Thursday, April 17, 2014

Retro A to Z Challenge: O - Ocean’s Twelve 2004 (Plus audiomachine and Jim Henson’s Creature Shop Challenge)

Ocean’s Twelve – 2004

Usually sequels fall short – but not this time! Ocean and the gang returned with one more member as they attempt their biggest heist ever. All the cast members shine and it’s just as funny as the original. At one point, Julia Roberts’ character has to pretend she’s… Julia Roberts! Priceless.

2004 fun facts –
*Cost of gas - $2.10
*The social site Facebook launched
*SpaceShipOne was the first privately funded spaceship to achieve spaceflight
*The Taipei 101 opened, and at 1676 feet/508 meters, it was the tallest skyscraper in the world
*The infamous ‘Wardrobe Malfunction’ happened during the Super Bowl halftime show
*Tennis player Roger Federer won the Australian Open, Wimbledon, and the US Open

Movies released –
Shrek II
The Incredibles
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
The Passion of the Christ
Spider-Man 2
Shaun of the Dead

Music released –
Chevelle – This Kind of Thinking Could Do Us In
Green Day – American Idiot
In Flames – Soundtrack to Your Escape

Games released –
Half-Life II
World of Warcraft
Need for Speed: Underground II

And why is 2004 special?
It’s the year Diane Wolfe went on a cruise and enjoyed fresh beginnings, and Rachel Schieffelbein got married and had her first child!

Diane is the author of many books and a professional speaker. An admin at the IWSG website, she’s an expert in publishing and promoting, and offers tips at her blog. She’s also a photographer and a cat lover. She’s nicknamed Spunky for a reason! Diane blogs at Spunk on a Stick’s Tips

Rachel is an author and the mother of four kids. She also coaches speech for teens, so you know she has patience! She’s a sweetie, supportive, and very involved in the blogging community. Rachel blogs at Writing on the Wall

Ninja News

From the genius writer with connections, Samantha Redstreake Geary, comes an epic opportunity for writers - PHENOMENA’s EPIC HEROES CONTEST!

Create an original SUPERHERO Story and/or Artwork inspired by PHENOMENA's track, "Fortress of Solitude“ in audiomachine's "EPIC HEROES CONTEST" for a chance to be PUBLISHED in the upcoming PHENOMENA album's companion eBOOK! Open Internationally April 15th -- May 15th. Go HERE for details.

And I am honored to announce that I will be a contributing author to this first ever audiomachine eBook!

Jim Henson’s Creature Shop Challenge

Similar to Face Off, except they are making creature costumes similar to those seen in The Dark Crystal and Farscape.
Ten creators compete, designing creatures based on the weekly challenge. It involves fabric, sculpting, and mechanization, and they are judged on concept as well as design and execution. Creations are judged on a real set design.
Brian Henson heads up the project and is the top judge. Note that it’s also hosted by actress Gigi Edgley, who played Chiana on Farscape.
Fascinating and creative stuff!

Fan of the Ocean movies? Following Diane and Terri? Think you could write a superhero story for audiomachine? Watched Jim Henson's Creature Shop Challenge yet? And what do you remember about 2004...?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Retro A to Z Challenge: N – Nightwish 2011 (and Ninja Secrets...)

Nightwish – Imaginarium – 2011

This is a symphonic metal band turned prog rock. A cool concept album, it tells a very strange tale and even has an accompanying film. Standout tracks are Storytime and I Want My Tears Back. Nightwish is huge in Europe and their videos are some of the most watched on YouTube.

2011 fun facts –
*The Discovery docked with the International Space Station for the last time on February 26 before retiring
*The first synthetic organ transplant was performed
*The Dallas Mavericks won their first NBA Championship Title
*The Insecure Writer’s Support Group had its first group posting in September

Movies released –
X-Men First Class
Super 8
Captain America
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows II
Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

Music released –
Dream Theater – A Dramatic Turn of Events
Stream of Passion – Darker Days
Serenity – Death and Legacy

Games released –
Batman: Arkham City

And why is 2011 special?
It’s the year Samantha May was the lead in the school musical, graduated from high school, started her blog, went to college, and turned eighteen!

Samantha is a beautiful young lady currently living in Tennessee. She’s a psychology major who loves to write, and her blog chronicles her journey through college. Samantha is a breath of fresh air and her smile comes through in every comment. Samantha blogs at Writing Through College.

Ninja Secrets and Surprises

Since I often here there’s not much about ME on this blog, I thought I’d give you some interesting tidbits to chew on. Some just might surprise you…

I resisted a cell phone for years. I finally own an iPhone now. (I still will never text though.)

This might be shocking since I am a science fiction writer, but I don’t enjoy reading Isaac Asimov. I find him very dry and boring.

Another surprise – although I write about space, I have no desire to go there. (I saw Gravity – air is very important to me.)

New followers will be surprised to know I never wanted to be an author and wasn’t even online when I signed the deal for my first book.

However, the rock star dream is still a go! So the fact I play guitar in a Christian band is just awesome.

Yes, I am a born-again Christian. I don’t follow a religion or a church, I follow the Word of God, the Bible. My relationship with my Lord and Savior is my peace.

10:00 is my bedtime. Yeah, sucks to get old…

I’ve lived in or visited almost a dozen foreign countries. (Rhonda, stop laughing – I know that doesn’t impress you!)

People seemed surprised when I posted about reality show Face Off yesterday. Yes, I do watch some! I’ll post about another one tomorrow…

Finally, I’m still humbled and thankful for those who’ve read my books, especially those of you who have no interest in science fiction. So a special thanks to Fundy Blue who posted the most wonderful review of CassaStar yesterday, saying how much she enjoyed the character-driven story. Which is good, because that’s all I know how to write!

Any other questions? There won’t be a test, will there?

Fan of Nightwish? Following Samantha? Did I surprise you with any of that? And what do you remember best about 2011…?

I’m also at the Insecure Writer’s Support Group website today!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Retro A to Z Challenge: M – Megadeth 1985 (and SyFy's Face Off)

Megadeth – Killing Is My Business... and Business Is Good! – 1985

This was the first Megadeth album and featured the title song and Rattlehead Rock. The band was founded by Dave Mustaine after he was thrown out of Metallica. While not my favorite, it ushered in a new era in thrash metal. The band continues to produce albums, and Mustaine has since cleaned up his act. (He's a husband, father, and born-again Christian.)

1985 fun facts –
*Cost of new home - $89,330 / UK - $40,169 pounds
*Cost of gas - $1.09
*First class stamp - .22 cents
*The first version of Windows 1.0 was released
*Compact Discs made their first appearance
*The wreck of the Titanic was located

Movies released – 
Fright Night
Young Sherlock Holmes
Day of the Dead
Better Off Dead
Real Genius

Music released –
Dokken – Under Lock and Key
Dio – Sacred Heart
Rush – Power Windows

Game released –
Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego

And why is 1985 special?
It’s the year Bish Denham met her husband and they were married that same year in September.

Bish is an author and a storyteller. She grew up in the Virgin Islands and often features moments and images from that time. Bish is also the master of synonyms and overused words. She’s a sweetheart, devoted friend, and doesn’t look old enough to have grandchildren. She also has a great sense of humor! Bish blogs at Random Thoughts.

Ninja News!

Carrie Butler is celebrating her third blog anniversary with a very special blogfest project:
I want to compile a free e-book for writers who are just starting on their road to publication, using advice from the most brilliant, up-and-coming voices in the industry: you guys!
See her site for details.

Available now!
Destruction by Sharon Bayliss
Buy it on Amazon

Face Off

Not your ordinary reality show – Face Off is a special effects make-up artist competition.
It’s fun to watch the contestants design and build their creations using silicone and whatever they find in the studio. Each week they are given a prompt and must design an ‘outfit’ to be worn by a model. The focus is on concept as much as execution. It’s an excellent show for creative types.
Catch it on the SyFy Channel.

Fan of Megadeth? (And can you believe they’ve been around that long?) Following the talented Bish? Can you contribute to Carrie’s book? Have you watched Face Off? And what do you remember about 1985…?

Monday, April 14, 2014

Retro A to Z Challenge: L – Lord of the Rings 2001

Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring – 2001

The three-movie saga launched with Fellowship, and the world fell in love with epic fantasy again. Director Jackson brought the story to life, creating a trilogy that was even better than the books. Nominated for ten, it won three Oscars and paved the way for the two remaining installments.

2001 fun facts –
*Cost of new house - $136,150.
*Cost of a gallon of gas - $1.46
*The Leaning Tower of Pisa reopened after eleven years of repairs
*Wikipedia went live
*Apple released the iPod
*The MIR is decommissioned and re-enters the atmosphere, landing in the Pacific
*Microsoft released the Xbox

Movies released – 
The Fast and the Furious
Ocean’s Eleven
Donnie Darko
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
The Others

Music released –
Static X – Machine
Tenacious D

Games released –
Baldur’s Gate II: Throne of Bhaal
Serious Sam: The First Encounter

And why is 2001 special?
It’s the year David Walston got married, on August 11. (Because all his friends had run off married and he was lonely.) It was also when Carrie-Anne was in her senior year of university and having a great time on the social scene.

David is a certified geek and Dr. Who fanatic. Married with one son, he hails from Texas. Or perhaps outer space? Either way, if you are missing your Tardis, David probably has it. He’s a funny guy and an awesome friend. Find David at Blah Blah Blah Yackity Smackity.

Carrie-Anne is a writer and focuses on epic historical fiction. She is well-versed in Russian history, font styles, and historical names. She claims she was born in the wrong decade and enjoys classic rock, books, and films. She’s one sharp young lady and you’ll learn a lot from her! Carrie-Anne blogs at Welcome to My Magick Theatre

Last Days on Mars Movie Review

It’s the end of the first mission to Mars, and the crew’s discovery of bacteria leads to infected, zombie-like people and many deaths.
This is your typical people-stranded-on-a-planet story and an average science fiction film at best. It’s not terrible, but might not be worth ninety-plus minutes of your life.
Live Schreiber is the star and does a good job with what little he’s given. The special effects are also quite good.
Available on NetFlix if you’re bored…

A to Z Challenge Insanity

How is everyone holding up? I know a lot who aren’t participating this month have gone into hiding or are working on the next book. (Good idea.) But for the rest of us – are you having fun?

I apologize again if I don’t get to all of my blogger buddies on a given day. I’m trying to return comments from new people and visit new followers, plus visit my section of the list. But I appreciate all you who stop by here and hope you are still enjoying the retro theme. The Ninja is trying to keep up!

Big fan of LOTR? (Ever spent a Saturday watching all three extended editions?) Following David and Carrie-Anne? See Last Days on Mars? Having a good time with the Challenge? And what do you remember about 2001…?

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Retro A to Z Challenge: K – Kvelertak 2013 (and Rio 2 Movie Review)

Kvelertak – Meir – 2013

While not quite as good as the first album, Meir still delivers. It’s a crazy mash up of punk, metal, prog rock, death metal, and anything else they could throw in the blender. If you’re a fan of screaming metal, check out this unique band from Norway.

2013 fun facts –
*Cost of a gallon of gas - $3.80
*Cost of a movie ticket - $10.25
*A giant meteor exploded near Chelyabinsk in Russia
*Microsoft released the Xbox One and Sony released the Playstation 4
*House of Cards became the first web series to win an Emmy
*The 3D Printer hits the scene and the first 3D-printed gun was fired last May

Movies released –
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Star Trek: Into Darkness
Thor: The Dark World
Pacific Rim

Music released –
Amon Amarth – Deceiver of the Gods
Ayreon – The Theory of Everything

Games released –
StarCraft II – Heart of the Swarm

And why is 2013 special?
It’s the year Madeline Mora-Summonte released her flash fiction collection and Terri Rochenski released her first novel!

Madeline is an author with a fondness for sand and beaches. She’s the proud owner of two tortoises, Larry and Mrs. Larry, and you can sometimes catch their antics on her blog. Madeline is introspective and will make you think. (But she’s nice, so not too hard.) Find her at The Shellshank Redemption.

Terri is the author of several books and a mother to two girls. Rejection nearly derailed her twice, but she didn’t give up on her author dreams. A sweet and generous woman, she also hosts authors on tour. Terri blogs at Scribbler’s Sojourn.

Ninja News

My dear friend Yvonne Lewis just released her third book – Moments of My Life.
I was honored to supply a blurb for her book and look forward to getting my copy soon. (Who says poets and Ninjas can’t mix?)
You can buy it on Amazon HERE.
Congratulations, Yvonne!!

Movie Review – Rio 2

Let me begin by stating up front that I thought the first movie was ‘all right’ but nothing I ever wanted to see again.
However, I’d gladly sit through it if that meant I didn’t have to see Rio 2 ever again.

The second film picks up shortly after the first one ends. Blu and family travel to the Amazon to help Linda and Tulio find more blue macaws. The movie tosses in illegal logging, revenge, finding lost family, trying to fit in, and several other generic and clichéd plot ideas. (And Nigel the vengeful cockatoo with a lovesick tree frog made for a really weird pairing.)
While the movie is amazing to look at in 3D, the story is a bit flat, lacking in the first one’s charm and humor, and it’s overlong. There are also a lot of songs in this one. (I think one was called This is the Way We Pad the Film.)
Will kids like it? Probably. Will adults like it? Eh, good luck!

Have you ever heard of Kvelertak? Caught up on last year’s movies? Following Madeline and Terri? Enjoy Yvonne’s poetry? Keeping up with the Challenge? And anyone else get drug to a stupid bird movie this weekend…?