Stormtrooper Terry

Stormtrooper Terry

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The 2014 Year in Movies

It's New Year's Eve, and that means that before the partying and excessive drinking begins later, it's time to enjoy my look back at the best and worst movies of the year. The usual caveat applies: I didn't see every single movie that came out this year because come on now, so it's just a round-up of the movies I did see. Also, no reviews, just a list, and maybe a few comments. But probably just a list, because I've got a ton of stuff to do today and about four hours left to do it in. And, as usual, I'll be giving out two awards at the end; The Ghostie (named in honor of Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance for painfully obvious reasons), to the absolute worst movie of the year, and The Jimmy, to my favorite movie (but not necessarily the "best") of the year. So let's dive on in with our first category

The Worst Movies (Half a star... or less)
Devil's Due
I, Frankenstein
The Legend of Hercules  (Not the version with the Rock, if you were wondering)
Two Night Stand  (It kills me to hate a Miles Teller movie, but this was awful)

The Good Movies (4 stars)
The Amazing Spider-Man 2  (I know it had its mistakes, but what it did right worked for me)
Big Hero 6
The Drop  (I'd say Tom Hardy can do no wrong, but Locke came out this year too...)
St. Vincent 

The Great Movies (4.5 stars)
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Gone Girl  (one of these things is not like the other...)
Guardians of the Galaxy
X-Men: Days of Future Past

The Best Movies (5 stars)
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Wish I Was Here

And now, the awards!

The Ghostie goes to...

This movie was pure shit on wheels... or wings, I suppose. Just completely irredeemable. And the award it gets for this is the detestable Nicolas Cage as Ghost Rider pissing hot fire garbage all over it.

And finally, The Jimmy goes to...

Easily my favorite movie of the year. I could gush over it for paragraphs. Or you could go read the link above to where I initially reviewed it because I'm too damn lazy to gush right now. It joins the list of Jimmy recipients that started back in 2007 with Dan in Real Life and has gone on over the years to include Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, (500) Days of Summer, Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World, Warrior, Silver Linings Playbook, and most recently The Spectacular Now.

There ya go. If anybody out there would like to share your own take on this year's best and worst movies, feel free.

And just in case I'm in no shape at all to post this message tomorrow, Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Goodreads Book Review - The Magician's Land

The Magician's Land (The Magicians, #3)The Magician's Land by Lev Grossman

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Honestly, this is one of the most predictable books I've ever read. The author alternates between two different story lines that of course dovetail together, but unfortunately they do it in very predictable ways. Everything from character reappearances to relationships to plot devices can be seen coming a mile away; except when they can't because they make no sense whatsoever and go completely unexplained. Grossman also has a tendency to spend pages on little things and glide completely over big things, but that's one of his style quirks I've grown used to. None of the above, however, takes away from the fun of the story, which boils down to the characters. I really like them and the way they've all grown while managing to stay the same people. The ending is pretty perfect, too, and there's more than enough magical action to keep people happy. It's billed as the final part of the Magician's trilogy, but with the way it ended and with a TV show on the way, I wouldn't be at all surprised for there to be more coming soon.

View all my reviews

"Big Hero 6" Review - Written by Jim Herling

Monday, December 8, 2014

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Goodreads Book Review - Doctor Who: Lights Out

Lights OutLights Out by Holly Black

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Much like the story before this one, Neil Gaiman's "Nothing O'Clock" about the Eleventh Doctor (my personal favorite Doctor), what Black does so right here is nail her Doctor's voice. I could hear Twelve delivering the lines, picture his face in my mind, etc. And it's entertaining as hell just for that. What she does wrong, though, is write a far too breezy story. It's very short, possibly the shortest in the series, and easily the most superficial, which was disappointing. Maybe it's because Twelve was still new while she was writing this and she didn't have much to go on, I don't know. The ending was very easy to guess. She also harped on eyebrow jokes way too much; yes, we all love the Attack Eyebrows, but don't beat it to death in a thirty page story. That's just weak.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Goodreads Book Review - Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography

Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own AutobiographyNeil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography by Neil Patrick Harris

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It should come as no surprise to me that NPH is as good at writing as he is at everything else. He tells the story of his life, both personal and professional, with wit, charm, soul, and honesty, and he uses the clever choose your own adventure conceit wonderfully to show the different, usually ludicrous, ways his life could have gone (although, full disclosure, I felt the conceit didn't work as well as an ebook, the way I read it, as it would with a hard copy, but I still love the idea). The testimonials from other people were nice touches as well, and someone like me could certainly enjoy the drink recipes included. My only complaint is that some topics felt like they were just touched upon superficially because they were expected and he could have gone much deeper. Still it's his legen-wait for- oh the hell with it, you know the joke already-dary life, I'm just reading it. And enjoying the hell out of it, too.

View all my reviews

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Goodreads Book Review - Side Jobs

Side Jobs: Stories From the Dresden Files (The Dresden Files, #12.5)Side Jobs: Stories From the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Having just finished Changes a book or so ago, I dived into this collection of short Dresden-related stories before going back to the main narrative with Ghost Story, since the final story here bridges the gap between the former (or is that Fomor?) and the latter. As with most anthologies, I found it tough to settle on a rating, as not all the stories are of the same quality; the first one in particular is a bit rough. But eventually they all step up and show the same flair for character and action Butcher shows in all his novels, and the last few are just great. It's definitely a recommended read for part of the Dresden Files. It might even be fun to read them along with the novels in the proper chronology. Just make sure you don't read it before Changes!

And an aside... in at least two of the stories here Harry mentions how he hates hats and doesn't wear them but maybe he should start, and I remember him saying that in a book or two as well. So why is he wearing a hat on the cover of every single book??

View all my reviews

Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Thankful Stormtrooper, 2014 Edition

Getting harder and harder to find ones of these I haven't used before...

Here we are again, another Thanksgiving, another installment of the SSTAS traditional list of thanks. Yes, it needs a catchier name. No, I'm not thankful for your complaints (I'm also not thankful for mass text messages and the endless responses from people I don't know, but I digress). Anyway. This is the yearly post where I make mention of all the things I'm thankful for in my life as a way to show my gratitude and, dare I say it, love.

For the first time, this list will not be headed off by the ambrosia that is Jameson Irish Whiskey. No, the number one thing I'm grateful for this year is the love of my life, Marisa. Everything in my life has been better since she came along, and she's stood by me through some really dark times already in what has been, despite the dark times, the best year of my life because of her. She really is an amazing woman, and I'm happier with her than I ever thought possible. We've taken our relationship to the next level now as we're living together, and everything is just wonderful.

I'm grateful for the love of my grandmother, who I miss beyond words. I'm spending a quiet Thanksgiving alone today for a lot of reasons, but mostly because the idea of going to a party and celebrating without the woman who cooked every Thanksgiving turkey I've ever eaten doesn't feel right just yet. But I'm still immensely thankful for her memory and for her love and for all the things she imparted to me. I'm a better person because of her.

Now I'm thankful for the wonderful libation that is Jameson. Sheesh, that took awhile.

I'm thankful for my family. It's smaller now than it was before, but in some places there's a closeness there that was missing before. Old wounds are healing slowly, and that's always nice.

I'm grateful for my circle of friends, who are always there for me. In some ways it's smaller than it was before, but in other ways it's larger than ever. I love these people, even if I don't see them enough, especially now. It's nice to know with some bonds distance is meaningless.

As always, I'm thankful for writing. The writing of others in all means and mediums that I get to enjoy and my own writing as well. In the last six or seven months I've taken some strides in that regard; I'm still not getting paid for any of it, but it's being seen by more people than ever, and it's already led to another opportunity or two... still unpaid, though. I'd be really thankful if that could change!

That wraps my list up for now. If anyone would like to share what they've been thankful for, I'd love to read it. Let's talk about it and share our gratitude, folks!

God, that was corny. Forget I said that.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

TV Roundup: Constantine, The Flash, Gotham, and Gracepoint

Now that the new shows I decided to try out this season have all gotten a good number of episodes under their belt, I figured it's a good time to throw my opinions about them out there (or that's just a rationalization for the laziness that has seen me putting off writing about each show separately for weeks now. Six of one, half dozen of the other, y'know how it goes... and hey, cut me some slack, it's not like I moved to a different state or suffered a death in the family or anything. Oh, wait, that's right...). But first, let's pour one out for the fifth new show I gave a try this year and wrote about already, and the only one that has so far been officially cancelled: Selfie.

How anybody could cancel anything that stars Karen Gillan, my beloved Amelia Pond, is beyond me, especially when the show is actually good, but whatever. Do you, ABC. Do you.

Must... resist urge... to post x-tra large size pic...

Now that that sad yet completely appetizing appetizer is out of the way, let's move on to the shows that brought us here. Or, to paraphrase the great Dusty Rhodes , let's dance with what brung us.

Now I know what you might have heard, but no, Constantine isn't cancelled just yet. Yes, NBC chose not to extend the first season past the initial thirteen-episode order, but that's because they premiered it so late in the season that they only had a chance to air four episodes before the deadline to extend passed. So yes, there was no extension, but that doesn't mean strong ratings won't see it renewed for a second season. And I'm hoping that's the case, because the show is solid. It tells good stories that are dark and supernatural, and are usually very surprising, and does it with a very good cast. Matt Ryan is perfect as John Constantine; he doesn't just look the part, he nails it. His associate Chas is played by the entertaining Charles Halford, who is a perfect straight man to John's con man. The weak link in the cast for me is the "apprentice," Zed, played by Angelica Celaya, who isn't that good. Her delivery is stilted and her emotions are overdone. In the pilot, before casting changes were made, the apprentice part was going to be a character named Liv, played by Lucy Griffiths, who is a better actress and, I can't lie, a personal favorite of mine going back to her days as Maid Marian on a BBC version of Robin Hood a few years ago.

This post is turning out to have more beautiful women in it than I had initially expected...

I'm hoping Constantine does beat the odds and get renewed, because I'm enjoying the hell out of it.

Once you get over the costume (which admittedly looks much better in motion than it does in any promotional stills), it's obvious that the producers of Arrow have created another strong show here. The stories are exciting, the back stories are engaging, and the cast is solid. And this is coming from a guy who generally hates Tom Cavanagh. It took a few episodes to find it's feet, but it certainly has now, and is off and running.

Okay. I hate myself a little for that line.

I've heard the complaints about Gotham. Of course I have. And honestly? Most of them are fair. The show did start out relying too much on foreshadowing. But to be fair, how could it not, given its premise? Also, the mob storyline, which is also the main storyline, is needlessly convoluted, but it gives us the playground that lets Robin Lord Taylor's Penguin shine, which is worth it, because he's one of the three highlights of the show. The other two are Benjamin Mackenzie as James Gordon, who I admittedly had my doubts about but who does a good job as an intense, gritty Gordon; and Donal Logue, who is as perfect as you'd expect as Gordon's corrupt but changing partner, Harvey Bullock. Their dynamic is easily the best part of the show, and it's easily worth ignoring the misadventures of young, emo Bruce Wayne if it means getting to enjoy the pair of them and the burgeoning Penguin.

There's no denying Gracepoint is a well-produced, finely-acted drama, possibly even the best one FOX has produced in years. I knew that right after I watched the first episode. And that isn't because of David Tennant, who I love, or despite Anna Gunn, who I hate. It's just true. It's just that good. I'm sure being adapted from an amazing BBC show helps, and there's the rub, friends: I watched that BBC show. I know what happens. And, unless they go off the rails, I know who the killer is. So in a season when I'm already watching just about twenty shows, why watch one whose central concept is a mystery that I already know the answer to? So I bailed on Gracepoint. When it ends I'll find someone to ask if it's the same killer as the BBC version. If it isn't, I can always go back and watch it fresh then. And if it is, I've lost nothing, and I can always go back and watch it in the off-season anyway. So I guess technically Gracepoint is the only one of the new shows I picked up this season that is getting dropped.

Of course, if things in my new domestic life keep going the way they have been, I'll just end up dropping all these shows for more things on the Food Network anyway.

Friggin' Alton...

Friday, November 21, 2014

Goodreads Book Review - Maul: Lockdown

Star Wars: Maul: LockdownStar Wars: Maul: Lockdown by Joe Schreiber

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is my last remaining Star Wars EU novel I'm going to read, as I'm not on board with the whole rebooted continuity thing. I was hoping, therefore, to go out with a BANG. What I got was just a bang. This novel about Darth Maul, one of the most criminally underused character in the movies, has an interesting premise: the Zabrak Sith is on a mission for Darth Sidious, locked in a prison space station that doubles as a gladiatorial arena. It features a lot of intrigue, but not nearly as much action as you'd expect given that set-up. The action that's there is good, but I wanted more. Also, I get why the stipulation that Maul couldn't rely on the Force was there, but it made things more boring. The characterization is strong, though, especially of Maul, so it's worth a read for that alone.

View all my reviews

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Goodreads Book Review - Changes

Changes (The Dresden Files, #12)Changes by Jim Butcher

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As a writer, there are plenty of times when I come up with a story idea and there's a particular scene (or whole story, if it's a series) that I really want to tell, and the idea of all the stuff I'll have to write before I earn that moment, scene, or whole book just kills me. With that in mind, I have to wonder if finally getting to this book in the Dresden Files was like that for Mr. Butcher, because this book is clearly the culmination of so much of what he's done. I mention all this as a review because there's no way to actually talk about anything that happens because of spoilers. What I will say is the story is full of drama and action. It brought tears to my eyes at one point. I read the last 160 or so pages in one sitting because I just couldn't put it down. And I'm so upset right now that I don't already own the next book, because I'm chomping at the bit to see where it goes from here. Such an amazing book. It's worth reading the other eleven installments just to get to this masterpiece.

View all my reviews

"Dumb and Dumber To" Early Review

If you enjoy the type of movie Dumb and Dumber To is (and if you're unfamiliar with the original Dumb and Dumber or the prequel Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd, the titles really tell you all you need to know), then you'll enjoy this movie, and if you don't, then you won't. It's as simple as that. And I know it's a total cop out to say that in a review but I wanted to get it out of the way now because it's totally true.

This movie is everything you expect it to be; there are no surprises (okay, yes, there are, because there are quite a few plot twists, but you know what I mean). Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels play Lloyd and Harry, of course, and the only difference between this performance and the first one other than how markedly older the characters look is that Daniels didn't seem as comfortable this time around. To me it looked very much like he was trying too hard while Carrey, on the other hand, slid right back into his old character like a glove. Even with what seemed like Daniels' discomfort to me, the guys still had great chemistry and their comedic timing is perfect. They have a strong supporting cast behind them as well, with Laurie Holden, Rob Riggle, and Kathleen Turner all doing great jobs. Riggle even does a great job twice, but you'll see what I mean. The weak spot is Rachel Melvin as Penny, the daughter they're looking for in the trailers. Her attempt to be a young female version of Harry and Lloyd is just annoying and overdone, and she's as painful to watch as she is nice to look at.

And if you've heard rumors that Jennifer Lawrence makes a cameo, she does, but unless you know it's coming you might just miss it...

The Farrelly brothers, Bobby and Peter, directed the movie from a screenplay they co-wrote with no less than four other writers (Sean Anders, Mike Cerrone, John Morris, and Bennett Yellin). While the story and script are obviously by no means smart, the jokes work much more often than they don't, and that's what everyone sees a movie like this for anyway. Plus, the plot is actually really good, with some surprising twists.

As I said before, if you enjoy this type of movie, you'll probably be more than happy with Dumb and Dumber To. This generally isn't my type of movie, and I'm still giving it 3 stars out of 5, so that should tell you something.
Dumb and Dumber To opens everywhere this coming Friday, November 14th.

Friday, November 7, 2014

NaNoWriMo 2014 - Lucifer Lockheed: The Devil's Daughter

Just taking the opportunity to actually do Fiction Friday post for a change, as it is easily one f my most neglected labels (which is a fairly major issue, considering the life path I've chosen for myself, but that's neither here nor there). I'm doing NaNoWriMo this year; that's National Novel Writing Month, in case you don't know. The goal is to write a 50,000 word story between November 1st and November 30th, and so far I'm chugging along. Not nearly fast enough to keep up with the needed word count just yet, but still trudging along. I'm posting the very rough prologue of my story here. I'm also adding a word count widget to the blog so my progress will be up there for all to say.

Because I'm still a child and peer pressure is a great motivator, obviously.

Anyway, wish me luck. And here we go with the prologue.

Did you ever wake up and know, just absolutely, no doubt about it know, that it was going to be a good day?

That's how I felt when I woke up that day. In fact, I didn't just know it was going to be a good day. I knew it was going to be a great day.  The red had settled into my hair nicely, the self-dye job from the night before combining with the expensive as hell salon styling to turn my hair from a mousy brown, clumpy mess into luxurious, vibrant curls of fire. I had had my doubts about a box job from CVS, but I couldn't afford a style and a dye from the salon, so I had to hope for the best. And that's what I got. I now had the kind of hair a guy would love to see in his lap... but we'll get to that later, hopefully.

No, fuck hopefully. We'll definitely get to that later. It's going to be a great day.

After the hair came the contacts. I had wanted to go full black, but freaking my parents out so much that they took me to therapy instead of school would seriously ruin the plan, so I went with a sooty shade of brown called "bistre." Not quite black but definitely the darkest brown I could find, and definitely an improvement over my boring old baby blues. Nobody was going to overlook little old common Lucille Fern Lockheed anymore, not with this hair and these eyes.

And of course, the outfit. It took months of saving all the money I could from the pitiful paycheck I got from my part-time job at the fro-yo dump, but I finally had enough to buy the kinds of things my parents would lock me in the basement for even thinking about wearing: short skirts, booty shorts, scandalously low-cut navel-baring shirts, and corsets. Oh, the corsets. Of course, I could never wear that out of the house; I'd have to wear the good little girl clothes mommy and daddy liked me to wear and make like all the other little sluts and change in school. No more fuzzy sweaters and baggy jeans for me, I'm over that shit. Puberty was very good to me when I hit fourteen, and three years later I was finally ready to let the world know it.

Specifically, the boys. One boy, in particular. One boy that would never look twice at Little Lucille Fern, but who won't be able to tear his eyes away from the brand new Lucifer Lockheed. I'll make damn sure he notices me.

I'll make sure they all notice me, and they'll never forget me.

Best. Day. Ever.

Of course, if you're reading this, it's totally possible it wasn't the best day ever, that shit went so wrong or I fucked up beyond the telling of it and I'm dead and you're all gathered here today to laugh your asses off at the dearly departed. Or maybe I'm not dead.

Maybe it's worse.

And before you ask, with the shit I'm dealing with, with what I'm planning to do, there is definitely such a thing as a fate worse than death. And if things go the way I'm planning them to, a whole lot of people are going to learn that. I just won't be one of them.

So maybe you're reading this because I did it all my way and I'm so popular and amazing and loved... or feared... that you need to know all this for the guaranteed blockbuster movie of my life Ben Affleck is directing. Or maybe it's the movie my father is making him direct about how awesome his little girl is; and I'm talking about my real father, not the asshole downstairs who keeps buying the goddamn pink fuzzy sweaters.

After all, getting Daddy's attention is half the reason I'm doing all this.

The other half is that it's just going to be so fucking fun.

Like I said, best day ever.

But first, the corset. The red one with the black trim today, I think. I tried it on last night and it undeniably hurt like a bitch getting it on; my curves aren’t exactly understated, after all, but it made my tits look amazing.  And they say beauty is pain, right? So it’s totally worth it.

Especially when my pain won’t be the only pain it causes.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Goodreads Book Review - Eleven Doctors, Eleven Stories

Eleven Doctors, Eleven StoriesEleven Doctors, Eleven Stories by Eoin Colfer

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I reviewed Neil Gaiman's short story of the Eleventh Doctor found in this book almost a year ago because that was something I just couldn't wait to read, but it took me a lot longer to get around to and then through the whole story. In a surprise twist for an anthology, I actually enjoyed all the stories here. The authors all feel like they "get" the voice of their particular Doctor right, and that goes a long way towards making the stories enjoyable. Aside from that, they're all smart science fiction stories, and that's always a treat as well. This book is a great read for fans of Doctor Who, but it would also be a fun read for just science fiction fans in general.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Goodreads Book Review - The Slow Regard of Silent Things

The Slow Regard of Silent ThingsThe Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I like the experimental nature of the story; one character, no dialogue, no real action, just a window into the soul really. And I enjoyed it for what it is, especially because I do love the character of Auri. Plus, Rothfuss has a way with words that is always marvelous to experience. Still, that being said, for what this book is, I can't help but wish he had taken the time he spent writing this and used it on more time writing the next installment in the Kingkiller Chronicle, because waiting for that is killing me.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Goodreads Book Review - Turn Coat

Turn Coat (The Dresden Files, #11)Turn Coat by Jim Butcher

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I've been saying almost ad nauseam that Butcher is turning into a better and better writer with each installment in this series, and Turn Coat is no exception. In this eleventh installment he manages to take a character I have reviled ever since his first appearance way back in Storm Front and make me not just care about him but make me actually sad about his overall fate. That's a truly impressive feat. I was also happen to see that, while all the familiar story beats of a Dresden case are here, they're shaken up a bit and are less predictable. As always, Butcher's novels always leave me eager to get started on the next one.

View all my reviews

Saturday, November 1, 2014

"Horns" Review - Written by Jim Herling

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Goodreads Book Review - Night of the Hunter

Night of the Hunter (Companions Codex, #1; Legend of Drizzt, #25)Night of the Hunter by R.A. Salvatore

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

By bringing the full cast of the Companions of the Hall back for this series, Salvatore has brought new (reincarnated?) life into a series that... well, didn't even really need it, because the series never stopped being amazing. Still, adding the old cast of characters to the more recent cast and combining them with a very resurgent drow threat makes for a very thrilling book. Besides the amazing, fun interplay of characters, the action scenes here are some of Salvatore's best, which is really saying something. There's one sequence involving a drow raid on a town that is one of the most pulse-pounding scenes I've ever read, and it really ratchets up the tension for where the story is going. Some people might think we're just retreading old ground here, and to an extent we are, but in a fresh way and with a whole new shine that really makes this an amazing read.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Goodreads Book Review - The High Druid's Blade

The High Druid's Blade (The Defenders of Shannara #1)The High Druid's Blade by Terry Brooks

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I know a lot of people seem to disagree with me, but I think this is the best entry in the Shannara series I've read in some time. I enjoyed the characters immensely and I liked the plot, as it was somewhat different from the usual fare. Yes, there were similar elements, but overall things went differently. I think a fun new villain was introduced, and I'm glad I enjoyed him since he's apparently the through-line of the new series. This book left me eagerly waiting for the next installment.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

"Tusk" Review - Written by Jim Herling

Sunday, October 5, 2014

The Hardest Blog I've Ever Had to Write

It's been about twelve days since my grandmother passed away. I've been trying to write this since the day after and I've just had nothing. When my grandfather passed I wrote one in two days and it was much easier. Part of that boils down to how prepared I was for my grandfather's death, having known for the better part of a year that his time was coming. My grandmother, on the other hand, was pretty much a sucker punch, one that, despite my tearful outbursts the day of the memorial, the reality of which hasn't sunk in yet. Maybe writing about it, putting some of these feelings down in words will make it easier.

And part of it is just that for thirty-three years, my grandmother was my rock and I can't imagine life without her.

The truth is that in all the ways that matter she was my mother. She raised me. She was always there for me. She took me in and she took my friends in. Everyone who knew her knew how loving and generous she was. I'd never have made it to this point in my life without her help, and I honestly don't know how well I'll make it through from here on out. I've never felt so alone in my life.

I know I'm not alone, I have an amazing girlfriend and friends who love me and I'm sure I'll be alright eventually. But the loss of my grandmother's kindness, generosity, and love has left a hole inside of me that I'm not sure what to do with.

I realize I'm not being my normal coherent self, but the thoughts are hard to pull together. One of the things weighing on me, pulling that hole open, is that I didn't get to say goodbye. She had been in the hospital for about five weeks when she passed, and I hadn't visited her in awhile. I just couldn't afford the bus fare back and forth, and I thought there was still so much time, with her diagnosis being six months to a year. No one told me her diagnosis had been changed to six weeks. And when I found out the doctor suddenly said she had about a week left, I made plans to spend the whole next day at the hospital... but she died that night and I never got the chance. Her level of awareness in the hospital fluctuated from very aware to barely conscious. I'll spend my life wondering if she wondered why I wasn't there and feeling guilty about it. All I can do is remind myself of the first time I went to see her there, when I held her hand and apologized for the way we'd argue sometimes and told her I hoped she knew how much I loved her, and she squeezed my hand and said that was never in doubt.

At the end of the memorial my aunt gave a little speech and ended it by saying that anything good anyone saw in her came from my grandmother. I hate to plagiarize, but the same can be said for me. Whatever there is good anywhere inside of me came from the woman who raised me, the woman I loved and will miss more than words can say.

Goodbye, Grandma. I'm sorry none of us ever called you "Gran." Thank you. I love you.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Goodreads Book Review - Honor Among Thieves

Honor Among Thieves (Star Wars: Empire and Rebellion, #2)Honor Among Thieves by James S.A. Corey

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I've said it before and I'll say it again: it's almost impossible for stories set in the Classic Era starring any of the main characters to have have any stakes at all. It's the biggest reason I lament the death of the Expanded Universe (aside from all the money I've spent on EU novels!). We know nothing can happen to them of any importance that isn't mentioned in the movies, and it's the same here; the book is about the chase for a powerful weapon that we've never heard of before, so we know what has to happen to it eventually. There is, however, an upside to Classic Era stories, and that is that the characters are still young and inexperienced and not the almost perfect adventurers they eventually become. It's fun to see them mess up and not have all the answers. Unfortunately, the author works around that upside by giving us the impossibly perfect new character Scarlet Hark, who is prepared for everything and is just the best spy ever. I was praying for her death, but instead she lives while the other new characters who gave this otherwise boring story any life had to die. The action is generic, as is the dialogue and plot, but the characters could have brought it to life more. Instead, what we got is a just okay story that completionists will obviously read but that everyone else is better off skipping.

View all my reviews

Friday, October 3, 2014

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Goodreads Book Review - Small Favor

Small Favor (The Dresden Files, #10)Small Favor by Jim Butcher

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've thoroughly enjoyed every installment I've read in this series so far, but this tenth book is the first time I've given one five stars and put it on my "favorites" shelf. As all the disparate plot lines throughout the series start to converge or get wrapped up entirely, the stories, which were always good, have kicked up a notch in the last few books, and this one is a masterpiece. The plot is layered and intense. The confrontations are meaningful, between both enemies and friends. And the character relationships take huge steps that break the status quo completely, and not just for the sake of doing so but in ways that happen naturally, and almost unavoidably. I dread catching up with this series completely because I'll hate waiting so long for the new installments once I get there...

View all my reviews

"The Drop" Review - Written by Jim Herling

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Goodreads Book Review - The Herald

The Herald: The Sundering, Book VIThe Herald: The Sundering, Book VI by Ed Greenwood

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I've been fairly hard on the last few Greenwood books, as he always seems to over-stuff them with inconsequential characters and too many tangential subplots for my liking. This book is light-years better than the last because he doesn't do that here (with the exception of one subplot involving Mirt and Manshoon that pops up every few chapters and serves no purpose at all other than to remind us that Greenwood really likes those characters). The plot is straightforward: Elminster and co. have to save the world. From who changes a few times a few times a long the way, as does with who. The characters are vibrant, although the dialogue is clunky as always. The action scenes are well-written. Things are a bit too rushed, though, especially at the end, and a deus ex machina can always be tricky, especially when the deus part is literal. But still, it's a good read, and a decent ending to this "Realms-shaking series," even if the whole series ending up being a case of the more things change, the more they stay the same. My major gripe with the series as a whole is that just about every book focused on Chosen being taken and whatnot, and while this story mentions that a few times, it doesn't play into it at all. I was hoping the conclusion of the series might see a lot of the Chosen from the series working together, but we just get Greenwood's regular crew. A mild disappointment, but the book itself was enjoyable, regardless.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The 2014 Fall Season

Once again, a new season of television is about to befall us, as networks refuse to get away from this archaic method of scheduling that is only used by literally only five channels out of hundreds out there. But since they still insist on doing it this way, I'm back with my yearly tradition of putting together a chart of what interests me this season, what channel it's on what night, and when it starts.

Also because I have a lot of free time on my hands. And also because I'm getting old and I honestly don't know if I can remember when some of this shit is on without this...

You should obviously click to enlarge...

A couple of thoughts on the schedule, as always. I'm starting out with twenty-one shows, one show less than last year's list. Of the twenty-two I started with last year, eight aren't present this year because of planned finales, cancellations, or me no longer giving a crap. There are six new shows on this year's list waiting to see if they make the cut: Gotham, The Flash, Constantine, Gracepoint, Intruders, and Selfie. The latter two, by the way, have already made the cut; I spoke about them both a little bit here. And yes, for you mathophiles out there, I know the numbers don't add up... the difference is that Glee is a mid-season replacement for its final season this year so it isn't on this list. I expect the new shows to all make the cut, given the subject matter and my predilections, but I guess we never know. The four of them I haven't already spoken about will get reviewed when the time comes.

Until then, let's have a chat! Did I miss anything? What are you guys looking forward to watching? Let's here it!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Monday, September 8, 2014

Goodreads Book Review - Razor's Edge

Razor's Edge (Star Wars: Empire and Rebellion, #1)Razor's Edge by Martha Wells

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

There was a time when I became excited whenever a new novel set in the Classic Era starring the big three came out; it was fun to see them as I remember them from the trilogy, more inexperienced, relationships rawer, lives unencumbered by everything the Expanded Universe piled on over the years. But that time passed for me, replaced with excitement over EU stories set in the future because, honestly, those books have stakes that a book like Razor's Edge just can't. Characters occasionally die in the future of the EU, even important characters, and in a story set between ANH and ESB, those stakes just aren't there, no matter how hard the author tries. And Wells does try; this is a story where the stakes constantly ratchet higher, with the heroes finding no relief til the end... but again, nothing of consequence could happen. And for me personally, it really doesn't help that this was Leia-centric, because I hate her. SO yes, I didn't enjoy this book, but I'm giving it two stars because I realize my disdain for the circumstances of it might have colored my opinion of the author's story, which was decently crafted and featured an interesting emotional story. But the action scenes were far too quick and simple and, honestly, if you're going to have a mystery about a traitor, don't have one character be hated by everybody else from the very start of the book. It telegraphs it just a touch...

View all my reviews

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Catching Up With a TV Cavalcade!

So it's been three and a half months since I've written a blog about anything other than a movie or book review, and six and a half months since I've written one about television. This has been due to a plethora of reasons: first it was the ridiculous schedule I was working, then it was the distractions of the advancements of my movie-reviewing projects, then it was the ongoing situation of my grandmother still in the hospital, and now it's the fact that if I don't find a job soon I won't need to worry about sticking to a diet because I flat-out won't be able to afford any food (seriously, my financial situation is bad. I need a job. Nowish. So if you know of any, e-mail me. Text Me. Smokescreens. Whatever. You get the point.) But if you think I haven't been watching television in all that time just because I haven't been writing about it, you've gone crazy crackers. I've been watching. And keeping notes. I've got sixteen(!) different subjects from the last six months to hit on.

It's a veritable TV Cavalcade!

But a short cavalcade because, y'know, sixteen topics, I'm obviously not gonna say much about them all, right? So it's like a pellet cavalcade. Or something.

Leave me alone, I'm tired.

Let's start with some replacement shows from last season I never got around to...

I watched the entire season and for the most part I enjoyed it. The cast was solid, and the whole non-zombie living dead people was an interesting mystery... that they did absolutely nothing with except drop some vague hints. I don't like mysteries that go nowhere towards a resolution, that just get worse and worse. I've been burned before, so I'm on the fence about coming back for season two of this one.

I dropped this one as soon as I realized it was the exact same show as Touch but without Kiefer Sutherland. And from the looks of how fast it got canned, I wasn't the only one.

I really wanted to like this CW version of the Lord of the Flies set on a post-apocalyptic Earth. While obviously not breaking any new ground from the description, the pilot was well done and I liked the cast. But when I went back for the second episode, I realized I just didn't care at all, so I dropped it.

Now let's move on to a few events...

I was. Oh holy hell was I ever. And that's why, despite being a season filled with some awesome moments (that fight between the Mountain and the Viper, for example) there was one hands down greatest moment of the season:

Speaking of events, HIMYM ended!

After a final season that was almost good enough to make up for how bad the show had gotten in recent years, we got a finale that undid the entire final season. Wonderful. A whole season takes place at Barney and Robin's wedding, only to have them divorce in the finale so she can end up with Ted because that's what the whole show was about the entire time. Ted and Robin. And the Mother just dies off-screen, an afterthought in a show that teased fans about how for years. Someone should have told the writers that teasing is only fun if there's a release at the end. Otherwise, it's just blue balls. And they, like the HIMYM finale, are awful.

And speaking of awful finales...

Using this picture because LaLa, hookers.

After multiple seasons of how much Sookie hates Bill and wants nothing to do with him and loves other guys, the entire finale is about how she loves him too much to kill him, until she decides she loves herself enough to kill him because he wanted her to have a normal life and not love a vampire. Which she may or may not do anyway, because in a half-assed epilogue she's got a bear full of TruBlood and a new man who's face we never see, so is he a vampire or not? Who knows. But it was a completely boring crapfest of an ending, from start to finish. The only highlights were Pam doing what she does best, and Hoyt being back. There was barely any Lafayette, and that, above anything else, was unacceptable.

Revolution ended too, by the way, but it ended as it lived: with nobody giving a crap except those of us hate-watching the fuck out of it. Good riddance.

Now, how about some premieres and finales all rolled into one?

Boy, was I glad to see that ticking clock back. I always loved 24, and it was awesome having Jack Bauer back and doing his thing again. Yes, the show was formulaic, from the plot twists every third of the season to the inevitable good guy traitor to the reveal of the real big bad, and yes, we saw almost all of it coming. But it was still a fun as hell thrill ride. My only complaint is that, as always, it had one hell of a depressing ending. Damn it, Chloe!

I wanted to like this a lot more than I did. It had vampires, demons, werewolves, Frankensteins
(no, the plural is not a typo), Dorian Gray, a werewolf, and Timothy fucking Dalton all combined in interesting ways. Add that to a whole lot of violence and sex and beautiful women (although I have to admit I'm actually tired of seeing Eva Green naked at this point, bitch can never just keep her kit on anymore) and you've got the recipe of a great show. And I watched it start to finish and it interested me about as much as it also bored me. But I'm still on board for season two, so they must be doing something right.

And now for some decidedly less happy notes.

I watched the first season, and it was alright. And then I read the book and was so annoyed by the changes the show had made that it was fucking dropped before the second season even started. It was awful by comparison, and I wasn't about to suffer through that nonsense.

I might be one of the only people in the world who enjoyed the movie Legion, of which this show is a spin-off, so I was very excited to give the show a try. It's a post-apocalyptic story about a war on Earth between angels for the fate of mankind, the kind of story anyone who knows me will tell you is right up my alley and has been for about twenty years now. Sure, the movie wasn't great, but it had a decent cast, decent acting, and decent special effects. The TV show, sadly, as none of that. The cast sucks and the show was boring as hell. Even Anthony Stewart Head, for whom my love knows no bounds, was awful because they had him using an American accent that was about as much an assault on the senses as anything I can imagine. Plus, it's on the damn SyFy channel. Ugh. I dropped it after one episode.

I tried with this one. I really did. It has a solid cast, an interesting premise, and is a really well-produced show from top to bottom. I gave it four episodes but then I just couldn't do it anymore. It isn't that the mystery wasn't going anywhere; I get that the show was less about the mystery than it was about how people lived after what happened, and as much as not knowing the answers vexes me, I could live with that. The problem was that the show was just too damn depressing! I might give it another chance when it's all over and I can binge watch it, depending on the reviews it gets as a whole season, but for now, I just can't.

But it's not all bad, there's been some TV out there I've been enjoying!

And I ain't the least bit ashamed to admit it, either. Yeah, it's the Disney channel, so it isn't exactly advanced, thought-provoking programming or anything, but it's cute and funny and as a huge Boy Meets World fan, I just love seeing Cory and Topanga again. And the kids are pretty talented as a cast, too. Yes, the plots are often rehashes of old BMW plots, but who cares? Not the point. The only problem is, it needs more original cast cameos! So far all we've gotten is a quick Feeny sighting and an appearance by Minkus, of all people. I need Shawn and Eric and the rest of the Matthews and, above all, more Feeny, dammit. Feeeeeeeny!

This vampire series is weird as fuck, which is no surprise considering the involvement of Guillermo Del Toro. The cast, with the exception of David Bradley and Kevin Durand, is kind of weak, but the story and effects make up for it. I've read the trilogy it's based on and I know it has a fairly unique take on vampires going for it and it goes in some interesting directions, and I'm enjoying watching it play out on the screen. So far, FX is getting it right with this one.

Speaking of weird shows, this one is on top of the list. We're two episodes in and all I can tell you about the plot is that it has something to do with dead people taking over living people's bodies, but I'm not sure how yet and if they're ghosts or what the hell is going on. it's got a superb cast, though, which is no surprise considering it's from the BBC. The acting is topnotch so far and it's got me hooked. And before you ask, yes, there's a Doctor Who connection.

And the mention of Doctor Who brings me right to the last topic in the cavalcade...

Yes, that's Doctor Who's Amelia Pond, the lovely Karen Gillan. The pilot of her new ABC comedy, Selfie, premiered early. It's an update of My Fair Lady, with Karen playing Eliza Dooley, an absolutely absurd character obsessed with just about every form of social media possible and living the kind of life we'd expect that sort of vapid twit to live. After an incident that ruins her image completely, she goes to John Cho's Henry (no last name given yet) to rebrand her and basically make her into a better person. The results are hysterical. Aside from being funny with natural jokes, the show even rhymes a bunch, which I love. And as for the stars, the two of them have great chemistry together, and Gillan in particular is as good as she's been in everything else so far. Cho's straight man act is a great counter to her vapidness. But, no disrespect to Cho, Gillan is the real star here. She's got a great presence, great delivery and timing, and yes, elephant in the room, it doesn't at all hurt that she looks like this:

Selfie is the first show of the new season I've seen and the first one that's definitely added to my watch list. As the new season draws near my TV blogging presence will increase. Coming up possibly as soon as tomorrow will be my annual grid of all the shows I plan on watching, and as new shows premier hopefully I'll have some in-depth posts about what's good and what isn't. Until then...

I dunno, go watch some reruns or something.

I need a catchphrase.