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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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?

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.

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.

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?

December Update/Christmas Traditions

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


My plan is to keep the normal schedule and format for the blog this month. 
The next flash fiction for the ongoing Shoals to the Hallowed series will be released on 30 December (this also happens to be my bday so I expect high praise in the comments section. If you don’t want to give that, I accept Amazon gift cards).  The third and last newsletter of the year will be released on the 31st.  If you want to sign up for that, please do so when prompted on the website or send me your email address and I’ll add you to the list.

For the month in general (we’re half way done already!), you’ll see a lot of Christmas themed posts.  I’m a big fan of Christmas.  The season (I prefer cold to hot always), movies and music (there’s just so many good options), food and drink (nothing like carbs, coffee, and whiskey to keep me comfortable), and traditions.   It’s these last that I want to explore a little today.


I can only speak for myself and my heart goes out to those who don’t care for the Christmas season for whatever the reason. 
I understand and get it.  However, I have pretty much nothing but good memories of the weeks and days leading up to Christmas.  My family never did anything crazy or outlandish (far from the Griswold experience).  We did the tree and lights.  Maybe a few other decorations around the house.  What I remember best was going to my grandparents’ house Christmas Eve to eat dinner and exchange gifts.  My grandpa would read the Christmas story from the Book of Luke and we’d all go on our merry way (no pun intended).  Christmas morning was getting up way too early (I was one of those kids who could not sleep no matter how late I stayed up), getting into our stockings first and waiting the appropriate amount of time before waking up my parents so we could get to the good stuff.

After we made a mess of the living room, we would eat breakfast and get ready for the day.  Usually we were out the door after noon and heading to the gift exchange locations with friends and families.  Dinner was usually at my grandparents’ house again with or without other family members who came in form out of town.  We ate, played games, and had the 24-hour marathon of A Christmas Story playing in the background.  All in all, it was an easy traditional holiday season that I have fond memories of.

Now that I’m married, my wife and I have our own traditions that we’ve put in place and hope to carry on the rest of the way.  Our children will grow up with these and even have a part in adding to our family’s plans and activities from December to December.  Traditions are one of those things I really enjoy and Christmas allows for them to be focused and anticipated every year.

I’ll leave you with some do’s and don’ts:

Don’t spike the eggnog

Don’t stand under icicles

Don’t sit on Santa’s lap in an alleyway

Do spike your coffee

Do bundle up if it’s snowing

Do watch Christmas Vacation with a room full of friends and strangers (if you can)

Call to Action:  My hope is that you all have a great Christmas this year.  Even if past ones have not been worth remembering, I hope this one is.  Be with the ones you love.  Make sure to let them know how much you appreciate their being a part of your life.

Sunday Levity: Christmas!!!

posted in: Life, Sunday Levity | 0

Tis the season!  Ho ho ho!  Ah nuts!

It’s Sunday and you all know I put on the relax and rest machine.  Decided to share some stuff that made me laugh and hopefully it does the same for you.

I really want to do this at work…

So many great quotes from Elf.

The Santa Claus is one of those movies that I appreciate more as an adult because the jokes land better when you’re older.

One of my favorites is Scrooged.  Bill Murray at Christmas is the best.

Christmas Vacation is my favorite movie to watch and I can always watch it (though everyone else seems to be done with it and wants a longer gap between viewings.  You had eleven months!  You want more?!)

Call to Action: The season is all about being with loved ones and letting them know how much they mean to you.  Not through gifts but through time spent.  Play games, watch movies, sing carols (if that’s your thing), and enjoy it!

On This Day – 18 November 1985 – Calvin and Hobbes First Published

My first exposure to Calvin and Hobbes came when I was probably around thirteen years old at my grandparent’s house.  My grandpa had recently received or bought one of the collection books and had it on the living room table.  I picked it up and was pulled into the world of the precocious six year old and his imaginary best friend/stuffed Bengal tiger.

Suffice to say, Calvin and Hobbes will always remind of my grandpa.  I have great memories of growing up and creating outlandish scenarios with him (his imagination was just as a vast a child’s).  This coincides with my love for Calvin and Hobbes because the comic strip is more about imagination than it is about a misbehaved child.  Just peruse the examples I’ve included in my post.

As a thirteen year old (I’ll remind you I was not reading a whole lot during this time of my life), I naturally gravitated more to the pictures and art of comic strips to understand Calvin’s current escapade.  As I grew up though, I began to read beyond the more minimal scenarios and found a great intellect and wonder in the kid.  His alternate personas (Spaceman Spiff, Tracer Bullet, and Stupendous Man) exemplified my own imagination as I played with action figures and created several different characters and worlds faced with conflict (a precursor to my days of writing).
We’ve been blessed with ten years of Calvin and Hobbes by the great Bill Watterson.  I continue to revert back to the comic strip whenever I need a quick laugh.  In my mind, there is no better cartoon strip for children and you can bet my kids will be introduced to it at a young age.
Call to Action: What are your memories of Calvin and Hobbes?  I’d love to know how others first encountered the strip and how it has affected them in life.  Also, check out the great documentary, “Dear Mr. Watterson,” if you can find it.  It’s a great exploration of the comic and its creator.

Sunday Levity: The Swanson Way

posted in: Film/TV, Sunday Levity | 4

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a Sunday Levity post so I jumped at the chance to offer one.  There are an abundance of tv characters that I enjoy but none is quite like Ron Swanson from Parks and Rec (may it rest in peace).  Whenever I need some humor to bust away at the drudgeries that like to cling to me, all I need is some Parks and Rec.  Enjoy these small examples of the Swanson Way at work.

  

Call to Action: What are your favorite moments from the show?  Please share!

Sunday Levity: Just Relaxin’

posted in: Reading, Sunday Levity | 2


Hello all!  I’m here in beautiful Colorado surrounded by a big blue sky and the Rockies (not the team, that’s tomorrow).  Today’s a relaxing day.  After two days of driving, I am excited to be here, enjoying the weather and out of the Mojave Desert heat of hell!

I came across some things that made me laugh and wanted to share.

I’m a weirdo.  I’m OCD about very little but when it comes to book series, I want them all to be of the same cover style and even backing, which means I hate having a mixture of paper and hardback books of a series.  It’s a pet peeve.  I want them all to be the same size and design.

I don’t think I’m alone when it comes to this.  Even if I am reading a book I don’t particularly like, I have to finish it.  I will muscle through a multi-hundred page book no matter what!  Once I finish, I exhale, grab a new book from my “to read pile”, make some coffee and read.

I need this mug.  If you are a friend and want to buy me a congratulatory gift, this is it.  Nothing else.  Just.  This.  Mug.

Alright!  Hope you enjoyed the quick read today.  Be on the lookout for funny stuff like this.  I’m such a word nerd and love these kinds of things.

Sunday Levity: Pun Fun!

posted in: Sunday Levity | 2


I’d like to dedicate this Sunday Levity post to my sister-in-law.  She’s a punner.

Puns nowadays can almost seem kitsch.  Dad jokes are soaked in them yet there seems to be this continual employ of them in our water cooler circles.  Sometimes, they can be funny and unexpected.  Sometimes they are clever and earn the slow clap treatment.

Whatever your feelings towards the play on words, I hope you are having a great Sunday and surrounded by people you love and love you back.

Enjoy the video I’ve attached!  It’s punny!

Sunday Levity: What Not to Say to Writers

posted in: Sunday Levity, Writing | 2

Sorry about the smaller pic but I thought this was a great list and definitely worthy of the Sunday Levity post.

I have heard these many a times but I’ll go over my favorites and give my best sarcastic answers.

2. Must be nice not having a real job.

It really is!  I just wake up each morning at whatever time I feel like, make some coffee, watch some Netflix, eat lunch, and then if I feel like it, hash out a couple thousand words and send them off to my agent.  Then, I eat dinner and watch more Netflix and finally go to bed whenever I feel like it.  The best part is, I just let the money role in from royalties as I’m counting sheep.  Ah, the good life.

7. Can I be a character in one of your stories?

Oh, but you already are!  Trust me, you’ll be happy once you see yourself but I have to warn you, I’m not responsible for the things that happen to you.

10. You’re writing a book?  Tell me everything.

Well, you see, there’s this guy and he does this thing and this other thing happens and this guy, you know, the one I mentioned before.  Well, you see, he has to do this one thing, but that turns into this other thing, and then he finds out he did it all wrong.  So, well, you see, he has to go back and correct his mistake just he can get to the end and find true happiness.

LOL.  Honestly, I’m not this snarky in real life and probably wouldn’t answer these questions that way but I cannot help writing sarcasm.  Scathing and biting are the most colorful in the sarcasm tones.  Have a great Sunday everyone!

Sunday Levity: A Father’s Pride

posted in: Life, Sunday Levity, Uncategorized | 3

Just as I did for Mother’s Day, I’m going to give equal love to the guy who is my dad.  He’s amazing and we are very much opposites.  He’s analytical and I’m not.  He’s got dad jokes up the wazoo and I’ve got biting sarcasm that got me in all sorts of trouble as a kid.  He likes all the Transformers movies and I’m more ambivalent about them.

Where we are alike is in our creative minds.  He’s an inventor at heart, always thinking of ways to expand technology in the world.  I can’t go into details but I’m pretty sure he could create a teleportation device.  He has a wealth of knowledge that I continue to draw from to this day.  Rather than telling me to go look it up on the internet (which is my default all too often), he will do his best to show me and teach me.

I’ve learned a great deal about the sacrifices a father makes for his wife and children through my dad.  He didn’t do everything right along the way but he’s made a substantial effort in keeping relationship with my sister and I as well as adopting our respective spouses, going out of his way to make them feel part of the family.  His example helps me to look forward to when I’m a dad myself.  He’s awesome and amazing in his own right and he should be proud to be my dad.

Sunday Levity: A Mother’s Joy

posted in: Sunday Levity | 1


So today’s Mother’s Day!  I can’t say enough good things about my mom to be honest.  She’s amazing and wonderful and one of the most genuine people I’ve had the privilege to know.  Her patience with people is amazing.  We have quite a few people in our family who are capable of testing one’s patience in a few ways.  She can hang no matter the situation.

And she always had the answers to hard questions!!!

Best of all for me is that she supported from the very beginning when I told her one day back in 2003 that I started writing fantasy and had a passion to be a writer.  She might be my biggest fan yet!!!

While I was never the problem child like Calvin, I know my sister and I tested our mom’s nerves on several occasions.  She’s the best and we have a lot of memories of laughter whether joking or watching movies like What About Bob? and Ferris Bueler’s Day Off.  There has never been a time where we couldn’t talk and have great conversations.  She is the best and lucky to have me as a son.

Sunday Levity: Easters Edition

posted in: Sunday Levity, Writing | 0

I think of two things on Easter: the death and resurrection of Jesus and Nacho Libre.

Enjoy the day in however way you choose!  If you’re the type to spend all day eating glazed ham, mashed potatoes, greens and wondering why we eat the same foods for all three major food and family holidays or just like to relax, then you should appreciate those you’re with.

Call to Action: Watch Nacho Libre and leave a comment with some awesome quotes from the movie!

Sunday Levity: More Writing Rules

posted in: Sunday Levity, Writing | 0


Another worthy list with plenty of good info for writers.  I know these Sunday Levity posts are short but it’s a matter of relaxing and taking the day from a place of rest.  Enjoy and look for the next blog post on Tuesday, which will feature the latest updates for novella 1 of the Ravanguard series, “Dim the Veil”.  I cannot wait to share!

Also, it’s opening day and Go Giants!

Sunday Levity: Word Crimes

posted in: Sunday Levity, Writing | 0

Just another Sunday Levity post today, friends.  I’m a word guy all the way.  The more I learn about writing, the more fun (is that correct usage?) I have taking words and assembling them in a way that entertains and tells a story.  Being a word guy though has its downside.  I struggle with horrible usage and grammar.  We see it a lot these days in our culture and I would love nothing more than to be the word police…but…I cannot.  I told myself years ago I would never be that guy who corrects people (unless you’re Gabe).  Otherwise, it’s not my place, lol.  So, what I do instead is get a little chuckle whenever I come across some truly funny misuses.  Better than that, when I make mistakes (and yes I do it too), I laugh at myself.

So, I’ve attached a little video for you all to enjoy.

Sunday Levity: Funny Signs

posted in: Sunday Levity | 1

It’s all about laughing today!  Sundays are meant for rest and laughing.  I’m convinced of that.  Take a moment, sip some coffee if you have it and relax.  I decided that these posts on Sunday will be more lighthearted, quick and easy.  The next blog post should be up Tuesday.  I’ll be working with one of my beta readers this afternoon, going from page to page, fixing small things.  I’ll probably write a post on this in the coming days just to share the benefits of editing the book this way.  Enjoy and have an amazing day!


Doesn’t this ring true for us?!  Hahaha!


Kudos for originality!


Makes you think…


This is not me but I know people like this.  Okay…maybe it’s a little me.  Hate’s a very strong word though.  I prefer detest.


I seriously want this for when we have a house.  More because it’s funny…partly true.

Have a great day!  Read a good book!  Spend time with your loved ones!  Just enjoy life!

 

Sunday Levity: Laugh a Little

posted in: Sunday Levity | 0


Seriously, do yourself a service and just search through Mark Twain quotes.  He truly was a unique mind that found humor in a great deal of society and situations.  Some are actually very relevant to today as well.

I persuade myself to sit back and look for funny and humorous things.  I do it to unplug from the things of the world for a short time.  Whatever your brand of comedy is, indulge in it.  Laughter opens the soul.  Let in the light and dispel with the serious stuffiness that comes at you from all angles.

Sunday Levity: Laughter Prevails

posted in: Sunday Levity | 0


This short post comes from my simple sitting back and not engaging the world in its full spectrum of divisive positions.  In short, I prefer to observe from a distance for the time being and take solace in the little things that bring me laughter and joy.

I have no intention here other than being honest (very few probably actually care to know my opinion of the current social climate of the nation).  I encourage everyone to be slow to anger and simply take moments throughout your days and go to the things that make you smile.  Laugh a little.  It does the soul good.

May I suggest simply going to Pinterest and typing in “funny”.  Take a few minutes and scroll.  You’ll be glad you did!

Call to action: Even if you don’t feel like it, take my suggestion and run with it!

Sunday Levity: Today’s Topic is Sarcasm

posted in: Sunday Levity | 0

Good morning to you all!  Well, I need some levity this morning.  Life is good and I can’t complain over anything except I still haven’t taken a shower yet (I’m getting there…)
I needed to relax and laugh and here is the best way I know how.  Here are some good definitions from one of the best Christmas presents:

Burrito: A delicious way to alienate the guests at the party you will soon be attending.

Hippie: Someone God always turns into a corporate executive just to make sure we never lose our sense of irony.

Monopoly: A board game that allows family members the thrill of screwing each other over financially.

No: A word not understood by dogs, children or commissioned salespeople.

Opinionated: Knowing absolutely nothing really loudly.

If you like these few, look for the book below at your physical or online bookstore (probably have more luck at your online one though):