Friday, September 30, 2011

Write 1 Sub 1 - September

Starting in July, I joined the Write 1 Sub 1 challenge.  You can either choose monthly or weekly.  I chose monthly since I write longer stories (and I'm usually crazy busy).  This means that every month, I write something, and I submit something.

In July and August, I met the challenge, but a few days late.  This time, I beat the end of the month, which meant a little hunkering down the last couple of weeks.

Write 1: "The Long Hall" - an excerpt taken from my yet-to-be-published novel "Escape From the Planet Justice."

Sub 1: "The Depths of Inner Space" - the journey of three scientists through the center of the earth.


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Saturday, September 17, 2011

2011 TV Fall Preview

Here's my list of shows that I'll try to watch this Fall.  It all starts this upcoming week, and just in time as SyFy summer comes to a close.  Note: all times are Eastern.

New Shows

Person of Interest (CBS Thursday 9PM - 9/22): As this is produced by J. J. Abrams and Christopher Nolan's brother, Jonathan, I'm already excited.  What happens when you team up Benjamin Linus with Jesus?  You get a scientist and a "dead" CIA agent who try to stop crimes before they occur.  Note: don't confuse this with last year's low-rated film by the same name.

Terra Nova (FOX Monday 8PM - 9/26): It reminds me of one of the only two "South Park" episodes I ever watched.  People from the future go back in time to give life a second chance.  Despite the premise being a little silly, this looks like an exciting show.  You can't go wrong with Steven Spielberg, but I really hope this won't be a "Jurassic Park" rehash.

Grimm (NBC Friday 9PM - 10/21): This dude is a descendant of the Brothers Grimm.  It turns out the stories really happened, and the Grimm line has the power to see people as they really are.  This show could either be really great or it could fall on its face.

Once Upon A Time (ABC Sunday 8PM - 10/23): Of the four new shows I'm choosing to watch, this one appears to be the most interesting and imaginative.  It's written by those LOST guys, so anything could happen.  It appears that there's the "real world" and the "fairy world" that happen at the same time?  And the characters exist in both worlds?  We'll see how it goes.  It's also got Robert Carlyle, who always plays a fun, conflicted bad guy.

Returning Shows

The Office (NBC Thursday 9PM - 9/22): Can the show survive without Steve Carell?  They're adding James Spader as the new CEO.  He's a genius.  Rumor is it that they will have one of the existing regulars take Micheal's job.  Who will it be?  Jim?  Dwight?  Creed?  I've got to keep watching and see how the show ends.

Fringe (FOX Friday 9PM - 9/23): So far it's my favorite Network show currently showing.  When we last left off, Peter Bishop has ceased to exist.  What does that mean?  I hope they don't resolve it in just one or two episodes (like Mika coming back to Warehouse 13).  I hope they drag it out to an awesome emotional climax at a mid-season finale.

The Simpsons (FOX Sunday 8PM - 9/25): Can't stop watching them.  D'oh!

Psych (USA Wednesday 10PM - 10/12): The funniest show I'm still watching.  It's my kind of humor, and they keep referring to the 80's.  That's my era.

The Walking Dead (AMC Sunday 9PM - 10/16): The biggest surprise of last year.  I'm waiting patiently for it to restart.  This show actually gave me nightmares (usually featuring me as a zombie and realizing it's not really that bad).  We'll see if they can keep it up.

Chuck (NBC Friday 8PM - 10/21): I'll keep watching this one as long as they show it.  The episodes are hit-or-miss, but there are still some pretty funny moments.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Review - Rango and Mars Needs Moms

Today I'll review two movies--one critically acclaimed and one critically slammed.  And guess what!  I had the exact opposite reaction.

Rango:  Currently, this sits at 7.5 on  Roger Ebert says, "An animated comedy for smart moviegoers."  I had high hopes for this movie, but something just felt missing.

The movie does have its moments.  There are quite a few funny scenes (most of which are in the previews).  The plot is somewhat interesting, though it's just another typical Western.  (Hey, I did like Cowboys and Aliens.)  There's noticeable character development (though formulaic).  The animation is nearly flawless.  It had all the makings of a great film, so why was I disappointed?

It was just boring.  I don't know if it was pacing, or the fact that I don't really like lizards.  Or perhaps it was the feeling that I saw it all before and knew what was going to happen and wished for someone to change the formula.

But most importantly, my kids thought it was boring.  The only things they liked were the "Pirates of the Caribbean" references.  (I'll take their word for it.  I did recognize the one scene lifted from "At World's End.")  The innuendos and the beheaded naked Barbie top made my older kids uncomfortable.  Just like the recent Land of the Lost, this movie struggles to find its target audience.  Is it for kids?  The trailer seems to say so.  Then why all the sex jokes?  Kids really do pick up on those, and if they're not old enough to understand, they just feel uncomfortable.  If you make a really good movie, then you don't need to "add something for the adults."  Look at "Toy Story" and ... well ... most Pixar movies.

Despite all the positives this movie had, it just didn't deliver.

Mars Needs Moms: This sits at 4.9 on  Jason McKiernan of says, "Mars doesn't need moms, and Earth doesn't need this movie."  Very witty and a typical critic attitude.  If it's trash, it doesn't even deserve to exist.  Lo and behold, the $150 million movie didn't even break $22 million.

I had already heard what the critics said and avoided this movie until it appeared on our Netflix queue.  I was pleasantly surprised.  Sure, the whole concept is idiotic.  (That didn't stop me from enjoying Tron and Tron: Legacy.)  Sure, the animation is no where near Pixar quality.  (Though the whole matching human movement technology is pretty cool and I liked all the color combinations.)  Sure, the setup of the problem (women separated from men, and women raised by nanny bots) and the whole resolution is absurd.  (But what else do you expect from a Disney movie?)

There is a lot in this movie for anyone to despise it, but something happened when I watched.  The jokes were funny.  Some of the scenes were touching.  This movie had heart.  My kids--ALL OF THEM--watched it the whole way through.  There was no running around hitting each other or running to the bathroom saying, "Don't pause it for me."  Something about the movie was captivating.

To summarize:

Rango = good but boring.  Kids went to sleep and/or got offended by sex jokes.
Mars Needs Moms = bad but captivating.  Kids even watched the extras on the DVD.

My advice: if you watch "Rango," plan to watch it without the kids, and put on your "smart" hats.  You wouldn't want Ebert to call you dumb.

If you have kids, put "Mars Needs Moms" on your queue.  It's definitely worth a buck, and you may even enjoy this sleeper.  And if a critic catches you watching it, you can just go tell him to ...