Tusk (Movie Review)

This is a movie with the unlikely premise that an insane killer is trying to turn a man into a Walrus. The main character, Wallace Bryton, is an obnoxious co-host of a blog radio program. The program is referred to as the “Not-See” show (to sound like Nazi) since you can “not see” a radio show. The title should give you an idea of how low the humor is for this fictional blog radio show. The show is intended to be shocking and filled with adolescent humor.

The main character is a flawed man. He cheats on his girlfriend and makes fun of people for entertainment. He is indeed obnoxious. Although, not nearly hate-able enough to go through what he has to in this movie. He is childish and immature but not evil.

He meets an old man in Northern Canada, Mr. Howe, who claims to have interesting stories to tell. The best part of this movie are the interesting tales he tells. It would have been a better movie if he spent more time telling these stories. One story he tells is about being rescued by a walrus.

Wallace is drugged by Mr. Howe and his body is mutilated to closer resemble that of a walrus. Yes, I would normally say,”spoiler alert” but this movie is not one for surprises. This portion of the movie is disturbing but not overly graphic.

At one point Mr. Howe lies and tells Wallace that he removed one of his legs because of a spider bite. He also claims a doctor came to visit. These lies makes the viewer question if he had lied about other things. Did he lie about being abused as a child or being rescued by a walrus to begin with?

I didn’t realize until after the film that Johnny Depp played the out of work detective,Guy Lapointe. He was unrecognizable in the roll. This character was almost as mentally disturbed as, Howard Howe, the madman who tried to turn Wallace into a Walrus.

This movie is a mix between, Fargo, Misery, and  Freaks. Yet, it does not rise to that level of excellence. Well, maybe it was on par with Freaks. It was disturbing and funny at times. It had good moments but was not great.

The acting as a whole was generally compelling and the premise was somewhat funny and scary at the same time. If you have seen the trailer then this movie does not provided a lot of surprises. All in all it was not a terrible flick. The Halloween movie season is slow in getting started so it might not be a bad bet.

Conflict and Hate

The Fraternity of the Soul Eater concerns the concept of the rebirth of an Ancient Egyptian society within America. What led to the fall of the great Ancient Egyptian society? There are some who attribute the fall to changing climate conditions that caused droughts in much of the area. War ultimately caused the fall of Ancient Egypt.

Certainly global warming is likely to impact weather conditions throughout the world. There are plenty of wars in the world. The turmoil in Africa and the Middle East as well as drug wars within North America war. Russian is no longer a sleeping giant but is awake and willing to have an impact on world politics even if the result is war in Eastern Europe. On top of that given that Israel is a nuclear power and Iran is actively arming Hamas it is conceivable that World War III could start in our lifetime.

When we add to that Ebola and bacteria that is resistant to antibiotics it is conceivable that the world could end without the help of war. I am further disturbed by mutations within nature. The unexpected increase in populations of some creatures and the disappearance of others. It seems every few weeks a strange colored mutant lobster is pulled from the sea.

There are other signs of course, “Pulp Fiction” did not win  an Oscar for best picture. They make cappuccino flavored potato chips and chocolate flavored toothpaste. Bob Dylan’s music has been used to sell soft drinks, cars and lingerie.

Yes, the idea of a New Dynasty does not seem so far fetched. I don’t think it will be like Ancient Egypt as envisioned in the Fraternity of the Soul Eater. Yet, I don’t think it will look the same as it does today or did after the second world war. Certainly China and India will have a bigger role to play. I would suspect things in the Middle East will get worse before they get better.

Will the changes be a result of fighting over limited resources or fighting over nothing in the form of some type of modern holy war? I don’t know what is next but I suspect there will be more turmoil in the next twenty years than in the last twenty years.

I have always assumed people are people and want the same things. That all people want their children to live in a safe place and have the resources they need to meet their potential. If this proposition is not true than the prospects for the future are bleak.

When I see people filming a man being beheaded on the internet it does make me questions that theory. It is possible I don’t understand people at all. That people who have any love for humanity can’t commit such an atrocity and fit under my general belief that people are essentially the same. If some people are evil than the likelihood of a world at peace is greatly diminished.

It is hard to write fiction because sometimes the truth of the world around me slips into my pages. The world needs healing but it wont come from governments. It must come from individuals. Until we love our children more than we hate our enemies the world will never know peace.

That being said as long as we have good books, decent movies and plenty of snacks in the pantry our lives wont be a total loss. We may not be able to stop global warming or end war but we can be kind to one another.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summer Horror Flicks 2014

In the winter we have the movies trying to appeal to the award shows. We have the summer superhero and action star blockbusters. It seems like a long wait for the  horror movies of the fall. So lets look at some of the summer horror movies with some potential.

The first is a movie called “Squirrels”.  The teaser trailer (see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7U2aVUAqPI&feature=kp) looks great. The concept of killer squirrels certainly has my attention. The warning on the poster, “Hold on to your nuts” seems ominous. It is certainly on my list of movies I want to see.

The Purge 2 is also on my list. The concept of twelve hours of lawlessness seemed interesting and caused me to see the original movie. The Purge was good but not great. To expand the idea beyond a single house and family has real potential. It is a good concept. I would like to see where it goes. This is another movie for my list (see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yaoh3PqHG7Ie:)

“Deliver Us From Evil” looks like another potential must see. It centers around a big city cop investigating, demon possession and the occult. As you can tell if you read “Cocaine Zombies” voodoo and the occult are fun for big cites as well as small towns. I like the almost claustrophobic feel of a big city like New York hiding the intimate danger of the supernatural. I have high hopes. It sounds like it might be similar to “The Believers”.

“The Green Inferno” is also on my list. It is directed by Eli Roth who brought us “Hostel” and is apparently loosely based on an Italian film called “Cannibal Holocaust” (I never saw it). The Amazon seems like a great backdrop for horror.The idea is that a group of Americans go to the Amazon to save the rain forests and are captured by a dangerous and sadistic tribe. The tag line, “No good deed goes unpunished” is also compelling.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B6fyb8vW6Y8

The final movie is “The Sacrament”. It appears there is some type of religious cult with something to hide. A news team goes to visit the cult and discovers there is more than it would at first appear. I am on the fence with this one but it does have some potential.

I have not seen any of these movies yet. If they are awful please don’t blame me. That being said I have high hopes at least one of them will be great. I must admit the squirrel movie has me the most intrigued. I did not see a release date posted on line so I hope it really does come out this summer. I have spent enough time watching the bird feeder to be afraid. I decided to forgo the spinning squirrel proof feeders just in-case they are plotting vengeance. Based on numbers I believe we are more likely to see squirrels take over the world than apes. That being said the new Planet of the Apes movie looks good as well. I believe if you tap on the word teaser trailer it should give you the trailer for Squirrels if not google it, you wont be disapointed.  Teaser Trailer

 

 

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John James Audubon – Naturalist, Murder or Both

I knew who Audubon was. He lived from 1785-1851 and wrote the definitive book on American Birds, The Birds of America (Published in 1827). First editions often sell in the millions of dollars. What I did not know was that he killed the birds he painted. He would go bird watching with a shotgun by his side.

This absolutely fascinates me because it fits in so well with the themes of death and Ancient Egypt in my newest book, Fraternity of the Soul Eater. It is the idea that destroying something beautiful to create a more lasting beauty is alright. It is the idea that death can trump life.

This is an idea that I am struggling with. In the middle ages people were starving. Yet, the church spent money creating art rather then using the money to feed people. Was that the right thing to do? The paintings and sculptures exist to this day. Is that not choosing art over life? Is that a reasonable trade off?

If the answer is “no” then take a look at your life. When was the last time you bought a car? You could have bought a less expensive one or kept the old one longer. Instead of buying a car you could have provided money to a charity to feed the poor. You could have saved lives. Every day we spend money that could be donated. If you went to McDonald’s instead of out for Sushi you could have used the money you saved to feed the poor. Is that being overly harsh? Should we live in poverty for the sake of others?

How do we value life? If someone dies in a third world country does their life have less value than someone in Europe or America. Is there a greater or lessor potential for their life to make a difference.

I am not a philosopher. I don’t have the answers. Yet, either directly or indirectly we are making life or death decisions by our action or our inaction. We do so on a daily basis.

Audubon preserved the image of a number of birds that are extinct at this time. There is lasting value to doing so. I should note one of the birds was the passenger pigeon. I mentioned in an earlier blog that they are trying to bring back the passenger pigeon from extinction using old DNA see http://longnow.org/revive/passenger-pigeon-workshop/. I know nothing about the charity. Yet the idea seems cool.

I am not trying to bring people down or take away from their enjoyment. I am only pointing out that everything we do or don’t do could have an impact on others. I have little doubt Audubon’s efforts have saved far more birds than the number he shot to make his book. It is just food for thought. Speaking of food I wouldn’t mind some fried chicken.

FREE COCAINE ZOMBIES!

What can be more exciting than a book about drugs, black magic and murder? The same book for free. You can get Cocaine Zombies free on Kindle March 17-19. Yes, you can enjoy all the same blood , humor and dismemberment others paid for but only for a few days.

This seems like an offer that is too good to be true. Yet, it is true. I can’t image the lines if McDonald’s gave away Big Macs for free. You can get food for the mind for nothing.

Ok, I am done channeling Billy Mays or that Australian dude. Yet, if you were considering reading Cocaine Zombies but just were not sure if you should, this is a risk free opportunity. Also, if you are reading Ruler of Demons why not take a look at where the whole thing began.

 

 

Immortality

I spoke about the world’s fascination with Ancient Egypt in my last blog. I did not talk about why we are so fascinated with a culture from so long ago. Why are these myths and images so enduring? Stephen Gardiner a famous architect said, “In Egypt the living were subordinate to the dead.” Perhaps this obsession with death and immortality is the answer.

There are certain people whose names remain a part of our culture and group conversation long after their death. In England kings and queens are remembered by citizens as well as historians. The period of their reign is referred to by name. A piece of furniture may have been made in the  “Victorian” period or the “Georgian” period. Elvis was remembered well after his death as “the King of Rock and Roll”. George Washington is remembered as “the father of our country”.

We remember the names of of famous people for their accomplishments. The accomplishments may be minor or major. Arnold Palmer mixed lemonade and tea (although, I doubt he was the first to do so). Edison invented…well a lot of stuff. Tesla also did a lot with electricity but did not have the fame of Edison. Although the car brand is certainly bringing his name back into the vernacular.

Who is remembered sometimes has less to do with their accomplishments than the perception of those accomplishments. I have little doubt more people are familiar with Brittany Spears than Julies Oppenheimer. Also, the first to do something is more memorable than the second. I am sure more people can identify Neil Armstrong than Buzz Aldrin.

Does it matter if your name is remembered?  It is more important that something you did  is remembered? Not, anything about you but something important. I know Elvis liked peanut butter and banana sandwiches. I know nothing of his character or his essential nature. I know Arnold Palmer liked lemonade and tea and played golf. Again, that tells me little about him as a person. I know even less about kings and queens. Their images were crafted by the people of the time for purposes often unrelated to reality. Politics rather than truth framed the understanding of who they were.

We remember the names of plenty of people for negative reasons. I can remember the names of Charles Manson and Jeffery Dahmer. Have they succeeded in some form of immortality? To become infamous is hardly a legacy worth preserving.

When I die I suspect my family will  be impacted. They will know to some degree who I am and what I believed in. They can read my books and go through my possessions and talk to people I have known. Yet, like a game of telephone with each generation the image of who I was will be less accurate. In truth it is unlikely anyone will care about who I am past my children or if I am lucky my grandchildren.

That is part of our obsession with the Ancient Egyptians. They believed in immortality, a world beyond death. Perhaps, this is the appeal of all religions, the promise of things to come after we are dead. Yet, in Ancient Egypt it was not “ashes to ashes and dust to dust”. In fact you could take it with you.

In many ways we know more about King Tutankhamun’s life than we know about Elvis’s or Edison’s. Yet, King Tut died well over a thousand years before Jesus was born. We have a golden mask of his face so we can see what he looked like. We can look at his mummy and know his height and have a general idea of the condition of his health. We know about his family and advisers. By examining the writings and contents of his tomb we know about his way of life.

I don’t claim to have the answers about what will come of us when we die. Yet, King Tut has come as close to immortality as there is within the the collective conscious. The fascination with Ancient Egypt does not seem to have slowed down. When I look at movies like, Stargate or videos like Katy Perry’s Darkhorse or books like The Fraternity of the Soul Eater it is hard to believe we will ever forget this ancient civilization.

 

The Fraternity of the Soul Eater

I have completed the first draft of The Fraternity of the Soul Eater. Yes, I bring back some familiar and hopefully likeable friends. Sam, Bob and Susan will all be in attendance. Yet, Sam in some ways has changed. The question is if that change is for the better? He must do some soul searching he must wrestle with his destiny. Sam has faced the forces of evil in the past but had little choice but to engage them. This book explores his mental state. For the first time Sam has a choice. Will Sam fight the forces of darkness or run from danger in order to return to his old life?

Susan has also changed. She has to decide if she can live with a man who is surrounded by dark forces. Is her desire for a normal life greater than her love for Sam. She must also grapple with her own feelings about engaging in a battle against evil.

Bob is Bob, and is in some ways more stable than any of the other characters. The events in recent years have shaped him and changed him in some ways. Yet, he is  not changed at the same fundamental level as Sam. Bob is willing to believe in the unbelievable. He remains by Sam’s side despite the danger and horror. It seems as though he will for the rest of his life. Bob is defined by his loyalty. Bob is in some ways more mentally stable than Sam or Susan because he can accept things that they still struggle with.

In The Fraternity of the Soul Eater the story goes back to the times of Ancient Egypt. Yet, it has a modern and scientific aspects as well. It takes place mainly on the campus of the University of Illinois.

Is it possible a fraternity created in the 1920’s has been sacrificing innocent people to feed ancient deities. Is it possible that there is power hidden in the hieroglyphs of ancient tombs and temples? The book digs into these questions like an archeologist digs through the earth.

I am fascinated by Ancient Egypt. Looking at the Museums and the number of tourists who visit Egypt each year so are a lot of other people. Ancient Egypt is a subject that feeds the imagination.

America and Europe had a couple of periods of style known as  the “Egyptian Revival” period. If you look at some of the Victorian silver it is not uncommon to see scarabs and ankhs. This was a time where English Archeologists were discovering tombs in Egypt.

In the 1920’s there was another “Egyptian Revival”  (sometimes the term “Egyptian Deco” is used) when the tomb of King Tutankhamun was discovered in 1922.  Again in the 1920’s and 1930’s it is not uncommon to see Egyptian designs in furniture and silver.

The fascination with Egyptology seems to reawaken each time King Tut visits America and I hope this book also helps reawakens that fascination. Mummies and ancient curses are only a small part of this book. It also concerns the mythology of an ancient people.

I don’t want to say much more for fear of giving too much away. I will say the first draft is done. I hope to finish soon. It may take longer than I would like because I wrote the first draft by hand on a huge sheet of papyrus. I am just kidding.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Time, Karma, and Fiction

Bill Cosby said, “The past is a ghost, and the future a dream and all we have is now.”. Bob Dylan came to a similar conclusion when he sang, “Yesterday’s just a memory
Tomorrow is never what it’s supposed to be…”. William Faulkner said, ” “It’s all now you see: tomorrow began yesterday and yesterday won’t be over until tomorrow.”  In life the past, seen through the eyes of the present, isn’t what it was. The future is unknown.

There is the idea ofKarma”. The concept that positive or negative actions in the present can impact the future. Thus, good things should follow good people and bad things bad people. Yet, it is clear some people will do good things and get hit by a bus. Others will do bad things and be rewarded with fame and fortune.

Yet, in fiction an author controls the past, present and future. Thus, the author can seek out justice or turn it on it’s head. Sometimes life is without justice. The poor and disenfranchised rarely have happy endings.Yet, in fiction justice can be created at the whim of the author. At the same to so can sadness and cruelty.

Being an author gives you power to manipulate your world. You need not play by the rules. Sometimes the unexpected can be more fun. In Raider of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones is running through a bazaar when a man challenges Indiana to a sword fight. Indiana expectantly would have engaged him in sword play but instead turns around and shoots him. Not only is this funnier but it is more realistic and moves the story along.

The future should be consistent with the past as far as the attitudes and personality’s of the characters. The past can have a different impact on different people resulting in different futures. Perspective is also important to determine how a character will go through this world. Some people are strengthened and emboldened by adversity. Others are broken. The past shapes or future.

Yet, it is not what has happened but what the character takes away from it. In Wicked the Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West it paints a very different characters than in The Wizard of Oz.  In Wicked the witch has grown up with adversity and is a thoughtful caring person while Glenda is more vapid and concerned about her station in life. It is the perspective that makes the difference.

In my other life as an attorney I will sometimes write out a closing argument first. That way my evidence will follow my theory of the case. In writing a book it helps to start at the end and work backwards. Life would be a lot different if you were aware of how it would work out prior to engaging in some activity.  Yet, that being said life is not a means to an end. The journey through the unknown is part of the fun. It would ruin a book if you read the last chapter first. Yet, in writing a novel, it sure helps to know what will happen in the future.

Ruler of Demons Is Here!

Yes, after what seems to be an eternity Ruler of Demons is here for your reading pleasure. Just in time for your holiday shopping needs. Who’s eyes wouldn’t light up with a copy of Ruler of Demons in their stocking? The question is why should you buy it? I am providing a top ten list:

1. It takes place around the holidays so it makes a great gift for your secret Santa at work.

2. It is fun but also dark and macabre for those sick of It’s a Wonderful Life and A Charlie Brown Christmas.

3.  If you want to eat the book it tastes as good as a fruit cake (As a lawyer I feel the need to admonish readers that this is a joke. Please don’t eat my book or any other book unless it is the lifesavers in those fake cardboard books.)

4.  Parts of the book take place in Jerusalem and Paris. It is like going on vacation without the costs associated with it.

5.  It is good for you to read a book. Sure it may be disturbing but so are most of the video games out there.

6.  The book does not mention or contain photographs of Miley Cyrus or any of the Kardashians.

7.  No animals were harmed in the making of this book.

8.  When you are done reading you can rip out the pages and use them for wrapping paper (Martha Stewart eat your heart out).

9.  You can read the book and than re-gift it and no one will ever find out.

10. Since you can down load it onto your Kindle or Nook you can wait until the last second to buy it as a gift.

So order it at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and any fine retailer who might carry it. If they don’t tell them to get it.

Have a Happy Holiday from the author of Ruler of Demons.

 

 

American Music Awards (AMA) – American Writers Awards (AWA)

Yes, my life is dull. Yet, I have not yet been so bored as to watch the American Music Awards. That being said I did watch youtube performances by Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga and Katy Perry. To say the performances were a little over the top is like saying climbing Mount Everest is a bit of an opportunity to stretch ones legs.

Miley is an attractive young lady and given that she was damn near naked on stage I can’t help but question the need for a creepy kitten in the background. Other than any naughty innuendos one might have related to a cat I don’t get the point. I was equally vexed by Lady Gaga’s strange tribute to Monica Lewinsky or Ms. Perry’s reference to Geisha girls. I consider Geisha girls more akin to slavery than anything else.

I find it hard for an author to compete with the over the top world of entertainment. Even in the Hunger Games – Catching Fire, A fight to the death was not enough to entertain the masses. They needed fancy balls and crazy dresses. So if you are not as lucky as Suzanne Collins, and have your book turned into a movie, how does a writer compete?

Given that Ruler of Demons comes out December 15, 2013 I want to make a splash but am not sure how. The idea of the American Writers Awards comes to mind. I would be more than glad to put on my skimpiest outfit and have a digital lip syncing bunny on a screen behind me as I read a chapter. Dignity is so overrated. I know most writers are not as attractive as most performers but who cares. I lot of people are attracted to less than perfect lovers. After all what choice do we have? There aren’t a lot of people as attractive as movie stars, models and music devas to choose from. They aren’t even as attractive as themselves. After all they need makeup, sexy outfits and computer editing. I am sure with some special effects I could look a hell of a lot better than my author photograph.

Yet, as far as I know there is not an AWA. Well there is an American Wrestling Association and an American Watercraft Association but I am unaware of the American Writers Awards. If there is one I was not invited to their televised event. Yet, in an effort to sell more books on December 15, 2013 I intend to wear some bizarre outfit and allow the computer animated image of a fluffy animal to perform on screen behind me. Unless, you would like to spare me the indignity of having to do so. I could also spare you the indignity of your having to witness such a spectacle. You can avoid all the indignity by purchasing a copy of Ruler of Demons at Amazon or Barnes and Noble.