Saturday, May 29, 2010

Movie Review – Prince of Persia

And more! See bottom of page.

Due to Shrek 4, I could not locate a movie theater within an hour of my town that was showing this film in 3D. So I cannot comment on the 3D aspect of the movie, although it was rather obvious at what points the 3D was missing.

Prince of Persia was a fun ride. Jake Gyllenhaal made a good action star, which surprised me. I also enjoyed the role of the princess, played by Gemma Arterton. She was in Clash of the Titans as well and I liked her much better in Prince of Persia. (I'm still racking my brain, trying to remember anything about her character in that movie - just not coming to me.) Her character here was brash yet sexy and alluring, and she is definitely beautiful but approachable.

The story was serviceable, lifted by the performances of its stars. They really believed in what they were doing and that passion carries the film. You genuinely care what happens to several key characters.

It was a bit noisy at times and the camera was too raucous for its own good. However, this is typical Jerry Bruckheimer film making 101. There were also a few gaping plot holes and contrivances.

That aside, for those who leave the majority of their IQ points at home, this film is a fun and enjoyable ride. After the awful, heartless Clash of the Titans, I needed a fun adventure!


And now for more!

First. be sure to tune in Tuesday when I provide details on The Movie Dirty Dozen.

Second, I received and incredible honor and surprise at Beth: A Work in Progress on Friday. Just really blew me away. She is such a sweet lady and I'm touched by her kind words. I hope my book doesn't disappoint you, Beth!! Thank you again.

Until Tuesday - have a great weekend and remember to honor Memorial Day in the USA.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Everyone's in the iBookstore!!

Surprise!!

When I asked on Monday how many of you were in the iBookstore, only one person said yes - L. Diane Wolfe. Over twenty of you said you would be one day.

So, I created a surprise for those of you who want your book in the iBookstore:







(And I broke it down from this morning's post - couldn't read the titles!)

I didn't have as much time to work on it as I'd hoped, so forgive the simple covers. (And I hope you can read your book cover!) But I grabbed the samples of Diane's books, found the covers of those of you who have books but not in the iBookstore, and then created covers for those of you who will have books one day!

Hope everyone likes it. May it inspire you!

Now on to awards that a few lovely ladies were nice enough to pass along...

Summer at And This Time Concentrate! gave me the Journey Award! We are all on a journey together.

Passing this award to Ellie at Ella’s Edge who is working hard on her dream.



Christine at Christine’s Journey gave me the Blogger Buddy Award!

Passing this award to Kierah Jane Reilly because she’s a buddy, too!









And Mel at Writings, Musings, and Other Such Nonsense gave me the Awesomesauce Award!


That’s twice now. I feel special. Or rather, awesome!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A Manly Award and Stuff


Simon at Constant Revisions gave me the Witty Banter & a Beer Award! Simon says this is in response to all the pretty, flowery, girly awards.

Now, I’m not here to promote heavy drinking, but hey, it’s nice to get an award that’s geared toward us men. There’s so few of us out here!

I am passing it on to some other manly men:

Jamie at Mithril Wisdom
Arlee at Tossing it Out
Mr. Stupid at Stupidation
Cheeseboy at The Blog O Cheese
Stephen at Breakthrough Blogs
Will at Fatherhood and Other Common Terrors
Marvin at The Old Silly’s Free Spirit Blog
Matthew at The Quintessentially Questionable Query Experiment

Don't forget to check out the three great giveways in my sidebar!


Those of you who read my interview with author David J. Williams last week – his book, The Machinery of Light, came out yesterday! Visit Autumn Rain for details.




And if you've noticed The Dirty Dozen button in my sidebar – stay tuned! I will be announcing this blogfest next Tuesday.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Five Great Games and Gaming Moments

I'm a gaming geek - I admit it.

Thought I would share with everyone some great gaming moments...

5. Need For Speed - Hot Pursuit/Hot Pursuit II/Most Wanted

These three titles exemplified (for me personally) the very best of the series. Incredible driving, variety of cars, engaging tracks and (of course) those amazing chases as you try to outrun the law. The police would ram your car, set up roadblocks, lay down spike strips and bring in helicopters to drop exploding barrels. All the while, you're racing against opponents to cross the finish line. This is white-knuckle gaming at its finest.

Gaming Moment - I was racing against a single opponent. At the end of the race, we were dead even. The cops were in hot pursuit. With the finish line in sight, a helicopter drops an exploding barrel on my opponent. He explodes, clips my rear-quarter panel and sends me flying. I cross the finish line upside-down and backwards.

4. Half-Life/Half-life 2

This was the first-person shooter (FPS) that redefined the genre. The entire game played out before you with no cut-scenes or ridiculous load times. The result was a completely immersive and engaging experience. This was also the first game that made me feel as if I was just a small player caught up in some massive crisis. Half-Life 2 simply took everything that was right about the first game and improved upon it. This is the gold standard of FPS that all other games strive to emulate.

Gaming Moment - All hell had just broken out at the underground lab where I (Gordon Freeman) worked. I'd just run across some strange crab-like critters and beat them with a crowbar. I headed over to the glass-walled elevator to see if I could make my way to the surface. Earthquake like-tremors and small explosions had rocked the facility. I pressed the elevator button, look up through the glass to see (to my surprise) the elevator cables snap and the car go tumbling past me into the abyss. As the elevator passed me, I saw two lab workers screaming in terror. This game world had consequences.

3. Diablo

Also known as "The game I could not stop playing". Blizzards original action RPG (Role-Playing Game) Diablo was a time-sucking juggernaut. The player’s mantra became "Just one more level". And once you won the game, it was time to create a new character class and head back down. With randomly generated dungeons, critters and loot, the game had massive replay ability. The template of Diablo is still copied to this day.

Gaming Moment - The first time I battled Diablo himself (or itself). The satisfaction of vanquishing this beast of pure evil was sweet indeed.

2. Fallout 3

This was the first hybrid (part FPS/part RPG) that worked on all levels. An amazing, immersive experience that opened up a huge world to explore at your own pace. The post apocalyptic environments were detailed and stunning, the enemy AI was consistent and challenging and the quests were challenging and exciting. I personally roamed the wasteland for months just to see what I could find. A game with massive depth and replay ability, this is one of the best games ever made. A note of caution with this one - it is rated M for a reason (language and extreme violence).

Gaming Moments -
I was running from Talon agents (the bad guys) and stumbled across a drive-in theater. I ran through the parking area littered with old rusted-out cars, ducked behind a rock outcropping and waited for the Talon squad. When they were in the middle of the drive-in theater parking area, I threw a grenade into the mix. The grenade exploded, the cars next to the explosion exploded and soon the entire parking area was one massive exploding fireball. Talon flambé anyone?

The wasteland is home to nasty gangs and bandits that maraud the countryside. One bright, sunny morning, I happened upon a rusted out semi truck and trailer. Peeking into this trailer, I found a gang of five fast asleep. Trailer + gang of five + grenade = very, very messy clean up.

1. Starcraft

I had no interest in playing RTS (Real-Time Strategy) until a friend convinced me to try Starcraft. This is the game that I have played more than any other. The Sci-Fi story arc was amazing, the three races (Protoss, Zerg and Terran) engaging, and the game play is out of this world. Strategy, planning, using your environment, building defenses, attacking, retreating, capturing resources, they all played a vital role in your success. Add to all that the creative dialogue of the sprites which became catch phrases in the gaming community. For me, this game is second to none and I eagerly await Starcraft II.

Gaming Moment - The entire game, start to finish, is a gaming moment that should not be missed. 'Nuff said.

Any gaming moment you'd like to share?

Monday, May 24, 2010

Do You Have a Book in the iBookstore?

I follow several authors with published books - are any of your books in the iBookstore? I want to find as many as possible, download the free sample, and then take a photo for everyone to see. And I think it would be really cool to start reading some of my friends' books. So let me know the title of your book and I will seek it out!

And for those of you who don't, how many want their book in the iBookstore one day?

Saturday, May 22, 2010

From the Blender

Because there’s a lot in the mix today.

First some interesting science fiction news.

Patrick Tatlopoulos, the director of the Underworld movies, will be directing a post-apocalyptic sci-fi environmental disaster movie called The Colony.

Leonard Nimoy has officially retired. His last role was a guest spot in the season finale of Fringe.

A sequel to Dreamwork's How to Train Your Dragon is in the works and will be out in 2013.

And at the moment, most reviews are recommending everyone skip Shrek 4. After Fallen’s take on the movie (she got to see a special advanced screening) I think I will follow that advice!

On to other things…

Pay it Forward

Pay it Forward was started by B. Miller Fiction who is hosting an awesome Pay it Forward contest on her blog right now.

Hart at Confessions of a Watery Tart decided to “Pay it Forward” to me – thanks, Hart!

I’m recommending you follow these three people:

Beth, a delightful lady with a wonderful assortment of blog posts and ideas - Beth: A Work in Progress
Karen, an author who throws out some great insights and inspirations - Coming Down the Mountain
Will, a father, musician, and a writer – and a great sense of humor - Fatherhood and Other Common Terrors
These are all really awesome people!


If I Were …

Tagged by Amity at Dreams are my Reality

If I were a month, I’d be December because Christmas and cold weather rock.

If I were a day, I’d be Saturday without a doubt.

If I were a time of the day, I’d be 5pm because it implies food and relaxing time.

If I were a season, I’d be fall.

If I were a planet, I’d be Mars because it’s mysterious. (Sure wouldn’t be Uranus!)

If I were a direction, I’d be lost. (Lost is a direction, isn’t it?)

If I were a drink, I’d be a hot chocolate because I’m always warm.

If I were a tree, I’d be an oak, because I’m stable.

If I were an animal, I’d be a tiger. (At least, that’s what my wife tells me.)

If I were a musical instrument, I’d be a guitar of course!

If I were a fruit, I’d be… okay, I wouldn’t be a fruit!

If I were a food, I’d be a pizza. Oh wait, that’s my favorite food…

If I were a celebrity, I’d be Ryan Reynolds! Okay, maybe not…

If I were a color, I’d be a dark blue.

If I were a book, I’d be… hey, what kind of questions are these? If I were a book, I’d probably be a doorstop somewhere!

If I were a song, I’d be Count of Tuscany by Dream Theater

If I were a movie, I’d be… damn, most likely one of those boring dramas.

If I were a flower, I’d be… A flower? Are you kidding me? Is crabgrass a flower?

If I were a facial expression, I’d be a smirk!

I’m passing this along to Spunk on a Stick, who is also having a really cool contest on her site.

Any questions?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Interview with author David J. Williams

Today I have the honor of welcoming science fiction author, David J. Williams!

His new book, The Machinery of Light, comes out on May 25, 2010:

With The Machinery of Light, David J. Williams completes his furiously paced, stunningly imagined trilogy—a work of vision, beauty, and pulse-pounding futuristic action.
September 26, 2110. 10:22 GMT. Following the assassination of the American president, the generals who have seized power initiate World War Three, launching a surprise attack against the Eurasian Coalition’s forces throughout the Earth-Moon system. Across the orbits, tens of thousands of particle beams and lasers blast away at one another. The goal: crush the other side’s weaponry, paving the way for nuclear bombardment of the cities.
As inferno becomes Armageddon, the rogue commando unit Autumn Rain embarks on one last run. Matthew Sinclair, an imprisoned spymaster, plots his escape. And his former protégé Claire Haskell, capable of hacking into both nets and minds, is realizing that all her powers may merely be playing into Sinclair’s plans. For even as Claire evades the soldiers of East and West amid carnage in the lunar tunnels, the surviving members of the Rain converge upon the Moon, one step ahead of the Eurasian fleets but one step behind the mastermind who created Autumn Rain—and his terrible final secret.


Tell us about the Autumn Rain Trilogy.

The Autumn Rain trilogy takes place a hundred years from now, in a world that's been locked in a Second Cold War for much of the 21st century. The United States and its eastern rival, the Eurasian Coalition, have weaponized both space and cyberspace; but as they struggle to achieve detente and put aside their differences, a new player arrives in town. Autumn Rain's spectacular destruction of the Phoenix Space Elevator establishes the Rain as bona fide superterrorists -- but who are they? What's their angle? The hunt is on to stop the Rain before they can strike again.

Among the American agents sent into the field are Claire Haskell and Jason Marlowe. She's an expert hacker; he's a specialist in physical combat -- and they're former lovers. But they soon learn that their memories of each other may be constructs implanted by their spymaster-handler ...and that the Rain are now hunting them. Things go downhill from there...

The timeline of the Autumn Rain trilogy is incredibly complex. How did you go about creating this detailed history? How long did it take?

The timeline was the first thing I ever wrote, way back in the day. I ran around showing it all my friends, thinking this was actually the first #$# page of the epic novel I was going to write. Eventually someone broke the news to me that an appendix might be a better place for it…

Among other things, this series focuses on politics and the military. Are you a fan of political thrillers?

Absolutely. LeCarre, Deighton ...all the old cold war stuff I grew up on.

Will The Machinery of Light really wrap up the story and answer all questions?

Oh yes. And it won't be a cop out either -- I will explain #$# everything. No fake set-ups for fourth books either. This is IT.

Any rumors of movie adaptations for your books?

Would it further feed the rumors if I said "no comment"?

The artists who created the cover designs and website artwork did a fantastic job! Do you feel they captured the essence of the series? Did you have any input?

Bantam has knocked all three of my covers out of the park, no question. I had input on the first cover, actually -- they came up with the guy in the power suit, only he was standing on a barren rockscape that looked like the planet Klandathu from Starship Troopers. I wasn't up for rewriting the book to feature a giant bug hunt, so I suggested a cityscape background to give it more of a near-future (rather than space opera) feel.

You travel often for appearances. What type of event appeals to you the most?

Any event where I can meet people who my characters have connected with. They lived for so long inside my head that it's great to see them get out into the world and have some fun.

What were your science fiction influences in the area of books and movies?

Fave authors: Gibson, Zelazny, Delany, Herbert, Watts, Morgan.

Fave movie: Bladerunner, inevitably.

Tell us a bit about your work on the Homeworld video games.

Ah, Homeworld... well, I went to elementary school with Rob Cunningham, who became the lead artist at Vancouver, BC-based Relic Entertainment. I was taking a break from my corporate job at the time (now long faded in the rear view mirror) and pitched him/Relic my concept of a people who realize their heritage as former rulers of the galaxy. One thing led to another, and the basic story took shape from there. Incidentally, I'd say the central impact the Homeworld experience had on me was wondering why I was stuck dealing with corporate spreadsheets while my friends were drawing spaceships for a living. That was the genesis of the novels right there...

To what do you credit your success? The Australian convict heritage or the craziness?

That, and not knowing the meaning of the word "quit."

What’s next for you?

Possibilities include: a science fiction screenplay, a medieval thriller screenplay, a dark fantasy novel, and jail.

Thank you, David, and we certainly hope it's not jail!

About David J. Williams-

Descended from Australian convicts, David J. Williams nonetheless managed to be born in Hertfordshire, England, and subsequently moved to Washington D.C. just in time for Nixon’s impeachment. Graduating from Yale with a degree in history some time later, he narrowly escaped the life of a graduate student and ended up doing time in Corporate America, which drove him so crazy he started moonlighting on video games and (as he got even crazier) novels. The Autumn Rain trilogy sold to Bantam Spectra in the summer of 2007; the release of THE MACHINERY OF LIGHT in May of 2010 completes the series.

Visit David’s blog HERE and be sure to check out The Machinery of Light Trailer

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

IPad Game Apps and Awards

The ability to play games on the iPad is one of the best features - of course! Games range in price from FREE to $9.99. I've found some of the best games are under $2, and those I'd purchased for my iTouch were free for the iPad. (Except in special cases.)


Peggle is a game anyone can play. The object is to eliminate the red dots, and it's set up almost like a pinball game. It's also very addictive! The best part - when you clear a screen, celebration music explodes, along with fireworks. Makes me smile every time.

Zombieville is simple - shoot zombies! Who doesn't love to do that? Your character has to run down the street, entering houses for $ and ammo, and shoot all the zombies. This is not for the faint at heart - when you shoot a zombie, his head explodes! (It's all done in cartoon fun, though.)
Don't you wish YOU were shooting zombies right now?




I've also received some awards this past week:


Yvonne at Welcome to my World of Poetry gave me The Circle of Friends Award. Thanks, Yvonne!



B. Miller at B. Miller Fiction gave me the Superior Scribbler award. Thanks, Miller!



I’m passing this along to Karen at Coming Down the Mountain



And Shannon at Faith, Hope, and Love created this special award, I Just Love Your Blog! Shannon, I really appreciate that!

I’m passing it along to 1 Wasabi Mommy, who has a great looking site! And likes to blog about food – makes me hungry.

Be sure to tune in Thursday when I post an interview with science fiction author, David J. Williams!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Fifteen Fantasy Island Favorites

This blog challenge comes once again from Arlee at Tossing it Out - visit his site for the full details.

And I have to begin this on a sad note - Ronnie James Dio died Sunday morning. He contributed so much to the rock industry and will be missed!

What are my fifteen most favorite albums and why?

Queensryche - Operation Mindcrime

I've followed Queensryche since their first EP and have always found them to be a unique musical entity. But "Mindcrime" took them to a whole new level. This amazing concept album blew me away and I feel (in my humble opinion) it's one of the greatest albums of all time.

Serenity - Words Untold and Dreams UnlivedThis Austrian power rock bands first disk is full of great riffs, catchy hooks and well-crafted songs. Just when I thought I had heard it all, Serenity came along and proved me wrong.
.


Rush -
Hemispheres
/Permanent Waves
/Grace Under Pressure

My all-time favorite band deserves three spots and it took awhile to pick just the right ones. I chose "Hemisphere" because it is the best concept album. "Permanent Waves" was a solid choice because it contains my favorite Rush song "Natural Science". And "Grace Under Pressure" is my favorite start to finish Rush album. ‘Neff said.

Redemption - Snowfall on Judgment Day

The latest from prog greats Redemption is also going to the island. Besides having one of the best titles of all time ("Snowfall on Judgment Day" - how great is that), this is a beautiful album of love and love lost set to a driving rock beat.


Pantera - Far Beyond Driven

Sometimes nothing satisfies my musical cravings like a good dose of in-your-face metal. This album is a sledgehammer to the groin. An incredible mix of aggression, brutal riffs and crushing rhythms. A brutal masterpiece.


Nightwish - Dark Passion Play

Why let the boys have all the fun. This female-fronted group can rock with the best of them. This impressive dose of orchestral rock is beautiful and aggressive. Every song has a contagious hook that you'll be humming for days.


Megadeth - Rust in Peace

What else can be said about Dave Mustaine's masterpiece? I've heard it a thousand times and I'm looking forward to the next thousand. Holy wars, Hangar 18, Five Magic's, Lucretia, Tornado of Souls - the heck with it, I'm going to go jam out and finish this list later.

Dream Theater - Octavarium and Awake

My second favorite band deserves two slots and these particular selections are fantastic. Every album is amazing, so it took some time to pick just the right two disks. I could listen to the amazing fretwork of John Petrucci all day (every day.)

Catherine Wheel - Happy Days

This British band never really took off in the US. Too bad, because this is one of my favorite albums of all time. Each song catchier than the next and topped with the amazing vocal work of Rob Dickinson.


Mastodon - Leviathan

We are back into crushing metal territory with this disk by Mastodon. The thought of a concept album of "Moby Dick" sounds completely ridiculous, but trust me when I tell you that this is an amazing musical achievement. Great songs, unique arrangements and a drummer that sounds like he has eight arms - truly impressive.

Trans-Siberian Orchestra - The Lost Christmas Eve

Seasons will change on the island and I will need some Christmas music. TSO is a work of pure, musical genius. I love every aspect of this album and the beautiful message rings true the whole-year round.


Guilt Machine

This is the latest project from Arjen Lucassen and a big influence on my writing. Arjen takes us through the stages of guilt while highlighting many talents, and this album influenced my final edits on CassaStar.

So there you have it! Let me know some of your favorite albums - or if any of my selections shock you.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Review – Iron Man II


I’d read an assortment of reviews online before seeing the flick and wasn’t sure what to expect.

Let me tell you – Iron Man II rocks!

The humor is great. Especially between Tony and Pepper. Robert Downey Jr. simply commands your attention from beginning to end. Even when you are turned off by his arrogance, you will still enjoy his character and the overall ride.

Mickey Rourke is great. He is tough but personable.

Don Cheadle is a fantastic actor. (His character was played by Terrance Howard in the first movie.) So good to see him don a suit! There is promise of more to come, too.

The director, Jon Favreau, does a fine job adapting Iron Man to the screen. The set pieces were great and the movie taken to a higher level by great cast performances. Between this great installment and the upcoming Avengers movie, Iron Man could go on forever.

It did lag a little in the middle, but so did the first one. The story was fresh, but they stuck to the formula that worked.

And Scarlett Johansson was rather hot! (Despite the fact that she could be Robert Downey Jr.’s daughter!)

Overall, I recommend everyone go see Iron Man II.
Oh yeah - and the AC/DC soundtrack was awesome!

Friday, May 14, 2010

100 Followers Feature - Shannon!

Today I'm featuring the winner of my 100 followers drawing.

I met Shannon right about the time Arlee at Tossing it Out began the A-Z Challenge. Her blog is located at Faith, Hope, and Love and is a place of inspiration and smiles. Shannon has such a great attitude and is a faithful blogger.

I'll let Shannon tell you about herself in her own words:

"Well, I'm a 39 year old Wife, Mother, Daughter, Sister and Friend, as well as a recent Cancer Survivor. I truly have a blessed life with 4 awesome children, 1 insanely adorable hubby, two mini weiner dogs, and a partridge in a pear tree...lol. My time is spent in various ways, for instance I like to ride my new beach cruiser, Choncho (from the movie Nacho Libre) around the beautiful city I live in. My kids enjoy riding with me, apparently when mom gets a new awesome bike, it's cool to ride around the city with her, instead of embarrassing...go figure.

"I also enjoy reading everything I can get my hands on and watching lots of movies, like Wizard of Oz, The Borne Movies, Mama Mia, Fireproof, Saving the Giants, Star Wars, The Chronicles of Narnia, etc. The most important thing about me is I am a Child of God, an heir to the Throne, if you will. God has been so good to me, and has been faithful in all He said He would be faithful in. What matters to me most is showing God's love to others through my daily life, and a I find a great way to do that is with my Blog...Faith, Hope and Love. I also love to show my friends and family love, by being the one they can come to when in need of a hug, or a sweet word of encouragement. Alex, I just have the best life...I mean how could I not with all I have been blessed with!"

Please visit Shannon today and tell her hello - Faith, Hope, and Love

Thanks again to everyone who follows my blog!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Sci Fi Wire

I've already reviewed the iPad - time to show you some of its tricks!

Sci Fi Wire is an app available for the iPad, iTouch, and iPhone. (And probably soon for the Android.)

Here's the description on SyFy.com:

Stay up-to-date with the latest SCI FI Wire news, photo galleries and videos on your iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch wherever you go. The free SCI FI Wire Reader App connects you to the latest over EDGE, 3G or a WiFi connection.


Okay, but what does it do???

Streaming science fiction news:
This is how I found out that Frank Frazetta had died.

Images:
Most are in connection with a story.

Videos: Clips, interviews, and movie trailers.

Sci Fi Wire is THE news source for iPad owners. It's updated constantly. Even better - the app is FREE! Can't beat that price.

To see all the apps available on SyFy.com or go directly to the iTunes store for Sci Fi Wire
One app down - fifty more to go!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Farewell Frank Frazetta

I just learned of the passing of the wonderful artist Frank Frazetta.










As a child, I received a puzzle for my birthday of Frazetta's "Death Dealer." I remember putting it together and pouring over every detail.








A short time later, I came across a Frank Frazetta game (which I still have to this day) and begged my Mom to buy it for me. I don't remember how to play, but the game revolved around cardboard blocks of Frazetta's paintings. I would stare at them for hours and imagine amazing stories and adventures that went along with each image.



As I grew older, I found Frazetta's works on album covers, books, magazines and film. His women were voluptuous, his imagination was boundless and his artistic style was unique (and has been copied by so many.) His work inspired me as a writer.



I say a melancholy farewell to a huge inspiration in my life and ask God to provide peace and comfort to his family. Goodbye Frank Frazetta, you will truly be missed.