Saturday, December 7, 2013

Dexter- The End

Those of you who know me know that I am a huge fan of the Showtime TV Series, Dexter. Initially I was a tough sell. None of the advertisements caught my attention and I didn't know what it was about. Finally my wife told me it was supposed to be about a serial killer who only killed other serial killers. I was intrigued by the idea and took a chance and purchased the first season. By the end of the first season I was sold.

It didn't happen all at once. Dexter's sister, Deborah Morgan, was probably the one that had me contemplating throwing the DVD's out the most through that first season. She was such a neurotic mess and the fact that she had to drop an F-bomb every other word grated on me.

The funny thing is that as the show went on, I began to realize that the neuroticism and sailor's language was actually endearing for her character. I felt real empathy for a character that was that messed up, I couldn't help but cheer for her. By the end of the series she was by far my favorite character.

Season after season I have felt like the writing has pushed boundaries, surprised me, and left me wanting more. I have been absolutely amazed at the quality of storytelling that the writers at showtime have come up with. Until this last season.

I don't want to beat up on the season too badly. By all accounts, it was a good season. But I think that was my issue. It was good, not great. It didn't surprise me. It was a good ending, and, looking back  on it I wasn't surprised because it ended in about the only way it could have at that point, I think. So did it deliver on it's promise? Yes. I know there were some that were hoping for a happy ending, but really, it's a show about a serial killer. What did you expect? Again, I think it ended in the only way that it could have. I just wish that there was something that could have been done to give this last season more punch. I felt like it went out with a whimper, which is not fair for a show of this caliber.

Fellow Dexter aficionados, what are some favorite moments from the show? I'd love to hear from you.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Walking Dead #18


There, having said that, let's get to the business at hand.

I am a late-comer to the Walking Dead craze that is gripping the nation. It's not that I don't enjoy a good zombie show- I do- and let's be honest, it doesn't get much better than The Walking Dead.

No, I came into it largely by accident. I stumbled into the Blue-Ray for sale at Best Buy and begged, pleaded, and otherwise cajoled my wife into watching it with me. This went on for  a while until I think I finally ended up guilting her into it for my birthday.

The TV show was great, and really it deserves it's own post, and I'll probably get there when I start watching season 4 in October. Maybe I'll plan a running commentary or something like that. But the long and the short of it was that I loved the show. And, loving the show and already loving graphic novels, well, it wasn't long before I had to read the whole series.

And I did. Last night, to be precise, I finished #18 of the paperback reprints which catches me up(at least for the paperback editions). I love what this story is doing with the genre. I love a good scare, and who doesn't, but it seems that The Walking Dead is doing so much more than that. I've found that when I watch a zombie movie I get into it, get to know the characters, and just as I'm ready to grab my shotgun and jump on board for some brain-exploding action-poof. The climax of the show is reached and I'm left thinking that it really could have been a lot better. It was just getting started.

Adapting the focus from horror to drama has been at the root of WD's success in my opinion. Giving us compelling characters and exciting story lines, as well as showing us moving character arcs and hey, throwing in suspense and scares the whole way are all part of the magic. Robert Kirkman has done a magnificent job of blending an otherwise (let's be honest, ridiculous idea ie. zombies) and making it accessible to a much wider audience. And he has done it with great writing.

There are a few things that are drawbacks for me. I wish the artwork was different, maybe full color, but I understand the choice and respect what it does for the tone of the series. I know a lot of people love it, and I don't dislike it, but it's just a personal preference. Language is another. At the risk of getting a ton of emails saying that I'm being a prude and free speech and artistic licence and all that other stuff, I'm just going to come out and say it. It may be true that some people speak like that. In the characters themselves it rings true, so I don't criticize the choice to put it in. All I'm saying is that the profanity is a little more prolific than I would normally like to read. So if you are thinking of reading these, keep that in mind, although, in this genre, you should kind of expect it.

#18 specifically was a fun issue. In it we join Rick in Washington in his little walled community in the wake of Glenn's death and the subsequent surrender of the town to the domination of Negan and the group called "The Saviors". Rick is down but not out and you have the definite feeling that he is planning something. Also in this episode we see Carl turning more and more into a psychopath. I mean, don't get me wrong, he's been through a lot. And he's a pretty bad @$$ little guy, but I'll be honest, he's the character in the whole series that most creeps me out. By the way, side question: Is there anybody besides me that thinks that Carl in the books is 100 times cooler than Carl in the show?

Anyway, the story here is about Carl. After being ashamed of his dad surrendering to Negan, he hides in a truck with an M-16 and rides back to Negan's hideout. He jumps out of the truck and, surrounded by 30-40 people just starts blowing them away after making the demand they give up Negan. He's eventually knocked to the ground and captured. Negan brings him up to his room and tries to humiliate him. When asked what he thinks Negan should do with him, Carl responds, "If I were you, I'd jump out of the window to save me the trouble of having to kill you." Like I said. Bad. @$$. And more than a little scary. The artist, Charlie Adlard, really manages to get the eyes down so that they legitimately creep you out.

I won't spoil everything. The ending isn't much of one. Rick gets Carl back in a way that makes you feel like Negan is just luring Rick into a false sense of security. Randomness abounds in the last pages as suddenly we learn of "The Kingdom", another community, this one dedicated to the fall of Negan. They have armored knights and even a King with a pet tiger that made me more than a little jealous. It's as though a group of LARPers stumbled out of the woods and discovered the world had ended and decided to keep playing. Still, it's fun, I'm looking forward to see where it goes.

Overall, the series is a solid 4 stars, and that's the rating I give to #18. Could have been better, but not by much.

Monday, August 5, 2013


Those of you who know me knew I would eventually get to this one.

I love baseball. I know, there are a great many of my friends that have told me that watching baseball is akin to watching paint dry in slow motion while waiting for buffering to catch up to a youtube video. But I love this game. There is something magical about the green of the outfield, the course dirt of the infield, the pacing, the excitement, and yes, the heroics.

Jackie Robinson is one such hero. Not only was he a great athlete. Not only did he do incredible things with his talent, not the least of which was his lightning-speed. But he did them while facing a storm of racial prejudice and unfair slights and insults.

42 is the story of Jackie Robinson as he battled uphill against the odds with the help of Branch Rickey, played by Harrison Ford, to break the color barrier in major league baseball.

Overall I was blown away by this movie. Great story, artistic cinematography capturing the action of baseball, and great acting. This flic has it all.

There's really not much more I can say other than this is an extremely enjoyable film, even if you are not a baseball fan. Harrison Ford does a fantastic job as Branch Rickey in a performance worthy of an Academy Award. All of the actors do a great job and it is just a fun movie. 4 stars.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Finished With the Move

     The week has finally come to an end. At work we have spent the last week moving our base from Little Tia Juana in Murray down to a much nicer location in Draper. Hopefully gone are the days when I will have to worry that when I come out to go home in the afternoon I will find pieces of my car missing. In that sense at least, victory. Yay!

     On the other hand, I have spent the last week trying to run my office out of boxes. Needless to say, this has worked, but not particularly well. This week will be dedicated to getting back into the routine, getting caught up, and generally trying not to lose any more hair trying to get things to go right.

     On the bright side, the new office is great. I have a 32" TV for a computer monitor and a wireless keyboard, so I can quite literally sit on one end of my office and see the computer screen on the other end no problem. All in all, the move was a great thing and a long time coming, but I'm glad that it's over.

     Schoolwork meanwhile has been wearing on me after I get home. I'm in the home stretch of getting my bachelors in accounting and right now I'm going through my least favorite subject, Federal Income Tax accounting. Two more weeks of that and then on to something else.

     I'm trying to get into a routine that will allow me to find time to write again. I've been so busy that it's easy to justify that I don't have the time, but the truth is that I haven't made the time. I'm probably starting up again with my completed YA novel, Dead in the Water, which is in need of a revision but otherwise close to me being able to submit it. More on this to follow.

     That's all for now. I've watched a couple of movies lately, I'm going to try to get reviews of them up this week. Until then, have a great week!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Fragments by Dan Wells

     I just finished Fragments by Dan Wells. This is the second book in the Partials sequence published through HarperCollins Publishers.

     Initially I was hesitant to pick up this book. I had read Partials, and while the idea intrigued me the story left me a little flat. It could have been me, I had just finished reading Stephen King's The Stand, after all, and perhaps the apocalyptic disease story processing center of my brain was in overload. For whatever reason, however, it disappointed me and I was reluctant to continue the series. I even reread the I Am Not A Serial Killer trilogy to remind me why I liked Dan Wells' writing as much as I do.

     Fragments was much better than Partials, almost immediately. It starts off with more action and for some reason I was able to empathize with and care about the characters this time around, something that I just couldn't have cared less about the first time around.

     The story basically picks up a little while after Partials, in the wake of the discovery that RM has a cure. Kira Walker, the 17 yr old medic/agitator and main character is off on her own, searching for the Trust, the group of leaders that the Partial army reports to. She has a lot of questions about who she is and what their plan is for the fate of the world. Is there a way to synthesize the cure? And what about the new development of the Partial expiration date?

     I don't intend to give things away in this review, only to say that the book is full of well-written action sequences, much better character development than the first book, and even a quest across the wrecked and ruined United States. The ending had a nice twist, and I'm actually excited to dig into the next volume whenever it comes out. Job well done, Mr. Wells. 4 out of 5 stars.

     In other news I just learned that Peter Clines' novel Ex-Communication, is available, and I am going to be moving through that one soon. Here's the cover:

     For those of you unfamiliar with this series, it's a cross between the Avengers and The Walking Dead. Great story, fun idea. If you like zombie stories and superhero stories, do yourself a favor and check this series out.

     I'm currently reading Storm Surge by Taylor Anderson. I absolutely love this series. A US navy destroyer in WWII slips into a parallel universe where the earth has not developed along the same timeline nor even the same species. It's a little bit King Kong, a little bit an old WWII movie, and a healthy dose of adventure laced with pseudo-steampunk for good measure. I'll be posting a review of this latest shortly, but if you're looking at getting into the series, the first book is called Into the Storm. It's a lot of fun, check it out.

     That's all I've got for the day. Now I have to get back to Forensic Accounting and Tax Law. Blee-ech. Oh well. Y'all have a great day!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Driving a Desk

This week has been very exciting. After a year of working as an indoor environmental specialist at Zerorez, working very long hours only to come home and work longer hours by taking online classes to finish my accounting degree, all while trying to spend time with my family, no less, I finally have a chance to breathe.

There. Now back to the grindstone.

No, seriously, this week has been great for me. I moved into an accounting position with Zerorez. For where I am in my life, this is a dream job. They're a great company and I love the people I work with. I've honestly never been in a place that has as good an environment as the one I work in now.

Now that I've gushed about my good fortune, I've done some evaluating of what I want out of life. I asked myself "where do I go from here?" So much of the last year has been geared towards getting here that it's tempting to just sit back and enjoy it. Still, I recognize how hard I've worked and what the net gain was. I feel that it would be unfair to myself to not utilize the extra time effectively.

Of course, my family who has stood beside me and supported me will get a lion's share of my newly acquired free time, and rightfully so. I will also be powering through my remaining classes to finish my degree. But there are some projects that will garner some of my attention. There are various writing opportunities that I can now apply myself to that can earn me some more money on the side, and they'll be a priority as well. Fiction, however, is still something that is very important to me. I will be devoting some of this dearly bought time to rededicate myself to writing fiction. I have several projects that I've been sitting on, and I am ready to hit the ground running. I am looking at at least one book done by the end of the year, and, time permitting, two. I'll have to see how it goes.

But, for all my readers, that is what is new in my life. I haven't had the time to dedicate to writing posts here, but that will be changing as well. I have some fun new ideas for content, and I hope that you will think so too. Check back soon. Until then, have a great day!