Corrosive Knights 7/31/14 update

This will be short n’ sweet:

It’s been ten days since my last update (you can read it here) for the fifth book of the Corrosive Knights series.


The very good news is that I’m done with the full drafts of the novel.  Approximately 80% of the book required very minor edits and I think those parts are now good to go.

The not so good news is that there remains about 20% of the book, approximately 40 pages spread out through three or four sections, that I’d like to go over at least once more, to make sure they’re just as good as the rest.

I will be done reading the material today.  I should be done editing it by tomorrow or Saturday.

The book will be available via Kindle and barring any other problems by sometime next week.

Keep those fingers crossed! 😉

Movie Stars 10 Biggest Flops…

…according to AOL:

I’m familiar with pretty much all the movies mentioned, but have only seen four of them: The Marlon Brando version of The Island of Dr. Moreau, the George Clooney Batman and Robin, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Last Action Hero, and Denzel Washington’s The Mighty Quinn.

I felt that The Island of Dr. Moreau was close to being a good “weird” movie.  Like many, I was familiar with all the rumors of on-set problems during the film’s production, perhaps most notorious being the feud between actor Val Kilmer and replacement director John Frankenheimer (the original director, Richard Stanley, was booted from the project).  Still, I didn’t think the film was a total disaster and I felt Val Kilmer’s creepy Montgomery just about stole the show.  Lest I sound like I feel the movie is actually some “lost treasure”, I would hasten to add that this version of the H. G. Wells story is nowhere near the classic of the original deeply weird (but in a very good way) Island of Lost Souls.

Similarly, Batman and Robin, I felt, while not all that good, wasn’t all that much different from the far less criticized Batman Forever (coincidentally enough starring Val Kilmer in the title role!).  Joel Schumacher took over the Batman franchise after director Tim Burton left and, as mentioned, his first whack at it, Batman Forever, came and went without as much gnashing of the teeth as his George Clooney starring follow up.  To me, both films carry just about the same level of silliness/outrageousness.  I suppose the big difference are the “bat-nipples”, which were exclusive to the later film.  Ah well, neither of them rates all that high for me, though as with The Island of Dr. Moreau, I found Val Kilmer’s presence in the film interesting despite the at times awful dialogue his character spouts (examples can be found the trailer below).  Mr. Kilmer made for an intriguing Bruce Wayne/Batman and it would have been interesting to see him in a more “serious” version of the film.

The Last Action Hero, on the other hand, deserved every ounce of scorn it received upon its original release.  One has to understand that back in 1993 Mr. Schwarzenneger was at the very height of his popularity and it seemed he could do absolutely no wrong.  Add to this the fact that he was again pairing up with his Predator director, John McTiernan, and movie fans such as myself were absolutely dying to see what new action film they could concoct.  But leaked early pre-release word was that the film was, quite literally, a bomb, and whatever enthusiasm many felt was tempered.  In this case, the rumors proved correct. The Last Action Hero was a lame dud of a film, a supposedly funny “movie reality intruding on reality” minus any real humor mixed with action setpieces that were curiously lifeless.  Watching the trailer below, one can feel the mix just ain’t working.  Still, the movie had a pretty decent heavy metal score…

Finally, I remember very little about The Mighty Quinn.  Saw it in the theater when it was originally released in 1989 and I vaguely recall thinking it was an “ok” movie at best and could have featured a more intriguing mystery.  Apart from that, I don’t remember all that much else.

Perhaps that’s for the best?

The White Buffalo (1977) a (very) belated review

If you’ve watched as many films as I have, you’ve certainly stumbled upon some that were stranger than others.  Perhaps some of them weren’t just strange, but off-the-wall bizarre.  Usually, those type of films register on my radar for all the wrong reasons.  Bizarre usually equals “not very good”.


There is at least one big exception to that rule, and it is the Charles Bronson starring film The White Buffalo.  Released in 1977, the film features Mr. Bronson as Wild Bill Hickok, presented as a man who is suffering mightily from bizarre, nightmarish dreams of confronting a, you guessed it, white buffalo.  Only this white buffalo seems larger than life.  Mythic, in fact.

So disturbed by the dreams is Hickok that he returns to his old stomping grounds in the far west.  This, we find, is a place where Hickok is no longer welcome.  Hoping to avoid confrontation, he adopts a fake name, James Otis, and works his way through a couple of small towns while heading to the high country where the white buffalo, he knows, awaits him.

Meanwhile, an Indian village is attacked by the white buffalo and many of its people are slaughtered.  The village’s leader, Crazy Horse (Will Sampson), cries at the loss of his daughter and, in an interest parallel with Hickock/Otis, is forced by tribe elders to renounce his name and be called “worm” until he hunts down and kills the white buffalo.

Meanwhile (part deux!), Hickok/Otis’ journey to the high country proves a somewhat difficult one.  He alternately finds deadly enemies and friends in the towns on his way out, including an old army officer, Tom Custard (I couldn’t help but think they were hinting at this actually being General George Custard, but for whatever reason they didn’t call him that), who very much wants him dead and Poker Jenny Schermerhorn (a still stunning Kim Novak), who hopes to rekindle their old fire.

Later still, Hickok meets up with Charlie Zane (played by Jack Warden), an old time tracker with a glass eye and together they confront Whistling Jack Kileen (a very menacing Clint Walker) before heading out to the high country.

It is there that Crazy Horse/Worm and Hickok/Otis eventually join forces to take on the white buffalo.  Their union isn’t an easy one.  Hickok is forced to keep his alias as he is hated by the Indians for murdering one of their most respected peacemakers years before.  It is implied in the early going that Hickok still has no love for Indians, but in working with Crazy Horse, he comes to realize the mistake of his ways.

As I said before, The White Buffalo is a damn strange film.  Coming a mere two years after the release of Jaws, it is clear the film is, at least thematically, going for a similar vibe.  The fact that the buffalo the hunters are after is white makes you think this movie also pays tribute to Moby Dick.

However, the first 2/3rds of the film are clearly meant to be a “mythic” view of the wild west, complete with dingy border towns, larger than life characters (some based on real people, some not so much), trains, Indians, gunplay, etc. etc.

When the final confrontation between our heroes and the buffalo arrives, it is, frankly, a bit of a dud.  The effects for the white buffalo aren’t terrible, but they aren’t exactly wonderful either (check the trailer below).  On the plus side that final confrontation has a wonderful, almost dreamlike element to it, which is very much in keeping with it being a manifestation of Hickok’s own dreams.

As for how this now thirty seven year old film works “today”…well, I suspect modern audiences might find it hard to sit through the movie.  While there is action and suspense, compared to the hyperkinetic action found in more modern films, this one might play too slow.

Regardless, for those who want to take a walk on the weird side, The White Buffalo has its pluses.  Where else can you find a western with such a large, recognizable cast that features a story as strange as this one?  If you’re in an adventurous mood, give it a try.  You may be surprised by what you find.

Can you identify these 70’s hits…

…by their first second?  I got 10 out of 16 of them and was shocked I couldn’t identify three more (the remaining three songs/artists I couldn’t come up with weren’t on my radar all that much):

I’ll reveal the ones I didn’t know below as I don’t want to spoil the list.  Take the quiz yourself, see if you beat me!

Next up, name that 80’s hit by their first second:

Did better with this quiz, getting 13 out of the 16 songs.  Of the ones I missed, two surprised me as I was quite familiar with the songs…though obviously not that familiar while the third was one I heard here and there but never paid all that much attention to so not getting it was hardly a surprise.

Before I get into the songs I missed, one more link, this one to the “Top 30 Outrageous Album Covers.”  See if you agree:

Now, the songs I missed in the two quizzes above:

The 70’s songs:

First up, the ones I missed that I found shocking:

Neil Young’s Heart of Gold.  Really?!  That’s one of my all time favorite songs, period!  Yet the strum of the guitar in that opening second wasn’t memorable enough to remind me of the rest of the song.  Weird!

Simon and Garfunkle’s Bridge Over Troubled Waters.  Another one that I couldn’t put my finger on.  Love the song, have heard it countless times, yet that opening second didn’t register.

Three Dog Night Joy to the World.  Again, a very well known song, to me, yet whose opening second wasn’t familiar enough to make me realize what it was.

The next three songs I didn’t get but wasn’t all that surprised by that fact.  In this case, the artists/songs weren’t among the ones I tended to listen to way back when, though I was at least aware of them:

Stevie Wonder, Sir Duke;  Glen Campbell, Rhinestone Cowboy;  Marvin Gaye, Let’s Get It On.

Moving on to the 1980’s music, the three I didn’t get were:

Janet Jackson Miss You Much.  Not too surprising.  I recall seeing the video more than hearing the actual song (the video was a strong mainstay on MTV back in the day and I’ll admit it looks quite good).

Olivia Newton John Physical.  I’m quite familiar with this song so it was a bit of a surprise I didn’t recognize it after its first second.  Not a terribly big fan of it, so perhaps that’s why.

Dolly Parton 9 to 5.  Another song I’m pretty familiar with yet couldn’t recognize from its first second.  As with Physical, not really my cup of tea, though it played quite a bit when it was popular.

No One Lives (2012) a (mildly) belated review

A while back, while about to watch a film on DVD, I was intrigued with one of the movie previews presented at the start.  It involved a couple (they sported British accents so I assume it was a British film) driving through very dark woods and getting lost.  This being a horror film, all hell breaks loose.  The trailer stated the film was very well received at movie festivals and several critics made note, if memory serves, of its “ingenious” and “surprising” plot.

I’m a fan of genuinely suspenseful horror films, and the trailer to this film looked to be right up my alley.  Having said this, I’m not a huge fan of the over the top “gory” horror films.  I’m old enough (*hack* *wheeze*) to recall the first wave of such “gory” features, perhaps started with The Exorcist and continued with the original The Omen (two films I like quite a bit) but rendered progressively sillier in the 1980’s with the Friday the 13th films and their like.

I know there are those out there who love gory films and revel at the “creative kills” featured within them.  That’s not me.  It’s not that I’m squeamish.  Gore in a horror film is fine, especially when it adds to the overall suspense/tension weaved by a strong story, good acting, and good direction.  However, when the gore becomes the only thing, and it seems all the film wants to do is showcase bloody special effects, I tune out.

Anyway, I have the trailer I described above in mind when I spot the description of the film No One Lives on the Netflix list:

Robbers run a couple off the road and discover a kidnapped heiress in their custody.  But they’re all about to face something even more dangerous.

While I couldn’t remember the name that belonged to that horror film trailer, this description sounded close enough to what I saw that I thought it might be it.

I was completely wrong.

To begin, this is clearly not a British film as the couple we meet at the start do not sport British accents (nor does anyone else! 😉 ).  It was pretty clear pretty quickly that I had picked out the wrong film.

Nonetheless, I gave it a try.

Long story short?  Remember what I said above, that I get bored of horror films that are essentially gore showcases?  No One Lives is pretty much a gore showcase.

Yes, there is an interesting twist at its start (this twist is almost completely given away in the brief synopsis I’ve transcribed above and most certainly given away in the trailer below), but the film’s plot is barely worth bothering with: A bunch of for the most part unpleasant cardboard characters meet their grisly end at the hands of a “super” killer (Luke Evans), who looks kinda like Errol Flynn.

There’s really not all that much more to it, unfortunately.

Perhaps one day I’ll find that film I was actually looking for.  In the meantime, I can’t recommend No One Lives to anyone but the gore hounds.

Corrosive Knights 7/21/14 update

In my last Corrosive Knights update of 7/10/14, I stated the following:

Having finished draft 11c (of the fifth book in the Corrosive Knights series) just a few minutes ago, I am very, very optimistic about the novel now being just about done.  So much so that I intend to print the whole thing out later today and give it one more complete read through.  If all looks good, draft 12 will be the novel’s last draft.

Estimated time to get it done?  Another week to a week and a half.

Keep your fingers crossed.  You know I will!

Ok, first the bad news: Draft #12 is not the final draft, though as I predicted it took me a little less than a week and a half to finish it up (a blazing speed, considering that when the novel was in its early and very rough stages it would take me a couple of months to do a draft).

The good news?  Draft #13 (lucky number!) will be the final draft.  No ifs, ands, or buts about it.  When I went over Draft 12, I found exactly three things that needed to be fixed post-draft, and they all involved roughly one-two pages each of fixing.  The first involved explaining a certain technology.  The second involved cutting down on one of the characters explaining something that had previously been shown (repetition is my mortal enemy!).  The third involved changing some dialogue as it “fit” another character saying it much better than the one I had saying the lines.

So Saturday the 19th I finished the draft and went back and fixed those three items.  Out of an abundance of caution, I made the decision that I should print the whole thing out and give it one more read-through, just to be absolutely sure everything was good.

Last night, Sunday, while sleeping, the realization of how close I was to finishing this book finally hit me.  I woke up some time between 2-4 in the morning (I didn’t check my clock) and felt…giddy.



Trust me, it was very hard to get back to sleep and I’m feeling a bit of a lag as I type this out.  Still, those good feelings remain.  For me writing is an at times very difficult process which requires a great deal of effort to get the work completed in a way that satisfies/pleases me.  This book, the fifth in the Corrosive Knights series, has probably taken the most effort out of me of all my previous books.  And it rightfully should have.  This book is, after all, the culmination of the first Corrosive Knights story and ties everything, and I do mean everything, together.

If you were wondering how Mechanic, The Last Flight of the Argus, and Chameleon, three novels that can be read as “stand alone” actually fit together, after reading this new book, you will wonder no more (I already had two of the books come together with Nox, the fourth book of the Corrosive Knights series).

So, if all goes well, I will be finish this new novel by later next week.  Then I’ll prepare it for release and it could well be available for everyone else to read by this time two weeks from now.

Meanwhile, here’s the cover of the book.  I’ve blurred the book’s actual title because I still want to keep it my little secret.  Nonetheless, if you look hard enough, you may just “get” it:


Sex Tape (ahem) underperforms…

So last weekend we had the release of the Jason Segel/Cameron Diaz comedy Sex Tape and, not too surprisingly to me, it wound up placing fourth in terms of box-office draw:

It isn’t too often that I get a chance to head out to theaters and actually see a film during its initial release (hence my many *belated* movie reviews), but for whatever reason this summer I actually found time to see several new releases.

I believe it was when I went to see the Tom Cruise/Emily Blunt sci-fi film Edge of Tomorrow that I first saw the theatrical trailer to Sex Tape.  Now, I distinctly recall none of the theatrical trailers that I saw were all that memorable or made me want to see the films they were peddling.  But while those film trailers are for the most part forgotten, I remembered the trailer for Sex Tape.

For all the wrong reasons.

When the trailer was done, I turned to my wife (she usually is up for romantic comedies) and the look on her face reflected my sentiments: This film looked awful.

Much has been talked about how John Carter was a victim of poor promotion, but in the case of Sex Tape, I couldn’t help but feel the promotion for this film probably was likely a good reflection on the film itself.  As such, I repeat: It looked awful.  Judge for yourself:

Where to start?  Jason Segel has obviously lost weight and, while sporting a toned body (I’m envious!), his face is gaunt to the point of distracting.  Cameron Diaz…well, she’s doing what looks to be her typical Cameron Diaz romantic comedy stuff.  She remains a very pretty woman and looks game for the shenanigans.

As I re-watched the above video, I couldn’t help but notice the time counter on the lower left side.  At about the one minute mark of the trailer we reach the point where the studios behind the film identify themselves.

And I realized that a whole minute had passed in a two minute thirty seven second trailer for a comedy and I hadn’t even cracked a smile, much less laughed.  It wasn’t until the 1:21 second mark, when Cameron Diaz offers a (cut) vulgar reaction to hearing about the “cloud” that I first smiled.  Didn’t laugh, but I enjoyed her reaction.

At about the 1:45 second mark we have the “Nobody understands the cloud” lines.  Again I smiled.  Amusing, but far from hilarious.

Finally, 2:19 seconds in we have the “Siri” joke.  This was, to me, the only really amusing part of the trailer and actually elicited a chuckle.  I seem to recall that the others in the theater also laughed.  I believe it was the only time anyone did during the trailer.

So, in sum: Two smiles and a laugh during a two minute, thirty seven second trailer.

Is it any wonder the film isn’t doing all that well?

The Most Terrifying Thought Experiment of All Time…

…at least according to David Auerbach for Slate magazine, is Roko’s Basilisk.

Never heard of it?  I hadn’t either, until reading this article:

I have to say, this article fascinated the hell out of me.  The idea, if I read right, is that it is inevitable that in the near future we will develop an Artificial Intelligence supercomputer capable of…well, all kinds of things.

The question becomes, will this supercomputer be benevolent or malevolent toward her creators?

What if this incredible supercomputer of the future is malevolent and capable of punishing those who did not help in her creation?

There’s more, much more to this, including the concept of our lives being a computer simulation (!) and perhaps living in continual suffering for our choices…

In the end, it is a fascinating thought experiment with some decidedly Lovecraftian themes behind it.

Read at your own peril!


…Israel invading Gaza, the taking down of the Malaysian airliner and loss of all aboard, Microsoft cutting 18,000 jobs…

A trifecta of absolutely terrible news.  It was like the world threw up on itself (though I could think of more colorful metaphors) yesterday.

Here’s hoping today isn’t quite so grim.

Isaac Asimov’s ridiculous limericks…

Fun, though brief, article by Maddie Crum for The Huffington Post regarding one of the lesser known literary interests of proficient sci-fi writer Isaac Asimov.  Specifically, the fact that he penned several books on *ahem* dirty limericks:

As big a fan as I am of Mr. Asimov’s classic sci-fi works (in particular the original Foundation series), when you write as much as he did in his lifetime, I suppose you’re going to find the oddball works here and there.  According to this article, Mr. Asimov wrote or “presented” at least 9 dirty limerick books!


As to how good or bad these particular works may be…based on the examples presented in the article, I doubt I’ll be headed to Amazon anytime in the near future to purchase any of those books! 😉