Thursday, April 21, 2011

He Only Eats Wookie Cookies

You'd rather kiss a Wookie? I can arrange that.  on Twitpic

Thanks to @ZacharyLevi for the pic. 
(Click on image to see larger on TwitPic site.)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Favorite Book of 2010: Immortal

by Gene Doucette
Genre: questionable

When Gene Doucette said he was taking Adam on a 2011 Blog Tour I knew I had to sign up. As I mentioned on my writing blog, my accidental new avocation includes "book reviewer" and that means that my reading habits have been bumped up from voracious to almost incomprehensible (since not even I'm sure how many books I read last year). But my favorite book of 2010, and really even the decade 2001-2010, was far and away Immortal.

Reading is a very personal thing, so you are now wondering if you will also like this book. To quote Sean from Psych, "Are you a fan of delicious flavor?" Alright, that was still a subjective answer. So let me tell you what it is and what it's not, then give you a taste of that delicious (to me) flavor.

Part of what Immortal is... is difficult to describe. It is a first-person account of the recent happenings for an immortal man and since the action takes place in our current world the best genre description would be contemporary fantasy. The main character, Adam, has pretty much been around forever, at least since before the creation of language, and we spend the story inside his head. It is an important caveat to note that at times the book can be rude, crude, and salty so you are forewarned that it may offend your delicate sensibilities, if you have any. The book has elements of mystery, thriller, and urban fantasy but doesn't fit in any of those boxes. It has vampires but fortunately none of them are sparkly. Adam is the ultimate cynic because he really has been through it all and some readers have interpreted this mean that Adam is a bit of an ass, but I don't think he is. We could all only hope to be half as upbeat and forgiving after thousands of years of exposure to humankind. He has lived through various periods of slavery, the Inquisition, and the Dark Ages.

So what is it not? It is definitely not a romance, at least not in the classic Jane Austen style. There are relationships, sex, and romantic yearning but not combined in a way that would make the typical romance reader at all happy. It is also not a simple book, for all that it is fast-paced and thrilling. I love books that make me think and this one definitely does. It is not a book you should expect to read casually because it is engrossing and will make you lose sleep since the stakes are very high and you never know what might happen next.

Among my favorite parts of the book is simply Adam's voice, exemplified by this passage early in the book:
I'm a pretty sad example of what one should do with eternal life. I've never reached any higher level of consciousness, I don't have access to any great truths, and I've never borne witness to the divine or transcendent. Some of this is just bad luck. Like working in the fishing industry in Galilee and never once running into Jesus. But in my defense there were an awful lot of people back then claiming to be the son of God; I probably wouldn't have been able to pick him out of the crowd. And since I don't believe there is a God, I doubt we would have gotten along all that well anyway.
The underlying message of the book is both heartening and disturbing. People are people. Thousands of years of living will give you some perspective but it won't alter your underlying humanity (provided you started with some). It won't make you all-knowing or all-wise. So in many ways the underlying philosophy beckons me in the way that existentialism always did. We're here, it's now, and that's ok. Well, except for the part where Adam is being hunted by an international cabal and running up against vampires, demons, and other supernatural creatures. I don't remember Camus having anything like that.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Back in Time A to Z: House (1986)

House: Limited Edition (20,000) includes House IIYou may have picked up already that I love me some comedic horror and this is probably my favorite of all horror comedy movies. Maybe because it was one of the first ones I saw. Maybe because it has a ton of 80s TV stars. Maybe because hubs and I still quote it.

The main character (played by William Katt of Greatest American Hero fame) is an author still grieving the loss of his son, the divorce from his wife, and the death of his aunt from whom he just inherited a giant, and creepy, Victorian house. Throw in a few Vietnam flashbacks from his service in the war and you get a plot where we wonder whether he is really seeing the supernatural or just completely losing his grip on reality. Expect a few suspense moments and plenty of over-the-top gore and thrills similar to Peter Jackson's Dead Alive.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Back in Time A to Z: Ghost Ship (2002)

Ghost Ship (Widescreen Edition)We rented this the same night we did Below. What a night. While Below was all subtle creepy scare, Ghost Ship started right off with some gory action. Then it delivered a creepy yet action-packed adventure following a treasure-hunting crew trying to recover an old cruise-ship that had been adrift in the Atlantic for decades.

I don't think I'll be giving anything away when I say BAD THINGS HAPPEN. A chest of gold and a dead girl get involved and you just know that THAT isn't going to go well. Definitely recommended for a dark and stormy night with a bowl of popcorn.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Back in Time A to Z: Frequency (2000)

Frequency (New Line Platinum Series)This is a fabulous gem of a movie if you haven't seen it. Jim Caviezel plays John Sullivan, a disgruntled cop living in the house where he grew up. One night he gets out his father's old short-wave radio and ends up talking to another short-wave radio operator...who identifies himself as Frank Sullivan. The same name as John's long-dead firefighter father. Against probability it seems an electric disturbance has allowed them to talk across time. What follows is an exercise in the dangers of changing the past. I won't say more because I don't want to ruin it for you. Let's just say that if you can willingly suspend your disbelief (talking across time) it is a very enjoyable thriller that contemplates the importance of family and the factors of chance.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Back in Time A to Z: Enchanted (2007)

Enchanted (Widescreen Edition)Although more recent than most of my "Back In Time Reviews," I couldn't pass up a quick word about this movie for the letter E. In some ways Disney was lampooning themselves with Enchanted. The premise is, "Let's take a fairytale girl with no worries, who believes in true love and can talk to animals - then let's drop her in dirty, gritty reality and into the arms of a cynic." Well, go check out that quote at the top left of the page. (For for RSS readers, it's "Most cynics are really crushed romantics: they've been hurt, they're sensitive, and their cynicism is a shell that's protecting this tiny, dear part in them that's still alive." ~ Jeff Bridges)

So while Robert (Patrick Dempsey) is teaching Giselle (Amy Adams) about "reality," she is in turn nursing that tiny, dear part of him that he thought he had lost. Thus while partly a lampoon, it is also the most meta Disney movie ever. It's Disney demonstrating that they *get* what Disney films do for their audience. And because they get it they include a rockin' musical number in Central Park. What's not to like?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Back in Time A to Z: Deliver Us From Eva (2003)

Deliver Us From Eva (Widescreen Edition)This is one of my all-time favorite romantic comedies with one of my all-time favorite actresses (Gabrielle Union). If I had been born first instead of last I'm sure I would have *been* Eva. The IMDB summary says "Eva Dandridge is a very uptight young woman who constantly meddles in the affairs of her sisters and their husbands." That is putting it quite mildly.

Eva is so meddlesome that she is driving her sisters' men (one husband, one fiance) over the edge and they know they need to find a way to distract her. Her sisters don't quite understand how dysfunctional her influence is because she practically raised them and they think of her as just being herself. Sweet, funny movie that will resonate with anyone from a dysfunctional family - which I assume is pretty much everyone.

You can watch it on Amazon Instant right now for $2.99

Monday, April 4, 2011

Back in Time A to Z: Captain Ron (1992)

Captain RonOh goodness gracious do we love this movie, mostly because on one of our sailing trips in the Bahamas we met a man almost exactly like the Captain Ron of the title. And yes, someone had left him in charge of a boat.

This is definitely a movie where you need to disengage your brain, but it is a lot of fun. Martin Short is endearing as middle-aged Martin Harvey, desperate to make his family connect. After inheriting a sailboat he jumps on the opportunity to have the family sail it to a boat broker in Miami. Since the Harvey's don't really know how to sail, they end up hiring Captain Ron, played by Kurt Russell. Goofball comedy ensues.

An excellent pick to watch before a beach or sailing vacation. Then no matter what happens you can say, "Well at least we didn't have [event from movie] happen to us!"

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Back in Time A to Z: Below (2002)

BelowThis might be the best little horror movie that you've never seen. It's very subtle but sooooo creepy. To start with we have one of the ultimate (and fairly much untapped) environments for a haunting - a submarine. The time period is World War II and the sub has taken on survivors from a sinking ship. But not everything is what it seems...

We were surprised that we didn't see the actor who played Wally again for awhile because he was very entertaining and engaging... and then we all saw him everywhere. (Yes, you'll have to watch to find out who it is.) Rent it tonight!

Back in Time A to Z: Aliens (1986)

Aliens (Two-Disc Collector's Edition)
Chick Flick
To meet the deadline for the April A to Z Blog Challenge these will be micro-Back in Time Reviews where I will do short write-ups of favorite movies. Some of them may come back for full reviews later.

Aliens is one of my all-time favorite chick flicks. Why do I say that? You can keep your Sex in the City, Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) is the kind of woman I can relate to. Because while Ripley has her issues, she kicks some serious butt and takes a whole list of names. All while trying to tell people not to be idiots.

Cult Classics Presents: Classic Alien Action Figure
Alien Butt Prime for Kicking
In case you're not familiar with the series, the first movie is Alien - a creepy horror flick set in space that had the now-famous slogan "In Space No One Can Hear You Scream." Ripley lived through that harrowing experience only to come back in this sequel with people wanting her to return to the planet where they found the nasty critters in the first place. Although she'd prefer to avoid the whole thing she knows that she can't. So off she goes to face her fears with a whole ship full of Space Marines. That sounds safe, right? I don't want to ruin the movie for you if you haven't already seen it but, um, things happen.

Start Raining on My Parade (Goal Achievement Strategies)

In my Life Away From Keyboard (LAFK) one of my greatest interests is the area of personal leadership, which is a quick way of covering the areas of goals, achievement, personal growth, etc. From my first reading of How to Win Friends and Influence People at the age of 15 I was hooked and looking for more books with advice on how to improve your life. A lot of those books focus on creating positive visualizations in order to achieve peak performance so I was quite startled when the PsyBlog posted an article this week on 11 Goal Hacks: How to Achieve Anything and it advised being more negative.

Negative? I spent years learning NOT to be negative. But I'm willing to try anything at least once, especially in this particular area, so I will be actively looking for ways to rain on my own parade and see how it works for goal achievement and attainment.

I'll start now by admitting to myself that maybe five people will read this post and no one will comment on it. Do I feel more motivated to achieve my blogging goals now? Not really...

Friday, April 1, 2011

Don't Miss the Immortal Blog Tour!

Gene Doucette kicked off his April Blog Tour for his book Immortal today (no foolin!). I loved his book so much that I signed up for three stops on the tour (on three of my blogs) starting this Sunday.

On April 3rd the blog Writing Insight will have a Feature Article on Gene and Immortal. He was a Blooming Author back in July 2010 and we want to report to our readers on his excellent reviews and other publishing news.

On April 13th this blog will have a write up about why Immortal was my favorite book of 2010.

On April 23rd one of my characters will have a chat with Gene's character Adam from Immortal and that will be posted on my blog by Sue London.

Enjoy the blog tour! And don't forget to buy the book - a sequel is coming out soon!

Sue Gets Around

Didn't feel like putting it in the map format, but noticed that I've been to a few new states since I posted the original list back in 2005.

bold blue the states I've been to before, bold red the NEW states I've been to since 2005, underline the states I've lived in and italicize the state I'm in now, and highlight states I definitely want to go to. Tell me if I should add your state to my goals list - and why!

Alabama / Alaska / Arizona / Arkansas / California / Colorado / Connecticut / Delaware / Florida / Georgia / Hawaii / Idaho / Illinois / Indiana / Iowa / Kansas / Kentucky / Louisiana / Maine / Maryland / Massachusetts / Michigan / Minnesota / Mississippi / Missouri / Montana / Nebraska / Nevada / New Hampshire / New Jersey / New Mexico / New York / North Carolina / North Dakota / Ohio / Oklahoma / Oregon / Pennsylvania / Rhode Island / South Carolina / South Dakota / Tennessee / Texas / Utah / Vermont / Virginia / Washington / West Virginia / Wisconsin / Wyoming / Washington D.C /

5e D&D: What About the Children?

Fifth edition Dungeons and Dragons, released today (, proves that if I had been born a few decades later I never would have been a gamer. Honestly, it makes me question whether I want to bring children into this world. Sure, we could play classic D&D at home but when would they begin to be exposed to this travesty? Kindergarten? First grade? Attending gaming conventions would be straight off the list because you never know when a stray comment in an elevator or on the convention floor would trigger curiosity. And what if our son or daughter became a 5e gamer? We wouldn't be able to allow them in the house. It would be terrible for something like that to tear a family apart.