Saturday, August 8, 2015

Holden foils the moth invasion

One night, standing near the diabolical Cone Man,

Click an image to see a larger version.

I thought I heard whispers.  No matter how closely I listened, however, I could not be sure if what I was hearing was the words, "Yes, my pretties," all drawn out, or the breeze playing in the night.

The sounds vanished as I drew closer to the house, where I found this giant yellow moth hanging by the front door.

The ways of the Cone Man are devious and dastardly, so I shooed away the moth, went inside, and thought little more about it.

Until the next night, when this green giant now perched by the door, waiting to do only Cone Man knows what evil.

Clearly, it was time to call Holden, vanquisher of Cone Man plots and dog extraordinaire.  

After a long squirt in the neighborhood of the Cone Man and a chat I could not make out, he began a vigorous conversation with the green giant.

After much head wagging and backing and forthing, Holden pronounced the threat over.

We have not seen the giant moths since then.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Three perspectives on Ant-Man

How you react to this movie will depend a lot on how seriously you want to take it.  Consider these options.

1) Ant-Man as fun ride

With a brisk pace, a good sense of humor about itself, a competent cast, and a ton of action, the movie will entertain you and leave you happy you've given it a couple of hours of your life.

2) Ant-Man as an exercise in scientific stupidity

Nothing about this movie makes any sense.  The physics involved is laughable at every stage, and when the hero faces his greatest trap, he escapes with an obvious bit of scientific magic.  If you let your brain engage at all, you'll be enraged.

3) Ant-Man as purveyor of a trope we should kill

The movie's name and existence are predicated on a trope that does no one any good and that is actively insulting to women:  the qualified and competent woman trains the unqualified and incompetent man to do a job she should have had all along.  Evangeline Lilly should have starred in a Wasp film.

Which reaction was mine?

All three.

I had a genuinely good time watching it.  I enjoyed it a lot and came out happy.

I also had to never let myself think about the science or the fact that the movie should have starred Evangeline Lilly.  Afterward, I could not help but consider these flaws.  Sadly, they appear in so many movies that I find myself routinely accepting them, something which is also disturbing.

On balance, I recommend Ant-Man as a way to have a fun two hours, provided you're willing to put up with these huge flaws.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Mr. Holmes

From the moment I first saw the trailer for this story of an aging, retired Sherlock Holmes, I knew I had to go see it.  From the instant Ian McKellen appeared on the screen, I was captivated.  Though the shape of its plot was obvious, I remained entranced until the credits rolled.  I loved this movie.

Which is not to say that Mr. Holmes is always an easy film to watch.  Witnessing the mental decay of a character I've loved since early childhood was frequently painful.  The thoughts of mortality the story inevitably summoned were not pleasant to contemplate.  Even though I expected everything to work out in the end, because that's what usually happens in movies these days, the film did a good job of raising my concern and keeping me tense.

I still loved it.

McKellen's performance was, of course, one of the biggest causes of my affection.  He can say more with minute facial movements than many actors can manage with five-minute monologues.  After the movie ended, I felt privileged to have witnessed his performance.  The rest of the cast was uniformly strong, though as fitted a film about the great Holmes, all of the other characters took a back seat to him.

The story also delivered all that it should:  a nicely intertwined main plot of Holmes grappling with his loss of mental acuity, and the mystery he is seeking to resolve--if only he could remember.

The less background you bring to this film, the better; just settle in and let it work its magic.  In a summer of big, loud movies--movies I generally love--this is a small, quiet film that grabbed a big place in my heart.

Do not miss this one.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation

is exactly what it should be:  big, action-packed, frequently dumb, Mission: Impossible-style fun.  It starts fast, stays fast, and does the nice turn of dispensing with the scene its trailers most over-used--Tom Cruise hanging onto the plane--in its first few minutes.

As always, Cruise dominates the action and the film itself, but Simon Pegg, whose role is larger than ever, helps balance the movie.  Rebecca Ferguson did a solid turn as the woman who might be with them or might be an enemy.  The rest of the usual cast all turned in good performances.

Films in this franchise are at their weakest when they slow the pace and examine the inner lives of its characters.  At those moments, the movies typically sag to nearly the breaking point.  Rogue Nation never enters that danger zone and instead just keeps on moving.  It's the right choice for this film.

I had a fine time watching it.

Of course, you can't think too hard about the plot or the stunts, but you know that's the case when you walk into the theater.  No problem.  Some of the lines, particularly a late-in-the-film Alec Baldwin monolog about Ethan Hunt (Cruise), are laughable, but mostly they speed by so quickly that you don't have time to feel the pain.

If you enjoy this kind of movie--and you know I do--go see Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

eARCs of Onward, Drake! are available now!

The eARC, or electronic Advanced Reading Copy, is, to the best of my knowledge, an invention of Jim Baen.  Advance Reading Copies (ARCs) are uncorrected, either unedited or not fully edited, limited-run, cheaply printed versions of books.  Publishers have produced them for ages and sent them to reviewers so that reviews of books could appear at the same times as the books themselves.  When Jim took Baen Books into the ebook business, readers started asking an obvious question:  given that you have the book in electronic form well ahead of official publication, why won't you sell us that form?  Jim did what, in my opinion, any sensible businessperson would do:  he took their money.

Thus was born the eARC.

Baen sells eARCs for $15, which is more than the cost of the final, edited ebook.  So, why would anyone pay more to get an unedited version?

Bragging rights:  you will have read the book months before others.

The chance to see the book as the author delivered it; others will see only the final edited version.

Indulging your completist side:  if you want all the states of a book, you'll definitely want this one.

eARCs clearly aren't for everyone, but they are for some.

Oh, yeah, lest I forgot to answer in advance a question I've heard before:  Of course Baen pays authors royalties on eARCs.  Baen, like any reputable publisher, naturally pays royalties on print and electronic versions of books.

Which finally brings me to this book, which I created, edited, and am quite happy with:  Onward, Drake!

For the low, low price of fifteen bucks, you can go to this page on and purchase the eARC in every major ebook format--with no DRM, and no restrictions on where or how you read the ebook.  You buy the ebook, you get all the formats.  Period.

Wouldn't you like to be among the first to read Dave's new Hammer's Slammers story?  My story?  All the other great pieces in the book?

Sure you would.

So, buy and read this eARC, order the signed limited leatherbound edition (you gotta have that, just for Dave's signature and its limited nature), and pick up the regular hardbound version--a handsome item all on its own--for loaning to your (trusted) friends.

Monday, August 3, 2015

My spam says I need help

as you can clearly see in this screen shot of roughly six hours of spam from yesterday.

(Click the image to see a larger version.)

The good news is that my spam wants to help me get a new car, new windows, new electronics, and some Amazon points.

The bad news is that my spam is convinced I am suffering from all of the following:
  • hearing loss
  • low testosterone
  • fatness (true)
  • memory loss
and multiple other ailments.

At least this batch of spam did not accuse me of having any STDs, as many other recent batches have.

Spam should make you want to click on something.  The spammers who developed these messages clearly missed that point.  Nothing here was tempting--something for which I suppose I should be grateful.  I just have trouble with incompetence in any area.

I continue to want a better class of spam.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Rowdy Roddy Piper, R.I.P.

I grew up watching professional wrestling whenever I could sneak the time at the television.  I continued to watch it on and off for many years.  I knew it was fake by the time I was ten, but for some reason I still enjoyed the spectacle.  In 1980, I discovered Rowdy Roddy Piper and followed his exploits for many years.  Friday, at the age of 61--only a year older than I am, Piper died.

Piper appealed to many people because he made up in wit and insane behavior what he lacked in musculature.  He was rarely the more imposing man in a match, and as steroid use intensified and wrestlers grew bigger and bigger, Piper stayed relatively the same size.  Despite never being the physically most impressive athlete, he managed to become one of the all-time greatest wrestling villains--and also remained surprisingly likable for most fans.

Piper came from a legitimate athletic background.  He was a Golden Gloves boxing champion and a judo black belt (from Gene LeBell).

Ronda Rousey borrowed her nickname, "Rowdy," from Piper, with his permission, and dedicated last night's fight to him.

I'm sorry to see him die so young.


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