Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Monday, December 17, 2012

Guns, Sandy Hook, and political parasites.

I am not going to discuss the Connecticut shooting. The day of the shooting, Facebook was filled with so many left-wing anti-gun @$$h0l3s trying to politicize dead children that I had to point out that the bodies were not even room temperature yet, and the political parasites were trying to stand on their still steaming bodies.

There was even someone on Facebook within six hours who stated that,  yes, he would have rather that the children has had all been set on fire, because at least then they wouldn't have been shot.  He said that. I cannot make this crap up.

Do you want to know what's worse than killing children?  People trying to make political points off of their dead bodies. These people make me violently ill.

And the worst thing?  There are already people making excuses for this murdering psycho -- "bright," or "autistic" or "Aspergers," and other exculpatory or complimentary words are being thrown at us to excuse mass murder, as though blaming the guns for the slaughter.  Again while at the same time defaming innocent civilians, painting 94 million American gun owners with the same brush of mass murder.

People make me ill. And I've made myself sick just writing about this. Notice, I haven't said one thing about the shooting itself, just the aftermath.

The people of ancient Carthage were a money-worshiping people. To sacrifice to their god, they would toss the biggest drain on their pocketbooks into a fire. They would throw in their children.

If you were someone who spent time online on Friday talking about monsters who own guns instead of passing along prayers, then look in the mirror. You already threw the baby into the fire for your political points. Enjoy.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Video Games: the Next Generation?

I try not to make this a blog for solely my own personal opinions, I have another blog for that, but I read an article last week that kinda annoyed me. I deeply appreciate the artwork, the graphics, and even the storytelling of some games. The graphics of the upcoming Lara Croft game, or the storytelling of the Mass Effect trilogy, could go toe to toe with movies, and could certainly replace some actors.  I mean, seriously, look at the video below.
  
  


How long did it take you to see that this was NOT live action?

But for all that, there’s been an ongoing debate in the video game community that goes something like this – the last round of major video game consoles came out in 2005 (the Xbox 360 and the Playstation 3), and the technology has advanced soooo much since then, surely it is time to move on.

You might smell a bit of burning rubber at this point. That’s my brain hitting the brakes hard and going “huh?”

When the Xbox 360 came out, game companies needed to increase their hired programmers tenfold as games transitioned to HD. The PS3 came out at the same time, and it came out in Blu-ray, which was even higher definition, and made the costs of making games so prohibitive that it took years before the PS3 had a solid roster of games.

But now the game companies themselves insist that the next generations of consoles must come out, so they can use the latest and greatest technologies. Their logic is that they’re losing money because their games are not as shiny as they could be.

Really, everybody? First, I quite literally don’t know what I’m missing. So I can’t see how I can be biased against your games because there’s something better out there – because, as the companies themselves have noted, there isn’t anything better than the current generation. Is there really a problem with getting the most out of the technology we have?

Let’s take a look. To the right, this is the original Xbox game Halo: Combat Evolved. Dinky by today’s standards, but I remember when I saw it and said, “Awesome.” It’s still a nice looking game.

Fast forward ten years. There was a rerelease of the original game with Xbox 360 technology, and it was called, to no one’s great surprise, Halo: Combat Evolved. Anniversary.  

You can see the difference. The position of the body isn’t as stiff, the graphics are more detailed, the colors are richer. It is visibly better.

And now, finally, we look at Halo 4, using the exact same Xbox 360 graphics. It already looks like they’ve gone through another generation already.




Here’s a side by side or two, just to make it even clearer.










I’m hard pressed to imagine how anyone could think that we’ve hit the limit of the current generation of gaming technology, since Halo 3 and Halo 4 are the same generation. Will the next round look even better? Of course. My question is – is there a rush?

Second, could there be another reason why companies are losing money? Let’s think about this a moment. Their video games are $60, or $70, brand new. They’re not cutting costs on the games, and with gaming seasons that have over a dozen new, top-shelf games coming out at the same time, do they seriously expect people to drop over $700 on their products? Does anyone have $700 just lying around anymore?

I think I would rather pay $14, or even $30, on a used game – games that the distributors like Gamestop make money on, but the original publishers don’t. There have been so many games played that way, there has been talk of making video games non-sellable my giving out a one-time code that make the game unusable to anyone else.  If you want to trash the video game industry, make it impossible to play used games.)

So, what is the problem with the current generation of consoles? Well, let's see -- coding has filtered down to street level. Anyone who knows what they're doing with a computer can probably start putting together their own game -- and anyone with a Kickstarter account can finance it. Low-rent competition is good for the soul.

Maybe I'm just a backwards Catholic, who acknowledges that progress is cumulative. You can't get to point Z while simultaneously jettisoning point A-Y -- Catholics throw out nothing. Don't believe me? Look at the Vatican archives sometime. But most atheists, so-called "progressives" (of all sides of the spectrum), and now the video games, try throwing out everything from the past, and hope really hard that no one else will remember it either -- be it how many atheist regimes disintegrate, or how truly dark the "Dark Ages" could have gotten without the Catholic church.

I prefer to get the most out of what's there than try to move on and pretend that last console (or, on the larger scale, the last few hundred years) didn't happen.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Hobbit and the Piano Guys

This is a music blog sort of day. You may recall that these are the same people who brought you "Cello Wars" and my music blog featuring "Bring him Home" from Les Miserables.  If you don't recall them, you'll still like this -- they're doing the entire soundtrack of the Ring cycle (Tolkein, not Wagner) with two guys.

Enjoy all.









 

Monday, November 26, 2012

interview

It' been a lazy, annoying, tiring weekend. I want a vacation from my long weekened.

However, I do have something for you.

I have another interview.  Who knew that anyone else wanted to talk with me?

Enjoy.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Darth Donald and Padawan Mickey -- Disney eats Star Wars

It's a bit late to comment on Disney buying Star Wars from George Lucas, but there have been so many rumors and lies around the project, it's hard to know where to begin.

Item 1: Disney owns Star Wars, Lucas will be the creative consultant on Episodes 7, 8, and 9.  The Schwartz will be with Disney (Mel Brooks joke, ignore me).  Episode 7 is slated for 2015, putting it up against the next Avengers film, supposedly, a Justice League Film, so that'll be fun.

On the one hand, Disney seems to know what they're doing when it comes to franchises -- they acquired Marvel without destroying the Avengers Storyline -- no matter what the NYTimes whined about the Avengers film -- and have yet to ruin the marvel movies. So, we'll see.

Item 2: The writer for Toy Story 3 will be penning the script, and we don't seem to have a lock on the director yet.

This actually annoys me a bit.  Star Wars has enough writers with the books to write a whole television series -- were Michael J. Stackpole and Timothy Zahn too busy?  In fact, forget stackpole, I'll take Zahn.  No, I don't need to have The Heir to the Empire series Zahn wrote twenty years ago as episodes 7-9; for one thing, everyone is too bloody old. Unless, of course, you're going to recast everybody, in which case, we can have a party ...

Nathan Fillion as Han Solo anyone? Morena Baccarain as Princess Leia? Sean Maher as Luke Skywalker? Adam Baldwin as Darth Vader?

Oh, did I not mention that?

Item 3: THEY'RE BRINGING BACK DARTH VADER......

Ahem....

I'm really, deeply, seriously hoping this is a joke. A bad joke. Told by Fozzy of the Muppets.  Where's the "Wokka Wokka"?

Item 2 (Reprise) -- if you want to talk about writers, were Zahn or Stackpole asked? Were the writers of the Bioware videogames (who have made the best Star Wars stories outside of Zahn for the last 15 years) even considered? Or did they have the writer in mind when they started negotiations to buy the series?

Conclusion: I'm wary, but hopeful. Lucas is being shoved out of his own company. Creative consultants are what happened to Joe Quesada when he was replaced.

Disney may not screw up Star Wars even more than it already is. Here's hoping.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Music Blog Lindsay Stirling's Moontrance

For this one, you have to listen for the music.  Otherwise, it just looks like a really strange rendition of Thriller ..... only with better music.  Also, I think the only reason this vid was done with zombies had more to do with Halloween than anything to do with the music itself.

Enjoy all.

Again, ignore the zombies.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Sex, politics and comic books. Oy!

So, twas the week after the election, and all through the nation, you had 19-petitions to secede, from places as diverse as Texas to New York, a wave of people want to get the heck away from Barack Obama.

What does that have to do with this blog? Nothing. Nothing at all.  Except for the fact that the top ten blog posts of all time  for A Pius Man has to do with either sex, politics, or comic books.  So, somehow, I have to link up Obama's appearance in Spider Man with the latest sex scandal, and I will have the ultimate blog post -- especially if I have a musical interlude by Two Steps From Hell.

If one is to believe social media, there is no allowing for a middle of the road approach. I have right-wing friends who are somewhat sane-ish (no one I know is completely sane), but some of the left-wingers were so loud for so long with some pretty heavy-duty insults, I had to defriend some of them, and block at least one altogether from Facebook.  There was a "worship Obama and watch only MSNBC" or "you're an evil, right-wing homophobic 1%-er with no human decency, and that goes double if you're Catholic."  And if you're Catholic, you're old-fashioned and stupid.

And after Obama won, it got worse.

And, of course, whenever someone was called out on it -- such as "I hold the belief you're pissed off about, you think I'm evil?" -- the reply of everyone is a standard, "Oh, I don't mean you!"  But after a while, when they make no distinctions between "you" the "friend" and all of those people who are evil for even holding an opinion contrary to their own .... yes, they do mean you. I mean, hell, when they say that you're a threat to humanity, you hate people (women, puppies and Christmas), and you start to get the impression that if a church filled with Catholics were blown up, they would celebrate, and maybe shed a tear or two when they found out you were in it.

After Kathey Giffords was shot by deeply psychotic Jared Loughner, we were all told that rhetoric kills, and we all have to be civil.  Where did that go?

If you're now wondering about my politics, I covered them here, so you can save your disparaging remarks.  Frankly, I'm on the side of civility, and right now, the loud, utterly psychotic ranting is coming from the left side, and I see no one on the left throwing a net over their more insane members. Read through the article on my politics and when I'm no longer being labeled as evil for even having opinions on these topics, then we can talk.

Now, if the current atmosphere keeps up, I'm sure I can get more blog viewers by tacking hard to one political end or the other. I'd rather not, because I like holding onto what sanity I have with both hands, and maybe my teeth.

I'm also sure I can get more readers by introducing sex as a topic more often... but, again, I'd rather not.

And I stopped reading comic books a while ago.

If I do not hear back from Chesterton Press by the end of the year, I will give self-publishing a try on A Pius Man.  It'll take me a while though. So, we'll see what goes on here. And, with any luck, it'll work.   But I'd much rather not. Really, I'd rather not.

I'm out. And I'll talk to you all later. Hopefully, I'll have a topic next time, as opposed to these vague meandering posts that barely have a point.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Getting back to work

So, this blog is called A Pius Man: A Holy Thriller.  But there's a graphic for a novel called It Was Only On Stun! by a Declan Finn when the blog is by a John K. For those of you keeping track, you know that I gave up on traditional publishing and went my own route, experimenting with a lesser novel that was a murder mystery at a science fiction convention.

So, what's happening with A Pius Man?

First, A Pius Man should be coming out next.  It will either come out in January, or else we'll be working on getting it out next year.

Who's we?  Well, that's a funny story.

When I published It Was Only On Stun!, I interviewed as many places as possible. I wrote as many guest blogs as I was allowed.  I spun my wheels until the tires popped.  I've sold about 60 copies, more or less.

However, it was not all for naught. You see, what's happened is that my guest blog on Catholic humor caught someone's attention.  It was around the same time I kept tagging John Ringo on Facebook and didn't realize I was posting on his wall at the same time.  However, a friend/fan of Ringo saw the words "Catholic humor" and decided to swing by. He's a freelance editor with Chesterton Press.

If you check, you'll realize that Chesterton Press is a Catholic press.  They like Catholic books.  And A Pius Man can qualify, for the most part.  ously, how many Catholic presses are going to read a book where there are RPGs flying all over the place and priests who look like they could be assassins?

One will be more than enough for me.

So, while I'm waiting on that for happen, I'm considering my options. I've recently gotten a full time job -- well, it's not full time as I'm writing this, but may be as the blog is published.  I'm working as a writer at NYU-Polytech in Brooklyn.  It's a bit of a hike, but the hard part is getting to the trains  After that, I get an hour to read ... usually, if I can even lift my arm in a train crowded in by sardines in a city that just suffered from a major hurricane. 

So, don't worry, I haven't completely lost my mind, blog posts to the contrary.  I just had to rid myself of some toxic people in my life as a bit of a cleanser. Think of it as green tea for the soul. 

I'm just glad the elections are over. Those things were annoying as hell.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Who would Captain America Vote For? Villain's edition (Who would Norman Osborn vote for?)

Last week, I posted an article that suggested who various and sundry superheroes would vote for.

This week, I think it's time the villains got a shot at it.

Norman Osborn aka: the Green Goblin (Marvel).

One of the most evil bastards in the Marvel universe, Norman Osborn, by day, is a seriously big big business Wall Street CEO.  He is a vicious psychopath and merciless killer.  Norman Osborn mostly resides in New York City, which makes him a definite shoe-in for a Democratic voter, no matter who the candidate is.

Also, keep in mind that a lot of Wall Street tycoons are supporters to the Democratic party -- John Corzine, Robert Rubin (Goldman Sachs), Citibank, and George Soros (Democrat and Obama's biggest supporter), Brookfield Asset Management, Lehman Brothers (who now work for the Obama Administration).

And can you imagine what Osborn would do with a stimulus package?

VOTE GOES TO: Obama.

Wilson Fisk aka The Kingpin (Marvel)

By day, he is a businessman, though not as big as Norman Osborn in the business world.  He is more local in his business interests and his crime. And, in his personal life, he left the crime world and moved to Japan, mostly for his family.  He actually stayed out of the crime business for his wife.  Only when his family was threatened, and his wife lost to him that he reentered the world of crime. Add to that he spent a lot of time in Japan learning philosophy, martial arts, etc.

While you can say many things about the Japanese, their traditional culture is very, very conservative.  And, between that and his [relatively] small business interests, Fisk probably comes out as both an economic and social conservative.

VOTE GOES TO: Romney.


Poison Ivy, aka Dr Pamela Isley (DC).

A radical environmentalist, heavy on the mental, Poison Ivy is the ultimate eco-terrorist.  She also happens to be bat-guano insane, taking monomania to a whole new level of crazy.  A one issue voter, she cares nothing for the "War on Women," since she has already declared the human race something worthy of extinction, and only cares about environmental issues.

Since she makes current Left-wing ecofreaks seem reasonable, she'd probably find the most hard-line environmentalist she can.  Barring that, she might actually approve of standard contraception and abortion, since it means fewer people to trample her precious flowers.

VOTE GOES TO: Obama



Harley Quinn, aka Harleen Quinzel.

A former shrink, Harley Quinn went quite mad a while ago, falling for the Joker.  She has a long history of tolerating abuse and putting up with whatever his narcissism and whimsy dictates.

However, she also had had enough at one point, and shot the little bugger.

Her mind would hear the phrase "War on Women" and think "War? What War? Who's shooting?"  Her sources of information would rely on either her precious "Mista Jay" or her best friend, Poison Ivy.  And, let's face it, Joker would enter a polling place to gas everyone to death, and then vote for Ron Paul.

VOTE GOES TO: Whoever Joker tells her to vote for (see above), or whoever Ivy tells her (see above).


Catwoman, aka Selina Kyle.

A professional thief, Selina would not be the type of person to complain about the 1%. She loves the 1%. After all, without them, who else would she rob?

She is also a single mother (or she was, pre-nDCU), so she's not exactly the pro-abortion type, assuming she even dwells on the matter. And, let's face it, she, she has a tendency to jump the bones of the richest person in town. But, would this make her a Romney voter? Not necessarily.

However, Selina has also occasionally worked as a thief for the federal government; if she voted, she would vote her paycheck, and go for the guy most likely to fund the Company she works for.

Also, Romney might remind her of another rich white conservative she occasionally sleeps with.

VOTE GOES TO: Romney.

[More below the break]

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Monday, October 29, 2012

Who would Captain America vote for? An election special

With Halloween only days away, and my city being screwed up by a hurricane (cue Scorpions song here), I decided to take a more original approach to looking at the upcoming elections.

A while ago, someone decided to take a look at the politics of Captain America, something I thoroughly made fun of him for, though the original author at Salon.com found my article, and declared he was completely tongue in cheek. Honest he was.

In the spirit of going completely and utterly over the top, I figure I would take it one step further.  However, I'm going to tell you right now that this is a joke from minute one to minute last.

Batman, aka Bruce Wayne 
Click to read.

Bruce Wayne has approximately more money than God, deals in advanced technological research, and while he has been known to contribute to the occasional ecological issues, he's also been known to draw the line at basic, reasonable limits (he won't, say, be in favor of sacrificing lives to save an endangered squirrel or something similarly ridiculous).

Also, can you imagine Batman dealing with an Occupy Gotham movement?

There would be pain, there would be fear, and then, they would run screaming for their mommies.

VOTE GOES TO: I think we've got a Romney voter here

Oliver Queen, aka Green Arrow (DC Universe). 

Why, yes.
I do think I'm Robin Hood
For those of you who don't know Green Arrow from the comic books (not the tv show Arrow).... personally, he's sort of like the anti-Batman. Or, as Novel Ninja Matthew Bowman put it, the comic book Green Arrow was like Batman if he had been bitten by a radioactive Robin Hood.

While also from a rich, industrial family, Oliver Queen is Left-Wing. I don't mean Democrat, I mean Left-wing, pseudo-socialist.  Half his conversations with the Justice League involve him screaming "You're all a bunch of fascists!"  I'm not even certain he knows how serious he is about such things.

In any event, it's kinda clear that he'll vote for the most Left-wing politician there is. The only politician like that who will reliably show up on the national stage, including Queen's fictional Starling City, would probably be Barack Obama.

However, since Ollie had been Mayor of Starling City once, he'd probably put himself on the ballot, and promptly vote for himself.

VOTE GOES TO: Either Obama, himself, or the farthest Left-wing candidate available.

Captain America (Steve Rodgers)

Because I'm Captain America, damnit.
Pro-Army, pro-gun, pro-Apple pie, Captain America has spent his entire existence dealing with foreign policy issues.  On social issues, Steve would be very 1940s -- abortion was a dangerous, illegal procedure, and any pills like birth control or contraceptives were also illegal, so that entire issue is a nonstarter.

Economically, his attitude would probably be very much on the order of, "People get their own jobs, right? Well, a little hard work, everything will be fine." Between those two, I think we've got a one-issue voter.   Given the rate of speed the Benghazi disaster is shaping up, I can't imagine him voting for anyone other than Mitt Romney.

VOTE GOES TO: Romney

Iron Man (Tony Stark)

This is a tough one. Despite the movies, billionaire industrialist Tony Stark mostly resides in New York City, which makes him a definite shoe-in for a Democratic voter, no matter who the candidate is.

Also, keep in mind that a lot of Wall Street tycoons are supporters to the Democratic party -- John Corzine, Robert Rubin (Goldman Sachs), Citibank, and George Soros (Democrat and Obama's biggest supporter), Brookfield Asset Management, Lehman Brothers (who now work for the Obama Administration).

On the other hand, Tony Stark is a pro-weapon kind of fellow -- let's face it, he's gone a few steps beyond the second amendment, and his father made the nuclear bomb -- and let's look at most of Tony Stark's villains. He fights Soviet Russians, Communist-Chinese, as well as other competitors. In the comic books, Stark was pretty much supposed to be pro-American, right-wing, supports America's wars sort of fellow.

And he made a killing on all those predator drones....

VOTE GOES TO: Either Stark is a Romney voter, or he'll be spending election day at home, drunk.

Superman, aka Clark Kent

Clark Kent is a big city reporter, and over 80% of journalists are Democrat supporters, so it should go Obama.  Kent has also recently given up a job with the Daily Planet because it was bought but someone who kinda resembles Rupert Murdoch -- evil big business, after all.  So, that would be left-leaning.

On the other hand, Clark Kent was raised in Kansas by a rural farming family. So there's a possibility for Romney.

However, as Superman, he once rescinded his American citizenship for five minutes.

VOTE GOES TO: Romney and Obama, depending on who's writing Superman at the time.


Bruce Banner, aka The Incredible Hulk 

Dr. Bruce Banner, fugitive from practically everybody on the planet, he likes the back end of nowhere, and staying as far from military and local authorities as humanly possible.

Enter Obama, who seems to want to cut the military budget and the US involvement in foreign affairs.  And he has anger management issues.

VOTE GOES TO: Obama.

Nick Fury

Another World War II vet, Nick Fury is a spymaster, will defend the planet against enemies foreign and domestic, which will make him both socially conservative and pro-military.

Then again, he'll want someone he can manipulate.  Or would he want someone who agrees with him already?

VOTE GOES TO: Whoever Fury has rigged the election for, so .... Romney? Maybe?

Daredevil, aka Matthew Murdock

A New York trial lawyer, Daredevil is a natural Obama voter. The ABA backs democrats automatically. Mathew Murdock is also all about community. I could see him as a supporter of Occupy Wall Street, if his super sense of smell didn't cripple him every time he found a client who never showered.

On the other hand, Matt Murdock has always been Catholic.  He's very Catholic .....

Then again, he's a bit of a man-whore in the Marvel Universe. He'd be interested in contraceptives, if only to keep potential child support payments to a minimum.

VOTE GOES TO: Obama

[MORE BELOW THE BREAK]

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Have some Iron (Man 3) in your diet

The debate annoyed me last night, no politics today.

A friend of mine labeled me a clear and present danger to the universe just for holding some beliefs I don't even enforce on anyone. But my thoughts themselves are evil, apparently. I'll talk to him after election, and hope everyone calms down.

So, have you seen the new trailer for Iron Man three?

Enjoy


Monday, October 22, 2012

Catholics, politics, and the world.

Yes, I'm going to do politics again, but probably from an angle you wouldn't expect.  You might even enjoy it, because it's a trip into the twilight zone.

I know the American populace has been credited with the memory retention of your average house fly, but still, you'd think there have to be limits.  For example, does anyone remember when Mitt Romney was considered way too liberal to be nominated for the Republican presidential nominee?  Now, he's being cast as an evil, right-wing psychopath that makes George W. Bush look reasonable. What alternate reality have I fallen into?

Now, granted, Romney is different from the moderate we got last time, Senator John "Mumra" McCain, who was perfectly moderate, and perfectly boring.  Romney's only real conservatism seems to lie in his being fiscally conservative, and that's on a good day, but that's still more than John McCain had .... and Romney also looks like he has a pulse, though that is a more recent development.

Now, keep in mind, I'm a New Yorker.  If I'm not in the most Left-wing city in the United States, it's in the running for the position. So, I get daily reports and updates about why people are voting for who they're voting for, even though I really would rather smother them so I can be left alone.

However, since no one will leave me alone, here are some thoughts.

#1)  Romney is not going to be touching abortion, contraception, birth control, in any significant way. Sorry, but it's the truth. No one is going to, no one can, and therefore it is an irrelevant issue. At this point in time, you'd need an act of law to alter the way any of that is currently functioning, and I can't see any congress voting that way, do you? Even if Republicans took over the entire house and senate, please realize that there are such things as pro-choice Republicans, even if there is no such thing as a pro-life democrat.

#2) You have the right to tell no one to shut up. Everyone has a right to their opinions.  You may not share that opinion, but may not like their opinion, but you have no right to issue death threats.  You can do what everyone else does, and walk away.  Insults are also a waste of your time.  A friend or mine has basically declared "every woman who votes for Romney is stupid!!!!" Now, since the candidates are tied for women voters, that is a really bad move, and will alienate all those who you could have won over. You lost them, kiss the votes goodbye.

#3) Considering that the key issues this year seem to be about the economy or foreign policy, making a play for social issues is a fairly obvious play at changing the subject. That was a problem I had with Rick "I believe in the Devil!" Santorum.  Most religions believe in devils, demons, what have you, but to make a public statement about your belief during a Presidential run is just so irrelevant, and boils down to "What does that have to do about anything?"  And, now, that seems to be a running theme -- ignore everything else that is taking precedence, or taking place, and focus on something shiny over somewhere else.

Can you tell that I'm tired of living in spin?

Maybe we can have an honest debate where everyone tells the truth, no one interrupts each other, and the audience can shot the moderator if they become too annoying.

And maybe pigs will fly.
 

Monday, October 15, 2012

A little politics, a little chat

My world has gotten a little interesting lately.  I might have another book published, I might get a full time job, I might have .... well, a lot of little things going on.

Normally, I hate discussing politics on the blog, but, since I had my Examiner.com articles yanked out from under me, I figured one post will not go amiss.  especially since my novel, A Pius Man, involves a lot of things that have intersected with the real world as of late -- politics, world affairs, government and religion clashing, that sort of thing.

LOCAL POLITICS
For example, did you see that VP debate? You had two "Catholics" going up against each other.  The quotation marks are mostly for Joe Biden, whose rictus grin and high pitch giggle made the last three incarnations of the Joker seem perfectly reasonable and sane.  One of the issues that came up intersecting politics and faith involved the HHS Mandate.**

Let us ignore that Biden was on "smiling, scoffing jackass" mode that evening.  His general performance is so variable, it's almost like he's schizophrenic.  The one part that makes it relevant to this discussion is where he talks about how he was on the side of the Catholic church "on all social issues," he's such a great Catholic, that over three dozen Catholic institutions have filed suits against the Obama administration, and that's what I noticed several months ago.  Two were dismissed, and about 40 are still active, last time I checked. There seems to be very little middle ground on this-- either the administration is being malevolent, or there is the party of "screw the Catholics, Paul Ryan evil," etc.

But that ignores that Orthodox Rabbis and Southern Baptists have joined with the Church against the government over this thing. Even Chris "tingle up my leg" Matthews compared President Obama to some of the biggest anti-Catholic tyrants in history when the HHS mandate was first announced -- Henry II (who had St. Thomas Beckett killed), Henry VIII (who had St. Thomas More and a few hundred others killed), are just two of them.

Biden's reaction was just to dismiss the entire issue.  And dismiss Ryan. And dismiss pretty much everything Ryan had to say.  Supposedly, Ryan won on points in the debate, but I wonder how Ryan could have won any points since he was interrupted over a hundred times -- 82 times by Biden himself. I have issues with someone who can't even let his opponent finish a thought.

In A Pius Man, I have issues with stuff like that. When governments start dictating to religions, this is a problem.  Consider that this is not the first time that the Obama administration had tried to take over a religion; the Hosanna-Tabor Lutheran church recently had to go up against the EOCC because the EOCC tried to tell Hosanna-Tabor who to hire as a minister. This is actually a tactic the People's Republic of China  has used against the Catholic church.  At least with the PRC, it's dictatorship by committee, like the Soviet Union, in the United States, who exactly does the EOCC answer to?  Oh, that's right, President Obama.

THE MIDDLE EAST
Everyone has probably noticed that there have been some issues in Libya lately. Now, I don't know what's been going on in the State Department lately, what the hell is going on with the security arrangements on the ambassador there, or why there wasn't a marine detachment guarding him, even though ambassadors to Barbados and France have a full, armed marine guard.   The answers given don't make sense, and the stories that have been given are so confused and uncoordinated, it's sort of worrisome.

Now, I fully expect my government to lie to me. It's expected.  Classified information almost requires lies told to the population. I expect my government to lie to me when things are (seriously) in everyone's best interest.  However, the narrative of the Benghazi attack on September 11 has turned into a deranged game of cover your ass, and it looks like the Oval Office versus the State Department are wrestling for the chance to throw each other under the bus.

And, honestly, I can't figure out why any of this is happening in this fashion.  If one part of the administration is going to make an out-and-out lie to the general public, then it should at least coordinate with everyone else so that they all have their stories straight.

When Biden came up with a story that blamed Paul Ryan for cutting $300,000 from the budget, we knew that this had the air of the Mad Hatter's tea party.  In a budget that's measured in the billions every year, a story that goes "we were going to either guard the ambassadors of Barbados and France, or the ambassador to Libya," holds about as much water as your average sieve.

One Democratic acquaintance of mine suggested that President Obama had taken an ambien before the first Presidential debate. Given the response of the entire administration this past month, that seems to summarize everything that's been going on.

Unfortunately, as a writer, I look at everything that's been going on, and all I can think is "damnit, stop stealing my novel" ... long story.  I hope to say "read the book" at some point in the near future, but until then, let's just say that life is starting to imitate art, and I generally don't consider my writing art.

Sadly, if it continues to imitate my book any more, there will be machinegun fire involved.  And explosions.  And a lot of bodies on the deck.





**If you followed my Examiner.com posts when they were still up, you would know that part of Obamacare has a mandate from the department of Health and Human Services that all employers must pay for certain "medical services" -- which means that any religious organization that hires or serves anyone not of that faith must automatically pay for abortions, sterilizations, contraceptives, and other things that multiple religions are morally opposed to.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Music blog: Game to Play the Game (of Thrones)

There have been some technical difficulties with the blog lately.  And some other odd stuff in my life.

To start with, I have a job. A real job, with office hours and everything. NYU-Polytech needs someone for their communications department, and I've been freelancing as an editor, content provider, pick a position, I've filled it once already.  I think the term is "utility player."

Oh, and I've been fired from Examiner.com.  Apparently, if you tell the truth about the company in a public space, they take offense. Who knew?  So, if you go looking for my Catholic or self defense articles, they've all been removed. They went after me with prejudice ... okay, and I mouthed off at someone leaving me a comment. Between explaining the pay scale (ie: pay peanuts, you get monkeys) and telling some whining little schlub that he should perform an anatomically impossible act, I was basically fired for "behavior unbecoming an Examiner." Which just proves that they don't pay attention to anything anyone reads unless it's complaining about the company.

Meh.  I lost a $25 a month job, and replaced it with a $25 an hour one.  I think I'll live.

And so, while you (and my life) are put on hold this week, enjoy some music. This is Peter Hollens and Lindsey Stirling performing the main theme to the tv show Game of Thrones.


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Review: I Left My Brains In San Francisco

Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator, is back in Neeta Lyffe 2:  I Left My Brains In San Francisco.  After hosting the show Zombie Death Extreme (which has spun off more copies of the franchise than anyone in the book can count), Neeta is back to her job Re-killing the undead.  However, for this book, she's off to a Zombie conference in San Francisco. There will be scientists, government researchers, fellow re-killing experts, as well as enough vendors to outfit a small armory.

Also tagging along is her business partner and sort-of/maybe boyfriend Ted, who had been a cameraman on Zombie Death Extreme, and has joined her as an exterminator with a penchant for setting things on fire. Usually zombies.

But there's something out in the dark waters of the bay that is restless, cold, and dark, and hungry.  And Neeta is about to have a busman's holiday from hell....

No, that's not the summary from the back of the book, that's the short version of my own summary.

Now, let's start with all of the good things about this book.

The details put into this world is impressive, and even reminds of me of early Laurell K. Hamilton (when the books were dedicated to building up her character's world, not her list of sex partners).  The global politics are well put together, the various legal systems regarding zombies, etc (and, sadly, I can see some idiot passing a "no eco-profiling" act). I liked the shots she took at the Occupy movement, and creating degrees in professional protesting (since anyone who read my self defense columns knows my opinion there), and, once the book gets started, they have a solid, amusing running gag involving a group of eco-terrorists.

There is also a ton of details and thought put into the development of anti-zombie weapons systems, from monofilament swords (model such as "the Buffy," or "The Highlander", and, of course, the "Inigo Montoya"), to specialized squirtguns, and flamethrowers.  There is a talking GPS named Majel (Star Trek joke), and a whole bunch of little moments that make this book quite enjoyable. And, of course, having recently been to DragonCon, I could easily believe some of the panels at this particular convention.

And, frankly, Madam Fabian may have already spoiled the best scene in the book for you the other day in her own guest post. [more below the break]

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Interview with Karina Fabian, author of "I Left My Brains In San Francisco"


So, round two. Yesterday was the guest blog for Karina Fabian as part of her virtual book tour for I Left My Brains In San Francisco.

The premise?

 Zombie problem? Call Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator--but not this weekend.
On vacation at an exterminator’s convention, she's looking to relax, have fun, and enjoy a little romance. Too bad the zombies have a different idea. When they rise from their watery graves to take over the City by the Bay, it looks like it'll be a working vacation after all.
Enjoy the thrill of re-kill with Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator.

Q: The first NL was a great satire of reality shows, with just the occasional shot at politicians. What made you go to a Zombie Exterminator Convention in San Francisco? Why San Francisco?

I’d just gone to World Fantasy Con in San Francisco, and my brother-in-law worked at a refinery in Richmond, and thought it’d make an awesome location for a zombie attack. (He’s been promoted and lives in LA now; no connection to the book). Plus, my publisher lives in San Jose, and she loves San Francisco, so it was an easy choice.

Q So it wasn’t just an easy way to slip in more political shots along the way? If that's the case, was DC taken?
California is an easy target, but it was the thought of zombies at the famous tourist sites that I enjoyed, although I didn’t get in as many as I’d expected. The story demanded other locations. Still, there are some great vignettes at famous spots. Maybe someday, I’ll write some short stories of the other sightings that didn’t get in the book.

Q: In the first NL, the EPA was going after detergents that Neeta thought was most effective about fighting zombies. Did you throw that in to imply the EPA would go after it *because* it could fight zombies, or was it just for fun?


They didn’t go after it because it would fight zombies, but because they’re hard on the environment. That was kind of the point—never mind that they’re our best defense against zombies; in large quantities they might affect the Spotted Peeing Mouse or somesuch. Of course, the whole idea of bleach being an effective zombie repellant is pretty ridiculous, so the real point is fun.

Q: The Neeta books seem to be your most political. They take swipes at the EPA, trial lawyers, eco-terrorists, the Occupy movement, and I'm sure a few other political targets that I'm missing.
I should have a contest to see how many things I poke fun at in these books.

Q Why Zombies? Were vampires taken?
Zombies were not my idea, actually. Kim Richards founded Damnation Books and asked folks to write stories for an anthology called *The Zombie Cookbook* to kick off the publishing company. So I wrote a funny one called “Wokking Dead,” which was more food puns and silliness than anything, but people loved Neeta and she asked me to write some novels.

Q: In the last book, the main adversary of the book seemed to be general stupidity -- be it of reality show producers, or everyone who seems to think they know better. In this, it seems to be eco-terrorists of the group called TREE. What made you decide to focus on them as a primary bad guy?


I needed a reason for zombies to attack a fuel refinery, and by the logic I’d already set up in Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator, it couldn’t be random coincidence. They had to have a reason to make the effort to go there, and to do damage once there. Eco-terrorism just made sense.

Q: This blog's latest release has been about a murder mystery at a science fiction convention -- essentially, humor via culture shock. What's your approach to it?
To humor? Twist cliché’s, take a trend to ridiculous extremes, puns, and generally amusing myself as I strive to amuse others.

Q: Did you have to work VERY hard on all of the in-jokes? The GPS voice named Majel? The monofilament sword called "The Buffy"? That sort of thing.
Oh, no! That’s the easy part. Those come to me as I write, but I (and my family) crack those kind of jokes all the time, so I have lots of practice. Ditto with puns. We used to reward our kids for coming up with puns. Rob and I actually fell in love during a pun war while eating pizza and watching Looney Tunes cartoons at a Shakey’s in San Angelo, TX. Humor is important in our house.

Q: What's next for Neeta? A. Zombie for Presidential candidate?
Zombies are not considered persons—there was a lot of debate and work on that, and even in the 2040s, there are still some who try to get them registered to vote. (And some that rise from the dead in hopes of completing their civic duty—amazing, I know!)

The next thing for Neeta and Ted is a ski vacation in Utah. Unfortunately, when a ski team killed in an avalanche returns from the dead to finish the competition, it turns into a working vacation. “Shambling in a Winter Wonderland” will be a story written in serial to raise money for Operation Homestead. Folks will find it in mid-November at http://skizombies.karinafabian.com

Q So, what's next for you?

Right now, the serial story. When that is finished, I’ll probably finish Gapman, a super-hero spoof in my DragonEye, PI universe. I’m also toying with publishing some of my novellas via Kindle.

Q: What've you been reading lately? In fiction, or non-fiction, or politics?

I just finished *Monster Hunters: Legion* by Larry Correia, which was an awesome book—definitely “popcorn” reading, but fun! I also have been reading a lot on the space industry, so Space News, Nations Space Society, etc. I’m blogging about it at http://fabianspace101.blogspot.com , Rocket Science for the Rest of Us. I get enough “politics” via Facebook. I’ll be glad for November!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Guest post: Karina Fabian on Zombies


So, when Karina Fabian offered to write a guest post for the blog, I figured I'd take her up on it. After all, I was slowing down after all of the DragonCon posts.

The topic I gave her? I wanted to know why the heck anyone wanted to be bothered with zombies.

She sent me the following.

Keep in mind, I think the following includes the best scene in her latest novel, Neeta Lyffe 2: I Left My Brains In San Francisco.


Why Zombies? Using the absurd in fiction to show the absurd in life.

Survival Hardware hadn’t seen such a rush of customers since the last Armageddon prediction coincided with Black Friday.
Manager Clint Sanders rubbed his hands with glee. Oh, Marley, if only you hadn’t gotten drunk and decided to go zombie hunting. Was it only last Christmas?
He hurried to Customer Service, crafting an announcement in his mind. “You want to live! We want to live! That’s why you are going to file calmly to the back if you need a suit.”
Yeah. Sense of urgency, plus that “We’re in this together” crap.
He got to the counter and nodded at Bitsy, who had rung up a chainsaw and a half-crate of bleach.
God bless survivors. Clint continued to the back. Out of habit, he checked the exit door, even though it was always locked from the outside. He needed to delete Marley's old code from it.
He cleared his throat. “Listen up! You want to live! We want to live!”
The exit door clicked.
“That’s impossible!” he declared. The store fell silent.
“Boss?” Bitsy’s voice ended in a squeak.
“That’s not what I meant! Security team to customer service!”
He reached under the counter for a shotgun. Bitsy grabbed the chainsaw. They had filled them that morning—another example of the excellent service at Survival Hardware.
The door swung open, and the zombiefied remains of his late business partner, Marley, staggered through.
Clint to blasted him with the shotgun. The impact knocked the Marley out the door.
Clint used the gunsight to scan the parking lot. “He brought friends! Call Nine-One-One. I’m putting this place on shutdown.”
“Screw that! I’ve been prepping all my life for this!” With a howl of challenge, Bitsy dashed out the door. She swung low and decapitated her former boss before moving on.
Thundering footsteps signaled the customers following in her wake.
He gaped at the carnage while Dirk called 9-1-1. It’d be too late by the time they got there. All that’d be left was to clean up the zombie parts and get the customers back in to pay.
God bless survivors.
---From I Left My Brains in San Francisco, by Karina Fabian

In the 2040s, zombies have become a reality. They rise from the grave, intent on eating brains or sometimes completing something that they didn't finish in life--even if it's a beer and a TV show. And, true to so many phenomenon in life, we are caught unprepared and unaware. That's how I started the world premise, and I let the story take me from there: People want to understand them, defend them, study them, use them--but above all, they want those vermin out of their yard! Thus, the hero of the story--Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator.

It's an age-old science fiction writers' trick--use the future to discuss an issue of today. In my case, the zombies are just part of a world gone a little loopier than it is now. You’ll find a great example of government waste and bureaucratic infighting in the Broken Bridge, started as a cooperative effort and halted with 120 feet to finish—and one side 60 feet lower than the other—because neither side communicated with the other. Video blog sites have exclusives on banned videos of a gruesome carnage—but only for members. California has subsidized protesting; and everyone gets an Adult Starter Allowance until they’re 25, as long as they aren’t working, of course. The newest environmental theory is Global Fattening, and the hot new protestors, the undead!

All of this makes a delightful mishmash of insanity into which to drop one woman who just wants to protect people by rekilling the undead--and hopefully making a little money and having some kind of social life while she's at it.

I hope you’ll enjoy I Left My Brains in San Francisco. It’s all in good fun, but if any of it comes true, I’ll be back in 30 years to say “I told you so!”


Bio On The Author





If there’s such a thing as ADD of the imagination, Karina Fabian has it—in spades. Craft books, devotionals, serious science fiction, comedic horror and chilling fantasy—she follows her interests and the characters that tell her their stories. 

Even before she could write, Karina strung tall tales about everything from making human pyramids in Kindergarten to visiting alien worlds. Her first attempt at novel writing was in fourth grade; she completed her first novel in college. However, her first published work was an anthology of Christian science fiction, Leaps of Faith, an EPPIE finalist for best anthology in 2006. Her next anthology, Infinite Space, Infinite God, featured Catholic characters and themes and won the EPPIE for science fiction. The second Infinite Space, Infinite God anthology came out in 2010. 

Watching the comedy improv show, Whose Line Is It, Anyway, inspired her noir-style dragon detective, Vern. Vern and his partner, Sister Grace, have solved mysteries and saved the Faerie and Mundane worlds numerous numerous times in the DragonEye, PI stories and novels. Their serial story, World Gathering, won a Mensa Owl; and the novel, Magic, Mensa and Mayhem (Fabian’s first published novel), won the INDIE for best fantasy in 2010. The second DragonEye book, Live and Let Fly, came out in April 2012. 

At a friend’s request, Karina wrote a funny story about a zombie exterminator, which grew into the Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator novels. The first, Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator, won the 2011 Global E-Book award for best horror, and was runner-up in the eFestival of Words for best YA. 

She also writes serious science fiction. Her SF novels, Discovery and The Old Man and the Void, are currently under consideration, and she’s working on the next DragonEye novel, a superhero spoof, Gapman. 

Karina has a strong faith, which she explored in her devotional, Why God Matters: How to Recognize Him in Daily Life, which she wrote with her father Steve Lumbert, and which won the 2011 Christian Small Press Publisher Award. She also writes Catholic school calendars and has written three craft books for the Little Flowers/Blue Knights clubs. 

Fabian is married to Colonel Robert A. Fabian of the USAF, and they are currently enjoying a long distance relationship while he’s stationed in Iraq. They have four children, an overgrown pup, and a harried cat. When not writing, teaching writing, or chatting about writing, she’s hanging out with her kids or swinging a sword in haidong gumbdo. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

DragonCon Report #6: an hour with Peter David

Just when you thought that this thing would never get posted (and, at several points, I didn't think it would be), it goes up.

Peter David is at the end of every Star Trek track at the end of every year.  He's the last hour on the last day of the convention. The way he told the story one year, someone in charge of scheduling said "Peter David? He's the last person I'd want to see," and random minion wrote down "Peter ... David ... last .... person."

And so a tradition was born.

Anyway this is an hour video.  He starts by killing time with some DragonCon memories, discusses projects he has with Will Smith (a movie called After Earth), his problems with the publishing industry (which suddenly doesn't make me feel so bad), and more.


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Music blog: Elements, by Lindsey Stirling

Yeah, the DragonCon video extrazaganza will have to stop for the moment, due to technical difficulties.

But here's some music. Enjoy.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

DragonCon report #5: Photo Layout


My attempt to upload Peter David's full panel [mentioned yesterday] has been continuously flouted by YouTube, so you folks will have to be stuck with a few measly photos.


Granted, some of these photos are of some fairly spectacular stuff.  For example, we have this lovely woman on the right here, as Jessica Rabbit.  Unlike some people, who came in with obviously plastic measurements, this woman was your standard beautiful woman.  She carried it off well because she had simple sexy down pat.  Yes, if you’re wondering, I do think sexy is more than just a collection of physical attributes.

But, obviously, that might just be me.

That's one of the nice things about DragonCon -- people are there to be looked at.  You can take a photo of a stunning person, then sit down from each other on the same rug because both of you have feet that are in serious pain.

Let me see, there were a whole boatload of costumes at DragonCon.  CosPlay is very much a factor.  And, while I would have really liked to have taken photos of whole crowds, it was too dark to capture all of them, at least with my camera.

One particular group was called CosPlay deviants. I'm sure you can find them online somewhere -- they even have their own calender.  

I'm not entirely certain where the deviant parts come in, but what do I know?

As you can see, on the left we have yet another very lovely poison Ivy. You'll remember that a few days ago, I came across the same one twice -- there were actually so many kicking around at DragonCon, I couldn't keep track of them all.  And I had shot one on Friday, and one on Sunday ... even though it was the same exact woman.

But, well, I'm not exactly complaining.

One strange little phenomenon, though, were the ones doing full on impersonations.  Batman isn't that creepy unless he's sneaking up behind you and playing with zip lines in an atrium ballroom.

However, when you have a woman dressed like Harley Quinn (from the video game Arkham Asylum) and doing a pitch-perfect impersonation?  That is bloody terrifying.

She was actually go good, when she walked off stage at one of the many costume judging, she was actually called back by the crowd, and host Peter David (dressed on the left as the Green Hornet) so she could keep doing an impression of Harley.

Welcome to DragonCon.


Anyway....

Yes, there were women out there dressed in more, um, interesting costumes.

Exhibitionism at DragonCon?

 No, really?

Why do you ask?

Ahem....

I'm not complaining.  That's all I'm going to say about it.

There were other good costumes there that had no cleavage involved.  For example, we had one fellow in a very good Spawn outfit.

Yes, I know that he's a guy, therefore there can be no cleavage, but that has never stopped a Con-Goer before, why should it start now?

And if you have no idea what I"m talking about, you have obviously not been to many Conventions.

Moving right along....


This next costume will be of interest because it's of Carol Danvers, aka Miss Marvel, part of the Marvel comic universe, and possibly a participant in one of the upcoming Avengers movies, Guardians of the Galaxy -- which means we might be looking at one of our next Avengers.

No, no cleavage exposed here, either. But, again, I'm not complaining.
Besides, there's a reason I didn't post my photos of the "Power Girl" CosPlayer.

Anyway, I think that's enough for now, don't you?

Be well all. I hope to have Peter David live tomorrow.  Here's hoping.

Monday, September 17, 2012

DragonCon report #4: For A Lord Of Time, and Torchwood

This was a DragonCon Report that went a little sketchy.

How sketchy was it?

It was so sketchy that I'm going to have to resort, once again, to other people's DragonCon vids on youtube.

To start with, a little bit of strange, strange music.

If you don't know who Peter David is, he writes stuff.  A lot of stuff.  Ever read comic books with the Hulk? He wrote that. X-Factor and Young Justice? I think he owns them both.  Any good Star Trek novel, he wrote that, too.  He's written Halo novels, any movie novel adaptations not written by Max Allen Collins, Spider-man comics, Fable novels, and King Arthur (Mayor of NYC), an a wolf gets bitten by a werewolf and turns into a man for three nights a month, and .....

Anyway, Peter David, he writes stuff.

In this case, he also did a song parody for Dr. Who.  I can't even begin to describe it, so I'm going to show it to you.  However, be warned, I will be posting the rest of this panel later in the week. I would have posted it yesterday, but my internet wanted to take over six hours to post it to YouTube, and I had to get to work in the morning.

Enjoy



And this was a panel with John Barrowman discussing Torchwood.  If you like that sort of thing.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

DragonCon Report #3: Fightin' and Writing with Ringo; Buffy with Marsters and Landau

A Poison Ivy on line, with Zombie backup.
So, yesterday, believe it or not, didn't go exactly as planned. I would have sworn that I had filmed at least twenty minutes of the Furlan / Boxleitner panel. So much for that idea.

I had taken notes, but much of the notes I had taken had been posted online in various and sundry pieces and parts.

As I said, it wasn't exactly as I wanted it to go.

However, one of the things I did get to record involved John Ringo.  You might get the impression that John Ringo is my favorite author, given how much he's been mentioned lately (and considering my review of his latest novel). He might be, but considering that I read practically anything that's not nailed down, that would be hard for me to say.

I can tell you that it would be nice to be John Ringo when I grow up.  I'm already about as sane, but I would like to write as much, and as often ... then again, that would presume I'm also published, so....

Anyway, John Ringo appeared at one panel on the Saturday night of DragonCon, called Fightin' and Writin' ... yes, it was spelled exactly that way, try not to shoot me.  Things went a little strange with the audio, so I spliced the bad audio to the end --  the last part might be harder to hear, but it's a small part of the whole video. I thought the facts he went through are fun.

Writers really should be taking notes.




I shot her twice on two different days.
The Ivy's started to blur after a while.

Now, next, there was another panel that I was not at.

Again, it was a panel that I could not get in to.

Welcome to DragonCon.

Who was on this panel? The case of the Avengers? The leaders of a major TV show? Major film stars?

James Marsters and Juliet Landau.

If you're asking "Who?" the answer is Spike and Drusilla from the Buffy the Vampire Slayer universe.

Anyway, this will be the last video I post for this week. The last time that I did a DragonCon report, I was pounding out transcripts for a month.  I am so not doing that again.  So I'm going to take my time, and assemble a lot of my notes in an orderly fashion.

Don't be surprised if I have a whole blog dedicated to pictures at some point next week.

Now, on with the vid.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

DragonCon report #2: Babylon 5 and Firefly

Wonder Woman at DragonCon
[No, I will not be doing a 9-11 article this year. Everything I could say in the matter was covered last year.]

Believe it or not, I didn't get into a lot of panels at DragonCon because they were standing room only, and not even that. The Lord of the Rings panel was crowded out, Torchwood panels were crowded out, even guests Adam West and Burt Ward (Batman and Robin from the 60s) had so many fans that the place was crowded out.

However, as John Ringo has said, what happens at DragonCon, stays on YouTube.

So, who needs to go when stuff is being filmed?

Answer: Me. Much of what I did go into didn't even get put online.

So, one panel, which I didn't get into, is a Firefly panel.  For those of you who don't know Firefly, it is a sci-fi western of Joss Whedon's from about ten years or so ago.  This panel had Sean Maher, Jewel Staite, and an appearance from Adam Baldwin -- his first appearance in years, since he was busy working on a show called Chuck.





Below the break, Babylon 5 stars Mira Furlan and Bruce Boxleitner (aka: Tron), discuss their work on the show.

Monday, September 10, 2012

DragonCon Report 1: Marketing Wins, Epic Fails, MacGyver, and Rocket City Rednecks

A casual Con-goer at DragonCon, dressed
in a Witchblade costume
Yup, I'm back from DragonCon.  This has possibly been one of the craziest I've ever been exposed to.  One panel said that the registration was up 30% this year, and another one mentioned that "We stopped selling tickets around 50,000 this year.  That's what we told the fire marshal. Shh."

Yes, "50,000" people spread over five hotels.  Did I ever mention I have a mild phobia of large groups of people?

Let me see, a few things worked, a few didn't.  You remember I had at least two evil plans for DragonCon.

One was an epic fail. I was going to give copies of It Was Only On Stun! to John Ringo, Timothy Zahn, and Peter David, and hope they liked it enough to give me a blurb.

John Ringo said that, since he tends to write in the voice of books he read, he was rereading his own books.

Timothy Zahn stated, before a room full of people, that he hasn't read fiction in ten years.

By that point, I didn't even bother with Peter David.

However, on the other hand, I was going to hand out flyers for the five free days I was giving out my book to Kindle users.  I had 500 flyers.  The free promo period ended last Thursday. I had 1304 people read the book. So, I guess that's a bit of a win.

Anyway, moving right along, we're going to start the first DragonCon report with something a little lazy -- to start with, I'm going to post a video of Richard Dean Anderson, better known as MacGyver, or as an officer from Stargate, the tv show.



Now, I found him a little boring, and if you folks agree, well, I'm going to try to make it up to you with a video of Travis Taylor (author, physicist, runs a show called Rocket City Rednecks) and John Ringo (author, author, and font of a lot of various and sundry knowledge),  Sadly, it's only ten minutes.  I couldn't get into this panel, since it was standing room only, and I didn't feel like being fit in with a shoehorn.

I actually thought it was kinda awesome, but I'm a nerd.



Be back tomorrow with more vids, and photos, and maybe some written reports.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Book review: Masks, by RM Hendershot.

To begin with, all of the heroes were dead. Dead as a doornail. Ten years ago, they were all slaughtered as part of a supervillain’s killing spree after he learned that he was dying of cancer. After that, no superheroes call LA their home anymore.

Enter Rae Masterson , the “mask” known as Peregrine -- powerless, unless you count snark as a superpower. She has nine arrests under her belt, even though five of them have been of Captain Catastrophe, whose name is suitable in more ways than one. Our story opens with Rae witnessing the kidnapping made by one of the local supervillains, Cobalt.

In another part of the universe, Trevor Gray, a former sidekick, modeled somewhere along the lines of Tim Drake, has been recruited by one of his fellow homeless to find his friend – someone who had been kidnapped by Cobalt.  He's a genius-level detective ... but he still can't understand girls.

As Rae and Trevor investigate the abduction from two different angles, they run into each other, and hilarity ensues.

Welcome to the world of Masks, by RM Hendershot, a superhero novel that openly states that this will be "different" from all the others out there.  Is the author right?

I generally don’t like Young Adult novels. You have to get someone very specific and very good to get me to bother with one. Timothy Zahn, David Weber, Peter David, CS Lewis, are the few authors of YA books that I’ve read and that I’ve liked. Take your Hunger Games and your Twilight, and I’ll sooner given you back Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Chronicles of Nick first.

However, I like this one. It’s witty, and it’s fun, and it’s smart. It’s better than anything comic books – the usual medium for such things – has put out in years.  Unless you count J. Michael Straczynski.  I thoroughly enjoyed the book, and that’s not because I helped with one of the death traps. It has a lot of stuff most comics lack – character, for one. Everyone here has a surfeit of personality, even the bad guy, and the sidekicks, and the local superman equivalent (everyone has at least one). Chapter eleven has a shootout between three female characters, and not one mudwrestling joke…. someone should send it to DC Comics.

Everyone in it has a solid story arc ... or a character arc, if you prefer. And our hero and heroine have some good, natural chemistry.

It has the snobbery of high school, the stupidity of bureaucracies (in short, it's very realistic) and, the most important part: this book doesn’t treat the audience like they’re stupid.  The last time I saw someone treat the audience like this with superheroes it was Straczynski. It has offhand references to the Fischer King of Arthur, and even Universal monster movies. They also have some nice nods to actual comic books -- there is a Busiek hall, named after the creator of Astro City, a Lieber hall, named after Stanley Martin Lieber, who also goes by the name Stan Lee.

Not to mention, I also like the art. I’d post a few samples, but they’re not mine to post. No, this isn’t illustrated; they’re just pictures at the opening of each chapter, that’s all. But they’re nice and straightforward, and I can tell who’s who. Which puts the artwork above some Marvel comics I’ve read.

All in all, it was fun. There were some nicely executed Hitchcockian moments along the way, as well as some moments that J. Michael Straczynski would love.  Is it Les Miserables? No, of course not -- the book's too short.  But it's fun.  But Ms. Hendershot also has a plan, and a multiple-book arc, so we'll see how it all shakes out. 

The novel is quite enjoyable. I recommend it to anyone who believes in truth, justice, intelligence, and heart.  And ghost cowboys. Can't forget the ghost cowboys.

Buy it here -- seriously, for some reason, it's disappeared from Amazon and B&N.