Friday, January 31, 2014

Movie Review - Labor Day

Labor Day

Starring: Kate Winslet, Josh Brolin, Gattlin Griffith, Tobey Maguire, Tom Lipinski, Malika Monroe, Clark Gregg, James Van Der Beek, Brighid Fleming, and more.

Directed by: Jason Reitman Screenplay by: Jason Reitman Based on the Novel by: Joyce Maynard Cinematography by: Eric Steelberg Music by: Rolfe Kent

Premise: Over the long Labor Day weekend in 1987, Henry and his reclusive mother end up with a uninvited guest, an escaped convict. With secrets being hidden on all sides, this unexpected visitor might turn out to be exactly what they've needed all along. (Rated PG-13)


1) Acting - Total Thumbs Up: Kate Winslet was totally convincing as Adele. Just seeing her for the first time, it was obvious Adele constantly fought battles with herself to try to remain at least partially functional for her son. Josh Brolin as the mysterious Frank also did a superb job - looming one moment, unusually tender the next, then threatening again. Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin had good chemistry. It was fun watching them start to feel for one another even as they fought the unexpected urges. Watching Gattlin Griffith watching them was a treat. His large expressive eyes will get him far. His narratives added an unexpectedly great flavor to the story as a whole.

2)  Plot/Story - Thumbs Up: The film starts as we leisurely travel down a two lane blacktop road. The music is soft. All the views are things you might see while traveling one lane blacktop roads in New England. Put together it generates a laid back mood, like being in a hammock during a soft afternoon. And for the most part, the whole film moves in the same way throughout.

The point of view for the film mostly comes from Henry, with some disjointed tiny flashbacks thrown in about Frank's story here and there, as well as a reveal from Adele of what truly brought her to have the secluded life she leads. But because the film is mainly focused on Henry, the romance element is never heavy.

There are lots of cute, quirky moments, many coming from Eleanor, whose pessimistic wisdom get's Henry into trouble a couple of times.

3) Locations/Cinematography - Total Thumbs Up: The story takes place in a lovely New England town cobbled together from multiple locations in Massachusetts. The shots are often idyllic and filled with feeling. Yet it is Adele's home that is center stage for most of the tale. Just looking at the facade of the house instantly gave the audience a ton of information on the status of those living within. The same view is used several times to impart changes in Adele's situation as time flows by.

Conclusion: No gun fights, no real violence, just lots of interesting people you want to know better. Some cute, tender, and even funny moments are sprinkled through the film. "Labor Day" is what you expect, yet at the same time it's not. Your heartstrings will be tugged at the end, no matter how hard you try not to let them.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 (Hubby's Rating: Worth Full Price of Admission (Really! A guy said that! YES!))

And because I gotta - My urban fantasy novel "Inner Demons" has been released! Trade paperback and multiple ebook formats abound (Nook, Kindle, pdf, and more). Paperback are currently only available at the publisher's website but should come down and be available at the usual the channels soon! Huzzah!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Picture Kaleidoscope 1/29/14

Doing this puppy way in advance. So it shouldn't be late! :)

Snow Owl by Morris Bennett Altman at I love the owl's expression. Kind of like "Hey, kid, you're bothering me. Shoo!" Heh heh

Morris Bennett Altman: Birds &emdash;

He's got lots of bird, animal pics, and more! Nice work Altman! And this guy here also looks like he's saying something. "Hey, you! With the face!"

Evening Commute by Dave Gordon at Love, love, love the way the clouds are rolling in!
He has more awesome San Francisco pics at his site.

Photographer Brings the Landscapes of Brothers Grimm to Life in Haunting Photos at Petapixel. Article by DL Cade. Photography by Kilian Schoenberger. Great pics and atmosphere is awesome. :) According to the article, he's color blind - but it sure doesn't stop him from taking amazing photos.

Kilian Schoenberger has even more jaw dropping work at his site. Look at that view - Amazing!

22 Images From NYC's Golden Age of Bridge Building by Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan on Gizmo. Some oldies but goodies. 

Till next time!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Virtual Tourist - COGS 1/26/14

Morning, all!

Stumbled over a new little puzzle game last week. Has an awesome steampunk look and feel to it. And it's terribly cute. Multidimensional yet at the same time old fashioned puzzles. The pipe ones remind me of a game hubbins and I played eons ago. This new game is called COGS.

You get graded on the solution, time it took to solve, and number of moves. Collecting the stars opens up more puzzles. 

In Invention Mode you get the list of puzzles on one side and then an explanation of the particular highlighted puzzle on the right.

Beginning of the puzzle

When I completed it. Many of the puzzles have a result - for this one, it's filling up the balloon.

A 4 sided puzzle! Each side affected the next one! Crazy stuff!

Make all the bells stop ringing - not as simple as it sounds!!!

Make the clocks move at the same speed. This one almost did me in. Some of the special cogs did not play with each other. 

Pipe matching goodness!

Is this game cute or what? Available for just about all electronic devices. We got the PC version.
Have a great day!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Movie Review - I, Frankenstein

I, Frankenstein

Starring: Aaron Eckhart, Yvonne Strahovski, Miranda Otto, Bill Nighy, Jai Courtney, Socratis Otto, Aden Young, Caitlin Stasey, Mahesh Jadu, Steve Mouzakis, Nicholas Bell, and more.

Directed by: Stuart Beattie Screenplay by: Stuart Beattie Screen Story by: Kevin Grevioux and Stuart Beattie From the Graphic Novel by: Kevin Grevioux Based on Characters in the Novel by: Mary Shelley Cinematography by: Ross Emery Music by: Reinhold Heil and Johnny Klimek

Premise: Picking up where the Mary Shelley novel left off, the creature brings Frankenstein's body home to bury him at the family graveyard. A final act of grudging respcet after the scientist died while still pursuing his creation. While doing so, the creature is attacked by demons, who seem to know who and what he is. Rescued by shape shifting gargoyles, the creature is given a name and instructed about a conflict most are not aware of. And he's now become a part of it, whether he likes it or not. (Rated PG-13)


1) Acting - Total Thumbs Up: Aaron Eckhart was a great choice to play Victor Frankenstein's reanimated creation. Yvonne Strahovsky was a lot of fun as the eager scientist. She even wore sensible shoes! (Something usually unheard of in movies.) Bill Nighy continues his tradition of playing high ranking supernatural villains. Which works very well as he does such a great job of being a suave and persuasive type of evil.

2) Special Effects - Total Thumbs Up: "I, Frankenstein" has a ton of awesome special effects. The way the demons and gargoyles 'descend' and 'ascend' are incredibly flashy. The demons 'descending' even drill into the ground as they are ejected to the plain of Hell, which made for some cool visuals.

The switches between CGI and reality and back again, were close to seamless. This let them create some fun combat scenes as the actors fought one another and then their bodies would catch flame and deteriorate in moments while still moving. The shape shifting of the gargoyles looked good, but the demon changes looked even better.

Yet as in any Frankenstein film, it is the scientific gadgets that look coolest of all. Dr Wade's electricity chamber looked amazing in IMAX 3D. Loved the see through computer screens. And wait until you see the giant chamber of bodies and the electricity conducting coils - very impressive.

3) Story - Thumbs Up: I'd just recently seen the Frankenstein play by Danny Boyle, which shares the thoughts and feelings of the creature as well as Frankenstein's, so a lot of the general details of the Mary Shelley story were still fresh in my mind. So I was thrilled when the film began and they picked up pretty much were the story left off - the chase of the monster by his creator in the Arctic. They even quickly mentioned things from the novel that had already transpired for those not acquainted with the original work. Even better (despite what the name of the film makes it look like), they don't confuse 'Frankenstein' as the name of the creature. (The very end of the film ties back to the name they chose and it works quite well.)

In ancient times gargoyles were thought to be good for scaring away evil and for protection. It was one of the reasons they were used on so many buildings (and also as a way to funnel rainwater away from the buildings). So I loved how they took the old stories just one step further and made gargoyles shape shifters as well as actual defenders of humanity against 666 hordes from Hell. I almost laughed out loud when I saw their main headquarters - the choice could not have been more apt.

Even the symbol for the gargoyles order has basis in fact, as it looks very close to an upside down Papal Cross.

4) Stunts - Total Thumbs Up: There are a lot of fights in the film, and like I mentioned earlier, the combat using both real people and CGI combatants was great. I especially enjoyed the combat scene at the old building where Adam was staying.

5) Costuming/Makeup - Total Thumbs Up: I have to give the costuming department major 'kudos' for actually having a beautiful woman on screen who wears sensible shoes! As a research scientist, Dr. Wade would be on her feet a lot, and flats are just the thing. In most films, however, they would have still put her in heels to make her more appealing. So it was wonderful to see reality/common sense win for once.

The makeup department did an outstanding job as well. The makeup work on Adam was fantastic. The scar tissue on his face and upper body looked like the real thing.

Conclusion: If you're looking for some good supernatural action or are a fan of Frankentein, this movie is for you. Great visuals and special effects, as well as a fast paced solid plot, all of which will keep you thoroughly entertained.

Rating: 4 out of 5 (Hubby's Rating: Worth Full Price of Admission)

Also, if you're looking for a fun read, go check out my short story "Bloody Hell" which is now live at 4 Star Stories. And it's free! :)

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Picture Kaleidoscope 1/22/14

Running late again! Figures....

Wings in the sky!

Panorama, baby! Been a while since I did one of these. :)

Lots of pinks and blues in the sky lately

Molasses sky

Lots and lots of pinks and blues. :)

Some cool stained glass windows at the local Dave and Busters. Restaurant tucked away from the noise.

Here's another one.

Food wasn't bad at all either!

Macaroni and Cheese with Chicken. Or death by cheese!

More sunrises at work!

The company just introduced a new rewards system for employees. My boss got one. Love love love this case!

The reward is a silver dollar. Isn't she a beaut?

Such a novel idea. :)

Have a great one!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Mind Sieve 1/20/14

Already three weeks into the new year - *gasp* - So hard to believe....

Fan Fun

A Fantastic Fear of Everything Trailer - Simon Pegg is back! Looks totally bizarre. lol

The Railway Man Trailer 1 - this is going to require and entire box of Klennex...

Social Media/Author Platform

Top 10 Social Media Blog Finalists 2014: This Week in Social Media - plus what's new this week on social media - by Cindy King

Writing Advice

Author Beware - What To Look For In An Indie Publisher - guest post by PDMI Publishing. Definitely some good advice here. I've been quite lucky with my publishers, that's for sure.

Five Tips On How To Get Blurbs by E A Aymar. Nice tips! Though I am still too chicken. :P

Have a great week!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Virtual Tourist - Neverwinter 1/19/14


For some reason something has changed in my Steam application. I've not been able to get pics for Dishonored the last 2 times I had a few minutes to play. Starting to get annoying. Need time to go digging though to figure out what's up, which I've not had. :(

Anyway, did manage a few pics in Neverwinter yesterday. :)


Don't think I've taken a selfie in a while. :P

This place has great atmosphere! Does that look intimidating or what?

The Blue Star - Duwahhhh! (Probably before your time...:P) Did think the light shinning down on the (*hinthint*) artifact was cool.

Floating obelisk and magic runes! Woot!

The evil door has opened! Dum dum DUM! (We didn't go in. Quest inside was for a full group. Hubby and I alone would die in there. Heh heh)

Pirate's Skyhold

Giant swamp on a floating island and it's full of Lizard men! This is the closest I could get to take a picture of them without getting instantly assaulted. Hopefully I'll get a chance to do one better later.

May your Sunday be peaceful and not fraught with getting woken too early in the morning by Chaos Kitten. :P

Friday, January 17, 2014

Movie Review - Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

Starring: Chris Pine, Keira Knightley, Kevin Costner, Kenneth Branagh, Lenn Kudrjawizki, Alec Utgoff, Peter Anderson, Elena Velikanova, Nonso Anozie, and more.

Directed by: Kenneth Branagh Written by: Adam Cozad and David Koepp Based on Characters Created by: Tom Clancy Cinematography by: Hans Zambarloukos Music by: Patrick Doyle

Premise: After being hurt as a marine overseas, Jack Ryan finds a new goal for his life when recruited by a CIA operative who wants to use his high skills in economics to look for terrorist funds in banking institutions. So when he unearths the possibility of an economic attack on the US, Jack goes to Russia to do an audit. That's when he suddenly finds himself becoming a CIA operative, rather than a CIA administrative employee, because now people are trying to kill him. (Rated PG-13)


1) Acting - Thumbs Up: Chris Pine does a good job as the young, and eager recruit, Jack Ryan. Keira Knightley had good chemistry with Pine and gave the character of Cathy some nice little quirks to endear her to the audience. It was good to see Kevin Costner again. He did quite well as Jack's CIA boss. While not given much to work with, Kenneth Branagh did good work as well, especially during his scenes with Keira - some great chemistry, good and later bad, between him and the character of Cathy as well.

2) Special Effects - Total Thumbs Up: The special effects team gave us a few explosions and lots of cool looking computer screen activity. The final fight area must have given everyone a hard time - as they dealt with running water to the knees. Looked good though. And the final explosion of the film looked great.

3) Plot/Story - Neutral: For what the film set out to do, it was too short. It's only 105 minutes long. For some true character development and giving the audience a complicated plot, especially with spy thrillers, the requirement is at least 120 minutes, otherwise something won't get the attention it needs. Unfortunately for the "Shadow Recruit," the lack of proper time to tell the story ended up affecting several things.

Character development had many problems. There are four main figures in the film - Jack, Cathy, Thomas, and Viktor. Viktor's motivations made little sense, especially with what we find out late in the film. And aside from very small glimpses at the rest of them, there's not enough time to get to know any of them well. This unfortunately makes it harder to care about them. And if you don't get the audience to care about your characters, the battle is already lost.

Spy thrillers normally are complex puzzles filled with misdirects, surprises, and are full of tension. This definitely was not the case here. From very early on, we pretty much know the whole plan, just not the specific details, so no real puzzle there, just a time crunch for the hero. The couple of places they did try to surprise us were so minor as to make them nonexistent.

In some of the little things, though, the story was 'spot on'. Ryan's face during the end of his first battle. His lingering stare at the tub as he steps out of the bathroom in a later scene. The adorable way Jack and Cathy hook their pinkies in the car as they try to sell that they're a couple to the driver of the car. These lovely touches though only make the lack of fulfillment that much more sad. And the placement of the proposal flashback had a negative effect. Very odd.

4) Stunts - Total Thumbs Up: The film contains several fights and two chase scenes, and all were done well. The assassination attempt early on was brutal but awesome. It was the best of the lot.

5) Locations/Cinematography - Thumbs Up: Well, it was 'thumbs up' except for one area - and I was so shocked at the waste, it took some of the fun away.

When Jack reaches Russia and is being driven to his hotel, he passes several iconic Russian buildings. This is what one would figure to be a great opportunity to do some cinematography and show off these unusual sights, which work well at setting up the viewers to the new local and give the whole trip a foreign flavor. So I was shocked when the view outside Jack's window was unfocused and rushed! It's hard to envision what they could have had in mind at this point, unless they felt the audience is too familiar with these icons to be worth showing them off? Yet at other points in the film they made great use of buildings in the backgrounds to set mood or pin us to a location. So this made the blurred, unfocused scene make even less sense.

Conclusion: "Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit" is okay for a distraction, but fell far short of expectations. There wasn't really much 'spying' or 'thriller' about the entire affair. Tom Clancy caliber it definitely was not.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 (Hubby's Rating: Worth Full Price of Admission)

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Picture Kaleidoscope 1/15/14

Yeppers, late again!

Demure by Penny at  There's something entrancing about this pic. She's got more cool stuff at her site. Love Crow in Mist!

Earth Bones by Phill Monson at Boo no website for him. :(

Incredible Photos of Spectacular Eruption in Chile, Lighting Storm Included - article by DL Cade, jaw dropping photography by Francisco Negroni Make sure to view the larger versions cause these are incredible!

Don't think anything is going to top those, so I'll stop here. :P
Have an awesome Wednesday!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Mind Sieve 1/13/14

Mornin'! Hope you're sinuses are not tap dancing like mine. :P

Fan Fun

The Right Kind of Wrong Trailer - this looks adorable! All sorts of people I like are ins this too. Sweet.

Bad Words Trailer - Lol. I am actually intrigued. 

Fading Gigolo Official Trailer - another funky premise. I like it. Like an older version of Duece Bigolow: Male Gigolo - ROFL.

Social Media/Author Platform

Enlarge Your Digital Footprint for More Effective Online Marketing by Barry Feldman at Feldman Creative.

Annnnnnddd that one sent me scurring to do so much other stuff I am out of time! :P

Have a great week!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Virtual Tourist - Star Wars The Old Republic 1/12/14

Running late today. Also panicked as I couldn't find some of the pics. Still managed to scrounge a few I don't think I've shared yet. Phew! (Working OT and all the colds running around have impaired fun time) :(

Star Wars The Old Republic
Imperial Spy

My newest pet! Isn't he funky looking?

Here's a side view

Hoth, where white is mandatory. This bot looks odd, doesn't he?

Those flags always make the place home. :)

I so want a blue skinned character. Hopefully will be able to make him blonde. Desslock or Desslar if not already taken. Star Blazers for the win! (70's super popular anime Battleship Yamato - Meiji Matsumoto). Oh yeah!

Have an awesome Sunday!!!!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Movie Review - her


Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Scarlett Johansson, Amy Adams, Rooney Mara, Chris Pratt, Matt Letscher, Olivia Wilde, Artt Butler, May Lindstrom, and more.

Directed by: Spike Jonze Written by: Spike Jonze Cinematography by: Hoye Van Hoytema Music by: Arcade Fire Additional Music by: Owen Pallett

Premise: Still suffering after the unexpected end of his marriage, Theodore is depressed and in denial. When he sees an ad for a new artificial intelligence OS, he buys it in the hopes of gaining a companion, even if only a programmed one. 'Samantha' however, ends up becoming more than he ever expected. (Rated R)


1)  Acting - Thumbs Up: Joaquim Phoenix did a good job as the emotionally stunted and unhappy Theodore, and an even better one projecting against a tiny, portable electronic device. Scarlett Johnasson was fabulous as the voice of Samantha, her voice came across so filled with emotion it didn't matter that she wasn't physically there.

2) Plot/Story - Thumbs Up: The story of Theodore and his growing relationship with Samantha is very much an introspective on what makes relationships, but also the definitions of what make us human. This film definitely won't be for everyone, as it is very subjective, and much is left for the audience to decide or envision.

The pace was slow, though I didn't find it inordinately so. The science was a little 'iffy', but again not overtly so. There were many moments filled with humor, and several scenes where something normal was made surreal.

Theodore's job was mind boggling - getting paid to write (with minimal information) other people's letters to family, spouses, and friends. Some of them had been hiring the firm for so long, Theodore helped build the back story to details or affectations they looked back at fondly years later.

Oddly, while incredibly expressive in these letters, in his own life, Theodore is unable to express himself well at all.

Various themes run solidly through the story, most circling around relationships. The next biggest one is not obvious right away, but takes center stage by the end of the film - personal growth.

One of the most endearing characters in the film was voiced by Spike Jonze himself - a little alien boy from Theodore's 3D game. Watching Theodore, the alien boy, and Samantha all interact together was an unexpected treat.

3) Locations/Cinematography - Total Thumbs Up: Set in the near future, the choices for locations for the different scenes were excellent. Theodore's apartment has a fantastic view, as if he can see the world but is protected from it by the glass around him. His furniture and decor were half hazard, as if it too suffered from his malaise.

There are vistas from Shanghai and California, and many of them taken from outstanding vantage points. What was around Theodore whenever he ventured out was as entertaining, and sometimes more so, than what was going on.

4) Music - Total Thumbs Up: I totally loved how they integrated the music accompanying the film into the story itself. They did this by making them selections Theodore made, or music created by Samantha to preserve poignant moments. It all fit very well.

Conclusion: "her" is a deep introspective on relationships and personal growth. It's also an odd film. Some will find it worthwhile, but others wont. Either way though, it was definitely thought provoking.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 (Hubby's Rating: Better for Matinee)  

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Picture Kaleidoscope 1/8/14


Last night when I got home from work the radio was playing one of my favorites - "Counting Stars" by One Republic. This morning, when I started the car to go to work, what was playing? "Counting Stars" by One Republic. Sweet!

Sunset in Texas

Sunrise at work. Yeah, I get there early. :P

Closer view. Kind of grainy though.

Another angle

We went driving in Frisco for a lark and came across this really cool miniature town. It's for a kids program to show them about the fire and police. The place was adorable!

More of the little buildings.

One micro community. It was so cute! (I loved the replica on this one. The house for Babe's Chicken is super adorable!)

 View from the back gate.

Last one. Street lights and everything!

Frisco Square.

The central spire of the main building is so funky.

But I like it!

Here's a close up view.

On the way out, we spotted this! It rotates. Entrance to a stadium where they hold NCAA meets.

The camera did not do this sky justice. All full of baby pink and blue.

Construction on the giant furniture store on 121 continues. Gets bigger every time we look.

Skyline from 121 in Plano

Skyline on the way back but the opposite side.

Some gorgeous pinks at sunset last night. Again the pic does not do them justice. 

Closer view.

Hope you have an awesome Wednesday!
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