Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Old Books/Old Memories

Let's here it for rediscovering old books and old authors.  Let's appreciate the feeling of excitement when we stumble onto a long since gone author's work and realize that . . . Oh my Freaking Frederick! . . . this guy could write!

I get this feeling every time I pull down from my library shelves a book I haven't read since the introduction of the Internet onto an unsuspecting world.  Lots of old and forgotten writers resting, and calmly waiting, for me to find'em again.  And I have to be honest.  The joy of rereading them again is just as pleasurable as it was the moment if first encountered them.

Take Earle Stanley Gardner's Perry Mason series.  Did you know that Gardner wrote under several different pen names?  Did you know he wrote eighty-two Perrry Mason novels using just the Earle Standly Gardner name alone?  Eighty-two!

God only knows how many books Gardner wrote under one pen name or another.  I'm thinking its roughly around 200 or more.  But that's only a guess on my part.  I probably vastly underestimated the total.

But my point is eighty-two Perry Mason novels is a freaking library in itself.  Think of the fun and excitement of raiding all the used book stores, or combing the Internet, in search of every single one.  And then the satisfaction of knowing the collection is complete and you can take your leisurely time reading'em all.

Another example.  Rex Stout and his Nero Wolfe series.

Stout wrote (I believe ) thirty-two novels featuring the fat detective, Nero Wolfe.  Comparing Wolfe to Perry Mason is like comparing gold fish to a Great White.  About as opposite in style and ambiance as can be found.  Yet equally enjoyable.  Wolfe, the 400 lb. genius behemoth, working with his employee, the ever wise-ass Archie Goodwin, make for enjoyable reading.

The two different styles of characters and styles of writing give you a bifurcation on what the
detective genre can be.   There are hundreds of examples like this waiting to be discovered.  The joy, if you're an avid reader, is going out and cruising thru the old bookstores looking for such treasures.

In a world dominated by electronic gizmos and the hypnotic lure of the Internet one still should be aware of the past.  Of the genius that lived and breathed before our time.

More names pop into mind thinking about this.  Agatha Christie, the great English writer, wrote a boat load of the Hercule Poirot novels.  Have you ever read a good Hercule Poirot novel?  Missing something if you haven't (and don't forget her Miss. Marple.  Thirty-three novels featuring Poirot; twelve novels featuring Marple).

And then there are the eighteen Tony Hillerman novels.  Hillerman novels are completely and totally different compared to the authors mentioned above.  True, they are detective/mystery novels.  But detective/mystery novels shaded heavily with Navajo Indian mythology.  That's a whole new wrinkle in the reading.  One you'll enjoy.

So we have something like 177 novels to collect from just these four authors.  And the potential of the old writers goes on and on and on . . .

Thinking about collecting all of'em makes me feel like a kid in a candy store. Or more like a jewel thief in a Belgium diamond exchange.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Review: Star Trek Into Darkness

I'll confess right from the beginning.  I am a Star Trek fan.  A gizmo-loving hardware freak.   I fell in love with The Enterprise the first time I saw it (along with every variation and model designation since).  I cut my eye teeth on the original James Tiberius Kirk and my no bull shit, pointy-eared friend Spock.  I booed and applauded whenever the original Khan Noonien Singh showed up. And those fracken' Klingons . . . . sigh!

 I've loved it all, buddy.

But I gotta say I'm a sucker for tekkie gizmos in flashy Sci/Fi movies.

Example; when The Enterprise punches into Warp from a standing still position, a big, big, big grin of pure dumb pleasure spreads across my lips.  Every time.  Without exception.

(Even love the difference in the way Captain Picard says, "Make it so," and boom! Warp speed.  While the rebooted Kirk can say, "Punch it!"  And whammo!  We're there, baby!)

Loved J.J. Abrams rebooting of the series.  Thought the way he remolded the major characters in the series into deeper, more interesting three dimensional living creatures fascinating.  And so when I heard Abrams was making Star Trek Into Darkness . . . . Holy Hanna and her bad Habits!  I was ready for it!

(By the way . . . have I said to you how much I love Star Trek?  I did?  Oh . . . . okay.  Just wanted you to be aware of my fondness for it.)

So how was Star Trek Into Darkness, you ask.  My answer: FRACKEN AWESOME, BABY!

Made so, no less, by the amazing Benedict Cumberbatch's portrait of Khan Noonien Singh.  The original Kahn (portrayed by Ricardo Montalban) was a revenge-filled monster who allowed his hate for Kirk to cloud his judgement and dim his so-called super intellect.  The New Khan of Cumberbatch's vision is very different.  We have a darker nuanced, far more interesting look onto that cold dish called Revenge.  Cold.  Calculating.  Infinitely cruel.  Incredibly intelligent. Absolutely determined to exact every savory second of maniacal delight from those he wishes to torment.

And that voice of Cumberbatch's.  That deep, deep voice.  Measured and precise.  And oh so
deliciously menacing!

If you want a truly good bad guy, Cumberbatch is your fella, Sherlock!

But there was more to this movie than just Khan.  I really enjoyed the word play between Kirk and Spock.  The personalities growing to like each other and meld into a deep, deep friendship everyone knows Kirk and Spock had from the first go around.  But there was Bones' constant pessimism mixed with a commitment to get things done. Along with his friendship developing between Kirk and Spock.   And there's Scotty . . . the ship's Chief Engineer.  Feisty little fella, this Scotsman.

Aye, laddie.  Ya gotta hand it to J. J. Abrams and his talent at making a good movie.  I agree with the pundits;  there was an uncanny but subtle visual feast of a man who loved and admired the Star Trek series back in his childhood.  A man who, while honoring the past, has definitely put a stamp of his version of a new Star Trek.

The opening four day run of the movie sucked in $84 million dollars.  A fantastic haul from the box office.  But the studios were disappointed.  They actually thought Into Darkness would crack the $100 million mark.  The greedy bastards.  Before this movie goes into the DVD market it's  going to go way over the billion dollar mark. Waaaaaaaaay over that mark!

Surely that should satisfy every one's expectations, shouldn't it?

Even if you're not a Trekkie you should see this movie.  It's that good.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The newest Turner/Frank coming soon

Here's the newest Turner Hahn/Frank Morales novel.  Not out yet.  But coming to you shortly.  Self-published in ebook format only.

Time to experiment.  To explore some ideas.  The quest is to push this novel into the widest number of markets I possibly can manage on a limited budget.

Yeah, that's right;  even though I am amazingly handsome and unusually endowed with the gift of gab, nevertheless the acquisition of money (income) has never been a long-cherished trait I've experienced in this karmic go-around.

(And just to keep it straight . . . the jab about being amazingly handsome and unusually endowed with the gift of gab?  Sarcasm, my friend; sarcasm)

Self-published authors who have hit it big.  How the hell did they do it?  I know you've asked this question ten thousand times or more.  I certainly have.  Maybe asked it even more after picking up the self-published novel, reading it, and experiencing the first reaction as 'How the hell!?'

Sometimes 'talent' has nothing to do with being 'successful' when it comes to self-publishing.

So okay.

Past efforts in self publishing have fizzled.   Why, you ask.  And what to change?  I've got a few ideas.

One: Artwork.  I think artwork is absolutely critical.  Always have and prefer coming up with my own original stuff.  Commissioned, of course.  My ideas.  An artist's visual expertise.

Two: Markets.  Gotta figure out a way to get the book into as many markets as possible.  Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble.  Push for 100 markets where a potential reader might find this and purchase it.

Three: Book trailers.  Spend what limited funds you have on building a kick-ass book trailer and then again, flashing the trailer out to as many video sites as possible.

Four: Friends and their blogsShamelessly hit your friends up with a request if you could squeeze a word or two about your new creation on their blog sites.  I do this all the time for my friends on this blog.  Should be a no-brainer.

Five:  Solicit reviewsFigure out a way to get as many reviews posted on the book as you can. Good or bad.  The more reviews you have the more curiosity is generated. Again, revert back to your friends.

This is the plan, Tonto.  Spend a little money.  Expand the market exponentially.  Hit the video sites as hard as possible.  Solicit reviews.  Maybe this will work.  If it does and the book starts selling there should be one immediate benefit (other than actually earning an income!) coming your way. The more success you have in selling your book makes you more attractive to both agents and publishers.  They just might come to you with a little enthusiasm behind their offers to help you become even more successful.

Who knows.  Hell, I still believe in Santa Claus!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Iron Man 3

I slipped out of the house on Friday and went off to the theater to see Iron Man 3.   I've been reading all kinds of glowing reviews about how this might be the best of the Iron Man movies yet.  And maybe the last we see Robert Downing Jr, Mister Iron Man himself, playing the part.

So what I went forthwith filled with high expectations.  I must admit I am kinda a 'gadget' man.  I like my movies teetering dangerously close to hardcore traditional sci-fi abyss filled with cool gadgets.  And without doubt the mechanical suits and neat holographic computers Mr. Stark uses to build his armored suits are right there in my 'Gee Whiz!' notebook of wonders.

So you ask, "How did I like the movie?  On a scale of 1 to 10 how would you rate it?"

Uh . . . it was okay.  And I'd give it a rating of about 7.  And that would be pushing it.

Look.  I like my gadgets.  I love my Gee Whiz moments.  And I sure as hell like my action.  This is, as were all the previous Iron Man movies, essentially an action move.  So one should expect big explosions, fast cars, incredible getaways. etc.  But . . . somewhere a little over half way thru the movie (maybe about the time we discover who The Mandarin truly is) something happened.   It was that feeling akin to a kid suddenly losing all the air out of the balloon he just won at a circus side show.  Everything just hissed away into the afternoon sunlight.

What happened?

I got the feeling the movie was straining.  Straining to be too 'hip.'  Too witty.  Too chic.  I got the feeling the writers realized what they were doing and decided to switch over to the gadgets and let the action take over.

I know . . . I know; it's my fault.  My warped sense of story-telling.  I wanted more of a mystery to solve.  More human-to-human and human-to-computer interaction.  I wanted more of a story-line between Stark and this young engineering whiz-kid he came across in some backwoods little town out in No Where Land.  A mini-Stark who was just as witty, just as cool, and just as grown up Stark.

THAT subplot had miles and miles of possibilities to play on.  Yet it was handled as an afterthought thrown in just to hurry along the main story line.

And the gadgets.  These gadgets so, close to being sentient life forms themselves, acted more like slaves.  Mindless.  Obedient.  Colorless.  I wanted more interaction here.

I mentioned 'The Mandarin' already.  As visually a stunning villain as has ever been created.  Very dark.  Very menacing.  Very existential.  Oh, brother! That story line would have been fascinating to develop!  But it's not to be.  In the end it fizzles into nothing as well.

Really, in the end, I just wanted a better, more intricate,  story!

Don't get me wrong.  It's a well made film technically speaking.  The acting flawless.  The special effects marvelous to behold. I strongly urge you to go see.  Undoubtedly when you do, you'll completely disagree with everything I've said.

That's okay by me.  Hell, you already know I'm the biggest contrarian sitting at the dinner table with you.  Why change now?