Queen Elizabeth (1926-2022)

What is there to say?

There is perhaps no other figure that has endured in the public spotlight as brightly as Queen Elizabeth. Her passing yesterday at the age of 96 drew understandable media scrutiny, but what surprised me the most, though it probably shouldn’t, was an article that stated some 90% of the people alive today have lived while she was queen.

Queen Elizabeth, it should be noted, became Queen on February 6, 1952, meaning that she held the title for an incredible 70 years.

As I noted, a figure that has endured in the spotlight for so long… its going to be strange with her presence no longer around.

Australia’s Somerton Man mystery… solved?

I first read this story about the possibility of Australia’s Somerton Man mystery being solved over on CNN in the below article, written by Hillary Whiteman…

Somerton Man mystery “solved” as DNA points to man’s identity, professor claims

As someone who is fascinated by reading about so-called “unsolved” mysteries, the Somerton Man one was on my radar for many years.

Way back in December 1, 1948 a man’s body was found a beach outside of Adelaide, Australia. He was fully dressed and the first people to spot him thought he was sleeping. Soon, it was realized something was amiss and when examined, it was realized he was dead.

There were no identification papers on him and, as time passed, no one came forward to identify the mysterious man nor were any reports of missing people tied to him. In the end and over the years, police were unable to identify him and for well over 50 years who he was remained a perplexing mystery. The story gets a little more elaborate, involving re-examining his clothing and finding some bizarre seemingly coded notes, a suitcase found at the train station, and a book with a ripped passage which apparently belonged to the Somerton Man.

(This link, Have Scholars Finally Identified the Mysterious Somerton Man? found on Smithsonian Magazine and written by Melian Solly offers a very good background on the story and its many mysteries)

Anyway, thanks to DNA analysis of hair strands which were found on the Somerton Man’s plaster “death mask”, it appears the Somerton Man has finally been identified as Carl “Charles” Webb, an electrical engineer and instrument maker born in Melbourne in 1905.

Mr. Webb did indeed appear to “disappear” at roughly that time and there appears to be no information about his passing anywhere to be found. Further, his estranged wife was living in this general area at the time and it is possible he was on his way there to try to meet her.

So all those lovely theories of the Somerton Man being an international spy or other such devious ideas seem to be washed away with a more mundane reality.

If indeed Mr. Webb is the Somerton Man, the big question that remains is how did he die? The original examination was inconclusive and there remains thoughts that he was poisoned but, again, nothing was found to prove foul play.

The Somerton Man’s body was exhumed as part of the examination process so perhaps that mystery will also be solved in time.

A fascinating, fascinating story!

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022) a (abracadabra… mildly belated you are!) review

Been flying around and this film was available to be seen on my way back home. I’m a fan of director Sam Raimi (Evil Dead, Army of Darkness, Darkman, etc.) though of late not such a huge fan of the MCU films out there (a shame, truly… while I wouldn’t say the films are “bad”, I find the scripts/storylines tend to blur into each other and carry fewer and fewer surprises. Still, I wish I could like them like others!).

Anyway, with Raimi involved, I was curious as to how this film would turn out.

…so…

It wasn’t bad at all!

Having said that, it felt like it could’a been so much more. Here’s the movie’s trailer though for those who haven’t seen the film and know nothing about it, it might be better not to see it and I’ll explain why in a second:

My general burnout toward the Marvel films goes back to the one-two punch release of Guardians of the Galaxy and the first Dr. Strange film, both of which I felt were lacking story-wise (in the case of GoTG, I genuinely don’t understand what others saw in that film… I really didn’t like it at all!).

As with all film, though, I tried to wipe any preconceptions from my mind and sat back and watched the film and, as I said, I generally enjoyed it.

The story focuses on America Chavez, a young latina who has the ability to move through the “multi-verse”. As the movie opens, she and an alternate universe Dr. Strange are running for their lives from someone/something that wants to take America’s power from her.

The end result of this chase has America appear in “our” Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) universe, where he is dealing with romantic heartbreak (his superheroics cause him to lose his love to another).

Once America shows up, though, that is set aside and Dr. Strange fights off the creatures who are following America through the universes and trying to steal her power… which will result, of course, in her death.

Dr. Strange and Wong rebuff the attack and hide America away. Then, Dr. Strange sets out to find the source of this danger to the young girl, and finds it to be coming from a surprising character in the MCU.

The above trailer, unfortunately, hints strongly as to who the “villain” of this piece is and, going into the film, I kinda knew already as well and I’m sad that I did.

That should have been kept as a surprise!

Having said that, this is where the film both triumphs and, alas, fails a bit as well. As the movie went along, I couldn’t help but feel that Sam Raimi was being throttled down and held back in terms of what he wanted to show. I mean, this is the guy who went all out with the Evil Dead films and the thought of seeing him showing the vast, unvarnished darkness of the villain in this piece… it could have been something.

If he had been allowed to do so!

Still, the film is far from a disappointment. It worked for me much more than the previous Dr. Strange film and other Marvel works I’ve seen of late.

I can’t say it changed my opinion of the MCU films in general, though. They remain generally disposable entertainment, things you don’t think much of once you’ve seen them, though thankfully all the smarmy “jokey” dialogue was also held back quite a bit.

All in all, I recommend Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. It’s a fine time killer even if one can’t help but wonder what might have been… had Sam Raimi been given a more free hand!

Been a while…

…and I’m sorry for the dearth of posts for -gasp- something like a month now!

The past month has been, emotionally exhausting.

Issues regarding the collapse of Champlain Towers South -and the death, among others, of my parents- has moved to its end stages, and the family and I have been incredibly busy getting everything readied.

There are two stages to the various lawsuits: First is the value of the lost property itself. The owners and heirs of the apartments are entitled to a portion of the sale value of the property and we needed to provide paperwork verifying our status as heirs. This was known for a while now, but things need to be signed and verified nontheless.

The second part of this is the wrongful death lawsuit, which involved filling out the paperwork for the deaths of my parents along with writing testimonials of what they meant to us. We also made an appointment with the judge who is handling the whole situation and, in his courtroom last week, presented their life story and what they meant to us.

It was, to say the least, a difficult thing to do. There was no telling how it would go and how coherent we would be. This was the first time, truthfully, we expressed our feelings about our losses outside of our family and… it was tough.

Tough but, in the end, cathartic.

I was proud of my sisters and their families. I was proud of my own family. We presented our feelings and memories and I believe we did well in telling the judge who our parents were and what they meant to us as well as the unimaginable horror of this loss.

So we did it, and now we sit back and wait to see what happens.

There are those out there who have speculated all the relatives/heirs of those lost in Champlain are going to get a big payoff, as if the money somehow will justify the horror we’ve gone through.

It may be a good amount. It may indeed wind up being a very big amount.

And I just don’t know how I feel about it.

Because there doesn’t pass a moment where I think about a world where my parents are still alive and most of their possessions aren’t lost in the rubble of the collapse of Champlain Towers.

In the afterwards to my latest novel, The Ebb of Time, I wrote this:

As cliched and silly as it sounds, I urge everyone out there reading these words to take a moment of time and hug your loved ones or, if you can’t, at least reach out and tell them you love them.

Things can change dramatically from one moment to the next.

I know.

Don’t leave things unsaid and, as my father used to say, please, please enjoy your day.

I do hope everyone out there has a good day.

On Writing… edits

As I’ve mentioned before, my latest novel, The Ebb of Time, is now available over on Amazon and I’m getting fairly strong interest in it… at least insofar as people are reading it -usually in what appears to be one sitting!- and that, in turn, encourages me to think that perhaps I’ve written another book that those who take on get into and want to see what comes next…

I hesitate to use the term ”page turner” but that’s indeed what’s usually in the back of my mind when I write these works. I want people to be ”hooked” onto the novel and its presence and hopefully get so into it they read it all the way through and indeed in that one sitting.

I’ve mentioned before, perhaps too many times now, that I find Elmore Leonard’s writing advice quite fascinating and, of the items he lists, this is my favorite:

Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.

What he’s saying is that your novel/story should be a lean and focused work, one that doesn’t waste the reader’s time with elements which don’t add to the story in any significant way.

There are many, many, many works out there that I’ve tried to read but have stopped simply because the author does indeed go off on tangents, perhaps over-describing what characters wear or getting a little too detailed about silly stuff like what they eat (This, interestingly enough, is something I see far too often: Detailed descriptions of what a character is eating and/or orders at a restaurant).

Anyway, for me getting a good first or second draft of a book is inevitably only the first major step in getting it ready to be released. I wind up spending many hours going over the work, revising it and adding -at first anyway- elements that I feel might be needed or, conversely, removing things that are either repetitious or don’t really add much to the story proper.

The repetitious thing is a real head-scratcher for me. I don’t know why but sometimes I repeat story elements and its not until I get to the editing phase that I realize there are these repeated beats/concepts. No major literary crime, mind you, but an annoying thing I do without meaning to. Often I’ll consider these repeated beats and compress them together into one and choose where best they belong.

But even when you’re completely done with your work, it pays to have someone read it after the fact.

My wife did this with The Ebb of Time and she found, much to my shame, at least a half dozen minor errors I made which somehow made it through my editing process.

Most were silly things. I would call a character a different name. On one specific page, the main character was called -twice!- by a different name and for the life of me I don’t know how a) I made that error and b) didn’t discover it before giving my wife the book to read.

There was one paragraph, a small one thankfully, that was almost incomprehensible as written. Another oddity that it made it through so many drafts without me noticing it! My best guess as to how it made it there was that maybe I did some revision on that paragraph at the very end and simply got distracted and didn’t add in all the words I needed to.

Again, though, we’re talking about very minor stuff. The name changing truly was the biggest issue but it was limited to problems here and there. The one paragraph was a relatively small one halfway through the novel and easily fixable, and I believe there were also something like two very minor edits of improper works/tenses.

Regardless, I’m thankful to those out there who are checking the novel out.

As is often the case with me, I’ve taken a few days to relax… and focus on some rather serious things I’m about to deal with regarding the loss of my parents in Champlain Towers… but am already thinking about my next work.

As is always the case, it’s something I’ve wanted to work on for a while, a general premise that should allow for expansion into a hopefully suspenseful action/adventure/horror book.

We’ll see!

This n’ that…

Been a very, very busy couple of weeks. Not only have I just finished off and released The Ebb of Time, my latest novel and that’s just the first of a seemingly endless amount of things I’ve been up to.

First, though, and I know I already posted it before, the paperback cover/backcover of The Ebb of Time.

I like it a lot!

What else has happened?

Welp, I traveled to my daughter’s new home again and spent a week getting stuff fixed up there. Getting a new home and fixing it up is serious business and my wife just spent 2 weeks -longer than she intended- dealing with the various handymen/plumbers/what-have-you.

I told my daughter before we embarked on this that she would grow to hate pretty much all the people we hire to fix things and, for the most part, that seems to have happened.

Not to everyone, though, and that was a relief.

But you get people who promise to be at the house on certain days and they don’t show… multiple times. We had one person whose company was supposed to specialize in renovating stairs and it’s safe to say the guy didn’t seem to know the first thing about his so-called business.

Thankfully, the incompetents proved the exception rather than the rule and -even more thankfully- we spotted them quick and let them go.

After returning home, I was met with another wave of stuff to do. As I’ve mentioned before, my parents perished in the collapse of Champlain Towers South. The wrongful death lawsuits are coming to their end and it was time for me to go over the paperwork needed to send in regarding this. Included in the wrongful death form was a narrative I and my sisters wrote regarding the loss of our parents and…

It’s not an easy thing to do.

Emotions run high and, soon enough, we’re going to go before the judge overseeing this case and talk about our loss. I anticipate yet another very emotional series of hours.

Anyway, for those who have picked up and read The Ebb of Time or any of the novels I’ve released, my thanks. I hope they proved entertaining and thought provoking.

The Ebb Of Time, part deux

Yesterday I received what I’m hoping is the final cover material for the paperback version of The Ebb of Time, my latest novel, and it’s been sent in and, if all checks out, I should order a proof, receive it soon after, and either accept the material -after which time it will become available to be bought- or need to make some (probably very minor) modifications.

Anyway, the full cover image:

Frankly, I love this. Easily my favorite cover/back cover combo so far!

Again, if all is good on the printer’s end I’ll order a proof copy and once I see it in my hands and it does indeed look good, then off we go!

If you can’t wait, the book is available now digitally via Amazon Kindle. If you have Kindle Unlimited, you may “borrow” the book and read it as well!

Here’s the link:

Amazon.com: The Ebb of Time eBook : Torre, E. R.: Kindle Store

Just wanted to say…

…sorry for the dearth of posts of late.

It’s been a very busy week for me and, frankly, so many things are going on of late and so many deadlines and problems to face that it’s gotten me down.

But, I’m hoping, the worst of it may be nearly over and I will hopefully get back on track with the regular grind.

I know I’ve mentioned it before, perhaps too many times, but it’s been a rough year to say the least. In large part it’s been the tragedy of Champlain Towers South’s collapse and the loss of my parents and all the events that have followed that one. I’ve also been working hard on my latest novel and dealing with issues regarding a home fix up which have driven me to the brink of insanity.

There was a time I enjoyed watching all those HGTV shows about how they rehabilitate a home and everything seems to go so very, very well and how the biggest problem winds up being our hosts butting heads about which subway tile to use in their renovated bathroom.

These shows, and most “reality” shows, alas, present viewers with a condensed, easily digestible version of what is real.

The other day a comic book artist friend of mine presented me this video from the (yes) reality show Shark Tank and said the people presenting their book got really lucky…

After watching this piece, however, I was left with a lot of questions and some really strong doubts about the overall legitimacy of this presentation.

To begin with, it seemed not one of the panelists actually opened and looked at any of the books they were supposedly there to invest in. Further, the sales figures the creators were citing sounded rather… incredible, frankly. I’m not saying it’s impossible to achieve these lofty sales numbers, but as someone with more than a cursory interest in the comic book field, it’s strange I haven’t heard about these people at all and especially given their very strong sales numbers.

Their promo video was ok, I thought, but not all that spectacular (this is, of course, a matter of personal taste and nothing more… I found the promo reel only ok) and yet based on those very few minutes these people presented their ideas they get offered $500,000?!?!

Again, at least in the above clip it seemed no one opened even one of the books. No one read any of the material within any of the books. Yet based on a sizzle promo reel and sales figures which, again, I wonder about, they were willing to drop a half a million dollars on their venture?

I dunno.

I told my friend that I suspected there was more to this story than was presented here. That the hosts had to have been more aware of what this company was doing and, at the least, someone had to have read these books.

Thus, I told my friend, it wouldn’t surprise me if this segment was totally staged, that Kevin Hart and company already had a much more solid idea of what these publishers and their books were like and this segment was more fiction than reality, that a deal was already probably made and this was a summation for the cameras of that deal.

The “story” presented in this segment is a very positive one and one always roots for creators to have success in their ventures, but like too many reality shows, I wonder where the reality actually is.

Anyway, hopefully I’ll be back ’round these parts a little bit more in the following days!

The Ebb of Time (2022)

While the cover for print still requires a couple of small tweaks, the digital cover to my new novel is for the most part good and I went ahead and uploaded all the information onto Amazon for the Kindle digital publication.

Within 72 hours, hopefully less, my latest novel will be available for purchase or, if you have Kindle Unlimited, borrowing.

As soon as that information is available, I will present it here and it will also appear at my author page, which is here:

Amazon.com: E. R. Torre: Books, Biography, Blog, Audiobooks, Kindle

In the meantime, here’s the cover to The Ebb of Time.

Hope you guys like it!

The novel’s description:

They called it the Frenzy and in a matter of days it caused the fall of Civilization.

Ten years later, inhabitants of a small settlement receive an eerie signal originating from a distant military base.

Who sent it and why?

To investigate, they need to journey outside the safety of the settlement walls and face a savage world that hides many dark secrets.

Secrets which could not only destroy what’s left of humanity but destroy the world itself.

The Blog of E. R. Torre

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