Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The iPhone 6S is damn near waterproof. Watch this video and see for yourself.

A few years ago I dropped my iPhone 4 in a hot tub. It was instantly ruined. Because I was on contract, the cost to replace it was around $600.00. But I didn't really have much of a choice as I was not even home at the time and doing some important things that needed to get done with my parents and I couldn't be without a phone. So yeah, it sucked. Ever since then I've paid for the Apple Care Protection Plan whenever I upgraded a phone (it costs an additional $100) because Apple will replace your phone if anything happens to it, and that includes dropping it in a hot tub.

I knew that Apple was working on trying to get all of their internal components waterproof, but I was really surprised at how it could stay submerged in a bowl of water for an hour and wasn't even harmed. This goes beyond even a waterproof case (which tend to look extremely ugly) and defeat the purpose of spending money on some tech bling. With all of their other developments (better camera, instant gif maker, etc.) it makes me really wish I'd waited to upgrade my iPhone 4S to the iPhone 6s. It also makes me think that the iPhone 7 will most likely be completely waterproof.

The biggest surprise: I haven't heard of any of the waterproofing capabilities mentioned by Apple in their advertising. I think that would be a great selling point. No wonder they shattered records when it went on sale the other day.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Are two spaces after a period a deal breaker in a relationship? Bloom County's Sunday comic says yes.

In this Sunday's Bloom County by master comic artist Berkeley Breathed (if you don't follow Bloom County on Facebook then you should), Opus gives us the importance of his campaign platform: having two spaces after a period. I guess "space really is the final frontier."

All of us writers get it, don't we? Don't all of us want two spaces again? This is a campaign worth the presidency people! I hope you giggled as much as I did.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Heroes Reborn seems like a solid sequel to the original series and Katana Girl is my favorite evo thus far

I watched Heroes Reborn last night, and I enjoyed it. But I also felt like there was a lot that I had missed. So doing a little research I discovered that NBC had a web series that leads up to the events in which the site at Odessa goes boom. Who knew?

If you followed the original series, Heroes, at all then you know that Claire Bennett is the cheerleader. It turns out that she broadcasted her powers to the world five years ago and inspired thousands of other evos (this world's "X-Men") to go public with their abilities. And just like in the X-Men storylines, they are discriminated against and blamed for basically everything that's bad in the world (like the terrorist attack in Odessa, Texas). As a side note, why doesn't anyone have a superpower that can clean up the smog above L.A.?

In the ensemble of characters we have Luke and Joanne Collins who are an interracial couple that hates all evolved humans and basically just wants to kill them all (subtle these two are not). There's Tommy who's a kid that can make objects disappear. There's Miko who stars as Katana Girl, and Carlos who's a masked vigilante picking up where his brother left off. The main character appears to be Noah Bennet from the original Heroes series.

Out of all the new "heroes" I rather liked Miko's origin story as I'd never come across it before. A gamer geek finished a very difficult video game called Evernow and got to an unexplored level wherein he "unlocked" the character of Katana Girl. The video game gave him a real address to go and check out. When he arrived at this hotel somewhere in Japan, he found a girl that was the spitting image of "Katana Girl" waiting for him in a room that matched the exact address. She seemed confused and at first booted him out of the room. Later though, she finds a katana in exactly the place that the gamer guy said she would find one and it transports her into a video game where she fights samurai standing in the way of rescuing her father (who is being held captive in a Tokyo skyscraper).

All in all, it was pretty cool, and I've got lots of questions about Katana Girl. For one, did she actually exist before the gamer guy unlocked her? That would be interesting if she didn't. Also, I'm not really sure what Miko's "superpower" happens to be. If it is that she can transport from the real world into a video game by drawing a sword then that seems really confusing. However, it's apparent that she can move from one place to another in the video game and her real life position seems to shift with that. So maybe her superpower is that she can hop into and out of "the matrix" (for lack of a better word).

One thing I can appreciate about a story with mutants is diversity done well (Asians, Hispanics, essentially everyone that Donald Trump hates). However, the whole mutants against regular people storyline has practically been done to death. I like how the X-Men movies are finally (after more than ten years of it) moving away from this kind of tale to fighting ultra-powerful villains like Apocalypse, and I kinda/sorta wish that other X-Men knockoffs (like Heroes) would take a cue from Marvel regarding this. The studio execs need some jerk-face editor cracking them over the knuckles and screaming, "That's cliche!" But it probably boils down to budget, right? You've got to have a storyline that only rarely calls for C.G.I. because doing all of the effects that make us "oooh and ahhh" are expensive.

Anyway, watching Heroes Reborn on Thursdays is easily going to fit in my lineup as I'm not a Grey's Anatomy/ How to Get Away With Murder watcher. Did any of you take the time to watch Heroes Reborn? If so, what did you think? It remains to be seen if this series can stack up to the awesomeness hinted at by CBS's Supergirl (which I'm most excited about). If you haven't checked out the trailer for Supergirl, you can do so by clicking "play" below. Have a great weekend, folks.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Ready Player One is Ernest Cline's first book and it's also a masterpiece

Ready Player One is Ernest Cline's first book. It's also a masterpiece. I can't tell you how many times I felt overwhelmed by nostalgia for small towns and the eighties...a time in my life that I now recognize as being simpler and easier. I guess there's something to the saying that none of us can never go home again. I wish that weren't true.

Ready Player One is a dystopian young adult novel, and it shares with other young adult novels the cliches of having dead parents. The soul of the plot, however, speaks to anyone that has ever played massive multi online roleplaying games (myself included). In the dystopia of Ready Player One, global climate change and the plundering of Earth's resources has made it so that there is tremendous income inequality everywhere, and the poor must live in trailer parks called "Stacks" that are as high as skyscrapers yet they are not fanciful buildings. Rather, they are trailers piled one on top of another via a metal grid that makes this possible. In Wade's trailer (he's the protagonist) there's at least a dozen people including a tattooed aunt with a druggie boyfriend that beats him up when he's drunk.

The rest of the world really isn't any better. The poor far outnumber the wealthy, and corporations enslave debtors to work for them in call centers as technical support specialists for Oasis (the huge online game that is at the center of Ernest Cline's story). The thing I loved about Ready Player One though was the fact that it took me back to my childhood. Halliday (the deceased creator of the Oasis) set it up so that his hundreds of billions of dollars would be inherited by whomever managed to find his hidden Easter egg. In order to do this, you had to find three keys. It sounds easy, but because of the expansiveness of the Oasis, no one had found it in five years. Not until Wade finally put things together and realized that an old Gary Gygax module from Advanced Dungeons & Dragons called "The Tomb of Horrors" was where he would find the first key. And following clues that were in front of him the entire time, he knew exactly where to look for the "Tomb of Horrors," and I gotta say, it's exactly how it appears in the module.

From there it's a trip through all the greatest things that made the 80's "the eighties" including games of Joust and Tempest and Pac-Man, being put into the movie War Games as Mathew Broderick's character, and even taking on the role of Arthur in Monty Python's Holy Grail. And in all of this fun, there is tremendous danger too because the corporation called IOI (which very much wants to take control of The Oasis so they can charge money for it) hunts down and murders all of Wade's family and some of Wade's friends. The CEO of IOI gives Wade a warning in that it's ridiculous to think that the stakes could be anything other than astronomically high because there are billions and billions of dollars to be lost. In other words, IOI will stop at nothing to find the Easter egg.

If you haven't read this book, I strongly urge you to do so. It's great storytelling, and I recently learned it's being turned into a film by Steven Spielberg. I can't wait to see it. And of the books I have read this year so far, this one is among the finest.

Monday, September 21, 2015

In the world of the Walking Dead committing an evil act out of fear is exactly the same as committing an evil act because of intent

Rubén Blades who plays Daniel Salazar on AMC's Fear the Walking Dead, said something really interesting in last night's episode, entitled, "Not Fade Away." After Madison Clark's character returned from her afternoon adventure in which (to her horror) she found evidence that the military "protecting them" was killing innocent Americans, he told her of this story from when he was a boy. The military had come to his village in El Salvador, taken people away, and when he asked his father where they had taken them he was reassured that they would all come home again. He didn't think anything of it until he found them all in the river. His father told him, "Men don't do bad things because they are evil. They do evil out of fear." And then Mr. Salazar said, "My father was wrong. There's no difference between the two."

It's this that I wanted to talk about. At first I thought that Daniel meant there's no difference between evil and fear. However, that didn't make sense. Then another interpretation occurred to me: Daniel was saying that people who commit evil acts out of fear are exactly the same as those who commit evil acts just because, well...they're evil.

Within the framework of The Walking Dead world, I find this thought particularly troubling because what does it say about Rick Grimes? He's our protagonist from the series that launched Fear the Walking Dead, and we ended last season with him doing particularly evil actions out of fear. So really, Rick (who started the series as a hero and with a heart of gold) has made a transformation to being an essentially being the villain. At least that's the conclusion I'm left with when I consider the wisdom of Daniel Salazar's words.

What do you guys think? Is committing an evil act out of fear any different than committing an evil act because you intended to do so?

Friday, September 18, 2015

Are Jim Kay's drawings of the Harry Potter world enough for you to crack open your wallet and buy all these books again?

With over 100 brand new illustrations coming in the illustrated edition of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone I have to ask, are Jim Kay's drawings enough for you to break open your wallet and buy this book again? It's getting released October 6th. Maybe I'll have to make a trip down to the old Barnes and Noble and pick up a copy. I'm sure they shall be collectible, and it'd be a shame to pass up the chance to get them before they go out of print. I wonder if there will be people lined up for a midnight release? Hmm. So many questions.... Click to embiggen any of the images below as they are samples from the book.

If you have a little extra time, please visit my friend's blog found HERE. He's detailing our D&D adventures. It's kind of fun to read about the weird and wacky things that Steve puts us through every week. Disclaimer: Steve likes 2nd Edition D&D which came out in the 80's. When I look back at all of the covers put on modules from that era, they're all so 80's it's kind of funny.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

I'm excited for Sword Coast Legends but don't know if I'm going to pay for the Belaphoss statue even though it's super cool

This is the Belaphoss statue you get when you pre-order one of the
many Sword Coast Legends packages.
In less than two weeks, the video game Sword Coast Legends gets released. This is one I plan on getting opening day. It's been years since there's been a solid entry by Dungeons & Dragons for desktop (and other platform) machines. Check out the trailer below if you are a fan of fantasy-based rpg's. Right now they've got a few pre-order packages. I'm trying to justify the $200.00 package to get both the beholder mini and the Belaphoss statue. It probably won't happen though because I just bought a new laptop.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Author Pat Dilloway has a new book coming out called Justice For All and I really love the cover.

My good friend Pat Dilloway is taking over my blog today to show everyone the cover for "Justice for All." I gotta say, Pat, your skills at making a cover are getting really good.

Justice for All (The Outcast Book #1)

by P.T. Dilloway

Robin Howe was a normal teenager until her police captain father is killed by henchmen of the evil Madame Crimson. When the justice system won't take any action to avenge her father, Robin takes it upon herself. Except her first attempt leaves her nearly dead and with Madame Crimson's people on her tail. 

To protect Robin, her father’s former partner gives her a new identity that sends her to St. Martha’s Academy for Young Ladies in rural New Hampshire. There she tries to keep a low profile, which isn’t easy when Madame Crimson’s spoiled daughter Tonya takes a special interest in making Robin’s life there a living hell. Yet when a rival gangster tries to kidnap Tonya, Robin has to embrace her heroic destiny.
Buy the ebook for $3.99 here ( or the paperback for $12.99 from Createspace (
Author bio:
Patrick "P.T." Dilloway has been a writer for most of his life. He completed his first story in third grade and received an 'A' for the assignment. Around that time, he was also placed in a local writing contest for a television station, receiving an action figure in lieu of a trophy, thus securing his love with the written word. Since then, he's continued to spend most of his free time writing and editing. In the last twenty years, he's completed nearly forty novels of various genres. When not writing, P.T. enjoys reading and photographing Michigan's many lighthouses. In order to pay the bills, he earned an accounting degree from Saginaw Valley State University in 2000 and for twelve years worked as a payroll accountant in Detroit.  

Friday, September 11, 2015

If the Shining and Zoolander were to have a baby it'd be American Horror Story: Hotel

In my mind, if the Shining and Zoolander were to have a baby, it'd be American Horror Story season 5 called Hotel. Basing my opinion exclusively from the embedded trailer below, we've got scary kids (Shining), what looks like a dapper Evan Peters playing some role in the hotel's past (Shining), and then the introduction of characters who are obviously male models with the "over-the-top" casting of Lady Gaga (featuring a mile of hair because...why not?) And yes, this is totally Zoolander, or if not Zoolander then it's the campy nightmare that the sequel to Zoolander should totally be. And ladies, the lesson to learn from this trailer is that a good trim keeps the horror in check.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Yesterday Caitlyn Jenner revealed to Ellen that she's been gaslighted and called it tradition

I'm sure that you (like me) have been following (either to a greater or lesser extent) the transformation of Bruce Jenner into Caitlyn Jenner. If not, you've at least probably heard of it whether or not you actually care. I wanted to speak out about one thing in particular with regard to Caitlyn Jenner, and that is that she has been gaslighted. Because of that I don't think she's the best spokesperson for the queer community. This became all too clear on an interview Caitlyn did with Ellen on her show that aired September 8th. Caitlyn told Ellen "I'm a traditionalist. I'm older than most people in the audience. I kind of like tradition, and it's always been a man and a woman. I'm thinking, I don't quite get it." Ellen's response was perfect on Howard Stern when she said, "She [Caitlyn] still has a judgement about gay marriage." This despite her being a part of the community. Sigh.

Gaslighting. Are any of you familiar with the term?

Gaslighting is a form of mental abuse. It's essentially the attempt of one person to overwrite another person's reality. Gaslighting does not require deliberate plotting. For example, every time an obvious hate crime is portrayed as an isolated case of mental illness, this is gaslighting. The media is saying to you, what you know to be true isn't true.

Gaslighting does not always involve anger or intimidation. And a person that is engaging in gaslighting does not simply need to be right, they also need for you to believe they are right. It's an especially terrifying tactic because the manipulation makes a victim feel as if they cannot trust their own mind, that their memories and experiences are not valid or trustworthy, and that their reactions are illogical and irrational. Common ways to gaslight someone are using terms like:

"You're too sensitive."

"You never remember things correctly."

"You're always making something out of nothing."

Gaslighting. It's awful, but it happens every single day. I guess my only point in bringing this up is that Ellen is spot on and should continue to be influential as far as queer politics go. But Caitlyn is not a reliable spokesperson. She's clearly been gaslighted, and I think that once this has happened to you it makes it very difficult for a person to stand up for others when they're having trouble finding the strength to even stand up for themselves.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The ever-evolving opinions of society have made me more secure when talking about my love for fantasy books and Dungeons & Dragons in particular.

This week for Insecure Writer's Support Group, I want to talk about how writing and reading has changed for me over the years. Specifically, I used to be insecure talking about how I liked writing and reading things that were considered trash. But I don't feel this way anymore. I feel like it's okay to admit to reading comic books, reading fantasy novels, and writing trash of my own. In fact, my own tastes toward writing and reading has become so mainstream that in a way, I'm not weird anymore.

In my youth, being a nerd wasn't a good thing. If you were a nerd, you stood a good chance at getting taped to a pole, ridiculed for reading fantasy books instead of things that were considered intellectual like the Scarlet Letter or anything that Hemmingway wrote. And yeah, playing games like Dungeons & Dragons branded you as a Satan worshiper. You just didn't talk about it if you wanted to keep your books (some parents who found out their kid played D&D would throw their books in the trash or burn them). Others would simply punish them, keep them from hanging out with "bad influences," and increase the amount of time their children spent doing church activities.
This headline and news article is pretty typical of the way people thought of
my hobby when I was a young man. So my friends and I never really discussed
it except among those that we actually knew also enjoyed the game. I want to
say though that I think it was D&D that influenced me to write. I made all of
these characters and used short stories to kind of tell their lives. Did it stunt my
growth? I have no idea. Maybe it did. Maybe if I'd focused on other things I'd
have some great occupation these days and be a world-renowned surgeon. But
it is what it is, and I identify as a nerd and accept that. It's who I am.
That being said, I recently got back into playing Dungeons & Dragons. I used to play it about ten years ago and then quit. With the release of Fifth Edition from parent company Wizards of the Coast I figured that now was as good a time as any to learn the new system and see how much things had changed since the last time I played. I gotta say, I've been having a really good time and as a bonus, I've been making some new friends that are fellow nerds/geeks. This is always good as it's more difficult to make friends as one gets older.

Last night, the new R.A. Salvatore book that accompanies the release of the "Rage of Demons" storyline got released (it's called Archmage), and I downloaded it onto my iPad to read. This book comes along at just the right time for me, what with my renewed interest in fantasy tabletop games and all things "dark elf."

The gist of the story is that in the Forgotten Realms (the fantasy setting for Dungeons & Dragons) all of the communication that transpires between the underdark and those living on the surface suddenly goes quiet. Of particular interest is a drow city by the name of Menzoberranzan: a place that's huge by medieval standards and even more compelling because it's miles underground. As one of the greatest drow cities (that's the race of the dark elves), the overwhelming silence and disappearance of merchants that travel the highways of the underdark is troubling.
This is an artist rendering of the drow city Menzobberanzan.
What basically happened is that a spell cast by one of the most powerful wizards in the city went awry. Intended to seal the power of the drow for good, the spell instead opened a permanent portal to the Abyss, an alternate dimension where the most powerful demons in the mythology happen to reside. So naturally, all of these demons poured through the opening and into this dark elf city.

The cover of the module (to be released later this month) called "Out of the Abyss" (and released in conjunction with Mr. Salvatore's first novel in a brand new trilogy detailing the events I'm telling you about here in this post) features a creature called Demogorgon, a.k.a., the prince of demons. He's a two headed monstrosity that towers some twenty feet tall; the cover illustration shows him tearing down the many structures of Menzoberranzan like they were toothpicks.
This is Demogorgon tearing down the walls and turrets of Menzoberranzan
It's exciting especially considering how powerful and evil the drow actually are as a race. For them to be confronted with something that's even mightier (and possibly more evil) rings of poetic justice. But it could also mean apocalypse for those who call the surface home. I mean, once Demogorgon and his cronies finish the drow off, what's to stop them from pouring out onto the surface world and wreaking havok there? It's just the kind of excitement I was looking for, and it's refreshing that I can feel so comfortable sharing it with you without the feeling of being judged. So yeah that's what I'll be reading this week. :)

I'm glad that I live in the time of evolving opinions. It makes bearing one's true self to society so much easier. And thus, I suppose, it is just another example of how a once insecurity becomes a security once broad acceptance of one's differences is achieved.