Atlanti-Con 3, my thoughts

Well it’s October, the leaves are turning, it’s getting colder and it will soon be Halloween but for now my thoughts on Atlanti-Con 3 at SWGC in Corner Brook.

I could tell as soon as I started to set up my table that it was going to be a great weekend. I showed up early (setup time was 6pm and I was there before 5). Jeff Keeping was there already (like always), welcomed me and said to come back in a hour. So I came back later as soon as I arrived Angela Street and Katherine Gallant came to offer help with some of my heavier boxes. Their friendliness and desire to help was much appreciated and helped me to shorten my setup time. I should say at this point that all of the volunteers and organizers (who are volunteers too I’m sure) did an excellent job with every aspect of the convention.

I’ve been to conventions where my name tag/table where not even ready when I got there but Alanti-Con was 100% prepared and organized, I also highly admire and appreciate that. My table soon set up I headed off to dinner with my wife Friday night, looking forward to the next day’s festivities.

I haven’t mentioned Fat Apollo (Mike McCluskey), he did the opening and closing ceremonies (and was a guest, along with doing a panel). He is always funny, has a ton of great stories and great to hang out with. After a good time at the opening ceremony I hurried back to my table for what turned out to be a brisk day of sales. I won’t get into numbers but it was one of the best conventions $ wise I’ve had in years. As usual I found that comics and Magic cards do better than my novels (the fact that book 3 isn’t out yet probably hurt sales a little as well). Saturday night I went to Mike’s panel (which was really funny and well done) and went to a movie with Joanne. I’d also like to say here that I appreciated being invited to King Henry’s Pub that night to hang out with Jeff, all the volunteers and guest but I’m a man of my word, I promised that I would take Joanne to a movie and this was the only night for us to go (we saw "The Equalizer" if you’re curious and it was good, I’ll post my review of it soon). Looking back I do regret not talking with Cara, Robert and the other guests but there’s always next year and I did get to hang out and drink with Mike twice (King Henry’s pub is a nice spot).

Corner Brook is a beautiful city, I love the walking trail that starts right at the hotel I stayed at (Glynmill Inn) and I made good use said trail walking to the con (which was held once again at Sir Wilfred Grenfell campus) Saturday and Sunday morning. My hotel was only a 10 minute walk to the con, so it was good exercise and not too far.

I’m lucky as here’s the view I had from my table

012  I forgot my camera so I didn’t take a lot of pictures (these were from my iPad) but as always I loved to just sit and watch as cos-players go by. I got to talk with lots of cool people and had one woman ask to take my picture (which was a nice ego boost). I also had a chance to chat with Scott Bartlett (fellow author) and Matthew Ledrew (author and owner of Engen books) I had one kid (he looked maybe 8 or 9) come back to my table 4 times for comics and other people come back for Magic cards several times.

This year there was plenty of food selections (including sandwiches and delicious cookies and cupcakes) plus the fact that it went to a good cause (Scaredy Cat Rescue) made it twice as good.

Security (both campus and volunteers from the con) did an excellent job and were friendly, I always felt my table’s contents were perfectly safe. Also I loved the constant power point (I assume that’s the program) screens that ran on monitors to give people info about the con (and let them know I was upstairs) and was very pleased with the ad I paid for in the program booklet. Jeff came around several times to make sure everyone was doing well and said he would make an effort to get people upstairs to authors/artist alley.

013   Let’s move along though, as with all the conventions I’ve been to, Sunday is the slower day. That was fine as it gave me the chance to pick up an excellent deal on comics (you can’t do much better than 50 cents each!) and a fat pack from the latest MTG set. Arlene Keeping (Jeff’s wife and the treasurer) came up around 3:40pm to tell us the closing ceremonies had been moved up to 4 (from 5). My last customer showed up a little before then and I was happy to pack up and head downstairs.

015  The left is the one picture I took of someone in costume (as Daenerys Targaryen of course). For a look at lots of other great pics, have a look here.

So it’s getting late here and I’m tired, to wrap up a great con, tons of fun, lots of sales, great people, fun guests, good panels, well-organized and a lovely spot. I have heard that next year will be the Pepsi Center, I’ve never been in the place but I trust Jeff and the gang to pick the best location. So to Jeff (who I’m fairly certain will read this) thanks for a great con, all your hard work continues to pay off and here’s hoping for next year to be bigger and better. Oh and I’m happy to give money so you DON’T dress up as slave Leia, I think that’s something everyone can agree on ;) Great job everyone, as always a pleasure to be there, I’ll be sure to attend next year and I’m sure that will be a great one as well. Until next time (which will be a movie review)…

Atlanti-Con 3!

Hi all,

So it’s that time of year again, late September and I’m soon off for Corner Brook and Atlanti-Con! This will be my 3rd year going out and I always have a great time.  Jeff does an amazing job organizing (along with all the other great volunteers) and this year will be better than ever.  As per usual I’ll be selling my two vampire books (third one will be next year hopefully, see this post on why).

NewfoundlandVampire2-coverFRONTNewfoundlandVampire-coverFRONT700.jpg  Aside from my books I’ll also be selling some Magic cards, comic books and giving away free candy! (until I run out). Also this year I can take credit cards through my iPad (technology can be great) along with cash. If you’ve never been to Corner Brook you owe yourself a visit. It’s a lovely little city with a great walking trail, great restaurants and some amazing views.

A few of the great guests this year include:

ApolloFat

Fat Apollo (Michael McCluskey), I’ve hung with him now lots of time and he is hilarious and great guy. He gives great advice and always has great sweets with the proceeds going to charity!

RobertAxelrod

Robert Axelrod (Lord Zedd from Power Rangers).

CaraNicole

Cara Nicole, cos-player extraordinaire.

I could go on and on but I won’t. Instead check out all everything you need about the schedule, guests and vendors at Atlanti-Con, this year they even have an app, how cool is that? I’ll be there all day Saturday and Sunday (September 27th and 28th) and I’d love to see you there.

Movie Review: Rush

Details from IMDB:

Rush

 

Rush (I) (2013)

123 min  -  Action | Biography | Drama  -  27 September 2013 (USA)

Ratings: 8.2/10 from 183,716 users   Metascore: 75/100
Reviews: 393 user | 369 critic | 44 from Metacritic.com

The merciless 1970s rivalry between Formula One rivals James Hunt and Niki Lauda.

Director:

Ron Howard

Writer:

Peter Morgan

Stars:

Daniel Brühl, Chris Hemsworth, Olivia Wilde | See full cast and crew »

Initial Thoughts:

Since "Thor" (and I also remember him from J.J. Abrams "Star Trek") I’ve been a fan of Chris Hemsworth, so that combined with my usual source (IMDB for ratings) and we decided to watch this.

Main Points:

I’ll freely admit I’m not a fan of car racing, I’m just not a sports fan at all (except for any kind of boxing/kickboxing/UFC deal, I’ve always been fascinated with martial arts and combat) so I had no idea who Niki Lauda or James Hunt were, which I guess was a good thing. Chris Hemsworth does a good job here as the partyboy/daredevil race car driver, James Hunt, who dreams of making it big and loves to take chances. While Daniel Brühl plays Niki Lauda, a much more straight-laced/serious/less chancy racer who approaches things almost scientifically and is determined and passionate about racing.

The result is an interesting (and sometimes exciting) movie that goes on a little too long for my taste. Perhaps if I was a fan of Formula One racing I would have enjoyed it a little more. The races themselves do look excellent and Niki and James are presented in equal light as fully realized characters (I know they’re real people, it’s just an expression for this review).

Final Thoughts:

I enjoyed this film and I give it 7.5 out of 10. I’d certainly recommend it to any racing fans or to anyone who likes Chris Hemsworth, I would not recommend it for children as it does have sex scenes, violence and some hard to watch moment with Niki’s time in hospital.

There’s gonna be a change of season…

Hi everyone,

It’s been a little while since I did a more personal post. As the title says it seems like time as summer is turning into fall (at least here in Newfoundland, we’ve already had frost and I’m wearing long-sleeve shirts and sweaters). And yeah the line comes from the Robbie Roberston song "What about now?" (really great song if you haven’t heard it). I don’t know about everyone else but summer is by far by favorite time of the year, longer days, warmer weather, quiet days at work (for me anyway) but it’s almost over. So this summer I made a decision, I decided to leave Penumbra Publishing. I won’t get into the reasons, I’ll just say I think it was the right choice for me. We parted on good terms (Pat, my former editor, is amazing at her job and a great person) and I even have a short-story published with them!

AGFL20 Walter Knight invited Penumbra authors (and I hope he’ll continue to invite me now that I’m no longer one) to submit a short-story to him (and he to Pat) and over a year later, here it is! "Robots" is my first short-story published and I’m proud of it. It’s a tale of a dark future with a lot of humor (and some sex) thrown in. It’s certainly not for children. So if you’d like to help out Walt (and read my story) you can purchase it here.

So what’s next for me? Well obviously my third book in "The Newfoundland Vampire" series The Gathering Dark won’t be out for a while. I have submitted a partial manuscript to another publisher (I’ll tell you who once I have something more concrete, plus I’m not sure if that’s bad form to say). I will say, though, that I know one of the editors at this publisher and she was kind enough to write me a letter of recommendation. So hopefully that will increase my chances of a contract substantially.

In the meantime I’ll continue to work on a play version of my first book "The Newfoundland Vampire" and of course do one of my favourite things, go to a convention!

AtlantiCon3

This will be my third year at Alanti-Con and it’s been a lot of fun so far. It’s in great, open and bright area and is very well organized and lots of fun. This year I’m a vendor and aside from making some $, I enjoy catching up with people I only see at cons, maybe attending some panels and of course the always amazing costumes. Jeff Keeping (the man in charge) does an excellent job as does all the other volunteers. He is always open to suggestions and has been making Atlanti-con bigger and better every year. I also have to say Corner Brook has some delicious restaurants and a beautiful walking trail. I’ll be selling copies of book 1 and 2 of my series along with Magic cards and a small collection of comic books. So if you’re in Corner Brook the end of the month I’d love to see you.

Aside from that I’m looking forward to my shows being back on TV (including a bunch of new comic book ones like Flash, Gotham and Constantine) and to a trip Las Vegas/L.A. and Ottawa. (Not having kids has advantages!) I’ll also get to see Fleetwood Mac, a band I’ve loved for years (and yes with Christie McVie). So I’m tired and I don’t want to bore you. Here’s to a great fall and I’ll post one or more movie reviews this week, cheers everyone!

fleetwoodmac

Movie Review: Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

Details from IMDB:

SinCity2

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (2014)

102 min  -  Action | Crime | Thriller  -  22 August 2014 (USA)

Ratings: 7.3/10 from 4,283 users   Metascore: 44/100

Reviews: 24 user | 7 critic | 36 from Metacritic.com

Some of Sin City’s most hard-boiled citizens cross paths with a few of its more reviled inhabitants.

Directors:

Frank Miller, Robert Rodriguez

Writers:

Frank Miller, Frank Miller (graphic novels)

Stars:

Mickey Rourke, Jessica Alba, Josh Brolin | See full cast and crew »

Initial Thoughts:

Anyway who reads my movie reviews knew I would see this movie, unless the reviews are terrible I generally see every comic book movie I have any interest in. Since I saw the first one, (and the reviews for this were okay) I decided to see the second. Of course the fact that several fine looking ladies had some impact on my decision as well ;)

Main Points:

As with the first one the movie is done in a very stylized way (black and white with splashes of color and a very comic-book type feel). There is plenty of nudity (though strangely none at the actual strip club), lots of action and tons of gore (as per the first). Why the first one was creative and inventive, this one seems a little stale using the same tricks again. With that said I enjoyed seeing these characters brought back on the screen (I’ve read all the comics and enjoyed them) and everyone does a decent job acting wise.

There are some weird things about this movie though, why is Nancy (played again by Jessica Alba) never even topless? Normally this wouldn’t be an issue but she’s an exotic dancer! This just seems very unusual (and I suspect just a part of Alba’s contract). Also why do they never show anyone totally naked? I know this makes me sound a bit pervy but it was in the comics and I’m a purest (to some extent), it’s just weird. Oh and of course it goes without saying, Eva Green, HOT! She is creepy and evil in this movie but damn sexy (and yes I’m aware in some sense this a very GUY movie, most comic books are still written this way).

The movie has two distinct stories and once the first one ends the second feels a little forced, I mean you knew it was coming but I have to admit that for a fairly short movie (102 minutes) I still felt bored at times. The movie reminded me that while Frank Miller has done some amazing stuff, he’s not the best at dialogue and his stories can be a bit repetitive. 

Final Thoughts:

So I enjoyed this movie but the first one was a lot better. Be prepared for some truly cringe-worthy/gory scenes and a few blurry 3D spots (for the most part though see this movie in 3D, it does look good 90% of the time). Don’t bring children (or even anyone under 17!) but if you enjoyed the first, I’d recommend this with the reservations noted. 6.5 out of 10 from me, next will be a documentary review. Have a good one all!

Movie Review: Guardians of the Galaxy

Details from IMDB:

GOTG

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

121 min  -  Action | Adventure | Sci-Fi  -  1 August 2014 (USA)

Ratings: 8.7/10 from 118,506 users   Metascore: 76/100
Reviews: 466 user | 216 critic | 46 from Metacritic.com

Light years from Earth, 26 years after being abducted, Peter Quill finds himself the prime target of a manhunt after discovering an orb wanted by Ronan the Accuser.

Director:

James Gunn

Writers:

James Gunn, Nicole Perlman, 2 more credits »

Stars:

Chris Pratt, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper | See full cast and crew »

Initial Thoughts:

Come on, you know I see every Marvel movie the past few years (why wouldn’t you?). So there was no chance I wouldn’t see this. After one failed attempt (it was sold out) I bought my tickets ahead of time and spent $62 total (it’s expensive as all hell here to see a movie with snacks in IMAX) and went. It’s worth noting that even though I’ve been reading comics about 25 years I can honestly say I’ve read 1 Guardians of the Galaxy comic and had almost no idea who these characters where (except from the previews).

Main Points:

Where to start, this movie is excellent! Right from the start I was smiling and laughing. All the characters are great and there’s some really good acting. The special effects at times were excellent and the music is right up my alley (I’m a fan of music from the 60s-90s almost exclusively). It’s the best movie I’ve seen Vin Diesel in for quite a while (probably ever) and I thought Michael Rooker (who has a smaller role) also did a great job. There are nods to other Marvel movies and characters and of course wait for the very end with not one but two bonus scenes (the last one is maybe the best part of the whole movie).

As I think of  myself as some kind of critic I do have to point out some minor problems. I found that with IMAX 3D there were several moments (5-6 of them) where the screen got blurry on the edges. This could be the fault of the cinema I was in but none the less it’s distracting and took me out of the movie a little. Also as I did read a comic just before the movie I was curious to see how they would do Rocket (the raccoon, who yes is named after the Beatles song). I don’t think Rocket is done quite right, he is supposed to be meaner and more bloodthirsty than is shown here, this is possibly a limitation of a PG-13 movie.

Back to the positive, Stan Lee’s cameo is here of course (and it’s a really funny one) and I though the smaller roles of people like John C. Reily and Glen Close were utilized well. There are some great 80s references and some excellent action scenes. I have to say Groot was fantastic. For a character who only ever has one line they did him perfectly, the interactions between Groot and Rocket are some of the funniest and most clever parts of the film.

Final Thoughts:

If you’re any kind of geek or just simply a fan of great action/comedies you NEED to see this movie. I am hoping to see it twice I enjoyed it that much. Marvel has shown they can literally take an unknown comic and turn it into an excellent movie franchise (2 is coming of course). Bring on Dr. Strange and Ant Man! (and another movie I won’t spoil the name of that is hinted at for the final scene). So I give this a very strong recommendation, it’s probably the best movie I’ve seen this year, 8.5/10. Once more not recommended for small children. Let’s hope Sin City 2 can be half as good. Until next time, have a great weekend everyone!

Movie Review: Lucy

Details from IMDB:

Lucy

Lucy (I) (2014)

90 min  -  Action | Sci-Fi  -  25 July 2014 (USA)

Ratings: 6.6/10 from 13,413 users   Metascore: 61/100
Reviews: 159 user | 12 critic | 40 from Metacritic.com

A woman, accidentally caught in a dark deal, turns the tables on her captors and transforms into a merciless warrior evolved beyond human logic.

Director:

Luc Besson

Writer:

Luc Besson

Stars:

Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman, Min-sik Choi | See full cast and crew »

Initial Thoughts:

As much as I love a movie with Scar Jo in it I’ll admit this time I was trying to see Guardians (and it was sold out of course) so we ended up seeing this. Still with Morgan Freeman and an interesting preview I was looking forward to seeing it none the less.

Main Points:

The movie presents lots of interesting ideas about human nature, society, greed, science and of course the potential of the human brain. Scar Jo plays Lucy (who coincidentally is the name of the first female, I’ve seen her bones in NYC, I’m kidding I know it’s not by accident in the movie.) and she is unwittingly brought into a drug smuggling operation and then given amazing abilities because of a drug that gets into her system.

Scar Jo does her best with the movie and her progression (though very fast) is enjoyable to watch. As her brain comes closer to using 100% of it’s power she loses all human emotion and eventually becomes a being of pure intellect, logic and energy. There are some amazing special effects and the film does make you think about what we have accomplished as humans and what we are capable of (if we don’t destroy ourselves first). The point is clearly made about what we have done to the environment and how we have wiped out not just people’s homelands, culture  and even entire races but how animals that should be plentiful are no nearing extinction (or are extinct entirely). The film has a clever way of using clips from nature, animals and history to show what is going on and what will happen in a scene.

I think the issues with the movie come with the speed at which everything happens and very poor decision by a bad guy at the end. Normally I like movies that move along quickly but everyone involved accepts so quickly that Lucy is truly the next step in human evolution and everything she has must be done. I think the movie could have used a little more time to explain things and make people’s actions a little more believable.

Final Thoughts:

I enjoyed the action, special effects and messages of the movie but I found the story got rushed and sometimes convoluted. Oh I should say

SPOILER ALERT!

So at the end the drug kingpin that she robbed this super drug from (and stabbed him in both hands pinning him to a chair) finally gets his chance to kill her. Instead of taking a shot (he’d been shooting plenty in the hallway just previously mind you) he instead decides to walk right up to her to shoot her point blank, really? Did they have to do such an overdone conclusion? I know it was to build tension as Lucy was literally uploading to the next level (you can literally see her whole body going dark as it rises from her feet) but it just made no sense. Anyone who hated a woman that much and had no trouble killing would have unloaded as soon as he got in the room, he would maybe have saved the last bullet to make certain but this way just seemed silly. Anyway despite all this I enjoyed the movie, I give it 6.5 out of 10. If you love Scar Jo (or Morgan Freeman who’s good here too) it’s worth a look, just maybe after you see Guardian (I should get to it hopefully this weekend). So I recommend it, just with reservations noted and of course not for children. Have a great weekend all!

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