Friday, April 29, 2016

Movie Review - Ratchet and Crank

Starring: James Arnold Taylor, David Kaye, Jim Ward, Rosario Dawson, Paul Giamatti, John Goodman, Dean Redman, Armin Shimerman, Sylvester Stallone, Alessandro Juliani and more.
Directed by: Kevin Munroe and Jericca Cleland Written by: T.J. Fixman, Kevin Munroe, and Gerry Swallow Cinematography by: Anthony Di Ninno Music by: Evan Wise
Premise: Ratchet has admired the Galactic Rangers since he was little. So when a chance pops up to try and join during a recruitment campaign in his backwater world, he's eager to go. His carefree past, however, proves a giant stumbling block. At least until he makes the unexpected acquaintance of a small defective robot he calls Clank. Suddenly, Ratchet finds himself dumped in the path of one of the biggest threats to the Galaxy and another chance at his dream. (Rated PG)
1.Voice Acting - Total Thumbs Up: Loads of great voice talents for this one. Loved Paul Giamatti as Chairman Drek - so ruthless and so dense. Heh heh. Armin Shimerman brought some nice lunacy into evil Dr. Nefarious. Sylvester Stallone was too fun as Victor Von Ion. Rosario Dawson did great as Elaris - just a touch of manic in there for flavor. Jim Ward, James Arnold Taylor, and David Kaye meshed quite nicely together as our three principal characters!
2. Artwork/Animation - Total Thumbs Up: We saw the film in 3D - CGI always converts quite nicely to the medium. They had some cool 3D moments and used it to good effect. The space shots were lovely! The 3D also made for some fast moves down a narrow canyon. 
The animation was quite detailed and came across very well. Ratchet's fur looked fluffy and soft while Captain Qwark looked as superficial as his personality. :P Elaris' horns/hair were very reminiscent of Galaxy Quest. :)
Some lovely color palettes used to good effect especially for subtext. Blues and Greens were for good, reds and oranges for bad. This placed Ratchet somewhat in the middle before joining the Rangers, which was rather apt with his tendency to get into trouble. 
3. Plot/Story - Thumbs Up: The Ratchet and Clank film is based on a PlayStation game from 2003 (and has had several sequel games). As such, the film is filled with tons of lovely snark. They even do a countdown at the beginning to the evil speech. :P 
Several themes are used/explored in the film - belonging, responsibility, big dreams, that friendship runs both ways, as well as the fickleness of fame and addiction to it. Best of all, the little biases that can cause so much harm to others. 
The plot is pretty straight forward with a few small surprises and lots of subtext and snark. They even make fun of the Wilhelm scream. lol. Chairman Drek was both brilliant and dense - and his minions are social media fools! lol. Dr. Nefarious is so insane he actually made mad science work! (Loved the Sheep-i-nator!)
A couple of items are a little far fetched (rust takes time guys!), but it is enough fun it's easily overlooked. 
Once the film shows the voice actors names at the end, there's a bit more (and more snark) then one last bit after all the credits. Well worth it. Heh heh.
Conclusion: Ratchet and Clank is a fun ride full of snark and cute little moments. The lovely animation made the cool gadgets, guns, spaceships and space look awesome.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 (Hubby's Rating: Worth Full Price of Admission)

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Picture Kaleidoscope - WHOFest 2016

This past weekend ChibiChains and I had a dealers table at WHOFest
A gaggle of Doctors and hammy companions? :P
A Doctor WHO themed belt Drew created while at WHOFest. :)
The Sisters are here to help. 
K-9 the Doctor's dog. And one of my favorite characters! :)
Even Daleks like to come to WHOFest! Heh heh. (Old and new versions too!)
Vastra from Vicotrian England. And quite a detective in her own right. :)

The newest Dalek type rolling through the Dealers' Room! Wished I'd caught him talking. Dang it! :)
Have a great one!

Monday, April 25, 2016

Mind Sieve 4/25/16

WHOFest was this past weekend so this will be a quick one!

Jason Bourne Official Trailer - Shakycam AGAIN? Ugh....

Independence Day Resurgence Official Trailer 2 - Booyah! (Watched the original again a couple of weeks ago - we're good to go!) :)

The Magnificient Seven International Teaser Trailer - a remake of a good American film based on a Japanese film. Cast looks fab too! Sweet! 

Wish me luck! Work's been CRAZY!

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Virtual Tourist - Grim Fandango 4/24/16

Grimm Fandango
Rubacava - Year 1
Cruise Ship carrying off Mecha! Nooo!
Asking the Captain for help!
Lots of the city to see!
Blue Casket Hotel - isn't she pretty?
Elevator from the Hotel. Going up the stairs there take you back to Calavera's. :)
Police HQ and Morgue. Love the building! Looks like a ship, no?
The Morgue - the plant riddled corpses are increasing. Not good. 
Blimp currently docked at Rubacava.
Tower with security checkpoint for the blimp.
Blimp security station. Got to do some fast talking and funky puzzle solving. :P
Entrance to the Cat Races Coliseum. (Down the tower instead of up.) Neat looking place. :)
View down into the Coliseum. 

Hope you have an awesome Sunday!

Monday, April 18, 2016

Mind Sieve 4/18/16

Going to be a wet week down in Texas!

Fan Fun

Doctor Strange Teaser Trailer - YES! (Weird that they've changed the Ancient One to a woman...) And they have the window! Sweet!

Suicide Squad Blitz Trailer - this is going to be fun! Heh heh.

For Kaiju fans! Godzilla Resurgence trailer - something looks very wrong with Godzilla. Eek! (Japanese title looks like Shin Gojira - so possibly it is Twin Godzilla?)

Social Media/Author Platform

 20+ Social Media Hacks and Tips From the Pros by Lisa D. Jenkins at the SocialMedia Examiner. Some truly interesting tips. Will keep you very busy for a while. lol

Writing Advice

Writing Building Blocks: Paragraph Breaks & Voice by Jami Gold. Nice informative stuff in here!

My time is up. Hope you have a great week!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Virtual Tourist - Final Fantasy XIV 4/17/16

Final Fantasy XIV
Mining and tinkering camp. It's where we learn a little about crystals and tuning them. Still not something I've done a lot with.
My daughter loves these! Giant, chubby, baby chocobo! Hee!
Vesper Bay
Different angle on the main courtyard.
The Waking Sands
Scions of the Seventh Dawn
Within Vesper Bay lies the Waking Sands. It is the head quarters for the Scions of the Seventh Dawn - unaffiliated group trying to help the entire planet. This is their current leader, Minfilia.
Preserved staff from one of the previous leaders of the group. He was lost during the calamity.
Pulled back view of the head office of the Scions of the Seventh Dawn. 
Traitor to the planet. 
This warrior race is trying to summon back one of the Primals. Elemental deities that take over the minds of those around them. Eek!
They are summoning the Primal!
Magnificient, no? His name is Ifrit.
The eager worshipper. Heh heh.
The Primal speaks!
He is darn scary looking! Dang!

We're expecting a ton of rain today! Stay dry! 

Friday, April 15, 2016

Movie Review - The Jungle Book

Starring: Neel Sethi, Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley Idris Elba, Lupita Nyong'o, Scarlett Johansson, Giancarlo Esposito, Christopher Walken, and more.
Directed by: Jon Favreau Screenplay by: Justin Marks Based on the Novels by: Rudyard Kipling Cinematography by: Bill Pope Music by: John Debney
Premise: When the tiger, Shere Khan, finds out the wolves are protecting Mowgli, a man cub, he gives an ultimatum - give him the child to kill or he will kill other jungle denizens until his will is met. Trying to protect his jungle family, Mowbli leaves with his protector, the panther named Bagheera, who plans to take the boy to a man village where he can be safe from Shere Khan. The ruthless tiger, however, has other plans. (Rated PG)
1) Acting - Total Thumbs Up: The film has a lot of well known actors doing the voices for the animals. All the choices fit quite well. Scarlett Johansson was fabulous as Kaa - she gave the boa constrictor just the right amounts of sexy-scary. Lovely voice during her song as well. 
Bill Murray was a great choice for Baloo - he created a lovely impish tone for the character. :) Another fun matchup was Christopher Walken as King Louie - especially when he breaks out in song! lol. Lovely performance. 
2) Special Effects/Animation - Total Thumbs Up: The Disney-Pixar team did a great job on the look and feel of the film. The jungle and its different areas felt real and so did the animals. The creatures moved as their real counterparts would and even made their mouth movements look quite natural. Mowgli, the only real person in the film, was seamlessly woven into tapestry created for us with the CGI animation. Nice work!
While some of the animals represented were from familiar species, the animators also brought in many unfamiliar ones as well. Watching the movements and habits of those new species proved quite fascinating!
I totally loved what they did for Kaa and King Louie. Kaa was mesmerizing and the animators came up a lovely way to emulate and make sinister the snake's hypnotic gaze. Loved how they then took it and swirled the reality of the red flower to show the audience a glimpse into Mowgli's past. King Louie was huge! The detail on the orangutan was amazing. And wait till you see him move!
There's a nice bit of fun during the closing credits. (And more Christopher Walker singing! lol.)
3) Plot/Story - Thumbs Up: It's been a very long time since I've seen the Disney's original animated version of the Jungle Book. I don't believe I ever read the series the film is based on - so definitely can't add any opinions from that angle. But for those who grew up with the 1967 animated version, I think you'll be quite pleased - especially as they actually redid several of the songs from the original. 
The film starts you out with action to try to create a sense of urgency but since the audience doesn't yet know any of the characters, it didn't seem to come across exactly as intended. No real surprises in the beginning part of the film and despite several tense or dangerous situations, the film didn't really take off for me until we meet Kaa. Totally adored the whole scene in that part of the jungle. And then matters picked up again once Baloo comes on the scene. 
Multiple themes play during the film - family, belonging, being accepted for who you are (or despite what you are), the fact that despite each others's differences some of them can also be strengths. 
My only true complaint was the typical superfast return effect sometimes used in plots. Though it took days to get to where Mowgli ended up (and the fact he got there on ox back and river speed travel), when the time comes form him to come back - he made it in super record time. The something he decided to take along back with him, wouldn't have lasted that long a trek. You'll see. Still, overall it, the point is easy to overlook. The film was definitely enjoyable.
Conclusion: If you're a fan of the old animated film, you'll find plenty to like and lots to feel nostalgic about. (Bear necessities will follow you home!) Yes, they bring back several of the songs! For those who've never seen it, though, you're in for a neat treat!
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 (Hubby's Rating: Worth Full Price of Admission)

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Once More With Feeling - Q2 2016 Finalist of the Texas Writers Journal

My short story "Once More With Feeling" is a finalist in the Texas Writers Journal.
Texas Writers Journal
All the finalists get put into a bound paperback and ebook versions of the journal every quarter for readers to enjoy and vote on. (The book has a score sheet and even a comments sheet to track what you've read!) Readers vote on the short stories at the site and the info is compiled to pick the winners for the year.
Texas Writers Journal Q2 2016
All the info on the contest and prices can be found on their Submissions page.
Anyway - here's a snippet of "Once More With Feeling":

People walked up and down the sidewalk at the end of the quad, many talking to others who weren't there, their cell phones connecting them with those miles, states, or even countries away - all of them wrapped in their own importance, their own imaginary kingdoms, never quite aware of what was really around them.

They only desired what made sense to them, whatever helped make their safe little pockets of reality continue to exist. Normal was a lot rarer than anyone thought. But she'd learned they all liked to think they were. They liked to believe they were masters of their world, of their lives and destinies, never actually understanding how easily it could all be taken away - sometimes on a whim. Perhaps hers.

Kayla walked on to the crowded sidewalk a shark in fish rich waters. They swam past her in blissful ignorance, not deigning to understand the possibility of the danger in their midst. It was empowering. Kayla joined the heedless throng and headed north.

A rare tingle of anticipation sparked as her heels clipped along the concrete walkway in the sea of strangers. Today wouldn't be like other days. Today would see the fruition of several months' worth of planning. Today she would do something new.
You can even get a subscription to get a subscription for the trade or ebook versions to get cool Texas author stories.  More info about all that and purchase links can be found here.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Picture Kaleidoscope 4/13/16

Had to do a backup before upgrading the website Wordpress so now I have little time to finish this post. DOH! Time to hurry, hurry, hurry!
Red Cabins by Michael A Blanchette at Funny thing is it is the sky and mountain that grabbed me first. :P
Look at the sky on this one! Called Rosy Inlet - nice work Mr. Blanchette!
Happy Holi by Rajib Singha at - such lovely colors! Lots of other cool pics at his flicker account. Very nice!
Have to run! Have a great and colorful day!

Monday, April 11, 2016

Mind Sieve 4/11/16

Going to be a quick one this week. Too much stuff going on! Eek!

Fast Track from Simon's Cat! Too cute!

Rogue One Official Teaser Trailer - should be interesting. (*pray for a good plot!!!!*)

Tale of Tales Official Trailer #1 - putting the Grim back in the Grim Fairy Tales?

The BFG Official Trailer #1 - this looks fab! 

Swiss Army Man Official Trailer #1 - this looks awesomely bizarre! 

Have a great week!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Virtual Tourist - Grim Fandango 4/10/16

Morning! Running super, duper late.
Between work and trying not to catch a cold, life has been nothing but CHAOS! Whee! (Did see "Eye in the Sky" - good movie! Just didn't get to do a review. Felt horrible Friday - suckers take 2 hours and life is FULL) :(
Grim Fandango
This handsome dude lives in Rubacava. Got to meet him after I fell off the cliff into the brink. :P
Thanks to his intell, I was able to give my old client news on his wife. It also landed me his old job so I can wait for Meche.
Year 1
Manny has been waiting for Meche. It has now been a year. Many things have changed.
He looks very Casa Blanca no? Heh heh. Manny now owns his own place - looks just like Humphrey Bogart. :P
View from his porch of the Rubacava and the bay.
Inside his swank apartment/office
This table here holds a secret! Flips to show a machine that let's him control the roulette table. 
Floor below Manny's apartment and also entryway to the club. He has a coat checker and everything! :P
Bar and Lounge area of the club. Glottis plays some mean keys!
The Casino area of the club.
View of Manny's club entrance. Swank!
Could that be...Meche? At last!
A little birdie bringing Manny info from his rebel friends!
The plot thickens!!!

Have a restful day!
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