Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Ghostbusters 2016: A Review

Let's start.

I give this film a 7.5 to 8/10. I really enjoyed watching this movie. The ladies were funny, and reacted well to each other. Sometimes the two leads played by Kristen Wiig and Mellissa McCarthy, who had "history" fell a little flat, but overall they were entertaining. I have to give props to them being the new players in town, and attempting to provide a deeper backstory to the overall film plot. I think the characters of Gilbert and Yates deserved a mini-flashback to help show how these two came to be. I am just not sure how they could have worked it into the movie without ruining the tempo for the rest of the story.

By far, I fell in love with the characters Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones played. Holtzmann and Patty were some very strong comedic powers in this movie. They each played their parts well, and brought a unique chemistry to each of the scenes they decided to steal. In fact, the first true ghost hunt as "Ghostbusters" these two were the stars. Holtzmann was funny, bringing levity during a scene with creepy overtones. Patty outright stole the show with her commentary. Her presence and responses to the outrageous scenario were keyed perfectly. I won't spoil it here, but there are some Dr. Who fans like my daughter who will get a kick out of at least part of that first capture scene.

Do I think this film overtakes the original? I don't think that is a fair comparison at this time. In some aspects it is a superior piece. Others, it performs less well. In the "Less well..." category I would say that there is some initial difficulty to get the lead characters to mesh. As I mentioned before, Gilbert and Yates need a bit more work to get their history out and laid out. It can be tough though, with the limits of time and proper story pacing to get all of those details out there. I am a writer, and I know how long it can take to explain the backstory of a character dynamic. Writers have to be careful they don't get stuck spending time explaining all the time.

The movie does do a better job than the original making it a "team" activity though. Much of the original Ghostbusters movies were spent with team Venkman, Team Ray & Egon, and Team Winston. Poor, poor Winston, who got a total of how many lines in the film? And he rarely made it into marketing materials. Hell, the poor guy wasn't even on the advertising posters as an actor in the film. Do you see "Ernie Hudson" on that poster? I don't. I think it is a testament to what COULD have been had Aykroyd been allowed to properly develop the character. He got very little time in the movie, and even less attention in marketing. I don't know if it was a racial issue, but it sure as hell initially looks like one. I don't want to delve into that issue for now.

In the new film, Patty has probably 1000 more things to say and do. And while I understand the criticism that many had that she was the lone Ghostbuster without a highly technical degree under her belt, I don't think it fairly values her personal knowledge. Her ability to recall information, and her historical knowledge of the city was astounding. I believe they laid some great foundations for Patty to become the incredibly valuable city history and connections asset to the team. "Need a book on the occult? Oh I know a guy that has a corner store, where crazy ass books have been showing up in his store for years, and this thing happened there....." Patty is set up to be a very valuable member of the team - in addition to being one of the funnier members.

My daughter was also a huge huge fan of Holtzmann. Egon and Ray didn't speak to her the same way this crazy haired excitable engineer did. That is nothing bad on them. While my daughter liked the original Ghostbusters, she didn't get as excited for Egon as she did Holtzmann. Honestly I think it was because Holtzmann danced and played with the silly hats (as you saw in a trailer so no spoilers there). Egon was much more dry and well, Egon-ish.

Overall, the film was a solid piece, maybe missing the special magic of all original films, but the film was entertaining. It's a piece that is getting way more flack from one segment of the population than it should. This is where I dive into a special bag of rage, and use math to defend the point being made.

Guys, what is your deal? No seriously, ladies you can check out for this. Guys, Dudes, Dudorino's - what the hell is your problem? Look at that image at right. Take a look at it. The bell curve suggests that the movie rating should be between seven and eight. However a section, and by section I mean a lot of angry men and wee little boys, decided that 'How dare they remake my movie!' and rated it a one. And if you look at each breakdown, the bell curve peaks at seven for men if you remove the one's. For women it peaks at eight in most categories.

Now one can argue that it's not sexism, but the trend occurs when women are leads in films over their male counterparts. covered this and explained that it is a common event. When women lead the movie - guys suddenly drop ones for ratings, and women stand alone. Since guys outnumber women on sites like IMDB and others, the ratings for the movies are artificially lowered.

I find this disappointing. Obviously not everyone is feeling the vitriol this group feels about women showing up in the remake of a classic. However when it can be shown statistically, by one of the most respected statisticians (if we ever had a respected one to begin with) that obviously there are some angry people making decisions based on who they see in a film - that says something.  First, it angers me because these actresses obviously worked their butts off. And to add to it, Leslie Jones has been dealing with racist ass-holes making ape and monkey jokes at her since the movie came out. Second - we need to take each movie on it's own merits. Many of our stories have been redone, and redone, and redone, and redone. Our main story points we use to tell tales are pretty standardized. You are there to find an escape. Third, give the movie a fair chance. It deserves your time and our daughters deserve it.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Comic-Con: A Panel Success

So last night I made it out into the world - I was on a very enthusiastic panel at Comic-Con. The topic: "Once Upon a Time", Disney's premier grab bag of "how many Disney characters can we toss in and twist for fun" show.

I mean seriously, how many times can you block Mulan from having a happy ending? Give the woman a break already!

Anyways, here is the crowd we had, 20 minutes before we were scheduled to begin.

If you see yourself, feel free to tag the picture. Those people up front were even posing. (And I see you turning away Deadpool/ ChimiChanga shirt guy).

Why am I posting this? Because it was great to be among fellow geeks and nerds discussing something we were passionate about. It was a great opportunity to hear the thoughts of others and discuss something that politically related.
While I enjoy politics, sometimes it is nice to step back and work on another passion, that for the culture and impressive hold that geek culture is now having in our society.

I was very impressed with the turnout. The picture doesn't do justice to the nearly filled room that we had for our discussion. People left, and others came to take their places. People even left then came back - I say because the other panelists were that awesome. I think I was decent.

Over the next couple months I am going to try to get back in the habit of working on this blog, and get my writing back on track. I am preparing a second edition of my first book, and will hopefully get my second book, Currents of Fate ready for printing. Maybe even lucky enough to make it in time for Christmas! Who knows!?

I am going to post this and send it to the wonderful ladies I participated with on this panel. They all deserve kudos for the idea and the great time that was had by all. My hat's off to you all. 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Quick Update

Writing has begun on book 3, the final chapter in the Saga of the East. To celebrate, I have started to make some changes for the upcoming work I need to do.

First, the name of the page, Empires Awakening is now "Saga of Theron" to better reflect the entirety of the books that will be created in this world of mine.

Second, I have started a Patreon page to begin gathering funding to start Merchandising. This page is home to my sketches and some of the ideas for things I want to create to go along with my books. Patreon will make that happen. You can find it here ->

Third and lastly, I am getting a new edition ready of my first book, Empires Awakening, that will be released as soon as it is ready. Look to this page for updates on all of this soon.

PS: Editing of book two is in progress, and I am in the final stages of selecting a title that properly conveys the events in the story. As soon as I have it, I will let everyone know!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Prelude Post

This is the day I give a magical preview into the sequel to Empires Awakening. The title is still in works - but soon to be decided upon. A caveat to be included here, this is not the final publisher ready version. Some of the details and parts of this preview are open to change.

Without further delay....

Prelude: The Kingdom of Sanctum

                The plains were empty of life, all the birds and deer and the smallest of insect had fled before his force. Cenephon stood on a hill before the long flat plain lying between himself and the mammoth stone walls of the city of Sanctum. Wild flowers usually grew here, but they had died to a sad brown in the unseasonable cold that flooded the area around his orc hordes. The stone lane he stood in was a quiet line, wandering through the dead field. The barren stalks of the dead plants were waving in a stiff evening breeze. He closed his eyes, breathing deep as he let the feelings of the stone and dirt beneath his feet tell him their story.
                As master of the Stone of Earth, the very ground of Theron was his ally and his symphony. He could mold and shape the stone and clay into whatever form he wished. He could bring flowers to bloom in the harshest of soils, or poison the richest fields to a barren silty mass. With his gift of stone-sight he reached out to get a sense of the city and all that occurred within. He had crafted a ring that focused enhanced this gift, and with it he could see and sense many times greater than he could unaided. He could even take a simple map and use it to see friend and foe across Theron.
                This day the dirt spoke to him of fear, of people crying and hoping for mercy to come before the dark onslaught he had with him. This black iccor of fear and terror was a mark upon the soil, polluting it in a way only he could sense. Gilden, the leader of their war against the cities aligned with Kal had told him to ignore the feelings coming from the world around him.
                “The feelings you have are those of the weak. They have no place in our world that we are making.” He could picture him saying a few weeks previous.
                “Gilden, the planet cries out against what we are doing. The blood of innocent is seeping into the ground.” Cenephon said to him. He could still remember the smell of burning flesh and timber as they stood in the wreckage of one of the many cities he had helped put to the torch.
                “Cenephon, if you wish to defend these whelps feel free to do so.” Gilden said menacingly, his black sword of ice steamed in the heat of the day. “To defend these weaklings is to be weak yourself, and I have no need of that.”

                Cenephon sighed and rubbed his temples, his short auburn hair gently rustled by the evening breeze. The deep ruddy clay color of his cloak held the cold at bay from his skin. There was a thought in his mind, a nagging feeling that he felt he should answer. He recalled the stench of the dead and the cries of the innocent felled by his hand these past few months. He felt the dark pall of the fear seeping into the ground and his knees grew weak. Staggering, his hand reached out to the stone arm of his golem lieutenant, Parsethon.
                The stone golem had remained silent, but now quickly reached out and caught his master as he lost his footing, his other hand clenched to his mouth stifling a sob.
                “Cenephon, what is wrong?” His deep gravelly voice said. The stone of his jaw gently slid across his hard rocky features.
                “Parsethon, what have I done? Look at us! I have allied myself with the orcs for what? For the world Gilden has envisioned ruled under his guiding hand?”
                Parsethon continue to hold Cenephon up as he spoke. “You have a choice in this war master.” They both let their eyes fall back on the mass of rowdy orc warriors behind the hill they stood on. Their cries echoed across the low valley they camped in.
                “A choice.” Cenephon’s sobbing had stopped, but he still felt the wet tears rolling down his face as an idea grew in his mind, and the stone wall he felt slowly began to fall away from his heart. “You are right; I must undo what we have done.”
                “Both our hands are bloodied in this-“ Parsethon began to answer.
                “No! I brought this on us.” Cenephon spoke in low tones through clenched teeth. “I have a plan for us. I want all the golems to surround the city. I am going to speak to their council.”
                “I will make it so master. I must ask, why do you go to the council of the city?”
                Cenephon stepped away from Parsethon, finding that his resolve was growing with each minute the strength returned to him. It felt right to be protecting Theron again. He had spent many days wondering why he was fighting against his people and had not been entirely convinced that Gilden and Prios had decided on the right path for the towers.
                “I must plead for mercy from them, and maybe forgiveness. In either case, do not tell the orcs anything. Have the golems melt away and reform around the city. None of the horde are to reach the walls.”
                Parsethon nodded to his master, acknowledging his orders. Cenephon knew his construct had been waiting for him to come to his senses for some time. He was unsure of why tonight, in the fading light, he had found the strength to do what he had been afraid to do. As he let himself melt into the soil beneath his feet he began to travel along through the earth towards the city, travelling deep to hide his approach from those defending the walls.
                He flowed through stone, around the now dead creatures of the dirt and soil as he became one with the surface of the world. Coming to the stone walls surrounding the city he follow the stone lane leading through the city, heading towards the hall that held the council in its heart. He could sense the souls of the people inside their homes. Their sense of fear made his stomach turn; he traveled faster still to reach his goal.
                As he neared their gate he made a point to come out of the soil and reform on the steps in front of the guards. His presence was known to all by his yellow eyes, nearly glowing in the fading light. The guards cries called the building to arms, and he made no move other than to lift his hands on either side of his head.
                The steel of the heavily armored guard carried the dull glow of the torch light. They were dressed in plate crafted by the forges of Prion from before this war had started. The craftsmanship bore the engraving of the section of wall depicted with arrow and sword being deflected. Sanctum had the reputation of a sanctuary against all onslaughts. Their high stone walls and heavily armed and well trained troops had bested any attacking army for the entire thousand years Cenephon had lived, it was why he was sent here. If anyone could break the city, it would be he and his mastery over the basis of their defenses.
                “My god, he comes himself!” Cenephon turned to the figures standing at the top of the long flowing steps. The light of the chamber doors hid their faces but he knew them to be the rulers here. They wore the close fitting tunics of purple. The shirts were held by black sashes bearing the patchwork showing the years of service and tours of defense they had complete in their time of youth. Their black pants bore a single matching strip of purple down the outside of their left leg.
                “Councilmen and councilwomen, I have come to ask for you to accept my surrender, and to accept the offer of aid from my golems.”
                “Hardly! I say we kill him why we have the chance!” One of the shadowed faces said immediately.
                “We don’t have any weapon that will work to kill him, and we cannot keep him prisoner.” Another shouted back.
                Behind them all Cenephon noticed a woman in a flowing gown. The gown was white and though shadow still covered her face she seemed to glow with an inner light while the others were lost to him in their bickering. She stepped forward and as she did the council grew quiet, stepping aside to let her pass.
                As she came closer Cenephon was held in thrall by her beauty in a way that caught him off guard. He could not look away from the vague suggestions of her form beneath, and the golden hair flowing down her head, a rippling wave coming down each side gently lying on her exposed neckline. He gasped when the torchlight finally revealed her face once she was within arm’s reach.
                Standing before him was the wife of the Dragon King, Alexia of Goronwy. He bowed his head and kneeled, knowing her place his attempt to seek pardon would go farther if he showed her the respect she deserved as consort to a demigod.
                “My lady. I did not know you were here. I am blind to your presence in my earth sight.” Cenephon stated calmly.
                She did not speak, only stepped closer and placed a hand on his shoulder, gently and with a feathered lightness to it. He could feel her searching his soul, pressing her will against his, and in a flash it was gone.
                “Accept his offer. The city will stand.” She said.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

You Know - There are Reasons I Avoid Zombie Stories....

I have to admit, I should really stop trying to be a glutton for punishment. I tried being brave today and watching the the trailer for the upcoming "Fear the Walking Dead". I was curious about how they would handle the initial outbreak and spread of the Zombie contagion. While the anticipation terrifies me - I was curious about what they had to show for their work.

I should not have tried.

I did not finish the entire video (when it comes in at just over three minutes that is truly saying something) and closed out the tab before I raised my blood pressure anymore. The hilarity is what comes after the initial terror.

*Listens to helicopter flying overhead as I leave work*
(Inner voice) "They must be on their way to the initial outbreak site. Maybe they are running from the first infect."

*Hears truck blasting its horn around the corner while walking to car)
"The zombies must have broken through. Maybe those are the reinforcements to try and stop them."

*Hears rustling in a shrub that is all of eight inches high and a foot wide.*
"Goddamn Zombies are here already!"

Also - why the flip do people need to take SOOO much time to recognize there are zombies and enter into execution mode. "Oh I see they are biting people now...." *Headshot* It makes me angry that people are so dumb. The first time I see someone start biting another one I am not going to lolly-gag about things.

Anyways - I made the mistake. Again. Now every out of place sound is making me get jumpy and prepare for a undead apocalypse. I look forward to the nightmares about this tonight.... *sigh*

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Updates for the Month

My apologies for the lack of updates in the past few weeks. I have been trying to make progress on a few different fronts when it comes to the world of Theron - so I apologize but do not excuse my absence. That being said....

I am trying to make more happen with the books. My last post focused on Merchandising and how others have been successful with it. Some people that is all they had to do because their work stood on its own. I am in a bit of a catch-22 scenario for myself when it comes to this sort of thing. I want to make things happen that would be cool and help make the world my book takes place in more exciting - but I lack the funds to do it. I want the books to support this creativity habit of mine and at this early stage it's going to be hard. This is the struggle for all new artists - at first you are jut trying to get any notice and then have your habit support itself.

Will I get there? Sure - after a time. I am sure I will get somewhere with things. Following are a few of my goals for this year with my books.

Goal #1:
Finish the second book. Its getting closer - and I am very nearly at the tipping point so this is totally possible. However it will just be the first draft and will need to be edited and read through by Beta readers. Beta readers I still do not have a list of. (Applications please?) Editing will need to be completed by an editor.

Goal #2:
Line up a publisher. This will help with both distribution (getting in front of readers) and helping with the editing and drafting process. This will also help grease the gears to get the third book started and get the Zombie book written.

Goal #3:
Art Tablet. I want a tablet designed for graphic art work. Something I can electronically paint/sketch with to get some new products to go with the book. This will allow posters, t-shirts, pins, book marks and other fun stuff to get made.

Goal #4:
Do a convention out of state. Hell, just get to a few local conventions that are not scheduled on important family dates would be great. It would be awesome and terribly exciting to travel across state lines to bring the book to the masses.

Goal #5:
Finish composing my song. I have had this thing in my head for years, and it is about time I get it out of my skull and into some other heads.

I think all of these goals could be possible, and I will look into ways of making these more financially viable in the coming weeks. I will be recording videos for a Patreon campaign later this week and will launch it to get a little bit of additional fun stuff going. I will keep everyone posted and send out a link once everything is ready to go. 

Friday, January 9, 2015

Something New for Authors: Merchandizing

In the past I have written about how amazing the internet now is for the creative class. I have followed many different individuals over the last decade and a half on the internet, and some have risen to insane levels of stardom. And they all started with a small following to some videos posted online. My personal favorites are Lindsey Stirling, Scott Kurtz, and Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins.

That is not a ranking in any sort of way of how I feel about them. My love of each comes from a different part of the creative persona that is me. As hilarious as it sounds - I possibly found all of them within mere minutes of each other. I can't confirm that but I came across them all during a distinct period of my college life.

I had purchased the MMO Heroes Online - and inside was a comic that Scott Kurtz had done. I enjoyed it more than game and began following him online. Shortly after I probably came across Penny-Arcade - the creative child of Jerry and Mike. I tend to binge-read a new comic that I find so chances are I stayed up all night reading both online comics.

Lindsey I found perusing the precursor of YouTube. It was a video of her dancing about playing a song of her own on an electric violin. It was love at first site. Stringed instruments are my favorite type of instrument to be played as their sound is, well, exquisite to my ears. If your song has them in it I am already a fan. Lindsey is a talented woman and I am very glad to see she has gone from that living room and moved on to things like, I don't know, National Television appearances and World Tours. Both pretty epic. I would settle for just one, but both? Goddamn!

What does this have to do with authors? Well it matters because there are a lot more ways for artists to get themselves in front of audiences. That is competition. These artists are all creating more than just a single item for visual consumption, they are branding themselves and getting other ways of engaging audiences. This means that if writers are going to maintain the same involvement they are going to have to adapt and do the same thing.

Authors need to find ways of getting in front of more than just an audience of individuals who read books. They need to find ways of getting people to come back again and again when they show up at conventions. This means that instead of just writing a story - we have to create other items to go with our world.

I am already preparing to do this myself. Once I get a bit more money in - I will be ordering the first in a series of collectors pins that compliment my book series. I am toying with the idea of creating my own audio book so that I can offer my story in another format. Eventually I will digitally paint a full world map for my book - I already did so on paper with colored pencils to great success. Hell - I am even planning on ideas for t-shirts and small posters for my fans to purchase. I will hopefully help use this as a way to re-engage my readers between books, and help draw people in to the books as the audience builds.

I am not a marketing genius - if I was I would have been on The Colbert Show before it ended. What I do know is that the creative class includes Authors - and if we don't keep up with those who are doing more and more to engage the audience we all vie for, we will be left behind. Get out there, make some doodles for symbols or images from your stories. Create a map of your fantasy world. Your future success may just depend on it.