Good Morning

Good morning all! I am heading off to work in a few minutes, drinking coffee, preparing myself for the day ahead. I still need to decide what to bring for lunch… Hmmm.

I have been meaning to update everyone on a few things. First, I finished a couple books, so prepare yourself for a few book reviews! I have also watched a couple movies that I plan on throwing in my thoughts for your enjoyment. I have undertaken a new project (more on that later) and I have been working on my novel. I think it is going to be great (of course I do, otherwise, I would have trashed it).

The 4th of July was memorable, particularly the part where I lit a firework called the Piñata Buster and tried to guess whether a paper mâché unicorn was going to come out or if it was going to explode into candy… neither happened, but it was pretty.

One more thing, I live in Las Vegas and right now one of our greatest escapes, Mt. Charleston, is sadly on fire. It has been burning for about a week, no injuries are yet reported and no structural damage has occured, but with whole communities up there (all evacuated) and 700 people fighting to increase the 15% containment, it is a very scary and dangerous threat. So send your well wishes, prayers and if you have any extra, please send your rain.

And I’m off to work! Have a great Monday everybody! (Oh shoot, lunch!)

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Gasp! Some Air, Some Time, and a Post on Where the Heck I’ve Been

Alright guys, what has it been… closing in on 3 weeks with no posts? Yep, today marks 3 weeks exactly. I’m sure by now I seem like the every-writer-ever stereotype of high energy enthusiasm followed immediately by the typical depressed crash, resulting in weeks of shuttered windows, alcohol abusing, and dark writing that only ever ends crumpled or possibly on fire. Though I do consider myself slightly disturbed, very occasionally known for the abuse of alcohol, and certainly a drifter into near depression none of the above are a reason for my long absence. (I really wish any of those were, in that case I may have at least come out with something on paper). The truth of the matter, I have not written a sad single line.

So if depression, alcoholism, or other writer blocking woes are not the cause, what is?

Work. The day job. My legal assistant and file clerk position, now including fire fighter extraordinaire, superhero, and the trades master.

Here are some highlights of the past weeks. Our computer system went down. Upon restoring the servers, we encountered other issues. Our accounting and data program lost a years worth of information. Now, we back up everything hard copy, so it’s a matter of restoring the past years worth of data – a complicated process, but we are making progress.

But imagine trying to send out bills or explain to others how the accounting data is a year behind and we need to look things up manually, or how the balance forward is not an accurate depiction of the account. In this day, when people are accustomed to producing this info in a click or two, its extremely frustrating and fairly unnerving.

Throw in a few (very) heated office meetings, upset coworkers, and a robbery (just to spice it up) and I’ve got hell on the 16th floor.

My silver lining? I was praised for my contribution when it came to getting the system back in order (not that it’s all in order yet) but like I said, progress. The whole project could take a couple months.

So, I’ve spent my normal writing time either working or exhausted and trying to sleep and I’ve produced nada.

Hopefully, now that I can see the light and things are slightly slowing, I can pick back up and start writing more. I might give myself another week to just feel out the “could this really be true” emotion I’m feeling, but I’ll be posting on any day I have the time.

Glad to be out from under my rock 🙂

Go Ahead and Smile!

Top pick squee pictures from Failblog Squee website… A great site if you are looking to laugh, waste time, and boost your own esteem through the fails of everyone else. Most of their sister sites adhere to producing those results. However, the Squee sister site offers the hilarious and adorable pet pictures that result in all of those effects, just not at someone else’s expense.

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Finally! A Game of Thrones Review

Alright, I finished the first book in George R. R. Martin’s series, A Song of Fire and Ice, A Game of Thrones and am ready to review.

First a summary. This epic series follows many characters from all over the Seven Kingdoms and beyond, many from one of several houses. Each house, Stark, Lannister, Baratheon, Frey etc. have very specific codes of life, motos, symbols of their lineage and family and all are apart of the events that take place in Realm. Events that shape the future, sometimes a butterfly effect that takes time to see the pending tsunami, sometimes a very swift consequence results. With Lords and ladies, peasants, butchers, white walkers (zombies), dragons, dark magic, savages, knights, kings, dire-wolves and the old gods and the new, this story is packed with characters. When the Hand of the King dies, the King announces Lord Eddard Stark of Winterfell to take his place, but this means moving the Stark family from the cold wintery North to the Summer South, a move not easy to make. When Lady Stark learns that there may have been foul play regarding the death of the Hand, the Starks agree Eddard must go to discover the truth… And so much truth there is to find! Across the sea, the last of the House of Dragons, the Targaryens, plot to retake the Iron Throne. Meanwhile something is awakening beyond the wall, something that is stirring up winter, a very long and cold one soon to be upon the Realm.

I don’t want to give anything away (for those of you under a rock, who still have not read or seen the show), so that’s about as much summary as I can muster.

So, I’ve already talked about how much I like the show (a lot!) and I mentioned really enjoying the book when I was not finished with it, so my judgement on this one is no surprise -I loved it.

What I think is exceptional about this book is the epic quality. It seems that every character, no matter how large their role, whether they die within 20 pages or last till the end, all have a great depth. I think what adds to this are the roles of the houses, and family ties. Each house has a very specific mood, attitude, and the members of the house all exude those qualities (with some strong exceptions), even the symbols of the house reflect who they are and what they are like. I think that makes the reader already mindful of a history of each house without needing to delve extremely far. It seems that many of the devices Martin uses are along the lines of “it’s the little things.” I think the author does a great job at giving you enough information that you understand the history, and yet he does not bore you with over explaining or lose you in a run down of what happened before the current King. The author allows the history to be brought up in conversations, so the reader gets a piece by piece picture of the entirety all while the current events are changing the future of the kingdoms, in significant, maddening ways.

One thing that took me by surprise is how dang close the show and books are, seriously, nearly word for word. So much so that I am tempted to skip the second book and plunge into the third to keep up with show.

There are 2 things the book offers a (slightly) deeper view into: Bran (a Stark boy, who loses his ability to walk, but gains a third eye type visionary wisdom) and the dire-wolves in general. In the show you see the same three-eyed crow that leads Bran as in the book, but in the book there are a few more dreams, a few instances that show his abilities. For the dire-wolves in the show, viewers understand that they are extensions of the Stark children, but in the book the dire-wolves connection with their respective owner seems magnified. I’m not sure whether it’s simply reading the words versus watching a picture, but something in the book makes them even more of a special addition to the story.

I was talking with someone at work about Game of Thrones and because it’s fantasy, and the author names sound similar, J. R. R. Tolkien came up in the conversation. My coworker looked shocked when I admitted that I think Game of Thrones is better than Lord of the Rings, but here is my reasoning. While Tolkien is an amazing visionary writer and the plot is fantastic, and the characters are loveable, he tends to write several tens of pages on walking in a forest, or a swamp, eating biscuits and elf bread. Don’t get me wrong, Tolkien’s a master of fantasy, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t skip full paragraphs, because walking is boring. That’s where Martin shines. He brought the cliffhangers of a thriller into the fantasy, and a character never walks for a full paragraph without something interesting happening or a new thought, or an emotional connection being built. His editor was, hands-down, a genius. Almost every single chapter ends when you don’t want it to, right in the middle of a huge event, or right after a revelation. He leaves you never bored and always wanting more and that’s the secret. Cut the stuff people are going to skim through anyways, reduce it to a concise transition and then cut the reader off from some information, leave them pining for more.

The other, and possibly only other, area Martin outshines Tolkien is character development. While Tolkien has as many characters and races as Martin, their treatment varies. Both authors built up rich histories for the races/houses and the characters themselves, but where Tolkien’s characters are added depth and revealed from a handful of perspectives (mostly good guys), Martin uses each chapter as another character, constantly changing the view until circling back around and repeating. Martin’s characters in general are not specifically bad or good, which I think makes them deeper automatically, because you see each character make good and bad decisions, it creates a grey area of their personality and makes them very relatable, very human and you find yourself feeling bad for the bad guys and wanting to smack the good guys. It complicates how the reader feels about the characters. Also, Martin has the guts to kill off beloved characters. With Tolkien, you could trust that everything was going to work out. Not with Martin, even if you think a person is the main character, there is no singular main character, just the realm and the game of thrones.

Solomon Kane, Surprisingly Decent

The movie Solomon Kane is currently on X-Box for free viewing. Since I saw free I decided to check it out. I viewed the trailer first, to see how interesting it seemed. Well, I was surprised it was a free viewing, because the production value was pretty darn good, the storyline seemed promising and there were intriguing characters I wanted to see in action.

And it followed through.

Who doesn’t like a story about a ruthless, greedy pirate (maybe privateer), whose soul is damned and needs redemption. Sound fairly decent for the foundation plot? I’d say so. Solomon Kane is fearless, he is ruthless, his men are expendable, killing comes naturally to him, until on a raid he comes into a room where, after all his men are killed by souls/demons, he stands alone, still fearless, against a reaper. The reaper informs him that the darkness will come for him and he is bound for Hell. This scares Solomon into seeking sanctuary and restoring his life to a peace, in hopes that he will find redemption. Still haunted by dreams of his past Solomon is asked to leave so that he may find his own path of redemption.

Leaving his sanctuary, but upholding his peaceful ways Solomon refused to fight when he needed to the most -not to kill for the sake, or because he is good at it, or for greed, but because it fighting is sometimes the correct response.

The consequences of his lack of fighting and standing up for others, forces him back into the killing lifestyle, forfeiting his redemption, but a large point in the movie is that many different journeys are actually the path to redemption, and for Solomon, killing is a part of himself part of his path to redemption.

The movie definitely delivered interesting creatures, from the initial mirror souls, and the reaper, to witches and Black Plague zombies, sorcerers and a masked raider, but this plot had a lot going on. So much so, that in fact may have been its hiccup. It was all great, but I wanted to see more of certain things. The revelation at the end was fantastic, but it was muddled by another character being present. I think this could have been solved by making the movie longer, or cutting some characters so the main ones can have more time. I think it actually would have worked well as a mini series.

Another thing that threw me off a little was trying to figure out the time period. With the buckled pirate/privateer look, the donning of the Puritan buckled hat, the castles, and the wood carriages, the presence of the Black Plague, I may be completely wrong here (I’m certainly no expert) but it just had me flipping from the 14th century to the 16th.

All in all it was really entertaining, very well done in most respects. It made me wonder why it did not release to theaters, because if Eragon could make some money, this one certainly could also.