Monday, June 20, 2016

4 Almost Forgotten 80's Toys Getting Their Own Movies

Marvel changed the face of Hollywood with its series of interconnected movies (Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, and Hulk), culminating in the massive crossover success of Marvel's The Avengers. The movie world they've created has become known as the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And it's a gold mine. Ever since, other studios have been crawling all over themselves to create their own cinematic universes, in particular DC with Batman v Superman and the upcoming Justice League movie. But in December 2015, Paramount surprised everyone with an announcement that they would be working with Hasbro to turn its hit G.I. Joe movies series into a cinematic universe. And the other properties they planned to combine it with took everyone by surprise.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

"Fantastic Four" (2015) Somehow Makes Superheroes Boring

Fantastic Four (2015), Source: Fox
Summary: When a group of teenagers enter an alternate dimension, a freak accident grants them superpowers. Bound together by their new abilities, they become a Fantastic Four. But when one of their team plans to destroy the world, they must work together to stop him.

I'd read all the reviews, and seen all the news about the debacle that became Fantastic Four (sorry, that should be Fant4stic, according to the movie poster). I thought it really couldn't be as bad as everyone said. And I was right. Fantastic Four isn't the worst superhero movie ever, despite all the negative press. Superman IV: The Quest for Peace still holds that crown. If anything, Fantastic Four is actually okay up to a point. The problem lies squarely in the middle and end, which is why it's so disappointing. There was plenty of potential to this movie, which makes its wasted resources so frustrating.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

"Ready Player One" by Ernest Cline [Review]

Ready Player OneReady Player One by Ernest Cline
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was an amazing book. It was the kind of book that I was sorry I'd read, because it ended, and I could never again read it for the first time.

I've seen this book described as Willy Wonka meets The Matrix, and that's a fair but simplistic assessment. The novel is about a shy and poor kid named Wade Watts who lives in a near and unpleasant future. The environment has collapsed to the point where gasoline is almost non-existent. He lives in the Stacks, literally a sort of shantytown made of recreational vehicles stacked on top of each other to form makeshift apartment buildings. His only escape is OASIS, a virtual reality where most of the population lives, works, and plays. But when the creator of OASIS died, he revealed that he created a complex scavenger hunt within the game. Whoever can solve the riddles will get his entire fortune as well as control of OASIS. The clues to finding his legacy are related to the world he grew up in, the pop culture world of the nineteen eighties. Wade decides to try to find the creator's fortune, and stumbles onto the solution to the first clue. The book is basically about him and his friends on a virtual treasure hunt while other forces who want the money and control of OASIS pursue him in the real and the virtual world.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

DC Is Desperately Trying to Ruin "Watchmen"

DC Universe: Rebirth #1 by Gary Frank, Source: DC Comics
[Major Spoiler for DC Universe: Rebirth follows.]

DC Universe: Rebirth is a relaunch by DC Comics in 2016 of its entire line of superhero comics. In case you're not familiar with New 52 (hoo-boy), New 52 in 2011 was an initiative intended to reboot all of DC, and start over. Characters like Superman were depicted as just starting out, instead of having been around for decades. Other characters like Batman were relatively unchanged. Not everyone was happy with the changes, especially Superman fans who were disappointed he wasn't romancing Lois Lane. DC Rebirth is intended to restore the DC Universe to its pre-New 52 self, while still incorporating some popular elements of The New 52. That's the part we all knew.

But at the end of DC Rebirth #1, readers were shocked by an unexpected twist. It was revealed that New 52 wasn't caused by the 2011 Flashpoint crossover changing history as previously depicted. Instead, it was caused by Dr. Manhattan. Yes, that Dr. Manhattan. From Watchmen.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Everything You Need to Know About Doomsday

Source: Warner Bros/DC
He isn't Superman's oldest or most well-known enemy outside the comics (at least until he appeared in Batman v Superman), but he is one of Superman's greatest. He's one of the only villains who can match and even exceed Superman physically. He's also one of the few enemies who has actually killed Superman (at least temporarily). We're talking about Doomsday, the powerhouse alien warrior who has fought Superman on many occasions, and Superman physically cannot defeat. Here are some fun facts you may not have known about the Ultimate Enemy.

Friday, March 4, 2016

It's Surprisingly Easy to Make New Age Inspirational Quotes

Freedom is the driver of passion. Sharing is the nature of divinity, and of us. You may be ruled by greed without realizing it. Without awareness, one cannot exist.
Who do you think wrote that? Deepak Chopra? The Dalai Lama?

Nope.

It was written by a computer program. More specifically, the New Age B.S. Generator.

The creator wrote: "After sitting through hours of New Age rhetoric, I decided to have a crack at writing code to generate it automatically and speed things up a bit. I cobbled together a list of New Age buzzwords and cliché sentence patterns and this is the result." All you have to do is click "renergize electrons" and it will generate a page of text that seems really deep and profound, but means literally nothing. That's where the above text came from.

The odd thing is that, even knowing it's junk, it's still kind of easy to read the B.S. and see it as something deep and profound. You've probably seen quotes like it on Facebook or Twitter, where people like and share it without really understanding what it means. In fact, a study was done at the University of Waterloo to see who exactly is falling for this stuff.

They had 800 subjects rate real quotes from people like Deepak Chopra (who wrote "The true self is non-local"), random quotes (like "by blossoming, we dream") and even ordinary statements (like "newborn babies require constant attention"). The participants had a hard time distinguishing between real and fake quotes, and rated a large number of them profound, including the ordinary statements. According to the Huffington Post:
They found that people who are receptive to this kind of "pseudo-intellectual b------t" are less intelligent than those who aren't. The study also found that they tend to have strong religious beliefs, are not reflective and are more likely to believe in conspiracy theories, alternative medicine and the paranormal.
In other words, about who you would expect.

A computer spouting garbage is equivalent to a highly trained New Age guru. That's actually kind of deep and profound for real.

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Sunday, November 22, 2015

New Release: "Little Green Men #1: Better Homes and Aliens"

Those who read Flying Saucers and the followup Call Center of Doom may have been left with unanswered questions. What happened to Jeffrey Foster after he saved the world and left Earth? What happened to Rygel Poxio after he rebelled against the Xenon Empire and fled his homeworld? And how did the Xenon Empire handle the news that Earth had rebelled their initial invasion?

All answers will be revealed. Gradually.

Today begins the launch of what will ultimately be the Flying Saucers Trilogy. There will be two three-part series released, the first of which is Little Green Men. Part one is live today, subtitled "Better Homes and Aliens." Here's the description:
Saving the world was just the beginning... 
Jeffrey Foster thought saving the world from an alien invasion would be the high point of his life. Now he just wants to find a nice place in the Galaxy to settle down. But he's unaware that the Xenon Empire plans to send its deadliest warlord back to destroy the Earth. Will Jeffrey turn his back on his home world? Or will he interrupt his favorite HoloVision show to save the day? And can he find some alien food that won't make him gag? 
You can download it on Amazon today. It will also be available at major retailers like Apple and Nook in a few days. Stay tuned.

You can also read an excerpt from the novella previously released here.

Update: Now available on iTunes | Nook | Kobo | Inktera | Scribd

To hear about my new releases first and get a free book of fifty 100-word short stories, sign up here. Your email will never be shared, and you'll only receive messages about new releases.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

"Call Center of Doom" is Now Free...Except on Amazon

The good news is that my comedy/scifi novella Call Center of Doom is now available for free on six major ebook retailers. The bad news is it's still 99-cents on Amazon.

You may be wondering why. The answer is Amazon. Unlike all the other ebook retailers, Amazon doesn't allow you to permanently set a book's price to free. There are only two ways to get a free book on Amazon. One is to make the book exclusive to Amazon for ninety days and offer it for free for five days out of the ninety. The other way is to make the book free on other retailers and try to get Amazon to match it. I tried the latter with my short story "Man Overboard." After three months of nagging everyone I could to contact Amazon and get them to price match, I finally got the price dropped to free. And then six months later, Amazon put it back to 99-cents. So I'm done trying to get Amazon to price match.

Description
Rygel Poxio is an alien who works in the deadliest call center in the universe. His job is to call Earthlings to ask (hypothetically) if they would surrender to his Empire in exchange for a free car or iPod. And then they get added to a list of future slaves for a coming invasion. When he has a crisis of conscience, Rygel must find a way to save the world. Set in the same universe as my novel, Flying Saucers.

If you want Call Center of Doom on Amazon, it will be 99-cents. Everywhere else, it's free.

Go to the following:
Barnes and Noble/Nook | iTunes | Kobo | Scribd | Inktera | Oyster

To hear about my new releases first and get a free book of fifty 100-word short stories, sign up here. Your email will never be shared, and you'll only receive messages about new releases.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

I Wish There Was an "Uber For Writers"

Apple iPad Event03.jpg

I needed some extra cash, so I recently tried to get part-time work by joining Uber, the infamous app that allows anyone to become a taxi driver. You sign up, and other people who need a ride just send out where they are and where they need to go, and if you're available, you show up and give them a ride. "Someone wants a ride from Chandler AZ to Scottsdale AZ in 30 minutes!" I couldn't join because my car is over ten years old (those sticklers). Meanwhile, my wife (who's a massage therapist) joined Soothe, which is like Uber for massage therapists. Anyone who wants a massage sends out the order, and she can show up to fill it. "Someone wants a 90-minute Swedish massage in Scottsdale, AZ at 12:30 PM!" The freedom and convenience of being able to get work when you want it, where you want, is something I envy. On-demand work has a lot of benefits.

It made me wish there was an Uber for writers. I wish there was an app where people wanted short stories, and would send out requests. I'd be sitting at home and get a message on the app. "Someone wants a 5,000-word science fiction short story in Tempe, AZ by 2 AM!" I'd pound it out on my PC, and upload the story. But I don't think people want writing that badly. Or do they? Someone get to work on that.

Image Source: "Apple iPad Event03" by matt buchanan - originally posted to Flickr as Apple iPad Event. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Commons.

To hear about my new releases first and get a free book of fifty 100-word short stories, sign up here. Your email will never be shared, and you'll only receive messages about new releases.
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