Posted in Monday Mayhem

Being a Superhero

I’ve been thinking a lot about superheroes, what it would be like to be a superhero, what kind of problems superheroes face living in among us while the rest of us depend on them for our survival. I know it sounds silly to think about this stuff, especially during the winter when we’re all comfy and warm in our homes watching Jurassic World, or, for that matter, the first six episodes of Star Wars. The closest we can ever come with anyone saving us would be the cable going out, sparing us from previews of the latest reality show.

Chris Evans as Captain America
Chris Evans as Captain America

In all seriousness though, being a superhero must be a tough gig. Think about it. For instance, wouldn’t superheroes always have to wear their uniform under their normal clothes? What about capes? No one can tell me those fit under a shirt and unravel without a wrinkle. Who takes care of their dry cleaning? And in the case of Captain America, where does he put his shield when he’s not using it. A pocket isn’t large enough to stuff that thing.

Daisy Ridley as Rey
Daisy Ridley as Rey

Then there’s the family thing going on. Suppose you were a superhero and you also had a birthday to attend to but during the cake cutting ceremony, you have to scoot because you feel a great disturbance in the force. Wait a minute. I think I’m getting confused again with Star Wars. But, you know what I mean. What are you going to do? Do you change there at the party, or leave without mentioning it to anyone? What if you drove there with someone else? Does this mean you have to take the car, even though you can fly or run fast where you need to go. I’m sure you’ll get questions asking you about transportation. For me, it would be equally difficult since I live in a small town. How can I explain needing to go to the big city with our car?

Okay, let’s look at it from another angle. What if you live in the big city and you see a mugging. What will you do? Do you run to the victim’s aid, all the while revealing your identity to the perpetrators? What if you’re walking down the street with family and friends? Will you ignore them in order to fulfill your superhero duties? Again, you’ll have a lot of explaining to do if you were heading to see a movie.

As you can see, the logistics to superherodom is a nightmare. Oh, sure, I suppose you can look at the lives you save versus the inconvenience. But what if you didn’t ask for it? Let’s say you are merrily walking along and BAM! all of a sudden you’re a superhero? How would you feel about that? Even more so, how would you feel if everything you thought regarding of being a superhero is all wrong? I’m sure you’d feel pretty darn silly knowing you’d have to run around for the rest of your life in tights.

Well, I guess being a superhero isn’t all that thrilling after all. Maybe I should shoot for simply being me. My family already considers me a superhero anyway.

Get the Ranger Martin trilogy now!

Have you ever wanted to be a superhero? Ever wonder what it’d be like?

Posted in Freedom Friday, Other Things

Name That Tune

The kids and I have a game we play soon after finishing dinner. We don’t always play it, otherwise it would be boring and lose its beauty. Yet, occasionally, all of a sudden we’re into the game and it lasts a good long time thereafter.

Musical Staff
Musical Staff

The name of the game is Name That Tune, and for today’s Freedom Friday I thought I’d share the rules. Who knows, maybe it’ll start a new tradition in your house with those around you.

My family and I have many traditions. Some are meaningful, like the new ornaments we purchase annually for each of us to place around the house. And some are silly, like the fact we purchase new pajamas to unwrap every Christmas Eve in order to sit and look at each other in a weird and fulfilling way while the lights twinkle in the background. Okay, so maybe that’s not so weird, but you’ve got to admit, it’s fun.

I’ll add one more tradition for this time of year. We don’t get rid of the decorations until way past mid-January, including the model town we have sitting on the bay window. That doesn’t leave our sight until the snow melts.

I told you we were tradition-happy.

Jurassic World
Jurassic World

Nonetheless, another one of our traditions, mainly the kids and I have, we play at the kitchen table soon after dinner. It doesn’t happen often, but it happens enough for it to merit the moniker of tradition.

We play a round of Name That Tune. For those unfamiliar with the game, it used to be a hit TV show back a couple of decades ago when TV was less reality and more fun. In the show, the host would give contestants a clue then ask how many notes they needed to name the tune. It really was a battle of wits between participants.

In my family’s version, I play a theme song on my phone and the kids try to guess what it is. From there the song tends to spur conversation about our knowledge of the film, its actors, the production and anything else that comes to mind.

The other night we played the game and the theme to the new Godzilla movie made an appearance. The typical response was that of recognition but none of the kids could name the tune. Once they knew, though, they would soon never forget the song.

That same evening, I played the theme to Fast Fiveby the way, what a great theme—and my older child threw the guesses out there in quick succession while I refereed the game. “Is it a comic book movie? Is it an adventure? Action? Steve Jablonsky? Hans Zimmer? Michael Giacchino? Jurassic World? Transformers? The Fast and the Furious? 2 Fast 2 Furious? The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift? Fast & Furious?” By the time it was over, they went through every combination of the words fast and furious that we then realized how silly it was when filmmakers didn’t have a standard way of numbering their movies.

Overall, the whole idea of the game is to bring closeness to the family without making the game a burden. We have fun and, at the same time, we draw closer to one another while watching each other fail miserably, naming a tune we can’t recognize, but know the movie like it is one of our body parts.

Get the Ranger Martin trilogy now!

What traditions do you have in your family? Are they annual traditions or event-based?

Posted in Freedom Friday

Christmas Talk Already?

I wrote an entirely different post for today that I eventually scrapped because I felt the tone was not conducive to a positive atmosphere. My original post poked fun at the phrase “pay it forward” and it’d implied a message of performing good deeds with the expectation of getting something in return. Some folks call it reciprocation, but I have a better word for it.

Christmas Eve
Christmas Eve

In my world, I call it a transaction.

Anyway, after thinking about it, for today’s Freedom Friday I decided to talk about something else.

With winter right around the corner, it’s that time of year when I start thinking about putting the lawn furniture away, raking the leaves, and sealing all doors and windows to our house in preparation for those cold days when all I can see is my breath floating in the air. For some, autumn is over the day after Halloween. The Christmas lights go up. The carols play in the department stores. And the first snowflakes hit the ground.

It’s also the same time of year that many use to finish old or plan new projects. In my case, I look forward to this time as a way to draw closer to the family. Given I have such a stringent writing schedule, it’s nice to settle indoors and spend time with the people I love.

Christmas shopping season madness
Christmas shopping season madness

However, in the hustle and bustle of yearend, I’m eagerly anticipating one thing—Christmas shopping season. It may be a strange thing to think about, considering Christmas is a month away, but I actually love the buzz in the stores. As we get closer to that fateful period. Many of the game manufacturers wait until now to deliver their most prized treasures to consumers.

I know the film industry is on top of it. Who can deny Jurassic World hasn’t already prep’d the audience last summer with the subliminal suggestion that folks ought to offer the DVD or Blu-Ray as a gift under the tree? The whole opening sequence to the movie has Christmas in mind.

Then LEGO announced recently the company has a brick shortage and won’t be able to fill all its orders on time, in spite of opening new manufacturing plants throughout the world. I don’t know about you but Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without at least one LEGO set making an appearance. Isn’t there some unwritten rule about that? I don’t know.

Let’s not forget the crowds. Oh, how much the crowds make up the best part of the season. Elbow to elbow, everyone gunning for the last toy on the shelf. Is there anything else that can be so perfect?

Of course, I’m being facetious. The idea of driving around senseless to grab the last parking spot in the mall so that I can drag my butt into a store I never will visit again to buy a toy that in a year’s time will end up as part of a junk heap really appeals to me. Do you see me jumping for joy?

Okay, so maybe I’m not really looking forward to Christmas as much as I thought, but you can’t tell me it isn’t fun watching the season unfold into chaos. That’s the best part.

Nothing quite replaces the spirit of giving when everyone’s thinking about materialism.

After all, greed and fear is what makes the economy go around, especially during this time of year.

Get the Ranger Martin zombie trilogy now!

Are you looking forward to the holiday season? What are your plans?

Posted in Wednesday Warriors

Owen

Hunter. Trainer. Soldier. Owen fulfills the roll of the every-man. He leads by instinct and deals with problems in a way that is reminiscent of Indiana Jones. His only flaw is he cares too much, which leads him into situations that may cost him his life. That is a good thing.

Chris Pratt as Owen in Jurassic World
Chris Pratt as Owen in Jurassic World

Today’s Wednesday Warriors highlight is Owen (Chris Pratt) of Colin Trevorrow‘s movie Jurassic World. Spoiler free.

Years ago, when the idea took hold that science could spawn a dinosaur from DNA preserved in amber, it seemed like the most extraordinary Peter Pan fantasy anyone could ever devise. However, when John Hammond (Richard Attenborough), a rich investor, took the notion a step further and built an island off the coast of Costa Rica, giving birth to the lofty creatures, a dream evolved into reality.

That dream soon became a nightmare once life, in all its primal form, turned against its creator and transformed the island into a feeding ground. The Tyrannosaurus Rex reigned as the dominate beast and the food chain that sat dormant for millions of years awakened. Humanity was no longer at the top of the mountain.

Jurassic World's Owen
Jurassic World’s Owen

In 2015, John Hammond’s dream of a park that would spark the imagination of children everywhere comes to full realization. No longer should anyone fear the dinosaurs running amok among the people. Fences are up. Controls are in place. And millions of dollars pour into the pockets of the park owners. Only this time, there will be no mistakes to jeopardize human life.

This is where Owen makes his appearance. He lives alone, away from any form of civilization, preferring the comfort of jungle life. Rugged. Strong. He’d rather fight with the terrors of a Jurassic jungle than to get into a spat with a woman. At least, he knows he can win a few against prehistoric beasts.

Owen is also the voice of reason. Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard), the park’s delegated leader, may have a problem no one else can fix, but Owen knows level-headed decisions are the only way to go when things don’t make sense. In spite of resistance by others, and an overwhelming sense of duty, he doesn’t allow those in positions of authority to influence his natural inclination to get involved. He sees ten steps ahead before it’s too late.

Owen’s only flaw is his inability to step aside. It has nothing to do with courage or being a hero. He simply sees an opportunity to lend aid and can’t prevent himself from jumping in. It’s within his nature to do so, much like it is for carnivores to hunt and kill for food. They can’t help themselves.

And this is how Jurassic World begins—as a place fit for the whole family that soon looks to Owen for help.

Get the Ranger Martin zombie trilogy now!

Have you seen Jurassic World? What do you think about the main character Owen?

Posted in Freedom Friday, Photo Opportunities

My Vacation

A few weeks ago, I took a much-needed vacation. This means, other than the three articles I publish on my site every week, I didn’t write a word anywhere. I can safely say I enjoyed every moment, and I would love if I could do it all over again.

Ontario, Canada
Ontario, Canada (taken with my iPhone)

Instead of packing my bags and leaving this pleasant town I call home, my wife and I decided to stay local and host my mother-in-law for two weeks. Wow! What a great time that was. I don’t care what anyone says about mother-in-laws, mine is as cool as they come.

She’s eighty years old. When I suggested we all go watch Jurassic World in 3D, she jumped at the idea. She hadn’t seen a 3D movie since the Fifties where red and blue lenses made up the 3D glasses.

Her verdict? She loved the effects and the heart-pounding action sequences.

Okay, let me repeat what I said earlier—eighty years old, folks.

She also didn’t show any fear when I asked if she’d like to eat hot sauce on her food. She went all out and enjoyed it. In fact, you know what she said to me? She said, “I don’t know if it’s because I’m used to it, but the sauce is weak.” The hot sauce is the suicide chicken wing sauce I use to drown my meats in while I cook.

Ontario, Canada
Ontario, Canada

Apart from my mom-in-law visiting, I had a lot of time to spend with the family and hanging with friends. My kids had their yearend recitals at the performing arts studio they attended during the 2014-2015 season. Both came home with awards. My older one brought back the Most Improved Speech Arts & Drama Performer and my younger one took home the Most Outstanding Overall Performer playing Matthew Cuthbert in Anne of Green Gables. I kid you not folks, the audience was in tears for his portrayal of the beloved patriarch.

Greek Salad
Greek Salad
Greek Lamb Dish
Greek Lamb Dish

The other part of my vacation involved food—lots of it. We went to our favorite sushi restaurant gorging on all the succulent all-you-can-eat dishes we could consume. The joy of this restaurant is having the ability to eat what we want and sharing the dishes among each other. It’s great. My mom-in-law didn’t wince once. She had salmon sushi even after saying the thought of eating raw fish didn’t appeal to her. She’s courageous, I’ll give her that.

The other place we went to was our favorite Greek restaurant. I don’t think I packed in so much food in one sitting. I had a lamb dish that simply rocked my taste buds. If I die, can I request this to be the first dish I eat in heaven?

Lastly, I took time simply being in a quiet place to exist. I allowed the silence to fill my soul with peace, and I took the opportunity to soak in the calm. Incredible what happens when I do that. All of a sudden, life’s trials don’t appear so big anymore. They still are there but they in turn become little troubles I could work through to a resolution.

Anyway, that was my vacation. I’m hoping to do it all again soon, but first I have to get my next release out the door.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, on sale now.
RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale now.
RANGER MARTIN AND THE SEARCH FOR PARADISE, on sale October 20.

Are you planning a vacation soon? Where are you thinking about going to?

Posted in Wednesday Warriors

Jurassic Heroes

One would find it hard to talk about any of the Jurassic Park movies without delving into the heroes of the story. Although some may argue the true heroes of the series are the dinosaurs, some credit should go to the main characters for their resilience and fortitude for withstanding scene after scene of prehistoric mayhem in order to bring the beloved stories to life. As with all good stories, every hero has their enemy, and as much as this writer would like to reveal the secrets to Jurassic World, he will not. Instead, this quick study will focus on heroes from the past and of what makes their stories unique.

Laura Dern and Sam Neill in Jurassic Park
Laura Dern and Sam Neill in Jurassic Park

Dr. Alan Grant—From the first time the audience meets Dr. Grant (Sam Neill), a paleontologist filled with the wonder and amazement of a child, he proves his low-key demeanor cannot hide his dark side. When a young boy observes velociraptors are nothing more than six-foot turkeys, he breaks from the group to set the record straight. He explains raptors’ visual acuity is unlike a T-Rex’s in that the animal can see its prey regardless if it moves or not. He slashes at the boy’s belly in a mock kill and says, “You are alive when they start to eat you. Show some respect.”

Dr. Grant’s expertise in paleontology serves him well as he battles raptors in a game of intelligence for island domination. Once the chase is on, his main concern becomes the kids who he takes charge. His inclination of not liking children takes a backseat to his willingness to sacrifice his life for the little ones in Jurassic Park.

Jeff Goldblum in The Lost World: Jurassic Park
Jeff Goldblum in The Lost World: Jurassic Park

Dr. Ian MalcolmThe chaos theory expert who takes the role of the parent in The Lost World: Jurassic Park guides a team of hunters to capture the island’s grandest prize. His role changes once a double dose of T-Rex introduces real life chaos to the apprehensive theorist. Suddenly, his life is not all that easy anymore. As with Dr. Grant, Dr. Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) has only one thing on his mind—save his daughter from the jaws of the massive carnivore.

In the heart of the jungle, Dr. Malcolm uses everything at his disposal to elude raptors and anything else that seems to want to take a bite out of him or his kid. He has no limit to what he will do to protect those around him—even if it means he would have to give himself as bait for the others to make a clean getaway.

Dr. Alan Grant—In Jurassic Park III, Dr. Grant is back. In this iteration of the classic theme, although older, he hasn’t mellowed. He proves age means nothing in the realm of killer dinosaurs. If anything, he takes a more aggressive stance against those who have deserted him and his party on the island of death. His goal to get off the island becomes his anthem.

These are the Jurassic heroes of yesteryear. With every generation comes a new breed of dinosaurs. But with every generation also comes a hero willing to risk his life for the sake of others.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, on sale now.
RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale now.
RANGER MARTIN AND THE SEARCH FOR PARADISE, on sale October 20.

What are your thoughts about the Jurassic heroes? Do you have a favorite?

Posted in Monday Mayhem

Dinosaurs Vs. Aliens

Summer movies mean only one thing—aliens. This year it also means dinosaurs rampaging through the theater. Given Jurassic World‘s incredible cash haul at the box office, it’s a wonder anything has survived its carnage. Wouldn’t it be interesting if aliens and dinosaurs battle it out in one movie? I wonder what that would be like? Would you go see it?

Barry Sonnenfeld’s Dinosaurs vs. Aliens
Barry Sonnenfeld’s Dinosaurs vs. Aliens

For today’s Monday Mayhem, I would like to fantasize for a moment about a movie that I’d love to see at the theater. How does that old writer’s adage go? Oh, yes. A writer writes stuff they’d like to read. In this case, although I’m not a director, a movie I’d like to see would be an all-out battle between aliens and dinosaurs. Wouldn’t that be something?

How would such a movie start?

First, I’d like to see the amped-up dinos from Jurassic World make an appearance. It would only be fitting. Give the aliens ray guns to blast, make the dinosaurs impossible to kill, and what you’d have would be a film filled with intense battles, outstanding special effects and a crazy amount of science fiction to boot. Even more so, would the dinosaurs win if the aliens were the aliens from the movie Aliens? Try saying that fast three times.

The aliens from Aliens have acid for blood. If a dino bites the head off one of the aliens, the beast would surely choke on its own blood. It would be like it had slugged back a carton full of glass. Raw and tender doesn’t even describe the pain the beasts would feel.

How about making the film more fantastic? How about if the aliens were the little green men from another planet like in the movie Mars Attacks!? I’m not sure if the dinos would survive, but at the same time the beasts would have their paws full chasing after the little buggers all over the entire planet.

Since I’m throwing ideas out there to see what sticks, how about a movie that features the creatures from Gremlins? Talk about little annoyances. Remember what the three basic rules are for not producing a gremlin from a mogwai? Here they are

  • Never get them wet
  • Never expose them to bright light
  • And never, ever feed them after midnight

Imagine if you had a pool full of these creatures run after the dinos? I don’t even think velociraptors would be able to survive such an onslaught.

I can’t help myself—one more. How about a movie where Aliens and Gremlins face off in an ultimate death match to see who would go after the dinos?

Why limit it to a handful of velociraptors? Let’s throw a few thousand of these killer animals on an island to go after anything that movies. Oh, wait. I think that was the point of Jurassic Park III.

No matter, it’s always a great way to pass the time imagining about worlds teeming with fantasy.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, on sale now.
RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale now.
RANGER MARTIN AND THE SEARCH FOR PARADISE, on sale October 20.

What movie would you like to see made that no one has ever made before?