Archive for May, 2009

Garden successes

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

… so far, anyway.

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Peppers!

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Herbs!

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I forget what these are. One of these is a hot pepper.
The others are… a surprise, I guess.

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Green beans!

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 Maters! They are surrounded by barbed wire, armed guards and lasers.
Or will be, if that stupid rabbit gets through the fortress we built…

Star Trek

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

startrek_gallerylogo1.jpgYou either love the Star Trek franchise and were going to go no matter or what, or you’re human and breathing and saw the bad ass trailers. Hopefully, if you haven’t made it out yet you’ll find your bottom in a theater seat soon… because it’s totally worth it.

My parents were Trekkers for the Original Series, and my sister and I grew up with The Next Generation. I didn’t care for Deep Space Nine when it aired, but I caught a lot of it on syndicate a couple years ago and liked it much more. I enjoyed Voyager, although I didn’t see much of it. I admit I never watched any of Enterprise.

~

The new movie was good. Great, even. It was sexy enough, campy enough, modern enough, gritty enough. A revitalization of the entire franchise, easy.

The casting was perfect. Chris Pine, who I doubted could pull it off, plays a believable Kirk that is fearless, foolish, quick on his feet and willing to get the job done no matter what. Zachary Quinto’s Spock is more emotional than the Nimoy’s Spock, but I found his struggle refreshing since I never remembered that Spock was half human in the series and OS movies. The secondary characters had bigger parts than before, too. Sulu? Delightful. Chekov? Freakin’ adorable. I wanted to pinch his little hyper-active, eager-to-prove-himself cheeks. Uhura was sexy and smart. Bones was lovably cranky, as usual. DeForest Kelly would have been proud. Neo was a convincing bad guy, and Kirk’s Commander Pike was exactly everything that I had imagined him to be.

And Scotty? Good lord. Simon Peg plays the perfect Scotty. There is a point in the movie when Kirk says “Let’s get out here”, and as we were sitting in the theater I thought to myself: “If this movie is to pass my test with any sense of worthiness, they will not be able to get away and Scotty will say what I am dying for him to say.” And they couldn’t and he did say it, and my arms shot up in the air in triumph. I would say I embarrassed myself but it was a theater full of Trekkers and so there is no place for misplaced enthusiasm.

The movie was also beautiful. Whether they were on-planet, on a ship or in outer space, the settings and environments were beautiful. The sound was spectacular, both in the effects that made the environments believable and the music. The technology design was wonderfully authentic-looking, and the special effects and fighting looked real (can I get an “Amen” for no obvious wire work?). Everything worked together to lend credibility to the current movie while paying homage to where this highly successful franchise began.

And now to the story: I liked it. I was a good basic movie plot, and a good choice for Star Trek. I won’t go into too many details, but events unfolded in a natural way, with all the right OMG moments. Nobody’s introduction felt that forced, and things went bad in the way they should have. Major kudos on the dialogue, too. There were a few phrases that gave me chills*. And wow, just wow: it takes some serious cajones to effectively wipe out one of the pinnacle alien species in the series.

There were only two things I had issues with. One, a black hole is a proven space anomaly. It is not an all-purpose Time Machine / planet destroyer / hang-out spot for bad guys. And the return of an original crew member? Meh. He is iconic, true, and his return was a big part of the plot, but… meh. The most boring part of the movies were the ones that involved him. He is too old, and I felt he hobbled through the part.

Still, consider the torch effectively passed. And one can consider the franchise truly rebooted since the timeline is all jumbled now and no one knows what’s going to happen next. I think I read the cast has signed on for two more movies, and I’m thrilled — I can’t wait for the next installment.

*”Your father was captain for 12 minutes and saved 800 lives. I dare you to do better.” Man, that’s good.

“Patiently crouched at the starting line…”

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

There are certain times during the year that demand contemplation on the Future. New Year’s is one of those times for many people, but I find myself also thinking about things when the seasons change. It just so happens my birthday is at that part of the year where Western PA is debating between snow and summer-like heat (it usually just settles on rain). And since there’s changes afoot in the natural world, there may as well be potential changes afoot with me, my age and my plans.

I already mentioned I’m taking the summer off to write, and it’s a good thing too — I’ve decided on a deadline for the culmination of my David trilogy. My brother graduates high school in May 2010, and I’d like to hand him a little set of the trilogy as a graduation present. I began The Sum of David in 2005 as a gift for him, so I think it appropriate to present him with a set of the finished product when he’s beginning a new chapter in his life.

I’ll even put some money in there, so he doesn’t have to pretend to be excited.

That’s almost an entire year. A year sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? You’d think so, but no: my first editor has had my 3rd draft manuscript for David 2 for going on five months now. So in order to get it through the hands of at least three editors by May 1st, when I would send away to get the one-off books made, I’m going to need a completed first draft by… next Tuesday, probably.

Surprisingly, I’m actually almost ready to get started. I need to sift through David 2 once before it goes to Editor #2 — who, by the way, agreed so quickly to edit yet another of my stories that I could have cried — and then I’m back in the races, ready to rock.

Dare I say it, @joshsager? The next six months will be very interesting.

It’s that time of year again. Magic’s in the air.

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X-men Origins: Wolverine

Monday, May 4th, 2009

ill_18.pngLet me preface this by saying that as far as Marvel comic geekery goes, I am maybe 2 1/2 out of five stars, TOPS. On a good day. If the synapses are firing and I dreamed I was a student at the X Mansion the night before.

Which is why I feel only a pang of treachery when I shrug and say: I kind of liked it.

When we left the theater, I was not liking it, but that was mostly because they put a young, fully mobile and ENTIRELY FREAKIN’ CGI CHARLES XAVIER AT THE END. Come ON. I know Patrick Stewart’s no spring chicken, but come the &*$%@ ON. There’s Make up. Or Lighting. Or they could have only show him from behind. Something. A CGI Professor was just unnecessary.

Ahem. Now that that’s out of the way.

The story didn’t match up with Wolverine’s previously explored origin stories, but it was… okay. If you looked at the movie as completely separate from any previous Wolverine material, it helped. The green screening was not flawless and the CG had some issues. Some of the dialogue was pretty bad, and I hate obvious wire work. And Gambit… did he get his bowstaff from a wizard or a pimp? Weak.

Despite its many flaws, I actually did enjoy it. Hugh Jackman makes a great Wolverine, and Ryan Reynolds? with swords? Oh, yes please. Wolverine’s romance was sweet, and included a twist I didn’t see coming. Barring some truly heinous fire escape ridiculousness, most of the gratuitous over-the-top action scenes were still fun*. The soundtrack was smokin’, and super-powers in general are just fun.

Plus, I wasn’t that familiar with Deadpool before the movie, but I’d be interested in seeing more of him, at least before [spoiler].

All in all, worth the price of admission. Wolverine is just a bad ass, pure and simple, and it’s fun to watch him be all bad ass-y, even when he’s doing it around bad CGI and cardboard dialogue.

*Kill an airborne helicopter with your bare hands and I’m yours.