2019 Summer Movies…

What in the world happened this year?

By this time, there’s usually a number of films out there doing decently and/or getting people’s attention but this year…

…I dunno.

Many consider May 1st as the official start of the Summer Movie Season but one should consider Avengers: Endgame, released in the last week of April, as the start of the Summer Movie Season.

That movie did very well, of course, but I’m rather surprised by the fact that only a month or so later it seems like… it’s kinda/sorta in the past. Not forgotten, mind you. There are still people I find online posting positives about the film (I haven’t seen it yet) but I’ve also found a surprising number of people who feel the movie wasn’t all that.

Not that they hated it, mind you, but there are some who feel the film was something of a wiff… that it could, indeed should have been much better than it was. There are even some who offer a far more scathing view, that the film was a lot of “fan service”, ie. a bunch of sequences designed to make fans happy but which ultimately didn’t make the overall film all that great.

Again, I don’t know. Haven’t seen it yet.

But at least Avengers: Endgame did great at the box office!

At least for the time it was out. Again, it seems like the film did really well and all those that wanted to see it saw it and then… that was it.

What followed, however, were films that didn’t seem to catch on quite as well.

Over at this site found on firstshowing.net…

2019 Release Schedule

…you can check out the films that have been released to date along with those upcoming.

I did a quick check of some of the films that were hoping to get movie-goer’s interest/money over the Summer Season and was surprised by how many of them to date did only so-so.

Among others you had Pokemon Detective Pikachu (looked cute in commercials and the idea of Ryan Reynolds voicing the character was a plus, but the film sure did seem to come and go). There was John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, which, granted, benefited enormously with the good feelings people have regarding Keanu Reeves and, given what I’m sure is a smaller budget, did very good business. But again, it sure seemed to come and go.

What about Aladdin? Terrible early trailers had everyone doubting the film, but once it was released the critics were kind yet the film was another one week (if that) wonder. Brightburn? Low budget horror “take” on Superman produced by James Gunn had certain audiences intrigued, and given the movie’s low budget I’m sure it recouped its investment and then some. But, again, a one week wonder and out.

Godzilla: King of Monsters had decent reviews but under-performed. Dark Phoenix had pretty poor reviews and also didn’t do all that well. Last week we had two new morsels: Men In Black International and Shaft. Sadly, it appears neither of these films is drawing much interest and appear to be slipping away from theaters after only a week.

All, however, is not lost. There are still some interesting films to come. Child’s Play and Toy Story 4 are being released this coming week and while I suspect the later will do well, the former… we’ll see. Either way, I personally am not to interested in either.

Looking further ahead, July 2 sees the release of Spider-Man: Far From Home. I’m not all that interested but because its a Marvel film, I’m sure it’ll do good business. July 26 brings us Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time In Hollywood. I’m intrigued with the film though I know very little about it other than the setting (Hollywood in the late 1960’s and immediately before -and I’m guessing during/after the Charles Manson horrors). Given how much I hated (no pun intended) his last film, though, I don’t know if I’m going to catch it during its initial release.

Looking over the list of films coming in the next months, there is only one film that currently has me intrigued: Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw. That film looks beyond silly but in a good way.

Otherwise, I dunno. This could be one of the weakest summer movie seasons I’ve seen in a very long time… and, it would appear, for a few others as well.

If I do go see Hobbs & Shaw in theaters, it might well wind up being the only Summer film I see this season in theaters.

A stunning thing to admit!

A writing update, of sorts…

This is a difficult one for me. I’ve faced incredible frustration with the time available for my writing, to the point where in the past month or so I’ve done very, very little.

If you’ve been reading these posts, you know that a large part of this is due to the catastrophes I’ve faced at my house. First, the plumbing problems which led to having to virtually change all the water exit lines on the east side of my house. This resulted in completely tearing up the yard on that side (they had to bring in a digger to create the trench for the new pipes), then, a grand total of two days after the pipes were laid in, my central AC went down and I had to spend even more money on getting that replaced.

Then, my daughter moved and I spent a week with the wife driving to her home, helping pack up her stuff, then spent two days on the road moving her stuff to her new home. Then, another two-three days unloading and unpacking then flying back home…

…and now I’m knee deep in fixing the bathroom that initiated the whole fiasco. See, that bathroom, our guest bathroom, had trouble getting the water out, whether when flushing the toilet or using the shower/bath. We brought in some people, they used a snake, but no result. Then they brought in cameras and determined that the old exit lines, which were metal (a popular choice when our house was built in 1959), had corroded and plugged themselves up to the point they had to be replaced.

Ah well.

Anyway, the original plumbers had to break the ground under the toilet and, since then, the bathroom was unusable. Realizing that simply fixing the floor would be, at best, a patch up job, we decided it was best to refresh the entire bathroom and that’s where we are now.

We’re on day three of this process and I anticipate we’ve got another three days -at least!- to go before being done.

At that point, I very much hope –and pray!– all these time sucking calamities will be done and I’ll be able to finally get back to writing my latest book, which I’ve found an intriguing work to this point.

What is it about?

Well, my intention is to create a good suspense/horror novel which is set in the Corrosive Knights “universe”.

While before I stated my next novel would be an “Epilogue” to the Corrosive Knights series, I’ve reconsidered that thought.

It boils down to this: There are more areas I want to explore in this universe and if I finish off the Epilogue book (the first draft is pretty much done), I fear that it may serve as closure to the Corrosive Knights series and I’m not quite ready to do that yet.

So stay tuned. I’m very, very eager to pounce on the current novel and finish it up as quickly as possible… provided all these other problems are finished up and my focus can return to my work.

Soon.

Hopefully!

What’s Up Doc? (1972) a (incredibly) belated review

A while back TCM played the 1972 Peter Bogdanovich directed screwball comedy homage What’s Up Doc? Here’s the movie’s trailer/behind the scenes:

I had warm memories of the film but, frankly, hadn’t seen it in at least twenty plus years. I wondered if it was as good as I recalled. The DVR was set, the film recorded, and then a couple of months later and with my wife and daughter sat down to see it.

It wasn’t easy getting those two to sit in!

After some twenty minutes, my daughter bailed. She doesn’t have a lot of patience for “old” films and, frankly, I can’t totally blame her. Nowadays films have a quicker pace to them, and this film certainly started “slow” compared to more recent works.

My wife found at least some of what she saw humorous enough and held on, but I think during those early minutes she too was “touch and go”.

But then, once the movie’s finished with the preliminaries and into the story proper, as well as the slapstick that’s to come, What’s Up Doc? becomes a truly wonderful comedy and very worthy of my pleasant memories.

The plot is complex but never complicated: There are four identical traveling bags held by four different characters.

Two of the suitcases carry totally innocuous items: Judy Maxwell (Barbara Streisand, equally sexy and off the wall as a walking hurricane of a character) has a suitcase of clothing. Howard Bannister (Ryan O’Neal doing his best to emulate a stuttering, stuffy Cary Grant who, along with his fiancé –Madeline Kahn in her film debut- is headed to a music convention in the hopes of getting a grant to study… Neanderthal music?) carries igneous rocks.

The two other cases contain something far more interesting: Mr. Smith (Michael Murphy) carries a suitcase full of top secret documents. He’s being pursed by a U.S. agent. The last suitcase, owned by Mrs. Van Hoskins (Mabel Albertson), contains a treasure in jewels.

The jewels catch the eye of the shady Hotel Clerk and equally shady Hotel Detective who plan to steal it. The U.S. Government agent, who Mr. Smith quickly gets wise to, wants to retrieve the top secret documents. And all four suitcases wind up, with their owners, in four separate rooms on the 17th floor of the Hotel they are staying at. This results in mass confusion and considerable hilarity.

The movie plays out, for the most part, like a slapstick stage play, with characters talking in and around each other while the identical suitcases move from room to room and character to character while Judy Maxwell takes a liking to her opposite, character-wise, in Howard Bannister.

The set pieces wind up working terrifically, each bigger and better than the other, followed by a breather before getting into the next comedic set piece. I feel the final big set piece, involving Liam Dunn (I won’t give away too much here, for fear of SPOILING a …gulp… 47 year old film) is a perfect climax and the proverbial cherry on top of the pie. Mr. Dunn, best known for appearances on Mel Brooks films, is but one of the people who would go on from this film to work in two of Mel Brooks’ most famous films. He, along with Madeline Kahn, Kenneth Mars, and John Hillerman would go on to appear in Blazing Saddles. All but Mr. Hillerman would also show up in Young Frankenstein.

In conclusion, if you don’t mind seeing “old” films and/or can put up with a few slow minutes in this movie’s opening act (assuming you’re spoiled on the more speedy pace of modern films), What’s Up Doc? is a no-brainer. A hilarious, albeit strangely forgotten, film that stands up quite well with some of the better comedies out there.

William Gibson’s Alien 3

A while back I mentioned the sorrow I felt when the comic shop I frequented for the past (*gasp*) 20 some years or so -likely more!- had shuttered.

Even so, I felt that it was a matter of time. Just as bookstores in this digital age seem to mostly be a thing of the past so too I felt comic book shops were facing an increasingly stiff digital tide against them.

What I didn’t realize with the shutting of the shop was the access I’d have to so many different comic books, both of recent and past vintage. I’ve been on a tear buying digital copies of series I never finished reading, such as Nexus, or books I was curious about but wouldn’t pay the very stiff amounts for the physical books (there are so many to mention, but I have pretty much the complete runs of Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, and Captain America up to the turn of the century. I also recently found Detective Comics on sale and picked up the late Silver Age/Early Bronze age issues and intend to give them a look see when I can).

One of the interesting things I’ve discovered is that there are several comic book adaptations of interesting unused screenplays. For example, after the success of the original Robocop movie, comic book writer/artist Frank Miller was hired to write screenplays to Robocop 2 and 3. My understanding was that both films bore little comparison to Mr. Miller’s screenplays, but I was always curious to read them. To my delight, I found that there were adaptations of Miller’s Robocop screenplays and I eagerly bought and read them. An improvement over the films, I felt, but perhaps too unfocused for their own good.

Similarly, I found the original/early drafts of The Star Wars by George Lucas and The Bionic Man by Kevin Smith were produced in comic book form as was a more faithful adaptation of the classic Star Trek episode The City on The Edge of Forever by Harlan Ellison.

Reading these works has proven to date a fascinating bit of literary archeology. In all cases I’ve wondered how these scripts were and “reading” them in a graphic novel format is perhaps the closest I’ll get at this point to “seeing” them as a film or TV show.

But it is proving to be a double edged sword.

As I mentioned, the Frank Miller Robocop proved ambitious in scope and scale but unfocused. I fear a faithful film adaptation of what I read would have been a mess. The City on the Edge of Forever, in my opinion, benefited from the changes made to Mr. Ellison’s script. Likewise, The Star Wars presented an interesting early view of George Lucas’ thought process but the eventually released film was far better.

Recently, William (Neuromancer) Gibson’s Alien 3 script was unearthed and adapted into a graphic novel by Johnnie Christmas (writing/art) and Tamara Bonvillain (colorist). For those unaware, after the success of Alien and Aliens, Mr. Gibson was hired to write the script for the third Alien film and did so. The studios passed on his script and it was filed away. The movie which was eventually made had absolutely nothing to do with Mr. Gibson’s screenplay.

Being a fan of Mr. Gibson’s writing, I was intrigued about this screenplay and, given my negative feelings with the theatrically released Alien 3, longed to read his vision of the Alien universe. Was this, finally, a story that deserved to be made into a film?

…welp…

So last year in 2018 Dark Horse comics published the five issue adaptation of Mr. Gibson’s screenplay. In August 5th of this year, the work will be collected into a single edition and I was waiting to buy it. However, over the weekend I found the individual five issues of the series were on sale, digitally, through ComiXology for 0.99 each. The total price for the five issues is $4.95. A bargain considering the upcoming digital collected edition is set to retail for $11.99. Seeing the bargain and no longer able to contain my curiosity, I purchased the five issues and, yesterday, read them.

William Gibson's Alien 3 #1 by [Christmas, Johnnie, Gibson, William]

So, my thoughts:

To begin, the story isn’t a total disaster. There are interesting elements here and there. For example, unlike the screen version of Alien 3, we have the return of Newt, Hicks and Bishop, the trio of which were (SPOILERS FOR A VERY OLD FILM) killed right off the bat at the beginning of the theatrical film version of Alien 3.

I’ll be getting into SPOILERS in a moment but before I do, let me offer this short review:

William Gibson’s Alien 3 is a competently done work with decent art and colors but with a story that is simply not very good. It drags at the beginning then devolves into a typical Alien bloodbath but, truly, offers little new or interesting to the Alien universe other than trying to flesh out political systems.

If this adaptation is true to Mr. Gibson’s screenplay, one can see why the Producers took a pass despite his well regarded reputation in the science fiction field.

Now then, a deeper dive into the story, but to do so we have…

….SPOILERS FOLLOW!…

Still with me?

Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

William Gibson’s Alien 3 presents the Sulaco, fresh off its adventures in Aliens, derelict. A group of people intercept her and discover that in the sleeping module of Bishop, the android, is an alien growth. They foolishly take the android and one of their men is infected and runs away and gets lost in the Sulaco. The others, realizing their time is short, take the 1/2 of Bishop with them and, in time, all hell breaks loose for them.

But before all that happens, the Sulaco is released so that it can complete its journey. There are politics involved and threats among the people who were behind the boarding of the ship and those expecting its arrival but this doesn’t really amount to much, IMHO, nor does it make for terribly interesting reading.

The bottom line is the ship makes it to a major space station and it is there that Ripley, Hicks, and Newt are revived. Ripley freaks out upon discovering Bishop is gone and the Alien threat may be happening and is quickly tranquilized.

And that’s it for Ripley’s participation in this story.

That’s right, kids, Ripley has one “scene”, is knocked out, and that’s pretty much all for her participation here.

Meanwhile, Hicks and Newt re-unite and Newt is sent on a shuttle to her grandparents.

Two characters down.

Bishop is returned to the station repaired (he was, as I already mentioned, torn in half in Aliens) and we find out the people who got to the Sulaco first are facing annihilation from the aliens they unknowingly brought with them. The people who have the Sulaco, meanwhile, are about to get into the same trouble as a “company” woman has them work on the alien DNA. They discover a way the alien DNA can essentially glom onto and over-write human DNA.

Guess what happens?

Anyway, as things are starting to go sideways, Hicks sends the still tranquilized Ripley out on a shuttle craft and to safety. Even in the comic book adaptation we don’t “see” her character or have her say any parting words because she’s in a pod before being sent away. I can’t help but think at the time Mr. Gibson was writing the screenplay the producers told him Sigourney Weaver may not be involved in the film.

Afterwards there’s bloodshed, there’s death, and ultimately we have a station that has to be cleansed by being destroyed.

In the last pages of the story, Hicks and Bishop consider what’s going on and realize that all out war between humanity and the aliens is just around the corner.

Dark times are a comin’.

Fin.

Meh.

When I saw it, I came away really hating the Alien 3 movie. Having said that, I’m put in the uncomfortable position of saying… for all its faults, and it has many, the film was still a better overall work, in my opinion, versus Mr. Gibson’s screenplay.

Now, before I bust on an author idol, I will give Mr. Gibson the benefit of the doubt: He was not involved, I’m assuming, in this comic book adaptation. He didn’t rewrite his screenplay so that it would “work” in a comic book format. Still, assuming what I read was a faithful adaptation of Mr. Gibson’s work, then I can safely say this screenplay would have made for a pretty bad film.

We’ll never know, of course, and for all we know Mr. Gibson produced this screenplay with the intention of then working it out and improving it with time. Perhaps he knew there were many things up in the air, including whether Sigourney Weaver would eventually participate in the film, and he simply wrote out a treatment and knew it would be at best a rough outline for some more fully formed work.

Maybe, maybe not.

At the very least my curiosity is sated.

However, I can’t say that what I read was some lost William Gibson masterpiece.

Into the breach once more…

BEWARE: Tesla post!

I promised a while back I’d try not to post so much about Tesla and the electric vehicles. It felt, to me anyway, that I’d written quite enough about my feelings regarding electric vehicles in general (I love the concept of EV cars and feel combustion engines are an environmentally dirty, very old concept that is way past its time to be replaced) and my Tesla 3 in particular (still loving it!).

The past few weeks for Tesla have been, to say the least, a roller coaster. Their stock prices have tanked for several weeks and those who are salivating at the prospect of Tesla floundering (or, perhaps more specifically, of Elon Musk failing) were ecstatic.

I know little about stocks, other than they go up and down, but I’ve heard of the so-called Tesla short-sellers, people whose investments are a bet the company will fail, and I’ve also read things Musk himself has written/said noting that Tesla and its cars are a direct threat to some very big industries.

Regarding the later, he’s quite right. If Tesla -or EV vehicles in general- become the norm, the several billion dollar auto industry and its many ancillary industries will change in drastic ways. Starting with the oil industry, there will be no great need for gasoline. I wouldn’t say gasoline will suddenly, completely disappear, but the fact is that a sizable portion of the sales will dry up.

Secondary markets will also be affected: Gas stations, oil changing companies (whether on gas station grounds or individual businesses), battery companies (those that create batteries for the gas powered cars), transmission fluid makers, parts manufacturers, etc. etc. etc.

Truly, if EV cars become the norm, which I strongly suspect will happen, many, many industries will be subverted. Many may well go under.

So there were those -investors, industry, Elon Musk haters, etc.- who were very happy to pile on to the company’s woes following a weak first quarter of sales.

The tables, though, seem to have turned. From Lauren Feiner at cnbc:

Tesla had its second best day this week following report its offering hefty incentives to reach high delivery

CNBC, a business reporting company, is, at least according to this article by Zachary Shahan at cleantechnica.com, not necessarily a reporting organization that offers many positives regarding Tesla…

40 Tesla headlines on CNBC in 2 days -31 negative, 2 positive

It’s tempting, as a fan of my Model 3 and EVs in general, to say the sudden about face and turn from negative to positive will mean from here on out things are going to be good.

Not so.

Just as we had a period of dark news and now we’re moving into positives, I suspect at some point in the near future there will be more negative news coming regarding Tesla and EVs.

I suppose the point is the old cliche of a marathon.

It’s a long race and Tesla may be, for the moment, ahead of the game when just a few days before they were falling behind and things looked very dark. This could very easily change in the near future.

We’ll see.

Sorry for the dearth of posts…

It seems to happen at least once (or twice) each year: There comes a period of time where I’m slammed with something or another and it’s simply impossible for me to post new entries here.

This time around, it was helping my eldest daughter move halfway across the country to her new job, which involved the wife and I driving to where she lived (4 hours), then helping her pack up while simultaneously renting a Suburban to hold her stuff/furniture, then 1 full day (8+ hours) of driving the Suburban (me) and her car (daughter and wife) to the halfway point, spending the night there, then another full day (8+ hours) of driving to her destination.

Once there, it was time to unload her belongings, go off to buy items she needed, get a lay of the land, return the Suburban (thank the Gods for car rental agencies which allow you to travel half-way across the country and then leave the car you rented with them there!), and, finally, take a flight (3 and 1/2 hours long!) back home on Sunday.

The later point, the flight back, really makes one appreciate how good it is to fly versus drive such long distances!

Still, once again it seems like I can’t catch a break: My youngest daughter, who remained at home caring for the pets while we helped the eldest daughter, told us the brand new AC unit I spent some very hard earned money on was making strange noises.

That night, Sunday, the wife and I heard the strange noises it was making upon starting up. Then, I noticed that it was blowing air but not cooling.

To say the least, I was beside myself.

The unit, not quite a month old, was failing?!

WTF?!?

After one hour of it simply blowing air and fearing the worst and very strangely, the AC unit was suddenly working and blowing cool air?

WTF Redux?!

While no expert in AC units, I’ve had plenty of experience with them and it was, to say the least, very weird that the unit a) was making this very weird noise and b) not cooling for approximately an hour before doing so.

On Monday I called the people who installed the unit and arranged for them to come see it. Thankfully, they came relatively quickly and I told them what we experienced. He was also bewildered.

He checked the Freon and machinery outside before moving inside. He said everything looked like it was good. Then, he realized the problem…

Image result for p-trap

What you see above is a “p-trap”. All sinks, bathtubs, toilets, and, yes, AC units have such things. The p-trap is used in the water exhaust of the above items. The point is the water comes down the tube on the left, hits the curved p-trap, and that speeds the water along to the right and out.

What the people who installed my brand new AC unit did was put a p-trap very near where the water comes out… and didn’t realize there was already another p-trap on the outside of the house and near the end of the exit line where the AC water is discharged into the lawn.

One can only have one p-trap per exit line. If you have two of them, the exhaust water gets trapped in the tubing between the p-traps and this can cause problems.

Like what I was experiencing with the AC unit.

Luckily, the fix was extremely easy: Remove the outside p-trap.

Whew.

Anyway, I’m still getting my legs back and am still very exhausted from the trip and the move.

I’m also very eager to get back to my writings, which I’ve understandably had to set aside for the past week.

We’ll be back to them.

As soon as today, later in the evening.

Upgrade (2018) a (Mildly) Belated Review

Sometimes, a movie takes you by surprise and rocks your world. Especially when the movie (and, one has to assume, the movie’s makers) are treading into creative areas similar to the one’s I’ve been mining.

Please, please, PLEASE don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying the delightful Upgrade is somehow “ripping off” ideas I’ve used in my novels.

Hell no!

What I’m saying is that there are elements in the movie that I recognize in some of my novels… but that’s all they are, similar elements.

The creative playground out there is quite big and it wouldn’t surprise me if writer/director Leigh Whannell’s been reading/watching/admiring some of the same material I have over his life. In other words: If you’ve read and like my books, I suspect you’ll like this movie and, no, it doesn’t “rip off” my books -at all!- but does play in similar territory.

But enough preamble. Here’s the trailer for Upgrade:

As you can see by the above, Upgrade involves one Gray Trace (Logan Marshall-Green, quite good) who is a mechanic and something of a technophobe living in the near future where computers are everywhere and a creeping dystopia is coming to life. When we meet him, he’s doing the finishing touches on a Trans-Am Firebird, the type many would be familiar as being in the movie Smokey and the Bandit, when his wife Asha (Melanie Vallejo) arrives from work.

They have some light banter before Gray insists his wife accompany him to deliver the Trans-Am to the man who hired him to refurbish it. Turns out the man is a computer genius who heads a large tech company and whose work his wife is familiar with. The man is sullen and awkward, but offers to show them his latest project, a new computer chip which he states will revolutionize the world.

Upon leaving the reclusive man’s home, Gray and Asha’s self-driving car is hacked and crashed. A group of toughs come to rob them and Asha is shot and killed while Gray is rendered a quadraplegic.

Understandably morose following a painful recovery that has this once independent man a widower and tied to a wheelchair, he is visited by his previous employer, who states the chip he showed him might just be able to get him on his feet again.

And that’s about all the spoiling I’m going to do for this film.

If you’ve seen the trailer, you know some of what’s to come, but this very low budget (supposedly around $5 million) film is quite amazing. It’s lean, mean, and doesn’t waste a second of your time while delivering a clever story that is at times familiar (boo!) only to surprise you with some well thought out twists and turns (yay!).

The ending, too, proved a fascinating, well thought out piece of cinema, giving you the proverbial cherry on top of the cake.

While Upgrade doesn’t necessarily revolutionize B movies, it offers plenty of thrills and clever storytelling. Further, despite its ending it also allows for -if the writer/director is interested- sequels which could examine… well… that would be telling, wouldn’t it?

If you haven’t seen it, give Upgrade a whirl. It’s well worth your time.

Post-script: I noted on director/writer Leigh Whannell’s IMDB listing that he’s attached to the Escape From New York remake. A very, very interesting choice. Given how much I liked Upgrade and how that film was set in a pseudo near-future not unlike the original Escape From New York, I can certainly see the reason he was chosen.

Could be good.

Game Of Thrones… Finale

DISCLAIMER: I have yet to see a single full episode of the Game of Thrones TV series and I have not read any of the G. R. R. Martin books on which the series is based.

And yet… I’m fascinated by the HBO series. Have been almost from the beginning. As each episode has appeared, I’ve read the mostly positive reactions to the show and I know most of what’s gone on in it: The surprise/shock deaths and the evil machinations of the various characters.

I’m sure I’m missing quite a bit, having not seen show or read the novels, but I’m familiar enough with some of the main characters and know that many fans have found the final season and conclusion of the HBO show a bitter disappointment.

Going back in time, I recall people thinking/hoping the final two books in Mr. Martin’s series would be released just as the show reached its end. Soon these same fans realized it was very likely the second to the last novel might be released by the time the show ended, but it became increasingly doubtful the final novel would see the light of day before then. Then, more time passed and suddenly it was clear neither of the two last books would be released before the show ended.

And so it’s come to pass.

In fact, readers still don’t know when the last two books will be released, if ever, and they’re certain the decline in quality of the series and, especially what they witnessed in this last season, was due to the fact that the show’s runners no longer had Mr. Martin’s books to guide them.

In that, they’re likely quite right.

I’m sure you’ve been wondering: If I haven’t seen the damn series nor read any of the books, what in the world could I possibly add to the conversation regarding Game of Thrones and its TV end?

Welp, if you’ve been reading my posts, you know I have my own little series of novels which I’ve recently concluded. The series, titled Corrosive Knights, consisted of seven novels…

When I heard a few years back that it was likely Mr. Martin would have neither of the last two novels of the series done before the TV show finished, I knew the show might be in trouble and feared exactly what’s happened for many, that the show ended in disappointment.

Understand, I’m no psychic. I based this on the experiences I had writing my own novels.

You see, when I was knee deep in writing Ghost of the Argus, the fifth book in the Corrosive Knights series, I had absolutely no idea the series would go on for two more novels. At that point, believe it or not, I had absolutely no idea how the series would end, if ever. I was enjoying writing each novel and seeing where my imagination would take me.

Granted, I knew I had to eventually wrap the series up and create some kind of conclusion, but there was method to my madness. By focusing on each novel as I wrote it, I was determined to make each book stand out on its own and build upon what came before.

By the time I was on the last couple of drafts of Ghost of the Argus, I had this wild, sudden vision of where the next two books would go. Suddenly, I knew the next two books would offer a conclusion to the series and, just like that, I had a general framework for where I was going.

But it was only a framework.

What followed were four years of very hard work, of trial and error, of new/surprising directions. You see, while I had a general idea of where I was going, I still had to get there. I had to take this framework and build organs and musculature, flesh and blood, around it.

Had HBO been working on a Corrosive Knights TV adaptation of my works and were getting along on the series and wanted to know how I was going to end it, had they asked me before I had my vision I would have had no answer for them. After my vision, I could have provided them with the framework but that’s all they would have had. What I created in four years after was very much different from that initial set of ideas.

I can’t help but think that the Game of Throne showrunners were in a similar position, given general ideas from Mr. Martin. They were the ones who had to come up with all the organs, flesh, blood, and outer skin… and if we’re going by many of the negative reactions, they simply weren’t up to the task.

Frankly, I feel for them.

I’m certain they did the best they could but the fact is they aren’t Mr. Martin and they haven’t gone through the trial and error and actual writing that Mr. Martin has.

Maybe one day the books will finally appear and all those fans of the series will get their better ending.

Until then, they’ve got what they have.

Voynich Manuscript… Deciphered?

Heard about the mysterious Voynich Manuscript? No?

Then check out the Wikipedia entry concerning it:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voynich_manuscript

In essence, the Voynich Manuscript is a book consisting of strange writings and illustrations purchased by Wilfred Voynich in 1912. Since that time, scholars as well as the curious have tried -and failed- to decipher the writings within the manuscript.

In the past few days, however, Gerard Cheshire, a University of Bristol academic, announced he has deciphered the famous manuscript. If you’re curious, you can read the article explaining how he did it here…

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/02639904.2019.1599566

Sounds good, no?

Finally, finally, we get to find out what mysterious things were written in this very mysterious book, right?

Well, hold your horses because Jennifer Aullettee points out the fact that many people have claimed over the years to have deciphered the Voynich Manuscript and, so far, none have proven correct. She also offers in her article reasons to doubt Mr. Cheshire’s claims, as well:

https://arstechnica.com/science/2019/05/no-someone-hasnt-cracked-the-code-of-the-mysterious-voynich-manuscript/

I have to say, when I heard of Mr. Cheshire’s claims, I was excited. Hell, I’m fascinated by things like this, essentially unsolved mysteries from the past.

However, it seems to me Ms. Aullettee has effectively thrown cold water on Mr. Cheshire’s claims and… well… until I read otherwise I’m thinking this might be one of a long line of claims that don’t quite hold.

Funny thing is, I suspect when/if the manuscript is deciphered the end result will be a lot of stuff that, to modern readers, will appear to be nothing more than old nonsensical ideas/notions/stories. I strongly suspect we’re not about to find a lost classic of literature.

My basis for this is in some of the illustrations presented in the manuscript, such as…

Or…

Or…

There are many other pages from the book one can find online. Many deal with flora, like the second piece presented above, while others show oddities like pictures 1 and 3. What has so many curious is the writing alongside these pieces. This is, obviously, what so many are trying to decipher.

Until we have final proof -and assuming this latest decryption turns out to be not quite what it is being billed as- I’ll keep hoping for a day when the manuscript is indeed completely deciphered, though I feel whatever writings there are will prove to be, perhaps, quite nonsensical.

We’ll see!

5/17/19 POSTSCRIPT:

We’ll see indeed!

Not even 24 hours later I find this article by Ryan F. Manbelbaum and presented on Gizmodo.com which states:

Sorry, it looks like a Researcher didn’t just crack the Voynich Manuscript after all

The upshot is that the university in which the above mentioned individual who claimed to have cracked the Manuscript… well… I’ll let the University Speak for itself (you can read their full statement here):

Following media coverage, concerns have been raised about the validity of this research from academics in the fields of linguistics and medieval studies. We take such concerns very seriously and have therefore removed the story regarding this research from our website to seek further validation and allow further discussions both internally and with the journal concerned.

Yeah, sounds like they feel just maybe the whole “I deciphered the thing” statement previously released might have been… well… premature, to say the least.

The Joys of AC

If you’ve been following the hilarious/high-cost events of my life these past days, you know that 1) I had to replace the entire east side water exit line because the cast iron pipes had corroded to the point where they were plugged up and 2) My central AC unit died.

Both things have cost me dearly -from a money standpoint!- and the bloodletting isn’t quite done. My east side yard is turned over dirt and rocks and will need to get a new layer of sod. The AC unit was finally replaced yesterday and not a moment too soon. The heat my family and I faced for the past two days and nights (really three with Friday, but at least that night there was still some residual cool air in the house) were bordering on unbearable.

Yeah, I know. First world problems and all.

Monday was really rough, having the AC folks there and seeing them slowly …sloooooowwwwwwlllllyyyyyy… take the old unit out and then put the new one in… It was so hot and I was so damn sweaty and at several points I was ready to jump out of my chair and tell them I’d help in any way possible to get this done quickly.

By around 4 P.M. they were finally done, though there was a moment of high tension when the main AC guy connected the wiring and my thermostat was reading that something wasn’t connected right. For five terror filled minutes I wondered if the new unit was somehow defective but, thank the Gods, it seemed all that happened was a couple of the wires he connected didn’t quite… connect.

When the AC started, I stood under one of the vents, hoping for a freezing blast. It didn’t come, not right away, but within a few minutes the blazing hot/humid air blowing out of the unit became colder and colder and, I knew, things were going to be OK.

I slept like the proverbial log last night and still feel exhausted today.

Now, to get the yard and that bathroom (the one part of the house that also had to get the exit line redone) fixed and the financial bloodletting will be done.

P.S.: Thanks to everyone out there buying and/or reading via Kindle Unlimited my Corrosive Knights novels. Ever since releasing the seventh and concluding novel in this series (though I can say with confidence there’s more stories to tell set in this wild universe!), I’ve been delighted by the steady stream of readers and I couldn’t be happier.

Thank you so much for making these last few months so damn enjoyable!

It almost makes up for the past week and a half! 😉

The Blog of E. R. Torre

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