This is what happens without editors

I'm Marcus Pelegrimas, author of the SKINNERS series. Here you'll find various ramblings about movies, video games, TV, and...oh yeah...those books I write. If there's anything you'd like to discuss, just let me know. I try to update whenever the mood strikes me, so feel free to leave comments. There may be some occasional foul language, but anyone who's too easily offended probably doesn't read my stuff anyway.

Free Stuff

Here's how it goes. As usual, I've got my truckload of promo covers from EOS Books. I'll be going to some conventions, so I hope to see you there and I'll gladly sign your books. If you can't make it to a con, just email me your name, address and any inscription so I can send you a signed cover.


BONUS ---> If you would be so kind as to write up a review for any or all Skinners books and publish it on a site like Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Borders, or any other major review site, I can send you something extra. I made up some bookmarks (which I'll sign) and I've even put together some Shimmy's VIP passes (which I'll also sign). Can't guarantee the passes will get you into a real strip club, but I think they look pretty cool. Send me a link to your review along with your name, address and inscription, and I'll get these out to you as well.



Saturday, February 28, 2009

I can still hear the Grunge



My gaming geekery goes back a LONG way. All the way back to some system back in the '70's (pre Atari 2600) that was a triangle with a steering wheel on one side, a set of pong paddles on another and a plastic gun for a pixelated cowboy quick-draw game on the third. The cartridges fit into the top and they were triangles too. If anyone reading this knows what I'm talking about, let me know. I don't remember the brand name, but I remember I played the hell out of it. I loved my 2600. I loved my NES even more, but I loved my Sega Genesis most of all. There was just something about those Sega games that still make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.


After my Genesis finally crapped out (and after I stopped crying) I purchased a Sonic compilation for the PS2, which was pretty cool. Mostly, I got it for Sonic Spinball. I don't care how much grief that game gets, I love it! When I stopped playing my PS2 so much, I got that one on the Wii Virtual Console. Oh, Happy DAY!! I was even happier when the Streets of Rage games came out on the VC. I didn't get any of this stuff on the XBox Live Arcade, although I was tempted. I did, however, pick up the new Sega Genesis compilation for the 360. Let me tell you, it is GLORIOUS.



It's got all the Sonics (well, the better ones anyway), all three Streets of Rage, Golden Axe, Altered Beast, the list goes on and on. They also polished the graphics just enough so they stand up to HD TVs. They still look 16 bit, but not painfully so. You can save your game at any time and I've got to admit. . .getting an Achievement for Spinball made my day. Now, to complete the walk down Amnesia Lane, I'll throw on some Nirvana, watch a few episodes of Renegade (Yeah...the TV show with Lorenzo Lamas as "an outlaw chasing outlaws") and top it off with a few of the X-Men cartoons where they really got the mutants right. Viva la 90's!!!!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Awwww...thanks?


Every now and then, a friend or a few choice relatives send me an email that's supposed to be touching. And I'm 98% sure it's really them sending it, because it's something they would send and there's often a little note on there from them. Also, my computer hasn't crashed after opening these, so my Spam filter seems to be working.


Anyway, it's usually some touching story about folks being nice to soldiers or kids doing something adorable that "reaffirms your faith in the goodness of all things" and blah blah blah. More often than not, there are pictures involved that fall squarely into the cute / awe-inspiring / patriotic category. While I'm not opposed to any of this stuff, the emails usually end up with a message along the lines of, "Now PASS THIS ALONG to ALL of your friends or your eyeballs will fill with pus and your pets will fall off a ledge!!"


DAMN! I was with you for all the other stuff and then you feel the need to threaten me to forward a freaking email. I mean, seriously? You're gonna pull the guilt / intimidation card for that?? And folks wonder why we're becoming more and more callous. Even pics of kittens and Old Glory come along with "PS - spread the joy OR YOU'LL SUFFER!!!!"


Can I just look at my celebrity upskirts in peace?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Mini-spree

My tax returns came in today, so the wife and I hit Best Buy pretty hard. I meant to just go out and pick up the new Futurama DVD and wound up picking up a bunch of stuff that was nice and cheap. I spotted a few sets including anywhere from 20 to 50 movies with intriguing labels like "Exploitation Festival Pack" or "Drive-In Madness vol. 1-3". Lots of good, crappy movies to be found on those and many of them are Mystery Science Theater fodder without the quips. One other notable set that was an insta-buy was the first season of Confessions of a Call Girl, a series on Showtime where the lead role is played by Billie Piper, the extraordinarily hot and deliciously British actress who plays Rose on the new Doctor Who. The icing on the cake is that my wife was the one who found the DVD set. Seeing her hand that to me was great on so many levels.

I did get the Futurama DVD, which also reminded me that I need to pick up the previous one. Also, I picked up the new Mummy movie, something about a Dragon Emperor. I'm a fan of Jet Li in pretty much anything. I'd like to give the second Scorpion King movie a shot since it's probably really cheap also. Babylon AD was marked way down, so I got it. I know, I know. Vin Diesel, what was I thinking? It looks like a cool, cheesy action flick and it should be pretty obvious how much I like that sort of nonsense. You might be asking yourself why I don't rent this stuff. Well, I often don't know when the movie-watchin' urge will strike and it's nice to have them all there when it's well past 1 or 2 in the AM and I feel like turning my brain off. Also, Blockbuster doesn't like it when I schlep in there wearing my pajama pants and a coffee-stained flannel robe. We've got pay-per-view channels, but it never fails that I want to watch something the moment it's no longer available on there. Also, since I've been neglecting my more expensive vices, I figure I'm still coming out ahead this way.

There were a few other movies I picked up on sale, but I also got the new Puzzle Quest: Galactrix game for the DS. If you've never played the first Puzzle Quest, you're missing out. It's a combination of Bejeweled and a fantasy rpg which actually works VERY well. The new one is a combo of Hexic and a sci-fi rpg which has already sunk its hooks into me. That should hold me over until later in March when Madworld and Resident Evil 5 come out.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Thank you...my pencil

It's been years since I've cared enough about the awards Hollywood people give to themselves to watch the Oscars. Usually, it boils down to a few movies I've never seen that get rammed down your throat until you feel like you've seen them a thousand times already. Sure, lots of these movies are probably really good. It's just that even a fine, perfectly cooked steak starts tasting bad when you've had the whole country go on about it forEVER!!!! Then again, there are occasionally moments like this one that pan away from the pretty people posing on the red carpets wearing their sponsor's jewelry and show someone I can actually relate to...




In case this link gets busted, it's Kunio Kato's speech where he thanks his staff, his pencil and his company before ending with "Domo Arigato, Mister Roboto." Pure awesomeness. My favorite part was when he chuckled to himself after the pencil line. You could tell he thought that one was really funny, but it just didn't land with the crowd. We've all been there, my friend. Maybe the size of the crowd or the media coverage wasn't on par with the Oscars, but I know I've belly flopped with a joke in front of too many people. At least he ended with a winning moment AND an Oscar. Way to go, Kunio!! If more folks like him were being rewarded, what a wonderful world this would be.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Now I remember...I suck at Street Fighter

I've always been more of a Mortal Kombat kind of guy. I mean, if you've got the choice, why not pick the fighting game where you can tear you opponent's head off at the end of the match? MK just had more skulls, more fire, more demons, you know. . .the good stuff. I've been enjoying Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe for a while, which has reignited my craving for fighting games in general. Street Fighter is the more complex of the two and it's also the one to come out with a new installment today.

I've seen all the previews of Street Fighter 4 and they look awesome. The graphics look great. The game looks fun. It's even supposed to be more accessible for newbies. I'm not exactly a newbie, but I reached my Street Fighter peak while playing SF 2 Hyper Fighting on the Sega Genesis. I picked up Street Fighter 4 today and it IS awesome. I also had to swallow my pride and set the damn thing on Easy just so I could make it through more than 1 level of Arcade Mode. It's been a while since I've played and I'm definitely rusty, but that one stung. I may not be an expert level gamer on everything I play, but I usually don't need to drift into Easy mode.

Well, it didn't last long and I should be able to get through Normal before too long. I even went on Live and won a game. ONE game before I got pummelled unmercifully. Right now, that's good enough for me.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Big, steaming pile of relief

So, as you can see, I started the day off in a somewhat rocky fashion. Things got a little better once I stepped out for a breath of fresh air and a little bit o' shopping. I had some gift certificates and a coupon for Best Buy, so I picked up House of the Dead: Overkill for the Wii. First of all, I love the old House of the Dead games. Sometimes, nothing beats some brainless shooting action and HotD, was always great for that. Secondly, I needed to let off some steam and shooting virtual people (or zombies or whatever) is somewhat less frowned upon than cutting loose in real life.

Let's get this out of the way right now. House of the Dead: Overkill is completely brainless. It's also a lot of fun. Just hearing SO MUCH swearing coming from my cute little Nintendo Wii does me some good. Also, the swearing and gore and everything else is so over-the-top that it's hilarious. The best thing (other than the continuous 70's voice over) is your partner who follows you throughout the game, commenting on staples of the series like bad names, stiff animation and buckets of blood spraying everywhere. Prepare for lines like, "How the f--k did he say that without moving his lips?" and "Shoot to maim, mutha f--ka!!"

Sure, there are some technical problems but I love this game. It's not the deepest. It's not the most original. It has some weird control issues, but it makes the Wii crank out songs about crack hos and you gotta admire that. Just shoot some shit and relax, mo' fo! I'll definitely need some of that tomorrow after I get back from having my face peeled off....I mean getting my taxes done. Ugh.

F'in President's Day!!!!

It's tired and cliche to hate Mondays, so I'll blame it on the holiday. My computer doesn't feel like working, so maybe it's a Federal employee or bank manager and it's got the day off. I don't have the day off, so that means I need to wait about 15-145 minutes for my email to rev up before showing me I've got NO EMAILS!!!! Fine. At least I finally got a check that's been in the mail for a while so I can buy some food (and possibly Street Fighter 4 when it releases later this week). Oh wait....banks are closed. Strike 2.

You know who else has the day off? The dickheads who insist on driving down my street with the bass rattling the cheap plastic covers off their factory-installed car stereos they're so freaking proud of. They don't even turn them down when they roll up to an apartment building and lay on their horn at 9 in the morning. Are you telling me these dudes are part of the .07% of the population that doesn't have cell phones? These are probably the same f-holes who talk to their buddies in line at Wendy's or in the middle of a movie, but they can't call them to let them know they're outside waiting to pick them up in their crapmobile? Oh no!! That would ruin a perfectly good opportunity to MAKE SOME NOISE!!!!

AAHAHHHHHHAHRRRRAAJJJA"DIHD:OD:MS":SK:KW"KKW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ok. Keyboard pounding / ranting over for the moment. How about something to make us all feel better? I know...there was a bit on Family Guy last night that was actually funny and kind of fits today's theme. Let's see if I can find it.....

Friday, February 13, 2009

Library Guys

I just wrapped up an interview with The Library Guys on KCXL radio. It was a lot of fun and I don't think I rambled too much. Well...maybe a little, but it's talk radio, so that's what you're supposed to do. My wife listened to it online and caught one little slip. They must have seen my Achievement on an earlier entry and asked if I got to the top 100 on Amazon.com's book sales. I said yes, which is mostly true. Blood Blade made it into the top 100 in the Horror category, but I didn't point that out. Maybe I was too caught up in the daydream that would be climbing to the double digits on Amazon's ranking of overall book sales. Anyway, sorry about that, Library Guys. Didn't mean to mislead.

Happy Friday the 13th!!!!!!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Thursday the 12th doesn't have the same punch


So my first, gut-level reaction to a Friday the 13th remake is, “Why??”
That would be before I saw the Halloween remake done by Rob Zombie, which was actually pretty good. Slasher movies in general are low budget affairs that sink whatever money they have into corn syrup and red food coloring. Now, that doesn’t mean they should become big-budget effects movies but “low budget” back in the 70’s and 80’s looks a whole lot different than “low budget” today. House of 1000 Corpses was technically low-budget, but it beat the hell out of a lot of fancier horror movies.

Also, there are varying kinds of remakes. If this is more of a tribute instead of the dreaded “double dip”, I’m fine with it. I’ve got to admit that I’m looking forward to the series being started up again in a new light (but not TOO new). There’s just something cooler about slashers as opposed to serial killers or your run-of-the-mill psychos. Slashers are more like monsters instead of just crazy dudes. Jason, Freddy, Michael Meyers (the killer, not the Man of Mystery…although Love Guru made me wish for a machete through my skull) are more than crazy. They’re special.

You gotta love what you’re doing and Jason truly loves separating wailing young people from their various body parts. After watching American Idol last night, I know that kind of love very well. Rob Zombie obviously loves horror in all its glorious forms and it shows in everything he does. If the folks who made the new 13th movie love the source material, it will show. We’ll just have to see, but I’m keeping my hopes up.

I’m even feeling good about the upcoming remake of The Wolf Man. Show some respect and all will be fine.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The wife made me do it

Tonight marks the end of the freak show portion of American Idol….or does it? The only reason to talk about this is because the show is an inescapable vortex of lite rock and power ballads that imposes itself upon all American life whether you want it to or not. Seems like they kept a lot of people in because they were “entertaining”, which doesn’t necessarily mean “good singer”. At least they haven’t spouted my favorite line yet, where some judge scolds a contestant by telling them, “This isn’t a popularity contest!” Really? Winning something by majority vote means you’re pretty damn popular.

My interest usually drops off pretty steadily from here on, but I continue to watch because my wife is a fan. Sure, I pick my favorites. Right now, I’m rooting for Jackie Tohn and a few others whose names I can’t remember. (Don’t feel bad, Idols. I forget the name of the winners about two days after the finale.) It was pretty easy to predict that Tatiana would make it through, just to keep a villain on the show. Judging by the chorus of eye rolls and floppy applause when she came prancing through those doors, nobody else was overly surprised, either. If the producers are playing her up so people have someone to hate, then they’re doing a real good job.

Ok. Enough of that. Let’s cleanse our palette with some genuine coolness.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

GTA DLC? Yeah, you know me!

It won’t be long until the new downloadable content for Grand Theft Auto 4 will be out and it looks really cool. The Lost and Damned is a whole new storyline involving a biker gang that looks a lot like a playable version of Sons of Anarchy. If you haven’t seen it, Sons of Anarchy is a show that started up right around when The Shield was winding down. It’s between seasons right now, but look it up and watch it ASAP. Sons was a pleasant surprise with some excellent writing, a top notch cast, and I’m VERY glad I found it when it started.

Anyway, The Lost and Damned looks freaking great. My only problem is that (like most other open-world games…see earlier entry about Oblivion and Fallout 3) I’ve been playing GTA4 for a good long while without scratching the real surface of the game. Sure, I’ve been picking my way through the campaign, but there’s been many a night spent wandering down the street, blowing stuff up, buying hot dogs from vendors, hijacking a fire truck, spraying said hot dog vendor and then running over the poor bastard when he tries to scurry away. Can you believe the cops actually respond with armed force to a call like that?

So I’m faced with a problem. I really want to get The Lost and Damned, but there’s still a LOT I need to do in the GTA4 I’ve already got. Sure, I don’t have to get it right away. It’s not going anywhere. It’ll wait patiently for me to catch up just like Project Anchorage for Fallout 3. It’s just that DLC isn’t like waiting to buy a game from a store. I have to see it sitting there, ready to be purchased every time I log on to Live. I can’t just avoid Best Buy for a while. You know what would make this DLC irresistible? Support for Avatars! I mean look at that guy in the pic. He’s got street cred, right? The fact that everyone else in the game looks more or less normal would make it even better to see this freak job trying to fit his massive head into a hatchback after carjacking it.

Even though I may not play the new stuff for a while, it’d be nice to see it there and available. Let’s see how long I hold out.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

A good day at Borders


Today was my first signing for Blood Blade and it went really well! I showed up at Borders and there was no table or chair set up for me, which didn't bode well. There were plenty of books, however, which was a good sign. It was no time at all before I was set up and good to go. Not long after that, there were even people there wanting me to sign their books. I know that was the whole purpose for my visit, but I've had signings for other series where Megan had to sit there and keep me company the entire time.
To be honest, I was hoping to sell just a few books and praying that SOMEone would show up. I got my wish because plenty of people showed and they made the day a great one for me. I sincerely thank everyone who came out to chat and pick up a copy of the book. It was great meeting you. I also got to catch up with some old friends I haven't seen for years. My high school Creative Writing teacher even showed up! How cool is that?
Writers don't get into the business to be in a spotlight (or they shouldn't, because it's a lot of sitting in front of a keyboard and scribbling on note pads), but it is really nice to get a day in the sun like this. This is the sort of thing I can look back on during the quiet days when I'm wondering if anyone out there is actually going to see what I do for a living. And, to top it off, Webmaster Steve and I took our families out for some Class A lunch at Chicago Dawg House. For those of you not in the neighborhood, you'll read about that place in Skinners Book 2. My arteries aren't happy about eating there, but the rest of me is in heaven.
Thanks again to everyone who paid me a visit and thanks to Borders for being such a good host. Free Iced Coffee tastes the sweetest!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Could be worse...

I've been seeing a bunch of online reviews for Blood Blade popping up here and there. Mostly, they've been really good. Some were not-so-great and others were mostly good with a dash of bad thrown in. Considering that some of the reviewers were obviously fans of much more romantic urban fantasy, those critiques turned out a lot better than I would have expected.

That's the cool thing about this genre. Readers and reviewers alike have gotten past the rigid set of guidelines that make something "horror" or "fantasy". People are finding my book whether it's in the horror section, fantasy section, sometimes sci-fi, top shelf, front table, whatever, and they're not wrapped up in comparing it to other series. It's getting praised or bashed on its own merits and I can live with that.

It also helps that I've been watching the new seasons of Hell's Kitchen and American Idol. I may be in the sights of some critics, but at least it's not as bad as what the poor schmucks on those shows get from Simon and Chef Ramsey. Then again, my scallops aren't burnt on both sides and raw in the middle. I mean, what the hell was THAT about???

Thursday, February 5, 2009

For fun or Achievements?

That last post got me thinking about Achievements. Not real-world accomplishments, but those little flickering doggie treats you get from your XBox 360 when you do something in a game. If you've got a 360, you know what I mean. If not. . .well that's pretty much what they are. Very simple, but very addictive. Sometimes I feel empty when playing another system because there's no chance of getting an Achievement. More than likely, this was exactly what the Microsoft marketing team had in mind. In that case, good job MS. But this has seeped into the entire gaming experience for me. Case in point: Fallout 3.

I finally got a chance to catch up on some Fallout last night and I love that game. I played it for hours and finally got a rare Achievement. Considering how much I've played that game, I don't have many points to show for it. This is a lot like Oblivion, which was another gloriously life-draining game. I played Oblivion for well over 20 hours and barely scratched the surface of its potential. In fact, I barely took a nibble from the main quest which means I don't have many Achievements from that game. I often feel like I need to explain myself where this is concerned:

"So," someone will say, "you've got Oblivion / Fallout 3. Those are pretty cool games, huh?"
"Yes," I reply. "I've actually played a lot even though it doesn't look like it. I do a lot of wandering around, finding random places. You know, just exploring."
"Yes I know. It's / They're cool game(s)."
"Seriously," I emphasize. "I've played them a lot. I just haven't gotten into the main story. It's like I don't want them to be over."
"Ok," the poor person says, rather uncomfortably. "I get it. The game is fun. Relax."
"It IS fun! I just only have 45 out of 1000 points to show for all my time."
"Maybe you need to breathe or just get the hell away from me."

At least these games aren't like some of the earlier ones where designers were still figuring out Achievements. Like Quake 4 or Call of Duty 2. I played through the entire campaign of Quake 4 and earned under 200 out of 1000 points for the whole damn thing! COD 2 is an awesome game, but I earned TWO Achievements for it: Completed Training and Won The War. That's it.

I realize the whole Achievement thing is old news, but it's always with me.
Always.
They taunt me.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

ba-DINK



Yayyyyyyyy!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Kick-Ass Family Night

I went over to a friend's house the other night to watch the UFC. I don't know what number it was, but BJ Penn fought Georges St. Pierre and it was great. Lots of pummelling, but not a lot of knock-outs. Actually, it was great despite that last bit. The best part of the night was playing some Rock Band with my friend and his three daughters. They range from about 4 to 12 years in age and are a lot of fun. Something about hearing a sweet little 9 year-old sing Enter Sandman just warms my heart.

Thanks to my hours of practice at home, I was able to hold my own on guitar and drums. I even sang Highway Star. My music game domination stopped short of accepting a challenge to Dance Dance Revolution. I want those girls to think of me as their cool Uncle Marcus, not some spastic who blew out his knee slipping on a plastic sensor mat.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Salsa Bowl Postgame Show

Wow! What a game. I expected it to be a good one, but it turned out to be one of the best kinds of games to watch. There were awesome plays on both sides. There were agonizing missteps taken that could have swung it either way. The Steelers put together some phenomenal moments and the Cardinals mounted one hell of a comeback. In the end, I would have been glad to see either team win.

I didn't see my Watchmen trailer, but I did see the trailers for GI Joe (wasn't expecting that one at all), Transformers 2 (even with the huge unicycle-tron, it looks pretty cool), and Land of the Lost (Will Ferrell and dinosaurs? Could be funny, could be reeeeally bad). I have to say PepGruber ran away with the funny commercial award, but there were some great runners-up.

As for the real action, I started the 1st quarter with a habernero-lime chili cheese dip and then rang in the 2nd with a more traditional Buffalo hot wing-esque chili cheese delight. The 3rd quarter saw another citrus variant with a spicy orange sauce I cracked open today for the first time. It was, of course, in chili cheese dip. I gotta say the habernero lime was my favorite. I ran out of steam in the fourth quarter, since I was too busy cheering at the game and eating jalapeno poppers. What's this? I just got a letter from my stomach lining. It says, "Give me a f---ing break and LAY OFF THE SPICY FOODS MORON!!!"
Oh well. We all make sacrifices for the big game.

Salsa Bowl Sunday

Like most everyone else in America this Sunday, I'll be watching Arizona go against Pittsburgh or at least waiting for some cool commercials. My prediction for the game is for Arizona to come out ahead in the first half, but the Steelers will snap out of it and pull out a win late in the 4th quarter. Whether that holds up or not, I'm pretty sure it'll be a great game to watch.

Commercial wise, I'll be looking for a new Watchmen trailer and expecting plenty of stupid laughs. What more could you want from huge commercials during a football game? Models in bikinis, you say? I'm sure there'll be plenty of those too.

My own personal highlight for the game is my "plethora of chili cheese" extravaganza. See, Megan will cook up some of her awesome chili cheese dip and I'll dish it out in small bowls. Each bowl will be spiced with one of many different hot sauces ranging from super-spicy habernero lime to a fairly mild jalapeno pecante. Each bowl will have a different zing to it and I'm topping it all off by using a corn chip that promises me a "taste of jalapeno" in every bite. Should be an amazing, chili-cheese-tastic, spiceriffic Sunday!