Tuesday, September 13, 2016

LEGENDARY: Game of Heroes

Seriously loving this game. Best CCG game I've played to date. A fun mix of collecting, color match puzzles, tactics, strategy, and social co-operation. With excellent graphics!

LEGENDARY: Game of Heroes

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Space Exploration Is Important, So Stop Whining About Space Spending

My response to anyone who complains about money spent on space exploration, says we should be feeding the poor or providing health care with that money:

Why is it when someone spends $100M on a movie no one will care about a year from now, no one complains. Or when someone spends $100M on a military aircraft that will be immediately mothballed, no one complains? Or when the Atlanta Falcons build a 1 Billion Dollar Stadium (that's ten times $100M) no one bats an eye. For a sports stadium. But spend any money on space and suddenly everyone complains and wants to feed the poor and save the world.

My question is, where do people imagine this money is being spent? Do they think it's being hurled into the sun by a giant catapult? No. The money is spent on materials and equipment that have to be made, assembled and transported, by engineers, scientists and laborers, all of whom GET PAID to do those jobs, and every piece of equipment is bought from a company, who PAYS TAXES and contributes to the economy. Money spent ON space is spent ON Earth, creating jobs and industries here on Earth that provide jobs (which fights poverty) and create advancements (like the mammogram machines that save so many women from breast cancer, remember to thank NASA and the Hubble Telescope Program for that) but most of all that inspire and educate and make people think, get people excited. Be glad these rich people and corporations are finally doing something with their money instead of just leaving it sitting in hedge funds where it helps no one.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Favorite Book Number One

'Strangers' by Dean Koontz (link to Amazon Books)

Let me be clear, I'm not saying that Strangers is the 'best' book, merely that it hits all the right notes for me, personally.

Strangers is the story of six strangers who experience strange waking terrors, and eventually meet, share their stories, and discover that they share an impossible secret. Strangers is a classic ensemble story, wide in scope and full of tension and mystery, questions that last well into the third act. The final reveal is very well crafted, one of the best slow reveals I've read so far.

The characters are what makes the story. An adult sleepwalker. A surgeon with panic attacks. An ex-marine hotel owner who is afraid of the dark. And of particular interest to me, a priest who has lost his faith, who suddenly experiences what seems to be a genuine miracle.

It's very hard to discuss the rest of the story without spoilers. (Be careful if you read reviews of this book. They tend to be full of spoilers.)

As I grow older, I become more comfortable with stories that don't explain everything, that don't answer all the questions they raise. But Strangers stands out as one of those rare works of suspense where the explanation truly and completely satisfies.

I've read Strangers many times, and each time it's just as satisfying. I recommend Strangers without reservation.

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Keep

Tonight, they will all be face-melted.

I finally sat down and watched Michael Mann's THE KEEP, based on the terrific book by F. Paul Wilson. I'm glad I did.

To be clear, the movie is a muddled, inexplicable mess of 80's backlit, smoke-machine, shitty effect-driven scenes, all set to a glorious roller rink electronic score by Tangerine Dream (I'm serious). But I enjoyed it anyway.

The scene where the two greedy German soldiers inadvertently release 'The Evil' is iconic. As is the first time we see Molasar materialize and explode the heads of two more soldiers as they try to rape Eva. The 'smoky' version of Molasar is really well done. If they'd kept him looking like that for the whole film it would have been epic.


The reason why I mention this film is, I remember catching a glimpse of it on TV in the mid 80's when I was a young teenager. The greedy soldier getting face-melted in the narrow tunnel, the acrobatic sex scene (yay sweaters!), and Molasar generally being a bad-ass must have made an impression.

Why? Because as I was watching I realized that some of the scenes in this movie (from way back  in '83) have informed and inspired stories I've written since then. Only I'd forgotten the film's influence. Scenes from Upstairs, The Image, A Conversation With the Devil and possibly others all have imagery and moments that remind me of scenes in this film.

It's kind of incredible that a movie I only saw parts of, one time, thirty years ago, could be so influential.

Gabriel Byrne does not want to be face-melted.

Great cast too. Ian McKellen, Scott Glenn, Jurgen Prochnow, and Gabriel Byrne sounding a lot like an Irishman not pulling off a German accent.

I wish the original 200-minute version Mann showed the studio still existed somewhere, because the choppy 90-minute theatrical cut leaves much to be desired.

It's a great, high concept story about the nature of evil, and visually it's a work of art but my God is it ever hampered by phoned-in performances and some really bad editing choices.

Running won't help, sorry buddy.

Despite it's many, many flaws, I enjoyed the movie. Apparently it stirred my imagination when I was young too. And it scared the shit out of me.

What more can you ask for from an 80's B-Horror movie?

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Favorite Book Number Two

Watchers by Dean Koontz (Link to Amazon Books)

This book works for me on so many levels. Two animals, victims of horrific lab experiments, one brilliant, the other murderous. Two people, both broken, one with nothing to live for and the other with no life. All come together in a story that is somehow suspenseful and terrifying while at the same time, uplifting. Watchers is a story that pulls at your emotions from every direction.

My favorite line of all time comes from Watchers. Travis and Nora have finally figured out how to communicate directly with 'Einstein', the hyper-intelligent experimental dog. Einstein suggests that the humans leave him behind to face the danger alone, and save themselves.

...She stopped hugging the dog and took his head in both hands, met him nose to nose, peered deep into his eyes. "If I woke up some morning and found out you'd left us, it would break my heart." Tears shimmered in her eyes, a tremor in her voice. "Do you understand me, fur face? It would break my heart if you went off on your own."

The dog pulled away from her and began to choose lettered tiles again: 


"You would die if you left us?" Travis asked.

The dog chose more letters, waited for them to study the words, then looked solemnly at each of them to be sure they understood what he meant:


A thoroughly original and genre-bending story that takes us into the minds and hearts of not just people, but of a very special dog as well, something rarely done in popular fiction. Watchers is Dean Koontz at his absolute best.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Favorite Book Number Three

Somewhere South of Midnight (link to Amazon Books)

I do love a good ensemble story. My favorite horror novel of all time, Somewhere South of Midnight tells the story of seven survivors of a horrific motorway accident. Seven people with nothing in common, except for the fact that the accident changed them forever.

Slowly, each survivor discovers they have a power, to heal, to kill, or even to burn. Where did their power come from? What caused the accident? What really happened that dark night on a lonely stretch of road? And what happens next?

Equal parts beautiful and horrific, full of dread and raw emotion, Somewhere South of Midnight never lets up, always surprises and long after reading, the images and questions still linger.

"The bus was losing speed. George frantically gripped the wheel, twisting to look at the rear-view mirror. But he could see nothing. The flaring headlights were impossibly bright, obscuring the mirror, and the only thing he could do was to swerve from his lane, and get the coach on to the hard shoulder and out of the way.

And then everything happened at once.

George MacGowan pulled the steering wheel hard over to the left, heart hammering, eyes dazzled by the headlights as…

Ellis Burwell, filled with anger, floored his accelerator and began to overtake the coach on the inside lane. His car had just begun to pass the rear of the coach when the entire vehicle swung at him, vast and powerful and shuddering. He jammed his hand down on the horn.

And then the screaming began."