Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Retro A To Z Challenge: Z – Zombieland 2009 (plus May Movie Preview and a Book Award!)

Zombieland – 2009

Funniest zombie movie ever! Columbus has his rules for living in Zombieland (remember to double-tap) and Tallahassee is on a quest for Twinkies. Add trouble in the form of two women, Wichita and Little Rock, and you’re set for a hilarious adventure. Also briefly featuring Bill Murray as himself. (Shame about that double-tap rule.)

2009 fun facts –
*Average income - $39,423.
*Cost of a movie ticket - $7.50
*Captain Chesley B. "Sully" Sullenberger made a successful crash landing In the Hudson River after US Airways Flight 1549 is struck by a flock of geese shortly after takeoff
*The longest total solar eclipse of the 21st century occurred - 6:38.8 minutes long
*The top selling DVDs were Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs
*It’s the year I started blogging!

Movies released
Star Trek
Sherlock Holmes
Inglorious Basterds
The Blind Side
Fast and Furious

Music released –
Chevelle – Sci-Fi Crimes
TSO – Night Castle

Games released –
Assassin’s Creed II
Dragon Age: Origins

And why is 2009 special?
It was the year Pat Hatt got his cat Orlin, started his foray into Internet ventures, and won huge money gambling! It’s also the year Cherie Reich decided to write with publication in mind instead of just writing for the sake of writing.

Pat hails from Nova Scotia and is owned by two cats, Orlin and Cassie. He’s the master of rhyme and offers both poems and videos on his site. He’s the author of over thirty books, a blogging machine, and possesses an awesome sense of humor. Pat blogs at It’s Rhyme Time
Cherie is the author of many books and an assistant librarian. (Which means she also reads a lot of books!) She is also the master of novelettes and short stories, writing everything from fantasy to horror to science fiction. Cherie is super-friendly, relaxed, and a great friend. Find Cherie HERE

And we’ve finally reached the end of the 2014 A to Z Challenge!

May Movie Preview Part Two

Here is part two of the upcoming theatrical releases for May! (Part one was yesterday.) As always, descriptions courtesy of the IMDB. Snarky comments by me.

23 –

X-Men: Days of Future Past
The X-Men send Wolverine to the past in a desperate effort to change history and prevent an event that results in doom for both humans and mutants.
Director: Bryan Singer
Stars: Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy
So many X-Men – the movie just might explode.

30 –

A vindictive fairy is driven to curse an infant princess only to realize the child may be the only one who can restore peace.
Director: Robert Stromberg
Stars: Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Sharlto Copley, Imelda Staunton
She’s evil. No, she’s good. I’m so confused…

Ninja News

Author Jack Lewis Baillot is hosting a video contest! See her site for details.

I have the honor of wrapping up with Z at both the Insecure Writer’s Support Group and the A to Z Challenge Blog today!

Don’t forget to score my Lord of the Clones performance at Father Dragon Al’s site! The dwarves are conspiring against me and I need your help.

And my big surprise yesterday –

My publisher let me know that CassaStorm has won the Pinnacle Book Achievement Award! 

I am just blown away…

Seen Zombieland? Following the awesome Pat and Cherie? Did you survive the Challenge? Excited for either movie? Did you cast your vote for Lord of the Clones? Going to take a long nap now that the Challenge is over? And what do you remember best about 2009…?

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Retro A to Z Challenge: Y – Yes 1987 (plus May Movie Preview and Lord of the Clones!)

Yes – Big Generator – 1987

Their follow up to the hugely popular 90125, this album is every bit as brilliant. It had so many standout tracks – Love Will Find a Way, Shoot High Aim Low, Rhythm of Love. Like its predecessor, this album owed much of its success to the influence of guitarist Trevor Rabin.

1987 fun facts –
*Average income - $24,350.00.
*Private 1st Class Army income - $9.385.20.
*Average cost of new car - $10,305.
*Cost of gas - .89 cents
*The US population was estimated at 244.6 Million
*The World's Population reached approximately five billion
*A supernova was observed, the first "naked-eye" supernova since 1604
*Fox Broadcasting Company made its prime-time TV debut
*Work on the Channel Tunnel joining UK and France began
*1987 was shortened by 1 second to adjust to the Gregorian calender
*Disposable Contact Lenses became available for commercial distribution
*Kitty litter was invented in the USA
*The Simpsons debuted on television

Movies released –
The Princess Bride
Evil Dead II
Lethal Weapon
The Untouchables
Empire of the Sun

Music released – 
Rush – Hold Your Fire
Dokken – Back for the Attack
U2 – The Joshua Tree

Games released –
The Legend of Zelda
Metal Gear
Street Fighter

And why is 1987 special?
It’s the year Julie Kemp got married and Medeia Sharif was ten years old!

Julie is a writer from Chicago. She blogs about her travels, life, and her sons who have left the nest. Her smile and joy come through in every word she writes and she’s just a delight. Julie blogs at Empty Nest Insider.

Medeia is an author and an avid book reader. She features authors and books every week on her blog, giving back at every opportunity. She’s a beautiful young lady with a heart of gold. Find Medeia HERE

Cover Reveal!

Bella’s Point

By Elizabeth Seckman
Release date – June 2014

May Movie Preview Part One

Here is part one of the upcoming theatrical releases for May! (Part two tomorrow.) As always, descriptions courtesy of the IMDB. Snarky comments by me.

2 –

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 
Peter Parker runs the gauntlet as the mysterious company Oscorp sends up a slew of supervillains against him, impacting on his life.
Director: Marc Webb
Stars: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx, Paul Giamatti
Really liked the first one – hope he’s still amazing.

16 –

The world's most famous monster is pitted against malevolent creatures who, bolstered by humanity's scientific arrogance, threaten our very existence.
 Director: Gareth Edwards
Stars: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Bryan Cranston, Ken Watanabe
 Are you kidding?? It’s freaking GODZILLA!!!!!

Who will be Lord of the Clones?

Visit Father Dragon Al and cast your vote today!!

I need your help! The dwarves have conspired against me to fix the contest. Judge Jeff has been bribed. I need a good score.

If you can't do it for me, do it for Mini-Alex...

Fan of Yes? Following Julie and Medeia? Excited about Elizabeth’s upcoming book? Either May movie strike your fancy? Will you vote for me? (I can send Hot Tamales.) And what do you remember best about 1987…?

One more day! Who will be the last featured blogger...?

Monday, April 28, 2014

Retro A to Z Challenge: X – X-Files 1998 (plus Odd Thomas Movie Review)

The X-Files Movie – Fight the Future – 1998

After years of watching the series, fans finally got a big screen version. It focused on the main mythos of the alien colonization of earth, complete with spaceship at the end. (Which of course, Scully didn’t see!) The film was true to the series while placing the X-Files on a much grander scale.

1998 fun facts –
*Average cost of new house - $129,300.00.
*Average Income - $38,100.00.
*Cost of Gas - $1.15
*Average cost of new car - $17,200.00
*First Class stamp - .32 cents
*The biggest airport in the world opened in Hong Kong
*Free Willy star Keiko went to Iceland for eventual release back into the wild
*Europeans agreed on a single currency the Euro
*The Search Engine Google was founded.
*The Denver Broncos won their first Super Bowl

Movies released –
Saving Private Ryan
The Mask of Zorro
It’s a Bug’s Life
The Big Lebowski
Dark City

Music released –
Rob Zombie – Hellbilly Delux
Orgy – Candyass
Monster Magnet - Powertrip

Games released –
Fallout II
Baldur’s Gate

And why is 1998 special?
Because that year, Al Diaz said someone believed in him so much that it made him believe in himself as well. It was also the year Natalie Aguirre adopted her daughter from China in April, and it was the year Jamie Ayers got married!

Father Dragon Al is an artist and writer who hails from Mexico. He’s a wise old dragon, tended to by many dwarves. (Even more the year they got a hold of my cloning machine.) Al is a multi-faceted person – devoted, caring, and a man of honor. My best friend, I’d trust him with my life. Al blogs at Dragon on a Mission.

Natalie is a writer and co-hosts a top young adult site. She gets the insider scoop on authors and agents and shares them with the world. One of the nicest people I know, Natalie is very involved and knowledgeable when it comes to books. She blogs at Literary Rambles.

Jamie is a young adult author and a teacher. She lives in sunny Florida with her husband, kids, and basset hound. Jamie has a passion for young people and a strong spiritual foundation. She’s a special lady who knows how to make everyone feel important. Find Jamie HERE

Ninja News

Milo James Fowler has a slew of new releases coming out over the next two weeks. He also signed the deal for a sequel to his novel and it will come out in November. Way to go, Milo!

C. Lee McKenzie has been featuring other bloggers for the Challenge through a contest. Each week is a new prize, and the winner drawn from those who guess the most bloggers correctly from her posts and hints. Last week, I won! Thanks, Lee.

Don’t forget - the final installment of Lord of the Clones is tomorrow! Visit Father Dragon Al and vote for your favorite. The awesome Ninja Cloner (me!) or evil Lord Baldernot (Mark Koopmans.)

Movie Review – Odd Thomas

Based on the novel by Dean Koontz and directed by Stephen Sommers.
The film follows a young man with clairvoyant abilities as he tries to uncover a terrible event that’s about to take place in his town.

The best way to describe this film is it’s a murder-mystery, supernatural, comedy thriller.
The ‘I see dead people’ concept isn’t original, but the movie executes it very well. It’s incredibly entertaining, powerful, and hits all the right notes.
It has a great cast. Anton Yelchin (Chekov from the latest Star Trek films) is Odd and plays the character perfectly and believably. Willem Dafoe is solid in his role as the police chief who not only benefits from Odd’s abilities, but he helps keep them a secret.
Overall, I was very impressed with this film and highly recommend it!

Fan of the X-Files? Following Al, Natalie, and Jamie? Read any of Milo’s books? Seen Odd Thomas or read the book? Ready to visit Al tomorrow and cast your vote? And what do you remember best about 1998…?

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Retro A to Z Challenge: W – Whitesnake 1984 (plus R.I.P.D. Movie Review and Ninja News)

Whitesnake – Slide It In 1984

Greatest Whitesnake album ever! People tend to gravitate toward the over-commercialized album that followed, but the infectious groove of this bluesy rock album is superior. And yes, every song title is a dirty double entendre.

1984 fun facts –
*Cost of a new home - $86,730.
*Average income - $21,600.
*Cost of a movie ticket - $2.50
*Cost of a new Corvette - $23,392.
*The first commercial CD players became available
*The MTV Music Awards debuted
*Dan Marino passed for 5,084 yards, a record that would stand until Drew Brees broke it in 2011 with 5,476 yards. (Which was topped in 2013 by Payton Manning with 5,477 yards.)

Movies released –
The Terminator
Star Trek III: The Search for Spock
This is Spinal Tap
Beverly Hills Cop
Nightmare on Elm Street
Sixteen Candles

Music released –
Rush – Grace Under Pressure
Y & T – In Rock We Trust
Iron Maiden – Powerslave
Ratt – Out of the Cellar

Games released –
Pitfall II
Duck Hunter

And why is 1984 special?
It was the year Hart Johnson started college and she loved it!

Hart is the author of numerous mystery novels and serials. She hails from Ann Arbor, MI, and is the mother of two. Hart writes in her bathtub and is aiming for naked world domination. One of my first blogger buddies, Hart is a true friend and the master of snark. She blogs at Confessions of a Watery Tart.

Ninja News!

Tara Watson’s Hands-On Therapy is free April 26 - today! Download it at Amazon.

Thanks to everyone who visited me at Ellie Garratt’s site on Friday for her new Where I Write feature! I know everyone is busy with the Challenge, so I appreciate you adding one more stop.

Don’t forget - the final installment of Lord of the Clones, a video masterpiece courtesy of Father Dragon Al, is going down next Tuesday. And you will be asked to vote for your favorite! The awesome Ninja Cloner (me!) or Lord Baldernot (Mark Koopmans.)

Our fate will be in your hands…

Movie Review – R.I.P.D.

Finally caught this on NetFlix. This time, it’s the opposite of The Lone Ranger – it wasn’t as horrible as the critics claimed.

Now, it was completely derivative of movies such as Ghostbusters and Men in Black. And it was completely forgettable.
However – it was very entertaining!
Reynolds and Bridges worked well together. They had some funny lines.
It’s the proto-typical leave-your-brain-at-the-door popcorn film. And sometimes that’s all right.
Good for a rental from NetFlix.

Fan of Whitesnake? Following naked-advocate, Hart Johnson? Going to vote for me next Tuesday? Have you seen R.I.P.D.? (Think I watch too many movies?) And what do you remember about 1984…?

Three more days to go!!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Retro A to Z Challenge: V – Vanden Plas 2006 (plus Godzilla and Ninja News)

Vanden Plas – Christ-O – 2006

An amazing concept album, it interprets the story of the Count of Monte Cristo. X is the detective trying to track down Cristo-O after several vengeful murders, and it’s the development and arc of the characters that makes the story. If you are a fan of prog rock, Vanden Plas is an amazing German band.

2006 fun facts –
*On May 28, Barry Bonds broke Babe Ruth’s record with 715th home run
*Pluto was downgraded from Planet to dwarf planet
*The one billionth song was purchased from iTunes
*The Pittsburgh Steelers won their fifth Super Bowl, tying the record with the 49ers
*Tiger woods won the British Open and the US PGA

Movies released –
Underworld: Evolution
Miami Vice
V for Vendetta
The Illusionist
The Prestige
Pan’s Labyrinth
Casino Royale
Night at the Museum

Music released –
Dream Theater – A Change of Season
Anthrax – Stomp 242
Axel Rudi Pell - Mystica

Games released –
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
Gears of War

And why is 2006 special?
It’s the year Emilyann Girdner married her husband!

Emilyann is an author and highly creative lady. She likes to challenge herself and has fun on her blog. That smile of hers is so genuine and she has a great heart. Emilyann blogs at Anything Imagined.

Ninja News!

Today I am a guest of Ellie Garratt’s as she rolls out a new feature, Where I Write!

Rachel Morgan is starting a new series! She’s giving away a prequel to the Trouble series, Forgiven. Visit her site for details.

Available now!

Snip, Snip Revenge by Medeia Sharif
YA Contemporary, Evernight Teen
Release Date April 25, 2014
Beautiful, confident Tabby Karim has plans for the winter: nab a role in her school’s dramatic production, make the new boy Michael hers, and keep bigoted Heather—with her relentless Ay-rab comments—at bay. When a teacher’s lie and her father’s hastiness rob her of her beautiful hair, her dreams are dashed…

And you can join Medeia's giveaway to celebrate the release of her latest novel. See her site to enter.

A Little Godzilla Background…

For those of you who are hesitant about the upcoming Godzilla, let me give you a little background on the director.

This will be Gareth Edwards’ first big budget film. Previously he’d worked in special effects and directed a few television series.

However, this is not his first film. In 2010, he directed the super-low budget movie, Monsters. How low budget? Less than a million, and Edwards did all the special effects himself on his home computer. There was also no set script – Monsters was filmed opportunistically. The two actors were given outlines and simple interacted with each other. (In real life, they were engaged at the time and now married.)

That may sound like a potential disaster, but Monsters turned out brilliant. While ‘alien invasion’ is the theme, the story centers on the two characters as they trek through the infected area of Mexico, trying to return to the USA. It’s a slow-paced, thoughtful film about survival and the human heart.

And knowing what Edwards brought to Monsters, I am not one bit worried that he will create an amazing Godzilla film.

After all, it’s been fifty years since the last great Godzilla movie – we’re due!

Fan of Vanden Plas? Following the awesome Emilyann Girdner? Excited about the new books? Seen Monsters? Even more excited now about Godzilla? And what do you remember best about 2006…?

Don’t forget to visit Ellie Garratt!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Retro A to Z Challenge: U – Underworld 2003 (plus updates on Godzilla, Jurassic World, and Bioshock Movies)

Underworld – 2003

Released in January, usually the dumping ground for movies, this film was a complete surprise. Following a war between vampires and werewolves, it featured a sexy, leather-clad Kate Beckinsale. (I still want that outfit for my wife. She still says no.) Three sequels have followed (with another in the making), but nothing beats the fun and adventurous original.

2003 fun facts –
*Cost of a new house - $246,300.
*Cost of gas - $1.83
*The Do Not Call Registry was implemented
*The Concorde made its last commercial flight
*Apple launched iTunes, selling ten million songs in the first four months
*The Tampa Bay Buccaneers won their first Super Bowl

Movies released –
Lord of the Rings: Return of the King
The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions
Finding Nemo
School of Rock
The Italian Job

Music released –
Rush in Rio (live)
Anthrax – We’ve Come For You All
OSI – The Office of Strategic Influence

Games released –
Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

And why is 2003 special?
Because 2003-2004 Angela Brown’s life was wonderful and she was blessed with her daughter, the Chipmunk!

Angela is an author and has a daughter she fondly refers to as the Chipmunk. She helps with several other blogs and publishes books under a second name, Rayven Godchild. Angela is just a delight, and so thoughtful and caring. Find her blog HERE

Three New Books!

Pat Hatt just released three more Tarsier Man books.
Not one, not two – three!
Get the full scoop on all of them at his site.
Congratulations, Pat!

Movie News

The game Bioshock’s road to the big screen seemed doomed. However, JoBlo reported yesterday:
Kotaku has noticed that about a month ago, Sony registered multiple domain names with the words "Bioshock" and "movie" in the URL. While this is far from a confirmation that the movie is back in development, it is definitely intriguing. Unlike specific domain names with subtitles, this clearly has the word "movie" which means we cannot misconstrue it as another video game or other type of project.

Jurassic World News – there may be sequels!
From Blastr:
Director Colin Trevorrow, who takes over the franchise with the upcoming Jurassic World, told the print edition of Empire they’re already eyeing plans for more sequels to this semi-reboot of the franchise.

And in Godzilla News –
From The Epoch Times, a few words from director Gareth Edwards about the time and care that went into designing Godzilla:
He said creating Godzilla–one that appears fresh and original–took about a year. “Forget the giant monsters,” he told them. “If this really happened, it would be a life-changing experience. You have to take it seriously.”
“I grew up watching Spielberg movies,” he said, referring to director Steven Spielberg. “What they did so well — as well as having epic, fantastic spectacle — they made the characters feel real and human. We were trying to do the same thing here.”

Fan of Underworld? Following the talented Angela Brown? Picking up Pat’s books? Think we’ll ever see a Bioshock movie? Do you want more Jurassic World films? As excited as I am for Godzilla next month? And what do you remember best about 2003…?

I’m also at the Insecure Writer’s Support Group website today!