Apparently my last post according to Google was at the end of May. For me, life has become quite hectic and busy with grad school and work dominating more and more of my time and energy. Due to some staffing difficulties at my job I am being forced to take a good many on-call shifts where I have to work extra aside from my typical shifts (which have been increasingly draining). Then when I am not working I am partaking in grad school work, homework, projects, and lots of academic reading (which is extraordinarily boring). There is very little time for self-care and relaxing, or even having fun. Of course as a result of all of that, my writing has taken a beating (as have many other aspects of my life); I have not been doing any as I feel like I am in survival mode right now. The world certainly hasn't improved either since my last post, and has gotten worse with the crisis in Iraq growing, Syria still burns and rages on, Afghanistan is threatening to splinter, Ukraine is getting better but still is in the throes of danger from Russia, there is a child humanitarian crisis occurring in the U.S., and it seems as if the United States is loosing more and more allies with each passing month, or fracturing relationships with other nations. Even though I didn't live back during the 70's it really seems like history is repeating itself; doubt, fear, no faith in government, scandal plaguing the U.S. federal government, and despotism and radical terrorism on the rise. Essentially, things aren't looking up, not to mention that many of the economic systems of the world remain quite shaky. It would seem that the people of the world need a large boost of confidence and competence...or rather the leaders of the world's nations. Keeping in tune with the post's rather humdrum nature so far, I saw Transformers: Age of Extinction recently and was reminded that once again Michael Bay should move on to something else. Very loud, very computer animated, and very violent and destructive; not a very good combination when you have lousy screenwriting and poorly directed action sequences. The bright spots to the film were Kelsey Grammar (as an excellent villain) and Stanley Tucci as a world class scientist creating his own transformers. More bright spots to the film were no Shia LeBeouf or his character's parents, as well as some other obnoxious reoccurring characters. Mark Wahlberg is an excellent actor, but it wasn't his fault (or any other character) that the story and screenplay were atrocious (seriously, people get paid thousands and possibly millions of dollars to just write usually 135 pages of material and they can't even write something even a little bit decent). The film was incredibly deafening, and the action sequences were relentless. None of the action had any real taste or ingenuity behind it; there was no flow, just brute tactics, no dynamism. If all you want from a film is action, then you are watching the right film. For someone like me though that has seen high quality acting, high quality writing, and high quality directing and amazing action sequences (George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Ridley Scott, and Bryan Singer) it is a very difficult film to watch. It's like when you've eaten really good chocolate or cheesecake, it's hard to go back and eat the not so great stuff. May sound snobbish, but it's the plain and simple truth. If you want a great action flick I would suggest X-Men: Days of Future Past. That film demonstrates two things: Bryan Singer is the only person who can create well made X-Men films, and the film also stands as a great example of an action film that has excellent acting, dynamic action, and good writing. To end on some good news, I have less than a year of school remaining before I graduate with my Master of Arts in Industrial and Organizational Psychology! Very excited about that; now all that remains is surviving up to that point.
Transformers: Age of Extinction trailer
Hemlock Grove season 2 trailer (just started watching it, pretty intense so far)
So I got up bright and early this morning and went and saw X-Men: Days of Future Past. When I first heard of the film and saw the previews and trailers, I thought that it would be dreadful, but after my experience today, I discovered that was not the case. Bryan Singer directed the first X-Men film, and second, and should have directed the 3rd and spinoffs as well. Between him and the writer Simon Kinberg, they produced one of the most excellent Marvel based films I've seen. It is dark, well written, a fantastic cast along with fantastic acting, and well filmed. I really enjoyed the film. Honestly, there isn't enough good things that I could say about the film currently. Hugh Jackman, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Ian McKellen, James McAvoy, Patrick Stewart, Peter Dinklage, Ellen Page, Nicholas Hoult, Halle Berry, Shawn Ashmore, and Evan Peters (Quicksilver) all contributed to make a rather splendid film. Peter Dinklage played a great villain, although I occasionally thought of Tyrion Lannister when he spoke. The best part of the acting scenes involved Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, James McAvoy, and Hugh Jackman; very well written. I do have to say that I was impressed. The Sentinels from the future were impressive both visually, and also as villains in the film; they came across as deadly, vicious, and effectively intelligent being essentially the perfect villains. The action sequences were dynamic, impressive, well done, interesting, and done tastefully. The music by John Ottman was equally good, and it was delightful to hear some familiar themes that he composed for the 2nd X-Men film. He also did a fine job of editing; of bringing two concurrent timelines seamlessly together. As far as action.adventure, and comic book adaptations go, I highly suggest watching this film. It was very enjoyable, but also very dark (which is how I like them) but it really makes the journey that much better. All of the films are weaved together into this one, so that was a nice touch. I'm curious to see what the new film will be like. Oh, and don't forget to stay until the credits are over as there is an interesting foreshadowing of things from the past which will impact the future. I read an article in the Wall Street Journal today about the British Foreign Minister expressing his disappointment and disgust with China and Russia for vetoing a U.N. Security Council Resolution for indicting both the Assad regime and the rebel for war crimes at the Hague. He said something to the extent that it was a travesty of of justice that these two countries opposed this course of action. I'm sure that the rebels fighting Assad are concerning themselves with what the world considers war crimes, and the same for Assad. Both factions are fighting for survival, and human behavior has shown time and time again that when the chips are down and one has everything to lose, the rule book goes out the window, as does morality and ethics. You don't have time for such civilized constructs of reality when you are fighting against a ruthless foe that is determined to utterly, and ruthlessly destroy you. Syria has become an inexcusable, violent mess of which there is no good way to solve the civil war. Egypt is still uncertain, as is Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, and also more recently Thailand. There is so much evil and hate in this world right now, no wonder films like Marvel comic book heroes are so popular; everyone wants to escape reality. God help us all.
In a way the month of May has gone by very fast, but at the same time it has gone by very slowly and thus long at the same time which of course doesn't make any sense but there you have it. I spoke to one of my co-workers today who had a rather fascinating story about someone she saw. So this kid had a friend of his with him, which he pulled a chair out for and pushed in, he was shouting at this friend and telling him what to do, and was freaking out when the friend was getting angry. This is my job, this is what me and my co-workers get to deal with potentially on a daily basis. Makes life so much more interesting. So I watched American Hustle tonight and about fifteen minutes into the film I was bored out of my mind and had thought 40 minutes had gone by. I contemplated stopping the film, but I pushed through, which isn't entirely true. I got on my tablet and played Magic: The Gathering card game and every now and then looked up to see what was going on. Almost two and a half hours long of nothing but shouting, searing, people getting hysterical, and a lot of dramatic nonsense about love, money, and power. All of those themes are great in a story and film, but honestly this film was written very poorly. Christian Bale's character was very interesting and could have been something much more awesome, but it was written terribly. The same thing with Amy Adams and her character; both together had the potential to be amazing, but fell horribly short. Don't honestly know if it came down to chemistry, acting, or truly the writing but that is what I am choosing. Bradley Cooper I wanted to strangle the entire film from the moment he walked on screen to the moment he stepped off. The best part of the entire film, which was a breath of fresh air was Jennifer Lawrence and her character, who was interesting and well written to boot. Why couldn't they have done that with all of the characters. Jeremy Renner's character was boring and ridiculous, but of course had potential. David O'Russell, who wrote and produced the film, has been hailed as a great for this film, which was also raved about by critics and audiences alike; God only knows what they saw in the film as I saw nothing. Don't recommend this film, and I doubt that I will ever watch it again. Not certain how many of you are keeping up with Game of Thrones but it seems that Lannisters are not the only ones keen on paying their debts. Season 4 is shaping up to be the best season yet, possibly because it may have the least amount of flagrant sexual content, but also the story is moving much more fluidly, not as much focus on pointless characters, and the stories are becoming more dynamic and interesting as are the story plots for what is going on. It is also shaping up to be the season where a good number of villains are dying, which is a great change for once. I think the show writers are finally coming up to the fifth book, so it should be interesting to see how George R.R. Martin finishes up the book series or rather contends with the fact that the writers are catching up to him. Well good night everyone.
American Hustle clip
Guardians of the Galaxy trailer 2 (Looks much better now)
Back in 1998 the seed of blockbuster comic book film adaptations of Marvel superheroes began with Wesley Snipes as Blade in the film Blade directed by Stephen Norrington. It was successful, and had three sequels but didn't really have the mass appeal that studios were looking to capitalize on. Enter the new millennium and in the year 2000 the first X-Men film was released directed by Bryan Singer with a fantastic cast and launching Hugh Jackman and Ian McKellen's acting careers to infinity and beyond. It was this film that truly ignited the summer bonanza of comic book film epics, two films and three spin-off films followed, with another one due out in summer 2014. Some of the Marvel adapted superheroes have paid off more than others; Iron Man, Spider-Man and the Avengers have been the most lucrative. The brand of Marvel has become so successful in adapting films, that the market is becoming saturated with films starring the comic book superheroes, and even super-villains. Not including the films that are still being developed, since 1998-2015 there will be at least 35 Marvel produced comic book film adaptations and it appears that it will only increase from that point on. I was 12 years old in 1998 and now I am 28 years old, and in the span of 16 short years there have been more film made from that same topic than anything else: Harry Potter, James Bond, Star Wars, Star Trek, Pirates of The Caribbean, Underworld, Jason Bourne,The Matrix, or Lord of the Rings. I haven't even mentioned DC comics, which includes all of the Superman films, the 3 different Batman strains (Tim Burton, Joel Schumacher, and Christopher Nolan ), and The Green Lantern. Than there are other comic book films like Spawn, Hellboy, and Dick Tracy as well. America's addiction to epic escapism is staggering, but I think it may be related to the peter pan syndrome; not wanting to grow up and become a responsible individual. It is rather interesting (although not altogether suprising) that the majority if not all of these comic book films are targeted towards men, young men, and boys all of whom in American culture on average have been having extraordinary difficulty maturing at young age. A perfect example of America's reflection of American men was a film recently released starring Zac Efron and Seth Rogen called Neighbors. However, that is a discussion for psychological research. I personally believe that Americans will eventually tire of these films, at least I hope. When I was watching the Amazing Spider-Man 2 it seemed boring.....well, kind of like a ride that I've been on several times, and therefore has lost its thrill. Maybe that will happen, maybe not. As long as Hollywood makes money, they will continue to churn out comic book films like a factory. Here is a list of all the Marvel adapted film released since 1998 (I don't think I forgot anything): X-Men, X-Men: United, X-Men: The Last Stand, X-Men: First Class, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, The Wolverine, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2, Spider-Man 3, The Amazing Spider-Man, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, The Fantastic 4, The Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer, Thor, Thor: The Dark World, Catpain America: The First Avenger, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Iron Man 3, The Avengers, The Avengers: Age of Ultron, Blade, Blade II, Blade: Trinity, Hulk, The Incredible Hulk, The Punisher, Punisher: War Zone, Daredevil, Elektra, Ghost Rider, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, and Guardians of the Galaxy. Why don't you try rating them all from most to least favorite? Films being developed are sequels for several of the above mentioned films, a film on Ant-Man, the Sinister Six (Spider-Man villains), Dr. Strange (which could be great if done correctly), Deadpool, and several others I cannot recall currently. DC is also beefing up as well with A Batman vs. Superman film, the Justice League, and possibly rebooting the Green Lantern. I enjoy a lot of these films, but sometimes too much of a good thing can be....well, I'm sure you can figure it all out. I would personally rate The Avengers as the best Marvel produced film yet followed by Captain America: The Winter Soldier, then Iron Man, X-Men: United, The Amazing Spider-Man, and Thor. Who knows how well the new ones will be, or the films that follow afterwards. One thing is for certain though, these days everyone either wants a hero or wants to be a hero; in other words people want to be someone unreasonably exceptional, or be saved by someone unreasonably exceptional (it's all tied to the difficulty America is having with stagnant social mobility). Have a good night everyone.
It seems like the week went by really fast, but was also really long as well. Grad school started up again this week, and thank God there are no statistics involved. Instead I am taking a course in personnel selection and job analysis. I suppose it would sound boring to most people perhaps, but to me it is a rather fascinating subject. It should also be interesting to see my master's project continue to take shape. I have once again given in and now have a Twitter account; merely look me up by name I suppose and voila, there I am. I'm using is mainly to chat about my trilogy, but I've quoted House of Cards as well (how could I not; such an awesome show). It's hard to imagine that May is halfway over already, and that I have a year of graduate school under my belt; I would have never imagined back when I was in high school. So oddly enough on my Netflix queue I had The Life and Death of Peter Sellers, which if you haven't a clue who he is, then that is indeed a bloody shame. He is perhaps most famous for his role in The Pink Panther as Inspector Clouseau, and then Dr. Strangelove in Dr. Strangelove. In this biographical film starring Geoffrey Rush as Peter Sellers, it was definitely a side of the man I had never thought of before when watching his films. If it is accurate, he was a very manic individual, with a short temper, psychotically selfish, and God only knows what kind of mental illness he had. Rush performed perfectly, and I swear that he actually looked like the man himself, mannerisms, looks and everything; it was rather remarkable. The film was also peppered with greats like Emily Watson as the 1st Mrs. Sellers (he had 4 wives), Charlize Theron as the 2nd Mrs Sellers (I think she was supposed to be playing a French woman), John Lithgow as big time Hollywood director Blake Edwards (a longtime collaborator of Sellers'), Stephen Fry as of some sort of mystical guide to Sellers, and Stanley Tucci playing Stanley Kubrick (he was sublime, even though it was a very small part). A tremendous cast, and it was relatively well written by Christopher Markus based off of the book by Roger Lewis. There were times when there were things in the film that didn't make sense, but overall I'd say it was pretty good; I could see myself watching it again. If you like excellent drama then you would like this film, and to top it off it was produced by HBO. Peter Sellers unfortunately died of a heart attack in 1980 at the age of 54. His comedic skills are still making people laugh, but now you get a glimpse of the man behind the laughter and his struggles. There you have it. It is the weekend, so I am going to relax and enjoy myself; I suggest all of you do the same as well, as best as you are able.
Geoffrey Rush as Inspector Clouseau in The Life and Death of Peter Sellers
So I saw The Amazing Spider-Man 2 this morning, and I have to say that I was quite disappointed with what I saw. The special effects were well done, and impressive. The action sequences were....okay, but not as dynamic and invigorating as I had thought that they were going to be. Perhaps the most irritating part of the film was the screenplay; the dialog annoyed me overall in general, but no more so than between Peter Parker and his lover Gwen Stacey. Both Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone are amazing actors, but they were not given much to work with unfortunately. I don't know how much I yawned or rolled my eyes while the two of them were in scenes together, but it was ridiculous. It was like watching to teenagers whine and complain about why they couldn't be in love and all of the angst that comes along with it. It was dreadful, very disappointing, and not as good as the 1st film. Andrew Garfield was a great Spider-Man in the 1st film, and he still has that certain charm in the 2nd film, but he really comes off as this go-lucky, immature frat boy that simply is going along in life getting his thrills and dating "the love of his life." There doesn't seem to be much growth in the character. The same thing goes for Emma Stone and her portrayal of Gwen Stacey, more growth/depth would have been nice rather than all of the silly romantic crap occurring. Jamie Foxx as Electro/Max Dillon was perhaps one of most enjoyable performances and parts of the film that I would have loved to seen woven through the screenplay much better. He was a great character and well acted, and relatively well written. Dane DeHaan as Harry Osborne was pretty good, although I feel like the character could have been.....better, once again I believe that the character wasn't written that well. I enjoyed the plot tie in to the "Green Goblin" villain, Oscorp, Ravencroft, and the beginnings of the "Sinister Six." The plot involving Peter's father, Richard, and what was really going on at Oscorp was compelling, but not a real central plot point, it seemed more of a superfluous side story. It should have been the central plot to the entire film, but instead the writers focused on the romance and Harry Osborne attempting cure himself; as I mentioned before, very disappointing. It was diverting enough, and perhaps I would watch it again, but I'm not entirely certain about that. I don't know what is going to happen over the next few years with all of these comic book film adaptations coming out; I guess they'll keep on making them until they are unsuccessful and generate no revenue. Honestly if you're looking for a good fluffy flick, and are young then this film is for you. In other new it was a great relaxing day for me, only one more of which I will be able to enjoy before grad school kicks into full blast this coming Monday. I can't believe I have completed one year of grad school already! This year is almost halfway over; time just cannot seem to pause, or slow down as one ages, or becomes more responsible and busy. That's all I've got for now. The world seems to be getting more chaotic and dangerous with each passing day, and apparently (at least in the U.S.) people are acting and displaying hostile and psychotic behavior. I say this working in the mental health field and talking with individuals who also work in this field across the levels of intervention and treatment. I have also spoken with people in law enforcement and they have seen a similar increase in behaviors as well; it is all very unsettling. Kind of like the rumblings before the giant earthquake.
So after a very long wait, Book 2 of a Warrior's Tale "Dishonor's Scourge" is now completed and available. The cover is awesome, the story of my characters is amazing, and I now only have 1 book left to finish in the series after starting it so long ago. I'm not quite certain how to summarize the book, so I'll just post the summary that is on the back of the book. My plan was to have more of a blitzkrieg of information to post, but I guess that will have to wait until I have more time on the weekend, or during one of the weeknights.
The 2nd book takes place right after the 1st book, with the exception of the Prologue, which does need to be read. Gash, Sqoe, Shenari, and Naceilia continue on their adventure, while Archous and Siran go on an adventure of their own (so to speak), while Lord Gaul and Overlord Zeinar continue to beat down the remaining armies of Caroth-Nor. There are several underlying storylines going on, and a lot of intrigue that is going on that won't make a whole lot of sense until the third book. There are some new characters as well, one of which was a whole lot of fun for me to write, which I will go into detail more later on this week, and I will also discuss how the characters have grown and changed since Book 1, and possibly where they are headed for Book 3. There are a few surprises in Book 2, but I think I'm saving the majority of those for Book 3. Overall I would say that "Dishonor's Scourge" is better written than "The Curse of a Warrior" and a whole lot more interesting and exciting as well. I am curious to see what everyone thinks of it. Now I just have to start writing Book 3 and finish the screenplay for Book 1. So much to do and no time to do it!
You can find the book on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, my book website, and also if you ask a bookstore they should be able to order it for you as well.
Well somehow I finished surviving the month of April. If it weren't my vacation, I think grad school and my job would have killed me by now. Fortunately, I have one more week of freedom before classes begin again, and I have to once again have that precarious balance of work and school, both of which are incredibly demanding. Despite having most that I want, I would settle for a relatively stress free life at the moment, which appears most elusive currently. I will not waffle on much about my place of employment other than the fact that I am weary of the job mentally and emotionally; it's pretty bad when your co-workers say that you've been getting worse over the past two weeks, and even when your clients make comments about your apparent stress level that is when you know you've got it bad. Even in the world there seems to be nothing but bad news; it's like the 70's (in the U.S) all over again, and what we need is a burst of confidence and invigoration that we got during the 80's. Nothing good is coming out of Ukraine or Eastern Europe with the great shadow of Russia looming over. Iraq, Syria, Egypt and Afghanistan all seem to be relatively bad news lately. There is some good news that I will be sharing tomorrow evening that has been long awaited. Don't forget to check it out, provided nothing catastrophic occurs. I was finally able to watch Saving Mr. Banks tonight. Tom Hanks as Walt Disney was perfect, and although I am uncertain what P.L. Travers was like in reality, I am certain that Emma Thompson did an excellent portrayal, as her performance was excellent. Thank goodness Walt Disney changed it the way that it ended up being; if Mrs. Travers had gotten her way then I think the film wouldn't have nearly been quite as delightful, regardless of what my sister thinks or claims. It was humorous, moving, and thoughtful; it really shows where writers draw their inspiration from when creating a type of fictional world. I found the background story of where Mary Poppins came from to be quite interesting, a perspective that I never really considered. I definitely recommend the film, and although it isn't meant for young kids, I believe older children could watch it and enjoy it and in that regard it could be considered a family movie. Well I am currently falling asleep, so I bid thee all a fond goodnight.
Saving Mr. Banks trailer
Saving Mr. Banks clip
Rebels trailer (looks good, but I'm still not holding out much hope or expectations).
So my vacation is almost up, and I shall return to yonder U.S. Midwest. It has been a lot of fun and very enlightening on several levels. I feel like I have a much clearer direction for life than I did 2 weeks ago, and more confidence in what I am doing as well. I wish I could have done more writing, but grad school will not relent, and I wanted to spend time with people more than myself, so thus something for another time; I just have to get through another year of grad school and then I shall be oodles more of free!!! So today I decided to get up early and go watch the film Noah. I had heard bad things and good things and also had my own preconceived notions, but nothing really determined. Now after watching the film, I certainly have a strong opinion of it. It is bad. The film started out really strongly with it's take on the Biblical account, even though it took a number of liberties, but it wasn't bad at that point in the beginning. Then everything started going wrong once Noah began building the Ark. The acting was excellent and compelling, but Darren Aronofsky strayed so far from just the spirit of what was written in the Bible, forget the facts, but the man truly did not study the entire Bible. Noah and God were depicted as cold, ruthless, and out of touch with what people needed; also God was not depicted as the ultimate ruler and authority of the cosmos, but rather "The Creator." Mr. Aronofsky was partially responsible for writing the screenplay, and even though it may have been written relatively well, the man took such liberties that it actually worked against the lot, story and characters. I am all for adapting and even taking artistic license with Biblical accounts of people and their struggles as long as the truth remains. Honestly, it wasn't even that great of a film regardless of the severe lack of accuracy it possessed. It was interesting at the beginning, since that was an unexplored part of the story, but then it became so boring and convoluted when Noah began building the Ark, and then during their stay on the Ark when the Flood came it became even more boring all the way to the very end, which sucked. Russell Crowe made a good Noah, but I would have chosen differently, someone less action based, but his performance was excellent. Noah's wife played by Jennifer Connelly was well played, although I would have written her character a little more gutsier and less submissive. Logan Lerman was Ham (he is best known for his work The Olympian Series) and he did well with his character, although his character was completely and utterly written wrong. Ray Winstone was the villain, Tubal-cain, and he was written well and did a good job with his performance. I would have liked to have seen his relationship with Noah grown a whole lot more, but alas it wasn't. Anthony Hopkins played himself as Methusaleh (an almost Yoda like comparison to his character), and the rest of the cast did relatively well, even Emma Watson as Ila, Shem's wife, did a very good job and her character was written well, although once again I wish they would have done more with it. The special effects were okay, the music by Clint Mansell was actually quite good, the cinematography was well done, and I have to say that the only bit of the film that was perfectly accurate was what the Ark looked like, and it looked quite believable. Noah is an interesting film that people can dialog about the actual story and the significance of what happened, along with the fall of humanity from perfection, and how it moved forward and what people were looking forward to, but as a film all on it's own, I wouldn't waste my time again watching this film. Why you ask? Two major things: huge inaccuracies that take away from the story, plot and characters, and it is just plain boring. I can watch boring or depressing films, if the performances of the actors and actresses blow me away, but not if they don't. You won't miss out on much if you don't see this film; the director did better with Black Swan.
Fargo television series trailer (looks interesting and it has a good cast; who knows)
The vacation is going well here in San Diego; my escape from reality, and I really do not want to return to Illinois. The weather is beautiful, all of my friends are great, and there is so much more to do, and of course there is the beach. One thing that has changed is that all of the drivers are a lot crazier than I recall when I used to live out here, or perhaps I notice more than I used to because I've been doing a lot of driving since I have been out here than what I did before. Grad school has still been a pain in the neck to do while I've been out here; all I did for most of yesterday was school work, not pleasant but I am that much further to graduating and being finished....at least until I decide to acquire a doctorate degree. So, Game of Thrones Season 4 started out with a bang yesterday. I didn't see it as it was broadcasted I had it recorded and watched it earlier today. Fortunately they started off on the right foot with episode 1 thank goodness. Tyrion Lannister had a sizable role, as did Arya Stark, and Daenerys Targaryen so all of the good characters that I enjoy. There were also some good new characters, and then it was nice to see some of the good guys get back on top, and from what I understand that is supposed to be more prevalent in this season, which will be nice after the doom and gloom of the previous seasons. I have to confess that I did sneak ahead and investigate what happens to several of the characters and storylines, and I have to say that it was a mixture of bad and good, and I also spoke with a good friend who's read all of the books and answered several questions that I had, including a very fascinating theory that John Snow isn't the bastard son of Ned Stark but rather of some other people, whom I will not say, but it does seem very plausible. The cast continues to be excellent, old and returning; Peter Dinklage as Tyrion just keeps getting better and better, Charles Dance as Tywin Lannister is villainous/cold perfection just to name a few. It should be interesting to see how the series continues to progress and how they will intertwine the books and show, although I do have a really good feeling about the season is going to end, so we shall see how close I come, and if I am correct then it will be superb, although I guess every season has ended with the dragon mother so I might be most likely wrong already. Oh well. My vacation is down to about 5 remaining days, and then I have to return home. Blah. If you are able then you should take a vacation; it has been a lifesaver for me. Valar morghulis.
If I were to describe the remainder of the month of March, it would be this: no time. Between school and work I had a small amount of time to take care of myself and relax, let alone do any writing or watching anything substantial enough to write about. Now however, I have been on vacation in San Diego for about a week now and it is wonderful! It has been a lifesaver to escape from reality and do just nothing except relax and see old friends again, and not have to worry about the angst of the workplace, although I still have to worry about grad school work, but that isn't too bad, or rather something I can handle while on vacation. I've been to the beach, been shopping, done a lot of driving, and spent a lot of good time with good people. Well progress on Book II of my trilogy has finally reached a big mile marker and I think it should be available this month. Here is the title of Book II of A Warrior's Tale "Dishonor's Scourge." Shortly I will be posting the cover for the new book, and then hopefully I will be posting a link for where to get the book from. Today I took a big departure from reality and watched Captain America: The Winter Soldier and it was lovely! Of all of the Marvel films that I have seen and that have been produced this I believe is perhaps the 2nd best thus far, with The Avengers of course being the first, and the original Iron Man being the 3rd best Marvel produced/based film. Chris Evans is Captain America, no question, and he gets deeper into his character (as much as possible) in this film, Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury was perfect and had a larger role in this film which was great. Scarlet Johansson as the Black Widow was just like before; intelligent, beautiful, and deadly, but with a more human side. For the new people, Robert Redford was an awesome edition to the cast and gave the film a good deal of credibility, and of course the man's talent is superb. Emily VanCamp's character was a little disappointing unfortunately as nothing was really done with her as it could have been. Anthony Mackie as Falcon (the guy with wings and a jet pack) was a great edition; not obnoxious, cool, and relatively well written. All around it was a very good cast, even the small roles, and of course the cameo by Stan Lee. The plot of the film is rather complex without giving too much away, but suffice to say that SHIELD isn't everything you thought it was, and that there shadows in the background calling all of the shots. The film was a lot of fun and was directed quite well for an action comic book film adaptation. The action sequences were really well done and choreographed. The music by Henry Jackman surprised me delightfully. It was actually a very well done, decent score with some good motifs; but none as more memorable than the one for The Winter Soldier. It was haunting and modern, and just perfectly fit the character. I think the 3-D was pretty good, from what I remember, although not too many things popped out; the depth and sound were awesome though. There were a lot of things that I enjoyed about the film, but none I enjoyed more than The Winter Soldier character; talk about a super cool villain and character, he was a lot of fun to watch, and an extra dimension within his character, though I will not spoil anything. Make certain that you stick around until all of the credits are gone; you will get a sneak peak of Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch. If you like this genre of films then you will enjoy this one, and if you like good action films, then you will enjoy it too. Well I am going to continue to enjoy my San Diego vacation, sunshine, warm weather, and excellent company and continue this escape from reality.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier preview
Captain America: The Winter Soldier featurette
Godzilla trailer (I do have to say there are possibilities)
I may not live in a daily reality where I am starving, under threat of death, fighting for my survival or living through any other extreme trauma, but it has been a long, stressful and hellish month for me; at least if I was fighting for something I believed in, perhaps I would feel like I'm actually doing something useful with my life rather than just getting ready to do something useful with it eventually. People call it March madness for basketball, I call it that because crazy people get crazier at least here in Illinois. Kids have been going into crisis up the fricking wazoo; cutting themselves, overdosing, threatening to hurt themselves and others, and having psychotic breaks with reality. All the while the program is putting on spring break camp for those with mental health needs, and people are rushing to get stuff done, stay above water, and of course run the camp, which means that we're short staffed because they're aren't enough people to adequately take care of all of the needs, which puts pressure on those not directly involved with camp. I also have grad school, which of course is Statistics this term and another part of my capstone course which is becoming increasingly more and more challenging. I also have to keep tabs on my book progress. I don't know how people who have second jobs, work on-call and have families are managing to remain sane; I am barely keeping my head above water. I swear I'm working close to 50 hours a week and then doing work at home on top of what I am doing for grad school. Thank God I am going on vacation this weekend! Yep, that's right I am returning to sunny, warm and beautiful San Diego for a whole 2 weeks! Granted I will still have to grad school work, but I won't feel overwhelmed like I do now. I just have to get through this week without blowing up, getting fired from saying things I shouldn't, or screaming at anyone; hopefully I will get through it all unscathed. Some good news is that I am okaying the cover art for Book 2 of A Warrior's Tale, so God willing it shall be out very soon. And I just have to say that the cover is amazing! I had no input on it whatsoever and the people or person who put it together was spot on. I was stunned with delight! You know what all of this means right, I have to start writing the third and final book. Where am I going to find the time? That I will worry about later. So much has happened since the last time I wrote, so I will have to summarize. President Putin of Russia has successfully pulled a Hitler and annexed Crimea without firing a shot (I think), and he is increasing his military presence along Ukraine's border. I don't know about ya'll but this is very disturbing and alarming, and I wish more Americans felt that way. The USA is Superman and Russia/Putin is Doomsday (got that reference from my brother in-law) and the only country that can and will stand up to Putin is the USA, no one else has the economic capacity, resources, or conviction of values (certainly not China) to do this, yet President Obama has only made threats and along with the EU sanctioned Russia and some of its wealthier elite, which I doubt will have any significant long term effect. Didn't they read history about when Napoleon and Hitler invaded Russia? Russia outlasts and survives everything that has been thrown at them, even the Mongol hordes; I think they will survive some sanctions. You have to ask yourself concerning an ex-KJB agent who thought the worst event in the 20th century was the fall of the Soviet Union; what's next? Between Syria and Ukraine, Russia's meddling is really costing a lot of lives and messing up geopolitical terrain. It seems reality sucks everywhere. So I decided to take a few breaks from it today when I was doing nothing when I should have been doing homework and work. I watched Gangster Squad which was surprisingly a good and entertaining film about a group of men back in 1949 L.A. who decided to work outside of the mainstream law and bring down a mobster and his flourishing empire. Sean Penn is the villain mobster, which he plays all too well. Josh Brolin is the hero, honest, traditional values minded detective/soldier who spearheads the operation, and he plays it very well; kind of makes you want for the olden days. Then there is Emma Stone who plays the good looking squeeze of the villain who falls for the young sidekick of the hero Ryan Gosling (who has come light years since Young Hercules) who was amazing; these two were the best part of the entire film. The film was perfectly cast with excellent talent left and right. Granted several of the fight scenes with bullets flying everywhere and no one getting hit was unrealistic (at least I would think so), but it was highly entertaining, the plot kept going, was surprisingly well written, and was shot very well. The film's pleasantness and delight actually surprised me, although it was very gritty, but it was very entertaining and I would definitely watch it again, and if you were going to watching a gangster style of film (which I often don't care for) then I would certainly recommend this one. Well I think I've waffled on long enough. Have an excellent weekend everyone and try to do something to help the people over in Syria and Ukraine; try calling one of your government representatives as that is what they are there for.
Gangster Squad trailer
Maleficent most recent trailer (looks so fantastic, and hopefully it will be thus.)
Da Vinci's Demons season 2 trailer (new season begins today!)
It/s amazing how one doesn't blog for a short amount of time, and during that time so much happens. Well, I'll just say it, although it was almost a week ago; the Academy Awards were a splendid delight, and there were very few bad surprises (if any). Gravity dominated, which surprised me, but Dallas Buyer's Club was another film that acquired a number of Oscars, which I predicted. Ellen was a blast and once again an excellent host that had a lot of fun, and that was what struck me; how much fun everyone seemed to be having. Good show, although John Williams should have won the Oscar for Best Original Score, but that's life. President Vladimir Putin has all but annexed Crimea, and I can't help but make a comparison to what Adolf Hitler did back in the 1930's when he annexed Austria and Czechoslovakia because they were a part of the "Fatherland" originally, and he was also reuniting the German people back with each other. No one thought that he would go any further than that, no one dreamed that he would invade Poland, France, and Eastern Europe and then eventually Russia. Appeasement was how Western Europe and the US dealt with Herr Hitler, and that is most likely what will end up happening with Putin. God only knows what the man is really up to, but if you give a mouse a cookie, he's gonna want a glass of milk. There's a lot going on in the Ukraine right now to write it all down, but ya'll better look into it. American should not isolate itself from world politics like it tried after WWI and believe that what happens in other hemispheres of the world stays there without affecting Americans. Terrorists and absolute dictators are seeing that weakness in America right now, and I guarantee all of you that they will not think twice about striking a blow, no matter on what level. We should keep the people of Ukraine in our thoughts and prayers, and also encourage our governments to take action against Russia, whether it be non-lethal or military action. So, now floating away from reality before one becomes too depressed or upset some good stuff came out in the past few days. Netflix aired the Lost Missions for the Clone Wars, and I have watched quite a few of the episodes thus far, and it still amazes me that they cancelled the show because the episodes were still continuing to get better and better.Granted the best of season 6 will be the last few episodes, but it was interesting watching the development of what "protocol 66" is and where it came from. It's a pity that this means that the show will have officially come to an end, but how ironic that there were 6 seasons, as there are currently 6 films; I like the irony. I have very little hope for Rebels as I have seen previews and had sneak peeks of the characters, and as for Episode VII....well, I am not holding out at all since George Lucas is not behind the writing and creative wheel as he was in all previous 6 films. That's what made it work, and I just don't think that it is going to work without him. So I watched this film Elysium this evening after I thought that it was going to be a lousy film, and I wasn't half wrong. It was entertaining enough to the point where I wasn't miserably bored, and Matt Damon did a fine job along with the rest of the cast, although my favorite character was played by Jodi Foster. I didn't like the premise of the film, which was class warfare; of the super rich vs. pretty much everyone else, which in this case apparently were the super poor (about 95% of the human population in the film). It was essentially a bland film that had fantastic potential, but it will be forgotten in another year or so, and definitely in 10 years. That's about as much as I want to even waste my time writing about the film; not something I would recommend. Don't forget to set your clock forward one hour, although I suppose that would depend on what time zone you're in throughout the world. Just so long as it doesn't snow again in the Midwestern U.S., I will be happy. Good luck to us all, and May the Force be with you all.
Sin City: A Dame to Kill For trailer (looks intense, just like the first one was)
So I finally was able to watch one of the Oscar films; 12 Years A Slave. If the film win any Academy Awards it will be mainly because of two singular reasons, of which Sigmund Freud would only nod his head. The two reasons are; Sex & Violence. The cinematography was excellent, and Hans Zimmer did a fine job with the music, but the writing wasn't that great, the performances were genuine, but all it seemed to be most of the time were pure raw emotions like hate, passion, anguish, and desire. The film was very brutal in its portrayal of slavery and left the audience feeling similar to it's protagonist; hopeless, even at the end of the film I felt like "blah." Michael Fassbender played quite the villain; I think that Magneto looks like an angel in comparison to this character. Even Benedict Cumberbatch's character was somewhat villainous, but an excellent performance nonetheless. Chiwetel Ejiofor (the main character Solomon Northup) did well for his character, but I really wish the writers had come up with far superior dialogue for him to work with than what was there; didn't seem to do his talent much justice. Lupita Nyong'o (Patsey) has been nominated for an Oscar for her role, which seemed rather small to me, but whatever. She cried a lot, begged a lot, screamed a lot, and was also naked a lot, so she'll probably get the award. Her character didn't really get that much closure at the end of the film. In all, the film has been nominated for 9 Academy awards, and I have a feeling that it might just dominate unfortunately; if it isn't obvious yet, I didn't like the film, nor do I think that I could ever watch it again. There was an epilogue of sorts at the end of the film, and I think based off what happened after the real life story of Solomon Northup would have made for a better film than what they actually adapted from the book. Very depressing, dramatically dark, disturbing, and downright unpleasurable to watch. I wouldn't recommend it, even to see, unless you go for that type of thing. There was all sorts of bad news going on over the past few days and today. It snowed once again; yuck! I hate winter. Then of course President Obama made another "red line" and Putin crossed it and sent troops into Ukraine to "help" the ousted president regain control; big surprise. And now Ukraine is so destabilized that who knows how that will affect the rest of Europe; and who was it that said Russia isn't the US's biggest geopolitical foe? It wasn't Mitt Romney. The current Ukraine situation I could yack about for a while, but that is for another type of blog. It's interesting to note how many countries have been destabilizing over the past couple of years and how that seems likely to be the continuing trend. Regardless, the people of Ukraine are the ones caught in the middle of a power play, and so I think some prayers and positive thoughts would he helpful for them at the moment. Finished the 2nd season of Homeland this evening and I was actually impressed this time with how the season ended this time around; there was actually some good writing that was put into the show finally, and the two main characters suddenly became much more likable. We'll see if they can keep it up for the 3rd season. Academy Awards tomorrow night, unless they get drowned out by rain, which would be oh so funny.
As most of you know my taste in music lies in classical and film score predominantly; several people know rock and popular artists, I know film composers and classical music composers. For classical, Beethoven, Mozart and Copland are amongst my favorites, for film scores (and even video & PC games) John Williams, James Horner, Danny Elfman, Hans Zimmer, Jerry Goldsmith, Howard Shore, and Dario Marianelli. There are some rising stars though like Marc Streitenfeld (Robin Hood, Prometheus), Steve Jablonsky (Transformers), Mychael Danna (Life of Pi), Micahel Giacchino (Star Trek), and Nicholas Hooper (The Half-Blood Prince). There are several others who have created some excellent scores here and there, or some bits of a score that were really good, but it's been difficult for me to spot another great like John Williams or Hans Zimmer; both men have completely different styles of composing music, but they both have created some of the most memorable music (or rather John Williams has more often than not). Anyways, all of this talk of music, film scores and composers is because I am focusing on the Oscar for Best Original Score. The nominees are: John Williams (The Book Thief), Steven Price (Gravity), William Butler & Owen Pallett (Her), Alexandre Desplat (Philomena), and Thomas Newman (Saving Mr. Banks). Last year I had it narrowed down pretty good, and there were a good many scores to choose from, and I have listened to most of the scores from this year and I'm not really that impressed. Most of the scores were tinkly sounding, or just strange sounding with no melodious harmony to it. I would prefer John Williams to win it as his score stood out the most and was quite good, but I have a feeling that Alexandre Desplat will win it, which is odd considering most of his music sounds very, very similar (a part of me is bitter for his lackluster performance on his film compositions for the last 2 Harry Potter films). With less than a week of February left it is amazing how quickly time has gone by. Apparently tis the season for revolutions and overthrowing governments. Ukraine booted out their conniving president and issued an arrest warrant for killing civilians (he had snipers killing protesters), which I'm certain was a huge irritating disappointment for Russian president Vladimir Putin. Bummer for him. Hopefully that will be the beginning of the Russian's president's waning geopolitical influence in all of Europe. Now if only the Syrian people could successfully boot Assad out of power than the circle would be complete. It's a shame that they're a forgotten news story with over 150,000 people dead so far with no sign of the civil war ending. I wonder how many of those people would still be alive if the West had intervened right from the start? I wonder if those people and others in the Middle East and the rest of the world are thinking the same exact thing, except with more of a bitter aftertaste left in their mouths?
So I got back into the spirit of adventure with season 3 of Sherlock, which of course is produced by the talented folks at the BBC. There are many elements that I continue to enjoy about this series, one of which being the cast. Benedict Cumberbatch is the perfect, modern, whimsical, yet dramatic Sherlock Holmes; a little more ego driven, rude, and ridiculous than Jeremy Brett or Robert Downey Jr., but his performance compensates for those faults. Martin Freeman is a fantastic actor to watch perform, but I have to say that his Watson isn't that good. It always seems to come across that Watson is ineffective, wimpy, unintelligent, and rather dim witted than Arthur Conan wrote him, but it isn't horrible to watch. Mark Gatiss as Mycroft is wonderful balance to the cast, and has continued to do well since he appeared at the beginning of the 1st season. Him and Sherlock go at it on-screen with each other fantastically. There are some good secondary characters and cameos, but that's the main reason people watch. Plots aren't exactly as intricate and interesting as the originals, or even the recent films, but they are amusing enough and written relatively well to keep one's attention. Truthfully though, I would have written it in a different way. Oh well. Yes I have slackened in my review of the Oscar nominations, but life is what it is. So I have Best Hairstyling and Makeup tonight: Dallas Buyer's Club, Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa, and The Lone Ranger. Okay only the first nominee should be on this list and I will not comment on the other two; plain and simple Dallas Buyers Club should win it, and that's it. Watched the closing ceremony yesterday for the Sochi Olympics, and it was nice (aside from the irritating commentary from the obnoxious hosts). The Russians put on an excellent opening and a good close, even though President Putin was hard pressed to smile or even look interested during the closing ceremonies. I'm certain the President's mind was elsewhere, perhaps thinking of Russia's setbacks in the Ukraine, or the fact that they lost to the US in hockey. The Summer Olympics in Rio De Janeiro in 2016, and then South Korea in 2018 for Winter Olympics, and then Tokyo for Summer Olympics in 2020. That seems like such a long time away; six years from now. Hope everyone has a lovely week, and the Oscars are in less than a week; don't forget to inscribe March 2nd on the calendar.
Sherlock season 3trailer
The Clone Wars: Lost Missions trailer
(The show should have never been cancelled; big mistake by Disney & Lucasfilm)
So this weekend was filled with homework and watching House of Cards, of which I finished season 2 Sunday night while foolishly attempting to complete my assignments for school; not my most brilliant of ideas, but it was difficult to stop once I got started with the show. One of the things that I really enjoy about that show are all of the quotable lines from it, especially with Kevin Spacey's character. The 2nd season ended very strongly, so I am curious to see where the 3rd season goes, and for how long they're going to string this show along. It was an excellent season, and maybe I have to watch it again, but I think that the 1st season was better, possibly, although there were more characters that I didn't like in that season, but the storyline and writing were slightly better. Anyways. I continued on with season 2 of Homeland and....well....it was good, and then really frustrating and annoying. I just do not care for the 2 main characters whatsoever; I only want to find out what happens next since I got hooked into the show, and I also want to know how they're going to pull one of their main characters back into the central plot. I could say more on it, but I just don't care enough. Work and school, those two things dominate my life currently, so its hard to find more time for the superfluous, and even still the things that matter like the news. News stories such as what's going on in the Ukraine, or in Vietnam, or how thousands of people are being starved to death by the Syrian government and no one is doing anything about it. I feel like countries used to come to each other's aid in the name of humanity, but now it's all about being politically correct; what a wussy world it has become. One of my friends from college was teaching in Norther Iraq for a few years, and during his time he came across a Jesuit priest who told him that members of his order had been forced out of Syria on pain of death (if memory serves correctly). Apparently the priest went back to help those against Assad, he was captured and executed by Al-Qaeda. I also just discovered that there is an American POW being held by the Taliban in Afghanistan, of which US government officials are "negotiating" for; he has been held captive for 5 years. How does that work? Yeah, and I'll leave it at that. Well, work continues tomorrow as does school, and all I have to do is survive it. Good night all!
Guardians of the Galaxy trailer (not sure what to make of it)