Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A Little Humor and Stuff

Since humor is what makes the world go ‘round, thought I’d point out some funny blogs. Some are intentionally funny – some are just snarky. (I like the snark.)

Cheeseboy at The Blog ‘O Cheese
“If I get 300 followers, I will do a video post from the inside of a McDonald's Playland tube.”
At 200 followers, his video post was from inside a dumpster – so come on! We want to see him in the tubes, sticky and covered in french fry scat from a thousand unwashed hands.

Men are Dumb, and I should know
His weekly comparisons of men and women are priceless.

Mr. Stupid at Stupidation
Have YOU been following “Harry Potato and the Worthless Stone?” Why not?

He’s in the middle of revamping his blog, but the Old Silly posts some funny stuff, too. The Old Silly’s Free Spirit Blog

Falen posts some great humor, especially on Fridays Falen Formulates Fiction
Be sure to say hello to Yvie!

Hart at Confessions of a Watery Tart likes to zing her readers, so keep an eye on her.

Apocalypse Now
Sure signs our world is ending – soon!

And this whole business of blogs of humor was inspired by this post from CC Chronicles, who gives us a glimpse at headlines of the future.


Elsewhere…

Yes, I did finish the new Preston & Child book. Awesome as expected. Review soon.

The new Rush DVD “Beyond the Lighted Stage” came out on Tuesday. Get it! Incredible, unseen footage, photos, interviews – and funny as hell!

If you’ve not checked out Prinkipria, the new issue of this online magazine comes out around the first of each month. And remember my interview with David J. Williams? It should be in the July issue!

Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty comes out on July 27. I am counting the days. It better rock! It’s only taken Blizzard twelve years to make the sequel…

And, I received the Your Blog Rocks Award from Yvonne at Welcome to my World of Poetry

Thanks, Yvonne! I like to think I rock. (At least on my guitar.)


I’m passing this along to-
Talli Rolland
Christine Danek
Simon C Larter (Don't read anything into the flowers, Dude.)

Monday, June 28, 2010

Great Guitarists

As promised, I will veer away from movies for a bit. I have to restrain myself, though, as I watched Rush - Behind the Lighted Stage this past Saturday and want to review it for you. (The DVD comes out Tuesday - if you're a fan, it's a MUST!)

It did inspire me to consider my favorite guitarists and those who inspire me to play better.

Six Great Guitarists

1. Alex Lifeson (Rush)

I think it's clear by now that I am a huge Rush nerd. Alex's guitar work has always been amazing to me. His smooth and effortless fretwork, along with the great songs and memorable riffs put him among the elite.

Essentials to check out: Natural Science, The Spirit of Radio, La Villa Strangiato

2. Joe Satriani

I was in college when a friend suggested I pick up a rock, instrumental album called "Surfing With The Alien". The album was a masterpiece of precision and beauty. I was hooked and have been a Satch fan ever since. Watching him in concert is like watching a star athlete at the top of his game. If you enjoy rock with a hint of Jazz and Blues, then Joe should be high on your list.

Essentials to check out: Satch Boogie, Always With Me (Always With You), Summer Song, One Big Rush

3. John Petrucci (Dream Theater)

The readers of Guitar Player Magazine just voted him Best Metal Guitarist. What more can you say about a guitarist who keeps upping his game with every release. Not only technically impressive, John seems to feel music like you and I breath air.

Essentials to check out: The Count of Tuscani, Octavarium, Constant Motion

4. Dimebag Darrell Abott (Pantera)

Before his tragic death (he was shot to death while performing at a club) Dime changed the sound of metal music. His snarling, growling, vicious style of playing has influenced every guitarist that followed. His playing always reminds me of fighting because it's so aggressive and explosive...simply amazing.

Essentials to check out: Mouth for War, Cowboys From Hell, Cemetery Gates, Walk

5. Nuno Bettencourt (Extreme)

If you've ever seen "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure" then you've heard Nuno. Remember the crazy guitar work playing during the mall chase scene, it's actually an Extreme song titled "Play With Me". Nuno reached elite status with the next album "Pornograffiti". Without a doubt, some of the best riffs and fills that you will ever hear can be found on this disc.

Essentials to check out: Play With Me, Flight of the Wounded Bumble Bee (He Man, Woman Hater), Decadence Dance, Warheads

6. Dave Mustaine (Megadeth)

One listen to "Rust in Peace" is all it takes to convince any guitar aficionado that Dave deserves to be on this list. The amazing fretwork of Dave and fellow guitarist Marty Friedman is truly epic. The lineup has changed over the years but Dave continues to shred with the best of them.

Essentials to check out: Holy Wars...The Punishment Due, Wake Up Dead, Symphony of Destruction, Train of Consequences

Here are few other great shredders and riffers to check out:

Jerry Cantrell (Alice in Chains)

John Sykes (Whitesnake, Blue Murder)

Jesper Stromblad, Bjorn Gelotte (In Flames)

Steve Rothery (Marillion)

Steve Vai

There are other great guitarists, but these are the ones I felt were the most diverse and talented, and who continue to improve and progress musically. And bottom line, they're my favorites!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

July Movie Preview

And now to wrap up our week of movies!

JULY 2

The Last Airbender

Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Stars: Noah Ringer, Nicola Peltz, Jackson Rathbone
The Plot: Aang (Ringer), a young successor to a long line of Avatars, learns that he possesses the power to engage the Fire Nation and hopefully end their century-long war against the Water, Earth, and Air nations.

This goes up against the new Twilight movie, which might seem like suicide. However, all the girls will flock to Twilight while The Last Airbender will attract the boys - and anyone else who doesn’t like sparkly vampires.

JULY 9

Despicable Me

Director: Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud
Stars: Steve Carell
Studio: Universal Pictures
The Plot: A trio of orphan girls cause the normally deplorable Gru to rethink his plan to steal the moon.

The trailers for this one intrigued me from day one – it looks funny, quirky, and unusual.

Predators

Director: Nimród Antal
Stars: Adrien Brody, Laurence Fishburne, Topher Grace
The Plot: A group of elite warriors are hunted by members of a merciless alien race.

After seeing a short ‘making-of’ clip and considering the quality of actors on board, I think this might be a fun return to the flavor of the original Predator.


JULY 14

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice

Director: Jon Turteltaub
Stars: Nicolas Cage, Jay Baruchel, Monica Bellucci, Alfred Molina
The Plot: Master sorcerer Balthazar Blake (Cage) recruits a seemingly everyday guy (Baruchel) in his mission to defend New York City from his arch-nemesis, Maxim Horvath (Molina).

While Cage’s presence worries me, the director is good, and the trailer is damn cool. And after How to Train Your Dragon, it will be interesting to watch the real actor behind Hiccup’s voice.

JULY 16

Inception

Director: Christopher Nolan
Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Ken Watanabe, Ellen Page, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Cillian Murphy, Tom Berenger, Michael Caine
Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures
The Plot: Dom Cobb (DiCaprio) is a thief who specializes in the art of extraction, the stealing of secrets from a target's subconscious. Though his profession cost him everything he has ever loved and has turned him into a fugitive, an offer for a final job -- one that requires him to plant an idea instead of pilfering it -- could be his chance at redemption.

THIS is the movie event of the summer!! Nolan is one of the most stylish and atmospheric directors in the industry and his track record is perfect. Tell me you haven’t watched these surreal trailers with eager anticipation!?
* * * *
Thanks again to all who participated in The Movie Dirty Dozen Blogfest and thanks to the Hollywood Spy for visiting this week.
Next week, I will talk about more than just movies, I promise!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Welcome the Master Spy!


The HOLLYWOOD SPY !!

If you're into movies and love to catch the latest buzz in Hollywood, then this site is for you! Dezz was nice enough to answer a few questions, too.

What prompted you to start the HOLLYWOOD SPY blog?

I've been writing about movies around the Net for at least five years now, but at certain moment I felt I needed my own space, so I created HOLLYWOOD SPY. The main aim always was and still is - connecting with people who like discussing similar topics with me -films, TV, showbiz... I also wanted to create a blog which will be a haven of positive energy. Most movie junkies are very negative, they drool only over horrors and violent action movies and like criticizing a lot, while I wanted something different - a place where you will feel the positive vibrations. Everything in HOLLYWOOD SPY is devoted to that - the colours, the layout, the pictures, the posts, the polls .... you will never see anything negative there. The message is that we should give love and support to others always and everywhere. HOLLYWOOD SPY always tries to cheer up the readers, and I guess it's working since I will have a total of 100,000 readers and visitors this summer.

Have movies always been your obsession?

I'd rather say I'm obsessed with artists than with movies. I do adore films, especially the ones which can touch you deeply and profoundly. But I prefer actors and their performances. In this grayish world and era of alienation, I like to support true talents, true beauty, true hearts and artists who put passion in their roles and everything they do. You will see that my favourite actors, actresses and directors are people with vision, people with inner power and people with genuine soul. Creativity and talent should rule the world, not the thirst for power and superficial ambitions. As long as I live I shall fight for that.

Since you don’t live in Hollywood (or the USA) how do you spy on Hollywood from afar? (And I know a great spy can’t reveal his sources.)

Yes, HOLLYWOOD SPY's secret headquarters are in Vojvodina (Central Europe). The spying business became much easier for me after I've hired the penguins from Madagascar and put them in my team. Those are some seriously resourceful and witty creatures :) My personal mafia.

You work for a publisher – tell us a bit about translating books and other duties.

I've been working as a book translator for three years now, and I've translated 12 books so far for the readers in Serbia. It's a job which gives you an opportunity to work at your home, to live in the world of imagination and wisdom, but it requires a lot of effort, dedication, talent and knowledge. While translating the books you writers wrote, not only that we translators have to translate all the words, terms, names, expressions, metaphors (all of which can sometimes get extremely tricky) but we also try to transmit your sentence structure, your style, your vocabulary, your creative vision, the very soul of your novels, we even have to translate your mistakes. :) That's why we probably know your books better than you writers, yourselves, since we have to dissect each and every sentence and word in the process of translating. It's not an easy job: when I'm translating a historical book, I have to find a lot of archaic words an terms in my own language to translate the English ones and transmit the atmosphere of the original work, it's the same when a story has exotic or modern setting and I have to find exotic or modern words and expressions. This is why every translator is actually a writer himself, otherwise our translations would seem mechanical and stiff. Beside translating, I also write prefaces and blurbs for book covers, since books sell better when we have a good and attractive blurb, and I also take part in choosing and making a book cover if we decide to make a new one. Stunning book covers also sell books much much much better. Believe me.

Besides movies and books, what else strikes your fancy?

Well, I'm officially a professor of English language and literature, but as I've said I work as a translator of books. I also teach English when they pay me good :), usually in companies and firms where I teach English to business people and managers. I'm also a fashion designer, an interior designer, a nutritionist, a poet, a journalist, I love cooking and all kinds of design, I'm also good in public relations and I've worked as a PR, I also have a degree in Russian language but I don't really use it, but the thing most friends and people around me like to use and abuse :) is the fact that I have a talent for psychology so for most people I'm their favourite adviser, a shoulder to cry on and their Aunty Agony :)) And I couldn't live without music, and currently I'm absolutely obsessed with ONE REPUBLIC.

I bow to the movie master! Anything you’d like to add, Dezz?

Yes, where is the VANITY FAIR photographer that you promised would take a photo shoot with me for this interview??? I shall have to send a formal complaint to the Cassastarian royal embassy in Vojvodina :) Joking aside, dear Alex, I wish you a worldwide success with your upcoming sf bestseller this Autumn, you now you've always had and always will have my unconditional support, and I'm sending love to all of your readers .... yes, yes ... all you sexy and gorgeous people reading this babbling of mine ;P

Thanks, Dezz! And I'll check on that photographer... Maybe he fell into a worm hole!

And remember, HOLLYWOOD SPY LOVES YOU AND THERE'S NOTHING YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Second Movie Dirty Dozen!

Thanks to everyone who participated! It was a great way to visit new blogs and discover some new movies. Everyone listed above posted a Movie Dirty Dozen, so be sure to visit any blogs you missed. Thanks for making my very first blogfest a big success.


I didn't think it would be so tough to choose 12 films (or a baker's dozen plus one in my case) that I would put at the top of the heap. But I have to admit, I struggled to pare down the list to 14. So, to be fair to those poor movies that didn't quite make the list, here is The Movie Dirty Dozen Part 2. (Every great blog deserves a sequel!)

1. The Matrix - The Wachowski brothers blew my mind with this amazing science-fiction brain melter. The film was groundbreaking (bullet-time) and took the genre to a whole new level. Should have made the list but I didn't know what to cut.

2. The Princess Bride - What was I thinking leaving this off the first list? What a horrible oversight on my part. This film is so funny and charming that it will warm the heart of even the most jaded viewer.

3. The Usual Suspects - Wow, do I love this movie. Who is Keyser Soze? The movie is fascinating throughout (with some truly memorable performances) but its the ending that puts it over the top.

4. Maverick - This is one of the most watchable movies ever made. I watch it every time I stumble across it. Mel Gibson, James Garner, Jodie Foster and Alfred Molina had to have had a blast making this film. It exudes fun in every frame.

5. Galaxy Quest - If you are a Star Trek fan than this is a must-see movie. This film is a hilarious send-up of a classic Trek-like show called "Galaxy Quest". The film spoofs sci-fi conventions and classic sci-fi TV with love and respect.

6. Underworld II - Of the three films, this one is my fav. The action is intense, the gore is way over the top, and Kate is smokin' hot.

7. L.A. Confidential - 1950's Los Angeles sets the scene for a noir draped story of murder, cover-up and revenge. Russell Crowe and Guy Pearce chew up scene after scene. A must see!!

8. Doc Hollywood - My favorite Michael J Fox movie is also a perfect date movie where a big-city doctor (Fox) winds up stuck in the quaint little town of Grady. Comedy and romance ensues.

9. The Empire Strikes Back - This is, in my humble opinion, the best of the six. Dark and menacing, this is the Star Wars film I keep coming back to watch. (On a side note - Mr. Lucas, please stop ruining this once proud franchise with your cringingly bad plots and dialogue. Thanks.)

10. The Sixth Sense - Believe it or not, M. Night Shyamalan used to make great movies. This movie came out quietly and took off like wildfire due to great word-of-mouth. I wish I could go back to that moment when all the pieces fell together. The best didn't-see-it-coming ending ever!

11. Tombstone - This campy western is great for all the over-the-top performances. But Val Kilmer steals the show with his amazing performance as Doc Holliday. He deserved an Oscar nod for his portrayal!

12. The Godfather - If you have not seen it, find a way to watch it. Now!!

I'm sure I forgot some more films which will ping my radar after this post. Ah, so many great films!

Be sure to stop by on Thursday! I'm featuring the #1 Hollywood movie expert, the man with the inside scoop on the film industry.

Speaking of films...

In the middle of all these great movies, let me suggest a way to salvage a potentially bad film experience. Do you recall the S. Korean film Dragon Wars from 2007? One of the biggest movies to emerge from that country and they spared no expense on the creature and special effects. However, this meant there was no money for a script. The result is... well, it's really bad!

Never fear, though - it's available as a RiffTrax!

So if curiosity overcomes your urge to avoid a truly abysmal film, go HERE before slipping that tainted DVD of Dragon Wars into your player and download the RiffTrax. You have been warned...

And I think a blogfest celebrating the worst films to ever hit the screen is in order for August! What do you think?

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Movie Dirty Dozen Blogfest is Here!



Time for everyone's Movie Dirty Dozen! Don't forget to visit the other blogs participating in the fun!

A note about the Twelve. I am such an unabashed movie fanboy that I could make a list of 100's or 1000's. It took me a while to choose the right films. My criteria was simple, I chose films that were inventive and memorable. But the crux of my choices rested on the questions: Can you watch this movie over and over without the film collapsing on itself? Does it get better with age... or worse?

See if you agree with at least some of these!

1. LOTR Trilogy - What an amazing piece of work from Peter Jackson and the team from Weta. Every frame has been lovingly crafted with intricate detail and care. It's quite apparent that Peter Jackson not only loved the LOTR books by J.R.R. Tolkien, but also poured so much effort into making films that appeal to the broad masses as well as the fanboys. Take the time and invest an entire day in the extended cut trilogy.

2. Mystery Science Theater 3000 The Movie - I am a huge fan of this great cult series. Joel, Mike and the bots have been like family since the shows inception, so I was so excited to see a big-screen version of my beloved show. Watching MST3K in the theater was such an amazing experience. For those of you unfamiliar with the show (shame on you), Mike and the bots (Tom Servo, Crow, Gypsy and Cambot) are trapped on the satellite of love and are forced to watch bad movies orchestrated by the evil scientist Dr. Clayton Forrester. The cinematic stinker that the crew skewers is "This Island Earth" and it is played up for big, big laughs.

3. Memento - Christopher Nolan (Batman Begins, The Dark Knight) burst on to the movie scene with this amazing, mind-bending film. Told in reverse, the story centers on a man (Guy Pierce) who is searching for his wife's killer while suffering from short-term memory loss (stemming from the attack on his wife). Most films require only a tiny amount of brain computing power (if any at all). Memento requires your entire brain stay focused on the events unfolding as you are asked to follow a narrative playing in reverse. Every time you think you know what is going on, the next scene deconstructs every notion in your head. A masterpiece.



4. Blazing Saddles - One of the most oft-quoted films is also one of the funniest movies of all time. Mel brooks spoof of the old west and a very telling play on racism is timeless and hilarious.



5. Blade II - I was trying to find the right Guillermo Del Toro film to add to my list. Hellboy, The Devil's Backbone and others were all great films but Blade II took a cool movie premise and turned it up to 11. This is one of my favorite experiences in a theater. The crowd was so into the film that I didn't mind the hoots and hollers. It just added to the vibe and ramped up the fun.



6. Serenity - It's like Christmas when one of my favorite Sci-Fi shows of all time ("Firefly") gets the big-screen treatment. The characters are great, the dialogue crackles with energy and wit and the show is given a wonderful send-off.




7. A Few Good Men - Another film with so many great lines and great performances. The ensemble cast is brilliant and rounded out by a truly memorable performance by Jack Nicholson who chews up every scene.



8. Jurassic Park - I remember reading the novel by Michael Crichton in about a day and a half and thinking there was no way they could turn this into a movie (but hoping they would try). Fortunately, Steven Spielberg picked up the gauntlet and ushered in a new age of summer blockbuster. So many jaw-dropping moments and amazing action set pieces. This movie took my inner child out for a two hour+ romp and I feel that way every time I watch it.

9. Aliens - James Cameron took a creepy, slow-paced, brooding film (Alien) and turned it into a non-stop roller coaster ride of action and excitement. If you’re a fan of this film (and who isn't) you quote lines from this movie all the time. This film is a non-stop juggernaut of action that keeps ramping up the excitement and tension. I'm a huge fan of all of Cameron's work but this one is truly epic.


10. Raiders of the Lost Ark - This is as close as it gets to the perfect movie. Great pacing, amazing set pieces, and wonderful characters. This movie had me grinning from ear to ear and remains one of my all time favorites. This should be required film school viewing when it comes to pacing and editing. Spielberg has so many great films to his credit that he must be considered as the finest director of all time.

11. Terminator 2: Judgment Day - Sporting a big budget and a cool twist, this sequel to "The Terminator" was an event movie. James Cameron took the world of Skynet and created an entire mythos that is still relevant in the minds of all fanboys and Sci-Fi aficionados alike.




12. Star Trek: First Contact - I had to include a Trek film. I have told my wife that I could watch the crew of the Enterprise sit around a campfire and belch for two hours. Fortunately, this film is so much better than that. With a great time-travel premise, an exciting enemy (the Borg) and the next gen crew this is my all-time favorite Trek.

13. (Baker's Dozen): Evil Dead II/The Crow - Love both films and couldn't decide which one to include so here they are. Sam Raimi's "Evil Dead II" is a work of pure, creative genius. Shot on a shoestring budget, Raimi employs every camera trick known to man, and a few he made up. Add to the mix an amazing performance by Bruce Cambell and you have a truly creative horror/comedy cult classic.

From a graphic novel by J.O. Barr, director Alex Proyas crafted a stunning, visual feast of violence and revenge. What really sets the film apart is the work by Brandon Lee. For those of you who don't know, Brandon Lee was accidently killed during the making of this film when a prop gun was filled with live rounds. This tragedy has made an imprint on the film, which seems haunted and sorrowful.

I left out so many films that I wanted to add, so check back Wednesday for a fresh list of movies that almost made the list.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Movie Review - Toy Story III


Pixar's track record is near perfect, and judging from early reviews, I assumed this movie would follow tradition. As expected, Toy Story III delivered the goods on every level.


Andy's leaving soon for college - what will happen to his toys? What does happen is another adventure as the toys embark on a journey of friendship and loyalty.


The animation is stunning. (Dare we expect anything less?) The 3D effects enhance the film, blending perfectly with Pixar's detailed animation. However, I suspect those watching in 2D lost none of the overall experience due to the quality of Pixar's work.


Outstanding scenes to watch for include the opening train sequence, Buzz in a funny re-boot sequence, and the final daycare scenario. There are some dire moments toward the end, and the ending itself is sad and touching. It will cause most adult members of the audience to recall their favorite childhood toys.


Toy Story III is sentimental and will tug at your heartstrings. This one is for all ages. Go and enjoy!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Movies and my own Video!

Don't forget The Movie Dirty Dozen kicks off on Monday! I'm pleased so many have signed up for the event. It'll be a blast! Looking forward to everyone's selections.

Next week will be all about the movies, kicking off this weekend with a review of Toy Story III. And don't forget, I have a movie industry expert dropping by as well.

I also found out my publisher is making a book trailer for CassaStar! I guess it's already been storyboarded and music selected. My own video - how cool is that?

And I'm wrapping up the week with a couple awards. Zoe at No Letters on my Keyboard gave me the Versatile Blogger award and Hart at Confessions of a Watery Tart gave me the Sugar Doll award.
Thanks, ladies!!

And I suddenly realized I went over 150 followers this week. I'm stunned!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Driving and Meat & Potatoes

Arlee Bird at Tossing it Out tossed out this blogfest - 10 Favorite Drinking and 10 Favorite Driving Songs

I decided to run with the driving songs. As you may have surmised from previous posts, I hate driving. Slow driver, dumb drivers, people on their cell phones, and no rocket launchers on my hood. So, to get through the daily ordeal of driving, I crank my tunes!

10 Favorite Driving SongsIn Flames – System
Rush – Natural State
Prong – Snap Your Fingers Snap Your Neck
Joe Satriani – One Big Rush
Pantera – Cowboys From Hell
Dream Theater – Count of Tuscany
KillSwitch Engage – Rose of Sharyn
Corrosion of Conformity – Albatross
Extreme – Get the Funk Out
Blue Oyster Cult – Shooting Shark

Any one of these songs played at a high decibel will reduce the stress of my drive home…


Now this blew my mind...

Helen Ginger at Straight From Hel gave me the Meat and Potatoes Award.

This prestigious award goes to a particular group of wise and experienced bloggers who have proven themselves over the course of time, trials, and tribulations.

Wise and experienced? Certainly not in the author arena just yet! And even after CassaStar’s release this fall, I probably won’t be much wiser. She must be referring to my plethora of knowledge concerning movies, music, and tech gadgets. Yeah, that must be it!!

However, I will pass this on to some bloggers who do know their stuff when it comes to writing!

Raquel Byrnes, Simon C. Larter, and Matthew Rush

You will definitely learn a thing or two when visiting these blogs!



And I enjoyed the character interviews yesterday. Everyone put so much effort into their interview - mine looked so pathetic in comparison! Special thanks to Jemi for her wonderful comment yesterday.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Character Interview Blogfest - Meet Byron

I happened to catch this blogfest yesterday at Echoes of a Wayward Mind and decided to participate with an interview of Byron, one of my main characters. During the time of this interview, Byron had just entered fighter pilot training...

You just began Cosbolt training - how do you like it so far?

The first week was a drag, nothing but sims and lectures, but I finally got some time in the Cosbolt. So far it's basic exercises and maneuvers. Stuff I could do in my sleep. I'm ready for a chance to show off my skills!

What are the instructors like?

Tough and demanding, which is no surprise. I've given them no reason to fault my flying, though. Trindel and I are perfect in the cockpit. For some damn reason, however, the lead instructor seems to have it out for me. I don't know why Bassa singled out our team, but it's annoying. Probably didn't like what he saw on my service record...

Tell us about your navigator, Trindel.

He's all right. He's hyperactive and his constant chatter makes me want to punch his ejection seat. A bit naive, too. But, beggars can't be choosers. No one else wanted to be my navigator and we were thrown together in desperation. So far it's worked out, though. I guess I trust him. He makes good decisions and we're jelling as a team.

Any other friends there on Guaard?

Not really. I'm not exactly the most popular guy here. Besides, I'm not here to make friends, I'm here to fly rings around these amateurs.

What's your goal?

To be the best damn Cosbolt pilot in the fleet!

And there you have it!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Rush, the World Cup, Extreme, and Everything

Okay, maybe not everything.

I do have to provide an update on one of my favorite bands.

Rush was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on June 10! Ironically, they are still not in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame because the owner hates Rush. Go figure!

Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage is their new DVD and it comes out on June 29. It was also released to theaters for one night only on June 10 and received a B+ in Entertainment Weekly by Owen Gleiberman. (Who also hates Rush!)

I've been watching some of the World Cup. I couldn't watch it for long today, though. The drone of thousands of plastic horns started to give me a headache. Has anyone else noticed this? It sounds like a giant swarm of bees! Must be driving the players nuts. More than one sportscaster has mentioned this issue, too. Guess I'll have to watch with the volume down.

Also caught the new Extreme concert DVD this weekend on HDNet. (Remember Extreme? More Than Words and Get the Funk Out?) I have to pick up this DVD. They sounded amazing in concert - crisp, clean and sharp. Nuno is incredible. The dude can play guitar! I was just in awe.
.
No, I don't sound like Nuno when I play. I don't look like him, either! (That's probably a good thing, though - if I was in that good of shape, I'd find any excuse to take of my shirt, and work and church are just not appropriate places for that sort of thing!)

I'm pleased so many have signed up for The Movie Dirty Dozen next week! I also interviewed one of the top movie news blog owners, so don't miss that next week, either.

And so far, Twitter is all right! Thanks to everyone who found me.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Don't Sit Through Another Bad Movie Without Assistance!

I considered this option the other day when I watched Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus. I knew it'd be awful and it was actually even worse. Debbie Gibson starred and they should've let her sing. Some mall hair and crappy 80's cheese pop could have only been an improvement.

So what's the best way to get through these stinkers? With help from the genius behind Mystery Science Theater 3000, of course!

The show ran from 1988 to 1999 on Comedy Central and then the SyFy Channel. There were 198 episodes, a feature film, and it won a Peabody Award. Many of the episodes are available on DVD.

From Wikipedia:
"The series features a man and his robot sidekicks who are trapped on a space station by an evil scientist and forced to watch a selection of bad movies, initially (but not specifically limited to) science fiction B-movies. To keep sane, the man and his robots provide a running commentary on each film, making fun of its flaws and wisecracking (or "riffing") their way through each reel in the style of a movie-theater peanut gallery. Each film is presented with a superimposition of the man and robots' silhouettes along the bottom of the screen."

This was one of my favorite shows and I was disappointed when it ended. However, Mike and the guys kept going with The Film Crew, Cinematic Titanic, and RiffTrax



On RiffTrax, you can find audio tracks for hundreds of movies, good and bad! Twilight, Avatar, Harry Potter - they're all available. The concept is simple - download the audio track (ranging from free to $2.99) and sync it up with your DVD. (The guys tell you just where to begin.) Adjust the TV and RiffTrax volume, and prepare to laugh!

If you've never checked out RiffTrax or Mystery Science Theater 3000, I urge you to do so. You'll never have to endure a bad movie again!

And I checked - Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus is available as a fan submission - RiffTrax.

Enjoy!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

iPhones, iPads, and eBooks

Unless you've been living in a cave, you know that the new iPhone comes out on June 25th. The iPhone 4 runs $199-299, is thinner, and boasts a camera, plus it features the iOS 4 operating system which adds multitasking.

Apple is also releasing new apps that will enable those with iPhones and iTouches to download books from the iBookstore. Apple's eBook store will also feature books in pdf format. Helen Ginger had a great article about this yesterday, so visit her site for more details.

The iPad has had an impact on the eBook market, too. Apple's devices now rank third, just behind the Kindle and computers, as the eReader of choice. Online reading of newspapers and magazines has increased as well. And a third of all eReader owners purchased their device within the last six months.

And to give you an idea how many iPads are out there - two million have been sold worldwide since its debut on April 3, barely two months ago. One market research company says it will hit sixteen million units sold in the first year. And it's taken a bite out of the computer notebook industry, which has dropped 45% this year.

So what does everyone else think about all of this? Do you plan to purchase the new iPhone or the iPad?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Out of my Comfort Zone

Guess it's time I ventured out.

I've set up a Twitter account, so I really hope some of my blogger friends find me there. I found Shannon and Beth, but don't know who else to follow.

I need to start thinking about a blog tour as well. I know my publisher is setting up some dates, but I need to secure a few, too. Not sure how I go about doing that, so any tips are welcome! Three people have already offered to host me, so that's a start.

Nice to see so many people have signed up for The Movie Dirty Dozen blogfest! I was worried I'd be doing that on my own.

Now, to wrap this up, Will at Fatherhood and Other Common Terrors gave me the Versatility Award.

So the rules are this: 1) Thank the person who gave you the award. (Thanks Will!) 2) Share 7 things about yourself. 3) Pass the award along to 15 bloggers you've recently discovered and you think are awesome. (Thanks Bossy Betty, I picture dead rabbits now.) 4) Let your nominees know you've honored them.

I think all of my blogger friends are versatile – I’ve learned so much from everyone. So play along if you’d like.

7 Things:
1) Practicing my guitar is the most relaxing thing I do. Okay, maybe second most.
2) I’ve seen a hundred concerts. Yes, I like my music.
3) I hate mowing the lawn. Thought about paving the whole thing or installing AstroTurf.
4) I like spicy food.
5) I used to be a big D&D geek.
6) I enjoy watching sports, but I’m not good at any of them.
7) I hate driving. Hope someone invents teleportation in my lifetime. Stun guns for the hood of my car also welcome.

Have an awesome day, everyone!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Writing, Reading, iPad, and Stuff

India found this great item for writers called The Wasteline Test, which measures the amount of bad grammar stuff in our writing. Follow the link at her site - India Drummond
My writing measured ‘lean,’ which is awesome!

I'm working on another project while kicking around some new ideas. Something about the storyline for CassaStar's sequel didn't feel right, so I sat down this weekend with one of my test readers, and we tossed out some ideas. He had great suggestions and spurred my imagination, and the outline is much stronger now. I'll have to do a lot more research for this one, but I'm really excited.

I'm currently reading two books, a fantasy by Robin Hobb and one from The Autumn Rain trilogy by David J. Williams. However, the latest Preston & Child book, Fever Dream, arrived Saturday. I'm tearing through it, so hope to have a review up soon.

Have I mentioned lately that my iPad still rocks? I did make one mistake, though. I had Plants vs. Zombies on my iTouch, so I downloaded it to my iPad as well, just to see it on the larger screen. Yes, it sucked me in! I'm currently on the roof, so not long before I win it yet again...

As for stuff - I updated my blogroll on the right this weekend. If anyone who visits my blog and comments on a regular basis is not listed, please let me know! I've got all but the very newest followers up and may have missed a devoted friend.

Oh, and I finally have a button. Left hand side of blogroll, near the top. (For all those who've been asking for the past month!)

And Shannon at Faith, Hope, and Love passed out some awards the other day - and this one excited me:
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Rock Star Blogger! Have guitar, will travel.
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I'll just pass this along to two others who rock-

Jamie at Mithril Wisdom and Arlee at Tossing it Out

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Movie Review - Splice

Synopsis from IMDB - Elsa and Clive, two young rebellious scientists, defy legal and ethical boundaries and forge ahead with a dangerous experiment: splicing together human and animal DNA to create a new organism. Named "Dren", the creature rapidly develops from a deformed female infant into a beautiful but dangerous winged human-chimera.


Where to begin? I had an idea what to expect and this movie delivered that and more. It's not a horror film as much as a psychological thriller. It focuses on ethics and human behavior and how it can go so wrong. While some of the storyline seemed unbelievable, it mostly made sense in a twisted sort of way.

The actors did a fine job, especially Delphine Chaneac, who plays the creature Dren. She is far more human than the humans, though. The questionable ethics go beyond splicing human DNA with animals and delves into the area of child abuse. Dren turns on her human 'parents,' not so much due to her animal DNA as due to the physical and mental abuse she endures.

In an interview with producer Guillermo del Toro, he said that when he read the script, there was a line he would never cross in a film. This movie crosses that line twice in a sexual manner guaranteed to shock. For that reason alone, this movie is not only inappropriate for children but for anyone under the age of 18.

The special effects are incredible. I never once questioned Dren was real.

If you're seeking summer movie enjoyment, this is not the film for you. It will get under your skin. The characters and storyline are well developed, but it doesn't prompt repeat viewings. The movie is of quality and well done, but I will stop just short of recommending it.

Friday, June 4, 2010

June Movie Preview

You know me and movies!!

Here's the rundown of some noteworthy films this month.

Information courtesy of IMDB


June 4 -

Splice

Director: Vincenzo Natali

Stars: Adrien Brody, Sarah Polley, Delphine

Two scientists fuse DNA samples to create a new organism: a human-chimera they name Dren. As the creature rapidly develops from a deformed female infant into winged creature, her initial bond with her creators turns deadly
THE BUZZ: From our Sundance 2010 blog: This sci-fi/thriller benefits from commitment of two strong actors, Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley. The mix of body horror and fantasy is overseen by executive producer Guillermo del Toro, and Dren, the creature created and nurtured by a pair of bio-chemists, is a definite homage to Pan's Labyrinth.

I'm seeing this movie TODAY and will post my review very soon. I am stoked to see this film.


June 11-

The A-Team

Director: Joe Carnahan

Stars: Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper, Sharlto Copley The
A group of Iraq War veterans looks to clear their name with the U.S. military, who suspect the four men of committing a crime for which they were framed.

Okay, I'm a big fan of the original A-Team - so I will probably NOT catch this one in the theater.
.

Maybe NetFlix.

Just not the same without George Peppard...



June 18 -

Toy Story 3

Director: Lee Unkrich

Stars: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen

Woody (Hanks), Buzz (Allen), and the rest of their toy-box friends are dumped in a day-care center after their owner, Andy, departs for college.

It's Toy Story! Need I say more...?


Jonah Hex

Director: Jimmy Hayward

Stars: Josh Brolin, Megan Fox, John Malkovich

The U.S. military gives bounty hunter Jonah Hex (Brolin) and offer he cannot refuse: in exchange for his freedom from the warrants on his head, he's to take down a terrorist (Malkovich) who is gathering an army and preparing to unleash Hell on Earth.

This movie really intrigues me. I'll probably do a double feature that weekend.


July 2 -

The Last Airbender

Director: M. Night Shyamalan

Stars: Noah Ringer, Nicola Peltz, Jackson Rathbone

Aang (Ringer), a young successor to a long line of Avatars, learns that he possesses the power to engage the Fire Nation and hopefully end their century-long war against the Water, Earth, and Air nations.

THE BUZZ: Regardless of the range of opinions on (1) M. Night Shyamalan's career trajectory and (2) the project's "racebending" controversy, TLAs trailers contain some of the best money shots of the year thus far

M. Night Shyamalan. I'm not holding my breath on this one. But the previews look so damn cool!

Speaking of movies - don't forget to sign up for The Movie Dirty Dozen Blogfest!

And thank you to everyone who commented on yesterday's post about my book! I'm still floating...

Thursday, June 3, 2010

I've got a copy of my book!


It arrived yesterday!

It says 'review copy' on the back, so it's not the finished product, but I don't care. I'm finally holding a copy of my book!

This book has been a dream and ambition of mine for so long. To finally hold CassaStar in my hands is indescribable. Never thought I'd see the day.

I guess my publisher's been sending out copies for pre-publication reviews. So happy they sent me one as well!

And I've been working on the sequel. First chapter is done. The outline needs a little more work, but I've got the ball rolling.

It would be so cool to see CassaStar as a graphic novel, too. I need to ask about that.

I was just excited and wanted to share the moment with everyone!

Oh, and don't forget The Movie Dirty Dozen blogfest!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Movie Dirty Dozen


Time to round up The Dirty Dozen!

Not criminals – movies!

Movies are an integral part of our society. They cause us to laugh, cheer, cry, and tremble. They take us to new locations and imaginary worlds. They expose us to new situations and make us think. They uplift us when we’re down and inspire us to new heights. They broaden our horizons and provide an escape. They impact our world in ways too numerous to count.

We have our favorites. Movies we can watch over and over again. Films that have impacted our lives and taken us on a ride. Movies we will never forget as long as we live.

On Monday, June 21, I invite everyone to participate in The Movie Dirty Dozen blogfest! Sign up with Mr. Linky above and grab the button for your blog.

What movies have changed your life? What movies have changed you as a person? What movies are your ultimate enjoyment from start to finish? If you could only round up twelve, what movies would be your Dirty Dozen?


On June 21, post YOUR Movie Dirty Dozen!