Here, There be a Writer

Friday, February 9, 2018

Movie Review: Three Billboards outside of Ebbing, Missouri

I didn't really know much about this movie, except for the title.

I went in thinking that I was going to be seeing a story and I will react accordingly. When I arrived at the theatre I was surprised that the only other people watching Three Billboards with me were two older ladies who set in the back, while I sat in the front. Their reactions while we watched were worth the ticket price.

Dark comedies. Yeah, I am not used to them, but I was surprised by the storytelling and the acting. This is Sam Rockwell's movie. I won't get spoilery on you, Dear Readers. It's very much a mystery, but not in the normal sense. It's not a hunt for the clues and find the bad guy, but more like a fall into the pieces and happen upon the bad guy. That is kind of refreshing, when most movies put out there are almost too cookie cutter in plot and character development (or having lack of character development).

Sam Rockwell is solid as Jason Dixon, the asshole cop; Woody Harrelson gives a believable performance as Willoughby; and Frances McDormand is really good at being an angry woman. What is amount to are believable characters, who are terribly flawed and that is what is entertaining. Not once during this time did I feel uncomfortable and ready for the movie to be over. It is very engaging, if surprising by what they push the boundaries on.

"They can say that in a movie now?"

I remember thinking halfway through the movie. It's not a fluffy comedy, nor is it a boring drama. Three Billboard gets under your skin, crawls into your brain, and make you think. I like that. I like a story, movie, book, TV show that'll have you think, and even make you a little uncomfortable.

Standout actors Sam Rockwell and Peter Dinklage. Sam Rockwell does a lot with little to no dialogue at times and it really works. Peter Dinklage might have had a smaller part, but he owns that part.

It's a good thought experiment and what would you do in this situation. I have realized lately that if you picture yourself in a characters shoes, sometimes the choices you thought you would make are not what you end up making.

Three Billboards is definitely on my top 10 list for movies in 2017.

 What are your thoughts on Three Billboards, Dear Readers? Have you seen it? Will you see it? Leave me a comment below, and next time, my thoughts on the Sci-Fi/Suspense TV show, Black Mirror.

Jodi Whittacker in the episode "The Entire History of You."

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Kickstarter Status Update: Stories to be Told, unsuccessful? I don't think so...

My Kickstarter is over.

I didn't make funding.

I did make 486 dollars of my 1,100 goal. That is 44% funded, and pretty damn good for my first time out.

Thank you to backers and everyone who supported me through donations, emotional and mental support, and shared the living daylights out of this little project of mine. This project, Stories to be Told is so important to me, and I can only move forward with its creation.

It has been quite a month. I found my passion, my Arete.

I have learned a lot this January, everything from marketing/business practices, how to get back up after falling, finding my joy in my writing my Arete), the choice to go independent, and the most important thing I learned is how to fail forward. Failure is a part of life and for every thousand failures, there will be successes. The more you fail and keep going (learning from each mistake and misstep), well the more you are to succeed. They also say it takes about 10,000 hours of work to make something a reality.

Arete: (Moral Virtue) as defined by Wikipedia, excellence of any kind. Connected to the concept of fulfillment of purpose. Greek in origin.

My friend and mentor, James always says that arete is the fulfillment of one's true purpose. I like that so much, that I knew I had to buckle down and take my writing seriously, edited and revise my writing, and take a step into my fears and do thing I was afraid to do; get myself published. That lead into the Kickstarter, and little did I realize that I would start a path to greatness and ever failure.

Note: failure is only true failure if it stops you from moving forward.

"It is not a catastrophe, but merely a course correction." 
~James A. Owen

So, what is next? Well, after I write to my backers, then I begin Plan B, which entails putting together "Stories to be Told", Issue 0 in a PDF version for my backers as a thank you.  Quite possibly I will sell the PDF version in the near future, but that is still early to say. There is the re-planning and re-structuring of the Stories to be Told Kickstarter re-launch with the printing of Issue #1 (maybe Issue summer or Issue * or Issue Badger, or whatever I care to call it). This will require a month worth of marketing and promotion prior to re-launch. I'm looking at April. Also, includes promoted my self as a writer, going to seminars and lectures on writing and business of art, printing business cards, bookmarks and stickers as promotional materials. Even going to writing convention, especially after I has print versions of Stories to be Told, although I will still go to these conventions and events before that happens.

My Publishing Company!

I still have a Winter Give-Away over at Here, There be a Writer. Go over there, click like and share the Winter Give-Away status to be entered into the give-away that runs through tomorrow (1/31/2018).  I will be drawing winners for a limited edition bookmark and another for a Phoenix Rising Press sticker.

On the creative side this means I need to continue to write and edit new works for future Issues. Also, I am working on ramping up of my submission goals for my children's books, A Little Lost and A Spatula Story, and any other pieces for my current and past catalog of works. The only difference this time is I will only by submitting from a list of selected works and researching places where I think they would fit into, and then submitting those pieces to those places until I get a taker.. That is going to be a project in itself.

These are the things I started in 2017, and will manifest in 2018 and beyond.

I know that sounds like a lot, right? It is. But it is worth it. Will I fail? Sometimes yes. But other times I won't. I will always learn what to do differently, what new things to try, and document what I do.

If I get board, I always have some other project to work on. This year my podcast Quantum Highway is going to be recorded and released! More on that later...

"If you really want to do something; no one can stop you. If you really don't want to do something; no one can help you."
~James A. Owen

Please keep coming back, Dear Readers. Thank you for your love and support. Leave me a comment on what you are doing in 2018. What books are you reading, movies you have seen, projects or classes you are taking, etc.

As always, your devoted writer,

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Movie Reviews: Paddington and Lady Bird

I haven't written a full scale review in a loooong time, in fact I have watched two movies this past weekend that very much need to be talked about, Dear Readers. Update: I also saw Three Billboard Outside of Ebbing, Missouri, so that will be my next review.

First up is Paddington 2:

A sequel that stands on its own, but is also aware of where it comes from.  It is rare that a sequel is as good, or better than the original. Paddington 2 is the first sequel that you do not need to see the first movie to understand what is going on. In fact the only thing to really need to know is Paddington is originally from Peru and was sent to England by his Aunt Lucy. If you are familiar with the books written by Michael Bond or the stop motion animation TV series that began in 1976 then you are all step.

With that being said, I need to point out the the story for Paddington is a solid story, believable, but also just a tad bit over the top. As Paddington is a clumsy bear and a penchant of being over eager to help that lands him into some tight spots, but he means way and because of that he is the most well loved Spectacled  Bear in Windsor Gardens.

What's a Spectacled Bear?

A bear native to the Andes Mountains of South America, and if you didn't know it, Paddington was originally supposed to be from darkest Africa, but it was changed to Peru because bears don't live in Africa.

The story of Paddington continues with Paddington wanting to get Aunt Lucy a very special birthday present, a pop-up book of London. The problem is that the book cost $1,000.00, and the bigger problem is that book has been stolen and Paddington is now blamed for the crime.

The Brown's, they are on the case to find he thieve and Paddington is sent to prison where he meets Nuckels and share he's love of Marmalade with hardened criminals. The pop-up book and the little bear from Peru are on a wild chase to find adventure and the real meaning of friendship

For Paddington 2, they created a beautiful story about adventure, friendship, and accepting others even if they are different.

Hugh Grant is a stand out favourite. He is delightful and really makes his mark on the story. I think he had a lot of fun as Phoenix Buchanan and Jim Broadbend as the slightly forgetful but always helpful Mr. Gruber; of course Peter Capaldi was a personal favourite, reprising his role as cranky Mr. Curry. I thought the casting was solid for all of the characters, especially the Browns.

The animation was very fluid and I never felt that Paddington wasn't a part of the live actors, and the bit about the pop-up book with Paddington and Aunt Lucy was adorable and creative way to include Aunt Lucy into the story.

Paddington 2 is a must watch for both kids and adult alike. This is a movie that know no age limit, in my opinion, as there is something that anyone would get out of it.

Next, Lady Bird:

A coming of age movie about Catherine "Lady Bird" McPherson and her mother, Marion.

I loved the trailer for this movie, and because of that I needed to see this movie. It's such a real movie. There exists a place that is this movie and I felt that all of the characters were real people. The story was very real, relate-able story. That was what drew you into Lady Bird's world.

The story of Lady Bird is that she is trying to survive her senior year of high school at a catholic school, with dreams of leaving Sacramento behind, and going to school on the East coast. But there are the standard money problems, mother and daughter arguments, and the poor life choice that all teenagers must face from boys, dating, friends, and sex. All very real things that all of us have had to experience  in one way or another.

The writer of this fantastic story, Greta Gerwig makes you feel like you are living in Sacramento, CA in 2002, post 9/11, and at the beginning of the war of terrorism. A scary time for anyone, but especially for a teenager looking to spread her wings and go New York City. Saorise Ronan who plays Lady Bird is so convincing that you would swear she was an American teenager not an Irish actress, even though she was born in The Bronx and later moved to Ireland when she was three. I first encounter Saorise in the Vincent Van Gogh bio-pic, Loving Vincent, which is the first oil painting animated movie. She is also featured in Ed Sheeran's video, Galway Girl.

Also, you haven't seen Laurie Metcalf in a role like this, she is raw in to portrayal of Marion and her chemistry with Saorise and Tracy Letts as Larry McPherson (the Dad) is very powerful.

Greta Gerwig is an amazing writer and director, so I definitely want to see more of her work. So, go out and check it!

Friday, January 12, 2018

Kickstarter LIVE! (17 days to go)

It's official! I have a Kickstarter.

I am finally done with waiting around for things to happen. I am going to make things happen. Since 2011 I have wanted to take my writing and getting published more seriously. it was about that time I started submitting stories and poetry to online journals and some contests. I have received A LOT of rejection letters, a couple with constructive criticism (that was sweet of them), but nothing has yielded anything.

I kept trying though, although lately I have not been submitting as much.

It was last year that I realized that I needed to try something different.

First, I asked a fellow local poet friend if there were any local contests I could submit to. This resulted in twice having a selected (years 2016 and 2017) poem in two separate calendars  with featured local photographers.

Then there was a contest for a art and poetry called "The Sexuality Show"  (and The Sexuality Poems book) that featured local artists' work for a gallery showing and poems to be published in the aforementioned book on sexuality and gender. I submitted two poems for consideration. One was picked to be included in a book.

Talk about exciting!

I even got to read my poem at two separate poetry readings.

Talk about being nervous. I was going up against some really talented and well known local poets. But, I did it. And surprise surprise my fellow poets seemed to like my poem.

The story goes since 2011 I have been trying to submit poems and stories to various online journals, more in the last couple of years. The pile of rejection letters has grown. I felt that I wasn't getting anywhere. I was definitely getting discouraged. I was still trying, but not with the same exuberance.

It wasn't until I realized that I wasn't planning how I was submitting my poems and/or stories. I was being random in my selection of works, ad not being consistent. So, I started selecting certain works and kept submitting those. Again, more rejection and I wasn't getting anyway. I know rejection is part of the deal. Still its hard to not have my writing out there, which is the reason I became writer. I love bringing worlds to life, especially writing plays that get performed.

On and front, I wrote my first play in 2012-ish, and seeing this world brought to life spark something in me. Since then I have written seven or eight plays.

Sometime around 2013 I met my mentor in person, and something in that meeting and his words from his books spark and renewal. I started writing more, and after a while started concentrating on editing and revision of my previous writings. I had SO MANY already written that needed work and could be better and ultimately published.

But recently-about 2016 through 2017-the lack of progress and a shifting focus on what I what has made me realize that I am a good writer, a writer that deserves to be published. So, after I started on two new projects in 2017, I thought that maybe I can just publish my own works. I began taking my projects seriously; researching the independent publication of a children's book, courting artists, writing podcast scripts for a new story idea, courting a composer, and making plans for both of these projects. I have had to change my time tables a lot in the last year, but I am more confident and making more progress to making these a reality. I also realized that I could do a smaller Kickstarter and take some of my completed works and publish a literary magazine through crowdfunding.

What does this mean?

Well, 2017 was about developing ideas and editing/revising my work. 2018 is putting those ideas/projects into action.

I realized that you can never succeed if you don't try, and even if you fail in the process, you still learn something.

Time for action!

Introducing Here, There be a Writer's "Stories to be Told", my Kickstarter, which is live. I am hoping to raise $1,100 dollars to cover publishing costs and writer expenses to help launch my writing career.

Please have a look, maybe donate some if you can, Dear Readers. Share my little dream, so I can make  my dreams come true.

Thursday, December 28, 2017


So, long time, no see, Dear Readers.

Yes, I blame the holidays, but the fault is more in the lack of preparedness on my end. I am finally at a point where I want to DO something. I want to do something important. I want to make something happen. I am making it happen!

I am currently working on a project that I hope I can launch by December 31st, if not then after the New Year. It's a big leap and as of right now still SOOPER SEKRET! But I am still excited to be working on it.

I want to tell you, but, well I kinda like the suspense I'm building up here, so stay tuned for more details.

from MorgueFile

In the meantime...

I have seen a lot of  movies this year, and last year too, so maybe it's time to share a bit about those movies. Here are my top 10 movies from 2017 that I have seen in the theatre, and in no particular order.

1. Coco: Pixar nailed it when they made Coco. A movie that features music, actors, and a true message about finding your place in the world.

2. The Last Jedi: Mark Hamil taking back the role of Luke Skywalker, that and the friggin' adorable creatures, oh and the story is quit fetching too!

3.Thor: Rangorok: Without knowing half of the Marvel cinematic universe, I was surprisingly NOT lost. Two words, Holy Hela!

4. Loving Vincent: this movie is beautiful and the story is an interesting take on the death of Van Gogh.

5. Hidden Figures: history unwrapped and supported. A beautiful telling of the African American women behind NASA.

6. Wonder Woman: that is how you do a superhero movie, a FEMALE superhero movie. The Greek myth geek in me was pleased at the connections here.

7. Blade Runner 2049: this was the BEST space epic set on earth. Not an action movie, but a brilliant movie anyway.

8. Baby Driver: music and stellar shooting Also, Jamie Fox plays a phenomenal asshole,

9. Beauty and the Beast: with just enough new stuff to make it interesting and keeping with the feel of the original. Lefou,  Gaston, and Kevin Kline as Maurice are the strong favourites.

10. Wonder: not  just a sappy and tear jerker about bullying, but a fantastic look at how a whole family and friends are affected.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Review With Me: Murder League of the Justice Express

Murder on the Orient Express

I am an avid Agatha Christie fan. I have read about a dozen Hercule Poirot novels. He is my favourite of the Christie characters. There is something about the short little Belgian detective and little grey cells, what he calls his mental processes. He is a quirky little man with a mustache from here to forever who has the ability to solve crimes that seem to be unsolvable to others, like things just so, and tends to butt in where you think he doesn't belong.

Christie, herself, had ridden the Orient Express, and there were two cases where the train had been trapped, which led to Christie's inspiration. Of course the Armstrong case in the story/movie was inspired by Charles Lindbergh's baby being kidnapped and murdered in 1932. The Orient Express definitely proved to be a fertile story to be inspired by.

Kenneth Branagh plays Hercule Poirot, the Belgian detective who  is riding the Orient Express on route to the Armstrong case. He is tired and in desperate need of a vacation, but then murder happens. As time passes, Poirot finds out just how deep the Armstrong case goes and the lies leading to murder.

*Warning: Spoilers Ahead (maybe)!* 

We are introduced to the other passengers a governess, a doctor, a professor, a princess and her servant, an art dealer, his employee, and his butler, a woman nurse, a salesman, the Contessa and her husband the Count, a widow, the host, the conductor, and finally the detective.

The best part about this movie/novel, is that you don't really know what is going to happen, and at times even Poirot is frustrated with the case and the lack of cooperation of his fellow passengers. So, you as the audience is just as lost as the passengers, but then you start to realize that maybe someone is not all that honest.

This movie is beautifully shot, from down upon the actors, from the outside of the train, looking into the cars, at dinner, in the hallway, giving you the feel of containment and is creepy at times. The train is snowbound on a mountain pass, just before a tunnel, so they are as isolated as you can get, even when the railroad crew arrive to dig the train out. What struck me as cinematographic genius is that at every point you feel just and closed off, secluded, and stuck as the passengers.

As for the acting, well, it is an all star cast, featuring Michelle Pfeiffer, Derek Jacobi, Willem Defoe, Dame Judi Dench, Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz, and Leslie Odom Jr. Each one brings something to the movie. I was most impressed with Branagh, who while he changed up Poirot character, I felt that brought something different to the character.  Poirot wasn't frail, but he wasn't a master of badassery. Branagh gave Poirot a bit up fisticuffs and liveliness that I think makes him more interesting to a modern audience. I have discuss this with fellow Christie fans, and so far it isn't always in agreement, but when you adapt a movie, sometimes changes happen. Yes, there are those who will not like a Poirot who can chase after the assistant-who is trying to hide evidence of his transgressions-and get into a fist fight with him. But, I also don't see that as a bad thing, it made Poirot more relevant, and the movie more entertaining.

Also, something to consider, the book in question is much drier than the movie, so often director and screenwriters will change thing up to make a movie more engaging.

Favourite characters include Mrs. Hubbard (Pfeiffer), Dr. Arbuthnot (Odom), Hector MacQueen (Gad), , and Miss Mary Debenham (Ridley), all of whom are very convincing as their characters, whether caught is a lie, and refusal to answer Poirot's questions. For an ensemble movie, it is important to be able to have good working chemistry and this cast is stellar in their believable is hiding the truth about their identity (the Contessa), their real names (the Princess and the Widow), or their profession (the professor).

*Warning: Spoilers!* 

I will say this, I was glad that Johnny Depp was regulated to the role of body. While he is talented, ts movie is about the other characters and the movie is stronger because of it. And as a movie where ALL of the cast (except Poirot) is the murderer, it is important to have a strong cast.

Orient Express is a different mystery, because all of the characters are tied to the death of one man who killed one little girl. Yeah, that's a MAJOR SPOILER, but damn if it isn't ingenious of Christie to write a mystery that involves everyone as a suspect, and actually follow through with their guilt.

I very much recommend this movie for the mystery fan, Agatha Christie fan, or a fan of any of the actors in this movie.


Justice League

Having little knowledge of the DC Universe I had little prior knowledge to judge the following movie. I am rating Justice League the movie under the comprehension of the story, the acting quality, and the entertainment factor.

First off, I don't generally like Ben Affleck, and I never saw Batman Vs. Superman, so I am just reviewing Affleck as Batman for this movie. Affleck makes Bruce feel real, yes a real douchebag, but real. Someone who is haunted by his past, but also someone who is committed to doing the right thing.

Gal Gadot, as Diane Prince, well I was impressed with the Wonder Woman movie. She gave life to a beloved character and she took no shit in battle or in love. She was definitely a voice of reason in Justice League, but that is what it needed, someone who cares and will tell Bruce Wayne he is making a mistake. She is exotic and brave, but also afraid. That is something the struck me as different i Justice League, every single character (hero) is broken and afraid, yet their find a way to break away from their fears to fight Steppenwolf.

Okay, Steppenwolf, yeah, him, remember the big horny guy? I knew NOTHING about this character, and yet he was refreshing. I don't even know why. A big, bad guy, who wants to take over the world, the universe with the Mother Boxes. Okay, that was weird, the Mother Boxes/Unity? Can someone explain that one to me, please?

Every single superhero in Justice League (the movie) is broken and flawed, I love that, and that drove the story along and kept me interested in what was going to happen next. There was believably and growth to the character. Diane Prince is my favourite, but Arthur Curry, Aquaman is a close second.

One thing I wish that they had explain more, or at least gave more for the actors to work for the Flash and Aquaman, because they really spent a lot of time of Batman/Bruce Wayne, Wonder Woman/Diana Prince. Cyborg was detailed, but there were times where I think he could have been brought forward more. It didn't bother me that Superman wasn't fully in the movie, the plot didn't need him there until the end.

It is a solid movie, even though I know the critic have been hard on it, and the change in director, the re-shoots, and multiple writers were sometimes obvious. It was bad when I noticed Batman's scruff was in one shot and then not in the next, and then is switch back.

I like the combination of mythologies blended together, from Amazons (Greek) to Atlantians, spaceman (Superman) to mutants (The Flash and Cyborg). It reminds me of other books that combine and re-write mythologies. If you are curious, well, go and read The Chronicles of the Imaginaium Geographica by James A. Owen.

I recommend Justice League to anyone who like a good action movie. To the die hard fans to have rejected, I am sorry it doesn't fit with your universe, but I think it is still a strong. And as I said at the top of this review, maybe it is because I  know less of the DC Universe, but I still stand by everything I said before.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Halloween in School and Beyond

There are a lot of things about Halloween that make it a fun time of year. Most of it stems from Halloween traditions that I took part in in school. so, Dear Readers, let's take a trip down the Halloween lane...

I remember the joys of getting lots of candy that I cold horde over like a mini chocolate dragon. Or watching the spooky movies, of course back then the spookiest thing I watched was Halloween, which isn't that scary or Charlie Brown. But that doesn't mean I don't enjoy watching it every Halloween. There were the school Halloween parties and parade that made school a little less boring and a lot cooler when you could dress as Starlite (from Rainbow Brite) and eat cupcakes and candy all day, and there was no homework, usually.

I grew up in the era of the plastic costume. An idea that someone thought was brilliant and cheap with a plastic suit or dress (depending on the costume) and a plastic mask that was often hard to see through and VERY hot to wear for long periods. I don't have any pictures that survives of the costumes I wore in the time period, but here are a few that I scrounged from the internet.

I do remember wearing the She-Ra one, and I had the Starlite one year, and even needed patching in the arse end due to the fact that if you sat down too roughly, well, you ran the risk of blowing out your arse end.

She-Ra Princess of Plastic from 

There was also the free trick or treat bags the were given out by the schools a few days before Halloween. I remember that these bags usually had a few goodies tuck inside of the bag, like coupons for a free small French Fries or ice-cream cone from the local McDonald's, some reflective tape, maybe some stickers. Often the bags come from restaurant chains or local government.

Halloween in school also meant that you had to watch the safety videos, and there were two that circulated throughout the schools. The first one is the one I am most familiar with is this one. The best part is the riff that Horriffic Productions put out a few years ago, and they have become a staple of my yearly Halloween traditions. Those riff can be purchased at Rifftrax. They also riff various horror and spooky movies from Tremors to IT and Children of the Corn, all of which are worthy recipients to the riffing. Check them out! 

Halloween Special - It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown
Movie: Halloween 1 and 2 (it's like one looooong movie)
Scary Movie: The Haunting the original with Julie Harris.
Food: a good pumpkin muffin or homemade pumpkin pie.
Candy: anything chocolate.
Decoration: a pumpkin and orange lights.

My entryway lights...SPOOOOOKY!
My Pumpkin before going under the knife!
What do you like about Halloween, Dear Readers? Dislike?

I love getting to dress up as someone, or thing else.

I love any excuse to watch spooky scary stuff, even if I jump and get scared.

Tell me about some of your favourite traditions from both school and beyond....

Me as Cecil Palmer from Welcome to Night Vale with Khoshekh