Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Christine's Odyssey makes the Simms Siblings Series Sure Sound Super!

Howdy. I’m glad you’ve stopped in. My name is Christine and although I’m only eleven, I’m what some adults might call precocious. A lot has happened in my life, some of it bad, but like my dad used to say, good things can result from the bad stuff that happens to us.

To help me celebrate overcoming my challenges, a great gang of authors have teamed up and will be giving away copies of their books. Sweet, yes?

For a chance to win a pair of the books listed, you can do anything included on the Rafflecopter below or on Facebook. However, for those who’d like to win a $10.00 Amazon Gift Voucher, hop on over to the Jamaican Kid Lit Blog to enter for that.

Anyway, I tend to talk a lot, so before I carried away, here’s my story:
Raised in a hotbed of arguments and fights, eleven-year-old Christine Simms is the victim of her mother's cruelty. A domestic dispute ends in tragedy, sending the family into a tailspin.

A shocking discovery sends Christine on a quest to find the stranger who left her behind in Jamaica. Determined to unravel the mystery of her birth, Christine uses every tool at her disposal and treads with courage where no child should.

Thanks so much for dropping in! I hope you win the novels of your choice. I should tell you that you get to choose books based on how the Rafflecopter does the drawing of the winners. So, if your name comes up first, you get to say which pack you want.

Available in ebook format at AmazonUS  <<<CLICK

J.L. Campbell is a proud Jamaican, who is always on the hunt for story-making material.

She writes romantic suspense, women's fiction and young adult novels. She is the also the author of Contraband, Dissolution, Distraction, Don't Get Mad...Get Even, Giving up the Dream, Retribution and Hardware (written under the pen name Jayda McTyson).

Visit her on the web by clicking HERE.
a Rafflecopter giveaway a Rafflecopter giveaway
Christine's Odyssey makes the Simms Siblings Series Sure Sound Super!

I will be away from the desk Thursday and Friday. I'm visiting my parents for Easter. However, I shall see you soon enough next Monday as the A to Z challenge begins. I'm going to be blogging about my favorite canceled animated television series, The Clone Wars. I think the Star Wars universe told from the perspective of the cartoons is definitely fertile enough ground for me to find a topic for every letter.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A gold dragon with all the moxen is Dan Frazier calling magic players a bunch of hoarders

Art by Dan Frazier. Does it make you want to be a hoarder?
Magic 8 Ball says: "Signs point to yes"
This picture by artist Dan Frazier is the nerdiest Magic: The Gathering tribute I've seen in a while. And within it's beautiful details is a statement that in my opinion is far from complimentary. But it's OH SO TRUE!

For those of you who don't know, this is Magic: The Gathering's 20th anniversary and to celebrate it, all of the original artists (people like Dan Frazier and more importantly Kaja and Phil Foglio!) have all put up some new art that's available in a book with oversight from parent company Wizards of the Coast.

It's pretty obvious that Richard Garfield (the creator) probably had no idea of the immense goldmine that would explode two decades ago from his creation. I can summarize Magic as thus: it's a strategy game kinda similar to chess, but not really, that involves micro-management of resources to the nth degree to defeat the person across from you. Catch all that? Shaking your head no? Well I'll try to explain further.
These pretty cards are very rare and very expensive. In my opinion,
any child molester could drop 10K or more on these bad babies, park
outside a huge tournament with his white van, and probably lure all
kinds of kiddos to the "park" (if ya know what I mean) by simply saying,
wanna see my moxen? It sounds really sad, doesn't it? That's because it is sad.
Parents, pay attention to your sons. Tell them a mox sapphire offered from the
door of a white van is just NOT WORTH IT. And yes I said "sons" and not
"daughters" because let's face it, Magic is a total sausage hang.
Deck design is based upon sets that are released upon a proven "money making" formula and old cards are phased out so that there's always incentive to buy the new stuff (capitalism people! Chop! Chop!). The huge tournaments offer a very comfortable living wage to anyone that has the genius to wield and overcome all those who stand in their path (like maybe buy a Mercedes wage but not necessarily a permanent niche among the 1%).

The game has excellent mechanics, is easy to learn, and fun to play. And just like any game that millions of people play, it has its share of douchebags that (if they lose) they're really sore losers and just don't make it fun to play at all. And if you get into any level of competition, you really have to be perfect, and because there are only ever really like three to four solid decks to play that someone with an IQ of 200 creates even before the new cards are made, everyone else copies those decks and that's what you end up facing all day long.

And when I mean you have to be perfect to even be remotely competitive...I'm serious. You play a card a second too soon or tap a land or an artifact out of order, and it's game over because your opponents are THAT good. And that's just in small tournaments. I've no idea what the competition is like in the Big Boy stuff. I'm pretty sure that everyone that plays at that level probably can do advanced calculus in their head.

Anyway, the one yucky phenomenon of Magic: The Gathering is that it inspires "hoarding." And yes, I totally mean that in the negatory like a picture from a home in "Hoarders" or a screenshot from the meme Skyrim hoarding. Boys are especially susceptible because boys like fantasy stuff, and jewels, and swords, and they buy all these cards and put them in order alphabetically. It starts as a small box, grows to a bigger box, and then grows to multiple boxes. Pretty soon your house is overrun with boxes of worthless magic cards with essentially cartoony art and coffee stains from having smelly teenagers over at all hours of the night to play Magic around your kitchen table. Your friends come over and wonder why there's a card with weeds on it laying on the couch and you try to explain to them that it's a plains and if you can just tap it, you'll get one white mana, but usually that starts the eye-glazing effect.
Greeted at the door: Come in, come in...I'll grab my deck of Magic cards to
play ya. I know it's around here somewhere. I think I left my boxes on that
there couch over yonder. Just gotta clear a spot so we can play...
My reply: "Yeah um...f*ck that."
So yeah...hoarding is bad...and the only way to play Magic in my opinion is digitally because it keeps the hoarding in check and nice and tidy. But don't say that to the die-hard hoarders collectors BECAUSE THAT'S JUST NOT HOW IT IS!!!

Anyway, thank you Dan Frazier for providing this awesomesauce art. That's a gold dragon hoarding all of those moxes. And the moxes (the shiny jeweled necklaces) are worth a HUGE amount of money in real life because the hoarders collectors all want them for their epeen enlargement capabilities among the nerd elite.

And yes...epeen means what you think it means.

So yeah, a gold dragon with all the moxen is Dan Frazier calling magic players a bunch of hoarders...and that's why I like it. :))

Disclaimer: I may have spent years of my life buying magic cards and experiencing all of the above things, but you will never know

Monday, March 25, 2013

My Chemical Romance have you heard the news that you're dead? No one ever had much nice to say but I really liked you anyway

How could anyone not be in love with these incredibly talented
musicians and singers? I'm SO MAD RIGHT NOW!
Okay, so just when I thought that March of 2013 couldn't punch me in the gut one more time, I hear that one of my favorite bands has broken up. WTF?! Seriously guys? You couldn't have waited until April.

So now I've lost The Clone Wars, Young Justice, Green Lantern: The Animated Series, and My Chemical Romance???
Please, Please, Please let this just be an angsty, "I'm mad at everyone," phase
and take like a year or two off and then come back together again guys.
Hold on a second while I clear my throat and yell "AAAARRRRRGGGGGHHHH!!!!"

There..I feel just a wee bit better. So, you might be wondering why I loved "My Chemical Romance." Well there's many reasons actually, but probably the most prominent one is that I've been listening to them for literally seven years. I think that none of their songs sound the same, they wore elaborate costumes which appeal to me, and they seemed to be a band built around ideas and actions, hopes and dreams, with song lyrics that played hard and fast and were quite easy to understand.

Yes, they were loud but not the "kind of loud" that doesn't have an insane amount of talent behind it. They were without a doubt the emo band that I and many others loved because they saved people. MCR helped outsiders feel a little less alone. I look at my own catharsis that I felt every single time I played the song "Dead." I would literally describe it as an outflow of pent up anger at all the nameless people in my life that I perceive are oppressors--the damnable hordes of the self-righteous who are only appeased by failure from anyone that is not within their click.

So I guess us survivors are now left to pick up the pieces. I swear, 2013 is starting to look a lot like it's cursed.

Here's my favorite song from MCR. I think it's just incredible. It's called "Dead" and it seems oddly appropriate. Please listen to it if you have the time. It's wonderfully expressive and for me, definitely as good as any therapy session.
The members of "My Chemical Romance" were Gerard Way, Ray Toro, Mikey Way, and Frank Iero. "The Black Parade" in 2006 was the album that made me a fan and to this day, I still listen to all of the songs on my way home to visit my parents (a four hour drive).

My Chemical Romance have you heard the news that you're dead? No one ever had much nice to say but I really liked you anyway. :'(

May you forever Rest in Peace. XOXO -A fan signing off.

Friday, March 22, 2013

A computer filled with cockroaches is the catalyst for understanding the divide in American values

What's up? I'm a cockroach, and I'm gonna move into your house.
My career is not my writing. Part of what I do involves restoring and reissuing slightly dated computers to clients who may need them. This week I experienced something that I wasn't expecting, and it left me slightly horrified. A client returned a computer filled with live cockroaches.
Yep...those are roach casings. Nice eh? Are you afraid yet? Your computer
could be a regular old roach motel!
I didn't discover the find until a day later. And by then, they'd had a whole night to escape from inside the computer where they'd built their nest and run around my workplace laying eggs. It's truly grotesque, and we're having the whole building fumigated this weekend.

Upon first opening the computer to spray out the dust with compressed air, I didn't quite realize what I was looking at. The insides of computers are typically extremely dirty. Mine at home isn't because I clean it out to keep it well ventilated at least once a month. The interior of my computer is also well lit with neon, and I think that may bother and deter such creepy crawlies as cockroaches.

So there I was spraying and all of these empty brown beetle-like casings were flying everywhere. I picked up some with my fingers thinking "what is this?"

Then I saw them hiding beneath the motherboard. Small, flat, and very brown roaches with antenna wiggling at me as if to say "what's up?" and "stop spraying us with compressed air cause we're sleepy..."
I see this kind of condition all the time. It's grotesque. I don't know why
people let their machines get like this. It definitely impacts performance.
For the record this isn't the pc that had the roaches. Just one I grabbed
off the internet to show you how dirty pc's can become.
I threw the computer in the garbage. I'm not going to rip out all the guts of an older computer just to get at a cockroach nest and then deal with all the eggs. I'm sure the back of the motherboard is just covered with them and perhaps, the pc probably doesn't even work, as roaches eat the glue on electronics and love the heat generated by computers.

But I didn't act quickly enough.
This is what cockroach eggs look like. Seeing these gives me chills.
When I called the client and told her, "I found live cockroaches infesting the computer you returned to us," she said "Uh huh. So when I get another one?"

She wasn't even surprised.

I repeated, "Um, your computer is filled with cockroaches. I don't appreciate that. We're having to spray the entire building down now."

"So? What's the big deal."

That was my second "horrified" reaction this week. Ever since that conversation, I've been trying to figure out why someone wouldn't be phased by what I'd said. There's also the implication that she knew roaches might be living in it and it was okay to just leave it in my workplace in a torn plastic shopping bag (also covered in eggs on the inside). I wish I hadn't just left the pc for the next day's work load on a chair in our office.

Maybe it's because they live with them and aren't bothered by them. And it makes me realize, how different we are as people. What is offensive to one person is not only fine with another, there's absolutely no way you can explain to that person why you are offended. They simply don't get it, and they probably never will.

It made me see how useless debates are that take place between adults who don't share values. It's just going to be like two big-horned sheep slamming into each other on a mountain. They will never understand you. Ever. And you will always be at odds with that person because you just don't have the frame of mind to comprehend where they're coming from.
Two sets of values that will never ever see eye to eye on anything.
For me, a computer filled with cockroaches is the catalyst for understanding the divide in American values.

Interesting, eh?

And people...there is a moral to this story: Please please please clean your computers with compressed air. Take off the panel, stop being afraid of the inside, and just do it. But don't ever use a vacuum unless it's one made for doing that kind of work. A vacuum can cause static electricity to build on sensitive components and cause you many pains. Compressed air though is a safe bet. If you haven't done this in years, prepare to find spiders and bugs living inside. That's what you get for keeping a filthy pc in your home.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

I could have predicted the rise of Asian French stoner food in the American zeitgeist if I'd just paid attention

CLICK TO EMBIGGEN. Is the hipster to blame for the tragic clash
happening in American cuisine. Magic 8 Ball says "Yes." Click for
source of Image.
I could have predicted the rise of Asian French stoner food to its prominence in the American zeitgeist if I'd paid attention to what was happening in Pocatello, Idaho about 10 to 12 years ago. And not that any of this "prediction" would have made an impact on my life, but I think from the standpoint of someone who looks to societal trends to stay in tune with what's interesting to hipsters, I might have enjoyed the validation of being right yet once again. At the time and crossing into that milestone called the thirties, I had both stoner friends who spent every extra dime they got on pot to friends that had plenty of discretionary income and were too smart for their own good because Idaho did not provide them with the challenges or the stepping stones to achieve greatness.

In my opinion, Asian food, French food, and stoner food all had their consumers. My friend Brad (one of the brightest men I know) was the first person that dropped the phrase "Japanese French fusion," and I remember I had no idea what that was. But the passion and excitement with which Brad approaches anything (whether it be poker, a movie, or the talk of fine coffees and food) explodes from his very presence like the Trinity bomb set off over White Sands, New Mexico. You know...the one where Dr. Robert Oppenheimer quoted the Bhadavad Gita and said, "I am become Death, destroyer of worlds." Well, Asian French stoner food could very well be "I am become Death, destroyer of food and your wallet", and there's a part of me that feels I should have seen this coming. And maybe the fact that I don't appreciate all of it with the same jubilation as stoners in Colorado do over their decision to legalize a sign that this particular liberal democrat is indeed getting gray.

I'd grown up in a Japanese household that regularly ate things like sukiyake, sashimi on gohan, and sushi (to name a few dishes). And by the time the 90's ended, I'd been to a French restaurant or two and tasted fine things like chateubriand, foie gras, risotto, and could appreciate an excellent fromage even though I don't drink wine. This latter bit is not out of choice. I just happen to be allergic to alcohol and after a couple of sips or two, I need a Benadryl or it's going to be a trip to the hospital (I can eat things cooked in wine no problem).

And I'd also made plenty of stoner friends. What did they like to eat? Pretty much just fat...anything from nasty pork rinds to grilled cheese sandwiches (which have always made me gag--not a fan). Well those two worlds, probably thanks to the meteoric rise of celebrity chefs, gourmet kitchens, and the Food Network have now collided in every eatery from Salt Lake City to Montreal to San Francisco to New York City that wants to brand itself hip, and then go and charge you an arm and a leg for food which is essentially fat-on-fat and will challenge anyone's notion of appropriate caloric intake. It doesn't surprise me at all, since America as a whole is a place that has never respected food.

So what am I seeing? Craving tacos? Remember when "fish taco" was a surprising twist? Well now it's tacos stuffed with bulgogi, pigs' tails cooked in root beer, and a nationwide movement by foodies to instill the idea that literally anything can be improved by cooking it with some part of pig. Bacon hot chocolate anyone?'s a real thing, and supposedly, "to die for."

Growing up, I would have insisted (if these foods were real people) that they were narcissistic much like my old intellectual friends I made in Pocatello, Idaho. I had a ton of fun with my narcissistic super smart friends (and I miss them a lot), but in the end, I would hope that they would never hook up because that would be a disaster. It would have been just too much of a clash to handle. Or would it?

So now you can go places in just about every town that has hipsters and money and order dishes like bite-sized hamachi sushi made crunchy with fried pork rinds or get sashimi slipped into a stack of flapjacks. Really? Picturing grilled cheese sandwiches? Let's stuff foie gras in there, garnish it with cucumbers pickled in rice wine vinegar and see if you gag. How about Arctic char, cured with sugar and lime zest and smoked for breakfast? How about the cold water fattiness of mackerel served with a plain old bed of crushed potato chips?

I admit, some of this stuff is really good but there's a mental tug-of-war going on in my mind. I wonder where it all stops, or where it all ends. Is the new Saturday normal eating breakfast pancakes with raw fish, salmon roe, and lime yogurt? When asked what's for lunch do I respond with "creamy cod fritters with strands of pickled cabbage and a garlic aioli." Is there ever going to be a time when I'm not the only one staring at a plate of barbecue sauce, raw and pickled cabbage, mayonnaise, pickled shallot, sriracha, shoestring potatoes, and spreadable egg yolk and think...this is grotesque.

Maybe food is like the sparrow in the mine. It's the pulse of America and as our population swells it is becoming harder and harder to have a voice and more difficult to distinguish ourselves from the person standing next to us. And the youth today according to many psychological studies are more vain and fame-obsessed than any generation that has ever walked the earth. Reinventions and reboots happen faster and faster with a continuous devaluation of the old as a trade off for finding something original to be "wowed" by and to rave about to our friends. Maybe too many of us cling to the notion that we are all interesting, when in fact, there are many uninteresting folks out there. But at some point in our lives, the line is crossed, and the sparrow dies. Let's just hope that none of us experience that from a restaurant and pay a truly astronomical sum for the privilege of eating garbage.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Being Human shows us the most sympathetic cannibal you will ever see

This graphic is via zombie hippie whose tumblr can be found HERE. Disturbing, right?
This season of SyFy's "Being Human" has been a real rollercoaster ride for a couple of the show's characters. Josh the werewolf is the kindest most decent man you'll ever meet who also murders other people and buries their bodies in the woods. This may be a real turn off for some, but heck, I'd be Josh's friend. He's actually a good person. It's just circumstance that requires him to bump off some fellow human beings when no one else wants to get their hands dirty. Let's not even mention the fact that a natural born werewolf has now reinfected him with lycanthropy, and the only other cool werewolf we've ever met in the series is probably dead from a vampire attack (that kind of makes me sad cause I really liked that old geezer).
Former ghost, Sally is now the coolest zombie you'll ever meet.
Sure she wants to eat the flesh off your bones, but honestly, she's
trying to go vegan and really hates that she ate a mouse.
And Sally? What to say about my poor favorite Sally. I love her so much, but she's basically the best looking zombie you'll ever meet. I mean she looks better than R did in the movie adaptation of "Warm Bodies" when "R" was almost human. Not following me? A little explanation may be in order.

See, last season they had this cliffhanger where Sally had destroyed her incorporeal form to go find her buddies (also ghosts) who were trapped in Limbo. They got out because Josh (the guy that gets stuff done) dug up her body, provided a heart from someone he murdered, and then dug up her corpse for a witch to resurrect. Damn. Now that's friendship folks. Most people just ask to borrow money every once in a while, right? I could imagine having that conversation: "Yeah um, I know we're friends and I was wondering if you could do me a favor? You can? GREAT! So...can you dig up my corpse, kill someone, and bring their heart to a witch so she can get me out of Limbo? SAWEEET! Thanks hon XOXO."
In life there are toilets and no one wants to scrub them. Josh, however
will do just that. In "Being Human" he takes care of a lot of tasks
that no one else seems to want to do. He's got to be the kindest
looking mass murderer I've ever seen.
But instead of resurrecting just Sally, the witch also brought back her buddies Nick and Stevie who happened to be hanging out with her in Limbo. And Stevie is the most sympathetic cannibal you'll ever see. Like seriously guys. And here's the deal...Nick, Stevie, and Sally don't WANT to be cannibals. They just are because there happens to be a few "tiny and unmentioned" side effects at being brought back alive by the witch. Of course, the witch didn't tell them, because (as it turns out) she's a pretty wicked witch and just wants their souls to stay young forever. And when she isn't doing that, she's like a cook at a homeless shelter, so I guess as far as her soul goes, it's all good. The woman can make some great soup (or so we've seen).

So yeah. Sally, Nick, and Stevie started ROTTING (as in full on body parts dropping off). And the only thing that would make the "rot" go away was to satisfy an indescribable hunger for flesh. Sally ate a live mouse and Nick ate his cat. When Nick tried to eat his girlfriend, she killed him with a baseball bat making him a ghost again (and we can assume that his ghost has now been consumed by the witch off-screen because that's what she does). Well Stevie went the furthest, and I think Stevie has been pretty adorable thus far these last three seasons. Just, his hunger struck and he didn't know what to do about it. So he ate his parents and then ate a United States postal worker who just wanted to deliver the mail.
This is the face of the new cannibal. Stevie ate his parents and a postal worker. Interesting eh?
I've never seen cannibalism passed off like this. Up till now, it's been pretty much one cannibal: Hannibel Lecter, and that dude is scary. Don't get me wrong, the "Being Human" way of approaching this last taboo is incredibly horrific. But it also manages to be other things. It's tragic, sad, and kind of funny. Yes, how can you not laugh when Josh and Sally find an arm in a breadbox and say, "Stevie! Come explain this?!" And Sally wins my heart over when she says offhandedly in her hipster getup and GAP skirt. "Josh, I don't know how much time I have 'cause...I really want to eat that arm." Sigh.

I have sympathy for Stevie, who asked Josh (of course) to kill him. And Josh being the man that does everything in the show, did JUST THAT in the garage of Stevie's home. Josh has gotten so jaded to killing that he's now at a point where he can kill people and still go to lunch at McDonald's afterwards to talk with you about your love life with his puppy dog eyes.

"Being Human" has gotten really dark, and I guess that's appropriate considering that it's a story about monsters who desire humanity more than anything. And yes, it's the kind of dark fiction writing that I'm really attracted to with sympathetic characters forced into incredibly unreal situations. I have to say though, I never expected a television show to address cannibalism with such bravado. I mean, my reaction wasn't "Stevie frickin' ATE his parents!" it was "Awh...poor must have broke his heart to eat his mom and dad like that."

Perhaps taking the horrific and giving it a new spin is what writers do these days to forge a new path in a world filled with sameness.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Love Story of Razer and Aya Made Green Lantern a masterpiece

Clockwise from upper left: Kilowog, Aya, Hal Jordan, and Razer (he's my fav)
Guys, I feel like "Firefly" has happened all over again. According to Comic Vine, "Green Lantern the animated series", "the Clone Wars", and "Young Justice" on Cartoon Network have not been renewed. It's like the ultimate gut punch in the first three months of 2013. I'm so sad. But unlike "Firefly," "Green Lantern" had a good run and finished on top. Only it really should have been called "Red Lantern," because Razer stole every scene he was in because his back story was just too good. 

Every Saturday morning, I've tuned in to DC Nation on Cartoon Network to watch "Green Lantern the Animated Series" and "Young Justice." "Green Lantern" is my favorite of the two, and I gotta say, Razer the Red Lantern totally owns Hal Jordan. I think he's just perfect.
Razer is the coolest Green Lantern character. He's so
stern and kinda awesome looking. I like his eyes.
We first got introduced to Razer in season one. At that time, he was driven by hate because of the death of his wife. He came at odds with the Green Lanterns of course (Hal Jordan and Kilowog), was their prisoner for a short time in their ship The Interceptor, and then slowly started working with them. But the most interesting thing occurred when Razer fell in love with Aya, The Interceptor's computer. As a caveat, I could be just partial to A.I.'s because my story, Slipstream, has one in it that also grapples with emotion. In the end though, all that matters is that the Razer and Aya love story had me by the jugular.
Aya was incredibly powerful. And just got more so as the series
progressed. By the series end, nothing could stop her, not even the
entire Green Lantern corps.
So Aya was just an A.I., and Hal named her this out of humorous affection. While Razer was held captive in the ship, Aya tried to speak to him about the reasons why he felt that he should be killed for his crimes (Razer was a very bad man). Aya was further surprised by his tremendous guilt (in prison Razer was forced to relive memories of his wife dying and he actually didn't mind because he loved his wife so much that it was a way for him to see her). Aya freed Razer and when she did, to her surprise, he said he would not forgive her (yes, Razer was a HUGE drama queen but don't we all love drama?)
Razer and Aya. They're so perfect together.
On a mission with Razer in tow, Kilowog remarked that Aya was only a NavCom computer and lacked a physical body (a pretty callous thing to say to someone). In response, she created a body that looked identical to Razer's dead wife.

You can probably see where this is going. Aya and Razer fell in love, and it grew over the course of two seasons, until about midway through season two where Razer broke Aya's heart. You see, she returned to The Interceptor and reassembled her body after a devastating altercation that left her without one. She wanted assistance from Razer to help her coordinate with the defense of Ysmault when Razer said, "I don't love you because you're just a machine with the appearance of my deceased wife." Yes ladies, men can say the wrong things sometimes, and this was a doozy. I think there's a ratio between the hotter the guy is to the more damaging his "off the cuff" comments can be.

Anyway, Razer left the room and Aya was devastated. Aya approached Hal to be consoled, saying she was feeling tremendous pain and didn't know how to deal with it. They were just about to engage in battle with an army of Manhunters and the Anti-Monitor himself (this guy is very powerful). During the battle Aya could not perform at full capacity as the emotions crippled her performance. When she asked advice from Razer (the man she loved) he said "focus ahead and shut everything else down."
Aya in Razer's arms. The girl always falls for the bad guy with a ton of
emotional baggage that just happens to be drawn really well. Right ladies?
Aya realized that they would lose the battle unless she shut down all of her emotions. She went to The Interceptor's Power Battery and sapped ALL OF ITS GREEN LANTERN ENERGY. Like seriously (and that's a lot). Now at super-peak capacity, she launched an attack at the Anti-Monitor himself (leader of all the robotic Manhunters). She easily carved a path toward the Anti-Monitor, destroying everything in her way like Red Lantern spacecraft (not all Red Lanterns are cool like Razer) and a few dozen Manhunters. With her incredible powers, she blew up the Anti-Monitor's head and integrated herself into the Anti-Monitor's body (claiming all of his immense power for herself). She reactivated the Manhunters under her control and installed herself as their queen. She declared that she rejects all beings driven by their emotions because emotions cause only pain and suffering. And then she decided to remake the universe.
"Bow before me! For I am the Anti-Monitor!" Seriously...this guy was a badass.
In the clip below, Razer turns himself into a red bullet that's fired from Kilowog's huge gun. It's completely amazeballs and I think you should watch it. Red energy defeats green energy in case you don't know...
So basically, Aya goes back into time over the course of the remaining episodes all the way to the Big Bang (all of this is possible because of the Anti-Monitor's power). Only at the moment of creation, Razer tries to kill her but can't bring himself to do it and she blasts him. Razer is near death and Aya panics. She decides that she can't live in a universe without him. So she stops her nefarious plan and returns to the present time with Razer in order to save his life. It's proof that love conquers all.
A good girl gone bad. This is evil Aya. Or more appropriately,
emotionless Aya. Behind her is the army of Manhunters. She's standing
in the shell of the Anti-Monitor in this screenshot.
She confesses that she replicated herself in all of the Manhunters and dispatches a computer virus to kill all aspects of her so that the universe will never be in danger again. Only this also kills the primary Aya, and she dies in Razer's arms.
I was like "OMG...this is so sad. This cartoon is going to make me cry." Here's the entire scene where Aya dies at the end of "Dark Matter," the last episode of an incredible series. Please watch and grab some tissues. It's heart-wrenching knowing all the loss that Razer has suffered and endured.

The love story of Razer and Aya made Green Lantern a masterpiece, and I think Razer is one of the greatest villains turned good guy that I've ever seen. Thank you DC Nation, I shall miss you.

Monday, March 18, 2013

A List of Ten Movies that Kick Ass

Today is Alex's Top Ten Movie Countdown Blogfest. You can find details HERE although there really isn't much to go on. I guess I'm just supposed to do a list of the 10 movies I like? So that's what I'm going to do :) In no particular order (because I can't decide which I like better) here are the ten movies I really enjoy:
  1. Return of the King
  2. Silence of the Lambs
  3. Jaws
  4. How To Train Your Dragon
  5. Raiders of the Lost Ark
  6. The Matrix
  7. The Cider House Rules
  8. Brokeback Mountain
  9. Life of Pi
  10. Gladiator
These kinds of lists are so hard to do! Anyway, I'm off to check out what other people chose. Thanks for visiting and have a good Monday.

Friday, March 15, 2013

The coolest water conservation graphic you'll see this year

Behold the coolest water conservation graphic you'll see this year. This was emailed to me by Melanie Palmero of Loch Ness Water Gardens who read my first post on water conservation and kind of liked some of my points that I made. Have a great weekend everybody :)
This graphic comes from  Please link
back to that webpage if you choose to use this graphic on your own blog.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Author Ellie Garratt wants to ask you if there's any type of dark fiction you'd consider too dark to read

I'm publishing Ellie Garratt's Passing Time Book tour spot one day early because she lives in the UK, and I live in the U.S. and it just will work out better for cross communication between our two blogs. This post will remain up for Thursday the 14th as well. Now to turn my blog over to Ellie Garratt whose byline on her blog states that she is an author of both speculative fiction and horror!
Why Dark Fiction?

All the blue seems to lend itself to
a macabre atmosphere, kind of like a
film still that has been overexposed
for bleakness and despair.
One of the more common questions I’ve been asked about Passing Time is, Why dark fiction?

When I decided in early autumn of 2012 to put together two anthologies of my previously published and unpublished short stories, I put them into two groups: science fiction and horror. What I found after I’d filed them came as quite a shock to me – horror stories outnumbered science fiction by 2:1. I’d always considered myself as more of a sci-fi writer. After all, I’ve written the first draft of a science fiction novel. Yet here was proof that when it comes to short stories, I’m really a horror writer. So, it seemed logical to make my first collection dark fiction.

Another often asked question is: "How dark is it?"

I think the answer to that question depends on what you as the reader consider "dark" to be. The nine stories that make up Passing Time feature death, cloning, a devil, vampires, zombies, a serial killer, an undertakers, and the end of truth. If these sound like the kind of fiction you’d enjoy reading then I would say you’ll like Passing Time. Hell. I hope you’ll love it. But if any of that makes you squeamish, you may need to reconsider. Having said all of that, I don’t think my stories feature overly gratuitous violence. Where violence appears or is referred to, it is done so to fit the context of the story. Please don’t go away with the impression that Passing Time is one big bloodfest from beginning to end. It really isn’t.
So, have any of my stories whet your appetite? Is there any type of dark fiction you would consider too dark to read?
This is a photo still from the remake of "The Evil Dead" which I (Michael)
am looking forward to. I put it here because maybe what Ellie is talking
about is that her book, Passing Time won't "necessarily" feature nasty
evil zombie people like this that WANT TO EAT YOUR FACE!!! But then
again, it just might. I have no idea since I haven't read it. I am intrigued
though. Consider appetite "whetted."
Book Blurb: Nine dark fiction stories that may just give you nightmares.
  • A man lives to regret "Passing Time."
  • A father will do anything to save his son in "Expiration Date."
  • An author finds out her worst nightmare is back in "The Devil’s Song."
  • A woman gets more than the claim fee when she takes out vampire insurance in "Luna Black."
  • In "Dining in Hell," the Death Valley Diner becomes the wrong place to stop.
  • A serial killer wants to add another file to his collection in "The Vegas Screamer."
  • In "Eating Mr. Bone," an undertaker could meet an unfortunate end.
  • A con man meets his first ghost in "Land of the Free."
  • And will truth finally be set free in "The Letter?"
Book Links:
Amazon for $2.99 for £2.05
Author Ellie Garratt showing that
astronauts can totally be cover girls.

About The Author

A life-long addiction to reading science fiction and horror, meant writing was the logical outlet for Ellie Garratt’s passions. She is a reader, writer, blogger, Trekkie, and would happily die to be an extra in The Walking Dead. Her short stories have been published in anthologies and online. Passing Time is her first eBook collection and contains nine previously published stories. Her science fiction collection Taking Time will be published later in the year.

Here are some author links for you to explore:

a Rafflecopter giveaway 
So are any of you horror fanatics out there going to buy Ellie's book? The price on it seems like quite a steal. Get it while it's hot! And don't forget to enter the giveaway.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Visionary of Peace is the coolest book set on Mars you'll read this year

The Vallar saga by Cindy Borgne is a great "visionary" achievement. They are books so original and exciting they stir my imagination the same as the cutting edge of science can do when narrated by Stephen Hawking, Neil deGrasse Tyson, or Brian Cox. Like most science fiction space opera, Visionary of Peace imagines an alien world filled with technology, lots of gadgets, and fights between spaceships. But it also leaps into the vast and bleak terrain of Mars to visit such unknowns as the Nocturne Labyrinthus and the largest volcano in the solar system: Olympus Mons.

The German director Werner Herzog has said that we live in an age starved of new images. What Cindy Borgne provides us in her sequel Visionary of Peace is the solution to such starvation by borrowing visuals literally ripped from the Mars Rover. Man is already leaving tire tracks on Mars. How long before those tire tracks are a footprint and before corporations rise to terraform the red planet?

Cindy Borgne nourishes us with a tale that shows human nature is not so different in the far future, despite all that has happened. Psychics now dwell among humans, and scientific advances have made wormhole creation a reality, giving man for the first time in history the ability to step beyond Sol and colonize a world orbiting an alien sun. We still have wars, people still die in violence, and the battlefields have become the windswept rock of Mars. However, there is hope in the true "Visionary of Peace" who is named at the end of the book. Perhaps it is appropriate that the dust of the fourth planet is red, because this narrative is steeped in blood that is not so much a story, but an experience because of the first person alternating narrative of two lovers, Ian and Kayla, who despite all odds find a way to make things work in a breathtaking romance that spans the stars. Ah to be young and in love and saving the world. I think even Arnold Schwarzenegger in "Total Recall" could get on board with that concept.

Visionary of Peace combines science fiction, space opera, and young adult "coming of age" in surprising and refreshing ways making familiar elements new. Cindy Borgne employs insect swarms that are in fact machines, explores betrayals among corporations and friends, and her villains are merely so because their motivations run completely counter to those for whom we cheer. Toward the end, there is a thrilling, almost apocalyptic battle that left me on the edge of my seat. And I have to say upon finishing, this is a book for anyone who still has a sense of wonder and a feeling for bold visual style.

I look forward to the next book in this series, and I hope that Cindy writes it soon.

I give Visionary 5 stars out of 5 and recommend it to anyone who likes sci-fi epics and wonderful, emotional characters.

Cindy Borgne's AMAZON PAGE.
Cindy is also on GOODREADS located HERE

Have a great Tuesday. Tomorrow I will be hosting Ellie Garratt early and for two days (Wednesday and Thursday) because she's on the other side of the world, and I want her post live so there is no problem in linking from the UK to the US.

Monday, March 11, 2013

A Monday in which I reminisce on Requiem and my days in an uber World of Warcraft guild

I got kind of confused with the book tour post for Ellie Garratt's new book Passing Time and published it/unpublished it. You may see it in your Google Reader. That post will go up on Wednesday, so I'm sorry for the confusion. If you would like to visit Alex J. Cavanaugh's blog today, he is hosting Ellie Garratt on schedule.
My friend Kevin is gonna make me want to play a pandarian before this
post is over. *Shakes fist at Kevin!
Today I would like to introduce you to the first of two "Kevins" that I met while playing World of Warcraft. I still don't know what this particular "Kevin" looks like in real life as I haven't met him, but I've talked to him on the phone and on ventrilo and he's a fellow druid lover (although I thought his character's name "Shribryn" was far cooler than the one I picked, which was "Velanna"). I hope to introduce you to the other "Kevin" soon. I sent him some interview questions. The other Kevin was my raid leader and guild master of "Requiem" (a very handsome fellow I might add) and we dominated our server for about five years. Plus we were a top 200 guild. That's sayin' a lot for those of you who don't know what that entails. That other Kevin went on to raid with the guild "Elitist Jerks" after I left, which is a "top 10 in the world guild" on the server Mal'ganis US.

Anyway, this first Kevin (and my good buddy) wants to take you on a little nerdy history of Azeroth. So those of you that like video games and/or fantasy stories may enjoy this entry. As a side note, I think those of you who "despise" video games because they take boys away from reading should check this attitude because video games are just "graphical" fiction with the best possible "choose your own adventure" engine. To explain further, it would be like an author of fiction hating on another "author of fiction" simply because they get all the attention and their product looks way better. In other circles...we might call that jealousy (a topic for another time). So yeah, jealousy does not become you my dear...

Anyway...take it away Kevin a.k.a. "Shribryn"...

As some of you may know, Mike used to play a lot of Blizzard Entertainment’s World of Warcraft (WoW) and in fact, it is in that game where I met him. Since I’m assuming some of you have never played WoW or don’t know anything about it, I will explain a few basic facts. WoW is an MMORPG which is shorthand for saying it is a multiplayer online role playing game and Azeroth is the world where most of the game takes place.
Comment from Mike: Graphics continually improve. I remember when I thought this
looked good. This is what Wizard 101 looks like LOL.
The game is a simple concept. In exchange for $15/month, each player starts with a few basic abilities and your character improves through a combination of leveling to gain new abilities and gear to make you more powerful.  The combination gives a feeling of improvement that can be addictive. This isn’t a particularly new idea but when Blizzard released the game, they hit the sweet spot. When their game came out in late 2004 there were only about 6 million people playing MMORPGs. In under a year the number jumped to almost 13 million and many of them were playing WoW. In the United States alone, they had to open almost 200 servers to accommodate the traffic, each essentially their own little world.
Growth in MMO Accounts per year. Impressive, eh? It reminds me of the explosion
that the iPhone experienced (or the iPad) or for that matter, Apple. Only Apple
did it better. Still, a company would be proud to have this kind of growth.
I will never forget the day in game when I got a whisper from a guild of casual players asking for help against some of the game’s harder content. After a few failed attempts, one of their druids bombarded me with a constant steam of private messages and our conversation continued long after his guild gave up the fight. Within a week, I recruited Velanna (aka Mike) and a few of his friends to join my guild. Mike’s character is in the picture below on the far right. I’m next to him in tree form.
Having the name <REQUIEM> floating next to your character was pretty damn cool.
People all over the server basically treated you like a celebrity because you could clear
all the content on hard-mode. It really taught me how working together as a team
with someone is the best way to play a game. Some of our guildies were such
attention whores. They'd sit in all their epics and legendary gear at some high
trafficked location in the game and just go idle so that people could "marvel" at all
their cool stuff. The psychology behind video games is fascinating.
As you can imagine, finding long-term friends in an online game like WoW is hard. During the time I was in charge of recruiting for the guild I noticed a consistent trend that every month we’d lose around 10% of our members. That might not seem like much but it essentially means over the course a year, guilds (teams of players) will look completely different than they did a year earlier. Beating the ‘boss’ in the picture below took ‘playing’ 4 hours a night, 3 days a week for almost a year. Only about 5 people remained of the 40 that were there from the start.
The <REQUIEM> Bad-assess. Seeing these pics brings back memories.
That is the nature of the game and the trap of MMORPGs. They suck you in with the promise of a fun social experience but it eventually becomes a grind.  As Penny Arcade perfectly summed up in their GIFT cartoon (below), the anonymous nature of a game like this means you will find a greater percentage of idiots and it’s a test of your interpersonal skills if you want to find a good friend. Of the thousands of people I met in the World of Warcraft, Mike is the only one I talk to on occasion.
Click to Embiggen
A few weeks ago, Blizzard sent me a 10-day pass for their latest expansion, Mists of Panderia. I’ve heard some good things about it and despite my misgivings, I decided to check it out.  At first, it was weird to play as I couldn’t remember any of the buttons to press but it came back quick and so did the nice feeling of falling into the world of Azeroth.
Oh the peril of a huge sword is just too hard to resist
standing underneath and sneaking a screenshot.
The newest Warcraft storyline is based on Chinese and Asian legends and the world they created is breathtaking. The first thing I noticed was just how good the new areas look despite the game’s age. In addition, the questing is streamlined, there are better tools for new players, and the game’s mechanics are simpler. One huge improvement is the addition of the tools added since the Lich King expansion that helps players find groups. The LFR/LFG system minimizes the playtime needed at the highest levels so there’s no longer any need to devote a year of your life to experience all the content.  I can attest that is a good thing.

Of course, there are things I didn’t like. Now that that it is easier for players to access the highest-level content, the designers have decreased the challenge to accommodate players that don’t take the time to understand the game’s mechanics. This seems to have made some players even lazier as many don’t seem to bother to move when they are ‘standing in fire’ as they know healers can keep them alive. Despite that, the latest expansion is a definite win for Blizzard.
The one thing Blizzard can’t change is the fact that no online experience can replace real life interaction and the rise of mobile gaming on Iphones/ Ipads/ Androids is stealing potential customers. As you can see on the chart at the top of the post, the MMORPG industry has stagnated for over the last 4 years and mobile gaming has been a big reason. Games like Angry Birds or Words with Friends are cheap, have little of the social stigma and place little/no time demands on its customers. There’s nothing Blizzard can do about that but I don’t feel too sorry for them. They still have millions of subscribers paying $15 every month and I don’t see that changing any time soon.
Even with the positive changes to the game, my return to Azeroth was short.  I know from experience that the time demands are still too much and my completionist nature can’t handle it.  I’m not leaving Blizzard’s domain entirely as the new Starcraft expansion is/was released on March 12th so if any of you are interested in playing, my player ID is jebei#674.


Thanks Kevin for taking me down a stroll through memory lane. I do miss playing World of Warcraft with <Requiem> a lot. However, I made a choice to quit playing so that I could get my mojo back with regard to writing (to play something so incredibly creative destroys my own creativity), to start getting in better physical shape, and to concentrate on goals I wanted to make which are namely: to buy a house and get my retirement all set up nicely and maybe do some traveling (if there's any money left). All of that is really difficult to do when you are raiding four nights a week, and people are depending on you to show up because you have the gear that allows them to tackle the difficult content. However, there's nothing like a game to show you the people that have no ability to do math and to point out those that may have an IQ of around 80. You quickly learn to distance yourself from those people, as they will waste all of your time. It sounds ruthless, but that's the way it is.

Any of you watch the trailer? It shows actual game play. Pretty impressive in my opinion. Have a great Monday.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

As published authors we are more than just a sum of our word count and our pages

I am publishing my Insecure Writers Support Group post early this week as I am scheduled for surgery today to get the kidney stone out that has been plaguing me for a while, and I may not put up another blog post before next Monday. You can read about my battle with the 1 cm kidney stone HERE.

In Salt Lake City where I live I have a few friends that show me their writing and ask for advice. One of them showed me something last night that I thought was really good. It showed great imagination, and I was really entertained by it. I asked him, "Why don't you write more? This could easily be turned into a short story or a novella."

He said, "I have several problems that stop me from writing a complete story. The first is I lack courage to put my writing out there for just everyone to read. The second is that I keep adding to a story and my brain goes wild with all the things I want to do that I'm just out of control and the story becomes a complete hot mess."

It made me think how special all of us are that actually have written "the end" to a project; that manage to see something through to its ultimate finish. And I became really appreciative of that. Lately, I've kind of had this attitude that authors are as common as grains of sand on a beach. But now, I'm not so sure.

So if any of you have been in the same frame of mind that I sometimes find myself in...the one that says "everyone is writing a book," then I want you to step back and remember the story of the guy I just told you about. Everyone is in fact NOT writing a book. And some people who may be born storytellers may never finish one because they have mental "road blocks" in their mind that keep them from realizing a dream. What we manage to just "power" through is an impossible task for others.

As published authors, we are more than just a sum of our word count and our pages. We are people who complete what we start. We are people who manage to tame the conflicting ideas into a cohesive storyline that can be understood by others. And we are all people who have the courage to put our work in front of others to be judged over and over again.

And THAT is in fact nothing to be insecure about.

When I think about the great writers who have died and realize that they will never tell me another story like the ones that deeply touched me, I am sad. But I am also grateful that they had all of the things that made it possible for them to put their story in front of us. If David Eddings didn't have courage, I would have never been touched by the story of Belgarion of Riva. If Anne McCaffery couldn't sort out the hot mess of her mind to finish a book, I would never have met Moretta, Dragon Lady of Pern.

If you think about it, there are a lot of conditions that need to be met before a book lands in front of you on a desk or on your ereader. And that's pretty special, and it's one reason why I think the greatest crime ever committed in history was the destruction of the Library of Alexandria.

All of those stories lost because ignorant savages saw no value or even contemplated what it takes to write a book. And the world has paid for it ever since.

Monday, March 4, 2013

A Grand New Age of Boom or Dust? M. Pax is the new Joss Whedon

I really love this cover art. Go Mary!
Boomtown Craze, Book 3 in the Backworlds series is here!

In the far future, humanity settles the stars, bioengineering its descendents to survive in a harsh universe.

To secure his future, Craze must propel his world into a more prosperous era. Only days away from the grand opening of his new and improved tavern, he is confronted by a loony Backworlder intent on mucking up his plans. Gaunt and trembling, she claims her spaceship is possessed. She also has a connection to the underworld that shakes loose the dark past of one of Craze’s closest friends. It all threatens to end Craze’s prosperity before it begins.

Meanwhile off world, Captain Talos works desperately to outwit the mercenary Jixes and lure them away from his and Craze’s budding prospects. The mind-control weapon Talos uses against them is wearing thin, and his next move may be his last.

Will Craze and Talos’s efforts bring about a grand new age of boom or damn them to forever struggle in the dust?

Available in ebook at:

Other Outlets can be found at

It will also be available in paperback from Amazon shortly.
M. Pax is a Browncoat and SG fan, she’s also slightly obsessed with Jane Austen. In the summers she docents as a star guide at Pine Mountain Observatory where the other astronomers now believe she has the most extensive collection of moon photos in existence. No fear, there will be more next summer. She lives in stunning Central Oregon with the Husband Unit and two lovely, spoiled cats.

You can also find M. Pax on LinkedIN, Pinterest, YouTube, and Wattpad

From March 4 to March 22, folks can enter to win the following:

1 set of signed Backworlds paperbacks, including The Backworlds, Stopover at the Backworlds’ Edge, and Boomtown Craze. Will only ship to US residents.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
One of five free ebooks. All countries eligible. Enter the rafflecopter for a chance.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
The new frontier #scifi Boom or dust? Boomtown Craze - Book 3 in the Bacworlds series #kindle #nook all ereaders

Miss Firefly? #scifi Try the Backworlds. Boomtown Craze - Book 3 - Book 1 is #FREE #kindle #nook all ereaders
Miss Firefly? Try the Backworlds. Book 1 is FREE for all ereaders. Life on the galactic frontier. Will it be boom or dust? Boomtown Craze, Book 3, is now out. WIN books. Paperbacks and ebooks up for giveaway

Friday, March 1, 2013

Who could have predicted that Sweet Home Alabama would make fiction writers obsess over fulgurite for more than a decade

"Sweet Home Alabama" (the movie) came out in 2002 and remains one of my favorite romantic comedies of all time. I just love the story and everyone is just absolutely perfect in it. But one of the best scenes in the movie is when the whole thing comes full circle, and Reese realizes that the one love of her life is now a successful glass blower selling fulgurite sculptures in his shop. What is fulgurite you might ask? It's what happens when lightning strikes sand. At the beginning of the movie, two kids are kissing on the beach, and lightning strikes a metal rod that sticks out of the sand, creating a breathtakingly beautiful glass sculpture.
Now, fulgurite is never as pretty as it is in the movie "Sweet Home Alabama." But that hasn't stopped it from cropping up in the popular CW show "Supernatural" as an ingredient to summon "Death" or from new age hippies finding it on beaches to make cheap jewelry that they purport is infused with "magical energy." It's even in the horrible Hillary Swank movie "The Reaping" as fulgurite wind chimes.

Who could have predicted that "Sweet Home Alabama" would make fiction writers obsess over fulgurite for more than a decade?

Sometimes I think there's this collective unconscious of fiction writers out there who are so driven to be "original" that they all go in search of something weird that supposedly "no one" has used before and it all channels down to one thing that everyone IN FACT uses. In this situation, I think fulgurite has been picked over for ten years in just about anything that has to do with paranormal stuff.
Fulgurite in Sweet Home Alabama
Real Fulgurite
I mean...fulgurite is one of those things that logically, I should know nothing about. Yet I'm completely informed about it because it's in basically every show that I've watched because paranormal fiction is so hot (and has been hot for about a decade). Like you don't even need to explain what it is to me anymore (and I'm thankful that I saw "Sweet Home Alabama" years ago because that explanation is part of the love story).

If someone name drops "fulgurite" I'd be like "Oh yeah...the Winchesters used it to summon 'Death' in this one episode and then in last week's episode, Dean learned he could get 'fulgurite' in a new age shop and oh Hilary Swank had it in 'The Reaping' but it isn't as pretty as the one that was in 'Sweet Home Alabama'...I TOTALLY know what fulgurite is girlfriend..." and I'm sure that the person I was talking to might be mortified because I just took something that they thought was original and showed's been done to death and you really should think of something else :(

I sorry. Anyway, now you too know what fulgurite is. May you find some on the beach and remember the words from "Sweet Home Alabama", the show that gave us the best version of fulgurite:

"[T]hat's what happens when lightning strikes..."

And in a love story, a lightning strike is the most important thing. Have a great weekend.