Monday, December 29, 2014

Mind Sieve 12/29/14

Morning all!
2014 is almost done and 2015 coming in. Scary, isn't it?
Let's see how far I get this week. :)

Fan Fun

The Longest Ride Official Trailer - two love stories set forty years apart. Could be interesting.

The Dead Lands International Trailer #1 - New fight styles to watch - sweet!

The Portal Official Trailer - this might be a hoot! lol

Social Media/Author Platform

Facebook Year In Review - This Week In Social Media from Cindy King at the Social Media Examiner. Some interesting bits.

Merry Christmas! Have a Cookie by Jami Gold. Awesome advice that spreads comfort and happiness to others as well as ourselves and even helps with all our social media as authors. Go, Jami! A smile really can make a world of difference!

Writing Advice

Make Readers Suffer - Great Fiction Goes for the GUTS by Kristen Lamb. Great advice!

Woot! Slightly less lame post! Booyah!
Have a great week!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Virtual Tourist - TERA 12/28/14

Still trying to figure out how to get pics for Sherlock Crime & Punishment. I have one more thing I can try and hopefully will today. :P Wish me luck!

So until such a time....

Westonia (Figured out where we are again! Yay!)

Winter Wonderland of DOOM! But still pretty. :)

Such a forbidding sky.

Looks so cold.

Neat spires

Heaters YES!

Those cabins do not look weather proofed at all! Heh heh

Blight Forest

Back to the green and the warmth! Beautiful autumn colors here.

And the sky!

Flora and ruins, plus bad glowing stuff.


 Blessing Basin in Essenia

A truly beautiful place.

Love the statue!

Miniature of the giant flying fish?

A visitation begins

A goddess - Princess Leia's older sister perhaps? :P

Hope you have a fabulous Sunday!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Movie Review - The Imitation Game

The Imitation Game

Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Rory Kinnear, Allen Leech, Matthew Beard, Charles Dance, Mark Strong, James Northcote, Tom Goodman-Hill, Alex Lawther, Jack Bannon, and more.

Directed by: Morten Tyldum Screenplay by: Graham Moore Based on the Book by: Andrew Hodges Cinematography by: Oscar Faura Music by: Alexandre Desplat

Premise: A detective becomes interested in a robbery in 1951 after meeting the victim, Alan Turing. The detective feels the victim is hiding something and decides to dig deeper. Flashing back to 1939, we see Alan Turing at his work and trials on creating a machine able to decode Germany's unbreakable Enigma machine. (Rated PG-13)


1) Acting - Total Thumbs Up: Benedict Cumberbatch shines in his portrayal of the mathematical and code breaking prodigy Alan Turing. He does a fantastic job getting across Turing's social confusion and other feelings as he takes on the job to break Enigma's naval code. His bumbling attempts at levity, or making inadvertent jokes, will strangely endear all those watching to the mathematician - one of Cumberbatch's incredible abilities.

Keira Knightley also shone as Joan Clarke, a capable woman pigeon holed by society and her parents not to amount to anything despite her amazing talents. It was great seeing Allen Leech again and the surprises he brings with him as well. Great job from all the cast members.

2) Special Effects - Total Thumbs Up: While not a flashy special effects type of film, the Christopher/Ultra/Bombe machine seen at its various states of construction was fascinating and was kept within the technologies available at the time, even as it made some leaps forward. The audience will be as excited as the actors when those circles begin to spin, and later when they stop!

3) Plot/Story - Total Thumbs Up: The story grabs the audience almost immediately - beginning in 1951 and showing Alan Turing in an interrogation room. The mathematician begins speaking to the audience, giving several rules, and how he will not repeat himself, so all must listen carefully.

It is after we're told of a burglary at Turing's and Nock's suspicion that Turing is hiding something that propels the story back to 1939.

The rest of the tale is told with small leaps back to Turing's youth at school, and the investigation in 1951 as matters progress in 1939. So you get to know the man and how he became to be as he was. There's a phrase used several times, which proves to be a turning point for many people.

While most matters proceed as you'd expect, lots of lovely curve balls show up throughout the story. You'll also be happy to know that Joan Clarke was not a token female, but was an actual member of the team, brought slowly forth into the group as Turing and the others pushed for her to help with the work.

There's a lot having to do with the Enigma machines and different encryption levels used by the different branches of the German military that don't get disclosed, but was not really needed as it kept the information more focused. But it was specifically the naval's super high encryption and water soluble code books that caused the most trouble for decoding their encryption, especially at the short time frames before the codes were changed. Truly a mind boggling problem.

The ending both in the 40's and 50's truly brings home the sacrifice, service, and sadness of all those who worked during that time - so I would advice taking some tissues.

4) Locations/Cinematography - Total Thumbs Up: A lot of the filming happened at actual historical locations - Bletchley Park, Sherborne School, London, King's Cross Station and more. The sequence with the crossword puzzle really brings home some of what the regular population was going through during those trying times.

5) Costuming/Makeup - Total Thumbs Up: Running a span of thirty or so years, great care was taken with the costuming and hairstyles. Several times, when they would switch years, the costumes alone were enough to ground you into the proper time location.

Conclusion: The Imitation Game is a fascinating look at the man and the struggle to beat the Enigma naval codes used by the Germans during World War II. The superb cast and cross pollination storytelling made it an incredibly fascinating watch.

Rating: 4.25 out of 5 (Hubby's Rating: Worth Full Price of Admission)

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Picture Kaleidoscope 12/24/14

Morning all!

Skipped my blog post last week, which was a sad thing. As I really tried! Been working way too much lately... Waaaahhhh

This week I'll be sharing random photos I've been popping here and there. :)

Before - look at those reds! Here in Texas we normally get a tinge of color then a hard freeze comes through and all the leaves are gone. This fall has been a lot more colorful and lovely than usual. Yay!

Same trees once naked. Eek!

The nieces and nephews avoiding the adults at Thanksgiving. Heh heh. Loved how the doorway just framed them perfectly. :)

Daystar! Ahhhhh!

It's amazing how fast the sun sets.

He's a little shy.

Don't run away!

And it's almost gone.

Is this not the coolest fan ever?!?! Gorgeous!

Some really lovely colors in the clouds that morning. (Was on my way to work - on the weekend. Both days. Waaaaahhhhh)

Have an awesome Christmas Eve!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Mind Sieve 12/22/14

Yes, the lameness continues! Short post once more. Waaaahhhh

Fan Fun!

A Little Chaos Trailer #1 - Ohhhh! Great cast, interesting premise, Alan Rickman as Louie XIV - I am so there!

Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter Trailer - can't tell from the preview, but supposedly she finds a copy of the movie "Fargo" and decides it is a treasure map. lol. Should be bizarre!

The Phoenix Project Trailer - reanimation! Need to see more...

And a special treat - nothing says Christmas like Christmas lights set to Star Wars music! Best of Star Wars Music Christmas Light Show 2014 - Booyah! The longer you watch, the more cool stuff they do. :)

Hope you and yours have a great holiday week! Happy Holidays to All!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Virtual Tourist - TERA 12/21/14

Late morning all!
This will be rather brutal and quick, I think....


Sky yesterday at home looked a lot like this one! Hmm

Ruins, ruins, everywhere.

The fountain has seen better days?

Trouble has popped back in

Closer look at the obelisk and fountain


Addition to town for the fall festival.

So much cuteness!

And a little halo!

Nice cottages in this town, no?

Have a great Sunday!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Movie Review - Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb

Starring: Ben Stiller, Robin Williams, Dan Stevens, Owen Wilson, Steve Coogan, Ricky Gervais, Rebel Wilson, Skyler Gisondo, Rami Malek, Patrick Gallagher, Mizuo Peck, Ben Kingsley, Crystal the Monkey, Dick Van Dyke, Mickey Rooney, Bill Cobbs, Hugh Jackman, and more.

Directed by: Shawn Levy Screenplay by: David Guion and Michael Handelman Story by: Mark Friedman, David Guion, and Michael Handelman Based on Characters Created by: Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Garant Cinematography by: Guillermo Navarro Music by: Alan Silvestri

Premise: The magic tablet that gives the denizens of the American Museum of Natural History life is slowly growing tarnished and is affecting those it helps bring to life every night. As Larry tries to discover what's wrong with the tablet and how to fix it, he finds himself with a second, different kind of trouble in his hands - his son has decided he doesn't want to go to college. So the two of them, and a few friends, go to London to consult Ahkmenrah's father on what to do.  (Rated PG)


1) Acting - Total Thumbs Up: All our favorite actors are back for the 3rd installment of the Night at the Museum series - Ben Stiller, Robin Williams, Owen Wilson, Steve Coogan, Patrick Gallagher, and even Crystal the Monkey. For this last roundup we also meet several new characters from the other side of the pond played by Dan Stevens (Sir Lancelot), Rebel Wilson (Tilly), and Robin Williams (Garuda). Yet the most fun  is had with a new character who came about as Dr. McPhee's joke - the new neanderthal in the prehistoric section, Laa, who bears a striking resemblance to Larry.

2) Special Effects - Total Thumbs Up: The animations and CGI on the film were fantastic! Some were grandiose like the event at the new planetarium while others were more subtle, yet totally as impressive, like the flowing rivers and waterfalls in the tapestries of the Asian exhibit hall in London.

Everything in the London museum was fabulous. One exhibit area had flying bronze cranes, glazed ceramic elephants, and other unusual types of art cavorting around. The demon snake with multiple heads looked amazing! The fight with the bad tempered triceratops was a lot of fun to watch as well.

An unexpected and fun bit is when the characters leap into the drawing called 'Relativity' by M.C. Escher. It not only gave the characters a different texture but also let the chase that took them there have all sorts of chaos with shifts in gravity. Too fun!

3) Plot/Story - Neutral: The beginning of the film sets up the main theme of the movie (fathers and sons) as well as introducing a little history about the magical tablet that enables the items at the museum to come to life.

Yet it is once we move onto modern day New York that the main story issue started - Ahkmenrah told Larry something was wrong with the tablet. Larry saw it, saw Ahkmenrah almost fall, saw the corruption move up over an inch in a second (so it now covers an eighth or more of the tablet, but then still decides it's nothing they need to worry about until later. I'm sorry - in four thousand years there's never been something growing/corrupting the metal and you just see a chunk of it turn green and look corroded, and you're going to just ignore it? Uhmmmm. It would have been better to have had things go wrong and THEN discover there's something not right with the tablet.

All the old gags are back, and some new ones appear, keeping the jokes fresh. Several of the better moments, however, had already been spoiled in the previews.

The father/son theme is played on several levels and in several directions. The use of Laa and brotherly jealousy was incredibly amusing. Yet so much time was spent on all the different father/son dichotomies that it left little room for other things - things that might have helped the plot or made decisions and turns seem more convincing.

Magic just is. And the giant secret about the tablet that no one can know is so non-threatening that it made no sense it was ever a secret at all. Also, the way all of Larry's friends just decide things will end, telling him to move on, seemed a contrivance to get out of a bad spot rather than an actual true response. What kind of friends leave another after he just saved you, and especially as you know his son is about to leave the nest?

Yet weirdly enough, the thing that was most disappointing was that after all the fatherly heartache at his son's choices, when the story moves ahead to three years later - there's not a peep about the son. :(

4) Locations/Cinematography - Total Thumbs Up: Some very lovely shots of New York and the outside of the museum's planetarium (which coincidentally matched right up with the book I started reading this week "Raging Heat" by "Richard Castle" - the murder happens at the same place! lol). Some great shots of London as well. Though with regards to the London Museum, there's a disclaimer at the end of the film that not all the exhibits and exhibit rooms match are actually like those shown in the film.

Conclusion: "Night at the Museum: The Secret of the Tomb" wasn't so secret. Some definitely cute gags, great CGI, but the plot was full of contrivances. Still, it's worth watching for the effects and also for the parting of Robin Williams and Mickey Rooney. Kids will love all the jokes and icky moments.

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

Monday, December 15, 2014

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Virtual Tourist - TERA 12/14/14

I'd hoped to share some screenprints of Sherlock Holmes Crimes and Punishment, but the usual pic taking keys didn't seem to work in the game. :(  I'll figure out something eventually. Not that I have TIME to play anything of late. (This will be hurried to as I am doing it the night before, unlike the morning as usual - I have to go into work on a Sunday - waaaaahhhh)


He's got such an awesome face. No?

Neat obelisks

From the side


Everything here glows. Like we've gone to the world of the Navi.

Aren't those pretty?

Check out that sky!

Funky flowers everywhere!


This world never sees true darkness

Even floating flowers


Hope your Sunday is better than mine! :P

Friday, December 12, 2014

Movie Review - Exodus: Gods and Kings

Exodus: Gods and Kings

Starring: Christian Bale, Joel Edgerton, John Turturro, Aaron Paul, Ben Mendelsohn, Maria Valverde, Sigourney Weaver, Ben Kingsley, Hiam Abbass, Indira Varma, and more.

Directed by: Ridley Scott Written by: Adam Cooper, Bill Collage, Jeffrey Caine, and Steven Zaillian Cinematography by: Dariusz Wolski Music by: Alberto Iglesias

Premise: Moses and Ramses are cousins raised together as brothers in the thriving city of Memphis. Though Ramses is the heir, between the whispers from his mother, his father's dotting affections for Moses, and a prophecy before a battle with the Hittites, he feels insecure of his future. So when a grovelling official tells him a story brought to him by some Hebrew slaves, Ramses pushes to discover if the tales of Moses being Hebrew are true. Though disbelieving of the story himself, Moses learns much about the Hebrew people after he is exiled. And due to events, he comes back to Memphis nine years later to demand the freedom of the Israelites in Egypt from Pharaoh. (Rated PG-13)


1) Acting - Thumbs Up: Though the film had a great line up of actors and they did good to great work, they didn't feel well used. Sigourney Weaver's presence just about explodes on the screen during Ramses' coronation, but aside from a few lines and some telling stares, they did little with her talents. Ben Kingsley suffered a similar fate, though he did get more screen time.

Joel Edgerton did do a great job as Ramses - his jealousies, insecurities, and begrudging love were very easy to see. Christian Bale does a good job with what he's given, but the dilution of Moses' character with the direction they took the film didn't push or demand of him the presence and command that Moses would have had to have as the leader of the Israelites. You see it in his youth as the general in Seti's army, but aside from a few moments at the beach side...

2) Special Effects - Total Thumbs Up: The recreations of Egypt by sets and CGI were fantastic. There were definitely times when you couldn't tell the difference. The shots of the city in the day, at night, on fire - just gorgeous. The mining area too was impressive in its scope.

The plagues were well done. You really felt sorry for everyone in Memphis who had to go through that nastiness. Seeing the nile and all the waterways turned red as far as the eye could see was a view to behold. Yet of all of them, it was the night the children died that was the most subtle and most impressive - the curtain of darkness snuffing out the light, literally and figuratively, spoke volumes.

The one spot I expected to be the most impressed at, however, I wasn't. The parting of the Red Sea wasn't so much a parting than a pulling back from shore, so it lost a lot of impact despite the fact we did get a giant wave. And the burning bush? Not sure why they bothered...The black mud was more impressive. :(

Strangely, with the current technology and CGI capabilities, you'd have expected the movie to exploit that to make the plagues more fantastic, but as you'll see in the next section, the direction taken by the script, pushed everything in the opposite direction.

3) Plot/Story - Neutral: Most people know the story of Moses, so movie watchers would have some expectations as to what is to come. Those who are of the Faith know even more on the details of the story. So while a lot of things were correct, a lot of others weren't. And some of the change choices did not help, but rather hurt the film. The biggest being the relationship between Moses and God. God bids him to check on his people and set them free, yet does not have him warn the Pharaoh or even tell Moses before unleashing the plagues. Only the last one were either of them told of before hand. Moses as a character never seemed to believe in the choices he made. The charisma and presence that made Moses a great general and leader for the Egyptians was almost completely absent when he returned to Egypt. Moses had no fire burning in him - and therefore neither did the audience.

Most of the secondary characters we do not get to know (except the viceroy), some thrown in without even an introduction, making the viewers feel lost. This was especially true during the scene where Ramses tries to get the truth from the maid - you thought maybe Sigourney Weaver might be Ramses' mother, but the other woman it took a while to realize was the dead Pharaoh's sister and by then, it didn't matter. If it was filmed, such things looked to have been lost to the editing floor. More's the pity.

The confrontation between the wizards of Egypt and the power of God didn't make it on the film. If anything, despite the bits here and there screaming of a force bypassing the normal laws of nature, everything was made to look as if it could have happened on its own, just on a grander scale. This screamed out the loudest during the parting (really more of a drawing back) of the Red Sea. Almost as if the writers couldn't make up their minds as to which approach to take and in so doing spoiled the whole thing.

And speaking of making things more scientifically feasible - giant wave falling/crashing dead on you at the edge equals death. Definitely - death.

And why did they decide to give God a British accent?!?!?!?

4) Stunts - Total Thumbs Up: The clashing of two armies, chariots, swords, chaos - lots of lovely stunt work. The volleys of arrows coming down on the Hittites and watching them strike was a sight to behold.

5) Cinematography - Total Thumbs Up: An epic tale deserves epic views and the film had plenty of them. From the pull back view shots of Seti's palace, to the grand view of Memphis, there were many awesome sights to be enjoyed. (Though I will say some of the statues were way bigger than standard Egyptian ones - so they looked odd.) The shots of the mountains and deserts as well as the migration of four hundred thousand Israelites were fun to see - the scope was mind boggling.

6) Costuming/Makeup - Total Thumbs Up: They may have skimped on story and a few miracles, but on makeup and costuming they went all the way and more. Ramses' armor for the war with the Hittites was fantastic! All of Sigourney Weaver's hats were delicious. The getup of the High Priestess at the beginning was a cool contrast between her and the medium of her oracle readings. Ramses' and his wife's nightclothes almost shimmered and looked ever so cool for those hot Egyptian evenings.

Loved all the bangles and jewelry Moses' wife wore, and especially her tattoo. She also was better dressed than almost everyone except the Egyptian royalty.

They also did amazing work with the sores, boils, and other skin issues the Egyptians developed. The royal family was not spared and we got to see their booboos up close. Eek!

Conclusion: While visually exciting, the end result of diluting Moses' character and not giving him fire for Christian Bale to play with, as well as trying to make the plagues fit scientifically plausible molds, what you end up with leaves you only lukewarm. Which was just too bad.

Rating: 3 out of 5 (Hubby's Rating: Better For Matinee)
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