Friday, December 11, 2015

4000 Words

That's my daily writing record. 4000 words. That's about 16 pages or so.

I set this record yesterday writing Marathon #2: Bay City Defenders.

It's a real productivity break through for me. My daily record prior to that was just above 2000 words, or 8 pages.

I know that I probably shouldn't obsess over my writing speed, but hey, I'm a numbers guy. I like to see my productivity stack up. I don't fool myself into thinking I'll ever write that one big novel that nets me millions. I do, however, entertain illusions of writing a ton of books that make me a little bit each month.

Now I need to work on putting big days back to back to back. I'm trying for 10k words this weekend. Friday through Sunday. We'll see how it goes.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Batman v. Superman Trailer 2 WARNING

Best not to watch the new Batman v. Superman trailer if you are pumped to see it.

The new trailer ruins the 3rd act payoff.

They did this for the last 2 Terminator movies as well. Lame.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Jessica Jones on Netflix

Just another quick post.

I'm about halfway through watching the new Jessica Jones series put out by Netflix. It's great. It's sort of like the thing they did with Daredevil but I'm liking the story a lot better. Daredevil had great fight scenes, with Daredevil using a fight style that actually works in those environments. As a fight scene stickler I was overjoyed.

Jessica Jones is super powered. Low powered, but still super. So she's not all about crazy martial arts technique. She doesn't even work out. Her exercise is tilting a whiskey bottle over and over. When not drinking she's investigating crimes.

I try to follow 1 or 2 shows at a time. JJ and TWD are the ones I'm into right now.

With All of These New Star Wars Movies...

I'm wondering if we'll ever get a Grand Admiral Thrawn movie.

You know you'd love to see that.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Sitting/Standing Desk



I've heard quite a few people talking about having a standing desk, but they go for these oddly complex and expensive solutions. Or go overboard and try to make a treadmill desk.

Well here is my solution. It's a standing and sitting desk, all you need to do is pull up a chair or stand up. No annoying conversion of the desk to go from sitting to standing mode, it is for sitting or standing simultaneously.

It uses a laptop, a flat screen, a wireless keyboard and mouse. The stands are a breakfast in bed type stand for the laptop (actually specifically made for laptops, with a slot for a cooling fan which is cool) and a TV tray type stand for the monitor. You can get them both at Walmart or target for cheap.

When sitting I use the keyboard on the table, when standing I use the keyboard on the laptop.

I hope this gives you ideas on how to set up a healthy work space for yourself. Being able to easily go back and forth from sitting to standing and standing to sitting is the big feature you want. If you are anything like me you start to have pain if you are in the same position for too long.

Feel free to comment below, or ask questions.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Two Books On Writing I Really Liked

I'm hardly an expert, but these two books really made sense to me.

First is Syd Field's book Screenplay: The Foundations of Screen Writing. Its strength is in how it goes over the structure of a story, explaining the different parts. There are other books that came later, like Save the Cat, but I still like Syd's book more. It's broader.

http://www.amazon.com/Screenplay-Foundations-Screenwriting-Syd-Field/dp/0385339038

The other book I really like is Writing Into the Dark by Dean Wesley Smith. He goes into how to write a book without doing a bunch of outlining, how over planning can ruin the fun of writing. It's great.

http://www.amazon.com/Writing-into-Dark-without-Outline/dp/1561466336

Thursday, October 22, 2015

James Patterson Masterclass

Seems like every website I pull up I'm getting James Patterson advertising his masterclass to me. I am somewhat intrigued but I think I'll pass this time.

James Patterson might have a lot to say about story, maybe, but anymore he runs a brand for a multinational corporation. The James Patterson line of books. He doesn't write his own stuff, he outlines and hires a ghost writer. He produces and sells boatloads of books. Literally. Boatloads.

I'm not saying that's so much of a bad thing, but I do think his reality is way different than mine.

It's very possible, even likely, that he has something to teach a newb like myself about story. I'm not saying he can't teach me anything. What I am saying is that I'm not going to put down 90 bucks to find out.

Did anyone take the class? How much of it is about story telling and how much is about the legacy publishing industry?

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Deactivated Facebook

I just deactivated my Facebook account.

If you are trying to keep a positive outlook then social media is not a great place to hang out. So much negativity.

The web is a pretty dark place, but not here. Here we control the flow, we dictate from on high and tell anyone and everyone what to do. Master and commander of the USS Happy Pants.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

God Bless Americaa - Movie Review Extraordinaire


God Bless America isn't a new movie, it came out a few years ago. You can get it at Blockbuster... (Pause for laughter)

But anyway, it's about a guy that has it up to here (hand to neck) with the exploitation and shallow bullcrap that has become popular media. Reality TV, singing shows, the Kardashians, the Jersey Whores and all of the rest.

You can watch this movie now and have a ton of fun, or you can watch it next summer when the clown show American political process is in full swing.

Either way you are going to thank your Uncle Jo for tuning you in to this awesome flick that flew under your radar.

I recommend this flick to anyone that thinks reality TV, 24 hour news and social media tends to circle the toilet bowl of taste. Also anyone that's into a nice revenge flick. With tons of lols. :-)

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Dean Wesley Smith Is The Man

I don't talk about authors here that much. Why? I dunno. There are tons of awesome ones. I guess I tend to focus on story and end product more than I focus on the creators.

So today let's talk about Dean Wesley Smith.

To be honest I've not read a ton of his work. I've read some of his Poker Boy stuff (superhero w/poker themes) and a Brian Saber book (time travel weird space fun) and some of his short stories in Smith's Monthly. But that's not why I'm saying he's the man.

He's the man because of the things he has done and how he's done it. He's started his own publishing company, edited tons of anthologies, writes faster than almost anyone (even though he says he's not that fast) and is married to another super duper author, Kristine Katherine Rusch.

More than that he and his wife have websites where they dispense advice on how to write and publish, they do this for free. And this is the internet folks, if you present yourself as expert enough to give advice, if you put yourself out there at all you are asking to be flamed and derided.

But Dean has marched through those flames and come out the other side looking good. All class this guy, in an era where any disagreement turns into a classless shit show.

Right now, and for the last 2 years or so, he's been documenting ON A DAILY BASIS everything he's doing professionally. It's called Writing In Public. It's been going on for like 777 days. I can't even remember to brush my teeth for that many days straight let alone update a blog every day.

Also he wrote a book about writing that, along with Sid Fields' Screenplay book, has been a huge help for me.

So here are some links -
Dean's Site: http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/
KKR's Site: http://kriswrites.com/
Dean's Writing Into The Dark book: http://www.amazon.com/Writing-into-Dark-without-Outline/dp/1561466336

Friday, September 18, 2015

The Visit - OMG!!!

Grandpa
Holy crap I just watched this movie in a matinee. It's hard to talk about because I don't want to ruin it. I won't even tell you what the genre is. Don't watch any trailers, don't read any reviews, just go check it out cold.

Then come back and thank me. :-)

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Back on Facebook

What a nightmare. So much rage and idiocy. Negative negative negative. I plan on staying away, I only re-engaged because people were trying to get a hold of me and couldn't. Facebook has become an almost mandatory communications tool for some.

Sometimes people post pictures of cats. So that makes it all better. :-)

Here's a picture of my cat.

REMEMBER: Good writing requires feline supervision.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Z Nation - Yay More Zombies!

She bashes the heck out of zombies with that spiked bat, and looks good doing it.

It's fall and the horror shows are coming back. I've already mentioned Fear The Walking Dead, and The Walking Dead is coming soon, but I think my favorite zombie show is Z Nation.

It's the non-serious over the top super funny ultra violent bastard stepchild of the gore-fest horror show craze going on right now. It has tons of violence, a fun and funny cast, and this white hot red head with a spiked baseball bat.

There's a scene in the first season where zombies eat Viagra and walk around with woodies. Seriously. Also there's a guy named 10k (they call him TeeKay), his goal is to kill 10,000 zombies. I think he's on like 4000 right now.

If The Walking Dead or The Strain or I, Zombie aren't really your thing and you want something a bit lighter and a ton more fun then Z Nation is there for you. It's a must watch for people who like the funny SyFy offerings, like Sharknado. So basically everyone. Right?

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Fear The Walking Dead

So I'm sitting in my little trailer in the woods, all alone. I'm watching Fear The Walking Dead. It's freaking me out.

Back when I lived in Oregon I lived in a basement. With a huge solid door and another door easy to hide. Plus a hidden trap door. The basement was full of machetes and hammers and what not. The perfect spot to live out the zombie apocalypse.

Now I'm in a lonely trailer in the woods. No zombie defense at all. Sitting in the dark gripping my machete and freaking out.

It doesn't help when your kitty comes running through in the dark chasing god knows what.

Bad kitty!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Sense8 - Show Review



What a great series. A new Netflix Original about a bunch of people psychically linked. It's made by the same people that did The Matrix, so you know it's a mind bender.

I give it a high recommend to people interested in a nice modern fantasy type show but I have to warn you, if you can't handle seeing sex and people unlike yourself then you won't like this show. No matter who you are, no matter what your experience, there are main characters in the show you won't relate with.

Let it be clear: There's tons of gay stuff. If you aren't familiar with gay cinema you might be a bit taken aback or straight offended.

There's your American hero cop dude, a Russian thief guy, an Indian lady getting an arranged marriage, a waif-fu Korean chick, a transgender person with a shitty family, drug addicts, lesbians, gay dudes, black dudes in Africa and on and on and on. If you have trouble seeing any of those people and accepting them as normal then you will probably feel shocked and bludgeoned.

For the rest of us this is a great series. I've not seen the final episode yet, but I am marathoning the series right now.

This from a friend: "Trigger Warning: This Ain't Little House on the Prairie" Ha!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Summer 2015, Top 5 Movies

With the summer movie season over let's look at my top 5 favorite flicks of the summer. I didn't see every movie, I go to the theater about once a week, but I did see most of the action/adventure flicks.

1. Mad Max: Fury Road - This is the perfect action flick and one of the craziest things I've ever seen put on film. Seriously. It might make my top 5 all time. This one is best seen in a theater where all the nutty stunts and explosions can be seen close up. Be sure to wear your seat belt.

2. Ex Machina - Great movie, classic science fiction (where the science is more than just a setting, but rather integral to the story itself). A nice slow burn with the best pay off (climax) of the summer. I can't say a ton about it because it's one of those movies that's too easy to spoil. Watch it a couple of times to get all the nuance.

3. Straight Outta Compton - This is a biography of the rap group NWA. Not my usual fair but I had a lot of fun. Great performances, lots of music. This is another one that's best in the theater in surround sound.

4. American Ultra - There were a TON of spy movies this year. Too many maybe. Man from U.N.C.L.E, Kingsmen, Furious 7 (sort of), Mission Impossible and on and on. Of all the spy movies I liked this one the most. Written by Max Landis, one of my favorite writers right now, it had a nice feel, the script was fun and original and the fight scenes were brutal. It was not highly rated by critics though, maybe the critics were burnt out on all the cookie cutter spy moves coming out? I dunno.

5. San Andreas - Okay, so this one isn't a thinker and it doesn't do anything super original. However, if you are looking for that over the top effects driven shut your brain off summer movie I'd go for this one. More than Furious 7, Avengers: AoU or Mission Impossible this one was my favorite big spectacle movie of the summer.

One mistake I made this summer was reading the reviews before choosing which movie to watch that week. I nearly missed out on San Andreas and American Ultra because of that. They didn't get super high critic's ratings on Rotten Tomato but they were still some of the best of the summer.

Some honorable mentions this year are Kingsmen and The Duff. Kingsmen didn't make the cut because of all the other spy movies that came out, I just kinda got tired of them. Then American Ultra trumped them all with it's small focus.

I'd have included The Duff but it was a February movie. It's great, best high school movie I've seen in quite awhile. I watched it 3 times. The lead actress is pretty fearless, I hope she gets more big roles in the future.

I didn't include any horror movies on the list, though Ex Machina is pretty freaky. I think the best horror this summer was It Follows and maybe The Gift. The Gift is more of a psychological thriller, nice and freaky but not a creature feature or a slaughter fest.

Another omission is comedy. There were a couple good ones, like Trainwreck, but it seems like every comedy is funny and then in the last act everything gets all serious. It's like you are watching two different movies. Comedies don't often rate highly with me because of that.

Now there's going to be a wasteland at the theaters for a month or two before the big Oscar bait flicks hit. I'm not super keen on dramas but we'll see if I can find a few. I'll probably read more, I have a huge stack of Deadpool that needs my attention.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Kingdom of Heaven - Director's Cut

Lots of Sword Fights.

I've not been reading much because I've been writing. Sometimes when you read a lot while writing a book you'll start to take on the style of the writer you are reading. That's no good. You want to have your own voice come through in your work, not the voice of another.

I have been watching movies. First I saw the new Fantastic 4. It's not that great, the story moves along just fine but then all of a sudden the climax happens. It's pretty jarring. I hear rumors that the movie was chopped up in editing, and that's why it seems to cut to the climax so fast. Who knows what the truth is?

Another movie that was chopped up badly in editing is Kingdom of Heaven. A Ridley Scott epic released about 10 years ago. I liked it at the time but apparently others did not. They've since released a director's cut of the movie and it's awesome. With another hour tacked on to the running time it's over 3 hours. Three hours of movie brilliance.

I recommend this movie to anyone that watched the theatrical cut and any fan of historical epics. I also recommend it to anyone wanting to see how a committee approach to creating art can often yield an inferior result.

If you are writing a book or creating something there is a danger in submitting it to a writing group or a development editor, or an agent. You will get feedback, sure, but it's tough to know which feedback to ignore. When in doubt stick to your own judgment only.

Remember the lesson of Kingdom of Heaven. Too many cooks can spoil the stew.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

A Song of Ice and Fire by George RR Martin

The book is dark, and full of terrors.


I was hesitant to even talk about his book series and the HBO show, it's so big, so much to cover. And let's be honest, it's been covered about a billion times by other people.

I would like to talk about something a bit different than the plots and stabbings in GRRM's work, I'd like to talk about the writing process and GRRM's overall goal when writing this work.

First of all, the process. Did you know that George RR Martin does not outline his works ahead of time? He doesn't. He'd get bored if he did that, the writing work would get dull and the story would suffer. I really like that take on the writing process.

What I don't understand is how you keep everything straight when writing something as voluminous and complex as A Song of Ice and Fire.

Oh, never mind, there are huge wiki's online to help him. I wonder if he reads them? I bet he does.
http://iceandfire.wikia.com/wiki/A_Song_of_Ice_and_Fire_Wiki
http://awoiaf.westeros.org/

That's not to say ol' Georgie didn't have a plan.  Not only did he have a general idea of the big characters and where they were going, he also had a thematic plan. He set out to write complex characters with real motivations.

Characters aren't evil, it's just their selfishness outweighs their empathy. Or they are perceived as evil but actually have pure motivations. This is not so unique any more though, just off hand the characters of The Punisher, Judge Dredd and Dirty Harry are all stone killers but the term 'evil' doesn't fit them. It's all about motivations, greater good, how far are they willing to go, that sort of thing.

I think Martin is striving to bring that same sense of complexity to epic fantasy. He's said as much. He's succeeding.

What's more unique is that he's upending the classic story expectation that good guys get the happy ending and bad guys get the bad ending. Everyone gets what's coming to them in the end, and so all is right in the world. GRRM dumped that totally on it's head during the first book, and he continues to do so in each succeeding book.

I love that. He's stuck to it, despite some criticism once the show has come out, horrible terrible things can be in store for innocents and do gooders. Or good things happen. You never know, and that makes for an astounding tale. The show sometimes takes the story even further, diverging from the source material, but I'll not spoil those moments for you.

I recommend these books to any epic fantasy fan. They can be dense and slow at times, so you might have to speed read through certain sections, but overall the big events in the book are truly awesome. I recommend the show to everyone. It's the best show ever made, in my opinion. Do we need to use the phrase 'in my opinion' any more? This is obviously my opinion. No panel of judges got together and declared it the greatest of all time, in case there was any confusion.

I issue a warning though. If you want a nice happy show where the good guys are good and have good things happen and the bad guys get their just desserts, then you need to avoid this show and this book series. You'll know at the end of the first season of the show and by the end of the first book if it's for you. Please take note, the first book/season is just the tip of the ice berg. The story is dark, and full of terrors.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Hell Comes to Frogtown w/My Friend Melon Knee

Starring Rowdy Roddy Piper's Wiener
So I just got off the phone with an old friend and I talked about my little website where I yammer about movies and books and what not. I've been busy writing my own stuff so haven't been reading much or going to the movies, so I figured I'd do an old review of a movie I watched with my friend Melonknee.

I don't think that's how you spell her name but hey, if you are my friend you get a nickname.

The year was 2009 or 2010. Memories fade for us old dudes. Melon had just flew in from the Mid West to the rainy city of Portland. We met through a mutual friend and ended up watching this movie. It's really not the sort of movie you should watch with a girl you just met. Allow me to explain...

The world building, or set up, for the movie is that Rowdy Roddy Piper (character name irrelevant) is a rogue running around the post apocalyptic desert. He has one very valuable asset. His wiener. It's the radiation, you see, it has messed up everyone's junk, and Piper has the only working pipe around. He's left a string of babies in his wake, that's how they track him.

From there he goes on a great big mission to Frogtown to save some virgins or something. The hilarity is dialed up to 11 the whole time, that's for sure.

I recommend this movie for people that can overlook a ton of flaws in movies and just laugh at the cheese. They Live, another Piper movie, is similar in tone so if you like that one you'll like this one. I wouldn't recommend you see this one the first time you meet someone, I think Melonknee spent the whole movie dinking around in the kitchen or chatting people up. But me? I was riveted to the screen.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Anything Good?

Has anyone read anything mind blowing, maybe something just 'good'?

I'm in a bit of a dry spell. The last 2 novels I've read have not been my cup of tea.

Leave some recommends in the comments if you'd like.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Almuric - Book Review

Strong Guy. Bat Things. Phallus Tower. Yep, it's E. Howard alright.

Today we'll do a bit of a throw back review. I have been watching the summer blockbusters but haven't seen anything this week to really blow my skirt up, in the summer I'll tend to review more movies than books, but we'll try to squeeze more books in.

This is the cover of the edition of Almuric that I first owned. I have two of these editions plus a later one. Yes, I've bought this book 3 times in paper and once as an ebook. I like it that much.

The reason I like it so much is likely a bit of nostalgia. I had started reading science fantasy in 4th grade with The Hobbit. Can you think of a better starting point? My 5th grade year was more science fiction than fantasy, I read all the Robotech books my dad and I could find. He'd read them first because he was fast, and I'd get them second. We actually found the final book in the series next to the check out stand at our local gas station. Back when books were sold as impulse buys next to the bubble gum.

I swear if I ever run a gas station there will be a stand with old paperbacks near the register.

But I'm getting distracted, where was I? Oh yeah, nostalgia. I read Almuric in 6th grade as I was kicking off my life long love affair with everything written by Robert E. Howard. It's a great example of his work, it has magic and monsters and everything you want in a good sword and sorcery novel. It's also tightly written, meaning it's a short novel without any filler.

Lack of filler can be a rarity in fantasy where epic worlds are being created. Some have said a short fantasy can be disappointing. I don't know if I agree but with the Sword and Sorcery subgenre a brisk pace, shorter length and lots of action are the order of the day.

For those that might not be up on the lingo, Sword and Sorcery tends to be fantasy but with a lot of grit and testosterone. Think Conan as the quintessential Sword and Sorcery character. Low magic and grim worlds are common. It involves plenty of sex and shirtless men stabbing their swords into things. Heh...

I think my favorite part of Almuric is where the main character joins the tribe after a wrestling match. Sweet.

I recommend this book for people that like fun yarns. It's not written perfectly, there are some awkward parts, and it's kind of a rip off of John Carter, but most people don't know John Carter anyway. So give this one a go, and if you like it, give E. Howard's other characters a go. Start with Conan, Kull and Bran Mak Morn.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Genocide Man - Web Comic Review

A Genocide Man tracks and kills populations of genetically modified humans.


Here is a link to Genocide Man, an awesome web comic by Remus Shepherd.

http://www.genocideman.com/?p=40

I've never been that into web comics, none have sparked my interest up to this point. Genocide Man, however, is really good. I'm only through a couple of chapters right now but the story is great, the art is perfect for the story being told and the world building is fantastic.

It's a perfect read for scifi fans, fans of web comics and especially fans of post apocalyptic settings. It's no clearly post apocalypse, it's more of a slow downfall.

Very cool.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Zombeavers - Movie Review

Why yes, it does say, "You'll be dammed."


It's been awhile since I've seen or read something worth raving over, but last night I watched the movie Zombeavers. Holy cow what fun.

I'm not a fan so much of scary movies, movies with ghosts or people mutilating themselves to escape a gore porn labyrinth, but I am a big fan of creature features. Zombies, vampires, werewolves, especially werewolves, big foot, sabertooths ('teeth?), dragons and dinosaurs and dino-dragons (Godzilla). I love all that stuff.

Zombeavers is a solid entry into this genre. It has the splatter effects, nudity, stupid fun and humor that a good B-grade flick needs.

I recommend it to anyone who is into monster movies and assorted schlock. It has lots of boobs and sex and violence so maybe your 5 year old wouldn't handle it very well. The easily offended folks who are too cool for this sort of thing should also steer clear.

Enjoy!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Avengers: Age of Ultron - Movie Review

So Much Stuff!
So I've been on a big movie kick lately, watching all the big scifi and action blockbusters coming down the pipe, and was able to go check out Avengers: AoU in 3D. I still have trouble seeing 3D because of my stupid eyes, so I had to go again and watch it in 2D to see what was going on.

There is a TON going on. So much stuff it's hard to describe. Basically the story is about the world's first fully intelligent artificial being, Ultron, and his attack on the world. The Avengers, being the Avengers, have to stop him. Honestly though, that's not what the movie is about. This is a Joss Whedon movie, so it's about character character character.

One of the high points of this movie is that it gives us a nice look at Hawkeye's character. He doesn't have his own movie so giving him a lot of screen time here is a good choice. You also get some unlikely flirty stuff going on with some of the characters as well, that was fun to see. Probably the best sequence in the movie is the all character and no action party scene where everyone, including Falcon, Warmachine and several Shield agents are standing around chatting it up.

And The Vision! He's fantastic. Quite the addition to the movie franchise.

I'd recommend this movie to just about everyone, it has some comic violence so if you aren't into that then steer clear. It is essential viewing for anyone that liked the first Avengers and any comic book movie fan. Comic book fans will probably also like it but maybe not quite as much, Ultron is certainly not as scary as he is in the comics.

I try not to criticize anything here, my goal is to keep it all positive, but I will warn you on this one. This movie has a TON of moving parts. Too many I think, so be prepared, if you are paying close attention you might get exhausted. I advise you to switch off and just have fun. This one is a real roller coaster.

Mad Max: Fury Road - Pure Insanity

Yes. That's a dude with a flame throwing guitar. He inspires the troops.
Okay. So this is the most insane movie I have ever seen. Ever. Remember The Road Warrior? Where in the end there is this big chase with a huge semi and tons of tricked out chopper cars? Yeah? Well that sequence lasted maybe 20 mins or so, Fury Road is that for 2 freakin' hours. Seriously. My God.

When I was a kid I played with GI Joes, in the 80's. But I didn't play GI Joe v. Cobra, I mostly played Road Warrior. The dudes would get in their vehicles and ram each other and jump from car to car. Totally awesome. I would play this game for hours and hours and hours.

This movie is my childhood fantasy come true.

You'll read some stuff online about this movie being feminist or something? Well, I dunno about that. Cuz I have no idea what feminism is anymore.

Women are portrayed in a realistic manner. I think the big deal is that there are a lot of women characters, they talk to each other, and it ain't about dudes. There's no talk about boys at all really, though I did have to run to the restroom for 90 seconds in the middle of the movie. Yep. I timed it. 90 seconds on the dot. I probably missed like a million car explosions or something in that minute and a half.

I recommend this movie for any dude. And anyone that thought The Road Warrior was awesome. And anyone that wants to see ladies kick ass without knowing how to ninja fight. Seriously, what is that, every strong lady character has to ninja fight? What an interesting cliche.

In the action genre this one is probably in my top 10. Time will tell, but goddamn, right now I'm still pumped.

Top Three Movies so far this year, in no order: Ex Machina, Mad Max (oxford comma) and Chappie. Sorry Age of Ultron and Furious 7, you are fun but didn't quite make it.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Ex Machina - Movie Review

Sweet hot robot
So this is the best movie of the year so far. Better than Chappie, better than Age of Ultron and Fast and Furious 7. But it's not a huge popcorn blockbuster. It's a thinker. It's small. Just a handful of characters.

It's hard to even talk about without ruining things. It has 4 perfect actors nailing every second of the movie. The tone is great, the visuals are perfect. The pacing. GAH! The pacing makes you want to jump out of your seat over and over and over. There are so many uncomfortable scenes with the men followed up by the warm and comfortable scenes with the android. Just that dichotomy is worth the price of admission.

This review is short on details because this movie can be spoiled, badly. DO NOT WATCH THE TRAILER. It's way better if you don't, go in fresh and be ready to be blown away.

I recommend this movie for everyone. Not kids though, they won't get it. This is not a PG popcorn fest, at all. I especially recommend this movie to anyone interested in the thinking side science fiction.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Caliban's War - Book Review

Spaceships!
I'm a huge sucker for spaceships. I love science fiction and fantasy but my absolute favorite stories involve space travel. I don't know why, maybe it's growing up with Star Trek and Star Wars.

The 2nd book in the Expanse series gives us enough space ship stuff to scratch that itch. Plus bad mutants, dirty politicians and powered armor marines. There's a lot to love here.

What's better is the Syfy channel is making a TV show out of this series. I really need a good spaceship show, I can't think of any good ones on right now.

I already reviewed the first book in this series, I recommend this one for anyone that liked the first one. The next book I'm reading will be the 3rd book in this series. Abaddon's Gate. They are a perfect way for me to clear my head after a day of answering legal questions and writing about superheroes, they allow me to shut down a little and sleep better.

Highly recommended.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Furious 7 - Quick Movie Review

Very Pretty.
Just got back from this movie. Popcorn season has officially started and I'm totally pumped!

Not going to yammer on too long about this one. This is the 7th entry in this franchise, you probably already know what you are getting into. Fast cars. Lots of insanely hot actors. Action. More action. Tough guy talk. Tough girl talk. More action. Boom! Wait...I think I see a plot hole, never mind BLLAAAAAAMMMMO!!!!! OMG CRASH. Fist fight. Cars with 8 gears. More stuff blowing up.

This movie is exactly what you want in an action flick.

PS: The Rock's shoulders are as big as a human head. Seriously. Just watch the movie. Remember when he was trying to cut down and be smaller for Hollywood. I'm glad he quit that idea. That dude's shoulders are the most impressive special effect in the movie, a movie that spent millions on special effects.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Walking Dead - Season 5 - Finale

Atlanta: A one horse town. 
Whole. E. Crapola. Did you all see this? You didn't? Why not? Go watch it!

I know it seems like I just gush about things a bit too much here but it's hard not to. There are so many great shows, movies and books out there. This show is one of the best and the extra long season 5 finale is easily one of the top 3 episodes they've made. I think the first episode of this season was fan freaking tastic, and the barn scene from season 2. And any scene with either of the Dixon brothers is going to be top notch. Or any scene with Carol. Yeah...

So I could go on and on and spoil this episode for you but I won't. I'm just going to give it my high recommend. It's a must watch for anyone that's been following the series, and the series itself is essential viewing for all creature feature fans. I think the only type of person that wouldn't get a kick out of this show are people that are sensitive to gore. It's a zombi show. The gore is over the top.

I kinda feel like I don't even need to recommend this show to anyone. If you are even remotely interested in this genre and medium you are already watching.

I'll end with this: My favorite character is GI Joe. His rousing speech about "fine grains of s**t" was spectacular. Yeah yeah, I know that's not his real name but you know exactly who I'm talking about.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Leviathan Wakes - Book Review

I'll pretty much buy any book with a spaceship on the cover
For those that haven't been around my little corner of the web before, I only review and talk about things here I really like. Keeping it positive, that's our motto here. That's not hard to do when you have awesome scifi like this to read.

If you know me well you'll know that I'm a sucker for space ships. My collection of little ships numbers in the 100's. I set up epic battles in the living room with dinner plates and earth globes as terrain. Throw some dice. Pew pew. For those that have the same inclination this really is the book for them, but there's a lot more than space battles here.

This book has mystery, hard boiled detectives, inspirational freedom fighters, horror and a comic relief mechanic who kinda sounds like Paulie Shore ("Quit harshing my buzz."). It's great, with so many elements you'd think the book might get weighed down, but the authors here did awesome.

It only comes in trade paperback and the ebook costs as much as the trade. No mass market paperback or ebook discount. Does that sound like a complaint? It's not! Trade paper is my favorite medium for reading. So for me it's no problemo.

This is the first book in what is working up to be a lengthy series, the Scifi channel is making a TV show out of it as well. The Expanse is the name of the show and series.

I recommend this book for anyone looking to dig into a new space opera, for any fans of Firefly and for spaceship lovers in general.

http://www.amazon.com/Leviathan-Wakes-James-S-A-Corey/dp/0316129089

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Genre and Orson Scott Card



In one of his books on writing, How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy, Orson Scott Card talked about genre. What is fantasy and what is science fiction. People like to yammer back and forth about it. I like Orson Scott Card's take. Scifi has rivets, that's the gist of it.

Then he goes on to talk about how Science Fiction deals with the possible, though perhaps improbable.

Card goes into a scenario where the readers of different genres read the sentence, "He walked into the room mechanically."

A reader of the literary genre might be shocked and appalled to learn that person walked in with mechanical legs, and not that he was just walking in a stiff manner. The scifi reader would be disappointed if the person was not, in fact, a cyborg.

I take that as a lesson, some people aren't going to get your work. You want the target audience to get it though, so I guess that's the goal.

If you get a chance, pick up Card's books on writing. I don't know how good he is at teaching people to write but his books are good fun, informative.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Back to Writing. About Time!

I hit a funky health road block over the last couple of months but am now back to writing like a fiend. I'm putting together the sequel to my first novel. It's all written in my head I just need to get my little fingers going! It's about superheroes. The first is called Ms. Marathon: Earth's First Superhero. The sequel is Ms. Marathon #2: Bay City Defenders.

Sounds pretty cheese ball? You have no idea. One of the main characters is a talking submarine named after General Patton, nickname of 'Patty'.

When I get the series done I'll release it in all formats. I want to have it finished first and release all at once. I dunno about you but I HATE waiting forever for a series to end. This one will only be 2 books long so that's easy peasy.

After that I have a fantasy novel, about half done, that looks to be turning into a real girl power story even though I try to avoid those kinds of politics.

Yeah, so full steam ahead.

Go check out Dean Wesley Smith's website if you want to see a guy who really knows how to stick to it and keep grinding. He's on a little break now, but getting back to it after a break is pretty hard. Watch him come out swinging in the next week or so. He'll leave you feeling lazy, for sure.

http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Drafting it Longhand.

I'm having a lot of success right now drafting fiction longhand. That sounds counter intuitive, old school, too slow, annoying.

Well that might be so, but let me go over some of the benefits with you.

1. No internet distraction: This is crucial. I'm not tempted to check my facts on wikipedia, facebook, The Passive Voice, Dean Wesley Smith's site, etc...Think about how much time you waste dinking about on the webs. How often you break concentration to check email real quick. When I was in law school I was one of the few people to take all my notes by hand, computers are just too distracting. You get much more out of a lecture, you are much more engaged, less scattered, when writing by hand.

2. Creative engagement: Not everyone is like this but I'm more creative with pen and paper. I can draw and diagram things very easy and the act of writing engages the drawing parts of the brain. It's hard to describe. Just try it, it feels different. When I used to design boardgames and videogames (I still design boardgames) I would ALWAYS start with pen and paper. It's a far more visual medium so using a pen for drawing and such makes more sense there, sure, but I find myself drawing characters and maps and spaceships and what not when I'm writing. When I was typing before I'd have to stop to draw things, or fire up MS Paint and try to draw that way.

3. You can draw stuff: I've mentioned this above, but let's reiterate. You can draw things, sketch it out. That map at the front of Lord of the Rings, you can draw that for your own stories. This is a big plus for visual people but can help out everyone. If you are writing a Star Trek book wouldn't it be nice to have a sweet sketch of the bridge in there somewhere to help you draft the action. Yep.

4. Power forward...shut up editor voice!: If you've been writing for a bit you know that your internal editor is a relentless heckler. You can't shut him down completely but when handwriting you can't really go back and rejigger every other sentence. It feels more 'right' to just power through and fix it in post. When you are typing it into the computer THAT is when you can catch all of the misspellings and grammar stuff and typos, maybe fix the odd or awkward sentence here and there. Just this aspect of handwriting makes me more productive.

5. You aren't staring at a screen all freakin' day: You work on a screen, you play video games on a screen, you watch TV and movies and hell you might even read books on a screen. So many screen hours, doesn't it get annoying? Unplug man! It feels great.

Some might say that typing is so much faster, but it's not. Not for writing. Even a fast writer is only putting down about 20 words a minute. That's 1200 an hour. You can do that pretty easily handwriting. It is more physically demanding to hand write though, so there's that. And without the distraction inherent to a computer, without the redoing every other sentence, you end up going faster. Transcribing does take some time though, so there is that, but I use that time to edit myself. So the typed version is my 2nd or beta draft (my final draft before error checking).

I might get back to the computer to draft at some point, carpel tunnel will probably force me. Hopefully by then I'll have trained myself to stay off the webs and to quit going back over everything all the time. We'll see. For now I'm handwriting. You might try it and see how you do.

But what do I know, I only have one full length novel finished and I did that all on computer. My current work is going much more smoothly though, after being stuck for awhile writing to screen.

End Note: This applies to DRAFTING. As in the first draft of a long piece. For editing and fixing and what not a computer is awesome.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Cyclops: Starstruck - Comics Review

Young Cyclops and His Dad
About half of what I read are comics, I read at least one trade a week. This one is the best I've read this year. It starts off with a young Cyclops being miffed about how crappy his adult self has turned out, so he reconnects with his father, Corsair, and they go off a swash buckling together.

The strength of this story is in the father-son relationship between Corsair and Cyclops. Of course it's a space opera adventure, but the powerful parts are the quiet moments where a boy is learning from his dad, trying to impress him.

I recommend this one to any comic book fan, it has a very broad appeal. Know that it's not a huge epic cross over story, like Civil War or Infinity Gauntlet, but rather it's a smaller tale of father and son. Low key.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Whiplash - Movie Review

Pretty big arms for a band geek.
Can't gush about this movie enough. I thought I wasn't going to be into it since I have been a jazz drummer, a pretty good one too. But this movie more than pulled it off. Even if you are a jazz drummer Miles Teller did well enough 'faking' it that you were never pulled out of the narrative.

The story itself is a timeless one, old mean dog riding the young pup hard enough that he either fails or sails.

The actors in this film were nominated for all kinds of awards and they earned each and every nomination. Just a really great performance from all the players.

I give this film a high recommend for any movie fan and it's a must see for music lovers and the beer sniffing snobby types who get excited for 'important' films.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Jupiter Ascending - Movie Review

He's shirtless in this movie. A lot.
So I read some of the reviews for this movie that were pretty harsh. I can see why, it is a sort of sprawling mess of a movie, but if you haven't caught on by now I only do positive reviews. If I don't like something then I just don't write about it.

I went to see this in the theater in 3D. It was my first 3D movie since getting my eyes fixed. I couldn't see 3D movies before, I was pretty much blind in one eye. Now I have full binocular vision and man is it a big change. This movie was the perfect way to experience 3D for the first time.

I'm not completely able to see everything yet. I lost focus many times. My brain/eye connection still hasn't adjusted to using 2 eyes yet I guess, but when I could see the depth I was totally blown away. Great effects, lots of wiz bang. Just a beautiful, nice looking movie.

The only real flaw was the convoluted plot, you sorta lose your way in the movie part way through. Still, if you are looking for some fun special effects I recommend this film. Bees in 3D? Awesome.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Drop - Movie Review

Tom Hardy and James Gandolfini!
Just checked this one out last night. It's a must see for any fan of Tom Hardy. The guy is such a metamorph, able to play any character with any accent and any genre.

I like him.

The movie is a sorta modern mob thriller, but not full of action. It's more of a slow builder to a nice climax and a happy resolution. Those are some of my favorites. I hate loose ends or sad endings.

This movie is recommended to dog lovers, mob movie lovers and people that love the slow burn intensity of a low key thriller. If you are looking for a big blockbuster shoot'em up this isn't it, it's more a character sketch of Hardy's character.

Feel free to comment. This blog is back up and running.