Category Archives: Movies

Returning from That Summer Place

It’s almost back to school time here in southeastern Pennsylvania, which means the kids will be terminating their summer brain dumps, rushing to catch up on assigned reading and trying to remember how to convert improper fractions to mixed numbers. That usually means time for the grownups to start getting their acts together, too.

I admit that I’ve slacked off this summer in a few areas – writing every day being one of the biggest. But where spring has always been the traditional time of renewal for nature, back to school time is, for kids and adults, typically the start of something fresh. It’s an opportunity to establish new routines and actually stick to them because so many other scheduled events depend on things running smoothly.

Yeah, this summer my word count for Novel #2 has fallen off, but I’ve also gotten the chance to do some things that will help make that book better even though I’ve spent a few weeks not actively banging away at it. One of those weeks was spent at our family’s own summer place, this one deviating from past years by switching the Outer Banks of North Carolina for Folly Beach, S.C.

New places equal new inspiration, so in lots of respects it was a worthwhile trip. I’m hoping it ends up as a salable travel story for the freelance writing side of my work, and there are always little details I can pick up from somewhere new to add into a story. Plus, as someone who sets his books in South Carolina but is based full time in Pennsylvania, it’s good to get back once in a while and get in touch with the people you’re writing about.

It’s also been good to go down some roads in my own reading that I don’t often travel. I tilted more toward the fantasy side of things with Fran Wilde’s Updraft and delved into the world of the Mafia – particularly as it relates to Philadelphia and Wilmington, Del. – in Charles Brandt’s I Heard You Paint Houses (look for an upcoming story on Charles and the forthcoming film version of his book in September’s Out & About magazine).

Novel #2 includes more of a criminal enterprise subplot, so it was great to read Brandt’s book and get a window into mob life beyond that provided in the Mafia film pantheon of The Godfather, Goodfellas, etc. And it’s always interesting to see what styles other writers adapt. Wilde’s is lean and tight, which keeps her sprawling, world-building tale to a reasonable and accessible length. While I’m not creating new universes out of whole cloth this time around, I’m trying to keep things leaner myself, so reading other writers who can do so is a bit like taking a master class in how it’s done.

So, here’s to parlaying my non-writing experiences and unassigned summer reading into some good, solid work on Novel #2 once everyone in the house gets back to their school year schedules. It might not be lounging on the beach or by the pool, but there will be plenty of that again next year.

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My Rhode Island Geek Brothers and Sisters, You Have Failed PR 101

First off, I’d like to go on record as saying that I was a big ol’ geek long before I was a journalist, and I have the well-worn science fiction paperbacks, 1980s vintage D&D dice and former subscription to Starlog magazine to prove it.

But I sit here, at 46, as both (geek by birth, professional journalist since the age of 21), and from that somewhat odd point of view, I have to shake my head at the folks from Rhode Island Comic Con organization. Not only have you failed to understand what media coverage is all about, but you’ve also come off as little more that what those who mock you would cast you as: big crybabies.

Why the hubbub? It seems the people in charge of setting RICC’s press coverage policy forgot a couple of things. For instance, that we live in the United States of America, where a free and open exchange of ideas is held sacred, and a relatively unregulated press is part of that. They decided that as part of their press credential application, media organizations would have to promise to avoid “insulting or disrespectful comments and giving a bad image of the show.” As a result, the Rhode Island Press Association (indicated by the tweet above) has chosen not to cover the event rather than sign such an agreement. Continue reading

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In the Wake of Charleston, Waiting for Tomorrowland

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Wow – what a weird couple of weeks. A few major Supreme Court decisions that permanently turned things in the U.S. in a dramatically different direction, preceded by the tragedy of the Charleston, S.C., church shooting. The day of the shooting was hard for me. So hard for me that by 11:30 a.m., I had already decided to decamp from home and take my two kids to the movies.

Our choice was Tomorrowland, the Disney feature loosely based on the section of Disneyland and Walt Disney World that focuses on The Future. The film itself has been equally praised and panned, with detractors saying that it offers too nostalgic a view of the world to come because it focuses precisely on that Baby Boomer bang-zoom jet-pack-and-hovercraft ideal in which everyone would get along and we’d all be strolling around in shiny spandex unitards.

I’d spent the morning trying to wrap my brain around yet another mass shooting, this one in a city very close to my heart for a number of reasons. Continue reading

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Because It’s Monday, Classic ‘Star Trek’ Characters Rendered in Pixar Style

It’s hard to recall that there was ever anything wrong with Pixar, but anyone who watched the short subject Tin Toy, which preceded the release of Toy Story by seven years, knows that the studio’s animators had a LONG way to go with figuring out how to render the faces of anything other than children’s playthings. Honestly, the hyper-realistic baby from that brief bit of animation way back in 1988 still kinda creeps me out, and if I had viewed this first at a much younger age I’m sure the negative effects would still be rattling around in my subconscious. Continue reading

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Breaking: Live Stream of Today’s Big Announcement at Apple

Ah, yes … another gathering of the faithful Disciples of Jobs, raising their voices and rending their garments in preparation of  hearing what wisdom their benevolent overlord will pass down through his earthly intermediaries.

It’s quite sweet, really.

Oh, look. It seems this year’s gadget will be known as the iHeart.

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Entirely Biased and Totally Subjective Movie Review: ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’

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What is it about the beach that makes everyone’s attitude improve?

Think about it. Everything good in life seems a little bit easier when you’re breathing sea air and basking in sunshine all day. Conversations between strangers strike up more easily. People are more attracted to each other. They’ll let you pull into traffic in front of them. And movies … movies at the beach just seem to go down a little easier, make us a little happier and add a special highlight to what’s usually a week away from “real” life. And it doesn’t even matter that the only reason you were at the movies was probably because it was raining that day.

So it was the first day of my family’s annual beach vacation in the Outer Banks of North Carolina a few weeks ago. We arrived on Sunday, and Monday turned out to be a wash as far as sunning and swimming went. And really, it provided the perfect excuse for me to round up my son and assorted other cousins and siblings (along with my 70-something aunt) to see a movie I’d been a little bit more excited about than a 45-year-old dad probably should be. Continue reading

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May the 4th Be With You! Here’s some Star Wars-Themed Disco to Help You Celebrate!

As I constantly remind my children (and pretty much anyone under 30 who will listen) I was fortunate to appreciate the arrival of Star Wars in its perfect, undistilled and most innocent form – in the theater in 1977 when the first film (and A New Hope will always be the first film) hit theaters.

Along with all the other cultural touchstones brought on by the film and its two sequels, it’s often lost on the younger folks of today that Star Wars landed in the cultural consciousness smack in the middle of disco’s surge out of Studio 54 and into the American mainstream. So naturally, we’d have to have a disco version of John Williams’ iconic Star Wars theme music, along with disco-beat hand claps and awesome pew-pew-pew blaster fire sound effects in the background. Continue reading

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Funky Friday Goes to the Movies: A James Brown Biopic is On the Way

James Brown’s story + James Brown’s music + excellent director and a stellar cast = a couple of blissful hours in the cinema for this funkateer sometime soon.

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Your Morning Nerdgasm: The ‘Back to the Future’ Hoverboard, Brought to You by Doc Brown Himself

I can in no way vouch for the veracity of this, but the big names – included Christopher Lloyd – enlisted for this video make it pretty cool anyway. And really, who hasn’t wanted a hoverboard like the one Marty McFly had in Back to the Future Part 2?

So for now let’s just pretend this is entirely real and we can all soon zip around popping hover-ollies in front of those dorks and their “futuristic” Segways.

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