Friday, July 31, 2015

Movie Review - Pixels


Starring: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Michelle Monaghan, Peter Dinklage, Josh Gad, Matt Lintz, Brian Cox, Sean Bean, Jane Krakowski, Dan Aykroyd, Penelope Wilton, and more.

Directed by: Chris Columbus Screenplay by: Tim Herlihy and Timothy Dowling Screen Story by: Tim Herlihy Based on the Short Film "Pixels" by: Patrick Jean Cinematography by: Amir Mokri Music by: Henry Jackman

Premise: In 1982, Brenner discovered video game arcades and the fact he could figure out the patterns and score really high on them. In the same year, he entered a video game competition, which was being filmed and sent as part of a NASA probe carrying info on Earth for possible contact with alien species. 33 years later, Brenner has yet to live up to his potential, while those around him have fulfilled theirs. Yet when there's an attack on a US base in Guam, his time to shine might finally have arrived. (Rated PG-13)


1) Acting - Total Thumbs Up: Playing the dispirited underdog is one of Adam Sandler's strengths, and he does it here very well. Michelle Monaghan makes a nice foil for Sandler, especially after the misunderstandings after they first meet. Kevin James did an exceptional job as Cooper. Totally loved the use of Penelope Wilton as England's Prime Minister, especially since she's already played the PM in Dr. Who! (Yes, I am easily tickled! :P)

2) Special Effects - Total Thumbs Up: This film truly had a ton of lovely special effects. Seeing a bunch of beloved 80's arcade games come to life in 3D was a treat.  They even replicated the best bits from the original short by Patrick Jean - watching buildings shrink by matching Tetris tiles was too fun!

All my favorite 80's games and more were represented. Donkey Kong, Joust, Galaga, Centipede, Asteroids, Pong, and a ton more. My favorite replicated character was Q-bert! Though it was weird to hear him talk English. Heh heh. He was too cute!

The most impressive effect of the lot is probably Pac Man. They made him scary! Centipede up close was rather scary, too!

During the credits - they go super old school. They do the entire movie as a 2D low pixel game. Adorable!

For anyone who played arcade games in the 80's this will be a fun trip back in time. :) They even sneak in some of the original game music!

3) Plot/Story - Thumbs Up: When I first saw the trailer for this film I was sure it would either be good or very very bad. I'm happy to say it ended up on the 'good' side. They actually worked at it and even had a couple of plot tracks running at once, giving the film a little more substance than you'd expect.

One of the main themes played with at multiple levels and situations was love. Yep, you read right - love. Even geek love! Heh heh. (Even rather 'weird' love, too!)

Some of the humor was lukewarm, but other bits were quite precious. It all depends on your taste in humor.

And believe it or not, they actually have a surprise or two in the plot! Even some commentary on the difference between games then and games now. Using 80's shows, personalities, and commercials for how the aliens communicate - priceless! (And wait till you see the surprise speaker when the crew tries to get under the mother ship! Squee!) (My daughter had no idea who I was talking about. So sad...)

4) Stunts - Total Thumbs Up: Great job by all the people running, screaming, jumping out of half disintegrated cars, etc.  Some cool driving scenes, too! Especially during the Pacman sequence. Nice work!

5) Music - Total Thumbs Up: Lots of popular 80's titles along with some great background music by Henry Jackman.

Conclusion: "Pixels" is a fun little film with tons of 80's arcade nostalgia thrown in. Watch the credits for a condensed version of the movie in old style 2D pixels!

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

For fun, I've included the short film by Patrick Jean the movie is based on. Too darn cute!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Picture Kaleidoscope 7/29/13


Let's see what I can throw at you today. :)

We have a new assassin in the household. Mystique (aka Sweevil) had outgrown her kitten bed and Ells had been borrowing it off and on much to her chagrin. So we went and got a new and bigger bed. The following result in no way surprised me. lol. 

Still trying to get the sun through the trees look. Heh

Last time we went to Yoshi's Shabu-Shabu they were serving locally made desserts - Nom Noms. The Coffee Cream was delicious! (And they run a Mexican restaurant as well - though we've never been)

Assassination Classroom - one of the oddest manga ever! I took a picture as I wanted to try to entice A. Lee Martinez to give it a look see. Tentacled Alien teaching class while having the whole classroom try to assassinate him or he'll destroy the earth. Too awesomely bizarre~! 

My publisher had some truly outstanding prizes to give away during ArmadilloCon! This lighted bonsai indirectly ties in to my new novel Jewel of the Gods

Steampunk bookends! Wish I'd been able to see the actual ones but the publisher said they were still on backorder. 

And the most popular item - The Folio Society's Dune 50th Anniversary Edition. With illustrations. ZP kept it wrapped to keep better value for whoever won it. Lots of drooling over the weekend. :P

Loved this plaque at the Austin Airport.

I think I'd seen this there before, but I did not remember it looking this awesome. Isn't this cool?

Evil traffic earlier this week! Wish I'd thought of taking it when I was higher in the overpass. :P

Happy Wednesday!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Mind Sieve 7/27/15


Running super late. Had a good time at ArmadilloCon, though sadly the new novel did not get there in time. Publisher was not happy! Especially since she paid for super printing and delivery. DOH!

You can find Jewel of the Gods at several retailers online now though.  So it's OUT! :)

Maze Runner - The Scorch - official trailer 2 - should be fun!

Gotta go! Have an awesome Monday!

Friday, July 24, 2015

ArmadilloCon Schedule!


For any of you fun people coming on down to ArmadilloCon this weekend - here's what panels I've been scheduled on.


9:00 PM - Ballroom F - SF TV Shows We're Anticipating
The Expanse, Man in the High Castle, Minority Report, etc.: Which looks the most interesting and exciting? How faithful can the ones with literary origins be to their source material?


10:00 AM - Ballroom E - Silkpunk: Asian themes and influences in SF/F
Exploring the use of Asian concepts and locations in the work of Guy Gavriel Kay, Neil Gaiman, and Ken Liu contextualized as just a few of many.

2:00 PM - Southpark A - Broad Universe
A joint reading by members of the writers' group Broad Universe "promoting science fiction, fantasy, and horror written by women."


11:00AM - Southpark B - Reading
Yes, I must find something worthy to torture anyone who shows up. Bwahahahahaha!

2:00PM - Dealer's Room - Autographing

For the full ArmadiloCon programming grid - go here.

For panel descriptions - go here.

And of course, there'll be added treats by Zumaya Publications as both my novel, Jewel of the Gods, and Rie Sheridan Rose's, The Nearly Notorious Nun, debut during the convention!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Cover Flat Reveal - Jewel of the Gods

Howdy, all!

Been working a ton of OT at work (*cry*) and also fighting a cold, so I got little to nothing done this weekend on writer stuff.

On the bright side, I finally got a hold of a copy of the final cover flat for my fantasy novel - Jewel of the Gods.

Still don't have the website updated with the new pages (doh!) but I can at least show you what's coming.

Debut for the novel is scheduled to happen at ArmadilloCon on Friday 7/24!  Great bunch of peeps, lots of authors, lots of panels, lots of fun. So if you're in the Austin area next week, come on by and sign up for the cool giveaways planned by my publisher Zumaya Publications!

If you've not taken a peek yet, I do have sample chapters at the blog - Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3.

Here's a bigger view of the cover.

If you've a mind to, please help spread the news! Much appreciated!
Ebook version and print versions should show up online retailers not long after. :)
Novel # 7! Lucky 7? Can only hope. :)

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Picture Kaleidoscope 7/15/15

Happy Wednesday!

Peeping Kitty by Morkel Erasmus at Isn't he adorable? Awwww! He's got more animals and other stuff at his site, too!

Statuesque by Linn Smith at - To me he looks like a conductor about to start a symphony, no? So cute! Doesn't look like she has a website. Too bad...

Mothership Landing by Dennis Oswald at What a cool visual! She's beeming up the cows. :)

Mr. Oswald has a neat portfolio. One whole section devoted to bad weather. Gorgeous stuff! 

These are the Most Incredible Photos Shot by NASA’s Cassini Probe by Michael Zhang at PetaPixel. Some look so surreal. And the straight lines on the rings...dang!

Have a great day!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Mind Sieve 7/13/15

Morning everyone!

Fan Fun

Con Man Trailer - I am so looking forward to this. lol. 

Awesome quality film of the FanExpo/Dallas ComicCon 2015 panel with Nathan Fillion and Alan Tudyk. I was at that event, but I never saw them. lol. That's the way of conventions when you're a vendor. lol. (Warning it's 50+ minutes but fab quality!) Even more panels on his Youtube channel

Sherlock BBC Special First Clip - they're going back in Time~!

Dr Who Series 9 Trailer - switching his look a little. The female Master is BACK! And I should know who calls him Old Man but argh! (That's Arya from Game of Thrones. I mean who in the Who verse...) :P 

Just when you thought you were safe - Dr Who Arrives in LEGO Dimensions. Lol!

Social Media/Author Platform

Barnes & Noble, Dead Nooks, and Brave New Branding from Kristen Lamb. It is an ever changing world out there.

Writing Advice

The Secret Behind Making Me Care About Your Characters by Chuck (NSFW) Wendig. Some great stuff here!

I am once more out of time. I'll try not to mention it too often, but "Jewel of the Gods" should be coming out towards the end of July!!!!!! *fingerscrossed* Have seen the final draft for the cover (no words and I will share once it's final final!), and the publishers is planning a big shindig at ArmadilloCon. Now it's all about the waiting and the praying and the finally woot yeah!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Virtual Tourist - TERA 7/12/15

Still fighting my failing drive and the new backup setup. Progress us slow....
But on the Happy Side! I have seen what should be the last draft (before they add the titles, blurbs, etc) of the Cover for Jewel of the Gods. Booyah!

The publisher is still hoping for it to be ready to reveal for purchase during ArmadilloCon 7/24-26! Woot! *fingerscrossed* If you want a sneak peak at the book (since I still don't have the pages up at the site (argh!) (Hello To Do List!) you can find Chapters 1, 2, and 3 on the blog. (With over a years delay in getting it published, you'd think I'd have more stuff together...But nooooooo!)

Val Palrada

Isn't he just too cool?

Such a good boy!

Love the magic/holographic sign.

Look at the gorgeous dress!

Front side and a peek at hubby. (Yeah, he's the short one)

Cool setup and with the awesome sky - double so!

Look at the gorgeous tile work! 


Just a hint of sexy and cool forms.

The jungle around Val Palrada

Quaint way station

The Hatchery - Arachnea

Close look at nastiness. Can you see the beady eyes?

Eggsacs and wrapped up food. Eek!

Oh! Nice room!

Such an impressive ceiling!

Confrontation time!

So determined.

And look at this floor! Lovely!

Truly thankful for all the hard work of the artist on these games! Thank you!

Friday, July 10, 2015

Movie Review - Minions


Starring: Pierre Coffin, Sandra Bullock, Jon Hamm, Michael Keaton, Allison Janney, Steve Coogan, Jennifer Saunders, Geoffrey Rush, Steve Carell, Katy Mixon, Michael Beattie, Hiroyuki Sanada, and many more.

Directed by: Kyle Balda and Pierre Coffin Written by: Brian Lynch Music by: Heitor Pereira

Premise: Having evolved from one cell organism to humanoids, the one thing that has ever given the Minions purpose and long term happiness is following and serving a Big Boss. After the disaster with Napoleon, and the aftermath, the Minions find a place to make their own. But without a Big Boss, the centuries start wearing them down and they fall to depression and despair. Realizing something must be done, Kevin comes up with a plan for a few of them to go back out into the world to find a Big Boss for them to follow again. (Rated PG)


1)  Voice Acting - Total Thumbs Up: A ton of heavy hitters have lent their acting voices to this film. Most of the fun though comes from the multiple voice talents of Pierre Coffin.

Despite the Minions speaking an amalgamation of several languages, it is Pierre Coffin's delivery as much, if not more, than the animation of the characters that make Kevin, Bob, and Stuart easily understood anyway. Sandra Bullock was passionate as the successful yet still unfulfilled Scarlet Overkill. Jon Hamm proved a surprising foil as her genius husband, Herb Overkill. Michael Katon and Allison Janney were unexpectedly amusing as the Nelson's. Though it was probably Jennifer Saunders who had the most fun on the job - as she got to play the voice of The Queen. (You'll see what I mean when you watch it.)

Oh and having the Minions sound out the Universal theme instead of using the Universal recorded music? Priceless! (A little girl sitting by me sounded it out along with the Minions too! (*And so did I, but softly...Heh heh*)

2) Art Work/Animation - Total Thumbs Up: Illumination Entertainment did a great job with the animation as always. Set in 1968 both in New York and later in London, Illumination made this a true nostalgic time capsule for older viewers. A ton of pieces of history and iconic symbols, people, music, and more will flash by on the screen - something most kids will totally miss, but which will captivate and fascinate older parents and grandparents. The whole film is an explosion of late 60's pop culture and social issues.

There were many instances I wished I'd had a pause button just to get a better look at, and possibly a chance, to make the connections with all that was being thrown at us from the past. The mob of villains running in the London streets alone was chucked full of 60's comic book, book, TV, and film references. (Nixon, Conan, The Saint, The Beatles, The Monkees, The Dating Game, James Bond, the list goes on and on.)

Amazing attention to detail as always. And a ton of visual gags by the Minions for the kids.

Make sure to sit ALL THE WAY THROUGH THE CREDITS! Some musical goodness as well as a ton of 3D fun at the very end. :)

3) Plot/Story - Thumbs Up: Rather than just do a straightforward tale, the film is done in the manner of a documentary - the narrator filling in information for the audience here and there. This works rather well, and even helps get in translations of what's going on at the beginning in case the Minions voices and the animation don't get certain points across to the younger viewers. (Truly, though, they do such a great job, it seemed a little superfluous. But better safe than sorry.)

The only real issue with the story, which can be easily overlooked, is Scarlet's need to have hired help steal the British Crown for her. With her husband's amazing inventions and her own outstanding physical prowess and skills, I doubt it would have even presented her much of a challenge to steal them herself. But the character does prove to be a slave to her desires, and molded certain dreams that could never happen as she envisioned or fill the wanting void in her soul (one much like the Minion's own need to serve, yet her is too specific and devouring to ever be satisfied for long...).

The most applaudable part of the plot was the theme of breaking molds and expectations. The 60's were a time where the youths of the world fought against convention, against being forced to be things or be boxed in by expectations - Scarlet, Bob, the Queen, the American family the Minions hitch a ride with, all of these and others break out of the assumptions and roles we assume to be theirs as viewers. So even the characters are used to embody the revolution of the times.

The incorporated music of the 60's from both sides of the Pond will definitely delight. In many ways this film is more for the adults than the kids.

Make sure to pay close attention when the Minions first get to Villain-Con. If you blink, you'll miss it, but a vendor there is not only a piece of their future but a tie in the unexpected, yet totally pleasurable ending of the film.

Conclusion: Minions has lots of delightful subtext and a ton of pop culture references from the 60's. Great music is brought in from the past, and some is even presented in unexpected ways. Older adults might end up enjoying Minions more than the kids! (And watch ALL the way to the end of the credits!)

Rating: 3.75 out of 5 (Hubby's Rating: Worth Full Price of Admission)

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Picture Kaleidoscope 7/8/15

No Monday post...
Had computer drive issues over the weekend. :(
Got a new drive with RAID but now have to baby the other to get the files on it off and hope it doesn't go totally belly up before I do. Eek!

Anyway, some pics!

The canals at Las Colinas.

Some lovely European style buildings there.

The sky is ever changing

I'm always trying for that sun through the trees look. lol.

Some beautiful and colorful flowers. Saw these a lot as a kid

This one looks like I've done something to it, doesn't it? But I didn't. Came out weird all on its own. Heh heh

The sushi chef at Wasabi and Wok went all out this day. It was so adorable!!!

Weird lamp - but the layered things looked interesting.

It allowed for a weird photo like this one. :)

 Have an awesome day!

Sunday, July 05, 2015

Virtual Tourist - Skyrim 7/5/15


Just running around you run into all sorts of places!

Such a lovely view!

Bet this is so cool in the summer.

Has a bit of a pest problem though.

Lovely night for a full moon


Neat carving (though it might also be a creature's head) - the witch who lives here was not very friendly.

Super interesting life form. A type of nymph? The witch had already killed it.

Such a large mountain!

Oh yeah, I'm a bad kitty!

This is the main room of a nest of vampires. Vampires! Had not been expecting those.

Statue looks super old. 

Hope you've had a fabulous weekend!
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