Sunday, June 29, 2008

WTF? Moments

Have you ever been watching a movie, no enjoying a movie, when something happens that throws you completely out of the moment?

Me too.

I call those WTF? moments.

There is no science to WTF? moments. I'm sure the things that I find jarring won't necessarily bother someone else. But I know we all have our little pet peeves that sometimes take away our enjoyment of our favorite movies.

One thing that gets me are the BIG explosions that the main characters somehow always manage to survive. Sometimes this isn't a big deal. Other times this becomes a big deal when it seems to happen a lot.

Case in point: I was watching "Live Free or Die Hard" yesterday. I already mentioned in a previous review that this movie had a lot of oh come on moments in it, but it wasn't until re-watching it that I decided to characterize it as a WTF? movie. Don't get me wrong, it's a fun movie for what it is. But realistic doesn't come to mind. And there are a lot of explosions. The first one comes when Bruce Willis' character rescues the hapless computer hacker played by Justin Long. The bad guys have rigged a bomb to Long's computer and the whole apartment blows up. Miraculously, Willis and Long survive while all the bad guys in the apartment are blown up. Okay. I'll play along. But then, later in the movie, Willis and Long are in another explosion--- at a power plant where all the natural gas lines have been routed to their location and yes, it explodes. Somehow they manage to run really fast and get ahead of the explosion- because we all know that's possible. Don't even get me started on the woman who was hit by a car at high speed but not only survives without any apparent injury, but fights Willis in an elevator shaft-- in the car. And need I mention the scene where Willis walks on a jet?

Another common WTF? moment for me is when only the bad guys are hit by the bullets. I'm trying to think of what I watched recently that had this going on.... Oh yeah, "Mr. & Mrs. Smith." Now, I love this movie. I love black comedies and I think "Mr & Mrs. Smith" is great. I don't know if I should even really mention the scene at the end when Pitt and Jolie have a massive shootout with a bunch of assassins sent to kill them. This isn't a movie that's really meant to be realistic. But I have to admit, the sheer number of people they were facing, and killing, kind of threw me out of the fantasy. I kept thinking, there's no way they'd survive.... But I know, I know you've seen other movies where this happens. I'd be willing to bet if I go back and watch any number of Arnold Schwarzenegger films, he is rarely hit by a bullet. I bet Rambo doesn't get hit a lot either.

Speaking of Schwarzenegger.... I remember watching "True Lies" not too long ago, or maybe it was "Eraser," I can't remember. But I recall a scene in which Arnold is shot in the arm, but within moments is hanging, one handed, by that arm, as if nothing is wrong. It must be nice to be able to shake off a severe injury like that, don't you think? Pretty much every action movie I have ever seen, from "Die Hard" to "Kill Bill," has characters of incredible resilience. I wish I was that tough.

Helicopters are another great action movie conceit. How many times have we watched helicopters maneuver through tunnels during a car chase? And how many times have we watched a guy with a hand gun shoot one down? Although, I think I have only seen one movie ("Live Free or Die Hard" again) in which someone catapults a car at a helicopter to bring it down. I have watched countless fights on the skids of a helicopter as well as many miraculous rescues in which the hero hoists himself up on the skids to safety. My, helicopters are handy aren't they?

I also can't think of any kind of flight without thinking about all the times I have seen someone jump out of a plane without a parachute after the bad-guy. I don't know if James Bond started this trend ("Moonraker") but it has popped up in a lot of movies. It also inspired another brand of incredible stupidity-- Travis Pastrana jumping out of a plane without a parachute-- though it appears to have been done with a tiny bit of safety in mind.



Don't try this at home kids.

I could go on and on. From the scene in "The Transporter" in which Jason Statham scrapes a bomb off the bottom of a car by flipping it upside down and using a crane to take it off in mid-air to all the times I have seen a car (or a bus as in "Speed") survive impossible jumps and remain intact.

I guess the reason I mention all of this is that I hate it when I am jarred out of the happy fantasy that a movie creates by heavy-handed stunts. I know that most of my favorite movies are impossible from beginning to end. I know that Terminators aren't real. I get it. But show me a hero that looks a little dirty. Show me a car that won't run after an accident. Show me an arm that stays injured after taking a bullet. Let me get through the two hour movie I paid a fortune for without a WTF? moment. Just once.

And please. No more copycat stunts done by real people. YouTube scares me sometimes.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Just Right

As much fun as I have picking apart the casting choices in different movies, I suppose I should acknowledge when it gets done right. The fact is, I get a lot of enjoyment out my favorite sci-fi/fantasy action films, and it's only fair to give credit where credit is due.

Though it is more fun to be a little snarky.

Anyway. Here are my picks for the best casting in movie/TV roles.

Tobey Maguire as Spiderman

I don't think I could have imagined a more perfect Peter Parker. It would have been so easy to cast a typical face-of-the-moment guy who looks pretty, but doesn't really keep to the spirit of the role. But this time, the movie-makers cast the part based on who fit it the best. Maguire captures that slightly geeky, everyman quality that is so essential to the comic book character of Peter Parker to perfection.

Daniel Craig as James Bond

I admit it. I wasn't a believer when Craig was first cast as Bond. I had only seen him in "Tomb Raider" and I remembered him as being slight, wiry and very blond. I had been a fan of Pierce Brosnan up until I saw "Casino Royale" because I thought he looked the part. But Craig showed there is a whole lot more to being Bond than being able to wear a tux. Craig not only beefed up considerably to play Bond, he also brought a rugged, world-weariness to the role that woke up the whole franchise. He made Bond exciting again and I love him for it. I cannot wait for "Quantum of Solace."


Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft

The great thing about a character like Lara Croft is that she's fun and the part doesn't require an actress as much as someone who can kick ass. I suppose, since Jolie has an Oscar, you could say we got both. I don't know that Jolie brought her acting chops to the role as much as she brought attitude. Croft is a video game character so she doesn't have to be that deep, she just has to be tough -- and hot. I remember seeing the movie posters for the film before it was released and I couldn't believe how much Jolie looked like the video game character. It's a silly thing to look for I suppose, but I kind of liked that she fit the part so well. For me, she made the movie a lot of fun. It's great, escapist entertainment and I can't see anyone else pulling it off as well.

Tom Hanks as Forrest Gump

Whenever I think of an actor who became the role, I think of Tom Hanks as Forrest Gump. I have seen the movie a dozen times at least and it never seems like I'm watching an actor play a part. I'm not even sure I can explain it, but I feel like I'm watching Forrest Gump instead of Tom Hanks whenever I watch that movie. I appreciate the innocence he brought to the role and I truly believe he deserves the Oscar he won for playing the part.

Harrison Ford as Han Solo & Indiana Jones

You gotta love Harrison Ford. He created not one, but two iconic roles that no one can ever touch. Both characters have a bit of the rogue in them, a twinkle of the eye that is all Ford. But they're distinctly different characters as well. Han is the reluctant hero; the guy who never thought he'd be the one to rush to the rescue. Indy is the scholar and the action hero all rolled into one. I can't imagine another actor making those characters as believable or as lovable.

Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow

I won't say the "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies are the best franchise out there. In fact, I will go so far to say I might not have watched any of them had it not been for Johnny Depp. I can't imagine what made Depp choose to base the character on Keith Richards, but it was an inspired bit of insanity. Sparrow is, without a doubt, the one thing that makes the "Pirates" movie interesting. Sadly, there was sooo many scenes with other people in them that made my interest in the series wane. But I did like Johnny.

Patrick Stewart as Professor Xavier

It would seem like a no-brainer to cast Patrick Stewart in the role of Professor Xavier, but that doesn't make him any less perfect for the role. I've always like Stewart. I'm one of those people who choose Picard over Kirk. In a way, it's hard to find something to say about him in this role. I don't feel like there was anything special he had to do to become Xavier. It's like he was born to play the role.

Arnold Schwarzenegger as The Terminator

No, Arnold is not a great actor. But he is perfect to play the role of a cyborg isn't he? Arnie fits this role in every way possible. His face, which looks chiseled out of a piece of rock, looks like the face of a robot. His speech, accent and all, sounds like what a robot might sound like if it was trying to mimic human speech. All I can say is that Arnold was inspired casting for this role.

Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman

I don't think it's any accident that no one has replace Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman yet. Joss Whedon was supposed to write and direct a new Wonder Woman, but pulled out of the project. I don't know if casting was an issue, but I can believe it was a near impossible task to find someone to live up to the standard Carter set. Not only was she drop-dead gorgeous, but she managed to take a hokey role and do something with it. This is a show that could have died after a few episodes if it hadn't had someone like Carter in the title role. I don't envy any actress who tries to fill Carter's shoes.

Christopher Reeve as Superman

...Speaking of filling someone's shoes. When "Superman Returns" came out, I thought Brandon Routh seemed like a fine choice for the role of Superman. Until I saw the movie. It wasn't that Routh was bad, but it seemed like he was doing a Christopher Reeve impersonation the whole time. Clearly, Reeve set the bar. Reeve looked the part for sure, but somehow, he brought the sense of wonder that is so essential to the role of Superman. The character could be so arrogant in unskilled hands. But Reeve gave the man of steel a heart. No matter what, Reeve will always be Superman to me.

Christian Bale as Batman

As far as I'm concerned, Bale saved Batman. Batman had been dying a slow death in the hands of George Clooney. I'm sorry, but I had to say it. I know that Batman had been campy in the 60's with Adam West, and that was fine then. But I couldn't stand what had happened to the character in the 80's and 90's. Thank goodness Bale agreed to play the role. Maybe "Batman Begins" would have been as good with someone else. I don't know. But I liked the toughness Bale brought to the movie. It was impressive how he bulked up to play the part (especially so soon after making The Machinist). Bale is one of those actors who really commits to a role and I sincerely admire that. I can't wait to see how he does as John Connor in the next Terminator movie.

Matt Damon as Jason Bourne

I love the Bourne movies. I'm a big fan of good spy thrillers in general but too many of them attempt to be Bond rip-off's that they rarely live up to the hype. Bourne does. The Bourne movies are great because they have fast, intense fight scenes and the sneaky spy parts. Matt Damon has become integral to the part because he pulls it all off. He seems smart enough to be the spy and tough enough to be the fighter. He seems credible as the bewildered tough-guy who doesn't just want to know what's going on, but needs to know. When I think of other actors who might have been tapped to play the role, like Mark Whalberg, I think nah.... It just wouldn't have been as good.

Ben Stiller as Gaylord "Greg" Focker

This is probably the only time I will ever, ever say that I not only liked Ben Stiller in a role, but that I thought he was the most suited for it. There's just something so awkward about Stiller's character in "Meet the Parents". You don't really believe that he could get the hot girl but you can believe that he'd be totally intimidated by Robert Deniro. Then again, who wouldn't? No one else that I can think of could have pulled off the scene where he talks about milking a cat either. He seems like a guy who would do that doesn't he? I also loved the casting of Barbara Streisand and Dustin Hoffman as his parents in "Meet the Fockers." So great.

Anglica Huston as Morticia Addams

I was only 20 when "The Addams Family" came out, so you may have to give me some slack on liking this one. Who knows, maybe I'm not so silly for thinking that was a fun movie. I like Huston as Morticia Addams-- and I liked Raúl Juliá too. Angelica always cracked me up in this role, especially while she was giving birth in the second movie. Maybe this wasn't a hard role to play but she brought her sense of humor and she looked great.

My "on-the-fence" picks.

Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark--- I loved Downey in this role. No question. The only reason I haven't definitely put him in the only-he-can-play-it category is because I don't know enough about the Iron Man character to say for sure. Plus, I really want to see a few sequels to be sure. The more the better.

Tom Welling as a young Superman-- I like Tom Welling a lot. I think he's great as a young Clark Kent. (( I also like Michael Rosenbaum as Lex)) I'm just not sure that the role has been completely sealed as his yet.

Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy the Vampire Slayer-- I liked Buffy. I watched probably every episode. But Sarah got on my nerves now and then. I'm not sure if it was the character being annoying, or Sarah. Kristy Swanson also played the role, so it's been claimed by two women, but I'm not sure it's been owned by either one of them.

Katee Sackoff as Starbuck-- I still think Starbuck should have been a guy. But in casting the role to a woman I think Katee has made it hers. There are times when she drives me nuts, but Starbuck is fairly crazy. I think Sackoff has made the role hers as much as anyone could. I'm just not sure it was created the right way.

So that's my personal list of favorites. You may or may not agree. I'd think you were wrong...;)

So tell me. Who are your favorites? Who have I forgotten to mention?

Monday, June 23, 2008

Miscast

"Mr. & Mrs. Smith" was on TV today and as I was doing chores I was watching it, and laughing out loud a lot. I like black comedies and I kept thinking to myself how funny Brad Pitt was in the role because I liked his goofiness. Of course, my thoughts then digressed to what the movie would have been like if another actor had been cast.....

What about all those movies in which you know the wrong actor was picked to play the role?

I remember when it was first announced that Daniel Craig was going to take over as James Bond and I thought no way! That guy is not even cool enough for the role. Was I ever wrong.

So you can imagine how hard it is to cast a movie. There have to be times when the casting seems like a good idea at the time, but I expect once filming starts it becomes obvious when the casting is just all wrong.

And then there are the movies that make us think, how the hell did they ever think this was a good idea???

Here's my list of the most miscast roles I can think of off the top of my head.

Jessica Alba in The Fantastic Four

I don't think one has to have any particular feelings about Jessica Alba one way or another to come to the conclusion that she was all wrong for this role. I mean really, Sue Storm? The blond, all American girl? Sister to Johnny Storm (played by Chris Evans)? When did this ever seem like a good idea? I thought Alba came across as too shrill and she never interacted naturally enough with Evans to play his sister. And do I need to mention the horrible dye job? Wrong wrong wrong.

Kevin Costner in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves

I haven't watched this movie in years because it I couldn't put myself through it again. I can't begin to understand why this iconic role would not be filled by an English actor, much less Kevin Costner. I think this film was done not too long after "Dances With Wolves" and Costner was in full arrogance and thought he could do anything. Clearly speaking with an English accent was not one of his skills.

Hayden Christensen & Jake Lloyd in the second Star Wars Trilogy

I know I'm not alone in having problems with the last three "Star Wars" movies George Lucas produced. I think one of my biggest complaints has to be the casting. This was the time to really lay down the character of Darth Vader and I can't help but feel that Lucas failed miserably. Lloyd can be excused for being a little kid-- he couldn't really help it that he wasn't suited for the role. But Christensen has not proven that he ever had the acting ability to pull off a young Vader. I wanted to blame Lucas' directing, but I keep hearing that Christensen is pretty wooden in everything he does ("Jumper" being the latest example). On the other hand-- Lucas had to have had his pick of virtually anyone for the role(s), why did he pick these two?

Tom Cruise in Interview With a Vampire

I know a lot of people go back and forth on this one. A lot of people have come to the conclusion that Cruise did a good job in the role of the vampire Lestat. Maybe. But I still feel as if Cruise was all wrong. I remember when I read the book, Lestat seemed very delicate and charismatic. Cruise could potentially pull off the charismatic part, but he could never be called delicate looking. Lestat was the rock star, all lithe grace and sinuous movement. Cruise is bold and never subtle. The image in my head never gelled with the casting of Cruise.

Ben Affleck in Daredevil

I've heard that there are people out there that didn't mind Affleck in this role. I'm not one of them. I wanted to like this movie a whole lot but I could never buy into Affleck as Matt Murdock. Maybe it's because he never seemed like the guy who would have enough discipline, or smarts, to become Daredevil. Maybe he's just too goofy for me. I don't know. I like it when real actors are picked to portray my favorite comic book heroes, like Christian Bale and Robert Downey Jr. Wouldn't someone like Bale have been kick-ass in this role? Maybe they'll remake it someday with someone tough enough to pull off the character.

Kate Bosworth in Superman Returns

I didn't like Bosworth as Lois Lane. I don't know if that was because of how the character was written or because Bosworth wasn't convincing. This might be a case in which I am picking on the actor when really, the movie is to blame. It never did have the magic of the original. But then, it was basically just a copy of a good movie that didn't need a remake. But I still think the movie might have been better had they cast someone who could play Lois with a little more life. You may or may not have liked Margot Kidder as Lois, but you have to admit, she had a lot more sass than Bosworth did.

Denise Richards in The World is not Enough

Denise Richards as a nuclear physicist? This was a good idea? Ever?

Will Smith in The Wild Wild West

This movie was soooo bad. I'm not even sure I should pick on Will Smith exclusively. It was bad enough that the original TV series was mangled so badly and Will Smith was cast in the role of Jim West, but Kenneth Branagh was horrible! I don't think I have ever sat through this whole film. In fact, I doubt casting anyone other than Smith could have saved this film, but the casting was a mistake too.

Ben Stiller & Owen Wilson in Starsky & Hutch

Why did these two have to go and ruin Starsky & Hutch? Why? I admit it. I like the old series. I don't remember it much from when I was a kid but I've managed to catch a couple of episodes since then and it was not a bad show. It could have been a decent cop movie, but no, Stiller and Wilson had to get their hands on it and turn it into another retarded spoof. That just irritates me. But then, Stiller and Wilson irritate me in just about anything.

People I'm "on the fence" about

Keanu Reeves in "The Matrix" -- I don't know that the movie suffered because he was in the role, but how much better could it have been with someone who could act?

Michael Keaton in "Batman"-- I never thought Keaton looked the part. Batman should have a square jaw and be at least six-feet tall. Shouldn't he?

Kirsten Dunst in "Spiderman"-- I'm not sure if it's the role I don't like or the actress. Maybe it's just the hair.

Keira Knightley in "Pirates of the Caribbean"-- I didn't mind her in the first one but she irritated me in the sequels. Is it me, or is her mouth always open?


That's all I have right now. I'm sure if I have time to think about it, I could come up with a ton more. But now it's your job. Tell me who drives you crazy in a particular role. And just for kicks, maybe let me know who you think would have done it better.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Kung Fu Panda.... I'm a little surprised at all the glowing reviews

Just as I predicted, I was unable to escape the Panda. The massive marketing campaign seeped into the unsuspecting mind of my children until it wove its evil web around my....

Okay, maybe I'm being a little dramatic.

But the Panda has been in my face a lot lately and we finally succumbed to the pressure and took the kids to see the movie today.

Overall, I thought it was cute enough but not a movie I would rave about. Before we went and saw it I went to Rotten Tomatoes to check out the reviews and saw an 88% positive rating so I expected the movie to be better than my first impressions would indicate. But really, it didn't do as much for me as I had hoped it would.

Plot-wise the movie is very simple. Po (Jack Black) is a Panda who dreams of being a Kung Fu master. Hearing about a martial arts demonstration in which the legendary Dragon Master will be chosen, Po launches himself into the middle of the proceedings. Po is then chosen, apparently by accident, to be the Dragon Master, to the anger of the other martial arts masters who were vying for the title.

The other masters, called the "Furious Five" are voiced by Angelina Jolie, Seth Rogan, Lucy Liu, Jackie Chan and David Cross; though you'd only be likely to recognize Jolie's voice as she is the only one given more than one or two lines. Predictably, they're not too happy with the title of Dragon Master going to Po. And Po, for his part, is earnest, clumsy and not at all convinced he is the Dragon Master either.

However, the martial arts master (Dustin Hoffman) does begin to train Po after a former student escapes prison and the Dragon Master is said to be the only one who can defeat him. Po's training consists mostly of using food as encouragement and his clumsy attempts are amusing and fun to watch.

For what it's worth, my kids really liked the movie. But I found I couldn't dredge up more than a perfunctory interest. Jack Black wasn't bad in the role of Po, but I wouldn't go so far as to say the role was "made" for him. There were a few times where his personality seeped into the dialogue, but nothing to the extent that Robin Williams took over the role of the genie in "Aladdin."

Mostly though, I was baffled at how little the celebrity talent that was hired to voice the film was used. Most of the dialogue was between Po and Shifu (Hoffman) with Jolie filling in most of the other gaps. For the life of me I can't figure out why the producers of the movie would pay to hire actors like Liu, Rogan and Chan and not use them hardly at all.

But my complaints are that of an adult viewer. I have been so spoiled by films like "The Incredibles" that I look for that kind of quality of storytelling whenever I take my kids to see a movie. "Kung Fu Panda" is bouncy and entertaining and delivers its fair share of chuckles. But the simplicity of the plot left me with kind of a "meh" feeling about it. I also didn't feel like this was a must-see-on-the-big-screen-movie. The visuals were pretty but not stunning and the fight scenes were more comedic than anything else. For what it is, "Kung Fu Panda" is cute, but not worth all the rave reviews I've seen-- in my oh-so-humble opinion.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Okay then, let's put it to a vote

I had no idea when I put up my BSG post and mentioned Lucy Lawless that I would get the response I did. People love Xena don't they. But is she the coolest woman in sci-fi? I don't know. I think she's great, but you gotta admit, there's a lot of kick-ass women who show up in our favorite films and tv shows. Plus, there are so many women who paved the way for the Lucy Lawless' of the world. So who rocks them all?
Your title
Who is the coolest woman of sci-fi
Lucy Lawless
Angelina Jolie
Katee Sackoff
Linda Hamilton
Lynda Carter
Sigourney Weaver
Michelle Yeoh
Jennifer Garner
Kate Beckinsdale
Carrie Ann Moss
Other

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

My newest obsession


It's official. I have no life.

We bought Rock Band.

My husband and I have been playing Guitar Hero for months now and since our interest hasn't waned, we decided to get Rock Band so we could try our hand at the drums.

I suspect we will spend far too many weekends indoors.

I even got my daughter to sing today. That's right. We're breeding a whole new generation of geeks.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Things I've learned from watching the new Battlestar Galactica

First, let me geek out a minute over this show. I love the show this season. Obviously the writers are throwing revelations at us fast and furiously because the show is supposed to end this season. (Though now they're breaking mid-season, ending in '09 and talking about doing some BSG movies after the show is over. Clearly this series isn't going to die a premature death like "Firefly").

The show has kept me riveted this season and I need to be a nerd-girl for a minute because I don't have a single person who isn't a visitor to my blog to geek out with. I haven't been able to get my husband to watch the show with me and somehow we're still married. But what that means after every show is that I am left without anyone to say OMG! Can you believe what they did? ((Though the ending of Friday's show was slightly predictable. I was wondering if they were going to do a "Planet of the Apes" kind of thing and it sure looks like they did.... ))

Anyway.... Long story short. I want to share with you what I have learned from watching the new BSG. And please, feel free to share with me any bits of wisdom you have gained from the show.

Even in deep space, if you're a Cylon, you will have a stunning wardrobe.


Maybe it's because the cylons knew they were going to destroy the planet that they packed all those great clothes.



It doesn't matter if you're batshit crazy as long as you can fly a viper.


I have a love/hate relationship with Starbuck. I like her when she's "defying authority" but I don't like her when she's cruel for no apparent reason. I wonder if she's bi-polar?



Nepotism does work; especially if your name is Lee Adama.


Don't get me wrong. I love Lee Adama. I especially love looking at him. But they've been in space, what? Two years? Three years? And he's already commanded a Battlestar and been president? Yeah, the old man pulled a few strings....


New Age prophets are the rock stars of the future.


Baltar has managed to recreate himself into a new age messiah and I must say it's working for him. The religious groupies on a Battlestar are much better looking than the ones that followed Charles Manson.



You can't have a sci-fi show on TV without hiring Lucy Lawless to join the cast. ((She's basically the Heather Locklear of sci-fi))



Okay. I know she's not on every sci-fi show. But you have to admit, she shows up a lot.

The technology exists to make Battlestars but the phones are surprisingly primitive.

Maybe they never thought of inventing the "Star Trek" communicators.



Cylon women are hot.




No explanation necessary.

P.S. Any thoughts on the final cylon? D'Anna said the final cylon wasn't with the fleet while Roslin, Baltar and many of the pilots were on the cylon baseship-- does that mean it's Baltar or Roslin? Is there anyone else I'm overlooking?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Oy!....... and a Winner.

I don't know about everyone else, but when I have personal stuff going on, I pretty much can't function anymore. I write about my stuff a little bit on my personal blog but I don't really feel like I should do it here too much. A little self-pity goes a long way and I don't want to wear out my welcome. To make a long story short, my family is crazy. Oh wait. Yours is too? Whew. It's nice to know I'm not alone. Anyway. I feel the need to get back on track. For those of you who have sent books to me-- first, I love you. Second, I haven't forgotten about a single one. I have sent some off to a guest reviewer so I can get to them faster but I will do my darndest to get some reviews up very soon. And the last bit of business is the short story giveaway I have going on. Time to pick a winner..... And the winner of my "Short Story 2" collection is Shaun Duke! Congrats Shaun! Thanks to everyone who entered. I have many more books to giveaway so keep an eye out.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

I'm a bad blog buddy.... ***UPDATED**

P'Dub is having another Zune giveaway on her blog today. Sign up by 10:00 pm Pacific time TODAY to win. Oh, I feel so awful. I meant to mention that Heather over at Galaxy Express has a contest to win a copy of Moonstruck by Susan Grant and I forgot! Luckily for me (and you) Heather is going to offer another copy up for grabs soon, so be on the lookout for it. Also, if you haven't entered to win the short story collection I have up for giveaway, scroll down and check out the contest. I will be picking out a winner tomorrow, so get your entries in.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Lord Save Me From the Panda

Is it me? Or is "Kung Fu Panda" everywhere?

I took my kids to the mall last week because my daughter needed a pair of shoes. Before we even made it inside my son was pointing and exclaiming, "look mom, "Kung Fu Panda!" I didn't think too much of it at this point because he was just pointing at a poster that was near the entrance.

Then we get inside the mall and I hear "look mom!" again and I see that every 20 feet, or so, there are "Kung Fu Panda" banners strung up along the aisle of the mall. All the way down.

Wow. How much does that cost to do nationwide?

Then I get to the kiosk to buy my daughter her shoes (she wanted Crocs) and I see a 10 foot tall panda standing right there in the middle of the mall.

What the heck?

Is there a giant panda standing in the middle of all the major malls across America?

Of course there is now a "Kung Fu Panda" in every Happy Meal you buy right now and I'm sure if I wanted to buy a "Kung Fu Panda" flavored ice cream at Baskin Robbins I probably could-- though that's purely speculation. There's a panda on the package of waffles I bought today too.

Where will the insanity end?

Naturally my kids want to see "Kung Fu Panda" in the theatre, which is the point of all this marketing madness. But I can't help but wonder if all the money they spent on marketing is worth it. Does the final profit justify the massive amount of hype?

I guess it must. Because now they're painting men green on American Gladiators to promote the new "Incredible Hulk" movie.

Personally I just find that disturbing.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Ghost Hunters


I have a confession and a gripe. First the confession: I love the Sci-Fi Channel's "Ghost Hunters". I've always been a sucker for the paranormal, especially for those shows where the door was opened to exploring the supernatural with an eye toward belief. I loved Nimoy's "In Search Of" and I even enjoyed the cheesy Fox Family "Scariest Places" shows, with Linda Blair doing the "s-p-o-o-k-y" smarmy voice overs.

But "Ghost Hunters" is different for me. I admit that I become skeptical when watching the show, but hey...they have science on their side, don't they? Infra-red equipment, EMF detectors, Digital recording devices, and thingies with whatchamacallits. All very cool and fun, if not always convincing or definitive. Furthermore I enjoy the personalities. The two Roto-Rooter Joes who run the show and the two twenty-something sidekicks are welcome into my living room any time, especially for the annual Halloween special.

So what's the gripe? If these guys are serious about ghost hunting, why not take a truly methodical and scientific approach. Instead of going blithely from house to house, always at night, why not arrange to set up at least a week long surveillance. Hey, better yet, a weekly surveillance conducted once a month. Furthermore, the week long surveillance should be conducted during the day as well, with teams manning the equipment around the clock.
Why? Because the product would be much more intriguing and the results would be open for better analysis.

I have an issue with most ghost hunters. They wander into abandoned houses and trespass, claiming to do so in the name of furthering knowledge. But they are usually nothing more than "true believers" seeking self delusion or annoying individuals seeking cheap thrills. Even those who claim to be skeptical will have a glazed over look in their eyes when describing the "orbs" that do nightly dances in the local cemeteries, the orbs that only the ghost hunters ever seem to capture on film (orbs looking like bad reflections from passing cars and globs of dust motes, I might add).

So Science Fiction Channel....guys....what about it? What about a real exploration into the supernatural, bringing in a team or researchers from a local university to help you out, and seeing if you chart some sort of measurable and reliable paranormal incident.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Giveaway! Short Story Collection Part 2!





I love giving away short story collections. Penguin Books has sent me some fabulous books and I am going to giveaway this group of 4 books to one lucky winner.

To enter, just leave a comment or email me at sqt1969(at)gmail(dot)com under the header "short2." I will randomly pick a winner on Thursday June 12th. Make sure I can easily get in touch with you. If I can't reach the winner within 48 hours the books will pass on to another entrant. Open to U.S. entries only.

Good luck!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Hot Damn! There's some good stuff out there...

I have no choice. I must do the links again. You'll see when you read them. Pioneer Woman is giving away THREE Zune packages, including a Zune dock and free three-month passes to download unlimited music. I wish like hell I could do giveaways like this one. Contest ends TODAY. Fantasy Book Critic has a WHOLE set of Steven Erikson's Malazan series to giveaway. Be sure to check his left sidebar for all the giveaways he's got going on right now. There are a bunch. Pat's Fantasy Hotlist has three copies of Kuchiel's Scion by Jacqueline Carey and an ARC of A Darkness Forged in Fire by Chris Evans up for grabs. Author Jocelynn Drake has a contest in which she's offering a copy of her book "Nightwalker" along with a mug and a magnet. Contest ends Friday. Graeme has a copy of Terry Pratchett's "Making Money" to give to you if you want it... That's all I have for now. I will update my links if I hear of any more contests....

Sunday, June 01, 2008

To Do List

1. Get more organized by making a "to-do" list. 2. Think of something sci-fi-like to post. 3. Tell everyone about the copy of "Bloodheir" that I have up for giveaway on my book review blog. 4. Stop looking at the item I have for sale on Ebay every five minutes to see if anyone has bid on it. 5. Wash the dog. 6. Clean toilets Create chore list for my daughter. 7. Tell daughter she needs to wash the dog. 8. Keep trying to think of post for blog. 9. Buy more wine. 10. Drink wine. 11. ......................