Thursday, January 19, 2017

Z for Zachariah

Two men.  One woman.  What could go wrong?
Feeling a little too upbeat about politics, social issues, the War on Terror or life in general?  Have I got a movie for you!

Z for Zachariah starring Margot Robbie, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Chris Pine.  Oh, and there’s a dog, but she’s just a dog, and doesn’t really do much.  Z for Zachariah is an adaptation of the posthumously-published Robert O’Brien novel who also wrote Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH—that should give you an idea of the series of down-beats and minor chords you’re about to witness.

Set in a post-apocalyptic world that has suffered some untold suffusion of radiation, the film focusses on remote and beautiful valley region that has somehow escaped the fallout.  Ann (Robbie) is a young girl who has managed to survive the disaster the de-peopled a nearby town, and is now living all alone on her father’s farm/church miles away.  Her one companion is a dog, who accompanies her on hunting trips around the valley.  When she stumbles on John Loomis, and engineer excellently embodied with all the grim gravitas that Ejiofor is capable, she suddenly finds a potential companion—if only he can survive bathing in water brimming with radiation.

It’s not a spoiler to say that John does survive, and is nursed to health by Ann, through both her survivor’s moxy and her faith.  As John grows in strength, the two get to know each other on deeper and sometimes conflicting levels.  It’s clear that John doesn’t have the same faith, if any at all, that Ann finds strength through.  The issues are complicated further (again, not really spoiler) when Caleb (Pine) all hunky roughness and blue-eyes, shows up to complicate matters.

Could my eyes BE and bluer?
This is all excellent post-apoc drama, as meaningful glances, steely stares, and stony silences follow revelations from all of the characters.  Robbie, Ejiofor and Pine are amazing, fully embodying believable characters who inhabit a world that feels large, abandoned, beautiful and deadly.  The shifts from light-hearted to anxious moments don’t beat the audience over the head, and the dialogue remains realistic (or realistic enough) throughout.


I haven’t read the book, so I can’t offer a comparison, or tell fans how true it is to the original.  Also, I'm unclear on who the title is referencing.  From having read Mrs. Frisby though, I have a strong feeling that Z for Zachariah does capture the spirit, if not the word, of O’Brien’s novel.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Not Dead Yet!

I always thought lightening was involved.
Deciding that post-op recovery wasn’t nearly challenging enough, I opted to pick up whatever strain of the flu I wasn’t immunized for.

It’s been a real treat.

I’ve successfully coughed up both lungs and started in on some other major organs, but only a small portion at a time—ya know, for the lolz.

On that cheery note, an old friend of mine, the same who gave me the infamous bookmark, is visiting with his family this week.  I managed, through a cocktail of various over-the-counter cold and flu “remedies” to be human for most of that time.  It was a double treat, as a mutual friend of ours who is also near-and-dear to me (and local) also managed to stop over for a couple of hours.

The homestead was rife with the screams, shrilled, manic cries and more screams of at least ten children.  I can’t be certain, but at least four of them appeared to have manufactured a transmogrifier and generated duplicates to increase the noise level.

The best part (aside from catching up with my friends) was that the oldest daughter is something of a writer.  I read some of her work, and was reasonably impressed, and we sat and discussed writing as a career (hahaha) and some of the basic components of writing.


If there’s anything writers like to do more than writing (or drink heavily), it’s talk about writing!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

That's All Folks!

Sums it up nicely.
Well, hell.

You do not want to ask to borrow my phone.  Tuesday, while standing in the bathroom, I pulled my phone out of my pocket to check a message, lost control of my ability to hold things, and promptly dropped it into the toilet bowl.

SPLASH!

It was a clean bowl, so I had that going for me.  My thought process, moving at less than a snail’s pace, went like this:

Damn.

Don’t go in, it’s gone.

Just let it go.

That's a toilet!

I have to go in, it won’t flush down.

Arrrghhh, I’m going in!

Lil is going to kill me for ruining this phone!


The phone is sitting in a Ziplock back filled with rice.  I think I may have saved it, and yet, there’s a very large part of me that wishes I hadn’t.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Westerns and Urban Fantasy

I'm not sure what McCandless is up to either!
We watched two seemingly incongruent movies this past weekend: El Dorado with John Wayne and *batteries not included.  When I say “we” I really mean “me”—the boys went in and out during *batteries not included somewhat interested, but not enough to make the entire movie, and El Dorado with all its shooting and bright-red blood isn’t a movie I’m willing to let the boys see just yet.

These rolled around in my head for sometime, itching and scratching and fighting with each other for some reason.  This morning, it occurred to me why: they’re essentially the same plot.

Yeah, I know—alien flying saucers who fix things vs. a John Wayne western don’t really seem to have much in common.

Except they do.

Well, pilgrim, what do you have to say for yourself?
Both feature a very similar antagonist.  In El Dorado Bart Jason (two first names = evil) is trying to muscle in on the McDonald’s (no, seriously) water rights so he can grow his cattle empire.  *batteries features Lacey, a New York developer who is trying to muscle in on the Riley’s cafĂ©/apartment building so that he can grow his real estate empire.  Both men have hired guns Nelson McLeod and Carlos (respectively) who bring in their respective gangs and act to bring things to a quick and violent end, and both have “strangers” who come to town and stand in opposition to Big Bads in the form of Cole Thornton (Wayne) and the “Fix-Its” (the flying saucers).

Even more parallels can be drawn between the two, as crews of colorful, funny, and sometimes broken characters work together or against each other for their various purposes.

The parallels aren’t perfect, and I was far more engaged in El Dorado than I was by *batteries not included.  That’s as much to do with the witty, cleverness of Leigh Brackett’s dialogue as it is my penchant for John Wayne films.  Still, saving the locals from the powerful and power-hungry cattle-baron/real estate developer translates fairly well.  This also suggests that when writing your own stories, you can easily draw from and adapt elements familiar to other genres.  Done well, it can be a compelling translation.


The movies are available on Netflix, so if you get the chance, give them a watch.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Penguins and Podcasts

What could possibly go wrong?
I’m really missing running.  Due to the surgery and whatnot, I haven’t been able to run for almost five weeks now.  It’s looking like January will be a complete bust as well.  Walking might be a thing, but right now I’m still having trouble walking any distance, and I do that looking more like an incompetent penguin that natural is about to select again.

Most of all, I’m missing listening to the stories from Beneath Ceaseless Skies audio story podcasts.  Love those things.  Free, inventive, creative and inspiring.  I’ve never really like listening to someone read a story to me—I generally need to see the words to get full comprehension.


However, running engages my brain just the right way so that listening isn’t a burden, it’s a pleasure.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Trump-naugaration

The best inauguration!
The problem with boycotting Trump is that you can’t boycott him.  Oh, sure, you can actively refuse to watch the inauguration, which some folk are calling for.  Or, you can passively miss it as most Americans probably will.

Trump doesn’t care.

Without peering into a crystal ball or laying down cards, I can tell you right now Trump will declare victory where none exists.  He did it during the campaign.  He did it during the debates.  He did it after the election.

Missing his inauguration won’t change a thing.

Any time Trump has been taken to the mat on something, he’s simply doubled-down, explained how he was a winner and his critics were losers, and that he’d won.

Unlike any previously elected president from whatever party, we can’t trust anything Trump tells us.


That’s the reality for the next four years.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Down but Not Out

Somethings seems . . . wrong, and yet so right!
As Sam said to Bill the Pony, “Well, I’m back.”

At least that’s how I remember the story going.  Painkillers are a wonderful thing.  Don’t let anyone tell you differently—unless, of course, it’s your doctor and then she’s probably right.

2017 is off to a stunning start.  I signed a new contract with Zumaya Publications.  Updates about new covers for Tears of Heaven and Hell Becomes Her will follow.  Submissions of short stories have also occurred, so as news comes up about those will also follow.

Sitting for long periods (except in my easy chair) is still a bit tricky, so longer updates won’t be a thing for a week or two yet.


Goodbye 2016.  You were a hard, hard year.