Friday, December 31, 2010

Another One Bites The Dust


Well, it's over.

2010 something of a mixed year for me. It's high point was the release of my first novel, The Ways of Khrem, by Pill Hill Press. It has also seen the publication of two other short stories in anthologies by Pill Hill Press, and five short stories in anthologies by LL Dreamspell. That's not counting the four self published stories that I released on Amazon.com myself. So in the writing game, this year has seen a lot of my work hit the market.


Sadly, the bulk of that work was written in 2009, or early 2010. I sort of spun my wheels in the second half of the year and don't have a lot to show for it. I did get some work done...two short stories and about forty five thousand words on Argiope...but none of it is hitting the shelves anytime soon so it doesn't feel like anything really got accomplished until I'm at least holding a finished rough draft in my hand.

On the other hand, there was plenty of kids and other forms of wildlife this year. Mainly raccoons...





So there was that... but there was also some good times... We did more as a family this year than we have done before. Whether it was going to the zoo, going to a restaurant, or enjoying a night out watching the fireworks...good times were had.



This bodes well for 2011, and I intend to expand on these adventures. Perhaps a museum, or an amusement park, or some other place where I can bask in the magic of a family outing. I'm looking forward to those.

Unfortunately, soaking in the family magic wasn't all I was taking in...



There was also the matter of me assuming my new spherical form. It seems my plans to lose weight this autumn failed rather spectacularly. I gained quite a bit. So guess what one of my New Years resolutions is going to be. Yeah, I'm going to call it Project: Deflate Nate. That sounds catchy, and is sadly far more apropos than I would like.

So, all in all 2010 saw a lot of positive things but too much of it was the result of work put in during 2009 for my comfort. On the bright side, things DID get done so I do have things to build on. I just need to reflect on what needs to be done, so I can approach it in a whole new spirit as opposed to just struggling forward with old ideas. I think I can do that.

So here is wishing everybody a glorious last day of 2010. Spend it well! It's ending on a Friday, which is perfect because you can't do better than a New Year that kicks off on a weekend. I have a feeling that 2011 is giong to be a good one :)

Thursday, December 30, 2010

While The Gluten Wears Off


Yes, I'm still stupid from gluten.

It takes days for the worst of it to get out of my system, and I'm not really "clean" of it until a couple of weeks have gone by. So today, I pretty much slept the day away while Karla was home to watch the kids.  I'm not going to have any more, so my GFCF diet has actually begun right now. It will simply be official come January the first.

Sometimes though, even when I'm in a gluten fog I can have a decent idea.

For instance, I was thinking about The Mushroom Man and realized that the antagonist to that might actually fit better into the world of Khrem. So what was originally conceived as a Shades story might end up being a case for Cargill and Drayton in the next Khrem book. I still kind of like the whole Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser approach to that series, and I'm a little reluctant to give it up. Trying to make an entire single story novel would change the pacing and character of the series, and I don't know if I want to do that. That's not to say I'm against writing a novel set in the world of Nur, I just don't know if it ought to be part of the Cargill of Khrem series.  But again, this is just musing and nothing is set in stone.

I also definitely need to rewrite the last two scenes of Argiope so I can move forward again. So there's that, too.

Anyways, we have the lady who cleans our house coming tomorrow, so I have to straighten it up so it won't be in such sad shape that she flees sobbing out the door at the sight of it. Yeah, it's that bad. I slept in today, remember? She's lucky that I'll be up tonight so I can clean her a path to the mess.

Ah well, I'll just keep the old gray cells relaxed as they try to clean themselves of toxins and see if that results in any more story ideas coming to me. I need more of those if I'm going to get something done in the coming year.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Writer's Night Out: Glutenized


So Cherri Galbiati and I were both bored and decided to have an impromptu Writer's Night Out, last night. We had a good time talking the business of writing, and our determination to be productive next year...in between bouts of yawning and bleary eyed spells of silence. She was tired from too little sleep and I was stoned stupid from all the gluten I've been eating lately...especially the chicken fried steak I had while I was there. I really felt that one, and it may have been the straw that broke the camels back. I think it's time to stop the gluten.

The kids are doing okay, although the five year old managed to get hold of the seven year old's new Tron action figure and completely dismember him. Needless to say, there was grief and acrimony in kidville. I call this the post Christmas aftermath, when the kiddos have managed to broaden their focus from just what they got for Christmas and take an interest in the loot of their siblings. It never goes well. Never.

Anyways, back to writing.

I'm hoping to start strong in January and get some work done. I'm building up my resolve now to go back on the gluten free diet and to get all the gluten out of the house. All of it. I think my wife has a couple of stashes that she thinks are secret, but they must go. It is time to get puritanical and put that scarlet G back on the stuff. I need to function. I'll probably even go off the casein for a while too. Anyways, those are the tops of my New Years resolutions. I haven't codified them into a strong, well worded resolution yet but I intend to. That way I can repeat it to myself in the hopes of improving my odds of keeping it. Some vague statement about doing something to address my immense rotundness just doesn't cut it.

Oh well, I've got a day or two left to think about it...but it is now time to start thinking about it.

Happy Humpday, folks!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Time to Think About Getting Back To It.


Well, now that I've been home for a day I suppose I'm expected to do something useful...other than keep the kids from pillaging and  plundering the place more than usual that is. I made a half hearted swipe at the kitchen, but it still looks pretty grim. The living room is livable in name only, but I'm not being picky yet so semi-livable is an acceptable status for now. The litter boxes are cleaned, and the cats have quit casting threatening looks at the nearby rugs. I'm beginning to settle back in, even though I still have boxes of gifts and stuff to figure out how to sort into their new places.

I suppose I ought to water the tree too. We're leaving it up till New Years, for our little get together, and the thing hasn't been watered since we got it. On the other hand, I suppose I could just not water it and by New Years it should be dry enough to simply ignite when we plug in the Christmas lights and we could start the new year off with a bang. That "bang", of course, would be my wife beating me about the head for getting her living room sooty.

I haven't done any writing, but I wasn't planning on it yet. First of all, I'm still so full of gluten that I'm lucky to even be able to remember I'm supposed to write from time to time...and second there is still the matter of the two howler monkeys I've been blessed with for children who are still home with me all day. I'm doing a little mental planning on it though, and I'm starting to suspect I'm going to have to back up about two scenes in Argiope and rewrite a scene to delete a character from it, so I can use her more effectively later in the story. I also think doing that will unblock me where I'm at in the story and allow me to move forward again.

Sigh, that's just the way these things work sometimes.

Anyways, it's been a great Christmas where I've shared time with family, and even had the pleasure of hearing from an old friend or two.

Now I just need to get ready for New Years...without the burning tree, I guess...although when you think about it, a raging Christmas tree would add a certain something to a party.

Monday, December 27, 2010

...And We're Home.


So, we are finally home.

The kids are snoring softly in their beds while their parent's are tucked in front of warm computers and surfing the internet. The cats are happy to have us back and directed our attention to their bowls, which they felt were getting unacceptably low on contents. I think even the raccoon in the attic is happy to have us back since I can hear him doing cartwheels above my head.

And it was a good Christmas.

My family, my sisters family, my brothers family, and my cousin's family all met and spent a couple of days at my parents house. Somebody hooked up a wii to a projection TV so there were constant Mario races going on on the back wall of the living room almost the entire time we were there. My attempt at making gluten free chocolate cookies was a success and they were liked by all. The kids all made out like bandits on Christmas morning, and the adults did pretty good themselves. (I got a gift car for a BBQ grill. Woohoo! And Karla put her new kindle to good use) And the Christmas feast was fantastic. It took three tables to hold us all, but we were all in there and having a great time.

So, it's all good.

Now a new week stretches before me, and my poor wife has to go to work. I still have a week home alone with the kids so I'll be pulling my share of the weight as well this week. I'll need to help Rowan catch up on her homework, and try to start getting Sheridan back in the school spirit too. Ah well, things to do...things to do.

Have a good week, folks. And I hope everybody had a Merry and Safe Christmas.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

It Went Well, and It's Still Going


Pictured above is the tree and presents, not long before the juvenile horde descended like locusts upon it in a frenzy of gift-getting glee. This was followed later in the day by a resplendent Christmas feast. Everybody is now happy and stuffed full of turkey and dressing.

We will be staying at Nonni's another day and head home sometime Sunday.

All is well in our world tonight.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas, Everybody.


It's one o'clock in the morning on Christmas Eve, and the rest of the family is snoring peacefully away in their beds. Here's hoping they're doing the same thing at this time tonight at Nonni's house. I remember how hard it was as a kid to go to sleep on Christmas Eve. I remember how that clock on the wall seemed to slow to a crawl. But I also remember the magic.

Magic is about the possible. And when you are a child, your universe is still filled with the possible. It's only as we grow up do we start getting taught how much can't be...but as a child, the possible and the real often seemed to overlap.

For I also remember straining my ears in the dark. On most nights, any stray creak or groan of the house could be the movement of some monster lurking in the dark and harboring awful intentions in regards to my shivering young self...but not tonight. No sir, not on this night. This night, those sounds could mean something quite different. Could that be a footstep on the roof? A distant sleigh bell from somewhere in the night sky? A rustle in the living room where the tree stood lit throughout the night so Santa could see? It was possible...

 ...and it was magic.

There aren't any atheists in foxholes, and there aren't a lot of little doubting Thomas's on Christmas Eve either.

Then time marches on, and we all grow up and learn how adult life is all about the impossible instead. We call it reality, and we shrug and tell ourselves that we are the wiser for accepting it. Most of us even believe it, too. And then we get on with life and vaguely remember the magic as a distant aspect of childhood while forgetting what it really was...how it was all about looking at the world and seeing it through the lens of the possible.

Sometimes I think it's something we might be guilty of giving up just a little too easily. I know it's harder to find in this modern age of hard science and human cynicism, but there still has to be room to ponder the possibility of something "more." Something better, something scarier, something greater, or even just something meaningful. We have to believe it's out there. And the only way to find it, is to occasionally tell the grown-up in us to shut up, and look out through the eyes of the possible. Because that's where the magic is...

Merry Christmas, everybody...and when you think about the coming year ahead, think of the possible. You'll be glad you did.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Graphic Free Thursday



Due to austerity measures required by the current dismal economy, I was forced to do without graphics for today's post. It's a tough world out there folks.

I'm down to my last bit of shopping. The mall last night was insane. The entire parking lot of the mall was full and people were parking at nearby restaurants and walking over to mall from there. I just managed to get lucky and passed a car pulling out of it's space at the very edge of the parking lot and grabbed it for myself. I never felt so fortunate to walk so far.

I also never felt so fat.

Yep, one of my New Years resolutions is going to have to involve losing a hundred pounds or so. My poor legs have enough trouble getting me around as it is without me making it harder for them. At this rate, if I ever need a wheelchair they will have to strap a diesel motor to it...and of course a beeper in case I need to back up. Anyways, that's resolution one pretty much taken care of. Try not to be so fat.

So tonight I'll go back out and try to finish my shopping after Karla gets home. I only need a few more things so things are looking good.

Wish me luck, folks!

(Correction: I said in an earlier post that this year was the first that we had a Christmas tree out in the living room. Karla lovingly assures me that that is merely a feature of my famous memory manifesting itself and that we had a tree in the living room last year as well...just in a different corner. A quick check of last years Christmas photos confirms her position, so I stand corrected. Sigh, my memory is getting tragic)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Free Story...And I Dive Into the Teeming Masses.




Hey, look up top...right below the Dark and Stormy Blog banner...do you see those orange words? Or better yet, that big shiny banner? Well, I added a page to this blog that I will be featuring free stories on from time to time. All you have to do is click on the title of the story (In this case, The Barrow Wolf), or the banner, and you go straight to page two where you can read the entire story for free. The Barrow Wolf is my most popular short story, and it will be available to read for free here on the blog for the rest of the week. It's a Christmas gift to all the fantasy readers out there.

I will post different stories and writings on Page 2 from time to time.

Now as for today, I will be waiting for Karla to get home so I can make one last dive into the merry bedlam that is the Mall. Yes, it is three days before Christmas and somehow I still have about half my shopping left to do. Remember my glorious plan to be done over a week ago? Well, that didn't happen. Now instead of going just to gloat at all the other desperate shoppers hunting that last minute purchase...I will be one of them. I'm sure there is some kind of karma involved here.

So there is that.

On the other hand, I have been doing a little research and now I'm preparing to do a little experimentation on a different project. A long time ago I was the official cookie maker in my family for Christmas. I made a bunch of Christmas cookies every year and took them to the family get together for the big day. Then it was discovered that Rowan and I were allergic to gluten. The cookies stopped and it has been almost three years since I've done that.

This year, I hope to rectify that situation. More on that in tomorrow's blog post.

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Late Start Tuesday


Rowan and I have a bit of a cold. She's coughing a little worse than I am, so I'm assuming she is feeling a little worse too. With her it is hard to tell. I went to bed at nine last night, and slept straight through till 8:30 this morning. I still didn't want to get up, but it was either that or put the kids in charge of the house. I don't want to go into how tempted I was to do that.

So I'm up.

I need to claw myself towards some semblance of humanity and see what I'm up to doing. I've fed the kiddos, and that taxed my morning energies. Now I sit surrounded by the shambles that is my house. The kids have pretty much destroyed it, and as usual I am not as fast as keeping it up behind them. Yay, Christmas vacation!

I remember how much I enjoyed Christmas vacation as a kid. But when I was a kid my mom just threw me out of the house and hoped I would wander back home before dark. I can't do that with a seven year old and a five year old in Houston. Oh well, at least for now they are each at a computer terminal and are happy. That means I've got a window of opportunity to do a little catching up, so I better get to it.

Adios and Happy Tuesday

Monday, December 20, 2010

Review: Tron Legacy


I took Sheridan to see Tron Legacy this weekend and, as the above graphic indicates, I liked it.

Let me start by saying I have never sat through the original Tron. For some reason it never grabbed my interest, and I only caught bits and pieces of it when it was showing on HBO back in the eighties. I only saw enough to get the gist of it...guy gets sucked into computer, guy has to fight for survival with aid of "program" he created, guy defeats bad guys and escapes. Overall, my  impression of the original was that it was a neat concept that would have been handled a lot better by somebody other than Disney.

So it was with mixed feelings that I took the boy. As it turned out, I enjoyed it. Now don't get me wrong, if I could have found a "stars" graphic on the internet I would have given it three and half stars out of five, so I don't think it was perfect. I just think it was a decent movie backed up by some top notch graphics. The plot was okay, the acting was okay (although I found it a little distracting when Jeff Bridges would backslide into his "Dude" persona),  the setting was fantastically done, and the action was good.

The pacing was strangely uneven. The movie starts off with a bang, and keeps going strong until up until father and son are reunited. Then what is an expected lull seems to never really be recovered from. There is more action after that, but the movie seems to have lost energy at this point. The main point of interest that never exactly gets a satisfactory answer is the fate of Tron himself (the program that aided Flynn in the first movie). I don't want to go into it more than that as it involves spoilers.

So overall, I recommend Tron Legacy. I paid full price and didn't feel cheated and that's the gold standard as far as I'm concerned.

On another note, there has been a Christmas tree standing in our living room for over twenty four hours now and it still survives. Hooray! It feels like Christmas in my house  *<|:O)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

And The Tree Goes Up



Mommy brought home the Christmas tree.

The kids were excited and full of enthusiasm. The adults were more sedate. We told the kids we would decorate the tree later in the evening...

...Rowan wasn't hearing that.



So pretty soon, we decided it would be prudent to go ahead and get to decorating. This would be the first year the tree would be out in the living room with us, and it would be the first year that Rowan was given a chance to help decorate.



As can be clearly seen, after a little coaching from her brother, she took right to it. She was thrilled and stayed on task throughout the entire process. Sheridan did a very good job too, and even helped her where he could. Then came the big moment...



And the magic was with us :)

Merry Christmas, Everybody!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Status Reports


As I go into the Christmas Vacation with kids in tow, I thought it might be useful to list my various projects and their current status.

1. Argiope: My action/horror novel now sits at seventy five thousand words. The main character is currently sitting in a waffle house with the two main supporting characters and finally getting the back story to explain what has been happening to him. There is still more treachery and gunplay in the future before the final showdown takes place, so this story is probably shaping up to be about a hundred and twenty thousand words when all is said and done. It is also very rough and I'm going to have to go back over it and do some significant editing.

2. Outcomes: This is a psychological thriller short story about a woman trying to get the man she jilted to give a kidney to the brother she jilted him for. It has now had it's first draft finished. I will probably focus on editing it as writing will be almost impossible to do over the next two weeks. It is currently using a placeholder title and that also needs to be fixed. Then I'll have to find a market for it since it won't fit in either my Shades or my Tales of Nur series.

3. The Mushroom Man: A ghost/horror story of a young female photographer who finds a corpse in the woods and decides to use it for a photo project instead of reporting it. This story has only had it's beginning written and had been shelved, but then I recently figured out a way to go forward with the story that works. This one would make a nice addition to the Shades series. The title is good and will stay.

4. The Lords of Khrem: This is in early plotting phase. I have written one tentative prologue for it but even that might change. If I follow the current plan, this one would be one solid novel instead of three shorter novellas like the first one was. It's complicated though, and I have already had to discard one plotline as unworkable after investing some time in it. So I've kind of backed off on this and I'm thinking of outlining it before diving in again. The Khrem series was originally envisioned as being like the Fafhrd and Gray Mouser series which consisted of three or four novellas per book. I'm going to have to think about this.

Shelved  projects currently include...

Daguerreotype: A ghost story about a picture found in an old house's wall, and the dangerous spirit it harbors. This one was started but then shelved because it will require at least a full length novella to do justice. It's been shelved since November 2009. The beginning can be read  here.

Western Days: An off duty police officer playing the role of a historic sheriff in a small towns historic western days has to perform a reenactment of a famous gunfight with an outlaw every weekend. Then one night after the show he finds himself facing the revenant of the real outlaw, who is not very happy about how things are being portrayed. I need to do some research on this one, and need to sort out the supporting characters. This is another Shades candidate.

That's where things sit right now. I do have other projects sitting even further back on the shelf but I have no intention of pulling them down soon so I didn't mention them.

Now if I can just find the time.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Super Mutant Slaughter Friday


So I bought Fallout 3 and installed it on my laptop.

Now as if I didn't have enough things to keep me away from writing, I now have a sworn duty to patrol the irradiated wastelands around post WWIII Washington DC and kill mutants. I suppose I'll fit it into my schedule somewhere. Some things have to be done, and I couldn't live with myself if I didn't do my part.


Me Having Fun

So there's that now.

Today is a half day for the kids, and then they are home for the next two weeks. So it wasn't like I was going to be cranking out reams of story anyways. I'll just be resting my mind (yeah, right) and trying to come up with fresh and new ideas while I'm busy with the kids. Other than that, I'll be taking my frustrations out on the mutants in the aforementioned wastelands. See my strategy now?

I still have Christmas shopping to do, so things are beginning to get tight. I had hoped to have it all done before the kids were on their Christmas vacation, but it just didn't work out that way. I probably shouldn't be surprised...just because I should have known that intending to have it done before then almost assuredly meant that there was no way in the universe that I would. That's just the way my karma rolls. So I will be hitting the stores with kids in tow.

Shoot me now.

Actually, there may be a ray of hope as Karla will be off Sunday and maybe I can get it done then. Of course there is that whole intentions and karma thing to take into account, but a guy can dream.

Ah well, it's Friday and I want to wish everybody a happy weekend. So....Happy Weekend!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Working On It


Recently I have had a couple of reviews of The Ways of Khrem.

The first one was at Two Ends of the Pen. The second one can be found at The Wormhole. Both reviewers seemed to enjoy the book and gave it good marks. These, and a recent advertisement run on Kindle Nation Daily, have been part of my marketing campaign for the book. There are still some reviewers I have contacted and sent manuscripts to that I'm hoping will review the book someday soon.

The problem is that marketing takes away from writing.

Lately it is one of the things that has been cutting into my writing deeply, and that has to stop. Marketing is important, but so is getting product out there to sell. And it has to be good stuff that won't hurt me when somebody spends money on it. So marketing is about to be one of the things that I'm going to be cutting back on when the new year starts. 2011 is going to be all about me getting back to writing. There is going to have to be some changes in some other areas too, but marketing is one of the big ones. I'll take it up again once I have another novel and some more stories out there to push.

Today is also the last shopping day before Christmas that I won't have the kids home with me. I guess that means I might ought to go look at a store or two. It's a thought. It's either that or be pushing a cart through a crowd of Christmas shoppers with two little monkeys along with me hurling "helpful" suggestions on what I ought to be getting others for Christmas. Yeah, I'm sure Grandma will really want that Hot Wheels car set.

So that's it for today. Just a foreshadowing a changes to come in the new year.

Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


So I went and had a mid-week Writer's Night Out with Cherri Galbiati last night.

We ate chips and dip, and talked about writing. Or to be honest, we talked about not writing. We've both been having problems with that lately, and we don't like it. Our productivity is way down, and we're not too happy with the stuff we have managed to get done. And a lot of that has to do with getting lost in the forest and not seeing the trees anymore.

I have been so focused on different aspects of the field of writing lately that it's becoming hard to get any actual writing done. I've been worrying about sales, trying to figure out why one story sells and another doesn't, checking my sales on the internet every few hours, trying to figure out which book covers work and which ones don't, wondering about titles and why some seem to be catchy and some aren't, thinking about promotions, and just generally lost in a mindset that is not at all conducive to the act of sitting down and writing a story.

I intend to do something about that. Let's just say that there are a couple of New Year's resolutions coming that involve more than me maintaining my current role as the pinnacle of male perfection.

But now Christmas is the thing I must focus on, and there are yet presents to buy. I need to dig back through old emails and try to find gift lists that I have been assured were sent to me. Then I guess it's off to the malls.

Tis the season...

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Are You Going To Eat That?


Okay, so I my wife started laughing at me when I made myself the snack photographed above. I'm not sure what she found funny about it, and she refused to tell me. All she would say is "I can't believe you are having that." I don't know if she were referring to calories, cold weather, or what...but I'm sure I'm being oppressed.

Oh well, it doesn't matter.

First of all, I am off all my diets till New Years. I hereby resolve to spend the next two weeks getting so fat that Santa will slink away in shame when he enters my enormous shadow. I intend to be so glutenized that my IQ will rival those of people famously named Gomer, Jethro, and Reverend Jim. I'm going to have my blood sugar so high that any mosquito stupid enough to bite me will die of hyperglycemic shock before they can pull out. When I run out of fingers and toes, I'll just start counting chins. Yesiree, they won't be able to get me near a beach without the tide coming in.

And I feel pretty good about it.


So as long as people keep fingers and small children from between me and the munchies, it's all going to work out fine :)

Come January, I'll have a whole new set of resolutions designed to improve me as an author, a husband, and a human being...and I will be sure and flog myself for all the gluttonous debauchery I indulged in over the holidays...but until that time I figure that I need to do something to repent of first. Then I'll go back to counting calories, carbs, gluten content, etc.

Besides, I need to build up energy for my next assault on the malls. I figure I can't fall down an escalator if my butt won't fit between the walls of the thing. Then I can just thunder through the place picking those last presents, while mothers clutch their children close to keep them from being squished by the lumbering menace as I go by. Which reminds me, I need to check out what restaurants are in that mall. I'm a man on a mission!

So Merry Christmas, folks! The Time of Good Cheer (and guilt free indulgence) is upon us!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Ho! Ho! Holiday Shopping Massacre!


So after a family night out at the drive-in that went reasonably well, Karla and I decided that getting some Christmas shopping done and getting our tree would be next on our itinerary. With Christmas still two weeks away, it only made sense to get an early start. And what could go wrong?

First, just to add an extra element of holiday cheer to the occasion, we stopped at Asian City for some chinese food. That used to be my all time favorite resturant before I went on a gluten free diet. Since I have declared myself diet free this December, it only made sense to give the place a visit and do some quality eating. And boy did we. The waiter warned us that we were ordering so much that he better have the to-go boxes ready, but he was wrong.

We ate, and we ate, and we ate, and then we ate some more. Which probably wasn't the wisest course for a guy who already has weak legs and has a lot of mall walking ahead of him.

Anyways we waddled into the mall and got to shopping. We bought one game for a young nephew, then proceeded onto the next location...and that's where I encountered the Escalator of Doom


Karla and the kids were about fifteen feet in front of me, which is normal since I don't move very fast. So they were quite a bit below me when I followed them onto the escalator down. Fortunately this turned out to be a good thing. Somehow, just as I stepped onto the escalator, my cane seemed to shift and my leg collapsed under me at the same time. I instinctively tried to catch myself on the sides, and lost my grip on the cane in the process. So I ended up doing this pratfall on the escalator that looked like something right out of a Three Stooges show while also sending my cane skittering down the steps.

So now my hip hurt, my cane was an unguided missile, and I had childhood visions of being eaten by the bottem of the escalator suddenly rearing in my head.

Fortunately, Karla heard the thunderous crash of me floundering to the floor. She showed remarkable reflexes and managed to snag my cane as it tried to skitter by. I on the other hand was struggling to my feet, still wondering if it was possible to get eaten  by an escalator. I know it's not supposed to be, but I wasn't about to test my luck. To add drama to the thing, my braces seemed to be catching on the metal steps of the escalator, making it difficult to get my legs under me at all. Fortunately I managed to pull myself up before I reached bottom and avoided getting eaten, or the even worse fate of simply arriving at the bottom in a tangled heap.

I limped along behind the family again, then sat at the first bench while they did one more piece of shopping. We had barely begun shopping and it only made sense to try and get something else. After that, Karla decided to call it a day and home we went. The kids were actually wanting to go home anyways. We decided to put off getting the tree till Weds. Karla and I can do some Christmas shopping then while the kids are in school. This will give both my hip and my dignity time to recover enough to set foot outside once more.

Anyways, Happy Monday folks! Only eleven more days till Christmas!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Drive In Review: Tangled


So, Karla and I packed up the kiddos and took them out to the drive in to see Tangled. The kids were a bit restive about being cooped up in a car, especially Rowan, but they finally settled. It also didn't get as cold as we feared so nobody froze anything important off while watching the movie.

And the movie was a good one.Disney got this one very, very right.

The story is based on the fairy tale of Rapunzel. An old witch would visit this magic flower ever so often to sing to it and it would make her young again. Then one day the king has the flower picked and used to save his dying wife and child. The magic of the flower rested in the baby's hair, so the witch kidnapped the baby and locked her in a tower. Now everytime Rapunzel sings, her hair glows and heals all wounds and temporarily the ravages of time. But she can never cut it or it loses it's magic. Then our young thief/hero shows up with stolen goods, and the story begins.

Flynn just wants to escape, and hides in Rapunzels tower without knowing what was going on. He is clobbered with a frying pan (a recurrent joke that stays funny) and Rapunzel hides his loot and won't give it back unless he takes her out of her tower and shows her the world. Rapunzel herself is easily the best character of the movie. Disney's heroines have been decent lately as far as I'm concerned, but Rapunzel is easily the most likable one they have come up with in a long time. And the rest of the cast is rather likable as well.

The humor works, the story works, the animation is great, and if there is any weak spot to the movie at all it's probably that the villainess doesn't really come across as frightening as some of Disney's former efforts. Don't get me wrong, she ain't bad (well, she is evil of course) but she is more snarky at times than scary. It kind of dilutes her impact. But still, I give this movie two thumbs up and 9 stars out of 10.

We also saw Megamind again, and it was easy to watch through for a second time. I've already reviewed it earlier, and gave it a good review as well.

Oh well, that's it for the weekend. The house is a mess and something must be done. The Cowboys play tomorrow night. Then there is Christmas shopping. Busy, busy, busy!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Dear Santa


Dear Santa,

The thing I want most this Christmas is to get my Christmas shopping done by next week. That would really be swell. And if you could toss a reindeer or two my way to help, or even an elf, that would be excellent. Of course, they may be busy at the moment so I would happily settle for a little flying dust...or is that fairy stuff? I don't know, I don't follow that stuff.

Anyways, I'm doing my part as I have sent lists for the kids off to my family, and I'm hoping to hear back from them soon. I'm also going through Amazon.com hunting those early gifts. The less time I'm hauling my poor fat gimpy self through the malls, the better. I do intend on visiting a mall, but the plan is to already have my shopping done and just show up to soak up the ambiance...and feel superior to all the other people rushing around desperately for that last minute gift. The Joy of Gloating.

I also hope to make the best of this last upcoming week of sanity before the kids get two weeks off for Christmas. This time I intend to approach it in a more positive fashion and try and find ways to have fun with it. They're only this age once, right? But if you feel like throwing a little of that jolliness my way, it would really be appreciated.

Next week should also be interesting writing wise. I'm hoping to get in two blog reviews, and a promotion from kindle daily all in the same week. That is if things work out right. I guess we shall see. I'll be sure and link to the blog reviews when they come in.

On a last note, I went ahead and gave my wife her Christmas present early since she already knew what it was going to be,  and anyways she picked up the package on the porch before I got to it. I got her a Kindle DX and she loves it. Hubby did good.  Now I feel much more Christmasy :)

Your pal,

Nate

PS. I'm still leaning towards a nice BBQ grill as I pretty much have everything else I need and can't think of anything else I want at the moment.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Hunting the Spirit


A friend and neighbor of mine shared a few brief words as we were putting our kids on the school bus yesterday morning. She mentioned how it just didn't feel like Christmas yet to her. I understood exactly what she was talking about, as I felt pretty much the same way. Later as I recalled that brief exchange, I also considered the fact that she is an artist and I'm a writer, and I wondered if that had anything to do with it.

I realized that lately my head has been in other places, my heart in yet others, and my body sitting in a chair staring at a computer screen.  I'm never really where I am anymore lately, and that has effects. It's hard to be in the Christmas spirit when Christmas is merely a checklist of things you need to get done so you can get back to thinking and doing other things.

I know this sounds sort of funny coming on the heels of just publishing a Christmas story, but I actually wrote most of that over a month ago. I was actually in more of a Christmas spirit then...which of course meant I wasn't in the spirit of the time and place I was inhabiting at that time either. Perhaps I need to work on that. Being a writer means having to be "elsewhere" by necessity, but it wouldn't hurt to spend more time where I'm at.

So that's my point to ponder throughout today. Maybe I can find the holiday spirit, and other things, by being right where I am for a while...brain, heart, and body.

It can't hurt to try. Right?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Weds Stuff


Okay, so I got A Fission of Magic published over at Goodreads. It's free to read. The initial reactions have been positive so far, although this story is far from my usual product. I'm glad people seem to be enjoying it, and it's good to have something published this month. Everybody knows my mantra...production, production, production...but production with quality.

So now what?

Well, Christmas is kind of cutting into my writing now. Also there is the matter of me having the kids home for two weeks during the Christmas break. I have one short story I'm editing at the moment, but it isn't something that would fit with either of my current series on Amazon.com, so I'll have to figure out what to do with it once it's done. I'll probably just shelve it until I write a couple of other things to bundle it with...or hunt for an online ezine that could use it.

Then there is the matter of me getting into some gluten lately. That may cut into my productivity as well. It's kind of hard to avoid this time of year, and I'm honestly not in the mood to avoid it at the moment. It's Christmas, dammit...and I want to eat like a normal person for a little bit. So there's that as well. I've noticed before how my production seems to fall off when I eat gluten. Sigh. I can still edit though.

So I think today I will start Christmas shopping. Since I don't have any lists yet from anybody, I'll just kind of wing it. I think I'll start at Academy tomorrow. That store has some good stuff, and I can also look over BBQ grills that I have hinted to the wife is one possible present she might want to think about for me...if she is so inclined. So we shall see. The Christmas shopping season is now officially upon us, and with my limited mobility I don't want to face a mall unless I have Karla there as backup...especially if the kids are along.

Then there is also Amazon.com. But I'll have to hurry if I want to use that. Ah well, time to get a few hours of shuteye before the children wake up. Happy Hump Day!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Fission of Magic



I have just uploaded my story, A Fission of Magic, to Goodreads...where it can be read for free.

Although I usually write horror or fantasy, this is a Christmas story. I couldn't really figure out how to bundle it with anything else I have done, so I figured that in the spirit of the season I would just share it with with the world.

I hope everybody enjoys it.

On another note, I took Sheridan out Christmas caroling with his Cub Scout troop last night. He had a pretty good time. We did it at a retirement home, and I had to explain to him what a retirement home was. He still thinks it's a hospital, but I guess that's close enough to the truth for now.

The Christmas season is upon us, and so far I have only bought one gift. Being the smart man that I am, I made sure that gift was for my wife. Now I better start looking for the kids. I'm still waiting to hear from my extended family to hear what to get their kids. I suppose I ought to get a list to them for my kids as well. This Christmas stuff is complicated. I suppose I ought to get a tree too...but I'm afraid the raccoon might move into that and upset the cats.

Oh well, enjoy yall's Tuesday folks!

Late Monday

I'm going to be late posting today. I'm working on uploading a story to Goodreads, and then I'll blog afterwards. Enjoy your Tuesday!

Monday, December 6, 2010

A Few Monday Issues


Well, I haven't got much written over the weekend. But I did take Sheridan to his Cub Scout racing practice, where he practiced his teamwork and guiding their pushcar. I think his den leader deserves a merit badge of her own for her patience with the little goober as he managed to keep getting out of the wrong side of the car, guide his car off the track once, and generally reduce the process to an exercise in confusion. But he did eventually get it, and she didn't pull all her hair out.

My dad also came by and removed a lot of the tree resting on our house. It's good to have family who are handy with chainsaws. Sadly, I'm not much use in situations like that anymore so it was my lovely wife who threw on the gloves, "manned up," and went out and helped him. I settled for helping Grandma referee the kids, since she brought two extra with her from my sister.

I also watched the Cowboys win a football game. Yeah, I know...Wow! They've started doing that lately. Too bad they waited until they were completely out of contention to do so, but at least it means they're still worth watching. Oh well, at least they should get a decent draft choice next year.

On the writing front, I'm editing two short stories that I'm actually thinking of putting up on Goodreads for free. One is a Christmas story, and the other is a rather twisted tale of revenge. They are polar opposites of each other. The funny thing is that I write mainly fantasy and horror, and neither of these stories fall into either catagory. Still, I'll think about it.

On a last note, there was no Writers Night Out as Cherri Galbiati was feeling a little under the weather, and I decided not to go alone. There's always next week!

Happy Monday, folks!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Weekend Movie Review: Faster


It's been a long time since I've seen an action movie, so I decided to go check out Faster.

Faster is a fairly straightforward revenge flick, with a twist or two thrown in. The basic premise is that a man who was a driver in a bank robbery gets out of prison, and immediately starts hunting down a group who ambushed his gang for the money and killed his brother in the process.

Thoughts on the movie.

1. The acting wasn't bad. You expect good things from Billy Bob Thornton, but Dwayne Johnson didn't do too bad either. Johnson's main problem is that any role he plays, you still mainly see Dwayne Johnson. Schwarzenneger sort of had that problem but he knew how to play to that, and chose his roles accordingly. The problem here is that Johnson may have chosen a role that might have worked better with a different actor. Like I said, he didn't do bad. But there were a couple of scenes that really needed a better acting talent than him to pull off.

2. The action was okay. Despite the rating, there wasn't near the blood I expected. I got the definite impression the moviemaker was going for a "noir" feel at times, and chose to understate the blood a tad. It wasn't a bad call. But at the same time, everytime you thought the movie was about to go over the top with the violence, it never really did. So it didn't really have that "actiony" feel. Again, I think they were reaching for "gritty" instead. They sort of halfway made it.

3. I think the week part of the movie was the plotline itself. There were a couple of characters, a hitman and his girlfriend, that felt completely stapled onto the movie. It was as if they were added in a "hey, this would be cool to put in there" sort of way. There was also a twist at the end which was decent, and if they would have left it right there the movie would have been better. But again, it was as if the writer wanted to throw in another scene just because "wouldn't it be cool if this happened." Even though I confess the second surprise was forshadowed, the movie would have been better without it. The other problem is that the movie tries to be a little deep, and doesn't really pull it off well. Again, it doesn't completely fail...it just would have been better if maybe it didn't try in places to be something more than it's main actor could pull off.

So in the end, how do I rate this?

I'm going to say "not bad." It's definitely matinee fair, so don't pay full price for this one. Or just catch it on DVD. If you like action or revenge flicks, it's worth a reduced price viewing.

In other news I've got a cub scout event with Sheridan to attend Saturday morning, and since Karla is working I'll have to have Rowan in tow as well. Wish me luck, folks. I'm gonna need it.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Friday Rollercoaster Filler Post

Due to waking up late, I am posting videos in place of actual content for now. This is Sheridan and I on a couple of rides at Six Flags. He was four years old at the time.

The Bobsled Ride from Dreagon on Vimeo.


Wile E Coyotes Grand Canyon Blaster from Dreagon on Vimeo.


The Runaway Mine Train from Dreagon on Vimeo.


This was a good time. We need to do it again.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Nothing to Report...Plus Video


I didn't do very much yesterday, and spent last night trying to sleep without much success. So that kind of leaves me with little to work with blogwise.

I can report I went to Denny's yesterday afternoon, did a very little bit of writing, and managed not to get gravy on my laptop. (Hey, every little victory counts) Then I came home and went to bed early and didn't sleep. After many hours of not sleeping, I got up and looked at the internet. Looking at the internet is fun, but it tends to get in the way of me being productive, so I went to the store instead.

Walmart at three in the morning is a gigantic pain in the ass. There are actually shoppers at this time of the morning, but they still close down to just one checkout lane and staff it with their most functionally challenged cashier. I felt lucky I got out of there before growing mold. Anyways, I got a roast for dinner tonight, so I am officially a good husband and am quite proud of myself. I also got junk food but that's for me and doesn't count.

I need to get a cover made so I can get my Christmas story published. I think that should be my immediate goal since it's already September. Or maybe I'll just put the story up on Goodreads for free. It's not really a good sample of my work since it's a Christmas story and all my other stories are fantasy or horror stories. So I don't really know what I will do with it. Oh well, until I come up with a cover for the thing, it doesn't matter. You can't judge a book without a cover...or something like that.

Oh, and for absolutely no reason whatsoever...here is the entire train ride at the Kemah Boardwalk

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A Little Under the Weather


Woke up a little under the weather.

Being the practical type, I promptly turned over and went back to sleep...the idea being that maybe next time I woke up, it would be under different circumstances. It turns out the kids were in about the same shape so the same tactic was applied to them as well. Being young and foolish, they decided they would rather get up, but fortunately Karla is at home today so she fielded them.

So that's where things sit at the moment.

On another note, here is a video of a five year old demonstrating that just because your autistic, doesn't mean your dumb.


Monday, November 29, 2010

Salvation is Bright Yellow


It's coming.

Only a few more hours and it will be here in all it's lemony colored glory. The School Bus! The wonderful, wonderful School Bus! My mornings haven't been the same without it. They've been...noisier...and full of children. But now the school bus will return, and whisk the children away to the hallowed halls of education so that they will no longer tempt Dad to join the ranks of famous Axe Murderers, but may instead achieve greatness, and help their father retire to the reward he so richly deserves.


 But this hard earned happy ending will have to wait until much later in the future. For now, I will simply settle for this...


This will be good enough. A peaceful house that I can write, plan, work, market, or do whatever else needs doing with a civilized level of peace and quiet. This is what I have sorely missed. The ability to connect two thoughts in my head without a crash, scream, yell, wail, or howl of pain or fury to jump in and disconnect them again.

On another note, I also had a Writer's Night Out with Cherri Galbiati last night. I actually sat and talked with an adult. That's important because I wasn't sure I was going to remember how to have a conversation without breaking into shouts of "You better answer me by the time I count to three!" Sigh.

Oh well, we talked late and into the early hours of the morning. We both agreed that there comes a time you have to get back to writing and just leave the promoting behind for a while. It really interferes with my ability to write, as the mindset for promotion is completely different than the mindset for writing. At the moment, I'm easing back into a writing mindset myself. I'll still do some promotion here and there, but I intend to stop come the beginning of next year and focus totally on writing until I get some projects done.

Well, I hope everybody had a great weekend and didn't have any trees land on their houses.

Enjoy your Monday!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Weekend Post


So, there is a tree laying on my house.

I guess this is going to interfere with my grand plan to hang Christmas lights. Or not. Maybe I'll just string lights over the whole leafy mass and call it my outdoors display. I'm sure there are some design possibilities in there somewhere.

Anyways, it appears that most of it landed in the back yard so whatever damage there is could have been a whole lot worse. Now we'll just have to wait and hear from the insurance company to find out what the next step is. I'll also need to get into the back yard and see if there was any damage to the kids playground set. Then I'll suppose it will be placed on my Grand List of Messes That Need Cleaning Up. Sigh!

Now I just need to figure out what to do with this weekend. Renfest is a possibility, but I'll have to check the weather. Getting some much needed sleep is also on the agenda. At the same time, a little housework might be in order as well. After all, I have other things than fallen trees on my Grand List of Messes That Need Cleaning Up. I suppose I could also try to catch the raccoon. That would be nice.

Then Monday will come, and that magical yellow Chariot of Peace and Sanity will come to save me...

Have a nice weekend!

Friday, November 26, 2010

I'm Thankful A Tree Didn't Fall On My House...Oh wait..


It pretty much went down like this...





Yes, that's right. While we went over the hills and through the woods to Grandmothers house, the tree beside my driveway attacked my house. Of course, we were blissfully unaware of this act of arboreal treachery at the time.

Wednesday evening, my wife pulled the twisted wreckage that was me from my forced imprisonment with the two clutter spawning savages that had almost destroyed my psyche. She piled us all in the car and we headed for Bryan, Texas. Slowly, ever so slowly, I started to realize there was another adult in my vicinity to help absorb juvenile demands for attention and so I crept back to a semblance of humanity. After a suprisingly peaceful trip, we arrived at Grandmothers house and hit the bed.

It was very good.

And of course the next day was Thanksgiving. Now having enough adults around me to actually outnumber the kids, I could start to imagine things to be thankful for in the world again. I thought of a good list including health, family, and good friends. Unfortunately I didn't remember to be thankful that a tree hadn't fallen on my house, but what were the odds? Besides I was busy thinking about being grateful for all the turkey, cornbread dressing, rolls, beans, potato salad, and other stuff spread out in front of me.

It was all I could do just to remember to show restraint in the face of what amounted to a guilt free mountain of food.


Afterwards I watched the football games in what practically amounted to a carbohydrate coma. Fortunately the games were good (even if the wrong teams won) and kept me awake. The kids amused themselves with toys, puzzles, and occasionally being yelled at by adults to settle down and stop being loud. And the best part was I was only doing the yelling part of the time.

Anyways, I good time was had by all and we boarded the car again after the football games and made our way home. As we pulled into our dark driveway, my wife commented that it looked there had been some wind while we were gone as there was a branch on her car (which we left in the driveway while we were gone.) I was noticing that, then noticed that the canopy of the tree on the other side of  her car from us seemed to be hanging lower...a lot lower. As in it was laying on our backyard fence and our house.

We didn't see any damage to the house, although we noticed the fence had been messed up some. It was late though and visibility poor. So we shall have to wait until daybreak to assess the damages from this particular Thanksgiving adventure.

I wonder if it bothered the raccoon?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Day Three: Rabid Feral Something Something Edition


Yes, I now enter Day Three of the Thanksgiving Week. The third full day of the domestic equivalent of being thrown into a pool of shrieking piranhas. I can even hear them in my dreams...Dad! Dad! Dad! But it's okay, because I have a loyal helpmate to see me through these difficult times, right? Right?

Well, not exactly.


So, there's that.

Then there is the matter that the raccoon has now managed to actually gain access to the cabinet above the microwave and forage among my cookie cutters. He hasn't actually stolen any yet, but he is having a high old time with them. The cabinet is now twist tied shut while our furry invader rocks and rolls above our stove. Karla and I have agreed that something must be done, but are still debating what to bait the trap with. Yeah, we're real motivated, aren't we. Meanwhile, the raccoon tries to decide what wallpaper to hang in his new pad.


So, there's also that.

But there is a light at the end of the tunnel...and it is shaped like a big dead bird on a platter. That's right. For there will soon be turkey. Yes, turkey.  Turkey is going to fix this outrage that has been inflicted upon my delicate psyche. Turkey is going to make it all alright. For you see, turkey is loaded with tryptophan, and tryptophan helps you relax. And there will be dressing. And there will be other adults around too. So the kids will be outnumbered instead! Oh yes! YES! Soon, this evening in fact, I will load the kids into the car and it's off to Grandma's house we go!


So I'm about to sign off for a couple of days. I'll hope to post again sometime Friday, if I can.

Happy Thanksgiving Everybody!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Day Two: Children Bugaloo


I got nothin'. And I mean nothin'.

I don't have a single creative synapse left firing in my head. I don't have a single organized thought that would approach anything resembling a coherent paragraph that could be added to a story. I don't have one shred of focus left. All I've got is the hiss of background static running through my mind...

...and a twitch.

For you see, I watched children all day. Alllllllllll day. By myself. Because some goombah in the Texas School System seems to think that Thanksgiving should merit an entire week off.  But I've been over that.

And lets not even imagine what the house looks like right now. Oh no, we don't even want to go there. For there are two of them, and they are young and fast, and can mess up things at a speed that one single, slow adult can not even hope to keep up with. They are whizzing comets of chaos and I am the grand, slow gas giant of lost causes who hopes that all the clutter doesn't get caught in his gravitational pull and forms a ring around him as he shambles in a stately orbit through the house, clearing insignificant fractions of the deepening mess. Sigh.



Oh well, this too shall pass.

One more day and it's off to Grandma's house we go. Then it will be turkey, dressing, and a couple of other pairs of adult eyes to help with the kiddos. And there will even be a football game. Cool! The kids are at least smart enough to know that making Daddy crazy during the football game is verboten. Probably something to do with survival instinct. So there is that.

Anyways. we shall see if Tuesday goes a little better. Maybe I just need to catch a second wind and hit my stride. I do have a stride...I think. Sort of.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Truth Sinks In


Tomorrow is Monday.

Unlike the rest of the world, I find Monday to be one of the most glorious days of the week. For it is on Monday that the beautiful yellow school bus comes like an angelic chariot and whisks my children away to their date with education, thus leaving me with seven magnificent hours of child free peace. Seven wonderful, blissful hours.



But not this week.

Oh no, not this week. For this week they have the entire week off. The entire week. Not just Thursday and Friday like we used to when I was a kid and the world was sane. No, they get the entire week. Five days home alone with me. Five days demanding every second of attention available. Five entire days to insure that not only does Dad not get a single word written, but will probably go clinically insane.


Is this what I pay taxes for?

No it is not! The public school system has really let me down on this matter. The whole point of establishing a national public school system was so parents could send their little ones to the safety of a state sponsored education and out of the reach of adults trying to get something done. Seriously, an entire week for Thanksgiving? Look, I'm thankful...but not that thankful. If they wanted to get a whole week in their honor, the Pilgrims could have done something like inventing nachos, or football, or something other than just sitting around starving until Indians brought them corn.

 But this is my lot so I must endure. Needless to say, there will be no writing getting done this week. Perhaps that's for the best. Perhaps I should just surrender on the idea of writing and try to figure out something to do with the kids instead. It's only for a week...right?

At least until Christmas when it becomes TWO weeks.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Megamind Review


Last week I reviewed the disaster that was Skyline, so I thought I would try my hand at movie reviews again. This time I had the seven year old in tow, so I decided to go see Megamind. It was a much, much better movie and I'm even giving it an extra star (although I don't use stars) just because it isn't Skyline.

The premise is fairly straightforward...two babies from alien planets are sent to earth to avoid their worlds destruction. One, is a virtual clone of Superman and lands in the home of wealthy parents where he is doted upon and grows up to be the great hero of Metro City. The other lands in a prison yard and is raised...differently. The two meet in school and the boy that becomes Metroman is the popular class favorite, while the juvenile Megamind finds his attempt to impress his classmates with his genius tend to end in disaster. Finally giving up, he decides to become a master criminal instead...and the rivalry is born.

The two have many great battles throughout the years, always ending with Megamind's plots being foiled and Megamind back in prison. The heroine, reporter Roxanne Ritchi, is always rescued and carried to safety by Metroman and everybody lives happily ever after...at least until the next showdown.

Then one day things turn out different.

Much to everyones amazement, including Megaminds, one of his plans actually works and Metroman is destroyed. Now the city is defenseless, and the evil mastermind takes over. The problem is that after an initial period of joyful plunder Megamind finds the thrill is gone. It's too easy, and none of it seems to matter anymore. (this is where the adults will pick up on the point that Megaminds whole existence, including his very identity as a supervillian, has been dictated by his rivalry with Metroman, and now his very world is starting to crumble without him.) So in an effort to get the old thrill back, he finds a piece of Metromans DNA and injects into somebody else in order to create another superhero rival. At the same time, he also finds himself masquerading as an ordinary human so he can date Roxanne Ritchi.

Needless to say, the attempt to create a new rival goes awry as the person he injects is a whole different personality than Metroman, and is actually a loser himself who ends up using Metromans powers to take out his frustrations with life on the city. Now it's up to Megamind to take on a new role and try to save the day.

Overall, the movie succeeds at pretty much everything it attempts. It managed to keep my hyperactive seven year old quiet and in his seat, while being enjoyable to me also. There is plenty of action and slapstick for the kids, and yet still enough satire and intelligence to appeal to the adults. The voice acting is spot on, and the little twist near the end alleviates the one moment that might have been a little too dark for some kids. On a side note, I found it interesting how both the supervillains were actually products of their obsession with somebody else.

If you have a kid, take them to see Megamind...but you don't need one to go see it if you want to. I give it two thumbs up...with an extra star thrown in for not being Skyline.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Where's My Moonbase?!


Terry Pratchett once observed that inside every old person is a young person wondering what happened.

Tonight I was thinking about how I had watched a man take a step off of his spacecraft and onto the surface of the moon. I was seven years old and that was over forty years ago. And I remember thinking that by the time I grew up they would have the first city on the moon, and I would be up there to see it. I even dreamed of being the captain of a moon ferry that would take people from one moonbase to another across the moons surface. I imagined giant telescopes built in the low lunar gravity and taking advantage of the lack of atmosphere to accomplish unprecedented astronomy. And I just knew I would be part of it.

Forty years ago.

I think it's safe to say that boy back then would have been mightily disappointed if he knew the way things were going to turn out. The future turned out to look a whole lot like the past, only with the ability to do more things on TV screens and with telephones. Not to mention the cars don't fly, nor even have those fins that made them look so cool anymore. I don't have a robot to do my housework, and it turns out half the nifty things invented to make my life easier over the past thirty years will probably give me a tumor. To be honest, in a lot of ways we have gone a whole lot of nowhere.

As a matter of fact, next year we retire the shuttle fleet. At that point the United States will effectively cease to have a manned space program. We can hitch rides with Russians up to the International Space Station, but that's it. Our astronauts will just be hitchhikers on other peoples spacecraft to other peoples Space Stations. That's where we are forty years later.

Somehow, somewhere in the past, the people who made those decisions lost the whole vision thing. And this is where it has left us. For a fraction of what TARP cost us, we could have funded every single project cancelled by NASA this century, including the manned moon missions. But we just don't have it in us anymore. I wonder if we will even be training astronauts in another ten years time? Or I wonder if in another forty years, the last of the people who watched a man step out onto the surface of the moon will be dying off in retirement homes around the country, being taken care of by people who could never understand the world they came from.