Monthly Archives: December 2011

The Hobbit Trailer Review, Fueled by NerdRage

The One True Hobbit.

I watched the trailer for The Hobbit yesterday. It was all over my Facebook feed, since many of my friends are hardcore nerds like me. The people who posted about it were excited and seemed to really like it. I was apprehensive. I’d seen some stills of the dwarves before, and I wasn’t particularly wowed by them. It looked like someone had set up a Glamour Shots in the Shire’s newest mini-mall. But I was still somewhat hopeful, but I have to admit that most of my dreams of a great adaptation of one of my favorite books went bye-bye when I learned that Peter Jackson was behind it.

Blasphemy! you say. Peter Jackson made the most awesomest wickedest LOTR films ever! He brought them to a mainstream audience! HE IS OUR NEW GEORGE LUCAS!

Read the rest of this entry

Write What You Feel

(Disclaimer: like all my blog posts, this was written off the top of my head. I have no idea if it makes sense. In all actuality, I should put this disclaimer before everything I write.)

One of the first pieces of advice every aspiring writer gets, shortly after the obligatory “Show, don’t tell”, is this: “Write What You Know”. It’s good advice, in a way. Writing what you know allows you to bring depth and experience to a subject and makes your words ring true to a reader’s ear. If you’re a lawyer, chances are you can make courtroom drama and backstage legal wranglings seem like a peek into a world few get an accurate glimpse into. This can help make your story a lot more gripping and interesting. It also leads to some really shallow stories.

Take John Grisham. I’ve read his stuff before, back in the day when I was in high school. The whole lawyerly angle was cool and neat and nifty, especially since I was fifteen. As the years went by, though, I became acutely aware that, while the legal angles seemed perfectly plausible, the characters didn’t. Everyone looked and acted like cardboard cutouts or archetypical stock characters from every cop show since Dragnet. Identifying with characters is a huge part of investing in a story, and it’s not easy to feel empathy for a mannequin. A lot of authors follow this same path. The ex-cop with the crime stories. The doctor with the medical dramas. Most of these have all the heart and soul of a Wal-Mart holiday display.

But the best ones, the ones that resonate, aren’t just about what the author knows. They are about what the author feels.

Read the rest of this entry


My first encounter with Christopher Hitchens was when I read a piece of his on Slate, a left-leaning website I browsed because it tended to concur with my own opinions. It was shortly after the attacks on September 11th, and during the run-up to the possibility of war in Iraq. I was against the idea of the war for many reasons: one, because it was an attack on those who weren’t responsible for the attacks on U.S. soil, two, because it put our soldiers at risk, but most importantly for the third reason, which was that I didn’t think our country had a plan for what to do after the inevitable victory against the Iraqi armed forces. I was convinced we would be involved in a long period of nation-building, a morass with no end and no tangible sign of Victory in sight. Most of the pieces in Slate agreed with my own opinion, which is of course why I read it, because nothing makes us feel quite so smart as reading words which we already believe.

Read the rest of this entry

Skyrim: A Rambling Review

I really wanted to love Skyrim, the latest in the Elder Scrolls series. From the moment I started hearing about it on X-Play, The Most Watched Video Game On Television (as well as The Only Video Game Show on Television), I wanted to own it, snuggle up with, make it my own. I’d played plenty of Morrowind and Oblivion, although I never even came close to finishing the main storyline in either. But a lot has changed for me in gaming since Oblivion came out, not least of which the fact that I’ve stopped playing PC games over the last couple of years and have almost exclusively gone to the XBox 360. I did worry a bit about the transition, especially since the default character models in Oblivion were such total and complete ass that it made a gorgeous video game into a trip to Wal-Mart at 3 a.m. The advantage of the PC version was that you could download mods that changed the way characters looked. On the XBox, there is no chance for that. I wasn’t going to let it stop me.

The closer to release it came, the more I heard about its epic awesomeness. I didn’t get it at release, since I was trying (and failing) to finish a novel in November, plus I have editing to do on The Storm of Northreach and was afraid of a timesink. It seemed like every fantasy fan I knew was playing it. I heard about it on Facebook. My friends talked about it. My expectations and hopes were raised to a level that it would’ve been nearly impossible to meet them. My awesomely wonderful wife bought me a copy a couple of weeks ago, and that became the moment: could it possibly live up to it?

Read the rest of this entry

My Day As A Crackhead, In Photos

I wrote a while ago about playing Crackhead For a Day as part of a law-enforcement training program run by the fine folks of Center Mass Combat Tactics. Now that my failed foray into NaNoWriMo is over, and I don’t particularly feel like doing various reconciliations of various dollar amounts in various categories, I am pleased to present to you some pictures of the event.

Read the rest of this entry

Well, At Least They Found Sophia: Walking Dead S2 Ep 7

OK. I have to admit, I was a bit surprised by the turn of events from the mid-season finale (and when the hell did this trend start? I don’t remember shows doing this before. Is it just me, or did this crap just start happening a couple years ago? Or am I just dumb?). I fully expected more talky-talky and then Shane doing something reprehensible and getting his macho mug blown off. What we got instead was definitely more interesting.

It’s funny, because the last half of the show made me forget about the first half. I’m trying to remember what went on then. Much of it was pointless, of course, but that’s to be expected by now. Let’s see. Dale makes Glenn tell the group about the barn, because that’s how Dale operates. Instead of helping the kid out so that he can try to keep Maggie from melting down, Dale keeps his role as Group Cockblocker by not claiming he found out about the barn. Maggie, using her Female Telepathy that all women have, knows exactly what is going on from 150 yards away and gets pissed. Everyone in Glenn’s group gets all pissed off at the idea of zombies in the barn. In general, this episode is about being pissed off.

Read the rest of this entry