students say that it shouldn't matter how they do on a timed test as long as they understand the material outside the test. This is a bit of a bait-and-switch. There's rarely a life that exists that didn't need to be able to perform under pressure at some point in time. If you struggle when the pressure's on, you won't always be able to lessen the pressure, so you need to develop strategies to overcome your own physiology and mentality.

To that end, I present the relaxation kata.

Rogue One: A Star War Story Teaser Trailer Review and Thoughts

Here you go:

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Patreon, Promotion Results, and Mailing List

Hi everyone!

I recently sent out a relatively long email summarizing all of the news and updates recently, including the free promotions I had for "Overcoming Math Anxiety" and "Change of the Zombie" over the weekend. If you want to be included in future emails, please make sure to sign up at the link below. You can customize what you're interested in and I only send out new emails when big news happens. Other than my patron-only Patreon page, the newsletter is the #1 place to hear big news about my works first. This includes things like sneak peaks and special newsletter-only promotions.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Final Fantasy XV: Brotherhood Ep 1 Review

So many announcements about FFXV this week and they're already releasing the anime I didn't even know existed until two days ago!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Zero Angel's Change of the Zombie — new cover

Hey guys!

I finally managed to get a new cover for my horror short, "Change of the Zombie" (originally titled, "The Change"). Here's the image:

Monday, March 28, 2016

You get what you put in: Or, why is the "average" teacher not a good teacher?

People tend to complain about how there aren't good math teachers.

As I see it, there a few reasons why, in general at least, this is true—yes, I am one of the people saying there aren't many good teachers. There are obvious exceptions of course, but there are so many not good teachers that every student encounters them on a semi-regular basis. And really, I'll be assuming that teachers have good intentions and have the base level of talent required to teach that can't be taught. Not all teachers have both of those, so everything I'm about to say is skewed up, and it's actually even worse than I am presenting it. 

I'll only be talking about math of course, but I think my points apply globally to all subjects.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

On the Importance of Rigor in Mathematics Illustrated with How to Teach Absolute Value Algebraically

(ick, could we get a little more SEO-y with that title?)

Maybe you're like me and always heard of "new math" as some horrible misstep America made in the 1960s; or maybe you've bought into the ads against what people are saying about the current curriculum trying to meet the Common Core Standards.

I'd like to think that Common Core addresses many of the drawbacks of "New Math", but it definitely isn't doing much better in the zeitgeist than New Math did, and a HUGE part of that is having teachers that aren't trained in the mathematics they're expected to teach.

Having teachers that aren't able to balance educational heuristic techniques, definitions, and explanations with more rigorous ones is definitely an issue that needs to be addressed within each individual curriculum based on CCSS. You can't go the way we've all heard New Math went and just throw college-level definitions at students right off the bat (maybe if they're adults that are interested in their education, but even then the heuristic explanations should be included as well).

But you also can't do what teachers have seemingly always done: either completely ignore the actual definitions of mathematical objects and rely on incorrect definitions and arcane rules or include the definitions only as something to be memorized or as an aside with no relevance.

We have rigor in mathematics for a reason, and if we didn't need it or if it wasn't useful, we wouldn't have it. That's how math works. (That's one of the reasons why I will argue that 0^0=1 any time we need it to be and that a parallelogram is also a trapezoid).

Rigor is both needed *and* useful.

I've written more about this, but don't want to mess with the math formatting, so please follow the link below for a pdf illustrating my argument through the context of absolute value of a number. Don't forget to come back and comment/+1/share when you're done. (Note: if you are came here just to get help on learning how to solve absolute value equations and absolute value inequalities, the "teaching" portion of the essay starts on page 5, but the article is primarily about rigor and teaching strategies).

I hope this explains how you were probably taught absolute value and why you were taught that way, what we can do with the definitions if they are given to us, and the importance of teaching rigorous definitions in mathematics. If you have any questions, please comment below. Thank you!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

The Problem with DC

As are most people in the world, I'm a lifelong fan of Superman and Batman. As I grew and experienced more of the DC universe, I came to love many of the characters inhabiting its space. So it hurts me to think about the DC universe usually, because it seems to be inherently flawed.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Thoughts on Daredevil Season 2 (Spoiler Review)

This post will contain my thoughts on Daredevil Season 2 and will contain spoilers. If you found your way here before watching the show and care about spoilers, check out this no spoiler review and come back once you've watched the show. Basically, think of this as both of us have already seen the show and now we're talking about it at the water cooler. What did we think was cool, what didn't work, what was incredible. I'd love to hear your thoughts, so please comment below; spoilers welcome.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Daredevil Season 2 Review (No spoilers)

What a weekend!

The 13 episode Daredevil Season 2 released Friday and if you've been on the fence about watching S2 (or even S1), then this review is for you. If you've already seen it, then skip on over to the spoiler discussion (link here).

Friday, March 18, 2016

Captain America Civil War with Spider-Man Fan Theory and Its Ramifications

Hey guys!

I recently posted my hopes for the new Captain America Civil War movie based on a single image from the trailer:

It was so rundown that it cast some doubt on my theory that this kitchen Cap is standing in is Peter Parker's, but wait, there's ANOTHER PHOTO:

Daredevil Season 2 First Impressions

Daredevil is back!

One of the best surprises of last year from Marvel after the disappointing Agents of Shield, Daredevil (along with the rest of the Defenders) have been absolute home runs. Season 2 dropped today and I just finished watching the premiere episode moments ago.

It's so good guys.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Cap's Plea to Spidey — Civil War Fan Theory Based on Trailer 2

Warning: This contains my personal hope/theory for the new Civil War movie, specifically involving Spider-Man's involvement/interaction with Captain America. The more I look at the image that inspired this hope, the less I believe it will be true, but you know, who knows. So spoiler warning if you think I'm prescient.

Here's the image in question:

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

I found my very first treatment of WotA

Hi guys!

My mom dropped off some old papers the other day and I had the time to go through them today. Hidden amongst them is one of the very first written treatments of what would become the setting for War of the Ages—written sometime around 2001-2003.

I thought it might be interesting to share—for my own personal history record if nothing else—so I made some minor edits for readability, but otherwise kept my mistakes—such as however the hell I counted the number of millenniums of human civilization and thinking that dinosaurs died out in 65 million BC instead of 65.5 million BC (note: none of this is officially canon anymore, but well, most of it actually is pretty close to the true setting. Why change a good idea, right?). Here's a snapshot of a written out timeline outline that was included with the treatment:

Monday, February 22, 2016

An aside on how I was taught to romanize Japanese

When I first started studying Japanese in an official capacity, I did it at the University of Pittsburgh. We had two "main professors" and a set of 5 or so native-Japanese speakers as graduate student instructors that switched off for our recitations (it was a 7-hours-of-class-a-week course). I don't really remember the main professors very well, but they were rather large proponents of the romanization used in "Japanese: The Spoken Language" by Eleanor Harz Jorden with Mari Noda.

A quick Google search reveals that this text has a LOT of detractors, and it's pretty frustrating to look back and think about how it's handicapped me.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Macaroni and Cheese (of the stovetop variety)

A quick rant, I promise.

First, some background. I love macaroni and cheese. When I was a child, it was one of 5 dinner foods that I deemed worthy enough to consume—along with cheese pizza, scrambled egg sandwiches (first without crust, but eventually progressing to crust included), cheeseburgers (ketchup only), and spaghetti with Parmesan. (I've since graduated to other foods of course, but these 5 still hold a special place in my heart).

Wednesday, February 17, 2016


 I love RWBY and want so much out of it. With the passing of Monty Oum, (creator and lots more for the production), that hope is pretty shaken. S3 has shown us that they can still make RWBY arcs and storylines that are worth watching, but I am worried moving forward.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Why Not Romance Anime?

So it's St. Valentine's Day . . . err, at least it was (a little late!). Maybe you're lonely and want to push the knife in a little deeper or maybe you're happily in love. Or maybe you're like me and just love well done romances no matter what is going on in your own life.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, but one of the very best things about anime is that there is so much choice. I honestly can't remember the last good Hollywood romance I saw (maybe Definitely, Maybe, but how many freaking years ago was that? 7? 8! 8 years, sheesh), but there are *GREAT* romances put out every year in anime format. It's awesome.

Here are some recommended romance anime shows and movies. Some of these I've reviewed before, others are still on the to-be-reviewed list. All of them I think are worth your time, and a few contain some of the greatest moments in fiction I've experienced the last few years.

(There are also great romance plotlines in other great genres, but I'll try to keep it to primarily romance genre shows and movies here.)

Friday, February 12, 2016

DEADPOOL!!!!! Movie Review

Deadpool is here! WHOO!

My fiancee has been pretty in love with Deadpool for years and it remains the only comic I can get her to read (Also, she's done some genderbent Deadpool cosplay HERE). (And of course her cosplay has gotten more views than the last two months of my blog) so needless to say the Deadpool movie has been a topic of conversation ever since the test footage leaked.

No need to worry about spoilers here and I can promise that some of the funniest parts of the movie remain firmly in the movie and not in the trailers (although in hindsight if Deadpool was like Captain America or the Avengers I would have been pissed I saw the trailers). I'll leave the decision up to you. Redband Trailer:

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Erased is a must watch for Winter 2016!

Holy cow! How could I have overlooked this one? For some reason the description of a mangaka traveling through time to try to save a child abduction victim he knew as a child just came off as stupid in my head.

I could not have been more wrong. I was hooked 5 minutes into the first episode.

I feverishly devoured the first 5 episodes that are presently out and am waiting the sixth with bated breath.

Guys, it's so good. Sooo good.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

There's nothing like a new Evangelion — Evangelion 3.33

Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo
ヱヴァンゲリヲン新劇場版: Q

If you're caught up with what Eva is, scroll down to the embedded video for the start of the review of Eva 3.33. Personally, I can't just jump into a review of a new Evangelion without talking about the past first.

I have a very long history with Evangelion. A VHS tape of Asuka's (惣流・アスカ・ラングレー) premiere in the original series was the very first anime I ever purchased and I was originally the same age as the characters when it came out. The characters go through a metric fuckton of crap concerning relationships and psychology, and the series became intertwined with my own identity. I would not be who I am today without Neon Genesis Evangelion (NGE).

If you're not aware, the "mecha" genre (giant fighting robots) was completely revolutionized by NGE in the late 20th century. Mecha and anime today would be vastly different without NGE. If you were to go back and watch the original series after years of watching anime, you might think that it is unoriginal until you realize that everything you are seeing was the first time it was done or effectively the first time it was done. Also noteworthy, its airing on Japanese television prompted the JAPANESE to go and revise their rules for what can be aired on daytime television for its violence.

Unfortunately, the production was rather troubled. Failure to budget properly meant that the ending of the series was drastically lower quality than the beginning to middle, with an over-reliance on text and long shots on immobile backgrounds. For all that, it was and remains one of the all-time great anime series and one that I have never gotten tired of.

A few years later, Evangelion received two films designed to be a retelling of the end of the series. Death and Rebirth was a retelling of the first 20 episodes (Death) and a "director's cut" of episodes 21-24 (Rebirth). End of Evangelion gave alternate versions of episodes 25 and 26. I've heard it said that if the series was what happened inside Shinji's (碇 シンジ) head during the Human Instrumentality Project, then the movie was what happened in the outside world. It's an incredible movie that I've only been lucky enough to watch two or three times (due to production problems with the DVDs).

My largest complaint is that they do some really stupid, jarring things involving real-world images and shots partway through that really take you out of the experience. For all that, it is still an incredible experience.

Then, the Rebuild of Evangelion came into existence through Studio Khara (株式会社カラー). According to Hideaki Anno (庵野 秀明) (director, writer, producer of most Evangelion projects, but not directing these films), this is Evangelion as it should have been with all technical and budget restraints removed. Evangelion 1.0 came out in America in 2009, 2.0 followed in 2011. Evangelion 3.0 had a THEATRICAL RUN in 2013 and it's taken THREE YEARS TO FINALLY BE RELEASED YESTERDAY (in 2016).

My fiancee has had the third film (home releases differ in title by adjusting the numbers to 1.11, 2.22, and 3.33 and include improved graphics) on pre-order for over two years and was amazed that it was being shipped and arrived in the mail yesterday. She surprised me with it at the end of the night and I stayed up into the wee hours of the morning watching the film I waited three years for.

Without further ado, let's get into it. Trailer for the dub:

Monday, January 18, 2016

The Shannara Chronicles — Have now watched more than I've read.

The Shannara Chronicles premiered on MTV the other week and I've had a lot of ambiguous feelings about the show so far. We're currently three episodes in with the fourth available online and about to air tomorrow. Shannara airs Tuesdays at 10PM EST on MTV. Review after the trailer: