Posted in Freedom Friday, Other Things

More Games I Love Playing

When I’m not writing, I have a number of hobbies to keep me entertained. I enjoy photography, and if you’ve been a regular reader of my site, then you’ll know I get a thrill telling you about my love affair with capturing the right moment. I also enjoy food. Being Italian, I’ve come to appreciate the big Sunday meals at an early age. In fact, I’ve shared those things with you many times. I can’t deny it is one of my favorite things to do as a way to bond the family. And, along with all the other hobbies I have, I love listening to music. There’s nothing quite like having a song appear on a playlist to take me by surprise and change my mood. Tell me the theme Raiders of the Lost Ark doesn’t make you want to jump on a horse and conquer the world. Yeah, music, there’s nothing like it.

But of all the hobbies I have, the one that excites me, and keeps me focused for hours, is playing games. One quick game of chess on my phone is a great way to distract me enough to feel refreshed and carry on with my day.

I have a number of new games I’ve been playing that I thought I would share with you. I enjoy getting lost in these games, so they may not be for you. I do find, however, they are entertaining enough for a mention.

SimCity BuildIt
SimCity BuildIt

SimCity BuildIt—I discovered this game one weekend while searching for something to do between eating lunch and going to my kid’s recital. If you haven’t played any of those time-sensitive games, where you’re creating a farm, a town, or in this case, a city, then take this as a lovely introduction. The first thing you’ll notice with SimCity BuildIt is its incredible attention to detail. Sometimes, I simply sit back and watch as the scene changes from day to night. The building model is quick. You have to zone areas for growth, add electricity, add water, and, if you really would like your citizens to be happy, a park or two. The economics are in perfect balance with player expectations. When you build a residential neighborhood, you don’t have to wait long to see growth. The added city that comes with the game is a pleasure to watch come alive. This is a great game to pick up for your phone or tablet.

Card Shark
Card Shark

Card Shark—I’ve played many Solitaire games, but none quite like Klondike in the Card Shark universe. The game has many other card games, such as DrawPoker and MemoryMatch, yet I really do enjoy having that quick game of Klondike when I travel. Even at home, it’s a wonderful app to play until dinner is ready. I think my favorite part about this app is all its options to customize the playing field. You can choose from a bevy of card decks to play, different backgrounds for the table, and even go so far as to choose if you you’d like uniform or messy stacks for the deal and discard piles. And to top it all off, the game looks great. I have yet to encounter an app with cards that look as realistic as those presented in Card Shark.

Action Movie FX
Action Movie FX

Action Movie FX—Okay, so this isn’t a game per se, but I can’t resist getting enough of this app. It’s a film studio on your phone, complete with real special effects from well-known movies. The most recent version I downloaded has the little robot from the new Star Wars movie Star Wars: The Force Awakens as one of the effects to use as part of a clip you can capture yourself. The way it works is you shoot a video with your camera or tablet, process the effect with the app and share it with all your friends. The app makes ordinary shots hilarious, and equally funny when sharing it with people you know. For instance, one morning I took a video of my wife sitting at the table having breakfast while she was reading. In the clip, I then added the Star Wars robot rolling into the scene and blasting her in her seat. We couldn’t stop laughing at the ridiculousness of the scene. The app also has explosions, rocket and other robot effects to play with. I love this app so much that I do consider it a great way to spend a few minutes playing with it to see what else it can do.

I had a longer list of games to go through, but these are the one I like the most.

Get the Ranger Martin trilogy now!

Do you play games? What games do you play, and which game would you recommend I should play next?

Posted in Freedom Friday, Other Things

Family Day

During these dark days of winter, nothing quite beats the freedom we have to enjoy our indoor activities. In Ontario, Canada, we have a statutory holiday called Family Day, which is the third Monday in February. Yes, it is this Monday, in fact. My family’s typical use of the day goes something like this: I make a bucketful of sushi, we pig out, then we play board games until dusk. I have to admit, I’m looking forward to it.

Family Day
Family Day

I’ve always tried to make Freedom Friday to revolve around things that make me who I am in an effort for you, the audience, to understand that not all authors who write about zombies are half-crazed loons with a bone to pick on a society gone mad. Some of us, if you can believe it, walk on the right side of normal—depending on what normal is.

As I was saying, here in Ontario we have this awesome long weekend called Family Day. What do I have to do to convince you we don’t only eat, and play board games all day? Some of us—me—wake up at an incredibly late hour and lay in bed doing absolutely nothing other than enjoy the warm comfort of our bed. When I say wake up late, I mean eight or nine in the morning. Remember, I’m a parent whose kids have no concept of what sleeping in is all about.

Chess
Chess

That day is also when I can dedicate a large chunk of my time on productive activities. Like, chess. Have I ever mentioned I once won Second Place in the Eighth Grade Ontario Regional chess tournament? I say it in passing because I think it’s the most perfect game on the planet. I mean, here’s a game with the potential to provide countless hours of fun yet only a handful of folks know how to play. Most of my play nowadays is either on my iPod or on my Nexus 7. I have two different apps to satisfy my craving. Let’s not forget the other apps on my laptop. Needless to say, I get my fill of chess whenever I can.

Not any different from any other weekend other than for nostalgia, but Family Day also includes a movie. I say nostalgia because I’ll usually whip out a title I haven’t seen in a long time that would remind me of when I was growing up. A title like Raiders of the Lost Ark brings me right back to 1981 watching the movie in one of those big screen/big sound theaters. It may also entail my watching something like Terminator 2: Judgment Day where the film brings me right back to the cusp of my youth. Am I allowed to say, those were the days?

This last Family Day bit has to be my favorite. I’m talking about spending time with the family. The sushi, the board games mean nothing without someone to share. And share I do, with those I love the most—my family. Without a doubt, no matter how bad things may get, family makes things all better. Nothing quite compares to having them around to boost ego and morale. What would Family Day be without family?

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, now on sale.

Do you have a special day where you can splurge doing the things you like doing without worrying about time or responsibilities?

Posted in Monday Mayhem

Classic Films Zombie Style

I love action movies, and now that World War Z has proven the undead belong in Hollywood A-list films, I’m excited to see where the next crop of fast zombies will appear. However, the beasts shouldn’t show up just anywhere. Producers and directors should think about expanding the zombie universe by perhaps including these creatures in remakes of multi-million dollar hits. Yes, it’s a stretch, but imagine what fun it could be.

Obi Wan Kenobi Zombified
Obi Wan Kenobi Zombified

For my Monday Mayhem series, I’ve explored this idea before with my posts Classic Literature Zombie Style and Classic Literature Zombie Style II, adding the undead to such classic tales as Sherlock Holmes, Alice in Wonderland, and Romeo & Juliet.

Yet I’ve never done it with movies.

Do you see where I’m going with this?

Below are three movies I think would be interesting to watch as remakes with a zombie twist. No one can say no one has ever thought of this. Let’s have some fun!

Jurassic Zombieland—In a remote island off the coast of Costa Rica, the government is conducting experiments in dinosaur cloning. Preliminary successes yielded the birth of Triceratops, Apatosaurus and the formidable Tyrannosaurus Rex. But something goes horribly wrong. Human DNA accidentally creeps into a Velociraptor gene pool and the next batch of clones pops out as stillborns, half-dinosaur and half-human. Before scientists could purge the dead batch, the legion of Zombiesaurus spring to life, eat the humans then battle for island supremacy against the other dinosaurs. Who wouldn’t want to visit this as a theme park?

Star Wars: Attack of the Zombies—A virus is taking hold of the planet Naboo rendering all Gungans as zombies. When Gungan Ambassador Jar Jar Binks appears before the Galactic Senate, unaware he’s a carrier of the dreaded disease, he infects half of the senators. Palpatine, whose clear ambition is to wrestle control from the senate in order to become all-encompassing ruler, requests aid from the Jedi to eradicate the Gungans. While the Jedi are away, he proclaims himself emperor and uses the virus as grounds to destroy the senate with his newly formed clone army. All would have gone according to plan except for one thing—Palpatine himself turns into a zombie.

Indiana Jones zombified by MK Luis
Indiana Jones zombified by MK Luis

Zombies of the Lost Ark—On an archeological expedition to unearth the ark of the covenant, Indiana Jones travels to Egypt where he encounters an army of the undead ravaging Cairo. Unbeknownst to Indy, the golden idol he had stolen weeks before from a temple in South America carried with it a curse. Whoever possesses the idol ten days after its removal from the temple would have a zombie plague unleashed on him and all those in his charge. Indy’s arch nemesis, René Belloq, has fallen under that plague, and now is wreaking havoc throughout the Middle East. Will Jones find the Ark in time before the great apocalypse spreads further?

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, on sale October 22.

Do you have any other movies you’d like to see zombified? How do you like the idea of E.T. as a zombie?

Posted in Women Who Wow Wednesday

Marion Ravenwood

If there were a word to describe the dark-haired beauty Karen Allen played in Raiders of the Lost Ark, it would be feisty. I could have chosen fiery, but fiery gives the connotation she has a temper, something I’d attribute to any Molly Ringwald character from the ‘80s. No, feisty’s more like it. Besides, what better way to add another entry to my Women Who Wow Wednesday series than to feature the feisty love interest of Indiana Jones?

Indiana Jones' Marion
Indiana Jones’ Marion

The first time we meet the character Marion Ravenwood is in the movie Raiders of the Lost Ark. Indiana Jones, the adventurous archeologist, visits her in Nepal. Before he enters the scene, she has her hands full in an all-out drinking game. There must have been at least twenty or thirty shot glasses on her side of the table. Whatever the amount, she easily out drinks this burly beast of a man who passes out as a token to her win.

When Indiana Jones shows up, the smile on her face couldn’t be bigger. Long lost love. Past moments. Regrets. This is how it all went down:

Indiana: Hello, Marion.
Marion: Indiana Jones. I always knew some day you’d come walking back through my door. I never doubted that. Something made it inevitable. So, what are you doing here in Nepal?
Indiana: I need one of the pieces your father collected.
[Marion surprises him with a right cross to the jaw]
Marion: I’ve learned to hate you in the last ten years!
Indiana: I never meant to hurt you.
Marion: I was a child. I was in love. It was wrong and you knew it!
Indiana: You knew what you were doing.
Marion: Now I do. This is my place. Get out!

Feisty much? Never one to fold, Marion digs her heels.

Indiana: I can only say I’m sorry so many times.
Marion: Well, say it again anyway!
Indiana: Sorry.

Marion Ravenwood
Marion Ravenwood

Unfortunately, her bar goes up in smoke when a firefight breaks out between Indiana and the Nazis looking for the same artifact. Seeking payment for the destruction of her place from her former lover, Indiana becomes her new partner.

From there they travel to Tanis, Egypt where Marion finds herself threatened by a knife-wielding hood, is captured by the Nazis, attempts to escape, gets interrogated, is left for dead in an ancient Egyptian tomb with Indiana, fights a brood of snakes, escapes again (this time with Indy), and manages to thwart the transport of the ark to Cairo by single-handedly commandeering a plane and firing its machine guns on the Nazis. Whew!

This girl never lets up! Marion can find herself in the worst possible scenario, and no matter what, she’ll find a way to make it all better. Nothing seems to throw her in the dumps. She’s a fireball of energy. A spitfire of a maiden. A true-to-form overcomer. If anyone needs help, it’ll be the other guy because she’s the one who’ll cause the trouble.

Indiana Jones, you’ve met your match.

Ever see Raiders of the Lost Ark? What did you think of Marion?

Posted in Freedom Friday

Rain

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always loved the rain. The pitter-patter of the water on the ground. The smell of it in the summer just as it starts to thunder. I’m in awe to think after all this time the rain still excites me. That’s why I’d like to dedicate this Freedom Friday post to my favorite weather—the rain.

Overcast day at Peggy's Cove, Nova Scotia
Overcast day at Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia

One of my fondest memories of the rain takes me back to when I was fourteen. As a teenager growing up in the late seventies, early eighties, I enjoyed my place in high school as a student council representative, a wresting athlete, and a music fan. In my world, the biggest band on the face of the earth was Led Zeppelin. They were gods to me. The album Led Zeppelin III featured a song called Gallows Pole. Every time I hear it today, it brings me back to the instant I sat in my room for the first time listening to it. How can I forget that hot summer afternoon? The rain began to pound outside my windowsill. The thunder rumbled the sky. And here I was, listening to this song that starts off quiet but ends in a good ol’ fashioned, down home, country jamboree. I still get shivers whenever I listen to it today.

At that age, I also had my first job working at the city library. They hired me as a page. I never really knew what that meant. It wasn’t until I got older that someone told me a page is a gofer. Go for the books. Go for the librarian. Well, you get the picture. I spent most of the time putting books away. I digress. Late one fall evening, as I sat in my usual spot near the window sorting my books, the rain began. I stopped my sorting and just sat there watching. The traffic lights made a reflection on the street as they changed from green to yellow to red. People scattered to the nearest store looking for shelter. Where I sat, it was a carpeted bay window. I remember how peaceful it was to look at the water coming down in the middle of the street.

The Empire Strikes Back movie poster
The Empire Strikes Back movie poster

Seems I’m remembering a lot from those days. The major movies to hit the theaters were Rocky II, The Empire Strikes Back, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Saturday Night Fever. Not necessarily in that order. Saturday Night Fever especially gives me pause. When it came out, the guys who I’ve known most of my junior high year, the cool guys, all of a sudden liked disco. I almost choked on my saliva writing that. Yeah, it devastated me. Hard core Zeppelin followers turned from the fold to worship a dance craze where guys pointed their fingers in the air like they just didn’t care. Someone turn me into a zombie so I can go back in time and eat their brains.

You know what, though? The rain is good.

One fateful afternoon, when I worked for the school newspaper, I covered our junior high dance. The disco traitors, I mean kids, came in full force. They sported their polyester shirts and slacks, pointed black shoes, and their array of gold jewelry, enough to weigh down and beach a whale. You know what’s coming. As the kids trickled in, the sky turned angry and the water began to fall. Hard. Those kids arriving, being cool and all, dashed from their parents’ car thinking, it’s only a little rain. A few seconds is all it took. The finely greased hair turned to mush. The polyester shirts and slacks retained every ounce of water drank. And the kids? The kids were dancing to Disco Inferno, tossing water everywhere doing the John Travolta moves.

I love the rain.

What about you? Do you like the rain? Do you enjoy listening to the wonderful sound of water hitting the rooftop on a cold, blustery night?