Friday, June 28, 2013

Idris Elba shows why he's the man in this Pacific Rim clip

In this first official Pacific Rim clip, Idris Elba shows Charlie Hunnam why he's the man in charge. I'm thinking that the girl Charlie's talking about has been the Asian one seen in the majority of the Pacific Rim trailers. And Idris is obviously head of the Jaeger program to build the giant robots. I love it when he holds the finger to his ear. "Do I make myself clear?" Only acceptable answer: "Yes, sir."

I wish I had thought of a story of giant robots bashing monsters, and I'm totally serious. I think a story like that would be incredibly entertaining to write.

Oh July 12th, you cannot get here soon enough. #soexcited

Have a nice weekend. It's supposed to be 100+ degrees every day here in Salt Lake City. I like warm weather, but that's too hot. I'm going to stay indoors with the curtains drawn to keep the sunlight out and the a.c. on. I just hope it's cooler in August when I have to move out of my apartment :(. Alas, the rent has skyrocketed.
Pacific Rim just in time for Christmas. In this article I analyze the different blueprints for the Jaegers and speculate as to their powers!

Thank you Pacific Rim for giving us rockets on the elbow. In this article I'm excited about the first official trailer that has a Jaeger punching a kaiju, augmented by rockets to provide even more thrust. Genius in my humble opinion.

Pacific Rim using a cargo ship as a baseball bat.... The name should say it all, but I wrote this article as an analysis of all the way interesting things that appear in another trailer.

Pacific Rim's focus on size proves it's the man card dispensing movie of the decade. Pretty much I just wanted to post a cartoon pic of a huge robot with a crane standing in for an erection.

If Grown Ups 2 beats Pacific Rim at the box office I lose all faith in humanity. I wrote this to pretty much bitch as to how Grown Ups 2 seems to be generating more interest than this $200 million dollar masterpiece of pure testosterone combined with awesome.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Beware the Batman may be the solution to your Dark Knight woes since the Nolan trilogy has exited the building

Beware the Batman may be the solution to your Dark Knight woes since the Nolan trilogy has exited the building. What woes you say? I'm talking the voices in your head that scream, "Please give us another movie! Please bring back Christian Bale cause he was the best Batman ever!" Yeah, those woes.

But we all know that isn't happening, like ever. So what is a Batman fan supposed to do? Well for starters, I have to say I'm impressed with what I've seen of the new Beware the Batman series that's supposed to air on Cartoon Network starting Saturday morning on July 13th (that's the day after the Pacific Rim premiere in case you were wondering). And yes, I didn't have to look up that date as for some reason...I have Pacific Rim's premiere basically memorized. BTW, Alex Cavanaugh had the BEST comment on my whining Pacific Rim post yesterday when I stated that I'd lose all faith in humanity if Grown Ups 2 ends up beating it at the box office (pre-emptive "shut up" to Grumpy who says it's a matter of "when" and not "if".)

Anyway, Alex said, "If that happens, we can both go out and smack around anyone who gave money to Grown Ups 2."

I totally agree, and it made me giggle.

I've talked about Cartoon Network's other shows (that got canceled) primarily Green Lantern and the Clone Wars. Go here to read my post on Green Lantern. It looks like they are at least making an effort to bring a high quality animated series to life again to replace those that they lost. And that makes me happy. Let's hope that it has a successful run as the Batman is an incredibly popular character. I wonder though if he'll be too dark for the Saturday morning time slot. Batman is the original emo kid I think.

Anyway, if you like computer generated animation, you may want to click on this trailer and take a gander. Let me know what you think in the comments, and whether or not you'll be watching it.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

It's a bad day for bigots. Thank you SCOTUS

It's a bad day for bigots. May the lawsuits against states begin. Thank you SCOTUS for doing the right thing.

If Grown Ups 2 beats Pacific Rim at the box office I will lose all faith in humanity

I love this poster by artist Matt Ferguson. It's a take on the classic Jaws poster using one of Pacific Rim's kaiju. But you know what makes me sad? I read on io9 just yesterday that early tracking of interest in Pacific Rim is way down with it falls behind Grown Ups 2.

I'm not sure why guys aren't excited to see this movie. I can understand women not wanting to see it. But come on guys! Huge monsters and giant robots. How is that not a movie that will take you back to your childhood when you wished you could go and find Monster Island or thought the big snake at the zoo was the best animal there? This movie has a budget of $200 million. Grown Ups 2 has like a budget of (I think) a hundred dollars. Pacific Rim is filled with epic battles made for IMAX glory. Grown Ups 2 is just a running gag of fat man fall down jokes. Sigh.
So yeah...if Grown Ups 2 beats Pacific Rim at the box office, I think I will be very depressed. That would be like Honey Boo Boo getting an award over Schindler's List.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

I'm hooked on Under the Dome, but I wish it had something a bit more positive to say about people

I watched Under the Dome last night right after I watched the Blackhawks clinch the Stanley Cup on national television (for the record, this Blackhawks fan never had any doubt). It'll be nice though next season to see the guys clean-shaven again. I know it's superstition, but not a fan of the Grizzly Adams look.

So here's my confession regarding Under the Dome. I haven't read it. I've only read a handful of Stephen King books. They are Needful Things, The Shining, Dark Tower, and Eyes of the Dragon. I never went "nutso" over Stephen King. He was just one of those authors that I enjoyed every once in a while, but not more so than most any other author that writes speculative fiction these days.

So I go into the pilot episode of Under the Dome without any preconceptions of what's going on or what to expect, and I find myself asking: are people really crazy like this? I realize it's just a fiction, but Mr. King is a profound observer of human nature, and I think he provides us with a "boiled down" reflection on an ugly truth: a lot of us are only civil toward one another because the law makes us behave. All you have to do is check the Yahoo Finance page articles for comments left by people, and you'll see more hate speech and ugliness than you can probably stomach. Just an example: people referring to democrats as "libtards", which is not only a terrible insult but shows the depth of how people 1) are always looking to blame someone else for a problem and 2) how much people hate others that do not share their political views. On a recent article, there were several comments calling for civil war (this basically spurned by the recent drops in the stock market due to panic and fear over the notion that the Federal Reserve may seek to taper its bond-buying program if the economy shows it can stand on its own--a thing that should be welcomed as good news).

In a science fiction setting, it's easy to lose track of the message that people are scum, but it's there if you look for it. Take Berk in Aliens when he screws over everyone with his plan to get the alien xenomorph impregnated in Ripley and Newt and then, he gets caught. Well do people really screw over other people for money? Yes, yes they do. Just this weekend a man was killed over a pair of Lebron James basketball shoes. Let me repeat that because it's a sad sad thing in our country: A MAN WAS KILLED FOR A PAIR OF SHOES. Like WTH?

Of course the news tells us of the Adam Lanza's who murder a school full of children, they tell us of the mad men who drive planes into skyscrapers for the promise of an afterlife that fulfills every one of their desires, they tell us of the Ponzi schemer who bilks people out of their money to live high on the hog, and the list goes on and on and on.

There are so many horrible things that people do to others out of jealousy, anger, hatred, contempt, greed, and fear that I suppose the veil of civilized society is a more delicate thing than I could have imagined. Maybe I've lived under a dome all my life having come from a small town. Now living in a big city, the blindfold over my eyes has been removed. That and I'm in that stage in my life where I absorb a ton of information every day on things that I previously ignored.

So in Under the Dome is it any surprise that the boy athlete from college in love with his girlfriend decides to imprison her in an underground bunker so that she'll realize she loves him (and probably to make sure her vajayjay doesn't go wandering)?

Am I shocked that we are introduced to a drifter named Barbie who kills a man for money, disposes his body in the woods seemingly without guilt and then drives into town only to turn around and save a few people? How can someone demonstrate compassion and be a killer in the same day? I've heard stories of the Juarez Cartel employees in Mexico. Apparently they can behead people that the cartel wants killed and go home and have dinner with their families and children and go to church the next day.

Am I surprised that a reporter whose husband is missing instantly leaps to the conclusion that her husband is having an affair instead of saying, "Oh this is unusual that he's missing"?

Or what about the council man who hints at something illegal that he's been doing while the Sheriff has been looking the other way? I guess we should just expect that corruption in politics goes all the way to the roots. If you run for any kind of public office, you are corrupt. Let's add ambition to the list of things that motivate people to screw over and hurt other people.
Is the Earth just one huge Dome? Are we all trapped?
I'm hooked by Under the Dome, but I wish it had something a bit more positive (naive of me I know especially given that King is a horror writer) to say about Americans or maybe people in general (I only say Americans because it takes place in a fictional America). But it makes me question if the Earth is a dome. As it becomes increasingly more crowded with people, and resources shrink, are we all going to be able to get along with each other? There's going to be fewer and fewer places for people to run to in order to escape other people. I just hope the legitimately good people in the world don't all end up like the poor fat kid with the glasses in The Lord of the Flies.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Continuum asks the question: how much does your memory make you who you are?

Kiera in Continuum
Last night I was sifting through my memories that I've collected in my life and was reminded of a thing that Hannibal Lecter said to Clarice Starling in "The Silence of the Lambs" when she asks him about all of his paintings and drawings. He replies from the other side of the glass, "Memory, Agent Starling, is all I have instead of a view."

When it comes to quality of life, I think memory is one of the most crucial components. Science fiction is replete with examples of entire plots and characters that hinge on memory. Zarkov in Flash Gordon says, "My mind is all I have. I've spent my whole lifetime trying to fill it." Doctor Who says "A man is the sum of his memories, a Time Lord even more so." And Friday night's Continuum episode (called "Second Thoughts") once again brought up memory, only this time it gave it a cool twist because it has to do with memories of a time traveler from the future. In other words, if you come from the future, can any of your memories be real? Or would they be just dreams?

In "Second Thoughts" they introduced a new designer drug called "Flash" which was invented in the future (2077) to help Alzheimer's patients to re-experience a particular memory with perfect clarity. I thought this was fascinating. But in addition to this came a warning to Kiera: the longer she stays in the past, the harder it will be for her to return to the future where her son and husband are waiting for her.

Kiera's actions are literally erasing portions of the future. Only here's the catch: the future is her memory. And with every day, she's making the future that she knows less and less a possibility. Basically, she may wake up one morning and the memories of her life in the future will no longer seem real to her. "One day you're going to wake up and just wonder if any of it ever happened." It's a statement that's both thought-provoking and horrifying at the same time.

So, I guess the big question is: how much do you think your memory makes you who you are?

Are you watching Continuum? It's one of my favorite t.v. series.

Friday, June 21, 2013

The battle between Dr. Strange and Baron Mordo had better trump the one between Voldemort and Dumbledore or else!

So it looks like Disney is going to move forward with a Dr. Strange movie! I know it's been bantered around for years, talked about in whispers, but just yesterday the villains were confirmed for reals, and that makes me excited.

For those of you who don't know who Dr. Strange is, I will tell you. From the very beginning of his story, Dr. Strange was surrounded by magical artifacts. He has a cloak of levitation, this thing called The Eye of Agamatto, another thing called the Book of the Vishanti, and the list goes on and on. He lives in this place called the Sanctum Sanctorum in the middle of NYC, which (aside from having a cool name) has some very strange Escher-esque details and alien-looking architecture. Just like the Batman, he had a personal servant (only named Wong instead of Alfred) who guarded the house in his absence.
Click to EMBIGGEN to read all about the Sanctum Sanctorum. Trust me, it's an
awesome house. I read this one comic where these three magicians entered
his house to fight him and he basically trapped them in there. It's like a Dr.
Who's tardis with never-ending rooms filled with mysteries. Dr. Strange confronted
 these intruders using only his astral form (which limits his magical powers).
Think of the movie The Princess Bride where the swordsman only uses his left hand
to fight because the right is much too powerful
Dr. Strange's roots stem from the mystic East. Think of stories like Lost Horizon and the legend of Shangri La and you've got the total inspiration behind this character. Basically, he starts out as a stuck up neurosurgeon who only cares about wealth and prestige associated with his career. A car accident damages his hands and leaves him unable to work in surgery anymore. His dissatisfaction over the direction his life has taken leads him to the Himalayas where he meets the Ancient One, a hermit who eventually instructs him in the mystic arts.
Click to EMBIGGEN. The Eye of Agamatto is Dr. Strange's most potent weapon.
Now onto the aforementioned villains. According to BLASTR magazine, they are Baron Mordo, Dormammu, and the Mindless Ones. And here's the rundown on what they are/do (because inquiring minds want to know, and I also have pictures):
Okay, not excited about Baron Mordo's outfit, but I think they'll change
it anyway. It just looks way too silly. That's the thing they'll have
to watch in bringing this story to life: cheese. I think Doctor Strange
could easily slide into the "cheese" territory and become like those
terrible Dungeons and Dragons movies on SyFy, or god forbid,
something like Ator out of the eighties. No one that reads my blog
probably even knows about Miles O'Keef and the Ator movies. Count
your blessings that you don't. So bad. *shudder
1) Baron Mordo. This guy was the Ancient One's first student and he tried to murder the Ancient One. Dr. Strange (of course) saved the Ancient One making it so that these two would hate each other for all time. And because they both had the same teacher they're both going to have a similar level of power, which should make for some interesting and exciting special effects-laden battles.
I know, he dresses in purple, has a head that's on fire, and is wearing
red boots. But Dormammu isn't silly. He'll be a great villain. The yellow
belt though has got to go. 
2) Dormammu. He's one of Dr. Strange's greatest villains and is ruler of a place called only "the Dark Dimension." He's also far more powerful in magic than Dr. Strange or even, the Ancient One.
The mindless ones can shoot laser beams out of their eye. That's kind of cool,
right? And let's face it: these will be the equivalent of the droids in the
Phantom Menace, i.e. they can be killed by the thousands and there's always
more and there won't be any blood when they die. It's perfect marketing and
provides lots of action sequences while our hero works his way to one of the
main bad guys. 
3) The Mindless Ones. These are monsters from another dimension summoned via magic to do the bidding of others (they have no will of their own). Think of them as army ants that every bad guy in the Marvel universe wants to control because they can stream out and destroy things when given a simple command.
I loved this scene in the movie Gremlins. It really brought the whole
magic and the mystic east forward to set the tone for an awesome story.
I especially like the three rules. That was clever writing.
Reasons why I'm excited for Dr. Strange: Well I've always liked magic. I liked the Golden Child (I know...I shouldn't because it was terrible but I still do) and I like stories that borrow on Tibetan legends and that go into the Himalayas. It's also one of the reasons I love the beginning of Gremlins so much. I just like how the inventor enters a shop in Chinatown and buys a mogwai after he hears it singing in a basket. That was just really cool. I hope they do a good job with this movie adaptation. I don't think I've any reason to worry because Marvel has been knocking it out of the park for a few years now with their kickass adaptations. But there's a small part of me that worries that Chinese characters will be cast as white Americans. I won't like that one bit if it happens. Here's looking at you Mickey Rooney (in a Breakfast at Tiffany's). If you've never seen the film adaptation of Truman Capote's wonderful book, then just suffice it to say that Mickey Rooney's performance is a slap in the face to every Asian American. When I saw it, I was mortified at how racist and unfunny it was (I'm an Asian American in case you didn't know).
Sadly, I think that this is the best wizard duel ever filmed. It certain tops anything in the
Lord of the Rings films. And I'm saying, Dr. Strange could outdo this easy.
So in finishing, I just want to say that the battle between Dr. Strange and Baron Mordo had better trump the one between Voldemort and Dumbledore in that Phoenix movie. I thought that was the best wizard battle ever. But Hollywood, I know you can do better!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The mating ritual of the angler fish reminds me of the Ferali in Brent Weeks' Night Angel trilogy and I think that's truly terrifying

I finished reading these books. Decent, but by far the best part was Mr. Weeks'
monster creation. His monsters made me keep turning each page looking for more.
Here in Utah, there are lots of black widow spiders. I've never liked them much, and I know they're name is synonymous for women who marry and then kill their mates. However, last night I was doing my usual bored surfing of the web, and I came across a YouTube video called "Facts about the Angler Fish," which really made me feel for the poor male angler fish. His fate seems worse than what happens to the male black widow spider. I mean...the male just gets killed and eaten by the female spider. Horrific, right?
I read this and thought, "some people are such douchebags." 
But what the female angler fish does to the poor male angler fish is like an aquatic version of the nightmarish movie, "The Human Centipede." For those of you who are unfamiliar with this "masterwork" of gorn (that's an amalgamation of the words "porn" and "gore"), in the "Human Centipede" two unsuspecting ladies who are driving alone in the wilderness of Germany are kidnapped by an evil doctor who is famous for his work with conjoined twins. Needless to say, he's moved onto "other" experiments of combining animals to create new lifeforms and decides that these ladies shall become unwilling participants in his fantasy to create a centipede (only one made from humans). That's where I'm going to stop with the description of this plot and let you google it yourself if you're curious as to how the grotesque digestive system is supposed to work. Now, back to my angler fish story.
So what is it that the female angler fish does that is worse than a black widow spider killing and eating her mate? Well, I suppose it's a matter of perspective, but from my point of view it sounds bad. The female angler fish attaches him to her body and digestive juices basically dissolve his face and all of his internal organs over time, thereby incorporating his body as a permanent sperm dispensing gonad that she can use whenever she feels the need to reproduce. He literally becomes a lump on the outside of her flesh. Imagine doing that as a human...seeing a boy you like...and reducing him to a sperm dispensing gonad that's permanently attached to your body as an extra flap of skin so that you can go about your business and produce children whenever the need arises.
What a horror story. And this isn't made up, it's real. I wonder if Brent Weeks (who's the author of the Night Angel trilogy) heard about this and based his monster, the Ferali, off of it. I just finished reading this trilogy a little while ago, and I thought the best part of his story went into the monster creation. The Ferali in the book was created by these dark magicians called Vurdmeisters that would grab a hold of one person and torture them until there was nothing left inside of that person except pure hatred. Once they accomplished this, they embedded diamonds into the man's flesh and channeled their dark magic into the diamonds that mutated the victim's flesh and bone structure to be able to absorb other humans.
An illustration by artist Chris Rahn for Wizards of the Coast. I think it
might be for the Magic: The Gathering game but don't quote me on that.
Anyway, it's exactly what I picture a Ferali looking like before it shapeshifts.
The whole "grab onto a body and absorb it" thing is reminiscent of
how the female angler fish treats the male. Click to EMBIGGEN.
Then they'd go to their stockades and cells, grab prisoners, and throw them at the Ferali who would latch onto them (all the while these poor prisoners are screaming) and then meld with them and eventually absorb them entirely. The result was that the bones of the person being absorbed added to the strength of the Ferali's own skeleton. The flesh went to toughen the hide and so on and so forth. A Ferali with hundreds of bodies inside it, could break its own bones and take any form it desired, creating huge limbs to grasp people who thought they were a safe distance away, or to transform into gargantuan animals. They were built for one purpose only: war. Because of their invulnerability, the Vurdmeisters would sick a Ferali on an army of men and the thing would just tear through the ranks, grabbing soldiers and sticking them to its skin, all the while growing bigger and bigger and bigger.

Anyway, the mating ritual of the angler fish really reminds me of the Ferali in Brent Weeks' Night Angel trilogy, and I think that's terrifying. I suppose inspiration for monsters is all around us if we just bother to look for it.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The guy that turned BioShock into a phenom is writing Logan's Run and the gods are pleased

Can this fake movie poster please come true?
Ryan Gosling makes everything better. He
doesn't just look photoshopped, but is like...
a real-life photoshop with the power to lift
an otherwise ordinary movie into the
stratosphere of greatness. Or, I may just
be a big Ryan Gosling fan.
One of my favorite stories is Logan's Run. Just to be clear, I'm talking the book and not the movie with a cameo by Farrah Fawcett who plays a nightmarish plastic surgeon (I also want to add that the movie hasn't aged well at all). Written by William F. Nolan & George Clayton Johnson, the book is one of the first sci-fi dystopias in which a future population and the consumption of resources are maintained in equilibrium by requiring the death of those who are 21 (changed to 30 in the movie). Sound horrific? Well it pretty much is. But horror is captivating is it not?

So why has this movie not been remade? What's the dealio Hollywood? And dystopias are so SIZZLING right now that when I touched The Hunger Games at Barnes and Noble I seriously ended up with first-degree burns! I was so traumatized!

So yeah, dystopias. You've got the one with the girl and the bow, and the other one with the girl who's forced to marry someone she gets matched to in a computer but then sees for a split second someone else's face? And you've got paranormal ones (with a girl), and you've got time traveling ones (with another girl), and you've got political ones (the Handmaid's Tale?). I could go on and on (about girls and their dystopias), but let's just suffice to say that if dystopian books were each a drop of water, you could drown in the ocean of dystopias (provided you were a girl because that's who reads them). Ahem.

So this leads me to my point. And no, my point is not that Ryan Gosling should be cast in everything I watch. Although seriously, he should (and no Grumpy this has nothing to do with his looks and everything to do with his acting talent).

My point is that I was really pleased to learn yesterday that BioShock creator, Ken Levine, has been hired to rewrite the whole screenplay. Just from having seen BioShock, I think this is a good thing. And I hope the movie studio gives the Logan's Run remake a hefty budget because it has all the elements of great science fiction: a futuristic city, robots, and young people with guns (that should make the N.R.A. happy).

Things I remember from the book are colorful tidbits like the glowing cubes where people hooked up to have sex. You could see their silhouettes from the street and the cubes would light up and go dark randomly, giving quite a peep show. Of course, the society is going to be very sexual because the time you have to reproduce (from fertility to death at 21) is so incredibly short. And they really should stick to the age of 21, because that means they could hire the most beautiful young actors in Hollywood to play in this movie. And we all know from watching The Vampire Diaries that young and beautiful is what packs the box office these days (here's lookin' at you Brinda Berry).

I already have opinions about this remake! If I had the director's ear, I'd suggest transforming dresses like the ones that debuted at this year's Paris Fashion Week (happened in March) :

Aren't these just really cool? *Nod your head yes.

So yeah...the guy that turned Bioshock into a phenom is writing Logan's Run and the gods are pleased. Have a great Wednesday.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

I can't understand a word in Captain Harlock but I feel oddly compelled to watch it.

I really have no idea what's going on in this movie trailer. Nor do I understand more than half the words, yet I feel oddly compelled to watch the film and pay full price (especially if it's in IMAX). Does that make me weird?

Well I kind of/sorta can figure it out. There's obviously a bad guy flying the spaceship with the skull on it. And the protagonist looks like he's very capable with weapons, is drawn beautiful, and might be a cross between "emo-kid" and a steampunk version of Han Solo. Oh and there's a white elf girl who is the epitome of grace (maybe she's a Princess Leia who's crossed with an elf and who's allowed to eat one cube of cheese a day to stay so small?). The world of Asian anime is so filled with idealistically perfect and emo young white people that it seems somehow wrong, but it may be a part of their culture (not quite sure). I do like all that fabulous hair flowing around though. I'll say it again. THE GUYS HAVE FABULOUS HAIR.

Oh and did I mention that they have a boy band singing the romance music in the background? Guys, it's like all the marketing in the world is converging into a singularity of something that should be so terrible, it just might be the best sci-fi movie of 2013. And even if you disagree, the event horizon created by combining 1) Asian boy band with horrible English pronunciation with 2) anime elves for diversity and 3) lots of beautifully drawn young white boys with incredible hair, and 4) explosions to get your mind off what may be a terrible plot and 5) what may be some of the finest computer animated sex that we'll ever see, will make it impossible for you to avoid.

I hope that after it releases in Japan someone licenses it for America and makes it available here. It gives me chills the same way that Akira gave me chills the first time I saw previews for it decades ago. So yeah, you should watch the video and see if this sci-fi offering from across the Pacific will jiggle your mojo. For the record, my mojo is still jigglin'.

UPDATE: My new friend "AnimeKritik" uploaded this trailer to YouTube with subtitles! So you can now go and read what's going on in English. Thank you so much AnimeKritic. You are amazing :) And a note to my followers: Please go visit their blog in the embedded links.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Men of Foxwick by Cherie Reich is now available

This cover art is absolutely breathtaking. Brrrr it looks cold though! I hope that
knight has insulation under his plate mail armor!
I'm so excited to be a part of Cherie Reich's cover reveal for her amazing Men of Foxwick short story collection. I read the first in this series called Women of Foxwick last year and absolutely loved it. Here is the review I wrote of it almost one year ago.

Men of Foxwick by Cherie Reich is now available! This fantasy short story collection features five men from the Kingdom of Foxwick.

A blind teen seeks a place in the kingdom. A dragon seer journeys to Wintermill to spy on the queen. A sword master’s worst fear comes true when he fails to protect the royal family. A king falls in love with an herb witch, but will she feel the same way? A hunter will rise to the challenge to hunt down a man-eating monster.
The lovely author/bookworm/arch editor extraordinaire,
Cherie Reich herself.  Seriously, buy this woman's books.
She is going places.

For more information about Men of Foxwick, please visit Cherie Reich’s blog. Also, Cherie has a special announcement for her email newsletter subscribers. Click here to sign up for her updates and receive a coupon for a free copy of Women of Foxwick.

Friday, June 14, 2013

A picture may be worth a thousand words but it pales in comparison to a diorama

As a writer myself (and speaking to all of you writers out there who read my blog) I'm sure you're familiar with the phrase "a picture is worth a thousand words." I first heard it uttered by my father in reference to a Charles Russell print that he had framed and hung on the wall of our home. Called "When Shadows Hint Death," it shows two men struggling to quiet their horses because the shadow on the ridge behind them shows a contingent of native american warriors who would kill and scalp them if they knew they were there.
I used to stare at it every day whilst I toiled to complete my homework. And I definitely understood how a painting could capture an entire story. Charles Russell really did do just that, even though his artwork is a little too "folksy and western" for my taste. However, I can't deny that the man had incredible talent with a brush. But whereas a picture is worth a thousand words, I have to say it pales in comparison to a diorama. Here's one that's in the American Museum of Natural History. It depicts an epic encounter between a giant squid (which we now know definitively exist) and a sperm whale.
The diorama is huge and brings to life a scene that scientists know probably occurs on a day-to day basis. In this dramatic diorama, a giant squid is caught in the sperm whale's mouth, its tentacles grasping at the whale's head. And if you think that's impressive, wait until you get a load of the diorama called Titanoboa, King of the Snakes.
This thing was totally real. It's skeleton was found in a mining area in Columbia and this diorama faithfully constructed from foam by an artist using the scientific measurements provided by the many archaeologists studying this thing. It's freakishly bigger than that snake in the terrible Anaconda movies with Jennifer Lopez and Ice Cube. It could squeeze its prey with 400 pounds of pressure per square inch.

Dioramas are everywhere if you bother to look for them. You see them in theme parks like the Jurassic Park ride or in Haunted Houses. You can see them in Lego constructions (the kind that take thousands upon thousands of lego sets) or in Christmas decorations. Take for example this incredibly detailed High Elf Sea Port from a Warhammer Fantasy golden demon competition. It seems so real, if I were a tiny human, I could live there.
I suppose dioramas are a way we can bring something to life. All that's needed is a desire strong enough to want to go to the trouble to create something in the first place. Have you ever wanted to create a diorama? Perhaps a three-dimensional sculpture of your main protagonist with paint so lifelike they look alive? I'd be interested to hear your thought on whether or not you agree that a diorama is better than a picture when it comes to realizing one's imagination, or even if you're a fan of sculpture versus illustration.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

This summary of the Desolation of Smaug has all you need to know about the Hobbit film

Peter Jackson released the first trailer for The Hobbit this week. If you haven't seen it, you should watch it below. In addition you'll see my specially prepared summary that gives you all you need to know of the movie in three simple panels. No need to thank me. You're welcome. And you get fifty extra nerd points if you know who Daenerys is and why that's significant in the caption I wrote on the first panel. *snicker. I'm so funny.
Your moment of Legolas with eyeliner.
He's so pretty.
Death of Smaug. Hey it's a kid's book. A
kid should be the hero.

The End.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

A supercell thunderstorm that will leave you in awe of its majesty and power

Below is a video of the formation of a supercell thunderstorm that will leave you in awe of its majesty and power.

This time-lapse video by photographer Mike Olbinski is a work of art. He does a lot of these kind of videos and managed to capture this one near Booker, Texas on June 3rd, 2013 (it took him four years to find just the right one to record). I urge you to watch it, and I promise that you'll not regret what you see. I personally think the footage is spellbinding. Note the houses (they are little bumps on the horizon) to give the thing a truly awesome scale.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Da Vinci's Demons and Hannibal are perfect examples of source material that has yet to exhaust itself

Whoever said that all the plots have been written may have been right in the strictest sense of the word, however, the statement does a gross injustice to the inventiveness of writers. A decade or so ago, we saw fairy tale fiction get re-opened and re-examined in a new way with reboots like Wicked and Pretty Woman taking their cues from time-honored stories like The Wizard of Oz and Cinderella. That tradition is alive and well today with the many sequels, prequels, and re-tellings (myself included in that crowd with a sci-fi series that explores the Arthurian mythos through allegory).
Leonardo DaVinci on the left and Count Riario on the right. They are
enemies in the story played out in Starz' DaVinci's Demons.
Recently though, I've been impressed with how writers are exploring "holes" in tales that we previously thought were done. For example, Da Vinci's Demons just ended it's first season on Starz. At first, I was turned off by the immediate killing of a molested boy in the Vatican because he had overheard plans between the Pope (the one molesting him) and Count Riario (who is the Pope's most trusted agent). But I talked with my friend Dezmond at the Hollywood Spy, and he convinced me to give it another go. So I did, and thank you Dezmond.

At the center of Da Vinci's Demons is the tale of Leonardo Da Vinci, a man that many believe could possibly be the smartest man to have ever lived. I for one have seen the traveling exhibition that has turned many if not all of Leonardo Da Vinci's art pieces into actual working models through a grant from IBM. I was impressed to learn that he created things like a spyglass, an odometer, an aqualung, and various weapons that the city state of Florence (in the television series) uses to great effect to defend itself and warn off enemies. So how could a fictionalized dramatic series be made of Da Vinci's life when we already know all about him? I'll tell you how. There's a five year gap in what people know of Da Vinci as a young man, and the series is taking liberties to explore that five-year gap with an incredible search for a thing called The Book of Leaves.
This is the title sequence from Da Vinci's Demons. I love the music, and if
you watch it, you'll see how many of his inventions are brought to life with
special effects that pay homage to the sketches from that time period. 

The first season took us through the Vatican to the mysterious archives where we saw the Spear of Longinus and a sword in the stone among many other wonders. It's absolutely captivating to see Leonardo's inventions brought to life in a speculative fiction way as the young Leonardo is forced to create and use these devices to get him out of some very sticky situations. In the backdrop of course is all the political maneuvering of the era (Florence and the Medici family versus the Catholic Church) and it has all the machinations and plot hooks of a Dan Brown novel.
The tree of political influence, or "Da Vinci's demons." All of these characters
play a part in the Starz series in manipulating, controlling, and steering
young Leonardo's destiny. Will he ever find The Book of Leaves? I hope so.
Click to EMBIGGEN and examine in more detail.
Additionally, there's another series on television that also explores holes in stories that I previously didn't think existed. Hannibal on NBC is based on the Thomas Harris novels, of which I've read all three. Red Dragon shall always be my favorite, but Silence of the Lambs comes in a close second. The actual book, Hannibal, was "meh." I could tell Thomas Harris didn't have his heart in it, but gave us a book anyway to try and "tie up" some things that some thought needed "tying up" I suppose.

So where could they possibly go with Hannibal? Well, in Red Dragon he's already in prison and it's through him that we get to know Will Graham who is the person that caught Hannibal and put him into Dr. Chilton's institute. If you'd have asked me, I would have said "that story is done." But I'm wrong and have been very impressed with how NBC is bringing this story to light. Below, I've embedded the title sequence because I think it's brilliant. It sums up everything about the character using wine (Hannibal is quite cultured) that looks like blood.
We all know that Hannibal is eventually captured. That of course will play out in the series finale at some point in the future bringing us full circle and back to the first book, Red Dragon. The series explores Hannibal's life as a successful psychiatrist and boy, it does not hold back on the gore. In the first season we've seen skin torn from limbs like a rubber glove, human body parts arranged on a totem pole stuck in the sand of a beach, and Gillian Anderson of X-Files fame as a guest star as Hannibal's own psychiatrist. It's an homage I suppose since her character in Dana Sculley was created after the character of Clarice Starling.
Mads Mikkelson is a great Hannibal. He has no problem filling shoes
previously donned by Anthony Hopkins.
I also like that we are seeing the evolution of the character in Will Graham. He's equally as fascinating as Clarice, yet kind of took a backseat to the character played by Jodi Foster in the film adaptation when it struck such commercial gold in 1990 via Jonathan Demme's production that crushed every Oscar category of note.

So a question to my readers: did you watch Da Vinci's Demons, and if so, what did you think of the liberties they take of the historical real-life character? Are you watching Hannibal?

Anyway, I want to end by saying Da Vinci's Demons and Hannibal are perfect examples of source material that has yet to exhaust itself. It kind of begs the question: is any story truly over? What do you think?

I look forward to reading your comments.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Falling Skies is back and the effects are cooler than ever

There are not any real spoilers in this post.
This is the poster that's been online for a month. At right is the Volm. At left is the
new mech/robot that's super destructive and looks rather awesome. The Volm
look cool, don't you think?
Last night one of my favorite series aired its two hour season premiere. I've said it before, and I'll say it again. If you like science fiction, you really should be watching Falling Skies. That being said, I've got one bone to pick, and it's that I don't like the nine month gap in time from last season to this season. At the end of last season, a new alien showed up and none of us who were watching the show could tell if they were friend or foe. Well for now, they seem to be a friend, and that's a good thing because the resistance had its hands full in dealing with the aliens that originally attacked them.
Noah Wyle on a horse makes everything else irrelevant.
The new ones (called the Volm) are really cool looking. They kind of remind me of Guillermo del Toro's Abe Sapien in the Hellboy movies (for the record, I liked Abe Sapien). So that being said, is Falling Skies on your watch list? Is Noah Wyle not enough to lure you to the screen? Is a dystopian post-apocalyptic world where three alien races are currently at war with each other on the surface of the Earth not cool enough to warrant one hour of your time every Sunday?

I hope some of you out there will start watching this show so that we can have discussions about the episodes in the comments!

Friday, June 7, 2013

BBC America's 'In the Flesh' gives us the warm fuzzy zombies we want to hug instead of shoot in the head

Kieran has PDS. He's a Partially Deceased Syndrome Sufferer. He gets
medicated with a drug that regenerates living brain tissue. However,
what he really needs is a hug from the humans he used to think of as food.
Last night I watched the first of three episodes in the BBC America mini-series "In the Flesh." First a disclaimer: those of you who follow my blog know that I'm absolutely in love with zombie apocalypse stuff. After all, I talk about "The Walking Dead" all the time (at least when it's in season). So this review of the show may just be a little biased.

I LOVED "In the Flesh." The main character is Kieran, a Brit and he's a "Partially Deceased Syndrome Sufferer," and the BBC couldn't pick a more adorable protagonist (well maybe "R" from "Warm Bodies" would be a good substitute). I could feel his emotional pain, his longing to just be embraced by other humans, and it tore at my heart strings. "In the Flesh" took my emotions, grabbed them by the jugular, and body slammed them. I can't wait for part two tonight. Yes, I'm begging to be body-slammed yet again.

And I just want to say, that when his parents picked Kieran up at the PDS facility, they didn't hug him. I kept waiting for the hug to happen, and it never did. Why for crying out loud won't anyone hug him? He's just come back from the dead...he's got memories of eating people and is really broken up about it, and no one in Britain has the compassion to give him a hug? Embedded below is a three minute sneak peak of this series. I totally dare you to watch it. Oh and if you missed the first episode, don't worry. They're airing them again on Sunday.
BBC America has been knocking it out of the park for years now. We've got the reboot of Sherlock Holmes, we have the new Dr. Who Series, we had Merlin, Torchwood, and now I have "In the Flesh." PLEASE BBC, you need to make "In the Flesh" a full blown series. IT IS AWESOME! Thank you for giving us the warm fuzzy zombies that we really wanted to just hug instead of shoot in the head. How absolutely brilliant of you.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Robb Stark lost the game of thrones because he didn't play by the rules

Poor, poor Robb Stark.

In the aftermath of the red wedding, do we really know what the game of thrones is? In season one, Cersei tells Ned Stark "When you play the game of thrones you win, or you die. There is no middle ground." I'm sure the ghost of Ned would disagree, but that's why he's a ghost. Cersei's been spouting the rules of the game since the beginning and no one has been listening to her.

If we can take anything away from these three seasons, it's that there are traits that are useful in the game of thrones, and there are traits that will downright get you killed. Robb was a great character. Noble, handsome, young, strong, and a brilliant military strategist. However, the game he was involved in was about none of those things. It was about how to acquire, retain, and use power. Robb failed at all three. Why? Because he lacked: timing, judgment, diplomacy, and discipline. What he had in spades were the traits of honor and conservative inflexibility.

Robb Stark lost the game of thrones because he didn't play by the rules. He needed to look the other way when the Lannister cousins got murdered. Sure they were kids, but in the game of thrones, you don't go and piss off an ally like the one he had in the Karstarks. But he put his foot down and declared the act monstrous. The inflexibility and honor did him credit, but that's an empty purse. He might as well have cut off his own head when he cut off Lord Karstark's.

Robb also lacked discipline. He shouldn't have married Talisa and instead taken one of the Frey girls as his bride. But he fell in love and that makes things all right in everything except the game of thrones. Robb made so many mistakes, and that's why his death is so powerful. It's the pinnacle moment in the tale where we see how the game of thrones is truly played and you're either in it to win it, or you're dead.

I think the best players at the table are the women. Margaery, Cersei, and Daenerys all seem to have the flexibility to embrace things that they despise for a chance to either finish them off later, or to find something positive about those things to further their own ambition. It's interesting that Cersei could have predicted Robb's death. She said, "Love is poison. A sweet poison, yes, but it will kill you all the same."

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Facing Fear Head On

Today is the monthly blog fest run by Alex J. Cavanaugh called "The Insecure Writer's Support Group." You can sign up for it HERE.

My insecurity as of late deals with environmental depression plagued by feelings of fear. I think as humans, fear can become unmanageable. And it's also contagious, spreading from one person to another rather quickly. As a writer, there's lots to fear. We can fear reviews, we can fear crowds, we can fear rejection, we can fear  the industry itself.

There's lots to fear in life too. Who isn't afraid of what North Korea is doing or if the housing market may crash again or if the economy will tank? Who isn't afraid that the bump you never noticed might be cancer? Who isn't afraid that we could die at any time? I think I understand fear better than I've ever understood it before. And in a way, it is a choice you can make. Are you going to be afraid? Or are you going to choose to not be afraid.

For me, I need to choose option two much more often. It's the only way I can grow both professionally and privately. So yeah...I'm kind of making a resolution to shore up my insecurities and do some things I've never done in the hopes that they won't turn out all that bad. How about you? How do you deal with fear?

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Is there real world science that could make Marvel's Banshee fly?

Caleb Landry Jones was the actor who played Banshee
in the Marvel comic movie X-Men: First Class.
As some of you may know, Banshee is a Marvel Universe character that possesses a sonic scream capable of harming enemies, causing physical vibrations, and flying (as shown in the movie X-Men: First Class). I'm ambivalent in my feelings toward this character, however, I was wondering if sound really could make someone fly. It's one of those things that kind of hung in the back of my mind. I know the writers of comic books sometimes go to great efforts to explain superpowers as best as they can using scientific principles to lure the audience into a suspension of disbelief. The same thoughts also go into magic systems, which are all the rage these days in fantasy fiction. So here's the question of the day: is there real world science that could make Marvel's Banshee fly? It turns out that the answer is yes.

Sound by itself may not allow someone to fly around at incredible speed, but it can be used to defy gravity. I guess once you accomplish this perhaps all that's needed is a propulsion system, right? Allow me to introduce you to a phenomenon called acoustic levitation.
Below is a video that demonstrates how sound waves can be used to levitate individual droplets of solutions containing different pharmaceuticals. The machine featured is called (simply enough) an acoustic levitator and was originally developed for NASA to simulate microgravity conditions. It uses two small speakers to generate sound waves at frequencies slightly above the audible range--roughly 22 kilohertz. When the top and bottom speakers are precisely aligned, they create two sets of sound waves that perfectly interfere with each other, setting up a phenomenon known as a standing wave.
At certain points along a standing wave, known as nodes, there is no net transfer of energy. Because the acoustic pressure from the sound waves is sufficient to cancel the effect of gravity, light objects are able to levitate when placed at the nodes. Simple enough concept to grasp, right? I think this video is incredibly cool and you should watch it :) It's not magic, it's science. Have a great Tuesday and don't forget the IWSG tomorrow!

Monday, June 3, 2013

If you hate King Joffrey in HBO's A Game of Thrones you really should blame the Batman

And just because last night's episode of A Game of Thrones featured the "red wedding" event that most fans dreaded was coming, I give you a picture of the Iron Throne that's so epic, it just might all be worth it. Image courtesy of Random House Mexico. On second thought, I guess if you're a Stark, maybe not....
Click to Embiggen. That's definitely a throne room big enough to hold
huge dragon skulls!