Rants, Raves, & Random Thoughts

Shameless self-promotion of my writing skills or lack there of.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Movie Review: The Number 23

The Number 23 is a twisted little journey into the depths of obsession and psychosis. By far the most intense role I’ve ever seen Jim Carrey (from Dumb & Dumber only this would be Dark & Darker) play, I kept catching myself holding my breath during… well, let’s just say certain scenes. Every detail plays a part in putting this story together and oh, what a story it is. This movie managed to do something that doesn’t happen very often; it surprised me. That alone was worth the price of the rental.

Synopsis


The psychological thriller 'The Number 23' stars Jim Carrey as a man whose life unravels after he comes into contact with an obscure book titled The Number 23. As he reads the book, he becomes increasingly convinced that it is based on his own life. His obsession with the number 23 starts to consume him, and he begins to realize the book forecasts far graver consequences for his life than he could have ever imagined.

I highly recommend this movie to anyone who enjoys a good thriller. You won’t be disappointed.

Rating: 5 Stars


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Monday, July 30, 2007

Weekend Recap

There was a time when having a childfree weekend meant I would be a partying fool. Those days may have come and gone. My son spent the entire weekend with my mom (his Mema) and indeed, we decided to go listen to some live music on Friday evening, but I barely consumed any alcohol and we were away (and quite frankly) at home well before last call. Oddly enough, I’m ok with that.

Saturday, we decided to curl up on the couch and watch movies. No partying, no drinking, no music, no dancing, we just held each other close while we watched a variety of movies. It was great and the movies weren’t bad either.

Sunday, I knocked out a couple of thousand words on my new WIP, The Writing on the Wall. Other than that, it was a fairly uneventful day. It feels good to have a lazy weekend from time to time.

This could prove to be quite the hectic week for us. We (all three of us) are leaving for another trip on Thursday evening. We will stop in Dallas to visit with a few relatives there and then Friday morning we fly up to Delaware. I still have quite a bit of family up that way and it has been brought to my attention that I’ve been away for far too long. I have to take care of a bit of business while I’m up there, but we plan to head to the beach and slip over to the Ocean City Boardwalk while we’re in the area. That Saturday, my dad is throwing a huge shin-dig and we are going to have quite the spread, everything from crabs to meatballs, but the highlight is going to be the pig roast. I’m getting hungry already.

So, what did you do this weekend?

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Thursday, July 26, 2007

Cover Me

You may or may not have noticed, but I’ve been sneaking a bit more info about The Dance on my blog over the last couple of days. The time for subtlety has come and gone. It’s time I made it official. Behold the face of The Dance.

All kidding aside, I'd love to hear what you think:





Nearly a decade ago, Detective Tom Wiley worked a case that continues to haunt him to this day. But while the nature of The Puppeteer’s horrific crimes will always remain in Tom’s memory, it’s the guilt of not catching the serial killer before he vanished that still weighs heavily on his heart.

Eight years have passed since the last victim fell under the blade of that maniac during his vicious killing spree. The time of peace and quiet has come to an abrupt and gruesome end.

The Puppeteer is back.

With the unwanted help of his newly assigned partner, Detective Anna Perez, Tom will stop at nothing to end The Puppeteer’s latest reign of terror. But as the detectives follow the trail of bodies, they quickly realize The Puppeteer may not be their deadliest enemy, and they’re up against something far more sinister than the twisted workings of a serial predator.

Can Tom and Anna survive this world of insanity and death, of love and loss, of myth and magic, where the lines between good and evil are hard to discern? Or will they be forever swept away in The Dance?

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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Dar-Wednesday

It’s time for another installment of The Darwin Awards. Any excuse for a party?

(August 1969) On Autust 15, 1969, Hurricane Camille claimed 143 victims along the Mississippi Gulf Coast.. Most were guilty only of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, unlike twenty who perished while attending a beachfront "Hurricane Party."

Despite evacuation warnings delivered by earnest emergency teams, their festivities continued unabated. The party-goers defiantly declared that the concrete foundation and the second-floor location of their party provided plenty of protection from the impending hurricane.

Their confidence proved to be tragically misplaced when a 24 foot wave slammed into the apartment, destroying the building and subjecting the partiers to gale-force winds and violent ocean surges.

Most of these Hurricane worshippers were killed. A few survivors were swept miles away, cheated of a Darwin Award by the capricious hand of fate.


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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Movie Review: Bubba Ho-Tep

Ever wonder what really happened to Elvis? Then you simply must watch Bubby Ho-Tep. Yeah, it is a B movie, but with Bruce Campbell playing a decrepit Elvis stuck in a nursing home that is under attack by an ancient mummy, how could you not want to watch this?

Have no doubt, this is an offbeat comedy and a dark one at that. I laughed myself silly, but my wife was a little less than impressed. She gave it a, “Oh, it was alright.” Me on the other hand, I’m taking care of business, slathering up another peanut butter and nanner sandwich and preparing to watch it again.



Synopsis


An ancient evil finds resistance in the most unlikely of places in this outlandish dark comedy. Resting in the confines of a Mud Creek, TX, nursing home after fading into obscurity following his departure from the limelight, an aging and embittered Elvis (Bruce Campbell) befriends a delusional patient named Jack (Ossie Davis) who claims to be John F. Kennedy (they pieced him back together and put a bag of sand in his head after the assassination attempt). It seems that at the height of his popularity Elvis had switched identities with a convincing double, and, upon the death of the substitute, missed his chance to reclaim his former fame. Despite his anger at never having made a comeback, Elvis finds a new reason to live when Jack tips him off to an evil mummy that is feasting on the souls of hapless nursing home inhabitants (you simply must hear how and from where he sucks the souls from his victims). Before long the geriatric duo must muster the strength to fend off the malevolent soul sucker lest they ultimately fall prey to the fearsome Bubba Ho-Tep.


It’s like Army of Darkness meets 3000 Miles to Graceland only better.

Rating: 5 Stars


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Monday, July 23, 2007

Weekend Recap

Oklahoma’s favorite rapscallion EA Monroe has tapped me on the cyber shoulder the other day. She promptly presented me with this:




It is a meme of sorts being passed around the blogosphere lately. I’m honored to be considered such a smooth talker. I’m supposed to pass it along to five other people, but there are so many of you out there worthy of this, I just can’t bring myself to narrow the list. I will leave it open to all of the fine readers of this blog. Let me know if you pick up the torch and I’ll be sure to stop by and see what you do with it.

It has been a rather hectic weekend. Friday we met up with a rather large group of friends to help one of our group bid a fond farewell to his former job. It seems I’ve attended such functions quite frequently of late. The change winds are a blowing…

Saturday we had a lovely dinner with some other friends. It was a grand meal and a grander time. We followed dinner with a couple of rented movies. I’ll try to address a proper review of each later this week.

Sunday we slipped out to the lake for another attempt at wakeboarding (I haven’t had a complete three run set once this summer due to some rather aggravating boat issues). We arrived at the ramp to find the lake was lapping at the parking lot. The ramp was completely submerged, but with a bit of concentration, a touch of luck and a sprinkle of held breath, we managed to get the boat in the water without incident. It was a good time, but the boat still isn’t running properly. I think I have it narrowed down to just a couple of possible causes now.

Before I close, I just wanted to take a second to say, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MOM!!!!!
I hope you have many, many more.

So, what did you do this weekend?

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Fear Me

So, I had a little time to kill the other day. I was thinking about the power of Myspace as a promotional tool and had a rather strange idea. I’m sure we’ve all seen pages set up to promote books, that had a blurb, the cover and a bit of news about release dates and special offers, etc.

I decided to create a page for one of my characters from The Dance. I started to make one for my hero, but I thought it would be more fun to do it for Kyle…the serial killer and arguably the true star of The Dance.

I created the page, made reference to The Dance, filled in plenty of detail that screamed of the evils in Kyle’s mind and even listed serial killer as his occupation. I added a few friend requests and sat back to see what would happen. He is a hit. It is now becoming a rather intriguing social experiment.

I think I know where the problem lies and before I go any further, I should probably explain. For those of you who read bits and pieces of the original text (Kyle is the character you may remember as Jerry in the first incarnation of the tale), you might remember that Kyle is big. He’s tall, muscle bound and has a smile that could melt the heart of a nun. I searched for a pic to use in the profile that would be representative. I found something close and inserted it. It’s just a picture of a very brawny chest and arms.

Well, I believe several people have become blinded by biceps. People obviously don’t take the time to read the profiles before they initiate contact. Not only has Kyle received several friend requests he already has a mailbox full of messages from young women wanting to get to know him better. All this despite the fact that in his interests he lists among other details fear and screams, I live for the sweet song of terror realized.

It’s enough to boggle the mind. Part of me wants to pull the plug on the project, but the twisted side of me wants to let it ride and see just where the path takes me.

These are truly strange days indeed.

I’ll keep you posted on Kyle’s progress. If anyone would like to see the profile for themselves, shoot me an email (or drop into my comments) and I’ll send the link.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Dar-Wednesday

It’s time for another installment of The Darwin Awards. This sounds more like suicide by creative invention than an actual robbery attempt, but it does make the man worthy of an award either way.

(3 February 1990, Washington) The following mind-boggling attempt at a crime spree appeared to be the robber's first, due to his lack of a previous record of violence, and his terminally stupid choices:

1. His target was H&J Leather & Firearms. A gun shop.

2. The shop was full of customers - firearms customers.

3. To enter the shop, the robber had to step around a marked police patrol car parked at the front door.

4. A uniformed officer was standing at the counter, having coffee before work.

Upon seeing the officer, the would-be robber announced a holdup, and fired a few wild shots. The officer and a clerk promptly returned fire, covered by several customers who also drew their guns, thereby removing the confused criminal from the gene pool.

No one else was hurt.



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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Dark Thoughts

Someone once asked me how I could possibly spend so much time writing about death and the animals that cause it. After all, I appear to be quite the friendly, stable person. I have a smile for most everyone and I often go out of my way to help those in need. In short, it seems I just don’t fit the image of a person with such horrible characters running around in my head.

I suppose I should feel flattered…I think.

I do not write about these things because I’m a dark person. I have no brooding soul. The things I write about come with the mother of all safety nets…they are purely fictional. I get to create an environment with all of the adrenaline rushing thrill (if I’ve done my job correctly) of jumping from a tower. The ground comes rushing at you. You see each object below with growing clarity. You are in the moment…lost to the sound of your pounding heart. Doubt tugs at the edges of your soul. You see the point of impact; you’ve marked your spot, but before you splatter and bounce, the tension on your left leg increases. Slowly at first, the grip of the bungee cord becomes incessant before you jerked back through the air and out of harm’s embrace.

No, I write what I do, because it offers an escape, a glimpse into a world I have no desire to be part of in real life. If the things I wrote about were true, I would surely end my days by dining on a bullet. Whose sanity could remain whole under such conditions? It’s just entertainment.

Are you not entertained?

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Monday, July 16, 2007

Bang Your Head

We slipped over to Rocklahoma over the weekend. It was a four day concert hosting such 80s Mega-Hair-Bands as: Poison, Vince Neil, Twisted Sister, Ratt, Queensryche, Dokken, Winger, Bulletboys, Jackyl, Slaughter, Skid Row, Great White, Warrant, Firehouse, LA Guns, White Lion, Faster Pussycat, Bang Tango, and well…you get the idea. Check out the link above for the full list.

I didn’t hear the final total, but rumor has it nearly 50,000 fans showed up to witness this monumental event. It was so successful, they’ve already begun plans for next year’s gig.

I must confess, it was a great time, but it brought back very vivid memories of bad hair and even worse clothing choices. People watching at such an event is a must. I would say a good 5% of the people we passed, slipped easily (I hope they had to dig out the clothes and do that with their hair) back into the heavy metal headbanger role.

A few of the bands sounded like they hadn’t practiced their songs in the last twenty years, but for the most part, these guys still know how to rock. Winger in particular was just fantastic. So much so, I’m now compelled to repurchase their music, both new and old.

Other than that, we had a rather quiet weekend. I finished up this round of edits for The Dance and worked on a couple of other writing related projects. We even managed to work enough time to watch a DVD on Sunday, but then…that’s a whole other post, now isn’t it?

How did you spend your weekend?

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Thursday, July 12, 2007

Tagged and Bagged

Tagged by Robin, who was tagged via Tish Cohen

First, the covenant:
1. We have to post these rules before we give you the facts.
2. Players start with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
3. People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
4. At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
5. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.


Okay, eight random things about me:

1. I often still act like a kid. I’m big on pulling pranks, I still read the occasional comic book. I play video games and I’m not above participating in epic battles my son has set up with his toys. I laugh…a lot.

2. I once nearly drowned in the ocean. I couldn’t have been more than five or six at the time. I slipped into the water and disappeared from view. My dad (and several others I’m sure) searched frantically. He snagged my shorts, pulled me from the bottom and fixed me right up. Oddly enough, I still love to be in the water.

3. I had my first crush at the tender age of 9. A lovely little girl named Michelle made me smile every time I saw her so I gave her a fake diamond necklace. She “liked” me for all of two weeks, but I still remember her.

4. I once lived in three different states in one year.

5. I spend as much time barefooted as possible. I love the feel of carpet, grass tile and cement (when it’s not to hot) on the bottom of my feet.

6. When I was in the Army, I jumped from a second story window to make a beer run during a lock down. I shimmied up a drainpipe with the bag slung over my shoulder to get back into my room.

7. I didn’t learn how to dance until I was sixteen. I went to a teen dance, was drug to the dance floor, promptly embarrassed myself and spent every waking moment for the next six months, watching videos, asking questions and learning how to dance.

8. You know how certain smells will trigger a memory? Certain sounds will trigger aromas, I can practically smell. Example, whenever I hear the music for Family Feud, I smell chicken noodle soup. Probably, because the only time I was on the couch when it came on as a kid, I was sick. It came on during lunch and I ate soup when I was ill. Freaky, huh?

By law, I must now tag 8 people with this meme, so without further ado…Breazy, Bernita, Carrie, Lime, Donnetta, Liz, M.E. Ellis, and Sandra come on down, the water’s fine.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Dar-Wednesday

It’s time for another installment of The Darwin Awards

(1992, California) Snakes flick their forked tongues in the air to "smell" the world, collecting molecules and analyzing them by pressing thir tongue tips tips them into small olfactory pits. An inebriated twenty-year-old man, apparently unaware of this biological fact, took umbrage when a wild rattlesnake stuck out its tounge at him. Tit for tat! He held the rattler in front of his face and stuck his tongue out right back at it. The snake expressed its displeasure at this turn of events by biting the conveniently offered body part. The toxic venom swelled the man's face and throat, choking him to death.



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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Memories

It’s good to be home; it’s even better to be in my own bed. I know I’ve spent a lot of time on the road lately, but you never get used to sleeping in a strange bed. Sleep rarely is as deep and continuous as it is when surrounded with the comforting scents and sounds of the familiar.

We had a lot of time to think, talk, dream and remember on our drive both to and from the cruise. One of the topics we covered was memories of childhood vacations. I’ve a veritable archive of such, though not all of them from “traditional” vacations. Sure, we made it to the usual vacation amusement parks such as Bush Gardens, Knott’s Berry Farm, Epcot Center, etc., but, the memories that stand out for me most are the road trips. We would pile in the family vehicle and drive. Early on, this would include a trip to Virginia and one back to Delaware (once we migrated west that is). It seemed to me that no matter where we were or what we were doing, about every two years, we’d load the car and set out for the coast.

I watched the world slide by from the passenger window, watched landscapes change, watched the earth fall flat, then push itself up reaching for the heavens. I saw a myriad of faces, some hard at work, some lost in thought, some just staring back at me from a passing car. Accents changed with every gas stop, attitudes did the same. These little glimpses into what I considered other worlds always fascinated me. The journey, for me, was almost as exciting as the final destination.

What stands out most about childhood vacations for you?

I’m knee deep in my revisions for The Dance. It’s all so very exciting. My editor is going to be a joy to work with. Though, this first round of edits makes my MS look like it’s bleeding to death, I’ve yet to come across a comment or edit that didn’t leave me with a feeling of “Doh! Why didn’t I think of that?” and I have to say, my story is going to be much stronger for her efforts. On that note, I shall return to the fray.

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Monday, July 09, 2007

Avast ye Matey!

Well, we’re back. I think I may need a vacation to recover from my vacation. As most of you know, we booked passage on the good ship Carnival Conquest. We set sail from Galveston, TX and made our way to Jamaica, Grand Cayman and Cozumel.

With some of the many troubles I’ve had with airlines lately (long story), we decided to drive down to Galveston. With 28 days of straight rain, we had a decision to make: Speed, Comfort or…Boat.

The boat, though tempting, wasn’t really practical as there has to be some places between here and there that haven’t flooded lately. Besides, we were about to spend quite a bit of time on a boat as it was. We decided to go with the Trailblazer. Vacations are about comfort, no?

We arrived at the terminal a good two hours before we were instructed. I’ve heard horror stories about the lines just to get aboard. The stories were true. It took nearly three hours to get through the luggage drop, parking, security, check-in and actually boarding the ship. Having said that, we hardly noticed how long it took. There were just so many people to talk to and quite frankly, our excitement gave a major boost to our patience.

Once aboard, we made our way to the upper decks to check out the view. My wife obviously thought she was still dreaming. Have I mentioned how much I love her? I will.

I must admit the pure grandeur of the ship felt a little dreamlike to me as well.


On our first full day at sea, my wife excuses herself shortly after we slip up to Lido deck (where the pools and several restaurants are located). I assume it is for personal reasons, but alas…she wanted to enter me into a contest. What contest, you ask? The Hairy Chest Contest. I was forced to bare my hairy chest and dance my way down a flight of stairs being “as sexy as possible”.

There were cheers, screams and a lot of laughs. I’ve never felt more like a piece of meat in all my life. It was great. After I made sexy time on the stairs, I was properly introduced to the masses.

It was all in good fun and I got a medal out of the deal. What I didn’t realize at the time is that they we’re taping the whole ordeal. The played the video every hour on the hour for the entire cruise on every TV on every deck and it was also available on the TVs in the room. Not a day went by, that people didn’t come to me to ask if I was the guy on the video, then promptly commence rubbing on my chest. My wife thought this was hilarious.

They had a Cigar Bar onboard, that was just an absolute work of art in itself. Murals, statues, intricately carved chairs and tables and a live soft jazz band gave this place a wonderfully decadent feel. I tried to take several pictures of the room itself, but for ambiance, they maintained low light. Here is one of us in the one area where the lighting was adequate to see the picture.

Our first stop was in Jamaica, mon. We elected to spend our excursion on the beaches of Sandal’s Resort. It was a good choice. Just look at these:


Before we left the resort, we we’re treated to a proper dance lesson. They asked for volunteers and of course, my wife put us in the mix. I now know how to do the Dollar Wine and I yes…I can “drop it like it’s hot”.

Our next port of call was Grand Cayman. This for me was the highlight of the trip.

We drove ourselves to a wonderful place to snorkel.


After frolicking around the coral reef, we were guided to a wonderful place called Stingray Island. This is a large area of sand covered with water that is about waist deep. It gets its name because dozens of playful stingrays make there home there. We were able to feed them (they suck squid right from your hand), hold them and just enjoy letting them swim around and often up against us. I’ve never experienced anything quite like it. If you ever have an opportunity, I highly recommend you see this event first hand.




Oh, and what is a trip to Cayman without stopping at Margaritaville?


Our last stop on the cruise was the island of Cozumel. We stepped off the boat and onto a ferry to carry us over to Playa Del Carmen.

We then took a rather nice bus to visit the Mayan ruins in Tulum. Our guide was very knowledgeable and I found the history fascinating. I’m running low on room here, so I’ll have to save some of that for another post.


There is another beautiful beach that boards this Mayan city on the Cliff side.


All in all, this ranks as possibly the most memorable vacation I’ve ever had. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to get to work on the set of revisions to The Dance that came in while I was away. No rest for the wicked and all that.

So, what did you do while I was away?

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