Lost Season 1 Re-watch: Deus Ex Machina

posted in: Film/TV, Lost, Review | 0


Flashback:  The episode starts with a “younger” Locke (he has hair!) working in a toy store, setting up the board game “Mouse Trap”.  He explains the game to a boy who asks about it (this theme of Locke being someone who likes games and puzzles is very apparent at this point).  He notices a woman wearing a fur coat loitering nearby and he goes to ask if he can help her. She asks about footballs and he directs her to the right aisle.

Locke and Boone are at the excavated hatch (really, it looks like a concrete bunker that might be more reminiscent of a bomb shelter).  Locke has assembled what he calls a trebuchet to break through the small glass window in the hatch door. Boone makes a comment about them working on opening the hatch door for two weeks and the fact that Locke never talks about himself to which Locke explains his life story is boring.  They get ready to try their trebuchet and initiate its action. Failure. The trebuchet breaks upon impact which takes a toll on Locke as he seems completely baffled at his plan failing. Boone mentions Locke’s leg and he looks down to find a piece of metal sticking out of his flesh (bummer…).

Locke patches up his leg wound and begins to poke and prod at his legs where it’s apparent he seems to have lost feeling but not functionality.  As a final test, he takes a burning end of a stick from his campfire and presses the embers to the bottom of his foot: nothing. That’s not good.  He tells Boone that morning that the trebuchet didn’t work because it wasn’t strong enough. Boone challenges him on their next step and Locke says they will get an answer from the island.  It will tell them what to do. Boone is perplexed by this line of thinking (maybe thinking Locke’s gone crazy?).

Flashback:  Leaving for the day from his job, Locke sees the woman in the fur coat loitering in the parking lot and tries to confront her again.  Once he catches up to her, she confesses she’s his mother (unexpected). They go to coffee and Locke asks some questions eventually asking about his father to which she says he doesn’t have one and that he was immaculately conceived (yeah, okay).  Shortly after that, Locke gets results from a private investigator who confirms the woman is his mother, states she’s been institutionalized for a form of schizophrenia, and also has info on his actual father who may or may not have known of Locke’s birth.

The Plot B thread of this episode focuses on Sawyer and a bad case of the headaches.  He’s trying to get help from Sun who tells him to use a particular plant (island organic all-natural) but it doesn’t seem to be working.  Kate is concerned and goes to Jack to see if he can help Sawyer but unless Sawyer comes to Jack-o himself, Jack’s not interested in helping.  Kate is done with Sawyer’s outbursts at people about being too loud and takes him to Jack who does a brilliant job of “diagnosing” Sawyer by asking some very private questions with Kate present mind you.  Sawyer storms off once things get a little heated and Jack smugly tells Kate Sawyer needs glasses because he’s been spending a lot of his time reading, straining his eyes. Sayid puts his ingenuity at work and fashions a pair of glasses for Sawyer which helps.  Definitely a lighter tone as this episode with Locke gets emotional.


Boone arrives on site and Locke tells him he’s late for “work” to which Boone remains unconvinced they are making any real progress on the hatch.  Locke continues his schtick about the island giving them a sign and looks up to see a small seaplane flying overhead looking as if it’s going to crash nearby.  When Locke asks Boone if he saw the plane, he is speechless at the sight of a bloody-faced Boone saying in a creepy voice, “Theresa falls up the stairs; Theresa falls down the stairs” over and over again.  Next, he sees his mother in her fur coat pointing up at the sky before finding himself back in his wheelchair unable to use his legs. He begs, “Don’t take it back!” before waking up from the obvious nightmare.  Yeah, that was weird and creepy but knowing Locke, that’s his sign from the island. He wakes up Boone and they get an early start on the day.


Flashback:  Locke drives to a gated house fit with a gate guard and asks for Anthony Cooper who happens to be his biological father.  He gets some pushback from the guard until he calls the house and grants Locke access. Inside the house, Locke notices photos that show a man who has been around the world.  Cooper comes out and the two share pleasantries. Locke is definitely not sure what to make of meeting the man but when he’s asked to go hunting, he agrees to go.

Locke tells Boone about his very real dream and as Boone pushes back, Locke asks who Theresa is.  This shakes Boone and he agrees to continue on with Locke. Later, he mentions possibly saying Theresa’s name in their time together but doesn’t expound.  Locke’s legs give out at one point and as Boone helps him up, Locke reaches out to take a rosary out of a tree. The owner of said rosary falls out of the tree: a dead priest.  Locke finds a wad of Nigerian naira in the priest’s pocket and a pistol making it quite clear the man was unlikely a priest.


Locke loses all feeling in his legs and collapses soon after they find the dead priest.  Boone says they need to stop their trek and gets pushback from Locke and as he tries to help Locke tells Boone about his being in a wheelchair for four years and getting healed by the island, not understanding why the island was taking the healing back.  Boone tells the story of who Theresa is, saying she was a nanny of his who took a bad step and died while falling down the stairs when he was six years old. Locke starts to laugh, angering Boone but when Locke points past him at the seaplane he saw in his dream.  Boone agrees to climb up to the plane and search inside it.

Flashback:  Locke returns to Cooper’s house for another hunting trip.  Inside, he finds Cooper hooked up to a dialysis machine for his kidneys which he needs a transplant for.  He and Locke go dove hunting and Locke gets an attaboy when he gets a kill. Cooper tells Locke that at least his crazy mother brought them together, allowing time spent with each other with what little Cooper has left.  The next thing we know is both are in a hospital with Locke donating one of his kidneys to his father.


Boone climbs up to the plane while Locke watches on; he succeeds despite the plane not being very stable on its cliff perch.  Inside, he finds a second dead not-priest and the mother load: heroine-filled Virgin Mary statues. Yep, Locke thinks the answer to his problems are actually dead drug smugglers and heroine-filled statues.  Boone throws a statue out to which Locke is confused, unsure what to make of the revelation. Boone tries the radio in the plane and actually makes contact with someone. He says they’re survivors of Oceanic Flight 815 (is it just me or have I put “Flight 180” in some of these posts?  I’m sure one of my many readers can confirm this) but before any more information can be exchanged, the plane shifts and nose dives into the ground. Locke gets use of his legs again (not sure how) and pulls Boone out of the wreckage and he’s in bad shape.

Flashback:  Locke wakes up in his hospital room alone and asks the nurse tending to him where Cooper is.  She says he checked out of the hospital earlier and returned home under private care. Locke is in disbelief and his mother shows up saying it was Cooper’s idea and that Locke would not have offered his kidney unless it was his idea to do so.  Still in disbelief and denial, Locke leaves the hospital, goes to Cooper’s house, and is denied entry. Heartbroken and reduced to the lowest of emotions, we feel Locke’s pain as we realize as he does that his father conned him, only wanting a kidney and nothing more.


Locke brings Boone into the caves, saying Boone fell off a cliff while they were hunting, and while Jack gets to work, he asks Locke what happened exactly but Locke slips out avoiding answering.  In obvious anger and confusion, the episode ends with Locke at the hatch banging against the door screaming at the island for reasons why things had happened as they did. Suddenly, a light from inside turns on and Locke’s left shocked and speechless.

Woo!  What an episode!  Seriously another one of my favorites (I may say this about the next few episodes to be honest).  This show really picks up from this point forward and we get some truly amazing storytelling and character moments.  Locke remains an amazing character and this episode solidifies why Terry O’Quinn was nominated and won an Emmy for this season.  I SOOOOOO wish I could go into spoilers now but I will resist.

Answers are coming in the next episode (though not some of the ones you might hope for).

Lost Season 1 Re-watch: Numbers

posted in: Film/TV, Lost, Review | 0


We get our first Hurley-centric episode (sans the eye opening motif this time around).  He’s helping with the raft where we see Michael and Jin working well together and seeming to understand each other (very Han and Chewy actually).  Jack shows up and Michael makes a pitch to get some kind of method to put out a distress call. Jack doesn’t know if Sayid can conjure up a device let alone power it.  Hurley makes mention of Rousseau having batteries.

Jack and Hurley approach Sayid but he’s resistant to going to Rousseau and asking for a battery.  Sayid makes his point harder that he doesn’t even know where to find her if he did want to help them.  He pushes the maps and papers he took from her at them and Hurley stares at a piece of paper that has a set of six numbers repeated again and again: 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42.


Flashback:  Hurley is watching tv, channel surfing while eating from a bucket of chicken and wearing the uniform of said chicken establishment.  He’s getting the guilt trip from his mom before he lands on a channel going over the lotto numbers. Hurley stands after the last number is read and looks at his matching lotto ticket.  Yep, those numbers are the same written by Rousseau. Being a winner, he faints.

Sayid is asleep in his tent and finds Hurley there asking about Rousseau.  He’s hunting for answers and mentions the numbers. Sayid thinks they’re coordinates of some kind and Hurley deems it time to investigate further.  He gathers water before heading off and lies to Charlie about what he’s doing. Sayid confronts Jack blaming him for sending Hurley to do his dirty work and quickly realizes Jack doesn’t know what he’s talking about.  They ask Charlie about Hurley and realize he’s on his way to find Rousseau.


Plot B for this episode mostly follows Locke asking Claire to help him with a project, which turns out to be his building a cradle for her.  We also see an agitated Sawyer reading A Wrinkle in Time, which will come into play in a later episode.  Sun tells Kate Jin will never speak to her again because she humiliated him.  She wonders if he will go with Michael on the raft, leaving her behind.

Hurley is walking along the beach until he finds the wire leading out to the ocean from the jungle.  He follows it into the jungle where he comes across a dead boar caught in a Rousseau trap and steps on a pressure trigger for another.  Sayid is there just in time to tell Hurley not to move. Hurley doesn’t listen though and jumps clear of a released spiky killing bundle that narrowly misses him.  Jack and the group question his decisions and Hurley lies saying he wants to get a battery for raft. Reluctantly, Sayid takes point and they follow the wire deeper into the jungle.

Flashback:  Hurley’s getting interviewed by local media in LA about his lotto winnings.  He talks about how he plans to spend the money to help his family. His Grandpa Tito is present and ends up having a heart attack on live tv.  Hurley begins to question his lotto winnings as more bad things happen to those around him. His mom hurts her ankle while he arrives at the house he bought for her.  Smoke rises from a bedroom of the house and cops show up to arrest Hurley mistaking him for a drug dealer. A short time later, he finds that he won a settlement against the LAPD, over-insured a sneaker factory in Canada that burnt down, and is the major shareholder of a box company in Tustin (yes, the same box company our dear friend, John Locke, worked at).  Hurley deduces that it’s not the money that’s cursed but the numbers he played.


The wire eventually leads straight into the floor of the jungle with no noticeable sign or reason for its purpose.  Nearby, Charlie finds an old rickety bridge that leads across a ravine. Not wanting to waste any time searching for another way across, Hurley crosses and surprises the group by making it across without a hitch.  Charlie follows but as he reaches the other side, the bridge breaks leaving Jack and Sayid to find another way across. Hurley and Charlie head on to look for Rousseau but find they’re being shot at and separate as they run for safety.

Flashback:  Hurley is asking for a man named Lenny in what appears to be a mental institute and is recognized by a doctor, implying that Hurley was once a patient (interesting…).  He finds Lenny who is repeating the numbers over and over again. Hurley tells Lenny about his playing the numbers in the lotto and Lenny breaks out of his rote mumblings.  He’s very upset that Hurley played the numbers and begins to scream that Hurley needs to get far away from the numbers. Before being dragged out of the room, Lenny tells Hurley about a man named Sam Toomey and where he can be found, which happens to be in Australia.  Once Hurley arrives in a shack in the middle of the Outback, he meets Sam’s wife and learns that Sam and Lenny served in the US Navy together and 16 years ago were in the South Pacific manning a long-wave radio station and the numbers being repeated again and again suddenly broke through the static.  Sam used the numbers much like Hurley did and his fortune became the misfortune of others. He made the numbers go away but only by committing suicide, which leaves Hurley nowhere closer to finding an answer to the numbers.


Jack and Sayid eventually find their way to an area Sayid recognizes and Jack trips a wire that causes an explosion.  This so happens to be Rousseau’s rigging of her underground lair where she kept Sayid being destroyed because she knew Sayid would come back in search of her.  Nothing can be salvaged from the explosion. Hurley finds a gun in his face after he trips and falls. He finds himself facing Rousseau and convinces her he is friends with Sayid.  He asks about the numbers and tells her he thinks they’re cursed. She explains that her crew came across a transmission of the numbers being repeated. They changed course, crashed on the island, and eventually located the radio tower.  Members of her crew began to grow sick and once they all died, she changed the transmission to the one Sayid picked up. She eventually agrees with hurley believing the numbers are in fact cursed. This is a huge relief to Hurley, finding closure in her agreeing with him.


Charlie runs in to Jack and Sayid and they set out to find Hurley but he shows up unharmed and unconcerned.  He hands over a battery from Rousseau and they head back to camp. Michael gets his battery to power his distress call once they set out to sea.  Charlie asks Hurley for the truth of his antics that day and when Hurley tells him he’s worth $156 million, Charlie storms off not believing the big man.


The episode ends with the camera panning in on the excavated hatch that Locke and Boone have been keeping secret and stops on six numbers pressed into the side of the concrete.  Yep, 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42.

One of my favorite episodes in Season 1.  Hands down! The numbers are so key to the show.  Go back through the episodes and see if you can count how many times any of these numbers were mentioned or seen.  Trust me, they are there. Solid episode that makes the island more mysterious than it already is.

Lost Season 1 Re-watch: …In Translation

posted in: Film/TV, Lost, Review | 0


The open-eye motif continues with Jin while he’s on the beach but we move straight into the first Flashback.  So hear we go!


Flashback:  Jin is in a ritzy room, standing in front of Sun’s father all demure and silent until he asked why he wants to marry Sun.  Giving all the right answers to Sun’s father who is definitely putting out some scary/mafia-like vibes, it all ends with Jin getting the blessing to marry Jin but the cost requires him to work for her father.  The flashbacks are intersected throughout the episode showing us Jin’s starts as a loving, gentle husband but things turn and do so quickly (I’ll get to that).

Back on the beach, Jin sees Sun down a ways strut out in a bikini.  Well wouldn’t you know it, he’s not happy to see her “flaunting” (he thinks she’s doing this but that’s not her intention if you’ve been paying attention seeing her wear layers on a beach).  Everyone of the group is watching when Jin tries to cover his wife up and they’re all a bit nonchalant about the encounter, finding it somewhat typical. Well, our “Mystery Island Father of the Year” nominee (would he really be the winner?), Michael, is not impressed with just watching and intervenes.  Before things before him and Jin can come to fiery fisticuffs, Sun slaps Michael leaving him shocked.


In the caves, Jin asks Sun point blank if there’s anything between her and Michael.  She blows it off as nonsense but Jin’s not an idiot and can tell there’s something there (not romantic of course but Michael knows her secret of knowing English).  Jin storms off and Sun goes to find Michael to apologize for her slap. Michael thinks he simply put his nose in business not his own but Sun warns him that he doesn’t know what Jin is capable of and she was protecting him (interesting…).

Plot B of the episode centers around the raft Michael’s been building and it’s pretty impressive considering what he has at his disposal for supplies.  Michael’s excited to show Walt the buildings of New York City but Walt’s less than thrilled. Jack shows up to talk to Michael about the space on the raft.  Turns out there’s room for four and only one spot left. Guess who has that third spot? Yep! Sawyer. Looting supplies paid off for him. There’s also a moment between Sayid and Shannon hinting (more like nudging) that things are getting more serious between them.  Sayid wants to offer some courtesy to Boone about this but Boone’s not all that caring or surprised, seeming to expect Shannon to attach herself to a guy. She’s not happy when Sayid tries to break things off between them, tells Locke to tell Boone to stay out of her life, and goes back to Sayid saying they all get a new start on the island (Locke’s message to everyone).


That night Kate and Sun are talking and Kate asks how much longer Sun will let Jin treat her the way he does.  Sun defends Jin, saying he was not always the harsh type, reiterating what she said to Michael. Things take a turn when raised voices alert them to something happening.  Charlie announces the raft is on fire and despite their best efforts, the flames engulf the craft. Michael is irate (as expected) and asks Sun where Jin is, accusing him of the crime.  Others agree with Michael while Jack tries to defend Jin. Sun runs off and funds Jin in the caves trying to treat burns on his hands and forearms (yeesh, looks like he might have done it).


Flashback:  Jin gets a promotion and is told to go deliver a message of displeasure to the Secretary of Environmental Safety from his father-in-law.  He does so and while Mr. Secretary thinks he’s going to get some physical message, Jin does not deliver that. As a thank you, Mr. Secretary gives Jin the puppy we saw him give Sun in their previous episode.  Connection time! We see the secretary’s daughter watching tv and who is on screen: Hurley!!! That’s interesting. Why would Hurley be on tv? The answer to that is coming on the next episode. Failing to deliver the message expected by his father-in-law, Jin gets a tongue lashing and before another thug employee can do use a gun, Jin intervenes and uses his fists, making sure nothing worse happens to Mr. Secretary.

Jin is out hiding and finds a stream to cool his burn wounds but Sawyer surprises him, knocks him out, and takes him prisoner back to the beach.  Once at the beach, Michael confronts Jin and Jack is called down by Sayid and others to let them settle their differences. Jin gets quite the beating from Michael (he doesn’t fight back at all, which is interesting) before Sun screams in English for Michael to stop.  Everyone’s shocked and Jin most of all. Sun tries to defend him saying Jin was trying to put out the fire but Sawyer doesn’t believe her. Locke interrupts to remind everyone that they’re not the only people on the island, being kidnapped, killed, and sabotaged. This defuses the quarrel as people take his words to heart.


Flashback:  Jin arrives at a fishing village and greets his father, whom he has led everyone in his life to be dead.  Jin apologizes and looks for reconciliation with his father which he gets. He explains his new life and his father encourages him to take Sun to America and disappear.  This all gives new light to what we saw in the airport when he showed her the flower and made her stay with him rather than fake a kidnapping and death.

The episode ends with Michael deciding to build a new raft despite not having the supplies he needs anymore.  Locke offers to play a game of backgammon with Walt and asks why Walt burned the raft (what?!) Walt explains he wants to stay on the island.  Locke understands and promises not to reveal what he did. Sun and Jin are obviously on the outs. He doesn’t want to speak to her, feeling betrayed, while she tries to explain herself (without ever doing so).  The next morning Michael is working and Jin shows up with bamboo, saying “boat” to make it clear he means to get off the island.

I actually like this episode more than I thought I would.  There are things I’ve missed about Jin and I actually think he’s just as complex a character as someone like Sawyer or Jack.

Flash Fiction: Among Weeping Headstones


Early morning dew pearled on the cold slate surfaces of the headstones.  Damrin wondered who lay underneath the grassy plots.  There were minor signs of evidence of a homestead once standing on the off-beaten path of the main highway.

The legendary Wielder, Barat Bladeveil, pressed his head to the middle headstone but if he prayed or said anything, it was too low for Damrin to hear.  Their arrival to the odd location had been unexpected and Damrin wondered if Barat was collected in his thoughts or if his old age and long years touching his Shoal had poisoned his mind in any way.

Throughout their short time together, Damrin watched his companion for any alarming sign of Shoal stress.  It never revealed itself in the same way in a Wielder but if one knew what to look for based on previous cases, it could be discerned.  Damrin believed it too important to ignore.

“Are you concerned?” Barat asked suddenly.

Damrin fumbled over a response, not expecting the question but then not knowing what subject Barat alluded to.  “The current state of the world demands it, I should think,” he settled upon.

Barat turned to face him; a slight rise in his upper lip gave an offsetting smile.  “You tread lightly around me…as you should.”

A hard swallow delayed Damrin from responding but he found his voice past the awkward moment.  “This collection of Breshtk noblemen and women traveling to convene and discuss the state of their Hold is worth my concern.”

“And the Shoal spill?  Does that not demand our concern?”

“Of course, but we’ve not found any of the…aberrations despite our long days and searching.”

“What of me?”  Barat stepped away from the graves, facing Damrin with searching eyes.

“Concern for you?  Should there be any?”  Damrin felt sweat begin to form on his face, unsure of what Barat Bladeveil could or would do if he truly was mad.

The legendary Wielder hawked and twisted around to spit onto the middle grave plot.  “Time is my enemy and the Shoals have both limited and expanded my life.  I’ve been praised and cursed for the same feats.  Concern?  The only concern you should have, Damrin Graeves, is that this world is thrown into chaos by the Shoals and there is little doubt in my mind the Hallowed plays a game with our lives.”

An argument rose up in Damrin’s mind but he kept it behind his clenched teeth.  The words just spoken to him were as near blasphemous as ever there could be among Wielders.  The Hallowed was divine and as such deserved their faith and submission.

Barat looked off toward the highway where the distant forms of travelers could be made out.  “Such a collection of people might attract the Shoal creatures.  We should be mindful of that.  Concern yourself with what must be done should they be attacked.  As I told you when I first collected you, the squabbles of the Holds do not matter.  Fixing the damage done by an open Shoal is all that matters here and now.  Prepare yourself.”

Damrin meant to do just that but he had no idea what that might entail.  He watched Barat Bladeveil closely as he walked away, seeming to head towards the highway.

Lost Season 1 Re-watch: Outlaws

posted in: Film/TV, Lost, Review | 0


The episode kicks off with a young Sawyer (remember, his real name is James) waking up from his father banging against the front door, screaming to be let in the house.  Sawyer’s mom comes in and urges him to hide under his bed, mentioning his father will think he’s at his grandparents’ house. While Sawyer hides, his mom goes to confront her angry husband.  A gunshot follows and Sawyer watches as his father enters his bedroom, sits on his bed, and shoots himself.

Sawyer wakes up in his tent and finds a boar rooting around.  His actions to get rid of the beastly intruder costs him his tent and much of his looted personal items were scattered.  Chasing the boar into the jungle, Sawyer comes to a stop and starts to hear whispers all around him before the very distinct phrase, “It’ll come back around,” is uttered and leaves us officially creeped out.

Kate and Jack are putting the guns back in the suitcase and Jack makes mention one remains and guess who has it?  Yes, our favorite Tennessee confidence man, Sawyer. Jack tells Kate not to worry about getting the gun back because he doesn’t want her to owe Sawyer anything.  Kate of course doesn’t listen.

Plot B for this episode is more to do with the aftermath of Charlie’s killing Ethan, which I actually applaud the show for not forgetting about addressing since it was just an episode ago.  Charlie’s distanced himself from folks especially Claire. He does get help from Hurley to bury Ethan and Hurley takes it upon himself to ask Sayid about PTSD, thinking Charlie may be suffering from it.  Sayid talks to Charlie and tells him he’s not alone and shouldn’t act as if he is.


Flashback:  Sawyer’s carrying on his favorite game of taking a woman who is likely married to a wealthy man into a hotel room for a little amorous time.  They’re interrupted by none other than the T-1000 (no, seriously, Robert Patrick makes an appearance!) whose name is Hibbs and has some history with Sawyer.  Trying to settle some unknown friction between them, Hibbs hands over a dossier with the whereabouts of one: John Connor (HA! I couldn’t resist!). No, actually, the dossier has info on a Frank Duckett who is in Sydney and ran his mouth on apparently getting a mark to kill his wife and himself back when Sawyer was a kid.  Yep, Duckett went by Frank Sawyer, making him the man behind our Sawyer’s misery.

Kate and Sayid have their fair share of fun teasing Sawyer about his misfortune with the boar.  He heads off into the jungle to find his tarp and when he does, he hears the whispers again along with the phrase, “It’ll come back around,” again.  He gets chased and knocked into some mud and feels things have gone the route of personal vendetta now. He loads his gun and sets out again to track his furry foe.  Kate eventually shows, saying she’ll help him track the boar but only in exchange for carte blanche, saying she wants the pick of his loot whenever she wants without any question.  Sawyer agrees and they set off together.


That night around their camp fire, they play the drinking game “I Never” and we learn some trivial things about them but we do find out Kate was married at one point and that both have killed a man.  In the morning, Sawyer finds all of his stuff has scattered and even peed on by the boar while Kate’s gear is untouched. Locke shows up saying he found their trail and came to say good morning. Kate gives him the update on Sawyer’s vendetta and Locke shares a story about his sister dying as a kid, his foster mother blaming herself, and a golden retriever that showed up out of nowhere and sleep on his sister’s bed staying with the family until his mother passed.  The moral of the story was to say sometimes animals can perhaps serve as vessels to bring closure to those suffering (if you believe in such things).


Flashback:  Sawyer’s in Sydney and tracks down a guy who will sell him a handgun.  Armed and ready for vengeance, Sawyer finds Frank Duckett at his shrimp food truck and finds himself unable to follow through with his desire to end the life of the man he’s had good reason to hate.


Finding himself in a bar he drinks with someone we recognize: Christian Shepherd! Yep, that’s right, Jack-o’s pop and Sawyer crossed paths. Christian confesses Jack’s a good man and he feels gratitude for what Jack did, which you’ll recall cost him his license.  Christian talks about fate and makes mention of the Red Sox never winning the World Series (this episode aired back before the team won back in 2004). Not knowing Sawyer’s business in Sydney, he convinces Sawyer to see through with his plans which Sawyer does and guns down Duckett back at his shrimp truck.  Sawyer reads his letter to the dying Duckett and realizes Duckett owed Hibbs money and is actually not the man behind the deaths of his parents. Sawyer got conned to kill a man who simply owed Hibbs a debt… Before he dies, Duckett says those creepy words we’ve heard in the jungle, “It’ll come back around”.


Sawyer and Kate find a piglet that likely belongs to the adult boar and while Sawyer uses it as bait for the momma boar, Kate takes off not appreciating his treatment of the animal.  The momma boar shows up but when given the chance to his exact his vengeance this time, he lowers the gun.

Back at the beach, Sawyer returns his gun to Jack who makes an offhand remark that the Red Sox will never win the World Series.  When Sawyer asks what the statement means, Jack pushes it aside saying it’s something his father would say in relation to fate. Making the connection that Sawyer’s drinking partner was indeed Jack’s father, Sawyer negates to share the information, leaving us shaking our fists at him.

Overall, a strong episode that I think is underrated.  We get more info on Sawyer who is a character I think is more complex than some of the others.  We also get what I think is one of our first instances where characters are connected before the crash on the island (this is more prominent as time goes by).

Next is a Sun and Jin centric episode but that won’t be posted until November 3rd as the next Shoals to the Hallowed flash fiction post will be on the 30th.

Lost Season 1 Re-watch: Homecoming

posted in: Film/TV, Lost, Review | 0


We’ve got our next Charlie-centric episode as he wakes (sans the eye opening motif) in the caves at the sounds of Locke calling for Jack.  He’s got Claire in his arms saying she came walking through the jungle and collapsing when he and Boone were searching for Vincent. Charlie’s elated at her return but kept back as Jack does his doctor stuff.  When Claire wakes up, she screams asking who everyone is (not good). When Jack calms Claire, telling her the baby’s fine, he asks her what she remembers, she recalls being on a plane heading to LA. She gets the bad news of their crash and no rescue for several weeks and takes it somewhat well considering.

Boone asks Locke a poignant question of whether or not Claire escaped from Ethan and if so, is our “Other” enemy out there looking for her.  That seems to not have occurred to Locke and he’s definitely concerned at that possibility. Charlie does everything he can to comfort and console Claire in her state of forgetting and hands over her diary in hopes it will jog her memory.

The episode flows well and doesn’t have a Plot B story, focusing solely on Claire and the threat of Ethan.


Flashback:  (Note: For some reason, this episode’s flashbacks never seem to fit the narrative with Claire and Charlie but I’ll provide the gist.)  In what we can presume is a time after Driveshaft made it “big”, Charlie and his chum, Tommy, are getting high and then go to a pub where Tommy points a woman named Lucy whose father is of the upper echelon and “loaded”.  Charlie makes his way to Lucy’s table where her and her friends buy him drinks and he plays the rockstar card. He goes home with her and stakes out her father’s collection of war memorabilia and focuses in on a cigarette case owned by Winston Churchill.  He meets her dear old dad and confesses Driveshaft is unlikely to reunite and make a comeback. He falls for Lucy and accepts a job to sell copiers for her father but due to sobering up and going through withdrawals tosses his biscuits all over the the copy screen during his first sales pitch.  Turns out he nipped the cigarette case and it was found in his coat at the hospital where he was treated and returned to Lucy. He tries to defend himself and essentially gets kicked to the curb and told he’s worthless by a distraught Lucy.


Sayid questions how a very pregnant Claire got away from Ethan, reiterating to Jack, Locke, and Charlie that Ethan infiltrated their group and hung Charlie from a tree.  He questions the diagnosis of amnesia Claire is suffering and while Jack says it’s rare, there is obvious concern for the situation. Charlie’s miffed about how no one is talking to Claire and treating her with care and storms off to spend time with her.  Along the way, he walks with Jin who gets hit in the head by a stone thrown by a rough-looking Ethan. Charlie gets warned that if he doesn’t bring Claire to Ethan, someone will be killed each day and Charlie will be killed last.

Reporting this back to Jack and Locke, there’s a bit of disagreement in what to do.  Jack falls in line with Charlie’s thinking that they need to take the fight to Ethan but Locke feels they should play defense.  Inform everyone and set sentries. With Sayid, Locke sets up trip wires for alarms. Unfortunately, Ethan makes his way past the defenses, having come in by way of the ocean (freaking Aquaman apparently) and killing a character named Scott (kind of a redshirt though he has been on screen a few times).

Kate goes to Jack and makes a suggestion that Jack use the key kept around his neck to the marshal’s case and break out the guns.  Jack’s worried (rightfully so) that if there are guns out and about, they could shoot themselves. However, the death of Scott changes his mind when he talks to Locke about what might happen if more people start dying at Ethan’s hands.  Showing Locke the guns, a plan is put in order by Sayid to go as a group into the jungle with Claire as bait. Charlie’s not exactly a fan of the plan and wants in on it but when Locke asks him if he’s ever shot a gun before, Charlie’s silence says “no”.


The group comprises of Jack, Locke, Sayid, Sawyer, and Kate with Claire.  It’s raining good and hard when Ethan shows up and Jack moves in to take him down.  The goal is to take Ethan alive and Jack gives him quite the walloping (I think that’s Australian lingo) though he did lose his gun in the process.  On his knees, everyone surrounds Ethan while he’s on his knees. Gunshots ring out and Ethan’s riddled with bullets as Charlie unloads the clip of Jack’s gun (yep, that was unexpected).


Back at the caves, Charlie tells Jack he wasn’t going to let Ethan near Claire and he didn’t deserve to live after what he did.  Claire goes to Charlie later and tells him she remembers peanut butter which if you’ll recall they bonded over several episodes ago.  She still can’t remember what happened but she tells Charlie she trusts him, ending the episode on a sweeter moment.

So yeah, this episode.  Besides the Flashback just seeming disconnected from the island moments, I really like this one.  There’s this sense that our survivors are aligned against an outside enemy and not quibbling with each other.  There’s still a question of who Ethan was and whether or not he belongs to these Others that we keep hearing about.  And why the interest in Claire? Onto the next one, which is a Sawyer episode and a good one if I remember right.

Lost Season 1 Re-watch: Special

posted in: Film/TV, Lost, Review | 0


Eye motif continues with Michael as he calls out Walt’s name in search for him.  Jack thinks it’s tough for Michael while Hurley thinks he hates it (he might be right…).  Walt is off with Locke and Boone practicing knife throwing. While Walt struggles, Locke tells him to imagine in his mind’s eye the target on the tree and Walt does so, nailing the spot on the tree with his next throw.  Michael finds them and he’s not happy about Walt being given a huge knife to throw about. He points the knife in Locke’s face in a threatening manner and gets attacked from behind by Boone. Michael gives Locke a final warning to stay away from Walt.


Flashback:  This episode follows the relationship between Michael and Walt’s mother, Susan.  They start things off happy but things turn when she gets a job opportunity to practice international law after Walt is probably 9 months old.  Michael tries his best to keep Walt from being moved away from him but Susan points out a court will not side with him since he’s out of work.


That night, Michael tells Sun he doesn’t want Walt to grow up on the island.  He finds Sayid telling Jack that Rousseau’s maps have to do with latitude and longitude, maybe having to do with the island or perhaps somewhere on the island.  Michael tells them they need to stop waiting for a rescue and take matters into their own hands. He means to build a raft but no one else seems enthused about it.

Walt is reading the Flash comic written in Spanish and focuses on the polar bear panel.  Michael asks him to help him and when Walt says he’s busy and likes the pictures of the comic, Michael (we learned he’s an artist earlier) tries to talk to Walt about drawing.  But Walt’s not interested and Michael takes the comic forcing Walt to help him gather supplies for the raft.

Flashback:  Michael calls Susan on a payphone and wants to talk to Walt who is only 21 months old.  We hear another man’s voice on her end of the phone and she tells Michael she’s seeing her boss, Brian.  Michael says he’s coming to Amsterdam where she is and see Walt, clearly upset things have ended between him and Susan.  Michael hangs and gets hit by a car in the street. Go a few months ahead and Susan shows up at the hospital to tell Michael she’s paying for his medical bills and wants him to give up his parental rights so Brian can adopt Walt.  Michael is mad and doesn’t want to give in but does.


Plot B follows Charlie as he searches for Claire’s bags. He finds them but doesn’t see her diary. He talks to Kate and they go to ask Sawyer if he has it. He does and Charlie punches him to get it. Sawyer hits back and Charlie tells him he hits like a ponse (LOL). Charlie tries not to read it but eventually does and goes to Sayid and Jack to share a passage. Apparently Claire had dreams about something called the Black Rock. Rousseau mentioned whatever this thing or place was to Sayid and they begin to think maybe Claire was taken there.

Michael and Walt are collecting supplies for the raft when Walt notices Locke and Boone coming out of the jungle and heading to the caves. Walt says he wants water and tries to talk to Locke. Not wanting to go against Michael, Locke tells Walt he’s not to come around anymore. Wouldn’t you know it, Michael shows up and threatens Locke once again. Locke tries to give Michael a peace offering but that doesn’t get over well.


Getting called a jerk by Walt, Michael tells him he will listen and throws the comic in the fire. Walt is told to stay there in the caves but he takes off with Vincent.

Flashback:  Walt is at his current age and with his mom and Brian in Australia doing homework on native birds. Susan doesn’t feel well and while Walt feels ignored, a bird crashes into the window killing itself. Brian looks at Walt like he had something to do with the bird. Brian shows up at Michael’s place in the US to tell him Susan died the day before from a blood disorder. He tells Michael Susan wanted him to take custody over Walt. Michael is conflicted realizing Brian lied and only adopted Walt because Susan wanted him to. He says there’s something off about Walt, that he’s different. Strange things happen when he’s around (that’s eerie).

Walt loses Vincent and is attacked by a polar bear but manages to get in a tree. Michael confronts Locke thinking Walt is there. Locke tells him he told Walt not to come around and they agree to go find Walt.

Flashback:  Michael goes to Australia to take Walt back with him and has to explain that since he’s his father, he gets custody (not really how it works but Michael didn’t want to tell him Brian didn’t want to be his dad anymore).  It’s an interesting moment but reveals why Michael was there in Sydney.


They find him and the polar bear (with some mighty bad CGI I might add) and save the day together. Locke and Michael seem to be on good terms and all is happy day. Michael and Walt clear the air and we learn Susan kept all of Michael’s letters in a box and never gave them to Walt (cold…real cold).

The episode finishes with Locke and Boone using the dog whistle to find Vincent. Who do they find instead? Claire!!!

Obviously this episode seems to be suggesting there’s something special about Walt but we don’t know quite what that means at this point.

Lost Season 1 Re-watch: Hearts and Minds

posted in: Film/TV, Lost, Review | 0


The eye opening motif is back and this time it belongs to a brooding Boone as he watches Sayid and Shannon from a distance.  He gets interrupted by Hurley who’s asking about why he and Locke have not returned with any fresh boar kills. Boone essentially ignores Hurley and goes to confront Sayid, telling him to stay away from Shannon.  Sayid’s not impressed with Boone’s order and aggressive demeanor. Things look to be ready to go off between them when Locke calls out for Boone to come help him “track” a boar.


While they make their way through the jungle, Locke warns Boone not to make enemies of Sayid.  Locke says they’ll need him on their side once they’re ready to share what they found in the jungle.  We get a nice look at what appears to be a door set into the earth of the jungle. There’s hinges and small window set in the center and we’re all left thinking what Locke says, “how do open a door that has no discernible handle or way to open it?”  Boone mentions that they need to be truthful with the group about what they’re doing and not bringing back boar but Locke says they’re not ready yet.


Much of the Plot B threads have to do with Jack learning from Kate that Sun has built (form?  I don’t know) a garden. During her time with Sun, Kate eventually realizes Sun can understand her as she talks because mistakenly smiles in response.  Sun makes her promise to say nothing like she did with Michael. We also get some great comedic moments when Hurley tries to catch fish alongside Jin because he’s needs some protein due to the lack of boar.  Hurley steps on an urchin and tries to get Jin to pee on his foot (I can’t help but laugh).

Flashback:  (Note: I’ll sum up this flashback because it’s pretty “eh” in terms of revealing anything interesting except at the end where things get…ew.)  Boone’s at a country club and gets a phone call from Shannon. She screams at someone and tells Boone she’s in Sydney (now we know why they were on Flight 180) when he says he’s coming to get her.  When he arrives at the house of the guy she’s shacked up with, she acts surprised and tells Boone he should leave but makes sure to adjust her hair so he can see the bruise on her forehead.


Boone goes to the police, where we learn he and Shannon are actually step siblings, asking for help but gets none.  We do get to see an arrested Sawyer dragged by which makes you go, “hey!”. Left to his own devices, Boone goes to Shannon’s beau, Bryan, and offers to pay him 25k to leave Shannon, which Boone has done two times prior apparently.  Bryan makes Boone pay him 50k and when Boone goes to retrieve Shannon, we learn she tricked him and was in on the set up. Bryan makes some kind of mention that Shannon’s just getting what’s due to her from her father.

Later that night, Shannon shows up at Boone’s hotel room telling him Bryan took off with the money (not shocked).  Then things take a turn and…hmm, how should I convey this? We know they’re step parents but we don’t know when their parents married each other.  My guess would be when they were teenagers and just about at that age. Shannon tells Boone she’s always known about his feelings for her…and things go full Game of Thrones.  Yep, they sleep together. Like I said, “ew”.


Back to the present!  Boone sits patiently while Locke is working on something in a bowl.  When Boone asks what they’re doing just staring at the door in the floor, Locke tells him a story about the artist, Michelangelo, whose father didn’t want him to be an artist.  Older, a prince found Michelangelo staring at a marble slab and he did so for hours for days. When asked why, Michelangelo said he was working. Three years later that marble was made into the statue of David.  Locke uses the story to explain to Boone that they are going to figure out how to open the door by being patient. Boone wants to tell Shannon at least about the door and Locke sees there’s something unhealthy between them (ya think?).  Definitely some boundary issues. Boone pleads his case and Locke agrees but after that, he strikes Boone in the back of the head.

Boone wakes up to find himself tied down in such a way that I can’t explain.  One arm is behind his back and the other in front. Apparently, he can’t move the front without causing pain in the one behind his back (Locke’s a bad man).  Locke tells Boone he needs to let some things go and with whatever he has been mixing in that bowl of his, he places it on the wound in the back of Boone’s head.  Before taking off, Locke throws a knife into the ground in front Boone.


Sayid is working on a makeshift compass as he tries to make sense of Rousseau’s map.  Locke happens upon him and they make some small talk before Locke gives over his own compass to Sayid saying he no longer needs it.  Sayid meets up with Jack and asks him to point out north. Jack does and Sayid agrees, pulling out Locke’s compass and showing Jack that where north should be is actually northwest.  Odd right? Sayid explains that a magnetic anomaly would make the compass a few degrees off but not to the amount the compass shows. Sayid takes this to mean the compass is busted.

Boone seems to have passed out after Locke left him and wakes up when he hears Shannon screaming for help.  He tries grabbing for the knife and fails until he hears the monster roar in the distance. This gives Boone the will to reach for the knife and cut himself free.  He runs to find Shannon tied to a tree apparently by Locke. They run and hide from the monster as it pursues them. Once they think they’re in the clear they make their way back to the beach but get a shock when the monster rips a tree up from its roots (well, that’s new).  Shannon gets lifted up by the monster (we still haven’t seen what it is) and Boone searches for her eventually finding her dead (whoa…that was unexpected…).

That night, Boone finds Locke and attacks him blaming Locke on Shannon’s death.  Locke is mesmerized and asks what “it” showed Boone. He directs Boone to see Shannon alive and well with Sayid.  The paste applied to Boone’s wound was some kind of hallucinogenic that made him see Shannon’s death. When prompted how he felt, Boone confesses he felt relief (this is why healthy boundaries are necessary!).

Okay, so like I said last post, I’m not a fan of this episode.  I don’t think Boone and/or Shannon are the most-compelling characters in the show.  Their relationship is a whole other story that I think many a fans get grossed out by.  The biggest attraction point of this episode is the door in the jungle floor. That’s what we want to know about!  Well, maybe we’ll get more info next episode, which by the way is Michael and Walt’s first episode.

Lost Season 1 Re-watch: Whatever the Case May Be

posted in: Film/TV, Lost, Review | 0


The episode starts with Kate up in a tree, picking fruit.  Once back on the ground, she hears what sounds like someone hiding in the trees.  She throws a rock and strikes a hiding Sawyer (that’s quite a lucky throw). He feels the need to protect her since Claire was taken (I think Kate’s proven in the series so far she doesn’t need protection).  Finding a waterfall and pool, they take a swim and down deep, they see through the gloom to find a pair of plane seats with their passengers still buckled in (nightmares…). Kate also notices a steel briefcase under one of the seats and Sawyer is able to get it.  Kate claims it belongs to her but is unable to open it without a key. Sawyer takes it for himself, intrigued by Kate’s wanting the case and then not wanting it.

The tide comes in quick and fast and forces the beachers to abandon camp and move further down and up the beach.  Sayid finds the sudden shift strange much like he did about the number of survivors in the crash. Jack asks about Rousseau wanting to meet her and ask about the Others who took Claire.  Sayid is not convinced Rousseau can help or that he heard what he heard in the jungle.


Our Plot B thread this episode focuses on Shannon and Sayid.  She’s unhappy with Boone traipsing off into the jungle with Locke each day as they “search” for Claire but as we know are being secretive with what they found.  Boone practically calls Shannon useless and not contributive to the group so when Sayid comes to ask her to help translate the French notations on the maps he took from Rousseau, she agrees to prove Boone wrong.  While she struggles to understand the writing, she eventually realizes the same words written over and over again are from a children’s movie (which sounds like Finding Nemo). There’s some obvious flirting and growing attraction between them too.


Flashback:  Kate’s in a small town bank getting a loan for a photography job, while using a different name, and a bank robbery takes place.  She gets taken hostage and when she has an opportunity to pick up and use a gun from a robber, she says she doesn’t know ow to use the gun (interesting based on what we know about her so far).

Kate is determined to get the briefcase from Sawyer and fails as he sleeps with it clenched between his knees.  He’s getting more and more intrigued as to why she wants the case so bad but she refuses to tell him why or what’s in it.  While he tries to pick the lock the next day Michael tells him if he manages to unlock that particular brand case, he’ll fly them back to LA on his back.  Taking Michael’s advice to use to open the case, Sawyer tries everything he can, which includes throwing it down from high up. Kate takes the opportunity to snatch the case but Sawyer catches up and she’s once again left without it.


Flashback:  After Kate fails to use the gun on the bank robbers, the leader takes her into an office and we learn she’s actually in on the heist (uh huh, yep).  The bank robbers get into the vault and take Kate with them. She turns on them though, shooting each of the three robbers to incapacitate them. She says she just wants a safety deposit box (Box 850 but I’m not sure this number has any significance).  She takes out a small toy plane.


Kate goes to Jack and tells him about the case belonging to the marshal who escorted her.  Apparently there are several handguns in the case (interesting…). Jack suspects there’s more she’s not saying to him.  He agrees to help her get the case from Sawyer but wants to open the case together. This also means they have to dig up the body of the marshal to get the key.  Kate tries out her sleight of hand, taking the key from the wallet once they get to the body. Jack notices her trickery (good on you Jack-o) and once he gets the case, they open it together.  He hands over an envelope asking if that’s what she wanted. She pulls out the toy plane and jack wants the truth. Kate admits the toy plane belonged to the man she loved who also happens to be the man she killed (What?!).

This episode always makes me think of it being the perfect set up episode.  There will be more to come but there is great significance in this one that I’ll point out in coming episodes.  It’s a good one overall and it further fleshes out Kate as a character. Next up is Boone and Shannon’s first episode and it’s…a strange one.

Lost Season 1 Re-watch: All the Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues

posted in: Film/TV, Lost, Review | 0


The episode picks up where the previous one left off.  Jack and Locke rush out of the caves in search of Claire and Charlie, eventually finding Claire’s bag.  Locke thinks they were taken judging by the tracks. Jack struggles to understand why they were taken while Locke tries to keep an open mind.  Jack wants to keep searching while Locke would prefer to return to the caves and put together a search party.


Flashback:  We find out this is Jack’s second centric episode as he’s performing surgery in what appears to be an intense situation.  His dad, Christian, is there and as the female patient can’t be resuscitated tells Jack to call the time of death. Angry, Jack tells his father to call the time of death and walks off.  Turns out Jack was notified by a nurse that his dear old dad might have been under the influence of alcohol while performing the surgery on the woman. Christian denies the allegation and maintains that the car accident the woman was in was the cause for her death.  The friction between father and son surgeons is quite apparent.

Locke returns to the cave and is joined by Kate and Boone to catch up with Jack and search for Claire and Charlie.  Michael wants to help too but is told by Locke he’s not needed. Michael doesn’t appreciate the dismissal and says he’ll organize his own search party.  Locke and group catch up with Jack and Locke tells Jack he blames himself for not noticing something off about Ethan. Locke hunted with him and despite his abilities to track and hunt, Ethan is better, implying they are dealing with a superior foe.


There’s not much Plot B in this episode but we do get interactions between Walt and Hurley where both play backgammon and Walt mentions his dad, Brian not Michael, saying he’s the luckiest person he’s ever known.  Hurley can’t believe his losing streak while they play and we find out Hurley owes Walt 20 grand by the time Hurley finished playing. Walt also interacts with Sawyer, providing the scuttlebutt of Claire and Charlie being taken.  Sawyer doesn’t believe him and Walt tells Sawyer to go ask Sayid who has returned. This provides a tense moment between Sawyer and Sayid but Sawyer seems to consider the reality that there could actually be other people on the island.


Ripping apart a red shirt to mark their progress, Locke loses the trail but assures Jack he will find it again.  Jack’s not happy about playing second fiddle to Mr. Locke and Kate notices it, calling him out on his stuff (thank you, Kate).  It doesn’t help that Jack feels guilty for not believing Claire’s being attacked. Locke calls out and he finds one of the pieces of tape Charlie wrote the letters for “LATE” and placed on his fingers.  Kate pipes up and says it could be a dummy trail left by Ethan, revealing she’s got some tracking knowledge as well. Locke and Boone head in one direction and while Jack and Kate head in the other.

Boone and Locke shoot the breeze as they search for the trail.  Boone mentions Star Trek and the “red shirt” crew members (brought up because they’re using a red shirt to mark their trail) who die in every episode.  Locke seems unfamiliar with this and says they must be led by a “piss-poor captain”. An apt view. Boone asks Locke about his job in the real world and Locke reveals he was a regional collections supervisor for a box company (yep, they make boxes).  He then predicts it’s going to rain in a few seconds and it does further proving Locke has some kind of connection or understanding of the island no one else does.


Raining now, Jack and Kate eventually get separated.  Jack slips down a hillside and finds Ethan standing over him.  Jack gets a jungle beat down and Ethan threatens to kill Claire or Charlie if Jack doesn’t stop following them.  Despite the beating, Jack keeps going after Kate catches to him.

Flashback:  Jack meets his dear old dad in private and is asked to sign a report that describes the surgery and death of the car wreck patient.  Christian does a bit of manipulation and convinces Jack to sign the report despite Jack holding that his dad was not of sound mind to perform such a complex surgery.  During an inquiry with the hospital top dogs, Jack learns the woman was pregnant and in that moment says he has to speak against the report, which could very well be the thing he did that cost his dad his career and drove distance between them.


Jack and Kate happen upon a horrifying scene of Charlie hanging from a tree by his neck.  They cut him down and Jack refuses to let up on resuscitating him. Honestly, I can’t do this scene justice.  There’s so much emotion and in my opinion a powerful moment and performance by Matthew Fox as a man bent on saving a life.  While Kate tried to tell Jack Charlie was gone, Jack persisted and went back at it, using his fist in a CPR method probably not recommended.  Charlie jerks back to life and once back at the caves tells Jack “they” only wanted Claire (ominous…).

The episode ends with Locke and Boone in the middle of the night still searching for Claire and Charlie.  When Boone wants to head back to camp, Locke tosses him a flashlight and it hits something loud on the ground.  They investigate and it sounds like something hollow is underneath. Locke tells Boone they are going to find out it is.

There are a few episodes of Lost that tug on my emotions and this is one of them.  Jack trying to bring Charlie back from death is heavy on me. So good and then we have this “Others” possibility and this metal thing in the jungle to investigate and I think this is where the show opens up.

Lost Season 1 Re-watch: Raised By Another

posted in: Film/TV, Lost, Review | 0


We get our motif of an eye opening to start things off.  This time it belongs to Claire who we have yet to really get much information about besides the fact that she’s Australian and pregnant.


She wakes in the caves and quickly realizes she’s not pregnant anymore, hearing a baby crying in the distance.  Right off the bat we should assume this a dream unless it’s a time jump which would be a first. She heads off into the jungle, sees a light source and walks towards it.  Turns out it’s Locke sitting at a table with some strange paraphernalia including a deck of cards. Claire asks him what’s happening and he tells her it was her responsibility but she gave him away.  He lifts his head and he has different colored eyes: one white and one black, reminding us of the backgammon pieces. She leaves him and goes back into the jungle, following the baby cries, eventually finding a crib.  She searches through the blankets inside until she finds nothing but blood. She’s ripped from the nightmare screaming bloody murder and Charlie is there noticing her palms are bloody.


Flashback:  Claire and her boyfriend, Thomas, are waiting on the results of a pregnancy test.  Once it reveals positive, Claire has doubts that they can raise a baby but Thomas thinks they can.  A friend takes Claire to see a psychic and everything is hunky dory until the psychic ends the session abruptly, giving Claire her money back without explanation.

Jack asks Claire questions about her pregnancy and how she’s feeling, saying everything checks out and she’s probably just stressed.  He finds Kate on the beach and tells her Claire’s baby is coming soon. Charlie expresses concern for Claire and tries to console her eventually expressing wanting to be more than friends.  She rebuffs him and Charlie assures her it’s alright though we all know he wants more.


That night Claire is asleep in the caves again and a hand slaps over her mouth.  She’s screaming like crazy (let me just say that the actress who plays Claire has got a scream that unnerves me like no other; she does not hold back).  Everyone is up of course, consoling her or looking for whoever attacked her but there’s no sign of an assailant. Hurley approaches Jack and makes it clear that they need to figure out who’s who in their group, making a point that they don’t who is at the caves and who is at the beach.  We also learn Hurley’s real name is Hugo, but this doesn’t seem to be a Sawyer situation. Just a nickname.

Jack is not convinced someone attacked Claire, believing that her condition is making her hallucinate.  Charlie is not happy about the diagnosis and is at odds with Jack. Hurley’s collecting names, other personal info, and reasons for traveling to Australia, getting some info from characters like Locke, Boone and Shannon, and Ethan.  He also learns that his job would be easier if he had the flight manifest from Sawyer, which gives us a funny exchange between the two including Sawyer’s less than affectionate nickname for Hurley: Staypuft.


Flashback:  Claire gets an unexpected surprise from Thomas who decides he doesn’t want to be a father now (he’s a real douche) and leaves her.  Claire goes back to the psychic in hopes to learn whether or not Thomas will return to her. The psychic tells her that her child is surrounded by danger according to his previous reading and tells her the child must be raised by her and no other.  Claire tells him she’s putting her baby up for adoption and he urges her not to make that choice. Later in her pregnancy, he calls Claire in the middle of the night the day before she goes to meet the adoption agency and parents. He tells her he has a plan but she still denies him.  At the meeting she’s unable to sign the paperwork due to no pens working (uh, weird). She takes it as a sign not to go through with the adoption and leaves, contacting the psychic again where she’s given the ticket on Oceanic 180 where parents await her arrival in Los Angeles.

Jack wants to give Claire a mild sedative and she realizes he doesn’t believe someone attacked her.  She storms to go to the beach and Charlie follows trying to convince her not to leave the safety and only doctor on the island in light of her late-stage pregnancy.  Claire stops once what looks like contractions start happening. Charlie runs to get Jack and crosses path with Ethan who says he’ll go get Jack. Charlie returns to Claire and once the contractions fade away, she tells him about the psychic and Charlie poignantly points out that maybe the psychic knew about the plane crash, knowing this was the only way Claire could raise her baby (whoa, crazy twist).


Sayid returns to the caves and tells Jack he found the French woman and also that they’re not alone on the island.  Hurley arrives in a panic and reveals that somebody he talked to wasn’t on the manifest. Shift back to Claire and Charlie and we get a creepy staring Ethan finding them without Jack.  Not good.

I’ll admit, I’m not the biggest fan of this episode.  Claire is not a character I ever gravitated towards. The true gold in this episode is the revelation that a potential “Other” has assimilated into the survivors’ group.

Lost Season 1 Re-watch: Solitary

posted in: Film/TV, Lost, Review | 0


Sayid’s left the group due to his guilt for very nearly killing Sawyer by severing an artery in his arm.  Jack saved him but shame plagues Sayid and he’s off on his own now sitting on a beach and looking at the picture of the unnamed woman.  He looks off to his left and notices something sticking up in sand. He investigates and finds a rather large cable that goes out into the ocean (strange…).  He grabs the cable and follows it into the opposite direction: the jungle.


Along the way, he finds a tripwire and steps over it only to spring another trap that grabs his leg and pulls up in the air upside down (I’m not sure what the proper name is for this kind of trap but now I really want to research traps).  He catches a broken branch in his leg and is left to hang there for hours until nightfall. He hears someone approaching in the dark and is cut free only to pass out once he’s on the ground.


Flashback:  We get Sayid in uniform interrogating another man in what we can surmise is the early 90s, due to our knowing he served in the Republican Guard during the Gulf War.  He talks to a superior officer as a woman prisoner is led by guards past them. Sayid meets her eyes and there’s some recognition there. Why? Because she’s the woman in the picture!  We find out her name is Nadia and she and Sayid knew each other when they were children but went on different paths. She’s being accused of a crime and Sayid is tasked to get information that could lead to arrests of her affiliates.  She refuses even though she knows Sayid is going to hurt her.

Plot B is a fun one in this episode.  Jack’s doing his best to keep everyone alive and healthy while stress and other anxieties begin to take their toll on everyone.  Kate blames Jack for Sayid’s leaving so they’re a bit on the outs. Sawyer gives Jack-o a new nickname: Dr Quinn (I laugh every time) and their triangle with Kate continues to build steam.  Hurley takes it upon himself to find some kind of de-stresser. When Locke and a man named, Ethan, return in the night with plane crash findings, Hurley gets excited upon finding something we’re not shown quite yet.


Michael shows Jack a drawing of a water filtration device, which will divert their supply to washing and drinking stations.  We learn Michael was an artist along with being in construction. They both eventually get summoned by Charlie to go and meet Hurley outside of the caves and we learn Hurley found golf clubs and created a two-hole golf course (even we in the audience needed this reprieve from the craziness of the island).  I’ll also point out that Walt feels left out and bored, eventually going off to find Locke who’s practicing his knife throwing skills.

When we get back to Sayid, he’s shackled to a metal bed frame confused and being asked by a woman in the shadows where someone named Alex is in several different languages.  Sayid tries his best to figure out where he is and who has him strapped to the bed. But his inability to provide sufficient answers earns him electric shock treatment. The woman reveals she’s the French woman who made the distress call (yep, she’s alive).  We learn her name is Rousseau and was part of a scientific expedition who’s ship crashed on the island after their instruments stopped working (because of the island?). She and her crew did their best to survive but she claims her fellow scientists, which included her beau, Robert, got sick and were not themselves.


There’s a lot of back and forth discussion between Sayid and Rousseau as they learn about each other, trust being earned when Sayid offers to fix a broken music box of hers.  What I would say is the most intriguing part of the information learned from Rousseau is that there are other people on the island she appropriately calls, “The Others”, who she seems to think Sayid is until she’s convinced otherwise.  Apparently she hasn’t seen these Others but has heard them. When they hear a roar outside her underground shelter, she claims it’s one of the bears. Sayid breaks free from his restraints, grabs supplies, a map of the island, and a rifle but forgets Nadia’s pictures.

Flashback:  Sayid is told to execute Nadia and he plans to release her, not fleeing with her because he knows his family will be killed if he does.  His superior officer shows up and is shot by Sayid. Nadia pleads further for him to run but he shoots himself, staging her escape to protect himself.  She gives him a letter and the picture of her as parting gifts.


Sayid sneaks up on Rousseau and when she raises her rifle at him, he pulls the trigger finding the firing pin has been removed.  Rousseau declines his offer to go back to his group and tells him to watch his people and be wary of them. Sayid asks her who Alex is and we learn it was her child.

The episode ends with Sayid returning to his group and suddenly stops as the wounds of whispers surround him (creepy…).

I always feel like this episode has a fair bit of levity in it with the golf scenes.  Sayid’s moments are important to his character and introducing us to Rousseau while also signaling to possible other people on the island.  We’re still in the “all killer” episodes at this point. So many great moments!

Lost Season 1 Re-watch : Confidence Man

posted in: Film/TV, Lost, Review | 0


Kate’s walking along the beach and finds Sawyer’s clothes and favorite book, Watership Down, bundled together.  He arises from the shallows and proceeds to flirt with her as we’re accustomed to seeing. In this quick opening, we’re reminded of Sawyer’s affinity for Kate, which is important to the episode.


Flashback:  Sawyer’s in bed with a woman in a hotel room and he’s told the time and freaks out, saying he needs to get to a meeting.  He grabs a briefcase and it opens revealing stacks of cash. The woman, Jess, asks about the money because any sane person would and Sawyer proceeds to tell her he has an investment opportunity for oil drilling but only has a portion of the money.  His meeting that afternoon is with another potential investor. Jess makes a play and offers to be his partner investor using her husband’s money (aha, the plot thickens).

While traipsing (I love that word) through the jungle, noises alert Sawyer and he finds Boone going through his stash.  Uh oh.

Jack is tending to Sayid’s head wound in the caves, learning about how Sayid’s plan was sabotaged.  Boone is brought in all bloodied up from getting a beating by Sawyer. Boone explains to Jack that he was looking for Shannon’s asthma medicine in Sawyer’s stash believing the medicine was there because Sawyer was reading Boone’s book, Watership Down.

There’s no real Plot B storyline in this episode besides Charlie and Claire getting closer.  They talk about food they miss and Claire reveals she craves peanut butter. Charlie promises to find her some and goes to Hurley, implicating Hurley might have a hoard of food, which is presumed because Hurley is what might be described as hefty.  Charlie apologizes for the bad form and eventually settles for bringing Claire an empty jar and make believing peanut butter inside. It’s cute and definitely shows the progression of their relationship but otherwise doesn’t propel the story forward.

Back to the good stuff!

Jack shows up to Sawyer’s tent and begins rummaging through things telling Sawyer to give him Shannon’s medicine.  Sawyer doesn’t appreciate it and before they can throw down Kate shows up. She tells a storming off Jack that she can get the medicine from Sawyer because according to him they a connection (whatever that means).


She asks and Sawyer says he’ll hand over the medicine for a kiss.  Kate declines of course and begins to tell Sawyer she knows he’s putting on a front as a guy who’s the enemy of the people.  She mentions the letter we’ve seen him read on multiple occasions and he hands it over, telling her to read it out loud. The letter is written by a kid saying he knows Sawyer slept with his mother and got his father to give him his money.  The kid reveals his dad killed his mother and then himself, blaming Sawyer for his parents being dead (woo, heavy…).


Sayid’s on his mission to determine who sabotaged his mission and confronts Locke, asking his whereabouts.  Locke says he was skinning a boar and couldn’t be accounted for but tells Sayid that someone who wanted to sabotage a rescue would be someone who is benefiting and profiting off of their current circumstances.  Locke implicates Sawyer but Sayid claims Sawyer had an alibi, setting off Kate’s bottle rocket which was too far for him to get to Sayid.  Locke says a delayed fuse could have been made using a cigarette and hands over a knife just in case there’s a next time (that’s foreshadowing if I’ve ever seen it before).

While Jack continues to try to help Shannon, he and Sayid form up to take Sawyer and make him give over the medicine.  Sayid reveals while in the Republican Guard, his training involved getting information from the enemy.


Sawyer wakes up from a nap to see Sayid before getting knocked out and is dragged into the jungle.  Kate tries to intervene but Jack shoots her down. Once awake, Sayid shows Sawyer the carved bamboo shoots he plans to press up under his fingernails (I still cringe every time I watch this scene).  Sawyer refuses to speak despite Sayid’s efforts and when he’s threatened to lose an eye, he tells them he’ll only tell Kate where the medicine is.

She arrives and Sawyer tries his luck with the kiss payment, which she obliges much to her chagrin.  Afterwards, he tells her he doesn’t have the medicine. Kate gives him a nice strike against the face and tells Jack and Sayid that Sawyer doesn’t have the medicine.  Sayid confronts Sawyer again and the two tussel as Sawyer breaks free from his constraints. Sayid uses his Locke-given knife to stab Sawyer in the arm severing an artery.  Jack jumps in and saves Sawyer even though Sawyer tells Jack to let him die and that if the tables were turned, he’d let Jack die (harsh, man…harsh).


Flashback:  Sawyer meets with Jess and her husband, David, to go over the investment opportunity.  David is reluctant not trusting Sawyer. Sawyer offers to let David handle his half of the money overnight, earning trust.  Next we see Sawyer in a bar where he’s explaining his plan to the actual owner of his half of the money (happening to be 160K).  Sawyer gets threatened and told he better deliver all the money come tomorrow. The next day Sawyer is finalizing the deal with his marks but is conflicted once their son shows up.  Sawyer has a change of heart and calls the deal off even though he’s likely going to be putting his life at risk (no bueno, man).


Sawyer wakes up and finds himself stitched up.  Kate’s there and tells him she’s been reading the letter and figures out from a stamp that it was actual Sawyer who wrote the letter as a kid.  Exposed, he tells her a confidence man named Sawyer conned his parents which led to their deaths. As he got older he needed money quick and figured out how to con a man and woman assuming the identity of the man who ruined his life.  Talk about tragedy.


Jack returns to the caves and finds Sun (with the help of Michael) has located eucalyptus leaves to help Shannon’s breathing.  Sayid announces what he did do Sawyer was something he vowed never to do again so he decides to self-banish himself away from the group.

Another strong episode and one that I think makes Sawyer a far more sympathetic character than originally laid out for the viewers.  He’s multi-layered and this will come out in later episodes. The more I watch this show, the more I realize how much he grows as a character.

Flash Fiction: Following the Dead Trail

Shade lions concealed their presence better than any creature in Breshtk, proving the most-difficult predators the Ajjuun dealt with throughout the grasslands.  Small traces of their kills had to be dug up in order to track the animals.  Even then, trails could take hours to find.

Hijeneva crouched a few feet from the mess of entrails piled before her, looking past the gore and able to see the direction of her target’s path.  One of the other-worldly creatures—a demon from the Agony—but a second had left just as much death and destruction in the village.  This one had escaped Ajjuun justice.

Chatter from behind forced her jaw to clench.  Her three suitors crouched a mere few strides behind her but struggled to maintain any sense of composure.  These three had earned her favor, chosen to prove themselves if they wished to wed her.  Their pale faces masked in ash blinked in waiting as they noticed her gaze.

Unconsciously, Hijeneva touched the leather pouch at her waist which held the god’s relics.  Soon, they would all be tested.  Soon, her suitors would face her ultimate test if they were to be worthy of her maidenhood.

Saying nothing, she continued along the dead trail, hearing the near silent movements of her suitors.  If any of the three lacked that simple ability of quiet pursuit, she would send them back to the tribe in shame.

Laughter pulled her eyes back to the dead trail.  Within a copse of trees, the bloody line led straight into the wooded shadows; the bone-chilling sound dared her to advance closer.  Rising from her stance, heart racing and anger twisting in her chest, she reached for the leather pouch.  The time for her suiters to prove their worth had come.

Hijeneva motioned the men forward, opened the pouch, made the contents available and waited.  All the while, the mocking laughter continued.  One by one, they took the pieces, not questioning her or the origin of the items.

Dagal, the tallest and thinnest of her suitors, hesitated by rubbing his unshaven chin where dark stubble curled.  His dark eyes caught hers and he reached in grabbing the armlet with the dull gold-colored stone.  Hijeneva watched, not daring to blink, to see what influence the stone might have on him if any.  Nothing.

The squat but solid, Bjuno, reached in without waiting and took the silver hand mirror, looking into the reflection for longer than she would have expected.  He did not show much care for his appearance before but she could say nothing when the third suitor, Malistin, reached in and took the four coins not waiting for her to offer the pouch.

Malstin raised one of the coins and held it to the sun.  “A shining—”  His voice stopped abruptly and so did the laughter in the trees.  His gaze turned to the three coins in his other hand.  Steam or smoke rose from his half-clenched palm.  He began to scream, waving his hand to free his flesh from the coins but nothing fell away.

Laughter from the trees started again but it moved out and to the group’s left, drawing fearful eyes.  The black oily form of the creature moved casually but its path was a closing circle.

Hijeneva reached for her tiil in time to hear Dagal curse and raise his bow as the creature advanced.  Screams and laughter filled the air.  Blood and more blood marred the land.  The world stilled to see if a survivor would remain.

Lost Season 1 Re-watch: The Moth

posted in: Film/TV, Lost, Review | 0

(Side Note:  I am unable to upload new pictures at the time. Sorry about the delay.)

We get to Charlie’s first centric episode and he’s in a bad way.  We’ve had the luxury of seeing a lot of who Charlie is from the first episode.  He’s a drug addict and been getting his fixes whenever the need strikes.  Locke knows his secret and has stepped up personally to provide a way for Charlie to find help.

Dealing with his withdrawals, we get to see Charlie feeling out of place, wanting to help around the cave but not needed, which he doesn’t appreciate.  Locke tries to help him and in doing so uses Charlie as bait for a boar (very messed up, I might add).  Charlie makes a request for his drugs, revealing Locke’s in possession of the last of Charlie’s stash.  Locke tells Charlie he’s stronger than he thinks and Locke will give him three times to ask for his drugs before finally handing them over.


Plot B of this episode goes back to Sayid’s plan to find the French woman’s distress call source.  He’s somehow manufactured three antennas to triangulate the source.  One problem is he needs a battery to power the transceiver.  Kate knows where to find one and that involves including Sawyer in the mix (always a fun interaction when Sawyer’s involved; pure snarkiness).  Using bottle rockets to provide signals once the antennas are all in position, Sayid, Kate, and Boone put the plan in motion.


Flashback:  Here we get to see Charlie’s progression into “rock stardom”.  He’s on the verge of quitting his band, Driveshaft, due to things getting a little out of hand with the ladies (full salacious conviction offered to a priest) but Charlie’s brother, Liam, has a recording contract in hand and convinces Charlie to keep going with the dream.  Charlie obliges but makes Liam promise that if things get out of hand, they walk away.  What could go wrong?!


Feeling unappreciated, Charlie confronts Jack in a separate cave from the main one where everyone is living and raises his voice a little too loud, causing a cave-in.  Charlie makes it out but Jack is trapped.  A rescue attempt takes place led by Michael who turns out to be experienced in construction.  Feeling responsible, Charlie goes to Locke and asks for his drugs again.  That’s two.  In an attempt to leave Charlie with some wisdom, Locke shows him a cocoon explaining it belongs to a moth.  Locke says he could use his knife to help the moth break free from its cocoon but to do so would make the moth weak and unable to survive (Mr. Locke handing out life lessons!).

Sayid and Kate are out in the jungle, going to their prospective antenna locations and they discuss the plane crash.  Sayid is convinced the crash was not normal saying the plane broke apart in midair and their section of the plane crashed on the island with over forty survivors.  That should not have happened according to him.  Sawyer shows up to tell Kate about Jack but when he’s met with a bristling Kate, he negates to follow through and offers to help them (pretty shady).


Flashback:  Driveshaft is in the thick smoke and sweat of stardom and things have gotten a bit out of hand.  Liam has taken charge of the band and is openly becoming a junkie.  Charlie gets to the end of his rope and tells Liam they are walking away but gets rebuffed by Liam, leaving a distraught Charlie to contemplate what’s happened.  Jump forward to an undisclosed amount of years and Charlie’s in Sydney to track down a clean and sober Liam who has no interest in returning to the band to make a comeback.  He and Charlie have switched roles and Charlie actually blames his brother for his junkie state.


Charlie offers to climb into the cave where Jack is after Michael and the group make a small opening.  Another collapse takes place after Charlie gets through and efforts to free them have to continue.  Jack realizes Charlie’s in withdrawal and offers to help him (if they ever get out), telling Charlie he’s not worthless and an asset to the group.  Charlie notices a moth flying around in the cave and finds another way out.  He and Jack escape the cave surprising everyone and Charlie’s praised for his heroism (hugs all around!)

Bit of a backtrack because these plot threads are woven together from time to time and don’t make for an easy recap but Boone ran off to help with the cave-in and left Shannon in charge of his antenna.  Sayid left Kate and Sawyer with theirs as he climbed to higher ground to set up his antenna.  While they wait for Sayid, Kate and Sawyer are bantering, obviously at odds, and Sawyer lets slip about Jack’s situation.  Kate leaves him to help free Jack and we’re left to wonder if Sawyer will follow through with the plan.  Sayid launches his bottle rocket and we see Shannon and Sawyer launch theirs.  Sayid turns the transceiver on but before he can get a clear signal, he gets hit in the head from behind by an unknown person.  Not good.


The episode ends with Charlie going to Locke and asking for his drugs for the third and final time.  Locke is apprehensive but follows through.  Charlie throws the last of his stash in the fire and I don’t know about you but it’s an awesome moment that hits all the right beats for this character who continues to grow on me.

Again, another strong episode.  Charlie is one of those complex characters in the show that I don’t think got enough recognition at times.  His journey so far is so great to watch.  Locke continues to be an even stronger force on the show (probably why actor, Terry O’Quinn, won an Emmy for this role).

Next we get Sawyer’s first centric episode.  If memory serves right, it’s equally strong and might be one of my early favorites.  Just a reminder that this will be posted on October 3rd.  The last post of this month will be the new Shoals to the Hallowed flash fiction story.

Lost Season 1 Re-watch : House of the Rising Sun

posted in: Film/TV, Lost, Review | 0

We get our first Sun-centric episode and we know it’s Sun-centric because the episode opens with her eye opening and as we know, this is Lost’s signature motif in these first season episodes.  We don’t know much about Sun and Jin, getting very little of their relationship except that Jin seems to be a very controlling husband.

Flashback:  The flashbacks consist of Sun and Jin’s relationship starting with their early days before marriage where we learn Sun comes from a wealthy family and Jin does not.  We see them together at a party but in different roles.  Sun is attending and Jin is serving as a waiter, revealing himself to be kind and loving, giving her a flower, which will come into play later.

Plot B of the episode focuses on the survivors collecting water from the cave Jack found.  We get a whole lot of Jack and Kate flirting and Jack’s wanting to bring the survivors to the cave and water instead of making water hauling trips multiple times a day.  Kate and Sayid are not that interested for fear of missing a chance to signal a rescue from the beach.

Things get crazy when out of nowhere Jin attacks Michael and beats the crap out of him.  The language barrier proves to be just that as no one can get answers from either Jin or Sun for the cause of Jin’s sudden violence.  This all makes sense though as we see more flashbacks.

Flashback:  Not knowing the time jumps of each flashback (there are several and woven throughout the episode) when they occur, Jin talks to Sun’s father offscreen and tells her that he has earned the right to propose to her but he has to devote a year to working for her father.  She’s not happy about that but Jin is adamant that it’s the right way to do things.  Months later, Sun gets home and finds she has a present from Jin—a dog!  Months later again, the dog is much bigger now, Jin shows up to their home with blood all over his hands.  Sun confronts him and he says he does what her father asks of him (sounds like Sun has a “Father of the Year” nominee as well).  Obviously, Jin is not the same man he was when we first saw them together and he’s become someone Sun doesn’t know anymore.

In what I’ll call Plot B-a, while the water group of Jack, Kate, Locke, and Charlie get to the cave, Charlie decides it’s a great time to take a hit of his drugs but is caught by Locke who warns him not to move when Charlie somehow didn’t realize he was standing on a beehive (yes, a beehive on the ground).  Charlie moves, breaks the hive, and the group has to get away from the flurry of bees.  Jack and Kate end up finding two bodies—a man and woman—in the cave.  Jack claims they’ve been dead for 40-50 years and finds two stones (one black and one white—that’s familiar now isn’t it to Locke’s backgammon pieces).

Jack and Kate take the water back to the beach and Locke stays to help Charlie look through wreckage.  Locke recognizes Charlie from Driveshaft and asks about Charlie’s guitar, which he checked on the plane.  Obviously missing it, Locke asks Charlie if he wants his guitar more than his drug telling him he will see his guitar again because the island gives people their heart’s desire.  But, they have to be willing to give something in return (apparently, Mr. Locke has become the all-knowing Oz of the island).  Charlie hands over his drugs and Locke tells him to look up.  Low and behold, his guitar is caught in some vines above them.  Charlie’s reaction is priceless.  Such a great moment!

Flashback:  Sun meets with an interior designer but it turns out the woman is actually behind a plan so Sun can escape Jin and her old life.  Looks like she wants to runaway and disappear in Sydney, faking a kidnapping, and eventually her death.  Things with Jin have gotten bad.

A small moment between Walt and Michael reveal Walt’s mother never talked about Michael.  They start to banter and start asking each other questions to see if they know each other, which they don’t besides some very basic info.  Michael heads off into the jungle to cut some firewood and Sun follows him and boom!  She speaks English.  What?!  Who saw that coming?  She says Jin attacked him because Michael is wearing a watch he found in the wreckage that belonged to her father.  Also, Jin doesn’t know Sun speaks English making things more complicated.  Michael cuts Jin free from being handcuffed to the piece of plane debris now understanding why Jin attacked him but he’s not ready to make amends with Jin.

The survivors are divided (locationally) as Jack takes those interested in staying in the cave while Sayid, Kate, Sawyer, and others stay on the beach hoping to signal a rescue.

Flashback:  In the Sydney airport, Sun gets ready to disappear from Jin, obviously conflicted about the decision.  She’s about to leave when she makes eye contact with Jin and he shows her a flower which is what he first gave her before they were engaged.  She sees the man she fell in love with, past the hard exterior made from working for her father.  She joins him and stays with him.

Definitely a good episode as we get more information on characters.  I’ll be honest, my favorite part of this episode is Locke and Charlie’s interaction.  There’s something about it that hits me in the feels every time.  I do like the complexity of Jin and Sun’s relationship and look forward to how that shapes up in the coming episodes.

Next is Charlie’s first centric episode!  It’s a good one!

Lost Season 1 Re-watch : White Rabbit

posted in: Film/TV, Lost, Review | 0

We get another “eye-opening” opening (there’s our official motif for this show) of a young Jack being told to stay down on the ground while some older bullies beat up on another kid.  Young Jack-o doesn’t listen and gets popped in the face before older Jack’s name is being called out while staring out into nothing on the beach.

Jack realizes someone is calling out for help in the water and he dives into action (pun uh-thank you).  Once he gets out deeper, he goes under water and comes up with Boone.  Starting to swim back, Boone says he was trying to save her and Jack sees a woman further out calling for help.  Alas, Jack gets back to shore with Boone and goes back out to save the woman.

Turns out a woman named Joanna went out for a swim and couldn’t stay above water pulled out by a riptide.  Jack tells Kate he didn’t try hard enough to save Joanna and while he’s talking to her he sees the man in the suit standing out in the water, waist deep.  Kate can’t see the man though.  So creepy.

Our Plot B storyline focuses on the dwindling water supply and the group’s need to find drinkable water.  We get some minor moments worth calling out:  Sun and Jin continue to be on the outs due to the language barrier; Claire and Kate gab a bit (I hope that’s not insensitive to say; I’ll use it for all genders just in case); Shannon tries to bargain with Sawyer for insect repellant (side note:  Sawyer’s reading Watership Down; books are a big part of the show and appear from time to time with the plot of the book having some kind of influence on the show).

Jack is inundated with people looking to him for leadership and he’s struggling to embrace that role.  Hurley and Charlie get the ball rolling by asking about the water supply.  Add in a brooding Boone telling Jack he could have swam back on his own and Jack should’ve gone after Joanna and Jack’s close to the edge.  The man in the suit appears again and Jack runs into the jungle to confront the creepy apparition.

Flashback:  We’re with young Jack again and he talks to his dad, Christian, who is a surgeon (a son following in his father’s footsteps) and tells Jack he doesn’t have the stuff to be a hero after Jack tells him what happened with the fight at school.  Dad of the Year award nominee right here.  Shift to adult Jack who is told his father’s gone by his mother and is asked to locate his father’s whereabouts.  They haven’t talked for two months due to a falling out, which Jack is alluded to being responsible for.  Where is his dad?  Australia.  Aha!  Jack gets to his dad’s hotel room in Sydney and finds out he hasn’t been there for three days.  There’s plenty of medication bottles and liquor bottles in the room along with his wallet.

Jack reaches the man in the suit who turns around, falls onto the ground, and says, “Dad?”  Uh wut?  How is that happening?  A very creepy-staring Christian says nothing turns around and walks deeper in the jungle and Jack gives chase.

Claire collapses and while Charlie runs to get water, he realizes the stash has been stolen.  After Kate and Sayid take over leadership duties, determined to find the stolen water, Locke offers to go find Jack saying he knows where to look. Sawyer becomes the prime suspect because he’s determined to be the most-hated person in the group.  Kate follows him to where he has his stash of looted goods hidden but discovers he wasn’t behind the water pinch.

Jack’s running like a crazy man in search of his ghost-like dad until he slips and nearly falls to his death off a cliff, grabbing a tree vine for dear life.  Lucky Locke shows up to save him just in time.  We get a great exchange between Locke and Jack here which I’ll try to recap though it’s better on screen.  Jack doesn’t want to be the leader, saying he doesn’t have the stuff to succeed.  Locke asks why Jack’s out in the jungle and finds out Jack is chasing after something to which Locke mentions the white rabbit from Alice in Wonderland (our second literary reference!).   Locke says the island is special and different and they all feel it but won’t talk about it.  He says he’s looked into the eye of the island (whatever that means) and he saw something beautiful.

Left to contemplate his predicament, Jack hears the sound of ice clinking in a glass, runs in the direction of the sound, and comes upon a cave where there’s running water and what appears to be items from the plane crash.  Surprising enough, there’s a coffin which happens to be belonging to his father, which he identified in Sydney.  Jack opens it and finds it empty which only extends the mystery of his seeing his father in the jungle.  We  know the island healed Locke’s spinal injury but did the island bring Christian back from the dead?  Difficult to say at this point.

The episode closes out with Claire getting water from Boone of all people and he’s caught by Charlie.  The group starts to turn on Boone, realizing he stole the water but not to be a jerk, instead seeing it as an opportunity to take charge seeing as how it was left out in the open.  Jack shows up before the mob can string up the noose (not really of course) to tell everyone Boone risked his life for Joanna that morning and now they’re ready to crucify him.  He tells them he found water and shelter.  He delivers his famous, “If we can’t live together, we’re gonna die alone,” speech and assumes his role as leader, somehow coming to the conclusion that he does have the stuff to lead.

A very solid episode and one I really like.  The mystery of the island expands and we get more character beats that help define who these people are.  The Jack and Locke interaction alone make the episode strong.

Next we look at Sun’s first centric episodes.  I originally thought I would cover two episodes in each of the following posts until we got to the end of the re-watch.  This isn’t likely to happen unless I want to extend my capacity and write three thousand word posts.  So, I’ve decided to do one episode a post until the end.  That means I’ll be writing about Lost until the end of November.  Hope you’re in it till the end with me!

Lost Season 1 Re-watch: Walkabout

posted in: Film/TV, Lost, Review | 0

Things start with another eye opening (one more time of this and we got ourselves a motif!).  This time it belongs to our backgammon-loving bald man, John Locke.  We’re back on the beach with him during the first minutes of the crash on the island.  Locke seems perplexed by the situation and pays special attention to his foot for some reason.  We’re pulled back into the present at night with some kind of ruckus taking place in the camp.  Turns out the island has a boar problem and now the survivors have to deal with it.

After four days of no sign of rescue, Jack leads the discussion of burning the fuselage along with the bodies of the dead inside.  He gets some push back from Sayid who believes it would be disrespectful to the dead to treat their remains in this way but Jack is not swayed knowing the boars will continue to be a problem along with the bodies getting nice and rotten inside.  Burning them and the fuselage seems to be wise both for health reasons and doing so at night makes for a very large fire that could be seen from the ocean.

Things are getting bad in the group as the food supply has run low save for peanuts which Hurley and Sawyer are arguing over.  We get a fun exchange and while Sawyer takes a seat in some plane seats, a rather large knife flies into the seat next to him.

Turns out, our good friend, Locke, has checked a case of more large knives and managed to recover them from the crash (that’s lucky and convenient!).  Locke reveals he’s got quite the bevy of knowledge about boars and how to hunt them which leads us to believe he’s quite the hunter/adventurer.

In what I’ll call “Plot B” of the episode, Sayid has a plan to set up antennas to triangulate the source of the French woman’s distress signal.  He believes there must be a significant power source in order for the signal to be playing for 16 years.  Kate agrees and wants to help him so she offers to go with Locke on the boar hunt.  Jack makes an observation that Kate doesn’t appear to like to stay in one place too long which makes sense from what we know of her life before the island.

Michael joins the hunt in order to get to know Locke better since Walt has taken to calling Locke his friend.  Michael asks Sun to watch Walt in a pretty comedic way of using hand gestures and talking slowly hoping she’ll understand.  The rest of the survivors are collecting what they can of the wreck in preparation to burn the fuselage.

Flashback:  Locke answers a phone and talks with another person as if they are involved in some kind of military operation.  He is interrupted by what appears to be a supervisor and we see Locke is actually sitting in an office cubicle that appears very common.  Locke and a co-worker are playing a Risk-like game during their lunch break and the supervisor from earlier, whose name is Randy, shows up and mocks Locke, asking what a “walkabout” is after taking a brochure from his desk.  We learn that Locke has scheduled to go on a walkabout in Australia and Randy questions his ability to do so.  Locke tells Randy, “Don’t tell me what I can’t do” which will become a motto for him in episodes to come.

Locke talks to a woman named Helen on the phone and he invites her to go with him to Australia but we learn quickly that Helen is part of some kind of call service and Locke pays $89.95 an hour (yeesh, that’s costly) to talk to her which apparently he’s been doing for several months.  She refuses his invitation and we’re left with a bereft Locke and a man who seems to have very unhealthy relationships (as far as we can tell).

Some very minor threads are taking place on the beach in which Claire asks Jack to speak some words while they burn the fuselage but he refuses, Sayid gets a letter and pictures of a woman he thought were lost in the crash, Shannon tries to prove she can fend for herself and manipulates Charlie to catch her a fish (we also get a great comedic scene of him recruiting Hurley to help him), and Boone asks Jack to go speak to Rose, the woman he saved on the beach, as she sits off in the distance staring out into the ocean.

Locke gives Kate and Michael a lesson in boar hunting.  We learn Michael wasn’t a part of Walt’s life until two weeks prior when his mother passed away (this explains the lack of relationship between the two).  They are surprised and attacked by a boar.  Michael gets wounded while Locke is on his back in shock before he looks at his foot again (okay…why?).  Kate tells Locke they need to stop and get Michael back to the camp but Locke continues, giving us his favorite line, “Don’t tell me what I can’t do.”

Kate and Michael stop so she can put the antenna up in a tree but drops it when the monster roars and notices the trees moving in the direction of Locke (I swear this thing is a dinosaur).  Just as Locke comes across the boars, the monster arrives and while we don’t see it (sneaky sneaky show.  Not cool), we do see Locke’s bewildered reaction to it (such a tease).

Obviously wanting to stay away from the fuselage and people’s requests, Jack spends time with Rose and while he thinks she can honor her husband who was on the flight but in the tail section that broke off midair, Rose denies her husband being dead.  Jack struggles with this but they agree to head back to the others as the sun sets.  In the distance, Jack sees a man in a suit off in the distance watching him.  Freaky…

Kate gets back with Michael but believes the monster got Locke.  The antenna is broken and Sayid is frustrated but willing to try again.  While talking to Kate, Jack sees the man in the suit again and runs into the jungle but he finds a blood-covered Locke instead who has bagged himself a hefty-sized boar (bacon in the morning!).

The fuselage is burning and the group honors the dead the best way they can (mostly saying names and sharing whatever info could be found in their luggage).  Michael asks Locke if he saw the monster and Locke says he saw nothing (such a liar!).

Flashback:  Locke is in Australia and being told he cannot take part in the walkabout.  He argues and is told he neglected to speak of his condition and cannot take part in the experience.  As the bus leaves, Locke turns around in a wheelchair.  WHAT?!  He screams about destiny and “Don’t tell me what I can’t do!”  Shift back to the plane crash on the beach and Locke is somehow healed of whatever injury confined him to a wheelchair.  Amazing!!!

Okay, I love this episode.  Please watch it if you haven’t.  My recap and review don’t do it justice.  We get a great introduction to an amazing character who has an interesting backstory and while his previous life has some questions that need answering, we also learn that the island has somehow healed Locke.

Next episode focuses on Jack and we get some info on the man in the suit.  Feel free to watch ahead and remember to leave comments about your favorite moments in the episode!  Thanks!

Lost Season 1 Re-watch: Tabula Rasa

posted in: Film/TV, Lost, Review | 0

Before I get started with the episode breakdown, I wanted to point something out.  This show has a lot of characters and a lot of plot lines.  Throw in the Flashback scenes which come and go, interwoven throughout the episode, and there are a lot of things to cover and call out.  I am going to play with how I format each episode depending on the focus character, which in this episode is Kate, and the other sub-storylines.  I want to avoid a play-by-play format (I know I did this for the pilot episodes but that was intentional to introduce characters) and make the post an easy read.  Onto the episode!

As I said, this episode is Kate-centric.  We know she’s a criminal of sorts being handcuffed on the plane and being escorted by a U.S. Marshall.  We get some answers but are left in the shadows a bit as well.  Jack is told she’s dangerous by the marshall who is in a bad way due to his injuries.  Told to go through the marshall’s pockets, Jack finds a mugshot print out and Jack’s got some obvious conflicting feelings towards Kate.  Hurley finds the mugshot because Jack is the worst hider ever and warns Hurley that it’s none of their business and not to be worried (oh those feelings are gonna bite you, Jack-o).

Kate’s still with the hiking party and as darkness falls, they decide to set up camp.  These scenes were good for character dynamics as we see Sayid try to make sense of where their island might be in the world.  He’s a smart guy and also knows that if they share what they discovered, they could erase the hope of the survivors which could be detrimental in the long run.  Sawyer on the other hand is more concerned with what the French woman’s distress transmission means.  He also aptly gives Kate a new nickname: Freckles (we’ll see that Sawyer has an affinity for nicknames and some are not so nice).

In the middle of the night while everyone’s asleep, Boone decides he’s going to take watch but makes a mistake by taking the gun off Sawyer and the bullets off Sayid.  Bad blood brews and Shannon suggests Kate should be the one to hold both gun and ammo (remember, none of them know what we know about her being a criminal).  Quick note:  We also learned Oceanic flight 815 was bound for Los Angeles, which isn’t that important but good to know.

Flashback:  This episode’s flashback reveals Kate was nowhere near Sydney (where flight 815 took off from) and sleeping in a sheep pen.  The farmer, Ray, gives her a job and a room to help him work the farm, which she does for an undisclosed amount of time.  Kate isn’t the type to stay in the same place for too long and tries to leave in the middle of the night before Farmer Ray offers to drive her to the nearest train station.  It’s a ruse though as our good friend the U.S. Marshall shows up during the drive.  Turns out Farmer Ray couldn’t pass up a $23,000 reward for turning Kate in.  Kate grabs the wheel of Farmer Ray’s truck and they wreck.  She could have got away from the scene but Kate saves Ray, gets caught, and we’re left wondering how bad she could be for doing such a selfless act.

When the hikers arrive at the beach, Sayid tells everyone they need electrical equipment to boost the signal of the transceiver.  He takes charge and begins to organize groups to collect water and ration food.  Kate feels the need to tell Jack the truth about the French woman’s transmission and he gives her a chance to come clean about her outlaw life but she doesn’t give in.

Still focused on saving the marshall, Jack goes into the fuselage to search for stronger antibiotics.  While in there, we get our first one on one interaction between him and Sawyer who was looting for what he thought valuable: cigarettes, alcohol, and other accouterments.  This exchange is valuable because we see something between both men and Kate.  There’s a dynamic there that offers up a noteworthy love triangle in the making.

Some of the minor threads of the episode focus on our other survivors.  Claire and Charlie seem to be forming a bond.  Jin shows affection towards Sun, which is surprising given his previous moments with her.  Michael and Walt continue to have their issues which Walt attributes to Michael’s inability to find his dog, Vincent.  Probably the most interesting thread though is Locke’s carving a whistle (that’s some ingenuity right there), calling Vincent to him, and then letting Michael get the credit for reuniting a dog and his boy.

The end of the episode intensifies as Kate confronts the marshall, he wakes up, and tries to strangle her.  Jack arrives just in time to stop the struggle and tells Kate he saw the mugshot.  Kate presses Jack asking him to put the marshall out of his misery but Jack refuses saying he is not a murderer and off-handedly insinuates to Kate that she is (a curious implication since he doesn’t know for sure what her crimes were).

Hurley warns Jack he saw Kate strapped with a gun and Jack rushes to the tent but finds Kate walking away.  However, a gunshot rings through the night, which is followed by Sawyer leaving the tent, making it clear he did what Jack wouldn’t.  Then come the sounds of the marshall coughing inside.  Sawyer failed Anatomy 101 because while aiming for the marshall’s heart, he missed and the poor man is suffering worse than before.  Jack, thankfully, ends the marshall’s suffering and man was that heavy drama.

The episode closes out with Jack telling Kate that their old lives don’t matter.  They all have a clean slate (tabula rasa) so to speak.  That’s a curious statement because if a rescue comes, you can be sure she wouldn’t be suddenly forgiven of her crimes.

All in all, I liked the episode.  We get some answers about Kate and we see relationships building.  No real mysteries were raised or solved.  A solid episode nonetheless.

Next time we get our first Locke episode “Walkabout” and it’s by far one of my favorite episodes of Lost all time.

Lost Season 1 Re-watch: Pilot Part 1 and 2

posted in: Film/TV, Lost, Review | 2

Eye opening!  We see a man in a suit waking up in a jungle, surprised by a labrador (golden retriever?) who eventually runs off.  Obviously confused and likely injured, the man in the suit moves his way out of the surrounding jungle—the camera stays ominously on a single shoe hanging in a tree.  Creepy.

Once out of the jungle, the man in the suit finds himself near a beach.  Screams and the sound of an engine draw him to a scene of chaos where part of the fuselage of a plane has crashed on the beach.  Our unnamed hero goes into action helping those he can including a pregnant woman and another woman who’s not breathing.  After quite a bit of action and an explosion we learn the man in the suit’s name is Jack.  (Side note: while we learn the names of characters throughout the episode, I’ll be naming them as we get to their scenes and interactions.)

Jack searches for needle and thread and heads off away from the other survivors as things calm down a bit.  Pulling a little bottle of alcohol from his jacket, we see Jack’s got himself a nasty cut along his ribs.  A woman—Kate—stumbles out of the jungle and he asks her for help.  They banter a bit and she helps sew Jack up.  Dare I say a romance could eventually bud between the pair?  We also learn Jack’s a doctor but this seems obvious after he talked to the pregnant lady and saved the woman not breathing.

Kate mentions to Jack that he doesn’t seem afraid and Jack tells her about how he messed up a spinal surgery during his residency and fear crashed into him as he realized his mistake but he decided in that moment to give fear only a few moments before counting to five and fixing the surgery mistake.  How can you not like Jack after this?!  We got ourselves a natural leader.

We are introduced to more characters next as Sayid is building a signal fire and asks Charlie for help.  Charlie writes F-A-T-E on pieces of tape around each of his fingers and Sayid mentions a rescue should have come by then as night falls.  We are also introduced to Boone and Shannon where the former thinks they could be on the island for a while and the latter mentions the plane having a black box and a rescue will arrive at any moment.  Next comes the lovable Hurley who gives food to Claire, who is the pregnant woman.  Finally, we meet Michael and his son Walt, followed by Korean husband and wife, Jin and Sun, with Jin instructing Sun not to interact with the other survivors.

Jack is examining a wounded man whose unconscious and has a gnarly piece of shrapnel in his gut.  Kate mentions that he was sitting next to her in the plane.  Jack talks about the turbulence and blacking out before waking up in the jungle but Kate describes how the plane broke apart in midair.  Jack tells Kate that he’s thinking about going to find the cockpit to find a transceiver.  Kate says she saw smoke deeper into the jungle and a mission is afoot!

As the survivors wait in the dark, a loud, alarming sound comes from within the jungle and yeah, it’s a freaky sound.  Trees are moving and automatically it’s hard not to think of the T-Rex from Jurassic Park.  What’s stranger about the growls though is that it sounds mechanical at times.  (Side note:  There were commercials for the show seeing as it ran on ABC so it definitely takes advantage of stops and starts.)

We get our first flashback (coming out of the commercial break) and it takes place on the plane before the turbulence hits.  Remember, flashbacks are a big part of this show.  Jack is interacting with a flight attendant getting his buzz on with those little bottles of alcohol (he got an extra one from the flight attendant which might have saved his life as he put that one in his jacket pocket and later used it to clean his rib wound).  He gets up from his seat and Charlie moves past him rather quickly while being pursued by the flight attendants.  Jack talks to the woman, Rose, he saved who wasn’t breathing.  Next, the plane goes all shaky shaky.  People fly out of their seats and this flight is going down.

Back on the island the next morning, the survivors are discussing the scary jungle sounds and whatever the “monster” is that was making them.  Jack and Kate are getting ready to leave to find the cockpit but first Kate has to collect shoes from the dead.  She gets a very creepy smile from another survivor who smiles with an orange peel in his mouth (more on him later).

Michael is sitting around with his son Walt joined by Charlie, Shannon, Boone, and Hurley.  The group is talking about random things before Hurley brings up doing something about the bodies of the dead which he hilariously misspells to save young Walt from the horror of the dead.  Jack and Kate show up and mention their mission and ask the others to keep an eye on the wounded while he’s gone.  Charlie mentions his going with Jack and Kate, not wanting to sit about all day (what else is there to do on a beach waiting for rescue?).

Our three heroes head off and Kate recognizes Charlie from somewhere where he reveals his being in a band called Driveshaft, which has a well-known hit.  Jack’s less impressed (he doesn’t strike me as the rock music listening type).

Back on the beach with the others, a downpour occurs and the trees start moving again, announcing the monster is back.

Jack, Kate, and Charlie find the cockpit propped up against the trees during the downpour.  They investigate and find the pilot alive who tells them they were off course and any rescue attempt is looking in the wrong place.  The pilot tries the transceiver but it doesn’t work.  We also learn there were 48 survivors and they’ve been on the island for 16 hours.  Just to call out a point of interest, numbers are a big deal in this show.  They show up often and act as references and connections, which we’ll see more of as we get deeper into the show.  I’ll do my best to call these out when they happen.

The monster arrives, making its strange sounds and in a very gruesome way, the pilot is killed, ripped from the broken windshield as he (stupidly) climbs out to see what the monster is.  Jack, Kate, and Charlie make a run for it (Jack wisely grabs the transceiver) and get separated (a recipe for certain death in any horror movie).  Kate hides in a tree and counts to five before trying to find Jack and Charlie.  She finds Charlie and they see something in a reflection of a puddle after the rains stops.  Jack arrives and says its the pilot and they see the pilot’s bloody body has been left up high in the trees (not Predator style but pretty close).  Gross.  But at least they have a transceiver!

Except it doesn’t work…

End of Part 1.  Onto Part 2!

Jack, Kate, and Charlie are returning to survivor beach, seeming to be in no real rush which is odd considering what they just encountered with the monster killing the pilot.  To each their own, I suppose.  Kate asks what Charlie was doing in the bathroom (I failed to mention this happening previously) while they were in the cockpit and he says he got sick and was a bit of a coward.

Flashback:  In the plane before the crash, Charlie is acting very antsy and not looking all that great, sweating and fidgeting.  He sets off some alarms in the flight attendants and he proceeds to the bathroom where he moves past Jack (remember when we saw that last episode?) and crawls over Shannon and Boone in their seats as well.  Once in the bathroom, Charlie removes his shoe and grabs a baggy of something.  Drugs (good job TSA!).  He gets his fix just as the turbulence strikes.

To the present, Shannon is sunbathing (because why not) and her and Boone argue about helping around the “camp”.  Claire is there and we find out Boone is Shannon’s brother.  Claire mentions she hasn’t felt the baby move since the day before (bummer…).

Jin is fishing for sea urchin (is it still considered fishing if he’s just collecting them from shallow pools?) while Sun watches.  Michael shows up asking if they’ve seen Walt.  Sun speaks in Korean and Jin says something to her and she buttons up the top button of her shirt.  This marriage dynamic is raising a few flags.  Walt is out looking for his dog, Vincent, and finds handcuffs (uh oh! that’s not good!).  Michael finds Walt soon after and we get a good look at their relationship and there’s some contention there between them (the show does a good job of introducing these character relations and providing answers slowly rather than all at once).

Sayid and another survivor—Sawyer—are fighting (fisticuffs in action).  Bad blood  between them is due to Sayid  being blamed for the plane crash by Sawyer because he is of Middle Eastern descent (reminder, the show started shortly after 9/11).  Jack and Kate get in the mix and Michael tells them about the handcuffs and Sawyer accusing Sayid of being the one handcuffed. Jack and Kate tell everyone they found the cockpit and the transceiver omitting the part about the pilot being alive and then killed by the monster.  They ask if anyone can fix the transceiver.  Sayid says he can and Sawyer is quick to question trusting him.  Hurley talks to Sayid away from the group and we learn Sayid was a communications officer with the Iraqi Republican Guard during the Gulf War.

Kate and Sayid talk next and he shares that the transceiver needs to be used on higher ground.  Queue the adventure music as they look to the mountains of the island, knowing a hike is in order.

Kate checks with Jack about the man with shrapnel.  Jack knows time is running out for the man if they don’t get rescued.  She tells Jack that a hiking expedition is going to take place and Jack tells her to run if she hears or sees anything (probably referencing the monster).

We get a brief moment between Jin and Sun and see Jin’s quite the jerk to her.  There’s still a sense of mystery involving them, which we will get answers to soon.  Jin takes prepared sea urchin to Hurley as food.  Hurley refuses leaving us with a comedic moment (Hurley provides a great deal of comedic moments in this show).

Walt is looking through a comic book (looks like a Justice League comic with a polar bear in it) but can’t read it because it’s written in Spanish.  Michael approaches and tries to have a conversation and tells Walt that they can get another dog when they get home and Walt takes off (it’s sore subject).  Jack is searching through some baggage and asks Michael about Walt and we find out that Michael isn’t so sure of Walt’s age at first (interesting…).  Michael mentions the dog and Jack says he saw it in the jungle.

Shannon and Boone get into a fight and Shannon decides she’s going to go on the hike with Sayid and Kate to prove she’s not worthless to the group.  Boone tags along and so do Charlie and Sawyer who we see is reading what looks like a letter of some sorts before joining (more on that later).  Cue the adventure music!

Walt comes across the survivor who smiled at Kate with the orange peal in his mouth (remember him) playing backgammon (somehow that survived the crash).  The man’s name is John Locke and they have a conversation where we learn Walt’s mom died (we also learn that the plane was traveling from Sydney, Australia).  Locke tells Walt about backgammon and how it’s the oldest game in the world.  Locke explains that there are two players and two sides—one light and the dark.  Finally, Locke asks Walt if he wants to know a secret.  This exchange comes off creepy at first but trust me there are no ill intentions here.

In a small moment, Jin continues his offer of urchin to the other survivors and Claire agrees to eat some.  This causes the baby to kick!  Yay!  Jin has a priceless reaction too.

Jack asks Hurley to help him find antibiotics and also lends Jack his help with the man with shrapnel.  We get some more comedic moments with Hurley when Jack pulls the shrapnel out and Hurley passes out.

Back with the hikers, an argument ensues in the jungle and the group is interrupted by a very loud growl.  Is it the monster?  Doesn’t sound the same but something is coming closer to them and at a fast speed.  Everyone runs except Sawyer.  Gunshots sound off and everyone discovers that Sawyer killed a polar bear.  Yep, a polar bear in the jungle.  The shock of the dead bear wears off as Kate asks Sawyer where he got a gun.  Sawyer reveals he took it off a U.S. Marshall.

Sayid thinks Sawyer is the prisoner on the plane and while he’s distracted, Kate takes the gun.  She asks how to unload it and Sayid instructs her.  Kate gives the gun back to Sawyer and he grabs her saying he knows her type—girls just like her.

Flashback:  Kate and the passenger—shrapnel man—sitting next to her are talking but not as friends or even acquaintances (she made it sound like they were strangers to Jack).  Big reveal!  We learn that Kate was handcuffed and shrapnel man is the U.S. Marshall.  Turbulence starts and we see the plane break apart in midair.

The marshall comes to while Jack is working on him, grabs Jack by the collar, and asks “Where is she?”

The hikers finally turn on the transceiver and get a transmission that blocks them from sending anything out.  It’s a recorded message with a strange robotic voice saying “iteration” and then a number followed by a French woman speaking.  Shannon knows some French and translates the message as a distress call saying everyone’s dead, something killed them, and the French woman needs help.  Sayid does the math and estimates the recorded message has been on a loop for 16 years.

Charlie aptly asks, “Guys, where are we?”

End of episode!

Okay, so if you watched the episodes or are familiar with them, there are very memorable moments, which I try to call out in the pics I use.  I’ll be doing this quite a bit because these are also things that become symbols and/or motifs in the show.  Very important as we explore the mysteries of the island.

The mysteries are big.  What’s the monster on the island?  What happened to the French woman?  How has her message been playing for sixteen years?  Then we have the mysteries with the characters.  What’s Kate’s story?  What’s the story behind the contentious relationships between Michael and Walt and Jin and Sun?  Mysteries are important to the show’s appeal and the characters themselves.

Let me know your thoughts and please remember to keep these posts SPOILER FREE.  I’ll remove your post quickly if you let anything slip.  Focus your comments on the episode itself.

Forever Rewatchable: Dumb and Dumber

posted in: Film/TV, Sunday Levity | 0

Want to hear the most annoying sound in the world?How could I not include this 1994 comedy gem in my “Forever Rewatchable” movies?  As with any of the movies I like to focus on in these posts, quotability seems to be a must.  Dumb and Dumber, directed by the Farrelly Brothers, almost dares you not to quote the film while viewing.  Side note: This acts as a Sunday Levity post as well.


I’m pretty sure I saw Dumb and Dumber in the mid-90s at my aunt and uncle’s.  It was not a movie my parents would have condoned so it’s very likely I saw it while hanging out with my cousin or other friends.  At that time, it had what I needed to be entertained, introducing me to more adult humor than I was accustomed with.  There was enough silliness that a teenager could be entertained but the older I get, the more I appreciate the comedy overall in the film.

As with Tommy Boy, this is a road trip adventure and serves up an awesome blend of wit and physical comedy.  Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels embody the dim duo, Lloyd Christmas and Harry Dunne.  Down and out of luck having lost their jobs on the same day (how convenient), they set out to return a lost briefcase to Lloyd’s last client, Mary…eh, starts with an “S”. Swim? Swammi? Slippy? Slappy? Swenson? Swanson? (checks the briefcase) Samsonite! I was way off.  Anyway, as he drove her to the airport he sees that she left a briefcase in the terminal.  Lloyd retrieves it but unbeknownst to him and Harry, they actually have in their possession ransom money for Mary’s husband.

The plot is simple and filled with hilarious situations.  Jim Carrey steals the movie throughout but that doesn’t mean Jeff Daniels fails to keep up.  Known more for his dramatic roles, Daniels has a sweetness and charm that plays perfectly against Carrey’s selfish stupidity (think about it; he’s pretty much all about himself).  Throw in a great 90s soundtrack of songs you’ve never heard of and memorable supporting characters and Dumb and Dumber doesn’t disappoint.The legacy of Dumb and Dumber can be found in any number of clips and memes.  Enjoy!

Give the Reader 2+2. Not 4

posted in: Storytelling, Writing | 0


I’ve brought up my love for the Coen Brothers and their films a few times on my blog and came across a video on YouTube that made me think a little about storytelling.

The concept of giving the reader/viewer 2+2 and not 4 comes from WALL-E and Finding Dory director, Andrew Stanton.  In a TED Talk, he explains the importance of trusting the audience to be intelligent enough to put things together in order to discover the answer on their own rather than spoon-feeding it to them.  This falls in line with the “show don’t tell” method writers are often encouraged to use.

I constantly come up against this when writing any story.  Sometimes, though, I wonder if I don’t give enough.  What if I’m working this equation: 2+6-4 but leave out one of the components?  Beta Readers obviously help in this because they are pretty good at calling out a missing component but there’s still this lingering question.  My hope is always to give any reader the benefit of the doubt that they will see the answer without me having to spell it out.

There’s also this urge to answer a reader’s question about the plot or a character by providing a clue.  This can definitely be a trap for a writer.  Best to practice and figure out what works best.  I try to take every comment as a grain of salt.

The moral of the post is to give the reader/audience credit for being keen enough to take the components and come to their own conclusions.  Enjoy the video!

Hot Like Wasabe When I Bust Rhymes

posted in: Life, Music | 0

It’s brutally difficult when staying away from the glutens to pass up a free donut…  Don’t judge me.  I did not snag one of those deep-fried goodies but I sure wanted to.  And even harder to pass on beer and whiskey throughout the holiday weekend.  Alas, I have abstained.

The newsletter is out!  My apologies for the short delay and unconventional delivery method.  I’m having issues with Mail Chimp and still trying to figure out how I want to proceed in the future.  I hope those of you who have signed up enjoyed it.  While I enjoy writing and creating them for you, I do let out a breath of relief once they’re out.  Now I can focus on the Lost Season 1 re-watch (have I mentioned I’m doing that?  Maybe once or twice).

Speaking of re-watching, my wife and I have been going through Brooklyn Nine-Nine and man has that show grown over the years.  We thought it was okay back when it first premiered and even stepped away from it for awhile before coming back around to it.  It has gotten stronger and while we were bummed it was cancelled by Fox, NBC picked it up and we can’t wait to keep getting Die Hard references and the many other running jokes in the show.

What else is happening…  Hmm, well, I’ve been listening to a lot of music and podcasts recently.  While I wouldn’t recommend the all the music because it’s the screaming type (yes, I do enjoy me some screamo/post hardcore from time to time), I can throw out some options.  Here, I’ll recommend a band that doesn’t scream and a band that does:

1) Hands Like Houses is the non-screaming band and they’re amazing.  I can’t get enough of their music.  They stem from the land down under (Australia for you geographically unsure types) and just lay down great melodies and lyrics I can get behind (and some I don’t).

2) Dance Gavin Dance is the screaming band and I think I should preface by saying I might just be a fan of Jonny Craig who lays down the clean vocals for the band’s first few albums.  He also does the clean vocals for the bands Emarosa, Isles and Glaciers, and Slaves—all of whom I have in my Spotify playlist: The Hardest Core.  So, yeah, I kind of like his voice.

As for podcasts, I have to recommend Punch Up the Jam for music and comedy fans.  The hosts, Demi and Miel, take a song they like or hate and with a guest discuss the music and lyrics of the song.  At the end, they decide to share a “punch up” of the song which is usually a parody in some way or fashion.  Very fun listen and while not for kids, you will find yourself laughing a lot.  (If you get the reference to this blog post title, check out that episode.)

Hope you all are enjoying the holiday weekend.  Enjoy whatever time you spend with friends and family.  Talk to you soon!

Flash Fiction: Blistered Feet on Shattered Steps


A man begging for his life when he truly knows it can be taken from him will say anything.  Truth or lie, his mind will find the way to safety and empty into his mouth until the words flow like sour milk.  Oran Ki’Tanil listened with a cringe as he watched the balding man weep and drool for mercy from the three men standing around him in the empty courtyard.  It was heartless on his part to set the men loose but Oran needed information.  Whatever the cost, he needed it.The men barely noticed him slip out of the shadow he hid in and one was down on the filthy ground unconscious before the other two knew what had happened.  With two of the thicker sticks he kept in the bundle to hide his swords, he struck and whacked the standing men until they were bloodied and down.

The balding man stared wide-eyed unsure what to say or think.  Fear had crippled him, turning his legs to mush.  As he blubbered, Oran returned his fighting sticks into his bundle and grabbed the man, dragging him away from the scene.

“Shut your teeth, Erol.”

“Eh…”  The man stopped his whimpering.  “Ki’Tanil?”  His efforts to be free of Oran’s grip doubled.  “No, no ,no!  Let me go!  Hallowed burn you!”

“He has,” Oran grumbled.  No need to request a second strike.

Finally a few blocks away, Oran threw Erol into a brick wall.  “I saved your life and now you’re going to repay me.”

Erol shook his head, pulling his lips in and keeping them pressed together.  The smell of cheap wine and even cheaper smoke made the unkempt man a step above a beggar.

“You will, Erol, or I’ll deliver you back to those three.  How much did you owe them?”

When Erol would not answer, Oran brought his knee up into the man’s groin.  It would delay the discussion but the fool needed to be aware what Oran was capable and willing to do.

“Speak, you tick!”

“Of what?” Erol said through a weeze as he lay hunched into the wall.

“Queen Erise.  Or whatever else you know about the attack.”

Erol sputtered and spit.  “I’ll never have children now.”

“You’ve got six or did you forget?  Now tell me what rumors I should ignore.”

Erol sniffed and groaned.  “All of them…”  He let out another groan.  “No one knows where she is.  They think her Wielder…that Glasene woman is with her.  If she’s anywhere, she’s probably disguised and attached herself to the collective of nobles meeting outside the city to determine who will challenge the King’s Court.”

Oran doubted the fool’s scenario.  Not even Glasene would chance exposing the queen to throne-thirsty nobles.  He did not doubt the meeting though.  The vipers and rats of Breshtk’s lords and ladies would absolutely move to strike a treaty with the King’s Court.  It was not what he wanted from Erol but it was a path to take.

“Drink and smoke less, Erol,” Oran said, readjusting his bundle, finding steps leading out of the area, and leaving the fool in the dark.

Newsletters and Go-Getters

posted in: Newsletter, Writing | 0

Lots going on right now as I finish up the August Newsletter and prepare for the Lost Season 1 re-watch.  Staying busy without straying too far over the edge to being too busy is a fun tightrope to walk (says no one ever).

I’m seriously contemplating shifting my blog schedule to every fifth day of the month once the Lost re-watch is over.  We will be getting close to the holiday season by then and I think I need to explore “less is more” when it comes to my blog.

Also, I just think I can better focus and put out better content if I give myself more time to plan.  There are some long-form posts I would love to do but never feel I have the time to work on.  Remember, I’m a new dad and have a full-time job on my plate.  If anything is going to get cut, it has to be writing related.  It’s a good way for me to write and practice, to exercise the creativity muscles, but I can’t very well cut my hours at work or neglect time with my son or wife.

If I do decide to do this I will make a formal announcement and share what the monthly schedule will look like.  I appreciate the continued support and enjoy interacting with those who leave comments.  It continues to be fun and beneficial to me and I don’t want to abandon it entirely.

I think I originally said at one point the newsletter will be sent out on the 30th but I think I forgot August has 31 days.  So I’m going to give myself another day and say those of who who have subscribed (to so if you haven’t) should be seeing it in your mailbox Friday afternoon.

Little side note, I’ve been watching the show, Castle Rock, on Hulu and have found it quite good.  It’s inspired by several Stephen King stories but not an adaptation of anything in particular.  The setting and some characters are references to some of King’s works.  It reminds me a bit of Stranger Things in some ways but completely its own in others.  It’s more creepy than scary and has a compelling story with great characters.  Check it out if interested.

I will be releasing the new Shoals to the Hallowed flash fiction piece on Thursday, the 30th, so look for that!  Have a great week!

When a Fantasy Writer Plays Dungeons and Dragons for the First Time

posted in: Fantasy, World Building | 1

I mentioned my not being allowed to play the table-top role-playing game, Dungeons and Dragons, back in my Harry Potter post.  Well, what I have not shared is that I recently agreed to play a campaign with some friends mostly because I just wanted to hang out with them (and partly because I wanted to try it out).  Let me just say it’s been interesting…

First, I don’t think DnD is at all what I was told it was back in the early 90s.  Honestly, I love me some Final Fantasy (video game series for those not familiar) and I don’t see the difference.  Same role-playing principle is involved.  DnD is more social than Final Fantasy.  I didn’t have any friends who played DnD when I was younger, so I don’t think it needed to be hammered into me so hard that it was the devil (I just think of Adam Sandler’s “Waterboy” whenever something is said to be the “devil” nowadays and now so will you!).

I like the whole create your character aspect and going on a quest or campaign.  That’s fun.  The creativity involved in the game is fun and I think a great outlet to work as a group and explore whatever world the Dungeon Master (that’s the person in charge of the campaign) has come up with.  Good times.  Throw in laughter and drinks and it’s just another game night.

Here’s where I struggle with DnD and I blame it solely on my being a writer: it’s a bit limiting and constraining.  For example, say during the campaign an opportunity comes where you’ve got quite a few enemies you need to get rid of.  Well, what if I come up with a plan to “remove” said enemies but my plan requires something of an explosive nature.  Can I just go and buy some materials?  Nope.  Not a chance.  Apparently, I have to roll a certain number-sided dice (don’t get me started on the dice) just to see if I have the ability to be comprehensive about said explosives.  Huh?  This is where I struggle with the game.  Why can’t I just have that knowledge in the first place?

The idea that my character is limited in knowledge of something bugs me.  Now I admit, I can see why this is because the game is all about stats and building up your characters but come on.  It’s not enough for me to never play again.  The more times I played, though, I did find myself more entertained with the campaign itself.

All in all, I understand the draw to DnD.  Getting together with friends to play a long-form game that involves rolling dice to determine actions and progress can be quite fun.  I think best of all is the social aspect of the game.  If there’s one thing I will gladly partake and promote, it’s community.

Lost Season 1 Re-watch Schedule

posted in: Film/TV, Review | 1


As I prep to re-watch season 1 of Lost, I want to give a layout of what it will look like.  The first post will cover the two-part pilot and be released on September 12th.  The next three post will cover a single episode allowing us to focus on learning who some of these main characters are and their “back stories”.  From there on each post will cover two episodes until we get to the two-part season finale, which will be separated.  The last post for the re-watch will be on October 27th.

The structure of each post will look much like my Stranger Things Season 1 Re-watch posts last year.  I’ll talk about the characters and plot and call out interesting choices and mysteries about the island.  Don’t get thrown off by the lack of answers to these mysteries.  It’s season 1 and some answers don’t come until later seasons.  (If I succeed, you’ll be chomping at the bit and watching season 2 and onward on your own.)

I’ll also be calling out many references, easter eggs, and connections.  These are the fun things about the show.  If you watched it while it was still airing, there were whole websites devoted to solving the show.

I will do my absolute best not to spoil anything.  I feel that I’m familiar enough with the show to abstain from spilling the secrets of the show.  This means I’ll leave quite a few things vague and also probably play devil’s advocate in a few instances just to be punk.

How you all enjoy the re-watch and my musings.  Lost remains a favorite of mine despite my love for other shows since.  It truly was a phenomenon when it released in 2004.

Life’s Little Signs

posted in: Life | 0

Life catches up to you when in transition and that seems to have happened to me in subtle fashion.  Sometimes it’s kind and sometimes its a kick in the teeth.

I’ve never really experienced stress or anxiety to the point where I saw its effects on my body.  I did worry when I was younger, often imagining the worst possible situations, actually convincing myself that if I thought of these things then they wouldn’t happen.  It’s the kind of thinking a kid employs because it makes sense especially when those worst circumstances did in fact not happen.

As I got older, I definitely encountered difficulties in school or at my job or with relationships but I never really saw a manifestation of stress (or at least I didn’t think I did).  Looking back, I think the signs were there but I didn’t recognize them for what they were.  It’s been four months now since our baby was born (yep, a whole four months!) and I’m beginning to notice things that I don’t like.  My temper is shortened for one which I definitely don’t like because I seem to bark at my wonderful wife when she doesn’t deserve it.  A thousand apologies have been handed out due to this.  In addition to this though is a lack of sleep which I’ve discussed a few times and I think this is where I’ve suffered the most.

I talked a few weeks back about my sleeping habits when I was younger and I think it has caught up to me.  I’m trying to adjust my schedule now to get more sleep, hoping that helps with the stress.  This and a change in my diet (so long bread and booze!) for at least a month to see if the changes help.  It’s an experiment and will be tough but it needs to be done.

These changes have to come at my own instigation.  I have to be the one to say something’s not right here and need to set in motion a change.  My wife’s knowledge of healthy living (she’s certified so I listen to her) is invaluable.  She cares so much about taking care of yourself now so that when you get older, things will be easier (or at least that’s the hope).  It’s hard.  Anyone who has ever tried to make lifestyle changes knows it’s not an easy transition but I would argue necessary for real change to take place.

So I have changed my sleeping habits along with my eating habits, hoping my body finds healing.  I hate to think I could spiral into something worse if I don’t take control of these things I actually do have control over.  While I must say goodbye to beer for a month, I trust in the process.  It’s a short time of going without to assure a longer time of stability.

(This PSA brought to you by stubbornness deflated in a mid-thirty year old.)

On the business side of things, if you’d like to receive my latest newsletter with books reviews and a new Shoals to the Hallowed short story, please sign up on the website!

Finding Harry Potter Late in Life

posted in: Books, Fantasy, Film/TV, Reading | 0

We discover things at various ages in life.  Where I discovered Star Wars at a very young age, someone else of my same age may have discovered it in their twenties or, God forbid, their thirties (what a tragedy!).  However it happens, we experience things differently.  For me, I discovered Harry Potter later in life (my mid-twenties) and even then, my child-like wonder was opened to the magical world as if I were a kid again.

You may ask how this happened.  Let me tell you!  Being a 90s kid, you’d think I would have been exposed to Harry Potter as soon as it was released.  Well, not so.  I was absolutely aware of it but due to my upbringing in a religious home, Harry Potter was viewed equally as Dungeons and Dragons and Magic: The Gathering (I’ll toss in Pokémon too though I’m failing to see why at this moment).  These were all viewed as bad things for my young mind to consume.

Now before you think I had horrible parents, I’m going to come to their defense.  If you grew up in the late 80s through the 90s and were part of any evangelical Christian church, then there was a constant stigma on anything that had to do with magic or witchcraft.  Churches believed these things could lead children and teenagers down paths deemed hazardous for their lives.  My parents agreed with this, believing that certain morals and/or standards could be threatened.  It was the culture of that time and I don’t blame them one bit for exercising that parental check.  Having a son now, you can bet I will be very in tune with what he watches, reads, and listens to.  (Note:  I wasn’t keen enough to argue that Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia were okay.)


Jump back to my mid-twenties and I can’t recall what led me to finally watch the first Harry Potter film but I did and while it was obviously geared towards a younger audience, I was intrigued.  This led me to watch the next films one after another pretty quickly (yeah, I binged them hard).  All of a sudden, I found myself completely mesmerized by this world.  The last film, The Deathly Hallows: Part 2 had not been released yet but I was determined to get more.  This led to my reading the books pretty quickly as well, using any free time I had outside of work and other obligations to finish Harry’s story.

What also helped provoke this wanting to consume this world is my own writing of fantasy.  As an author, I was able to learn from J.K. Rowling’s ability to craft a complex story.  She was able to weave a tapestry of plot and subplots that interconnected in ways the films could not fully weave.  I actually consider my reading of Harry Potter the main contributor to the way I outline and plot my books.  I look for the layers.  Books do not have to be a simple, single layer cake but more like baklava: layers of flavor, texture, and ingredients.

In my mind, the books and films stand up well on their own.  I find that enjoy both for some of the same but also different reasons.  More than a few times now I’ve considered returning to the books.  There is a true magic to how stories can impact our lives.  I actually think Harry Potter is responsible for making many kids in the 90s readers (I see and interact with many of these on social media).  There’s a good reason the books have sold in the millions in worldwide.


While I came to Harry Potter later in life, I find it a great joy of fiction and story to immerse myself into.  My wife and I try to do a full marathon every other year (though I’d be okay with every year) and we look forward to sharing these books with our kids when we deem them old enough to handle the subject matter.

Sunday Levity: Fun Times

posted in: Sunday Levity | 0

Not a lot going on besides trying to make some life adjustments so I needed to laugh. Hope these add some levity to your day.  I definitely have done my fair share of talking to myself.

I really want to use this in a story and see if it throws any beta readers off.

So it’s not just me!

I’m trying to think of any times I’ve run into this… I’m sure I have.

By the way, make sure to sign up for my newsletter if you haven’t already.  It will be released August 31st.  Have a great week!

Forever Re-watchable: Tommy Boy

posted in: Film/TV, Review | 2

I can’t say for certain the first time I watched “Tommy Boy” but I can tell you I’ve seen it more than a couple dozen times.  For a guy who grew up in the 80s and 90s, there was no better comedy combo than Chris Farley and David Spade.  They may only ever be on the back end of comedy duo lists but for me they are number one.

“Tommy Boy” was released in 1995 serving as the latest installment of Saturday Night Live’s grab bag of films.  SNL creator and this film’s producer, Lorne Michaels, was counting on the up and coming popularity of SNL’s young cast members to strike gold at the box office.  Alas, by industry standards, “Tommy Boy” was barely successful in the theaters.  What time tends to do for some films though is gather a following that reaches cult status.

I was not prone to watching SNL as a kid.  I am pretty sure I was barely aware of it up until my later teens.  However, I came across “Tommy Boy” and instantly took to it.  I’m sure I first watched it at a friend’s house (it was not necessarily a movie my parents would have allowed) and its impact hit me like a fat guy in a little coat.


Chris Farley was brilliant as the lovable son, Tommy Callahan, of an auto parts industry tycoon.  Taking eight years to finish college, he returns home to celebrate his new position as vice president in the family company and his dad’s remarrying after years of being alone.  David Spade is the equally brilliant sarcastic assistant to Tommy’s dad who finds himself connected to Tommy’s hip.  Hilarity ensues when the pair have to go on a sales trip to keep the company going after Tommy’s dad dies unexpectedly.  Road trip movies are their own subgenre (see Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, Dumb and Dumber, and more) but Tommy Boy carries a charm and impression that makes it easy to come back to.

This film is forever re-watchable for me simply because of its memorable moments and one-liners.  Here’s a fun fact: my wife upon watching for the first time realized quickly that much of my sarcasm simply mimicked the biting power of David Spade’s own in this movie.  That’s right.  While I can’t help but walk through the door when a moment for sarcasm opens, most of my arsenal is accredited to my hero, David Spade.  She became less impressed with me but then she started quoting the film as much as I do and that’s as they say is that.


When it comes to comedies, “Tommy Boy”, is in my top five easily.  It has heart and laughs up the wazoo.  Turn it on and I’ll quote it throughout still laughing all these years later, forever thankful that the late Chris Farley was immortalized in this comedy classic.

Remembering Robin

posted in: Film/TV, Life | 0

My wife and I recently watched a new documentary on the life and career of the late Robin Williams.  From his humble beginnings to his elite stardom, interviews with family and friends revealed more than just the comedian.  It was sobering to watch despite our laughter up until the very end.

As a kid, I knew Robin as Mrs. Doubtfire, Peter Pan, and the genie in Disney’s “Aladdin”.  He made me laugh with his ability to do impressions, able to do voices I recognized (and some I didn’t).  He was easy to recognize whenever I saw his picture on a movie poster or VHS (oh yeah, dating myself) cover.  All too often, though, I didn’t realize he was not limited to comedy.  Later in my life, he was also Mr. Keating, Adrian Cronauer, and Sean Maguire.  These men were teachers of life still capable of making me laugh but provoking me to consider living and all its nuances.  These are the roles he embodied that I gravitate more to as an adult, finding the gold that I don’t think I would have been able to understand or appreciate as a kid.
While his talents far-exceeded his ability to improvise on the stage or on the set, Robin Williams had a range as an actor that is beyond applause.  To make his audience laugh until they cry and then to make them cry until they laugh is a rare gift.  One of my favorite stories I heard about him came from director, Steven Spielberg, who said he would call Robin in the evenings while he made his film, “Schindler’s List”.  He would feel the heaviness of this film and its tragic story and call Robin requesting to laugh.  Robin would oblige and one can only imagine the healing factor administered in those private calls.

My appreciation for Robin Williams as a person is fully realized now after his unfortunate passing.  I watch him on the screen and even if it’s one of his lesser known roles, I’ll watch in awe.  The documentary I mentioned before revealed a man tormented but still able to put the joy of others before himself.  He connected through laughter and thankfully, we’ve been given decades of conversations with him.  And I cannot wait to introduce his amazing abilities to my son (we’ll start with “Aladdin” and go on from there).

You Are Getting Sleepy

posted in: Life | 2

Sleep training has commenced!  What a week and a half of staring at a baby monitor and holding our breath any time the baby shifts after we’re convinced he fell asleep.  It’s a whole new animal to tackle for us first time parents.  I would say it has started off strong and we’re not going backwards but there are adjustments we seem to be making.  Is putting him to bed earlier than later better?  Is there any guarantee to him staying asleep for more than 4-5 hours?  There’s no clear answer but we’re doing our best.

We’re also getting treated to more baby sounds and we could listen to them all day.  All day!

How could you not when it’s so dang cute?  I’m beginning to look ahead and wonder what it will be like once our little guy is running around, speaking without a filter.  For one, I’m going to laugh anytime he asks a silly question or says something funny.  I just won’t be able to help myself.  He already seems inquisitive so I don’t know why that would stop once his little brain wants to know the answer to why about everything.

I don’t really have a topic for today’s post.  Sometimes my mind just doesn’t focus in like I want it to.  So this is going to be a mixture.  Enjoy!  (No, please come back!)

Here’s a funny story.  My wife bought a salad mix from Trader Joe’s for dinner last week.  There was a packet of what I thought was bacon bits and since she didn’t use it, I thought I would add bacon to my egg breakfast one day this week.  I could just imagine those salty pork chicklets with each bite.  How could I not treat myself?!  Well, disappointment struck… It turns out that those were not bacon bits but dried apricots!  Talk about a let down!  Now I just want bacon…

Bummer news came when I found out Stranger Things Season 3 has been delayed until a 2019 Summer release.  UGH!  Really?  Well that’s a kick in the shin.  I might need to think of something fun to do in place of my season 2 re-watch.  I’m open to suggestions.  I could do a month of my favorite 80s flicks (all of which I grew up watching too many times).  That might be 80s overload.  I could also look at doing an episode by episode re-watch of another show.  I’d love to devote several weeks to my favorite show, “Lost”, but that could require some major dedication.  Still…it’s an intriguing option.

Other than counting down the days until our high temperatures get back down into the 90s, life goes on.  Writing continues.  I am working on the Shoals to the Hallowed short story for the August Newsletter and its turning into something quite fun to write and explore.  My goal is to still update my website.  No target date as of yet but I’ll keep you all updated.

Make sure to sign up for my newsletter on my website too.  Three free newsletters which includes news, book reviews, and the Shoals to the Hallowed short story.  Don’t shy away from showing your support.  It means a lot and I pour quite a bit of time into this whole adventure.

(Psst…get in close.  No, too close.  Okay, there.  Yeah, I’m going to do a Lost Season 1 re-watch.  So get your Apollo bars ready, Losties, because we’re got to go back!)

Flash Fiction: Betrayal’s Cost

Reluctance bore itself deep into Barston as he realized the journey to Rastome was almost complete.  Only one other instance of attempted robbery against the merchant train occurred and he had avoided Freilas’ threat only because he had been sent ahead with one of the other hired guards, whose name was Bilkin, to survey the road as they came to a bend notorious for its ambushing opportunities.

For all the chaos Breshtk suffered due to the rumors of Queen Erise’s disappearance, Barston could not help but think he would find a new prosperous opportunity in Rastome.  Surely, there was something that could be gained in one of the larger cities of his home hold.

Freilas screamed at him to get his attention and handed over a large bundle of empty water skins.  “I can hear that brook has turned into quite the stream off the road.  Climb down there and fill these.”  The quiet days on the road left him surly and tasking Barston with extra tasks.

Barston skid down the steep incline, keeping his balance with his hands full.  The water of the unnamed stream was cool against his skin, relieving the heat of the day.  Bugs swirled around his face in the deep shaded area, undeterred by his swatting.

He heard the approach of someone, thinking they came to help but upon turning growled once he saw the blade aimed for his ribs.

Quick hands allowed him to block the strike with the tied water skins.  His eyes kept on the blade but a moment’s look revealed Bilkin was his attacker.  Barston’s feet plunked into the water as he moved to avoid the next strike.  Bilkin bore an angry expression, sweat dripping from his bearded face, and reached for another smaller knife meant to be thrown.  The earlier incident on the road proved his prowess at throwing the double-edged blade.

Bilkin reached back ready to throw and Barston did the only thing he could do.  He grabbed his sword hilt and pulled the blade free.  Bilkin’s eyes widened in shock.  In that brief opening, Barston lunged forward and swung his blade downward.  Bilkin’s chest opened despite steel not touching it.  His shock lingered as he fell back to the ground.

Barston breathed heavily, unable to take his eyes from his broken blade—his Shoal-cursed blade—as steel rose only inches above the hilt.  His eyes searched for others but either Bilkin acted on his volition or was the only one sent to betray him.  Barston let his eyes run over the clean blade of his sword, shattered by the attack that left him alive but his princes dead months ago.

The water skins floated down stream while Barston crossed the water and began his quiet flight from the train up towards Rastome, not caring to confront what may be awaiting him at the train.

 

Fresh Eyes Find Cracks: Importance of Beta Readers

posted in: Books, Editing/Revision, Writing | 0

Comic Con San Diego 2018 has come and gone and I am left deflated… No Stranger Things Season 3 updates.  None at all.  I guess I’ll just be patient and hope the release date announcement doesn’t leave me scrambling to get my re-watch and blog posts done in too much of a hurry.

Until then, I’ll keep my focus on all my other projects.  As you know (I don’t know how you could miss it), I have been getting really good feedback from several beta readers.  From everything to grammar mistakes to needing clarity on characters’ motivations and even geographical confusion, I’m running into lots of great comments and questions.  I already felt like my story was strong but this process just further girds up its loins (lol, girds).

There’s always some sense of uncertainty in the things you create (babies included).  You have doubts to its ability to stand up on its own.  Does it make clear the themes I am exploring?  Are the characters relatable and if not at the beginning, can they grow on the reader over time?  There are other equally important questions I have and hope to get answered.

These fresh eyes of beta readers are not jaded like my own eyes.  I actually prefer to see more “red”, that is comments and errors marked, than not.  As much as I think my book is near perfect after so many revisions and years of working on it, that’s not the truth.  My flawed eyes pass over these mistakes because I’m far too familiar with the writing.  The truth is, I can’t be the only reader before sending it off to an agent and/or publisher.  I’m so glad I’m getting this feedback because I was very close and willing to start querying last year but thankfully, I didn’t rush the process.

I so appreciate the people who have agreed to read my book.  It’s dense and requires dedication.  They will absolutely be getting gift baskets if and when my book does get published (I’ll do that even if it doesn’t to be honest).  So, to my beta readers, I thank you immensely for your help and time.  You give me more confidence in my writing and push me forward.

20 Year Anniv: Saving Private Ryan

posted in: Film/TV, Review | 0

Sobering is the best way I can define Saving Private Ryan for myself.  Usually, I write about films I enjoy and find entertaining but to put those words to SPR seems off.  It’s a film that showcases the horror of war and also the humanity of soldiers.

It’s been 20 years since the release of SPR and I was not allowed to watch it in theaters seeing as how I was fourteen when it was released but I wanted to without truly understanding it.  I can’t say for sure when I finally watched the film but I actually think I saw it in a history class I took as a junior in high school.  We watched it in parts, discussed, and did an assignment to discuss WW2.

From what I can remember, the film’s infamous opening of the beach landing in Normandy struck me as horrifying.  There was no glory.  There was no sense of patriotic pride either.  It was a depiction of war, showing the true limits of the human body when bullets and explosions are inflicted upon them.  Fathers, sons, and brothers endured the immense hammer that was the war.  They did so out of duty and service to their country, families, and each other.  There are no greater heroes than those.

I don’t think it can be argued that SPR is one of Steven Spielberg’s top films.  For message and filmmaking, it has few equals.  He brought to life fictional characters thrust into one of history’s greatest conflicts and depicted real people faced with continuous trials and trauma.  Again, sobering.

It’s easier to consider the film as I’m doing now and critique it from a storyteller position when I’m not watching it on the screen.  I can explain how I appreciate the characters and their relationships amidst chaos and death while carrying out a mission to send one of their own home after his three brothers were killed elsewhere in the war.  I appreciate the storytelling Spielberg was able to portray through the film but I would be remiss to say this film is enjoyable to watch.  It wasn’t the first time I saw it and hasn’t been any other subsequent time I’ve watched it either.

Spielberg did not look to entertain his audience with SPR like he has with say Jurassic Park or more recently Ready Player One.  Much like Schindler’s List or Amistad, Spielberg cares more about portraying a story difficult to watch but important to experience.  His message is, “this is a difficulty of our history but there were good people thrust into the horrors humanity can inflict upon one another and it’s these people who should be recognized and honored”.

I found this video recently and loved the dissection of Spielberg’s brilliant filmmaking.  Enjoy!

Resting is Divine

posted in: Life | 0

When I was fresh out of high school, released from the every day routine of waking by my shrieking alarm clock and counting down the class periods, I definitely took advantage of my youth.  I took college courses and had a part-time job at the college computer lab, which meant I didn’t usually have to be up and out of the house until 10ish most mornings.  This allowed me the freedom to stay up late and wake up even later.  Oh, the days of nocturnal delight.

I did this sort of thing for years and didn’t really change my ways until I got married.  Many a nights I wasted precious hours on video games (say Halo!).  Poker games were involved as well, which weren’t too bad because at least I was trying to win money.  However, I just think back on these days and wonder if I did anything of value.  This was a bit darker period for me because I really didn’t have a direction in life beyond taking college courses.  I had no real aspirations even though I was writing.  Unfortunately, it was during my novice years (am I still there? I have no idea) which means I was still trying to figure out what kind of writer I wanted to be.

Jump to the present and I really am appreciating rest more than ever.  Now it may have to do with having a newborn (why can’t they fall asleep on their own?  I mean kittens and puppies can.  Why can’t babies?) and perhaps my age now being in my thirties has something to do with it.  Whatever it is, I truly value what rest can do for my body and mind.  If I get to sleep early, I am just more pleasant to be around throughout the day.  Shocker!

Rest doesn’t have to be limited to a reasonable bedtime either.  Some nights I find myself just wanting there to be no noise as I wind down.  It’s rare but even reading before going to bed helps me simmer down.  I say all this to encourage rest in your life.  Busyness can break you down faster than anything else (well everything except crack) and I hate to think we as a society let ourselves become little more than over-stressed zombies needing a Red Bull just to get through the day.

Point in fact, just the other night, I ended up going into work later than I usually do because the baby had a fever (most likely a reaction to vaccines earlier in the day).  Now, I do need to admit that I am a creature of habit and routine.  If I get off my routine for a workday, I feel out of sorts the rest of the day.  My inner clock just feels wonky.  So, I went in later than usual but also got more sleep than I usually do.  It didn’t cost me much if anything at all so I hope this adjustment helps.  (By the way, the baby is fine.  The fever broke by morning and he’s his usual baby self, smiling and filling our hearts with love.)

By the Way:  If I had been better prepared, I would have realized the 18th was the 10 year anniversary of what I consider to be not only the best comic movie but also a top ten film on my personal favorite list.  So, I’ve included this video to celebrate why “The Dark Knight” is so amazing.

 

What’s Coming Up

I feel like I have quite the pile of projects going on and I don’t do myself any favors when I start getting new story ideas.  Even so, I still try to write these ideas down so I can return to them at a later time.  I definitely stay busy with writing and blogging and it helps me to keep all of them on track by providing occasional updates in my blog posts.

I announced a few weeks back that I joined a writing group.  We have had two meet ups so far and both were fun and successful.  I’m already seeing the value in the group and hope it continues for years to come.  I am sharing my book, So Speaks the Gallows, and implementing the group’s suggestions and critique as well as my beta reader comments.  Everything called out seems to be character motivation related, clarity issues, or small gaps in the story.  This is reassuring and makes me believe the story is strong, needing only minor tweaks here and there.  Again, the goal is to query an agent or two sometime this year.  Being July already, I can only hope I meet that goal.

I’m working on the newest Shoals to the Hallowed short story for the upcoming August newsletter and finding it to be an exploration of a genre I’ve not dabbled in before: horror.  I risk bringing this up because those of you subscribed may read it and say, “that was horror?”.  Well, it felt horrific as I wrote it.  Hopefully, it captures the tone and mood I was aiming for.  If I don’t nail that aspect of it, hopefully it was still enjoyable for the reader.

I am also trying to get my website updated.  It’s about time I give it a facelift and hope to have that done soon with the help of my friend who helped me set up the website last year.  If it goes to plan, it should not only look different but be easier to navigate through.  Credit must be given to my wife also because she has an eye for what looks good in a website.  Much of the changes will be coming based on her suggestions.  Be on the lookout for that.

Comic Con San Diego is this weekend so hopefully we get news about Stranger Things Season 3.  Again, I plan on re-watching and devoting a month of blog posts to Season 2 in preparation for the new season.

I hope you’re all staying cool wherever you are.  This summer has been brutal to us desert rats so far.  What I wouldn’t give for a week-long stretch of summer rain right now (minus the humidity).

Sunday Levity: We Built This Schmidt-y

posted in: Film/TV, Sunday Levity | 0


“New Girl” is one of my favorite shows and I was sad to see it end this year.  While I struggle to name a favorite character, I believe the ensemble was one of the best.  It was Zooey Deschanel’s show, but I believe Max Greenfield as Schmidt was the show’s linchpin.  So for today’s Sunday Levity post, here are some great Schmidt moments.  Definitely check out the show for much more.

Unleashing the Lyrics: Restless by Cold War Kids

posted in: Music, Review | 0

I’ve always had this desire to be a songwriter.  I’ve dabbled with poetry and lyrics on many occasions, however, I am not able to write the music to accompany said lyrics due to my lack of knowing how to play guitar or piano (that’s all you need, right?).  So, I am left to embrace the songs and lyrics of others, forever envious.

I want to explore some music that speaks directly to me and give the reasons why.  Seeing as how I’m a writer, it only makes sense that I do this from a lyrical angle rather than by the music behind the words.  I hope to do this more often (at least once a month) just to add a bit more varied content.

I found Cold War Kids a few years ago, hearing their song “First” from their “Hold My Home” album while listening to the radio.  I was instantly gripped by it (note: this is not the song I’ll be discussing, lol).  As one does, I began to go through their back-catalogue since they released several albums before this current one.  My immediate thoughts were, “How have I never heard this band before?!”  My wife can vouch for this but Cold War Kids became my favorite band after this long immersion into their music.  There was just too much that caught my ear from the lyrics to the musicality of the band who seemed to have a distinct and fresh sound.

From then on, I followed the band eager to know when another new album would come out.  “L.A. Divine” was released in April 2017 and man oh man, I love the album.  Ask my wife and she’ll tell you I may be a little obsessed because I can always listen to this one.  The song I want to explore in today’s post is the track, “Restless”.  Take a listen:

 

I’m not going to go through the entirety of the lyrics but I do want to point out the ones I was most impacted by:

People wonder, people talk
We’re supposed to settle down
How we ever got this far
Without our feet touching the ground
What time is it now where you are?
We follow beats with different drums
We’re looking at the same star
It is a talent staying young

The first verse of the song sets up this idea that people in relationships can take different paths, not settling for what may be thought to be the traditional or expected life plan.  There’s also this idea of maintaining youth rather than growing up.

Try to keep it all up in the air
You ruin it when you ask why
You know it’s not that I don’t care
I don’t get jealous, I get free
Everything good comes back to me
It seems like wherever you are
Is just a better place to be

Where I want to focus most though in the lyrics is at the end of verse two.  I remember being with my wife in our car, driving out of town and listening to the whole album.  This song came on and I pointed out the lyrics:  I don’t get jealous, I get free/Everything good comes back to me

I told her that if I ever got a tattoo of song lyrics, it would be these two lines.  She asked why and I’ll share with all of you what I shared with her.  I was pretty immature as a teenager which shouldn’t be a shocker.  I was selfish and really lacked emotional maturity, often irked and acting out because I felt cheated in some way or another.  However, as I got older and found clarity and confidence in myself, I realized my errors and learned from my previous mistakes because my immaturity affected relationships with others.  I found freedom in this self-assurance, knowing that even though I wasn’t the first choice, I would still find joy and happiness (hint: my wife is a huge example of this but that story will be for another day).

Forever Re-watchable: The Goonies

posted in: Film/TV, Review | 0

There are those movies you grew up with and then there are those movies that made you grow.  “The Goonies” came out in 1985 which means I did not see it until I was at least seven or eight years old in the early 90s.  My earliest memory of the movie is it scaring the crap out of me.  Thanks, Sloth, for the nightmares.  As I got older, though, I found the movie to have a strong affect on me as a lover of storytelling.

If you are unawares of the plot of “The Goonies,” it follows a group of four friends (Mikey, Mouth, Chunk, and Data) in Astoria, Oregon searching for the pirate treasure of local legend, One-Eyed Willy, to stop the foreclosure of their homes.  Adventure ensues once the Goonies come across a family of criminals who pursue the kids after they learn of the treasure hunt.  Throw in hijinks (that’s a fun word to type) and the theme of friendship strengthened by conflict and you’ve got a quality film that is memorable and has become a cult classic from the 80s.

Mikey is the every man we can all relate to; Mouth is the sarcastic butthead who provides the laughs; Chunk is the chubby kid who is scared of everything but finds courage by the end; and Data is the techy of the group who has an affinity for gadgets that don’t always work but when they do, they prove useful to the group.  None of these characters feel trapped in a box but have depth that is brought out in their actions and dialogue throughout the film.  It’s this friendship that I admire.

Getting our first looks at Sean Astin (Samwise Gamgee!) and Josh Brolin (Thanos!), I always feel like we get introduced to the foundation of things to come for “nerd” culture in cinema.  “The Goonies” is one of the influences for “Stranger Things” and if you’ve been following me for any length of time, you know how much I love that show.  There’s also a Spielberg touch to the film even though it was directed by Richard Donner.  You can’t help but wonder how much Indiana Jones was an influence.  Iconic continues to be a word I come back to.

My appreciation for this film came much later in life especially after I realized it isn’t as scary as first experienced.  Getting past that, I found the humor within the dialogue to be there and quite memorable.  There are physical humorous moments as well (slick shoes!) and these play more to younger audiences (like myself when I first saw the movie).  It’s in the dialogue that I think the film holds up beyond the “children’s appeal”.  It’s a dark film that I think I would hesitate to show my son until I deem him old enough and able to handle the content.  I would not hesitate however to watch it with him and get his thoughts on everything from the sense of mystery/adventure, the scarier elements, and the friendships of the Goonies themselves.  I look forward to this day, in fact.  He may never appreciate it as much as I do, but I can hope, hahaha!

Call to Action:  Seriously, I don’t know how you could not enjoy this film if you grew up in the 80s.  But if you hear the word “goonies” and you wretch, I hope you’ll clean up and check it out again with some friends.  You never know, your tastes may have changed.

Imagination Indoctrination

posted in: Books, Life, Reading | 2

Sometimes you don’t know things about yourself until you encounter a new scenario.  There are the extremes like what would you do when faced with an emergency or crisis and then there are the somewhat moderate instances like what I plan on discussing today.

I have some rather vague memories of children’s books from when I was wee lad.  I don’t remember having children’s books of my own but I do remember my grandparents having several Dr. Seuss books.  My sister and I would “read” these though I think we were drawn more by the pictures than anything else.

My wife and I asked our baby shower guests to bring children’s books for our little boy because we have a strong sense of reading to him even now (with full sarcastic commentary that he won’t appreciate until he’s older).  Our hope and desire is to instill a joy and love for reading from a young age.  This is not going to be a “screens are the devil” post but I am conscious of how much our lives move with screens readily available.  They can’t be escaped unless you’re willing to go off the grid (watch the movie “Captain Fantastic” to get an idea of what this would look like).

Instead, we have a sense for what has proven valuable to our own lives.  While it took me until my high school years to appreciate and become an avid reader, my wife was always in a book from a very young age.  The story seems to be she memorized children’s books before she could actually read the words.  There’s intrinsic value in reading.  Most of all, I believe reading launches the growth and developing of the imagination.  And if there’s anything I want for my son, it’s a wild imagination.

Why is that?  Well, because I attribute my imagination to my self-confidence and joy of life.  Maybe it’s just me (maybe someone else can contribute in the comments) but I can’t even imagine what my life would be like without my imagination.  Ugh, it would be horrible!  I personally think an imagination expands one’s life.  I can’t wait till my son begins to play because I have this vision of him including me in this wide world devised of colors and scenarios that only he can think of.  And I firmly believe reading will be the catalyst to this imaginative wonder.

Call to Action:  Does anyone have any children’s books recommendations?  We have a small assortment right now but are looking to expand.

Independent Celebration

posted in: Life | 0

I have a nefarious thought as I write this blog: “I bet if I wrote a ‘politically’ charged blog post, I’d get more action in my comments section”.  It’s tempting just because sometimes playing devil’s advocate is an amusing exercise to provoke discussion.  Oh, it’s tempting.

I’ll toe the line as I write about celebrating the 4th, which is tomorrow, and really just a holiday I love because I get work off and I usually get to indulge in time with family and friends.  I also get to eat BBQ and drink beer, devoid of the promise of indigestion later that night.  I don’t care much for the fireworks theatrics (I’m just not impressed anymore) though I am cringing at the thought of one of my inconsiderate neighbors lighting a Piccolo Pete too close and scaring our boy out of his sweet baby slumber.  In reality, the day signifies much more than that for me.

(Here is where I deliberate on whether or not to put a video of President Bill Pullman from Independence Day give a rousing speech on defeating those evil aliens that abducted Randy Quaid before he went on the lam and thought it cool to challenge our great American heroes: Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum.)

Let’s be honest, the history of the thirteen original colonies and declaring independence from the British Empire is thick with details.  There’s a lot to go through.  We celebrate the day because our forefathers essentially looked at building a nation that would be free and governed unto itself.  Whatever your proclivities are, I understand them.  There’s a lot of ugliness in history both in that of the United States and everyone else on the map.  Bloody hands can be found all around.

For me, I’m thankful for the actions committed with the intention to build a nation on a notion of freedom, having natural rights protected.  Not everyone in the world is blessed to that capacity.  We can all agree (I would hope so) that freedom is a great and wonderful thing to have and hold.  My hope and encouragement is that whatever your leanings or feelings towards others these days in our nation you will consider them as people first, willing to consider their position.  It doesn’t matter if you agree or have a deep-seeded dislike.  An important lesson I learned and try to live by each and every day is to remember that I can only manage myself.  It’s not my place to force or convert others but to live out a life of decency and consideration.

During this time of celebration, my hope is that we will see common courtesy extended to others even if it’s not given to us.  My hope is to see hands embracing rather than looking to inflict harm or damage.  My hope is to see days where respect can be offered despite differences.  I think our founders had similar hopes for this freedom experiment of a nation and we should be grateful for their efforts, sacrifices, and dreams this 4th of July.

Call to Action:  Find a friend or family member you know you differ with, don’t go looking for a fight, and share a drink and some laughs.  Light fireworks, eat burgers and hotdogs, and show some appreciation for who they are.  And be safe!

Flash Fiction: Flakes of Ash

White flakes fell from the sky like wild flies.  Teelee watched and stared, mouth agape.  “Shotra!  It’s snowing!”

“Fool girl,” the Dust Seer grumbled from his sitting position under a leafless tree.  “That’s not snow… There’s no bloody cloud in the sky!”

Teelee realized the truth in his statement but waved her hand in the air to catch one of the floating flakes.  More wordless grumbling came from Shotra the Twig.  He had left her with Apple and their wagon back in the town—she could not remember its name—and returned injured and strange, scaring her as screams came from all around.  So many people were running past her.  Apple almost ran from her but she managed to calm him as they waited.

She thought back to that day—several had passed since then and Shotra’s injury seemed to be worsening.  He refused to see a healer.  She should have been scared but Apple’s cries forced her to tend to the mule.  She could see in his large eyes appreciation for her.

“Aha!”  Her exclamation earned her a rude glare from Shotra but she finally secured a flake in her hand.  Upon looking at it, she realized a grey streak in her palm resulted where she would have preferred the cold nip of a snowflake.  Her eyes jumped to the canvas and dust she read for Master Shotra earlier in the day.  Some of the ash had fallen on the surface.

She brought her hand to her mouth, stifling the gasp.  Her eyes roamed over the changing of what she read.  “Master Shotra,” she whispered.

“Damn girl,” he hissed.  “What?”

“We need to leave this place…”  Yes, it was plain and clear.  The ash flakes gave a stark warning.  “Something is hunting.  Something of the Shoals.”

Shotra stood and limped towards her, favoring his left leg while crossing his arms over his stomach.  His face seemed to have grown paler since the morning.  “Say that again, girl.”  He was often nice to her when she read the dust, which she liked.

She pointed at the canvas.  “It changed with the ash.”

He peered at it.  “I see…  What does it say?”

A single word came to mind; an urgent command from the dust and ash.  “Run,” she said through a deep tremble.

Writing Group Announcement

posted in: Fantasy, Writing | 3

I’ve got a bit of news today that I’m excited to share.  I’m active on Twitter and have been for a while now as I move more and more beyond just a casual writer.  I’ve made contact with other published authors, editors, and agents able to interact with them in both a professional and casual manner.  Getting history book recommendations from or sharing a joke about ketchup preferences with established fantasy writers remains worth bragging about from time to time.

So, the news (the title spoils it to be honest) is that I recently came across a tweet from another writer looking to start a writing group specifically comprised of fantasy writers.  I saw it and replied almost instantly telling him I was interested.  From there, we both tweeted out the writing group inquiry and within a day we had three other writers join us!  So, we are working out the details and figuring out how we are going to do this.

Let me expound a bit on the importance of this.  There’s been this jealousy I’ve had of other writers who have been part of writing groups and make mention of their appreciation for the group in their journey to publishing.  By no means do I consider this a sure thing for getting published (there’s more legwork to do on my part) but I do think it will be invaluable to have four more people read my work and give me advice and suggestions that serve only to improve the story as a whole.

Since I’ve been rewriting the second half of my Ravanguard novella, I think that will be the first of my stories to put through the group’s hands.  I will absolutely be giving casual updates on how the group impacts me too.  Hopefully, it is something that becomes a stable resource for me.  I also look forward to establishing relationships with these other writers who I know will impact me in a positive light.

There’s no Call to Action today but I will say this: God bless every parent who did not throw in the towel when their newborn decided it wanted to be fussy for hours on end.  Our little bundle of drool and grunts has decided he will do as he pleases and me and my wife try to figure out the best ways to get him to sleep (bouncing, rocking, shushing, etc.).  Pray for us, lol.

Sunday Levity: Fun Out From the Sun

posted in: Sunday Levity | 2


Yeah, I’m bringing more fun facts (I’ve been on a kick lately) today and it’s way to hot outside so here’s some learning to share.  Enjoy!


I’ll use this as an excuse for my poor test taking during high school and college (my GPA was never that bad though).


PSA: Stay away from reading memoirs of serial killers.


Maybe if I had known this during high school, my studying for tests would have been more effective!


Not so sure about this one… Have you seen the way doctors write?


Pretty sure my wife and I were this way early on in our relationship.

Have a great week everyone! I have some big news to share on Wednesday and Saturday will be the newest Shoals to the Hallowed flash fiction post.

Summer Days

posted in: Books, Film/TV, Life, Music, Review, Sports | 2

Summer is here in full tilt (poker reference) and beating down us weirdo’s who choose to live in the Mojave Desert.  Triple digit temperatures just about every day make you long for the mountains or beach.  While we endure it though, we’re having fun, remaining cool by whatever means necessary.

I don’t talk about it much, but I have been fully invested in baseball this year.  I am a San Francisco Giants fan (I admit, I am a newer fan thanks to my brother-in-law and have slid head first into the fandom—pun!).  As most people will say, they don’t like watching baseball games on tv because it’s boring.  I am the exact opposite.  I love watching the games whenever I have the opportunity.  I find it relaxing and a great thing to listen to in the background if I’ve got other things to do.  I’ve been quite prone (much to the chagrin of my wife) to listening to the radio feed while doing dishes and preparing dinner most nights, hahaha!  I’ve pretty much abandoned my childhood love of basketball for baseball.

I am reading a few books, finding quite a few non-fiction ones that I’ve enjoyed.  I don’t know if I’ll include these in my next newsletter but if I do, I’ll go a bit deeper in a full review.  Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel is renown and award winning and not at all a difficult read.  It explores civilization and its evolution from very grounded foundations.  I’m always intrigued by history and how we’ve got to where we are.  Another book I recently finished is The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien, which serves as a memoir from his time in the Vietnam War.  It explores men he served with and their struggles both during and after the war.  I appreciate the vulnerability offered, letting the human side of these men be remembered.

Like sports, I don’t talk much about music but I’ve been stuck on a few albums as of late.  As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t know how to really review music.  My tastes are what they are.  I can listen to hardcore melodies and screams of bands like Alexisonfire and Dance Gavin Dance while at the same time throw on some Tracy Chapman.  For lighter listening, The Paper Kites album, “twelvefour”, is beautiful and soothing.  I need to get it on vinyl.  It’s just one my favorites right now.  For a little “harder” sound, I recently found a band called Hands Like Houses.  No screaming but they are similar to the Hardcore Alternative styles that I enjoy.  Let’s just say I showed them to my wife and she liked what she heard (she’s not a fan of the screaming types, lol).

Our tv viewing has been mostly comprised of Chuck now that it’s on Amazon Prime.  When I find the time though, I am trying to get through season two of Westworld and plan on getting into season two of Legion after that.  Still waiting on Stranger Things Season 3 news.  I bet we’ll see a trailer at Comic-Con San Diego in a few weeks.  I’ll announce my plans for Stranger Things Month here on my blog when I get that info.

Okay, movies.  I’ve got two I recommend if you just need to laugh.  “Game Night” you can rent and “Tag” you can go see in a nice air conditioned theater right now.  Both are hilarious.  We laughed a lot.  “Game Night” was a pleasant surprise, surpassing my low expectations.  “Tag” was just fun.  Great characters who had great chemistry carry out a tradition that promotes friendship.  You’ll laugh a lot with these two so make sure you watch them with friends and family (neither are for little kids so get a babysitter).

Call to Action:  Anyone have any big plans for the summer?  Trips?  Concerts?  Having a newborn, we don’t have much planned beyond getting extra sleep on the weekends but once our son gets a little older, we are gonna hit that open road!

2017 Film Watchlist Update

posted in: Film/TV, Review, Storytelling | 0

Over the last few weeks, I managed to watch a few of the movies from 2017 that I put on my “To watch” list.  Let’s go!

“I, Tonya” is an interesting film that explores the life, career, and downfall of ice skater, Tonya Harding.  If you grew up in the 90s, you know about the infamous story of Harding’s fellow ice skater, Nancy Kerrigan, being “knee-capped” by some stranger after a practice session.  Tonya was implicated in the attack and the whole world witnessed an infamous case of jealousy and personal vendetta that jumped over the line to criminality.

The film has an interesting structure, “interviewing” many of the main players like Tonya, her abusive mother, equally abusive husband, and several others.  Tonya’s tough upbringing is explored while spliced with these interviews sometimes making us wonder if we’re dealing with multiple unreliable narrators.  There’s a lot of he said/she said moments that bring about comedy and tragedy making us feel for Tonya.  There are many historical moments captured from her performances and the most impressive is her landing two triple axel jumps in one competition, making her the first female figure skater to ever accomplish such a mark.

All of this however takes a drastic fall into chaos as Tonya feels the full weight and pressure of her success overshadowed by the more “likeable” Kerrigan.  The film doesn’t stray from the infamous clubbing of Kerrigan and makes no excuses for Tonya’s role in the plot carried out by her husband and his friend.

What struck me most in the film are the performances.  Each actor and actress embodied their role.  Margot Robbie as Harding is memorable.  Many times, I forgot I was watching the same actress who brought Harley Quinn to life.  Robbie did an amazing job and I kind of feel like she was over-shadowed by Allison Janney who played Tonya’s mother and stole every scene she was in.  Vindictive and downright cruel, I can see why Janney took home the Best Supporting Actress Academy Award.

While hard to watch at times, the film definitely superseded my expectations.  It’s not one I would add to my personal Blu-ray collection but worth watching at least once.

If you’ve never heard of Tommy Wiseau and his feature film, “The Room”, which has been dubbed by everyone who’s ever seen it as the worst film they’ve ever watched, then don’t feel bad.  I’ve never seen “The Room” myself but I’ve known of its existence for awhile and seen quite a bit of footage that I am quite familiar with it’s “quality”.

“The Disaster Artist” is the film that chronicles the unlikely friendship between Wiseau and Greg Sestero who met in an acting class in San Francisco and eventually moved to Los Angeles to pursue acting careers.  They do so and fail to land any jobs before deciding to write their own film.  Wiseau writes, produces, directs, and stars in the film.  “The Disaster Artist” film directed and starring James Franco takes much of its lead from Sestero’s memoir which chronicled the making and production of “The Room”.

Once again, the performances are what make this film.  Tommy Wiseau is for lack of a better word, “interesting”.  No one knows his true age or origin.  He has what many believe is an Eastern European accent but says he’s from New Orleans.  The other mysterious thing about him is his wealth.  He paid for the entirety of the film from equipment, production costs, and actor’s and crew salaries.

Based on the memoir, it’s hard to believe Wiseau is the real deal and not a grand conman.  Watch any interview with him and you’ll be convinced he’s not real.  It’s been long enough now though that it’s very likely he is who he is.  He continues to make films and has a cult status in Hollywood.

Back to “The Disaster Artist”.  James Franco as Wiseau is outstanding.  He could have very likely won the Best Actor Academy Award if not for sexual abuse allegations made against him.  All you have to do is compare Franco’s performance to that of Wiseau (the film does this during the end credits) to see his full range of dedication.  You do not have to watch “The Room” to enjoy this one.  You will ask more than once if this guy is for real.

Call to Action:  While these films are dramas, you will laugh while watching both.  I recommend both but just know these are not “normal” films.  They both approach storytelling in different ways than other biopics out there.

Fatherhood Formed

posted in: Life | 1

It has taken no time for me to fall in love with my son.  None.  He’s amazing and a miracle I cannot wait to see and hold each and every day.  As a new father, I find so much of thoughts occupied by his being in my life.

I would be remiss to not bring up my own dad in this post.  I like to think I learned valuable lessons from him when considering this thing called fatherhood.  Did he do everything right?  Nope.  Do he do things right?  Absolutely.  I can easily look back at my life as a kid, teenager, and young adult and say I was not the best to deal with.  I had attitude issues and selfishness that made me a bit of a jerk at times (probably not a shocker to my friends who have known me for any long period of time).  I believe my dad did the best he could when dealing with me.  I would say we’re on great terms now and have been for several years, which I’m thankful for.  I trust and continue to reach to him when I come up against things I don’t know or need help with.  I appreciate him in so many ways and am happy to see him be a grandpa and build a relationship with his grandson.

Back to me now (lol).  Those first few weeks with a newborn were tough.  Not only are you tired but you’re dealing with a tiny human who just spent months in the womb only to be pulled out and put into a whole new environment full of sounds, textures, and light!  Sensory overload to the max, I’m sure.  All you want is for the crying baby to fall asleep, but you are unable to figure out how to after its been fed, burped, and changed.  Gold medals for parents all around! (Oprah style)

Now, we are 8 weeks in and he’s fallen into a schedule, sleeping regularly and even giving mom and dad 3-4 and sometimes even five hours straight of sleep during the night!  It’s glorious!  Something else is happening though and I will do my best to describe it.

Our little boy is starting to make eye contact with us, not staring off into the distance, fixated on a shape or the wall.  It’s in these moments that he meets my eyes that I find my heart filling with love.  In that eye contact, I see understanding, recognition, and love on his part.  The wheels are turning, forming conscious thoughts.  In this connection, which was lacking in the first few weeks, I understand fully a father’s love for his child.

I talk to him, encouraging him and promising days in the future where he will have great opportunities.  I find myself excited for the days where he tells me his dreams.  I anticipate the questions he will have about the world.  Then, me being honest, there will be the days where he makes mistakes and faces the consequences of his choices.  How I speak to him in those moments will likely have just as great an impact as the days I comfort and congratulate him.

I have so much to look forward to and can only guess at what will take place and who he will become.  He will teach me new things about myself as he grows and searches for meaning and purpose.  I’ll ask him to forgive me when I make mistakes of my own, trust me when there does not seem to be any clear answers, and join me of great adventures of exploration.

Fatherhood is a blessing and opportunity for true legacy and impact in the world.  I can only be his father and no one else’s (until he has siblings of course).  My prayer and hope is I will be a source for peace, wisdom, and comfort throughout his life.  My joy of him will far exceed any momentary disappointments that will come along the way.  In this, I truly believe in these early days of fatherhood that so long as I remember these things, he and I will establish and maintain a lasting bond.

Call to Action:  I realize not everyone is blessed to have a father in their lives but I know we often find others to take that role.  I would encourage you to reach out to them and let them know how much you appreciate their place and impact in your life.

Always Be Learning

posted in: Books, Film/TV, Reading, Writing | 0

When you start out as a writer looking for any and everything that could give you guidance and help, one thing you consistently see is, “Read, read, and read more”.  This can be bothersome for some or at least it was for me because I wanted to respond, “But I want to write…”.  What should be added to that direction is:  Read, read, and read more because you will learn how to write.

Cognitive absorption (I have no idea if this is an accurate term or even used properly but I like the sound of it and it’s my blog so…yeah) through reading is how I like to think about my ability to read different kinds of books be it fiction, nonfiction, biography, etc. and subconsciously collect sentence structure, characterization, inclusion of theme, setting tone, and several other important literary practices.

I always want to be learning.  Whether by reading, listening, or being observant of the world around me, I cannot be the best storyteller I can be if I already think I know what I need to know.  To this day, I find myself stashing away nuggets of info I come across.  I’ll notice descriptions in a book about a people, places, or things and think, “That’s really good. I need to remember that detail or method”.  I’ll be listening to a podcast and a topic will weave between two speakers and I’ll pick up on conversational threads that I think can be implemented between my own characters as they talk to one another.  I’ll see something in a show or movie and make a note of the shape, color, and/or texture.

The notion of always learning can seem daunting and might make you feel overwhelmed.  Learning doesn’t have to be reading historical tomes of 1500 pages one after another.  Find a subject and explore it by whatever means.  Books are not the only option.  Podcasts, articles, and documentaries are all great mediums to absorb whatever it is you’re interested in.  There is no test at the end, so go your own speed and remember you learn what you want to learn about once you’re out of school.  Focus on those and you’ll enjoy it far more than when you were cramming for a test the night before.

Call to Action:  I want to encourage two sources that I love learning from.  The first is Joe Rogan’s podcast, “The Joe Rogan Experience”.  He talks with all sorts of people about all kinds of subjects from entertainment to deeper philosophical issues.  The second are the shows “No Reservations” and “Parts Unknown” by the late Anthony Bourdain.  The passing of Bourdain last week came unexpected and is tragic.  His traveling shows have been consistent staples for me because I always learn and find his approach to people through food a rare art.

Forever Re-watchable: What About Bob?

posted in: Film/TV, Review | 2

I’ve enjoyed returning to what I consider my favorite movies in these posts.  These are films I have seen more times than I can remember and usually watch at least once if not twice a year.  Today’s movie is an early 90s gem featuring the brilliant Bill Murray at his prime.

My greatest recollection of this film is it always seemed to be a part of my family’s movie nights.  We watched it a lot.  Also, my extended family enjoyed the movie so much that we would watch it during holidays or major get-togethers.  To this day, quotes from the film are exchanged as if they are family mottos.

The film follows Bob Wiley (Murray) who is a troubled man with a laundry list of phobias and social anxieties.  According to him, “As long as I’m in my apartment, I’m fine.  But when I go outside, I get…weird.”  He is referred to a new psychiatrist, Dr. Leo Marvin (Richard Dreyfuss), and offers what Bob considers to be a true breakthrough.  His hopes of being helped further are dashed when Dr. Marvin announces he will be on a family vacation for a month, leaving Bob in instant disarray.

Through what can only be described as borderline manic desperation, Bob learns where Dr. Marvin is vacationing with his family (this sounds more like a horror film, doesn’t it?!) and makes the long bus ride with his pet goldfish, Gill.  As Dr. Marvin struggles to deal with his new patient, Bob quickly assimilates into the family gaining love and friendship, which inevitably cure him of his struggles.  Hilarity ensues as you can imagine with Murray’s skills as a comedian.  There are far too many great moments to list but I have to share a few favorites here:


Now that I’m a father, I look at these films I am so fond of and cannot wait to show them to my little boy (when he’s old enough of course).  I think figuring out when he will appreciate such an “old movie” will be a challenge but I often hear from friends with older kids when they share their own childhood favorites.  It’s a time I’m looking forward to.

As I said before, the quotability of this film makes it not only fun but memorable.  I don’t know how many times my memory is triggered whenever I hear someone making “yummy” sounds during a home-cooked meal (apparently I did this at my in-laws before my wife and I even started dating and I was just her brother’s drum teacher coming for dinner) or see someone sailing on a boat and “I’m sailing!  I’m sailing!” comes to mind.  My favorite though is the laughter produced whenever someone says they’re taking baby steps and I imagine them walking around the room taking actual baby steps.

What About Bob? is a classic family comedy that tugs at the funny bone and heart strings.  It’s good clean fun and will always be a movie that makes me think of my family and the laughter in the room when Bob Wiley comes on the screen massaging his face while saying, “I feel good, I feel great, I feel wonderful,” over and over again.

Call to Action:  Watch it with friends and enjoy laughing for an hour and a half.

To Write is Right

I had no idea what my writing time would look like with a newborn.  It definitely takes adjusting to but there are pockets to be found (sometimes it’s less than you hope for and sometimes you look at the clock and think, “dang… I need to go to bed”).  So as I’ve adjusted and made sure my son doesn’t go neglected, I’ve been breaking up my writing time but getting things done.

Obviously, the blog gets time (otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this).  I don’t plan as far ahead as I’ve done in the past, leaving me to write a few days ahead of the schedule so I can edit and revise accordingly.  It makes for a more “on the fly” approach.  When I first started, it was easier to plan ahead because I had several topics I wanted to write about.  For this season though, I am more in the “what’s happening now” mode.  We’ll see how this goes as the months progress.  With Stranger Things Season 3 on the horizon, I will absolutely need to plan ahead.  I might even get a jump on those posts this summer seeing as how they took quite a bit of preparation to write along with re-watching season 1.  (I just checked and there’s no official release date for season 3 so I may have quite a few months to prepare.)

My book, So Speaks the Gallows, is currently being beta read.  I’m being patient, leaving me to spend time on a few other projects.  One of which is the Glossary I have for my Ravanguard series.  It’s extensive (that word might be an understatement) and has gone through so many revisions of its own over the last ten years.  Every place, group, and character is captured with details important to me as the writer so I can go back and reference the eye or hair color of a character.  To be honest, I’ve even considered going entry by entry and making sure every mention in the book is consistent.  Is that too much you might ask but one of my biggest concerns when writing such a large book is that there will be glaring inconsistencies that should have been caught beforehand (you’d expect as much with so long to write and polish the book).  I don’t know…  It’s a tough one to add to my already “thick” to do list for the book but I want and feel the need to get it as perfect as I can.

In addition to this, I am also revising the first novella of the Ravanguard series, Dim the Veil.  It is currently too long by novella word count standards.  To be brutally honest though, I’m not happy with the second half of the story.  I read it now and it feels…forced.  I wanted to implement some things that I thought I could make work but I continue to feel the story doesn’t fit.  Rather, it lacks what So Speaks the Gallows has embodied and consistency should be found not only in a single story but from story to story in a series.  This is why I’m going back through and giving it a proper scrub and tuck.

As you can see, I’m busy with plenty of things on the writing table.  Throw in my day job and my family and I am doing my best to balance everything.  My respect goes out to all those who do this well.  Again, I am astounded by my wife who does so much each and every day.  She’s amazing and I cannot imagine being a parent without her.  Truly, she is a rock and nearly perfect partner.  Watching her with our son brings me great joy.

No call to action today.  I don’t have anything to be honest and I’d rather not force something unless there’s one to offer.  Look out for my next blog post on the 9th.  It will be another “Forever Re-watchable” post.  Here’s a hint: “I said good morning, Gill.”

Sunday Levity: Fun Fact Time!

posted in: Sunday Levity | 0

I know that when I’m bored, I often look up fun facts.  Why?  For one, I’m a nerd but also I enjoy learning.  I figured since today’s another Sunday Levity day, I’d share some that I recently found.  It’s a day of relaxing so enjoy and thanks for stopping by!

These natural wonders of the world blow my mind.  It’s science when it comes to an explanation but can you imagine what people thought before science brought an explanation?  Magic!

I actually have to know this any time I’m working on a technical document (people love to use one instead of the other, leaving me to question the rule again and again).

A potato farm will be the first thing I start when the zombie apocalypse takes place.  Then, I will find a cow.

I just love stuff like this.  Language (especially english) fascinates me and how its constructs work.

This makes too much sense and would seriously help a lot of people.  I’m not the most traveled person out there but I absolutely see the merit in exploring different places and interacting with the people of those places.  Appreciation and value of others breaks all lines of hate.

Flash Fiction: An Odd Thing

She pressed her finger and thumb together, squeezing the blood between each, before separating the connection.  The sticky stretch of wet redness between each finger mesmerized her in a way that shouldn’t.  Not unless she was a child.  Perhaps, her mind fell back into the days before she fought for coin.  Back before the men and women in her life found her suitable to abuse and belittle for their own enjoyment and profit.

Was it her blood or that of the bald-headed, bearded man she killed earlier?  Who could say?  It looked the same no matter the owner.

“You shivering bastards…”  A man staggered by, catching sight of her as she pressed her back against a low stone wall.  The cool air of the early morning made both of their breaths misty.

Chasiel bit back the cooing sound in her throat, ready, and surprising the ugly fool who belonged to her rival mercenaries, the Silver Way.  He stepped in, short sword raised and ready to hack at her, but Chasiel’s instinct and will to live could not be undone even by her childish lapse.  Her dagger blade sliced open the man’s thigh.  He screamed but could barely get the sound out before she twisted the blade upward into his throat.  More blood.

She fell back to the cold, hard ground as the man toppled over, shaking slightly as life slipped away.  Her body ached in pain.  Her cuts and the stab wound to her lower back were beginning to burn.  She could see her reflection in the fresh pool of blood now.  How could it reflect like a mirror?  Truly, it was a considerable quality to reflect back the reflection of the one who killed its master.

A voice came in the distance of the manor’s grounds.  Fenroe.  He lived.  Chasiel let the coo finally slip from her grasp of it in her throat.  The Silver Way set the trap for them.  Somehow, they knew of Chasiel’s attempt at taking their contract.  Crisp was dead and she saw her captain, Feller Crowne, take an arrow in the chest.  Maybe he lived.  Maybe he didn’t.  Others fell as well.  How many of their numbers remained?

An odd thing blood was to be so important for life, she thought.  Yet in death, it was trivial.  Lose some and you live.  Lose too much and you die.  There she was again, mesmerized by the red fluid.  She preferred the days before she saw so much blood.  Days of seeking food and shelter only.  There was no need for blood back then.

“Chas?”

Fenroe again.  She let the cooing sound come from her lips and heard him curse, hurrying towards her across the yard, likely searching behind the structures and stalls of the wealthy merchant.  Chasiel wanted to sleep.  Her eyes grew heavy.  She did not think she lost too much of her own blood.  Not yet at least.  Such an odd thing, though, for her life to be leaking slowly.

Sunday Levity: Deadpool Edition-ioso

posted in: Comics, Film/TV, Sunday Levity | 0

So I know Deadpool is not everyone’s cup-o-tea.  He’s vulgar, violent, and childish in every sense of the word.  However, his zaniness is a breath of fresh air (figuratively speaking) in light of so many “serious” super hero films.

I wanted to share some of his better qualities (and tame ones) today.

I couldn’t agree more… I love pancakes.

“I’m invincible!”

Deadpool’s interactions with other Marvel heroes and villains are sometimes spot on as he makes keen observations.

If you’ve watched the movies, you know about Deadpool’s love/hate for Wolverine. It goes deeper in the comics.

Classic.

Call to Action: While I’ve used this post for levity, I do want to express my gratitude for the men and women who have given their lives for our nation. There is no greater sacrifice and whatever your affiliations, we should honor and respect those who have given everything to preserve our rights and freedoms.

Marvelous

posted in: Comics, Film/TV, Storytelling | 0

When you’re a late 80s/whole 90s kid, you are very much shaped by what movies, cartoons, music, video games, and even toys were popular during those years.  I have an affinity for Ninja Turtles, G.I. Joe, Transformers, The Goonies, Indiana Jones, Nintendo, and comics.  This latter one is what I want to talk a bit about today.

With all the Marvel films and shows coming out every year (mainly the MCU and Netflix shows), I wanted to talk a bit about how I’m more of a fan of Marvel Comics than DC Comics.  Honestly, it comes from the FOX Kids X-Men animated series that ran from 1992 thru 1997.  I loved this show growing up and watched it every Saturday morning (it has quite the kick ass theme music by the way).  Much of my education about the characters and world created by Stan Lee and others came from this habitual watching experience.  This extended into comics and while I was busy spending my allowance on basketball cards rather than comics, I did buy a few (there were only a few I was allowed to buy and it depended on the level of weird and violence depicted on the cover; parenting 101 won out every time back then).

As I got older though, I read and got into other marvel characters like Spider-Man, Darkhawk (there’s a deep cut), and the Fantastic Four.  X-Men continued to be my first love though and while I’m lukewarm on most of the movies (Days of Future Past still remains my favorite), I have dived deeper into the world and mythology over the years even as an adult.  X-Force and X-Factor were extensions that introduced more great characters like Deadpool and Cable (I’ve seen Deadpool 2 twice now! So good!).  For whatever the reason, I loved this imagining of heroes and villains differentiated between abilities they were born with.  As a kid, I had no idea mutants were a parallel allusion to civil rights born back in the 60s.  To a kid, they are colorful customers with superpowers.  That’s all you need!

All I know is we love what we love.  Nowadays, there’s no shame in being a nerd and comic fanboy.  For that, I am grateful.  Who knew that in 2018, you could get away with wearing a Marvel-themed t-shirt and not be ostracized.  Even in grade school, I don’t think I ever wore a comic book-related t-shirt (nor did I own any to be honest).

This is not to say I hate DC Comics and it’s brand of characters.  In fact, I’ve always loved Batman.  Whether it’s Tim Burton’s “Batman” or the “Batman: Animated Series”, I’ve always thought Batman was one of the better super heroes out there.  As I’ve gotten older, the complexity of the character and his inner demons make him even more captivating to me (you all know I’m a sucker for a conflicted character).

I’m excited to see where the future goes with all these Marvel properties, though.  So far, I can honestly say I’ve enjoyed many of the recent adaptations.  Go back and check out some of my reviews to get more in depth looks.  It really is refreshing to see the care to detail the film industry puts towards these characters I grew up with and devoted a great deal of time and money towards.

Call to Action:  If you have a chance, find interviews of Stan Lee (there are several on YouTube) and listen to the pride and joy he has in his creations.  It’s amazing the success he had on writing and drawing masked and costumed characters.

Missing Sleep

posted in: Life | 1

When I think of sleep and how I miss it, I hear Queen’s “You’re My Best Friend” in my head.  No, I was not disillusioned enough to think I would still sleep after having a baby.  I’m dim when it comes to some things but not that.  By the way, mad kudos to my wife because she’s been super gracious to me, allowing me to sleep during week nights when I have to get up early for work.  That’s not to say I told her to wake me up if she needs help with our little man while she feeds him every two hours.  She’s amazing.  I don’t know how she does it.  There truly is a magical power when it comes to mothers and their ability to care for their babies.  It’s a beautiful thing and has been a great delight of mine to witness.

I admit, I am writing this blog post the day of.  Usually, I’m ahead by a few days so I can tweak and edit my post before releasing it.  Today, though, it’s different.  We had a long weekend and I didn’t feel like writing on any of my days off.  So there.

It was a great weekend though.  My sister and brother-in-law were in town and they got to meet their nephew.  I saw Deadpool 2, which is not for everyone (seriously, if you saw the first one on purpose or by accident, the sequel drives the violence and vulgarity to 11).  We watched the series finale of one our favorite shows, New Girl, not knowing it was the finale until the very end.  I’m still coping with that too…  I love that show.  I might have to do a tribute post to honor it.  Overall, a great weekend.

Other than that, I’ve been getting some feedback from my beta readers and that’s been encouraging.  Looks like minor fixes so far.  Really looking forward to getting all the comments.  There’s a level of anticipation I am keeping tight reins on at the moment.  I don’t have a bevy of patience so it’s all about keeping myself occupied with other things.  I am revising the first novella of the Ravanguard series to keep my skills sharp.  I think I’ll provide more info on that and my process later this week or the following week.  So keep an eye out.

Hope you all had a great weekend and were able to rest and spend time with friends or family.

Call to Action: Where are all my yanny people at?! (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, look up “yanny vs laurel”.)  Apparently, what you hear has to do with frequencies.  It’s science.

Avengers: Infinity War (Part I) Review w/ SPOILERS

posted in: Film/TV, Review, Writing | 1

This is your first and only warning that the following post contains SPOILERS for the latest MCU film, “Avengers: Infinity War (Part I)”.  If you haven’t seen it yet, run away!  Actually, go and see it and return.  That’s it.  Now let’s continue.I feel the need to point this out from the start because I’ve heard too many people make a minor complaint after seeing the movie.  This is part one of two.  Of course it ended the way it did!  There’s more coming next May.  Rest assured, you didn’t just watch half of your favorite heroes “mist” away forever (hint: just check Marvel’s film forecast for the next couple of years).

Rather than writing a long-winded re-cap and critique of the film, I want to focus on what made this film of great magnitude work in a somewhat up and down film franchise.  Not all MCU entries have been pristine (let’s be honest with ourselves).  For every “Captain America: Winter Soldier” (2016) or “Black Panther” (2018), there is a “Thor: Dark World” (2013) or “Iron Man 2” (2010).  Some are very good and some seem to have missed the mark wide left.  Many times (in my opinion; that’s all it is) the downfall or lacking element of these weaker films is the villain.  Go back to my post last year about antagonists to see what I look for in a believable and compelling villain:  http://adamhenderson.net/2017/02/08/vilest-villainy-vowed-to-venture/

“Avengers: Infinty War” is about Thanos.  Plain and simple.  It’s not about our huge lineup of heroes.  They are secondary.  What “A:IW” did and quite well was establish a villain we first got wind of in the post credit scene of the first “Avengers” (2012) film.  That means we’ve had six years of anticipation and minor mentions in the films leading up to the big showdown.

Who is Thanos?  We need to know this in order to feel the full weight of the character.  What drives this galactic entity to attack Earth?  Well we don’t really know until we step into this film, which starts with Thanos and his Black Order after they’ve attacked and killed half the people on Thor’s ship after the events of “Thor: Ragnarok” (2017).  We learn that Thanos has a tragic past, seeing over population destroy his home world of Titan.  From that, he has sought to bring balance to the universe by going from planet to planet, wiping out half of populations to establish peace.  This is his goal and if that was all it was, then I would say we are dealing with another one dimensional villain bent on destruction.

Nay nay!

Thankfully, this is not all there is to him.  In order to accomplish his goals of ushering in the same balance and peace to Earth, Thanos has to fight Earth’s mightiest warriors.  Iron Man, Captain America, Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, Black Panther, and so many of the heroes we’ve been introduced to and following since the first “Iron Man” (2008) film band together and take on Thanos, his Black Order, and lesser minions.  Thanos has faced defeat already and he knows he needs more to combat Earth’s heroes.  Enter the ultimate McGuffins of the MCU: the infinity stones.

To wield all the stones (space, time, reality, mind, soul, and power) and become truly invincible, he needs something to contain and harness each power.  That containment cannot be accomplished unless it be forged from a dying star, much like Thor’s hammer.  Hence, the Infinity Gauntlet was made and Thanos is able to place each collected stone in the gauntlet.  The film follows his collecting said stones and every time he manages to add one to the gauntlet, we feel the impending doom, hoping he fails.

Alas, he does not fail.  Thanos collects every stone but there is a cost and this is where the film convinced me and made me proud as a storyteller.  While most of the stones seem to be “easy” for him to gain, one in particular is not.  The soul stone has been elusive and hidden from everyone (even from us in the audience because there have been no clues as to its whereabouts).  One person does know however of its location and that would be Thanos’ adopted daughter, Gamora, who we were introduced to in “Guardians of the Galaxy” (2014).  Sent on a mission by Thanos to locate it, Gamora knows where it is and is forcibly persuaded to tell him the location.

Once there, Thanos learns he must trade a soul for a soul.  In the most poignant, humanizing scene I could have hoped for, Thanos tragically sacrifices the life of Gamora for the soul stone.  My heart twisted as I watched the pain and tears in Thanos as he did so.  There it is.  There is the moment I didn’t even know I wanted.  Give me an antagonist I can sympathize with and you’ve given me a character with depth.  Thanos pays the ultimate price and even confesses at the film’s ending that in order to accomplish his goal, it cost him everything, revealing that his love for Gamora was real.

So, yes.  Our heroes not only failed (another important part of this story because we need to see heroes fail in order to be reminded that they are not invincible) but they are greatly weakened and diminished as we see Thanos destroy half of the universe’s population with a snap (literally).  Remember, this is part one.  Part two should bring everything back around and I think I can most assuredly postulate that we will see the atrocity of Thanos’ actions against the universe be righted or at least partially restored.

In conclusion, “Avengers: Infinity War (Part I)” is about Thanos and his main conflict.  His rise and fall moves the story forward and we are treated to a villain I actually found myself liking as much as I liked the Joker in Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight”.  For different reasons, of course, but it’s all the same.  Give me an antagonist who is more than a surface-level psycho and I will be engrossed in the complexity of their conflict and goal.

Call to Action:  Seriously, I shouldn’t have to say go see it but if you did and didn’t notice this aspect of Thanos, I encourage you to go see it again.  Do not think of it as a movie about our heroes but about the tragic character that is bent on bringing balance to the universe, unaware that to do so will cost him everything.

Mothers, Fathers, and Bears…Oh My

posted in: Life | 0

With us being a few days from Mother’s Day and less than a month away, the days of honoring parents have a bit more importance now that I’m a month into fatherhood myself.  Oh yeah, my little boy is a month old already!  Don’t give me that, “Oh just you wait, he will be sixteen, driving, and being rebellious before you know it,” nonsense. That’s coming but we’re 15 years and 11 months from that. I’ll choose to savor the now.

I’ve always appreciated my parents, though I never expressed that very well in my adolescence. Actually, I don’t know if I scaled the mountains even as a young adult. Maybe now I can keep up a consistent show of honor and appreciation for my madre and padre. (Just give it a couple of minutes after I post this blog and you’ll see a loving comment from my mom; she’s my biggest fan.)

The goal in this whole intro to parenthood is to be patient and not let our lack of sleep make us ask a newborn baby why he’s fussy and won’t go to sleep (he can’t properly communicate so therefore, we get nothing). He’s content until he’s not. Why? Maybe he’s hungry, gassy, or just sufficiently crapped his khakis (the latest episode was quite charming). Who can say?! For my wife and I, we’re just trying to stay upright from day to day.

We won’t get any sense of appreciation for what we do for our baby boy for many years to come. Until then, we will have to do it ourselves. I told my wife already that she’s doing a great job. She’s at home with him while I’m at work (counting down the hours until I can get home to see them and relieve my wife to have some semblance of “peace and quiet”) and doing all she can to keep him alive, lol. After a month of observing her with him, I can already tell she’s got this motherhood business down.

I hope to encourage everyone to express some love and appreciation to your parents. Heck, express it to the mothers and fathers you have in your life that aren’t related in blood too. They are in need of a little honor and recognition as well. Don’t leave it for one day alone. Any time it comes to mind, throw out a text or do like we use to do before cell phones, make a phone call. Kind words go a long way (but dinner and gift go even further).

Let’s be better about showing and giving love to those who put you before them. If they didn’t, you wouldn’t be here or there or wherever you’re currently at.

Call to Action: You probably didn’t miss Mother’s Day but if you did for whatever the reason, reach out to your mom, grandma, aunt, or whoever it might be that has made a lasting impact in your life.

Sweet Summer Heat

posted in: Film/TV, Life | 0

As I’ve stated before, I live in the Mojave Desert in Southern California where the sweltering temperatures of summer unapologetically push the thermometer up into triple digits.  We can usually expect seeing 99 hit 100 and beyond before midday.  If you are unaccustomed to this daily punishment, then I envy your gift of comfort.

You might ask, “Why not just invest in air conditioning?”  Well, you see, my friend, that is not always financially feasible.  And when you live in an apartment, the landlord doesn’t quite care if his or her tenants are comfortable.  We have swamp coolers for the cheaper option and while they work so long as humidity is absent (dry heat my left foot!), we often find ourselves in single layers, sipping ice water, and dreaming of rain.

One saving grace is the movie theater (yep, we got one of those!).  With the influx of summer blockbusters coming every Friday starting two weeks ago (Avengers: Infinity War post is coming soon), my wife and I hope to find ourselves in those old cushioned seats basking in air conditioning we don’t have to pay for.  But what about the baby you might ask?!  No worries.  He has grandparents that are more than willing to watch him for a couple of hours and allow mom and dad some alone time with strangers.

All this is to say you should expect some posts about said blockbusters throughout the summer.  Avengers, Solo: A Star Wars Story, Deadpool 2, Ocean’s 8, Incredibles 2, Ant-Man and the Wasp, and probably some others to name a few.  Should be a fun summer despite our feeble attempts at trying to keep our apartment cool.  Also, whoever said drinking hot coffee in the heat helps “cool” your body deserves a pox on their soulless body!  For me, I’ll stick with ice-cold beer.  Cheers!

Call to Action:  Throw out some films you’re looking forward to this summer.  Doesn’t have to be a blockbuster.  I’m a huge fan of indie films as well.

Coming-of-Age Thoughts/Lady Bird Review

posted in: Film/TV, Review, Storytelling | 2

There are certain stories I’m drawn to (more so in movies than books in this instance) where a young person’s journey from adolescence into adulthood is magnified.  They be best described as “coming-of-age” stories.  Usually in these films, we get a glimpse into a select moment and are shown who this young person is, what they desire, what they fear, etc.  These have a way of grasping my full attention for reasons I’ll explain if you so choose to keep reading.

The most recent experience I had was with the film “Lady Bird”, directed by Greta Gerwig and starring Saoirse Ronan.  The film takes place in Sacramento, CA in 2002.  Normally, I relate more to coming-of-age stories of boys (see “The Way Way Back” and “Boyhood”) but I found myself enjoying watching this young woman going through her senior in high school and preparing to go to college.  Mainly, my enjoyment has to with the fact that I was a senior in high school in 2002-03 in southern California (not Los Angeles) also.  Much of her struggles with school, classmates, and parents felt very visceral to me all the while the war in Iraq had just started and was often playing in the background of settings.  I remember those days so clearly.

Suffice to say “Lady Bird” gripped me instantly and since it was on my “Movies of 2017 to Watch” list, I was able to look past the immaturity of the main character and pick out subtle things I loved.  Most of those were references to the time and culture but they were enough to keep me engaged.  I don’t know if I’d recommend the movie to be honest.  It was okay but not grand (it absolutely reeked of whatever it is the Academy Award’s consider award-worthy).  I think 2016’s “The Edge of Seventeen” was far-superior film and much funnier (also having a female lead).

I don’t know why these kinds of films draw me in.  I don’t consider my own “coming-of-age” experience to be all that impressive.  I went to high school, graduated, went to college, delayed graduation by slacking and feeling uninspired, and then met my wife, finished my degree, established a career, and now have a baby.  It’s all very simple yet fulfilling.  These films however have much better highlights that involve conquering fears or making decisions not to be part of the status quo.  Then again, a film of my life would not attract much of an audience so I understand and appreciate the screenwriters who add drama and tension in order to push the main character a little closer to adulthood.

I think that’s the reason I am drawn to these kinds of films.  I enjoy watching the maturation of an individual especially when they realize adolescence is such a small part of life and the horrors of high school fade quickly.  Experiencing life is sweeter when stepping out from the social constructs of narrow expectation.

Call to Action: I threw out the names of a few coming-of-age films I like but I also recommend these as well:  Stand By Me, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, The Kings of Summer, and my favorite of all time:  The Breakfast Club.

Blog Reset

posted in: Editing/Revision, Life, Writing | 0

I’ve been off from blogging for a month now and ready to return.

My wife and I welcomed our first child into the world on April 16th at 8:02 in the AM.  He was 6 lbs 13 oz and is completely healthy much to our excitement.  We’ve settled into the routine of feeding, changing diapers, and figuring out how to sleep.  So far, we’re only fatigued every other day or so.  Also I have yet to be peed on but I have had the wonderful honor of pulling off soaked onesies more times than I can remember (I’ve even got some small rashes on my hands form washing them so much lately. Fun times!).

I’ve been off from work for three weeks now and wonder if I’ll be able to assimilate back into the workforce after spending so long away (I make it sound like months don’t I?) and I’m curious to see how it works out.  I can’t even get my head around parents who are able or have to go back to work the week of or even a week after a child’s birth.  Seriously, how?

I sent out the newest newsletter this week.  I’d love to attract more subscribers but I’m struggling to do so, often wondering if people are signing up but the plug-in I use is not informing me.  It seems to be having problems hence my sending the newsletter later than I wanted to.  I don’t know.  I need to look deeper into it.  Then again, maybe I just fail at marketing myself (there’s like a 50/50 chance this is the issue…).  I need a PR person who will work for free and just do it because they want to see me succeed.  (Send all resumes to my personal email if interested.)

I’m also trying to find more beta readers but having no luck so far.  Apparently, it’s not easy and for good reason.  I think about people having time to read and critique a book that is 200k+ words and I understand the lack of interest.  I’d like to get at least 2-3 more beta readers feedback before sending out my first agent query letter (at this rate, I’ll be looking at five to ten years from now).  I just really think I need more feedback on the story as a whole.  I still wonder if there are things that either don’t make sense or parts that need to be simplified.  So we will come to the CTA.

Call to Action:  If you are interested in being a beta reader for my book, So Speaks the Gallows, or if you have any resources that you could point me to, please feel to do so.  There is no waitlist.

Flash Fiction: A Legend’s Call

Kesree’s cottage slept as Damrin approached on foot, thankful to finally feel his feet and legs strong and not aching after a day of walking.  To the west, the great cliffs, the Brutes, split by the waterfall called the Silent Mother’s Tears roared.  Snowfall had been generous in recent months for the stream to be so high while he crossed over the foot bridge built by Kesree himself.

Inside the cottage there was nothing.  Hints of Kesree remained.  Touches of his brilliance when it came to his ability to trap the power of his Shoal, Temzda, and contain its affect on things both living and not.  Damrin did not mean to begin rummaging so freely and disrespectfully but in minutes, the floor and every other surface was soiled by his angered search.  Books and papers rained while writing apparatus spilled and stained.

The Shoalway opened outside and Damrin had little time to react, reaching but not touching Qorum.  At the window, he looked out to find an armor wearing Wielder just as their Shoalway closed, swirl of glass forever left on the ground.  Damrin recognized but did know the gray-haired man whose hatchet nose hooked down and beard was cut into a sharp square.

“Come out, Damrin Graeves,” the older man called.

Unblinking, dumb-founded like a small boy seeing a Wielder for the first time, Damrin stopped in the doorway until waved forward by the legend that is Barat Bladeveil.  “Sir?”

Bladeveil, the living legend among all the Holds, did not smile, jaw set in the most-earnest of manners.  He was the last living Shoal Sword, the knights of old—long gone from the world.  “Set aside whatever allegiances clasp your wrist.  Our oaths bind more than the feeble war tantrums made by the Hold Kings currently engaged in.  Our duty is to this world, to protect those who face threats they cannot hope to counter.”

The speech was delivered in such a way that Damrin found himself on his knees before the hero of old, forgetting why and what he came for in Kesree’s refuge.  “You want me?” he asked.

Crouching with ease, body not touched by time’s sting, Bladeveil reached out and touched Damrin’s shoulder.  “A Shoalway breach took place days ago and I need your help.  I know you by your reputation.”  His gray eyes looked past him at Kesree’s cottage.  “Kesree confided in me not two months ago.  You, he said, were one who could aid in dire times.”

The swell of pride in the words and request took the slightest cut as the threat registered in Damrin’s mind.  A breach?  If true, and he had no reason to question Barat Bladeveil, then his fury at Kesree did indeed not matter.  This war between the Holds grew small in his mind.  He had a duty to the Holds and he was going to stand alongside Barat Bladeveil, the last of the Shoal Swords, to see it through.

The Week of…

posted in: Life | 2

We’ve come to it then.  Even as I write this, knowing I will post this blog tomorrow, it could be the last before my baby hiatus.  I’m kind of chuckling because I don’t really have anything planned for the 6th thinking he will be here by then.  Both my wife and I are hopeful to be honest.  This waiting feels like when you’ve studied for a test and feel really good about it but you don’t actually take the test for a few more days (that old fun feeling).

I find it interesting how calm and collected I feel as we get closer.  All the reading, videos, and classes we’ve taken should account for some measure of preparedness right?  I already see him in later years, experiencing and growing in life.  To know we have a place in that guidance and in his own personal journey is quite the honor.  I think too often parents forget they are the most reliable resource a baby and child have until they can be independent.  Obviously, you do all that you can but there has to be this strange sense of separation, trusting your lessons will stretch beyond the boundaries of their childhood home.

(I did not see this post heading in this direction  Honest truth, lol.)

I’ve watched and observed fatherhood from a distance my whole life.  I’ve seen so many different kinds of dads and their “tactics”.  While I could argue the good and bad of many of those through different scenarios, I think the number one thing a father needs to be in order to be a good dad is simple: being present.  Not in the sense of being around.  Dads can be in the house and never be present.  My dad was on travel a lot growing up but he never seemed absent from the house when he was home.  He did chores and projects (doing his best to get me off my keester and away from video games) and included me from time to time.  Who’s with me that pulling weeds is the absolute worst?!  Ugh, I hate pulling weeds but I did them.  Still though, my dad was there and I could talk to him even if I didn’t want or know how to (it gets better and easier as you get older of course).

Even now, I look at my wife and our day to day and seriously have these thoughts about how any day now, it’s going to change.  Children change things between a husband and wife.  Not for the bad.  As a team, the load should never be too much for either parent.  There’s a selflessness that is expected and should be evident in both lives.  Partners to the end.  My wife and I often talk about how we make a great team and that we fit well together.  I have no fear of parenthood because she is there with me and I know she is more than capable of being a good mother.  Nothing could convince me otherwise.

I plan on this being my last blog post before my break and I want to leave you all with the notion that there is excitement and peace in our house.  Pregnancy is an amazing journey for first time parents.  We’ve had to make choices and absolutely understand the weight of the responsibility but I assure you we do not take it lightly or for granted.  The privilege we have in being a part of our son’s development and growth into a person who will impact and influence others cannot be ignored.

(Did it get a bit too heavy at the end there?  I feel like it did.  I rushed it, I know.)

Call to Action:  Send us thoughts and prayers!  We will gladly accept them!  Love you all!  And don’t forget to sign up for the newsletter.  It will be going out at the end of the month.

Flash Fiction: A Morning for Mourning

After long days of rituals leading to her choosing a husband, Hijeneva awoke to the screams, mistaking them at first to be the ceremonial raised voices of the women of the Ajjuun.  She stirred herself, rubbing sleep from her eyes, unsure of the hour.  In two days she was expected to put her suitors through the trials.  The items taken from the dead god were ready to be tested and she was ready to see the truth behind each.

The screams told her something horrible was taking place in the witching hour.  The soft gray glow of the sky from her maiden hut window suggested the sun was less than an hour from waking the rest of the world.  She pushed herself up from her sleeping mat, dressed, and grabbed her shield and spear.  She considered the god’s items for a moment.  Should she risk it?  Perhaps it was an attack by the Shygua.  If so, her people needed help.  Due to the dead god, the Ajjuun had lost too many of their young warriors.  No, she resisted the urge, fearing the unknown could kill her just by touching the items.  More screams pulled her to the early dawn.  Outside, she found chaos.

Running past her drowsy vision and fighting in the shadows, the Ajjuun were in disarray.  Hijeneva stepped forward but stopped when her foot fell further than she expected.  She crouched, hand touching the print.  Three toes she counted but something else—a swishing mark, suggesting a heavy tail—stamped the earth with a weight suggesting great size.  What could have made the print?

Out of the corner of her eye, Hijeneva reacted in time but still bore the brunt of the strike.  Something heavy clipped her shoulder but found its full impact in her hut’s wall.  Pain broke her fall as she slid against the earth.  Her shield twisted her fingers, breaking at least two.  Her spear was gone.

Something moved in closer from where the flung object struck her.  Frantic and in pain, she moved her shield to her other hand, ready to defend.  Her dazed eyes caught the outline of a gray, slick form with too many eyes to be real.  A sound she thought was high-pitched, sinister laughter interrupted her pounding ears.  Nearby torchlight touched the blade of a tiil inches away from her.

The creature advanced, revealing two legs of three clawed toes and a balancing tail at its rear.  Hijeneva rolled, threw her shield like an over-sized bowl, and took up the tiil, recognizing its distinct quality and stabbed greedily at the flesh of her attacker as it swayed in recovery from her shield striking it.  Her screams of pain and anger ripped through the new day in what would surely be a morning for mourning.

The Calm

posted in: Life | 0

I have to be honest today…  I’m not quite sure what to blog about.  The due date is fast approaching and I’m on high alert every day.  I know that at any moment my wife could call me at work and tell me contractions have started.  Where movies from my past will have fully deceived me, this does not mean I freak out, grab my things, and race home.  Nope, I calmly nod and forget what to do in response.

Let me gripe a bit about this deception.  The movie, Father of the Bride: Part 2, is a childhood favorite of mine.  We owned it on VHS (yep, dating myself) and my family watched it a lot.  We were big Steve Martin fans in our household (how could we not?!).  If you’re not familiar with it, Steve Martin’s character, George Banks, has to navigate through a midlife crisis when he finds out his newly married daughter (see Father of the Bride: Part 1 for more) breaks the news of being pregnant.  Shortly after, he finds out his own wife is pregnant which leads to great hilarity.  Seriously, there are some truly quotable lines to be stockpiled.

Based on the great amount of information I’ve learned about pregnancy, labor, and birth, I am rolling my eyes at what was “taught” to me about these things by movies and television shows.  I get it of course.  Conflict and drama are needed so they are manufactured for our viewing enjoyment.  As we all know though, real life follows a less scripted path.

My wife and I have a specific birthing plan and we are definitely not in a constant state of anxiety.  We’ve done the research and practical preparation necessary to make this a smooth process.  This does however put us in a state of “calm before the storm” sort of way, lol.  That storm being the day our family goes from two to three.

You can expect a similar thought towards movies and television when we get into the toddler years of our little boy.  I know all about the terrible twos but I’m an optimist by nature (always been a glass half full kind of guy).  So, I will believe, trust, and have faith that the “horror” stories are not my or my wife’s cup to bear.  Trials and difficulties are a given because there will be unforeseen things that fall in our path but nothing we can’t handle.

The calm is here but won’t last.  Hope you all have a great week!  At any moment, I could sign off for my baby blog break.

Call to Action:  I’m hoping April 1st will be the big day so please join me in my hope.  I can only begin to imagine the shenanigans that can be gotten into if my son’s birthday is April Fool’s Day.

What to Write?

I’ve been watching the writing business from afar for a few months now (like fifteen+ months if I’m being honest) and I’ve been keeping close eye on the fantasy genre.  Mostly, I do this because I’m curious as to what is coming out.  I’m especially curious about the kind of fantasy getting published.

I guess the risk in this is being influenced to touch a specific kind of fantasy or subgenre just to be relevant or “buy worthy”.  I never wanted to do this as I grew as a writer but anytime you write a genre, some of those traditional or cliche elements bleed through.  It happens and there’s balance that I have to find.

For myself, I love the genre but have always followed the advice, “Write what you want to read,” first.  I admit wanting to explore other genres but I find myself encouraged and excited to hit the keyboard every day.  If nothing else, I think I need to keep on that path.

Little side note, I was working on my book yesterday and finally put in some much-needed fixes for my magic system.  For nine years I have sort of known about this problem and overlooked it.  Not because I just waved it away but because I trusted the solution would present itself.  I didn’t know it would be so many years but it finally came.  There’s a long exhale that comes when something glaring in the whole story finally gets fixed by your own hand and not by someone you’re trying to impress, hahaha!

Things are sharpening and shapening up.  A few more things on my list to do.  It’s a marathon that I plan to finish.  I’m a bit slower than I hoped but I hold steady.

Call to Action:  Whoa dang… we are a week and a half away from baby time.  I’m asking for prayers and encouragement for patience these last few days.  Go ahead and include my wife in there too.  She’s ready for this baby boy to be out!

Life’s Subtle Snaps

We are two weeks away from the due date for our baby boy to join us.  The wait has been both fast and slow depending on the day.  My wife and I are anxiously being patient.  I feel like bragging on my wife a bit (I enjoy doing so whenever I can).  She has been amazing throughout the whole pregnancy.  Not only has she not experienced any morning sickness and barely any nausea (I keep my hard-boiled eggs far from her, hahaha!), but she has maintained a continuous healthy lifestyle throughout.  I have not made any midnight runs to Taco Bell or Baskin Robbins (honestly, if you know her, it would be the end of the world for her to even have the slightest bit of temptation for these things).  Besides her being too hot at night and eating all of our almonds and cashews, there have been no problems.  She’s been amazing in every way.

We think we’re as prepared as we can be all things considered.  The nursery is mostly put together and I still need to assemble the bassinet and install the car seat in the car, but we’re getting close to the finish line.  Life is good and this new season for us is strictly reserved for devoting ourselves to being the best parents we can be.  Everything else is taking a bit of a backseat on the priority list.

Even in this though, I need to maintain sanity and peace.  I find these best in doing the things I love.  Books, movies, and music remain my points of solidarity.  Writing is in there too but you all know that.

I’m currently reading a few books that may or may not end up on my April Newsletter (sign up if you haven’t yet).  Included in this list is Nicolas Eames’s Kings of the Wyld, which is a fantasy book I can only describe as part grimdark and part humor.  Eames does some interesting things with the genre and my lack of details should tell you it will more than likely be reviewed in full in my newsletter.  Other than that, I’ve gone through a few audiobooks that were okay but nothing that blew my hair back.  I do have an audiobook that I am extremely excited about called Cardboard Gods and deals with the author’s telling his story through his collection of baseball cards.  If you don’t remember, I have been collecting sports cards most of my life and I have a great desire to listen to his story.

For movies, I’ve still been trying to watch several films from 2017 that have gotten a lot of attention during the awards season.  I haven’t seen very many that I thought lived up to the acclaim.  One I did recently watch though that I thought was an amazing film was Wind River.  It is not an easy film to watch and recommend you be aware that the content is for adults.  The acting is superb by all the actors and the cinematography is exquisite.  If you like crime drama/thrillers, I highly recommend it.  Other than that, my wife and I have been revisiting movies from our youth.  Steven Spielberg’s Hook brought us back to childhood bliss and we quoted the movie, recalling how much Robin Williams was a master at what he did best: bringing joy and laughter wherever he went.

When it comes to music, I am all over the place.  Sometimes, I get pulled into a particular genre or artist and do not stop listening for weeks.  Recently, I’ve been glued to Haim’s “Something to Tell You” album as well as anything X Ambassadors puts out (I am counting down the days until their new album “Joyful” is released).  I can never pin down what in music captures my heart.  Believe it or not, I don’t think I could ever review a song or album, which I’ll simply explain is due to my lack of music theory understanding.  I like what I like.

Other than all this, I’m staying busy with my day job and various other things.  My wife has been good about keeping me patient and encouraged with my book, reminding me that I shouldn’t put pressure on myself to do things that would prevent me from being present with her and our son.  I agree and will continue to work, being okay if my plans get pushed out.  I still have time.

Call to Action:  Just a reminder that I will be stepping back from writing after this month.  I will do posts every five days with the first coming on the 5th of the month.  However, I will be taking two weeks off from writing anything when the baby is born.  So, if the baby is born April 4th (his actual due date), I will not post until the 20th.  Make sure to sign up for the newsletter though.  I fully intend to send that out April 30th to subscribers.

Sunday Levity: Book Store Signs

posted in: Books, Life, Reading, Sunday Levity | 4


I’ve decided if I ever own a business, it will be a bookstore. I may even look at investing in a bookstore when I retire.  If I do, it will be vibrant with sarcasm, puns, and general book humor.  You know it will.  Put it in the ground, pour water on it, and let the sun shine, I will own a bookstore when I retire.

Also, I will have a coffee bar, writing corner for writers, and plenty of reading nooks and couches.  Invest now!

Godless Review: No Spoilers

posted in: Film/TV, Review | 0

I have a strange relationship with westerns.  I didn’t grow up watching them and would probably consider Kevin Costner’s “Wyatt Earp” (a whopping 3 hr film) my first real exposure to the genre (I still have a love for this film that most people don’t.  I blame it on the fact that Tombstone was rated R and therefore I was not allowed to watch it back in the early 90s).  Over the years, though, I’ve watched more westerns and grown to enjoy the genre as a whole, but only if it has a few key elements.

Netflix’s “Godless” encapsulates everything I want as a viewer.  It has grit and grime of what I consider a great western.  Sometimes, westerns don’t feel right to me.  I expect and imagine frontier life was not clean or easy.  Sometimes, westerns feel too…shiny.  Instead, I want to feel every piece of granule of discomfort that I believe life was back during that time.  Few luxuries could be found.  “Godless” delivers on all fronts.

Set mostly in New Mexico back in the late 1800s, we are introduced to territory that is for lack of a better word, godless.  The law is sparse as the military is spread thin over the west and outlaws run rampant.  The most notorious is Frank Griffon.  With a group of twenty plus men, he is searching for Roy Goode who betrayed him and stole a great deal of money from the group.  Frank is injured and forced to hold off his search while Roy runs.

Most of the story takes place in the small mining town of La Belle where the population was cut in half a year prior when all the men who worked in the town’s mine died due to an accident.  Made up now of mostly women, children, and a few older men, the town is struggling financially.  We are introduced to a great many characters who round out a strong cast.  Aside from the beautiful cinematography and great casting, it’s the weight of the conflict that drives the story.

Every major and even some of the minor characters are fleshed out very well.  You sympathize with several (good or bad) and find yourself engrossed in what will happen.  The show takes several twists and turns, leaving you shocked that what you expected of a western is not the case.  Like I said, I want to feel every granule of sand and gunpowder and “Godless” throws it at you.  The action is felt more than just watched.

As for inspiring me as a writer, there were small elements for character building that I latched onto.  Just small details that I noticed and even if I pointed that out as something that is perfect for characters development, some people might look at me like I was a nerd (and I am but that’s besides the point).

I would be absolutely fine and satisfied with only one season of “Godless” and it ends in a manner that closes out the show in a satisfying way.  However, I would not hesitate to watch more of this unforgiving world.  If you are a fan of shows like Deadwood or Hell on Wheels, you’ll enjoy this one.

Call to Action:  I’m looking for beta readers for my book.  If interested, please let me know.  If you know of anyone who has done good work as a beta reader for other writers, please pass the word along.  It helps if you are well-read but you do not necessarily need to be a huge fan of fantasy.  Thanks!

Bitter Truths: Self-Editing

Just as it has taken years for me to learn and find my writing voice, it takes just as much time to find the self-editor’s touch.  I wrote a post last year about my editing process and as I’ve gotten further into the process, getting closer to looking for an agent, I’ve learned a few things that expand that process.  Sometimes, I forget that it’s never as cut and dry as I would hope.

I know what it is to pay a professional editor to put their hand on my writing but when dealing with a manuscript of 250k+ words, you can easily see why financially, it’s near impossible for me to take that course.  The cheapest editor I found was cents per word.  It adds up quick (trust me).  So, I have to trust my own abilities and also that of the few beta readers I’ve been able to work with.

Besides just the grammatical issues a writer has to deal with (run-on sentences, comma splices, split infinitives, etc.), I have to focus on consistency throughout the story and its three major viewpoints.  I have close to 50 secondary characters who speak (a rough guess on that number) and maybe double the number of tertiary characters who are mentioned by description and limited dialogue.  Not only do I need to make sure all of these maintain their descriptive elements, but there’s also the customs, history, and societies that have to be consistent.  As you can imagine, this is time consuming when editing.

Hence, my delay and taking longer than expected to begin sending out my query letters.  Not to mention the arrival of our first born in less than a month.  By the way, I’m not complaining about any of this.  I just wanted to make clear why things are moving slower than I had hoped when laying out my goals at the beginning of the new year.  It’s tough but not heartbreaking, hahaha.  I’ll adjust and get to these writing goals when I can.

It’s not crazy or even hard to admit that once the baby joins us, I will re-prioritize.  He will be number one and he should be.  I have waited a long time to be a father and not even my dream of being published would interfere with my heart and desire to be a capable and good father.  In fact, I trust that timing and seasons are always meant for my well-being and growth.  Entering parenthood now (so close to finishing and being satisfied with my novel) will have an impact on me as a person and therefore on me as a writer.

Call to Action:  I finally finished the show, Godless, on Netflix.  Check it out!  Highly recommended.  In fact, I think my next blog post will be a full review.

Forever Re-watchable – When Harry Met Sally

posted in: Film/TV, Review, Storytelling | 2

When Harry Met Sally is a film I never watched as a kid (for good reason since it’s subject matter is best reserved for adults).  All I knew about it was the infamous restaurant scene (you know the one).  So it was never on my radar growing up but I eventually found it when I got older and once I did, I have faithfully watched it at least 2-3 times a year.

Let’s go over the premise.  Two newly graduated college students who don’t know each other but are moving to New York City to pursue very different career paths wind up driving from Chicago to the Big Apple.  Along the way, they realize they are very different and do not foresee any chance of a relationship.

Over the next several years, they cross paths, catch up on life, and separate once again.  After they both have failed long term relationships, they cross paths in a bookstore (there is no better place to meet people) and begin spending time together, letting a friendship grow naturally.  There’s a mutual understanding that neither is interested romantically as they each pursue separate relationships.

Well, as fate (and a bit of natural biology) would have it, things change and love blossoms.  Honestly, if this a spoiler, it’s your own fault that you haven’t treated yourself to this gem of a film.  Love comes and we see these friends we’ve been rooting for the entire film finally end up together.

I can’t remember my exact age when I watched this great movie for the first time but I’m sure it was during my film revival era (see my previous post O Brother Where Art Thou?).  I remember being captivated by the characters and their journey to love.  The acting by stars Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan simply make this film work.  The direction by Rob Reiner and writing by Nora Ephron are just as superb but without the chemistry of Crystal and Ryan, this movie doesn’t last and maintain its longevity.

On rainy days, this is the movie my wife and I turn to.  For whatever the reason, the setting of New York City always seems like Fall.  This aesthetic is like a secondary character.  The colors of Autumn lead us along the advancement of Harry and Sally’s long season of friendship.  All you need is a blanket and a hot beverage (preferably coffee) to cuddle and laugh.

Quotability.  This film is rife with quotable lines.  If you know me and spend any long amount of time with me, then you know I love to quote movies (I’m not the greatest at the quote game but I love to play).  From the obscure quotes like, “You know, I have a theory that hieroglyphics are just an ancient comic strip about a character named Sphinxy,” to the best known, “I’ll have what she’s having”, there are too many moments to mention without just putting the movie on.

Call to Action:  If you haven’t seen When Harry Met Sally, I highly recommend it.  If you have, then I highly recommend you watch it on a rainy day.

Blog Changes Announcement

After giving it some extended consideration, I’ve decided to make some changes to my blog post schedule.  While I’ve enjoyed providing roughly ten blog posts a month, that number will be cut in half starting next month.  The simple reason is I will have a newborn and I cannot quite determine or guess what my schedule and capacity will be for producing posts on a regular basis.

So, starting in April I will be posting every fifth day of the month (5, 10, 15, etc.).  Nothing else will change.  You all will continue to get my musings on writing, storytelling, films, and so on.  The Shoals to the Hallowed flash fiction posts will continue to be posted on the last post of the month.

Also, with the end of April fast approaching, I will be working on the first newsletter of the year.  You can definitely expect baby news in that one, hahaha!  And at least a dozen pics of cuteness!

As for my book, life and its interruptions have slowed my plans.  Often, and other writers can attest to this, our schedules are somewhat cracked and tossed about like a ball by the unexpected.  My last bit of editing touches have taken longer and some minor additional fixes need to be in place before I’m satisfied with it.

The goal for the year remains to be agent querying and I am working at getting there.  My wife and I have even bought a desk for the living room where I plan on seating myself in order to focus my mind.  I’ve noticed I struggle to stay focused if I remain on the couch while trying to work.  Even if the tv is off, I think I associate that position with fixed relaxation rather than active creation.

I’m continually thankful to everyone who reads, comments, and encourages me as I pursue my dream of publication.  You help me push forward.

Call to Action: Seeing as how there will be fewer bits of content in the future, I am pushing my newsletter more.  There may be more meat in it seeing as how I will want to make it more appealing.  So, if you haven’t signed up for it and want to get exclusive book reviews and Shoals to the Hallowed short stories that specifically to fill the gaps in the flash fiction, please sign up!  It’s easy and free!

Black Panther Review – No Spoilers

posted in: Film/TV, Review, Storytelling | 0

Every year, the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) expands further and deeper.  We are currently in the thralls of Phase 3 with the end of that phase, Infinity War (Part 1 and 2), fast approaching.  Since Iron Man hit theaters in the early 2000s, we’ve received new characters with unique and interesting back stories, conflicts, and victories each new year.  Some of these stories delve heavily into the Infinity Stone arc, which will act as the finale of Phase 3 and toss us into Phase 4 (however it all ends, who can say?).

Black Panther is the most recent of the MCU titles and we are launched into a fascinating world that has not been seen but has been alluded to.  In Captain America: Civil War (or Avengers 2.5 as I like to call it), we are introduced to T’Challa who is the son of the king of the fictional African nation of Wakanda.  T’Challa’s father is killed in an explosion and we get our first look at the Black Panther as he pursues and looks to apprehend the man responsible for killing his father.  We don’t get much else of a backstory for Black Panther but the introduction does what it needs to: get us excited and interested in the new character.

My wife and I took in Black Panther opening weekend and we both really enjoyed the film.  It was not so much an origin story as it was a continuation of what happened in Civil War.  We were introduced to a beautiful and vibrant world in the Wakanda setting.  Several tribes of distinct peoples allow us to see the inner workings of the history and culture.  We see technology that has been widely kept secret in order to keep the countries resources from being spread to the outside world (mainly for military purposes).  Finally, we are exposed to a power struggle of self when a new king is forced to make difficult decisions and question whether or not the way of the past is the right way to proceed into the future.

Visually, the movie is stunning.  We get both strong and conflicted characters (male and female are equally portrayed, which is always a pleasure).  The action is fast and visceral.  Humor falls in place when needed and does not feel forced to add levity when it’s not needed.  The villains are memorable and just as conflicted as the heroes.  My only gripe has to do with the CGI.  Sometimes, it does not feel as seamless as you would hope in the final cut of a film of this caliber.  Maybe a bit nitpicky but I did notice it a few times)

Overall, I really enjoyed the film and messages it conveyed.  The importance of family and fathers was especially poignant.  Just like last year’s Coco, I cannot help but be drawn into a story that explores the need for family and remembering where you came from.  As we gear up towards Infinity War with stories focused on broader levels, it is always refreshing to see these more condensed stories.  We need more of them and I hope they continue to be made and shared.

Call to Action:  You know what I’m going to say here!  Go see it!  Judge for yourself.  Don’t be led one way or another on films just because of critics.  If you’re initially drawn and interested, take a friend or loved one to the cinema for a few hours.

Flash Fiction: Shoal Cursed

Cursed.  There could be no greater punishment than to be Shoal cursed.  The Shoals were an enigma even after centuries of use by the Wielders.  Books were written and burned, corrected and ink-blotted.  Some claimed the Shoals could not be properly studied or analyzed due to their volatility.  None, not even the most elder and strongest of Wielders in history dared spend more than a few minutes in their Shoal for fear of madness, death, or worse.

Therefore, the practice of Shoalways and cuts–the smallest openings necessary to wield the harbored power–were all that was allowed.  Not even the maddest of Wielders would dare risk oblivion to the world by creating a rift in the fabric between realms.  Shoals themselves were volatile and treacherous yet somehow, for some reason, the Hallowed allowed such interference.  Was there an answer to why?

Oran sat in the alleyway with his back pressed into the jagged stone wall, alone in the early morning, quarreling with himself over this matter.  His mind was a stall of angry bulls kicking and gorging wherever they could to come out the victor.  His clothes were little more than tatters after weeks of running and hiding from enemies.  His stink was enough to make the dogs sniff and leave him alone.  Food had to be stolen unless he risk returning to his home.

The streets of Breshtk carried no truths to the whereabouts and condition of Queen Erise.  Rumors dripped with uncertainty and dubious details.  She was seen alive in the village of Bolle or dead, executed by a mob of angry farmers on the Trader’s Road.  One rumor even claimed she returned to the palace accompanied by a small cadre of Wielders, killing everyone due to Shoal madness.  Oran deciphered no truth from any of the stories.

He had to find her.  The Wielder, Delya Glasene, could not be trusted.  He convinced himself of that now.  His duty called him beyond this impasse.  Destiny demanded his action.  He stood, looking out into the busy square.  None so much as glanced his way.  To their uncaring eyes, he was another beggar.  Not the Breshtk Battle Lord, Oran Ki’Tanil.

The rumors needed to be sifted through.  He needed viable information to move beyond the uncertainty.  He flexed his hands, stretched his arms, legs, and back before considering his lone belongings.  Bundled in scraps of firewood, his named swords lay in wait despite his fear of touching them.  Shoal-cursed things should not be handled carelessly.

In Search of a Quiet Place

Why is it so hard to find a quiet place, absent of all other people of the human race?  You’d think I could find a spot where I can sit down with my book and read it out loud without another soul within listening distance.  Alas (yes, I use this word often), it seems forever unattainable.

You might be asking why this is so important to me.  Seems kind of silly to be obsessed (your word, not mine) to find a place of seclusion.  Well, it’s part insecurity on my part and part the need for peace as I audibly dissect what I’ve written, only ever hearing it in the echo dome of my head so far.  Hearing my story out loud is just another step towards polishing it before sending out those inquiry letters to agents.

The next question one might ask is what my ideal location would be to endure this endeavor?  I’ve been thinking about this for over a week and I think the best I can come up with is a space with sunlight, quality air flow, a kitchen, and as much coffee and donuts as I can stomach.  Okay, okay.  No donuts.  I don’t need those delicious morsels of self-hatred (that’s my special name for donuts whenever I succumb to their temptation).  I keep thinking a basement or office space would work for my reading needs but that’s only because I don’t have access to a cabin out in the woods (too many horror movies prevent me from going in search of such a place).

So I’m still working on it.  I can’t do this in the peace and quiet of my own apartment because I have a neighbor above us who finds it his sole purpose in life to watch tv all day and speak in volumes usually reserved for professional sporting events.  Oh, and he has a lady friend who is equally loud to which every time I hear her laugh I ask what’s that sound and my wife says, “Those are the shrieking eels”.

I’m open to ideas.  If anyone has a basement, attic, and/or guest house they don’t mind me vacating for free for a few hours at a time, I would be forever grateful.  Tell you what, I’ll offer you a once in a lifetime Amazon gift card for your graciousness too.  Only caveat is you have to buy a book(s) with it.  HA!

Call to Action:  If you have any other suggestions for me, feel free to share.  I’m not quite desperate yet but I’m fast approaching!

So Long Rut!

See, it goes away sometimes faster than it comes.  The writing rut has dissipated and I’m back to feeling productive.  Unfortunately, I have been hit by a minor cold, so I’ve tired and going to bed earlier than normal.

The final touches on my current draft of my book are taking longer than expected (big shocker there).  My wife and I have been putting baby things as priority one and they need to be.  Preparing for the baby’s arrival continues to require more planning and preparation than I expected but I think it’s been good for us.  We’re making room and getting ourselves mentally prepared as well.

We started birth classes and I’ve been learning a ton.  Like, seriously, birth is more than what the movies and tv show you (another shocker, I know).  We’ve got to make a birthing plan, get furniture, clothes, and all the other baby accoutrement as well.  It’s a not a simple endeavor, which I guess doesn’t surprise me.  This little person is introduced to the world and we are tasked to make sure it survives, grows, and strengthens until it can be a self-sufficient entity.  No pressure, right?

I also had the fun experience of watching childbirth videos last week.  We are planning on doing a natural childbirth at a birthing center and after watching the differences between a hospital birth and birthing center birth, I get the appeal.  To each their own, I’m just surprised the more I learn about the process and benefits of one over the other.

So we’re a few weeks away from our new roommate’s arrival and we’re getting more and more excited.  I am preparing as best as I can for being elbows deep into diapers, vomit, and lack of sleep.  I’ve wanted kids for a long time and at 33, I’m ready to say hello to parenthood.

Call to Action:  I watched Shape of Water in my pursuit to watch the more recognized and acclaimed movies of 2017.  Yeah, I didn’t get this one.  It was a somewhat original story.  The aesthetics were probably the best part while the acting was good as well but I don’t see the Best Picture there.  Anybody else see it?  If so, help me see where I missed it.

Reading Goals for 2018

posted in: Books, Fantasy, Reading | 2

Aside from my writing and life goals for the year, I also have a reading goal.  I know I’ve mentioned it before, but I use Goodreads.com to track the books I read for the year.  It’s an amazing site and provides so much great information on books.  I can get lost looking through the recommended sections because they provide many suggestions of books that are not bestsellers or mainstream titles.

This year, I’ve dropped my goal from 50 books to 30 books.  But I don’t want to just read 30 random books.  I want to expand on the quality of books I’m reading.  No matter what, I can read fantasy.  It’s not even hard for me to find books in my preferred genre but I continue to think and encourage myself to read more outside of my comfort and preference.

Last year, I was happy to explore more contemporary fiction and biographies.  I was pleasantly surprised by some of the books I read and if you are signed up for my newsletter, you saw many of those reviewed and recommended.  (Also, you should sign up for my newsletter if you haven’t yet.)

This year, I’d like to include some classic literature into my reading.  There are tons of titles to choose from so I will have quite a few to pick through.  Whether it’s Dickens or Hemingway, I’d like to read books from eras I’m not familiar with and see what I can glean from them as a modern day writer.  What lessons can I learn?  What can I learn from their use of language?  Can I find something to implement into my own writing?  These are all viable questions and I think there’s a sense of honoring those who came before me that I’ve never taken advantage of before.  It would be a crime not to dive into the pages of the classics just because I might believe there’s nothing to be gained, which is unabashedly not true.  With a little opening of my mind, I think I can come away appreciating the history of fiction.

Call to Action: Throw a recommendation at me!  I promise you, I haven’t read much when it comes to the classics besides Shakespeare’s plays.  I’m open to everything!

Nothing to Say Here

posted in: Editing/Revision, Life, Writing | 0

Sometimes I run into a wall and struggle to write.  I don’t think it’s writer’s block.  Instead, it’s a lack of inspiration or desire to write.  This is not the first time and it won’t be the last.  For whatever the reason (one day, I’ll figure out the cause and give it a good kickin’) I look at the page whether it’s blank or full and just say, “Meh…”.

Now, I’ve come across other writers on social media who describe this similar phenomena.  It’s nice to know I’m not the only one and there are quotes upon quotes of encouraging words out there to lend a helping hand to writers struggling to do what they love.  Sometimes these words help me but sometimes they leave me unmoved.

I don’t know if there’s any sure way to push through the funk, but I’ve found that I personally need to let it run its course.  The moment of inspiration will come and I’ll feel propelled, set afire to get to typing.  Until then, though, I’ve learned to simply let myself be okay with not being the typing terror (worst super villain name ever) that I’ve been the last few months.  The mind and creative muscles need a break and I think it’s healthy to allow a little reprieve now and again.

This does affect my editing plans a bit but blogging helps me micro-stretch my writing muscles.  I’m reading and listening to music and podcasts in the meantime, hoping inspiration will come.  I also wonder if my mind is preoccupied with other things (a mere seven weeks away from our new roommates arrival!).  The goal remains the same for the year but I’m not one to think I need to lay down strict red lines (aka deadlines) to meet those goals.  Sure, sooner rather than later is important but I also need to be aware of my need to take breaks and rest in the writing process.

Call to Action:  Don’t forget to do your taxes (bet you didn’t expect that one!).

Keeping Focused Through Busyness

posted in: Film/TV, Life, Writing | 2

Yes, it’s February and I’m “behind”.  I need to be better about not saying I want to have X finished or done by X.  It doesn’t seem to work for me and I feel like a fool afterwards.  I should simply state my goals without dates attached.

I am still working on my book and finishing up the final polishes while preparing my list of agents to query.  Everything is moving forward on that front and I’m still going through the “read out loud” stage of the book but it’s a slower process than I realized (shocker, I know).

Other than all that, I was a bit busy towards the end of the month helping relocate my grandparents from my hometown to Vegas.  This was not emotional at the time (I had the mindset of it needing to be done and I wanted to help my parents out as much as I could, which called for me to go to Vegas).  Now, it is a bit more emotional as I look at their house (the only one I’ve ever known) stripped of everything that was them.  All the furniture, wall décor, etc.  I might need to do a separate blog post about my relationship with my grandparents.  That one will be even more emotional and would require some personal details (no promises, but maybe).

The move went smooth but it also meant my wife and I were not able to work on the apartment purge and preparation we’ve been working on for the baby.  Speaking of the baby, we are two months away!  Whoa…  How?

Have I mentioned yet that getting everything you need for a baby is a daunting task for first time parents?  All you parents out there are nodding and saying, “Just you wait.”  I get it!  Well, we are having a heck of a time with this but I trust in our ability to prepare.  My wife is an amazing researcher and very good at finding the best quality (seriously, why would you not want to find, get, and hope for the best for your kids?).  I admit, I’m not the best when it comes to researching for products.  I look at consumer reports and I get a headache pretty quickly.  But I’m baby stepping (pun!) through this process.

The baby shower is also fast approaching, which will be fun.  Then my sister will be coming into town at the end of the month and that’s always a good time.  The obligatory Nacho Libre quote comes to mind:  “My life is good. Real good.”

Call to Action:  While in Vegas, I found the time to watch Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.  It’s up for Best Picture and seems to be a frontrunner for the award.  It’s a rough movie at times but very well done.  Beautiful and graphic.  I get why it’s getting praise and recognition.  I would not put it in my Top Ten of 2017 Movies list but I will say it was an amazing film with powerful performances.

Another Superb Owl Watched

posted in: Film/TV, Life, Music, Sports | 1

I’ve been a fan of sports ever since I can remember.  I have vivid memories of watching Michael Jordan and the Bulls winning the NBA Championship in 1993, the 49ers (my favorite football team) winning the Super Bowl in 1995, and the Atlanta Braves winning the World Series in 1995.  I’ve followed all the major sports at one point or another in my life and depending on the decade, have a ridiculous amount of sports trivia logged away in my brain where math and science should be stored.

I watched the Super Bowl this last Sunday and found myself feeling okay with the outcome either way.  This was mostly because neither team is the 49ers so I’m not invested.  The game was exciting and I enjoyed the commercials (more funny and apolitical make for better ads in my opinion).  I drank 805 and had some very tasty chili a friend of mine made (I’ll happily mention she requested my own chili recipes for guidance).  What’s better than that?

I haven’t talked much about sports on my blog, focusing mostly on writing and storytelling but I want to branch out more this year.  I’m fairly certain those of you who come to read my blog posts won’t mind if I stray into other topics.  As I’ve said before, to know me is to read me.  I don’t think you can know me unless you understand sports have a special place in my heart.  I played basketball in a city league and in school most of my life and while basketball was my preferred sport, I have strayed more to football and baseball in recent years.

I love talking sports with others.  I take pride in my ability to understand the rules, history, and cultural impact sports have in our lives.  I’ve often joked that there is nothing more divisive in the world than religion, politics, and sports.  You know them.  Those people who are such die-hard fans that they ooze fandom, secreting love for their team and vitriol for every other team.

I admit, I was one of these fans a few years back when the 49ers became very prevalent and had a great team again.  I have apologized to my wife since then because I was quite the turd if my team lost and far too emotionally invested in their success.  After a few bad years recently, I’ve realized my unhealthy fandom and hopefully righted the ship.  That is until they’re good again…and they might be this next season (Jimmy GQ!).

What I find so interesting is how sports shape us.  As children, the game is fun and we learn how to be team players (hopefully).  We get to run around outside and compete and learn some valuable social skills in the process.  In adulthood, many of us realize we will probably not play professionally and we live vicariously through our favorite players and/or teams.  For me, sports can serve as more than entertainment and I hope to teach my kids that once they’re old enough to make a decision to play sports or not.  Until then, I

Call to Action:  Those fricking Tide ads won the Super Bowl.  Watch and enjoy one of my favorites!

Forever Re-watchable: O Brother, Where Art Thou?

posted in: Film/TV, Review | 2

I love talking about movies (if you’ve followed my blog for any amount of time, you’ll have guessed that).  One great thing about movies for me is how re-watchable they are.  There are some that I can watch once (looking at you Fight Club and every Tarantino film ever) and be fine with never seeing it again.  Then there are those others that are gems in my eyes.  I can always watch them.  It doesn’t matter my mood or the day, throw it on the flat screen and I’m willing to lend precious hours of the day to it.

This kind of post will likely become a new monthly staple because I think the movies that are your favorites say a lot about you.  The movies that are most re-watchable for me can be for any number of reasons and it’s not limited to popular comedies or action movies.  If you were to look at my movie collection, you’d nod in agreement, shake your head in bewilderment, and want to smack me at the sight of too many Michael Bay films (13 Hours is a brilliant film that I will never apologize for having in my collection).

As you already know by the title, “O Brother, Where Art Though” is one of the most re-watchable movies for me.  It might surprise you though that I avoided it when it first came out in 2000.  There were multiple reasons for this.  I was a freshman in high school and truly lacked any sensible taste in movies, I was not a fan of George Clooney who I had only previously seen in the nightmare that was Batman and Robin (holy bat-nipples Batman!), and I didn’t like the “Man of Constant Sorrows” song (my taste in music was up there in my taste of movies in the year 2000:  Sour and bitter, lol).

So, it wasn’t until after high school circa 2004-05ish that I finally saw the film.  I was at my grandparents’ house while a bunch of extended family was in town for a holiday (probably Thanksgiving or Christmas) and the decision was made to watch a movie.  Now, my grandparents didn’t have many movies.  In fact, I am fairly certain they possessed two movies in my entire lifetime:  Fantasia and O Brother, Where Art Thou?.

The latter movie was picked and I grumbled under my breath because I was a punk (sour and bitter).  The movie’s going and I realize pretty quickly that I’m actually enjoying the movie a lot.  The dialogue is quick and fluid, the humor is subtle and on point, and the music is unlike anything I had really heard up until that point.  What was happening?  Well, I was acclimating to a brilliant film.

The Coen Brothers are masterful storytellers.  I will eventually write a blog post just on them as filmmakers but for now, I have to sing their praise for just this single film.  I know it’s strange but I truly do believe that they had a hand in what I will call my cinephile birth.  Thinking back now, I can truthfully pinpoint this experience with “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” as the moment when I began to appreciate film for more than just entertainment value.

For me, “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” is forever re-watchable.  I love the pace, the quotability , and cinematography equally.  I think you have to love every aspect of a film in order to be able to always be in the mood for it.  There has to be this sense of, “I will feel better if I watch this.  It will make me happy and last with me the rest of the day”.  And this film does this every time.

Call to Action:  Let me know what you think of “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”  If you haven’t watched it before, I highly recommend you do so now.  Is it a favorite or one that’s just okay in your book?

Flash Fiction: Old Wolves

Bramble crunched underneath the wagon wheels of the merchant train.  No rain had touched this part of the world in months.  The city of Rastome was still days away according to the mile markers painted on heavy rocks set alongside the Sael Highway.

In the days since leaving the capital city, Charun, Barston kept to himself and followed orders.  He along with the other hired guards were mostly ignored by their merchant employer whose name was Lavan Pahl.  It was Pahl’s partner, Freilas Atruam, who bore the signs of a former soldier giving most of the commands to the hired men.

Barston found himself drawn to Freilas as if he knew the older man all his life.  Thin but strong, bearing dark skin and stony eyes, he moved as if the world could not contain him.  A deadliness inhabited him as well.  Adept with a bow and sword alike, he did not waver when the first group of road bandits attacked the previous day.

They lost two of the hired guards during the scuffle while two others had to be put on litters much to the chagrin of Pahl.  Freilas had a way of explaining and calming his partner, which the guards appreciated after realizing Pahl played to loose and free with his mule whip.  Barston believed there to be a great story behind Freilas’ life and wanted to know it.  Was their shame?  Dishonor?  If so, he had found peace.  Barston cared little for such a gift for himself but to see it in Freilas made him curious.

When Freilas came alongside him all of a sudden, Barston forced himself to relax.  The older man did not engage in private conversations unless a reprimand was coming.

“The men say you did not draw your sword yesterday.”  Freilas’ voice was like ice sliding against a boulder.  Up close, the smell roasted red root was undeniable and was the obvious reason for the man’s voice.  Smoking the crushed pieces of red root was not kind to the throat.

Barston swallowed.  “I didn’t need to draw it.  My dagger did just fine.”

Freilas gave him a sidelong look.  “You don’t happen to be one of those pit fighters back in the capital, are you?”

The smile could not be kept away.  “No,” Barston said.  “Just one who knows when a dagger’s reach will suffice.”

“Hmm.  Lavan wants me to have you punished.  Don’t worry; it won’t happen.  You may be reckless but you managed to gut two of the road rats with that short steel.  Make sure you don’t hesitate to draw the long blade next time.  I’ll be watching then.  You can’t be blade shy these days.”

He separated from Barston and quickened to the front of the train.  The exhale of breath did not leave Barston feeling better.  His eyes darted about the countryside, hoping to the Hallowed they would not be attacked again.

Collector at Heart

posted in: Life | 0

As my wife and I prepare for the baby (April is fast approaching!), much of our preparation is making space.  We’ve lived in our apartment our entire marriage and that’s years of acquiring stuff.  However, as would be expected, a purge is needed.

I admit, I’m not the best at de-cluttering.  Much of that comes from my dad who is the same way.  We have similar mindsets of “I don’t need this now but I may need it in the future”.  Not an excuse for our behavior but just a way of thinking that not everyone else has (my wife being one of them).  I’m thankful my wife is not like me in this way because we’d have a heck of time getting rid of stuff.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this though.  Much of my behavior comes from being a collector.  I’ve collected sports cards since I was probably seven years old.  While cards have been my most consistent item of preference, I have collected everything from comics to pogs (showing my age with that one but yes, I was a major pogs nerd).  Later in life, I’ve come to add movies, records, and books into the mix.  These later items however do not hold the sentimental value that cards do for me.

Bless my wife for putting up with me.  The purge is happening and I know I need to make some tough decisions.  I’m writing about this because I don’t know what makes me this way.  I can’t figure out what pushes me in this direction.  When it comes to cards, I collect what I’m most interested in.  I’m not the type that goes after quantity but instead, what I will call selective quality.

I think I do it because it’s a stress reliever and maybe keeps me from boredom.  Now, I don’t think this necessarily always a good thing because I can easily waste my day away searching online, organizing, cataloguing, etc. my collections.  Since I’ve been married, I’ve had to make conscious adjustments to how I spend my time and sometimes that’s been easy while other times, it has been a little less easy.  I know and I’ve been telling myself for months now that I need to make more conscious effort and prepare myself when the baby is here because he will require a lot of my attention.

If I were a more selfish person, I might fight this but if marriage has taught me anything, it’s that it’s not all about me.  So, maybe my five plus years of marriage have actually been preparing me for this aspect of parenthood more than I ever realized.  My collecting habits won’t likely stop but I will adapt.

Call to Action:  Check out the show Godless on Netflix when you get a chance.  I’m a few episodes in and it’s very good.  Well-written and acted by all accounts and for some reason I love gritty westerns.

Disappointment: The Twists and Turns of Life

posted in: Life | 1

I’m sure you’ve all heard it before: “Life is full of disappointment”.  It’s like history’s first pessimist spread a virus, passed on from generation to generation.  We all get to hear the words and consciously or subconsciously accept it as truth.  Now before you think I’ve been struck by some kind of head trauma, I’m not saying disappointment is some mystic force jammed down our throats.  No, I’m saying we approach disappointment wrong.

Is disappointment inevitable?  I definitely think so but I’ve decided that I don’t want to live as if it is soul crushing when it happens.  Relationships, finances, career, society, etc.  All of these can cause disappointment in our lives.  A lot of times, it’s based on factors you can’t control or maybe choices you’ve made unaware of the outcome.  It comes and we face it.

I’m even beginning to wonder if disappointment is a reaction we’ve been “instituted” to have when life’s turns and twists take place.  If it is just a reaction similar to excitement or anger, then can it controlled?  If we have a choice in the matter, can we actually will ourselves to step back and not let the negative emotions that come with disappointment affect our outlook of the situation?

I don’t claim to have an answer (sorry, this is not a post with answers…just reflection).  What I can offer is my own battle with this.  Recent financial happenings in my life have gone in directions I did not anticipate.  I admit, I got down for a moment but I also know I can either wallow in the dust or stand and press on, in hope, believing victories will come.  It’s not always easy but doable.  If you are person of faith, then you would put that hope in God.  If not, then you would put that hope in yourself or maybe significant others in your life.  Either way, you are moving forward without letting disappointment convince you there is nothing better.

Too often we witness people we know either intimately or simply as acquaintances falter under disappointment.  Depending on the level, this can cripple dreams or make people look for help in various arenas.  My hope would be that we all stop responding to the unexpected in a way that would blind us to the opportunity to try again or make any adjustments needed to set the course right again.  For myself, I don’t want to miss the better parts of life because I convince myself something can’t be done or that I’m incapable of having an attitude and outlook that would see me above the trial.

Call to Action:  Look back at a recent disappointment (I’ve got a fresh one for myself) and seriously take a moment to examine it.  Write it all out as well and see if you can find the positive opportunities.  Sometimes we need to dissect the twists and turns to see other possible doorways.

Sunday Levity: Parenthood is Fast Approaching

posted in: Life, Sunday Levity | 0

Okay, so I was just surfing through Pinterest and found these.  I needed a good laugh and got it.

I have yet to find a way to prepare myself for the pee, poop, and puke smells I will be inundated with once the baby is here.  Maybe I should go to bars…


I need this mug as a simple reminder.  This is one thing that keeps my mind active every day.  I pray, “Dear God, please help me keep the baby alive.”

HAHAHA!  Yeah, I’m not prepared for when this starts happening.

So, I read this and lost it.  My wife was watching a video that was very much on the serious side and I had to apologize and explain why I suddenly fell into a laughing fit.  Try reading that and not using Liam Neeson’s voice in Taken.  So hard not to!

Call to Action:  Hope you all are having a great Sunday.  If you can, thank your parents for somehow maintaining enough self-control and not locking you in the bathroom for an hour’s worth of peace and quiet.

The Greatest Showman Makes the Top Ten List

posted in: Film/TV, Music, Review | 2

Well it didn’t take long but I’ve got to amend my Top Ten Movies of 2017 list.  My wife and I took in The Greatest Showman starring Hugh Jackman and an amazing, talented cast this last weekend and I came away extremely happy.

Musicals were not my thing growing up.  I was never a fan of Mary Poppins, The Wizard of Oz, or The Sound of Music.  After thinking about why that is, I came to a somewhat simple conclusion: I didn’t like show tunes.  My tastes in music were never great as a kid.  Like most kids, you listen to what your parents like because they have control of the stereo and tape deck (yep, antiquated) in the car.  I have memories of country music, Amy Grant, and Paula Abdul.  Straight up.

It wasn’t until I got older that I started exploring music and finding what I liked.  I’ve got some truly cringe-worthy periods of music in my younger years (I’ll still argue that Creed’s first album is a great post-grunge alternative album to this day).  But, I digress.  Back to musicals.

Every once in a while, I did run into some musicals that I liked and could tolerate thanks to my sister.  Newsies being one of them.  Nowadays it’s a bit different.  I watch Grease and don’t hate it.  I watched the most recent Les Miserables and I didn’t hate it.  I’m intrigued by other musicals like Hamilton and Dear Evan Hansen.  Then there’s films like La La Land, Sing Street, and Begin Again.  I’m drawn to music and when it’s combined with film, I am like a moth to the flame.

So, The Greatest Showman was amazing and captivating.  I found myself smiling throughout the entire film and appreciating the production, acting, singing, and choreography throughout.  Man, do those songs stay in your head days after too!  I kept hearing the positive reviews and became more and more interested in seeing it.  So glad we went (we almost didn’t due to an already busy weekend).  Like I said, this has entered my Top Ten Films of 2017 and means something has to come off the list.  At this point, I don’t know which movie is being bumped but it’s got to be done.  Err…  Sorry, Gifted…  You’re being moved to the Runner-ups.

Call to Action:  Other than saying you should go to see The Greatest Showman, I’m curious which musicals people enjoy.  Film or stage doesn’t matter.

On This Day: 15 Jan 1985 – Ender’s Game First Published

posted in: Fantasy, On This Day, Reading, Review | 0

I’m not a big science fiction reader.  If you’ve been following me over the last year, I’ve made that pretty clear.  I don’t have a good reason for it except to say while I enjoy watching sci-fi movies, reading sci-fi is a struggle.

However, there is one sci-fi book that I love and cherish: Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game.

I read Ender’s Game my freshman year of high school (this might have to do with my love for it since this is when I fell in love with reading in general).  My friends encouraged me to read it and I couldn’t put it down.  It was unlike anything I’d ever experienced before and did not bore me to tears.

Andrew “Ender” Wiggins is the youngest of three children in a future where only two children are allowed per family.  All children are born with an implanted monitoring device, which is used by the government to pick out children they deem worthy of going to Battle School.  The children selected for such an honor are monitored and trained by the International Fleet (IF) in hopes to create new generations of soldiers to fight in an ongoing war with an alien race referred to as “Buggers”.

At Battle School, Ender makes friends and enemies as he tries to rise through the ranks despite his young age and small stature.  He is faced with challenge after challenge by the IF to see if he can withstand the pressure.  We follow his mistakes and victories (there are plenty of both) as he struggles not only physically but psychologically to be the best.

I continually find myself returning to this book.  I’ll often listen to the audiobook or watch the movie (this is not the greatest of adaptations but decent and worth watching) because I can’t help but engage in Ender’s story.  It’s a story that is complex without being overly complex.  I would argue it’s a grounded sci-fi, offering new ideas and advanced technology without inundating you with so much, you feel like your head will pop.

Call to Action: I highly recommend the book.  It’s not a long read and you’ll fall in love with Ender and some of the other characters.

Remiss to Reminisce

posted in: Life | 2

I turned thirty-three almost two weeks ago and I’m beginning to notice something as I get older (no, this won’t be a gripe session about unwanted ear hair).  I reminisce a lot.  And I mean more than I ever have before.  I’m sure this is a natural occurrence as we age but I do it especially with my long-time friends.

Recently though, I have been doing it on another level.  First, some background.  I grew up in a heavily Pentecostal church (with a brief stint in a non-denominational one) and was indoctrinated into the 90s church pop culture.  Yes, that’s a real thing.  This came with a bevy of things like no wearing hats in the sanctuary, not being allowed to listen to secular music (but we could watch secular movies), attending youth group, Sunday School, and Vacation Bible Schools in the summer, etc.  You get the picture.  It was a community and culture centered on religious practices of following the Bible.

Now, I am not bashing this.  I can honestly say that as I’ve gotten older, I have enormous appreciation for this experience as a kid and teenager.  Those long-time friends I mentioned before are ones I met at church.  I’m forever grateful for these friendships for many reasons.  I also have an appreciation for charity, community, music (church is what got me into playing drums and remains one of my greatest passions in life), and potlucks that I otherwise wouldn’t have.

I am thrust into the pool of reminiscing because my wife and I were recently turned onto a podcast called Good Christian Fun.  This podcast explores specific topics in Christian pop culture from music to movies that I grew up very familiar with.  So many of these have been like digging through my childhood.  Side note: the podcast doesn’t try to push you towards or pull you away from Christianity.  It simply explores the things of that time and their influence.

For the last two weeks, as I listen to these podcasts, I’ve been thinking a lot about my childhood and how I have been shaped by those church experiences.  I’ll be honest, there are good and bad things.  I won’t delve deeper into that right now (maybe in the future but no promises) but it does have my wife and I exploring how we will raise our kids.  You want to learn from your mistakes and even from your successes and use that when practicing parenthood.

As I reminisce, I get the profound notion that doing so will pave the way towards helping me be a better husband, father, and person in general.  I have embarrassing stories up the wazoo that make me cringe to this day because I made decisions based on feelings or misgivings rather than knowledge and wisdom.  As a parent, I don’t want to follow that road.  Sure, there will be mistakes made along the way but I think I can avoid some by simply considering the past.

Call to Action:  Seriously, if you grew up in the church bubble in the late 80s, early 90s (I mean the days of DC Talk, Michael W. Smith, Left Behind, etc.), then you should check out the Good Christian Podcast.  You’ll laugh and shake your head many a times as you hear the references.

Rewriting the End…Again

Starting a story is easy for me.  I don’t know why but it just is.  The end?  Not so much.  I have yet to know the end of a story (I mean in the novella or novel form) before I start from the beginning.

For most of 2017 I have been working on my rewrite/edit of my book, So Speaks the Gallows (if you’ve been keeping up with my blog and/or are subscribed to my newsletter, then you know this already).  As I near the end of this endeavor, it’s interesting to find I have probably put the most work into the beginning and end of the book.  I think this is good because of two reasons: the beginning is what I am banking on the reader to be gripped by (to keep reading) and the end should be satisfactory as a whole but also urge the reader to want to continue on this world.  For the ending, I’m definitely more satisfied with the changes I’ve made.

Once my edit is complete, I am not finished (you never truly are finished with a story).  I have both beta reader and personal notes that I need to go back through the book and apply.  These are minuscule in size.  Some are basic fixes like making sure I mention a detail about a character or place.  Others might be a consistency issue.  Now, some might think this trivial but I always think about the world needing to be lived in.  It’s those small details that help add shades and tones, seeing the richness of everything.

I’ve been working on this book for a decade and I continue to be surprised when I come across a section or passage that makes me cringe.  My eyes roll over it so easily now that I know I need to move slower from page to page.  After all the editing is done, I will read my book out loud (alone without another soul within a hundred yards).  The reason for this is to make sure what I read flows and doesn’t read clunky.  I’ve got the future audiobook to consider!

So, I’m progressing with this wonderful story that I love to immerse myself into.  I know the world and characters so well (I better after so many years!) and I continue to want to do them justice.  I can’t get complacent or sloppy.  Not now.

Call to Action:  Anyone have any book recommendations?  I realized I don’t ask this enough and I’m always looking for new books to add to my “To read” list.  Fiction, non-fiction, autobiographies, etc.  Let me know!

My Top Ten Films of 2017

posted in: Fantasy, Film/TV, Review | 2

I always see top ten lists of films at the close of the year and I thought it would be fun to do the same.  Granted, I haven’t seen every major release so I can’t give those a rating or even consideration.  For example, I haven’t seen “Get Out” or “Split” so I can’t include those, though I have heard great things about both films.

My taste in movies can be odd at times.  Sometimes, I will fall in love with a film for a very simple reason, which stands out and makes a lasting impression in my extensive film mind-vault.  Lists are subjective, so if you disagree or think I’m plain crazy, that’s cool.  Send me your list and I’ll give it a read and tell you why I think you’re crazy.

Note: I’ll avoid spoilers with each blurb.

10. It

A horror movie is in my top ten?!  Yes.  Yes it is.  Let me explain.  Despite being a genre that I don’t prefer, this was a very well-done film.  The acting was great, especially considering the child actors who were the heartbeat of the story.  Without their amazing performances, this would have flopped hard.  Pennywise, the villain, is not enough to make this a top ten movie.  He’s there, he’s the antagonist, but it’s how the kids band together to defeat him that makes this work.  You can check out my full review here: http://adamhenderson.net/2017/09/24/why-i-watched-it/

9. Gifted

To be honest, Gifted did not seem to be on a lot of people’s radars when it came to movies in 2017.  From the trailer, we see a precocious little girl being raised by her uncle who has a knack and ability to solve difficult mathematical equations despite her age.  It’s not really an original story idea but the reason why it made my list (besides just being heartfelt and well-performed) is a particular scene in the middle of the movie.  As the little girl is having a difficult time adjusting to the attention she’s getting for her genius, her uncle takes her to a hospital and they’re waiting and waiting (she doesn’t understand why and neither do we, the watchers) when a new father comes out to the waiting room and announces the birth of his child to his family who has been waiting for hours.  Excitement ensues and the little girl joins in.  Seriously, this kicked me in the feels and tugged the heart strings.  Check this one out if you haven’t yet.

8. Logan Lucky

Under-rated and under-the-radar.  Logan Lucky is not only fun but has great, subtle moments that you miss upon first watch.  It’s directed by Steven Sodenberg who directed the Ocean’s Eleven trilogy.  This has a similar feel but involves West Virginia, NASCAR, and Daniel Craig with a hilarious accent.  How this movie was ignored by people, I don’t understand but it is absolutely worth your time.

7. War for the Planet of the Apes

I never cared for the older Planet of the Apes films.  I was an 80s kid but only saw the first and it didn’t grab ahold of me like other sci-fi properties.  However, I have been a huge fan of the newer films.  The motion capture technology plays a big part in the performances of the “apes”.  Andy Serkis is a Mo-cap master.  Just look into his career and it’s impressive.  This is the third installment and surprised me on many levels.  Not only does it progress the story, which leads into the original PotA movie but it brings true depth to the Apes and their will to survive and find peace.

6. Coco

Vibrant and beautiful.  Coco is a stunning film with so much heart, you can’t help but walk away feeling like you did not waste your time.  It’s visually amazing as the animation continues to push the bounds and it has an amazing message of family and honoring those from the past and those in the present.  Check out my previous blog post for more: http://adamhenderson.net/2017/12/06/how-pixar-and-disney-help-me-appreciate-different-cultures/

5. Spider-Man: Homecoming

Tobey Maguire was good.  Andrew Garfield was okay.  Tom Holland is perfect.  Yes, in my mind, this version of our friendly neighborhood Spider-man was and is the best of the roster we’ve seen in films.  Keeping Spidey in high school is a must.  Not rehashing the origin story is the best decision of the story.  Having Michael Keaton as the main villain brought weight and actual conflict to the plot.  Hands down, I am most excited to see where this franchise goes more than any other Marvel property in the cinematic universe.

4. The Big Sick

This was a pleasant surprise.  I watched the trailer and thought to myself, “I have to see this movie”.  For those unaware, it’s based on a true story of how the main character met his wife.  Some things were changed for the flow of the film but the basic plot is the same.  It’s a pseudo-rom com that focuses more on how the main male protagonist sacrifices his time to be near the girl he cares greatly for while she’s in a coma (not a spoiler if you’ve seen the trailer).  What I loved most about the film is the relationship formed between him and the girl’s parents in the middle of this horrible situation.  It has heart and humor by the fistfuls.

3. Wonder Woman

I don’t know what more I can say about Wonder Woman than I already have in my previous blog post review, which you can read here: http://adamhenderson.net/2017/06/15/wonder-woman-thoughts-and-impact/

This movie gave me chills.  The No Man’s Land sequence is probably my favorite of any movie in the last few years let alone 2017.  Gal Gadot is mesmerizing and embodies the character of Wonder Woman perfectly.  Even though I did not like the climax (#bossfights), I would still give this film a high score and I can’t wait to see what they do in the sequel.

2. Baby Driver

Surprise film of the year for me.  I saw the trailer and thought it was worth watching.  Could be good.  I like director, Edgar Wright, who did Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz.  Should be a fun watch.  What I got though was a fast action caper synced to the second thing I love most behind storytelling: music.  Action, comedy, and drama.  All of it is there.  Throw in slick editing and production and you’ve got what might be a universal top five film on most lists.

1. Logan

My favorite movie of 2017 is hands-down Logan.  Confession time: I cried during the trailer.  That two and a half minute video soaked in the age and conviction of Johnny Cash, covering “Hurt” by Nine Inch Nails just broke me.  And yes, I did tear up during the film itself as well.  The reason, though, that Logan was my favorite movie was the finality of the character and his struggle through life.  In my opinion, there is no more tormented super hero than Logan aka Wolverine.  For almost two decades over several films, Hugh Jackman brought the titular hero to life.  Due to the nature of the film industry, it’s inevitable to see someone else don the adamantium claws but I remain convinced that Jackman brought the depth needed so we got a legitimate Wolverine and not some campy nonsense that left a bad taste in our mouths.  Go here for my complete review: http://adamhenderson.net/2017/03/06/logan-reaction/

Runner-ups: Thor: Ragnarok, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Free Fire

Call to Action: This list is prone to change since there are about a dozen movies I still need to see: The Shape of Water, Hostiles, Downsizing, The Greatest Showman, I, Tonya, The Disaster Artist, Blade Runner 2049, Battle of the Sexes, etc.  If I do make some updates, I’ll make sure to let you all know by a blog post.  I have a feeling the list could be impacted.

A New Year to Embrace

posted in: Editing/Revision, Life, Writing | 2

What will happen in 2018?  I know I can’t be the only person to ask this question as we enter another new year (yeesh, as I get older, I lose the enthralling alacrity of what that means).  Obviously, my hope and prayers are that we suffer no losses, come ahead in our bank account statements, come out even or ahead in taxes, etc.  On a grander level, I’d sure love to see some social media climate change.  The vitriol every day definitely got old and I fear for the sanity of anyone who took delight in seeing the onslaught of drama and pettiness exhibited through social media streams every day.  Maybe it’s just wishful thinking and I should aim lower.  How about Deadpool 2 being better than the first?  Oh, and I’d love it if Avengers: Infinity War doesn’t take a nap.  I’ll set my expectations low.

Personally, I’d like to be kinder and gain some patience.  Come April, our baby boy will teach me a lot about myself.  I told my wife the other day that I want to make sure we not only prepare ourselves for his arrival and addition to our lives but also make sure we get rest, find time to relax and read (very important for new parents, I think), and be intentional about having time together.  I have this sense that as new parents, we will need to make necessary adjustments (an obvious statement) but also make sure we don’t burn out and let our emotions beat us down or each other for that matter.  And don’t tell me, “Oh just you wait, you’ll be crap-deep in diapers, crying, and baby puke” as if that’s all it is.  I kind of refuse to settle for that kind of attitude.  Our baby will not be a burden but a joy!  (If I’m wrong, you can take it to the bank that I won’t come back here and admit it to all of you.)

We went through a lot of changes and shifts in 2017 (still talking about myself and my wife. No political commentary here).  Job changes, pregnancy, financial decisions, etc.  I think we needed to make those choices last year in preparation for this year, which I foresee to be more stable.  There will be surprises (some good and some bad) and we will have to be ready and act as everyone must in order to keep the unexpected from keeping you on the ground.  What I want, though, is to learn and grow in each moment.

To gain wisdom is what I want most in 2018.  As a husband, father, brother, son, professional, writer, musician, and however else I might describe myself, I want to come away, and exhale accomplishment.  Maybe I’ll do that by the end of 2018 here on the blog.  In fact, here we go, on 27 December 2018, my blog post will be a look back on the year, but also an inspection of this first post of the year.  We’ll see if I accomplished what I wanted to succeed in.  Wisdom is what I’ll be chasing in 2018.

Call to Action: What would you like to see in 2018?  Doesn’t have to be a personal goal but let me know what you’d like to see or experience.

Flash Fiction: Faces and Places

The falling dust mesmerized Teelee as she watched wide-eyed.  It was her favorite part of helping Master Shotra.  She was not to call him the Twig any longer as they traveled together.

Settled against the wet canvas, her eyes ran along the dust-covered surface, reading the words written.  No, they were not written like one would see on a sign or a piece of parchment.  These words were different, though she did not think she could describe it to anyone if they asked.

“What do you see?” Master Shotra asked.  They had stopped off the side of the road along the countryside, heading for a place called Duggin’s Hill, which Teelee had read on a previous canvas.

The day was bright and warm but Teelee kept one eye on the gray clouds in the distance.  She did not like rain.  That would mean coldness and it would also mean she would be soaked through.  Her brother had punished her by making her sit underneath the leak in the roof after she “stole” his place with Master Shotra.  She told him it was an accident but Dag did not care.

“Girl,” Master Shotra said, poking her in the ribs.  He pointed at the canvas.  “Pay attention.  You’ll not be returned home until we’ve completed our task.  Now,” he pointed at the canvas again, “read.”

Teelee could not help looking at the clouds again before turning to the canvas.  “Delya.”

Master Shotra stiffened and winced.  “And?”

She let her eyes roam over the canvas until she found another word.  “Glassene.”

“Hallowed harbor me,” Master Shotra slumped, dropping to a sitting position on the dusty ground.  “Of all the…  You’re certain?”  She nodded and he spoke on, saying things she did not understand.  “Of course it would be.  Always the loyal hound to the Holds…  This is just punishment.  Penance for my errors.”

Teelee ignored him, uninterested in the canvas now that she finished her job.  She moved to the mule that pulled their wagon.  Master Shotra said it had no name so she had decided on one for him on their first day together.

“Hello, Apple.”  The animal’s love for the fruit was indeed the leading factor for the name.  “I hate rain.  I hope we stay dry for the rest of the day.  Today’s my birthday but I don’t think Master Shotra knows that.  Mother would have given me honey this morning…”

Master Shotra was pacing now, still talking to himself, oblivious to the world.  Teelee leaned in close to Apple’s ear, “Don’t tell him but I saw something more this time in the dust.  It scared me, Apple…  I don’t want Master Shotra to die.”

First Year Retrospect

Crazy.  That’s my best-word choice and thinking when I consider the last year.  I took to starting a website and blog with the idea that I wanted to write more and establish a platform as a writer.  I had some ideas and believed I could begin to have a voice in a world full of voices.  After a year, I think I made a dent but not a full impact.

While the website could use an update (I’m in the process of looking at my options), the blog has been the bigger surprise.  I started by writing about writing, especially my own thoughts and experiences with the craft.  Looking back, this was a much needed release because I had things I wanted to say but did not have an outlet.  The blog gave me that and now I feel ready to go beyond those topics.

I like themes and scheduled topics.  Sunday Levity, On This Day, and Flash Fiction posts allowed me to do this and those have been extremely fun and rewarding.  Each will continue moving forward and more than likely be a staple of my blog.  The posts in between will likely change and shift focus.  I loved being able to do my Stranger Things Season 1 Review and Rewatch in October.  With Season 3 green lit, you can expect the same treatment for Season 2.  There will be less in terms of “writing” posts but you’ll continue to get my thoughts from a writing perspective as I encounter new stories and even go back and explore old ones.

Outside of the blog and website, my life has taken unexpected turns.  Come April, my wife and I will be arms deep in parenthood.  How this will affect me as a writer, I cannot begin to know or guess but it will bring an adjustment.  That baby will be priority number 1a with my wife being 1b.  They will be my focus.  Then I’ll have work and then writing.  So right now it’s a matter of preparing and putting any notion of selfishness aside.

What I’m not worried about is the time to write.  I will find it.  My plan is to finish So Speaks the Gallows and find an agent remains.  Those updates will be shared and even if I get rejection letters, I will share those with everyone.  Obviously, my hope would be to receive a letter stating an agent would love to represent me but the more I follow other writers on social media, the more I see that rejection letters are more common than acceptance letters.  Maybe 2018 will be my year of querying.

When it comes to the newsletter, I’ll stick with it and hopefully get more sign ups.  It makes it easier for me to devote the time (it is time consuming) to provide more content if I know I’m reaching more people.  However, I do understand if people have too many newsletters arriving in their inboxes.  The more you have, the less time you have to read them all.

Other than that, I have some other personal goals I’d like to see accomplished but I read somewhere that not all goals should be made public.  Apparently, that can sabotage your chances of finding success.  Not sure if I believe that but I’ll keep them close to the chest for now.

I hope you all have had an amazing year!

Call to Action: The final call to action this year is to sign up for my newsletter.  Seriously, why haven’t you done so yet?  You get some fun book reviews and an exclusive Shoals to the Hallowed short story, which you won’t find anywhere else.  There are things happening in the story you won’t know about unless you sign up.  So do so.

The Last Jedi: Quick Thoughts (No Spoilers)

posted in: Fantasy, Film/TV, Review, Storytelling | 2

After avoiding any potential spoilers for The Last Jedi, I was able to watch it at the end of last weekend.  There will be no spoilers here but I will make references to key plot details in a vague manner (no exact details).

Overall Plot Direction.  TLJ definitely surpassed my expectations when it came to the plot and moving things forward in this Skywalker Saga.  I had read and heard some popular theories about what could happen in the new chapter and while there were hints of these theories coming true, the story went in various directions that were both surprising and refreshing.  There were key moments that I thought to myself, “Yes!  That’s great writing!” and then there were things I had to process after watching and say, “Okay, I like that and I’m curious to see where it goes from there.”  Now, there are also elements that did not work, leaving questions and making many people (I’m sure you’ve seen the bad reviews from people you know) unhappy with the direction of the plot.

Star Wars Spectacle.  Star Wars as a property is synonymous with Jedi, Sith, The Force, etc.  It’s very much a fantasy set in space (something I’m sure that has been covered, debated, and discussed in the past by many a fanboys).  There are aspects to the Force in the film that enrich an enhance what the Force is and how it can be used as a power/weapon.  It’s very much a magic system that doesn’t always have defined lines or rules but that is why the balance between the light and dark side are so important as thematic elements.  How far can one go to either side before being able to come back?  I am excited to see more with the characters who can use the Force.  There should be some fun to be had with our Force users.

Characters.  Character motivations can make or break a story.  Too often, it feels as if a character’s choice is only meant to push the story forward.  Where TLJ works for me is the characters make choices throughout the film where their motivations are clear (after some extra thought and contemplation, there are some instances where this is not true but I’m focusing on the majority).  There is desperation and a time limit in play.  This makes the characters act and do so sometimes recklessly.  However, it felt right and there were consequences to those choices.  My writer brain was once again saying, “Yes, that worked”.

I get some of the points of dislike and contention.  There are viable gripes to some of the plot points that may not land for some.  However, it’s not enough for me to give this film a bad review.  It’s not a perfect film but it’s better than most.  Where The Force Awakens came up short, I feel like The Last Jedi exceeded my expectations.  I felt the weight of the conflict and did not mind the smaller sillier moments (Porg nation is real).

Overall, I put TLJ in my top five Star Wars films (1. The Empire Strikes Back, 2. Rogue One, 3. Return of the Jedi, 4. The Last Jedi, 5. A New Hope).

Call to Action: I’m curious to see what others think of The Last Jedi and how it stacks up against the other films in the series.  Please DO NOT post spoilers in the comments.

Christmas Movie Guide

posted in: Film/TV, Review | 0

We have a rule in our house: no Christmas movies until December.  For my wife, this is easy but for me, I could throw on one of my favorite Christmas movies any time during the year.

We have our favorites that we watch every year leading up to Christmas and then we have some that we watch every other or few years depending on how fresh they are in our mind.  Last, there are the movies I watch by myself because my wife doesn’t care for them (totally fine, not complaining).

As I mentioned in my previous post about traditions, Christmas movies have become a staple for me during the season so I’m looking forward to these films both as entertainment but also as a means for evoking memories.  Rather than listing all the movies on “watch list”, I just want to call out a few that I always recommend and love.


The Santa Clause

I grew up watching this one (like many others).  I was ten years old in 1994 and Home Improvement was always on in our house so I was familiar with Tim Allen and his brand of humor.  To this day, I can always watch the sitcom.  The Santa Clause is solid both in humor and the importance of faith, believing in what cannot always be seen.


Home Alone 1 and 2

More of what I grew up watching.  Kevin McCalister was quite the brat and I remember thinking every time I watched the movie that if I said or did the things he did, I would be grounded for life.  Other than the ingenuity of his traps to take down the witless house burglars in both films, it focuses heavily on the importance of family.

 
Scrooged and The Muppet Christmas Carol

It’s unlikely you’re not familiar with Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.  It’s a classic and has many films based and influenced by it throughout cinema history.  I put these two together because one is for kids and one is for adults.  We were Muppet fans growing up and I maintain there’s solid humor in any Muppet’s production.  And how can you go wrong with Bill Murray as “Scrooge”?  Kindness and compassion towards others pokes you in the feels for these.


Christmas Vacation

For me, there is no better quotable movie than National Lampoon’s holiday treat.  This is also the reason why many people love the movie but are okay if they don’t watch it every year.  Not me.  I want to watch this movie at least three times during the holidays.  Sure there’s a message in this one too but it’s just so dang funny that I’d watch it even if there was no inspiring lesson by the end.


Love Actually

This is the movie my wife and I adore every Christmas.  Ever since I introduced it to her during our dating years, it became a staple.  It’s essential to our viewing pleasure because it’s pretty much a perfect Christmas movie that focuses on several different people and their struggles during the holiday season.  It hits the spectrum of holiday cheer and will forever be a part of our Christmases (the kids won’t be allowed to watch it until they’re 18 though because it is rated R).


Honorable Mentions: Elf, The Family Stone, Die Hard, Lethal Weapon, I’ll Be Home for Christmas, The Family Man, Serendipity

Call to Action:  Share with me!  What Christmas movies are staples for you?

Reading Goal Accomplished!

posted in: Fantasy, Reading, Review, Storytelling | 2

For the second year in a row, I’ve achieved my goal to complete my reading goal on Goodreads.  Last year, I was ambitious and did 25 books.  This year, I lost my mind and doubled that, thinking I could do 50.  I did it, but it was not easy.

Let me first say that while I reached 50 books read, the majority of those were audiobooks.  To be honest, I’m not a fast reader so audiobooks definitely help me both on my commute and while at home if we’re keeping the TV off.  Now, I learned some very valuable lessons when approaching these reading challenges and finding success: don’t over-extend yourself.  What I mean by this is I got to the point where I realized I could reach my goal but only if I read or listened to shorter books.  The problem here is I had books I really wanted to read but felt they would take too long to finish.  Obviously, I knew by the end that I needed to rethink my reading goal.

So for next year, I am giving myself some leeway and going to shoot for 30 books.  I’ll very likely read more than 30 but I hated feeling the pressure of finishing a book just so I could keep on track.  Reading in general is essential for me to not only learn but keep my mind active, not depending on stimulation by screen only.  I’m not proud of it but I am one of those people that can always have the TV on.  It doesn’t bother me to have it on just for background noise (this drives my wife crazy and is why we institute “no TV nights” in our house).

If you haven’t signed up for my newsletter then you are unfamiliar with my book reviews.  I like to  write three reviews for my favorite books I read for the last four months (Newsletters are released at the end of April, August, and December).  Below you will find some recommendations not included in any of this year’s newsletters:


The Gunslinger by Stephen King

The first book of The Dark Tower series has been around for awhile and was on “To read” list for years. I finally got into it and really enjoyed the book. It’s not a tough read and establishes interesting characters in an even more interesting world. Action and conflict are not lacking here. For fantasy lovers, it’s a must.


Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick

This was a fun listen since Anna reads the book. She’s the Pitch Perfect girl if you’re unfamiliar with her. She’s also full of spunk and her personality comes through as she reads. I was not aware of her background and her journey to acting and becoming an Oscar-nominated actress so this kept me interested and made me laugh a lot.


Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

I did a longer review of this one a few months back but with the movie adaptation coming out soon, I wanted to highlight it again. It’s a fast-paced virtual adventure with loads of geek-speak and 80s references, which is definitely trending again with Stranger Things Season 2 fresh in our minds. Check this one out even if you’re not a gamer or geek aficionado.

Call to Action: I encourage you to sign up over at Goodreads and take your own reading challenge for 2018.  It’s a lot of fun and if you’re like me, setting a challenge for yourself might get you to set aside time each day to put your nose in the pages.