Monday, December 17, 2018

Raccoonatics and Online Gaming, Spider-Man into the Spider-Verse Review, Second Godzilla Trailer and New Posters, Mini-Alex Christmas Wishes, and More!

Today I’m welcoming a Twitter buddy, Leo Wyld. In addition to being a Rocket Raccoon fan, he is an expert online gamer. Now, I’ve not played a lot of games online (although I am really digging the new Fallout 76), so I asked Leo to fill you in on etiquette and strategies. Take it away, Leo!

Cosmic Greetings! My name is Leo Wyld. It's not my legal name, but it's the name I use on my writing and nearly everywhere I frequent online. Here I'm representing two of my passions, writing and gaming. I'm not published as a writer but have worked as a contributor at a now-defunct Guardians of the Galaxy newsite called Guard the Galaxy. I also have designed and written my own sites, one of which is for fans of Marvel's superhero Rocket Raccoon. I dubbed the fandom Raccoonatics (combination of raccoon and lunatics) and raccoonatics.com is our site. Gaming is a hobby I've had since as long as I've had memories, starting with Atari back in the 80's. Today, though, I am writing about online gaming.

I had my first online computer in early 1999 and I've been playing some game or another online since then. Some advice and some of my favorite games:

Find friends and allies in the community. A good way to do this is to join a guild that fits your personality and playstyle. Even if you mostly play solo, having people to chat with. or group with when content requires, can make a game much more enjoyable.

Enjoy the journey. Not all players are the same and some people will enjoy simply focusing on numbers and being competitive. That said, a book is not as enjoyable by constantly focusing on page number or measuring how fast you read through it. So, enjoy your time in the virtual world as you would a good story. Read the quests. Learn some lore. Instead of a briefly-amusing pun name, think of a name and backstory for your character that fits in the game's world. That all might not be your thing, and that's ok, but you might also find a more profound appreciation for your time in the game. So give it a shot.

Learn, grow, but don't lose sight of the main goal. Everyone is new at some point. Don't be afraid to ask questions from the community. Some might be annoyed be frequently asked questions – see Mankrik's wife – but you'll likely find someone to give an answer. Don't forgot to use the Internet. Some of the toughest mechanics and quest-related quandries can be resolved by a quick web search. The more you play, you better you will become at the game. Keep in mind, there will always be players who are just better at the game and you will likely be judged at some point for your skill level (or lack thereof). Take advice when it is given kindly and work on improving where you struggle but always do so in a way you find enjoyable. Because above anything else I've said, a game is entertainment. If playing the game a certain way makes you miserable, it's just not worth it. Always put having fun first – if you can do that, you'll figure out how to navigate the other obstacles.

Now, for some online games I am currently enjoying...
World of Warcraft –PC only
Elder Scrolls Online –Is available on PC, PS4, and XB1.
Guild Wars 2 –PC only
Champions Online – PC only

I have some others I play less frequently, but I won't bother listing everything here (we'd be here a while). These listed are my most recommended. I think any of them you should at least try out. And, who knows, maybe you'll see me online. Have fun online!

Find Leo on Twitter and at the Raccoonatics website.

Spider-Man into the Spider-Verse Review

Miles Morales becomes Spider-Man and teams up with other Spider-Men from different dimensions to stop Kingpin from destroying all dimensions.
One word - wow!!
It's unlike any animated film you've seen before. It's literally a work of art put on the screen. It's also one of the best Spider-Man movies.
Combining elements of 3D, cell, anime, comic book, and graffiti art creates an amazing visual experience. It's certainly a must-see in 3D.
It focuses on Miles' story, but the other characters are also fleshed out nicely. There are many major villains in the film, but they don't distract from the story at all.
One of the funniest moments involves a scene with an elevated train - you will literally laugh yourself out of your seat. There were a lot of really funny moments, along with many touching scenes.
Even if you're tired of the superhero genre, this film is a breath of fresh air and a must see.
Very highly recommended!!

Latest Godzilla King of the Monsters Trailer and Posters

The second trailer dropped recently on YouTube. Wow! You get to see the monsters, including Ghidorah, in all their glory. They even made Mothra look bad-ass. And check out the new posters.





Monday’s Music Moves Me

Hosted by Xmas Dolly. And today it’s all about the Christmas music.

Our band has been really busy learning and playing new songs for Christmas. This is one of them – God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen by MercyMe. A rocking version that I’m sure is not what you are accustomed to! Watch on YouTube or below:



New Releases

Journey Through a Dark Forest: Lyuba and Ivan in the Age of Anxiety by Carrie Anne Brownian
This Russian historical is available in four volumes.
Find them on Amazon - Vol I, Vol II, Vol III, and Vol IV

Writing Secrets of the World's Most Prolific Authors by Sean McLachlan
What does it take to write 100 books? What about 500? Or 1,000?
Find it on Amazon

Fate Summoner by Juliana Haygert
The Fire Heart Chronicles Book 5
“Magic never lies. I’m forced to make a choice. And once I decide, I can never go back.”
Find it on Amazon





IWSG News

The next post date for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group is January 2.
We’ll be announcing the winners of the 2018 IWSG Anthology Contest, so don’t miss it!
And we need one more co-host for that day!! If you can help out, please leave a comment or send me an email.

The #IWSGPit Twitter pitch is once a year now – and the next one is Tuesday, January15.
Don’t miss it, either!

The IWSG Goodreads Group is currently reading Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert
The discussion will start January 23, 2019 and will go to the end of the month, but it will be up indefinitely, so you can hop in whenever you're able.


This will be my last post until January 2. I’ll be taking a break starting Friday. (Aquaman! Watch Twitter for my thoughts. So excited.)
Everyone have a Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and enjoy your holidays!




Monday, December 10, 2018

MST3K – The Gauntlet Review, Aquaman News, Endgame Trailer, Literary Book Gifts, New Releases, Mini-Alex, and More!

Mystery Science Theater 3000 – The Gauntlet

On Thanksgiving Day, the next season of MST3K dropped on Netflix. Turkey Day had returned!

While only six episodes, it was presented as The Gauntlet – a challenge for Jonah and the bots to sit through six movies back-to-back. (Fortunately, we managed to spread them out over three days.)

Mac and Me – 1988 film where a lost alien befriends a boy in a wheelchair. Why no, it’s not an E.T. rip-off…
The actors gave it their best, but this one suffers from a lot of nonsense (why is the alien drilling a hole in the wall?) and placing characters in mortal danger many times. Too dark for kids, too dumb for anyone over the age of eight.
However, thanks to Jonah and the bots, it has one of the best lines ever – “This film is exactly like a Pixar movie in that they both exist.”

Atlantic Rim – Exactly what it sounds like – an Asylum Films rip-off of Pacific Rim.
The robots are almost passable, but the monster is beyond horrible and the characters shallow and over-dramatic.
The folks at Asylum aren’t even trying to make a decent film. They must be stopped.

Lords of the Deep – A rip-off of The Abyss filmed in an office building.
Strange creatures surround an underwater office – I mean, research facility – while the characters do their best to be bland and boring.
Almost unwatchable if not for Jonah and the bots.

The Day Time Ended - A solar-powered desert home is visited by aliens and thrust into a time warp.
This is one of those cheap 70’s science fiction films that’s a bit of a drug-induced mind trip. Interesting idea but all over the map in story focus and effects.
You will believe a tiny alien can dance. Well, maybe not…

Killer Fish – Lee Majors, Karen Black, jewel thieves, and piranhas in this campy 70’s film.
Produced by Fawcett-Majors Productions, this was obviously a little pet project for Lee Majors. Over the top characters and a stupid title don’t help though.
According to the film, piranhas eat a hundred times their weight and never stop eating. Ever!

Ator, Fighting Eagle – Before The Blade Master/Cave Dwellers, there was Ator…
The son of Torren goes to avenge…oh, who cares? It’s a terrible Conan rip-off. Plus Ator wants to marry his sister. And there are explosions!
If spiders creep you out, don’t worry – the giant spider in this film is in no way convincing at all.

Will you survive The Gauntlet…?

Aquaman News

Early screenings of the film are coming in and people love it! Not perfect, but a lot of fun, great effects, and the second best DC film ever.
You can read some of the reviewer’s tweets at Screen Rant.




I also caught this on JoBlo:
Aquaman's Jason Momoa takes on Jimmy Fallon in trident throwing challenge.


Avengers: Endgame Trailer

The next Avengers’ movie trailer dropped last week! It doesn’t give us much, but the ending is funny. Watch it here or on YouTube.



Christmas Gifts for Writers

Literary Book Gifts is an online store devoted to showcasing unique literary designs on shirts and totes.
Authors range from Henry David Thoreau to Jane Austen.
There is truly something for every book lover in the collection.

And, as a special treat for my readers, a discount code of 20% off!
The code ALEXJCAVANAUGH20 can be entered at checkout for 20% off your order. No minimum, no expiry.
So go check out Literary Book Gifts!


New Book Releases

Beware the Jade Christmas by Roland Yeomans
Your past sins had teeth. This Christmas Eve, they bite back.
And while the Jade Christmas ghost isn’t real, the rest of the spirits in the book come from French Quarter legends!
Find it on print and eBook on Amazon

To Have & To Hold by Scarlet Knight (Melissa Maygrove)
True love is worth sacrifice.
Find it on Amazon and Barnes and Noble


Are We Nearly Famous? by Patsy Collins, Sheila Crosby, Rosemary Kind, and Lynne Pardoe
This collection of short stories is about journeys; literal, metaphorical and literary. Those both of the characters and the authors.
Pick it up for free at Amazon


Finding the Magic by Jack Lewis Baillot
Belle is sent to the countryside to escape the London bombings during WWII.
Find it on Amazon

Ninja News

Another great posting for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group!
It was interesting to see what everyone had in their writing areas.
The next posting is January 2 – the day after New Year’s Day. We’ll be announcing the winners of the IWSG Anthology Contest that day, so don’t miss it.
We also need co-hosts for next year – February, March, and April. All you have to do is visit twenty blogs within a section of the list. Leave a comment if you can co-host any of those months. It really is more fun on the host side…

Here are the prompts for IWSG Instagram this month:

Google+ is going away in January! If your icon, comment box, or follow widget is connected to Google+, go in and change it back to Blogger or Wordpress. Or no one will find you through your icon. Or comment on your site. (Sorry, all of your older comments will vanish...)

And finally, since so many commented that they had no idea Hot Tamales were a candy, here is Mini-Alex posing with some of my stash. They are chewy hot cinnamon bites of total delight!

Anyone else watch the new season of MST3K? Excited for Aquaman? (I think half of you commented last week that you were!) Looking for a gift for a writer? Some new books? Ready to try Hot Tamales? And can you co-host next year?

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Insecure Writer’s Support Group, December Movie Preview, Ralph Breaks the Internet and Overlord Movie Reviews, and Haken Concert Review

It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. I encourage everyone to visit at least a dozen new blogs and leave a comment. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs.

The awesome co-hosts today are December 5 posting of the IWSG are J.H. Moncrieff, Tonja Drecker, Patsy Collins, and Chrys Fey!


Today’s question - What are five objects we’d find in your writing space?

Let’s see…jar of candy (usually Hot Tamales), my iPad, a Starcraft Protess Pylon USB charger, some sports memorabilia, and on the wall hangs framed comic books and other movie artwork.

And yes - back from my break in November. I've over 23,000 words for my next story now.


The #IWSGPit Twitter pitch is once a year now.
And the next one is in January!
Don’t miss it.



The next WEP Challenge is December 19! 


It's much broader than a Christmas story! Give us ribbons - a race? Or candles - a tomb?
Sign up now at the WEP site.

We also have a winner for the February WEP theme challenge – Toi Thomas with the theme 28 Days.

Tyrean Martinson won the IWSG admin theme challenge for next December with the theme Footprints.

Congratulations, ladies!



Movie Reviews

Ralph Breaks the Internet

The sequel to Wreck-It Ralph, this one sends Ralph and Vanellope to the Internet to find a steering wheel for her arcade game.
The film pokes at all things Internet without linger long on any of it. As one reviewer said, it achieves what Ready Play One failed to do.
Some of the animation is stunning. The main character from the online game Slaughter Race (voiced beautifully by Gal Gadot) looks incredibly realistic.
Seeing all of the Disney princesses is funny and the pop-up crook and his sidekick are indeed both kicks. While it’s a lot of fun, the film is a bit heavy in places. It’s missing some of the first film’s innocence.
If you enjoyed the first one, you will enjoy this one.
Recommended

Overlord

On the eve of D-Day, American paratroopers drop behind enemy lines to penetrate the walls of a fortified church and destroy a radio transmitter. As the soldiers approach their target, they soon begin to realize that there's more going on in the Nazi-occupied village than a simple military operation.…
It’s two thirds war film, one third horror movie. It’s also an excellent adventure film and very tense from start to finish. The movie has an 80’s vibe to it.
The beginning scene with the ships and planes approaching, and being bombed, rivals any straight war film. The effects and production values are excellent. This is not a B film – it’s big budget all the way.
The lead, actor Jovan Adepo, is really good and very believable. Plus it also stars Wyatt Russell (yes, Kurt Russell’s son), Pilou Asbaek (from Game of Thrones), and Iain De Caestecker (Leo Fitz on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
It’s not really original, but it’s done very well. A bit gory but not over the top and it doesn’t venture into too weird of an arena.
Recommended

Concert Review – Hakan

Made a road trip to catch these guys – never thought I’d actually see this British prog band in concert!
Bent Knee was the opening band. They were…interesting. But good and very inventive. I will give them that. And their lead singer’s voice was beautiful – even if the band doesn’t make it, she will.
Leprous followed. It was a band I knew just a little about and I couldn’t put my finger on why they didn’t click with me. And then the lead singer opened his mouth and it became crystal clear. They were way too loud and horribly mixed. Their sound guys should be fired. And the band should take music lessons.
Then came Hakan! They were spectacular. I so enjoy seeing a show with musicians at the top of their game. And these guys are elite level musicians. I watched them perform in total awe and fascination – how do they do that???? I’m still not sure how they achieved what they did. Plus their lead singer is fantastic and very engaging. It was a great show and sadly over all too soon.

Passing of a Great One

I usually don’t post sad news, but we lost a great friend recently. Gary’s beloved doggie friend, Penny passed away in October.

She was his and his son Tristan’s trusted companion for eighteen years. And she often blogged for Gary when he wasn’t feeling up to it.

Penny, you will always be an Internet Superstar and we will miss you!




December Movie Preview

Here are the upcoming theatrical releases for December! As always, descriptions courtesy of the IMDB. Snark provided by me.

14-

Mortal Engines
A mysterious young woman named Hester Shaw joins forces with Anna Fang, a dangerous outlaw with a bounty on her head, and Tom Natsworthy, an outcast from London, to lead a rebellion against a giant predator city on wheels.
Director: Christian Rivers
Stars: Hugo Weaving, Stephen Lang, Hera Hilmar, Robert Sheehan
A much cooler title than The City that Ate Paris.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Spider-Man crosses parallel dimensions and teams up with the Spider-Men of those dimensions to stop a threat to all reality.
Directors: Bob Persichetti | Peter Ramsey | Rodney Rothman
Stars: Nicolas Cage, Hailee Steinfeld, Mahershala Ali, Liev Schreiber
Cool – Spider-Man comes in all shapes, sizes, colors, and genders. Collect them all! (The more Spideys the better.)



21-

Aquaman
Arthur Curry learns that he is the heir to the underwater kingdom of Atlantis, and must step forward to lead his people and be a hero to the world.
Director: James Wan
Stars: Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Dolph Lundgren, Nicole Kidman
I read Aquaman comics religiously when I was growing up. Now as a mature adult with objectivity and wisdom, I can say…Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy – I can’t wait!!!




28-

Holmes & Watson
A humorous take on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's classic mysteries featuring Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson.
Director: Etan Cohen
Stars: Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, Ralph Fiennes, Rebecca Hall
I’ve only found two Ferrell films to be funny – maybe Holmes can find some clues as to what makes a film funny.


What’s in your writing space? Participating in WEP or #IWSGPit? See either movie last month? Heard of Haken? And what movies catch your attention this month?

I’ll have two more posts this month, including a review of the new season of MST3K, which dropped on Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Insecure Writer’s Support Group, Upcoming November Movie Releases, WEP, Holiday Book Sale, and New Book Releases

It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. I encourage everyone to visit at least a dozen new blogs and leave a comment. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs.

The awesome co-hosts today are Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor JQ Rose Ann V. Friend and Elizabeth Seckman!


November 7 question - How has your creativity in life evolved since you began writing?

It’s stretched what I write about. I’ve written non-fiction, contemporary, even poetry! (My WEP entry last month.) I was already playing guitar but I was prodded to go further and now play in a Christian rock band. So my creativity continues to grow.

Are you following the IWSG on Instagram?
Here are the prompts for November:


The #IWSGPit Twitter pitch is once a year now – and the next one is in January! Don’t miss it.


And big thanks to everyone who entered the annual IWSG Anthology Contest! Winners will be announced January 2.

WEP

The IWSG partnered with Write…Edit…Publish and we are hosting a contest for the February theme!

Rules: Submit your idea for a WEP February theme by November 12 to admin AT insecurewriterssupportgroup.com. Nothing so U.S. culturally bound. Should have wide appeal.

Prize: Feature in the December newsletter for the winner. And, of course, the winning theme will be the official February WEP theme!

Deadline: November 12. Winner announced in the November newsletter on November 28.

Plus December's WEP theme is...

Holiday Book Sale

My publisher Dancing Lemur Press, is running a holiday sale. Here are the details:

Buy the print book, get the eBook or audio book (if available) for free!
Buy the print book directly from Dancing Lemur Press and get free swag and a free book!
Buy an audio book and get another audio book for free!
Buy an eBook and get another eBook for free!
See Dancing Lemur Press for a list of available titles.
To redeem and conditions:
Purchase a print, audio, or eBook from any retailer and send a copy of your receipt, less payment information and shipping, to inquiries AT dancinglemurpressllc.com
Books purchased directly from our site will automatically get swag and a free book shipped.
Free eBook cannot be over $2.99.
CassaSeries audio book excluded in the free giveaway.
Offer good until December 15, 2018. Delivery of print books not guaranteed by Christmas after December 10, 2018.

New Releases

Steps Along Our Shore by Elsie Amata
If you love someone who’s struggling with pornography addiction and/or other unwanted sexual behaviors and you’re having difficulties communicating with each other, my heart goes out to you. I want you to know that better communication and a healthier relationship is possible. So is a healthier you.
Find it on Amazon

Spirit Visions Soul Songs by Mary-Montague Sikes
Spirit Visions Soul Songs features paintings and writings to inspire meditation and focus. Mary Montague Sikes believes that readers will find meaning for themselves in both the images and the words she has created intuitively.
Find it on Amazon

Tangier Bank Heist by Sean McLachlan
Right after the war, Tangier was the craziest town in North Africa. Everything was for sale and the price was cheap. The perverts came for the flesh. The addicts came for the drugs. A whole army of hustlers and grifters came for the loose laws and free flow of cash and contraband.
Find it on Amazon

Soul Wanderer by Juliana Haygert
The Fire Heart Chronicles #4
“I’m losing my mind, and it’s because of my magic. It won’t be long before I become like her— before I become a monster.”
Find it on Amazon






November Movie Preview

Here are the upcoming theatrical releases for November! As always, descriptions courtesy of the IMDB. Snark provided by me.

9 –

Overlord
The story of two American soldiers behind enemy lines on D Day.
Director: Julius Avery
Stars: Wyatt Russell, Mathilde Ollivier, Pilou Asbæk, John Magaro
Should satisfy my need for blood, boobs, and carnage for a month or so. Looks wicked.

The Grinch
A grumpy Grinch plots to ruin Christmas for the village of Whoville.
Directors: Yarrow Cheney | Scott Mosier
Stars: Benedict Cumberbatch, Rashida Jones, Angela Lansbury, Kenan Thompson
Cell drawn Grinch, live action Grinch, and now 3D animation Grinch. All we need is a claymation Grinch and I’ll be happy.






16 –

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
The second installment of the "Fantastic Beasts" series set in J.K. Rowling's Wizarding World featuring the adventures of magizoologist Newt Scamander.
Director: David Yates
Stars: Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol
First one should’ve been called fantastic plots and how to write one…






23 –

Ralph Breaks the Internet
Six years after the events of "Wreck-It Ralph", Ralph and Vanellope, now friends, discover a wi-fi router in their arcade, leading them into a new adventure.
Directors: Phil Johnston | Rich Moore
Stars: Gal Gadot, Kristen Bell, Mandy Moore, Sarah Silverman
I heard the last fifteen minutes is a dramatic showdown between Ralph and Al Gore.



Creed II
Under the tutelage of Rocky Balboa, newly crowned light heavyweight champion Adonis Creed faces off against Viktor Drago, the son of Ivan Drago.
Director: Steven Caple Jr.
Stars: Tessa Thompson, Sylvester Stallone, Michael B. Jordan, Dolph Lundgren
Creed steps into the ring with Black Panther to discover the true King of Wakanda.




How has your creativity grown? Want to suggest a theme for WEP? Taking advantage of the holiday sale on books? And what movie catches your attention this month?

I am taking most of November off to write! Not officially NaNo, but I’d like to knock out a good chunk of my current work. My USA friends, have a great Thanksgiving. See you December 5 with the next IWSG post plus tons of movies and a concert review!

And I just realized - it's now been nine years since I began blogging.