Writing is a lonely business. It is you and your words. Art is not necessarily the same and film making even less so. It’s very easy to look backward and see what might have been. It’s the sort of thinking that can lead down the dangerous path of tailoring your choices based on proposed outcome. I don’t want to think to myself, “If only I’d gone and done… then I’d have landed….” I want to focus on my work (such as it is) and keep moving it forward.

Having said that I am going to suggest you watch a documentary out there called Jodorowsky’s Dune. It is the story of a film that was never made. It is the story of a visionary. The story of somebody I don’t think I would ever be able to understand – or deal with. It gives you a glimpse into a place that feels like it was flat out bat shit insane. It shows us in hindsight that total failure isn’t always just that.

There was music. Magma (a band I’d never heard of until today) and Pink Floyd mixing up a sound track for a film.

There was art that – looking backward is the sort of thing to make your head rattle just a little – put Giger and Foss together for concept art. At this point most people recognize Giger from the Alien stuff, but you might not know Foss by name. IF you are a fan of science fiction at all, you know his art. Seriously – I love his work and I have for years. Go and see it at his site, I’ll wait. Yeah, his space ships and Gieger’s alien bio-tech looking stuff together as concept art.

Then there was casting. Actors – or people that would be actors. Envision this group; David Carradine (from around the time of Kung Fu), Mick Jagger (when the Stones were at the height of their popularity), Orson Welles and Salvador Dali. Can you imagine the insanity?

Combine all of the ingredients listed, along with a few others, and mix until you have DUNE. Yup, that Dune.

That is why I started by talking about looking backward. Jodorowsky’s movie was never made, but here we are forty years later talking about it and everything that might have been. You recognize the names of people involved, but you might not have recognized them if not for this project. Things could have been very different if Giger didn’t make the connections he did during that process. It really is a fascinating documentary.

There have been a number of other pieces talking about it if you’re interested. From the NY Times to Boing Boing this has captured a lot of attention. I would say it’s definitely worth watching if you’re any kind of creative or at all interested in the possibilities of what might have been (like many fans of science fiction I know).

I’m also going to slide this last thought in here for fans of the written word. I read a book called Night Film. The plot involves a film maker that has an almost cult like following that would actually move in to his mansion during filming. This film makes me think it is only genre (science fiction not horror) that keeps Jodorowsky from being that character.

So – creators out there – watch this and get inspired. Go with your vision. Try. Make it happen. To paraphrase something a friend of mine said to me, “You can’t epic fail if you don’t plan big”.

It has even joined a meme.

It has even joined a meme.

Weird Moon

Chasing the MoonChasing the Moon by A. Lee Martinez
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

When I started reading this book all I could think was, “This is just weird…”. IF that sells a book for you, you’ll really enjoy this one. There are a large number of odd moments that sound like they’re directly from a nightmarish subconscious or a kids cartoon – and sometimes both at the same time.

“You wouldn’t happen to have any Monopoly money on you, would you, Number Five?”
She shook her head.
“Damn. The mole lords are not going to be happy about that.”
He withdrew into his room and shut the door without another word.

I want to sum the book up in some way that’s better than that, but I don’t think I can. The level of acceptance of those things changes throughout the book, but as I think about it there really isn’t much in the way of “action” at any point. There are lots of relationships and oddness, but this feels more like a character study than anything else.

Having said all that, I like the characters and the setting was amusing. The book moved at a smooth pace and was a very quick read. It was light and fun and if you’re into odd (hearing Winona Ryder as Lydia Deetz in my head, ‘I, myself, am strange and unusual…’) then this book could be for you.

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Red Rising (Red Rising Trilogy, #1)Red Rising by Pierce Brown
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I was surprised to see this book on the Amazon list of 100 science fiction books for a lifetime. I wouldn’t have picked this book up on my own. I started it because it was one of the monthly selections from Watch The Skies. I’d say cover art would have helped, but I’m not sure what the picture would have needed to be (as it related to the story) to draw me in. There’s a lot that goes on inside the character’s head.

I bogged down in this book very early on. At the time of the meeting/discussion at the group I hadn’t made it past the main characters physical transformation. Many at the meeting said it became significantly more violent (and perhaps less interesting) after the transformation was complete.

I almost gave up, but I decided to see exactly what “more violent” actually meant. They were right – I’ve read some military fiction that didn’t contain the one on one kind of violence that was displayed later in this book. That didn’t bother me. The military / training exercise portions of the story are what carried me through to the end.

I understand why the book ended the way it did – and it is an end – but I’m not sure I’m drawn in enough to keep going in the series. I don’t overly like the character. The world building left me with questions that I’m sure would be answered but that alone won’t carry a series for me. It’s very important, but doesn’t stand alone.

In all I’d say the book was “OK”. I’m saying that here specifically because a 2 star rating (with the little pop up that says “It was OK”) makes it sound or feel like I actively disliked the book and that is not the case. In the end I think I was ‘whelmed’ – no over or under, just ‘whelmed’.

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Old or Modern?

Watch out – going to geek out a little on architecture for a minute. This is my day job and I don’t often have the two cross over as there aren’t many folks I know that enjoy talking about the specifics of the built environment the way I do.

Someone I know professionally bemoaned the lack of diversity in architecture these days calling most of what is built “little beige boxes”. While I do not think he was wrong, I also don’t think he was right when he placed the blame on technology.

Is it true that a lot of the art of the drawing has been lost since construction documents moved to more technology based tools? Maybe. I’d say it’s a matter of opinion – and my opinion is that the art doesn’t go away if you’ve got a skilled operator. If you saw a really ugly cabinet, would you blame the hammer or the cabinet maker?

The old / cool architecture that was pointed out as the art we have lost was the Apennine Colossus in Italy. Setting aside all questions of accessibility and other code related issues that are a constant with modern day projects – I would love to work on a building like that. Make a fireplace where the smoke is channeled out the giant’s nose? Awesome.

While it might not be my taste, it’s not that interesting and amazing structures aren’t being built these days. Take Kunsthaus Graz for example. It’s a giant alien blob and has a host of cool modern things going for it. Built in the early 2000s it looks like an alien just dropped in to say hello and decided to stay. I can only imagine the technical difficulties associated with trying to create the working drawings for that building.

The question is – what sort of amazing building would you like to see?

The Last Witch Hunter + other movie news

I had the chance to go and see The Last Witch Hunter on opening day, so I took it. Headed to the theater early, got a great seat and started munching pop corn. IF you want to munch pop corn and have some cool visual stuff up on screen, this movie is good for that. Very visual – and I’m a visual person so it really worked for me. This movie is not deep, nor does it pretend to be anything other than what you’d expect. Vin Diesel really seems to be enjoying this role and all of the other things attached to the movie by extension. I liked it and I will likely grab the DVD when it comes out just to be able to go back over the scenes at the witch’s bar. Very, very cool stuff in there. I won’t spoil anything here – but there is a small twist. It didn’t have much set up and wasn’t particularly meaningful because it lacked set up, but it still gave a gratifying result. I’m forced to agree with Charlie Jane Anders – this will be a guilty pleasure film. Check out her review here.

One thing this movie did negatively impact for me was how I felt about a heavily produced role playing session that Vin filmed (along with others) – vaguely related to the film. Shocker, he plays a witch hunter character. I initially passed it along to friends, but the longer I go the less I like it. The “production value” is what really puts me off to it. It’s way too produced to make me think it’s anything other than a half hour movie commercial and I hate that because I know Vin is a role player and has noted many times in many places that he has a soft spot for Dungeons and Dragons. It’s a commercial. There, I said it. Why did they cut the scenes where there was out of character conversation? That’s where the real joy of playing can be found.

Now – IF Vin were to take his love for role playing and the seriousness and visual style of Last Witch Hunter and combine that into a Dungeons and Dragons movie I’d go see it. There are rumblings of another D&D movie out there, but those rumors do nothing but worry me. I want it to be done as seriously as Witch Hunter and not put comedians in key roles.

Continuing with the “other movie” stuff, I saw a report that said Johnny Depp is in talks to produce and star in a movie version of “Fortunately The Milk”. All I can say to that is PLEASE DON’T. Don’t get me wrong – I like Mr. Gaiman’s work. I love that story and have read it to my daughter a bunch of times. She loves it and reads it on her own these days. The problem I have here is that it’s a very short story. IF they had said they were making a half hour animated special then I would be thrilled. It’s just the right length for something like that. Put it on every year in September or something (the same way we get the Great Pumpkin around this time of year) and it would undoubtedly live forever. It’s just not enough for a feature length film. Doing that ventures into “Grinch” land and that mess with Jim Carrey still makes me mad.

Get some pop corn. Go see Last Witch Hunter!



I was genuinely surprised. I got an e-mail with an invitation to be a participant at Philcon.

I was surprised on multiple levels – not the least of them being that I have no new work out this year. Not that it’s a requirement or anything like that, just that it was a thought stuck in my head. I wasn’t looking for or expecting this invitation and it’s a really good feeling to have gotten it.

Sadly, I have also been lacking in my promotion of local conventions.

YOU SHOULD GO TO PHILCON! Head on over to their page and check them out!

I know there are some folks who are hesitant to attend conventions for whatever reason. I can say you will meet some excellent people there. I always look forward to these things. I almost always have an amazing time. This is a place where stories are born. Don’t believe me? Read this from last year: Defend The Pizza!


100 From Amazon

Amazon posted a list titled “100 Science Fiction & Fantasy Books to Read in a Lifetime”.

I know why people put lists out there. I often find them lazy attempts to fill blog space that would otherwise have nothing to say, but from time to time the infamous ‘they’ find one that resonates with me – and that’s why they do it. They want you to react. The more you react the more people you know go there to see what all the hubbub is about (and the more traffic they get the better the odds of making money).

I couldn’t resist this one. I went there and checked the list out.

I can certainly say I hope when the list is complete you’re not expected to be done with your lifetime. The editors based these choices on personal favorites, vision, character creation and other traits. I looked over the list and broke it down because I really wanted to know. Here’s how the numbers went:

I’ve read 50 of the list. Going back to my fear, that would make me halfway to ‘finished’ and I don’t think I feel good about that. I was a little surprised it was that many, but also a little surprised it wasn’t more. Of the 50 I’ve read there were only 3 that I really hated. I can’t say they shouldn’t be on the list, just that I hated them. That’s around 6% that just didn’t work for me and that’s not bad. The rest were stories I was OK with, liked or really loved.

I expected to see The Hobbit on there, and it was. I didn’t see anything by Morcock (Elric stuff) and was surprised by that. I wouldn’t have liked it particularly, but I expected it. I saw the Thomas Covenant stuff on there and I despised that first book. Still do, but I understand why it’s on the list. It was nice to see such a variety of good stuff.

Of the other half – I’d already had 14 of those titles on my “to read” list. I added 17 more based on this list. That puts me at 31 ‘to read” and that will be 81 of the 100. Not shabby. What about the rest?

In among those titles were a dozen where I’ve seen the movie adaptation. There’s a fair argument to be made that I should read those books – and I might. The problem is that while I know intellectually the books are likely far better than the film adaptations, I can’t bring myself to put those up on the list of “to read” until I’ve plowed through all the rest of the ones that I don’t know anything about yet. Should I rush to read Dune? I’ve seen a movie version and part of a television version and I know what those showed me. Do I want to dive into that series? I’m not sure. I’ve liked the other stuff by Herbert that I’ve read (yes, there are other things) but I’m not rushing. Will I ever get there? Maybe.

If you’re like a lot of my friends, you’re thinking to yourself – that still only gets us to 93. What about the other seven books?

OH – those seven. Those are the books that I’m just not interested in. There are various reasons for this and I won’t go into them all but I will give you an example or two. Handmaid’s Tale by Atwood – not interested. She’s had negative things to say about science fiction as a genre in the past and it turned me off to her and her work. Not going there – don’t care how good you think it is. Game of Thrones books – not interested. Yes I tried them. Yes I tried the show too. Martin chucks a child out of a tower in the first chapter. Yeah, I know he lives. Those people suck and I don’t want to read about them. I like people I can root for and I haven’t found a character in there I like. I know how stupid popular it all is. Still not going there. Are there other things by Martin I would read? Maybe. I’ve heard his new book is set in the same world but earlier. I’ve also heard that his Wild Cards stuff is really good.

There is it – the full 100. You should go and check out the list. I’d like to hear where you land in the count and if you shared a similar breakdown.

OH – and I still recommend this one as a fantastic start to a great series:

Storm Front


I really like this little film. It’s only about 6 minutes long but somehow I’m drawn in and interested. There are no words and it’s all in black and white. It’s not as deep or I’m not as connected as I was with Wall-e, but it’s the same idea. Story telling that is at the core something that will draw you in. What do you think?

The Last Goodbye

I will also check out more of the music from Pilotpriest.


Nobody Gets the Girl (Whoosh! Bam! Pow!, #1)Nobody Gets the Girl by James Maxey
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I don’t know that I would have picked this book up if it were not for WTS. I have stalled on a couple of things I’ve been reading lately but this book certainly didn’t have that issue. I bought it Thursday afternoon and had it finished by Friday afternoon. It was fast.

It actually felt like I wanted to see it as a graphic novel, not a novel. There were parts that felt like they were full page panels.

I came away from the story wondering if I liked the hero or not. I think he’s got a lot going for him, but he’s also got a lot going against him. He starts as a regular guy and ends up working with comic book style characters to “save the world” but he’s also a murderer. I look forward to a discussion about this one.

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