Friday, September 4, 2015

Gangrene Comedy Film Festival Presents "Full Steam"...Pure Awesomeness!


Last year I couldn't attend. Before that I missed the previous fourteen Gangrene Film Festivals because I knew nothing about it, except it had a great name. 


Then I met one of the coolest guys I think I know, Craig Nybo, and I promised myself this year I'd be going. What a party!


Each year, a new theme. This year--steampunk! There's so much potential when steampunk's your topic. Nybo and Company not only realized this, but took full advantage. With a live band and dancers up to the task, they put on a great show, the kind of show that relies on punched music and raw emotion oozing from horns, guitars, accordions, drums (conventional and adapted metal drums...) and a played saw. Add a vocal battle between Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla, and you have a great show.


And that's just the opening act! Following the music are the films. I had a previous appointment so I couldn't stay for the films. Looks like I've got something to look forward to for next year. Here's some of what I saw tonight. It was a lot of fun.











Thursday, September 3, 2015

Terry Pratchett's "The Amazing Maurice And His Educated Rodents"...A Book Review

34534*

"You need to read more Pratchett," my friend has told me on more than one occasion. He's said that so much it's become a theme.

"I have read Pratchett," I've told him so much it's become a counter-theme. I admit, I've read Pratchett, but I'm by no means an expert. Many of my author friends love Pratchett. To be honest, he's a little intimidating. I mean, he's brilliant! And when I read his books, I wonder if I'm getting everything.

Today I finished The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents. I actually listened to it and there's something about hearing good dialogue that's pure joy. The narrator, Stephen Briggs was excellent portraying the various characters. If you're wondering what this book is about, it's on the cover. "The Pied Piper of . . . Discworld." That really says it all. From what I've read, it's Pratchett's first children's book set in that world.

Yes, it's a children's book, but it can be a tad gruesome. The story includes cats and rats. There's one instance where a cat must defend his past actions to the other rats when he ate a rat. Of course, it was before both species had the greater knowledge of reading and communicating.

I know there's a lot I missed with this one, and that's unfortunate. But, I did read it and that's important. Yes, my co-worker friend--I did read a Pratchett. And the next time one comes available, I won't be so intimidated.

* Photo used without permission from: https://www.goodreads.com/book/photo/34534.The_Amazing_Maurice_and_His_Educated_Rodents

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Thus Began My Work Day...


"Thanks you for calling the Technical Helpdesk. This is Liz. How may I help you?"

"Yes, Liz. I'm having an issue with my computer this morning."

"Hardware or software," Liz said and I wondered if she had a preference.

"Software," I said. "I can't get the E-REP program to open in Chrome. I get the error SSL server probably obsolete each time I try."

"Oh," Liz says and I hear the relief in her voice. "That's because you're supposed to use Internet Explorer for that program. It doesn't really work in Chrome."

Ugh, I thought.

"But it was working just fine yesterday. I've been using Chrome for that program for years."

"Well," says Liz. "It really works best in Explorer. When you open it in Chrome, not all the features work the way they're supposed to."

Pause.

"Um, if you want to, the work order is open. I can send someone down to look at your computer to see if they can get it working."

"No," I say dejected. I've lost the battle. First it was one program that didn't work in Chrome, then another, but the main program we use daily always worked. It was steady, reliable, an old friend. "I'll just use Explorer."

"Are you sure?"

"Yeah, Liz. Thanks for your help. Have a good day," I add, as if my words can somehow offer comfort to my annoyed soul.

"You too."

And that's how my work day began.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Kevin J. Anderson's "Clockwork Lives"...One Of The Best Books He's Ever Written!


I should say from the outset that the quote, "One of the best books [Kevin J. Anderson] has ever written," is not my quote.

It's Kevin J. Anderson's.

That made me sit up and take notice when I saw his post on Facebook yesterday. Because if you know anything about Mr. Anderson, that's quite a statement. Sure, the author could be tooting his own horn, but he really doesn't need to--he's earned the right to be able to judge what's good and what's not as good when it comes to writing.

I've written about Kevin before. Back in 2012 I heard him give a keynote address at the LDS Storymaker's Conference in Provo, Utah. As he spoke of his accomplishments I was amazed at how many books he had written and the incredible experiences he had while writing them. His stories of dealing with George Lucas and his contributions to the Star Wars world alone will blow your mind.

I had no idea that a few years later I would be having lunch with him in the Green Room at a Salt Lake Comic Con. Each time I've seen him since then he's been more than gracious to me--always friendly with a smile and a strong handshake.

I've read several of his books since first hearing him speak. If you've also read his books you know how good they are, and I've only read a few of the genres in which he writes. Few authors writing today can be successful in more than one genre. Kevin has mastered a dozen or so.

The announcement on Facebook was for us fans to help spread the word about his latest project. He wants to paint the internet Red! I'm trying to do my part. And I haven't even talked about the co-author, Neil Peart! The man's a rock god!

Hopefully in a few weeks I'll be able to get a signed copy of this book when Mr. Anderson comes to town. If you're attending the Salt Lake Comic Con this month, I would highly recommend doing the same. Even though I haven't read this book, from what I do know about the man, when he says it's one of the best books he's ever written, I believe him and I know I'm in for a great reading experience.

Monday, August 31, 2015

"Just Let Go"...A Dream Fulfilled


I saw a movie trailer today and watching it actually brought goosebumps to rise on my arm. Movie trailers nowadays are like little doses of addictive drugs. Any clip from a much-anticipated film like Star Wars drives the fans crazy, myself included.

But as I watched the trailer for the new film, Just Let Go it affected me in a different way--I saw dreams fulfilled.

Back in 2006 I was introduced to two wide-eyed and idealistic filmmakers only a few years out of film school. I could tell right off that they LOVED what they did, and after seeing some of their short films, I knew they were good at what they did, two friends who wanted to do something ever since they were little kids.

We came together because I wrote a screenplay and thanks to their talents and excellent suggestions we created an award-winning short film.

Since 2006 I've watched as opportunities have come their way and they've taken full advantage of them. Finally, after years of hard work, long hours, and time away from family and friends, their dream will be shown to audiences, hopefully all over the country and the world. They believe it's a story worth telling.

And so do I.

I watched the trailer and I saw in the shots my friend's work and their love of what they do. Sure, the next Star Wars installment is due in December of this year and it will earn billions of dollars, but I think I'm more excited about a little indie film made by two wide-eyed and idealist filmmakers that opens on September 28, 2015, not just because I know those involved in the film, but because I know--in part--what it took to see their dream fulfilled.

You can see the trailer: HERE. Maybe watching won't bring goosebumps to your arm. Then again, maybe it will.



Sunday, August 30, 2015

Eric Wood...A Very Good Man

Gallery Photo

I saw a post on Facebook last night and reading through the post, I noticed I was too late to attend the funeral (his obituary can be found: HERE). A person I've known since I was four years old passed away last week. 

You hear it all the time when someone dies. "I just saw him a few days ago." So it happened with me and Eric. Two weeks ago in church I passed him in the hall and gave him "the nod" and he returned the gesture. I wasn't in too much of a hurry to stop and say, "hello." I could have done that.

When we moved to Farmington we quickly came to know all the families with kids our age. Eric was older than us, but his siblings weren't. When I worked summers at Lagoon Eric was there. Most of us were just punk teenagers and we'd take more than an occasional break if we could get away with it. But not Eric. He was honest in word and deed.

Last year my graduating class had its thirty-year reunion. Before we met, posts on social media were sent and in one, we were reminded of all our classmates who had passed. Among the names was Eric's sister who graduated with us. I missed the news of her death by years. But it hit just as hard.

These people in this family were so much a part of our town, or at least, the memories that have shaped my definition of what my town is, that losing them feels like a long-standing building, or a field where we used to play is forever gone. But no building or piece of property can ever mean as much as the people we love.

Many of my childhood friends have moved away, but I've stayed. There's a price to pay when we remain. The cost is that we must endure change and rely only on memories of how life used to be. That means, of course, watching the people who mean so much to us leave. Eric joins a growing list of friends, family and loved ones who are on the other side and I'm saddened by his passing. If you know Eric, you understand when I say that he was a very good man and he'll be missed.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Brad R. Torgersen's "The Chaplain's War"...A Book Review

The Chaplain's War*

I know it's impossible, but imagine, if you will, that there were no politics in the publishing world, no judgements of texts based on the author's idealogical views. If this world existed, a book like Brad R. Torgersen's The Chaplain's War would, I believe, be talked about as one of the freshest and most enjoyable new books in the science fiction genre.

Like I said, I know it's impossible.

And that's a damn shame.

Because Torgersen's book is great, great in the tradition of Heinlein, and Card. In fact, as I read it, the story reminded me of two specific works, Heinlein's Stormship Troopers, and Card's Ender's Game. It deserves to be in the same conversation, if you want my opinion. Those two before-mentioned stories came to mind as I read The Chaplain's War because they both deal with military units fighting an alien enemy in the future. Torgersen's aliens, of the three, comes closest to being a race with similar thoughts and emotions as humans. Torgersen also provides us a reluctant hero, a man thrown into impossible situations who ends up playing a critical role in the war between the species and the survival of mankind.

If you follow science fiction literature, especially novels written in the past few years, you know there's a war being waged. What's at stake is the very existence of the genre. It's too bad many will not read this story because of the name that graces its cover.

Like I said, it's a damn shame.

I hope, if you like reading classic science fiction, you'll read this book. Maybe you have no idea about the politics and the cultural war in which Torgersen is a soldier. And if you don't, consider yourself lucky because you get to read such stories without bias. This story deserves as much.

* Photo used without permission from: https://www.goodreads.com/book/photo/21412185-the-chaplain-s-war