Sunday, June 25, 2006
Blade the Vampire Hunter
Since I grew up reading the Tomb of Dracula comics that Blade debuted in (with wooden throwing knives, not the arsenal he currently carries) and because I wrote the novelization of the first movie, I had to admit to being predisposed to SpikeTV's new summer series debuting Wednesday, June 28th at 9 central time. (You'll have to do the math on your own time zones.)
More than that, one of my good friends Sterling Gates moved out to La-La land in January (at the tender age of 23) after finishing up college and landed a job working on the series. Not only that, but the guys he's working with are David Goyer and Geoff Johns, two of the hottest comic book and movie writers around.
Sterling, just so you know and for the record, I'm proud of you. Not many people take the chance to go far and make a dream happen. You're one of the people I tell people about.
The series is supposed to last 13 episodes or so, and promises to be a kickbutt action event. I plan to be in front of the bigscreen with a big bowl of popcorn and my eight-year-old at my side. I love testosterone-driven TV when it's done right.
Saturday, June 24, 2006
Raising Your Kids On Superheroes
My wife's been out of town for four days at a teacher's conference in St. Louis. The day before she left, she didn't want to go. There were too many things around here that she hadn't gotten finished that she wanted to do.
Plus, I think she was afraid she was going to be homesick. It's the first time she's been away from us (and Chandler, our eight-year-old) that long. (Although she and Chandler went camping overnight last week and escaped me while I limped around with the foot injury. I didn't go. She told me they weren't going to do anything strenuous, then called early Saturday morning to say they were out hiking. See? I've been married to her long enough to know better.)
I told her to enjoy the trip. I try to take a trip once a year, especially when a publisher or convention is going to pay for it. Like I told Sherry, you get your own bed, your own TV, your own bathroom -- what's not to love?
Anyway, Shiloh, my seventeen-year-old, stays gone much of the time. He's umping at the ballpark and out with his buddies. He and I still do a lot together, but we just don't chase the same girls. : )
So I've been at home with Chandler. Thursday night we decided to watch movies, which we often do. He's the only one in the family who loves superheroes as much as I do. We've enjoyed the reincarnations of the Justice League, Batman the Animated Series, Superman, Teen Titans and Ben 10.
I believe in superheroes. We need them. As moral compasses, they give us ideals that are greater than most people might uncover in their lives if left alone. They point the way to generosity, sympathy, self-sacrifice and redemption -- as well as overcoming staggering odds. And they run around in really cool costumes.
By the way, at Halloween every year I usually dump over a hundred bucks buying superhero costumes for Chandler. He uses them all year long to run around in as playwear (it beats sending your kid outside dressed in Underroos!). His friends think it's cool. Just last week two of them were over and Sherry and I had three of the Fantastic Four running around in the back yard. I promise you, Evil was kept at bay and probably trembled in its boots!
Chandler and I went through our stash of comic book heroes on DVD (a collection that is truly not appreciated by anyone else in the house, although it does teach the others who live here a certain amount of tolerence). We found Batman Beyond. The series debuted in 1999 as a revamped Batman of the future designed to sell lots of cool new toys.
Terry McGuinness became the new Batman, operating under the auspices of a very old Bruce Wayne who had a heart condition and could no longer pull night patrol in a cape. The future is interesting, filled with Jokers who are a street gang, a Mr. Freeze taken out of cold storage (yes, that is a pun, and comic books do have them, so I blame them for this particular character flaw of mine), and retired past sidekicks Batman has had. And an interesting array of new supervillains with way cool powers.
Chandler and I fired up the first DVD, sat down with bowls of Spaghettios (I did mention my wife was out of town, right? We don't have to eat healthy!) and kicked it. We had a blast watching Terry learn how to be Batman, as well as the interplay between mentor and student. The music really drives the action and the writers wrote to move the story along, not to present material for the voice actors. The episodes are simple and good fun. Just the right stuff for a growing male mind. And probably for females too, but my one and only daughter never got into superheroes.
Shiloh, sadly, has outgrown superheroes (although he's looking forward to Superman Returns coming to a theater near you next week!). At least for now. But when he was five, he loved the original Batman the Animated Series. He would run around the house in Batman Underroos with a towel around his neck for hours, jumping off everything he could climb on (which is another argument for Halloween costumes and playing outside). The weirdest phase he got into was when he used to knock all his clothes off the bar in the closet and hang upside down -- like a bat.
I coach Chandler in baseball and basketball, and I take him to his martial arts practices (he just passed his stripe test and will be a purple belt next week!), but I don't often just get to be his buddy these days. There's just so much to do. But we're best of buds because we have interests that no one else has (no one went with us to see the latest Zorro movie -- which is a great film for superhero buffs, and no one went with us to see King Kong -- and there wasn't a superhero in the entire film but how can you pass up a trip to Skull Island?!).
We finished up the Batman Beyond season one last night and were just two happy kids kicking it in the living room floor with the surround sound system WAY TOO LOUD. Sherry takes Chandler to the zoo and other things that will enhance his education, and she plays video games with him way past my patience level, so she's the perfect little boy's mom.
But me -- I'm the one Chandler chooses to go on cosmic adventures with, talk about superpowers with, figures out who the strongest superhero is with and can use my imagination enough that my car isn't a car at all, but an intergalactic space cruiser equipped with ejection seats (DON'T TOUCH THAT BUTTON!) and death rays.
It's a good life! Zowie!
Sunday, June 18, 2006
Coming in January 2007!
I recently finished the first book based on the hit CBS television show and found the cover on Amazon (ain't that cover great?)
I thought maybe you might like to take a peek at it.
Sherry and I watch the show all the time. I have to really stay on my toes around her because she catches more clues than I do. And I'm the writer!
Without A Trace is one of the best character- and emotion-driven shows on television these days. If you're not watching it, you should be!
Saturday, June 17, 2006
Just a note to let anyone who's interested know that I'll be signing at Steve Byas' Book Store tomorrow, Saturday June 17th, from 1 pm to 3pm. The book store is located at 627 N. Broadway in the Sooner Shopping Center in Moore. The phone number is 799-5701.
I got back from the doctor today and found out I haven't broken my foot, but I did manage to tear my plantar faschia, the big group of tendons that wraps around the back of your ankle and anchors all your toes. It's what puts the "spring" in your step. As an added note, it is NOT fun to tear it. Feels like someone set your foot on fire! But it eventually swells to a really fantastic purple color.
Dr. Dean Ross has been taking care of me for a few years. I really enjoy my time with him. (Not the being sick or being hurt part, but the educational value that comes from getting a particularly virulent infection or cold, or an injury.) Dr. Ross takes time to answer my questions, and I always manage to have a few.
Where do you think those ideas for books come from?
Which begs the question, what's the most interesting injury or illness you've had?
And writers, which illnesses and injuries have you had that you've passed on to your characters?
Friday, June 16, 2006
The Closer Shuts Down Crime
I had a rough night tonight. In fact, I get to go to the doctor tomorrow and find out if I broke my foot. Having trouble walking on it now, and it's that kind of pain that feels like it's on fire.
So I took it a little easier after baseball practice tonight. My wife fixed dinner and we watched a few episodes of The Closer Season One.
The show came out last year and starred Kyra Sedgewick as Chief Brenda Johnson, a former CIA operative who's now working for the Los Angeles Police Department. The show is just now airing its second season on TNT.
If you haven't seen The Closer, I'd really suggest buying or renting the DVD set that came out last month. It comes with all 13 episodes from 2005, with not much in the way of extra features. However, the show is so good and the cast is so good, that the set is really worth the price of the purchase or rental if you're into cop shows.
As I've stated before, my wife doesn't much care for the bloodier or more violent shows. The Closer offers scintillating dialogue, realistic characters and situations, and great cases that actually are mysteries. Even the one with the ex-Marine sniper searching for his son who is killing Hispanic gang members in return for his wife's murder had a lost of mystery to it. But the series isn't big on blood or violence. They are mysteries, driven by curiosity and emotion.
Brenda Johnson is a complicated woman. She's there at the LAPD working for an ex-lover who wouldn't leave his wife even though he promised her he would. She struggles with her weight in a town known for beautiful women. She fights with her team, all of whom resent being stuck on her squad. She's strong enough to bust crime, but still manipulative enough to coax her father into buying her an expensive dress.
I love this show. The characters, the dialogue and the cases. They all work well. Get it. Watch it. Thank me.
Now I just gotta find out if my foot is broken.
Saturday, June 10, 2006
My wife, eight-year-old and I went to the movies last night. Chandler, the eight-year-old, read the Redhawks baseball schedule and thought the farm team for the Texas Rangers was in town tonight.
Unfortunately, they weren't. Still gotta work on that baseball schedule with him. (Now I've gotta recheck the handicapping he did for the horse races at Remington Park!)
So we ended up at the movies. We were out and about anyway. A quick call to my seventeen-year-old, who was catching up on his gossip on-line, gave us the movie times. My wife put the pedal to the metal and got us to the church -- er, theater -- on time.
We settled into air-conditioned comfort and watched Cars on its opening night. I have to admit, having a child is a free pass to kids' movies. Nobody looks at you strangely for going. If you're not a parent, God willing you're an uncle or an aunt so you'll catch the latest wave of great animated movies. (See? I don't even call them cartoons anymore!)
Set in a peopleless-world where cars are personified, Cars is absolutely delicious, a true work of digital magic that has heart and soul as well. But this has got to be the oldest story in the books, after that whole murder mystery thing of Cain slaying Abel. Owen Wilson stars as the voice of Lightning McQueen, the hotshot rookie car who's breaking all the records and looking at a true shot at the almighty Piston Cup. Unfortunately, he's an egotistical little snot who's just out for himself and doesn't care about anyone else.
As a result of pushing his truck too hard, too far, Lightning ends up tearing up the streets -- literally -- of downtown Radiator Springs, a town along fabulous Route 66 that got orphaned when Interstate 40 went through only a few miles away. Forced to make restitution on the damage he's done, Lightning struggles to build a new road. During his incarceration, he meets the other vehicles in town, finds a friend, finds a love, and finds the Hudson Hornet, the race car that took the racing world by storm in the 1950s. The Hudson Hornet is known as Doc these days, and the voice is provided by Paul Newman, offsetting Owen Wilson's personality perfectly.
Although predictable, the movie nonetheless delivers action and emotion. Sherry, Chandler and I were blown away by the antics of Lightning and Mater (voiced by Larry the Cable Guy) as they go tractor-tipping (cows/farms, tractors/farms, and ya kin snicker when ya say that pardner!).
Cars is an absolute blast. Take the kids if you have some. Borrow some if you don't. Pixar is filled with more magic than you'll find in a fairy's dusty tushie, and this feature is a prime example of that.
!! Be sure to stay around for the credit roll. There's a whole boatload of material you'll miss if you don't!!
This is one summer movie you'll have to see even if you just bite the bullet and go as an adult with no excuses. Git 'r done!
Thursday, June 08, 2006
Last night my eight-year-old and I watched a movie together. As you get to know me, you'll realize Chandler and I do a lot together. The other four older kids have gotten older, two of them have gotten married, and I'm no longer part of their play time. I relish my eight-year-old, and I better have grandchildren before he moves out! Otherwise I won't have anyone to sit on the floor with and watch Batman and Justice League and Ben 10 while wearing a towel tied around my neck. As a cape, you know.
Anyway, around midnight -- after Chandler and I created a game we called Roll-The-Baseball-By-The-Other-Guy-Into-The-Wall-And-Score-Points and got shut down by Mom because it got noiser and noiser (man! we get into more trouble when we're not properly supervised!) -- I popped Glory Road into the DVD player and we jumped back to 1965 when Coach Don Haskins, fresh from girls' high school basketball, moved to Texas Western University and started recruiting black college basketball players.
The movie, by Jerry Bruckheimer and crew, is an awesome experience. Not quite as good as Hoosiers with Gene Hackman and Dennis Hopper or Remember The Titans, the movie is totally entertaining and engrossing. Read my review at http://http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000EXZFCQ/002-9641997-7084059?colid=&coliid=&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;n=130 and be sure to vote if you like what you read.
During the movie, Chandler became concerned and then angry at the way the black players were being treated by many of the people. I had to pause the movie and, sadly, tell him that was how things used to be everywhere and that such thinking and meanness still exists in the world in some places -- but not our home. I lived through the 1960s and I saw a lot of what he was experiencing for the first time. I played high school basketball with black players. On Saturdays during college, I played pick-up games at the local gym, and sometimes I was the only white guy playing.
I've never had a problem with race. I've raised my kids not to.
A few years ago, I coached my seventeen-year-old's team at a Del City Salvation Army basketball league. We were the only white team there. I can remember how scared my fourteen-year-old boys were when they walked into that gym. But I kept them together. After two embarrassing losses (one of them 60 to 5) because they were so intimidated, they pulled it together. I taught them zone defense and how to play together as a team. Before the eight-game series was over, the boys had won two games.
More than that, my team -- my kids -- had won over the hearts of the parents of the other teams. Children four to eight years old came out to meet my kids after the games. Tyler, my center, put them on his shoulders so they could dunk the ball. They played, and the parents laughed and hung out and watched when I know it was late and they probably had a million things to do at home. I think those boys -- and my son -- learned a lot that winter, walked a mile in someone else's shoes. Hopefully it will be something that will never leave their hearts.
Chandler, my eight-year-old, is my last innocent. He still has Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and a world without prejudice. But I inadvertently brought it into my house with that movie. He hasn't seen Remember The Titans because he isn't interested in football. I coach him in baseball and basketball. To him baseball is okay, but he loves basketball. Through him I've learned an appreciation for soccer, which I never cared for but understand that he loves it.
So I talked to him last night and I told him that what he was seeing in the movie was at one time real, but that the world has changed. Some. It's up to everybody who cares about such things to keep it changing.
He felt bad for the players, and the movie was a little more heavy than the feel-good it should have been for him. In fact, the experience touched him so much that when Mom woke up this morning, he told her all about it. He didn't concentrate on the wins that those players had, but on the meanness they'd been treated to. He said it made him mad at his skin color. But I reminded him that it took skins of all colors to make the changes that we've made so far.
We just have to keep working at it.
Gena Showalter is one of the new young lionesses of contemporary romance, paranormal romance and YA. She's burst on the scene with a handful of books and as many worlds that beg exploration. When she's not mapping out a future where some aliens view humans as merely prey or traipsing through an Atlantis where magic is real and comes with shapeshifters who are always more than they seem, she's writing contemporary romances with a touch of wonder.
She's also no-holds barred when it comes to writing sizzling romance and blazing action. She takes no prisoners. Check out the cover of her latest novel, Enslave Me Sweetly, for a peek at what she does best.
Then hop on over to Gena's webpage (www.genashowalter.com) to find out more about her. Be sure to knock the embers off or you'll experience spontaneous combustion. Gena should come with warning labels: Hot, Sexy, and Dangerous.
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
Do you know a real-life heroine?
Nominate her for the Harlequin More Than Words award
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Last night, I took my eight-year-old son to a Redhawks baseball game in Bricktown, the revitalized section of downtown Oklahoma City. We with with a friend of mine and his family. Randy is one of the coaches on the nine-year-old team I coach and his son Alec plays catcher on the team. My son plays first base.
It's been a hard season for our team this year, filled with almosts and nearlys. Since we'd played in the wooden bat tournament the weekend before, Randy and I thought giving the team a night off from practice would be good. It probably was.
But sitting there in the stadium, watching the semi-pro guys play (they're the farm team for the Texas Rangers), I saw them strike out, fly out, ground out and make amazing plays. Just like our kids do. The Redhawks pulled out a 3-2 win against the Ohio Cubs, though. But, again, it was a game of almosts and maybes. It could just as easily gone the other way.
What I realized most about sitting there in the seats was that I was outside actually WATCHING the game, not COACHING it. I didn't have any responsibility. I was just a spectator with no vested interest. I didn't have to blame myself. I didn't have to make mental notes to work on at the next practice. I could enjoy myself. And did.
My son had an absolute blast watching the game. We talked about the plays, the speed the pitcher was throwing at (a couple at 98 miles an hour!), and the way the guys got out. I was surprised that my son enjoyed it so much. He didn't even chase after the team mascot, Rowdy, as much as normal (though he did score a couple autographed "objects," as he calls them, from Rowdy).
We sat through the whole game, and it was a squeaker. But somewhere in that feeling of pure enjoyment without the sense of responsibility, I made my peace with baseball for this season. The little league team isn't where I'd expected or hoped it would be, but we made some gains and some of the kids pulled off some astonishing plays and hit the long ball into outfield for the first time.
Baseball is absolutely the best sport, in my opinion, for a father and son to spend quality time together (or a husband and wife if both enjoy the game, or friends). There's enough downtime between innings to talk, and it's out in the open so you're getting a little sunlight and fresh air, and you can sing along with the songs you know and head-bob with the ones you don't.
My son has already scheduled a return trip this Friday. When his mom called from out-of-town (where she's getting ready to go for her National Boards Certification as a teacher), he let her know that we had plans for Friday. Thankfully, she loves baseball too (not at much as football, but she's coming around).
So remember, if you have a farm team in the neighborhood, maybe all you need to recharge the batteries and get a fresh perspective on your life for a little while is just a trip to the local ballfield. Get out there and give Blue a hard time if he's cutting the corners off the plate!
Sunday, June 04, 2006
My wife and I love watching mystery movies that have real mysteries. We'll kill an evening (yes, I deliberately chose that word) watching an episode of FOYLE'S WAR (I'll blog about that at a later date) or another BBC serving of homicidal sleight-of-hand, guessing throughout as to whodunit.
On a whim this weekend (ADHD, remember? My life is FILLED with whims), I saw a DVD on the shelves at Wal-Mart and picked up MYSTERY WOMAN: MYSTERY WEEKEND. Kellie Martin stars as Samantha Kinsey, who owns her own mystery book shop and has a passion for mysteries. Just can't get enough of them. As most of us who love mysteries are.
Normally, when left to my own devices, I prefer an evening with Robert B. Parker (although my wife and I agree that the SPENSER: FOR HIRE TV series was the bomb and wish they would all get released on DVD -- we do have the 4 movies but they just aren't the same) or Robert Crais. But for watching murder mysteries with my eagle-eyed wife who never misses a clue, I find myself throughly engrossed -- and challenged if not by the writer, then by my wife who will solve something in a heartbeat if I'm not on my toes -- in these movies.
The MYSTERY WOMAN movies series, if the other movies are as well-written and well-acted as this one, are excellent fare for those of you just wanting to kill an evening giving in to your Sherlock Holmes fantasies.
You can read my review of the movie at http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000EWBO7W/ref=cm_rv_thx_view/002-9641997-7084059?%5Fencoding=UTF8&v=glance&amp;amp;n=130
If you've got any favorite mystery movies (that are relatively bloodless and violence-free), let me know.
Okay, so I've heard a lot about blogging over the last few months. Seems like it's in the news all the time. I can look forward to attracting sexual deviants who hope I'm a minor child or get recruited by a terrorist cell.
Actually, I'm hoping to get to advance some ideas about writing (my wife and kids are tired of hearing about it, and I'm thinking doing extra chores just to get them to listen maybe isn't working out so well for me). Somewhere in there we'll talk about books I've read, am thinking about reading, or maybe should read. And there'll be talk of television and movies and video games.
I'm ADHD. Hard for me to stay on task. Even though I mean well.
So here goes the warning shot across the bows, people! Fair winds and following seas!