Sunday, December 24, 2006

Movie of the Week - Night at the Museum

Night at the Museum
Staring: Ben Stiller, Carla Gugino, Dick Van Dyke, Mickey Rooney, Bill Cobbs, Jake Charry, Ricky Gervais, Robin Williams, Kim Raver, Patrick Gallagher, Rami Malek, Pierfrancesco Favino, Steve Coogan, Owen Wilson

Premise: A "loser" inventor tries out for a night security job at the Metropolitan Museum so he can create some stability in his life for his son. The opening is a result of cut backs at the museum, as they are replacing three older security men with one younger, and cheaper, alternative. But as Larry discovers his first night there, there is a whole lot more to the job description than anyone ever told him - for at night, all the exhibits in the museum come to life. Will he be able to take control of the chaos and his life, or will he let this opportunity for something bigger slip past him like all the others?

Review: This was a light and very fun film! Each room/area of the museum had its own set of surprises and challenges. And it was an utter treat to see Mikey Rooney, Dick Van Dyke, and Bill Cobbs! (Watch the ending credits and you'll see Dick can still cut a mean rug! lol) Lots of funny moments. Lots of cute moments too. Even a little history thrown in for flavor! This movie was fresh and a lot of fun! ***1/2!!!!!

Movie of the Week - Eragon

Staring: Edward Speleers, Jeremy Irons, John Malkovich, Djimon Hounsou, Sienna Guillory, Rachel Weisz

Premise: A young farm boy, Eragon, gets drawn into a ploy to free the world from the grip of the dictator Galbatorix, when he finds and bonds with the last dragon egg in the world. Will he and the dragon Saphira be able to bond properly and mature fast enough to be able to join the freedom fighters and help make a difference before they are hunted down and killed?

Review: Unfortunately there was little in this film that has not been seen before. For younger kids or teenagers never exposed to fantasy, it would be a great starter, but for those who have had interest in the genre for a time, there is unfortunately little to recommend it. Mr. Speleers does a commendable job, and Jeremy Irons was superb as always. John Malkovich seemed to be given little to nothing to work with and aside for posturing a lot, must be saving the action for the sequel. The dragon sequences were extremely nice, and Rachel Weisz voice worked well and was one of the highlights of the movie. Light fare, decently enjoyable, don't expect any surprises. **1/2!

Book Review - Arturo el Rey

Arturo el Rey
by Joan Upton Hall

Premise: King Author promised he would return when the world most needed him. But how bad does it have to get for him to fulfill his promise? Arturo has been suffering from strange dreams, dreams of King Author and Camelot. They've become especially strong after a virus ravages the states and has brought humanity and civilization to the brink of extinction. Chaos rules, people become little more than animals - is there something he can do to try to stop this slide into barbarism and restore some order to the world?

Review: This story is rich in detail, thought, and research. The characters come alive on the page and the plight of the survivors becomes your own. Set mostly in Texas, lots of the sites are easily recognizable. Arturo's and Shanna's love comes across as more hormonal than heartfelt, but otherwise the novel is a wonderful story of battle, survival, betrayal, and hopefully lessons learned. I'm looking forward to the sequel and New Camelot's continuing progress. ***1/4!!!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Movie Websites - Too carried away?

There's a trend I've been noticing over the last year or two that, to be honest, seems to be a bad one. This trend affects movie sites. By movie sites, I mean the site created by the film makers for a specific movie. All of them, anymore, are filled with so many bells and whistles, that they take forever to load. Worse, a lot of them get so carried away with java script, they end up leaving no room for actual info on the film, the actors, what have you! Or the navigation process is in no way intuitive, leaving you to hunt and pec and hope you can figure out where to go. Plus each time you click on anything, you go through the rigamarole of java script all over again making everything take forever! And that's on DSL!

Though I still go find the main site and link it, more and more I keep having to go to places like IMB and Yahoo Movies to get the info I need for a simple review! It's a sad trend. *sigh* Hope they get a clue soon! :P But who knows, maybe it's just me. heh.

Movie of the Week - Apocalypto

Staring: Dalia Hernandez, Marya Serbulo, Gerardo Taracena, Raoul Trujillo, Rudy Youngblood

Premise: A young warrior named Panther Claw, from a South American jungle tribe, has his life thrown into chaos when Mayan warriors steal into his village and slaughter or enslave all those there. Dragged against his will from all he's ever known, he sees the great Mayan civilization going through the throes of drought and pestilence. He and his are to either be sold or become sacrifices. Sacrifices, which according to those in power, will appease the gods and make life good again.

Review: A totally gorgeous film - the vistas and photography were amazing. One beautiful thing done right off the bat, is how Mr. Gibson gets the audience to resonate with Panther Claw and his fellows through a joke played on one of their friends. This basically breaks the ice between the audience and the film and we become immediately involved and start caring for these people who seemed so removed from all we know. A lot of the information comes across very subtly, hints of the Mayan politics, of the manipulation of the popullace, and attempts to retain order at any cost. A bit of mysticism is thrown in and an amazing assortment of actors that get things across regardless of language barriers. There are definitely a number of graphic scenes, like beheadings and the good old pulling the beating heart from the sacrifice--so you will probably want to see it first before taking the kids. Lots of attention to detail, weaponry, customs, attitudes. Lovely! Wish he could have spent more time in the big city so we could have learned more! ***1/2!!!!

Movie of the Week - Stranger than Fiction

Staring: Will Ferrell, Emma Thompson, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Queen Latifah, Dustin Huffman
Premise: Harold, an IRS auditor, is far from your typical dude. Numbers and analysis are his life, and he leads a very ordered and lonely existance. All this changes one day when he starts hearing a voice - one that narrates his life and even things going on in his life he does not know about. Then one day, the voice pronounces his lack of knowledge about his impending death.
Review: Talk about real life intruding into fiction! lol. Quirky, sometimes deep, this was a fun, and for me as a writer, disturbing film. There are a lot of really neat things they do in this movie, all centered around Harold, like popping spreadsheets and numbers beside his head as he goes through his analytical thought processes. A more pathetic exitance than Harold's would be hard to find, other than possibly the writer, Karen Eiffel. She's been stuck on how to finish a book for years. And somehow it is this very book that ends up being a mirror of Harold's life. Yet the narrating commentary helps Harold break out of his old life and actually start living as he realizes things he's known all along but never noticed. I think one of my most favorite scenes was when Harold stood in the IRS filing room and the narrator talks about how he stood there listening to the sound the file folders made, like waves washing onto the shore. Then if you listened, they did indeed sound exactly like it. It was a beautiful moment. And watching Karen deal with the fact her ending would affect someone real and the decision she makes between possibly her best work ever and humanity, is quite poignant. I think the only thing that soured this little tale for me was the bad editing with regards to the sound boom. I swear it intruded into the film in 3 to 4 different places and totally threw me out of the fantasy, which was rather sad. Since I am a born sucker, I was crying my eyes out by the end. heh. ***1/4!!!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Book Review - Metered Space

Metered Space
by M.D.Benoit

Premise: Jack Meter has been on a spiral of self destruction for the last two years, ever since the death of his beloved Annie. He's come back to town and the first thing he finds out is that the same type of explosives that were used to destroy Annie's lab have recently been stolen again. Jack tries to tell himself this has nothing to do with him, until other otherworldly 3rd parties decide he needs to start working as a PI again. Things get even worse for him when he is forced to team up with the one person in the universe who hates him most .

Review: Watching a down and out PI, who's given up on life suddenly have to take on being healed by aliens and travel to other worlds in search of a thief, while trying to dig out the truth being hidden from him by his clients is a great mix of the PI Noir and Science Fiction. The plot moves quickly, and plenty of surprises and complications crop up to keep Jack and the readers hopping. Great prose and descriptions, plus a hard edged, softy of a PI you can't help but like. ***1/4!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Book Review - Devil's Due

Devil's Due
by Rachel Caine

Premise: Book two of the Devil series. Lucia Garza, Jazz's partner, has things she feels best left in her past. She's come to care for Jazz, and in helping try to free her partner from jail, has started to have feelings for Ben. But the machinations from the law firm, it's employer, and their enemies are escalating. Jazz seems to be a prime target, and Lucia is not about to let them get away with that.

Review: Though I loved Jazz and was slightly disappointed at the switch of POV, I ended up loving Lucia just as much! More romance, more intrigue, more stuff blowing up! Woot! Fast paced and gritty and more info on a very convoluted past. Loads of fun! ***1/2!!!

Book Review - Devil's Bargain

Devil's Bargain
by Rachel Caine

Premise: Jazz's life has been on the downside for several months. She is no longer a cop. Her partner has been convicted of murder. She's pretty much at the end of her rope. Then out of nowhere, a law firm shows up with an unusual proposition. They want her to partner up with a woman who is also in law enforcement and with a deposit of $100K, start a detective agency, and the only strings being that they would occasionally do some jobs for the law firm.

Review: Another fun series starter by Rachel Caine! Jazz is a hoot. The story is fast paced, the characters likable, and the mystery fun. Guns, lawyers, and attitude! Who could ask for more? :P ***1/2!!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Grey Thursday - WOW

I am on a CompUSA mailing list where they send you occasional deals they don't advertise on the regular mailer and in store sheet. This past week, they had a super sale on the 60inch Sony HDTV's. My husband and I were drooling instantly. The sale was going to be on Thanksgiving Day from 9pm to Midnight. Almost like a precursor to the dreaded Black Friday Shopping Day.

It was Thanksgiving morning when I saw this add and since we had several hours before we needed to pack up and head to hubby's side of the family's Thanksgiving (My side celebrated the weekend before) we did all sorts of research on HDTV's and the more we found out the more we drooled about the special.

Now mind you, hubby and I never never ever shop on Black Friday, and frankly had never paid any attention to the yearly increase in specials and special holiday hours. So in utter ignorance, we decided we would take the plunge.

So blissfully unaware of what was to come we went to the in-laws, conversed, watched the turkey fry, harassed the nieces and nephews for what they wanted for Christmas, and ate way too much.

We left the shindig about 5pm and decided to drive by the CompUSA and see if we could take a look at the TV to make absolutely sure we really knew what we were getting into. The store was closed, which was no real surprise - it was a holiday after all - but what did throw us for a loop was the fact that about five cars were in the parking lot and six plus people were standing around the entrance, a few with foldout chairs! (One or two even gave us leering looks as if we were entering their territory or something.) We laughed our way on over to the movies to while away a couple of hours before coming back. I mean, we thought, how silly of those people to be there so early for a little sale.

Watched the movie, had a good time, piled back in the car and went on over to the CompUSA. The closer we got, the bigger our eyes and disbelief became. The parking lot was packed. A huge line was formed from the door all the way around the large building, past the one behind it and around the corner. It was unbelievable! Where did all these people come from?

We parked and sat in the car till 9pm hit, then watched the line surge forward. As soon as the end of the line came parallel to us, we joined in. The flow pretty much stopped and we would inch forward every few minutes. Five policemen stood by the entrance outside and directed people or traffic around. We were still in shock.

Finally made it inside. Luckily the big sign overhead and the bank of TVs on the back wall pretty much signalled us where to go. We passed one counter where a fellow was inquiring about one of the sales items - all gone. Wall to wall people everywhere. Grabbed a sales person in the back when they came up for air and asked about the TV. Glimpsed the demo, didn't want to be there more than necessary, we said we'll take it!

Two more sales people later as they got info, wrote up tickets, etc and one of them kept apologizing over and over about the crowd. I kept wondering why she was being so apologetic till it hit me - the big snaking line going all the way from the front of the store to the back was the bloody check out line! Aiiiieeee!!!!!

Through the strangeness of life, we got lucky. I was looking for the Ice Age 2 DVD which was part of the sale and bugged one of the employees going through a DVD bin. He had no idea where they were - he was looking for them too. Well, after I grabbed the CD-R's on sale and rejoined hubby in line, and we'd crawled forward through a couple of turns, I saw the same guy again. I asked him if he'd ever found them. He said no. (Turned out he was a manager.) He then asked us what we bought. When he found out it was one of the TVs he went into the warranty spiel. Hubby took him up on it, so he had to change paperwork, so in a stroke of luck, he moved us up the line! We would have still been there 45 minutes to an hour later if not for him. (THANK YOU!!!!)

We will never take another Thanksgiving Sale lightly again. Be warned! lol!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Movie of the Week - Flushed Away

Flushed Away
Starring the voices of: Hugh Jackman, Kate Winslet, Ian McKellen, Jean Reno, Bill Nighy, Andy Serkis, Shane Richie, and more....

Premise: Uptown pet rat gets "flushed away" by an invading rat and finds himself down in London's sewers where he meets Rita and is accidentally immersed in a play for power.

Review: (Must make mention - the previews showed 2 hamsters in the house with Roddy, but in the actual film they are nowhere to be seen! Guess they changed their minds on that aspect.) The movie was a lot of fun and had TONS of in-jokes dealing with other movies or pop culture in the last 40 years or so. I am sure I missed a ton of them. Roddy ends up being like a clumsy Indiana Jones/James Bond, which was fun. The snails are a total hoot. No surprises in the plot, but still somewhat sophisticated for the age group. Lots of little things for the adults to keep their eyes out for though. I am sure someone somewhere has a list of all the in-jokes. There were things from movies/shows like The Fly, Batman, James Bond, and myriad others. Nothing overtly violent, so a nice piece for all the family. ***1/4!!

Movie of the Week - Casino Royal

Casino Royal
Starring: Daniel Craig, Eva Green, Mads Mikkelsen, Judi Dench, Jeffrey Wright, Giancarlo Giannini, Caterina Murino, Simon Abkarian, and more...

Premise: A young James Bond passes the qualifications to be upgraded to a Double O class of agent. His first case after his upgrade is to find out the mastermind of a set of seemingly unrelated terrorist acts.

Review: The James Bond franchise takes a step back and goes to its roots in this new telling of Casino Royal. Weirdly enough they kept the new M of the last few films almost like a bridge gap to give familiarity to those who've been following the previous films. Daniel Craig may not seem at first to fit the mold of Bond, but like Yun Chow Fat, it's not the looks, but the oozing charisma that get you in the end. There are many in-jokes in the film, fun making, and kudos to past films. The first chase sequence is utterly awesome and very reminiscent of Jackie Chan. Very fast paced, only slowing a bit toward the end when they try to get the audience into a feeling of complacency before slamming the hammer down. Overall a very nice piece. And by the end, when he does that famous line, you believe it. ***3/4!!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

SF and Fantasy - Playgrounds for Sexual Harassment?

Yes, it looks like it's Soap Box day! :P

A rather disturbing topic came up on one of my lists this week. One of the members posted a letter she sent to an institution she belongs to regarding cases of sexual harassment at functions held or in part sponsored by the institution. The sexual harassment itself was surprising, but more so was the institution with its members responsible for doing the harassment. (Sorry to be vague, but as some of this has not been posted to the general public, I can't disclose the name of said institution.)

Since I started reading Fantasy and Science Fiction way in my younger days, I had always thought of the genre as a progressive, humanitarian, think out of the box, type of genre. I always assumed those involved in it would also be progressive and far thinking individuals. So to find out after all this time that some in fact practice and at times even thrive on sexual harassment against their own peers--it was a big shock. I've been accused of being somewhat naive in the ways of the world before, but this truly threw me for a loop.

To make matters worse I have heard stories told of the repression of female writers by the good old boy network in the Sci-fi/Fantasy field and how it's been going on for years. I've even heard tell of others who did not approve of these actions, yet they either ignored what was going on, or did nothing about them as these practices were just part of how things were. And no one, seemingly, in such a future thinking field, has taken steps or brought up the subject as something which needs fixing.

I would have thought that Sci-fi/Fantasy writers and others involved in the field would be the spearhead in social reform and change, of open minds and attitudes, of community, and peace. And I am happy to say that in my own experience, I've not been subject to the contrary. Yet others have. And at times these individuals have been left with no recourse but to suffer through it--turning what should have been at times very festive and proud moments into experiences of dread and embarrassment. I would hope that something could be done. That those in the field can get together and support one another and not tolerate behavior which hurts others.

Can we have the bright future so many of us write about and hope for if we can't even manage to get along or protect our peers? How can we make others believe in our visions if we can't live by the very precepts we hope to establish? It is tragic that the very people who are at the forefront of imagination and the future, who inspire others on to what might be, would stoop to something so against everything they stand for. :(

End of Soap Box... - The latest thing for the MP3 Generation

I first heard about from a fellow writer.
Basically it is a free site of serialized audio books in MP3 format. For authors it is a means to have their books placed in a medium that can be used for promotional purposes. Which is why I took the plunge. The hope would be that if people listened to the book and liked it enough, they might go ahead and buy it.

Since I come from a small press, anything I could do for exposure was good by me! And it served a dual purpose as well, it would get me acquainted with the whole MP3 experience. (I don't even own an IPOD, let alone used an MP3 player before this. And I think I'm pretty geeky!)

This did turn out at first as the Cursed Project from Hey! Aside from having to set up certain parameters and criteria to the software, and starting out on my end without a clue on any of this stuff, some of it would not even work as it was supposed to. I was pretty sure for a while I would get dropped from the project just on my making them pull their hair out in frustration at my inability to get things right! lol.

Eventually though I got Audacity set up correctly and what it's limitations were, knew what to do and change in ITunes to get the MP3 to turn out correctly and have the correct standardized info, actually figured out how to record my readings and then edit them, and now finally have a modicum of confidence in what I am doing. (Despite more horrid problems like when I changed one digit in the title so they would not upload, when Audacity ate half of the final file and I didn't notice, plus a myriad of other little problems geared to drive one insane.)

Currently, In The Service of Samurai is up to chapter 28 and seems to be doing well. While I've sold probably a 100 or so copies of the book using regular marketing, at the moment I have about 737 who have now heard about it and have listened to at least some of the work. So though it does take a nice chunk of time to get the files done, it seems to be working. I hope people are also enjoying listening to the story in this different medium.

I would say MP3 readings are a nice up and comer as a marketing tool. reached over 1 million downloads a couple of weeks ago. It's mind boggling!

Movie of the Week - Santa Clause 3 - The Escape Clause

Santa Clause 3 - the Escape Clause
Staring: Tim Allen, Elizabeth Mitchell, Judge Reinhold, Wendy Crewson, Eric Lloyd, Martin Short, Spencer Breslin, Ann-Margret, Alan Arkin, and Liliana Mumy

Premise: As Christmas once more approaches, Jack Frost is feeling left out of the lime light. So once he hears that there is an Escape Clause in Santa's contract, he aims to find out all he can take Santa's place as his own. Add problems with manufacturing, the fact Mrs. Clause is getting ready to give birth, and that the in-laws are coming and Jack pretty much has his work cut out for him.

Review: The plot has a lot of elements reminiscent of the old Christmas time favorite "It's a Wonderful Life" and hopes to teach the same lessons. Loved Tim Allen, but then I've always been partial to his work. :P The effects are decent and a lot of the subtle jokes are pretty good. Still something felt flat overall, though it is hard to pin down what it was exactly. The previous two films were definitely better. But it was still fun to watch. Good family film. ***

Friday, October 27, 2006

Book Drafts - The Conundrum

I guess this subject has been on my mind a lot lately - drafts of a novel. Not all things work for all writers, but this is one of those that I believe to be universal.

To me, it's always been obvious that as a writer you must have at least 2 drafts of a document. Yet from some conversations I've held and some opinions I've heard, there really are those who think one draft is all it takes before something is ready to be submitted to a publisher. And I am amazed they could think that!

Don't get me wrong, there probably is someone out there somewhere who can prove me wrong and write the perfect book in one draft...but the chances of that happening are millions, if not billions, to one. So that means everyone else needs more than one. Yet, over and over, from new writers, and some not so new, there comes this opinion that one will do. Well, below are the main reasons I think such a thing is not possible...

1) While some people have every phase of their book ready in an outline, or small paragraphs, or what have you, books and characters for most people have a tendency to go places not in the original plans. This is not a bad thing, in fact it is a great thing most of the time, as it imbues the book with new ideas you came up with along the way. But, when it happens, you normally make notes and then go back on a 2nd draft and incorporate these earlier into the text so there is a solid thread leading up this idea you had about 1/2 or 3/4's through the book. So, unless you are going back and fixing all this the moment you have the idea (not a good idea in itself - you can get caught in that eternal fix the first few chapters loop), you won't have a choice but to go back and incorporate or smooth these out. So another draft/reading is necessary.

2) Consistency. Because you wrote the manuscript, you have to, have to, have to go back over it to make sure all your facts and themes are consistent. You can't tell if this consistency is there on a first draft because things are changing in your head as you put them down all the time. (And it is always better to let the work sit for weeks or months before you do this, to distance yourself from the work, otherwise your brain will add things when they are not there!) Plus, some of our memories are not the best (mine is NOT) and while on Tuesday the main chara's eyes were blue, the following week on Wednesday your noggin might decide to inform you they are green.

3) Typos, spelling errors, bad sentences. Prose for me is labor. It doesn't flow easily or always smoothly. Distractions, moods, life, gets into your writing also, and a phrase that sounded like the bomb when you wrote it, might actually be stilted or flat or unnecessary. So one needs to go through the work and look for these things and fix them. (And let me tell you, no matter how many drafts and pairs of eyes go through a work, all of them will never be found! It's amazing how you can look back on something and find all manner of mistakes you thought couldn't possibly be there you've combed the work so many times.)

4) Beta Readers - these guys are incredibly important, but even more so if they have a clue! Just because someone beta read something, does not mean they have the mind set or knowledge to catch mistakes in the work. So if you find a good one, latch on to them like leeches! lol. Anyway, because as a writer, one is so close to the work, you need eyes and minds not already filled with that universe to help look for errors. Not just grammatical ones, but consistency, lack of explanation errors (just because it all makes sense to you, does not mean there is enough there for it to make sense to someone else. :P), and general plot and satisfaction levels. This bit can be invaluable! Because no matter how good one might be at editing others works, what you see in theirs you may not be able to see when it is wrong in yours! (I know I can't!)

I'm sure there are more reasons I can't think of at the moment. Do you know of any? Please share. Or heck, if you think I don't know what I am talking about, give us your opinion. Let's see what we can learn together...

Book Review -- A Storm of Swords

A Storm of Swords - Book 3 of the Ice and Fire Series

by George RR Martin

Premise: Book 3 of the Ice and Fire series. The big war for the capital is over. Dark betrayal and darker magic become the rule of the day as the true war of gods is getting underway.

Review: And I thought the previous volumes were dark! Aiiiieeee. Just when I thought not much worse could happen to a number of these people, I am proved wrong in spades! If there is one message this book carries is no good deed goes unpunished! LOL. Many characters sacrificed a lot for their people and others and in this volume their sacrifice is basically spit back in their faces. Dark gets darker! More hints at the war that is coming, more blossoming powers, and a chilling last chapter. Martin is a marvellous writer with awesome characters, but dang it these books are depressing! lol. Of course, like most train wrecks, you just can't make yourself look away. Book 4 here I come! ***3/4!!!!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

The New Senior Moment Poster Child!

This week I had to suffer through one of the most embarrassing moments of my life. (Though there have been plenty of others, let me tell you!) I think this one hit me hard because it didn't affect just me, but others. This doozy, I believe puts me up there as the New Senior Moment Poster Child!

On 10/23 I was slated to be the guest in an online chat for Writes to Publish online critique group. I'd known about it for months. Just that weekend (since the 23rd was a Monday), I'd sent out info (without the time - doh) to several lists I belong to so anyone interested could stop on by. Pop up reminders at work told me yet again I had a commitment that night. I'd reminded myself at least 6 times on my own. Yet when I left work, it was gone. no recollection of anything other than getting home, cooking dinner, watching some TV with El Hubbo. It wasn't until I am dragging myself off to bed that my gaze rolled past my computer desk, synapses fired, and recall returned. I am sure the screams could be heard two blocks over. :P

Paul was terribly gracious about my mistake, and I made sure to extend electronic copies of one of the two books for any members who were actually there...but still. THE SHAME OF IT! ARRRRRGGGHHHH. (Have I mentioned I tend to be anal about getting to places before the scheduled event? lol.)

I will get over this...eventually. And Paul is willing to risk me scheduling again! But this time we're hedging our bets. He can call me and remind me. Not that it will come to that! lol!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Movie of the Week - The Prestige

The Prestige
Staring: Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Piper Perabo, Rebecca Hall, Scarlett Johansson, Samantha Mahurin, David Bowie

Premise: A magician is taken to trial for the murder of another magician. As he awaits the courts judgement, the events leading to the fateful moment are reviewed.

Review: This is a story of obsession, sacrifice, and subterfuge. One sad incident puts these two men on a path of utter self destruction. Lots of magic and the life of magicians are revealed. The one very neat treat was that they involved Tesla in the film. Tesla is best known for the cool lightning effect mad scientist machines used in the old horror films. But in truth, Tesla had come up with a way to transmit electricity through the air, so no wiring would be needed. What's funny is that he and Edison also had obsessions of their own and were rivals of a nature as well. Tesla's brilliance and Edison's involvement in certain aspects of Tesla's life may be taken a little to the extreme, but was a lot of fun. The acting on everyone's part was marvellous, especially Mr. Jackman. All the way to the end, we are left with puzzles to solve. The very last one, just proves yet again the depth of the obsession of these men and how it bled into the lives of others, who didn't themselves understand what the draw of this magician business was, yet still were pushed to sacrifice to see it through. Fascinating film, great effects. ***1/2

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Doctor Who - School Reunion

I was quite thrilled when I heard Doctor Who was coming back with a new BBC series a couple of years ago. And I have immensely enjoyed watching them on the Sci-Fi Channel. Last night I watched the episode called School Reunion. What a blast from the past!

Not only did this episode guest star Anthony Head, from Buffy fame, but also brought back two characters from the original series - Sarah Jane Smith, and K-9! What fun! We even had the original K-9 voice.
As I watched the episode, I got hit with a super wave of nostalgia, especially when K-9 entered the scene. By the end I was almost blubbering. lol.
If you have not checked out the new series - DO IT! Both doctors so far have been utter blasts! Loads of Sci-Fi fun for all!

Armadillo Encounter!

Armadillo Encounter!

The armadillo is an indigenous creature of Texas.

And while I have often seen them far off and, unfortunately, also as road pizza, I had a close encounter not too long ago.

I was coming out of the alley on my way to work when I spotted the little critter. He was busy in the early morning dark, looking for bugs to eat in a neighbors front yard! So though I had seen armadillos before, never had I spotted one so close to my house before. I stopped the car, knowing my hubby would be behind me in moments and started pointing like a mad woman. I called him later to see if he'd seen it. He never had a clue. *sigh*

But the little bugger so utterly cute! He was flipping his little ears and just looking adorable! It absolutely made my day! (Yeah, I am easy...) :P

Movie of the Week - Man of the Year

Man of the Year
Staring: Robin Williams, Christopher Walken, Laura Linney, Lewis Black, Jeff Goldblum, David Alpay

Premise: Tom Dobbs, a TV comedian, decides to run for president after it is suggested by someone from the audience. Due to a computer glitch in a new national voting system, Dobbs is elected. One person knows what's happened and tries to do the right thing.

Review: Robin Williams is a hoot! But then he usually is. Beneath the jokes and commentary though are a lot of thought provoking items. Thrown into this is one company's attempt to keep their mess up hidden, and a woman trying to live up to her integrity. Some semi suspenseful moments and lots of laughs. ***!!!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Boston Legal

Boston Legal - TV

I first caught this show during its second season when Michael J Fox guest starred on three episodes. (We hadn't seen Michael on TV for some time since his disease had progressed and made it difficult to pursue an acting career, so we wanted to see how he was doing, having been a fan for years.) We knew it was a layer show, and my husband not being one for legal dramas, we'd never checked it out before.

After seeing two of the three episodes we were hooked! This show is a total hoot! We got bit so hard, we went and ordered 1st season on DVD! This show is on one level serious as a heart attack, on another totally frivolous and funny. And sometimes, weirdly, both at once.

Premise: We follow in the daily labors of the law firm of Crane, Poole, & Schmidt. Crane, now in his 70's, was a during his heyday a major force to be reckoned with. Never lost a case. Now, Denny Crane (William Shatner) suffers from the beginnings of Alzheimer's and utter boredom. He is an over the top, sexist, extreme Republican, but he's totally upfront with all of it. The owners of the firm keep an eye on him for cause to expel him before he can ruin the reputation of the film. Alan Shore (James Spader) is the outlaw of the firm, taking on cases to help the week, yet at times taking roads that would not be considered reputable. A man of many levels, he is somewhat self destructive, and driven by many passions. Shirley Schmidt (Candice Bergen) is one of the other main partners and gets brought in to try to restrain Denny from his more flamboyant efforts.

The people dynamics in this show are phenomenal! The strange friendship between Denny and Alan. Denny's obsession with anything female and especially Shirley. The legal maneuverings and seriousness of many of the cases. You will literally laugh and cry. The rest of the cast members, especially for second season are wonderful as well!

The one hidden fact about Boston Legal is how many of the actors coming in as guests or as main characters come from Star Trek or Sci-Fi films!!! William Shatner of course well know for his role as Captain James T Kirk in the original series. James Spader was Dr Daniel Jackson in the film Stargate and played in several other Sci-fi films. Candice Bergen was the voice of SAL9000 in the Sci-fi epic 2010. Rene Auberjonois (Paul Lewiston - stiff shirt and the one who makes the firm run as a unit in the background) was Odo in Deep Space Nine. Michael J Fox was from the Back to the Future Films. A regular judge seen often on the show, Armin Shimerman was Quark from Deep Space 9. Henry Gibson, another regular judge, also guest stared in DS9 and many other Sci-Fi/Fantasy shows. And this past week Ethan Phillips, Nelix from Star Trek Voyager, guest stared. It is a total schmorgasborg of Sci-Fi/Fantasy talent! I LOVE THIS SHOW!!!! lol

Movie of the Week - Open Season

Open Season (Animated)
Staring: Martin Lawrence, Aston Kotcher, Matt Taylor, Jan Favread, Danny Mann, Billy Connely, etc.

Premise: Boog, a grizzly bear raised in captivity by a ranger, has his life turned upside down after he meets Elliot, a mule deer. He finds himself set loose in the wild and all he wants to do is get back home.

Review: From what I understand this is Sony Pictures first animated film. Kudos to them! Gorgeous scenery and the work on the fur was marvelous. The story was very cute and funny and is filled with a plethora of interesting characters. The main bad guy and his animal conspiracy theories were a hoot. Lots if hidden jokes for the parents. Make sure to stick around for the first part of the credits to see what happens to the bad man. :P ***!!!!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Movie of the Week - Flyboys

Staring: James Franco, Jean Reno, Philip Winchester, Martin Henderson, Abdul Salis, Jennifer Decker, Tyler Labine, and David Ellison

Premise: A film inspired by the courageous tale of young American men who joined the famed Lafayette Escadrille during WWI. 6 young men volunteer to join this special unit in France, and we follow their training and hardships during the war.

Review: Cool effects and some great CGI. No great surprises in the plot, but very well acted by all involved. Very nice work on the details or the period with reconstructions of Paris and other areas. Fun film. ***!!!!!

Movie of the Week - Jet Li's Fearless

Jet Li's Fearless
Staring: Jet Li
Directed by Ronny Yu

Premise: The story of Huo Yuanjia, his life, loves, adversity, and growth of spirit to become the founder of the Jingwu Sports Federation. An effort to help the Chinese recover their pride and prove to the world their worth.

Review: While the martial arts did not reach the heights some of the scenes did in The Protector, it makes up for this with the deeper story and good acting. Don't get me wrong, there is still plenty of good martial arts to go around and be enjoyed. Did look up Yuanjia after seeing the film, and while some of the general information is correct, this is not what you would call an accurate film. :P Still, it was lots of fun and is on a person who was quite important to the Chinese in that period. ***1/2

Friday, September 15, 2006

Convention - Animefest 2006

Animefest 2006

Yes, Animefest was over the whole holiday weekend on 9/1 - 9/4/06! Since I had no panels at this one, I pretty much manned my table all 4 days and hocked books. (Looking into the dealer's room is bad! Checking out any anime is bad! I am safer at my table. lol!)

Saw many familiar faces and even got to meet some friends again I hadn't seen in a while. Some fabulous costumes were making the rounds. My table was set at an angle to the Dealer's Room entrance so I had a wonderful vantage point of everyone coming and going.

Enjoyed my table neighbor, the Cosplay Lady, who was making cell phone danglies on demand and was quite good at it. She also won the Grand Prize for Best of Show for her costume recreation for Edward from Full Metal Alchemist. I got to see her after she got prepped and it was dang impressive indeed! She was truly meticulous in getting all the details right.

Parking prices were up this year and they locked the pedestrian entrance to the hotel so lugging my stuff was no fun. Did get lucky once and was able to go in by the garage entrance, and on the last day I brought hubby along to do the lugging. :P

Overall it was a good con and I think the con goers enjoyed themselves. Now to wait for next year! :P

Book Review -- Firestorm

Firestorm - Book 5 of the Weather Warden Series
by Rachel Caine

Premise: The culmination of troubles for Joanne, for humanity, is at hand. Mother Earth is waking and she is not happy! Not able to trust David, yet able to do anything but, despite the fact the Earth could turn him and all other Djinn into unthinking killing machines, Joanne set offs with little hope but lots of spunk on the one slim hope left to humanity. As Joanne heads out to try to save the world as she knows it, it becomes terribly obvious not all those around want it saved and are willing to do whatever it takes to try and stop her.

Review: Though I did not think it possible, this volume is even more of a whirlwind than the others! I was turning pages in a tornadic frenzy to see what would happen next. Everything happens in a short time in a very fast way (Making up for giving us a little breathing space in book 4! lol) and we feel Joanne's urgency in the tight way the plot was presented. Some very telling character peeks are inserted in there but don't blink or you'll miss them! Some hint at being very very important in my opinion! And when you reach the end, you will join me in thinking Rachel Caine is Eeeeeeevvvvvviiiiiiiillllllllllllllllllll! lol. We do get chapter 1 of the next book included, but I've heard we can't expect that release till June of 2007. (Wonder if I can extort an ARC copy from her at Fencon? Hmmmm) :P *** 1/2!!!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Book Review - A Clash of Kings

A Clash of Kings
by George RR Martin

Premise: Picking up where book 1 left off, we see the maneuverings come forth of the men now veying to take over the realm. War is now inevitable, yet all of them have totally forgotten the fact winter if coming.

Review: A couple of new people are added to the roster of the POV chapters, and all the ones from the first book are back. More death, more destruction, betrayals, quick thinking, and more. Magic is definitely on the rise and the wheels are turning on a higher plane than the struggles of the mortals below. Well worth reading! ***3/4!!

Movie of the Week - The Protector

The Protector
Staring: Tony Jaa

Premise: Kham, a Thai and breeder of elephants, has been brought up to believe in the importance of the animal and his role as its protector. So when his father is killed, and both the father elephant and baby son are stolen, he sets out to tract down those who've stolen his family and bring them back.

Review: What I found cool right off the bat was though I was expecting a Chinese martial arts film, this was actually a Thai release! So you get a nice slice of life in Thailand at the beginning of the film and some historical culture bits. Though a few of the fights are rather slow, for the majority (especially in the garage, at the church, and up in the buildind HQ) they are quite awesome and beautifully orchestrated. There is even a cameo by Jackie Chan! The story is rather straight forward and not a lot of insight is given to the main character or some of those involved, but for pure matial arts action and excitement, it rocked! ***1/2 !

Movie of the Week - The Wicker Man

The Wicker Man
Staring: Nicolas Cage, Ellen Burstyn, Kate Beahan, Frances Conroy, Molly Parker, Leelee Sobiesky, Diane Delano, Michael Wiseman, Erika-Shaye Gair, Christina Campbell, Emily Holmes, and more...

Premise: A motorcycle cop is trying to cope with a bizarre accident steeped in mystery, when he receives a letter from his fiance, who'd run away many years before without explanation. In the letter, she explains that her daughter has gone missing, and that the people who live on Summersisle seem to have no interest in helping her find out what happened to her. She begs him to come help her, that he is the only one she can trust.

Review: The film is full of images. Totally fascinating culture on the isle. Not for younger viewers as the images and topics could be disturbing. Good mystery film. Remake of the 1973 film by the same name. ***1/2!!

Movie of the Week - The Illusionist

The Illusionist
Staring: Edward Norton, Paul Giamatti, Jessica Biel, Rufus Sewell, Neil Burger, Michael London, Devid Levien, Brian Koppelman, Bob Yari, Carby Schulman, and Steven Millhauser

Premise: A stage Illusionist is momentarilly reunited with his noble, childhood sweetheart. After planning to get away together, she is found dead. Suddenly Eisenheimer is seen speaking to ghosts he brings up on stage. One of them ends up being his beloved.

Review: What a fun film! Some really nice effects and a great who-done-it mystery. Romance, politics, magic, class snobbery, and multiple level mystery! The clues are there, all you have to do it keep your eyes peeled! Loved the ambiance. ***1/2!!!

Friday, August 25, 2006

Book Review -- A Game of Thrones

A Game of Thrones
by George RR Martin

Premise: Winter is coming! The long Summer is ending and change is on its way. When the Hand of the King dies, the lives of the Starks are affected when King Robert decides he wants Ned to be his new Hand, bypassing others. When a mysterious letter from the previous Hand's wife insinuates the death was deliberate, and by the Queen's family, Ned is left with little choice but to take the position and go investigate.

Review: Each chapter is done from the point of view of a different character. Most belong to the Starks but there are several others as well - and serve to give the reader an encompassing view of what it going on in this rich world. My daughter hooked me into the series, telling me she especially loved it because it did not matter if you had chapters of your own, this did not keep you from getting killed! It is definitely a dark time and somewhat depressing. The waste hits the fan and hits it big. But volume 1 seems to be but the first peel of the onion and hints are given of the layers we might find underneath. We are but at the top of the pyramid. The book is dark and at times very brutal, life without tinted glasses in a harsh time about to get worse. Yet the characters are totally compelling with definite personalities of their own. The amount of detail/life he was breathed into this work is amazing. A great start to what promises to be an enjoyable if grissly ride. ***3/4!!!

Movie of the Week - Barnyard

Staring: Kevin James, Courtney Cox, Sam Elliot, Danny Glover, Wanda Sykes, and Andie McDowell

Premise: Otis, who has up to now led a party life, suddenly finds himself being chosen as leader of the barnyard, when Coyotes take the life of his foster father. Can Otis live up to the resposibility or will he cave under pressure?

Review: Very cute movie with deep messages and lots of fun. Though the whole concept of having boy and girl cows is rather weird (There's a bull at the farm also, but they never get into the details of how this works!) all else is fun! You get to see the whole farm get funky and loose. The boy tipping scene is definitely included and actually works well for what it was used for. Otis learns some hard lessons, but all comes out well in the end. ***1/2!

Friday, August 18, 2006

Book Review - Windfall

Windfall (Book 4 of the Weather Warden Series)
Author: Rachel Caine

Premise: Joanne Baldwin is finding life outside the Wardens somewhat difficult. Her job is demeaning, her powers seem to be going, and worse of all, David doesn't seem to be healing. But if that weren't enough, throw in her now destitute sister and the beginning of a djinn civil war!

Review: I think this is probably my favorite book of the series so far! Whirlwind action, mysteries, goons, family! The dominoes are still falling from the chaos of book 1 and continue to pick up steam. More is revealed about the origin of djinn and where they are going as a race. And if you thought things from her past haunted Joanne before, more are adding themselves to the pile. If there is one thing that happens around here is consequences to actions! :P ***3/4!!!!

Movie of the Week - The Ant Bully

The Ant Bully
Cast: Julia Roberts, Nicolas Cage, Meryl Streep, Bruce Campbell (Oh yeah!)

Premise: Lucas, a 10 year old boy, is constantly picked on by the neighborhood bully and not taken seriously by his family. Frustrated, he takes out his feelings on the local an colony. Well, the ants have had enough of that! Deciding to take steps of their own, they shrink Lucas to their size and drag him to the ant hill for judgement. Unlike what some want, however, Lucas is not killed, but told he will remain with them until he too is an ant.

Review: Very cute movie! Awesome animation. The ants have their own unique look and feel even culture. Bruce Campbell is a total hoot as Fugax! Lessons are learned on all sides, not just by Lucas. May give parents a problem as their kids will no longer want them to kill ants and they spread jelly beans out on the lawn for their ant friends. :P ***!!!!

Friday, July 28, 2006

Comic Con 2006

Comic Con 2006

I decided to actually go to a convention this year where I would NOT be working! Woot! I have a bunch of friends who meet at Comic Con in San Diego every year and get together to attend the con but also to discuss and watch episodes and incarnations of a 70’s Japanese Anime called Kagaku Ninjatai Gatchaman and see if they can find other fans to meet and congregate with.
Comic Con is HUGE! Held at the San Diego convention center it sees anywhere from 70,000 to 110,000 people every year. It is a multi media convention and attracts a lot of top names. If you are in the comic book, toy, manga, movie, or TV industry, this is the place to come to generate interest.

I was able to attend several panels (Battle Star Galactica, Frank Miller’s 300, Bones, TMNT, Gatch viewings, Sergio Aragones, Kyle XY) all of which had previews, interviews, and info. The dealer’s room is gigantic and not only are there goods to buy, but there are giveaways, freebies, and all sorts of things to look at. This year had a replica of the Mark 5 from Speed Racer, a giant Snake mouth for Snakes on a Plane, a statue of a chimney/gargoyle/Batman made of Legos, Robbie the Robot and more! I walked for the whole 5 days and I’ve never done so much walking in my life! And who knows what stuff I still missed.

Weirdly enough, I was not the only Dallasite at the convention! I spotted and talked to John Picacio and saw Ben Bella Books hocking their wares. I felt like I was home! :P
When I left home, we’d been on our 5th or 6th consecutive 100+ degree day. On the plane, they told us it was a measly 85 in San Diego. I was very excited by this till I left the airport. What they did not have in temperature, they made up for in humidity! Oy!

Though I didn’t get a chance to see much of San Diego, I did take one side trip. A friend let me know that Sony Online Entertainment was doing a Block Party and tour on Saturday and would ferry people there and back from the convention. He asked if I would go and take some pictures for his online gaming info group Ten Ton Hammer. I not only took the pics he wanted, but I got the bug and did a write up for him as well. He was ecstatic! (He keeps singing love songs at me online! Lol) If you’d like to check it out, the 2000 word article and pics of the Block Party are here.

I also got to meet two people I had either corresponded with over email for years or had played with online. It’s always great to be able to put a face to name. Overall, I had a real good time! I was sad to leave.

Have a lot of pics of the con.

Friday, July 14, 2006

In The Service of Samurai as MP3's!

My novel In the Service of Samurai is now being serialized as MP3's at
The first 5 chapters are up and more will be on the way. is a free MP3 site for audio books. Most are read by the author.

It's been a definite experience to get myself set up for this and to get it moving, but I am committed! (Or I should be committed. :P)

Check it out if you have a minute! Might just discover something new!

Movie of the Week - Pirates of the Caribbean 2

Pirates of the Caribbean 2: Dead Man's Chest
Cast: Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Keira Kingsley, Jack Davenport, Bill Nighy, etc.

Premise: Captain Jack Sparrow finds out that his deal with Davey Jones has run out. It's time to pay up. But Jack figures Davey has to find him first! At the same time, Will's and Elizabeth's wedding is first interrupted by bad weather and then by bad fortune. Lord Cutler Beckett has them both arrested for treason for their roles in Jack's escape. However, he has a proposition for them, if Will will go find Jack and get his special compass, he will let them go free. Jack's and Cutler's paths have crossed before.

Review: Lots of excitement, laughs, and high adventure! The fact they throw in Will's father as part of Davey Jone's crew adds to the fun. However, this film seemed darker than the first, though I can't pin down exactly why. A let down was the sword play, nowhere near as good as the first films. A lot of the original cast comes back for this film as well, which was surprising and fun! Warning though! This film ends up in a semi cliffhanger for part 3!!!! No previews, but there is a bit after the credits so stay in your chairs. Overall though the film was good fun and leaves you frothing for part 3. Which they better hurry up with!!!! ***1/2

Movie of the Week - Superman Returns

Superman Returns
Cast: Brandon Routh, Kate Bosworth, James Marsden, Kevin Spacey, Parker Posey, etc.

Premise: Superman has been gone for 5 years. Now he has returned and tries to go back to his old life only to find that things have changed. Lois has a 5 year old and a boyfriend, and no longer seems to feel the world needs Superman. Lex Luthor is also out due to a technicality and he has been busy. He's located Superman's Fortress of Solitude and has taken some of its treasures for himself. The Man of Steel has a tough road ahead.

Review: The beginning sequence is way cool!!! Though the font they used for the title made me and my husband crack up as it looked way too similar to the Star Wars font. Lots of kudos to the original Superman film, which was neat! The colors of the costume were changed, and while the blue was way cool, the red was too dark. Eek! The story's multiple storylines were entertaining, Kevin Spacey a hoot as Lex. Lots of little jokes all over the place. Effects were great! My only nitpick would have to be over the damage Lois Lane is subjected to - she would have been dead a few times over! lol! And while I enjoyed Kate Bosworth's performance, I felt she for a woman (Lois) who had spent years being in danger and getting herself in and out of situations with and without Superman, that in this she showed way too much fear and not enough confidence in herself. That was too bad. Overall though, fun fun film! ***1/2!

Friday, June 30, 2006

Book Review -- Chill Factor

Chill Factor - Book 3 of the Weather Warden Series
Author: Rachel Caine

Premise: Picking up where we were left off in Book 2, Joanne and David have been trying to get to Las Vegas to confront Kevin and Jonathan. Unfortunately they've been less than successful. Then the Wardens show up and demand Joanne hand over David as they want to try to trade Djinn. David convinces Jo to go along, but then everything starts going sideways.

Review: As fast paced as the other books, you're in for a wild ride! As you can see from the dates of my reviews, finished this one in a week. Had to read! Must admit I wanted to go hunt Rachel down and smack her a couple of times as she threw in her twists and turns and shocks! :P Another great ride! (Reading something in between as I need to catch my breath! lol) ***1/2!

Movie of the Week - Click

Starring: Adam Sandler, Kate Beckinsale, Christopher Walken, Henry Winkler, David Hasselhoff

Premise: Hard working man being abused by his work goes out shopping for a universal remote hoping to at least simplify one small part of his life. The device he ends up with, however, ends up being a "self learning" remote for life.

Review: A very cute movie overall. Giant kudos to whoever came up with the remote menu sequences and also all the future technology as time passes. Loved the homage to original Star Trek at the hospital, even Tron. Many touching moments as the hero learns that work is not as important as family. Many funny moments. Christopher Walken was a hoot.

My only regret about the film was the mean things the main character does to the little boy next door. While a snot who brags about his things, you get the definite impression this is a cry for attention, and the cruelty visited on him by Sandler as a relief valve were very unkind and never redeemed.

While this film will be a riot for teens and adults, it is probably not suitable for young children due to one of the main and repeated jokes in the film having to do with the dog and the duck plushie. Horribly hilarious, but probably not appropriate. And will bring up many questions. :P

Like I said, aside from the one sour item, the film was a hoot. ***!!!!!

Friday, June 23, 2006

Price of Mercy - 1st Draft is done!!!! Yay!

Just finished my 1st draft of "Price of Mercy" my latest novel. Phew!
I always find the 1st draft the longest and most tedious part of the process of writing. After that it's all down hill, editing, fixing, tucking, changing, but the main output of creativity is over! Huzzah!

Sent a 1 page outline to my main publisher Zumaya Publications and they seemed to like the premise. (Tried to send her one about mid way which was a total mistake! I wasn't sure then how the whole mess would turn out. lol. Books do tend to take strange twists and turns when it suits them. Love that!)

Happy Dance Time! Whoop!
(Now to get back to work! lol)

Book Review - Heat Stroke

Heat Stroke (Book 2 of the Weather Warden Series)
by Rachel Caine

Premise: Joanne Baldwin died. Now she finds she's still alive, but not as a human -- as a djinn. While she attempts to acclimate herself to what she has become, she also slowly becomes aware that David, the djinn who saved her, might have broken laws to do this--and there will be consequences. Add to this the fact some kind of force seems to be seeping in from another dimension which cannot be touched by Warden or djinn powers, and storm of trouble is building in the horizon for our outspoken heroine.

Review: Once again Rachel Caine delivers a fast paced ride as turbulent and changing as any piece of weather out there. We learn more about the djinn as a race, their origins, their rules. Also learn more about Bad Bob and those he consorted with and who now come back to haunt them all as the backlash for all the mess in the first book comes trickling down. All your favorite characters are back and more. Warning, you better buy book 3 before you finish this one or you'll be beating your head against the wall! lol! ***3/4!!!!!

Movie of the Week - Cars

Cars (animated)

Starring: Owen Wilson, Bonnie Hunt, Paul Newman, Larry the Cableguy, Cheech Marin, George Carlin, Richard Petty, Michael Keaton, Tony Shalhoub, John Ratzenberger, Michael Wallis, Paul Dooley, and Jeniffer Lewis.

Premise: Up and coming Racer Lightining McQueen was on his way to a major race when he inadvertently takes a detour and ends up having to spend time at Radiator Springs, a small town off the beaten track on its way to oblivioun. At first dismissive of the cars and life there, he slowly comes to find that there's more here than he could ever find in his racing life.

Review: This of this as "Doc Hollywood" (Michael J Fox) meets computer generated cars. If you loved the Michael J film, you should love this one just as much. While the story itself holds no surprises, it is beautifully told. All the characters are likeable and ring true. The world in which they live in, where cars and not humans are the dominant lifeform has a lot of lovely little touches. Bus = miniature BMW Bettle's with wings. The canyons around Radioator Springs are shaped like radiators. The wave done with headlights intead of arms. Very very cute! ***1/2!!! And make sure to stay through the credits and the end! Fan service during both!

Monday, June 19, 2006

Book Review - Striking Back from Down Under

Striking Back from Down Under by Dr. Bob Rich

Premise: This is an anthology of Dr. Bob Rich's stories about bullying, victimization, the preying of one person on another, and how the victims are able to overcome the stumbling blocks placed in their path.

Review: This anthology was a finalist in the EPPIES in 2001. Bob Rich's characters are believable and likeable, his prose easy on the eyes. Many of the stories are set in Australia, while others deal with people from different cultures or other exotic locations. All give a nice peek into other places and sometimes ways of thinking. Some of the content may prove a little strong for some readers, but aside from one or two not overtly so. Though it is listed as the second story in the book, I would recommend starting with "Cruelty and Compassion", it nicely exemplifies Dr. Rich's skill and is a better taste of what to expect from the rest of the book than "Game Planet". Overall I enjoyed it and was well worth the read. ***!!

For more info on Dr. Bob Rich and his other works, please visit

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Movie of the Week - X-Men: The Last Stand

X-Men: The Last Stand
Starring: Patrick Stewart, Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Ian McKellen, Famke Janssen, and more.

Premise: A "cure" is found for the mutant gene by a private firm. Magneto uses this "cure" as a catalyst for uprising. He also solicits the help of a newly awakened Jean Grey.

Review: Well, I will tell you now I am biased against these films because the time period they cover was about the time I was reading the series. And the liberties (and some stupidities) they've done in the films don't sit well. If you don't know anything about the comics, you should enjoy this movie quite well. The acting is good, the story line decent, and the special effects very nice. As they have done in all three, a lot of the other characters get thrown in purely for filler or because they are familiar icons and they hope it will be a draw (As in Juggernaut and Colossus). In many ways this is a somewhat darker film than the others, but still no blood or gore. Several cute moments, and a lot of angst. ***!!!

(SPOILER!!!!) For those of you who might like to know, here are a few of the items that made true fans grit their teeth in annoyance. Colossus (Peter) was one of the main 5 characters in the series, here he's thrown in for effect and has 1 line. Juggernaut is NOT a mutant. The X-Men universe has magic and high science, and Juggernaut's power comes from a red stone in his helmet and not because he is a mutant at all. So the one big joke on him, would not have worked. Cyclops and Xavier do not die in the Dark Phoenix saga. They continue to give mutants multiple powers when they only have one. Wolverine only seems to have two - but his is healing. Which is why he was chosen to be experimented on and due to his rapid healing, they were able to replace/coat his bones with Adamantine. Yet mutant after mutant in the films exhibit multiple powers. Did love Hank's treatment, and Wolverine always comes out looking good. :P There's probably a few more tidbits, but I will be good now. lol

Friday, June 02, 2006

Book Review - The Emancipator's Wife

The Emancipator's Wife
by Barbara Hambly

Premise: The life and times of Mary Todd aka Mrs. Abraham Lincoln.

Review: Weirdly enough I have seen a couple of reviews on this book that complain that there's not enough info on Lincoln or battles, etc on the Civil War. My take on that is "Huh?" Did they not read the title? It's called The Emancipator's WIFE. This is not a book about Licoln or the war, though both are definitely involved. This is the story of Mary Todd Lincoln. The thing I like to say most about this book is - WOW. It was a totally eye opening experience. While a work of fiction, it does have a lot of historical research involved and it is presented in a wonderfully entertaining manner. You get to see the issues facing that time period from all sides and can view the complexities not normally discussed regarding slavery, the Civil War, and the wide ranging opinions on what solutions would be best for all involved.

Even more amazing, is the view into the shackles placed on women, by men, society, and women themselves. The concepts on medicine and the female anatomy are astounding. And the legal rights of women considered odd/insane by male relatives totally disturbing.

This is the story of a strong woman, dealing with internal and external difficulties. I found it riveting and incredibly fascinating. Kudos to Hambly for tackling this subject! If anyone can make history come to life, it is definitely her! ****

Friday, May 26, 2006

Movie of the Week - Over the Hedge

Over the Hedge
Staring: Bruce Willis, Garry Shandling, William Shatner, Steve Carell, Wanda Sykes, and Nick Nolte.

Premise: RJ (Bruce Willis/raccoon) finds himself in a heap of trouble with a bear who has given him an ultimatum - replace everything that was destroyed in one week, or he will be hunted down and killed. So RJ frantically looks for someplace to get the goods which need replacing and runs across a new development. Even better, he runs across a group of foragers who are just about to start gathering food for the following winter. RJ decides to enlighten them to the ways of man and hopefully can get them to get all he needs for him.

Review: Very cute film. Lots of funny moments, especially the climax toward the end. The acting and computer animation are great. Make sure to sit through the credits! There's a little extra bit at the end! ***1/2!!

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Movie of the Week - The Da Vinci Code

The Da Vinci Code
Staring: Tom Hanks, Audrey Tautou, Ian McKellen, Alfred Molina, Jurgen Prochnow, Paul Bettany, and Jean Reno

Premise: Symbology History expert touring in Paris is asked by the police for his expert opinion on the murder scene of the curator for the Louvre. While inspecting the site, he meets Sophie, a police cryptologist, who tells him the evidence was tampered with and that he is currently the one and only suspect for the crime. His only chance is to escape with her and attempt to solve the riddles her dead grandfather left behind in the hopes they will lead to the real killer.

Review: A fun puzzle treasure hunt movie. Amazing vistas, lots of great locations. Tom Hanks does his usual great job. Ron Howard did some awesome imagery insertion of the past into the present scenes when talking about different spots in history as the characters discuss/argue/puzzle out the clues. Also loved how they dealth with showing Dr. Langston's partial editic memory reconstructions. Very nice! If you've seen this type of film before, it is not outstanding in its own genre, but a lot of fun nonetheless. Weirdly enough, despite all the religious hooplah accompanying the film's release, it doesn't really bad mouth the church (just the usual bad apples that might creep into it), and ends up being a reaffirmation of faith for the main characters despite the truths they've uncovered. Fun film! ***1/2!!!!
And in case you want to check the Last Supper for yourself- Last Supper

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Movie of the Week - Poseidon

Staring: josh Lucas, Kurt Russel, Richard Dreyfuss, Emmy Rossum, and Jacinda Barret

Premise: The cruise ship Poseidon is hit by a giant wave and turned upside down. The survivors need to figure out a way to stay alive and get out of the ship.

Review: I was actually looking forward to this movie. I remember the original fondly. The special effects were good, the far off scenes of the wave and the full moon over it utterly gorgeous. The acting was also good. That being said however... One of the characters is a young boy, toward the end, to seemingly up the suspense, he runs off to explore though he has seen explosions, bodies, flooding, etc and though pretty smart for before, now turns into an idiot and goes off without telling anyone. Very contrived. Worse (though the film tries very very hard to push the fact no one else is alive) the heroes start filling a ballast tank to get to a hatch, and then leave the thing running. With the ship in the condition it is in, filling all the ballasts will sink it. Yet not a thought is given by the characters to the fact that if anyone else is alive on the ship, they've just signed their death warrant.

With the talent gathered for the film in both acting and technical, this could have really been good if the scripting had had as much attention. It didn't and so it suffered for it. :( ** of 4 (Or as my husband would put it - better on cable.) :P

Friday, May 12, 2006

Movie of the Week - Mission Impossible 3

Mission Impossible 3
Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes

Premise: Ethan Hunt has left the life of being an MI agent and now only trains others for the job. He has found a woman he loves and is about to marry her. He is contacted by the agency and told that his most talented student, now in the field, has been compromised and kidnapped. Though they normally disavow all knowledge of their agents, they are willing to make an exception in this case due to the information she might have. Ethan goes on the mission to save her, and though the look like they will get away with it, the agent is still killed. Info on the man responsible, leads Ethan to continue with the case. But all turns out not to be as it seems.

Review: Great stunts, great acting, great choreography! Though some have called the film somewhat unrealistic, that is what these have always been about. It is a non-stop ride, starting you with Ethan in big big trouble and then going back to show us how he came to be in that situation. The movie is worth it just for some of the locations in the shoots. :P If you're looking for non-stop action and adventure, this movie is for you!!! ***1/2!!

Book Review - The Man Who Tried to Get Away

The Man Who Tried to Get Away
by Stephen R Donaldson

Premise: Mick "Brew" Axebrewder is in the hospital, recovering from the gun shot wound he received from El Señor's bodyguard. Calls start coming in warning Brew that El Señor is not feeling forgiving on the fact Brew killed the man who shot him. His partner, Ginny Fistoulary, has been hiding her own concern on the subject, until she shows up one day telling him she's gotten them a cushy job that will get them out of town. They've been hired as security for a murder camp retreat. Too hurt and full of misery on several counts, neither questions the job sufficiently before going there. Brew sees that Ginny is attracted to one of the guests and starts agonizing that he might be finally losing her. Then the murders start. And though he was missed, it looks like the actual intended target was Brew. But now they are all stuck in the lodge, snowed in, all means of escape denied them. Brew and Ginny must find out who the killer is before it is too late.

Review: This was one twisted puppy! A bizarre yet compelling cast of characters. Some awesome discussions on mystery fiction vs. real life. More Ginny and Brew angst.Relationshipsps, sneaking, lies, and more galore! And definitely several surprises. Good stuff! 3 1/2!

Book Review - The Man Who Risked His Partner

The Man Who Risked His Partner
by Stephen R Donaldson

Premise: Mick "Brew" Axebrewder has not had a drink for 6 months. He's been helping his partner, Ginny Fistoulari, try to cope with the loss of her hand. Brew is getting desperate, trying anything he can think of to try to get the old Ginny back. So when a case crops up that might be tied to El Señor, the biggest crime boss in the city, pops up, Brew makes them take it, hoping to somehow use it to jump start Ginny back into the detective she was before the bomb. His attentions are divided, however, as the son of some Hispanic friends has also disappeared--the boy was a numbers runner for El Señor.

Review: Filled with a lot of twists and turns. Interesting study of some rather unusual psyches in this one. Awesome noir work and lots of angst. Shows what a man might do when push comes to shove. Another great work by Mr. Donaldson. 3 1/2!

Friday, April 28, 2006

Movie of the Week - Lucky Slevin

Lucky Slevin

Cast: Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, plus

Premise: A young man named Slevin gets caught in a huge case of mistaken identity by two different mob bosses as a hit man manipulates things in the background.

This was a weird puppy. Definitely in no way is it for kids! Though mostly a tongue-in-cheek comedy, the violence portrayed is graphic and strong! I did enjoy it and the mystery behind it all is done well. Bruce Willis was a lot of fun, as were all the cast. Lucy Lou(sp?) and Slevin had good sparks going between them. If you want something a little quirky, mysterious, and some good hitman action, this one is for you. ***!!

Friday, April 21, 2006

Book Review - Ill Wind

Ill Wind
Author: Rachel Caine

Premise: Weather Warden Joanne is in big trouble, really big trouble. The people she works with will either strip her of her powers or kill her if they find out, so rather than stay and explain the death of Bad Bob, her regional supervisor, Joanne goes off to try to find the only person she thinks might help, Lewis, a renegade warden. Only problem is, someone or something out there is determined to make sure she doesn't find him and make her dead.

What a ride! It took me for a ride in a wild tornado, I had a terrible time putting this book down. We come in right in the middle of Joanne's problem and through asides and what trouble she's going through to find Lewis, we slowly but surely get the story of what has put her in such a desperate race in the first place. Joanne, herself, is almost as unpredictable as the weather she works with. She hot, she's sensual, she likes cars, and she means business! Too much fun. ***3/4

Book Review - The Wheel of the Infinite

The Wheel of the Infinite
Author: Martha Wells

Premise: Maskelle left her high position with the priesthood due to actions 7 years earlier. Now, she has been summoned by the Celestial One and told to return. She picks up a currently free personal guard on the way, as she travels with an acting puppet troupe, who need a curse removed from one of their puppets. The closer she comes to the city, the more signs of things not being normal she runs across. All this as the Hundred Year Ceremony approaches, the one that will remake the world and hold it steady for another century.

Vibrant and rich cultures abound--the characters are used as foils for each other so we can learn the different aspects of them even as the mystery of why Maskelle has been summoned unfolds. A nice adventurous romp with characters you will grow to love! Definitely worth reading. ***1/2

Movie of the Week - The Wild

The Wild
(Computer Animated)

Premise: Young lion having adolescent issues with his father, accidentally gets trapped in an animal carrier and taken from the Zoo. His father and several friends, break out of the Zoo to go after him and bring him home.

This is a cute little tale with a couple of themes/issues running through it. One from the side of the son, is not being able to live up to his father's reputation. The other, which springs later, is the father needing to reveal certain truths about himself to his son.

Though not as fun as Madagascar, the film still had many cute moments. The dancing Wildebeest scene was a hoot! Also enjoyed the many of the quirky animals we meet, especially the chameleons. The koala was not very funny, but the thread they do with him about the plushies is. Definitely worth a look, just don't set expectations too high. :P ***

Friday, April 07, 2006

Movie of the Week - Inside Man

Inside Man
Cast: Jody Foster, Denzel Washington.

Premise: A cop, currently in some hot water with the precinct, gets a break and is assigned to a bank robbery in progress. The police believe they caught they've trapped them in the bank. Yet what we see says different.

The perfect robbery - or is it? Nice game of cat and mouse and misdirection. Some great acting and some very smart doings. Enjoyed it tons!
Beautiful set up. ***3/4

Movie of the Week - Ice Age 2

Enjoyed Ice Age 1, enjoyed Ice Age 2 even more!
There was lots and lots of Scrat! The plot was good, and we had lots of Scrat! Love Scrat! And the ending bit was beautiful! lol. All the returning characters were great and there were a whole bunch of new character/creatures to to meet and have fun.
If you liked Ice Age 1, you will love #2! Lots of fun!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

MidSouthCon 2006

At the Holiday Inn Select in Memphis, TN March 24-26th I had the pleasure once again to be a guest at MidSouthCon.

I did couple of anime panels as well as the Yard Dog Road Show, a reading, and the ever popular "Dark and Stormy Night" panel.

The "Dark and Stormy Night" panel is a last day panel for the enjoyment of the fans and torture of the panelists (but it is still a lot of fun as you can make your fellow panelists cringe in horror! Bwahahaha). The premise is that throughout the con, the fans have been putting quotes from movies, TV, commercials, books, whatever on pieces of paper and piling them in a bucket. On the day of the panel, a setting is chosen by the audience, then the panelists must take one of the pieces of papers and incorporate whatever is there into the tale being spun. Makes for a lot of hilarity and comedic faces. Add in Selina Rosen, Lee Martindale, myself and the two other writers (I am ashamed to say I forgot their names! Argh!) and it was a ball! If you ever get a chance to go to one of those - don't miss it!!!

Made a number of new friends like Joy Ward and Haley Elizabeth Garwood and Kara who were a total hoot and definitely made the hours pass quickly in the dealer's room. Also had some great conversations with some of the dealers as we sat around and pushed our wares.

To my pleased surprise Order of the Stick was at the con! It's a comic strip on the web that is a total hoot. It's done by Rich Burlew. The art is done in a funky style, but the wit is razro sharp. A must for anyone who has ever gamed. Too darn funny!

Great guests, great panels, great friends - not much more could be asked for! I had a very good time. Thanks all!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

EPICon 2006

From Thursday to Sunday I was in san Antonio attending EPICon 2006.

A con mostly for writers and publishers interested in e-books, it is still a great venue for anyone interested in the craft, with lots of panels and demonstrations.

What makes this convention even more fun are the extras that come with it. Admission gets you fed most of the weekend for one. We also got a private tour of the Alamo (which was a lot smaller than I thought it would be), and a ride on the canal on one of the riverboats. Because we were considered a tour group, we even got taken to places people do not get to see on the regular rides. Yay! Our boat driver was awesome too, had a ton of information.

Of course the con is also a great place for networking and talking one on one with e-book/print publishers. The highlight of the con is the EPPIES, awards for fine writing in e-publishing, presented by the MC for Life - Jeff Strand. Normally a very shy individual, he out does himself every year causing audiences to roll on the floor. He is a hoot! (His horror mysteries splashed with a little comedy are not half bad either!) :P

The location for 2007 will be Virginia Beach, Va and looks to be shaping up to a fab time! We get to take over a beach hotel! Oh yeah!

For more info on EPICON, the EPPIES, or EPIC check out

Movie of the Week - V for Vendetta

WOW! All I can say is WOW!
Truly enjoyed this movie. I was crying everywhere but honestly loved it. (I cry easy at movies so don't be concerned.) :P Natalie Portman was wonderful. Everyone was. And the voice of V was perfect.
Interesting story line, good action and combat scenes, lots of symbolism everywhere. It does slow down a little in a couple of places and they would show certain flashbacks a bit much, but aside from that it was perfect.
A grand mystery of vengeance, which layer by layer lies exposed until the truth shines.
My husband saw it last Friday while I was away at a con, and actually looked forward to seeing it again when I got my chance on Sunday. With him, this is rare!
Oh, and once you see this film, you will never hear the 1812 overture quite the same ever again. :)

Go see it now!

Friday, March 10, 2006

Movie of the Week - Shaggy Dog

I love Tim Allen - all his movies are a hoot. Shaggy Dog is no exception. Lots of fun and feel good moments. And some definite comedy. If you love dogs, this movie is definitely for you. They definitely did their homework. Too darn cute! ***3/4!!

Friday, March 03, 2006

Movie of the Week - Ultraviolet

I has hopeful expectations on this one, especially after the fun with Aen Flux. Unfortunatly it did not live up anywhere near.

Some neat effects, some cool tech, but way too little explanation on things. Another 10 minutes would have done a lot for the film. And there were other problems, like some issues with the fighters and #'s vs 1. Some of the fights were too fuzzy. Though the one on the roof was sweet.

Nice try, but needed more. **1/2

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Cross-Eyed Dragon Troubles Sample Chapters

Cross-Eyed Dragon Troubles now has sample chapters up at the website. Just go to

Here's some quick info on the book. Should be released in 2006 by HardShell Word Factory.

Talia didn’t want to be apprenticed, not even to the prestigious Dragon Knight’s Guild. She is taken to the school by a cross-eyed dragon and his partner, Kel. A dizzying, madcap ride leaves her less than eager to be a knight, but soon she finds out the guild has need of many types of people. Running into the dragon and squire again and again, she comes to realize the unlikely pair are outsiders in their own school—participants of the dragon-human pairing ritual, which in the end didn’t work quite as intended. They are stubborn loners who are determined to overcome the obstacles in their path and make a true pair, as was intended. Or are they?
As Talia’s first year at the guild evolves, she must deal with the quirks of the Administrator, her lessons, the odd rules of the school, the students, the mystery of Clarence and Kel, and somewhere in there, possibly decide what it is she wants for her own future.

If you have the time, please check it out!


ConDFW just completed its 5th year this past weekend. For those not in the know, ConDFW is a Dallas, Texas Sci-Fi/Fantasy convention.

Despite the tons of rain, all the guest panels seemed to be very well attended. Conversely, the dealers room was dead! Was quite weird. But the concom told me the two seem to flip from year to year for no reason they've ever been able to pin point.

I did still sell 4 books, so that covered my cost of the shared table. Phew! Luckily Yard Dog Press, which was also in attendance, did much better on the book selling front. But then again, when you have 10+ Yard Doggie Authors on hand to sniff out customers, of course they will come! lol.

Met a bunch of fellow authors that it is a always a pleasure to see and had some good conversations with them as well as several fans.

Looking forward to coming back in 2007!

Where has the time gone?!?!?!

*sigh* Don't know how this keeps happening. I blink and a month has gone by, I've done no updates, buried in email, far behind on promo, and let's not talk about work! lol.

They say that the older you get the faster time passes. To be honest, I think this is true! It's almost like the time lived weighs against the time being lived and so it zooms in our perceptions the older we get. A very strange phenomenom. Of course, the more fun we're having the even faster it goes! :P

Movie of the Week - Pink Panther

(Oh my! It's been a month since I have blogged? Where has the month gone????)

I was hesitant to see this movie. Not because I don't like Steve Martin, he can be a real hoot, but being Peter Sellers would be a feat few could attempt to accomplish. But hubby wanted to go, so I finally caved.

The movie was fun. The people involved definitely wanted to pay homage to the old films. So much so, that it begins with the Pink Panther theme and even the Pink Panther himself, as well as a new Cruseau toon that more resembles Mr. Martin.

A lot of slapstick, some recurring jokes, even some serious matters, egad! A couple of spots were totally hilarious. Steve puts his own spin on the detective and does fairly well. The James Bond joke was too funny. No Kato though, which was too bad.

Overall a pretty cute, funny, and entertaining piece. ***

Friday, January 27, 2006

Anime - JA-PAN

JA-PAN - the title itself is a play on words. The Spanish word "pan" is also the same word Japanese use to say bread. This anime is a cooking show and it is all about bread! Battles of cooking prowess, ingenuity, things like Sun Hands, and Sun gauntlet, battle royal in the kitchen.

The show does not take itself too seriously yet at the same time it does. There's all sorts of bread making tips to discover and angst involved with some of the characters lives and how they came to be involved in bread making. The story follows Azuma Kazuma who has come to the big city to get a job at the top bakery in the country called Pantasia. For his dream, which he got from a local baker, is to make a bread that will be called Ja-Pan. For other countries have breads named after them and there's no reason Japan should be an exception.

The funniest part of this show are some of the reactions of the people when they try some of the bread, especially the innovative ones Kazuma normally makes. You've never seen folks in such throes of ecstasy! lol. My favorite so far was the turtle bread that when eaten by the judge made sounds of Gamera echo in the soundtrack, had him spinning like the giant turtle, and we got to see it fly across the screen as they went head to head with the original theme music in the background. This show is a total hoot!

Movie of the Week - Underworld 2

For those who saw Underworld 1, you will be thrilled to know it picks up only minutes from the end of the first film. I should have gone and watched #1 first to refresh the old nogging but... :)

Lots of action, back story on the vampires and werewolves as a race, finally find out how and why the heroines parents were killed and how she was adopted by the head vampire.

Did have the weirdest love scene as there was no way it could work with how they showed them. What's truly funny is that obviously no one editing the film thought it looked funny. lol

A couple of nice twists, but nothing too surprising. But that's not why we go see these so it was all good! lol. Nice adventure romp!


Movie of the Week - Dick and Jane

Dick and Jane is the new Jim Carey film. It was funny and poignant all at once.
It's about Dick and Jane (which they relate to the children's books--so it was a funky thing as they kept using phrases from the kids books like "Run, Dick, run."--who end up losing their jobs and not being able to get others jobs for months and what they do as their lives slowly get more and more desperate. Then they find out that Dick's company was embezzled and they come up with a way to get the money back for all the people left without jobs from that old company. Was a lot of fun though some of the things they went through were both hilarious and disturbing. All the things one fears when losing their job taken to extremes. Brrrr.

One other point that I just kept rolling in the aisle about was their little boy. Both parents obviously worked late hours and so their son spent most of his time with his Spanish Nany. So he spoke in Spanish, had a Spanish accent, and watched Spanish TV. It was too darn funny! At the end of the film he's teaching his parents the language. :P


(Yes I know, I seem to grade just about everything a ***1/2 but it's the "!" that make the difference.) :P
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...