Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Ugh, another Monday. Wait, Tuesday? No...

It’s back to work time. As you can tell, since I’m writing a blog entry instead of actually working, it’ll be back to work in a little while. Today’s just one of those dreary days that makes it hard to get going. Normally, I’m all for cloudy and drizzle. Even so, it’s hard to get the motor running. Maybe it was a bad idea to take an extra day off. Usually, that one extra day off tacked on is the sweetest. And yesterday wasn’t bad, it was just….eh.

Megan’s back in town after being away for over a week. That was rough. Abby was here, which was nice. The little dawg became my shadow and, apart from a few bathroom walk-ins, was fun. Once she got home, Megan and I got to break in the new Boom Blox. If you haven’t played Boom Blox (and you own a Wii) you’re missing out. It’s one of those simple games that’s just freaking awesome. Blocks are set up (or in this case, Blox) and there are various ways to knock them down. That’s it. It rules. Also picked up the new Punch Out for the Wii, which is an updated version of the NES nostalgia-fest. That too is great.

Went to the Squirrel Cage Jail again with the Nevermore crew. It was a good night, but not particularly eventful. I stood in the cement closet that passed for solitary and thought I heard a breath, but chalked that one up to wishful thinking. We saw some weird glowing globes appear on the new DVR cameras, but haven’t gotten a chance to see that on evidence review. After that, it was rushing home to let the dog out before her nibs exploded. I spent my Memorial Day reviewing said evidence, but didn’t get to the part with the globes since that was at the end of a 5 or 6 hour stretch of video. I did, however, get a real good chance to see how horrifically and tragically dumpy I look on video. Being photographed has never been my favorite thing and now I remember why. Usually, I look rather blobbish but when filmed at an upward angle in night vision that effect is cranked up a good 4 or 5 times. No ghosts and now no self esteem. Thanks, 3 day weekend!

The truth is that it wasn’t a bad couple of days. Megan’s back, it’s cool outside, had some quality Wii time and making fun of myself on unflattering video was good for a laugh (a LOT of laughs). Today I start in on draft 2 of Skinners 3 and that’s the real thing on my mind. I’m pumped to dig into the manuscript like Jigsaw from Saw 1-9 digging into some idiot who stuck their hand into a rusted, spiky metal box. The final pass for Skinners 2 arrived today and there are a lot of other projects floating around on the verge of being accepted or rejected. No matter what I do to try and distract myself, all that work stuff is there. I can’t just switch it off because I’m not in the office and there’s no deadline as to when I might hear any results. Stuff may sell or it may get shot down for no reason whatsoever. It may get shot down for a very good reason and it may happen today, tomorrow, eighteen weeks from now or never. That’s the business and I wouldn’t want to have any other job, but this part of it really tests the ol’ resolve.

Maybe I need another day off.
NO! I’m starting work right…….now.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

I actually get a weekend off? How did that happen??

WooHOOOOO!!! Draft 1 of Skinners #3 is FINISHED!!! As with most first drafts, it’s too long, yet somehow still incomplete. There are a bunch of things I forgot about halfway through the book, stuff I need to patch, entire characters I need to get rid of, holes to mend, rough patches to smooth out. . .why was I celebrating a moment ago? Oh yeah. I get a few days off before diving in again.

I had some stuff planned to do once I was done with this draft as a way to get my long weekend started, but was too tired once I was through typing. It’s sexier to say I was “spent”, but it all just boils down to tired. Maybe I’ll celebrate when the book is really done, but I say that every time and just wind up sending it in, sighing with relief and scraping to get the next contract.

On another note, I’m heading out on a ghost hunt tonight. Back to the Squirrel Cage Jail for a follow-up investigation. It’s nice and hot today, so spending Saturday night in a huge metal box talking to shadows should be a lot of fun. Have you seen that Axe commercial with the guy who sprays sweat out of his shirt like a fire hose? Well I plan on making that guy look like Mister Roarke standing on the beach in his spotless white suit waiting for the guests to arrive on Fantasy Island. Pity the other folks at Nevermore. Seriously.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Nerdo de Mayo

I caved in to the summer movie bug again. It happened when I was on my weekly sojourn to the comic book shop (It was a very good week by the way. I needed that to make up for the slow one a few back.) when I thought about Terminator Salvation. I knew there would be some midnight showings and figured I might as well turn my day into a full-on Nerd Fest. So I bought my comics, wrote my monster hunter pages, played some Gears of War 2 co-op, and headed out to the theater for some Skynet goodness.

Turns out those wacky robots are at it again! They just never stop trying to hunt us down and kill us. Super computer becomes self-aware, robots are designed that look like freaking awesome metal skeletons, they’re sent out to face the human resistance, wackiness ensues. This time, we finally get the movie all Terminator fans have been wanting. Well, sort of. Every Terminator flick has those cool flashbacks with the real war between humans and an army of robots shooting phased plasma rifles (in a 40 Watt range) at each other. And every time, I wished they would just make THAT movie. Salvation isn’t quite there because it’s set a little before the invention of plasma rifles, but it’s still pretty flippin’ sweet.

I especially like the way it’s filmed in a gritty, down and dirty style that makes the machines seem all steely and sharp and imposing and stuff. Seriously, it makes for a less flashy version than the shiny bots and glowing gunfire from those flashbacks in earlier movies. These robots really seem like killing machines put together by other machines to kill and hunt (not necessarily in that order) and not look pretty while doing it. The action was great and the effects were solid. I’m always happy to see movies where the director tries to make as many physical effects as possible as opposed to constant CG. I’d have to say my favorite aspect of the movie was the constant tribute paid to fans. There are all kinds of little bits and moments that nod back to previous installments. As a fan, I smirked at those and thought things like, “So THAT’S why Sarah taught him how to do that.” I don’t want to ruin any of those for you, so I’ll leave it at that. Oh, and there’s one part that was especially cool if you make sure to watch that first scene from T2 (the flashback opening) before hitting the theater. Nuff said.

As with any genre movie with time travel involved (didn’t I just say this for Star Trek? Huh) a few leaps in faith / rationality are required but that’s part of the fun. One strange criticism was that I was somehow expecting more Terminators. Is that crazy? All in all, this one is great summer movie stuff. I liked it a lot, but I still liked Star Trek a little more.
Oh, and someone won American Idol. I think it was that guy with the voice and...never mind. Obviously, I was busy.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Home Stretch: Pt. 1

Ok. The end of Skinners 3, Draft 1 is in sight. What does that mean? Am I about to send this baby in? Am I ready to kick back and wait for the fortune and glory? Yeah, right. While it's hardly time to relax, it's almost time to take a breather which will be nice. Also, I finally know how this one will end. On a not-so-exciting note, I also know a bunch of places that will need to be overhauled when I start in on draft 2.

Any of you who have written anything know that the start of a project can be the most daunting. The dreaded BLANK PAGE and all that. I find that part exciting at first, but there's just so much to do. Of course I have an idea of what's going to happen and what I want to develop, but it's still my book and I can take it anywhere. Draft 1 may not be complete (or even very good) but at least the framework is there. This project has actually turned into Skinners #3 instead of, "Let's see what I can do this time".

The important thing is that it's turning out great. Even more important is that I'm coming up with all kinds of amazing stuff for future installments. Now I just need to hope and pray there ARE future installments. But that's a stress headache for another time. Right now, I've got to put the rest of the big pieces together so I can tear it all apart and fit the small to medium pieces in.
Fun, right?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Don't forget the true pecking order

I did see the new Star Trek and I did love it, but I'm not jumping ship just yet.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

JJ Abrams is The Man

I went to see Star Trek yesterday. It actually made me realize that I’m more of a Trek fan than I thought. There were lots of little nuances and references to the TV series and some of the movies that really stuck. First of all, I want to get this out of the way. The movie kicked ass. And there were plenty of places for it to go into the weeds. There’s a time travel element which may have been a spoiler if it hadn’t already been so well publicized and if it hadn’t become an unwelcome staple to Trek movies anyway. There are new actors taking on iconic roles. There’s a new director trying to put his stamp on an established series. Well, JJ Abrams isn’t “new”, but he’s new to Trek. Even with all of this potential for disaster, everything works out great.

It’s not wall to wall explosions and it’s not dialogue heavy. It’s not even completely serious. Somehow, it ALL stays on track. The funny stuff isn’t trying to be too funny (this is one of the many things that the newer Star Wars movies messed up) and the dramatic stuff isn’t trying to be too dramatic. There are plenty of little bits of Trek obscurity in there, but not enough to make a newcomer to the series feel lost. My favorite thing is how the whole movie truly tied into the rest of the canon. With a reboot, it’s acceptable to steer in a new direction while keeping true to the essence of the whole. Honestly, that’s what I was expecting. Like the new Bond movies. They’re not supposed to tie into stuff like Goldfinger or Octopussy but it’s still Bond. The Nolan Batman movies don’t have anything to do with the Burton ones, but they’re still Batman. This Star Trek can be taken as a fresh start or it can tie into everything else. As a fan of any series, there are plenty of times in movies where a simple line of dialogue or a little explanation would make a world of difference. Sometimes you don’t want much as an audience member, but throw us a bone at least. This move throws us the whole skeleton…including the skull which is the cool part.

Secondly, you don’t have to be a Trek fan to enjoy this movie. Megan isn’t a Trek fan by any means but she loved it. It’s just that good. The characters are so good that they make you truly appreciate the originals without making you feel like you’re watching a caricature of them. And third, this movie does go WAY off track with certain established pieces of Trek lore. Origins are tweaked and stuff is changed, but it all STILL fits and it doesn’t just work. It works beautifully. Like Bond and Batman, this is a reboot that makes the whole series better. There will always be Wrath of Kahn and this movie doesn’t mess with that. There will always be the original series, but this movie branches off in its own way that keeps Trek everything it should be.

Were there some flaws here and there? I suppose. Nothing’s perfect. I just can’t think of any right now. That’s what fun movies are all about.

In related preview news, I saw a preview for Transformers 2 and still believe that’s a “wait for DVD” event for me. GI Joe looks great, but there are scenes in that trailer that I swear were taken from Transformers 1 where computer generated Joes in power suits were twisting through the air to dodge missiles instead of computer generated robots. And because of some power suits or something, the Joes looked like robots. Still, I’ll probably wind up seeing this anyway. Snake Eyes + Baroness + newly discovered strawberry Whoppers = me buying movie ticket. When did they start making strawberry Whoppers? Eat one of those along with a mouthful of popcorn for a new definition of “Yum”.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Comic book movies

So this summer seems kind of light on comic book movies. Watchmen came and went, but that’s not really a summer movie. There’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which I intend on seeing pretty soon. I’ve heard mixed reviews about it, but some of the bad reviews don’t sound too bad to me. Too many superheroes? Too much mindless action? What’s that??? Last year’s bumper crop would have been hard to top, so maybe Hollywood decided to tap a few other sources for ideas. Seems like it’s 80’s toys this year.

Transformers 2 is coming. I’d like to see that one, but I think I’ll wait for the DVD. Nothing against the movie or giant robots, but I’m not quite pumped enough to get off my butt and go to a theater. Giant robots are awesome, but let’s just hope they don’t have those robots peeing on anyone this time around. That scene in Transformers was like a kidney stone. Once it passed, everything after that was just BETTER. Ahhhhhhh…..

I’m actually pumped for GI Joe. I had two Transformers figures, but just about anything GI Joe. There’s not a lot of ways this movie could go wrong for me. I’m not such a purist that I expect the movie to follow all the jumbled back stories from cartoons, comics and whatever else. All I want to see are reasonable depictions of the Joes blowing stuff up. Even if this movie is bad, it’ll probably SO bad that it’ll be great. Just watch some Made For Sci-Fi Channel movies to know what I’m talking about here.

Huh? Snake Eyes looks great!
And Baroness….ahhh Baroness. I remember looking at her action figure as a kid. Then I’d look at her in comic books and on the little cardboard cutout file card on the back of her action figure’s box thinking, “Wow! Bad girls in glasses are HOT!”

I’ve got my tickets for Star Trek, so my summer movie season will start there. To make up for the lack of comic book flicks, here’s a sneak peek at the climactic battle sequence for Iron Man 2.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

And BACK to the bubble!

Is it karma?

Is it irony?

Is it the world simply messing with me?

Literally the moment I'm done writing my previous post, I got up and took Abby for her midday walk. Like a good tenant, I put her on a leash and I even bring a bag along to pick up the mess. I plan my route so we walk by Dumpsters to dispose of the mess. Abby likes to sniff. I like to get outside. Today, it was even relaxing to stroll along in the sunshine and watch my little dog romp through the dandelions. Isn't that just sickly sweet?

Not for long. Seems like I can't go ANYWHERE this week without someone coming along to mess it up. Today, Abby hops up onto a stone sign on the lawn of an apartment complex, sniffs some dead weeds and takes a mini squirt before looking around from her new foot-and-a-half-high vantage point. Along comes some woman in a red truck. She rolls down the window and tells me how she "busts her ass" to do the landscaping for that area and to keep my dog off the fruits of her labors. Mind you, this sign was decorated with cedar chips and dead weeds. Weeds! DEAD weeds!!!

And this is after I plunk down a couple hundred bucks for pet deposit and sign on to pay an extra monthly fee for the dog. Now, I get grief from the freaking gardener because a mutt rearranged the wood chips she so lovingly placed? I wish she took such pride in her work when the lawn needs to be mowed after about four weeks of letting it turn into a jungle. Or didn't they cover that in the prestigious landscaping academy she's representing? I don't have a problem respecting anyone else's work and yes, I did pull Abby down from the little sign. I do have a problem with someone rolling up out of nowhere to bitch at me when there was no damage done and nothing to damage anyway!

Where's a nice rocket launcher when I really need one?

Leaving the Bubble

One of my favorite "Makes me look smart" quotes is from Lord Byron who states, "I only go out to get me a fresh appetite for being alone." Quoting Byron actually makes me sound literary, right until someone asks me to quote anything else from Byron. Then it's back to quoting stuff I know like Star Wars, Highlander and Looney Tunes.

The reason I brought this up is because I find that I rarely leave my little comfort zone anymore. I'm busy, cranky, not a member of a lot of clubs, whatever. I think a lot of this just comes from getting older. Today's Cinco de Mayo, for example. Yeah, there's drinking, bars, parties and all that going on. I've never been a huge party guy, but I've got my own booze and the bars will be there when everyone else leaves. There was an episode of The King of Queens where Doug sabotages his wife's attempts to make new friends. Apparently, she wants to bring new people into their world and Doug wants to keep them out. He just wants to build a dome over his world and stay there. See, I can quote sitcoms without having to look them up. Anyway, My wife and I both related to that sentiment except we refer to our enclosed little world as the bubble. After an hour or two of being out in the world, we look to each other and express our desire to return to the bubble. People sense what aisle we want to go to in Target and swarm there. They even pick the EXACT spot of the damn shelf one of us wants to visit and they cluster tightly around that particular item like ants on a discarded ice cream cone. "Back to the bubble. NOW!"

And this isn't me just being paranoid. I've tested it! I've stood in the grocery store and eyeballed a section frozen veggies while thinking, "Damn those cauliflower stalks look GOOD!!" Sure enough, boom! Here come a few random folks or just one pushing one of those gigantic plastic fire engine carts to block the freaking cauliflower stalks!

So the summer movie season has kicked off. With DVDs, affordable home theater options and my well-documented aggravations at movie theaters, I rarely go to theaters anymore. Buying a DVD and watching it once is cheaper than going to a theater where a good portion of my time is spent praying for someone to shut up or turn their cell phone off. I don't own a colossal tricked out system, but it's pure bliss to sit on my couch with my cheapo surround sound speakers set up on clearance stands, watch a movie and NOT have anyone around me who doesn't have permission to be there. Megan is allowed and now Abby curls up on my lap and watches quietly while I rub her belly. How is that NOT awesome? Maybe this also makes me an old codger at the age of 37, but I'm cool with that.

The only movies that I still want to see in the theaters are the big summer action-tacular ones. X-Men Origins: Wolverine came out and I haven't gotten around to seeing that yet. I probably will in the next few days, though. This weekend the Nevermore folks and I will see Star Trek. There's no getting out of it. The tickets are bought and I will venture from the bubble. It should be pretty great. I don't mind seeing geeky movies in big crowds on opening day because the crowd is made up of geeks (like me) and the occasional innocent bystander who got dragged to the movie out of curiosity (like Megan). Either way, the crowd is there to see the movie and nothing else. No matter how much commotion is going on, when those lights dim and the movie starts, we all sit and watch. Why can't all movies be like that?

I'll let you know what I think after I return from my dramatic sojourn.

Friday, May 1, 2009

I've had a few

We've all been there, Trooper PF-139. Tomorrow is another day.

The Unthinkable

I find that I'm dangerously close to becoming one of "those people". You know, when you try to talk about a TV show (old or new) or anything that may have appeared on TV and the person you're talking to blinks and smugly tells you, "Oh, I don't watch TV." Hey, if someone doesn't want to watch TV, that's fine. I'm talking about that condescending sneer I get from some folks who act as if my viewing habits are responsible for the decline of civilization.

"Oh, you waaaatch that stuff? Oooohhhhh. It takes all kinds, I guess."
What do you mean YOU GUESS?? It DOES take all kinds. This reminds me of that part in Pulp Fiction when John Travolta throws the "I don't watch TV" line at Samuel L Jackson and Sam comes back with, "But you are aware that there's an invention called television and on this invention they show shows?"

Look, smug people. We're just trying to make conversation. Do what you want and lighten up about it. Do you know what we mean when we refer to American Idol? 99% of the time, you probably do, so don't flip the life choices at me. Anyway, that being said, I'm finding fewer reasons to keep my cable connection running. The DVR is acting up and only gets slightly wonkier with every "update" that always comes at a time when I'm trying to tape something. Most shows are going down the crapper. Attack of the Show is becoming progressively harder to watch as Olivia continues to do the whole movie thing. Where's the Wiffle Bat Fight Club? Oh, and could we PLEASE see the specs of one more camera?? PLEEASE?? Heroes is long gone. Battlestar Galactica is over. (Caprica? Give me a frakkin' break) The end is nigh.

Then I find a show like Fringe. Ahhhh Fringe. How I love thee. And Deadliest Warrior. Have you seen this?? They take historical figures like a viking and a samurai, test all their main weapons for impact, damage and accuracy stats, feed all that into a computer and see who would win in a fight. How freaking AWESOME is that? Apache vs Gladiator. Apache wins. Who knew? They do pirate vs knight, ninja vs Spartan and Mafia vs Yakuza is coming up. YEAH!! Cities of the Underworld is great (and would make an awesome drinking game - ask for details). Monster Quest and The Ultimate Gamer are pretty cool. Warehouse 13 is coming up.

Wait, was this a pro- or anti-TV post? Oh yeah. The thought of cancelling cable and getting the good shows on DVD is tempting, but I guess I'm not quite there yet. Cactus Jack returning to the wrestling world pushed me back into the light. BANG BAANG!!

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, 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.