Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Hateful Eight

Rated R / 3 hr 7 min / Comedy - Drama - Mystery

What is it about?

John Ruth (Kurt Russell), also known as "The Hangman" because he likes to play the word game Hangman, has captured Daisy Domergue who has a bounty on her head for 10,000 gummy bears. They are his favorite. Unfortunately there is a blizzard following him that he can't outrun, but it's not as fierce as Godzilla so he plans to wait it out. On the way to the nearest inn he encounters Django Fett (Samuel L. Jackson) and an ex-Confederate who says he is taking over as sheriff for Yosemite Sam. When they reach the inn the owners aren't there which is suspicious. John is convinced that someone there is trying to free Daisy and possibly collect on his 10,000 gummy bears.

You will like it if...

You like long and drawn out western/murder mystery mash ups. When I see a Quentin Tarantino film the first thing that pops into my head is the dialogue. Every character has their chance to shine in a conversation or monologue. In The Hateful Eight Samuel L. Jackson completely steals the show. Kurt Russell has his moments, but the first half of the film revolves around him being paranoid and saying the same things over and over. By the time it gets interesting you're ready for the movie to just end. Thankfully the last half of the film picks up even if it still progresses at a snail's pace. I almost cheered when Jackson shot a character because they were taking too long. The parts of the film where Tarantino is able to recapture the magic he had in past films are the scenes where Samuel L. Jackson takes over. The script also has some large plot holes that never make any sense if you think about them, but are somewhat easy to ignore while first watching the film. The film also sort of just ends without a fully satisfying conclusion. I felt that The Hateful Eight was Tarantino's second worst film with Death Proof being the only one that beats it out for worst. Still it is at its heart a Tarantino film, so it does have its fair share of entertaining moments. The pacing is so slow getting there that it is hard to enjoy the ride. For anyone other than the most die hard Tarantino fans I would suggest waiting for this one to come out on Redbox or Netflix.

Next Week

The Forest or whichever film you vote for. Vote early, vote often, vote in the comments or Godzilla will pick the movie! As always the movie selection is subject to change based on what is showing here in theaters.

Upcoming to DVD on December 29

  • Sicario
  • The Visit
  • The Walk - Quick Review: Worth a watch if the preview looks interesting, otherwise skip it.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Looking Ahead

This time if year brings about a lot of the year in review and best of the year awards. I prefer to look ahead to what is coming and get excited. A lot of people like to wait until the new year for this sort of thing. I prefer not to wait. If there is something exciting to look forward to then I like to get into it as soon as possible. So this week I am going to talk about a little of both. What did I accomplish this year? What can we look forward to next year? When will I land a job hosting a game show?

Virtual Wars

The first novel in the Virtual Wars Series is for the most part done. Edits are finished, cover is done, the front and back matter are finished, and my acknowledgement of Papa Smurf as my mentor is finished. I am just working on fixing up some of the formatting and doing a final read through to fix any small errors, mostly with formatting. Cthulu demands it. I can't wait to begin rolling out some of the stuff I have lined up to introduce this novel. So what does this mean for the future?
  • Virtual Wars: Booting Up - The prequel collection of flash fiction stories will be released for free on Kindle.
  • Pre-order - Once the release date is announced, Virtual Wars: Initialization will go on pre-order on Amazon. This will happen sometime in January.
  • Release - 30 days after the book is available for pre-order the novel will be available for purchase on Kindle as an e-book or print on demand paperback, and also available for e-book download on Kindle Unlimited.
  • Promotion - I plan to work on promoting the novel every day for the first 30 days of the novel's release. I have some cool stuff planned like a fireworks display in the shape of a Darth Vader PEZ dispenser. I hope you all will join me for it. Actually I've been told that isn't in the budget, but I will make it happen if I can!
  • Virtual Wars: Running - This is the title of the second book in the series. I have a basic outline that I am currently working on. I can't wait to work on this one. As much as I love the first novel as it is right now, I think this one will be better. I can't wait to write it! I hope to release this one around August, but I am hoping to have it done and released by the end of the year.

Social Media

This past year I have made strides to increase and improve upon my social media presence. I love all of you who have interacted with me on Twitter. It is by far my favorite of all the social media outlets and it is because of all of the amazing people I have met there. I would name you all, but there are just too many of you and I wouldn't want to leave out anyone that I think is awesome. I went past 2000 followers yesterday without trying much to recruit followers. That will change a bit in the coming months. Unfortunately I have been neglecting some of the other social media outlets that have their own brand of awesome. So what can we look for in 2016?
  • Live Tweeting: Much of the live tweeting I do comes as a spur of the moment 'it would be cool if' kind of thing. I hope to schedule these things in advance rather than giving people exactly 5 seconds of advance notice. These are things that I can definitely do. An event calendar is something that I need to add to this blog.
  • G+: I like Google+. It has been great for interacting with authors and helping to organize things. Much better than my method of tossing monkey feces everywhere and hoping it doesn't stink the place up too much. Many of the general writing groups seem unfocused. I recently joined an author group that is everything I have been looking when I was trying to organize the Author Superfriends Teamup. I'm hoping that it will continue to grow and expand. 
  • Periscope: I have a Periscope account that I have signed up for and I have something very cool planned for this in the near future, and no I will not be dancing on top of a table for pocket change. If you are looking for me, I use the same handle there as I do on Twitter @ninjadueces22
  • Wattpad: I still love this community, but I haven't participated much lately. I have posted a few things this year that I intend to remain free like "These Are Not The Droids" and "Black Friday". I will continue to do this and I hope to revisit "The Ghost" for season 2 in 2016, but my priority is to work on the Virtual Wars novels.

Blogging N' Stuff

I have been very happy with the transformation this blog has been through in the past year. I love the redesign, I love the improved content, I love puppies and kittens and all manner of fuzzy cute things. Apparently everyone else seems to like my blog more as well. In 2014 I doubled my monthly traffic from 2013. In 2015 that number has tripled. I hope for that trend to continue. So what's the plan for next year?
  • Deadpool: The Deadpool movie is coming in February and I will be posting a review. It will be glorious like the sun rising over the ocean. The best review of all time will be posted after I see the Deadpool movie.
  • Events: I only had two events last year, and both of them were fantastic. I want to schedule more of them. I want to interview whoever will let me. I want to host guest blog posts. I want to write guest blog posts for others. I want to eat cookies and spread the crumbs over my blog. This requires others to participate, so if you want to help let me know. I will guest blog for you, I will interview your pet, I will clip your toenails... OK maybe not that last one.
  • Godzilla: I will continue to run from Godzilla in 2016. Wouldn't you??

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Concussion

Rated PG-13 / 2 hr 3 min / Drama - Sport

What is it about?

Dr. Bennet Omalu, played by Will Smith, is just as curious as a little girl named Dora. The difference is that Dr. Omalu has about 823742 degrees from universities, he studies death, and he doesn't have a pink backpack. Lady Death does not share his affinity either. She prefers men who wear red or pink. A former NFL center Mike Webster dies while trying summon Cthulu. He doesn't realize that Cthulu had already taken up temporary residence in his mind. Dr. Omalu examines his body and finds small red flecks of tentacle within Webster's brain. It is then that he realizes that he should go back to being The Fresh Prince.

You will like it if...

You like David vs. Goliath legal battles without lawyers starring Will Smith. What really makes this movie is Will Smith. He is a force within the film. Watching him fight against the odds is quite entertaining. Unfortunately the story itself isn't as good as the performance. As interesting as some of the science can be, they kind of glaze over it. They build it up as a fight against the NFL, but there is very little of that presented in the film. Most of the confrontation has twenty minutes of buildup to a thirty second incident. One of the most interesting parts within the film for me has a link to the documentary Merchants Of Doubt. I love that documentary and I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys intelligent conversation. Overall it is mildly interesting and has a slightly better than average underdog story. If you love Will Smith as an actor then you will probably enjoy this film, otherwise I would recommend waiting for it on Redbox or Netflix.

Next Week

The Revenant or The Hateful Eight. They delayed the release of these two films here. Vote for the one you want reviewed! Vote early, vote often, vote in the comments, or Godzilla will pick the movie! As always the movie selection is subject to change based on what is showing here in theaters.

Upcoming to DVD on December 29

  • Hitman: Agent 47 - Quick Review: B movie action flick. Not worth your time unless you love all action films.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The Big Short

Rated R / 2 hr 10 min / Biography - Drama

What is it about?

Christian Bale plays Dr. Michael Burry who is the first one to catch the anomaly that is coming. There was a blip in the Mariana Trench. Godzilla is coming to attack the American economy. Burry realizes what this means and invests in Lifesavers. Not the inflatables, but the candy. He knows what everyone else doesn't. That he really really likes them. Mark Baum, played by Steve Carell, decides he is really into Lifesavers too but for a completely different reason. A few other investors see the signs of the impending economic trend that will be created by a viral video of Dora the Explorer using a Lifesaver as a hula hoop. Banks like Wells Fargo and Bank of America think it's a joke, but it isn't. Godzilla is coming for them.

You will like it if...

You like amusing films with a great cast that have a serious subplot. This film is at its heart a message film. I would implore anyone to go see this film along with the Merchants of Doubt documentary and a few other films that outline problems that are going to continue to show their face over and over until the people of America get sick of it all. As a comedy it isn't very funny. To me this film should be listed as horror. The funny moments in this film will have you shaking your head at how stupid people can be. The horrific part is at the end when you realize what is really going on and that there is very little to prevent it from happening again. The cast is terrific. The only complaint I have with their performance is that Carell's voice gets overly nasal at points. He does uptight very well though. The script is well written also. It grabs your attention and presents its message with force. Some of the characters break the 4th wall to hammer home important points and also for entertainment value. The way the film is shot, with quirky angles and sometimes with the lens unfocused, grated on me at the beginning. Once I got used to it the strange style became a non-factor though. At this point I really want to talk politics and talk about my favorite candidate, but that's not why I write these reviews. However, if you want to discuss that aspect of things please do hit me up on twitter. As far as this film goes I think everyone should go see it just for the important message it puts out there. As a reviewer though if you aren't a fan of Bale, Carell, and Pitt and aren't interested in the subject of the 2008 economic crash then you probably won't be a fan of this film.

Christmas!

I plan to give a bonus Christmas movie review. Joy, Daddy's Home, Concussion, Point Break, The Revenant, or The Hateful Eight. Vote early, vote often, vote in the comments, or Godzilla will pick the movie! As always the movie selection is subject to change based on what is showing here in theaters.

Upcoming to DVD on December 29

  • Hitman: Agent 47 - Quick Review: B movie action flick. Not worth your time unless you love all action films.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Blogging Ideas

With this blog's second anniversary coming up in March next year (I expect to hear singing when it comes up), I wanted to talk about how I come up with ideas for blogging. I post a new blog article every week, usually on Friday or Saturday. If you blog long enough you will get to the point where it becomes difficult to come up with new and exciting ideas for blogging, but the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man will raze a village if I don't. This week I am going to share some tips on what I do when I am struggling to come up with ideas.

Normally throughout the week I look to what is being posted by people on my twitter feed, friends, and family. Everything I see or hear could potentially be a topic. I try to have a few different topics in mind before it comes time to write that way I can ask the Lock Ness Monster which one is worth Tree Fiddy. Sometimes I will forget these ideas because I am notoriously bad at writing them down. I am much better at writing story ideas down. Other times, like this week, I have been so busy that I haven't been thinking about blogging or what I might write about at all. Then I thought, "Hey! That isn't chocolate!" err...  actually I thought, "Hey! Other people might run into this problem too!"

Tips

I have a few tips to help ensure that you always have something to blog about even when you can't think of anything. There is always something to write about, always something new happening, always princesses in Disney theme parks, and always super cute puppies somewhere that want to play.
  • What have you been thinking about/spending time on? - Specifically how can you relate it to what you blog about? I try to blog about writing stuff, general life improvement, and how to improve logical thinking skills. I also just happen to do movie reviews. That is how I like to think about this blog anyway. If I'm thinking about Princess Uni-Kitty then maybe I relate that to character creation and development within a movie script and blog about that. This is part of what I do throughout the week to have multiple ideas leading up to the actual writing of the bog post for the week.
  • Google is your friend - You can also use whichever search engine you prefer if you don't like Google (Who doesn't like Google?? I pity tha foo!). Search for what your blog is about. See what other websites are saying about it. What is new in the news on the subject? You can always blog about what the most recent news article is on the subject.
  • Check the major blogs - Check the other major or your favorite blogs that cover the same sort of subjects you blog about. Don't exactly poach off of their ideas, but instead think of a different angle on the story. Most ideas for blogging are going to be things that have already been done over and over by other blogs. What can you do differently? Should the government pass PEZ gun control laws? That sugar can be deadly. You can also post a response to another blog's post and then link to it at the end. If you are friends with the person who runs the other blog they may allow you to post the link to your response in the comments to get a little cross promotion.
  • Holidays - There are so many holiday themes you can use that it boggles the mind depending on which holiday you are speaking about. There is almost always a holiday of some sort coming up. With Christmas, Kwanza, Hanukkah, Festivus, and so on all coming up soon you could put together a gift guide for bloggers or relatives that are hard to shop for. Great ideas for gag gifts or pranks you can pull. The true meaning of whichever holiday you are blogging about or the history of it. How does the holiday impact the main subjects you blog about? The angles you can use in relation to any holiday are endless.
  • Other Events - Like holidays, other significant events happen all the time. It could be an awards ceremony, concerts, sporting event, serious tragedy in the news, or a My Little Pony TV marathon. You can use these to help spread awareness for a cause, raise money for a charity, or make your readers laugh with the silliness of it all. It just depends on what the event is and how you want to shape it to fit into the theme of your blog.

Conclusion

Ideas and opportunities for blogging topics are all around you. Sometimes it feels like a gremlin is having a pool party in your brain making it difficult to find a topic for your blog. It shouldn't be that difficult. Examine everything and ask yourself if any aspect of it can be used as your topic. Be creative. Be imaginative. Run from Godzilla.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Rated PG-13 / 2 hr 15 min / Action - Adventure - Fantasy

What is it about?

As a disclaimer before I start this review I must say that all spoilers are completely fake. If you think I ruined the movie before you got a chance to see it, I didn't! I faked you out. If you don't know what Star Wars is about then stop living under rocks. It's not healthy. This film follows the Return of the Jedi where the evil emperor and Darth Vader were killed. It picks up with Han, Luke, and Leia all being much older. Luke opened up a cupcake bakery while Han and Leia decided to begin their careers as mimes who face paint. One day Luke's bakery burnt down and Luke disappears into the void. No one bothers to look for him. A girl named Rey and a storm trooper named Finn meet up with a robot named BB-8 and it is love at first sight. BB-8 is just not into non-robots, but has always been bi-curious for Luke Skywalker. Thus their search for Skywalker begins.

You will like it if...

You like the Star Wars universe. If you have any love for any of the Star Wars movies then you should be in heaven when seeing this film. It has the look and feel of the original trilogy while adding in enough new creatures and the adorable BB-8 to please fans of the cartoon-ish first two prequel films. Now time for some of the bad in the film. The relationship between Han Solo and Princess Leia has lost its charm now that they are older. The story also seems to have a few holes in it, but they can kind of be explained away with The Force. They also tried very hard to build up Kylo Ren as a Darth Vader replacement rather than making their own character. The back story isn't the same, so no spoiler there. I'm talking about visually and audibly. Other than these few minor gripes, this is the continuation of the Star Wars saga that everyone was waiting for. I'm not going to recount all the awesome that is in this film. There were several moments when my eyes were forming tears of joy from the awesome. This could quite possibly break all Box Office records. If you don't have tickets yet go buy some online. You may have to wait a few months.

Next Week

Joy, Daddy's Home, Concussion, Point Break, The Revenant, The Hateful Eight, everything is coming out next week. Vote early, vote often, vote in the comments, or Godzilla will pick the movie! As always the movie selection is subject to change based on what is showing here in theaters.

Upcoming to DVD on December 22

Saturday, December 12, 2015

All I Do Is Win

Today I want to talk about an issue that has been bugging me for a while. It is a certain mentality people seem to have when trying to have a discussion or a debate over a topic. All too often people will discuss a topic as if it is a competition of my idea vs your idea. Whoever gets the most points wins! GO!

Discussions about different topics are not competitions. You don't get cool points for beating the drum for your favorite political party, religious group, girl scout troop, Godzilla fan club, etc.. Discussions are for learning what other people think, sharing your thoughts, and evolving your opinions. You might not agree with someone's point of view, but is that necessarily the end of the world? Nope, we're still here. The One Direction zombies haven't destroyed us all yet.

Winning

I have had so many conversations lately that involve a logic that defies all matter of common sense. It is like these people decided that green is really pink and clear is really purple, but didn't bother to tell anyone else. If I didn't know better then I would say they were trolling to get an emotional response, but they genuinely seem to believe what they are saying. It is as if facts and science are thrown out of the window if they cannot be bent to personal bias.

I call it the Trump Effect. As long as someone never admits that they are wrong then they can continue to say whatever batshit crazy thing pops into their head in order to "win" the argument. Never admitting that they are ever wrong means that they never make mistakes, they never learn, they never change their opinion on a topic no matter what evidence is presented. These people believe their first impression is the only one worth listening to.

Vague promises of being correct help to support their argument, but evidence never seems to materialize. When you press for proof all you get is more hot air. Trump himself claims to be really really smart as if that is proof enough that what he says is true. I will never forget when he claimed that Mexico is sending murderers and rapists across the border. Trump claimed that he had undeniable proof of this. When pressed for the information he claimed that he spoke with some random person at the border who told him that was what they were doing. He wasn't even able to present the person who he had spoken to or give their name. It sounds like Trump made it all up, but he would never admit to that.

Competition

Not everything is a competition. It is not always us vs them. The us vs them mentality makes it impossible for people to evolve. Mistakes are how we all learn and grow as people. Refusing to admit to mistakes stunt that growth. A fear of losing the argument leads people to sacrifice their mental growth. What do we really gain from winning these arguments though? There is no trophy. Other people are not going to change their mind as a result of these arguments. What is the point?

Rather than arguing these points as if they are a competition we should take the opportunity to try to reach a common understanding. I have been involved in many arguments where I could understand why the opposing argument was valid for the other person involved, but it was not valid for myself. These things happen sometimes. This can be true when it comes to discussing religion, political candidates, the number of licks it takes to get to the center of a tootsie roll pop, etc..

What we can't do is to distort the facts in order to "win" an argument. When people do this no one really wins. Spreading falsehoods cause more people to become misinformed. If you are going to put forth an argument and present it as fact then please fact check what you are proposing. If you see someone else doing it then give them evidence to the contrary.

Conclusion

Winning is leading a community towards making things better for others. Winning is making the world a better place overall. Winning is not pushing falsehoods and a close minded approach on others. When debating a subject on the internet try to reach a common understanding. You can't expect everyone to bend to your will. You also can't expect to be taken seriously if you make stuff up to prove your point.

Friday, December 11, 2015

In The Heart Of The Sea

Rated PG-13 / 2 hr 1 min / Action - Adventure - Biography

What is it about?

Herman Melville is obsessed with a story he has been told and it's a whale of a story. He finds the last surviving person who was in the fish boat crew from the story. It's Forrest Gump, and he tells the author everything he knows about shrimp. The story goes that Herman isn't as good of a writer as Nathaniel Hawthorne and that makes him cry himself to sleep. The real story has to do with Thor wanting to be a whale boat captain, but he wasn't born into one of the great whaling families. He has only worked his butt off to be the best first mate and thunder god he can be. He is promised that he will be captain if he can deliver results under another captain who comes from one of the despised whaling families. There is another larger problem in his way though, a giant boat smashing white whale that is probably controlled by Aquaman.

You will like it if...

You like graphic larger than life reality tales. This film reminds me a lot of Everest which is another reality type tale that you probably didn't see when it came out not too long ago. I really wanted to hate this movie because there are so many other movies released elsewhere that are not showing here for no reason other than the people who own the theaters want to torture me as much as possible. Anyway now that is off my chest, In The Heart Of The Sea is mildly entertaining. Hemsworth, Cillian Murphy, and Brendan Gleeson round out a decent cast. Hemsworth brings a bit of his star power with him as does Gleeson, but the rest are for the most part invisible. The special effects for the whale are some of the best I have seen for an aquatic monster. All the scratches and scars on the whale's body make it feel like a real animal on screen. The script itself doesn't add a lot of flair, but there are still some surprises even for a story most should already know. The presentation of the story is masterful even if the material it is based on is not. There are better films currently out in theaters to see while waiting for Star Wars, but this one is worth picking up at Redbox in a few months.

Next Week

Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Sisters also comes out next week, but I will not be reviewing it. I already have tickets for Star Wars Yay!

Upcoming to DVD on December 15

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Critical Reading

This week is the first real vacation I have taken all year. Every other time I have taken time off from the day job, I have spent it writing, blogging, promoting, blah blah blah. Before taking off on vacation I picked up a new book. I don't know why I keep buying books at a rate much quicker than I read them, but sometimes something catches my eye and I can't resist. I love stories as I'm sure many of you do as well. I don't spend money very often, but when I do it is usually on movies, books, and pictures of Ryan Reynolds in a pink tutu.

One of the books I have been reading is Pygmy by Chuck Palahniuk which I am considering dropping like a twerking booty. Similar to many of his other books there are a plethora of clever phrases within, but the way this novel is presented makes reading it akin to stabbing ice picks into my eyes repeatedly. The first book of The Maze Runner series is another that I am currently reading. I don't care much for the juvenile characters nor the uninspired dialogue, but the background world and story overall are interesting. Several questions run through my mind while I am reading. What is working and what isn't? Why is it or isn't it working? What would I change to make it better? Who would win in an epic rap battle between Danny Trejo and John C Reilly?

Deconstruction

The book I picked up recently is called Bats Of The Republic by Zachary Thomas Dodson. Everything about the novel is beautiful so far. I love the cover, the style of writing, the production and graphics within the novel, the new book smell, and everything else. I am only 58 pages into it so it is still too early for a verdict. The reason I am only 58 pages into the novel is due to my deconstruction process.

By deconstruction I mean going through and asking myself why I like or do not like parts of the book. I try to find the root cause of what it takes to build those iconic moments. Sometimes it is an interesting phrase or description, and others it includes a more elaborate set up. For a simple description I might read it three or four times before moving on. For more complex cases I may go back and reread earlier parts that helped to put together this particular moment. Each little piece that fills in the puzzle matters.

How Can I Use This?

Now this is the tricky part. Everyone has a different writing style. What have you learned from reading? It is important to consider if what you have learned will fit with your style. You may want to write like Shakespeare, but sticking a feather up your butt doesn't make you a chicken. Taking tricks from other authors can help you grow and evolve as a writer, but if it doesn't play nice with what you already do then it probably isn't for you. As much as I love Palahniuk's internal and external dialogue, it isn't something I can use for my own writing. The world building of The Maze Runner is something I can definitely sink my teeth into though.

Anyone who is seriously trying to make writing a career should constantly try to improve their craft. The best way to do so is through practice. Write a lot, read a lot, build castles out of Legos or words... yea words work better for writing.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Krampus

Rated PG-13 / 1 hr 38 min / Fantasy - Horror

What is it about?

It's time for Christmas! Annoying relatives, stale fruit cake, angry snowmen on the rampage, and so on. Max is the only one of them that still believes in Santa. He has written a letter to Santa asking for the usual things like time with family, toys, and a Justin Beiber blow up doll. His inbred cousins find his letter and make fun of him in front of the entire family and no one seems to care because they are all drunk, including the infant. He rips his letter up while singing One Direction backwards which summons Paris Hilton. It's almost as bad as what is coming.

You will like it if...

You like B level horror films. There are some A list supporting actors in this film who do a decent job of delivering the dialogue, but it is easy to see why they are not A list leading actors. The creepy grandmother does the best job, but that isn't saying much. The story isn't anything special either. The most entertaining parts have interesting creatures they created based on older toys that were once given as presents. The scares are few if any. They have the film listed as a comedy as well, but I didn't see any funny moments at all unless you count the cheap B level horror elements. Krampus ends up being a standard B horror movie with B+ production.

Next Week

In the Heart of the Sea or The Big Short or perhaps something else. Vote in the comments, or Godzilla will pick the movie! As always the movie selection is subject to change based on what is showing here in theaters.

Upcoming to DVD on December 8

Friday, November 27, 2015

Black Friday: Chapter 5

Chapter 5: The Prize

The deity consumes the energies projected from the building below. Krumerixan feels a spell being cast from his master. The power engulfs the Merry Mart and spills into the parking lot. The humans below go crazy with bloodlust and fear. The alien monsters inside do as well. Up until now they were only attacking humans, but now the ice beast snatches a hawk-like humanoid from the sky. It shatters into a hundred frozen pieces when it lands.

The human alliances crumble as they all turn on each other. The shootout in sporting goods doesn't last long. The survivors neglect reloading in favor of running at each other while screaming and brandishing the closest weapon with a blade. The teenagers on skateboards beat each other senseless with their previous hit-and-run tactics abandoned. Everyone is on the attack and no one is on any side other than their own. Chaos reigns within and without.

Police sirens arrive. The two cop cars park in the street. Humans infected by the dark being's spell stop attacking each other to charge the cops like zombies in a video game. One police officer shoots into the charging crowd. "Hold your fire!" The other officers don't listen. They all fire while the one in charge tries to regain control. It doesn't matter as the crowd overtakes them. One of them gets a call out for backup as the mass of people tears the four cops apart.

The numbers within the store dwindle rapidly. A Cyclops falls to the icy stare of a Roc, the Roc falls to a woman's arrow,  a male teenager stabs the woman in the heart, a shelf is pushed over by a powerfully built man to crush the teen, and on and on the chain reaction of deaths continue.

Krumerixan's master retracts back through the portal with its feeding complete. There are still trace amounts of energy within, but the deity is not one to lick the plate clean. With his exit the spell of bloodlust is broken. There are two beings left inside. Krumerixan descends to the front door to await the final victor and present their prize.

The last monster is a thin blue skinned terror with purple glowing eyes that have black clouds swirling around them. Its main weapon paralyzes the opposition in place while it gouges the helpless victim with the razor sharp claws at the end of its three fingers. In the other corner we have a young girl in a white blood stained dress who is clutching a stuffed unicorn. Her hands are slick with blood just as blood drips off the claws of the terror. She sobs into the stuffed animal while the blue skinned monster stalks toward her.

She looks over her shoulder with a look of anger at the monster. The monster spreads its arms wide to make a more intimidating presence. Its mouth opens wide to wail a song of paralysis with the black smoke rotating faster around the eyes. The girl stands then runs toward the monster. She jumps at the monster's face. The terror tries to catch the girl with it's claws, but it is too slow. The girl jams the stuffed unicorn deep down the monster's throat. The beast tries to cough it up while flailing its arms at any shelf it can reach to steady itself. The girl hops down and walks away. The terror chokes to death. Don't mess with the girl hugging the stuffed unicorn. Especially not on Black Friday.

Krumerixan greets her, "Congratulations. You are the last survivor. You will accompany me to my realm."

"But I wanna go home."

"This will be your new home."

"But you said I could go home."

"The message said you could leave with your life, it did not say where. You can come with me, or stay and die. It matters not to me little girl."

She pulls out a knife and attempts to stab Krumerixan, but he is not fully in this dimension so it does no damage. "You cannot harm me. Choose now. Stay or go."

She puts her hand up as if expecting Krumerixan to take it. He does not. He opens the portal instead. They walk through it together.

THE END

I had forgotten how much fun it is to write something new since I have been focusing on rewrites and edits for the novel. I really needed to get this out. I hope you all enjoyed this journey into the perils of Black Friday and hope you all stayed safe while shopping on this day after Thanksgiving. Weeeeeee

Black Friday: Chapter 4

Chapter 4: Feeding

Phase 1 is complete. Krumerixan will begin the second phase shortly. He must deal with the logjam in the parking lot. People are abandoning their vehicles, and the line of cars trying to get in have backed up traffic to the light at the end of the street. He wades through the frustrated energy being expelled by those below. Anger and lust mix in the pond that Krumerixan delights in. He drinks from the energy until his belly fills similar to how these silly humans did hours ago. The mix is missing the despair and death, but that will soon be remedied.

Another spell opens more portals that Krumerixan sprinkles throughout the parking lot. The portals open underneath the immobile vehicles. Fire, ash, and lava blast the metal underbellies of these machines. None of the vehicles explode as you would expect from the motion pictures, but oh how they burn. Krumerixan puts a paralysis hex on a man's lower extremities. Lava seeps out from underneath the car he is next to. It swallows the man's feet and legs up to mid-calf. He can only scream out in pain. Krumerixan fills himself until he can drink no more. The excess energy is directed toward the Merry Mart.

Krumerixan begins a longer incantation. One that will awaken his master. The one who demanded this sacrifice tonight. Krumerixan dare not even think the deity's name. Being forced to speak it once is taxing enough.

Within the Merry Mart a customer opens a door. It is dark and cold behind that door, but the female with brown hair walks inside anyway. She searches for a light switch along the wall. A sound like chattering teeth begins and ends then something flies toward her. She dodges it. It is a turkey that has been frozen.

"Hey! Who is there?" Cold glowing eyes turn to her. "I have a... a weapon. Who is there?" The only answer is chattering teeth. The glowing eyes rise from the floor as if the person were crouched. "Come here so I can see you." The glowing eyes comply. A humanoid form lurches toward her. "Are you OK? Are you hurt?" Chattering teeth. "Can you say something?" Chattering teeth. When she realizes the crystalline beast is not human it is too late. The beast's "hand" grasps her shoulder and instantly she is frozen in place. Her heart stops, but her brain lives a moment longer to relinquish one last drop of fear to the soup.

Other doors open with similar results. The human that opened the door dies and the beast within escapes into the greater Merry Mart. The warg being the fastest of the beasts is also the first to find the sporting goods section. It is also the first to die, but not without taking out a dozen other humans along the way.

The spell is ready. Krumerixan opens a portal above the Merry Mart large enough to swallow it whole. Krumerixan mentally projects, "Come forth Marduk". Purple tentacles probe the edges of the portal before reaching down through the roof. Krumerixan can feel the energy being sucked out of the Merry Mart in gulps large enough to fill him for months.

Black Friday: Chapter 3

Chapter 3: Skin Suits

Many of the consumers within needed no further prodding. One woman in the kitchen wares aisle opens a kitchen knife set and slashes at anyone around her. Blood on the blenders, blood on the juicers, blood on the Kuerig, blood on the kitchen towels. She too slips in the blood to fall on the blade herself. It is important to wear shoes with good grip when shopping on Black Friday.

A man went for the chainsaws, but Merry Mart does not sell gasoline. For his effort he was beaten to death by a group of teens in the sporting goods section. Skateboards and baseball bats won the day for the teens. Make sure you can use your weapon of choice before getting stuck with a useless one while shopping on Black Friday.

Krumerixan sees each death, but his concentration is elsewhere. Repealing his own magic is more difficult than conjuring the initial spell. A woman is suffocated by a plastic bag. A man dies with an action figure jammed through his eye into his brain. A fat man has a heart attack. It is building, but it will intensify once he finishes this.

Alliances are coming together while some people are still trying to defend their prized items. A group of men take over the sporting goods section. Charles uses a hammer to break the lock used to protect the more dangerous items. Hunting knives, guns, and most importantly ammo are now open for use. He distributes the weapons to those around him. Shouts of "Defend this area" arise around him. If you don't know what to do, follow the alliance that goes to the sporting goods section when shopping on Black Friday. Superior firepower can be the difference between life and death.

The spell is released. The employees have been freed of their skin suits. Behind a closet door a pointy claw pokes through the forehead of the old Hispanic Merry Mart greeter's skin suit. It slides down the length of the body. A three hundred pound centipede crawls out from the confinement. Behind closed doors this scene repeats with many different creatures of the night climbing out. A small drake, a golem, a warg, and other creatures, some that have no name in English, lie in wait for a human to open their door. Humans searching for an exit that will find a horrific end. Don't search for the exit when shopping on Black Friday. It is a trap.

Black Friday: Chapter 2

Chapter 2: The Message

Krumerixan peers through the viewport to ensure that everything is where it should be. It is. He chants the incantation that will initiate the message. Soon he will free the traitors from their skin suits.

The intercom within the store clicks on. A voice that sounds foreign or alien announces, "Welcome to Merry Mart on this, the blackest of Fridays." Several clicking noises follow as the thing behind the voice breathes. "You may have noticed the lack of employees currently within the store. We are still here, but we are not here to help you. Only one may leave this store. Everyone else will die. Kill or be killed, fight for your lives Hu-mans." The last 3 sentences repeat over and over.

People flock to the exits. They trample dozens in the rush of panic toward the doors. The customers closest to the doors find that they will not budge. Impatient hordes of people push everyone closer. Bodies are mashed against the glass sliding doors at the front. Just over a half hour ago they could not wait to get in, now they are desperate to get out but not nearly as desperate as they will be. "Kill or be killed, fight for your lives Hu-mans."

Outside vehicles circle the parking lot like sharks waiting for their turn, but there will be no parking spots opening up any time soon. They continue to crowd in to the point where cars cannot turn into the parking lot. Another line is forming outside of those wishing to consume the fine goods they were promised would be on sale. Their mouths frothing with dollars waiting to be taken.

Krumerixan looks down on them with disdain. He was hoping for the line to take longer to replenish itself. A spell opens small portals where demon-like creatures grab the would-be consumers to pull them back through the portals. Their souls will help power the store. In effect the Merry Mart will consume them while the creatures will fight over what is left until all the meat is scraped from their bones. The horned devils are invisible to the human spectrum of vision, but Krumerixan has no problems seeing what transpires. The portals close when the last of the creatures has collected its prey. That is what they get for being late to the party.

Black Friday: Chapter 1

Instead of my usual blog post this week I plan to share a new piece of fiction for free as a thank you for all the people who have been following my journey and patiently waiting for my first novel to finally be published. This will also give me an excuse to not go out into the insanity that is Black Friday. I will be working on this today and posting new chapters as I finish them. Enjoy!

Chapter 1: The Opening

The line extends around the building and into the parking lot. The masses of people here chasing after some sort of deal. Charles wants the latest computer streaming device that is on sale for $50 less than anywhere else. Leslie wants an Ultra HD TV that is $500 less than the usual price. Cameron wants a video game system, Anna wants a massaging chair, Dwayne wants hunting gear, and so on. The lust and greed fills Krumerixan's nostrils like the scent of a warm apple pie just pulled out of the oven.

Outside the store are red and yellow neon lights that invite destruction. The red feeding into the customer's primordial bloodlust. The yellow triggering fear centers within the brains of those waiting for the doors to open. The smiling face with shifty eyes promises nothing but happiness and good times while silently mocking the throng of people waiting for their moment to pounce on products. The items they procure may be the key to their very survival or destruction.

The clock strikes midnight and the doors open. People push through 3 and sometimes 4 at a time. The creature wearing an old hispanic lady's skin suit says, "Welcome to Merry Mart". The stomping of feet on the painted floor masks the clicking of teeth within the skin suit. The skin suits confine them into shapes that cannot be comfortable. In an hour they will be freed. Criminals to our ways they will be given a chance at redemption or die in the process. The line dwindles like a parasite infecting a larger host. This host will fight back.

The last customer enters the building and Krumerixan conjures the barrier. No one shall leave this building unless he wills it. It has begun. The customers within find the products they desire. Charles has his streaming device, too light to bludgeon someone with. Cameron equips his gaming system, large and heavy enough to hurt someone but an awkward weapon. Anna's massaging chair is in pieces. The plastic arms may prove to be adequate batons. Dwayne has a rifle and a tackle box with fishhooks. The hooks may prove more useful without ammo to load the rifle.

The employees quietly recede to back rooms, occasionally deflecting questions from customers to other abandoned departments. The frenzy grows ever more tense, confusing, and hostile without the employees to maintain order. Through the viewport Krumerixan sees all of it. Soon all will fall to chaos. The many varied flavors of emotion will become that saccharine flavor of fear. Krumerixan prefers the varied soup of emotions that are currently simmering in the pot, but there are bigger mouths to feed.

The first fatality is claimed. Within the mob an elderly man falls. The stomping of feet involuntarily take the man's fragile life. His chaperon calls for the man with desperation in his voice. Blood spreads across the floor staining the bottom of shoes. Others slip in the slick liquid. A woman screams loud enough to cause the crowd to pause. This is excellent. Krumerixan has not initiated the message yet and they are already at each others throats.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Creed

Rated PG-13 / 2 hr 12 min / Drama - Sport

What is it about?

A young orphan is picking fights with the other boys over which Power Ranger was the best. Adonis Johnson always liked the Pink Ranger. The wife of his father shows up to save him from a life of being a One Directioner. She ensures he is educated in the fine art of decorating eggs with glitter. He gets a desk job where he shuffles paper around, but in his heart he wants to fight in honor of the Pink Power Ranger. He quits his job and goes in search of his dream. No one in California will train him, so he goes to the one former friend of his father's that might help him, Rocky Balboa.

You will like it if...

You liked the first four Rocky films. Starting with Rocky 5 the series had lost its way. The fifth film began putting the life drama to the forefront while trying to make Rocky fight again for no real reason. The drama has always been a major part of the series, but was always combined with training scenes showing hard work, determination, and the pursuit of impossible dreams. The film prior to Creed had a completely implausible story, making it hard to swallow. Creed returns the series to its roots while also adding some new things. Some of the new things worked like Michael B. Jordan while others felt a little cheesy like the graphics giving each new opponent's stats. There are several well established graphic presentations for boxing stats. The method used in Creed looked like it belonged more in a video game than a film. The script hits all the right notes for a Rocky style film. While Creed isn't the best film of the Rocky series, it certainly can claim its spot as one of the best in the series. If you liked the first four Rocky films then you should enjoy Creed as well.

Next Week

Macbeth or Krampus or perhaps something else. Vote in the comments, or Godzilla will pick the movie! As always the movie selection is subject to change based on what is showing here in theaters.

Upcoming to DVD on December 1

  • Amy - About: Amy Winehouse Quick Review: Haven't seen it yet!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Be Thankful

With the big turkey day coming up I wanted to talk about being thankful and No Shave November. Be thankful that you are not the turkey in the picture above. Hug everyone that matters to you because it is awesome and powerful. Nothing lasts forever, you have to squeeze every ounce of enjoyment out of this life that you can. Life can be difficult, infuriating, and can drag you down, especially around the holidays. Don't let it.

No Shave November

For the third straight year I am participating in the phenomenon known as No Shave November. Until recently I was unaware that people did not know what it was all about. Many people are not aware of the true meaning of the month long event. Everyone knows it is a time when men will grow out their beards to look like weird man-beasts who grew up in the woods playing with sticks and stones learning how to break bones for use as toothpicks.

What most people don't know is that it started as a way to support cancer patients who had lost their hair due to treatment. It is usually followed by a charitable donation. To those of you who are unknowing participants, I urge you to fully participate even if your donation is only $5. There are many charities and organizations that help the cause. Please pick the one that you like best and donate.

My First Time

The first time I participated, like every other time since, has been in honor of my mom. She was diagnosed with lung cancer on her birthday in April of 2013. Talk about a shitty birthday present. She went through treatment, the cancer spread to her brain, and she was in hospice care when November came around. I went to visit her almost every day. To make things worse my car broke down at the time which made it more difficult to visit her when I had to rely on others to give me a ride.

My mother had lost her hair due to the treatment. It was heartbreaking to see her pull at her hair and watching it come away in her hand. I began growing my beard in support. We would have fun talking about it. She would tell me that I needed to shave it off, and I would rub it on her face when we hugged. She would exclaim "I've been bearded!" like Peter Venkman from Ghostbusters. She passed away a little more than a week after her birthday the next year.

Thank You

Today is the day that you can make a difference. I was thinking about setting up a go fund me for this, but I'm not the greatest at promotion or recruiting people to help with causes. If you do want to help then today is the day you can. Find a worthwhile cause and donate some money to it. It doesn't have to be a lot. Every little bit counts.

I plan to donate $100 for every inch in length my beard hair gets by the end of the month. I'm hoping it gets to be around 1.5-2 inches long. Right now it is at around 1 inch when I try to measure the ones still attached to my face. Also tonight there is a charity poker tournament that I am playing in. It is to help a 16 year old girl who lost both of her parents recently at the American Legion outpost here. If I manage to win any money I am going to donate it back to her. Wish me luck!

Update

I went to the tournament, but there was no parking when I arrived. The venue is too small for the amount of people who were in attendance. I tried to park across the street, but was told that I would be towed if I left my vehicle there. It was upsetting because I had to drive 30 minutes out, another 30 back, and I wanted to play some poker tonight. In the end it is not about me, it is about the girl who lost her parents. I am going to find a way to donate my buy in fee of $25 to her even though I was unable to participate in the event. My only hope is that whoever wins will donate the money back to her.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2

Rated PG-13 / 2 hr 17 min / Adventure - SciFi

What is it about?

When we last left our hero Katniss Everdeen she was getting beat up like Rhonda Rousey by Peeta. Peeta has been tortured and brainwashed into thinking Katniss is the enemy of all things furry. Peeta wants to lead the furry revolution against the oppressor. Peeta is receiving treatment to get over his platinum membership to PETA. Meanwhile President Snow is spreading around white roses everywhere just because he can't think of anything else creepy to do. Now Katniss wants to kill President Snow while giving everyone else warm hugs and gift baskets. If you go one of the baskets I will trade you my chapstick for the Care Bear, or you can make me an offer.

You will like it if...

You liked the previous Hunger Games films. The last two films together end up being the best of the series. They are separate films though, so I have to judge them on their own merits. Mockingjay Part 2 is more of the same of what you would expect from the series. It neatly ties up the story and without the awkwardness of the final book. The Mockingjay films feel like what the final book should have been. Kudos to the writers who worked on this script. It's amazing how much progress Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson have made since the first film. They both perform like seasoned actors who fit in with the rest of the all star cast. As with any film that has a decent budget the special effects are amazing. One complaint I have has to do with how many of these films use the same crumbling crystal look when surfaces are destroyed. Not every surface would chip or crumble the same way. It's just a minor complaint and doesn't take away from the movie much. In the end if you are a fan of the previous Hunger Games films then you will go to see this no matter what I say. Even if I said a barrel full of monkeys was more fun you would still go see it. Overall this finale is like much of the rest of the series, it is a good action film with some twists in the story, but falls short of being a great film.

Next Week

The Good Dinosaur, Victor Frankenstein, or Creed. Vote in the comments, or Godzilla will pick the movie! As always the movie selection is subject to change based on what is showing here in theaters.

Upcoming to DVD on November 24

  • No Escape
  • Shaun the Sheep - About: Sheep doing sheep stuff. Quick Review: Put me to sleep, but people seem to like it.
  • American Ultra - About: Stoner turns into super spy. Quick Review: Decent action flick

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Cut Til It Bleeds

Editing is a painful process of pruning and shaping your manuscript. It's a time where the Care Bears are set to the side. Cover their eyes. You don't want them to see this. We're going to torture the manuscript. Sharpen your knives, it's time to cut til it bleeds.

I have been working on my first novel for over 3 years now. The editing and rewriting process has been more difficult than I ever thought it could be. I have learned so much along the way, but the only way to learn is to make mistakes. My editor has convinced me that I may need to do another round of edits. I wanted to strangle her for suggesting it, but in the end I know she is right. I don't want to write this book forever, but I want to make it as good as it possibly can be.

Layering

I first heard about layering in another blog post talking about writing and editing. It was like a supernova going off in my head yelling HEY LOOK AT THIS AWESOME THING! Now I had a word to describe my rewriting process. Each draft I have written has followed this process. It's like tiramisu, but each layer has blood dripping from the edges. Sometimes the tears of my enemies are mixed in.

Ideas that add depth and flavor to the narrative fill my head while writing. Many of them are for parts that have already been written. Rather than go back each time, I make a note of it and keep going. While rewriting, I use that opportunity to add those ideas like sprinkles on top of my sundae. The second and third drafts added over 5,000 words to the final word count. I had cut close to 5,000 words, but added over 10,000. Entire chapters were demolished using TNT, but others sprang up in their place. The word count overlords were not pleased. They demanded blood, gallons of it.

Deep Cuts

This last draft is almost done which has shaved around 3,000 words thus far. The chapter I am currently working on is filled with back story exposition that needs to feel the wrath of the knife. The main point of the story is important, but much of the back story isn't. As much as I love the back story in this chapter, it doesn't matter as much as the pacing challenge it creates. The story grinds like a rusty gear. It is important because it reveals a secret that was not known before. The scene as it is written doesn't work as well as I hoped it would. The secret still needs to get out, but I must find another way to do it.

One chapter I had written for the original manuscript introduced a new character that the main character would meet again later in the book. The character didn't add anything to the story other than some charming exchanges with the main character. Much of the information given in that chapter was redundant. Information that was given in three other places. I loved the character, but she had to die. Her name was Jinny Michelson. Remember her. She will forever remain lost within the terrible first draft.

The point is that you can't be afraid to cut and prune your story. If your story is better without a scene then carve it out. Find another way to include the important bacon bits. You don't need the greasy fat. It will choke the arteries of your story. Make it mean, lean, and cut until it bleeds. If you have to cut off whole body parts, so be it. Perhaps your novel doesn't need that 5th arm growing out of its ankle, or an eye in place of the belly button. Cut Cut Cut and cut some more. Appease the word count overlords with their gallon of blood.

Friday, November 13, 2015

My All American

Rated PG / 1 hr 58 min / Biography - Drama

What is it about?

Freddie Steinmark trains all day working toward the state ballerina championship. It is all in an effort to get a scholarship to Notre Dame. Every girl in school thinks he's so dreamy, but he decides to chase after the blonde girl that doesn't realize she is pretty until she takes off her glasses. At that moment you realize she is Supergirl! The hunchback makes sure that Fast Freddie gets rejected by Notre Dame and our hero vows revenge through football. How will he get his revenge when every college thinks he is too small and weighs a petite 120 lbs?

You will like it if...

You like sappy by the numbers dramas based on a real life story. Finn Wittrock has perfected the teenager look of home grown middle of America earnestness, and he tosses it around like it is made of free pancakes. It seems like everything is given to the main character from the start including all the free pancakes. He leads a blessed life where nothing at all could go wrong. You almost want to punch the guy in the face and steal his pancakes until life does it for you then you feel guilty. Once you see him overcome a few minor hardships it is easier to like him, but a lot of the charm is lost with the uneven pacing of the film. The main conflict ends up being something completely unexpected unless you know the true life story. It comes so late in the movie that 75% through the movie I wondered if anyone was going to challenge his dominion over free pancakes. Finn and Eckhart give decent if sometimes wooden performances. Some of the other actors in the film are obviously not experienced or talented in the craft. The pacing and obvious low budget hold My All American back. For anyone other than a Texas college football fan I would recommend waiting for it on Redbox/Netflix if you are interested in this one.

Next Week

Legend, The Night Before, Secret In Their Eyes, or The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2. Vote in the comments, or Godzilla will pick the movie! As always the movie selection is subject to change based on what is showing here in theaters.

Upcoming to DVD on November 10

  • The Man From U.N.C.L.E. - About: Spies doing spy stuff. Quick Review: Blah action flick

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Power Of The Hug

Whenever I go out I try to engage with the people I come across. After speaking with them if I think they would be interested in my movie reviews or my writing then I will hand them one of my business cards. After their initial reaction at how awesome they look (everyone loves skulls and dragonflies), they laugh. In the text under my name it says "Hugger". I'm glad that it brings joy to people, but it is not a joke. I am a hugger.

Hugs can mean a great many things to everyone. When I hug someone I take it to mean "I am here and I care about you". That is an important concept for me. When I was in college and for years after I fought with depression on a regular basis. There were many nights where I felt a soul crushing hopelessness that made me feel like crying, moving, or breathing was pointless. Some nights I sat in my bed in the dark not daring to move for fear that by moving I would destroy everything.

Depression And Writing

Writing is one of the things that helped me to get past the depression. Putting words on paper that expressed how I felt got these things out of my mind. I wouldn't say that writing saved my life as I never really thought of suicide as an option. I did think about it, but it wasn't something that I seriously considered. I know there are many others who have felt this pain before and have considered or attempted that outcome. Please seek help if you have. There is always someone out there that cares about you whether you know it or not.

I began writing a story that was intended as a suicide note for the main character. It was to include many of the things that set me back and broke my heart up to that point. I couldn't bring myself to write more than a few pages of that story because it was so painful to relive all of those things. I don't know why I tried to torture myself like that, but who else can explain the stupid things they did when they were younger. The main character in another story I worked on is cursed and cannot touch anything without burning or melting it. Characters like these are examples of how I felt at the time. Alone and broken with no chance of anyone coming close to me.

During college is also the time where I rediscovered reading. Jurassic Park was the first novel I fell in love with and I began to devour anything written by Michael Crichton. The escape of the story drew me to comic books again as well. This is also another reason I love movies. Leaving my world behind and joining the world of dinosaurs or mutants with powers sparked my imagination. I wish I had realized that this was my dream back then. There were so many projects that I started which all surrounded a story idea. I didn't realize it then, but I do now. I don't have to package the story as something else. The story can stand on its own.

The Power

The comfort that you feel from a hug is like nothing else. It can be a completely platonic experience or very intimate. When you put your arms out for a hug, you invite someone into your personal space. It shows a level of trust and acceptance. A hug is a form of personal inclusion and validation.

I have come to the realization that how people feel about me doesn't matter as much as how I feel about them. It may sound selfish, but it is true for anyone. If you love or care about someone then let them know. Hug them as often as you can. Never hesitate to tell them that they are special to you. This doesn't mean you should stalk people. Still respect their personal space and decisions, but leave yourself open to them. I know it is a risk, but if they take that opportunity to be cruel to you then they don't deserve to have someone as awesome as you in their life. That goes for people who try to take advantage of you also. Some people see kindness as a weakness, but it isn't. It is a strength.

I want to share my awesome with everyone I can. Some people will accept and enjoy what I have to offer. Some will not, and that's OK. I am here and I care. Sometimes more than I should. This is why I am a hugger, and I give the best hugs.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Spectre

Rated PG-13 / 2 hr 28 min / Action - Adventure - Thriller

What is it about?

Daniel Craig is Bond, James Bond. He gets a message from Lady Gaga saying he needs to kill someone then go to the funeral. At the funeral he finds the widow who he tries to show his PEZ collection to. She swoons then gives him all her secret chocolate stash spots. Bond then goes to Rome trying to find and put an end to the group that started it all going back to Casino Royale. A group called Spectre. A group so sinister that their only goal is to watch tentacle hentai, and they will kill anyone who dares get in their way.

You will like it if...

You like action movies with choppy editing or poor scripts. This was meant to be the culmination of all the Daniel Craig Bond movies. Craig is just as good as he was in the previous films. The other actors do a serviceable job as well. I can't decide if the problem lies with the editing or the script. It feels like they tried to do too much and ended up having to mash it all into the time frame, but at 148 minutes the movie is pretty hefty. Either way the story seems chopped up and then pasted together by a 4 year old with a glue stick. There are enough plot holes to choke a small army. I wonder if there will be a director's cut in the future that will show the full glory of what Spectre could have been.

There are so many missed opportunities throughout that I don't know where to start. Christoph Waltz is quite capable as a villain, and when I heard he was cast a small voice jumped for joy inside. He's barely in the film. He has a couple of truly fantastic moments, but there is so little of him in the film that you can forget about him completely. Bond films are known for their unique and interesting action scenes, but Spectre is completely lacking in this department. Sure there are plenty of action sequences, but not anything you haven't seen before in any other action film in the past 20 years. Some of the scenes at the end had me shaking my head wondering what the crap they were thinking. The decisions made with the story left me in awe at how awful they were. After Skyfall I was expecting something much better than this. I was expecting the smart spy thriller that all the best James Bond movies have become. Spectre could have been a wondrous send off to the Daniel Craig era of Bond, but instead it ends up being a decent turn your brain off action movie that just happens to have a character named James Bond in it. I'm still trying to decide if Quantum of Solace is still the worst Bond movie with Daniel Craig or if Spectre has claimed that title.

Next Week

 Love the Coopers, By The Sea, or The 33. Vote in the comments, or Godzilla will pick the movie! As always the movie selection is subject to change based on what is showing here in theaters.

Upcoming to DVD on November 10

  • Trainwreck - About: Amy Schumer finds love while expecting less. Quick Review: Good Dramedy, stops trying to be funny toward the end.
  • Self/less - About: Old man steals younger body Quick Review: Blah thriller.
  • Mr. Holmes - About: A retired older Sherlock Holmes No Review: Haven't seen it yet!

Monday, November 2, 2015

The Cost Of Self Publishing

This past week I have seen a plethora of posts about the cost of self publishing posted on Twitter. All of these posts have valid points, and I don't want to belittle the work done on each article, but they all have gotten it wrong.

Oh so what makes you the grand master wizard nerd of all things with self and publishing when you haven't published anything yet?

I am not an expert on publishing. I'm just some fat hairy guy that likes to scribble about things and eat Jello in my boxers. I'm in the boxers not the Jello. The Jello is in a bowl. I have done a lot of research on publishing, but I am sure there is much more I can learn. There are a few reasons that these articles are wrong. The biggest one is each one assumes that every author can afford the costs that they outline. Some of the articles look like they were designed to discourage authors from trying because of the large up front cost. Another reason is that the author takes their personal experience into account and makes recommendations based on those experiences. Everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses. I personally know that I am not the best at recruiting or promoting things, so the majority of the budget I set aside for my novel is going towards advertising.

The true cost of self publishing is absolutely free. I wouldn't recommend taking the free route, and that is not my final answer. You may be old and wrinkly by the time you are able to publish if you use the free route, but it is still available to those who are brave enough to walk through the snake infested swamp. I'm going to address some of the main things other author's suggest you always spend money on and what your options are with the associated costs for each option including the free option. Editing, Cover Art, Formatting, and Advertising are the big 4 that I will examine under my Perceptor Transformer microscope.

Editing

Option: Do It Yourself
Cost: Free!

Most advice when it comes to self editing your work is in between "Please don't do it" and "OMG YOUR NOVEL WILL GET HERPES IF YOU DON'T GET AN EDITOR". The reality is that your novel will most likely not get herpes. No guarantees.

The truth is that you can edit your own work. Most authors are too close to their work to see all of the errors, misspellings, grammar train wrecks, plot holes, and so on. It's hard enough for people who are professional editors let alone for someone who has race horse blinders on.

There are some things that can be done to help get this accomplished. Reading your work out loud can help find grammatical and awkward wording errors. Having good beta readers that aren't family can help spot errors and ask questions you didn't think about. There are also spell and grammar checks within the major word processors including Open Office which is completely free to use.  

Option: Pick and Choose
Cost: Varies

There are different kinds of editing that you can get. Copy edit, proofreading, taste the rainbow edit, content edit, Godzilla edit, and so on. Based on your strengths and weaknesses you can pick and choose which ones you want or need. Editing is expensive, but by all measures it is necessary. Each type of editing help fix different types of things and all of them are valuable in their own way. They all have different price points as well. Some editors charge by the page and others charge by the hour, so the overall cost is difficult to determine. I suggest asking the editor for an estimate if they charge by the hour. If this option looks tasty to you then search online for the different flavors of editing available so you can pick and choose which one fits in your shorts better. Jello editing is my favorite. Wait… No the Jello is definitely in the bowl.

Option: Comprehensive
Cost: $1,000-$18,000+

This is a comprehensive edit starting from a developmental edit to the final copy edit. For the ridiculous prices I have seen, some of these packages include formatting as well. I find it shocking that some of them do not. Make sure to get full service if you are taking this option. There's no reason to expect less for the price. I would also request a sample before hiring them to ensure that you work well with the editor. Once you shell out the money, you are married to that editor til death of the novel do thee part.

Cover Art

Option: Do It Yourself
Cost: Free!

Building your own cover art is a lot like building blog graphics, but on a larger scale. I have built graphics designed for websites for years, but I'm not confident enough in my book cover building skills. You can find the blog graphics article here: http://brianbasham.blogspot.com/2015/10/how-to-make-amazing-blog-graphics.html. Cover graphics require a lot more research. It is your first impression, so you want to make sure it fits the genre you are writing. The Stay Puff Marshmallow Man is probably not the best model for your erotica fantasy novel.

Option: Cheaper Options
Cost: $1 - $99

Canva.com is the cheapest non-free option, but it's also a do it yourself project. The best thing about Canva is their text presentation already looks good. The only thing you need to do is edit the text and then position it where it needs to be. The site has some other effects that you can add for a fee, but starting at $1 you can't beat the price for a prefabricated template.

Fiverr is another cheap option for book cover design. Just like with Canva they will use stock photos that can be downloaded for free or very cheap by anyone. It is quite possible that there will be other covers out there that will look similar to yours in the future. In the future all books are Atlas Shrugged, sorry bad Demolition Man reference. Gigs on Fiverr can start at $5, but you are going to want some of the add-ons that each person there offers. I used this option for my novel and paid $50. I'm happy with the cover that I got, but I also paid to get the PSD file so I can go in and edit as needed.

Option: Professional Cover Artists
Cost: $300-$3,000

Let's face it. The top professional cover artists know what they are doing. They don't just use stock photos and slap some text on them. These people could draw and build your cover from scratch. They are experts in text placement and they can also create new designs out of common objects. These are the people other so-called cover artists should bow down to. I went with the Fiverr option instead simply because of the budget I set out from the beginning. It is definitely worth the money if it is within your budget.

Formatting

Option: Do It Yourself
Cost: Free!

If you purchase editing that includes formatting then you can obviously skip this entire section. I found a fantastic guide for formatting a book using HTML and Callibre. Formatting is easy and painless, but it can take time. That guide can be found here: http://guidohenkel.com/2010/12/take-pride-in-your-ebook-formatting/. You don't have to know HTML to use this guide, but you will have to know how to copy/paste. I know, there's always a catch.

Option: Professional Formatting
Cost: $5-$2,500+

Again Fiverr provides some professional help here. Some of the gigs on Fiverr don't appear to be from people who speak English as their first language. Buyer beware of the Bigfoot that may maul you for your Jello. The Jello that is in the bowl. There are other professionals that you can hire including the man that wrote the guide I linked to above. He has also written books with tips and tricks on how to format.

For the life of me I can't understand how someone can justify charging $2,500 for formatting. Some of the reasoning has to do with making the book interactive, pictures within the book, or making fairy dust pop out of the book as people read it. Building the book completely out of cocaine would make more sense for that price. A Choose Your Own Adventure style book would be so easy with the use of links in HTML. It might take a bit more time than doing the usual formatting, but not enough time that it would take more than a day or two to finish the job. Yes they should be compensated for the extra work, no they should not be paid more than they deserve to fart on a snare drum. If anyone has any idea how to justify that price please let me know. It just looks to me as if they are price gouging at $100 per hour of work, or trying to scare people away from self publishing.

Advertising

Option: Do It Yourself
Cost: Free!

Build campaigns on social media, recruit a street team, organize your own blog tour, etc. There are so many ways to do this for free. The only limitation is your imagination. The biggest problem with this is that it involves a crap ton of time. Shaking hands and kissing babies, engaging individuals constantly. If time is your most precious commodity like mine is then this is simply not an option. I have tried to build up a bit of a following on social media, but I also know that I am about as good a recruiter as Pennywise the Clown. That doesn't mean self promotion can be ignored, but I think it is more important to not put all the eggs in one basket. Especially when that basket has a large hole in the bottom like mine. Many people are very successful with their social media campaigns and their calls to action. They must have gone to a different hypnotism school than I did. That reminds me, I should ask for a refund on that.  

Option: Paid Advertising
Cost: $5-$2,350

I put $2,350 as the max because that is the highest price listed I can find for a BookBub ad. I'm not going to address the effectiveness of advertising options, but I would not pay more than the cost of a BookBub ad for any kind of advertising. The low end of $5 comes again through Fiverr. I am not including the buying of reviews which is frowned upon by everyone, well almost everyone. Some people like things that should never been seen or heard of, but they still like those things anyway. Like Jello down my shorts, err uh, in a bowl I mean. Advertising is necessary whether you self publish or publish traditionally.

Conclusion

So what is the real cost of self publishing? Whatever budget you put aside for it. That is the final answer. It is possible to publish your work for the low low price of free. Everyone loves free ice cream, but there are also free dog poops everywhere. I don't think anyone wants one of those, maybe the people who buy reviews. Some people will spend $10,000+ to self publish. What you should spend will probably fall somewhere in between free and OMG I CAN'T AFFORD THAT. It further outlines the importance of having a business plan going in. Spend your money wisely and save it where you can, but also don't skimp on what is important.

I would love to hear what you think about the real cost of self publishing, or what you have spent if you are an author that has self published before. Commenting about the Jello in my shorts is um... uh... *clicks publish*

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Our Brand Is Crisis

Rated R / 1 hr 47 min / Comedy - Drama

What is it about?

Sandra Bullock has been in seclusion for the past six years as a cat lady. She didn't collect cats, she dressed up as Hello Kitty and terrorized the neighborhood. Just when she thought she was out… they pull her back in. She is offered a job as a campaign strategist for a struggling candidate in Bolivia. They are losing badly because their candidate is Wile E. Coyote and all he wants to do is chase that damned roadrunner. She offers them a decorative bowl that is designed to suck a portion of their soul from them or something like that. She decides to take on the job once she finds out that the opposing candidate is being advised by her arch nemesis, the falcon god Montu who drops poop from the sky.

You will like it if...

You like interesting movies exposing the inner workings of a democratic election campaign. If you follow me on twitter I will sometimes post or retweet something political from time to time, but this movie touches on a subject that is near and dear to me. The amount of spin and bullshit that political parties and strategists will put into things. Most of that is done through the media spin machines here in America. I have been mulling over an idea for a video blog on this very subject, but I simply do not have the time for it. I recently had a couple of tweets go semi-viral, I say semi-viral because they both got well over 10,000 impressions which is 100 times what any of my other tweets would normally get. Anyway I bring it up because one of the tweets said basically that the pundits were trying to project onto the public what to think. Manipulating the public is what this movie is all about.

Sandra Bullock and Billy Bob Thornton do a great job in this movie. They have really good chemistry on film and play off each other well. My main gripe with this film is how those two characters are written as a typical trope. Bullock's character is written as a crazy bitch as if any woman who is assertive is a bitch and all women are crazy. Thornton is written as a horny old guy as if all guys are horny all the time. That kind of thing irks me when I think about it because this film is so interesting without those additions. True they do provide some opportunities to add some one liners that are funny, but most of those one liners are just as funny without the trope. There are a few twists and turns in the story that I enjoyed as well. At its hearth Our Brand Is Crisis is a tragic drama that has a direct correlation to what goes on every election cycle. If you are interested in the Democratic election and campaigning process at all then you should enjoy this film. Even if you aren't, the chemistry between Bullock and Thornton with a smattering of crisp one liners may be enough to keep your interest if you are a fan of either.

Next Week

Spectre. Vote in the comments if you like, but I'm reviewing the next James Bond film. Other releases that I will probably see include: Trumbo, Brooklyn, Spotlight, and I will probably skip The Peanuts Movie. As always the movie selection is subject to change based on what is showing here in theaters.

Upcoming to DVD on November 3

  • Inside Out
  • Vacation - About: Family vacation gone horribly wrong Quick Review: Meh Comedy.
  • The End Of The Tour - About: Rolling Stone interviews an author Quick Review: Interesting Drama for writerly people

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Open For Business: Promotion and You

Welcome to another edition of "Where is the toilet paper?" This week I really want to talk about promotion. I see a lot of advice for authors trying to promote their books, and a lot of authors making mistakes over and over again. The definition of insanity is stabbing a block of cheese and screaming "Daddy never loved me!" Actually I think the quote goes "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results." POTAYTO POTAHTO. Again there is a ton of advice on this subject, and I am totally going to not add to that at all.

What I want to talk about is the way promotion can be a soul crushing endeavor. I used to hate it with a passion. Running around in a pink tutu with neon sign over my head that says "LOOK AT ME!", then wondering why no one says anything in my padded room. Why can't I just make my awesome over here and hide in a cave while everyone buys it? Well, how are they going to buy it if no one knows about it? So how do we promote the thing without having our soul crushed in the process?

DO THE ENJOYING OF IT!

What? Enjoy pulling your own nails off one by one? Enjoy extracting your own teeth? The agony of it all! Oh despair, the Skynet is falling! Terminators are roaming the streets collecting the kittens for Trumpcat pictures! Brian is an insane person and I will never enjoy the promotion soulcrush that makes souljuice that I have to drink to replenish myself before I die from lack of soul. *cue James Brown*

Yes YOU will enjoy promoting your awesome because it deserves to be treated like the awesome that it is! But how? I'm going to tell you a story. No it doesn't involve piggies or wolves or girls in red hoods. It begins with a man that has decided he is going to pursue the whole writing of things. He looks a lot like me, but less handsome. He's still a sexy beast if you like hairy guys.

Anyway this guy hates self promotion and all the social medias. The more social the more he hates it. He prefers one on one conversations or forum formats where he can collect his thoughts. He's not on the twitters, not blogging, no instagram, and he barely has a facebook set up to keep up with old friends. He vows to never do the socials media because it is the Emperor of evil things. So evil that even Darth Vader would turn on it.

So how do I go from that to where I am today? I try to smell all the roses now. Sometimes it's dog poop that I smell, but when life gives you dog poop sculpt it into the form of John Boehner's face. It should be about the right color for that. The great thing about social media is that you can set it to the side and ignore it for a while if you need to. When you think of something witty or clever you can pick up your phone and share it with the world.

If you can't think of anything don't pressure yourself into posting something. There are a multitude of people sharing their awesome on there. Share, reblog, retweet, or otherwise spread their awesome around like it is unlimited pizza. Everyone should have a chance to get a slice of awesome even if it is someone else's awesome. This is kind of avoiding the point though.

How To Do The Enjoying Of Self Promotion

If you want to be a writer or author then you enjoy writing, so write! There are so many ways to do this it makes my head spin. Turn every bit of promotion you do into a story. It's all a story that you control and you are the hero in the middle of it all. Tell the story you want to tell. You don't have to beg people to come see your awesome. Put it out there and tell everyone to go see it or Godzilla will eat their face. Do what you enjoy doing.

If you hate doing interviews then do the interview as your favorite character. Make it fun and enjoyable for yourself. If you have fun doing it then others will enjoy reading it for the most part.
Interviewer: Where do you get your characters from?
You: I AM GROOT

I enjoy writing fiction, so last week I created a serialized flash fiction story that was inspired by the blog post I wrote last week. The Storify of it is below. The point of this is that you are not in a cage where you have to post your link saying PLEASE CLICK ME OR I WILL CUT MYSELF. You can craft the promotion into something that is an enjoyable experience for yourself and others. Be creative. Innovate. Now I'm going to go make a bacon T-shirt with my website's link printed on it.