Saturday, May 31, 2014

ArmadilloCon Schedule 7/25-7/27/14

ArmadilloCon has it going on!
They've already finalized their panel schedule.

Here's my list of panels

Tree Creatures
Fri 4:00 PM-5:00 PM Room E
Wells*, Clarke, Oliver, Stanley
Ents, nymphs dryads and more. Discussion regarding the various kinds of tree creatures from myth and legend.

Do Werewolves Dream of Bloody Sheep
Fri 10:00 PM-11:00 PM Room F
de Orive*, Kimbriel, Oliver, Roberts, S. White
What are the beginnings of werewolves in fiction? How have they changed over the years?

Sat 10:00 AM-11:00 AM Southpark B

Sat 1:00 PM-2:00 PM Room E
Richerson*, Brown, Maresca, Oliver,
Discussion of Aztec mythology and why it isn't used in more genre stories.

The Denisovans and Homo floresiensis
Sun 10:00 AM-11:00 AM Conference Center
Antell*, Mahoney, McKay, Oliver
New discoveries in DNA research. What are they and how many more are out there?

See you there!

Friday, May 30, 2014

Movie Review - X-Men: Days of Future Past

X-Men: Days of Future Past

Starring: Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Peter Dinklage, Nicolas Hoult, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Ellen Page, Shawn Ashmore, Evan Peters, Omar Sy, Booboo Stewart, Daniel Cudmore, Halle Berry, and more.

Directed by: Bryan Singer Screenplay by: Simon Kinberg Story by: Jane Goldman, Simon Kinberg, and Matthew Vaughn Based on: The "X-Men" Series from Marvel Comics Cinematography by: Newton Thomas Sigel Music by: John Ottman

Premise: In a dark future for both mutants and humans, Professor X and the rest of the X-Men decide to gamble their lives on a slim chance to change everything - they will send Logan's consciousness back into a younger version of himself. Once there, he's to try and stop Mystique from the revenge motivated action which gave birth to the Sentinels. First, however, he'll have to get a young Xavier and Magneto to reconcile and work together again or the future is doomed. (Rated  PG-13)


1) Acting - Total Thumbs Up: There are a lot of cast members in this film, several playing younger/older versions of each other. Everyone does a great job. Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, and Michael Fassbender and their characters' totally different dynamics were a ton of fun to watch. Peter Dinklage's portrayal of Trask and his fervor in achieving his ends without the boundaries of rules, country, or even emotion was scarier than any mutant.

2) Special Effects - Total Thumbs Up: The special effects for the film were 'top-notch'. Future Sentinels were downright scary as they adapted, absorbed, and replicated mutant attacks. All of Mystique's change sequences were flawless. I very much enjoyed the implied flipping of scales or mirrors whenever she changed. Blink's portals and the interaction of the fighters using them seemed like moving art.

All the Magneto scenes were he used his power just got more and more amazing, proving once more why he's such a force to be reckoned with. But his son (in the comics, not the films) Quicksilver 'stole the show' early in the film when we see things from his perspective as he uses his power. The addition of the song "Time in a Bottle" to that particular section made the whole sequence priceless.

3) Plot/Story - Thumbs Up: The "X-men" comics debuted back in the 60's, so it seemed apt that the film took us almost that far back for this pseudo time travel adventure. For us older viewers, it was a nostalgia filled trip. For us older "X-Men" comic book fans, it was doubly so, as bits and pieces of the plot reflected back to story lines from the comics themselves.

My biggest beef with the "X-Men" movie franchise has always been the willy-nilly way in which they assign characters multiple powers or change them. The victim this time around was Kitty Pride. She can now seemingly send a person's consciousness back in time. Normally restricted to a few days (and something it seems Xavier didn't even know she could do) this is the main point on which the whole movie hinges. So they get some definite minus points for that piece of contrivance. It would have been easier to believe if they'd just added a new, young mutant with this power rather than mutate Shadowcat. But, it is what it is. Thankfully, this issue is also easily ignored, and won't mar the enjoyment of the rest of the film.

Because, aside from that one bit, the story was a lot of fun. Seeing an older Logan meeting Xavier, Eric, and Hank, knowing the things he knows about them was a blast. Also, seeing the characters being true to their youthful, idealistic, stubborn selves (especially Magneto) despite what Logan has told them, made for great plot complications and tied nicely back to the personal issues held by these same people for years.

The logic as outlined for the mental time travel seems to hit a wall at the end, but it doesn't. The film people just make the assumption the audience will be able to piece it together. I'm not sure everyone will. It has to do with what we're shown at one point, which is not the actual truth because of his power, but this is not realized till later. (You'll know what I am talking about when you get there.)

Lots of fun moments are interspersed throughout the film, both visually and through dialogue.

4) Stunts - Total Thumbs Up: If mutants, giant Sentinels, and the military are involved, of course there will be stunts. And the stunts for this film do not disappoint, whether they were done through CGI, live action, or a combination of the two. Quicksilver's awesome scene is my reigning favorite.

5) Locations/Cinematography - Total Thumbs Up: The future the film begins with is very dark and with some quick sweeping camera shots the audience understands the stakes very quickly. But where the locations and cinematography truly make an impact is when we're sent back to the early 70's. We truly feel like we've traveled back in time.

6) Costuming/Makeup - Total Thumbs Up: From Mystique's body makeup, to the time accurate 1970's clothes and styles, the costuming and makeup departments did a phenomenal job making it that much easier for the audience to believe.

Conclusion: "X-Men: Days of Future Past" is a fun, action filled film. Fans of the movies will be very pleased with the ton of cameos towards the end. Fans of the comics will be even more pleased at the old story line elements - making the film a double nostalgic experience.

Rating: 4.25 out of 5 (Hubby's Rating: Worth Paying Full Price To See Again)

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Picture Kaleidoscope - Dallas Comic Con 5/28/14

Trying to get life back on schedule. :)

Anyway, here's pics from the recent Dallas Comic Con

Daughter's first attempt at a chain mail dragon. Isn't she cute?

Muscular, no?

Booth mate next to us. 

She is a dead ringer for the girl in How To Train Your Dragon, no? So cute!

Very creepy.

Old style Mystique! Yeah!

Dragons came to Dallas Comic Con!

Taylor Lymberry gave us - Lilu Dalekpass!

Aren't his wings awesome?

Other nearby authors. Love their cover art and how merged it into the banner like that. 

Artists, artists, everywhere!

Our super scrunched display. We're going to have to go to two tables.

More art!


I loved her Sherlock and Dean Winchester at off angles. 

Ninja Turtles made an appearance. :)

Sherlock and Irene Addler. So cute!

Adventure Time TV

Luke's Speeder from Episode 4


Jeep from Jurassic Park

And Baby - the Winchester's Sweet ride.

Baby's truck, which I still somehow managed to put in here upside down. DOH!

Have a great Wednesday!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Mind Sieve 5/26/14

Have I been needing this holiday!
Been pushing too hard too fast. Things have to slow down eventually, yes? EEK!

Fan Fun

The Anomaly Official Trailer - Oooh! Some Science Fiction fun!

Constantine Trailer - some cool TV might be coming our way! Sweet!

Social Media/Author Platform

Google + Stories: This Week in Social Media from The Social Media Examiner, article by Cindy King. Dang, things just get more and more complicated and time consuming. DOH!

Writing Advice

From Kristen Lamb - Writer Victory! Remember Writers Are Magicians. You tell it, Kristen!

What Drives You To Write? by Jami Gold. Nice insights!

More craziness coming down the pike for me. Wish me luck!!!!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Virtual Tourist - Everquest Landmark 5/25/14

Trying to get back into the normal swing of things again. Between Dallas ComicCon and traveling for work, my usual posting plans were pretty much destroyed last week, DOH!

Everquest Landmark
Got to spend a little time tweaking stuff one night this week.

You'll have to click for the bigger pick, but I added ivy to the entry and moved one of the plants. Really makes the place pop more.

Main stairwell also got some love. More plants and a giant clam shell. Occurred to me I can put a light as a pearl in it. Now on the to do list. :P

This still needs work, but at least the steps for the stairs are all in place. Still need to finish the banister.

The roof will be a garden. Made some different kinds of flowers then got a shock when I went to plant this one, that's the default size! Which then game me the cool idea of using them like lamp posts. Sweet!

You can make templates of things you crate in the game. This is my hollowed out planter. The utility for taking a picture to go with your schematic is finally working. Yay!

Hope you have a great Memorial Day weekend! 

Friday, May 23, 2014

Movie Review - Godzilla


Starring: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Ken Watanabe, Bryan Cranston, CJ Adams, Elizabeth Olsen, Carson Bolde, Sally Hawkins, Juliette Binoche, David Strathairn, Richard T. Jones, Victor Rasuk, and more.

Directed by: Gareth Edwards Screenplay by: Max Borenstein Story by: David Callaham Cinematography by: Seamus McGarvey Music by: Alexandre Desplat

Premise: In 1999, a mining operation in the Philippines inadvertently awakens something that ends up causing a disaster at a nuclear plant in Japan. Fifteen years later, the same portents once witnessed by Joe Brody reappear as he and his son enter illegally into the quarantine zone in the they once lived in. Yet these portents herald more than he or his son could ever imagine. (Rated PG-13)


1) Acting - Total Thumbs Up: Aaron Taylor-Johnson showed both tough and vulnerable sides as Ford Brody. Ken Watanabe's expressions spoke volumes as the reserved Dr. Ishiro Serizama, contrasting with Bryan Cranston's portrayal of Joe Brody, who physically and vocally demanded answers to his questions. Kudos to CJ Adams as he did much to set up the stage at the beginning of the film.

2)  Special Effects - Total Thumbs Up: Superb work in both CGI and normal special effects by the special effects department. The dig in the Philippines, especially the section of tunnel with the vertebrae - amazing. The awakening of Muto also deserves heavy praise. But so does the less obvious yet as impacting scene where we see how the 1999 Japanese town had changed in fifteen years - even keeping in mind the climate and materials used there and how they actually decay things in Japan versus someplace like New York.

The near misses with the creatures for the humans were seamless and really tied together well. But you never want to be the flea that gets noticed by the dog -- there are several scenes showing us why this is so. The sequences on and by the train bridge were totally outstanding. The burning tank? Priceless.

Godzilla himself differs from the traditional and the updated Japanese look, but all the important parts as well as the general 'look and feel' are there. Rather than go with other famous monsters we've seen in the "Godzilla" franchise, the filmmakers made the smart move and created some new ones. And they looked fantastic. The egg sac sequences alone were very cool.

All the explosions, near misses, collapsing buildings, falling airplanes, and more, were excellently done. The cool smoke and debree effects, especially those that made Godzilla appear to have ninja skills? Fabulous.

3) Plot/Story - Total Thumbs Up: I may be mistaken, but it seemed to me that those who put this film together totally get what "Godzilla" films are about. Any fan of the old and even recent Japanese "kaiju" (monster) films will be ecstatic. All the little things that make "Godzilla" movies what they are were present in this version. The details are mostly non-tangible things, but without them, the film wouldn't be a true "Godzilla" film. Things like the presence of children at major junctions; the belief he's here to help and isn't just some random creature, the bizarre yet inescapable feeling that he's helping humans and even seems aware of some of them, as if a link has formed between the creature and the humans struggling below. They even tied the story to the original 1954 black and white film. Major kudos, guys, for getting it right.

For the most part, the plot is pretty solid. Monster films aren't known for strong plots, so this was a lovely surprise. The only glaring hiccup had to do with the train with the missiles, but with the awesome scenes they did there because of it, the slip is easy to forgive. (Still, how do you lose track of a giant monster?) Add in some well done multi level family subplots, and the movie had more depth and range than you'd normally expect from a "kaiju" film.

There are a ton of little moments where reality and what we know are one way, then a second later, it isn't what we know anymore. Nice shocks to the system to remind us how quickly things can change.

4) Stunts - Total Thumbs Up: Giant monsters go hand in hand with stunts - it is inevitable, because as we all know, if you're a soldier firing a machine gun or rockets at a creature a zillion times your size - there'll be consequences - awesomely visual consequences.  And the ones presented here were executed perfectly.

5) Locations/Cinematography - Total Thumbs Up: The film did a great job with the locations. It was fitting that the first amounts of death and destruction happened in Japan. The look and feel of each of the locations grounded the viewers immediately, so as the film hops from country to country, even city to city, the audience has no trouble knowing where it's all happening. All the special touches with regards to the EMPs, the train bridge, China Town, and the plane jump, ratcheted the whole work 'up a notch'.

There's a plethora of amazing shots in the film throughout.

6) Music - Total Thumbs Up: The score by Alexandre Desplat was perfect for the film. While he didn't sneak in any obvious snippets from the well known Japanese "Godzilla" theme, he still captured the essence of the music of the time and used it to add more flavor to the experience as a whole. The "2001: A Space Odyssey" like sound used for the military insertion into San Francisco couldn't have been more apt.

Conclusion: If you've ever enjoyed any of the Japanese monster films, be it those with "Godzilla", "Mothra", or "Gamera", this is a must see for you. For those who've never seen one, go! You're in for a fun treat.

Rating: 4.25 out of 5 (Hubby's Rating: Worth Paying Full Price to See Again!)

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Virtual Tourist - Wildstar 5/18/14


Didn't get to play on the beta this weekend due to Dallas ComicCon but got plenty of pics last week. :)

A better picture of my mechanical self. 

Ancient Communication facility on Nexus. Truly impressive.

Some of the other available races. 

The communications relay. This place is just massive.

Active node.

Inside the giant complex

The AI who runs the place. Also the datacube storing unimaginable amounts of data.

Some evil little mutant thingies.

Why yes, you have to fight the giant thing. Why do you ask? Heh heh.

Inside the temple in one of the towns.

Super cute and actually a little scary furry race. She likes shinnies! Heh heh.

Gotta get back to DCC. Have an awesome morning, ya'll!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Picture Kaleidoscope 5/14/14

This will be the slash and burn edition.
Tons and tons of overtime at work. :(

Hubby earned some much needed brownie points with this last week. Sherrie's Berries. YUM!

Chocolate Covered Cherries. (With a few missing 'cause I had to have them NOW!)

Chocolate Covered Strawberries - DITTO!

Also went and finally got to try Yoshi Shabu Shabu restaurant. First that I know of in Dallas. I've been wanting shabu shabu for years! And it was so worth it. Super YUM!

Some call it Japanese Fondue. Basically you get a plate of vegetables and meat and you swish them in a pot of hot water cooking the food and creating a soup stock. You take the cooked meat out after swishing it and dip it in bowls of sauce and eat with rice.


You take any leftover veggies, add some udon noodles, and you get soup to eat as well!

So awesome!

Now I'm hungry. heh heh

Monday, May 12, 2014

Mind Sieve 5/12/14

It'll be a crap shoot on how far I get today. I've been battling with some php and even dreaming about how to fix my issue - even incorporating RL work into it in my dreams. It's calling me with ideas on what to try next as I type this. Don't know if I can resist...resist...Only be a minute!

Oh, I also found out they've cancelled The Crazy Ones and Almost Human. Two of our favorite shows. WAAAAAAHHHHHHHH! And Dracula, too! Noooo!

Fan Fun

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day Official Trailer - Oh my goodness! LOL. Man I thought I had bad days! LOL.

Gotham Extended Trailer - Oh this looks freaking AWESOME! Gordon as young cop, getting involved with Bruce right after the murder of his parents and it's Gordon's case! (Of course this is FOX so it will do well and they'll kill it, just like Almost Human, Doll House and countless others. Why? Wwwwwwhhhhhyyyyyy????? (IMDB says it's a TV Movie?)

The Dawning of the Planet of the Apes Official Trailer (A new one!) - man, this is looking AWESOME! 

Godzilla Official International Trailer - YES! I thought there was that giant nail that didn't look right! And there's a reason for that - it's a different monster! Godzilla is used to fight it. YES - staying true to Godzilla all the way! Sweet!

Yeah, cutting this short. Didn't make it. Dang it!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Virtual Tourist - Wildstar 5/11/14

Happy Mother's Day!

A new MMO just went into open beta this week called Wildstar.
I'd heard it was coming from a friend. So hubby and I decided to check it out.
If you do nothing else, just watch a few of their videos. HILARIOUS!

I created a Mechari (a robot race) in the Dominion

You wake from Cryo sleep here. Chosen for fitting a profile and ordered to uncover those who've been corrupted by a virus introduced while asleep

first deck area in the newbie zone.

The Dominion's ruler. 

Nexus - where all the excitement happens. :)

The church. They follow six deities. Loved this guys armor!

Each of the gods represents a virtue. 

That's me. Someone explain to me why a robot needs 4 inch heels? (She runs funny too! lol)

One of the displays in the museum on board.

I chose settler for a secondary skill line. After picking up batteries around the area, I was able to make two different stations that gave buffs! This one is for increased fighting speed.

Holographic combat area for training. Zombie holograms - who knew?

Another hologram combat training area for evicting Nexus residents. I almost died when I saw the adorable kiddie pool! SO CUTE!!

Hologram combat training to destroy trees and then furry race who like them. Hologram bunnies too. lol. So evil. 

Off to meet the emperor in person after the training. 

Except...he's not here.

My boss. And one I suspect of things best not mentioned. She is cool looking though. Heh

Bay area on the ship.

Launching to go down to Nexus

On Nexus. Look at the weird sky behind the radar dish! The sky is undulating!

A bit of a learning curve (as in all games) but has a lot of bits of comedy and they actually put your character into some of the feature films to try to immerse the players a bit. Definitely interesting.
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