Thursday, December 23, 2010

Tired of Happy Christmas Specials?

Tomorrow’s Christmas Eve so I thought I make a list (and check it twice) of, well, alternate Christmas movies and specials:

TV:




A Very Supernatural Christmas:  A holiday themed episode from my favourite show, Supernatural.  Some little nasty is dragging hapless victims up the chimney and making them disappear.  Is it Santa’s evil twin?  Not likely.  Sam and Dean are on the hunt in an episode full of black humour and flashbacks to the Ghosts of Winchester Christmases Past.  Just wait to you see how they use the Christmas tree.











Robbie the Reindeer:  I’m referring to the three original British Christmas specials, Robbie the Reindeer Hooves of Fire and Robbie the Reindeer Legend of the Lost Tribe and Robbie the Reindeer Close Encounters of the Herd Kind.  It’s Santa’s reindeer done up British style with a nice dollop of irreverent humour.  And remember the immortal words of Blitzen, “Power: one of the few things in life that's nicer than toast.










The Doctor Who Christmas Specials:  Come spend Christmas with the Doctor and the Tardis as he battles an alien invasion (The Christmas Invasion), a bride and more aliens (The Runaway Bride), cybermen descending on Victorian London (The Next Doctor), and tries to stop a space faring Titanic from crash-landing on Earth (Voyage of the Damned).  It is science fiction wrapped up with a bow.   And don’t forget this year’s special A Christmas Carol (broadcast in Canada on Space Dec 26th and on BBC America Dec 25th).






Movies:




The Ref:  One very dysfunctional family meets a fugitive thief with anger issues at Christmas time.  He takes them hostage, stays for Christmas dinner and ends up as an impromptu family counsellor.














The Nightmare Before Christmas:  Jack Skellington, the king of Halloween Town, discovers the existence of Christmas Town.  Fascinated by the place he tries to take over, but things don’t quite work out.  He finds out why Halloween and Christmas don’t mix. 












Gremlins:  Fuzzy turns into fiendish as cute little creatures morph into little nasty gremlins and wreak Christmas havoc on the terrified town.















Die Hard:  Nothing says Christmas like the office party being crashed by would-be terrorists.  But that fly-in-the-ointment John McClane is there to save the day and the Holidays.  Yippee-ki-yay and to all a good night.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Book Spotlight: The Empire

The Spotlight Is On:



The Empire by Elizabeth Lang

With security comes a price.
Humanity is in danger of annihilation as a centuries old war with the Andromedans heats up again. The Empire, an increasingly totalitarian society, is the only force that stands in the gap.
Thrust into this chaos of alien invasion, rebellion, and political intrigue, Lieutenant Adrian Stannis is caught between the ends and the means. No one knows why this brilliant scientist chooses to hide in the farthest reaches of the galaxy, doing research on an insignificant science vessel. His days of anonymity may soon be coming to an end, whether he wants it to or not.
Adrian's freedom, and his very survival may depend on friends he's afraid of having. Kali, a psi-enabled humanoid who is the only person he gets along with, just barely, and Bryce, his personal assistant and one-time conman and thief, may be his only hopes, if he doesn't push them away, not to mention a mystery surrounding him that may explode in their faces.
Everyone wants to know the truth, but will it set them free?



The Empire is available on Amazon in print and Kindle and for the Nook at Barnes and Noble.




Author Bio:

Elizabeth Lang was an avid reader from an early age. Science Fiction and Fantasy were and still are her passions, with occasional dips in the pools of Mystery. She spent many years in the IT industry and started writing late in life, but once begun, she couldn’t stop.
Elizabeth lives in Canada though she's worked in many places around the world. She loves traveling, learning about different cultures, and sampling their delectable foods.
Her Website:  http://www.elizabeth-lang.com/

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Paranormal Modern Folk Music

The Spotlight Is On:



Jonah Knight


Jonah Knight plays Paranormal Modern Folk, what he descibes as alternate acoustic music.
His songs runs from light hearted to creepy and from stream of conscious to detailed story telling. He treats his craft seriously with the goal of creating high quality music that just happens to be about ghosts & monsters, angels & demons, pirates & clones.
Jonah used to be a standard singer/songwriter with songs about traditional subjects: jobs, friends, traveling, and relationships, but after writing over 150 songs he began to lose interest. In early 2010 he had a realization that although he had been a fan of Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror/Super Heroes all of his life, he had never considered writing songs on those topics.

You can find out more about Jonah Knight and his music at his website:  http://www.jonahofthesea.com/main.cfm
You can download a free 6 song sampler from his albums by signing up for his email newsletter.

His CD's:


Exploration of Dangerous Places- An album of supernatural dangers that one encounters through travel.   It is a collection of haunted songs written by Jonah Knight after he reconnected with the supernatural.  This is his second CD after deciding to focus on supernatural or 'genera' subjects. Ghosts, monsters, an army of clones, space travel, and pirates dominate the songs.
The album was released in November 2010










In June of 2010 Jonah Knight released the album, Ghosts Don't Disappear, a meditation on being haunted.  















Jonah Knight is currently planning three releases for 2011, all focused on supernatural subject matter.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Is 'Avatar' Really THAT Amazing?

Risking the ire of geeks everywhere, the blog is going controversial today with guest blogger, Edward Stern and his take on the movie Avatar:


Is 'Avatar' Really THAT Amazing?

Seeing Avatar in theaters was truly a revelation. I had the pleasure of viewing James Cameron's 3-D epic on a gigantic iMax screen with incredible surround sound and 3-D glasses. What I saw blew me away. Vibrant colors, stunning landscapes, inventive creatures and truly breathtaking action sequences had me glowing as I walked out of the theater after nearly 3 hours. It seemed that everyone else who saw the movie agreed -- there were even reports of people having Avatar withdrawal, because reality was not as awe-inspiring as the digital creations of the film.

Then I saw Avatar on DVD, on a small screen, without 3-D. The visuals no longer had as much of an effect, and so I was able to focus on the story. What I found was much less captivating. The dialogue often bordered on amateurish, and the plot was fairly rote and uninspired. I felt I'd seen it before in countless variations; a timeless film should not evoke feelings of Fern Gully. Nor should it make me laugh at its lackadaisical writing, such as the greedy quest for "unobtainium."

The messages of the movie were loud and clear, and very black and white: respect the environment or be a caustic pig. If you don't care about the environment that's bad. Good messages for sure, just not presented with any real expertise. As such, it's questionable to even consider Avatar good science fiction. A world is invented, yes, but it is really not so different from others that have come before. Even in the extended DVD edition, the scenes of an overpopulated and depressing earth are clear rip-offs of Blade Runner's pessimistic look at future human existence.

Even the whole thing about avatars required a thorough suspension of disbelief. Why these cloned copies were needed to infiltrate the natives was kind of fuzzy, especially considering the natives recognized the avatars as ungodly creations. The whole cerebral connection aspect was another unexplained stretch of the imagination.

Avatar as a spectacle was a truly groundbreaking visual treat. Pandora is a world I would gladly go back to, with a big screen, 3-D glasses, and pretty much all plot and dialogue cut out. Myself, and audiences around the world, were blinded by unprecedented special effects. What we missed was, well, not that much: a contrived plot, cardboard dialogue, and head-scratching attempts at good science fiction.


Edward Stern is a guest blogger and writer.


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Book Spotlight: From the Heart: A Collection of Stories and Poems from the Front Lines of Parenting

The Spotlight Is On:



From the Heart: A Collection of Stories and Poems from the Front Lines of Parenting

Inside the pages of this book, dozens of authors have given of themselves to share their unique perspective on the journey of parenthood and to make a difference in the lives of children along the way.  The result is a collection of stories and poems that track the fun, the challenging and the truly phenomenal aspects of parenting.

From pregnancy worries and the miracle of birth to tough times and growing up, each unique triumph and challenge through a lifetime of parenthood palpitates on the page.

From the Heart: A Collection of Stories and Poems from the Front Lines of Parenting was created to raise money for children’s charities.  With this collaborative effort, we will help every child get the medical care that they need and find cures for some of life’s most devastating diseases.

With inspired stories and poems from a group of extraordinary writers, this volume will leave an impression on the heart of any parent.

Proceeds from the sale of this book will be donated to children’s charities.

http://writeforcharity.wordpress.com/the-book/


Write

Friday, November 26, 2010

The TV season so far- part 2

Today I’ll be recapping the progress of some my favourite shows.

Attention the post contains “spoilers”.

Supernatural:  The speculation about whether season six would make the cut was the buzz with the fans when the show started this fall and so far the show has managed to maintain the quality.  I love the resurrection of the grandfather, Samuel and the bump in status of Crowley the demon, plus the “Sam has no soul” plotline has the makings of brilliance.  I do miss the whole “Sam and Dean” interplay, but this new dynamic is intriguing.

Dexter: Coming off the infamous “Trinity” storyline, the show has again altered direction with a marvellous new plotline.  In the midst of a narrative chock full of themes of grief, redemption and revenge, Dexter has found a new bloody playmate and protégé.  Completing the dark delight are new targets and enemies lurking around the corner.

Vampire Diaries:  This show keeps getting better; it is a multi-layered drama that goes beyond the “teenage vampire” craze.   So far this season there has been the return of vampire Katherine, Caroline unwilling joining the vampire ranks, werewolves, uber-vamps and an ancient curse that put a target on the backs of our stalwart vamp heroes Stefan and Damon and their love-interest Elena.

Smallville:  This, the tenth and last, season has actually risen above the mediocrity of recent years and shown some quality.  They have shifted the focus off all the complicated storylines and put it back where in belonged: on the characters.  We have actually seen some introspection and character growth and the new Darkseid story arc has actually been intriguing.

Fringe:  This show is what every sci-fi program should aspire to:  a well-acted, tense, compelling drama.  The parallel, two universe storyline has expanded the dynamic of the show and let Anna Torv (Olivia) stretch her acting chops.  I can’t wait to see what happens when the storylines finally collide.

Some more favourites worth watching.

Chuck:  Occasionally an episode misfires here and there, but it is still the most entertaining geek spy show on TV.

Castle:  Just another fabulous season of high jinks, fun and murder with Beckett, Castle and company.

Bones:  Murders, science and gruesome forensics.  What more could you ask?

The Mentalist:  More metal trickery to catch murderers, with some intriguing teasers in the Red John sub-plot.

Human Target:  The new season started with a bang and looks to be a solid run of engaging action.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The TV season so far- part 1

I’ve been featuring books here lately and it’s time for a switch in topics with a little rundown on this year’s television season as I see it.
Today, I’m talking about some of the new shows that debuted this fall.  In my opinion, there have been a few standouts, a couple of watchable shows and some disappointments.

Standouts:  
  • Hawaii Five-O- This cop show is gorgeous (in both cast and setting), action-packed and just plain fun.  It is fast becoming one of my favourites.
  • The Event- I didn’t know what to expect when this show debuted, but it is a gripping show.  It has a solid sci-fi/conspiracy plotline that doles out just enough information to tease and intrigue, but not frustrate you.
  • $#*! My Dad Says- The best thing I can say about this sitcom is it makes me laugh out loud.
  • Nikita- I was surprised by this one, but it is a great show.  It’s intriguing, dramatic with some fabulous spy action.  
Watchable: 
  • The Defenders- A bit goofy and at times earnest, but the two leads, Jim Belushi and Jerry O’Connell, charm and so does the show.
  • Law and Order: Los Angeles- A sturdy addition to the Law and Order family, with good acting and engaging plots. 
Disappointments: 
  • No Ordinary Family- I wanted to like this show, but it was too humdrum with way too much family angst.  I did not think you could make superheroes boring until I watched this show.
  • Undercovers- The previews for this show looked cool, but it sucks.  The two romantic leads have no chemistry, the spy plots are ridiculous and overall the show is tedious.
  • Chase- This isn’t exactly a bad show, but I found it lacklustre.  I felt it tried too hard to be serious and it never connected.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

2:1 Sales? Holy Ebook, Amazon!

Today I'm spotlighting the new publishing trend of ebooks with guest blogger, Andrew Hall, and his thoughts on rising sales of these books:

2:1 Sales? Holy Ebook, Amazon!

Fun fact: Amazon is now selling two ebooks for every print book it sells. This is a major shift in how readers are choosing to consume literature and one with long-term consequences for the publishing industry, as the world's largest bookseller is now pushing digital product far more effectively than physical (and that's what its users want).

A number of factors can account for this, and the first is the Kindle. Amazon's ebook reader has become a wildly popular device and a touchstone for the concept of ebook readers, much as the iPod completely changed how people thought of MP3 players. The convenience of the Kindle has done away with the stigmas of inconvenience and tedium (and unreadable screens) attached to ebook readers of old, and Amazon selling both a reader and material for that reader, much like Apple's iPod and iTunes Music Store tie-ins, have proven hugely effective in pushing the product.

Another potential explanation is simple: instant gratification. As opposed to paying for shipping and handling waiting for a product to arrive, or risking losing it in the mail, purchasing an ebook means that the book arrives within a few seconds (or perhaps a few minutes, depending on the quality of your internet connection) and can be read as soon as it's downloaded. Actual books have a waiting period, and our culture does not like waiting for things.

Furthermore, ebooks are considerably less wasteful than printed pages. While there's much to be said about the printed page - it's more likely to be preserved, you can show people what you're reading when you're in public and maybe impress someone in the process, it doesn't suffer from glare - the ebook doesn't require trees to be chopped down or inks to be used, and it can be distributed immediately, rather than in several weeks after the book is printed and bound. Given that many users are conscious about their carbon footprints, an ebook reader seems like an easy solution to the problems of producing paper books, which require machinery and sophisticated manufacturing processes. While the Kindle also requires manufacturing, it only needs to be made once, not every time someone wants to purchase a book, perhaps making it appear to be a more environmentally friendly way to get reading material.

Within the next few years, Amazon's print to digital sales ratio is only going to slide more and more in favor of digital, much like CDs were phased out in favor of downloads. This is definitely indicative of a larger trend.

Andrew Hall is a guest blogger and a writer.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Book Spotlight: Refracted

The Spotlight Is On:



Refracted by Sheila Deeth

Rivers are drying and crops are dying, but children run and play in the fields, and think they might even enjoy setting monsters free. Of course, the parents won’t approve, but that’s the least of their problems, come the flood.

Next time he wakes, the young man remembers running in different fields. But he still can’t catch the girl, or find how to stay in one place. Loves proves as elusive as gold at rainbow’s end, and time slips through his fingers once again.

Maybe it’s fate. Maybe fame and fortune have something in mind. Or maybe when the seconds finally runs out someone else might help him find what he’s looking for.

Refracted is available from Amazon.com

It is also available from Smashwords, or directly from the publisher: http://gypsyshadow.com/SheilaDeeth.html





Author Bio:

Sheila Deeth describes herself as an English American, a Catholic Protestant, a mathematician who can’t add up and a writer who can’t spell. She grew up in the UK and has a Bachelors and Masters in mathematics from Cambridge University, England. Now living in the States with her husband and sons, she enjoys reading, writing, drawing, telling stories and meeting her neighbors’ dogs on the green.



Her websitehttp://www.sheiladeeth.com
You can also find her childrens' Bible books at http://stores.lulu.com/sdeeth, or visit http://www.refracted-muse.com/ to find out more of her refracted dreams.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Book Spotlight: Once Upon a Dark and Eerie...

The Spotlight Is On: 




Once Upon a Dark and Eerie... by A. F. Stewart

Snippets, sonnets and stories to make you shiver.

A morbid and morose collection of tales designed to scare, dismay and leave you wondering.  Open the pages into worlds of horror, dark fantasy, and satire, where things creep in shadowy corners, where they like to hear you scream.

Once Upon a Dark and Eerie... will show you it isn’t safe in space, why fairy tales, clowns and rubber duckies are more than what they seem and why you should lock your doors in the dark.







Available at Smashwords:  https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/28423?ref=scribe77

To receive a dollar off the price, use the coupon code, WZ73F, at the checkout.  This discount lasts until Christmas.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Book Spotlight: A Touch of Deceit

The Spotlight Is On:




A Touch of Deceit by Gary Ponzo:


FBI agent Nick Bracco can't stop a Kurdish terrorist from firing missiles at random homes across the country.

The police can't stand watch over every household, so Bracco recruits his cousin Tommy to help track down this terrorist.
Tommy is in the Mafia. Oh yeah, it gets messy fast.

As fast as you can turn the pages.


A Touch of Deceit is an Amazon Kindle Exclusive.





Author Bio:

Gary Ponzo lives in Phoenix, Arizona with his wife Jennifer and two children, Jessica and Kyle.  His short stories have appeared in numerous publications, including Amazing Journeys Magazine and Potpourri.  Two of his short stories have been nominated for the very prestigious Pushcart Prize.  His novel, "A Touch of Deceit" won the S.W. Writers Contest, Thriller category.

Website:
http://www.garyponzo.com/




Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Book Spotlight: When Dreams Bleed

The Spotlight Is On:



When Dreams Bleed by Robin Cain:

A software genius with a knack for business, Frank’s been living the dream his whole life. He’s amassed money, success, and is now accumulating women, but someone out there thinks he’s gone too far.

Who is seeking revenge and why? His wife? His mistress? Or the shadow who’s been following his every move?

Just when he thinks he has anticipated his opponent’s next move a tragic car accident leaves him paralyzed, his life’s work is being stolen and his wife has disappeared. Just how far will someone go to teach him the correlation between deception and despair?

WHEN DREAMS BLEED examines temptation and the ensuing consequences in a contemporary world. It’s no secret that dreams come at a price, but what happens WHEN DREAMS BLEED?





About the Author:
Robin lives in Scottsdale, Arizona with her husband, daughter, three dogs, three horses and an adopted donkey named Sophia.  As a novelist and regular contributing writer for The Examiner, she spends her days searching for the perfect words to amuse, enlighten and touch her readers. A three chapter excerpt of her book, WHEN DREAMS BLEED, can be found on her website, http://www.robincain.com/
You can also find her thoughts and musings at her blog, http://robincain.wordpress.com/

And you can check out my review of When Dreams Bleed:  http://afstewartblog.blogspot.com/2010/03/real-emotional-drama-review-of-when.html

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Book Spotlight: Restored Hope

The Spotlight is on:




Restored Hope by Brenda Youngerman

Peter and Tara Miller are the image of perfection. They have three beautiful children, live in a wonderful neighborhood, and are still each other’s best friend. One day in May their world begins to disintegrate as one of their son falls out of a tree. Tragically six months later their other son takes his own life. Tara snaps and she recedes into the confines of her darkened room.

Emotionally abandoned, Samantha Miller must survive the aftermath of her brothers’ deaths, her mother’s breakdown and her father’s demands. When she has the ability to break free she does and discovers that the real world is not much kinder. Emotionally shattered she struggles through college and law school to discover that her dead twin can direct her to a safe haven. The solace of the ocean and a dog give her the strength she needs to find peace and happiness.

Timothy Bleak is raised in a kind, loving family and is virtually invisible. His voice goes unheard, his needs are unmet and his emotions are squashed. Unbeknownst to his parents he chooses the opportune time to leave the family and set out on a new adventure of his own.

Follow the story as these two bereft beings find each other and their lives intertwine as they face the challenges of life, love and happiness together.

Restored Hope - http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/RestoredHope.html


Author Bio:

Brenda was the youngest child in a very large family and never felt like she really fit in. To make matters worse, her parents were divorced in the 60’s, before divorce was the ‘in’ thing. She found herself disappearing into her own world where she observed others. That was not a great place for a child to be, but turned out to be rather advantageous for an author. She didn’t really find her own voice until her writing was published.
Brenda has always had the ability to empathize, constantly harboring strays, even when it meant less for her. Writing comes naturally to her and she has been writing since high school, keeping journals since college. When her first novel came out, Private Scars, she tackled the very difficult subject of domestic abuse from the victim’s point of view. From that moment forward she has written what she calls "Fiction With a Purpose". Her novels deal with social issues that she feels need attention.
Brenda tries to bring the reader along for the ride from the character's point of view and if at the end of the book, a reader puts it down and asks, "Was that real?" She did a good job! Brenda believes that ONE person can make a difference and that all things happen for a reason. We are all on this planet for a purpose and that she has finally found out what her purpose is.
Brenda Youngerman writes fiction with a purpose and hopes that the tales that she weaves entertain as well as give people hope. Brenda lives in southern California and she loves to walk on the beach with her dog and watch the pelicans!

Brenda's Goodreads Profile:  http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1813183.Brenda_Youngerman

Friday, October 8, 2010

Book Spotlight: Sorrowed Souls

The Spotlight Is On:


Sorowed Souls by Brenda Youngerman

The eyes are the window to the soul.

Sorrowed Souls will take you on a journey into the lives of people who were beaten down to empty shells and through the help of others came back to life.

Bryan Tines grew up in the shadow of his father. He was told that he would never amount to anything and in his efforts to prove his father wrong he became a prominent real estate developer, business man and all around jerk. He single-handedly built up his empire on hard work, brute force and long hours. What he forgot in his quest was the most important lesson; and one night that lesson comes crashing home.
Amy Pickens is an only child born into a working class family. Unfortunately her mother resents her very existence and will stop at nothing to make her life a living hell. The very day Amy takes her future into her own hands is the moment destiny intercedes. Her emptiness is turned around, but for how long?
Gus Hill is born with a silver spoon in his mouth and alcohol in his veins. His older brothers want nothing to do with him; his father is guilt-ridden over his birth. The world of greed, drugs and liquor cannot replace love; and even the best schools in the world do not replace a mother. Gus has all strikes against him from the beginning, but one act of kindness from his youth remains with him to adulthood and he changes the world one person at a time.
Mark Stevens is the unlikely defender of the working class and down trodden. Coming from the upper class he looks down upon them. Turning his back on his own family his deeds go far to aid those in need; trying desperately to find peace within.

Is it too late to salvage what little time is left to make amends?

Sorrowed Souls:  http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/SorrowedSouls.html


Author Bio:

Brenda was the youngest child in a very large family and never felt like she really fit in. To make matters worse, her parents were divorced in the 60’s, before divorce was the ‘in’ thing. She found herself disappearing into her own world where she observed others. That was not a great place for a child to be, but turned out to be rather advantageous for an author. She didn’t really find her own voice until her writing was published.
Brenda has always had the ability to empathize, constantly harboring strays, even when it meant less for her. Writing comes naturally to her and she has been writing since high school, keeping journals since college. When her first novel came out, Private Scars, she tackled the very difficult subject of domestic abuse from the victim’s point of view. From that moment forward she has written what she calls "Fiction With a Purpose". Her novels deal with social issues that she feels need attention.
Brenda tries to bring the reader along for the ride from the character's point of view and if at the end of the book, a reader puts it down and asks, "Was that real?" She did a good job! Brenda believes that ONE person can make a difference and that all things happen for a reason. We are all on this planet for a purpose and that she has finally found out what her purpose is.
Brenda Youngerman writes fiction with a purpose and hopes that the tales that she weaves entertain as well as give people hope. Brenda lives in southern California and she loves to walk on the beach with her dog and watch the pelicans!

Brenda's Goodreads Profile:  http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1813183.Brenda_Youngerman

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Book Spotlight: Theta Head

The Spotlight Is On:



Theta Head by Greg Dawe

Stark naked consciousness is exposed like a raw nerve as Georgias search for her missing boyfriend, Ben, takes her from London through Asia.

On route she discovers that Ben has been using a neuroscience technology one that offers the potential of complete liberation to anyone who uses it.  It is a technology Georgia must embrace if she is to find Ben, but one that is such an intimate catalyst for change Georgia isnt sure she can handle the side of herself it uncovers. 

It is only her desire to find Ben which drives her on; a force which leads her to the Theta Heads and a choice: continue using the technology to hack away at her layers of mental static and find the real reason he disappeared, or let go and face a future without him.

Theta Head technology doesnt need a mind of its own, it can have ours.

Publisher: http://www.cnpublishing.co.uk/


Author Bio:
Greg Dawe was born in London, and has been writing since he was 12. Just as the web was emerging in ’93 his interest in new technologies led him to study the UK’s first multimedia degree.
He then worked in London for as long as he could before buying a one-way ticket to South East Asia, where the laidback lifestyle gave him the peace, space and time to write more persistently.
Drifting in and out of teaching English to sustain this writing habit, always more at home in a foreign country, Greg is still wandering in Asia, slowly learning that wherever he goes, there he is.


Saturday, September 25, 2010

A review and recap of Supernatural: "Exile on Main St."

Now as some of you may know I am a huge fan of the show "Supernatural", so I have lived in high anticipation for the premiere episode of season six, Exile on Main St.. 

Here is my review; some spoilers follow:

It was a very low-key episode, with more emotion than action.  The opening sequences were fabulous, showing us Dean's new life with Lisa and Ben, cleverly juxtaposed with flashback clips of the old one with Sam.  It was fun to see the alternating clips, using salt as ward against demons vs. salt used for breakfast seasoning, Dean using a power saw for its intended use instead of for killing vampires, etc.   It was odd, to say the least, to see Dean in a quaint domestic setting, complete with a job, a truck and a neighbourhood barbecue, but there was a touch of the old Dean still evident if the shotgun and holy water under the bed were any indication.

So we join Dean in suburbia, having a beer with his new friend Sid, and apparently in a state of domestic bliss because he didn't hit on the waitress.  As Dean leaves the bar he hears a scream, gets his gun and investigates.  He finds blood and some strange claw marks, but nothing else.  Later he sees more of these claw marks and he is spooked enough to go prowling around the neighbourhood with his gun.  The only thing he finds is the neighbour's dog; a Yorkshire terrier, a cute nod to the episode, Yellow Fever.  After a hasty excuse to Sid regarding his behaviour, about rabid possums no less, Dean heads home.  There things get really screwy with the Yellow-Eyed Demon and Sam showing up.
At this point I'm thinking maybe there was a sale on resurrection and get-out-of-Hell-free cards, but no, it turns out Dean was just poisoned by the djinn -those nasties from the episode, What Is and What Should Never Be- and hallucinating.  The brother's reunion was quiet, emotional, with just a touch of anger when Dean finds out Sam has been back for a year.  And Sam is not the only one who is back, Grandpa Samuel has also returned from the dead.  Both claim they don't know who or what brought them back, but they have been searching.  Along the way they have picked up more of the Campbell family cousins, who are slightly creepy. 
Dean's worried that the djinn might be after Lisa and Ben, so everyone heads to his house, where his domestic life, complete with golf clubs, gets sneered at and Lisa and Ben appear safe and sound.  Dean takes them to the safest place he knows, Bobby's, where, surprise, he finds that Bobby knew Sam was alive.  The old Dean resurfaces here, lashing out in anger at them both.  I found it interesting that Dean seemed angrier with Bobby than with Sam for lying; it was if he almost expected it from Sam, but was hurt that Bobby lied.
Of course all this leads to a showdown with the djinn (and finally a bit of trademark Dean attitude when he comes up with the plan to trap them).  Their trap turns bad, the neighbours get killed and Dean gets poisoned again.  He has one heck of a hallucination about the Yellow-Eyed Demon, Lisa and Ben, confirming that most of Dean's issues stem from childhood trauma.  The Campbells and Sam save Dean, but not before the rather sinister Campbells, including Grandpa, take a djinn prisoner; they are definitely up to something.
The episode ends with Dean deciding to stay with Lisa and Ben and Sam leaving.
  
I liked the episode on the whole, although I did miss the attitude from Dean; a quiet, normal Dean seems wrong somehow.  They have set up the season with some nice teaser plotlines and I'm looking forward to seeing the new relationship between the brothers.  The most intriguing thing is that Dean and Sam have almost switched roles from where they started; Dean's become the cautious, caring person who wants a normal life and Sam has stepped into the role of the dedicated, hard-nosed hunter.  It should be an interesting season.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Expendables

I went out to the movies last night for a break and to finally see The Expendables.

Being an avid fan of action movies I'm probably a bit inclined to like this movie simply for the cast, which if you haven't heard is a list of who's who of action stars past and present.  However, the movie was actually fun, if not very original in the plot department.

The plot is a standard generic story, an old save the girl tale, and just an excuse to get the actors from fight scene to fight scene and explosion to explosion, but it makes sense and has a couple of nice softer moments.  The dialogue is entertaining and fast paced and the repartee between Jason Statham and Sylvester Stallone is first rate;  I'd love to them together in another movie.  I did think Jet Li was a bit under used and I would have like to have seen more of his character, but Mickey Rourke had a small but memorable role.

But the best thing about the movie is, of course, the action.  There were some fabulous fight scenes, especially the end sequences where there are multiple fights happening simultaneously.  It also rates high on the destruction scale with a series of magnificent explosions; they demolish just about everything.

It's not strong on plot, but it is a kick to watch.  I'd give it a 3 out of 5.


The Expendables on IMDb:  http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1320253/

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Recap/review of select shows from Monday Sept. 20th

A few quick recap reviews of the highlights from Monday night's TV schedule:

A few episode spoilers are included, so beware.
  • Castle:  The show started with conflict between Beckett and Castle, mainly due to Castle failing to call Beckett after the summer break.  Of course her arresting him for murder didn't help matters.  Castle is proved innocent and worms his way back into the investigation, which involves several bodies, counterfeiters and some gun play.  By the end the criminals were caught and Beckett and Castle were partners again.  It was a nice opening episode and great fun.
  • Chuck:  Things are definitely in place for a great season, with Chuck on the hunt for his mysterious Mom, and he finally has a serious romance with Sarah.  In the first episode, his search for his mother crosses paths with Sarah and Casey, pulling Chuck back into the spy game, the Buy More is now a CIA/NSA Headquarters and Ellie is expecting.  It was a fun episode, full of cool guest stars including Linda Hamilton as Chuck's Mom, Harry Dean Stanton as a Repo Man and Dolph Lundgren as a Russian named Marco.  I can't wait for more.
  • The Event:  The show is better than I expected, and it did have some intriguing plot teasers in the premiere episode.  Who is kidnapping people, trying to crash planes into the president and that mysterious prisoner?  Who or what made the plane disappear?  And just what was "the event"?  It was well-written and well acted and I will stick around to watch, at least for now. 
  • Hawaii Five-O:  A nice updating of the iconic '70's show, with a great cast.  It should prove to be a nice cop show based on the first episode, which had a good pace and a reasonably interesting plotline.  And I did like the tip of the hat they did with the opening sequence.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

My favourite episodes from "Supernatural"

The Season Six premiere of the show Supernatural happens this Friday Sept. 24th, entering into a new era, Post-Apocalypse if you will.   This is a short retrospective of my favourite highlights of the past five seasons:

Some of my Favourite Episodes:

-Caution these blurbs contain some spoilers-

Season One-
Phantom Traveller:  Having a demon that tried to crash airliners was an interesting twist to the plot that played on fears of air travel.
Home:  The first thread in unravelling the Winchester family plot line.
Asylum:  Looking back the fight scene in this episode could be prelude to the final showdown in season five.
Scarecrow:  The first of several episode where they go head to head with pagan gods.  It was also the introduction of Meg.
Faith:  The first time we see the Reapers.
Hell House:  The introduction of Harry Spangler and Ed Zeddmore.

Season Two-
In My Time of Dying:  Sets up the entire Season Two in motion and subplots that lead into other seasons.
No Exit:  What happens when serial killers don't die.
The Usual Suspects:  With a clever guest star in Linda Blair and a great ghost story, it makes for a cool episode.
Crossroad Blues:  We learn about crossroad demons and deals for souls.
Tall Tales:  The introduction of the Trickster storyline.
Roadkill:  A bittersweet ghost storyline, with  a nice twist.
Heart:  Sam finally gets the girl, too bad she's not what she seems.
Hollywood Babylon:  Dean goes Hollywood as they hunt down the strange hauntings on a horror movie set.
What Is and What Should Never Be: Dean finds out what life would have been if his mother had lived.

Season Three-
The Kids Are Alright:  We learn a little more about Ruby and Dean reconnects with a girl from his past, who's living in a paranormal hot-zone.
Bad Day At Black Rock:  The introduction of Bela and some amusing scenes when the boys find their luck coming and going.
A Very Supernatural Christmas:  What is Christmas without death and pagan gods?  And you have to love what they did with the Christmas tree.
Mystery Spot:  Someone wants to kill Dean, repeatedly, as Sam lives the same day over again.
Ghostfacers:  A great episode satire of Ghost Hunting shows and the return of Harry Spangler and Ed Zeddmore.
No Rest For The Wicked:  Dean goes to Hell!

Season Four-
Lazarus Rising:  Castiel the Angel brings Dean back from Hell, with a dire warning of a coming Apocalypse.
In The Beginning:  Dean goes back in time and discovers a family secret.
Monster Movie:  A fun episode, shot like an old horror movie.
Yellow Fever:  Dean gets a fatal case of fear and paranoia.
It's A Terrible Life:  What if Sam and Dean weren't Hunters, or even brothers?  And just what is haunting their workplace in this strange alternate reality?
The Monster at the End of This Book:  The introduction of the "Supernatural" books and Chuck.
Lucifer Rising:  The Apocalypse -and Lucifer- cometh.

Season Five-
Sympathy for the Devil:  What happens after you unleash Lucifer upon the world.
The End:  An unsettling look at the future, where Lucifer is winning.
Fallen Idols:  Famous icons, including Paris Hilton, are killing.
Changing Channels:  An amusing parody of TV shows and we learn the truth about the Trickster.
The Real Ghostbusters:  Sam and Dean go to a "Supernatural" convention, complete with real ghosts.
Dark Side of the Moon:  Sam and Dean die, again, and go to Heaven.
Point of No Return:  Dean takes out Zachariah.  That scene alone is worth watching this episode.
Swan Song:  The Apocalypse showdown between Sam/Lucifer and Dean.

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