Monday, September 30, 2013

Goodbye Breaking Bad. Sundays just won't be the same without you.

SPOILERS AHEAD -- I guess this post is for true fans of the show that tuned into the series finale to watch it along with millions of other people. That doesn't mean that you, my many writer friends, aren't welcome to read it. But I know many of you don't watch television so you may get nothing out of this post at all.

I went to a local tavern/pub last night to watch the series finale of Breaking Bad with other rabid fans. I partook in great conversation while watching a high definition broadcast of it on a 60" screen, eating sandwiches and drinking beer. What a fun time. I told them we should do it again for the Walking Dead.
Anyway, none of my predictions landed where I wanted them. I guess one caveat is that we saw Jesse Pinkman in a flashback to his high school days working on that box I told you about last week. So in keeping with a goodbye dedication, I'm going to reflect on all the ends that got tied up, beginning with...

1) The death of Walter White. I got to hand it to him...pure genius to the end. Rather than succumb to anger over Gretchen and Elliot, he used them and their billion dollar empire to be the best money launderers ever for the 9.5 million dollars that he wants to get to his family. It was great to see Badger and Skinny Pete one last time. I love that Walter finally came clean to Skylar about why he was cooking meth. He admitted that he liked it. He was really good at it, and that it made him feel alive. I think any of us can understand that basic need. When we're really awesome at something, it feels good. RIP Heisenberg/Walter White.

2) The death of Lydia Quayle. She got everything that was coming to her. I loved that she got poisoned by the ricin, and it was perfect that she heard it from Walter White, who tauntingly asked her, "How have you been feeling, Lydia?"

3) Jesse Pinkman lived and got his robot from season 1! It seemed to me that at some point, Jesse had nothing left to live for. However, when he drove away from the compound with Walter White standing alone in his rearview mirror, he seemed glad to be alive. Maybe he can find it within himself to move beyond the swath of death created by cooking meth with his former high school teacher. One thing's for sure: Jesse will never be able to forget his high school chemistry teacher. In that sense, Walter White is immortal. Oh and in season 1, Jesse asked Walt if he was going to build a robot. Walt (at the time) scoffed at him. Well, maybe Walt just needed to be inspired. Embedded in the video below are all the greatest moments when Jesse says "bitch." It'll be Aaron Paul's greatest catchphrase from the show.

4) The death of Todd and his whole murderous family. This was perfect. I thought Jesse might cook a bomb and that turned out to be totally wrong. I found the reality just as satisfying. Walter White rescuing Jesse and then killing Todd's family with a tricked out M60 was awesome. I like how he triggered it to go off when the trunk popped open. I also thought it was great to see Jesse Pinkman strangle Todd to death. Perfect ending to that psychopath.

I wish I could have known Skylar White's fate. Did she go to prison? I kind of think that even with the bargaining chip of knowing where Gomez and Hank are buried that this would not be enough to keep her from jail. I could be wrong though. However using that as a bargaining chip would probably make Marie never speak to her again.

As series' finales go, Breaking Bad's is the best that I've ever seen. I salute Vince Gilligan, Aaron Paul, Anna Gunn, and of course, Bryan Cranston who made it all possible. It's been one hell of a run over five years and you finished it on top. Breaking Bad is easily one of the greatest stories of all time. So goodbye Breaking Bad. Sundays just won't be the same without you.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Ben Bernanke you are my hero. May your retirement from the Federal Reserve be filled with joy.

Fed Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke
I'm sure most of you guys have heard the term "taper tantrum" that has been bantered occasionally on the news in reference to recent pullbacks in the stock market. But for those of you who are left confused by this term, it refers to speculation over whether or not the Federal Reserve will begin to scale back its monetary stimulus program known collectively as "Quantitative Easement." QE3 started about a year ago, and is the third phase designed to nurse an ailing economy back to health through the purchasing of $85 billion in bonds per month. To feel its effect, just look at your savings account. Mountain America Credit Union (my bank) pays .10% on a savings account. Our current inflation in the U.S. is 1.5%. This means that if you're keeping any money in your savings account, it's basically the same as stuffing it in your mattress. In other words, your money is getting eaten alive by inflation. Welcome to the new reality.
The Federal Reserve Bank has an impressive facade.
Why would the Federal Reserve do this? That's a big question, and it comes with a lot of hitches. The idea behind it is to stimulate the economy and grow the middle class. It's resulted in one of the most profound bull markets in history, and I have to say, the going has been pretty sweet. I stopped fighting the Federal Reserve in May. I likened it to a raging river threatening to sweep us all over the falls. In my metaphor, the falls is really a stand-in for "fear" that the stock market will crash and that I (along with anyone else that puts their money into the pot) will be broke and penniless. Sure that could happen. But I could also get hit by a bus crossing the street tomorrow. In the movie, "The Thirteenth Warrior" a Viking tells Antonio Banderas (who's playing an Arab) that "Fear profits a man nothing." I take that saying to heart. So to return to my metaphor of the river, there I was holding onto the branch of a tree being pummeled by the force of this huge river that wants to pull me over the falls. Hanging onto other branches with me are more middle-class Americans. However, here's where the metaphor ends. In May of this year, I let go.
The team of Fast Money talking the taper. When will it rear its ugly head?
Stocks will drop the day it does, but they'll recover. And any drop in stock
prices is just a chance to buy more. It means everything's on sale. And I
love a good sale.
I allowed myself to get thrown over the brink and into the pool at the bottom.

I didn't drown. I haven't lost my savings. In fact, my liquid assets have increased by quite a bit in five months with some shrewd investing that I did all by myself (I paid no financial advisor and I suppose I think I'm smart enough to be my own advisor).

Color me optimistic, but I don't think the U.S. economy is going to crash again for a long time. I encourage all of you that are afraid to invest to grow some balls and put some money in the stock market, whether you choose to do it through your 401K, a 457, a Roth IRA, or through the purchase of a mutual fund or carefully chosen equities. With the Federal Reserve pumping money into the economy, I think it's immune from crashing (unless the government defaults on its debt at which point we're all screwed whether or not you have stocks). And it won't last forever so ride the gravy train while you can. Sure, there will be setbacks, there will be pullbacks, and not every day is rosy on Wall Street. But if you invest for the long term (years and years) then you will reap the rewards. It's better than sitting back and watching your savings account devalue in front of your eyes. I have to say, I was sick and tired of doing that.

In retrospect, I think Ben Bernanke has been an astounding chairman for the Federal Reserve given the challenges he's faced. I think he was truly looking out for the middle class, no matter what people say about him. Sure, QE may not have worked like he intended and that's mostly because the middle class is so underrepresented in the stock market. But I have to ask myself, what other than that could the Fed have done to help the middle class? The economy is a tricky devil, and just handing out money to families might have made them put it into savings. For an economy to pull itself out of recession, there needs to be spending and not hoarding. The complexity of it sometimes boggles my mind, and I understand why there are people whose entire career is spent to try and understand the idea of money.
Will Obama nominate Janet Yellen for the job of Fed Chair? If he does, Janet
will become the first woman in history to sit in the esteemed position. That
in itself is very exciting. I think she'll do a fine job.
For the record, I think Ben's replacement is going to be Janet Yellen. She's touted as the small woman with a HUGE I.Q. Her Alma Mater is none other than U.C. Berkeley, and she served as president of the Federal Reserve bank in San Francisco. She's also one of those people that believes in keeping their thumb firmly on the print money button. Lots of people like to scoff at the Federal Reserve and say, "Ben's just printing money." Well...that's what the central bank is SUPPOSED to do. It's SUPPOSED to print money. Money is good. Liquidity is good. When the economy is flush in money it makes things work smoothly. People can get money to buy houses and to buy cars and to buy the things that they need. That's how economies work. So yeah...I hope Janet slams the "print money" button as often as she can.
Nancy Pelosi. Yeah I know you Republicans out there
absolutely hated her. For the record, I'm not a fan of
Speaker Boehner so I get it. However, I still think you
should read her op-ed on USA Today and try to
imagine how you'd react if you were told over the phone
what got said to her five years ago.
We live in extraordinary times. This is our parent's economy. We can go and blame the past generation; democrats can blame republicans and vice versa. But the fact remains, we are here and this is the way the world works right now. Extraordinary times require extraordinary messures. I don't think a lot of people understand the depths of how close capitalism came to utter destruction in 2008. Recently, former Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi wrote an op-ed for USA Today. In it, she said something that scared the shit out of me (you can read the full article located HERE):
Five years ago Wednesday, when I was the speaker, I gathered the other Democratic House leaders in my office to discuss the latest financial news. I told them that, as a matter of course, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson briefed me on the state of the markets and the financial system, but had not done so that week.
In that time, Lehman Bros. had filed for bankruptcy; Merrill Lynch had faced failure and had been purchased by Bank of America; and, two days earlier, AIG had survived only after a Federal Reserve bailout.
After the meeting at 3 p.m., I placed a call to Secretary Paulson and asked him to come the next morning to brief the leadership. Then came his stunning response: "Madam Speaker, tomorrow morning will be too late."
My conservative friends, say what you will about Nancy Pelosi, but you have to admit that hearing that on the other end of the phone would be absolutely chilling. And of course, you know what followed. Congressional hearings around the clock and emergency measures to approve a trillion dollars in stimulus money because all the facts said that if the U.S. didn't do this, capitalism WOULD HAVE DIED. Our entire financial system would be in shambles. Every single one of us, red and blue, would be destitute. Children would have no future.
Billionaire investor Warren Buffett
But the stimulus alone wasn't enough. So that's where Ben and the Fed stepped in with Quantitative Easement programs to prop up the economy. There are tons of critics (and there should be because that's how democracy works). However, I've felt the power of QE myself, and I've got a new found respect for our central bank. Here's what Warren Buffett had to say of Ben Bernanke's Quantitative Easement bond-buying program:
"The Fed is the greatest hedge fund in history," Buffett told students at Georgetown University. "It's generating US$90 billion a year in revenue for the U.S. government and that wasn't the case a few years ago."
Yes, you heard that right. The math doesn't lie. QE is actually GENERATING MONEY. A LOT of money. How is the Fed doing that? Answer: tons and tons of bonds. Yes, all that bond buying they are doing to stimulate the economy that comes under heavy criticism that the Fed is borrowing from your children's future is wrong. They are INVESTING in your children's future. All of those bonds are increasing in value and paying the government back. In fact, QE may not cost this country a cent if you look at it from a certain point of view. It will make this country money. Neat, right?

It's been five years since Lehman Brothers went belly up, and I'm writing this post to thank Ben Bernanke. I think you've done a wonderful job. I don't care what the critics say. You've made me money, and in a time where scraping by is hard, that makes you a hero in my book. May your retirement from the Federal Reserve be filled with joy.

Today, I'm being interviewed over at Yolanda's blog Defending the Pen. Have a great weekend.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Find out what's at the center of a black hole with an animation explaining some of Stephen Hawking's big ideas

Renowned physicist Stephen Hawking has a new book out. I read his last one called The Grand Design and liked how it explored the dual slit experiment. It provided some inspiration for one of my stories. Sometimes though, his ideas can be difficult to grasp. I love this cartoon that boils them down and provides answers to some of the hardest questions like:

1) What's at the center of a black hole?
2) What happens at the edge of a black hole?
3) Why is Stephen Hawking our most famous living scientist?

In the least, it's the cutest portrayal of Hawking radiation ever even though some old Disney fans might miss this guy:
I sincerely hope I'm not the only one who gets this picture. That will only confirm how truly old I am. Have a great Thursday.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

An island rose out of the sea and I instantly thought of Cthulhu

Yesterday, a deadly earthquake in Pakistan caused an island to rise from the sea. Now, I don't mean to make light of such a tragedy by drawing a connection to fiction, but I can't help but think of Cthulhu and his home/prison of R'lyeh.
R'lyeh by Decepticoin on deviantART
For those of you who aren't familiar with the Cthulhu mythos, R'lyeh is a fictional lost city that first appeared in the H.P. Lovecraft short story "The Call of Cthulhu," first published in Weird Tales in 1928. According to Lovecraft's short story, R'lyeh is a sunken city in the Pacific that makes its appearance for one day every thousand years or so.

Here's how Lovecraft describes it:
The nightmare corpse-city of R'lyeh...was built in measureless eons behind history by the vast, loathsome shapes that seeped down from the stars. There lay great Cthulhu and his hordes, hidden in green slimy vaults.
Norwegian sailor Gustaf Johansen, the narrator of one of the tales in the short story, describes the accidental discovery of the city as a coastline of mingled mud, ooze, and weedy Cyclopean masonry which can be nothing less than the tangible substance of earth's supreme terror--the nightmare corpse-city of R'lyeh... loathsomely redolent of spheres and dimensions apart from ours.

TL;DR: An island rose out of the sea, and I instantly thought of Cthulhu. It's eerie how fiction can sometimes show up in one form or another in real life. Crazy, right?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

All the wonderful television shows I plan to watch this autumn listed in one place

This Fall, there are a lot of shows I want to watch on television. People have been asking me for my recommendations so I've compiled a list of television shows (and when they air) to keep you apprised of what's on night to night. Maybe from this list, you can determine if there's anything there that piques your interest too.

Sleepy Hollow on Fox (second episode is tonight). Anachronism at its best! Ichabod Crane rises from the dead in 2013 to join forces with a cop to stop the Headless Horseman who just happens to be one of the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse. I'm guessing that the first season is going to be all about getting the other three Horseman of the Apocalypse to join him.
Almost Human (November 4th on Fox) An action-packed police procedural set 35 years in the future, when police officers are partnered with highly evolved human-like androids. It has Karl Urban in it and is being funded by J.J. Abrams. That's good enough for me.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (premiere is this week) -- You all should know what this show is. If you don't, then consider nerd card suspended.

Supernatural (October 15th on the CW). Last season ended with angels being thrown out of heaven by the scribe of god. This season should be a war between demons and angels on earth. It sounds like the Winchesters will have their work cut out for them.
Arrow on the CW (second season premiere is October 9th) -- I love this show. Aside from gratuitous muscle shots, the acting is great and the storyline is awesome.

The Tomorrow People on the CW (season pilot airs October 9th) -- this looks like a spin on the whole Heroes thing using the Smallville formula: great looking actors and actresses mixed in with pop music and great special effects. I love the CW. Greatest line in the trailer: "What else can you do 'cept...STOP TIME?" <== That's f'ing awesome. I'm probably MOST excited for this series.

Revolution (second season starts this week) -- The first season almost lost me with all the weird directions it went in. However, I'm willing to see what they've got cooked up for season two. It seemed like the show likes getting me to be remotely invested in a character just to have it killed off or relegated to a minor role.

Modern Family (new season starts this week on ABC)

American Horror Story: Coven (October 9th on FX) -- Kathy Bates is enough reason to watch this season. That, and I like stories that have to do with witchcraft.

The Big Bang Theory (new season starts on CBS this week
Elementary (second season starts this week)
Dragons: Defenders of Berk (second season started last week)
Once Upon A Time in Wonderland (October 10th on ABC)
Dracula (Pilot is October 25th on NBC) It's the late 19th century, and the mysterious Dracula has arrived in London, posing as an American entrepreneur who wants to bring modern science to Victorian society. He's especially interested in the new technology of electricity, which promises to brighten the night - useful for someone who avoids the sun. But he has another reason for his travels: he hopes to take revenge on those who cursed him with immortality centuries earlier. Everything seems to be going according to plan... until he becomes infatuated with a woman who appears to be a reincarnation of his dead wife.

Dr. Who (50th anniversary on BBC America November 23rd and then a Christmas special. Goodbye Matt Smith)
Atlantis (starts on BBC America on November 23rd)
Beware the Batman (has been running for a while now-Cartoon Network)

The Walking Dead (season premiere on AMC October 13th)
Masters of Sex (season premiere on Showtime this Sunday) -- Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan portray the real-life pioneers of the science of human sexuality, William Masters and Virginia Johnson. The series chronicles the unusual lives, romance, and pop culture trajectory of Masters and Johnson. Their research touched off the sexual revolution and took them from a mid-western teaching hospital in St. Louis to the cover of Time magazine and nearly a dozen appearances on Johnny Carson's couch.
Talking Dead (season premiere on AMC October 13th)
Once Upon A Time (new season airs this week on ABC)

So that's everything. See anything you like?

Monday, September 23, 2013

Can Jesse Pinkman build a better box? How will the greatest show on television end?

How will I feel when Breaking Bad finally ends next week? I know I'll be sad, but I think there'll also be some relief. These last few episodes have been hard to watch. Walt's whole family has been swept away by the outreaching effects of being a serial killing drug kingpin, and the one person that he loves the most, his son "Flynn" a.k.a. Walt Jr., absolutely hates him.

So it's been a long journey, but the series finale is now upon us. In fact, Bryan Cranston teased that fans should prepare themselves for a "holocaust" when he chatted with Ryan Seacrest on the red carpet at the Emmy's (as a side note: why does the whole world now revolve around Ryan Seacrest?) I'm also happy that Anna Gunn (who plays Skylar White) won an Emmy for Best Supporting Actress. She deserves it. Just watch her performance in last week's magnificently chilling "Ozymandias." I don't think I've ever talked about an episode so much. Why? There was a lot to say regarding the phone conversation. And well, it's shocking to think that Hank is dead. "You are the smartest guy I know," Hank said to Walter, "and you can't see that he made his mind up ten minutes ago." What a way to go.

So what will happen next week? Walt was all set to turn himself into the police when he saw his old pals at Gray Matter (the company he helped found) basically eliminating all of his significant contributions during an interview with Charlie Rose. And this made Walt very angry. When Walt argued with Gretchen in season one he said, "It was my hard work. My research. And you and Elliott made millions off it." Walter has always felt that his work was stolen from him and bitterly blames Elliot and Gretchen for his lot in life. And here's the thing: we never found out what made Walt suddenly leave Gray Matter Technologies and sell his stake in the company for peanuts.

I expect Gray Matter to come full circle in the series finale. Perhaps Elliot and Gretchen will get poisoned by the ricin? Or maybe, we will come to understand a deeper connection between Madrigal (the company which Lydia works for) and Gray Matter.

The title of the last episode is "Felina." This is an anagram for "Finale." It's also the feminine version of the word "feline" in Spanish. I think this is a nod to Lydia who has captured the eye of Todd. Jesse deserves some payback so killing Lydia in front of Todd would be awesome. However, Vince Gilligan in the show "Talking Bad" dropped one clue near the end. He said that "woodworking" had to do with the season finale.

Here's an interesting quote from earlier in the series. It comes from Jesse Pinkman, and it's about woodworking from the episode "kafkaesque":
"I took this vo-tech class in high school, woodworking. I took a lot of vo-tech classes, because it was just big jerk-off, but this one time I had this teacher by the name of... Mr... Mr. Pike. I guess he was like a Marine or something before he got old. He was hard hearing. My project for his class was to make this wooden box. You know, like a small, just like a... like a box, you know, to put stuff in. So I wanted to get the thing done as fast as possible. I figured I could cut classes for the rest of the semester and he couldn't flunk me as long as I, you know, made the thing. So I finished it in a couple days. And it looked pretty lame, but it worked. You know, for putting in or whatnot. So when I showed it to Mr. Pike for my grade, he looked at it and said: "Is that the best you can do?" At first I thought to myself "Hell yeah, bitch. Now give me a D and shut up so I can go blaze one with my boys." I don't know. Maybe it was the way he said it, but... it was like he wasn't exactly saying it sucked. He was just asking me honestly, "Is that all you got?" And for some reason, I thought to myself: "Yeah, man, I can do better." So I started from scratch. I made another, then another. And by the end of the semester, by like box number five, I had built this thing. You should have seen it. It was insane. I mean, I built it out of Peruvian walnut with inlaid zebrawood. It was fitted with pegas, no screws. I sanded it for days, until it was smooth as glass. Then I rubbed all the wood with tung oil so it was rich and dark. It even smelled good. You know, you put nose in it and breathed in, it was... it was perfect."
So the question in my mind is this: is cooking meth the best you can do Jesse Pinkman? No, I don't think it is. I think Jesse's going to use chemistry to destroy Todd and his family. He's going to create a "better box." Wouldn't that be interesting? He's at his best when his loved ones are threatened, and I think he's ready to die himself to make sure that the deed gets done.

A Reddit user pointed out, the word broken into three syllables spells out Fe-Li-Na, which equals Iron-Lithium-Sodium. The show at its most basic is about chemistry, and Walter White says in season one that chemistry is about "transformation." We know Mr. White is armed to the teeth now, so I think he'll go down in a blaze of glory against the people that he hates the most. Whatever happens, it's sure to be a bloodbath.

I'm thoroughly surprised at the saturation of Breaking Bad in the dialogue of Americans. Mad Money's Jim Cramer referred to it last week in his opening discussion on stocks. George R.R. Martin said that after watching the "Ozymandias" episode, "there's no one in Westeros that's as bad as Walter White. I need to fix that."

Do you have any predictions for the end of Breaking Bad? How will the greatest show on television end? I'm on pins and needles here and Sunday seems so very far away.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Grab your copy of Cassastorm by Alex J. Cavanaugh on Tuesday

Tuesday, September 17th is the official release date of CassaStorm by Alex J. Cavanaugh. It's so exciting, I think I may leave this post up all week long. To celebrate his book, he answered a bunch of questions, and one of them was:

Q: Did you get any input on your covers or was each one a surprise?

A: My publisher's illustrator read each story and then spoke with me for about ten to fifteen minutes to discuss the key scenes. That's about the extent of my input. When I see the cover, it's a complete surprise. Fortunately, it's always a pleasant one as all three covers have rocked! The ships appear different than what I'd imagined, but I think they're much better than my vision.

Thanks for taking the time to answer the question, Alex.
Comment on Alex's blog this week for a chance to win a Cassa mug,
a mousepad, a magnet, and other swag! Exciting, eh?
By Alex J Cavanaugh

From the Amazon Best Selling Series!
A storm gathers across the galaxy…

Commanding the Cassan base on Tgren, Byron thought he’d put the days of battle behind him. As a galaxy-wide war encroaches upon the desert planet, Byron’s ideal life is threatened and he’s caught between the Tgrens and the Cassans.

After enemy ships attack the desert planet, Byron discovers another battle within his own family. The declaration of war between all ten races triggers nightmares in his son, threatening to destroy the boy’s mind.

Meanwhile the ancient alien ship is transmitting a code that might signal the end of all life in the galaxy. And the mysterious probe that almost destroyed Tgren twenty years ago could return. As his world begins to crumble, Byron suspects a connection. The storm is about to break, and Byron is caught in the middle…

“CassaStorm is a touching and mesmerizing space opera full of action and emotion with strong characters and a cosmic mystery.” – Edi’s Book Lighhouse

“…mesmerizing story of survival, personal sacrifice, tolerance, and compassion. It’s a rare jewel that successfully utilizes both character and plot to tell a story of such immense scope and intimate passion…” - Nancy S. Thompson, author of The Mistaken

"Cavanaugh makes world building on the galactic scale look easy. The stakes affect the entire known universe and yet Cavanaugh makes it intensely personal for our hero. The final installment of this series will break your heart and put it back together." - Charity Bradford, science fantasy author of The Magic Wakes

$16.95 USA, 6x9 Trade paperback, 268 pages, Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C.
Science fiction/adventure and science fiction/space opera
Print ISBN 9781939844002 eBook ISBN 9781939844019
$4.99 EBook available in all formats

Find CassaStorm at:
Barnes and Noble
Amazon Paperback
Amazon Kindle

 Book trailer -
Alex J. Cavanaugh has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and works in web design and graphics. He is experienced in technical editing and worked with an adult literacy program for several years. A fan of all things science fiction, his interests range from books and movies to music and games. Online he is the Ninja Captain and founder of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.

The author of the Amazon bestsellers, CassaStar and CassaFire, he lives in the Carolinas with his wife.

Website –
Twitter –
Goodreads -

Writers 4 Writers UPDATE

This Monday is the third of the month (September has really gone by fast guys!) which means it's Writers4Writers day. This month we're helping to promote:

Please visit them to look at their post and send out a tweet.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Are you going to buy into the twitter IPO

Disclaimer: I invest in the stock market. All of this is my own opinion. But I think it's relevant as most of you use Twitter.
The Facebook IPO started out at $38 and then tanked below $20
for a year. Will twitter do the same thing, or will it be the goose that
lay the golden egg? What do you think?
For those of you who don't trade stock, IPO stands for "Initial Public Offering" and is the day a stock "debuts" on one of the exchanges like the Nasdaq or the S&P 500. I leave the Dow out because the Dow Jones Industrial Average consists only of 30 stocks and they are notoriously selective on which stock is on their roster. To date, GE is the only company that belonged to the original Dow when it was first established. All others have been cast out. Just this week aluminum manufacturer Alcoa, tech giant Hewlett Packard, and Bank of America were thrown out/replaced by Goldman Sachs, Nike, and Visa (Wall Street considers Visa a tech company because they use technology to process payments).
This ticker should say "30 stocks out of thousands are surging."
So whenever you hear the radio announce that the "Dow is up 100 points" or the "Dow is down 140 points", they are saying that 30 stocks out of thousands and thousands of companies in the U.S. are having a good/bad day. I usually roll my eyes and say to myself, "I could care less about the Dow. What's the Nasdaq or the S&P doing?" but I usually have to go online for that information. The Dow gets all the news.

Anyway, there's been a variety of IPO's that have soared this year. We had Noodles & Company (NDLS) that started out at $18 a share and doubled to $36 by the end of the day. Sprouts Farmer's Market (SFM) pretty much followed that same path. But I've had my eye on some that haven't gone public yet. It's a short list of companies that I'd like to try to get in on some of the early gravy although the odds are clearly stacked against me as I have no outside connections and am just a long term investor.

Presently, I own POAGX (run by Primecap) as a mutual fund mostly represented by Nasdaq equities, I own Ford (F) Motor Company (I believe in America), and I own Texas Roadhouse (TXRH-I was persuaded by the difficulty of finding a spot in their parking lot on a Friday night). I want to balance my portfolio a little better by the end of the year by either picking up a financial (Goldman), an entertainment (Lions Gate Films), a retail (Express), or a tech company (Twitter or Square sounds frickin awesome).

With the news that Twitter has filed an S-1 with lead underwriter Goldman Sachs, my interest was piqued. A date hasn't been set, but it'll probably come by Christmas. That's just in time for me to have enough money together to buy a block of shares (100), provided they are reasonably priced. Unlike Facebook, Twitter doesn't make much money. According to the news, they generate somewhere in the neighborhood of $500 million (this compared to Facebook's $10 billion). I never bought into Facebook, because I don't like it (I'm glad I didn't because their stock tanked for a year). But Twitter's a little different. I like the whole instant message feel to it and enjoy communicating with my friends and followers over Twitter. And it fills my need for a balanced portfolio by giving me a tech stock!

So I'm asking you guys out there if you are planning on buying some Twitter stock once it goes public.

If you are interested in the other initial public offerings that I have my eye on (I google them once a day to see if there's any news) here's my very very short list:
The idea behind square is absolute brilliance. Too bad there's already
copycats taking away their market share. I guess that's capitalism.
1) Square. Square makes those little white boxes you've been seeing everywhere on iPhones, iPads, and iPods that are used to take credit card payments. The idea is simple and brilliant. That's a winning strategy in my book.

2) Smashburger. Every time my friend James comes into town, he sends me a message on my iPhone that reads "Meet me at Smash." That's how much he enjoys the taste of their burgers.Their books, however, have a story that makes me salivate. 30% growth to date and a market analysis that says the U.S. could support 8000 of their restaurants.
3) Uber. On demand driver application startup called "Uber" appeals to all the millennials. In my opinion, millennials are the most entitled, spoiled rotten generation to ever walk the earth. So naturally an application that allows them to spend twice as much as a regular taxi but comes to their location in a super comfy black luxury vehicle has to be a winner. I want to own some of this company. I was so impressed by the snobbiness of Uber that I even have it featured in my book Caledfwlch (which is filled with lots of rich snobby things like Ivy League college students wearing designer clothes and ordering limousines with their smartphones). As a side note, I even feature a video game machine that cost $40,000 and looks like an egg. Seriously, if we're going to talk about how large the 1% live we might as well go far beyond Sub-zero refrigerators and Wolf appliances, right?
The name of this super-pretentious video game pod for spoiled children is "Oculas."
The price tag will kill you though. But who cares if you're a billionaire or a crook.
I guess in our country those two things are synonymous.
By the way, if you are looking for someone to talk stocks or investments with, I welcome those kinds of conversations. I read Barrons, CNBC, the Motley Fool, Seeking Alpha, and the Yahoo Finance pages as well as watch Jim Cramer on Mad Money every day of the week. I'm also not rich. I'm just trying to take the meager money I manage to scrape together and invest it wisely in things that I think will outperform my savings account interest rate (as should you).

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Is it too early to say that the biggest sci-fi movie of 2014 will be Interstellar?

Interstellar is the next film by Christopher Nolan. Yeah, he's the director that brought us The Dark Knight series and Inception. The film apparently tells a story of space voyagers traversing both space and time.

A synopsis of the film's plot from the press release says it "chronicles the adventures of a group of explorers who make use of a newly discovered wormhole to surpass the limitations on human space travel and conquer the vast distances involved in an interstellar voyage."

The list of celebrities that have signed on to Nolan's project are:

1) Matthew McConaughey
2) Anne Hathaway
3) Jessica Chastain
4) Casey Affleck
5) Topher Grace
6) John Lithgow
7) Wes Bently
8) David Oyelowo
9) Ellen Burstyn
10) Matt Damon
11) Michael Caine

So yeah, I want to know if you guys think Interstellar has the makings of the best sci-fi movie of 2014 cause I sure do. Oh and Patrick, I'll probably be talking about Interstellar for a year now that I know about this (the same as I did with Prometheus and Pacific Rim). So get used to it. Have an awesome Thursday.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The cover for Sacrifice Her by Sheena-kay Graham sure looks incredible

The day has finally come. Time to reveal the cover of Sacrifice HER. Be amazed.
Title: Sacrifice HER by Sheena-kay Graham
Goodreads: Sacrifice HER
Release Date: December 2013

Summary: When a city is at stake, is the life of one sixteen-year old girl worth risking thousands? Deidra Moore goes on the run after escaping from a group of human sacrifices for Bane: God of War. She doesn't believe he exists and sees uncertainty in the scorching desert as a better alternative. But Faux City isn't finished with her and their leader Lord Brinn is ordered by Bane - through one of his maiden worshipers- to bring her back or face dire consequences. In the desert Deidra meets a wanderer named Kane and as feelings spark can they find a safe place to lead a new life before Lord Brinn and his soldiers catch up with them? Yet the question remains. Does Bane really exist and if he does what will happen if either side succeeds or fails? Told in alternating perspectives of both the runaway servant girl and the blonde strong willed leader.

Author Bio: Sheena-kay Graham was never meant for a traditional job behind a desk. Her childhood career plans included becoming a ballerina, actress or someone who helped people. So naturally she decided to be a writer who writes from her bed. Yes, no desk for this Jamaican book lover. No matter if it’s reading, writing or using the get the gist. The love of the written word has always been with her leading to stories, novels, poetry and way too much fan fiction. This Christian woman can be found trolling Amazon online, in local book bookstores, watching movies on the big screen, or in her bed, or reading/writing/on the laptop...again in her bed. Mainly writes YA fiction and is ready to unleash her creativity to wow the masses.

Cover Design: 
Image of woman with flowing hair (purchased): © Transfuchsian |
Cover Designer:  Langao @
And for a final bit of wow factor. Look at what I got for free without asking.
You scored big time, Sheena-kay. I love this cover reveal! What do you guys think?

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Neil Gaiman at the age of seven talking about Scientology is interesting

I discovered this Easter Egg the other day. It's a recording of Neil Gaiman at the age of seven talking about Scientology, and it's quite "interesting." If you're a fan of Neil and have read Ocean at the End of the Lane, you should listen to it. If anything he speaks with eloquence. I can't say that I'm surprised.

Monday, September 9, 2013

If you are looking for a good read Hat Trick by Jeff Adams is well worth your time

Today, I want to introduce you to my writer friend Jeff Adams. I think I started stalking him on twitter because he lives in New York City and loves hockey. I also love his writing. He creates such visceral characters that they just leap off the page for me, and I become completely involved in these fictional lives. If you haven't heard of Jeff, take a moment to read about his latest book. I seriously couldn't put it down and read it in two nights.
Thanks, Michael, for letting me drop in on your blog to talk about Hat Trick, my debut YA novel, which is just out from Queerteen Press. You can find it for download HERE.
Michael and I met on Twitter a while ago and have become long distance writing friends. I was intrigued by his A Crisis of Two Worlds series since it’s got a super smart, dimension-traveling hockey player. I had the pleasure of beta reading both Slipstream and Oculus and am eagerly looking forward to Caledfwlch because I desperately need to know what happens next. I like the series so much, there’s is a brief nod to it in Hat Trick.
Hat Trick’s first draft was written during National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) in November 2006. It was my first time trying to do NaNo and I combined some of my favorite things: hockey, young adult fiction and romance. I had never read a gay YA novel that had hockey players or featured teammates as the featured couple. Even six years later, Hat Trick is the only gay YA story I know with that combination (if you know of a book that has these attributes, please let me know as I’d like to read it).
Hat Trick plays out over the course of the hockey season at Central High School, set in a town outside of Pittsburgh. Central is working to get the state championship back to the school for the first time in years, and its senior lineup is key to that success. Simon Roberts has been on the team since he was a freshman. What his teammates, even his closest friends, don't know is that he's had a crush on Alex Miller since Alex joined the team in their junior year.
Simon keeps his feelings to himself. It's not until during the first game of senior year that everything comes out. Except it's Alex telling Simon that he likes him, which Simon wasn't expecting at all.
Once the guys are forced out of the closet, they do their best to stay focused on the game. There's the state championships to work for, plus the each want scholarships. For Simon, that's a paramount importance since he wants to get out of state and away from his overbearing father and brother.
Simon and Alex have a supportive coach in James Archer. When I started writing Hat Trick, the You Can Play project didn't exist yet. Coach Archer, however, subscribed to the project's mission from the earliest drafts of the story. He doesn't tolerate any sort of  hateful language from his team. He also tells Simon and Alex that their place on the team is secure because what matters is the high quality game they play, not that they are dating each other.
I am a firm believer in the You Can Play project and that's why I'm giving one dollar for every copy of Hat Trick sold to the organization. That way they can make a difference for the real Simon's and Alex's in the world.
If you pickup a copy of Hat Trick, I hope you enjoy it and tell your friends about it too. You can also learn more about Hat Trick at and you can follow me on Twitter for more as well, @hockeyguynyc.
This is Jeff in his hockey gear. Ask him
about the bruise he got from blocking a
slapshot. Yikes!
Twitter: @hockeyguynyc

Friday, September 6, 2013

Walter White as Heisenberg is the greatest villain of all time

Noir fiction for American audiences is when a protagonist (usually a victim, a suspect, or a perpetrator) is tied directly to a crime. In other words, the protagonist is not an outsider called to solve or fix a particular situation. Another quality of noir has to do with the self-destructive qualities of the lead characters. With this in mind, Breaking Bad definitely fits the bill.

With only four episodes left to go in what I am going to say is one of the most spectacular stories I have ever discovered, Breaking Bad is nothing short of a masterpiece of noir. The absolute corruption of Walter White from season one as a chemistry teacher at a high school unable to lie to his own wife into Heisenberg, the ruthless head of a drug empire, is at once astounding and terrifying.

The evolution of this character from merely wanting his medical bills taken care of and securing a financial future for his young wife and children into someone who probably has close to a billion dollars in cash buried in the New Mexico desert has been riveting to watch. We've seen meth heads crushed by ATM machines, human heads mounted on the backs of turtles and wired with explosives, innocent boys shot and then dissolved (along with their dirt bike) in giant vats of acid, and meth cooking in suburban residential homes being fumigated by corrupt insect company "Vamonos Pest." Along the way, Walter White's lies got better and better and even his wife, Skyler, joined him to become Mrs. Evil.

Her evolution is complete as well. In the last episode that aired Sunday, she basically orders Walt to kill Jesse while sitting on the bed drinking some vodka. "What difference does one more make at this point?" is what she asks. It's cold-blooded, calculating, and very logical. How do you argue with that? It's like trying to answer critics of Syria that say, "What does it matter if people are killed with chemical weapons, a bomb, or with a bullet to the head? Dead is dead." I suppose they're right; I have no answer to that question either.
The storyline of this show unfolded with nuanced precision, chapter by chapter, with no detail too small to overlook. Each season of Breaking Bad presented its unique challenges to Walter White. There was Tuco, the small-time drug lord of Albuquerque, who was scary enough to probably frighten any one of us (on the other side of the tube) to death were he to appear on our doorstep. There were the Juarez Cartel assassins who killed those they met with shiny axes while holding blank-faced unemotional stares. I dare to say, their pulse probably never got above 60, even when they bashed someone's brain in. There was the Juarez Cartel and Gus Fring of Los Pollos Hermanos. One by one, each of these villains disappeared in a unique way, because none of them had what Walter White had: pure evil genius.
If anything, Breaking Bad has shown me that the scariest villain is the smart villain. It's the one that outwits you at every turn, who poisons you with ricin, who strips away every avenue of escape leaving you no choice but to stew in silence or be destroyed. In this respect, the character of Walter White as Heisenberg is the greatest villain of all time. With his "Nobel-sized" brain and the ego to go with it, I find it totally believable that he would embrace darkness because the world in which he lived looked down on him, disrespected him, and did not appreciate how smart he truly was. So he seized upon infamy and the pride that goes with it. The world will never forget Hitler, right? Walt probably has similar aspirations for the entity of Heisenberg.

And in the end, there is no soul blacker than Walter White (although his wife comes a close second). Even Darth Vader loved someone. I don't think Walter White truly loves anyone but himself (does he truly love his kids?). He is pure evil. Jesse Pinkman even calls him "the devil," and rightfully fears Mr. White. He should. Everyone should. I've never seen a psychopathic character brought to life in such vivid color. We have been with him every step of the way and only now that we can see the end in sight do we (as the audience) ultimately realize that this has been a story of evil incarnate--the story of an evil so powerful it's capable of destroying anything and anyone that dares to cross its path.

I suppose that kind of legendary power would make Heisenberg smile if he were a real person. As much as I admire what the writers of Breaking Bad have created, I hope he doesn't get away with it. Walt is a serial killer, responsible for the destruction of countless lives. To see him go unpunished for this would be too real because I know bad people do bad things all the time and get away with it Scot free. But I guess that begs the question: can Breaking Bad even have a happy ending? Will I be happy to see Walter White vanquished by Hank? Not only would a happy ending be unsatisfying, but I don't think it's even possible. AMC has given us a show that is destined to become a legend in the annals of T.V. history and just like any good story, it's the quality of the villain that made it all happen.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Dr. Who episode that never happened but should have

Matt Smith is no longer the Doctor, but that doesn't mean visionary artists like K.K. Jordan can't think up some pretty awesome scenarios. For example, how would this episode have ended? For those of you that don't know, the Doctor's sonic screwdriver is the ultimate deus ex machina. It can literally do anything. But it's the ultimate nod to the writers because it's also completely incapable of doing whatever the writers don't want it to be able to do. Does that make sense? You writers should be nodding your head yes.

So yeah...could it turn off a lightsaber? Absolutely. Enjoy the art, I know I sure do. Just for fun, tell me who you'd think would come out on top in an epic clash between these two sci-fi titans!
Art by K.K. Jordan

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

All the parts of me want different things from my writing but I really don't have a concrete plan

Well, it's been almost a year since I subbed my fantasy novel to the Harper Voyager open call, and everything that I can gather from online forums suggests that the editorial staff at HV has winnowed the 4500+ entrants down to less than 400. There hasn't been an update since May on HV's own site, but I expect one to pop up soon. So far, I am still in. It's exciting to think that I am in the top 10%. I suppose there's also that nail-biting insecurity that comes from checking my email every day (as I've done for the last eleven months). One goes through the paces of asking the big question "what if?" a lot.

For example, I ask myself if I would change as a person. Do I really need the validation that would come from a multiple book contract with a Big Five publisher? The answers are ambiguous at best. Yes, I might change because I've felt like a loser most of my life and the sudden success of "hey I'm actually good at something" might make me gloat when I don't mean to. A different part of me looks at all the perceived setbacks I've embraced in the seasons of my life. It's that section that's been beaten down by the reality of life and would just be thankful for a cold glass of water and a spot of shade when halfway across the Sahara desert.

Maybe the key here is to not get one's hopes too high, but it grows increasingly more difficult with each passing day and a shrinking number of those who remain in the pile. They are taking just 12 authors from that open call and making it as far as I have gives me roughly a 10% chance to get in the money. I would just welcome the opportunity to be published by HV as an interesting opportunity filled with all kinds of possibilities. And there's also another part that would be comfortable with yet another rejection. It's a part that says I'm pretty comfortable being where I am as a writer and "no thanks, I'll pass on the external validation. I already know I'm awesome."

So yeah. Insecurity at this point means that all the parts of me want different things from my writing. I guess I have stories to tell just like all of you, but I really don't have a concrete plan. I'm just trying things. It seemed like a good idea to sub to Harper Voyager 11 months ago, and it still feels like a good idea now. I'm just waiting for the shoe to drop.