Monday, December 19, 2016

Rogue One Review, TSO in Concert, Tara Tyler and Beasts, Spectral Review, Monday Music and Holiday Wishes!

Rogue One Review

Possibly the best Star Wars film ever!
Rogue One takes place just before Star Wars episode IV begins. It’s the story of those who risked everything to steal the Death Star plans.
Director Gareth Edwards (Godzilla, Monsters) does an excellent job with tension and pacing. The film is 2:14 hours long, but it doesn’t feel like it. It's also the first Star Wars aimed fully at adults. (If you have really young children, I recommend seeing it without them first.)
Like Empire, it’s a darker film. But that’s balanced by a memorable cast of characters, including a snarky reprogrammed Imperial droid. (Voiced by Alan Tudyk of Firefly fame, who steals the show.)
The special effects are incredible, detailed, and full. The movie moves through numerous scenes and planets, each possessing its own distinct personality. And the space fights and battle on the beach – just wow!
The first two thirds are good, but it’s the final third that elevates the movie to great.
Highly recommended! And see in 3D if possible.

I plan on seeing it again during the Christmas break…

Trans Siberian Orchestra in Concert

It’s the concert going season and what better way to kick off the Christmas holidays than with a Trans Siberian Orchestra concert!

The show is just mind-blowing. I guarantee you have never seen a concert like it. Rising platforms, a catwalk, massive projection screens, moving lights, snow, flames, explosions, fireworks, and more laser lights than a hundred concerts combined.

The twenty-plus musicians and singers are also top showmen. They know how to play to the crowd and ham for photos. Every singer possesses an amazing and commanding voice. They even had Russell Allen from one of my favorite bands, Symphony X, perform three songs. And if you’ve never heard an electric violin, you are missing out.

In addition to songs from their albums, they also told the story from their very first video about a runaway girl in an abandoned theater. There’s a narrator in between songs who plays his part to perfection. Bookending this are Christmas and other songs from their multiple discs.

If you’ve never seen them, I highly recommend you go!

And I’ll leave you with this Monday’s Music Moves Me (hosted by Xmas Dolly) song from TSO:

Don’t Judge Beasts by Tara Tyler

A rant by Professor Knotson Hardaway.

You should never judge someone based on appearances.

The human definition of a monster: an imaginary creature that is typically large, ugly, and frightening.

Please note, ugly is in the eye of the beholder. Beasts get very offended if you call them monsters. They are sentient, some much more intelligent than humans. Monsters act on animal instincts and kill for food. At first glance, beasts look different than humans, and fear is a common, instinctive reaction. Beasts understand this, but once humans realize beasts are logical beings, the term monster should never be applied in reference to them.

Beast is also a slang term the teenagers use in referring to each other or as an exclamation of surprise or loss. If a beast calls someone a monster, it is considered derogatory or a curse.

So when you come across a scary-looking individual, you can hide, but don’t call him a monster. You might be able to pull out his thorn and have a beastly friend for life.

Thanks for hosting me, Alex!

Gabe the goblin just saved his town Broken Branch Falls from splitting apart. He also revealed that humans--horrible creatures of myth and legend--may actually be part of their history! But seriously? Nah!
Now Ona, Gabe’s girlfriend, is headed thousands of miles away to Camp Cradle Rock for Spring Break seeking evidence of humans. Gabe knows better than to tell a stubborn ogress she’s crazy, so he’s letting her go and spending the break at the beach like a normal teenage beast. And he’s determined to have a good time without her, whether he likes it or not.
But when Ona goes missing, Gabe and his friends set out for the wilds of the west to find her, no matter what dangerous creatures get in his way. Not even humans.

Find Cradle Rock on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Goodreads

Spectral Movie Review

A NetFlix original film, it’s a mash of science fiction, horror, and war movie.
From the IMDB - A sci-fi/thriller story centered on a special-ops team that is dispatched to fight supernatural beings. Starring James Badge Dale, Emily Mortimer, and Bruce Greenwood.
It was a really unique concept, with actual science behind it. The suspense built as the creatures went from mere ghost images to real threats with their ability to flash-freeze anyone they touched. All hell breaks loose when the specialist who created the goggles that can see the creatures is sent in with a rescue team and it never lets up.
The effects were very impressive – handled by Weta Workshop, who did Lord of the Rings.
Something prevented it from moving up to the next level. But as a NetFlix watch, it’s definitely recommended.

Mini-Alex would like to wish all of you Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and holiday wishes! May you all be blessed this holiday season.

Who else saw Rogue One? Have you seen TSO in concert? (And if the answer to either of those is no, why not?) Know some beasts or monsters? Ever seen Spectral?
I’ll be taking time off during the holidays and be mostly offline from December 24 through January 2.
See you Wednesday, January 4 for IWSG post day and the announcement of the IWSG Anthology Contest winners!

Monday, December 12, 2016

Dream Theater in Concert, New Apes and Spiderman Movie Trailers, Devon Townsend, Christmas Music, When Animals Attack, and Ninja News

I have an interview today at Karen’s site, Write Now.

Dream Theater in Concert

Dream Theater did a special tour where they played the entire concept album, The Astonishing. (Which is two and a half hours long!) And I was fortunate to catch the last night of the tour.

Backed by large multi-media screens and a great light display, the show was less a concert and more of a production. Obviously my review is biased, as I am a lifetime fan, but I thought the concert was…dare I say it…astonishing.

The show ran like the double CD with an Act I and an Act II. Since it was the end of the tour, they finished with an encore of earlier material – As I Am, The Spirit Carries On, and the song that established them, Pull Me Under.

Watching five musicians with such masterful skills was both amazing and humbling.

Photos were not allowed (yes, we were all sneaking shots at the very end) but fortunately there will be a DVD released soon!

War for the Planet of the Apes/Spiderman Homecoming Trailers

In case you missed them!

Monday’s Music Moves Me

Hosted by Xmas Dolly, it’s all about Christmas music this month. So, enjoy a little Trans Siberian Orchestra - Christmas Eve/ Sarajevo while you read the rest of the post. There’s kittens!

Ninja News

We have a special guest at the Insecure Writer’s Support Group site today - Christine Frazier, founder of the Better Novel Project!

I recently redid the What Are The Kargrandes site, transferring it to Blogger and composing all of the slides into a video instead. Now I only need to keep up with the domain costs.

The Deja-Vu Blogfest is back!
December 16-18
Hosted by DL Hammons

New Releases

When Animals Attack is now available!
Edited by Vanessa Morgan
The definitive horror movie guide for fans of killer animals and “revenge of nature” films. When Animals Attack: The 70 Best Horror Movies with Killer Animals provides a fascinating and entertaining insight into the cinematographic world of animals on the rampage.
My piece is on the giant crocodile flick, Lake Placid, and Christine Rains covers Snakes on a Plane.
Find it at Amazon, Amazon UK, Amazon FR, and Goodreads

Six Strings Issue #9
Edited by Jeremy Hawkins
It features: RETRO [INTERVIEW] with actor Chris Sarandon from Days of the Dead [Chicago]
Our FRIGHT NIGHT [REUNION] at Days of the Dead
Thank You, Zack Snyder for BATMAN VS. SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE!!! by: Jason Lee Knight [KNIGHT at the MOVIES]
BLUE ROOM [INTERVIEW] - with Composer... David Schwartz - Netflix’s “Lady Dynamite” [2016]
“Getting” Weird: When a Subgenre is a Subgenre and its Shadow is Over More Than Innsmouth (Part Two) - By: KC Redding-Gonzalez
The Side-Effects of Special Effects in Horror - by: By: Christina Persaud
RED ROOM [INTERVIEW] - with Musical artists... King Llama “RETURN TO OX” [2016]
Sixth Annual Maleficium Dark Art Exhibition. Westmont, Illinois
Download your free issues HERE

As We Know It by Carrie Butler

Deep beneath the ocean, stretching hundreds of miles alongside the Pacific Northwest coastline, lies the Cascadia subduction zone—a fault on the verge of unleashing a catastrophic earthquake, thirty times more powerful than the San Andreas. Unfortunately, like most tourists, Elena Cordova is oblivious.

Find it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iTunes, and check out the trailer on YouTube

Devon Townsend Project

Recently I blogged about the new Devon Townsend Project album. At the time, the official video was only on Vimeo, but now it’s on YouTube, so you can now see this epic video performance of Stormbending:

Now, just to give you a comparison, here is Devon Townsend’s first big singing gig twenty-three years ago in Steve Vai’s band. While the song might not appeal to you, I have to ask – does Townsend not look like a cenobite from Hellraiser?

Anyone seen a concert that was more like a production? Excited for the next Apes movie? TSO put you in the Christmas spirit? Ever seen Lake Placid? And did Townsend not look like a cenobite in that clip?

Don’t forget to visit Karen Lange!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Insecure Writer’s Support Group. CassaDawn Release, Guardians Vol. 2 Trailer, Dragon on Audio, December Movies, New Releases, and Ninja News!

Plot twist! Since Lynda interviewed me her, I turned around and interviewed Lynda at her SITE! Please take time to visit her.

Visit the IWSG site for a chance to win a book on audio book production!

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

My awesome co-hosts today are Jennifer Hawes, Jen Chandler, Nick Wilford, Juneta Key, JH Moncrieff, Diane Burton, and MJ Fifield!
December Question: In terms of your writing career, where do you see yourself five years from now, and what’s your plan to get there?
Seeing as I didn’t really plan the first five years… I’m just aiming for shorter stories to maintain and continued growth for the IWSG.

And today I can announce the release of one of those short stories!

CassaDawn by Alex J. Cavanaugh
Science Fiction-Space Opera/Adventure/Military
eBook ISBN 9781939844354

The prequel to the Amazon best-selling Cassa series!

A pilot in training...
Fighting the odds, Byron is determined to complete Cosbolt training. Poised at the top of his class, only one situation holds him back–his inability to work with anyone in the cockpit. Byron’s excellent piloting skills won’t be enough without a good navigator…

Find it at: iTunes, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Amazon UK, and Goodreads

Dragon on Audio

Plus I have another release!

Dragon of the Stars
By Alex J. Cavanaugh
Science Fiction – Space Opera/Adventure/Military

The ship of legends…

Find it on iTunes, Audible, and Amazon

And you can win a copy!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

My short story, Dragon’s Destiny, is available for free to anyone who has read Dragon of the Stars! Just send me an email, tell me what happens to Aden at the end of Dragon of the Stars, and tell me if you want ePub or Mobi.

And Truedessa wrote the most amazing poem/story about Aden and Tamsin! You have to read it.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Trailer

Just in case you missed it!

Ninja News

T.S. Hendrik from The Non Review has started an online business with his mother and brother selling greeting cards. There are some really cool looking cards on the site, so check out Under a Tree Prints.

Patricia Lynne is doing a New Year New Reads special. For details or to join the fun, see her site.

New Releases

A Thousand Miles by Pat Hatt
Find it on Amazon

Fifth Season by Sandra Ulbrich Almazan
Find your retailer here.

Wraith of Talera and Gods of Talera by Charles Gramlich
Find Wraith of Talera at Amazon
Find Gods of Talera at Amazon

December Movie Preview

Since I’m late with the upcoming releases for December, I’m just listing the ones that interest me. As always, descriptions courtesy of the IMDB. Snark provided by me.

16 -

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
The Rebellion makes a risky move to steal the plans to the Death Star, setting up the epic saga to follow.
Director: Gareth Edwards
Stars: Felicity Jones, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk, Ben Mendelsohn
It’s going to make a billion dollars. Haters, just shut up and go see it!

23 –

A koala named Buster Moon has one final chance to restore his theater to its former glory by producing the world's greatest singing competition.
Directors: Garth Jennings | Christophe Lourdelet
Stars: Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Seth MacFarlane, Scarlett Johansson
The only thing more annoying than watching animated animals sing songs I dislike is watching the actual artists sing them. Actually, it looks fun.

Assassin’s Creed
When Callum Lynch explores the memories of his ancestor Aguilar and gains the skills of a Master Assassin, he discovers he is a descendant of the secret Assassins society.
Director: Justin Kurzel
Stars: Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons, Brendan Gleeson
Hopefully their creed is thou shall not suck. If not for the cast, I’d write this off as another video game dumpster fire.

Do you have a five year plan? Picking up CassaDawn? Want to win a copy of Dragon on audio? Joining the New Year New Reads? And what movies do you want to see this month?
Be sure to visit Lynda Young and the IWSG site!