Monday, December 09, 2013

Goblin

This past Saturday I had the great pleasure of going to see Goblin at the Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, NJ, which is a pretty easy drive as I live in the state. Sadly, I got lost on the way there but only for a few minutes and then I ended up at the venue albeit not in the direction from which I had expected to come.

If you're not familiar with Goblin, you should be. They're a progressive rock band from Italy that's been around for years and is quite well known for their soundtrack work for films like Suspiria, Profundo Rosso and Dawn of the Dead. That's where I'm familiar with them and that's all I needed to be to want to go and see them as it was their first North American tour ever.

That's kind of a big thing.

It's a shame that more people didn't think so and come out to see them, as the venue was only about a quarter full, if my estimate is correct. That didn't stop Goblin from rocking down the house as if it were a sold out show. They played quite a bit of their early and non-soundtrack work with several of the Argento works mixed in before moving to the second half of the set that featured exclusively songs from the movies. Tenebre, Suspiria--it was all there, including two from Dawn of the Dead and then a bonus track from that film for the encore.

It was fantastic.

They even had a dancer to go along with several songs, wearing a slinky black number most of the time but putting on some zombie makeup before the DotD songs and then switching to a tutu for the Suspiria number. It was an added element of showmanship that I was expecting from them. The audience was very receptive to the group and even though our numbers were small, we put out a great effort to show our appreciation for the work of these monsters of horror soundtrack rock.

The band consists of a guitarist, bassist, drummer and two keyboardists, so you can imagine the depth of sounds that they can create. It's a very full and rich sound that wriggles its way into your brain and gets those limbs a moving and head a nodding.

This is their second leg of the North American tour and they have quite a few dates left, so if they're coming into your area, you would do well to see them as they put on a good show and are a group of very talented individuals. Even if you aren't a fan of horror movies like I, the performance that is put on is easily worth the price of admission.

Also, you can get a cool tour poster like I did, which was designed by Gary Pullin.


Isn't it beautiful? I can't wait to hang it in the living room. Ok, probably the basement, as that is at least mostly my domain.

The opening act, Zombi, was a duo from Pittsburgh and were pretty good. They had that space age prog-rock sound that brought to mind early Pink Floyd and 70s horror movies and are very talented, though a little on the light side in terms of audience interaction.

Check out their website here and see if they're playing near you and support a tour 40 years in the making.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Sailor Moon 3D Card

Another alter. It's on a Moon Knight background because I didn't have anything better in the collection.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

We're All Over the Damn Place...But Mostly New Jersey

Went out to a farm party yesterday for my wife's work and met some new alumni. Well, old alumni, actually. It was Lois, an octogenarian alumna and her daughter, who graduated the year I was born. In fact, all of Lois' children went to VT. She saw my trusty grey sweatshirt and her eyes lit up and we had a splendid chat about the old school, spiders and other things. It's amazing how a simple love of the school can bring people together and it really made my night. Well, that and watching my daughter chase ducks around for fifteen minutes.

Let's go Hokies!

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Pacific Rim - The Novelization

Pacific Rim: The Official Movie NovelizationPacific Rim: The Official Movie Novelization by Alex Irvine
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved Pacific Rim. When I found out there was a novelization of the movie, I jumped on it and picked that sucker up at Barnes and Noble the following weekend. If you've seen the movie, you know what the story is and what beats the book is going to follow. What I got it for, and where it shines, are the little details that help flesh out the world. There are reports on the various Jaegers and kaiju that help make an already fantastic world a little more cohesive and fleshed out.

The plot? Giant robots vs. giant monsters. If that doesn't excite you, well, I can't help you for you are dead inside.

Check it out.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Monday, August 19, 2013

Alone in the Basement

Be productive? Yeah, I guess I could do that. Instead, I'll just play with some toys and do some stop motion.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Pacific Rim

Growing up, I watched a lot of monster movies. I still do, but there was a magic to watching them on the weekends as a kid that is hard to recapture in this day of on demand everything. I might have been a bit of a nerd, but there was no bigger thrill for me than to settle in with a creature feature or two thanks to the various local outlets like Theater Bizarre, Grandpa Munster's Super Scary Saturday and Chiller Theater, as well as the other weekend movie broadcasts. Those were some defining moments for me.

Pacific Rim is a homage to those halcyon days of youth and yet manages to stand on its own even when you take away the crutch of nostalgia. In other words, it's fucking awesome. You see, apparently Guillermo Del Toro had a similar childhood, except instead of writing a blog, he's making movies that kick ass. In making this one, he pays respect to the movies that influenced him and adds to the genre with one of the most entertaining movies I have had the pleasure of seeing in a long time. I don't think I've smiled as much in the theater since I saw Godzilla 2000 when it was making the rounds here in America.

In Pacific Rim, we are treated to a world that become all too familiar with the rampages of kaiju, or monsters, as they crawl from a rift beneath the sea and rampage across the globe. The military, while able to stop the monsters after heavy losses, realizes that conventional weapons are no match for these fierce monsters and the seek another means to terminate these invaders. Thus is born the Jaeger program.

Jaegers are giant mechs that are piloted by a team of two and actually manage to turn the tide of the battle in the favor of the humans. That is, until the creatures coming out start getting stronger and stronger. Pacific Rim follows the pilot of an old Jaeger, Gipsy Danger, as he is brought back into service and joins with other pilots who seek to end the fight once and for all.

I had been psyched for Pacific Rim ever since the first artwork started leaking two years ago and I found out what the plot was about. If there is a movie that spoke to me based on a description alone, it was this one. It sounded awesome and was well worth the weight. The Jaegers and kaiju are fully realized in the film and stage epic fights that you will find yourself grinning like an idiot through. The mechs punch, they bite, they kick, the shoot and do whatever it takes to destroy the threat and the kaiju are no slouches either in the fighting department and truly give the pilots a run for their money.

I don't even want to risk spoiling the experience for you, for that is what the movie truly is. It is a transcendental experience that has restored my faith in the summer blockbuster after being beaten into submission by the Transformers movies. It has given me robots and monsters and most of all, heroes that do their duty. They don't balk at it. They know they need to save the world and that there is no time for dallying.

The soundtrack is pretty amazing too.

Check it out. Seriously. Check it out.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Evil Dead (2013)

I've been slacking quite a bit lately when it comes to movies. I don't know what it is that makes me miss them. Probably Borderlands 2. As I didn't have anyone to play with this weekend and because I wanted to get the release date price on the movie, I picked up the steelbook of Evil Dead to watch this past weekend so I could get my horror movie on.

I'm a pretty big Evil Dead fan, so I had some trepidation going into it. I know the film had the blessing and backing of Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell and Rob Tapert, but that didn't necessarily mean anything. I'm sure a few of the other remakes out there had the blessing too and most of them have been rubbish, honestly. I also didn't like the idea of Diablo Cody being involved, as I loathed Juno, or more specifically, the way she had people speak. Since she was punching up the dialogue, I shuddered to think of what I might hear upon viewing it.

As it was, upon viewing it, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the film. It hearkened back to the original film. Any humor in this movie is dark, not the Three Stooges-esque slapstick of the sequels. And there's blood and gore. It flows in rivers. People lose arms and hands and Chekov's nailgun is fired several times after being introduced in the early parts of the movie. A chainsaw makes an appearance and so does the Classic. It's everything you could want from an Evil Dead movie.

It even had a good reason for them to go to the cabin in the first place. Mia (Jane Levy), is a drug addict and her friends and brother are holding an intervention for her to help her kick the stuff once and for all. Unfortunately, they find a book and its warnings are not heeded and an evil is loosed upon the forest. Mia is the first taken by it and everyone just thinks she's having a really bad time going cold turkey. Soon enough, it's apparent that she isn't and the non-possessed members have to find a way to save her or save themselves.

It's a fun ride once it gets started and I'm happy I checked it out. Jane Levy gives a wonderful performance that gave me chills and the rest of the cast was good as well. The only thing I thought was a little unnecessary was the opening scene, which deals with characters we never see or hear about again who are themselves dealing with an evil in the basement of the cabin. I guess it is there to spell out that the book is looking for someone to corrupt.

Check it out.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Larfleeze #1

I haven’t written about comic books in awhile, mainly because I’ve been lazy and so many other sites do it that it almost seems like my brief rundowns don’t do an issue justice. However, I have taken up keyboard after my reading of Larfleeze #1, the new Green Lantern spin-off (technically Threshold but whatever) by Keith Giffen, J.M. Dematteis and Scott Kolins. Their subject? Why, it’s Larfleeze, the Orange Lantern, of course who, for the unfamiliar, is the greediest and vilest creature ever to come out of the Vega System.

You see, Larfleeze is in a bit of a pickle. His orange lantern, the source of his power, and all of his stuff has been stolen from him. Thus, Larfleeze is depressed and contemplating tossing himself into a space anomaly. While that might not sound like the most promising of beginnings for the first issue of a comic, it becomes a great starting point as we are treated to Larfleeze’s origin story as he recounts it to his faithful butler. Of course we can’t believe half of it, coming from Larfleeze, but it gives a bit of background and insight into the mind of a completely insane and greedy beast of a character who you can’t help but love.

What in lesser hands could be a bland and boring issue, Giffen and DeMatteis offer a fresh and humorous take on Larfleeze’s recounting of his history that will elicit more than a few chuckles from the reader. Unless you’re dead inside. They can’t help that. Everything from Larfleeze’s birth to his acquiring the power of Agent Orange is covered and is frankly hysterical. I usually hate origin issues but this one kept me enthralled and I couldn’t wait to turn the page and see what other mishaps that loveable scamp had gotten into.

Then we get the setup for the next issue and boy, is it a doozy. Cosmically so. And comically.

Did I mention that all of this is visually represented by the lovely and wonderful artwork of Kolins, whose baby Avengers covers are a thing of beauty? Because he brings  his A game as much as the writers and combined makes for a book I didn’t know I would end up loving but did and now I am quite looking forward to the next issue.

If you haven’t picked this comic up, please do. Too many comics are cancelled because they don’t get enough promotion and I aim to see that this doesn’t happen too Larfleeze. He has too much stuff to get back and I want to see him get his hands on every grubby last piece. Hell, I think I’m going to go and read it again.

Also, fuck that half-star review at Comic Book Resources. I don't know what axe that guy has to grind, but he's totally wrong. The book might not be up his alley, but it's a fine piece of work that deserves much, much better than he gave it.

Check it out. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Richard Matheson, RIP

Richard Matheson, the author best know for his books I Am Legend and The Shrinking Man, as well as numerous Twilight Zone episodes, has passed away. Even if you didn't know him from those, chances are you were familiar with his work in some way, as his body of work spanned decades. I know before I even knew of him, I was already a fan thanks to his Twilight Zone work.

In fact, I didn't even know who he was until I was watching the Horror Awards on Channel 9 in the 90s and George A. Romero mentioned in an interview that his classic Night of the Living Dead was based I Am Legend. As a budding zombie fan, I was of course obligated to seek the book out to see how exactly it was inspired. Fortunately, the Science Fiction Book Club was offering it as a hardcover not long after so I was able to get my grubby little hands on a copy.

It would be a lie to say I was immediately blown away by it. That would come a few rereads later, when I was a couple years older and understood some of the themes in the novel more. I, like Akiva Goldsman, missed the point of the whole novel, not realizing that the monster the entire time was himself. I did enjoy it, however, and was reminded of a movie I had seen with Vincent Price called The Last Man on Earth. That was for very good reason, as that movie too was based on the novel, though more closely than NOTLD. At that point, I wanted to find out more about the man and his works.

As I did some research in magazines and other books (the was before the internet, mind you), I found another adaptation of I Am Legend called The Omega Man, starring the NRA's own Charlton Heston. I rented it and thought it was pretty groovy, though a bit mired in its 70s sensibilities but it was a fun ride so I didn't mind. I also discovered that he wrote Somewhere in Time, a movie with Christopher Reeve that I loved and scared the shit out of me with his "Nightmare at 30,000 Feet". I still check the wing whenever I get on a plane. Or just pull the shade down completely so I don't risk the anger of any gremlins. Regardless of that, I thought the man was a genius. I needed to read more.

So it was off to the used bookstores I went. I found short story collections, old paperbacks of I Am Legend and more. I found Duel, which was turned into a movie by Steven Spielberg that I then rented. I found The Shrinking Man and had to check that flick out again. I discovered the beautiful and eerie A Stir of Echoes (a personal favorite of mine well before the movie), about one man who suddenly had full use of his mind thanks to a hypnotist's trick. It was amazing how one book started an obsession with an author, but that's how it usually starts, isn't it?

What attracted me to his work? I think it was the simplicity of the stories and depth of the characters. Some of the most memorable ones of his can be reduced to a line, but it's the brilliance of the writing that makes the tales shine. A lesser writer might take a tale of one man versus legions of the undead and make it a pulpy, lurid tale. Matheson works the prose deftly and spins a tale of a man obsessed, trying to live his lonely life with a mission of curing the plague and ridding the world of vampires with science. Indeed, the vampires in his novel are scientific creations, rather than the mystical bloodsuckers of yore. And it is that mastery of the art that we will all miss.

Thanks to being immersed in his work, I consider Richard Matheson to be one of the chief influences on my own work as I strive to emulate a much richer talent than my own. He will be missed greatly, but his memory will live on in the works of art his delivered to us all while he was alive.

Rest in peace.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

One More Thing

Also, I've been watching Breaking Bad while exercising at night. Holy shit this show is amazing. Dramatic, hilarious and poignant, this show has it all, mostly due to the amazing work of Bryan Cranston as Walter White, but the supporting cast is pretty aces and they all come together to make a hell of a television show. I can't wait to watch another episode tonight, and I'm only on season 2! If you haven't already, check it out.

Radio Silence

Sorry, what loyal readers I have, for the long delay between posts. I've been busy editing the new book and haven't much time to watch movies or do anything fun that would excite my readership. I just wanted to pop in and say that I'm in the home stretch now and I should have the book done and sent out to some prospective agents in the coming weeks. Failing that, I'll just publish the sucker myself again. Gotta build up that library somehow.

Stay tuned.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Scream 4

It took me long enough, but I finally got a chance to see Scream 4, the latest in a series of movies I kind of dig. I really liked the first one, at any rate. I also liked some of actors involved so I thought it was worth a shot since I needed something to watch while exercising.

Overall, it's a decent enough slasher, but not a patch on the original. It takes place fifteen years after the original murders in the film. There are seven Stab movies. Dewey is sheriff. Gale is bored. Sydney has moved on with her life and wrote a book about it and has come back for the book tour. Of course, someone has decided this is a good time to start murdering people again.

For the most part, we focus on a new cast of teens, led by Emma Roberts and Hayden Panettierre. The returning cast interacts with them quite a bit, though their efforts at solving the crimes are rather minimal at best. Actually, come to think of it, not many of the characters seem all that concerned that people are getting killed. People go wandering off alone. Parties are thrown. Girls go walking up into empty houses when they could have stayed with friends. Not the best decisions they've made.

It's a serviceable enough slasher and the costume and look is effective as ever, with Ghostface popping up out of nowhere to terrorize his victims. My only big complaint would be in the ending set piece, where two characters have a rather big brawl despite having lost a lot of blood from stab wounds. That just seems unlikely.

I think ultimately, it fails as it doesn't have enough balls to it and while the newer characters are all up for grabs, the older ones seem safe and untouchable because of marquee presence alone. If the movie actually ended where you think it does, it would have been stellar. Grim, but stellar. As it stands, there's another ten minutes or so to get through and while it is exciting, it undoes all the goodwill that it has earned up to this part.

Check it out.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

RIP Ray Harryhausen

Yesterday, I got the sad news that Ray Harryhausen had passed away. If you're not familiar with him, you should be. He was a groundbreaking animator whose works with models rival or surpass many modern effects in their realism.

Mighty Joe Young. The Kraken. The skeletons from Jason and the Argonauts. Ymir. All of these and more were burned into the brain of a young kid sitting in front of the tube on a Saturday afternoon and helped fan the fan of love for science fiction and fantasy.

Thanks for all the hard work, Mr. Harryhausen. You will be missed, but not forgotten.




Monday, April 15, 2013

Dolls (Why You Should Be Nice to Your Toys)

Sometimes I feel like a bad horror movie fan. As in, not a fan of bad horror movies, but a bad fan of horror movies. Such was the case when I finally sat down to watch Dolls, by Re-Animator's Stuart Gordon and wondered how I could have let this languish for so long on the shelf of the video store as a child. Probably because I don't really remember seeing it there. I remember the cover for Dolly Dearest, but not this one. Which is a shame if my store didn't carry it, for it is awesome.

Though chances are it was in a different section, like kids' films, as this  plays out pretty much like a movie geared towards a younger crowd, what with the whole message that playing with toys is great and you should always stay young at heart. Of course, the brutal murders in it would probably stop me from showing it to my own child.

Probably.

Friday, April 05, 2013

Roger Ebert (1942–2013)

It's a sad day in the world when you lose a figure that you looked up to and turned to for what movies to watch. Today is such a day, due to the loss of Roger Ebert to cancer. While I never met the man, I was influenced by him quite a bit with the consumption of his movie reviews on tv and in print. Indeed, his movie reviews set the bar for critics everywhere to try to aspire to, myself included. Good or bad, his reviews contained actual criticism that backed up the claims of a movie's worth, and didn't just cast aspersions for the sake of humor. His love of movies spanned all genres, and he could wax poetic about Citizen Kane or pontificate the merits of Mighty Peking Man with ease and credibility.

Don't believe me? Check this out.

Back yet? Good. I don't have much more to say except that we lost an eloquent and ardent defender of film and the world won't be the same without his words appearing on a regular basis.

RIP.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Exerwriting or Can't We Just Do One Thing at a Time?

I've seen a weird sort of trend pop up among some writers I follow. You might call it exerwriting, if you're into buzzwords that I just created, or just exercising while writing, which isn't nearly as condensed. Basically, they set up a laptop on a desk that attached to a treadmill and work while they walk. It's gotta be walking, as I couldn't imagine trying to type anything legible at a jog.

I only wonder why do it?

I understand the need to multitask and trying to kill two birds with one stone, but it seems rather pointless to me and against the spirit of how I exercise. For me, it's a way to release stress and to clear my mind for a bit while getting in fighting shape. Sure, I might think about some book points while doing it, but usually I just sort of zone out and run. Plus I work up a hell of a sweat, which would make the keyboard rather nasty. And if you're walking slow enough to write, are you really getting enough exercise to help shed pounds or work your cardiovascular system? Maybe if you take breaks and run at a clip for awhile, but walking just won't be the same thing, at least not to me. I'd rather keep the two separate and focus on each at their own respective time, which can be tough if you're juggling multiple jobs and kids, but you can find the time if you try.

As my cardiologist says, the sweatier, the better. For workouts, that is. It's not like it's some mantra she applies to everything. At least I don't think it is.

What say you? Would you hop onto this trend? Do you see exercise like I do as something, while a necessary evil, a relaxing one? Or would you rather try to get something meaningful done at the expense of the workout? Or some other option. like that suit Prince Xizor wears in Shadows of the Empire that tones his muscles for him.

That I could actually get behind.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Liliana of the Mighty Muggs

Another custom I have been working on, Liliana of the Veil, from the MTG universe and based on artwork by Steve Argyle. The base is a Phoenix Mighty Mugg and she sports two different faces that you can switch by. Removing the hair and turning the head around. Enjoy!



Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Well I Am Crushed

Checked the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award page this morning as I didn't receive an email from them and took that as a bad sign. Turns out I was right. I didn't make the Quarter Finals. That stinks. Ah well. Time to work on another edit of the book and continue writing the follow-up to it. Maybe next year. Unless I sell the novel, which would be awesome.

Monday, March 11, 2013

TerrorVision, In Which I Rant About The Beauty of Diane Franklin

You know when you see Charles Band's name in the opening credits for the film that you're in for a special time, especially when it's for Empire International Pictures, the predecessor to Full Moon. Add in Gerrit Graham and Mary Woronov with a dash of Diane Franklin, and you have quite a treat of a film. Also, John Gries.

Despite the terrifying looking cover, this film is placed firmly in the camp category of horror. From the painted backdrop that stands in for the night sky in the backyard to the swinging single pleasure dome (you'll see), it doesn't really hide this fact at all. In fact, it pretty much oozes it from the get go.

We open with an alien beaming a monster away from his ship at the same time that Stanley Putterman (Graham) is setting up his brand new, fancy-ass satellite dish. The creature, which has become pure energy, flies into the dish and takes up residence in the televisions of the house. Soon enough, it's gobbling up family members and visitors and it's up to the Putterman's young son Sherman and his sister Suzie to try and stop it. Oh, there's also and Elvira wannabe named Medusa that's pretty great as well.

Sure, it sounds like your by-the-numbers horror/sci-fi mix, but it's the execution that really carries it above the rest of it's low budget brethren. Indeed, it's fitting that this movie is available as a double bill with The Video Dead as they both have a similar, campy charm, though TerrorVision's is on purpose and the former simply ends up that way thanks to the amateur acting of the cast.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Slumber Party Massacre

For this week's exercise movie, I decided to go with an oldie but a goodie. Indeed, Slumber Party Massacre is from the Golden Age of slashers and stands as one of the finest of that era.

Don't believe me? Watch it. There's nudity, humor and brutal killings with a drill, all rolled up into a delectable ball of awesomeness that also features a creepy neighbor and a random subplot of trying to find out the scores from the previous night's game. And also Brinke Stevens, one of America's finest scream queens.

And it's also written and directed by women and possibly the world's first feminist slasher movie. It was also supposed to be a parody of the genre but was filmed straight, though some of the humor still comes through and give it a quirky charm. Both of these things come together in the end *spoilers* when the killer has his drill bit cut off, causing quite a look of shock on his face. *end spoilers*

So what's it all about? Well, there's an escaped killer and a slumber party and he starts killing them, hence the title. He actually begins his murder spree well before that, taking out some girls even before the party, but don't worry, there are still plenty of people to kill at the end.

I'm always surprised at how effective the drill is in this movie. He uses it like he's a damn ninja at times, sneaking up on people and then BAM, drilling them to death. It is even used to cut some throats and stomachs too. Mine can barely turn a screw when I use it, so I'm a little envious. Of course, I don't think his spree would be as successful if he had a Black and Decker 9 volt, either.

Also of note is a van scene that I would say inspired the one from Scream 2 that was probably intended to be humorous but instead becomes rather dark. There's also a fun scene that reminds me of the land shark skits from SNL too.

It's well worth a viewing, even though it might seem dated now, the scares are as fresh as ever and honestly it's just a well-made film from beginning to end.

Check it out.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Behold the Glory!

Because everyone needs to see the glory of Guy Gardner riding a unicorn. While wielding the Black Knight's sword. Had to borrow the pony from my daughter, as she has all the best unicorns.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Astrogirl--Pulp Style

Ever wanted to make your own pulp novel style cover? Now you can, thanks to the Pulp-O-Mizer. It's a most awesome web page and a good use of your time if you want to have a little fun and love the covers from the good old days. I couldn't help but make a cover for Astrogirl, though the costume looks nothing like what I had in mind.  You are limited in choices though, so you pretty much have to make do with what they have.

It's still an impressive site. Go to them. Buy products from them. CONSUME!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Friday Night Frights Intro

I can't remember if I ever shared this. I don't think I did. You see, for awhile I fancied myself a little bit of a  horror movie reviewer, maybe even crafting a persona in my head to host my own horror show, like Elvira and Zacherley in the good old days. And Grandpa Munster. I had some skits written out and planned on using a public domain horror movie to start. I even made up an intro for it, as well as a them song.

The name of my show? Friday Night Frights, which you may have seen tagging some posts on this blog. So far, I haven't done anything with it, but I'm hoping one day I can play dress up and do something stupid and funny for your entertainment while introducing some classic stuff.

Enjoy.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award

Awhile ago I submitted my still being edited novel "The Secret Life of Astrogirl" to the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. Nuts, I know, as it still needs some polish and such thing is usually frowned upon and I normally wouldn't do it but I really wanted to get it in in time.

Well, I got notice that I made it to the second round.

A total of 2000 entries out of a possible 10000 submissions have been moved into the next round, and my book is one of them as part of the 400 novels selected in the Science Fiction category.

As you might have guessed, I'm pretty stoked.

You can check the list of authors who have moved on to the next round here.

I'll keep you updated on my progress, as two of the rounds require customer voting and you can be sure I'll be letting you know when you can do such a thing.

Thanks for your support.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Outlines and Outlanders

Today I have finished the outline for the second novel in the Secret Life of Astrogirl series, and will begin writing it in earnest in the next few days. I must say, it went a lot faster than I expected, though I guess having the seeds of a plot even before I wrote the first novel helped immensely.

So what the hell is The Secret Life of Astrogirl? It's my second novel that I deemed fit enough to publish, though it is currently being edited and shopped around. With Lost at Comic-Con, I just wanted to get it out there into the wild. Now I want to get all fancy and have it published by one of the big publishers and maybe even sell out a little and make some money on it.

Wouldn't that be nice?

Anyway, the first book deals with Astrogirl, a superhero who is trying to adjust to having a secret identity after years of living without one and the adjustments she has to make in learning how to juggle the two, a love life and saving the day on a regular basis. I think it's pretty good, but I may be biased. Hopefully, the editing on that can go concurrently with the writing of the sequel.

It may drive me crazy, but maybe, just maybe, I can pull it off.

I'll keep you posted.

Monday, February 04, 2013

Marvel MTG Tokens: Revisited

I just wanted to give a little elaboration as to the previous post. Those cards are tokens to be used in Magic: The Gathering. Wizards of the Coast has standard ones that they pack in the boosters that you get occasionally with artwork that fits the theme of the set. They're nice and all, but I like something a little more fun and that represents my interests better.

Hence, the 3D Marvel tokens.

They're not truly done in the style of 3D MTG cards, as I have done that before and wanted to pioneer a new style that I like to call "lazy". It also helps keep them thinner since I don't have ten layers of cards in each one. Instead, it's about half that.

They're fairly easy to make, which lets me churn out a bunch at a time and since you can end up needing a lot of tokens, this is a good thing. I was inspired to make them after playing with Magic Set Editor at work during lunch. I made up a ton of zombie tokens for Horde Magic using Black Lantern and Marvel Zombies pictures, which look great but aren't super because I don't have a professional printer.

What I do have, is about three years worth of comic and horror cards from my collecting days and a bunch of tokens that are sitting in a box on the shelf, begging to be used.

The first one I did was Ant-Man, which was simple and made good use of him in conjunction with the ant-like art on the Insect token. I knew I was going to run into concerns with the backgrounds for later cards, as I didn't want to use up all of my Zendikar full art lands or use up other tokens and cut my supply further, as for some like zombies, I have a ton, but others I only have one or two of and wanted to get some distance out of them.

So for Captain America and Destroyer, I went back to the box to find thematically appropriate comic cards to use in back of them. It worked, and thus a shitload of tokens were born and are ready to be traded to find a home in people's decks. I just need to get some protectors for them so they don't get damaged while sitting in a fat pack box.

This is the first batch and I have more on the way. Unfortunately, I'm limited to mostly Marvel comics as I didn't really collect DC back then. That is fine with me as more of my market likes the Marvel characters anyway.

Time to break out the razors.

Excelsior.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Dredd

Now this is how you adapt an ultra-violent comic book franchise. No Sly Stallone (sorry Sly!). No Rob Schneider. No taking off the helmet. No, you just have another day on the job for one of the baddest judges around.

Dredd. Judge Dredd.

The film is set in a dystopian future where a lot of the world is a wasteland, and the parts that aren't are covered in sprawling megacities. Of course, when you have that many people living right on top of one another, there's going to be crime and simple cops won't cut it.

You need judges. One man wrecking crews that are judge, jury and executioner when it comes to fighting crime. They're clad in combat gear and visually striking helmets and are armed with Lawgivers, which are basically super pistols that can shoot several types of rounds and are the judges best friend when it comes to taking out perps.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Lizard Sex

I've had it in my possession for awhile, but I've finally gotten to reading V: The Second Generation, which is, of course, the sequel to the original V miniseries from the 1980s. I loved V growing up. I got excited every time it was shown on tv and would watch it and the follow-up mini-series V: The Final Battle with my attention undivided.

I even watched the short-lived regular series and managed to get hold of some of the sequel novels as well.

So you could say I was a fan, though I wasn't crazy about the series from a few years ago,  however hot Morena Baccarin may be. It just didn't have the same magic for me.

You could imagine my glee when I found out there was a sequel in book form.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Mosherpit vs. Cooking

It's a little known fact about me, but I love to cook. And not just cold cereal.

Real things. Like, things that are hot. Possibly even in an oven.

And on a grill. That's just the manly thing to do. And fun. It keeps you warm in the winter too.

I'm not quite sure when this little bug bit me, but I think it was down in college when I was living off campus. Usually I'd be making ramen or some easy, microwaveable dish. But sometimes I wanted something a little bit more substantial and that I could share with my roommates. Something like chili. Or sweet and sour chicken. Or bourbon chicken. Any kind of chicken, really.

And cakes.I loved making cakes.

Usually I would get fancy when the mood struck me, which wasn't often back then. Now that I'm married, however, and have a wife who gets food magazines, I'm struck by the bug a lot more often. Those pictures are very handy. They get stuck in your brain and you just can't help but think about how it would look on your plate.

That happened to me this weekend when I finally gave in and rustled up a braised, slow cooked pork shoulder that was big enough for eight people. It was pretty good too. And oh-so-easy to make. Toss a rub on it. Refrigerate. Put into the oven for six hours. Eat. That's my kind of meal. Okay, there are some incidentals like making the glaze and browning it, but really, it's a super simple dish. I think the hardest part was finding a plate it would fit on when it was done. A pizza dish will work wonders for that.

This is the recipe, for those who are interested. Look at it and tell me you wouldn't eat the hell out of that. You can't, because then you'd be a liar. Or a vegan or something. Try it. You'll like it. I promise. Though add a little bourbon when making the glaze. It does it wonders.

I honestly think my wife leaves those magazines around on purpose, because then she can just sit back and relax white I do all the heavy lifting for a change. That wouldn't be a surprise. She's much smarter than me.


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

I Feel Old

I had some free time after my chiropractor's appointment tonight so I decided to watch an episode of the Graham Norton Show that I had taped from around Christmastime. It had Matt Smith, Amy MacDonald, Billy Connolly, and the main reason for recording it, Jennifer Saunders.

She was one of the first crushes I had on an actress. I discovered her thanks to my love of early Comedy Central, where they played MST3K frequently and Monty Python. One day I saw previews for a show called Absolutely Fabulous, which I could see was about two drunken women and the shit they got into. I figured I would give it a try.

I loved it.

I watched every episode I could. It was funny and witty and British, which was important for a freshman in high school who had recently discovered Blackadder and The Young Ones. But the main reason I watched was because I thought Jennifer Saunders was really hot. In the show she was a bit chunky and had a kid, but that didn't matter. To me, she was a goddess and I would just stare at the screen, absorbing all I could of her.

She haunted my dreams and I'll still watch shows with her in them and feel that old feeling come back.

Now, though, she's a grandmother. And I'm okay with that. It just seems so weird. I mean, I know she wasn't exactly young then, but when your crush has a kid who has another kid, it just makes you realize how fast time flies by.

You know what though?

She still looks absolutely fabulous.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Marysa Responds

And here's Marysa's take on the whole "What is geek?" question that she posed. Great answer, if I do say so myself, and I often do.

What is a Geek?

My friend Marysa over at Limerence + Liquor recently posed a question--what is a geek? I can't really say I've ever given it a lot of thought. Usually it was just something I was called when I was younger, most often in a derogatory manner. It wasn't something I called myself, but what others did because of my interest in comics, reading, D&D and the like. I would usually say I was a "buff" or "aficionado," if I was feeling fancy. Somewhere in the 2000s, The word was taken back by the community at large, not unlike Randall and "porch monkey" in Clerks 2, but the better comparison would be to the word "queer" in the gay community. Now, people call themselves geek and nerd with pride, which is all well and good. But what is geek?

Monday, January 14, 2013

Cold Days

Cold Days (The Dresden Files, #14)Cold Days by Jim Butcher
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Jim Butcher really needs to write about two books a year. It feels like I just got Cold Days and I'm done with it and waiting for my next fix of Dresden and company. Each book is more addictive than the last and each one only sates my appetite so much before I want to consume another one. If I got the book for Christmas, as I had thought I would, I probably would have taken a day off to read it. That's how much I love this series.

It's like eating one potato chip or only having one bourbon. One is never enough. Particularly on the last one. I know I'd be twitching if I could only have just one. Two would be fine, but one just seems unthinkable.

When we last left off, Harry Dresden, wizard for hire, was back from the dead and in the service of Queen Mab. After a brief recovery period, she's ready to use him in the best way she knows how--to kill someone. Along the way, we get reintroduced to Harry's companions as they see him back from the dead, all the while dealing with a new threat to the city that makes murdering an immortal look simple.

Butcher has a way with characters. Easily his strong point and probably why I keep coming back to the series. I care about the characters. Saving the day is almost an afterthought. I could read a book of Harry just playing D&D with Billy or talking to Bob or hanging out with Molly.

Hell, I want to do that too. And so I do, by reading about them. Because who didn't want to be a pretty cool and funny wizard that was more stubborn than strong but seemed to keep on trucking against the toughest opponents and seem to come out on top, though a little battered and bruised?

Really? Just me? I somehow doubt that.

It's a shame that we didn't a larger book in this installment, as it feels like there are some loose ends that need to be cleared up, but those could probably take a book in themselves, so I'll just have to wait.

Check it out. Check all of them out. And if you build a time machine, get me the full series from the future and bring it to me so I can take a week off and finish it up right now.


View all my reviews

Monday, January 07, 2013

The Cabin In the Woods

LOOK. I AM FILM CRIT HULK. Ok, I'm not really. I just forgot to turn the caps lock off and I think his articles are fantastic, albeit difficult to read in the web browser. I usually copy and paste it into Word and convert it when I remember or my brain starts kicking me.

Anyway.

I had heard good things about The Cabin In the Woods. Greatest Horror Movie In Years™ type things. So of course, I missed it in the theaters and had to wait until Christmas when I got it for a present to actually see it. Even then I waited about two weeks because I am a giant slacker. I don't know if I'd say it was the "greatest in years" but it was certainly an awesome film.

I think part of its appeal is the way it turns most of the horror movie conventions on their heads. That always has a broad level of appeal to people. Look at Scream, which did something similar. People love the shit out of that movie, myself included. Not just because it satirizes the very type of movie it is, but because it frames a good story in that satire. Cabin does much of the same thing, but instead of merely calling out to other slasher films and tropes, it actually gives an explanation behind them that revealing would spoil the surprise.

Five young men and women go to a cabin in the woods, but the terror they find isn't quite what you would expect, even though all the hallmarks of the genre are there. And that's where it shines. Of course it's from writer Joss Whedon, who likes poking genres with a stick and seeing what makes them tick and taking you along for the fun ride. The cast includes Thor, who sadly does not get smitten with a hammer and a bunch of people I don't really recognize, save for the guy who played Andrew on Buffy. At least on the side of the hapless campers. In the concurrent story, there are a bunch of familiar faces to choose from, like Amy Acker and Bradley Whitford.

I'd like to go into more depth with it, but I think even revealing a little bit might go to far in spoiling some of the fun for you, so I'll refrain. Just know that it's funny, bloody, witty and one hell of a ride. I do have some issues with the ending, but it's nothing major. They could have alleviated that by simply shifting some of the material to the end and it would have been fine. As it stands, it feels a little sudden. A minor quibble in an otherwise fantastic film.

Check it out.

Friday, January 04, 2013

Prometheus

I have a love/hate relationship with the Alien franchise. The first three movies I absolutely adore. It’s the more recent crap that I hate. The games are pretty fantastic too, with the Aliens arcade game being one of my absolute favorites. It’s just a shame that the AVP movies, which should have been a slam-dunk, were so terribly mishandled and felt more like knock-offs than anything that was a worthwhile addition to series canon. You can imagine my delight when Ridley Scott was proposing to do a prequel to Alien. The originator of the series back for another go-round? Yes, please. Of course, you can imagine my disappointment when the reviews started pouring in and sadly, I didn’t get to see it in the theater as expected, instead I opted for the dvd release.

Sometimes, I think the internet just complains to hear themselves complain. Was it a perfect movie? No. Was it a fine addition to the series? Yes. Did I enjoy it? Hell yes.

The film takes place years before the original, dealing with a ship called the Prometheus that is seeking the Engineers, who apparently are responsible for all life on earth and are the space jockeys from Alien. They find the planet indicated by ancient cave paintings and before long, there are some monsters running around and the scientists begin to realize that sometimes it’s best to let some knowledge stay unknown. It’s got a pretty sweet cast, featuring Idris Elba, Noomi Rapace, Charlize Theron and Michael Fassbender and they do quite well with the material, making us feel like we’re exploring the alien world with them. Fassbender in particular is quite fantastic. Indeed, I could watch a movie of just him going about the ship while everyone else is in hypersleep, as he does in the opening of this one. He’s just that good. Plus, it sort of gives me that Wall-E vibe, and that is always a good thing.

After hearing from most reviewers how the movie wasn’t really a prequel, I wonder after viewing how they came up with that assumption. Prometheus clearly sets up events from Alien, though perhaps not as directly as they might like. It was enough for me and you can make some leaps to connect the two films without assuming anything wild, leaving more open to imagination. Indeed, The Thing prequel lead more directly into the original and was pretty roundly criticized for it. This one leaves a little more leeway without going post to post, especially since they’re on a different planet. I didn’t mind it at all, really.

The inability of the people to turn left annoyed me (you’ll see) but for the most part they acted rather humanly, especially when Charlize refuses to let an infected person on board the ship, doing what Ripley tried to do but was overridden.

I think it’s a worthy addition despite its flaws (moving at almost too brisk a pace and leaving a few plot holes), though maybe I have just been beaten into the ground by AVP. God, those films were terrible.

Check it out.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Happy New Year, 2013 Edition!

It's a little late, but happy New Year to ya'll!

 I haven't been up to a whole hell of a lot lately, mostly just writing the next book and it's outline at the same time. It's a little odd in terms of the way to go about it but I started winging it at first and found I needed a bit of structure so I stopped to outline it. I am at around 20k words for it, which is decent for something that's only just begun. It's a literary romance, or at least as close as I can get to it, which is a change of pace for me. Not quite sure how it'll all unfold but I'll keep you updated and hopefully be a better poster this year, as I  really sucked at blogging in 2012.

I'll be posting more of my other projects as well, so keep an eye out for some 3D MTG cards and the like popping up soon.

Resident Evil: Retribution


I love the Resident Evil games. Even the maligned ones like 5. As long as I get to bust some zombies, I’m pretty happy. It’s a shame that I don’t really enjoy the movies as much. That’s no fault of Mila’s, though, as I think she’s wonderful. It’s just that there’s too much involving the global conspiracy and not enough on personal stakes, at least since the first two movies. I thought they were pretty fun and well done. The next two were a bit dull and suffered greatly from no Sienna Guillory or even fun zombie action. Fortunately, that has changed for the new installment.

At least some of it, anyway.

It’s still more about the global conspiracy, but now Jill is back in her very sexy RE5 outfit and she’s brought along Leon and Barry Burton for the ride, both of whom I’ve been dying to see in the movies since the second one. Pretty sure a newspaper in that one said Leon was dead too. I guess he got better.

We’re back to the secret base location of the first, though this one is in Russia underneath a ton of ice. A pleasant enough change. Mila is being held captive after getting caught in the aftermath of the last movie and Leon and Barry and Ada Wong are the ones doing the breaking out. It’s like a festival of fan favorite characters. Zombies are shot. Lickers show up. Plagas show up. Even the executioner makes an appearance. It is a shame that we’ve only had the tyrant in one movie, as he would make a great villain to fight against. Still, the enemies are plentiful for our heroes to fight. The plagas zombies almost remind me of the zombies from Shock Wave in their relentless nature and military garb, though these use guns and really give our heroes a pounding.

Anyhow, it’s a fun bit of action that doesn’t take itself seriously and kept me amused. Mila puts on a leather outfit early on and Sienna Guillory is beautiful as always and Michele Rodrigquez pops up to play a few different characters and I wish the series would use her more as I’ve always had a soft spot for her growling mercenary act. If the movies continue in this vein, I’ll be back on board.

Now I must go play Resident Evil 6 to get more of my video game RE fix.

Check it out.