Dear readers, I want to give a special thank you for all of you who’ve read this blog and shared your thoughts with me over the past year. Yes, I find it hard to believe now, but this is actually my fifty-second and last blog for some time. I can hardly believe that I’ve now been doing this for a little over a year. It’s been a wonderful experience. I will be taking some time off to complete my third and final book in my Atlantean trilogy entitled, ‘Mayhem’s Triangle’. I will, from time to time, do my best to write some blogs every now and again, but I don’t plan on continuing my weekly campaign until my third book is completed.
What a year it’s been. Over the course of the year I released my book, ‘Mayhem’s Fountain’. I’ve started a twitter campaign, (thanks Greg), I’ve created a face book account (something I never thought I’d do), and of course I’ve created this blog (again, something that I never envisioned myself doing). My favorite thing to do, of course was this blog. I was pushed into doing this kicking and screaming by my publicist, but I admit, I’ve truly enjoyed it. What better way to share my writing with others, without them having an opportunity to read my stories? Finally, I did my first book signing in Los Angeles, which was an exciting, albeit scary experience, but it was well worth it.
The key question remains … what did I try to accomplish in this blog over the past year? To be honest, I had no idea what I was supposed to write about week in and week out, so I decided to write about what I found most compelling – entertainment. Yes, I’m a writer, and yes, I enjoy reading, but like most, I enjoy so much more. Being a musician, I love my music. I introduced you to my group Koncrete Kite. We’ve worked hard this past year creating our fourth CD entitled, ‘Full of Bull’. We hope to have the CD ready for release in May of this year. For more information, please visit our new sight attached in this link. I’ve also given some reviews of concerts I’ve been to, my personal favorite was Paul McCartney in Yankee Stadium – awesome show.
I love my movies. I did my best to review all the blockbusters of 2011 from the great superhero films, to Harry Potter, Pirates, and so much more. I may not have been a fan of everything released, but let’s face it, who is. I did though, try to do my best to give you an honest assessment of the films. I personally loved doing my top five lists. What better way to share some humor on something that wasn’t all that great by giving it an entertaining twist? Let’s not forget the program reviews of shows on cable and free television. I probably watch more than I should, but what can I say, I love to be entertained.
Let’s talk travel. I gave some traveling tips with places to visit and sights to see. Whether it was a historical review visiting such place as London, Scotland, Germany, or wonderful places to visit right here in the great U.S., like Sundance, Universal in Orlando, Beaver Creek, Colorado, etc. I wanted to give you an on the ground perspective of what to do, what to see, and what to watch out for. Hopefully some of you found this useful. You even received a little paranormal information on the places we visited and experienced during some of these trips. This was not only for you, but also for your kids. They don’t like to stay at haunted locations, so visitors beware.
Finally, I discussed my thoughts on book reviews and my writing experience. I reviewed such books from the latest James Bond novel, to War and Peace, to everyone’s current favorite – George R. R. Martin’s and his latest release in the Song of Ice and Fire series. I gave you my thoughts on my writing experience, whether it was writer’s block, or procrastination. I wanted you to hear it from a fellow writer who’s experienced everything all of you must have felt as well at some time in your writing career.
So alas I bid you all a fair adieu. I will return, but not completely until my final book is completed. I anticipate completing the book in June, but then with the developmental edit, content edit, proof read, etc., it probably won’t be published until next year. Don’t worry, I fully intend to keep everyone informed of my progress and of course, everyone will be aware of the release. Until then I hope to fit in some blogs from time to time on my favorite movies, shows, books, and travels visited over the course of this year. I thank you all again for your wonderful support and kind words and hope to see you again soon.
Greetings and salutations my good friends, it’s been an interesting year. It’s also been the first year in which I started this blogging campaign. Although this was not something I ever intended to endeavor, through some strong-armed persuasion, I gave it my best attempt. Twelve months later, I’m still at it. That stated, due to the holidays and a much-needed vacation, this will be my last post in 2011. Have no fear, I will return in 2012 with a shot of adrenaline, ready to tackle the new-year. For those of you new to the blog, please feel free to scroll though the many topics I tried to tackle over the past twelve months. I did my best to entertain.
Looking back at a number of posts published, I noticed I was heavy on the reviews; therefore I thought it best to give an assessment of the top grossing movies released this year. Granted I did not see all of the movies listed below, but I did come really close. Below I listed the top ten grossing movies of 2011 in reverse order and my thoughts about the films (the final numbers vary and may change after this post). I am happy to state that most of the movies listed below had a heavy emphasis on fantasy. I found this encouraging. It only supports the reason as to why I became a fantasy writer in the first place. Without further ado, here is the list. You may be surprised at what you see.
10) Rise of the Planet of the Apes – $175 million. This was the last blockbuster released in a year filled with summer blockbusters and frankly I thought a lackluster ending to a great summer. The idea was unique; go to the origin of how the Planet of the Apes came to be. The movie was entertaining and the actors were solid. The only reason for my possible disappointment in the film may have been both a burnout of summer films viewed over a three-month span, and some very high expectations of this movie. I just don’t think it lived up to the hype.
9) Captain America: The First Avenger – $175 million. This film barely beat out Apes by a few thousand, but the caliber was much the same. I admit I had extremely high expectations for this film, because Cap is my favorite Avenger. Unfortunately I felt the film spent too much time focusing on his past and how he came to be versus the ass-kicking action adventure hero that he is now. I know, the traditionalists will tell you that you have to start somewhere, but frankly I’m sick of seeing a hero’s intro story only to see the same exact film released again in another ten years from now (Batman, Spiderman, Superman … you get the point).
8) Thor – $179 million. Remember the thought I shared about seeing the intro story of a hero, none of that going on over here. Thor was the kick-ass super hero movie of the summer, bar none. They brought out all the big guns with this early release: star power, entertaining story, creative scenery – the film didn’t disappoint. My only dismay was that I thought they could have done a better job with the ending. I didn’t care much for the daddy-issue route. Regardless, I would highly recommend viewing this over the other two mentioned above. Way to go super heroes, two of the top ten grossing movies this year. Keep them coming, the people will watch.
7) Cars 2 – $189 million. I saw this one with my kids, granted on Blu-Ray, and not in the theater. Regardless, I found it entertaining. I particularly liked the James Bond spin. What else do you need to know other than the kids enjoyed it. Due to its success, I’m sure there will be a Cars 3 in our future. Enough said.
6) Fast Five – $207 million. I know, I don’t get it either. No, I did not see the film, nor do I have any intention of viewing it in the future. Someone tell me why I’m wrong.
5) Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides – $238 million. I have mixed feelings about this one. As many of you know by now, my book has a heavy Atlantean theme, mixed with pirates, the fountain of youth, etc. Therefore on the one hand I felt dejected that my idea was already out there on film. That stated, I was encouraged that this film did so well. It shows me that there is a major interest in the subject matter that I embarked upon. I was also equally encouraged that this film was terrible. Read my book and compare the stories. I think I’ll win you over.
4) The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 1 – $244 million. I’m soooo sick of vampire films, but clearly what do I know. I considered this to be a chick-flick/teenybopper film; therefore I didn’t see it. I’m sure my girls will make me watch it with them though when it comes out on Blu-Ray.
3) The Hangover 2 – $252 million. This one, although not as good as the first, did live up to expectations. In a word – hilarious. What I loved about this film is that there was no subject off limits. Nothing was taboo and everyone was humiliated. What I don’t understand though is why the gratuitous male nudity? Know you audience. I didn’t see many women in the movie theater. Regardless, if you’re looking for a great laugh, this is a must watch. I’d rank it up there with other classic comedies like: Step Brothers, Old School, Anchor Man, etc.
2) Transformers: Dark of the Moon – $349 million. It may come as a surprise to many that I didn’t see this one as well. I’ll be frank, although I found the previous two films good mindless entertainment, I was never really a fan of the series. When I heard that Megan Fox didn’t care to come back I figured, why should I? My son saw the movie and gave it an ehh rating. I’m sure I’ll watch it … someday.
1) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – $377 million. Really, was there ever any doubt? This has been one of the most successful franchises in the history of franchises and well deserved. Both Parts 1 and 2 were excellent films and I thought they did a spectacular job of concluding this series. Harry and the gang will be missed. At least we’ll always be able to visit Hogwarts in Orlando.
Once upon a time there was a television program called Lost. This program was so well written and so original in its idea that it received critical acclaim and a mass following. Then one day this show had reached it conclusion. The viewers were saddened and were left wanting more. What were the creators of the show to do? Ahh, we’ll they decided to reach back into the recesses of time to come up with a new program to please the viewers. This program is called ‘Once Upon a Time’. Will it comfort the masses? This may be just one man’s opinion, but in short – no.
The concept itself was original and very Lostesque (I just made that up). They took some very common fairy tale characters, ranging from Snow White to Rumplestiltskin, and brought them into modern day America. You got an opportunity to look into their lives after the common story had concluded to see what became of our beloved characters. Apparently, it was a good thing they ended these stories when they did, because life for the fairy tale heroes wasn’t happily ever after at all.
No, the evil queen, (this particular one is from Snow White) decided that she did not like happy endings (don’t go there) and decided to cast a spell on all of our beloved friends. A spell so evil that not only will it transport them from the pages of our books, but into a sleepy little northeastern town in modern day America called Story Brooke. The rub here is that all the characters from the fairy tales are now simply common men and women, no longer princesses and dwarves, etc. No one remembers their past lives, nor for that matter, each other. Only one little boy knows the true secret. He alone (well, with some help from the mother who abandonned him) will end the horrible every day existence of the common man, end the curse, and place our friends back into their storybook lives.
The Lost spin placed on the story (beyond opening the first scene by staring at an eyeball) is that they would jump from fairy tale time, to modern day present time in good old Story Brooke. Ok, this sounds intriguing. It’s an interesting spin on a familiar tale, so what’s the problem? If only there were just one.
Maybe I was living under the high expectations of Lost, but this story plays out, to me at least, more like something I’ve seen in the eighties, or dare I say it … The Cape. Ugh, I can’t believe I said it. There is something that I like to refer to as the cheese factor. It may not be a Webster’s term, but I think you all know what it means, and this show has enough cheese to feed France. Below are my top 5 suggestions to fixing the program.
Replace the cast: What? Replace the entire cast? How? Why? That’s impossible. No, this is not impossible, this is a story based on fairy tale characters. There’s a lot more out there than Snow White, Pinocchio, and Rumplestiltskin. The only character in the program worth a grain of salt is the evil queen (played by Lana Parilla) all the others should be replaced. Bring in some newer, more appealing blood.
Lose the kid: This kid is one of the most annoying, unlikable characters in the show (next to the main protagonist, Emma). This kid is supposed to see and understand things that no other adult in this timeless town can. Why? Is he that more intelligent than every other member of this city? Does he have some insight into the world of fairy tales that no one else knows? What is it? Not only is he a know it all; he’s a disobedient little troublemaker that doesn’t listen to anyone. Ground him and throw away his book.
Lose Emma: All right, first of all we’re to believe she’s only 28 … come on. Second, she abandoned her son, gave him up for adoption, and now it’s her only goal in life to prove this boy right. What’s with the outfits (my eighties reference earlier)? Her character is a very unappealing protagonist that you root against. Hey if Snow White and Prince Charming really had a kid, I would like to think that s/he would have turned out better than being a washed-up bounty hunter with nothing to live for.
Make better backstories: Come on, does any one really want to believe that Snow White was the Robin Hood of her land? Does a grow man, who’s been granted only one wish in life, really wish to become a cricket? A cricket? Are you F#$%^ kidding me? Does anyone really think the evil queen from Snow White is a more powerful sorceress than Maleficent (my girls would hotly debate this one)? I like that you wanted to create interesting back stories, but make them a little more realistic. I mean you are, after all, trying to bring these characters into the real world.
Pick your audience: Is this program meant for children or adults? I watched it at first because I thought it would share some resemblance to Lost, but man was I disappointed. My girls watched it with me because they wanted to see their favorite fairy tale princesses living in the real world. Well, I’m bored, and my kids are having nightmares. Did you see the episode in where the kind, generous family was turned into ugly wooden dolls? My girls haven’t had a good night sleep in a week.
Anyhow, I truly try to do my best to not rip any creative idea, because it is just one man’s opinion. Clearly EW and ABC would disagree with me. It was written up as one of the new fall show winners. ABC has decided to pick-up the tale for another season. I just don’t see it. No, it’s not as bad as The Cape, but if you’re not watching it, does it really make a difference?
Well friends, I have to admit this was a new one for me. The other night I was invited to attend my first ever mystery dinner theater. I truly had no idea what to expect, but assumed it would be a good time. This is why you don’t ever assume. Say it with me – because you make an ass out of u and me. Don’t get me wrong, all in all I had a wonderful time, I just didn’t expect to be the entertainment.
When we first arrived I knew I would be in a for an interesting evening. I saw a man dressed as a sheik, not common in the Tampa area. I saw another dressed in a tux, man was I under dressed, and others yet were dressed in costumes ranging from the Phantom of the Opera to the roaring twenties. I knew we were going to a ‘billionaire’s ball‘, but I didn’t realize how serious people take these events.
We check into the theater and grab a drink by the bar. I told the wife that we better come up with a cover story as to how we made our billions, just in case we were put on the spot by the actors in the group. Boy was I lucky I at least had that frame of mind going into this event. I had no idea what was about to come my way. We were escorted to our table and had a seat with our friends. I just happened to sit near the center of the room, which in turn proved to be a big mistake.
Shorty after we sat, one of the actors approached my friend sitting to my right and placed a hat on his head. She started giving him all these instructions and he was totally lost. This was to be expected – he doesn’t speak a word of English. I made the mistake of explaining this to the woman when she took the hat from his head and placed it on mine. You’re Butterbuns, she told me. I pleaded with some other friends to take the hat, but like the big cowards that they were, they refused. I came here to be entertained, not to entertain. So be it, I’m Reginald Butterbuns. Who comes up with this stuff?
My wife assured me it wouldn’t be so bad … and then we get handed a book. Now in this book I’m to learn the back story of my character, why I had motive to kill, and what I was supposed to do. Work the room you say? Make grand speeches you say? Study your answers because people will grill you, what? Right about now I wished I didn’t speak English. The show must go on!
All said and done, I did my part. I worked the room, I got people on my side, and best of all I won the best actor award for the evening. What, little old me? I had to admit, I did have a lot of fun, and I really got into my role. I played a wealthy entrepreneur who didn’t kill his businesses partner, he just paid someone to do it for him. One of my goals was to get the audience to vote for me to be the president of the billionaires club. Who knows, maybe saying the line ‘vote for Butterbuns‘ over and over again got drilled into some heads.
Bottom line, if you ever get invited to go to a mystery dinner theater go with caution. You may end up serving the lines instead of being served. Would I do it again, maybe. At least I would know what to expect this time around, but is that really for the better? Who knows, but it did make for a memory I’ll not soon forget.
Hello readers, I’m sorry for the lack of publishing last week, but yours truly finally took some needed time off and went on vacation. Maybe I was inspired by the Captain America film I saw, or the need to visit my motherland, but I decided to take the family to Germany. Where in Germany you say? Well specifically we based our camp in Munich, or as the native Deutsche would say, Munchen (please forgive the missing umlauts at the top of the word, my computer can’t produce the symbol).
You went to Germany now you say? The global markets are collapsing, riots are hitting the streets of what are considered civilized nations, and I decided to take my family to Germany? Yes I did, and we couldn’t have been more pleased. There was so much to do and see that I couldn’t possibly give enough justice to what we did in one short blog. I will do my best to try and point out some highlights. We did however get an opportunity to visit the Schloss Neuschwanstein castle shown on the right – defintely a must see.
First off, let me just say that their city was remarkably clean. When I say clean, I don’t mean a quick coat of fresh paint on a filthy wall clean, I mean truly neat and organized. I can honestly say that I did not see one person on any corner asking for a handout. There was no debris floating around the streets and graffiti didn’t plaster the walls of the buildings. I don’t litter personally, but if I did, it certainly wouldn’t be in this city … it would be like a coffee stain on a clean sheet of paper.
The architecture was amazing. There were no buildings above nine stories high, well with the exception of the BWW building and the Olympic tower, but very few. The streets had an overabundance of beautiful trees lining the roads, and the buildings in the Odeonsplatz were amazing to view. They reminded me of the old Roman buildings, filled with marble and tall columns. There was also a church I visited in the same area that was built around the sixteenth or seventeenth century that was one of the most beautiful (next to St. Peters, of course) that I think I’ve ever seen.
Another thing that really impressed me was how organized and efficient the city appeared. Now I may have taken two years of German in high school, but to say I speak German is like saying Spanglish is a legitimate language. That stated I did not have any difficulty getting around town. When I did happen to lose myself, I simply stopped a person in the street and asked ‘Sprechen sie Englisch?‘ Most people had a basic grasp of the language, but between the two broken parts we could come to a whole. I have to admit; due to my blonde appearance more than one person came up to me and started speaking German. Imagine their disappointment when I opened my mouth to reply.
It only took us a day to get acclimated to the time change and before long, we felt very comfortable roaming the city and exploring everything Munich had to offer. My only regret is that I didn’t get an opportunity to view a Bundesliga game. Munich is home of the FC Bayern Munchen. They were in town while we were there, but from what I understand, it is next to impossible to obtain a ticket. I guess it was best I didn’t end up going, they lost the game, but it still would have been quite the experience.
All in all, I would say to anyone curious about visiting Germany, I highly recommend going to Munich. The people were friendly, the city was beautiful to see, and there is obviously a lot of history to view and family friendly things to do. If you do go, make sure to enter a beer garden. We happened to go to quite a few while we were in town. I know what you might be thinking, but you brought you’re children. Don’t worry, they’re kid friendly. One even had a play zone. The beer is strong but delicious and the servings are plentiful. My favorite was the Hofbrauhaus. They even had a live oompa band performing in their lederhosen outfits … classic. Bottom line, would I go again, short answer yes. Ich bin ein fan of Munchen.
I’ve been meaning to get to this review for some time, but as you know, life gets in the way … people to see, places to go, things to do. I did happen to catch the last installment of the Harry Potter series entitled ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part2’ when it opened and below are some thoughts. Be aware if you didn’t see the movie, this review will reveal some spoilers, but then again, if you didn’t see the movie by now, odds are you’re not going to see the movie. Too bad, it was a good one.
First off, I must admit that I have read all the Potter books and have seen all the Potter movies. Personally, if you had to choose one option, I would choose reading the books versus going to the theater for two reasons: you’ll save a ton of money, and the books simply tell a much better story. Frankly I don’t think there’s any comparison, but since my children aren’t big readers (gasp) we go to see all the movies as well.
Over the years the movies have gotten more mature. You’ve seen Harry and friends grow in more ways than one and the stories itself have drifted away from telling a children’s tale to becoming much more adult friendly. Needless to say, I’ve lost a couple of fans (my two youngest daughters) during the course of the last three films. Don’t despair Potter fans, I haven’t given up on the series, frankly, I thought the last three films were the best in the group, but I digress.
Back to part two of the Deathly Hallows. Okay, by now I’m assuming that you saw Part 1, you know the feel good movie of last summer. We pick-up the story where the group had just buried their good buddy Dobby and they begin to question a goblin about breaking into Gringotts, the wizarding bank run by goblins and home to one hell of a dragon – and act.
What did we see? Well, from this person’s point of view, non-stop action throughout the movie. Frankly I think the group of three did some of their best acting to date in this last installment. The effects used to create the dragons, the fight scenes, Hogwarts, etc. as always were quite amazing. The sound was incredible. When I listened to the dementor’s screams reverberate throughout the castle it was enough to make the hairs on the back of my neck rise (so glad I didn’t bring my girls). Of course, Voldemort couldn’t have been more evil. The overtone throughout the movie was very ominous. Now, considering that I read the book, I knew a lot of the ‘good guy’ characters were killed off, but let’s face it, there’s got to be some casualties if you’re having an end all battle at Hogwarts with nothing less than Harry Potter as the prize.
The only part of the movie that I didn’t care for, which I know I’ll get grief for mentioning, is when Voldemort kills Potter. I remember not liking this in the book either, but here I thought it was even more confusing. Did he actually die or not? You clearly see Harry drop the resurrection stone right before Voldemort hits him with his Avada Kedavra spell. He awakens and is in a sparkling white King’s Cross Station with what appears to be a baby Voldemort writhing in pain on the ground. He has a conversation with Dumbledore (which by the way comes across as a callous ass in this film) and before long is back in the forbidden forest. You clearly see him gasp, yet he’s inspected and paraded around as a dead man. The more I think about it, the more I’m scratching my head.
Other then that I thought the movie was well done and definitely worth seeing. There was a great sense of closure for Potter fans worldwide. Nice touch at the end to show the gang all grown up and married with their young ones now going to Hogwarts. Was is me, or did the women age better than the men. Ron put on some weight.
All and all it’s been a wonderful run elapsing ten years and lucrative series, grossing over six billion dollars. What will Potter fans do now? Where will Warner Brothers turn to find its next cash cow? No worries fantasy fans. There’s plenty of other wonderful tales available out there to be told. If you are in the market for a new series, might I suggest a world full of mermaids in the city of Atlantis? Just saying is all, just saying.
Mr. McCartney, I salute you. Sixty-nine years old and still rocking! I wrote a blog about my group Koncrete Kite last week in where I was proud of the fact that we, as a band, have been performing for over thirty years. Well, that’s a drop in the bucket when you compare it to all the performance this particular Beatle has done for over the past fifty-one years. Fifty-one years … that’s simply unheard of this day and age. If not already, I would imagine that it must be close to a Guinness World Record for performances by a musician over that timeframe. I do not know of any other musician, with the exception of possibly Ringo, who has performed on stage as long as Paul McCartney.
Last Friday night I had the privilege of watching Paul perform his On the Run tour live in New York City. And in typical Beatle fashion, he didn’t perform at just any venue. No, he performed in a venue fit for a Beatle – Yankee Stadium. I still recall a scalper outside of the stadium yelling at a woman who was trying to low ball him on the price of a ticket. I believe he said, “You can’t see no Pau McCartney at no Yankee Stadium for forty dollars?!?”. Suffice to say, he didn’t sell her a ticket. That was her mistake. She should have doubled her offer. Paul put on a show of a lifetime.
My wife and I flew up from Tampa earlier that afternoon and after a three-hour flight, one-hour cab ride, and forty minute subway ride (D train baby) , we arrived at the door step of Yankee Stadium just minutes before the show began. We had just enough time to grab a shirt, some beers, and find our seats. This was my first trip into the new Yankee Stadium, and I have to admit, I was impressed. What a beautiful ballpark. I’m going to have to go back some time to actually watch a game. We had a seat behind home plate (Paul performed in the outfield), kicked back in our cushioned chairs, and put our feet up on the bannister in front of us. We were ready to rock.
He opened with Hello- Goodbye a classic from the Magical Mystery Tour album and continued to play hit after hit after hit from The Beatles, to The Wings, to his current songs released over the past decade. One of my favorites was when he performed The Night Before off of the Help album as he said, “This is the first time we’ve ever performed this song live.” If you closed your eyes, you would have sworn John and George were harmonizing right along with him. He then continued to entertain the masses with hits like Paperback Writer, Eleanor Rigby, Something, A Day in the Life, and a slew of other classics. I truly felt like I was at a Beatle concert.
Not only was the music spot on, his voice held up just fine thank you, but his demeanor was wonderful. He truly appreciated his audience. He took the time to speak with us between songs, he acknowledged some cards being held up (one particular one said – Hey Paul, I’m Jude), and he told some great stories. My wife was particularly pleased when he shared the back-story to why he wrote Blackbird, which he also performed flawlessly. Finally he shared a little joke. Considering we were at Yankee Stadium, he came out and said, “Who is this Derek Jeter guy? I hear he has more hits than I do.” His response from the audience was in typical Yankee Stadium fashion with a hearty salute of Paul Mc-Cart-ney stomp –stomp-stomp-stomp-stomp.
Of course he played the classics like Let it Be, and Hey Jude. At one point asking the men and women to sing along separately to the na-na-na parts. Personally I think the men had better voices (the women sounded like children), but my wife disagrees. During the encore he busted out tunes like Lady Madonna, Day Tripper, and Get Back finally ending with The End during the second encore. My only regret is that I didn’t bring the kids, they would have loved this show. So again, I salute you Paul McCartney. I only hope I get one more opportunity to see him perform before he finally decides to hang it all up, but considering his condition, energy, and showmanship, I think I’ll get that chance.